"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce


All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

IVORY TOWER; Winter Revisited



You might remember that this time last year I was in the process of giving my living room a bit of a face lift by creating a winter theme with lots of new soft furnishings.  I wanted it to look like Narnia and Scotland in the snow, so I bought lovely faux fur throws, silver stags etc.  You can read about it here and here if you want to know more about the transformation.  

Since then the wintry theme has spread through my house - I got a stunning large glittery tree picture for my birthday which is in my kitchen, plus I have a set of snowy white owls in there too.  My kitchen is all cream and natural wood, so it has a wintry feel anyway.  I was given a lovely cushion of a reindeer in the snow for Christmas - this is sat on the settle in the hallway, on top of a snowy white faux fur throw, so it has a very Scandinavian 'log cabin' vibe and helps to brighten up a small dark space. 

My staircase is also quite dark and so yesterday I bought some lovely new pictures that are shot through with sliver glitter to bounce the light around more.  The first picture is of a red squirrel eating a nut in the snow and the second is of a snowy winter woodland with two white hart deer in the middle - this one looks like Narnia and has tons of glitter so it shimmers like frost in moonlight.  I've bought a crackle-mirrored vase and filled it with silver light-up twigs and white roses to lift a dark corner. With the huge winter landscape picture and the white voile curtains that have metallic silver thread running through them that I bought last year, the staircase is now light and bright and silver white. 

I am making plans to winterise my bedroom too - I want it to have a glamorous, shimmering winter rose look, so for the past two weekends I have been shopping in the January sales, picking out things that I can use to spruce up my bedroom.  I'm not going to change too much as I am basically happy with how that room looks.  I will be keeping the knights and ladies pictures and all the furniture, but I want all new soft furnishings in lighter colours to brighten the room.  

I tend to buy things when I see them and put them to one side until I have everything I need to complete the transformation, so I recently bought some gorgeous crushed velvet curtains in a rich cream colour.  They have a very glimmering effect and the fabric looks so luxurious and glamorous.  Yesterday I also bought new crystal tie-backs that have an icy finish and some voile blinds with sparkling metallic detail.  I want my bedroom to shimmer and sparkle, like a white rose on a frosty morning.  I also bought a cream faux fur throw and cushions for on the bed, so that will look like a winter sleigh all covered in creamy white fur.  I already have a large picture of a white rose hung above the bed and I am going to get a white rose rug for the centre of the room to pull it all together and really give the space a winter rose look.

It is going to be so lovely and I can't wait to get it all done.  I think I will do it in the next week or so, certainly before the next half term break from college, so that I can enjoy the space, and then my little winter palace will be complete in a vision of silver trees, snowy woodland creatures and romantic white roses! 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

WRITER'S DREAM; Target Practice


As soon as you get published in a significant way, you inadvertently become something of a public figure, which in turn makes you a seemingly easy target. This is especially true if you're writing about witchcraft because the esoteric genre does tend to attract its fair share of nutters!

Lots of people pick up a Mind, Body, Spirit title out of sheer desperation - they are not happy with their lives and they are looking for something to make it better. Fair enough. Many of those people find a new sense of empowerment and personal responsibility within the pages of my books and columns etc, and they go on to lead productive lives. That it the point of Wicca - it is about taking charge of yourself and your own personal happiness, while doing harm to none.  

However, there is always the odd nut-job who will instantly blame the witch if their spells are not effective in the way they want them to be.  This can lead to some rather negative author mail, from demands that you write a spell especially for them, or that you cast the spells on their behalf, or even that they meet you for some kind of private consultation.  I don't advocate meeting with strangers just because they have read your work, unless it is in a safe environment such as a publishing event, book signing and so on.  

I have had my fair share of author mail and reader feedback over the years, not all of it positive.  Now I'm not saying that I want everyone to sing my praises and tell me they love my books, but nor do I want people blaming me for the fact that their life isn't working.  Unfortunately, the latter does happen from time to time and while I do sympathise with someone who is struggling, it is not my responsibility to fix someone else's life.  Your life is your own responsibility, not mine. 

One of the downsides of having been a columnist with the same publication for so many years is that people always know where to find you.  During my time with Spirit&Destiny I have had readers contacting me to ask for magical advice or querying the effective substitution of one spell ingredient for another and this is all positive interaction that I am happy to participate in.  But I have also had negative interactions too, from someone who demanded I hex her husbands lover and interfering family, to emails laced with pornography and death threats. Needless to say, this is unacceptable interaction and I do not respond to such communications.  

It isn't just emails either.  Disgruntled people have actually gone so far as to telephone the magazine (or visit the Bauer office in London!) and start ranting at my editors, deliberately trying to throw a spanner in the works. One particularly nasty woman even accused me of causing her father-in-laws heart attack!  Another spiteful man said that he'd been cursed by me.  I can do without this kind of ridiculous spite and a good editor will always defend her writers, as was the case at S&D.  I think the bottom line is that there are some resentful individuals out there who just want to try and tear other people down. 

Certain individuals think that they can cast an influence over my editors and place a black mark on my life with their childish ranting and raving, but of course, it doesn't work that way and so they either slam down the phone or are helped from the building by security. They are left more disgruntled than ever, while I am left somewhat bemused by the entire episode! 

Casting an influence is much harder than it seems and I am the only one who can cast an influence in my life and career, because that is the very essence of personal responsibility and Wiccan ethics. That is what I have been teaching for 20 years! But some people refuse to learn the lesson.

It is just another reason why I am not sorry to have left the magazine behind.  Having my column with them for so long was making me a sitting duck - I prefer to be a moving target and keep folk guessing, so they never know what I am going to do next.  I have taken the target down. 

Now that my time with Spirit&Destiny is over, I feel I can move forward in a new direction, building up a brand new platform of psychotherapy publishing.  No-one knows who my editors are anymore, so they can't simply pick up the phone with a fabricated accusation whenever they have had a bad day, or can't get their own way.  Nor can they try piggy-backing on my work and dropping my name to my editors, because my editors remain unknown to them.

Casting an influence over anything is an adept magical skill that takes years of practice to perfect. And those who can do it are likely to be well protected from having it done to them!  All I can say is this; I will always protect my assets, including the work I do for various publishers and the good name I have with editors. The spitefulness of others is just not enough to derail my life as a writer, a counsellor or anything else I choose to be.
BB


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; In the Pink


I am a Pink Lady.  Pink has always been my favourite colour and I never get tired of it.  I would die for this type writer! I would sacrifice Spell-Check for it! It's the perfect shade of soft rose pink and it's just so girly. My covet-gene is going at full throttle... I love it, I want it, I neeeeed it!  

I imagine that I would write romance novels on it; the soppy kind read by bored housewives who have become tired of their husbands and fed up of their kids.  Barbara Cartland probably had a typewriter just like this one...and she never wrote a book that didn't sell, so she was doing something right.

Or maybe I would write tender-hearted poetry; or love letters to a foreign spy who stole my heart on a moonlit night in France in the 1940s...oh, who knows where such a typewriter could take me???
It really is pink perfection.

Pink is such a lovely colour; all the best things are pink - sunsets, roses, candy floss, Barbie, cupcakes, unicorn manes...
Pink is the colour of imagination and dreams; it is the shade of tenderness and self-love; of femininity and beauty; of the best of health...
Pink is the colour of my life.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Bridge of Dreams


New Year's Eve is always a nostalgic time as we think back on our lives.  Sometimes the past just needs to be remembered and acknowledged in some way, to honour where you have come from, and also where you are going.

As I was digging out the Christmas trimmings earlier this month a folder of art prints fell into my lap.  These were prints that I had put away several years ago because they didn't really suit my tastes anymore, but they were too nice to throw away.  Among them were a couple of Monet prints, the ones pictured here in this post, which had been given to me as Christmas gifts when I was just 21.

At the time they helped brighten up the tiny flat I lived in, but they were never really me... They remind me of a rather trying phase in my life which is why they were put away in a folder.  At 21 I was working two jobs just to pay basic bills and survive, the flat I lived in was far from ideal and being young and ambitious I lived on the dream that one day I would be a published writer, though the whispers behind my back went something like this...

"Poor Marie, she'll never make anything of herself. She thinks she's going to be a writer...she's a barmaid and a care assistant, not a writer!"  

I'd had a few jobs as I struggled to get published and unfortunately all people could see back then was a young woman who drifted from job to job and they commented accordingly.  After all, no-one can see your dreams except you, so it was a fair assumption to make, that I was going nowhere and not making anything of my life.  All the real work went on behind the scenes, while they were tucked into bed sleeping.  Late at night I was writing and sending out book proposals and so on. Alas I was the only one who took this writing work seriously.  Thinking back on that time I am reminded of a quotation I read online somewhere and which stuck in my mind...

First they laugh. Then they copy.

When the odds seem stacked against you; when you are not sure how you are going cross from your present into your future, you need to trust that you are stepping onto a magical, invisible bridge that will carry you safely to where you want to be.   I don't blame people for thinking I wasn't going anywhere - on the surface of my life back then, that is the way it must have appeared to them but my achievements in publishing since that time speak for themselves - I need no other endorsement. 

Sometimes people just do not have the breadth and depth of mind to comprehend your dream. They are not just being mean.  It is after all, your dream, not theirs...they will only understand it when you have made it your reality and it is staring them in the face on a daily basis.  They need to see proof; then, for one reason or another, they will rally to your cause...but while ever it is just an ambition, you're on your own with it! How they emotionally deal with the success of your dream is also down to them, not you. 

As a new year fast approaches in the next few hours lots of people will be thinking of what they want 2017 to bring them, but I like to wonder what I will bring to 2017?  For it is in our personal efforts and achievements that our life experience becomes positive or negative.  Anyone can sit and moan about their lot in life, complaining that they can never get a leg up or a foot in the door or catch a break etc. Complaint is easy.  Achievement takes effort.  If you simply cannot be bothered with your own life and drift through it in a state of apathy then how can you expect to see great results? 

I have just six months left of my psychotherapy training so 2017 will be the start of a second professional career for me.  To honour the past I have come from, I am going to put the two Monet prints into the clear sleeves on the front of a couple of A4 ring binders, to make pretty covers.  These folders will be used to keep my clinical notes in when I am seeing clients in placement.  In this way, my past is used as a focus for my future...a reminder that once upon a time, people thought I was going nowhere fast and now I have not just one, but two successful and professional career paths. 

Whatever your ambitions are for 2017, don't let the naysayers get you down or keep you from your dream...remember, they can't see your dream, only you can. Next year you may well have realised your 2017 dream too.  

And if you hear some sneering and sniggering  along the way, just remember...First they laugh. Then they copy. 
Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Thinking of You

Katy Perry - Thinking of You

Little Mix - Secret Love Song

Thinking of you at Christmas and always
 Love M x

Thursday, 1 December 2016

WRITER'S DREAM; Switching Genres...Moving On


The end of an era beckons...

The air tonight has the bite of frost in it, so I am curled by the fire with my laptop and a home-made Pumpkin Spice latte (made with Baileys Pumpkin Spice) which is delicious.   December has begun and with it the thrill of anticipation of a new year to come. My birthday was just over a week ago and so this time of year always feels like a fresh start to me as my solar year begins anew.

It is an exciting time and a new future glimmers on the horizon of my life.  Over the course of this year I have been reassessing my writing work, pondering on where I want to take it and I have come to the conclusion that I am actually in the process of switching genres.   This has been happening so gradually I hadn't really noticed, yet now it has come to the point where I need to make the final leap, once and for all and become more of a mainstream self-help and psychotherapy writer.   

There are several reasons for this.  First of all it feels like a natural progression of my work and it is something I have been working towards with my night classes for the past three and a half years. 

Secondly the Mind, Body, Spirit market is not what it was when I first started out in the late 1990's when it was a huge upcoming trend.  It hasn't weathered the financial crash that well; some magazines have folded, others are fast losing readers and struggling to stay afloat, publishing houses have closed down their MBS imprints completely. Budgets are now so tight that there is little room for freelancer fees and the market on the whole has shrunk to the size of a pin head. 

A big part of being a writer is keeping an eye on the market and I noticed this shrinkage beginning some years ago, which is why I started psychotherapy training.  It was obvious that the MBS genre was starting to sink - bookshops no longer house the large MBS sections that they used to have on display and while I am sure the genre will recover in time, I couldn't sit back and wait for that to happen.  I needed to branch out and I have successfully published my first psychotherapy pieces this year. 

It is impossible to move forward into your future if you are clinging on to the past.  Part of reinventing yourself is letting go of what no longer serves you best.  For me this means letting go of my regular witchcraft column with Spirit&Destiny magazine, and while I might still write magical features on a freelance basis for other magazines, on the whole I feel that my work on Wicca has come to an end.  I have been writing about witchcraft for 20 years!  I have published books, features, columns, home-study courses and music, all on a witchcraft theme.  I have been Spirit&Destiny's highest paid keystone columnist for well over 8 years so I've had a great run with them, and with witchcraft as my topic...I am rather bored of it now though.

Also it is impossible to maintain ones Unique Selling Point as a columnist when another writer is blatantly emulating one's entire format, within the pages of the same publication!  It has been irritating, saps away enthusiasm and I have thought of leaving the magazine a couple of times in recent years, but then part of being a trend-setting best-selling author is that other writers will try to follow in your footsteps.  Still I am moving onto a new topic of expertise and a new genre now, so it hardly matters, because anyone wanting to follow in my psychotherapy writing footsteps will have to pay for and sign up to four years of training first, which is bound to be slightly off-putting! 

Even a dream job has its downside and mostly I feel a sense of relief at leaving the column behind...No more full day photo-shoots to endure. No more urgent text required, for no fee, to help fill out a staffers feature.  No more editor requests for my original ideas only to see those ideas written up by a staffer, leaving me a great idea down and not a penny up in payment!  It's like that scene in Devil Wears Prada when Andy throws her phone into the fountain then breaths a sigh of relief to be free of it all - that's a bit how I feel too. 

I feel ready to nurture my new psychotherapy and self-help topics and to keep publishing those instead, rather than witchcraft items.  And although the team at S&D are not a fan of this change, my editors at Time Inc are supportive of this fresh topic so I will still be writing nonetheless and you can still read my work in your favourite magazines, with the exception of Spirit&Destiny - I finish with them in February 2017. 

In addition I have the remainder of my final year of psychotherapy training to complete too, with essays to write over Christmas (and beyond!), so I will be busy with that.  Once that course is completed next summer I am hoping to go on to do a Masters Degree in a year or so, in order to further my writing prospects.  

You cannot become a butterfly without first going into the dark chrysalis, so while it might seem as if I am not doing much, I am actually working hard and pushing my writing career up to the next level.  This is going to take time, so the blog might take a back seat for a while, but I will do my best to keep posting on progress!  I know those readers who have followed my work for years are likely to stay with me through into a new genre and a new era, even if there are bumps in the road to come...for those who only want to read about witchcraft, I have left a large back catalogue of work for you to enjoy.  

I will always be pagan, magic will always fill my life and will no doubt find its way into my blog posts and tweets, but I feel that my stint as a popular Media Witch, a Wiccan Icon as I was once dubbed,  has come to a welcome end.  A new era of writing beckons...I hope my readers are as excited by this as I am.
Blessed be. 








Sunday, 20 November 2016

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Angel Luck and Blessings

http://www.bellakotak.com 
I have been pondering on luck a lot just recently and wondering what makes one person seemingly blessed with good luck and another seemingly cursed with bad luck?  I do believe that a lot of it is down to attitude, but the fact remains that bad things do happen to good people.  Take the recent tram crash in London - all those people were doing is heading off to work as usual when bad luck struck them down.  It is unfair and tragic and it makes us question the fragile fabric of life.  

For me luck is largely a matter of what you focus on the most. In the realm of magic, like attracts like, so if you concentrate on how unlucky you are then you are effectively magnetising misfortune your way.  Changing your thinking to a more positive mindset isn't always easy, because to begin with, you will still be dealing with the misfortune you have already attracted. It is hard to be optimistic in the face of ill-fortune and unlucky events but that is exactly how you turn things around.

I have always believed that I am protected and guided by a higher force; if something bad happens then it is designed to teach me something, or make me even stronger and more resilient.  I try to trust that my path will be smoothed out for me and that, so long as I put the effort in and work hard to reach my goals, I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.  This kind of methodical achievement is often referred to as luck and I do feel very fortunate to have ticked off so many life goals. 

But that doesn't mean that I don't have bad days, or that I have never felt let down - I do and I have.  Sometimes I wonder if my luck might run out, but deep down I believe that luck and blessings are not a finite resource.  There is always plenty to go around for all of us to share and enjoy. 

A lot of it is about recognising an opportunity and I must admit that in recent years, I haven't always been great at this.  People who have been betrayed in the past sometimes look for trickery where there is only opportunity and I have certainly been guilty of this myself!  I am trying to be more watchful for opportunities as they come about, so that I can grab them with both hands.

Sometimes it is our fears that get in the way of good luck.  A lucky chance might present itself to you, only to be turned away because it has triggered fear or anxiety.  How many young starlets have run away from opportunity when stage fright struck?  The idea of success can be just as fear inducing as the idea of failure, and both fears can block out the lucky breaks.  

I tend to keep the good fortune flowing into my life with a few witchy tricks.  When I feel weighed down, I do a bit of decluttering and have a clear out. When I feel misfortune is sweeping in I do a cleansing ritual in my home to banish negativity.  When it is my attitude that is becoming negative I re-read my favourite self-help books to boost my positivity.  I try to focus on all the good things in my life right now by writing out a gratitude list of five things each day.  Once I have made the changes I need to make personally and at home, then I cast my focus to the wider world.

I like to cast a quick lucky angel spell by lighting a tealight and saying a few words of blessing.  I do this daily. This activates the threefold law, which states what you send out you get back times three, so it is a great way to draw good fortune your way, at the same time as putting some much needed love and light out into the universe for those who need it most. Let the angels take your blessing where they will.  Then keep your eyes peeled for the threefold return to bring lucky blessings your way. 

Magic doesn't have to be complex to be effective.  Blessed be!