Just over a year ago, I posted about celebrating the full moon as a family. I am ashamed to admit that we have fallen out of this practice since lockdown ended. I think it's time to start again. Tomorrow is a full moon, sometimes called a Blood Moon. Select this link to be taken to the list of activities.
Go here for all family resources
Sewing, sewing and more sewing! I've been running Open Coven now for almost five years and it has gone through many different iterations. I was so confused with where I wanted to go with it next that I pretty much left the site dormant for a while.
I did a lot of spiritual and creative searching and I am full of gratitude for the two covens I am part of who helped me figure everything out. Sewing is great for contemplation and inner journeying and as a result, I think I have a clearer idea of what I want Open Coven to become next. Expect more Pagan and witchcraft inspired craft projects, as well as lifestyle posts that kick against the norm!
Want artwork? Printouts? I've got them! No strings attached, no subscriptions or adverts or whatever. Use and be well.
Introduction to Magickal Art Journaling. This the first course I ever designed and taught. Originally a paid for course, I dropped the fees during covid. Now you can access all the materials (videos, printouts, everything) for free forever.
Free Zines I created Art Magick for Witches as a fundraiser some years ago. Read for free here, or download and print.
Artwork Some of my free pieces here.
“Scrying Box” is an outdoor installation that uses rocks, coins, other found objects as well as the natural landscape. Scrying is the practice of putting oneself into a psychic state that allows inner-journeying or reflection. Commonly this takes the form of staring into a crystal ball or tea leaves in a cup.
Using glas pendants that hang from the box, the scryer should allow the play of light and shadow in the box to reveal to them deep truths. For a few years I have been occupied with the idea of witch art and how this feeds into notions of spell-casting and magic making.
This piece has been developed over a long period. It began with a box that I sprayed green some years ago and left in a shady, hidden part of my garden. Over time ivy and moss grew in and around the box. I watched as an old cabinet I salvaged transformed or reverted back to a part of the natural setting.
I enjoyed the notion of the piece being dynamic as it changes and moves with the elements, but also slow in it some its changes. In spell work it can take some time before the practitioner fully understands the process they have initiated.
Since childhood I have enjoyed creating places that sit in the world but are liminal spaces or thresholds. Cellars, attics, spare rooms, large bushes all became “spook rooms” or “secret lairs”. “Scrying Box” continues this tradition. It evokes childhood stories of portals to magical lands. The green paint, moss and rocks give a façade of antiquity and the lights make it glow alluringly in the night.
Part of the piece is a tall vase of pennies. They were chosen for texture to encourage a play of light and shadow and they also hark back to paying fortune tellers or providing offerings to spirit guides. Those who come to the box to scry, would do well to add their offering.
“When there is no future, all one can do is the next right thing.” Pabbie in Frozen 2
On the day we made a magical chamber, you were screaming in the garden about how you hated the virus. It had been a tough day, of trying to balance child-rearing with work and school. I was weeding and tidying the garden as a respite and marveling at how calm it made me feel. I suddenly thought, what would a witch do? What should I do to help you feel less helpless and frustrated? I make altars and spaces for contemplation, places that are portals.
So, I suggested we make a magic chamber with an altar. You loved the idea and we spent the remainder of the afternoon decorating the plastic playhouse that sits upstairs in our house with silks and cushions, electric tea lights, and fake flowers. Your piece de le resistance was an altar to Elsa from Frozen.
It was appropriate the altar was to Elsa, because for you right now she is the embodiment of Spirit. She is your deity. Her struggles and desire to find answers, to know herself seem to resonate with so many of us. Watching Frozen 2 now I am amazed at the parallels between the sudden plight of Arendelle and the sudden upheaval in which we have all found ourselves. Towards the beginning of the film Elsa grapples with being called away by a siren or staying home with the people she loves. She is afraid but is also facing the reality that she doesn’t feel she belongs. It is the start of another journey for Elsa and also Anna, her sister.
The first Frozen film definitely played with Pagan themes, as many Disney films have, but in Frozen 2 they really let that Pagan flag fly. The standing stones with their ancient sigils, trolls that wear glowing chrystals, the concept of five spirits – earth, air, fire, water and the one that Elsa embodies a sort of conduit between the magical realm and the physical one. Most importantly, the film addresses the importance of knowing our past and preserving the earth. Elsa finds a magical chamber that is a portal to ancestral secrets and like a shaman she must explore not only the past of her family but how a spiritual imbalance has created danger for Arendelle. Like a shaman she must bring what she knows back to the physical realm to heal her community. A hero’s journey.
Anna follows Elsa on her adventure but loses her deep in a cavern. Elsa has gone even deeper and in so doing, the magic that keeps their beloved snowman Olaf alive fades and he blows away into nothing. Anna is alone and lost. Her journey means she loses all that she loves but she also overcomes her grief and fear to save beloved Arendelle and eventually becomes the new queen.
Joseph Campbell talked of the cycle of adventure that exists in many cultures and stories, known as the Hero’s Journey. To be taken from what we love and be forced to face a foe. Facing that foe takes the hero lower than they ever thought possible and they lose everything but struggle through to be victorious. Victory is slaying the foe or the dragon, a Jungian concept of our shadow self. The self that keeps us back. However, part of our victory also is to return to the community we left and share what we have learned or gained in our struggle.
Dearest Daughter, we are all in the midst of our own hero’s journey right now. Our old way of life is gone. People are dying and struggling, and we are so afraid. But my love we also have a choice. To slay our dragon which is to say the fears that hold us down. We are low, we may get lower. Countless more will die. But countless more will not. The question I ask is, how will we let this change us for the better?
Dear Cece, you are five. It is not likely you will remember much but about the world before this pandemic.
The speed in which everything changed is remarkable. And it’s no exaggeration to say that one day you were going to school, playing with friends and then next, you weren’t. The virus meant social distancing which meant stay at home, close businesses, schools etc.
When COVID-19 started to spread, I was working on a research project for my masters on witches and enchantment. My premise was that, rather than witches being the ones to enchant, they are the ones that often stand outside of the enchantment, the enchantment is the capitalist, supremacist system. For this reluctance to be enchanted by materialism and subjugation witches were punished or indeed humans were branded witches, and then punished. I had blissfully dived into books and conversations with my mentors, exploring the nature of enchantment, society and witches. In one of my notebooks I wrote of being awake while the world was asleep, caught in the soporific cycle of work and money.
But when this virus came, after a conversation with my mentor it became clear that I had to change course in my work. As everyone keeps saying, these are unprecedented times. What does it mean to be a witch now? While the research was fun, I now see that in intellectualizing the identity of the witch – an identity I hold for myself – I was losing what that meant. The more I dissected it the more distant from it I became, no longer living the life of witch and holding it up as a specimen instead.
Because you see, being a witch is a feeling, a disposition and a lens through which to see the world. Yes, it is an esthetic too and for some an occupation. Witches do certain things and magic – however it is defined – is integral to the life of the witch. For me, it’s not about what would define me as a witch to someone else. It’s what I turn to for solace and guidance. You my daughter, are my compass, but being a witch is the map.
When you are older you may roll your eyes at this post, wanting to rebel because that’s what children do, or scoff at the lack of knowledge of what is to come that you will have retrospectively. We don’t know what’s coming next. People are dying or losing their livelihoods or both because life cannot go on as it did.
This transitional time is where witches are often most at home. Much of our philosophy is built on balance, give and take. We talk often of letting certain things die so that new things can grow; the sacred circle, and here, as the pandemic grows, is spring. Ostara, or the vernal equinox came along as we experienced massive upheaval. Ostara is the time of equal night and day, marking the turn from waning time to waxing time. Growth. In the past, before industrialization this was when we focused on planting crops and Ostara is as much about fertility as it is about leaving the old year behind.
There is also a great deal of good coming out of this. People are slowing down, reassessing our society and what it has done to us all. We may be physically isolated but through social media and creativity, we are finding ways to unify and build community. It is entirely possible that we are on the verge of a collapse, the question is, what will we build in its place?
Research reveals that belief in magic and the occult grows when society is going through upheaval, let’s use that magic to create balance between spiritual and material realms. To be a witch now as far I can see is to do all the things we have proven to excel in: bear witness, create, nurture magic, heal and feed. Tend to the hearth and to be part of our community. Stay home if we must and build spaces that help us do our work. Witches always loved people, the people just didn’t always love us. That’s changing. This truly is the season of the witch.
I checked the stats for this site today and was stunned to see that people are still coming here. Stunned, heartened, and humbled because I have not given the project the attention it probably deserves.
Last year was full of stuff. New studies, my daughter's operation, a rise in crime in my beloved community, and it all took its toll. My commitment to my spiritual path is stronger than ever but is not without its ambiguities which leave me frustrated. And so Open Coven languished and still languishes.
I do not think this will be permanent but I don't want to share where it's going at the moment. The truth is I do not know entirely and choose it to be undefined. This blog post is terrible. Sorry! All I ask is you be patient and don't forsake me dear readers.