"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.

Monday, 30 May 2016

WRITER'S DREAM; Spinning Straw into Gold

Once upon a time...
When I was initially published, some past acquaintances used to say that I had 'the Midas touch' - meaning that although everything I touched seemed to turn to gold, there were no long term prospects in it and it would all come to no good end eventually - like a flash in the pan.

Of course, I didn't and still don't have the Midas touch and I have had plenty of false starts and disappointments along the way to publication, but once I was offered an initial contract with a publishing house things did start to happen very quickly for me and I was kept very busy with one project or another. 

To those on the outside it probably looked a lot like the Midas touch, as one book led to another, to another...then the magazines came calling; then a pagan recording label; then I was offered a column...and so it goes on.  Was there magic afoot? Absolutely and I have made no secret of the fact that I tend to Cast for book contracts and publishing opportunities to come my way. 

I also happened to be in the right place at the right time, in that I was offering Wiccan proposals right when the witch-craze of the Mind, Body and Spirit genre was starting to take off, so I was fortunate enough to get to drive one of its brand new band-wagons.  Of course by the time the aspiring writer realizes that there is such a publishing band-wagon and tries desperately to scramble aboard, it is always too late - the band-wagon already has a driver and the publishing industry is busy building the next wagon and a whole new trend!  This is why it pays for an author to have more than one publisher and several outlets for their work.

Personally I think that being is writer is more like Rumpelstiltskin than King Midas, in that writers are effectively spinning straw into gold.  We take something as mundane as a moment in time when the spark of an idea flashes through the mind, as flimsy as a piece of straw...and then we spin it out into a theme, a concept, a synopsis.  We keep spinning and spinning, everyday, hour after hour, until the straw turns into the gold of poetry, song lyrics, a book, a column or whatever the author can dream into being.

Spin well enough and eventually the gold starts to come back in the form of publishing advances, freelance fees and royalties - that is when the straw really does turn into gold!  It's the kind of gold you can live off too, for this is no fairytale and bills must be paid.

Spinning words is like an act of alchemy - you can take anything that has had an effect on you, good or bad, and spin it into your work as an author.  This means that if you have a fantastic date, or a ticking off from the boss, a romantic let-down, a spat with a frenemy, an tender encounter...you can use the event as the fuel of inspiration and spin it into the gold of your writing. In this sense, every moment is precious straw for your imagination to rework in the spinning and inspiration is all around you, every single day. It's all raw material. Just add talent. 

Eventually what you spin will come back as the gold of money which effectively means that the row you had with your friend or neighbour last week could well pay for your next holiday!  
Not a bad job, is it? 
Happy Spinning...

Friday, 27 May 2016

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Counting Blessings

It is a lovely springtime evening and as I settle down to write this blog post I am counting my blessings. Next week is half term and I am in the final few weeks of the penultimate year of my psychotherapy diploma, which finishes at the end of June.  Come September I will have begun the very final year of my training and by this time next year I should hopefully be making preparations to take on a new role as a qualified psychotherapy counsellor.

It's an exciting prospect and sometimes it still feels very surreal. Just three years ago I had only just thought about doing an academic night class - and now here I am, in the last stretch of this semester and looking towards my final year of training.  I am also looking forward to the end of studying for a time - it is possible that I will resume further training a year or so after qualification, but I do feel that I need to take some time out for myself before I embark on further study. By then I will have been studying for four years, so I will have earned the break.

It is a strange thing, reinventing yourself...it can be fun and exciting, but there are also moments of doubt and wondering if what you have embarked upon is really going to be worth it in the end.  I have had quite a few of these doubts over the last three years and it hasn't always been easy to trust that the universe has my back covered.  But its the little things that tend to prove we are on the right path and there have been many instances of serendipity that have helped to smooth out the path before me.

As an example; by the next academic year, the course I am currently studying will no longer be offered as a night class in my home town.  It will be amalgamated with higher levels and offered as a part time 3 days a week study course.  When I started at level 1, the level 4 I'm now on wasn't offered locally at all and I was faced with having to take a train out to Leeds or Manchester to complete the diploma. Level 4 was only offered as a local night class from last September, right when I was ready for it, having passed my level 3 last summer - which means that I have been very, very lucky...I have fallen through a window of opportunity which has only been open for a very brief time; just long enough for me to enroll and qualify, in fact.  I feel extremely grateful for this twist of fate, which has certainly been in my favour.  That's serendipity for you.

In addition, as part of our course we have to undertake so many hours of personal counselling, which is expensive and costs hundreds of pounds. But almost as soon as I had arranged my first private counselling session, I received a commission to write a new feature from an editor who had put a freeze on all commissions for the past two years.  Yet suddenly she was back in a position to offer me writing work, which helps to pay for the extra training expenses. Serendipity again.  Take the leap of faith and trust the universe to provide.

Other things have also made me think that I was meant to do this course.  The lovely counsellor I am seeing is a subscriber to Spirit&Destiny magazine and she is familiar with my column and books etc, though we didn't know that when I first booked a session.  The building where she has based her practice is now the local village business center, but it used to be my step-dad's pub and my mum's old kitchen is now the therapy room!  Its uncanny!
It's a building where I have lots of history and a place in which I feel completely at home.  Even better, I have recently been offered rental space there should I choose to set up my own private psychotherapy practice once I'm qualified! Again, its a fortunate twist of fate and serendipity at work...opening the door and giving me a glimpse into my future as a private psychotherapist with my very own practice. 

In my final year I have to go out on placement for one half day a week and I had been told how difficult it is to find one, but the very first organisation I contacted has said I can start with them as soon as I feel ready.  So I could well be on placement with SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) come September, helping soldiers  and working with the Military as I planned.  I am also looking for a second placement in a more general setting and I have no doubt that I will find something local and suitable, without too many problems.

Oh, and the new feature commissions that have recently been rolling in - they are of a self-help psychotherapy nature in content, so my training is feeding my writing, which in turn feeds my training expenses, just as I hoped it would back in 2013 when I started Level 1. The seeds I planted back then are starting to bear fruit and I am enjoying the abundance.

It is all being presented to me on a silver platter... like magic.  All I have to do, is show up and be ready to receive with an attitude of gratitude. The Serendipity Fairy is casting her wand over my life and I could not be happier with how things are going right now.   My writing career is enhanced by my new academic knowledge and is funding the psychotherapy training; my editors are loving this new string to my writer's bow and I am enjoy the challenge of writing something totally different, fresh and exciting.  It has been a series of magical moments; of becoming more aware of those convenient coincidences and being grateful for them. 

I hope this post has helped you to become more aware of serendipity at work in your own life...because giving thanks for magical moments of fate as you go about your day will in turn give you more blessings to count each night.  Whatever career path you are on, or wish to be on, have faith and trust that it will work out for you... Blessed be. 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Enchanted Moments

I have been teaching witchcraft for over twenty years, first in my home study courses, then via my books and magazine columns, yet sometimes, I forget to honour the magic in my day to day life. Sometimes I need a little jolt, a little something to remind me that magic is all around me, all the time.  I can choose to pay attention and tap into it, or I can choose to let it pass me by.

Earlier this week I was coming home from a doctors appointment when a black cat walked across the road in front of me.  I saw it in plenty of time and smiled because it looked so much like a younger version of my own cat Pyewackett.  While some people dislike black cats and consider them to be a bad omen, I have always thought of them as lucky which is why I made a mental note of it. This good fortune played out later that same day, when a car narrowly missed me as it came too fast around a blind bend.  No-one was hurt. I had been lucky...thanks to the blessing of a little black cat crossing my path earlier that morning. 

It made me think about the everyday magical moments that we sometimes ignore and become blind to.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in stress and to-do lists that we fail to notice a stroke of luck, a guiding light, a chance at love...and the more we ignore those moments of enchantment the more we cut ourselves off from the magical realms, and good fortune, lucky breaks, red letter days, true love and so on, simply pass on by.  

It's like when you call a friend but she is always too busy to talk - eventually you get fed up and just stop calling.  It's the same with magic.  You have to notice it and acknowledge it when it shows up in your life.  These universal gifts of enchantment don't come with bells and whistles attached - they might look like ordinary random events - but if you see the enchantment within the moment, life becomes more magical.  And in the world of magic, like attracts like, so you draw more magical moments towards you, just by being willing to believe in something as ordinary as a lucky black cat.

Magic will also tailor itself to your personality; by this I mean that your magical cue will be different to mine.   I spark when I like someone - literally! - there is a blue spark of static electricity when I make psychical contact with someone I like.  This is one of my cues that magic is afoot, that this is no ordinary friendship, but one that is destined to teach me something.  

The spark can be a bit of a shock to new acquaintances, but it is also surprising how quickly they get used to it and how readily they accept it as part of my personality.  They accept that I bring a touch of magic with me.   I accept that they have been sent into my life for a reason.  They might be lifelong friends, or just passing through for a short time, but if I spark with someone, I know that it is an important relationship; though not always a positive one. 

My spark can also be lost, due to illness, bereavement etc; again this is a magical cue - that I need to take better care of myself and conserve my magical energy, keeping it contained within me.  That means no casting until I'm better and back on my feet.  If the spark shows up in an inappropriate setting, say when I shake hands with a married man, then I take it as a warning and beat a hasty retreat - I don't need to waste my time falling for someone who is not single. I listen to the message of the magical moment and act on it.

Belief is probably the most important aspect of magical living.  If you don't believe that there is magic in the ordinary and the mundane, then you will never see it for yourself.  If you are afraid when someone sparks to be near you, then you might choose an ordinary relationship instead of an enchanted one.  Taking a leap of faith is never easy - but then nothing worth doing ever is.

I plan to start looking for more magical enchanted moments in my day to day life...I'm going to welcome Opportunity and invite Serendipity to join us...I'm going to try saying "Yes!" to the Spirit of Adventure that resides within me and which I've put on hold for long enough...because life can be a Fairytale...you just have to believe in the power of magic.

Let's all choose to live happily ever after shall we? 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Ballet School - The Ghost of a Dream

Ballet School - The Ghost of a Dream

First light filters into the empty studio. Sunlight flickers on the mirrors, reflecting only a state of abandonment.  The barre stands alone, deserted, with none to need its support.

Tutus hang forlorn in a row of tulle - a rainbow of pastel shades, illustrating the washed-out water-colour dreams of youth.  Pointe shoes and leotards are packed away, like the forgotten dolls of childhood.

The satin slippers, made to conceal broken feet that dance on heavenly clouds but hurt like hell, are discarded in a tangle of pink ribbon. 

No Swan Queen dances here; no Snowflake fairy spins in a vision of winter. The studio itself sleeps like Beauty, waiting for a new Aurora to arrive, as the last cry of a Dying Swan fades away to nothing.

All is silent as dust motes spin in the golden haze, like the lost ballerinas of yesteryear.  The air is thick with dreams ripped apart like the seams of an old tutu.  Ambition denied.  Opportunities lost and forsaken. 

The echoes of music have long since been silenced; the ghostly tapping of pointe shoes heard only in dark dreams of relinquished aspiration, as girls become women and hope is left behind.

A lifetime of practice; rehearsal; of dancing in the spotlight, swept away in dust and ashes.  The bouquets have wilted along with  wistful plans for a glittering future.  

Only the ordinary world awaits, with a mundane future up ahead.
There are some things that money cannot buy.

And yet in the coming days, other feet will slip into satin ballet slippers; other hands will arrange the layers of tulle to lie prettily on the hips; other eyes will gaze proudly in the mirror at the graceful turn of a ballerina's head.

The music plays, the counting starts and with rhythm and grace the very first step is taken...
...And so the ballerina dream begins again,

While the shadowy ghosts that danced before, sigh in the silence
of eternity. 

By Marie Bruce