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

 

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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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Ready To Meet March

Last year, despite beautiful moments that will rest in my heart forever, it was predominately a monumental shitstorm. I can tell how bad a year has been by how many books I’ve read, and how many poems I’ve written. I can count on two hands how many poems were put to paper in 2016.

When the first of January 2017 rained in, I decided this year would be a year of transformation – creative, emotional, spiritual, mental transformation. And it has been thus far, although the transformations haven’t come all that easily. When do they ever though? Despite muddling along through the first few months, my world is turning, and turning for the batter. I want to make each month better than the one that came before. So I have a lot of dreams for March. (You can see my ambitions for the year here.)

Creatively & Professionally

  • Blog every day here. (Doing alright so far…)
  • Write 31 poems for my new collection.
  • Put together a collection of my best work from the past ten years and submit to publishers. I have several in mind.
  • Launch A Living Witch shop on Etsy selling books I’ve written, handcrafted things, vintage things and up cycled things.
  • Launch a shop selling thrifted clothes and housewares. (Ideally I would sell everything on A Living Witch, but Etsy have a policy stating that any clothes/housewares that have been thrifted need to be 20 years or older.)
  • Put in applications for more writing jobs so I can boost my income.
  • Put out the word that in the near future I’m hoping to establish a small press and would love some shadow sisters to get involved because I can’t do it alone.
  • Do as many photoshoots as possible with my witches at The Divine Weirdos so we can put on an exhibition later this year.
  • Re-work my solo poetry show.
  • Develop my cross stitch skills.
  • Put new products in my shops every week.
  • Finish my library pile. (Currently consisting of 11 books).

Learning

  • Learn something new every day.

Physically

  • Take better care of my body. (Still not good at this. I don’t make the time to moisturize my body, for example.)

Magically & Spiritually

  • Begin learning palmistry.
  • Experience the forest fully as it welcomes Spring home.

Love, Family & Home

  • Eat at the table whenever we have Tyra at home. (Doing good with this!)
  • Be more present. (Getting better at this too!)
  • Use up the blueberries in the freezer.
  • Buy cheaper food and cook healthier recipes.
  • Continue learning Swedish.
  • Buy in more herbs and spices that are beneficial to our wellbeing.

What are your ambitions for this month?

 

 

 

 

Every Day Should Be A Day For Books & Reading

There’s not much that makes me happier than a really good book. I started reading when I was three and never stopped.

We didn’t have the money for new books – we got most of our stock from family, car boot sales and charity shops – so my Mum, who looked after four kids while my Dad was away at work – would troop across town with four under fives and we would take full advantage of everything the libraries in our local vicinity had the offer. Some of my best memories were forged among the bookshelves. (Thank you Mum.)

I can remember finishing all the Puddle Lane books – published by Penguin in the late 80’s – and hungering for something else, something darker. I needed to stand on tip toes to reach for My Babysitter’s A Vampire which it was on the hard-to-reach third shelf up.

The older I got, the more valuable libraries and reading became for me. I was one of those kids who would read while crossing a busy road. One summer school night, my sister and I were in bed and it wasn’t yet dark, so I pulled back the blind so I could read for a bit longer. My sister screamed for our mum and told on me. I was fucking furious. I think I even cried myself to sleep.

One year, some kids burned down our local library, and it broke my heart. It felt like the end of the world. When the library was re-built, there was a huge cardboard advertisement near the front desk featuring my then Eco-warrior mother clutching my wide eyed baby brother. Proud doesn’t even come close.

The same library granted me my teenage card a year early, opening up the rest of the universe to me. One of the first books I took out was The Satanic Bible. It was all gobbledygook to me – and still is – but I felt so fucking cool and made sure everyone could see just what I was carrying when I strode out of there.

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I have a vivid memory of my first World Book Day in 1995. We received £1 vouchers at school, and I can remember clutching it like Charlie Bucket clutched his Golden Ticket.

I thought I’d been given the key to the bookstore, which at the time was an independent shop of epic proportions (for an eight year old) in the small market town of Guisbrough in England.

Sadly, the £1 books that had been released especially for World Book Day were so terrible that even at eight years old I knew I’d been had. I left the store with a book I didn’t really want, thinking of all the other things I could have bought with £1 – 100 penny sweets, 10 Chomp bars or at least ten books from a carboot sale.

Disappointment aside, here are some books which have played big roles during my 30 years on earth.

Some Things I’ve Learned : February

Despite not being able to remember who first said ‘Knowledge is power’ it’s a phrase I’ve repeated to myself on a daily basis for years. I’ve even thought about getting it inked.

(Note: thanks to Google, I now know ‘Knowledge is power’ was first documented in a tenth-century book called Nahj Al-Balagha which was originally written in Arabic, though it’s also commonly attributed to an English philosopher, the late Frances Bacon.)  

Learning itself is vital to my well-being. If I go through 24 hours without having learnt something new, I get twitchy, I get irritable, I become one of those ‘don’t touch me! I haven’t learned anything today,’ girlfriends. The same goes for achieving. I like to make every day count.

For many months of last year, just getting out of bed in the morning was achievement enough, but when I’m doing okay, and when I’m doing great, I don’t like to let anything hold me back.

Achieving creatively is what soothes my soul, but achieving in other ways – like learning to like a part of my body I’ve despised for years, or helping my boyfriend to relax when he’s been stressed to hell at work – are achievements that make everything worth it.

This documenting what I’ve learned idea only came to me about a week ago, so somethings will have, sadly and inevitably slipped the net of my aging memory (31 in 190 days). As a result, this post is a bit different to how March’s entry will look. March  will also be much beefier.

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

The Macabre, Death & Wyrd Things

< Lavender Saved Lives During The Plague

I knew that lavender was used by in the masks of Plague Doctors to eliminate the thick scent of death and decay, but I didn’t know that it actually helped save lives when the Black Death was sweeping across Europe in the 1600’s. Fascinatingly, the population of an entire town escaped death because of the unassuming little plant. At the time, the town of Bucklersbury was the centre of the European lavender industry.

< You Can’t Actually Shoot With A Silver Bullet

One night, just before we were going to watch American Horror Story – Coven (re-watching and loving every minute) my boyfriend said ‘do you want to know something?’ Usually it’s me doing the ‘do you want to know somethings…’ so I was particularly excited as I turned around to give him my full, undivided attention. ‘You can’t actually shoot with a silver bullet,’ he said. This revelation was particularly devastating. He explained that a silver bullet is too light to make an accurate shot. The world of horror will never again be quite the same.

< In Belgium People With Severe Mental Illnesses Can Be Assisted To Die

I watched this fascinating, honest and upsetting documentary featuring Emily, a 24 year old who is ready to end her life due to debilitating mental health issues.

< An Arctic Icebreaker Makes The Best Ambient Music

I listened to nearly 10 hours of white noise from a polar icebreaker in the Frozen Arctic Sea and it was magic of the purest kind. Listen here.

Life Things

< I Love The Swedish Name Svea

I was researching a piece for Baby GaGa about Swedish baby names for girls and Svea just melted me. The fact it had a fucking brilliant back story made it even better. Pronounced SVE-ah, Svea is from a personification of the country of Sweden and during the 1600’s and 1700’s it was only used as a term for Sweden. Svea a derivative of Svear which is the Swedish name for the ancient tribe the Swedes. The Swedish name for Sweden is Sverige, a newer form of Svea rike, which translated means ‘the realm of the Svear.’

< We Need To Use The Blueberries In The Freezer From Last Summer

I was in the freezer this morning, and noticed we have about a kilo of blueberries left over from last blueberry season. I don’t know how they’ve lasted so long considering how much of a smoothie/blueberry pie fanatic I am. But before I know it, we’ll be out picking the bushes clean and the freezer will be chock full again with fruit. So, I’m going to do some thorough recipe research, and see if I can also find some ways to use them on my skin.

< I Am Actually More Patient Than I Thought

This morning I had such brilliant intentions when I hauled myself out of bed, and after a breakfast with my current read (In The Kingdom Of Ice by Hampton Sides) continued with my cross stitches for my little shop (that’s coming on the 5th of March). I ended up spending three and a half hours mostly unpicking my stitches but not once did I scream loud enough for the neighbours to hear. Cross stitch has MASSIVELY helped me to become more patient.

< Having Newly Dyed Hair Improves My Confidence Massively

My roots have been bothering me since November of last year, and going out without my hood on for the past four months has been a very rare occasion because I’ve felt hideous. It doesn’t help that my hair refuses to adapt to any style I try and put it in. The other day – after asking my boyfriend to dye my hair for several months – my friend helped me bring my roots from dirty mouse to Arctic night black. Though I like leaving the house with my hood up it’s a comfort knowing my head no longer looks like it’s been stored in a bin.

 

 

The Ice Is Leaving Us

I asked winter to come back the other night. I wasn’t ready to let go. He listened to me and briefly returned with one of his most beautiful snow falls of this year.

I stood at the window when he made his return, acting like I was presiding over my own snowy kingdom, and got so unbelievably furious when I saw someone had made tracks through the pristine whiteness that I actually screamed to my boyfriend – sat a mere three feet away playing Battlefield or something else involving gunning down army personnel in cold blood – HOW DARE THEY! SOME BASTARD HAS RUINED IT, THEY’VE RUINED THE BLOODY SNOW FOR FUCKING FUCKS SAKE!’ Slight overreaction? Perhaps. But I wanted to preserve what I felt would be the last snow of the year for as long as I possibly could and seeing tracks (that weren’t mine. If they’d been mine it would be a different story) was just not on.

I went to sleep that, wishing morning a speedy return…however as luck would have it, living in the wettest part of Sweden does not a good winter make, and when daylight returned the rain had made all but the tiniest handful of snow disappear. Devastated doesn’t even come close.

While the title of this post is associated with the coming of spring, it also stands as a reminder that the North is warming, and at a scarily fast rate. Winter this year wasn’t the winter of my childhood in the North of England. Nor was it the winter of my boyfriend’s childhood in Middle Sweden. There were moments during the winter months where I felt almost paralyzed with fear that winter would never truly show himself. He did, but ever so briefly. If winter was hardly here for us, it breaks my fucking heart to think what winter was like for Nanook this year in the High Arctic.

I went out for a run the other day – my first run in months – but I could hardly concentrate. The last of the ice was blinking at me, and several times I nearly went arse over tit because all I really wanted to do was look, treasure and worship the end of winter. I decided to head back out the next day and capture what I could of the ice before spring kissed it goodbye.

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Saying goodbye to winter for another year – though technically it’s not another year because he’ll be back in eight months, hopefully with vengeance – is always extremely difficult. But walking through the forest yesterday, with melt water soaking through my boots, I thought about the promise of spring, her promise of new beginnings. This winter has been one of the most challenging of my life, but I’ve risen from it re-born – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and, probably most importantly for me, creatively.

As I walked, I thought about how we all, as individuals, have something special, something unique to offer ourselves and offer – if we wish to – the world. If you have found your purpose, something that makes you feel like you want to live forever so you can do it always, then hold it close, hold it tight, treasure it like you treasure your own heartbeat, like you treasure your own bones.

Allow it to help you grow, allow it to help you to help others grow. My purpose is to write. My purpose it to blog, to create poetry, to publish books, to open myself up, heart, veins and all, and show people that they can be whoever they want – as wyrd as they want to be – with no shame. If you want to do something significant this spring, treasure yourself and treasure what makes you…you. Hone your skills, devote yourself to your passion,  learn something new everyday, something you really want to know, read more, breathe more, walk more, live fully and openly and beautifully. Grow as she grows, grow in Spring’s image.