Diary Of A Folk Witch: The Witch’s Garden, Prayer, Cerridwen, And The Importance Of Self Care.

Date: 16th May 2022
Moon Phase: Full Moon/Lunar Beltane
Place: Lancashire, UK

For the last few weeks, I have been sheltering in the womb of self care and retreat.
With the easing of Coronavirus restrictions over the last few months, I have found the world is steadily going back to ‘normal’. With ‘busy-ness’ increasing and the world speeding up back into the pre-Covid hustle and bustle of 21st century living.
This, for me, has become an intolerable situation. Where I am, of course, overjoyed that restrictions are easing, Covid numbers of infections are decreasing etc, the idea of returning to what was considered ‘normal’ prior to the pandemic is my idea of hell! You see, prior to the pandemic my life was a busy mess. A constant stream of appointments and a pressure to ‘get better’, to not be disabled, and go back to work. Something, that was impossible. After all, it’s not like one can wake up one morning and decide they are no longer sick or differently abled…
Where the pandemic brought me a lot of pain and sorrow from the losing of multiple family members and friends to Covid 19, it also brought me a lot of peace, quiet and second chances!
Like many, lockdown forced me to re-evaluate my life, the direction it was heading in, what I was passionate about, and what I wasn’t.
I knew it was unlikely that I would ever be well enough to work for another person, but perhaps there was a way I could work for myself, to find a job I was passionate about, and fit it around my needs of flexibility. After all, just because someone is differently abled doesn’t mean they are useless. This seems to be an unconscious bias I encounter a lot. The feeling of “well, if they are disabled or sick, they aren’t much use for anything”.
This mentality is not only damaging, but fundamentally wrong! In many cases, all those with ill health or disability need is accessibility and flexibility to be able to be ‘productive’ members of society.
I knew I had three passions outside of my family life, and they were my spiritual life, my writing on the occult, and eventually being fit enough to become a Birth Doula, and, either a naturopath or medical herbalist (to further compliment my Doula work).
With a clear plan of action, I signed up for various courses throughout the pandemic. I started my two spiral training to become a Priestess of Cerridwen (to satisfy my spiritual development and enhance my folk magic practice). I completed my infant loss and awareness training to compliment both my Doula and my Priestess training (as Priestesses/Priests of Cerridwen are also death Priestesses/Priests and death companions), I became a qualified Hypnobirthing Teacher (a branch of hypnotherapy that supports pregnant women through birth) and successfully trained to be a Birth Doula.
As well as all of the above, I launched the website you are now on, and began embracing my passion for writing. I’m using the proceeds of my premium content subscriptions to save up to train to be a naturopath!
Life is exciting and until about a month ago I was busy in all the right ways.

If I have learnt one thing throughout the pandemic it is that being busy is not always what is exhausting, it’s being busy with the wrong things, the things that do not feed your soul, that make you feel depleted and empty.

About a month ago, I found my body was showing signs of ‘crashing’ or ‘hitting the wall’. Both terms used within M.E/CFS and Fibromyalgia communities to describe either a minor or full relapse. Relapses can have many causes, both physical and emotional. And this crash was being provoked by both…
I had unfortunately experienced virus after virus during the winter months and the sudden increase of negative busy-ness due to lockdown restrictions easing was making my body pay the price.
I knew there was only one thing I could do, hit the breaks and take some self care time. Something, that many of us, especially for those of us in roles where we are carers, community leaders, and the like, find difficult.
It’s a theme I see come up regularly with other fellow Priests and Priestesses of Cerridwen. I often hear fellow Cerridwen sisters say things like “I’m great at caring for others, but I find it so difficult to take self care time for myself”. I have also seen nurses and carers make similar self reflecting remarks; it seems to be a trait for those who desire to do community care or healing.

A ladybird sunning themselves upon our lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis).

Knowing that I needed to take self care time, yet also acknowledging that I find this aspect of life difficult, I went out into the garden to connect with Cerridwen and pray.
For me, prayer is not all about kneeling or laying prostrate at religious symbols and the begging of deity for something. For me, prayer is a form of celebration and sacred connection. A time when I sing, dance, drum, speak poetry or invocations and just connect.
That day’s prayer took the quiet form of wandering around the garden and admiring the beauty of the awakening blossoms, especially the gorgeous apple flowers!
As I stroked the blossoms, I quietly invited Cerridwen into the garden with me and to enjoy the beauty too. I felt Cerridwen almost immediately. A heavy and dark presence. But not the heaviness and darkness one may associate with anything negative. No, Cerridwen’s darkness is like that of the comforting night sky, or your darkened bedroom at the end of a long day, when you settle into bed to enjoy the rest that night brings, or even the dark sanctuary of the womb, a place that nurtures life for nine long months before a baby sees the beauty of light and their mothers smile.
And the heaviness sensation? That to me is similar to an energetic hug, or the feel of one of those weighted blankets many people use for anxiety or insomnia.
I think everyone hears/communicates the gods in their own individual ways. For some, they may physically hear a deity speak, others may feel messages, some may see pictures in their mind, or participate in some form of automatic writing or automatic painting. Some even hear deity speak in dreams. For me, it’s a feeling of knowing that Goddess is speaking. Like an internal dialogue and also experiencing their presence in my dreams. The former happened in the garden, where I felt Cerridwen say to me “Self care isn’t all about sitting around doing nothing you know. Self care is also following your passions, getting rid of toxic influences and laying down boundaries”.
“Of course” I thought, “You’ve said similar before”. As with others who work with Cerridwen, I often find that she has a very brusque and to the point way of communicating. Not necessarily unkind, but certainly in an almost matriarchal no-nonsense manner. Like an old school hospital matron who knows both her craft and what is good for you, and you can either like it or lump it!
“I know I’ve told you this before. And I will keep saying it until you don’t just ‘know’ it, but understand it and practice it!”.
That was the full extent of our brief talk that day. I felt a cold prickle of spring rain hit the back of my neck and it brought me back into the moment of every day reality almost instantly! But the rain was not unwelcome. No, it made me smile. I love the rain, it cleanses the soul, washes away the old and nourishes the earth.

Three of our hens, Clutterbuck, Hopkins and Pumpkin.

I continued my stroll around the garden, taking in every beautiful thing I saw. From the chickens wandering around and pecking for worms, to one drake chasing another to establish superiority amongst the duck flock.
As I ran my fingers through the dampened lemon balm, it’s fragrance was lifted into the air and caressed my face with it’s soothing aroma. “This is self-care” I whispered quietly. “This is my place of magic and beauty“. I thought about how beautiful our garden was, despite living here for only a year, my husband had managed to plant so much for us, including a moon garden (for me!) a place for much of my medicinal and magical herbs… wormwood, chasteberry, sage, sweetgrass, mint, roses, and much more!
Other parts of the garden have sprawling brambles and vines that will gift us both raspberries and blackberries later in the year. Both apple and elder trees are beginning to establish themselves, and perhaps next year will yield a good bounty. The front garden has a plum and another apple tree. The vegetable patches are nurturing potatoes, squashes and more!

Apple beggining to bud now the blossom has gone.

But rain was beginning to fall harder now, and I knew it was time to go inside.
Over the following two weeks, my garden has become almost exclusively my altar, my space of sacred connection and meditation time, and where I would recite my Priestess prayer to Cerridwen.
I have seen the apple blossom fall away, and tiny apple buds come about from the star like stalks, and I have quietly watched the huge poplar tree at the bottom of the garden set loose it’s fluffy white seed! Which floats down to the ground like cotton wool snow! On afternoons like the day before yesterday, the floating poplar seed looked like a blizzard swirling in the stirring wind!
These quiet reflections in the garden offered me time to reconnect and re-evaluate what is important to me. That being busy is not always the height of achievement and productiveness, especially when you pay for it with your health – an unsustainable currency.
I will be uttering a promise to myself under this full moon. That from now on I will wholeheartedly pursue only what brings me joy! Anything less makes me unwell and is unsustainable on all areas of my life and spirit.
Living for your passions is not always easy, especially when you rely on it to make a living. But I believe the dividends pay off in other ways. In the smile on your face, the song in your heart, the healthy vitality that pulses around your body, the positive effect upon your mental health and the happiness in your relationships, and so on!
No, I’m not raking in the pennies yet, and yes, my husband has just been made redundant. But sometimes life and fate clear the decks in order for new and better things to come along. And I believe that is what is happening now.

As I sit here typing this journal entry, I am blessed to be able to look out of our large patio doors and have about an 70% view of our gorgeous garden. My husband is putting the ducks and hens away for the night, dusk is setting in and a slight breeze is making my newly bloomed rose sway from side to side, in a soft and graceful dance.
I have seen a lot of transitions recently, both within the garden and within my life.
Watching the apple tree go from winter bare, to blossom and then to apple bud has reminded me of the beauty of the cyclic nature of… well, nature.
Everything has it’s rise and it’s fall. It’s summer sun and autumn fade. This evening, as I took a photograph of my first rose of 2022, I secretly wished that it would bloom all year round, so that I could always enjoy it’s beauty. That is when I felt Cerridwen speak, suddenly and unexpectedly… “Nothing blooms perpetually. We all take our rest and come back in full colour. That is the true beauty of self care”.
How deliciously perfect, poignant and true! Not one of us are on our top game 24/7, and that is one reason why we take time to prioritise self care. Not because we are necessarily failing to bloom, but to ensure that we can expand, bloom and shine like the stars that we are.

I think that as Witches, Wise folk, Priests, Priestesses, community elders etc, we often focus solely on the needs of others, from our loved ones to our community. But it is important to know we cannot fill others cups if our own pitcher is empty. So, whatever you’re doing this week, make sure your pitcher is full, you’re living or working towards your passions, and you’re allowing yourself some self care!

From the time, mists, and distance between us, blessings from me to you.

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