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A Kitchen Witch's Musings
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It is often during difficult times that we can experience stress and anxiety. These are often emotions that are associated with feeling nervous or fearful, being worried and can come with a sense of dread or panic. Hugh levels of stress and anxiety can come from unexpected life events, such as an accident, health issues, loss or bereavement, pressure from work or redundancy, financial issues and problems in relationships or with family. Traumatic experiences can also lead to high levels of stress and anxiety due to feelings of not being safe or secure.
Stress and anxiety can come in three components:
Cognitive: Thinking, beliefs and rules.
Behavioural: Avoiding certain situations, developing rituals, looking for reassurances.
Physiological: Bodily sensations and symptoms.
All of these feelings are a normal response to feeling threatened or being in a frightening situation, dealing with an emergency, danger that is either real or perceived, or instances where we need to perform well. However, if this stress goes on for too long it can lead to feelings of anxiety.
One of the ways to help overcome stress and anxiety is to identify the situations that we are finding difficult and look at your thoughts, emotions and physiological sensations and how these go on to affect your behaviour. Journaling these can help you focus on what you want to change allowing you to have more control over your emotional and behavioural responses. In the journal you can give an example of a situation that triggers the stress or anxiety, then you can write down your thoughts and your emotions that you experience at that time and where you might feel the reactions in your body.
By looking at your thoughts you can then acknowledge and understand how they might have a negative impact in making the threat seem worse and lowering your confidence and belief in how you can deal with the threat. Using affirmations and positive statements will allow the negative beliefs to be replaced with positive ones, if repeated enough times. Telling yourself “I am safe”, “I am OK” are examples of affirmations.
We often develop coping strategies that allow us to deal with uncomfortable emotions, however sometimes these coping strategies can become outdated and actually make the situation worse. By really experiencing the emotion and all the feelings that they create, allows you to no longer fear them. You can then take control of the emotion.
When experiencing stress or anxiety you may use certain behaviours such as avoidance, escape, rituals or alcohol consumption. By forcing yourself to stay with the situation you can learn to understand that anxiety passes. In fact you can only have a panic attack for eight minutes until all the hormones are used up. Staying with it and watching it pass builds your confidence, allowing you to change your behaviour.
Relaxation is crucial to decrease stress and anxiety but can often be forgotten in the moment. So find a way to relax that works for you, some examples are: listening to music, being out in nature, gardening, being with animals, meditating or practising mindfulness, exercising, reading or watching a film.
By remembering that you are in control of your beliefs, thoughts and behaviours you can control the level of stress and anxiety that you experience.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th June 2020
175g unsalted butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
150g demerara Sugar
100g chopped crystallised ginger
250g medium porridge oats
Pinch Sea Salt
1 tsp ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4. Put the butter, golden syrup, sugar and crystallised ginger in a large heavy based saucepan. Heat gently, stirring often, until the butter has only just melted and the sugar is still grainy. Remove from the heat. Add the porridge oats, salt and ground ginger and mix together.
Turn the mixture into a prepared baking tray, spread evenly and push down well with the back of a spoon. If you like them soft and chewy, bake for 20 minutes until a light-medium golden colour. Leave for longer if you prefer a harder flapjack,
Run a knife around the edge to release the flapjack. Leave for 5 minutes, then mark into portions. Leave in tin until cold before cutting into pieces. They do keep in an airtight tin for 10 days, if they can survive that long (they never have in this house!).
If you don't have demerara sugar then you can use other brown sugars or even granulated sugar.
I have also made this recipe omitting the crystallised ginger and ground ginger and using 300g of muesli instead of the porridge oats along with a tablespoon of dessicated coconut.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th May 2020
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, many people are understandably feeling anxious. There are many techniques that you can use to help should you feel an attack of anxiety coming on.
Anxiety is a cascade reaction that happens after adrenaline is released by the brain. The amygdala, the reptilian part of the brain, senses danger and puts the body into the fight, flight or freeze mode. Releasing adrenaline which causes the heart to beat faster, respiration to increase so oxygen can be pumped around the body ready to fight or run away. This is why you may experience light headedness. Just to reassure, a panic attack can only last for eight minutes, although it may feel longer than this due to the side effects of the adrenaline, as the hormone will all be used up.
One of the best ways of dealing with an anxiety attack is as soon as you recognise what is happening to practice ratio breathing. What this does is restores the level of oxygen in the system to where it needs to be. Very simply you breath in for the count of three and out for the count of six. By also keeping the body relaxed it is physiologically impossible to go into fight or flight.
AnxietyUK suggest practising the APPLE technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
Redefining time can be useful, taking longer to do even the simplest of chores can help to keep you in the moment, allowing you to avoid feeling anxious.
It can really help to reach out to others and to talk, the wonderful readers at TheCircle are all here for you if needed. Please take care of yourself in these difficult times and remember not to just be kind to others but also to yourself.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd April 2020
Tiddy Mun's existence was first cited in June 1891 in an article by M. C. Balfour in the Folklore Society journal Folk-Lore . In the article she recalls a story told to her by an older person who spoke of a curse of pestilence that had been cast upon his village by the Tiddy Mun, who was angered at the draining of the Fens by the Dutch, led by Cornelius Vermuyden, in the seventeenth century.
According to the story the Tiddy Mun was eventually placated after the villagers gathered at midnight on a full moon, poured buckets of water back into the bog and apologised for the damage caused. “He dwelt deep down in the green water holes, and came out at evenings when the mists rose. Then he came creeping out in the darklings, limppelty lobelty, like a dearie wee old granter, all matted and tangled, a long grey gown so that they could hardly see him in the dusk, but they could hear him whistling like the wind and laughing like a peewit” He was not exclusively malevolent; if the Fens flooded and the waters reached the villages, people would go out at night and call ‘Tiddy Mun wi'out a name, tha watters thruff!’ ("Tiddy Mun without a name, the water's rough!") until they heard the cry of a peewit, and the next morning the waters would have receded. The Tiddy Mun is described as looking like an old man with long, tangled white hair, thin green body and broad round yellow hat and a matted white beard.
This may be some throwback to pagan times, as the Fen people believed that when floods threatened, as they frequently did, entreaties and offerings made at night to these supernatural beings would see the waters recede by morning. It is tempting also to see, as with much European folklore, the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms, given their description: thin green body, big feet, and a broad and round yellow hat. It is also suggested that the tales were straight from the imagination of a Victorian folklorist, but perhaps with the germ of local legend at their heart. Whatever, the stories are still told in the Fens today.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published:4th March 2020
In today's hectic world it is very easy to be thinking about the next thing that needs to be done and forgetting the need to be present in this very moment. All too often we forget to really listen to the people who are talking to us in our rush to get on with the next job or to say our piece. By being present, by really being there to listen to others, will not only make the person who is speaking feel valued, it also makes the whole conversation richer and much more rewarding for ourselves.
It takes practice to achieve this, to be in the moment and it may well initially be a very fleeting experience. You may feel a moment of calm, of true acceptance, connection to the Universe and beyond. In time these moments last longer giving a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn positively affects our mood and that of those around us. It makes the world a better place to be.
You don't have to start out big, just focus on something that doesn't have any emotional connection, such as a flower or tree. Just observe without judgement using all your senses, try not to give names to the sensations just allow yourself to feel them, to truly experience them. If thoughts come into the mind let them flow through and out again. Don't get annoyed or angry with yourself when it happens just gently bring your focus back. Try doing this with mundane chores such as the washing up, feel the warmth of the water, the bubbles on your skin, the feel of the plate, can you smell the washing up liquid? By being present it can put even the dull and boring into a different light.
The real joy though, the real pleasure comes when you are really present with those around you who you love and care for and who love and care for you. By just being, you can really feel the power of love which connects you to the higher energies, the Divine, the Universe call it what you will. Once felt it is something that you will find yourself doing more and more and in turn will benefit you on so many levels. Give it a go just for a few minutes a day and see how much better it makes you feel and in turn those around you.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th February 2020
In my last blog I wrote about kindness and how it has been shown to be beneficial to others as well as ourselves. One thing that I didn't talk about is being kind to ourselves. It can almost be easier to be kinder to other people than it can be to be kind to ourselves. Why not as the New Year is here, make that commitment not only to be kind to others but also to be kind to yourself.
So often that voice in our head can berate us and put us down, often in a way that we would never dream of talking to another individual in such a way. Censoring that voice and taking that moment to stop and speak to yourself in a kinder more compassionate way allows you to have respect for yourself and to build your self-esteem.
To err is human, to forgive Divine as the old saying goes. We all make mistakes it is very much part of being human and it is actually a good part of how we learn. As a toddler those mistakes of touching something hot and being burned taught us to be wary of hot things. It is when we mess up or when we cannot cope with a situation where we need the most kindness, hope and encouragement rather than blame and recrimination. This does not mean that you become self-absorbed or self-pitying you just acknowledge that you are having a tough time of it at the moment but it will pass. By being kind to yourself you will find that the difficult time will pass quicker.
Taking responsibility for your mistakes is a useful exercise, accept what has happened, what you did or maybe didn't do and thinking about how things can be done differently next time should that situation arise again, will allow you to move on and not hold on to guilt or shame. None of us are perfect and we all have different strengths and weaknesses, so play to your strengths and acknowledge the weaknesses. It takes all sorts of people to make this world, celebrate your uniqueness.
One of the worst things we can do is to compare ourselves to others, as I have just said we are all individuals and unique in our own way. Look at what you have achieved so far, what you have experienced and what you have overcome rather than looking at what others have done. Accept that you are still learning and growing as a person, by all means have your role models but know where you want to be and strive to go forward to become the person that you want to be not what you think others expect you to be.
Know that you are worthy of being treated well both by yourself and by others. In fact feeling worthy about yourself will cause others to treat you in a kind, worthy way. So for 2020 may I please ask that you not only be kind to others but also find that kindness for yourself.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd January 2020
As we approach the silly season are there things we can do to help ourselves and to help others without putting ourselves under pressure? A new report has shown that not only does an act of kindness help with our well being, gives us a sense of purpose and that feel good factor it will also extend your life.
In the news recently Barack Obama gave a eulogy for a veteran and said that:
“Being a strong man includes being kind. There is nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There is nothing weak about looking out for others”.
Kindness can be contagious it seems, which is very good news at a time in the world where there seems to be increasing conflict. Mr. Fessler, based in UCLA's social sciences department, says kindness is “the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with actions intending to benefit others, where benefiting others is an end in itself, not a means to an end”. Unkindness on the other hand is “intolerant beliefs, the lack of valuation of others' welfare”.
Nothing exemplifies this more than trolling on social media where Mr. Fessler says “people are more likely to be aggressive, less likely to value others' concerns and welfare, the more anonymous they are”. He also goes on to say that this research was needed “to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world and to bridge the divide between science and spirituality”. Which, as an ex-molecular biologist, is something that I hold very dear.
From the report it has shown that living with people who treat you with disregard or a lack of concern is bad for you, it shortens your life. On the other hand receiving kindness from others and providing kindness are good for you and lengthens your life. Interesting in the report it says that even something as small as a barista in a coffee shop smiling and asking how you are will improve your well-being. They have proven that it lowers blood pressure, helps the immune system and can help with depression and anxiety. Kindness can turn things around and help you to find your way in the world, although it can often be easier to be kind to others than to ourselves.
So what can you do to live a kinder life:
Notice actions and reactions, which in turn will allow you to understand unkindness. If something causes a trigger in you, take a deep breath detach yourself for a moment, it may not be about you. I feel that we can all do something, however little, to help our fellow human beings and now we know that not only is it beneficial to them, it will also be beneficial to ourselves. So at this hectic time of year try your best to give the act of kindness. May I wish you all every blessing and happiness for the festive season and the coming New Year.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th December 2019
This time of year there is nothing better than baking up a storm on a wet winter day, the smell of these cooking will bring everyone into the kitchen. If supervised, due to the hot butter and syrups, it is easy for children to get involved in making them too. Although I have used cranberries here any dried fruit can be used, spices such as mixed spice, ginger or cinnamon can be added with the oats as well.
Makes 18 squares
Preparation time: 15 minutes plus chilling time
Cooking time: 35 minutes
350g unsalted butter
100g light brown muscovado sugar
6 tablespoons golden syrup
4 tablespoons black treacle or molasses
700g porridge oats
150g dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 190ºC, gas mark 5.
Place the butter, sugar, syrup and treacle in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the porridge oats until well combined.
Place half the mixture into a square baking tray and press down with the back of a spatula. Sprinkle over the cranberries, then cover with the remaining flapjack mixture.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 18 squares whilst still warm in the tin, allow to cool before removing them.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th November 2019
October heralds the ending of the Celtic Year on the 31st, as we approach this end it is a time for reflection. I like to take this time to look at all that has been achieved in the past year and give thanks for the help, support and guidance that allowed me to achieve my goals. Taking the time for such reflection allows you to see how far you have come even though there may have been challenges along the way. It also allows you to look at any lessons that may have been learnt along the way so that any mistakes can be dealt with differently next time, by such reflection we allow ourselves to grow and thrive, taking obstacles as either learning experiences or polishing experiences.
This is probably my favourite time of year where you start to gather around the hearth, in Summer people are scattered taking holidays and I find that during Autumn you tend to meet up more and there is the opportunity to catch up and hear about other's travels and adventures. It is a time of comfort and cosiness, food is hearty and comforting, all the better when shared with others. So don't let the dark nights bring you down, instead rejoice in what has been and the use the coming Winter to plan your next adventure, to think about what you want to achieve next, new courses you could enrol in or start to think about what seeds you are going to plant in the Spring. One thing you can rely on is that the wheel of the year will continue to turn and light will come back to the Earth.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th October 2019
This is a really easy dish that will serve four as a lunch or two as a substantial supper, lovely with peppery leaves on the side.
1 chicken breast or two chicken thighs cut into strips.
1 pack of cubed pancetta.
1 chopped leek.
2 tablespoons crème fraiche.
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
Black pepper for seasoning.
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry.
1 tablespoon grated parmesan.
Heat the oven to gas mark 5 or 180ºC. In a pan fry off the pancetta and leeks, once softened add the chicken and cook through. Add the crème fraiche and Dijon mustard, season with pepper. Salt isn't needed due to the pancetta and parmesan. Allow this mixture to cool, once cool roll out the pastry on a baking tray and place the mixture on half of the pastry, fold over and crimp the three sides to seal, making a pillow shape. Sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th September 2019
We all have that voice in our head, how does your voice speak to you - harsh, critical and judgemental or soft, kind and compassionate? If someone else was to speak to you in that same negative tone how would you react? Would you argue with them? Would you ignore them? Would you take it to heart?
I went on a course recently and we were asked to do an exercise where we wrote down the negative phrases that our inner voice gives us. Then with a partner we followed them around the building reading out these phrases to them. It felt absolutely dreadful to say these things out aloud to a fellow human being yet we say them to ourselves all the time.
Would you sit listening to a song on the radio that you really didn't like or would you turn the dial to something that you prefer? Would you sit hour after hour watching a television programme that you really can't stand when you could change the channel?
Change the voice when it's negative to one that is squeaky, that cannot be taken seriously like Mickey Mouse. Or turn the volume down on it so it can't be heard. Speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend, you do give yourself good counsel, you do have that wise inner advisor within you to drown out that negative self talk.
I know we are bought up not to shout about our successes and to talk about things in a self-deprecating way but how about letting that voice in your head say the good things once in a while, you're the only one who is going to hear it after all so go on give it a try!
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 5th August 2019
You may have noticed that on my Reader profile page recently I put a quote “If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.” This is a quote from Marcus Aurelius who lived from 121 CE until 180 CE and was an emperor of the Roman Empire, he was also known as a Stoic philosopher.
A few years ago I read Happy by Derren Brown, this to me was one of those life changing books. In the book Derren talks about what happiness is, how do you find it and is it something we should be looking for? The conclusion I drew from his work is that actually we shouldn't be striving for happiness but instead we should be looking for contentment as this is a more permanent state of being, that allows us to truly enjoy the good times but also helps us through those more challenging moments. Happiness by its very nature comes and goes. Derren talks a lot about philosophy in the book in particular looking at the Stoics and the Epicureans from ancient Greece. Although desperate to be Epicurean I realise that I have to accept I am a Stoic, this has led me to read up more.
I recently came across another life changing book, The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber. This is a wonderfully written and very accessible book regarding Stoicism. In the book Jonas talks about the Stoic Happiness Triangle. If you imagine in the middle of the triangle is Eudaimonia, where eu means good and daimon refers to your higher self. If we have Eudaimonia then we will be thriving in our lives and life will flow. At one corner of the triangle is Live with Areté, this means to be your highest self in every moment, to be the best version of yourself that you can be and to be in harmony with your values and virtues. Another corner is Focus on what you can control which is an important tenet of Stoicism, think of the serenity prayer if you like written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971):
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Sometimes we have to accept that all we can control ultimately is how we react to a situation. The final corner of the triangle is Take Responsibility. This is something that really resonates with me due to my Pagan faith. It is how we choose to respond to something that makes it good or bad, our interpretation can make something a positive or negative experience for us.
By observing these points of the triangle it can really help us to become wise, resilient, confident and calm, the very best possible version of ourselves.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th July 2019
Compassion is a valuable commodity in this frantic world these days it seems, not only for others but also for ourselves. Compassion has strength and power as well as a soft, tender side. It is not motivated by wanting to be liked, a sense of responsibility, or people pleasing. It is not about rescuing others either, sometimes the greatest compassion we can show is by letting them learn the lesson the hard way. A compassionate act is therefore just done to help alleviate pain and suffering of ourselves, others or for animals, not for any type of glory.
Below is a meditation that can help you develop your compassion:
Take up a comfortable position for meditation. Focus on your breath. When appropriate turn your attention to the middle of your chest, your heart chakra and just notice any feelings there, whatever you feel acknowledge it without judgement.
Say to yourself “May I be happy, may I be well”. Note any response you may have to these words again without judgement or criticism.
When ready, bring to mind a good friend and say “May you be happy, may you be well”. See what feelings may come from this.
Again when ready bring to mind a person you know of but don't know well, for example a local coffee shop owner or the person who delivers post. Drop in the phrase “May you be happy, may you be well”. See what feelings come from this.
Next bring to mind a difficult individual, repeat the process and see what feelings emerge.
Finally you can send the message out to the world, to all the people and all the animals wishing they be happy and be well.
Focus back on your breath and when ready open your eyes.
There is no right or wrong with this meditation you will feel what you feel and that is just fine, remember this is about being kind to yourself it is not about perfection.
I wish you happiness and I wish you well.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th June 2019
Hawthorn is a plant that prefers to grow near people, it is a small tree related to the rose family. Often seen as a hedgerow tree, it provides shelter and food for small animals, birds and insect life. “Haw” is thought to mean hedge, it is also known as “whitethorn” or simply “the May”.
Hawthorn is seen as a symbol of fertility by Pagans. It was traditionally used at marriages as it reflects the union of the forces of nature. Hawthorn blossom has a potent perfume that is similar to the sexual aroma of females. Chaucer writes of the May:
Mark the fair blooming of the Hawthorn tree,
Who, finely clothed in a robe of white,
Fills full the wanton eye with May's delight.
Hawthorn is associated with the Helston Furry or Floral dance. My mother, who was born in Helston, often participated in the dance, wearing white dancing to:
For we are up as soon as any day-o
And for to fetch the summer home.
The summer and the May-o,
For summer now has come.
Hawthorn is thought to be ruled by the planet Mars and the element of fire, it is associated magically with fertility, cleansing, protection, happiness and as a door to the otherworld. The deities associated with hawthorn are Flora, Olwen, Hera, Cadea, Blodeuwedd and Hymen, the god of marriage, who carries the bridal torch made of hawthorn.
If evoked properly, the hawthorn spirit has the power to protect on many levels. It can be used in meditation, by holding it, to cleanse emotional issues that are of a sexual nature. Carrying a sprig of hawthorn can protect against storms at sea and lightening ashore. Hawthorn can also be placed in the attic of the house for protection against spirits and storms.
So when out and about this May look for the white blossom of the May in the hedgerow, it's a little bit of magic in your midst.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd May 2019
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a ritual as “a series of actions used in a religious or other ceremony” so the word ritual can be used to describe many different things. As human beings ritual makes us feel safe in life, it helps us understand the cycle of life and allows us to mark those changes.
Have you ever done a routine task and then when it is completed couldn’t remember doing some or all of it? Have you found yourself day-dreaming about some holiday or what you are going to do later? Have you been to a wedding or funeral and although you didn’t know the person involved very well still got caught up in the emotional feelings of the group whether they be happy or sad? These are all examples of an “altered state of consciousness” a state of mind where you can connect to feelings and sensations that you are not normally aware of. This is what ritual gives us.
Now there is no right or wrong way to hold a ritual, it is all down to personal preference and what works for you so try as many variations as you want and see which one you feel the most comfortable with and effective for attaining the results you desire.
What makes a good ritual?
The bottom line is you hold rituals because you want to, therefore a ritual is as good as you make it, as with most things in life what you get out depends entirely on what you are prepared to put in. If you put feeling, emotion and part of yourself into the preparation and into the ritual then you will feel that the ritual has made a difference.
What do you need to perform a ritual?
All you really require for a ritual is yourself and your imagination plus the abilities to concentrate on what you are doing, meditate on the purpose of the ritual and how you will achieve a connection with your Gods and / or Spirits and visualise the desired outcome happening or the first steps of the process of change taking place.
Tools are useful as focal points for your mind that allow you to externalise your thoughts and separate the physical you from the spiritual you. They allow you to mark or emphasise important actions or stages in the ritual, they are used by you for your desired purpose. Yet they only have the “power” you give to them.
So the bottom line is a ritual should be done how you want to do it, when you want to do it and for whatever reason you choose, there is no right or wrong way to do a ritual. However you choose to do it, what you put in will affect what you get out of it, the choice is yours.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th April 2019
Beware! These are incredibly addictive, I suggest always making a double batch and keeping one lot of dough in the freezer for another day, great if you have unexpected guests.
150g Salted butter, at room temperature
75g Ground almonds
175g plain flour
Pinch Cayenne pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a stainless steel basin until the mixture forms an even dough.
Divide the dough into four.
Wrap each piece in a separate sheet of kitchen film, then roll each one up into a sausage shape 2-4cm in diameter.
Place in the fridge to chill overnight. (Or into the freezer if you want to keep for longer).
Preheat the oven to 180ْC, gas mark 4.
Remove the “sausages” from the fridge and unwrap. Using a butter knife cut each one into 4mm thick slices.
Place 30 biscuits onto a baking tray with either a silicon sheet or greaseproof paper allowing about 1 cm between each one.
Leave any unused dough wrapped in the fridge until required.
Bake for 12 minutes or until just golden.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool before serving. Repeat the process with any remaining dough.
Optional but you can sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or black pepper before baking.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th March 2019
The first few months of the year can be challenging after the lull of the festivities and the cold, dark weather. Maybe this is now the time to try and find joy in the ordinary to help you through to the lighter days of Spring.
What I mean by finding joy in the ordinary is to recognise the simplicity and happiness that can be found in the mundane of the day. For instance taking a moment to really enjoy that cup of tea, watching the clouds as the scuttle across the sky or the pleasure of slipping into a bed which has been freshly made. A really nice bubble bath or the biting fresh air whilst out in nature, looking for wild birds and animals and noticing how the seasons are changing. Taking time out for a chat with a friend or neighbour can brighten your day as you make that connection with another human being. By taking that moment and by finding the joy in it you cause a whole cascade of positive hormones and endorphins to be released in the body, which all enhance a sense of well being. William Bloom in his excellent book The Endorphin Effect, writes about how cherry picking and just thinking about our favourite things can cause the brain to release those feel good hormones.
So all it is about is taking that moment to stop, to look around, to be present. Look for that first snowdrop, that first promise of Spring and in doing so you are looking after yourself.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th February 2019
Greek mythology tells us the story of Pandora's Box, Pandora was given a box and was told that she was not to open it. Overcome by curiosity Pandora opened the box and all known evils came flying out of the box, poverty, starvation and cruelty. Pandora tried to catch all that came flying out of the box but she couldn't catch them. She quickly closed the box and heard a small voice crying “let me out, let me out”, Pandora opened the lid and there was hope. We always have hope.
At the start of the New Year it can be very difficult to be upbeat after all that life has thrown you the previous year, be it loss, ill health, relationships, money or job worries. However hope has been shown to help us keep calm, to stay happy, allows us to reach our full potential and even aid the healing process.
Hope makes you feel good. Hope can allow us to cope with stress, anxiety and negative events by allowing us to feel that we have control and are not helpless in our situation. One of the other things that hope helps us deal with is fear; this in turn prevents catastrophising which stops us falling down the funnel of despair. With hope we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We never really fail in life we either learn or succeed. Without hope it is very easy just to give up rather than learning from the experience and re-framing it as an opportunity to do it differently next time. Hope allows us this vulnerability and allows us to grow and develop from our mistakes.
Being hopeful has a positive effect on our mental health, this mind set alters our neurochemistry, this in turn can help block out pain and release endorphins the feel good hormone.
So if there is one thing you should take into 2019 let it be hope.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th January 2019
As we approach the silly season many of us can start to feel overwhelmed and burdened by the upcoming celebrations. So maybe it is time to pare it back and simplify the process. Firstly you can take the stress off yourself by acknowledging that the day does NOT have to be perfect. What it should be about is being with friends, family and loved ones not being the perfect host.
Encouraging the whole family to get involved can actually make it so much more enjoyable for all. Home made cards and decorations, made together as a family, mean so much more to everyone. Decorating the house with greenery collected on a winter walk together as a family will be so much more appreciated by everyone than sparkly plastic, including the planet!
Presents don't need to cost a lot to have value, sometimes the smaller more thoughtful gift will be much more treasured. Nothing beats being given a hand made gift or sweet treat. There are so many ideas out there on social media that can be easily put together allowing you to avoid the busy shopping centres and put a real smile on someone's face.
As for the dreaded meal, pare it back, do lots of prep before hand because it is more important that as the host you are at the table with your guests rather than hot and sweaty in the kitchen.
Remember it is only one day in the year and really it should be about expressing our love and gratitude to those around us who enrich our life. Make it about being with others not about the baubles and sparkly trappings of commercialism.
I wish you and yours every blessing for this Yuletide and a very happy forthcoming year.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th December 2018
Loneliness seems to be more and more common in the world today, even though we have more and more ways to communicate. Loneliness isn't just confined to the elderly, now a days many younger people are also experiencing a sense of loneliness. Loneliness can also be temporary or as a result of a change or transition in life such as moving or starting university. Recognising that the situation is temporary can help and by distracting yourself with an activity can be enough to get you through the transition and feelings of loneliness.
The activity ideally should take concentration so that you are absorbed in the task, crocheting or puzzles, reading or a good box set perhaps. This will improve your well being as things start to flow. Joining a social group or taking up a sociable hobby or activity is an obvious course of action, this isn't for everyone especially if you are introverted or shy, however meeting with like minded people can allow you to overcome your initial shyness as you will already have things in common to talk about.
Research has shown that thinking positively is very helpful. People who feel lonely actually have higher levels of empathy towards others. This empathy means that the person who is feeling lonely is really good at listening, which makes them great people to talk to, so they don't even have to start up the conversation as someone else will unconsciously feel the empathy and naturally start talking to you. Recognising your anxiety about social situations and learning simple relaxation techniques like ratio breathing can also help.
Never underestimate the power of small talk, there are many documented cases where people who have felt suicidal have actually not gone ahead with their plans due to someone making small talk with them. The weather is always something that can be spoken about as it is so changeable, remember it isn't about starting up a lasting relationship, it is just about acknowledgement and connection with another human being. You never know you may be the only person who has spoken to them that day!
Look for the good in people which will help build your trust in the human race, especially if you have been hurt or let down before. There is good in everybody if you look for it. Asking people to do something with you is extremely helpful but it needs to be done without fear of rejection. Sometimes people are just busy but generally they will make time if they can as everyone wants to feel that connection with others. Be brave, be courageous and the loneliness will pass.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 5th November 2018
This is a great dish to have up your sleeve, it takes minimal prep and the oven does all the hard work for you.
2 Rib-eye steaks/chicken breasts/halloumi slices cut into strips
2 sweet peppers sliced
2 red onions cut into rings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon garlic granules
Put the olive oil and spices in a bowl and mix to form a paste. Put in the other ingredients and cover with the paste. If you have the time to marinade for an hour or so that will enhance the flavour if not then it can go straight in the oven in a roasting tin at 180ºC/gas mark 5 for 30 mins. Serve with soft tortillas, salad, guacamole, salsa, grated cheese and soured cream.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th October 2018
So many people come to me saying that they “just want to be happy”, yet happiness by its very nature comes and goes in life. Contentment however remains a constant and allows you to really enjoy those good times but also helps you through the lows in life. Therefore I would rather be content than happy. Contentment however, does take work and effort to achieve but once it is in place it will remain there.
Derren Brown wrote, in his wonderful book Happy, about the Stoics and Epicureans who took contentment very seriously. The stoics (a group of philosophers from two thousand years ago) in particular thought that virtue was a gateway to achieving contentment and I feel this is very true even today. One of the ways we can look for contentment is by looking at our core sense of ethics and values. It makes sense that you cannot be at ease if you are going against what you hold dear in your life. Sometimes we need to sit down and reflect on why we do things that go against our ethics and boundaries, to be honest with ourselves about our failings and look at ways that we can improve on them.
Coming from the ancient Greeks to modern day, taking a break from social media has been shown time and time again to improve a sense of well-being and contentment. This is due to what happens in the brain, things like Instagram fire off our “mirror neurons” which makes us want what other people have and when we don't match up it can instil a sense of failure. Taking the odd day off or dare I suggest even a weekend can really bring life back to reality and allow you to appreciate what is there already around you.
Contentment can be easy to find when you have a passion for something. Having a purpose in life or at least knowing where you want to be and who you want to become can allow you to go on your journey feeling driven and passionate, as there is an aim or a goal to achieve. So pursuing a goal with determination really helps you to feel grounded and content.
Forgetting about the self can also lead to a sense of contentment. Understanding the inter-being nature of everything allows you to see a bigger picture, allowing you to make sense of the world at large. Looking at an apple and understanding that it came from earth, sunlight and nutrients and then goes on to power our body, makes you feel part of a bigger jigsaw, that you belong.
Part of forgetting about the self can also be being mindful, a word that has been banded about of late but there is huge research which points to the benefits of practising mindfulness. Being in the moment either through meditation or mindfulness allows you to stay present to enjoy the here and now, because at the end of the day this moment is all that we really have.
Doing something for other people, finding a way of giving back will make you feel content, it will give a deep sense of fulfilment. I feel everybody should do some form of volunteering it gives such a feeling of self-worth whilst helping other people. It doesn't have to be much or take much time, putting out an elderly neighbour's rubbish for them or calling someone you know is on their own and having a twenty minute chat can make all the difference to someone's life.
So what have you got to lose? Give contentment a try.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th September 2018
Divination is the act of foretelling the future, finding objects and people by information obtained from signs, omens, dreams, visions and divinatory tools. In some societies, divination has been performed only by special classes of trained priests or priestesses.
Since the earliest times in all known civilisations people have looked to supernatural sources for help and advice both in personal affairs and particularly in matters of State. Methods of divination involve either interpretations of natural patterns in the environment or patterns that are formed by the throwing of objects such as sticks (Ogham), stones (Runes) or bones. Information is obtained from the way smoke curls from a fire, the shape of an animal bone, the formations of clouds, the markings on organs and entrails of sacrificed animals. The ancient Romans favoured augury, the interpretation of the flight patterns of birds and haruspicy, the examination of livers and entrails of sacrificed animals. The augurs were a special caste of priest who read the signs to determine whether the gods approved or disapproved of coming events.
Popular in the Middle Ages was the throwing of grain, sand or peas onto the earth to see what could be read from the patterns. As far back as 1000 B.C.E the Chinese have used the I Ching, an oracle which involves throwing and reading long and short yarrow sticks.
Contemporary divinatory methods usually require a favoured tool. The tool acts as a prompt to intuition and the tuning into psychic forces and vibrations. The divined information comes in a variety of ways depending on the individual. Some people “hear” it with the inner ear, others see visual images on their mental screen. Divinatory information also comes through other senses including taste, smell and tactile sensations.
Popular tools include the Tarot, Runes, and crystals, mirrors or bowls for scrying and dowsing. Another method is Psychometry the reading of objects or photographs by handling them. Astrology and numerology are also used in conjunction with divination. Aura readings, the layers of invisible energy that surrounds all living things can be used to divine. Palmistry, the reading of lines on the hand, and Tasseomancy, the reading of tea leaves are also used.
In divining the future most psychics would hold the view that the information obtained reveals a likely, but not fixed outcome, based on the direction of events and the circumstances in force at the time of the reading. The future may be changed by choice; divination is useful in helping a person make better choices.
Divination is both art and skill and one’s particular proficiency depends on natural psychic gifts and regular practise. For some divination comes fairly easily, while others must work harder and longer to attune the psychic faculties.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd August 2018
The major chakras are found next to a hormonal gland and they push vital life energy, chi or prana, through the body to ensure vitality. They are like pinball paddles pushing balls along their course. Chakras receive and radiate energy constantly. If you hold negative thoughts the chakras can become slow and sticky not able to push the energy round the body, you can feel sluggish and out of balance, it can lead to you losing touch with your natural psychic abilities.
The major chakras are located deep within the centre of your physical body. The chakras in the lower part of your body spin slower than those in your upper body and head. The lower chakras are thought to correspond to issues of the material world, while the upper chakras are focused on more spiritual issues.
When the chakras spin, just as long wavelength light appear as warm hues of colour, so the lower and slower chakras appear in shades of red, orange and yellow. The upper chakras which spin faster have cool shades of green, blue and purple.
Once you learn to clear your chakras you can reawaken your ability to see chakras within your own body and within others.
Chakra connection and balance
When energy is blocked or unbalanced in the body it can affect all areas of life and by working on your chakras you can obtain wellbeing, balance and enlightenment.
There are many ways of balancing the chakras:
Meditation, visualisation, chanting, forgiveness, food and diet “eating a rainbow” (and no that doesn’t mean eating every colour of Smartie), exercise, crystals, massage, colour therapy, flower essences and aromatherapy.
My quick visualisation
Visualise 7 beautiful glass globes stacked one on top of each other. See the globes become larger, brighter and increasingly illuminated with light. Make them all grow in size until they are equal. See the colour become clear and the globes become perfectly transparent. Allow the globes to spin in a fluid movement so they rotate all around.
Anytime you notice yourself feeling down for no obvious reason, clear your chakras. It can also be very useful to clear them before an important meeting or before making an important decision.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th July 2018
Prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for the task ahead ensuring you have a positive inner strength and are secure in your beliefs.
Open a window in every room affected, they don’t have to be wide open, as long as they are open.
Place a small unlit candle in the darkest part of every room.
Mix a small dish of lightly salted warm water with a few drops of scented oil that has a pleasant relaxing fragrance.
Work out a route that gives you a continuous path from room to room without covering the same ground twice.
Light incense and turn off the lights in all affected and adjoining rooms leaving only enough light to carry out the ritual, entering the first room light the candle and watch the flame grow and the incense smoke rise, allow the candle light and incense to fill the room, now slowly walk around the room marking the door and window frames with a little of the water/oil mix. Standing behind the candle and facing the open window visualize the negative energy/unsettled spirit leaving.
Repeat this ritual in each room in turn, do not hurry, this needs to be done with thought, consideration and intention of purpose which should be as much for their benefit as yours.
When all the rooms have been entered and released return to the most affected area and say:
I sever the bonds that hold you.
Your time in this world has passed.
I release you from the here and now.
Your life is in the past.
Rejoin the ones that wait for you.
The ones that went before.
Leave this time and place in peace.
Trouble us no more.
Visualise the energy/spirit leaving the here and now to rejoin its loved ones and finding peace.
Silently returning to each room close the window and quietly leave.
Allow the candles and the incense to burn their selves out before clearing up and returning to your normal routine. (make sure the candles/incense are on a stable surface and will not come into contact with anything flammable)
Every now and then, you may like to think of those that have trod this path before you and maybe light a candle or incense for them, think about why they may have been reluctant or unable to leave and feel happy for them now they are at peace.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th June 2018
Here's hoping that we get some more nice Spring weather, this is a lovely light stew that takes care of itself. If you would like to make it vegetarian omit the meat and chorizo and replace with cubed aubergine and sliced courgette.
Drop of olive oil
1 onion diced
1 red pepper sliced (I tend to use a Romano pepper)
1 garlic clove chopped
Diced belly pork or lamb
2 chorizo sausages
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 jar chilli pasta sauce or tin chopped tomatoes
Pasta (I use Orecchiette, little ears pasta)
Heat oven to gas mark 1
In the drop of olive oil sweat off the onion, garlic and pepper. Once softened add pork or lamb and chorizo (if vegetarian add the aubergine and courgette here), allow to brown. Add paprika and stir to cover ingredients, add pasta sauce or chopped tomatoes. Add water, I tend to use one and half times the jar or tin that the sauce or tomatoes came from. Place in oven and leave for an hour. After the hour add the pasta stir and replace in oven for half an hour. Just before serving stir in halloumi.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th May 2018
Although it could be argued otherwise we are social animals, which has actually been proven in a recent study. Yet there is a growing feeling of isolation and loneliness in certain areas of society. A phrase I came across recently which really struck a chord with me is “Be kind, everyone you meet is a fighting a battle you know nothing about”. I feel the plight of loneliness is one of those battles that many people face today. From being a new mum in a new town, having lost a partner, growing old or being in an isolating job can all bring on a feeling of loneliness. If you think about the High Priestess card in the Tarot it suggests you can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely because you work at a different vibration to others and this is something that a lot of spiritual individuals feel.
Social interaction has a profound effect on us as humans we have a basic need to belong which stems from an evolutionary and biological drive. Having a connection with someone can help provide us with support during difficult times and allow us to really enjoy the good times. Other people allow us to experience love, comfort and acceptance which in turn gives meaning and purpose to life.
Incidental interaction with strangers can feed the soul. There is a need to be aware of opportunities to connect and you need to do this without being afraid of making yourself vulnerable. You will often be met with a warm reception if you have the courage to reach out first. By being aware of other people can allow you to make the most of any incidental interactions. There is a need to be present which can be achieved through eye contact, active listening and then asking open questions to allow the conversation to flow. I will never forget being told when young that “we have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk”.
I feel that it is very easy to underestimate how passing the time of day with a stranger can impact on them if they are experiencing loneliness. Sometimes the only people they may see in their day are the waiting staff in a coffee shop or the cashier at the local supermarket and a kind word and a smile can be enough interaction to sustain them through the day. So be kind, be open, be friendly and you could help someone fight their battle for the day.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th April 2018
One of the contemporary Pagan paths that I am most interested in is that of the hedge witch or kitchen witch. This takes the traditional idea of the village witch or cunning folk who practise alone without a coven. The hedge witch is likely to worship the God and Goddess and practise spell craft for healing purposes and they may well teach the mysteries. This is unlike the traditional village witch who may well have not worshipped the God and Goddess and who may not have limited their expertise to just “good” magic as described earlier.
Today’s hedge witch will be well versed in nature, may well be skilled in herbalism and proficient in the casting of spells and the ways of the Craft. More than likely they will observe the Pagan seasonal festivals. The term hedge or kitchen witch refers to the traditional image of the witch living at the outskirts of the village and going through the hedge that surrounds the village or using the items that are growing in the hedge for their spell work, which was most likely carried out in the kitchen.
I like this somewhat romanticised view of witch craft and I find that it helps to describe what I do quite well. My kitchen at home is my beautiful sanctuary and it is in this room where I do my magic. A place where knowledge can be gained, gossip shared and broken hearts mended over cups of tea and nourishing food. This is a place of real magic where natural ingredients have been grown with care, in the garden, or sourced locally. It is at the oven, instead of the hearth, where I stand with my “cauldron” a beautiful stainless steel stock pot. Here I transform these gifts from nature into food and drink or preserve nature's bounty for the winter time. This is the stuff of life.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 2nd March 2018
This is a lovely meditation to do to balance yourself and your chakra points:
Red: This is a very powerful image of colour and has a depth or a burrowing down into the ground feeling about it with the darker centre. Be aware of how grounded you feel at the moment, be aware of roots into Mother Earth, holding and nurturing you through the colour red.
Affirmations: I am centred, I am grounded and connected to Mother Earth, who nurtures and protects me.
Orange: This is a beautiful shading of orange, the centre is moving towards the third disk which is yellow. The orange carries a certain vibrancy about it and like citrus fruit has refreshing qualities. When looking at the orange colour be aware of how confident you feeling at this moment, try to forget any problems you may be experiencing in your life and focus on the positivity emanating from the orange.
Affirmations: I am feeling positive, I am vibrant, I am feeling confident.
Yellow: This is a powerful combination of different shades of yellow, likened to the sun. It carries a positive vibrancy about it and enables one to feel uplifted. Be aware of how much energy you feel you have at this moment, open up to the possibility that you may gain energy through focusing on yellow. Let the vibrancy of the golden yellow colours remind you of lazy days basking in the sunshine.
Affirmations: I am at peace with who I am, I am relaxed yet alert, I am centred and calm.
Green: Is soft and healing. It’s colour is reminiscent of all that is nature. It carries a soothing energy which uplifts, it gives, not takes, like walking through a forest. The green promotes peacefulness within. When looking at the green ask yourself how do you normally breathe, how relaxed is your breathing pattern, how gentle is your heartbeat, feel your energies relax. Allow the green to nurture your soul and inner being. Feel the softness of the healing energy of nature soothe you like resting in a beautiful forest.
Affirmations: I am glad I am me, I am content with myself, I am letting go of heartache.
Blue: The colour blue is symbolic of the sky, expansiveness and unlimited space. It carries a cooling energy, which eases breathing and allows one to pause between breaths. When looking at blue it is important to be aware of not speaking, the art of silence, of making each word count, of saying what you feel, of communicating from the heart.
Affirmations: I am aware of every word I speak, I am at peace in all communication, I am able to say how I feel, I am able to express my deepest needs.
Purple: The colour purple has a prominent significance within spiritual and mindful practice. The purple is very calming, the mind and brain are able to relax and expand, all tension is taken away. When looking at purple allow the colour alone to enter your mind, no thoughts just silence, feel colour filling your mind, shutting out any noise. Just feel peace throughout your body.
Affirmations: I am becoming more aware of my needs, I am able to focus on other people’s needs, I am aware of all that is, I am aware of this moment in time, I am confident of who I am.
White: Where all the colours come together, linking with the universe, the sense of deepest peace. Only connected to higher thoughts and Divine connection, all earthly matters and problems are left behind. Become aware of just being where you are at this moment in time. You feel at total peace with everyone and everything. Feel a shower of glitter-like dust falling gently like raindrops touching every aspect of your being.
Affirmations: I am at total peace, I am experiencing my life more deeply, I am aware of all that is, I am connected to all things and all people, I am glad I am who I am.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 2nd February 2018
This may be the time of year that you start thinking about healthy eating and you want to start a new regime of eating. Often one of the most difficult things to overcome is cravings, especially if you have promised yourself to omit certain foods from your diet. It can be interesting to acknowledge that sometimes it is not hunger that we are trying to satisfy with food but rather it is an emotion. Making this connection can really help you to change your habits and stick to the healthy lifestyle you want.
Emotional and physical hunger often feel the same but there are signs that distinguish between the two. So next time you feel hungry take a step back and look at the following:
Physical hunger: comes on gradually, any food will do, the stomach is growling, doesn't command you eat right now, involves deliberate eating and awareness of eating, stops when satisfied, occurs through necessity and is a physical need.
Emotional hunger: is sudden, is for a specific food type, comes from the mind rather than the stomach, is urgent and pressing, is paired with an upsetting emotion, involves mindless eating, does not cease even when the stomach is full, makes you feel guilty.
It can also be of interest to look at what texture of food you are craving for example:
Crunchy food cravings tend to be hard emotions. Those emotions that are directed outwardly. These feelings include anger, frustration, bitterness, resentment, stress or tension.
Soft or creamy food craving are soft emotions. Those emotions that are directed inwardly. These feelings are anxiety, betrayal, depression, embarrassment, fear, grief, insecurity, regret, sadness, self-doubt or shame.
Chewy food cravings are a combination of emotions. They are a combination of hard and soft emotions. So one hard emotion and one soft emotion such as fear mixed with tension, shame with anger.
By making the association between what emotion is literally eating you up you can deal with that emotion in a better way without breaking your healthy eating regime.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd January 2018
In memory of the wonderful Louise Hay who sadly died recently I thought I would take this opportunity to write about shoulds and oughts.
In her powerful book Heal Your Life, Louise writes about how destructive the words should and ought are and how we need to stop using them, replacing them instead with the words need and want. This takes a bit of practise but if when you find yourself saying should and ought just take that step back and try out the words need or want and see how it changes the emotions around the task.
Today we often have busy to-do lists and feel we “should or ought” be ticking these off the list. So much so, that even when it is achieved there is no real sense of accomplishment. This is all down to that fact that we felt we should be doing it rather than wanting to do it. Should and ought add a negativity to the task whereas need or want have much more positivity about it, thereby changing the emotions we attach to it. It is amazing the transformation can be of changing the emphasis of the chore to “I want to do it” makes it more satisfying to complete.
Also if you have a tendency to be a people pleaser, changing should and ought to need or want when somebody asks you to do something for them, can in some cases give you the strength to say no and to actually take care of yourself and your mental well-being. It takes some getting used to so don't beat yourself up if it takes time to fully let go of shoulds and oughts but I can guarantee it will make your life happier if you do.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th December 2017
The Moon card in the tarot deck refers to the traditional stages of womanhood - maiden, mother and crone. Recently there has been a theory that there is a fourth stage called queen. The archetypes of maiden, mother and crone are firmly fixed in our psyche, even if we don't like the term crone. I prefer to change it to wise woman personally and is actually the stage to celebrate the most but recently there has been thoughts about a fourth stage, the queen.
I guess because this is the phase I am in at the moment it interests me a great deal, although I skipped the mother part opting for cats instead of children. The queen represents mid-life and all the changes that happen in this phase of development. The queen is not young but yet not old either, she is active and passionate, with still enough youthful enthusiasm to make significant change in both her and others lives. The queen can make those changes because she has hard won experience and knowledge that can only be obtained through age. The queen is very aware of personal responsibility and is comfortable in her own skin, she may be more outspoken than in the maiden and mother phase as she no longer worries what others think of her.
The queen is certainly a phase of womanhood to be embraced and cherished, one where the queen can achieve her life time goals and relish what she has created around her. It's an interesting fact that most counsellors and psychotherapists are woman in their queen phase of life, able to guide and empower others to help themselves. So as the saying goes, don't get your knickers in a twist about your age it solves nothing and makes you walk funny!
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd November 2017
I read with interest the other day an article about an experiment where people reported increased happiness if they used money to buy time, for example paying for a cleaner, to have the ironing done, or a gardener rather than on material goods. This could well be due to the fact that stress lowers health and causes anxiety. It also seems that in this modern world we suffer from “Time-famine” and that after a day at work we are then faced with a second shift of chores on our return home or extra shifts at the weekend to catch up with ourselves.
A university in Canada found that people who spent money to buy themselves more leisure time were happier in their lives. Psychologists from America, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands devised an experiment whereby one weekend they could spend a certain amount on something that would save them time. These ranged from having lunch delivered at work, paying for cleaning services or paying children to run errands. On the next weekend they could spend it on material goods such as wine, clothes or books. The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and showed that time saving compared to material goods increased happiness by reducing feelings of stress caused by lack of time.
So it looks like if there is a job that you hate, or makes you stressed, then paying someone else to do it is a very good use of money that will increase your well-being and happiness. Maybe it is time that you look after yourself and see if there is any way you can pay to create some time in your life so that you can increase your own happiness and spend time with those you love.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 5th October 2017
I love the magic that is found in metaphors and stories. It's amazing to think that you can tell a story to twenty people and they will all take away something different from it, that is where the magic is. The story allows the person to find what meaning is needed for them and the subconscious can allow them to find answers to issues or problems that they may have been facing.
One of my favourites is the Zen Farmer but my husband likes to refer to it as the smug farmer!
A man sends his son out to graze the horses and that evening the son comes back and reports that he has lost the horses. The villagers say to the farmer “What bad luck” and the farmer replies “How do you know?” The next day the son is sent out to find the horses and he returns not only with the horses he lost but also some wild horses that had joined his group. The villagers said “What good luck” and the farmer replied “How do you know?”
The following day the son was breaking in the wild horses and one of them broke his arm. The villagers said “What bad luck” and the farmer replied “How do you know?” In the morning of the next day people came into the village to conscript young men into the war and because the son of the farmer had a broken arm he wasn't taken. The people in the village said “What good luck” and the farmer replied “How do you know?”
So take from this what you will and remember the importance of telling stories, especially to the young.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 7th September 2017
Tea has a magical quality that draws people together and can help heal almost any woe, especially when shared with others. When we make time for tea we are actually making time for ourselves and for others.
It was the wandering Romany people who bought tea-leaf reading to Europe. The art has been largely nurtured and practised by women, who have passed on its secrets from one generation to the next.
This art is known as Tasseomancy or tasseography is the divinatory art of reading tea leaves and coffee grounds. Like palmistry it is particularly associated with gypsies and witches who popularised it. The roots of Tasseomancy date back to the Middle Ages when diviners interpreted the symbols formed by blobs of melted wax or molten lead when dropped into water. In the 17th Century, tea was introduced from the Orient to the West by the Dutch; tea drinking quickly became a widespread habit.
The shapes and symbols formed by the dregs in the bottom of the cup seemed natural for divination. In a tea-leaf reading, the client drinks a cup of tea, preferably made from course leaves in a cup that is broad and shallow. A tiny amount of liquid is left in the cup, just enough to swish the dregs around. The cup is upturned on the saucer. The Reader picks up the cup and examines the dregs, which may form letters, numbers, geometric patterns, straight or wavy lines or shapes that resemble animals, birds and objects. Various symbols have certain meanings, for example straight lines indicate careful planning and peace of mind, while cup shapes indicate love and harmony. These are of course up to the Reader and what they instinctively feel they mean. Time frames are estimated by the proximity of the leaves to the rim. Dregs closet to the rim and the handle represent the immediate future, while those at the bottom or furthest from the rim indicate the far future.
So why not gather some friends round, serve afternoon tea and have a go at tasseomancy.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 7th August 2017
I've been working long hours of late so I have had to develop some quick no-fuss suppers that I can have on the table in under 20 minutes (quicker than ordering a take-away and having it delivered). This has been a great success so I thought I would share it with you. You could use other fish such as salmon or smoked haddock and exchange the peas for broccoli, spinach or kale.
Makes 2 good size portions
200g Smoked mackerel (either fresh or tinned, skinned)
150g frozen peas
1 diced onion or frozen onion if in a real rush
2 portions frozen basmati rice (cooked by instructions on packet)
2 teaspoon mild curry powder
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 soft boiled eggs or poached eggs (optional)
Soften the onion in a frying pan or wok, add the mackerel and frozen peas. Once cooked through add the curry powder. Stir in the cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Stir through the crème fraiche and serve topped with the egg if using.
Quick and easy and so much healthier than a take away.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 13th July 2017
Hexes and curses
People often talk about white magic and black magic, to me magic doesn;t have a colour, although I do have to say that there is no light without shadow. Magic is neutral and amoral it is the intent of the practitioner that makes it good or bad, so personal responsibility is something that needs to be considered when using magic. It is important to remember that what you give out you get back.
Spells can be beneficial or harmful and they may be worked on people, animals and nature. The purposes are limitless and include healing, love, money, success, fertility, longevity, protection against ill fortune, exorcism of ghosts and spirits and weather control. When directed against enemies spells are thought to cause sickness, destruction, loss of love, impotence, barrenness, failure and even death. One may cast a spell for oneself or one may direct a spell against another person. A positive spell is a blessing. Archaic terms for spells include bewitchment and enchantment, negative spells are generally called hexes or curses. A binding spell is one intended to prevent harm or disaster or to stop someone from performing a particular act e.g. stopping a serial criminal or stopping the spread of gossip.
One of my favourite stories is that of a Cornish witch called Dolly Pentreath from Paul in Cornwall. She was said often to curse people, including calling them "kronnekyn hager du," an "ugly black toad," Dolly was said to have been walking with a cowl of fish and was knocked over by a man on a horse, upon which she uttered her curse in the Cornish language the man on the horse was so frightened of her that he asked her what she had said. She would only tell him if he paid her money in return for the fish that had been spoilt.
Personally I feel that a hex or a curse actually only works because the person believes that they have been cursed and it is that thought that gives the spell power. It's almost like they work as a posthypnotic suggestion as information registered in the subconscious or equally in the conscious state, if emotionally charged or anxiety producing such as a curse, can exercise a powerful fulfilment of the prophecy. Freud would say a product of transference.
There are many ways of undoing a hex but a quick method is to sprinkle cayenne pepper or chilli around the house. You can also gather fallen ash leaves, murmur your concerns and fears over them take them to a crossroads and disperse them in all directions. If you feel you have been given a cursed item pass a handful of salt over the object three times, then throw the salt into an open fire, making sure you don't look into the fire. As a child we are always told not to run with scissors but what you might not be aware of is that by keeping a pair of scissors on your window sill prevents anyone from cursing you!
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 29th June 2017
Most people are aware of the tarot and runes as forms of divination but there is also the Ogham. Ogham are a Druidic form of divination and was a form of teaching for the Celtic Druids, Seers and Bards. The Ogham are an “alphabet” made by inscribing various forms of straight lines and can be found throughout Britain, Scotland and Ireland carved into standing stones. Each Ogham is associated with a tree and by understanding the Ogham a divination reading can be given.
I have the most lovely set of Ogham which are short twigs which have each Ogham carved into the wood of each tree. It can be very satisfying to make your own set as you have to source each tree and in doing so it allows you to become aware intuitively of the nature and personality of the different trees which helps you in turn to understand the Ogham. One of my particular favourite trees are silver birch and personally I have always found them very chatty. I once had the privilege of standing in a thousand year old yew which was hollow in the centre, the power of that tree bought me to my knees.
So Ogham give a wonderful gentle reading as the Roman writer Tacitus said “It is wise to listen to the voices of trees for they tell us much that we might otherwise forget”. I have picked an Ogham at random for this blog and was given Apple which represents vision that lights the way ahead. Apple allows for perception to grow which in turn allows us to become wiser and for our heart to see further than it might otherwise do. With the assistance of Apple we are able to answer our questions easier to see beyond the easy option to perhaps a more difficult truth getting to the heart of the matter.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 15th June 2017
We have all lived countless lives on this earth. Whether we remember our other lives consciously or not does not mean that we have not lived them.
We choose each life we have, to work through all the lessons we need to learn to enrich and expand our total being. Only when our lessons are fully learned and assimilated can we progress from this earthly schoolroom to higher realms.
Many times we reincarnate with the same people around us, merely repeating the same lessons under different circumstances, in the hope we will succeed and be able to move on to new and greater understanding. If we understand what has happened to us in other incarnations, we can see where we are stuck in repeat patterns, continuing to block our own progress.
Often today’s difficult relationships, fears, phobias, likes, dislikes and illnesses can be explained and dealt with at their source, allowing us to let go of them and move past these difficulties at last.
There is a part of yourself that is wise and remembers everything. This is your subconscious, soul-self that links you with the energy source where all is known.
Carl Jung referred to imagination as an opening to the collective unconscious. He proposed this was a storehouse of ancestral and past-life memories. Using imagination to explore other realities has been known throughout the history of mankind. The Aborigines of Australia called it the “dreamtime”. Shamanism sees no distinction between the real and the imagined. The shaman enters into a trance-like altered state of awareness, usually aided by rhythmic drumming. Shamanism spans tens of thousands of years and covers the indigenous tribes across all continents. None of the ancient cultures left written records, however we can still learn of their practices through those who are still living and are willing to share their knowledge.
The simple truth is that for most of our time on earth, mankind has used imagination and the lower brain waves experienced through altered states of awareness, as the gateway to intuition and other realities where past lives are accessible. By sharpening our focus we are still all able to encounter these realities outside the dimensions of the physical world. Just as we can travel immediately when we use our imagination. When we tap into the memory store where our past lives are stored we can travel there instantaneously. An analogy is the command needed for a computer to access its memory. If the right command is used, the memory can be retrieved. In the case of past-life memories the command is called a bridge and can be a guided imagery, a phrase, an emotion or physical symptom.
Until Western science has an explanation for intuition, consciousness and near-death experiences, we can turn to the Ancient Wisdom. This has existed on this planet for tens of thousands of years. Through four principles it underpins the theory of past lives and the soul memories between lives. It shows how balancing karma can come from learning both sides of a situation and not repeating the old patterns. It explains how unresolved physical, emotional and thoughts are carried from one life to the next. Through a past life reading these are the focus of release and transformation which can help you to see through the confusion and illusion of this life and integrate these insights into your current life. I would be delighted to do a past life reading for you.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 1st June 2017
The light of the moon is reflected from the sun, the moon itself has no luminescence. The phases of the moon are caused by the light of the sun being reflected in a different way owing to the changing relationship between the earth, moon and sun. The phases of the moon are the same all over the earth so if it is a full moon in Britain it is also a full moon in Australia for example. The full moon occurs when the sun and moon are opposite each other; so the moon reflects the sun’s light and appears perfectly round.
When the moon is waxing in the first stages of her cycle, she appears as a crescent in the evening sky. This crescent can be cupped in a raised, curved right palm in the northern hemisphere, in the left palm in the southern, at the equator the moon appears as a bowl, either inverted or upright.
The moon’s first quarter is when the moon is seen as a semi-circle in the later evening sky. This is the point mid-way between new and full moon. Around the time of the full moon, the moon is overhead at midnight. It may be hard to sleep deeply for a few nights with the light of the full moon being visible through the curtains.
The moon’s last quarter is when the moon is seen after midnight, appearing again as a semi-circle, the reverse shape of the first quarter. This is the point mid-way between full moon and the next new moon. The waning moon can be seen in the small hours, shrinking as she disappears into the light of the dawn. Now the sun and moon are approaching conjunction, this means that the two heavenly bodies are together in the sky. At this point the moon is invisible and this is called the dark of the moon. New moon occurs as the moon begins to pull away from the sun in a fresh cycle, but the moon cannot be seen for about three days. The passage of the moon from new moon to new moon takes 29 ½ days, not an exact four weeks, this is the synodic month. Every two and a half years the full moon occurs twice in a calendar month it is known as a blue moon. Hence the saying “once in a blue moon” which actually means rarely rather than never.
The moon and the sun are the two great hands of our cosmic clock, the hour hand of the sun governs the seasons of the year, the moon or minute hand rules the sea tides and the hidden workings of the deep mind.
The phases of the moon have been observed and recorded since the Stone Age and possibly earlier. Lunar phases have been found marked on bones from as far back as 35,000 B.C.E. The “Venus of Willendorf” (dating from 19,000 B.C.E.) shows seven strata of notched circles on her head that probably relate to the approximate seven days of each of the lunar quarters. The phases of the moon are a metaphor for rebirth and the resurgence of life. Even in the present day certain indigenous people mark their respect for the moon. African Bushmen dance all night to show how much they love the waning moon, so it will return. Barrow mounds were often constructed to face moonrise, so that the souls of the dead might travel along the moonbeams. The moon epitomised the tomb that is also the womb, the unseen and fearsome place that is yet the cradle of life, the ancient and sometimes sinister crone who re-appears as a beautiful maiden. The moon connects life with death in a continuous circle.
The importance of the moon’s cycle is shown in words derived from the Greek word Mene (meaning moon) such as month, dimension, menstruation, measurement and many others. The moon is an agricultural reminder; the rapid changes in size are a clear way of working out the passing of days and the times for harvesting and hunting. In most cultures the earliest calendars seem to have been based upon the moon. This connected human beings to the cosmic order of which they are part and which formed the basis for agriculture, religious observance and spiritual experience. The Babylonian month began when the first crescent appeared in the evening sky. The Hebrew calendar was also lunar, with major feasts occurring at full moon, specifically Passover which occurred when the first full moon after the spring equinox rose over the eastern horizon. Easter Sunday is in effect a lunar festival, as it is fixed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Dire consequences were believed to follow any violations of the lunar calendar, this may seem primitive to us today but it was based on an appreciation of the importance of the rhythms of Nature. As the instinctual ways were lost, so the moon effectively disappeared from the calendar. While our modern months have a lunar derivation, they are no longer directly linked to the phases of the moon. Call me to find out more about how the lunar cycle affects you on a personal level.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 18th May 2017
Play and laughter.
Babies and toddlers laugh up to 300 times a day, adults only laugh on average 17 times a day. As we get older we seem to lose our ability to laugh. As a child you can laugh and play not having to worry about material things or the future. When young your imagination is used to create anything that you want, a cardboard box could be anything from a spaceship to a car, you could skip or sing with abandonment not caring what other people thought. It reminds me of the Ace of Wands in the tarot.
I feel this is where the problems lies as we get older we start to pay too much attention to what other people might think about us. In my experience as a psychotherapist people are more often concerned with themselves than with what other people are doing so they rarely notice what you are up to.
By worrying about what other people think stops us from doing things all because we want to be accepted and fit into society. Society wants us to work rather than play. George Bernard Shaw eloquently stated “We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing”. Work and play in Society's terms are thought to be two separate things and that play is not permitted until all the work is done. This is the story of Hercules in Greek mythology who has to complete a series of unpleasant tasks before he can take reward or pleasure. So work and play become compartmentalised.
Watching a child you will soon notice that they do not compartmentalise work and play. In a child's mind there is no difference, in fact, it is how they learn, explore and allows them to overcome obstacles and learn how to interact with others and problem solve. This is probably due to them using the “being brain” rather than the “doing brain” as described in the marvellous book “Mindfulness – How to find peace in a frantic world” by Dr. Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
Play is as important to physical and mental health as is sleep, a balanced diet and exercise. Negative emotions and experiences can be transformed by play and laughter. It increases learning, relieves stress and allows us to connect to others and the world around us. Work can also be more productive and pleasurable through play.
It is hard wired in our brains to play and use our creativity and imagination. This is why playing an instrument, participating in sports games or playing cards or board games is so pleasurable for adults. It seems that somewhere between childhood and adulthood there is a tendency to stop playing and focus instead on work and responsibilities. I suspect this happens when we are adolescents and become extremely conscious of what other people think as there is a desperate need to fit in.
Adults often use leisure time to just switch off in front of the box or worse, stare at a mobile phone, tablet or computer rather than engaging in play which is creative and stimulates the brain. If you give yourself permission to play with the joyful abandonment of a child you will create so much more benefit and reward from life. Play is a switch that transforms ideas and emotions and by rediscovering the sense of awe and wonderment and endless possibilities that we had as a child can lead to hope and positivity.
I try to use humour in my readings as Spirit loves laughter and when that wonderful energy can enter a reading it really helps establish the connection. So maybe it's time to play more so you can worry less.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th May 2017
The cunning folk were often called upon to make talismans, amulets and charms for the village folk to protect them and for specific purposes. Here is a definition of the differences between these three items, which is very subtle but none the less it was important for the cunning folk to pick the appropriate one for the user.
Talismans are objects designed to give specific power, protection, encouragement and energy to those who wear or own them. The important thing to note is that talismans always provide specific benefits to their owner and are usually made for specific purposes. Talismans can be made from almost any material, though they are frequently made of metal, stone or parchment and are inscribed with words or pictures. They are often made at spiritually and cosmically significant times to help provide extra power and energy. The most powerful ones are those that are made by their owners. They can be made for both positive and negative purposes, although one would not want to make a deliberately negative one for yourself.
The earliest talismans were natural, primitive people would have used objects made from parts of animals, a kestrel feather, shark’s tooth or snake skin would provide power and protection to the wearer. A necklace made from the teeth of a predatory animal is intended not only to provide protection but to also give the wearer some of the qualities of that particular animal that the teeth belonged to i.e. someone wearing beaver’s teeth would become industrious whilst someone wearing shark’s teeth would become strong, fierce and energetic.
Unlike talismans, amulets are intended for more general purposes and usually provide protection from danger. They can also ward off illness, ill-fortune or protect against ill-wishing. While talismans are active, amulets are passive, reacting to what is happening currently in the wearer’s life. Originally amulets consisted of natural objects “lucky” rabbit’s feet (more lucky for the owner than the rabbit) and four-leaf clovers are examples of such amulets. Man made objects have since become amulets especially in the form of body adornments, jewellery is still frequently used as an amulet. An amulet can also be specifically made for you to carry for protection.
The ancient Egyptians had four words that could be translated as “amulet”, all of them come from verbs that mean to guard or to protect. The word “amulet” comes from “amuletum” Latin for “an act which averts evil”. People began wearing amulets because of a natural desire to protect themselves in the often frightening world in which they found themselves. Amulets provided them with protection for the home, family and livestock. They protected the user from enemies that were natural or otherwise, most crucially they provided protection from ill-wishing and the evil eye. When the concept of Gods or a God became accepted, the Gods were often credited with providing the protective qualities that amulets provide.
Certain amulets have stood the test of time and have become well known because of the benefits they provide. Obviously if these amulets failed to provide the desired results they would have been forgotten long ago. Wearing or carrying an amulet harms no one and a familiar, trusted amulet provides pleasure as well as protection.
The acorn has been used as an amulet since druidic times. The druids worshipped in sacred groves of trees and the druids celebrated an oak festival at the time of the summer solstice. Many civilisations have venerated the oak and its acorn. The oracle at Dodena in ancient Greece was situated in an oak forest, the priests and priestesses would listen to the sounds of the trees and interpret them. The breezes in the branches were amplified by large bronze vessels that vibrated in the wind. In Scandinavia, the oak is related to Thor, in India to Indra, in Greece to Jupiter and in Finland to Ukho. The Romans made crowns of oak leaves to symbolise bravery and courage. As well as being a protective amulet, the acorn is considered a charm to attract good luck and a long life. Some people place acorns on window ledges to provide protection for the occupants of the house.
Anyone who as a young child or has young children will know looking through Granny’s button box is a magical adventure. Today we consider buttons to be purely functional items but buttons were in use before button holes were invented. Buttons were originally considered to be both good luck charms and amulets, and they were exchanged as gifts, a custom I personally would like to see resurrected. Attractive buttons still make effective amulets, especially if they are given to you by someone who cares for you. There are a number of superstitions about buttons, it is considered bad luck to put a button in the wrong buttonhole accidentally. The remedy is to take the garment off completely and put it on again. Finding a button is considered fortunate (like picking up a penny) and means you will shortly make a new friend. If you are unwell and believe that the illness is caused by ill-wishing you should leave a black button where someone else will find it and thus you pass the ill-wishing on although we are unsure on the karmic return of this practice.
A belief that appears around the world is that knots can catch evil spirits. A knot acts as a protective amulet that discourages evil spirits. Oddly enough the clerical dog collar is derived from the belief that the knot in a priest’s tie could get caught up with an evil spirit that could cause mischief during church services.
Parik-tils or blessing holders are used by Romany Gypsies they contain a variety of small items such as coins, acorns, herbs, stones, feathers and pieces of paper containing spells or words of wisdom. Anything at all can be placed in the bags as long as they seem appropriate for the purpose that the bag was made for. Bags could be made as amulets for protection against unseen forces or the evil eye or any form of ill-wishing and negativity. The bags could also be made as talismans to attract health, love, prosperity and longevity. The finished bags are charged by passing them over a candle flame before sprinkling them with water. A few droplets of perfumed oil can be added and it is ready to be worn.
No one knows how or when talismans were first devised. However, they probably date back to the Stone Age. Paintings on cave walls show oxen, deer and other animals, which as described before is a type of sympathetic magic. By depicting animals on the walls of the caves early people were using symbols to attract prey to them. The first talismans were natural items such as stones or bones that happened to be a shape that reminded the finder of a particular animal or god or ability or characteristic of them. Other items were crudely carved to represent various deities. As people became more skilled at making them talismans became more elaborate. Small carved figures of ivory, pottery and metal dating from Palaeolithic and Neolithic times still survive today. No matter how simple or detailed they happen to be, people believe that talismans are imbued with the power of whatever it is they were made to represent.
During the crusades, many soldiers carried stones carved with runes to act as talismans. These rune stones had two purposes, to provide protection and to ensure success in battle. Soldiers of this period also carried bloodstones with them. Bloodstone is associated with Mars, the god of war, soldiers believed these stones would make them brave in battle as well as provide protection. They also believed that these stones could staunch bleeding and they were frequently bandaged against wounds to help the healing process, It is interesting to think that jewellery worn purely for decorative purposes was not known prior to the time of the French Revolution, before them jewellery was worn for only two purposes; either to signify high social standing or as a talisman.
The word “talisman” comes from the Greek word “teleo” which means “to consecrate”. Talismans are magical items that must be endowed with their power in some manner. In other words talismans are charged to provide power and energy to enable them to achieve their tasks. They are usually made and charged at specific times to provide them with the essential energies they need to do their work, without charging a talisman cannot perform its specific function.
A treasured object that someone has given you makes an extremely powerful good luck charm because of the personal associations it provides. Most charms are purchased ready made but they can be hand made. As with talismans making lucky charms yourself provides a great deal of additional power and energy. Charm bracelets are still popular and allow the owner to wear many different charms at the same time. Charms can be worn or simply carried with you, they do not need to be visible to be effective.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 20th April 2017
In part 1 of my blog simple self-care I talked about micro-actions that could be used during the day to help obtain calm, awareness, balance and rejuvenation. I wanted to expand on this theme and give some examples of simple self-care which can help ground, energise or relax you.
Practice for grounding:
By grounding yourself it reduces reactivity so that our response is more measured and not led by emotion. It creates a firm base for us to work from. It can be particularly useful if you are feeling unsettled, tearful or angry and need to calm down quickly.
A simple yogic chant can be used to still yourself. Close your eyes and say the syllables Sa, Ta, Na, Ma over and over. Whilst doing this touch your fingers to your thumb on both hands at the same time. Sa thumb to first finger, Ta to middle finger, Na to ring finger and Ma to little finger. The syllables are Sanskrit and symbolise birth, life, death and rebirth respectively.
Practice for energising:
This can be used to help you feel energetic and alive, to renew your energy and spirit to help you wake up.
Stand to attention with a straight back and head looking forward. March on the spot bringing your legs up and down whilst swinging your arms. March for thirty seconds saying “I am awake and ready”. This can be especially useful to counteract an afternoon slump. The combined words and movement boost the mind and body.
Practice for relaxing:
It can be hard to relax but taking a moment to unwind and let go can really benefit your day. This can really help if you are feeling a little detached or have lost touch with the physical body by being too much in your head.
Do a quick body-scan to heighten your awareness, starting at the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Close your eyes and imagine warmth flowing from your head, into your face, throat and upper body, allowing yourself to feel the weight of it pressing down your arms and hands, through the abdomen, onto your thighs, knees calves down to your feet. As the warmth moves slowly through the body let yourself notice what you are feeling in each area. Observe the body as a whole and acknowledge where you might have discomfort or be holding tension. Just observe and don't judge. Notice the changes in feelings and sensations, before slowly opening your eyes and come back into the here and now. When we are in our body we can work with full awareness.
You may like to develop your own practices for grounding, energising or relaxing but these simple short exercises can really help you care for yourself allowing you to be fully aware and in touch with yourself and the world around you. Allowing you to fully appreciate, enjoy and be in the moment.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 4th April 2017
We all need self-care to help us deal with job stresses, fatigue or burn-out to remain healthy. It can be so easy to over look ourselves when we are caring for others but this can lead to a dangerous situation, where if we don't look after ourselves then we can't be there for those who depend on us to be there. Self-care can be macro-actions such as holidays, exercise, hobbies, socialising, sufficient sleep and a healthy diet. Although these practices are essential they do require a large amount of time, effort and money. So how about micro-actions, things that are simple enough to fit into your day that use the energy you have and don't cost anything to do. Interested? These micro-actions can bring calmness, awareness, balance and rejuvenation naturally into your day-to-day schedule. Small and effective, requiring little time or energy to perform. Used often enough they can become a habit, re-wiring the brain towards serenity and well-being.
A practice to use upon waking:
You can generate a feeling of love and connectedness which will ground you for the day. As you lie in bed in the morning, breath in the word and the feeling of love. Imagine being filled with the love that others have for you, then imagine breathing out the love you have for others. This allows you to be an instrument of love to the world connecting you to all things.
A practice to use during the day:
Regain awareness by grounding to the earth. Simply put both feet on the floor, press your toes down, and imagine breathing in and out of the soles of your feet. Then imagine energy coming from the earth moving up through your feet into your spine and breathe it in. This exercise helps us avoid getting stuck in our head or caught up with emotions during the working day.
A practice to use at the end of the day:
Give yourself a positive debrief to counteract our natural tendency towards negativity bias (our minds are more adept at highlighting negative experiences). Just take a moment to mentally list three things that went well during the day. As you reflect on each experience take a few seconds to hold, breathe in and absorb the positive feelings. Going to sleep with positive thoughts makes for better relaxation.
The more you practise the above, the more habit they become and actually re-wire the brain so that simple self-care becomes a natural part of every day. Look out for part 2 where I will give simple self-care practices to ground, energise and relax. I hope you enjoy the above, this simple approach can change your life for the better.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 21st March 2017
In the early part of the year we often take stock of our lives and look at how we can improve things, especially our health and possibly our eating habits. Over the years I have perfected these two following recipes which are virtually fat free but packed full of flavour. The curry is very quick to prepare and very tasty. The cake is fat free, low sugar and high fibre. Enjoy without guilt!
Chicken, lentil and spinach curry.
1 pre-cooked or left over chicken stripped from the bone.
1 onion chopped.
1 garlic clove chopped.
2-3 teaspoons mild curry powder (or stronger if you prefer).
1 litre chicken stock
200g red lentils.
2-3 good handfuls fresh spinach or 6 lumps of frozen spinach.
In a good non-stick casserole dish sweat off the onion and the garlic, add in the chicken and stir together. Add in the curry powder and make sure it coats everything. Then add the stock, lentils and spinach. Cook for 20 mins at gas mark 5/170°C.
Good for you tea loaf.
400g dried fruit (I use a mixture of currants, raisins, apricot, date, prune and fig).
200mls brewed tea.
50g soft brown sugar.
Zest of an orange (optional).
225g Self-raising flour.
1 teaspoon mixed spice.
Pinch of salt.
Soak the fruit and zest in the tea with the sugar (ideally leave overnight but if you can't it still works), once cool add in the egg and mix well. Stir in the flour and spice and a pinch of salt. Pour into a loaf tin and cook for one hour at gas mark 4/160°C. Allow to cool slightly then turn out of tin, once cool store in an airtight container. This is a keeper cake so the longer it's left the better it gets, not that it lasts long enough in our house for that!
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 7th March 2017
We lost our beloved tabby Tom after 15 years of having him in our life, he left a massive hole behind as he was a constant companion. In what we now realise was a moment of madness we decided to adopt two kittens from Cat's Protection League, so enter Dave and Jimmy into our lives. They were from a feral colony and there were eight in the litter but only five survived, our two had bad cat flu and were lucky to have survived and had it not been for the excellent care they received from the CPL fosterer they wouldn't have pulled through.
Dave and Jimmy are black cats and apparently they are difficult to re-home as they are associated with bad luck and witches. Plus people think they don't have personality, how wrong they are! Due to their health problems I have put them on a meat only diet to help prevent gingivitis which is a concern if cats have had cat flu. I also give them lysine supplements and immuno-supplements to help them. They have grown into the most lovely cats and the vet is very happy with their progress.
Our house has taken a battering and they have eaten our carpets (which we'd only had a year), Jimmy ate a pair of my Birkenstocks and they have broken ornaments, bowls, bottles and jam jars as Jimmy likes everything to go on the floor, my Dad reckons he is testing out Newton's theory of gravity. They are adorable, especially, when they sleep as you just have a bundle of black cat. They work as a team to round up the chickens and the ducks, who all head for the chicken run as soon as they see them! We then have to separate out the ducks.
Having that life in the house has bought much laughter and happiness and although they cause chaos we wouldn't be without them. So if you are looking to adopt don't overlook the black cats all they have bought us is joy.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 21st February 2017
I wanted to share my first experience of living in a haunted house. This happened whilst I was renting a property in a nearby town whilst waiting for a house purchase to go through. This was before I was really aware of my gifts.
The house was built onto the side of a Hall house, it was a two up two down property. The stairs were in the main living room. I had put the sofa under the stairs looking into the living room.
Not long after we had moved in I noticed that when sitting on the sofa you could feel a rush of air like someone had walked briskly passed you. I thought nothing more of it until I noticed that both cats were fixated with the stairs and they would sit at the bottom of the stairs looking up, if you got their attention they would quickly go back to staring up the stairs. This disconcerted me but I wondered if I was just tired.
The bathroom was at the top of the stairs and one night whilst I was there on my own I was sitting on the toilet when I became aware of the most oppressive feeling. I felt that there was a presence there and it wasn’t very happy.
No really knowing what to do I explained to whatever it was that I sensed it was there and I didn’t want to see it and I was sorry that I was in it’s space but it was only for a little while and could it please leave me alone. The atmosphere started to dissipate and although shaken by the experience I didn't say anything to anyone about it.
I only had one more experience in that house before I left. I was having a bath when the book I was reading was knocked out of my hands into the bath. You could see it was knocked out of my hands rather than me dropping it. It went up into the air before dropping, plop, into the bath.
The cats never really settled in that property and you could see their relief when I moved into the new house as they relaxed again.
Thinking back on it I wonder if I manifested something in the house due to the amount of stress I was under. It turns out that the wall under the stairs used to be a passage that connected to the Hall house, and the property we were staying in was the servant’s quarters. The house was around when Cromwell and his men were in the area and we wonder if someone’s life was taken before their time was due.
I guess we shall never really know but fifteen years later that house was still on the market I guess people can just sense the atmosphere when they walk in.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 7th February 2017
The most favourite part of my job is dealing with hauntings as I feel this is when I get to work with all my skills. I used to work as a molecular biologist so I am scientifically trained, plus I have my training as a psychotherapist and have my psychic medium abilities. I feel that I can use the scientific side to see if there is a rational explanation as to what is happening, my psychotherapy side if there are emotional problems in the household and finally my spiritual side if there are presences. When I get called to in to a haunting I would say that about 80% of what I see can be explained by scientific means as a natural phenomenon or are caused by high emotion, only 20% actually turn out to be caused by supernatural phenomenon. I find that the busiest times are around Christmas and in Spring, I feel that this is due to the energy at these times of year can be used by the Spirits as an energy source.
It is funny that often the occupants of the house don't want the Spirit moved on once they know who they are. Personally I don't believe I have the right to command Spirit to leave, so I explain to them their options so they can make a choice as to where they want to go. I have never experienced evil, maybe I am lucky or my guides are very protective, I have had interaction with angry energies and they can be difficult to deal with. The most funny one was a young Spanish guy haunting the toilets of a local motel, he wouldn't talk to me because I wasn't tall, leggy or blonde!!!
It is very satisfying work and to see the peace being restored to a household is so rewarding. If you feel that you've been experiencing a haunting and would like some advice why not give me a call. on Pin 2431.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 23rd January 2017
I was delighted to find out the other day that 8 minutes of reading a novel per day improves your sense of empathy and creates better metal health. I remember when I came to the end of my studies recently and I was able to pick up a novel rather than a text book, what a wonderful treat that was. It does seem however that this only applies if you read an actual book rather than an e-reader, which I find delightful as I am an avid fan of books and e-readers never really appealed. I feel it is the physical touch of the book and the pages and the smell of print that adds to the pleasure of a good read.
Recently I wrote a blog about rest and in that reading came out on top as the best form of relaxation. It is difficult when life is so fast to find that time to pick up a book but if only eight minutes is needed then that can be found even in the most hectic of days. An American friend of mine used to leave a book she had just finished on a bus or train with a note on it saying Please Read Me then pass it on, I feel that was a wonderful gesture to make. I pop into the charity shop Mind for my paperbacks as I know it is going to a great cause. So whether it's romance, comedy, biographies, Sci-Fi, thrillers or horrors that float your boat maybe it's time for you to treat yourself to a book, make a nice cup of tea and give yourself permission to look after your mental health and well-being.
If you don't have time to read then you can always look after yourself by having a reading
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 6th January 2017
I follow a Norse Pagan path and I have recently discovered the concept of Fika and Hygge, Fika is Swedish and Hygge Danish. Fika is pronounced fee-ka, it is a verb and a noun and the concept is simple it is the moment you take a break, often with a coffee and a baked treat. Hygge is pronounced who-guh and has been used since the late 19th century. It dates back to the Norse word hyggia which roughly translates as feeling satisfied. Hygge is a state of mind and being, to feel not only warm and cosy physically but also mentally. Very much like feeling hugged.
It is so important, in this frantic world, that we take time out and Fika and Hygge is a great way of doing that. It can be done alone or with friends. It is with friends that I want to concentrate on as I feel strongly that getting together with friends and sharing home baked goods is a true way of nourishing that love and friendship. There are now many fantastic cookbooks out there that focus on recipes for Fika and Hygge which feature things such as seven kinds of cookies, cinnamon and cardamom buns (my personal favourite) through to the classic apple cake. Taking that time out to bake has been shown to be great for mental health and the joy of seeing people enjoy your efforts is so rewarding. I regularly get together with my friends and Fika/Hygge each of us baking something different to give a wonderful spread, to take that breath and just be.
Give your mates a call and see if they are up to the challenge, you could even make it into a bake-off or use it to raise money for Macmillan.
If you want more information then you are welcome to call me.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 23rd December 2016
I understand that I'm probably in the minority here but I love Autumn and Winter, and the Equinox at the end of September means changes in the kitchen for me. My favourite way of cooking is long and slow and the last part of the year really lends itself to this type of cooking. There is nothing more satisfying to know that a few minutes of prep can lead to a mouth watering meal in a few hours time, the only problem is sitting in the house whilst beautiful smells emanate from the oven or slow cooker.
I adore using seasonal produce and ideally locally sourced. Last Sunday I was looking for inspiration and I'd been given some lovely cherry tomatoes and baking potatoes so I decided to cook the following and serve it with some watercress on the side:
Slow cooked chicken on a base of potatoes and oven roasted tomatoes.
oven ready chicken
baking potatoes sliced with skin on
Punnet of cherry tomatoes
Knorr chicken stock cube
Salt and pepper
Place the potatoes and onions in the bottom of a roasting tin. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Crumble the stock cube over them and place the chicken on top. Roast at Gas mark 3, 170 degrees centigrade for two hours. After an hour place the tomatoes in a tray shake over balsamic vinegar and oil and scatter over the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cook them for the remaining hour with the chicken. Serve with fresh watercress or baby spinach.
Dead easy but so rewarding. Cooking has been shown to help with depression so if the colder months get you down, getting in the kitchen will lift your mood. For further inspiration to help deal with the winter months give me a call pin 2431.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 17th November 2016
I read on the BBC website about The Rest Test a study by Hubbab at the Wellcome collection. It was investigating what rest means, how people like to rest and is there a link between well-being and restfulness. Rest can mean both the body and the mind, some people can't rest unless the body is at rest and for others tiring out the body allows the mind to rest. It was a fascinating article but what really jumped out at me was how rest is best achieved on your own. This makes sense to me, my husband and I often visit the seaside and just sit with a good book and look out to sea (yes we are a smidge away from Werther's Originals!). This is restful but we are still aware of each other and each other's needs i.e: is he warm enough, does she need a coffee etc.
It seems that in order to rest we actually need respite from other people. Being on your own allows you to focus on how you are feeling in terms of your body and your emotions. By being on your own it allows you to switch off from other people but also you get to switch off from your own inner dialogue. Choosing to be alone is, of course, very different from enforced loneliness.
In the test they ranked activities that allow for rest and it can been seen that activities that you do on your own are much higher up the list and that socialising is lower down as it is not considered to be particularly restful.
So here is the list of restful activities:
There is a definite link between well-being and having enough rest, so maybe it is time to make sure that you are incorporating enough time on your own into your life so you are achieving sufficient rest.
You can always give yourself some time by having a one to one reading with me Pin 2431.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 3rd November 2016
Over the long weekend my husband I took a retreat in a cottage in the middle of nowhere in Norfolk. It made me realise how important it is to take time out. Life these days is so hectic and it is so easy to forget to nourish yourself when dealing with the everyday stresses and strains. The plan was to just take some books and a few DVDs to watch. The cottage was beautiful and set in the most wonderful countryside. To wake when the body was ready not when the alarm went off felt so much better, allowing us to actually feel refreshed. Just sitting first thing in the morning with a cup of green tea listening to the birdsong was such a tonic. To eat when hungry rather than stuffing something down because it was the only time you have spare was a revelation, food tasted so much better because we could take time over it. To sit in silent companionship just reading allowed for a real depth in the relationship to show itself, not having the demands of other people, allowed us to enjoy each other's company. A stroll to the local pub for a meal meeting different people was so enjoyable as we were both so relaxed, and a DVD ended the day perfectly.
I know we are very lucky to be in this position to be able to take a few days out every now and again. However, I have realised that through this experience I need to make sure I make time at least once in the day to just be, to practise my mindfulness so that I can continue with the what the retreat started, me being me and liking being me.
Jessica P Pin 2431
Published: 11th October 2016