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Witching With Kids - Imbolc

Happy New Calendar Year from the Bell Witch mad house!


Don’t you think the Christmas tree box looks a bit like a coffin when it is mummified with years of cellotape, and shoved back in the attic? Like ‘death to Christmas!’ Kinda morbid, but I like it! I don’t know about you, but I am very happy to resume the normal rhythm of life now it's 2024. It gets a bit confusing and ‘toy heavy’ towards the end of December, especially with kids! This Christmas holiday was strange. In Leeds the children did not finish until the 22nd of December. It was too close, and I felt thrown in at the deep end suddenly. We didn’t have time to ease into the festivities with trips to see Santa or craft sessions at the Museum, and I couldn’t face going into the city on the last weekend before the big day. This is the first time I haven’t booked festive activities for my two, and for a fleeting time I felt guilty. Then I had a word with myself, and realised it’s a good thing really. Boo to capitalism rituals and money-making schemes! 

I am lucky enough to be blessed with a Yule time baby. Flossy’s birthday is on the 21st. It was the first time she was at school on her actual birthday, much to her dad’s disappointment. (He had booked the day off work thinking we would be home together, oops!) As Floss’s birthday is so close to Christmas the party tends to be held the weekend before. In the past we have had full on bounce parks and wall climbing, where a load of kids dangle like a spider off a web, or run around a squishy landscape hyped up on sugar, but I had a feeling this party would be different. Since she turned 7, Floss has really grown in spirit and understanding of the world around her. She has become more interested in nature. She has a very calm energy and aura, and animals and babies alike are drawn to her because of this. Over the last year a new love of horses has been steadily growing for her. It's more than ‘My Little Pony’ and ‘Spirit’ toy horses. She wants to be near them, to be in their presence and to watch them. It is lovely to observe. 

What I find most amazing is that as I have connected to my Reiki Guide who happens to be a horse, my little witchling has a new appreciation for them too.  It's uncanny. I hadn't given horses much thought until May 2023, when I did a meditation in The Wiccan Lady’s Witch School to identify our spirit guides. I was expecting a fierce tiger, a black Jaguar or a deadly snake. Something with a bit of bite. I was stunned and rather confused when I found out that it is a white speckled, lean and regal looking horse. So calm, I wasn’t expecting that! Shortly after this I stayed at a camping retreat in the beautiful landscape of Settle, and there was a horse that stood looking over at us from the hillside. It was such a calm silhouette; the horse stood for some time like a statue in the sunset. From this moment on, when I meditate or practise Reiki, my horse is galloping around my mind's field, sending me messages and helping me to connect.

The horse is steeped in tradition and symbolizes freedom, power, confidence, and grace. Traditionally the horse embodies a positive omen. As a spirit guide it represents the delicate equilibrium between independence and duty, epitomising self-actualisation and bravery in its powerful and reliable companionship. Horses are loyal and dependable but have a masculine energy that is strong and determined. The horse as a symbol has a powerful energy that will help to overcome hurdles and drive one forward in life. Very positive.

Over summer, while we were meeting ‘Luna the Unicorn’ (a glamorous horse with a pink dyed mane, glittered hooves and flowers in her tail). I was informed by another parent about this amazing place called Hope Pastures near Adel on the Leeds ring road. They are a charity that rescues horses and donkeys. Hope Pastures is a mostly volunteer run charity that shelters unwanted, or unruly, horses and helps them to become healthy and happy again. Some get rehomed, and some horses retire there. The parent then shared a golden nugget of information; “they offer an affordable party package for 6 children over the age of 7”. It was perfect! I quickly got that booked. 

The event was beautiful, a calm group of children visiting the farm and being given a talk on horsey facts. Did you know that donkeys make friends for life and get sad if they are split up? So much so that if one donkey gets ill and needs a trip to the donkey hospital, his or her mate goes with them! The stress of moving two of them together is worth their wellbeing. (I think that’s just so sweet). There was craft in the café and cake, but the real jewel was the time the children got to spend with the horses, brushing them and plaiting their manes. Castle and Rose are two big white horses that were reserved for this activity at parties. They used to pull wedding carts in their ‘hey days’ (hay?! Ha!), and were used to being close to humans. It was so magical, to be standing there with them, watching the children pet them and plait their manes. A calmness came over the party and I saw the healing properties of being close to animals, gently touching their white hair and feeling the connection. I cannot really put it into words, but I am sure you know what I mean. There is a healing in connecting with an animal, or a pet, with love and respect, and to observe young people experiencing this magic was incredible. (Like the big kid I am, I grabbed a brush and took part too. Couldn’t resist!) 

It’s been a few weeks now and Flossy mentions visiting the horses regularly. The party package also included a gift for the birthday girl, a 1 year adoption of a horse of their choice. Floss chose a toffee brown horse with a poorly heart called Burnie, who had a sad start to life. Left in a muddy field to fend for himself for a long time, he is learning to trust humans again. Flossy really connected with him.  We plan to visit him every month or so. I think it will develop into an important part of her life.

I highly recommend Hope Pastures as a place to visit and experience a little bit of horsey magic. It is free to go and walk around, there is a wonderful little visitor centre and they are passionate about the horsey residents welfare. (Donations welcome)

Blessed Imbolc 

Swailes X

Listen to Swailes and guests on her biweekly show- The Bell Witch Podcast

Available on all major podcast streaming sites. 


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