Blessed Be: A Witch's View of the English Countryside
A magical walk through the English Hampshire Countryside as told by a local White Witch and Healer.
Lady May lives and works in the beautiful English Hampshire Countryside. She is a qualified herbalist and witch. She follows a way of life that that has been passed down through her family for generations. She has taken the traditional three degrees of the Craft to become a High Priestess and is still learning. Lady May knows she has been Blessed and greatly honoured at having been taught and mentored by some of the country’s oldest, wisest Elders and followers of the Craft: Witchcraft in its truest sense as it has been practised for thousands of years, with the greatest respect for all living things.
Imbolg also known as Candlemas – Feb 2nd
As I wonder along the quiet country lane on a crisp winter’s morning, a smile begins to spread across my face. A bright beam of sunlight strikes the hedgerow awakening the sleepy flora and fauna and I know the darkness of winter is behind us.
Crow was right, the storm did come and then it just kept on coming. Since the end of last month and for many weeks now harsh weather conditions have re-written this island’s coastlines. Rainfall, the likes of which have not been seen for more than a century, leaves the countryside drowning and submerged in its deluge.
It’s December now, mid-winter and the landscape has been stripped bare. Standing shy and naked it’s vulnerability masking the powerful forces of Nature that lie within.
I am out collecting pine cones to help kindle my log fire and as I bend to fill my basket the heady scent of the tree reminds me of all things Yule. Winter Solstice will soon be here heralding the return of the Sun as minute by minute, each day, the Light returns and with it hope for all things.
Holly bushes bear their fruit of bright red berries and the birds are feasting well. Mistletoe hangs heavily high up in the branches of the apple trees waiting to catch a kiss and I smile at the merriment of the season to come.
Log burner lit and slippers ready warming, I put on my coat and step out into the fading light of a November afternoon. The cold air bites my nose and I pull my hat down further over my ears and head off up the lane. The days have been bright with winter sunshine, but the blue of the sky has somehow lost its vibrancy giving way to more sleepy, muted tones with a touch of greyness about them. But, at this time of day, Sunset, the skies are aglow with the fiery palettes of burnt oranges, deep soulful amber and blood reds.
I wend my way along the lane and turn toward the woods where I am met with a veil of tumbling brambles hung from the hedgerow like the dripping architecture of a gothic cathedral.
In an instant I am cocooned in a swirl of leaves blown from their branches and whipped into an encircling frenzy by the wind. I struggle to pull my collar up, tuck my scarf in and hold on to my hat. What a Blessing to be surrounded by such colour, such energy and yet in all the warmth of the shedding colours of Autumn, I feel the chill of Winter.
I am walking across the field toward the lane, the morning lit with the kiss of bright autumnal sunshine. Blue skies above and the busy chatter of birdsong to accompany me and my heart sings. Leaves tumble before me as they are whipped into a frenzy by the wind, twisting and twirling they weave their acrobatic dance and I am caught in their swirling vortex. I pull my coat tightly around me and hang on to my scarf as I push my way into the shelter of the woods beyond.
The trees continue their whispering above me as they bend and sway. Leaves cascade to the ground like confetti and crackle beneath my feet. I stop to admire the richness of the autumnal palette and the warmth in the hues of golden browns and orange, dotted with the ruby jewels of crab apples. My mind and body bathe in the delicious, sumptuous comfort of this autumnal offering, like slipping into a warm vat of honeyed treacle.
I awake to the bright sunshine of an early September morn and as I yawn and stretch ready to start the day, a chill in the air makes me shudder. Ah yes, the sun is still shining, but here is a definite reminder that the seasons are about to change. I pull back the curtains to chastise the crows who so noisily woke me and am greeted by an opaque film of condensation upon the window. Autumn is here.
I trundle toward the wooden gate at the bottom of my garden swinging my basket in eager anticipation of the bounty I am about fill it with. Big red juicy hawthorn berries beckon me enticingly and I think of the tincture I will make with them, good for the heart and the soul and my stock for the coming year. Huge plump orangey rose hips lay in wait by their side and my mouth waters at the thought of the sweet, sticky syrup they will become. I add huge purple berries from the elder tree and my arsenal of herbal remedies, ready to beat the Winter blues is nearly complete.
Lavender pink wands of loosestrife wave me on by as I continue my medicinal harvest and I notice how the branches are drooping from the drought of a long hot Summer.
Geese fly in formation overhead and I marvel at the sight, like a spear piercing the blue sky, intent on its target, home they fly. I trip and stumble and giggle to myself as I look down to find the empty shells of acorns strewn all around me, evidence indeed that I am not the only one on a mission to fill my larder. Little holes in the ground where squirrels have been busily hiding their nuts and others have been digging them up.
And there, just there, I spot a most perfect ring of tiny mushrooms, hundreds of them just crowning above the blades of grass.
I return to my garden to pick the Bramley apples that have fallen to the ground and on my way a handful of blackberries fall into my basket. A crumble is in the making. As I bend to gather the apples I notice how the lawn is covered with tiny hammocks of cobwebs all glistening in the early sun, rocking gently on the breeze. I hail to the fairy folk who have slept there.
Cobwebs everywhere hanging from branches and twigs, the handle of the spade I left in the flower bed, from flower to flower, everywhere, cobwebs. They trap the early morning light in a canvas of magical crystal like artwork and I am drawn closer, enchanted by their magic. So pure. So fragile.
I prepare the apples for the crumble and marvel at how they can turn from firm slices to powdery fluffy puree in an instant, just as you turn your back for a moment and something moves just out of vision on the wall above the aga.