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.


A Meditation for Anxiety

I’ve recorded a guided meditation for you because this practice is not widely known and helps me tremendously on days when I struggle under the weight of anxiety.

Thankfully, those days are relatively few and far between; but it was not long ago that the ‘ok’ days were rare as hens’ teeth.

The meditation is based on the Buddhist tradition of Tonglen, wherein we reverse our ego’s sweet but ultimately absurd insistence on going to any lengths to resist and resent suffering. Instead in Tonglen we open ourselves to pain and experience its transmutation.

The purpose is to more deeply awaken our compassion but also to recognise the very important point that ‘our’ pain is not, in fact, ours. It is ‘the’ pain, and widely or even universally experienced.

With much practice, I find I can now perform a few Tonglen breaths while walking through town, or preparing a meal, and feel an expansion of love and compassion that serves me, and by extension all of humanity, greatly.

It is my sincere wish that you find this recording helpful and might try it soon or bookmark it as part of your toolkit for when things seem impossible.

Let me know how you find it.


A traditional Anima Sola image on a small picture stand, with a shot glass of clean water and a lit tea light candle in front of it.

Memento Mori

Memento mori. Or, remember: you will die. Possibly today.

The idea, central to Socratic philosophy has been practiced for centuries and is currently espoused by celebrated modern thinkers.

And as an happy aside, it obviously combines effortlessly easy with ancestor worship; getting dead relatives on side powerfully supports magical growth.

Currently, this anima sola receives my morning ritual. Soon after my feet touch the floor as I rise from sleep, and certainly before a drop of liquid passes my own lips, I offer refreshment - cold, clean water - to the dead.

To my grandparents and great grandparents, uncles and cousin, dear friends who have passed, and the ancestors I never knew. I remember them, and ask them to remember and look favourably upon me.

To the dead whose bones we walk upon as we move about our life. I remember them.

To those long dead souls with none left to remember them. Their fate belongs to us all. I remember them.

To death itself - be a friend, walk with me, help me to die (release) every day and be fully present in this beautiful, miraculous incarnation, in every interaction with the people I love and the activities I engage in.

The morbid tone certainly appeals to the nineteen year old goth in me, but the practice also brings clarity, focus and motivation to live every day as if it were our last, through the profound question:

If this day were my last, what would matter?


Magical Consciousness: a primer

I’m keen to write about miracle farming, but first it is important to speak about magical consciousness.

You have heard, I expect, of the reticular activation system. Personally I have been lectured on the subject by uninspiring business coaches of various stripe, the most usual example given, being: we purchase a particular model of car, and suddenly we notice the same model wherever you go.

The lesson being: whatever you prime your mind to be alert to, you will be alert to. Imagine!

This is deeply and undeniably dull.

However!

We can also apply the reticular activation system to joyful synchronicities, hilarious plot twists and enlightening messages from unexpected sources (including animals and inanimate objects), which is altogether a far more compelling proposition.

(Those of us with prior experience of psychedelics and/or mania will be at a positive advantage, but I have every confidence that it is within the grasp of everyone with an imagination.)

Here is an introductory exercise. Go for a walk, today if you can, with no destination or purpose in mind. As you walk, focus your mind on considering questions like: what is the meaning of that bright blue string, tangled in a fence?

What are those birds letting me know by flying in that formation? What does that snippet of a song, heard from a passing car, mean to me?

What are the Gods saying through those images in the clouds? What wisdom are the trees singing, in my direction?

Say: this a dream - I am the dreamer of this dream.

Allow your eyes to widen and your jaw to drop slightly at the incredible realism in this absurd hallucination where _everything_ is loaded with meaning, as you walk with loose, dreamy limbs towards yet more unexpected messages from every corner.

The more deep your sense of wonder, and the longer you can sustain it, the better.

Soon, your mind will start to present the messages, synchronicities and signs to you, instead of the sensible family cars it had mistakenly believed you were interested in.

Is it real magic if you’ve purposely generated it? Of course! Of course not! Either way, It doesn’t matter. The beauty is, you decide. Repeat this exercise as often as necessary.


A small skull carved from a piece of jet on a wooden surface, with a partial view of a candle holder in the shape of a pink lotus flower.

Loving Your Shadow

I had in mind to write a lovely essay for you on magical consciousness and the benefits of previous experience of psychedelics and/or manic states. But my office is already overheating and I must go and recline in a shaded hammock.
.
Instead, I pose this question:
.
What if ‘loving yourself’ meant actually *loving* all of those icky parts? Not loving yourself in spite of them - not loving yourself in order to ‘release’ them - but actually loving them;
.
Loving your struggling business; loving your emotional instability, even the fear and despair; loving the nagging pain in your hip; loving your propensity for rage; loving your apparent inability to apply yourself to that nagging work task;
.
Loving your inability to muster any motivation for housework; loving your daily frustration at the impossibility of juggling work and childcare over summer; loving your envy, greed and sloth;
.
Loving and celebrating that darkest part of you that revels in difficulty, disappointment and struggle with no interest in the ease and grace that your ego constantly searches for.
.
Does that feel impossible? Or very much within reach?
.
Because I promise you that this is when magic happens.


A pearl necklace on a wooden dresser. Interspersed with the pearls are eight Howlite beads carved into tiny skulls. In the background is a small offering plate with a bright feather, another necklace strung with a white tooth, and a small white horse figurine.

Skulls & Pearls

Daily affirmations. (*groan*) I KNOW. Although it pains me to deploy such a hackneyed trope, I am also forced to admit it has been remarkably effective.

Five minutes three times a day is the goal. Twice a day is the reality.

I added these howlite skulls to a freshwater pearl necklace with a dual purpose; first, to add a little more shadow to the jewellery, and also to use like prayer beads, or a mala, to count off affirmations rather than resorting to an electronic timer to interrupt the mantra.

And of course I wear the necklace for client calls or any other time I wish to feel formidable in a Babayaga way. Because not only am I wearing a string of skulls around my neck, it has also absorbed those hundreds of recitations of the outcome towards which my work points.