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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Buddleia blessings

I wandered my garden barefoot today needing to connect to Nature & shake off the stress of the week.  My beautiful pink buddleia bush called me to her & drew me to her heart.

She showed me some of the spirits she was nurturing & offered to nurture me too.  I stepped close to her & quietly soaked up her energies & just as the butterflies & bees were thankful for her sweet nectar I was grateful to her for feeding my soul.

I left her side to light incense for some barefoot meditation & was taken on a journey skywards with the bees & butterflies.  I felt light & free, carried on soft breezes.  It was just the release I needed.

This evening I was careful to make sure I watered my buddleia especially well & soon I will have some 'liquid gold' from my wormery to feed her in return.

May Buddleia blessings be with you too xxx

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Hedgewitch Heart

Someone on Twitter asked me recently what a Hedge Witch is.  That was a difficult one, especially when you're limited to 140 characters!  In general I seem to come across the Hedge Witch described in two basic terms. 1. A solitary witch, a wise woman, healer & midwife in ancient times, often seen foraging along hedgerows for magical ingredients. 2. A shamanic mystic, able to transcend the boundary, often represented as a hedge, between this world & the Other world.  I found a good Hedge Witch description on the internet here which seems to perfectly balance the two terms.

So why do I describe myself as an apprentice Hedge Witch & what exactly does it mean to me?  Well.... I understood the Pagan rhythms of my heart relatively late in life when I was 40, but I had no real idea of how to put it into meaningful practise.  So I spent a while searching. Was I Druid, Wiccan, Psychic, Holistic Healer?  I knew I felt the healing power of crystals; I knew I'd seen angel or spirit shapes during a deep Reiki session;  I knew I was an animal & Nature lover with a particular 'way' with creatures; I knew I'd felt healing from the Divine flow through my fingertips into animals in my care; I knew I'd been visited by the spirits of the dead;  I knew I felt the magical pull of the Lady Moon & I knew I could feel the presence of a creating life force in every tree, stone & living being around me.  I began following the Wheel of the Year & celebrating the Sabbats.  I embraced the symbolism's of a Universal life force in the Triple Goddess & Horned God.  I deepened my connection to the natural landscape all around me.  I almost began the OBOD (Druid) course & then I read 'Hedgewitch' by Rae Beth & knew.  It was like a proverbial coming home.   The words on the pages fitted exactly with what I felt inside & Rae Beth's words gave form to all the whirling emotions & passions down deep in me.  The book also gave me guidance & information on how I could 'worship' based on ancient ways & teachings whilst encouraging me to find my own way of weaving the magic of a Hedge Witch into my life.

So, filled with inspiration & a longing to immerse deeply in practice I gathered some of the traditional tools of witchcraft to create my own altar - an athame, a wand, a cauldron, incense, etc. & looked forward to beginning full magic circle castings & grand outdoor ceremonies.  Well, that didn't exactly go to plan.  Suffice it to say that being the only person of Pagan belief in my household, such 'weird' goings on didn't fit well with the household!  Until my family feel more comfortable with my 'witchy ways' I needed to find a simpler way, less intimidating (to them) way to honour my path.  I must admit I felt very disheartened & even a little alone.  Would it have been easy to give up at this point? No, I can honestly say that giving up wasn't an option.  Once your heart is open there really isn't any way of denying the things you feel - they run through every fibre of your being.  No matter how impossible they may seem to other people, once you know certain things to be true it is impossible to deny them.

So I kept whispering Pagan prayers & let myself be held in spirit by the nurturing energies of Mother Earth. As I described in my previous blog post I began to connect more deeply with the botanical world around me.   Then beautiful things began to happen & connections to amazing people brought very special blessings into my life which gave me confidence & inner knowledge that I was on the right path & to stick to it.  I found a way to begin describing what I believe to my children by relating it directly to the natural world.  I immersed myself in growing herbs & learning about their healing/magical properties.  Very kind friends sent books to me which enabled me to learn techniques of natural magic & how to make my own incense & aromatherapy oil blends.  It brought me immense pleasure to be able to send little packages of these as gifts.  Supported by a truly special lady, Caroline Thomas, I have started learning about & exploring natural animal healing.  Then in writing an email to my dear friend Jason who always inspires me, a perfect gift came to me - a way of being able to cast a magic circle & sit within it simply & discretely.  Crystals!  I now have 5 crystals to represent the elements that I can place around me - citrine for Air, red jasper for Fire, chrysocolla for Water, jade for Earth & a clear quartz to hold for Spirit.  Best of all it's so portable I can really get outside into Mother Nature's arms without feeling self conscious or alarming neighbours or passers by.

So as my personal journey weaves & unfolds here's a little something I've been asked to share:

How to make loose incense for burning on a charcoal disc

Loose incense is simply a mixture of resins / dried herbs / essential oils ground & blended together in a pestle & mortar.  Different resins, herbs & oils have special meaning / resonance at certain times of the year or for certain purposes.  There are lots & lots of 'recipes' to be found on the internet, or in books such as the one I tend to refer to which is 'The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews' by Scott Cunningham.  Here are some that I've tried & really enjoy:-

Beltane Incense - a gorgeous blend for burning during Beltane rituals & celebrations

3 parts Frankincense
2 Parts Sandalwood
1 part Woodruff
1 part Rose petals
a few drops of Jasmine oil
a few drops of Neroli oil
drop or 2 of Bergamot oil

Full Moon ritual incense - for Full Moon ceremonies or simply attuning to the Moon

3 parts Frankincense
1 part Sandalwood

Altar incense - for blessing / purifying your altar space

3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Myrrh
1 part Cinnamon

General 'all purpose' incense - burn to increase spirituality

3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Myrrh
a few drops Lavender oil
a few drops of Sandalwood oil

A 'part' can be any measure you like, but as these incense blends are quite potent you only need a pinch or 2  on a charcoal disc & I generally use a tablespoon or two to equal 1 part to make a batch.  Again, because homemade incense is pretty strong stuff it's probably best to burn outdoors or in a well ventilated room.

As you grind & blend the ingredients together in your pestle & mortar you can further empower your incense  by filling your heart with love & chanting / visualising the beautiful intention you wish to bestow on your mixture.

Happy blending! xx

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Summer landscape

When we moved out to the countryside on June 20th 8 years ago, the significance of Summer Solstice had only vague meaning to me. Since embracing a more spiritual path it has a myriad meanings to my heart.  This year my Solstice celebrations were a little muted due to the unfortunate timing of some surgery, but never the less I was very aware of the many blessings brought to my Summer landscape at this mid point in the year.

We are very lucky to have a bridle path literally on our doorstep which meanders for a mile across open fields.  It's a safe place to walk our dogs off the lead & we walk that path there & back,morning & evening, every day, almost without fail.  The landscape is stunning.  To the left the beautiful Malvern Hills dominate the horizon.  The Hills never look the same twice, no matter how many times we walk the path.  Some days the sun shines so brightly on them you can pick out incredible detail on the hillsides.  Some days fog rolls in & the Hills disappear altogether. Every evening you know that if conditions are right you will be met with the most stunning sunsets, sometimes bringing fire & passion to your soul, sometimes bringing incredible peace to your heart.

In the last couple of years the farmer has adopted an organic approach to farming.  It has really had a positive affect on the wildlife this year.  We have seen a far greater variety of butterflies, birds, insects, flowers & bees.  At this mid point of the year the landscape, fueled by the Sun's energies, is a virile tangle of tall seeded grasses, foliage & wild flowers.  The air is alive with the humming of busy bees, chirruping crickets & bird song.  If you breathe deep down into your lungs you can smell the lushness of the grass, the perfume of the flowers, the dustiness of hot days & the freshness of rainy days.  If you look, really look, your eyes are met with so many treasures - new tree saplings, wild flowers hidden away in the grass, tiny beetles scurrying here & there & tell tale signs of mammal activity, like badger tracks & fox fur caught in bramble branches.

The landscape is burgeoning with vitality, & if you tune into it the energies are powerfully uplifting & invigorating.  Just by kicking off my shoes & walking the path barefoot, ruffling the grass with my hands, tracing the curve of a petal with my fingertips or stepping into the shade of a tree to lean against it's bark I  become more deeply connected to the landscape.  My heart swells with joy at seeing the deeper harmony around me brought by the farmer's organic farming methods.  The wholesomeness of it all filters into every pore of my being & it brings a powerful desire to mimic more fully the precious & delicate balances of Nature in my life.  To take more action, however simple, however small to make sure I tread lightly on Mother Earth's surface.

I truly believe that if we all took time to tune into Mother Nature she would breathe the same message into all of our hearts & then maybe, just maybe, the subtle shifts in people's attitudes to their environment that I can see happen all around me will become seismic.

Like this little sapling, we all have the potential within us to root ourselves deeply to the Earth & become mighty oaks