Treelore: Alder

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The Raven calls, watching, waiting,
shield raised and spear tip bright,
blood river flows, tumbling, turning,
from the darkness to the light.

Pass my weapons, hexing, healing,
teach me truly I ask you and pray,
walking in both worlds, softly, safely,
to bring to each the brightest of days.

~ by Haloquin

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The Cad Goddeu tells of Bran being known for the alder leaf on his shield. Bran, whose body formed a bridge for his army to cross in order to rescue his sister. Bran, whose head continued to prophecy after his death. Bran, whose ravens guard Britain yet.

Bran, if you’re listening, I could really use your help right now…

The whispered wish melted into tears turned inward. He was drowning in them, barely holding onto thoughts for the grief that was washing him away down the river at his feet. 

A rough cough intruded.

He raised his head. 

No-one in sight.

The cough repeated.

He looked higher. There in the branches of the riverside tree a great black bird peered down. 

For a moment, time stood still and all was peaceful. 

Then, a single thought; the door is not locked, there is always a path ahead.

The raven clacked its beak and launched itself into flight, a single feather falling in its wake as time clicked into place. It landed in the river and span, caught in an eddy, until he scooped it out from between the alder catkins.

For the first time, Gwern felt strong enough to leave.

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Latin Name: Alnus glutinosa

Clues for Identification: Smooth leaves shaped like a shield with an indented tip and serrated edges. It has male (long, smooth) and female (round) catkins. The female catkins become tiny cones in their second year. The bark is dark brown/grey. It is often found by rivers as it spreads its seeds by floating them downriver.

Herbal Properties: The leaves are antibacterial and, fresh, may repel insects. A bark decoction may treat burns, wounds and inflammation. (Reminder; I’m not a herbalist. Please check for details and contraindications before self-medicating!)

Interesting facts: Alder fixes nitrogen into the soil and its roots prevent erosion of the riverbank, so it literally heals and protects the land! When cut it turns an orange colour, as though bleeding… A proper wounded healer thing going on there.

Practical Properties: It will not rot in water, but burns with an intense heat if seasoned well. Its bark will make a red dye, the twigs will make a brown dye, and its flowers will make a green dye, said to have been the dye that colours the clothes of both Robin Hood and the Fair Folk as it was used by outlaws.

Magical Properties: Unlucky to encounter on a journey in Ireland, but the fresh leaves are lucky when placed in a traveler’s shoes. (Perhaps because he seeks difficult situations, but will lend you his shield?) It is said that you can divine prophecy from the smoke and the flickering flame. Alder is associated with both fire and water, and thus balance. The warrior-king connection leads to associations with sacrifice and defense, and I associate alder with fatherhood and the divine masculine as a protective principle, as well as endurance, particularly emotional. 

Originally posted on Patreon. Thank you to my Patrons for your support! If you like what I write then please do consider supporting me as a Patron here. Your support means I can write more for you! And you get the posts early… *tempts*

You can also tip me via ko-fi, it all helps!

You can also Follow the blog, Share this post, and find me on Twitter to join in the conversation for free!

Over to you in the comments. What is your shield? Where is your strength? What do you know of the riverside alder?

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Treelore: Willow

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willow leaves with spikey catkins
Willow in late spring with spiky catkins…
 Tendrils swaying in the flow
 spirit dancing, grief let go,
 the wish of weaving, healer's hope,
 time's sweet mistress, help me cope. 

~ by Haloquin

Underneath the willow boughs I sit, salt-streaks on my cheeks. The moonlight glints on the ripples below, each flash reflecting the slight pounding in my skull. I knew this time was coming, this moment when I would have to rise and shed the cloak of the familiar, but precognition is no protection from heartache. Still. I held on for as long as I could. 

The pale green surrounds me, the catkins flowering in the darkness, and that which was is no longer. My shelter from the open water downstream; gone. I push aside the gentle curtain and emerge, her song soft in my soul washing away the tensions and easing the pain, though I’ll feel that loss for years to come. When something has been part of the weaving of your life for so long it shapes the banks of your spirit, but the water still flows down to the sea.

As the sky turns dusky pink I step from the banks and let the river wash the tearstains away. One chapter is over, but another is just beginning.

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Latin Name: Salix alba

Herbal Properties: Willow bark tea; tonic, astringent, antiperiodic, analgesic. Reduces fever, may ease rheumatism.

Contraindications: Aspirin allergies or conditions where aspirin is contraindicated, such as bleeding disorders, pregnancy, or if you are taking other medications as they may interact.*

Magical Keywords: Deep dreaming, balancing emotions, initiation/bursting forth, healing grief, flexibility, letting go, moon, underworld travel, learning to change. Visions/seership. Water divining. Keeping secrets.

Historical Notes: If you knock on a willow tree it was said to send away bad luck, if you tell the willow your secrets it will always keep them. 

Practical Properties: Willow weaving – baskets etc. The branches weave well and can be shaped into baskets, sculptures, and fences. Cuttings will root in water, and release a rooting chemical to encourage other plants to root too. Will grow really easily and fast… so if you shape a fence from fresh branches and plant it, it will very likely grow! 

Clues for Identification: There are many varieties of willow, the most iconic being weeping willow with its long leaves and drooping branches. The leaves are often long and narrow, the branches are pliable, and it loves damp places.

* Please check with a qualified herbalist before self medicating with plants, they can be very powerful. This information is just to give inspiration for magical workings. I am not a qualified herbalist!

Originally posted on Patreon. Thank you to my Patrons for your support! If you like what I write then please do consider supporting me as a Patron here. Your support means I can write more for you! And you get the posts early… *tempts*

You can also tip me via ko-fi, it all helps!

You can also Follow the blog, Share this post, and find me on Twitter to join in the conversation for free!

Over to you in the comments. What stories of Willow would you like to share?

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Treelore: Rowan

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Have you ever seen...
you must have!
That flash of flame
at water's edge.
Bird-loved berries 
burning delicate frame.
There was no hiding
from the heat
which so swiftly came.
And through the walls 
between the worlds,
I heard my name...

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Perched on the edge, their stick slender and strong beneath their hand, black cloak tattered along the edges by the winds, flame-haired Quickbeam watched over the traveller approaching the gate below.

“Why?” They called out. The traveller looked up, startled.

“Why what?” He replied.

“Why are you travelling?” Quickbeam clarified.

Quickbeam always asked, before unlocking that gate between the mountains. Only one reason sufficed, from any traveller, one and only one was acceptable; that they had a purpose. It didn’t matter which, as long as there was something. 

And there always was. 

To find healing, knowledge, adventure. To escape hardship, or success. To discover one’s self. To simply move and breathe and be. There was always a reason. And better, knew Quickbeam, if it were a guiding spark that offered hope when the going got tough. 

“I… I don’t know.” Replied the traveller.

Quickbeam grinned, beckoning him to sit upon the ledge beside them awhile, berry-tinted mead at the ready.

“Then you’d better stay with me until you do.”

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Latin Name: Sorbus aucuparia

Other Names: Mountain Ash, Quickbeam.

Edible: Berries contain vitamin C (dried or cooked, do not eat fresh berries.)

Herbal Properties: Astringent, Antirheumatic, Diuretic, Laxative, Antiscorbutic, Emmenagogue, Aperitive, Hypoglycemic. Used to treat for candidiasis, kidney disease, sore throat, period pains, diarrhea and hemorrhoids. Also reducing inflammation, especially of respiratory system, and increasing metabolism.

Contraindications: Avoid during pregnancy. Excessive use may cause vomiting, do not eat fresh berries. (Ask a professional before use… I am not a doctor!)

Magical Properties: Strongly protective, especially of the home. Rowan and red thread together are a traditional protective charm against magic and bad luck. Psychic power, divination and healing, an all-round magical booster. Creativity, success and transformation through its association with fire. Opens the gateway to otherworlds. The second tree in the Ogham tree alphabet. 

Historical Notes: There were often taboos against using the wood, or cutting it with a knife. Twigs were bound into an equal armed cross for protection woven with thread (Brigid’s Crosses), or used to divine for metals. Rowan berry jelly is traditionally eaten with game meats in Scotland, and the berries are used in various alcoholic drinks.

Physical Properties: Red berries have a pentagram on the base. The wood is resilient and its strength lends it to making good walking sticks. As the trees are small it is used accordingly, for handles, spindles and spinning wheels, traditionally. The bark and berries can make a black dye.

Clues for Identification: Clusters of flowers in spring, bright red berries in autumn. Leaflets in sets with pairs opposite each other and one at the tip (similar to ash). Small tree, can grow in silly places like cliff ledges.

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Originally posted on Patreon. Thank you to my Patrons for your support! If you like what I write then please do consider supporting me as a Patron here. Your support means I can write more for you! And you get the posts early… *tempts*

You can also tip me via ko-fi, it all helps!

You can also Follow the blog, Share this post, and find me on Twitter to join in the conversation for free!

Over to you in the comments. Tell me why you’re travelling… And what do you know of the Quicksilver tree?

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Treelore: Silver Birch

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birch leaves in sunlight
 Ghostlike,
 we begin.
 Skin stretched paper-thin,
 act two nears its end.
 A Wisp carried us here,
 a wind-wish winding 
 ever onwards,
 blown by whispered promises,
 secrets, 
 declarations
 of love and longing.
 We settled.
 Our roots are deep enough,
 nestling in blown soil,
 but leaves turn 
 and winter carries our wishes far from here. 
                                                                                                         ~ By Haloquin

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Silver Birch, the tree of beginnings. First sign of the forest, carried by the wind, bright bark peeling and waiting for wishes to be inked on its curls. White lady watching over the keys to the otherworld, she keeps her counsel. Her footsteps across the threshold lead the way into lands beyond the everyday, wherever we wish to go, she has been there before. Her delicate fingers point the way, gusts whipping her pale green shawl about her shoulders as she turns back to her current craft, carving a love spoon to stir fresh flying ointment, bubbling over the bright fire.

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Latin Name: Betula pendula

Edible: (In moderation) Sap can be made into syrup/wine, full of vitamins and minerals. Steep leaves in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks to extract nutrients. Buds are high in vitamin C.

Herbal Properties: Anti-inflammatory, astringent, laxative/stimulates digestive system, diuretic. Buds are antibiotic and diuretic. Steep leaves in water to make an astringent skin wash. 

Contraindications: Contains methyl salicylate, as in aspirin. Avoid if allergic to aspirin, using medications containing aspirin or blood thinning meds, if elderly, or have blood related issues. Use with caution if pregnant or nursing.

Magical Properties: Linked to the Norse rune Berkana and the Ogham letter Beith, beginnings, renewal, courage. Psychic protection from spirits or on (astral) journeys. Resilience. Love and fertility, particularly inception. 

Historical Notes: Once used to flavour chewing gum and soft drinks! 

Practical Properties: Pale wood, used in handicrafts, furniture making and to make paper, good kindling/tinder. Used to make besom brooms. Resin makes a waterproof glue. It grows fast, spread by the wind, and is a pioneer species, often one of the earliest trees to grow in an area, and one of the first to leaf in spring… A hardy tree, even though it appears fragile.

Clues for Identification: White birch that peels like paper in young trees, catkins in spring, small, smooth, triangular leaves with serrated edges, visually delicate branches. 

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(Please consult a qualified herbalist if using medicinally, this information is shared for inspirational purposes only!)

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Originally posted on Patreon. Thank you to my Patrons for your support! If you like what I write then please do consider supporting me as a Patron here. Your support means I can write more for you! And you get the posts early… *tempts*

You can also tip me via ko-fi, it all helps!

You can also Follow the blog, Share this post, and find me on Twitter to join in the conversation for free!

Over to you in the comments. Please share your tales of Silver Birch… your memories and imaginings… I’d love to hear them.

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The Wildness of Weeds

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Let me be wild and free,
not the wildness of wolves,
but the wildness of weeds.
The tenacity of swallows,
the dancing of bees,
the blossoming hawthorn,
the sunlit sea.
Let me be wild
and let me be free.
Not the wildness of storms,
but the wildness of me.

~By Haloquin
First published in Touchstone, OBOD's community magazine.

Stepping outside of the known into magic, into the wildness of that which is untamed, is the path of a witch. There are paths of magic which are tightly controlled, where precise words must be said at precise times, and there are paths where one follows the ebb and flow of the moon, the tides, the whispering winds. Both paths have benefits. A formulaic ritual gives structure and consistency, it gives guidelines for when one lacks energy to innovate, or the self confidence to trust the tug of intuition. It carries the magic of repetition and trains the mind to follow set pathways which have a history of working. The wilder paths, however, take self-trust, and teach it. They require listening, but that means you are always seeking the path of least resistance. They weave into your everyday life and movements until you are crafting magic with every step, every breath, every word.

This is true in so much of life. There are structured ways of doing things, and more intuitive ways. Cooking, dancing, making music, making love. Even answering emails, planning your day, going to sleep. Often a balance between the two makes for the best life. Structure as a container and foundation – deliberate and daily checking in with the magic through prayer, meditation, ritual, offerings – and honing one’s intuition and the courage to follow it – paying attention to the niggling feeling in the gut, the pulling and longing in the heart, the flow of life and making a wish on the first star of the evening – combine together to build the skills you need to live a magical life, and the habit of thinking to use them, along with the freedom to step outside the expectations of the everyday and into an enchanted way of being… 

What is it that you do, or could do, every day to remind yourself of the magic in your life? To start bringing it to your attention more fully? What container can you build yourself to encourage the wildness of magic which brings the possibility of miraculous transformation?

In case you’re stuck, here are some ideas:

* Step outside at bedtime and make a wish on the first star you see

* Spend a few minutes each day paying attention to your breathing, whilst sitting still or whilst walking. Your breathing is where you connect to the world. Where the edges of yourself opens to the energy around you.

* Stop and hug or say hi to your favourite tree every time you walk past it, or at least the first time each day that you do so. Remind yourself that trees are alive and respond to us.

* Sing a little song to your houseplants. They can hear us.

* Pick a prayer to whichever god/s or spirit/s most appeal to you. This could even be your Divine Spirit. Ask for their blessing on your day each morning. 

* Tell the trees your dreams. Let the spirits know that you remember that you are a spirit being walking between this world and the dream world. Remind yourself of this often.

* Feed the birds. Each time you do it, dedicate the action to the spirits of the air.

* Begin to notice when the world feels brighter, more alive, enchanted…

Above all else, make it playful.  Dance with the world and the world will dance with you.

Originally posted on Patreon. Thank you to my Patrons for your support! If you like what I write then please do consider supporting me as a Patron here. Your support means I can write more for you! And you get the posts early… *tempts*

You can also tip me via ko-fi, it all helps!

You can also Follow the blog, Share this post, and find me on Twitter to join in the conversation for free!

Over to you in the comments. What will you do to invite that magic and wonder deeper into your life?

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NEW PODCAST!

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Hello my lovely people!

I’ve been a busy bunny gathering stories and crafting gifts for you all and I’ve just completed episode one of the new Blue Hare Podcast! This will be audio adventures in storytelling, magic, and life with myself and featuring guests such as the musicians and street performers, the Brilliant Resiliant Safely Distant Damsels, archaeologist and bard, Will Rathouse, and storyteller and wise woman Milly Jackdaw.

You can listen to episode one here! Where I, your host Halo Quin, introduce the whole endeavour and share the legendary Welsh tale; The Birth of Taliesin. 

Come, join the adventure! https://anchor.fm/haloquin/

You can also support me via Patreon and get access to material early…

(And you can find the episodes on Spotify, Breaker, Google Podcasts and more… go check out the link to see allllll the options!)

Here’s wishing you all happy thoughts and pixie dust,

~Halo

(Living happily by the sea on the coast of West Wales, and very grateful for the magic and love in my life.)

 

Happy Solstice!

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I’ve just finished giving a talk based on my book, Gods and Goddesses of Wales, at an online moot for a group in South Wales, the sun is shimmering on the waters of the bay outside my window, and I’m filled with joy. I shared the tale of the Birth of Taliesin, about my philosophy for connecting with deities through stories, and about how we are our own authority in our relationships with the gods (just, y’know, don’t claim it is an independent truth if it’s a personal one!)

I’ve been so busy doing that I’ve not been updating here as much as I used to, but I’ve got some major projects in the works which I will share with you all very soon, so watch this space.

For today, however, I wanted to share a little meditation for the Solstice. Light a candle if you can, read the following, and then reflect. You can listen to the audio and sign up to support my work on Patreon here.

Today is the Solstice, where the sun stands still in the sky. In the Northern hemisphere we are bathed in light, and we can feel the sun strengthening our spirits. In the Southern Hemisphere it is the longest night, where the stars are held in the deep dark sky. There is a saying that every flame is part of the same fire, from the flame in your candle to the fire of the sun and the stars, so we are all connected in community together through the flame and the light.

The light casts a shadow, it illuminates and it obscures. In the darkness is the potential of all that could be, it is the belly of Ceridwen’s cauldron and the darkness of the fertile soil. We stand, bathed in light, whilst the world turns to head back into the darkness of potential and dreams. Even at the greatest point of light, darkness is, just as at the points of most darkness, light resides.

Place your hand on your heart and feel the sunlight fill it with golden light. Let that light grow with each breath. Spend some time reflecting on who you are when you are your biggest, brightest self. When do you feel most fully who you are in all your glory? When do you feel strongest, most powerful, most alive? Breathe in that feeling. Hold that feeling for a moment as you let yourself relax into this space. Feel the light of the sun filling your heart holding the light of your brightest self. Know that at any point you feel like you are struggling and the world is darkening, you can place your hand over your heart and remember this light, remember your strongest self. This is always a part of you, no matter what, so you can let it guide you through any darkness you encounter ahead.

Happy Solstice, lovely folk.

To listen on Patreon, click here.

And Happy Pride Month. For those that are still in the closet-shadows, and those that stand in the light, may we all be safely seen and accepted for who we are.

In Delight,

~Halo

Folkloric Faery Magic – Online Course!

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Folkloric Course Postcard

What is Folkloric Faery magic?

Faery magic is working magic in relationship with faery spirits, who are primarily (arguably) spirits with close ties to the land and the “green” world. I’ve spent my entire life working with the Fae in one way or another, from greeting them everywhere as a child, to my current practise of prayer, honouring the Land Spirits, storytelling to share their magic, and travelling to Faeryland (in a manner often described as shamanic).

In this course I will be guiding you through some folkloric elements of faery magic so you can deepen your understanding and build your own practice in relationship with these spirits.

The six main lessons are:

  1. What is Folkloric Faery Magic? Getting Started, altars, and understandings.
  2. Opening the Way: A Foundation for working safely with the Fair Folk.
  3. Beginning On the Path: Recognising Faery Magic, making contact, and offerings.
  4. Crossing the Rivers: Magical Housework, Faery gateways, and the Beloved Dead.
  5. Entering Faeryland: Faery taboos and customs, and dreamwork.
  6. Returning Home: Finding clues to continue onwards, house spirits, and your path ahead.

How does this Online Course work? Beta Testing!

This course is delivered by email, six main lessons sent out weekly for you to work on at your own pace. For this first round I will be taking questions each week and potentially adding in new material in a variety of media – for example, I intend to send out audio recordings of the stories, weekly Q&As, and to be on hand for support via email.

Special Offer for beta testers!

Alongside the six main lessons you will receive:

  • Email Q&A – ask me questions and I’ll send out a weekly round up of questions asked by everyone on the course and my responses, advice, and recommendations for resources. This has the potential to be a huge resource for everyone as every individual brings something to the table and questions inspire new connections and information sharing of what you find important in your practice.
  • Random extra materials – audio, video, art, poetry, suggestions for creative projects… who knows! I’ll be listening to the spirits and responding to the participants so this beta testing round will be growing and expanding in new and interesting ways.
  • You get to shape the course! The main lessons are all written, but there is so much more to play with and explore. Tell me what you want from it as we go along and there’s a good chance it will appear!
  • The option to connect with others working through this in real-time. In future I will be setting this up as a home-study course so folk will be engaging at different speeds, so not only do you get my feedback and support if you join this time around, you also get to make like-minded connections and support, inspire, and encourage each other!

As you’ll be helping to improve this course and I’m excited to create it with you, but I’m going to be offering a lot more support than in future cycles, I’m going to limit this course to a maximum of 12 participants and offer it at an introductory price…

£60 (GBP) for the 6 weeks through Paypal (click here!)

Deadline for Booking: Midnight (BST), Sunday 28th July, 2019.

Course starts Monday 29th July, 2019

Your place is secured on receipt of payment. Contact me for installment plans, or alternative methods of payment.

Any Questions? Email me on haloquin (at) gmail (dot) com!

About Halo:

I’ve spent my entire life pixie led, and have been explicitly devoted to the Faery Queen for about a decade, with two decades of faery relations, magical work, and training under my belt. I’ve taught classes on working with the elements, the spirits of the land, stories old and new and many others, but my favourite classes are always those working with the Fae. It is my honour to share this work with you. My book, “Pagan Portals: Your Faery Magic” has found a home with over 1000 faery lovers and my storytelling show The Goblin Circus, born of a union between faery magic and performance, has appeared at many events across Britain, enchanting as we go. For more from me, explore this site

 

NEW BOOK RELEASED!!! – Gods and Goddesses of Wales

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It’s here!!! Midsummer 2019 has completed a piece of devotion for me…

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Pagan Portals: Gods and Goddesses of Wales is out!!!

I’m really excited to announce the manifestation of my newest book, a practical introduction of Welsh deities and their stories, through their stories. It’s designed as a primer to get started on your journey with beings such as Rhiannon, Blodeuwedd, Taliesin, Gwydion, and more. There’s even a pronounciation guide at the back (thanks Sarah!)

Here’s the official blurb:

An introduction to Welsh deities through traditional myths and practical exercises. Written by a practising witch, living in the heart of Wales and working with the deities woven into the land, this book contains the major stories and backgrounds for the Gods and Goddesses of the heartland of the Druids. Within its pages you will find information on the major deities and where their stories can be found, alongside suggestions on how to connect with them and weave relationships with them into a modern pagan practice.

You can order this through your favourite bookstore, they’ll find it under author “Halo Quin” (publisher: Moon Books) or through amazon.

Looks like I’m living the dream… a published author 😀 Thanks to everyone who supports me, who encourages, proofreads, inspires, shares, buys, reviews and generally cheers me on. Couldn’t do it without you (In fact, without you all, there’d be no point.) This last year has been a wild ride and in amongst it all the gods of this land have been woven…I’m glad to do my part in sharing their stories. What is remembered, lives.

Happy Thoughts,

Halo Quin x

Overlooking a sunny Ceredigion Bay in wild, West, Wales.

Book Cover YFM

My first “Moon Book” can be found here!

 

Feeling Falsely Fraudulent

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Creative Writing Pic

Creative Writing Classes… because apparently I’m a teacher?

 

I know, I know, we all get it. But damn imposter syndrome is REAL and hard.

I’ve just (after several weeks of not because… resistant brain?) made event pages for two writing classes I’m starting next month. I’ve been running one in Carmarthen for the last six months and it’s been wonderful. The students came with such a wide range of experience and backgrounds – from the jewellery maker who hasn’t written since school, to the professional non-fiction writer who wanted to stretch his story-crafting muscles – and have each inspired me with what they’ve achieved. Their feedback has shown me I can teach these classes, and yet…

I hit post on the event pages and immediately began doubting myself. What if people turn up and I discover I can’t do it? What if I let them down? What if I’m kidding myself and this is not remotely viable for me as a possible career thread… What if these classes were just a fluke? What if they discover I really haven’t got a clue?!

My sensible brain knows that I am, actually, good at this. I have some major challenges around making the classes happen and promoting them (ADHD non-linear butterfly brain, anyone?) but when I’m there, in the space, it’s wonderful.

But oh gods, I really just want to hide now!

This is a good opportunity to practice self-acceptance, however. I am not just my limitations, and not just the easy parts of me. I’m also someone who loves to teach, and who can and does get up in front of a roomful of people and takes a risk on being seen for who and what I am. Hopefully, I’ll continue to prove myself worthy! Either way, I am apparently a brave person because it takes courage to do the scary thing.

So… to honour that…

Classes start…

…in Aberystwyth, Wednesday 8th May, 11am – 12:30pm at the Dragonfly Bistro, 7 St James’ Street. £6/£5 a session, £20 for first four in advance. (Facebook Event Page)

… in Lampeter, Tuesday 14th May, 3:30 – 5pm at the Mulberry Bush, 2 Bridge Street, £6/£5 a session, £20 for first four in advance. (Facebook Event Page) 

Any questions, or to book, email me: Haloquin@gmail.com

 

Happy Thoughts and Pixie Dust,

~Halo x