Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Out With The Old, In With The New

As the end of 2008 becomes imminent, I am consciously thinking about new starts. What do I want to shed, what do I want to invite in and nurture in my life?


Big changes are afoot - both material changes and more subtle ones. I have finally filed for divorce - although I knew this was the action I would ultimately take, I didn't want to rush into it without sitting with the idea for a while first. It felt important to let the notion sink in, to initiate things from a place of groundedness and centredness. I have finally arrived at that place, and the wheels have been set in motion.


The kitchen at Halfway Up A Hill is at last being renovated - after eight and a half years of making do with the grotty badly fitted kitchen that was here when we arrived. Of course the reason for this sudden progress is so that the house will be more saleable when that time comes. But in the meantime I will relish having a halfway decent kitchen. Who knows - I may even become keener on cooking!


And I am getting a new car.



It's farewell to my faithful old Escort - sadly becoming too expensive to keep patching up - and hello to my new Suzuki Alto, which I will be getting in just over a week's time. This is a smaller car with correspondingly lower costs (cheaper tax, lower petrol consumption, and hopefully less running repairs). I am sad to see the Escort go, I have had it since 2001 and it has always been very reliable, starting first time every time even if it has been standing out in the cold rain for a week.

How strange that all this is coming at once. All of these things have been in the pipeline for a while, but somehow it feels like gears are changing, things are falling into place and I am accelerating into 2009.

Last year I wished fervently for 2008 to be an improvement on 2007, which I described as feeling like a constant uphill struggle. Strangely enough, although 2008 has also turned out to have contained more than its fair share of doom, gloom and disaster for me and my loved ones, somehow I feel that a corner has been turned, and life whilst not exactly a bed of roses is certainly not an uphill struggle.

This evening as I went out to shut away the chickens and geese, a beautiful sliver of new moon was gleaming in the sky. I kissed my hand to her, and wished for a bright future.

May we all have a bright and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Things I Have Learned This Year

As the end of the year is fast approaching, I thought it may be wise to look back and take stock of what I have learned this year - which includes, amongst other things:

  1. I really love knitting.

  2. I can make a great risotto - except when I am trying to impress friends who are round for dinner, when it magically morphs into bland stodge.

  3. Sometimes life is weirder than a soap opera.

  4. I enjoy planning seasonal rituals.

  5. True friends rally round in times of crisis - and sometimes you don't realise what a true friend someone is until then.

  6. I may be the only woman in the world who can't stand Sex and the City.

  7. Waterproof mascara is worth its weight in gold.

  8. I can wire a plug.

  9. How to play Chinese Chequers.

  10. Goslings grow really fast!

  11. Bruce Springsteen is just as wonderful live as I always imagined he was.
  12. The weather is completely unpredictable.
  13. Chocolate Tiffin could well be the most delicious foodstuff on the planet.
  14. Things are never so good they can't turn bad.
  15. Things are never so bad they can't get worse.
  16. Things are never so bad they can't get better.

What have you learned this year?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I Live in a Beautiful Place

Last night as I drove down dark country lanes on my way home from a planning meeting for next week's Winter Solstice ritual, the moon rose, huge, yellow, serene. So beautiful I had to sing to Her as I drove.



This morning, the land was again white with frost and gold with early sunlight. Every surface was edged with tiny twinkling ice crystals. The sky was blue, with clouds as soft and white as angel wings.


I live in a beautiful place. When we first moved here, I wondered if I would become immune to the beautiful views, if familiarity would breed if not contempt then perhaps indifference. But that has not happened at all. I am still often halted in my tracks by the beauty that surrounds me here, Halfway up a Hill.

Yet the moon would be just as beautiful viewed from an inner city window, the frost just as magical. Even the most uninspiring ingredients such as motor oil and a muddy puddle can combine to produce glorious swirling rainbows.


I live in a beautiful place - but then again, we all do.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

One Sweet Blog Award


And my final blog catch-up...

Thank you so much to Lee at Solstice Dreamer for nominating me for this award. I'm late picking up on it but hugely grateful!

I have to list seven things in a number of different categories.

7 things to do before I die
  1. Watch a tennis match at Wimbledon
  2. See the Rubinoos live
  3. Learn to crochet
  4. Get Herbert to let me stroke him (he now comes in the house to visit but is still too wary to let me get close enough to touch)
  5. Visit the amazing Goddess temples in Malta
  6. Write and publish a book
  7. Plant more trees

7 things I do now

  1. Sing along with the radio
  2. Luxuriate in the bath
  3. Make jam
  4. Blow a kiss to the New Moon when I first see Her
  5. Make my own compost
  6. Make soup
  7. Enjoy Sudoku

7 things I can't do

  1. Play a musical instrument
  2. Tango
  3. Make a souffle
  4. Abide Jeremy Clarkson
  5. Ice skate
  6. Sneeze quietly
  7. Understand cricket

7 things I find attractive in the opposite sex

  1. Kindness
  2. Nice eyes
  3. A sense of humour
  4. Intelligence
  5. A social conscience
  6. A nice smile
  7. Honesty

7 things I say most often

  1. "S***!"
  2. "C'mon girls!" (to the cats)
  3. "Take care!" (when parting from someone or finishing up a telephone call)
  4. A vast selection of expletives other than "s***!" - I am someone who does believe in swearing
  5. "D'you know what I mean?"
  6. "Brilliant!!!!"
  7. "Hiya!"

7 celebs I most admire

  1. Joss Whedon
  2. Bruce Springsteen
  3. Maya Angelou
  4. Stephen Fry
  5. Susan Sarandon
  6. Errr....

7 favourite foods

  1. Prawns
  2. Spaghetti & home made tomato sauce
  3. Cashew Nuts
  4. Moules Mariniere with crusty bread
  5. Chocolate
  6. Hot Bakewell Tart & Cream at the Owl & the Pussycat Tearooms in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
  7. Lemon tart or my Mum's Lemon Flummery (like a tangy lemon mousse - to die for!)


As I've already done a lot of nominating in the last couple of posts, for this one I'm going to just say I nominate everyone on my 'Family, Friends and Favourites' blog roll, and if you read this and would like to join in - well, consider yourself nominated too!

Tree of Happiness Award


Continuing to play catch up on the blog, I find I have been tagged by the lovely aromatic at Winds of Change, who has awarded me the Tree of Happiness. Thank you!
The rules of the award are:


  • Link to the person who gave the award to you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • List six things that make you happy.
  • Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  • Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
  • Let the person who awarded you know when your entry is up.

It's always a good exercise to focus on the positives in life, so with no further ado, my six happy-making things are:


  1. Spending time with my loved ones - blood family, chosen family and friends. I am especially looking forward to spending Christmas with my loved ones this year.
  2. Going to Witchcamp! Next year's will be Avalon Spring in late May, a beautiful time of year. We will be working with the Charge of the Goddess back at our old familiar venue, the lovely Earthspirit, near Glastonbury. Can't wait!
  3. Watching my chickens. They are so interesting and so entertaining as they eat and drink and scratch and socialise and explore. And it has been wonderful watching the ex-battery hens blossom and thrive.
  4. Tai Chi. I have mentioned before the positive effect it has on my mood. I've noticed that even if I'm feeling really depressed and sad, my weekly lesson never fails to pick me up. It's strange as I'm really not an exercise lover - I loathed PE at school and spent a great deal of time evading it whenever possible. Later, I went dutifully to aerobics classes but never enjoyed them and always left feeling exhausted - I thought I was immune to the 'exercise high' that others seem to get. But after a Tai Chi class I feel stretched (literally and metaphorically), energetic and positive.
  5. Craft activities. I love getting totally immersed in the creative process, and I especially love recycling something old/broken/tatty/useless into something new and beautiful.
  6. Harvesting food I have grown and making it into a tasty meal for my loved ones. I often say I don't like cooking - by which I really mean cooking and eating alone is not something I find pleasurable, it feels like a chore. And frankly, I get sick of my own cooking. Yet harvesting food I've grown feels like a real achievement, and preparing food for others is a different matter, a pleasure indeed. And when the garden suddenly throws up something unexpected - say a glut of broad beans or courgettes - then by necessity my cooking becomes inventive and suddenly it's fun again!

My six nominations are:
  1. Brett at This Guy's Journey
  2. Boho Mom at Words from a Bohemian Mom
  3. The Awakened Heart - if she has time to do it, having just moved home
  4. Sleepy Kitty at From the Windowsill also sounds very busy, but I hope she'll find time to do it too
  5. Breezy at Breezy Break Blog because she liked the last meme I passed on to her, and she's been quiet of late...
  6. The Kitten's Mother

Monday, 8 December 2008

Green Meme #1



I have been rather remiss in my blogging of late and have a few bits to catch up on! Here is the first - I was tagged for this Green Meme by The Awakened Heart, way back at the beginning of last month (oops).


The rules are quite simple:

1. Link to Green Meme Bloggers


2. Link to whoever tagged you


3. Include meme number


4. Include these guidelines in your post


5. Answer questions


6. Tag 3 other green bloggers.



Green Meme #1:

1. Name two motivations for being green
My first motivation is my love for the Earth - I'm not sure if loving the Earth made me a Pagan or if being a Pagan makes me love the Earth. But either way, love Her I do, and that is motivation enough to be green.
Secondly, I can't bear waste, so re-using, repairing, recycling, re-vamping etc is just part of my nature.

2. Name 2 eco-unfriendly items you refuse to give up

The cats, and books/magazines.


3. Are you at peace with, or do you feel guilty about no.2?
Guilty. But not too guilty.

4. What are you willing to change but feel unable to/stuck with/unsure how to go about it?
I want to change my car to a more economical, eco-friendly model, but I know absolutely nothing about cars and I'm worried I'm going to choose wrongly and end up with a lemon!
In my wildest dreams I think about selling Halfway Up a Hill and building an eco-house, but it seems like a daunting project in terms of money, time, and lack of expertise on my part.

5. Do you know your carbon footprint for your home? If so, is it larger/smaller than your national average?
I'm not sure what it is, but I calculated it about a year ago using one of those on-line calculators, and it was definitely below the national average.

6.What's eco-frustrating and/or eco-fantastic about where you live?
Living out in the countryside I tend to use the car a lot more than I'd like, which is frustrating.
But living somewhere I can breathe clean air, and grow my own fruit & veg and keep chickens is wonderful.

7. Do you eat local/organic/vegetarian/forage/grow you own?
Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. But not necessarily all at the same time, and not necessarily consistently. I try to buy local and/or organic food, but sometimes there is an inevitable trade-off between ethics and price. Or sometimes the organic stuff has been flown in from half-way across the world. In those instances I tend to prioritise local - or at least UK-produced - above organic.
When I signed up to the River Cottage 'Chicken Out!' campaign I promised myself that from now on I'd only eat free range chicken, and I've been pretty good at sticking to my guns. To compensate for the additional cost, I now eat chicken less often, with more vegetarian food between times.
I had been vegetarian for over ten years, up until a couple of years ago when I started craving meat and decided my body was telling me something. So I have eaten meat for the last couple of years - and now I'm not really wanting it so much any more, so I'll probably go back to being properly vegetarian in the near future.
I love foraging for wild foods - fungi, berries, wild garlic, crab apples, rose hips, sorrel etc.
And of course I grow my own veggies and fruit - although the last couple of poor summers/poor harvests have been a vivid example of how difficult life could be if I relied totally on my own efforts for food.

8. What do you personally find the most challenging in being green?
The feeling that it's an up-hill struggle to convince the rest of the world that it's most desirable, yet really not hard to change to a greener lifestyle.
And not letting despair at the size of the problems facing us take over and push me into apathy.

9. Do you have a green confession?
When we first moved to Wales, T built me a 'green washing machine' - basically an old hot water cylinder with the top cut off. A heating element heated the water, but all the swooshing and washing and rinsing of clothes was done by hand, and I also had a mangle to squeeze the water out of the clothes instead of a spin-drier. I did all our laundry like that for over three years, but in the end I caved in and we bought a conventional washing machine.
The problem with the Moonroot-powered version was that doing the laundry took so darned long. Doing the laundry just for the two of us took one full day a week. If we had kids to wash for too, I'm sure I'd have been begging for a conventional washing machine within weeks!

10. Do you have the support of family and/or friends?
Yes, by and large. Many of them clearly think I'm a bit of a crank, but I try not to be preachy and they are supportive in turn - albeit sometimes in a bemused way. And occasionally I get asked for advice or someone proudly tells me they've started composting their kitchen waste or changed over to low-energy light bulbs and I feel like I might just be having a positive influence!

I now tag Lee at Solstice Dreamer, Leanne at Somerset Seasons, and Willow at Contemplating Change.

Frost Photos

Sunday's frosty morning was all white and gold in the slanting early light...










Friday, 28 November 2008

November Morning





'Beauty before me,
Beauty behind me,
Beauty to my right side,
Beauty to my left side,
Beauty above me,
Beauty below me;
I have beauty surrounding my life'.
- Donald Engstrom-Reese



Monday, 17 November 2008

A Little Loosening of the Pincers


As The Griffin pointed out in a comment on an earlier post of mine, we Cancerians tend to keep a pretty tenacious pincer-grip on things. In that post I was musing about uncharacteristically just letting go and going with the flow, being open to change and possibility. Then again, although I may have Sun, Venus and Mercury in Cancer (and Scorpio rising), they are offset to a certain extent by my Aries moon, so it is possible for me to be impulsive at times - at least in theory!

Maybe that's the reason, or maybe this is, or maybe it's all just part of my current process; whatever the reason, I am beginning to feel OK about letting go of the past, and perhaps more importantly also the future that I had imagined lay in store for me. I am realising it's OK not to necessarily know what's in store. In particular, Donald and Deborah's comments on the same earlier post made me see this time of uncertainty as a chance to reset my course, and to realise I am not a helpless victim of external forces. I have important choices to make, but I have the luxury of time to make them in - and if at the end of the day I find I don't like the road I'm on, then I'll choose another.

Perhaps the black pit of depression I fell into recently was the last stand of control-freak-Cancerian Moonroot refusing to let go. I'm not sure. Maybe in time I will have a clearer overview of my emotional journey during this period - for now it's enough to just ride the storm without drowning.

For the time being, I'm pretty sure that another reason for my new perspective is due to having spent the last few days helping my brother (who has also been going through some big life changes), move into his new home. I feel like he is where I hope to be in the not-too-distant future, making a new start in new surroundings. His new home is beautiful, and I felt an itch of excitement and envy at the prospect of making such a fresh start. I also felt the mixture of relief and poignancy as he shut and locked the door to his old home behind him for the last time.

T house-sat while I was away, and coming back I was a bit apprehensive. Every time I see him, when we part I experience loss and grief all over again. Having been so depressed only too recently I wasn't keen to find myself there again. Yet when T left, I felt only the mildest twinge of regret. He was here, and he's gone - and I'm OK. That is huge progress. It seems I am adjusting to and coping with my new circumstances after all.
Pincers hold tight and securely, but wielding them is also about knowing when to open and flex to allow for adjustment and change. I'm loosening mine so that I can get a better hold on my new life. It's good to find that after holding on tight for so long, they can still be flexible after all.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Struggling

Does grief get harder to deal with as we get older? I have been through bad, sad, dark times before, yet I am absolutely certain that I have never before experienced the depths of depression and despair that I have felt of late.

Perhaps it's so bad this time because divorcing T means not only losing my husband, but also my home, my lifestyle, and to a certain extent my sense of self. So I suppose it is no wonder at times I find myself floundering in hopelessness.

My theory is that the brain goes into a kind of numb shock at times of great distress or trauma. Feelings are to a large extent blotted out by this shock, as a means to keep the body functioning and surviving. The problem comes when a little time has passed and the numbness wears off, and the grief comes rushing back in. I have noticed a pattern of feeling better for a few days, feeling stronger and positive about the future - and then crashing back into despair as another wave of grief sends me reeling.

In the better times, I remind myself that this is all part of the process, all part of the healing. The grief is coming in because my mind thinks I'm ready to deal with it. I have to feel it and acknowledge it for it to begin to heal. Suppressing it is always a bad move - it will catch up with me sooner or later! In the bad times - well, if I can, I just tell myself to breathe through it, know that it will pass. If I can't even manage that, I just cry. A lot.

Since being back from Kevin & Ann's, I have been crying a lot. I think the contrast of spending time in a house full of friends, talking and not necessarily focusing on the divorce, and then coming back home to an empty house and reality was too much. Unfortunately, I didn't see it coming and the crash was jarring.

On a lighter note, the last couple of days have been better. My Tai Chi class seems to help immeasurably, and the sun has been shining the last couple of days too. So I am on enough of an even keel to think about writing this.

One of my faults is that I find it hard to ask for help. It's not that it hasn't been offered - I have had so many people offering help and support that I have been truly amazed. Even if I'm not reaching out for the help offered when I'm feeling down, just knowing that it is there is wonderfully comforting. So if anyone reading this has offered help of any kind, and I haven't responded - it has most definitely been appreciated. And when the struggle gets easier and I have more energy than just basic maintenance level - I will take you up on your offers of help, company, fun, food or whatever.

Thank you!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Moonroot and Roots

[The photo shows part of a wrought iron gate in the garden of my grandparent's house in Essex]



Driving back to Wales from Essex, I took a bit of a nostalgic detour for the first part of my journey. From Maldon, Woodham Mortimer, through Danbury (where I first laid eyes on T when he was best man at Kevin and Ann's wedding), on to Great Baddow, where T and I first lived together. From there via Galleywood (where my cousin still lives) I cut across the common to Margaretting, down Maldon Road where my grandparents lived when I was young, past Margaretting school where my father went as a child and on to Ingatestone where I and my siblings went to school. From Ingatestone to Mountnessing with its distinctive windmill and so many childhood memories, before finally joining the A12, M25, M4 and back to Wales.



From weatherboard, pargetting and thatch houses to stone and slate cottages. From flat open fields and the big skies that inspired the likes of John Constable, to hills, valleys, waterfalls. From meandering lazy willow-lined rivers to tumbling trout streams. From a land of flint and clay to one of slate and clay.



I now call Wales home, but really, is it? I have lived here now for eight years and in that time I've made a conscious effort to really put down roots. Roots are very important to us home-loving Cancerians! But I sometimes wonder if I really have roots anywhere.



I was born and raised in Essex, as were my parents. But every one of my grandparents had come to Essex from elsewhere, their families originally from London, Somerset, Wales, Scotland, France. So I'm only second-generation Essex. Compare this with my neighbour from a farm just up the road from Halfway-Up-A-Hill. His family have lived on and farmed that same piece of land for eight hundred years. Eight. Hundred. Years. I find that continuity extraordinary. And I have been here in Wales only eight years! How can I possibly call it home?




I also lived in Australia for eighteen months, where I made a conscious effort not to put down roots as I knew we wouldn't be staying (very hard as rooting seems to be my default setting), yet it was still a place I came to love. I feel connections still to Melbourne, to Essex, and now to Wales.



So where is home? They say that home is where the heart is, but I find my heart scattered all over the place. I have dear ones in Essex, in London, in Kent, in Somerset, in Wales, in Australia, in America. They all have pieces of my heart... And now T has gone, is my heart still here at Halfway-Up-A-Hill?



Actually, it is becoming clear that whatever happens, I will have to move on from Halfway-Up-A-Hill. Without T, in the long run I will not be able to manage here on my own, either financially or practically. Sure, there will be a divorce settlement and T will provide for me financially, but it will not be practical to stay here. And perhaps a new start, new surroundings would be healthy. But where should I go? I think I shall probably stay in Wales, given that I have begun to feel part of the community here. But actually, in some respects, the world is my oyster. I could settle in Wales, or decide to explore Costa Rica. I could dig in for the long haul or pack a few belongings in a knapsack and follow my feet to wherever. Do I in fact, even need roots in one place?



As with most of my life at the moment, there seem to be more questions than answers. But at least that means that there are also choices, and opportunities, and the chance to start over. Which can't be bad.

Hallowe'en in Essex



I had a wonderful Hallowe'en weekend in Essex visiting my dear friends Kevin & Ann.
We carved pumpkins and planned treats for trick or treaters...
We walked Sancha the labrador puppy in the woods, fields and by the lake, enjoying brilliant autumn leaf colours under sweeping Essex skies...
Charlotte baked yummy gingerbread pumpkins and 'spiderweb' cupcakes for us...
10-year-old Mikey went trick or treating (dressed as a Jedi knight!) and came back with plenty of sweeties to share around...
We snuggled up in the lounge to watch Hocus Pocus and drink mulled wine as a constant stream of trick-or-treaters in fabulous costumes called by...
I learned how to play Chinese chequers...
Ann kept us well-fed with her delicious cooking (I have brought home her recipe for roast parsnip soup!)...
And we talked, talked, talked, about good times past and those yet to come...

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Samhain

This is my Samhain altar.

I am going to be away visiting friends in Essex for Samhain itself (sadly missing the Carmarthenshire Pagan Community ritual as a result), yet it just wouldn't be right not to have an altar dedicated to my Beloved Dead at this time of year. A bit like not having Christmas decorations I suppose!

I wrote last year about the form my personal Samhain ritual normally takes, so I won't repeat myself. But I will suggest you take a look at this video, of the Bay Area Reclaiming community's Samhain Spiral Dance ritual. This event has been held annually since 1979, and now attracts hundreds of participants (including this year, my friends Georgia, Anne-Marie & Will). I just can't imagine attending a ritual that big - the energy must be amazing. Perhaps one day I shall be able to attend. Or perhaps one day, there will be a Spiral Dance in the UK. Oh well, I can dream...



Samhain Blessings to you.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sugarfrost Flowers

Like most of the rest of the UK, things have turned pretty wintery here at Halfway up a Hill. Last night we had our first frost of the year, a pretty heavy one for the end of October.



This morning the few remaining flowers in the garden looked as if they had been sprinkled with sugar...










Saturday, 25 October 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award


Livia Indica has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award on her NeoPagan Ink blog. Wow, thank you! I'm so flattered to be awarded this.

Now I've got to nominate 6 others and list 6 things I like.
In no particular order I nominate:
  • mccabe at Dancing Mermaid for her amazing photos, poetry and joyously creative spirit
  • Jackie and the Gingers at We Three, Ginger Cats Tales - stunning photography and a poetic telling of what it is to be a cat
  • Snapper and the Griffin, for quirky photos and gorgeous tales
  • Fiona at The Cottage Smallholder for writing like a dream and managing to make even me, who really doesn't enjoy cooking a whole lot, want to take up my garlic press and wooden spoon and get creating deliciousness
  • Mike at Team Spirit for sharing his funny and intriguing novel with us, and
  • Juliet at Crafty Green Poet - truly creative and lovely poetry to boot!

And I like:
  • The smell of lemons (I use lemon essential oil to clean my kitchen!)
  • The art of Andy Goldsworthy
  • Snuggling up in front of the wood burning stove with the cats on a chilly evening
  • This song (which I never get tired of)
  • Earl Grey tea - something about the scent always gives me a little lift
  • The Tai Chi class I've just started taking. I'm not a great fan of exercise - never have been - but Tai Chi makes me feel really energised yet calm.

Have a nice weekend!







Thursday, 23 October 2008

Playing Tag...


I have been tagged for a meme by Jane at The Winds of Change. It's the 'Six Random Things' meme, which I did a little while ago. At that time I mentioned that I love memes, so... I'm going to do it again!!

The rules are:
  1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Hmmm, six random things - here goes...

  1. My first car was a little red Mini called Eric (I hope I'm not the only one here who names her cars!).
  2. T and I lived in Australia for 18 months when he was working over there. We were based in Melbourne.
  3. Moonroot is my magical name, which I received when I was initiated.
  4. I just love browsing round second-hand shops, charity shops, car boot sales, Ebay. I like the idea of giving things a new lease of life, re-using, repairing, mending, making over into something new. Almost all my clothes are second-hand (what do you mean, you could tell?!).
  5. I don't have a favourite colour - it varies from day to day, according to what mood I'm in.
  6. I had porridge with golden syrup for breakfast this morning.
Well that's another six!

In turn, I tag:

Livia Indica at Magic in These Hills,
Sleepy Kitty at From the Windowsill (if she can fit it in before commencing this year's novel),
and Reya at The Gold Puppy.

Thanks Jane!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Something To Look Forward To...


Avalon Spring 23 - 28 May 2009
A 6 day residential intensive in witchcraft and earth based spirituality in the Reclaiming Tradition.

Listen to the words of the Great Mother... and so it begins; our journey into this beautiful and profound piece of liturgy originally written by Doreen Valiente that embodies most witches’ concept of the many faces of the Goddess. Her many names come to us through time.

At Avalon Spring we will celebrate the divine spirit of ourselves with the Charge of the Goddess.
Gather with us to do the work that calls us at our 11th residential intensive at Earthspirit, a residential retreat centre just outside of Glastonbury on the edge of Compton Dundon village in Somerset.
All traditions welcome!

Dorm Place, £450-£600
Camping Place £350-£500
Cost includes breakfast and two vegan/vegetarian meals served daily.

E-mail:
avaloncamp@gmail.com
Website: http://avalonspring.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Inspired


I decided that instead of untidily spreading my craftmaking activities all over the house, I should set up a dedicated workspace. So in the spare room, I have put a work table and T's computer chair. I've brought the radio with me, and a few boxes of materials. And inspired by the view (I chose to position myself in front of the window with the best views over the valley), I have been painting, moulding, stitching, knitting, threading, glueing and generally getting creative.

Well, wouldn't you be inspired by this view?


This is one of the results. I had intended to paint a relatively simple Egyptian 'Eye of Horus' design on this wooden box. But somehow, my fingers had plans of their own. It seems to me that the best things I create have a life of their own, inasmuch as the inspiration for them seems to come out of nowhere, while the logical side of my brain shuts off and gives my fingers free range to do what they will. At such times the results surprise me and I think, 'I didn't know I could do that!'.
Anyhow, surprising me as much as anyone, this lovely mermaid/sea Goddess is now wrapping herself seductively around the contours of the box. She will be appearing in the Etsy shop as soon as she's finished, along with the rest of my latest creations.
Wow, the power of an inspiring view!


Sunday, 12 October 2008

This Morning, Halfway Up a Hill...


This morning, Halfway Up a Hill, early morning autumn mist was gradually giving way to sunshine.



Webs frosted with dew hung everywhere, catching the slanting early light.




Leaves glowed in their closing splendour, awaiting the final tumble to earth.



Bear pondered, inscrutable cat thoughts.




Sunny the gosling, now fully grown, stretched out his wings and legs, felt his strength, ate his breakfast, and knew that life is good.


Gossiping around their feeder, the chickens reached a similar conclusion.



And Moonroot felt her heart begin to heal, just a little...





Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Blessed



The last few weeks have been a challenge for me, there is no doubt about that. And yet, somehow the sadness and pain I've been experiencing have brought into sharp relief the counterbalancing positives in my life.



The photo above is of an altar I have created on a dresser, to remind me daily of how lucky I am. Every item on the altar - apart from the crockery (which was there already) and the mini-cauldron (which has a heart-healing spell in it) - has been given or sent to me over the past few weeks by friends and family, to let me know they are thinking of me and wishing me well. Their gifts and kind words and thoughts and prayers are a balm to my sorrow.



When the chips are down, I know they are there for me, whatever happens. And that is more precious than I can put into words.


I am more than lucky to have such people in my life, I am blessed.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Etsy Additions






An unashamed ad for my Etsy shop - I'm adding lots more items this afternoon. Please feel free to stop by for a browse: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5418915.








Saturday, 27 September 2008

Autumn Equinox




Gathering in the temple, we created elemental altars together. One each for earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Draped cloths in each of the four quarters, plus one in the centre of our circle were adorned with flowers, crystals, feathers, candles, shells, incense... The temple space was cleansed with incense and salt water. We cleansed each other and entered...


Together in our peaceful sanctuary, we grounded, cast a circle and invoked the elements, Deities and other Mysterious Ones.


In this time of balance and change, we wrote on leaves those things we would shed and cast them into the cauldron to be transformed. In this time of harvest, we took apples, naming them for those things we would gratefully reap and take with us into the dark half of the year. In this time of community celebration we gifted eachother with hazelnuts, naming them for the blessings we would wish on eachother.


In this time of Autumn Equinox I gathered with good friends in celebration, shed my fears and tears and grief, held on to my hopes and blessings, and discovered all the good things others wish for me. In this pause from routine, this place of balance between light and dark, summer and winter, when day and night stand as equals, I felt the shift and realised that both balance and change are necessary.


The universe is in a fine dance between stasis and chaos. And so am I. This time of upheaval in my life may well turn out to be a blessing. I am certain that it will be a time of growth and learning.


Blessed Be.


P.S. Paul's account of the ritual is here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Open All Hours

I have been thinking about opening an Etsy shop for a while now, through which to sell my masks and other craft items. Now it seems a better idea than ever, as an independent income has become a pressing concern of late.



So... [drumroll]... I hereby announce the (not so) grand opening of my Etsy shop. I will be adding more items over the next few days, so please stop by and have a look. Any constructive criticism gratefully received!



And if you should need a mask for Samhain (or any other occasion!) - well, now you know where to come. Have a nice day!




Sunday, 14 September 2008

Moonroot and the Moon


Last night the skies were clear, and the almost-full moon spilled her light on a landscape of black-and-silver. As I drew the bedroom curtains closed Halfway Up a Hill, I could see mist hanging in shimmering swathes in the river valley below. A tawny owl quavered.

I got back out of bed and pulled the curtains wide open. I would not have done this before, for fear of the brightness disturbing T's sleep. But now it is just me and the moon.

I bathed all night in her sweet, pure light. It felt soothing on my eyelids, comforting to my bruised heart. I slept deeply, peacefully, and awoke refreshed.

From now on, I will leave the curtains open and welcome the moon into my bedroom. Because I can.

Friday, 12 September 2008

A Long Overdue Thank You!



Rather belatedly, I'd like to thank Andy at The Spiritual Journey of a Somerset Pagan, and Livia Indica at Magic in These Hills for nominating me for the 'I love your blog' award.


Many, many thanks to both of you for the honour! I love your blogs too, so it means a lot that you would pick me.

The Rules for those receiving an award are:

  1. The winner can put the logo on their blog
  2. Link the person you received the award from
  3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
  4. Put links of those blogs on yours
  5. Leave a message on the blogs nominated


My nominations include some lovely blogs I've discovered in recent months. I send awards showering down on:

  1. Mitchell Mutt at The Book Rant, whose posts are unfailingly short, to the point and hilarious;
  2. Mimi at Little Sips of Tea, a delicious comfort-blanket of a blog;
  3. Rima at The Hermitage, a magical wonderland of quirky creativity;
  4. Mike at Team Spirit because I am so enjoying Drood's adventures and can't wait for Chapter 8;
  5. The Awakened Heart, down to earth, spiritual and often downright funny - lovely!;
  6. Aims at Big Blue Barn West - Aims' moving story is so beautifully and honestly told I am quite addicted;
  7. Paul at Moon and Raven, because it's always well-written, thought-provoking and he covers such a diverse range of subjects.
I'm really surprised how easy it was to pick seven - how hard to stop at seven, in fact. It goes to prove that there really are a lot of wonderful blogs out there to enjoy. I recommend all of the above for your viewing/reading pleasure.