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Speaking of Witch Wands & Magickal Things

Three English witches bound to traditional practise

Pet Health and Paws-itvity

Pet Health and Paws-itvity

By Isabella

 

Thinking back on this last year and my poor wee girl, Chili’s illnesses, it brings to mind the proverbial barn door and horses. So many “could have, would have, and should have’s” been done so much differently…if only I had known.

chili-in-her-sun-puddle

Chili in her favourite sun puddle

Still, lessons have been learned, after the fact, naturally, then another old adage about hindsight springs to mind as well. Is there a point or a positive outcome to my mental self-flagellation? Absolutely not. Still, we humans do this, don’t we?

A positive outlook feels ever so much better than does the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth caused by overt guilting of one’s self. Anybody whom is familiar with the Seven Laws of Attraction knows that what you think is what you get. It’s a struggle some days but I choose to be positive.  I think it makes all the difference.

Does this tell you things are all tickety-boo? Hardly! Oh, there are constant worries, constant re-evaluation of priorities (my list of at least 10 priorities per day shifts sequence constantly), consistently new problems rearing their ugly heads. No, life is not charmed for me but positivity makes it bearable.

What has this to do with my dear pet’s health? Everything! When the pet mum or dad is positive, the pet is positive. When I hold my dear kitty close, she can feel my serenity and my belief in her. When I am being positive, she eats better which is essential to her health. When I talk to her in a positive tone, I know she understands the importance of what I’m saying. She thrives by my positivity.

I know that many who read this are going through the wars with their own dear pets and health issues. It’s one of the hardest things to go through apart from your children’s illnesses. Whilst I don’t suggest anything that should be used in place of proper Veterinarian care, it is vital to you and your pet to be positive always. Light candles, meditate, self-talk, positive affirmations, all things which can help you to relax and feel more …well…positive!

Have faith in yourself – I believe in you. And so does your pet. Paws-itively!

The “Hidden” Disease – Feline Hypothyroidism

Early 2016 my beloved cat of 15 years in my care began acting very strangely. To be fair, my kitty has always been a bit of a strange one. A very amusing cat at times – especially when she would roar around the house with a crazed look on her face, pouncing and bouncing, leaping, and literally flying  at times it would seem! This is what the children and I laughingly called “crack-a-cat” (Not to be confused with Mrs Pumphrey’s Tricki-Woo going “crackerdog” – All Creatures Great and Small) I always put every strangeness about my Chili down to having been a feral cat before joining our family.

chli-before-hypothyroidism

She had been alright it seemed, at first. Eating for England and drinking about enough for all as well. She had taken to spending an inordinate amount of time “hiding” under my desk. I took no serious notice of this as she has always been a “hider”….I would get missing her and when I found her she would be curled up in my wardrobe or under my bed. No alarm bells sounding yet.

One day as I were holding her I could tell she was lighter. I sat her on the armrest of a chair to inspect more carefully but she didn’t seem any thinner by sight. All in my mind, I thought. Within a month, she was visibly lighter so I decided the only thing for it was food. Better food, more food, but food was key. No. Oh she ate well enough alright and would eat anything I put before her. Still, the weight never came back. I still didn’t panic…yet.

In late May, early June, my beloved Chili took a serious turn. She could not keep anything down and was wobbling around like a drunken thing. She literally would stumble whilst walking. She wouldn’t eat, probably thinking it was the food making her ill, and panting heavily. Cats do know themselves better than any of us could hope to. I made a frantic call to the Veterinarian’s surgery and got an appointment for Monday (this was all happening on a Friday night – Saturday morning, ask poor Liss who had to comfort me through it all!) As Chili wouldn’t eat I was told to give her plain turkey or chicken baby food with NO additives. That part is very important.

Without going into all the details or this blog would become a book, Chili was given the full range of testing – bloods, urine, and more. Most heartbreakingly was the sight of my gorgeous girl whom once had weighed between 10 and 12 lbs, was now down to a scant 6.5 lbs! I truly felt I had let her down terribly. I had always promised her I would take care of her and this is what she got for her faith in me.

She was diagnosed with feline hypothyroidism. It seemingly is a condition which affects many cats in the elderly stages of their lives but only affecting cats under the age of 12 by 6%. Mind, it can also cover a plethora of other illnesses as well, such as inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal cancer, and chronic kidney failure which have similar symptoms to hypothyroidism. At the very beginning of symptoms, you MUST have your cat seen to by your Veterinarian. Don’t wait as I did because cats are notorious for hiding their Illness from their humans. I suspect they don’t like doctors any more than we do.

I shall be writing more about feline illnesses and behaviours soon. It has become a subject I am well-versed in from the year my Chili and I have had. If this helps any kitty (and their human!) to get onto the road to good health again, then it has been worth all we’ve been through to share with you.

Chili is still overly slender and has had many other things go wrong, but we are putting them right as best we can. She has her good days and her bad. But she has a fire inside and you can see by her face that her quality of life is there and worth the fight. She believes in me and I believe in her. We’ve got this. >^,,^<

Are Your Tweets Being Seen? The Playground Called Twitter

Are Your Tweets Being Seen?

The Playground Called Twitter

by Isabella

Some time back, I wrote a blog concerning “ghost-banning”. It’s about what happens when you’ve been reported for spam, or some other sin on social media, and then, whilst you are being scrutinised by the social media app you’ve offended (whether real or imagined) some of your rights, or privileges in the social media setting are withheld from your use. As in my case on Twitter, I am ghost-banned, and my tweets aren’t searchable under hashtags or in social networking hours.

At last writing, I wasn’t really sure why I had been stripped of my “searchability”, making it difficult to join in the networking hours as no one could “see” my tweets. I’m still not sure because Twitter never tells.  I won’t explain this phenomenon any further here. If you need more information, please read my previous blog. I’ve typed its explanation so often I can repeat it verbatim in my sleep.  You can refer to my earlier blog if you need more information on how to find out if you are ghost-banned:

Social Media and the Modern-Day Witchfinder General

http://bit.ly/2bS2ZIA

For actual spammers, this is fine. It’s a tool for Twitter to stop some (not all, clearly) of the abuse that happens on its platform.  However, there MUST be a way for the innocent to be able to have their account reinstated, to have their account really looked at without assumptions by @support. In order to do that, Twitter needs to implement a proper way for ghost-banned tweeters to put in a ticket. Presently a suspended account has that right, as well should the ghost-banned account.  Not all accounts that have been ghost-banned are necessarily guilty as charged.

Presently, the only way to contact Twitter for non-searchability  is here:

https://support.twitter.com/forms/feature_report?feature=search

Before we go any further in this thesis, let me show you what you can expect when you visit. Firstly, you will find boxes to tick for whichever issue you have. The first or the third one will do for ghost-banishment or “inability to be searched”. I’ve sent so many of these in (to no avail) that I just take turns using those two.

Screencap 1

Next, you will choose something from the drop-down menu. It really doesn’t matter which you choose because, quite frankly, “all of the above” comes to mind. I really think if they do nothing else, that option should be added to this menu. But, go on, make a choice and carry on.

Screencap 2

You now have 500 characters to state your case. I know..makes you feel positively giddy to see 500 characters and not 140, doesn’t it? Don’t get too excited because in reality, you need more. Find an online character counter to save yourself time and to help you figure out the least amount of words to make the best impression.

Screencap 1a

 

And make a good impression, please. I know you’re angry, hurt, full of “how dare theys” but you do not want to reflect that attitude or Twitter will push your “ticket” to the bottom of the heap. And I am sure they have quite a heap by now. Simply state who you are (first name) and what you mostly use Twitter for (ie, a business advertising your product, etc), how you are unsearchable, would someone please look at your account as this has hurt your revenue, that you are sorry for whatever it was you’ve done and thank them.

Just because I have never heard back from Twitter doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I have talked to at least 3 people who have put in a ticket to Twitter and their accounts have since been restored, although Twitter did not contact them, nor did they confirm these accounts had been ghost-banned in the first place.  So, give it a go and good luck. Lastly, once you have filled in the form and pressed send this is what you will see:

Screencap 3

This will hardly fill your heart with hope. It makes you feel as though all this *might* do is give Twitter ideas on how to improve things but thus far, it hasn’t. Who knows? Maybe after the gajillionth entry, perhaps someone will get the idea?

If you’re not ghost-banned, there is a plethora of literature on the web on how NOT to be ghost-banned.  Many people don’t take the time to learn the rules. I must confess I have been guilty as well. Still, as with all forms of social media, I personally attempt at all times to live up to the good common sense my father taught me and not to air my dirty washing as my mum taught me. It would never occur to me to threaten another person in any mode of discussion, whether it be online or in person. If I have over-tweeted on occasion, whether it be my own wares or retweeting someone else’s, I can promise, it was not meant to be spammy. If anything, I am guilty of wanting to be helpful, possibly too much so! Particularly if it this desire to help my fellow tweeters landed me in my own private ghost town.

But, what about when another party becomes angry with another tweeter?  How could a person who did not know they were involved become involved only because they were “guilty by association” with the tweeter who has been targeted? What if that person and all associated with that person become the target of an angry group of tweeters wishing to do them ill?  Because as we know, all it takes is a “playground war” on Twitter and enough people reporting a person with whom they’re angry – no matter which side is right or wrong – people will be ghost-banned.

This would now become a terrible form of bullying. And, as unpopular as I’m sure this will make me with Twitter…isn’t this tantamount to what is happening when they ghost-ban a tweeter leaving them with absolutely NO ability to ask for a solution? If you are suspended, you can file a proper ticket and get help. If you are ghost-banned, you are out of luck, mate. In Twitter’s efforts to thwart bullying, they have become the bully. In their efforts to thwart spam, they have become the spammer with every other tweet a promoted tweet.

It seems a bad move on Twitter’s part to leave who “lives and who dies” up to the masses. I don’t mean to say that people should not be able to protect themselves..not at all. That is why we have the ability to mute and block. If you don’t want to see it, then click one of these. End of. But it seems to me that it is all too easy to report a person for some real or imagined wrong-doing. I want to believe that Twitter’s heart may have been in the right place by giving us these tools, however, Twitter’s owner(s) are still 100% accountable for happens from that point forward. It is my understanding that @support investigates a person’s Twitter account and in many cases, leave it “ghosted” until they have satisfied themselves the account holder is guilty as charged. But as with any business with millions of customers, is their @support coping with all of the charges being brought up on so many accounts?

I have a solution to this, should Twitter be reading. First, let me say that you can keep the “ghost banning” in effect to stop spammers! I realise what your intentions are in using it, but what I ask is that you provide legitimate, non-spamming people a way to contest it when they find out they are being ghost-banned.

If Twitter cares about being fair to their tweeters they would agree to this but I wonder if they do care.  It was down to a knee-jerk decision to implement ghost-banning to begin with because Twitter didn’t want to have to police the tweeters themselves; just leave it to the general population to “police” each other by reporting for spam and other things, whether guilty or not.

Just to have an idea of how they might agree with my opinion you can read here:

http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/twitter-boss-admits-company-sucks-at-dealing-with-abusive-trolls/0144769

If you are reading this blog and would like to see a petition sent to Twitter for re-evaluation of their support for people who have, most probably, been ghost-banned without being guilty, please sign our petition:

https://www.change.org/p/twitter-support-for-twitter-s-re-evaluation-of-support-policies-for-ghost-banning?recruiter=22124260&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

Many thanks for reading. The Twitter account you save might be your own.

ghostbanned

Promises, Promises

It’s funny (metaphorically speaking) how something seems to become a well-worn pattern in your life that you can never fully escape. For me, that is the “Promiser”.

“I promise to…” does not necessarily need to be spoken. When I am told (repeatedly by someone I think I have reason to trust) that said person will do something, I believe it. It’s my one weakness.

My friend, Diane, from day one of school. We got on like a house on fire in every way and were best mates for many years…until. You see, Diane was one of those who would make grand statments and then forget…or never really mean to fulfill those “promises”. During August when almost everybody went on holiday (apart from mine..we did occasional day trips instead) Diane’s family would pack up and off to somewhere nice. Diane always promised to “bring me back something”. I didn’t expect it, and my manners would have never allowed me to ask for anything, if it had occurred to me.

So, of course, when you’re seven, this seems quite intoxicating to know you might be getting a trifle from such exotic places as Blackpool..or..oh, dare I hope, Brighton? You have to know I didn’t really get out much. So, the first several times Diane came back empty handed, I didn’t fret, just went on our way being best mates. I would have been chuffed with a shell or a handfull of beach sand.

Sadly, not even that would be the case because, quite plainly, Diane FORGOT! Yes, every time, she would come back having forgotten not just my “gift” but ME! Here I sat for 2 weeks and nothing to do because I didn’t want to have too much fun without Diane around to share it with…but hey! She was having the time of her life wherever she was and had the audacity to “forget” ME! Not sparing a thought for her very best friend…whilst I pined away for her. That finally occurred to me one day when we were about 13. That’s when she said, “We’re going on our holibobs next week! I’ll bring you something back!” Oh, no she didn’t!

Drawing a deep positivity breath and exhaling the negative, I simply put to her, “Diane, don’t tell me this anymore. It never happens. It has gotten to where it hurts my feelings. Just go and have fun. You can tell me all about your trip when you get  back.” I could have as well had slapped her face by the look on it. This is when she turned on me and calling me a selfish so and so, stormed off, out of my life, and out of our friendship. Just like that. Oh and how she could blank me after she returned to school! This went on til…well, it has never ended.

Lesson learned. If you tell someone you’ll do something, move the heavens and earth to do so or just keep your lip zipped in first place. And, try harder to catch on to the “promisers” early days before you fall for their “grand statements” enough to let yourself be hurt. I suppose it’s something I’ve never really gotten past. And, with it happening again so recently I just had to finally write about it. As The Who put it “We won’t be fooled again!”

Social Media and the Modern-Day Witchfinder General

Social media can be a boon to many people…just for general chit-chat and for businesses, the quickest, least expensive way of getting their products seen by the World. Since there is a plethora of social medias out there which cater to the business owner, we are spoilt for choice. We have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter to name a few. But, what you might not know is, with all the good this can bring to you in your business, it has a dark and despicable downside as well. It’s called “ghost banning” and I call it the modern-day Witchfinder General.

No, it has relatively nothing at all to do with real witches. Or, at least, it should not do, as that would clearly be bigotry. What it does have to do with is that any of the social medias we so happily flog our wares on to be seen by all and sundry can just as easily make us un-seen…or “ghosts”, if you will.

Take for example, Twitter. If you’re a seasoned Twitter business owner, you might do what is known as Twitter hours. If you don’t know, the Twitter hours are designed by certain business folk on Twitter to help business owners meet other business owners and retweet their products as well as follow each other. I’ve used these hours myself with great results but these days I’ve not bothered as I am one of the un-seen. I am ghost-banned.

Allow me to try to explain in simplest of terms that I can what happens during a Twitter hour when you are ghost-banned. Most people attending these hours will use a specific hashtag in order to stand out from other businesses tweeting at the same time. That hashtag, or hashtags, notifies other participants of that hour that you wish to have your business tweet retweeted. Not all participants, but most, will do a Twitter search on the hashtag being used to pull up all the tweets coming through during that hour with that specific hashtag. It just makes life a bit easier for us so we don’t have to try to catch them as they fly through in our normal mode of viewing tweets. Let’s say we are in #HandmadeCatToysHour (yes, it’s too long but it’s an example, after all). All businesses participating during this hour will hashtag their business tweets with #handmadecattoyshour. If they’re Twitter-savvy, they will do a Twitter search to pull up only the tweets which has that hashtag. Then, they can “see” all the participants whom are tweeting with that hashtag. Easy peasy!

But not so for those of us whom have been ghost-banned. We might as well be on the Moon for all the good it will do to be there, hashtag or not. No one will see our tweets in this setting. Yes, people on the “outside”…the ones looking at their normal tweet “browser” or “tweet deck” ..all the tweets which go by, if they follow you, they WILL physically see your tweets – but that will be whether you are employing a hashtag or not. If they so choose, they might wish to retweet you manually (click the mouse). But the folk congregated in a #HandmadeCatToysHour browser will NOT see you. They will, however, see you ONLY if you personally address them such as “@cattoysrus, have you seen my new Moggy Mat? What do you think? http://www.catmats.com #HandmadeCatToysHour” (yes, I am certain I went over 140 characters, I’m only a writer! I’m taking artistic licence!)

This is the bane of the ghost-banned. We can tweet, we can get new followers, we can follow others (unless blocked), we can be “seen” in normal tweet browsing by our followers, as well as to be “manually” (when somebody sees our tweet and retweets it from normal circumstances) retweeted but if we’re in a Twitter hour or if you retweet our hashtag from a 3rd party app such as Roundteam, we are non-existent. So, if you are business owner and find you aren’t being retweeted as much as you once were, you might want to have a follower perform this check for you. You can also sign out of your business account and sign into your personal account to perform this action.
1. Type from:twitternick into search. This is only showing the format of what you must type. You must replace “twitternick” with your own Twitter nick. For myself I would type from:SpeakingofWytch (from : SpeakingofWytch spreading it out a bit so you can see the colon in there).
2. You will be brought to the page that says “Top Tweets/All Tweets”. Are your tweets populated in this area? Or, as with me, do you hear crickets chirping? You will see a blank space saying “no results”.
3. You’ve been ghost-banned. This is why your tweets have dwindled to few or non-existent.
Do not try this from the account you are checking. It will show you as being there. You must check from a different account.

my Twitter account

For the business owner, this can be a huge loss of revenue as so many of us are using Twitter these days to get our products seen. Retweets are necessary for all the views and visits to our websites we can get…hopefully turning into sales.
When I first began noticing this on Boxing Day 2015, it was sporadic…sometimes I was retweeted as normal, then other times, not. I am fairly certain my visibility was off and on for around a week. After a friend on Twitter Googled @SpeakingofWytch, she found something about I had been “blocked” and Twitter and the 5th of January 2016. No more information than that! And there might have possibly been more info but if they used robot.txt then it could be why clicking the strange link appended to this ground-breaking news is not forth-coming with information.

So, you might have guessed. I am not best pleased. Obviously this has put not only a huge complication on being seen by the right buyers for my wares on Twitter but it has taken much of my precious little time to research this problem and to try to find answers. I would like to say Twitter is helpful but sadly, no. They have only two answers as to why you might no longer be searchable. One is, if you haven’t been actively using your Twitter account for a period of time. Or, they believe you are a spam account or just sending out spam. On Twitter’s Help website they have many “helps” for suspended accounts but you won’t find a sausage about when you are ghost-banned. It is a rather cowardly way (in my estimation) of telling you that they don’t like whatever it is you’ve done (or haven’t done) and they are putting you on the naughty step, yet at the same time allowing you to play. With your hands tied. Problem is, they don’t tell you why you’ve been naughty, nor do they tell you if and when they will deem you fit to play with others fully again. Meanwhile, sit here, take the crayons and colouring in book but wear these handcuffs. There’s a good lass.

I have made many attempts at getting Twitter’s help to no avail. A friend on Twitter gave me a link to a “form” to send in to the Help folk explaining my plight in 500 characters or less (this sort of gives me the first clue that they might not care). Once you’ve done this and click the submission button, you get a cheery “thank you for this. It will help us to help others but we probably won’t do f all for you and we probably won’t write to you about it, either”. No, this is not the exact wording but it is close enough and it might as well say it because it is what it means. This is my second clue that they *probably* don’t care.

Now I’m just getting sarky. And, when you need help, being sarcastic is not the way to go. But then, three “tickets” to Twitter and the occasional plea to @Support hasn’t helped, either. I really do wish they would give me the chance to defend myself and to put right my supposed wrongs. What if I were ghost-banned on accident? Probably not, still, why am I not allowed my day in “court”, but a killer is?

If anybody reading this can provide an easier way, I am open to all suggestions. I never thought being a witch in this day and age would be as it was 500+/- years ago. But, clearly, we still have a form of “Witchfinder General” in the shadows….and if you’re caught (whatever it is you’re doing wrong, but you shall never know) you won’t be drowned or burned, at least. But, you will be ghost-banned. Good luck and here is hoping it doesn’t happen to you!

Links on how NOT to get ghost-banned:

Am I Being Blocked from Twitter *Search*? (Weekly Q&A)

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/ghost-banning-phenomenon/

ghostbanned

Magickal Holly Cross Anti-Nightmare Talisman Folk Magick

HollyNightmareProtection2 A 3″ x 3″ Holly equal-armed cross, pyrographed with the bindrune for nightmare prevention and Holly ogham. True folk magick…

photo by I. Macy

Myth and Lore can be funny things..as time passes and the stories are re-told, in many cases without benefit of setting pen to paper, so much gets misconstrued…even to the point of hilarity at times. So can be the story of placing a garland of Holly around the neck of a horse to prevent it having nightmares. Yes, animals do dream, but this is one of those misconstrued “stories” as I shall call it, being that I am not sure if the truth of it is either “myth” or “lore” or “nor”. So, I shall tell you what I learned Holly can do for the dreamer as learnt at the knee of my old Nan.

First, you must know that my Nan made crosses out of all sorts for protection. Not the Christian cross, necessarily, but an equal-armed, plain cross. Holly was not only used in her home for Yule celebrations but for other reasons as well. It was used ritually to aid and help with a person’s ability to cope with death. It was also used to ease anybody’s sleep with peaceful dreams. I always slept well at Nana’s if that’s any proof.

Here is Nana’s Holly cross for preventing nightmares and protection in sleep with my own additions, such as the Holly ogham, Tinne and my own bindrune using Dagaz for “safe passage from dark to light”, Ingwaz symbolising “protection, a light shining from the darkness”, Ihwaz for “protection against unexpected attack”, and Algiz for “protection and safe refuge”.

Our crosses are made by de-barking and sanding until completely smooth, pyrographing the Tinne (or Tiene) ogham onto each 3 ends of the cross, and tied together in the centre with red cotton thread. My own bindrune for protection of hearth and home and safe dreams is on the bottom end of the cross. We then polish the cross with linseed oil and then our own handmade beeswax wand polish/wax. Adding a plait of green for the green of Holly leaves , red for the red of Holly berries, and white for the white Holly wood, for ease of hanging, it is now ready to be hung above your bed, or upon your person as a means of anti-negative dreams, protection and security.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings )O(

If you would like to purchase this talisman from our Etsy shop, here is the link:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/256445023/holly-talisman-protection-talisman-holly?ref=shop_home_active_6

If you would like a special talisman for a different need, you can send us a “convo” (email) from your Etsy inbox to ours, explaining the need and what you envision and we’ll be happy to help you as we do take bespoke orders for nearly every item in our shop. Just click the “Contact” button on any listing.

All Hallow’s Eve Blessings

For the last few weeks, a young black cat has made our back garden her “hang out”.  I wouldn’t exactly call it her making it her home by any means as she did go away for a while and I could only hope she had gone to her real home with her real family.  But then, two days ago, young “Bastet” as we’ve begun calling her, has come back and taken up residency under a small crawlspace underneath the deck behind the house.  I was most pleased to see her back with us.

Some cultures/countries believe – or at least at one time, believed – that black cats are harbingers of doom. Not so of the English, for we have always thought completely opposite of the black moggy.  Good luck all around.  So, we’ve been attempting to keep Bastet happy with us by plying her with plenty of good cat victuals and soothing words and tones.  Apart from her feeling comfortable enough with me pegging out the washing yesterday, she is as feral as a 14 year old girl.

Today as I sat there, watching Bastet contemplate life on one of her favourite perches, a great murder of crows (although thinking back, they looked much too sleek to be crows, possibly ravens) gather rather abruptly in the branches of a young Ash tree across from me.  The tree is in an open “field”, not in somebody’s garden.  At first, I thought, “Ah, what news are the Divine Parents bringing by gifting me the sight of such a spectacular murder? It might not be good!” As we know, along with black cats, many believe the crow to be another harbinger of doom.  Not necessarily!

http://www.humansandnature.org/
http://www.humansandnature.org/

I watched them hopping about from one branch to another, flying around the tree top, and cawing happily and came to realise….this certainly is not bad news!  They were not gathering to feed upon some poor hapless creature who had only recently perished, whereas the news might have been more to the effect of “clean up your messes, make changes, work harder, give up things which no longer serve you”. The crows/ravens were telling me to enjoy life! Have fun, good things are afoot (or “alight” as it were), go for your dreams a little harder, but enjoy the journey.  It was a pleasure to watch their happiness and fun-having gestures. Beautiful…

For much of my life I have believed that the owl and the cat were my spirit animals. Maybe it’s because I so loved “The Owl and the Pussycat” when I were a child, I don’t know. I do know that I’ve always had an enduring affection for winged creatures and particularly those with feathers.  But as I have been moving into my “golden years”, I continually find the crow and the raven making their presence known to me more often than not.  No matter where I am in the World, crows seem to be near, particularly of a morning if I am outside having a quiet cuppa. Their almost cheerful “caw caw caw” seems to be a morning greeting.  Of course, I always reply back, “good morning, crows!”  If a neighbour overhears me, let them think me daft, I could not give a toss.  I’d rather cultivate a good relationship with the crows, if I’m honest.  They tell me things.

So, today’s message on this All Hallow’s Eve is to go for it, do what you love, make those dreams happen, and have a grand old time doing so.  I think I shall…thank you, crows!

My Dad, the Poppy Appeal, and Me

Tower2

photo by Getty Images

For me, as I wasn’t born yet, obviously, to see it put into the perspective of the poppies cascading out of and around the grounds of London Tower, imagining how many there are and knowing each represents a soldier from the Great War (1914 – 1918)…how could I not wear a poppy? But this isn’t my only reason.

This blog is meant as much to be a memorial of sorts to my father as it is a “poppy appeal”.  In fact, it is how it were meant to be altogether as on the 22nd of October, he would have been 102, could he have lived.  I know, you’re doing the maths in your head and thinking “ah, he couldn’t have fought in the Great War, he was but a babe in arms”. No, he didn’t fight in the Great War, but he did fight in WWII.  And, he probably, possibly, could have gotten out of it, if he had wanted to.

My father was married and 26 when the war started going.  And he were Quaker. He could have probably worked around this, possibly even managed a conscientious objector status, however, rather than waiting around to be conscripted, he joined. No ifs, ands, or buts..just did what he knew he had to do to keep England safe from the hands of Hitler.

My father loved England.  He fought in Italy, Belgium, France, and within Blighty herself, where needed. He didn’t take the easy way as some young men, whom even though they were conscientious objectors, still joined but asked for (and received) non-combatant duties as in the case of Christopher Lake in 1940 shortly after becoming Quaker (cited from quakersintheworld.org).  My dad fought and had the shrapnel scars to prove it.

He never liked talking about the War…not many men in those days did.  I would ask him things and if it wasn’t too much of a secret, I might get an answer, but if it were, he would clam right up.  I once asked him if he ever shot anybody whilst in service and he changed the subject quite deftly.  I don’t know if it was because he did and he didn’t want to talk about it, or, if because he did not and wasn’t sure if it would de-mean him in my eyes as a soldier…nothing could de-mean that man in my eyes.  After all, I was going to marry him when I grew up, wasn’t I? I think all little girls believe that for a little while, at least.

What does all this have to do with the Poppy Appeal? One of my fondest memories would be for us two to take a stroll into the village on a frosty first of November, having breakfast at a narrow little cafe with black and white tiled floors, sitting in hard bench booths and then stopping along the way home to purchase a couple of small, red poppies from a spry little wrinkled man in a cap, wearing a poppy of his own. And when my father paid him – always a bit more than the poppies sold for – the little man would smile a wide, toothless smile when my father waved off the change and told our WWI veteran to buy himself a hot cuppa with it. Then, we would wend our way home, wearing our poppies proudly.  I still feel that feeling today when I buy mine each year. I only wish my dad were still here to do this with me.

Poppy Seller's Kit

Many people have different opinions about buying poppies and if you don’t feel it is necessary, then so be it. We’re all allowed our opinions and I have to respect that. Perhaps they’ve never lost a loved one in a War and I hope they haven’t. Perhaps they have done and don’t feel enough was done for them.  Maybe they just don’t realise what the Legion does for those who’ve lost a soldier family member or one who has been disabled because of their service. Perhaps they have not had a father like mine.

So, Dad, I have my poppy and as always, I bought one for you. Poppy Pair

visit http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

The Magic of Holly

photo by I. Macy
photo by I. Macy

The Holly and the Ivy
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly wears the crown.
~ traditional carol

In his book The White Goddess, the author Robert Graves proposed that the mythological figure of the Holly King represents one half of the year, while the other is personified by his counterpart and adversary the Oak King: the two battle endlessly as the seasons turn. At Midsummer the Oak King is at the height of his strength, whilst the Holly King is at his weakest. The Holly King begins to regain his power, and at the Autumn Equinox, the tables finally turn in the Holly King’s favour; his strength peaks at Midwinter. They are both vegetation Gods/Deities, connected to fertility and the seasons. They battle each other year after year to reign supreme.

Holly is the tree of the 8th month of Celtic Tree calendar, July 8th – August 4th and the 8th consonant of the Ogham alphabet, Tinne or Tiene. Deities are Lugh, Tannus, and Thor. Ruling planets are Mars and Saturn and its element is Fire. The powers of Holly include protection, anti-lightning, luck, and dream magick.

“Holly reminds us of the need to calm our emotions, if we are to reach wise decisions about our situation. The often painful consequences of our actions are brought to the surface for examination, and calm acceptance of our responsibility is required. We are reminded of the need to view ourselves, as well as others, in the light of compassion and unconditional love. Like the Hanged Man of the Tarot, holly represents personal sacrifice in order to gain something of greater value.” – The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

“Holly wood was used by the ancients in the construction of spear shafts, and as the spiny leaves show, it is well prepared for battle. A symbol of firmness and masculine energy, the holly endows those born under its sign with an equally well-prepared nature. You have a strong connection to the earth, amazing physical strength, and the ability to direct your energy in a balanced even flow. This stability gives you a generosity of spirit ad a very matter-of-fact solidness that others will respect, admire, and rely on. Before you engage in any battle, look inside for understanding and respect for your opponents.” – Written by Kim Rogers-Gallagher, and Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000

The Holly wand is 37cm (14-1/2 in) long and completely hand-carved by me. There are no wood lathes or power tools of any kind used, nor even so much as a pair of callipers, only a Stanley knife and sandpaper. Of course, the Holly ogham, tiene, is inscribed with a pyrography tool, apart from that, as with all of our wands, no electrical tools were used.

Afterwards, I polish the wand with our own Speaking of Witch Wands English Beeswax Wand Polish, also made by me. You will receive a 10ml pot of this polish along with your wand (as seen here:https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/197822860/speaking-of-witch-wands-beeswax-wand?ref=listing-1) at no additional charge. It may not sound like a large amount but you really only need a tiny amount to keep your wand looking beautiful.

The wood for this wand was not cut by me from the tree, however, I happened upon the remains of a tree pruning and naturally brought all I could home. It would have been rude to Mother Nature not to!

If you would like to purchase this wand, please click this link:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/245178880/holly-wand-magic-wand-wiccan-wand?ref=shop_home_active_4
Thank you for looking and many blessings!

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