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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Stand Up And Be Heard…Always

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.*

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.”

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“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.”

Winter Witch VI

“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

Return Of Winter III

“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”

A Thrifty Witch Haul : True Love Tarot Deck & Book

I went thrifting with the intention of finding some fabrics to cross stitch on – sadly all the nice ones I unearthed from the heaps had curious stains on them – but instead came away with A True Love Tarot : Deck & Book Set for 35 krona (about £3.20).

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I was hugely taken with a raw food cookbook (can’t remember the title) but at 45 krona it was a little bit steep for this haul, plus, the ingredients were slightly too exotic and included the likes of nuts found only in the Himalayas and grass that needs to have been meditated on for a week before eating. (Sarcasm). Though if it’s still there next week and I have enough dough, you can bet I’ll pick it up. All the raw food meals I’ve eaten in my lifetime has been sublime to the point of orgasmic, and I would be only too happy to eat more raw.

There was also a gorgeous vegetarian recipe book from the early 90’s. It was so used it’s pages were cotton soft, and every recipe used ingredients of the like that we could actually afford, like onions, carrots and lentils.

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So, the tarot package. While I’ve already found true love, this guide states that as well as being a lovers guide to dating, it’s also a guide to mating and relating. And anything that’s going to help me be better at ‘mating and relating’ is worth exploring.

If you’ve been here since the beginning, you’ll know that one of my goals this year was to learn tarot, and I’ve been on a search to find a set to get started with. Like with my other haul, I think fate led me today and put this tarot set – which is in impeccable condition – in my hands. The artwork has already spoken to me, and the guide looks to be superbly well written. (I will be doing a review of the set and book, as well as my experience using it!)

Created by tarot experts and ‘legendary lovebirds’ Amy Zerner (she’s responsible for the deck) and Monte Farber (he’s responsible for the accompanying guide), I think I’m in good hands to learn how to use the ancient power of tarot to empower the relationship I have with my man.

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?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

A Living Witch Reviews Sabat Magazine : The Mother Issue

I ritualistically put some water on the stove to make some tea, tidied the shit off my desk (the kitchen table) and lit two white candles in preparation for writing this review of Sabat Magazine : The Mother Issue. It’s an extra special publication, so deserves extra special attention.

I sat down, pulled my chair up my laptop, poised my fingers above my keyboard and was promptly joined by one of our two cats, Boney. The black and white one. She jumped on the table and before I could breathe, managed to put her tail in one of the candle flames. It was in there for about a second before I batted it out and blew the flames to smoke.

The old lady didn’t even seem to notice, despite the sound and smell of sizzling hair. She was purring throughout the ordeal, and still came for cuddles. Of which I gave her plenty. Dozy, adorable thing.

Anyway, cats aside, lets get into this.

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When I first discovered Sabat  – which began life as a zine while editor Elizabeth Krohn was at London College of Fashion – I started hyperventilating. As a print fanatic, pagan witch and enthusiast of the macabre a magazine about modern day occultism seemed almost too good to be true.

I lapped up web page after web page of previews. It became almost an obsession – to find whatever I could to do with this scripture for the modern witch. I started visualizing what it would be like to hold its heavy weight in my hands, to flip the pages and take in that heady scent of paper and ink, to fall into its layers of type and imagery.

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But when the time arrived for the launch of The Maiden Issue, the money to buy wasn’t there, and then, when it was there, it had sold out. I can still remember my heart dropping into my stomach. I frantically scoured the web hoping to find a copy second hand, but nothing came up. Not surprising really. This isn’t something you buy to sell on.

I didn’t make the same mistake with The Mother Issue. I set money aside and when it was launched, I practically threw an issue into my online basket. It turned out to be the best £21 (that was with P&P) I’ve ever spent on anything printed.

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The bang the magazine made when it dropped through the letter box was reassuringly loud, and, despite making a speedy journey across Europe, it arrived in immaculate condition. (I’ve actually kept the cardboard envelope it came it. It’s proved ever so useful.)

No wanting to spoil my new arrival, I washed my hands before taking it out of it’s packaging and the first time I held it, I made sure not to bend the spine or crease the pages. Yes, I’m one of those types.

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Despite everything I’d read about The Mother Issue – the first issue was dedicated to teen witches of every age – through my initial flick through I could see so much that the internet hadn’t revealed.

I wanted to sit and read it all in one go, you know what it’s like when you’re so fucking excited about a new printed thing, especially when it’s shown so much promise. But I knew I’d regret it if I rushed. I knew that if I wanted to experience all it’s splendour, I’d have to take it slowly. And take it slowly I did. Over about a week actually.

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I don’t want to reveal everything (I do want to reveal everything, every minute detail of this impeccable publication) because that wouldn’t be fair. Surprises make life worth while, so I’ll make sure there are some left, should you decide to make the excellent decision to bring a copy into your life.

The cover – which is astoundingly, gorgeously, reassuringly thick and will probably outlive mankind – features gorgeous model Cassey Chanel photographed by the extraordinarily talented Lolo Bates. I’m besotted with the chunky typeface used for the title, and the ‘simplicity’ of the design overall, a welcome visual relief from all the crowdedness I’m used to seeing slapped on the front of magazines.

The back cover, though minimal, is just as impressive. But I’ll leave you to discover that on your own. The edge printing is something I can’t keep quiet though. This is probably one of the most unique aspects of Sabat’s design. Turn the pages one way, and you can the cycles of the moon. Turn the pages the other way, and fetal development becomes visible. I’m not going to tell you how long I marveled at this for.

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Normally I get frustrated when publishers decide to put a few blank pages in before getting to the contents – says the woman who hates crowded covers – but on this occasion, the sparseness works only to enhance the enjoyment.

I’m a sucker for ‘more information’ so turning to find a full page letting me in on who was involved in the magazine’s creation, right down to which papers were used, I knew Sabat was the magazine I’d been waiting for my whole life. I scribbled down names I knew I’d want to Google later on.

The Editor’s Letter – which I often skip in most magazines –  was enthralling and thought-provoking, opening the gate to what I knew would be an invaluable experience creatively, spiritually and emotionally.

‘What is mother? This second issue of Sabat tries to cast light on what is, to me, one of the most mysterious of female archetypes. Persistent in her duality, mother is vastness, Nature, a love unyielding and beyond, sacrifice and almighty power, creation and destruction embodied. She performs the ultimate act of human magic, creating new life. Yet in this she reminds us of the cycle of life. Ripe with vitality, she is also the one who whispers of death. A memento mori at the peak of the harvest, calling us to take our place in the circle, or to come home, well knowing what that entails.’

The first feature in the magazine is probably one of my favourites. What Is On Your Alter? examines the roles alters have, and asks the #witchesofinstagram to show theirs. (This is also the first time that the special transparent paper inserts are introduced, creating effects unlike any I’ve seen in any other magazine). One of the alters featured in this brilliant, insightful investigation is that of Katie Karpetz @witcheryway

‘My ancestral alter changes with the seasons. On this alter I just have holly which allegedly invites friendly spirits into the home, a string of rowan berries that I made and dried to bring healing, success and protection in the coming new year. Each side also has a cup of vodka as an offering to my Slavic ancestors and pieces of quartz to amplify.’

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I felt a lump start to take form in my throat when I read Other Mother, a feature written by Pam Grossman who ‘conjures the many form of Mother.’

‘She creates, sustains. The mother gives everything, and then gives even more. She loves us, and for this we love her in return.’

Pam’s deeply insightful, deeply touching writing – accompanied by exquisitely raw photography by Helena Darling had me trembling to my core, the respect for my own mother growing with every line I read. I just wanted to swim across the North Sea, reach out for the woman who birthed me and hold her like she held me for thirty years.

‘They treat those in their care with immense tenderness, but any threats to their family unit and they are utterly obliterated.’

The Full Moon by Dana Fox @sirfoxglove is a short yet compelling feature which illuminated me with new knowledge about the full moon, which has, interestingly and weirdly enough, been blamed for nosebleeds and voting strategy. One thing Dana writes which has stuck with me is that ‘there is room for everything at night, especially when the moon is full.’

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Crystal Visions is made up of an excellent interview with the inspirational  Bri Luna.  The visionary behind The Hoodwitch, which provides ‘everyday magic for the modern mystic,’ invites us to climb under her skin and learn about what Mother means for her. And the photography for this piece by Allyce Andrew and Micheal Pierce is just everything.

‘Being a Witch to me is being free. Being able to be your authentic self, knowing that there is more in this world than our eyes can see.’

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There are frequent breaks in text for moments of art and photography, including various photoshoots, my favourite being Luna, featuring the ethereal visage of cover model Cassey Chanel and more photography by Lolo Bates.

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Hidden Mother is another favourite entry. Linda Fregni Nagler is Swedish-Italian artist who, entirely by chance by browsing on Ebay, encountered a photograph captioned ‘funny baby with hidden mother.’ This find led to her creating and curating an impressive archive of over 1000 photos of this bizarre but bewitching practice.

‘I realised that the guy who was selling it knew a lot about what is interesting in an image – underlining what was absent, not what was present.’

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When I closed Sabat, I held it to my heart – as sickeningly cliche as that sounds, it’s true – and I silently thanked Elizabeth for having the vision and devotion to bring this publication into existence. I thanked her and everyone else involved for manifesting a magazine that satisfied me, inspired me and made me ever more inquisitive. There is so much more that (I’ve wanted to but) haven’t mentioned because you deserve some wonders of your own discovery.

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If you’re a practicing witch, or if modern day occultism is, in any way a part of your life, and you have a weakness for sublime print, densely rich writing and unparalleled art and design, Sabat Magazine is for you.

Thankfully, the first issue of Sabat is being re-printed, and the third issue The Crone Issue, (check out the promo video below) is available to pre-order. If you need me, I’ll be waiting by the letterbox writing my next post about a recent thrift haul.

More Sabat

Sabat Website

Sabat Instagram

Sabat Facebook

*Many thanks to the beautiful @erzabethbathory for modelling Sabat for this review.