Blog posts with the tag: "magic"

 

 

 

 

Phew, it’s been a busy month or two what with spending two weeks in the US on a family holiday and before that, going to a wonderful retreat in Morocco. I actually had a week at home with no plans last week and I spent most of it in bed with a chest infection. I definitely needed to rest and recuperate.

 

On the US trip, the days were so crammed with sightseeing and theme parks that I fell out of my usual self-care routine; neglecting my daily card reading and crystal work, and I didn’t even make time for a little daily reading, nor my rose baths. The busyness was great, in many ways, and it felt good to have a technology detox, but I absolutely learned that I need downtime to recharge otherwise my immune system takes a real battering. Although all the junk food I filled my face with was no doubt a contributing factor. Take note: theme parks are sugar factories!

 

 

 

 

When I rewind back to my time in Marrakech however, I instantly feel calm, and my days there were perfectly structured to accommodate self-care. Although the souks and the medina were certainly at times overwhelming, and an assault on the senses, daily life at the riad was just so relaxing. The Radical Self-Love Temple: Marrakech was a spiritual retreat run by my favourite magical babes Gala Darling and Veronica Varlow. Everything they do is gold, and when I heard back in November that they were holding this retreat together I didn’t waste any time in signing up. Of course, the exotic location was a huge cherry on top.

 

 

 

 

I flew from Gatwick airport with two British lovelies into Marrakech Menara airport. From there we were taken to the main square in the city where we were led on foot to the riad through the narrow labyrinthine souks. In contrast to the bustling streets, the riad was wonderfully peaceful with its central water feature in the fragrant courtyard, drifting rose petals, cool colourful tiles, and rooftop chill area with a hot tub. It was truly a delight every day to see every goddess on the retreat enter the courtyard, resplendent in jewel-tones and adornments (and glitter, called, I kid you not, Unicorn Snot – perfection!). Any initial awkwardness at spending time with a group of strangers (although I did know a couple of ladies already) soon melted away and we soon formed a tight girl gang, always looking out for each other.

 

 

 

Every morning after gathering for a breakfast of pastries, fruit and delectable strong coffee (with accompanying birdsong), we’d sit basking in the light and listen to one of Jessica Snow’s dreamy meditations. I’m not a natural meditation-er – I can’t just sit and close my eyes and clear my mind – I tend to drift off to sleep or have a nagging need to mentally go over my to-do list, but with guided meditation I really reap the benefits, and I loved Jessica’s so much that I’ve subscribed to her website.

 

 

 

 

After meditation, we then delved into Gala’s Radical Self-Love class. Gala’s approach to self-development and healing really is my favourite, and I highly recommend visiting her website and reading her book, Radical Self-Love, published by Hay House. Gala has a way of digging deep and exposing you to realisations about yourself, but most importantly she provides you with ways to move forward in your life, feel confident and truly love yourself.

 

 

 

 

Our afternoons were free to explore our surroundings, which often meant following our noses around the souks to stock up on rose oil or incense, drink sweet mint tea, try on pashminas and kaftans in a rainbow array of colours, or haggle for rugs and other home items. It’s amazing how pricey Moroccan style interiors are in US and UK stores, and how cheap they are in comparison in Morocco. No wonder Gala advised us to bring plenty of space in our luggage for our purchases. There were also fabulous rooftop restaurants where we had lunch, and on the last day, I was surprised to see the Atlas Mountains rising like some kind of mirage above the city.

 

We were also treated to a Feng Shui 101 class with Amanda Gibby Peters, where we learned the fundamentals of the feng shui elements, and how to apply them to our homes and work spaces. Check out Amanda’s website here. I loved delving more into this subject as it’s definitely something I’m interested in but always felt a little confused by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our evenings were spent together under the guidance of the Love Witch, Veronica Varlow, and if you have read my blog before then you know I am a frequent visitor to Veronica’s fabulous witchy retreats in the enchanting Catskills in Upstate New York. Veronica led us in rituals designed to unleash our sensuality and goddess magic. For more info on her magical classes and retreats visit her website here. These candlelit rituals always inspired me, making me feel like a true high priestess and left me ready to drift off to sleep on a bed of rose petals.

 

 

 

 

On two afternoons we had wonderful excursions, first to the Jardin de Majorelle which is a magnificent botanical garden owned by the late Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé since 1980. The gardens are stunning and provide the perfect selfie backdrops with fountains and vivid hues of bright cobalt blue and yellow. We had all fun posing for photos there. Our other outing was to the Hammam de la Rose, a traditional Moroccan spa in the heart of Marrakech. I’ve been to spas before and even Turkish baths, but this was a whole new experience. After being scrubbed, washed, oiled and massaged, I felt like a new me, as well as deeply relaxed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our final evening, we went for a delicious dinner at a courtyard restaurant, laughing and talking under the stars. I left this beautiful city with significantly heavier suitcases (I bought a long lusted after traditional wedding blanket and silver pouffe) but with a newer outlook on life. This trip has inspired me to wear more colour and adornments, to meditate regularly and through Gala and Veronica’s classes, provided me with the tools to practice self-love, self-development, awareness, magic and sensuality. I had never really considered visiting Morocco, or indeed North Africa before, but I am so glad that I did, and through such a wonderful trip curated by lovely Gala and Veronica, and with such fantastic ladies who are now magical sisters for life. It has also encouraged in me a sense of gratitude, especially for simple pleasures, and to making every day feel decadent with colours, smells, and dancing.

 

 

 

 

Weirdly, just over a week later, I was wandering around a fake Marrakech at Disney’s Epcot in Orlando, Florida. It was certainly surreal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Wow, a lot has happened since I last posted here. The big change is that I moved house. Our new place is a beautiful house in the countryside and there’s a summer house in the garden which can only mean one thing…writer’s den! I really dislike moving house, though, on a serious note. I’m a real homebody, and I like everything to have a place, so uprooting everything and getting new furniture has been a slow process and a stressful one at that.

 

In the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to attend two retreats and get to hang out with some of my favourite magical ladies. One on the beautiful island of Malta, and one in bewitching Woodstock in Upstate New York. This was my third visit to Woodstock and that place is seriously starting to feel like a home away from home for me. There is something really special about spending time with like-minded women. It’s not something I do on a regular basis, as I live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t know any woo-inclined people locally. But when it happens it feels so right. It’s what I had always dreamed about as a teenager who loved The Craft, Buffy and Charmed. A whole coven! Meeting new people can be daunting, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable nor made to feel unwelcome at these gatherings. Quite the opposite!

 

I went to Malta for the full moon in May. The retreat was run by the fabulous Lisa Lister. If you haven’t read her book Code Red, then do it now! All women should read this book and learn that their period doesn’t need to be that ‘dreaded time of the month’. You can read more about Lisa’s work here. Lisa also has a brand new book out called Love Your Lady Landscape. I’ve just started reading it and I’ll be posting my thoughts on it soon. In Malta, we did SHE Flow yoga in front of an incredible coastline, stayed in a dreamy villa where we had a full moon circle, a cacao ceremony and had a secret ceremony in a 5,000-year-old temple.

 

 

 

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At the end of June, I flew over to New York and caught the bus to Woodstock to catch-up with my witchy sisters at Veronica Varlow’s Magic House. I always have the best time there chatting, making beautiful things, hiking in the mystical woods and eating delicious healthy food. I danced in the river, made a flower crown, amazing smelling incense and a mojo bag (I actually know how to sew now!) and just missed seeing two baby bears (we had to skedaddle sharpish to avoid meeting mama bear!). To read more about the magical Miss Veronica Varlow and her retreats, classes and courses, head over to her website Danger Dame here. Another of my favourite witches, Gala Darling, did a blog post about the retreat and posted a gorgeous highlight reel here.

 

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In between travels, I featured on my friend Wolf Sister’s blog series Wandering Kin where I spoke about the places I love to visit when I stay in Paris. You can read it here. I also attended her beautiful animal spirit and sound gong ceremony in London. Wolf Sister aka Tamara is gifted at doing such wonderful meditations! Check out her websites here for future events.

 

In Santorini, I sailed around a volcanic island, swam in hot springs, met the cats at the Gaia Winery and watched the famous sunset at Oia. I also fell in love with open-air cinemas, visiting both the one in Kamari (I absolutely adored the old Hollywood feel to the place and the jolly 40s/50s playlist) and getting all dressed up to go to the immersive Secret Cinema Presents: Dirty Dancing in East London. A park stood in for the Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills, but the rain stayed at bay and we were able to play mini golf, cook marshmallows and sneak into the forbidden Staff Quarters for some of our own dirty dancing.

 

 

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I’ve also been using the long summer days to plan, organise and brainstorm how I want the next part of the year to blossom. I get a strange restlessness in the summer as if those long warm days are just a dream, and I must wake up from them. Summer is dream time, a time to fill up notebooks with inspiration, stolen lines of poetry that make your heart beat that little bit faster, and doodles of saucy mermaids. I seriously miss studying and academia, so I would love to get back into that and specialise in some area of Gothic. I’m also still working on my second novel, although I’ve had a few setbacks, namely conflicting ideas vying for my time! Still, I’m determined to get back on track.

 

Then there’s this very blog you are reading. I really want to fall back in love with blogging and make this place truly my own special haven online, filling it with all of my interests and ideas. I hope you join me for the ride!

 

xxx

 

 

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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