I wanted to do something a bit different, so I’ve decided to write my very first deck review. Clive Barrett’s Ancient Egyptian Tarot was the first ever set of divination cards I bought, way back in 2005/2006. I have a couple of other tarot decks but these are the ones I connect to the most.
The Ancient Egyptian Tarot is illustrated by artist Clive Barrett, and the artwork is beautifully detailed. Each card is filled with Egyptian symbolism and numerous elements and ‘extras’ that really help to add depth to a reading. The suits are Wands, Swords, Cups and Disks. The court cards are King, Queen, Prince and Princess.
The Autumn Equinox is a time when day and night are of equal length, and this can be a perfect time to work with the Shadow to bring about integration. There are gifts in Shadow work – abilities and parts of our Self we’ve pushed down and that need to be recognised and brought out into the world. Likewise, some people who focus all on the Light can ‘bypass’ their true emotions to try and be more ‘spiritual’.
As with the Equinox, a healthy balance and coming together of both Shadow and Light is needed to integrate and become more whole. Even naming them as such is using the Duality terminology. When integrated a person is more whole, and things less black and white, cut and dry. Balance is achieved by living through an integrated Self, one that values authenticity, integrity and understanding.
This poem/ invocation can be used in your own Equinox celebrations to help with Shadow integration. I will point out that Shadow work is an ongoing process and is not something that can be done in an afternoon. It is something that takes time, patience and dedication, but this invocation may well help to integrate the parts of your Shadow that you have already identified and worked with. Shadow work has many lessons to teach us, but unless you actually integrate those Shadows and actively live their lessons they remain an unfulfilled potential.
As spoken about before, I love collecting berries and drying them. This has now extended to flowers. Our lovely Elders have been in full bloom, so I collected some of the creamy sprays to make tinctures from. Some had also started to become berries, so I thought these might be good for a transition-type tincture – PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE UNRIPE BERRIES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR INTERNAL USE. I intend to use the tinctures mainly for aura and energetic sprays, and for cleansing baths.
I’m really loving getting so connected to nature again, and finding new ways to bring Mother Earth’s bounty into my life in magical ways. I’ve been making sprays for a few years now, along with oil mixes. At least I won’t get the raw berry bits clogging up the spray bottle mechanisms now!
Here are some pictures of the Elder flowers and proto-berries before and after drying. They were particularly fiddly to get off the stems, and I still have to remove the flowers from their stalks to make up the tincture. I will be leaving them to ‘soak’ for at least two months before filtering them.
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.