2013 in review ~ thank you so much to my readers.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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G is for Growing

rose60-pinkorangeThis is my second post for The Pagan Blog Project ‘G’ week but also a journal post too. I think it’s high time I just meandered my thoughts down on paper…well on the screen. It’s a funny old world isn’t it, you have ideas and dreams and suddenly, if you’re working in line with them to cause their fruition, then something blossoms. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we grow spiritually, and I guess I should really say evolve but it’s growing too. You’ll all know by now that my speciality is herbalism – I love plants in all their wonderful glory; from the tiny daisy to the fantastic tropical trees. I never thought I’d be a herbalist though. Over the years I’ve nurtured a great interest in plants and this interest kind of grew without me even really doing anything about it but I guess it is my deep love of nature. Then my wanting to help others in some way. How could I do this? I had a deep urge to be a healer but of what kind? I am a master in Celtic Reiki and also a crystal healer but plants urged me on from tiny seedling thoughts of being a plant healer to actually doing something about it via certification.

Of course it is my belief that plants offer us insights that require no paper certificates but in this world I’m afraid some kind of professional standing is valued. But I’m really a down to earth woman of wort cunning even though I’ve done professional courses (and am still doing this actually as I’m taking a Masters in Phytotherapy). However, it’s really nothing extraordinary – anyone can do this…all you have to do is spend time with plants and trees and truly get to know them and they will impart their wisdom and knowledge to you. Of course getting to know other like-minded herbalists is important too.

Anyway, I digress because this post is really about how we evolve on our spiritual path if we are open-hearted and open-minded enough. When I look back at who I was at the very beginning of my pagan path I was really an entirely different person to who I am today. I had fixed ideas about who I should be; what kind of pagan I was or wanted to be, called myself a Wiccan and followed quite a strict Wiccan protocol. But over the years this has changed quite dramatically – yes I am an initiated Priestess in a Wiccan Coven and I don’t regret this decision and being part of this group is very important to me. But my path has diverged into many different branches since then. I feel I’ve truly become a tree!

I guess my spirituality is very eclectic with old ways witchcraft roots, shamanism, Daoism as well as Wicca. Some would call this a mish-mash and probably berate me but I just think this is what my Spirit wants – this is the human experience my Spirit incarnated to have. After all, when I pass over all this will be gone…only Spirit remains and the material will not matter. So I’m passed worrying about whether or not I have a particular religion or set of protocols to follow. I just do what Spirit and the Universe encourage me to do.

How do I know? Well, actually I think synchronicity plays a huge part in knowing if I’m on the right track or not. The more open I am the more meaningful synchronicity happens. Then there are those things that happen to warm me off a course of action. Of course, being human I don’t always see, or even if I do see I don’t always pay attention, or choose to ignore and then I pay the consequences. But even these are lessons to learn. Each choice we make is an opportunity for our Spirits to learn. Even choice and actions that don’t work out the way we want are important for our growth. When we think of ourselves within the tree metaphor we can see how many branches and twigs there are on a tree and each one of these can be choices and actions, some working out and producing new growth and some not. But it’s all ok because they’re all part of the overall beauty of the tree, which is each one of us as individuals.

Daily Om ~ The Boundaries of Experience

sunrise1Your current comfort zone has served you, but it represents your behaviours and patterns from your past.

None of us are born with a guidebook that provides explicit rules for thought and behaviour that will enable us to navigate life successfully. To cope with the myriad of complexities to which all of humanity is subject, we each develop a set of habits and routines that ground us, their continuity assuring us that life is progressing normally. Most of us know, whether instinctively or by experience, that transformations can be uncomfortable, but we always learn and gain so much. Any initial discomfort we experience when expanding our comfort zones diminishes gradually as we both become accustomed to change and begin to understand that temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the evolution of our soul.

Your current comfort zone did, at one time, serve a purpose in your life. But it is representative of behaviours and patterns of thought that empowered you to cope with challenges of days past. Now, this comfort zone does little to facilitate the growth you wish to achieve in the present. Leaving your comfort zone behind through personal expansion of any kind can prepare you to take the larger leaps of faith that will, in time, help you refine your purpose. Work your way outward at your own pace, and try not to let your discomfort interfere with your resolve. With the passage of each well-earned triumph, you will have grown and your comfort zone will have expanded to accommodate this evolution.

Whether your comfort zone is living with your parents, or perhaps being too shy to socialize, or maybe it’s not realizing your spirit self—whatever it is, start small, and you will discover that venturing beyond the limited comfort zone you now cling to is not as stressful an experience as you imagined it might be. And the joy you feel upon challenging yourself in this way will nearly always outweigh your discomfort. As you continue to expand your comfort zone to include new ideas, activities, goals, and experiences, you will see that you are capable of stimulating change and coping with the fresh challenges that accompany it.

Janus face in 2012

Janus-dimon21

No, this post is not about Janus per se but rather it is more about looking back and looking forward, as we near the end of this year, 2012. I thought, however, that the Roman god of  beginnings and transitions to be a rather apt metaphor to use. And it echoes a little Yule poem I wrote recently, which I used on a Yule card to my Coven:

This card is sent to you all with love
Coming swiftly on the wings of a dove
As we embrace the newborn Sun
Let’s not forget to have some fun
As the Wheel slowly turns anew
To our spirits let us remain true
Kiss the Holly King as he now sleeps
Half the year his brother now keeps
Embrace the Oak King as he now wakes
His upturned face touched by snowy flakes
Yule is a time for looking back and looking forward
Your efforts will reap blessed reward
So merrily sing
To the newborn King

So I’m doing some looking back and looking forward on this year to discover what I’ve reaped and what my goals are for the coming year – kind of like News Year’s resolutions except not. My actual new year began at Samhain following Celtic tradition but there’s something special about Yule that encourages us to look back and look forward I think.

So what did I achieve this year? I completed my Clinical Herbalism Diploma, the Sacred Mists Herbalist Course (well, everything but the Final, which I am going to be turning in in the next few weeks), I also completed 4½ years of therapy (with 1 year of intensive therapy), I shared my greatest ‘skeleton in the closet’ with my therapeutic group just before ending and it was a HUGE relief, I was Student of the Month in my Coven in September, I started The Herborium newsletter (at Samhain), my relationship with my daughter continues to improve, I’ve carried on with Oracle Studies with very good results and I have really improved in taking personal responsibility for myself. Last but definitely not least I’ve learnt to practise mindfulness and remain in the present moment to a greater degree than ever before.

That’s not to say things have been easy for me – there have been a lot of ups and downs and quite scary patches for me to deal with. A couple of times I’ve faltered and resorted to self-harm. However, even at these times I mustered the courage to do the things I had to do in order to sort the situation out and didn’t rely on someone else doing it for me. That’s not to say I haven’t asked for a bit of moral support, and I think it’s important one does ask for support when going through difficulties. I’ve had experiences and learned valuable lessons in 2012 and I thank my patron deities and the Universe for these, and also thank my guides for steering me in the right directions. I also thank my friends, spiritual, human and animal for their support and help in ‘keeping it real’.

In thinking about the biggest stumbling block to achieving what I would like to do in my life, and my growth, I think that it is still my nemesis FEAR. Yes fear has stalked me and is the root of everything that holds me back. So, this time at my Coven’s Yule Ritual I made it my purpose to cast fear into the depths of the Cauldron of Life:

I release fear into the depths, where its power can be transmuted and changed into that which is positive and healthful. So Mote it Be!

Next, I made my spiritual goal for the coming year 2013.

I draw into me the power of the Universe in order to help me achieve my goals in 2013, with courage and fortitude. So Mote it Be!

Making these simple affirmations really helped me to focus on being able to achieve what I want out of life, what I would like to achieve and what would make me happy…maybe not straight away but working towards these steadily and with courage and purpose instead of being consumed with fear and doing nothing. I truly believe the power of affirmations is immense but in order for them to work you need to keep saying them, make the saying of them into a simple ritual perhaps – light a candle, write your affirmation on a slip of paper, repeat it three times and then burn it in the candle flame. This way your intent rises upwards in the smoke into the Universe, where it can be directed in a positive way for your benefit. Keep repeating the affirmation throughout the day too. If you’ve never used affirmations before all this might sound silly but believe me, the more you do it, the more you can actually manifest in your life and the happier and more grounded you’ll be.

Many fruitful blessings to you for the coming year, 2013!

A new witchy blog award

What a lovely comment I had waiting for me this morning. I have been awarded another award…this time a Witchy/Wiccan/Pagan themed one and that’s really nice since it’s the first of this kind I’ve ever been awarded. It’s really lovely to be appreciated in this way. I would like to thank Poppy for awarding this to me. Do please check out her lovely blog!

What Ayslyn says about the award: “Today is a very special day. Not only is it Samhain, the most important Sabbat on the Wiccan Wheel of the year, but it is also the unveiling of a project Cassandra and I have been working on for a couple of months. Over the past weeks, we have both been graced with several blogging awards, but we couldn’t help but notice that none of the awards floating around were Wiccan in nature. And so, the idea was born to create an award specifically for Wiccans/Pagans/witches.

Thus the purpose of this award is to bring positive recognition to those bloggers who share their experiences on the less-traveled path, whether in the form of a journal or by standing up for themselves and others. Our award logo was a collaborate endeavor made with love that we are both very proud of. So without any further ado, onward to the details of the newest award to find its way to the blogosphere!

The Rules:

Post the award logo within your blog post.

Thank the blogger who passed the award to you.

Answer the seven questions below.

Nominate five Wiccan/Pagan bloggers (If you don’t know five other Wiccan bloggers, nominate as many as you can).

Notify your nominees of their pending award.

Give a short description of the blog/blogger and why you nominated them.

Stop by Ayslyn’s Corner and Book of Shadows to add your name to the list of bloggers awarded.

You may customize the questions as long as they are still Wiccan- and Pagan-related.

Seven Questions:

How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Paganism? I think I’ve been a pagan all my life although probably didn’t realise it when I was young. I guess I ‘found’ my pagan path in 1994 when I had an ‘experience’ with Cernunnos in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire. However, officially I began my Wiccan/Witchcraft path in 2006 when I joined Sacred Mists.
Do you grow herbs? I eat, sleep and breathe herbs! LOL I love all things botanical, not just for growing but communing with too. Check out my Botanical website here – All That is Alive!
Are you “in the broom closet”? If not, share your coming out experience. I’ve never been in the broom closet. I am blessed and fortunate to have very understanding and open-minded friends and family, and live in a country where paganism of all kinds is well tolerated.
What tradition do you follow? I follow a Celtic Wiccan tradition, which is the tradition of my Coven. However it is also eclectic so I’m open to learning from many different sources and traditions.
Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?) Yes, I’m a witch! I refer to myself as a shamanic witch but I am an initiated priestess of Sacred Mists, which is a Celtic Wiccan tradition. I use shamanism heavily in my practise, and also aspects of druidry too. However, there’s also some Buddhism and Taoism in the mix too.
How much of witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism are you able to incorporate into your everyday life? I don’t incorporate my spiritual path into my life – it IS my life! There’s no boundary between the spiritual and the mundane – it is all one beautiful whole! There is spiritual in all things, even the washing up.  My favourite expression is…All is Alive!
Do you have a familiar? If you do, tell us how you meet him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all). No, I don’t have a familiar but I have plenty of Spirit Guides and Allies who frequently participate in my spiritual practices. I have two beautiful, wonderful, and very funny cats but I wouldn’t call them familiars – they are my furchildren and bring great joy to me.

For this award I’m nominating the following:

Forest Fay

Ashtoreth

Brighde

Phoebe

Darrell

Another Award

I’ve just had a really lovely surprise. Ashtoreth Eldritch has just bestowed the Beautiful Blogger Award upon me. Thank you so very much! It always brightens my day when lovely people bestow recognition – who doesn’t like a bit of recognition from time to time.

So in keeping with the rules I must share seven things about myself and then nominate a further 15 good people for this award.

Well, I know I’ve shared much about myself in my blog so…hmmm….what to share? Oh well here goes:

1. I’m 47 years old but I still keep a security blanket, an old black silky night-shirt that I sometimes like cuddling at night. Even if I don’t cuddle it I like having it there. I know this is something unresolved from childhood but having it somehow comforts me.

2. I love eating raw vegetables. In fact I hardly ever eat cooked veggies except for roasted parsnips with honey glaze (yum!).

3. I love eating Nutella straight from the jar.

4. I think shaving is a complete chore…and I love my leg beards!

5. I believe it is perfectly ok to embrace modern technology as long as it doesn’t become one’s ‘god’.

6. A ritual can be as complicated and as formal as you want to make it, or it can be as simple as sitting under a full moon and blowing her a kiss. All that matters is intention and authenticity.

7. I am rather pulled towards the Dark Side sometimes and find the process of decay fascinating.

Here are the worthy blogs I’m nominating for this award:

Donna Long

The Family Herbalist

The London Flower Lover

Forest Fay

PibblesNMe

Forcing Myself Happy

FayDanAmyJake

WOW

Livin and Lovin

Linda Ursin

On the Far Side

If you’ve been nominated the rules are:

1) To thank and link back to the person who gave the award to you.

2) To share 7 things about yourself on your blog.

3) To nominate a further 15 blogs for this award.

Thank you once again Ashtoreth for awarding me this – it is very much appreciated.

Daily Om ~ Doing Our Best

Your best is always good enough, because it comes from you, and you are always good enough. We often come into contact with the idea that our best isn’t good enough, as if this were actually possible. If you examine this notion, you will begin to see that it doesn’t make much sense. Your best is always good enough, because it comes from you, and you are always good enough. You may not be able to deliver someone else’s idea of the best, but the good news is that’s not your burden. You only need to fulfill your own potential, and as long as you remain true to that calling, and always do your best to fulfill your purpose, you don’t need to expect anything more from yourself.

It’s easy to get tangled up with the idea of trying to be the best—the best parent, the best employee, the best child, or best friend. If we try to be the best, we run the risk of short-circuiting our originality because we are striving to fit into someone else’s vision of success. In addition, if everyone is striving for the same outcome, we lose out on creativity, diversity, and visionary alternatives to the way things are done. On another note, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve, but examining where this feeling comes from is important because wanting to be better than others is our ego coming into play.

Letting go of the tendency to hold ourselves up to other people’s standards, and letting go of the belief that we need to compete and win, doesn’t mean we don’t believe in doing the best job we can. We always strive to do our best, because when we do we create a life free of regret, knowing we have performed to the best of our ability. This allows us to feel great personal satisfaction in all of our efforts, regardless of how others perceive the outcome.