He knows not his own strength who hath not met adversity. – William Samuel Johnson
Since launching this quarterly blog post series in 2020, I have often begun my “Magick, Crafty Makes, and Me” entries with a quote pertaining to the forthcoming season.
There is no shortage of excellent quotes to be had about this revitalizing time of the year. However, while we are technically two short days away from the start of springtime, a different season, so to speak, has fallen upon the earth once again: that of profoundly devastating war.
I know and am the first to acknowledge that, heartbreakingly, there have been wars in one part of the world or another pretty much continually since time immemorial. The preceding (and present) years of the 21st century fully included.
No serious conflict is without suffering, loss, injustice, hardship, sacrifice, and long-lasting devastation. Yet few wars since the final days of WW2 have, mercifully, brought with them the imminent possibility of another large-scale global war.
That is until the world’s biggest country (geographically speaking) decided to wage battle against a peaceful neighbouring nation for absolutely no good – or moreover, even remotely justifiable – reason.
Generally speaking, I go out of my way to avoid the news (especially as an HSP and an empath), knowing that if something is big or important enough, I will surely find out about it one way or another.
However, like a great deal of us, I have been glued to news reports regarding the horrific conflict in Ukraine.
Tears fall from my eyes like shrapnel of the soul. They are shed in unison with the millions that tumble from the exhausted, frightened, and utterly perplexed eyes of countless Ukrainians. To say nothing of the rest of the world, too.
As with most tragedies, there is a powerful sense of the surreal to what is happening in Eastern Europe right now.
Surely, we will all wake up tomorrow or the next day or the day after that and realize that the past three (going on four) weeks have been a hellacious nightmare.
Yet, as is so often the case, the very worst nightmares stem not from our sleeping minds, but from the atrocities that are carried out by certain individuals, groups, or nations when we are acutely awake.
I need only climb a few short branches back in time on my family tree to quickly come face-to-face with ancestors who hailed both from Russia and what is present-day Ukraine + Moldova. Some of whom immigrated to Canada as recently as the 1930s.
I knew and loved a few of these people firsthand before their respective passings during the early years of my childhood.
They were not far-off relations from centuries-long past. They were amongst my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great aunts + uncles. They embraced their new homeland with gusto but never lost sight of the culture, traditions, and memories they had grown up experiencing on the other side of the world.
As is the case for most people, it should go without saying that I am 100% on the side of Ukraine (and that of the Russian citizens who are strongly opposed to this incredibly brutal conflict).
It would be unconscionable in my books not to be.
This is not the first time in their nation’s long and fascinating history that Ukraine has come under siege or been unfathomably brutalized in other ways. For example, (WARNING: the following link includes graphic subject matter and images that may be difficult/disturbing for some viewers – especially younger ones) the Holodomor that occurred under the tyrannical reign of Joseph Stalin.
I have no doubt that many people in Ukraine knew prior to this war’s onset that they were strong, proud, capable individuals.
However, both inside and all the more so outside of the country itself, it is safe to say that few could have imagined just how incredibly strong and resilient 21st-century Ukrainians would prove to be.
The quote that begins this post stems from one of America’s founding fathers, William Samuel Johnson. It is no less true today than it was in the 18th century. If anything, it may in fact hold even more weight nowadays.
Of course, though this colonial-era quote houses male pronouns, it is safe to say that Ukrainians of all genders are showing amazing fortitude and bravery in the face of their nation literally being razed to the ground.
So long as nuclear and biological weapons are not introduced into the fold, I continue to believe that Ukraine has a very real chance of winning this sham of a war.
Not a sham in the sense of it being make-believe (sadly, nothing could be further from the truth), but rather a sham because of its senseless and unprovoked nature.
As many of us keep a watchful eye on news updates viewed on TV, cell phone, tablet, and computer screens, the ravages of war growing ever more horrendous with each passing minute, it can be hard to shift our focus to lighter matters.
For not the first time in my life, tragedy drives home an intensely strong sense of what, at the end of the day, really matters and what can at times seem rather trivial and/or happy-go-lucky by comparison.
Just as it is doing for countless other souls across the globe right now as well.
We go on though, our hearts heavy with emotions such as grief, anger, and fear. We keep trying to live the lives that we are immeasurably blessed to have to the best of our abilities.
Ukraine is never far from our minds – nor is the looming threat of global war – as we do so. We have been starkly reminded of how, objectively, any of our own countries could theoretically find itself in the same sort of situation.
Thousands of miles away from Eastern Europe, snow still dots the landscape around our corner of British Columbia.
Springtime has phoned and made reservations, but it has not checked into its suite just yet.
It is coming through. The ever-earlier arrival of sunlight each morning, the orchestra of bird songs that have begun to fill the air once again, and the first brave crocuses that proudly stretch their necks above the frozen ground all assure us that spring will be here before we know it.
With just two days to go until the official start of spring in the Western Hemisphere, it is time for a fresh new edition of this reoccurring post series.
As usual, the Winter 2022 Edition of Magick, Crafty Makes, and Me is a link love post featuring online content that caught my eye during the past three months, coupled with a peek into what has been transpiring lately in my own life.
Magick, Witchcraft, Paganism, and Spirituality
–Advice for the Beginner Witch: It is scarcely a secret that witchery has seen a massive rise in popularity both over the past few decades and all the more so in recent years.
Naturally, this has led to the presence of a good deal more newbie witches and/or those who may have flirted with the craft previously, but never dedicated themselves to it and now feel a calling to do just that.
It can be – especially in this day and age of social media – challenging to start out as a new witch. It seems like there is so much to know and do and learn. Getting overwhelming or feeling like you must keep up with the witchy Joneses (many of whom have been practicing for ten, twenty-five, forty – you name it – years at this point) can easily happen.
Go easy on yourself, dear witchling, and find both advice and encouragement from this lovely post that guides new witches through some very useful approaches to beginning your beautiful journey into witchhood.
–Cute Witch Art Projects for Kids: Save for our six-year-old nephew (who lives in Italy), there are currently no young kids in our immediate family. If there were (and they lived nearby), I would love to spend a fun-filled afternoon with them making the simple, budget-friendly witch-related art projects that are featured in this charming post from Moody Moons.
–50 Signs that You’re an Old Soul: In my experience, many old souls inherently know that they are precisely that. However, sometimes a person may not be aware of their beautifully aged soul or, if they are, they might like to learn more about the subject. Finding, in the process, shared traits and experiences with plenty of their fellow old souls.
If you consider yourself to be one – or know somebody who does – be sure to pop on by Other Worldly Oracle’s excellent look at 50 ways to tell that you are an old soul.
–How to Make a Lovely Herb Drying Rack: Now, granted, this link could have gone in the more generic crafty column above. However, given how many witchy/Pagan folks are deeply interested in herbology, I figured that this link would be at squarely home in this section, too.
While most herbs (especially those grown outdoors) have not rebloomed again yet this year, in due course they will. If you have been itching to find an effective way to dry more of them yourself, this lovely tutorial on how to make a hanging herb drying rack has your back all the way.
–Make a Tiered Herb Planter with Dollar Store Buckets: And carrying on with the herb growing theme – because, if you can’t go all out on gardening-related topics in the spring, when can you? – this fantastic and very wallet-friendly approach to making a tiered herb planter with inexpensive buckets from the dollar store is a great approach for those on a budget or anyone looking to save some green (see what I did there? 😄) on the herb growing front.
–7 Reasons Why Self-Love is Spiritually Empowering: These days, most of us are familiar with the concepts of self-care and self-love. Ideally, we try our best to successfully make time in our busy lives to focus on these important areas. In doing so, however, have you ever stopped to think about the connections that can (and often do) exist between self-love and your spirituality?
This great post from Reroot Your Life explores that very subject and offers up seven excellent reasons why self-love is spiritually empowering.
–The Ethics of Divining World Events: It is human nature to look for answers, insight and (ideally) comfort when times get not only tough, but downright brutal.
For those who engage in various forms of divination, it can likewise come naturally to us to seek (possible!!!) answers with the cards, runes, or most other methods of divining.
This thought-provoking post from esteemed witchery/Paganism blogger + author John Beckett (I cannot recommend his book The Path of Paganism highly enough) delves into the pros and cons, ethically speaking, of doing just for major world events.
No matter which side of the fence you fall on when it comes to this subject, John’s fairhanded article is well worth reading during these tremendously uncertain times.
Cardmaking, Scrapbooking, Paper Crafting, and Other Crafts
–A Simple Lavender Wreath to Celebrate Spring: While “simple” in terms of the number of products required and ease of creation, rest assured that this elegant spring wreath is a head-turningly beautiful way to add extra seasonal pizzazz to any door (or wall) in your home.
–Cuddly Pompom Easter Bunny Tutorial: If you are in the mood for a melt-your-heart adorable springtime craft that is both easy and fabulously festive (not to mention a great gift idea), allow me to suggest this delightful pompom Easter (or Ostara) Bunny tutorial.
(For more awesome spring, Ostara, and Easter craft ideas, be sure to check out my post 35 Wonderful Ostara Crafts, DIY Projects, and Décor Ideas for The Spring Equinox.)
–DIY Flower Butterfly Wings: In my latest project share post (Delightful Butterfly-Themed Happy Ostara Shaker Card for the Spring Equinox) I discussed how butterflies are a harbinger of spring’s return that I – like many of us – can never get enough of. 🦋
If you have ever wanted to make a pair of your very own wearable butterfly wings, this photo-filled DIY project post will guide you through how to do just that.
The inclusion of dried flowers/leaves makes these wings especially enchanting. Not to mention more than lovely enough to proudly display, when not being worn, in your home as the work of magical art that they are.
(I cannot help but think how fantastic this project would also look with jewel-toned fall leaves, should you wish to make different seasonal versions of wearable butterfly wings.)
–DIY Gold Foil Vintage Bee Birthday Cards: Much like butterflies, bees are another winged friend that helps to signal spring’s return and who does so much to help keep nature in bloom year after year.
If you are in the mood to celebrate bees in papercrafting form during the upcoming season (or anytime), this gorgeous gold foil card project from Diana at Dreams Factory is a stunning way to do just that.
(If you do not happen to have the tools, such as a laminator, that she uses here, I suspect a somewhat similar look could be achieved by using a good-sized bee stamp, clear embossing ink, and a rich metallic gold embossing powder such as Princess Gold from Ranger.)
And from the same blog, I adore this post on How to Make DIY Spray Inks in Any Colour.
–Four Ways to Organize Your Sticker Addiction: This post is a few years old, but I just hit upon it this winter and felt that it would be right at home in the next edition of this link love series.
Sticker storage can often be a challenge for those of us who cannot get enough of this charming craft product. Yet finding effective ways to store our beloved stickers is often considerably trickier than amassing them in the first place. 😄
In this post, the author weighs the pros and cons of four different approaches for storing planner-related stickers. However, these same ideas can easily translate into just about any kind of sticker your heart desires.
–Oh Romeo Mini Quilt: As I have mentioned a time or two before, I am not a quilter. However, I adore this awesome fabric craft all the same.
I find there are numerous similarities between quilting and papercrafting and am continually inspired by many different types of quilted projects.
Case in point, this fabulously creative “Oh Romeo Mini Quilt” is an enchanting fabric art ode to one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.
–3-D Paper Eggs: Where would spring be without a bevy of eggs and all manner of craft + décor items depicting them? 🐣
Whether you are keen to ditch dyed eggs or would like a fun project to accompany that classic springtime act, this super easy-to-replicate tutorial guides you through how to make three-dimensional paper eggs that can be hung around your home for an extra sweet dose of seasonal cheer.
What’s Shaking in My Life and On My Radar
This winter passed, as they pretty much always do around these parts, in a flurry of snowflakes, bone-chilling temps, parkas, and warm woollen mittens. ☃️
Three cold snaps punctuated the already frozen air, though none saw the mercury drop below -30C/-22F.
Believe me when I say that by Canadian standards, that really isn’t too bad. 😄
As I mentioned here a few blog posts ago, my sister contracted Covid this winter. Thankfully, she did not become extremely ill and/or require hospitalization. While she is still in the process of healing and regaining energy, I am grateful beyond measure to report that she is doing a fair bit better these days.
None of our other loved ones came down with Covid this winter (nor did Tony or I), which we are also endlessly thankful about. One can only speculate as to if that same statement can be made in another three months – let alone at the end of the year.
Also a few weeks ago, Tony and I received our booster shots (aka, our third vaccinations) and will continue to be the first in line for any future Covid vaccines that may be offered to the Canadian public.
Even though I personally think it is too soon to do so, earlier this week the BC provincial government rescinded the law mandating that masks be worn in most types of businesses and other enclosed public spaces.
I am starkly aware of the fact that a huge percentage of the population will, if not toss their masks away outright, then at least banish them to the back of the closet.
It is very easy to understand why and just as I have maintained since the get-go with the pandemic, to each their own when it comes to navigating the challenging waters of the Coronavirus.
Personally, however, as someone who is immune-compromised, I will continue to sport a mask to all the same types of places I have been doing so for the past couple of years. Far better to be safe than sorry. 😷
With so much uncertainty in the world right now – and with the pandemic still going strong – we have not made much in the way of plans yet for the coming spring and summer months.
And after the especially brutal wildfire season that ravaged BC last year (it stands as one of the all-time worst on record here), we are already feeling a bit of trepidation regarding what the coming sizzling hot months may hold in store for our province this year.
Much as I wish with all my might that I could state the polar opposite, I do not have any positive updates regarding the serious and incredibly perplexing “new” medical issues that I have been battling since 2020.
Diagnoses are still proving wildly elusive, as is anything even approaching the degree of health care that I should be receiving to help get to the bottom of what on earth is impacting me.
I am no stranger (far from it!) to fighting tirelessly for diagnoses and the overall state of my health. I have been doing that for twenty, going on twenty-one years straight now.
Not, however, let me clarify, for most of these latest health issues themselves, but rather for just about all of my other chronic illnesses that preceded them.
Ever since these new medical challenges entered my life, at the start of each new season I find myself looking towards the end of it, hoping beyond measure that there will be some form of positive health-related changes by then. Some desperately needed help. Some sign that instead of continuing to worsen, things are stabilizing – or perhaps even showing a flicker of improvement.
And though my body and overall state of health continue to deteriorate and weaken further with each passing week, I am resolute in my hope and in my unceasing drive to get the medical answers, help, and treatment(s) that I NEED no matter how long I must battle for each one of those vital things.
On a far more upbeat note, the Spring Equinox is just two days away! ☀️
That day is when I will personally be observing the heart of the Ostara season. And while (as is often the case) I will do so in the company of lingering wintertime snow and ice, I am wonderfully excited to celebrate the newness, positivity, rebirth, and fresh possibilities that spring houses.
Then, come the first week of April, we will celebrate my mother’s birthday. I am hopeful that – after two years of not being able to safely do so – we can spend in person with her (just as we were able to do for my own b-day last summer).
I have said it before, but I will happily say it again: my mom’s birthday is akin to a second start of spring for me and always heralds the return of bloom, baby chick, and rainbow season all the more. 🥳
And speaking of my birthday, it is now less than four months away. A fact which I can scarcely believe!
First, though, we get to experience the beauty and wonder of spring, as the natural world breaks free of its lengthy wintertime hibernation and brightens our days both literally and figuratively in many enjoyable ways.
I have a lot of ideas for fun, informative, and inspiring blog posts here in the coming months – including, all things willing, a brand-new edition of the Cemetery Journeys post series that I launched here last year.
A number of you have emailed to ask me when that would be happening, so I am striving as hard as I can to get the next exciting journey up this spring.
And now, sweet dears, on with a smattering of assorted links that leapt out at me over the course of these past three snow-covered months.
Tragically, its author died young at the age of just thirty years old. Leaving, at the time, an unpublished second manuscript that we know with a good degree of certainty existed at one point, but which has sadly been long lost to the hands of time (or perhaps, as some strongly suspect destroyed by one of her sisters).
This engaging article takes a gander at Emily’s iconic inaugural novel, while also digging into the mystery surrounding what her second book may have been about as well as what fate might have befallen that now (presumably) long-lost second manuscript.
–11 Ways to Wear a Bat Bow: Whether you would only rock a bat bow in October or could easily – and gleefully – do so the whole year round, this charming post suggests eleven fun ways to inject some sartorial bat-themed goodness into your attire as often as your heart desires.
–Goth Fast Fashion and Why It Isn’t Always a Good Thing: Regardless of your preferred personal style(s), this post – from Gothic Charm School author Jillian Venters – poses some insightful and important points that apply to a sizable percentage of clothing consumers in many parts of the world.
Fast fashion may be de rigueur in the sphere of 21st-century attire, but as Jillian wisely argues, it is often far from the choice we should be making – at least on a regular basis.
–Lost Women of Science Podcast: This recently launched podcast series (from New York Times reporter Katie Hafner) is on a mission to shine the very well-deserved spotlight on female scientists whose work, and in many cases, names, are little known despite the important contributions they made not only to the field, but to life on earth, point-blank.
The first scientist to be featured is Dorothy Andersen, a physician and pathologist who forever changed the lives of many people around the world when, in 1938, she discovered and defined cystic fibrosis.
As a passionate lover of science (and staunch advocate for women in STEM), I eagerly looking forward to seeing what other women will be featured in future editions of this much-needed podcast.
–Metal Pens Pre-17th Century: Much like the link pertaining to sticker organization shared above, this post has a few years under its belt.
It remains a gem all the same and, being a lifelong writer myself, I could not help but share it here – especially since the concept of metal pens is not something many of us associate with times preceding the Victorian era (let alone prior to the 1600s!).
As this article clearly demonstrates, however, they are invention that stretches centuries back in time prior to that point and which have been evolving for hundreds of years now.
–The Top Ten Strangest Snakes in The World: If you happen to have ophidiophobia, please be advised that chances are this link is not for you.
If, on the other hand, you are not afraid of snakes and would like to learn more about some of the most unique and (often) rarest of our slithering reptile friends, read on a very cool selection of ten unforgettable types of serpents.
–Metal Pens Pre-17th Century: Much like the link pertaining to sticker organization shared above, this post has a few years under its belt.
It remains a gem all the same, and as a writer myself, I could not help but share it here – especially since the concept of metal pens is not something many of us associate with times preceding the Victorian era (let alone prior to the 1600s!).
As this article clearly demonstrates, however, they are an invention that stretches centuries back in time prior to that point and which has been evolving for hundreds of years now.
–Toronto Based Startup is Combatting Deforestation with Tree Planting Drones: There is no denying the profound importance of reforestation in the battle against the ever more alarming climate crisis that our planet is besieged with these days.
While there are various ways to plant and grow new trees, few are as innovative or original as that from Canadian Flash Forest, which is using drones to plant new trees. 🌲
How many trees, you may ask? At the time this article was written last year, no less than 300,000 seed pods had been dropped across specific parts of Canada.
One can only wonder how high that total will continue to climb – and hope, all the while, that this clever technique rapidly catches on around the globe.
Bonus link: Last October I shared a post here called 13 Awesome Cemetery Focused Blogs Every Taphophile Should Be Following.
In that post, one of the blogs that I featured was of renowned author Loren Rhodes, whose work spans both the fiction and nonfiction spheres.
Thanks to that post, Loren and I connected for the first time ever and have remained in touch since (which is the coolest thing in – pun fully intended – my books, as I have been a big fan of her work for quite some time now).
Loren emailed me a few days ago to share that she would be launching a Kickstarter campaign (which is now live) to help back her newest release: Death’s Garden Revisited: Relationships with Cemeteries.
The title brings together personal reflections from numerous people around the world who have strong connections (for a myriad of different reasons) to cemeteries.
As a passionate taphophile who finds few experiences in life more enjoyable, spiritually fulfilling, and inspiring than visiting cemeteries, you can imagine how delighted I was to learn about Loren’s latest writing project.
Whether you enjoy genealogy, history, the art and design of cemeteries, or just about anything else pertaining to burial grounds, this book is apt to be right up your alley.
If you would like to help bring Death’s Garden Revisited to the point of publication, I encourage you to please consider donating to Loren’s Kickstarter campaign.
Hold Fast to Dreams
Though it has only been three short months since the Autumn 2021 edition of this post series appeared, for reasons both global and personal, it feels more like two years have elapsed between now and when we said farewell to fall.
Exceedingly few amongst us could have predicted when this winter began that less than a single season later, the world would be rocked once again by an unthinkable tragedy of epic proportion.
That is what has happened though and as with everything that leaves a stamp in indelible ink upon human history, we as a species will be forever impacted by the war in Ukraine.
Assuming, that is, that our species is able to keep going beyond the current generation.
I am nothing if not an optimist, but I am also the poster child for realists everywhere.
Since my early youth, I have studied the first two world wars to a degree that I cannot even begin to measure.
My eyes have taken in hundreds, if not thousands, of books and hours of programming alike pertaining to these world-altering conflicts – especially WW2 and the holocaust.
Beyond those two massive conflicts, I have been drawn to studying and trying to make sense of war, famine, genocide and other forms of the worst possible things human beings can do to one another for as far back as I can recall.
Everything that I have learned, viewed through lenses both philosophical and pragmatic, and laid awake at night thinking about, currently braces me for even more brutal days ahead.
Just like the citizens of Ukraine and countless others around the globe, I hold tight to the belief that the guns will be silenced, the bombs returned to their hiding places, and that the carnage and devastation will end before we as a collective whole do things from which there is no coming back.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Some thirty years on from when I committed those poignant and powerful lines to memory, they remain with me verbatim.
As I lay my head down to sleep each night and again when that ever-brighter dawn wrestles me from slumber, I find Hughes’s words echoing through my thoughts.
They live in my heart and will remain there for as long as it continues to beat.
The dream, in this instance, is one of unwavering hope for an end to the war in Ukraine, the suffering on both sides, and the ability for the survivors to be able to one day piece their shattered lives back together again.
Their futures will not be the same ones that lay before them a few agonizingly short weeks ago, but there is still hope and the prospect of some sort of stability again.
We, as a planet, did in 1918 and again in 1945. Now, before WW3 truly does erupt, let’s stop this madness and do it again in the spring of 2022.
The very fate of the world may be riding on it.
As we look towards the coming season – be it spring on this side of the equator of my beloved autumn for those south of it – there are not words enough to convey how much I hope that you are able to have a safe season wherever you call home.
My deepest wishes for wellness, happiness, and peace to each of you, cherished friends – and to everyone who calls this remarkable planet of ours home. 🙏🌎🙏