Today’s Poem : When I Am With Child

When I Am With Child

When I am with child,
there’s a chance I’ll suckle icicles,
binge on beach combed glass,
chew the ends of my hair.

My uterus will wax from
the size of a snowball to a pumpkin.

The egg my child will form from
will be the same size as what sits
in a rabbit’s or a whale’s body
at the beginning.

I may lactate
if I hear the rattling sound
of a baby crying.

By the 20th week
my body will be warm
with 50% more blood
than before conception.

My heart will swell
to accommodate
the increase.

I will not be burned at the stake
if I ask for pain relief.

I will not be told
I need to feel the pain
for Eve’s actions
in the Garden of Eden.

When I deliver,
my pelvic bone will part
in the middle
and the cartilage
will never really go back together.

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Calling On The Moon In My Time Of Need

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.

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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 While it might be a bit outdated, if you’re interested in moon worship it’s a must-have.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

Why I Am Going To ‘Woman The Fuck Up’ About Money

I don’t know when or why I became sensitive about money. I  do remember when I opened my bank account though…I was 12 and had £10 to put in that I’d received for my birthday. And believe me, I was dead set that that £10 wasn’t going anywhere.

Every time I could put something in there – be it £2 or £20 – I felt like I was accomplishing something really fucking significant. I felt no shame in going up to the cashier and saying ‘I’d like to put this £2.50 into my bank account please.’

As a family of six, money was never something we had much of, and while my friends were rocking their new Nike trainers, I was wearing my aunties hand-me-down mid 80’s Reeboks that were three times too big. While my friends were crossing the sea to Greece, my siblings and I stayed with my Grandmother in a caravan on the blustery North East coast of England. While my friends brought in licorice and chocolate to school for break time, I brought in half a jam and margarine sandwich made with Safeway Own Value white bread. Despite our frugal living, we were happy and my childhood was one I wouldn’t change, it was impossibly rich in creativity, adventure and love.

My mum would welcome in all the kids from the street, and give them the food she worked two jobs for. Our homes during the years – we moved a few times – became refuges for kids whose parents didn’t give two shits about them, or kids who just wanted to get away and discovered that they found peace at our house. It was a very rare occasion that mum made anyone go on back home. Some would stay for days, others weeks. Our house was always a buzz of activity with new faces appearing every five minutes.

“It’s hard enough to give fearlessly, and it’s even harder to receive fearlessly.
But within that exchange lies the hardest thing of all:
To ask. Without shame.
And to accept the help that people offer.
Not to force them.
Just to let them.” – Amanda Palmer

I was seventeen and in collage when I got my first job. I worked the weekends as a catering assistant at a KP Foods factory and brought home £47.60 a week. I hated my job. I hated getting up while the rest of my family were sleeping and cycling in the dark to a factory whose smell made me gag from even a mile away. I hated the fact I was always given the shitty jobs ‘Katie, clean out the smokers room…’

I hated that 80% of the people I cooked, served and cleaned up after were spiteful and rude and seemingly unable to eat a cooked breakfast without half of it ending up smeared all over their table. I’m sure they did it because it would mean I’d have a nightmare scraping it up once they’d left, and the bean juice and egg yolk had dried. I hated the bitching and the behind the back talking. I hated that my skin and hair smelt like I’d been dipped in the deep fat fryer whenever I was finished for the day. If I’d been able to smell my bones, I think they would have stank too.

Much of the time I’d go home and cry. But I didn’t quit. I worked every weekend for three years at that place before packing it in. What would get me through wasn’t thinking about what I’d spend my money on, rather what I’d write when I got home. I was working on my second book and it took up almost all the hours when I wasn’t at college or work. It was my everything. It was what made me get up in the morning.

Several other jobs followed this one, none of them enjoyable, none of them satisfying, none of them made me think ‘hell, I want to do this instead of writing as a career!’ My mental health meant that I wasn’t as ‘on the ball’ I should have been. My anxiety meant I was afraid to confront customers. My values and how I’d been brought up left me unable to pressurize people into buying things I knew they probably couldn’t afford.

“From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one. It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.” – Amanda Palmer

I never ‘fitted in’ with any of my work teams and was always the ‘weird one.’ I didn’t mind being the weird one, but I did mind the gossip, I did mind the laughing, I did mind the ‘quiet word in my office’ moments where I was told I ‘had to come out of myself.’ I couldn’t come out of my self. Hell, I was enough out of myself by turning up when fatigue made my body heavy as an iron lady. But it was always the thought that ‘when I get home I can write’ that got me through.

I’d known, since I was a kid that I’d ‘have to work a normal job’ while waiting for my writing career ‘to take off.’ And I’ve worked enough ‘normal jobs’ to know I don’t cut it, that it’s not for me. My bi-polar and anxiety means that to get to my ‘normal job’ is hard enough as it is. Many don’t realize that managing to get through the day when you have bi-polar is achievement worthy of reward. This quote from Carrie Fisher sums it up quite perfectly:

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” Wishful Drinking, her 2008 memoir about her mental illness and prescription drug addiction

I’m a lone wolf who thrives in solitude, and feels weakened when she’s crowded or put under the rule of someone else. I’ve never wanted to work for anyone but myself. I found my life’s meaning when I was four years old, and I’ve never strayed from that path, not even for a second. But to keep on that path, I need to do something which, at first, made me feel ashamed because I’m a fucking proud woman…

Since being in Sweden I’ve been living off my savings, freelance writing work, hand outs from my parents and by the support of my partner. But the savings are gone now. The work doesn’t pay well, and the discussion of ‘getting a real job’ has been raging for months. I’ve been working harder, faster, but the money never seems to catch up.

I’ve signed on at what’s essentially the Swedish Job Centre, but I don’t get any hand outs nor do I get any actual useful help. My partner thinks that, despite me having a 1st class degree, it’s almost inevitable that I’ll have to work as a cleaner or something. To think of this makes my heart become as heavy as a handful of wet sand. It makes me feel weak and helpless and vulnerable. It makes me worry about the hours that I’ll have left to create and do what I need to do to keep my spirit from rotting.

The contents of my bank account have always been a secret. I haven’t wanted to share its numbers with my family or anyone else. And when someone has asked ‘how much is in there?’ I’ve become deeply offended and angry. A large part of me feels I’ve let myself down by not being a fully self-sufficient writer by the age of 30.

“There’s really no honor in proving that you can carry the entire load on your own shoulders. And…it’s lonely” – Amanda Palmer

But not I’m letting my guard down. I’m not going to be secretive about money because if I want to make it I need to ask for help. I need people willing to support me in my journey to becoming a fully self-sufficient writer. I’m not only asking for help with this because writing is what makes me happy, I’m asking for help because writing is what helps me keep my sanity.

So I’ve established a Patreon page. There’s the option for you to pledge as much or as little as you would like to, and with each pledge comes a reward. By setting up a Patreon page, I’ve let go of my sensitivity to money and am openly asking for support in my life’s mission.  I’ll leave you with this uber poignant quote from the incredible Amanda Palmer whose book The Art Of Asking I highly recommend.

“Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.”  ― Amanda Palmer

Become my

Strength Is Around Here Somewhere

I’m feeling weak today. My self-esteem is somewhere out of sight, and the temptation to flee the internet is almost overwhelming. I’ve been having panic attacks about love heart emojis, and comparing the size of my breasts to someone elses, someone I don’t even know and whom I will never meet.

I’ve been bullying myself for not being able to stop overthinking and overthinking and overthinking. I’ve been bullying the one I love because I was struggling to love myself. Looking in the mirror today was impossible because I felt too disgusted with myself, with my appearance, with my thoughts and actions.

I’m wishing we were still in winter. I’m wishing I could go to ground with a brown mother bear, and hibernate in her massive arms. I wish I could regurgitate the berries I’d eaten during the autumn months and feed on them when I was hungry. I wish I could come back to earth’s surface strong and capable of fighting off anything that tried to go for my jugular.

In an attempt to gather back some strength, I’ve been looking at some self-portraits where I try and epitomize what it is to be a strong woman. I’ve also rounded up some quotes that bring me comfort and fire. I’ve fallen, but it’s time to woman the fuck up.

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The people
who consider you weak
have not yet noticed
the wolf hiding
behind your eyes,
nor the flames
inside your soul.

Let them think
you are weak
and do what
wolves and fire
do best.

Surprise them
when they least expect it.

– Nikita Gill

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It makes utter sense to stay healthy and strong, to be as nourishing to the body as possible. Yet I would have to agree, there is in many women a ‘hungry’ one inside. But rather than hungry to be a certain size, shape, or height, rather than hungry to fit the stereotype; women are hungry for basic regard from the culture surrounding them. The ‘hungry’ one inside is longing to be treated respectfully, to be accepted and in the very least, to be met without stereotyping.

— Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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A strong woman is a woman who craves love like oxygen or she turns blue choking.  A strong woman is a woman who loves strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong in words, in action, in connection, in feeling; she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

— Marge Piercy

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Operation Self-Esteem–Day Fucking One. ― Elizabeth Gilbert

Discoveries : March

I have been looking forward to putting this post together for weeks now!

If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I very rarely switch off. Even when I think sometimes that ‘perhaps it would be nice to have a quiet head for a while,’  it’s not often that I’m mentally capable of it being so.

It has quite a lot to do with the fact with the fact I live with bi-polar, and it’s an illness that’s renowned for not letting its carriers allow their thoughts to rest. And it has quite a lot to do with the fact that I’m just too bloody interested in my interests to be able to let my mind drain out. I tried it once last year, to just be without putting out my feelers, and I felt like it was the end of the fucking world.

Anyway, here I present to you many of the great things March informed me about in its 31 days. If there’s something that moves you or inspires you or gets really under your skin or perhaps you know of a better way that I could document my discoveries, let me know…!

P.S. The little bullet points are the rune Kenaz which symbolises – among other things – knowledge, illumination and creativity.

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Creative

< Having a baby can change a writer for the better

This quote was lifted from my friend, writer Carmen Thompson’s Facebook page.

‘I admit it I was so scared about how having a baby would affect me as a writer. How could I go from the fast paced intensity of deadlines to doing nothing but baby? But he’s made me slow down to his time until I see the details in each moment. What is innocence but having the patience to wonder? What better way to write, to live?’

Stephen King Doesn’t Write In A ‘Room Of His Own’
< The Influence English Folklore Has Had On Writers
< Darby ‘Old Hag’ Lagher Is Learning To Express Herself Through Drawing
< The Man Who Runs Free With Hoses In Iceland
< The Heartbreaking Difficulty Of Getting Rid Of Books
< Caitlin Doughty Has A New Book Coming Out Called Here To Eternity

Macabre, Death & Wyrd

< Turkeys Circling A Dead Cat
15 Historical Time Consuming Torture Methods
Yeti Could Be A Sub-Species Of The Himalayan Bear
<  The Term Sasquatch Was Coined By A Journalist In 1920
New Digital Document To Help You Find Out If You’re Descended From Witches
< Zana The Wild Woman
< Baking Students Create Chocolate Geodes

History

< Why Greenland’s Vikings Vanished

Mental Health

< Shawn Cross Illustrated Mental Illness & Disorders
< Why Mental Illness Makes People So Tired
< Conveying Depression Through Photography

Nature

< Icelandic Aurora Photo Published By Nasa
< Quest To See The Northern Lights
< Peculiar Crack Forms In Þingvellir Lake
< Satellite Detects A Massive Anomaly Under Antarctica
< Norway Prepares For A Mass Slaughter Of Reindeer

Things To Try

< Viking Bread Recipe
< Turmeric Lemonade
< A Clothing & Sigil Protection Spell

 

Beginning Anew : An Invitation To Collaborate

I didn’t need to wear mittens today, a tell-tale sign that my third favourite season has well and truly arrived in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Spring equinox has, for a bloody long time, been a period to let go of the old and welcome in the new. So, I decided the best way for me to celebrate would be to start making tracks with collaborative ideas that have been sitting in my head for too long.

Many projects which I’ve started during my career as a creative never made it past infancy, primarily because I was to stubborn to ask for help, and had that whole ‘I’m a lone wolf’ mentality. While I still have a lone wolf streak, I’m no longer afraid to ask others if they’d like to come aboard and navigate an uncharted sea with me.

Wyrd Words & Effigies Magazine was one such project that didn’t reach the peaks I dreamed it would. I can only imagine where it could have been if I’d been more open and had brought in some other enthusiasts of the macabre.

But back to now. I’m going to lay my ideas down on the table, and if you find yourself thinking ‘holyshitballs I would fucking love to be involved with that,’ then send me a note and we can talk. If you find yourself thinking ‘I know someone who might fucking love to be involved with that’ then drop them a note and link them to this post.

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Arctic Fever – A Spoken Word Journey

What Is It? Arctic Fever will be a live spoken word show, centered around the thawing of the Arctic, and how the catastrophic changes are impacting the people, flora and fauna of the great white north.

What Help Do You Need? I’m looking for one or two adventurous female musicians who are passionate about the Far North, and in raising awareness about the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

I would be extremely happy if you would be willing to challenge yourself to learn some  Inuit throat singing and drumming techniques, as these are elements I envisage accompanying the poetry. Ideally, you would be based in Västra Götaland County, Sweden so we could meet on a semi-regular basis. 

I’m also hoping to bring on board a female artist from Scandinavia who is infatuated with the north. You would work with us to create promotional material,  as well as an accompanying pamphlet featuring poems from the show, tied in with exclusive artwork.

It would be beyond incredible to have someone experienced with fashion and/or costume and stage design to provide guidance on putting together the ‘look’ of the show. For example, help me to conjure up an idea of how myself and the accompanying musicians should look on stage.

Finally, I would greatly appreciate some council from someone experienced with crowd funding and who would be able to guide me through the process of setting up a crowd funder for the project. The initial goal is to perform the show in Borås, Gothenburg, Stockholm and a location within the Arctic Circle, and to be able to do this, I’ll need to round up some krona.

To recap, I’m looking for:

2 female musicians

1 female artist

1 fashion and/or costume designer

1 experienced crowd funder

An Independent Press Run By Eclectic Women

What Is Is? It has been my dream, since before time began or something to that effect, to run an independent press publishing authors whose writing is a world away from the mainstream, writing that’s capable of changing your dark world in a heartbeat.

After a few attempts and some near misses, I left the dream to simmer on the back burner. But I never stopped thinking about it and, recently, when my thoughts started burning so fiercely it felt as though they were going to sizzle through the skin on my forehead, I realised I had to say something. I regularly see writing – mostly on Instagram at the moment – and it’s making me think ‘I WANT TO PUBLISH THAT RIGHT NOW IN A BEAUTIFUL BOOK!’

I can envisage starting with a few titles a year – poetry, collections of essays, short stories, non-fiction, whatever happens to come up that is too good to pass on. The only requirements would that it would need to be of a dark nature and/or about the far north. I’m also doting on the idea of having a yearly annual featuring unseen work from ‘our authors’ and other carefully selected writers.

What Help Do You Need? Aside from my lone wolf mentality, another reason I think many of my projects didn’t succeed is that I don’t have a good head for business. I have tried to change this, believe you me. I have been to countless business courses but could rarely stay longer than one lesson. Something in my brain prevented me from learning past a certain point. (I never was the brightest student.) However, I don’t want this ‘handicap’ to prevent me from publishing and celebrating writers I truly believe in. I just need help with the number crunching and other such things.

So, I would need to bring a woman on board with experience in the publishing industry (ideally), or with a good head for business in general, who wouldn’t feel exasperated by the mere sight of the word ‘overheads.’

I’d also need another person who would feel comfortable working as  an editorial assistant. Ideally, you would be based in Scandinavia and and enthusiast of the macarbe and, preferably the north, but elsewhere in Europe is okay…so long as you possess the passion for print and the best in peculiar literature.

To recap, I’m looking for:

1 female with experience in the publishing industry

1 female with editorial experience

If your finding yourself getting a little bit excited about any of these positions,  email me at katiemariemetcalfe@hotmail.co.uk with your thoughts. Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you’d like to be involved and link me up to where you are online.

I’m also always up for collaborations, so if you have an idea for a project you’d maybe like to have me involved in, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Photo: Erzabeth Svedlund

A Living Witch Photographs…Winter’s Ghost

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…*

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I Opened My Shop Today

The moon is distracting me from writing this post. It’s full in the sky, glowing like an expectant mother. When the moon is full, it’s the perfect time to practice gratitude, and that is exactly what I’ve been doing, in between piecing together my Etsy Shop selling things ‘too wyrd for most people.’ Today has brought one beautiful surprise after another, and it’s like the universe is looking out for me. I can practically hear it say ‘you’re going to be alright kid.’

One of the surprises was that I actually succeeded in opening up my little shop. I’ve been doubting myself over the past few days, looking at my cross stitch and thrifted pieces and thinking ‘Are people going to want these things? Am I being a total buffoon by opening this shop? Am I just going to embarrass myself with my rudimentary embroidery skills? Do I even know what I’m doing?’

It got to the point where I thought about selling everything much less that I’d originally intended, simply because I didn’t think anything I’d done or found was good enough, and because, basically, I’m winging it. But then something moved in me.

I remembered all the hard work, all the time, all the love that has been put into every stitch, every moment thrifting, every day writing and re-writing and editing. I remembered all the daydreams I’d had about people finding something in my shop that they could connect with, be it a book, a cross stitch or a piece of vintage clothing. Yes, I’m winging this, but aren’t we all just winging everything? I read a brilliant quote from Charles Bukowski which made everything feel that bit better.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received: ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’

So I went ahead and finished establishing my little shop and launched it, leaving those negative, detrimental thoughts out in the cold. While the things I make and find won’t be to everyone’s taste, I know there are people out there walking a similar journey to my own, and hopefully they will find A Living Witch – both the shop and blog – and feel like they’ve arrived home.

Here are some of the things I’ve created and thrifted and am now parting ways with…if an image starts to speak to you, click on it to be taken straight to where it sits in my shop.

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Snow Falling On Pines Cross Stitch

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The Scandinavian Witches Cross Stitch

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A Fragile Vintage Collar Trimmed With Lace

“While I can promise that there will always be handwoven embroidery and my writing available, you will need to think of this shop as a place where you’re never quite sure what you’ll encounter.

Much of what you will find here will have been thrifted and altered, and you know the nature of thrift stores…they’re a treasure trove of the wyrd and wonderful, and are never the same from one hour to the next. That’s very much the nature of A Living Witch – it’s a place with a pulse. I’m deeply passionate about re-homing precious things, and giving objects that have been abandoned a chance to breathe again and be loved.”

 

 

 

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