A Witch’s guide to getting through the lockdown

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In the UK a lockdown was announced a few days after the Spring Equinox in order to prevent the spread of Covid- 19. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be aware of the coronavirus pandemic spreading from country to country.

It’s an uncertain time, and that uncertainty can lead to feelings of fear, depression and anxiety. Our government advised we can leave our homes pretty much once a day for exercise and essential trips to shops, doctors, etc. But going outside is also anxiety-inducing as there is the fear of coming across someone with the virus.

So in this period of helplessness and housebound isolation, what can we do to stay strong and defeat boredom whilst gaining control of our lives?

Knowledge

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A witch knows that no matter how much they study and learn, there is always more to be learned and they will never truly know it all. However this need not prevent us from enjoying the pursuit of knowledge.

Being stuck indoors is a good time to really get into a witchy project. I’m sure there is something you’ve always wanted to sink your teeth into but always convinced yourself you didn’t have the time or the energy?

If there’s nothing you can think of then have a look at the list below and see if anything calls out to you:

  • Learn tarot
  • Astrology
  • Herbalism
  • Sigils
  • Palmistry
  • Tea-leaf readings
  • Runes
  • Gem, stone and metal magick
  • Reading and interpreting the aura
  • Meditation techniques
  • Visualisation techniques
  • Astral projection
  • Glamour spells
  • Talismans and Amulets
  • Ancestor veneration
  • Spirit work
  • Folklore and mythology
  • Dream interpretation

 

Δ The Netflix Witch

 

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If you don’t have the focus to get into a study practice then that’s ok, maybe you just need some time to switch your mind to something that requires little effort, to just relax and unwind. Cue the multitude of streaming services available such Amazon, Netflix, Hulu etc.

Maybe you want to relax and get immersed in a witchy story? My recommendations are:

  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • The Originals
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Legacies
  • Luna Nera
  • Always a Witch (Siempre Bruja)
  • Good Witch
  • The Magicians
  • The Witcher
  • Once Upon  A Time
  • Grimm
  • Supernatural
  • American Horror Story
  • Bitten
  • Mortel
  • Salem
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
  • A Discovery of Witches
  • Midnight, Texas
  • Penny Dreadful

 

♦  Get Brewing

 

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I was raised on the merits of a good cup of tea from a young age. Tea was the go-to in a crisis, a time of uncertainty, and to unwind. A hot and sweet beverage that was warming and reassuring to seven year old me. Having a cup of tea in my hands made me feel rich beyond my imaginings. Which is interesting as black tea used magically is to aid in attracting prosperity and abundance.

And then in teen-hood I discovered the wonder of herbal teas and their magical properties, adding a whole new dimension of wonder to the steaming brew. Teas of all kind are very witchy drinks, and can be used as a potion if you want to add a magical twist to your daily beverage, hell you can turn the whole thing into a ritual if you want.

You should always check the contraindications of any herb before you ingest it, and if you’re on medication check with your doctor first.

You may be interested in herbal teas that aid in easing anxiety and stress, or for boosting the immune system, or to get a good night’s sleep.

Camomile is a relaxing tea and good to drink an hour before bed to get a good night’s rest.  Lemon balm is drunk to ease stress and anxiety, and nettle and green tea are full of nutrients to boost the immune system.

⊕ Lay the cards, throw the bones

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At times like this, when worried and uncertain, you may find it helpful to pull out a few tarot or oracle cards, or throw the bones for guidance.  They can help to put your mind at rest, but if you can’t get a clear reading then you should turn to a like-minded friend to read them for you.

Skype Coven Night

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So you may not get to meet your dearest witches in person, but being at home during the lockdown doesn’t have to mean no contact with the outside world. Arrange a time with your best witches to chat online, to have a laugh and discuss new ideas, practices, books and spell ideas. Make these calls as regular as possible to keep in touch with each other and to help you feel connected with people.

 

Bless and de-stress

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Keep your home clean and cleansed during this time, an untidy home will scatter your energies and cause discomfort. Once tidy, burn something cleansing such as sage, cedar or juniper to cleanse the space of negativity. Use an incense stick if you don’t have any of these.  Once done, light a white candle for harmony and peace in the home.

⊗ Curl up with a good book

 

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Fiction can take you to another world that can take your mind off of this one, well, unless you choose to read a dystopian novel. I wouldn’t recommend that right now. Most witches I know have a to-read pile as big as a house and now would be a good time to get stuck into that reading list. Currently this is one of the things I’m doing, and I’m trying not to buy any more books until I’ve got the to-read list reduced.

Δ Get it all out on paper

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Journalling is a good way to get any stress and anxiety out of yourself and onto paper. It’s very cathartic being able to put into words the things your struggle to say or feel you cannot say. Paper gives you the space and freedom to do that.  For an extra cathartic boost, if you have an indoor fireplace or wood burning stove, tear out the papers of your angst and cast them into the fire to be burnt away. You may feel like a weight has been lifted at this point. Got to love a bit of fire magick.

Alternatively, this is a good time to update your book of shadows/grimoire with thoughts, spells, recipes, rituals etc.

Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream…

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Meditation is a fantastic stress reliever. When things are getting too much, go someplace in your home that’s quiet and where you won’t be disturbed and take 5 – 10 minutes to tune everything out and find some peace.  Breathe, ground, and centre your energy.  Light a candle or some incense if you can.

If you struggle to switch off, you might find it easier to follow a guided meditation, or listen to relaxing music and nature sounds. There are a lot of these available on Youtube just now.

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At the end of the day, you’re not alone. We’re all going through this struggle together. It’s important to remember to look after yourself and to show kindness at a time when people may tend to react more out of fear and selfishness.  Pick up the phone and speak to people, check on your family, check on your friends. Stay connected this way and know that this situation is only temporary, things can and will get better ♥

Stay safe and be kind x

Friday 13th & Full Moon

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The full moon falling on Friday 13th September has been an emotional time for many out there, just going by what I’ve seen on my social media feed.

Full moons naturally heighten emotion anyway but with it falling in a water sign, anything repressed will bubble to the surface. I’ve been feeling it too. I had to work on some feelings of inferiority and feeling stuck in a job with no progression. I acknowledged those feelings, till the tears of frustration came and then afterwards felt a hell of a lot better. And then I made a deal with myself, to work to get to where I truly want to be.

A full Harvest moon on Friday the 13th was too good an opportunity to pass by. Like others I get complacent in my practice from time to time, and get sucked into the Netflix or Prime binge-watching sessions and full moons have come and gone without me doing anything. Partly, I can feel drained some full moons and consider it wise to conserve what little energy I have than spend it casting circles and calling in spirits.

As for Friday the 13th, I’ve always considered it a lucky day for me, I don’t spend the day dreading what may come and usually I find that everything works out just fine.

So, I’ve been complacent, and allowed the wheel to turn on many an occasion, but not this time. I felt fired up to do something, and now that I’ve finished University I would like to work in a job role that I can actually use my degree for.

Orange for success and opportunity, ginger and cinnamon for luck  and for a speedy outcome, acorns for prosperity and good luck, moss for manifestation and frankincense and myrrh for some oomph. A sprinkle of lavender for a peaceable outcome. A custom made sigil to act as a beacon to draw in that which I desire, a petition and success oil. A circle charged by moonlight, the four elements swirling and the witch gods lent their blessing. The whole concoction smelled amazing.

It felt good to be in that space again and time will tell what I manage to manifest.

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As you can probably tell, I don’t subscribe to the notion that doing spells for yourself is selfish. There are some out there that will only cast for other people and that’s fine for them. But I believe magic is meant for more than that; for self-improvement, to help us change and evolve. And like a muscle, it needs to be used in order to stay strong.

Witchcraft is tool for the oppressed and dispossessed, it helps to level out the playing field where others have a more natural advantage. With the state of the world at the moment, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many are being called on by war deities. I’m not saying war is coming in the literal sense, just a need to be prepared and to fight for your rights.

Beannachd  leibh

 

An update

It has been a while since I last blogged. I’ve needed the time to just be, to heal and to reflect. I became a bit of a hermit because that’s what I needed at the time.

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Grief is a strange phenomena. Sometimes when you think you are piecing yourself back together, something comes along: a memory, a scent, a sound which reminds you of your loved one’s absence and you’re back in that heartache. That’s how it’s been for me anyway, everyone grieves differently.

Besides being a hermit, I’ve had to focus more on my uni studies and I’m pleased to say I’ve completed my degree and will graduate next month. Studying towards a degree has been a challenge for me with working full time, losing loved ones the stress of day to day life, and I’m so pleased and relieved to have passed my course. Once I’ve graduated I will need to then do some research about what I would like to do with my degree. One path leads to another.

In other news, my partner and I got engaged and we’re getting married next year, so I’ve been doing a lot of wedding planning. We also bought our first house together and moved in during the winter months. So a lot has been going on for me this past year!

I plan to get back into blogging because I’ve really missed writing and researching folklore and witchcraft. So keep tuned because more content will be coming soon!

My fiance and I are just back from a trip to Berlin, and it was amazing exploring all of the sights such as the Berlin Wall, the TV Tower and Brandenburg Tor and trying currywurst for the first time. I’m now having currywurst withdrawal so I’m hoping when the next German food stalls appear in town they will be selling this as well as regular bratwurst.

 

We also went to see the Icelandic techno-punk BDSM perfomance art group Hatari play in Berlin, and it was honestly the best gig of my life. I loved it so much that I’m going to see them in London again next year for their Europe Will Crumble tour. Hatari have inspired me to get back into being my creative self, as well as looking deeply into the state of the world. Their music speaks of the paradox of man’s existence in a capitalist society, of the destruction we’re causing the planet and thus ultimately destroying ourselves. Everyone has a price, everyone is for sale. From their instagram:

Hatari is a political multimedia project which aims to unveil the relentless scam that is everyday life. We cannot change things, but we can unveil the anomie of neoliberal society, the pointlessness of every minute spent in the race, and the low price for which man sells himself ever more blatantly.

 

 

 

I had intentions to set up a witchy shop online, but I never got round to doing it due to studies. It’s something I consider doing every now and then but ultimately I’m unsure if I will at this stage. I’ve been rather busy as mentioned above!

I mentioned in a post a little while back about fundraising for the Tales of the Taibhsear album, and it’s been released and the project is such a success, that Scott of The Cailleach’s Herbarium also set up a organisation called The Woven Land Network designed to raise funds to restore and preserve important sacred sites around Scotland such as holy wells and standing stones as well as education people about their history (if known), their function and how to visit these sites respectfully. You can find out more on their facebook page or website: The Woven Land Network  It’s a very exciting project and I’m proud of Scott for working so hard to educate others and conserve these sites.

I plan to get blogging again more frequently, there are still plenty of folkloric tales to tell and spells to do.

Beannachd Leibh x

 

Tales of the Taibhsear-spoken word album of Scottish charms

I love folklore with a passion, and if it weren’t for the likes of Alexander Carmichael, F. Marian McNeill and Robert Kirk taking the time to collect and publish their research then much would be lost to history. By time, this often meant decades of painstaking research becoming their life’s greatest work. We owe them a great debt.

We can share their knowledge and many do now on social media. Scottish folklore is rising in popularity and with the introduction of Folklore Thursday on twitter and Facebook, the lore of our ancestors is shared around the globe within mere seconds. How quickly we can share information is staggering.

My friend Scott of Cailleach’s Herbarium has started a project to help preserve, record and share Scottish magical practices and folklore. Like the folklorists before him, he is concerned with ensuring Scotland’s rich cultural lore does not become lost in the mists of time.  Entitled Tales of the Taibhsear:

“Taibhhsear”  (pronounced tive’sher) is the title given to one who can see spirits of the dead – literally ghost seer. Capturing the essence of this  spoken word album project.

Scotland has many traditions such as this veiled within Gaelic charms, language and memories shared in metaphor and song.

With your support, we will be able to rediscover, reinvigorate, record and share a collection of these folk magic traditions in Gaelic and English, reclaiming them helping us share the knowledge with you and others.

 

Please share the link below and donate if you can ❤

 

Tales of the Taibhsear

 

Witch, Heal Thyself!

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I’ve been sick with a cold and chest infection for the past week and I know chest infections can last a while (had one before that took 2 months to clear!) so I’ve opted to use some herbal remedies alongside the usual ibuprofen.

***Please check with your GP if you are pregnant or have a health condition before using herbs***

 

Cold and Flu preventatives

If, like me, you are prone to getting colds and flu then you might want to look at ways to prevent the viruses taking hold by changing to a healthier lifestyle. Increase your water, fruit and veg intake, get some regular exercise, take time to relax and get plenty of sleep.

Other aids include echinacea. You can take this in tablet form or tincture form. Echinacea is said to help boost your immune system. The trick is to take it for 7-10 days straight then give your body a two week break then take them again. If you took it all the time your body would just get used to it and it wouldn’t provide any benefit to your immune system.

Elderberry tincture is said to help shorten the duration of colds. Can be taken as soon as you feel a cold coming on or if you’ve been in the presence of people with the cold. I usually make my own elderberry tincture but this year I was late in going foraging and missed out. I opted to buy some from the supermarket instead but it tastes too sweet. Elderberries are generally available to harvest between August – September. As well as for medicine they are good to use in cooking too. Elderberries are full of Vitamin C.

Here is a link about how to make your own elderberry tincture:

https://whisperingearth.co.uk/2010/09/12/elderberry-recipes-for-health-and-for-pleasure/

 

Herbal Tea for colds

I learned to make this in a herbalism class I was attending many moons ago. It has been my go-to tea when I feel a sniffle/sore throat coming on. I know most folk are put off herbal tea because the taste of some of them are really vile, but this one has the added benefit of tasting light and warming.

You will need:

  • A teapot
  • A mug
  • A tea strainer
  • 1 peppermint teabag
  • half a lemon
  • 2 inch slice of ginger root
  • half a cinnamon stick
  • a teaspoon of chopped licorice root
  • a spring of mint
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • a tablespoon of honey

Add the teabag to the pot, with the sliced ginger root, mint, licorice, cinnamon and thyme. Take the lemon and slice two pieces off. Cut off the rind and add the lemon to the pot, and with the remaining lemon squeeze the juice into the pot. Be sure to remove lemon seeds. Add boiling water until the pot is full and then the tablespoon of honey, stir it clockwise and put the lid on leaving the pot to brew for 5 minutes.

Strain and pour into your favourite mug. Drink 2 cups per day.

The peppermint and mint are great for headaches and blocked sinuses, ginger can help with pain and inflammation and its warming. Licorice root helps to clear the respiratory system by helping the body to produce healthy mucus which helps to keep the respiratory system functioning without old, sticky mucus clogging it. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and thyme contains an essential oil called thymol which helps alleviate coughing and fights bacteria. Lemons are rich in vitamin c and are great for flushing toxins out of the body, and honey is soothing on sore throats as well as being antibacterial.

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Onion Poultice

Great for treating congestion and chest infections.

Supplies:

Frying pan

3 tablespoons water

White dishtowel or any clean linen

2 onions

1/4 cup grated organic ginger, optional

Directions:

Chop and lightly saute the onions and ginger in a bit of water. The onions should be lightly cooked, not browned or caramelized.

Carefully drain the cooked onions and optional ginger and spread them out in the center of the dishtowel. Wrap the mixture in the towel burrito style, that is, fold the longer sides over the onions first and then fold the ends.

The onion poultice is now ready to place on the chest of the person suffering from congestion. Make sure the poultice is not too hot before doing this.

Alternatively, the onion poultice can be placed on the soles of the feet to draw the congestion out of the lungs to facilitate normalized breathing.  It is normal for very productive coughing to occur shortly after using the poultice as mucus is expelled from the lungs.

Leave the onion poultice in place for 20 minutes.  It can be gently reheated in the microwave and reused as necessary throughout the day.

It is best to make a fresh onion poultice every 24 hours or so.

Vapor Rub

Rubbed into the chest this can help treat congestion enough to be able to breathe more clearly. The most common is Vicks VapoRub but an alternative can be easily made at home.

You will need:

  • A tub of petroleum jelly
  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • a bowl
  • a spoon

To make as you go along:

Take a tablespoon of petroleum jelly and add to the bowl. Add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil and 2 drops peppermint and mix together. Use by rubbing onto the chest or on the soles of the feet before bedtime.

If you can’t stand the thought of using petroleum jelly, there is an alternative recipe here: https://wellnessmama.com/3527/natural-vapor-rub/

Eucalyptus oil is also great to add to an oil burner to help ease congestion.

 

Foods

I generally increase my intake of spicy foods like curries, and onions and garlic when I’m sick to help fight the infection faster. Spicy foods can also help to sweat out the flu especially if you’re feeling feverish. One time I made an onion syrup to use as a cough medicine and it was foul! Never again, I’ll stick to frying them and eating them!

Magical healing

While you are sick I would recommend staying away from trying to do magic yourself. If you have some friends in the reiki or witchy communities willing to help, you can ask for them to send you some healing energy. IF you do not have a support network of fellow pagans then do something simple, and try to avoid using your own energy to do it. Try not to charge or empower spells using your own energy; ask the spirits, the gods or the ancestors. Pray to the moon, the sun, stars and planets, pray to the elements and ask for their aid. Use the correspondences, the power of time, the phase of the moon, the properties of the herbs and crystals. Otherwise you may make yourself feel worse and hinder how quickly it will take you to heal.

The most important thing to do when you are ill is to take time to rest. Any plan or project that is not absolutely essential can be left on the back burner until you are fit and well again. Please practice self care when you are sick. If you can barely keep your eyes open then close down Netflix and get your sick bahookie to bed.

Slàinte mhor! (great health) to you dear reader.

 

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Martin’s Stane

 

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Today I dragged my lovely man out in the cold air, crunching across a frosty field to see our local Pictish stone. Known as the Balluderon stone, St Martin’s stone or Martin’s Stane this is said to be the site where a local hero avenged the death of his lover by slaying the dragon who killed her. There were nine maidens and their father who lived at Pitempton farm. He sent a daughter out to fetch water from.a well and when she didn’t return he sent another and another until all nine maidens had been sent. Martin, a young blacksmith and lover of one of the daughters found that a dragon from the well had eaten all of the maidens and he chased the dragon around Dundee.

The saying goes:

‘Tempted at Pitempton,
Draigled at Baldragon
Stricken at Strathmartine
And killed at Martin’s stane.’

Each of these are places names around Dundee. I have ties to Pitempton through my grandfather and great grandfather who ran Pitempton farm many years ago. So for me not only was this a fascinating link to history but also a connection to my ancestors. I took home a piece of natural quartz from the field and will set it on my ancestors altar.

Family is a big thing for me right now, with my brother passing away over a year ago and sadly more recently we lost our mother who passed away unexpectedly and hit us all hard. It’s been a very sombre Yule and New Year.  I’m taking the time to appreciate each day making more time to spend with my relatives, and acknowledging those gone before me.

 

The Sidlaws, the fairy hills of Angus and Perthshire:

 

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Finishing off the day with a beautiful sunset

 

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Where has the witch been? Updates and upcoming news

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This year is flying in so fast, I can’t believe it’s now October. I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front partly because I’ve just wanted to be lazy and chill out when I can and partly it has been because my energies have been elsewhere. Earlier this summer I had a 3 hour exam I had to prep for and it wasn’t fun at all so a lot of my energy lay there and also I was searching for a new job so a lot of time went to that too, as well as factoring in spending time with friends, family and date nights with my lovely man ❤

This autumn and winter will involve more studying for my course but I also plan to throw myself into more witchery when I get the chance.

I’ve been ‘earthing’ a lot lately, so much so that even my altar room is filled with earth tones and items. I must be needing it. A witch ought to be strongly connected to the earth after-all – we are part of it.  I even started some gardening, I foraged some herb clippings and made a potted herb garden outside my home and the lovely man dug a space for us to plant potatoes. Hopefully they will be ready to harvest late November if other things haven’t gotten to them first!

I’ve learned a new skill – Crochet! I made a pair of hand warmers and hope to learn some more crochet projects this winter such as scarves, hats and shawls.

I subscribed to Witch Casket last month and received my first parcel and was not disappointed. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the October one.

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I used my gathering tote bag this afternoon to do some foraging in nearby woodland. I picked up some bramble stems, conkers and acorns after giving the spirits a few drams of Stag’s Breath Liqueur. I’m going out again tomorrow to a local nature trail for some rowan and elder. I’ve hinted today that I have a new project I’m working on and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m setting up my own witchcraft business! Still in the early days just now, I have a lot of planning to do and materials to source but I’m so friggen excited about it! Who knows, all going well I may be able to do it full time and give up the day job (I can dream!).

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It’s finally Autumn! I get so excited about this time of year, summer won’t be missed be me! I’m all about the hot drinks, pumpkin spice everything and wooly jumpers! Now is the time to start gathering energies inwards now, keep a reserve of strength to use over the cold hush of winter. Plus one of these will give you all the autumnal vibes:

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Pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks

I have a few blog post ideas to write up so hopefully I will get that done soon as I keep meaning to write more on here instead of microblogging on Tumblr which is far too easy.

Hope you are all doing well and this season brings you much prosperity!

Beannachd leibh

 

Payments to your spirits and gods 



Your spirits and gods demand your payment as soon as they have delivered on their side of any deal made.
They do not care if you have other things going on in your life, if you are late in offering their payment they will send not-so-gentle reminders that you owe them.

To give an example, I petitioned Bride for help in finding a new place to live. It was an urgent request as my boyfriend  moved in with me and my tiny flat wasn’t big enough for us and our stuff. I promised Bride that she would get a special space set up for her in the kitchen of our new home. 
We get a house straight away and move in a couple of days after signing the lease. Everyone knows moving home is stressful and keeps you busy. Unboxing years of stuff and books (oh so many books) takes time. So I did not set up her shrine space straight away. I said to myself I’d do that once I’ve settled in properly.

Bride saw things differently. Our gas boiler broke down about a week after moving in. It was November and it was freezing. The whole boiler system needed replaced and we went two weeks without central heating using shitty convector electric heaters which ran up our electricity bill.
I realised it looked like I hadn’t paid my due to Bride even though I had every intention of doing it. Action speaks louder however so I set up her shrine space once it clicked in my head. If I’d done this in the first place I’d have saved money on my electricity and wouldn’t have spent two weeks freezing my arse off during a Scottish winter. 
Pay your dues asap folks. Spirits and gods don’t like to wait..

Book Review – ‘Wights and Ancestors, Heathenry in a Living Landscape’ by Jenny Blain

 

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Wights and Ancestors – Heathenry in a Living Landscape‘ was first published in 2000 and has now been reprinted in 2016 with additional essays. Jenny Blain gives a fascinating insight into the varied types of beings inhabiting the landscape and ways in which we can respectfully and safely interact with them. She details how to discover one’s fylgja – which is essential for safely navigating the other world. She advises ways to meet the wights and introducing one’s self to a tree spirit, all to be conducted respectfully before entering the being’s space.

I admire that Jenny Blain has discussed shamanism and that by doing the things a shaman does – i.e. entering the other world, meeting spirits etc – does not make one a shaman. Shamanism is not an individual activity and shamans were usually selected by their community. This is an important statement where any kind of spirit work is involved as many take upon the mantle of shamanism without understanding the full cultural context of the word.

Jenny also discusses sacred sites and what makes them sacred and how landscapes are not static – they have their own processes of erosion, silt deposition etc and that because of human interaction, a landscape becomes cultured and interpreted by people in many ways. The land itself is a being, populated by many other sentient beings and plays a part within the settings of many tales.

Jenny also discusses ancestry and her own personal discoveries of her own family research in Scotland. The reader is taken down a fascinating journey into Scotland’s landscape and the ties the author has to the places of her youth. She discusses that landscapes are “more than history and personal memory. They are living, now, and have their own place-ness which impacts on the tourist, traveller, viewer or seeker“.

I am not overly familiar with the beliefs and terms of Heathenry or Seidr, but this book is written in a way that provides good explanation without being overwhelming. The use of personal anecdotes and the stories shared with the author from other practitioners gives a better understanding of the exchange between a person and wight. Although the concepts of land wights and ancestry are written about within a Heathen context, the guidelines given seem universal – the author even advises to look into fairy tales for wisdom before approaching land wights. A lot of it is common sense, the most important thing to remember is to be respectful.

I would greatly recommend this book, whether one identifies as heathen or not. This is a good read for anyone interested in animism, seidr, spirit work or heathenry. Using the advice within this book provides a good foundation when building relationships with the land spirits.