The things we find

7 Jun

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This is a picture of my grandparents (on the right) – a bit blurry, suffering from age and neglect. I found it while I was emptying out boxes from our last move (in 2013, mind you). I don’t know where the picture was taken, but I was glad to learn that I have something to put on to remember them by. They were married for more than sixty years, apparently happily most of the time, and they have been gone from this plane for many years. I think I was still in school when my grandmother died, and maybe had just started university when my grandfather followed her.

My grandmother, in my opinion, went out the best way a human can go. She was more than ninety years old, having coffee with several of their children on a Sunday afternoon, went into the kitchen and had a stroke. She passed swiftly, without much fuss, having been in rather good health right up until that moment.

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Another thing I found in that very same box. A tiger’s eye bracelet I must have bought way back before I became all environmental and started my crystal crusade. Honestly, I don’t remember when or why I got it. But I find it strange that it was in the same box as the family pictures.

Tiger’s eye always reminds me of my grandmother. I remember wearing a narrow tiger’s eye pendant on a gold chain most of the time. And the stone suits her well. It brings out strength, resilience and determination, helps balance your finances and gives you that push of luck you need every now and again. Just the things you need to feed your children and hold everything together while your husband is a POW in Germany. My grandmother loved to travel and spend time with her family, and she was one hell of a stubborn woman. I guess I still miss her.

(This is the Dutch side of my family tree, by the way. From what I was told, my grandfather was livid when his youngest daughter married a German, and he refused to meet my father in the beginning. After a few drinks, however, and over a game of cards, they must have become friends, for I remember them being very fond of each other.)

(And if you want to know what makes me think of my grandfather – honey. They had a fancy honey pot made from plastic that was filled with stones, and we children were allowed to play with these stones so we would not get on their nerves. Also he liked to drink a lovely honey-flavored schnapps.)

And now I am wearing the bracelet, thinking of my grandmother and hoping I may turn out as great at life as she was.

Do you have any weird family memories, heirlooms or stories you would like to share?

Ours for the taking?

1 Jun

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Witches are a really nature-loving folks. I’m the first to admit it. We use lots of natural ingredients in our spells and rituals, and outdoor rituals are strongly encouraged. At times, however, I wonder whether much of this practice may be “a bit” self-centered.

Some time ago I talked to a fellow witch who insisted on picking up every single feather she found outside, for those were signs for her. Personally. My suggestion that sometimes birds just lose feathers, and that other beings in this world might have better use for random feathers was met with utter surprise. It seemed impossible, in her mind, that the whole universe had not set about evolution, crafted birds from dinosaurs and sent them to shed their feathers in that special place at that time exactly just so she would gain insight into her thirty-whatnotsth spirit guide.

Similar attitudes are kind of regular occurences in the witching community – go and get branches, herbs, flowers, rocks, crystals, snail houses, seeds, basically WHATEVER you fancy, for witches are nature-loving, and as such we have a right to everything we find in nature.

Yeah, or maybe not.

I’ve ranted about the use of crystals and the conditions under which they are extracted repeatedly, so I’ll spare you that. But imagine if everyone started picking flowers in your garden, or on your balcony, how quickly that would turn into a sad wasteland. Or imagine people taking tiny stones from your house, everyone taking just one – eventually your house would collapse.

Now I am not saying that we should never ever take anything from the natural world. As humans we have to compete for ressources with other humans as well as with creatures from other species (or other planes of existance, while we’re at it). This goes for single plants as well as for food, air or water. And while I am not suggesting that we should stop existing so someone else can have our share, I do recommend, strongly, that we should only take what we need, and at the same time think about the ways in which we can give back. A few things I can think of are:

  • Plant wild flowers everywhere. Not just your place. Everywhere you might encounter bees is a great place to drop a few seeds and just walk away. (Of course NOT on other people’s property. But if you live near the forest or have a few meadows nearby, or a park, you might do some guerilla-gardening in favor of bees.)
  • Dry and grind egg shells and bury them in the ground. The minerals help fertilize the soil – and some animals use them as mineral sources as well. (Again, not on other people’s property.)
  • When you head out, collect the things other people drop – empty bottles, plastic wrappers etc. Make it a habit to take a bag with you and see how far you have to go before it is full.
  • Make realistic meal and snack plans before you go out shopping. This is something I often struggle with myself, and I end up buying too much and then throwing out all kinds of food because they have spoiled. What a waste of money, energy and natural ressources!

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?

Just racing around

16 May

… trying to get everything organized and have my coffee while I do it. Nothing much has happened around here, and the things that have been happening are kind of exciting. Most of all, I GOT A BOOK CONTRACT!!! This is not so interesting for you, as it is a contract for a German book with a German publisher, but I am sky-high with endorphines and confusion, and I thought I would let you know. The story contains tentacles and jokes and super heroes and a cat, and maybe we will even find a way to have it translated in the future. Speaking of translations, “School of Fire” had to take a backseat while I was editing the tentacle novel, but I am trying not to forget, and I promise I won’t let you wait as long for the next book in the series.

Caffeinated witch greetings to all of you!

Ever felt like being hit by a truck?

10 Apr

Hopefully you have to imagine what that must feel like … being hit by 40 tons of solid material racing at you, the impact, the speed as you fly through the air …

Unfortunately, a dear friend of mine has acquired first-hand experience. Last week she she and her motorbike were run over by a semi truck when merging onto the highway. I do not know whether she was too close or simply in that blind area a truck driver cannot see (my father once overlooked a whole car in this area – another accident, another story), I do not know how fast she or the truck were going.

All I know is that she is passionate and witchy and a great Oriental dancer, a feminist and warrior woman, that she studies German and has made plans to travel to Germany eventually … and now she is in hospital with numerous fractures and increased intracranial pressure from a cerebral hemorrhage and at some point it was not certain whether she would keep her legs. Her family and friends are posting updates on her condition every day.

As you can imagine, hospital treatment is expensive. And that is why I am writing this to you, while I should be writing my stories or studying or generally doing something with my life – because this is her Gofundme page, and if you have even as little as a buck to spare, I kindly ask that you consider donating to help her family cover her medical bills.

*** UPDATE: Danika passed away in the late evening of 11 April, 2017. My thoughts are with her family. Please light a candle for her.

 

And to end everything on a lighter note, here is a picture of our cat Ronja. Today was supposed to be laundry day, but …

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Review: “Goddess rising” by Lyn Thurman

5 Apr

(Disclaimer: I was given a digital review copy. I still wouldn’t say anything if I did not live the book.)

This is the perfect companion for your goddess journey, and I can barely wait to get my own paper copy. Lovingly written, “Goddess rising” takes you on a journey to discover 52 different goddesses/archetypes, learn more about their stories and find out how to integrate them into your life. Lyn Thurman is an expert in all things goddess and spiritual and will carefully help you experience the feminine divine on your own, maybe even finding yourself along the way. There are journal prompts, affirmations and goddess magic activities for each of them, and it is completely up to you how much (or how little, if you are busy like so many) time you can dedicate to this discovery. Read the book from front to back – or the other way around – look for a certain goddess you wish to meet or open a random page and start where fate dropped you off. Either way, I promise you will not be disappointed. Get your copy at Amazon.com, -.co.uk or just ask your local bookstore for a copy the oldfashioned way. I am not judging! ^^

Visiting the dead – an experience

29 Mar

Soem time ago a friend asked about ways to contact a dead relative, and last week we finally had the chance to try. I was a tiny bit nervous because I have never done any kind of ritual with a person not involved in witchcraft – scratch that, I have only worked with two other people, whom I have known for ages – and actively talking to the deceased is not exactly a thing I do regularly. Still I wanted to give it a try. Seeing (or rather, sensing) energies is a family talent, and in one of the houses my parents lived in before separating, when I was still a university student, I had a friendly relationship with the deceased previous owner of the house, who was living at the top of the stairs*.

Anyway, after asking for advice from a few like-minded people I decided to help said friend create a garden “in-between”, where she could go and meet her relative not only once, but regularly, if she wants to do so, and provide her with a walk-through for this journey.

First of all, I asked her to wear some kind of jewellery owned by her relative, and to prepare a meal this person would have cooked (or liked, and possibly both). We then started out by eating and talking about her family in general and this relative in particular while I decked out a simple altar (basic kit, candles, a few pictures of the person in question). While she was telling me about the individual she hoped to meet, we improvised candleholders from play-dough. The talking took a while, and I think I got a good feeling for the person we were about to meet.

When we were ready, I asked my friend to close her eyes and relax, yoga-style. I then guided her down long, winding stairs, through a door and into a garden. I wanted it to be a place with some kind of wall or fence, to keep random beings from wandering in our out, and I had her look around for a while before guiding her to a place where her relative would be waiting. I found it a bit difficult to estimate the time needed for the encounter, but after a while I guided her back to the stairs and up into everyday reality.

We wrapped everything up by consulting the tarot cards on a few things that had remained unclear to my friend, and I encouraged her to keep the candles and images in a corner of her room as an ancestral shrine, where she might want to lay down food or flower offerings for her relative. She said she would need some time to ponder her experience, but she was seemed content with the food for thought provided.

All things considered, I think it went pretty well. Tehre were a few moments where I would do something different when repeating the ritual, but I found my friend’s voyage to be calm and safe, and she returned with that mild dizziness that often sets in after astral travel. It was weird for me to concentrate outward during the ritual instead of inward, but there was a steady connection and I think this is something I may want to try again.

Have you ever tried to contact the dead, either for yourself or for someone else?

 

* I have the theory that the energy of beings disintegrates when they die. Some goes on to be reborn, some is sucked into creation to connect with all that is, and part of the essence may be left behind as a spirit or ghost, to complete lessons and watch over their family and loved ones. But that’s just that, a theory. Maybe you have a better one?

Happy first day of spring, everybody!

20 Mar

This morning I unwrapped the balcony plants. The tiny apple tree has started growing leaves already, and to my neverending surprise neither the lavender plant nor the verveine have died. The avocado tree hasn’t made it, unfortunately. I do have kind of a brown thumb, to be honest.

Spring manifests in other ways as well – I feel a strong urge to purge our apartment, get rid of all kinds of stuff and downsize resp. redecorate. For some time I have been trying to get rid of one unnecessary item per day, such as old clothes, kitchen utensils we never use or decoration. I am a knick-knack horder, and all our shelves are filled with tiny puppets, poppets and gadgets. Some things are given away to people who will appreciate them, others are donated to good causes, and the rest is thrown out. (Germans are masters of recycling, so don’t worry … we have containers for papers, bottles and old clothing on almost every street corner, and every household separates their trash anyway, it’s mandatory – the only thing I miss is a trash can for biodegradable waste, which is optional and which our landlady won’t order because of the costs (and because many people think that these trash cans are especially disgusting … ah well).) Also I have started some major cleaning endeavors, such as foam-cleaning our matresses and shephearding all kinds of blankets and pillows through the washing machine. It’s kind of scary, and I hope this urge goes back to sleep soon.

And I feel the need to eat tons of green stuff – salads, tiny carrots and tomatoes, all kinds of fruit. You name it, I’ll eat it. In winter I prefer soups and stews and potato-laden dishes that are warming and filling, but now I would rather increase my intake of raw plants. Of course this means I have to get to the grocery store more than once per week, for many things don’t keep that long in an average kitchen. Took a BLT salad with some extra chicken (for yummy protein) to the office for lunch today.

Last Friday we did our first official run of the year as well – a 7.5 kilometer run around a lake in Cologne, with the paths lit by torches and a tiny celebration afterwards. We did not stay long, instead drove home and fell asleep on a heap of blankest spread out across the living room floor. That’s my favorite way to spend the weekend.

What else is new? Oh, I have started translating “School of Fire” for you, the fifth of Helena’s magical adventures behind the mountains. The series is intended to end after the ninth book, and by now I even do know where everything is headed. I am currently writing book six in German and hope to get the English and the German version out at the same time. Translating means an extra editing round, after all.

Makes any sense? No? Ah well, stuff happens. Gotta get back to bread-winning, and later curl up on the sofa (freshly cleaned) with some zucchini in tomato and feta cream, served with smoked trout. This witch knows how to spring-party. ^^