National Insect Week – The Symbolism of Flies

This week is National Insect Week, and to celebrate our buggy friends I’ve decided to muse about flies… partly because of the links to Loki, and also because of their sacred symbolism in Ancient Egypt.

Many people have seen pictures of golden fly amulets and necklaces and wondered, “Why?” From a human perspective flies can seem annoying, they spread germs and diseases, and they multiply quickly. Let’s now turn this around and try to see it from a mindset the Ancient Egyptians were familiar with: symbolism and sympathetic magic.

If viewed from this perspective the fly becomes persistent and tenacious rather than annoying. As anyone who has ever dealt with them knows, flies don’t give up! They keep trying, going for what they’ve set their tiny fly-hearts on, no matter what obstacles (or fly swatters) they come up against. They are tenacious little creatures, and sometimes we too need that kind of attitude.

Flies also breed in large numbers, so from a sympathetic magic viewpoint the fly could be a very useful motif to draw upon. Fertility, in various aspects, was something the Ancient Egyptians valued so emulating the abundant fertility of the fly by wearing a fly amulet isn’t too far a leap of the imagination.

Flies also spread disease and perhaps, as with Sekhmet, their amulets were worn to try to curry favour, stave off illness, and act as a protective symbol. Flies also swarm on the dead, and it is not unreasonable to reason that they may well have a ‘death’ element to their symbolism. They are drawn to rotting substances and ‘feed’ on death in that manner too.

On a more modern level of symbolism flies as scavengers can also represent those who seek relentlessly to make what they can of the opportunities that present themselves. Flies are the ultimate opportunists. No matter how many times they’re wafted off (or chased away) they keep trying to get to what they want. Sometimes this is perfectly good stuff, but other times they’re literally feeding off poo. And this teaches us something: sometimes even the messy, s*** stuff in our lives can become fuel for our future Self.

If we tie in their fertility as well then we gain a picture of a creature relentless in the pursuit of its goals, able to turn even the rubbish times into future nourishment, and able to keep producing and creating ‘life’. We could learn a thing or two from Fly, if we’re willing to look from a more symbolic, sympathetic magic, Ancient Egyptian type of perspective.

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See also: Flies, Cats and Rat Traps: The Ordinary Animals of Ancient Egypt by Anna Garnett, Curator of the Petrie Museum –http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2017/11/15/flies-cats-and-rat-traps-the-ordinary-animals-of-ancient-egypt/

(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

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Sigyn and Daisies + worry dolls

Recently I have written about how I associate Sigyn with Roses, and also about making a Daisy tincture for Inner Child healing work. Others have experienced Sigyn as a Goddess for helping heal the Inner Child, and I believe one way She does so is through Daisies.

On the day my Daisy tincture post went live I had a parcel arrive – a handmade worry doll. I went on the site originally because a friend had liked her tarot and ribbon-reading page on Facebook and it piqued my curiosity. While browsing the online shop I saw the worry doll and felt such a strong ‘Sigyn’ vibe that I bought her. Pink, pretty, girly, flowery things often (but don’t always) mean ‘Sigyn’ to me. There’s a side to Her (that others have written about too) that is almost like this beautiful, innocent, sweet, open-hearted young girl. And that part of Her is the one I associate with the pink, girly, flowery stuff. Things I used to actively avoid, but the last year or so I’ve been more drawn to.

When the worry doll arrived (on the afternoon the Daisy tincture post went live) I saw she came with a little card:

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The worry doll’s name is Daisy! I didn’t even notice she had a name on the listing, and yet I felt so strongly that this little doll was for Sigyn that I bought her.

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Individual Practice

I am very much in support of a practice that caters to a person’s individuality. While tradition has its place it can, at times, place constraints on how people practice, and how they approach and work with Deities. Part of my aim here is to encourage people to discover individual levels of practice, and to provide ideas for different ways to connect. It’s something I’ve been doing since the beginning, though I didn’t realise it until very recently. It is something I believe in strongly, and while I respect traditional practitioners, there is more encouragement needed for people on non-traditional pathways.

Our connection to Deity and/or Spirit is unique, and that can often be downplayed. I’ve seen more being written about what constitutes ‘right practice’, but ultimately I believe in doing what is right for you and the way the Gods/Spirits work with you as the person you are. Your gifts, talents and strengths are unique to you, and your work and connection with Deity will reflect that.

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 Herbal project: Dandelion flower tincture

I saw some lovely bright Dandelions on the grass opposite our house last Monday and they gave me an idea. Mum and I are both in need of some more joyous, spontaneous energies, and we’re both exploring Inner Child healing at the moment. For me the Dandelion has a positive, joyful, almost childlike playfulness to it. So many people see it as a weed but it has amazing detoxification properties, is full of nutrients and can be used for uplifting.

Mum helped me pick them, and after checking them for critters I put them in a jar, poured vodka over them, and placed them on my altar. I thought I’d ask Bast and Horus to help charge the tincture. Both are associated with the Sun. Cats can be playful, nurturing and protective, like Bast. Horus can see from a higher vantage point, is associated with children as Horus the Child, and is sometimes shown with His wings protecting the King’s back. As such I feel like Their blessings will add to the energy of the Dandelion tincture, which I intend to use in aura sprays to nurture us during Inner Child work and bringing in more joyful, abundant energies.

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Drying Elder flowers & berries, Roses, and creating tinctures & an infused oil

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.
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Project: protective herbal pouches

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.
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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.

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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 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.