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Change as a Natural Part of Life

February 1st, 2018

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

-George Bernard Shaw

 

In his CBC interview, historian Chris Kutarna argues that we are currently in the middle of a renaissance and a natural part of this is an element of disruption. Many of us live with a belief that things should stay the same. We stay locked into the nostalgic memories of times when we felt we understood life and how it works. The only truth I know is that life is always changing; it must adapt to grow. Because we are a part of nature, this is true for humans too. In the natural world, though seasons follow roughly the same pattern year after year, there are constant evolutionary changes happening at the DNA level to ensure that we can survive and thrive through the ages.

This past year, we’ve seen really massive shifts in the collective conscious of humans. The “Me Too” movement saw countless women and men coming forward with stories of sexual abuse, demanding an end to this type of violence in the world, for example. We saw things some of us never thought we’d see as a response to a shift in the world political climate this year. Some of these things brought out the shadowy part of the collective unconscious. While some people dismayed, I saw it as an opportunity to heal these shadow aspects of our species. After all, it is hard to heal something that hasn’t even been acknowledged. Bringing the shadow into plain view, though sometimes harrowing, can be a huge gift. Gael Carter and Marilyn Keffer speak about this in their guide to ceremony “Shamanic Ceremonies for a Changing World:”

“Some people like to focus only on their light aspects. Others pay more attention to the dark or ‘shadow’ aspects of self – those things that they have not yet healed. But the key for your self-growth and transformation is to attend to both your light and your shadow in a balanced way and to reconcile your shadow side, knowing that self-importance and self-pity are your greatest enemies and they can be vanquished.”

 

 

The psychologist Carl Jung popularized the idea of the shadow, the unconscious part of our psyches that we disown for various reasons. Sometimes this is because we don’t like those aspects of ourselves or then those qualities of ourselves are not validated in the culture we grow up in. If we don’t dig up those unconscious pieces, they often wreak havoc on our lives. If we don’t want them running the show, we have to go in and look at the lightest of our light (which many people also disown) and the darkest of our dark with compassion and ruthlessness at the same time–kindness for our humanity and decisiveness when it comes to changing our harmful patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and actions. Luckily, shamanic practice offers us tools in the way of drum journeys, working with totem animals, and ceremony to help us find those patterns and transform them.

In her landmark book, “Natural Born Shamans,” Imelda Almqvist speaks about the role that consciousness plays in healing wounding from the past: “I…teach the children ways of doing shadow work and how doing this heals all of our human relationships. This way, we learn that every story is ultimately one perspective, one point of view. At any given time we are free to choose another point of view. Choosing a different point of view will create a different story. Every story…can shape-shift…from a wounded or distorted perception to a healthier [one].” Many people see this as a type of revisionist practice where we change our histories at whim. However, what is to say that the way we interpreted these experiences in our past is the correct or best way? In every experience, we can choose to pull the power and victory we had from it. This does not negate the negatives that happened to us, but it does put us back in the driver’s seat in our lives. Sometimes, we need to stand up for ourselves and bring awareness to wrongs from the past in order to heal.

As a shamanic practitioner, I’ve learned that conflict is a natural part of life. In his book, “Lightningbolt,” Hyemeyhosts Storm speaks of the way the ancient Mayans saw confrontation: as one of the twenty Great Teachers of Life. Confrontation is not equivalent to aggression right out of the gate; it is about meeting an energy to bring a new awareness to a problem or issue. Confrontation has taught me to open up to inner truths and allow other perspectives in too. It’s taught me how to navigate conflict to come to a win-win for both sides. It’s also taught me to stand up for what is just. I’ve also learned that sometimes, win-wins cannot be found. Sometimes, people would rather hold a grudge than find a way to transform a situation. But even in those instances, I can still find a way to win inside of myself. I value that I have the ability to be all in and I have a high level of devotion to people, places, issues, and philosophies that I care about. I don’t give up easily. That, for me, is a win and a part of my light aspect that I honour.

This universal energy of chaos that we are in can be harnessed to promote transformation and change. I’ve had friends and family tell me that I’ve changed with that not-so-positive tone in their voices. I’ve had people admonish me for breaking implicit societal rules to favour my own health and sanity instead. Choices I’ve made to change harmful patterns in my own life inevitably cause ripples in the lives of those around me. Not everyone has been happy about those changes, but the truth is that I would be a shell of a person if I hadn’t been brave enough to make them. I refuse to live like a hostage to other peoples’ judgements of me. I’ve learned that I cannot change other peoples’ perspectives, but I can change my own. I can confront my own shadow continuously and shift the narratives I am telling myself about something.

In this time of sweeping changes, we can each learn to adapt, grow, and shapeshift out of old skin. Trying to control the arch of energy “out there” is futile. Becoming masters of our own inner worlds is the only thing we have full control over. We will make many mistakes along the way and things will most certainly not go the way we’d hoped or planned, but this is not a bad thing. We are all here to learn and grow. In 2018, my wish is that each of us can surrender to co-creating our lives with Spirit’s guidance. May we know ourselves so well that we can transform our shadows on a dime when called to. May we manifest the kind of world that can sustain life for many years to come.

Resources:

CBC’s The Current: “What the Renaissance Can Teach Us About Our Disruptive Age”

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-september-6-2016-1.3748863/what-the-renaissance-can-teach-us-about-our-disruptive-age-1.3748892

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About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Book Review:  DISCover the Power of You – How to Cultivate Change for Positive and Productive Cultures

by Robert Adams

According to the blurb on the back this book is for individuals who have a desire to better understand their own personality, people who may aspire to be come leaders in whatever field of their choice.

Full disclosure: I was asked to review this book by the publisher (Business Books, John Hunt Publishing ). In truth it is not a book I would have gravitated to all by myself. Having said that, there can be great benefits in being pushed a bit out of your “natural reading habitat”!

I found this book very interesting. For me it cast light on the issues of innate personality and leadership styles. Like most people I have always had a vague awareness that there are different leadership styles (and that those have both benefits and shadow or negative aspects) but I have never spent time really reflecting on what those might be and how it all hangs together when people work together in teams or office settings.

One quote the author features early on is:

There is no truth, only personality

(- Gareth Morgan)

This book helps you identify your own professional and leadership style. The DISC in “discover” – capitalized in the title – refers to Dominant – Influencer – Steady and Conscientious. (Read the book and follow the exercises if you are keen to figure out what type you are!)

I had an interesting time reflecting on my own leadership style and priorities (including the weak aspects of those) as well as on people I have experienced in leadership roles in various settings. There were some “aha!” moments!

I was telling my husband about this and he said: ” A lot of this is on the curriculum when you study economics and business administration” (his own degree and professional background). Fair enough but most creative/artistic/spiritual types like myself will never attend business school – so this book offers you some of those key insights as a DIY program.

The book then goes on to describe different company cultures and what characterizes them. This will help people identify what culture their personality is most suited to (assuming you have the luxury of choice when applying for jobs!) and is also helpful if you run (or intend to run) your own business as it casts light on hiring people with different personality types and strengths from yourself so you can complement each other.

All in all I found this a well-researched and fascinating book and I appreciated stepping outside my comfort zone when it comes to reading and absorbing new ideas!

Imelda Almqvist, 23 August 2017

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=211324

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

FREE “HARNESS YOUR CREATIVE POWER SUMMIT” WITH GUNHILD LORENZEN

http://www.gunhildlorenzen.com/imelda-almqvist-speaking-at-harness-your-creative-power-online-summit

 

I love getting books from authors I have not read before, as I have no expectations and can approach with a totally open mind. I was particularly looking forward to reading Imelda’s volume, as it deals with supporting the spirituality of younger people and children. Having children myself (and another on the way!) and remembering how my own spiritual journey stems back to when I was very, very young, I was intrigued to read the thoughts of someone who deals with this every day of their life.

 

From the start, Imelda’s book is very accessible. Although there are some parts which deal with practical shamanic work which will be of most use to experienced practitioners, Imelda is clear to point out which sections these are, and even so, as a ‘shamanic lay person’, I found these sections fascinating and enlightening.

 

I don’t want to hyper-analyse the contents of each chapter, as this will leave no beautiful surprises for you as you read the book. And believe me, there is surprise and delight throughout this volume. Imelda uses the phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ very early on in the book, and I immediately grinned, as we use this saying (and its follow up statement!) amongst our own tribe, as we allow our children to (within reason and safety) roam from homestead to homestead when we gather. I also resonated with Imelda exploring the idea that sometimes we strive for perfection as parents, without giving in to being ‘good enough’. I certainly struggle with this. Sometimes I feel like I am only just good enough. I need to realise that being good enough for my little ones is special, and not something to be criticised.

 

Imelda’s style is positive and direct, and she covers challenging subjects with a compassion and thoroughness which is so often missing today. Topics such as losing a child, either before or after birth, are often tip-toed around, but Imelda faces them head on and shows how the experiences can be understood at a deeper, spiritual level to help families heal. Imelda also writes at length and with authority on children with special needs.

 

One of my favourite sections was the examination of brainwashing and radicalisation. The sense that the separation from Divine Unity is occurring over and over made total sense to me.

 

I won’t say too much more as you really need to read this book. If you have children yourself, it is invaluable. If you know children, or are interested in shamanic practice, or simply have a keen interest in human nature and spirituality, you will appreciate the level of experience, knowledge, skill and compassion which shines from every page.

 

 

 

 

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Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of:

 

 A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

 

 

and

 

Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

 

 

Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Shaman1

 

The other day I was looking for some innovative session ideas for my shamanic group for teenagers. I asked my youngest son Brendan (13) for some suggestions. He said: “A session on the Spirit of Chocolate!” And he was not just trying to put chocolate on the menu, he truly is intrigued by sacred substances and how our culture has stripped them of their ceremonial use and made them ‘everyday items’ (also think of e.g. tobacco or alcohol). When I mentioned his idea to friends many wonderful links and esoteric information about a ‘Chocolate Goddess’ rolled in! We learned about the way tribal peoples use chocolate in ceremonies. As we were on a roll, I asked Brendan for another session idea. He instantly replied: “A session on the Spirit of Honey because it is a special substance in our world but an even more special substance, a luminous elixir, in other worlds!” I have invited a friend who is training in bee shamanism to be our guest teacher. Our curriculum for the Summer Term is shaping up nicely!

 

Time1

(Animal Healing Energy Raising.)

 

My three sons (aged 17, 15 and 13) are (what I like to call) Natural Born Shamans. In our house “where we lived before we were born” and “where we go after death” passes for normal dinnertime conversation. We also talk daily about the importance of spiritual hygiene, the principle of fair energy exchange, power theft and always listening to our intuition. It is my observation that shamanism, one of the oldest spiritual practices in the world, can provide a powerful toolkit – even save young lives – in today’s world of great turmoil and paradigm shift.

Let me introduce myself! My name is Imelda Almqvist. I teach shamanism and sacred art internationally. I am a painter, film maker and full-time weird mother. In 2012 my spirit allies urged me to start a shamanic program for children and teenagers. It sounded quite frightening and was the last thing I wanted to do at the time! However, I have learned to listen closely to Spirit so I did start this group and my own children called it The Time Travellers.

 

Time2

(Time Travellers Sacred Clown.)

My program provides safe sacred space for young people to create a spiritual toolkit and community. Here they can share things that their mainstream London schools do not exactly encourage. Over the past five years we have done sessions on a very wide spectrum of subjects: a spiritual toolkit for resolving bullying, animal healing , dream theater, a seminar exploring violence in films and the media, shadow work, creative writing, shamanic perspectives on death and dying with a field trip to the local cemetery, plant spirit medicine…. and so forth. I also have a community of wonderful guest teachers sharing skills I do not have myself.

 

Time3

 

(Time Travellers Plant Spirit Communication.)

 

The next thing my spirit allies demanded was that I write a book about this work. I didn’t think that any publisher would touch this subject (using shamanism with young people) with a barge pole – as I knew people who had tried writing about this and got reams of rejections. I said to my spirit allies: if you are urging me to write this book, I trust that you will help me find the right outlet for this book as well!! Miraculously the first publisher I tried (John Hunt Publishing) offered me a contract within one week of me submitting the manuscript. Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in August 2016.

I based chapters of the book on questions people from all over the world had been asking me for years. There was an ever growing volume of emails passing through my inbox from parents, teachers, grandparents, psychotherapists etc. I made sure that I answered all those questions in the book, meaning that people can find all the information in one place and use it as a reference book. I also included 32 session plans. People who do homeschooling for instance have reported that they find those lesson plans very useful. Colleagues are using the material for starting their own shamanic programs for children.

By summer 2016 the river of emails had become an avalanche. I was asked to be a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit hosted by The Shift Network. World-renowned shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman interviewed me as part of her online course in shamanic journeying there (http://shamanicjourneyingcourse.com/). I was invited to appear on radio shows and to speak at conferences. All those requests had one theme in common: “Please speak about your shamanic program for young people – it’s such important work at this time of turmoil and paradigm shift! And please speak about the importance of our culture rediscovering initiation and rites of passage too!” So I did.

 

Time4

(Time Travellers The Spirit of Music.)

 

 

I took some of the work on-line and started teaching on-line seminars for teenage girls aged 15 – 18 years. I called this program Daring Dreamers.

What started as a group of local children dancing around a fire in my garden (and that still happens!) became a book and now shows every sign of becoming a ‘global movement’ as an increasing number of people are using the material and discovering its life-enhancing (even life-changing) potential. I also run a Facebook Group called NATURAL BORN SHAMANS where anyone can share experiences or post questions. I invite you to find us and join!

Right now my group is working on a film for spiritual publisher Sounds True’s Year of Ceremony. I am one of the presenters and have been asked (once again) to focus on young people and future generations (as our children are literally everyone’s future because they are the Earth Keepers of the future). My own ceremony is called Drawing Down The Divine Child but my Time Travellers group has performed their own Full Moon Ceremony to reach out to children of the past and present who lead incredibly tough lives. Their film is titled: Our Human Family.

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

Maybe I should finish by saying that I also teach sacred art programs, in both Europe and the USA – I do not only work with young people! I will write more about other passions and projects here another time.

 

Time5

(Time Travellers Message in a Bottle.)

 

To cycle back to the point where this article started: my son Brendan wrote his own book about shamanism when he was just 8 years old. The title is THE LOVE HALL: Brendan’s travel guide to the best places in the spirit world. Signed copies cost £5 and they can be ordered directly from us through my website. It took the world of shamanism by storm and people said that Brendan makes shamanism both fun and easy.

You will find some useful links below this article!

Imelda Almqvist, London UK

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

 

Some useful links:

Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-Born-Shamans-Spiritual-creatively/dp/1785353683/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490455294&sr=1-1&keywords=imelda+almqvist

NATURAL BORN SHAMANS – The Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701396373471475/

THE TIME TRAVELLERS (about a spiritual toolkit for handling bullying)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTvsvWBGPIs

 

THE FOREST MAGIC OF A NATURAL BORN SHAMAN

In this short film Brendan (aged 12) is in a forest in Sweden and demonstrates how he works magic with materials he finds all around him because magic is our birthright and together with our helping spirits we can work miracles!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ousLzxLjflg&t=10s

 

Interview with Ruby

In this uplifting video shamanic teacher Imelda Almqvist interviews Ruby (15) and invites her to share her spiritual views and practices as well as a message for other teenagers who may be exploring their spirituality and looking for safe places to start or a community of kindred spirits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNPJlTAEsO8

 

PSCYHOPATHS AND PSYCHOPOMPS

In this video some teens and “tweens” share their perspectives on Death, teaching all of us some ;powerful lessons along the way!

We live in a youth and beauty obsessed culture. Collectively we are in denial about Death. This is one area where young people can lead the way and be our teachers by facing Death (and all the issues and decisions that surround it) head-on (and creatively, playfully!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1EG8DJZ3os

 

Marielle Smith inteviews Imelda Almqvist on Going Shamanic (Canada)

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pagemediaproject/2016/12/06/going-shamanic-children-natural-born-shamans

 

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Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages by Imelda Almqvist

In 2008 when I set out with my co-authors to write a book about doing shamanic ceremony with children and families, there was almost no literature on the topic–save Starhawk’s landmark “Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.” Since our book was published in 2012, many more authors have been responding to the immense need for these resources, thankfully. When I discovered Imelda’s book “Natural Born Shamans,” I was thrilled to see another shamanic practitioner working with children and youth who was also dedicated to adding to this body of knowledge responsibly. Throughout the book, readers are warned of some of the pitfalls in doing shamanic work with children, as well as, how to work around those thoughtfully and with respect for both the child’s sensibilities and the family culture. Indeed, I use Imelda’s book as a reference today for my own work with children and families. This book achieves its stated intent:

All existing societies and cultures were preceded by shamanic cultures, where people lived in close relationship with the Earth, the ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. Connecting with Spirit is our own birthright and the birthright of our children. As I hope this book will demonstrate, it can give young people an exceptional spiritual toolkit for life in the 21st Century.”

Imelda explores key spiritual concepts and tools in ways that children and families can understand. Some of these include: shadow work, death and change, shapeshifting, dreaming, forgiveness, divination, and taking one’s power– learning to wield it responsibly. Imelda brings her substantial experience working with children of all ages to this book. I’ve worked as an educator for two decades; it’s easy to see how certain activities can be adapted to children at different developmental stages. Parents who have raised children through different stages will, also, likely find this easy to do. In addition, Almqvist speaks at length about the importance of offering rites of passage ceremonies to children to support them in the many transitions they make during childhood. She, also, describes the adult’s role in guiding children on their spiritual path:

If we do not offer Rites of Passage, children will either fail to complete crucial developmental stages or they will place themselves in risky situations trying to create communities and initiations for themselves, such as through street gangs, joyriding, drugs, crime or alcohol.”

This book provides a compassionate and extensive look at issues facing parents and children in today’s world. It offers ideas for how to look at these challenges through a shamanic lens, introducing new possibilities for transformation that are holistic, healthy, and healing. Imelda’s approach enrols children in their own healing and shows them how to become more confident in who they are at their essence. Through Imelda’s personal stories, parents receive understanding and wisdom from someone who has guided her own children through spiritual and developmental transitions. If you are a shamanic practitioner interested in working with children and families, this book is a “must have” for your resource collection! It is full of great ideas and links to the work of other shamanic authors that inspire her work. It will spark your own imagination and creative juices! “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life” is published by Moon Books and widely available online. International shamanic teacher, Sandra Ingerman provides a wonderful foreword to this important book.

For Amazon Information Click Image

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About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For Amazon Information Click Image

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Book Review

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals & Spells from the Natural World”

by Judy Ann Nock

Published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Copyright June 2018

Pages: 240

This book is not intended to be another Wicca 101 book; rather think of it more along the lines of Witchcraft 3.0,” Wiccan High Priestess Judy Ann Nock wrote in her introduction.

Each of Its eleven chapters delves into a realm of nature magick including seed, air, sun and fire, the moon, Gaia, time and the cosmos.

The Realm of Water covers Wells of Emotion, Rivers and Oceans. Its 15 pages offer an introduction to water, a meditation, instructions for a ritual bath, a blessing spell and a spell for prosperity, along with directions for making herbal tinctures and an aromatherapy spray. All involve water in some way.

In Magic Takes Root: The Woodland Realm, Nock writes about nature being a powerful healer and the importance of staying connected to it, saying, “A simple ritual of walking in the woods, meditating outside of a building, or taking part in the currently popular trend of ‘forest bathing’ can calm the mind and bring about a state of peace.”

She offers a centering meditation done sitting at the base of a tree, and a ritual for creating a personal tree oracle – not to tell fortunes, but as a tool to “communicate with the elements of natural magic.” The ritual, the lore and the charm all work with the sacredness of trees, with reminders of our connectedness to the seasons and rhythms of the Mother, and our responsibility to be stewards of the earth.

Readers will be inspired to draw on the powers found in nature when doing magick, thanks to the variety of meditations, rituals, spells and charms. There’s a recipe for consecrated crescent cakes to have for the ritual of calling down the moon, a solar charm for strength, and instructions for preparing a candle for magick.

Some tables are scattered throughout the book with such information as healing herbs, planetary correspondences and spirit animals.

As promised, this book can help deepen a connection to natural magick and offer inspiration beyond the basics. While it wouldn’t be in my top 10 list of favorite magic books, it would make a useful addition the collection of an intermediate practitioner.

Nock is the founder of a goddess spirituality group and the author of “A Witch’s Grimoire.” She lives in New York City.

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals, and Spells from the Natural World

 

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About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

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