Review of “Witch” by Lisa Lister #wakethewitches

 

“I didn’t decide to become a witch. I remembered I was one.”

Witch, Lisa Lister

I’ve been following Lisa’s work for a while now. Her first two books, Code Red and Love Your Lady Landscape are really good reads and I’ve recommended them a number of times to people feeling out of tune with their bodies and menstrual cycles. So I was keen to read Witch.

DiDYV++2RHCXTUMv6Sg

The fact that Hay House had picked up the book (and they sought Lisa out) piqued my interest even more. This was kicking things up a notch or ten.  In Lisa’s earlier books she definitely had an embodied, kind of magical/ holistic take on things, but this is the first book where she’s properly come out of the broom closet and declared herself Witch.

“The witch represents the part of each of us that has been censored, ignored, punished and demonised. And it’s a part that wants – no, needs – to be accessed and fully expressed.”

Witch, Lisa Lister

What’s in the Book?

Witch is divided into 13 (of course) chapters.

The first seven cover history, herstory, different witchcraft practices, plus some autobiographical stuff, but the main thrust of this first part of the book is making the case for women (and I’ll get onto how woman is defined by the author later) to remember who they are and take back their power. Lisa wants to #wakethewitches.

The second half of the book goes through the five main goddess archetypes, as Lisa sees them, alongside a kind of witchy 101 of information about practices, spells and correspondences. The final chapter is a rousing call to brooms – The Witch Has Woken!

Overall this structure works, but it does feel like the chapter titles came first and then some of the content was shoe-horned in afterwards.

IMG_0921

The book has sold a LOT of copies, it’s been consistently top of the Amazon charts in pagan/ wicca/ spirituality etc since it’s release) people are buying it in numbers. But if you read the reviews it does seem to be dividing opinion, and I think that’s because it is intended for a very specific audience – and if that’s not you, then you probably won’t like it.

So, who is this book for?

The ideal reader of this book is a natal female, still in her bleeding years, who has an interest in witchcraft, but not a great deal of knowledge or experience. Even better if she’s at a place in her life where she’s had enough of patriarchal bullshit and is ready to step fully into her power and start taking steps to fully realise her life as she wants to live it. If this is you, you will likely LOVE this book.

Who is it not for?

*If you are following a specific pagan or witch path then you probably won’t jive with the pick and mix approach taken here. It’s more suited to an eclectic, and solitary, style of practice.

*If you’re easily offended by crass language and swearing (why are you reading books on witchcraft?) you’ll probably struggle to see past the language used here.

*If you are a woman who does not have usual female biology and/or monthly bleeds (or if those years are behind you now) then you may not enjoy some of the ideas and language in this book as it is very much an embodied practice Lisa describes here. This has led the book to be criticised for it’s narrow definition of woman – and I’ve seen Lisa being called a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) by some. I’m not totally sure how I feel about this. As an intersectional feminist I do feel very strongly that all marginalised groups need recognition and support to eradicate discrimination. But does that automatically mean that every writer need to address every person’s experience in their work? Some will say, yes of course, but I don’t think so (or even believe that it is possible to do this). I am aware that could lead to me also being “called-out” as a TERF, so be it. In Witch, Lisa is addressing a history and a present which keeps women in a position lesser than men, and she’s calling time’s up on that. I feel that is a positive message.

Summary

Overall the book is a quick and interesting read, which some have found to be incredibly inspiring and powerful, but is not for everyone.

If you connect with the ideal reader definition above you’ll likely get a lot out of it, and even if you’ve been a practising witch for a long time you may still connect with the message and some of the practices shared here. I enjoyed it, and I’ve been walking a witchy path for almost three decades now.

There were a few things that niggled me in the book (some of which I wonder may have been due to a little but of push/ pull between Lisa and Hay House) that I won’t go into here. But I’ve also made a video review of the book where I talk about this in more detail.

Have you read Witch? Let me know in the comments. 

 

 

A Simple but Effective Blue Moon Ritual

In January 2018 we have a blue moon in the sign of Leo AND a total lunar eclipse. Have you heard? You probably have. It’s all over the Internet. But what does this mean? Here is a practical guide for real people making real magic.

What is the significance of a blue moon?  

A blue moon is when we have two full moons in one month, which is fairly rare.  All full moons are special, it is a time when energies are heightened and our sensitivity to our surroundings is at its peak. At a full moon our bodies absorb everything we put in or on them more fully than at any other time so we need to take care that those things are good for us. On a blue moon this normal monthly heightening is magnified further. Even those who don’t usually feel anything around full moons tend to get a bit weird, perhaps headaches or bursts of energy. Those who are tuned in (you) can use their awareness by creating a simple ritual to supercharge the energy of this time and to clear out some old shadowy crap that has been hanging around for way too long. Sound good?

tyler-van-der-hoeven-357401.jpg

Photo by Tyler van der Hoeven via Unsplash

What is the significance of a lunar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse happens when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned with each other, with the Earth in the middle. So it is the shadow of the Earth (or umbra if we’re getting fancy) that is blocking the sun’s light from reaching the moon. In ancient times eclipses were seen as somewhat dangerous and scary and the general recommendation was not to start anything new, or to make plans while the moon was eclipsed (unlike at dark/ new moon time, which is excellent for dreaming up new things).

What is the significance of Moon in Leo?

Moon in Leo, the sign of the sun, calls us to shake loose a bit, have some fun. Though, with the eclipse thrown into the mix, things may feel a tad more serious. Rather than looking for a good time in the external world, it’s a time to look for what is good within. Finding what shines brightly inside us, and also what is in darkness. Confronting darkness (yes, that means shadow work, sorry, not sorry) and letting go of things that are no longer needed, and are holding us back.

What does this all mean in practical real-life terms?

So, the nuts and bolts. What to do to make use of this info.

Firstly, this is a great time for journaling of all kinds. Delve into your heart and find what is lurking in the shadows there. Now is the time to bring it to light (only for your eyes, you don’t have to tell anyone else unless you want to) and heal it.

I am planning on going through my old journals at this time and physically removing pages which hold hurts and collage them into new art. I find this recycling of my heart into art is so powerful. For some people guided visualisations are really useful, to find what we are still wounded by. If you’re into astrology look at where Chiron is in your natal chart, that will give you a clue to the wound that keeps on giving.

Whichever method works for you, find your own way to uncover what is lurking in the shadows and drag it, kicking and screaming (possibly literally), into the light.

Blue Moon Ritual

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Blue Moon Cleansing Ritual

Here is a super simple ritual, which is also amazingly powerful at all full moons, but pure magic now.

Preparation

You may want to physically cleanse yourself beforehand, however you prefer to do that. A simple bath or shower works fine. A special bath or shower makes it more special.

Gather the things you need: candle (white is best, a tea light in a jar works well, especially if you’re outside as it doesn’t blow out); paper; pen (fountain with dragon’s blood ink or biro/ pencil); black thread (regular cotton is fine); matches/ lighter, any of the optional extras you are using (see optional extras below).

Choose where you will do this, indoor or outdoor. I prefer to do this outside but it works well indoors too. Just make sure you’ve got a nearby window that you can open as it will get smoky, and perhaps put something down to catch any debris. Outside, you will need to be able to see well enough to write on some paper (without it blowing away) and without freaking out your housemates or neighbours.

Centring/ Creating your space

Once you have everything you need and you are happy in your chosen place spend a few moments tuning in to your breath. Let go of anything that may be bothering you so that you can focus on your ritual. It can be helpful to say “I am Jessica, I am present” (obviously inserting your own name instead of Jessica, or that would be weird).

Light your candle. Take a moment to look into the flame as it flickers.

If you work with spirits or deities then now would be the time to invite them in. If you don’t then don’t. Similarly with the elements/ directions.

Working Part

Take your paper and free write onto it anything that is troubling you. Pour out your heart. You don’t need to worry about spelling, grammar, legibility even. Just put it down. The paper can hold it all. If you need more sheets use more.

Roll up the paper you have written on like a very tight scroll. If you are using herbs pop them in the centre of your scroll before you roll it. Use the black thread to wind it around and keep it tight.

Get under the light of the moon (or darkness, if the eclipse is visible in your area). Easy if you’re outside, but poking a face, or arm out of your window also works.

Take three more deep breaths and consciously feel each time you are breathing out that you are letting go of these things which no longer serve you.

Set the paper alight. Watch it burn (it can sometimes take a little while to get going so take a few matches or a lighter). I like to gently blow to keep the smoke going. If you blow into the lit end the smoke pushes out through the other too which always pleases me for some odd reason. Try it.

While it burns you may like to visualise something which helps with releasing, like darkness flowing out of you and back into the earth, or millions of little insects flying away. You may like to say some words, wither pre-prepared or ad lib. Move, dance, sing, play music, drum, chant. Whatever feels good.

If your bundle stops burning just light it again. Try to burn it until it is all gone. (Any bits and pieces that are left can be put outside on bare soil, or gifted to a house plant).

Closing

If you invited any spirits/ deities/ ancestors then say goodbye to them now.

You may want to add some closing words of your own here. Or just a simple thank you to the moon, sun and Earth is perfect.

Ideally let your candle burn all the way down while you settle into what has been done. If that’s not practical snuff the candle. Clear any debris.

Optional extras

You can add an extra sensory dimension to this ritual by adding some dry herbs into the rolled paper. Bay leaves work really well. Sage or mugwort would also be good choices.

You could sing or play music

Move or dance

Say some special words, either pre-prepared or ad lib

Wear special clothes and jewellery

Journal about your experience. It can be helpful to keep this going on a daily basis until, at least, the next new moon.

Or you can just do the basics: write (to discover) and burn (to clear).

That doesn’t sound too hard does it? Reading about it won’t have the same affect though (I know, it’s a shame right?). Doing it is where the magic is. And it works, powerfully, even if you think it’s a bit silly, things start moving in new exciting ways. Try it.  Let me know how it goes.

I’ve Joined the Vlogosphere

Hi all, just a quick one to let you know I’ve started vlogging. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now (about a year!), and a couple of weeks ago I dived in and started posting videos. Just testing the water at the moment but aiming to do a video a week in 2018. Feedback greatly appreciated – but please be kind.

Here’s the link to my channel

 

 

 

My Story

A woman sits in a high-back chair carefully stitching a small patchwork quilt.  Her hands cradle the fabric. It is not a usual or easy task for her but she perserveres. Each day adding a few patches more.  As the quilt grows so does her belly.  The baby inside is nearly ready to be born.

patchworkmamaStitching the quilt helps the woman to stay calm and centred while she waits, impatiently.  A lens to focus her love.

Wednesday. Thursday. Friday.

By Friday night the quilt is finished.

“There”, says the woman, “it is done.  Now she must come”.

And sure enough that night the surges begin.

By Saturday the woman was exhausted but the baby remained inside.  Her body started to slip away into the gloved hands of those around her.  Her mind numbed.

Her labour stretched on and on under the dark Taurus moon.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon a beautiful baby girl with shining copper hair was pulled from her womb with a metal tong.  The woman was relieved it was over.

The baby girl, Sunday’s child, was bright and loud.  Her curly copper hair marked her apart – no need of a ribbon on her cot.  There was no mistaking her.

A week later the woman took her baby home.  The patchwork quilt warmed her as she slept.

******

As the girl grew her light and passion shone like her hair and she was beautiful.  The girl loved to sing, to dance, to paint and draw.  She saw colours everywhere around her.  Colours of real things and those special aura colours which they tell us not to see.

When she was older she learned to write, which she did every day.  And she always loved stories.  They were her food and she savoured them.

The girl with the copper hair wanted very much to be good.  To be loved.  She saw that many things she felt and did brought light to those around her so she did those things more.  She saw that some of what she felt and did and knew and saw was not wanted and caused pain and fear to those around her.  Those things she took and stuffed into the shadow bag which lay always at her feet.  Hiding them in the dark.

Into the bag went her power, taking part of her passion with it.  Into the bag went her ambition, her ability to set boundaries, to say no.  Into the bag went her deep connection with the other worlds, taking as well her empathy. As she grew so did the shadow bag.  It was almost as if she didn’t notice she was dragging it around with her always.  By the time she was a woman the bag was full.

******

20160526-_DSC7763The girl, now woman, knew she had gifts to share.  Gifts of healing, of intuition, of wisdom, creativity, and love.  She began her work healing, inspiring and teaching others.  And it was good.

But without her power people could take things from her.  And they did.

Without her fierceness people could hurt her.  So they did.

Without her wild romanticism she could make decisions with her head but not her heart.  She could appear rational.  But she could not feel she was loved.

The girl was happy as she knew she was blessed and cared for but always there was the shadow bag with her.  Reminding that she was only loved partly, loved for her light.  Those things were there lurking in the darkness.

******

One day the girl had a child of her own.  The birthing was unlike her own.  It was gentle.  Healing.

Through the birthing journey the girl with the copper hair travelled within to find her baby’s soul and bring it into our world.  On this journey she encountered some of those things which she had hidden in the shadow bag.  Her determination.  Her deep wellpool of love.

With the baby came these things, back out of the bag.  Into the open.  They helped her with her mother journey.  And she began to see that some of the other contents of the bag was good too.

Becoming mother was powerful.  Her energy was flung outward.  Exploding.  She reached out to the world.  Learning. Connecting.  Growing.

Her life, which before then consisted of separate unconnected parts, became sewn together.  Or at least that is how it seemed. In reality it was always connected, her patchwork life quilt, but it was by becoming mother that she saw her full self.  The girl realised that throughout her life she had been working on “patches”.  Through her work as teacher, writer, healer, doula, mentor, she was creating beautiful individual patches.  Through her connections of daughter, grand-daughter, sister, lover, wife, friend and now mother, she sewed those patches together.

The patchwork quilt of love, made by her own mother, was now resting on her own daughter’s cot, but not on the baby.  She slept on her mama’s chest.

A few years past and the girl had another baby.  This time a boy.

Again an explosion.  But this time, like a star collapsing, the energy rushed inwards. It was time to look within.  To reassess the family rhythm.  To find consistency in her writing and creativity.  To create peace and deep connection. To make real, practical magic

The girl knew it was time to start rummaging again in the shadow bag.  It was time to bring those hidden parts to light.  All of them.

Is Zootropolis (or Zootopia if you’re in the US) a feminist movie?

So, last week I took my two year-old and six year-old to see Zootropolis – or Zootopia if you’re in the US.

flex_tablet_zootopia_selfie_c781d089

We had watched the movie trailer and the film looked good. (Ok, so if you’re on the ball you’ll have spotted that the film is no longer in cinemas so I’m a little behind the times – I started this post in April and then didn’t finish it, because, you know, I write books and, as I already mentioned I have two kids, I’m busy, hope you’ll stick with me, better late than never).

 

ODEON says…
In the city of ‘Zootropolis’, all animals live together peacefully – predator and prey. In this world where humans never existed, the first rabbit police officer must prove her worth.

New to the city and to the job, Judy Hopps is as bouncy and enthusiastic as you’d expect. But her colleagues don’t take her seriously, and she’s assigned to parking duty. When Nick, a fast-talking fox, is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, he and Judy go on the run to uncover a conspiracy.

The film has grossed $697 million as of March 27, 2015, placing it as the third highest-grossing film by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Wow! And I’d read a lot of articles cheering it on for its portrayal of diversity and the issues with modern western society in a format which makes it accessible to talk about with young children. Made by the same people who did Big Hero 6 and Wreck it Ralph. I’ll be honest, I was expecting great things.

SPOILER ALERT: In order to discuss whether, or not, Zootropolis is a feminist movie I have had to give away certain aspects of the plot. Please only read on unless you don’t mind knowing in advance about what happens. Cheers.

At first it seems straightforward. The main character, rabbit Judy Hopps, wants to be a police officer. Various other characters, including her mum and dad (also rabbits, is that stating the obvious? Perhaps not, in the context of this weird anthropomorphic mash-up) try to dissuade her but she’s determined, so she beats the odds, graduates from the rigorous training academy and gets her post in the Zootropolis Police Department (ZPD). So far so cliché.

But when you delve into why Judy can’t be a police officer things get complicated.

imagesThe only answer given explicitly is because she’s a rabbit (or dumb bunny, a phrase which appears throughout the film) and they have never been police officers before. Apparently it is her species, her size and strength, which is the issue. Her gender is not mentioned. And yet, she’s a female rabbit, surely that’s no accident?

Apparently Judy wasn’t the original star of the show.

The initial pitch revolved around Nick Wilde, the fox character, but the writers needed someone who wasn’t disillusioned with “Zootopia” so they could show up the problems with the system, so Judy’s character was born and people loved her. BuzzFeed bill her as “the hero your daughter has been waiting for“. And this happy addition was welcomed as a way to break old tropes:

“Audience expectations point towards female characters needing a love interest, and that is not the case,” the movie’s co-writer Phil Johnston told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. “The more sophisticated we get as storytellers and stray from that old formula that is so tired, the more exciting films are going to get and the more interesting female characters we’ll see in movies.”

Except that, by the end Judy fully admits to being just a “dumb bunny” who needs male help, and finds her love interest in the original lead, Nick Wilde the fox. Hmmm.

Judy’s story is one we know well. The way to “make it” if you’re female (and it suggests inevitably prey) is to be better – much better – than your male counterparts and then pay your dues to the system until you finally get some reward and recognition. It’s exhausting and only the outliers will make it. Judy Hopps is an outlier. A female prey in a system which favour males. She makes it but the system remains unchanged.

Contrast this with Assistant Mayor Bellwether’s story arc.

The mayor, a lion, is obviously condescending to Bellwether. She’s there to make the stats look good (they want to encourage more prey animals into positions of power, sound familiar?) and he treats her “like a glorified secretary”. She has no power, no agency. It’s a sham. Yet, seemingly mild and timid, Bellwether is revealed in the climax of the film to be the villain. You almost don’t see it coming. Who would suspect, a female, a prey animal – a freaking sheep! In the fashion of best endings it’s both surprising and inevitable that she is the villain behind it all. Here is someone so disillusioned by the system that she is prepared to risk people’s lives to bring it down. Ok, this is not good human (or anthropomorphized sheep) behaviour and yet this is the only action in the film which actually challenges the broken system.

images-2By the end of the film Bellwether is incarcerated and, flanked by male guards, forced to watch Gazelle singing the film’s theme song “Try Everything”. Obviously try everything only refers to accepted actions within the patriarchal set-up, not actually anything which might question the system itself. (Contrast this with the male Lion Mayor who was discredited at first when it turned out he had done some dodgy stuff but is reinstated by the end as he did “the wrong things for the right reasons”. Can’t get much more conclusive and damning than that.)

The saddest thing of all is I think the writers may well have thought they were writing a truly empowering story here. There are many references to prejudice and it does open the door to having conversations about how “the system” operates. This seems to have been the conscious aim of the movie:

‘Zootropolis’ imagines a world where animals took over in our absence. Turns out it’s not so different after all!

And this is exactly the problem. It’s not different.

The female chapters are still treated as less than, than males. The waters are muddied with the whole predator/ prey binary that is set up, but when we dig a bit deeper it’s clear that this film might well be about reflecting the problems apparent in our western society but it certainly isn’t challenging these issues, rather it reinforces the status quo. Judy and Nick are great characters, and there are many clever and thought-provoking ideas about how we make judgements based on preconceptions. But the resolution of the film shows that real change, whether from a gender or racial equality perspective, is still considered impossible. And underlying it all is the uncomfortable theme that in order for society to function our true natures must be in some respect dampened and hidden.

This article makes a good point, that the folks at Disney have bitten off way too much metaphor than they can chew here. But whatever you think is being challenged here (and lots of critics and bloggers alike have praised this movie for challenging prejudices) the fact remains that by the end there is no change. Status quo is preserved. Whether you’re female, or black, you’re still in the same position of non power with no hope of movement. In that way it is one of the most frightening of the Disney movies I’ve watched. At least with the others the sexism, racism and prejudice are right out there for everyone to see. This movie is all undercover. Terrifying.

And I’m sure some people will say it’s “just” a kids movie, don’t get your knickers in a twist, why does it matter anyway?

It matters because the stories we share are important. It’s the way we understand ourselves and the world.

Stories like this one which reinforce the stars quo while seemingly challenging it are the most dangerous in my opinion. They both offer hope and snuff out possibility in an hour or so of very well done animation.

images-1

What do you think?

Still not sure and want more? Here’s a round-up of some of the blogs I found on Zooptopia and feminism…

This blog sees it as a critique on white feminists not being intersectional enough “So, yes. This is a movie about white feminism and the need for intersectionality. I mean, yes, it’s also a movie about racism, but it’s a movie about how even the most well-intentioned people who believe they’re overcoming the greatest obstacles of discrimination in their world can completely miss how their privilege gives them a leg up.”

This is what Mode came up with for a Zootropolis feminist search http://www.mode.com/stories/is-zootopia-the-best-feminist-animated-film-ever/12455932

Or if you want the mens rights perspective (you might enjoy this if you didn’t like mine, though essentially we agree that the film isn’t feminist – the MRA like it) https://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/49ghdg/why_zootopia_might_just_be_the_opposite_of_sjw/

And last, and probably least, a weird MRM (mens rights movement) fan fiction story on Judy forgiving Bellwether when she visits her in prison (warning, this contains a dodgy furry sex scene, I only found out furries was a thing today, sheltered life I know) https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11864721/1/Zootopia-Breaking-Bellwether 

SaveSave

What can a live rock concert teach us about storytelling? Pearl Jam Let’s Play Two: Live at Wrigley Field

Last night I went to the cinema to see Pearl Jam “Let’s Play Two: Live at Wrigley Field“. I went in expecting to see a live Pearl Jam concert. I came out with so much more.

The film weaves together the stories of the baseball team Chicago Cubs, Pearl Jam as a band, the personal story of lead singer Eddie Vedder’s relationship with the Cubs, and individual stories of both Cubs fans and Pearl Jam fans. The way it is knitted together is intricate, using old and new footage of Cubs games, plus Eddie Vedder and the band in the 90s, juxtaposed with the live concerts that took place in 2016. The director, Danny Clinch, and the team who worked on this totally nailed the story arc.

Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series

Photo via Time.com

I did not know (or care) anything about the Chicago Cubs before I saw this film, but, as with all great storytelling, it makes you care. It shows the Cubs progress from a club that has not won anything for over a century, through the qualifying stages (not sure what they call it) and into the world series. And, despite the apparent complexity, it follows a classic five act structure:

  • The opening sets us up with the history of the club and Eddie’s personal relationship with it. He used to go to the games as a child. (Act 1)
  • The club make some bold changes and start winning games more than they have for a (very) long time in its history. (Act 2)
  • The stakes are high and things get tough but the Cubs manage to get into the World Series. (It made me laugh that it’s called the World Series, there are no non US teams). (Act 3)
  • The first games of the Word Series go badly and the Cubs find themselves 3:1 down (I’m not sure what this means in baseball terms but it’s bad, and pretty much no teams come back from it). Things look bleak. All is resting on the next game. They need to win or go home. (Act 4)
  • They win (of course) and go on to win the next games and the World Series for the first time in over a hundred years. (Act 5)

Each act is enhanced by the skilful additions of the history of the band, showing some of their early gigs in Chicago, and adding in personal and moving stories of their fans relationship with the band. And of course, the soundtrack is killer.

The theme of this movie is very much about what it means to be, and have, fans; to belong to something bigger than ourselves. It explores what it means to be devoted.

The Cubs fans are not denigrated in the way sports fans very often are, but explained and uplifted. Clinch is also careful to point out that the people in the band are also very much fans themselves. It shows this most explicitly through Eddie Vedder’s obvious devotion to his home town team, but also through Jeff Ament’s more private honouring of those bass players who came before and inspired him. He has their names inscribed along the neck of his guitar.

The connection between fans and spiritual devotion is obvious in the movie, and must be deliberate. The band’s relationship with their fans is depicted as that of priest with congregation (repeated imagery of Eddie Vedder, arms outstretched, is intense and powerful). My husband (who doesn’t always notice these things) commented as we left, that Vedder is a very spiritual man.

image via The San Diego Union Tribune

Throughout, the music is emotional and spiritual. The band are clearly performing a service. Guitarist Mike McCready is moved to tears on stage, and the ground, Wrigley Field, is referred to as “sacred”. A space where people come together, week after week, their hearts full of hope even though they know the odds are not in their favour. And honestly, it really did feel that powerfully spiritual, both during the footage of the shows and of the baseball games. It made me want to go there. To pilgrimage myself. It made me want to act – in the way that all good storytelling does. It changes you. It changes how you see the world, it changes your relationship with the world.

If you haven’t seen it yet I’d totally recommend it. Even if you aren’t fan of the band or of baseball (and there are those who argue that the Cubs victory was not as against the odds and well-deserved as it seemed here) but that does not detract from this lesson in bringing together characters, setting and plot. If you’re a fan of great storytelling you will love it.

Choosing a word for the year – and what to do with it once you have it

Since 2012 I have preferred to choose a word for the year rather than making resolutions. 

It is a powerful practice that is becoming more and more widespread, as people try it and experience how wonderful and effective it is for focused intention, attention, and growth. 

How to Choose/ Find Your Word of the Year

There is no one right way to do this. You can find your word through meditation, visualisation or journeying (you can specifically ask for your word to be given to you during meditation, perhaps written on a piece of paper that is passed to you, or in the sky with the stars spelling out your word). You can free-write in your journal and see which words come – this can be surprisingly effective. When I was new to it I used tarot cards plus Amy Palko‘s Word of the Year Goddess Reading to guide my choice of word. In recent years I use my own Wheel of the Year Reading to inform and inspire my word choice.  I have also used Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool in the past, and that was interesting (and a little less woo) too.

However you do it, ideally you will end up with a small pool of words that resonate for you. It can be useful at this stage to mind-map each of the words, noting any correspondences, associations, memories, or thoughts they bring up for you. Then look up the dictionary definitions for each word. This often generates more meanings (and additional possible words) in a really interesting and useful way. Some people like to add pictures and colour references at this stage too.

And then, and I find this the most important part, try and put them away from your conscious mind for a while. Eventually one of the words – or perhaps a completely different word (but the right word) – will bubble up and make itself known to you. You will recognise it as your Word of the Year. Sometimes this happens spontaneously, without doing all those previous steps. Either way. You will know it is your Word.

What makes a good Word of the Year?

A good word of the year is a focus for your attention and enables you to grow and blossom as you move through the year. That is to say that a good word of the year is one that works for the person who matches that word. It will stretch you, challenge you, nourish you, enchant you.

Personally, I am drawn to words that can have multiple layers of meaning – ideally both a verb and a noun. For example, my word for 2017 was PRESENT. That can mean many things e.g. a gift (given or received); this moment; standing up and sharing wisdom – and that’s just for openers. It has been a wonderful and powerful word to work with for me.

 

Sometimes your word will not resonate immediately, but, given a bit of time to settle in, these words can be (extremely!) powerful. For example, a few years ago my word was HUNT.  It scared me a bit at first as it sounds so aggressive but looking back on the events of the year it was spot on!  It was a year when I uncovered more about myself and what I am here to do in this world than any other before and it wasn’t discovery in a passive, relaxed way.  No!  I was actively uncovering, searching everywhere, particularly my shadows, for the answers. (And it also fitted very well with my Goddess guide for that year, Artemis).

Another word that did not immediately jump out at me, but was so, so, good was my word for 2016: BUILD.  Build?! How boring I thought.  And initially when it popped into my journal I resisted it.  Build?  Yes, it’s practical but it didn’t sound very creative, or fun. But then I started thinking about things which are built: homes which protect and nourish us – our sanctuaries; meeting places where we come and share and trade ideas with others; temples where we worship our deities (or the divine in ourselves, like in gyms); libraries and universities – see where I’m going with this? And somehow build was less boring and more inspiring. And my build year was, fittingly, a year of slow work. One brick on top of the other. But my word kept me nourished and trusting. After all, that is how even the most innovative buildings are made. You can’t raise a roof without some kind of supports.

What Do You Do with Your Word of The Year?

This is where the magic lies.

You do all the same things as you did with your shortlist of words: Mind Map (mood board if you are so called); journal it; meditate on it; look up all available definitions of it. See where the spirals lead off. Continue to do this as the year progresses and see how your connection with and understanding of the word ebbs and flows.

Take it deeper by thinking about how this word is reflected in your life at the moment. How would you want it to be reflected? How do you feel about the word? What associations does it have for you? Which people, living or dead, embody this word for you? What does it mean for you to be/ have this Word in your life? What does your life look like though the lens of this Word?

Some people like to have their word in a prominent place, like on a piece of jewellery or art work. Molly Remer and Sherry from Dragonfly Inspirations have worked together to create beautiful custom Word of the Year Goddesses, who wear your/her Word hand-stamped on her belt. (I am definitely getting one of these this year!)

Custom Story Word of the Year Goddess

It is your word. Use it, and it will be a great source of power and wisdom.

A Goddess for the Year

A lovely companion practice to Choosing a Word for the Year, is discovering your Goddess connection for the year. Indeed, for some people, identifying their goddess companion comes first and inspires their choice of words.

This is not a practice which speaks to everyone but for those who it does resonate with it can be extremely powerful and healing.

You can find your goddess connection in exactly the same way as you found your word. Or you can use a specific Goddess Oracle deck.

Do let me know your words and your experiences with them. I love this practice so much, and find new layers are uncovered with every new word. 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Waking Mama Luna Launch Party

So, with no small amount of trepidation, I have decided to have a Waking Mama Luna Launch Party. Eek!

Waking Mama Luna Book Launch Poster

It’s going to be at the Old Library, Nantgarw Road, Caerphilly on Sunday 29th May at 7pm and will have…

* SIGNING AND READINGS BY ME

I’m going to be reading one or two stories from the book and signing copies (and trying not to get too overwhelmed by the whole thing).

* ART BY ANGELA FERREIRA

The fantastic Angela Ferreira, who did the beautiful illustrations for the book, is going to be displaying some of her fabulous art work. Some pieces will be available to buy on the night. You can find out more about Angela here.

* GUEST UKULELE PERFORMANCE FROM NEIL STARR

My wonderful musician husband has agreed (read arm-twisted) to perform some songs from his upcoming ukulele album. I’m sure most of you know Neil’s music already but if you don’t you can check out his YouTube Channel here.

* LIGHT REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED AND BAR WILL BE OPEN (YAY!)

I really hope you can join us. I’m excited (and terrified). There are 50 tickets available so it’s going to be a relatively small event. You can get tickets here or via Facebook.

PS. If you can’t make it but are interested in the book you can find out more here. Only the kindle version is available on Amazon at the moment but I’ve been told that the printed version should be there by the end of this week.

 

Waking Mama Luna Preorder is LIVE

It feels like it’s taken a long time to get here (well I guess it’s taken nearly 38 years if you count all my life from babyhood leading up to this moment, which, to be truthful, I do) but I can finally say…

Waking Mama Luna Preorder is live on Amazon Now!!!

Whoop!!

Waking Mama Luna by Jessica M Starr CoverBefore you rush over to buy a copy, I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you who have supported me in getting to this stage (you know who you are).

And if this is the first you’ve heard about it all, here’s a bit about the book…

Waking Mama Luna is a collection of five short stories, all linked by their connection to the motherline: daughter; mother; grandmother. All written between 2010 (when my daughter was born) and 2016.

I’ve been so happy to get some awesome feedback on the advance copies I sent out and was blessed to receive these endorsements from three women whose work I admire…

 

A collection of short stories – each a treasure in its own right – packed with wisdom and a haunting otherworldly sense. Deceptively simply written these tales and their truths will lodge in your memory and tug at your heart.

Lucy Pearce, author, Reaching for the Moon and Moon Time

Lyrical and enchanting, the stories in this collection will linger with you, asking to be turned over and explored and whispering to you of the stories of your own womanhood.

The five short tales in Waking Mama Luna could be used in many ways in the Red Tent or a women’s circle—as guided journeys, for journaling work, or for deep, heart-based story-sharing of our own.

Molly Remer, author and priestess, brigidsgrove

These short stories are steeped in an ancient wisdom, that will resonate and stir a remembering deep within. They’re so beautifully written that I read all of them in one sitting!

Rebecca Kane, Travel Guide at Your SHEro’s Journey

This is actually happening. It feels exhilarating and terrifying. What if people don’t like it? What if they do and then I can never write as well again (I’ve already started a novel and it’s tough sustaining the magic over longer narratives)? And, of course, what if nobody reads or buys it? (You can help with this last one by getting a copy here).

If you do read it I’d love to know what you think. I don’t have comments here on the blog but you can message me on Facebook or Twitter. Put me out of my misery. Please?

Waking Mama Luna Illustrations

I love the stories in Waking Mama Luna (of course, I wrote them) but I also love the illustrations. In this post I wanted to share a little about the process of working with the illustrator, Angela Ferreira, and why I’m really glad Waking Mama Luna features Angela’s work.

[quote author=”Pablo Picasso” source=””]Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things. 
[/quote]

I hadn’t really thought about Waking Mama Luna having illustrations until my editor suggested that it would be a nice addition. I am so glad that I listened. I feel the illustrations go far beyond being a nice addition. Angela’s drawings somehow deepen and broaden the meaning of the stories.

illustration1

I have known Angela for a couple of years now and love her work, her fairy exhibition in Cardiff was brilliant! So, when I was thinking of commissioning drawings for the stories, she popped into my head immediately. She was in Snowdonia with rubbish phone signal when I messaged her but she managed to reply “I am the right person for you, speak soon”. Yes!

I sent her the manuscript and she read the stories. I didn’t give her any input into what I wanted the pictures to look like so it was a wonderful surprise each time she sent me one to look at.

Over the course of a fortnight all five were done. I didn’t request any revisions. I loved them exactly as they were.

The only one she didn’t draw specially for Waking Mama Luna was the drawing for Call of the Sea, which seemed unbelievable for me given how perfectly it fits with the story. I loved it so much, and the synchronicity that we also used it as part of the cover artwork.

The Call of the Sea