The Cauldron- Sacred Symbol & Tool of the Witch

What comes to mind when you see a cauldron? Witches casting spells, a bubbling potion, or perhaps a hearty stew cooking over a fire? The cauldron is historically both a very mundane and mystical object that continues to be a powerful symbol of many things. It is one of my favourite tools as a Witch and a representation of my practice and path.

In celebration of The Cauldron Goddess’ birthday month (we are one year old!), I thought I’d share a bit about my own reflections and experiences with the cauldron- as a symbol and sacred tool of the Witch.

The Hearth & Cooking

At its most mundane, the cauldron is a cooking pot. A staple of our ancestors far and wide, this portable and durable vessel has served humanity for generations, providing nourishment, and sustaining life.

The pot cooking over the fire conjures deep memories of comfort, warmth, family, and home. It is for this reason that the cauldron is a strong symbol of the hearth. For nomadic peoples, I imagine the cauldron felt like an anchor of home while on the move. For those rooted to place, the cauldron held a central position to the home and served as faithful provider of nourishment and comfort.

The cauldron is the container where raw, unintegrated ingredients come together to create something delicious and sustaining for our work and growth. Cooking may seem very mundane yet cooking always involves a transformation of energy and materials. There is creative energy and magick weaved into the process.

Cooking has historically been deemed ‘women’s work’ because of its nurturing and domestic properties. Patriarchy has devalued these qualities and therefore the healing or magickal aspects of cooking are less valued than its artistic or competitive forms. There are currently so many competitive cooking shows taking centre stage, that it almost seems that for this ‘woman’s work’ to be valued, it must fit into the capitalistic/patriarchal paradigm, along with other art forms that have become more about competition than soul-nourishment and love.

There’s nothing wrong with refining one’s skills, of course. But, I suppose I think of cooking as something soulful, as our original magick, the mother of all rituals and witchcraft. It is where one thing becomes another and serves to heal and nourish us. We can add intentions, prayers, healing herbs and energy medicine into our culinary creations. There is power in the cauldron. It is here where we can connect the cauldron to the Witch.

The Witch

The Witch is the one who nourishes and sustains life, who heals and transforms, who makes magick and serves their family and community.

Healing and Witchcraft are deeply intertwined. Through history, the village Wise Woman was the healer and midwife everyone would call on when ill or in labor. With the influence of patriarchy, colonization and modern medicine, folks who followed the old ways, the Wise Woman ways were punished, ostracized or even killed. They twisted the healing, life sustaining Wise Woman into something evil, a repulsive and fearful death-bringer or spirit of chaos- a ‘Witch’ in the negative sense of the word. Yet the Witch is and always was simply a Healer. The word Witch is connected to ‘wit’ and wisdom, implying that witches were also sacred knowledge keepers.

Women’s power as healers and community leaders has been diminished over centuries and we are still in the process of reclaiming this power within ourselves. For me, using the cauldron is one way that I reclaim my power as Witch and Healer.

The cauldron remains a powerful symbol of healing and witchcraft to the modern psyche. Since we don’t use cauldrons much anymore, it also represents something ancient and mysterious from the past. We associate it with spells, potions, witches and some other mysterious things related to the sacred feminine…

The Womb & Creativity

The cauldron can be seen as representing the Mother energy. It contains, nourishes, sustains, and protects the creation within it. The pagan chant ‘one thing becomes another, in the mother, in the mother’ is one of my favourites to chant over my cauldron as I make a brew or do a spell. The cauldron is resonant with the womb, as a vessel of nourishment and protection of new life.

Within our womb space, in our pelvic bowl lies the energy of creation. Our sensual, sexual energy and our creative ‘flow’ stem from here, whether or not we have a physical womb. Those of us with wombs can also physically carry life here.

The pelvic bowl is very much like our own physical cauldron which holds our creative power.

An Embodied Cauldron Practice

In the Irish bardic poem, ‘The Cauldron of Poesy’, three internal cauldrons found within the body are referenced. The Cauldron of Warming, the Cauldron of Motion, and the Cauldron of Wisdom. I created my own personal grounding practice with these 3 cauldrons, even before I had heard of this poem, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it.

The Cauldron of Warming sits within our pelvic bowl, where our creative ‘fuel’ resides. I like to think of this cauldron sitting within my pelvic bowl with its 3 legs energetically reaching to the earth like roots from my sitz bones and coccyx. I meditate on this cauldron, imagining its contents as fluid creative energies within me. I notice if they are stagnant, clouded, toxic or flowing, vibrant and well. I feel my connection the Earth Mother and imagine that healing energy flowing through my cauldron. I chant ‘oooohhh’ here, while connecting to the energies of the land. Chanting helps to transmute any negative energies.

The Cauldron of Motion sits in the heart centre. Here, we experience what ‘moves’ us, such as art, poetry, music, love, relationships, sorrow, and grief. I imagine this cauldron’s legs energetically connected to the cauldron below it, and its contents fluid again. Ideally, the energies flow clearly and vibrate with love. Chanting helps to transmute the energy. I chant ‘eeeeee’ here while connecting to the energies of water and sea. The combination of ‘ooohhh’, ‘eeee’ and ‘oooo’ sounds are one way to connect with the Awen- the Divine inspiration that flows through all life.

The Cauldron of Wisdom sits within or atop the head, and I imagine it open, facing upward to the skies above as a direct link to Spirit and the Awen- the divine inspiration that flows through all life. I imagine it receiving inspiration from above and its contents are the energy of flowing light. I imagine my thoughts cleared and stagnant energy released. Through this meditation I become a channel for the Awen, for divine inspiration, for the healing energy of the goddess Cerridwen- my matron goddess to come through. I chant ‘oooo’ here to transmute the energies.

Doing this practice helps me to become a channel for creative energies on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

Cerridwen- The Cauldron Goddess Herself

Cerridwen is one of the main goddesses I work with, and she is the classic Witch from Welsh myth. I share her story and some of my thoughts on it here. Cerridwen is famous for her cauldron in which she brews a potion of Awen- divine inspiration and knowledge for her ugly son, Afagddu, for whom she wants a better life. The potion takes a year and a day to complete. After all this hard work it accidentally ends up going to a servant boy, Gwion, who through a process of initiation and transformation becomes the most inspirational of bards, Taliesin.

Cerridwen’s cauldron is important because her role is that of Wise Woman, Witch, Healer and Mother. Her cauldron is like an extension of herself.

When her potion went to the wrong boy, Cerridwen was quite angry her spell went awry. The cauldron cracked and broke, turning the potion to poison. Its breaking could symbolise Cerridwen’s emotions, or a forced breaking of her old self and initiation to a new level of spiritual growth. It could represent the laws of magick being broken, or the appearance of fate taking over.

Cerridwen is also an initiatrix of change and transformation. Not only does she push Gwyion to become more than he ever thought he could be, but she too, is transformed in the process.

There is much symbolism in Cerridwen’s story- about power, fate, the wise use of magick and the emotional intensity of motherhood. The cauldron can represent any of this as well.

Transformation & Rebirth

I think of the cauldron as symbolic of the transformational events in our lives. Those challenging times where we must change or be changed. Those times where we must surrender to a power greater than us to carry us forward. When we must let go of who we are to become who we are meant to be. The cauldron is like a crucible- an agent of change, transformation and rebirth. What goes in comes out as something new.

Can you think of a time in your life where you underwent deep internal changes that left you feeling like you died and were reborn? That’s a cauldron experience. I think these can also be felt as smaller and less dramatic as well, like when we are pushed out of our comfort zone and make changes to adapt.

I feel like I am undergoing some kind cauldron experience most of the time, in at least one area of my life. Some cauldron experiences are slow boiling and take time, like Cerridwen’s brew, for a year or several. Others are more fast-acting and short term.

Some cauldron life experience examples are: Undergoing an intense course or learning program where you learn new skills and change as a person; Becoming a mother or a parent; Losing a loved one and your sense of self being changed from the loss; Divorce or separation; Becoming ill; Healing from illness; Being in a relationship that tests you; Moving to a new place; Changing Careers, etc.

One thing about the cauldron is that what goes in comes out differently, in a new form. Our transformational experiences remake us anew. We are not meant to stagnate or stay the same forever.

The cauldron is the mother that pushes us to grow and become who we have the potential to be. She is also that safe container who enables us to be vulnerable while the change is happening.

I explore the relationship between the cauldron and holding safe space for healing & transformation in this post.

How to use the Cauldron as a Witch’s tool

The cauldron may not be used in everyday cooking anymore, but we can use it as a magickal tool to enhance our own personal healing and transformation. Cauldrons come in every size, from large dinner-size cauldrons to tiny purse-size cauldrons. I love them all. Here are a few ways I like to use them:

Smoke cleansing: The cauldron makes an excellent holder for herbs and resins. You can place a piece of charcoal within it and burns your smoke cleansing herbs on it or, you can place the herbs directly into the cauldron and light them. The smaller cauldrons are great for this.

Grounding practice: The cauldron is usually made of iron and therefore an excellent grounding tool. You can use it like I do in the above grounding ritual or make up your own!

Burning spells: The cauldron is a safe container to burn pieces of paper with words written on it or other objects that are part of your spells.

Scrying: The black cauldron is a perfect backdrop for scrying. Fill the cauldron with water and take your time to ground and centre before gazing into the cauldron to see visions. This works best with a medium to large cauldron.

Potions & Cooking: Use a larger cauldron to hold your potions or healing soups, the old-fashioned way. I purchased a couple of beautiful large cauldrons from Bristow Iron Works, including the stand and hooks for this purpose.

An altar in itself: The cauldron can make a wonderful keeper of sacred energy. A large cauldron can be filled with crystals, herbs, beautiful images, and objects to anchor the sacred into your space. A small cauldron makes a great travel altar- fill it with herbs and crystals to uplift your energy while away.

Salt Bowl or Centrepiece: I have used a cauldron as a salt bowl and centrepiece for my dining room table. I filled it with salt to absorb negative energies, and with herbs and crystals to help bring harmony to my dinner table.

Symbol: You can use the cauldron as a symbol on your altar, your desk or bedside table for anything we discussed in this blog- symbol of your inner Witch or Wise Woman, the womb, the sacred feminine or Mother energy, transformation & rebirth, etc. Keep it as a reminder of your magick!

If you are interested in the symbolism of the cauldron and its connections to myths, I highly recommend the book The Witch’s Cauldron, by Laura Tempest Zakroff.

What does the cauldron symbolise for you? Do you use one in your practice?

May the cauldron bring you the warmth and soul-nourishment you need in these transformational times.

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 and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

9 Healing Rituals For the Womb Space

The collective womb is on fire right now. Since Roe vs Wade being overturned, plus the plethora of patriarchal horrors happening in the US and around the world, womb-bearers, women, 2SLGBTQIA+ and IBPOC are holding alot right now. We’re holding rage, fear, anger, grief.

Our rights and boundaries are being violated.

Collectively, partriarchy has wounded generations upon generations of us for millennia now. The trauma adds up. It reverberates and echoes through us, in our hearts and bodies, never to be forgotten. It arises as pain through families, through women, through all of us. It can never be silenced, for it seeks to be transmuted and healed. Thankfully, this can be done, in many small and powerful ways.

We all have our own ways of healing and challenging the patriarchy. It is all valid and needed- whether it is sharing our stories, protesting, signing petitions, voting, healing our mother wounds, making different choices than our foremothers, parenting our children differently, or reclaiming our body, our voice, our power in various ways. All of this helps. Every little thing helps. There are witchy ways of doing this, too, through simple healing rituals which I will share in this post.

For many of us, especially those who are empathic, we process collective feminine pain as well as matrilineal ancestral pain physically in the womb and pelvic bowl.

Over the years, due to struggling with endometriosis (and its cousin, adenomyosis), I’ve discovered how my womb is a powerful barometer of my emotional and creative health, as well as that of the collective and my family tree. I know that many other womb bearers have had similar experiences.

I’ve had the pleasure of learning a plethora of ways to heal the womb space and I’d like to share some of these with you during this challenging time. To keep things succinct for a single blog post focused on witchcraft and healing, I’d like to share my most effective, accessible and simple ways of healing the womb space. These are through connecting with the element of water, movement, and creative expression.

Bridal Veil Falls, Kagawong, Manitoulin Island

All of the rituals I mention are free and mostly accessible. You can add your own personal beliefs or embellishments as you see fit!

Empathy & Collective Womb Trauma

When I heard the news about the overturning of Roe vs Wade, my womb started to cramp, twist and tighten as it normally did with menstrual cramps. This happens to me sometimes when I hear stories about sexual abuse, human trafficking, forced sterilisation, femicide or anything related to assault on vulnerable people, women, girls or womb bearers. Even if the incident isn’t happening to me directly, my womb ‘remembers’, knows and feels this pain on a deep level.

My womb hurt for those who feel trapped, who will no longer have the right to safe, accessible healthcare.  It hurt for those who miscarry, for those who’ve lost babies, for those who’ve been harmed sexually, for those who’s wombs are in chronic pain, for those who’ve suffered through abuse and trauma to this area physically and energetically.

As an empath, I am used to carrying my own issues in my tissues as well as others’ pain in my body. This is why taking care of my health as well as cleansing, protection and boundaries are necessary. 

I spent several days moving through my own feelings that were triggered by the collective, which helped to release the physical pain. I did this through several methods, but the most powerful one was through connecting with water.

Lake Ontario- my home

I sat by the lake and told her my feelings. As the waves crept up onto the shore, they stroked my heart into releasing its grief, sadness and anger. Grief over the children killed in mass shootings, grief over gender based violence, the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, grief as I move into a new stage as mother to an increasingly independent teen, grief for the babies I couldn’t have, grief for the ways I needed to be mothered but couldn’t be. Anger at the patriarchal powers that oppress us, anger at the constant assault on the feminine, on the earth, anger at all who betray us. The lake witnessed it all, held space for it all, reminded me that She is always there for me, for all of us, supporting us through it all.

The water helped my tears to flow, and the emotional energy left my body, relieving the physical pain.

Sometimes healing is as simple as letting something bigger hold us tenderly for a moment.

Healing with the Water Element

Kagawong, Manitoulin Island

The waters of our mother’s womb was our first home, and the oceans are our source of life on earth. Water is the element of the Great Mother, the womb, our Source of Life.

Have you ever just sat on a beach, lake, river or ocean and just felt that overwhelming sense of love, that maternal whisper that it is ok to let go? Have you ever sat by water and just cried for no apparent reason?  

I have, several times. Myself and many folks I know soften when they are by water. Lives run by patriarchy discourage softness and feeling. Softness is equated to weakness. Softness is equated to vulnerability and emotionality. Patriarchy deems these negative things. Yet our emotions must flow regularly or they become toxic and come out in harmful ways.

We need regular softening in order to feel and release our emotions. This is necessary to stay healthy in mind, body and heart. It is necessary for healing the womb space and healing the world.  

Here are some simple rituals for womb space healing with water:

  • Soak in a bath or take a cleansing shower. In the bath, fully relax and allow the water to melt away tension. Notice the feelings that come up. Allow yourself to feel them. Cry if you need to. Exhale and voice your frustration or exhaustion. Let it all go into the bath. Let it all go down the drain when you are done. Use some Epsom salts or sea salts to enhance the water’s ability to cleanse and absorb negative energy.

If you don’t have a bathtub, take a shower and feel the cleansing properties of the stream of water flow down your back. Imagine you are under a beautiful waterfall. Let it cleanse negative energy from your aura and soften your muscles. Let all the negative energy flow down the drain.

  • Visit a lake, pond, stream or ocean. Relax, either sitting or lying down near the waters edge or with your entire body in the water if that is feasible. Imagine the Great Mother energy is present in this body of water. Each wave or ripple is her love being sent out to you. She extends her heart to you. Receive her love. Surrender your cares and worries to her. Let her support you. Let her take care of you. You can imagine the waves taking your cares, worries, grief or fear away. You can remember that you are held by the Great Mother through all of this. Let any feelings that come up to flow freely.
  • Make Full Moon Water. On the night of the full moon (or the night before or after), leave out a clear jar of drinking water to be charged with moonlight. Make sure it has a lid so bugs and critters don’t get in it. Leave it out overnight to absorb the lunar energies, then bring it in in the morning. Drink your water slowly over the next few days, as a little daily ritual. Thank the Great Mother or Goddess or Source of Life as you call it. Imagine you are drinking in pure maternal love, nourishment and healing. Ask that the water nourish your cells, cleanse and heal your womb space.

Healing Through Movement & Sounding

Yoni Mudra with movement

In Yoga, the womb space is energetically connected to the Sacral Chakra, or Svadhisthana (meaning ‘one’s own abode’ in Sanskrit). One of the functions of this centre is to receive pleasure. Pleasure can come from following one’s instincts through movement or consensual or solo sexual activity. It can be accessed through a variety of sensual pleasures. Simply moving in ways that feel good to our body can be very healing to the womb space. This might be as simple as rocking back and forth, gently stretching or curling up in a fetal position. Making sounds that come naturally to us without filtering them is also helpful. Sighing, growling, yelling, releasing our emotions through sound is a powerful way to clear any stagnant emotional energies in the womb space. The womb and throat chakras are connected. The health of one influences the other.

Here are some simple rituals for womb space healing through movement & sounding:

  • Put on some music and move instinctually. Use music that helps you to relax and drop into the sensations of your body, at a tempo that feels good for you. You can begin the exercise either lying down, seated or standing. Focus on one area of the body at a time, allowing it to move how it wants to. Follow what feels good. Start with your head and neck. Then move to the shoulders and arms. Then hands. Then upper back and chest. Then your spine. Then your belly and hips. Make your way down the body, one area at a time. Move in pleasurable ways. If something doesn’t feel good, change what you’re doing. Go slower, make it smaller or shift to another area. It’s not about looking a certain way, its about following your instincts, flowing with curiosity and comfort.
  • Get vocal. Inhale for 4 counts, and exhale for 6 counts. Repeat 2 more times. Now, instead of simply exhaling, allow sound to come out naturally. This may sound like a sigh, growl, or any combination of sounds. The point is that it is authentic and unfiltered. It doesn’t need to sound pretty! It’s not for anybody else, just for you to release. The womb and throat are connected, which is why we can’t help but make sound when orgasming or giving birth. Making sound helps to create a clearer pathway between the womb and throat.
  • Release anger with movement & sound. You can do a sort of combination of the two rituals above by playing some music that reflects or activates your anger. I sometimes like to bang a drum instead of using recorded music. Once you feel the anger rising, move instinctively to release it. I do a lot of jumping up and down and intentionally shaking out the anger from my body. I shake my hands, my head, my hips. While doing all of this, make sounds! Scream, yell growl, swear! Be mindful of your surroundings, however and make sure you are safe. Be aware of any hazards in the area that could hurt you or others before you begin. Once your anger hits a peak, let yourself slow down and follow your body’s instincts towards pleasure again.

Healing Through Creative Expression

Intuitive drawing

As mentioned above, the womb and throat are the channels for our creative expression. The womb not only nourishes its creation, but births it into the world. The womb space knows how to create, nourish, release and let go. It houses the cycles of life, death and rebirth. This energy can manifest in many ways in our lives, as it is not limited to the creation and nourishment of children. It is present in all creative acts.

When we think of creativity we often think of the fine arts, music, singing, dancing, poetry, etc. However, any activity that includes manifestation of one’s authentic feelings, passion or desire is a form of creative expression. This may include gardening, cooking, creating a home, birthing and raising children, sex, building a business, making magick, creating community, etc.

Here are some simple rituals for womb space healing through creative expression:

  • Write from the womb space. I used to do this a lot with my womb healing clients and called it ‘womb writing’. Take a moment to sit quietly and do a few calming breaths. Drop into your body. Place your non-dominant hand on your lower belly and hold a pen with the other hand. Rest a notepad or journal on your lap or nearby table. Keep following your breath and relaxing your body with each exhale. Draw your awareness to your womb space. Feel the warmth of your hand on your belly. Let your womb space connect with your hand. Once you feel a connection between the two, like they can talk to each other, begin to listen.

Ask your womb space ‘How do you feel?’ and wait for an answer. Write it down with your other hand. Then ask ‘what do you need?’ Wait for the answer, then write it down. You can also just do some automatic writing while your non-dominant hand is on your lower belly. Don’t over analyse or think about it. Just write! Read it to yourself later.  Notice how it makes you feel.

  • Draw from the womb space. This is another activity I did a lot with clients. Similar to the womb writing above, except, instead of a pen, have some coloured pastels or crayons or pencils nearby. Take your time to slow your breathing and drop into your body. With one hand on your womb, wait until you feel a connection. Once you do, ask your womb ‘What do you wish to create?’ Then, follow your instincts and choose a color and begin to draw. It doesn’t have to look like anything in particular, it can be completely abstract. Again, this is not for anyone else but you. Look at it later and notice what feelings are evoked from your image.
  • Create through other mediums. What is your favourite way to express yourself? It may not be writing or drawing. Maybe it’s dance, or gardening, scrapbooking or something else? Choose whatever medium you feel drawn to, and practice the same exercises as above, linking your awareness with the womb space. Many of us more visual and perfectionistic folks can get caught up in how things look and need to remember that in these exercises, it’s the feeling behind it that matters most. But do look at it afterward- what is the essence of what is trying to come through? How does this manifest in your life?
Womb healing altar

Our womb space is a very powerful centre, with the ability to create, nourish, destroy and heal. Like this centre in our bodies, we are capable of constant transformation and rebirth. We can rise again and again from the ashes, never to be defeated.

I hope at least one of these rituals resonated with you. Do you have your own womb space healing rituals that would be helpful to others? If so, please share in the comments!

May the love of the Great Mother hold us all through these times.

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 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 and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.

Tending to our Inner Hearth + Meditation Video

What does ‘coming home to oneself’ mean?

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

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

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

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

The Hearth of the Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

In one’s own abode

Yoni mudra

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Inner Hearth?

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

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

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

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

From the Goddess Oracle by Janto-Marashinsky

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

When we Leave Home

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

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

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

Inner Hearth Meditation

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

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

Xo

Serena

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 and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.