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motherhood

Witch & Popcorn

September, 2018

Bright Blessings, film lovers!

This month, I decided to review another classic film- Steel Magnolias.

Some have not seen it, as it’s set in the 1980’s in Louisiana. The film is all about motherhood, the cycle of life, death, and birth, and the power of women to support one another no matter what. I have never met anybody who did not bawl like a baby while watching this film, and it is one of the finest films ever made.

It’s filled with big hair, snark, shade, charm, love, and laughs. You will fall in love with the Steel Magnolias- delicate like a flower, and as strong as steel!

Here is the link to a trailer you can watch:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viYNlGoOQUE[/embedyt]

The story follows the lives of lady friends who gather at the local beauty salon, ran by Truvy, played by the divine Dolly Parton. While it appears to be the story of Shelby, played by Julia Roberts, it turns out, it’s more about her mother, M’Lynn, played by Sally Field. She is the main representation of motherhood in this film, and she plays a mother who raises her daughter Shelby, helping with Shelby’s health issues, even after Shelby marries, moves out, and has a child of her own. Unfortunately, Shelby’s body could not handle the pregnancy, and she eventually dies even after exhaustive efforts to save her. M’Lynn even gives Shelby one of her own kidneys.

What is the mother goddess if not life giving? Whose body do we live upon, and it is the fruit of whose body that feeds us? Whose waters quench our thirst, and to whose body do we return when we die? Who takes care of our children after we are no longer alive to do so, continuing to nourish them?

The great mother goddess! M’Lynn is the perfect embodiment of the lifegiving, healing aspect of the great mother.

Truvy, too represents that. She has her own issues, as her husband is struggling with a case of the blahs after being unemployed. She never gives up on him even when he holes up at the house, and won’t go anyplace. Her son, too has teenage attitude issues, and she still loves him in his rebelliousness. It turns out, her devotion to them was not misplaced, and her believing in them shows by the end of the film, the men in Truvy’s life are men who make life better for everybody. They just needed the understanding and support while dealing with their problems. Thanks to Truvy, they came out if their struggles whole, and better than ever.

The eternal compassion and understanding of the great mother carries us. Truvy embodies this.

She further gives a second chance to the heartbroken Annelle, played by Darryl Hannah. Annelle is abandoned by her good-for-nothing husband who is on the lam from the law, and when she can’t rub two nickels together, Truvy gives her a job, and a chance at a new life. Her whole life seemed over before being taken in by Truvy, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, everything begins again for Annelle, and she absolutely thrives.

Sometimes, the goddess takes a bad situation from us we have been holding onto, because we believe it is all we have. Once stripped of everything, we are given so much more than we ever imagined.

The comic duo of the film, Miss Clary and Miss Ouiser, played by Olympia Dukakis, and Shirley MacLaine bring the snark and shade, and keep everybody in stitches. The oldest ladies in the group, they are bound by adoptive sisterhood, and both jokingly verbally attack one another.

Initially, Ouiser is a miserable old hag who bitches constantly, and looks worse than she acts. Shelby plays matchmaker a second time in the film, this time bringing Ouiser back together with an old beau. Reluctant to give up her independence, Ouiser first INSISTS they are just friends, which is pure hogwash. Soonafter, Ousier becomes kinder, gentler, and significantly less irritable, and all because she is HAPPY. Clary remarks at one point, “Ouiser! You are in a good mood! Did you run over a small child on your way here?”

She was absent minded, careless, accident prone, and a pain to be around at times. She stressed over every little thing, and complained constantly. None of the ladies disowned Ouiser when she was at her worst. Truthfully, her worst was not THAT bad, but she WAS difficult to deal with.

The goddess in her wrathful form is only such for reason. She has a benevolent aspect as well, Ouiser shows both sides.

Like the goddesses destructive side can clear the way for the good to come, Ouiser’s dark irritability causes her to snap at Annelle and drag the truth of her situation out of her. Had Annelle not spilled the facts, the ladies would not have known to immediately band together to lift up Annelle in her struggles. Ouiser also shows the fact the goddess needs the love and companionship of others to be her best self. Her friends as well as her new beau embrace her eccentricities, and while they joke with her about it, reminding her she’s got that mean streak she needs to keep in check, they give her the love and support she needs to be her best so she can love and support others as well.

Clary is a rich older lady, and uses it to put herself in positions to benefit her community. She is a testament to the goddesses generosity, and like the goddess smiles upon her children, so did Clary.

There’s not things in the way of mysticism or lore in the film, but the magic of women channeling their inner goddesses to make their lives and the lives of their loved ones wonderful is the lesson this film has for us.

This film deals with the joys of new life through children, the pain of loss when they die, and the new hope new life brings.

Don’t take my word for how amazing this film is. See it for yourself.

Note- I am also aware there was a 2012 remake of it, and I think I have to nab a copy of that as well. It got multiple awards and got rave reviews!

Happy film viewing.

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Bringing up the Next Generation of Witches

August, 2018

Is it just me or did July fly by?

July was a month of learning with Little Bear. We spent time at the zoo, started making our favorite foods from scratch, and spent time in the Full Moon.

Little Bear shows signs of intolerance to food coloring and preservatives, so I am working on eating a more natural diet with the family. This has been tough because Little Bear loves colorful foods…think popsicles! I’ve also learned that Little Bear will eat almost anything if I let him help make it. This made me so happy! Kitchen Witch Learning Time!

First, we always start by adding lemon essential oil to the kitchen diffuser. It gives the kitchen a clean and fresh scent. It puts us in the mindset of starting fresh.

We always stir clockwise (deosil) to bring positive (or happiness as Little Bear calls it) to the dish and every one that eats it.

I made it a point to discuss the food that we use in every dish. I wanted him to be aware of how each ingredient grows, how it helps our bodies, and what the properties are. Some of Little Bear’s favorite foods are green peppers (high in vitamin C), black olives (bring good luck) and apples (promotes love).

In July, we made pizza twice from scratch and a batch of pickled eggs. Little Bear was amazed that we could create pizza at home. We also made a batch of breadsticks that he claimed were better than Little Caesar’s! While making the pickled eggs, it was fun to see his eyes grow large as he watched the white eggs change to purplish/pink. We decided that the pickled eggs had a bit too much vinegar for us and plan on trying a different recipe in August.

The zoo is always a tough place for me. On one hand, I hate that all these beautiful creatures are locked up but on the other, I am so grateful that the zoo can help these animals rise back from extinction. Little Bear pulls me from exhibit to exhibit, chattering about each animal. We discuss the animal’s markings, homes, and food they eat. As always there is a teaching moment to be found here. Totem/spirit animals have always held a special place in my heart. I love to teach about the strengths each animal has. At every animal exhibit, I would ask Little Bear what he thought made this animal strong. Some of the answers crack me up.

Lion = strong

Monkey = funny

Flamingo = balance

Tiger = playful

Goats = knows good food

Turtles = good at naps

After the zoo, we were able to celebrate the full moon. We started the night off with a bonfire, tinfoil dinner packets and s’mores. I was able to write down things I wanted to release and burned the papers. Little Bear was too young for this part, but he enjoyed finding sticks for the fire and helping me keep the fire going. Once the night turned dark and the moon shined bright, we turned on the music and danced in the moonlight. It felt amazing to be able to let go and just have fun. Little Bear’s laughter was contagious, and I didn’t want the night to end.

August is almost here, meaning that Lammas is coming. I have a lot of hours to work in August, but I am planning on making at least one loaf of bread and a batch of brownies. Little Bear has been begging for brownies, so now is a great time to make them. I am hoping to fit in a walk along a local Riverwalk. I also need to get my hands-on corn! This is the perfect time for sweet corn and living among farmers means we are able to get some of the best tasting corn!

Here’s to hoping that August doesn’t fly by like July did!

Hypnobirthing: The Final Result

February, 2018

(Image from http://www.kickscount.org.uk/hypnobirthing-hypno-hypyes/)

 

I promised that I would write a follow up to my first article about hypnobirthing, and truly expected to be doing this in the weeks directly following the birth. I realise, in retrospect, how foolish this was, as the sleep deprivation immediately following the birth of any new-born is quite debilitating!

Now I am approaching something akin to a routine (sort of; not really…) I’ve decided to come back to you to let you know how the techniques I discussed previously actually worked in a real-life labour situation.

Early Labour

My early labour wasn’t ‘as standard’ because I had to be induced, due to various issues including high blood pressure and pain from SPD. I had some mementos with me to make the delivery space my own; a charm woven by a family member; a rock from the beach; a shell. I wanted to remind myself of all the little things that matter to me, and my trinkets from nature always help to calm me. Plus, the element of water seemed appropriate for a birthing time; cleansing, renewing, and a reminder of the womb.

I was in the antenatal ward waiting to have my waters broken for around 18 hours, and during this time I re-listened to my birthing tracks, and tried to focus on what I would be visualising once the labour started. The visualisations we had worked on focused on removing yourself to a place in nature; a favourite place that would be calming and safe, although my midwife was keen to stress that you might forever after associate that place with labour!

Latent

So this is the early stage, you know the bit they always tell you lasts for hours and hours, mild contractions and so forth. They always tell you it goes a bit faster when you’re induced, but they fully expect to have to put you on an oxytocin drip to help things along, as well as breaking your waters. My labour this time went so fast that the drip was never needed. My waters were broken by two midwives at around 4.30am. The first midwife couldn’t quite manage it, as the baby’s head was so tight up against my cervix, they couldn’t get the ‘hook’ into a good position. A more experienced midwife took over and, ‘pop!’, painless but gushy, it was all over. For now. Within an hour, I was experiencing contractions.

I focused on the techniques I had been taught; travel to a favourite place, be there in your mind, be calm… and three, two one… relax. I breathed through the tension and found that although each fourth contraction or so was stronger, I could manage it the same way, and I was impressed how well I was coping.

Active

I was taken down to the delivery suite at 7.30am, and was already feeling like the contractions were very strong and very close together, however I kept zoning out, breathing, and above all just trying to focus on what I had learnt and not all the niggling anxieties that were floating around such as:

  • I’m needle phobic, what if I need to have the drip?
  • What if the pain gets too much?
  • What if I need to have an epidural? (Epidurals can be particularly problematic with SPD sufferers as you can over extend your pelvis and be in agony later on.)
  • I’m so tired; I can’t do this!

The relaxation techniques certainly helped, but nothing could take my mind completely away from these fears.

I was examined, and the midwife was surprised when she told me I was already six centimetres dilated; another midwife said I didn’t look like I was labouring at all! This was one of the impacts, and you have to be careful with this: you don’t look like you’re in as much pain as you really are. Because you’re focusing on breathing and taking your mind somewhere else, it can appear to medical professionals as if you’re not as far along as you are. You can appear calm and at ease, nut that’s because you’re keeping your mind quiet while letting your body do all the work!

Transitional

This is where I let go and lost focus. The baby’s head seemed to be pushing against my tailbone, which was agonizing, and I literally forgot to breath. The midwives had to tell me again and again to keep breathing. I was terrified. In hindsight, I think the reason I struggled at this point is because, as mentioned in the previous article, I had not been able to get to all the sessions on hypnobirthing due to ill health, so had not had the relaxation technique as ingrained into me as I would have liked. Also, the baby was coming so fast that I had very little time to recover from a contraction before it was all happening again!

Second Stage

The second stage of labour is where the baby has left the cervix and is on the way to meet us! It was literally seconds for me. It was traumatic, ridiculous, to the point that three midwives shoved a huge, soft mat under me in case the baby shot out, so it wouldn’t bounce! I’m not even joking. It hurt so much, but this baby was coming fast. Sophie, the main midwife, popped out to refill my water bottle as I was so thirsty, and when she came back in the head was out. Seconds later, the baby was born and they were passing her through my legs so I could see the gender. My little girl. Ember. Unbelievable. What a rush of emotion. A pure moment of magic.

Needless to say that during this few minutes of madness my hypnobirthing techniques did not get a look in, except perhaps that having been so calm and collected during early labour probably meant I had more energy at this point, which of course was a big bonus.

Third Stage

I had the injection to help hurry the placenta along; yeah, my needle phobia wilted in the face of wanting this to be over now, thank you very much. I still winced and cringed when they stabbed me though. One of the most bizarre experiences of my life was wandering around the delivery suite carefully clutching my own and Ember’s umbilical cord like a really gross string of pearls. There was the worry they were going to have to catheterise me and drain my bladder as the placenta wasn’t shifting. I focused, relaxed once more, and managed to expel it. Once last triumph for hypnobirthing, as by this point I was really exhausted!

If you’ve lasted this long through what has been, I accept, a pretty graphic description of giving birth, I hope you’ve gained some insights into the benefits of hypnobirthing. I only heard about it a couple of months before Ember was born, and boy am I glad I did. Yeah, there was still pain. Yeah, I had to stay in for observation, and I wasn’t magically recovered from my pre-pregnancy ailments. In fact, I was only allowed to go home on the basis that I was visited and monitored daily, and I wasn’t discharged from care for a good few weeks. But I can say that the labour was fast; there were no major interventions, and I didn’t have to have stitches, which I was really surprised about. I’ve also occasionally used the relaxation techniques since, to help me sleep, and on top of that, I’ve discovered I find it easier to meditate now, as if I’ve permanently trained my mind to relax more.

If you, or a partner, family member or friend are expecting a little one, it may well be worth asking a medical professional about being referred for guidance on hypnobirthing techniques. There are videos and testimonials online, but I found the guidance I received from my specialist midwife was the best. Whatever techniques you may decide to use, I wish you a safe and special labour, and joy in meeting your new arrival.

***

About the Author:

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 TwitterFacebook and her blog.

For Amazon information, click images below.

I LOVE ME TOO!

July, 2017

Middle Son (15) is a bit of a jester and trickster both. Whenever I tell him that I love him, he gives me a lopsided grin and replies: “I love me too!”

 

 

As well as funny I think this is actually brilliant as we are constantly being told that we can only love others in as far as well love ourselves. And if we do not love ourselves (wholeheartedly, sufficiently) our love for others becomes distorted because our own needs and unresolved issues colour the space. Manipulation and unresolved shadow material often comes into play, even if this is unintended and we are not aware of it.

Many of us grew up in families where love is not unconditional but conditional on us behaving a certain way and meeting the expectations of the parent, sometimes even living out the parent’s own unlived dreams. We grew up in families where co-dependency was rife and manipulation (trying to control both situations and people) the norm.

For some people I know being “loved properly” means arriving at a healthy degree of separation. A few months ago I asked the same son if he felt that “he receives enough love”. He shouted: “Too much!!” and ran off, slamming the door to his room shut behind him. After that moment , I have tried to give him more space and to be less openly affectionate with him. The cute blonde toddler that used to clamor : ”Cuddle me! Cuddle me!” has morphed into a young man who needs to leave the realm of home and mother to make his mark in the world.

That lack of “healthy separation” informs many key relationships in my life. I am very much ” my son’s mother”, I thrive in relationships where there is space, where it is OK to retreat and go silent, where it is OK to say that now is not a good time to meet or talk. Where my love for painting, writing, music and wide open space is understood and honoured.

 

 

I love the fact that my son has put both these dynamics into words, that he is aware of them and able to voice his needs. Loving ourselves – it is easier said than done isn’t it?! What does it mean to truly love ourselves?

In my perception of the world, love without a spiritual dimension often nosedives, crashes. There are many self-help books on the market that tell us to change our beliefs, to think positively, to use positive affirmations, to use visualisation to create desired outcomes and so forth. In my experience all those things certainly have their places and uses – but they cannot stand alone, they must be embedded in a personal cosmology and commitment to spirit (as we perceive spirit, a power greater than ourselves), a dedicated spiritual path.

Relationships with members of our family of origin often remain tricky and sticky for life because we are not given the space to change (and the changes we do make are frowned upon or ridiculed) and also because there are unspoken expectations and limits that erect a kind of trip wire between people. “Beyond this point expect hand grenades and landmines…”

Example: my own mother grew up as the child of a very abusive and manipulative mother who actively ‘broke her spirit’ (those were the words she used, her parenting goal) and made my mother her child servant: tending to her every need. This pattern carried on all through adult life. As a young child I observed my mother jumping in the car every time the phone rang with another demand from Oma (grandma).

My mother had been given a Roman Catholic upbringing (with a determined focus on self –sacrifice, putting others first and admiration for martyrs to the faith etc.) She truly believed that unconditional love meant meeting every single demand that Oma threw at her. Oma had many health problems (at least in part because medical issues were the legitimate road to attention from doctors, priests and her own daughter). I think you get the picture! My mother did not attend higher education. She chose not to work outside the home because “Oma and her three children came first”.

Oma died when I was 19 years old. Today my mother is nearly 79 years old and looking back on her life. One painful lesson I have had to learn is that loving myself means even operating a healthy degree of separation between my mother and me. Healthy boundaries that reflect the person I have become (I turned 50 a few weeks ago). My mother perceives those boundaries as me being a bit cold and distant. She has not done therapy. She has not delved deeply into the forces that shaped her own life and reflected on them. She prefers to think that “Life dealt her a pack of cards and she did her best with those cards”. She chooses not to see that she could have made many different choices along the way. Taking the role of victim (or “done to person”) absolves people from the need to take responsibility.

I myself actively choose to do a lot of work on family stuff. As a shamanic practitioner I am also very much aware of the pull of ancestral forces and unresolved ancestral issues expressing themselves through living members of families (often the most sensitive or psychic member of a family). I have chosen not to follow the “daughter sacrifices herself for her mother” dynamic or script. Even as a young child observing this, it felt all wrong to me. Instead I have worked on releasing and transmuting this from the family field. It is interesting too that I have three sons and no daughter – almost as if the Universe thought: “Enough of mother-daughter agony destroying lives. Let’s skip a generation….”

For my mother this is all very puzzling. After a lifetime of making sacrifices for others – who is going to do it for her as she navigates old age? An eldest and only daughter who lives abroad and works full-time is incomprehensible to her. And don’t worry, my brothers and I keep a very close eye on things, my mother is very far from abandoned and surrounded by wonderful neighbours and friends who also help her in many ways.

My mother is very affectionate. She tells me every phone call that she loves me. There are moments I feel like taking a leaf out of my son’s book and saying: “Yes, I love you and I love me too!” Meaning: if you truly love me, release me to my own dreams and calling, release me from the martyr archetype that runs so strong in you. Spare me your never-ending diatribes on working mothers (as the root cause of all evil in our society – in your perception) and take joy in my achievements.

This is all true, yet is also a simplification. Last year I published my first book (Natural Born Shamans, in English) and my mother has spent many hours with an English-Dutch dictionary, slowly reading many chapters of it. She does take pride in my creations – the ones that do not clash with her needs and values anyway.

 

 

Essentially I have two families. My family of origin with whom I am in relationship but operate healthy distance and boundaries. Then there is my spiritual family: the people I am thrilled to share the Web of Life with. These are the people who give me space, who encourage me to make choices that are good for my soul (not the easy choices that keep me stuck in my personal comfort zone). They are the people who truly rejoice in the things that make my heart sing – and this is mutual, I also give them both space and undivided attention in the right measure. I delight in their achievements, I will actively encourage them and cheer them on when they try new ways of being in the world. I feel no envy at their achievements – when they do something amazing I think: Road sign! If they can do it, maybe I too will try and succeed at something new. They are showing others the way!

It is only when we love ourselves that we learn that only very little other people do and say (even if they are talking about us) reflects on us. It reflects on who they are, where they are and the people they surround themselves with. These days I only take to heart feedback and constructive criticism from people who come from a place of love and wanting the very best for me. Not people who have not done any work on themselves.

I love you but I love me too!

 

***

 

About Imelda

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 

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

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

 

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

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

 

And she will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth

http://shamanismsummit.com/program/132

 

 

The Pregnant Witch

August, 2016

Originally written as a talk for the Pagan Federation Online Lughnasadh Festival 2016. Feel free to view the whole talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE5fPKOmp2k

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE5fPKOmp2k[/embedyt]

Lughnasadh is more or less the mid-point between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, and as such a point of transition, of change and of transformation. I’m going to talk to you a little bit about my own experiences with pregnancy, motherhood, and how my spirituality transformed alongside my own transforming body and mind.

It was a complete shock to me, finding out I was pregnant. I had experienced a few odd symptoms; dizziness, alternately low and high blood pressure, not wanting to smoke or drink any more. I didn’t read anything into this until my 2nd missed period. When the test came out positive, I just stared at it.

It was a difficult time. My boyfriend at the time, though thrilled 24 hours later, was either disbelieving or simply didn’t care. I remember feeling totally alone. Then my friend Jane came to visit, and I was reminded of the power of friendship, and the joy of having people in your life who simply want others to be OK.

I was pretty active in my magical group at the time. I remember when I had got together with Nathan’s dad, telling him he would have to be mindful that I took my practice seriously, and at first he was supportive, although there were often snide comments about dancing around naked, or having orgies; I’m sure you’ve all heard the like.

I immediately started to think of all the things I might not be able to do. Would I be able to go to coven meetings with a new born baby? Would I be able to practice magic whilst all hormonal from pregnancy? I’d never been pregnant. I had no idea what to expect, and no idea how it would affect my spiritual path or my magical life.

The answer is, pregnancy and motherhood changed me in a multitude of ways, but ultimately I am the same person with the same spiritual leanings, and if anything I feel closer to the world, to nature, and certainly to my inner child since having Nathan.

One of the things I love about being on my nature based path is the way it encourages you to notice the details in the world around you; the butterfly resting on a leaf; a cloud shaped like a dragon, or a sunbeam breaking through leaf cover. Having a child, and noticing how a child sees the world, is like having a direct line into that way of viewing the world. A child, especially a young child, is seeing everything for the first time. Everything is a joy, a treasure; a gift met with wide eyes and wonder. Walking the world with a child gives us the special pleasure of channelling this sense of newness. It gives us the chance to experience the world afresh, to almost begin anew.

Going back to my pregnancy, I found that there were certain things I couldn’t do, and certain things I could do better. I didn’t want to or feel capable of doing any focused intent work; no healing, no transformation and no spell work. I felt that my intent was too unfocused, and that the hormones raging within my changing body would not cope well with this. I was worried that my magic would go astray, and that I would not end up with the results I wanted. I felt like I had energy bubbling out of me, and that, in my mind, was dangerous. Once, near the winter solstice, I stopped in front of a charity shop window, eyeing up some rather beautiful festive decorations. I was about to check my purse to see if I had enough money, when a woman reached into the window to pick them up for a customer. I was angry, in the way you get angry with unfair situations, and immediately that this emotion was upon me, the woman dropped the decorations and they smashed. I remember walking away quickly, red faced and ashamed. I can’t say for certain that I had anything to do with that, but I felt responsible, and it put me off any sort of ‘spell’ work in case this ‘bubbling over’ of energy occurred again.

Although I pulled away from actual magical work, I found great solace in meditation, yoga and pathworking. My mentor did some wonderful guided meditations and pathworking with me, and I found that while I was pregnant the visions were all the more vivid, and the symbology that occurred seemed to have great meaning. I wrote everything down and found I had a depth of patience for analysing the visions that I had never experienced previously. I could now take the time to really go through the images ad figure out what they meant to me.

I had never done yoga before, but my friend gave me a dvd that was adjusted for pregnancy, an also had exercises that could be done whilst suffering with symphysis pubis disorder, which hit me quite badly during my second trimester. The pain was really severe at times, and I had to take time off work, which was not ideal.

Being able to meditate and do yoga made a huge difference for me. I suffer from depression and during my pregnancy it became quite severe at times. There was the combination of my physical discomfort with the SPD, a poor relationship with my then boyfriend which led to deep feelings of loneliness and disappointment, and the underlying depression that was always there to some extent. Finding that I did have an affinity for meditation which I had hitherto not really explored was a massive gift, and one I have treasured since that day.

I imagine that these findings would be different for everybody. I know some people become very vigorous and fit during their pregnancy, and therefore they may find a stronger spiritual connection with nature and the outdoors by going for more walks, and exploring their surroundings. Others may find themselves drawing closer to their covens or communities, whilst others may develop their solitary work to a deeper level. I think the latter is quite common, as when you are pregnant I think there are always times when you end up on your own, even by the necessity of needing space, so to be able to use this time and space to develop your own innate skills is fantastic.

Another aspect I had to be careful with was my herbalism. I had just started my herbalism course when I discovered I was pregnant, so of course had to be very careful about what remedies I self-tested, as the last thing I wanted to do was harm Nathan or myself. So ultimately, I stopped working with herbs, except for making lavender bags for friends and the like. I continued my studies without the practical side, and remember bawling out a lady at a craft fair for recommending a raspberry leaf product for pregnant women, without even realising that raspberry leaf is only indicated in the very late stages of pregnancy, to help encourage the onset of labour.

When Nathan was born, it felt immediately as though he had always been there, whilst at the same time being completely surreal. I really didn’t want to stay at the hospital. I wanted my own home and hearth, my ancestors around me; but of course, they always are, wherever I am. Hopefully you feel that too. I really, really didn’t want to stay in the hospital, but my blood pressure was high and I had a fever. Nathan wasn’t the most vocal baby, but of course one baby on the ward would start crying and it was like a chain reaction; the next baby would cry, then the next, and so on until the whole ward was a cacophony of wailing. It was incredibly depressing, and it was felt like it was just Nathan and I against the world. I should have realised that this was quite prophetic in a way, as it was only a few years before we were back to it just being me and Nathan again!

The first few weeks being home with him shot by in a sleep deprived blur. I was communicated with people in only the barest of ways, and although I was still in touch with my magical group, we hadn’t been together in a circle for a long time. I felt a yearning in my soul for something, and as is the way of things, something came along to fill the gap that had been developing.

Through friends, I discovered the Covenant of Hekate, and wrote a hymn, and some music, and found I was again exercising that part of myself which had been becoming lax and lazy. I could write in my journal while Nathan was sleeping. I could meditate during nap times. I was honoured to perform the Rite of her Sacred fires as a solitary practitioner the very first year it was a global event. I felt the energy of Hekate very keenly, and I do feel that she was a very strong presence during my early months of becoming a parent. I don’t think this is because she is a particularly motherly goddess at all, but I was at a junction in my life, a crossroads, a point where decisions needed to be made in order for me to keep moving forward, and Hekate is the goddess of the crossroads. Her twin torches light the dark roads ahead, and illuminate tired and clouded eyes. She is Enodia, of the ways; she guides but she also pushes us to find our own way; to open our own doors and combat adversity.

I was already devoted to the Morrígan, who also teaches us to combat adversity, albeit in perhaps a more confrontational way. I think it is very telling that at a time of fatigue and depression, when I couldn’t face confrontation head on, Hekate seemed to find me and remind me that there are other ways to move forward that don’t involve head on collisions or having to fight.

Once I had found my feet back onto my spiritual path, I found it easier and easier to write and record my experiences, until at last I was on the way to writing my first book. I would sit with Nathan in his sling, feeding, whilst I tapped one handed at the keyboard- not terribly good for my back, I grant you! But I began to be proud of myself for what I what achieving, and joyful to be able to combine this with spending so much time with my little one.

Now he’s six, and we are both busier than ever. I am technically a single mum now, although I live with my partner and his little boy, so we help each other out and the boys love each other to bits. I don’t hide my paganism from Nathan but I don’t encourage him to believe what I believe. If he asks me anything, I answer, and his own wonder of the world often leads him to the same conclusions as me about a lot of things. He tells me all the time that he sees spirits in the trees, or in the sky, and whether he is seeing these or they are just figments of his wildly over active imagination; well, I don’t think it really matters. He is comfortable talking about such things and that’s all that matters. If he didn’t mention them at all, I would be equally happy, as his path will be his own, and I certainly don’t expect it to be quite like mine, if anything like mine at all.

If I inspire Nathan in any way, I hope I will inspire him to be kind, compassionate, and caring; to be considerate to the world, to others both human and non-human, and to never judge others for the path they walk on unless it deliberately harms others.

If he asks me about magic, I tell him. If he wants to know why I call myself a witch, I explain this to him as well. Sometimes he wants to look at my wand, or my crystal ball, or my crystals, or my cards. He likes to flick through my books, and asks me to read him excerpts from the books I have written. But sometimes weeks will go by when we don’t discuss anything that could be considered ‘pagan’, and that’s OK too. But of course, we are always out and about, exploring nature, turning over stones, singing songs, listening to birds, watching squirrels, identifying plants; so maybe we are discussing pagan things every day, or at least the aspects of paganism that can benefit everyone, regardless of your spiritual path.

I hope my experiences of pregnancy and motherhood resonate with some of you. It’s not something I’ve discussed at great length before, but would be happy to answer any comments you have. Joyous Lughnasadh. Sláinte!