Thursday, 26 March 2015

PDU - Autumn Equinox

Late again - I know, it's shocking but here I am, my entry ready nonetheless.

Autumn is my favourite season, the colours, the cooling weather, the smells - it all makes me feel like I'm in a very sacred place. Plus my birthday is during Autumn - actually just the other side of the Equinox as luck would have it so it all ties together. To me, it always does feel like the season of the witch, my senses tingle and I feel the urge to do more, explore more, learn more. I'm settling in to begin more crafting, herbal making, I'm planning to get my tinctures ready for the winter season and sorting out some more witchy adventures! I always feel more in tune during this season, it's like something in me clicks and I get more energy, I'm looking forward to the cooler weather so that I can begin taking my plans from theory to practical.

I spent this Equinox at a Pagan event, one I was quite involved in. My second year going, my first year being involved. It's a lot of fun with some really fantastic people. It's always hard for me to easily connect with people so it's great to be among those who think similarly. There was a ghost tour of a gaol, a nighttime ritual, daytime workshops (I presented two) and late night chatting. There were new friends made, steps made in solidifying friendships made last year. All around it was a wonderful way to spend the holiday and I'll certainly be looking forward to it next year!!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lessons Learned or The Country Witch Gets A Reality Check

Spirit/Energy Neutral – that’s me. I have no relationships with spirits or energy because I don’t feel it, it’s always seemed quite pointless to bother forcing something that doesn’t come naturally – or at all as the case is with me. I’ve always been fine with that, it never particularly bothered me. I discovered this last year when I went to Gladstone Gaol for a Pagan Event, the history of the gaol is troubled, not as much as other places but it’s had its fair share of horrors so the energy in the place is quite strong – for others. For me, I felt nothing, no tingle, no chill, nada, zilch, zip (except for the eerie sense of silence in solitary but again – didn’t particularly bother me), so along I trotted in life not bothered by my lack of a spirit/energy radar. I got on with what I am good at – herbs. And life was grand (I’m beginning to think I should have started this story as once upon a time…..).

But life throws some interesting curveballs when you least expect it. Last month I was invited along to assist in a house cleansing/banishing; some damn nasty negative energy was lying around and manifesting some pretty awful behaviour toward one of the residents. Our goal was to trap the energy and get rid of it; to make sure it didn’t darken the doorstep of this particular home again – and in that respect we were all very successful. But the lesson came before we began. I walked into that door and I walked into a reality driven smack in the face. This house taught me that what was true in one place or time in my life was not so much true anymore. It could have been just this place, this month will tell I suppose at the gaol. So we four; the Diviner, the Energy Worker, the Guide and the Witch (as well as the Diviner’s husband) began the task of clearing this house of the energy that had stuck it’s claws deep into one of the residents and would not let go.

I walked through the door and I was immediately struck by a feeling of darkness and oppression. I felt a crushing weight on my shoulders, I couldn’t breathe and my shoulder blade began to hurt (a sharp pain), my head began a slow spin that progressively got worse. Once we were apprised of the situation I went outside because it was too much. The almost funny thing was, I walked past the bedroom (which was in darkness from lack of light) which had the worst energy. I barely even saw it and I think it was almost designed that way – I wasn’t even close to ready for what was in there. The Guide took care of that. I had to get outside into the light to breathe and take a moment, but once I returned inside, the feeling was ever present. The kitchen was the worst for me – but then this is where some of the very physical and unpleasant manifesting behaviour had taken place; apparently the bedroom was worse so I’m glad I missed that part of the cleansing and banishing. The Diviner lead us in our task followed by the Energy Worker smudging and clearing. The Guide tackled the energy in the bedroom and I was in charge of the front of the house. We came together in the kitchen and gave the Energy Worker time to work his Craft. When we returned into the home it was a different place, it was light, calmer, not oppressive and there was a lovely breeze blowing between the two doors. The change was palpable. We finished up with instruction and protective measures and the task was completed. The Energy Worker had to calm my third eye because my head was spinning out of control.

It was an experience I will never forget. It was both a learning experience and a lesson; a lesson not only in cleansing/banishing but also in being too arrogant in your absolute belief of something. I wouldn’t say I’m an arrogant person, I’m not, but I honestly had the belief that walking into this house, the energy wouldn’t affect me because it never has in any situation before. I expected to walk in, render assistance but not be particularly affected or changed by it. I have been, unequivocally. I’m not likely to ever forget that feeling in a hurry, it’s not one I ever really want to feel again and I think the memory of that feeling is going to stick with me for a long while to come.

Friday, 13 March 2015

PDU – Favourite Craft Tool

I’m a bit late again with my PDU post – I’ve been so busy I’ve barely had time to sit down and think. I would say my favourite craft tool (and probably no surprise here) is herbs. I don’t know what I would do without them. I don’t really use any other tools if I’m being honest, although I love my card decks so they would also be my favourite craft tool. Herbs are powerful medicine whether you use the magically, medicinally or mundanely. They’re so ingrained in our way of life that sometimes we don’t even think about them when we use them (like adding a bit of chives to mash potato or paprika to colour your roast chicken). They can be as subtle as a gentle breeze or as brash as a gale force wind. They can be easy to grow or frustratingly hard (mandrake anyone?) to coax from the soil. They provide scent, colour, magic, healing and feed. 

I use herbs in so many different ways. Incenses, tonics, tinctures, ointments, teas, candles, the garden, healing and crafting; my garden has so many different herbs in it I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many, I’m even planning another herb garden in the future (it’ll be an accompaniment to my tiny house). I’m a herbalist so my passion runs deep and I feel herbs on a soul level. Magical, medicinal and all round fantastic, herbs are my tool of choice and my favourite craft tool overall.

(Yes this one is a bit short, I’ve been so busy but the next one is Autumn Equinox and I think that post will be a bit longer given I am co-hosting and presenting there).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Blooming Poisons

The daturas are blooming and forming their beautiful seed pods, the black nightshade berries are plump and ripe, so begins the season of the witch.

Datura inoxia flower

Datura inoxia seed pod

Datura inoxia flower blooming at night

The poison garden

My Daturas and Belladonnas

One of my Black Nightshades

Berries ready for the picking

I look at my poison garden, my Henbane has been harvested, my Belladonnas grow strong, my lovely Daturas bloom and seed, the Castors grow larger, the Yew new shoots, the Blackthorn bigger, Hellebore to be repotted - it is a beautiful sight warming the heart of this witch.

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.