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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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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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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

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If you could turn back time, would you?

If you could turn back time, would you?

The clocks went back at the weekend and so too did my mind and imagination!  An old friend sent me a couple of photos from when we were at school (the first being my 17th birthday and they surprised me with cake in English class, the second being our last day at high school). How young we were, just at the threshold of life.

I posted the photo to my instagram account and was asked

“Curious…if you could share anything about the journey of growing up with the girl in this pic now, what would it be?”

which got me thinking about what would I say to the girl in that picture.  I replied with the following :

“I’ve always wondered what I’d do differently if I had my time again (answer = most of it!) but been giving your qu some thought and through all the mistakes and wrong decisions and poor behaviour and choices, I keep coming back to the same thing: Stay true to you, don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t, you don’t have to overcompensate, you are enough and make the best decisions for the right reasons when you remember that 🙏💖 oh and the world is there to be seen and experienced so go and do both!!! ✨”

I’ve been think about this question ever since.  If I could have my time again what would I do differently; answer is pretty much everything! It was then that I realised that conclusion was was a pretty sad state of affairs, because the my choices have led me to where I am now.

Remembering back to when I was 17, who I was and what I wanted, and reflecting on the path that has led me to today, I can see that very little of what I have done and achieved has really been in line with that girl.

I didn’t want to marry or have children. I wanted to travel.  Up until I was 17 I wanted to go to Glasgow School of Art and from age 10 I wanted to be an interior designer, but then self doubt made its presence known along with the comparison to other people. From then I wanted to be a woman with power and authority. I craved independence and the desire to “fly the nest” so sought out university courses which would lead to high flying careers (of course I picked the wrong university, the wrong course and so dropped out).  I also harboured dreams of being arrested(!) but for something worthy and for a good cause, like protesting or doing something radical for Greenpeace.  I remember striving for approval, yet wanting and needing to be “different”. I hated societal confines and knew there had to be more; I was capable of more, but more of what?? I loved most things alternative but was chained to convention, a chain that took years to finally break. It took several bouts of illness and a permanent health condition and numerous well paid but highly stressful  to finally stop and reassess. I spent years in the barren lands chasing dreams that weren’t really mine, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, instead of years in the wilderness following my truth.

Now forty and I am once again taking stock and reassessing where and who I am.  It’s like I’m back at the start of knowing and understanding who I am but with the lived experience behind me.  No I don’t still want to go to Glasgow School of Art and become an interior designer, but I am still creative and need to express that. I know what I want to do, am just finding the confidence to push past the inposter complex to achieve my dreams.

Instead of being sad and melancholy over what ifs or shoulds, I am grateful for the experiences I have had and the lessons learned as I am sat here, a woman who has lived, loved, lost and laughed. A lot! I am who I am because of me. I can’t change my past, but I can learn from it and grow from there.  This second half of life will be all the richer for it.

Looking back, while I strayed way off course from my true north and made highly questionable choices, I can say that no, I wouldn’t change it.  I like love me and who I am today, and I love my family. Who is to say I would be that lucky if I had taken a different route.

1995

Now it’s my turn to ask you: If you could turn back time, would you?

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In Your Blood

Who are you and where do you come from?

Do you know?
Does it matter?

The world has become a melting pot of traditions and blended ways; a global village of sorts.  Or is it just the wash that’s been applied to cover cultural appropriation?

In the spiritual spheres, the cherry picking of “cool” rituals, tools and symbology is rife, but call it “eclectic” and all is well, right? Well, no actually. I don’t think it is.  Many cultures, including my own, have been through years of persecution and oppression, some to the point of being classed as criminal. But as fashions come and go, the current trend for spirituality and the blending of hippie/gypsy/bohemian/pagan (all of which are completely different and not at all synonymous with one another) looks like its here to stay for quite some time yet.  And it needs addressing.

The point of this post is not to lecture, preach, judge or dictate what anyone else should be or not be doing or how one ought to practice, or what and who to believe in, but more to invite you to question what you do, why you do it, where it comes from, what’s your connection?

This is a matter that I have been sitting with for a long time, trying to figure out why I believe what I do, where does that come from, why I am passionate about certain issues or lifestyle choices that seem to bear no connection to my upbringing, why I experience physical reactions or strong emotions to certain historical events. I want to know what truly sits with me and what it not mine to take but instead may appreciate and respect from the outside.

I want to know what and who runs through the blood in my veins. What memories am I holding at a cellular level? Who are my ancestors, where were they from? Who am I and where am I from? So many questions.

Earlier this year I started to trace my family tree. I knew very little to be honest, nothing further back than my grandparents, on either side of my family. As I stand today, I am one quarter English, three quarters Scottish, based on my grandparents. I know that from somewhere way back down my paternal line, some Welsh too (only because my birth name is Welsh). Tracing your ancestry is a rabbit hole I heartily recommend falling down! So far I have traced my Celtic roots back to the the 1700’s with branches reaching Ireland and the Gaelic speaking Highlands of Scotland on my Mother’s side, but have limited knowledge of my Father’s side other than my Granny was from Fife and my Papa from Liverpool.

My Mother line is the branch that I want to explore further. It is my life blood, passed down through the generations, Mother to daughter.  This branch is the one that shed light on so many of my questions and wonderings about myself. It is also where the blood line ends; both my sister and I have sons. There are a no daughters to carry the mother blood on (of my mum’s 2 sisters, 1 had 2 sons and the other, 2 daughters where, again, my cousin has a son which has ended the Mother line).

Let me introduce myself; I am Lissa, daughter of Florence, daughter of Margaret, daughter of Susan, daughter of Elizabeth, daughter of Margaret, daughter of Janet. Janet was born in the early – mid 1700’s in Ireland. At some point the family moved to the west coast of Scotland and over the following 200 years, they moved from Argyll to Perthshire then to Stirlingshire, where both my Mum and I were raised. I have not been able to trace further back yet, so no idea if my ancient ancestors were Celts, Picts, Vikings, Romans, Saxons or who, but with 200+ years of known ancestral blood in me, its safe to say I am of modern Celtic descent. A culture so rich in history and language and folklore.

It is of no surprise that my lineage is of the British Isles; I am proper peely-wally white and burn in the sun, with fair hair touched with red (ginger).  What did surprise me though, was finding out that my entire line from my maternal grandmother, back to Janet, were Travellers. Not Gypsies, but Travellers; tinkers and hawkers. The Romany Gypsies are a completely different race that need to be recognised as such. The Romany people and their culture are often romanticised for their colourful lives and beautiful wagons, completely ignoring the difficulties and hardships these people faced over the years; demonised and degraded.  I am no different in that idolisation of the Gypsy people and have had a life long love of the Gypsy life, ever since I went to the Glasgow Transport Museum as a 10 year old and saw the Gypsy Wagon (how many times can I say ‘Gypsy’ in one sentence!?)  Every year I went to the museum with my art class to draw and paint for a school competition and every year I went straight to the vardo and fell more in love with it each time.

3 years ago I took my family off on holiday to England where we camped in a vardo for 3 nights – a dream come true for me. I have a strong wanderlust pull and a craving to travel since I was little, a yearning for freedom and independence yet I am not well travelled, far from it infact. I looked into living in a narrow boat on the canal and am desperate for a Bell Tent to go off camping in (and holding circles in). That feeling or notion is in my blood. It is a part of me.  Discovering that my not so distant relations and for many a generation, were actually Travellers, makes so much sense and I felt a piece of my inner puzzle click into place.

My cousin has also been uncovering our past and has been in touch with our Grandmother’s sister’s son in New Zealand- he revealed that his Mother (my Great – Aunt) never lost her love of home, for story telling and reading the leaves.  As a reader of the Tarot for 22 years, it was a thrill to hear that my aunt was also a reader – I have started learning the leaves too, and revisiting palmistry which I have gotten rusty at.  I used to practice my arts in secret, for fear of ridicule or scorn – a feeling that runs deep. I have drookering* skills and now I know where they came from. Just need to get my tongue around the language – Travellers speak Cant, which I have been trying to pick up, through reading the many books by Jess Smith and Sheila Stewart on the lives of Travellers.

Knowing that another branch of my ancestral tree hails from the Gaelic speaking Highlands, I also want to learn the language.  I got a cd and book to learn it when I was pregnant – I was going to use my maternity leave to learn Gaelic – what was I thinking???I ended up using my maternity leave to learn how to live with and keep alive, a small human! So as it stands I can ask “how are you” (Ciamar a tha sibh?) and reply with a “good thank you” (Tha gu math, tapadh leibh), and there endeth my Gaelic, BUT it is on my list of things to learn, and I WILL learn the language of my people. I am fluent in Scots though. Scots-English that was drummed out of us in school, that parents would give you a telling off for using (despite them using it) as it was considered “slang”, “common”, “lower class”, “rough”, “uneducated”, “shameful”, “cringeworthy” and  all round “awful” from every angle! Because that is what generations upon generations had been told by our “betters”.  I’m sure any regular reader of my blog will have a fair idea of what I think of that then! It is a vibrant tongue, with a wheen of phrases and words that are descriptive in a way the Queen’s English could never deliver.

Much of Scotland’s traditions, language and ways of life were destroyed after the Jacobite Rising and the Battle of Culloden in 1746 – the defeat meant that the wearing of tartan and the use of Gaelic were outlawed and many people were displaced from their homes. The Highland Clearances also displaced people when the crofters were ruthlessly evicted in favour of grazing sheep. Many of these people became travellers, not through choice and tradition but through necessity. Travellers were seen to be illiterate, dirty and untrustworthy, living on the fringes of society and heavily persecuted. Even today the stigma is still firmly attached.

But now there is a recognised need for being proud of our culture and heritage. Primary school children are learning Scots words and children’s books such as The Gruffalo and even Harry Potter are being translated into Scots:

 Turnin the envelope ower, his haun tremmlin, Harry saw a purpie wax seal wi a coat o airms; a lion, an earn, a brock, and a snake surroondin a muckle letter ‘H’.

HARRY POTTER doesnae ken the first thing aboot Hogwarts when the LETTERS stert drappin ontae the doormat at nummer fower, Privet Loan. The letters, scrievit in GREEN ink on YELLA pairchment wi a PURPIE seal, are taen aff him by his AWFIE aunt and CRABBIT uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleeventh birthday, a muckle GIANT wi tousie hair cawed RUBEUS HAGRID breenges in tae his life wi some ASTOONDIN news: Harry Potter is a warlock, and he has a place at HOGWARTS SCHUIL O CARLINECRAFT AND WARLOCKRY.

Ahh, be still my beating heart. There was also an exhibition on in Stirling last week showcasing the lives of the Scottish Travellers – what an insight into the live and culture of a minority people.

When it comes to my path, my beliefs and practices, I have been Pagan for a long time; I’ve never connected with Christianity – yes I was christened as a baby, but that was my parent’s choice not mine, and yes I went to church at the end of school term or for weddings and funerals, but I am resolutely not Christain. Witches have been my love since a young girl. I have only fairly recently come to Goddess culture, having been a staunch athiest for the majority of my life,  and exploring who they are/were. There is a lot of love online for Kuan Yin and Kali Ma, Lakshmi and Durga, but for me there is no connection. I appreciate who they are and what they represent but I cannot claim them as my Goddesses as they are not mine, how can I possibly call a Hindu or Buddhist deity for my own when I don’t practice or follow those faiths? Its the same with Mary Magdalene or Lilith – I “get” the archetypes and their stories but they are of the Christian faith – again, not mine! I even struggle with Greek and Roman Goddesses. However, I do connect with deities; the Cailleach, Nicneven/ Gyre Carlin, Nematona, Elen of the Ways and Sulis – Celtic deities native to the British Isles , with each of whom there is resonance. Yes, I did deliberately seek out and explore Celtic Goddesses, many of whom were down graded to various incarnations of the  Faery Queen, in my quest to find, actually I don’t know what I initially hoped to find or for why, just something that made sense to me.

Asking myself who I am and where I come from has been enormously satisfying as well as eye opening. It has also given me a starting point from which to grow and learn about my own culture and heritage and to incorporate that into who I am today with who I want be and where I want to go.  I can now appreciate and respect other cultures without appropriating them for my own needs or to make my own experience more “authentic” or enlightened or which ever adjective is required.

In the past I have used or wanted to use other culture’s ritual or language, for example, smudging. I have “smudged” in the past. In reality, I haven’t smudged but merely cleansed. The use of smoke to cleanse is used world wide, but the act of smudging is actually a sacred ritual practiced by the indigenous people of America. Language is important. Cleansing is fine, smudging is not. My preferred Tarot deck and the one I have been using for 22 year is the Native American deck full of beautiful imagery and symbolism of the different tribes. Not my heritage, but I appreciate the beauty of the deck. However, a Native American person may feel that this is appropriation of their heritage – who I am to argue with that? I cant, nor should I.  The use of the word tribe and how “your vibe attracts your tribe” – is not indigenous to these lands, there weren’t tribes in Scotland, there were clans. The surnames of my ancestors are clan names (although in my research it seems that Ireland had tribes and clans, although I am prepared to be corrected in that).

The issue of cultural appropriate is huge and I am not in a position to cover it in depth or with any authority. I can however, recommend delving into our own unique histories and herstories to understand what is in our blood.

What ancient memories are you holding and remembering?

Lx

*Drookering – Traveller Cant word for fortune telling/reading, usually tea leaves or palms.
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Wild Woman

Autumn is upon us. The summer sun had peaked and the descent into the dark half of the year has begun. The natural world thrills us with the stunning jewelled landscape of purples, oranges, rusts and gold. The scents in the air tantalize us and the desire to turn inwards with cozy woollen layers and hot chocolate at the fireside increases with each darkening evening as the nights themselves draw in.

Ask everyone you know, I would confidently place a bet that the majority of people would agree, that their favourite season is Autumn. The transition season between the sizzling joy of summer and the cold dead of winter. Everything is changing and evolving; shedding and letting go, preparing for the next stage. The wheel turns; the cycle continues. Birth, blossom, fruit, seed, rebirth and so it goes.

Autumn, the season of abundance. Enjoying the fruits of our labours, the sweet and the juice, the preparations for preserving, baking, sharing and appreciating the harvest. Thankful and grateful for our good fortune. We welcome the return of Strictly on the telly, and not forgetting Hygge  – where Autumn and Winter get their dusting of cinnamon sparkles and we coory in to enjoy and embrace these darker months in a comfortable and delightful bubble.

Can you tell Autumn is my favourite season of the year? I adore this picture I saw on Pinterest last year declaring:

october

Oh yes it is indeed!!

This is the season of Wild Woman

This rich time of year is not purely about the falling leaves and rejoicing in the need to wear to tights again, oh no, it is SOOOO much more than that. The Autumn season in a woman’s life is that magical time when she herself is in transition; the phase between Mother and Crone.  This is the season of Wild Woman. She may also be referred to as Medicine Woman, Warrior, Enchantress, Witch, Bitch or Maga (no NOT the Donald Trump acronym!!)

The season of the witch honours the the waning phase of the moon, the acceptance of the journey towards the end (which is inevitable in all forms of life). The energy is introspective and contemplative, assessing what has gone before and what is yet to come, meeting and facing the shadows. Where the Spring and Summer /Maiden and Mother energy is light, bright and optimistic, the Autumn and Winter / Wild Woman and Crone is dark, deep and questioning. For those of us cycling, this phase is our Inner Autumn, aka pre menstrual phase:  when we want to retreat, have little to no patience or tolerance for bullshit, because this is the most honest phase. We meet our shadow where it forces us to see what we would rather not and either hide from it or face and deal with it.

I personally love this phase, in my inner cycle (despite the cramps), in the annual cycle outside in nature and in the great life cycle of being a woman. Life is such a celebration and our Autumn years are no exception.  When I was in my Maiden phase, my “scary age” was 35, but since my late 30’s I couldn’t wait for my 40’s. I turned 40 earlier this year and I have to say, so far it has been worth the wait! It is a true saying that Life Begins At 40 – there was for me, a distinct shift inside that went from self consciously hiding my truth, people pleasing and a need to be liked, to being thoroughly honest with myself, unapologetic in being exactly who I am and stopping pussyfooting around others so as not offend them, or make them uncomfortable at my expense.  And yes, it has been both noticed and not always liked. But too bad! My transition phase started with the shedding and letting go of outside judgement and placing my value and worth in those external hands. I don’t mean that being true and honest gives you carte blanche to be a total dick, your field of fucks is not so barren, I just mean choose what you care about wisely and release the rest that do not serve or only bring drama.

The Wild Woman Autumn age spans years 40-65 with, of course, plenty room for overlap from the previous Mother phase.  It’s our time to take and make space for ourselves, turn inwards to nurture self and get to know self better (going to drop self care in here). Many women find that this is also when they become more interested in a personal spiritual practice or are curious to find out what it means to them; including understanding and learning to trust their own intuition or tracing family lineage for example. I found that need to know where I came from incredibly powerful, and the answers I found were both surprising and yet made so much sense to who I am leading me to understand the blood that runs in my veins. We can reclaim who we are.

feel all the feels in all their glory

This phase covers our blood-rite, or second puberty; the transitioning peri-menopause years leading into menopause. Or to give it its other name, “Moon Pause”.  It’s an intense time where you feel all the feels in all their glory! Rage, hot flushes, insomnia, depression, lower sex drive, or swing to the other extreme of super charged sex drive,  headaches, increasingly irregular periods, mood swings are some of the most common “symptoms” of a transition in our lives that has been medicalised and medicated. We are not allowed to feel and experience this natural change in our bodies without being told we need Hormone Replacement Treatment. While HRT works for some women, just like the pill, it is not for every woman.  According to the NHS website, the majority of women move through this stage around age 48-52 but some begin much earlier or start later – there is no right or wrong time, just as there is no predetermined timescale for the peri-menopause. Sadly, it is during this time when we are most likely to be called hormonal, hysterical, possibly even bi-polar(!) and most definitely a bitch . Lovely

Why?

Because women are meant to be and equally not meant to be everything except for who we are!! Because middle aged women are viewed as less than the Mother (but more than the crone) and vastly diminished and practically worthless compared to the Maiden.  Incase you missed the memo, we are no longer “worth it”. Over 40 or worse, over 50, no no no, that wont do. The Maiden is idolised for her youth but not her experience. We are plied with adverts everywhere about eternal youth, staying young looking, even to “age well” by using anti aging lotions and potions! What’s so wrong with saying:

“Hey, I’m 40/50/60 and I’m aging. I know I’m aging well because I am alive and living and have the life experience to boot!!”

Keep your mouth shut, don’t create a scene, don’t age, stay young and look young but don’t look like mutton! Oh Pu-lease!!

Autumn is so glorious from all its facets, can we please embrace and give reverence to women in their own Autumn too? This is truly a spectacular age that is not to be feared or disregarded, but celebrated for the wise, wild, unabashed, unashamed, knowledgeable and powerful woman that has come into herself. As  nature naturally slows down and the trees shed their leaves, the cycle continues: Birth, blossom, fruit, seed, rebirth.

Can you imagine how incredible it would be if you were part of a women’s sacred circle which honoured the phases of our life cycle and allowed each of us to be held heard and honoured in our respective phases? How different might the world be if Wild Autumn Women took their place, sat in their power, and got on with living, without the prescribed should and expectations? As I have recommended in previous posts, if you don’t have a circle, find one or create one; they are invaluable in my experience. They are as abundant in support and love as Autumn fruits and give you the necessary hygge coziness you need to sustain you through the deepening darkness into winter.

Wild Woman, rise! Wild Women, together, we rise!