GUEST POST: Feeling Enchanted as a Writer

This is A World Enchanted’s first ever guest post!!! Woohoo! Welcome Llinos!
In this post, Llinos shares her feelings around having published her first book, and the act of using her creative skills as a writer to share her journey so that others can find healing and enchantment during their own struggles too. It is my pleasure to hand over the stage to author, speaker and another enchantress of Wales, Llinos Mai Thomas!

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Some creative people struggle with calling themselves an ‘artist’ or ‘writer’. At the moment, I’m trying out ‘author’ as a label for myself, as my self published book ‘Cancer, Chemo and Curls’ is now available on Amazon.

Part of me is a bit scared. The book is about my time as a teenage cancer patient; it is very honest and raw. It’s a very bold book, and I don’t hold back about what happened to me. I feel vulnerable and visible in a way I haven’t been before. But, I’m choosing to harness that feeling as a great personal strength and channelling it into my creative flow.

I didn’t used to feel creative at all. Yes, I liked doodling and making up stories, but I didn’t take Art in school and I didn’t think I was very good at it. didn’t think I was what a creative person should be or look like.

Now however, I feel creativity is a core part of who I am, and what I can offer the world. I want to make handmade greeting cards to cheer someone’s day; I want to write a story which makes people smile. On a larger scale, I’m passionate about what my book can do for women who need to hear this story, of how a young girl took on cancer and won.

I’ve also found myself dreaming up stories about queens in faraway lands; tinged with my love of history and with an essence of fantasy from the part of me that loves fairy tales, oracle cards and inspiring, whimsical art. Living in Wales, I am moved by the beautiful castles and legends which are so firmly locked into our culture. This creativity has come forth out of my health problems, including depression, and now I’ve unlocked this part of me nothing can stop it flowing. During depression, I have found creative outlets help me emotionally as effectively as any professional medical treatment.

That’s what holding my completed book in my hands feels like. A pure, inner smile. As though I can take on the world and follow my deepest dreams and live an enchanted life. I’m the fairy queen in my own life and there’s nothing that can keep me from connecting with my deep creative joy and purpose.

 

Llinos Mai Thomas

 

Llinos Mai Thomas is a writer, speaker and charity fundraiser who lives in Cardiff, UK.  She is a creative soul who loves reading and history.  She shares her health journey at www.inspirationafterillness.com

How to Make Your Own Oracle Deck part 2 – Structure!

I hear a lot of people say they’d like to make their own Oracle deck, and I’m in the process of making my second so I thought I’d share and hopefully inspire you to get making! Check out Part one on choosing a theme and other related posts here.

There are several ways of working out a structure.

You Can: Brainstorm the cards you want in your deck and then look at how they fit together and who is missing…

Or: Write up a list of the areas/archetypes you want your cards to cover and then decide how each archetype will be expressed.

Or: Just start making cards and then play with them to find out what feels like it is still required.

Or: base it on an already recognised structure, such as Tarot, the Sephiroth, Elemental correspondences and so on…

For example:

For the FeyHearted Deck I knew I wanted the Queen and King first, then the stages on the journey to Faeryland, then archetypes and other beings, and then action cards. So I started with The Queen, then the King, then the gateway opening the journey, then a card for each major change along the path to Faery and so on. Starting with a structure works well for decks with a clear overall theme.

For Healing Hearts I have some deities who have told me they must be included, so they get top priority. I’ve then negotiated a keyword and archetype for each one and looked at what energies are missing. Those are in the process of being listed so Pawl and I can find deities that fit AND want to be included. Starting with individual cards is good if you are working with individual beings and could also be used for decks based on a story as you already have set characters and events to make the cards from.

For my personal SoulCollage™ deck I began with making cards that expressed aspects of myself, my life and archetypes I relate to and the deck evolved naturally. This is especially good for affirmation type decks and personal decks.

Once you have a good selection of cards listed (or made) look to see what energies or archetypes are missing. This will firstly show you what is less conscious for you (or what you’re avoiding in your life) which is a helpful bit of divination in its own right, and secondly allow you to expand the deck before it is finish to make sure it is balanced enough to be useful for a longer period of time. For my FeyHearted Deck I initially had no challenge cards but I knew something was missing. I printed a copy and some blank cards and played with the deck until it hit me: I had no challengers! I’d forgotten the Thirteenth Faery! Three challenge cards were all that were needed to balance the lighter side and make the deck whole.

 

Your Tasks:

Decide how you want to structure your deck. Is it free-form? Is it based on a system or story? Do you have clear ideas for some or all of the cards, or do you know what the journey and them of the deck is but not what the individual steps are?

Begin brainstorming cards within this structure.

Once you have a list of card names (which can change as you go!) have a look at the mood and archetype of each one and see if your deck leans towards one direction, or if it is balanced. If it leans – do you want it to? If not, what might you include to balance the scales?

Ponder on this list. Maybe label up some blank cards just with the names and have a go at using the deck and see how the cards fall. Make notes as you discover things!

To support the making of Healing Hearts you can check out the project and contribute to the fundraiser here!

Comment below and let me know how you’re getting on with making your own deck! What would you like to hear more about?

The conception of Healing Hearts

About two years ago I made an Oracle deck inspired by my work with the Fae.

And I love it! Since then I’ve been contemplating making another – improving using the lessons I learned from the first deck… but what?

Last year I went to visit my Reclaiming community in Spain (Hola!) and at the start of camp, as we have for each year I’ve been to visit, we pulled a Goddess Guidance card. The feminine divine spoke clearly to us, their voices weaving a story for the camp as well as blessing each individual with what they needed.

But where were the male voices? And where were the queer* voices?

Ours is a mixed community, open to the divine in all its faces. Open to all hearts and bodies. One big thing I adore about Reclaiming is its openness and inclusivity; there needs now to be space for all sexes and genders so that we can heal together, in relationship. (For the philosophers: we are Being-with with others, what more proof do you need that this is how we’ll heal?) I love the work that my sisters have done in bringing the Goddess back into the world and being a cis-gendered, white, female in a hetero-normative relationship, I have benefited immensely from their work. I am deeply grateful. And the wheels are turning further and now we need to make sure that we are working in relationship with each other. Men need role-models that show them how to live in the new world we want to build with them. People of all sexes and genders (and none) need space to be themselves. And each of us need to heal the divine in all its forms in our own hearts. Few of us are all male, or all female. I need to heal the relationship to both the masculine and feminine within myself, and the parts of myself that are neither, or both or other – the parts I don’t even have the language for – and I know that as a society we all do.

So where were those deities? I asked. Where are the voices of those that aren’t just feminine?

And the lady whose deck it was told me this:

I can’t find a deck that has all those voices. Why don’t you make one?

And my heart leapt: Yes, I said, I will.

It has taken a year of letting it percolate, of feeling that I should wait for a better time to make this happen. But there is never a perfect time, except now.

The week I decided to start this deck I saw several articles on violence against women and transgendered people, one after the other. There is much healing to be done and we can only do this if everyone recognises their own divinity and the divinity of others. My belief is that art is healing, and oracle decks are art that gets used, shared, handled, listened to. As such they have great capacity for healing. My hope is that this deck will show the world that many are seeking – where everyone has space to be themselves and are on equal footing regardless of sex/gender. We all need role models for how we can be healthy in our relationships and lives, and to show us how others can be too.

AND it is a good way to meet the deities that are walking our Earth again (or still). Those Gods and Goddesses and Divinities that speak to us, that wish to work with us on healing ourselves and the land – because ultimately healthy people are people that heal others too.

If this sounds like a project you want to support, you can acquire a first printing of the deck through the fundraiser! Or a reading, or art or other things. Or please share this with your communities. I hand this over into your hands and the hands of the gods.

PS: I am new to the LGBTQ* conversation. I do not intend to step on any toes, though I am aware I probably will and I ask for forgiveness in advance – please point out when I say something stupid or hurtful and I will mend my ways. Because I am not part of the Queer community I am not making this as a specifically queer deck, but I am hoping that a deck with queer voices marketed to a broader audience is likely to be helpful in creating space for everyone to relate to each other within regardless.

*I’m using Queer in its broadest sense here as it feels like the best and most inclusive option I know.

How to Make your Own Oracle Deck – part 1

Healing Hearts will be the second oracle deck I’ve published, the third deck I’ve made for myself and the seventh oracle system I’ve created!

When I mention that I make oracles to people they often say “I’ve always wanted to make a deck of my own!” So this time I thought I could share the process I go through and give anyone who has been thinking about making one themselves a peak into how easy it can be!

My first step is one you’ve probably already done, as I had – use as many different kinds of decks as you can. This way I had a good idea of the range of possibilities and knew for sure I love cards.

The juiciest part of making your own deck is choosing a theme!

You could make an oracle deck with any theme that calls to you. The possibilities are endless! Maybe you have an idea already or maybe you just wish you could hold a deck you’ve made in your hands. Either way, now is the time to crystalise and clarify your idea. Here are a few questions to get you started:

What are your favourite things?

Do you have a pantheon or deity you love who you’d like to honour?

What is most important to you in your life? (Home, family, environment, animals?)

Is there a story you adore that has a lot of symbolism in it? (Eg Alice in Wonderland is now being made into a tarot deck)

What do you want the deck to do? (Healing, inspiring, messages from specific spirits like angels?)

Why are you making this deck? Is it just for fun? Do you want to sell copies? If you want to sell copies it is a good idea to check out what is already available to buy, both so you’re not stepping on toes and so your deck is unique. If you find a deck on your theme then you can still make it, just see if you can emphasise the uniqueness of your particular deck. So maybe there are several dragon decks out there, but yours is specifically Dragons of Britain, or Dragons of the water, or Healing Dragons… sit with your ideas and feel which one sparkles the most. And then listen to your heart – what uniqueness can you bring to this theme?

And remember, it doesn’t need to be serious! Humour really helps people to relax into a receptive state – a few years ago I co-taught a series of mini-workshops using Buffy and co (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as archetypes. There was much giggling and much magic happened because everyone was relaxed!!!

Your Task:

Write down all the ideas you have for a theme. Sit quietly in contemplation and feel which one you are most drawn to right now.

Holding that theme in your heart, allow your intuition and inspiration to tell you how you can bring your own uniqueness to bear on this theme.

Now, what do you have? Add a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!!!

(PS: The Healing Hearts Oracle fundraiser is still live, you can donate to make it happen here: Healing Hearts through IndieGoGo! Or share the link and get other people involved 🙂

Healing Hearts Oracle Campaign!

I’ve just launched a fundraiser for my latest project! Please help if you can by contributing (and getting shinies!) and spreading the word!

The short version:

Healing Hearts is a 50 card deck of deities including male, female and third/other gendered deities to heal the divine in all of us. (And to fundraise for kickstarting my Undercover Enchantress in Academia career!)

Click here for the campaign!

The longer story:

The Enchantress shares three moments:

Paint dripped down the page as I stepped back, to see a face of the divine peering back at me. It spoke.

Cards fell from fingers, faces of the feminine divine laid out before us as we heard their words spoken with reverence. I wondered where the masculine was.

The Green Goddess, the Horned God and the Sacred Earth spoke to us from their seats through our Priest and Priestesses. They called us to honour our hearts and the hearts of those around us.

Image and word in cards combine. The divine ones speak to us. In many forms they gift us with their guidance. Their stories light our way, bring healing to our hearts. Their many, many forms and faces reach out to us and stand before us as role models for our lives, as guides to the Sacred in our own Hearts, showing us where their powers reside in us and in the world.

And so a work of art in honour, in service to the gods and in service to the divine heart of each of us, is begun.

An Oracle deck – a work of art that is handled, spoken to, listened to – and a book of their stories and rituals together to bring the gods in their many forms, male, female, androgyne, into our lives. They come to show us that we too are sacred and that all the people of the world, regardless of sex or gender or race, are divine too.

Healing Hearts is an Oracle Deck which includes male, female and third-gendered deities from cultures all over the world, to allow us to meet the divine in its many faces and heal our relationship to the divine masculine, feminine and androgyne in our lives, within and without.

It is also a detailed book detailing the stories and history of each deity within the deck with rituals and devotionals to help you listen to their words directly, useful when paired with the deck but equally helpful on its own for those that prefer books to decks. In order to make this really awesome I’ve asked my friend Pawl to help with the research!

And finally it is part of A World Enchanted, the home of myself (Halo), and thus is supporting my pursuit of a PhD in philosophy of art and enchantment in order to bring the importance of magic into an academic, philosophical framework. Enchantment requires living as part of the natural world, not above it, and by welcoming the many forms of the divine into the world through art I am helping to open the possibility for more individuals to recognise their place within the circle.

Click here for the campaign!

Temple of Tales: Persephone or Kore?

What happens when magic and stories meet?

Have you ever heard the voice of a goddess, whispering in your ear to walk with her for a time? To share her story? To guide others through magic into their own tale?

We call this Persephone’s story, but really… is it Kore’s? Is it the tale of who the Goddess becomes, or who she was once, and always will be?

Kore was the daughter of the grain mother. A flower child she played. She was stolen away from her home and forced to face the greatest challenge we know; death. And on entering the underworld, Kore found pomegranate seeds. Bright red jewels. She hadn’t chosen to face the Lord of Death, or enter his home – few ever do – but she did choose to eat the seed of life that comes from death.

No-one else could have found life in the land of the dead as she did. No-one but a child a life could have claimed that crown. She became Persephone, Queen of the Dead, but she is always Kore, daughter of the grain, daughter of the seeds, just a little more grown up.

 

We live this in our lives. We make choices, face challenges, grow up. But we are still who we have always been, deep down. We still carry the seed we started from. Our genetics, our roots, our childhood dreams shape us and the roles we choose. Even if we choose in opposition to these beginnings…

The question is whether we choose roles for ourselves that allow us to grow, to flourish, to rule over our own lives. How often have we chosen the path of Sovereignity? The path of Queen (or King)?

What do you choose now?

 

Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone...
Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone…

Learning from Fairy tales

In an article on finishing things (that final push is the hardest!) I came across a quote that encapsulated an idea which resonates with me so strongly:

“People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkey skins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kinds that seep up from your subconscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teaches you how to prevail, and trust.”

~ Charles De Lint, The Onion Girl

This is so true. When we read stories they seep into our minds, our emotions, our bodies. We journey through the woods with the lost child, we scale mountains with the hero, we fall and we get up. In doing so, our heart is broken open and the light gets in. We allow ourselves to experience those things which we might otherwise protect ourselves from, and rightly so. In doing so we gain experiences to draw on in our everyday life and we are transformed by these experiences.

Aristotle spoke of tragedy as providing Catharsis and we see this role played by media throughout our lives still but, even more than this, we absorb the tales we read, see, hear. We take them to heart and we act them out.

As a child I loved The Little Mermaid. I would spend hours in swimming pools or by the sea pretending to be a mermaid. (And I still feel most me with ruby-red hair!) It is perhaps no surprise that I lost all confidence in my ability to sing when I gave up swimming entirely because, for some inexplicable reason, I became terrified of deep water. I lost my voice when I left the sea. Without realising it, I played out Ariel’s tale in my own life. Healing that fear has coincided with regaining my singing voice. I began working on both these things almost simultaneously and, shortly afterwards, recognised the story I was living that was not mine.

I’ve written a new ending to this tale. A new ending for me. But this is how powerful stories are. We take them to heart. And we can choose the stories we engage in. We can choose to follow the tale of Taliesin’s transformation to deepen our knowledge and understanding, or the Selkie stories to find our way home, or Persephone’s tale to step into our power to change the world.

And so a new story unfolds. The Temple of Tales begins to form, a sacred place where stories touch our lives with magic and we rewrite our lives using the tales we choose.

Welcome to the Temple of Tales, presenting; Persephone and your Power.

Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone...
Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone…

Click on the gate above for more information and to discover the link to the giveaway of all four rituals!

Down the Rabbit Hole…

Tumbling down…

… head over heels over head…

… … … landing heavily with a THUMP.

I remember one evening at Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire. There was art everywhere, coloured lights in the trees, poetry and performance, story and song.

Arriving was like stepping into another world. And, as we know all too well, Other Worlds come with their misadventures too.

I was so happy and loving every minute of it. I skipped off ahead following the trails my feet were finding for me, merrily diving into the darkness and trusting to my night vision (which had proved reliable thus far!) when suddenly my feet encountered a root, I looked down, saw nothing and stepped a little higher to clear whatever it was…

*squeak* CRASH THUMP *ohhhh dear*

Completely head over heels I rolled over a two foot high log. And I swear, there had been NOTHING there a moment before. My pride was bruised more than my body, though I’m sure I limped a little as we headed home, giggling at myself all the way.

I’m sure there was the sound of faery bells and laughter as I flew through the air.

Anyway, I’m not expecting this adventure to go without a hitch either, but I’m here, ready to laugh at the tumbles as well as the twinkles as I gratefully brush myself off with a new tale to tell.

Ask for Help

A heartfelt helping hand...
A heartfelt helping hand…

Something I struggle with is the belief that I have to do it all myself. If I need something, I should be the one to sort it out. If I’m stuck, I should dig myself out. I’m responsible for me and no-one else is.

Which, to a degree, is true. We can only be responsible for ourselves.

However, that personal responsibility doesn’t stop us from helping each other out. And it also doesn’t mean we are expected to be able to do everything!

To get what we want in life we have to commit ourselves to it, but we also have to open to possibility. I almost gave up on my PhD in the spring, for financial reasons. I woke on the day the Sun moved into Aries with a decision, a commitment, a choice made. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I’m going to make this work.

I announced it to the world (via Facebook) and, in opening to the possibility of it working, I immediately received support. I allowed those around me to help and it was suddenly an achievable goal!

Yesterday I gave an Oracle reading to a woman who is about to rock the world through business. And she expressed frustration that she couldn’t do the tech side of business and sometimes felt pointless around those that could. My response to her: you do your work and let others do their work. You don’t have to be good at everything, you don’t have to manage everything yourself, let others be their awesome selves while you are your awesome self and you can help each other.

So often I’ve seen people struggle to manage on their own, trying to do it all, refusing to ask for help. It doesn’t have to be that way. You are part of a community and we support each other. It may not be the person you expect that responds but someone, or something will.

I wonder; where do you need to ask for help? Take a deep breath and relax. Feel in your body what you need help or support around and breathe out, opening to the possibility of someone giving you what you need. Now ask the Universe, Great Spirit, God or Goddess for help. Ask for what you need and allow the Universe to gift it to you.

Let your loves entwine

Pondering: Throughout the ages tales tell of otherworldly music drifting into the everyday world and leading unsuspecting humans on an adventure. Does music from another time count as coming from another world as well? 

Medieval Archery Halo at St Dogmaels
Ready to aim high!

I’m a longbow archer, (currently the County Outdoor Lady Longbow Champion at that) and our club was running a have-a-go stall at an event this bank holiday. My friend and I had agreed to go help before realising that it was a medieval day. Perfect! We’ve been working on Renaissance and Medieval Music! With 24 hours to go, and most of that full of work and rehearsals, I set to making something that might pass as a medieval costume. We pulled together the songs we’d been working on and discovered we have a full set that we can do with only the two of us and arrived, songbook in hand, to make some magic!

There is something about hands-on-activities that really excites people and we were rushed off our feet all day, talking about the longbows and organising the people as they came in to shoot so in the end we got to sing whilst packing up – which prompted some interesting heckling! It was a glorious day, the club raised a good amount of funds to keep it running over the winter and we got to sing in the end. All in all, a grand day out.

Despite the fact that we didn’t get to sing much, we still gathered several opportunities. It is funny how being open with people about what you do can lead to new connections, new chances. It makes me wonder how many opportunities I missed when I was too nervous to share my passions with those I met in case they… what? Rejected me? I’m not sure really. All I know is that I tended to keep my love of myth and magic under my hat in all but the most obvious situations. I’m learning though; every time we share what lights us up, others respond in kind and we make connections with those that love our passions too. And those that don’t share those passions often know someone who does!

It also struck me that often when we follow one passion (in this case archery) and hold the other in mind (music!) they will find ways to overlap and feed each other.

My takeaway from this: Don’t bother compartmentalising life. Share what you love and allow each aspect of your life to inform and feed the others. In this way you connect with others who love the same things, opportunities open for you and life becomes a veritable feast of delight!

Maybe at the Philosophy Conference in February I’ll do a philosophical piece on faeries… now where was that copy of Collingwood’s ‘Philosophy of Enchantment‘?