February

Even if you aren’t into spirits and myths this months advice will strike a truth and maybe inspire you to actually meet those New Years resolutions you’ve already considered abandoning. 😀

February

For most of us, February means shorter days, longer nights, and colder temperatures. Our ancestors coped with the dead of winter by hunkering down by the fire and conserving energy. They got up later, went to bed earlier, stayed home with the clan or family, and generally did less. Unfortunately, our modern society doesn’t lend itself to this approach, and we often end up pushing ourselves too hard during a season when energy is hard to come by.February

February is a good time to turn inward. Hibernation isn’t just for bears. People can benefit from slowing down and following the natural inclination of the season toward quiet and introspection. You can start to plan the year ahead, even though it is to early to actively do much with your plans (that can wait for spring). If you write – whether it is journaling, poetry, short stories, or books – now is the prim time to reconnect with your muse. Pain, play music, or have small intimate gatherings instead of big parties. Or just spend time by yourself, rediscovering your inner witch.

And don’t forget to use this quiet time to get in touch with your spiritual side. In the silence, you may be able to make a deeper connection with deity that you can during the hustle and bustle of the warmer months. Sit by your altar and speak from the heart and listen for the answer that comes out of the dark. Slow down and sit tight – spring will come soon enough.

Hibernation Spell

Darkness falls and nights grow cold

And like the Witches of old

I turn my speed from fast to slow

And bank the fires down to low

Looking inward in the night

I seek that sacred shining light

Ancient God and Goddess wise

Watching down from moonlit skies

Quiet home and quiet heart

I’ll hibernate ’till springs new start

Content to be at peace and warm

Entranced by winter’s slower charm

Stone: Amethyst

Flowers: violet, primrose

Animal: Otter

Ruling planet: Uranus

Deborah Blake, Llewellyn’s Witches Callender 2013

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A Witches Calender: January

I brought a calender this year – I know, not exactly thrilling news. I picked out one themed with witches because I liked the pictures, when I got it home I discovered each month tells a little story. Today I thought I’d share January’s. Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

HoldaJanuary

We are in the time of the Snow Queen, who is also known as the Northern Germanic goddess Holda. Holda, or Holla, is a deity associated with spinning, fertility, childbirth, and domesticated animals. Holda is the keeper of a sacred pool through which the souls of newly born infants enter the world. It was thought that if women bathed in Holda’s sacred pools, they would quickly conceive. Holda is also one of the leaders of the Wild Hunt. The season of the Wild Hunt began at the Winter Solstice and continues throughout the months of winter. Holda is a patroness of Witches, and she has a shamanistic type of energy, as Witches called on her for nighttime flights or to aid in astral projection.

Holda may appear as an old, bent crone cloaked in gray or as a beautiful young maiden dressed in shimmering white. According to folklore, when Holda makes her bed and fluffs up her feather pillows, it snows. This is how she earned the title of Snow Queen. When fog rolls in during the winter months, it is believed that this is the smoke for Holda’s fire. In southern Germany, this deity is known as Perchta (sometimes spelled Berchta). The name Perchta translates to the “bright one”. Also, a goddess of the Wild Hunt and childbirth, she was accompanied by and cared for the souls of children and babies who had passed to the other side. The festival day for Perchta/Berchta and Holda is January 6.

These goddesses of fertility and death walked here between the worlds of the living and the dead. During the month of January when the snows settle in and the night seems very long, you may call upon Holda to watch over and protect you.

Spell to Call on Holda

All around me now icy, winter winds do blow, 

I call Holda and Perchta, the Queens of the Snow.

Leaders of the Wild Hunt, great ladies, please hear my cry,

Watch over and defend me as you sail through the sky.

By the powers of the earth, air, fire and water,

Guard and protect you magickal sons and daughter.

January Correspondences

Stone: Garnet

Animal: Snow goose; owl; bear

Flower: Carnation; snowdrop

Ruling planet: Saturn

(Not my own words, copied from ‘Llewellyn’s Witches Calender 2013’: Ellen Dugan)

 

 

What the Paralympics Taught Us

Wheelchair Rugby (google images)

Disabled sports are hardly ever advertised or televised and it is generally assumed someone with a disability cannot partake in the same activities as everyone else. As we are all now aware this could not be further from the truth. Wheelchair basketball is one of the most violent mainstream sports, rivalled only by wheelchair rugby. I cannot think of any other instance where a disabled person is left to fend for themselves after being knocked out of their wheelchair.

You watch with awe as these athletes pushing themselves to the limit, not just to prove to the world they are as capable, if not more capable than most of their able-bodied peers, but to explore the limits of the human body.

We were watching the blind football, where the crowd has to remain perfectly silent unless a goal is scored so the players can hear the soft jingle of the ball. It was truly amazing. I can’t kick a ball when I can see the thing let alone have such ball control as these athletes did – and they can’t see a thing!

To me, and every other able-bodied person, it is almost inconceivable that the achievements attained by the Paralympic teams are possible. In some ways I believe they deserve more recognition than the Olympians since they overcome barriers which without their drive and determination would see them struggling to survive in our cut-throat modern society.

Ellie Simmonds – Paralympic swimmer (google images)

Not only do these Paralympic games teach the world that disability or illness should never stop you from reaching your dreams, they have provided an excellent block upon which foundations of understanding can be built. I agree that there are some things about disability which should never be said, but sometimes political correctness goes to far and prevents able-bodied people from accepting the disabilities of others and treating them as ‘normal’ human beings in fear of offending. I’m sure, in reality, that those with disabilities would much prefer their status as ‘wheelchair user’ or ‘MS patient’ etc does not define their identity. They are so much more than their disability and the Paralympic games have opened a gate for true acceptance, respect and unity.

The Friendly Games: Catching Olympic Fever

Today I felt a bit lost. No olympics. It’s only been on for what, two weeks? Yet it seems as though it’s been on forever and now its all over it feels like nothing will be the same again. I’m ashamed to say but I caught the olympic bug and now I’ve got post-olympic blues.

At first, the olympic games didn’t bother me, in fact I couldn’t wait until they were over. I saw the arrival of the olympic flame and wondered what the big fuss about, and then the journey of the flame seemed to go on forever. And what with the over-commercialised nature of the games, missiles on the apartment roof and the anxiety concerning security it didn’t appear as though it would be a successful games and that made me quite nervous.

By the time of the opening ceremony I only really watched it so I wasn’t missing anything the rest of the world were paying attention to. Even after that I didn’t think I’d be watching a lot of the actual sport. Monday morning came and seeing as nothing else was on TV I put the olympics on. For the next two weeks it was practically all I watched.

London 2012 has been called the ‘friendly games’ and from what I’ve seen that’s the truth, its made me proud to be British. Of course the media are only going to show the good bits and not broadcast any hiccups in the organisation or events, but don’t kill my thunder just yet. 🙂

Why should the community feeling only going to last for two weeks? Perhaps it’s my naivety but watching the closing ceremony shows how the world would be if we accepted our differences and celebrated them. It’s almost as if everything else was more or less forgotten for two weeks. (Not always a good thing as the earth doesn’t stop but does give an insight into what can happen when everyone gets along, cheers each other on and enjoys being together). Honestly, I’ll miss the olympics and the smiles of absolute joy on the faces of the gold medalists.

Anyway, I now know what the papers say about the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony and the olympics in general but what do you all think? Opening or closing ceremony – Atkinson or Idle? Most importantly, was it a success?

Did you know Frogs rule the universe?

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt

Holt’s fiction is…befuddling. From the moment you start reading, you’re not sure whether to be amused or confused. Certainly bemused.

David Perkins bumbles his way into a police station, an outcome he is sure has been orchestrated by the band of clone brothers who seem to be just about everywhere. From there he accidentally stumbles onto the discovery that frogs rule, quite literally.

And why is he in the mess? Because of a painting, a lock of hair and a centuries-old love story of course!

After being forced to not only question his identity, species and his very existence David finds himself resigned to kissing 6000 frogs.

Holt is an imaginative, unique writer whose baffling logic scarily makes more sense than it ought. As long as you don’t try to think it through for too long, otherwise you’ll get a headache.

If you enjoyed ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (and if you haven’t read it you should) you’ll enjoy Tom Holt’s style of twisted humour. Definitely a book which causes a dazed far-out smile to appear on your face every time you think of it or and try to unravel the riddle of the plot, its laugh-out-loud humour stays with you.

 

Seven Pounds: Will Smith

“In seven days God created the world. And in seven seconds I shattered mine.” – Seven Pounds (2008)

Yesterday my brother was doing his PRE (Philosophy, Religion and Ethics) homework and said he needed a film which had moral implications. After suggesting Seven Pounds and trying to remember what exactly what happened we decided to put it on.

Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, a man who is trying to redeem himself after causing a terrible catastrophe, ruining several lives. He chooses seven people who he believes deserve a second chance and plans to help them. However, after developing feelings for one girl, whose life is in the balance, he must decide whether he should reveal his secret or continue with his original intentions.

The first time I watched it, Seven Pounds was a bit confusing as the scenes flashed between Ben’s life before and after the accident. At the time, as I remember it, it wasn’t clear what had happened to cause the torrent of guilt and the drive for redemption, however, it remained a powerful and moving experience as the story becomes apparent by the end.

This film certainly shows Will Smiths’ acting at its best, he displays real emotion for each decision he makes and causes the audience’s emotions to fly with him. Though Seven Pounds is not a happy film, it ends on a joyful, inspiring and hopeful note as Ben succeeds in bringing new life and opportunities for the chosen seven.

As well as being an excellent film, Seven Pounds is also a thought-provoking experience as it raises questions and moral issues over who has the right to decide who deserves life, death or a second chance. Ben Thomas tests his chosen seven to see if they are kind enough to be worthy of his help, but should that really be his decision? Who is he to condemn a person to a life of poor health just because there is someone else who he sees as a more worthwhile subject?

Anyway, moral issues aside Seven Pounds is an absorbing, captivating film; perfect for an afternoon with your feet up. My advise would be to watch it with a comforting cup of tea and a box of tissues.