Music for Healing – playing with an old friend

Yesterday I played with an old friend. Meet Viola; she’s been in my life for around 20 years now. I haven’t been able to play much for a few years due to various health relapses and muscular problems, but yesterday I spent time tuning and cleaning her, getting to know her again. I worked out how to play a fairly simple song by Myrkur that I love (Tor i Helheim), and I could feel all those lovely string-vibrations begin to open my heart up again.

Music can be healing, and although I’ve ‘lost’ a lot of what I learned it’s comforting to feel that familiarity returning again. It feels like reclaiming a piece of Me. Stringed instruments really do play on my heartstrings.


© Michelle Thereze, Enchant The Ordinary, August 2020

The Death of a Sparrow and the Gift of Grief

(I refer to Sparrow as ‘he’ but I don’t actually know for certain. It feels too impersonal to say ‘it’)

The Sparrows in our garden love playing in the hedge and on the front lawn. They are a joy to watch, but one of their number will no longer be joining them. In July one of the younger Sparrows flew into the lounge window with a very loud thud, and didn’t get up. I thought at first he was just stunned so I watched for a couple of minutes, but when he didn’t move I went out to check on him. The poor little Birdy was breathing so heavily but couldn’t seem to move. I gently picked him up and his head lolled to one side; I think his neck had been broken.

I spent the next few minutes just holding him, trying to make soothing noises and gently stroking a few feathers. Slowly the little Sparrow’s breaths became more laboured, and his eyes half closed. Just as rain started my little friend passed from this world. I asked Mum to get a small cardboard box and she lined it with some tissues. We lay Sparrow in the box and placed him in the entryway because it’s sheltered there. I planned to bury him.

In the previous couple of days I’d been doing a lot of inner healing work, releasing emotional trauma, but I hadn’t been able to cry and release the tears I felt inside. When I went to bed that night I thought about Sparrow – he and his siblings had been playing on our lawn so happily only the evening before. Mum had even commented on how lovely it was to see them. It was sad to think he’d no longer be flitting about in the garden, playing hide and seek, and nibbling on the Clover flowers.

I burst into tears.

Sparrow seemed to represent a part of myself – playful, innocent, open and light-hearted – and the sudden hit against the window echoed a situation in my own life that struck me abruptly and ‘killed off’ those parts of me.
I got to be with Sparrow in his final moments and make sure he wasn’t alone; I was given the honour of being with this tiny, sweet Bird as he took his last breath. In replaying those memories I was able to sit with and honour the parts of my Self that had been through trauma, and I was finally able to express Grief. I sobbed and keened, and finally let it all pour out. Sparrow acted as a Guide for my own inner loss.

The following afternoon I buried Sparrow in the raised bed in the garden. I said a few words of prayer for him, and also of thanks for his Gift of Grief. I placed a little stone over his grave and placed some Rose petals and flowers there too. I shed a few more tears as his Gift worked through me again (and they continue to do so writing this now).

The Gift of Grief can help to open the heart again, after a certain time. That time is different for everyone. Tending to inner wounds and trauma can be difficult, but sometimes we are gifted with an experience that helps to give us a channel for it so we can start to truly heal. I honour Sparrow for his precious Gift on my healing journey, and for those final minutes I got to share with him.


© Michelle Thereze, Enchant The Ordinary, July & August 2020

Devotional Practice on a Budget

Not everyone can afford to buy new, and I feel we need to start removing the stigma around buying Devotional/Pagan/Witchy items secondhand. And sometimes the best things are made by our own fair hands, or with a bit of creativity.

At present we still need to be mindful about going out and staying safe, so please bear this in mind. Some options may not be available, viable or safe in the current climate. I also understand many are still shielding and staying at home because they’re in the at-risk categories with covid (including me!). Despite this here are my ideas for a Devotional Practice on a budget:

  • Look in charity shops for shawls, large scarves, table cloths, curtains or even bedding you can use as altar cloths.
  • Look for Deity statues and altar items in charity shops, secondhand shops, junkyards, table top sales, garage sales, car boot sales and auctions – or online.
  • Look in charity shops for candle holders and votives, bowls and plates, or for offering cups.
  • Upcycle boxes, cupboards, spice racks and upright jewellery boxes to create shrines.

Continue reading

Creative Muse Theresa Fractale

Some of you may remember ‘Fantasy Photography Fridays’, where I shared a selection of my favourite fantasy photographers. Although I haven’t shared much along those lines recently I continue to enjoy finding new inspirers. Unfortunately there is a woeful lack of diversity in models for these kinds of projects, so this post is instead focusing on creative muse Theresa Fractale. She has worked with a number of fantasy photographers and has a wonderful sense of presence that comes through in her pictures. I thoroughly recommend looking at Theresa’s social media pages; she has lots of gorgeous photos in her back catalogue.
(Links to everyone’s social media below)

By Kira Krallmann (from Theresa’s page) – https://www.instagram.com/p/B9DDfUzI2Xr/?igshid=ug0bipie1ihr

By Free Spirit Crew (from Theresa’s page) – https://www.instagram.com/p/BZyb9gYD8sn/?igshid=qr6k8nxhjipy

By nusinamn (from Theresa’s page) – https://www.instagram.com/p/BgB3AaHDpfT/?igshid=36pr2i6yn3i


Theresa Fractale – InstagramFacebookDeviantArtPatreon (tiers start from $1)

Annie Bertram – WebsiteInstagramDeviantArt
Iseris Photography – Instagram
Kira Krallmann – (private Instagram account and no website I could find)
Free Spirit Crew – Instagram
Angieszka Lorek – InstagramFacebookDeviantArt
Mustbe real.art – Instagram
Nusinamn – (Instagram notice of ‘user not found’, and I couldn’t find a website or other account)

Crafting Catch up – May 2020

I’ve been turning to crafting to help me through the last couple of months. I’ve found its helped my mental wellbeing as well as giving me a creative outlet while experiencing a health setback.

Those of you who have seen my previous posts about lucet braiding will know I’ve found a new love. I’ve continued braiding and have got a lot better with tension now. I’ve loved working with some chunky wool by Rico that changes colour; I’ve found it helps me to stay more mindful with new colours to focus on. I have also started a blue and green version of the chunky yarn, and I plan to sew both into round table or altar mats.

I had a go at weaving on a frame loom but my energy and concentration isn’t good enough to continue at the moment. I also tried spinning my own yarn with a drop spindle but again I’ve had to stop for now… and I’ll need to practice a lot, haha! Hopefully I can get back to them soon.

I’ve started needle felting too. I’ve had the wool and needles for ages and didn’t use them so I thought it was time to have a go again. I made my first piece around 4/5 years ago and it was a little Goddess doll I used for a release ritual. I wanted to try and make another Goddess but she ended up as a Mermaid. I’ve gifted her to Sigyn.


© Michelle Thereze, Enchant The Ordinary, May 2020

The lucet braid challenge is complete!

I thought I’d update on my lucet braid challenge to raise money for the M.E. Association (see previous post for more details). I started on the 26th April and completed it on the 29th. It took just under 4 hours altogether, averaging 1cm a minute because I like a tight weave.

I actually really enjoyed this challenge. It helped me to build up my technique with this particular lucet ‘stitch’ and I did get a bit quicker too. It gave me something positive to focus on over the first three days especially, as I wasn’t very well. I love this wool and having yarn that changed colours gradually kept things interesting. It’s given me some more creative ideas, and I’d like to learn a new lucet stitch now.

This is also the first time I’ve been able to participate in a fundraising event! Because I’ve had M.E. since I was 17 I’ve never had the health or energy to take part in walks, runs or other challenges, and my concentration can often be affected too. The 2.6 Challenge in place of the London Marathon actually gave me the freedom to raise money for a charity close to my heart, in a way that is self-caring for a housebound person with chronic illnesses. In some bizarre way the lockdown opened up non-physical, in-house ways of raising money for charity. I’m so happy I got the chance to take part, and that at least £140.10 (plus £25 in gift aid!) will be going to the M.E. Association just from my little lucet challenge. I feel incredibly lucky to have finally found a way to participate, and honoured that people have donated.

If you wish to contribute there’s still time to this weekend – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-s-2-6-challenge-a-2-6m-lucet-braid

And here’s the progress report I had going on Instagram and with family on Facebook:

Saturday 25th April – The anchoring stitch is in place ready for tomorrow’s lucet braiding challenge!

Monday 27th April (evening) – Thanks to insomnia I am already halfway through the lucet braiding challenge! 132cm done so far; 128cm to go.

Tuesday 28th April (evening) – 228cm completed! 32cm to go.

Wednesday 29th April (afternoon) – Challenge complete! All 2.6 metres of lucet braid has been created! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far. As things stand at the moment we’ve raised £140.10 plus £25 gift aid for the M.E. Association.

I’m making a 2.6m lucet braid to raise money for the M.E. Association! – the 2.6 Challenge

Many charities are struggling for funds at the moment, so to help raise money for the M.E Association I’m taking part in the 2.6 Challenge. Since I am housebound due to my health, and have very little energy and concentration at the moment, I chose to set myself the challenge of making a 2.6 metre long braid using a lucet.
The lucet is a two-pronged tool used in the Viking and Medieval eras to create braids and cords – you can read more about lucet braiding in my previous post. Since I love history and have recently learned how to do a basic weave on the lucet I decided to challenge myself! I have guesstimated it will take around 5-6 hours for me to complete the braid. This will have to be stretched out in 10-15 minute stints over a number of days and I will begin on the 26th April.

I’ve had M.E. (Myalgic encephalomyelitis) for 17 years. It started when I was 17 and I’ve spent a lot of that time housebound, and periods of being mainly or partially bedbound. Research into M.E. is vastly underfunded and as a result millions of people the world over are suffering in silence, and with outdated treatments that can actually make their health worse. For many of us lockdown is not so different from the daily life we live with.

The M.E. Association has been working tirelessly to help fund research into the illness. They have campaigned to get M.E. recognised as a genuine physiological illness. They have lobbied the government. They have put out leaflets and booklets educating about the illness. They produce annual books collating each year’s research into M.E. and the findings. They offer support for people with M.E., whether it be advice on how to get diagnosed, how to approach doctors about the illness, help with claims for disability benefits, and so much more. They have been life savers for some, and have helped to raise awareness of this largely invisible yet life-altering condition.

I am incredibly grateful for the work the M.E. Association does for everyone with this illness. Although its severity and symptoms vary from person to person it has a massive impact on the lives of everyone who has it, along with their families and loved ones. If you can spare even £2 to help me raise money for the vital work this charity does I would be extremely grateful.
My Just Giving page is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-s-2-6-challenge-a-2-6m-lucet-braid
If you can’t afford to donate I completely understand. If you’d consider sharing the link for my fundraiser I would really appreciate it.

What is the 2.6 Challenge?
https://www.twopointsixchallenge.co.uk/

Thank you for reading,
Michelle
x

My Just Giving page is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-s-2-6-challenge-a-2-6m-lucet-braid
If you can’t afford to donate I completely understand. If you’d consider sharing the link for my fundraiser I would really appreciate it.

I love lucets

So… I’ve tried lucet braiding/weaving and I’ve found a new hobby!

Lucets are a traditional tool used for creating cords and braids. They were in use during the Viking and Medieval eras and are surprisingly easy to get started with. Unlike traditional weaving you only need two things: a lucet and yarn. Although there are a number of different techniques (some using beads!) there are two basics that can quickly get you started with cord making.

How did I come across the lucet? My green Viking dress (!) from Armstreet arived in February and I was looking for a cord belt to go with it. I found an Etsy shop selling “lucet cord belts” and liked the look of them so added them to my watchlist. Then, when I was putting together my Friday Finds post on Daegrad Tools, I saw they had a listing for a neat little wooden Viking-style lucet. It wasn’t very expensive so I thought I’d buy one. I love learning about traditional crafts and this one was around in the Viking era so I was curious and thought I’d give it a go.

Mine is a more rustic type – there are other styles that are more generally available that are a bit more elegant – however, I quite like the simplicity of it, and it’s compact. Maybe I’ll be like one of those older ladies who takes their knitting out with them – only I’ll be sat at the bus stop with my lucet.

I couldn’t quite take in the instructions that came with the Daegrad lucet – my brain sometimes struggles with written instructions, especially on days when the brain fog is strong. However, YouTube came to the rescue and I found an easier technique to start with. Luckily my mum had some lovely yarn that I could use. Yarn is more forgiving than the jute that came with the lucet, and once you get the technique down you can adjust the tension more easily.

Next I experimented with another yarn, a thinner one I found in an old craft box, and some cross stitch thread. It’s pretty amazing how one lucet can make such different size cords depending on the size of yarn or thread used. There’s a lot of variation to be had from just one technique. Now I’ve got the hang of this one I can try others.

When you get into the swing of things lucet braiding/weaving can yield quick results. The great thing about the basic weaves is that you can easily unravel the cord if you’re not pleased with the results, or if you’re just practicing – so you can reuse the yarn over and over while you perfect your craft.

For now I’ll be sticking with my rustic lucets but maybe after trying out some more decorative braiding techniques I’ll buy a bigger, more elegant one. Who knows? But I’m glad I took the chance to try something new that’s also very old. Lucet braiding is a very mindful practice, and has actually helped to calm my mind. It helps to bring my focus back to a more restful state. I didn’t take to knitting but I’m really taken with the lucet. It combines many things I love: creativity, traditional crafts and history. It also makes me feel more in touch with my Ancestors and Norse roots. It has given me a mindful, creative pursuit, and one I can literally weave my love of beads into as I learn new techniques.

So try new things sometimes. You may just surprise yourself!

———

End note: the lucets I’ve bought so far are both from Daegrad Tools. Although they are the same listing they are different sizes. I bought my first in February and it’s quite small with pointed ends. The one I bought in March is bigger, with thicker prongs that aren’t pointed at the ends. They are handmade, so every one is different, but if you’re thinking of buying one from Daegrad maybe you could message them to ask for a specific size or pointed prongs. Having worked with both I’ve found the smaller pointy-end one great for all sorts of yarns and threads. The larger one works better with thicker yarns and those that are more flexible so they can be pulled easily over the prongs. I did have to sand the larger one down a bit to smooth the rough edges but they’re both nice to work with.


©️ Michelle Thereze, Enchant The Ordinary, April 2019

Free online short courses that might interest my readers.

A number of institutions are now offering free online courses in light of the current situation with the coronavirus. Below are links to some I think my readers may find interesting. Not all of them start straight away but I thought I’d give a heads-up.
Note: I cannot vouch for the content of the courses, I’m just letting people know what I’ve come across.

From Harvard University:

From Future Learn, who are working with a number of different universities – you can pay extra to get permanent access to the course and get a certificate of completion.

 

The Open University – through the OpenLearn portal, meaning there’s no certificate. All courses are available to start now unless stated.

Let me know if you’re going to sign up for any; I will be!