I am so excited to share that I have a new online workshop available. This project is a favorite one of mine and I hope you will enjoy it too. No previous sewing skills are required and you will learn many new techniques.
Blessings to you the day after the Autumn Equinox!
Here's a quick embroidery project that uses only split stitch.
Split stitch is an easy one to master and has multiple uses. It's great for filling, outlining curves and straight lines. It's a fave of mine for lettering.
As always, there's a video tutorial to help too.
In my current day job, I spend much time navigating issues of inclusivity. It's not easy and it requires deep humility. Nevertheless I am grateful to be given opportunities to do this work.
In many ways I am a person of privilege thought that can often be contextual I have found. I currently struggle with a few hurdles that society has put in my way as a parent, a cis-woman, a Pagan, and most recently, someone experiencing chronic pain (a result of the shingles I had).
These hurdles have allowed me to think about how I want Open Coven to be a place where everyone feels as accepted and cherished as possible. This task will be ongoing but I did at least want to begin with an inclusivity statement. This statement is on its on page on this site, as well as below.;
You Belong Here (adapted from Dr. Brenda Allen and Erika Lett).
You belong here. You belong here if society has marginalized you and your community. You belong here if you are Buddhist, Hindu, Secular Humanist, Pagan, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, follow some other belief system, or adhere to no organized belief system at all. You belong here if you are still figuring out what and who you are. You belong here if you are documented, DACAmented, or undocumented. You belong here if you are a person of color, or white, or perceived to be white, or if you are of mixed racial/ethnic heritage, or if you are perceived to be other identities that you aren’t. You belong here if you have an exceptionality or disability, if you have intellectual, cognitive, or emotional disabilities or if you are neurotypical. You belong here if you identify as gender nonconforming or LGBTQ, or if you’re still learning what some of those letters mean. You belong here no matter what language you grew up speaking. Whatever your body type, appearance, talents, abilities, identities, histories, or backgrounds, you belong here. As the founder of Open Coven, I will try hard to ensure you and your coven mates always remember that you belong here, and to ensure you and your coven mates feel welcome and valued.
Chain stitch is more versatile than it might seem. Here I use it in lettering and flowers.
Download the free pattern and watch the tutorial below.
I got the chance this weekend to focus on Open Coven and identify the next steps in growing this project. It's exciting to share with you some free resources I developed for those of you who want to learn embroidery but maybe feel overwhelmed with all the different stitches and techniques.
We begin with this straight stitch project as it allows you to practice a versatile stitch that is not too challenging. Don't worry about being precise, just have fun!
The art of divination is I think sometimes misunderstood still and it’s assumed that it is way to tell the future or make predictions. Some people do use it in this manner but many more including myself find it far more effective as a tool for contemplation and truth seeking.
I still find Tarot a challenge and can’t help but check the written explanation of the card rather than trust my own intuition.Oracle Cards on the other hand can be more accessible and they are a practice I have developed with my daughter that’s become a sweet bonding opportunity.
The key, I think, is to find an oracle deck with illustrations that appeal to you and your child as well as having messages that are at once easy to understand but are open enough for discussion and interpretation. For example we love the Oracle of Mystical Moments. The illustrations are sumptuous and full of childlike wonder, and the messages are inspirational and contemplative. My daughter has her own oracle deck that was gifted to her that she also likes to incorporate and while I am open to it I don’t like the messages as they are a bit more of a fortune telling flavor.
In the morning we each pull a card. We look at the pictures on the card and talk about what we can see in the picture and what it can mean. After we have done this for a while, we look at the book for the meaning given with the deck. Then we talk about how the meanings we gave the card differ or overlap with the book.
It’s really that simple and needn’t take too long. If mornings are just too frenetic with everyone getting ready for the day, then it can be a lovely bedtime activity that provides a moment of stillness and introspection
It's been a strange summer. But the light is mellowing and I see leaves falling from my beloved river birch.
I came down with shingles over a month ago and it has been a very slow recovery. As a result the classes I planned will be later than expected. I am trying not to be frustrated by this setback and be patient with myself.
I am looking forward to getting back to the creative work I love so much.
When the pandemic was at its height and the US general election was looming, I sent out a text to two friends who did not know each other.
“Hi! Wanna start a coven?”
Almost two years later, the three of us continue to meet monthly and we hardly ever miss a ritual. The reason our coven has been so successful I think is in no small part due to the fact that we meet virtually.
I know, I know people are over Zoom. They want to meet in person and reconnect. However I cannot tell you how many face to face events I’ve committed to in the Pagan community only to discover they’ve been canceled either due to low numbers (a massive bummer) or fear of COVID infection rates increasing.
A solid group of eminent witches/Pagans are realizing that they can reach a whole new audience through virtual rituals, so if it’s good enough for likes of Starhawk and Selena Fox, it’s goo enough for me.
Meeting online allows you to meet with friends who are far away but follow a path similar to yours. This is important if you live in an area where Paganism is not popular or you feel it wouldn’t be safe to meet in person. For example, out small coven is from two different states: One of us is Baltimore, two of us in Asheville. We have a member who is immunocompromised and is nervous about meeting others in real life. Isolation can be hard for them and so our coven meetings are a real boon to their mental health as well as spiritual life.
Meeting virtually therefore, makes ritual and ceremony more accessible for many who have disabilities or chronic illnesses.
As a parent, the opportunity to participate in ritual without the hassle of travelling somewhere has been really important. Often my daughter comes and says hello to the coven since she knows the members very well. They give her a little time to hang out, she goes to bed and I am given some much needed me time, regardless of whether my partner is at home or not. I am able to set out my ritual space in the comfort of our spare room/ office area using the tools I prefer and my coven mates do the same. Then our ritual commences:
We can be quite informal but our sessions but there are some recurring aspects.
To set up a virtual coven you need to consider these things.
With whom will you form your coven? I approached just two people and I think a small number works well in the online format. I think between 3 - 5 is ideal. Larger numbers can get confusing online and scheduling for everyone can be a headache. With smaller numbers it’s easier for everyone to be heard and to share and there is less call for a leader. The only downside is that if it’s a really small number and someone has to drop out, then the whole ritual might have to be canceled.
It’s worth noting that while I am a committed witch and Pagan, my coven mates’ paths are different and less defined. I think it’s great so to have other perspectives when thinking about people to ask, don’t limit yourself to those who share similar beliefs or practices to your own.
Boundaries or ground rules might be necessary depending on who you work with. One of our members is non-binary which means we must make all our language inclusive of this fact. Gender binaries of masculine and feminine are triggering for them. As a result we discuss the traditional ideas of gender and how we can make them resonate with all of us. This has been quite rewarding and I have enjoyed the examination of gender in all its myriad forms.
Trust is essential, you must all agree that what happens in the circle stays there whether it is a painful personal experience or news of new job, don’t assume it can be repeated to anyone.
We meet once a month and use Google Meet. It’s free and the connection is pretty good. Other options might be What’s App, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and I am sure there are even more.
We meet in the evening - I am the only one with a kid so our time has to be around or after their bedtime. We usually meet for about an hour on a weekday closest to the full moon.
While our actual ritual may begin, say at 7.30 pm, I tend to go up to the room I will be in before that and set out my sacred space. I light candles and cleanse the area and myself with a homemade sacred smoke bundle. I ground and center and make sure I have my Book of Shadows to hand for notes. While we may log off after 1 hour, I will stay to absorb the experience and write in my Book of Shadows.
Then I express gratitude to my personal deities and leave.
I am part of a face to face coven as well and find that both formats have become a precious part of my life.
We should not be bound by conventions of what Pagan rituals or witchcraft has been taught to us. The very nature of this path is autonomous and creative. Give yourself permission to develop ceremonies that are meaningful to you and your group.
It's less than two weeks away.
It is entirely appropriate that a new iteration of Open Coven begins at the coming of the first sabbat I honored as a Pagan.
I was about seventeen when I began my journey into Paganism. I am now almost 44 and after reclaiming my path about seven years ago I still feel in many ways a novice. Indeed, I look back to my practice as a teenager and envy the past me a little. It wasn’t what I knew as much as what I did and through the doing, understood. It was easier then, I didn’t have a family or a job. My responsibilities were blissfully few and I was in my home country of the UK where it seemed enchanted sites were on my doorstep.
My return to Paganism - specifically my identity as a witch - has been uneven as I try to weave my spirituality into my life that involves parenting, working, community work. activism and this very website. I am hopeful though and I think the advent of Open Coven’s next chapter will be the underpinning of my desire to find a meaningful witchcraft practice that incorporates all these things.
Open Coven has been through many changes since I began it back in 2016. I can’t predict that it won’t continue to alter and shift. That’s life so make no apologies for it.
Lammas in the wheel of the year marks the first of three harvests. This one is the grain harvest.
I could at this point give you explanations of mythologies and traditions around this time, but instead I suggest you contemplate what it means to you personally. Let the seasons speak to you wherever you are. It’s important to build a relationship with every season. Remember, it’s not about what you know, more what you experience and understand from that experience.