Witch Hovel in the Woods, the Light of Usnea: Home Now

After sleeping in a warehouse for three weeks after my 5 month hike on the PCT, I find myself driving to Eugene one sunny fall afternoon to look at a home. I found it on a whim on Craigslist while dreading reintroduction back into "regular world." The people who lived on the property liked me immediately and in our email changes we communicated with a familiar language. 

I am greeted by M, who shakes my hand and the shirt he is wearing tells me I am with my people. Local environmental activism. We walk around the property and he picks up acorns which he will dry, leach and grind into flour later. We talk about lichen and fungi dyes.

My heart breaks when I enter the main central building on the property. Filled with skylights, wood panels and that smell. Why is it that us more feral folk have that smell? A large wood stove anchors the room together and the walls on the southeast facing part of the building are just windows. A nuthatch crawls on the oak outside the window, chickens peck in the yard and a bobtailed cat suns itself on the couch.

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I leave with my heart pounding and my fingers crossed as I drive back to my warehouse couch. 

I move in a month later.

witch hovel

And, I sit. I sit and I stare out the window of my small yurt dwelling, perched up on a hill, surrounded by oak, pine and swaying usnea. I make a small altar at my own southeast facing window, where I watch the glow of the sun come up over the far hill. Sometimes, it lights the lichen up in the canopy first. Setting the whole place aglow, with brilliant shimmering mossy light reflected out of billions of dew droplets.

I pull out my old friends one by one, my crow bones, my squirrel bones and fox from a box labeled "WITCH SHIT". They feel cold, as we haven't seen each other for almost 9 months. My bone throwing set feels coldest of all, I breathe on them and they stir a little. They need fire, warmth, touch.

And so I make fires, as it's my only source of heat. I set the newspaper up, the kindling and wait and watch. "A watched fire will never lite correctly," I tell myself. 

I track mud into my room, lichen finds its way in and into my hair, alder sticks in my bed.

At night the rain hits the oculus skylight in the center of my roof. I panic, my trail mind going into survival mode. The drops sound like a leaking tent wall, and it takes me a little while to find the rain soothing during cold times. But isn't that for the domesticated? I ask myself. 

How to I keep my feral creature awake? 

The deer family, a small herd of doe and their young, greet me on my dimly lit morning walks down to the main house for coffee. Fine mist swirls in the air and fills my lungs. I hear them bounding off in their elegant leeps thunk! thunk! thunk! Hearing the ground bear the weight of their lithe prancing bodies, they look back at me with caution. My favorite is a young buck, the cutest of all.

I brew coffee and watch him out the window eating the usnea and the fallen lichen. His fur is thick and ruffled in some spots. He turns away and follows his mother up the hill and into the forest. My landmates wake and they make bird calls to each other in the morning, while coffee brews and eggs turn white in bacon fat and well conditioned cast iron.

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The anxiety of the rain never leaves me, I still wake sometimes at night and panic a little. 

Going To Town becomes an ordeal of maintaining my anxiety levels. I can breathe right when I finally get home again. But the town holds me better than Portland did. I see the usnea hanging from rearview mirrors. At the small grocery store, I buy dried pineapple and the old man behind the counter wishes me a happy solstice, instead of happy holidays. 

Eugene was an old bastion of green anarchism and radical environmentalism, since gone silent. Much that is wild and feral seems to be going silent as time passes. You can see see it though persisting like dormant seeds in the soil: in the bathroom graffiti, on the street corner, in quiet passing conversations, back patches and zines left to be seen.

Waiting.

On the solstice night, coming up from the house after a shower a wren flies into my room - in the pitch black dark. I try and try to shoo it away, but instead it roosts in my oculus and blinks at me. I shrug and eventually put myself to sleep. All night the little wren sleeps quietly. We wake at the same time, right as the sky begins to shift into light. I open my door and it flies away like nothing has happened. I feel it was an omen, but of what I have no clue.

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I keep sitting, for a month. I cry a little, I develop a romance with someone to distract me, I try to write but I cannot, I sit in hot springs and see the decaying leaves of Aralia californica, drooping weeping, my body aching for warmth and I stroke the lines the sun made on my body, remembering. Nothing can come out. Nothing wants to come out. 

Every night I dream about being on the PCT. Sometimes, it's snowing and I am still out there. Waiting in some warm building wondering to myself why am I waiting? It's done. I did it. Go home. Then I am filled with sadness and the deepest longing.

Sometimes I accept and refuse my post trail depression. Mostly, the sitting was deep metabolization of... everything that happened. And I loved it, I swam in it, drank deeply from it.

In those last cold Washington days, as I approached the Canadian border I knew, I was going to find my witch hovel in the woods. Where I would incubate myself with plants and spirit and fire.

And they must have agreed, because here I am.

My mornings now filled with incense and water in offering to the spirits of this land, to my own spirits that watch over me and walk with me, and to my ancestors. I write my dreams down and pray for more rain, as our winter so far has been so dry. It makes my nerve endings feel sapped and brittle. Like usnea left to dry. 

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I snap dried alder twigs for tincture and pour pine pitch salves, I set the florida water out under that Cancer full moon. I find my flow. I let myself sink into the difference of now vs. then. I manage to find ways to make myself suffer for my pleasures. For the goodness I have.

Funny, how for some of us, we feel we must suffer to have good things and so we create this ourselves. "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven," I mock to myself. "So the John Milton says." Sometimes I tip my head back and cackle at myself.

I find my plant allies that will help me with my mind and they soothe me. 

A wind rattles through the trees one night, leaving piles of usnea glowing on the ground. They mesmerize me. If I am so attracted to them, they must be attracted to me. So I collect them, they fill all corners of my room. Leaving the scent of air, the trees, the wild.

Which I try so hard to keep within me.

A Reading & Resource List for Every Witch

These are the titles and books that every witch should have in their collection, or somehow get their hands on and read. I am sharing this in reference to questions I have received from Instagram on book/resource recommendations. I have read many of these books and there are many that I have not read yet myself but are on my never ending to-read list. This is by no means super comprehensive, or an end all be all list, but it's a good jumping off point for those looking to expand their knowledge. 

My reading list leans towards traditional witchcraft of primarily European origin. I lean in on my heritage and understand my ancestors and their pre-Christian traditions. Our ancestors are our greatest guides, they want to see us do well and we need to remember them because they are being forgotten. Folk magic is a huge part of my practice as well, so I do have an emphasis on reading about folklore and low down dirty magic. As well as Shamanism, mythology and working with spirits and gods. I'm a dirty ol' witch, pagan, animist and polytheist if you were wondering. 

This list will also include books that have influenced my craft and some recently discovered zines and small independent publishers that I am super excited about! If I am missing anything of note, please leave a comment and I will add it.

Reading and Resource List for Every Witch

Classics

More Modern Classics

  • Rebirth of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente *a must read to understand the origins of modern resurgence in Witchcraft
  • Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente
  • Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente
  • Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens by Paul Huson
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson
  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
  • THE BLACK PULLET by anonymous

Witchcraft & Practices

  • The Sorceror's Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick by Jason Miller
  • Protection and Reversal Magick by Jason Miller
  • Craft of the Untamed: An Inspired Vision of Traditional Witchcraft by  Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold 
  • The Witches Sabbats by Mike Nichols
  • Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection by Draja Mickaharic
  • A Century of Spells by Draja Mickaharic
  • Crones Book of Charms & Spells by Valerie Worth
  • Treading the Mill: Practical Craft Working in Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Nigel G. Pearson
  • The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft by Robert Cochrane

American Witchcraft, Southern African American Hoodoo & Conjure

  • Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure by cat yronyode
  • Pow-Wows, or Long Lost Friend: A Collection of Mysterious and Invaluable Arts and Remedies, for Man as Well as Animals by John George Hohman
  • The Silver Bullet & and other American Witch Stories by Hubert J. Davis
  • The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work by Orion Foxwood
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson, 2005
  • The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic by catherine yronwode
  • Hoodoo in Theory and Practice An Introduction to African American Rootwork by cat yronwode

Magical Spiritual Herbalism & Witchcraft

  • Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Christian Rätsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl
  • The Pharmako Trilogy by Dale Pendell
  • Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
  • Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green
  • Magical and Ritual Use of Aphrodisiacs by Richard Alan Miller
  • Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs by Richard Alan Miller
  • The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines by Matthew Wood
  • Plant Spirit Shamanism: Traditional Techniques for Healing the Soul by Ross Heaven & Howard G. Charing
  • Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants by Elliot Cowan 
  • Medicinal Herbs of the Mountains West by Michael Moore *if you live in the western United States
  • The Green Book by Heliophilus

Spiritwork, Ancestors and Gods

  • Cunning-Folk & Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic by Emma Wilby
  • The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland by Emma Wilby
  • COMMUNING WITH THE SPIRITS: The Magical Practice of Necromancy by Martin Coleman
  • Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies, and the Cycle of Reincarnation by Raven Grimassi
  • Dwelling on the Threshold: Reflections of a Spirit-Worker and Devotional Polytheist by Sarah Kate Istra Winter
  • Hekate in Ancient Greek Religion by Robert Von Rudloff 
  • Gods of the Greeks by Karl Kerenyi 
  • Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate's Roles in the Chaldean Oracles and Related Literature by Sarah Iles Johnston
  • The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion by Daniel McCoy

Women's Mysteries

  • The Wise Wound by Peter Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle
  • Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
  • Pomba Gira & the Quimbanda of Mbùmba Nzila by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold
  • The Red Goddess by Peter Grey

Small Presses, Zines and Publishers

  • Hadean Press occult books, journals, and pamphlets in standard and handbound editions.
  • Scarlet Imprint "Our work is intended to support practising magicians, students of the occult arts, the esoteric community and the fine book arts." Hands down one of the best publishers right now in the occult world. Incredible work and fantastic blog as well.
  • GODS & RADICALS "Gods & Radicals is a non-profit Pagan anti-capitalist publisher. Our focus is simple: inexpensive print and digital works to inspire hope and rebellion." Fuck yeah!
  • Three Hands Press The premier publisher of contemporary occultism and metaphysica, representing the new generation of esoteric scholars, artists and practitioners. 

Blogs and Fellow Witch Folk

And that my friends, is all I've got right now off the top of my head! I will likely update this and add to it over time. Again, if you feel there is something to add here, please leave a comment. 

A WITCHES RESISTANCE & ACTION LIST

yarrow demonstrating its resilancy, strength and potency when growing in a harsh place

yarrow demonstrating its resilancy, strength and potency when growing in a harsh place

Just last Tuesday, like so many others I saw the headline that Trump silenced the EPA, USDA and it's scientists and a whole host of other horrifying events. I found myself hunched over my laptop or over my phone, white knuckled, jaws clenched, shoulders caved in, knots in my stomach. I went to bed that night my mind a swirling chasm of dread. Crushed under the weight of what to do, how to act, we're doomed I thought. It's happening. 

It's happening. And so very fast.

Times are fucking scary and very intense right now. For all of us, and even more so for so many other people. As I laid in my bed, unable to move from anxiety and the depression I have felt the past several weeks I realized, this is the exact reaction they want. Several people and friends I follow on Instagram talked about this very crushing weight we're all feeling right now and that we need to take care of ourselves and each other. We need to connect with each other and reach out. Build community or further strengthen those bonds, however that manifests for you.

Yesterday morning I woke up and dove into the news first thing, not the best idea for mental health. Somehow I surfaced from the deep current of it all and grabbed a breath of air and began a list for myself. I'm sharing this list with those who will pass by this. It's a reminder that small acts, the tiniest acts do in fact have an impact. Even if it means taking a hot bath with crushed red cedar leaves you found in your local forest. Resistance can be as subtle as a weed growing out of a crack in the concrete, or as bold as hanging signs in front of the White House and defying orders to stay silent.

So, this is my list of actions, prompts for more learning and understanding and self care for the witch in these times.

If you're reading this and have something to add, please leave a comment. This is by no means a list of perfection. Its things that feed and placed to start.

Be well, be strong.

Bye Bye Bye 2016

The years last bone broth is simmering behind me and everyone everywhere on social media is talking about the end. I want to too, just for myself. As Mercury has turned his back on us in the sky and transits seemingly backward for now, my words have felt hollow, shallow and useless. Like they hold no power. So usually in a time like this I am not prone to write, but here I am anyway. I wanna, for personal reasons, catalog the end of this year a bit. Or at least put something up where I can look back on the goodbye. 

Something to punctuate the end. 

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For me, this year was about breaking down, building up and moving into new territory. It was one of the harder years of my life, but an amazing one. Some major things that happened:

  • My paternal grandmother died. She helped raise me as a kid and she was the grandmother I was closest to.
  • Painfully watched my father succumb further to alcoholism. Recognized my own hereditary susceptibility to alcohol and realized that this beast is dormant within me. 
  • I hiked most of the Oregon Coast Trail. In doing so I learned how to backpack and manage hiking long distances all by myself.
  • I grew vast amounts of confidence (and give no fucks) in my writing while on trail/post trail and am totally comfortable calling myself a writer now. Despite my lack of formal education. 
  • I made the decision to leave my business and primary source of income at Haus of Gloi, of which I have been founder, creator and co-owner of for 9 years.
  • Launched Blood Moon Botanica and am now also reading tarot and bones professionally. 
  • Laid down ground work to step into a new job with Blood Moon Botanica after I finish the PCT.
  • Fell in love with a person I did not know could actually even exist.
  • Solidified personal political views/beliefs post election and will act accordingly to resist facisim and protect/defend what I love.

As the year has come to a close, I find myself separating from many of the monolithic structures I've built for myself to pursue deep and serious life callings. It's been a long game. Two years as a matter of fact (long perhaps, for an Aries). Making the decision to hike the PCT in early 2015 was what actually spurred a lot of these changes and decisions. It opened many doors I longed to walk though and to think I haven't even stepped foot on this trail and it's already changed me. 

In these last few months of this year it's actually happened. For some reason I've been startled to see years of work, dreaming and reaching finally materialize before me. Like, I'm making it happen. All those little tiny steps and things I did years, months, weeks, days ago are making these current moments and future moments happen. Inching closer and closer towards my (as cliche as it sounds) my own truth. Searing, white hot truth.

Saying that doesn't mean that I am not afraid. I am trusting that my thriftiness and Blood Moon Botanica will sustain me with a home and a living wage after I complete the PCT. The risks are great, the leaps are huge, learning to trust has been a struggle, learning how to let go. I've never been in a better position to chase after the things that matter the most to me. Plants, the land, herbalism, protecting and serving that which I hold most dear. I want to thank my past self, my spirits and ancestors and to all those who helped shine light on this crooked path I choose to walk. No matter how painful it was in the past to get me here to this point, this is the only way I would have it.

The witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it.
— Peter Grey, Rewilding Witchcraft

When you're moving toward what you're deeply called to do, the universe, God, Her, whoever - they conspire to put you where you need to be.

Now, I continue onwards towards what I know is right and I will trust the process.

The future is unknown.

2017 is unknown.

I am ready.

Bye bye bye 2016.

Blackberry + On the Work of Self Love and Our Bodies

Recently in an Instagram post, I wrote about struggling with my own body image and recognizing my relationship to my body and that it is time to mend it. I'm not an expert on this subject of being a woman and how I deal with my own body. Or maybe I am, because I am living and dealing with it just like so many other people. I also do not contain the eloquent politically correct language so many others posses, to express myself confidently. But you know, fuck it. Alas, my Mercury in Aries does its usual thing. 

Please, read through the comments. There are a lot of lovely and wonderful nuggets in there.

This is the body I wake up in every day. Lately, I have been having an increasing anxiety about my body and it's shape. It has been building up to an extremely uncomfortable anxiety ridden point. I have been fat and I have meticulously counted my calories and lifted weights until I had visible abs, which often only brought a superficial appreciation of my body. I mentally beat myself up when I skip the gym for a week, or when I decide to eat like shit for a day or two. When I don't move my body, or come into it I forget that I am in it. Which is strange to me as a highly physical Aries/Taurus person. Often I feel like a cloud of consciousness, just floating in the ether, with nothing to root me or ground me. I look at @bodyposipanda and so many other women in love with their bodies no matter the shape. I feel shame, envy, anger and self loathing that I can't seem to ever ascend into acceptance and even more than that LOVE for my self and mainly, my body. I know where the loathing comes from, but I cannot fend it off some days and some days it's really bad. The whole world can tell you you're beautiful but you'll never believe it until you come into some form of love for your self and body - until you do your own internal work. And I realize, that I need to spend time with myself and with my body more. It's time to do this work I have put off so long and ignored. To feel the shapes and roots of, "I'm not good enough" "I'm not lean enough" "I'm not as pretty as that person" "I am not worthy" etc. and treat them with compassion and understanding. To transmute that. Vulnerability, transparency and sharing in my community (all community) have been a way for me to heal parts of myself. Supporting each other in the struggle, as I know I am not alone. I know many of you feel this, I feel it too. We can unlearn what we have been taught is "beautiful" and stop hating ourselves for what we actually are. It's ok. We're ok. We are enough. . . . #bodypositive #bodyposi #bodypos #selflove #feels #thestruggle #curves #pcos #vulnerability #transparent #witchlife #transmute #unlearn

A photo posted by ♈️Britton (@archaichoney) on

It wasn't easy to put all of that up, but I'll say it again: fuck it. Because I know I'm not alone in the struggle. The shame that I am made to feel for my body, no matter its shape. I am three years out of an abusive long term relationship followed by a string of dating and relationships where 95% of the time I was purely an object meant to please and when I did not please, when I challenged, when I fought back against misogyny I was made to feel terrible and unwanted for it. I had no idea what was even happening at the time. I just felt like an unloveable, ugly, unworthy human being.

I know that is not true about me, or you or anyone.

So, as I sat looking over comment after comment, story after story I grabbed my tarot cards. Naturally. I wanted to do a reading for all of us as we recognize and begin to heal these thought patterns and how we view our bodies. This will be a lucid rambling of card reading, so thank you in advanced for following along.

The deck I am using is my beloved Pagan Otherworlds Tarot, created by the wonderful folks at Uusi

The first card was the most profound, and I almost just wanted to stop the reading right there but I pulled one more just to back it up.

10 of Swords - Queen of Wands

Being a plant person, the first thing I see here are the brambles and what looks like to me like the highly invasive Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) that plagues my home in the Northwest. And how representative this plant can be of patriarchal and misogynistic values. As it creeps into our minds telling us how to live and how we should think of ourselves. It binds us and chokes the life out of all other living things. What seems most oppressive in this picture though, is the crushing weight of those swords. The whole thing, on the surface looks like a tangled mess of sharp painful objects and death. At the same time however, this plant provides food, shelter for small animals and even medicine.

Blackberry is in the Rosaceae family, placing it alongside other fruit bearing and thorn wielding plants such as Crataegus (hawthorn) and Rosa (rose). The lesson these plants often provide us is safe boundaries that protect the self and often help support love of the self. Bridging the wide gaps and disconnect we can often find between our spirit, mind and body.

It is worthy to note that in this card its rootball is exposed, where a good portion of it's medicine resides and in this state it is vulnerable. This is where my focus is being drawn.

Classically, the 10 of Swords is the end of the suit of Swords and the end of a cycle. The darkness before dawn. In this card, we see the opportunity of transmuting the roots of invasive and persistent thoughts about our bodies and our own worthiness despite the oppressive situation we find ourselves in. Do we use the swords in an aggressive angry act to hack away at something that will just spring back time and time again, offering only a temporary reprieve? Or, or, do we get our hands dirty and transform the mire of our thoughts about ourselves into a potent medicine that heals and teaches us? 

The work is not easy. The work does not come without getting scratched, or bleeding, or remembering and seeing just how far those roots go back.

Alongside this card was the witch of tarot herself, the Queen of Wands. With her cat, her secrets and her knowledge of positive growth. This kind of Queen can act as a guide and muse for those of us working on the struggle and our journey into a healthy and positive relationship with our bodies. Her focus is inward and yet she can turn that and radiate it outward as warmth, love and compassion for herself and others. A Queen is a Queen because of her experiences, both good and bad. If you have a tarot deck, find her and carry her with you. Put her in a place you will see often and be reminded of her energies. 

If you're reading this chances are you're probably a witch, right? We have the power and ancestral knowledge to turn something into another. To transmute and alchemize. To make a healing balm and find power and strength out of what would otherwise crush us and snuff us out.

A Witches List: Life Bits + Tarot + Books + Coffee Death Limbo

Well, I can't drink fucking coffee right now. It's giving me heartburn. I don't know where it came from or why or how, but my blessed black dark bitter life elixir is no longer friendly towards my digestive system. So, it's been tea and eating as right as I can, when I can. Thankfully I live only a few blocks from one of Portlands best tea places, Townshend Tea. The loose leaf can rack up a bill, and very quickly I might add. A little of this one, a little of that one, $30! But dang, it tastes good. If I can't have my coffee, my tea might as well be exciting.

witch hair and maps and no coffee.

witch hair and maps and no coffee.

Besides adjusting to a new life without coffee (aka: death) it has been busy, busy, busy with odd quiet moments in between. I've been thinking a lot about my upcoming trip, putting final touches on logistics, route, gear and food. My spiritual practice and what I will be doing with myself post trail. I've been reading a few books, new and old. Setting aside ego and pride to explore things I have an irrational dislike of. Spending time with a person I love and exploring this new place of being vulnerable and really being OK and happy in that state without letting fears override me - I've been applying that to all areas of my life lately. Slowly but surely.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I am having a weird time being in a limbo of not being able to take action on some things I'd like to get started. I don't usually put the lid on things and right now I have no choice but to keep the lid on this I WANNA DO IT NOW stew of ideas and plans. A very good exercise for someone like myself. It will also be a great to come back from my trip and have a course of action I can take, that way I hopefully don't get caught up in post trail blues.

I did a cool thing earlier this month and gave my living room couch away for free on Craigslist. I then moved my bed into my living room and now, I have a blank slate of a room that will be solely dedicated to witchcraft related activities. I've been dipping back into old practices and relationships to deity and spirit that I had set aside for a few years. While my house is primarily conducive and supportive of my practices, I don't know why I had never thought of doing this before. I'm glad I did. I'm looking forward to doing more with it when I get back from the coast.

TAROT

On Instagram I have been doing another month long tarot challenge! I love these and I especially love doing these with a new deck, as it gives you such a great opportunity to work with it on the daily. I chose to work with the Wild Unknown, a deck I own but have had an aversion to since it is so very popular and hip. To challenge myself on this, I decided to use the deck and get over my ridiculous snobbery. So far, it has been powerful to work with and I definitely appreciate the strong voice that this deck has.

Have you seen the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot that is being produced by Uusi? Well, ya need to go look at it right now. I don't think I have been this excited by a tarot deck in... forever. Not only does this deck have the traditional 78 cards, but it has FIVE lunar cards and "Seeker" card. How cool is this deck? The Lunar cards might be a great way to work with time frames within readings. Who knows! I'll have to try it out.

photos from and by  Uusi

photos from and by Uusi

The folks behind Uusi are super great people too. I got a little post card in the mail from them to let me know when my deck would ship and when the book will be arriving as well. Decks should be arriving in August, the companion book in October. I like that the book will be coming out a few months down the road after the deck, as it will give me to opportunity to read and work with it purely by imagery and intuition, my preferred method of card reading. EXCITED!

READING

For a long time, I harboured a dislike of Amanda Palmer. I didn't have any real rational reasoning for this. I think that sometimes, it is good to explore our dislike of something - just to check in on where that is coming from within us. Likely, we dislike that someone or something because it presents to us our lack, or they inspire jealously because we are not living like them, or are as great as them, or living a fabulous life like them, or are married to your author crush Neil Gaiman, happy, successful, or any other number of things you feel you are not or have not. 

In the same vein of challenging myself to read with the Wild Unknown tarot, I decided I needed to read her book The Art of Asking. Magically, the book appeared in my lap - a side benefit of loving a man who works for the best bookstore in Portland and possibly North America. 

I'm about a quarter of the way through and I think I have underlined and made notes on half the pages so far. If you are doing anything, anything at all - perusing your passions in any shape and form, you will love this book. As an entrepreneur and someone who has bucked at conventional ways of living my whole life, this book has been hugely affirming so far. Especially within the realms of work that makes one vulnerable, like reading tarot for example. She really highlights the struggle of an artist and the effect of crushing self-doubt.

In both the art and the business worlds, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple:
The professionals know they’re winging it.
The amateurs pretend they’re not.
I laughed thinking about every single artist I knew - every writer, every actor, every filmmaker, every crazed motherfucker who had decided to forgo a life of predictable income, upward mobility, and simple tax returns, and instead pursued a life in which they made their living trying to somehow turn their dot-connecting brains inside out and show the results to the world - and how maybe it all boiled down to one thing:
BELIEVE ME.
Believe me.
I’m real.

It's really good. And as I figured, my dislike of her was not about her but about me and my own self-worth. Good things to explore.

ADVENTURES

When I leave the Portland metro area, sometimes I realize that I forget where I live. It's been nice to go with someone and be able to share seeing beauty like this.

lava canyon, mount saint helens

lava canyon, mount saint helens

june lake, mount saint helens

june lake, mount saint helens

avalanche lily, mount saint helens

avalanche lily, mount saint helens

bagby hot springs area

bagby hot springs area

I had the pleasure of driving my friend Ashley and her husband Marcos out for a two day backpacking trip! It was great seeing them and we all went for a dip at the hot springs. It had been ages since I'd been here. It's a popular spot for Portland folks. Beautiful nonetheless.

Sadly, someone took it upon themselves to sprinkle glitter all over the trail. Sigh.

I feel like a complete dork, but if I am within the vacinity of the PCT, I have to stop. Even if it's just to walk a few hundred feet of trail. You can see it snaking along behind me there. It carries the footsteps of so many people, all their pain and hunger and who the fuck knows what else. A year and a half of longing makes that narrow path something very, very special and symbolic to me. 10 measly months and it'll be my home for a little while.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I am curious, because I know I am not the only one. Have you tried exploring something you irrationally dislike? Did you ever discover the root cause?

My next post will likely, maybe, be from my tent while I am on the coast. See you then!

Leaving For the Oregon Coast Trail + What Do I Need?

It's 100 degrees here in Portland this weekend. I sucked in all the cool air last night, shut up all the windows before it crept over 70 degrees this morning and I am sitting in fine comfort, for now. I am cool blooded though, so I enjoy the heat for the most part. Sipping holy basil and mint tea, with a little watermelon on the side. Good refreshing things.

My mind keeps drifting back to this this picture I took almost a year ago, when I was on a camping trip with my herbalism school. It was such a hot and dry summer last year...

Oregon Coast Trail Oswald West - Thru Hiking

It's always cool on the coast, or at the very least there will be that persistent breeze rolling in off the ocean. Filling you up with the sweetness of negative ions, salty skin and tousled hair.

My stomach flips a little in that good way; when I look at my calendar and see July creeping up faster than I thought possible. In less than a month now, I'll be living on the Oregon coast for a month.

My home and all that I'll need to live outdoors will be on my back. I'll be avoiding lingering in towns and spending as much time as I can out on the route that will take me to the California border. From there, I'll have to find my way home. Likely by a mixture of bus and train.

It's going to be super amazing. But I am also kind of preparing myself more for the uncomfortable aspects of what I'm doing. The word for it is called thru-hiking - when you hike one long continuous trail from beginning to end. It's my preliminary step towards finding my style for when I take on the Pacific Crest Trail next year. To know what I am comfortable with, what I need and don't need, what I want and don't want. 

I don't know what to expect. I have never done anything like this in my life. I've never even been on a trip this long before, as I have spent the majority of my adult life... well, adulting. Running a business, tending to the day to day.

It's been both easy and hard for me to set aside time like this, for a big endeavour. It feels kind of like a chink in my mental calendar year - I'm excited and a little irritated by it. Aries don't like to slow their roll and I can't get rolling on some projects I've wanted to pick up. My ingrained scheduling will be disrupted and I feel like I can't begin anything right now. 

It's a preparatory limbo.

What I do know is, my constant companions are going to be the ocean, trees, plants and the moon as she moves the tide back and forth. Controlling my movements of when I can and cannot hike. When I can and cannot pass around a point, or make it to the next headland, to my next camp spot. 

I keep thinking about how I should prepare for the spiritual aspect of this hike and I think about how I am going to do that when I am on the PCT too. I think about physical tools I would need to engage in spirit work, pay homage to the moon in her phases, or to honor a spirit of place. I think I need these physical accoutrements to make contact, to do the work, to engage. Then I realized I don't. I realized...

All the tools we need are in us. 

So I decided to stop stressing about that part. Because either they'll find me, or I'll find them... we'll find each other somehow. I'll figure it out when I get there. I keep telling myself that.


If you're wanting the more detailed and nitty gritty aspects of my hikes and the preparation that I do for them, you can follow me on my other blog, Witch Wandering (which, there are no posts yet, but soon). In that space I will be keeping a daily trail log (updating on trail when able to do so) and posts on what I carry gear wise, eat, prepare, etc. I do hope to squeeze in a from the trail post here too, if possible. We'll see how it goes.

Weekly Oracle: Vulnerability + Resentment + Healing

I'll be doing Weekly Oracles over on my Instagram account every Monday instead of doing them here. I'd like to focus on more quality vs. quantity writing here in this space. Also, in July I will be leaving for a month long hike along the Oregon coast. I'll be spending most of June getting prepared.

You ever feel like your vulnerability can lead you to a path of resentment? Confidently you start off baring your truth, only to recoil at yourself because seemingly, there is no reciprocity or care of this fragile thing you exposed - perhaps not the way you wanted it. Not the way you expected it. Once you've shown or exposed that soft spot, you suddenly feel shameful or too much. Maybe you gave too much. You cared too much. Always kind of echoing in the back of your mind, "why do I care so much, why do I care so much, why do I care so much?" starts forming like god damn bramble shoots, taking over everything. 

Then begins the slow construction of a wall. Laying it in front of yourself, brick by brick. But you build it about chest high, so you can still see the person/people on the other side and talk with them... but they can't completely reach you. You're protected yourself to the point of letting nothing in and nothing out. They can't see much, neither can you. You're able to dip down when you feel like it, to feel secure again and maintain your safe space.

This wall prevents full expression of my self, a compassionate expression. It's coming from a place of fear. Fear of loss and hurt. So when I act in the world, or with people I care about - it is distorted. It's laced with paranoia, anxiety, mistrust.

I roll my eyes into the back of my skull, I. Do. Not. Want. To. Look. At. This.

This is how I have felt the past few days, or several, really.

Annoyingly, I keep getting fours. Rest/withdrawal refusal/indignation. My deck knows me, the cheeky shit. It won't let me hide. Too many times I've pulled the same cards back to back the past few days. For me, this was the recognition and affirmation that I needed to get my head straight.

FOUR OF CUPS

Super fixed tepid water, this card. This outright refusal of an offering, a magic, magic thing just hovering right there. Too focused on the issue at hand to notice a way to solve it. An answer, a helping hand, a helping spirit, a helping cup of tea. Even the tree friend has this closed up persons back, if only they opened up. They seem to be content to sit with their problems.

Four of Cups - resentment vulnerability healing

Finally, it dawned on me...

How can I let go of my resentments and heal from my hurts?

Sometimes, when you're really in the thick of it, you can't see that helping hand, tree friend, person, spirit. All you can see is your sick vision. So, this is what I got:

Wild Unknown - Strength Ace of Pentacles and 9 of Wands

Here we have Strength. In this case, it is the willpower to calm those wild inner emotions with love and compassion and tame them. This doesn't happen through mentally whipping and lashing ourselves, but by caring for that hurt and pain. We're going to suffer in this life regardless, why create more monsters or feed those monsters by being harsh with ourselves? It takes emotional willpower and inner strength to turn and face these aspects of ourselves.  To cut through the fog and find that root cause of our reactions and resentments that we carry with us. 

Despite wounds, being cut or even say if it was a healthy trimming away and letting go, there's an abundance of growth to come from it. Healing is occurring with recognition of our hurts and resentments. If we can summon up that inner resolve to face them, heal and evolve from them, our inner core can shine brightly. We don't have to hide behind the wall we create any more. Safely, we can move about in the world in our true, raw brightest forms. The center of this cut tree is the heartwood, the very core of something living and sturdy. It shines on brightly, reaching through all layers of our life. An opening from the inside out.

Even with that burst of the Ace, it ain't an easy road doing this kind of healing work. Some days, it can seem like this is an uphill battle. Tripping and stumbling up the stairs. It's good to remember to be gentle to ourselves, especially if you're the type to suck it up, put on the blinders and plough on despite your hurting, lashing yourself along the way. There's a strength here though that goes back to the first card, as these aren't just nimble wands but great big sturdy logs. One foot in front of the other each day, slowly and steady. With perseverance, we can uncover what hides within us.

Much love to you all, as we tread our own crooked, twisting winding and brilliantly beautiful paths. 

Weekly Oracle + Guided by The Star & Away from Illusions

Over this weekend I was sitting at my table and my Wild Unknown deck (which I never use and bought for collector reasons) kept jumping out at me from the periphery. I have feelings about this deck which I hope to sum up in a later blog post. For this month and next month I am challenging myself to use it and see how we get along. You'll be seeing more of it here and in my instagram feed.

So, I don't know about any of you... but that full moon kinda sucked. It was rough, hard and heavy. I know I wasn't the only one in this camp of moon feels. It threw up a lot of insecurities into my face and I was, for a few days, sitting in a pit of despair and angst. I suppose when the light shines it reveals not the most pretty of things, but what we need seeing - even it it's not what we want to see and feel.

I think at the heart of this spread is the 7 of Cups. Emotional illusions based on some kind of conflict - inner or outer, that's where we're resting our cup. It can be hard to discern which is right, which is wrong because this overwhelming thing is at the very center of our attention.

Swirling all around is your hopes, dreams and desires though. Even though it can be hard to see past that cup, shifting focus back to your guiding star can help you break through the negative illusions that are not serving you. I mean, what are they really doing for you right now? Ask yourself.

What do we do when we gaze at the stars? We stop, we breathe we become absorbed by a celestial light. It can be opening and clearing for us. Even though the stars lie in the heavens they can bring us back to earth and instil a sense of calm and peace. It can help right us back on our course and set us forth in the right direction...

Through The Star, we can arrive at the Two of Cups. The manifestation of love in a multitude of forms and a connection to self isn't far away. We've just got to remember to look to the Star, remember, get back on course and not be caught up and derailed by those emotional illusions we can all create for ourselves. 

Spring Check In + Rein It In + Ground the Fire

In this post, I am digging back and checking into a year long spread I did for myself on Samhain of 2015. This has been an interesting process to see how things have manifested for me over the course of this year. You can read more about this elaborate spread I created, here.

The moment the sun moved into Aries I felt a fire lit under my ass. It was a very powerful time, full of energy, spring was unseasonably early (again). This has been a very, very good time for me and a lot happened. I felt like a thoroughbred, feelin' my oats at a full gallop.

7 OF BOWS - CLEARANCE

Back in... January, I cancelled my home internet. Best/worst decision ever. I feel like that was my manifestation of the 7 of Bows - Clearance. It cleared up a lot of personal space for me. Coming home from work was about reading, being quiet, sitting in the tub, journalling, cooking good meals for myself. It was awesome making that space for myself and I was able to do it for about 4 months. I just got internet about 2 weeks ago. It was a really interesting experiment. But ultimately, being a business owner without an active connection just isn't easy.

The reason? Well, it's really hard for me to get into any sort of blogging space. It was hard to do readings for folks. I wanted to work on labels for products I'd like to sell here. I wanted to do research, etc.

Let me tell you, it's really hard to get into any sort of creative mindset when you're sitting next to a woman who is wearing perfume that destroys your olfactory sense, hair metal is blasting and over all this in a busy ass coffee shop is a mother trying to read or rather, shout a book at her child. No thank you.

I kind of look at it as a detox. It helped reset my internetting habits. If you struggle at all with adult ADD, you know just what a devastatingly tempting mistress the internet can be.

Three of Arrows - Jealousy

Interestingly this had nothing to do with love, quite the opposite actually. I learned quite a valuable thing this spring: do not compare yourself to others. It sounds pretty simple, but it ain't. It's easy to look at what others are doing and wonder why you aren't doing the same, why you don't have the same, why you aren't as good, etc.

The grass is greener where you water it.

So, I was faced with insecurities, my fears, doubt, feelings of worthlessness. The best course of action during states such as that, is deep self-examination... find the source of those feelings and work on them, rather than complaining, lashing out, or making enemies. Also realize that what you have to offer this world is as completely unique as you are. The battle I think, is learning how to own that. And that's something I am working on.

Five of Vessels - Ecstasy

ec·sta·sy

ˈekstəsē/

noun

  1.  

    an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement.

    "there was a look of ecstasy on his face"

  2.  

    an emotional or religious frenzy or trancelike state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence.

I think ecstasy is something we can work towards, or try to cultivate it into happening. It can be coaxed without the use of psychoactives. It can come when least expected too. For me, this was more about recognition, honouring and surrendering to this state. Recognition of greater forces at work in my own life, an opening up and receiving of this kind of joy and happiness. 

Spring has been fantastic so far, but fires can only burn for so long.

In the past few weeks while multiple planets were/are retrograde, I took that as an opportunity to pull back from all the intensity of sun in Aries. If there's one thing I've learned about my Aries self, it's that we can burn hot and not realize we're running on fumes, then we crash and burn and recovery can be a right bitch! Cultivating good earthy stillness, drawing up nourishment so that flame can be fed...

Vision

This is where the Vision card from Earthbound Oracle comes in. Note the blindfold. This is an inner vision and exploration within the self. A kind of turning inward to amalgamate and metabolize all the bursting forth and activity that occurred during spring, which is where I feel I am at right now. Not about seeing with my physical eyes, but my spiritual eyes.

So, that's my spring so far.

Moving into summer will be super, super interesting! I have a big trip planned for July that I will be talking about here soon I think...

It's a little weird to me, to think that come July I will be living in a tent for a month while I walk north to south down the coast 🤔🌊

A photo posted by Britton Periscope@archaichoney (@archaichoney) on