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Hearth: Word of the Year 2020

Do you choose a Word of the Year? Or do you prefer resolutions? Or both?

I’ve consciously selected a Word of the Year for the past 5 years, with words such as “Simplicity”, “Joy”, 2018’s was “Change” and 2019’s was “Depth”. 2018 lived up to its word that year, and while it wasn’t an awful year, it wasn’t truthfully, all that great. Many but not all “changes” and situations that came up could be considered #firstworldproblems however I refuse to diminish them in this way as each has been equally valid in shaping that year gone.

Knowing what was to come, in part in 2019, I prepared for another challenging year ahead. With the foresight and the lived experience of 2018, my choice of “Depth” was perfectly suited to the work I needed to do. It was time to get out the shallows and go deep; to face what lurked below the surface in whatever form that took.

There was a lot of toxicity in my surroundings and negativity was strong. Death was also waiting close at hand; too close.

2019 has taught me to grieve and to look at death in a different light; not to fear it but to accept it as part of the whole experience. Regardless of how painful and ugly the reality is. It has also forced me to confront parts of my personality I’d rather not, such as dealing with confrontation and toxic situations. Being able to accept personal responsibility for my own actions and see the greater picture and to view this from a place of knowing my values and what is important, where my boundaries are and respecting said boundaries.

A major lesson I have learned has been a rather surprising one that made me re-evaluate a relationship and see to understand why a particular person is the way they are (or at least my interpretation of their why). This has made significant inroads into repairing a damaged relationship that was spiraling in the negative funk that enveloped it in an ever increasing dense fog – I have been shown a mirror and the projections I put out were reflecting back at me and I did not like what I saw for what my potential future could look like!

Descending to the depths to get real and raw and truthful with myself has been an awakening of sorts, awakening to who I am and who I want to be, what I value, who I value and my why. It has been emotional, eye opening, exciting, exhilirating and soul destroying; what I previously thought or expected was not at all the reality. But that is a good thing because now I know where I am and where I’m going and with whom.

I’ve not gone into specifics as the details are irrelevant, but the process and the work done was necessary and I want to share that. The woman that walked into the murkiness that was 2019 is not the woman who is walking out the other side. I’m casting off and shedding this year, this decade, like a skin. A symbolic death of what has gone before, consigned to my herstory, ready for the next phase, next decade, 2020.

My Word Of The Year for 2020 is Hearth.

What does that mean? Well, to me, Hearth is 3-fold. The actual hearth of my home, my travelling hearth of my business and my internal hearth of my soul.

This year I am turning my attention and focus on our home. The house we live in doesn’t feel like home, it’s merely bricks ‘n’ mortar and central heating, where I make the tea and sleep. That needs to, has to, change. And it changes with me – only I can affect the changes necessary to make our house our home; a cozy, safe, sanctuary that nourishes and enriches our well being and the relationships under this roof.

My travelling hearth with its rituals and community is a sacred space for me. I welcome those called to share it with me and celebrate what it means to be authentic, sovereign women, rising to our greatest potential. Last year saw my blog evolve further into creating a proper community and connecting with beautiful souls who are also feeling the pull of the global awakening; our time is now and for some it is scary but it doesn’t have to be. We are in this together, helping and supporting one another. The tag line of Wild Sister Rising has been “Awaken your Wild You” since I birthed WSR into being almost 3 years ago – 2020 is the year to step into this fully and embody it!

The inner hearth, where my inner cauldron is held. The source of my power, wisdom, intuition, knowing, creativity and blood. I am tending to myself. I am a priority; I cannot give to my family the home the deserve, or to my clients the service and support they deserve, if I don’t give to myself. My focus here is on my spiritual practice and craft, properly devoting my time to doing the work, knowing that not only will I reap the benefits, but so too will those who depend on me. I start my Priestess training in February which I am enormously excited for (especially as it means I will be able to officiate at weddings, baby blessings and funerals once I have completed the work) and again, welcome this at my hearth, knowing it will deepen my practice and what I offer to others.

The hearth holds the fire, the fire burns with heat, with passion, with ferocity, with light, with power to transform (or destroy), it dances, it glows, it is contained in the solid and safe structure of the hearth and held with love.

If you are looking for me, you’ll find me hearthside, come join me and share a pot of tea.

Lissa xx

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What is Yule?

What is Yule? Are you familiar with the word but unsure of it’s meaning? Or know a bit about Yule but unsure as to how to celebrate the festival or of the meaning behind the celebration?

Yule is the time in the calendar also known as Winter Solstice or Midwinter. It is the pre-christian, pagan celebration of the return of the sun. The precursor to the modern day, christian celebration of Christmas. It was honoured and celebrated across much of northern Europe, particularly in Celtic, Scandinavian/Nordic and Germanic cultures (known as Jul).

Here in the northern hemisphere, this time of year is very dark with only a little sun light each day, but on the Solstice, the shortest day of the year, some places see no sun light at all. To get through these dark times, people came together to feast and make merry; to make offerings to the Great Mother (Mother Nature/Gaia/Goddess / local deities) and to honour the sun to ensure its return once more. With the sun’s rebirth comes lighter and warmer weather to farm, grow food and livestock thus enabling their very survival. The welcome and vital sunrise was celebrated as a festival as it was believed to truly be a miracle and people rejoiced that they had been blessed by the light once more. The festivities lasted many days and more recently have been referred to as the 12 days or nights of Yule/Yuletide which gave forth to the 12 days of Christmas.

Living in tune with nature, the cycles of the earth and seasons of the land, the people of the day were at the mercy of the weather and of the Great Mother and would ensure they pleased Her with their offerings, in both thanks for what they harvested and in hope for success for the next year coming. The best of the produce would be served at these revelries and the rest would have to keep families going throughout the winter, lest they starve until the new crops began to grow and the new animals were of an age for slaughter. Spring was a lean season for eating, but a good successful harvest secured a hearty and abundant winter and a pleased Mother.

As well as a time of celebration, Yule was also a time of peace and quiet contemplation of the lessons learned. Gratitude and joy was shared for the year just gone and hope was encouraged for the year to come. The festivities were steeped in observed rituals and reverence as well as helping lift the communities through the bleak midwinter lull in work and idle hands. Instead of working the land, evergreens were gathered and brought inside, the branches, boughs and trees or bushes (Christmas tress and garlands by today’s understanding) were adorned with candles, lit to to give encouragement to the vegetation to grow and thrive in the coming year, and remind the sun to grow bright and strong, as well as to keep any fae, housed in the boughs, warm during this cold dark time.

Many traditions from the ancient ways are still in practice today, some have been modified to accommodate modern living but the essence remains true. This is not a commercial festival, with the business of busyness, but rather a meaningful time to make like nature and find the stillness in the dark to turn inwards in contemplation of what has gone before; give thanks and release what no longer serves or has expired, to say farewell to those souls who have departed this earthly plane in the past solar cycle and to also create, plan and make space for what is to come in the following cycle. It’s cold outside so connecting with kith and kin hearthside, round the Yule log, sharing in communal ritual and togetherness, gift giving and feasting is as important today as it was way back when.

So how do modern day pagans celebrate this important time in our Wheel of the Year (calendar)?

I can’t speak for anyone else but thought I would give you an insight into what yule looks like rounds at mine. A quick pinterest search will open to millions of pins of ways people across the globe are honouring the sun’s return. In the Northern hemisphere, December 21st (approx) is Winter Solstice, but in the Southern hemisphere, it is Summer Solstice that parties with Christmas, while their Winter festival is in June.

Our Yuletide celebrations begin at sunset of the evening of December 20th, Mother’s Night (Modranecht ). I say “our” celebrations, but I really mean mine! I’m the only pagan in the house, but my family share in some of the celebrations with me which is beautiful and has become traditional in our own wee family. All work must be complete by this evening, there is no “work” during Yuletide. This night is not too dissimilar to Samhuinn in that it is time for me to acknowledge and honour the Mothers who have come before me, my motherline ancestral thread. I have names for these women now, but in years gone by I didn’t so my ritual was more a prayer/blessing to all Mothers, and Mother-like women I know, knew and respected. I like to take time for myself and dedicate this time to meditation and a small ritual involving naming my ancestors and giving thanks.

The day of Solstice or Yule will fall on 20th or 21st or 22nd December. This year our shortest day is 22nd and the light will be reborn at sunrise on 23rd. We have a special meal – ALWAYS Nigella’s Christmas Ham (her Christmas cook book is the only bible I ever owned – it comes out every year without fail since I bought it in 2008) eaten by candle light, we have a small gift exchange – the gift has to be crafted (usually food! Once again thanking the Goddess that is Nigella) or be a second hand purchase or books – books are the best gift in my opinion, and if second hand then even better, especially if they are old and have an inscription in the inside cover. My copy of Little Women that my husband gave me for yule about 10 years ago, has an inscription from Elsie to Alice in pencil from April 1911 – who were Elsie and Alice?? Anyways, I digress. We watch the sunset into the longest night of the year, exchange a small gift and give thanks for the year gone and make a wish for the year to come. It’s such a cozy evening with just the twinkly tree lights and candles. This year, weather depending we are hoping to get the fire going and can sit outside for a bit as the sun goes down and burn our wishes and a makeshift yule log (as well as enjoying the chocolate variety for pudding). In ancestral times, the fires were extinguished and hearths were cleaned out. The communal village Yule log was lit from a taper saved from the previous year’s log to continue the luck and good fortune into the new year, and then each household’s new fire was lit from a flame from the blazing communal log. The following morning I will witness the sunrise, as it returns in welcome to join it as we dance its next dance.

A traditional Scottish Blessing for Solstice’s returning sun :

I welcome you,

sun of the seasons,

as you travel the skies aloft;

your steps are strong

on the wing of the heavens,

you are the glorious

mother of the stars.

A modern twist on the rejoicing the light is when my son and I jump in the car (usually the evening of 22nd or 23rd) and drive round all the local villages and look at all the lights people have decorated their homes and garden with, and bring along hot chocolate for our nighttime road trip. Over the course of the next couple of days, including Christmas day, the time is spent with family and friends celebrating the season, eating and feasting and laughing and enjoying (and stressing and arguing and eye rolling but there is always mulled wine and/or rum!) which is tempered by quiet moments of time to myself each evening (sometimes, especially on 24th or the 4th night of Yuletide, that quiet time is literally 5 mins before bed!).

But it’s the betwixt days between Christmas and New Year that are my favourite; lots of time for contemplation, working out the kinks and plans for next year, eating leftovers and rich foods, sleeping and resting, not keeping any routine or “normal hours”, seeing friends, getting outside into nature and cleansing (redding) the house ready for 12th Night, Hogmanay. The festivities all leading up to “The Bells” and steak pie and the traditions that come with this night. I prefer to have the tree down and the decorations away before The Bells, so as to welcome the new year in fresh and clean but I know I am in the minority for that.

Some other ways to honour the 12 nights of Yuletide could be to spend each of the 12 nights reflecting on a month of the year just gone i.e. first night, what lessons did January hold, 2nd night for February so on and so forth. Welcoming the sunrise with yoga sun salutation. Baking and sharing sun bread. Having a potted tree or an evergreen tree in your garden that you can decorate with birdseed, nuts and berry garlands and icicles for our feathered friends. I’m sure you have plenty of ideas that suit your needs/beliefs/wishes.

I love Yule and actually would happily fore-go Christmas in favour of yule but that would take some explaining to the family and result in hurt feelings and misunderstandings that quite frankly just aren’t worth the hassle – who needs more stress in December? So I will continue to celebrate both and maybe my 9yo will develop my same love for a low key Yule over the extravagant Xmas as he grows up but for now he is still all about Santa and the excess of the season. To him it’s magical and when I was his age, it was pure magic for me too.

Solstice Blessings to you

Lissa xx

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12 Nights of Yuletide

On the first night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, my Motherline ancestry.

On the second night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, evergreen trees and my Motherline ancestry.

On the third night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, the returning sun, evergreen trees and my Motherline ancestry.

On the fourth night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me a flaming log, the returning sun …

On the fifth night on Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, time with family …

On the sixth night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, feasting and laughter …

On the seventh night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, a bunch of mistletoe …

On the eighth night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, quiet contemplation …

On the ninth night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, sacred solitude …

On the tenth night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, cleansing energy …

On the eleventh night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, love in abundance …

On the twelveth night of Yuletide Great Mother gave to me, the turning of the wheel, love in abundance, cleansing energy, sacred solitude, quiet contemplation, a bunch of mistletoe, feasting and laughter, time with family, a flaming log, the returning sun, evergreen trees and my Motherline ancestry.

Sing along to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. These are the 12 nights that best suit and reflect MY yuletide – what would yours look like?

With love & blessings

Lissa xx

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Dear Winter

Every year I look forward to your dark embrace.

Your stark, barren chill brings a wild clarity where the shadow is invited into the light, hearth side.

As I await the Cailleach’s freshly laundered cloak of white to spread out across these lands, I quietly settle into slowing down and coorying in, into your season.

While I eagerly anticipate you annual arrival, I am well aware of the sense of dread your appearance brings to others. Those without shelter, food, comfort, their health or the love of kith or kin. You make their very existence a challenge for survival.

In contrast to the poverty lived by many, the polar opposite also bears witness to showcase wealth, abundance and for some, greed; much of which will lead to the aforementioned poverty in the spirit of keeping up appearances.

There is no hiding in your season, where everything is raw and exposed; branches bare and wind unforgiving. You are relentless in your pursuit of truth, forcing the pause of hibernation to turn inwards to seek our heart’s desire or assess our current situaion, for good or othewise; mentally and physically clearing the path of the old to make way for the new growth.

I crave the simplicity of life that you so beautifully demonstrate in the earth around me. Peaceful, resting, hibernating, going deep to renew once again in Spring. To appreciate what has gone before and to prepare for what is to come with a healthy dose of self care and preservation, feeding my body simple but nourishing foods and loving those around me hard.

Thank you for this time of quiet and slow reflection.

With love, blessings and gratitude

Lissa

xx

(Inspired to write this by Carrie-Anne Moss, of Annapurnaliving.com and her book Fierce Grace)

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Remembering Our Ancestors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Lissa

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Old Ways in the New Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L xx

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Magic Rewilding

Magic Rewilding

Do you believe in magic?

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

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

When did it all get so complicated and prescribed?

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

Shop bought magic isn’t YOUR magic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Into The Deep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The very best of the Seasons Greetings to you

L x

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40

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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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 private 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