Personal Update and Solstice Reflections

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This past week or so, with the Solstice and my twenty-third birthday mark the conclusion of my twelfth year as a practicing witch, and one year since this blogging journey was begun. I’ve not been as active as I’ve wanted to be on this, my YouTube channel, the rest of my social media presences, or in my own practice. This past year has been incredibly trying, but I’d like to believe that I’ve finally come through the worst of it.

 

I’ve been home now and done with my undergraduate studies for about two months. It’s still feeling a little lack-luster. Where’s that promise of a job in something relevant to my degree? Why do I feel so apathetic about grad school? What the hell does one do with a B.A. in history? There are a lot of unanswered questions, and a lot of things that feel stagnant and frustrating about being in my parents’ house in my hometown and working at something completely unrelated to all of the things I’ve spent years and years of energy into with my studies.

 

We’ve also had a hell of a lot of rain. Both Beltane and Midsummer were sort of de-railed by the heavy rain and flooding that came with them. I’d planned gatherings with friends for each that had to be called off because of the weather and scheduling conflicts. In retrospect, I think I needed those moments to myself.

Beltane was a rainy evening, spent in the pavilion at the local state park. This was where I performed a rite of dedication to the Wylde Hunt and to Herne the Hunter. It was a simple ritual, but a powerful one. After months locked away in my dorm for a good portion of my time, it was something I needed: the power of fire, the sound of rain, the cool night air, and the stirrings of summer life returning to the world.

 

The next month or so between then and Midsummer was spent sort of in hiatus. Spirituality, as much as I didn’t want it to, was sort of placed on the back burner as I got my footing in my new job and used to being back in my parents’ place. But I did a lot of things I am grateful for: spending time in my hammock as the trees started to unfurl their leaves, planting an herb garden, taking up archery again, and doing some reading (a longer review on By Land Sky & Sea by Gede Parma might be coming soon).

 

The June Full Moon really signaled an awakening for me again, though. I was making money, starting to succeed at some of this ‘adulting’ stuff, and doing things, but I was still feeling stuck, unfulfilled, lost on that path. Following a reading from my local witchy-store owner, I did some spell work for direction, self-sovereignty, and inspiration. I wasn’t disappointed by the results.  For the couple of weeks between the Full Moon, and the arrival of Midsummer, I was sort of haunted by this moon goddess figure that appeared holding a lantern of silvery blue light, or a moon-shaped scythe, and seemed to be guiding me through the mists of my dreams and meditations, and kept seeing crows, hawks, and vultures all over the place. I asked for guidance and ‘direction’ in my life, and here was this guide trying to show me the way. It took me a good deal of time to connect what I was seeing to the goddess Morrigan, but it was all there: crows, the triplicity of the moon, the mists of the otherworld, the waters that she as washer at the ford resides by. The goddess of death and transformation had taken a more subtle and gentle approach that I was quite unaccustomed to seeing, but yet, here she was in my life once more.

And yet, Midsummer is only the beginning of this new journey that I’m starting on. I can feel that now as I type these words. This next stretch of my path is important, and life-altering. I’m not yet certain where it is leading me, but it seems to be a much more healing and empowering bit of discovery and work than this past year has been.

In the last few days, I’ve turned to working on tarot and returned to Druidry once more. I was very blessed to be given a close friend of mine’s introductory packet from the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. He had purchased the intro pack and decided it wasn’t for him some time ago. For me it felt like being handed a Hogwarts letter. Everything about it resonated on such a deep level. It was what I’d been hoping for in a spiritual study course all this time and unable to achieve. Now, I’m just waiting on the first of the monthly packages to come from the order; the wait for snail-mail from the UK is killing me, but I’m confident it will be well worth the wait when it finally arrives.

Between this, and finally getting my desk space situated at my parents’ house, I’ve felt more awake and inspired to work on art, spirituality, writing, and this blog as well. I’m hoping this upswing carries on for quite some time. It feels much better than where I was at for a good portion of the last several months.

So now, I’m working on getting more content out for the blog and the YouTube channel. Mark and I are attempting to build a coven in our hometown, and are working together on revitalizing our practices and our lifestyles together. Here’s to the next trip through the Wheel of the Year being a deeply spiritual and important one.

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

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Nearing the End: Update Apr. 14th, 2017

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In two weeks, I’ll be walking across the graduation stage and completing my journey through my college education here at GVSU. It is thrilling and completely horrifying all at the same time. There is so much to do in that short span of time. There’s so much waiting just on the other end of that final rite. At the same time, I know that it’s time to be done here and move on. Better things await.

As the weather warms, I find myself reaching for spirituality again, despite how little time I have now to devote to it. My thoughts are constantly of the forest and of cool summer nights spent stargazing and philosophizing. I can’t wait to have time to do that again.

Rest assured, there are plenty of exciting things in the works for both my YouTube channel and this blog. I’ve a draft hanging about on my thoughts on rites of passage that is aching to be finished just as soon as I’ve completed all of my final exams and essays, and there’s a chat concerning tarot that is due to be recorded and uploaded in the coming weeks as well. Summer, I’m hoping, will be full of creative content to share with you all.

Forest Blessings and a happy weekend to you all,
Rachel

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

Full Moon Readings for February 2017

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Hello, all! It’s that time again: This serves as the reminder post for the Full Moon on February 11th, 2017. All three of my available slots for January were taken within the first day of my posting for it, and I very much enjoyed being able to give those people their readings.

As always, these free readings will include a picture of your reading, and a detailed interpretation of the spread. These will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are two methods by which you may contact me for this service: via the contact page on this blog, or via the “ASK” button on my Tumblr account. Please, in the greeting for your request include the month/year you are requesting a reading for (example: ‘Hi, I’m _______. I’d like to request a slot for the full moon of January 2017!’) so that I can keep them all separate in my inboxes. Then, feel free to leave me a question you’d like answered or a brief explanation of a situation you’d like a reading on. If you message me on Tumblr, please include an e-mail address to which I can send your reading once it is finished.

Some helpful tips are included on my tarot readings page on this blog.

Also: This coming full moon will be in the fiery sign of Leo and falls three days before Valentine’s Day! Perhaps this would be a good time to ask about matters of self love, romance, and creative endeavors? 😉 I look forward to hearing from you!

~Rachel

A Humble Tribute to David Bowie

Very few moments are as burned into my memory as the night I learned, one year ago today, of David Bowie’s death. I was ill-prepared this evening when, as is my sort of ritual, I clicked over on the “Memories” feed on Facebook. The heartbreak is just as great now as it was then.
But there isn’t just sadness: there’s a remembrance. He touched the life of countless artists, musicians, actors, etc. both famous and not. There are other people, just like me, who still feel the heaviness of losing him as if it were just yesterday… And, most touchingly, my identifying with Bowie and his work had a lasting impact on those around me. I got to re-read the messages, posts, etc. of people saying “I heard the news, and immediately thought of you.” Me. I would never have dreamed that that connection would be so strong for some people- some of whom I’ve only talked to in courses I’ve taken and the like. It fills me with a great amount of love, and pride, and awe still.
The next few days, I’m sure will be solemn as more of those memories show up on social media. I’ve already spent the past few days revisiting Labyrinth and a good deal of his music- including the EP “No Plan” that was released this year on his birthday. 2016 was a year full of losses, and David Bowie was only one of the first in an absolutely devastating list of pop culture icons lost in this past year. It left me, at times, wondering how we would ever recover from that loss… But it is also important to remember that death clears the way for new growth. The endless song of creation cannot continue if nothing dies off. All that’s left to do is pick up the torches they had to set down, and carry on with their memories in our hearts and inspiration, and continue their work: of creating, of holding space for all of the other weirdos and creators out there.

-Much love to you all,
Rachel

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.

Projects for the Fall 2016

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Autumn is finally here. The weather is starting to get cooler and more rainy, little patches of red can be seen amongst the vastness of the Grand Valley Ravines, and the sense of change and that darker part of the year can be felt in the air.

The autumn is quite literally my favorite part of the year, partly because my inner goth-kid/tormented-soul-artist loves the gloomy weather, and partly because of the deep spiritual lessons that can be learned during this season. It is a season of transformation, of vibrant expression, of death, release, reaching inward to those places that are in need of healing, in need of communication, in need of acknowledgement. It’s the deep, raw, shadow-work-y part of the year, and often where I get the most done in terms of my personal practice. Whereas summer is a vibrant, busy, explorative and creative time, autumn is like the phoenix song: a blazing, meaningful, time of the year where the biggest and baddest of the magical stuff gets done for me.

This year, I’ve tried to organize the chaos that usually ensues a bit, and I’ve narrowed a focus for what it is I actually want to work on through this period. My monthly tarot readings on the Full Moons will continue through this time, as will my normal blog updates and YouTube postings. However, I also plan to have one or two special projects going along the way as well.

autumn-wylde-huntThe first of these projects is what I’m calling “The Autumn Wylde Hunt Challenge”.  Basically, from the Full Moon this month until the Full Moon in October. For that period, I’m going to be focusing heavily on The Hunt, its place in my practice, how I relate to it at this time of the year, etc. etc. My posts during that time will be (for the most part) about these topics. They’ll be personal gnosis, folklore, history, poetry written by me, etc. I’m also making it a goal during this challenge to take a walk in the woods each Friday afternoon. I’m going to try and come up with a specific aspect of the Wylde Hunt to focus on for each of those walks- and do some blog/vlog reflections on them once they’ve been completed. I think it will really help me to cement my practice involving them, and figure out things that do/don’t work.

And of course, the October New Moon is just before Samhain. So, my second project (it’s still in the works in my head right now) is to utilize the waning moon energy, between the October Full Moon (10/16/16), and New Moon (10/30/16), to really play into that descent towards Samhain. More on this will come as it gets closer to that time.

I’m also debating (from a completely non-witchy standpoint) picking up on Inktober this year, and trying to do daily ink drawings throughout the month of October should I find the time to do so. Maybe I can tie it together with my shadow work plans and my Wylde Hunt challenge. 😉

At any rate, there’s lots coming up that I’m hoping to accomplish this fall, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Blessings,
Rachel

Tarot Readings: September 2016

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Hello, all! This is the monthly reminder that I do offer three free readings each full moon. The next will be about a week and a half from today, on September 16th, 2016.

As always, these free readings will include a picture of your reading, and a detailed interpretation of the spread. These will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are two methods by which you may contact me for this service: via the contact page on this blog, or via the “ASK” button on my Tumblr account. Please, in the greeting for your request include the month/year you are requesting a reading for (example: ‘Hi, I’m _______. I’d like to request a slot for the full moon of July 2016!’) so that I can keep them all separate in my inboxes. Then, feel free to leave me a question you’d like answered or a brief explanation of a situation you’d like a reading on. If you message me on Tumblr, please include an e-mail address to which I can send your reading once it is finished.

Some helpful tips are included on my tarot readings page on this blog. I hope to hear from some of you. ^_^

~Rachel

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