blessings · crafts · parenting · sunbeams

Hello!

Sunbeams are lovely little pockets of light, which illuminate anything they touch. I like to think of life as being full of sunbeams. It isn’t always sunny – thunder clouds can roll in when we least expect them; fog can engulf us; rain will lash down, making our feet soggy and heavy. 

But then a soft breeze will blow the clouds away, revealing rainbows and sunbeams – beautiful little pockets of colour and warmth. Love, laughter, moments in time forever carved in our memories. These vary in depth – from the birth of a baby to indulging in a favourite cake; climbing a mountain to snuggling under a soft blanket.

I’m Mags, SAHM to four wee rays of light. Being a SAHM is full of happy memories-in-the-making, although my feet do get soggy from time to time. I like to do crafty things, some with my children, some without. I was a teacher before I had my children, and I may teach again one day. For now though I’m embarking on the role of blogger. This blog is to be my log of sunbeams. With a pinch of sass! 

post

Advertisements
eclectic ideas · finding yourself · inspiration · journal · magick · pagan · spirituality · witchy

The Sparkly Grimoire

Since I’ve started exploring my witchy side, I thought it would be a good idea to write everything down. In doing so, I hope to learn what works for me, what doesn’t work, plus I can log all of the new discoveries I make along the way.

A few years ago I looked at bullet journals (bujo) and thought I’d start one of my own. There were so many beautiful spreads on Pinterest, and the styles really appealed to me. Just one catch – I’m artistic in the creative sense, but I can’t draw for toffee! I laboured over the first five pages of my bujo, but a weekly spread took me about two weeks to get “just right”, so I abandoned it. There are so many ways of creating a bujo without using the artistic spreads, but by the time I came across them, I was scunnered with it all!

I kept diaries in my early teens, and it’s always been my intention to start one up again, but apart from my brief liaison with a bujo, I’ve never got round to it.

Until now.

In my post The Magick Within I talk about how I’m not following any specific witchy tradition. I want to discover what works for me; what resonates most with me, without feeling the need to follow any strict teachings. There will of course be some rules that must be adhered to. However, there are certain rules which must be followed in cooking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment or mix things up a bit.

I’m going to write down everything witchy that appeals to me. I’ll include moon phases, the elements, herbal remedies, and spells. I’ll also note my experiences with oracle and tarot cards, plus Sabbat celebrations. I have plans for a magickal garden space too. Anything and everything I come across on my spiritual journey will be included, so that I can adjust if and when I need to. It’s also a wonderful heirloom to pass down to my children, should it be a path they wish to follow.

A witch’s journal can be known as a grimoire or a book of shadows. There are many different images on Pinterest and Instagram of beautiful leather-bound books, covered in magickal symbols. My grimoire is an A4 gold sparkly notebook that I bought on sale at my local supermarket! It looks like it’s been sprinkled with gold faery dust, which suits me just fine, as it looks like magick just waiting to happen!

Do you have a special way of recording your path? Is there anything else you would include in a sparkly grimoire? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

books · elements · finding yourself · growth · magick · Moving forward · pagan · reading · spells · spirituality · wishes · witchy

The Magick Within

In my post A Spiritual Life I talked about how I had stepped away from the religion that I had grown up with, and was getting a feel for what I believe to be a more natural approach to spirituality. I’m pleased to say that the more I research the pagan ways, the more I truly feel that it is a path I was meant to follow. In my childhood religion, the word pagan was synonymous with unspiritual – not quite evil, but certainly not something anyone would want to be associated with. What astounds me most about this, is the fact that every Christian holiday has its roots buried deep within the realms of the pagan festivities. Of course, this was done in order to make Christianity more palatable to the pagans, but in fact it has actually made it easier for me to go back to the old ways, as each Sabbat contains elements of the holidays that I was brought up with.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my Mum. She mentioned that my Grandad (her Dad) had been a pagan. He died when I was sixteen, although I hadn’t seen him since I was three. I was sad for all the conversations I couldn’t have with him on the subject of spirituality, as well as all the knowledge he would have passed on, but in a way I felt more connected to him, as if pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together.

Along with the pagan way of life, I have also been delving into witchcraft. Again, previously synonymous with evil and unspiritual, I have found it to be a very natural progression in the way I live my life. At first I was merely interested in herbal remedies for my family, but this interest graduated into exploring how invoking different deities can have an effect on these remedies. I’m currently exploring which spirits I most feel an affinity with, as it’s a very personal two-way relationship. I do have a particular interest in the Faeries, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are interested in me! In Catholicism people would graduate towards particular Angels or Saints, asking them to intercede for them and grant favours. Invoking spirits for favours/blessings is no different, although caution should be taken, as some spirits can be quite mischievous if they aren’t handled in the correct way. I’m finding Judika Illes’ book Encyclopedia of Spirits to be very detailed and informative.

Witchcraft is an umbrella term for so many different forms of magick. The Wiccan rede includes the phrase “harm none”, which I think is just good common sense, no matter what your beliefs are. I’m still researching most areas, finding which ones appeal to me the most. Botanicals and moon magick are up there, and I’m looking forward to the arrival of my first deck of tarot cards. I’ve been reading about different types of witch, and can confidently say that I’m likely to remain a solitary, walking my own path and not following any set tradition. Looking at the different profiles I’d say I flit between the Kitchen Witch and Hedge Witch depictions.

If you read my Feeling Bookish post, you’ll know the relationship I have with books. In this instance they are more of a friend than ever, as I truly believe that knowledge is power. I’ve read/am reading multiple books on the Sabbats and magick, cross-referencing everything to make sure I know what I’m doing. It was my birthday this month, and I was kindly gifted some new reading material, as well as some money – which I of course spent on books!

I believe we all have magick in us. Some are more in-tune to it than others, much in the same way some of us are great dancers and others have two left feet! I’m enjoying exploring the magick within, and already incorporating it into my everyday life. As I grow more confident in my practice, I’ll be sharing my experiences here. How will you explore your inner magick?

activities for children · blessings · family · growth · Moving forward · Ostara · pagan · spells · spirituality · Spring · Spring Equinox · sunbeams · teaching and learning · the simple things · witchy

An Ostara Celebration

The Spring Equinox is upon us, bringing lengthening days and the hope of a fruitful growing season. Light and dark are equal, bringing balance for a fleeting moment, before the light triumphs. Seeds are sprouting tiny green shoots, trees are budding, and animals are emerging from their dens. The earth is warming up; nature’s incubator at the ready.

As with the other festivals on the Wheel of the Year, I wanted to mark the occasion. The wonderful thing about the pagan festivities is that they open themselves up to so many different ways of honouring them. I decided to keep it fairly simple, since I’m only starting out. I have my eye on some more involved rituals for future celebrations, but for now my priority is getting a feel for each Sabbat and identifying which facets work for me.

I focussed on some of the more well-known symbols of Ostara:

  • eggs and rabbits/hares for fertility
  • candles to welcome back the light
  • flowers as a representation of the warming earth and its bounty

Myself and my wee rays dyed some boiled eggs last night, then feasted on them for breakfast this morning. The children squealed with delight as I served them up – I foresee colourful breakfasts becoming a more regular affair!

As the children ate, I read to them from Wendy Pfeffer’s A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox. We learned how people celebrated the end of Winter thousands of years ago, and how different cultures had their own rituals – some of which still hold fast today!

We then set up a mini Ostara altar, using an empty egg carton for the main structure. We filled it with some of the colourful eggs, chocolate mini eggs, candles, and flowers. My littlest-middle helped me to collect some moss from the garden, and we added that too.

I also had the main display set up in the living room – flowers, more candles and chocolate eggs, a wooden rabbit (procured from my littlest ray’s toy box for the day), and my celebration ring (adorned with a bee, a ladybird, and a butterfly.)

When the children arrived home from school, we scampered into the garden, where we planted some seeds at the time the equinox occurred. (16:15) While doing so, we conducted a growing spell, summoning the elements to bestow on us a plentiful growing season.

We then came in for dinner – mini quiches, followed by chocolate mini eggs for pudding…all in keeping with the egg symbolism.

After dinner, we all traipsed into the girls’ bedroom, where we had a lovely view of the sun setting before bedtime.

Here in Scotland, we had a beautiful day for our Ostara celebrations. It was an apt welcome to the growing season, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Happy Ostara to you all!

blessings · books · family · growth · lists · reading · sunbeams · teaching and learning · the simple things

Whimsical Wednesday: Feeling Bookish (Part 1)

I love books: the smell; the texture of the paper; the soft rustle as the page turns; the plethora of information/new worlds/fictional friends hidden between the pages. I do have a Kindle, but I tend to use it more as a tablet than for reading. I can see that electronic books have their place in the reading world, but I much prefer the experience of reading a physical book. Of course there can be implications for the planet, but that’s a debate for another post.

My Dad always tells the story of when I was two, sitting on my potty with a book – I really have been reading even before I can remember. I was desperate to learn, and when I finally did understand that all those symbols joined together to make words, I felt like I’d unlocked a treasure trove of possibilities. My first time in a library was much like Matilda’s: open-mouthed wonder at the fact that I could read all of those books, that I could even take them home to read!

I was lucky, in that our local library was four doors down from our house. When I was a child I spent every afternoon after school choosing three or four books. I would then take them home and read them all that night. When I would return them the next afternoon, checking out some more, I don’t think the librarian believed that I’d actually read them!

My favourites included the My Best Fiend series, by Sheila Lavelle; The Babysitters Club series, by Ann M. Martin; the Sweet Valley Twins series by Francine Pascal, and anything by Judy Blume. These were the books my friends read too, and we talked about them in the playground and swapped them under our school desks during class time. My Nanny, Grandad, Great Auntie Marg, and Auntie Lucy used to send me books for my birthday and Christmas. These books were always classics, such as the Discworld series and The Chronicles of Narnia. I’m sad to say that at the time, these books didn’t really appeal to me. I did read The Little House on the Praire series, as well as my childhood favourites – the Anne of Green Gables books. Only now am I revisiting those books that I’d initially cast aside, taking in every word, and seeing them through the eyes of my nine-year-old son, who devours any book he can get his hands on! It’s so lovely to share the beautiful Chronicles of Narnia set that I was given for my ninth birthday with him – a true family heirloom-in-the-making!

When I went to university, I studied Scottish Literature. A lot of classic texts were included in the syllabus, as well as a few modern ones. My absolute favourite book was discovered when I was in my first year – Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. The story is quite gritty, but I love that it is written in the Scottish vernacular. When I first opened the book, the words swam before my eyes, but after the first page the words flowed and thrust me right in the middle of the various thoughts and escapades of a drug addict.

My love of literature was the reason I decided to train as an English teacher. There are so many lessons you can relay to teenagers, using books as the building blocks. One of my favourite things to teach is how to interpret different texts; a skill which is especially important today, given the amount of misinformation and fake news that circles the internet! It’s also fascinating to share texts that were written centuries ago, but contain messages that are still so relevant today.

I have a to-read list that is constantly expanding. The books on it differ in genre, as (similar to every other aspect of my life) I have eclectic taste. There are children’s books: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Swallows and Amazons; the How to Train Your Dragon series, classics: Dracula; The Age of Innocence; Bleak House, and non-fiction: The Little Book of Hygge; The Second Sex; The Selfish Gene. These examples are a miniscule snapshot of my list – I don’t expect to ever get to the point where every single one is ticked off! That’s the way it should be too. How awful would it be if there were no more books left to read; no more new characters to meet; no more unique thoughts shared from inspirational people?

It is said frequently – reading has so many benefits. It gives us knowledge, teaches us lessons, and lets us escape from reality for a short while. I use it as one of the many ways to spend time with my children. My biggest ray, as I mentioned earlier, ploughs through books of all genres. He can retain facts in a way that amazes me, and soaks up information like a sponge. My biggest-middle isn’t as avid a reader (which I believe is down to her lack of confidence), but loves having stories read to her. We’re currently on book two of the Harry Potter series, and she delves into that magical world with enthusiasm every night. My littlest-middle is in the midst of learning to read, and has taken to it beautifully. She is now enjoying reading all her favourite books to her baby sister. My littlest ray is just starting to understand the concept of story time. We have read to each of the children from around the age of four months, starting with the Usborne That’s Not My… touchy-feely books.

It’s never too early (or too late) to kindle a person’s love of reading. Even ten minutes a day can be beneficial. So turn off the electronics, grab a snuggly blanket and a drink, and settle down for some thrills/adventure/romance/whatever takes your fancy! I’m off to dive back into The Big Book of Practical Spells.

Which book are you currently reading?

eco · family · growth · Moving forward · our planet · sustainability

#12ecothings: The 1st Quarter

This year one of our aims as a family is to be more environmentally conscious. We’ve always recycled, and we’re now on our fourth round of using cloth nappies, but feel we need to up our game a bit for the sake of the planet.

In January I was full of ideas on how our mega-eco life was going to look. We were going to shop small and local; go plastic-free in the home; wear organic, sustainable clothes; reduce our household waste. Having these ideas, I wanted to put them all into practice right away. Cue an overwhelmed Mags, on the hunt for dinner and almost crying because everything available at the supermarket was wrapped in plastic!

Instead of going into full meltdown mode, I took a deep breath and slowed down. Meaning that my kids got to eat that night! I’d seen a post on Instagram, where someone had started #12ecothings. The idea is that you aim to make one eco switch per month, so that by the end of the year you will have made twelve lifelong changes for the good of the planet. This seemed a lot more feasible to me, so we had a think about what our first few #12ecothings were going to be.

In January, we made sure that everyone in the family (including our littlest ray) had a reusable water bottle. We went with Klean Kanteen bottles, as they have a variety of styles to suit any need. Myself, my husband, and our biggest ray have insulated bottles, meaning we can use them for hot AND cold drinks. The two older girls have the Kid Kanteen sport cap – ideal for school and outings. Our littlest ray has the Kid Kanteen sippy cap, which is great for when we’re out and about. Gone is the need for plastic bottles, cartons of juice, or single-use coffee cups – plus it means extra pennies in our pockets!

February saw us re-evaluating our oral hygiene. We’d been making noises about moving to bamboo toothbrushes for a while – so when our toothbrushes needed replacing, we decided it would be our second switch. We decided to go with We Are Bristle, as they offer a subscription service. At the moment only my husband and I have them, as the children’s plastic ones are still usable. When they next need a new toothbrush, we’ll make the switch for them too. We’ve also been trying out the toothy tabs from Lush, to see whether they would be suitable for replacing toothpaste in plastic tubes. They do leave your mouth feeling very clean and have a lovely natural taste to them, but it would be expensive for the whole family to use them. I’ll be shopping around for a more cost-effective solution. This may even mean making my own. My husband made us all some mouthwash, using only cloves and water, and used a washed-out glass jar to store it in. He found the recipe in a book I borrowed from the library and it works brilliantly!

Another switch we’ve talked about making for a while has been the transfer from loo roll to family cloth. Family cloth is simply another term for reusable toilet wipes. This change isn’t actually a difficult one for us, as we use cloth nappies and cloth baby wipes. This is just the next natural step for our family. I had been putting off this switch, merely because I thought it was going to be an initial expense (although will save us money in the long run.) We use Cheeky Wipes for nappy changes, plus we have a hands and faces kit. They also do a toilet wipes kit, which look fantastic, but I couldn’t see us forking out for one any time soon. So I made my own, cutting up my biggest ray’s old vests and storing them in a spare basket. The idea is that they can be used for ALL toilet visits, with the used ones going into the nappy bucket. I’ve already tested them, and they feel so soft and luxurious on my derrière! Yep – old vests!

They aren’t the pretty wipes you see on Pinterest, but they do the job! I think sometimes people can lose sight of the real issue when going eco. It’s not about buying all the beautifully rustic things that make your home look the part. It’s about making use of what you already have. This switch definitely ticks that box for me! I should add that we will still provide recycled toilet paper for our guests, although they will of course be welcome to use our cut-up vests!

After my initial near-meltdown, I’ve learned that in the case of shifting to a more eco-friendly life, slow and steady is best. It gives you time to evaluate which changes you need to make, as well as the best way to go about making those changes. You don’t need to spend lots of money on the latest eco-trends to live a more environmentally conscious life. Making swaps as things run out is the way to go, along with cutting out single-use items. If everyone made just one change, the planet would be in a much better state. Which changes will you make?

activities for children · family · finding yourself · growth · Imbolc · lists · Moving forward · pagan · spirituality · Spring · the simple things · witchy

Whimsical Wednesday: Spring Invitations

Today my children and I spotted the first shoots of the Spring bulbs that we planted back in September. It seems hard to believe, given that we celebrated the shortest day less than three weeks ago! In another three weeks we celebrate Imbolc, the first day of Spring. At this time of year I usually turn my thoughts to Spring cleaning, DIY jobs around the house and (my favourite) gardening.

As I was researching Imbolc and the different ways we can celebrate it, I was delighted to find that I already did most of them, year after year. The pagan in me has clearly been there all along! In the run up to Imbolc, I decided to compile a wee list of activities/jobs that will prepare me for the arrival of Spring.

  1. Light candles to welcome back the light. (These can be battery operated ones – essential for when my little rays are about.)
  2. Clean all corners of the house. Blow those cobwebs away and prepare for new beginnings.
  3. Reorganise areas of the house to maximise order. (Also known as organised chaos in our house!)
  4. Organise routines/schedules and regularly review them.
  5. Soak in a herb and milk bath as a way of cleansing the body.
  6. Plant seeds, both indoors and out – welcome new growth.
  7. Set up a mini altar, using appropriate items to depict the season/festival. (I’ll be using my new celebration ring for this.)
  8.  Talk about the life cycle of a plant with my children. Look at age appropriate activities to further enhance their learning.
  9. Bake a seed cake.
  10. Create a family Spring-themed mood board. 
  11. Take a trip to the walled garden in our local park. Look out for signs of Spring approaching. 
  12. Cast a growth spell, in order that our growing season will prove fertile.
  13. Read Tree by Britta Teekentrup – a wonderful book that depicts the changing seasons.
  14. Talk about the goddess Brigid and her significance in the natural world.

    This is just a snapshot of the things I can do to prepare for the new season. I’m sure as the days pass, I’ll add more to the list. As will my children – they like to get involved and we spend many a school run discussing the finer details! I’m really looking forward to celebrating Imbolc, but for now I can get on with my preparations and embrace the coming of Spring and the promise of new life. 

    What are your Springtime rituals?

    blessings · family · finding yourself · Looking back · Moving forward · New Year · sunbeams · the simple things

    Writing the Next Chapter

    As 2017 fades, we begin to think about all the possibilities that 2018 holds – continuing the Winter Solstice Festivities theme of letting go of the old and embracing the new.

    One of my dearest friends used to say that she despised the New Year celebrations. The thought of having a big party to celebrate one day and making resolutions seemed pointless to her; it was just another day. I could see what she was getting at, to some extent. For many, it really is just an opportunity to drink as much as they can, whilst making the usual promises to lose weight/stop smoking/get fit – then abandoning said promises on day 3! 

    For the most part though, I love the idea of a fresh start. The year stretching ahead like the crisp, blank page of a book, waiting for your next chapter to be written. You can write about anything you like! Will this be the year you finally take up scuba diving/get to know your neighbours/take that road trip? It can take whatever form you like – beautiful poetry, all flowery and romantic; an epic novel, full of detail; a haiku – simple, yet elegant.

    There are some who like to be always moving forward, but it also does us well to look back. We can take note of what we were grateful for, any mistakes we made, as well as all the memories that we carved. 

    I have so much to be grateful for over this past year. The highlight, of course, being the birth of my littlest ray – my beautiful little Jessica Rose. She was a surprise baby, but very much wanted and a delight to us all. Watching her grow and become her own little self has been a wonderful (if slightly sleep-deprived) adventure. I expect our next chapter will be full of whatever antics she gets up to in her 2nd year.

    I also have my other wee rays to be thankful for. Littlest-middle, Keira, started school this year and is absolutely thriving. Her teacher described her as one of the strongest in her class, despite the fact that she is the youngest. She has been learning to cross-stitch this week and we’ve discovered that she’s a natural. I look forward to seeing what other knowledge and skills she acquires this next year. 

    Biggest-middle has overcome her fear of water this year at her swimming lessons. When she first started, she would only get into the water once she was wearing her armbands, had a pool noodle wrapped around her waist, a float in one hand, and the other hand clutching desperately to her instructor! Risk assessment at its best! With the help of her brilliant instructor though, she gradually began to drop the flotation aids, one by one. She is now swimming confidently, without any aids, and her instructor has told her that she will soon be moving up a class (possibly after the next block!) We’re also looking at sending her to a local dramatic arts class, to further bring out her love of performing. The next year should see my amazing wee Julia’s confidence soar!

    My biggest ray also did well at his swimming lessons this year. Andrew moved up to the next class and is thriving in the deeper water. Our intention is to send him to scuba diving lessons, as he seems pretty intent on pursuing a career in marine biology (although tomorrow he could be back to his aspiration of becoming a butler!) He is full of ambition, and absorbs facts on each one as he moves through life. I’m sure the next year will be no different!

    My lovely husband, Kevin, is the glue that binds us all together. He works hard to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table. After eleven and a half years of marriage, I still love him as much as ever, and I’m not afraid to shout it from the rooftops. I’m of the belief that if you love someone, say it. Some may feel it doesn’t need saying, but I really don’t get that. You shouldn’t say it because you need to, but because you want to. And I do – frequently!

    We have lots of aspirations for this year, both as individuals, and as a team. We intend to grow more of our own food, as well as continue with our eco journey. There are lots of plans for family time, as well as new discoveries to be made. I’m looking forward to exploring my witchiness, and letting nature be my guide. Most importantly, I’m looking forward to just being me: mother, wife, Mags.

    My pen is poised, ready to begin the next chapter, ready to write the next year as it unfolds. I’m ready to write the funny, exciting bits, as well as the more sombre moments. It’s important to include everything, since every moment, every word shapes who we are and who we will become. 

    What will your 2018 chapter say?