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.

◊◊◊

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

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.

 

Celebrating Imbolc

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Bride’s cross

 

Last night I met up with my local pagan moot to celebrate Imbolc. Braving the harsh wind and rain from Storm Henry, we gathered and huddled inside the building clutching steaming cups of tea and coffee.

We gathered around the altar, gazing into the candle representing Bride’s hearth fire, with Bride in her bed overlooking our circle. A motley crew of pagans; among our party was a heathen, two animist folk witches, a green witch and a kemetic witch. Yet despite our different paths and beliefs we met common ground and came together to celebrate the season. We all took turns talking about what this time of year meant for us. For me it is as though I were a bear, slowly coming out of a spiritual hibernation. Winter makes me retreat, hermit-like and I store my energy inwards to help me focus on the mundane tasks at hand.

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Bride in her bed

But as soon as Imbolc approaches I feel the need to go forth like a seedling bursting through the cold, damp soil towards the promise of the sun. The inner fires within me burn and rise, and I feel the aching need to get back into my craft and socialise, as well as plot and plan projects over springtime. Bride has come, and She renews us, giving us the vitality needed to break out of the lackluster winter darkness.

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Moot Imbolc Altar

We cleansed ourselves with incense and blessed water with purifying herbs, using a bird’s foot as an aspergillum. We each lit a candle from the central hearth fire, and later snuffed it out to be relit, taking Bride’s fire into our homes. The moot co-ordinator Ffyona guided us through a seasonal meditation and I felt myself relaxing, sinker deeper and deeper into it, the imagery filling my senses. When it was done I felt like I’d woken up from a nice long nap. Using the energy we’d gathered, and the light from Bride’s hearth flame we sent out healing to loved ones and took some of the healing within us too.

Then after all the energy work, we laughed and chatted and feasted together 🙂

Although we were a small gathering this time round, I can attest to the success of our moot as I was one of the co-founders. The moot is now running in its fifth year and going strong.

A moot is only successful when it’s members contribute. So please folks, support your moots and gatherings. They are run by hard working volunteers with busy lives,  so although showing up to moots is great, perhaps you can also offer to lend a hand? If you have a skill, or a talent, put it to use 🙂 Moot co-ordinators don’t want to be running the show 24/7, the point of a moot is to create a safe community for members to get to know others of a like mind and for celebration, but also as a place of learning. We all have something we can contribute to the community.

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My Imbolc celebration has turned into a two day event. This evening I relit my hearth flame from the candle I used at the moot to welcome Bride into the home, an offering of milk was placed on my altar and then I made some Bride’s crosses out of pipe cleaners.

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I am looking forward most to the days lasting longer and can’t wait to get out foraging again when new things start popping up out of the soil.

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Bride’s hearth flame

Wishing you all a very blessed Imbolc, Là Fhèill Brìghde and Candlemas.

slàinte mhath!

 

At the Magical Crossroads in Scotland, 1979

Added this book to my Amazon wishlist, I’m all over Scottish witchcraft, coming from a Wiccan background I’ve now turned to more traditional Scottish folk ways. It will be interesting to read how the two types will play out in the novel

Druid Life

A guest post by Suzanne d’Corsey

When Nimue Brown kindly invited me to offer a guest blog to her site, spurred by the publication of my novel The Bonnie Road, the topic of witchcraft in the book was the obvious choice to explore.

The Bonnie Road takes place at a pivotal time in the history of our Western neo-Paganism, in Scotland, 1979. This was when the secretive followers of the Auld Ways existed in a relatively static state; when a quiet movement was underway to uncover and make meaningful a pre-Christian legacy; when many strands twined together in the New Age movement, of passionate explorers of lay lines, earth mysteries, of UFO sightings, of Findhorn finding its feet, all these trends rising against the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher’s new government. Add to the mixture the encroachment from England of a relatively new style of witchcraft that came to be known…

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