I’m Back!

Francesca M. Healy

Stick the kettle on, I’m back!

From where? The internet, or rather specifically, Social Media ~ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (yes I know Pinterest is technically a search engine rather than a social media platform, but shhh).

Why? I needed a break.

We all know that taking a Social Media holiday is good for us, especially if we use numerous platforms on a regular basis. But do we need to take a break from the screens or the content of our screens? Are we addicted to Facebook or just our phones?

I pondered this question as I was feeling frustrated and anxious and numb and bored and happy and joyful and tired all at the same time, every time I picked up my phone and began the habitual scrolling. My notifications have all been turned off since January, my phone is always on silent, it doesn’t even vibrate, yet still I had the compulsion to “check” it. I didn’t even have the apps installed, instead had to go through my browser to partake in the aforementioned “checking”. It had become mentally exhausting and somewhat toxic when dealing with some people and their rudeness. The time lost to that scrolling is just that; lost. For ever! What a complete waste of time and energy. And for what, really, at the end of the day?

It was time for an intervention. I would have said experiment, but in lieu of a hypothesis I’m going with intervention, a self imposed one. One month, no Social Media. Could I resist the temptation of a sneak peak? Would I last a whole month? What benefits were there to this? Was I completely shooting myself in the foot and be about to lose all my followers and customers? Would I feel completely out of the loop with friends and was I about to miss out on important stuff? What was I trying to prove and to whom? (nothing to no-one) How much time was I actually wasting and what could I do with it instead? What would I do at the end of the month? ( spoiler : no idea, hadn’t really thought that far ).

Starting at the New Moon in March, I went cold turkey. One full lunar cycle was my time frame, returning yesterday, at the following New Moon.

I did it! So, what did I learn? How do I feel? Was it worth it??? So many questions competing for answers inside my head.

I knew from having Social Media breaks in the past that I would be more productive in the use of my time, but what else would it teach me?

The 9 things I learned during my Social Media fast.

1.  I have to say I did not miss Facebook. I would go as far as to say that I could quite easily lose it and never log back in again, and this is without taking the Cambridge Analytica horror into account.  However, much of the organising and arranging of my 8 yo’s home ed meets, support and community takes place on Facebook, so coming away altogether is not practical. I certainly did not miss the “debates” and generally arsery of some of the people I am “friends” with. On the flip side, I missed a couple of pregnancy announcements were lovely to read (once I saw them after scrolling through a whole lot of tosh that littered my feed) and a few updates that I definitely want to know about. So, decision made. I have now unliked the vast majority of the pages I follow and left numerous groups that I constantly ignore in my scroll and never interact with and have unfollowed most of the people I am friends with (no offence). The latter one may seem a little harsh but I am making a conscious effort to use time better and not get lost in the virtual vortex that doesn’t really serve any purpose.  Which then leads to me tho think, as I am typing this, why unfollow and not unfriend? Because I don’t want to be mean. There you go!

I have a Facebook page for Wild Sister Rising as well as 2 groups (one private circle group and one public shop group) which took up a lot of my time. Moving back into these spaces I have decided that I will use the page to post only my own stuff and for the groups, I am as yet uncertain.

2. Nor Twitter, I had 2 accounts. One that I had since 2012 and one I started when I started this blog. I deleted the old account and kept the WSR account. Having read through my feed and clicked into specific accounts of some people I follow, I found out a cyber friend had had a bereavement and I felt awful, but the rest of Twitter was still the ranty, anxiety inducing echo chamber it always was. I’ll keep it until after the Eurovision Song Contest and then reassess its need to me (and probably delete). I have to stay until 12th May as 4 of us watch Eurovison in our respective homes across the country, and discuss it on twitter over drinks, cheesecake and other various nibbles – it’s hilarious and in the the style of the late Terry Wogan, our commentary usually gets more caustic and witty as the booze cabinet is worked through.

3. I did initially miss instagram as I enjoy the app. But, since I stopped using it, I haven’t taken a single insta-worthy photo. In fact I don’t think I have taken any photos other than one of (A) on his birthday! Everywhere we have been, everything we have done has been completely enjoyed and experienced as it was, in the moment and was fully present rather than thinking about taking a picture to share.  And I am totally ok with that. I clicked into a couple of friends’ accounts and went through their pictures, to get back up to date (Hi Eilidh! She has the best hashtags in the instaverse) but have yet to post anything myself yet as have not had any inclination to take a picture or video. I think there will be a distinct reduction in the number of posts I share here from now on.

4. Pinterest failed me – or rather I failed in staying away… I nipped back on to send my tattoo board to the artist who is preparing/drawing up my new tattoo (a wee birthday present to myself). I only went on to send her my board, but then started looking for more ideas and inspiration and fell down the rabbit hole. It was a productive use of my time, even if I did stray off course and start searching for other things too… To be honest Pinterest is my favourite of the 4 so I don’t feel in the least bit bad about falling off the wagon.

5. I was free to use my time for things that actually served me and made my life richer. A couple of the activities that replaced my phone addiction were reading and yoga. I finished several books, including one which I heartily recommend, Burning Woman by Lucy H Pearce. In the absence of a kundalini yoga class in my area, found a great teacher on YouTube and have begun a daily practice. I’m now working through a 40 day Sadhana and loving it, even though I am ridiculously stecky!

6. The source of my headaches has been found! I have been suffering awful and regular headaches. My shoulders were stiff, my neck was stiff and my jaw was becoming increasingly tight. I knew myself when I was mindlessly scrolling through my phone and read something that angered me or pissed me off, or low and behold, if someone should interrupt me during this very important task, I could feel the instant tension and the audible inhale alerted me that I was in pretty bad shape. Off to get it sorted. I didn’t need a relaxing aromatherapy back massage I need deep tissue manipulation and so made an appointment with a sports therapy centre. After 2 sessions,  a lot of discomfort, and a thorough workout on my poor muscles (including having my jaw muscles worked on from inside my mouth – unusual but with phenomenal results) my headaches are gone and I have movement in my neck and shoulders where the tension previously held them captive. The woman who worked on me was shocked at how “solid” my back muscles were – oops! A month of not having my head tilted at a downward angle and not filling my head with the angst and rants of the interwebs has helped enormously. Plus I am not as easy to piss off or annoy, there is a notable reduction in my anxiety and irritability.

7. Proper conversations.  Having not being involved in or aware of news and conversations happening online, when I met with friends I was finding out information for the first time and face to face. I was back to having conversations. And not ones that start with “Did you see … on Facebook?” This pleases me immensely.

8. Opportunity to review Values, Desires and Needs.  I crave simplicity, connection and solitude/space. Writing is important to me as is continually learning about and exploring my passions, deep connections with friends – in person, trying new things, such as ecstatic dance and kundalini yoga, spending time alone to recharge and get clarity has been vital.

9. FOMO isn’t real. The world still spins, politics continue, events happen, we show up or we don’t. If I want to know something I can deliberately go and find out about it, ask someone about it. If I see a headline on the front page of the newspaper I am perfectly able to go and research the truth of it myself rather than take the paper at face value – I don’t need to know everything that is happening at every second of the day.

If you are someone who can take or leave your phone or Social Media, then this post probably doesn’t resonate, but I am not one of those people.  I am now making deliberate choices, becoming far more discerning about how, when and why I am opening one of these apps to engage in whatever is presented from the blue glare.  Social Media is not going anywhere and we live in a digital world where technology is king, but that doesn’t mean that it has to take over our lives, or dictate what we see, read, are exposed to, based on algorythms.

In answer to my question “Was it worth it?”, I have to conclude that YES, my month long abstention was absolutely worth it.

I’d love to know how other people live with and manage their phone addictions and constant Social Media bombardment – do you ever feel the need to take a break but scared to? Or are you one of those folk who doesn’t have any issues and can pop onto facebook purely in the interest of friendship? Please feel free to leave a comment to share your experience.

Lx

Maiden

Maiden

Maiden. What does that word mean to you?  What image immediately springs to mind? All it means is an unmarried girl or young woman, and sometimes an older unmarried woman; spinster or maiden aunt.

It can, perhaps, seem like an old fashioned word.  The images I automatically think of are of fair maidens of Ye Olde England in the style of Maid Marian from the Robin Hood tales.

What I am referring to with the word “Maiden” is the first phase of a woman’s life when she transitions from girl to young woman. It begins with Menarche – her first bleed – and commences around 12 years old, give or take a year or 2 (I was 14 years old at the time of my Menarche, although that was not what I called it or EVER even heard it referred to as such until only a few years ago). This is the start of her journey through the cycles; not only monthly but through the rest of her life, moving through the seasons of each from Maiden to Mother to Wise Wild Woman to Crone (Elder) to return to the earth.

The Maiden phase is when she is most valued and least prepared. 

Why am I writing about Maidens you may be wondering. I am writing about Maidens, because in today’s world, in Patriarchal society, this is the phase of a woman’s life where she is most valued and least prepared. We need to redress this balance.

How do we do this? By acknowledging the importance of Menarche, what being a Maiden means to the individual young woman AND her Mother (or primary female care giver), what we can learn from her and what we can teach and tools/skills we can can equip her with as she walks her path to fully realising the wonderful woman she is,  celebrating this rite of passage and honouring the blood rite. And we do all this collectively in the village, the community, the Circle, the Red Tent.

Take a minute to think back to when you had your first period. Were you prepared beyond the basic biological chat from your Mum or School Nurse? How did you feel – embarrassed, ashamed, confused, ill, empowered, proud, “like a grown up”? Looking back, is there anything you would wish had gone differently? Hold on to that thought for a bit longer – we’re going to come back to it later.

Lets now look a bit deeper at this “Maiden”. As girls we transition in to the Maiden phase of life from around the age of 12, give or take, and it lasts until around age 29, when we then transition into the Mother phase. Regardless of whether we have birthed or will go on to have children is irrelevant, as women we all cycle through the each of the phases, experiencing the shifts in energies and our purpose. Some women will have an overlap of the two phases when they birth their children in their teen years or twenties, but the archetype of the Maiden still stands strong – that doesn’t change. Why?  Because this is the season of Spring where everything is new and fresh, preparing the fertile landscape, the waxing crescent moon phase ( and in our monthly cycle, the Maiden/Spring phase is pre-ovulation). See how we are all connected ~ woman, nature, moon, our own inner cycles. All one.

As I mentioned, this is the phase of life when young women are most valued and least prepared. What I mean by that is that we live in a Patriarchal Society where a woman’s value and worth is determined, for the masses for the past few thousand years, from the dominant perspective; by men. Don’t believe me? Just look to see who is making decisions on women’s healthcare and rights in government, particularly in the US – it’s the menfolk!  But back to value and worth. The young Maiden is the prize, the trophy wife.  She makes older men feel youthful and powerful, and if desired, likely to easily produce an heir (or more). Socially, it is perfectly acceptable for an older man to have a much younger wife or partner, when the reverse is much less so.

This is a time of contradictions of epic proportions

This Springtime energy the Maiden is exerting is what makes her attractive and magnetic. She is beautiful, youthful, energetic, confident and ambitious. This is a time for immense growth, but also for facing the shadow side to all this exuberance; naivity and the desire to be independent and free without consideration of consequences. In efforts to make it on our own, this is the time when mistakes are made (some small, some not) and lessons are learned (some the hard way), generally without the framework of strong support in the right places.  This is the time of contradiction of epic proportions, contradictions that can be as confusing as fuck, without the that support.

What is this support I am referring to? The support of women, trusted women who can share the knowledge and wisdom of the blood mysteries, the strength and power that comes from knowing and understanding our cycles, how to care for our (physical and mental) health  properly, are a trusted support network of mothers, grandmothers, older sisters, friends and aunties that will guide and be there without judgement to catch us when we fall. This is what is missing today. The Red Tent/Moon lodges of yesteryear were destroyed and outlawed. The passing on of female wisdom and the teachings of the shared community is long gone, but thankfully not lost. The remembering, awakening and reclaiming of the old ways is happening. And it is being driven by the very real desire and craving for the connection to each other and the support we need.  21st century living is not connected, we are all separated in insular living units, judging one another and hiding our truths. Bugger that! It’s destructive and unhealthy. We are striving rather than thriving, the decline of mental health highlights this. We live in our heads and online.

It’s no wonder the Maiden years are so conflicting. The messages sent out to all are that girls are princesses to be saved – firstly Daddy’s Princess then growing up to be a “good girl”. Any boy/young man who dares show interest in wanting to date a girl has seen the slew of memes around having to face Daddy and his shotgun, the Daddy who wants to look his little girl up until she’s 35. Obviously these are attempts at humour but the subliminal message is chastity and remaining pure are the most important aspects of respectability. Good girls don’t, sluts/whores/slags/tramps/easy girls do, but if you don’t you’re frigid. Don’t love yourself,  you stuck up bitch. Flirty and enjoying self or promiscuous and deserve to be scorned. Ambition synonymous with hard faced, woman hating bitch sleeping her way to the top. Having children in teen years, what a stupid slapper, not having kids in teens/20 is leaving it a bit late, tick tock. Fat shaming, the epitome of beauty is skinny with jutting collar bones, a thigh gap, big boobs and a pout that looks like a swollen vulva. Is it any wonder the Maiden years are a bloody minefield with all this toxicity?

It is time to bring back the Sacred Circles and initiate our daughters into the fold

It is time to bring back the Sacred Circles and initiate our daughters and nieces and friend’s daughters into the fold, into their power, in the safety of those who love and trust. Lessons learned in the village include self respect and trusting their own intuition as to what feels right or doesn’t in any given situation (#metoo anyone?), discovering the workings of life without any fear of shame or embarrassment. Learning not just the biological function of the menstrual cycle but how to live with it and how to best understand what each of the phases of each month mean – again intuition to listening to the their body. This may sound a bit woowoo, but remember your own teen years or your 20’s. Personally, my maiden years were pretty mental – I had bouts of depression, utter recklessness, carefree abandon, was super secretive, made friends and lost friends, was confused by what I thought were the “shoulds” versus my wants/needs, was incredibly insecure but very outgoing, desperate for independence and individuality,  made highly questionable choices, accrued horrendous debts, was incapable of living my natural feminine truth instead struggling and failing to be more masculine in my career (I’m not made that way and it made me ill trying, several times). I was a mess who hid it for the most part fairly well, I think.  The support network during that period was from different friends at different times, those friends who were also trying to figure out and negotiate their own messes at the same time. What we needed was guidance from a trusted source(s). If that person is not the mother, then a suitable mentor. One both the maiden and her mother trust. She is found within their circle as well as the support from the collective within that Circle. When I think back to all the #metoo situations I have experienced, I am angry and frustrated with myself as well as the situations but am convinced that those situations wouldn’t necessarily not have happened, but they would have been called out at the time and dealt with. Being in Circle,  gaining the wisdom and learning the teachings, allows for the self confidence to be able stand up in truth, the ability to determine personal boundaries and authority to honour them, meaning that we no longer tolerate or put up with shit and deal with it at that time, not years later.

The Circle community doesn’t just support the Maiden, but her mother too. Having the support to guide her daughter through these turbulent years, knowing that she is not doing it all alone, even when there is conflict of opinion as the daughter is differentiating her individuality, she is not alone. She also has the additional comfort in knowing that if she can’t assist her daughter for whatever reason, there is another woman/women there who can. This is not to drive wedges between the mother/daughter relationship but to strengthen the bond and give enough space to breath and grow.

Now, I ask you to remember the feeling from earlier, about what you would change from your own time of Menarche and through the Maiden years. Do you still feel the same, or have you changed your mind? Do you wish the Red Tent had been part of your life at that time, and remain so now? Would you be looking to share in Red Tent with your daughter if there was one available? If so, I encourage you to find one or start one.

So, to the Maiden phase of a woman’s journey, we experience her in our physical youth, we experience her energy in the pre-ovulation week of our menstrual cycle (if you are menstruating), and we can attune to her energy in the waxing crescent in the lunar cycle.  She is associated with Spring time and the Element of Air, the East as the dawn of the sun. Her colours are white and green. Her energy is joyful, dream filled and fresh as she learns to step into her personal power.

If you are interested in learning more about Menarche, Maidens and yourself, I am at the moment putting together a workshop which is coming soon…stay tuned for further info on that.

We are currently between the new moon and the full moon, completely in the Maiden phase, as we are in the season. Imbolc and Ostara (Spring Equinox) are both sabbats acknowledging the Maiden. I hope you are enjoying the shift in the air and feeling the coming of the light and bright.

Lx

New Moon in Aquarius

Wild Sister Rising (2)

Tonight the moon disappears from view completely in the sky. The Dark Moon phase. The Crone. The Dark Moon is the period where the moon is 100% invisible, moving into the New Moon phase only with that first tiny slither of crescent gently glowing through the inky depths of space. For the majority of people and all the printed or online calendars, the dark and new are one and the same phase. So, tonight, (21.04 GMT) the moon descends to her lowest ebb, hidden and hibernating in the winter of her cycle, greeting the death of the last cycle and awaiting the rebirth of the next.

Last Full Moon saw a Lunar Eclipse and this New Moon sees a Solar Eclipse which  concentrates the energy surrounding this new cycle. This is the perfect opportunity for letting go and making both changes and space, for new growth; a bit like pruning a tree.

The moon is moving through the sign of Aquarius currently, which is an air sign. This is a social sign and one of humanity. It is also the most detached of the zodiac. What does this mean? Well, use this energy to gather your friends and loved ones, get conversations rolling around topics such as politics and philosophy as this is ideal timing for sharing ideas and points of view rather than being right versus wrong. The times we are living in, since 2012, is the age of Aquarius – moving towards equality and harmony, having left behind blood-thirsty, war-loving masculine Mars, and the war on women. Use this Aquarian phase to walk your talk and be true to you; who you are and what you stand for. Be detached enough to let go of what is not serving you, make your changes and shake things up to the better.

This moon cycle is in the month of Ash, Nuin, and known as the Moon of Waters.  The waters refer to our feelings and specifically those around love.  Love of self, love for our partners, family and friends. That Valentine’s Day was yesterday, is a lovely segue into this period. Enjoy playful romance with your partner (this is definitely more a playful time rather than overly intimate one).

So go for it, feel the feels, enjoy the company of our loved ones, be open to discussions, make changes, release and let go and make your intentions to create the life you want.  The plans you make now, in the first new cycle since the season shifted towards Spring (Imbolc) will be realised in the months to come as they grow, fruit and come to harvest.

The best time to make New Moon plans and intentions is within the first 8 hours of the darkest point (from 21.04 GMT this evening) as the energy is strongest, decreasing as it gets further away towards the waxing crescent moon.

My own New Moon ritual involves meditation, setting intentions, tarot spreads and a mini vision board – what does yours look like?

Lx

Imbolc

Imbolc (1)

The Wheel of the Year turns once more and now we, in the Northern Hemisphere, are awakening to the first rustlings of Spring and the Sabbat of Imbolc.

As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens

Depending upon your point of view, Imbolc represents the start of Spring, the inbetween-ey time between Winter and Spring, or consider it be to very much a  Winter festival with Spring still a while off yet.

Regardless of how the Sabbat is considered, it remains one of the least celebrated of the 8 seasonal markers, to be honoured in the natural year. This is possibly due to people not understanding its significance or unsure of the associations with milk! So what on earth is Imbolc?

Imbolc, or Imbolg or Oimelc depending on your Celtic heritage, generally means “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk” – the ewe’s are lactating, we have milk once more and deep in the belly of mother nature, life is stirring and awakening. This is a festival of renewal and purification and as such, a far more appropriate time for making and sticking to new resolutions and goals. January is still very much a time of hibernation, darkness and heavy soul nourishing food not about diets and lack, but February with its longer and lightening evenings has a more spritely feel; a lighter feel both in the sky and in mood.

We are familiar with the solar festivals which quarter the year into the seasons : Spring / Autumn Equinoxes and Summer / Winter Solstices, but there are 4 cross quarter fire festivals which complete the 8 Sabbats on the Wheel Of The Year: Imbolc / Beltane / Lammas / Samhain. The solar markers are masculine energies while the fire festivals are very much feminine. Imbolc has an incredibly feminine feel to me. All that is happening on and around Imbolc is happening down here on and in the earth; Mother Nature, Gaia, Earth Mother.  It is also the first festival in the cycle where the Maiden aspect of the triple Goddess is honoured. She is also known as Brigid, Bride, Brig and is associated with poetry, healing, fertility, fire energy (and skills relating to fire home hearth  or forge), inspiration and muse.

Imbolc is absolutely a time for women; mothers & daughters, friends, female family members spending time together, perhaps learning a new skill or just enjoying being in one another’s company, outwith the daily chores of home.  Last night after the sun was down and the moon was high (made all the more magnificent by the fact she was a super blue full moon) I gathered with 3 other women for an evening of Ecstatic Dance, a new experience for me and one which I will definitely be repeating.

There are many ways to honour this sacred time, whether you celebrate it as I do from sunset on 31st January, or the 1/2 Feb or around the lunar Imbolc or just when you feel the season start to shift, the actual calendar date is not important, there is no dogma dictating set times for the cross quarters, just what feels right for you. Alternatively you may not consider Imbolc at all, and look upon Candlemass as a marker in your year, or may not have anything at all and the start of February is the start of a new month as per any other. But if you wish to celebrate Imbolc you may wish to stock up on the candles (symbolic of the returning light, plus it is a fire festival), gather your girlfriends or relatives for a meal or a sacred circle, go out into nature (even if that just means your garden) and observe it; what do you notice, smell, hear, feel? Begin the purification of your home and by that I mean Spring Clean!! But go gently, a little at a time, just like nature, not a full on KonMari over one weekend or scrub the place from top to bottom until it stinks of bleach, easy does it (and hold back on the bleach, not good for nature or for you). Cultivate your own rituals and practices that you can revisit each year and reflect on the previous one. I have a bag of snow in the freezer that I collected the other week when it was lying thick in the ground. I will place this in a bowl with a candle to gently melt, taking with it the last of winter as the heat and light of the sun returns. I also make my own butter at Imbolc and use the butter milk to make scones.  If you want to see my previous Imbolc celebrations, you can here.

I hope you have a wonderful Imbolc, Imbolg or Pinch Punch First of the Month.

White Rabbits White Rabbit White Rabbits.

Lissa

x

The Power Of Circle

Wild SisterRising

The power of Circle is in its structure; its completeness and wholeness. It is the vessel that holds all the juices of life that each person within that Circle brings. The joy, the tears, the laughter, the love, the truths, the challenges, all held and contained within the Circle. There is its power and strength.

Circle mantra is always What’s shared in Circle stays in Circle.

If you have already read my previous blog post about Circles or have attended Circles yourself you will already know what I am talking about. But if this is new to you, a Women’s Circle or Sacred Sister Circle (or any other name given to it) is a dedicated space for women to come together, to share in each other’s lives with their stories, truths, real feelings, to be heard and supported but not judged. Its a place to learn from one another, to grow, to know (yourself) and just take some time out for you, to reflect, be inspired and develop friendships.

Women gathering in circle is a tradition as old as time, but a tradition destroyed over the many years by the Patriarchy, who succeeded in their mission to turn women against each other in competition rather than supporting each other as previous generations had done, where daughters learned from their mothers, aunts, older friends and grandmothers. Wisdom was passed down though generations, about what it was to be a woman; menstruation, birth, raising children, being a wife as well as a sovereign being. Skills shared and learned. This was the village. Women were respected, the elder women revered. They had knowledge, abilities and each other;  they held the community together. There is an old Native American saying that states :

To destroy a village, destroy the moon lodge.

The moon lodge was the women’s sacred Circle, their menstrual lodge, where they gathered. Not a menstrual hut where the women were cast out of the community until their dirty bleed was over, as per what happens in some countries today, but honoured as a special and sacred time. Time to rest, eat well, and restore themselves for the following month ahead. During a women’s bleeding time, it was believed that she was closer to the Divine and therefore was powerful and wise.

Thankfully circles are enjoying a resurgence and are currently back in vogue, where I hope they will remain. There are so many different types of Circles popping up and taking place regularly, especially in the West. I have been to a general Women’s Circle where the women present spanned the generations of maiden / mother /crone and the discussion was rich because of it. A Mother’s Circle where it was incredibly healing to know that we as mothers, while we may have different styles of parenting, all share so many similar experiences and emotions. It was a real tonic for those mothering wobbles we rarely admit to with others. A Full Moon Circle where we were letting go of what no longer served us – it was incredibly cathartic and whilst we met with our shadow (hidden) selves it was such a joyful experience.

Other types of circles taking place are New Moon Circles, Mother~Daughter Circles, Sacred Sister Circles, Monthly Circles, Weekly Circles, Red Tent and Moon Lodge Circles, Covens even, plus a wheen more. You may think you have never been to a circle before, but have you ever been to a baby shower – sharing your own birth experience or parenting tips with the Mother-to-be? A hen night – sharing and celebrating stories of marriage with its ups and downs, passing on advice and lived experience? Sat around a campfire chatting and telling stories? A group meeting where generally discussion happens in the round? These too, are Circles of a sort. Granted, not a  gathering whose purpose is for going soul deep, but a deliberate coming together nonetheless.

fire

You might wonder whether you need to go to a circle or what the point of going would be when you have already found your “tribe”, so to speak. You already have close knit circle of friends who offer support, solidarity, advice, fun and friendship spanning years of shared experiences. Great, that’s wonderful and something that many people don’t actually have, or at least not on that level. But consider how else a regular Circle may enrich your life? There is a reason that Circles are having their moment now. There is a soul deep longing for the village, for cross generation wisdom and teachings and relearning, for connection with community and like minds, for confidence in rising up and reclaiming our place in society out from the shadows of the Patriacrchy,  and being authentic and true to who we are/want to be rather than who are supposed to be. For some people that is scary and they need the sisterhood.

Circles are the AntiBitch

I have been told that Circle’s cant work as women are too bitchy / catty / competitive / judgemental / name another label that keeps pitting women against women. THIS in itself is a reason FOR Circles. Circles are the AntiBitch.  They foster belonging, connection and nourishment (for the soul and the body – tea and chocolate anyone?).  Friendships founded in a shared bond, respect, understanding and being honest, raw, seen, heard and held. Not everyone has to like everyone else, as is the way in life, but there remains a connection, the belonging to and understanding the Circle and its members. The power of Circle.

If you feel excited to Circle with women, either your mates or looking for like minded women but not sure where to find them, either set up your own Circle or find one in your town or city, I guarantee there will be Circle’s happening in local community centres or more probably in people’s living rooms (where all the circles I have attended or hosted have taken place).

The power and strength of a regular Circle is so restorative and I’d say, vital, to our health and well being that I will be hosting more Circle’s this year. If you are not able to join in person, I also have the online circle on Facebook (its a closed group so keeping with the “What’s shared in Circle stays in Circle” ethos – click to join and I will approve your request) where you can join the conversations or start new ones.

Circle of Women

Blessings

Lx

With The End Comes A New Beginning

Wild Sister Rising (22)

Hogmanay 2017.

Out with the old, in with the new.

This year is coming to its close as we await, almost impatiently, the dawn of 2018. Well, not so much dawn, but midnight (close enough).  The ringing of the bells, heralding the New Year’s arrival. Celebrations across the globe as 2018 greets each time zone in turn, with its promise of better to come. Renewed hope to be, to achieve, to have, to do, better.

There’s that old adage that makes in annual presence known : New Year New Me! *cue the eye roll and audible groan*

Who has made their resolutions? A list of things that will make us thinner, fitter, healthier, richer and will never see the light of 5th January but are made to make us “better” than the person we are right now. Nah, me either. Don’t believe in them. At best they are half arsed attempts at bettering ourselves where we feel we are not enough. No thanks. While the ever so trite “New Year New Me” is all bollocks in  my opinion, I do set goals and intentions, make plans and dabble in some cosmic ordering. It’s totally different…it is!

Before we get all tied up in the revels and the countdown to midnight, I’d like to take a moment to ponder the year we are leaving behind.  It really has been a quite a defining year, globally and personally.

The world is a mess, this we know. 2017 confirmed it; Trump, politics, terrorism, white supremacy, natural disasters induced by climate change…need I go on?

BUT!!

2017 has been a phenomenal  year for a great many positive and wonderful things.  Standing up, being seen, having a voice and using it too has been a major thread running through 2017. People have had enough and coming together to stand up against injustice and inequality. The #MeToo campaign which showed Hollywood and the patriarchy at large that abuse, assault, rape and the overall degradation of women by both powerful men and your average Joe are no longer accepted as an open secret or (from the women’s perspective) shrouded in shame, nor are these men protected . Women EVERYWHERE have stood up and voiced their solidarity, sharing their own experiences. We don’t need to go into the details, the simple #MeToo was powerful enough to highlight the sheer scale of the problem that women face daily just going about their business.

Times, they are a changin’.

On a personal level, 2017 has generally been a good’un.  I’m fortunate and grateful. The move from Always Learning Forever Growing to Wild Sister Rising with the addition of my shop and hosting the Sacred Sister Circle was a real achievement of which I am very proud.  My word of the year was Purpose (see blog post from 1st January ’17), and I think it’s fair to say that I found my purpose this year. I have been reading, learning and absorbing so much information in an effort to understand, awaken, and embrace my new found purpose.  It, unbeknown to me but with hindsight I see the evolution, has been a work in progress and a journey that has spanned a decade but been more concentrated in the past two years. This journey is far from over as I will continue to evolve, develop and grow, and live on purpose! And that requires a certain amount of change. I can feel the change in the air; it is most definitely afoot. The seeds of which have already been sown and are growing strong. Change is good, change enables growth rather stagnation and opens the mind, challenges point of view and offers the opportunity of lived/learned experience. It’s life. In the style of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race, only that here, there is no race. Some changes are long term, the fruits of which may not even see 2018.

With that in mind,  Change is my word for 2018.  I played around with Truth, Focus, Clarity and Connect, but kept coming back to Change. Plus I’m turning 40 in 6 months time! That’s a a big change in itself; a whole new era to be explored and I for one am super excited.

Whatever this New Year holds for you, I hope it offers love, health, peace, happiness and magic. I say, when the bell tolls, raise a glass to 2018 and to your fucking fabulous and magnificent self. Let your light shine bright tonight and every night (resolutions are not required).

Aw the best when it comes.

Slainte

Lx

Daily Journal Prompts

Daily Journal Prompts with Wild Sister Rising

Do you keep a journal?

I have for years, since I was about 12 and received my first leather 5 year diary with a little clasp at the front. Some years I have been very detailed in my entries and others, well, to describe my written entries as “sparse” would be generous.

Journalling is a very therapeutic exercise for me personally, where I find it easier to offload onto paper than out loud to another person. Once my thoughts are out, I can let them go. Once they are on the page I can begin to work through them like a puzzle to solve or an idea to develop and grow. It is an incredibly freeing and private way to collect myself.

But sometimes a block can come up and the ideas dry up or something happens that causes a phase of second guessing myself or challenges a previous view. In these times I have found journal prompts (of which Pinterest, of course, has a gazillion of) to be helpful for jump starting my thoughts and getting me thinking and creating again.

I figure I cant be the only one (certainly judging by the volume of journal prompts available on line, to which I am now adding) that finds these prompts helpful. For the past moon cycle, I have posted a Daily Journal Prompt in my Facebook Group, Circle Of The Wild Sister Rising, where the women in the group have responded with their thoughts and have challenged themselves with the questions.

So her are those daily prompts that we have worked with last moon.  If you would like to try journalling or are in need of a wee push to get going again, maybe you will find something below that sparks that notion to pick up a pen and a notebook and reconnect with who you are, or maybe you would like to challenge yourself to take each prompt in turn for this full cycle (or start of the month – when ever feels right).

Enjoy

Lx

The Betwixt After Christmas

Wild Sister Rising (21)

And all through the house,

No-one was working

Except for my spouse.

 

And we are done!!! Christmas had been and gone. All the effort and planning and preparation and baking and making and shopping; sayonara. Adios. Cheerio. Mission accomplished. Only 307 days until I start planning the next one.

I am belly full and steeped in Baileys. The floors are covered in glitter from that bloody wrapping paper from Tesco that will probably still be there in 3 Christmases time. Call The Midwife Christmas episode has been watched and bawled over (this year’s was a particular doozy and had me in floods of tears) and today was the day I spent in my pj’s eating a random assortment of left overs, reading my new books and magazines, drinking tea and dreaming about taking all the decorations down.

Sadly my Husband missed this luxuriously slothful day as he works in retail and is back at work. His employers don’t do family time, just bottom line.

I don’t feel guilty for my day where I barely removed my arse from the couch (other than to replenish an empty tea cup) as this past month and a half have been a tad busy. According to the slew of memes and essays/articles, the prep for Christmas is essentially “women’s work”. The men folk wouldn’t have a clue how to put together a perfect and magical festive, apparently. Really? Nah, not buying it. For years, Hubby and I did Christmas pretty equally, apart from pressies and cards, he excels in the thoughtful gift department. It’s only in the past couple of years that it has fallen to me to “arrange” Christmas. All of it. But I’m not complaining, I LOVE it. It is easier for us to work it like this as Hubby’s shifts are anti-social and completely impractical for making good on much of the prep. However, once Boxing Day is here, I’m done. Over it until next year.

I wasn’t as organised this year as I usually am, but you know what? It all came together anyway. No stress, no pressure to make it “magical” or “perfect”. I tried one year to make it all magical and memorable for (A) when he was little, and it wasn’t magical, I was stressed to fuck as was he! And he hardly remembers it!!! Now we just do a couple of things we enjoy, keep it pretty low key, and focus on good food and spending time with those we want to. It becomes memorable when you do what you enjoy and if there’s no stress then its fun and therefore magical in itself without the manufactured fake nonsense and social media pressure. What more do we need?

Truth be told, I’d happily forgo Christmas and all its fuss and mania and just have Yule; the calm, relaxed, simple celebration a few days previous.  We celebrate both in our home – Yule for me and Christmas for the traditions of our families, which we have each grown up with and have brought to our wee family too.  I can just see the horror upon the face of my folks if I said we weren’t doing Crimbo. And on my husband’s and (A)’s too, come to think of it! Although neither of us or our families are religious, Christmas is a big deal!

But now, that’s all in the past. Having been glued to Christmas24 movie channel on Virgin Media since November, I can’t watch anymore of the Hallmark, made-for- TV Christmas movies. We are now in the betwixt. That limbo of not knowing what day it is, the lull between the indulgence of Christmas and the excitement of New Year.

Most people will return to work for the few days inbetween. These people probably don’t get to experience the full extent of the betwixt as I am guessing they will at least have a handle on what day it is. But if you are lucky enough not to be punching your card, enjoy this down time. Perfect, almost medicinal, for the introverted to have this time; to recharge, to chill out, to contemplate the year ending and plan the coming one, or if you’re like me – take down your decorations and tree! I like to bring the New Year in, into a clean house. I cherish the almost solitude that these few days provide. They are necessary.

We won’t be venturing far (other than to my sister’s a day), we will get outside though, to brace the cold cleansing winds, to clear the mind and banish the cabin fever that is starting to build. My 7yo will run and play and explore and have fun.  I just take in the stark beauty of winter and the delight of the kettle when we return home. The gentle pace of the week is welcome as I start to prepare both the house and myself  for 2018 (and ensure we get our steak pie in for New Year’s dinner).

Cordelia

The Goddess Oracle card I pulled this evening. Truth if ever there was.

I hope you have had a great festive period, however or if,  you celebrate, and enjoy the coming days before we bid farewell to 2017.

Lx

Spirituality: What does it mean?

Spirituality

Spirituality. What does it mean? Seriously! What does it mean to be ‘spiritual’?

What do you think it means? I’m not being sarcastic, but really asking, what do you genuinely think, when you hear the words Spiritual and Spirituality?

I think it means different things to different people.

Spirituality has become one of those terms used and, at times, over used and not always with clarity, but rather an air of mystique or pretension; there is an element of wankery attached to the word as it is banded about to express ones enlightened state of being (see what I mean about the wankery?).  But it also a sincere description of what some people experience or believe whether instead of or alongside their religion.

Is that any clearer? I’m not actually convinced that it is.

I had a friend tell me years ago that neither she nor her husband were religious people, but they were spiritual; I remember at the time thinking “what the fuck does that mean?” but not wanting to look ignorant, I just accepted the statement.

Only recently have I given the word any pause for thought. It hasn’t ever been  part of my consciousness when considering my path and beliefs, until I started hearing and seeing it used more and more on social media.

From a personal perspective, I do not consider myself ‘religious’ (I was christened as a baby into the Church Of Scotland, but at 8 weeks old, that choice was not mine to make. I have never felt any affinity with the church and haven’t attended a service other than for weddings or funerals since I left school). I don’t believe in God. I can accept that Jesus was a real man but that his miracles were more symbolic rather than literal. I don’t believe in heaven and hell other than that they were man-made constructs created to instil fear, compliance and obedience.  I do however believe that we are all part of something greater than just this existence on this one planet. There has to be life elsewhere, space is MAHOOSIVE!  We cannot possibly be the only creatures. I also believe in the Law of Attraction, energy, ghosts, reincarnation and that we are souls inhabiting a human body. Oh and I celebrate Christmas as it is a time with and for family.

Since high school I have identified as atheist, although at a guess I would say that that 2001 census has me down as CoS as I lived with my parents and they completed the form. However in the 2011 census I listed my religious beliefs as Pagan.

Pagan Wheel Of The Year

For 9 of the last 10 years, if I had to attach a religious label to myself, it would have been as Atheist Pagan. I follow the Wheel of the Year, the cycles of nature and the moon. I listen to my intuition and use divination tools and meditation for guidance.

I have had a life long love of witches and astrology, have visited various mediums (spooky wives) during my 20’s, but I never called myself, or considered myself to be spiritual.  

The past couple of years has seen my journey take a turn down the path of self development and exploration. This has lead me this year, to the Divine Feminine and Goddess / Priestess culture; Herstory if you will.  It’s fascinating and I can’t quench that thirst for more knowledge. Once I have read one book am ready to dive into the next and the next. The Goddesses or the Divine Feminine resonate with me, not as a woman up in the sky like the Big Man with the white beard, but as an energy that lives within each of us. She is always present, we just need to find her.  The use of Goddess Archetypes is helpful in doing this, to assist channelling the energy required.

This may read like utter bullshit and that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone will be on board with this line of thinking or belief. Each path or journey is as unique as the individual travelling it.

So, in answer to my question : Spirituality, what does it mean? I think it means whatever you understand it to be, in relation to your personal belief set.

Is it just semantics? Am I a spiritual person? Are you? Does it even matter? Probably not in all honesty, it’s just another label, but surely it’s down to personal opinion and what feels right?

I would love to know your thoughts on the subject if this is something you have an opinion on.

Lx

November Feels

 

Ahh, November. Welcome ye in.

It’s a funny old month, a betwixt of sorts. Caught between the gorgeous autumnalness (it’s a word!) of October and the glittery crazy of December.

Depending which calendar * you follow, we are only at the half way point in the season. The cold, arse-end of Autumn is only just starting and has not yet bit, despite the many proclamations of “Winter’s here” as soon as the mercury fell into single digits after sundown.

Samhain has come and gone, bringing with it the New Year of the old Celtic/Pagan Wheel of the Year and the reign of the Cailleach; the Queen of Winter.leaves

This half of the season is all about bedding down and coorying in. The trees have almost completely shed their leaves, and in following nature’s cycle, November is about turning inwards and settling in, getting our Hygge on. This month is hygge embodied. It’s the full embrace of Autumn and the knowing that winter is coming and we take to lighting the fire, if we are so lucky as to have one…radiators aren’t quite the same…I dream of the day I have a fire and hearth again…any way I digress…home and hearth is where it’s at. And candles! Lots and lots of candles.

For the majority of the month we are also in the Celtic Tree month of Reed (Ngetal). The importance of Reed was in its uses be that as fuel  for the fire or as used in materials for the home – rush mats on the floor or thatching for the roof or as musical instruments. It creates a very haunting sound as a wind instrument – very spooky at this time.

The chill in the air increases as the darkness deepens and the days shorten.  A perfect time to let go of what does not serve you any longer, and a time of awakening to what does, as well as taking this time for introspection and finding order. This month focus on loving your home and those you welcome in here.

coffee

November is full of feminine energy, which tied in beautifully with the first Circle Of The Wild Sister Rising sacred women’s circle I hosted on the 1st November. Our theme was healing the sisterhood wound which was perfectly timed for November as Topaz is the jewel/ birth stone of the month whose corresponding meaning is the stone of true friendship .  How timely.  I love synchronicity.

The Goddesses symbolic of this time are :
Hestia – Greek Goddess, ruler of hearth and home who sacrificed her place as an Olympian to guard the fire and maintain a happy home.
Vesta – Roman equivalent to Hestia
Cailleach – the Celtic Old Hag or Crone, essentially the Winter Goddess who comes out to play and preside over Winter until she dies at Imbolc when the maiden aspect of the triple goddess takes over.

fire

So, as I mentioned at the top of the post, November is a betwixt month, but that doesn’t mean it’s bland or boring.  Once both Samhain and our wedding anniversary (2nd Nov) have passed, it’s fair game round ours for Yule & Christmas preparations; getting the lists made and starting the  planning of the next 6 or 7 weeks.  My Christmas Cake is baked and sitting all wrapped in the cupboard awaiting its next brandy injection before it gets its marzipan and icing coat.

But there’s no hurry, plenty of time to get organised – although not according to the check out operator in Morrison’s yesterday :

C/out op : That you all organised for Christmas then?

Me : NO!

C/out op : Ah, you like me and leaving it all to the last minute?

Me : It’s November!

And with that in mind, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the month, winding down, embrace the chilled air (especially if there is also a fire), and coory in before the festive season kicks in and covers everything in glitter.  How about you?

 

Lx

*CALENDAR (2)