I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a while. I love experimenting with herbs, oils, salts, waters and crystals. I’ve been working on different cleansing bath variations for a couple of months now and I have a couple of favourites. While they help I also wanted something I could keep in place as protective charms.
I have my own dried Hawthorn and Sloe berries from our garden, and mum had some Hawthorn tea bags she didn’t want, so I rummaged through my herbal chest to see what felt right. With a bit of guidance from Loki I now have four little protective pouches. It feels great to be engaging with my Witchy side again after she’s been mostly dormant for the last few years.
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.
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 just 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.
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.
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.
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.
I found this beautiful vow while reading ‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy’ by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnston. I thought they would make a lovely reflection for Earth Day. The vows are written by Joanna, and are shared here with her permission.
I vow to myself and to each of you:
To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.
To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products and energy I consume.
To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future generations, and my brothers and sisters of all species.
To support others in our work for the world and to ask for help when I need it.
To pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengths my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.
You can find out more about Joanna and her ecology work here: http://www.joannamacy.net/aboutjoannamacy.html
‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy’ by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnston.
Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Active-Hope-without-Going-Crazy/dp/1577319729
Amazon US link: https://www.amazon.com/Active-Hope-without-Going-Crazy-ebook/dp/B007C8K79C
You can find out more about Earth Day here: http://www.earthday.org/about/
There are many theories about whether the Set-beast is based on a real animal, whether it is a compilation of creatures (like Ammit), or a completely mythological being.
While watching the ‘Grasslands’ episode of Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth II’ I came face to face with an Ice Age relic: the Saiga Antelope. Just look at that nose! How can you not see a resemblance to the Egyptian God Set when you look at it?
By Vladimir Yu. Arkhipov, Arkhivov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8955913
Our garden is filled with so many beautiful plants and trees, but my heart was captured this Autumn by our Hawthorns. They live at the very top, acting as a boundary between us and the field behind.
In folklore lone Hawthorns are said to be connected to Fairies. They have white flowers and red berries, and anything red and white was often linked to the Fair Folk. Animals like cattle and hounds with red and white markings were associated with them. Hawthorns were often used as field boundaries, like ours, and so can have a protective element. Because of the white summer blossom they are also referred to as Whitethorns. Ours do have thorns but not many. Perhaps they’re friendlier and don’t feel threatened.
Today I’m introducing Kirsty Mitchell Photography
(Click on the pictures to be led to the full photographs)
Every year the RSPB holds a Birdwatch event where you count the highest number of certain birds you see in an hour. It helps them gather data on the decline or (hopefully) rise of particular Bird species commonly seen in British gardens.
It’s good fun and free, so if you’re in the UK there’s still time to take part. Download the starter pack from the website, stock up the bird feeders and have fun! It’s this weekend, and only takes one hour. Great for children too.
This could also be turned into a devotional activity, especially to honour nature deities and those with bird forms.