How I’m Overcoming Depression


Depression is an odd thing, an invisible illness that people are only slowly beginning to accept. This makes it hard for depression survivors to get the help they need, which is mostly to be accepted for who they are and not castigated for having a mental health problem, they are so much more, they can be artists, doctors, writers, lawyers, mothers, fathers. They can be anyone and anything. Depression in its various forms affects 1 in 3 people worldwide. Does that figure surprise you? Well, it shouldn’t really. One of the main things people with depression do is they hide their illness because they are ashamed of it, wrongly so but still it is not something we like to shout from the rooftops so the likelihood is you know someone with depression but you are just not ‘seeing’ the depression. Most of us put on a mask to face the world or we don’t face the world at all so we’re not seen. It’s not just that you can’t see the illness itself, its that you can’t see who has it because we try to blend in, to not draw attention to ourselves. But this is changing.

Gone are the days when people with depression were simply told to pull themselves together or were handed Valium by their General Practitioner. Gone are the days when most of us hid ourselves away. Organisations are springing up that want to remove the stigma of depression and other mental health problems. Celebrities are making their voices heard and talking about their own experiences of depression. Only recently Stephen Fry was seen to admit that he has attempted suicide again. He is bi-polar, which means he can be extremely high or extremely low and medication helps to keep him somewhere in the middle. Sadly medication is not the great cure-all. Most medications have side effects and most of them don’t try to fix the problem, they just make it so we can stumble through life like a zombie.

Denise Welch was on Loose Women recently talking about her depression and she explained it better than I have heard anyone explain it. It is not that we are sad, we’re not happy either, we are lacking in both. To add to that I would say we see no point in life if we cannot feel sadness or joy, to be forever pretending to be the clown when we feel nothing.  Imagine being like that for just a moment. Imagine watching your first born’s first steps and feeling nothing, imagine walking down the altar to marry a man you think you love but right now you don’t remember how that even feels let alone actually feel it, imagine your beloved pet dies and you think you should be ripped apart by it and WANT to be ripped apart by it, but you aren’t, you feel nothing. This is what depression survivors have been through and will go through several times in their lives.  Take it a step further, imagine that every few weeks or months you lose your dominant hand, you don’t know when it will come back and you have to struggle through without it until it decides to come back and work for you again. Imagine one of your feet decides to take a vacation, gives you no notice it is going away and does not leave a message to tell you when it is coming back. Now you can begin to imagine how it is for depression survivors. We have a bit wrong with our brain that decides every now and then to turn off our emotions, to leave us feeling empty.

But it is more than that. Now imagine your hand has gone on holiday with no warning. People can still see your hand but for you it is not there, you can’t do anything with it, you can’t do your job, you can’t do the housework, you can’t cook or wash yourself properly. The bit of you that is missing for you is essential to living as a human in a human society. You can’t function so you back away from society and isolate yourself, you feel confused that people can’t see you have no hand, you can’t believe that these people laughing at you and scolding you cannot see that you have no hand. You feel ashamed by their comments of you just being lazy or stupid.  What if your eyes went on holiday and left glass eyes in their place. You would be blind but people would not see your disability.  Now you’re beginning to understand. It is nothing that we can do anything about, it arrives with no warning and leaves again with no warning. There are no big warning signs flashing in front of us to tell us our emotions are about to take a time out. Some people get signals like migraine sufferers but not all of us do. Some of us can begin to recognise the situations that will lead us to depression but even if we can see it coming there is nothing we can do to stop it. Not without help. Medication can keep it at bay but having been on several I can honestly say that working through it on your own may be better, seeking counselling may be a better option. I’ve had Cognitive Behaviour Therapy but sadly during a bout of depression even though I can see the cycle I cannot break it, it is only helpful once you come out of the depression, only when you are moving out of the depression can you actually begin to take control and apply it. Medication, or at least those I have had, Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors mostly but I’ve also had Valium briefly, only mask the problem, they don’t really fix the problem. I have come to accept that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. But medication for depression feels to me the same as hormone replacement therapy. It doesn’t fix the problem, it only fixes the symptoms, you will be on hormone therapy for the rest of your life because that’s the way it is, that’s how our bodies, females anyway, work. We have the hormones then we hit menopause and we don’t have them any more, at least in the amount we had as youthful teenagers just past the nightmare of puberty. It is the same with clinical depression. I don’t have the ability to use serotonin properly. I either don’t make enough of it to cope with my body’s demand for it or the receptors are so addicted and starved of it that as soon as my body makes it it is taken up, swallowed whole and the buzz lasts until the serotonin is used up. There is nothing that can change that right now. And I have that on a daily basis, some days more than others, some days I feel normal or better than normal.

So how am I overcoming my depression if there is nothing I can do about it? Well, I have a friend who is a life coach and he came to see me one day after a few years absence from my life and he was shocked to see the state I was in. I wasn’t able to leave the house,  wouldn’t answer the phone or the door, had been to doctors, been on medication, had the CBT and been thrown off incapacity benefit. The doctor I had seen for my review was one working for the benefits office, had become so far behind in her appointments that I was waiting almost 2 hours, getting more and more anxious about being out of the house and in a strange environment, I was in pain too as I had a bout of sciatica. When I finally saw her I was so agitated I appeared to be quite hyper, she marked me no points for mental health meaning she thought my mind was fit and healthy and marked me just a few points for the sciatica. So I was out of work and without any income. I still refuse to claim benefits because I find the whole process humiliating and that won’t help me overcome depression it will make it worse, so I am avoiding that experience for the sake of my sanity. I’d lost my mother recently, lost my job, I was in a mess and having been kicked off incapacity felt worthless, felt like a fraud, felt like the dregs of society.  My friend came to see me several times and talked about his coaching experiences until I eventually opened up and talked to him and jumped at the chance to be coached.

So I am overcoming depression because I found good quality help and not just someone fobbing me off with drugs and half-assed therapies. Not saying CBT doesn’t work, after all my coach has basically been holding my hand through his own form of CBT, but that is the key, I had and have someone who can be my guide. Someone who can perform interventions on me when they can see me sliding back down the ladder into the abyss of depression. Someone who can step in and break the cycle and then show me how to break the cycle. I can switch my emotions on and I can switch them off, I can feel happy, I can feel sad. He doesn’t just try to cheer me up, he helps me to embrace sadness too. Happiness and sadness are what makes us appreciate human life and we can’t appreciate either without the other. CBT doesn’t do that, it just tries to get you to stop thinking of yourself as worthless, tries to stop you being negative, but that also stops us from wanting to be sad, and crying and ranting are as necessary as climbing the highest building and shouting at the top of your lungs how happy you are.

Coaching goes beyond CBT and drug therapy. It makes you examine each and every part of your life, shows you precisely the areas of your life you need to work on to be happy and teaches you how to embrace sadness so you can work through it, appreciate it and then look for happiness. It shows you the worth of living and shows you what you have to be grateful for and how to use that gratitude to increase your overall happiness, it changes the way you look at life, approach life, and live life. It shows us how to count our blessings even if we do not believe in a deity who bestows them. It shows us how expressing gratitude spreads happiness around, spreads support and understanding. I am grateful to have had the experience I have had in my life, I am grateful to be a depression survivor, I am grateful to my friend, Jon, for being my coach and giving me the helping hand I needed, I am grateful to him for showing me how to empower myself and arm myself in my battle against depression. Because of him I am more like me, because of him I see my past experiences as the the key points that have built my personality over the years for better or for worse. Because of him I can identify the areas of my life I want to change and those I need to change. I’ve made a start. I am Jon’s PA, I am a friend to several, I help others, I write blogs and stories. The coaching Jon gave me he did as a favour to a friend in need. I am paying it forward now by giving you a taste of my experiences, for thanking those who have helped me on the uphill battle by walking with me or by being a support to climb up on and by doing the best I can as a PA for Jon. And that is what it is all about, making the best of yourself and doing your best for others.

 

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Four Cubed


Lettie and I are finally moving into the cottage today. Business is booming, or should that be blooming? Joe kindly did a little maintenance around the flat and we paid up in full and handed the keys over to a very happy landlord, he thinks he can increase the rental value of the property now that the maintenance work is all done and he has spare cash to redecorate from the rent arrears we gave him. We don’t have much to do in the cottage other than move boxes in, unpack and tidy things away, which is probably a good thing as the business has a busy day ahead. Things have taken off really well over the past week. It was very slow at first but our floral therapy bouquets are …well.. we can barely keep up with the demand for them. We had a small add in the local paper the first week and got a few orders in and a few people came by the cottage to buy directly from us. Word of mouth is powerful advertising it seems. Our sales trebled in the second week and we’ve trebled those again this week. I’m in charge of the shop and stock today while Lettie is off out and about buying seeds and bulbs and root stock so we can start growing our own selection of flowers. We have been surprised by the amount of people choosing our purple bouquet, it seems people can be intuitive to the hidden meanings of colours even when they have not studied or trained. Purple is a powerful healing colour which promotes restful sleep and natural healing and most of our orders are being sent to hospital wards. Oh, incidentally, we’ve called the shop ‘Flower Power’.

I am exhausted! I ran out of stock by mid afternoon with a further 20 orders still to fill. Thankfully the local shops still had plenty of stock for me to unwrap , rearrange, enchant and wrap up again. I don’t know how much longer we can manage just on ordered stock, we really need to get our flower garden up and blooming as quick as we can. Lettie’s been studying hard with the books we picked up for her that go along with the courses she has qualifications in, poor thing is dead on her feet this evening too with that and hiking around to find suppliers. We are having a ton of seed and root stock and bulbs delivered over the following weeks. Thankfully Joe and Agnes will be able to help us out when they arrive to get us planted up and organised. Joe’s crops are already in and growing well and supplying their part of the farm shop quite nicely.  Just as well as we had an order just this week to see if we could manage an arrangement in vegetables as the patient was a hayfever sufferer. Purple sprouting broccoli (not to be confused with calabrese), red cabbage leaves and a few florets of cauliflower later and one non-allergic healthful bouquet was made. Speaking of hayfever, I am coming into my nickname of sneeze quite well, I hope that prolonged exposure will increase my resistance though. Oh I forgot to mention, now I am thinking of the farm shop side again, Joe and Agnes named it Veggie Might. Business is going great for them too, you see? the power of names is effective. (Incidentally the numerology of Flower Power is three and the numerology for Veggie Might is four!)

Evening falls and we eat lightly as we know we don’t want too much on our stomachs in preparation for flight training with Quoth. He was quite stern and a little offensive about it actually. But that’s Quoth. I am tempted to force a polymorph on him and transform him into a turnip or something. And yes Quoth, your bum DOES look big in that. Joe has found a spot close to the cottage which is quiet and visited infrequently so we have moved my granite altar up from its old home. We consecrated it at the last full moon so it has had a full cycle of empowerment under moonlight ready for us to use it tonight.

We cast the circle and invite the Guardians of the Watchtowers to join us and protect us. We transform individually into small birds, I chose a sparrow, Agnes a wren, Joe his familiar raven. Lettie, it being her first time, looks at each of us carefully and then picks another bird entirely. She chooses a grey partridge. We ask her why she chose it and she tells us it was her favourite bird to catch as a fox, plump and filling, she wanted to know the bird from the inside and alive, to feel its heart beating in her chest rather than pumping out its life blood as she tore its throat. Can’t argue with that I suppose.

We’re all set, we do a last preen of our feathers to check we’re all shipshape under Quoth’s watchful eyes. We do a warm up as instructed by Quoth.. I swear I have only ever seen birds doing these sorts of moves on Chicken Run. He’s pushing his luck, any second now he’s going to find himself facing life as a turnip! I heard that thought young lady, on the floor and give me 20 push ups right now! That does it! Fuelled by irritation I flap my wings and leap at Quoth… and I continue flapping my wings and discover I am actually flying.. well, I was until I realised it at which point I stopped flapping to look around me and plummeted back down to earth. Yes, go on Quoth, have a good laugh while you can you mangy little pipsqueak! I calm down as his laughing slows to a stop and realise that he had been winding me up to goad me into flying at him quite literally.

Now that everyone has seen how the goading works in getting us riled up enough to launch ourselves the rest let their controls down and allow themselves to be goaded to boiling point. Soon we are all fully fledged members of the avian society. We congratulate each other and thank Quoth for his odd but effective teaching methods. We turn to thank the Guardians for protecting us in preparation for closing the circle, but as we do, Paralda, Queen of Air, approaches us from her throne. I have never seen the Guardians move let alone cross into the realm of the circle itself!

“I have a task for you, as do each of my fellow Guardians. You have proved yourselves capable as a group of transforming yourself into chosen forms, now we would ask you to transform into forms of our choosing. We want you to conduct yourselves in these forms in your world without causing harm or destruction or fear in anyone or anything, you must only do neutral or positive acts. If you can do this for us, we will reward you with our powers added to yours even when you are outside of your circle, you will have a permanent conduit to us, something no mortal has had since the early days of your existence.”

This is a huge offer from the Guardians. My stomach knots and my head whirls trying to imagine what they might wish us to transform into. My companions are also agitated.

“The forms you will take will not be visible to your world, have no fear on that account, you will be as the elementals themselves, unseen yet working in the world for the benefit of a few or all. You will each take the form of each elemental in turn for four days and four nights between now and the next Esbat. You will each start with your own element and work around the compass points taking on the form of your waning element, your opposing element and finally your waxing elements. You know the order in which you each need to do this. Let us now thank YOU for this opportunity to walk in your world again.” Each Guardian walks up to us and bows to each of us in turn and then they depart leaving us quite stunned and anxious. I close the circle quickly and we hurry back to the cottage to talk about this immense opportunity before us, to plan out how we can each perform the task given to us by the Guardians.

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Four Squared


Three becomes Four

It’s been three months since we succeeded in breaking the polymorph spell on my Aunt Lettie.  A lot has happened and a lot is still happening. Joe, with some rather dubious contacts (don’t ask, won’t tell) has managed to procure various identifications for Aunt Lettie and with some diligent application of magick these documents are covered with glamour. They are completely authentic in look and feel and should anyone doubt them the glamour spell averts their mind. A …umm.. computer expert.. a friend of mine.. has done the necessary work to cover the documents on government records and helped me to embed a glamour into the records too. The less said the better I think. Now it’s not that we are wrong-doers, we would not do this unless absolutely necessary, we’re acting more like spooks, covering our tracks so the general public don’t panic and riot, it would not go down well if it became known Aunt Lettie was a few hundred years old.

We’ve made Aunt Lettie the adopted daughter of Joe and Agnes, they had a child who would be about the same age as I am who died shortly after birth. Lettie easily fits the age as she was only 24 at the time she was changed into a fox, the lengthy polymorph having kept her human form well though the stresses of her life since that transformation have taken their toll, she looks about thirty, a young looking thirty, quite like me in fact. We have worked for weeks on making a back story for her, planned her new date of birth, her adoption, her life as a young child, and her time from leaving school to fairly recently has been spent travelling the depths of Asia and South America studying the plant kingdom. She has a birth certificate and adoption certificate, a National Insurance number, a passport and driving license. We’ve managed to get her a qualification as a horticulturist and botanist, she has spent her time travelling to study so it fits that she has a couple of degrees under her belt and it also fits her own knowledge of plants as she was the best herbal witch and medicine woman of her time. She has a MHort (RHS), Plant Sciences BSc (Hons) and her most recent one, Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems, plus we managed to get her most of the reading lists for the courses so she has time to study to live up to her qualifications.

We’ve also been working on a way to support ourselves. Aunt Lettie is currently sharing my flat, we don’t have much of an income coming in, she has no job and my journalism has taken a nose dive. I don’t feel that writing a small section in the local rag is really what I should or want to be doing. It was fun when I got the job 8 years ago but the stories are waning and interest has dwindled. My contract is up for review in a few months and I am certain I need a backup plan. So we got our heads together 5 weeks ago and it was decided that as we were already so close it would be sensible to move in with Agnes and Joe and perhaps look at incorporating our knowledge into building a farm shop. The cottage is un-mortgaged now and Joe offered to sort out an extension on their property but we would need some income to help fund it. Aunt Lettie has managed to pick up a part time job in the town’s florist shop so there are funds coming in from there and I have spoken with my landlord and he has been very good in letting us stay in my flat in town until we have covered the rent we owe and are accruing the longer we stay on the proviso that we don’t leave him in the lurch and maintain the property until we have paid up and moved on. Seems fair to me.

We managed to get  plans approved in the council very quickly, Agnes worked hard on that one, providing dinners for the council members and being a very charming host. The plans would have been approved anyway but we needed them approved fast. It took three days. Building work started on the extension two weeks ago and is almost complete, the foundations were approved and now we just need the council to sign off the building work so we can get in and decorate and move in. Then we can really focus on getting the business up and running and getting income in so I can pay off the rent for the flat in town. It will be so good to move back to the countryside, I miss it a lot.

So business will be booming soon, well , blooming perhaps might be closer as we’re planning on going for farm produce and flowers too. Lettie and Agnes had a great idea for doing some floristry too. With our skills individually as healers and probably even more so collectively, we have decided on a twist to the usual flowers you get for relatives and friends in hospitals and care home and such. We’re going to do floral therapy bouquets.

So you may have gathered that Aunt Lettie is going to be hanging around with us for at least a while. We shall be focusing on getting the business going and then we’re going to focus on having some fun with our new found polymorphing skills. We’ve shown Lettie how we do it and she’ll be having a go with us at the next full moon after we open for business. And hopefully we will all be able to get in some flight training from Quoth too. We can’t wait, we’re planning, again, to head out to the Yorkshire coast and we do all rather have our hearts set on travelling under our own steam. We are now four, four individuals, four as a group, each with power… that feels like it’s four squared. Seems like a good, strong and stable base to build upon, another facet to our numerology. Four people with power in themselves, their names and their dates of birth, we should soon be four cubed and who knows where that power will lead.

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My Dad


Well, as everyone is doing the whole father’s day thing I thought I’d put in my twopenny worth

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My dad with cousin Dawn

My dad is 65, not overly tall and quite unassuming. He’s practical and thoughtful, witty and clever, still eager to learn things and remember things, lives his life as he wants to with the resources available, careful with finances and quite awesome at budgeting. Before retiring he was the man who put veneers onto bespoke furniture for schools and businesses. He’s also a joiner, he put the double glazed windows in our home about 25 years ago (with help from the neighbouring builder) and they are still holding the roof up quite nicely. He made them himself while he was working at a joinery company in one of the local towns. They are mahogany frames and you can just about tell that from the patches of bare wood underneath the chipping and peeling paintwork. He’s not had time to do much DIY in the house and for the last 7 years or so has not had mum around to tell him what she wanted him to paint next. Mum died from cervical cancer. So I guess my dad is also my mum now too. We both miss her. Dad never pushed me into visiting her grave, he knows it was enough to be at the funeral to say goodbye, that she is not in that cold, damp, hole in the ground. He also knows that mentally I couldn’t handle it though that goes unspoken, he just nods when I say she’s not there so why go. He doesn’t visit as much now either though he has kept it nice from what I have heard. I’m glad he doesn’t go as much because I know deep down it just made him hurt even more that she had gone and with a daughter who can’t get her act together, or couldn’t, my act is coming together these days thanks to coaching, he focused his energies on being mum and dad for me.

He doesn’t like it when I cry and is quite clumsy in dealing with it. Though when my beloved cat died last year he was amazing. I was sat sobbing in the kitchen when he came home from shopping. He hugged me til I stopped sobbing and then organised a plot in the garden for him. He bent over backwards to help me through that. We spent money we probably couldn’t afford on a few tubs and numerous plants to create a fitting memorial.. which have mostly been eaten by slugs, but that reminds me of the cycle of life and that my little ginger furball is off on new adventures in the same way that the slugs who ate the slug pellets will now be on a new journey too.

I think in that way I take after my dad. Whatever hurdles have been put in his way he has found a way to get over them no matter how long it took. Redundancies, fighting off repossession of our little family home, holding us together in a form of sanity when mum died and before that coping with her illness and helping me to cope with it too, fighting back to fitness when he almost lost his arm and his life in an industrial accident, supporting mum when she was not having a great time of things with her artificial leg (mum had been through the mill too losing her leg below the knee in a traffic accident at 18), supporting her through her final illness, supporting me when my aunt was visiting every day and adding stress to me. I was mum’s carer basically as was dad, we had a daily nurse, the doctors had told us to make the most of our time with her and I couldn’t move to have time with her with auntie under feet for hours a day every day, sitting around looking morbid or rearranging every single thing in the kitchen so that I had to go and put everything back the way it was. I understand she wanted to spend time with her baby sister too, but not at the cost of our time together or our sanity. Dad kept me strong though and made sure we both had a day to ourselves to get away from auntie. Auntie being the dimwit she is even after we explained we needed time out still offered to do our shopping so we didn’t have to go out. I may sound hard on her but she never took the most blatant of hints. Dad kept me civil through that time too, supporting me in what I was telling her and suggesting things I could do to stay out of her way. She made life hard for both of us in what was already the hardest time of our lives. Because of my dad my aunt still lives and I still have my freedom and most of my sanity.

My dad is the best role model I could ever have and I have done my best to emulate him. I am quiet and slow to show anger, not saying I don’t anger quickly, I really should have been born with fiery red hair, but he has shown me how to not fly off the handle as often as I would. He has the most stable temperament I have ever seen in any man. he stands and takes whatever is thrown at him and deals with it calmly, quietly, no fits of anger or temper tantrums, no surrender either. He is the embodiment of our Anderson ancestors’ motto “Stand Sure”

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He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland

And he is thankfully still doing just that. And I am still learning from him. Especially on the budgeting.

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Pet Hates 6 : Customer support


Specifically customer support teams and Specifically those who have no grasp of the British tradition of “the customer is always right”. I don’t do cow towing but if I am paying for a service then I demand clarity and respect because it is my money paying your wages, even if it is only a tiny amount of my money that is put towards your wages, the rest going in the boss’ coffers, the fact of the matter is that it is still ME and customers like me who are paying your wages.

I don’t want to be sat around for an hour trying to get an answer to a simple question while you go around the houses trying to force me into a more expensive package because deep down you don’t know how to answer my simple question. I want you to tell me what parts of the current package I have I would lose and what I would gain. What part of ‘are these channels included in such and such a package’ do you not understand? Why do you have to waffle on that if I want certain channels I need to switch to a higher package when out of all the channels I listed only one of them was not already available on the sideways transfer I was enquiring about.  A simple ‘that is not on the package’ would have ended the call very swiftly saving us both time and the company money.  Answer the question and let me formulate a new question after you answer it, this is how conversations work. I have no problem with staff who listen and then answer or ask what I mean, who ask me to be clearer, I can be clearer if asked, I can go into little baby step conversation mode if needs be. Don’t take me around the houses when the only outcome is you lose my custom as opposed to squeezing an extra £2 a month out of me (that’s all it would have been but because the service was so poor I decided against that and am very close to deciding to move to another provider entirely thus COSTING this poor customer service duo £46.84 per month in lost custom and possibly a small amount of commission.)

And now we go onto rude and ignoring the customer is always right. I have used this particular customer support service many times over the last decade and it’s predecessor for a decade before that. I have never been so rudely treated. I have never been asked for my FULL PASSWORD before. The man on the other end of the phone, was supposedly a line manager (as I was getting nowhere with the original chap I asked to be transferred which he eventually did with much procrastination,) asked me for my password, I asked him which parts of the password and he said all of it. I replied I have never been asked for the full password before and indeed you are not supposed to ask for it to which another argument ensued which ended with him saying ‘I know I am right’ and me asking him to register a complaint. Which I am under no illusion that he would do other than to write ‘customer is aggressive and abusive and is saying I am to blame’. Customer is ALWAYS right until they start screaming and shouting at you then that’s abuse. I maintained a firm but level tone throughout the conversation despite my rising frustration and sincere desire to have an entirely fictitious bout of Tourette’s syndrome… ticks, inappropriate actions, profanity, the lot.

I’ve done tele-support myself, in insolvency, you never tell the customer that they are wrong and you are right. If you cannot get your information across then you hand it to the line manager. You never raise your voice to a customer, you never say they are wrong and imply they have not got a full understanding of the terms and conditions and practises. Not when the customer has been a customer for 10 years. Not EVER. You let them rant and rave and then tell them how you can move forward, you answer the questions they ask as simply as possible, you don’t give them the entire legal process or make it up as you go along. You give them the facts, you answer what they want to know and you deal with their call professionally and respectfully.

#endofrant

 

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Clearing Cache Walkthrough


A step by step walk-through to clearing the cache on your browser in as plain English as I can. Some technical jargon is used which I will list so you can remember you learned something 🙂

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  • Identify which browser you are using A) Internet Explorer (the default browser with most computers) B) Google’s Chrome (secondary browser available on some computers and smartphones) and C) Mozilla’s Firefox. There are others available but these seem to be the ones most people use. Their icons (or clickable pictures) as they appear on your screen before you open anything (or start any programme) are as above. Now, I’ll walk through the steps one by one starting with Internet Explorer then Chrome and finishing with Firefox
  • Now, you are already in your chosen browser if you are reading this so have a look at the pictures at the top of each sections below to find the walk through that is the one you need. (If it is not any of the ones I have listed here then don’t worry, chances are one of the images will look similar and if you can manage to set up a new browser programme to surf the internet other than the ones provided with your computer then you might not need to be reading this). Follow any text that appears on each image for additional help but I explain what to do after each image also.

Internet Explorer.

  • with the drop down menu selected from the toolbox icon and highlighting your next move, you can see the next drop down menu available from where you want to be

    with the drop down menu selected from the toolbox icon and highlighting your next move, you can see the next drop down menu available from where you want to be

    with your mouse, move the cursor (or pointer, the arrow that moves when you move your mouse to point to things or select things) to the icon on your browser’s border that looks like a cogwheel. If you can’t see it, don’t worry, press the button on your keyboard marked ctrl and whilst holding that use the left button on your mouse to click on the image above to have a closer look. (this opens the image in a second “tab” so don’t be worried when you see things changing at the top of your browser screen. When you are ready to view it take your mouser to the top of your browser and click on the new “tab” it should look like those dividers you get for filing cabinets and will be labelled with the name of the picture. When you are done you can close that tab by clicking the ‘x’ symbol on it which appears when you move your mouse over the right hand side of each tab’s label or you can leave it open and just click the tab for THIS page when you are done to see the rest of the walkthrough.

  • Now you have found the toolbox, click it to open the drop down menu, move your mouse pointer thingy down to where it says “safety” to open the next drop down menu and from there, select “Delete Browsing History” you can’t miss it, it’s the first one on the list. Another picture coming right up 🙂
  • Now you should have this image on your desktop, floating in front of your open "window" or the browser screen. Check the boxes that are checked on this picture and then click the button that says "delete"

    Now you should have this image on your desktop, floating in front of your open “window” or the browser screen. Check the boxes that are checked on this picture and then click the button that says “delete”

    How easy was that? Now when you hit delete the floating window disappears and leaves you with your open browser. Not finished yet. Do NOT close the browser or go back to what you were doing until you see this next image below.

  • Job done.

    Job done.

    When you see this pop up on the bottom of your browser window you can safely hit the ‘x’ button on it and go back to what you were working on.

Google’s Chrome

  • I am going to be repeating most of what I said for the Internet Explorer browser
  • Chrome's toolbox and subsequent drop down menus. the one we want is highlighted and its own drop down menu displayed

    Chrome’s toolbox and subsequent drop down menus. the one we want is highlighted and its own drop down menu displayed

    with your mouse, move the cursor (or pointer, the arrow that moves when you move your mouse to point to things or select things) to the icon on your browser’s border that looks like a ­­­group of three horizontal lines . If you can’t see it, don’t worry, press the button on your keyboard marked ctrl and whilst holding that use the left button on your mouse to click on the image above to have a closer look. (this opens the image in a second “tab” so don’t be worried when you see things changing at the top of your browser screen. When you are ready to view it take your mouser to the top of your browser and click on the new “tab” it should look like those dividers you get for filing cabinets and will be labelled with the name of the picture. When you are done you can close that tab by clicking the ‘x’ symbol on it which appears when you move your mouse over the right hand side of each tab’s label or you can leave it open and just click the tab for THIS page when you are done to see the rest of the walkthrough.

  • Now you have found the toolbox, click it to open the drop down menu, move your mouse pointer thingy down to where it says “Tools” to open the next drop down menu and from there, select “Clear browsing data” . Another picture coming right up 🙂
  • Black arrow = this is what tabs look like red arrow = where you take an action

    Black arrow = this is what tabs look like
    red arrow = where you take an action

    Check the boxes that are checked on this image, where the first RED arrow is there is a drop down menu you can access to select how far back your browser is cleaned. This is probably the first time you have done this so select the longest time period. Next time you do this, which should be at least monthly, check the 4 weeks option, or lower if you do this again in a shorter period of time. Once you have done that, move your mouse pointer to the where the second RED arrow points and select the “Clear Browsing Data” button, not the other one that says “cancel”

  • This is not as clear as for Internet Explorer but as it works your cursor will be showing  an action in progress symbol with it, either  a rotating egg timer icon or a circle which appears to swirl. When it is done the box will disappear and you will be left on the settings page for your browser and can safely close that tab down.

Mozilla’s Firefox

  • this shot is perhaps not as clear as it could be, read further for clearer explaining of the image

    this shot is perhaps not as clear as it could be, read further for clearer explaining of the image

    So this time move the pointer to were it says “Tools” click and get the drop down menu as it appears in this shot and you will see that “Clear Recent History” is highlighted in blue on this shot. Click this menu option.

  • first arrow = first action to do, second arrow is the second one to do

    first arrow = first action to do, second arrow is the second one to do

    You probably have never cleared the cache before so on this new box, where the first arrow is pointing up to, click the drop down menu and select “Everything” then make sure the items are checked on the left as shown in this picture then where the arrow points down, click the “clear now” button. No big bells and whistles for this one, it just does it quietly and doesn’t tell you when its done but you can safely continue whatever else it was you were doing in the knowledge that once it has done its job in the background out of prying eyes then your browser will work a little bit faster and more smoothly, at least that’s the theory, I have not used Firefox for many months.

Enjoy a slightly faster and slightly smoother browser experience 😀

The Jargon List

  • Browser : this is the programme you are using to access the interwebz
  • Mouse: the piece of hardware you use with your right hand usually to move around the pointer on your screen
  • Cursor/Pointer/mouse pointer thingy: the image of an arrow that moves around on your screen when you move the Mouse (see above)
  • CTRL button : you didn’t know what this button on your keyboard did and now you do, it allows you to access functions of your keyboard or mouse such as when used in conjunction with the mouse to open a new “tab”. also known as the control button and often used in terms such as ctrl+click which is the action of holding CTRL down whilst clicking the left mouse button .
  • Tab : a new window in your browser (see above) that opens up along the top edge of the browser and looks like the little tabs on file dividers as you might see in a real life filing cabinet or if you have never seen one then the cardboard bits that actors shuffle through in prop filing cabinets on procedural television programmes such as CSI
  • Window : the discreet page of information you are viewing. Named after the Windows operating system from Microsoft. These are the pages that you view and use to interact with programmes. you may have them neatly piled on top of one another, neatly placed side by side, or, like me, here there and everywhere. All the windows you have “open” or in use are displayed along the toolbar at the bottom of your monitor’s screen
  • Toolbar : the bit at the bottom of your screen and also the rows of icons found on browser windows and programme windows with which you can select actions.
Posted in Technical help | 2 Comments

The Triumvirate : Spellweaving


So, all the bell’s and whistles, enjoy listening to some music while you read and become fully immersed in the creation of the sacred circle

We gather our tools, ritual clothing and ingredients together. We have the entire gamut of occult paraphernalia from wands to athames to swords, smudge sticks, candles, salt and water, robes in different colours, though Lettie’s robe is in fact a neck scarf, silver circlets for the ladies and gold belt buckle for Joe, musical instruments, guitar, bodhran, bells, pipes and finally a besom brooom for each of us able to use it. We have to sweep the area to focus our minds and energies before we consecrate the area as a sacred circle. All packed up in the car we head towards my altar stone taking the usual precautions to avoid being seen.

When we arrive, my spirit guide Lachlan is already waiting. He will be acting as the conduit for the fifth element, ether. Quoth is not with us tonight, we’re half afraid the amount of power we will raise tonight will roast him alive, and half afraid his sarcasm will ruin the spell. We lightheartedly threatened to feed him to Lettie. We start unpacking our things and laying them on the altar, Agnes brings out an altar cloth which she has been embroidering by hand over the last week and lays it across the granite rock that is my alter, our altar. Our boxes are placed on it awaiting unpacking, our musical instruments we place just outside of where we will draw the circle as there is no room left on the altar to store things. We each take a besom except Lettie, she will be humming to us with her mind as we sweep, it will help us to bring our minds into the correct state and she will hum at different pitches to raise the energies within our chakras, energy points located through the centre of the body aligning with the spine mostly. Agnes and I start at opposing corners of the altar while Joe and Lachlan start at the other corners, technically Lachlan is male in appearance even though he is an elemental and thus possesses the gender of his natural element, which is female, but on appearances alone he can be counterpoint to Agnes.

As we sweep we listen to Lettie, working our strokes back and forth and moving outwards in a widdershins spiral. Our minds relax and open to the notes of the background humming and as each note is hummed our chakras begin to grow and spin, the energy snakes up our spines like tendrils of smoke. We sweep at a rather stately pace, slow and unerring, sweeping back and forth, back and forth, moving in a spiral, the state of mind used for meditation and spellworking descends on us. As we sweep the work space clean we also make space in our minds, free of daily troubles and toils, focussing on the task in hand alone. Time seems to stand still as we sweep and the only sound we hear is Lettie humming our minds into waking sleep. Round and round we go cleaning twigs and grass, pebbles and droppings from our workspace and cleaning our minds and bodies of negative energy. We breathe slowly and deeply. If anyone untrained in the craft saw us they might think we were hypnotised. And in a way we are, meditation and the preparation for spellworking is a form of self hypnosis or group self hypnosis in this case.

woman_chakra

We come to a stop in our sweeping at the same point, where our instruments have been laid at the south point of the compass. Here we turn in unison and bow to the altar. We gather the instruments and lay the besom brooms as a lintel and threshold. This will be our door from the circle should we need to flee. Two form the lintel and two form the threshold, should we need to flee we merely need to raise the lintel brooms to open the circle

besom brooms

We move back to the altar and take out our ritual clothing, casting off the day-to-day clothes we were wearing and standing skyclad briefly under the moonlight. My robe is white and filmy with no sleeves, Lettie’s robe is a neck scarf of scarlett, Agnes’ robe is heavy, black wool with full sleeves. Joe will be wearing a yellow tunic of heavy linen. We each have an adornment too, one which represents our roles in the ritual, I am the maiden and will be wearing a silver circlet on my head bearing the symbol of the maiden goddess, a waxing crescent moon  or ) .Lettie has a brooch to hold the scarf about her neck, again in silver and this time with the symbol of the mother goddess, the full moon or O . Agnes’ circlet bears the symbol of the crone, or older wise woman, that of the waning crescent moon or ( . Together they form the symbol you may have seen previously, the symbol of the triple goddess )O(  .Joe’s adornment is in the form of a gold buckle on the Hessian belt to be worn about his waist with the symbol of the god etched into it, the god is represented by the sun or ☼ . I had just enough gold from melting things down to make quite a sturdy buckle. It matched his still sturdy physique well. We will be invoking the goddess and god into myself and Joe so we have taken time to look presentable. When we are dressed we each take a few moments to visualise ourselves as the roles we will portray.

triple-goddess-bannerPan the player of pipes

*** *** ***

As priestess leading the ritual I have made sure to consecrate and purify all the tools as necessary, no need to bore you with the details of each one. For your own notes the words used to consecrate and purify are as follows.

We exorcise thee, O creature of Water, that thou cast out from thee all the impurities and uncleanlinesses of the spirits of the world of phantasm, in the names of Pan and Diana.

Blessings be upon this creature of Salt. Let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hencefrom and let all good enter herein.

(the salt is added to the water on the tip of my athame and so further purifies and sanctifies the water which is then used to bless each tool in turn and the remainder is kept and used at the start of the ritual to consecrate the participants.)

We lay out the altar in appropriate fashion. the water bowl sits at the west, the candles to the south, incense in the east and salt at the north, each sitting upon an embroidered guide to invoking it. The centre is marked for Ether and a pentacle sits here with the cauldron on top on a stand with charcoal under it to provide fire. We quickly arrange the tools on the altar following the guides embroidered by Agnes on the altar cloth.  It is time now to draw the circle. For now my hands will be used to hold the items to form the circle so I cannot play the Bodhran so Lachlan takes the bell to provide some musical backing to the others, Joe takes up his guitar and his pipes. Agnes’ only instrument is her voice which is sweet and melodic, Lachlan also joins with his feminine mezzo-soprano voice.

I lead around the circle with the chalice of purified water and sprinkle the water in a circle around the workspace. I have my own words to speak as I create the circle but in the background the others are singing in rounds until I complete the thrice casting of the circle.

“We conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou beist a boundary between the world of men and the realms of the Gods, a Guardian and a Protection that shall preserve and contain the power which we shall raise within thee; wherefore do we bless thee and consecrate thee with (water and earth) (air and fire) (spirit) in the most sacred and powerful names of Pan and Diana”

The first circle is cast with the salted water, the second with a candle and incense and finally the third is cast with sword and athame. Each tool used is given me by Joe, acting as priest, with a kiss, and returned to him by me with another. Once the circle is cast we anoint each other with the salted water, I anoint Joe and he anoints the three priestesses.

Once we are anointed it is time to invoke the attributes of Diana into me and the attributes of Pan into Joe.

To invoke the goddess, Diana, into me all participants join in a chant to the goddess in her many aspects. Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innana. I kneel facing the moon with my group around me as they begin the chant.

To invoke the god the priestesses sing to Joe in unison a song designed to attract Pan. We frolic around him like nymphs, leaping in to kiss him on the cheek as the need arises. As we end our singing Joe takes up the male counterpoint to great the god Pan into his heart.

Can you hear the forest sing?
On a breath of damiana it calls his name
Seduced by his spirit once again
Cloven hooves beat upon the earth
He comes to us from Arcadia through the trees
The rush of his force felt upon the breeze

He comes on hooves of goat
He comes with songs that float on the wind

Let your senses know of him
Feel the earth it trembles underneath shaggy thighs
The sky is afire from his flashing eyes
If a nymph I’d follow him
Be a match for his wild carousing and bestial ways
And in the woods I too would play

He comes on hooves of goat
He comes with songs that float on the wind
He comes on hooves of goat
He comes with songs that float on the wind

(male interlude)
“Oh great horned god of ages past
Lord of the hunt, Lord of the dance
From that place where you lie slain
Come to me, return again
Across the mountains, the fields, the sands
Be once more upon this land!
Oh great horned god, of times gone by
Lord of the earth, the sea and the sky
Of the forest, and of the glade
Be with us now, and for all our days
Herne, Cernunnos, Karnayna, Pan
Be once more upon this land… ”

Now with the power of the god and goddess in us we invoke the watchtowers.

the watchtowers

And now the main focus of the ritual, the raising of the cone of power and the spellweaving. We sit Lettie in the centre of our dancing area which is due south of the altar. Joe, Agnes, Lachlan and I surround her, our arms spread to the side so we can hold hands as we begin circling around her. We dance around her in a deosil direction, or clockwise And as we dance we chant her story from beginning to now and complete the spellweaving with a plea to Diana and Pan to return her to her natural form….

cone_of_power

In long time past your daughter did follow her natural appetites, Lusting on the flesh of men much to their delights, But time did pass and emotions ran high, the womenfolk raging, but she still did defy. Her passions abated with the want of a child, but three came along and she was again beguiled. All went well for a time much to her surprise, then a father joined in in front of his wife’s eyes. All six were in shock as she screamed and ran amok, the men all fled, left Lettie alone in her bed. The hag she did scream and rage and cry and her power did rise, Lettie should fly! But stunned was she and full of remorse, and stayed while the rage ran its course. Twas folly that kept her from fleeing that night, the wife hit her face with all of her might. And with that blow she did intone, one word that would change her and leave her to bemoan. Her plight not yet accepted she did rant and rave but from her mouth a fox’s bark instead it came. Horror and shock hit them both full force, Lettie did flounder in search of discourse. The wife she did scream and throw her hands in the air, her spell had given her, too, a scare. She could not understand how it had been done and left the vixen alone, her face ashen.

(the cone of power between them and rising above Lettie, glows incandescent blue, but a little more was yet to come to finish the spellweave. Tendrils of blue spiralled around Lettie and then into her, she was beginning to glow with an inner fire, time to bring the spellweave to its conclusion! We can dance no more and slow to a stop over the next few lines which I speak alone)

What was done by one be undone by three, grant your sister leniency, her crimes are old and long since paid, return her now to the form of a maid. By the power of Pan and that of Diane, This cone of our power shall save the hour, with a bang and a crash and a lightening flash, Return her to me, my great aunt Lettie!

the foxy aunt Lettie

And it was done, she sat before us, her flame red hair sticking out at all angles from the almost electrical charge we had released into her, and naked as the day she was born. It seems clothing does not stand the test of time as well as the human form when one is polymorphed or perhaps the power released had rent them asunder for not even the neck scarf survived, only the brooch which had held it around her neck  We all collapsed in a heap around her from the exhaustion the release of energy had caused, only Lachlan remained standing out of all of us.  He came forward from where he still stood and gently picked us up one by one and moved us to rest against the granite block which was our altar, the candles blown out, the incense consumed in fire, the water and herbs in the cauldron had been boiled away to ash. When he came to pick up Lettie he had, rather thoughtfully for an elemental, picked up my cloak to wrap around her. My clothes would be loose on her but at least she would be covered when we returned home in what was now the light of dawn. Aunt LEttie, hugged each of us in turn and came back to me for a second hug. She was overwhelemd to be back in her own form and could barely speak but to say “Thank you, Arin, Lord and Lady bless you all.” Its time to thank the gods and close the circle and leave behind a few offerings of bread and fruits. Until next time.

Merry meet, merry part, may the gods walk with you until we meet again. )O( ☼

Posted in The Triumvirate | 5 Comments

Pet Hates 5 : online grocery shopping


I don’t do it, I just simply won’t do it. Fresh fruits and vegetables need to be handled and sniffed to know you have them just right, you have to check for bruising and mould  Do you really think the personal shoppers that go and collect your list are going to do all that? The whole point of fresh fruit and veg is a healthy diet and reducing wastage, surely? Are we going to end up as couch or PC potatoes. If you want to reduce your emissions by not travelling to the supermarket in your car then go by bus. It is no wonder that our shops are dying out when we don’t physically look at the produce and realise we might get it elsewhere in better quality and possibly cheaper. No wonder our nation is getting fatter by the minute when we can’t even be bothered to leave our chair to shop for food. SHOPPING ONLINE IS NOT HUNTING. We ARE hunters even if it is just hunting for bargains in the urban jungle. Get out of your chair, go to the shops, pick up the fruits and veggies, squeeze them sniff them tease them. Go to the other supermarkets and check their produce too. Bring back consumer power and fight for better quality and prices. Get out to your supermarket and meet people, talk with staff, find out what’s in season, go to the butcher and pick up decent meats while you’re there, visit the fishmonger. Maybe even, if you are lucky enough to still have them in your town, visit the independent grocers, butchers, fishmongers etc..

Keep online shopping for things that don’t really need to be looked at.. like CD’s seeing as we only have one major music shop now 😦

Posted in Pet Hates | 1 Comment

The Triumvirate : Blood Ties


Ancestors, they sometimes like to show up and cause trouble no matter how long ago they were born, but for most they are just skeletons in the closet.

But not in my case, mine is a fully fleshed, living and breathing ancestor. I’m sorry, I am still reeling from hearing the news that the vixen is Lettie, a great, great aunt way down my family tree, one of the roots you might say. Things suddenly became all at once very clear and at the same time, complicated. I imagine you can just about put yourself in my shoes right now. She is 279 years old and a fox. I mean that quite literally as I have no idea of how pretty or attractive she might have been before she was cursed into this form. All I can say is her genetics are quite far removed from mine, I am no foxy lady, I am rather plain and a little too thick around the waist to be honest. Not the sort of female that has men falling over themselves to be with, unlike the fox, who, as you know, has quite a sordid little back story. Well, quite thick around the waist. Agnes’ cooking though wholesome does not do very much for my waistline when for the past few months I have been sitting around researching this or that or the other. I’m almost to the point of being a couch potato. Yes, I am distracting myself from the point. Well, wouldn’t you?

Ok, so here we are with a big problem on our hands. My auntie has turned up seeking help from a pre-destined triumvirate to turn her from being a fox back into being herself and my auntie again, not sure how this will work and even less clue how this could be explained to any authorities that might catch on that there’s a walking Methuselah in town. Right now all I want to do is pinch myself and wake from this bizarre dream and find myself poring over dusty old church records in a chapel somewhere still trying to figure out my ancestry. Too much has happened for me to even think twice about that being a possibility. I’ve been stuck in a polymorph spell since discovering my grandmother’s Book of Shadows, met Joe and Agnes who figured out how to change me back, formed a triumvirate of occult practitioners, been surprised to find a fox that I could understand and then listened to her for a full night and day about her life before being set on her quest to find us 180 years ago not to mention researching polymorphing for the last two weeks. No, this isn’t a dream. I shake myself to pull myself out of my reverie and start talking.

Couldn’t this be broken by Joe simply breaking the spell by using the word and his power? Couldn’t any of us three do this? The vixen, I can’t quite yet call her Aunt Lettie, sighs heavily and explains to us that the witch who cast the spell would be long dead, that particular line of power gone so a new one had to break the spell, and what is cast by one must be undone by three. I remember now her telling us this in the last part of her story, the words the druid man , Joe’s ancestor (they get around a bit don’t they, these ancestor folk,) had said to her. I sigh and berate myself for not remembering that part but I guess it is understandable all things considered. I ask her if she has any idea what must be done to break the spell then? She says it is beyond her scope of things, that all she did was focus on herbs and medicines, her sister, Prudence, was the one who worked with magick. Another name flies in front of my eyes as I see the name Prudence written on my family tree in my own handwriting. I begin to imagine that she is also around somewhere, images of various creatures running through my head. I feel like I am losing my sanity. But then I see my family tree again, this time looking at the bottom and there is just me there, little Arin stuck at the bottom with no parents around and no cousins, no brothers or sisters, no husband and no children. It is then that I feel, very strongly, the pull of blood between me and Aunt Lettie. This is what I had been sent to do when I was guided to the Book, I had been sent on a journey to discover the reality of my bloodline, not just the cold printouts of microfiched documents or the heart ripping sadness of my parents’ death certificates. I had been sent to discover that life cannot be quenched, blood ties can never be broken, that we are all bound to similar fates and we all travel the circle of life in completeness. Yet my bloodline had an eccentric circle attached to it, one that went outside of nature’s intent. I had to put it right. I had a horrible feeling about this, wondering if by breaking the spell we would kill her and end her circle of life. I hoped that nature would not be so cruel and would be somewhat forgiving as this hand had been dealt by fate and karma together, giving odds which no mere mortal could hope to beat. Odds which we might not be able to beat if they were stacked against us also.

We had to try though so we huddled together throwing ideas around. We talked of us joining hands around Aunt Lettie and focusing the power, but we were not sure our power would match what we had been set against so we looked at incorporating other things to increase the power. We decided we must use a circle as I had told them of my insights and that all things were circular, a concept strange to most men who think along lines and despite Joe’s own practises he had struggled with the concept too, though that might have been in part due to him reeling a little like me in discovering an ancestral hand in the matter. We talked long into the evening until finally realising the time when our stomachs all at once decided to add their voices to the matter by telling us we should eat. I was running very short on ideas so I offered to help Agnes prepare supper for us all. She was looking quite taut around the face and a break from the discussions and help to cook was apparently very welcome. We leave Joe and Lettie to hog the internet, a wonder of this modern age that has left Lettie feeling quite astonished and intrigued and eager to see what could be found. Agnes and I go back to the kitchen and set about bringing food from the larder and refrigerator, choosing carefully foods that will give us an energy and stamina boost as well as replenishing the vital minerals for thinking. We make a tuna and whole-wheat pasta casserole which we decorate with pieces of smoked mackerel and various herbs, with a tuna steak and more mackerel for Lettie.

After supper we again look at working on a solution. We have a ritual worked out within an hour but the moon phase is not right for us to perform the ritual tonight, it will have to wait for the full moon, being the representation of the goddess in her middle form, that of the mother, the phase of the moon linked to the most power. I am sure you will join us again for the ritual, until then we’re going to catch up on our sleep and start our preparations over the next week or so. I also want to take some time apart to get to know my Aunt better, I want to cement our relationship even though I feel already close to her because of the pull our blood is exerting on us. I think I also want to understand better how she came to be in this situation, what drove  her to her lifestyle. So good night for now, the full moon will be upon us in no time at all.

Posted in The Triumvirate | 2 Comments

The Triumvirate : A Tale of Hope


You join us again as the vixen continues her tale.

It took me 2 changes of the seasons to discover a witch amongst the village folk. The art by now was being super-ceded by Christianity, the work of the village more industrious, the village itself more populous. I planned out every step to her door. But then she appeared in the woods and I found her gathering wild herbs. I approached cautiously, not wanting to startle her. I stopped within feet of her and sat. Her attentions turned to me and she began talking to me as a human often does to wild creatures. I tried to respond to her but it was obvious that all she heard were animal noises. She continued to talk to me but I was not listening, instead I was trying to think of a way I could communicate with her. I looked at her closely. She was wearing a pendant.  A symbol familiar to witches all across the country. I stood up and started scratching the undergrowth to clear a patch of dirt. The witch watched me curiously as I meticulously cleared a square of dirt. I had her attention. Now to hold it. I drew on the patch of cleared dirt the symbol of the triple goddess, a symbol representing the Moon in her three phases.

triple goddess black and gold

Of course the one I drew was basic to say the least but she stared at it in amazement. Did she understand what I was trying to tell her? She began asking questions which I could nod or shake my head in answer to. Had I copied the symbol she wore on her neck for a reason? Yes. Had I seen the symbol before? Yes. Was I a witch’s familiar? No. Was I a spirit guide? No. A long pause before the crucial question came. Was I a witch? Yes. I stood up exultantly and shook my head up and down. The questions stopped as she took in what I had just told her. Finally she starts asking questions again, asking if I needed help, how this had happened, had a spell gone wrong? Finally she said she needed someone who could speak my language as the questions would no longer be answered with nods or shakes of my head. She promised to meet me in the same place with someone who might be able to help communicate more fully with me. She asked me to return to the same place in three moon’s time.

It was closer to 6 moons when she returned, she brought a man with her. I had returned each night  to this place hoping she would be able to find help and it seemed she had. She explained to me it had taken so long to convince the man that she was not mad, that she had found a witch stuck in animal form. The man nodded and said he had never heard of a successful shapeshift that stayed on the person it was cast on or by. He asked if my coven had abandoned me to this fate, if I had been trying to make the spell with family, if I had tried to do this on my own?! His questions tumbled out of his mouth so quickly I could scarce follow him. I yelled at him to stop so I could answer, of course it came across as nothing more than a bark to the witch but the man nodded his understanding. He said he was a druid with the gift of animal empathy, he could understand animal thoughts and could bend animals to do his will, a gift which had passed from father to son down the generations. He asked me to tell him in my own way exactly what had happened and he let me ramble my tale to him as I rambled it to you all over the past night. By the end of my telling of the tale he was pacing up and down, making my slightly dizzy. He stopped pacing and turned to me, promising he would find a way to help me but right this moment he could not think of what could be done. “Be patient little sister, we will return often to keep you informed of what we find” and with that he gestured it was time to leave.

The witch came back often to keep me advised as to the progress or lack of, mainly the lack of and for that she apologised profusely each time. But progress was made, albeit very slowly. Another 5 seasons had passed before I received news the druid was returning to the village and would have an answer for me. I was again pregnant when both the witch and the druid returned to me. They both looked at me aghast when they saw the distended belly underneath me. They both knew the horror of pregnancy for me and the druid suggested an abortificant that he had used on animals in the past. I declined reasoning that karma had given me this debt to pay and I must pay it until karma saw fit to allow my release. “In which case, might I suggest a herb that will bar further pregnancies for you? If you happen across it yourself then karma is surely telling you that you can take it with an easy conscience.?” I cannot refute his argument so agree and he points out the wild herb close by. With the grace of the goddess I might be saved from this continued hell at least now and then until I could be spared of the curse itself. And then came the bad news. “”I cannot break the spell. But it can be broken but you will have to seek out specific people. I am sorry but it may take some time, I had my wife read your fortune and it will be some years before the stars align and the three people you need will be together. I sought out the guidance of an elder druid many miles from here in the mountains of Wales. He told me what is done by one must be undone by three. And these three are very specific and not often found easily. You must seek out a daughter of Diana, the huntress, a son of Pan, the player of pipes and a child of the heavens. I asked him if he could explain that better for me but he could not. I visited a hag in Lancashire and she WAS able to explain it to me. The daughter of Diana will have the name of Hunter, the son of Pan will be a druid who is or was a musician. The child of the heavens is one whose path is celestial, neither a witch nor a druid, but one who follows truth and binds it to herself. Only this combination will give sufficient power to break the spell. Lord and Lady only know how much power the witch had that did this to you.” I knew, for I had felt the power she hit me with and it was nothing I had ever felt before or since, until I came across you three. He continued to tell me that the son of Pan would be from his own bloodline, that of the Acreman, the daughter of Diana would be my own bloodline and that of the witch stood with us, that of Hunter. The last would be of French bloodline whose family name would come from a nickname for stubborn, tirel.

And now it should all be falling into place. I have followed your bloodlines, Joe and Arin since that day. I discovered Agnes by chance. Arin, I am your great, great, aunt many times over, you are my own bloodline. I am Lettie and I know you have long puzzled over what happened to me when I disappeared from my homestead so many years ago at the far reach of your research into your family tree.

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