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Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice returns tomorrow. In the midst of ever colder and snowier weather, as hard as it is to believe at times, the days ever-so-gradually begin to grow longer again.
It will be many weeks more still before we begin to experience much in the way of notable longer hours of daylight, and the start of winter may seem like a odd time to focus on sunshine aplenty. Winter, however, is not as desolate and forlorn a season as the barren landscape outside may have you believe.
For under the hibernating heart of a season that sends us running for extra sweaters and a near constant supply of steaming hot drinks, the embryo of next year’s warmth and vitality is slowly developing.
Its birth will usher in the near heady verdancy of spring, which in turn leads us to the sizzling, dreamy days of summer, before returning, in due course, to the majestic beauty and mild temperatures of autumn.
The seasons and how they progress – be it in this order, or in reverse when south of the equator – are familiar to just about everyone.
It is one of many constant patterns in our world that provide background structure and comfort. Even if a person favours certain seasons over the others (*cough, cough* fall), each of the four chapters of the year has an undeniable spirit and energy all its own.
This autumn flew by with stark rapidity. On our end, snow started tumbling down in mid-October, effectively putting the breaks of fall weather and ushering in winter even earlier than usual around these parts.
Yet, no matter how many inches accumulated outdoors, I clung fiercely and lovingly to fall.
It shone out in our seasonal décor and the (real) pumpkins – both full sized and miniature – that are still thriving several weeks after they were purchased. And it resided in the cores of ours hearts, where we mused over past autumns and did our best to make the most of this strange and unsettling year’s own iteration of a treasured season.
For all the changes and uncertainties in the world, and even with the comically early start of winter weather, this fall was lovely.
Simple and classic, busy and yet serene at times as well, it housed traditions and new experiences alike, reminding us not only how much we cherish this slice of the year, but of how far we’ve come as a collective whole since 2020 began.
Today on the final day of this glorious season, we are capping off autumn with the Fall 2020 Edition of Magick, Crafty Makes, & Me.
This will be the last post in this series for 2020. The next one – the Winter 2021 edition – will begin the series anew in a year that many of us are anticipating with both eagerness and thoroughly justified trepidation.
For now though, with a few more days of the present year remaining on the calendar, let’s curl up with one of those aforementioned roasty-toasty drinks and delve into some of the stories and posts that grabbed my attention throughout the fall – and which I hope you will enjoy, find informative, or be inspired by as well. 🧡
Magick, Witchcraft, Paganism, and Spirituality
–5 Ways to Find Focus in Your Magic: I’m thoroughly convinced that there is something of a magpie tendency to many a witchy soul. We love so much, enjoy learning about a wide array of topics, and (in some cases at least) have a naturally eclectic nature that helps to create a varied and ever-evolving practice.
At times though, it is important to take stock of what our core beliefs and practises are, to hone in on the key elements of our spiritual path, and to strengthen our bond with those areas that presently resonate most deeply for us.
If your practice is in need of some direction at present or if you’re just feeling a bit spent spiritually after the intense year we’ve weathered, this insightful entry from Avery at The Travelling Witch may be of interest and benefit to you.
(In a similar vein, The Magick Kitchen recently published a terrific post entitled The Stuck and Unfocused Witch, which also provides plenty of helpful advice for those who are feeling out of sorts with their practice at the moment.)
–Holiday Gift Ideas for Naturalist Pagans: This time of the year sees a bevy of holiday gift guide posts shared far and wide across the blogging sphere. The Pagan and witchery-centred blogging world is no exception, and I’ve really been enjoying those that have crossed my path so far this festive season.
One that has stood out in particular is this splendid array of gift ideas for Naturalist Pagans (those who generally speaking do not subscribe to/believe in, or who are skeptical of, the theistic, supernatural, and/or metaphysical components prevalent in some forms of 21st century Paganism), the entries of which will, no doubt, also appeal to many other types of Pagans and witches as well.
–9 DIY Witchy Yule Gifts: Handmade gifts are amongst the most meaningful and heart-touching presents we to both give and receive. If you’re looking for some wonderful ideas for DIY holiday gifts to make for your fellow witches/Pagans or anyone else you think might enjoy something you crafted by hand, be sure to check out Moody Moon’s lovely array of project ideas.
–Resources for Non-Theistic Pagans and Skeptical Witches: Both outside and inside of the Pagan/witchy sphere there is often a prevailing notion that nearly all witches and Pagan work with and/or believe in some form of deity/Source/Spirit/god or goddess/higher power.
Yet in truth, a fair number do not hold these beliefs or practises and there are no shortage of witchy/Pagan folks who consider themselves to be atheists or agnostics (or who otherwise simply don’t feel called to involve deity in their own spiritual path).
This is, of course, 100% okay and it is, I believe, very important that the community not feel any less inclusive to those who are not theistic or who may have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to certain spiritual matters.
If you fall under this header or are simply interested in learning more about non-theistic Paganism/witchcraft, this extensive and highly useful list is apt to be right up your alley.
–10 Powerful Ways to Make Urban Magick: At present, my husband and I reside in a tiny rural-ish town that is rife with both beautiful farmlands and enchanting woodlands.
Throughout the course of my life, I’ve lived in a number of locations that spanned populations of less than a thousand to multiple millions. There is much to be said in favour of small towns and even more remote locations, but I can just as easily sing the praises of larger cities as well.
I feel fortunate that my heart is largely spit down the middle when it comes to loving both city and small town existence. This helps to ensure that I tend to get on well most anywhere I call home, but it doesn’t mean that at times I don’t yearn for one when living in the other.
Each time I’ve called a town or city my own, I have loved finding ways to integrate my metropolitan surroundings with my witchery.
City magick is a special, awesome type of witchy working all its own. Given how many of us call large urban centers home these days, this post from Other Worldly Oracle is apt to appeal to plenty of magickal folks from Montreal to Madrid, Sydney to Sacramento – and everywhere in between!
–Witchcraft Legacies – Witch Will & Succession Planning: As a chronically ill witch with no children of my own, (to date) only one nephew (who doesn’t speak the same language as me), and no other Pagans or witches in my immediate family, the subject of what may become of my witchy related belongings, written records, and a lifetime of accumulated knowledge + personal experience is one that I have thought about many times over the years.
To be perfectly honest, at this point in time, I don’t have all the answers there. If possible, I would love to gift as many of these things to some of my dearest witchy friends, but as they all live in different parts of the world, not nearby, the costs and practicality involved there may not make such possible.
It is comforting and helpful to know that others in our sphere are thinking about this topic (perhaps all the more so this year because of the pandemic) as well.
If the fate of your witchy knowledge + belongings is a subject that is applicable to your life, you will definitely want to check out this thought-provoking post from The Witch & The Walnut.
Card Making, Scrapbooking, Paper Crafting, and Other Crafts
–Acorn Crafts for the Best Fall Ever: Cute and classic, acorns are a widely adored element of fall that one can easily put to great use on the crafting front. If you swoon over acorns, chances are that at least one idea from this handy craft project list is sure to make you as happy as a squirrel who just found a huge windfall of these delightful oak tree offerings.
–Crochet Cat Paw Chair Socks: If you ask me, whimsy deserves a bigger place in many of our lives and homes alike. Should you feel the same – and know your way around a pair of crochet hooks – then this cuter-than-cute project is bound to be the cat’s meow in your eyes! 😊
–DIY Romantic Fall Boho Wreath: This fall may be ending, but doesn’t mean that you can’t get a jumpstart on creating beautiful seasonal décor for next autumn. I spotted numerous stunning handmade fall wreaths online this year, but few made my heart skip a beat quite like this modern meets timeless stunner from The DIY Mommy.
(I also really enjoyed + was inspired by Christina’s recent posts on how to Make Tiny Terrariums from Jam Jars, How to Make DIY Dryer Balls, How to Make DIY Cocoa Bombs for Hot Chocolate, and DIY Pillows from Napkins.)
–Five Ways with Sparkle Embossing: Few times of the year are better suited to all things shimmery, glittery, and sparkly than the winter holiday season. If you’re looking to inject more shine into your festive makes this season, be sure to take a gander at Jennifer McGuire’s lovely array of five ways to work with sparkle embossing.
–How to Create a Glazed Pottery/China Look on Die Cuts: I am nothing short of smitten with this elegant, versatile, and totally gorgeous embossing technique, as well as the accompany die cut teacup project featured in this post. 😍
–101 Fall Sewing Tutorials (with Free Patterns You’ll Love): If you’re a fan of both fall time and sewing, this awesome post is one you’ll want to check out now and save/pin for later reference as well.
What’s shaking in my life and on my radar
As I knew would be the case, the – how shall we say – Labrador puppy level temporary jolt of energy I experienced at times this summer didn’t last for long.
Thankfully, however, it didn’t fizzle out completely either. Instead, much like fall weather, it mellowed, but remained vibrant at least some of the time.
My husband and I strive to live a simple, uncomplicated life with as little stress and strife as possible. Of course, sometimes the universe has other plans, but whenever possible, we lean into the inherent positives that come with embracing serenity and being grateful for the here and now.
As fall returned, in the wild pockets of woodland and on the wild outskirts of local farms, I continued to walk whenever possible. At times, in the process, forging and bringing home some of nature’s bounty to swirl into our meals, include in my magickal workings, or use as decorations around the house – depending on what Gaia had gifted me with that day.
Unlike most autumns, there were no big family shindigs for Canadian Thanksgiving or Halloween, no gatherings to pick pumpkins, hit the last of the year’s yard sales, or huddle merrily around a bonfire.
Yet, in our own ways, we made the best of things and adapted to the changes. We were still able to hand out candy to the 37 or so trick-or-treaters who came to our door this year on Halloween night (in past years, we’ve averaged between 110 – 120 at this address).
This year has not, by any stretch of the imagination, been the kindest to me on the health front. As a long time multi-chronic illness warrior, I know though that rougher weeks/months/seasons/years come with the territory.
I’m an old shoe at navigating the waters of a body that often seems to have a mind and a will of its own. That doesn’t mean though that I’m not still caught off guard on occasion by just hard medical flare-ups, new issues, and ongoing challenges can hit me sometimes.
Through it all though (almost amazingly to me personally at times), I’ve been able to post here at my usual pace of at least one new entry per week.
I cannot claim the same for IG, however. There too, however, I have done my best to stay as active as possible. Accepting, in the process, that 2020 is not going to set any records as the year in which I posted the biggest number of new snaps to Instagram. C’est la vie!
We must adapt and accept, be grateful for what we have and can do, not spend our precious energy (and health!) on fighting things that cannot be changed at present.
For me, some of the main positive highlights of this fall include:
-Leasing a brand new car around the start of October (our previous vehicle needed a substantial amount of repairs and it would have been illogical to invest thousands of dollars into a car that wasn’t worth a massive amount any more, so it just made sense for us to lease a new vehicle instead). This is the third car Tony and I have now had and we’re really looking forward to spending the next three years (the duration of the lease) with our new 2021 Mazda.
-All the fall walks – even when they looked considerably more like winter treks from the second half of October onward. 😄 I especially adored seeing the autumn and Halloween décor that many people put out in our neighbourhood, followed not long after by Christmas decorations + lights aplenty (so magical!).
-Halloween/Samhain. My favourite and most treasured day of the year. So long as I live, I will breath for October 31st. This year’s was unquestionably different in some respects, but the ancient spirit, spooky soul, and captivating magick of the day were, thankfully, as strong as ever for me.
-Getting in some lovely crafting seasons, particularly in the calm lull of November, between October and December’s extra full days. These sessions afforded me the opportunity to create my handmade holiday season greetings for the year (yay!).
-Tweaking some elements behind the scenes when it comes to my blogging and SM approaches and schedule. Brainstorming post ideas for my blog content here for the first half of 2021, and feeling all the more like I’m finding my stride in terms of this site (which will celebrate its first birthday on January 1st).
On the good ol’ interwebs front, here are a handful of stories and posts that have captured my attention this autumn.
–Amazing Abandoned Long Island Farmhouse That Sat Untouched for 40 Years: Many who are familiar with my Instagram account and/or who used to follow me on my (now retired) vintage blog, know that I have a tremendous passion for the past.
Tied into that adoration is a great love for abandoned buildings. There are relatively few such structures in our area (especially if we’re talking beyond things like decaying old barns and tiny log cabins), so I experience most of my abandon house hunting vicariously through other peoples’ photos and videos.
There is a concept in both the vintage and the real estate world know as a time-warp home. Be it currently occupied or abandoned, a time-warp house in one in which the interior (and often exterior, too) has been largely unchanged for decades or even centuries, as the case may be.
Stepping into such a home is rather like hopping in a time machine and jettisoning back to a previous era.
This story highlights, via many captivatingly beautiful photographs, the recent discovery of an abandoned home that has sat (presumably) untouched since the 1970s.
Upon hearing this, you might expect to be greeted with a sea of shag carpeting, harvest gold appliances, and macrame plant hangers.
Instead, what greets onlookers is a time-warp home rife with Victorian, early and mid-twentieth century furnishings and other belongings. It is a striking, remarkable find and a powerful look at a home whose final owner valued and preserved history right up until her last days on this earth.
–Black Creatives in the Halloween and Horror Community: From one of my absolute favourite Halloween blogs (seriously, if you’re not following Spooky Little Halloween already, run, don’t walk to do so at once!) comes this terrific list of some of the most creative, inspiring, and flat out awesome individuals in the Halloween and horror community.
–Cottagecore Debuted 2,300 Years Ago: It is entirely natural that various styles rise and fall in popularity over the years. Relatively little is new under the sun at this point, but even knowing that, it might surprise you to learn that cottagecore – a true darling of the aesthetic scene as of late – is thought to have got its roots over two thousand years ago, as this fascinating, history rich article details.
–Holiday Simmer Pot Recipes: To me, few things personify the winter holiday season quite like certain memorable, beloved aromas. From freshly cut pine trees to nutmeg rich eggnog, gingerbread to candy canes, this chapter of the year is enriched by the many delights available to us via our olfactory sense.
If you enjoy holiday season scents, I recommend checking out Kayla’s delightful recipes for homemade simmer pots that are natural, easy to make, and sure to have your house smelling more festive than a fleet of Bath & Bodyworks stores.
(And while we’re on the subject of swoon worthy seasonal scents, may I suggest you also give Hello Glow’s Make Your House Smell Like the Holidays with DIY Aromatic Wax Fire Starters a gander.)
–11 Salves for Holiday Grief in the Time of COVID: In one way or another – and often, in a multitude of ways – grief has impacted most of us this year. Some, of course, are harder hit. Their losses profound, their lives irrevocably altered.
Grief is an extremely personal thing and each of us experiences, processes, and (if possible) begins to heal from the trauma or loss that caused it differently.
If you are experiencing grief this holiday season, be it COVID related or otherwise, the caring, easy to implement ideas laid out in this post may just help to make December a bit easier to bear this year.
–1989: Shopping Malls, America: I was four years old in ’89 and view this year as the first one for which I can clearly remember a multitude of days and happenings (though do have a smattering of earlier memories).
I grew up in Canada, not the US, but much like south of the 49th, malls were a really big deal for a lot of people here in the 1980s and 90s.
Looking at these candid snapshots of everyday folks going about their lives at the mall whisked me back in time faster than any DeLorean ever could. And in doing so, made me more than a wee bit nostalgic for a chapter of our collective history that often feels like it was a million years ago now.
Gone but not forgotten
Fall, sweet, enchanting, sublimely wonderful fall. You are like honey to my tongue and music to my ears. Your aromas and colours thrill and inspire me like no other, and though we must part for now, I will not soon forget you.
Indeed, I will carry your name in my heart the whole year through, weaving you into my crafting projects and fashion choices, the movies I watch (rare is the season in which I don’t view Hocus Pocus at least once), the books I read, the poems I pen.
I will think of you with the clarity of a ringing bell when the veil thins in a similar, yet different way, at Beltane. You will be my thoughts as mercury boils on my birthday in July and when, to my mind at least 😄, the very first unofficial steps toward autumn begin the very next day.
When winter’s stronghold refuses to give up the ghost in March, and on Walpurgis Night as a witchy stirring and ancient energy not entirely unlike that of Samhain fills the mild late April air.
For fall is in my DNA and even when we say goodbye, we are never truly parted for good. Indeed, autumn, like all of the seasons, reside in each of us. We are borne of them, and they, in a sense, of us as well.
I would be kidding myself if I said that fall’s end isn’t a melancholy experience for me. Thankfully though, I know that like the harvest moon, it will rise again next year. A wonderful kindred spirit whose lifeblood helps to keep my own going strong.
Right here and now though, like many a Pagan and witch, I am celebrating the Yule season and settling in for what will most likely be about four more months of snow, snow, and more snow (this is Canada after all 😄).
Thankfully, the merriment of both Yule and Christmas help to ease the sting of autumn’s departure, while ushering in a season that, objectively, I’m also very fond of.
Winter is not without its own distinct beauty and charms, blessings and reasons to be grateful for these cold, dark days.
In the coming weeks and months, we will shine the spotlight on some of them, delve into numerous fun seasonal craft projects, and help one another through the teeth chatteringly chilly days of winter.
From the bottom of my heart, sweet friends, I wish you a cozy, safe, serene, beautiful, and happiness filled winter (or summer, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere).
May it help guide us all to a better, healthier, and less challenging year ahead. 🙏🎄❤️