Spring has well and truly sprung now, both astrologically and astronomically. There are daffodils everywhere, the catkins are dancing, the trees are greening and I am feeling energised and optimistic despite having spent most of the first half of March suffering with some sort of horrible respiratory infection.
It wasn’t covid. At least not according to the many lateral flow tests I took, worried as I was that I’d pass something awful to my parents. Still, whatever it was it had me coughing up green gunk and turned me into a limp dishcloth of a woman with so little energy I struggled to do even the most basic of tasks. Thankfully the second half of the month was much better and I’m heading into April feeling quite spritely.
The house clearing did stop whilst I was ill but we got back to it fairly swiftly once I was funtioning again and had cleared the backlog of chores that had piled up when I wasn’t able to do anything. The room that was causing me most distress in terms of shere volume of stuff is now two thirds empty (if we don’t talk about the wall cupboards, please don’t talk about the wall cupboards) and the third that’s left is the easiest to deal with. We also managed to get out in the garden to keep on top of the lawn and the burgeoning shrubbery. Overall it feels like it’s finally gaining momentum (despite the stalling from illness) and whilst we’re not over the hill yet, I can see the summit.
No more fan fiction this month but I did keep my blogging on track so there are five more posts up on my website:
Working with the Wheel: Spring Equinox, or Alban Eilir - my witchcraft focused series.
I Shall Go Into The Hare - the third tale in my Flashes of Feathers series.
Katherine May’s newest book, called Enchantment, was published during March and I read it pretty much the moment it landed on my doormat. In it, amongst many insightful and interesting concepts, she talks about hierophany:
“The historian of religion Mircea Eliade coined the term hierophany to describe the way that the divine reveals itself to us, transforming the objects through which it works. When we make a tree or a stone or a wafer of bread the subject of our worshipful attention, we transform it into a hierophany, an object of the sacred. For the believer, this means that absolute reality has been uncovered, rather than anything fantastical projected upon it. Hierophany is the experience of perceiving all the layers of existence, not just seeing its surface appearance. The person who believes, be it in an ancient animism or a complex modern religion, lives in an enhanced world, having been given a kind of supernatural key to see wonder in the everyday.”
May, Katherine. Enchantment: Reawakening Wonder in an Exhausted Age (p. 30-31). Faber & Faber. Hardback Edition.
This resonated with me deeply. I was christened and baptised in the Church of England but I do not believe in a Christian God and no longer consider myself part of the religion (which is not to say that I don’t acknowledge just how much it has shaped me, that’s just a conversation for another day). I don’t believe in the Horned God and Triple Goddess of the Wiccan religion either, in case you were wondering (all Wiccans are witches but not all witches are Wiccan), nor do I see myself as part of any formal or organised religion (even my druidry is solitary despite having started my druic journey with OBOD). What I do believe, and have believed for a very long time, is that every single thing in this world contains a spark of divinity, so the concept that you can find the sacred in anything by giving it your full attention is something I am very comfortable with.
Seeing an idea I personally embraced but had not given a name to so clearly defined and discussed in Katherine’s book was wonderful. It also made me pause and reflect on a few things. I’m fairly certain that hierophany is why I was drawn to folklore, myths and legends as a child (children see enchantment in the world far more readily than adults so having tales told to you that reflect your own experiences is comforting, or at least it was to me) and it’s definitely one of the reasons that I continue to spend a good portion of my time immersing myself in them. They show us how others found that spark of magic in the land, people and objects around them and, in doing so, invite us to do the same in our own lives.
Hierophany is also - having sat back and thought about it - the reason why, when I found myself feeling drained and miserable and lost in the middle of last year, I began my small things spreading joy project. Needing to find something to share each day that lifted my spirits gave me a cast iron excuse to properly reconnect with my immediate surroundings (not that I should have needed one but capitalism is a poison that can seep into anything if you’re not careful and I’d let it convince me to set aside anything that didn’t produce something “useful”) and as I was required to look longer at everything, and to look with more focus, the magic came flooding back.
I was not just passing through any more, I was inhabiting the spaces I found myself in. In doing that I reawoke my own spark of divinity which not only deepened my links to the places I live, people I love, and objects that surround me, it also allowed me to ground myself against the rising tide of fear and uncertainty so that I could start to grow again. Now, as well as being something I do daily in order to put a small amount of joy into the social media space, it’s also a personal daily act of devotion to the universe.
The other thing that Enchantment, and the thoughts it provoked about sacred spaces, did was to remind me of how - back when I was devouring “how to” writing guides like they were going out of fashion - I kept coming across the advice to create a ritual to help get yourself into a creative headspace. I loved the idea (I’m a witch, I’m never happier than when I’m working out a good ritual) but I couldn’t see a way to create one that I would find satisfying in its own right and also be suitable for use every single time I wanted to write.
So I created a ritual with many components instead, one that didn’t need every component to be used every time. And I let it evolve as I discovered what my writing practice wanted to be.
I now have a core mantra that I recite every single time I write, no matter where I am, no matter how long the writing session is going to be. This mantra gets repeated nine times, I slow my breathing to the rhythm of the words as I do that, and then I write. This may be the only part of the ritual I use if I am out and about; I might have perched on a log mid-walk to capture something in the notes app on my phone, decided to use my travel time on the train to get some words down, or have taken myself to a cafe or library for a change of scene. Basically any public space where things like candles and other external focuses are simply not an option the mantra is all I use.
Then I have several other ritual elements that I can bring into play if I’m in a space that I can control. Each additional element will make the writing session a little more special and help me shift both my energy and the energy of the space into “writing mode”. Given that I work from home and my writing happens at the same desk that I’m earning my keep from, having things that I only ever use when I’m writing really helps me to refocus quickly.
How many of these additonal elements I use in the ritual mostly depends on how much time I have to spend writing. If I can only squeeze in the thirty minutes I always carve out of my day, no matter what, then it will be the mantra and just one of the other elements. If I’ve got a couple hours or (if I’m exceptionally lucky) a half or whole day, then I might really go to town and use several. I deliberately kept each element small and their use flexible as I didn’t want not being able to perform one part of the ritual to become a reason not to write and I also didn’t want the ritual to eat into my writing time by being over elaborate and time consuming; I wanted to create a writing aid, not a writing barrier.
The element I use most in conjunction with the mantra, as it’s the easiest to pair with my thirty minutes, is making a cup of herbal tea to drink as I write. Not just any flavour of herbal tea though, I have chosen rose to be the flavour of creativity and I have several different teas and tisanes all containing rose to choose from.
Although I’ve made sure I’m not dependant on just one type of tea/tisane for this particular element of the ritual I do have a sort of perference for which tea I use when. If I’m writing first thing in the morning I tend to make a cup of Kusmi Green Tea with Rose (a little caffeine hit before I get to my breakfast and my morning coffee). If it’s a lunchtime or afternoon session then it’s usually Twinnings Rose balance tea (which contains lemon verbena & lemon balm for a positive uplift) and if I’m writing in the evening then it’s most often Yogi tea’s Rose (which also contains camomile which will help me wind down after I’ve got my words out onto the page).
I use the time it takes to boil the kettle and steep the drink to say the mantra and then I stir my intent for the writing session into my cup; turnwise if I’m focusing on something I want to happen; widdershins if I’m focusing on something I don’t. For example if, say, I want to complete a scene/chapter/blog post during the session then I stir turnwise, but if I’m feeling fidgety or if my mind is still racing with work then I stir widdershins to send the distractions away.
This is one of the ways I weave magic into my day to day existance and I always appreciate it, even on the days where I feel so miserable and uninspired I wonder why I am bothering!
Please note that I’m not being paid by any of the tea makers, I’ve simply included the links in case you fancy trying any of them yourself.
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And, last but not least, what wisdom does my Wildwood tarot offer us about the month of April?
Setting aside the obvious (April is my birth month and this is my most used, least subtle, deck) this is both a call to open our hearts to the beneficence of spring and to make time for fun and friends and acknowledging the good in our lives. If you’re feeling like you don’t deserve the rest and relaxation with the people you love most that you so desperately need please a) remember none of us need to earn rest or respect, and b) take this as the universe telling you to go and do it regardless. Even if it’s just snatching a few minutes to text your bestie the funny cat video that made you think of them and tell them you miss them, find someway to both lift your own spirits and share that joy.
Until next time, take good care of yourself, and may we all be blessed with companionship, joy and all that springtime promises with every new shoot and freshly opened bud.
Wow, that’s really interesting and powerful. I have a similar background and disbelief in formal religions, deities etc. I find truth, healing and wonder in nature. I cried when I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon and I am obsessed with trees. Thinking of the travels I have been lucky enough to have taken in my life the natural landscapes are so
much easier for me to really take myself back to than the cities.