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If you could turn back time, would you?

Wild Sister Rising (2)

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

Wild Sister Rising (1)

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

Francesca M. Healy (2)

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!

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Mother

Francesca M. Healy (1)

Mother; we all have one. We were all birthed from our Mother’s womb, whether or not we know her.

Mother; we* will all be one. Whether or not we have have children.

The Mother archetype is the second phase in a woman’s life, following on from the Maiden phase.  Typically, the Mother years span our 30’s, our caring, protecting, nurturing decade when we are in full bloom, where as the Maiden covers years 12 (approx) to 29. This phase is archetypal and embodies the mindset, maturity, emotions and feelings of the “Mother”. Of course, there will be an overlap between the phases for many women as some will be Mothers at 16 years old or not until 45 years old, and some either through choice or otherwise, never become a Mum.

You are the Mother.

The Mother phase may not seem applicable to some as they have chosen not to, or are unable to have children, but that does not rule out the Mother in all of us. She is the Creatrix of life; be that children, career, project, self, garden, however you choose and what ever you create in this life. You are the Mother.

Who is She?

She is a whole host of labels including : Stay At Home mum, Working mum, Pushy mum, Step mum,Tiger mum, Elephant mum, Helicopter mum, Over protective mum, Negligent mum,  Judgmental mum, Holier-than-thou mum, Yummy Mum(my), Slobby mum, Competitive Mum, PTA mum, Earth Mum, Hippie Mum, Teen mum, Old mum, Geriatric (in the UK, pregnant women over the age of 36 are referred to as geriatric…charming) mum, Adopted mum, Child-less woman, IVF mum, Single mum, Busy mum, Absent mum… I’m sure there are 100 more labels that I have missed that could be added. But is that really who she is? I think not.

This phase of our lives is possibly the most judged; we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t! Your choices here are up for discussion and scrutiny whether you like it and know it or not. But why is this the case? Society and of course, Patriarchy.

The role of mother is valued and equally not valued. Our fertile years carry an expectation that we will reproduce whilst at the same time judge us for staying at home to raise our own children or pass comment that we have returned to the workplace instead of being at home.  To stay at home is a luxury as it is seen as not be participating in or contributing to economic growth of the society, yet to work is seen as a fault as we expect the state or strangers to raise our kids whilst we are at work. Its a no win situation. And that is without the gender pay gap the maternity leave wrongfully exacerbates via unscrupulous and manipulative employers. You will of course be no stranger to the fact that this is specific purely to Mothers; Fathers are not subjected to such restrictions, judgments or expectations.

Should you be childfree/childless during these ‘fertile’ years, you are not free from probing questions and judgement either – regardless of how inappropriate or hurtful the interrogation. “My body, my choice, my business – fuck off and mind your own”  is not, however, regarded as a suitable answer by these judgey types. The flow of the caustic opine is purely one way.

Whilst the Mother is pregnant, in current society, she is revered, fawned over and strangers have a desire to touch your ever growing belly, sans permission. A pregnant woman is celebrated. That is until the baby is born, then the focus shifts. This is the time when Mothers are at their most vital, most important, most in need, yet this is the time when your role begins its demise in patriarchal society. You are invisible, unless you are being judged.  Mother is on the pedestal and every expectation not met is a failing to be scorned.

And I am no stranger to judgement; being judged and judging others. It’s not pretty from either side but it’s there and it runs deep. We judge others from our own insecurities and hurt beyond belief when on the receiving end which further fuels the judgement cycle. Or maybe that’s just me.

grieve the loss of our maiden years

Moving from the Maiden to the Mother is not necessarily an easy transition. We are older, with different priorities to our maiden years, many of us have way more responsibilities too. Raising children, caring for parents or other relatives, supporting friends and sisters with their children, birthing and working in careers, starting and building own businesses and countless other responsibilities that tend to fall on us at this time.  With that extra load, it is absolutely necessary to grieve the loss of our maiden years and its freedoms. We wear our tiredness as a badge of honour and medicate with wine or gin. Societal conditioning plays its part here too with the expectation of us to be selfless in the quest to achieve and do it all. There is also the male gaze to contend with, which is kept sustained by the media. It is a damn site harder to maintain the Maiden physique in the Mother years. Our bodies don’t just snap back into their Maiden mould postpartum, because they aren’t supposed to! They are fuller and rounder, plump and juicy like ripe fruit; no longer just a bud. Just like nature. We are a part of nature rather than apart from nature.

Let’s look positively at this phase in our life. There is so much wisdom, joy, celebration and beauty we can get out of these years should we let ourselves open up to receive.

This is the full moon stage of the lunar cycle – full belly, luminous, beautiful and glorious. Fully in protection mode, healing and receiving. Radiant with health and well being, she is captivating. She is a wonder. Magic.

mothermoon

Looking at the menstrual cycle, the Mother phase is ovulation, our inner summer. This is our most fertile time, when we have the most energy and are feeling super charged, super sexy, confident and magnetic. (Ironically, in my Mother phase years, I felt super knackered, super frumpy, insecure, full of doubt and lonely as fuck – more so in the first few years rather than the latter as I had then made friends with an amazing group of beautiful, loving and supportive women!). We are living with the lessons we learned during our Maiden’s journey. We are wiser, older, more aware of who we are and what our values and priorities are.

How can we ensure that the Mother years are the positive experience they ought to be? How to cultivate that supportive and nurturing environment? You just know what I’m going to say… Circle!

THIS is one of those times in life when your circle is your life line. Whether a circle of women you gather with regularly in sacred space, or a specific Mother’s circle, the support is there waiting to hold you when you need it. You can be honest and let out the shadow side without judgement and are encouraged to share ALL aspects of this Mother energy – the good, the bad, the struggles and the victories. The fellow women in circle will have been there or going through it similarly. You also have the opportunity to pay this back when the time comes for other women to need the support. It is connection to peers interwoven between generations and differing experiences. There are are many things we would love to say or admit but can’t coz judgment. And judgement surrounding Mothering or the choice not to become a “Mother” is one of the worst and most deeply felt. Personally, had I had the circle in place back when I entered the Mother phase, my own journey would have been dramatically different. I know that to be a fact.

What was my experience was that this phase was my loneliest in my life.  I went from being confident and self assured at 31, to birthing my son and experiencing a 180 degree flip in my personality. When I needed support the most, when at the most vulnerable and lost, self conscious and lacking in self confidence and ability to be the Mother I wanted to be, I was without the support I needed. The friends I had had were gone, and I didn’t initially have the confidence to make more, for a good few of years.  I had my Mum and Mother in Law, both of whom were supportive in their own way, but these 2 women did not a circle make. But once I started believing in myself again and my capabilities, forcing myself out to meet new people – and finding the right ones – my life changed. My group of friends in my circle are treasured and invaluable, not just to me but to one another – our support is collective and given amongst  each other as needed.

Just think what the Mother years would look like if circles where caring, sharing and supporting each other were the norm rather than the judgement and criticism faced in isolation.

The village raises the child.  The circle honours the woman.

(Lissa  ~ Wild Sister Rising)

*The we here refers to CIS women, as this is my frame of reference and understanding.

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40

 

40 (2)

I’ve taken my 40th jaunt around the sun.

My 30s are now behind me with my 20s now a memory.

I’ve hit “mid life”.

I’ve never looked forwards to a birthday more!

And it didn’t disappoint!!

Yes, it is just another number but to me it’s more than that. It feels like a complete new start; the dawn of the next phase in this life cycle. The Wild Woman phase, the Enchantress, the Medicine Woman, the Mage. Call it what you will, but our 40’s represent the journey into the Autumn years of life, the peri-menopausal years transitioning from our fertile mothering  years into that second puberty where we connect truly with who we are as women, owning our own person.  Of course not every woman takes until she’s 40 to reach this place of knowing herself, but I have, and have been on this journey for a long time.

In honour of such a milestone birthday I gathered my sisters in sacred circle and celebrated a beautiful and emotional time.  Nine of us sat in my livingroom and shared in stories, meditation, crafting, poetry, song, food and ritual. I felt incredibly blessed as my friend led the ceremony of leaving my thirties, with it’s lessons, regrets, achievements and acknowledgements, moving forward to face and embrace any fears of growing older (I have none, I LOVE this aging process and with the wisdom it brings as well as the grey hairs aka wisdom highlights!) and set intentions for this coming stage of my life. My women in my clan of choice also set intentions and wishes for me, which of course were burnt to release said intentions in the central cauldron.  My good old broom was put to good use in symbolically clearing away the old to make space for the new and with a twist on the the matrimonial jumping of the broom, I jumped my broom to cross over into this new phase and exciting times ahead.  Not a typical 40th birthday celebration, but a deeply felt one.

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As well as Circling, the other 40th biggie, was a gift to myself  (also from my 8yo as he wanted to gift it to me). I have wanted a new tattoo for a while and had a rough idea of what I wanted and the symbolism it needed to contain, but an inability to put it all together. I contacted the only artist I knew who would be able to create exactly what I wanted and as expected, it is stunning.

So I got my Goddess Butterfly with the moon and pearls and lace detail that I needed. I don’t think it is possible to love this tattoo more! The detail and artistry is exquisite – and no, it didn’t hurt. Having Fleetwood Mac playing in the background (love Fleetwood Mac) was an added bonus. Thank you Aphra x

Of course, no birthday is complete without cake….

cake

especially CHEESE CAKE!!!! My Mum pulled a blinder on the cake front this year. I had the chocolate & raspberry slice but when went back later, discovered Scottish Tablet flavour….Oh My Goddess, I have never tasted cheesecake so good!!!!

So far, this being 40 malarkay is proving to ace the 30’s – long may that continue.

Lissa

xx

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Wild Sisters Rising : Aphra Wilson

Welcome to the latest in the series of Wild Sisters Rising!

The village raises the child.  The circle honours the woman.

(Lissa Orr ~ Wild Sister Rising)

I am delighted to introduce Aphra Wilson ~ Mother, artist, home educator, tree-hugger and bare-foot enthusiast.

aphra

Which phase of life are you in?
I’m firmly in the Mother phase, my kids are 16, 14 and 10. It’s a wonderful time in my life, I am watching each one glowing with potential as they find their own special interests and passions through home education.

 
With the benefit of hindsight and learned wisdom, what do you wish you’d known at the start of your cycling journey?
Anything! Anything more than the basic biology and shame laden hygiene tips found in the wee booklet my mum gave me. I’d have liked to know the link to the moon at a younger age, the years I spent in the depths of confusion, frustration and occasional unexplained elation could have had some reason; I could have trusted my intuition!

 
What do you do for self care?
I go through phases, sometimes honouring myself with yoga, running, meditation, reading and art. Other times I don’t seem able, or willing, to devote more than sitting to finish a cup of tea. I’m in the latter phase just now, but taking the time to write this feels like the reminder I need to get back on track.

 
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what does that look like?
This is what I need to work on. All too frequently it’s coffee and Facebook, I want to get up early and write, and run… but ya know.

 
Which season in the year is your favourite and why?
It’s now, the transition from spring to summer; heavy blossoms, lush tufts of dewy grass, spiralling tendrils of climbing plants; everything so full of promise that you forget the dreich reality that’s just been and will come again.

 
What are you reading just now?
I’ve always got a few books on the go, I’m just finishing Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Grey, (I love the language but he’s a misogynistic prick) I’ve got Reheated Cabbage by Irvine Welsh on my lap just now (absolutely disgusting, but comfortingly familiar) I’ve got a crappy crime thing called Two Nights (with too many plot holes and flat characters but I have to see it through now) and Mary Beards Women in Power (turns out the earliest literature of emerging western society features a woman being told to pipe down).

 
Which book has been most influential on your path?                                                                         I think Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman pulled together the pieces that were floating around in my head and gave them context and gave me permission to feel them. Then, Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted, that’s been huge for me. The Wellspring Women’s Project that I’m a part of has drawn some inspiration from this book, the ancient tales of our land and the deep feminine connection to nature.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
I find it hard to think of specifics, but there are 3 women, Irene my driving instructor, Linda my Reiki teacher and Dhyanna my Shamanic mentor, who’s advice and influence has stayed with me and I’m full of gratitude for their impact.

 
How do you like to relax and unwind?
Although I spend all my working time essentially drawing, I still pick up a pencil and sketch book to relax. Ideally, I love forgetting everything else while spending time in the forest, walking along hedgerows or on beaches collecting stones, flowers, bones and feathers.

 
If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be your 3 must have items?
I’ve written and deleted a lot on this one, but I’ll settle for teabags, a really long book and tweezers (if there’s to be any chance of a rescue).

 
Do you have a mantra or affirmation that you live by?                                                               Nothing beautiful or eloquent, just a simple “fuck it, just do it”.

 
Describe your perfect day
An early start, some exercise, time to write, a walk somewhere green with my husband and kids, cooking something nice for dinner (which everyone will eat and enjoy since it’s my imaginary perfect day) some gardening, reading and drawing, and then… well, it’s got to be a full moon so… 😉 x

 
What does wild sister rising mean to you?
When I began following the page I was intrigued by the synchronicities of my personal path and the posts I was reading. I realised it’s happening all over, the feminine awaking, the spiritual rediscovery, the ignition of goddess energy is everywhere! Wild Sister Rising is a place to connect with likeminded souls and share the journey, it’s a great time to be a woman!


You can follow Aphra and her work with Wellspring Women’s Project at wellspringwomen.co.uk and her work with  Spaghetti Tattoos on Facebook here and here. Also on Instagram @spaghettitattoos

More about Aphra:

Mother, artist, home educator, tree-hugger and bare-foot enthusiast.  Creating a nurturing, real-life, community for ourselves and our daughters.

​I‘ve been studying my whole life, searching for something in literature, religions, art history, archaeology, vibrational healing, horticulture and politics, and it’s finally converged here. At the crossroads of academia and experience. Where story meets adventure, and our narratives are rooted in the land.

 

 

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Wild Sisters Rising : Marie Gallagher

Welcome to the second  in the series of Wild Sisters Rising!

 

The village raises the child.  The circle honours the woman.

(Lissa Orr ~ Wild Sister Rising)

 

It is a pleasure to introduce  Marie Gallagher ~ Writer, Musician and Mum.

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Which phase of life are you in?

In terms of the maidenhood, motherhood and sage model then I am definitely in motherhood simply because I have a pre-school age child! But your blog Wild Sister Rising has encouraged me to read up on pagan approaches to women’s growth and I really like that motherhood does not just represent having children. It is about harnessing your creativity, working hard, seeing it manifest and gaining fulfillment from it. I have been on a bit of a creative journey over the past few years which has actually culminated in my decision to go back to college and study music, which I didn’t have the courage to do when I was younger. So I suppose I am moving back towards the energy, potential and more spontaneity of the ‘Maiden’ phase!

With the benefit of hindsight and learned wisdom, what do you wish you had known at the start of your cycling journey?

When I was younger there were so many patriarchal and misogynistic aspects of life I just accepted.  I subconsciously believed that I had to strive to conform to society’s male-driven standards in terms of women’s appearance and behaviour.  Now I realise that I am not here for anyone else’s gratification but to do what I genuinely feel is right and healthy for myself and the others around me.

In terms of women’s physical cycles, I am really into being more open about it now.  Society treats periods exactly like we treat childbirth – women have to ‘get on with it’, look presentable and be discreet.  That is why it is so hard for women to talk about physical and mental illnesses related to their menstrual cycle or pregnancy/birth.  There are still so many stereotypical social ideas about and representations of women in the media as emotional/irrational/dependant/weak, yet we are under pressure to be strong when it would be inconvenient for society/men for us to stop.  It is a huge cliche but I think we have to listen to our bodies.  I stop a lot more now when I know my mind and body just need a break, whether that is menstrual or otherwise.  Whenever I do the opposite of what my body tells me I end up feeling worn out, resentful or even ill.

What do you do for self care?

During CBT therapy a few years ago I realised how much a routine helps me to manage my mental health, so self care is about self discipline for me. I’m not completely rigid but I like having set days and times of the week for particular activities, making sure I get up and go to bed at a certain time, etc. I also find tidying, organising and being on top of my to-do list are effective self-care activities for me, as well as sticking to commitments and deadlines. That makes me sound really boring, which is probably true to a certain extent!

Do you have a morning routine? If so, what does that look like?

My wee boy has usually found his way into our bed by the time I am waking up so I write in my journal (ok, scroll through my phone!) for half an hour while he looks at his books (ok, watches Youtube on his Kindle). In all honesty I am an awful excuse for human being first thing in the morning. I drink really strong coffee until I feel alive (I would take it intravenously if I could). One of my aims is to get better at mornings!

Which season in the year is your favourite and why?

Definitely summer. I don’t even care if the weather isn’t that great – I enjoy the lighter evenings and even a slight bit of heat. There is just more sense of possibility and I have more energy. There are also no commercialised festivals during summer (although I suppose you could say that summer itself is completely commercialised as a season!). I find winter pretty miserable despite all the cosy Hygge stuff and I don’t like Halloween, fireworks or Christmas! I hate enforced fun and trailing round the shops in cold and rain buying a load of crap that people don’t even need. Maybe I should change my approach to winter and Christmas and find new ways to experience it and manage it! I would really like to embrace more seasonal rituals like those I have read about in WSR blog, especially the ones relating to making fires!

What are you reading just now?

Coal Black Mornings’ by Brett Anderson. I am such a big Suede fan and the copy I picked up in Waterstones was a signed one which I am very happy about!

Which book has been most influential on your path?

‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’ by Elizabeth Gilbert is really inspiring. She has a podcast of the same name which is also brilliant.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have received?

I attended a workshop run by the author Kaite Welsh a few months ago who said someone once told her ‘You can’t hate yourself into a version of yourself that you like’. I think it is great advice that I wish someone had given to me when I was in my early 20s!

How do you like to relax and unwind?

Having a chat and a laugh with family and friends, singing, writing, reading. Also listening to 90s pop music really loud and getting all nostalgic – I always stick on Absolute Radio 90s when I am feeling a bit gloomy!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be your 3 must have items?

A radio

My guitar

A big pair of socks because, even if it is 90 degrees, I still have cold feet.

Do you have a mantra or affirmation that you live by?

I had a revelation a few years ago – that the word selfless is really horrible because it is basically saying that to be a good person and help others you need to be ‘less of self’, that you need to put yourself away in a box somewhere. Actually, I think if you are going to interact with people on a deep level you need to be ‘more of self’. Being authentic is much more important than trying to make yourself disappear for the approval of others – trying not to be yourself isn’t helpful to anyone.

Describe your perfect day

I find it hard to think about questions like this. I struggle if someone asks what was the best day of my life too – I always feel like you should roll out the stock answers! There are lots of people I love spending time with and activities that I like doing. For me, genuine and deep happiness is always about my connection with others – when you have really amazing chats, laugh really hard or are absorbed in what you are doing together. This can happen in the most everyday situations, even in the workplace! Similarly, you could be in the most beautiful setting and be really depressed or with someone who doesn’t make you happy.

What does Wild Sister Rising mean to you?

In terms of the phrase but also Lissa’s blog and community of women, I think it is about following your intuition and thinking consciously about your personal development. It is also about women coming together to share encouragement, wisdom and compassion for each other. I think ‘Rising’ is the really interesting part of it as it makes me think of emerging, growing and becoming powerful. I think it is about women ‘coming up’ to take more control in their own lives, to influence society in their own way. It is rejecting patriarchal ideas about what power and success actually means.


You can follow Marie on instagram @fuzzypeachgirl, twitter @fuzzypeachgirl or through her beautiful writing at peachesandscream.blog 

More about Marie :

Hello, I’m Marie! I live just outside Glasgow with Kev, my husband and Flynn, my almost five-year-old son.   I’m having fun being a stay at home parent right now and my career background is in youth work and further/community education.  I’m a writer and musician in my spare time.  Very soon I’m going ‘back to school’ to study for an HND in Music Performance. (As cheesy as it is, I’ve decided to follow my dream!).  I love to explore wellbeing, mental health and creativity and the links between them, especially in relation to women’s lives which is why I started my blog.

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Wild Sisters Rising : Gemma Tierney

Welcome to the first in the series of Wild Sisters Rising!

The village raises the child.  The circle honours the woman.

(Lissa Orr ~ Wild Sister Rising)

I am delighted to introduce Gemma Tierney ~ 32 year old cat-loving, amateur cook and gardening enthusiast.

Which phase of your life are you in?

Although technically, I am in still in the maiden phase, I feel more and more strongly that I am very much a mother. I am sure that marriage and babies are not far from my future, but I have realised recently that you don’t have to have children to be a mum (I’m sure some of you parents out there will disagree). I am motherly and nurturing by nature, so whether I’m feeding the cats, tending the garden, making soup for Ben if he has the cold, or popping in on my friend who is having a crap week, I am confident that I’m now firmly planted in the mother phase.

With the benefit of hindsight and learned wisdom, what do you wish you’d known at the start of your cycling journey?

One thing I wish I’d learned earlier is self acceptance- more specifically, not putting myself in a box. For example, when I was 17, and trying to experiment with my Goth phase, I did not dare tell my goth friends that I was absolutely obsessed with musical theatre. I believed that they wouldn’t accept me, and convinced I couldn’t like both! Says who?! Like what I like, and fuck the boxes!!

What do you do for self care?

Self care is something I’ve spoke of for a long time, but only recently offered it the time, dedication and discipline it deserves. Someone recently said to me “Whatever you have confidence in, do more of that.” So my self care is cooking, baking, making DIY beauty products from herbs I’ve grown. Anything that sees me pottering in the kitchen. I also realise that if I don’t have at least one ‘slot’ of quality time with Ben, my mum and my dad (separately, one-to-one) every week, I become tetchy. And anything involving fresh air and some solitude – a long walk, a half hour weeding, a bit of time sitting in the sun.

Do you have a morning routine? If so, what does that look like?

Mornings are my time for quiet, slow paced solitude. On a work day, I get up at 6.40am; on a weekend about 9am, but I’m always first up. I make a coffee and either sit at the kitchen table looking out into the garden, or actually go out, depending on the weather. One of our cats is allowed outside, so she’ll join me in the garden if I do sit out. During my coffee, I sort of plan my day in my head, but not too rigidly (I’m stepping away from lists!). After my coffee, come rain, hail or shine, I go and check the garden, bird feeders etc, and ONLY THEN am I ready for some noise in my space, so I turn the radio on (BBC Radio 2) and make some breakfast. I’ve spent about 32 years struggling to eat in the morning, but, much like self care, have ONLY JUST REALISED how important it is. A few spoons of yogurt and honey, and by this point I have been gently eased into my day. On a work day, its shower and out time; on a weekend, I take a second coffee into bed and wake Ben up, whether he likes it or not!

Which season in the year is your favourite and why?

I used to say Autumn was favourite, and I most certainly do love it – being cosy, getting the blankets out, turning the heating up and started to make TONS of soup! However, nowadays, I really do love Spring. All the signs of colour and life just remind me of new beginnings. I can’t actually decide, but I know I love the transitional seasons!

What are you reading just now?

I have literally just got a new book from the library today called ‘Stranger’; its a historic mystery… I’ll keep you posted.

Which book has been most influential on your path?

I read a book last October called ‘I Found My Tribe’. Its a gloriously uplifting book all about surrounding yourself with those who build you up and don’t zap you of energy. Everyone should read it.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have received?

My most valuable piece of advise came a week ago: ‘Trust your gut’. I’ve spent so many years second guessing myself, worrying what people thought, running myself ragged trying to keep everyone happy, and its brought me no joy. None! However, in recent months, I’ve had to go through something quite challenging at work, and I’ve never once doubted my actions or cared about the opinion of others, because I knew in my gut I was doing the right thing. So from now on, I shall be trusting my gut and not wasting time worrying about anyone else’s opinion!

How do you like to relax and unwind?

I think I’ve probably covered this – cooking, pottering in the kitchen, a glass of wine, a good bubble bath and a natter with Ben are perfect ways to stop my shoulders from being all hunched together through stress!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be your 3 must have items?

I’d take a notebook (I’d like to think to record my adventure, but, knowing me, I’d end up making lists of some kind!), photos of my family, and a radio. I’d be lost without my radio!

Do you have a mantra or affirmation that you live by?

I have two: “What does your gut say?” (my new one) and “Is that helpful?” (that can be used in most situations- stops you from getting into a frenzy of self doubting and negative chat; but also questions why you do certain things, and if you’re actually helping a situation/ others)

Describe your perfect day

An early rise, some time in the garden, me and Ben getting the train to somewhere near a beach, a walk along the sand, a bar lunch (I LOVE a bar lunch!!), a potter in some wee independent shops, back home where family will pop round for a few drinks, a bath and falling asleep full of food and wine!!

What does Wild Sister Rising mean to you?

I’ve generally never considered myself as ‘wild’. I’m pretty quiet, and like simple things; I tend to stick to the rules, and I hate confrontation; my hobbies and interests are pretty inoffensive.

I doubt that anyone who ever has or does know me would describe me as ‘Wild’. One thing that I am, though, is true to myself. And I always have been. And that truth has kept me going through every difficult time and setback. That’s what Wild Sister Rising means to me- continuing to rise and grow and evolve through life, while being proud to be yourself. And in this lovely circle, I have discovered a community of like minded individuals who are doing the same thing


You can follow Gemma on instagram @greenfingeredgemma (for gardening)  and @gimes27  (for cats and food).

More about Gemma :

Hello Everyone!

I am a teacher, who lives in Central Scotland,  with my partner, Ben, and our two cats. I love all things food or fresh air related, and am prone to the odd blether over a wee wine or two… There are few things in life that give me as much pleasure as staying up really late with those closest to me, putting the world to rights over a few drinks. Bliss!

I enjoy learning about new cultures and beliefs – through travel (although our purse strings, and the fact that I’m increasingly becoming more and more of a home bird, don’t allow as much as I would like), reading, trying new food (most things come back to food with me!), etc.

I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should, but have recently FINALLY realised the importance of mental wellbeing and self care, so at least I’m taking care of one part of me.

I have gone through quite a period of change the last few years, and, in that time, have realised more and more that I crave female friendship (the nice kind; not the competitive, two-faced kind that I had in High School, which, unfortunately, put me off for years!). My male friends are fab, but not so great at the feelings chat. And my Mum is great, but she sort of has to have my back- I want a Sisterhood!

Looking forward to getting to know you all.

Gemma ❤

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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

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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.

maiden moon
Photo by mademoisellechrissie on flickr

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