A crystal grid on a wooden altar top, featuring rose quartz, aphophyllite, kyanite, rose petals and more. A figurine of Fortuna stands at the head, and two candles and joss-sticks are burning.

Rose Quartz - a ritual for self-love

Rose Quartz - a simple ritual for deep self-love. This journey with will connect you with the energy of unconditional love and acceptance, and brings it with you into the 'real world' as you return to normal life. It ends with a meditation prescription for those feeling rejected, unappreciated, or careworn.

You will need:

  • Candles and a lighter/matches
  • Incense and something to hold it
  • A few flowers, or sprigs of fresh herbs
  • A journal and pen
  • A piece or pieces of Rose Quartz crystal

If you are missing any of these items, skip or substitute to your liking.

Preparation

  • Pick up the area where you will do your self-love meditation, so there is not too much clutter and mess distracting you. Cleanse with smoke or sound - ring the bell or loudly clap your hands around the perimeter of the room to move stagnant energy.
  • Arrange a soft place to lie, a nest of cushions and blankets. Loosen any tight clothing. Be warm enough in winter, cool enough in summer.

Devotions

  • Light your candles and incense, and pass all your tools through the smoke with the words 'Spirit of Fire, with this blessed smoke I baptise these tools. Please burn away any connections to energies that do not serve my wellbeing, so that I may honour and receive the crystalline energy of Rose Quartz. Thank you, thank you, thank you.'

Entering meditation

  • Take the crystal in your hand and hold it against your heart, for as long as it is comfortable to do so.
  • Lie back in your nest of soft cushions and blankets, become mindful of your breath, and meditate on the nature of unconditional self-love.
  • Invite the ancient wisdom contained in the crystalline structure of Rose Quartz to make itself known to you, and observe what makes itself known.
  • If you prefer a guided meditation, The Naked Heart is based on connection to Rose Quartz.

Afterglow
On emerging from meditation, set the intention to bring the energy from your encounter with you into the real world as you return to normal life.

Briefly bow your head to thank the energy that surrounds you, then turn to your journal to note any reflections, messages or insights that came to you.

Allow your crystal to bask in the candle light and incense smoke, sprigs of fresh herbs or flowers at her feet, for a short time before you emerge from this space that has become a cocoon of self-love.

Prescription: The Naked Heart is a soothing guided journey, in meditation, to open your heart to the nurture, healing and protection of the Divine Mother; integrate grief, gain distance from pain. You will emerge softer yet stronger, released from shame and with your naked heart restored.


Be the Witch altar to Jupiter with purple candles, magic sigils, crystal offerings on a metal try

Be the witch

My tarot card drawn this morning is the Ace of Cups: become conscious of Spirit, the guiding force, and allow it to speak. Be the witch.

It’s been a tiresome few weeks, including childhood trauma retriggered, oceans of mud, and a spiral fracture to the 5th metatarsal - nothing earth-shattering but enough to remind me of my mortality, my weakness, my vulnerability to despair at the smallest setback.

What pulls me back out is gently but consistently reminding myself: I am a witch.

And I invite you to try the name on for yourself, too. See how it fits.

Anyone can become a witch… it is simply a matter of declaring and deciding ourselves to be so. And then something incredible happens.

You see, the word ‘witch’ carries with it centuries of stories, of understanding, of meaning. We all add different nuance to the definition, but we agree that a witch is powerful, magical, disinterested in fitting in or being approved of. That she can use her powers for good or evil, that she indulges in beliefs and behaviours that are outside the norm.

She’s probably a bit frightening. She definitely doesn’t give a shit.

When we decide we are a witch any remaining vestige of a sense of seeking permission, are shed. If we have an urge to create an altar on the tree stump near the playground in the park, we do so - because if anyone were even to ask, we’re witches.

Offer with a shrug and a glare. “I’m a witch.” It’s worth saying aloud just for the barely perceptible double-take and the split second flash of apprehension in your tormentor. Are you sure you want to mess with me?

Don’t believe you are powerful enough to be a witch? My dear I assure you, you are exactly as powerful as you believe yourself to be. Everything you think, is not true - in fact, we do well to assume it is not. Adopt an air of gentle curiosity. Perhaps you are and always have been a witch, unbeknownst to your ego who has been in the driving seat all these years.

Part of the art of magic is unveiling the full expression of yourself. Or rather, the magic doesn't work unless you do so. We have to absolutely drop every negative judgement of ourselves, and be immensely ok with what is already here, rather than comparing, and judging negatively, what is here against the past or the future.

If we shrink away from the things that are (as we judge) ugly, weak, frightening, shameful… we dishonour our mortality, in human incarnation. Existence is NOT pristine and unsullied, in fact it is a stinky mess. Most of us spend a lot of time in physical discomfort, dealing with shit of one kind or another. We are here to experience all emotions, including the desperately uncomfortable ones.

If we adopt an idealistic point of view, it comes with endless negative judgement of what is ‘less than’ ideal.

And it feels like a very helpless place to be, because the resistance to all that we deem ugly is exactly what holds it in place and makes it bigger and more dramatic.

It’s just our beloved shadow, manifesting exactly what she demands in order to feel both, all, every part of the emotional spectrum.

The answer is not to deny the ugliness of the world, as so many uninspiring personal development gurus would have it (along with the gaslighting tactic of saying that your magic doesn’t work because you’re not thinking enough happy thoughts).

Instead, the answer is to try on the idea that actually you are the dreamer of the dream, and surrender to, honour and celebrate those intensely challenging aversions.* Because as long as you take it upon yourself to identify as put-upon, over-worked, under-appreciated, frustrated, anxious, you remain solidly connected to those aversions.

(* Note: if the thing you ‘do not like’ is violence like racism, misogyny, homophobia or any other system of hate and oppression, this is not a suggestion to celebrate those systems. This is applicable to aversions that are your own patterns, like an inability to earn above a certain threshold, or find a loyal and loving partner, etc.)

And to come neatly full circle, that’s why I strongly recommend identifying as a witch. To take on the name is to don a magical robe, whereby we are encouraged and expected to deeply approve of every aspect of ourselves. The lazy part, the part that just loves refined carbs, the jealous part, the vengeful part. We don’t have to act out every impulse, we are not barbarians! But we can stop rejecting them with immediate effect, and stop ‘working on ourselves’ as if it were possible to be broken.

I invite you to immediately stop working on yourself, and start loving yourself exactly as you are, and celebrating and honouring all of the darkness and frustration you have so masterfully manifested. Yes. Be the witch.

With love,

Anna


A white roll-top bath with a bathmat hanging neatly over the edge, ready for new moon ritual bathing.

A New Moon Bathing Ritual - your step-by-step guide

After performing this exact New Moon bathing ritual in October (adapted from the far more rigorous version from Sphere & Sundry), I sat in my nightgown on the lawn under the cloudless night sky, eating a square of dark chocolate while my dog snuffled around in the shadows.

In that moment I realised that I couldn't actually imagine or remember what it might be like to feel stressed, sad, anxious or angry. I felt like a brand new soul. Complete renewal.

Of course, it didn't last very long: this beautiful existence is replete with opportunities for delicious 'bad' emotions. But the wonderful thing is that regardless of your level of interest in astrology, following the moon’s cycles will lend some regularity and consistency to your practices.

She promises each month that whatever muck we have been crawling through, we can be renewed. This Scorpio season the sheer gravity of grief has seen me lying on the floor, many times. I have not resisted. It's always best to let the tears out. And after such a lot of processing, integration is critical.

To renew our bodies by soaking in warm water is a luxury to be expansively appreciated, but the simple act can be given a profoundly deeper levels of significance with the additions of moon phases, magic and ritual.

The new moon bathing ritual instructions below may be used to address lethargy and stress (hello, 2020), poor sleep, bad luck, assisting recovery from difficult experiences, illness or loss, extreme emotions and spiritual desperation. It will enhance your dreams and meditation and make all other magical rites easier and more effective.

You can get a pdf outline of this ritual using the form further down this page - print it out so you may leave your device in another room.

This is a lovely meditation for that part of the ritual.

***
Begin in a reverent way.

Throughout the day allow the sacred to seep in wherever it can. Gather your supplies. Naturally you will need candles.

You will also need:

  • Incense, something to hold it, and a way to light it.
  • Sea-, Dead-Sea, Himalayan or even Table Salt (science evolved from magic, after all) - not just Epsom salts*
  • Pure pressed virgin oil - coconut, olive, almond etc
  • Essential oil of your choosing (select according to your purposes, ie lavender for alleviating sadness, rosemary for clarity)
  • A bowl or jug
  • Fresh, clean towels
  • Beer OR blue water colour paint, food colouring or laundry blueing
  • Herbs or other magical ingredients to suit your objectives
  • Exfoliating glove, loofah or body brush, pumice stone, nail clippers, scissors, razor, shower gel, shampoo etc.
  • A bell or tingsha

If you are missing any of these items for new moon ritual bathing, skip or substitute to your liking. Magic is, among other things, the art of working with the materials to hand, to gain (or banish) what we desire...

Preparation
Tidy your bathroom, and clean it too - at the very least, scrub the bathtub. This is cleaning the operating theatre for your magical procedure. Also, your self from a few hours hence will adore you if you change your bedlinen.

It is important to clean yourself, too. We will not be bringing gels and bath bombs, hair treatments and face masks into our magical space.

So before your ritual in the evening, take a shower or bath in the usual way. Thorough cleansing of the body to ease the energetic cleansing of that which no longer serves us. Removing the detritus makes it possible to attune to subtler energies.

Scrape under the nails, exfoliate, pumice away callouses (which represent past experiences), shave any parts of you that you typically wear clean-shaven. Brush your teeth.

Begin your devotions
Light your candles.

Light your incense.

Unadorn thyself of all clothes and jewellery.

If you are using a bell, use it to dispel stagnant energies. Chime it over the crown of your head and work your way down, ringing over all areas of your body.

Pass the jug or bowl, and the bell, briefly through the incense smoke and ask the dark moon to purify them (suggested wording below, but 'cleanse these implements, cleanse my body' will suffice), and then as much as you can, move either your self or your incense around, to allow your body to be cleansed by the smoke too.

Spirit of Fire, I baptise these tools in your Holy Smoke. Empower them to cut my connections to energies that do not serve my health, wellbeing, and sovereignty. With this blessed fumigation, cleanse my body and my aura, so that my Self may be restored. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hallowing the Water
Draw your bath.

Stir in salt. Epsom salts are lovely but have no spiritual cleansing qualities, so add another salt as well. Stir it widdershins (I don't know either).

Spirit of Salt, I pray you empower this bath to remove from my heart, mind, body and spirit, all that does not serve me. Strip everything that impedes my healthy and sovereign existence. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Beer is recommended as a reliable additive for energetic nourishment - it builds fortitude, speeds recovery, and bolsters the auric body. It adds a beautiful cozy quality to your after bath glow.

Add Mugwort (or other magical herbs) if you have it. Mugwort is the plant of the High Priestess, the Celt's portal to the dream dimension.

If you did not add beer, add blue. The colour is the magical ingredient, not the paint or colouring substance itself. You only need a little bit, and it is particularly affective when there is conflict in the environment, as it has a moderating effect on temper.

Into the steaming cauldron, drops of sacred oils: Frankinscense, Lavender, Sage and Rose. Singly, or in combination.

Entering the Bath
The candles should be lit and the lights off. Place your hand over the water in a gesture of benediction and offer a blessing.

Spirit of Water, awaken this bath to cleanse my heart, mind, body and spirit. Make me renewed and purified. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now we offer our naked, vulnerable, animal bodies, to the hot water, thick as soup with magic and intention.

Take slow mindful breaths and allow your body to relax more deeply with each one. As your eyes close let your conscious mind step back and invite your unconscious to step forward.

Do not fear. Nothing can hurt you while you have a body to return to. Meditate for as long as you can.

As you reach the end of your bath, fill the jug with water, tilt your head back, and pour gently over your hairline and brow as if baptising, so the water runs down the scalp. Repeat this action multiple times, allowing water to course over your forehead, face, ears, chin, neck, sides, chest, shoulders, each section of each arm in turn, then stand and continue to pour and repour water over your whole body. Every inch of you to have purposefully rinsed by the hallowed water.

Lie back and integrate for a few moments. Thank the spirits and energies who joined you before draining the tub.

The Afterglow
Blow out the candles, wrap yourself in a clean towel, and go to your journal. Record your experiences, the messages that came to you in meditation, or just how relaxed you felt.

Anoint your clean body with a virgin pressed oil of your choosing, including a drop or two of essential oil rubbed between your palms and then touched to your third eye, your neck where it meets the skull, soles of feet, and heart centre.

Close your ceremony with some words of comfort and protection - Psalm 23 is perfect.

Once you are a-bed, if you have a question, ask for it to be answered in dreams tonight. If you have no question, ask for one to be revealed. Sip your water, and thank Mother Moon for all that she has given during this bathing ritual

Sweet dreams, precious ones. Until next time. And remember you can use the form just below to get a .pdf download: print it out to prompt you through the ritual without electronics.

Anna


Spring water for St Nicholas ritual for the dead

All Saints Day - St Nicholas ritual for the dead

This ritual for the dead calls in the power of an experienced and effective intermediary: St Nicholas.

And All Saints Day - November 1st - is the perfect day to do it.

St Nicholas worked and continues to work with and for the dead. If the overt Christianity in the incantation is troubling to you, you may certainly rewrite it to your preference - but remember, St Nicholas was a Christian in life, and is a Christian saint, so he may well respond to this language.

The Rite of St Nicholas

On the evening of November 1st (or any other day) take some clean fresh water to a crossroads. Spring water, for preference, as both it and the dead are associated with the ground.

Make sure you are alone, tap the bottle of water three times on the ground. Recite the following:

“Oh merciful God. In your wisdom you have chosen Saint Nicholas as negotiator on behalf of the departed. Take pity on those souls who have no particular friends and loved ones to recommend them. Those who are forgotten by all. Spare them, Lord, and give mercy. Let not the souls that you created be parted from you, their Creator."

Pour water on the ground at each of the four corners of the crossroads:

"Most holy Saint Nicholas, may this offering bring refreshment and hope to the souls in your care, may the spirits of the dead remember and look favourably upon me, as I remember and look favourably upon them. And may the souls of all the departed, through God’s mercy and grace, rest in peace.”

St Nicholas ritual for the dead.
(For a daily remembrance for your ancestors, look here.)


Memento Mori altar - a selection of family images and tea light candles on a dark shelf

Memento Mori - remember you will die

A Memento Mori ritual - to remember you will die.

There's a lot going on this Saturday - a full moon in Taurus and The Addams Family watch party. But remember death... after all, this is what this festival is all about.

Espoused by business and performance coaches, and Stoic philosophers alike, we don’t need to journey with a shaman or plant medicine to be introduced to our ancestors; they are with us here and now.

And they are enchanted when we remember them in daily or weekly practice. They love being welcomed into our lives.

Through rites and remembrance you will quickly feel the support of deceased relatives, loved ones, even pets and places, and behind them will be the steady wisdom and presence from the ranks of long dead ancestors.

You will need:

  • A small glass of water
  • An ‘Anima Sola’ postcard (to represent all deceased souls) or photos of deceased relatives and loved ones
  • A small white candle (optional)
  • Incense (optional)

Start by setting up a small altar space with your pictures, and place before them your incense in a holder, and any other small offerings such as a crystal, a little posy of flowers, or some small delicious sweets.

You will change and refresh these offerings regularly as your relationship with your ancestors deepens.

The ritual takes no more than a few minutes and ideally should be performed daily (after all, a vital part of the purpose of the ritual is to remind us that each day may be our last and to live it as such) first thing on waking before doing anything else.

1. Light your candle and place a fresh glass of water on the altar. Bring to mind your dead. Name them, aloud or in your mind. Say out loud or in your mind:

“This is an offering from the living to the dead. This is an offering to my ancestors, relatives and friends. Thank you for all you brought to the world, thank you for your frailties, your loves and fears.

Thank you for your shadows and your light. Please remember me and look favourably upon me, as I remember and look favourably upon you.”

2. Call to mind all the souls who have died over the centuries in the vicinity of where you stand. 

“This is an offering to the local dead, whose dust and bones we walk upon. Thank you for your lives in this place, thank you for sharing your struggles and passions with this land that holds me. I remember you and look favourably upon you.”

3. Now, try to imagine just a few individuals from the millions who have died in human history and are now entirely lost and forgotten.

“This is an offering to the long dead, with none to remember them. Your fate belongs to us all. Thank you for your lives, your struggles, your passions. I remember you and look favourably upon you.”

4. End by considering death as a concept, and your own inevitable passing.

“Death, walk with me. Teach me every day to die and be reborn. Make me unafraid, for death is but a new chapter, and help me live every day as though it were my last.”

Bow your head, pinch out your candle, quell your incense, smile at your beloveds. Your memento mori ritual is complete.

To kick start a deeper relationship with the spirit world, petition St Nicholas: you will soon be crowdsurfing on the happy shoulders of your allies in the otherworld.


The torso of a model wearing a handknit sweater designed by Anna. The sweater is gold and black stripes like a bumble bee, and the model is leaning on a table covered with a floral tablecloth

The Big Fail

Fifteen years ago, or so, I started a blog with the simple intention to write about whatever interested me.

Soon that came to include knitting. I took nice photos of my knitwear and wrote about my projects. I came across independent designers, and the idea sparked that perhaps I could design, too.

As it turned out, my rudimentary maths knowledge, good taste in knitwear, and sense of style for photography, were more than adequate to start designing, publishing pattern instructions for the knitting crowd, and growing my readership.

The blog went from strength to strength and I was able to reduce the hours I worked at a marketing agency.

I was offered a book deal! With an advance! A well-regarded publisher and a hero-of-the-industry editor! There was even a little bidding war!

Within a few weeks of signing contracts, I discovered I was pregnant with our son! I was on top of the world!

My intention was to complete the book before the baby arrived. But it didn’t happen, and the baby was early.

I thought I could finish the book while the baby napped. The baby never napped. He had reflux and colic and an aversion to sleep. While pregnant, wiser women had tried to explain how caring for a newborn will fuck a person up completely. But, until I experienced it myself, it was impossible to imagine the deep truth of that statement.

The book was never completed. I returned the advance.

What a come down. I’ve only recently been able to recognise the beauty in the tender intensity of those feelings of disappointment. Of failure. Of shame.

It’s exquisite. It wraps around my heart and chest and holds me so tight. My stomach rumbles gently. There’s electricity sparking through my crown, head, neck, shoulders and down my arms.

It’s magical to witness the depth of my feeling. And now that I do, it starts to heal.

Because now it is passing through. I still have brilliance. It’s time to heal.


Close up on a cream coloured under bust corset

Constriction

Today, I will give you my absolutely winning but also unorthodox method for dealing with anxiety around money.

The day before yesterday I was in an absolute pickle. Being tossed to and fro by worry, annoyance, even rage; unable to seize the reins and regain some balance. I gave myself an alchemical bath so full of salts, minerals, crystals, oils, it had the consistency more of a creamy soup than water. It helped.

Because as I floated I realised: all this turmoil was because I needed to make a large payment.

My financial situation is familiar to many freelancers and other consultants, with my bank balance veering between “make it rain” and “definitely going bankrupt”. At the top end I deeply enjoy making purchases, even (as a committed socialist) settling tax bills.

But when the number of digits grows lower, I develop a peculiarly hoarding attitude. I resent spending a single penny. I can’t bear to see the balance going down. I become possessive. Grasping.

It’s a feeling of constriction…

“Constriction, you say Anna?” Yes, a feeling of trapped-ness, a breathless quality, I can’t move properly. “Hm, breathless? Would you say it feels like being squeezed?” Yes, it’s tight and frightening. I can’t relax. “I wonder… would it be similar to the sensation of being encased in some kind of unyielding contraption? Maybe, for example, a corset?”

Do you remember what we spoke about on Monday (the picture of me looking cross in a pink robe)? About loving every part even the unlovable, and finding the pleasure in the least loved emotions?

Well it transpires that lacing oneself into a corset before making large payments adds an entirely new slant on the situation. There’s money magic.

But, by all means, light a green candle if you prefer…


A small white porcelain horse figurine stands on a wooden surface. The horse is captured as it rears up on its hind legs.

White Horses

I want to write “It was the first time that I truly followed my intuition” although of course that is not true.

But I do think it was the first time that I consciously decided to just follow a pull without questioning ‘why’ too much, or doing lots of research, or endlessly talking myself into and out of the decision.

I think it was following a breadcrumb dropped by @candicebrathwaite that led me to andcrystals and to order a crystal reading.

Reviewing Katie-Jane’s document again today, it piques my curiosity to wonder how - or if - a reading today would differ.

One of the lines she wrote was this: “[in a past life] you had a beautiful connection to horses, you visited them and received healing from them. A white horse strongly comes up as one of your animal guides protecting your heart. The white horse symbolises freedom, strength and courage.”

The whole reading was very moving. I immediately started to use blue lace agate on my throat when I felt I was choking (frequently) and a few days after I received the reading I also found this little white horse figurine in a thrift shop in Canterbury, for sale for just a few pounds.

He has stood on my bedside table ever since. And, ever since, when I am desperate for a sign from the universe, a white horse appears.

Just a few weeks ago, as I drove on a tedious errand, my ego was chattering away to me that ‘a white horse is not a good sign, it’s too rare to see a white horse, I need something commoner, a butterfly or a feather or something.’

And as I crested the hill a field appeared on my right with not one, not two, but at least five maybe seven white horses peacefully grazing in the sun.

Or the dog walk last week, after a particularly wobbly morning, where I actively strode out searching for signs - and this beauty appeared to lead me into the woods.

A white horses, photographed from a distance, being ridden along the edge of a field with trees in the background
White horses

A portrait of Anna. She looks tired and rests her head on her hand. She's wearing a pink cotton robe

Normality is Suspended

Normality is suspended until further notice. Everything you thought you knew is wrong.

Will you evolve? Or die on the hill of your own creation?

What ideas of your self must you slough off in order to flourish on the other side?

A useful first step would be to admit that the pain that keeps you small comes from a secret, taboo desire for rejection and humiliation (and that’s OK! It is perfectly acceptable to get taboo pleasure from those things; ask any domme/dom).

NOTE! If the pain you are experiencing comes from racism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, or any other ingrained systemic prejudice, please fully disregard my previous sentence. This taboo secret desire is only really applicable where people are experiencing pain and difficulty on an individual level rather than a community level.

Assuming that this is in fact the result of a deeply held secret desire, then celebrate. Your ache is being fulfilled.

It has been my experience, through the practice of Existential Kink, that the more we give ourselves permission to take deep pleasure, to positively revel in the electricity of our most ’not-wanted’ feelings…

… the more we celebrate our virtuoso ability to create circumstances that deeply trigger those feelings that we ‘most-definitely-positively-absolutely-do-not-ever-want’…

… the more we adore and take joy in this beautiful incarnation and our adorable obsession with duality (the whole notion of ‘good feelings’ and ‘bad feelings’, or ‘want’ and ‘do not want’ as a perfect example)…

…the more that energy of fear transmutes into beauty.


A photo of Anna, she is against a white wall wearing a black dress, looking down towards the ground. Her face is mostly obscured by her hair.

Love Letter

As soon as I have published here I will compose a love letter. This relationship has struggled greatly over the years but after much work and willingness to change, it is now very secure and nurturing.

With my fountain pen, on heavy paper, I shall compose deep compliments and excavate my most tender feelings.

I will re-state my utter commitment to uncondintional, everlasting love. I expect I shall embarrass myself a little bit with my earnest phrasing.

Sometimes, the truth is bigger than words. I know I will come up against the limits of language.

As soon as I have published here I will compose a love letter to myself.

It’s time I put it on paper.