Category Archives: my writing

The Book Fair Blues

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I was at the Carmarthen Book fair on Saturday, sharing a table with my good friend, Nicola Beechsquirrel.

The book fair was founded by Sarada and John Thompson (You can find out more about them here https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/06/john-thompson-author-and-gentleman/

and here https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/08/sarada-thompson-giver-of-light/

It’s always a friendly book fair; the authors are always helpful and happy to share ideas, and the public are there because they love books. A great range of genres were represented and special guest this year was Dr. Paul Wright, Head of Cultural Studies Lampeter & Course Director for the BA in English and the International Foundation programme, manning the table for the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, featuring course studies of Literature & Creative Writing.

The morning was quiet, a gentle trickle of shoppers seeking out a little diversion and tea and cake from the fabulous Caffi Iechyd Da. I had a great morning, chatting about magical writing and listening to the general public’s take on magic.

And then the rain came down. We had a few soggy customers, but not many, which was a shame with all the gorgeous goodies on show. Nicola had a good day, chatting about her family history and sending book buyers home happy.

The blues began in the afternoon, drip dripping into my consciousness, started by a comment made to the delightful children’s author Angela Fish. A lady stood at her stall, so Angela began telling her about her books. “You needn’t bother,” said the lady, “I don’t read books and nor do my grandchildren.”

On Sunday I spent the morning thinking about how we can attract more adults and children to books fairs. In this age of celebrity, who wouldn’t want to meet the author behind the words we love to read? Social media gives us the opportunity to form a link that wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago, but is that why meeting authors ‘in real life’ is no longer so exciting? Has the creation of the digital format for books taken away the ‘real person’ behind the words?

I handed out more business cards on Saturday than I’ve done at any other book fairs, to readers who read on kindle, so some of them were there, but in the same way as I believe there will always be a place for real, tactile, gorgeous paper books, we mustn’t lose the opportunity to interact in person. You can’t beat meeting people in the flesh, listening to their stories and sharing their lives, if only for a few minutes.

I beat the blues with a walk on my riverbank in the rain. I watched the drops bounce off the leaves from my seat in our shelter, ripples forming and spreading on the water as the river hurried by. The rain refreshed me, the Welsh landscape soothed me and I hurried home, inspired to pick up my fountain pen and allow the magic to flow once more.

 

 

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Sarada Thompson – giver of light

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The Carmarthen Book Fair is this Saturday, 11th August, created and organised by the fabulous, John and Sarada Thompson.

I invited them both to share a little more about themselves on my blog. John was earlier in the week https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/06/john-thompson-author-and-gentleman/ and today is Sarada’s turn. I’ve never met anyone who radiates warmth and love the way she does. Thank you so much Sarada for sharing with us.

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 write when the muse calls. An idea which could develop into a plan, which gets derailed by the story which usually has a life of its own. Having started as a reporter for newspapers, always thought myself as a writer of non-fiction, until I found myself writing fiction and enjoying it.

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

 No rituals, but I do like my cups of chai-tea. And a hot-water bottle for my feet as I do literally get cold feet.

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

  1. My family & friends
  2. I love my Hindu cultural heritage
  3. I love drawing and painting
  4. Classical music – both Indian & Western
  5. Listening to different stories.

 

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

want with you?

  1. Paper & pens to draw & paint, to doodle
  2. My favourite CDs
  3. A good supply of chai-tea
  4. My beads
  5. A kit to signal, ‘I’m Ok.’

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

 

  1. Mahabharata by Kamala Subramanium – I will have time to digest the finer points thoroughly.
  2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse – always my favourite
  3. Judas, Man of Myths by John Thompson – I’ll have time to reflect and be inspired on this view more than the institutionalized one.
  4. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The issues addressed here – religion, hypocrisy, coming-of-age, domestic violence – would be derivative and clichéd in the hands of a lesser writer. Powerful.
  5. Sort Stories by my grandchildren Shivani12 & Raman Cook 9 Although so young, their insights in the open childlike way enthrals & inspires pride & hope.

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

Amma – The Hugging Saint

7 Your current writing projects?

  1. A similar story yet different – quite bizarre for it is founded on legend: ‘The Celestial Flower’
    Theme: ‘Every Saint; a sinner.’
  2. Quite a few more of the picture stories – I hope my hand is steady to continue illustrating.
  3. Some Short Stories over the years , which are not typical of what people would expect of me.8 Other published work and links….Neem Tree – Publication Date – 11th August 2018 – to be launched at Carmarthen Book FairPicture Books : Ten Tales of Ganesha;
    Meenakshi Devi: The Green Goddess;
    Savitri; Durga: The Demon Slayer. Here we have ten stories of the famous elephant-headed Lord Ganesha – from how Lord Ganesha got his elephant head to the story of Lord Ganesh and the frogs! The stories are esentially an allegory of the soul’s journey toward enlightenment, but some stories are utterly down-to-earth, playful stories about simple folk with a God.   Savitri is about to lose the love of her life. Is there any way she can prevent this from happening? What will Savitri do? Will she be prepared to go to the end of the world and beyond – to the Land of the Dead and perhaps intercede with Lord Yama, the Soul-Collector, himself?This is the story of the legendary Meenakshi, the Warrior Princess of Madurai. Born in ancient times in a land ruled by men, Meenakshi refuses to be ruled by them. Who is this courageous soul and what will become of her?

Check out the website http://thompson-authors.com/

Thank you so much Sarada and John for joining me this week and sharing with your readers. Don’t forget, you can meet them and a host of other fabulous authors at the Carmarthen Book Fair this Saturday. We’re waiting to talk books with you all!

 

 

John Thompson – Author and gentleman

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This Saturday 11th August is the Carmarthen Book Fair, created and organised by two of my favourite people, John and Sarada Thompson.

I met them at the Llandeilo Book Fair a few years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. I invited them to come and share a little more about themselves.

Today is John’s turn to let us into his creative mind and tell us more about what makes him tick, and I have to say, I learned a few things and love so many of these answers.  Thank you so much, John for sharing with us..

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 have a general plan of how the story should go, but often find that as characters develop, the plot has to move in a direction I had not envisaged  –  including bringing in more characters.  I never stick rigidly to a plot-line  –  I’m a great believer in letting things take their course.

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

 No, no rituals.

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

1) I’m a sports fanatic (excepting snooker and golf!)  –  have supported Arsenal for over 60 years

2) I’m very sentimental –  I still cherish the moment I held my first grandchild over 16 years ago

3) I love India and can’t wait to go back  –  but you probably knew that

4) I’m very left-wing  –  you would probably have guessed that too

5) I worry that I won’t live long enough to write all the stories that buzz around in my mind

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

want with you?

1) a solar-powered hi-fi set

2) a complete set of classical CDs (excluding very modern stuff)

3) a set of wine-making equipment

4) lots of paper and pens

5) a bundle of puzzle books – sudoku, word wheel, crossword etc.

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

 1) War and Peace  –  having taken years to read it when I was much younger, I feel I’d have the time to get through it again

2) Wolf Hall  –  I just loved Mantel’s take on Thomas Cromwell

3) Pride and Prejudice  –  probably my favourite book of all time, filled with wonderfully drawn characters;

4) The Lord of the Rings  –  I’ve read it a dozen times over the years, so a few more wouldn’t hurt

5) Bleak House  – or any other Dickens novel  –  the supreme story-teller.

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

No-one.

 7 Your current writing projects?

 Currently planning the final volume of the Brindavan series, and in the middle of writing a number of children’s books: 1) a boy who wants to be a good footballer is coached by the ghost of Stanley Matthews; 2) a boy from the 15th century who was transported into a magical world through an enchanted mirror finds himself in the 21st century; 3) the Ringo stories  –  about a magician turned into a dog but retaining his magical powers.

8 Other published work and links…

The first two volumes of the Brindavan Chronicle –  Genesis and Nemesis  –  were published in 2015 and 2017; Judas, the Man Behind the Myth is due to be published on 11th August.  I have also a number of short-story booklets: 1) Adventures in Time – stories for children; 2) Beyond Boundaries  –  unearthly tales; 3) The Female of the Species  –  stories of women who seek revenge for ill-treatment; 4) Strange Encounters  –  ghost stories.

 

You can find links to these books on John’s author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Thompson/e/B012NZ3V8W/ref

 

 

 

Be in a book Take 2

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So….I came up with this really cool idea….how much fun would it be for a reader to be in the book they were reading? Sarah at Y Stiwdio Brint tidied up my art work and we were off…Gorgeous poster…fabulous application form…but for some reason, readers are being shy.

In my corridor position in the Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden the other week, I set up a huge poster beside my stall, pinned to a mic stand, right in ones eyeline. I approached a few browsers, only to find they were reading the notices on the wall behind the stall! I handed out small leaflets and copies of the application form for readers to complete at home, but as yet, I’ve received no entries from that event.

There’s two weeks to go before the deadline and I’d love to hear from you. There’s a FREE story to be downloaded just for taking part, so pick up your pen and join in my Summer Special Giveaway today and Be in a Book! https://www.facebook.com/events/2092900517659645/

 

 

 

Welcome to Witch Lit!

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This is a call out to magical readers and writers, poets, songwriters and creatives alike. Be part of a magical group on Facebook and Twitter, that wants to ‘take over the world incrementally’, a wonderful phrase from Laura Perry, one of the group of four of us who head up this revolution.

It all started with Sheena Cundy who brought in myself, Ruth Aitken and Laura to form a working group, working in unison to sail us in one direction; to fight for our creative talent to be heard in the world at large. Talking together, we began to understand what that meant; we weren’t just talking about stories anymore.

These are Sheena’s welcoming words that head our group page:

As the Witches among us will know, this (magic) happens when we weave the web. And here, the threads are constantly flowing from the earthly to the unearthly, reading to writing – the craft of words and magic binding together where the boundaries blur.
Witch Lit is something we are passionate about, not just because it reflects what we do but more importantly because it expresses who we are as magical creatives:
The Wise and Wild among us, the Warriors and the Healers. The Visionaries. Storytellers, poets and songwriters, bards.
The Walkers between the Worlds.

If you have work out in the world, we want to know about it.
If you want to put work out into the world we can help you do it. And in the doing we can all grow and build together, individually and collectively.
We don’t have all the answers, but between us we try and work them out with large dollups of humour and respect for each other, our paths and crafts.

So enjoy the vibe and we hope you get something out of being here. Make the most of it and ask questions…it’s how we all learn!!!
Remember to add your links to the file Laura has set up, it’s always useful to know where to find out more about each other.
And if you’re particularly nosey like me, this will feed any curiosity and hopefully inspire you to move out of that comfort zone.
Because that’s where the magic happens.
Dark Moon blessings! )O(

This takes you straight to the Witch Lit FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

Our twitter handle for the group is https://twitter.com/WitchLit1

Here are links to the websites of the admins on the group, giving you an idea of where each of our creative magic comes from…

Laura Perry http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/blog

Sheena Cundy https://sheenacundy.com/blog/

Wendy Steele https://wendysteele.com/

Ruth’s is under construction!

Come and share your magical creative talents, ideas and thoughts, on our group, interacting with other creatives with love and respect.

 

 

Witch Lit is Magical Writing!

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I had a lovely day at the National Botanic Garden of Wales on Saturday at their storytelling event, Plant & Plots, talking to the public about the inspirational, magical landscape of Wales, writing and Witch Lit.

Some people are confused when they see the word ‘witch’. In their minds, witch = demons/devils/black magic/sorcery/Satan/baby killers, not necessarily in that order. While many are interested in the idea of living in harmony with nature, giving back and celebrating the beauty and bounty of the planet and taking time to be present and appreciate all that life has to offer, some cannot see beyond the above list. Saturday was no exception; I stood and took the spitting abuse and personal remarks, as well as the advice that I should ‘look to my Bible’.

Brought up in a Christian household, I went to Sunday School and church and became a Sunday School teacher. I’ve always loved the stories of Jesus, full of kindness, compassion and common sense. As a pagan and a witch, I have no problem appreciating Jesus as a prophet before his time, in the same way Buddha was. I’ve read many books by the Dalai Lama and the inspirational Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi, has my vote as one of the most important and influential women of this time.

As a witch, I follow no organised religion, only a path of love, kindness and compassion towards the planet and all those who live on her.

That’s what I want to inspire with my books. The Lizzie Martin series is funny, the stories are compelling and Lizzie uses magic in her every day life to help her with the stresses many of us face. She is a strong woman. She likes men, but doesn’t need a man to define her.

Witch Lit is magical writing of every kind; prose, poetry and song. Join the #witchlitrevolution and bring a little magic into every day of your life.

 

Face to face at the Book Fair

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On Saturday 21st July, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales held a storytelling event and book fair called Plant & Plots. I was invited to bring my books along to set up a stand in the Great Glasshouse.

All began well at 8.30am. The plants are amazing and the thought of spending all day with them, and meeting the plant loving public, filled me with excitement.

More authors arrived. I was opposite the fabulous children’s author, Angela Fish and we chatted about the prospects for the day and our books. Her stories are wonderful with glorious illustrations. I was sure every parent and child who walked passed would love one of her books.

I’d recently linked up online with Cheryl Beer, a poet and organiser of a new book fair for September 29th this year in Llandysul, so it was lovely to meet her ‘in real life’ and have a chat. Thorne Moore was there with her clever book stand to keep the drips off her books, and her books of course, psychological mysteries or ‘domestic noir’, exploring the reasons for crimes and their consequences. It was lovely to see Judith Barrow after she interviewed me for Showboat TV, and her wonderful family sagas. Thorne and Judith are the brains and beauty (and damned hard work!) behind the Narberth Book Fair, this year on 22nd September. Check out the fabulous website they have created. http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/

Sarada and John Thompson, organisers of the Carmarthen Book Fair on 11th August, invited me to the event, so it was lovely to catch up with them and their work.

And then the sun came out…. and nost of the public chose not to come in. I didn’t blame them. I love the sun, am very happy in it, but the heat and humidity were unbearable. Angela and I took turns to get fresh air, but it was a struggle returning. After a few hours, we nabbed someone to put an industrial fab on which helped a bit, but by 3pm, I was beginning to feel unwell. A meeting of authors was called. Graham Watkins spoke to those in charge of the event and we were offered a table in the Gallery for the following day, but I chose to leave space for others on this occasion; my broken toe is still mending!

I shall definitely return to the Botanic Gardens and I did meet some lovely people. I talked at length to a wonderful gentleman about the magical landscape of Wiltshire and I danced with a little fairy who called me the purple lady. In this digital age, you just can’t beat chatting about books and inspiration face to face.

Don’t forget my Summer Special Giveaway Be in a Book! In three easy steps, you can be yourself in my next novel!

 

Summer Special Giveaway! Be in a Book!

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I’m running a new event from today until Monday 13th August. It’s FREE to take part and the prizes are awesome!

Join in the fun on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/2092900517659645/

Summer Special Giveaway is open worldwide.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 15th August.

Join the Witchlit revolution and Be in a Book!

Bright Blessings xx

Six months without a fag

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In ten days time, 21st July 2018, it will be six months since I last smoked nicotine.

How’s it been?

In some respects, it is easier. The gnawing, gut churning pangs have lessened which is great, as has the insomnia. Looking back, I might have three good days and nights in a row…but the craving is still there.

I’m like a crazy stalker if a smoker comes towards me in the high street, inhaling deeply as they get close and turning with them to make the most of their smoke.

I’ve seen smokers sitting on a bench and been tempted to ask them to blow smoke my way.

I’ve stuck to walking two thousand steps when I wake in the morning, but I come in exhausted and want a cigarette.

People don’t have to be very mean and I want to cry. If they shout at me, I want a cigarette really badly.

And the benefits?

My physical body is settling down. I’ve lost the weight I put on and the HRT is doing the job. I’m very aware that my body is not the same, however, so the body I’m building will be a different one.

I’m embracing this as a challenge (I didn’t to start with! I cried and shouted and stamped about the unfairness of it all!) because I have to. I refuse to accept that I have to ‘settle’ and that because I’m in my crone stage that I have to put up with aches and pains and tiredness.

My bottom is changing shape, my arms are toning up and though I still get a little out of breath walking up steep hills, I recover much quicker.

Other benefits?

I haven’t noticed any extra money in the coffers, but I suppose there must be. I’m proud of myself, sticking to the promise I made to myself, but there are still days when it isn’t much fun!

Will I be celebrating six months smoke free?

On the 21st July, and the 22nd, I’ve been invited to the Great Glasshouse at The National Botanic Gardens of Wales for a weekend of story telling, ‘Plant Pots’. I shall be there with all my books, including The Flowerpot Witch, so why not arrange a day out of flowers and stories? https://botanicgarden.wales/visit/whats-on/storytelling-weekend/

For more musings, magic, dance and words, sign up for Wendy Woo’s Round Robin here http://wendysteele.us15.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=bd3cc38cba01c2dea4a5f386f&id=6210056252

Bright blessings xx

 

 

 

Witches don’t share their magic

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I’ve not read it or been told, I just know; witches don’t share the details of their magical workings. You’ll read books of spells, books of correspondences, practices and rituals you can create for yourself, and manuals and guides for you to create your own magic, but the magic of an evening beneath the moon is for the witch alone. Her personal feelings, gains and knowledge gleaned are for her benefit, for her to mull over and learn from, as it should be. Except for Lizzie Martin.

In the Wendy Woo Witch Lit Series, Lizzie Martin shares it all, just like the characters in Dion Fortune’s fiction. It was through Dion Fortune’s books, especially Moon Magic and The Sea Priestess, that I felt compelled to write stories of my own about real people and the magic they create in their lives.

Lizzie Martin includes you in her world, and that includes her magic. In The Naked Witch, Lizzie extends to you the privilege of her Sanctuary…

‘At the bottom of the garden, she squeezed past the oak and rowan trees and opened an old wooden door. Smells of pine, incense and wet wool greeted her. Rowan called it her ‘Mum Cave’. Lizzie called it Sanctuary. Neither carefully synchronised calendars nor lists adorned the walls. No colour co-ordinated work outfits or labelled files filled the cupboards. Swathed in rich tapestries and layers of ancient rugs, Lizzie’s escape was the home she longed for. An ancient chaise longue, draped in rugs and throws spread along one wall. The corner opposite held an exquisite, dust free altar. In the centre sat a curvaceous wooden figure of the goddess.’

Near the beginning of The Orphan Witch, Lizzie shares with you her simple ritual, and her feelings on this Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween…

Inside her Sanctuary, safe in her circle, Lizzie made a bed in her lap with her cloak for the chicken. The bird trotted around, mimicking a cat following its tail. Cooing contentedly, she nestled down. Two white candles burned on the altar, casting an eerie flickering light, quickly guzzled by the fog of frankincense. The mist swirled, set in motion by splutters from the candles.

Wrapped in sheepskin, Lizzie sat on the hillside, watching the moon bathing the land in shadow. Sheep huddled among the giant boulders. Men and women stood around the standing stone on the hilltop behind her. Darkness was coming. It was time to return to the valley.

She climbed to the peak, the crackling of the fire welcoming her before its blessed warmth. Tonight they would keep the dark away, for one night at least.

The comforting aroma of ancient books stirred Lizzie and she looked down to the tome open before her. The ticking of her heart sped up. The pages turned in a blur, glimpses of the past bleeding through. Marsha waved from a luxury yacht as did her Granddad, recognisable by the watch chain he always wore in photos. Faces flickered, the pages speeding up, sucking Lizzie into the past with them until she sat wrapped in skins again, looking up into a beautiful, dark brown face framed by oiled and braided plaits. The word ‘mother’ burst within her and Lizzie knew. On the night we remember and revere our ancestors Lizzie was not alone. This was her mother; the mother of us all.

In The Flowerpot Witch, Lizzie invites the reader to Tal-y-Llyn lake and her ritual for Imbolc…

Backpack bouncing, Lizzie set off across the uneven grass. She grimaced over the stile, her ribs screaming at her, across endless streams and springs gushing from the earth, onto the track around the lake. Large stones and rocks littered her way. She stopped often, enjoying the fresh wind on her face and the glints of sunlight bouncing off the water. Diverting from the track, the land was rutted and boggy. Her thighs ached and her ribs burned, climbing over the grassy mounds and ridges before dropping down towards the lake.

There was little flat ground, but she was sheltered from behind, the only wind blowing off the lake in front of her. She trapped the flapping, white altar cloth with her goddess statue from her Sanctuary. She’d never get the candle in the Goddess’ arms to stay alight, but she’d planned ahead and brought two glass jars and two chunky candles, one white and one orange, already charged with chamomile, myrrh and cinnamon which she placed on the cloth along with a handful of white ribbons, a cloth bag, a jar of milk and an old but serviceable horseshoe.

Standing on the tiny beach, the cold wind tugged at her hair and the cloth bag in her hand. She grounded herself, and then cast protection around her before kneeling at the altar. A warm stillness hung over her circle of protection.

            Blessed Brigid, Triple Goddess, Protector

            Preserver of All Memory and Knowledge

Lizzie lit the white candle.

            Goddess of Fire and Fertility

She lit the orange one.

            Welcome to my circle.

Lizzie knelt before the pregnant maid, mesmerised by the candle circlet adorning her tendril curls. Swathed in a cloak the colour of new leaves, her arms wrapped protectively round her belly, the goddess looked into Lizzie’s eyes. Wisdom, compassion and understanding connected the women and Lizzie found the courage to speak.

            The long days of Winter are behind us

            With your blessing, we look to the Spring.

 From the cloth bag she withdrew multiple stones, offering each to Brigid to be blessed.

            Sweet lady, Goddess of light

            Bless these rose quartz so they may bring me wisdom

            To heal with love and compassion.

 

            Bless these citrines so they may drive away the darkness

            Bringing light into the hearts of those who need it.

 

            Bless these rubies in memory of the fire of life that glows in your belly

            And the promise of life to come.

She picked up the horseshoe.

            Bless this iron horseshoe

            Above whichever door it hangs

            May that house be a happy home.

At her altar, around each stone and the horseshoe, she tied a white ribbon before picking up the jar of milk and stepping back onto the beach, in front of the goddess. Opening her arms to the wind, she breathed in the beauty of Brigid and sent up her prayer.

            Dearest Brigid who nurtures the seeds through the winter

            Bringing the promise of Spring

            Blessed Goddess who gives and shares

            Showering us all with your enchanted, empowering light.

            I honour you and give you thanks

            Offering back the milk of innocence

            To ensure new births and new beginnings.

            She unscrewed the lid and dripped the milk onto the stones and in the lake.

            Goddess of fire and light

            Grant me the courage to see the truth in my life

            And to understand the truth when it is shown to me.

            On every Spring day

            When the sun shines

            I will remember you.

 

Begin your magical journey with Lizzie Martin and The Wendy Woo Witch Lit Series.

For all my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

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