Healing Pool

I walked along a rough path. On my right a small stream burbled along in a ditch with shrubs and trees beyond, on my left were fields. The day was pleasant, neither too hot or cold and just a gentle breeze. I relaxed to the sound of the stream and the song of birds going about their business.

As I walked I could see that the stream curved away into a pool. The path led me to the edge of an area with rough flat stones laid in the ground that curved part way round the side of the pool. There were a couple of rough wooden seats made from tree trunks beside the paved area, clearly placed so people could sit beside this pool and rest. The far side of the pool looked marshy and it looked like a range of wild plants grew in the marshy area. The land on the near side of the pool beyond the paved area curved into the edge of another field. Another stream ran out from the pool between the two areas of land making the pool a liminal place between wild and tamed land.

I sat on one of the benches, watched the dance of light across the water and listened to the insects and birds around me.

After a while I realised the light wasn’t reflected sunlight as the sun was behind a cloud. A quiet voice said “It’s healing energies.” I turned my head to see a woman sat on the other bench. She smiled and told me that healing energies gathered in this pool and that they could be added to and taken from but it was important not to disturb the balance. Healing energies added would gradually seep into the land at the edges of the pool and from the stream that flowed away from it. Adding energies to that flow was usually fine, taking it had to be done with care not to dry the pool out. I asked her if the pool had a name. “Many,” she said smiling, “but I know it as Eir’s Pool.” I thanked her and looked back at the pool for a moment. When I turned back to ask another question she was gone.

My painting of Eir’s Pool.

Reflections on a first Witchtober

Last month I took part in my first Witchtober, a variant of inktober. It’s not well past the end of the month and I wanted to finish the process off with a bit of reflection. My previous post on this subject explains how I got started and where the prompts I used came from.

Each day I managed to come up with some piece of art that reflected something of the prompts. Some days this was easier to do than others and as the month continued I grew more and more determined to complete the whole month. I didn’t have to complete it, there was no one I had made a deal with and nothing I would get for completing it but my own sense of accomplishment but still I grew increasingly determined as the month progressed.

Each day I had the opportunity to reflect on different images and ideas around witchcraft. I found that a very useful thing to do. I don’t consider myself to be a witch. I sometimes do things that fit under the heading of witchcraft but those things are not the main thrust of what I do. I am a polytheist druid and heathen and my practice revolves around two main strands; devotional activities for multiple deities and energy healing work (usually distance healing). So this month of activities around witches and witchcraft gave me a wonderful opportunity to reflect more deeply about what these things mean to me.

The other major benefit was in having a topic to try and produce art about each day. For most of my efforts during this month used coloured pencils or watercolour type paints but I also used modelling clay three times and wrote a poem for the Hedge Witch prompt. I didn’t have to try and come up with something I wanted to draw, paint or make, I just had to come up with a way of expressing the idea for that day. I really liked that. I’ve not done nearly as much art since I finished witchtober although part of that has been due to other things happening too. I’m looking into other prompt lists though as I enjoyed the process of having a prompt to think about and then express. I’d really love to have a similar set of prompts for druidry and heathenry as the process definitely helped me think more deeply. If any readers know of any such prompt lists or have ideas please do let me know!

Perhaps one aspect of inktober type projects that is most intended is that of developing your skills. The witchtober prompts pushed me to try things I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. I believe my art skills have developed as a result of that push. For example for one of the prompts, green witch, I drew hands with fingers in soil and used my own hands to try and get the right shape.

Picture of hands in soil done using water colours

For another prompt, crone witch, I attempted a self portrait. I never would have considered doing that otherwise.

Head and shoulders self portrait of me wearing a purple witch’s hat done in coloured pencils

Hands and faces are hard! But I did it and although I can see that there is a lot of scope for further improvement I’m also pleasantly surprised at how well I managed.

I also tried to come up with things that were a bit different like my spirit witch and bat.

Picture of a spirit distillation still with a witch’s hat in the foreground done in coloured pencils
Picture of a bat hanging upside down on a cricket bat done in pencils.

I’m really pleased and proud that I have completed my first witchtober. I’m grateful for the opportunities for thought, learning, and the sense of community I experienced because I was doing something that others were also doing. I’m also very grateful for all the supportive comments I received during this process.

Hopefully next year I will be able to join in with another witchtober!

Witchtober

Many of you will know about inktober where individuals are encouraged to draw something each day that fits a particular prompt. This year I’m joining in with a variant called Witchtober with prompts from @saffrussellart and @jacquilovesey. I’ve never done anything like this and I’ve had encouragement to give it a go from the ever wonderful Tom and Nimue Brown. 

I’ve been posting most of my efforts so far on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (mainly because my Instagram account is linked to my Facebook account). One effort, a poem has been posted on this blog.  For me this has become a multi media art project as my efforts have now included poetry, modelling clay, paint and pencil.

I’m finding the process of doing this to be fascinating. I look at the prompts well before I try and do anything and I think about how I can express the theme. As the day progresses I get to see what others have done too and if I haven’t come up with an idea that sometimes sparks something. 

The different prompts are making me think about different aspects of witchcraft and what it means to me. I like trying to come up with something a bit different if I can so it’s making me think deeply which is good. I’m also having fun creating a bit of art each day. I can see improvements in my skills too. 

I’m very grateful for what I’m learning in taking part in this Witchtober. 

Witchtober prompt 2: Hedge Witch

They reach for the twig
Tangled in their hair
As they straighten.

They mutter as they tuck it
Into the canvas bag
Hanging from their shoulder.

I don't think they know
That they have mud
Smeared on their face.

"Isn't it beautiful?"
They ask with wonder
Sparkling in their eyes.

I look at the hawthorn
With it's deep red haws
And rich dark leaves.

"Yes," I agree "but we should go."
They gaze longingly
At the tangled hedge.

"But perhaps not with your guest."
I say pointing at the spider
Resting on their sleeve.

They whisper "Thank you,
But you are needed here."
And gently move the spider.

We gaze in awe
At the jewelled webs
As we return to our hearth.

For my Friends

I wish I could tell you
I'll fix this
For I hate to see you in pain.

I wish I could tell you 
I'll sort it
And make it better again.

I don't have the power
To mend this
But please don't suffer alone.

I can't wave a wand
And dispel it
Nor weave my spells as a crone.

But I'll listen to all
You share with me
As you fight to change your life.

And I'll cheer you on
From my corner
As you overcome each strife.

To Odin

You are not a comfortable God,
And I have avoided you.
You are not an easy God,
But I have chosen to face you.

You gave an eye at Mimir's Well
To gain knowledge and wisdom.
I will have eye surgery
To gain my clearer vision.

Yesterday I gave you wine
And your blood brother also.
The first time I had done so
It will not be the last.

You are not a comfortable God;
I choose to face my discomfort.
You are not an easy God,
But I wish to learn.

One-eyed Wanderer, I listen now
Raven God, Rune Master, no longer will I turn away.

Sticking a label on it

For the last couple of years my path has gradually been changing. A lot of what I do in my personal practice is the same but there are newer elements. It all started when Loki came into my life. I now honour an increasing number of Heathen deities along with those from Celtic lands I have honoured for years.

Most Druids and Heathens honour ancestors and spirits of the land in some way. And in both communities if you ask a question you will get a multitude of answers – although Heathens will more often refer you to various written sources such as the Eddas and Sagas.

At the same time as these changes have been happening with my spiritual life I’ve also gradually become more confident about referring to myself as autistic in spite of being told that I didn’t fully meet “diagnostic criteria”. Yes, it still annoys me. Fortunately those that know me best, including my kids, as well as an assortment of adult autistic friends have recognised that I am autistic. I refer to it as being peer recognised.

I am still me. I am still Pauline, daughter of Siusaidh. I am also Potia Nighean a’Chailliche (the second part of that name I took in October 2019 as part of my promises to the Ancient One). I’m still a Hearth Druid and I’m proudly autistic. But now I’m adding a new label to my collection, I’ve fully accepted that I’m also Heathen.

Browns

Are they in the rich, fertile soil
Or the dry, dusty ground?

Do you see them in the deep gleam of her eyes
Or the subtle glow of his skin?

Are they rough like tree bark
Or smooth as chocolate?

Do they squelch like mud
Or whisper like grains of sand?

Are they soft as cats fur
Or hard as horses hooves?

Or perhaps they come with tentacles…

For Tom and Nimue.

Dreams that feel significant

I woke this morning from an unusual dream which feels significant. In this dream I was at some sort of gathering somewhere rural with nice front garden and driveway. It was at the end of this gathering and Neil and I were walking down the drive on the way out. Andy and Helen Guthrie drew level with us, we hadn’t known they were there. Andy have me a hug, as he usually would, then he looked at me and said: “The salmon aren’t spawning properly.” We said something like we hadn’t known that and Neil left to check on this. Andy went on to say there were 14 areas where the salmon weren’t spawning properly. Then I woke up. 

This felt like a significant dream. I’ve never dreamt of Andy before, or Helen come to that. And what he said initially was so clear. Does it mean there are serious problems with our rivers? Possibly, the gods know we put enough shite into the world to cause all sorts of problems. But I don’t think it’s that simple. Andy, as those who knew him will know, was a teller of Celtic stories and myths, he knew these myths in his blood and bones. To those who know Celtic symbols the Salmon is a symbol of wisdom and inspiration and there are a few tales of those who sought the Salmon of wisdom only for another to receive its gift. Could this dream have something to do with the sharing or seeking of knowledge, wisdom or inspiration?

What are you seeking? What are you sharing? Have you gradually drawn in as I have or have you been reaching out? What does it mean to you that the Salmon aren’t spawning properly? And what of the 14 areas Andy spoke of, what are they?

Sometimes dreams feel bigger than just for you. Sometimes you need to share them.

Imbolc Memories

Images of Imbolcs past flood my mind.

Woken early, a gift of chocolates.

A simple ceremony in a local park.

Guesting with a coven, the smell of my hair burning!

Chanting to honour Brigid

Our Lucy pours out the offering of milk

Flames of hope shared in the cold

Warm drinks after shared in the warmth.

Long conversations of the Brighids in the past.

Memories…