Friday, 15 July 2016

The Cailleach’s Cloak

Outside the temperature is dropping, winter is definitely here and She is drawing her cloak over my part of the world. The Oak’s leaves are slowly falling to the ground, their colour a gorgeous shade of umber drifting to the ground creating a carpet of ready to protect and mulch the tender ground. But even has the Oak joins the Maple, Elm, Blackthorn and Ash in losing leaves and slowly descending into their winter slumber, a great time of fertility and greening is abounds. The lilies have begun to rise, as has the jonquils and dutch irises. The nettles reach for the sky, seeking light. The grass begins to grow anew as the weather brings dew, frost and rain. Nature is coming to life even as some of her begins to disappear.

Winter is the time we look forward to here. Tanks get refilled, gardens get a much needed soaking and the vast pastoral tract I live in begins to parade the various shades of green as crops begin to grow. For a time often spoken of in hushed tones, winter here is celebrated. It gets cold here, don’t mistake me on that, sometimes even to below 0, but there is so much to see, to revel in, to experience. The sun provides some warmth so greenhouses become hives of activity as tender seedlings slowly unfurl and greet the day. It is a time to organise the garden, to begin building new ones and work on the old ones. It is a time for quiet and contemplation, for the days are shorter, the nights longer. As the dark begins to close in earlier and earlier, you appreciate the daylight hours and realise the nights are for books, hot tea and warmth. 

As I curl up with a good book, hearing the howling outside, I am reminded of the wholeness of the world outside, the vastness of what lies before us. As the wind tears leaves from trees and wrests away wayward branches, I am reminded of the sheer awesome power that flows and ebbs, of my place as Keeper and Steward of my land and the Spirits who inhabit it. I hear the horses whinny outside, the fox call during the night, the sheep who bleat, the owls reminding us that they own the night and the small creatures who scurry about, little nails on the roof, and those that dig to hide beneath the surface. They all seek to hide, thrive or survive the coming winter. As I sit I can feel the great Cailleach drawing her cloak over me, embracing me within her earthen mass. I hear her most often now, although she is never truly quiet at any time of the year. Old Woman wants her offerings and thanks for the season ahead and I oblige her for I am grateful that winter has come.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Lazy Sunday Wildcrafting

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Albert Einstein

I had been dreaming of wildcrafted blackthorn and hawthorn for the longest time, I wanted to find them and bring them home with me, invite them in, experience them, meet them in person and see the majesty of who they are. I know Oak, I know Yew but I was only acquainted with the dry materials of the hedges of my ancestors. My small blackthorn trees are yet to mature, they grow slowly but comfortably in my garden but I did not know their wildness. So one Sunday I grabbed my fellow enthusiast gardener (also known as Mum) and we headed to a plant show about an hour away. To my delight, after the plant show (yes I came home with a boot load of plants), with careful exploration, I discover the fruit-laden, wild growing hawthorn and blackthorn, interspersed with wild plum and rosehip and a great discovery of the bright orange firethorn. My heart beat, and as I ask for permission, I could feel them reach out to me, curious yet open 

There is a sense of quiet as I walk among the trees, these ancient-minded hedges carrying the DNA of their ancestors from across the pond. I can feel their energy, they whisper quietly in the late afternoon sun and I wonder at their majesty, the secrets they must hold; and then I sadly wonder at the knowledge, the lost medicine the hedges hold. We are no longer in touch with nature, we no longer hear her cry or understand that we are nature, we are part of the whole; I see the hedges laden with hips, berries and haws and see that we no longer understand the ancient language of the trees. We no longer know the medicine and the knowledge that kept our ancestors alive, kept them healthy, is lost to so many. I see it as I wildcraft, that if we remembered what the hawthorn, the rosehip and the blackthorn could do, the hedges before me wouldn’t be laden, they would be almost bare because we would be embracing the medicine and magic and healing ourselves once again in the way of our ancestors.

So I bring home my afternoon harvest and begin to divide it, sloes in brandy – some dried for magical use, hawthorns to be dried for medicinal use, plums set aside for a small jam and as I process my efforts I thank the land for the bounty it provides. It is almost the secret that only a few share, we know the land, we know what can be found and what can be shared. Somehow, in amongst the craziness of life, there is still the beating heart of the land, waiting for us to once again beat with Her.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Moonflower Bounty

The Moonflowers are blooming, their perfumery filling the air, their beauty abounds, showing grace and power. I love Datura, it is my spirit plant, my wise ally and powerful friend.

The beautiful, mystical Datura metel var fastuosa
(I love this photo, I couldn't believe how it turned out)

The lovely Datura stramonium

One gorgeous Datura inoxia

Another beautiful Datura inoxia

And the stunningly magical Datura metel var fastuosa continues to bloom

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Turning Wheel

This is a post that had been percolating on my computer for a month or so, gathering dust, being re-written and edited several times - I just wasn't sure I had put everything into words that I was thinking. But for better or worse, here it is.

Life can throw you an interesting turn on occasion. Sometimes you find yourself starting out on a path not knowing what lies ahead - before you get to far down the path you realise shit just got real and there is more going on than you know. You look all around you and there are things waiting for you, demanding, asking, cajoling - wanting. It really becomes a question of whether or not you can keep walking that road; can you accept what lies down that road? Can you look to what is waiting and keep moving forward without fear? Can you accept that you are no longer a completely autonomous being, that others are making a claim on you? Can you walk the path of mystic and witch, knowing that if you accept what has happened and what is to come, life will change? Can you accept that your entire path may change – or if it doesn’t change – grow in ways that you had not anticipated nor expected? Can you get past the terrifying idea that you can no longer be so half assed and lackadaisical about practicing your Craft because those who have become known to you and claimed you will not allow it? Can you walk in this world and the next and not lose who you are?

These are questions I have found myself asking lately because there has been a rather dramatic shift in my path. Things have been happening that were – are – unexpected and have me questioning everything. The door has been thrown wide open and what is on the other side is no longer content to wait for me to make up my mind and take that last step.   They’re now seeking my attention, they are now expecting things of me, I don’t know what those things are yet – and I’m not ashamed to say I am a little bit afraid of what lies ahead. It’s no secret I’ve always been a bit lazy about my Craft, I’ve written about it often enough but there’s been a shift this year for me, a slow build that has now kicked itself into overdrive. I have found myself the beacon of interest for two very interesting Others – and they are not polite, fluffy sorts. They are primal, ancient and as yet unnamed. They are very different from one another, they exist in different spaces and they each have made a claim on me. I am running scared because I now realise that what has passed for my being a witch up until now is no longer acceptable and I am going to have to wear the mantle of Green, truly walk the path I spoke of because they will have it no other way. In this world I was once a simple witch with a simple heart and a lazy attitude but from here that kind of attitude will not be acceptable.

From this I understand that I am required to make more effort, to actually put more into my Craft, my practice and learn, grow, change. I am standing on a precipice and all it would take is one shove – I can feel the fingers on my back already, an insistent nudge from those who require something of me. I imagine soon it will become a proper shove. I never quite realised when I started on this path, working with my wonderful mentors, that I would find myself challenged, changed, confronted and consequently choosing to walk roads that had often been too hard. I have learned that when those who choose to claim you, choose you as their student and initiate, hard becomes a very real part of your life; because of who they are they require absolute attention from you when they reach out to you. I promise one day I shall speak of them, but right now the relationship is new, I do not know them well nor they me however I have the feeling they see deeper into me than I do myself. Within me they have chosen to see something that is full of potential. It’s humbling if not somewhat terrifying. 

Because of this, I have found myself leaning toward a more introspective path right now, taking time to explore what it all means and how it is going to impact what I do long term. I feel as though there is one final step before the parts of the whole are revealed and I need to be able to focus on taking that final step otherwise I shall never do it. And if I don’t I feel that I will miss out on something incredible. So as such, there has also been a downturn business-wise.

I have deleted my items for sale from my Facebook page and left only the readings and Wormwood kit in my Etsy store – it is all part of the changes I am feeling right now. I want to craft for the love of it, to do it when the mood moves me to and let my inner creativity forge something with hand or herb that is beautiful, powerful and honest. I haven’t been all that inspired lately, there have been some flashes of ideas, but for the most part I’ve not created anything new in months and it is because there is a plug somewhere that is blocking it all – whether that is my latest run of ill health or lack of motivation I don’t know. I am seeking inspiration again and as always, I look to my garden and the world around me – it’s speaking to me and sharing its ideas and spirit with me. I will still sell artisan handcrafted items – they’ll be listed as and when I make them.

I want to write more too. I have so many ideas for articles and blog posts but I never find the time to sit and write and this needs to change. I love writing, I’ve always been intensely passionate about it – the reason for originally starting this blog was as an outlet for the crazy ideas running around my mind. If you looked at the first couple of years of posting to now, you’d see there was a dramatic downshift in the amount of posts I was posting. I didn’t feel I had anything to say or anything to contribute to the wider world. I almost hamstrung myself because I had embraced that silent enemy of all writers – self doubt. Now I find that I want to write again – fiction, non fiction, blog posts – all of it. Perhaps this new journey, this new road will open up new possibilities, new ideas, new experiences to be written about.

Come the New Year, I think the Country Witch’s Cottage will have some big changes happening – what those are yet, I’m not entirely sure but I have a feeling it will begin unfolding soon and a better, brighter future awaits.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Garden Porn or PDU: Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox will soon be on us, but I rather think Spring is quite in full swing in my garden right now. The photos are but a sample of what is going insane in the garden right now, I kid you not, all this and more is right outside my door.

(Somehow half of that ended up rhyming...)