Brewing Magic

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This last year I’ve been dancing and storytelling and studying more than I have been writing.

I’ve been brewing thoughts, and allowing them to percolate. There have been many challenges, and a whirlwind of changes: Two house moves, marriage, turning 30, publishing my book, learning to dance.

Pen and Ink - Dances with Trees

My love and I now live in our own caravan! It is a static caravan rather than a mobile home like I dreamed of, but I think it’s better for us. Wales is our home and it is good to have a foundation here. Roots. I’ve been putting down roots, I suppose, choosing where I stand. Reflecting on who I am and where I am.

In my book (Pagan Portals; Your Faery Magic) I talk about some of the thinking behind my beliefs, I philosophise on Faeries and the Feyhearted Path. This is only scratching the surface though! And for a while I’ve been pondering questions, like;

Who and what is The Faery Queen – how does She relate to deities, archetypes, spirits? How does she tie in with the many goddesses that hold the title Faery Queen? She isn’t an archetype, though “Faery Queen” is also an archetype… so what is She? How does she manifest throughout the year? Does she change or it is constant… and what does that mean for her nature?

Who and what is the Faery King? Am I just falling back on my early neo-Wiccan reading when I want to bring Him in too? (Most of the books I got hold of when young and just finding my way were neo-Wiccan, and many of the books I see now are heavily influenced by that, whilst it can be a very useful structure, I don’t want to force energies and beings into a pattern that doesn’t serve them, or me, so what patterns belong to them?) Or is there a good reason for bringing Him in explicitly? (Aside from the fact that he turns up! But just because they come, does that mean we should work together?)

How do these powers/beings/deities(?) relate to deities that share the titles which seems to be their names?

How does this Enchantressing path relate to the Craft? To Priestessing? What are the differences? How do they overlap? Are they all words for the same thing or distinct practices?

What is the purpose of what I do?

How does this honour the land? How does this help my community?

How does my work fit within historical practices and traditions? What is my “lineage”? I’m clearly deeply rooted in neo-pagan structures, practices and attitudes, but that isn’t the only influence. And what does it all mean?

Who and what are the Fae? How metaphorical are they? How metaphorical is our relationship to them? How do they relate to other spirits? Is Faery-work just a form of spirit-work?

And so on… Alongside continuing practice I’ve been mulling theory, and I’m feeling the urge to start sharing again. I make no promises on how much or how often I’ll post, but I hope that some of these questions are interesting to you, and perhaps you can take them and apply them to your own practices and beliefs for an interesting think! (If you enjoy that kind of thing… not everyone does!)

It being Imbolc over the next few days it feels good to be seeing the seedlings sprout and these questions begin to find the light of day. My Queen wears white now, as do many goddesses at this time of year, and she beckons for us to awaken to ourselves and dance among the snowdrops and hailstones as the light grows and the land begins to stir.

Back to working on my Thesis now…

 

Dance and the cane…

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At the beginning of the summer I did a duet, using moves that are designed for 4/4 time to a waltz no less. It was wonderful. It felt amazing. It looked gorgeous. I’d been dancing ATS for only just over a year. (Just goes to show what a good teacher I have!)

I am, rightly so, proud.

The work I’ve put in shows. The dedication. The love. And it has given me as much back in return. A tribe. Health and strength and joy. An understanding that I can.

I’m a dancer.

That video was taken at the start of the summer. Two weeks ago I bought a walking stick. A wooden cane. For, you know, walking with. Because my ankle began to strain and my knees became stupid, inflamed, burny joints of ouch.

Not impressed.

And frustrated… why is it that I’ve finally begun to reach a level where I can be properly proud of dancing and suddenly I have mobility issues again? I spent years (literally years) working to heal a back that stopped me being able to function properly and the dance took the pain away.

Now? Dancing aggravates it. But while I dance I feel so much better. I can dance across the dance floor (for a while at least) more easily than I can walk. I almost cried in frustration today. And yet I know I’ll keep going, I know this will pass… I just have to lace up my boots and strap up my knees and keep dancing until I’m strong again. And be grateful that I can.

Book Release Date! Your Faery Magic

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It’s official! Your Faery Magic is on its way!!!*

Release date: 11th December 2015

Ready for pre-order with Amazon now!

This is a book for beginners on the Faery path, it is for those of us who loved the tales of flower fairies but felt more at home with the goblins and dryads, carving our own wands and brewing up our own potions. This is a book for finding your way towards a faery path of your very own. It is the book I wish I had found when I began in paganism, and I hope it will help guide many feet towards uncovering their own relationship to the spirits of nature.

It has been described as gentle and mature, non-prescriptive and fascinating.

This is the official blurb:

“Have you ever felt that you were ‘different’? That the Otherworld was closer for you than it is for other folk? Have you ever wondered how you can tap into the wild, untamed magic of your own faery heart? Then this book is for you. Once upon a time ‘Fey’ meant both the spirits of the natural world and the nature of those humans that were in touch with that magic in themselves; the seers, the spirit workers, the ones who walked between. This is your guide to finding that Fey magic which sings in your heart. Through this book you will meet your guide, visit faeryland, learn about the beings of the faery worlds and develop your own faery craft to work in harmony with the power and cycles of the earth by unlocking the nature of your Fey spirit. Time for you to become the Fey you truly are.”

I’m SOOOOO excited!!!

*happydance*

*I’ve been offline since moving house… and the release date, book cover and advance copies all arrived whilst we were offline! So technically this news is a little late, sorry!

Dancing Tribe!

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Tribal Unity Wales having fun!

Tribal Unity Wales having fun!

I’ve written before about how much the Tribal Belly dancing means to me… and it continues to be a source of strength and joy.

At the Winter Solstice we danced for the Cellan Beer Festival, and then last weekend was a Hafla (a belly dance party) in Cardigan run by local dancers. It was so nice to see the other groups dancing and experience the atmosphere of a supportive dance party. One lady did her very first solo, to very summery music, with the happiest expression!

One of the things that has come home to me about dancing ATS(r) with Tribal Unity is how much of a group activity it is. We are all working together, all supporting each other. It is not a solo performance, we thrive when we dance in tune with each other. I’ve never really felt at home in all female groups, but there is something about this dance (and the people in our little family) that breaks down the competitiveness that I’ve seen elsewhere and encourages mutual support. We all look out for each other and are thinking of each other when we dance.

The Hafla was a couple of firsts for me, as well as for the group. It was the first time we’d performed to live drums and the first time I’d led in public. It was the first fast duet I’d done (and it was VERY fast) and our first hafla. Watching over the videos I can see how much we’ve improved since last summer, how much more in tune with each other we are, and how much we all enjoy it! You can also very definitely see how happy I am dancing.

So… our first dance:

Our second dance:

When we were invited up to dance to live drums:

The duet Wendy and I decided to have fun with:

In a Thought Bubble

I’m in Leeds, at a comic convention and I’m loving it! Surrounded by smart, creative people I bimble from table to table, asking about art techniques, subject matter, medium preferences, processes, dreams… I spent an hour chatting to Dr. Geof, the curator of a fictional tea museum about passion, branding, science and getting art done! I spoke to a guy writing historical comics about bards (bards!) And found a Time Lady, who looks for time between the panels. Not to mention the comics in medicine I’ve just learnt of…

And I’m wondering about attempting to write a comic again. Art and words together, storytelling on the page…

I ponder, is this where the Goblin Circus comes to play? Where dreams are made? .
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Creative Wayfaring – Pondering on a Dream

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I have always dreamed of doing something almost exactly like this, a quiet, persistent wish that I return to again and again but never quite believe it to be possible. One day… a sustainable way of living. A home with wheels. Travelling light (which may be the hardest task of all as I’m such a hoarder!). Blessed by the stars. Taking creativity and performance and magic to people round the country. As a child I was fascinated by the idea of ‘gypsy’ caravans. As a teen I brushed against the idea of being a new age traveller. Both seemed impossible; one a dream of cultural misappropriation, the other drug-addled and full of drama. I toyed with the idea of touring festivals in the summer but wasn’t even sure where to begin… so I didn’t.

And then, the other day this dream wandered across my FB feed. Hedgespoken is a vehicle for the imagination and a beautiful, creative, sustainable home. I am jealous and envious and oh-so excited for them.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hedgespoken

I realise I’ve spent most of my life gathering skills suitable for this kind of life including; tarot reading, art-making, singing, acting, writing, holistic therapies, magic, teaching, storytelling and most recently belly dancing and clothes/costume making… I’ve always always dreamed of the romantic idea of the life of a traveller, a wayfarer. The one thing I’ve refused to do, the one thing that would actually make it a possibility, is learn to drive (it terrifies me). Is this self-sabotage? The whole thing seems impractical, impossible and hopelessly romantic. Not to mention that my husband hates the idea of living in a converted bus! And yet…

Still I dream. And now I see more evidence of how it is possible. I make a donation as a spell to help them reach their dream and a wish towards my own. I wonder if I really want to live such a tough lifestyle. If I’m up to it? But then, perhaps it is only as tough as the life I’m living, just in ways I’m unaccustomed to.

For some reason I have spent the last decade in seeming diversion, I’ve dedicated a huge chunk of my life to something I also love, but which seems diametrically opposed to the wayfaring lifestyle – academic philosophy. I adore it. I love lecturing and giving papers. And it feels both part of this dream and something contrasting it.

And so I return to where I am. Let me finish my PhD and continue honing my skills. Let me dream my Wayfaring home into being, even if it exists alongside a home with roots. Even if it only exists for a summer.  Let me find the wandering wonder I’ve longed for since I was young enough to dream.

In my heart I am a Wayfarer, though I fear the reality would prove that I only love the idea of it… and perhaps that is why I’ve yet to commit to it!

If you’ve read this far, I thank you and I’d love to hear… What are your weirdest dreams, the ones you return to again and again but never quite can bring yourself to speak aloud?

Put on Your Dancing Shoes – or take them off, it’s less slippery!

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I’d like to share something I’m very excited about right now and the story of how I’ve found myself shimmying round my day-job-shop when customers aren’t looking!

I’ve always known that I wanted to dance, but could never find the right style.

As a child I tried tap dancing, in my teens I attempted a contemporary dance class – which I mostly remember as running from wall to wall, over and over, never quite got where that was going – throughout my life I’ve read Gabrielle Roth’s books over and over. I tried salsa, which I couldn’t get my feet round… In fact, the only thing that worked for me was whilst at uni when I would go out, step onto the dance floor as soon as the doors opened and only leave to down a pint of water before returning to the dance for as long as the music played.

Until now. Last spring I had five weeks of tribal belly dance classes in the Black Sheep style. The teacher, Lyza, became a friend of mine through connecting afterwards to share dancing. At that point I suspected it would be another phase. A subject I would be excited about for a month or two and then would fade into the background. A few core things have stuck with me long-term but many many other passions come and go. I was secretly certain this might be one of those…

But that excitement didn’t go away. I researched the histories of belly dance. I practised what little I’d learnt under my own steam. I kept hoping to return…

And then Wendy launched an ATS(r) class in March and I couldn’t go! It clashed with the teaching course I was on and the seminars I ran. I looked at it every week, waiting for the course to finish so I could join in. In June, finally, I walked through that door and into a new tribe, Tribal Unity Wales.

I dash to class each Tuesday with joy in my heart. No other hobby  has ever had me this excited. Just two months of dancing with Tribal Unity and I managed a fortnight camping and trekking round Amsterdam, bookended by two 16 hour coach journeys, without back pain. (It was our honeymoon, and yes, it was fab!)

And it has so many layers! There is crafting and aesthetics for costuming, researching history, learning new steps, the challenge of getting to grips with them, constant opportunities for improvement, performance, the endorphins of exercise, music, self-expression, the flow of energy, stories, community and friendship, shows to watch, events to explore, cultures to investigate… and there are many different styles to learn about (and perhaps learn one day).

With so much to play with it is no wonder I’ve found myself thinking about it almost constantly!

This Friday we performed at Lampeter’s World Dance festival. I made so many mistakes, almost fell over with soft shoes on a slippery floor, missed cues, got confused… and yet could not stop grinning. I loved it. Dancing with these lovely ladies, sharing something that has brought me so much delight and returned my strength, and challenging myself to improve all combined to fill me with delight. Tribal style belly dance has utterly enchanted me and I feel like I’ve come home.

Friday’s performance, my first time dancing in public:

The moral of this story? Keep looking, keep trying, keep putting that desire out there even when you don’t know exactly what it is you want. Eventually the Universe will bring you to precisely where you need to be. And even if you make mistakes and feel like it is all going wrong, it is still beautiful and the world doesn’t end! It is preparing you for what is to come next…

Dreaming Big before 30!

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This summer I moved house, got married and turned 29. Before this I presented my first aesthetics paper in a conference outside of my home-uni, in Hungary no less, had two philosophy pieces accepted for publication, three pieces of pagan related writing accepted for anthologies, and sold some art.

It’s been an exciting year. Re-enchantment really works!

Given that it’s my last year as a twenty-something I’ve decided to celebrate by setting myself some big challenges (because I enjoy making things happen) and attempting to match this year for excitement (which may be a tall order!) and I know they’re more likely to happen if I hold myself accountable, so…

Goals before I turn 30:

Publish 3 more pieces of philosophical writing

Finish the bulk of my PhD first draft (that’s about 50,000 words to write)

Visit 3 new places (preferably abroad)

Exhibit artworks twice (UPDATE: 1/2 done 27/09/14 – Art exhibition ‘A River of Animals‘ at the Confucius Institute in Lampeter’s 10th anniversary)

COMPLETED! Perform twice in public – storytelling, singing or something else! (UPDATE: 1/2 done 27/09/14 – Storytelling ‘A River of Animals’ at the Confucius Institute in Lampeter’s 10th anniversary UPDATE: 2/2 DONE! Dancing with Tribal Unity Wales at Lampeter World Dance Festival on Friday 17th October!)

Share my Fae work somehow – perhaps in a devotional book, a workshop or a talk?

Create a second Oracle Deck – Healing Hearts (which I’ve committed to anyway)

Learn to play 3 songs on the guitar that I can also sing to

They sound like a stretch, but an achievable one.

My plan to succeed? To combine projects. I’ve applied to perform animal stories at a local event where they would also exhibit some artworks. The Healing Hearts project will come with both stories to perform and art to exhibit, and writing my thesis leads to philosophical diversions which can be submitted for publication. And hopefully I can find places to perform, speak or present philosophy that I’ve never been to before. The guitar learning is just for fun 😉

So, who would like to exhibit some beautiful deity artworks? Who would like to host a storytelling evening? And who wants to hire me to talk to your group about faeries, enchantment and making life magic? Or do you know someone else who might want to host my work?

And who wants to share their goals? Who has a big dream (or three) for the next year and would like their declaration of intent witnessed? Comment below!

Make your Own Oracle

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Healing Hearts will be the second oracle deck I’ve published, the third deck I’ve made for myself and the seventh oracle system I’ve created!

When I mention that I make oracles to people they often say “I’ve always wanted to make a deck of my own!” So this time I thought I could share the process I go through and give anyone who has been thinking about making one themselves a peak into how easy it can be! Complete with tips and instructions  for making your own and Interviews with people who have done so…

Read the full post and more here.

Healing Hearts Oracle!

I’ve just launched a fundraiser for my latest project! Please help if you can by contributing (and getting shinies!) and spreading the word! 

The short version:

Healing Hearts is a 50 card deck of deities including male, female and third/other gendered deities to heal the divine in all of us. (And to fundraise for kickstarting my Undercover Enchantress in Academia career!)

 

Click here for the campaign!

The longer story:

The Enchantress shares three moments:

Paint dripped down the page as I stepped back, to see a face of the divine peering back at me. It spoke.

Cards fell from fingers, faces of the feminine divine laid out before us as we heard their words spoken with reverence. I wondered where the masculine was.

The Green Goddess, the Horned God and the Sacred Earth spoke to us from their seats through our Priest and Priestesses. They called us to honour our hearts and the hearts of those around us.

Image and word in cards combine. The divine ones speak to us. In many forms they gift us with their guidance. Their stories light our way, bring healing to our hearts. Their many, many forms and faces reach out to us and stand before us as role models for our lives, as guides to the Sacred in our own Hearts, showing us where their powers reside in us and in the world.

And so a work of art in honour, in service to the gods and in service to the divine heart of each of us, is begun.

An Oracle deck – a work of art that is handled, spoken to, listened to – and a book of their stories and rituals together to bring the gods in their many forms, male, female, androgyne, into our lives. They come to show us that we too are sacred and that all the people of the world, regardless of sex or gender or race, are divine too.

Healing Hearts is an Oracle Deck which includes male, female and third-gendered deities from cultures all over the world, to allow us to meet the divine in its many faces and heal our relationship to the divine masculine, feminine and androgyne in our lives, within and without.

It is also a detailed book detailing the stories and history of each deity within the deck with rituals and devotionals to help you listen to their words directly, useful when paired with the deck but equally helpful on its own for those that prefer books to decks. In order to make this really awesome I’ve asked my friend Pawl to help with the research!

And finally it is part of A World Enchanted, the home of myself (Halo), and thus is supporting my pursuit of a PhD in philosophy of art and enchantment in order to bring the importance of magic into an academic, philosophical framework. Enchantment requires living as part of the natural world, not above it, and by welcoming the many forms of the divine into the world through art I am helping to open the possibility for more individuals to recognise their place within the circle.

Click here for the campaign!