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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Who is the Goddess Cerridwen?

Cerridwen is a prominent figure from Welsh mythology revered by druids, witches, and pagans all over the world.

She is known as a mother, wife, shapeshifter, witch, healer, powerful initiatrix and bestower of the Awen– the divine force of flowing inspiration that permeates all existence.

Cerridwen has been the source of inspiration for bards of history through to today, as she is believed to brew the Awen in her magickal cauldron and bestow it upon those who wish to channel it.

She is therefore instrumental in the creation of art, song, poetry, music and all forms of creative communication.

Cerridwen is also a Goddess of spiritual initiation, transformation and change. Her myth depicts the process of her initiating a young boy named Gwion going through several stages of death and rebirth, eventually transforming him into Taliesin, who grew up to be the great Chief of Bards.   

She is sometimes referred as a goddess of Inspiration, the Mother of Awen and the Keeper of the Cauldron, for her cauldron is a vessel of great power and change.

Cerridwen’s Myth in a Nutshell

Here is my brief version of Cerridwen’s story (derived from ‘The Tale of Taliesin’):

Cerridwen was married to Tegid Foel and lived in Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) with her two children- a breathtakingly beautiful daughter named Creirwy, and an ugly-looking son named Morfran (meaning ‘sea crow’), which she later changed to Avagddu (meaning ‘utter darkness’). Cerridwen loved her son dearly, but like any mother, she worried about him.

She wanted so badly for her son to have the respect and opportunities in life he deserved, so she set about creating a potion that would bestow him with great powers of wisdom, inspiration and prophecy to give him hope for a better future.

Cerridwen was well versed in the practice of magick, and so spent time collecting the appropriate herbs, while assigning a young peasant boy named Gwion Bach to stir the cauldron and a blind man named Morda to tend the fire continuously for a year and a day- this potion was quite a commitment!

It was also a very particular potion in that once three drops of it were consumed, the rest of it became poison.

Gwion and Morda worked tirelessly, and Cerridwen mustered all her magickal knowledge and energy for this very special brew for her son. Eventually, she became tired and had a little nap.

During this time, three drops of the hot potion splashed from the cauldron onto young Gwion’s thumb. Instinctively, he brought his thumb into his mouth to soothe the burn.

Upon ingesting those three magickal drops, Gwion was immediately filled with the magickal abilities and wisdom intended for Avagddu- he could see the past, present and future with complete clarity. He knew Cerridwen would be very angry and seek her revenge.

Soon after, the cauldron split and broke open, spilling the now poisonous remains of the potion onto the land, where it flowed and killed horses nearby.

Cerridwen, awakened by the commotion, saw what had happened and in a rage, she began to chase Gwion Bach.

Gwion, now possessing the ability to shapeshift, took the form of a hare to run quickly away from Cerridwen. But Cerridwen was more powerful and took the form of a greyhound in pursuit.

As she got closer and closer to Gwion, he panicked and as he came to a body of water, he quickly transformed into a salmon, swimming as fast as he could. But Cerridwen then took the form of an otter and quickly gained on him.

Gwion then rose out of the water, taking the form of a wren, flying through the air. But Cerridwen took the form of a hawk and again began to catch up quickly.  

As Gwion flew over a mill, he decided to turn himself into a grain of wheat and hide amongst a large pile of grain, thinking Cerridwen would never find him there.

However, Cerridwen was very determined, so she transformed into a black crested hen and proceeded to eat each and every last grain of wheat there, swallowing up Gwion into her belly.

She was relieved and satisfied to have gotten her revenge.

However, things did not go as she planned. By some biological oddity, the grain of wheat that was Gwion implanted itself like an egg within Cerridwen’s womb and began to grow.

‘Ceridwen’ by Christopher Williams
(c) The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

When Cerridwen realised she was pregnant with this new form of Gwion, she was furious, and couldn’t wait to kill him once he was born.

Nine months later, Cerridwen birthed the most beautiful little boy. When she peered into his radiant face, she was overcome with love and could not bring herself to kill him. But she could not keep him either, after what had happened with the potion. So instead, she placed him in a coracle and set him out into the sea to meet his fate.

The young baby floated out in the sea for months or some say years, until one day a Welsh prince named Elphin was fishing for salmon and noticed something unusual caught in the nets. It was the coracle with the babe in it.

He brought it in, and when he saw the baby’s face, was overwhelmed by his brightness and exclaimed ‘What a radiant brow!’ In Welsh this was Taliesin, which is the name he then took. Taliesin eventually grew up to be the most famed and talented bards in history.

Cerridwen’s Character & Roles

This myth is so rich and full of symbolism, far too much for one blog post. However, these are some key things that stand out for me in regards to Cerridwen:

She is a protective mother, who wants the best for her child

She is a witch– (swynwraig in Welsh), as she is very skilled in herbs, potions and magick.  

She is an initiatrix– She pushed Gwion through stages of spiritual growth and evolution- through the shapeshifting animals of land, sea and sky. Then he is consumed into the great dark womb of transformation through her pregnancy, after which he is reborn into a completely new form.  

She is a transformer and incubator of energy, like the cauldron itself and the womb. There is a strong theme of transformation, incubation and rebirth throughout the story. There are three ‘wombs’ in which this takes place- the cauldron, Cerridwen’s womb and the coracle.

She is Mother of the Awen– She is connected to the song of the universe- the flowing inspiration that moves through all things, which enables her to make such a powerful potion as she did, bringing all that knowledge, wisdom and magickal ability to Gwion Bach in an instant.

She can teach us lessons around control & surrender– There is a strong theme in the story of surrendering to a power larger than ourselves. Cerridwen’s best laid plans, skills and intentions did not prevent her spell from going awry. Something bigger was at work. Her plan to kill Gwion was also twisted by fate. Gwion himself thought he was just going to obediently stir a witch’s cauldron when in fact, what awaited him was a massive initiatory journey of death and rebirth.

Cerridwen in my life

Marashinsky & Janto’s Goddess Oracle deck

I have only been working intentionally with Cerridwen since spring of 2020. Interestingly, that was the beginning of the pandemic. I had felt her presence before that, particularly on a trip to Wales, but I hadn’t put a name to her yet.

On my path, I seem to have periods of time where a deity calls me- I see or sense them in a vision, meditation journey or place, and feel very drawn to them. I work with them for however long I am meant to- to learn their lessons and integrate their energies into my life.

In some ways, starting a relationship with a new deity is like starting a new intimate relationship with a person. I go deep, I let the relationship transform me and my life. It may be long term, it may be shorter term. But I am touched forever.

It makes sense that Cerridwen would call during this collective time of such upheaval and change. We are all in her cauldron, in some way or another. We’ve had to surrender and let go of things, parts of ourselves, and people. We’ve been pushed out of our comfort zones and initiated, tested and challenged, like Gwion.

Working with Cerridwen has brought me face to face with my fears- of persecution, of rejection, of the unknown. She has helped me transmute them and liberate myself, layer by layer. She helps me to trust myself- my connection with the Awen and my skills as a witch. She challenges my love of knowing, stability and control- she has been eroding my need for certainty and transmuting it into a deepened acceptance and trust in the unknown.

Collette Baron-Reid’s Goddess Power Oracle

Cerridwen beckons us to see the beauty in the unformed potential that exists deep in the darkness of the cauldron and embrace this potentiality as fuel for new life.

Working with Cerridwen also seems to activate my voice. I would not consider myself a confident or talented singer or poet. I also struggle with much caution and fear in communicating my truth. Yet, whenever I meditate with Cerridwen, I am always compelled to sing and sound. She seems to love this, as an offering. She also doesn’t let me stop writing, communicating and standing in my power. She ensures that the truth be communicated, in service of the Awen. I thank Cerridwen for keeping me an open channel for the Awen to flow through. For being my protectress, my wise guide and teacher and my dark mother during this potent time.

I will share more of my experiences with Cerridwen and my journey with her in the future. For now, here is a simple song prayer I made up and sing to her:

  • Cerridwen
  • Sing to me
  • Mother of Awen
  • Teach me the Mystery
  • Cerridwen
  • Mother and Crone
  • Lady of the Deep
  • You dwell in my bones
  • Cerridwen
  • Shine your light
  • Hold me by the hand
  • In this dark night

-Serena

*If you are interested in learning more about Cerridwen, I highly recommend Kristoffer Hughes’ book: Cerridwen-Celtic Goddess of Inspiration.

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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.

Why I started The Cauldron Goddess

Perhaps you’re like me and have felt kind of isolated and alone in your path as a witch, a pagan or spiritual person. Perhaps you are still in ‘the broom closet’ and not sure about being open about who you are yet. Maybe you’ve been out of the closet for a long time, but the path’s been super lonely or challenging.

Or perhaps you don’t consider yourself a witch at all, but your sensitive spirit comes alive in nature, and you wish to delve more deeply into that nourishment you receive when you slow down and connect to the cycles of the seasons, the celestial bodies, the earth, air, fire and water, the animal beings of the planet.

You perhaps know you are intuitive but sometimes don’t trust this part of yourself.

Maybe you are feeling some uncertainty or are going through a transition and wish for some guidance from your higher self.

Whomever you are, welcome and thankyou for coming by for a visit!

Things have been isolating in general over these long months of pandemic crisis. Many witches, pagans, and spiritual folks don’t have churches or temples in mainstream society. We are forging our paths and communities without much social support, in many ways, our very existence goes against the grain of colonial, patriarchal culture.

I am mainly a solitary witch, and happy being so, but sometimes, it can get a tad lonely. Even though I am in a big city where lots of other witches live, each of us has our unique path. Even if we are part of a group, our spirituality tends to be a very personal, individual thing. Some of us thrive when we are free to follow the beat of our own drum. Some thrive when in community. Some of my biggest lessons have been about the strength and empowerment that comes with forging my own path, and participating in community endeavors in small doses.

There is a fine line between solitary and lonely. It’s ok to dance that line sometimes, I feel it is part of the journey.

Truthfully, when we are on this path, we soon discover that we are never really alone. We are surrounded by allies and friends in the trees, rocks, animals, sky beings, ancestors, and spirit guides that surround us.

Even though I am solitary, I hold small community gatherings- the Hearthfire Circles– and try to attend events as well. As an introvert, I often find large events overwhelming, so I prefer smaller ones. The urge for community is often a strong desire in us witchy people and this exists alongside a need for solitude- to commune with nature, do our internal work and to rebuild a relationship with Spirit that is free of doctrines that do not resonate with us.

Part of why this urge for community it strong in me, and I feel in many other spiritual folks, is that we remember the old ways singing in our bones.

On a deep level, we remember living in sustainable community structures- in sacred connection with the land and each other-in reverence for all life. We remember the ways of folk magick, land-based practices that honour the cycles of the moon and seasons. We wish to return to more authentic, meaningful connections with others and ourselves. Perhaps we wish to revive the traditions of our ancestors- or at least, reclaim them in a new form that honours the present reality and the future we wish to create.

Our current culture under colonial, white supremacist, patriarchal capitalism can make creating a life like this quite challenging.  

There are layers of oppression that have wounded many generations of us that takes a while to unpack and heal, and there are many obstacles in the fabric of our modern culture that makes us choose between the survival of our body or the survival of our soul. It also emphasizes the survival of some folks at the expense of others.

‘Community’ now is a word used rather loosely. It can pertain to one’s Instagram following, Facebook group or membership to a corporate entity. These are fine ways to connect, but they often lack the depth, intimacy and real-life energetic exchanges between people that we instinctively crave. We are also contending with barriers such as white supremacy, patriarchy, cis-heteronormativity, and all the ‘isms’ pervading not only the mainstream but pagan spiritual communities as well.

My wish, my motivation behind my spiritual practice and The Cauldron Goddess, is not only to reclaim my own power as a witch and wise woman, but to help others do the same. I wish to be part of the change I wish to see in the world. It’s kind of a big ask sometimes, but the path demands that we stay awake and aware of the world around us, and the power of small steps to eventually make big impacts.

I feel that my own practice, my writing and both my in-person and online work are some of those small things that can send magickal ripples out into the world.

Pandemic Burnout & Nourishing the Spirit

Over the pandemic, like many of us, I experienced recurring burnout. It was my constant companion, with peaks and valleys of anxiety and depression. I am privileged enough to have been able to see an amazing therapist through it whom I’ve been seeing for many years now, and I’ve had the freedom to do the healing work necessary to cope.

A lot of old patterns and stories were triggered this year, and I have been releasing them and healing them ongoingly.

What I realised over the pandemic is how essential my spiritual practice is to my own wellbeing and how necessary it was that I nourish my spirit in order to be be present for my family and clients.

My witchcraft practice reminds me that I am not alone, that I am part of the sacred flow of life around me. It also teaches me to honour my sensitivity and protect myself energetically when the world around me becomes too much.

Nourishing my soul had taken a backseat to duty for too long. Instead of heeding the call of my spirit, of taking time to process who I was and what I really needed in the moment, I continued to prioritise work, duty and the mundane without the magick. I was scraping the bottom of the bucket to the point where nothing was left for my clients, my family, myself, no one.

Prioritizing my spiritual practice has become a lifeline, and so re-centering my energies onto the things I love and bring me joy- witchcraft, writing, tarot and my circles is how I am filling up my cauldron again.

Ultimately, The Cauldron Goddess is for me- a way to keep my energy focused on what nourishes me, and in turn I hope it be a source of support for you too.

Womb Healing

My background and experience is in mind-body therapies and womb healing work.

For most of my adult life, I have struggled with endometriosis and this set me on a long journey of healing in mind, body and spirit. For the last 5 years, since my surgery, I have been gratefully pain-free and slowly rebuilding myself a new life that finally doesn’t centre around chronic pain. With my newfound energy, I did some things that were on the backburner during my 20s and early 30s.

I got a driver’s license, went to college, started working out and eating some of the foods I enjoyed but couldn’t eat due to my condition. I traveled and started to work with womb healing clients 1 on 1 in a deeper capacity because I had the energy and experience to make a difference.

Until that energy bottomed out.

At first I thought it was just the pandemic and all the personal challenges that came with it. But it slowly became clear that it was more than that. I knew my soul was urging me to move on from focusing on womb health. The time had come to shift into focusing on my spiritual life more.

Womb wellness was always a part of my life, and always will be. But I’ve been changing, my path has been changing, and my work has to change with it. Cerridwen called me. My spirit called me to focus on my sacred craft and practice. The cauldron, which among other things is symbolic for nourishment, containment and the womb, was calling me to explore it in new ways.

My womb space healing work continues now, just in a different, more expansive form. The Cauldron Goddess is an extension of this work, but with a focus more on the spiritual aspect. It is now in a form that can benefit anyone with or without a womb, with or without a womb health issue. It is about nourishment, self-care, and soul-care. All of which benefit the womb space, if that is something you need.

But I am moving beyond the physical womb itself to focus on nourishing the spiritual womb, the inner hearth.

The Cauldron & The Hearth

My intention is to  create an energetic hearth with this blog and offer my services as a cauldron of nourishment for your soul.

This has been my practice as a Hearthwitch over the years- creating a sense of nourishment, safety and sacredness within my self. This then naturally extends to my home, family, clientele and community.

Taking the role of sacred space-holder, of empathetic listener and intuitive guide is my pleasure and passion. This role is nourished by my own spiritual and creative practices.

I have basic counselling, trauma and social work training that I feel is an important asset to what I offer as spiritual healing facilitator and tarot reader. I strive to create that safe cauldron for you to tune into your own intuition and self-healing abilities.

I will be sharing about topics like Tarot, witchy healing tools, sacred crafts, navigating the transitions through life-death-rebirth cycles, and all things related to my path as a hearthwitch, womb witch and devotee of Cerridwen- Goddess of inspiration, transformation and Mother of the Cauldron.

This isn’t my first blog, nor will it be my last. Its purpose is both a hearth for my thoughts, feelings and personal journey as well as a cauldron of teachings, tools and inspiration for your own journey. My hope is that in reading this, you will feel less alone, and more inspired!

So, come and sit down by the hearth with me, relax and nourish your intuitive, creative, nature-loving, witchy soul.

If you’re feeling comfortable, please reach out and connect with me for a reading, come to a circle or sign up for the Cauldron Collective newsletter below, and you’ll receive The Witches’ Wheel– a free ebook with info on the Witches’ sabbats and moon phases with affirmations and journal prompts for your own practice.

xo

Serena

Receive first dibs on events, new products & my FREE ebook- The Witches’ Wheelby signing up for my newsletter below!

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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.