A few months ago I went into the forest with my friend and witch Erzabeth Svedlund. She’s responsible for the captures of me in my natural habitat, I’m responsible for the edits.
A few months ago I went into the forest with my friend and witch Erzabeth Svedlund. She’s responsible for the captures of me in my natural habitat, I’m responsible for the edits.
I captured this photo over a week ago. I was feeling creatively dead, and of 300 or so photos taken during a three hour walk in the woods, this was the only one I kept. The others were so freaking bad I felt embarrassed to keep them on my memory card and deleted them fast.
I’ve always thought it to be beautifully eerie to be able to sight the moon during daylight hours. After I captured this shot, I stood and watched her for about ten minutes. She made me feel kind of alright and had me shrug off my low mood.
I soon found myself thinking about a book my mother used to own when I was growing up. She might still have it tucked away in a dusty cardboard box somewhere where the ghouls gather at the back of the attic. (Seen as though I’m here, I might as well have a look and see if I can unearth it.)
It was called Moon Moon. Written by Anne Kent Rush and published in 1976 it was a magnificently heavy, passionately researched book all about the moon and the relationship women have with her. While it might be a bit outdated, if you’re interested in moon worship it’s a must-have.
When I got home – I could still see her from the kitchen window – my curiosity was ignited and I went in search of moon quotes. Here’s some of what I found…
“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls. ”
— George Carlin
“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.”
— Sylvia Plath
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
— Mary Anne Radmacher
“She didn’t quite know what the relationship was between lunatics and the moon, but it must be a strong one, if they used a word like that to describe the insane.”
— Paulo Coelho
My shop A Living Witch is a treasure trove of wyrd things for wyrd people. Some of the things I part ways with have been found during thrifting adventures…
I was on my way to the library the other day when my heart said ‘stop by the thrift store…’ Never one to ignore my precious organ, I made a detour. Once inside, my sixth sense led me to the home ware section, where I found three Konge-Tinn napkin ring holders in immaculate condition. I scooped them up, knowing that I’d found something very fucking special.
My research told me Konge-Tinn translates to King’s Pewter, and this special, Viking era pattern circulating the holders had been in use – and celebrated in Norway and across the world – since 1958. One source told me these date back to the 1960’s…though another one said the 1980’s. Either way, they’re probably the most epic looking napkin ring holders you’re going to find. Buy them here!
As well as thrifting for my shop, I also made things. We’re hardly out of winter and already I’m missing it’s chilly breath on my neck. To cope with my loss, I’ve been wearing snowflake earrings, so I can always carry a little bit of winter with me.
I’ve always thought it magic that no two snowflakes are the same, and that singularly they’re so fragile, but when collected together are powerful beyond imagining.
This earring set, composed of two unique pewter snowflakes, embodies the fascination, and respect I hold for the crystals of the cold.
I made three sets to sell for other winter craving creatures. You can find them here!
It didn’t matter that I’d only caught five hours of sleep, this morning (I was writing about reasons why home birth is best until 3am…and watching YouTube videos of bear attacks. I have an odd fascination with people meeting their ends at the jaws of animals…) outside was too beautifully gloomy to miss. I was just as lucky last week too.
I’d like to say I know the forest well, but eventhough I’ve been navigating it for over 12 months, I know I’ve only just started to scratch the surface.
I try to have all of my senses awake when I’m out in the forest, but often my mind wanders to places I’d rather it fucking didn’t, and I find myself wanting to back track to take in everything again with a clear head.
The finely spun spiderwebs were so finespun, that I could only see them when I angled my head a certain way.
I’ve trudged past these views hundreds of times before. But they always have a new magic waiting for me.
Spring has started to shake herself awake – all the signs were there. My mittens remained tucked away in my bag, and the birds were so ecstatic it was catching.
The frogs have come out of their winter hibernation, and are making babies…by the thousands. I haven’t lost that childlike sense of wonder when it comes to frogspawn. I still crouch down to get a better look and am mystified by the little jellied embryos.
Much of the time, the forest requires you to have your adult head on…to be wary of where you are standing and to not loose your bearings. But there are times that it also lets you drop the weight of adulthood for a while, and recapture what it meant to be little, curious and open to magic.
I have always loved food, but at the age of 14 I developed anorexia, and for the next decade and a half, food food was my enemy.
Food had the power to make the number on the scales increase and my bones disappear from the surface of my skin. It had the power to make me feel like my existence was pointless. It had the power to make me want to give up on life.
I didn’t want food anywhere near me.
For year after year, I ate the same food at the same time in the same room. I was terrified of even the slightest change, I felt lost without my routine. Two rice crackers with peanut butter instead of one rice cracker with peanut butter? You’ve GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME.
Eating food that hadn’t been scheduled into my day was a terrifying prospect, and it was something that happened once in a blue moon.
In my mid-twenties, when my recovery started for real, re-feeding my body and reaching a weight where my head was more me than my illness, I slowly re-kindled my good relationship with food.
Foods and drinks that had been forbidden for years were slowly re-introduced, then, I started to explore new tastes with more gusto. I treated my body with respect which not only meant eating healthily but also treating it without feeling weighed down with shame. I found something of a balance and once again felt comfortable eating.
Smoothies were one of my discoveries when I came back from my anorexic exile, and since then I’ve been trying to find a smoothie that’s not only medicine for my body and soul, but that tastes like it should be a bit bad for me. A smoothie that is thick, creamy and deeply, satisfyingly sweet.
If I had it my way, I’d be out trawling the cafes of Sweden, hunting for sorceress or sorcerer of smoothies, but seen as though I’m on a tight budget I’m trying to make the most magic of smoothies myself – one that can give me all the goodness of mother earth while still satisfying my 32 sweet teeth.
< 250 ml semi-skimmed milk (you can make it with any milk actually…)
< 1 frozen banana
< 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
< 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
< 2 handfuls of wild blueberries (we collected ours last summer)
< 1 handful of oats
< Blend everything together, pour into a tall glass, sit down with something good to read and enjoy slowly.
I have been eyeing up Mason drinking glasses for months, but haven’t the cash to splurge on some. So, I went into DIY mode and made my own using an Apple Mos jar that was going to go into the recycling bin.
Of all the smoothies I’ve poured into myself over the years, I have to say that this one is probably one of the best. Like, the second best smoothie. Seriously. It’s that good. It’s just sweet enough, ridiculously thick and creamy, and there’s enough of it so that I was left feeling really, really satisfied. The fact that I’d picked the blueberries myself, washed and de-stalked them made the experience that much more magical. When I was done, I felt like I’d swallowed a forest. Can’t ask for much more than that.
There’s one reason I will leave the apartment without having brushed my teeth first and that’s mist. If it’s a misty morning when I wake up, all plans previously made are shot, and I’m out the door with terrible morning breath and granules of sleep stubbornly tucked into the corners of my eyes.
This morning when I tumbled out of bed, and discovered there was the remnants of a low hanging mist outside, I felt my heart break a little. I should have been up at 6.23am instead of nearly 9am. I should have been out to catch the spiderwebs before the dew evaporated. I should have I should have I should have.
Still, I didn’t waste what mist was still there, and catapulted myself outside with my camera. I walked the trails I’d already taken a hundred times before, but you wouldn’t think it to see the way I stopped every few paces to stand, slack jawed and silent, breathing in the cool air thickly scented with fir, and the irresistible tang of freshly cut wood. I never take it for granted that we live on the edge of the forest and can be with the trees as soon as we step out of the apartment block.
I struggle massively with racing thoughts (thoughts that won’t be quiet), another symptom of my bi-polar disorder and going into the forest is one of the only ways that I can actually calm my mind down. Though it isn’t easy. I have to remind myself to breathe and to notice what’s around me instead of getting trapped in my head.
As soon as I manage to break away from the chaos in my head, I notice everything…like the last of the dew decorated spiders webs, the catkins breaking out, the illuminated bark of the birch trees. I think to myself ‘I want to notice everything all the time…’ then the chaos will start up again, and I’ll lose my ‘sight.’
But I know what true freedom tastes like and I know I can have it. Another chance to hold onto it is always just a moment away.
Most people come into my life and leave without me misplacing so much as a breath. Few come into my life and have an impact so tremendous that, for a while, I forget how to breathe. They tattoo an imprint on my soul and, when I feel I’ve lost the magic that is life, they help me to find it again.
Erzabeth Svedlund is one such person. She’s a powerful single mother, a beautiful creature and a creative extraordinaire who will do anything for her art…she will cover her naked body in pigs blood when temperatures are below freezing. She will climb to the top of treacherously positioned rocks. She will give her whole self to the moment so I can capture it as a memory forever.
For this shoot, we had a vague idea…’something Laura Palmer…something…white wig….something make the most of the snow…something.’
We thought that winter had left us for real, but when he came back for a brief visit it was all systems go and we sped into action to make the most of his return. Here’s what we captured.
* I will be uploading a full album onto Facebook soon with many more shots…*
Maybe I should have posted something on the 8th of March – International Women’s Day, but something kept me from doing so. Though I did quietly celebrate the news that the glorious country of Iceland will become the first country to require equal pay for men and women. I also enjoyed the waterfall of inspiring posts from women I follow across the world on Instagram and Facebook.
I’m of the belief that we don’t need a specific date of the year to have our voices heard, to have our faces seen, to have our spirits celebrated. Being a woman is something that should be – and can be – rejoiced in every single day.
To rejoice in my own womanhood and the womanhood of my sisters, I’m going to offer some white space to one women who has inspired me immeasurably over the past decade – Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
Jungian psychoanalyst, poet and author, Clarissa is the mind behind the hugely empowering book Women Who Run With The Wolves, one of the most important tomes to have come into my life. It was one of those books which I was told countless times ‘that I needed to read,’ and, at the moment when I needed it most, it practically fell into my hands from a charity shop shelf. I parted with 75p and went home with a book that genuinely radiated positive energy.
In this post, I’m pairing up a number of my favourite quotes from Clarissa, with self portraits I’ve taken in the last six months. I hope you leave illuminated by her wisdom and, if you haven’t already read it, prepared to part with some pennies for her tour de force.
*While I can’t stress how important is it for every women to own a physical copy of Women Who Run With Wolves, I’m also aware you might need to keep the purse strings tight. So I’ll let you in on something…the book is available as a free downloadable PDF file. Just Google for it, then get yourself a physical copy when you’re able to.*
“The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.”
“The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.”
“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.”
“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”
“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories from your life – not someone else’s life – water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”
“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”
“The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life.”
“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”
“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”
I am one of these strange people that actually enjoys Mondays. Making my ‘To Do’ list the day before is one of the highlights of my weekend. When I wake up at the start of the new week, I’m so excited to get going and start fulfilling my goals that I wouldn’t be surprised if some people said ‘she’s not normal, that one.’
One of those goals is getting out and moving as often as I can. I try and walk in the forest everyday. It’s good for my body, it’s good for my head, it’s good for my creativity, it’s good for my soul. I can be feeling like I want to blow something up before I go for a walk, but as soon as I’m outside, this feeling rapidly melts, and with each step I take further into the outdoors, and with each breath I draw into my often tense body, I feel better.
But sometimes, days are crunched up and before I know it it’s 5pm and I haven’t so much as opened the window. And this is far from good. So, from today onward, I will promise to myself that on Monday’s I walk.
The snow that should have arrived in December fell thick and fast and heavy the other night. We were driving back from my man’s family home in Hagfors (a little town in the big woods where we had spent the weekend BBQing in the snow, examining wolf prints and hiking in the dark) when it started to come down, creating cozy yet inexplicably dangerous whiteout conditions. I can’t say I was anxious though as the car slowly slipped its way back to Borås, simply happy to have my good friend back.
I needed to pull down the blinds this morning because there was work to be done, and I couldn’t leave the apartment until I’d written at least 3,000 words on The British Monarchy. Though I did keep peeking behind them every half hour, just to check that the snow was still there and that the rain Borås is sadly famous for hadn’t cleared it to mud.
When I did manage to get out into the forest, my senses were working in overdrive. Though I could hear Spring’s voice – water rushing from the streams that edged the pathways- the dense snow was coming past my ankles and making that gorgeous ‘like you’re eating a meringue’ sound.
The icicles I thought I had seen the last of last week had grown back in different, albeit more delicate forms. Because I knew that this could be the very last real appearance of winter for several months, I looked and I looked and I looked. I paid attention to the blinking icicles, no matter how small or how tiny the crevasses were into which I had to creep to photograph them.
I paid attention to the curious, Tim Burton-esque way the snow had collected on the firs. I paid attention to how the clouds masked the sun and preserved the snowy forest kingdom.
I ate my first solitary snowy Fika. (Though my ‘hot’ chocolate was lukewarm. I’ll take tea next time. It’s more reliable.) You haven’t lived until you’ve taken Fika in a snowy Swedish forest.
Put simply, I didn’t really want to go home. My heart, my legs, my soul was enjoying the forest too much. Despite the fact my fingers were screaming bloody murder, and I still had another 3,000 words to write when I arrived home, I found myself walking slower and slower the closer I got to the apartment. I wanted to preserve every memory of every footfall so that they would see me through the coming warmer months.