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I’ve always been a night owl, loving the moon and stars, and the secret ways the world changes when everyone is sleeping…walking the lanes around Glastonbury Tor in nights so dark you couldn’t  see your feet upon the path, trusting those other senses; listening, feeling, smelling the air, that innate sense of presence you can get when you are in balance with your animal wild self and all the land around you to guide your way. I love the night for magic, weaving with the spirits, the night seems to allow a space for you to stretch into, bringing change where the rational mind of the day would not allow. But these days I’m feeling a subtle shift, and a new thread has come to my magical tapestry. Increasingly now I sense the best time for magic is not the night, but the dawn…or rather pre-dawn, as the first light finds its way across the trees and fields, bringing change to the world yet again, I find that magic can find a place to manifest…and catching the wave as the first golden light stretches like rosey honey across my beloved land my magic can carry on the first birdsong, on the unfurling of flowers, on raising of dawn mist and the stirring of the new day, to unfurl across the waking world and into manifestation as easily as the world turning… moon magic on one hand and sun magic on the other…and the time to wield it, is that wonderful tipping space betwixt and between…      

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

As the wheel turns to spring, life begins to stir in the soil and earth magic grows more powerful with every day.

Now is the time to sow flower herb or vegetable seeds indoors for abundant new plants in the coming summer. Excellent things to try in a limited space are salads or calendula or nasturtium plants which can be directly sown into small pots and grown on the windowsill if space is short. Allow yourself to experiment and have fun, eagerly awaiting the new shoots and seedlings springing into life.

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I sat with the Cailleach the other day, deep in the barrow mound, upon the hill, as the sun set on the shortest day. A raven spiralled over the white sky, and cut through the air with its cry…but its mournful sound seemed far off to me, sheltered in the shadows of the stones, and the black earth, the steady drip drip of water onto ancient sacred soil a drum rhythm, a rattle to the slow base of my heart beat in my ears, as I sank deeper and deeper still into the quiet.   

I held out my hands and felt her strong fingers, dry as winter twigs, gnarly knuckled and skin like paper-ash fine and fragile. She held my hands and with her the ancient ones, the sleeping ones stirring from the deep places dreaming, pulling me gently into layers below my awareness, calling me to slow down, and be enwrapped by them, to not rush today seeking magic when wisdom is here, in the quiet, in the dark. 

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Today we celebrate Samhain, and I'm drawn to think of my ancestors, my mothers bloodline and my fathers, back to the beginning, and as I step out to the threshold of my home, darkness gathering about me like a shawl, I give thanks to Gwyn ap Nudd, my patron god, lord of the wild hunt, and I give thanks to those that stand we with me unseen at the liminal places, who have seen my victories and my sorrows, and held my hand soft as the mist that caresses my cheek. I give thanks for each of them, my ancestral guardians, my beloveds, those whose bones are now a part of the rock and soil, those whose ashes are scattered on the wind, and whose memories are dust in the barrow mounds upon the hills, those who walked this long road before me. I remember you and you live in me, always.

Each year I bake a gift for the spirits, either barm brack or soul cakes, which I place out with a candle and a whiskey, for those who pass by on the wind. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

So equinox has passed, and the leaves have begun falling from the trees. Its dark earlier, and the call of the hearth fire is stronger now than before. I always feel early autumn and the equinox, is a whole season, a whole process rather than a single point. We are balanced finely, gently tipping a little more into the dark half of the year, when the Cailleach calls us to look within.

Here in Avalon the scent of ripe apples fills the air, and the mists draw in, and there can be a feeling of both abundance and grief as death and endings seem to hang on every branch and blow on every breath of wind, with the harshness of the unknown winter the only surety ahead of us. We find ourselves now at a time when endings are afoot in our cultures as well as the seasons, with uncertainties and challenges ahead. But in these quiet moments, when the summer sun seems to be far behind, when we see the hope and life force of the land drain away into the earth once more, it is She who takes our hand, without a word, and we know that we will not walk into the darkness of winter alone.

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After autumn equinox I consciously looked for crone models as 'sponsors' for my croning. When I had my confirmation at age 12 I had a sponsor's hand on my shoulder. Now I wanted that virtual, spiritual hand on my shoulder as I crossed this threshold place. I needed some Wise Women at my shoulder. So I went researching, meditating and seeking my sponsers in the weeks before my Samhain croning ceremony.

The Cailleach Beara is an obvious starting point and certainly fulfilled the sponsorship role for my fellow crone.  But I had this intuitive niggle that it wasn't quite right.  On some level I needed not just a mythic witch or goddess. And then I went to Yorkshire on a visit and visited Mother Shipton's Well in Knaresborough.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The 2nd of February is of course, the Celtic festival of Imbolc, which means 'in the belly' referring to the pregnant ewes giving birth at this time. One of its other names, Oimelc meaning 'ewes milk', also referring to the birth of the lambs, and the return of milk to the household. Sacred to the goddess Brighid, who became St Brigit with the coming of Christianity this time is known as   Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau in Wales, and more generally the Christian festival of Candlemass.  

Brighid may well have given her name to Britannia the sovereign goddess of Britain, but she is best known as a goddess of the hearth and home, as well as milking, midwifery, healing, smithcraft and poetry. Brighid is a fiery goddess, connected to the rising Kundalini in the earth at this time, bringing the spring. She is said in Scottish folklore to have to defeat the Cailleach or goddess of winter each year to bring life back to the land. 

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