Category Archives: Magic

Walking with intent

One of the things I love about labyrinths is that you can do whatever you want with them. If I lay one out in the grass at my local park, anyone who wants to come and walk it can. They can do so in whatever way they like and for whatever reasons, with no reference to what anyone else is doing. It’s a nice way to hold magical space for people. At the moment it’s also really good as as an answer to socially distanced celebration and ritual.

Labyrinths transcend any specific tradition. They are a form that allows us to bring our bodies into the same space without having to agree about meaning or approach. They’re also a very peaceful, powerful thing to do and require no previous experience.

Usually I walk the labyrinth as a meditative process. I like to be the first one in – to test that I’ve put it together properly, clear twigs from the path and make sure the space works. My process with the space begins far earlier, when I ask permission, talk to the land and put down the first curve of fabric to mark the centre. I will later do a second walk in and will be the last person to walk the labyrinth before we take it down.

For my midsummer labyrinth this week I did some things I have never done before. I walked with intent. I walked to make deliberate magical transformation and I walked in no small part to do that for someone else.  In doing so I learned that walking a labyrinth is a good focus for prayers and incantations. If your intention is clear, you can use the slow rhythm of the walking to set the pace for your words. The labyrinth I use takes a person into the middle and then you have to wind your way back out again. It makes sense to work your way into the heart of the issue on the way in, and use the return journey to work out how you want to emerge from the situation.

My first walk into the labyrinth was about things I wanted to change for the next day. It worked, simply. Or things came out right anyway – who can say? But I was pushing for a transformation and a radical change of energy, and that came, one way or another.

For my second journey, I was more focused on the slightly longer term, and I set intentions about the next labyrinth I will make. If that comes to pass I will probably write about it.

An unexpected third intention arose from this process. I want the space to make a permanent labyrinth. This goes with a number of other thoughts I’ve been having and is a good additional focus for the future I am trying to imagine and make real.


Going to Granny’s House

It’s a theme that crops up in my writing, in poetry and fiction and here on the blog. Granny’s house in the woods, place of magic and transformation. It is both the house of Red Riding Hood’s grandmother and also Baba Yaga’s house, because I’ve seen them as the same for many years now.

I also go to my grandmother’s house when I dream. My maternal grandmother died more than a decade ago, and I haven’t been into that house since then. Five generations of my family have slept under that roof, so it feels a bit odd that now the house is home to people I don’t know.  As a teenager, I slept there. It was complicated for me – there was a lot I loved about both the house and my grandmother. But I was mostly considered a nuisance and living between two houses where I wasn’t much wanted.

When I dream about the house I lived in as a child, I only ever dream about trying to leave. For many years, this was one of a handful of anxiety dreams I had, and I dreamed of little outside those few recurring nightmares.

Dreams of my grandmother’s house are a bit more complicated. Often she is there, and I think this is part of my still working through the grief of not being wanted. We had quite a few rows in my last year or so there, because she didn’t really want me there – or at least gave that impression. With hindsight, I was an easy person to vent pain and frustration on, and maybe she didn’t believe I was serious about going. I don’t know. There are questions I never asked, and I remain a bit haunted by not knowing if she maybe cared for me more than I thought at the time. In recent years, a number of her friends have made a point of telling me how well my grandmother thought of me and how pleased she’d be with what I’m doing. I hope so.

I note that I only take the people I am closest to into dreams of my grandmother’s house. Without exception, these are people who have no knowledge of or, in my son’s case no real memory of the place. These are people I can only ever tell about that part of my life. I think there’s something in me that would dearly like to take them back and show them. I don’t know what any of that would look like to someone else.

Last night I took someone I love to my grandmother’s house, and I kissed them. In the dream, my grandmother was not there, and I knew she wasn’t there in a way that is different from other dreams. I don’t know if that means she won’t be coming back, or that I won’t be going back to the house. Something has changed. Perhaps it is simply that at this point in my life, the people who love me are larger and more significant presences than the people who did not love me in the way I needed when I was growing up.


Things I am visualising

I recently blogged about tips for visualising – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/tips-for-visualising/

When building a thought form, it can be important not to undermine it by making it vulnerable to other people’s opinions. This means not getting anyone else’s input, but I think holding boundaries to protect a dream can be necessary and important. There’s a key piece of witchcraft advice around the importance of keeping things secret to keep them powerful. At the same time, putting something into the world can be a way of working towards manifesting it, and writing is part of how I now do this sort of thing.

I am visualising…

Standing at the train station, waiting.

A shed, with a comfortable chair in it, a rug on the floor, and decent lighting.

The sea wind in my face.

Long, luscious damp grass full of wildflowers.

The space that is deliberately empty becoming full in the way I intend.

An advert on the side of a bus.

A really big table.


Bardic Magic

In my current re-exploration of magic I’ve also been thinking about what the bard path means to me, and how I relate to it. Bardic work is a big part of what I do – more and less subtly. I use creativity to achieve transformation and I depend on the flow of inspiration, but I’ve not let myself think of this as a magical practice.

Sometimes I write in order to know. With a pen in my hand, I can open doors to insight, intuition and become aware of things that I didn’t previous see or understand. This is something to do quietly, curled up on the sofa. There’s no ritual, no drama, and so I tend to persuade myself there’s also no magic. Those insights come most readily when I’m writing silly things, and the mirth means I have been in the habit of not taking myself seriously. I have no intention of taking myself seriously, but I need to stop seeing mirth as at odds with reverence.

Sometimes I write in order to change things, for myself and other people. Most of my poems are arguably also spells. I write them to explore the changes I want to make, to re-imagine, to commit to things. I write this blog to help other people change as well. I’ve started doing this a bit more deliberately of late.

I also sing as a way of getting things done – to change the atmosphere in places, to comfort and to uplift.

I’m writing this blog post partly to figure out what I do.

One of the things I’m very good at doing is finding reasons why what I do isn’t as valid, shiny, important as what anyone else does. I don’t have visions, I have ideas while writing stuff. The Gods do not talk to me, unless I am making up a story that pertains to them, but that’s me making up a story. I don’t do magic, except with a pen, which I have decided doesn’t count. But if I don’t claim too much for what I do, there’s nothing to take from me.  There’s no inherent invitation to knock me down.

I can’t imagine claiming any great spiritual significance for my own creative work. I’ve seen other people do it and marvelled at their confidence, and at a relationship with the world that is so very different from my own. Obviously what I do isn’t sacredly inspired, isn’t held by a relationship with a divinity… and it comes down to a sense that what I do isn’t good enough. Of course this is just the story I choose to tell. People who choose to tell stories in which they are magical and doing important work get to put that into the world. But, I have no idea what it would take to feel entitled to tell a story in which my work has weight and significance.

This all raises more questions than it answers. I suspect I’m waiting for permission, but I have no idea whose. I guess whatever the answers are, I will discover them by writing about them.


The Way of Wyrd

This is not a book review. Having found my magical map recently, I’m on a deliberate quest to seek re-enchantment. I decided to start by revisiting books that opened doors for me when I was young. I think I was under ten when The Way of Wyrd was read to me. I read it to my own son at about the same age, it’s a wonderful book to share with a Pagan child.

Re-reading I realised that this book was a formative experience for me because of the underlying reality it describes. The web of wyrd, the interconnectedness of all things, became a key part of both my sense of reality and my notions of how magic might work for me. I think, on re-reading this, that author Brian Bates was also drawing on Taoist thinking. When I got to concepts of the Tao, it all felt familiar and a very natural match for my sense of how things work. At the time I didn’t consciously make that connection, but I was a curious teen and I wasn’t tracking my own processes. I didn’t need to.

Reading The Way of Wyrd opens up two further texts that I now know I need to revisit. Clive Barker’s Weaveworld may not seem like an obvious candidate for a formative spiritual experience, but I have a feeling it was and I want to go back and see.  I also need to re-read the Tao Te Ching with all this in mind. That’s a book I habitually re-read in various different translations.

The books that shaped me as a young explorer contemplating magic and spirituality, were fiction. I know it’s not an unusual experience. It’s something I need to think about more in terms of my own writing – fiction and non-fiction alike. It may not be an accident that my current fiction project – Wherefore over on https://www.youtube.com/NimueBrown has a lot in it about weaving magic. I started that theme weeks ago, long before I considered a deliberate quest for re-enchantment. It could of course just be coincidence, but it doesn’t feel that way, and the significance of creating a character who is a weaver and works with the fabric of reality, is something I need to spend some time with.

Wherefore is an unashamedly silly project, most meant to charm, distract and amuse. But at the same time, it keeps resulting in some of my most important (to me) spiritual work in a great many years. Being too serious doesn’t work for me. One thing is for certain – that laugher and merriment and the desire to cause happiness in others is part of my spiritual path and if I can do the things while giggling like the mad pixie I am, I will do a better job of it all.


Art and intention

The images in this blog post are inspired by pre-historic art. The hands come from cave pictures where pigment has been blown around hands to leave the shape of them. The surrounds are taken from rock art styles. In the normal scheme of things these two arts would never meet, but I’m not doing this for reconstruction.

I started this quartet because Dr Abbey Masahiro asked me to draw the four of us. I’m not good at literal representation, so the idea of drawing around household hands appealed to me and let me play with the pre-historic imagery as well. Tom had to draw Dr Abbey’s hand from photos so that one came out differently, it doesn’t have quite the same shape as a hand pressed down onto paper and drawn around.

Dr Abbey has been bringing magic into my life for some months now. I’ve been cautious about what to say online. But, he’s very much co-dreaming the future with myself, Tom and James at the moment and it felt like the right time to move from alluding to him, to naming him outright and claiming him.

Also, I did these pieces with my grandmother’s paper and oil pastels. Today is the 100th anniversary of her birth. It seemed like a good day to post this.

This is my hand – the left as I mostly draw right handed. The background is inspired by Irish rock art that I saw referred to online as being flying saucers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tom’s hand came out a little chunkier than it is in real life. The background for his was inspired by Newgrange rock art and is my favourite of the backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James’s hand. My very large Tigerboy, often alluded to here over the years, now all grown up. He has the same thumb shape as me. I gave him geometric rock art because he’s the one with the maths and science skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbey’s hand with a background taken from cup and bowl rock art. We had to guess relative hand sizes – his hand is about the same size as mine here. There’s none of the shape distortion that comes from pressing down. It was a strange and emotional process for me, working with the shape of a hand I have not touched, but will.


Finding the magic map

A few days ago I blogged about the unexpected way in which my disenchantment had been replaced by a sense of magical possibility. Since then, I’ve found a magical map. One of the things that has made it impossible for me to rebuild is that I’ve been unable to see how to do it. How can I go from this demoralised, disenchanted state to some other way of being? Without some capacity so feel enchantment, there was no way forward.

The magical map occurred to me over the weekend. A territory with doors that might take me somewhere. I became able to see it because I’d been prompted to read a book that had a lot of content about ancient Egypt in it. I grew up heavily exposed to folklore, fairytales and myths, but Egyptian magic was the first kind of magic that child-me wanted to learn about and sought information on. I had forgotten just how much I knew, and having those memories rekindled was powerful all by itself.

It also reminded me of all the many things that functioned as portals in my young life. All the things I read and did, and that were important to me. These are the things that inspired me and shaped me. I can’t go back. I can’t be the person I was at fourteen or at twenty before I lost so much of myself. But those doors all still exist, and I can revisit them. I don’t know what will happen for doing that, but it strikes me as good territory to explore.

If I’ve learned anything in the last few weeks it is the power of letting go and trusting to the process I’m in, so I’ll do that. I have a map made of the memories of all the things that have been important to me along the way, and I will re-walk those paths, and remember, and rethink and see what of my magical self I can put back together.

I’m not good at trust, so the trust part of this process is really important. I’m not good at belief, but I’m not being called upon to do much of that, only recognise what is happening to me in this process, and to build on it. I am repeatedly startled and mystified by the way in which pieces of myself are being given back to me, and opportunities to heal wounds I’d long assumed I would just have to live with are occurring. Some of this is because I’ve done the groundwork to get to the point where this is possible. Some of it, without any shadow of a doubt, is simply happening by magic. A gift, a blessing, a spell, an enchantment, a wonder that is happening to me, conditional only on my willingness to accept it and let it change me.


Magical Thinking

Rather a long time ago now, I went through some experiences that left me not only disenchanted, but feeling unsafe about allowing myself to think magically in any way at all. My universe was a cold, hostile place and I could not expect it to treat me kindly. Before that, I’d been a person who was not just into but really good at divination. I’d lived with intuition and awareness and felt open and alive. I lost it all. Those of you who have read my books will know that I’ve mostly been doing my Paganism from a maybeist/atheist kind of position.

For some years now, Tom and I have known that we could see no way to level up from our current arrangement. There are things we want to change in our lives – where we live, what we do creatively – but we’ve been unable to get there from here. We’re not affluent or prominent enough and we’ve not got the right connections. We’ve been in a processes of resigning ourselves to this being our lives, while habitually saying ‘and then the magic thing happens’ if we want to imagine something ambitious we can’t see how to achieve.

It was, with hindsight, something a lot like a prayer or a spell.

In the last few weeks, we have instead ended up looking at each other and saying ‘and then the magic thing happens’. Because it turns out that we have invited magic into our lives in a very real sort of way.

It’s been a strange few months, where I’ve had to depend on the intuition I’d stopped using and didn’t trust. With important stuff to do and nothing like enough information, it’s the only tool I’ve had. But every prompting from that has been right. Verifiable stuff with significant implications. I’ve started doing divination again and started paying attention to the world in very different ways – I have been re-enchanted, no two ways about that. Something I had not been able to see how to do for myself, but… the magic thing happens.

What I know right now is that there is magic coming into my life, and that what I need to do with that is trust the process. Let go, and be swept away by it all. So I’m going to trust that intuition, trust what’s happening, trust what will happen and be open to anything and everything changing.


Setting Intentions

Very early on in lockdown I was struck by an intuition. This is unusual for me – or at least has been for a good 15 years. There were a powerful set of things that all turned up together and were very clear. That the most important thing to do would be to figure out my priorities, and that there were some serious curve balls coming. At first, it looked like the curve balls would be the virus impact – and we’ve certainly had our share of those. But no, there was far more to it.

I started setting intentions. I’ve talked a little bit already here about an enormous personal project to change my relationship with my face and body – that’s going well for me, although I have a way to go.

As a household, we were already planning for disruption – the lad should have been doing A Levels this summer and should be off to university in the autumn. For now we can only wait to see what happens, and roll with whatever we get. Alongside this, Tom and I were planning a move to Wales where we could afford a larger property and a garden. Lockdown has left us in no doubt that we need a garden. Having no outside space of our own has been really hard. Wales is clearly on hold for now as an idea. And then the curve ball arced across our lives and Wales is on hold as an idea for the longer term as well.

One of the intentions we’ve collectively set is that we want to create a small film studio, doing silent, black and white movies with soundtracks and practical effects. That intention holds up. The camera that is the heart of the project has been sourced. People who want to be part of it for the longer term are making themselves known. Progress is being made on the Hopeless Maine film despite everything else going on – more information on that over here if you’re curious – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/category/hopeless-film/

It’s difficult to plan anything at the moment, life is so uncertain. But it is, I am finding, a really good time for asking big questions and setting intentions. Who am I and what do I want? How do I want to live? What do I want to do in the future, who do I want to do that with and who is willing to commit to me? Who do I really need? What do I really need? Which dreams should I nurture? What wild and unlikely things should I throw myself at, wholeheartedly?

One of the gifts of this strange time, is that it does not suggest doing sensible things. There’s little point planning the ordinary, and no reason to think things will ever go back to being quite how they were. It creates a space for thinking the unthinkable, for the wildest ideas and the most inspired dreams, the craziest desire and the biggest ambitions.

By the looks of it, I was right with that feeling that I really needed to figure out my priorities. I’m going to stay vague for now, but there have been reasons to rethink everything, and those reasons are inherently good and exciting. What can be imagined from here is not what I might have imagined a couple of months ago. And if my gut feeling is to be believed, that’s all the curve balls I need to field, and from here it’s a case of working out how to turn dreams into reality.


Magic in the creative process

As a Druid, I hold inspiration sacred and I see creativity as an inherently magical process. However, there’s one aspect of this that is stand-out magical for me, and it has to do with how I work with other people.

Without a doubt, I do my best work either when I’m collaborating with others, or writing for someone very specifically. It gives me focus. Ideas are easy to find, for me the key moment of inspiration is when I see how to pull a selection of ideas together to make it into something for someone.

What I write depends a lot on who I’m writing for. When I’m writing for someone specific, my relationship with them colours what I create. There will be a moment, or moments when I’m thinking about them and drawing on all the emotions that go with that. What happens next is like opening a door. Until I open that door, I don’t know where it goes. I don’t know what will happen to me or what I’ll be able to do.

I feel this in a tangible way. I feel it in my body, in my thoughts. The door has a reality. Opening it changes things. Stepping through is a shift. I have no idea what I’m stepping into, what this space is or how it works, but it changes things for me. It lifts my creativity out of the stuff I can do from practice and experience, and elevates it into something with more inherent enchantment in it.

The door opens, and I pass through it. I write whatever it is that I could only have written by taking that step. Some people I will only ever write one or two things for because there turns out not to be much magic on the other side of the door. Some people I will keep coming back to because writing for them brings out the best in me. I’ve been writing for Tom for more than a decade now, and that door always leads me to good places.

Inevitably, this process impacts on my relationships with people. I’m drawn to the people I can create for in this way. I’m even more excited about people who are prepared to be a bit more active, engaging with me around whatever I’ve written for them, and deliberately opening doors for me by asking me to write specific things.

It’s a giddy feeling, when it works. Wild and wonderful, unpredictable. When I open those doors to write for someone else, I go places I would never have gone on my own. I’m able to think differently. Possibilities open up before me. I am at my happiest and my best when I can do that.