Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Well, happy new year! 2022 was a very busy year, and things don’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon. Sadly, we ended the year with the loss of a very dear family member on the Winter Solstice, which was utterly heartbreaking. It really brought into focus the time of year, and how the seeming “death” all around us in the heart of winter here in the UK is not just an abstract concept, but something very real, very visceral and which changes lives forever.

Yet the cycle continues, and even in these dark days I can notice the longer daylight hours, the difference in the birds’ song in the mornings, the buds slumbering on the tree branches and the beginnings of snowdrops. There is always hope, if we just know where to look.

This year will be a year of writing for me. I already have this blog, and I write for my community at Patreon, but I am also starting my new book: a follow-up to The Path of the Hedge Witch, which came out in October 2022. I’m excited about writing again, after over a year of editing, fine tuning, marketing and all the other bits and pieces that come with releasing a book. It’s nice to get stuck into a new project!

I’ve still also got my YouTube channel, however I think I will only be posting about one video a month there, as my time will be devoted first and foremost to my writing this year. It’s been a wonderful experience working with the medium of video, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

My own personal practice continues, both as a Druid and a Hedge Witch. With regards to teaching, we had a great time at the Introduction to Wicca and Witchcraft sessions in Woodbridge, Suffolk last autumn. It was nice to teach in-person again, locally too! The Introduction to Druidry online course is going well, and I also offered an Introduction to the Goddess, Freya on my Patreon community last autumn, which was well received. I may make that course more widely available this year, so keep an eye out for it here and on my website.

This year for me, personally, I am focusing on deepening my relationship even further with the gods, and also my connection to the land where I live. I’ve always felt like my heart has been in two places at once, having grown up in Canada but moved to the UK in the late 90’s. I need to carve out more time from my busy schedule to commune with the land and its inhabitants. I also need to re-establish a daily meditation practice, as that slipped away bit by bit last year. A daily practice of communion with the gods through prayer and meditation is always a good thing. I’ve also made a little space for my house wight next to the hearth, and hope that they like it – I’ll keep you posted!

Our garden still has its regular visitors, day and night. The muntjac deer always come round late afternoon for tea (bird seed and peanuts), the magpies tagging along as well as the ubiquitous pigeons. We also have collared doves, the occasional small group of fallow deer, jackdaws, crows, hedgehogs, pheasants, owls, badgers and various neighbouring cats each day. Yesterday I even spied a falcon, most likely a young kestrel, sitting deep in the branches of a massive ash tree on a neighbouring property behind my hedge. Wonderful!

I spent the winter holiday period with my family in Canada, and it was so good to see and be in the snow again. It’s been five years since I’ve experienced snow like that, and the colours, the sounds, the smells were all just such a joy. I adore snow, but we don’t get much, if any at all, here on the Suffolk coast, and so I was delighted when the plane landed in a blizzard. We had several feet of snow over the holidays, and when I left we were flying through yet another snowstorm. Great for outdoor lovers of winter activities in Quebec!

I hope that this year brings you joy and abundance, peace and lots of good will. May your words be kind, your thoughts be clear and your voice be strong. Blessings to you!

Beauty Companies’ Dirty Little Secret

Since 2017, when plastic microbeads came under the spotlight, there was much commotion to get this “ingredient” banned from cosmetic and skincare products. Great, you might think, because they succeeded. But did you know that there are tons of other microplastics out there that are still perfectly legal, and have been since the 1960’s?

Some of the main culprits are:

Dimethicone

Polyethelene

Acrylates Copolymer

Carbomer

These legal microplastics show up in shampoos, facial cleansers, moisturisers and lots of other products. Often they are used as thickening agents. Seems like good old corn starch isn’t really good enough anymore. There are other microplastics out there – look out for anything that has acrylic or acrylate in the word, or a polymer of any kind.

Some beauty brands, like Avon, have been against animal testing for over 30 years. Great, you might say. But I recently found out that around 80% of the products I looked at have microplastics. Many of these products used to have their ingredients listed on the website, so you knew what you were buying before you actually made the purchase. However, I have noticed that since the increased use of microplastics in their products, they have stopped listing ingredients for many of their skincare and beauty products on the website, and all of those with unlisted ingredients contained microplastics. It seems Avon is cottoning on to the fact that we are becoming more aware of what is and isn’t acceptable.

Even companies like The Body Shop are still using microplastics. There is Acrylate Crosspolymer is their Microdermabrasion Vit C facial scrub, for instance. It was also in their Satsuma Body Scrub, which is now no longer available.

There are some good websites that go into detail about the legal microplastics still available for companies to use in their products. There is also a petition to get the EU to ban ALL microplastics. As the companies refuse to take responsibility for their actions, it’s up to the consumer to be informed on every purchase. Which is, I know, a right pain the arse. But if we care enough about what kind of world we are leaving to our descendants, and to all life, then we must take the extra few seconds to read that ingredients list, read up on the latest information, and stay aware.

Some articles to help you get started on microplastics are:

Get to Know Your Microplastics

Get to Know Your Microplastics Part II

For a wonderful company in the UK that is totally plastic-free, has 100% recylable packaging, offers refills through the post and also student and NHS Key Workers discounts, see UpCircle for their great skincare products. This is a personal recommendation, not a paid promotion 🙂

After the Rain

There was a break in the towering clouds, and I had finished work early. I grabbed my camera and headed out on to the heath. About half and hour in, and the heavens opened again. I sheltered under some old oaks, their guardian presence peaceful and comforting. As the rain passed, a rainbow came out, shining bright across the heath. I came upon the deer, with the deer rut having now started and the stags proudly strutting their stuff. This is magic.