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Drawing from Ether to Substance

  A journey of body and spirit begins long before the first steps on solid ground. I had dreamed the journey, I had cast spells for the journey, I had journaled my wish for the journey and set my intention to draw this journey out of the ether and into the world of substance. I began to weave the magickal and the mundane in preparation for those steps. My search engines and YouTube became dedicated tools as much as all my notes and books and magickal workings. In retrospect, I chuckle at some… for instance I became a frequent viewer of the very dated but very helpful You Tube series, “Speaking our Language…Learn Scottish Gaelic.” I chuckle a bit as I remember caring for my toddler grandson and rattling off “Ciamar a tha sibh? Tha gu math, tapadh leat.” Spoiler alert…I did not succeed in learning the language, but I did use that phrase a few times…especially the tapadh leat, which means thank you.

     Having been to the United Kingdom before I listed areas that called to me to return. I compiled information on ley lines, sacred sites and especially places meaningful to me. I am a Vermonter and rugged landscapes with rock outcroppings always make my heart soar. I knew I wanted to walk in the Highlands as I had done years before. I wanted to feel the cold winds that carry the cold rains, I wanted to breathe sweet air and sink my feet into the dark Highland mud. I debated just getting off the plane with no plan verses having an itinerary with dots laid out on a map. I opted for drawing only broad brush strokes and coloring in lots of flexibility. Once that decision was made I made my first purchases: Guide Books, Rick Steves’ Guide Books for Scotland, Great Britain and Wales; Lonely Planet guide book for Scotland and the Rough Guide book for Scotland.

     I have always opted for travelling light, whether an overnight jaunt or a month of travel. This has been somewhat of a challenge for me because often times in my ritual and teaching life, lugging heavy baskets and multiple items is the rule rather than the exception. I am convinced, however, that to travel via plane for any amount of time is to travel light, and that was especially true for this journey. I have learned that back packs work better for me than any size suitcase on wheels. When a suitcase has wheels it seduces me into believing that adding an item or two to the mix does not matter…usually those items are best left at home. The goal was not to check my luggage, to be able to carry it on my back for extended distances and periods of time, and also to be able to comfortably lift it into the overhead compartments of planes, trains and buses. For me, that meant that the pack had to weigh no more than 16 pounds and be able to fit in most of those compartments. I have climbed enough stairs in train stations and B and Bs to learn that carrying something on your back is easier than tugging something up a staircase, heavy and sighing with every stair. I have also witnessed my share of tourists who struggle to get luggage on and off the trains or wait in long lines for the elevators while the stairs are just a hop away. So, I did treat myself to a new Rick Steves Classic Back Door bag… the basic one, not the convertible one. The convertible one expands and I knew I would have a difficult time convincing myself not to tuck some other items into that compartment. That being said my bag is 21’X14”X9” and weighs less than two pounds. It does not taper like many packs and it’s squared off design is more easily organized. This trip I also planned to use packing cubes to keep everything in order and to eliminate packing and unpacking and packing again at every stop.

     This trip presented some additional challenges for light packing. I was travelling in the Highlands where temperatures would still be in the 40s, but I would be there for an extended period of time, plus I might spend some time in England, so there was a chance I would experience much warmer temperatures. An on line search produces numerous resources and advice on light packing. I found a video on line produced by Rick Steves featuring Sarah Mudoch. Sarah is one of the Steves tour guides. She had just returned from a trip to Italy, so not only did the video show how and what to pack, but it was based on the pack she had brought to Italy. The video was so helpful that I subscribed to her blog: Adventures with Sarah.net. Not only was it informative and entertaining, but she was quick to answer emails regarding my particular dilemma. And Sarah is really hard core on packing light.

     In order to help anchor the journey in substance, my first tether would be my airline ticket. I quickly discovered that flights from Tampa to London were considerably more convenient and less expensive than flights from Tampa to Edinburgh. Since I planned to purchase a British Rail pass to ensure flexibility as well as savings, flying to London seemed the best plan….it did however, cast part of my journey in stone…the beginning and the end. London, not Edinburgh; England not Scotland. Regardless of the free flow of travel, I enjoy the security of having reservations for my first and last nights of my journey. After a night flight from Tampa, I wanted to have an easy and comfortable, but still interesting place for a night or two to regroup and recover. There was York staring up from the map in bold letters.  I am not sure what I love about York, but I had fond memories of my last trip, so without further deliberation, I booked two nights at the Arnot House. The Arnot House is within walking distance from the train station and just around the corner from the City Wall. Perfect, fly into Gatwick, navigate passport control, train to King’s Cross, hop a second train to York. Sigh of relief.

  The need to decide on the last night of my journey forced me to make a major decision about where to spend both my birthday and MidSummer. My initial plan was to be at the standing stones in Lewis or at Tigh na Cailleach in Glen Lyon or even on Ben Nevis, but now that would not work because I needed to be near Heathrow for my return flight on June 22. A few years ago I had thought about MidSummer at Stonehenge, but that no longer called to me.  Much to my surprise messages popped up everywhere…random thoughts, random images. During one of my walks I was playing an album by Kellianna. “Mists of Avalon.” Okay, Goddess, I get it…Glastonbury. I would spend both my birthday and MidSummer there before heading to London and Heathrow. I had to make reservations because it would be three, maybe four nights. Synchronisity…a pagan themed B and B. The name? The Covenstead, the room? Hedgewitch. Sometimes the Goddess changes your plans, sometimes they are different, but prove to be infinitely more magickal.      

    

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Wynde…My Path, My Site

    With the passing of yet another birthday, the Solar and the Lunar returns reveal the swirl of possibilities and the illumination of promises still unfolding. This was a remarkable birthday and with its passing a stronger commitment to this site was born…a renewed energy and a stronger vision. Such incredible sites on the Internet dedicated to the Craft. Sites resplendent with candlelit pentagrams, and besoms, magickal calligraphy, images of Goddess and God, many dark and beckoning emerged from my searches and visits. With renewed commitment, I realized these sites had affected me in yet another realm….the realm of self doubt…was my site witchy enough? There is a mirror image to that question that many of my students have voiced…is my life witchy enough?

    The title of my page is Wynde.  Wynde is my adaptation of an old Scottish word, Wynd.  A wynd is a narrow pathway or alley way. It often has twists and turns, and more often leads to hidden treasures. Gael refers to all things celtic and thus the name of my site and my store reflects both my path and my affinity for Scotland, Ireland and all things Gaelic.

     I do admire and love to visit those intensely witchy sites….especially the dark ones that seem seeped in mystery. These sites are so mystically magcikal to me. I also admire the houses of witches whose craft permeates every nook and crannie of their abode. I have one friend in particular…even as you park your car on the street the house calls to you…a powerful witch and priestess abides within…magickal offerings adorn the trees, spheres hang from branches and peek out of bushes, magick is in the air!  Inside the air carries the sweet scents of incense and candles, tributes to the Goddess and God transform mundane to magickal…inside, outside, above and below, it all vibrates with the essence of her craft and the path she shares with her Shaman partner. I love being in that space, soaking in that essence, and I especially love when we weave our energies in that ritual space. I live in a condo…a fairly small condo, but even before I moved to smaller spaces, the visible signs of my craft have been more subtle. I have maintained my same Goddess blessing at my entrance, but now a I have a sprig of rosemary across the top of it since I no longer have outdoor space. My witches ball still hangs in the center of my sliding glass doors that face West, but now those doors lead to a Juliette balcony. Herb pots, candles, a lunar calender, a magickal planner, all are scattered hither and thither around the living area, dining room and kitchen, tributes to my Spirit Horse and the ELements. My bedroom is less subtle…my altar centered on my Amethyst Cathedral, my besoms, my window adorned with a stained glass crescent moon and numerous crystals…candles, cauldrons, magick abounds.

   My spaces are a bit more subtle because my space reflects the path I follow and the merging of my particular magickal with mundane.  Your Wynde is yours to create. How you choose to express your Craft will be determined by your own context and your footsteps upon your path…where will it lead you? I am witch of Air, Water and Fire: I am High Priestess and teacher, healer and crone, this site reflects who I am at this manifestation of my life. There are many ways for you to experience and express your path as you journey forward. Let go of expectations and listen to the Goddess who speaks within. Be true to the Voice. Perhaps your monuments to your craft will be filled with pentagrams and candlelit corners, images of the Goddess, crystals and besom…perhaps your expression will be a single candle and a small bouquet of flowers, whatever your create, create it with joy in your soul and the love of the Goddess in your heart…all else will follow.

    And, yes, my site is witchy enough – it is a creation of the path I have followed, a journey that continues to twist and turn, that narrows, then expands to narrow yet again… there is magick on this path….and endless possibilities.

So mote it be!

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The Journey Continues

    Sometimes the Goddess challenges our resolve with distractions. We hear this inner voice of inspiration, purposeful possibilities, numerous threads of future action, then as the weaving begins, as the warp appears set, the distractions begin, the tension seems amiss. Like some witches, I have struggled to balance the magickal and the mundane only to discover that it is the arbitrary boundary I have created between the two that is the tension, that creates the problem. There is no boundary, it is our intentions about our magickal life that heightens our awareness and permits the magickal to shimmer through all that seemed mundane.

     It has been almost three years now since I sold my hillside farm, bid a gentle farewell to the woodland spirits, meadow elves and water sprites to return to urban living. The difficult choices of a crone was eased by the loving embrace of children, grandchildren, old friends and a beloved spiritual family. Here I discovered the water witch within my soul and the promises of footsteps yet to come. Sun in Gemini, Moon in Cancer, Leo rising, no longer the  Priestess, time to embrace the Crone…but how…where is the next step?High

      On this morning, I ask myself, “Why do this at all?” Why as I struggled to anticipate the next step in my 69th and 70th year did I create a web site, attach a store and embark on this strange journey? More importantly, why, as I begin my 71st year have I intensified my commitment to continue? The answers spill out in a series of heartbeats…I love this Goddess path with every fiber of my being, and I love to write…surely at this crossroads, it is time for one to give voice to the other such that others may hear. Another answer to my question also emerges, a crone at 60 dances the power dance around the fire, creates magick at the altars of the Forest and the Mountain top, but who is this crone at 70? I had to discover her, own her, love her and share her, believing that in some small way this sharing will be seen by just the right person at just the right time and that sharing will inspire her or his journey forward as well.

      As I anticipated my 70th birthday,I was determined that my 70th  would be both a remarkable celebration and a life altering experience. I love birthday parties, balloons, friends, ice cream, and especially birthday cakes, but not this time, I wanted this to be a time of a personal journey, my Cailleach journey, and for me, that meant Scotland. I set my intention with a wee bit of reservation, but as so often happens when you set your foot on a true path, the Goddess gave me a major shove forward. A debt I had long ago written off was paid and suddenly, I had a savings account and work to do. 

     From that beginning was born this site and this blog. I wanted to write about this journey, I wanted to share it and suddenly mundane ideas became very magickal indeed. I did not embrace my crone-hood or my 60s gracefully. I colored my hair,obsessed about the lines on my face and neck, all the while agonizing over just the right anti-aging products. Somehow in all this denial, there was a light of inspiration. I started taking care of myself. Holy basil tea became a daily indulgence, I started eating a bit more healthily, I started walking and OMG, even exercising. I lamented my lack of stamina and determined to improve. There were hits and misses, times of discouragement and a few times of exuberant success. I discovered some of my patterns – I do better when I have a goal, especially a really big goal, and I need some sort of schedule. The trip to Scotland was a really big goal.

I faced some truths as a crone headed to age 70. Stamina, flexibility and strength require more effort than in younger times. Much to my chagrin I found that I was no longer able to sit cross legged for extended periods of time. (Just when did that happen?)  I needed to be able to carry my backpack and walk a minimum of 5 miles a day – that would take some effort…and then, there was that face in the mirror, no longer the face of youth, but rather the face of experience and a journey well traveled. Coloring my hair did not change that face no matter how I tried to convince myself otherwise. Nor was the secret to that face found at a cosmetic counter…two major changes emerged…. the first was to cut my hair short, really short, for me painfully short, and to permit the locks of the crone to sprout forth. The second was to put aside the false promises  of anti-aging creams and instead to find a healthy skin regime that worked for me. In Vermont, I had attended several Women’s Herbal Conferences sponsored by Sage Mountain and they had become the building blocks for my own herbal work. I returned to that knowledge and now that I was no longer working full time, there was space to create my own skin and hair products, to conjure my own magick while dancing between the worlds in their creation. The bath fizzies on this site are a function of that magick and there will be more to come.

 My journey has had some interesting twists and turns, such is the stuff of magick. Each week I will post and invite you to share that journey with me…. Next time, how i planned and how I prepared…Blessed be.