Saturday, 16 January 2021

Crochet Garden

 One of the first things I saw, when I started looking at crochet on the internet, were pictures of wildly colourful, beautiful, amazing pieces which I found out was known as Freeform Crochet.

    My heart sang when I saw them and I longed to be able to make something of that ilk.

    These last few months I have been working on a piece which I have absolutely loved doing. I have called it a Crochet Garden and I did put a few pics up some time ago, showing the work in progress. Over the christmas break, I have finally managed to get it to what I feel is its finished state. The last stage was sewing in many, Many, MANY ends which I had left long in case I wanted to join other pieces on - that took ages!

    Anyway, to me this piece is a representation of the beauty and exuberance of nature, which we try to encapsulate in our own gardens. Everyone's garden is unique and reflects the individual personality of each gardener. Some are formal, restrained and colour-co-ordinated, others are wild and windswept, so my 'garden' also reflects my love of colour, shapes, creativity, crochet and even my connection through spirit with the enlivening energy of Nature.

    In my garden is every shade of green I could find, all linked as spirals, the form of growth, the shape of snails and of ammonites and found carved on ancient monuments as a symbol of life, death and re-birth.

    The flowers are both simple and complex, flat and very three dimensional. Some are based on living botanical plants, others are mere whimsy or flowers of the imagination.

    There are many variations of roses, these are, to me, the archetypal garden flower. Forming one edge of the piece is my version of a very large foxglove in a variety of shapes of purple and lilac. These are native wild flowers, lovers of woodlands and wild places, but also found in our gardens. They are the flowers of fairies, nature spirits, the 'folk's gloves' and also of apothecaries and healers, the plant is beautiful but can be deadly too.

    You may notice at the side of the large foxglove is a smaller, dark version. This is the hidden shadow, found in the deepest woodlands.

    Also in my garden is a circular spiral pool, for tranquility and reflection, and nearby hidden amongst the greenery, leaves and acorns is the Green Man himself, the spirit of Nature who is both the giver of life to the plants and part plant himself.

    You may also be able to spot butterflies and bees, here and there amongst the flowers and leaves.

     This is a garden to delight the eyes and heart, a place where you can look and look again and still find something new. It is a place of colour to lift the spirits. Some of the flowers you see from above, others from the side, this was never meant to be a photographic representation of a garden, or a plan, it is a surface with curves, raised hillocks, bells and trumpets. Move your head slightly and there will be a different view, a new perspective.

    What is my garden? Is it a blanket? Is it a shawl? Is it a work of art?

    It can be any and all of these things.

    I don't care, I just love it.


Monday, 21 December 2020

Happy Winter Solstice

 Happy Winter Solstice!

    Today is the last posting date for first class UK mail, and traditionally when we have taken our mail to the Post Office today, then our Mid-Winter holiday starts!

    Graham decided to mark the occasion by buying us some magazines while he was in the Post Office come general stores, and has just presented me with a pile of magazines. He is presumably working on the premise that if he bought a few, there was bound to be something in there I like.

    So the choice I have is: Woman's Weekly - not seen that for years, that used to be one of my mum's favourites.

    Prima - because it has a Free Puzzle Magazine included - this is not one I've every looked at before, so should be interesting.

    Yorkshire Life: now this one looks the type of magazine you need to read at a table, cos it is sooooo heavy. But it also has a Free Calendar included (you might be able to see the way Graham's brain works - free = GOOD!)

    And finally Country Smallholding ........   nope, me either.

    I suppose I should think myself lucky that he didn't get 'Practical Woodworker', or a muscle building magazine. So if you want compact trailer with a custom UTV cage, or an electronic chicken door, or a packet of Layer's Pellets, this is the place to look - actually after a quick flick through, this might be a decent read!

    If I don't post again before, we hope you have a restful and stress-free celebration, and a much happier and healthier 2021!

Saturday, 5 December 2020


 I get the strangest requests from our customers and one of the most recent was 'Can you make me a leprechaun?' there was a pause while I thought about it.

    December is one of our busiest times of the year, when we have to concentrate on getting out as many orders as possible as quickly as possible, and so right now was not the best time to be making a 'one off'. Especially one I would have to research and had never made anything like it before.

    As I hesitated, the chap continued 'I don't mind what it is made out of. I know you like these little challenges.'

    Meanwhile Graham had realised what was going on and was hissing at me 'Say no! We are too busy!'

    So I compromised (ish) and said that I would make one, but I couldn't guarantee he would get it before christmas.

    Anyway, I had a look on the internet at leprechauns which could be crocheted, and decided that the patterns were either too complicated, or too pared back, or too big. I wanted something simplish and not too big. So the only thing I could do was have a go at it.

    I decided the head would be the awkward bit, as I needed it to be small but round, and it would really determine how big the body would have to be.

    I must admit I had several goes at this, and they ended up huge, the size of a tennis ball, or weird shaped - I had one that looked like a rugby ball and would have made a good 'alien' head. Eventually. after much pulling back and starting again, I managed to get a head the shape and size I wanted (I even managed to give it a bit of a neck, which I was quite proud of).

    Once I'd got the head made, I started on the body. The chest and arms were two 'T' shapes which I joined together. The legs were a bit more complicated again, as I wanted to make them in one piece, but with a bit of thought, and some more pulling back, I ended up with a pair of legs I was happy with.

    I stuffed all the pieces and joined them together, then had a think about finishing it off.

    According to some accounts leprechauns have red hair and beards, so mine had to have that, but I decided he would be a bit unkempt and wild looking. I also gave him some eyes. Then decided to have a go at making him a sort of top hat, with a buckled band, and finally a belt with a buckle too.

    The very last bit I did was giving him some hands, peeping out of the ends of his sleeves.

    I am quite pleased with the result.

    I think he is about 8" tall in total (20cm).

Sunday, 29 November 2020

How Does This Mail Order Thing Work Then?

 Now that was a question which floored me.

    'How does this Mail Order thing work then?'

    For me 'Mail Order' was something that was always around. When I was young, you could get ENORMOUS mail order catalogues from various companies. They sold everything from clothes to toys, household furnishings to musical instruments, record players to hampers. 

    When we started Raven there was no such thing as the internet, and we knew that our market was both niche and specialist, not something that everyone who lived in our area would be likely to be interested in. We knew that our customers were going to be dotted about all over the country, and the only way to reach them was through offering a Mail Order Service.

    So we started off making the Raven Catalogue. At first it was maybe half a dozen pages, printed out from our Amstrad computer, on a dot matrix printer. There was no way you could have pictures, so everything had to be described.

    Gradually we invested in better printers, does anyone remember the Gestetner printers? A huge beast of thing which you had to create stensils for and printed using big tubes of black printers ink. Then we got a photocopier! Yay! Pictures were in!

    Actually I tend to still draw pictures of our products as I feel people can actually get a clearer idea of details with a line drawing.

    Anyway, sorry got distracted there. So how does this Mail Order thing work then?

    It is a very simple thing. You ask us for a copy of our catalogue, and you will be sent, through the post, a set of catalogues. Our catalogue is divided into sections, to make it easier for customers to find what they are after, and to make it easier for us to update a section, rather than having to update the full thing. So you get: The Postal Bookshop - mainly our own books on a variety of magical subjects, written and published by us, and largely unattainable elsewhere. The Earth Treasures section - all gemstones and crystals, together with an index of magical and healing uses, so you can pick which gems are the ones you need. The Incense section, joss sticks, incense cones, natural resins, together with burners and containers. Magical Oils section, all of the oils/perfumes listed are hand made individually for each customer when they are ordered, ensuring the freshest and most individual products you can have. And the Main Catalogue which has all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff in it, divination sets, Witch Bottles, talismans, charms, jewellery, decorations for home and magical space, anything that we come across. A lot of the stuff we sell is made by specialist makers, and very often is exclusive to Raven.

    Once you have the catalogue, you sit down with a cup of coffee, tea or the beverage of your preference, and have a good read through. If you come across anything you fancy, you write it down on the Order Form (remembering to put your name and address at the top - please!) then send the Order Form with a cheque, postal order, or cash, through the post (Mail) to Raven at the address printed on all the catalogues and on the Order Form too. Yes we do take Credit/Debit cards so you can send us your card details if you prefer. Oh and if you lose your Order Form, no problem just write what you want on any piece of paper, as long as I can decipher it, all is well.

    You can also just give me a ring (01482 632512) with your list and card details, and I will take your order over the phone. I can also let you know whether items are in stock or have sold out, and sometimes recommend an alternative.

    Even if you are going to send in your order form to us, you can ring up and speak to me to reserve items for you, so that you know you will get the things you are after.

    We also send out irregular Newsletters and special catalogues of all sorts of limited availability stuff to anyone on our Mailing List. In our Newsletter, we try to keep everyone as up to date a possible with what is going on at Raven, and also include articles on magical topics, poetry, 'Dates for Your Diary' and even have a free section for people to put in personal adverts for pen pals or magical contacts.

    There are an awful lot of people out there who do not have access to the Internet. Or who do not trust the security of on-line sites, or who simply can't order online, or really do not want to. Incidentally when we first set up our page on Facebook, we could put ourselves down as 'Mail Order Company' a few years later Facebook scrapped this category, so we had to choose something else, which is why we are labelled a 'Bookshop' which is only a small part of what we do.

    We have been in business, doing what we do for over THIRTY years now. Our customers trust us, some of them have been with us from the beginning, and a lot of them have become friends over the years too, which is lovely.

    So how does this Mail Order thing work then? 

    Well, for us and our customers, the answer is - nicely, thank you.

Friday, 20 November 2020

 I know you must have been worried that there had been no mention of crochet for a little while.

    But fret no more - because yes, I have been crocheting, but I am working on a big, complicated and dense piece of freeform crochet.

    I decided I wanted to make something very three dimensional, but flat. So I decided on making a garden.The flowers vary from very small to huge and from flat shapes through to very pointy and roundy shapes. The 'grass' I decided would be all shades of green, but I would create it through spiral shapes.

    This is quite heavy to work on in one piece, so I make sections then join them together. The unifying shapes will be the green spirals, but I am having great fun with it. It is not going to be a square, oblong or any particular shape, just however the mood takes me. 

    I am enjoying the different shapes and colours, forms and textures. The piece so far incorporates sewing, crochet, applique, weaving and darning. There is even a Green Man festooned and hidden with leaves and acorns. The piece is nowhere near finished yet, but I am so chuffed with it so far, I wanted to show you where I am up to.

This is a small section I have just got ready for adding in

You might be able to spot the Green Man in the bottom photo, but he is well disguised.

    You can tell from all the random loose threads, this is far from finished, but I will keep you posted with how it progresses. 

Saturday, 31 October 2020

A Virtual Hallowe'en

 This year, we all know, has been very different to normal, and Hallowe'en will also be different this year.

    Because of Lock Down and social distancing, many covens and other groups have been unable to get together for rituals or any other kinds of meetings. And there are also a lot of solitary practitioners who always do their spells and rituals on their own.

    I was thinking about this, and about the many traditions of Witches and Gods and Goddesses flying across the sky to attend their meetings. This is also spoken about by Issobell Gowdie in her 'Confessions':

    'We will fly like strawes when we please; grass straws and corne-straws will be horses to us, and we put them between our feet, and say, 'Horse and Hattock, in the Divells name!' And then we would fly away, where we would ...'

    I have always loved certain pieces of music which have a magical aura to them and for me the one which gives the best feeling of a flying conglomerations of Witches is 'Night on a Bare Mountain' by Mussorgsky which was composed to give the feeling of flying to and attending a Witches meeting.

    But there are other pieces which you might find more appropriate for your kind of magic e.g. 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' by Ducas, 'Saturn' or 'Uranus' from 'The Planets Suite' by Gustav Holst, or even 'The Ride of the Valkyries' by Wagner.

    These days you can do a quick search on the Internet to listen to these pieces and many more, and select which suits you best. Whichever you choose can then be used in a Temple Sleep ritual to be transported to your chosen type of magical meeting.

    You can do this type of ritual in your sacred area, or simply in your bed.

    Bear in mind this is called Temple Sleep, so falling asleep is to be expected, so make yourself as comfortable as possible.

    If you use candles or incense, again bearing in mind that you may well fall asleep, so be very sure that these are safe and can cause no accidental damage.

    First cast your circle around your ritual area, or around your bed.

    This does not have to be elaborate and can be done in your head. Just imagine yourself surrounded by a glowing blue circle, or even a blue bubble.

    Then play your selected music. It can be any which gives you a feeling of floating or flying. And as you listen to it, imagine yourself flying over the countryside, heading towards a great magical meeting.

    You may wish to see yourself as a classical Witch, robed or naked, riding on a broomstick, or on the back of a goat. Or shapeshifted into a swan or goose.

    You may be flying alone, or there may be many others with you, some you can make out, but others are just vague shapes in the darkness.

    You can continue your flight as long as you like.

    you might enjoy watching the scenery passing beneath you, or the shapes of the clouds and the bright Hunter's Moon above you. It might be a clear and beautiful night, or there might be stormy winds and driving rain, which is not cold, but merely exciting. You might even hear loud crashes of thunder and see forked flashes of lightning.

    Your flight may well take on its own life and become something completely different from what you had imagined. Don't worry, don't be afraid, this is a fun night and you are going to meet friends in this world and from the worlds beyond.

    And all will be with the blessing of the Goddess and the God.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Spell to Deal With Corona Virus

 Now, I don't know about you, but I am just about fed up with my life being restricted because of the ramped up fear of the Corona Virus. This started in March and seems to be going on indefinitely, so I think it is about time it was dealt with.

    This is actually more of a ritual than a spell, but it is very simple and does not need lots of stuff. It can be done at any time, day or night, but pick a time when you will not be disturbed. Turn off your phone, unless you are working the spell with friends and using the internet etc to work together.

    Light a couple of candles on your altar, and some incense too if you can. I'd recommend something like Dragon's Blood, White Sage, a smudge stick or any healing or banishing blend. Candles can be any that you have handy, night lights are ok. To be honest I can come up with reasons for using any colour of candle, so use what feels right to you.

    First cast your circle. Do this however you normally would, but make it a good one, we need as much power as possible to see off this demon of disease. If you haven't done this before, just sit quietly and imagine yourself inside a glowing circle, either silver white or smoky blue (Moon Goddess colours).

    Now call your deities. You can say something like:

    Thou loving Goddess, thou protective God, I call thee here to witness my rite and to aid this work.

    For this spell you will need a plate with a deep rim or a shallow dish or bowl and some salt and water. This can be water from the tap and kitchen salt, these are fine.

    Dip your finger in the water and draw in the bottom of the plate an image of the Corona Virus, whatever you think it looks like - an amorphous blob is fine. From the illustrations on the tv it looks to me like a spiky ball, so that is what I will draw, a circle with lines radiating out from it. This also looks a bit like a crown, which also reflects its name 'Corona'.

    Dry your fingers then sprinkle salt over your drawing. Try to follow the lines of your design if you can, but don't fret about it, it is your magical intention which is important. You will then have an image in your dish/plate drawn in water and salt.

    Put this in front of the candles and waft some incense smoke over it. Then invoke:

    Lady and Lord, add your power to my desire!

    Know that as you say these words the Goddess and the God are also adding their magical powers to the spell. Then gaze fiercely at the image you have made in your bowl/plate. point at it with the index finger of your strongest hand, or with your wand or Athame, and say:

 Corona Virus, heed my words!

It is time that you were gone from us

It is time for you to go away

Your power to harm grows less

Your power grows less

Your power is less

You are less

You are little

You are small

You are gone

Are gone


    Clap three times as loudly as you can. Then relax, let the spell go and do its work.

    You can sit in your circle and have a sandwich or a biscuit and a cup of tea/coffee, glass of wine, to celebrate your successful working.

    When you are ready to end your ritual, thank the Lady and Lord for their help, then close down the circle. (Just walking through the boundary will pop it, like a soap bubble).

    Take your dish to the bathroom. Wet the image with more water and wash the image into the toilet.

    As you flush the toilet, say:

    Goodbye, Corona Virus, go back underground and stay where you belong!

    This spell can be repeated as often as you like and the more people who do it, the better. So please feel free to pass this on to anyone you think would like to have a go at it.

    Remember at all times in the circle, your attitude must be: I am the boss! I am in charge! What I say goes!

    You may notice that I did not specify a phase of the Moon for this working. To make something diminish then traditionally the waning phase of the Moon is used, but to increase health and strength, and your power over the Corona Virus, the waxing phase is used.

    But the main reason I did not specify this is that when you need something badly - and we really do need this virus to go away as quickly as possible - then I am a great believer that the Goddess and God will help us no matter what the state of the Moon and planets. And also that the best time to do any spell is NOW!