Friday, 29 August 2014

Stepping forward...

I had a blog post running around in my head last night but I have slept since it probably won't make sense but let's see how it goes...

This weekend we have our (as in Kitchen Witch) first Goddess workshop focusing on eight Celtic goddesses and we are really excited about it, we will be setting up our travelling temple, chanting, meditating, connecting with the goddesses and creating beautiful things (oh and cupcakes...did I mention lots of cupcakes?).  Then on Monday our first online course starts, eight weeks of delving into goddess connections - again really exciting for us.

It is exciting because we are looking forward to sharing the experience with everyone but also because in creating it Tracey (this was all Tracey's idea in the first place!) and I have also walked the same path that everyone else will hopefully do - we have walked with the goddesses in the process of writing and putting together both the workshop and the course and it has been a fabulous experience.  We have both written about our own Matron goddesses which was amazing but also we have walked the pathway with other goddesses that we may not have had a lot of experience with which has been enlightening, although some of the goddesses do argue with Tracey...

My point with this blog post was to highlight that in the past two years or so we have spent so  much time and effort working with Kitchen Witch - the school, the workshops and the rituals and it has been the most amazing time and we hope it will continue to grow.  We have also met some of the most fantastic and beautiful souls that we could ever hope to meet, we have been totally blessed.  The support and friendship extended has been overwhelming.  But in doing so we both realised recently that our own spiritual journeys and studies had been left standing...

That is partly why the Goddess workshop and course have been so enlightening for us.  It has also encouraged us to make some hard decisions about 2015.

So here it 2015 we will continue with the open rituals because we love all the people that join us there and the space at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park is also gets us out of the house and into nature! There will be eight rituals, the dates can be found on the website

But for 2015 there are currently no plans for any workshops, they take a huge amount of time, effort and pre-planning and whilst we have been truly blessed with all the people attending with nearly every one fully booked, we feel the premise has been least for the time being. (Check the website for the couple of workshops we still have for 2014).

However it will allow us to focus more on the Kitchen Witch online school - lots of ideas and more input including hopefully some webinairs...just got to work out how to use it...

There will be more online courses in 2015, we are working on the next one already...

And we are hoping to be at some of the fairs in 2015 either with our stall or with our travelling Goddess Temple.

And it will allow us to focus on some studying of our own so that we can grow and expand our own spiritual journey but also to help us to pass on what we have learnt.   We both start a three year pathway in October along with a separate year long course as well - both of which we are very excited about.

We cannot thank everyone enough for the support we have received over the past couple of years and we are really looking forward to continuing, stepping forward with new plans and new ideas and spending time with such lovely people, whether it is online or off ♥

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A wet and icy dilemma...

In light of the recent ice bucket challenge craze filling our facebook feeds I have been pondering as it seems to be a bit of a dilemma.  Some people have responded to the challenge purely as a laugh...and have made no reference to the original reason for it i.e. creating awareness of the disease ALS and/or donating to the charity.  Some people have promoted the charity, others have declined to take on the challenge because ALS use animal testing (as do probably a whole stack of other charities I would think) or because of the waste of water when so many States are on a water shortage or countries without clean water. I can see all sides of this...and I am in no way telling others what to do - it is ultimately your choice and your opinion, all of which you are entitled to.

My 13 year old daughter was nominated to take on the challenge, when she asked me if it was OK for her to do it my reply was "only if you understand what the challenge is all about"...she went away, researched and created this:

Not one single drop of water or ice cube was involved, awareness of ALS was created and a donation was made.  And we have had several messages from families who have loved ones that suffer with this terrible disease, thanking us for making people aware ♥

I have several queries with regard to all of this...

Don't get me wrong...I am against animal testing but...and there is a but...there is no easy answer to this (not that I understand anyway, with my limited knowledge of how it all works).  Yes the world is run by politics and money...and that isn't going to change any time soon but how do we avoid it/change it?

If you are against donating to charities that do life saving work but use animal testing to do so then I assume you must be against any kind of product or company that tests on animals, which leads me to believe that you never purchase any kind of cosmetic, toilettries, hair or household products, perfumes or medications that have...they do exist but they are incredibly expensive and not always easy to obtain.

There is a big spiral from many products that we use in everyday life involve either animal testing, killing of animals or damage to the environment.  For instance anything with plastic in it must involve pollution to the air and our water systems in some way?

If you eat meat an animal has to die for that, do you always purchase organic meat or free range?  Do you always buy organic vegetables and fruit because all the pesticides kill off wildlife...

Do you wear leather shoes or have a leather wallet or handbag?  An animal had to die for that and what were it's living conditions before it did?

What about the clothes you wear?  Is everyone wandering around in hand made eco friendly hemp shirts and pants? (I just know they would shrink the first time in the tumble dryer...).  Have your clothes been made in a sweat shop somewhere across the world where a child is paid pennies to make it?

Have you ever washed a spider down the plug hole?  Swatted a fly or a wasp?

I am NOT judging here...I am not a vegetarian myself but I do try to buy free range meat, but it is expensive so we only eat meat 2 or 3 times a week, I do get a weekly organic vegetable box but I supplement it with non organic veg and fruit because I can't afford to do it all.  I lived and worked on a farm in my youth so I know about animal welfare first hand.

And what if the world suddenly all turned vegan?  Apart from the fact that I don't believe the planet would have enough chick peas to feed everyone (not judging here, I love all kinds of food including vegan!) but what would happen to the animals?  We wouldn't need them...I assume they would just die out?  What then would happen to the eco system?  Hasn't there got to be a balance?

And that is perhaps my point...we can't do it all.   Even a millionaire would struggle to live a completely animal cruelty free and eco friendly life.

But I have gone off track a bit here...if you were in the situation where you or someone you loved required urgent medication that could ease their pain and suffering or save their life...would you say "no sorry, the company that did the research for that tests on worms, flies and rodents"...? (which according to a statement from ALS is the only animal testing they perform).

Also bouncing around facebook was a statement from Pamela Anderson saying that she refused to do the challenge because the charity tests on animals - interestingly I found another article where the ALS had responded and countered all her quotes.  It made for an interesting read, perhaps here is an example of someone jumping on the band wagon and not getting all their facts straight first?  Who knows...the media is famous for not stating the facts!

There is no easy answer, I certainly don't have one.

I will continue to 'do my bit' as much as I can within my limited budget.  I will continue to support charities that save lives and help find cures for terrible diseases but I will also continue to do my research first before I weigh it all up and make choices or statements... you admire Stephen Hawkings?  Someone who has achieved so much...well he is an ALS sufferer...

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

I'm doing it for ME

This is probably going to be one of those rambling nonsensical blog 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 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 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 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).