Wellness Tips for Eclipse Season + Reading!

What is ‘Eclipse Season’?

What we call ‘Eclipse Season’ is the period of time that the solar and lunar eclipses happen. Eclipses happen in pairs, over a period of a lunar cycle, but the effects last for months and beyond. There are at least 4 eclipses per year, and the signs they happen in change every 18 months or so.

Eclipses are like super-charged new moons and full moons. They are more intensely emotional and function as a gateway of spiritual, mental, and emotional growth, often coinciding with big endings and beginnings in our lives.

Everyone will experience each eclipse differently, depending on how it hits your astrological chart. Some folks will have major life-changing events happen, and others will feel a more internal, subtle shift. From an astrological perspective, whatever changes happen during an eclipse can leave their mark for months or even years to come.

An analogy I heard and resonated with about eclipse season is that it’s like standing on one side of a large chasm and crossing a rickety swing bridge over to the other side. As you walk, the bridge slowly disintegrates behind you and once you are on the other side, you can never go back to where you were before. The changes are on some level, permanent.

The other astrological perspective is that during eclipses, whatever happens was meant to happen. The changes are not initiated by our conscious actions and intentions, but by our higher self, the divine, fate or whatever you wish to call the larger forces that be. We are not in control of the situation. All we have control over is how we respond, process and navigate on an internal level. It is for this reason that I recommend focusing on wellness in mind, body, heart and spirit during this time, leaving space for integrating, healing and processing.

Staying Well During Eclipse Season

During eclipse season, time can feel like its moving a lot faster or slower than usual. A week can feel like a month has gone by because we are processing so much more energy on all levels. Our emotions are usually much closer to the surface, and more intense. The gravitational pull of an eclipse can cause higher tides and tidal waves in the ocean, so imagine that same forces affecting our bodies!

You may also experience restless nights, trouble sleeping and more vivid dreams than usual. I find taking melatonin or valerian root helpful for sleep during eclipses as well as all full moons.

You may feel more easily exhausted, burned out, or a sense of rootlessness and anxiety, as it can kind of feel like the ground is shaking under our feet. You might feel a bit ‘buzzed’ or like the energy around you is crackling.

Those of us living in the big city will often notice more chaos around us- accidents, violence, emergency vehicles, increased noise, etc. If you are an empath, highly sensitive person or introvert, you may feel overwhelmed by all the energy around you. It is important to practice grounding and protection during this time.

Many find grief an emotion that comes up with eclipses, since there is often some kind of ending taking place within us or around us.

Staying well during eclipse season requires us to give ourselves a bit more space and flexibility in our schedule in order to process. Take some time to meditate, reflect on your life, or journal before bed. Go to bed earlier than normal. Eat high-nutrient foods and don’t skip your vitamins or supplements. Exercise can help you stay grounded as well as process the excess energy flowing through you. Other grounding activities such as cuddling with pets, gardening, plant care, spending time in nature or body care, such as a massage or movement is very helpful.

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a sensitive, intuitive or empath, I recommend you read about my suggestions for energetic cleansing here, and my suggestions for energetic protection here.

Should we do spells or rituals during an eclipse?

I think it really depends on a lot of factors, such as what type of ritual you are planning, the energies of that particular eclipse and how it affects you personally, whether it involves other people and what traditions you practice. So, I can’t give a definitive answer. I come from an astrological perspective, and much of the caution around spellwork at eclipses stems from Astrology, a very ancient practice that is still thriving to this day. It is not some new idea born from Witch Tok, despite what some memes may say. Over millennia, astrologers observed that eclipses bring chaotic energies and irreversible changes. Caution with magick as well as mind-altering substances is sensible advice in my opinion, as many folks are feeling more emotional and off-balance than usual, which can have adverse effects that last.

I personally don’t do any spells or manifestation around eclipses, but I still do my daily grounding, prayer, cleansing and protection rituals. I also find it a great time to do divination, self-inquiry, journaling, reflection and take some extra time to check-in with myself and my life.

Eclipses are a potent healing gateway, a time to pay attention to what is emerging for you and open to the greater forces that be. It is helpful to listen to the needs of your mind, body and spirit at this time.

A Wellness Spread & Reading for this Eclipse

The lunar eclipse happens on May 16th at 12:15 EDT in Scorpio. The Taurus-Scorpio energies at play are about worthiness, money, shared resources, intimacy, sex, illumination of that which is hidden and deep transformation. This particular eclipse is making a tight square with Saturn, which means it may challenge us to accept limitations, negotiate boundaries or cultivate greater maturity. This eclipse may also bring some sort of release or ending, which can be painful. It could also feel like relief, and an opportunity to accept things as they are so we can move forward with greater wisdom.

Let’s see what the cards say about navigating these energies! Below is my 5-card Wellness Spread that I offer in my Wellness Readings. It is great whenever you feel overwhelmed, frazzled, scattered, burned out, or feel out-of-sync in your body and mind. It will help you address your needs on all levels and feel more centered.

My Wellness Spread

For this reading, I used The Gentle Tarot by Mariza Ryce Aparicio-Tovar. The interpretations are mine but I include quotes from the author as well. You can use any deck you resonate with for this spread. As you shuffle the cards, drop into your body, heart and soul. Let the feelings arise. Ask to be guided towards your wellness and wholeness in body, heart, mind and spirit.

This is what I’ve pulled for you today, dear reader, for this eclipse:

Body: Seven of Wands

1.Body- Seven of Wands: Stand up tall and root your feet onto Terra Firma! You are more powerful than you’ve allowed yourself to be. Carry yourself with conviction and connect to that flame within that burns bright and wild within. You are strong, resilient, wise and know where you stand. Embody your inner fire. Let your passion move you, and give your anger an outlet. Anger can both heal and destroy, the raven reminds us to use this energy wisely. Try movement and sounding to release stuck frustration. Listen to the needs of your body and tell others what you need. Command and embody respect. This starts from within- from healthy self-respect for your own body, its needs, desires and limitations. You decide what energies you let in. You decide what’s right for you.

“Command your energy and cast it with integrity where it needs to be- this is called conviction and it is healthy. You know when something is right or wrong. Don’t fear fighting for it. You are powerful. Together we can change the ways of the world.”- Mariza.

Heart-Nine of Wands

2. Heart- Nine of Wands: Are you feeling the need to protect yourself right now? Perhaps you are struggling with trust. What is your heart telling you about who or what you can trust? Are you feeling safe? How can you adjust your boundaries in a healthy way to protect your tender heart but still be able to receive the love and healing you need? The lynx is a wise feline who’s wildish instincts keep her safe. Perhaps your inner lynx is asking you to pay attention to how you really feel about a situation. Maybe something isn’t quite as it seems and your heart is telling you so. Listen to that wildish wisdom in your heart, it will not guide you astray. Safety is the precursor to any genuine connection, healing or opening, so if safety isn’t there, protection and boundaries are a must.

“It is okay to guard yourself. The world is what it is and not all people are worthy of your trust.” – Mariza.

Mind: Flower of Thunder

3. Mind-Flower of Thunder: Engage your wisdom and objectivity. Look at your situation with the clarity and breadth of the eagle. Eagle is an amazing huntress and knows how to see the big picture as well as zoom-in on her prey. You too, can move between the big picture and laser-like focus if you choose to. Your higher mind is aligned with your sense of what is right, true and honest. Cultivate truth and honesty. Are you being honest with yourself and others? Don’t be afraid to cut to the truth of the matter. Communicate clearly what you desire, what you see, what you know. Are you living in tune with your ethics and principles? Speak from your heart- share what you stand for and all will flow from there.

“The energy of this card is one of bold, clear communication coming from an experienced, loving, powerful heart.” -Mariza

Spirit: Seven of Cups

4. Spirit- Seven of Cups: You are at a special place in time where many opportunities present themselves. Your spiritual path has perhaps come to a crossroads where you can choose your own adventure from this point forward, or you are at a juncture where you can choose a libation of nourishment to support you on your path. You have options before you, however it is important that you remember that not everything is as it seems upon first glance. Take a moment to reflect on what it is that truly serves your spiritual growth, rather than reaching for the shiny thing in front of you as a reflex. Look a bit deeper. Take some quiet time to listen to the whisperings in your heart and soul. Then, when you look at the opportunities or offerings before you, you will choose from your deepest truth and authentic soul desire.

“I embrace my gifts and the options that surround me. Instead of being scattered or spread too thin, I am ready to choose and I go all in.”- Mariza

Integration: The Tower

5. Integration- The Tower: Sometimes, the world is in chaos and it seems impossible to gain steady ground, stability, hope or serenity. During times of upheaval like these, what flame still flickers in your heart and soul, keeping you here, helping you wake up every morning? What small things can keep you grounded in the moment? Times of change and crisis are the destruction of illusions, the disintegration of the wobbly structures and outgrown narratives that can’t hold up to the power and truth of this moment or who you are anymore. They must give way to a better system, a better container for all of who you are becoming and what the world is becoming. Change can be really scary, and its ok to feel anxious, weird or out-of-sync. It can also bring feelings of grief as the old passes away, and we aren’t quite sure what new will emerge. But remember that this time of transformation is about creating a more authentic life. As the integration card, The Tower reminds you that all that you are feeling right now is due to some deep internal changes happening, right down to the cellular level, so be patient with yourself and allow some space and time for integration of all that you are processing. Eventually a new world and a new you will emerge, perfectly in sync. Trust the process.

“Amidst the chaos, there is deep knowing, humility and trust in their facial expression. The figure depicted here is androgynous, all labels and boundaries aside. Burn old ideas and allow the true to emerge. Start fresh. Allow restrictive ideas, unhealthy relationships, and toxicity to be stripped away.” -Mariza

How do these messages land for you? How do you support your wellness during eclipse season? Share in the comments!

Would you like a more in-depth, personalised Wellness Reading with me? I offer the above spread in my Wellness Readings, which can be done with the Gentle Tarot or The Goddess Oracle. See my Tarot and Oracle Readings page for details.

May you be well resourced and adaptable during these intense times. With love and warmth,

Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

What is a Hearthwitch? + Tips for Sacred Housekeeping

What is a Hearthwitch?

A Hearthwitch is a home-centered Witch who focuses their energies on creating sacred space and weaving the magickal into the mundane. They do not usually feel the need to equip themselves with fancy tools or do elaborate rituals and like to get creative with what they have in their own kitchen or garden.

They like to craft things for the home, such as candles, sewing projects, witchy home décor, protective amulets or anything that enhances daily living or serves to create sacred space.

Many think hearthwitches need to live in a little cottage in the country, but you can be a hearthwitch anywhere, including the big city. In fact, as a big city hearthwitch myself, I would say hearthwitchery it is a more refined skill when you have the challenges of scarce wilderness, endless noise, construction and many humans in close vicinity. Big city hearthwitches have more energies to contend with, and more limited natural resources to work with, making our craft a little different than the countryside Hearthwitch, but no less powerful.

my hearth

Hearthwitches share some qualities with Kitchen Witches, Green Witches and Hedgewitches, and these can sometimes overlap within the same witch. Their practices all carry an earthy, folky quality, including a love of using herbs in cooking or medicine making.

Hedgewitch is a term sometimes used interchangeably with Hearthwitch, although Hedgewitch can also refer to a Witch who spends their time ‘flying the hedge’, or walking in the liminal realm, traveling in spirit. They can do this through entering a trance-like meditative state, seeking guidance from the spirits, and bringing back those messages to the earthly realm.

I personally identify as both a Hearthwitch and a Hedgewitch, as I spend a lot of energy on keeping my home and garden with spiritual intent and sensitivity, as well as journeying into the liminal realm to gain insight on my spiritual path.

I also feel that for me, being a Hearthwitch is much more than these activities. It is also a path of embodying and radiating a sense of being at home within oneself and tending one’s inner flame of spirit, which I call the hearthflame within. For me, Hearthwitchery involves developing the ability to create a sense of home wherever I am and share that with others.

This means that I not only prioritise keeping my home in a sacred way, but I tend to my body and spirit with a similar reverence. My path of Hearthwitchery involves embodying the divine feminine, an energy of inner groundedness and radiance that comes from tending my hearthflame within and without.

How did I become a Hearthwitch?

My path to hearthwitchery was a reluctant one, at first. In my early twenties I started to identify as a Witch but wasn’t quite sure what type of Witch I was yet, as this takes time and experimentation to discover. I never would have thought at the time that being a hearthwitch would appeal to me, as I wasn’t the most domestic person, nor did it sound very exciting!

I joined covens and read a ton of books, learning about all kinds of witchy perspectives and paths. I felt like I could go in several different directions, but soon I got pregnant and became a mother, which narrowed my options.

As anyone who’s had a baby knows, life gets suddenly quite mundane. Housekeeping becomes everything. Besides caring for an infant, there’s constant laundry, cooking, cleaning, and endless chores to stay afloat.

I felt as though my magickal practice was slipping away, as it seemed I never had time for rituals or anything more than the odd prayer before passing out, exhausted. Thankfully a witch friend at the time introduced me to the book ‘The Way of the Hedgewitch’, which gave me hope that I could still lead my life in a way that was a realistic blend of my beliefs and my new home-based lifestyle.

The book revived my spirit and grounded me in a way of living that became habitual over the years, especially since I have been working from home all this time. I still recommend this book for anyone interested in hearthwitchery, as it will not only help you bring magick into your housekeeping chores but also feel more deeply nourished and revitalised when you’re at home.

Creating Sacred Space & Weaving Magick into the Mundane

Firstly, I feel that the word chores can bring up really bleh feelings, so why don’t we change them to housekeeping rituals?

In our housekeeping rituals, we keep in mind our goal- To create a sanctuary, a sacred space, a dwelling for the divine- which nourishes us and our loved ones.

So, our housekeeping rituals become an act of service- in my case, to the Goddess in her many guises, as well as to my spiritual well-being.

The Greek goddess Hestia or Roman Vesta is a goddess specifically of the Hearth, and she was honoured in many ways, including by the Vestal Virgins who tended her flame in ancient temples. But, you don’t have to honour any specific deity to be a Hearthwitch.

Housekeeping rituals can be a service to your own soul as well as whatever you feel is divinity. It is about creating a space that allows the divine energy of the universe to flow through it. It is about grounding the sacred into one’s abode.

From the Goddess Oracle deck by Marashinsky & Shanto

I have taught a hearth magick workshop on how to make your home a sacred space and weave magick into the mundane. I am thinking of offering it again in the near future, so if you are interested, let me know!

Here are 10 ways to bring more magick into your home:

Start the day with a land-honouring grounding practice. I do a smoke cleansing ritual to the spirits of the land I live on, the Indigenous peoples of this land, my ancestors, and give thanks for being able to make my home here. You may wish to acknowledge the 4 elements, or create a daily ritual that grounds you into the place you live, its history and people.

Sanctify the hearth of your home and spend time there daily to replenish. The hearth of your home is the sacred power spot or energy centre of the home. It is different for each dwelling, but it is the place that you feel most relaxed, nourished and grounded. Often, if you have people over to visit, they naturally gravitate to this area. Once you have located this area, sanctify it by cleansing and blessing it, creating a altar there, decorating it in a way that honours its spiritual essence and tend it with love. Spend more time there, doing things that nourish your soul or make you feel good.

Surround yourself with colours and textures that speak to your soul rather than the latest fashions. Use natural fabrics and items in your décor, like found rocks, homegrown herbs, art you’ve made or creations that hold meaning for you. A hearthwitch’s home is soul-nourishing and meaningful, and that may or may not follow the decorating trends of the moment.

Set up a kitchen altar. Regardless of whether the kitchen is the hearth of your home or not, you are likely going to be spending significant time there. Having an altar with beautiful, inspiring objects, seasonal flowers, candles and other items that speak to your soul will help take the edge off those long hours cooking and cleaning. It will serve as a reminder of the sacredness of the work you are doing, and infuse it with positive energy.

Keep a balance of elements in each room. Earth, air, fire and water are best balanced in harmony in each room. You can represent each element through the colours you use, such as warm colours for fire, light colours for air, blues for water and earth tones for earth. Represent the elements with items such as candles, incense, feathers, bowls, flowers, shells, etc. Each room will have a unique elemental requirement based on its purpose, but that is a whole other topic, so just try to have a general elemental balance.

Listen to the house itself and honour it like a living being. My house’s personality is like a classy elderly woman with low tolerance for clutter and a need for quiet. She is discerning as to who she will let in, isn’t fond of parties, loud noise, or chaos. She is over 100 years old and the floors are very creaky, full of dents and character, but charming. Her and I get along quite well, except I find her standards for cleanliness a tad oppressive. She reminds me that she has only lived this long because of her high standards and she rewards our hard work with her safety and comfort. She also encourages spiritual work and attunement to higher frequencies, but she won’t let us get too ungrounded. The garden has made her very happy. Your house has a personality too! Every house has its unique vibe and will encourage its stewards to live a certain way. If you work in harmony with your house, it will take care of you. Take time to get to know them and what their needs are.

a bit of my front garden

Think of clutter as negative energy. Because it is. It can create stagnation, clutter in the psyche and hamper the energy flow in your home. As much as decluttering can be annoying or exhausting, your home and psyche will be much freer and healthier when de-cluttered. That isn’t to say its a problem to keep meaningful, beautiful things around you, and you don’t need to be a minimalist! Keep whatever serves your happiness, but get rid of anything that is never used, collecting dust, broken, or saps your energy.

As you are cooking, try saying a little prayer or giving thanks to all the people who made it possible for each ingredient to make it to your table. Try stirring or frying loving intentions and wishes into your food. When I am stirring a pot, I stir clockwise to put out a wish or intention into the food. I don’t necessarily have a rhyming charm to say, I just speak from the heart, often silently, sending my love into the food.

Think of the more thankless chores as nurturing actions. Things like doing the dishes, folding laundry and picking up after kids can be really thankless, as the results are only experienced for mere seconds sometimes. Remember that every dish washed is in service of nourishing someone with food, every shirt folded is to keep someone warm, and every toy picked up is both an accident prevented and an example/teaching to your kids for the future. Life really is in the details and I believe the little things DO matter- especially when we see them as the building blocks of the goal and the big picture.

Make your workspace a sanctuary. Whether you work from home or at an office, it can be very benefical to bring some good vibes to your desk and workspace. Crystals, candles, aromatherapy sprays and inspiring images can all help boost your mood and productivity. One of my fave ways to absorb negative vibes and keep a nice workspace in a non-obtrusive way is through using salt bowls. They not only help cleanse the energy but also represent earth and water. Add to your desk a tealight candle and a little feather or cute image of a bird, and you’ve got all the 4 elements covered! I sell salt bowl kits, if you are interested!

Take time to enjoy your space! Commune with the divine regularly. Let it be your temple. My current home is a bit high maintenance, so sometimes when I am feeling exhausted, I realise it’s because I forgot to actually enjoy the sanctuary I’ve created and take some time to simply BE in it, and let it serve its purpose.

What do you do to create a feeling of sanctuary or soul-nourishment in your home?

How do you feel about cleaning and other housework?

If your current home was a person, what would they be like?

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Your Magick Lies Within You- Walking the Solitary Path

“…Know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.”

 -Charge of the Goddess adapted by Starhawk.

I’ve always been a spiritual seeker. Always wanting to understand more about human nature, the universe, how we’re all linked and what makes it all work. I love that life is truly an eternal mystery that one can never fully figure out and yet it’s so fun to try.

I’ve explored the traditions of many cultures and sought the wisdom of many spiritual teachers. Yet, my path keeps leading me- painfully and patiently, towards myself. Through many difficult experiences, I am repeatedly guided to my own inner compass to lead me down a path that is authentically my own and doesn’t look like anyone else’s or fit neatly into any one tradition. It has only been through following my instincts and doing my inner work that I have found the peace and acceptance I once sought outside of me.

Perhaps you are also on a solitary journey, or maybe you dream of being in a coven or communal situation. Each of us has our unique path and I am not here to say one is better than the other, only to share a bit about my experience and journey, knowing that yours will be unique to you.  

Issues in Spiritual Communities

I used to love the feeling of ‘belonging’ that being part of a spiritual community brought. It felt like I was part of something meaningful, and it somehow validated my spiritual beliefs in a world without churches for my pagan beliefs. I often felt that I needed to belong to a spiritual community to validate myself as a spiritual person. I thought belonging was the necessary foundation for my growth. That magick had greater power in a group. I learned over time that this was an illusion. My participation in groups often came with a price. Over time, I was gradually less willing to pay this price.

Always seeking to belong to a spiritual community came to a point where I was sacrificing important parts of myself to belong to the group. In order to stay in it, I would have to give up my own values or authentic soul needs for growth. I would struggle to find a compromise, to preserve the illusion that the group was supporting me spiritually, even when in reality, it wasn’t. I just longed to belong.

Many of us drawn to living a spiritual path have a strong sense of devotion, combined with wounding and trauma that makes us long to belong and feel loved- making it easy for us to give our power away to others. We often need to work on cultivating better boundaries.

My fave astrologer, Jessica Lanyadoo recently said- ‘devotion without boundaries is martyrdom’. This rang true for me, as my shadow work has shown me this is something I’ve had to work on. Catholicism runs strong in my lineage, which formed a tendency to put my personal power in the hands of the Divine or the middle-person who represents them. To place servitude and faith above all, to the point of sacrificing one’s own independence can cause resentment deep inside. This also runs through the fabric of society itself in many ways since these values are embedded within dominant culture due to colonization, which forced not only Christianity, but patriarchal, capitalistic structures on Indigenous peoples.

In the past, I have given some of my spiritual power away to those I felt must know better than I, must be more spiritual somehow or hold some mystical powers that I don’t have. Because that’s what I was conditioned to do.

Sabrina’s ‘dark baptism’ where she attempts to join the Church of Night on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Over time, I felt my integrity being compromised more and more in spiritual groups because they weren’t in alignment with my personal ethics and boundaries. I tried to keep better boundaries within myself and still participate in the group, but in certain settings, this was either impossible or a deal-breaker in being part of the group, because of the lack of boundaries and respect for individuality within the group itself. 

It doesn’t help when spiritual teachers fall into the common ego traps that humans tend to do when in a position of power. Some lead with the belief that they are spiritually superior to others and some wish to be treated as though they are deity rather than human. Some lead with over-confident bravado, but in my experience, its more common to find teachers expressing false modesty, using deception and manipulation to keep up a humble facade.

Spiritual bypassing is another very common issue in spiritual communities. Our idealized version of what it means to be spiritual is often non-human and pain-avoidant. Social inequities and individual realities are easily glossed over with platitudes, performative gestures and glamour to distract from a lack of accountability and willingness to do the deeper work.

I like when teachers remember that they are simply human and don’t have to become some idealised image of what they think a spiritual leader needs to be. I like when a teacher owns their own shit and does their deep shadow work. This is something I keep reminding myself to avoid falling into the same trap.

My challenging experiences with spiritual groups and leadership clarified the essence of my own core values, ethics and showed me that I needed to forge my own path.

Individuation & the Solitary Path

In many ways, choosing the solitary path mimics the healthy individualization process one undergoes when growing up and becoming a separate person from their family of origin.

Anyone who’s been in a spiritual community may notice patterns of family dynamics that are transferred onto the group. In Christian faith it is tradition to call the priest ‘Father’ and the congregation ‘brothers and sisters’. A similar familial structure is reflected in pagan groups as well. One example of which is calling our pagan coven-mates ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ and giving a parental role and name to the teacher, such as ‘Mother’ or ‘High Priestess’ or similar. This replication of a family dynamic can bring a sense of camaraderie and spiritual family, but it can also bring up all kinds of challenges.

It can be interesting to get curious about correlations between our spiritual community and our family of origin. Are we hoping for a childhood wound to be healed through this new ‘family’? Are we experiencing the same toxic behaviour from our spiritual ‘sister’ that we experienced with a sibling? Or the same patterns from our teacher or high priest/ess as we have with our parents or other authorities? Can we learn and grow through these relationships, or are they stifling our growth?

Spiritual community can be fertile ground for patterns from our childhood to arise and the roles we fall into to be repeated. This can make it a great place to heal and transform these dynamics. However, it can be rare to find a community that is actually capable of holding space for this or modelling healthy behaviour. It is for this reason that I’ve worked with my own therapist over the last decade to sort these issues out within myself and am learning that a solitary path is more conducive to my growth.

My experiences haven’t all been negative, however. Though sometimes painful, I have grown through unhealthy group dynamics and have also experienced the joy of spiritually growing in safe space and humble teaching.

In my experience, some of the best support I received was from my teacher Daniel, who empowered me to find my own direct connection with Spirit and to trust my own intuition. He modeled ways of being in community and leadership with personal integrity. He helped me connect to my innate wisdom, held space for all of who I am and listened intently to my concerns or issues. He was willing to be human, lead from the heart and learn from his mistakes, which is something I respect and admire.

Taking our Power Back with Self-Trust

You see, I’m a bit of an eternal student. I love the learning process, meeting new people and feel empowered by knowledge and skills. I also feel learning from others and gaining knowledge is an important part of our spiritual path.

However, my habit of constant learning came to a point where I realized it’s been a way for me to escape living my own truth and avoid trusting my own intuition.

It’s taken me decades to fully trust my innate wisdom, passed down through my DNA, my spirit guides and dreams, which proves to be very accurate. I have strong gut instincts about people, places and things, but for the longest time I would override those instincts and question everything too much. It can be hard to distinguish between healthy discernment and self-doubt sometimes.

The divine flows through all of us, and we can all have a direct relationship with the divine, without an intermediary. Sure, a teacher or facilitator can help us access our inner wisdom, and it is often necessary to connect with a guide at some point on our path.

But we don’t necessarily need a teacher, group, a priest/ess, a temple or church, or a coven to grow spiritually or make powerful magick or validate who we are or what we believe.

All we need is the willingness to discover and live our spiritual values. To walk our own path as it authentically unfolds. To become receptive to the wisdom within us and discover the magick that flows within our veins. To take our dreams and intuitive hunches more seriously. Connect with nature and remember that we are nature too. Pray and serve from the heart, with feet on the ground. Remember that we are surrounded by helpful beings in the spirit world and natural world that are simply waiting for us to tune in.

If you are thinking about a solitary path, I’d say:

  • Remember that you are never truly alone. We are surrounded by the divine all around us and it flows within us as well. There are other solitaries out there who may wish to connect. (Me!)
  • You don’t need to follow an established path to validate your spirituality. You can trailblaze, and create a path that feels authentic to you.
  • You don’t need to be part of an established group or spiritual community for validation, either.
  • Learn what you’re drawn to. Educate yourself on the traditions and wisdom you’re interested in and follow your inner compass towards your ethics and integrity.
  • Knowledge doesn’t equal wisdom. A balance of knowledge, deep inner work and experience creates wisdom, and this takes time.
  • Not all that glitters is gold. Use discernment when navigating spiritual offerings and remember there’s a lot of gloss, glamour and deception out there! Especially on social media.
  • I highly recommend therapy of some kind to compliment the spiritual path. It is good to have an objective, outside party to help keep us grounded in our emotional work and able to discern what is ours and what is not, someone to hold us accountable. Spiritual bypassing is all too easy and common, which encourages our shadow or inner child to run the show, instead of our integrated, healthy adult self.
A collective of rocks, each one’s uniqueness makes the whole more beautiful

If you’re part of a spiritual community or group that you feel happy in and are growing through, then that’s great! If you’ve found a teacher who you resonate with and enjoy- amazing! If you prefer a traditional route over trailblazing- that’s awesome! Do what works for you. It’s not about one path being better than the other, but finding our own way towards growth, whether that is alone, in a group or a combination of both.

Even though I am a solitary witch, I also have community I share my witchy lifestyle with, in small doses. At every sabbat, I hold Hearthfire Circles, which are open to the public and encompassing of diverse beliefs. I’m not part of a coven and my circles are open to all genders, paths and levels of witchy experience. They are a great way to connect with other magickally-inclined folks without a major investment of time or energy. We strive to hold safe and inclusive space and enjoy ourselves very much! You can learn more about them here.

You may also be interested in my Reclaim Your Magick Sessions. These are 1 on 1 Earth-Based Healing sessions to help you cultivate your intuition and spiritually resource you by connecting you with  animal, plant, crystal and tree allies. Learn more here.

Xo

Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

What is an Animal Ally? Relating to Our Animal Kin…

I remember being a little girl, at my grandparents’ trailer home in rural Manitoba, obsessed with the deer head mounted on the wall. I would stare at it, look into its eyes, and swear it was alive, that it still held a spirit of some kind.

I would ask to be lifted up so I could pet the deer. I could feel its power, grace and nobility. Admiring this amazing creature, I wondered how or why it had to be killed. I felt that maybe it was watching over me.

Years later, when my grandparents moved into a house, I remember they had a large tapestry of deer in the snow in the basement where I would sleep. It brought me so much peace and comfort, to stare at the tapestry, watching the deer, imagining I was with them in the snow. It helped me fall asleep, as I would lay on a mattress right across from the tapestry.  

I don’t know if these memories were the beginnings of my long-time connection with Deer as an animal ally, but I think they stick with me for a reason.

The Circle of Life

My grandparents on their farm in Manitoba in the 1940s & 1950s. Upper left photo is of my grandma hand-feeding a deer.

My grandpa was a hunter, butcher and farmer, yet he loved animals more than anyone I knew. He would always take the time to teach me about the animals around us, getting me to slow down and take the time to really observe the behaviour of a bird or squirrel, in a way I never did on my own.

My grandparents relied on the land to survive, and in rural Manitoba that isn’t an easy feat. Their relationship with nature was much more intimate than mine. They understood the cycles of life and death. They simultaneously loved and adored animals, while having no qualms about taking their lives if needed.

This is an ability I was spared from learning in my life, having grown up in the city of Winnipeg, I never relied on hunting or farming to survive. I had the privilege to eat according to my ideals and sentiments, choosing to be a vegetarian and vegan for over 14 years. Now, I’m a flexitarian, as my chronic health issues have shown me that my body requires me to eat a certain amount of meat. I do so in humility and gratitude.

I think about my grandparents and my mother growing up on the farm and I feel lucky to have been given the chance to live a different life. But I also feel maybe I missed out on some important wisdom their lifestyle carried.  I am not sure how I would handle a lifestyle of raising and killing animals so we and others could eat. I am so grateful for those who do this so I can survive and be healthy.  

Me and my grandpa (pepere), 1982.

I don’t judge anyone for their dietary choices or lifestyle, as I feel there’s no room for that in this world of inequities, diverse religious and cultural traditions and health complexities. I’ve done all the diets, for all the reasons. I’ve been in a lot of different shoes. I see all the sides.

 I do, however, feel there is much to learn from our animal kin. Cultivating a relationship with them is something special and sacred and reminds us that we too are part of the same family.

When we are strongly drawn to an animal, or if one keeps showing up in our lives, it can be worth getting curious about them. Research their eating habits, survival instincts, how they approach relating and family, and see if they perhaps carry qualities we need to cultivate within ourselves or learn to access or express in our lives. Getting to know them can help us get to know ourselves better. They can help us embody our animal self and deepen our connection to the natural world.

Deer in my Life

Deer are very common here in Canada, especially white-tailed deer. Yet, despite how common they are, it always feels like such a blessing to actually see one.

As the quiet, gentle spirits of the forest, seeing a deer always brings me a sense of humility and honour. I feel one of deer’s messages to me is to embrace my sensitivity. Deer are always keenly aware- able to sense even the slightest movement or faintest smell of predators.

I also feel the symbolism of the antlers reaching up and out are like antennae to the spirit world, giving deer a special attunement to frequencies that we are not aware of in our usual daily consciousness. When deer shows up, I take it as a reminder to attune to the subtle realms more consciously. Take the time to be silent, still and listen. Pay attention to my surroundings.

Pretty much every time we venture up north to camp or stay at a cottage, we see deer. Often, we see 3 at a time, which makes sense as my husband and daughter and I all feel a special connection to them and travel together. We have often felt an intuitive sense of where and when they are nearby, and then they show up!

I remember a beautiful workshop where my daughter and I made our own deerskin drums. Myself and a few others were struggling to cut the hide. My daughter was a natural, however. The teacher mentioned that cutting the hide required a special gentleness and attunement to the deer spirit in order for it to be cut properly. I was gripping too tight, applying too much force, so it wouldn’t cut. One of deer’s messages to me is always to be gentle, lighten up. I eventually got it.

My daughter cutting the deer hide with ease.

The drum making process overall was a good experience in aligning with deer energy. Now every time I drum, I honor the deer spirit. I see her in pretty much all of my journeys, songs and meditations, guiding me between the worlds.

Deer Goddess- Elen of the Ways

One aspect of deer that I’ve experienced in my journeys is myself as a woman with deer antlers, like some sort of deer priestess or deer lady of the woods, spending time with a herd of deer. I also often see a female deer with antlers showing me where to go.

At first I thought, how can a female deer have antlers? I later found out that female elk/reindeer have antlers. But it felt like something more than elk. It felt like it was something bigger. This curiosity led me to discovering an ancient European/British antlered goddess named in modern times as Elen of the Ways.

My Deer/Elen of the Ways altar. Statue by Philippa Bowers.

Apparently countless women have seen this female antlered deer/ female deer goddess show up in their meditations and journeys too. Elen is still quite enigmatic, her history found in bits and pieces here and there. However despite the lack of strong documented history, she remains in the consciousness of many. She is often seen as representing the Earth Mother and is a guide of pathways and ley lines. I have been slowly connecting more to her and understanding her role in my life.

Often seen as ‘fairy cattle’ in Scottish mythology, deer are often considered a connection to the Otherworld. The Celtic Lord of the Wild Hunt, Cernunnos is often depicted as a man with antlers, surrounded by animals. He is the spirit of the forest, of fertility and the wilderness, a guide between worlds.

Deer in many ways are a bridge for me. They are a connection to my family here and their history on these lands, as I mentioned in the beginning with my grandparents. They are also connected to the traditions of my British and Celtic ancestors across the ocean. They also bridge this world and the spirit world.

Deer, being a traveling animal, helps me to feel comfortable traveling– in spirit as well as in life to create these bridges in my spiritual practice, mind and body. Sometimes they are simply a reminder to get out and walk more often.

Deer is a long time friend who I feel is an ally- a spirit that helps me align with my soul’s growth, healing and renewal, who helps me to navigate life’s challenges.

‘Spirit Animals’, ‘Totems’ & Cultural Appropriation

From The Gentle Tarot- by Indigenous artist Mariza Ryce Aparicio-Trovar

I feel it is important to recognize that while animistic practices and animal reverence exists globally, beliefs vary from culture to culture and tradition to tradition.

Due to colonization on Turtle Island, Indigenous beliefs and practices were illegal until 1978 in the US and until 1951 in Canada, and therefore out of reach for many Indigenous folks. Many are only just beginning to reclaim these ways, which is necessary for healing.  

Sacred practices regarding animal medicine and family clan traditions managed to survive and still exist today in Indigenous communities. Unfortunately however, mainstream colonial culture has appropriated and distorted these traditions.

The word ‘totem’ is an anglicised word for ‘doodem’ in Annishinaabemowin, which speaks to the family clans symbolised by an animal and holding deep meaning and tradition. The term ‘spirit animal’ is often associated with Indigenous culture, however seems to have emerged as a modern term stemming from 1990’s Wicca and pagan circles.

Quizzes, memes and t-shirts in mainstream culture using the words ‘spirit animal’ and ‘totem’ are usually fluffy and disrespectful- saying ‘Justin Bieber is my spirit animal’ or ‘pizza is my spirit animal’ and nonsense that depicts a spirit animal as simply something you resonate with, identify with, think is cute or appealing. The use of the word ‘totem’ gets thrown around, meaning anything from an animal persona (I have heard of the term ‘fursona’ or even ‘Patronus’ as a replacement), to an animal you happen to really like or resonate with- but none of these are the same as a doodem.

You can learn more about this here and here.

It is important to be aware of your own relationship with animals- the symbolism and context of the traditions you follow, your own lineage and personal experience, and not co-opt or make light of  Indigenous sacred traditions!

It is also important that as we connect to these animals in our own environment, we are aware of the laws and customs where we reside. Carrying an eagle feather- and even keeping found feathers of most common bird species is actually illegal in the US and Canada if you are not Indigenous. Using feathers in ways that mimic Indigenous customs you know nothing about (like headdresses, smudge fans, prayer fans, dreamcatchers, etc) is disrespectful and appropriative.

As part of the natural world, we must recognise our place in the ecosystem, and be aware of our privilege, power and relation to others. This can be hard for us humans, because, well, we act more like animals than we like to admit most of the time! Yet, we have the capability to tap into empathy and compassion in a way animals don’t.

I feel that honouring our animal kin by becoming aware of our own ‘animal instincts’ can help us become more accepting of ourselves and each other, in a way that can prevent us from acting from a place of repressed or distorted instincts. It is up to us to find the balance between our inner animal and our human self.

What animals hold spiritual significance for you in your life?

What traditions or beliefs do you have regarding animal allies or messengers?

How do you honor animals in your practice?

If you are interested in exploring your connection to an animal ally more deeply, you may be interested in my Reclaim Your Magick sessions! These are 1 on 1 sessions to help you connect with healing allies in the plant, mineral and animal world to help spiritually resource you for stressful times.

Thank-you for reading,

xo

Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Spring Equinox Spread + Reading!

‘Tis the season of growth.

Growth can be uncomfortable, exhilarating or downright painful. It can be all of these things. Spring urges us to be brave, bold and take action on our instincts to move forward. In order to live the life we wish for, to make those dreams we incubated and flirted with through the winter come true, we need to take action to help them take hold and grow.

Sometimes this process isn’t clear- we don’t always have a strong vision on what it is we are moving towards, but we may have a sense of what has lived its purpose and smell the scent of change in the air. We may already be walking towards that new place within ourselves but haven’t even realised it or seen evidence of forward movement yet.

Like a bear emerging from its cave, we can sometimes take a while to adjust to the light, realise where we are, and what we need to do. I’m not a morning person, so I often feel the sleepy bear vibe this time of year.

In this process of emergence, we may need to say a final goodbye to something, someone or some part of us that is holding us back. It might be time to clean out the closet- literally and metaphorically. It might be time to more actively seek out what our heart has been longing for silently, in the background, while we went about our daily business of simply surviving.

In the spirit of the season, I have created a Spring Equinox Spread to help you nourish your growth process. It can be used to help you grow a specific creative idea or venture, a relationship or a new way of being within yourself. This spread can be done with your own Tarot or oracle deck. I also have done a reading for you below!

As you shuffle your deck, focus on your ‘seed’- the new venture, vision, project or aspect of yourself you wish to manifest. Feel in your heart what you long to manifest. When you are ready, lay the cards in the order below. The spread will guide you in nourishing and growing your goal!

  1. Soil-This cards speaks to your foundations, the ‘soil’ your seed needs to be planted in. It shows you the nourishment requirements. It answers the question- What nourishes the roots of this goal? What foundations are required for this to work? What is needed to sustain this growth? This is the most important card in the reading, as you can’t get a healthy plant with unhappy soil or neglected roots!

2. Breaking Ground- This card shows you the approach to taking action, overcoming obstacles and moving forward. This card speaks to the process of breaking out from under the soil and reaching up. It answers the question- How can I meet the challenges to growth that I face? What action can I take now to encourage forward movement? When you face an obstacle to your goal, this card speaks to the recommended approach to dealing with it.

3. Stability- This card speaks to how to stay centered and focused on the goal. It helps you stay aligned with your purpose and inner strength. In our growth process, we might feel pulled in different directions or wonder if we are truly doing the right thing. It answers the question: How do I sometimes get off track and how can I stay on track?

4. Inner Growth- This card reflects the evolution and growth process that is happening within you. It may be what prompted this venture in the first place. It may or may not be something visible to others or even yourself. It answers the question- How am I changing? What is this venture teaching me?

5. Outer Growth- This card reflects how your inner growth is affecting your self-expression or your relationship with the outside world. How you connect with others, how you behave. It answers the question- How is my behaviour shifting from this process? How am I growing as I walk through life? How is this process affecting my relationships? This is what is visible to others.

Below is the reading I have done for you using the Goddess Power Oracle by Collette Baron-Reid, with my own interpretation:

  • Roots- Hestia- Goddess of the hearth and home Hestia is here to remind you that your seed’s roots are nourished with a strong home base. Where do you call home? Do you feel at home within yourself? Do you feel comfortable in your skin or try to run away? Do you feel nourished by your environment? It may be time to clean and beautify your space so you can function better within it. Maybe a new coat of paint, or a new colour scheme that reflects your authentic self. Or perhaps it’s time to move to a new dwelling that better reflects who you are and where you want to be. Nourish your roots and foundations by making a space that is yours. Create a physical space or an altar dedicated to to the new you or the venture you’re embarking on. Reflect the beauty of who you are and what you want in your environment. You will better manifest your goals if you have a strong home base- within yourself and around you to nourish them from.
  • Breaking Ground- Elen of the Ways- Deer goddess Elen makes us aware of patterns and shows us new pathways forward. It is easy for us to get stuck in unhealthy habits that hold back our growth. Elen is here to remind you that in order to overcome any obstacles you are facing, you need to notice your patterns and habits. If you don’t like what is in front of you, change how you’re going about things. Notice the patterns and habits you’ve created in your daily life. Are they serving your goal? Are you using your energy efficiently? Are there patterns of self-talk or self-sabotaging thoughts that prevent your forward movement? It’s time to take action by creating new pathways that serve what you are trying to manifest. Is there a path you haven’t tried yet? It may not be the well-trodden path you’re used to. Look around you and see what paths lead toward your goal. If there isn’t one, create a new one!
  • Stability- Maya- Goddess of Illusion reminds us that we need to see things as they really are instead of how we want them to be. We may go off track when we fall into wishful thinking, or see things through an outworn lens or story. This story could be of the essence of ‘poor me’ or ‘I never…’ or ‘I always…’. Or, when we invest in an illusion. Clarity is what keeps us stable, growing and on track. Get realistic and clear about your goal, your intention, what it is you are aiming towards, or your ‘plant’ will not be able to sustain itself. What illusions do you entertain around your situation? Do they serve your growth or inhibit it? What changes within you when you choose to see the situation as it is? Stay on track by looking beyond the veil of gossamer and staying present with what is.
  • Inner Growth- Freya- Goddess Freya brings the message of Radical Acceptance. Much inner growth is possible through this, when you accept yourself and your situation fully. Maybe you’ve had some disppointments, conflicts and battles and feel you’ve come out the loser. Maybe the setbacks have eroded your faith in yourself or dampened your warrior spirit. We can’t win every battle. Life inevitably leaves us scarred from our experiences. Our scars become part of what makes us who we are. We don’t need to accept cruel behaviour in our lives, but we need to accept that it happened to us and here we are now. It takes bravery and courage to accept what is. This inner shift may or may not be visible to others around you, but you will feel much lighter and at peace when you make it. This venture may spring from a newfound sense of wholeness and acceptance within yourself. It will teach you to appreciate all aspects of you.
  • Outer Growth-Shakti- Transformation- You are changing, and it this is reflected in your relationships and how you relate to others. The life force generated from this growth process will radiate through you in new ways, drawing new connections to you. You may surprise people around you with your energy. It is shifting every day, and you may feel a bit awkward sometimes. Just keep trusting that this change is needed and part of your growth process. You are reaching out to the world and changing everything you touch with a bit of magick. You are a divine being full of creative power to change the world. This this is beginning to radiate outward and will transform your life in many ways. Your growth serves as a way to transform the lives of others. You are transforming the world around you simply by being yourself.

Your growth and renewal is imminent, but like anything in nature- it is a process. Be patient with it, and trust that while sometimes we can grow in leaps and bounds, it most often happens one step at a time.

This Spring Equinox/Alban Eiler/Ostara, may you see with clarity, as the dark and light are in balance. May you thrive and grow in beauty and strength.

Blessed Be,

Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Oh My Goddess, I’m 40!

As I near my 40th birthday, I have been taking stock of my path over the years, and how my relationship with the Goddess has changed.

In many ways, it hasn’t changed, but my embodied experience of her has.

The Goddess’ energies of Maiden, Mother, Enchantress and Crone have danced in my life in many ways at different times in my life. I noticed each aspect holds a unique experience of embodiment for me.

Stages of Life

I feel the energies of Maiden, Mother, Enchantress & Crone can be experienced by anyone at any stage of life. Generally though, there are lessons pertaining to each aspect of the Goddess during specific stages in our lives. We may experience these aspects more physically, emotionally or psychologically.

From Georgina Catling’s Yoni Oracle Deck

It is a rough estimate, but generally our ‘Maiden’ years range from our teens to late twenties. This is where we are experimenting, finding ourselves, placing our own self-discovery and independence to the forefront. We may resonate with a Goddess who expresses these qualities of independence and adventurousness at this time of life.

Our ‘Mother’ years may span from the late twenties to early fourties. This is the stage where our focus is on nurturing relationships, creative projects, careers and/or family. We may connect with a Goddess who expresses these nurturing and creative qualities at this time of our life.

Our ‘Enchantress years may span anywhere between the late thirties to late fifties. This is about magic, transformation and authenticity, a time where we often need to reasses our life and make changes that reflect who we really are. We may find a Goddess at this stage who helps us to navigate change at this time.

The ‘Crone’ years may begin around 60 and beyond. This time is about embodying wisdom, acceptance, cultivating our spirituality and inner peace. A goddess who helps support this within us may resonate at this time.

I feel it is possible that any type of goddess can show themselves at any time in our lives that we need them and their lessons and gifts. They don’t have to follow the pattern I outlined above. My experience did not follow the pattern, exactly.

This is a little bit about my journey, which centres on the physical, embodied experience I’ve had in relation to these different aspects of the Goddess…

Maiden- Finding Her

In my early 20s, my sense of the Goddess was outside of myself. At first, she was elusive, an energy that I was trying to find within myself but struggled to connect with. At that age, due to social conditioning, I felt my body was not my own. Representations of the feminine who I was supposed to emulate and look to for guidance were either hypersexualized or repressively ‘virginal’. I did not know or feel that I was Goddess-like or even wanted to connect with her.

Then I started to feel a connection to the Goddess through her guise as Earth Mother, which made her more tangible and real to me. I felt her whenever I was in nature. Her imperfections helped me feel at ease with my own. I felt I could rest in her arms if I needed. I felt I could connect my body to hers. I could see her everywhere, and feel the healing balm of her stability, nurturance and beauty wherever I was.

A Cedar’s womb

I was practicing and teaching yoga at this time. I found myself subtly weaving my relationship to the Earth Mother into my practice and my classes. Yoga helped me to reclaim my own body and worthiness. This naturally fit with my relationship with the Earth Goddess. In an attempt to be more in tune with nature, I went off the pill and my natural cycles began, but they were extremely painful and debilitating.

The Earth Mother expression of the Goddess served as a calming tonic to my womb troubles, which weren’t so bad, at first. I began to consciously construct a practice around this. I was drawn to pagan books and began to learn more about witchcraft, the goddess, following moon cycles and celebrating the seasons. Doing this helped me reclaim my cyclical nature and see the reflection of the earth and cosmos within my body, even though my cyclical experience was sometimes painful.

I soon found I was also drawn to a darker aspect of the goddess- the ones who help us go through the underworld. Goddesses like Inanna, Kali, and Persephone resonated.

My womb pain began to increase steadily despite the support of the Earth Mother. I did not know at this time that I had endometriosis. I took up bellydancing and followed my instincts to dance and use movement as a pain-transmuting practice. I found a balance between the deep, transformative, Dark Goddess and the grounding, gentle Earth Mother Goddess. I honored these aspects of her nature through movement, dance and natural forms of healing.

Me dancing in the forest

Mother- Embodying Her

At age 25 I became pregnant. It felt that this was a new stage in my relationship with Goddess. It was a very embodied experience of her energy, and specifically her power. My pregnancy and birth went well. The strength of a warrior is needed to become a mother, and I felt a new level of embodied feminine strength and fierceness through this new role.

We always think of the Mother in her nurturing aspect as gentle- baking cookies, cuddles and soothing words or lullabies, however she is also the fierce protective mama bear who would kill to protect her child and die for them.

I cherished and honored the ability to carry life and birth my daughter. I was so lucky to be able to conceive and give birth with my condition. I was blessed with an amazing child. But like for any mother, the intense self-sacrifice necessary to raise a child began to wear on my body and soul.

Me & my daughter 2009

It came time to take back some of my sovereignty and independence in order to balance this intensely giving energy.

Around 30, my womb health began worsening quickly and steadily. I was tired, anemic and in pain much of the time. I was struggling, taking evening classes, studying to be a natural health pracititoner. I was trying to build an avenue of work for myself while also being at home with my daughter. My body, however, was telling me I needed to get more serious about my womb health.

I eventually developed endometriomas (endometriosis-related cysts) on my ovaries and became so debilitated I could no longer walk or go to the bathroom without intense pain. My mental health suffered as I swung between anxiety and depression. After years of trying all forms of natural healing modalities and spending hundreds of dollars on natural health practitioners, I realised I had to take this condition more seriously. In my early 30s my doctor sent me to see a specialist and finally get surgery.

It was around this time that I was called into relationship with the Egyptian goddess Isis.  Goddess of magick, motherhood and healing. She is also a Queen, her name meaning ‘She of the throne’.  She was with me to help me reclaim my sovereignty, and to heal my womb.

From Marashinsky & Janto’s The Goddess Oracle deck

Isis was always quickly at my side to bring me relief when I needed it. I remember one night I was in severe pain. (My endo pain was often worse than my labour pains.) This was one of those times I wasn’t sure if I could make it through. I called on Isis to please heal the pain. I felt/saw her merge with me. My body began to shake vigorously until the pain subsided completely. I went to sleep peacefully.

I developed a faith in Isis that was strong, tangible and powerful. She reminded me that I could heal. She also helped me reclaim my inner sovereignty as mother and wife- she told me that I could hold love and boundaries in my heart at the same time. This was a new concept for me, but essential to learning to take care of myself.

At age 33, I finally had my surgery for stage 4 endometriosis. I felt so much relief, but still had some pain and bleeding issues, which were likely related to adenomyosis, a cousin to my condition. I had to take medication to keep the severe pain and bleeding from returning.

Enchantress- Deepening Into Her

In my mid-thirties, my relationship with Isis went into the background and I found myself in situations that tested this newfound embodied ease and integrity that came with no longer being in chronic pain.

My medication kept me much more mentally stable and I was able to see with more clarity and calm what I wanted and needed. My daughter was older and more independent. I had a lot more energy at my disposal. I had newfound confidence in taking charge of my life. I saw clearly what needed to change.

Irish battle goddess the Morrighan came to me in these years, passing me her sword to cut unhealthy ties and habits from my life. She was a force to be reckoned with. Working with her changed me deeply. She showed up whenever I felt intense fear, vulnerability or needed to stand up for myself.

The Morrighan

The Morrighan is a goddess I would classify as having strong transformational ‘enchantress’ energy, and she showed up when I started to feel a deeper need for authenticity and authority in my life. My marriage went through a deep restructuring at this time, and thankfully it survived.  My relationship with family and friends also met with this sword. The Morrighan helped me set boundaries and value self-protection. I learned how to honor myself and create what I wanted instead of being a victim.

Without the limits of pain on my mobility, I began to run, lift weights and build muscle, coinciding with the internal strength I was developing. The Morrighan helped me embody a new level of fitness, fierceness and inner sovereignty. This felt a necessary experience in order to navigate the Enchantress years- which are all about transformation. This is the stage of life I feel I have been slowly entering.

Crone- Becoming Her

I am not in my Crone phase of life yet, but Cerridwen, most often depicted as a Crone goddess, has made herself a strong guide for me in the last couple years.

Cerridwen first made herself tangible to me when we went on a trip to southern Wales in 2019. On that trip our daily plans kept shifting due to weather, unforeseen closures and other nudges from the universe. We ended up wandering into the most beautiful, unexpected and quiet places.

Yews at Capel-Y-Ffin, Brecon Beacons, Wales.

It was these quiet moments at wells, caves, and in Yew groves where I felt an aspect of the Goddess that was deeply needed. A deep, ancient, wise grandmotherly energy. A mystical, all-encompassing , dark feminine energy that I still can’t fully describe. It feels like coming home to my soul.

My meditations at that time kept bringing me to sea caves and the shores of a beautiful lake, where a wise, older woman was always stirring her cauldron. She was simply there, waiting for me to visit. She would let me release what I needed into the cauldron, or she would share a bowlful of something from it to nourish me. Sometimes she wanted me to peer into it and simply ‘see’, or scry.

It wasn’t until some months later that I realised this was Cerridwen calling me, which coincided with the pandemic.

Cerridwen has an energy that helps me to surrender and embrace necessary endings in life. This has been helpful through all the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic.

My relationship with Cerridwen has been like the calm eye in the middle of the storm. It helps to centre me, as well as let go of my attachment to how I want things to be. She dissolves these things in her cauldron, asking me to open to her deep, wise presence within me.

My painting of Cerridwen

For the last few years, my medication has caused several symptoms mimicking peri-menopause and menopause. These complaints are minor compared to the intensity of the pain I used to have, so I am very grateful and accepting of this. But it hasn’t always been easy, as I am not quite peri-menopausal yet.

The combination of this somewhat menopausal experience in my body, understanding chronic pain, raising a teenager and being married to an older man, means I sometimes feel I have more in common with women older than me than women my own age.

While later than previous generations, many folks my age are just settling down and starting a family now, or maybe just starting to feel the body’s limitations creeping in. Caring for their aging partner may not have crossed their mind yet.

Aging is something I hope to do gracefully and well. Something I will accept more and more with time. There are lovely older women in my life that I admire. I hope to carry Cerridwen’s Crone wisdom with me into the future, navigating my Enchantress years with her .

For now, I honour all the ways in which the Goddess has danced with me and continues to teach me.

How do you feel you embody Goddess energy? Is it something that has changed over time? How has your relationship with Goddess and your body changed as you grow older?

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Tending to our Inner Hearth + Meditation Video

What does ‘coming home to oneself’ mean?

What does it feel like to truly belong and dwell within our physical body?

What ignites our inner fire, the central core of our vitality and wellbeing?

These are questions I contemplate regularly, but especially around the time of Imbolc and early spring, when we welcome the return of the light around us and ignite our inner spark of inspiration within.

As a work-at-home mother with a history of severe chronic pelvic pain, my healing journey has led me to spend a lot of time trying to feel a sense of belonging in my own body, while also creating a nourishing home for myself and family. This also coincided with my path as a Hearthwitch, tending to my inner Hearth as well as the Hearth of my home. I unwittingly became a keeper of the hearth- within and without.

The Hearth of the Home

The hearth is traditionally where the fire is lit and is a place for cooking, nourishment, gathering and belonging. Before electricity, the hearth was a central source of sustenance and therefore was the centre of the home.

Modern houses with fully equipped kitchens are still often built with fireplaces inside, which is a testament to how important the hearth is to our sense of being at home- physically and emotionally.

Just think of how much we love to have campfires in the summer. Even though we have electricity, our primal instincts crave the warmth, gathering and sense of ‘coming home’ that sitting around a campfire brings.

This isn’t to say that to feel at home, one needs a fireplace or a firepit. Every dwelling has a spiritual centre- a hearth in which people feel drawn to gather, to feel nourished, to settle. This can even be the corner of a small bachelor apartment or room. It is important though, that in order to truly feel nourished by the hearth that it is tended to and taken care of.

As a Hearthwitch, keeping my home is a sacred practice. I have a fireplace in the living room which serves as the sacred hearth of our home. The entire home is designated as sacred space, and I tend to each room in this way, but the living room is a point of gathering for sacred ceremonies, so I pay special attention to the energy in that space. It has strong healing energy that helps restore us at the end of a long day, even if we are just watching Netflix. Its energy always helps bring us deep within ourselves, feeling safe, held, and supported.

Just like in a house, there is an energetic hearth within each one of us, which allows us to feel at home within ourselves, wherever we may be. Just like the hearth in a house, it requires tending.

In one’s own abode

The energetic hearth within is connected to our womb space and pelvic bowl.

The sacral chakra resides in the pelvic bowl and is named ‘Svadhisthana’- meaning ‘in one’s own abode’.

I love the feeling this depicts, the feeling of being truly at home within oneself and one’s body. I resonate with its connection to the pelvic bowl- the womb being the first home each of us experienced before we were born into this world.

In my womb healing journey I explored the depth of my triggers and wounds that lay in the pelvic bowl, physically and energetically. It took years of unraveling the emotional and energetic blockages to create a sense of comfort being in the body I have.

I can now say that I mostly feel at home in this body, even when it is uncomfortable, and alongside medical treatment, much of this has had to do with tending my inner hearth. The process of learning how to truly dwell ‘in my own abode’, in a metaphorical sense.

What is the Inner Hearth?

Like the warm flames of a fireplace, this is the part within us that lights up with excitement when we are passionate about something, the place we feel our inner spark or desire to create something, the place we feel alive, with warmth, passion and vitality.

It is also the feeling of being comfortable and at home within ourselves. Sometimes the hearth flames run hot and high when we are feeling very passionate, sometimes they are gentle low flames or glowing embers when we are feeling calm, comfortable, warm and radiant.

Our Inner Hearth can be felt in many ways and many areas of the body. It isn’t limited to the pelvic bowl. You may feel this sense of ‘home’ and warmth in your abdomen, heart, or even in your head.

The Irish Hearth Goddess Brighid is sometimes depicted with flames coming out of her head, associated with inspiration and spiritual connection. So, we are not limited to feeling our inner hearth within our core- the head or crown centre may also light up when we are feeling inspired with new ideas or spiritual awareness.

From the Goddess Oracle by Janto-Marashinsky

Where in your body do you feel a sense of being settled, centered within, and at home in yourself? What activities help bring you into this state of being? What makes you feel you are no longer at home within, or outside of yourself?

When we Leave Home

It is important to note that trauma and wounding can make it challenging to feel at home within our body. Dissociation is a normal trauma response and many of us have reasons why we cannot really feel at home in our body. Honor yourself, your unique body and history. As I mentioned, my healing journey has been about healing these wounds, which has taken years. Feeling outside of my body was the norm before that. It can be helpful to work with a therapist or trauma-informed embodiment practitioner to help heal.

If you are an empath, a sensitive person or a bit of a people pleaser (as I have been much of my life), you may notice that certain people or activities pull you out of your sense of ‘home’ within. For instance, if you work with people closely, you may find yourself jumping out of yourself to attune to their needs, communication style, or rhythm of doing things. Many of us do this unconsciously, and often do it to meet others where they are at in order to help them, or get closer to them. Perhaps, whenever you fall in love you become whomever the other person wants you to be or sees you as, instead of dwelling within yourself.

These are just things to notice and recognise. Cultivating a healthy sense of self, boundaries and inner awareness are all part of tending the inner hearth.

Inner Hearth Meditation

I created this meditation to support my inner hearth and yours. It serves to re-ignite your inner strength, passion, inspiration and light you up from the inside. It is especially helpful if you feel down, heavy, uninspired, unmotivated, scattered, ‘outside yourself’ or if you simply want a pick me up. Try it out!

May you thrive and glow with the strength of your inner light,

Xo

Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Imbolc Oracle Reading- Seeds of New life

Imbolc marks the point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, and its traditions stem from Celtic celebrations of the very beginnings of spring. Here in Canada, we are still far from visible signs of spring, but the light is noticeably increasing and along with it, the hope and optimism of warmer days to come.

The Earth Mother is still resting but deep below, the potential of new life stirs. Within our creative cauldron, the seeds of this year’s harvest begin to awaken us to their potential.

Imbolc is said to be derived from old Irish, meaning ‘in the belly’ referring to pregnant ewes. The promise of new birth and the nourishment of ewe’s milk signify the hope and renewal this season symbolises. The Irish goddess Brighid- Goddess of healing, fertility, the hearth, smithcraft and poetry is also venerated at this time.

In Wales, this celebration is called Gwyl Mair, the feast of Mary, and it aligns with the Christian Candlemas and our Groundhog day, with overlapping themes of purification, light, divining the future and preparation for spring.

Similar to the ‘nesting’ instinct a pregnant mother experiences, we may start to feel the desire to prepare for new life coming in spring. We don’t really know what awaits us yet, we must follow our intuition and trust our instincts to lead us in the right direction. We may declutter our home, our psyche or cleanse our body in preparation for this mysterious new life to come. At some point in the coming weeks, we may begin to feel some clarity on a new desire, goal or vision for the year ahead and take our first baby steps towards it. We may feel drawn to make changes in our life to support the future self we are birthing.

Imbolc Oracle Spread

Imbolc is traditionally a time for divination. Groundhog Day is very similar to traditions in Europe where the habits of animals were seen as ways of predicting when winter will end. Even though the light is increasing, darkness continues to reign and therefore divination can really be a guiding light to help us forward.  

I don’t personally wait for a special day to do divination, as it is part of my daily practice and lifestyle! But I tend to create new variations of spreads for the sabbats, just to change things up for myself. Here is my Imbolc one below…

Imbolc Spread: Seeds of New Life

Seeds: This position speaks to the potential incubating within. It may represent an idea, feeling, or the message regarding your seeds for the year.

Resistance: This position speaks to resistance or obstacles to clear in order for the seed to grow. Often around Imbolc we can be faced with challenges such as self-doubt, fear or insecurity. This card shows the nature of these challenges.

Light: This card is like the sunlight shining down on your seeds, pulling them towards growth. It speaks to the energy that brings you growth and renewal. It asks that rather than actively working on this energy, simply open and surrender to it.

Next Step: This card points you to the next baby step to take. It will help you clear the Resistance and/or embrace the Light card.

Try this spread with your favorite deck or book a reading with me!

Below is a reading for you, using the Goddess Power Oracle Deck by Colette Baron Reid.

Seeds- Danu- Assurance:

It’s been hard to feel a whole lot of hope these days. Endless pandemic burnout may be affecting you and your ability to believe in yourself and your ability to even dream or hope or create new life again. Danu, Celtic Mother goddess brings her assurance and steadfast strength to remind you that indeed you CAN create new life again, your dreams ARE valid, and you WILL be renewed!

She brings the assurance of the turning of the seasons, the warmth and growth of spring as guaranteed after this fallow period. As the Earth Mother, she reminds us of the importance of cycles and divine timing. Relax into the certainty of growth. She places her hands on your shoulders and asks you breathe in her assurance and trust all is manifesting in perfect timing, in the perfect way. Find the spark of confidence within. Whatever seed of desire you feel within, BELIEVE in its manifestation. It is promised.

Resistance- Metis-Wisdom:

Do you feel small or inexperienced? Do you feel imposter syndrome? Do you feel that your desire won’t manifest because you aren’t wise or powerful enough to make it so? Greek Goddess Metis reminds us wisdom comes with both knowledge and experience. We all have our unique wisdom to share.

Sometimes when we are faced with something new, we are afraid to take the first step because we won’t be good at it, we won’t be as good as someone else. We need to be willing to be a beginner sometimes, to make mistakes and learn from them. We must be willing to not be perfect.

We are all in a process of becoming. What lessons have you learned from last year? What wisdom have you gained? Is there deep wisdom within you need to recognise and share?

Our challenge is our willingness to embrace the wisdom we have and to keep walking our path towards greater wisdom.

How can you apply your experience and wisdom to the challenges you face now? Is there someone wise and knowledgeable you can reach out to?

Light-Kali-Liberation:

The fierce Hindu goddess Kali shines upon your seeds of rebirth, asking you to surrender to the process of shedding old skins, past selves and others’ ideas of who you are in order to grow. She asks you to liberate yourself by being authentic and true to yourself. Let go of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what will they think?’ thoughts in your mind. Let go of the roles that stifle and restrict you, you are done with them. Life may have been shining the light on some truths about yourself or your upbringing that aren’t serving you anymore and it is best to simply let those habits and roles fall away now.

Turn your face up towards the light of Kali, shining her truth, authenticity and liberation upon you. Let your natural instincts guide you towards what feels like freedom and liberation from the past and your desires will start to manifest. Take a moment to breathe the energy of liberation into your body. What would it feel like to break free? Feel yourself becoming lighter and brighter and you courageously allow yourself to take up a bit more space! Surrender to this process of lightening and letting go.

Next Step- Hera-Alliance:

Your next step is to connect with your allies. These can be people with whom you resonate and vibrate harmoniously with. They can also be spirit guides, plant or animal allies that support your inner strength, resilience, and growth.

Sometimes we feel we are all alone on our path. We may feel that no one understands us, or that we must bear our burdens alone. Greek goddess Hera reminds us that we don’t exist in a vacuum, we are interdependent beings, and strengthening our relationships serves to strengthen us as well.  

Regarding the Resistance card message, we may wish to ally ourselves with those who are knowledgeable and wise, those we admire for their wisdom, who bring out our own wisdom or encourage us to keep learning and growing on our unique path.

Regarding the Light card message, it is important that our allies serve our authentic needs, growth and liberation from old patterns. We need to be discerning in our choice of friends, teachers, collaborators and partners. If a relationship forces us into an outworn role or story with no room for change and growth, then it might not be with someone we would consider an ally. The next step is to reach out to someone you feel you resonate with, who supports your authenticity and growth.

Take your time, be gentle as you incubate your precious new beginnings, my friend. May the Goddess support you on your path, assuring you that all will happen in divine timing.

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”― Gabriel García Márquez

Are you interested in learning more about Imbolc and delving deeper into its energies? Join me for our online Imbolc Circle: Nacent Beginnings, this Friday, Feb 4th @7pm!

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Beyond Smoke Cleansing: 10 Powerful Ways to Clear Your Energy

We live in energetically heavy times. Carrying stressful thoughts and emotions can contribute to illness and challenge our mental health. Whether these energies stem from within us or our environment (or both), ritual cleansing can be an important part of our energetic hygiene, especially for the sensitive among us.

Burning plant matter such as resins, leaves, bark and flowers with specific properties to clear the negative energy from a space is done in many cultures all over the world and has been for a long time. This can be a desirable and effective way to clear the vibes around us and in our space. I love smoke cleansing, but it’s not the only effective method!

In recent years smoke cleansing has become ultra-popular in mainstream culture. Specifically, the appropriation of Indigenous smudging took the world by storm and has had serious consequences, such as the over-harvesting of white sage and palo santo, as well as furthering the harmful cultural genocide of Indigenous people that began with colonization and continues today.

Thankfully, many pagans are now learning about this and are instead learning the smoke cleansing practices of their ancestors using other herbs & methods, or perhaps respectfully learning the teachings behind smudging from Indigenous folks (when/if offered), learning about colonization and supporting these communities. Many Indigenous folks believe smudging should be a closed practice and that sage should never be bought or sold, only gifted or grown/harvested oneself. I feel it is important to listen to and respect these voices, even though not everyone feels the same. (Indigenous folks are diverse, not a monolith). You may wish to listen to Revolutionary Mystic’s take on this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRu8UWr8KpI

In all this smoke, we can forget that there are plenty of other ways to cleanse ourselves energetically! There are many places and times when smoke may not be accessible, nor even the most effective way to transmute negative energy, so let’s explore some other amazing options…

Sound:

Sound is vibration and a very powerful energetic purifier. Really, any instrument can be used to shift one’s own energy or the energy in a space. Even recorded music has an effect. When you are feeling heavy or down, find a song that can help you feel better. Put on your favourite album. Or, if you enjoy making your own sound, you may wish to try drumming or chimes. I especially love Koshi chimes and find them to be very useful at shifting my energy and the energy within my space.

 

Koshi Chimes- Earth

Breath:

We always have breath with us, and it doesn’t cost us a thing. If you are feeling stressed or angry, take a moment and inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. Try blowing the air out like you are blowing out birthday candles.

You can take this a step further with visualization. Imagine you are inhaling clearing, white light and exhaling out black smoke.

Speaking of sound, allowing sound to come out is very helpful! Try inhaling through the nose and exhaling a big sigh. Then on the next exhale try letting the most natural sound come out, even if it’s a nasty growl or sounds a bit monstrous!

Movement:

Our body usually holds onto negative energy, so moving it helps to move it out! Walking, dancing, or a vigorous workout can transmute anger, rage, depression or hopelessness.

If you are frustrated working from your desk, you can lift your arms over your head as you inhale, then as you exhale, lower your arms down, blowing out the mouth like in the breathing exercise above. Add sound. Notice how you feel.

A Bath or Shower:

As an empath and watery soul, water seems to be my preferred element for cleansing. If you’ve had a long day working with people, being in a crowd, or feeling a buildup of toxic emotion, a shower or bath or a swim in a lake can be extremely soothing and purifying. I like to add Epsom salts or sea salts to my baths for extra cleansing power.

*Sidenote: Whenever we resource something from the earth to energetically cleanse, I feel it is important to thank the spirit being- the spirit of the water, plant, rock, etc. for its help. So, while a regular shower or bath can clear us energetically, it becomes much more powerful when we add prayer, intention and gratitude. We connect to the element in relationship. This is the difference between a mundane activity and a ritual.

Aromatherapy Spray:

This is my favourite alternative to smoke cleansing, and why I sell my sprays! I was trained in aromatherapy, so I understand the energetic and chemical properties behind the essential oils and how to blend them. I list a few of my favourite essential oils and their properties here. Sometimes, I find my sprays make a stronger impact than smoke cleansing, perhaps because essential oils are more concentrated, or perhaps because water is more dense and makes a stronger impact on my sticky aura that picks up everything around it.

Sprinkling Water:

Like smoke cleansing, this is another cleansing ritual that has been done in different religions and cultures all over the world. I am not sure of its exact origins, and there are difference nuances to how this is performed culturally. But it is common in pagan practices to sprinkle a space to cleanse it and around ourselves reciting a little chant or prayer. Sometimes it is as simple as saying ‘I cleanse myself and my space with the power of water’. Sometimes saltwater is used.

Drinking enough water in your day can really help the body purify and therefore affect your energetic health too! It is important to connect with the spirit of the water, and the source of the water if possible as well, giving thanks.

Steam pot:

Similar to a spray but without the cost and concentration of essential oils, you can boil herbs, roots, and fruits on the stove and let the steam flow around you and through the house. This will give it a wonderful smell (assuming you boil wonderful smelling things). This is nice to do when ill, and if you boil herbs or bark you can drink as a tea, even better! When ill or feeling low, I like to make either cedar tea or a mix of garden sage,rosemary, thyme and lemon. Cinnamon is nice too! The possibilities are endless.  

Besom/Broom:

homemade wheat besom

A housekeeping tradition found all over the world is to clean one’s space with a broom. Traditionally, in the UK a broom was called a besom, and made of tied birch twigs to a larger branch handle made of ash, hazel or chestnut. Eventually, broomcorn came into use, which is the material we typically see in regular brooms today.  

The broom/besom is also used as a sacred tool for energetic cleansing. It can be used to sweep negative energy out of a room, or off oneself. I use a small besom for personal sweeping, and I also fashioned one of wheat and other dried flowers and herbs. I sweep my body lightly from head to toe to remove negative energy.

The Earth:

Wherever we go, we walk on the earth. The Earth can help transmute negative energy. This practice is best in a place where the earth is happy and doing well, so if you’re living downtown in a large city, find a healthy, decent sized park rather than bothering a poor lone tree in the concrete jungle.

Let the earth know you are looking for a good place to transmute negative energy. Wait until you find a place that seems to be inviting you to it. Be patient, my urbanite friends, this may mean a longer walk or a bit of a trek. It could be a tree that draws you, or a patch of grass or sand. My fave local spot here in Toronto is the sandy water’s edge on Lake Ontario, but you may have another spot you like or a large tree in a park who doesn’t mind grounding your energy.

Birch is a lovely friend who helps me feel clearer

When you find your spot and the tree or earth says it will help you, simply sit and place your palms face down on the earth and imagine any negative energy flowing out from your hands, feet and the base of your spine, into the ground to be transmuted. If appropriate, you may wish to lay on the ground or sit with your back up against a tree. Breathe in the energy of the earth or the tree. Exhale any negative energy out. When you feel more balanced, thank the earth.

I always leave an offering if I am asking anything of a tree or the earth. You can leave herbs, safe food for local animals, or Sema (tobacco) if that is your tradition. Give thanks.

Wind, Rain & Sun:

Wind– When you are outside on a windy day, ask the wind to take your stressful thoughts away. Combine it with the breathing exercise above.

Rain– If it is raining, allow the water to help cleanse and refresh your mind and heart. Imagine each drop capturing your stresses and washing them away.

Sun– When the sun shines, lift your gaze to the sky, open your heart and ask the sun to purify you. Feel its warmth penetrating any negativity and transmuting it into love.

The elements are always here for us, all around us, part of us. Sometimes we just needs to remember to take notice, receive the Earth Mother’s gifts and give thanks.

There are many other ways I haven’t even mentioned to clear energy. What methods do you use? Which ones do you feel like trying?

May your energy be bright and clear this full moon and may all that needs to be released, go with ease.

Niagara Falls Rainbow

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Dancing With the Sacred Unknown

We are collectively in uncharted waters. Much of what we have known and relied upon has been washed away, requiring constant flexibility and resilience as we swim to keep our heads above water as best as we can. It is as though the solid ground beneath us has given way to water.

Sometimes, in times like these, our best option is to float.

When we float is there is nothing but water and sky, and we are held in suspension- it seems as though we are outside of time and space, heart open to the vast unknown. Depending on your comfort level with water, this can feel super scary or total bliss (or both!). Whether the water is still or pulsing with waves, it can still hold us up.

Without struggling or striving, we can rest into that support, even as it ebbs and flows. This can feel like a gift to our souls as we remember what it feels like to be a babe in the great Goddess’ womb, part of the origins of life itself.

These times of transition and uncertainty ask us to take a break from striving and feel what it might be like to be held by something greater.

Allowing ourselves to be held by something greater doesn’t necessarily mean we give up on things that matter to us and do nothing about our circumstance or situation. It is not a complete surrender of our free will, agency or engagement with the material world. No.

It is a practice of remembering that we are not always in control. It is accepting what we cannot change and at the same time allowing ourselves to open to greater potentiality within ourselves. Like floating on the water, we can accept the flow and open to what new directions and awareness the experience might bring. We remain curious, aware and open to something bigger than us to take us where we need to be. When we are attuned to the flow, we will better know how and where to swim.

Divine Darkness

The Dark Mother energy of Cerridwen has been incredibly healing and helpful to me in navigating this uncharted territory. It is not surprising that she showed up shortly before the pandemic began.

Cerridwen Banner by Wendy Andrews

Dark Goddesses are not dark in nature so much as they are present and supportive to us when we are in dark times. Times when we cannot see what lies ahead, transitional times, times when we are meeting our shadow face to face or healing and moving through trauma. Dark Goddesses bring the wisdom, strength and lessons we need in order to navigate these challenges.

In my life, when one of these Goddesses shows up, it is an indication that I am going to be doing some deeper work or going on an inner underworld journey.  

Through my relationship with Cerridwen, I have been practicing trust, surrender and being held by The Mystery. Cerridwen’s cauldron is the dark womb of potential and rebirth. This dark womb/cauldron imagery is something I work with regularly. 

So much of Cerridwen’s energy, gifts and lessons in my experience is about that surrender to something larger. Trusting this divine energy to hold me in the sacred unknown. In Cerridwen’s deep cosmic cauldron, I feel safely held, yet open to vast potential. It is a very nameless, dark, void-like space at times.

Emptiness & The Creative Cycle

I was feeling quite creatively barren and empty when Cerridwen showed up. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel of new ideas, passion or motivation. I felt the emptiness had come with the end of a chapter and awaiting a new beginning. I was struggling to feel engaged or excited about anything. Cerridwen, as the goddess of inspiration, came into my sphere.

But she didn’t just bestow an abundance of passions and inspiration upon me out of thin air. She beckoned that I come and spend time with Her first. She is named the goddess of Inspiration, because it is through the challenging experience of transformation and surrender to the dark womb of nothingness, that inspiration can be born.

I felt a strong draw to Her, and began to read about Her, connect with Her, and follow her mysterious trail of will o’ the wisps towards Her cauldron, and entered into its mysteries.

My big cauldron

In a nutshell, the cauldron transformed me. It recognised what needed to be released, where I needed to be strengthened and the process is still continuing today.

I have not emerged from the cauldron yet. I am still releasing and transforming within it. In letting go of old habits and becoming aware of my true inner light and strength, I am more trusting in myself and my ability to float and swim.

As I go through this journey with Cerridwen in Her cauldron, my inspiration is increasing. I am feeling more connected to what stirs my passion and aligned with my authentic self. I am also more comfortable with the unknown and finding ways to dance with it.

I recognise that life moves in cycles and new life always emerges from the emptiness. We don’t always know how the new life will show up, but it always does. So, I am looking forward to the continued emergence and growth that is sourced from that original emptiness I surrendered to. I trust that it will flourish in its own way and timing.

The Sacred Unknown

There is something sacred about the transitional times in life. Dawn, dusk, birth, death, those moments when we are neither here nor there, between versions of ourselves, ways of being in the world. These are sacred times. We are closer than ever to the source of life at these times, and while they are often uncomfortable, lonely, traumatic, or unbearable, they are the times when we are most held by something greater.

These are the times dark goddesses and spirit guides have made themselves clearly known to me. I have met important healers and had serendipitous experiences that changed the course of my life during these times.

Sometimes we have to be broken down in order to open up. I find it interesting that the word ‘scared’ is in the word ‘sacred’. I feel that moving through our deepest fears can be a deeply spiritual experience, because it can change us forever and help us grow.

It is important however, during these transitional times, to hold safe space for ourselves and ensure we have someone who can hold safe space for us, as safety is necessary in order to truly grow from our depths. The cauldron represents the sacred container that allows us to do so.

Water, Darkness & Reflection

I feel that it is important while we are going through times like these that we take time to look back and reflect on how far we’ve come.

How have you become more braver? stronger? More adaptable? What have you let go of? What new things have you opened up to? How have you changed?

It is also a good time to explore our relationship to the element of water and to darkness.

How do you feel about going with the flow? What have you learned from navigating change? How do you find your way when you cannot see what’s ahead? How do you cope with uncertainty?

Rituals for Being Held by the Dark Womb/Primordial Source:

I invite you to try connecting to the dark womb/primordial source as a way to cultivate trust in the unknown. It is something I enjoy doing.

If you have a bathtub, you can try taking a bath at night, with all the lights out. Imagine you are resting in the great goddess’ womb, merging with the primordial source of being. Silence is a very powerful accompaniment to this, just listening to the sound of your own breathing. However if that is too challenging, you may wish to play some deeply relaxing music. I suggest Deep Sleep by Calm Collective, Long Ambients by Moby or Voyage by Garth Stevenson. Simply rest in the darkness and feel as you are held within the womb.

You can recite the following affirmations:

I am safe. I am held. I am safe and held in the dark womb. I trust in divine timing. My time to birth will come. I now rest in the sacred unknown.

If you do not have a bathtub, or don’t feel comfortable in water, you can also lie down on your bed in darkness (if you cannot make your room completely dark, try wearing a blindfold). This makes sense to do at bedtime. Relax into bed, and imagine you are floating in the middle of a lake at night under a sky full of stars. You are warm and snuggled in the covers. Imagine you are within the Great Mother’s Womb, held safely. Connect to the silence, following the sound of your breath in and out. Or, if you’d rather, you can play relaxing music as I suggested above. Say the affirmations above to yourself.

You may also wish to visit a float spa, such as H2O Float Studio here in Toronto. Or, if it is warm where you are, go ahead and float on an actual body of water.

May the changes of these times create a relationship with darkness that is no longer one of fear, but of deep comfort, like the darkness of the womb, the darkness that is the source of life.

xo Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

9 Ways to Protect Your Energy- For Sensitive Souls

During the winter season, the darkness and cold means we are vulnerable not only to harsher weather and viruses, but also negative energies. When we lack Mother Earth’s abundance of medicines and the sun’s warm rays to nourish us, we need to shield ourselves energetically and feed our hearts and souls with some extra love and care!

What is Negative Energy?

Negative energies can come in the form of harmful thoughts, emotions, intentions, rogue entities and spirits. We can essentially pick up these energies just as we can pick up viruses from one another. We also can send these energies to others- either consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes energy isn’t necessarily negative at first, but if it collects and stagnates it can become harmful. Energy must continuously flow so it doesn’t get stuck.

Much of how we pick stuff up and carry it has to do with our energetic immune system, which is similar to (and linked to) our physical immune system.

Energetically, our thoughts, feelings and emotions are intimately tied to our body. Generally, feeling emotionally low can increase our likelihood of feeling physically ill, and vice versa. So, it is important to take care of one’s body and health as a form of energetic protection.

Empaths, Sensitives & Intuitives

It can be hard for the sensitive among us to live in this world. For years we grow up thinking something is wrong with us, that we are flawed or weak or somehow less capable than the average person, when really, we are processing a ton more information on more levels and this requires an extra level of personal responsibility and self-care.

You may be an empathic person, which means you pick up others’ emotions easily and may carry them as your own. You may feel easily overwhelmed when with other people and burnout when in a crowd. It is important if you are an empathic person to create and maintain emotional boundaries and learn to strengthen your inner sense of self to prevent sapping your energy or forming co-dependent relationships.  

You may be energetically sensitive person and find that you feel the vibes in a place or coming from people very easily. You may be more sensitive to your environment than most people, responding strongly to stimulation like noise, light and activity. You might find that you are sensitive to the energy around you, but it isn’t necessarily on the emotional level, like with an empath.

If you are an intuitive person, you may be empathic and/or sensitive, but you also are attuned to the spirit world. Perhaps you see or sense entities and spirits of those who have passed on, perhaps you are psychic and see, hear or feel things others cannot. With this added layer of awareness comes an added vulnerability to ill-intentioned spirits, so protection becomes very important.

Energetic protection is important for everyone, but it is especially for sensitives, empaths and intuitive folks. It is also important for those of us living in big cities surrounded by lots of people, or those who work with people in vulnerable situations or life and death situations.

Being Responsible With Our Energy

Almost everyone at one time or another has felt negative emotions or had negative thoughts about someone else—it is human nature. But as we grow in self-awareness, we need to be careful of how we direct our energy because our thoughts, feelings and intentions affect our environment. We can often reach another person with our thoughts and intentions, causing actual physical illness or make them feel unwell, anxious or depressed. It is very important that we not only protect our own energy, but that we be aware of how our thoughts, feelings and intentions affect others. If we feel strong hate or anger towards someone, sometimes it can help to write down how we feel and then burn the paper afterwards, asking that the energy be cleared with no harm to anyone.

 It is important that we continuously work on our own healing so that we are less likely to direct blame and hatred onto others and instead tend to our own unhealed wounds, trusting that this will be much more effective than lashing out.

Shielding and Inner Strength

When it comes to energetic protection, I feel it is important to protect ourselves as well as our home space. Living as a sensitive, intuitive and empathic person means that energetic health becomes a lifestyle built on habits.

Protection is a combination of shielding negativity as well as cultivating inner strength, positivity and power in oneself.

Shielding habits are about warding off negative energies, kind of like wearing a mask to prevent viruses from entering. Cultivating inner power and strength is akin to taking care of your body and immune system so that if a virus enters, it can be transmuted more effectively.

Energetic Protection Habits:

There are many ways to protect ourselves energetically against all forms of negative energy. The things in this list are habits I try to keep regularly, as part of my personal energetic hygiene.

Being an empathic, sensitive or intuitive person can be a lot of work simply to maintain oneself! Its ok if you don’t do any or many of these things, even just trying one of them can make a difference.  I don’t do all these things every single day, but they are part of an ongoing rotation and used on a regular basis:

  • I call on my spirit allies and guides to be with me.

I call them and feel/envision them there with me when I am in a dicey situation or place. I have one in particular that comes to my side and works very well at deterring negative energy coming from people in my environment with harmful or dangerous energy. I also call on Cerridwen, the Goddess I work most with, as she has a very protective presence.

  • I visualise an egg or orb of light all around me that is sealed with a protective black smoke.

I know some people imagine an egg of pure white light, or a colored light or substance that they resonate with. I found the light wasn’t enough for me, but when I imagine black smoke swirling around the egg of light, I feel better protected. I have done this in public situations where I felt unsafe, and it works pretty fast to move the negative energy away from me.

  • I do a grounding practice.

This is part of my daily energetic hygiene, so it is always done before I leave the house or do anything important. I do a grounding meditation to connect with the earth, sea and sky, to feel the divine in my body.  I connect with the land I live on, its ancestors and give thanks. I smoke cleanse with herbs I grow in my garden and hold a local rock in my hands and place it on my heart to feel my rootedness to this land. Being grounded is essential to being protected. Having a relationship to the land ensure you will be looked out for and be in tune with the ebb and flows of energy in the environment.

  • I wear a lot of black and crystals! (I know its a cliche, but it works)

I wear black pretty much all the time. Black is a strong protective color that helps to ward off negativity.

I also like to wear colors that help to strengthen my inner power and vitality. For some folks that might be a bright color, but for me it is black again, as well as purple or plum or green.

I also like to wear protective jewelry. I have different symbols I wear that I charge with intention. I also wear crystals, such as obsidian, onyx, black moonstone, smokey quartz, auralite, labradorite, selenite and others that help ward of negativity. I also like to wear crystals that ground and energise me, such as ruby, garnet and black tourmaline.

  • I use plant medicines

I like to carry cedar or spruce in my purse when I go out to protect me and my belongings. I have a little leather pouch I put plant matter in.  

I create aromatherapy sprays using essential oils that carry qualities that I wish to embody and surround myself with. If I need to stimulate my sensual side, I might use rose, orange or geranium. For calming, lavender or chamomile. If I want something more shielding, I might use a blend using evergreens and cloves, or if I need grounding, I might wear patchouli.

I like to drink nettle tea when I am feeling my power is a bit low or am vulnerable. It is very nourishing to the blood and due to its prickly nature, has a protective energy. Ginger tea is also a good one to strengthen one’s inner fire.

There are many ways to use plant medicines, including teas, salves, ointments and tinctures to help strengthen your immune system and protect energetically.

  • I prioritise exercise, sleep and eating well

I fuel my inner vitality with exercise, nutritious food and enough sleep. Exercise that includes physical strengthening and core exercises is especially helpful in creating better boundaries for empaths. I make sure to exercise daily, as I easily become ungrounded if I don’t. I eat intuitively and do certain cleanses and take vitamins as needed.  I am a night owl, so going to bed early is challenging for me, but I always aim for 8 hours sleep.

  • I feed my heart & soul

One way I feed my heart and soul is by simply listening to their whispers and feelings. My heart is nourished by spending time with my pets and loved ones, listening to music, dancing and writing. My soul is nourished with walks in nature, spending time near water, communing with the Goddess at my altar, and doing devotional practices, crafts and rituals.  

  • I work on keeping healthy boundaries

If we find ourselves habitually drained after an interaction with someone, it might be an alarm bell to place better boundaries for ourselves or distance ourselves from them. It might mean that we need to limit our time with them, say no to some of their requests, or explain that we only have so much energy today and can only handle ‘a’ or ‘b’ but not ‘c’ at this time.

A lot of us are spending more time online on social media, so it is important to place boundaries in this setting. I have been unfollowing people I need to distance myself from, leaving groups I don’t like, deleting accounts that I don’t use and focusing my energies on the connections that nourish and inspire me or challenge me in growth-oriented ways.

I find that boundaries are also about keeping my inner power strong, so this means that I need to take regular time out to be alone so I can re-align with my own energy. I find that throughout the day, I need to check in with myself because I tend to get too involved with others’ emotions and issues.  

Taking a 5-minute break to just check-in with yourself- in mind, body and emotions can help keep you centered within.

  • I do regular energetic cleansing

Every day I smoke cleanse and/or use my besom (witch’s broom) to clear my energy and my space. I always open a window and pray and give thanks to the spirit of the plant medicines for transmuting the negative energies that may have clung to my aura or are sitting in the space.

I take regular salt baths. I alternate between using either epsom or sea salts and essential oils in a nice hot bath. I find this is especially helpful for the empathic part of me, because water resonates with the emotional body and this is where the gunk can collect energetically for empaths. Water helps the emotions to flow and clear beautifully!

I take a shower after spending a lot of time in public around a lot of people and I just want to clear the day’s energetic debris.

How do you protect yourself as an empath, sensitive or intuitive person? What do you struggle with?

What strengthens and nurtures you in body, mind, heart and soul?

It has taken me my whole life to figure out the unique needs of my nervous system and energetic constitution, with lots of trial and error! Some of what I suggest may work for you and others won’t. We are all unique. Experiment and see what works for you.  

One thing I have learned is that protective habits are best weaved into one’s lifestyle. When they become part of our daily routine, we have a good foundation to stand on when things get rocky in our lives. Picking one thing and sticking to it can make a bigger difference than doing several things irregularly.

May you be well-nourished and protected in the weeks to come my sensitive soul!

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

A Winter Solstice Oracle Reading For You…

The Winter Solstice is a wonderful time for divination. People use divination in various ways, and there is no right or wrong way.

I tend to use divination as a healing tool rather than a predictive tool. For me, it is an invitation to get curious about myself and what the current situation is asking me to heal or become more aware of, helping me to grow.

I am less interested in predicting the future because many factors are at play that can change the outcome of any situation. I also feel our sense of personal agency is a key player in our personal healing and how we live our lives. Getting too attached to future possibilities can diminish our personal agency in accessing our power in this moment.

I see a tarot or oracle spread as a reflection of the present moment, holding the feelings and potential that we can access right then and there. I feel a reading loses its power as time goes on, because we can change moment to moment. This is mainly why I don’t record readings, but ask clients to take their own notes, trusting that they will hear what they need to hear in that moment, and what stands out to them will be most important and influential on their choices and actions.

At the Winter Solstice, we can often feel a bit ‘in the dark’ about our lives, as the increased darkness invites us to embrace the unknown as we journey into the deeper recesses of our psyches.

Divination can be like a little flashlight, showing us clues to follow, as we trust our intuition to lead us forward. There will be twists and turns on our path, and whilst we may not be meant to see whats ahead, divination helps us access the tools we need to be able to navigate the journey.

I would like to share with you my Winter Solstice Spread below. It shows us what we’ve learned from the past year and how that has influenced our present situation. It shows us the potential wisdom that we can now apply to the current situation and develop in the weeks to come. First, I give you the layout so you can do the reading with your own deck, then I give you a Solstice Goddess Oracle reading below!

Use any deck you feel comfortable with. Ground and centre yourself. Take a few deep breaths and connect with how you’re feeling. You may wish to bring the cards to your heart centre so they can attune to your energy.

Shuffle the deck however you normally do, taking your time to reflect on your past year and your current situation. Then when you feel ready, choose your first card and place it in the centre. This is the Present Situation. Then choose your second card, placing it to the left. This represents the Lessons/Gifts from the past year, which have influenced your situation. Choose your third card placing it on the right side of the centre card. This represents the Wisdom in Waiting, or potential energy you can apply to the current situation, that will also help tie in the lessons from the past year and bring you to a new place of growth.

Goddess Power Oracle deck by Colette Baron-Reid

Notice the thread that flows through the cards. Notice what resonates, what feels true and what feels interesting or inspiring. Write down anything that you wish to carry with you on your journey.

Below is a version of this reading that I have done for you. It is a general reading for all who are reading this, let me know if it resonates!

Here is what I pulled for you:

Goddess Power Oracle Deck by Colette Baron-Reid
  • Present Situation: In the present position, we have Lillith, Jewish goddess of independence in this deck. The experiences of 2021 have brought you to this new place in your life where you are finally living your life on your own terms, having moved away from or severed unhealthy, toxic ties or codependent habits. It can feel scary to go it alone sometimes, but it is only when we know who we are as an individual that we can attract the right people for us in our life. Through 2021 the planets Saturn and Jupiter have been in Aquarius, urging us to define what freedom and independence means to us and how to build the right foundations for it. You currently are creating that space for yourself or being called to do so at this time. More work in this area will continue through 2022, as the road can be bumpy with Saturn still in Aquarius. You must take responsibility for the choices you make in the name of independence and be prepared for the consequences. But you are much better equipped now than you were last year, knowing what feels true to you and what is worth the effort. Keep it up, knowing you have the power to blaze that trail and do your own thing!

  • Lessons From the Past Year: Here, we have Benzai-Ten, Japanese goddess of beauty. Over the last year, you may have come up against insecurity, low self-worth, rejection or a sense of just being ‘not enough’. It may have been hard to see the beauty in life, due to a cloudy outlook, or feeling that you aren’t beautiful or have nothing to offer the world. You may have had to re-align with your true values rather than those imposed on you by the outside world. Those were the challenges, but there were also gifts. You maybe had to dig deep to find what was really holding you back, into past experiences in your childhood that fueled low self-esteem. This lead to some deep healing and courage to finally stand on your two feet and shine your beautiful, independent spirit. Or perhaps someone or something reflected your beauty back to you, reminding you of how beautiful and capable you really are. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder- perhaps a change in perspective was what we needed to see the beauty in yourself instead of through the lens of others. Perhaps you were inspired by something beautiful, which urged you to take a new path and express more beauty in your life now.

  • Wisdom in Waiting: Here, we have the potential energy of Yhi, Aboriginal Australian Sun Goddess in this deck. How appropriate for this time of year, where we celebrate the hope of the increasing light. The advice for the present is to shine your light, and keep doing you! Find that warm spark of passion within you, and let it radiate through your being. What lights you up? What gets you excited? What brings you joy? When you live life from your centre, from that flame of truth inside of you, your path becomes clear, you attract new opportunities and people who are good for your health and wellbeing. Yes, sometimes when we shine brightly, we attract bugs, so be aware of this potential, but don’t let it get you down. You’ve got this, you are strong and capable. The world needs your unique light, so don’t be afraid to shine!

So, to sum it up- you’ve come a long way this year, and its been a journey of finding yourself and blazing a new trail of independence. Give yourself permission to be your uniquely beautiful self, embracing your quirks and all the weirdness that makes you who you are, and shine it out into the world. It gives others permission to do the same.

Let me know if any of this resonated with you. I wish you a warm and bright Solstice and please feel free to contact me for a reading!

xo Serena

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Connecting with our Wise Inner Elder/Crone

‘Tis the season of the Elder, Crone, Hag and Wise One within. The season of tough love which urges us to to simplify, surrender, conserve our physical energy and contemplate the bigger questions in life.

The Crone aspect of the triple goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) rules over the dark moon phase of the lunar cycle and winter in the seasonal cycle. For those with a menstrual cycle, this aspect rules over one’s bleeding time- where body and mind ask us to slow down, release the past and open to new dreams and potential by tapping into the wisdom of the Universe.

The winter season carries the same energy, asking us to make space to reflect, dream and simply ‘be’. The working world doesn’t stop for winter, but invites us to simplify and conserve our energy. The subconscious requires more attention and processing, pulling us to sleep, meditate and heal our inner self.

Who is the Crone?

The Crone is the Death Goddess, the One who Sees in the Dark, She who comes to our aid when we are going through dark and difficult times. She teaches us the lessons of surrender, letting go, patience, strength and the necessity of death and decay to bring new life.

These can hard lessons to swallow, which is why there is a general fear of this aspect of the goddess, and consequently, a fear of womxn as they age, and a general devaluing of elder wisdom in our youth-obsessed, death-avoidant culture.

We are taught to equate old age with death rather than wisdom. If one believes in reincarnation, or an afterlife, or even just in the cycles of nature, we can find comfort in knowing that energy never ceases to exist, it simply transforms. But change can be scary, especially when it comes to death- the greatest mystery of all.

The Crone teaches us that death is a necessary component of life.

There are Crone goddesses in cultures all over the world. Some that fit this category are Ereshkigal, Nepthys, Hekate, Mother Holle, Sedna, Kali, Cerridwen, Cailleach Bear, Baba Yaga, and more. What these goddesses all have in common that they are somehow connected to the realm of death in some way. It is reflected in their myths, or by seasonal association. They often share stories of pain, trauma and rebirth that render them the wisdom to help us through our own difficult passages. They are also known for their knowledge of the unseen realms and the mysteries, as they are the lights that guide us through the dark.

My Crone altar

Elder as Community Leader

During the winter solstice we welcome the energy of Capricorn, as it initiates the winter season, followed by the last 2 signs of the zodiac, Aquarius and Pisces. These three signs rule over the winter months in the northern hemisphere and carry the qualities of Crone/Elder energy in each their unique way. They are the signs most concerned with the collective- its structures, social health and spiritual wellbeing.

Similarly, the elders in a society are meant to be the ones who care for the community by being advisors and in turn, the community takes care of them. In our current system, elders- especially women and 2SLGBTQIA+ folks are not given value or purposeful roles and they are often forgotten and shunned to the shadows of society.

As we go through the winter months, we start to look at the big picture more. We become more aware of our sense of security and place in the world, as well as whether the collective is sustained within the structures that are meant to support it.

Things get serious in Capricorn season. Survival and security are at the top of our minds. We need to get responsible and be accountable. We start to think about our long-range goals and what practical steps we need to take to get there. We notice if the structure our life rests on is sound, and make any necessary adjustments. Capricorn, an earth sign asks us to be patient, think long term and think like an elder.

When we contemplate our goals, we my ask ourselves: Is it functional and sustainable? (Capricorn) Is it inclusive and progressive? (Aquarius) Does it leave room for spirituality and liminality? (Pisces).

Elder wisdom reminds us that we are small beings in a big universe, we are not the centre of it.

It also reminds us that we are all an intricate and important part of the web of life and have a duty to participate in its weaving. We must follow the light of our inner wisdom to lead us to our part to play in the dance of life.

From the Seasons of the Witch Samhain Oracle deck

Connecting to the Wise Elder Within

The Crone aspect of the goddess has always been the one that most resonated with me. Maybe because I was born in the depths of winter, or because I always felt like an old soul. It’s just an energy I gravitate toward and strive to cultivate. I feel it needs a greater voice and value in our culture.

Family structures have shifted in such a way that many of us have not been able to have a strong bond with grandparents, aunts and uncles or other elders in our lives. We may feel groundless or lost because of a lack of this energy in society. Sometimes family dynamics are simply too toxic or dysfunctional to have healthy relationships with our elders. Intergenerational trauma plays a big part and each generation must contend with its own struggles.

Connecting with our inner Elder can help heal that generational trauma, by bringing death to old patterns we are carrying and acting with wisdom. No matter what our physical age, we all have an inner Wise Elder within that we can connect with and consult with when we reach an impasse in our lives. It can become part of a regular practice to strengthen this part of us, so that when times get tough, we have the internal light to help us through.

If you are someone who journals, you may wish to try journaling on these reflection questions below. Or, perhaps you wish to simply contemplate these seeds in your mind, as a way to start connecting to your inner Elder.

What are qualities you admire in the elders you’ve encountered in your life?

In what ways does the Elder/Crone energy show up in your life?

How have the losses in your life changed you?

How do you feel about aging?

How do you imagine yourself as an elder in the future?

If you are already an elder, how would you describe your role and way of expressing this energy in your life?

What metaphorical or physical ‘wrinkles’ and ‘scars’ in life have strengthened you or made you who you are today?

If your younger self was looking for advice from you right now, what would you tell them?

Imagine you are with a wise elder right now, who knows everything about you, loves you unconditionally, really ‘sees’ you on the deepest level. What would they say to you about your life situation right now?

Crone spirit I found in the woods- do you see her face?

I think often about the future, and what kind of elder I want to become. I imagine different scenarios (some include grandchildren, while others include more cats, and maybe even a dog). My husband is much older than me, so I imagine what it would be like to live my elder years without him, which is very hard. I think about the strong independent women elders in my life, the ways they stay young at heart and the ways they express their wisdom and age gracefully.

The more I connect with my own inner Wise Elder/Crone, the more I live my life authentically, let go of the small stuff, and release the things that drain me. My inner Elder sees the big picture and knows the price of acting in self-abandonment or out of step with my values. Integrity is probably the most important lesson I learn from this part of me. She urges me to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing.

What does your inner Elder or Crone say to you?

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Hearth Magick for Wintertime

During the warm half of the year, we are blessed with Mother Nature’s blossoming abundance, color and the sun’s shining rays to support our health and wellbeing.  Our vitality is stronger, our energy flows outward with more ease. The earth offers us a constant stream of protection, nurturance and healing energy. 

Now that we stand in the peak of darkness, the naked trees reach starkly into the grey sky and the earth beneath us is resting. Like the earth, we must conserve our energy and protect our self and space. This time of year belongs to the Hag of Winter, the Crone and Elder, awakening our strength, perseverance, and the wisdom that comes with aligning with our priorities and honoring our spirit.

Personally, I feel more at home during this time of year than in the warm months. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert, or because I grew up in the cold, windy prairies in Winnipeg- aka ‘Winterpeg’!

I enjoy the darkness that comes with the winter season, because I like retiring into night mode. I also love when the sun sparkles on the snow, the hushed quiet of the woods, the squeaky sound of crisp snow underfoot, snuggling up with blankets and slippers with hot tea in front of the fire… I feel more connected to my intuition and spirit at this time.

Winter willows

But it is true that this season requires more diligence on an energetic level. Not only do we need to conserve our energy, but we need to protect it and our space as well. Many of the trees and plants that normally protect us are dormant or conserving energy too. The harsh weather can bring power outages, unsafe road conditions, hazardous ice, and on a social level general grumpiness, exhaustion and viruses. Basic travel and living take more work.

If you are sensitive & empathic, living in a busy city, being surrounded by people constantly means picking up on others’ difficult emotions that tend to surface this time of year. Also, the stark realities of life cannot be hidden beneath pretty flowers.  Many folks are unhoused, in poverty, isolated, struggling, and the reality of systemic oppression and its effects are inescapable. It is a time where we may need to check on our neighbors more and keep a sense of community as well as keep ourselves safe- physically and energetically.

With all of this in mind, I thought I’d share some simple ways to protect your home and energy during this time. My approach to Hearth Magick is pragmatic, as well as multi-faceted. I find that tackling an issue from as many angles as possible yields the best results, so I do pretty much all of these things regularly as general winter hearth maintenance. I am assuming you’ve got basics covered, like locks on your doors and windows (and maybe an alarm system & security camera, depending on your ‘hood), heating, a roof over your head and nourishing food on the table. I am also assuming your space isn’t haunted by strong negative entities.  

The home and self are connected energetically. One affects the other.

Clean and Clear

Clutter doesn’t do us any good. It’s a great time to clean out our closets and release anything that is taking up space that is not useful or making us happy. Clutter creates stagnant energy in the home and in turn, in our own energy. Give away the clothes you don’t wear, let go of things you don’t use anymore. Clear your shelves, cupboards, drawers, and of course your altar or your hearth.

Clearing your space energetically is also very important. This could entail washing your floors and counters with some of your favourite herbal infusion, essential oil, or adding a prayer or intention to your regular cleaning.

You may also wish to try smoke cleansing by burning herbs or incense or spraying the space with an herbal infusion or essential oils.

My ‘Pure Yule’ Hearth Mist

You can try creating a nice steam air purifier by boiling herbs on the stove, which is great for combating dryness from the heat and spreads good energy from the herbs. It also doubles as a tea. I do this with cedar, or sometimes with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. These are protective of self and space as steam, while helping to support the immune system as a tea.

Simplify Your Life

Do you have people or activities in your life that drain your energy? Have you overcommitted yourself? This is the time to set some boundaries. Say ‘no’ to that person or extra thing. Or, set up something that works better for you. Delegate. Take charge of your schedule as best as you can and see what is unnecessary. Focus on the priorities and keep it simple. Otherwise, you may burnout.

Let There be Light

This is the time of year when lights make a big difference in our mood and energy. Do you have any particularly dark areas of your home? These are areas where energy can hold negativity. Light them up! Whether it’s adding a strand of twinkle lights, a salt lamp or candles to your décor, sources of light can help prevent negative energy from stagnating in areas of the home, as well as in your mind and heart. Switching some of your bulbs to full-spectrum lighting to imitate the sun can also be helpful, especially if you are affected by SAD or need a mood boost.

The Fire Element

Flame of my hearth

Do you have representation of the fire element in your home? Lights, as mentioned above count. However, other representations may be warm colours- reds, oranges, golds and yellows. You can wear them or bring more of them into your space, by adding a throw pillow, blanket or candles in these colors.

What about fiery activities? Any vigorous, playful or transformational activity can bring the energy up in your home and self! Things like lighting candles while you relax, cooking and baking your favourite foods, exercising, dancing, listening to energetic music, eating spicy foods, hot drinks and taking hot baths, all help to build up your inner fire and vitality, increasing self protection.

Indoor Plants

The color green is something I desperately miss by the time March rolls around. Psychologically, when we see green we relax, because it is an indication of fertility and life around us, ensuring our survival. In winter, we are lacking this!

My home is old and dark, a bit like a cave, with not many places for plants to thrive so, I invested in a garden window. Since filling it with indoor plants, I’ve noticed a huge difference in my winter wellbeing. The plants give me hope and have added a very positive energy into the home which in turn brings positivity into the residents and protects the space.

My garden window- with a little cat bed included.

If you are someone who kills any indoor plants they own or live in a basement apartment you may wish to try plants with very low light requirements. I have found Spider plants to be particularly adaptable. They clear the air, are low maintenance and reproduce abundantly, so if you mess up with one (and it has already grown some babies), you can try again by rooting and potting the babies. The trick is not to overwater. If you have bright light, air plants or Aloe Vera are also wonderful choices!

Evergreens

I love evergreens! The land always takes care of us with her medicine. Evergreens are a source of vitamins, minerals, anti-viral properties, and energetic protection and strength. They are also strong transformers of negative energy. Juniper, Spruce, Pine, Cedar, Fir and Yew are what I consider wise Crone/Elder trees that take care of us in the northern climate.

If it’s Yule season, you’ll probably see an abundance of evergreen clippings and decor to purchase in local grocery or plant stores. These can help protect your home on the outside and the inside (the real ones, not the fake ones!).

One thing I learned from Indigenous community members is to hang cedar above my doorways to protect from bad energy. I also put it under my mats, over and around windows and keep other evergreens around the house all winter long. I also sometimes put some in my purse for protection while out.

Anything with needles usually has a protective quality. I sometimes keep evergreens by my bed to protect me while I sleep. If you’re not into live indoor plants, keeping evergreen cuttings around the house is an alternative.

Working with plants is much more effective when we cultivate a relationship. It is easy enough to do this on a walk. Find a nearby park, hug an evergreen, stand with your back against them, feel their energy and receive their wisdom. Thank them. They each have their own unique personalities. I have learned and received so much wisdom, love and protection from evergreen beings.

Salt Bowls

Salt bowl with evergreens

Salt is the master remover of bad vibes. One of my favourite ways to use salt in a space is to fill up a bowl with it (I use sea salt) and add a crystal and some herbs on top. Not all crystals do well sitting in salt, as their energy can drain. I usually opt for quartz and amethyst, which seem to do fine, but I play around with other ones. I’ve made some mistakes and learn as I go.

As for herbs, you can add which ever ones would support energy clearing, such as lavender, mint, garden sage, rosemary, evergreens, etc. But really, just the salt is what matters most. Place the bowl wherever you feel excess energy needs to be absorbed, such as an office desk, bedside table, the dining room table or near an entranceway.

mirrors on my porch

Mirrors & Sparkles

Never underestimate the power of a mirror. Mirrors reflect energy back to its sender. Sparkly, reflective surfaces can all do this to varying degrees. You can ward of bad energies coming at your home from a certain direction by decorating your yule tree with reflective, sparkly decorations and placing your tree in the window facing that direction.

Or, you can purchase a mirror or make a mirror-faceted decoration and place it either in a window or outside your home near the entrance as a deterrent to ill-intentioned visitors.

Essential Oils

Another favourite plant medicine is essential oils. Yes, they are more expensive than dried herbs, but the reason for this is that they are very potent and concentrated. Dried herbs are wonderful and can be worked with too. I find in urban areas where we have far less nature and far more industry and pollution to counteract, the concentrated plant energy can be very helpful. It is best to ensure you are buying pure essential oils from a reputable source. If the price is too good to be true, then it is probably not pure and cut with some other oil. I cannot advise using these for the purposes below.

*It is important to note that essential oils are flammable and must be handled with care. They can also be toxic to humans and pets if ingested. Follow the advice of an aromatherapist or the product maker. 

Using essential oils in your space is pretty simple. You can put a few drops in a bowl of water, as the oil sits on the surface and naturally diffuses through the space. Or, if you have a forced air heating system you can place a few drops on a Kleenex or strip of paper and place it in the intake vent so the scent and vibes flow through the house. You can also put it in an output vent to diffuse quickly through the space.

peaceful lavender

My favourite trick is to place a few drops on a Kleenex and place it inside the bag in my vacuum cleaner. Whenever I vacuum, the scent and energy flows through the house.

My fave oils for winter and what they’re good for:

Lavender: Antidepressant, helps with tension and headaches. Relaxes the mind and aids sleep. Has antiseptic properties. Brings peace to a space. Blends well with most other essential oils.

Orange: Antidepressant, uplifts mood and invigorates the mind, sensual.

Black Spruce: Antiseptic, antibacterial, antiparasitic, kills most pathogens in the air. Great for when illness strikes in the home. Energetically refreshing, grounding and protective.

Geranium: Antidepressant, immune booster, excellent deoderiser, uplifting, regenerative, sensual.

Eucalyptus: Antibacterial, Clears airways, clears mind, helps breathing during colds/flu. *Avoid during chemo, high blood pressure, epilepsy or severe asthma.

Clove: Antibacterial, analgesic, antimicrobic. Energetically cleansing, warming, strengthening and protective. *Avoid if pregnant

The oils above can be combined in many variations and work together well. You can also use any of the oils above in a warm bath. Simply mix 7-10 drops of the essential oil with about a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin and add to a bath. You may also wish to add 1-2 cups of either sea salt or epsom salts to help neutralise negative emotions or energies you’ve picked up in the day.

I hope some of these suggestions appealed to you and feel like something you might want to try for yourself! If you have any questions about them, feel free to contact me!

Happy Yule/Winter Solstice/Alban Arthan/Holiday that you celebrate!

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Keeping the Cauldron: What Does it Mean to Hold Safe Space?

The cauldron is a prominent symbol all over the world, especially in Celtic myth. It is a receptacle of death, rebirth and inspiration- A mysterious womb in which transformation takes place.

It is symbolic of the place we go when we are undergoing great change in our lives. It can feel dark and bottomless, as we are no longer who we once were and unsure of what we’re becoming. Yet, once we are reborn anew we realise there was something greater and stronger that held and contained us, and this enforces our own strength. This is the gift and mystery of the cauldron.  

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how necessary the cauldron’s containment and strength is, because it allows the transformation to take place within it. The cauldron represents the containment, boundaries and safe space necessary for us to relax and be vulnerable enough to go into our depths, heal our wounds and grow.

Holding safe space is important to me, because having safe spaces held for me in my healing journey has been truly transformative. I have also experienced spaces in which this wasn’t the case and am aware of the damage it can do. I wanted to share a bit about this topic so prospective clients know that I value and strive to hold safe space.

As healing facilitator and Tarot reader, I must ‘keep the cauldron’ and tend the space with clients or in a group so transformation and healing can occur. Otherwise, the emotional contents can stagnate, spill all over the place, burn or dry up. The proper container is necessary in order to heal. The soft places within us cannot fully express themselves or transform without boundaries keeping them safe.

Safe Space & Boundaries

A lot of us who are empaths, introverts and sensitive souls are aware of the need for boundaries. Boundaries are a way that we create a safe space for ourselves.

 When we are wide open with our feelers out all the time, we very quickly get bogged down with other people’s stuff, overwhelmed, scattered and drained. We know the necessity of saying ‘no’ to things and creating boundaries on our energy- whether that is time alone in our room, taking control of our schedule or only surrounding ourselves with people who support us- in order for our sensitivity to operate positively.

When holding space for others, setting clear boundaries is an important way to foster safety so that participants can relax and delve into their sensitivity. This may be in the form of clear rules and expectations for participants, closing the room off from outside noise or traffic, beginning and ending at a set time, following through on intentions, and holding a protective, capable, nurturing, trustworthy energy.

Inclusivity

Those who are marginalized can live in chronic anxiety and the feeling that they aren’t safe in this world. This is due to very real discrimination, violence and oppression they experience, because it is inherent to our social structures. Mental health struggles and trauma are more prevalent in marginalised communities and therefore this requires attention.

When marginalized people speak out on what they need to feel safe- whether it is a change in language, recognition, being heard, the need for greater representation, or calling someone in to check their privilege or be accountable- This is an important statement of their boundaries so they can survive and function in the world- and they deserve to be heard and respected.

I have found that it is unfortunately all too common in spiritual communities for there to be a lack of understanding on the importance of inclusivity and its connection to safe space. Spiritual and healing practitioners may have good intentions, but if we don’t make the effort to educate ourselves or do our own inner healing and bias work, we will fail to create the space necessary for healing to occur.

Healing may occur with some of the clients/students- the ones who just happen to feel safe, included, welcomed and understood in that space. If there is no effort to do this for those who have a history of trauma or marginalization, then they may be re-traumatised and marginalized even further. 

I strive to be inclusive and listen to marginalized voices in my work, because I know how necessary it is to feel safe in order to heal the deeper stuff and grow.

Discomfort & Growth

Feeling safe is something that is very unique to each individual and not every space is going to feel 100% safe for all people all the time, and it will not feel 100% comfortable all the time, either.

I think its important here to distinguish between feeling safe and feeling comfortable. It can be a fine line sometimes, but usually those who walk that line, know the difference. The goal of creating safe space isn’t about feeling comfortable all the time.

Some folks assume wanting safe space is the same as wanting comfort. They will say things like ‘stop coddling those fragile snowflakes!’ because ‘it will hold them back in life’, ‘they’re just being big babies’, ‘discomfort is necessary for growth’, etc.

I can agree with the last one- discomfort can yield much personal growth and transformation. However, there is a difference between feeling uncomfortable and unsafe. Those things above are often said out of ignorance of the true depth of impact trauma and mental health issues have on the nervous system.

In order to grow through our pain and trauma, our nervous system requires feeling safe first, or we can’t access the layers beneath the ‘survival mode’ it is in. Requiring safe space is more about survival than it is comfort. Its goal is to help us feel safe enough to be within our window of tolerance-so we can simply ‘be’ without the extra anxiety- so we can actually take in information and interact and participate.

If we are already in our window of tolerance, dwelling happily in it and feel pretty comfy, then some discomfort can help empower us to try new things and overcome fears. However, if we don’t have access to safety first, we can’t get there.

Snowflakes-Each beautiful and unique, thriving in the cold

I think of it this way- feeling pain, discomfort and experiencing trauma in life is guaranteed. Everyone will have opportunities to feel pain. However, safe space in which people feel welcomed, understood and safe enough to drop one’s armor to feel and work through the pain is rare. I want to help create those rare spaces because safety and comfort are never guaranteed.

As someone who has experienced trauma and mental health struggles, who, because of these things rarely knew where my window of tolerance really was or what it felt like- I deeply value the people and places in my life that help create safe space for me. It was in those spaces that I felt I could relax my defenses, cultivate self-acceptance, and was able to heal the parts of me shunned into the shadows. It was only because I felt welcome, seen and heard that I discovered where my centre and inner feeling of safety even was.

Some say you need to find the safe space inside in order to feel safe outside. However, I feel the reverse is also true. Especially in regards to trauma history.

Things like trigger warnings, using the correct pronouns and inclusive language are simple and necessary ways to help create a safer space for individuals who are continuously wounded by the dominant culture, and who don’t often feel safe. Simply listening, being empathetic and open to adapting and changing things can make a difference. Doing these things does not mean you are preventing discomfort or necessary growth- in fact it will likely support it.

My Cauldron-Keeping Goals:

I am a work in progress, but strive to:

  • Stay aware of my own biases, privilege and position in relation to those I serve.
  • Use inclusive language and create an inclusive space in my gatherings and sessions.
  • Keep educating myself on the needs of IBPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+, and those experiencing mental health/trauma. I am always open to hearing feedback and learning from my mistakes.
  • Actively listen to my clients without judgement
  • Continue my own personal healing work- Seeing my own healers and counsellors, continuously working on my own wounds and baggage.
  • Commit to my own spiritual path, connecting with my spirit allies and spiritual teachers, continuously growing and evolving.
  • Acknowledge that I may not be able to create perfectly safe space for everyone all the time, but I will always do my best.
  • See discomfort as a nudge for us to look within ourselves- to tend to the part of us that is asking for attention and healing.
  • See physical and psychological safety as a prerequisite for transformation and healing to occur.

Creating Safe Space for Ourselves

Creating safe space for ourselves is an important aspect of self-healing. Some of the ways we can do this is:

  • Release or heal toxic relationships
  • Set boundaries around our time and energy
  • Be aware of our triggers and communicate our needs to those around us
  • Be aware of the potential triggers of social media and limit our time on it
  • Check-in or ask questions before walking into a space
  • Create a time and space where we feel safe to be vulnerable and explore our feelings
  • Surround ourselves with beauty and inspiration
  • Associate with people who bring out the best in us
  • Spend time with a beloved pet
  • Spend time in nature
  • See a therapist, counsellor or spiritual healer who we feel safe with
  • Cultivate our spiritual practice

I feel this is a really big topic and could be explored in many ways. I hope you have a cauldron of safety somewhere in your life.

What helps you feel safe enough to be vulnerable, explore your depths, heal and grow?

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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.