Saturday, 2 March 2019

Double Glazing (Part Deux)

Last Wednesday night we had a phone call to confirm that on Thursday 'the men' were coming!
     'What time?' I asked
     'Eight a.m.'
     We were (of course) up extra early on Thursday morning so we could move things away from the windows, check that EVERYTHING had been removed, take down curtains and dismantle Graham's gaming computer which is in front of one of the windows - this meant unplugging various wires (will we remember what plugs into where?)
     At eight a.m. nothing happened.
     Nothing continued to happen until nearly nine a.m. when two vans turned up and I was asked to move my car so they could park in front of the house.
     MANY men got out of the two vans and began to unload MANY windows and two doors.
     'You are having all windows changed.' said a lad with a clipboard.
     'Not as far as we know,' I said, 'Only the big windows and not the back door.'
     'Which windows are you starting with?' I asked
     'All of them.' he replied and went away.
     Graham took the dogs out for a walk while EVERYTHING commenced.
     There were men all over the house, upstairs and down, and I was astonished to find that their first job was smashing our existing windows to remove the glass. I'd sort of imagined that they would run glass cutters around the frames and lift out the glass in panes, but no it was hammers, big gloves and pincers. And it seemed that, yes, it was all of them at once!
     By the time Graham and the dogs returned I was sitting in a very breezy living room, with openings to either side - well at least I was getting plenty of fresh air.
     Once all the windows and doors were off, the openings were checked, slight adjustments made to the ready-made frames and these seemed to be quickly slipped into place and secured with very long brass screws to the walls. There was much galloping up and down stairs, hammering, banging, sawing and drilling, but soon they were on to the finishing touches. The windows were cleaned inside and out, sealant squirted around the frames and smoothed into place,and all grit and dust cleaned from the window sills.
     Just before they left we were instructed how to use the new locks, which Graham has mastered but I can't get the hang of.
     We also found that yes, ALL the windows have been changed and both doors.
      But the back door has a large dog flap and a large glass panel in it. Unfortunately the glass is frosted, so negates the whole point of why we wanted a glass panel - so we could see out into the back garden and watch the dogs and wildlife. But at least the dogs are catered for.
      They were all done by 2.30ish so only five and half hours of disruption. As soon as they'd gone Graham got the vacuum cleaner out and went round the whole house - it was amazing how much tiny glass 'sand' and pieces he picked up.
       The fire draws ok and the dogs are getting used to their new door.
       The fitted doors look nice, they are both black wood effect, and I'm sure the house is far more insulated, which we are told will make it warmer in the winter.
      It just looks a bit too swish and posh to be our home. We are no longer rustic and a bit country shabby.
       I am sure we will soon get used to it - and a few coloured glass bottles in the windows will help matters enormously!

     Incidentally, when I had taken this photo, I found that I could not close the new front door, so we shall be seeing at least one of the workmen again before too long!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Double Glazing (part 1)

After living in our (rented) home for thirty odd years, with single glazing, no central heating and one coal fire in the living room, our landlords have decided that we are to have double glazing fitted.
     They did ask us if we had any objection, which was nice of them, but as they are spending the money and it is their house we didn't think it would be right to object to it. Besides which we are told that it might make the house a bit warmer - and we could certainly do with that in the Winter!
     The first chap who came to look at the house for the new glazing, before Christmas, told us it was up to us which windows and doors were replaced, which surprised us, but sounded good.
     Our main concern has always been that we like our back door. It overlooks the back garden and has a large pane of clear glass in the top half, so you have a good view out, so we can watch the wildlife and also the dogs. Also we have a large dog-flap in the bottom part so that the dogs can come and go as they please, and you don't have to be up and down constantly letting them in and out.
     About a fortnight ago we had a second visitation, this time from a chap who needed to be inside to measure the windows and door(s) for the final fitting.
     Now this chap did not like us, our dogs or our decor (distinctly 'witchy') or the coloured bottles we have in the windows.

The only thing he actually said to me and to Graham, twice each, was that EVERYTHING needed to be taken out of the windows. EVERYTHING, do you understand? EVERYTHING.
     So we got the impression that the windows needed to be empty, but he was such an unpleasant chap, we didn't feel able to ask any questions or mention what we actually wanted eg to retain the back door.
     The only thing I got out of him that it would be around a fortnight until the actually fitting of the windows.
     But we had concerns after watching him measure EVERYTHING that what we wanted was not going to enter any of his equations.
     We told our son about the meeting and as his job is a building construction manager, he pointed out that as we have an open fire we need trickle vents in the windows and the phone junction box in the front window can't be moved by us, so he got in touch with the landlord's agents and spoke to them. They again confirmed (and also confirmed with the landlord) that if we don't want a back door fitting, we don't have to have one.
    So the window fitters are due on Thursday - so will we get to keep the back door? Will they have a hissy fit about the front window with the phone stuff?
    Will Bridie run away from home? will we be able to keep Tallulah from jumping all over them in a happy manner?
    Will the bottles make a triumphant return to the windows?

     Watch this space ...

Tuesday, 12 February 2019


It is amazing how well you can manage with only one working eye.
     A couple of years ago (well make that three) I'd noticed that my left eye was becoming increasingly foggy. At first I put this down to the fact that one of the dogs had jumped up at me and caught me in that eye with its paw, and I thought had damaged the retina. So I thought it might get better on its own.
     By the time I'd realised that it wasn't getting better, but was gradually getting worse, I had also got used to only having one working eye. The devil of it was that my left eye had been the stronger one, so the right eye was not quite so good to start with. But never mind, as long as you have one working eye, it doesn't make a great deal of difference to your life.
     Then in autumn last year I suddenly noticed that the left eye was starting to show signs that it too was starting to go foggy.
      When that happened I realised I was going to have to give in and go to see the doctor.
      Now, the last time I had seen our doctor was approximately 20 years previously.
       I've never liked going to the doctor, and especially as I have always been of the spherical persuasion and as I was growing up, whenever I went to our old family doctor (not the nice chap we currently have), whatever I went for, the doctor could somehow attribute it to my weight.
     'Oh, you've got ear-ache? Would you just get on the scales for me?'
     'Yes that is chickenpox, can you just get on the scales?'
     'Here is some wart ointment - oh and would you just get on the scales for me?'
      So much so that I have been on a permanent diet, or series of diets, since I was about ten years old and was prescribed amphetemines (which did nothing to help incidentally).
     Anyhow, I had avoided going to the doctor, but realised that this time I really would have to give in and go.
     Our current doctor is a lovely chap of Irish extraction who checked my eyes and said 'Yes, you've got cataracts in both eyes so I'll get you referred to the eye hospital in Hull. Don't worry it's really quick and easy. I was going to say that you are a bit young for having cataracts, but I'm younger than you and I had it done a few years back.'
     At the beginning of December last year, Mike (our son) took me to the Eye Hospital for an assessment, where they checked my eyesight and when I got to see the consultant, he read the papers, checked my eyes and said 'Yes you have cataracts in both eyes, I'll put you down for surgery on the left one, with a follow on, on the right.'
     So last week on the 5th of Feb I went to the Eye Hospital for my first surgery. There was a lot of waiting around as all patients were apparently told to turn up at 8 am and then seemingly randomly we all went through the build up towards surgery.
     At first the waiting rooms were packed with people, each patient had an accompanying person - usually to help them get to and from the hospital (we were told we would not be able to drive ourselves home, or go on public transport). So Mike again took me.
     The first process was checking blood pressure and making sure you knew who you were, why you were there and which eye was being done.
    Then we were given a series of eye drops, before which you confirmed who you were, why you were there and which eye was being done.
     Eventually it came to my turn and I was taken to be prepared for the serious anasthetic. The anesthetist and her assistant made sure I was a comfortable as possible and then did stuff to the eye both to numb it and to keep it from moving. They told me I wouldn't see anything during the operation, but as I couldn't see out of the left eye anyway that was no different to usual.
They'd also told me I would be covered with a sheet, with only the eye peeping out of a hole in the sheet - so I'd imagined something like a scene out of a horror or surrealist movie. Actually the sheet is suspended over a frame, so it is like being in a little tent.
     Once they started the op I did see nothing, just the odd glow or shadow or fuzzy coloured lights. There was nothing much to hear either, the surgeon spoke to his team quietly, and there was a noise a bit like a muted but high pitched dental drill. Of course I felt nothing either.
     I'd been told that the surgery itself would take around 10-20 minutes, but it seemed a lot quicker than that. I didn't have time to get bored or anxious, I was soon done and being wheeled out of the operating theatre.
     I was fitted with a plastic shield over the eye and told I could take it off at home after six hours. As the op was done using a local anasthetic, I had been able to have breakfast, and there was no need for any recovery time in hospital afterwards either. So with two bottles of eyedrops and instruction leaflets we were very quickly on our way home.
     The main things I was told was : don't bend down for 24 hours - if something falls on the floor, leave it! And: no heavy lifting for a week.
      It is now a week since my op and within a couple of days the sight in my left eye was as good, if not better than the right eye and it continues to improve.
     But the one thing that has really struck me is how vibrant colours are.
     Because the cataracts are very gradually making the world fuzzy, you don't realise that they are also making colours softer and more muted. I know that seeing contrasts was more difficult - a bucket of coal was just a black something full of black, I couldn't see individual lumps of coal - but to see just how purple, purple is, or how bright turquoise and pink are ....
     Now that is a wonderful thing.


Thursday, 24 January 2019

To Chew, or Not To Chew, That is the Question

When you are a small, inquisitive dog and perpetually hungry, sometimes it is difficult to know what you are allowed to chew, and what you should not.
     Until, of course, you have chewed the 'not' article or eaten the not-to-be-eaten stuff.
     So, washing-up sponges are not to be chewed. But if the humans have left one where a small inquisitive dog happens to be able to reach it, well that must be one you are allowed to chew and tear up into small pieces and scatter all around the kitchen.
     Except you know you shouldn't really.
     So when the human steams into the kitchen and views the scene of devastation, you really do feel sorry with your big brown eyes and your ears down and hopefully wagging tail.
     There are lots of things which are wonderfully crunchy, like the kindling sticks and logs drying out in the hearth. And those small cinders or pieces of coal mhm mmm so lovely and crispy.
     There is now a little pile of special 'Tallulah's sticks' which are cut from thin branches just so a small dog can happily chew them and (hopefully) leave the others alone.
     Now, about the chewy dog strips.
     After the humans have had their breakfast, we all go into the kitchen and while mummy sits on a chair, Bridie and Tallulah practise 'sitting' and each have piece broken off the dog strips until both have had a meaty strip each.
     And up to now, the opened packet of yummy, chewy dog treats has been put away out of reach of a small dog's nose.
     But small dogs grow. And this morning small dog had a look at where the packet was kept and woohoo! Tallulah could reach the packet!
     She was very quiet in pulling the packet off the top and onto the floor. And it took a little while to get the packet open enough to get a nose inside ....
     But they smelt soooo yummy. And, boy! they tasted yummy too!
     Until the bathroom door opened, and daddy said 'What are you doing?!' in a not-very-pleased tone of voice.
     So small dog hastily chased upstairs to find mummy playing on the computer. And there was something about the big brown eyes, and the sad ears and the love-me, love-me wagging tail, that made mummy say, 'Oh no! What have you done now?' and then, 'We know you are very sorry for eating the dog chews, but you weren't very sorry while you were actually eating them, were you?'
     Then daddy took Tallulah and Bridie out for a walk, and we met up with Molly and Baillie and chased about and rolled in the snow.
     The end.

Friday, 21 December 2018

A Ride With The Wild Hunt

This is a Mind Witching exercise which is particularly appropriate around the times when the Wild Hunt is said to be chasing across the sky, and Mid-Winter is one of those.
     There are many figures who are said to lead the Wild Hunt, and as this is a personal journey, you can decide which version suits you, your beliefs or your personality. So here are some examples:
     Herne the Hunter. Some say that Herne was a mortal hunter, a servant of the king, who hunted around Windsor Great Forest. Others believe he is a personification of the spirit of the hunt, the Horned God who can be both the hunter or take on the form of a great stag which all pursue.
     Diana, known as the Queen of the Witches is said to lead her band of Witches through the midnight skies. Or it could be the Queen of Faerie who leads the Seelie Court in a wild carouse across the skies, picking up mortals who take their fancy.
     Or is could be Odin, leading the riders through thick and thin, between the worlds on his grey, eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
     Sometimes the leader is unknown, and instead it is a great shrieking mass of ghosts and spirits who sweep past. Or they could be lead by Arawn, the Celtic Lord of the Underworld, or even Death himself.
      Of course, with the Wild Hunt one can never be sure, and the reality may turn out far different than you had prepared for. There is also the old belief that if the Wild Hunt is called, they cannot leave without adding a member to their ranks....

     For this working it is traditional to start by lieing on your bed. Old accounts tell of people who appeared to be asleep in their beds yet afterwards told tales of fantastical flights to magical meetings, so this working will emulate those accounts.
     For a start you can light a candle or two and some incense (I like Frankincense for this), but these are optional, and (of course) if you have any candles lit, make sure they are safe and can cause no harm.
     Lie down and close your eyes. Create your magic circle around yourself. You can use a ritual you are familiar with, or simply imagine yourself within a blue bubble.
     When you are ready you will call the Wild Hunt.
     As a Witch, I shall describe this in a Witchy way, but your experience might be quite different.
Diana, Queen of Witches All
Hear, tonight, my spirit call,
Catch me up and take me high
On your wild ride through the sky!
    You can say this out loud, or in your head. You can repeat the incantation three times, then be ready!
     You may feel a breeze growing around you, a wind whipping up. Or you might feel a strange trembling or shaking, almost like an earthquake. Or you might simply suddenly find yourself whizzing through the air, like a leaf caught on the wind.
     Enjoy the sensation, look around you. You might see faces, you might see Witches, male and female, some flying, some riding animals, goats, horses, donkeys, geese or swans. You might see some on broomsticks, and others just dancing on the thin air.
     Below you there might be the bright, twinkling lights of a town or city, or you might be flying over dark countryside, with just the odd light to mark the sparce houses.
     You might be above or below the clouds. Perhaps you can see the Moon and stars, brighter than they have ever seemed before.
     You can tell from the way the clouds and the scenery whips past you, that you are travelling fast. You might recognise the landscape below you, the shape of a river or the turning of a road, or you might find that you are flying over wild moorland and heading for a rocky mountain ahead.
     At the head of this wild ride is a chariot or wagon drawn by two marvellous creatures which seem to change shape as you try to focus on them. Are they cats, or goats, or perhaps even unicorns?
     The woman in the chariot has long, dark hair and wears a cloak which streams out behind her. She directs the horde, raising an arm and pointing to the mountains before you.
     Suddenly you see a bonfire leap into life and all around are points of light, candles or torches.
     The whole crowd of Witches heads for the bonfire, dropping lightly to the ground like leaves or feathers and begin an intricate, twirling dance on the hillside. They hold hands in a long snaking line and you feel your hands caught as you are drawn into the dance.
     It feels so free and joyful. You can dance as wildly as you fancy, you will not get out of breath.
     Now the dancers wind around the bonfire, forming a circle which swirls around the fire,
    Then suddenly they stop.
     You find a goblet in your hand. Look into it, what magical wine does it hold? Will you taste it?
     As you gaze into the liquid, you realise the face of the Goddess is looking up at you. You glance up and find that She is standing right beside you.
     'My child, what do you need?' she asks
     Now is the time to make your petition. What magic help do you need? What would you like the Goddess to provide? What would you like to know?
     Make your wish known to the Goddess.
    She smiles. You have been heard.
     And as quietly as She came, the Goddess is gone.
     Do you wish to stay and talk to others at the meeting? Some will teach you magical skills, others may tell you stories, or show you visions. There may well be spirits of loved ones here, people you have missed, or who you would like to tell your news to.
     Eventually the meeting will fade. You may fall asleep, or you may simply realise that you are back in your own bed, safe and warm, content and relaxed.
     Remember to thank the Goddess for including you in Her wils ride and magical meeting. You can ask also that you be allowed to participate again.

    Merry Solstice!

Friday, 7 December 2018

Why Mind Witching?

This is actually something I have done since I was a little child.
     I have always been fascinated by dreams, lucid dreaming and astral travel. My dreams have always been vivid, colourful and interesting - sometimes scary - but I have always remembered my dreams. It was a natural part of our family routine to talk about our dreams and look up the symbols in the Big Blue Dream Book.
     My dad encouraged me to write my dreams down and I have been keeping a dream diary for over fifty years now.
     As I got more into the occult and Witchcraft, I was fascinated by the stories of people taking magical journeys when they were supposed to be asleep in bed, in order to get up to mischief or attend magical meetings.
     Also as I have got less physically able as I've got older, I have found that it is possible to work more of my rituals using the power of my imagination.
     Many people have restrictions in their abilities to perform rituals and magic. It might be that you do not have the privacy, or restricted movement, or little spare space. We may live in the city with little access to wild open spaces and countryside.
     And these days even if you do live in the country it can still be surprisingly difficult to find a private, natural place to work a full ritual. I remember one time we ventured out into the woods, to a place we had picked during the day, only to find that night the same place was being used as a Scout camp!
     Mind Witching is very adaptable, so you can incorporate as much or as little into your rituals as is necessary or you want to.
      All magic involves mind power, because all magic works through the sub-conscious, our link to both primeval and universal energies and principles. Whether we realise it or not.
     So, if you have the room, capacity, tools and desire to set up your magic circle in a physical way, then go ahead. But if, for whatever reason, you are unable to do this then Mind Witching will still allow you to create rituals and spells and go on magical journeys.
     Personally, I love candles and incense. So even if I am not working a ritual, I may still have a candle or two burning and some incense on the go. So to do this as part of a spell or ritual I find no trouble at all, in fact quite the opposite. Candles and incense are to me two of the keys which start to unlock the magic and get the atmosphere and energy growing. Once these are in place, then how much of the rest of the ritual involves physical objects, words and movement will depend on how I am feeling.
    So never feel that you can't do a spell because you haven't got the right 'stuff' or the right place, or the right words even, the main element in any magical working is you.
     You are the magic!

Friday, 23 November 2018

Mind Witch Full Moon Ritual

The idea of Mind Witching is the dynamic use of the imagination to work rituals and magic. You can of course use magical tools, candles and incense to enhance these rituals, as pleases you, but this is a working created to show how any magic or ritual can be carried through using just the powers of the mind.
     For this ritual you can sit in a chair or lie down, or sit on the floor. It can even be done in bed if you are totally immobile.
     I would say that you are less likely to fall asleep if you are sitting up - but I know that I can fall asleep sitting up, so that is no guarantee. Don't worry if you find that you have fallen asleep, this usually means that knowing what your aims were, your spirit has completed the working on the astral planes.
     First cast your circle.
     There are many ways of doing this and if you have a ritual that you are happy with, then use that.
     If not, then the simplest and easiest way to cast a circle is simply to imagine yourself sitting or lieing within a blue bubble. I always use a blue bubble because to me blue represents the colour of Witch Power. Blue is also a calming and protective colour.
     Take a little time to think about being surrounded by your magical bubble, this is your magic circle in three dimensions.
     Now think about the Full Moon, the bright shining disc floating in a deep blue sky.
     Imagine that the disc of the Moon becomes the face of a beautiful woman, with dark hair streaming over the sky. Now say, or think:
Lovely Goddess of the Moon,
fill me with your magical light.
     Try to imagine your blue bubble filling with the silver glow of moonlight.
     Take your time.
     You might 'see' the energy like a bright moonbeam flowing from the Goddess and into your circle, filling it with glowing energy. Know that with every breath that you take you are breathing in that energy and taking it deep within yourself. Feel it filling you and making your whole body glow with moonlight and magic.
     When you are ready, use that energy to create a magic spell.
     You could send healing to a friend.
     You could turn the energy into a shower of golden coins which rains over you, bringing wealth and optimism.
     You could use the energy to send erotic thoughts to someone you desire, and make them think longingly of you.
     You could radiate the light, making yourself a beacon to draw friends and magical companions.
     Or you could use the energy to move your magic circle, like a spacecraft, to a different dimension or realm, such as the Land of Faery. Or to the woods where spirit animals wait to become your familiar.
     What magic do you want to do?
     Do it now!

     When you have finished you can then say or think:
Thank you, Lady of the Moon, 
for lending me your power, to work my magic.
     Then imagine the Moon glow fading until your circle returns to its calm blue colour.
     At this point you could have a little something to eat and drink. This both celebrates your successful magical operation and also helps to 'ground' you and make sure that you are fully back in this world.
     However if you have fallen asleep that is fine, as sleeping within the blue bubble does mean that you will have a good sleep, and be magically protected at the same time.

     Incidentally, if you ever suffer from nightmares, put the blue bubble around yourself, and they will be banished.

(the book 'Mind Witch' by Chris Sempers is available from Raven at £8.95 plus p&p)