Closing The Circle

Endings are as hard as beginnings. Trying to find the right words to bring this blog full circle was never going to be easy, especially after I’ve tipped so much of my spirit into it. But it’s not a sad ending because I already have a new place to call home. My new place is making putting the candle out that little bit easier. It’s not going to go black here though. I’ll keep it up, for now at least, as an archive.

I’d like say thank you, to every single one of you who has stopped by over the years. My new home is A Living Witch, and you’re all invited to come and visit!  – Katie.

Today Happened

I was up with the dark this morning, and our yowling cat who is, for about the seventh time this year (and we’re only in fucking January) in heat, and made it to my SFI class ON TIME without being knocked off my bike and dying on the way.

Last night I was in an uber panic because Friday is test day at SFI and I didn’t know all of my klassrumsord. But min älskling helped out massively by testing the shit out of me. I was left feeling somewhat confident that it would go sort of alright. Except for with the word väska, which, for some inexplicable reason, will not stick in my head. (By the way, it translates to bag.) Whoever said Swedish was like English needs a kick up the arse.

ANYWAY. I did real good on my test despite my anxiety. My score was 12.5 out of 13. I got half a point on that bastard word väska

In my break at SFI I indulged in some light reading from my Writers Forum magazine which I bought in England back in November, and am only just getting around to reading now. Yes, life has been that busy. And I found myself burning with inspiration to re-launch my blog baby Wyrd Words & Effigies with a new look and new features. I was supposed to brainstorm the re-launch this evening, but got lost writing some poetry instead because my soul needed it very bloody much. Tomorrow will have to do.

I’ve got into the habit of doing some lunchtime stitchery while I have my open faced cottage cheese sandwich. (A nightmare to eat, but it seems normal behaviour now after almost a year in Sweden.)

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This afternoon was all about doing my work for BabyGaga which I’m absolutely loving. Then I conjured up this from a photo I took while out in the forest yesterday…

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And found some time to edit a few more photos from a shoot a few weeks ago with @erzabethbathory

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For the past day and a half I’ve had the line For The Women Who Lived Then Died Then Lived Again in my head…so tonight, as my last creative act for the day, I opened up my soul and wrote a poem for it.

To all the women who have lived
and died and lived again

Take yourself into the forest,
alone.

Walk until the sounds of the town
are no more. Walk until all you can smell
is sap from the trees felled in winter storms,
and the last of the snow.

When your thighs are dull with aching,
when sweat has pooled into all of your crevices,
when your mouth is as dry as the inside
of a bears den, then rest.

Drop to your knees.

Place your dirty hands on your bare chest,
feel it, your wild heartbeat. How it pounds so forcefully.

It wants this existence.
It is still so strong. It still has so much to give.

Trace the scenic route of your veins
as they run rivers up your arms.
Kiss those blue rivers for as long as they run
you are here and everything is possible.

Those Brísingamen eyes, they will flicker again,
oh she wolf, they will shine!

They may be dampened, they may be put out
like a flame extinguished by falling snow
but you will blink them bright again.

And the past, you will kick it down.
It cannot punish you anymore,
or damage the beautiful imprint
you will leave.

You are brave.

Put on your horns.
Sing to the moon and dance
yourself to joy in her light.

Fill yourself with all the scat you find,
take the forest into yourself
until your belly is warm.

Now, walk boldly home,
woman who has lived and died
and who lives again.

Another photo from the shoot with @erzabethbathory. I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to this new poem…

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Stitching In The Dark : A Week Of Swedish Words

Oh my goodness if feels so good to sit down and write. I’ve been aching to blog for days now, and have felt so fucking forlorn when I’ve needed to go to bed without sharing. But I’m here now and can breathe a little bit easier.

This little project of mine went much better than I’d expected. I managed 6 out of 7 days and for that, I’m uber proud. I’ve been having some trouble with my concentration again, my sleep has been disturbed and my thoughts haven’t been so helpful, so I see my 6 days of Swedish words as a great success.

It’s reminded me that no matter how difficult my life becomes, I’m capable of clinging on, pulling myself back to safety and moving forward. I’m capable of saving myself over and over again by fully embracing my creativity.

My next project is something inspired by  this tablecloth sewing project by the ever inspirational  Thistlemilk. But I’ll talk more about in my next post…

Having a little project to complete every day is where its at for me. It provides the focus I need, and gives me something to look forward to…and believe me when I say I really  do look forward to sitting down with my needle and thread. It’s also, I quickly discovered, one of the best ways for me to fully relax  and leave my worries elsewhere.

The Swedish words that I’ve stitched this past week will be forever embedded in the soft mass of my brain. You develop a whole new appreciation for language when you dedicate precious time to really getting to know a new word.

I have pages of pages Swedish words  and phrases (nearly all of them written down during my breaks at SFI) that I still want to immortalize in my own little way, words such as Vild – Wild, Trolldom – Witchcraft and Kasta Åt Vargarna – Throw Me To The Wolves.

Pest – Plague

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Trolsk – Bewitching

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Natt – Night

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Månbelyst – Moonlit

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Nord – North

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Va Fan – Fucks Sake

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Stitching In The Dark : A Week Of Swedish Words

I was excited when I woke up this morning, excited A: because there was snow outside (but also great stretches of ice which made walking to school a bitch). B: Because I had SFI and I am loving learning Swedish for real.  And C:  because after my SFI class I would be heading down the street to an embroidery emporium, to stock up on some much needed black thread and a few other bits and pieces.

Sadly I didn’t get my thread…as it turns out, I’ve still to be paid for a few writing jobs, so I wasn’t able to part with krona for embroidery materials when we still have to eat something this week.

Still, I didn’t let it dissuade me from the task at hand. I chose to work with a gorgeous flaxen coloured thread that I picked up for 6 krona from the thrift store last week.

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I had the man give my chosen word the ‘all clear’ before I started stitching. Today’s choice was a word I found in the classroom ordbook during my break at SFI. I fell head over heels for ‘Trolsk,’ a word which translates to magic or bewitching.

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I accompanied it with the Eihwaz rune, because of it’s connection to the most magical tree for the ancient Germanic people – the yew tree. Getting it into the frame (which I also found the thrift store for 15 krona) was a fucking nightmare. How I did it I have no bloody idea, but it was worth every frustrating second.

The man and I have recently been getting our act together in terms of keeping our home tidy…and it makes the world of difference when it comes to getting work done. I want to do nothing more than sit and create when my work space i.e. the kitchen looks like this.

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The thought of starting up a Tumblr blog where I can gather embroidery inspo has been throwing itself around in my head all day long, so probably by this time tomorrow I’ll have gone ahead and done it. That or start one here. What do you think? Tumblr ot WordPress?

I would love, in a few months time (so in March), to be at the point where I can actually make obscure pieces to sell on Etsy. Right now, I’m fighting the temptation to reach for my threads and start something new…

Stitching In The Dark : A Week Of Swedish Words

As I mentioned in my last post, I was going to start a little project this week where I stitched one Swedish word a day. And today, to my own shock and disbelief, I actually managed to start it.

Before I got stitching today though, I headed out into the cold with a goal – to find some little frames so I could lovingly display my daily word.

I found myself in one of my favourite thrift stores Myrorna, where I picked up a teeny, tiny silver frame – just the right size for a single cross stitched word – for 5 krona (about fifty pence).

When I got home, I dismantled the tiny frame and found, hidden within, an immaculately written note which, I imagine, had once been displayed behind the frame’s glass.

I was unable to make out what the text said, so I waited for my man to come home and translate it for me, which he did, and, as it turns out, it says something very special…can you guess what?

Inspired, my man ended up composing a Facebook post all about the silver penned note. And here it is, along with a photo that he took of the note. (Not quite sure how Google Translate will fare with this one, but you can give it a go…)

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Katie hittade den här i en liten fotoram hon köpte på second hand-affären. Hon visade mig den här lappen, bad mig att översätta. Efter jag översatte budskapet för henne, kom jag på mig själv med att sitta och titta på den handskrivna lappen, som uppenbarligen är skriven av en tjej, handstilen är för proper för att vara komponerad av en kille.

Men varför var den skriven? Var det för att det har smärtat människan, eller var det en påminnelse om att denne gjort rätt beslut?

Stilen, svart papper och skrift med silver, samt en ditklistrad stjärna känns sannerligen väldigt 90-tal. Det väcker minnen inom mig från när jag var yngre. När man började få upp intresset för tjejer och hela det där… Det är någonting ledsamt över 90-talet, samtidigt som det var helt underbart. När man börjar resan med att hitta sig själv och vem man vill bli, eller tro att man vill bli.

Det är något med den där svarta lappen som gör mig sentimental. Det är så klichéartat, men samtidigt så djupt sant att det griper tag i min reflekterande och sentimentala sida.
Tack, tjejen som skrev den här lappen, förhoppningsvis under det mörka 90-talet, för att en åldrande pojke fick en liten filosofisk släng så här på kvällskvisten. En sketen måndag.

Peace out äverybåddy!

 

It took a while to chose the word I wanted to cross stitch, but after much deliberation, and upon discovery that one of the main words I was considering didn’t actually mean what I thought it did (apparently ghoul in Swedish is not spelt ghul. ANNOYING.) I settled on ‘pest’ which translates to plague.

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The plague arrived in Sweden in 1350, a year after it had disembarked from a ship in Bergen harbour in Norway. It went onto kill around 200,000 people, one third of Sweden’s population at the time. Just try to imagine…just 400,000 people left in all of Sweden. To put this in perspective, Sweden’s population currently stands at 9.593 million. And it’s not even crowded here.

Anyway, when I first thought ‘oh, I quite fancy trying some of that embroidery for myself’ I didn’t think that it would impact me in quite the way that it has.

I never imagined that I would find the peace – or the excitement – that I’ve uncovered through stitching one cross after another after another. But I’m thankful to the universe for planting the idea in my head, and leading me on this exhilarating, beautiful, dark creative journey.

 

 

Stitching In The Dark : Stitching Into 2017

My time management skills used to be phenomenal. I don’t mean to brag, but really, they were. However, following my ‘breakdown’ last year (when I came off my medication and was hardly functioning for months), I’ve struggled to claw back my time, and now it seems like I have less of it than ever before.

If there’s one thing that I’m determined to do this year, it’s get back to the level of effectiveness that I built up over 30 years. I’m not complaining about my life, hell no. I’m writing and getting paid to write, and friends, you know that’s all I’ve ever wanted. What I don’t like is that I want to be doing what I love more effectively, so I’m able to do more of it and to a better standard. I also want to carve out some time to concentrate on improving my embroidery.

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My first piece of cross stitch in 2017 inspired by a pattern I found on Pinterest.

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Had a play around…’morn’ means witch in Icelandic….

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‘Skrock’ means superstition in Swedish. Find out how I learned this word here.

Whenever I end the day with only half of my ‘to do’ list done, a little part of me dies. I used to have the mornings, but now they’re taken up with SFI. I can’t blame that though…I mean when I get home I find myself sucked into Facebook, then led down the BuzzFeed rabbit hole. And hello…the sun which had just peaked over the horizon has already fucked off, and I’m still looking at photos of the world’s angriest cats, and everything I ought to have done is still waiting for me. At which point I want to reach for the sanctity of my cross stitch. I never used to be like that. I was excellent at avoiding distractions and moving with swiftness from one task to the other.

When I’m with my cross stitch though, everything stops. I’m completely and utterly absorbed and peaceful.

The aim was to create a new cross stitch every day of this year. I really, really wanted to do that. The plan hasn’t really gone down all that well though, and tbh, I’m quite sad about that. Actually, I’m very sad. Sticking to my goals was also something that I was highly effective at. I need to re-train myself in the art of achieving as well this year. But that’s alright. I know I can get back there.

Since I started cross stitching at the beginning of the year, I’ve worked on three pieces. While they’re tiny, I’m proud of them and they all have stories. Yesterday I was going through a Swedish/English dictionary, looking for dark, strange words that I could stitch. My list is several pages long now and still growing. Next week I’m going to stitch a new Swedish word every day. A word is manageable for now, while I bring my time in from its wanderings and tell it that it needs to stay home now.

 

Friday The 13th In Sweden

It has been a (wonderfully) mad few weeks! I’ve started writing for the brilliant website BabyGaga , have been leaving the house at the crack of dawn for SFI five days a week and I’ve taken up cross stitch. (Addicted and can’t stop. Send help. Not really. I love it.)

My Friday the 13th started off particularly unlucky. I’m especially superstitious…most of us English are, so I didn’t expect much else. I don’t think the Swedes take today particularly seriously though. They’re far too progressive and level headed. In England we still have something a bit Middle Ages with our thinking.

I managed to get about an hours sleep last night because one of the cats is in heat, and the other one has sickness and diarrhea. Then my rucksack opened itself up on my way to school and I nearly lost everything to the slush. I also ended up being fifteen minutes late to class, then did spectacularly bad with my work, ballsing up things which I knew, and repeatedly asking my lovely and especially patient teacher questions in English instead of in Swedish…like I’m supposed to do.

However! Today did have its positives. Here they are.

During my SFI class I learned the word ‘skrock’ which means ‘superstition’ in Swedish.Immediately I thought to myself ‘cross stitching that when I get home!’ Learning this new word improved my mood ten fold, and I found myself scouring the English/Swedish Ordbook during the break for other weird words that I could stitch.

When I got home I sat down and did my cross stitch. I should have been working solidly on articles due in this weekend, but I needed some me time after the monumental stress of the morning. So I spent an hour or so crafting and then, very gently, getting the sleeping cat’s tail to lay artfully across my finished piece. Instagram demands this artiness. She wasn’t particularly happy about this however, even in her sleep.

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I added an Algiz rune to my cross stitch, which, when inverted means ‘hidden danger, taboo, warning…’ Quite suitable I think for today. Friday the 13th also held significance for the vikings. 12 gods were feasting in Valhalla when in walked a 13th, uninvited guest…the mischievous Loki who arranged for Hodor to kill Balder the Beautiful with a mistletoe tipped arrow.

This evening I heard a bird calling from the forest. No idea what I was hearing (okay, my first thought was EAGLE! Which was silly. I’ve seen National Geographic. I know an eagle doesn’t sound like that.) I hurled the door open and recorded the sound with my phone and promptly uploaded it onto Facebook and Instagram.

Coming from the forest…does anyone know what sort of bird this is?

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Within about five minutes, the web and its people had gifted me with an answer…what I was hearing was a tawny owl (even better than an eagle!), specifically a territorial female owl. Apparently they get like that in winter. Apparently it is the males which make the ho-hoo calls and the females make the ke-wick noises I was hearing. Thanking the universe for letting me off ‘lightly’ this Friday 13th and for giving me some light relief at the end of bloody long day.