Today is the Winter Solstice, traditionally a time of the death and rebirth of the Sun God. Today is the shortest, darkest day of the year, and the longest night. Despite the usual planning, prepping and stress associated with this time of year (as we often have to shop, travel, cook and gather with our families) today is a day to rest and reflect.

 

A perfect way to celebrate the Solstice is to confront the darkness and delve into some shadow work. Darkness is not to be feared. Light many candles to illuminate your space. Write down your fears, pain, secrets, and anything you are holding onto that you no longer need in your life. What limiting beliefs are holding you back? Dig deep. It’ll be hard, but it is more painful to carry past trauma, grudges, shame than to release them. Once you have written down everything you need to, fold up the piece of paper and light it in a cauldron or fire bowl. Be safe. Watch your fears and pain dissipate with the smoke.

 

We need to let that part of ourselves die before we can be reborn. Just as the days start to become lighter, so must we.

 

I happened to pull the two oracle cards today purely by chance, but they perfectly illustrate the importance of this festival. The Welsh Goddess Cerridwen is also known as The White Lady of Inspiration and Death. She tends to a cauldron which represents the cauldrons of inspiration, transformation and rebirth and therefore the eternal cycles of life, of continuous birth, death and regeneration. The Shadow card urges us to take off our masks, and to shine light on our darkest shadows so that we can move forward into the light.

 

Cards are from The Goddess Orcale by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and ilustrated by Hrano Janto, and the Awakened Soul Oracle Deck by Ethony Dawn and illustrated by Danielle Mulligan.

 

Veronica Lake

 

 

 

October was such a whirlwind! I can’t believe it’s November already. This time of year always makes me want to go into hibernation mode. I just want to snuggle, write fiction, read, drink copious amounts of tea and eat comfort food. So it’s the perfect time of year for me to hunker down and get on with writing my book. I know I’m not alone in this endeavour, as National Novel Writing Month kicks off today. I don’t have the greatest track record with NaNoWriMo because in the past I’ve always failed. I think where I went wrong was to get too hung up on wanting a perfect, fully-formed draft all at once, which is completely unrealistic. All first drafts are supposed to shitty, and that is the fantastic liberating thing about writing them. So I need to embrace that freedom and kick my bullying inner critic to the kerb for the next 30 days. Will you join me?

 

Yesterday I was featured in an article about modern day witches. It felt really good to come out of the broom closet on such an epic scale and say, yes, this is who I am! Not that I was exactly hiding my interests. I’ve been using the hashtag #witchesofinstagram for quite a while. I’ve had an absolutely lovely response from the article, and also some questions from people who are interested in the craft themselves and want to learn more. I’m thinking of doing an introductory series to let you guys know a little bit more about my practice. I’m currently brain dumping ideas, but I’ll keep you posted. I also want to write more about my writing process, as I know writing a book can be overwhelming. Even combining writing and magic! I do it all the time.

 

Being witchy doesn’t mean that technology can’t still fail you. I have to admit that I avoided this blog space for a while last month. It all started when I wrote a three-parter post about my wonderful trip around the US in September. A few people had asked about my trip and I was keen to share, but technology thought otherwise. For some reason, none of my photographs would upload. I kept getting the same ‘error’ message. It was really frustrating. Then a couple of other posts I wrote just completely disappeared, despite me saving them. So I threw a strop and avoided coming here like the plague. I took part in a fun #innerwitchoctober picture challenge on Instagram. I returned to my lovely witch sisters in Woodstock and learned archery, and I got a magical influx of inspiration, hence the intense need to write.

 

 

But I also felt the need to write without my author hat on. Sometimes throwing yourself into a story can be like struggling underwater and unable to come up for air. It can become an obsession. Sometimes you forget where you start and your protagonist ends. So it’s good to be back. It’s good to write about something real and honest. Until next time.

 

Heather x

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A round-up of everything I’m loving this week:

 

Howl:

 

This short film is just beautiful and raw and exquisite.

 

HOWL from Jaime Jhilmil Gianopoulos on Vimeo.

 

 

Sabat Magazine:

 

 

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I’m excited that the second issue of Sabat magazine is out. Sabat is a gorgeous magazine, described as fusing ‘Witchcraft and feminism, ancient archetypes and instant art’. The first issue was just so beautiful and I can’t wait to get my hands on this latest issue. Pick up your copy here

 

 

She Explores:

 

 

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The website and podcast, She Explores, is about the relationship between women, nature, and adventure. It’s a theme which has come up a lot lately in my life, and I’m so pleased to have come across this beautiful site. The site features gorgeous photography, artwork and essays by inspiring women. Also check out this essay Stop Telling Women Not to Go into the Backcountry Alone by Krista Langlois.

 

 

American Horror Story:

 

 

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American Horror Story season 6 is underway and I must say, I’m impressed so far. This season harks back to the mystery and the horror which worked so well in season one’s Murder House, but which was undermined in season 2 by the amount of weirdness crammed in, and the soap opera quality of Coven and Freak Show. I didn’t even bother with season 5: Hotel. I’m not sure the mockumentary style necessarily works – it’s more of a distraction – but so far I’m compelled.

 

I’m also loving this short comparison of season’s 1 and 6 from Nerdist. Warning: contains spoilers!

 

https://youtu.be/Oa91mY6Mf-I

 

 

Sisterhood:

 

 

Recently I was in beautiful Wales at The Wisdom Gathering, a magical retreat for women created by the lovely Jayne Goldheart of Sisters of the Wild. At the retreat, I learned to make Ojo de Dios through weaving, foraged in the fields and created my very own wonderful smelling smudge stick. I spent time with a fantastic group of women and really being part of that sisterhood community; learning, sharing, creating and singing. I loved it. As a writer, my days can be quite isolating, and I’m often a bit of a hermit. Spending time with a group of creative like-minded women is the perfect remedy.

 

Adventure:

 

 

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The Wisdom Gathering took place in a remote part of Wales, and the location was so perfect because just out of the site, there was a short walk to a largely secluded beach, with an alternate route including a woodland hike. Nearly every day, I would awake at just before sunrise and set off on my own with my camera and journal, enjoying the quiet time to myself, the rustle of the trees and the sound of the brook rushing by the path. At the beach, I would nestle into the rocks and just sit and think, listening to the crash of the sea on the shore and the sight of the clouds moving overhead. I wanted to go for a dip in the sea with all my being, but I kept putting it off, swayed by the intimidatingly large waves and the prospect of cold water. On the last day, I took off my shoes and socks and paddled a little. The sea foam bubbling over my skin wasn’t that cold, but it was refreshing. I saw a couple of seals, their heads bobbing above the waves. Whenever I see seals I always think of the Selkie tales I used to hear as a child living in Scotland.

 

I followed them, eager to get a closer look. One of the seals got quite bold and swam closer to me, eager to get a closer look at this strange being on the land. It got so close that I thought it would be washed up on the beach beside me, each wave sweeping it closer and closer to me. I took this as a sign, followed my fear and left my things on some dry rocks along with my clothes and threw myself in the water. Not at all gracefully I might add. I had to battle every huge wave which bore down on me, so in the end I didn’t exactly swim, but more reenacted what it was like to be in a washing machine on the spin cycle. I was so proud of myself for doing it though, and not letting the fear beat me! It was exhilarating.

 

 

Mary Oliver:

 

Sleeping in the Forest 
 
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.
 
from Sleeping In The Forest by Mary Oliver
© Mary Oliver
Hello!
Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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