Divine signs – moving and renewal

How is this for a sign that things are both ‘on the move’ and renewing? The council has decided (after umpteen years of it being overdue) to choose today to start resurfacing the road through our tiny village. Today also happens to be phase one of us moving house. Tomorrow we complete it and move into our rental property.

Roads are about exploring new avenues, and moving on to better things. In being resurfaced they can also represent smoothing over the ‘scars’ and hurts of the past, all the bumpy patches, and bringing about healing.

So is the road work starting on the same day we start moving out sod’s law, or a divine sign? I prefer to choose the latter explanation.

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.

 

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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Prayer for passing over

For my Danish Great Aunty Else, who had a wicked sense of humour, loved Robert Ludlum books, Midsomer Murders, Chinese food, ‘collecting’, birds, and her family.

May you be held
In comforting arms
As you go
Upon your way,
May you leave
With loving thoughts
And memories of better days.
May you always be remembered
In our hearts
And in our prayers,
As you take
The next step
On your soul’s
Flight of stairs.

She will now sit with her sister, nephew and parents in my family shrine. I have a wooden comb she gave me when I was 8, and will always think of her when I use it.

2nd WordPress Anniversary, part 2 – An Old Goddess Returns

Continuing the subject of Deity statues: I have ended up keeping one I thought I would be selling. The statue of Athena arrived one morning last week, and I was really pleasantly surprised that she’s taller than I was expecting. The faux antique tea effect makes her look a bit dirty so I thought painting her virginal white would suit that aspect of her. I placed her on my desk.

When I woke up the following morning I looked over and saw her there, thinking she’d look lovely in the same verdigris effect I have used for some of my personal collection. But other people might not like that, I thought, other people might prefer her painted white. Then I realised I didn’t want to let her go. I remembered that the year before the Egyptian Deities made such a lasting impression on me I had learned about the Ancient Greeks. Out of all the Olympian pantheon it was Athena who I remember attaching myself to. I even bought a little bronze reproduction of the owl of Minerva two years ago in York because it reminded me of Athena’s.

So she’s been there in the background, waiting patiently for over 20 years for me to find her again. Strangely it feels like a little piece of me has returned too; that childlike wonder upon first learning about her at age 7/8. I love Loki and Sigyn and Their family, and my wonderful Egyptian Beloveds, and now Athena is that childhood Inspirer returned. I don’t know if she’s here to stay, but how strange and fascinating that the Goddess of wisdom, battle and healing should come back into my life as I feel like I’m starting over; as I adjust to a relapse in health yet I’m finding my feet as an author, creator and business woman. She is strong but wise, knows her own mind, and is great at planning ahead in minute detail. Who better to guide me through this phase of finding this in myself?

Hail Athena.

2nd WordPress Anniversary – Update & Changes

It has been two years since I joined WordPress, and I still don’t quite know where the time’s gone. Since I first started my writing style has developed and I’ve started to share more of my devotional practices, but most of all my connections to Them have grown, strengthened and expanded. That’s not to say that this time hasn’t also been challenging, or that it’s been plain-sailing. It hasn’t. I’ve had many challenges with my health and faith to deal with, but I’ve made it through so far.

As some of you may have noticed I’m making a few adjustments to the range and type of posts on here.  Firstly this is because my interests have widened since starting Northern Tamarisk, secondly because I now feel more able to share personal projects and things I’ve been up to. I started off wanting this to be a more academic-style blog, but I realise after much soul-searching that the academic is just one facet of who I am. I was under the impression that I needed to keep myself out of the blog as much as possible, but since starting my Etsy shop I realise perhaps I need to share a bit more about my personal practices and things I’m involved in. People like to know who they’re buying from and what sort of a person I am. Personally I like to buy from small businesses who have similar ethics to me so I read up about them, and this will help others to do the same with me
I will continue to explore different areas of research and devotional Polytheism, Paganism and Archaeology, and I will still be writing book reviews. I will continue my ‘Out & About’ posts, especially when I see something I think you may like – the ‘Wotan’ light bulb, for instance. ‘Friday Finds’ will keep going, though not on a monthly basis – I will be concentrating on specific themes, seasonal items or an artisan feature. Instead of ‘Fantasy Art Friday’ and ‘Fantasy Photography Friday’ there will be ‘Friday Focus’. This will incorporate artists, photographers and artisans whose work is inspired by Mythology, Polytheism or Paganism. Again, this will not be monthly, just as and when.

I’m enjoying rediscovering my crafty side, learning about traditional crafts, upcycling and natural alternatives, so expect to read more about these ventures too. Finding ways to bring back old traditions in a modern way and helping to lighten my impact on the planet are important to me. Doing this not only helps us and the environment, but can also be a way of living-devotion. What better offering can we make to Them than to take care of this beautiful planet whose care and creatures we have been entrusted with?

In February, May and September I will be sharing photos and experiences from past holidays to Luxor in Egypt, York and Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury. I went on these trips before starting my blog so feel like it would be good to share some of my better pictures.

In the next couple of weeks I will be starting photo shoots for the various pre-loved Deity statues I have found online, in junk yards and charity shops. Aside from my personal collection I have a lot of Gods and Goddesses looking for loving new homes. Once they’ve been cleaned up, repaired or re-painted and had their photo shoots I will be putting them up for re-homing in my Etsy shop. Most are in excellent condition, some need a little sprucing up, and a couple need a bit of fixing up, but they are all beautiful and I feel guilty keeping them packed under my bed when they should be taking pride of place on some adoring person’s shrine. I have quite a few Egyptian Deities as well as a couple of Greek Goddesses who will be looking for that loving new home. I also have a copper wall plaque of an Aztec Sun God to add.

I’m finding my feet on Twitter as well. I give updates on new blog posts and Etsy items as well as Norse, Egyptian, Pagan and Archaeology re-tweets. I’m thinking of sharing interesting Tweets from others in an occasional roundup here on the blog. These will be snippets of information, or even photos from museum collections or artisans.
Because of the work involved in remembering to update Twitter regularly I will assess at the end of the year and see if it is a valuable enough use of my time. Brain power and concentration have to be rationed carefully.

Pinterest board changes:
*Created ‘Northern Tamarisk on Etsy‘ board.
*Created ‘Northern Tamarisk Articles‘ board.
*Merged ‘Egyptian Pics & Inspiration’ with ‘Egyptians‘ – ‘EP&I’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Elves, Fey & Sidhe’ with ‘Elves, Fey & Other Beings‘ – ‘EF&S’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Paganism’ and ‘Pagan Crafts’ with ‘Witchy, Pagan & Devotional‘ – ‘P’ and ‘PC’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Research Wishlist’ with ‘Books & Research Wishlist‘ – ‘RW’ will be deleted.
*Created more boards for Norse Deities, as well as a number of boards for Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.

You can see the full list with updated links on my ‘My Pinterest Boards‘ page.