Monday, 30 January 2017

In Which I Consult The Oracle…

I bought Stacey DeMarco’s Halloween Oracle a couple of years ago, after falling in love with the artwork.

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

I’ve never actually read with it, but then I have a lot of decks I haven’t read with.  So sue me.

Anyway, the lovely Lyn Thurman posted a spread for 2017 here, and something made me hunt out the Halloween Oracle and DO THE SPREAD.  I'm normally a pull a card, read it, and keep pulling until I make some sense of it kinda gal, but hey, a bit of variety is good.

First spread of 2017, first reading in my new house, first time using this Oracle.  Three firsts.  It felt right.

And this is what I got:

CARD 1:  Goodbye 2016, this is the lesson I take from you because I’ll need it in 2017:

Barmbrack (sweetness and synergy)

A barmbrack is a sweet loaf, normally baked with things in like money, a piece of cloth, a pea, a stick and a ring.  A bit like a traditional English Christmas Pud.  If you got an object in your piece, that was your fate for the coming year.  So I think the lessons of 2016 must be viewed together as a complete learning experience.  Nothing viewed in its individuality.  The whole is greater than its parts.  I take from this that I must learn to embrace change, because I can survive it (even though I HATES IT.)  Organisation is key; being prepared and following a plan, but being able to roll with the punches and amend that plan at a moment’s notice is essential.  To enjoy the sweetness of success, hard work and a good foundation (ingredients) must precede the results. 

CARDS 2,3 & 4: Hello 2017, you and I are going to experience:

Ancestors (the love and legacy of our DNA)

Whatever happens, I’m the result of the love of thousands before me.  They deserve my reverence for (at the very least) my DNA.  More Ancestor work will present itself this year, whether on a mundane or spiritual level.

Ghost (regret)

Worries about what SHOULD have been done, or COULD have been will be a factor this year – but as usual, regrets are a waste of energy.  I cannot change the past, but I can change how I react to things that happen over the coming year. 

Trick or Treat (mischief and play)

 More playing is indicated for this year: last year was intense in my mundane world and I lacked the time or enthusiasm for the things that bring me enjoyment.  I will need to carve out time to do those things that nourish and heal my spirit this year.  Hey, more blog posts, right?

CARD 5: 2017, our biggest challenge together will be:

Vampire (emotional intelligence)

Oh, those pesky vampires, draining one’s life essence… yeah, there’s been a lot of that over the last few years.  So my challenge is to put up better boundaries.  Protection and shielding work, methinks.  Ooooh, learn to say no.  (There’s a challenge, indeed.)

CARD 6: But I have a secret weapon that’s going to help me leap over obstacles:

Owl (Wise seeing, wise action)

Wise counsel.  Too often I internalise problems, not asking advice through a sense of pride (or shame).  I do have a propensity to react in a knee-jerk fashion without consideration at times.  This year, I need to think and ask advice of those who I consider wise friends and mentors before I act. 

CARD 7: 2017, our greatest blessing together will be:

The Veil (the future)

Whilst the veil thins at certain times as the wheel of the year turns, there are places where the veil is always thin.  My connections to my land-base were weakened last year, as time did not permit me to visit my local places of power as often as I wanted.  But I can reach through the veil at any time, I just need to prepare myself and my place.  Time well spent.  So more time with the cards, the plants and the oracles. 

CARD 8: This is what I can bring into 2017 to make the world a better place:

Joy (rejoicing in the present)

Oh boy, that made me laugh.  Joy?  Dark-hearted, bone-obsessed, friend-of-Death me?  Bring joy?  Bwahahahaha!  And then… a boy I work with for weekly interventions at school brought me a bunch of daffodils with a tag thanking me for helping him.  He handed them to me, and told me that he loved doing maths work with me because it was so much fun!  I will grudgingly admit that I can bring joy to the kids I work with (and kids learn far better when they are having fun, y’know!)

CARD 9:  And this is what 2017 will give me in return for shining my light and living my purpose:
Skeleton (strength)

Bones.  Of course, bones.  Our skeleton gives us strength (or we’d be a sloppy bag of internal organs squishing all over the floor.) I really hope that I don’t spend all of 2017 muttering “Give me strength,” under my breath.  The booklet that accompanies this lovely deck says that “There is an incredible strength in showing vulnerability. It can often be the bravest course of action and the most frightening… a powerful catalyst for personal growth.”  Ouch.  Sounds bloody painful to me.  Much as I love bones (and I adore the image on this card), I’m feeling a tad gloomy over this bit.

CARD 10: Overall, 2017, the theme for our year together is:  

Scrying (intuition)

Don’t rely on the rational and practical for decisions.  It’s a balance; wisdom will come with a mix of logic, facts, leaps of faith and intuition.  More consulting the cards, then.  And keeping on top of the practical things – checking the bank balance, budgeting, work prep, that dreaded organisation stuff!

This isn’t the full transcript of the notes I took while I did the reading (hey, a witch has to have some secrets, ‘kay?) but I’m going to revisit this here at the end of 2017 and see what I think of this Three Firsts reading. 

I’m loathe to read for myself, as a rule.  I can normally see all sorts of possibilities, quite often contradictory in nature.  I’m generally too close to the situation at hand to see the wood for the trees, so to speak.  But this house is so new to me, and it feels such a fresh start for us all, that I haven’t got any expectations.  It feels full of promise.  Full of a better future.  

Yeah, get ME being all optimistic! 

Oh, and if any of you lovely tarot-y type people out there want to chime in with any insights you might have on the cards I've pulled (or anything else, of course!), do feel free.

Friday, 30 December 2016

In which I return triumphantly. With excuses.




Yeah, it went by the wayside this year. 

I have reasons… but frankly, they are just excuses.

As Witchlet Two is fond of saying, “Don’t give me excuses, GIVE ME RESULTS!”
(She’s going to be a complete diva, that one.)

I’ve been a witch for over 25 years, and this year was the first time I’ve let my woo-woo lapse.  No divination, no seasonal celebrations, and no serious Witch Work.  This was the year I let it all go.  Let it slide away.  The Witch gave way to The Frazzled Working Grown-Up.

No walking.

No growing green things.

No foraging.

No brewing.

No hooching.

Lots of working though.  Working within the school system.  Studying to be able to help those students with extreme literacy problems.  And then sliding headlong into to the wall labelled MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOL FUNDING which meant that although the funding was there to pay me (a pittance) to work additional hours, I didn’t get to spend the hours with the kids that would get the most of those hours.  Because of Ofsted, you know.

(As you can see, I’m more than a little hacked off about it.)

I didn’t throw witch-work at it.  I moaned, groaned, whinged – and got on with it.  No, it didn’t get better.

And in October, this happened.

See that?  It’s a house.  And guess what?

I own it. 

Yes, you heard me. OWN IT.  NAME. ON THE DEEDS. IT’S MINE (and The Hubster’s). 

And although the process of getting the house was incredibly stressful and expensive, now I’m sat here on my old tatty sofa in my new lounge, it was worth it. Financially, a warehouse operative and a teaching assistant in their forties can’t raise enough money via mortgage to buy a house – even in this relatively cheap area – and we were extraordinary lucky enough to get a loan from my parents. We are, and ever shall be, incredibly grateful.

So, it’s a new beginning.  Goodbye rented house, with a landlord that wasn’t willing to spend any money raised in his last re-mortgage of the property on the place.  Goodbye endless cleaning off black mould.  Goodbye back boiler that our lovely gas engineer nursed for ten years, warning us every year that this one could be its last.  Goodbye laminate floor laid directly on concrete.  Goodbye bent guttering, pissing water down the walls.

And yet… and yet… I leave behind a garden and plants that were my friends.  I leave behind bees in the chimney, bats in the attic, hedgehogs and mice under the shed and so many birds who visited every morning for toast crumbs, fat and seed balls, to hang off the thistle seed heads upside down gorging themselves.  My friends.

But here I am.  New house.  New start.  It’s time to dig out the woo-woo.  To rediscover the magic.  To find the witch I need to be in this new home.

Wish me luck.

Witch clipart found here:

Thursday, 31 December 2015

In Which I Wax Lyrical About Trees

Well, one tree in particular. My apple tree. Fifteen years ago I planted three apple pips, just for the hell of it. They all grew. Two of the seedlings I gave away, and the third grew in a pot in my gardens and yards for the next seven years. Then we moved to our current property and I planted it in a corner of our garden. Where it grew. And grew. And suffered with mildew, rust, greenfly infestation and wind deformation from the prevailing sou'westerly.

It never bloomed. And therefore never fruited. It was a bit of an embarrassment, actually, and there were several occasions when I seriously debated digging it up and planting one from a nursery. I didn't, because it was MY deformed, rusty, mildewy, pest-ridden tree.  Then four years ago, I decided we would wassail our pitiful tree on Twelfth Night as part of our Yuletide celebrations. The Witchlets made noise with rattles and drums and shouting, I sang (which apparently counted as noise according to Witchlet One, thanks for the ringing endorsement, son!), and we soaked toast  in cider and stuck them in the branches. 

Four solitary buds bloomed the next Spring. Two fertilised, but the apples dropped off before they matured.  That year, less greenfly. No rust. Less mildew. Of course, that had a lot to do with the wormwood growing in a pot under the tree than the wassailling... Or maybe not. I took to going out and touching the tree, talking to it, leaving offerings just as I do at certain trees in 'my' woods.

I have wassailed my tree every year since.  The next year, I had a tree covered in blossoms. And it gave me four full size fruit. This year, thirty clean, green, shiny apples.  It's still misshapen. It leans. It gets the occasional patch of rust, powdery mildew and greenfly. But it's mine. Nurtured from seed, for fifteen years. It has produced fruit, beautiful, blemish-free organic apples, and that was something I was told it would never do.  Master gardeners, books, websites, they all told me it was a waste of time. It will never fruit. It might fruit, but the apples will be poor, and disease prone.  Dig it up. Here, buy this grafted variety.

They were wrong.

Was I just lucky? Maybe.
Was it the wassailing? Can't have hurt.
Was it the offerings, and acknowledging this tree as a vital part of my life? Who knows? (Only my tree, and she's not telling.)

But there's a lesson in there somewhere. Sometimes, don't give up. Don't listen to all the advice. Take your time. Trust your instincts.

Prove the nay-sayers wrong. 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

In which I am a dim-witted thunder-twonk

So, the Old Kitchen Witch is really starting to feel every one of her forty-five years. Bits of me ache. Some bits of me bloody hurt. Injuries take longer to heal. Insomnia is a bitch. Anxiety doesn't lessen with age.  Hot flushes are horrible. And obviously my brain is slowing down, because I have herbs that will HELP, for pity's sake. I know how to cook and eat healthily.  And I know how to ground, centre, cleanse, shield and protect.

Sometimes, my sheer dim-wittedness amazes me. Because I know Lots Of Things to help me, and I'm currently doing None Of The Things. Not even One.

So, I've instigated A Plan. It involves daily yoga. Daily grounding and shielding. Sage and Lady's Mantle tea for the hot flushes. Lemonbalm tea, Rescue Remedy, lavender essential oil and meditation to kick the shit out of the anxiety. Decent food, lots of fruit and veg and plenty of water because eating well helps everything. And today began with making a salve with meadowsweet infused oil, frankincense, lavender and rosemary essential oils, with a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper thrown in for good measure. I've made this before for my Dad and a couple of work colleagues, and they swear by its pain-relieving abilities. So it's about time I started using it on my hands and knees, which are beginning to show signs of arthritis.

I rubbed about half a teaspoon of the salve into my hands before donning my rubber gloves and doing the washing up. By the time I'd finished the sinkful of plates, my hands had stopped aching.

It's been six hours, and my hands are still pain-free. I didn't realise how much they hurt, until they didn't.

My lesson for the day: it doesn't matter what the hell you know if you don't put it into practice.  Anyway, here's my recipe for the meadowsweet salve.

Meadowsweet Pain-Relieving Salve

1 cup meadowsweet-infused oil (I used a mix of 1:1:1 olive:almond:coconut oils and double-infused fresh meadowsweet into it in a bain-marie last summer and stored the oil in a clean glass bottle in a dark cupboard)
1/2 cup grated beeswax
20 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops frankincense essential oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add the beeswax and meadowsweet oil to a bain-marie and heat gently until melted. Stir well.
Allow the mixture to cool very slightly, add the essential oils and cayenne pepper and mix well.
Immediately pour into clean, dry jars or pots.

The salve turned out quite solid, which was what I wanted, but you could use more oil (or less beeswax!)  to get a softer consistency.

Monday, 5 October 2015

In which I intend to work Thirty-one Days of Magic

Bob the Skull having more than a little fun with the last few Calendula blooms.
A recent post from Velma Nightshade (one half of the fabulous duo responsible for the podcast Inciting a Brew-ha-ha and the Chief Witch of Magickal Miscellany online shop) piqued my interest.  In it she suggested getting witchy with thirty one days of magic this October.

Of course, I am late to the party.  For which I would humbly apologise, but hell, I’m not sorry.  I’ve decided not to regret things.

Every day must have something woo-woo in.  Whether it is getting back into daily devotions, divination, spellwork, meditation, research – anything woo-woo related is fine.

So it may be the 5th of October, and my thirty-one days is either going to be only twenty-six days, or I’m going to run into November, but here we go.

It’s Monday.  Moonday.  A day of beginnings (it’s the start of my working week, the beginning of the school week for the Witchlets). The moon’s silvery reflected light glimmers and shows us illusions.  Or perhaps it shows us a different way of looking at a situation.  A perfect time for divination.

I have decided to forgo Tarot cards for the time being.  I have been wanting to use cartomancy for quite some time, and as I have a brand-new-never-used-knew-it-would-come-in-useful-for-something pack just hanging around on the bookcase, I’m going to have a go.  The indomitable Cory Hutcheson has written a wonderful book called 54 Devils – The Art & Folklore of Fortune-telling with Playing Cards, and it’s going to be my guide as I plunge, fairly helpless, into this rather compelling art.

Check back tomorrow, and I’ll have an update on my first night of Witchy-Woo-Woo October!

In which I have been through HUGE STUFF


In the last eighteen months my life has changed dramatically.  I am now gainfully employed in a job I love.  It is incredibly pressured in some ways, intensely rewarding, and I put in a lot of hours (way more than I’m paid for!) which has, in turn, had a knock on effect on the day-to-day running of this mad household and the night-to-night witch-duties.

In the past year I have also achieved Cronehood.  Well, not so much achieved, rather I’ve had it thrust upon me.  I knew it was coming.  I thought I would struggle with the emotional aspects, and I was completely certain that the physical symptoms would be horrendous (both my mother and grandmother had suffered terribly – my Mum was on HRT for years) and I was dreading it.

I started having hot flushes early on this year, and they woke me at night.  I would wake up, not knowing why, and within a minute the heat would spread outwards from my chest across the rest of my body and I’d leap out of bed, panting, desperate to cool off.  Not the best recipe for a good night’s sleep.  Exhaustion was my constant companion.  Dear friends suggested Lady’s Mantle and Purple Sage Tea.  I started drinking a mugful morning and evening, and within a week the symptoms eased almost completely.  I’m now down to a mugful every other evening, and I’ve been symptom free for a couple of months (YAY!) I'm hoping that the worst is over, and that my transition to being the REALLY-OLD Kitchen Witch is pretty much over.

On the emotional front, I think the lack of monthly hormonal upheaval has eased any depressive symptoms.  I get anxious, but not in that I’m-frozen-in-time-can’t-move-can’t-breathe-can’t-live kind of anxious, and days where I wish I didn’t exist haven’t happened in a very long time.  This is a GOOD THING.

Witch-stuff has taken a back seat.  Devotions have been sporadic.  Getting out in The Old Man’s Woods has happened, but nowhere near as much as I’d like.  Foraging has gone ok; one of the joys of the Witchlets being older is that they join in and can walk much further.  (It all starts with lots of whining that they don’t want to go, and ends with whining that they don’t want to go home because they’ve had fun.)  Serious workings have been almost non-existent.  Much as I have noted the change in seasons, I haven’t observed them, nor celebrated them with feasting and merriment.

The Hubster is also happily ensconced in a new job.  He is now nocturnal, which is superb for family arrangements such as getting the Witchlets to and from school (he drops them off, I pick them up, thus saving a not-insignificant amount of money spent on child-minders). It is not, however, conducive to us spending much time together.  But we make the most of the time we do get.

I did think that I’d get lots more done, witchcraft wise, than I do.  But by the time 10 pm rolls around, I am battling exhaustion and the energy for workings elude me.  Hell, the energy for housework generally eludes me.

The good news is that we are no longer living hand to mouth.  The last week of the month is not referred to as ‘porridge and soup week’ – we get to go shopping every weekend, and having to buy all new uniform for both of my growing Witchlets this August didn’t have us terrified we wouldn’t have enough money for the monthly bills.  Money may not buy happiness, but not lying awake at night having financial panic attacks makes me much less unhappy, thank you very much.

But I’m hoping that I can squeeze in some more esoterically inclined activities in the coming months.  I am being pointed in that direction, for certain, and one thing I learnt a long time ago is that when the Divine pokes you with unmistakable requests, you comply, or face the consequences.  Negotiation is currently in progress (while PL seems to understand completely that we mere humans need sleep, Hekate is seemingly unimpressed by the fact) and hopefully we’ll come up with an acceptable timetable… I hope!

Well, that’s my current situation in a nutshell.  I’m probably wittering to just myself here, as it’s been so damn long since I’ve written, but you never know.  So I’m wishing anyone out there a pretty awesome October. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

In which First Spring arrives

It's been a WET winter. Pretty much the wettest on record, here in the wilds of Yorkshire. Living on top of a hill has its advantages in this sort of winter. All this water has, even on our hill, caused problems. I've lost a lot of the alpines that were dotted about through the herb patch, as they hate sitting with their roots in water. The Cinquefoil I planted in our first year here has also succumbed. And yet there has been magic afoot, even in this strange weather. Mother Elder may not have have graced us with snow, or even more than a couple of crisp, crunchy, frosty mornings, but I'm glad to see the back of the short days and long nights nonetheless. 

So, First Spring arrived with the first snowdrops. 

The family altar was decorated for Bride, with a bed for her, wrapped in ivy, the Bride doll made of fresh Rosemary, dried poppy seed head crowned with rowan berries watching over a cauldron filled with this years seeds, and offerings of mead and poppy seed bread were given to ask for the blessings of fertility on my garden this year.


I even managed to fashion my own Brighid's cross from last year's wheat stems. Not bad for a first attempt. 

For some reason, this year didn't start in January for me (I can't quite get my head around it starting at Samhain/Last Harvest, either) and it seems as though First Spring is the real beginning for me. 

The last few months have been a period of frustration and stagnation for me, personally, (I promise to share more on this next time) and it seems now things are moving again. 

At long bloody last. So hopefully I will feel there's something worth posting more often this year!

Got to love my hellebore this year, too.