Hard Times Require Furious Magick

Haven’t been blogging much, but I’ve missed it.

The year started out pretty well.  But then March hit, and all of the sudden my life sounded like the lyrics to a country song.

My private client became too taxing to care for as I watched her and her husband self destruct.  My roommate moved out.  Previous roommate decided to take me to court for bullshit reasons (it’ll all be thrown out Wednesday, but court is expensive).  Boyfriend ended our relationship on a moment’s notice. All this left my monthly income $1420 per month under budget.  My dog needs to be put down.  I need to pay about $800 to get my license sticker.  Bills just kept mounting.  So I did the math and realized that if I put in an extra 10 hours a week, that I would be okay.  But I only get paid 45 minutes on the hour, so an extra 10 hours a week on my already 50 hours a week schedule, meant a 75 hour work week, on top of my tarot business and my new direct sales venture selling tea.  I tried reaching out to friends for support, but everyone was just too busy or too far away for something as simple as a hug.  Two members of my family were unbelievably rude at Easter.  I called them on their horrid behaviour, and I became uninvited to dinner and they stopped talking to me.  My father’s health is poor, and I may not even get to say goodbye.  I tried organizing a tea party and a birthday party, and response rate was less than 5%, leaving me to feel more alone than ever.  And then I had a workplace injury, and then another 6 weeks later.  It’s clear that my career as a PSW is over, as is my income stream.  I am in so much pain that I can’t grocery shop, or pump my own gas.  My thoughts started seeping further and further down, until I started researching suicide methods.  I tried reaching out to friends, you know the ones who are always posting memes about how they will always listen if a friend is suicidal?  But of course, they were too busy.

Then I realized, something isn’t right.  That’s a hell of a lot of shit for one person to endure in a month.  Either this is a curse, which I doubt, I haven’t pissed anyone off that much lately.  Or, I have fallen into a crossed condition, which seems far more likely.  By the way, if I am cursed, and you reading this are the one that did it, big mistake.  Big.  Huge.  You don’t play a player.

It’s not like I don’t know how to cure a crossed condition.  I mean, I am a bad ass and gifted mage.  I can handle this.  I don’t need to tolerate living in this condition.  This is fixable.  So, I’m getting to work, doing the hard work of magick.  I will get out of this.  That’s what magick is for.

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New Service: Dream Analysis!

“What did this dream mean?”

This is probably the most common question that I am asked from friends and clients.  Freud said that dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.  They provide valuable insight into who we are and where we are going.

I have always had a interest in dreams, and I have been analyzing them since I was a young girl.  I am now extending the service professionally.  I am going to start this at $20 for the time being and see how it goes.  If you are interested, I highly recommend keeping a dream journal, and recording as much imagery as possible as soon as you wake/ remember.

Please email to take advantage of this service.  mapletreedruidry@gmail.com

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The Labour Pains of My Newsletter

As my business grows, I have come to understand that reaching clients through email is essential.  August of 2015, I took a MailChimp course through the London chapter of Women in Business.  It was a great course, and taught me all I needed to know to get started.

And then I tried.

And was blocked.

I was blocked for a number of reasons.  One was CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislature).  Breaching this law could result in fines of a million dollars.  As I tried to work on my newsletter, MailChimp actually shut down my account three times for violating it in one way or another.  There were tears.  I realized that, despite the cheeky culture of MailChimp, I really don’t like it.  I was reminded that I have this blog, with hundreds of people who have signed up of their own volition.  I like WordPress.  I am comfortable with WordPress. When I was blogging regularly, I would get about 10 000-15 000 hits a year!  Now, I only blog maybe once a month, so this may be the perfect platform to use.  I would like to increase my blogging back to once a week, but still, this is a good foundation for the monthly newsletter.

So I know the where, but not the what.  I have writer’s block.  What would potential clients actually want to read about monthly?  I wrote a short newsletter for May, but it was all about Bealtinne, and nothing about tarot.  When my business is tarot, shouldn’t I write about that?  I put out a Facebook post (yes, I am trying Facebook again) asking what my friends would like to read about, and it turns out that Magick 101 stuff is foremost on their list.  I’m afraid of bugging people.  Do people actually want to hear from me?  It turns out- YES!  many in fact love and miss my writing.

A lot of my issues with the newsletter are about confidence.  Being a tarot reader, I am often expected to know everything, and be perfect (or at least that is my perception of what’s expected).  I’m very good at what I do.  I help a lot of people improve their lives through the insights I provide.  But I’m still human.

The newsletter, to me right now, is the last step in fully “going pro”.  I worry about success and failure.  If I never succeed, if I stay stagnant, then I can never fail, right?  But the truth is, success and failure are not one time things.  Yes, I will have set backs.  Yes, there will be ups and downs, slow times and busy times, but the trick is to keep moving forward.  I’m not exactly the type of person that someone would call a quitter.  So many women suffer from Impostor Syndrome, the feeling that we are not good enough, not authentic enough, to be professionals at our passions.  This is an issue that I am working on.

I woke up this morning to a video from an old friend whom I recently reconnected with.  The video was about the uncomfortability and pain that is inevitable with success.  This is also the woman who said to me when I was 16 “It’s okay to be afraid, but feel the fear and do it anyway”.  Those words stuck with me.  I am going to have to just do it.

So today, I will complete the May newsletter, and set a publication date for April 30th.  It will be imperfect, but done is better than perfect.

Here’s the video that I was gifted.  May it bring you the same inspiration it brought me:

 

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My Letter to Kathleen Wynne

Hi Kathleen,

Last election, I came very close to voting for the NDP, but changed my mind last minute and voted for you, entrusting the province to you and your party.

Now, I love what you’ve done with the sex ed curriculum.  Teaching children about consent culture, anti-bullying, and predator protection was a much needed change.

But that’s not why I am writing you.

About the same time that I cast my ballot in your direction, I purchased my first home.  At the time I was a single mom, working as a PSW.  I was so happy to have my dream of home ownership come true!  I had worked so hard for this moment.  I got a great deal on the mortgage, and had monthly payments about the same as the rent on a two bedroom apartment.

I have taught my daughter from an early age about caring for the environment, and have tried to be a good example about reducing our carbon foot print.  I drive the most efficient vehicle that I can afford.  We turn the lights off.  We use a programmable thermostat and wear sweaters instead of cranking the heat.  We only run appliances during off peak hours, which as a shift worker, means that I am often up doing laundry until two of three in the morning, because I can’t afford to do laundry during daytime hours before work..

But despite all my efforts, the hydro bill keeps going up and up.  So many time we were unable to pay, and came close to disconnection.  I was robbing Peter to pay Paul, and going without necessities.  In August, I paid over $800 to London Hydro!!!  My credit is shot.  I paid the hydro over paying credit cards and student loans, and was forced to declare bankruptcy.  I can afford the mortgage on the house, but I cannot afford to keep the lights on in the house.  I now need to sell my dream home.  My credit is so bad that I may never own a home again.

I’m afraid that a 25% rebate is much too little, and far too late.

You have ruined my life.

I will not be voting for you in the next election.

Sincerely,

Caroline Whitehead

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Breaking the Strawberry Fast

 

The more I study both Celtic and Aboriginal North American spirituality, the more I see beautiful and subtle similarities between them.  They are of course, both respected traditions in their own right, but I think it’s important to look at what the two traditions have in common.  This summer I was finally able to finish the last credit of my degree by completing “Introduction to Indigenous Spirituality”, thanks to a loan from two of my favourite people.

One class, the professor had us all go outside and find a spot on the grass in a circle.  Talking circles were an essential part of every class.  He passed around some fresh strawberries.  We were each to take two.   We went around in turn.  With the first strawberry, we shared with our circle one thing that bought us joy, and then ate the first strawberry.  One student, raised in Native tradition, told us that there was medicine in the green tops, and that we should eat them too.  So we ate our strawberry whole.  With our second strawberry, we were to think about ways that we could bring joy to others.  This was a touching and powerful ritual.  It helped us to realize the power that we had to impact the lives of others, something that I think I have taken for granted.  We can choose to be a source of joy for others.  This changed the way I thought about my interactions with others, and certainly changed the way I thought about strawberries.

One class, we had a lady elder come talk to the women.  She told us about the role of women in Aboriginal communities, and about the traditions associated with women.  One lesson that was very interesting was about the rite of menses for young girls.  Once a young woman starts menstruating, she is to fast from strawberries for one whole year.  No strawberry candies, no strawberry juice, no strawberry ice cream, nada.  She encouraged the ladies in the group, all well past menses, and some into menopause, to try this exercise.

Indigenous people aren’t the only ones who fast from berries.  Celts would also traditionally would not eat berries (typically blackberries) from Samhain to Imbolc.  This was for an entirely different reason.  Any berries left on the vines after Samhain belonged to the Puka, a type of land Spirit (someday I’ll write more on these guys).

So I thought that I would try a berry fast.  I had an idea about what I wanted to accomplish.  I didn’t want this to be punitive.  I wanted to enjoy the process and not feel like I was suffering.  I wanted to go easy on myself if I accidentally lapsed.  I also did not want to refuse my host if I was offered berries, as I didn’t want to be a bad guest.  Above all, Druids value ghosti- the sacred relationship between guest and host.  And a few times I did have some.  I was at the movies and had some Frutopia, the only non-carbonated, non caffeinated drink available.  My best friend made raspberry turnovers and offered me one.  A client offered me some strawberry cake.  But for the most part, I did not partake in stawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

And then came the day when I could break my fast.  I remembered Kayley from the show Firefly when she had her first strawberry after being in deep space for years.  It was so valuable and rare that it was used as fare to board the ship.  She took the big, ripe berry out of the small wooden box, examined it as one would a precious jewel, and took a bite, savouring every bit of the experience.

 

And that was what it was like eating my first strawberry after months of fasting.  It brought a deep sense of joy.  It brought a sense of hope that spring would return.  It brought a sense of luxury, as berries had not been in my home for months.  But it also brought an appreciation for my ancestors who didn’t have access to year round fresh fruit shipped in from California.  It made me think of those living in Northern Canada who don’t have any access to the precious source of vitamin C, or if they do, it could cost over $20 a pint.  I felt incredibly grateful for my strawberry, and incredibly appreciative of the experience.  I don’t know if I’ll do it again next year, but I certainly got a lot out of it.

What brings you joy?

How can you bring joy to others?

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Just when is the solstice anyways

There’s confusion about this every year.  Yes, you can technically celebrate anything, anyway you want.  Technically.  But when your entire religious calendar is solar based, it’s kinda important to get this right.  I mean, Christians don’t just pick a random day, and call it Christmas, so I am not sure why there is so much confusion about Yule.  Now, I totally get why a grove, coven, or other group may choose a day that is convenient for everyone, but if you are just celebrating on your own, on what you believe to be the longest night of the year, or if your belief system is that you are holding vigil while “The Goddess” gives birth, don’t you think it’s a little important to actually have the right day?

The answer to this question is easy.  Most neo-pagan high days are based on either Celtic or Norse traditions.  The day starts at dusk THE DAY BEFORE!

Think about this… if you grew up with Christmas, what night did Santa come?  Christmas Eve, of course!  What day did Shakespeare’s tale of magick and woodland fae take place?  Midsummer’s Eve!  We celebrate the Eve Of Bealtinne, the Eve of Imbolc, so I am not sure why this is such a hard concept to celebrate the Eve of Yule.

The exact time of the Winter Solstice is 5:44 am EST on December 21st.  That means that Yule starts at 4:53 pm on December 20th.  If you are planning on keeping vigil, tonight is the night.  Not tomorrow.  Tonight.  This is the Eve of Yule.  Any questions?

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Remembering Mark

Monday, I had the feeling that something was wrong.  All day long.  I could not shake it.  My back was out of sorts.  My mood was out of sorts.  Something was just… not right.

I was supposed to read tarot at an event in Burlington.  I got half way there, got stuck in traffic, and decided to turn home.

When I got home, I sat at my computer to get some work done, and I found myself checking the obits, something I haven’t done in many months.

And there, I saw it, the obit for my friend Mark.  A healthy, 38 year old, loving dad of two and successful entrepreneur.  I screamed in shock, and Daniel came running.  All I could do was point at the screen.

There was no funeral, and no cause of death listed.  I can only guess what happened.

Mark and I had been friends for over 15 years.  We met in a call centre, where we would commiserate over difficult calls.  A few years later, I was a bartender at his favourite watering hole.  Over the years, he had hinted that he was a little sweet on me, but timing never worked out.

Mark was a big cheerleader of my success.  He always encouraged me.  He was going to show me how to incorporate my business.  I used to drive his kids to school in St. Thomas.  Once, he knew I was short for cash, and he paid me $300 to pick up his kids and take them to school.  He was so devoted to his ladies, his two daughters ages 7 and 9.  They are great kids.

When I decided to leave Facebook, I knew my friendship with Mark would change.  That’s where we usually connected.  He had my email address, and my new home phone number, but Facebook was where we chatted.  I can’t help but think that if I had been available, if he had been able to reach out and talk to me, that things would have turned out differently.

Some have asked what they could do for me.  I’m coping okay, under the circumstances.  I think I’m really still processing that he’s gone.  I’m eating my feelings, probably more than I should, but I’m getting by.

I think this was a reminder of how precious the people in my life are.  I’ve worked in healthcare a long time, and I see the old and the sick decline slowly, but I don’t think of a strapping, healthy 38 year old man being just gone.

Each and every one of my friends I want to hold so tight.  I want to cherish the friends that I do have.  I want to let the people that I love know how much they mean to me.  Running a full time business and working full time leaves me exhausted, crabby, and unsocial.  I could have been there for him and I wasn’t.  I don’t blame myself for Mark’s death, but I do feel like a shitty friend.  I don’t want to be a shitty friend to the ones I have left.

I have no way to reach out to his daughters, but I hope they are not angry with their father.  I hope they understand what a hard working and caring man he was.  I wish I could make their world better, and right now I can’t, nothing can.  In all of this, my most difficult feelings are of concern for J and A.  They don’t deserve this.

Other than his ladies, his favourite things in life were bacon, bbq, beer and Star Wars.  I will be spending the rest of September honouring him through these.

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Where did I go?

Some of you, especially casual friends, may have noticed that I have vanished from Facebook.  A few people have shown concern, but I assure you, I am fine, better in fact.

Facebook had become a maladaptive time suck.  It was a place where thousands of hours went to die, where my grades had dropped 10%, where I argued endlessly with strangers, and where important friendships ended over stupid arguments that meant nothing.  I had tried cutting back, but every attempt to do so was met with failure.  My training in psychology reminded me that tolerance, withdrawal, loss of control, and negative impacts on quality of life were all signs of addiction.  So… I quit.  Cold turkey.

I am still on twitter, Instagram, ravelry and other social media sites, because I seem to be able to interact in a much healthier way, just not on Facebook.

I still maintain my business page through a friend’s account.  I log on once a week, make any updates, maybe post an advertisement or inspiring photo, but that’s it.  I also manage a few groups too, that take a minute or two to mod.

I was concerned about a few things, like keeping in contact with friends, being current on news events, and all the updates on people’s lives.  What I found, is that I have reclaimed the word ‘friend’.  I actually see people face to face now, and those who live far away, I can write letters to, like actual heartfelt snail mail letters with real stationary.  People still had friends before the internet.

I listen to CBC radio, so I not only get to hear what’s going on, but I get to listen to in depth thoughtful interviews.  And really, if I miss hearing about yet another bombing or mass shooting, I’m actually very okay not knowing about it.  No disrespect to the victims, but I was feeling very overwhelmed and helpless with a world on fire, and seek a simpler existence.  Every week, there was another Facebook move to be :”Je Suis (insert place of the latest atrocity) and my heart shattered into even smaller pieces.  Being the change, for me, meant not turning a blind eye, but choosing peace in my own life, and not just gawking in horror.

I have replaced a lot of that screen time with Pokemon Go, which is a much more adaptive way to interact with the internet.  My boyfriend and I go on regular “Pokedates” where we spend quality, cooperative time together, not just lost staring into the abyss of our computers.  I have started connecting with a local group called “Geek Girls of London” and I feel like I have met my tribe.  Every Thursday, we go to a cafe and knit, followed by Pokemon hunting downtown until 11 or midnight.  As a result, I have started losing weight.  In the past 2 weeks, I’ve walked over 30 km, which is a feat, considering I was entirely sedentary before the Facebook Exodus.

And my business is growing more than ever!  I have 7 events booked for September, and have a meeting tomorrow morning for a really exciting event in October (stay tuned to my events page.

I think the only thing that I really do miss are the regular pics of everyone’s kids.  My friend S has an adorable baby named K.  She looks like a living cabbage patch, and I almost died of cuteness on many occasions.  I miss E’s art.  I miss I’s puns.  I miss Y’s longing for when the time is right for her to finally adopt a cat. But this is just more incentive to hang out with these people in person.

Overall, the pros of leaving Facebook far outweigh the cons.  After all, it’s just a website.

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How to talk to a tarot reader (if you don’t believe in tarot)

I host a tarot meet up in my city of London Ontario once a month.  Up until very recently, we met in my cousin’s restaurant in the Old East Village.  Our group was growing so fast that my voice was not carrying.  It’s so exciting to see so many people so passionate about the same thing!  We have a great group full of amazing people.  I wanted to make sure everyone could get what I was saying.  We needed to borrow a chalk board or white board so everyone could take part. So, I posted on the local community association page that I was looking for one for the night.  Instead of being greeting with tips on where I could find one, certain members of this association saw fit to degrade and insult me, insisting that I should have some sort of magic knowledge of where white boards were, and I should be able to mind read to have one delivered.  I called him on his behaviour, and and asked him if he would have given the same treatment to someone teaching a cooking or exercise class.  He said he was just being funny.  He wasn’t being funny.  He was being rude.  This community is typically so open, so accepting, and so friendly, I was really shocked that such insulting behaviour was exhibited.

A few weeks later, a member of the same community association said he was new to town, and asked for tips for any local psychics.  There were some very helpful hints, and a friend even recommended me.  This was a comment from someone asking to support local businesses.  It was wonderful to see many stepping up and supporting the community.  But in the mix, there were also people being horrible trolls, saying things like “For $50 I’ll tell you anything you want to hear” and “If they were really a psychic, they would call you”.  Apparently, someone has been watching too many Hollywood movies, because that’s not what going to a psychic is all about.  There were probably about 50 posts of people having a hateful field day, and it was just escalating.

What they may not understand, is that the taking of omens, or going to a seer, is a spiritual and religious practice for many, including in my own religion.  The behaviour of many of these commenting members that day could only be described as religious hate speech.  Knowing that this is a violation of, not only the community association, but also of Facebook itself, I tagged the moderators.  Now, if someone had been asking where the closest Mosque was, or where to purchase Shabbat candles, and similar comments were made, the offenders would have been immediately banned!  Instead, the mod said that talk of the paranormal should be met with levity.  Ie- it’s just a joke, sit down and shut up.  I’m sorry, but publicly ripping on another person’s religious practice isn’t funny, and should not be tolerated.  Instead of banning members for religious intolerance, the entire thread was deleted, including the question that the newcomer had, the links to local businesses, and all of the support and tolerance he received.  This was a clear message that, because there were a few intolerant and hateful members, discussions about new-age, neopagan and druid businesses were not welcomed.  Considering that the oldest metaphysical shop in town, Mystic Books, has been thriving in the heart of the community for over 20 years, we should be celebrating and supporting our local businesses, not trolling when someone asks a question.

So here’s what to do if you don’t believe in tarot- don’t order a reading.  Most of us have enough respect for you to not ambush you in the grocery store.  We will let you go about your business, but allow us to conduct ours.  It is totally okay to not believe in tarot.  It is totally okay to have your own opinions.  It is totally okay to have your own views about religion and spirituality?  What’s not okay is to degrade and bully another person because of your belief/ opinion/ view of religion.  It is still okay to like a local business page, or recommend local businesses to others looking for them.  It is not okay to be an asshole about it.  It costs $0 to be a decent human being.

Be excellent to each other.

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The Good Druid’s Garden- July 2016

Things are busy as always, but very good!  We decided against doing the vegetable garden this year.  Our back yard needs some major renos, and we lack the time and funds to do it right.  So for this year, we are supporting our local farmers markets for produce.

Our herb garden didn’t take as it did last year.  I wasn’t home to water it because I’m working a million hours.  The dill and cilantro are coming up, but the basil, thyme and oregano just didn’t germinate.  The parsley was allowed to go to seed, and we plan on using it in our Samhain ritual.  Parsley used to be used at funerals to cover up the smell of the dead.  It can still be used as an offering.

We planted some new trees, thanks to Reforest London.  We now have a cherry tree, a peach, a red maple, and two service berries.  So far the trees are doing well, despite the drought.  It may be 10 years before we start getting fruit, but it’ll be great to watch the process, and eventually have some shade in the yard.

I started a new job at the beginning of June.  My tarot business is growing, but I still need to work to pay the bills.  I am the breadwinner of my little family, so I am working full time and doing tarot full time.   It’s busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I started with a company that is offering me full time permanent hours with a regular schedule, which is the first such position I’ve had as a PSW since I left the call centre to go back to school in 2003.

New job is taking a bit to settle into my schedule.  I started off straight afternoons- noon til 10pm, but that wasn’t working, because no one wants a tarot reading at 11pm.  It was killing my business.  So, I asked for days.  I got the days, but they couldn’t take me off afternoons until they found a replacement for my afternoon clients.  So I am working days… and afternoons, combined.  But, this is temporary.  By next month, I will have a regular schedule.  I will be done work most days by 6pm, except for the two evenings a week I am required.  I will have every other weekend guaranteed off.

It’s a difficult balance.  I was invited to read at an event next weekend, but I am working, and the notice was too short to book it off.  I am doing a tarot party tomorrow at a private residence, and one in two weeks.  I LOVE tarot parties!  I have not been booking a lot of events because I didn’t know what my schedule was going to be.  But, now that I actually have a schedule that I can rely on (or will in the near future), I can start to book events further in the future.  Next summer for sure, I plan on doing a lot of big festivals in Victoria park, like Sunfest and Home County.  I had to turn down Ribfest and Food Fest this year because it wasn’t going to work with my schedule.  But now that life is settling down, I look forward to my business growing.

My online booking system is down.  To book an appointment, email me mapletreedruidry@gmail.com.

And… My Facebook page has reached 400 likes!  Woot woot!

Hope you are all having a great summer!  Stay cool and hydrated.

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