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Category — witchcraft

Skin Weaving

oh hello….November’s busyness claimed me, sorry I haven’t been around for a while. I was waiting to see what it would send my way, and I wasn’t disappointed. It has been really quite magical. Draw closer to the fire, I will tell you…..

If there is to be a midwoman initiation, then it may as well start at the beginning of a vast and untamed ocean, laid out before her. She will sit on a hard granite rock high up, with the cold blue singing to her at dawn and wonder about her life and the pathways that bought her to this place. She will honour this past, but will quietly know that the time to step out has come. An ancient mother, with eyes as sharp as a buzzard will sit by her, and she will know that her teacher is fierce and not to be trifled with. Her name is Twisted Braid.

Together they will journey inland, away from the blue, to the wild moor. It is the moor, after all, that holds their stories, the old magic, the secret pathways. It is the place of beginning, for this soon to be Salmon woman.

They travel with stitches, lots of them, woven into a book. A book telling tales of sisterhood and paw prints. Telling how they each arrive on quiet wolf paws and leave on soaring eagle wings. There is a box, a treasure chest, filled with the dreams of witch women, known only to a few, its magic so potent it would burn stars into the deepest night.

What will she find there, as she arrives at dusk down a small track? A small hobbity cottage, guarded by wolves and ash and pine. Kettles warming on a stove, food cooking in the kitchen, and sisters, wild sisters, there for the magic of skin weaving and the twisting path of initiation.

She will rise at dawn and quietly tiptoe past sleeping bear women into the sharpness of a cold morning, and the dreaming of a hare. There will be blessings fluttering, season on season of coloured rags and songs, hung on the wishing tree for the breeze to carry them far into the sky. There will be the ancient Roundhouse where later they will gather to bear witness to their stories, and to show the ancestors their scars. And there will be bones, singing and clacking, in the morning, while Salmon waits, patiently, to journey with her little warrior sister.

And what of the initiation? The midwoman will meet the pain and her trembling with a song of strong blood, indeed this is blood magic most sacred. As the needle weaves into her pale skin, she will watch her sisters drumming, and foot stomping, and singing by her side. She will be held by crone women, crow women, buzzard women, and many mothers…and it will feel strong, and good, and a call to roar. And roar she will…..

And all the while, Twisted Braid will sit quietly, unblinking, wordless and deeply witnessing. Midwoman will know in that moment, that she may well have Salmon etched into her skin, but it means nothing until she can earn it. To earn it she must follow the this new warrior path, with discipline and focus, and dance fearlessly back out again to that vast ocean, gathering sisters on the way, remembering that one day she will turn, and head for home and quiet moorland pools. The tattoo fidgets on the inside of her wrist, restless to be begin……

November 23, 2013   3 Comments

The Only Map

There is only one map, in my opinion, that we women need. And this is the book “Women that Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The truest, most deeply soulful piece of writing you will ever be lucky enough to hold in your hands. It took me many years to open mine, to read it, re-read it and finally get it. It showed me another way, a wolfish way, with whiskers and remembering, of courage and certainty, and most of all of wildness.

I am growing into my wildness, and it has not been easy. I never expected it to be. But La Loba, the bone woman, the wild woman has been with me, watching. And we are reminded in WTRWTW that She will come diving over whatever fences, walls or obstructions we face. She will come to us anywhere, in any condition. This is our medicine.

Oh, did I ever need her last Friday evening at the Red Hearth? With Clarissa’s wise words wrapped all around me, I decided to hold an evening of Wildness for Women, inviting some of the feistiest, most wonderfully strong women I could muster up – an open invitation for any woman to come and join us. I was blessed also to have the dearest drumming sister by my side and a circle of amazing wolfy goddesses who were up for a bit of howling in the woods.

I made an Ancestor Shrine with the most beautiful skull from my bone sister. Bone, that which can never be destroyed. To a steady heartbeat of the drum, we processed out to the shrine at dusk, to honour our ancestors in a ritual. By the light of the fiery skull, we know.

Here are some of Clarissa’s ideas, and I hold them dear and close to my heart, for they travel with me daily, and guide me like the beautiful and wise map that they are.

Wild nature is the health of all women. To be wild means to establish our territory. To find our pack. To be in our body with certainty, to find what we belong to.

What are these wolf qualities that we seek? Why they are insight, intuition, endurance, keen sensing, far vision, acute hearing.

Wild nature is about being aware, being bold, being unapologetic. We are entitled to fight tooth and nail to have it and to keep it.

We need to learn fierce qualities. The voice inside us that tells us we are any less than our wonderful wild selves? Well, we must meet this dangerous predator head on by not allowing divisive thoughts about ourselves, our creativity, our self worth. We must capture harmful thoughts before they can wreak havoc in our head and we must dismantle them.

And the bit I like the most? The idea that sometimes what we need to do is to take ourselves, our ideas, our creativity far more seriously than we have ever done before. Ever. Done. Before. Oh I will try Clarissa, I will.

So yes, let us set for ourselves something in our lives that we are willing to reach for, willing to take risks for. For me this is learning to speak without apology. I am willing to be anxious sometimes, and I will try to stand in the scary place of not knowing what will happen next.

Women will be standing right next to me, I know it. And I have my map. Wild woman is already living inside me, biding her time. And then one day, kerpow! She will leap out of me, and my world will change forever.

So must it be. To the power of three. It is done.

July 5, 2013   1 Comment

More Mad Crazy

Oooh hello, it’s been a while. You know what it is like around these Stroudie parts – a week can be a long time, with lots of different, unplanned things popping up all over the place.

This week has been about the magic that happens when women get together.

We gathered for our annual opening of our Red Hearth House by the light of the new moon, and danced, drummed, sang and howled with the most witchy of whiskers. 

This is such a special place that we have created, in Kesty and Martin’s beautiful woodland, and it fed my soul once more to be there, with many different wonderful women and all the stories that they bring to weave in with my own.

Oh you mad, crazy week…I didn’t see you coming. But in I leapt, as I knew I would, with my fast beating heart yearning for adventure and change. There have been camp outs, dawn choruses, badgers, burial chambers, axes, art, get togethers, cake, bitey things, and lots and lots of laughing and chit chatting.

It is also the month that Fiona and John Owen throw open their chapel studio doors to let us all have a peek inside at their wonderful, most magical of creations.

If you live anywhere near Gloucestershire, their exhibition is on until 30th June and is breathtaking. You will love it.

And so my week has rolled on, with a daughter learning to skateboard, puzzling over strange pub quiz questions, rainstorms to be caught in, and art students arriving at our house in a lovely impromptu gathering.

And today, Sunday, it ends as it so often begins, with wool, cake and friends – with Prema’s PicKnit in the Park – and as much as I need to collapse on my sofa and rest, I skip along with my pink peace scarf, dodging raindrops, and slide into yet more mad crazy…..

June 16, 2013   No Comments

Beltaine

The dance begins…the land unfolds….the quickening pulses in the green

May I walk the hills with deepening gratitude for a life filled with soulful people. May my steps be light, even on days that weigh heavy, and may I move ever closer to the gift of trust that is being offered to me.

Let me remember to take time to turn my face towards the sunshine of blue skies, when they arrive in this often grey land, and to love the scent of Beltaine blossoms that fly sweetly through my valley

On Beltaine morning, I wish for a renewed and hopeful heart as I pour myself into plans and projects…even when some waned so badly last year, like the successions of my beans that were eaten time and again by snails.

By lemon balm, nettle, mugwort and Lady’s Mantle, may I love all that lives, and give thanks to herbs that heal, teas that soothe, hands that hold

Beltaine love and blessings to all that is seen, all that is unseen, all that is.

April 30, 2013   1 Comment

This is your life, do what you love…..

Welcome to your life, do what you love….oh, ok, so what is it that I love? I love spring for a start – any chance of that rocking up soon in to my valley?? No, thought not.

Although the signs are there – daffodils spotted on my weekly walk around Hawkwood, and the first ruby stalks of rhubarb appearing on our CSA vegetable plot…..but come on, I am itching to peel off my thermals now – I’ve had them on since last October (can anyone even remember as far back as last October or is that just me??)

Well, being the good little community witch that I am, I thought I had better get myself outside for a wee bit of equinoxing this week…try to find a spot of balance emerging in this suddenly crazy world of mine…yeah right…

Hawkwood is so good for this – there is a funny sort of tree house cabin that is used as a meditation space right in the middle of the wooded valley….although I have been a bit too skittish recently for sitting still and contemplating peaceful thoughts – my pink hair is testimony to that, lets face it….but I love the idea of it….

There is also a very lovely natural spring bubbling out of the ground in their gardens – Herb and I always stop by here for a bit of witching and a bit of a drink

Back home then, and maybe it IS time for some meditative contemplation – so this is your life babe – how’s it working out for you??? Well, thanks for asking – you know those lovely white walls I worked so hard on last week? Yup, I remember. How about writing all over them? Splendid idea honey, lets do it….(talking to yourself, never a great sign)

Oh, how much fun can one bad girl and a Rotring have??? Answers on a postcard…

So, this is your life, do what you love and do it often…oh, so good to remember this, especially as this long, long winter draws hopefully to a close. You know what I love? I love all the photographs that I take – hundreds of them, sometimes up to a thousand a month, of people, places, knitting, my garden, oh you know well enough by now what my camera gets up to. Only right then, that I put some of my favourite pictures, and of course my favourite people, up on those lovely white and waiting walls.

Because life really is about the people you meet, and the magic you create with them. And whilst this winter may feel long, actually this life is very short. Not a moment to be wasted then.

I have to tell you that these words are not mine – they are from an advert for skin care products, believe it or not, that have been stuck to my fridge for a long time. But I like them, and they felt right enough to be penned up more permanently. And there is a lot more to come – that’s one big bit of wall I have travelling up the stairway. Just as well that I have piles and piles of photos ready and waiting, and so many more to take in this mad life of mine.

All in all I may just have inadvertently found some equinox balance this week. A need to escape out into the world, yes, but an anchor at home, remembering that right now my life is here, with its schedules and work and people.

But it is good. It is full. And springtime will come. That alone is enough to make a girl really quite perky.

March 22, 2013   2 Comments

The Unreasonable Woman

Shall I tell you the kind of email that I love, LOVE to see winking at me in my intray? An invitation to Sunday breakfast with a bunch of Unreasonable Women with the battle cry ‘lets all get together in one room and see just how unreasonable we can be’. Oh yes, I am deeply flattered to be ‘in’ with this bunch of feisty gals. 

A reasonable woman adapts to the world; an Unreasonable Woman makes the world adapt to her. What this world needs is more unreasonable women. So says Diane Wilson in her re-visioning of a George Bernard Shaw quote, and well, I could kiss her for saying it.

So the scene is set then. A snowy Sunday morning, Katherine’s house, tea, a delicious bring and share breakfast and a request to bring something precious with a story. This I can do.

Clearly tummies before gossip politics, including all sorts of homemade treats, fruit, pancakes and an exciting moment as a pomegranate exploded across the room – to the sounds of squeals and cheering.

How much do I love breakfasts with women I haven’t met before, where conversation floats effortlessly between herbalism, Save the NHS marches, wool, midwifery, ancestral mothers, body hair, gender politics, travelling to jungles, witchcraft, exciting adventures in far flung places, and other wild snippets that whirled around our chattering? Alot is the answer. A. Whole. Lot.

I am always incredibly in awe of, and moved by, the bare truthfulness of women’s stories that they bring when we come together. For every woman sat there, there was another just outside of the story, waiting and watching with her own words ready to sing out.

I’ve got to confess to being a bit in love with Katherine’s house too – very quirky, very her.

So I am reminded once again of how we amazing, strong, wilful, Unreasonable women hold up half the sky. And we do it well. I was lucky enough as a very young woman to meet Anita Roddick, and she told me “Be courageous. It’s the only place left uncrowded”. I think that if she were alive today, she would be joining us all in One Billion Rising, a revolution of women who realise the power in being Unreasonable.

And you know, I’ve got to tell you, incase you thought it was all wool, witches on broomsticks and other girly goings on……never underestimate the power of crazy-in-a-good-way girls in one small space on a Sunday – oh yes – the axe was brought out, followed by a little ‘knife on the tip of your nose’ demonstration by a very willing Unreasonable. Yay.

January 21, 2013   1 Comment