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Remembering Our Ancestors

October is my month, Autumn is my season; the season of the witch, of transformation, a transition period, of evolution, of turning inward. It’s dark and it’s energy contemplative, shadowy, truth seeking, quiet, nourishing and soulful. This is the time before the pause, I’m in my home and nesting, tending the hearth, coorying down prepping for hibernation; I look forward to this point of the year, each and every year – you can keep your spring and summer, I’ll keep my late autumn.

Late October is also, associated with Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, followed by Hallowmas, All Hallows Day, All Saints Day on 1st November then All Souls Day on the 2nd. In times gone by, the whole affair was known in Celtic traditions as Samhain/Samhuinn. In time before the Gregorian or Julian calendars with set dates and days, the passage of time was measured by the solar and lunar cycles. Much simpler, much more intune with what was happening naturally. The rituals of this fire festival were respected and revered on and around the dark moon, and that wouldn’t necessarily have been 31st October (because 31st October didn’t exist). The darkest sky at this time of year was considered to the be the gateway into the winter months and the point where the veil between the worlds was at its thinnest, allowing our ancestors to move between their world and ours. Of course, that also meant that any malevolent spirits could also traverse the veil, hence the need to ward them off with charms such as skulls (evolving into the jack o’lantern of today).

Honouring our ancestors and deceased loved ones, whether by telling and retelling their stories, looking at photographs, visiting their graves or by some other means of remembrance, is a long held tradition of keeping their memory alive in the now and carrying forth into the future.

Why is that important? People only stay “alive” for as long as we remember them and continue to tell their stories. Our ancestors make us who we are – we here because of them, whether they be someone to honour and love or are ashamed or embarrassed by, what ever horrors they lived through or were involved in, whether they were “good people” but “of their time”, whether their beliefs and values mirrored ours or not, which ever path they walked, how they lived, loved and breathed, we are here today thanks to them.

Our ancestral DNA is imprinted in our very fabric of existence. What magic and memories are you holding at a cellular level? How do you weave their story into you yours? We create and tell our own stories, but what can we learn from the past for today and moving forward.

I ask you, do you know who your ancestors are? If so, how far back and from where do they hail? Do you know your Red Thread, who your female ancestors are? A beautiful way to honour your ancestry is to trace it, see where your lineage lies and from where. Embrace your roots and learn your heritage. You may end up surprised or it may lead to conversations with relatives you’ve lost contact with and sharing of yet more stories or old photos, with names and people and places.

And looking to the future, we are the ancestors of tomorrow; whats (y)our legacy?

This year, the dark moon is Sunday evening, 27th October (actual 0% lunar visibility falls at 03.38GMT on Monday 28th) so celebrating and honouring our loved ones and the festival this weekend is perfectly appropriate. Samhuinn, the 13th New Moon of this year and the Celtic New Year all rolled into one celebration. So get your pumpkin ( or tumshie as per my household preference) carved, prepare, serve and enjoy a favourite meal of your loved one no longer earth-side, dook for apples and divine the future. Make merry and have a blessed Samhuinn.

Love Lissa

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Help! My period isn’t synched with the moon.

Come, gather with me by my hearth. Let’s sort this out.

Close your eyes and visualise in your mind’s eye, the moon, in all her luminous beauty.

Take a deep, womb deep, breath in.

Open your eyes and give the best eye roll that you can.

And exhale through your mouth with a roar, releasing all the frustration surrounding the un-synched-ness of your cycle to the lunar cycle.

Now, repeat after me :

FUCK

THAT

SHIT!”

Feel better now? Confused?

It is a very popular myth that women’s menstrual cycles are governed by the lunar cycle. Yes the moon controls the Earth’s waters and we are made up of about 60% water (I actually though it was 70% but a quick google search told me different). Yes our menstrual cycles are cyclic and the phases of our cycles can be described in the same manner as the moon’s. The associated energy of the moon’s effect on earth is mirrored in our moods and own energy levels, BUT there endeth the story. The tales that tell how all women in ancient times bled together under the dark and new moon, then ovulated under the full, are unfounded. They are lovely stories and it would be beautiful if true. I mean, that’s exactly how it would have happened some of the time but not all the time, not every month. It makes sense to live in harmony with the natural world in a time and place before electric light, modern medicine and endocrine disruptors but all it is is another stick with which to bash us with, another standard we’re to aspire to and meet or feel inadequate when we fail.

Unless your own cycle is 29.5 days long every month, you won’t ever be “in sync” with the moon, menstrually. Let’s take my cycle for instance, this month I am bleeding on/with the dark moon. I haven’t done this for almost a year. Last month I started 3 days after the new moon. For most of the this year I have been bleeding either side of the full moon, but have actually travelled through and bled with all phases. Why? Because my own cycle varies each month and ranges between 27-31 days long and the other month it was only 24 days! I’m not a robot. Here’s the thing – your body IS in sync…with itself! The only time your cycle isn’t “in sync” with your own natural rhythms, ebbs and flows of your ovaries is when you are taking the contraceptive pill (or have the injecion/implant) which suppresses/stops your cycle, or when you are pregnant, undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy or are post menopause. At these times it maybe useful or beneficial to follow the lunar cycle but when we are following our own cycle please know that you are in sync with your own body and that’s who you’re supposed to be in sync with!

This whole red moon/white moon bleeding with paricular phases of the moon is something that at one time I bought into it too! However, I’m sick to my ovaries of this new New Age expectation of how to and when we are supposed to menstruate. Again, repeat after me:

“FUCK

THAT

SHIT!”

The lunar energy is powerful. I can feel it, but it doesn’t mean that I ignore my own inner energy and being; self first lunar second. This month I am aligned (not synched) with the dark moon and my own moods are deep rooted in need to rest, in solitude, pretty much hibernate, my inner winter phase , in the same way the moon does when it is invisible in the nights sky. It won’t be next month and that’s how it goes.

As always, I’m interested in your thoughts – what is your take on menstrual/lunar cycle synchronicity?

Am I tuned to the moon? Absofuckinglutely! I love the moon and how it’s connected to our planet and her energy and beauty.

Is my menstrual cycle? Nope! It’s my period and I’ll bleed when I need to.

L xx

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Old Ways in the New Age

I was born in the new age. But I have definitely been born with an old soul and a knowing of the old ways. As result I am a bit of a mash up of both the old and new, both spiritually and now come to think about it, literally too (like every one my age, we enjoyed the bliss of the analogue childhood and adolescence with the convenience and connectivity of the digital adulthood).

But what were the old ways? What does “New Age” mean?

When I think of the Old Ways, I think of the pre-christian times, in the matriarchal goddess worshiping times. Nature ruled. A simple time in terms of what was required to be done, how people went about their lives, meeting their needs individually and collectively for the family/community. A small yet hard life, living off the land and at the mercy of the elements and their understanding/observations of the natural world for which they were a part of. Honouring the changing seasons by observing the seasons rather than by a fixed calendar. Honouring revered deities or the Mother Goddess with love rather than fear. The village mentality and way of life, living in sync with the cycles of nature speaks to me of the old ways. The people were of their land. This is merely my interpretation, yours may be completely different.

Contrast this with the New Age and my inner feeling changes from slow, steady and at peace, to a buzz of energy and a feeling of “whoosh”, psychedelic madness and woowoo. What comes immediately to my mind upon hearing New Age is a plethora of images and labels : new-age-hippie-dippy-claptrap, crystals, The West, burning sage bundles, cultural appropriation, ancestry – e.g. 1% Viking/Native American/Irish Celt! The universe, energy, chakras, Cacoa Ceremony, Bali, retreats, coconut oil, essential oil, meditation, yoga, homeopathy, love’n’light, spiritual bypass, the moon, light workers, peace man, tarot cards, a goddess for everything from all parts of the globe, free spirit, earthing, grounding, vegetarian/vegan, the list goes on, feel free to insert your own interpretations . Some of it makes me uncomfortable, some of it is given a cursory eye-roll and other bits I really connect with and practice.

So why do I think I have an old soul and a knowing of the old ways? And how do I marry that remembering with the new fangled New Age?

I feel a very real connection to history, domestic history of the island inwhich I live. For instance, I have an unexplained physical reaction to the city of Edinburgh when I am there. I have never lived there but when I used to work in Wales, my train home would have me arrive at Haymarket Station, Edinburgh, to then get my connection for the last 30 miles home. Standing in Haymarket, breathing in the smell of hops on a cold Autumnal evening, I always felt “I’m home” plus, any night out in Edinburgh over the years always felt like home – I feel safe in this city yet never have the same feelings or notions in Glasgow or any other city I’ve visited. I have always been fascinated with herbs and herbal healing (not really done anything with this fascination but its always been there), my curiosity around the moon, the changing seasons, and witchcraft. Once I started tracing my family tree ( went back to my 4th Great Grandmother in my Mother’s line) much of what I discovered about my family makes so much sense to the person I am and the interests I have long held. Much of the reading, research and practice I have been actively seeking and learning from over the years felt more like “YES” moments and an awakening of things I already knew, deep down, coupled with an insatiable thirst for more knowledge. And yes, I know how crazy and loopy that sounds. That’ll be why I have never shared that before!

Combining these base feelings and knowings/rememberings with the modern world has been for the most part fairly straight forward with a few stumbles along the way. I have real issues around cultural appropriation and people claiming indigenous ritual or ceremony for their own when they have no connection to that culture, save for an ancestry test that identified 1% popular ethnicity – I truly believe that our own cultures where we live/ have grown etc are rich in their own history, traditions, folklore and language that cherry picking the cool bits from another’s is not OK. Here’s the sore point, I have been using Native American tarot cards (which are beautiful in their design) for the past 23 years, yet I have no connection to that culture at all other than studying it in my 6th yer of high school and finding their history appalling and their culture fascinating. In using these cards, is that appropriation or appreciation? I don’t know! ( I have however, bought a new deck, the Green Witch cards which are also beautiful but are more connected to my Pagan path and personal journey).

I’m nosy and am curious as to how other people merge the two ways, if indeed they do – it certainly isn’t necessary or a requirement. People who follow their version of a New Age spiritual practice or path may only be familiar with modern day practices or not feel the need to look back to go forward. Similarly some people may shudder at all things New Age and prefer to keep the fires of the Old Ways burning. Tell me – I’d love to know!

I have found that getting outside as often as possible to walk the local woods or to sit in my garden, letting my bare feet touch the earth or grass has been the most simple and effective way to connect. My calendar follows the lunar cycle, I follow the seasons of the environment and my own cycle. I am of this land, of this place, in the modern “new age” whilst reconnecting to, remembering and honouring the old ways. The best of both? I think so, but as with all things learning , growing and evolving, nothing is certain, including my opinion.

L xx

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Priestess or Witch?

Priestess or Witch?

The titles of both Priestess and Witch are being widely (re)claimed and becoming increasingly common in new age parlance as people identify with either or both in their spiritual practice or journey.

Are they the same or different? What are the differences? Can you be both*?

Certainly, they both require a calling of sorts. You don’t wake up one day and decide I’m a witch or I’m a Priestess. Both take dedication and work to learn the teachings, from books and lived experience, from cycling with nature again and again, season after season, year after year. There is no end point, it’s a continual path of learning, evolution, experimentation, mishap, mistakes, unlearning, intuition, blood, tears, loss, joy, grace, understanding, confusion, soul deep exploration, rejection, connection, unearthing, grounding, discovering and listening. It’s ownership of, and a choice to pursue, this path. And I’ve just scratched the surface. All the while carrying on with the day job and probably in the safety of the broom closet.

Unless of course the “calling” is from instagram and the current interest and trend for all things witchy is making you a few bob as a “spiritual influencer” looking ethereal in floaty frocks wafting smokey materials on certain days of the year…

Both Priestess and Witches work with rituals, sacred days/times/seasons. Some may cast circles before commencing rituals or work, some may not. Both understand the nature of balance and the cycle of life. Important point to note is that here is not devil worship in either case.

What is a Priestess?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary she is a female priest of a non-Christian religion. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a Priestess as (i) a woman authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion and (ii) a woman regarded as a leader (as of a movement)

My own meaning of what a Priestess is, can be described as but not restricted to a woman in service to those who need her (her community) and to the Great Mother, Divine Feminine. She has usually undertaken some formal training. Training in counselling and spiritual coaching has to learned properly and will cost. There are many different types of Priestess too : High, initiated, earth, shamanic, women’s spiritual leader, oracle, medicine woman, ritual leader, ceremonial leader, wise one, ancient, modern-day, in-training and more.

Ancient Priestesses across the globe in matriarchal societies prayed to and were devoted to the Great Mother. They were revered by their communities for their wisdom, their experience, their leadership and their connection to the Divine. They lived by nature’s cycles and performed and facilitated rites and rituals. They both lead and served.

Modern day Priestesses are reclaiming and remembering the Goddess, bringing back the understood or interpreted ancient teachings as best they can and making them relevant to modern times. A Priestess today is not living in seclusion on an isle shrouded in mists (although that does sound immensely appealing), she could be your kid’s teacher, the checkout operator at the supermarket, your dentist! There is an association with the role of the Priestess that she must be holier-than-tho in that nice/lovely/glittery/good-girl bubble of saccharine, when in fact she may be hated or distrusted because the woman has unshakable boundaries. A Priestess is compassionate, respectful and strong because of her boundaries.

Regardless of the time, a Priestess is continually doing the work, exploring the depths of herself and who she is in order to serve the Goddess – be it Gaia, The Great Mother, or any number of deities from the world over, from any number of pantheons or the Goddess that resides within all – as well as both serving and leading her community.

What is a Witch?

We all know what a Witch is, right? The Oxford Dictionary is pretty succinct in that she is a woman thought to have magic powers, especially evil ones, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat and flying on a broomstick. And Merriam Webster similarly states one that is credited with usually malignant supernatural powers especially a woman practicing usually black witchcraft often with the aid of a devil or familiar . Yep, evil, magical hags not to be trusted, rather than wise women with skills and knowledge in the healing arts, midwifery or in gardening. Patriarchy and the church did a sterling job demonising women they saw as a threat and persecuting many innocent, mainly women, for “crimes” they did not commit. We all know of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93 in Massachusetts , where 200 people were accused and 20 people executed as witches. In Scotland, our shameful history is far greater with 4,000-6,000 accusations and 1500 recorded executions during the burning times of the Witch Trials. The Scottish numbers were 5 times higher than the rest of Europe, such was the pure hatred and fear fuelled by the kirk.

A witch by my definition is a woman (or a man) who is in service to no-one unless she chooses to be and who practices witchcraft. It is a craft like any other and has to be practiced and developed over time. The craft can include an array of specialisations from divination, spellwork and herb and plant work to intuitive guidance, life coaching and healing via complimentary or traditional medicine. It is not an exhaustive list, just like the list of types of witches is not exhaustive either. The main types of Witches are : Green, solitary, garden, kitchen, moon/lunar, Pagan, Wiccan, coven, hedge, hereditary, traditional, faery, sea, grey, elemental, crystal, eclectic, hearth, weather, energy, artist, magical, forest, urban, healing, spiritual, nature, new/apprentice, new-age, you get the drift! I have probably left our more types than I can remember.

To be a Witch does not automatically mean she is Wiccan or Pagan. Not all witches are Wiccan, not all Pagans are witches!

Unless a witch is part of a coven, there is no formal training that has to be completed before being able to call oneself a Witch. It is not a title that one ought to take lightly however. There are courses a plenty online for how to be or how to practice, but getting outside and attuning to nature is as worthy a teacher as any course. Books and blogs for guidance are helpful but not vital (I am happy to recommend many books I have read over the years if anyone is interested and wants to know). The costumery of witchcraft is not necessary either – wear a hat or cloak, don’t wear a hat or cloak, have a broom, don’t have a broom, have a black cat, don’t have a black cat ( have a dog or a gold fish or a chicken or no pets coz allergies- it doesn’t matter!) Fun yes, necessary no.

I haven’t claimed the label of witch for myself but have been assigned it by others. I never claimed it as it is a powerful word and one that when I hear it, still makes me a little uneasy, despite my life long love of “witches” and decades of personal practice. This is in part to perception, the old fears and hatred of witches deliberately driven by the kirk have been replaced with scorn and ridicule by the general populous. In the modern world where, for the most part, the fear of being burnt at the stake is a thing of the past, in certain company it is easy to discuss openly the hidden world of witches and priestesses but not really generally and not always comfortably, and caution is exercised as there is still much of the foregone stigma heavily attached to either word, though predominantly on the Witch word. I feel as I am moving into a Priestess-type role in my work though I don’t call myself a Priestess. I am completely self taught through experience and books, but am looking into more formal training. I am serving others in circles, priestessing women through rites of passage ceremony and ritual. I honour and revere the Divine Feminine, the Great Mother in all her aspects, channeling her energy as required. I chose to call myself at this time, a Flame Keeper – stoking the fires of the mysteries, protecting and remembering who we are and inviting you to reclaim your soul truth and essence, igniting the spark of curiosity to aid you on your journey to yourself.

Does this answer the question: Priestess or Witch? Or muddy the waters further? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this, being as this is purely my own ponderings and observations on the matter.

Lissa xx

*Yes I believe you can

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This Is Forty One

16th June. Another year older and more the wiser. We often joke about being another year older and none the wiser, but this is certainly not the case for me. The first year of my forties has most definitely been a doozy and I’ve not come out of it unscarred.

The lessons have been plentiful and at times painful and brutal as well as joyful.

So what have I learned this past sunwise cycle? Read on…

Life truly does begin at 40! I had a beautiful welcome into this decade. The big celebration within a circle of beautiful souls. Intentions for the coming times were set and the emotions from experiences held from previous decades were released. It was a metamorphosis in action.

Life continues to evolve, as do friendships. The friends I began this decade with will never sit in circle all together again. This is in part to the unfair and untimely death of one of my dearest friends, who at my birthday celebration hadn’t yet had her diagnosis and a year later she is no longer with us. The evolution of friendships means that over time people move on in different directions following their own path, some bonds are strengthened and form more solid friendships with deeper connections, some break off altogether and some new friendships develop. And so it goes. It is all OK. The saying that we have 3 types of friends in life : for a reason, a season or a lifetime is a truism if ever there was.

Time is finite and life is lost. Grief doesn’t so much heal the loss felt, as it does shift into a new way of living and continuing on. Losing a close friend is no different to losing a member of one’s family, and it brings thoughts of my own mortality up front – get those niggles or concerns checked out by the GP!

Moving house is stressful and you never know someone until you live with them. We extended our wee family of 3 this past year by 1 and we share our home with my Mother in Law. Oh the lessons coming back at me to learn are untold and abundant. Yes, I regularly have to check my sanity (as well as my tongue, for blisters).

Self care is non negotiable. I don’t mean bubble baths, I mean looking after me, all of me; mind, body and spirit. My priority is solitude – I NEED time on my own to recharge. No noise, no chatter, no drama, no tongue biting, nothing. Whether that’s being up early before the rest of the household to have my coffee or take a walk in the woods on my own, the need to be alone is primal and absolute.

Perimenopause. This is something I was not prepared for or expecting so early into my forties. Actively tracking my menstrual cycle and being aware and conscious of my body and what it is telling me has been key in identifying what is going on on he inside. My body is changing and aging, ready or not.

I am LOVING the aging process. I am firmly anti anti-aging. My grey hairs are joyous (not just because they are wavy and I have always wanted wavy/curly hair having lived 40 years with poker straight locks), my wrinkles are well earned, particularly those laughter lines, my lived experiences grant me wisdom and I do not wish to be 20 again, far less look it! I feel privileged to have had an analogue childhood/adolescence and digital adulthood. It is the perfect combination for this life, I don’t think I could do or would even want to do my teens or twenties online *shudders*. I am “acting my age” (what ever that means), 41, as I live and breathe it – I don’t know how else to do it!

Acceptance comes in a variety of guises. Acceptance of self, of others, of situations and circumstance. I know who I am (I think). This year I have been swimming deep in the waters of my shadow uncovering and exposing the bits I’d rather not face; my shadow. There are parts of my physical body I like and dislike, there are parts of my character I like and dislike, but I accept that these are the parts that make me me. Of course I am a work in progress, trying, failing, succeeding, learning, trying again, growing and evolving. Its a never ending process. And it starts with accepting who I am.

Values. With acceptance of who I am and who others are, I have stopped reduced comparing myself, positively or negatively, because it is irrelevant, and live instead, according to my own values. The values I deem most important may or may not be the same as those of another, but they are mine and I am living to honor these to the best I can to ensure I live my best life.

I’m sure there are other things I’ve learned or perhaps unlearned, in this past year, but I feel these are the main points. The general thread running through seems to be regarding self awareness, but not from a naval gazing stance (I hope), more from the view that this is who I am, this is my life, these are my needs and boundaries, take me as I am or keep walking. And so this is where I begin 41, and am keen to see what unfolds before 42.

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Trust

Trust. What does the mean to you? How important is it to you? How do you feel when there is no trust or when a previous bond of trust has been broken?

What is trust? Is it a feeling, an emotion? Is it an instinct? It is certainly built up over time and through experience. It can be a split second decision to throw caution to the wind and decide to trust or place blind faith in something greater ie religion. Trust is something we place in others, in ourselves and in situations. It is earned yet can be lost in a single moment. It can be taken for granted. Can it ever be regained once broken or will it always have fracture lines?

Recently I have come to question trust in my own life, both in myself and in others. A mutual bond of trust has broken. It broke due to the disparities in our expectations of each other and the values we hold, which, had they been communicated, may have gone some way to remedying a situation before the house came down. Sadly, it is the way of life though isn’t it? We each have core values and beliefs that we hold as truths. They are ours and ours alone. We cannot expect anyone else to adhere to these as they will have their own set of values. There may be a cross over and similarities, but just as each person is unique, so too are their truths, their perception of the truth and their trust in their own truth. When they don’t align, relationships and friendships may come to an impasse and dissolve.

Trust and truth are words and instincts I have been wrangling with. We all want people to be honest and truthful. We see post after post all across the interwebs on every platform about living in our truth, standing in our truth, trusting our intuition, trusting ourselves, but the truth of the matter is that that is scary! It can be deeply unpleaseant to the point of ugly – what if you don’t like or agree with the truth? Can you trust it? Can you trust yourself to handle the truth? Do you trust yourself to honour your truth when all around are in opposition or don’t understand? Can you trust the person delivering the truth; yourself or another? To take that leap of faith and be bold and trust, whatever it is you need to trust is to be brave and vulnerable.

The essence of trust is in the vulnerability. You allow yourself to be vulnerable with another and trust them with that. I’m hearing Brene Brown’s voice in my head as I type, without vulnerability there is no trust! And I think, that that is why once trust has been damaged it is sooo hard to repair it because we allowed ourselves to open and let our guard down therefore it hurts so much when we feel we have been disregarded or betrayed.

I think the biggest trust we have to have is in ourselves. I don’t see that we can fully trust another without fully trusting and believing in ourselves – despite what we might think! Being honest and truthful with ourselves first; to know who we are and what our values are will hold us steady when these are challenged or crossed. A truth for me is the desire to shy away from [avoid] confrontation as I don’t like to hurt other people, but I have learned that not trusting myself to face a situation from a point of honesty has not protected another from hurt but rather hurt both of us.

As scary as it is, I have resolved within myself to trust myself and speak my truth no matter what, because anything less is simply not respecting me, my boundaries, my health. I’m not going to violate the trust I’ve placed in myself to make others feel better about themselves. Other people’s reactions are not my responsibility. I have trust that each person I come across will be accountable and responsible for their own actions, thoughts and opinions. And that’s a truth!

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Magic Rewilding

Magic Rewilding

Do you believe in magic?

You don’t have to; its all around you. YOU are magic.

Do you believe me? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. All around us we are told we need to do this or have that inorder to “make magic” (whatever that means to you). The internet and some chain stores have caught on to the current trend for all things witchcraft, paganism, spirituality, and a hotch potch of all things appropriated from oppressed cultures and you can buy all manner of accoutrements and paraphernalia to “do it right”.

When did it all get so complicated and prescribed?

In the capitalist age, the next big thing is always on the horizon. Some fads come and go with their 1 minute of fame while others have the longevity. Right now, the New Age is in vogue. And there is a money to be made. Money is magic, right? Nope!

Shop bought magic isn’t YOUR magic.

In my humble opinion, we need to simplify spirituality and rewild magic not commercialise it.

I invite you to question and be honest with yourself. Figure out what you believe [in] and why. Are your beliefs something you’ve been told or something you’ve been drawn or called to? Did you connect with something because you read about it were told about it or were informed that this is the right way?

How often do you go outside? To be barefoot and touch the earth, taste fresh produce, dance in the rain, talk to the wind, smell the flowers and hug a tree? When was the last time you moon bathed, star gazed or howled into the night? Rose with the sun and slept with the moon, disregarded the Gregorian calendar to live by the lunar cycle, new moon to dark moon? Were still or ran free along the beach at the waters edge, or through the woods, open hillside or city parkland?

We are nature; we are a part of nature not apart from nature!

Do we need to buy that particular stone because it holds a particular energy, or do we see a stone on the ground and appreciate its beauty and how it feels in our hand, so take it home instead? Do we need to buy that bunch of flowers with the right colour of petals or candle in that certain colour? Or would using what we have found in nature or what we already have in the home work just as well? Does that spell kit with the candle and the “smudge stick” (stolen from Native American heritage) and the prescribed “spell” have more power than the words spelled, written or spoken, by the person setting those intentions, which are imbued with their energy and feelings? Which leads me on to correspondences.

There are prescribed correspondences for EVERYTHING! Certain colours, crystals, essential oils, incense, candles, ribbons, herbs, flowers, foods, animals, times of the day, days of the week, seasons, numbers, weather conditions, elements, trees, astrological placement of the planets, etc et that NEED to be adhered to for “magic” to work, to do it right. Bollocks to that! Why? Because like with nearly everything else in life, magic has been caught and caged for capitalism. To need most of this stuff means to buy it. But do you know what you can’t buy? Intuition. You cannot buy intuition because, that, my friend is not for sale! And nothing is more potent that trusting personal intuition; it’s the most valuable tool you have at your disposal. It needs to be worked and exercised and above all, trusted and listened to. Everything else is fluff and fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of fluff and fun – of course I have a cauldron! Yes, I divine using tarot and oracle decks. All I am saying is that we don’t need it .

Do I think our ancestors needed to have the right correspondences to work? Nope, I believe they used what they had, a cauldron was an actual cooking receptacle and followed intuition. No need to over complicate for what is essentially the essence of the New Age; Social Media and our audience. That is not real.

People new or exploring a different path may find what others have done, a useful insight to what may work for them, and I will always recommend reading books, books and more books, but above all, I would tell everyone to trust themselves, question everything and keep it simple. And it shouldn’t cost you a small fortune either!

My word for 2019 is Depth, and part of the work I’ve been doing has been around questioning why I do what I do, including my spiritual practice. Over the many years I have been walking this path I have tried various ways of doing and shoe-horning other people’s way into my way, its very much been trial and error. I resisted the Divine Feminine for a number of years as had been atheist since about 12 years years old. What I have come to realise and appreciate is that if something is presented to me and it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t get to stay, equally, as I grow and learn and explore, if something no longer fits, it is released to leave space. William Morris’ famous quote:

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

is very relevant here and therefore my cauldron stays, it being both beautiful and useful – and fun! I prefer to go with my feelings and mood at any particular time rather than what someone else has decreed as the right way or right “correspondence”. Symbolism is personal too, how I interpret the meaning or feeling attached to whatever I am working with or on.

I’ve also chucked the need to follow set rituals including my own. At the last full moon I went dancing instead of doing what I would normally with meditation and tarot and journal. Mixing it up and going with what I’m feeling and called to do instead of self imposed rituals has been a form of rewilding my own magic and simplifying my spirituality.

I don’t live my path to only pick it up to perform rituals at New and Full Moon time with all sorts of paraphernalia. I just need myself, my intuition and calling it in and living it daily. Magic is already in me, in you, in us; in all our uniqueness. No rules are needed to be told how to use it or for why, it just needs to be allowed to be felt, to be released, to be rewilded.

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Perimenopause. WTF?

I’m tired, so tired. Most of the time. I can count on one hand the number of nights in the past few months where I have gotten a fully rested night’s sleep without waking for no apparent reason – and that’s once I actually get to sleep. My bed is too warm despite sleeping with the window open. I keep getting headaches even though I have upped my water intake to ensure I am drinking at least 2ltrs per day which of course just exacerbates my granny bladder. My already dry eyes feel like swollen bouncy balls in my sandpaper sockets as they dry further. I am generally happy to go with the flow of the day to day, but push my button and I WILL explode without warning (this is your warning!). I have zero tolerance for bullshit, drama and other folk’s nonsense. My patience is limited and my time precious; when and with whom I chose to spend it is carefully decided. I am easily distracted and find it hard to focus on anything or anyone for any length of time. I am changing. My body is changing. I feel heavy and bloated (I’m actually the heaviest I’ve ever been outwith pregnancy). I am becoming and growing into myself, into the real me. I crave more and more time alone; peace and solitude are my holy grail. I’m done with striving, with pleasing others at my own expense or judging myself or being judges by other people’s standards. And this is just the start.

Hello Perimenopause!

Did I mention that I am also only 40? I didn’t think I’d have to think about this stuff for another 8 year or so. That was part of my ignorance about menopause and perimenopause. Hell, until 3 years ago I had never even HEARD of perimenopause until a woman I know mentioned that she had been perimenopausal for 8 years as she was approaching her 50th birthday. WTF?

I KNOW I am not alone in what was menopausal ignorance. How do I know this? BECAUSE IT’S NEVER DISCUSSED! We are only just coming around to openly discussing menstruation without using code words and hiding tampons. There was still a minor hoo-ha when an advert showed red rather then blue menstruation blood on the TV last year.

But this is a big fucking deal – it , like menstruation, will affect half the bloody population! Where is all the chat from our elder women about The Change?

There are some women now starting to use their voices and internet platforms to share their own experiences, but the over arching theme in all of them, this one included, the the sheer lack of information about menopause, specifically perimenopause in our general knowledge about our own bodies.

What do you know about menopause? Before I started looking specifically into it last year, my knowledge was thus : menopause means the end of periods, happens between ages 48-52, you get hot flushes and sweaty restless nights, mood swings and for some people, depression too. Oh and HRT of course. There. That was my understanding and extremely scant knowledge of what was to come in my menstrual future.

It is NOT ok for us to be so poorly prepared.

As someone who considers themselves fairly well versed in the workings of the womb and menstrual health, having had pre-cancerous cells removed from my cervix at 30, a miscarriage at 32 and a run of tests taken last year, I take the health of my lady parts seriously. Early 2018 I started experiencing changes however. I had constant nausea (this wasn’t new, I’ve had intermittent periods of persistent nausea for a few years), feeling full after just starting my meals, constantly needing to pee, bloating, disturbed sleep, less cramping just before my bleed was due (when I used to have awful cramps) which moved to awful cramping at ovulation instead, lots of headaches and an unpredictable temperament. The Dr ran blood tests and sent me for a scan of my ovaries. All bloods “came back fine” just needed to up my iron (again, nothing new there) and scan showed “nothing out the ordinary”. Ok, so I am functioning normally, and there’s nothing to worry about (I was just glad that it wasn’t ovarian cancer as my symptoms were pointing in that direction after some internet investigation or early menopause), so WHAT was causing the shift? Nothing more from GP was said, I got my iron pills and carried on with life. Of course, not all the changes in my body stopped, some in the past year have increased! Through my own research I have come to discover that while my GP told me that the UK average for women going through the menopause was 48-52 ( there is a younger and older range to the spectrum, as required in order to ascertain the average), she at no point mentioned perimenopause and that the start of this phase is perfectly normal for women my age! Seriously??

Why is Menopuase not a hot topic of conversation? Why aren’t we discussing it with our mothers or aunties or friends? Why aren’t our Drs discussing it with us when we present our symptoms? Why is it, when it is in conversation, regarded with doom and gloom and scorn? Why is HRT to immediate go-to cure? Why do people think it needs a cure? Why is it to be hidden? Yet another taboo of the female form!

So, let’s chat.

First of all, the word symptoms. I’m not down with calling my experiences “symptoms” and here’s why:

  • Oxford Dictionary : ” (i) a physical or mental feature which is regarded as indicating a condition of disease, and (ii) an indication of the existence of something, especially of an undesirable situation”
  • Cambridge Dictionary : ” (i) any feeling of illness or physical or mental change that is caused by a particular disease and (ii) any single problem that is caused by and shows a more serious general problem”

Do you see my point? Perimenopause and menopause is NOT a disease nor a health problem! Language is important. Frame this big event in our lives as an “undesirable situation” and your frame the societal attitude and engender the shame and need for taboo. It devalues women, in particular our mental health and emotional strength and belittles what our bodies are experiencing; effectively our second puberty! What it doesn’t do is celebrate that this is our time!!! Instead of “symptoms” how about just naming the changes as that, “changes” or “experiences”? Symptoms also has a very medical/clinical energy around the word for a stage in our life that is not medical but a transition as we progress through the cycle of life.

There is a power behind “The Change”; a casting off of the fucks given, a determination to be true and feeling whole. Or at least it ought to be. Instead we may find crippling insecurity and anxiety, long unexpressed and suppressed rage and tension working its way to the surface accompanied by tears. We NEED to feel this stuff, accept it and let it go – WITHOUT being told we are depressed or “hormonal” and given multiple prescriptions for anti depressants and HRT. Yes, we are hormonal but not in a bad way, and yes, some people are actually depressed but how many woman are told they are when all they are truly feeling is the release of toxicity that they had held since their maiden years, bursting its way through? It’s not allowed, it has to remain contained and hidden, you crazy lady. Oh, really?

I have already been told that HRT is the way to go by elder women. “It’ll make you feel better with the mood swings.” “It helped keep my emotions in check” etc etc. Personally, I don’t care about keeping my emotions in check. I want to feel what my body is experiencing not numb it out and effectively be punished by being silenced for it. If people around me are uncomfortable with the metamorphosis into the woman I am becoming, that’s not my problem. This is a rebirth, one I am not stifling to accommodate the delicate expectations of those who are uncomfortable with a woman in her power. Resting bitch face? Nope, regular face where every wrinkle has earned its right to be there, where aging has its own beauty and is a privilege. Not tolerating bullshit or annoyances I would have in the past does not mean I’m grumpy, it means I am honouring myself and my boundaries as opposed to pandering to make someone else feel good. If however, my experiences cause me issues and problems in myself, then I will seek advice from my GP so will not rule out HRT altogether at this point – who knows what the coming decade holds!

So, going back to what I said further up about my knowledge being, at best, scant, is that the actual menopause isn’t recognised until we have had a full 12 months with out a menstrual bleed. Only then are we considered to have reached menopause. (UK average is 51 years old) We are no longer fertile. 1 in 100 women experience it before the age of 40! All the perimenopausal changes we experience leading up to the menopause can start in our 30s! Once the body has gone through the menopause, the changes can still be experienced for a further 4 years or so, when we are then referred to as post menopausal.

A good read for facts about the physical changes and what to expect are

I have self diagnosed myself through my research as perimenopausal, but am going to see GP to make sure (and to rule out anything else untoward, just incase). I feel this is the most sensible approach to take particularly due to my age being in the younger end of the spectrum.

What are your thought and experiences with perimenopause? I’d love to find out and get a conversation going. There are not enough conversations and discussions around this – sharing the good and the bad, empowering and debilitating and educating the next wave of women and men and future generations in what it is to experience this transition as best prepared as possible.

Lissa x

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Into The Deep

 

In the midst of the pre-festive revelry, Christmas trees going up and homes being festooned with an assortment of lights, I am in a contemplative mood. I’m being pulled into the deep thinking state of mind that normally accompanies the betwixt days of late December rather than the before the festivities have even properly begun!

Assessing 2018 and thinking about 2019 is occupying my mind.  As Winter Solstice draws closer, I begin to journey inwards, feeling the draw go deep and hibernate. I feel very protective of my truth and want to keep it hidden, private and away from others. It’s such a fine line between connecting with others and owning our power/sovereignty. Choosing with whom to share and spend my time, is crucial. The busy, exciting merriment of the season MUST be balanced with the quiet solitude I need to process, recharge and unwind.

My Word of 2018 was Change. And that was something I certainly embraced this year with a milestone birthday and moving house. Two big changes as well as several minor ones.  It’s been quite a big year in terms of change; personal growth and for my wider sphere of life. Changes that continue to evolve as I do, some that have long lasting effects and far reaching ripples.

This has tied in with my receiving of  Susannah Conway’s rather timely email regarding her Unravel Your Year workbook.  I decided to follow my instinct and start the work, which has been interesting.  I’m almost at the point of burning this year’s journal.  Does anyone else do that ( burn or destroy completed journals) or do you keep them for years? I have no journals from before the start of 2018.  I prefer to focus on going forward rather than holding on to the past.  Although sometimes I think it might be nice to look back to see how far I have come (if at all in some instances).

It is the changes that have helped shape the form of my word for 2019: Depth.

Once I had decided upon Depth, I happened upon this article on raptitude.com called Go Deeper, Not Wider . This  is exactly the direction I was planning in my head. 

The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” Drill down for value and enrichment instead of fanning out. You turn to the wealth of options already in your house, literally and figuratively…By taking a whole year to go deeper instead of wider, you end up with a rich but carefully curated collection of personal interests, rather than the hoard of mostly-dormant infatuations that happens so easily in post-industrial society.

There are books on my shelves I want to read, projects I want to finish and business plans I want to focus on and give my full attention to, without the distractions of the new shiny thing that catches my eye. Of course being the professional procrastinator that I am, means I have my work cut out to ensure that I do actually do all the things that I want to do.  I figure that if I get to this time next year with the same unread pages, incomplete projects and no further forward in my work, then it will have either been a waste of a year, or perhaps  a realisation that my priorities are not what I think they are!

I am keen to get cracking and see how 2019 unfolds, to see what is uncovered and discover what has outstayed its welcome. But first, I have my tree to decorate and Yule and Christmas to celebrate with friends and family .

The very best of the Seasons Greetings to you

L x

 

 

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I Want To Break Free

I want to break free!

Free from rules, shoulds, judgement (including self imposed), standards and expectations in my day to day life, my online life and in my spiritual practice.

To be fair, I have cast off many of the shackles holding me down and back, but I still feel stifled, suffocated, stressed and overwhelmed.

I have written before about the need to simplify and slow down. In my efforts to do so I seem to have picked up other rules and must dos to replace what I let go!

FFS!!

Having moved house in the summer I wondered if the feels and energy lack were to do with that.  However, I have come to realise that it’s much more; runs much deeper.  My brain and being are saturated with images (including my own) , books, recommendations, advice and how-tos on EVERYTHING.  So instead of waiting for my digital detox and life assessment in January, I’m spending the remainder of the year unpacking what serves and what doesn’t. I’m checking in with all that sees its way into my life; how I am spending each of the 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, even 365 days a year. In no particular order, under the microscope so far are:

  • Morning Routine – why do I do what I do, when I do. How does it make me feel? Could I change it, would it make a difference, does it need to?
  • Home/ Family – our settling in period has passed, what’s working, what isn’t and why? Balancing family needs and my own (not currently in balance, but is that elusive balance the new Holy Grail?)
  • Fulfillment – what makes me feel fulfilled? What do I need inorder to feel fulfilled? Where is the lack? How do I address this?
  • Values – what are my true values? How am I recognising and therefore honouring them, or not as the case may be?
  • Priorities – I have so many plates spinning – what are my priorities and why?  Where are my top priorities sitting in my to-do lists currently?
  • Spiritual practice/path – why do I look outside of myself for the answers rather than seeking from within? What am I seeking? Why do I deem external knowledge, particularly printed or internet wisdom as more important than my own – espcially when in conflict with my own experience or opinion?
  • Time / Calendar –  how do I use and measure time?What system(s) work best for me? Are arbitrary dates causing more unrest? Is it possible to rise with the sun and sleep with the moon in this day and age?

This list is not finite and I may add more as I see fit. For instance, the coming full moon I will be holding a private ritual, but I don’t know yet what that will look like – will feel into it at the time and see what comes up; without the use of astrology or new age/spiritual prescription.

I know what I want, what I crave.

Simplicity.

Simplify my practice, just going with my internal calling and needs. Heeding our intuition is a super power!  I love learning and seeking out new information to enhance and grow my own knowledge, but I don’t like being told or preached to, preferring to feel into what I trust and what I accept. But more and more I feel so much of the knowledge and purported wisdom is heavy and laden with the ‘right way’ or cultural appropriation, which goes against my personal ethos.

I want to break free, let go of it all and start a-new, with clarity, purpose and a healthy dose of realism inorder to be the best version of myself for me and my family (because currently I know I am not!)  rather than constantly trying to silencing my inner voice which is screaming to be heard and released!

I know I need rewilding and freedom to just be, whatever the fuck that means!

Earlier today a friend sent me the quote below which summed up exactly how she was feeling. Talk about synchronicity!

simple
Image and quote uncredited from Pinterest

What do you need to break free from?

Lx