The Importance of Boundaries

Boundaries are just as important in our spiritual and magical practices as they are in our everyday lives. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

That isn’t to say that boundaries are fixed between people or even in time. They aren’t and each individual is free to decide what they are willing and what they are not willing to take and this may change as they see fit. But boundaries are good.

I was recently invited to be a panelist for a university class, the title of which was ‘What is the Witch?’ Of course I said yes, I mean I wasn’t about to turn down an opportunity to talk about witchcraft. I’m not lying when I say I could talk the back legs off a donkey when it comes to this particular topic. But seriously though, I had a great time. The students’ questions were intelligent and informed and the other panelists provided thought provoking answers, some of which had had me mulling them over since then.

As with many discussions about witchcraft, the topic of ancestor worship and veneration came up with one person asking the question about having shitty ancestors. Should you still work with them then?

One of the panelists, someone who is a healer in their spiritual and mundane work really got me thinking. She said she sees it as our responsibility to heal them. After all, they are shitty for a reason. What happened to them to make them so? And she is right in that usually, how we are treated can affect how we then treat others. But is it our responsibility to heal them, I say hell no!

Our ancestors are the reason we are here, living the lives we have and for that perhaps we do owe them at least a nod, but it is not our responsibility to heal them. At all. If one wishes to undertake that work then great, but it isn’t easy. It is hard and draining and you best believe you need to be in the right place to undertake such work. But it is here boundaries come into play. If doing that work means it is going to leave you in a worse place than you find yourself now, if it is going to damage you or those around you, the people you care about, then fuck that shit. 

Look at it from a mundane point of view and it is here I will just include a trigger warning for the topics broached. 

Imagine someone is in an abusive relationship. Is it their responsibility to heal their abuser. Absolutely not. I know people who have stayed in such relationships because, at first, they feel bad for the abuser, have some insight into why they might have turned out this way and they love them, perhaps feel they can save them from themselves. But even past this point, many stay because their self esteem is rock bottom. 

Addiction is another area which highlights the need for boundaries. Addiction is an illness, but it is one that changes the people we love. It is painful to see what they go through. There’s the constant worry about their wellbeing and the anger that comes with the lies and the stealing. Addiction affects not only those suffering with it but the people around them and can change the dynamics of that relationship so very much. And while help should be there for addicts, it absolutely should, we cannot be their saviours. They must choose to make that decision for themselves. They must be ready to accept that help otherwise it just isn’t going to work. So as much as we might want to help them, until they are ready, we cannot.

The same logic can be applied to magical work including ancestor veneration. To not work with an ancestor doesn’t mean we don’t care for them and nor does it mean we are not grateful to them, but if they have issues we are not able to help them with, then boundaries are necessary. 

Ultimately, in our mundane and magical lives, boundaries are a must. They are what keep us safe. They are healthy. So if you have a shitty ancestor and you don’t want to work with them, then that is absolutely fine, and when they are really shitty, it is easier to put up those boundaries than if they are difficult because of circumstance. But still, you should no way jeopardize your mental and physical health and well-being because of some sense of responsibility. 

Like I said at the beginning, our boundaries can change and adjust. They are not fixed but they are essential for both our magical and mundane lives.

News & Updates

This year has been strange, and that’s putting it mildly. As terrible and dark as some of the times have been I think they have also served to remind us what is important. For me, more than ever, that has been my practice, animism and the people around me.

All of this has urged me on and given me the courage to do something that I had been thinking about for a long while and that is reach out to the wider community. I do this anyway, well kind of, what with my writing but I also wanted to offer folks something more practical and this is where the workshops, courses and journeying / meditation work come in. So here I will share with you some of the upcoming events and tell you a little more about each.

December Journey Work (19th December)

I know many folks who will sneer at the idea of journey work and I can’t help but feel so sorry for them! Journey work and meditation are vital not only for your own spiritual and magical practices but also for good mental health.

In the December group, we will reconnect with the spirit of the time and remember the real reason for the season. Through journeying we can connect and realign with the spirit of the land which in turn can impact our ‘real life’ connections to the land and the spirits that reside there.

Herbal Healing Workshop (13th February 2021)

During this workshop you will learn how to make and apply herbal remedies for many common ailments and illnesses.

While this is no replacement for medicating serious illnesses, so many of us have begun to realise that for many common complaints, natural remedies can work just as well as over the counter medicines and cost much less too.

Not only will you learn about natural medicines and how to use them but you will also understand and appreciate the relationship that is formed through working with plants and how this can help the healing process as well.

You can find the booking information here.

This year, as we approach the festive season, instead of buying people polluting gifts they don’t really want, why not consider giving the gift of experiences.

Woodland Wanderings

”There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.” ~Washington Irving

Autumn is my favourite season and this week the weather, after an unseasonably warm start, has resumed normal service, that is, wet and windy. I enjoy going out into nature all year round, but the woods in autumn is a magical place indeed. Autumn, along with spring, are transitional seasons, are liminal and at these times the spirit of the woods can be most potently felt.

Autumn is also mushroom season and for those willing to look a little deeper, there are many woodland mushrooms that can be found. As always, foraging is about taking only what you need and repaying the genius loci with an offering of some sort. The more you familiarise yourself with a place, the deeper your connection with the genius loci will be and the more you will begin to understand what offerings to leave. Sometimes it might be as simple as offering your time and service picking up any rubbish. Other times it might be a pouring of water or the leaving of nuts and seeds.

Today I took a couple of fly agaric, those beautifully enticing but toxic toadstools of fairy tales. I’ll use these to make an ointment, which when applied to the skin can help induce trance and soul flight. I also found some delicious penny bun mushrooms that are now currently drying out in my airing cupboard. These I’ll add to casseroles, soups and stews.

Sometimes though, quite often in fact, I escape into the woods for the sheer pleasure of being beneath the boughs and autumn is such a good time to do this. The leaves are just beginning to turn orange and red and the autumn sun glinting through the them is beautifully hypnotic. It is worth just going and sitting quietly simply for the sake of being in the woods. So this autumn, why not make an effort to get out where you live, even if it’s only stepping outside your front door and rediscover the beauty and spirit of the darker months.

Course Announcement: Becoming Wild – The Tools of Resistance

I’m so pleased and excited to announce my upcoming course hosted by Gods & Radicals, Becoming Wild ~ The Tools of Resistance.

This three week course is designed to give participants the basic tools of rebellion and resistance by focusing upon our own resilience outside of the capitalist system. Through video lectures and discussion, we’ll discuss the three cores of resilience:

  • Self-Reliance: through personal and communal work, as well as food security

  • Self-Care: through connection to land, magic, and the body,

  • Defense: through healing and baneful plants, magic, and fighting.

To find out a little bit more, follow the link below:

https://godsandradicals.squarespace.com/site/2020/8/15/course-announcement-becoming-wild-the-tools-of-resistance

 

 

Simple Flat Bread Recipe for Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh is upon us! Often this is one of those pagan holidays that feels a bit meh. It doesn’t have the buzz of Beltane or the languid luxury of Litha nor the festivity of Yule. I feel part of the reason for that today is so many people feel  far removed from growing  and harvesting food and food production methods so that the holiday doesn’t feel relevant to many withing the pagan community. The truth is though it should be more relevant than ever. When the UK government launch their bid to tackle obesity in the name or Covid19, we will be flooded with comments of well meaning ne’er do wells who pronounce that all we must do is buy a bag of apples instead of a packet of biscuits. Of course, it isn’t so easy as that and doesn’t account for the long hours people have to work for poor pay, so that when they come home they don’t have the time or effort to make healthy food from scratch. It also doesn’t account for the lack of confidence and know how in the kitchen. If you know how to make good food from scratch, you can stretch out good quality ingredients to make them go further.

Here then, I’ll share with you one of my favourite flat bread recipes. It’s so quick and easy and doesn’t require yeast nor the time required to make a traditional loaf. It’s also extremely versatile, you can serve it with almost anything. I like to roast a load of vegetables such as peppers, onions, garlic and tomato and sprinkle with a little grated cheddar and serve with the bread. Alternatively it makes the best of a cheap salad, or you can serve with curry instead of rice or use it as a cheap pizza base by spreading with a tomato puree or sauce and topping with vegetables and a sprinkle of cheese.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 200g of plain flour (you can use self raising if you want a fluffier texture)
  • 50 ml of water
  • A large pinch of salt
  • ground black pepper (optional)
  • dried herbs (optional and you can use whatever herbs you like the taste of)

Add all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and slowly add water until you have a dough that isn’t too sticky. Separate the dough into equal portions, I usually get about 3 out of these amounts and roll them out on a floured surface until they are quite thin but not broken. Place a frying pan on medium heat and cook on each side for around five minutes until it is cooked, making sure you check it often to ensure it isn’t burning. And that’s it. Super simple and super tasty and will add to any meal for only a few pence. Why not give it a try this Lughnasadh and give thanks to the Corn Mother for what we have been blessed with.