Moonlight Phoenix has risen

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Witches New Year/Samhain 2015

Regular readers will know this is a very special time of year for me. For those who don’t know, I am a Pagan, and I honour the seasons of the Wheel of the Year. Today represents the ‘Witches new Year’ so it’s a day for me to look back on what I’ve achieved over the past year, set my intentions for next year but also a time to honour my ancestors and lost loved ones, as the veil is at it’s thinner, meaning communication to the spirit world is much more open. Today I have already changed my altar for the season, done my personal ritual, lit candles for lost loved ones and done my yearly oracle reading for myself.

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The past year has been excellent! I finally had a job I like, and have had lots of adventures! This is what my goals were and how I did with them:

  1. To have regular healing clients- not yet achieved, I did have a few clients dotted through the year but not even one a month at the moment.
  2. To get to Supervisor level in my job- ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! I recently passed my test (the 2nd time), I’m not officially a supervisor, but I could take keyholder responsibility if I was needed to.
  3. To finish my book- not yet, but almost!
  4. To visit Glastonbury, Gaunts House and the Three Wishes Faery festival- didn’t go to any of these but I did go quite a lot of other places.
  5. To be better at buying birthday presents, not leaving them to the last minute etc- not really improved on this one yet but I’m getting better!
  6. To have more fun- ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!! Definitely managed this one, had so many adventures. Weekends away, and spontaneous visits.

I set more goals etc in January, but will look at them in January, I didn’t manage everything on this list, but I’m pleased with what I did and there was a lot of other things I did achieve that aren’t on the list!

So far what my intentions are for next year are:

  1. To learn more about nature- I love nature so much but I can’t name most of the trees, plants etc. I want to be able to walk in a park and know what the types of trees and plants are. I also want to learn about their uses, herbs and flowers. I learn some things at work but I want to go deeper, things like the Bach Flower remedies intrigue me.
  2. To heighten my Spiritual-related ‘work’- I don’t mean my meditations, rituals etc. My circle has gone amazingly well this year and got a lot bigger. I now really want to have healing work to do, and also run workshops, I ran an Inner Child workshop this year that I’m hoping to do again, and I’m also planning a Goddess workshop. I work part time and do overtime when I can, but I’d love to do part time at my ‘normal’ job and part time doing my spiritual related work.
  3. To get to Peru- planning to go to Peru next year for a retreat. It’s a big ask but I’m trusting the uinverse will provide us the means to go in some way!
  4. To honour the seasons and Full Moons more fully- use them as celebrations and time to enjoy. If I can’t have the full ‘holiday’ on the day itself due to work then I will celebrate it on the closest day off I have.
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Counter Culture UK Book has been released!

You may remember if you read my blog regularly that earlier this year I was working on a chapter about feminism for a book called Counter Culture UK. A couple of weeks ago the book was released and I was able to attend the event in London.

What an interesting evening, even before we got to the venue of the book launch. My husband and I decided to go into London a bit earlier so we could have some food and have a little look in London beforehand. First we went to Mysteries, a great spiritual shop in Convent Garden, where I got myself a ‘Stonehenge’ crystal, basically it’s made of the same stone as Stonehenge, and as soon as I picked it up I knew I had to have it!

Then we went to have something to eat, there was a place that was listed on Happy Cow as being vegan friendly on St Martins Lane, the same road the launch was at, so we checked it out, and we had a very tasty meal that was basically Egyptian street food.

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Then, we still had time to kill so we walked over to the nearby Leicester Square, and it turned out that the premier of ‘Suffragette’ was on, which itself was interesting enough but when we got nearer we could see there was a feminist protest going on. We stood near by and I had a look at the material they were handing out, the protest was by ‘Sisters Uncut’ and was about cuts to domestic abuse services. While we were there, it soon kicked off as they started chanting and setting off smoke bombs in Suffragette colours- purple and green. This part of the protest was quite far back but we later found out that the rest of the protest that was closer to the cinema, managed to storm the red carpet. You can read about it here if you haven’t already. I had to be practically dragged away as I wanted to join in the protest! The only downside was seeing another protest on the way back to St Martins Lane, which was anti abortion. But the Sisters Uncut protest was a synchocity, as it linked perfectly with my chapter!

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We got to the venue which was at a private members club, we got given a token for a free drink and met our friend Helene upstairs. We sat and chatted for a bit before we got invited to come into a smaller room where first there was a brief introduction about the book before we were treated to poetry and spoken word from two of the contributors- Ben Graham (Chapter on Literature) and Penny Pepper (Chapter on Disability and Activism). I particularly enjoyed Penny’s performance. Afterwards we could just socialize and I picked up my copies of the book.

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I only got a few copies so I had to be very selective who I gave them too and obviously i would have loved to give a copy to everyone but I know a lot more than 5 people! Anyway, if you would like a copy, please go to Supernova and buy a copy there to support independent publishers here

Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your feedback 🙂

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The People’s Assembly Manchester Protest

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A few weeks ago I took part in a protest march organised by The People’s Assembly

The protest was in Manchester, while the Conservatives/Tories conference was on, and the protest was all about the cuts and austerity that the party have been bringing as well as other problematic issues. There has been marches here before, but only this time did I find out that Southend Against the Cuts

had organised a coach that would be picking people up from Southend and nearby areas, and would be very inexpensive especially when compared to train prices, and I felt strongly that I needed to be there, so I made sure I booked my place, despite the very long journey, I knew it would be worth it.

Why I felt I had to be there

A lot of reasons really. Firstly the cuts have affected me personally. The benefits my husband was claiming got severely cut, as the rules changed, and all of a sudden I was working too many hours to be claiming benefits, then when I worked the hours I was “allowed”, they gave the benefit back but at much more than half the rate it was. We are in a privileged position though, as my husband no longer has the same severity of health problems, he decided to use the situation to take the steps to go self employed, which has turned out really well for us. HOWEVER, this is not the case for many people who this or similar has happened to. The cuts have been affecting the most vulnerable of society- the disabled, abused women (with cuts to domestic abuse services), and other important services like the NHS, young people, students and so much more.

Other reasons- the Tories are pro fox hunting,pro badger cull, pro fracking and pro Trident, to name a few. I would say I am the opposite of all that they represent. I’ve seen friends and others affected by the cuts. I believe there is strength in numbers, and the more of us that speak out, the better. Maybe we won’t get listened to at first, but sooner or later, if we keep shouting, keep making ourselves visible, we WILL get heard. I really believe this. For those who believe things will never change, well isn’t it better to say you have tried..?

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On the day itself I had to get up at an ungodly hour as my coach pick up was at 7.10am! Luckily the stop was a short walk from my home. My friend Helene got on at the next stop, and somehow with the anticipation and chatted, I managed to stay awake for the 5 hour journey! I was pleased when we made a stop at a service station though and there was a Costa, so I could get myself a soya latte! The protest sort of begun while we were there, while we were queuing for coffee, there was some shouting. Assuming it was just other people on the way to Manchester getting a bit excited, I didn’t think that much of it when we heard shouting about the bedroom tax and ‘f**king scum’. Then we heard from another person on the coach that Ian Duncan Smith had been there and that was what the shouting was about! What are the chances that we would all be in exactly the same service station he decided to go…?? here is an article that mentions the incident here

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It was around 12 when we got to Manchester and all ready thousands of people were gathering. Like the London anti austerity march, it was filled with ordinary people- parents, children, doctors, disabled people, elderly people, and much more. The march itself didn’t set of until 1.30pm, so we took the chance to take some photos, and listen to some of the talks at the start, as well as listening to Billy Bragg sing. At some point we managed to lose the rest of our crowd, as it was just too easy to get separated.

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The march itself took around an hour and felt good spirited. There were drummers, people dressed up and chants like “If you hate the Tories, Clap your hands!” We even spotted a Veggies stall that had vegan cake and other goods you could get for a donation, so I couldn’t resist! We also signed a petition for a Green Power house in Manchester.

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When the march ended, we decided to have a quick stop to have something to eat and get some photos of us with our banners

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Then we made our way in the direction of where the rally was taking place, but there was a line of police blocking us from entering! We started hearing from some other protesters that the police were claiming the space was full when in fact it wasn’t. A few people that were part of the organisation advised to be patient as they would try to sort it out. Lucky for Helene and myself it got resolved quite quick so we were only held for a few minutes before we could go through. However, when we went to the rally it still wasn’t full and we later found out that we seemed to be the only ones from our coach that had actually made it into the rally as the police had started stopping people once again.

Luckily we got to see a fair few speeches before we had to make our way back to the coach. We saw Natalie Bennett, Charlotte Church, the CND, and a few others. I really enjoyed Natalie Bennett and Charlotte Church’s speeches especially.

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We got a little lost on our way back to the coach but eventually we found it, and we relieved to find out we weren’t the last ones back! By the time we left it was 5.30pm, and with another stop it was around 11.30pm by the time we got back.

A worthwhile day.

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The Great Southend Soup Unconference

My amazing friend Sherry runs ‘Southend Soup’

If you don’t know about the Soup movement, take a look at her blog that I’ve linked to above, but in a nutshell it’s a community project that brings people together to share their ideas, people pay a donation, vote for their favourite idea, and then whoever wins the vote wins the money that has been donated. You also get to eat tasty soup! Sherry always makes sure the soup is vegan so more people can eat it, and she often has a theme for each meeting. I went to a book theme one and few people including myself had a chance to share their work as well as get free books.

Anyway, she’s been doing this for sometime. Then she decided she wanted to take it a little further, a “soup plus” and she decided to hold “The Great Soup Unconference”. An all dayer version if you will, but with very little organising, trusting that the day would come together by itself, thanks to the people that attend.

I can’t often get to the regular Soup meet ups, as I am normally working when they are on. (it’s often on a Sunday, which I work)! So when I saw the Unconference was on a Saturday, I made sure I booked my free ticket.

The event took place at a local alternative school ‘Epicquest’ which lucky enough I live really close to, so Miguel and I wandered down and got there right on time.

As people were arriving, we had a little look around at the stalls, and around the centre, which has a lovely unique vibe. I knew lots of other people there, so there was lots of hugs and hellos, which is always nice 🙂 There were stalls from Essex Feminist Collective, a local Portuguese woman who makes jewellery (no website I’m afraid) and my friend Sara was selling her raw chocolate. She doesn’t have a website for the chocolate (which is amazing- we made sure we got a few bags of her ‘caramac flavour- but they were gone by the end of the day)! but she does a lot of therapies and you can find her here

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After a little while, everyone got called into the hall for things to kick off. Sherry talked about what she envisioned for the day, and then she got some of the people from Epicquest to talk a little about the work they do. They provide a space for people who home educate, who may want to take a break now and again, as they have drop in classes, or for people disillusioned with the traditional education system. The provide traditional lessons like Maths and English, alongside things like meditation and yoga. They also have a recording studio local musicians can use, provide vegetarian meals for students, have a permaculture garden, and host lots of local community events.

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Then it was time for what Sherry had called ‘Lightening Talks’- the premise being anyone could get up and talk for five minutes about a project or something they were doing. The first was from a woman who ran a local choir (apologies for the lack of names- I’ve been meaning to blog this sooner, but haven’t been well recently and I didn’t take notes)! and she did her talk in an unique way, instead of just telling us about the group, she got us to sing! We sang a folk song, then she got us to do “rounds” separating us into two groups then into four. It definitely put some of us out of our comfort zone (including me a little)! but it was great, fun way to introduce the group.

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Next up was another amazing friend of mine, Adri Ana, talking about her group Inspiring Women Southend so she talked about the group who meet up once a month to share, inspire and create, as well as run the annual EDEN conference. (if you read my blog regularly you will know I attend this group regularly). She then got 10 people from the audience to get up and say what inspires them, and what they want to achieve. At the end she offered all of them a free ticket to next year’s EDEN. Because of all this, this talk was half hour not five minutes! But it was a good talk.

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After the talks, it was time for ‘Open Space Conversations’ where people were encouraged to think of something they wanted to discuss with others, write it down on a post it note, that then went on a white board. Those of us that weren’t ‘hosting’ a discussion, could wander to whatever one that took our interest and float to other ones if we weren’t learning or participating. I went to the discussion about aiding literacy, I was the only one who turned up to that talk but we actually spoke more about books and writing in general!

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Then there was the break so we could eat delicious soup!

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While we were on the break, we had a look at the music room, and I couldn’t resist having a go on the electronic drum kit 🙂 (and the ukulele which I have completely forgotten everything I learnt while I had one- doh!)

When we came back before the presentations, Helen from Essex Feminist Collective mentioned about ‘Supporting Sisters’, a group that help women with no or limited access to sanitary projects in the UK and also in Calais. The EFA are kindly collecting from the Southend/surrounding areas. I’ve offered to take on a bucket for collections at my women’s circle.

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Then it was time for the presentations for funding. It was a very difficult choice this time, as all the projects were very worthwhile. First there were Epicquest themselves, who wanted funding to help them set up a kitchen which would help young unemployed or out of education adults. Then was my friend Bernie, who wanted funding for her mental health charity Just Listening to You, a lady that wanted funding to help her set up a breast feeding support group, and a lady who wanted funding to help her with her business creating stars.

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There was a chance for another short tea break afterwards, but sadly as we still had other things to do before I had to have a very early night as I was going to Manchester really early the following day (which is another blog I’ve been waiting to write…) we had to leave soon afterwards but luckily we got to hear who the winner was first, which was the breastfeeding group!

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A really lovely day with great community spirit, a chance to connect with new friends and old friends. If you’ve never been to a ‘Soup’, I really recommend you take part! If there isn’t one in your area, why not start one?

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September 2015- the month of too many projects!

September was a very interesting month. There was still lots of overtime, but I was also pretty busy with other things. I also set myself a number of projects during September, which was good, but I think I planned too may, so I couldn’t really put as much attention as I would have liked to each one. So what were the projects?

The first was my secret “Yes” project. I decided to keep it a secret, as I thought if I made it public, some people may choose to take advantage of that. I also set rules- 1. not a yes if it goes against my beliefs, 2. not if it would be a lie 3.not if I already said yes to something else and 4. not if I really couldn’t afford it.- I’m not really sure I gained much from doing this really as a lot of the time I would forget I was supposed to be saying yes, so I guess the main things that happened were that I did more of the things I would usually moderate like drinking coffee and eating etc, and I did go to a couple of things that I probably wouldn’t have done usually, I also filled time even more, usually I just try to do one thing out and about on one day, but I did have some days where I did more than that.

The second project was the crystal project, that was similar to the Goddess project, I would pick a card for each week and then work with that crystal for that week. I would carry it or wear it and I did a few journeys but not many. I worked with Blue Lace Agate (all about soothing and relaxing- I felt very tired that week), Citrine (a stone of happiness and manifesting), Rose Quartz (a stone of love but also brings emotions up- I felt very emotional that week) and finally Emerald (which is also for the heart- I was very happy that week)! It was Emerald week that I gained the most from.

I also did a 21 Day Mindfulness Challenge, but a lot of the tasks set were things I already do, so I didn’t gain much from that.

and to add to that there was some cross over from the previous month as I finished a Denise Lynn book which was a 30 day course and had also finished 21 days of listening to a hypnosis meditation for using the law of attraction!

So yes great but probably a bit too much! I hadn’t set myself any projects for next month but then I saw the ‘Inner Witch Photo Challenge’ on Instagram so I have started that! But I will try not to add lots of other long projects this time, as I just can’t give enough attention to them all!

Anyway so here’s my rundown of how September went..

KEY AIMS FOR 2015

FRIENDSHIP- very prominent, especially in the last week.

FUN- nothing much specific. Did lots of things but not necessarily what I’d label “fun”

CREATIVITY AND INSPIRATION- not much here either, although did write one poem. Did a lot of inspiring things though.

Goals/Aims

To have regular healing clients- I had one healing session and I did my first workshop, which was all about the Inner Child.

To be a supervisor- ACHIEVED! Finally passed my test 95%

To finish my book- nothing towards this. Although the book I contributed a chapter to, is coming out next week!

to be better at birthdays- better! 2 birthdays I managed to get a gift and card on time!

still no Glastonbury…

spend less time on Facebook- I think so, especially this last week as I just haven’t had time.

reconnect with my pagan/witchy side- yes, went to two rituals

go into nature more- mostly not but last weekend I spent all of it in nature!

watch less t.v- I think so

get into music again- nothing really

What I got up to…

I had catch ups with my friends Sue and Maria, as they were friends I hadn’t seen for a while.

I ran my first workshop which was all about connecting and healing the Inner Child. I think overall it went very well, so I will be running it again in the future.

I met up with my friend Lorna and a few other friends for a meal at Pizza Express. I haven’t been there before let alone as a vegan but I was quite impressed! We took our own vegan cheese which they kindly put on for us, and they already have a vegan pizza on the menu so that helped, we could even have a dessert of a raspberry sorbet!

I had my women’s circle which was on the theme of chakras, had some new people again and another lovely session 🙂

I went to the Pagan Lion moot which I hadn’t been to ages. It was nice to see them again.

I retook my supervisor test.

I went to the Pagan Lion Autumn Equinox ritual. We had someone staying with us that weekend as she was from Manchester and was taking part in Miguel’s workshop the following day. he had met her before but I hadn’t, but it was good as we got on really well and had loads in common. So before she left we went for lunch at a new smoothie bar.

We visited another of our newer friends, Lara, who has kindly offered her home to host future circle meetings. As there seems to be more interest, we need a bigger space!

Last weekend was hectic. Miguel was away for the weekend and I didn’t stop! I spent it with Fiona and Jon. On the saturday we went to a vintage tea party at Shoebury Growing Together, not my thing but the place was lovely and it was a beautiful day. We also met up with other friends Helene, the two Susan’s we know and some others. We had an early dinner at Fiona’s before us, Helene and at the last minute Jude went to somewhere called Alfriston near Brighton for ‘beacons in the dark’ an anti fracking ritual. It was an event with people taking part all over the world lighting a beacon at 8pm. We were on a top of a hill overlooking a river with the almost full moon shining down on us. It was very magical! Then at 8pm we lit our beacon which was lots of lanterns. Didn’t get home until around midnight.

The following morning Fiona, Jon and I went to Two Tree Island to do a clean up. I can’t usually take part as I’m usually working but I had a few days holiday so thought it would be nice.

on Tuesday I met another new friend at the Temple cafe for a coffee, then in the evening I went to a project meeting for the next EDEN conference, as I am hoping to be a bit more involved this year, hopefully doing a workshop on meditation.

Wednesday spent most of the day in Leigh, doing some shopping, seeing my grandad and then in the evening went to the Oaktree for a belated birthday meal for Lauren.

Looking forward to what October may bring!

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