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




This short film is just beautiful and raw and exquisite.


HOWL from Jaime Jhilmil Gianopoulos on Vimeo.



Sabat Magazine:






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:






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:





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!








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.







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



I’m currently on a two-week holiday around the USA with my husband and our first trip was to Salem, also known as the Witch City. I first heard about Salem when I was a teenager studying The Crucible in English class. I went on to be cast as an elderly lady accused of witchcraft in our school production of the Arthur Miller play (cue lots of talcum powder to make my hair grey).


Now my interest in Salem far surpasses just the witch trials, as the town is home to thousands of witches and the streets are lined with shops selling witchcraft paraphernalia and herbs. There is even a Harry Potter shop.


I had booked us a round trip on the fast ferry to Salem, but sadly the ferries were cancelled due to rough seas so we got there using Uber instead (nothing was going to stop me missing this trip!).


The first sign of witches in Salem was the statue of Samantha from the much-loved tv show Bewitched. A friendly resident Brit told us that the show actually had no connection with Salem and that the statue was simply gifted to the town. Later we were told by our tour guide that a few episodes of Bewitched were filmed on location here, and then, confusingly, one of the guides in the Salem Witch Museum told the group that all the episodes were filmed there. Strange, but only one of numerous inconsistencies I have in this strange but wonderful place.




1. The Salem Witch Walk


After getting some coffee and breakfast pastries for the road, we headed towards the oldest witchcraft shop in Salem, Crow Haven Corner, for our Salem tour, The Salem Witch Walk, the only guided tour run by actual witches, because, let’s face it, I trust their opinion on these matters more (case in point, the misrepresentation of modern-day witches in the Salem Witch Museum, where they told us that all witches are Wiccan – talk about generalising!). Our tour guide, Tom enthusiastically led us through an opening ritual so that those less in the know could see that witchcraft isn’t at all scary and certainly not evil. After that, we were led to the Witch Trials Memorial and the Old Burying Point Cemetery while Tom explained that magic is much more prevalent in modern day life than people would expect, as well as talking about the pagan origins of Easter and the days of the week. We also visited the healing altar in the Omen store on Essex Street, and the Altar of the Dead in Hex. I really enjoyed the tour, and although I’m pretty clued up in witchcraft and didn’t learn anything new there, I certainly learned some interesting facts about the witch trials. You also get a free crystal.









2. Life Alive Cafe


After our tour, my thoughts immediately turned to food. This is nothing new. I love food and my day pretty much revolves around thinking what my next meal will consist of. My husband is vegan and I’m a pescatarian so I often use the website Happycow to find where the best veggie restaurants are. We found Life Alive and it’s veggie paradise. It was very busy in there but we managed to find a table. I had the Love Alive smoothie; blueberries, strawberries, banana, dates, chia seeds and almond milk. It was so delicious, but the real treat was the Green Goddess salad bowl. Made with broccoli, avocado, kale, tofu and an amazingly yummy Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce, I need to try and recreate this at home! That is if I don’t just move into this gorgeous organic cafe and live off their nourishing raw food forever.



me smoothie



3. Hauswitch Home + Healing


After lunch, I made a beeline for the Hauswitch Home + Healing store. I had seen this light, beautiful space on Instagram and just knew that I would love it. While the other witchy shops in Salem are all dark and cramped, this place is spacious and has a chilled out boho vibe going on. I really had to struggle not to buy up everything in there, and in the end I only bought a new moon candle, a Witch City tote and a lovely book called The Herbal Homestead Journal, but I desperately want to go back and buy the ‘We’re the Weirdos Mister’ cushion and basically every gorgeous art print in their stock.






4. The Coven’s Cottage


I also visited The Coven’s Cottage, a cute little witchy shop with a great selection of dried herbs. This was particularly exciting for me as I am yet to find a decent herb stockist where I live, and often have to order the rarer stuff online (although I am cultivating a little herb garden). I was pleased to see that the basket of dried Heather was nearly sold out, but then that hardy little shrub which I’m named after is famous for bringing luck. From there I bought some dried witch hazel bark ( for clearing paths), pink roses (for love and healing, but also for aesthetic reasons), and some Calendula (for respect and admiration). I also got some really lovely parchment paper embedded with dried flowers and my annual purchase of the Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook.


On our way to the Salem Witch Museum (apparently the best museum in town), I popped into the Crow Haven Corner to have a browse, and although I didn’t end up buying anything, I was extremely touched to see a couple bring in a tiny mewing ginger kitten, which they had found abandoned nearby. Lorelei, the owner of the shop is also the founder of the charity Salem Saves Animals, a great cause not only helping local animals in need but also promoting the education and awareness of animal care in the community and of the dedication to changing the animal abuse laws in the States.


5. Salem Witch Museum


The Salem Witch Museum has timed presentations, the first taking the audience through the events of the 1696 witch trials, and the second giving a bit of background to the term witch, from the ancient medicine women and midwives through to the popular Hollywood depiction of witches and an overview of Wicca and the Wheel of the Year. I found the museum interesting, but as I mentioned earlier, their information on modern witchcraft was somewhat basic.





6. House of the Seven Gables


From there, my husband and I took a walk through Salem Common and down to The House of the Seven Gables. The house is named after the Nathaniel Hawthorne gothic novel of the same name and served as inspiration to Hawthorne, whose cousin once lived there. The tour took us through the rooms of the house. I particularly liked a hidden staircase leading up to a secret room, and the attic which was once the servants’ quarters. Unfortunately, the tour guide didn’t mention any ghost stories about the house, which was a pity as I got a definite creepy vibe upon entering, although this eased up the further I moved through the house. This place is great to visit if you’re interested in history and want to step inside a genuine Colonial house, and/or if you are interested in Hawthorne. There are also pretty gardens, a great view of the sea and a quaint little museum store which sells literary gifts and lovely notebooks.






7. Nightmare Gallery


From there we headed to Count Orlock’s Nightmare Gallery, a small museum housing life-size figures of cinema’s scariest monsters. I must be becoming more of a scaredy-cat as I get older, because at first I was worried this would be one of those attractions where actors dressed up in creepy gear jump out on you as you walk around in the dark (I still haven’t got over the terrifying clown ripped straight from my nightmares who stalked me through The London Bridge Experience). Thankfully this wasn’t the case, but the incredibly life-like detailed figures were very nightmare-inducing anyway. As a lifelong horror movie fan, it was great coming face to face with all manner of vampires, werewolves and the like.


Honourable Mentions:


If you’re a geek and/or comic book fan then head to Harrison’s Comics and Pop culture store. I’m not a comic book reader but as well as the comics they had a great selection of collectibles including old film magazines and vintage print film posters.





Ok so we didn’t actually eat at Howling Wolf Taqueria, but we intended to. I’m a big fan of Mexican food (I could probably live off guacamole) so this was definitely on my places to visit. Unfortunately, it’s so good that the place was crowded and the wait for food was 40 minutes. I was starving so I wasn’t prepared to wait, but it did smell amazing.


Today I’m exploring Boston, before catching a flight to Chicago. After a few days in the Windy city, I’ll be off to Anchorage, Seattle and finally Los Angeles. If you have any recommendations of places to visit, please post below! I’m particularly partial to foodie haunts, book stores, and metaphysical shops. Thanks!






In my ongoing quest of self-improvement  I decided to explore the various personality tests online. I was hoping to learn more about my personality traits so that I could tailor my routines and working day accordingly. One of the most famous personality tests is the Myers-Briggs; a comprehensive test which puts the reader into one of 16 categories. It turns out that I’m an INFJ which, as it happens, is the rarest type of personality. The deeper I delved into researching my personality type, the more it made sense to me. I’ve always felt kind of misunderstood, weird and unlike other people. My whole life I’ve been called shy or an introvert. Some people misinterpreted me as being aloof or thinking that something was wrong if I was quiet.


The more I read about INFJs, the more the term Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP kept coming up. Reading about HSPs made me rethink how I function as a human being. Here are some of the common aspects of being an HSP. For more in depth information, Elaine N. Aron’s website on the subject can be found here.


The Normal Mould doesn’t fit


I learned early on that working in an office, doing the typical 9 to 5 and working with other people didn’t work for me. In fact, it made me really depressed. HSPs are often very creative and/or intellectual and therefore may feel unfulfilled working in a conventional job.


You Need Time to Recharge


One of the main issues I had with working with other people was that by the end of the day I would be completely and utterly drained. I always thought a large part of this was because I couldn’t be myself with other people, and was putting on some kind of act. I wasn’t at ease and so I was using up all my energy being a false version of myself. What I’ve realised though is that hanging out with any people, even my friends and family has an affect on me. I would certainly hate for my loved ones to think that when I’m with them I can’t wait to escape, or that I would describe spending time with them as draining because that isn’t the case. No, simply I just need time to myself on a regular basis. Time alone for me gives me a chance to recharge.



Change is Bad


I’m a creature of habit. I like routine and I am very stuck in my ways. I find upheaval very unsettling, and I find it takes me longer to adjust to change than perhaps other people do. I would love to be the type of person who lands on their feet every time and knows exactly what to do and when, instead I often find that I am a fish out of water, flip-flopping and hyperventilating. When I travel, I like to unpack as soon as I arrive, and also to establish some kind of loose routine to keep me grounded. It’s also important for the people around you to know that it might take you longer than them to adjust to change and to be patient with you.


Overwhelm is Also Bad


Overwhelm is not my friend, yet she hangs around me a lot. It’s my fault because I invite her along for the ride. Another problem I have is that I’m a scatterbrain. Overwhelm and Scatterbrain are like the creepy twins from The Shining. This displeases me greatly on a daily basis because I would love to be hyper-organised. I don’t really suffer from creative droughts, rather, I get a million ideas every day, and it’s a mad race to scribble each idea down before it floats off into the ether. I have a notebook for every goal, course or project, but then I end up cramming loads of unrelated stuff into the pages. I usually have no fewer than ten tabs open on my computer at any given time, my to-read list is higher than Everest and I love making lists so much that I often make many versions of the same list. All of these lists and ideas are great but my brain constantly suffers from information overload and then threatens to shut down. I get headaches, I get tired and I get really pissed off. The only method I’ve found that counteracts these issues is to break down each task into a manageable daily step, to time block for each task, and to use bullet journals and habit trackers to mark off when I’ve completed a task. Also, limiting your daily to-do list to 3 top priority items is a lot less overwhelming.


Sensitive to Conflict


I will do anything to avoid an argument. I hate conflict. If I was a turtle I’d quickly retreat into my shell and not emerge until the coast is clear. The only exception to this is if I’m driving and feeling safe in my little car, I freely spout a whole array of colourful language at the shitty drivers around me.


Analysis Paralysis


Playing back events over in your mind. Worrying that a message you sent to a friend had the wrong tone or that you’ve somehow offended them. I do these things all the time.


How to help:


  • Be Present. We spend most of our time worrying about what will happen in the future or obsessing over something that has already happened. This is wasted time. Take a step back, take a deep breath and just focus on the here and now.


  • Don’t Isolate Yourself. Yes, HSPs crave solitude and require it to function properly, but we can slip perilously close to being a full-on hermit. This isn’t healthy. Find friends or family members that you can open up to. I know introverts hate phone calls usually, but meeting in person for a cup of coffee, or even just emailing someone can really help. Don’t bottle up your emotions, tell someone how you feel. Also, speaking to someone else can help you to see that you’re not alone in your feelings.


  • Look after yourself. Some people can get by perfectly well on five hours of sleep a night. HSPs can’t. Work out what time you realistically need to be up in the morning and count back eight hours. Set that as your bedtime. Get ready an hour before; have a bath, put your comfy pjs on, have a chamomile tea, light candles or use low light lamps. Basically, do anything that relaxes you and doesn’t stimulate the brain. Similarly, don’t throw yourself kicking and screaming into the day. Ease yourself in. Have a gentle alarm clock. I use the chimes one on my iPhone. I also stretch and meditate and give myself ample time to get ready in a relaxed manner. Eat healthily, exercise (preferably something that you enjoy rather than have to endure), drink plenty of water and learn to recognise when your body needs rest.


  • Find your time. Track the times in the day when you are at your most productive, and if you can, work around that. Women are cyclical and their moods and ability to be productive can wax and wane throughout the month. Lisa Lister advocates charting your cycle in her books and I highly recommend it.


  • Slow down. I hate busy schedules. If you have deadlines, whether self-imposed or not, give yourself plenty of time to complete them. Be realistic and plan ahead so that if you have a sick day or there is something unexpected that might throw a spanner in the works, you’ll still be ok. Give yourself plenty of time and don’t try and cram too much into one day.


  • Seek out beauty. HSPs are deeply moved by the arts and by music, and they often notice the simple beauties found in everyday life that many others ignore or take for granted. Find places you love and that you enjoy spending time in. It could be quirky bookshop where you can sit in a chair and quietly flick through books, a park that has a beautiful rose garden and a perfect patch for a picnic blanket or an art gallery that houses your favourite painting.


  • Have a ‘zone-out kit’. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or drained, know how to make yourself feel better. Is there an essential oil that soothes you? Perhaps you can carry it in your bag. Are there certain songs that make you feel happy or chilled out? Compile a playlist. Perhaps you could make a scrapbook of magazine cuttings that bring a smile to your face, or a notepad you could fill with your favourite inspiring quotes, poems, and ideas.





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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