Update: March 1st, 2017

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My Imbolc Altar

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a personal update post, or written at all really. This first part of the winter semester has been rough, and I’ve been unable to create as much content for the blog as I would have liked to. My classes are interesting, and I’m very fond of all of the professors that I have this time around, but I think that the academic burnout and senioritis has really started to sink in, as well as a string of sort of rotten luck (more on that in a moment). It’s felt like an uphill struggle; now, with only a few more weeks left, it’s feeling a bit like careening down the other side of that hill in a rollercoaster cart. For the next month and a half or so, I’ll be much less active online, as I’ve a fifteen and a twenty page paper to do for my major history courses along with coursework for the other two classes I’m taking. The monthly tarot readings are also going to be left for the time being and will resume in May once I’ve graduated.

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The Feb. Full Moon, Seen From Campus

The biggest struggle this semester, aside from academics though, has been my own battle with depression and anxiety. Due to a number of conflicts, circumstances that couldn’t be prevented, etc. my friend group has gotten dramatically smaller here. On top of that, money has been a real struggle, and the limited budget means weird diet shifts every couple of weeks- all really typical college student stuff, but sort of exacerbated by the aforementioned academic stress and dramatic decrease in social circle. I finally went “This is a problem, and I need some help,” after having a bit of a mental breakdown over a splinter of all frigging things a few weeks back. I’ve been going to the campus counseling center, using some essential oils, and spending more time with the few friends I DO have left around. I think, for the most part, I’ve really pulled myself out of that pit for the time being, and am starting to come back round the bend to a better place.

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Little things have really been the cause of several shifts, good and bad, over the past few weeks. I’ve been able, with the exception of this past week or so, to post a YouTube video to my channel for the YouTube Pagan Challenge each week. I was visited by my soul-brother and best friend, Mark, and we got to talk several times on spirituality, plans for the summer, goals, etc. and make a video with one of our close friends, Shelby, on the experience of being a pagan and a millennial. You can find that on YouTube here. I also, during his visit, acquired a new tarot deck: After Tarot. I’m hoping to do an actual review of the deck later on, but in the past few weeks of having it, I can honestly say that I love it to pieces. The creators of the deck seemed to be aiming, from what I read in the book that accompanied the deck, to be looking for more of a predictive tarot style: really reaching into the future past what the cards traditionally depict and represent, but I’ve gotten a different feel from it (more on that later, I promise!).

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The 4 of Wands, 10 of Swords and 5 of Swords from After Tarot

The other major change / update in my life is that I am no longer moving to Florida in May. Due to a number of circumstances, most of them financial, it will not be possible for my boyfriend and I to afford our own place for a while. At first, I was really upset about this. I’d spent months planning this, and was so close to its fruition now when I found out that it wasn’t going to work. As I’ve stewed over the situation though, I’ve realized it might honestly be for the better anyway. For one, it makes a lot of financial sense to move back in with my parents and just dump all of my money from a job into paying back student loans, and do things like learn to drive, take up my parents’ offer to help me get a car, etc. But, beyond that, it also perfectly plays out in favor of some of the goals I’d already set for myself spiritually speaking. I’d been planning on taking a year between graduation and going into school for funeral services to pay loans and devote a good deal of time to spiritual study. Needing to live with my parents also keeps me from being close enough to a program to even contemplate more school; essentially all I can do is work, pay loans, and work on really developing and revitalizing my spiritual path. I also had a plan for a small tattoo in devotion to the Wylde Hunt that I will now more feasibly be able to afford without having to pay a bunch of money to move all the way from Florida to Michigan. It really sucks that my seeing my boyfriend again is postponed, and that I’m stuck moving back home, but I’m starting to think that it might not be so bad- and even for the best, really.

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The Hierophant from After Tarot

I’ve a number of plans for spiritual / witchy stuff in the works for the coming months. I’m currently participating in the #tarotnerdschallenge on Instagram throughout the month of March, and the YouTube Pagan Challenge videos, and hopefully some posts correlating to those videos, will be continuing throughout the remaining weeks of this semester. My parents have graciously given me permission to through a Beltane bash just after my graduation with my witchy friends from school and my home town, and I’m very much looking forward to that. Beltane will also mark the beginning of a year devoted to spiritual study, as I’ve mentioned. I’m really looking to pick up my old project of trying to create a fleshed out path centered around the Wylde Hunt again, and am hoping to compile it and maybe even publish it as a book; this time I’m looking at it more holistically- trying to include a healthier diet / exercise portion in it, myth/history, interpreting the Hunt as psychopomp and ferrier of the soul from one place of being to another, etc. etc. etc. More of this will probably come in blog posts as I work on the research and practice required for it to be ‘completed’.

That reminds me. Those who followed my old blog, The Raven & The Oak, will find that it has now been taken down. I went through the process of saving all of the posts on it to a Microsoft Word file for my own record and memory. It felt as though it was time. Many of the posts were from my high school and early college days; my path has changed, my ways of writing and thinking about different topics have changed. I noticed that my younger self was particularly problematic about sourcing information and images used in posts, too. It was time to let it go, and to move forward with current projects instead. Hopefully, The Patchwork Crow will be a bit more sophisticated than my previous blog had been.

Many blessings to you all,
Rachel

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Winter Break: Looking Forward

The semester is at its end, and that means that Yule is fast approaching. The Fall 2016 semester has been, without a single doubt, the hardest and most taxing semester for me emotionally, spiritually, etc. since my first semester at college (and maybe even fall of last year and all associated drama). My academic courses were challenging, and I experienced a total upheaval of some things within my own interpersonal relationships; that is the reason for my relative silence on the blog over the last several months. I’ve lost a couple of people along they way- and fallen short on a lot of projects that I’d hope to have going throughout the course of this semester. At times lately, it feels as though I’ve sort of pushed myself back to zero- but I know better. I’ve learned a great deal about myself in regards to my own limits, thoughts, means of self-expression, etc. And I’ve learned a great deal in the terms of time management, dealing with other people, and more.

I’ve seen a few posts floating around that explained how, numerologically, 2016 was a ‘9 Year’: a time for dramatic changes, the shaking up of foundations, etc. I know that nationally (as an American), and globally, I’ve seen that to be true; although I won’t comment on politics and the like here (I don’t feel as though I’m well-informed enough, and quite frankly, that wasn’t my hopes for this post). And, as I’ve indicated above, I’ve seen a great deal of this theme of loss, chaos, change, etc. in my personal life as well. 2017, however, is meant to be a ’10 Year’: one for new beginnings and fresh starts. I’m really hoping that holds true as I look at what a mess is still sort of left over from this year.

As ready for a rest from 2016 as I am- as much as I want to just close my eyes and find some form of peace as we creep into the holiday season- I know that I must be more mindful than that. This past Full Moon (12/14/16) in Gemini reminded me that rest is important- but so is mindful release of all that negative crap that might still be lingering. As this final month of 2016 starts to wind towards its end, I find myself needing to look both at my past (to synthesize what has happened, to finalize those lessons learned, and to determine which things need to continue into the future), and to the future. So many changes are coming for me within the first few months of 2017. I’ll be starting my final semester of college (this time with a significantly larger amount of time to myself which I’ll have to learn how to handle), I’ll be graduating and taking those first steps into the ‘real adult world’, and moving over one thousand miles away to live in Florida with my boyfriend of four years. There is a great deal of planning to be done if these things are to be done successfully.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be journaling about all of these things, and coming up with new plans for my personal practice, this blog, and my YouTube channel for the coming year. I was not as active here as I had hoped to be, and I’m hoping some better planning and reevaluating of where I’m at will help to change that in 2017.

Until next time,
Rachel

Updates: Nov. 7th, 2016

Things have finally slowed down enough for me to sit down and write. I’ve spent several weeks away from my blog and YouTube despite a number of plans I’d had for various projects. The Universe, it seemed, had other intentions for me.

My Wylde Hunt Challenge fell short. I didn’t quite get off on the proper footing, and each attempt to keep it going sort of followed suit. Many of my personal creative projects fell to the wayside as well. I’m a little bummed. Autumn is usually such a productive time for me; this Autumn felt like a bit of a train wreck.

On the New Moon at the end of September, I decided to perform a ritual to cut away a lot of the negative aspects of self that were destructive and causing me suffering- old patterns that no longer served me and where I would like my practice to go.

The ritual consisted of me creating sacred space. Within it, I called upon the Hunt, on Herne as its leader and my patron, and upon Yew- the black dog and guide that has been in my dreams and meditations since this summer. I asked them to help me ‘hunt’ down those parts of self, to slay them, and to help me carry them away in the days to come so that I might move on from things which are no longer serving me. It was part shamanic journey, and part physical. The poppet I had made to represent that which I wanted to ‘hunt’ was destroyed, and lain atop my clan tartan scarf (to reflect ancestral ties), and a little bundle of dried cedar and lilies from my home. It remained there for a week, until I could finally burn them and bury them in the earth in the ravines.

The evening I set out to burn them, things got very strange. The Hunter seemed a bit angry, aggressive- quite truly terrifying to me at the time. Some items I meant to burn and bury wouldn’t, and I was really quite confused and frustrated for a while following what was supposed to be the conclusion of my ritual… Now that I’m looking back, I’m seeing that there was a period of darkness that was necessary before rebirth was possible: just like Samhain marks the witches’ New Year, but we do not see that change and that return of light until much later.

In the couple of weeks between that rite and Samhain, it felt as though everything just fell apart. I had a temporary falling out with a close friend, another longtime companion went to prison; my family cat was put down; I made decisions that tore me apart until I was finally able to admit them… I fell behind on school work, on personal chores, and especially in my practice. Some of it wasn’t resolved until a couple of evenings ago. Sometimes, you just need a friend to drag you into the woods with a sage bundle and mead until you end up coming to the conclusions you need.

Things aren’t perfectly fixed, but they’re getting better. I really feel like what I need to power through the rest of this school year has finally come. The Hunt no longer feels threatening, the shadows that needed addressing have been addressed- and those that needed to be have been laid to rest where they belong. School work has still been keeping me busy, and I’m therefore hesitant to make promises of any further projects or regular posting until the semester has reached its end.

I’m looking forward to the Winter months- and hoping they hold a much smoother time than Autumn did. Plans have just been begun for Yule with the witchy tribe, and I’m feeling a lot better about making it through this semester and onward towards graduation and beyond.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Samhain, and that the months to come are full of magic, love, and prosperity.

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

P.S. For the month of November, I will not be offering my tarot service on the Full Moon. I’ve got too many things due between now and the Thanksgiving Break to do so. I’m very sorry I forgot about it for October and will not be able to do so for November. I should be returning with it come December, though.

Summer’s End: A Reflection

I started the summer, and this blog with a post about shadow work, and the fact that this summer was going to be all about that process of radical transformation. Now, though I hardly think that process is over, school is beginning in just a few short days. My arrival at GVSU always marks, for me, a sort of new chapter. It’s a new living environment (as I’ve switched dorms each year), I’m often living with new people, new classes, etc. There’s unlimited potential for the academic year to be something great / interesting / whatever.

This year, it feels almost more potently so. I’ve had a rough summer between dental issues, plans not working quite as hoped, and interpersonal problems, it’s been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. A lot has changed in the past few months, for good or ill.

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I’ve embraced a lot of old things that I once had felt connected to, but decided didn’t fit into the box or image I was trying to make for myself. This was literally anything from witchcraft practices from my earlier stages of practice, to more mundane things like Sailor Moon and my darker music and style interests. Old friends came back into my life- more than they’d been in the past five years or so since graduating high school. It was refreshing, and felt like a total homecoming that I was very much open to. Participating in my usual summer traditions with old friends for the first time in ages was nothing short of amazing.

But, just as I was embracing many many things that had undoubtedly been a part of who I am, I was faced with much to let go of: anxieties and fears, practices that weren’t working, physical objects, even a couple of relationships with people. Conflicts did indeed happen over some of these issues, and they sort of opened my eyes to aspects of myself I hadn’t necessarily recognized at the beginning of the summer. For example: I wasn’t, for quite some time, careful with my energy, and spending that energy unwisely, or not protecting it from others’ influence, led to myself and the other people involved getting hurt. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of anxiety I’d built up about my physical health, and those whose job it is to help me maintain it. I’m not nearly as terrified of the dentist as I was at the beginning of summer, and I’ve certainly been taking better care of those teeth now. I’ve come to realize that I have a bit of a control-freak streak. When I can’t be in charge of what I do- and especially when I’m told how I do/should feel or think in situations, I get a bit irrationally angry. I’ve been trying to take the time to step back, release that anger, and dig deeper into what is actually being said rather than closing up and getting defensive. This is a work in progress.

Some things aren’t resolved- and may never be completely. But I feel like I’ve come out of this summer’s bit of growth stronger, more confident, and ready to take on the school year and what challenges come next. The process isn’t over, but I’ve done a lot of digging and feel happier for it.

Much love to you all,
Rachel