Category Archives: My magic

The magic of writing, dancing and healing – International Women’s Day 8th March 2019

Standard

I am author, wise woman and goddess. I write, I dance, I teach, I heal, I inspire.

In March last year I published my first Witchlit novel, The Naked Witch, contemporary fiction, magical realism, where the magical and the mundane co-exist. Since then, I’ve published two more, The Orphan Witch and The Flowerpot Witch, gritty and believable stories with magic sprinkled through them, offering the reader a new perspective on reality. There are layers to my novels, making them enjoyable to all readers, hopefully teaching and inspiring too, dispelling the myths about modern day witches.

I discovered belly dance at the age of forty, having been told I was a fairy elephant and too fat to dance as a child. Fifteen years on, I’ve been teaching for eleven years, encouraging women to shake off their inhibitions and dance for themselves. I learned Egyptian belly dance first and taught that, before being bitten by the tribal bug, and completing my training in American Tribal Style® Belly dance. I began Tribal Unity Wales in March 2014. We take our dance into the community, not to perform but to share, offering other women the opportunity and the freedom to dance irrespective of age, size, shape or ability.

I’m reiki and aromatherapy massage trained, so mixed with my latest facilitator training in Kate Holland’s Awakened Bellydance ™, and my magical practice, I heal in my classes and workshops and through my writing.

I’m a riverbank witch, a hedge witch, living my life with the Wheel of the Year, honouring the Sabbats and loving and respecting all that lives on our amazing planet.

Embracing my crone phase, I am wise woman, not necessarily right, but reflective and contemplative where once I jumped in feet first. Looking back, I learn from my mistakes, let go of old stories and embrace new beginnings and exciting ideas.

 

The goddess is in me and in every woman. She is the tiny voice that tells you how beautiful and perfect you are. Trust in her helps us remember, because we all know, but it is just that this reality encourages us to forget who we are and where we came from. Hers is the voice that has inspired women to stand up for equality, for equal pay and equal rights, throughout history. The more we trust in her, and ourselves, the possibilities are infinite. Listen. She is here.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

How much did my Cat really need Saving?

Standard

For regular viewers of my blog, you’ll remember my post singing the praises of the author help book ‘Save the Cat’. You can view the post here https://wendysteele.com/2018/11/19/are-you-ready-to-save-the-cat/

It’s a great little book of ‘beats’ to help you create a great score to hang your story words on, but how much did I really need this book? How much did I already know? How big a part should a book like this play when creating a novel?

Having already written the first draft of The Eloquent Witch, I applied the beats to it, and though some of the points weren’t in the exact order, I was there or there abouts, so the manuscript needed a good edit and tighten up…but I would have done this before publishing any way.

I’ve started the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series, The Able Witch, twice now, using the Save the Cat beat sheet, and though the story is moving on, finally, and I can feel the magic happening in some of the scenes, I’ve not been feeling the joy. I put the book aside for a few weeks, and returned to it last week, as I had a break from teaching.

On the first day, I gave myself free rein to pick up the story and run…and I loved it! The next day I read through what I’d written, and started to get concerned I’d veered away from the sheet. I spent the day attempting to write my way back…it wasn’t a good writing day.

Day three, I spent a good few hours distracting myself with outdoor jobs (it was sunny!), digging and barrowing wood, even washing up, rather than picking up my WIP. When I did, the writing was forced.

Day four, I deleted what I’d written the day before and allowed myself to be caught up in domesticity.

Day five, Friday, I realised the problem…my characters and the story wanted to be written one way, while the beat sheet wanted me to write a different way. I was writing to fitting in what I needed to meet the requirements of the beat sheet, rather than how the characters wanted to run with the story. The struggle became a battle because I didn’t trust my own ability enough. I spent the weekend arguing with myself about it.

On Monday, I picked up my WIP, read the last chapter I’d written, made a few changes and wrote on with my hand written notes beside me. I’m not giving up on Save the Cat, but sticking to a pre-planned beat sheet of the whole book isn’t suiting me at all.

Sadly, my schedule this week isn’t going to leave much room for writing as I’m launching a new evening dance class in Aberystwyth on Thursday, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday lessons, and it’s Women’s International Day on Friday, but once I’ve established a new routine, I’ll let you know how the writing is going.

There’s no doubt Save the Cat has taught me a lot, but I’m beginning to see that my story writing/story telling, is as important as the structure.

 

 

Book Review – The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry

Standard

Having ‘met’ Laura Perry on the Witch Lit group on Facebook, and seen that she had updated this book, I treated myself to a copy, and I’m so glad I did! It’s been on my bedside table for me to dip into for a few months and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

Laura Perry, N.D. is a Pagan author and artist, herbalist and Reiki master who considers natural healthcare to be part of her Earth-oriented spiritual life, focussing on healthy living in body, mind and spirit. Here’s my review of The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry…

This is a gentle, beautiful and caring book, well put together and offering the reader a host of ideas and options for ultimate wellbeing. The author’s knowledge and experience is evident throughout the book, but more than that, her intuition and spirituality shine through, giving the reader the experience of being healed and nurtured.

The Wiccan Wellness book is an interesting read in its own right, the author paying heed to all aspects of our lives that have a bearing on our wellbeing. However, I can see it being a wonderful reference book in the future too. The reader is able to select a specific section or chapter, depending on their needs at that moment, finding help from the author, or links to other books or societies who can offer more help.

The concept that mind, body and spirit working in harmony leads to well-being, is the basis of this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring all the possibilities to seek further balance in my own life.

It’s a versatile and informative book, while still being a magical read. A perfect ‘pick me up’ when you need a personal, spiritual boost.

You can purchase this book on Amazon UK here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

And for friends across the pond here https://www.amazon.com/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

If you are interested in magical writing or reading, join the Witch Lit Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

or subscribe to our new channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtAJO5uh6c9TSai1lhwF7g

We’re hoping to interview Laura Perry on our podcast very soon!

 

The Witch Lit Podcast Episode 2

Standard

Tune into our second episode today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZdKsXSo074

What’s been going on behind the Broom Cupboard?

What are you reading?

Listen in to Witchanory!

The benefits of an anthology

Divining with the Tarot

Subscribe for more episodes. We’ll be discussing topics including book covers and the joys of formatting, as well as interviewing magical writers, novelists, non fiction writers, poets and musicians.

 

 

 

DJ Conway – A book to change your life

Standard

On hearing of the sad passing of author DJ Conway, I wanted to share how one of her books changed my life….

It wasn’t the book I really wanted. I had my heart set on two books, each a comprehensive tome about gods and goddesses of every pantheon from around the world. Until I saw the price.

And then I spotted it, its glossy black spine shining at me. It was a large volume. It was second hand, but still in perfect condition. I handled it with care, pulling back the cover to reveal the price pencilled in the top right hand corner. My heart beat hard, my cheeks glowing with excitement. I turned pages, read paragraphs and thanked the goddess. I paid cash at the counter. Magick of the Gods and Goddesses was in my hands! I almost skipped out the door, not suspecting my life would never be quite the same again.

Magick of the Gods and Goddesses was the first book where I found details of the Kabbalah, and more appropriately for my needs, the witches Qabalah, inspiring me to seek further and look for other work. I began to read. I started to research. I discovered the writing of Dion Fortune. I travelled the magical paths of the Qabalah. I wrote Destiny of Angels, my first novel, starting my journey as an author, and this book was with me from the beginning.

From this book I learned of Angels and Archangels, Elementals, Elements and Planets, as well as the beliefs and history of the world of the occult, from Egypt to Africa, Greece to India and more. There’s Ritual and Magick, Shamanism, Witchcraft and Paganism, and at the back, a cross reference section I’ve found incredibly useful. Because there’s so much, there may not be all the detail, but there are links to other reading throughout the book.

Her legacy will live on in more than twenty non fiction works, and every time I open my copy of Magick of the Gods and Goddesses, I shall think of her smiling down on me, happy that her love of the occult fields she studied for more than thirty five years, is still much appreciated by her readers.

Here are the links to her Amazon author pages https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B004582BDC?_encoding=UTF8&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true&ref

and for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/D.J.-Conway/e/B004582BDC/ref

 

 

1 year without nicotine – how was it for you, darling?

Standard

If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I haven’t found stopping smoking easy. One of the reasons was I didn’t feel any better or healthier, in fact, for a number of months, I felt dreadful. I’d made so many changes already. Why didn’t I feel any better?

More than twenty years ago, the terrible, scary pain in my side was diagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and I spent the next four years coming to terms with a massive change in diet and trying to find a work/exercise/eating balance that worked for me.

For a couple of years I ate very little because the less I ate, the less pain I was in, but gradually, I built up my eating (I was already vegetarian) and rebuilt my body with bellydance.

I believed I was strong, slim and fit due to my diet and dancing, but what I didn’t realise was that the nicotine was playing a part in this equation. Taking it out of my life, my hormones were like socks in a tumble dryer; all over the place. My IBS returned with a vengeance for a couple of months, as did violent menopausal symptoms, and on top of all this, I’d sleep for two hours and then lie awake for the rest of the night. Mood swings were violent. I experienced chronic anxiety on top of depression…

But this didn’t last! Yes, I felt terrible, but now I’m finally feeling some benefit for giving up my addiction. I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me….

Firstly, make sure you’re giving up for the right reasons. The Alan Carr book is really good, challenging you, making you face what you really know but don’t want to believe. Stop smoking nicotine because it is best for YOU. YOU are worth it! YOU deserve to live a healthy life.

Secondly, they say (whoever they are!) you don’t need to replace smoking with another habit, and maybe that works for some people, but I needed something else. The day I chose to begin my day walking, was the day I began to feel better. I chose walking instead of choosing that first cigarette, and that really helped me in a number of ways:

I changed my routine

I set myself a new challenge

I quickly found I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!

Walking is the BEST exercise

Thirdly, make sure you’re supported by friends and family. I’m so glad my partner and I stopped together, and support and encouragement from my tribe kept me going at the hardest times.

My final piece of advice I can tell you, but you might not believe me….you don’t have to feel as rubbish as you do. Your joints don’t have to ache. You can feel SO MUCH BETTER than you do now.

Why did I find life so difficult without nicotine? One reason was because I put on two stone which appeared on my body like a weighty, solid belt, and undermined all my confidence. All my old hang ups about my weight and appearance returned. I felt old, heavy and weighed down and I didn’t look or feel like I was the same person. Unable to show my ladies dance moves was devastating.  

The doctor was kind. I’m back on a very low dose HRT and I sleep better now, but as far as the fat orbiting my stomach is concerned, I’m told it is my lot, middle age spread I’ll have to put up with….

NO WAY!

I’m making even more changes for 2019! If I’m going to be a different person, I’m going to be the person I want to be. I am now committed to a wholefoods, plant based diet and to exercising for a fitter, healthier me. There will be changes on my blog too…

I’ll be encouraging you to watch videos, read books and check out the data about plant based eating as the best diet for you, your family and the planet.

I’ll be trying and testing new plant based recipes and sharing them with you.

Dance will always be my favourite exercise, but I’m going to be trying out other exercise which I’ll share with you.

No longer will I ‘fit in’ those aspects of my life that make me happy….I’m going to begin with them and work my life around them.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exercise packed, fun filled, exciting 2019! Come and join me xx

 

NB: even if life throws a curved ball, don’t give up. Check out my latest video from Phoenix and the Dragon and see what I mean…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7O480_fws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now!

Standard

For the first time, since I was eighteen, my Christmas dinner was cooked for me this festive season. We were away at our eldest son’s house, joined by our other children and partners. I shall remember it as one of my favourite Christmas times ever.

We walked and talked, catching up on life and sharing our thoughts and ideas for the future. After four glorious days, I made some decisions….

Now! Is the time to spend days and weekends with family and friends, the ones that make my heart sing.

Now! Is the time to embrace the fitness challenge with both hands, and see what I can achieve in 2019.

Now! Is the time to commit to plant based eating and to spreading the word by sharing recipes and ideas.

Now! Is the time to get the groundwork in place for our potting shed/greenhouse and new raised beds, so we can grow lots of veg.

Now! Is the time to finish my Lizzie Martin Witchlit series, inspiring women to embrace magic in their lives.

Now! Is the time to work magic every day, be it a lighted candle of thanks to the goddess or a chosen tarot guide to seek guidance or assurance.

Now! Is the time to push all our plans on our house and land forward, creating the warm, cosy home we seek.

 

Life’s too short not to do it now! ‘It’ doesn’t have to be big, but whatever ‘it’ is, don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Bright blessings, peace, health and happiness for the coming year xx

 

10 months on – The daily fight

Standard

Ten months on from stopping smoking, I don’t feel any fitter or healthier. My body has been through hell, ridding the nicotine and I never want to have to go through it again. Keeping cheerful has been difficult. We get to the coast as much as we can. This is me with my feet in the North Sea two weeks ago.

 

At the beginning, the constant gnawing and craving preoccupied me, but as my hormones began to party without the nicotine hanging on for a ride, my weight gain has become my focus.

That’s me in the purple and black in October 2017, and here’s me in March 2018

If one more slim, yogatastic, enlightened 30 something tells me to embrace this new part of being a woman and be excited about my crone phase, I’ll punch them in the face…not really, but you can hear my frustration. I didn’t ask for this. I thought stopping smoking would make me feel better…I’ve never felt so depressed and anxious.

Smoking held back some, but not all my menopausal symptoms. Everything has been heightened since stopping putting nicotine into my body, so my IBS has been chronic too. I feel like my body is returning to factory reset, shaking everything up along the way, but rather than settling, everything feels off kilter.

I had to stop running, my knees couldn’t cope, partly because I’m running on the road and there isn’t a single flat section anywhere near me, and probably because I already have knee damage and I’m heavier than I should be.

I am not alone. Thousands of women are waking up one morning to find their once taut bodies have softened. I haven’t been this fleshy since I was pregnant and the irony of that is like a stab to the heart…you’re no longer capable of conceiving a child, but your body looks like you’re carrying one. Wicked.

It isn’t all bad news… I’ve stuck to my walking every morning as soon as I get up, and my new morning best is 5.2k steps. I always do at least 2k, and often do 4k. Having said that, I do walk some lunchtimes too, but now the evenings are dark, I’m not walking in the evening. I’m guessing I put on two stone at the beginning of the year with eating a bit more and the change in hormones and have now lost one of those, but I still can’t get my clothes on. In fact, last week I bought bigger jeans. Gutting.

I am a fighter. Every morning when I walk, Dr Dain’s affirmation rings in my ears ‘All of life comes to me with ease and joy and glory’. Life is amazing. I have a wonderful partner. My friends and family are dear to me. I live in an amazing house in a fabulous part of the world, with a roof over my head. I’ve started doing a little yoga after my walk, just a few balances and stretches…the plan is to build up to more, making sure my thighs don’t get too bulky with all the extra walking. Loki likes to be carried around on my walks…He is a fidget though

There is other good news. I’ve gone back on my original HRT. I now sleep through most nights. I sweat less during those nights. The day time sweats are occasional.

But every day is a battle, making my steps count and attempting to balance my body. As you may know, my diet is already plant based and I cook most meals from scratch, so how I lose this lump orbiting my middle, I’m not sure. Food and I have battled for most of my life and I’m gutted I’m being forced to re-evaluate again, when I thought I was doing the right thing becoming plant based.

Women need to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t just hormones! Have you any idea how life changing their fluctuation can be?’

I’m re-inventing myself. I may have had to buy bigger jeans but I also bought the cutest pinafore dress, and I’ve booked in for a new tattoo. Support the women around you while they deal with this life changing transformation. No more jokes about menopausal women being grumpy!

 

Day out for Diwali

Standard

On Sunday we visited St Fagans National Museum of History, where the event for the day was Diwali Mela. Hundreds of families from Cardiff came together to share their special day, the dances they had practised and the food they had cooked.

We were greeted in the foyer of the museum by music, colour, dance and laughter. Music and dance from all over India was showcased from Indian Classical dance to Bollywood, dances from the Punjab and from Indonesia. Foot tapping tunes were followed by exquisite, complicated slow dances where the dancers used every part of their bodies, including their eyes, to tell the story of their dance. Some styles I recognised, others were new, but no less delightful to watch.

After an hour of so, we set off around the museum. Most of the buildings at St Fagans have been dismantled from their original location, and rebuilt in this beautiful area, surrounded by woodland. It’s billed as ‘A walk around Wales – from Celtic times to the present day’, and that’s exactly what the museum is about, preserving the history of the past for all of us today. They almost took our house to be part of the museum, so we were fascinated to discover all we could about the houses they had taken.

From simple miners’ cottages to highly decorated Tudor halls, we walked in and out of the exhibits in glorious sunshine. The houses of stone and clom, similar to ours, were of special interest, and the woven thatch was stunning, completely opposite to our straight, raggedy thatch.

Furnishing the houses brings them to life and I especially loved the row of cottages, Rhyd-y-car Iron Terrace from Merthyr Tydfil, set up to show the typical life of those living in the small community from 1805 to 1985.

The iron age roundhouse is special too. A long walk through glorious golden woodland leads you to the roundhouse. I danced in one in Essex, and felt the urge again here!

There’s a castle with the most stunning grounds and gardens, all of which we didn’t get around. There’s access to the kitchen, always fascinating and luxurious panelled drawing rooms and study.

Oakdale Workmen’s Institute is another fascinating building. Opened in its original location near Caerphilly in 1917, this library and institute served as a focus for social and cultural life within this mining community in south east Wales, financed by a substantial loan from the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, which was repaid in 1945. This was a place to learn to read and write, as well as come together, and the building was reopened in St Fagans in 1995.

Back in the foyer of the museum, we ate biryani and onion bhajis, while enjoying more music and dance.

I enjoyed my day of history and culture, and though I can’t promise indian dancers for your visit, you can be assured of a warm welcome at St Fagans.

There are a number of cafes and restaurants, and the toilet facilities were adequate. You can take dogs into the museum.

You pay £5 to park your car, but entrance to the museum is free, though a donation is requested. For more about what’s on at St Fagans, visit their website. https://museum.wales/stfagans/

 

 

Meet Mabh Savage – pagan, author and herbalist

Standard

For my second interview from the WitchLit group on Facebook, I was contacted by Mabh Savage. Her two beautiful books are published by Moon Books, and she’s been a contributor to many of their anthologies. Join me in welcoming her to my blog…

Welcome Mabh! Tell us about your writing…

1 How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as

you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I change tack constantly! I have a very busy mind and as new ideas pop up, I find I have to adjust what I have done already to allow the new bits to fit in. It’s like doing a complex dot-to-dot puzzle where the dots you’ve already connected keep shifting. I’m never 100% sure what the finished picture, or book, is going to look like. So, I do plan but I nearly always end up with something wildly different to what I imagined in the first place.

2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

With up to three children and three cats around the house at any one time, my ritual is pretty much grab what scraps of free time I have and splurge something out onto a page! An odd thing I’ve started doing recently is putting the cooking channel on the TV in the background. I have no idea why this helps me concentrate. Maybe it’s the contrast of something else that’s creative but entirely different to writing. Other than this, in the day I write by tea; in the night I write by wine and this is when most of the poetry happens.

Until we moved to Wales, I too used to write with the ‘aid’ of children and cats….now it’s just cats!

3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

I’m a huge sci-fi geek. I love Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Blake’s 7 and more recently, Stranger Things and the entire Marvel Defenders collection. I adore a good box-set binge!

I’m the same with reading too. Once I get into a fictional series, I get completely absorbed and need to get the next book, at any cost. I recently re-read all the Pratchett books again, and am looking forward to starting on The Dresden Files for another session of self-imposed hibernation.

I suffer from chronic and occasionally severe anxiety and depression so I have a real interest in mental health and ways to cope and even thrive with mental health conditions. I write about this a bit on my blog, and lots of my poetry is about struggles with mental health.

I’m an amateur herbalist and I have a column at PaganPages.org every month called Notes from the Apothecary in which I examine the magical and medical qualities of different plants.

I play music and sing, and have lots of different influences from traditional folk to prog rock! I have a few tracks on Sound Cloud and hope to add to those soon.

Lovely to know your creativity goes beyond writing to music too, fabulous. And you can’t beat a good Sir Terry binge:-)

4 If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you

want with you?

A replicator! Ha ha, I guess 3D printing isn’t quite there yet so… My guitar, my Irish whistle, a pad, a pen and a special blanket which helps me sleep.

5 On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

Ooh that’s a hard one. If it’s not cheating, I’d take the Elfin Diary, to keep track of days and also because it’s full of fascinating info. I’ve had one nearly every year for over 20 years. If I was in the middle of a series, I’d have to take the next book(s) in that series then just sit rocking with fiction withdrawal when they ran out. The SAS survival handbook would also be useful on a desert island! Maybe sack all that off and I’ll take the Earthsea books by Ursula Le Guin. I don’t think I could live without them.

6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?

I have crippling social anxiety so the thought of having dinner with someone I don’t know it’s absolutely terrifying. I wouldn’t even go on a blind-date. I would very much have loved to have met Stephen Hawking though. He seemed like such a warm, funny person as well as incredibly intelligent and insightful about the universe.

7 Your current writing projects?

I’m currently working on a book about Lugh; his mythology and also how he is revered in modern Paganism. In the realms of fiction, I’ve been working on a science-fiction/magical cross-over for some time. There are elements of artificial intelligence and also inexplicable universal energies. The protagonist is a scientist who is trying to make sense of the weird events unfolding around her. My eight-year-old boy wants me to write a children’s book, so I’m thinking of re-working some Celtic myths and legends for younger readers.

How exciting that you’ve such varied projects in mind. Good luck!

8 Other published work and links….

My first book was A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors which is an exploration of the relevance of Celtic culture in modern society. It’s told through the voices of many different people from all walks of life.

My latest book is Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft and this looks more specifically at following a magical path inspired by Celtic spirituality and with the influence of Celtic deities.

I’ve also contributed to the following anthologies:

Essays on Contemporary Paganism

Paganism 101

Pagan Planet

Naming the Goddess

iPagan

Every Day Magic

The Seven Ages of the Goddess

The Celtic Goddess

My main website and blog is at http://www.mabhsavage.com and I write for paganpages.org every month too. People can follow me on twitter @mabherick and I’m on Pinterest, Facebook and tumblr too.

Thanks so much, Mabh for your honest answers, allowing us into your writing life and thinking processes.

Check out Mabh’s books, and pop back for more interviews, writerly discussions, dance, healing and plant based recipes. Why not sign up for the newsletter and receive a FREE short story as a welcome. Bright blessings xx