Reclaiming my inner Witch, & exploring Magical Herbalism

 Even back in childhood I loved reading about witches and magic. A number of years ago I started researching the witch trials and Medieval magic, but most of it was so far removed from the forest and nature that I put it aside. That longing for connection remained, however, and it became a part of my spirituality. It’s why she doesn’t show much on the surface, but dig a little deeper and my Witchy nature is there. She called to me in February, but other things took over. I had a dream at the beginning of June where I discovered a powerful Witch in a tomb, and when I looked at her face she was me. I am rediscovering this part of me.

The ‘higher’ magics, in general, are not for me; that journey is for others. In relation to my work with my Northern Beloveds my path is with the greener and wild denizens of the Woods. It’s in the plants, the trees, the flowers and fruits. It’s with the animals and birds and insects. It’s with the Spirits, Elementals, the Fair Folk. It’s in charms and amulets, cleansing and protection. It’s the healing practices of the wild wood Mothers, in nature and land, in Runes, dreams and symbols. It’s in dance and the movement of my body. It’s in song and the power of words, in sound. And who knows what else?

As in February I feel Angerboda’s presence again. While She values physical strength, strength of will and strength of heart also speak to Her. Ours is not a ‘close’ connection, but I feel Her presence aiding me in connecting to the denizens of the wild woods once more, alongside Laufey, Whose presence I have begun to feel again on the periphery. The magical side of Herbalism  has long fascinated me, and it complements my Aromatherapy training and experiments; but the thought of studying so much at this time is overwhelming. I wondered what I could do, how I could do this. The morning after that wondering I awoke with this Inspired thought: start with three.

I have a deep love of, and connection with, Elder, Hawthorn and Blackthorn. They all grow in our current garden, all have lots of magical-related folklore, and all would have been growing in Viking-era Scandinavia – and thus perhaps the Iron Wood. Each have strong associations with magical practices, protection, witches and Fairies.

I was told recently by an intuitive that I have an Earth Mother/ Warrior vibe at the moment. Perhaps that’s why Angerboda and Laufey can start to come in again. I am reclaiming myself for myself, as Odin sacrificed to Odin to claim the power and knowledge of the Runes.

I’m sure more will be revealed to me as time moves on. For now, however, I’m welcoming home this part of me long-feared and long-ignored. I thank Angerboda and Laufey for Their gifts of the instruction to come, for however long that may be, whatever form it may take. And let us not forget that Loki has magics of His own – perhaps learned from His mother and Angerboda?

Musings on the Goddesses of the Jotnar, Angerboda and Iron Wood Magic

Despite the more obvious practices of Seidhr, spells, enchantments, divination and shapeshifting, there is another powerful magic in the Iron Wood: the women Themselves.

The women are the fiercer, more powerful sex among the Jotnar – think of Angerboda and Skadi, of Groa and Gerda. But this strength isn’t just physical, and nor is it purely ‘magical’. Their true power lies in Their personal power, Their Sovreignty, Their sacred expression of Their Selves. They are empowered women, the ones who stand up for Their needs and desires, standing Their ground, asserting Their boundaries.

To the writers of the time these powerful, self-assured women must have been seen as a real threat to the ‘way of the world’. These are independent Goddesses who know Their needs and magics and are respected for it. How much of the ‘terrible and terrifying’ description of Them is really true, and how much is the filter of the writer?

While these amazingly strong Goddesses can be fierce and awe-inspiring, is there a chance They have been somewhat misrepresented? How much of Their true nature has been rewritten or lost? Just as Sigyn is reduced to the long-suffering wife of Loki in the Eddas, with the gift of her magic as galdr fetter hinted at in one epithet, how much of the Jotnar and Iron Wood has been lost?

In being drawn back to the ways of nature, the Earth and the crystal, plant and animal kingdoms I feel  my inner ‘wild woman’ calling. This is part of me I have been too afraid to claim, but now I’m tentatively curious. Whereas Angerboda used to terrify me I can now be in Her presence with a great deal of respect for Her power. I know She values physical strength, but She also values strength of will and heart.
Beside Her more obvious Iron Wood connections, to me She is a Goddess of empowerment. Part of Her gift is bringing us into our own power. While this manifests differently in each of us – due to different personalities, abilities and paths to follow – She is the embodied Powerful Feminine.
Although Hers can be a tough love, She does love… and fiercely. She is loyal and true to Her Self and to those She loves. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

 

Traditional Crafts at Local Village Fair

Last Summer my parents and I visited a neighbouring village for their annual village fair. It’s been going for hundreds of years, and there are no signs of it stopping any time soon. What was lovely to see, amongst the craft stalls, were two areas showcasing traditional crafts.

Rob lives in our village and makes traditional wooden frame buildings. He also does thatched roofs. He had a display of some of the techniques used, and was even giving a demonstration of how he cuts beams into shape by hand.

The tent of a local community historical society was particularly fascinating. They displayed some of the finds from an archaeological dig at their church.

The members of the society themselves also got to try their hand at crafts relevant to the period their church and the finds were from. These included kiln building, making clay bowls, stone carving, flint knapping, and even corn dollies.

There were also live demonstrations of rag rug making, wool spinning and calligraphy work.

Outside the tent a man was weaving a fence panel from willow.

The hour or so we were there made for a very pleasant diversion, and also surprised us with the cultural elements.
On a side note, I bought a partner for my felt partridge. One of my friends is a multi-talented florist who makes lots of crafty delights. So Penny is now joined by Patricia, and I hope to continue to add more to their little family.

Beltane Fires ‘Release’ Ideas

At Beltane cattle were often herded between two fires to cleanse them. It’s also believed the heat killed off the insects, and that the cattle were blessed by the process.

One way we could take advantage of this custom ourselves is to do a meditation asking a particular God or Goddess to safely surround and suffuse you with Their flames. You can ask for help to cleanse any negativity or release any ties that you need to let go of. Deities aren’t limited to the way Their energies and healing can work, but they may have a particular speciality you can call upon.

Another way to adapt the Beltane fires ritual is to say a prayer or petition to the Deity of your choosing, asking for the specific cleansing or healing help you need, and then walk between two lit candles. As you walk between them imagine your Beloved’s flames (safely) surrounding you, burning away that which needs to be released. After Their flames recede feel the strength of the God/dess’s energy within you. Feel deep within that you have the strength and capability to go on to make meaningful changes and healing in your life.
A note on safety: I wouldn’t suggest being anywhere near candle flames if you’re wearing robes, a dress, skirt, or any long outift. If you do, try to make sure there’s a good distance between you and the candles, or put them on a table or shelf either side of you – somewhere they can’t be knocked into (or over) accidentally.

As Eyes of Ra a number of Egyptian Goddesses can help with cleansing and healing, but each may be able to help you in more specific areas:

  • Sekhmet can be called upon for a strengthening fire and ‘fighing spirit’.
  • Isis can be called on for re-integrating parts of the Self, as She pieced together her husband Osiris.
  • Hathor can help us with healing through self-love, creative expression, dance and music.
  • Bast can teach us independence, but also how to co-exist with others whose needs might be different to our own.
  • Neith can help to target areas of our life where we wish to heal, as her arrows fly straight and true.

You could also call on Ra Himself to help you feel the joy and strength of your own inner fire, your inner sun. Or Aten, if you ask, may also aid in this.

If you are in a dry or ‘arid’ place emotionally, mentally or by circumstance why not call on Set? As Lord of the Desert He knows how to survive dry spells, and may even guide the way to an oasis. His desert heat can cleanse and purify, as well, sucking out the moisture of that which no longer serves.

Loki will forever be connected with flames and fire for me. When you need to heal and let go ask His purifying flames to safely burn through what you need to release and move on from. Perhaps even write a prayer to Him and burn it, letting His flames consume the words and what you need help with.

Be safe, but most of all: enjoy!
Best wishes for Beltane to you all.

Recent projects – beads, berries and sketches

Some of my projects from recent weeks:

For the first time this year I actually managed to do some sketching! I’m out of practice so the proportion and perspective need working on (especially in Sigyn’s picture) but I’m pleased that I am able to start working creatively again.

Set Doodle_wm

Sigyn Sketch_wm_02

I also made a set of personal prayer beads for Sigyn. They’re made with Pink Quartzite, Rose Quartz, Rice Pearls and glass rounds and seed beads. The gemstones and Pearls were destash purchases.
I’ve been working with these beads to ask for Sigyn’s help to better understand her as Goddess of Loving Compassion, and trying to hold that feeling within myself to help with inner healing.

Sigyn prayer beads April 2017

The final project I’m sharing is my tincture experiment. Last year I collected and successfully dried my own Hawthorn and Sloe berries – you can see the article here. While I don’t have enough of my own Hawthorns left to make a tincture I have prepared one with the Sloes. I’m also testing one made with dried Juniper berries I bought. I have added them to English potato vodka.
I plan to use them in aura sprays so the berry bits don’t keep clogging up the spray mechanisms.

Berry tinctures

So those are my creative updates. Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, and for all of your support and supportive comments, I really do appreciate it.
Beltane blessings,
Michelle

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Honouring Persephone – Shadow integration

I’ve long had a fascination with the myth of Persephone and Hades; even in childhood I wondered if there was more to the story. As part of my Shadow work I’m trying to heal, work with and integrate parts of my Self that have been pushed down for too long. In giving them their say, and in trying to find constructive, positive outlets for their ‘light’ sides I have come to realise the importance of balance. In a healing session with J a couple of weeks ago Loki and Sigyn reminded me of Persephone, and how she had to learn to balance her Upperworld and Underworld time. She had to learn to balance these parts of Herself, and so She may also be able to help me.

Weirdly I’d been buying pomegranate seeds for salads for a couple of weeks beforehand, not even remembering about Persephone’s story. I had also bought a little pomegranate pendant last year because I felt Her calling, but then got caught up in health concerns and other things that took over. This time I am in Her domain, somewhere She understands, trying to find my way back to the Upperworld but still healing my ‘Underworld’.

I went on Etsy and found a lovely bright pomegranate clay piece, and checked in with Her, asking if it would be an appropriate offering and focus for my work with Her. I got the impression it was indeed acceptable, so bought it. I’m a very visual person, and I love different textures; I like to have something to look at or hold onto that helps remind me of my Deities, or acts as a focus for Them.

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The Life Lessons of Penguin – World Penguin Day 2017

Today is World Penguin Day! For more info see this page: https://www.awarenessdays.co.uk/awareness-days-calendar/world-penguin-day-2017/

Anyone who knows me knows I love penguins. These adorable, majestic birds feel like they make up a part of my very being, such is my abiding love for them.

Christmas gift

Penguins first came into my life in the form of a cuddly toy from my late Uncle Tony. The imaginatively named Pengy was a gift for my first Christmas and one of my favourite cuddly friends growing up. He still watches over me to this day.

As I grew so did my obsession with all things Penguin. When my Danish cousin came to visit in 2006 she counted all of my penguin items and the total was nearing 100. I’ve been trying to heal my hoarding tendencies the last few years so most of the penguins have found new homes, but my favourites remain.

When I started exploring spirituality in the early 2000’s I came across the concept of animal guides, or totems. I found it fascinating but also incredibly frustrating. Where was Penguin? Eventually I found a book that included my soul brethren, and I finally understood why Penguin feels so much a part of me.

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