Friday, 24 December 2010
Thursday, 2 December 2010
As time ticks down towards the coming festivities and some of us are busy visiting santa, going to the panto and the kids school show, xmas bazaars and so on, its sometimes hard to remember to make time to sit and be still. Maybe to reflect on the past year and the new one to come. Whether you make resolutions at the new year or not, this time is one that definately encourages me to think about the past and future. I know I have mentioned before that I get this kind of feeling between Samhain and the Winter Solstice as the year and the natural cycle of life winds down into deep winter.
It seems even more important since the weather has changed drastically and so many of us are forced to stay home from work and school. Some dramatically cut off in their villages and more remote areas. Even here on the edge of the city of Canterbury, I have been given a day off work as the schools are closed for the day. Reluctant at first as I dont get paid when Im not at work and with my approaching change of career/work I cant really afford any more loss of income.
But then I decided to make this a gift to myself. I have made plans to make solstice cards with Rhiannon this afternoon and just enjoy the day for what it is. I took some photos of the view from my bedroom window and was entranced by the stillness and peace of the scene. Normally I can see buses climbing the hill behind my garden. Cars weaving up and down the road.
Today nothing moves. There is no sound of engines or people calling to each other. Even the bird song seems absent and although Im sure later there will be sounds of children enjoying snowball fights and snowman building, as I write this, I am enjoying the 'sound of the silence.'
It may be an enforced silence and rest for some of us - but welcome in the rushing busy world most of us inhabit. It reminds me to make sure I allow moments of stillness and peace into my life. Its a soul necessity.
Friday, 26 November 2010
Tomorrow starts my season of winter celebrations culminating with the winter solstice on the 21 December. Its not chosen because of a particular day - just that I tend to begin at the beginning of december or end of november depending on what activities we may be doing as a family.
It so happens that its the weekend before the beginning of december and we are starting off with a visit to santa's magical land at the hop farm in Kent to see reindeer, elves, make some yuletide crafts and meet santa. Well, Rhiannon knows its not the real santa - after all she met him last year at lapland. But we discussed this and she showed real wisdom when she said she knew it was either his 'assistant' santa's, or maybe 'because he's magical he can make himself into many different people and thats how he manages to deliver presents all over the world on 2 nights a year'. Yes - 2 nights. She knows he delivers to pagan children particularly on the eve of the winter solstice! She also 'knows' he is santa to some children, but the Green Man, or Father Nature to us! I love my pagan daughter's innocence and her ability to understand on her own level how it 'all works'!
And so we have begun our festive preparations. Last week I made her a Solstice countdown calendar - obviously we dont do advent, but I didnt want her to feel left out. Its now hanging above the fireplace and full of choccies, marshmallows and tootie fruities in each matchbox parcel ready to open on december 1st.
We prepared the clove oranges and lemons then too - and have been drying them out on the radiators for a few days, leaving their gorgeous seasonal spicy smell to waft around the house. Over the next week or so we are making our solstice cards to give to other pagan friends. For non pagan friends and family I look out for wintery card scenes with 'seasons greetings' rather than happy xmas as we still want to wish them well for the season.
A handfull of fir cones collected and glue, paint and glitter has given us a lovely bowl of decorations and today we got the tree out and decorated it ready for the month of festivities.
You might think this is too early, but it always comes down the day after the solstice - we dont have the tradition of leaving it up over the xmas period or 12th night as this is not part of our celebrations. This is also because my eldest daughter's birthday is on january 1st and when she was little and I was married to a non-pagan, we used to do both the solstice and xmas, we always took things down before her birthday so she wouldnt feel short changed and that we were celebrating Her day - not the remainder of the xmas feast. On the 25th we will probably grab a flask of hot soup, jump in the car and head out for a good stomp through the woods, followed by a boiled egg and soldiers for tea.
There is still a couple of weeks left of school, but these are full of concerts, xmaz shows, bazaars and parties to continue the theme of celebration. We have a night lantern lit parade to join in a nearby village and are going there on sunday to a workshop on lantern making too. A panto next weekend and then a midwinter festival at the ancient Chilham village on the 18th with a solstice circle, mummers, dancing, music, pagan stalls and storytelling set the scene for the final events. On the 19th - we attend a local druid grove for the Sun salutation celebration and then on the eve of the 21st, Rhiannon will put her pillow case at the bottom of the bed as Santa will fill it with goodies for the next day.
My other grown up children and grandson will be on their way to join us for our Solstice dinner and then an afternoon of silly games - pass the balloons, a homemade solstice Pinata - we are making this at the moment with papier mache over a balloon in the shape of the new Sun. And pin the mistletoe on the oak tree. A dvd and choccies will complete the most wonderful period of celebrations.
I love this time for creative crafts and fun - may you all have a wonderful solstice season and an amazing new year to come.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Its interesting for me - this time of year always has a feel of winding up and getting ready for new beginnings to follow the endings. I feel that the time between Samhain and the Winter Solstice is a big melting pot where all the things that you need to say goodbye to (whether you want to or not!) mix up with all the possibilities of things that may or will occur. This depends a lot on destiny, fate, the energy you pull to you or around you. Or if its part of your path to experience it. This is what I tend to believe anyway.
But whether you believe in fate, chance or a little bit of both which is my way of looking at it, there is definately something in the air that indicates changes on the way. Some of it is obvious - such as stuff going on in politics, the various shifts that our country leaders are arranging Benefit and social restructures, cutting jobs and other debatable situations. The recent announcement of a royal engagement - maybe there will be a change in how such an institution will affect a young royal bride this time around.
And then there are the individual changes in our own lives. I personally always feel a shift of gears about this time as if I am hurtling downhill towards an inevitable experience. Sometimes it feels exciting and I am eager for its new energy.
Sometimes I can feel out of control and have to hang on for the ride, hoping I wont fall off and break something. But whatever the situation, in a strange kind of way it still is something I welcome.
My big change coming is in my world of employment which is quite big for me as it affects all the other aspects of my life, how I support my family, my own feelings of adequacy or lack of it, prospects for my future life experiences etc. For some time now I have felt stifled in my current work for various reasons. Mainly because as an Aries, I am always best off in work where I can use my own judgment and initiative, lead from the front and put on a bit of a show! Its been hard and maybe a karmic lesson to learn, that Ive had chains put on my ability to work this way. Ive been given a gift(?) of a person in a senior post to me who is unable to allow me to be the manager Im meant to be without putting a straight jacket on my flow at work and holds me down.
Its terribly frustrating! And Ive tried to be awfully spiritual about it. Hold them in the moment, look at it as a learning experience. Appreciate I have 'drawn this to me for a reason'. But what it really boils down to is that no matter how much I have railed against it or tried to accept it and look at the bigger picture. How much I have tried to 'think outside of the box' Or done any spiritually worthy activity to explain why I am in this predicament
Actually what it really boils down to, is I am pissed off. I have had enough and im not willing to sit in this bloody box (or look outside of it) anymore!
Ive made my plans, written my lists, sorted out my escape plan and look out steve mcqueen cos my motorbike aint hitting the wire fence but sailing clean over the top.
And I have come to realise that sometimes, the lesson isnt to be placid and look for the gift in the unpleasant situation. The lesson is to get the hell out of it and grow a pair!
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Isnt it interesting how Halloween has taken hold of the nation and become a real celebratory time again. I hear lots of comments that it has become 'very American' and it's true we are seeing lots of shops jumping on the bandwaggon, decorations, food, costumes and loads of stuff being sold for halloween parties and decorating houses. You could compare it to xmas. That has become such an overblown celebration of consummerism over the last few years. I dont count the Winter Solstice in with this, because I think the celebration of Pagan festivals on the whole tends to be still seen as a spiritual event. I hope the same is for Samhain too.
Now dont get me wrong. I have no hesitation in carving my pumpkin, cutting out bats from black card and sticking glitter on them. I dont mind taking my children out to 'trick or treat' either, although its just for half an hour after we've attended an open family ritual or Pagan circle.
So how do I feel about all this?
On the one hand its great to see people acknowledge this sacred festival of ours and the slowly receding fear that so many fundamentalist Christians whipped up in the past. I can remember some years ago, some local churches trying to stamp out the harmless activities of childrens' halloween parties and dressing up as ghosties and goulies. Leaflets sent to schools to tell them of the 'dangers' of this celebration. Maybe you remember the Leeds shop 'sorcerers' apprentice' and its pagan anti-defamation campaign. I myself sent their leaflets to my children's schools hoping to enlighten them regarding this ancestral festival.
On the other hand, does it belittle this special time?
Well, actually I dont think so.
Id like to think its becoming more popular because people are beginning to open up spiritually again to the Earth and to Spirit. That once again people are seeing it as a good time to face up to the unknown. To celebrate our ancestors, family lines and acknowledge the scythe that eventually harvests us all!
However, in reality, I think it is probably likely to be because we need more things to celebrate in our lives, when we have so much that is causing problems in our current situations. Economic depressions and tightening the old belt! Like the depression of the 1920s when lavish films and musicals became popular to take people out of themselves and forget about the problems they had for a short period of time. And the late 1970s and 1980s when the economic problems were faced with the new romantics, fashions, music and credit society.
So Im not going to any of the supermarkets to stock up on a plastic monster mash singing pumpkin. Or to buy any more fake cobwebs and rubber spiders to hang around my front door. (though Im not being critical of anyone who likes these things - but I've never liked singing, dancing santa's either). Mind you I do have a collection of kids toy spiders and skeletons that like the Winter Solstice decorations, come out each year.
And today we have spent an afternoon cutting out orange card pumpkins, black bats and cats. Sticking ribbons and glitter on them. We have hung them in the window and put a funny scary mask on the front door. Later this afternoon I shall hollow out the real pumpkin (yes Im afraid it is shop bought, I didnt grow it this year!!) Make soup to freeze and pie to take to our circle tomorrow.
Tonight while my daughter sleeps I will light a candle and remember my dead.
And tomorrow afternoon we gather with friends at a nearby Druid grove to have a family based celebration, after which I will take my 2 daughters and grandson for a little wander around his neighbourhood with a bucket, dressed in scary costumes and face painted for a while to gather some sweets and shout boo at each other.
However you keep Samhain, I wish you a blessed and fruitful Celtic New Year!
Sunday, 10 October 2010
I have just had the loveliest afternoon in a long while which will probably go a long way to keep me going after the last few weeks at work!!
Living in an urban area doesnt mean I dont see the beauties of nature. But sometimes you just need to get out into the countryside and breath.
It wasnt anything particularly special. Just an autumn walk in a lovely wood. But with the weather so beautiful, the autumnal colours and the pleasure of just meandering through the trees, it was one of the nicest days ive had in a long while.
So enjoy the photos, and try to get out in the countryside if you can - while you still can!
Sunday, 26 September 2010
This weekend my son came to visit for a few days which was lovely and a total surprise when I got a call at 7am on friday morning just as I was leaving for work. He was already down - had stayed the night at a friends and hoping I hadnt left yet. I couldnt pick him up as I would be late for work, but left a key for him to let himself in.
It was lovely to have him here. He left uni in june this year and I hadnt seen him since as he lives in Essex with his dad nowadays though hopefully he will be coming down this way for good soon.
But I digress.........
I had promised to drive him home - back to the house I used to live in many years ago. I havnt actually been back to it for almost 10 years as I saw him so much while he was at university so didnt need to make the trip to visit him there. As his father (my ex husband) also lives there it may have been awkward a few years back too - though not nowadays.
Anyway, driving him back after the dartford tunnel we pottered up the M25 to get to the A12 and then it started....
I havnt actually been back to Maldon where we lived since I walked away from the marriage in 1998! And only touched the edges of Essex on my way to other places so I wasnt prepared for the feelings I experienced. Im quite sensitive to earth energy. I notice the changes of counties, sacred and ancient sites and leys so its not really that surprising, but Essex had a great deal of effect on me and my spiritual path in my past.
Although a solitary pagan since the 70s it wasnt until I moved to Essex in the early 1980s that I found other people like me, circles and groups to connect with. A coven to train in and students of my own once I became a wiccan elder. For those of you who live in Essex, you must have felt the energies there. Essex has a deep and ancient tradition of the Craft and I have always thought I really opened up to the Craft and its teaching once I became part of the land there.
Of course, other people feel the same thing in different parts of the land, and I also have felt a real homecoming feeling in other places too - particularly in Avebury and up near Sheffield where I had an amazing sense of the land - though that may be more to do with my ancestral connection as my mothers family have many roots there.
But many experiences that created the branches of my spiritual path are connected with Essex and its' beautiful countryside, ancient villages and magical history and it all came flooding back.
I allowed myself to really immerse in it, as I also had my youngest daughter in the car, I found myself driving the 'pretty way' getting off the A12 and through the villages. Showing her the various places I held outdoor circles, the pagan federation gatherings,
places that really yanked on the old heartstrings. Memories that had lay dormant for years rose up. People I had known, been friends with, been hurt by, feelings of joy, devestation, many moments and times of my life layered like waves on a shore.
I started to wonder - is this time to come back? Could I find somewhere up here to live and work again? Could I relive the experiences, the wonderful moments again. I resolved to take my daughter on a drive around Maldon, the high street, places from my past. I found myself looking forward to it. Excited to revisit my past.
I put this feeling aside for a while once I got to my son's house. And there I made a discovery. The house I had lived in over 10 years ago, I had decorated and painted and organised. The garden where I had planted trees and plants and lived with my 2 eldest children. Nothing had changed. NOTHING!... Apart from the fact that it was definately now a batchelor pad - different boy toys and gadgets, a few different bits of furniture,tv and motorbike magazines around, the house was exactly as I left it. The walls unchanged. The carpets and curtains the same Some of the pictures on the wall were there as I had left them.
The rooms looked sadly drab now, in need of redecoration. New fabrics and colours. The garden is overgrown and the trees now crowding the once large garden. The front garden still had the wooden tub I grew lavender in over 10 years ago though long empty, but still in its exact place. It was an amazing discovery.
Im not trying to say anything majorly critical of my ex husband. He has never liked change and soft furnishings and houses were not important to him. But what it brought home to me was how things stagnate without change. How things become sad and drab. How memories and nostalgia are fine in their place, but you cant go back. You can never go back. You cannot recreate what has gone.
After a quick cup of tea, we left and I still drove my daughter through Maldon to show her where I walked, drank tea, met friends and brought up my eldest 2 children. I left and drove down through a different route of memories, the magick of the land still in my blood. But the feeling was different - the spell was broken. I knew I had moved forward and drove home again with no regrets.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Just had a lovely saturday evening. I invited friends and family to my equinox harvest supper, loads of veggie stew, home made cheesy bread and carrot cake to celebrate. Sadly not everyone could make it this year so we were a little group but an entertaining evening was had by all I think.
One interesting event though, was during a discussion we had about events and situations from our past. Now Ive always known I was rather naive when it comes to the opposite sex and romantic occasions. Well, actually any sex when it comes to it! Ive got so many tales of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the right guy, or maybe the right place, right time and wrong guy! However, Ive also had occasion to be at the wrong place, wrong time and definately wrong woman!
Now dont get me wrong, I am no homophobic, I have no trouble with same sex relationships, my eldest daughter has her butter spread on both sides of the bread, so to speak. But I personally am not that way enclined and have yet to find another woman I am attracted to physically or romantically. And as I am completely inept in recognising a man being attracted to me, I certainly wouldnt suspect a woman feeling any more than friendly affection.
Several years ago, I moved back to kent and the first thing I felt I needed to do was to find a local moot, meet some other local pagans and make a few friends. So I went to one in the medway towns. Nice group of people, one lady in particular was very friendly, introduced me to her husband and invited me to a party. I went and all was ok until she showed me her S and M room complete with handcuffs attached to chains on the wall. Hmmmm. Ok, its not my cup of tea, but Ive always believed in live and let live, and if it doesnt scare the horses......
But you see Im the most perplexed kind of person when it comes to being confronted with something as to what kind or response Im meant to give. Do I instantly decline what might be on offer? What if it isnt on offer? Do I laugh nervously and head for the hills? Sadly, my usual response is to seem affable and friendly and say nothing. It never happened, lets just move past this experience shall we?
Unfortunatly this sometimes gets me in deeper though. A couple of weeks later and she phoned me for a chat.
Opening conversation from the dominatrix ; 'Im really happily married and so lucky with my husband, he knows Im bisexual - I licked my first clit when I was 15' (far too much information for me, and not a picture I wanted in my head at this time). She continues while I am stumped as to what I should reply ' Yes, when I see a girl I like I tell him about it and he says, well why dont you invite her for dinner. We often end up in bed all together!' Hmmm. Time to change the conversation and get off the phone. So I mumble a few things I dont really remember about what im doing and how I cant make the moot next week (or ever again!!!) As we say our goodbyes she says - ' Its been lovely to talk today, you really must come over for dinner soon.....'
You would think I could see this kind of thing coming! But no! Just the other day, i met a really nice woman at a circle. We got on like a house on fire, similar family, similar life experiences. I felt I had known her for years. She has a family and an older partner. 'Why dont you come over for a meal and meet him - he's really keen to meet you as I dont normally make friends with women, although I am bisexual, I tend to like male company more'. Did I remember my previous experience. Had I learned from it? What do you think?!!
It was supposed to be a takeaway and a couple of hours just meeting her bloke. Well, I realised all was not quite as I supposed when she met me at the front door made up to the nines, a slinky dress poured over her curves and a flower pinned just above the clearly bra less breasts. Oh, had I misread this yet again? Well I was here now, I couldnt just go. So in I went with my bottle of grape juice (well i was driving) to make the best of things. We got a chinese delivered and had a nice evening of chatting. I began to relax and believe I had probably got the wrong end of the stick!
I like to think Im naive and open minded. My eldest daughter says Im just, well, a mug! Even when the situation is slapping me in the face like a wet fish (maybe not the best analogy in this case) I still want to think the best of a situation and not what may be glaring me in the face! Still, I think after the meal when we sat down and I became aware of the bare breast glaring at me in the face, it was probably a clue.
Had it slipped out by accident? She didnt seem bothered about putting it away. So I resorted to my normal response. Thinking to myself, I shant look at that! I continued to stare at her face rather than allow myself to look anywhere else, to chat away until I felt I could reasonably make my excuses and leave.
As a pagan I approach sex I hope in a healthy way - I like it, its natural and provided both (or several) parties agree to what takes place, there shouldnt be a problem. So why do I have a problem in just saying 'no thanks thats not for me' without feeling rude? Or even that they may be offended as no offer was actually in the making?
She hasnt contacted me since so I guess I probably didnt pass the test.
so Ive come to the conclusion that I am obviously giving off some kind of signal that indicates Im interested in something. What it is im not sure and how I stop it I certainly dont know. What I would like to know though, is where is the power source and how do I turn it off?
Friday, 17 September 2010
Its that time again. The Equinox is almost upon us and I can feel the movement of the seasons wheel as it turns on....
I have always enjoyed celebrating the wheel of the year festivals with a circle, ritual, activities, crafts etc and in the last few years particularly in a family way. In my book Natures Children - celebrating the seasons in a pagan family, I went through the wheel of the year and described the activities I liked to do for each festival with friends and family. I still like to do some of these although as my children have grown, so the activities have developed, changed or new ones have come along.
There is also an additional thing that effects my celebrations which is the way my own personal path has developed over the last few years. Its interesting for me, because I have always been one to enjoy group rituals and circles, and still enjoy the friends and family activities I sometimes organise. But my own personal acknowledgement of my beliefs has become more solitary as the years go by. Now this could be for several reasons. I think this is mainly as my own path becomes more eclectic, I find keeping to one tradition or described path as very difficult. For a while I found my path was balanced with an acknowledgment of the Goddess and the God.
Then for a while, I was more Goddess focused - possibly as a result of a painful life experience and I needed to feel safe - working within a woman only group.
After a while, my path shifted to more animistic, nature spirit working, with very few 'nods' to any pantheon of Gods or Goddesses. Lately, I have shifted once again, to knit together my own path of spirit, animism and God/Goddess working.
I rejoice in this because it indicates to me, that my path is developing, living organically, growing, diminishing, spreading in different directions and allowing all that I experience, feel and know to become part of that personal tradition. I choose to call myself Pagan, because it is a word that to me encompasses so many of my experiences and feelings. But I know that I have sympathies towards other spiritual directions - some aspects of Buddhism appeal to me too.
I love that paganism is such an individual experience and though we have a common identity in many areas, there is also so much diversity and difference. Long may it continue.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Yesterday I bumped into a friend I havnt seen for several months. The children have gone back to school this last week and her son - usually in the same class as my daughter had been missing. Had he been poorly? We've all succumbed to the 'back to school' virus/freshers flu that people seem to get at the beginning of the school year so assumed thats why he wasnt at school.
No, he has been taken out of school to be homeschooled. How interesting. I had wanted to try that route for my youngest daughter Rhiannon but circumstances had stopped me being able to do so. Actually in her case it was probably for the best - she's a very sociable little girl, loves having playmates around her and it might have been a rather lonely experience for her.
Dont get me wrong - I dont think thats the case for all homeschooled children. But my financial circumstances dont allow for me to pay for clubs, activities, petrol to go to support groups - or indeed run a car at all if Im not working. And as a single mum, I would have had a lot of problems with various government departments if I wanted to be supported on benefits in order to home school my daughter.
When I was looking into it myself, I attended a local Education Otherwise group with other parents homeschooling their children. It was a lovely group but I did notice lots of the parents were comfortably well off - mostly with 2 parents so one able to stay home to do the homeschooling, or running their own businesses from home. There was one single parent there - but again, she was on a private income so no pressure to return to work. And I think its important for my daughter to see me working to support us from an early age. I dont want her to grow up thinking that claiming benefits is a right or lifestyle choice, rather than a neccessity for some people who have had problems and need support until they get back on their feet again.
I even wrote a chapter in my first book Natures Children - celebrating the seasons in a pagan family (2007). At that time I really wanted to home school my daughter but after a time, realised it wasnt practical for our situation.And so she has gone to school, and in her case it was the best decision.
As I also work now at the school she attends, it has benefited us both. And Im fortunate because it does mean I still get to spend the holidays with her. I can organise trips, arts and crafts and fun things to do together then.
Though I do sometimes wistfully think of my warm bed on cold mornings as we both get into the school to start the day.
Friday, 20 August 2010
I just wanted to post a tribute to the freecycle ethos. What a terrific way of living an eco friendly, frugal, community way of life. To give someone else something that no longer has any use for you, rather than consign it to the landfill sites is so much better dont you think?
Ive been fortunate to aquire much needed bunk beds for my daughters bedroom. A fantastic hardly used and extremely comfortable mattress, a lovely floor lamp stand that just needs sanding and new wiring. And most recently have arranged to go in the next few weeks to collect crab apples from a tree covered in fruit, and later to go sloe, elderberry and hip picking in a freecyclers garden to make edible treats and xmas/solstice gifts.
Ive also been a giver im pleased to say and offloaded a few items I no longer needed and the recipients have I hope, had as much pleasure in recieving my unwanted items as I had from getting rid of them.
What a wonderful way to recycle!
If you havnt got round to it yet, get onto the freecycle website and join your local group. Its really worth while.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Isaac Bonewitz died this week
A well known pagan author and magician he wrote some really interesting stuff. I particularly liked his articles describing his run in with anton la-vey.
He also wrote some really good books on magick.
rest in peace
A well known pagan author and magician he wrote some really interesting stuff. I particularly liked his articles describing his run in with anton la-vey.
He also wrote some really good books on magick.
rest in peace