Thursday 14 December 2023


'The Wheel of Fortune' Tarot card from (L-R) 
The Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert,
The Witches' Wisdom Tarot by Phyllis Curott and Danielle Barlow,
The Mood Tarot by Natalie Meraki


I watched the livestream of my beloved friend's funeral

While a dear one held me as I cried

Then fed me,

And we talked and mourned and laughed together.


I wonder about this Wheel of Fortune we're all on.

Where is the up?

And when is the down?

Or is it all 

Just up and down,

All at once

And all the time?


There is no Wheel of Fortune,

No up then down.

There is just life:

Grief and love and laughter and tears

All at once

And all of the time.

Which is why - while it lasts -

It is all so damned precious.

Thursday 1 June 2023

The Month of The Rose

It's June, the month of the rose. I have been working magically with roses and their scent a lot over the last couple of years. I find their fragrance soothes, heals, nurtures. My work with rose has been to do with self-love and self-care, both of which can be a challenge for me! Taking time to sit with rose, meditate while inhaling her fragrance, drink rose-petal or rose-hip tea, cleanse and anoint myself with rosewater, light a rose-scented candle whilst enjoying some quiet me-time... all these things help to calm and centre me, whilst reminding me to take care of myself. 

Rose is heart-healing medicine in the emotional sense. I work with her to refill myself when I've been pouring from an empty cup for too long, and restore my emotional equilibrium. Roses have soft, gentle petals, generous blossoms and nourishing rosehips but they also have strong stems and defensive thorns. Rose is sweet and generous, but no pushover. She reminds that self-care is not only about softness but also about boundaries.

I wish you could smell the gorgeous fragrance of this particular rose, it's absolutely wonderful. Perhaps you can go and find a fabulous rose of your own to sweeten your day. 

Sunday 14 May 2023

Messages From the Universe

Things On The Blog have been pretty quiet lately, mostly because Things In Real Life have been anything but quiet. IB and I find ourselves with three elderly parents between us who are increasingly reliant on our help with day to day living. As they become less able-bodied and begin to struggle with cognitive issues we've taken on more and more caring duties. It's been one of those situations that has rather snowballed in recent months, in that what was initially just a small amount of extra work has begun to seem all-encompassing. I work days and IB works evenings so his Mum - who now lives with us and is physically very frail - always has someone at home with her if she needs anything. My parents only live a 20 minute drive away, but they are also increasingly reliant on my help so I have had to drastically cut my work schedule so that I have enough time to assist them. Our social life has pretty much shrunk to zero, and we don't even get to spend that much time with each other. 

The last few weeks have been especially stressful, with lots of medical issues and appointments for all three parents, a blizzard of paperwork and officialdom to deal with, the death of several household appliances (why do they all break at once?) and all the kind of SNAFUs usually thrown up when Mercury is in retrograde. I find myself fantasising wistfully about going on retreat - or even just running away for the afternoon to sit in blissful peace in the woods. 

Yesterday as I walked to work after parking the car I was feeling incredibly stressed and overwhelmed by everything, wondering if I am actually strong enough to cope with it all. Part of the pavement was coned off due to some kind of groundworks in progress, so I stepped out into the road to go around the obstruction. As I did, I spotted something on the ground. It looked like a shell, and I wondered how on earth it had got there - and how something as fragile as a shell has survived lying in the middle of the road. I nearly stepped over it, but curiosity got the better of me and I picked it up, expecting to find it was actually just a pebble that looked like a shell. Yet as my fingers closed around it, I realised it really was a shell. 

Now I should mention at this point that this isn't the first time I've found a strange object in my path. I call it pavement divination - when I find these oddities I think of them as messages from the Universe and pay attention to what they may be telling me. A while ago I was working on self-care and heart magic and I found a tiny 'Ace of Hearts' charm in my path while walking to work. I took that as a sign of encouragement that I was on the right track. And of course, there was that whole dead frog thing many years ago. 

I turned the shell over in my hand, and saw that it was filled with cement. I think it had come from  the hard core that had either been excavated during the groundworks, or was waiting to backfill the hole. It seems incredible to me that something as fragile as a shell - even one filled with cement - could have survived being dug up, knocked about, and thrown down onto the road in a town centre. And yet here it was, nestled in the palm of my hand. It had sustained some chips and scratches, but it had weathered it all. 

I smiled, closing my fingers around this small miracle, this battered but resilient treasure. If this small shell can endure the tough times and come out intact then so can I. 

And then the Universe sent another message. As I straightened up, a car horn sounded behind me, reminding me I was still standing in the road. I turned to wave an apology at the driver, only to see it was one of my closest friends driving past and waving in greeting. This is a friend who has always been there for me, someone who I know has my back and who I love dearly. Of all the cars that could have driven by at that moment... It seemed like the Universe wanted to remind me that not only am I resilient enough to get through this challenging period, but that I am lucky enough to have wonderful, loving, supportive people in my life.

My miracle shell is now on my altar, and I will keep it as a token to help me remember in the tough times that I am stronger than I think - and that I am not alone.      

Thursday 20 April 2023

A Lesson from Blackthorn

I love all the contrasts in this photo - white blackthorn blossom against black twigs, the softness of moss and sharpness of thorns, a muted palette of black/white/khaki with a bright splash of warmth and colour from the sun.

Blackthorn blossom is in full exuberant froth mode right now, brightening the hedges and thickets. It's strange in a way that a tree I experience as having a such a dark, Scorpionic energy to it can have such pretty, delicate flowers. Yet I've recently realised that this is part of blackthorn's magic. I've always associated blackthorn with protective, defensive magic (the ThriftWitch Home Protection Charm uses blackthorn). The thorns are so sharp and tough, it's used extensively as stock-proof hedging, and the hard wood was used to make shillelaghs (Irish fighting clubs) for self-defence. 

Just the other day, blackthorn taught me another lesson about self-defence. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and a thicket of flowering blackthorn was looking gorgeous. I decided it would make a great photograph. Yet somehow I couldn't find a good place from which to take the shot. From far away, the blossom lost impact through the camera lens. Closer to,obstacles in the way spoilt the composition. Finally I decided to clamber inside - no easy task, given those thorns - to get a shot of the mass of flowers against the blue sky. But once inside the thicket, the flowers became invisible against the brightness of the sky. No matter how I twisted and turned, I could not get a photograph of them. Frustrated, I climbed back out assuming I'd just picked a bad spot without flowers, but it was immediately clear that there was in fact an abundance of blossom - it just became invisible from inside the thicket.

And then I got it: blackthorn is the Queen of defensive magic. Hiding in plain sight is the very best kind of defensive magic, allowing the eyes of your enemies to pass straight over you, keeping you safe from harm with the minimum fuss and effort. 

What a wonderful reminder that we have many tools in our kit bag. Sometimes we need thorns, but sometimes it's much simpler than that. 

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Embracing Autumn: Cosy

Last week's golden Indian Summer weather has turned into blustery winds and lashing rain. This morning when I went out to the chicken run, the storms had damaged the overhead netting that protects our flock from buzzards and goshawks. Slipping in mud and squinting through rain-splashed eyes, I struggled to tie everything securely back into place, with cold slippery fingers.

How delicious then, to come back into the warm house, cast off my sodden jacket and boots, towel my hair dry and curl up with a hot cup of coffee and a few pages of a good book. 

This is definitely one of the great pleasures of Autumn and Winter. Cold, wet weather and short, dark days make one truly appreciate cosiness. The Danish word 'Hygge' is often now used in the UK. As I understand it, its one of those words that has no direct English translation but it's usually used (in English) to mean cosy or comfortable. It's a good word, but I have to confess to loving the English word 'cosy', which seems to have been a little bit pushed to one side in the enthusiastic  embracing of 'Hygge'.

When I hear 'cosy' I think of curling up under soft quilts and blankets, sitting round a crackling log fire with loved ones, a gentle candlelit glow, a warming mug of hot chocolate, fleecy slippers and snuggly scarves. It brings memories of the nights when, as a very small and sleepy child I was wrapped securely in a fluffy blanket for the journey home from my Grandparents' house. It makes me imagine hibernating animals in their dens, overwintering safely and securely through the harshest weather. It makes me eager to dig out sheepskin boots, favourite jumpers, quilted coats.

Here's to being cosy - one of Autumn's great pleasures.

Embracing Autumn: Lean Into Cosy

As Autumn winds begin to blow and the temperatures start to drop, embrace the opportunity to make life more cosy.

  • Reacquaint yourself with flannel shirts, chunky sweaters, woolly socks or tights, comfy cardigans, boots, slippers, velvet and corduroy...
  • Put a soft blanket or throw on the sofa so you can cuddle up under it in the evenings
  • Enjoy candlelit evenings and early mornings
  • Swap frappuccinos for cappuccinos, iced tea for steaming mugs of tea, chocolate milkshakes for hot chocolate and whipped cream...
  • Enjoy a log fire in the hearth, or a bonfire in the garden
  • Cosy up your home with increased insulation, thick curtains, draft excluders etc
  • Pile up your bed with cushions, throws and blankets
  • From within your snuggly sanctuary, listen to the rain against the windows and the wind in the trees, and appreciate the simple blessings of 'cosy'.              

Friday 17 September 2021

Embracing Autumn: Scarlet and Crimson Treasure

As we move further into Autumn there are more and more splashes of red to be seen in the trees and hedgerows. The rowan berries are the first, in August, but as September progresses they're joined by rosehips, haws, the berries of honeysuckle, and nightshade - and of course, unripe blackberries.

Bright scarlet rowan berries hang in distinctive clusters, in contrast to the crimson haws which are distributed much more evenly amongst the hawthorn foliage. 

In the hedgerows hereabouts there don't seem to be many rosehips - but there is a huge crop of haws. Some claim this signals a harsh winter ahead of us, but I tend to think it's more to do with favourable pollination conditions back in the spring when an exuberant froth of blossom covered the hawthorns.

I often think of the hawthorn as being the epitome of spring - its bright green leaves are among the first to break when the world begins to green anew, and the appearance of its flowers usually coincides pretty well with Beltane. Yet at this time of year when its leaves have darkened to glossy forest green and rich red haws jewel the hedgerow it is a striking feature in the landscape. In spring hawthorn seems full of lively joie de vivre, perfectly matched to the festivities of Beltane. As we approach the Autumn Equinox, its energy is of quiet, benevolent dignity - and generosity. There are enough haws for both us and the birds to enjoy - take advantage of this bounty and go foraging. 

Embracing Autumn: Hawthorn Brandy

Haws can be used to make many delicious edibles - jam, jelly, syrup, chutney, wine etc. Just Google 'hawthorn recipes' and you will find lots of inspiring ideas to make the most of your foraging. One of the simplest recipes of all is Hawthorn Brandy. If you've ever made Sloe Gin it's made very much along the same lines -  but everyone makes sloe gin, so why not try something a little different instead?

After picking your haws, pick them over and wash and dry them. Put them into a plastic bag and place them in the freezer overnight (this will soften them and begin to break down the skin so that their flavour will infuse the brandy effectively). Weigh the haws and put into a Kilner jar or similar tightly-lidded wide-mouthed container. Add sugar (half the weight of the haws), a pinch of cinnamon and some lemon zest. Pour over enough brandy to completely cover the ingredients, fasten the lid on tightly and shake well to dissolve the sugar. Store the jar somewhere dark, allowing the fruit to steep in the brandy for at least a couple of months (better yet until Yule). Shake the jar regularly. When enough time has passed, strain out the haws and lemon zest and bottle the flavoured brandy. Enjoy!  


Saturday 4 September 2021

Embracing Autumn: Read A New Book Month

I just discovered something wonderful about September - apparently it's officially Read A New Book Month, which gladdens my little bookworm heart no end! Not that I need much encouragement to dive into a new book in September, or at any other time of year for that matter. 

A couple of my recent favourite reads are 'A Spell In The Wild' by Alice Tarbuck, and 'Where The Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens - both of which I wholeheartedly recommend. I also really enjoyed 'The Lilypad List' by Marian Van Eyck McCain which I picked up on a whim when I discovered it in a local telephone box which has been converted into a book swap library. These ingenious little libraries are popping up all over the place - hopefully there is one near you. If not, perhaps you could be the catalyst that gets such a local scheme going? Thanks to the Global Educational Trust, there are also free book shops in locations across the UK which quite literally give away free books in an attempt to keep them out of landfill and improve access to reading. And let's not forget our wonderful public libraries which still exist in many places as a means of access to books despite horrific cutbacks and closures imposed by Tory austerity. 

When buying books, please consider buying from a small independent bookshop whenever possible. Jeff Bezos really doesn't need any more of your hard earned cash - he'll only fritter it away on spaceships. You can find your nearest here, or shop online here

Embracing Autumn: Read A New Book

As well as curling up at home with your latest book, you can also make reading a more social activity by 
  • Joining (or starting?) a book club
  • Reading with your children
  • Swapping books with friends
  • Asking friends for book recommendations/sharing your recommendations with others
And if you find a new book that you absolutely love - please leave a comment on this post letting me know about it! I love getting book recommendations and hopefully other readers of Moonroot will find it helpful too.