Mirror, mirror

Time is squeezing. Sometimes it opens up like a view from high hills. Right now it feels like a packed tube train in rush hour. It is upon me before I know it and then, for a while, I waste even more wishing for the open spaces back. My mum’s condition has worsened. As I write I’m on her bed keeping company while she settles to sleep…

This shift, coupled with a tendency to perfectionism, can stifle any kind of creativity. I am finding that what helps is doing something. Today’s something was a small and simple piece of mirror magic, which I thought you might enjoy too.

You will need:

1 small mirror pre-threaded (I found mine for £4 on Amazon)

A Sharpie or other marker

Optional: a sprig of fresh rosemary and tape

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This is a basic piece of mirror magic. When completed you will hang it in the porch or on your front door.

Take your mirror. With the Sharpie write on the back your intention or wish, for instance “only love may enter here”.

If you are using rosemary (a great herb ally for protection spells) tape it to the back of the mirror too.

Your mirror spell will send back or away anything you don’t want (negative energies) to whence it came

So mote it be. Mischief managed.

Happy witching ❤

Altared images

This post comes out of some work with a client and I thought it would be good to share it.

I’ve been creating altars for around five years now.  I didn’t really know they were altars to begin with, I would arrange stones or shells I’d collected, a few flowers or feathers, a jar of seeds, these were objects of reverence for me.

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When I began working with the wheel of the year I created seasonal altars linking to the Sabbats and the wheel.

For me an altar is a focal point for spiritual practise and also an aide memoire. I often use mine to place cards I am currently working with, or runes I’m studying.

I generally include representations of the four elements, for instance:

  • For earth – a stone, crystal, pot plant
  • For water – a small bowl of water, a shell
  • For air – a feather, bell, singing bowl
  • For fire – a candle or even a dried chilli

I like to have crystals I’m working with or a bowl of crystals for my current theme or area of development, so for instance if I’m working with creativity I would have orange crystals for the sacral chakra or clear quartz to aid vision.

I have some of Molly Remer’s story goddesses and they are lovely as a representation of the divine, you could also use a card deck for images of deity (Meggan Watterson has the Divine Feminine oracle for example if you are working currently mostly with the goddess, or Kyle Gray’s Keepers of the Light has some lovely images of both god/ goddess archetypes.)

My altar evolves as I do. I clean it regularly to keep the energy fresh. I have used altar cloths in the past (usually coloured scarves which I can pick up for a reasonable price at the market or in a thrift store) but as it’s accessible and at cat height this isn’t always a good idea!!

I also like to create a seasonal altar, or adapt my altars according to the seasons.  For example for Imbolc this year I used a green cloth, green and yellow crystals, a mandala I’d painted, a Brigid story goddess and had some fresh daffodils and a green candle.

I’ve created altar spaces outside or on small trays to tuck them onto bookshelves, and mini travel altars to take away on holiday with just a few small pieces as a reminder.

An altar is your sacred space, allow it to reflect your journey, provide a focal point, and a reminder of your daily practice…you can add pictures of loved ones, both here and in the after life, or a favourite pop icon (I have Carrie Fisher on mine).

Enjoy creating!

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Right now

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In this moment magic lies.

Not in the future, imagined in  creative visualisation, or planned in bullet points, a ladder to desired outcomes.

This is a trap, I find, a cord to chain me.

When I cut it I realise that the moment is now.  To create with the tools here, a pen, paper, a candle, herbs from the kitchen jars, oil that, earlier, I used to make eggs.

Often sadness comes from “my plans”; dissappointment, envy, frustration.

When I allow the brush to wander, the pen to dance, something unexpected unfolds.

Enchanted.

How to…work some candle magic

I was talking with a friend earlier, and I remembered what it was like a while ago, when I was beginning to work in a more witchy way and I wanted to know all the stuff.  Back then I thought I could get it right, that there was a recipe or formula to follow and that I needed instructions.

I didn’t.

But it helps to have someone show you how.  This is a “how to” guide for candle spells.

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The first thing to say is that you are no stranger to candle magic.  We are plugging into this energy when we make a wish and blow out birthday candles.  You’ve got this.

“Magic” is a bit like art.  Actually, magic is art.  It’s a creative expression of your intention, worked out in thought, word and action.  It is a concrete expression of a wish.  And the action of making it, the work of crafting, is the domino-push to that wish becoming reality.

Candle spells are one of my favourite ways to work simple, everyday magic.

Firstly a health warning.  You can buy beautiful, beeswax candles, source hand-blended magical oils, purchase moon-blessed herbs and find ornate athames on Etsy.

All of these things are lovely to work with.

But they aren’t where the magic is.  To borrow from a well-known song; it ain’t what you use, it’s the way that you use it.

Right now, I imagine, in your house, is everything you need to work a little candle magic.

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Here I will make a suggestion for a **possible** framework for a specific kind of spell.  BUT (see, it’s a big but; stop sniggering at the back there) none of the “stuff” is essential.  Intention, your desire, your wish, is everything.

So let’s imagine this scenario.  A client comes to see me.  She is experiencing frequent headaches and anxiety.  She would like to work some candle magic to complement (note: complement… this work IS NEVER A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL CARE) the treatment she is receiving from her G.P.

  • First of all we sit down and talk.  I find out that she is anxious due to work-related stress and the headaches are a result of her lack of sleep.
  • I choose a green candle, as this colour is good when working with health.
  • Next I choose lavender oil for its calming properties and frankincense oil for protection.  I drop a few drops of oil onto the candle and make sure its well covered.
  • After this I take a sharp tool (a bent paperclip works best) and scratch her initials into the wax.  You can also use a sigil or other relevant symbol (e.g. for a money spell a pound/ dollar sign).
  • Next I secure the candle onto a dish or holder.  I choose bloodstone, amethyst and green calcite to place on the dish, all for healing, calming and sleep support.
  • I take some feverfew and sprinkle it on the dish around the candle (for the headaches), some lavender (for the anxiety and sleep issues) and some galangal to speed things along. I could also have mixed these in with my oil and used them to dress the candle but it can be hard to make them “stick”.
  • I take a piece of green paper.  On this I write (I like using gold pen but that’s just me being sparkly, a blue Bic is also fine) the client’s name and date of birth and my  intention. You can make the intention rhyme, or you can just write it out.  Make it very clear what you want to happen e.g. I want (insert name)’s headaches to go, her anxiety to be eased and her to sleep well.  Place this under the dish.  I like to read it out loud three times too, just so the universe/ goddess/ divine knows for sure 🙂
  • Now I light the candle and watch it burn down.  And so it is.

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It is good form with any kind of spell work to ask first.  When I was in the church I would always ask before I prayed for someone, it avoids the risk of interfering with their free will (of course, there will always be exceptions, but that’s not today’s post).

For a basic candle spell you will need:

  • A candle
  • Matches
  • A bent paperclip
  • Paper and a  pen

You might want to choose some basil or olive oil or cinnamon from your cupboards if you have them.  See how you feel, listen to the nudges and prompts from your spirit, your intuition, for what you  need…

Now. Go make some magic, if you’d like to come and share your pictures and explorations on the Facebook page.

Valley

landscape-404072_960_720Oh boy, here we go again.

It’s been one of those weeks where I have been wrestling demons.

It sounds impressive.  My demons are petty.  They grumble from the back seat of the car when I’m driving, they point and jeer when I’m using social media.  They remind me of what I am not, who I am not, what I have not achieved and so forth.  They are strident and bitchy.  Secondary school bullies who know me well and know where I hide my shadows.

I started a gratitude practice about a month ago.  When I discovered this concept it was so obvious I felt ridiculous, and it was hugely powerful.  I felt life shift, a sea-change, I decided to stop therapy; I wanted to process and absorb everything that was coming to the surface, allow it fully to integrate.

At the same time as this enormous shift my “dream job” I wrote about previously dissappeared like a bubble into the blue, and I made the decision to return to employment.  So far, so ordinary.  I was fortunate that a suitable role came up quickly and that I was able to apply for it and be offered the post.  I started work last week.

It was a good week.  It was good to be back in school, children are magical, they have unique perspectives and unpretentious wisdom.  It was good to have colleagues again, it is a beautiful place to work and my morning commute takes me through the Kentish countryside; rolling chalk downland, orchards, vineyards, flint-clad churches, red-brick cottages.  Beautiful.

I managed a whole week at work, despite a lousy cold, and made it to the weekend.  We rounded the week off with a belated birthday celebration at a local Moroccan restaurant.  My cup was full.

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But something happened yesterday.  Tiredness? The ongoing challenge of living in an extended family and supporting someone who lives with dementia?  The dawning realisation, as we begin to properly settle in, that this is a long-haul commitment?

It is the slow, sad ache of feeling not.  Not enough.  Not where I want to be.  Not young enough.  Not strong enough.  Not motivated enough.

It is an old pain.  I see it in children I work with.  The sadness when they are not chosen for the gold star award, the deflated posture when they aren’t picked to answer the question and receive praise.  It is an insidious enemy and one which can lead us into “giving up”.

As always I want to know what to do about this.  A starting point is always; stop staying up so late reading and get some sleep.  But it’s also worth considering that maybe “doing” isn’t going to help.

Because piling pressure on when you’re vulnerable is a sure-fire way to feeling even less.

I want to believe I am enough.  Some days I can.  Others it’s difficult.  And this is why it’s a spiritual “practice”.  This is why I have to work at it.  Daily, gently and slowly.  There are those peak experiences, those moments of joy and affirmation, I love those!  Then there are the moments of feeling small and vulnerable and defeated.

At those moments I’m like Chicken Licken in the children’s tale.  I think the sky is falling. That’s it, game over! I want to run for cover, get under the duvet, stay there in my blanket fort.

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Now that I write this it feels funny, humourous, mad.  Of course it’s not the end of the world.  It’s just an acorn.  An uncomfortable and unexpected blip on the head.  I can pause, rub my head, feel confused.  Then I have to get up in the morning, take a shower, look in the mirror and say, “I am pure magic, one of a kind and aweseome.” 

Then, I’ll raise my eyebrows and say something self-deprecating.  And then I will say it again each time I meet myself in the mirror.

No-one else can be you.  Or me.  Whatever we are doing, whatever we are seeking to create or share or offer, it’s ours. Astonishing because we are working for it, through it, in it, in the middle of everything.

It’s a time of shadows.  The valley floor is dark and damp.  But the land is shifting, climbing now,  time to get higher, get perspective.  Take in the surroundings.

It’s already a different world.

Stranger things

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I am unwinding a life.  Two and a half years of self-employment comes to an end today and on Monday I am back to work.

I am excited for this new beginning; to have colleagues again, and the pattern of the school year, to release the fear of where (and when) the next contract is coming from.  I am looking forward to the rituals of sports’ day and seasonal celebrations.  It will be good to feel I am supporting an organisation and contributing.

It wasn’t expected.  I had other plans.  Sometimes things fall apart and you have to change direction, look at the stars, the sun, steer a new course.

Unwinding…

I have stopped several work streams which have been important over the past eight years, pulled back from others, I am cancelling websites and plans.  It is strange.  After so long of trying to make one thing work, to be folding it up and putting it away.

I can be slow on the uptake.  I repeat a pattern, only I don’t realise it’s a pattern because I have cunningly chosen to locate it in a different place, or with other people.

I am learning to paint a new pattern.  It is not even, or regular.  It does not “make sense”, it is not tidy or expected.  My teachers would shake their heads, grown-ups would look at it baffled.

But there is joy in it, simplicity, freedom, hope, beauty.

And a measure of grace.

 

Time travel letters

I’m working through The Artist’s Way at the moment.  I am celebrating having got to week four.  One of the tasks is to write letters to yourself, both from the past and from the future.  I thought they were really interesting!

From eight year old me:

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Remember to dream, to imagine, to be wild, to be outside, to climb trees, to get lost in books, to play at the beach, to dig a sand hole big enough to hide in, to play on the swings, to eat blackberries straight from the brambles, to jump in puddles, to collect feathers and shells, to lick cake mix from the spoon, to go outside in the rain and let the drops fall on your tongue.

From eighty year old me:

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You are doing your best, which is all anyone can ask.

Be kinder to youself. Play more. Day dream.

When it comes down to it you will realise you need very little.  Make peace with yourself. You are a child of the universe and she loves you.

Enjoy creation.  Enjoy your people.  In the end it doesn’t make much sense so enjoy the ride, take it as it comes.  Seek joy.

With love

Fiona xx

The key

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Things are different now.  For the past three years I have been working on the basis that everything is ok.

I couldn’t face the alternative.

A rat in a lab maze, I ran hither and yon, pushing the button, get the treat, try again, and again, and again.  Keep on keeping on. Keep calm.  Look for the silver lining.

The definition of stupidity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

There is a magic at work here I cannot control.  In truth nothing is ok.

It is three years since my mum had an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and then, three weeks later, a stroke.  I was in the first week of a new job, a job I’d been waiting for for almost four years,  finally  available.   My fortunes were about to change.  We would buy the house, and do all the things we’d planned to do when we met.

That week my world began to unravel.  I know that Alzheimer’s leads to dementia.  And I know that dementia is a life-limiting condition.  I know that a stroke can make the symptoms worse.

In that week I chose to lock it up, all the fear and sadness, and to do what my family does; soldier on.  should have fallen apart.  But I don’t do that.  I deal with it.  I rise to the circumstances.  I cope. Grief is messy and my inner teacher tells me there is no use crying over spilt milk and anyway it hasn’t happened yet, so get on with it.

This kind of avoidance, though, leads to something nasty brewing in the woodshed,   beneath the surface, half-sensed, , the dull ache of infected tissue, toxic and breeding.

I began to get sick.  The job was very stressful, I was working additional hours for myself.  I did not understand my symptoms, or their root, and eventually I had to give up the job due to poor health.

It took a long time to recover.  I started therapy.  Things improved, but something was still “off”.  I felt stuck.  There was something I couldn’t see.  I could sense it, I could feel its breath on my neck, catch the shadow at the edge of vision, but when I turned there was nothing there.

The shadow has been growing.

We made the decision to move in with my parents.  Life unpeeled further.  Home gone, possessions in storage, my work space also gone, work patterns disrupted, income halved.  The helter-skelter picked up speed, I was no longer in control, the first domino gone the rest were falling down, a click-clack spiral, beautiful destruction.

It arrived like an unwanted visitor.  Suddenly unlocking the door I had so carefully secured and hidden. She is here now, cloaked in grey, ash-smeared, this grief.

I am sad.  I am sad that I am losing my mum. I am sad that my friend and confidant is gone, that I can’t have her back.  I am sad that this illness, or a by-product, will take her from me.  I am sad that my dad is in so much pain, watching the woman he loves suffer and diminish.  Sad about what she didn’t have in her own life, her health having been so challenged the past ten years.  I am sad that I can’t do anything to make it better.

There are moments of lightness. She still has her humour, she loves nature and delights in the garden birds.  Fairy lights make her smile and she enjoys familiar films and songs.  I am holding these moments, like magpie treasures, glimpses of gold.  They will pass soon enough.

I had thought I could avoid this place.  If, I reasoned, I could understand what I’m thinking about this, if I can rationalise it, I will be able to avoid the pain. I have tried so hard to “keep going”, I have lectured myself into activities, projects, plans.  I have driven myself to complete tasks and hold visions and push, push, push as though this will make it better, or will give some kind of relief.  I think of the all the cliches of people losing themselves in their work.  I would see it in someone else. I couldn’t in myself.

It is  sad.  And nothing I can do will stop it being sad for a long time.

I open my hand.  The petals I have clenched from my dream-flowers are withered.  I cannot keep them tight-fisted anymore.  I will let them go, borne on the breeze, across the sea.  I have opened my hand.  They fly to the moon.  Dust and ashes. There is no medicine for this beyond time and patience.

The spiral waits.  Whisper the words, croon them, a spell woven with breath. Be gentle with the small soul-self who sits weeping in the corner. Be kind to the organised, brave self who offers projects and distractions.  Hold them close and show them.  It is time.  Let go.  Allow it and allow it and allow it.

This is just the beginning.

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Transitions

f4e93e66-6e0a-4d6e-a9f5-8afd5125c172The darkest time and in the shadows things fall away.

I had a coaching session about fifteen months ago with Lauren Barber when I expressed a wish to stop working in education. After the session I was full of determination, I began unpicking strands of that work, but I found it hard to put it all down. It was so safe and known and people get it.  The work kept coming in dribs  and drabs. I kept saying yes. I kept telling people I wanted to leave education. But I kept doing it…Then a big contract ended suddenly, and at around the same time we moved and I lost my work space.

I can be pretty slow on the uptake at times. It seems to me obvious today that this was an ideal time to make a change. I could have said thanks to the universe and got busy with my “joy job” of healing, guiding and supporting others.

Instead I panicked and started trying to breathe new life into that old work stream. I grabbed at straws. I stumbled on with a foot in two camps, lurching from one kind of work to another, over-stretched, confused, anxious. I kept looking back and being angry with the way things had worked out, annoyed with business colleagues and the fact that I felt badly treated. It’s not fair (stamps feet, sits on floor, pouts). I was working hard to create my heart work stream but it was slow, stop-start progress, as I lacked the focus and energy, the force of intention and I split my attention across five different jobs.

Today I was once again looking back, feeling frustrated and betrayed, how hard I’ve worked, I told myself, and what for? It came suddenly, out of the sub-conscious,  a good old slap from the universe. Hey sugar plum, say my guides, what are you moaning about? They did you a favour! This is what you wanted, what you’ve been dreaming about and manifesting the past eight years, a little thank you would be nice, instead of your personal pity-party. Say thanks to those people who “let you down” say thanks for the fact that they peeled away the things you no longer needed…(universe folds arms, taps feet, looks kind of pissed).

Oops.

Ok, erm, noted.

I’m sure I’ve done this before. I wish for something and then when it shows up I keep looking beyond it, like I can’t see it somehow, or can’t believe it.

This month I’m doing work in two of my classes on transformations (in The Circle  ) and transitions (with  Angel Tribe). It’s time to do differently. Stop looking back and just put all that shiz down and move the flip on. It’s a gosh darn dream come true to have a chance to do the new work I’ve been given. The old served a purpose, had its place, but it’s time to say goodbye, create a little magic to let it go and move on.

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Adventure stories for boys

8235349C-DC45-4D2B-9D89-2E54C3498514.jpegHe is about nine years old. They have crossed the railway lines, steam engines belching smoke and fire. Sooty dragons passing. The castle is under siege and they must protect it. They scale the volcanic mass, ancient lava spell-fixed, frozen beneath them, its jagged forms gifting hand and toe holds. The upward journey is easy. It is the descent which traps them. Ignomy as the fire brigade are called to get them down and later, his mother’s strap across the back of his legs to teach a lesson. It stings.

He learns. To be more careful next time, avoid being caught…there’s things to be doing in this city, scaffolding to climb, bonfire gangs and gaps in the gazelle fences giving a free pass to the zoo. A boy has things to be about .

~for Andrew x