New Moon Magic

You may have noticed that in my last post I began talking about the moon. Moon magic is something that has interested me for a while and I have been experimenting with over the past 3 or 4 years by paying attention to the cycles and growing my knowledge. I thought I’d share some simple New Moon magical activities with you.

As the majestic moon disappears from our skies many of us will feel extra fatigue (is that possible?!), emotional exhaustion, and a lack of motivation. As a spoonie I’ve learned not to fight this but know that it is a natural state for our bodies to be in. Why not embrace the darkest of the days and rest and recover ready for the cycle to start again a new. I find that understanding my energy has periods of activity and recovery both manageable but also a bacon of hope. Here’s some simple things to do (click each activity to jump to the instructions):

  1. Make intentions for the next phase
  2. Create a New Moon Spell Jar
  3. Set up an energy tracker
  4. Spend some time in your journal
  5. Make a moon mantra

Make intentions for the next phase

One of the simplest things you can do for the next cycle of the moon is set up some intentions. These are things you would like to complete using the cycle of the moon’s energy. I like to keep it very easy and pick no more than three, this isn’t about overloading yourself. This month I am choosing to:
1) Make Christmas Presents
2) Increase my daily activity/ exercise
3) Work on making my home my ‘nest and burrow’ (cosy and nurturing)

You could get really creative here too. It doesn’t have to be a list but could be a collage of images that inspire you or just words and drawings. Do what brings you joy and treasure these plans.

Did you know that it used to be a tradition to hold coins under the light of the emerging new moon? That it was done to improve a financial situation or attract more money. This can be transferred to any area of our lives.

Making a New Moon Spell Jar

A new moon spell jar is a simple spell to bring abundance of the things you want into your life. To make a basic jar all you will need is a jar with a lid and a pen/pencil and paper. Each night before you go to bed write down something that happened that day that you are proud of, or grateful for. Try to think of things that you would like more of. Put them into the jar and sit them on the window sill under the moonlight. As the moon’s energy grows, so will the desires you have in the jar. On the full moon (find out your current moon phase here) open the jar and read to yourself all the wonderful moments and achievements made so far. If you want to make it more powerful add a magnet, piece of quartz or some cinnamon to the jar.

This spell is inspired by the brilliant Semra over at Mama Moon Candles

Set up an energy tracker

For those who journal, or who are just interested to see how their energy waxes and wanes with the moon, setting up a tracker can be a powerful tool. A simple tracker could consist of writing the moon phases out, then scoring your energy that day from 1 to 10. Keep it by your bedside table to remind you each night. Don’t worry if you miss some entries, a few times a week over 3 or 4 months will give you a real insight into what is happening. To make it more complex you could add your moods, feelings or menstrual cycle. I adore Natasha from Foraged Botanical’s menstrual moon tracker:

Spend some time in your journal

The new moon cycle marks the point at which we feel the most stress and find it hard to express our emotions. Some time spent with your journal today could really pay off, whether this is trying to identify which emotions we are feeling and why, or working through a problem. I was once told that you can write absolutely anything ‘as the page can take it’. The page won’t judge you or control you, its space just for you to get rid of some of what you’ve been carrying. Ask yourself these simple questions:
1. What do I want to let go of?
2. What is now unimportant?
3. What is no longer serving me?
4. What is holding me back?
5. What has come to an end?

When you have finished feel free to destroy it by burning the page (be careful and do this somewhere you are not going to set the house alight), or by burying it.

Make a moon mantra

Making a mantra is a form of affirmation that that can be repeated to ourselves to increase our positivity, or to understand ourselves. Unlike positive affirmations they don’t eliminate our negative thoughts but reframe them as a way through a challenging situation or mindset.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Catch your negative thoughts by writing them down when they happen e.g. ‘I haven’t worked out this week and am a lazy person
  2. Begin your sentence with the words “I am’ ‘I want’ or “I need’. Don’t leave room for maybe, we are being definite here. The mantra needs to be about you and not other people.
  3. Use positive words. This may sound fake and feel uncomfortable, but trust me it works. Try to take the negative out of your original statement and turn it into something positive e.g. ‘I am someone who listens to my body and knows when it needs rest or activity’ or more simply “I am in touch with my body and its unique needs’ ‘I need to take time to rest to do more activity in the future’.
  4. Use the present tense. This is about the now, not the past or the future. You are already doing this thing.
  5. Keep it simple, brief and specific. You want to be able to repeat it to yourself.
  6. Making change: If you want to make a change using your mantra try using an action word ending with ‘ing’. e.g I am resting to care for myself. Or ‘I am consciously increasing my activity by a manageable amount each week’
  7. Add emotion: to make the ‘spell’ more powerful add a positive emotion e.g. ‘I am enjoying listening to and looking after my body’

Remember to drop by and share what you are doing this lunar month by leaving a comment. If you have enjoyed reading this post please visit my Patreon and buy me a coffee. It helps towards the running costs of this blog and fuels my writing.

Moon Illustrations by Sarie Oliver (my Sister). Please give her a follow on Instagram. We are aiming to add some limited addition prints and personalised trackers to Patreon soon.

Weather Changes and Autumn as a Spoonie

Welcome Autumn and my favourite time of the year. I adore September and October with their golden afternoons, the abundance of foods, and the cosier evenings. I don’t know about you but I don’t fair well in the heat, it exhausts me and the sun irritates my skin. Neither do I do well in the cold and damp, it makes my joints ache and my mood dip. Autumn, however, seems perfect. I love a crisp but sunny morning, or an afternoon wrapped up warm for a gentle walk.  But something else happens in Autumn that leaves us spoonies floored and I’m not sure quite what it is. I’ve thought through a few of my theories here to try and come up with a Spoonie’s Guide to Autumn.

Weather Changes

So every time a season changes we find ourselves having to adapt. I find at these changing points I’m forever saying ‘we’re just not used to this heat/ cold/ darker nights/ humidity/ damp’ (the list goes on). Yes us Brits like to talk/ moan incessantly about the weather, but I’m sure there’s more to it, especially for us hypersensitive beings. And it seems there is actually proof of this.

Auto Immune I remember my clinic lead, Professor Fortune, telling me that changes in season affect bodies on a cellular level and it seems there is some proof. The BBC has a couple of brilliant articles on this. The first looks at facts behind the myths such as:

  • Rain gives you rheumatism – the answer is maybe but theres no conclusive evidence, its more likely power of the mind.
  • Falling air pressure is a pain in the head – I’m migraine queen aka the human barometer so I swear this is true and one study from Japan seems to suggest its true

The second article is much more focused on an in depth study on how temperature change affects our genes and immunology. In brief an international team of researchers conducted a study, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to look at how this happens. They “found genes involved with immunity – the body’s defence against infection – were more active in cold months. And while this helps fight off viruses such as flu, it may trigger or worsen conditions, such as arthritis, where the body attacks itself, they say.” 

The study examined how this happens on a genetic level and found that when looking at genes “a quarter showed clear signs of seasonal variation”. The genes that were of most interest included ones associated with immunity and inflammation. Interestingly it wasn’t the degree of cold that was initiating the changes but the temperature changes themselves as ‘During cold, winter months – December to February for people living north of the equator and June to August for those in the southern hemisphere – these genes were more active. When they studied people living close to the equator, where the temperatures are fairly high all year round, they noticed a different pattern. Immunity and inflammation was linked to the rainy season, when diseases such as malaria are more rife.” A change is temperature is all that is needed to trigger flare ups as it directly affect the cells and ‘that increase in inflammation could now be a risk factor for diseases of modern life’ Prof John Todd, Study author. Big stuff hey?

Viruses and other factors are also linked to an increase in symptoms and flare ups for Spoonies. Many reasons have been given to why this season is prime cold and flu season. Maybe it is because we stay indoors more, have more close contact with each other or beginning of university and schools terms mean more people mixing. One thing is for certain and thats for those, like me, who take immuno-suppressants the exposure to viruses, infection and bacteria is a headache all in itself. Immuno-suppresants mean that, surprise surprise, our immune systems are suppressed and do not work as well in fighting things off. So don’t be offended if you have a cold and I  instantly grab for the hand gel. Getting a cold or virus also can trigger a flare up, even if we don’t fully develop the original cold. I get far less colds than other people but my body knows if I’ve come into contact with one. Unfortunately my immune system just cannot tell the difference between the things its supposed to be attacking and my own body. At the recent Behçets Syndrome Society conference in Bristol, Professor Fortune said that she has a date in October circled on the calendar every year for when they have to open up loads of emergency appointment slots as so many of us flare.

So how can we deal with all of this? My answer is be prepared as you can and a little acceptance.

The Nature Communications study above concluded that as well as a genetic change “diseases and other factors, such as nutrition and stress, could affect how genes function.” So lets build some of these into the survival guide.

How to embrace and survive Autumn

Autumn Activities – Try some of these spoonie friendly adventures to help with wellbeing

  1. Get outdoors. Take a visit to somewhere you can take in all the beauty of nature and how dramatically its changing at this time of year. Do what you can, you don’t have to hike for miles across farmland and forests to appreciate the changing landscape. You could take a car ride, visit a city park or sit in the last of the warm sunny days in your garden. Boosting vitamin d levels at this time of year can really help with the impending winter blues too.
  2. Get crafty. There are so many things that are nice to make as we want to spend more time being cosy indoors.
    • This month I am making a wonderful leaf garland, inspired by Hannah at Seeds and Stitches
    • I am embroidering fabrics in preparation for Christmas presents. If you are like me and like to hand make your Christmas presents, start now so you don’t put pressure on yourself.
  3. Get Cosy and warm and hermit without guilt. Get out blankets and hot water bottles ready for colder evenings. Give them a wash and some care before they do into their full winter sofa bound days. Enjoy activities that are away from screens (save those Netflix binges for sick days). Non screen time is much better for you and there are things that can occupy you. I’ve just found a new love for jigsaw puzzles!
  4. An Autumn Feast – Wow there’s food aplenty at this time of year, especially after a long hot summer, heres how to make the most of it. Enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables. If you’re like me and have a garden then at the moment you’re probably overrun by crops such as tomatoes. When I’ve had the energy I have been picking them in droves and jarring them as passata. A basic recipe can be found here and its easily adapted to include herbs and spices you’ve grown too.
    1. Get to a local food festival and treat yourself to something scrummy. Food festivals re great at finding a huge variety of foods and you’re more likely to come across diet friendly snacks too. Ive been to two in the past three weeks including a chilli festival!
    2. Go on a forage. From September onwards, you can pick a huge amount for free from forests and hedgerows. Pick fruits such as elderberries, blackberries, rose hips and more. I turned my elders into a vitamin c boost spiced syrup and my hips and chillies into a spiced jelly. Theres also other treasures to be found like sloes, bullaces, crab apples, cob nuts, sweet chestnuts, mushrooms and fungi… just remember to only harvest them if you are 100% sure you know what they are!

Autumn is transition, change and drama. In slow living it’s the time to prepare for what’s ahead. Don’t rush it, save your spoons, enjoy the beauty and prepare for the winter ahead.

To find out more about things mentioned in this post visit…

The Art of Slow

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Well I’ve chatted a lot about the negativity of chronic illness, I’ve also searched hard for the positive.

Recently I’ve managed to find myself in crisis, one of those moments when it never rains but pours. I made a list of ‘losts’:

  • My health
  • My work
  • My heart
  • My home

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Pretty huge things and I don’t have much left. But to reexamine the list, stop and breathe has truly been insightful. Despite my stubbornness I’ve been forced to halt and reassess.

  • My health  I do less things and a slower pace. These are things that I enjoy.
  • My work I transfer my skills to find something that fits with the above. Work is about love not money.
  • My heart It’s about time I stop letting others destroy me and love myself. In turn I make room for good people.
  • My home I simplify my home and living to make it work for me and love everything within it

So I welcoming ‘The Art Of Slow’ whatever this means! I’m discovering it day by day as a personal journey. Adapting to the seasons and the needs of each day as it comes. Savouring moments and building them into something special.

To start off I’m going to do a few of these 25 suggestions to savour November

Thank you chronic illness, you gave me the gift of slow…

 

Hawthorn (Maytree)

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She awoke.

It was so dark she didn’t know if she was really there.

She inhaled.

Her face full of the metallic earth, all mud, and rain, and rot.

She twitched.

Her fingers grasped the crisp mulch that seeped into her clothes.

She rose.

It was so dark her eyes could only make out shades of black and blue.

She felt.

Her hand reached up to her matted hair and pulled at a leaf.

She blinked.

The shadows became giants, then trees so tall they scraped the sky.

She noticed.

How much more she could see if she stopped and waited.

She discovered.

The moon shone between the holes in the canopy providing just enough.

She moved.

Clambering to her feet she stretched her damp limbs.

She listened.

Around her the world was slow but more noisy than she ever knew.

She considered.

The path ahead was her way out, why she had come here; to die.

She turned.

The path back from where she came still remained.

She paused.

As she did her eye caught sight of a tree; clusters of flowers as bright as the stars.

She was drawn.

It seemed to become the night sky, full of hope in the dark.

She neared.

And walked with open arms into the mass of branches discovering thorns sharp and true.

She cried.

Each snare snatched at her clothes and tore at her skin, but she pushed forward.

She persisted.

Feeling something ok was on the other side, knowing it was something different.

She emerged.

On the other side of the hawthorn there was a path she hadn’t seen before.

She bravely walked.

With leaves in her hair, the moon in her eyes, and blood on her skin.

She began.

A new life on a path she didn’t know but one that could never be the one she’d trod before.

The school of life…

It’s a bit quiet over here because I’m on the move. Anyone with chronic illness will no that travel is a killer. Anyway I discovered the YouTube channel The School of Life who make videos each week all about emotional education. Here’s the link to their video on anxiety. I also love their other projects such as The School of Life has a wonderful website full of resources. I’m looking forward to delving into their Book of Life sister website that tracks modern living through all of our major cultural influences.