beginnings

Hedgewitch Days!

January, 2015

Picture perfect 2015!

Hi my lovelies,

2015 has come screaming in way too fast…time is certainly playing its tricks on this old Hedgewitch, who gave permission for time to speed up?

2014 was a year of excitement as my first book was published and everyone seemed to be moving! I moved house, as did both of my daughters, one at University and one with the 3 grandbabies to a bigger home, packing boxes were flying around the family like a bag of sweets! There is something wonderful about moving house. I know it is supposed to be one of the most stressful things you can do, however, I am a serial mover…the amount of houses I have lived in during my life almost total the years of my age…I always say that if I ever was to write my autobiography it would be called Gypsy Feet!!!

Moving gives you the opportunity for a fresh start, out with the old and all that…and I am all for fresh starts, something new coming into your life and the energy it brings can magically change the path you are on and the direction in which you are going. New surroundings, a new environment can herald in a wealth of new friends and neighbours into your life, and a new space to design and create. A new job can boost your confidence and expand your knowledge, a new baby is joyous with the prospects of the future all bound up in a cute little package all sweet smelling and adorable. Anything new is a big change that can take some adjustment but almost always brings wonderfulness to compensate for any inconvenience caused!

The new calendar year brings us the fresh start we sometimes need to kick us up the ‘you know where’ and move on to do ‘who knows what’!

Hedge 1

Although we celebrate our witchy new year at Samhain we all live in the very real world of ‘non witches’ who all start their year on January 1st…a new page of the calendar all blank and ready to be filled, and just like the calendar we have the chance, as the bells of Big Ben call in the new year here in the UK, to create something new!

I really believe that we have a duty to pass down something of ourselves to future generations, and ordinarily that for us Hedge witches would be a book of shadows. All of our magical thoughts, spells and rituals recorded for our use, and hopefully to hand down to someone who can carry on the traditions and teach the next magical weavers all the tricks of the trade so to speak. Recently, mainly through my page on Facebook, I have become more and more aware of the phrase, a picture paints a thousand words…and it really does! Nothing flows around social media faster than a beautiful or funny image, and no one shares around a post only of words. We all respond from our very earliest of years to pictures, in books, on the TV…we understand and learn by what’s in front of us, the sight of others smiles teaching us our first interaction with the outside world rather than the words we use or hear.

This thought returns me to the whole ‘moving’ thing again…I know guys, I do ramble on lol, stay with me now! When I moved in September last year, I finally got round to sorting out the 4 boxes of photographers, mainly left to me by my Mum when she died 12 years ago. Sitting on the floor deciding what to keep, and what may be relevant to my own children and grandchildren was an emotional task…There were photos of beloved family members, including my own babies, pets, obscure family members whom I struggled to remember, and many photos of people and places that must have meant something to my Mum that I had no clue about at all! Back in the distant past of no digital technology all records of that family member, holiday, birthday and school sports days were recorded on film, far removed from what we now hold in our hands to record images. These films were pot luck as down to the chemist or developer they would go, as you patiently waited to collect your photos without having a clue what was captured in those 24 images. At the moment of truth there was an excitement to see just what had been recorded, was there even one photo that didn’t have a thumb covering the corner, or wasn’t plastered with a sticker saying over exposed. To get a couple of good pictures out of one film was proclaimed a success, and there in your very own hands you were holding something that could be handed down to someone. These images, all powerful in their own way, were a traditional way of handing down the past to the future, from my mum to me. It is now in my hands to hand down what’s relevant and important to my children and grandbabies, phew…what a responsibility!!!

These days of technology, however wonderful they are, have mainly robbed us of the image in your hand moments. Everything is digital now, mainly on phones, allowing us to click merrily away, deleting as we go and only holding onto only the most pleasing of photographs. Gone are the shaky, overexposed thumb printed pictures of your seaside holiday, how I mourn those captured ‘human’ images….but I mourn the demise of the actual ‘hold in your paws’ photographs even more! When was the last photo you took on your phone printed out? How many times do we show people our precious grandbaby pics or our beloved pets doing something cute to others by handing over our phone? It’s so sad and, I for one, as much as I embrace the ease of new technology would like to propose the following idea for this New Year….the’’ Image Book of Shadows’’!

Hedge 2

It is my goal to create a book of shadows that talks to the future generation in the simplest language of all to understand, the language of images. So here’s the idea my lovelies… The book of shadows photo album…sectioned into the months of the year, or the 8 festivals, whichever you feel most comfortable with. Then click away! Take pictures of what matters to you magically…the sunset, a crow on a fence, new buds unfurling, the frost on the car, anything that calls to your magical side! Of course include what you hold dear, family, familiars etc… but focus these images on the magical side. Then regularly, say once a month, actually print out these magical images into something physical you can hold in your hand. Spend time in a comfortable place, candles and incense lit and ask as ever the Goddess, God and the elements for their guidance as you work. Create your Picture book of shadows by instinct and for each image write a line or two as to why this image is important, what it magically represents for you. Just a few words will do, the essence of the pictures will mainly speak for themselves. Try and include a front page though with a short paragraph explaining what it is you are doing and what year it is.

Build this book throughout the calendar year…It really is a wonderful way to bring a focus into making everyday life magical, as you will start to see meaning in all that’s around you, and want to record it! Then, when the time comes, and the future generations take up the baton of the path we follow. They will hold in their hands the world as it is around us, seen by our eyes, all the magic captured for them to add to and hand down themselves one day.

Well, my lovelies, I will shut up now lol…I wish you a magical New Year, wherever you are and as ever the brightest blessings and big hugs

Tink About It

May, 2014

Beginnings

 

A few days ago I was chatting with some pagan friends about our first steps on this path. I have always been interested in paganism, spirituality and related subjects. Due to all kinds of circumstances it lasted quite a long time before I acted on that interest. In the meantime I had read a lot of books. That’s always a good thing of course and I still read a lot about it, but the real first steps are when I started to act, to do, try out things I read about in the books, etc.

In the very first beginning it was a solitary path for me. I didn’t know anyone else around me, that was interested in these same things. No-one to discuss things, reflect on, etc. I was just following exercises from the books, already changing and adapting things on instinct that made it feel better for me. I learned a lot from this. Of course I made mistakes, but that was okay too.

In every book I read about ‘casting a circle’, but I couldn’t find the reason why it had to be a circle. I always try to find out and understand why things are done a certain way. Curious by nature I decided to find out by experience. I had already cast a circle before, and that felt good and safe. So the next time I cast a square, and then another rectangle, a triangle and an ellipse! The ellipse felt okay, more like a circle. The corners of the square and rectangle didn’t feel right, a bit uneasy, while the corners of the (equilateral) triangle felt somewhat better but still not completely like the circle. After these experiments I was satisfied for a while. Of course later things have changed. I found out other reasons why we cast a circle, and I learned about certain traditions that do use a square in ritual. But although I can look back and smile about my efforts then, I also see it was good to try and experiment with things. I still do, just on another level.

 

Not long after that I got access to the internet and one of the first words I put into a search engine was ‘heks’, the Dutch word for witch. Wow….!!! That got me quite some links to explore!  The next word was ‘witchcraft’, in English so that gave me even more results. I read, and read, and read some more. But I also found communities and forums, full of people that shared my interests. Beginners like me, but also lots of people with real experience. I absorbed a lot of info, but it was overwhelming and I lost my way a bit.

I found two Dutch forums, that have been (and in a way still are) very important to me; the WhiteshadoW forum and the Silver Circle forum. I met people there that I still have contact with, virtually and in real life. We had in-depth discussions, asked questions, helped each other, etc. It helped me find some direction in the wide variety of possibilities. I found out what worked for me, and what didn’t.

From time to time the WhiteshadoW forum organised forum meetings, often around a sabbat. The first one I visited was a Samhain meeting. During the day there were workshops to attend and in between we ate together, got to know each other, chatted, etc. There were also two book presentations. At that time a new Dutch writer, Susan Smit, had written her first book called ‘Heks’. It was about herself, a journalist that explored witchcraft for work and ended up being a witch herself. She presented her book on the meeting and answered questions. I still have my signed copy. Today Susan is a well-known writer and literary critic. She still gives talks about witchcraft too.

In the evening we did a Samhain ritual. It was my first ritual with other people and there were quite a few! I was a bit nervous and found the whole thing very exciting. I wasn’t the only ‘ritual virgin’ though. It was a wonderful ritual. Everything was explained and we were all involved. Afterwards we talked about the experience and of course later on the forum too.

 

The forums, internet-sites, books etc. had stimulated me very much, but I wanted more. On a meeting in a spiritual centre in Amsterdam I met a group of people that wanted the same. After a few meetings we ended up with 4 girls. We decided to start a study group with the purpose to do rituals together. We called ourselves “Witches of The Rose” after the spiritual centre (De Roos). In turn we hosted an evening and prepared a ritual. By mail we discussed what we wanted to do, who would bring what, etc. We did several rituals outside too. We all learned a lot form this period. We tried several things, wrote our own texts, adapted rituals we read or heard about elsewhere…  As a group we attended a special weekend that was organised to celebrate the opening of a new stone circle in Lochem. Beside our group there was a wicca coven present, a druid grove, a group of catholic witches and some solitary practitioners. We did a lot of rituals that weekend, led by the several groups in turn. Again a wonderful learning experience!

We all went our separate ways, but from time to time our paths cross.

 

After those beginnings I have done so much more, solitary and in many different study groups, covens and other gatherings. Still I’ll never forget my first steps on this wonderful path.

 

How did you start? What were your baby-steps on the pagan path?

I’d love to hear your stories!

Blessings!

Links & sources:

Musings From the Mossy Trail

January, 2012

New Beginnings

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

As the cultural New Year approaches, many of us look into our past and hope for our future with sincere longing and beliefs of what could be. Resolutions and goals are set now as they have been since the days of our ancient ancestors. For thousands of years, January has been considered a time of passage; an opportunity for new beginnings.

January is named for the Roman God, Janus, the god of doorways, transitions and change. Being created with two heads facing opposite directions, he is gifted with the ability to see the past with one face and the future with the other. This makes him the median of time, a catalyst of polarity.

While Janus is known to be custodian of the universe, his female counterpart, some say his wife, Jana, is the Roman Moon goddess. She is guardian of doors and the turn of the year, as well as Goddess of woodland creatures. As when dealing with all lunar aspects, she is largely associated with movement, as in emotional and spiritual growth, initiation, aging and death. Her animal is the peacock, whose tail has hundreds of eyes, thus making her a goddess of prophecy.

In keeping with our rituals of becoming, it is January 17th – 19th that we honor the ancient mothers with Feast of the Fates, the rulers of past, present and future. We honor the Greek goddess as Moirai, the Norse Norns, the Aztec Coatlicue, the Inca Pachamama and the Arabic-Sufi Manat. They are all that has been, all that is and all that must be. They enforce natural law and are as much a part of us as our own DNA. It is said that the fates are daughters of necessity and serve what must be dealt, whether that be with grace or fury.

May the Fates smile upon you with many blessings, may Janus open the doors in welcome and may Jana see you grow into the spirit you most seek.

Journey of a Witch

January, 2011

Beginnings

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

January is named after Janus, the god of doors, gates, time, beginnings and endings.
With his two heads he can see the past and the future.

He is also the god of economic enterprises, yet looking back at the past year and forward
to the new, little seems to have changed.

Beginnings can be wrought with the anxieties of the past.
Indeed the first day of January for many of us will not bring about the financial
peace of mind that we need.

If you are like my family, you’ve had to cut back on many things.
For Yule I made a tree instead of buying one.
We eat at home instead of out. We buy only things we really need and so on.

Janus is also the god of obstacles and with the economic atmosphere an obstacle
itself; it can be hard to breathe.

It saddens me to hear of people ending their lives. For people to see
suicide as a way out of a financial crisis is devastating for all.

When did life have a price tag?

Oh yeah, it does. From birth to death we pay.
Our debt seems endless even in death.

Societies all over the world, ancient and current have their status symbols.
Things that say “Hey I’m important look at me!”

But these are just things.
They are not us.

Or are they?

“This is not my beautiful house.”

We’ve created things that have become bigger than us.
In the West, money is the most sought after status symbol.
Expensive cars, homes, clothing, jewelry, and other material things
elevate the individual to a “higher” place in society. Emotional reactions to
people who have money can be very negative and self destructive.

In reality we are all the same.
Pagan, Buddhist, Jew, Christian- we all suffer.
And some of that suffering is by our own hands. By recognizing that we are more important
than the things we have (or don’t have) we’ve already overcome one obstacle.

The secret gate shrouded in mist yesterday may be in front of us today
beckoning us to enter.

Responsibility to happiness is our own. Money can absolutely be a factor in happiness.
When you can barely afford food and medicine or have to choose between the two, happiness
can be of little importance.

Yet, happiness is important.

Money, a caste system and other forms of separation; divides our humanity into pieces.

As our population continues to grow, we place great burdens upon Mother Earth’s resources.
We must decide what is truly important and meaningful in our lives.

My daughter is pressured by her 6th grade peers to get the latest cell phone gadget.
Materialism and consumerism all but consumes us.

It is so easy to get lost in the consumerism that is our society.
Media in every form with glitzy beautiful people and beautiful things knocking
on our conscious telling us clearly we’ll get more dates with this hair color,
this beer, this dress, these shoes…oh in these shoes? I doubt you’d survive!
No le gusta caminar. No puede montar a caballo.
Honey, let’s stay right here.

Make something.

Among his other duties Janus represents the city and the countryside.
In the old days our pagan folk made their own things.
Now many of us city dwellers (and country dwellers alike) buy things.
If we can’t afford them then we may feel inferior.

Everything has its place and buying is not a negative but there must be a balance.
People are not things and things do not represent a human being.

By opening this gate with love and compassion we can help make someone who is struggling
feel important; feel that they are loved. And we all want to be important and feel loved.
Yet, it’s not our cell phone, or our car or our clothes that make us human.
It is our ability to love and to give.

Be the beginning in January by giving.
During these hard times there is always something to give.
Gently used clothes you no longer wear, a homemade dish to a sick neighbor or if
you have some time, volunteer at your local animal shelter or other local charity.

The act of giving may not line your wallet but it
will enrich your spirit more than any cell phone can do.

And there is no app for that.