As the Winter Solstice is so close I thought I would share with you some of the traditions me and my family have for this special day. Midwinter is our most important celebration in my family and it is the time we all get together so it's always a lovely time of year for me.

Preparations like buying food, drink and presents will have started quite a while ago but I'll bring it to about a week before the day. So we will be baking, finishing up any homemade alcohol that is ready, there's two barrels of apple ale and my bottle of hedgerow vodka on the go while I'm writing this. We will go out a few days before the solstice and collect holly and ivy for the decorations. We don't buy a tree, we did use to but having a full tree in our house for the sole purpose of leaving it to die seemed wrong to us especially as our celebrations focus a lot on nature. Instead my Dad made a tree for us out of felled wood so instead we bring that down from the attic and fix it up a bit. Dan and I will have started our tradition of reading one stave each night of A Christmas Carol (my favourite book) to each other so that we read the last one on the night before the solstice. 

On the day before the Solstice my Dad will be in the kitchen doing the preparations for the big lunch next day. So I will pop on some Christmas music (much to my Dad's despair but hey it's my guilty pleasure) and I will spend most of the day decorating the front room with the holly and ivy that we collected, fairy lights and candles. 

Once the decorations are all finished with and the evening comes round we will have dinner which has become a tradition of having pizza and we will watch our first Christmas movie. It will be either the Nightmare Before Christmas or A Muppet Christmas Carol (then we will watch either one as our second movie). When we put on the second film we have one of my favourite traditions of having hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. After the second film my Dad will bring out his gin punch which we all have a glass of while watching the 1971 animated version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim, if you haven't watched it you can find it on youtube here. It's a masterpiece and you should definitely watch it! Then we all go off to bed but like the child I am I am always too excited so I don't sleep well. 

We wake up very early on the morning of the solstice and go for a drive up to the woods nearby and climb up to the pulpit to watch the sun rise, well I say watch the sun rise, it seems it's tradition for it to be too cloudy to see the sun. But the walk is just as special regardless. When we arrive home we crack open the Buck's Fizz and open a few presents,when we were younger it was tradition for my brother and I to argue with my mum about having a breakfast, she always wanted us to have one but D and I would refuse point black. It was up to my Dad to point out to my mum that we would be stuffing our faces later and not to worry. 

At lunch we have the biggest roast dinner that man has ever known, we all sit around the table eating, drinking and laughing and generally having a great time. We will make toasts to anything happy that may have happened during the year, or to anyone we may have lost. We pull crackers, eat pudding, then put the table away. Afterwards we sit around full of food, opening gifts, playing cards, watching films and just being happy in each other's company. 

For the days following we generally eat too much, drink too much , play games, watch films and have a nice time. Celebrating the Solstice instead of Christmas gets me a lot of weird looks and off comments but in actually how we celebrate is not that much different. 

So no matter what you celebrate or don't celebrate I hope winter brings you all the best, happiness, love and peace and I'll see you again in the new year!! 

Merry Midwinter!! 

With so many people turning to witchcraft I thought I would share some tips with those just starting out on their path. I am in no way an expert but these are some of the things I have learnt from my experience.

Social media is a great thing but it can makes us compare our lives. If you follow a lot of witches on social media then you'll see a lot of how they practice, how they dress, how they live and it's easy to start thinking that's how it should be done. But it's not. Not because those witches are wrong, it is that there is no right or wrong way of practising witchcraft. Follow your own path and learn what it is right for you. You may get certain witches acting like they are authority on witchcraft and that their way is the only way, as hard as it can be just ignore this and carry on learning and growing and finding your own way.

You will get a lot of questions and a lot of misconceptions thrown at you. When a friend found out I was pagan, let alone a witch she said "oh. Those are the ones who sacrifice chickens aren't they?" You will get a lot of people asking you about orgies, devil worship and ritual sacrifice. You will always get a lot people (including some narrow minded witches, sadly) saying that your only reason for becoming a witch is to mimic shows like Sabrina or Charmed or that you just want a witch aesthetic or that you're "just doing it for the 'gram". You will have to put up with remarks like these but just remember you don't have to prove yourself or your path to anyone else no matter how seasoned a witch they may be.

You may very well be tempted to buy every cool looking tool under the sun but you don't need a load of tools especially when you are first starting. You also don't have to spend a lot of money, making do, to me, is a big part of being a witch. You can make many of your own tools yourself which makes the experience fun and a lot more personal. Why not grow your own herbs? Make your own wand? Make your own candles?

If you feel that you don't fit the "witch aesthetic" don't worry. You don't have to live in black, wear long dresses and loads of silver jewellery to be a witch. You could live in Jeans and a T-Shirt it doesn't make you and your craft any less valid. On the flip side you can live in black, wear long dresses and loads of silver jewellery and it doesn't make you a cliche. Just do you.

Do your research. Witchcraft is such broad subject so make sure you do your research, read, watch videos, listen to podcasts get as much information as you can. It's better to have more information so you can use it when practising your own craft and deciding what type of witch you want to be. Just remember that witchcraft is such a wide subject and much of it was either lost or never written down so you will never know everything there is to know.

Those are some tips that I feel will help any fledgling witch, I hope you found them useful. Good luck to anyone who may be starting out on their witch path. 

What tips would you give to a fledgling witch?  

Stockings are such a great part of the holidays but it can be hard to find gifts for them that are fairly priced, not massed produced by a huge company, use tonnes of plastic and that are things that people would actually want. So today I am going to share some stocking ideas that are from small independent businesses. 

Candles from TheFoxAndCandle 
OK candles may seem a bit obvious as a gift but hear me out, these aren't just plain candles. These are some of the prettiest candles I have ever seen. They are each given a magical purpose so this would make the perfect gift for anyone but especially the witch in your life. My personal favourite is the Sea Foam candle but if I could work my will I would have them all. 

Artwork from BroomClosetStore
I recently discovered Danielle's shop through instagram and I fell in love with her art style. My personal favourite is her Sage Under the Stars print. It's just too pretty!

Handmade crafts from FHAF (Fat Hen and Flo)
I discovered this shop at an Etsy market, I was walking past and noticed this Jeremy Corbyn tote bag. A few seconds later I had snapped it up as I knew that my mum would love it, I can't wait to see her face. The shop has so many different items from sew your own characters to soft dolls. They would make the perfect stocking presents. 

Bath Magick from wiccatree
I had to include my own etsy shop in this list as I love my products and think they would make wonderful stocking fillers. All my products are vegan and cruelty free and each item is blessed with it's own magical intent both while making and once the product is finished. We sell balms, bath infusions and bath imbuements so you'll be able to find something ideal no matter who you are shopping for. And for this whole week (3rd December- 9th December) we are offering 20% off and free shipping with all orders over £10!!!

Enamel Pins from Milk and Moon
Enamel pins make great stocking fillers and the ones from Milk and Moon are just gorgeous! They have a great female empowerment message which makes them ideal gifts for all the awesome women in your life. It's so hard to pick a favourite item but if I had to I would say this boob pin. The shop also sells t shirts, totes, jewellery and more so make sure you check it out.


Jewellery from Lois Gunn 
So there are loads of great items on this shop from art prints to stationary but what really catches my eye is the jewellery. It's really unique and bright which we all know at least one person who that is like, so why not treat them to some jewellery that is as fun as they are? I love these bauble earrings they are so cute and perfect for the holidays. 

Affirmation Cards from DreamyMoons
By far not the only thing sold on DreamyMoons (there is also art prints, pillowcases and postcards) but these are the items that stood out to me as they are just so beautiful! They may be a little pricey for a stocking present so you may want to make them into someone's main gift. But they are perfect for any witch in your life. 

So there are some stocking filler ideas from independent businesses. I really encourage you to shop with smaller businesses over the holidays as each thing you buy actually goes to the maker and gives them a huge smile! 

This post was not sponsored!

More and more people (but especially women) are turning to witchcraft. They do this for a number of reasons, all of them personal and their own business so why are we now acting like it's anyone elses' business but their own? With the rise of witchcraft I have seen the rise of people attacking those who are just coming into the craft, saying they are just jumping on a trend or doing it to fit a certain aesthetic. 

Becoming a witch is a deeply spiritual journey and it takes a lot of soul searching, of finding and acknowledging the darker parts of yourself and embracing them, whist also learning to moderate them so that they do not cause disruption to you or to others. This takes a lot of bravery and can often be quiet strenuous. Of course the end result and the journey to it are also filled with wonder but it often has it's difficult moments. This is a choice made by an indiviudal and therefore should only be questioned or judged by that indiviudal. 

Let's imagine someone was converting an "orthodox religion", people would not be judging them or questioning their choices and those who did would be called racists or close minded, as they should! But why does this not apply to witchcraft? 

You could also say that the rise of witchcraft is linked to feminism, many women are turning to witchcraft in order to regain control in their lives that they feel they have lost or has been taken from them. Dismissing a woman's attempt to regain control her own life is a very dangerous thing and should not be tolerated.

One of the greatest tragedies in this is that the rise of witchcraft is making certain witches close ranks and behave like witchcraft is an exclusive club that only those who have been practising since time began may join. This is a great shame as those who have been practising for longer ought to be a source of knowledge, inspiration and comfort for newer witches. Closing others off and dissuading them damages witchcraft and what it stands for. Obviously not all longer practising witches are doing this, the majority of them are awesome but as always it's the select few. 

It's not just new witches who are being rejected, many longer term practising witches are now being "called out" for following the trend despite practising for a long time and it being part of their lifestyle. Many people who have been practising for a while or come from pagan or witch families and backgrounds are being told that their long held beliefs and traditions are just attempts at following a trend.

I grew up in a pagan/Wicca household, we celebrate Midwinter not Christmas, do not believe in a specific deity and do not have set texts but I had to attend a Church of England primary school as it was the only one around. I was subject to scrutiny and bullying for not being Christian, for not celebrating Christmas, so I have been reluctant to tell people about my beliefs until a few years ago. I still feel a little sense of dread and apprehension when people ask me what I'm doing for Christmas and I have to explain that I celebrate the Winter Solstice (I still get the weird looks). Yes, of course I know that people shouldn't be ashamed of their beliefs and I shouldn't have cared what I people would say but try telling that to a teenage girl who was riddled with anxiety and no self esteem. And now after all that, people dismiss my beliefs as me "following a trend" or "trying to look cool" I even got told by someone that I was "copying them" as if they had invented witchcraft! 

To cut to the message of this post I believe that it's time we stop judging people who are just starting out on their witchcraft path. Yes, I understand that it's frustrating that our beliefs are now becoming a trend and used a marketing tool but witchcraft is such a personal process and it's not our place to jump to conclusions about why someone is interested in witchcraft. Like I said, witchcraft is a personal journey we should be so focused on our own that someone else's path is of no concern to ours unless they reach out to us for help and advice.