Friday, 27 December 2013

New Beginnings

So New Year is around the corner and now is the time for some resolutions. I've thought about this a bit, vaguely remembering the ones I made last year, not sure just how much I stuck to them to be honest. They were probably the usual crap of losing weight and what have you, I might have had some spirituality based ones but I'm not even sure how much I remember then, it all seems such a long time ago.

I'm getting a head start with them this year, I have been thinking about my goals for next year for a little while now, and I'm not going to call them resolutions because if I call them that I will have failed them by the 2nd January regardless of what my aims were. Though if I've achieved something in the time between 1st January and 31st December then it doesn't count as failing I guess!

My goals for next year, I'm going to leave out the largely personal ones, the reoccurring losing weight one, my hope that I might be able to drive next December or maybe having a different job, who knows. The ones I'll post here are more to do with self.

This year my aim was to develop myself spiritually, and I feel that I have confused myself spiritually more than anything else. I think with the last few months where I seem to have sunk into depression or whatever it was that was causing a funk my spirituality has taken a back seat almost. I didn't go to Witchfest in November like the last two years, it always gives me a boost and a bit of a kick up the arse, and I don't think that's really helped how I've been feeling. I have got a couple of plans up my sleeve to reconnect, and hopefully to improve how I'm feeling too.

Firstly, I'm going to get a camera. I know, huge pagan item that...really natural. What I want to do is to start a Photo Blog, probably on Tumblr, but to go out and photograph nature, to photograph the world around me, document where I've been. The camera on my phone is ok but it's not brilliant, so I want a nice little one that will fit in a pocket in my handbag and be there when I want it to be, to snap a cobweb I've found in the morning due, to snap a bird that's landed close to me, or just a misty morning.

Secondly I want to pick up Llewellyn's Spell-a-Day Almanac. It's not all spells, some of it is just daily devotions, leaving offerings, rituals, occasionally just a snippit of knowledge about a festival you're not aware of on that day. I had one for the past year and kept forgetting where I'd put it, so I didn't get much done with it. But I'm hoping that this time, with enough advanced planning, that I might actually do something with it this year. Something else to keep me connected to my path!

Thirdly, I really want to start to study properly again. How many times have I said that in a blog or forum post I wonder? More times than I could possibly count. I know that I have so many books to read and a course or two that I've got to do. And I'm going to, I am going to set myself a goal of just two pagan related books a month, surely I can do that? Actually, maybe one. 12 books a year would probably cover most of my witchy book case. Provided I manage to refrain from buying any more in between. I started a course through Order of Ovates Bards and Druids too and I'd quite like to be able to finish able to this next year. Means I'm going to have to pull my finger out a bit and do it but I believe I can do it, among everything else.

I know that life is going to get in the way, and I know that I am going to have difficulty somewhere or another with spirituality and not being able to do something or another because of this and that and I really hope I'm not going to get stressed out about it. I would love by the end of next year to be so laid back I'm horizontal instead of being full of anxiety and fear and dread all the time. I'd love it so that I don't jump the second someone from work comes near me with something, so that I don't suddenly panic that I've left the house in a storm and envision all my windows being blown in or somehow I've managed to leave something plugged in which has caused a massive fire somewhere. I'm hoping that study will help me focus my mind and prevent it from wandering constantly. 

I want to practice my crafts, improve with the Tarot, not just one of my decks but the two I have, use my oracle decks more frequently and familiarise myself with those. Pendulums too, now I have three, I'd like to be able to use in different ways to the ways I use them now. Perhaps pick up a new skill, I have a beautiful set of amethyst runes I'm afraid I've barely been near because I've been utterly bewildered with how they work and the ability to learn the symbols. Perhaps something else for the year ahead.

Another thing I'd like to do is have some witchy writing published. I wrote an article for the Witchcraft and Wicca magazine run by Children of Artemis and I hope that I'll be able to write more for them and hopefully have something in the magazine. I might even submit an article or two to the Pagan Dawn and see how that goes! I also want to be able to focus on developing the idea I have for a pagan book that I want to publish someday in the future, although I know it's not going to happen in 2014, I'd like something with it to happen, whether it's research, developing techniques, learning new ones. 

There are more events I want to go to next year, The Artemis Gathering and Witchfest are definitely on my list, regardless of what else is happening, I might see if I can take myself on a trip or two with some other folk to places like Glastonbury, Avebury and Stonehenge.

Lastly, I want to take up meditation. Again, part of the developing myself, helping myself through the anxiety and depression I've been suffering. Help myself to be happy again and focus my life on the tasks that I want to complete and succeed in. Even if it's only 10 minutes a day it's more than what I'm doing now and gives me the chance to have some from of me time, even if the rest of my time is taken away from me.
There is a bit of work to be done before the 1st of January where I start all this, something I'll look at over the course of the weekend and when I get  home, I also plan to take myself away on the 31st December to spend a gift voucher I have for Waterstones and to get my camera. I might even pop into my favourite shop Zen too and see if I can pick up a witchy thing or two (undoubtedly crystals...)

So here's to a happier me for next year, a more spiritual me and hopefully a not too worn out me!

See you in 2014 x

Monday, 28 October 2013

"You told me that I would run if I knew you inside and your mind, my love"

I'm taking a bit of time out from blogging...largely due to me forgetting but that's another issue.

This post isn't about witchy me, it's about me. Pure, honest, open, me.

I'm not sure how to start this without sounding like a teenage emo whose only life issues are that Edward Cullen isn't actually a real person, but that fact alone has already ruined their life more than anyone could possibly imagine.

I've had issues, for years it feels, on and off. It can be little things, paranoia that every time two senior managers go into a meeting, it's about me and how they can find a way to get rid of me. Occasionally I could ignore it, sometimes I would be sat worrying until they came out again. If nothing was said to me, I'd be fine, and there would be nothing to stress about until we got to the next meeting.

I worry about little things, like travel, I need to physically see the tickets to know that they are there. I stop dead if I think anything is missing or wrong and won't move again until that particular anxiety has been calmed. I get stressed if I can't see the tickets or whatever, if I feel that particular aspects are out of my control, I panic.

Recently I feel as if things have stepped up a bit. I spend most of my days worrying that something I've done at work is wrong, or if I pick up on something I've not done properly or simply missed I start panicking and wondering how best to get a new job. I can't be happy outside of work because these things crop into my mind every now and then and can either leave me sleepless, over-thinking things, I can't enjoy weekends or even time off because I fear that something has happened while I've been out of the office and I'll get a message before I leave the next day telling me not to come in. I spent one bank holiday over-thinking one person had said and it completely ruined it.

I've has one such matter on my mind all weekend, it's kept me awake, it left me with a massive tension headache that lasted most of yesterday, and I'm pretty sure that and the combination of a packed train left me feeling claustrophobic to a point I wondered if I could just get off at the next stop and worry about catching a later emptier one.

I worry about money, I never have any because I'm always spending it. I spent it to make me feel a bit happier but it never does. I worry that I'm not going to be able to afford things like Christmas, birthdays, I worry that people don't like what I've given them, or enjoyed time I've spent with them. I feel the need to overcompensate and then worry that that isn't enough and overcompensate some more which makes me feel exhausted.

I spend my time worrying what other people think and equally not giving enough of a shit to do anything about it. This is probably harming me more than anything else. I can't stop eating at the moment, I eat for so many reasons but stress is a large part of it. I'm gaining weight and i'm too scared to stand on the scales and see what the damage is. I know I am probably heavier now than I have been, but I'm not sure I want to do anything about it. Signing up for things to motivate me has failed, I don't know what else I can do to help it.

I can't communicate with people - I can't sit down and talk to people about my problems because I'm not a sitting down and talking kind of person. I write. If I am asked something about what I think to anything, I'll generally agree with the consensus. If I was asked what I thought about something online by email, on Facebook, I'd probably argue until I was blue in the face. I worry that I don't sound intelligent enough to put my point across, or that someone will ask me something challenging that I can't answer or can't work my way around. Here I can edit, I can change words or look them up if it's something I feel is right but I'm not sure of the meaning.

I rarely feel happy anymore, I take my pleasures where I can find them. Whether it's buying something I really really don't need, or if it's eating another bar of chocolate. I listen to music, usually stuff that I connect with these days, I rarely listen to anything new. I think Bitter Ruin and the new Ayreon are going to be the only albums of bands I like I've really listened to properly in the last year.

I've stopped reading - and this is a real kicker for me. Books are everything to me. I love diving into worlds that I can learn about and forget about the real world. I can count the books I have read since August on one hand. My lack of interest in pretty much anything is hurting me more than I can say. I don't really know how I spend my weeks anymore. Admittedly I've watched more TV which has filled a gap but with one series ended and another not that far away what do I do then? I can't stay focused on anything because I'm too busy worrying about other things.

Next month I'm down to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I've started worrying about things attached to that that may be years down the line or just may not ever happen. I want this to be more than just a "oh I feel like putting myself through hell for a month". I want there to be a product at the end and I want the product to go out there into the world, and I want people to read it, but then I don't know if it's worth all the stress and anxiety I'm pretty sure would go with it.

I just feel that at the moment I'm bumbling along in the world, in my bubble of anxiety and stress, and it's not going anywhere, I'm not going anywhere, I'm almost too scared to do anything different because I don't know if I could cope with the anxiety and stress that would go with those new situations. I don't know if I can be the person I want to be and do the things I want to do.

I feel a bit better getting this down and in writing, I don't know if anyone is going to read this, or comment or whatever. I think I know what I need to do but I'm worried that I won't be taken seriously or that what I'm going through isn't "severe" enough to be considered as anything.

I think some time to myself would be better. I might put the laptop down and turn off Facebook, I'll focus on my novel next month, spend some time thinking about me and try and ignore everything else. I might still blog, if I have difficulties with my writing, or with myself.

I think i should quote something vaguely relevant and profound here. But as I can't think of anything, have a Bitter Ruin song instead.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Questioning Everything....again

If you had asked me this time last month what path I followed, I would have told you that I did not know, but that I was fairly certain that it wasn't Wicca and that I was leaning towards some other path. Ask me now, and I'd tell you I don't know.

As per my previous posts you will be aware that I was at the Gathering in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside this past weekend, and at this event I attended a lot of different talks and events. A lot of what I attended were rituals. Not through my own accord, it just so happened to be the talks I went to ended up being ritual based. Through the rituals I felt a connection, something deep down inside was feeling comfortable and at home. Most of these rituals were Wicca based, though not all, but I felt at home almost. I loved seeing them performed properly by people who knew what they were doing. It's not something I've really been able to witness.

So am I Wicca? I don't know. I'm certainly willing to consider it again, I'm going to focus on some of the books that are recommended reading when following a Wicca based path, see if I feel it still feels as good as it did when the rituals were performed in the field.

I guess practice might be good too, work towards the general rituals - take what I can from solitary books or adapt group ones. I'm going to re-re-read Scott Cunningham's Wicca and go from there.

The other thing that I had started to consider was the notion of covens. I don't know if I could work within a coven, I think I am too stubborn and independent, but the thought intrigued me and it might be something I'll entertain in the future. If not a coven then certainly check out the moot that's near by, I need some form of connection beyond the internet, I think.

These new notions of mine, however, will help me with another idea I have. I want to plan out and hold some talks on Children of Artemis' SecondLife Sim based on Finding a Path. I wrote an article which I sent to them for their magazine, Witchcraft and Wicca. I don't feel like I know enough on any other subject but I might be able to help on this aspect and to let people know not to jump at one path and hope it fits, but to take the time.  Going back to Wicca just shows that I didn't necessarily take the appropriate time to consider it, or at least didn't have enough experience to think it might be the right path. Either way, I'm looking forward to starting to plan this out. Hopefully these classes will start on SecondLife by mid-September where, hopefully, they will get decent enough feedback to fuel the next part of my plan, but that bit is underwraps for now, and you'll need to wait to find out where I'm going with that.

So, old directions and new directions being head into, this is exciting for me and I'm sure it's just the beginning of what the aftermath of the Gathering has in store for me.

The Dark Goddess

I wanted to write a separate post for the Dark Goddess talk at the Gathering. This talk was far more involved than some I went to, it was also a longer session that the rest of the talks there. The talk was held at Witchfest in 2012 but she felt that a longer session would have benefited, and I have to say I’d agree.

By means of introduction, the Dark Goddess talk was held by Jane Meredith. She is Australian and apparently her talk was first heard at the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury where, thereafter, it became one of her most requested talks. To me the purpose of the Dark Goddess talks is to show that it’s alright for life not to go ok, that life isn’t all love and light and sunshine and roses and snowdrops on kittens or whatever else and that the Dark Goddess can have a profound effect on our lives but also that we can move on from the dark periods and come into light.

What I intend to write here is breakdown of the whole talk, some bits will be omitted which I will explain why when I get to them but it is largely a matter of confidentiality.
Jane welcomed us and went through a little bit about the Dark Goddess and her own experiences with working with her. She went into a bit about Inanna and a little bit about the other Dark Goddesses but thought that we’d spend most of the time in ritual.

I haven’t done loads of ritual, so I was jumping at the chance of anything, particularly new stuff and this was very new. So we started by invoking the Dark Goddess. We did this through lots of changing and invoking her by 4 names, Persephone, Kali, The Morrigan and Ereshkigal, the latter I had never heard of before today and need to look into. Once invoked we spoke a bit more, then we split into groups where we discussed the aspects of our lives where we felt that the Dark Goddess had been present. This is where I won’t go into detail in the name of confidentiality, but I will share my own.

What I shared with the group was that after I got married, happily so, I felt like I didn’t have much to look forward to. Ignoring the far future, the near future beyond my husband was looking bleak. I was stuck in a job I wasn’t happy in, I had no career prospects, and I got pretty depressed. I didn’t want to be where I was. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think those feelings have entirely gone, not by a long shot, but I’m working on them.

Then we looked at how we felt that we had overcome the dark aspects. I was honest, I said I didn’t think I had gone through it yet, but I was getting there and spirituality was one of the ways I felt was helping me cope.

After this we approached the Dark Goddess. We did this through another part of ritual where we walked symbolically into the underworld chanting:

“I am beneath the earth, I am inside of you,
You are in my heart, I am in yours too.”

We walked in a circle, clock wise, with a chair in the middle where the Goddess was to sit. During the walk we were, if we wanted to, to approach the chair in the middle and ask the Goddess a question we wanted help with. Then we were to sit in the chair as the Dark Goddess and view ourselves and listen to what she had to say, if anything. I’m not going to go into too much detail here again, on my part this time. But I did connect with her, and I got an answer, whether it was the one I was particularly looking for I don’t know, but it was an answer, I received it and it kinda went with everything else over the weekend in a roundabout way, but more on that later.

Once we had met the Dark Goddess, or made the decision not to, we were to walk in the opposite direction to mark us coming back up from the underworld.

Afterwords we bid farewell to the Dark Goddess very similarly the way we began.

It’s not very often that I feel opened up in a ritual; I think I still hold a degree of scepticism with regards to certain aspects of the occult. This weekend held a lot of interesting moments for me where I could feel the energy or the presence of something more, and this talk and ritual was one of them. I have no doubt that the Goddess was there listening to us and that the answer that came from within was from her. It’s made me interested in her dark side and to look into it more. I did buy Jane’s book on the same subject matter and I really look forward to reading it. I think I can connect with the Dark Goddess more than I thought.

Later in the evening, after my arrow breaking and firewalk, I thought bought to the Dark Goddess workshop. I thought of what I had offered up to the Goddess and noted how they were the same things I gave up to the fire in the ritual before the firewalk. A change has been spurred inside of me, and I know I am not the only one to feel the same. We all experienced a change, it’s a common theme in comments surrounding the event from both attendees and even those given the talks, the initiated, we all sensed something different.

I want to know where the future is going, I can tell that I am not going to be where I am this time next year, in what terms I can’t quite tell. But for now I’m comfortable being me, and wherever this fire magic takes me, I’m quite willing to go.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Artemis Gathering 9th-12th August 2013

It's been a while since I went near my blog, for various reasons but I'll go into them separately another time.

This past weekend I have been at the Artemis Gathering which is run by The Children of Artemis which holds a host of Workshops and Talks and events and its fab. This was my first year and I really didn't know what to expect, I had been to their other event Witchfest but I was told the Gathering was quite different.

The weekend got off to an interesting start when I ended up camping with friends Tom, Hannah, Hywell and Kevin. Kevin is a speaker at COA events and camping with him meant we ended up camping with some other speakers. Mostly initiated Wiccans who were really interesting and made for interesting listening for most of the weekend. They also ran the rituals that were heard at the event. That night was full of conversation, making friends early on and the beautiful music of Cephlalodidge and Damh the Bard. I'm already a massive fan of Damh and it was lovely seeing him play live again!

So the first day the first thing I attended was a talk on Oils, Incense and Brews. Not mediums I have really worked with beyond stick incense, but it was interesting. We got to make our own oils and after looking mine up I have noticed that their attributes are very relevant to an issue that I have at the moment, so that was a massive bonus. I've called it Artemis Oil after the weekend.

Next I went on a nature walk by Tylluan Penry. Now I am a massive fan of Tylluan's work, I have three of her books (although admittedly not all read), and I've gone to many of her talks in the past. The talk was interesting as she actually asked us what we would use individual plants for and pointed out that we don't all use them for the same things and that that is absolutely fine. There are, I'm sure, many who would disagree with that and that X plant has X attributes and that is that. Anything else is nonsense. She brought light and laughter to the talk too which was brilliant. I feel like I've learnt to open my eyes a bit more too!

Then came what was advertised as the opening ritual. It turned out that the opening ritual was the handfasting of Merlyn and Cath who run Children of Artemis. It was beautiful and I feel so blessed to have been included in the ceremony. It was overseen by Tam Campbell, a man I hold in high esteem as he damn well knows what he's talking about and is willing to help others. A lot of the speakers were involved in this as well and it was beautiful seeing them all come together. I wish Merlyn and Cath every happiness in their future and that the God and Goddess bless them many times over!

After a short break and vaguely listening to most of the ritual team again in Meeting the Witches I headed for three hours straight of Tylluan Penry. It made my bum most numb as I was sat on the ground but she had lots of interesting things to say from Magic for finding a Phallus and losing it again, writing and on creating a personal mythology. As ever I learnt lots from her and have bumped Stephen King's On Writing up my reading pile. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her in the future on writing and possibly a book.

The rest of the day was taken up with food, a burning dragon, a slight near injury experience, good company and a relatively early night and might have actually got some sleep too!

Sunday brought one of the best workshops for me. Jane Meredith spoke on The Dark Goddess and myths and how she can touch our lives. It was really really interesting and  I really enjoyed it. A lot of it was a doing workshop, and we connected with others and looked at the dark aspects from our past etc. It was very opening and trusting. We also came face to face with the Dark Goddess in another later part of the ritual. The dark aspect of the Goddess is not one I have worked with but I think I might as it's a really interesting look at another side of my spirituality and also at myself and the moments where I have actually probably come across her without knowing it and knowing I can connect with her to get out of those moments. I bought her book later on which was kindly signed for me, and I spoke with her and she is a lovely lady. I look forward to reading it. I will probably do a more in-depth blog on this workshop later.

After yet another break, unfortunately missing Kevin's talk on Energy Work Based Healing due to Hannah and Hywell leaving early I headed to Steven Ward's Intro to elemental ritual work. In that he did a brief talk and then we did a ritual of what was basically the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. It was interesting as I've never done one before, it was quick and easy and it was a really nice thing to do.

I went to another talk by Pandora who did the one on Oils, this one was on Talismans where we created our own. I'm not so happy with mine but I know I can make another one! The information was given to us in an easily readable format so will be working on this in the future.

After a dinner break was the closing ritual. Once again I really enjoyed this, being with people who are all on similar paths working towards one goal was beautiful. The woman who lead the ritual seemed a little nervous to begin with, I am guessing it was her first on such a large scale but she did it wonderfully. At the end of the ritual we were each given a crystal as a memento, we had done a spiral dance to put energy into it to take away it was was brilliant. I ended up with mine in my bra until about Monday night so it now has a lot of personal energy in it too.

Then was the one thing I really wanted to do and was really looking forward to. The Firewalk Workshop. It was run by Oona McFarlane, a lovely Scottish lady who I could really connect with. The only things I have seen about firewalks have involved a lot of mental preparation before hand in an almost self hypnosis kind of way. Now imagine by "delight" when Oona said she didn't do that and that yes, we would be walking over hot coals, not imagining that we're walking over cool wet grass. Gulp! The first part of the workshop was a bit of a talk about how she got into fire, then we had a walk up to start the fire and putting in it things we wanted to be rid of or putting love and joy into it. And I can tell you, that fire was hot!! We threw incense on it next for another part to work towards or to gain from the fire such as peace, knowledge etc. The incense was amazing and I'm definitely going to need to get the recipe! We headed back to the lodge where we had a bit of paper and wrote down our goals, our vision of what we would be walking towards as we crossed the coals. Then came the arrows. The arrows were something to break through, with our necks. It was an odd thing to watch but when I realised there was no harm to come from it, I went and broke my own arrow to overcome aspects I don't like about myself. Then we headed up to the fire. It had burnt away a lot by now, and as they raked the coals I kinda wondered what I was getting myself into. I wasn't even sure if I was going to do it at that point but when I saw a friends 12 year old daughter practically dance across, I thought "well, why not." I walked the coals three times. And I got such a buzz from doing it. Definitely doing it again next year!

The night was filled with more socialising and a very late night. In the end I got 4 hours sleep on the last night. I went home exhausted but full of so many memories and laughs, knowledge and enlightenment and spiritually awakened.

Only 88 days until Witchfest in November when I hope to meet many of the same friends again.