Danu's Cauldron: Wisewoman's Ways, and Wild Fey Magic

Living in a sacred landscape, walking between the worlds in the veil of Avalon Glastonbury. Where the old gods roam the hills, and the sidhe dance beneath the moon...wander into the mists with me and let us see what we may find...

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Danu Forest

Danu Forest

Danu Forest is a wisewoman in the Celtic Bean Feasa tradition of her ancestors. You could call her many things- witch, seer, walker between the worlds, healer, druid, priestess, teacher, writer, gardener, herbwife, stargazer, faery friend, tree planter, poet, and wild woman. Danu lives in a cottage near Glastonbury Tor in the midst of the Avalon lakes, in the southwest of England. Exploring the Celtic mysteries for over 25 years, and noted for her quality research, practical experience, as well as her deep love of the land, Danu writes for numerous national and international magazines and is the author of several books including Nature Spirits, The Druid Shaman, Celtic Tree Magic, Gwyn ap Nudd and The Magical Year'. She teaches regular workshops and online courses and is available for consultations, including healings readings and other ceremonies.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Recently I’ve been weaving water magic, and taking brief pilgrimages in search of depth. In the Celtic traditions, bodies of water, lakes, rivers and wells hold special positions as liminal places, where the realms of spirit may be easier to access, and where healing and wisdom can be sought. In the Irish tradition the otherworld and the gods are often found by journeying over bodies of water or on mysterious islands off to sea, as well as at the many holy wells and springs that are found across the country. In Wales it is similar, with lakes also holding this sacred significance, and the Welsh word for the otherworld, Annwn, or its older spelling, Annwfn, literally means ‘the deep place.’ Seeking depth, physically, in the dark ever renewing stillness of wells and wild waters, and the bright flowing of waterfalls on mountainsides I find my mind and my whole being refreshed and cleared of strain. I’ve found the stillness within which may allow new thoughts, new ideas, new insights to arise. The deep isn’t only to be found in the earth, or under water, it needs to be found in our hearts and minds as well, for transformation to come, for a new way of being to be born. So I’ve made a commitment to sit in silent communion near water and to place my feet in rivers and streams at least once a week, to seek healing, renewal, and new vision in these difficult times. To access the source of my soul and the soul of the land, and physically hold that connection in my body.

Meditating near bodies of water is always a special and useful practice. There is something in the sounds of water that helps us to change our consciousness even for a while, and gain access to those deeper parts within…making friends with the water in our bodies too, by drinking more water, and undertaking cleansing rituals that use water magically for change are also powerful. Try adding seasalt to your baths, and using vibrational essences, as well as making space for your emotions to be felt and honoured, with regular time set aside to keep in contact with yourself and your feelings. This is essential especially when life gets tough. Honouring the waters of the world with offerings is also good practice; sing to your rivers and streams, read them poetry, take time to pick up rubbish and get involved defending them from pollution. Buy green products that don’t pollute, walk your talk. But most of all, love them, spend time with them, build relationship with them, and healing will flow naturally. Honouring the waters, and seeking our own deep places, has its own simple magic, and sometimes that is the strongest kind of all.

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My spiritual and magical life has always been very much tied to the land. I’m very fortunate to have been able to explore some wonderful truly wild places, and to have made pilgrimages a great many times to a large proportion of Britain and Irelands sacred megalithic sites. These sacred monuments and enclosures were constructed thousands of years ago by our Neolithic, bronze age and later Iron age ancestors. Visiting and taking extended vigils at some of our most revered as well as some of our lesser known sacred ancestral sites has been central to my magical and spiritual training since I was a teenager.  To me, working and communing with the powers of place, the spiritual guardians of these places, has provided the most potent aspects of my instruction and I feel I have built up a close relationship with many ancient sites that are as personal and dear to my heart as my relationships with my fellow humans. Many of these places are small, lesser known sites well off the beaten track, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to foster a deep relationship with some of our better known and even famous megalithic sites, having spent time there and held ceremony within their enclosures for many years now. One of the most often misunderstood of these is also the most famous- Stonehenge.  I’ve been fortunate to have been able to have private access to Stonehenge a few times a year for quite a long time, more often than I have ever visited as a tourist. I feel blessed that it is so. During the heady days around the summer solstice I might well visit the stones more than once, and this year when the site is closed, I’m feeling a real sadness that my regular pilgrimage cannot take place. Visiting when you have private access is very different than the huge open public solstice gatherings, that are so famous, when thousands of party goers get to climb all over the stones and unfortunately leave a lot of rubbish behind. Equally, when visiting as a tourist, one is lead around a circular path and are able to only see the stones from afar, as it if were a circus attraction, or a paining in a gallery. Sadly, these two extremes are how many people see Stonehenge; as a place of wild revelry, from a distance on a paid tour, or saddest of all, from the window of a car on the A303 road, stuck in traffic, choking the air of this sacred place with petrol fumes.   

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Celtic power plants and spring green magic

It’s blossom time! Nature abounds and the fields, forests and hedgerows are full of plants that can support us at this point in the year.

Cleavers (Galium aparine) makes an excellent spring tonic to cleanse your lymphatic system. Can be juiced, and added to smoothies etc, or as a tisane or herbal tea, but I prefer to use it as a cold decoction- place the leaves in a jar of cold water, leave in the sunshine for a day, and leave overnight to drink the next day. Cooled in the fridge its a refreshing drink which tastes like cucumber. (Warning: Fresh Cleavers plant can cause a severe contact dermatitis for some people. If this is you, wear gloves when harvesting Cleavers. Strain infusions and tinctures of uncooked Cleavers carefully to avoid throat irritation.)

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We have all had times where the challenges that life brings to us feel overwhelming. For the most part, hopefully, these are brief times of illness or misfortune, but it is a fact that each of us will have to come to terms less often with times of real challenge and even with death. As we journey through our lives, we seldom find these things occur at convenient moments, when we feel strong and equipped to endure. At such times we realise that all our lives are constantly navigated through realms of unpredictability and the chaos of a multitude of lives and circumstances co-existing and intersecting with our own. How much power we have over our fate is often woefully small. Yet there is to be found, even at such times, a wellspring of resources within us and around us, if not to cure, then certainly to provide a balm for our distress.  

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Spring is here, but for so many in the world right now, the great greening of nature is overshadowed by our need to guard our health and bring healing to ourselves and our communities. Herbal medicine has been used throughout the world for millennia, and there are a great many herbal home remedies that can be used at this time to ease the symptoms of the dreadful pandemic we are now facing- none of these can be used to completely defeat the virus, or are substitutes for medical assistance when necessary- but they can help ease the symptoms. Simple herbs like thyme for tea to ease coughs, garlic nettle and licorice to support our health and healing, etc, are all useful and safe…with a host of advice to be found online for their uses- but a little extra magic can go a long way to supporting our healing, and  our states of mind when tackling illness in the home, and I’d like to share with you a little Irish lore which I apply when making my home remedies. I invoke the goddess Airmed, mistress of the healing herbs at times like this, to guide me and bless my work.

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Today is Imbolc, the Celtic festival of light and returning green which honours the Goddess Brighid. In truth she can be honoured all over this next few weeks, so don't overlook it if you don't have time this weekend.  Mistress of healers and poets, protectress of children, mothers and the hearth and home, Brighid is a goddess who should have a place in everyone’s home, and her strong yet gentle energy blesses all she touches. Yet we must also remember, her flame is fierce. In some tales she transforms into the maiden Brighid from the ancient Crone goddess the Cailleach, the wise old one of winter, and in other tales these two do battle to force the Cailleach to release her hold upon the land. She's strong is Brighid, not some slip of a girl, but a woman grown, strong enough to be a midwife, to hold all the family, all the clan. 

We live in challenging times, and the earth needs us like never before, our communities need us, and the powerless all over the world need those who can to stand up and bring in a more caring time…we need that light that Brighid brings so desperately. Yet we also need the Cailleach, she who teaches us about long winters, about wisdom and about what it is to endure. Today I see troubled times here in the UK and the U.S. and elsewhere, and I see a need for that wisdom more than ever, as well as a need for that light.

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Autumn is here and winter will be here soon... As the wheel turns its good too to set our energetic houses in order, in preparation for the new season. Equally there are times in life when the next stage, the next move to make in life is unclear. Stress, worry, negative energy can come into our lives in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons, and sometimes the only thing to do is be prepared to wade through some deep dark waters for a while- or even dive deeper trusting in the journey that in time you will come through to easier times. However, while struggle, and even a lack of clarity is all part of the rhythm of life from time to time, there are always pro-active things that can be done to help re-set and re-connect with the navigating forces in our lives once more. Whether its illness, depression, money worries, politics or a whole host of other challenges, there is always something we can do, to just make a small shift, that may set up some positive ripples in our energy.

 

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