Changes Sneak In . . .

. . . like that stray cat you swear you won’t feed because you have three cats and two months later you have a fourth cat.

I found this picture while googling pagan altars:

Eclectic pagan/Wiccan altar featuring fairies, Madonnas, angels, and Hindu deities.

I love the aesthetic here: the colors, the figures, the crystrals, the shells. I’m a little confused by the combination of Hinduism and Christianity, but this is a very personal altar, so whatever suits the person who created it. At first I didn’t like it because there was, to my eye, too much of a mishmash of different traditions. I even complained about it some. But I kept returning to the picture, trying to understand why it’s so appealing.

My altar/shrine is neat, conforms to Irish, British, and Welsh pantheon, and is a bit cold. I rearrange it a few times a year but still have a cold, unsettled feeling. A former friend told me that I shouldn’t buy any type of altar figure based on a specific deity, that they should all be faceless, nameless. That didn’t appeal to me. I was drawn to two goddesses and now two more have come into my life. I have images of each, as statues or as prints. And over the last 30 years, I’ve accumulated Madonnas, angels, fairies, and even some Willow Creek figures (there are two on the altar above.)

I think my continued state of being blocked and accomplishing nothing with my spells and my fascination with the altar above is a message. “You wanted a Nice, Impressive, Proper shrine. It’s okay to rearrange that. It’s okay to play. It’s okay to do what you need to do to get yourself un-blocked.” I’m stuck in the house most of the time due to health and neighbors. I’m probably repeating that from another post. OCD is one of my health problems. OCD demands perfection from me in this, the most important aspect of my life. Formality. Other witches tell me that I must have this, this, and this.

I think it’s time for me to play a bit, and if I’m not too self-conscious, I’ll write another post with before and after pictures.


When a Deity Calls to You

A few years ago, a witch told me that I shouldn’t use images of specific deities on my altar. This was when I was leaving Christianity for the last time. I’ve been studying witchcraft, mythology, and folklore since I was a young teen. Back then, my mom was definitely NOT cool with me having an altar, so I created “stealth altars” using Dollar Tree Virgin Mary figurines, Christmas angels, objects that corresponded to the four elements (I remember a ceramic swan that I wish I still had) and anything else that completed my altar. One birthday, my aunt gave me an incense burner and brass bell that I still have and a windchime made up of hundreds of tiny brass-tone bells that disappeared over the last three decades. It was odd, the selection of gifts, because my aunt was ostensibly a Christian. At the same time, it was like she knew.

Life happened and I moved back in with my mom at age 37. She’s now interested in my path. I had been through a long and agonizing time of searching for my path. I got angry at the Goddess (I did go the nonspecific Lady figure route because I had no choice and because I didn’t know much about pantheons beyond the Greek and Roman, although I was always fascinated by the Fair Folk) and went looking for something else. I found Buddhism and became attached to Kwan Yin. I still have two beautiful Kwan Yins and a gorgeous jade Mala. At the end of my marriage, I was so afraid that I reverted to the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene. I started wearing a Miraculous Medal or a Magdalene Medal. I got away and thanked the two Marys.

In 2015, I had been friends with the witch who told me not to buy anything portraying a specific deity for a few years. That wasn’t me. I have to admit that my first three years of school in Catholic school left me with a love for images of beautiful Marys and saints. But I also had started delving deep into Welsh and Irish pantheons. I was drawn to Rhiannon probably because of the song but after reading about Her, I saw correlations in our stories, and elements of Her that I wanted to develop in my life.

I was also powerfully drawn to The Morrigan. As with Rhiannon, I bought books about Her so that I could cut through the misconceptions and understand why She might summon me. I had never seen a crow or raven before I met The Morrigan. Now I see and hear them almost every day. Am I possibly just paying attention now? Certainly, that’s possible. Or maybe they were always there and I didn’t know to look for them.

Last year, 2018, I bought a book titled Naming the Goddess and found the name Nemetona. It was as if something was tickling the edges of my mind, that I knew this name. Coventina. Sulis. But this Goddess, Nemetona, was associated with trees and groves and sacred spaces and as I said in my last post, I believe She was the Goddess I encountered as a child at Catholic school. I bought a book just about Her. The more I read, the more I felt that She and I were meant to connect again. I even found a tree Goddess doll for myself for Christmas that year.

Treesa Thornwillow

I feel Nemetona pulling at me powerfully right now. It feels like Rhiannon and The Morrigan are standing back quietly and allowing me to re-meet this Goddess, and this time to understand Her. I understand about sacred space now, that my home, my bedroom are sacred space, that my space has been violated over and over for the last 15 years. Maybe She has come back to help me heal. Maybe She has much to teach the little girl from the convent garden. I pray it is both.

This is my grown-up Nemetona, but I thank Her for also coming to me in a form that a child could love.

Earth Elemental by Sheila Wolk


I know that Nemetona wants me to come out to Her. I just don’t know where because things have changed so much. It’s not the same staring at a bedroom altar. I have a sacred space on my property, but it’s not private. No kind nuns will come looking for me if I’m not at my desk. Maybe those nuns were more priestesses than they knew. Maybe their motherly and tolerant treatment of a shy and troubled child was a form of initiation. I have no doubt that at least some of them hoped I would stay at the school and take the vows. I might have, if my father hadn’t moved me to public school.

I have only gratitude for those holy women who only once chastised me, when I pulled a fistful of rubber animals out of my pocket during mass.

I have a vision of Nemetona in my mind. I also have a detailed picture of The Morrigan that came to me in a dream. Maybe art is the way to connect. Maybe a few swipes of green and brown or a detailed drawing of a woman in bloody clothes on a battlefield, wielding a spear, is the way to reach them.