The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

'Skilful works of giants; splendid walls of stone'

I often find myself drawn to places through a sense of what has happened there in times long since forgotten.  When walking across fields, through woods and alongside rivers, I become aware that my thoughts are wandering and visions of what these sites would have looked, sounded and smelled like centuries ago come to the forefront of my mind.
Visiting the nearby stone circle at Avebury this weekend, this sense of remnants from a prior time, floating in the air and imprinted on the ground beneath my feet, was present with each step I took. 

National Trust car park aside, the village still looks much as it would have done five hundred years ago:  a wood fire burning at the local inn; the smell of smoke wafting across the landscape; the thatched roofs of a cluster of barns and cottages. As I walked I could hear the clattering of horses’ hooves on the cobbles, the clanging of a blacksmith beating their shoes into shape. In the wood fire smoke I could see the locals gathering at the inn after a long day tending the fields, raucously sharing tales over a tankard of ale or mead.
It is the combination of romantic medievalist and earth-loving witchy woman in me which makes this type of site so special in my eyes. The history seeping from the ground is palpable, as is its magick. Stepping within the circle of megalithic stones I instantly feel protected, as if these monuments are a collective people watching over anyone within their boundary.
Having places like this on my doorstep is a real treat and being able to feel the energy of long gone communities within the landscape makes me feel both fortunate to live in the British Isles and a little bit cross with myself for not having explored more of it.

With that in mind, here is a list of places I wish to visit this year along with some favourites I’d like to reacquaint myself with (in italics):

1.       Lindisfarne, Northumberland
2.       Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
3.       Castlerigg Stone Circle, Cumbria
4.       Alderley Edge, Cheshire
5.       Isle of Man
6.       Iona, Argyll
7.       The Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire
8.       Long Meg and her Daughters, Cumbria
9.       Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire

Thank goodness I invested in a National Trust membership!

Monday, 25 January 2010

To warm the heart and ease the mind

This is a beautiful spell that was passed on to me by a hedgewitch friend at a particularly sad time in my life. It helped me re-energise with positivity and has since become a favourite ‘treat’ when I’m feeling low.  I send it into the ether now, with love and light, for anyone who may so need.

Firstly, cleanse your bathroom, ensuring the space is free from clutter or items which may distract you. The aim of this ritual is to focus on yourself which means mobile phones and so on should be banished from the area.

  • Around your bathroom, light purple or pink candles. Place them safely so that they cast pools of light on the water when you fill the bath.
  • Let the water run to fill the bath, then turn off the taps.
  • Add five drops of rose essential oil and five of ylang ylang, dropping them into the pools of light. *
  • Place a rose quartz or amethyst crystal into the water to strengthen self-love and approval.
  • Lie in the water and swirl the light pools in turn, making a clear affirmation for each one. For example, ‘I exist, I am unique, I am of worth, I have many gifts (name them), I value myself, I love myself, I am complete in myself, I treasure what I have and what I am’.
  • Continue to swirl the light, visualising it flowing within you, making you a body of light and loveliness.
  • Finally, make a wish for yourself in each light pool.
  • When you are ready, stand up and step out of the water. Take out the plug, saying:

Doubts and sorrow, flow from me, what I wish, I can be.

  • Look at yourself in the mirror framed by light and you will see how your inner radiance creates true beauty that cannot fade.
  • Carry the candles into your bedroom or living room and spend the evening reading a special book, listening to music, or just dreaming of happy tomorrows as you gaze into the light.
 * While rose essential oil can be added to the bath water unblended, some people experience sensitivity to ylang-ylang and so may wish to blend the oil in a carrier such as sweet almond beforehand.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Waking up

Until I have a proper garden of my own, a big wooden tub on my doorstep has to suffice.

This is a fact that makes seeing these sights no less exciting, however.

You are on your way. Oh yes.  

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Catching my breath

It’s hard to believe that a mere week ago my wanderings offered views like this...

The past few days have been damp, grey and misty; a dull contrast to last week’s crisp white blanket. Thank goodness I have these photos to remind me that, for a short while, the world around me looked serene; perfectly quiet and still.

Although I often find winter hard and resisting the temptation to hibernate is a daily challenge, for those few snowy days I felt far happier. Perhaps it is because the whiteness tricks us into believing we are getting some of the light we miss during the dark months.

Perhaps it is because for a fleeting moment it feels like we have been given a clean slate.

I think what I enjoyed most was that it seemed as though the world had stopped. Cars weren’t driving down my lane; people weren’t rushing about; I could stand perfectly still and take the time to look around me. And what a beautiful sight that was.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Brightening my day today...

I consider myself fortunate to work as a teacher in a wonderful school which is surrounded by trees and greenery. One of the benefits  is being able to spot an array of wildlife from my classroom window. Today’s blessing came in the form of a cottontail bunny, resurfacing after the snow and frost, to spring about giddily once the children had left for the day. This put me in mind of a childhood favourite – Peter Rabbit – and brought back many happy memories of snuggling under the duvet with my edition of Beatrix Potter’s collected tales. 

‘I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.   His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter! 'One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.’

Very wise advice indeed!

I still have my copy of the tales, although it is now rather battered and worn. It remains tucked away, in the hopes that if I have children of my own, they too will enjoy its magic. 

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Sadly our beautiful, curious little girl has left us this week. At only 18 months old this seems unjust and I am sad for the little hole she will leave in my family's home and for the little sister she leaves behind. 

After hearing the news, my partner sent such a sweet thought my way:

'I'm sending my energy to little Holly so her journey
wherever she is going will be safe. I hope she has
lots of cats to play with.'

I couldn't help be thankful: thankful that she mewed her way into our home and hearts, but even more thankful that I have someone who understands how important that is.


I get a bit jittery at this time of the month. The new moon quite literally brings out my dark side and I’m prone to feeling anxious and on-edge. I have several friends – women in particular – who claim a similar effect at this point in the cycle. One, without fail, is inconsolable each month and then every time claims surprise when I tell her – yet again – that the moon is dark. It’s a powerful thing, our little satellite. The magnetism between her and Earth is such that she pulls our tides. Somehow that makes it not so hard to imagine her pulling little me.

Here she will rise, reborn, in the early hours of the morning and this month she does so audaciously and conspicuously, blocking the sun. Our first solar eclipse of 2010. Historically, eclipses were considered bad omens but whilst this isn’t a commonly held belief today, I find many magickal practitioners are reluctant to use these days for casting. The energies are unpredictable and the new moon is perhaps best used as a time to reflect.

To me, an eclipse often marks significant change and I like to contemplate quietly the things I am thankful for and the personal growth I hope to make with the waxing moon over the forthcoming month.  Whether you consider the meeting of these astral bodies as symbolic of the god and goddess embracing, the balance of masculine and feminine energies or the combination of light and dark in everything; whether you cast, pray or simply give thanks, I hope the day is an auspicious one for all.

With brightest blessings...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

When you wish upon a star...

...drop a coin into a wishing well, or blow out the candles on your birthday cake, have you ever considered carefully what you are doing and what it means?  These are sweet, superstitious practices for most, passed down from generation to generation and given an encouraging nudge by the film-makers at Disney: nothing more.

Sometimes there is genuine thought and desire behind a wish; often it is whimsical – a spur of the moment fancy. For me, it is the combination of thought and action (as with almost every aspect of life) which creates power. In practical terms, it is the intent with which something is done which provides its driving force.  If you take besom to hearth and create a sweeping motion, without intent to remove the dust, you will simply swirl it around the room; if you make a wish without clear intentions about the forthcoming outcome, it is unlikely you will recognise whether it has been achieved – or know that it is what you truly want.

In simple terms, a ‘spell’ is a form of wish: a desire for a particular outcome or change. What is beautiful and, paradoxically, often frightening about the concept is that what we desire is achievable simply by aligning our thoughts with our actions. It is within us. Whether you direct your intent towards a deity - or as I more often prefer to do, towards nature and the universe as a whole - the wish, spell, prayer is cast through visualisation of the hoped-for outcome amalgamated with the energy provided through an – often symbolic – action.

Dropping a coin into a well symbolises an offering to the universe; candles were historically put on cakes to symbolise the glowing of the moon – it was said that the smoke rising from them would carry a person’s prayers to the gods.  

As for me, I sent my wishes skyward this year by paper lantern, which carried my hopes into the universe gracefully. These intentions were coupled with the action of burying apples in a particular spot in my garden. In giving this offering back to the ground, I was visualising a symbollic outcome: my first snowdrop sighting. 

This symbol of hope represents the arrival of a much craved-for spring; life and light beginning to seep back into the darkness we currently find ourselves enveloped in. The next turn of the wheel. I never fail to feel joyous at the sight of that first fragile and most courageous of flowers, braving the February frosts. A beautiful metaphor for what the spirit can overcome.  

When I see these wondrous reminders raise their heads from a wintery slumber, at the spot where I buried my offerings and released my hopes to the sky, I will know my wishes have already begun to come true. 

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