Tuesday, 19 August 2014

I'm doing it for ME

This is probably going to be one of those rambling nonsensical blog posts...you have been warned...

For a lot of my life probably and most definitely the last couple or three years I have done everything I possibly could to help others, to support them, be there for them and lend a hand and to do what they wanted me to...a lot of the time ending up letting my own things slide and fall behind...I put others first, I spent time away from my family and my own priorities in the name of helping others with what they needed/wanted and because I am a bit rubbish at saying "no" (Tracey I can hear you sniggering from here).  Basically I spread myself too thin.

Sometimes we have to just stop and look at the priorities...

This year particularly I have been wearing my sparkly big girl panties and saying no a lot more than I have ever done before and do you know what? The guilt I used to feel?  Isn't there anymore.  (I have to thank my hubby here and Tracey for supporting me and encouraging me in discovering this new found super power...).

Does that make me a bad person? Most definitely NOT!

There is no harm in doing what YOU want and sorting out YOUR priorities first, there really isn't - in fact it's good for you!

This year I have put my focus back on what I need to do, my family, my close friends and my own spiritual path and of course Kitchen Witch and all our lovely students and coven members - these are the things that are important to ME.  And I am going to continue to do so...the choices I make now will have some important questions attached to them before I make any decisions:

Do I have time for it?
Will it impact heavily on family time?
Will it take me away from my own work priorities? (by that I mean Kitchen Witch)
Will it leave me no time for my own spiritual studies & practices?
Do I really want to do it or am I just saying yes because I am too nice?

I get invites pretty much every day to events, moots, rituals and the like and please don't stop sending the invites - it's nice to feel wanted!  But...the chances of me making most/any of them are slim, not because I don't want to attend but because I have to prioritise.  Most moots are evenings and they aren't easy for me, with a husband in a gigging band and children spare week day evenings are precious hubby time.  Rituals and events are usually at the weekend, if I am not doing something as Kitchen Witch then chances are we are doing something as a family.  But I will try...

My thoughts on this have been inspired in part because we are working on the 2015 diary already (yep I know it's only August).  With hubby in a gigging band - by the end of next week he will be fully booked with gigs for the whole of 2015 so we have had to go through the diary and book out holidays, birthdays and dates to keep free.  As Kitchen Witch we need to book the QE park for rituals in advance to get the dates we want and we have already had invites to some fab events in 2015.

We have had to look at our plans for 2015 as Kitchen Witch and work out what we want to do and where we want to take it.  We had a huge response to the recent survey from some very lovely people and we have listened to all the requests, most of which we can accomodate but we will also be making some changes too as we need to have time to study and learn new things too!

This life lesson for me has been all about letting go of the guilt.  You cannot please everyone all of the time - it just isn't possible and even if you were all singing, all dancing, all smiles and handing out free gold bars with bells on...there would still be someone that wasn't happy - that's just life and human nature.

Do it for YOU.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

City Witch

I have just returned from a holiday in rural France and it made me think about where we are in the world and what type of area we live in and how we connect with nature.

The place we stayed in was on the edge of a tiny village and surrounded by fields and a huge amount of wild boar forest, alas although I looked every day I didn't ever spot one but I was treated to visits by several lizards, what seemed like hundreds of huge moths, a couple of hawks and lots of bats.

In my youth I lived on a farm literally in the middle of nowhere also surrounded by fields but only accessible by a dirt track, no street lamps, no mains gas, electricity and a phone that went out every time there was a storm, no central heating and nowhere for supplies within walking distance (unless you count the farm where we collected our milk straight from the dairy tank).  Then it was fantastic fun and a brilliant house for parties...

Now (and for the past twenty years) I have lived on the edge of a large city, my house is in the middle of a terrace and I only have a small garden.

Which do I prefer?  Which one is better for being a witch?

I have to admit it...I love living where I do - I love my house, it is my sanctuary as is my garden.  The house was built in 1920 and has a lot of original features, I have fire places and stained glass windows and enough space for me and my family to be comfortable.  My garden although small has enough space for me to grow all my herbs and to escape to when I need to connect with nature.  I don't get visited by wild boar or lizards but I do get magpies, blackbirds, pigeons, lots of spiders and even the odd seagull.  All the takeaways deliver, the shops are within walking distance, I am surrounded by hundreds of fabulous restaurants, the ocean and the beach are a five minute drive away as is the forest in the other direction.  Basically I feel I have the best of all worlds.

Is it harder to be a witch in the city?...from personal experience I have to say a resounding NO.   Energy is all around us no matter where we are and the magic and ability to connect with it is WITHIN us.  It doesn't matter if you live in a cottage in the middle of a forest or a high rise block of flats in the centre of a city - there is always universal energy of some kind to connect with.

Even in big cities there tend to be some green areas - even London and New York have parks!

There will always be some kind of nature somewhere, no matter how small, even a pot plant on your dining room table and failing that we have all the elements around us - how easy is it to connect with the element of air?  You don't need to go anywhere for that!

Every living thing has energy...all you need to do is connect with it, it doesn't have to be standing in the centre of a huge forest (which of course is lovely to do if you can) just holding a pebble from the beach will connect you to that magic.

The witch is YOU, not the surroundings that you are in.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The whys and wherefores behind our ritual venue choice

We (as in Kitchen Witch) ran a survey recently just to give us some idea of how to plan out 2015 for events, rituals and workshops.

We were quite overwhelmed with the positive response - so a huge thank you to everyone ♥

Just to cover some of the queries/suggestions:

- Day trips to Glastonbury and Avebury are covered by several groups in the area already, let us know if you need details.
- Online lessons, study halls and rituals are already covered in our online school www.kitchenwitchhearth.com as well as mentoring (we also have Webinair planned for the school)
- Evening moon rituals and meditation evenings are also covered by several groups in the area - again let us know if you need details (we don't want to duplicate what others are already doing!).

One of the main requests was for us to continue holding open rituals (and in fact the majority asked us to do more!) which we will be doing in 2015.  The other main request was for more online courses...watch this space...

However a few people asked us to hold rituals in other locations, this is a tricksy one...for a few reasons. When we made the decision to start holding open rituals we were (as far as we were aware) the only witchcraft group holding open rituals in the area, we made sure of that because we would not want to upset any other covens!   

We researched carefully the location to hold our rituals with some important (to us anyway) factors in mind.  It had to be a lovely nature setting, it had to be easily accessible with not too much walking to get to, it had to be in an area that other groups didn't currently use and for me...it had to have toilets..the onsite cafe was an added bonus!

There are certain restrictions that some may not be aware of when holding an open ritual, it is classed as an 'organised event' and that comes with all sorts of Health and Safety and insurance issues.  Whilst you can just roll up to a field and hold a ritual if you want, you may find that you get caught out.  Most forests and fields are owned by someone, whether it is a farmer, landowner, a society or the local council so most places require permission from the owner first (which is only good manners after all).   Most places also have restrictions on numbers of people and the use of fire/open flame.

The Queen Elizabeth Country Park were amazingly helpful and open to us holding our rituals and although the first field we used was OK, the spot (Larkwhistle site) that we moved to at the top of the hill is perfect with the yew tree grove and the beech trees, but we have to book each date officially with the park for legal/Health & Safety reasons, we also have to state the number of people attending (although they don't charge us a hire fee) and we are not allowed to light fires...which actually makes total sense when you are in the middle of a huge forest!

We, as Kitchen Witch also have Public Liability Insurance...not that anyone would blame us if they fell over a log during a ritual but you never know...

So for 2015 our rituals will still be held on a Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park but we will be avoiding the sabbat dates as we don't want to clash with other local groups (the Genesis Order of Druids hold sabbat rituals at Hilsea Lines on a Sunday and a couple of other groups hold regular open rituals at Kingley Vale nature reserve - see facebook or contact us for more details).

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Will the real persona step forward...

I have been thinking lately about the different faces and personas that we wear in our lives.

When I was younger I had several alter egos and I hid behind each one of them or maybe I just hadn't found the right fit for me yet...

Up until six years ago I worked in an office and each day I wore a suit, a very respectable (tattoos hidden) organised Personal Assistant to the CEO.  I still have the same job and the same boss but we now work from home so no need for smart suits.

My husband is in a local rock band and for years I went to all the gigs so I had my rock chic persona with the matching jeans/black t shirts/leather biker jacket wardrobe.

I had a lot of non pagan friends that were very fashionable so I also had my non witchy high street fashion persona and accomanying wardrobe.

And somewhere in there...was me...with my attempt (on a smaller scale and much, much smaller budget) at a Stevie Nicks wardrobe.

Over the years I have shed some of the masks and most of the personas and I have to be honest pretty much all of the wardrobes, I no longer need to wear a suit, I sadly no longer attend many gigs due to a busy life and children (but I have kept hold of my leather biker jacket...some things are meant to stay if purely for the good memories) and I don't really care who I am out with...I wear what I want, not what I think will make me fit in.   I guess years of shadow work, progressing further down my spiritual pathway and the wisdom that comes with age have led me to become the real ME.

But then the me that is now is also a whole heap different to the me that has been in the past (if that makes any sense at all).

I still have personas but they are much smaller and more in line with the real me - I have to be 'bigger' and more confident when speaking in front of a room full of people, leading a ritual or running a workshop.

I guess the outside world will always have a slightly different perspective on how a person is - the world in general probably believes me to a totally confident, organised, go get 'em kinda gal.  And to a certain extent I am - if I set my mind to something I will work very hard to achieve it, but confidence is a tricksy thing...yes I guess I am confident when talking or working in the witchy world because I am passionate about what I do and the subject matter, but it doesn't make me totally confident about everything in my life.

In reality I worry, I worry about all sorts of things - have I made the right choices, will people like what I do, did I say the right things, have I supported people enough, did everyone enjoy the ritual/workshop/talk - all these things worry me...but I don't think that will ever change.

I cry...I cry at adverts, at Star Trek, at pretty much anything that is remotely sad...or happy...I get upset when I read horrible things on social media sites, I get frustrated at the horrible things that are happening and that we do to each other as humans.   I especially hate bitchyness, gossip and rumour because those things are NEVER good, rarely based on the truth and quite indefendable against.

Those lovely people that read my  books probably have a perception of me as an author (OK that still sounds funny calling myself that!), my fabulous students probably have a slightly different perception of me in my teacher/mentor persona, all the amazing people that support us at our workshops and rituals may have a totally different idea of who I am as a person - bossy, loud and laughs a lot...my family will have possibly have a very different view of me again.  Very few people will know, see and understand the real me...but I guess that is going to be the same for everyone.

My personal journey has taken me on many twists and turns but I have learnt along the way (sometimes it takes me several attempts to learn the same lesson) and my personality has changed and grown along the way with it.

The upshot of this very rambling and non sensical blog post today is my realisation that I am very comfortable being me and the more comfortable you are within yourself I believe the more it will show to the outside world...so I guess what you see with me is very much what you get...the real me...almost...but also to never assume that what you see on social media sites, what you hear in the gossip groups and what you see at events may not always be how the person is feeling inside or what they are really like...

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Warning...this blog post may offend...

Warning...this blog post may offend...actually if it does then good!

In the midst of the battle that womankind (and man) are fighting against media and body shape/size it makes me really cross and extremely sad to see the 'Walmart shopper' type pictures that are trending around facebook.

There was one in particular yesterday - and I did debate about putting the image on this blog but then I thought "hey, this woman was minding her own business and some complete stranger took a photo of her without her knowledge and then plastered it all over social media" so I didn't want to add to the invasion of her privacy.   It was a photo of a very curvaceous lady wearing a skimpy lycra outfit, it did cover all the appropriate body parts but the skirt was short and the top was low cut...the strapline on the photo said something along the lines of "describe in one word"...the comments that followed can only be described as VILE, one of them suggested that "it should be killed"...

Why do we as a people feel the need to belittle others?  To ridicule that which looks different to what we perceive as normal?  Personally I think normal is way over rated and I would much rather be unique.

This woman (and all the other photos like it) was a lady totally in control of her confidence and rocking her curves, I say "good on ya girl"!   Was it an outfit I would wear? No, (although my husband would probably have liked me to!) but what does that have to do with it?  Who am I or anyone else to judge her and what she wants to wear?  What gives us the right to trash talk about her?

We are all fighting the sterotype that the fashion industry would insist we look like - the rib cage skinny with knife edge shoulder blades - we continuously fight for the fuller figure to be accepted in the 'industry' and 'mainstream' so why do we then trash images of goddess shape women?

And whilst we are on the subject, yes I do join the campaign for the industry to accept women to be a realistic size.  When I was a teenager I could rock a size 8 ra ra skirt but that was a gazillion years and a couple of children ago - no way would I ever maintain a size 8 figure now, nor would I want to. I have my bad "I think I am fat" days (I wear a UK size 16) but in actual fact yes I am larger now than I was in my teens and twenties but I am also the most confident and content...The flip side of this as well, when we post the images on facebook of Marilyn Monroe types and what the fashion industry would have us call 'larger models' do we then belittle those of the population that are either naturally slim or work very hard to be so?

Why can we not just accept that whatever body size or shape we are is right for us? Why can we not just accept that if we want to go out dressed in whatever outfit we dang well choose to that it is up to us and no one else's business?

All those people that are commenting on these photos with vile, sarcastic and spiteful comments...are you perfect?  What the heck gives you the right to judge those people?

I say...be yourself, be confident, be comfortable, wear what makes YOU feel good and wear whatever you damn well want to and anyone that says otherwise can go take a running jump...

If you are one of those that judges and that puts the spiteful comments on those social media posts...WHY, why would you do that to another human being?

Right...I'm off to put on my Princess Leia gold bikini to go do the shopping...