Monday, 2 March 2015

PDU – The Element of Water

The element of water is a curious one for me. I do love water but I also am hesitant of large bodies of water. I have a small pool for summer, I love long hot showers, the rain, I enjoy watching a river and can appreciate the vastness of an ocean but I’m not one who is drawn by the ocean. (The ocean in SA is very much a dangerous place on account of the Great Whites – they tend to be stealth, ninja sharks). I love nothing more than standing out in the rain in summer, watching it pour down and create rivers in the dirt, I love cold winter nights listening to it hit the roof in its rhythmic frantic tone and I love to go to sleep with the rain echoing on the roof. It touches something deep within me, a primal recognition in the soul.

Water is emotion, dreams, intuition, psychic ability, the Moon, the Feminine, twilight and dusk. It is the cauldron, the chalice, mirrors and the element we are all born from. It is a very powerful being, it can both heal and harm, cause unimaginable destruction or help things flourish, wet a parched soul and relieve drought. Like all the elements it has dual purpose, both creative and destructive. I do love it all the same. It’s supposed to rain here Monday, so if it does, I will be outside standing in it, thankful for the reprieve and hoping there is more to come as we move into the autumnal season.

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Honesty of Self Reflection

I almost wasn't going to post this entry, it's a very emotional and raw look at myself. I felt these words within and had to get them out, then I thought, in the interest of being open and honest, why not post it? It may resonate with some one and help them out when they need it the most. I don't think I am the only one who feels this way so I hope, in some way, it shines a light of hope or understanding in some one else's direction.

I’m lacking in self honesty, I try to tell myself things that I want to hear and I ignore the truth of what the inner self has to say. I know I do this because it helps me get through the day, I don’t have to take a long hard look at myself if I tell myself what I want to hear. I don’t have to deal with things if I’m telling myself what I want to hear. I’ve always lacked the ability to be hard with myself and now I’m so used to telling myself a lie that when the truth comes along it’s harder to deal with. It’s like holding up a mirror and really seeing instead of looking at the image there.

I’m not happy with who I am, I haven’t been for a long time. I’ve made excuses, gave reasons; not dealing with the fact that I’m not happy, that I feel disconnected from myself. I thought I’d come to terms with it and found a way to keep going. I actually thought I had made progress but I realised, when you’re really not happy with who you are, any progress is superficial because you fall back into old patterns and before you know it, you’re the same person you were with no growth, no maturation and no sense of self. I look at myself, I see some one who has never fully committed to anything in her life, has had her fingers in a lot of different pies and has avoided being an adult and actually attending to the business of getting on with her life and living it. I dream of being a wisewoman (both witch and herbalist) but what do I do instead? Sit on the computer for hours each day and find other ways to amuse myself. I study (which I do love and it brings me a measure of great happiness) but even that has fallen by the wayside, fallen victim to the ‘I’ll get to that later’. Even my businesses are on the ‘later’ pile, which has come to closely resemble the ‘don’t care’ pile. I think that is my greatest sadness, that the things (like my businesses, herbs, reading etc) no longer interest me – I don’t even interest me anymore.

When you’re not happy, it’s amazing how much you can actually give up without even caring. I don’t practice my Craft all that much, I don’t do much herbal stuff, I’m not studying a lot even though I have a shitload of courses I’ve signed up to do (and paid for – not free courses), I’m not sleeping well, I’ve barely cracked open a book lately (those of you who have followed my blog for quite some time know this is unusual for me because I’m a voracious and obsessive reader) and quite frankly, I’m so bored with me that I can’t even begin to describe it.  I get emotional over stupid things, and I’m uncomfortable with intimacy because it has been so lacking in my life for a very long time. I can’t handle overly romantic overtures on the television so I change the channel, I wonder if it because I envy the happiness and connectedness I see there. It’s become normal for me to not do anything constructive with my time because it’s so much easier to give up than make an effort. I don’t have any self belief and therein lays my biggest issue I think.

Recently I decided to start changing my life. I started a diet and exercise regime with all intentions of seeing it through for the 30 day duration. I started it, injured myself (stupidly doing more exercise than I am actually physically capable of) and stopped. It was easier to stop and put it in the ‘later’ pile. It’s still sitting there, patiently waiting. I want to do it; I want to get back to caring and taking steps to better myself. Then something happened that kind of changed my whole perspective, and it was a small thing. I got involved with a competition on Facebook (as a donor) – it was a whole bunch of stores getting together to do a giveaway, before that was an auction. I went into with little or no expectation of any success – in fact I really didn’t think I’d do all that well. I did really well, it wasn’t the money side of it because most of the time, the issue of money is neither here nor there for me (I don’t have a lot of it but I still don’t get the obsession our culture has with it, it’s incredibly strange), it was doing the work. I found that the working hard was hard work, but it was the challenge of it. I sold a number of herb kits (of 34 herbs) and I’ve spent the better part of a week bagging up somewhere upwards of 700 75mm by 50mm ziplock bags of herbs. It’s been a long, tiring, trying process that has tested the very bounds of my limits, but it has flicked a switch of some sort within. I can’t describe it, I’m not even sure there is a way to, but somehow it’s ignited a little spark, I think it was the fact that I had to do it, I couldn’t put it in the ‘later’ pile so as tired as I got, as much as I wanted to stop, I couldn’t because it had to be done and by forcing myself to do the work, I realised what could be achieved if I did.

Now I’m coming up with new ideas to try, different recipes for incenses and I’m even considering making candles (although the heat here right now is not particularly conducive to candle making). Another spark was the beautiful Sarah’s really honest post; it made me take a few moments to really think about myself and what I was doing with my life. Her powerful words made me realise that sometimes big steps have to be taken to find my happiness, my joy and my peace. I also received a tarot reading that kind of cut to the heart of what I’ve been doing, it pointed out some things that needed to be pointed out.

I realized that unless I’m happy entirely, I’m never going to achieve true success in any area of my life, whether that be business, weight, love or even something as simple as enjoying each day. I love deeply and I love truly and I’m not some one who is emotionally flaky, I give of myself completely (those who know me, know how devoted I am to those I love - especially my cats cos hey, they’re my babies). But I lost my passion, I lost my drive and I lost my way. I can’t say I lost me because I don’t know that I truly know me yet. I’ve given up almost everything I care about doing because it was easier but somehow sitting up til after 2am in the morning sorting herbs has woken me up. If I want to achieve things I have to stop being so apathetic and find my drive, I have to make the effort and not be afraid of failure and stop turning to giving up because it’s easier. Growing a powerful spiritual path, becoming healthy, finding love, building a business – they all come from hard work, ground work. Thinking about it, sitting back and just letting life pass by achieves nothing.

 I need to get past this week and the hectic workload I gave myself. I need to take a moment to breathe, relax and begin to formulate an action plan. I need to create a schedule for myself (because left to my own devices I rarely get anything done) devoting time to all of my pursuits in manageable measures (like my witchcraft, herbalism, study, crafting, blogging more, weight loss etc) so that I get things done otherwise I will fall back into my familiar pattern of sitting on my ass on my computer all day wasting time instead of effectively managing it. It’s time to own up to my failings (and I’m not ashamed to say they are failings) and begin dealing with them in a way that doesn’t overwhelm me and give cause me to give into my desire to give up. I want to be a successful witch, herbalist, writer, and creator of all manner of delights. I want to lose weight (not to give into some unrealistic ideal but because I am overweight and I have enough health issues already without continuing to put on weight) and become a healthier, fitter person. I see the ability to commit to weight loss goals as a way to begin building an ability to commit to other things as well because I think the weight loss and the discipline that goes with it will be very hard and teach me a valuable lesson. I think it will begin helping me within other areas of my life, like my witchcraft because I am quite a lazy, undisciplined witch who doesn’t do much with her path and it’s starting to feel like I’m a witch in name only, I don’t like that feeling and I want to change it, I want to see growth and ability – I’ve not got or had any of that in a very long time. So starting this week I’ll be doing what I should and not putting it off. I’ll be making incenses and kyphi, starting herbal tinctures, beginning a weight loss regime and generally being more active in my life, being a participant instead of a bored observer.

I’m not happy with who I am but I am damn sure going to try my hardest to be.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

To Sabbat or not to Sabbat?

I hadn’t planned any blog posts this week however I happened to read a couple of blog posts and they’ve inspired me to write something. The first was the Lammas post by Bone and Steel. I read through it and I agreed with everything written. There is no generic do-all when it comes to the Sabbats (if one is even inclined to name them such), especially in this beautiful land of ours. Australia has one of the most (if not the most) diverse climates and geographies of any place in the world. Here I think we actually have most of the climates and geographies found around the world in one country and it makes for an interesting place to live.

Recently (in early January) we had a few days of rain, it totalled probably about 75mm where I live – from this weeds not usually present until April have started to come up – I’m not bothered, one of those is nettle I do like to harvest it, followed by weeks of truly mild weather. Further north from me there was a place that got 200mm of rain, a place where it normally doesn’t rain much, if ever. They had a river there that had remained empty for four years (I believe) and it had water running in it again, a goodly amount of it. It rained yesterday, today is going to be 41C, the day after less so but still near enough to. Summer has come, gone and come again in the space of a month yet the typical Pagan calendar suggests that I celebrate Litha on the 21st of December. Yet on the 21st of December, I wouldn’t say we hit the pinnacle of the summer weather. With a 10 day forecast of weather over 38C each and every day to come, I’m almost inclined to believe summer is only now hitting her stride (although I hope to all Gods and every nature spirit out there that it’s not), so one could argue the pinnacle is not yet here (but I’m hopeful its an aberration and the lovely weather we’ve been experiencing will come back and we’ll have a proper autumn with days not hot enough to scramble eggs – it’s a thing we’ve all done here, hot weather + hot car bonnet = cooked eggs).

I gave a little nod to Lammas because of the exceptionally mild weather we’ve had, the harvest of vegetables and some fruit was possible and will likely continue to be so. I actually feel as though the season of harvest has started, but within that is also the understanding that there is much growing still to come because Summer is still here (with any luck it’ll be over soon) so through the heat much will grow and there is every chance that we will lose some of our food-producing plants because it is simply how it is. I’m hopeful that everything we’ve planted will survive and thrive, especially my kale (I do love a good sautéed kale with butter and garlic), peas and tomatoes. Only time will tell.

So I suppose my point in all of this is that the Sabbats are guidelines, seasonal suggestions but I don’t think that one should take them as writ. If you’re hitting the 21st of June and weather isn’t freezing you to bits, you’re probably not feeling like winter is really here. Celebrate in the manner that best suits you and your feeling of the seasons, not the way that is dictated by literature or by tradition. If you live in a climate that doesn’t see winter (as mentioned at the start of the post that inspired this one) then don’t feel a pressing need to service the idea of Yule or the Winter Solstice if it’s not something that you can relate to in your area. Even something as basic as acknowledging and accepting that city pagans don’t celebrate or see the seasonal changes like country witches will go a long way to alleviating the need to constantly celebrate the seasons as they’re dictated to us in mainstream paganism instead of how we see them – it’s not arrogance or a sense of being better that leads me to say that, it simply is what it is. I live in a pastoral district so the agricultural year is right up in my face, I look out my front door and I see those seasons, I see the changes happening and I experience it quite fully but still very differently from some one who lives in Tasmania,  Queensland or New South Wales.

There’s a way to go in Paganism I think as we all need to fully accept that Australia doesn’t have four recognisable and generic seasons in every place so the Northern Hemisphere seasons are completely irrelevant to us. To truly connect to the land and its spirit, we have to work with it instead of trying to make it fit us and I think at that point, we’ll find ourselves sharing a powerful bond with the land around us.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

PDU – Lammas

(Bit late with my post)

I’m not generally one for the celebrating of Sabbats, I tend to do a family dinner and acknowledge that the seasons are changing, if I do celebrate the Sabbats, it’s usually the Solstices and Equinoxes but this year I think I’m going to give a shout out to Lammas. Why? Because this year I truly feel that we are beginning the harvest season. We’ve plenty of cherry tomatoes on the vine, chillies on the plant and radishes in the garden. The plants are flowering, the herbs growing strong and my black nightshades and daturas are flowering and developing berries and seeds.

Cherry Tomatoes

Breakfast Radishes

Plus the weather actually feels like it’s beginning to change. Yes, we’re probably in for some more hot weather, it’s natural here to have it but at the same time Summer has been incredibly mild which has meant the gardens have had time to do their thing (which is why the veg is going nicely). I’ve enjoyed this summer so far because it has been incredibly mild, I still have blankets on my bed (and believe me, as I sit here I am knocking every bit of wood around me to make sure my words don’t inflict epically horrendous summer weather on us for the remainder of February), and I’ve enjoyed a spate of wearing long pants (which I’d rather do than shorts) and in the evening, long shirts. We’ve been getting nights as cool as 12 degress celsius and it’s been fabulous (yes I’m knocking wood again). 

Amigo Chillies

Black Nightshade

I’ve planted seeds and put in seedlings of pumpkin (three varities), kale, beetroot, onion, silverbeet, baby spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, beans and peas, herbs aplenty (like peppermint and stevia), green manured a future herb plot (it’ll be my tiny house herb garden), some nice flowers, planted some trees and invested in a Youngberry that I firmly believe is not going to die (because of the lack of severe heat). I think nature is showing her cyclical nature. Twenty one years ago we moved here, we had plenty of rain in summer (which we’ve also had post Christmas) and the heat was never so bad as it has been the past ten years or so. We’re coming back round to a better time weather wise (I hope) and I’m enjoying it because it means this green witch can get outside and tend to healthy, happy plants that will be providing (hopefully) nicely for the next few months.

Datura inoxia


So Lammas, while I don’t normally celebrate you, I give you much respect for being such a mild (knocking wood) Summer sabbat and I truly believe the harvest season is beginning and autumn will soon be upon us in her resplendent nature.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Grow Your Blog Party 2015 Post

Welcome to The County Witch’s Cottage, my little corner of the blogosphere. My name is Stacey (photo of me on my ‘Who Is’ page), I’m 30 (nearer to 31 really), I’m a witch, herbalist, recently certified nutritionist and tarot enthusiast but before the year is out I think I’ll have many more things to add to that list – I’m a bit of a study nut, I like to learn new things (so among that long list is past life therapy, reiki, holistic skin care products, make up artistry, horticulture and quite possibly digital photography – I’m still deciding on that one). Yep, I’m definitely a little bit learning-mad. I’m a book nut, I have bookshelves that hate me due to the rather large load they have to carry, I collect tarot and oracle decks but only those that speak to me, I’m currently trying to figure out how to perfect the Indian curry to a level that I can eat and I’m in love with Mexican food but because I have a spice sensitivity – Mexican food I can make at home. I love to garden and post more photos of that than anything else. I’m a regular contributor to the Australian Pagan Magazine, which is a wonderful experience (and a great mag for those Aussies out there wanting Australian targeted info). 

I like to make things, so I’m learning how to make soap – my first batch went really well, lathers beautifully - and plan on learning how to weave using a loom (a small one) to see how I go. I’m beginning a new regime of exercise and nutrition in order to become healthier in a way I can manage (I have some autoimmune issues), I’m not entirely happy with where I am health-wise right now and have finally plucked up the energy or perhaps the will to do something about it. I also think that as a herbalist, (possible) nutritionist and individual who is hoping to create a career from those things, it wouldn’t do to not be healthy myself. Since I am not particularly fond of the ‘do as I say not do as I do’ school of thought, I can hardly impart that myself to others.

I also like to use brackets a lot when I write (shameful I know).

I am looking to this year to grow as a person and to finally put my life in order health wise, spiritually and career wise, I wouldn’t say I’ve been aimless but I’ve not funneled any energy into creating the life I want but with the courses I am doing (and have done) and the tiny house I am building (and by 'I am' I mean my stepdad is going to be doing most of the heavy lifting), I’ve slowly started to put the pieces together (gads, I’m finally growing up, what a terrifying prospect).  I’m looking to be fit, healthy, happy, advanced in my spirituality and doing what I love. So I suppose that is what you will find in this blog, the things that I love to do. If you’re at all interested I have a tarot/oracle blog here and a herbal blog here, (although that herbal blog will probably be more focused on my health journey for a while). For my soon-to-be herbal business blog go here (yes it’s pretty much sparse right now….it’s another goal…I have a few). 

In the spirit of all things herbal and lovely, I am offering up as a prize 6 herbal pinches of your choice, posted anywhere in the world. What is a herbal pinch you ask? All the necessary info is HERE as well as a list of the available herbs (go down to the listing description section, that’s where the list of herbs is). The winner will be completely random and hopefully surprised! (Just make sure there is a way I can contact you).

I hope you like my blog, feel free to have a look around, comment or write me an email (email address is in the right hand column under profile image); I’m quite happy to answer any questions and I will definitely be checking out the blogs in the party! 

Herbal Pinch

*Update* I realised I negated to actually put a finish date so I was thinking 25th Feb, it allows a month since the start of the GYB Party and it gives everyone plenty of time to pop by and say hi.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

PDU - Altars

Altars are an interesting part of any witch’s practice. We all vary so much on the use and importance of altars in personal practice; (Australis Incognita wrote a really beautiful post for PDU). I don’t think my post will be as lyrical or beautiful because I tend to not actually use my altar (or any altar as such) all that much. I have one, I have items on it that relate to my path but it is more of a touchstone of where I am at any given time in my practice than a practical space that is for working.  Here is a photo of my altar as it stands right now; it reflects the green elements of my craft.

Weed Wife & Maiden, Mother, Crone by the wonderfully excellent Rima Staines
Carved Triple Hare to represent the hedge by the fantastic Moore Designs
Datura spirit bottle
Herb charm bottle
Handcrafted altar candle
Various crystals
New grimoire (embossed leather with lovely handmade pages)
Cat (cos I love mine)
Greenman plaque

All of these things are representations of aspects within the journey I am taking. They’re not used all that much because I’m a lazy witch who really needs to get her stuff together (I’m trying, honestly) and get on with crafting a better spiritual practice. And I will. Eventually. 

But how does one go about creating an altar? They’re personal spaces reflecting your path so there is no one way or right way to do it. It’s pretty well intuition as to how it comes together. The problem is, you could research until the cows come home and every site/book/person will have a different way of doing things. So let’ start with the basics. 

An Altar Cloth – this is the base of your altar so to speak, the foundation on which everything else will sit. However it is not mandatory to have an altar cloth, it could be a lovely piece of wood, a flat surface that suits you – my altar has a handcrafted Celtic tile, this was made by my parents as a gift so it is very special to me. I do however have a black altar cloth on the wall above my altar; it has the cardinal points and glows in the dark (and yes, it is awesome).

If you’re Deity inclined, your altar set up for each one could be something like:

Left Side for the Goddess:

White or Silver candle to represent the Goddess
A Statue of a Goddess (if you intend to represent her that way or if you have a statue of a Deity you work with)
Your Chalice
Bowl of Water

Right Side for the God:

Candle either Gold or Yellow
God Statue (if you intend to represent her that way or if you have a statue of a Deity you work with)
Bowl of Salt

For each of the elements:

Earth: Pentacle, bowl of salt, stones, plants or a green candle
Water: Bowl of water, seashells, cauldron or blue candle
Fire: Red stones, charcoal, dagger or red candle
Air: Incense, feathers, bells or a yellow candle 

Having everything representing each element is neither necessary nor practical, or even has to be done – it really depends on your practice. My altar guide here is based more on the Wiccan view of altar arranging simply because as I am a hedge witch with the trad bent – and this would be the same for many other practitioners who follow a similar path – the altar reflects my practice. Some will have bones, banes and other bits that have nothing to do with elements or Deity. They may have their altar strictly dedicated to their spirits or ancestors so therefore would reflect that.

Your Grimoire or Book of Shadows can sit on your altar or underneath it as mine does (I have a shelf that it sits on, saves room). My altar is also a cabinet of sorts that holds my herbs and other bits and pieces, everything is together in one central location. This may or may not work for you. If you find that you can’t keep an altar up permanently buy a nice box, decorate it and keep your items in it until you need them. Though I would perhaps streamline what you need for your altar because you may not be able to have everything on it at once if this is the case.

The best advice I can give for building an altar is always personalise it; after all it will be a reflection of you and your own spiritual practices, you will be working with it. Don’t let anyone tell you it has to be done a specific way because you’ll likely end up with a space you don’t connect with, and if you don’t connect with it, you’ll not be able to successfully work with it.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Big Prize Pack Comp!

I am part of a huge prize competition that starts on the 21st Jan, 2015 ends 8th Feb 2015. It is open for international participants, the rules are in the right hand bar, just click the 'See More' link.

You can go in the running to win a $419 prize pack full of lovely goodies from 8 different stores.

For full details the prize pack and competition go to: MidSummer Love Comp