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22 May 2019

Imbolc for Beginners

May 22, 2019 0 Comments

On the 1st and 2nd of February, Wiccans are celebrating Imbolc, which is a sign to Wiccans that spring has sprung.

Imbolc is the time to let go of the past and look forward to the future, and, like Mabon, many Pagans use this as a time to declutter their home of unwanted belongings. The time of Imbolc could be considered the origin of spring cleaning! As well as tidying their homes at this time, many Wiccans like to cleanse inwardly as well. They find unhelpful thoughts and feelings, painful memories that aren’t of use to them, and try their hardest to let them go. This is often a much more difficult task than, say, selling a couple of dresses that no loner fit correctly, but it’s an important one to attempt, if you’d like to. There are so many thoughts rattling around our brain that aren’t even remotely helpful, and at Imbolc we clear out the old to make way for the new. Beginning a practice of meditation and mindfulness would be a fantastic start to this.

Imbolc is a time of new beginnings. The first spring lambs are being born, as are chicks, piglets, and a whole host of other animals that ancient Pagans would have relied on for food and companionship. Snowdrops are often known as one of the first signs of spring even to non-Pagans, and Wiccans connect them with the Goddess Brighid. She is said to represent healing, fertility, the Sun, fire, and the hearth. It is common for Wiccans to make Brighid Crosses out of bendable sticks such as willow, and place them on the hearth of their fireplace for protection for their home. As well is the Brighid Cross, many Wiccans also make a Bridey Doll, and place her in the same place, on the hearth.

At the time of Imbolc, the Goddess takes her Maiden form. Remember that many Wiccans believe she takes the form of Maiden, Mother, and Crone throughout the course of the year. Just as the year is young and full of life, so is the Goddess.

Imbolc is a time that’s full of promise for the future. If you want to celebrate it, you can make yourself a Brighid Cross or Bridey Doll, there are plenty of tutorials out there. You can also plant seeds now and watch them grow over the coming weeks and months, your own manifestation of the life and new beginnings at Imbolc. Over the month of February, why not try to meditate daily, which can be as simple as using the Calm app on your phone? If your mind and home feels cluttered and overwhelming, have a good sort out of your belongings and donate or sell the things that you don’t need.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can get involved with the celebrations at the Sabbat of Imbolc.

Have a lovely day, and blessed be.

19 May 2019

Updated Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette Review

May 19, 2019 0 Comments

Two years ago today as I write this, I posted my First Impressions on the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette. I wanted to do an updated review on it, since I now have a better understanding of what I look for in my makeup, and that initial post no longer reflects my opinions as well!
First up: I wrote in my first post that I felt the chocolate scent wasn't very strong. I don't know if I had a cold that day or if the scent gets stronger with use but I can definitely smell it as soon as I open the lid now, and I love that. It really is a gorgeous, chocolatey scent.

I do still stand by my point as well that the packaging is beautifully designed and the metal tin feel sturdy and luxurious. That said, something to do with the seal of mine has broken, and the tin is very easy to open now. I don't travel with it often and as far as I can remember, I've never dropped it, so I don't know how that's happened. It's possible that the hinge or magnet gives out over time.

I have a little bit of beef with this palette. I find that the majority of the shades aren't very pigmented at all when applied with a brush. In my first post, you can see finger swatches where the shades look perfectly fine, but since I typically don't apply eyeshadow with my fingers, I find it very frustrating that I don't get a good colour payoff when using brushes.

I like the shade 'White Chocolate' - it's very smooth and finely milled, and I use it often to set my eyeshadow primer. The shade 'Salted Caramel' is a nice light brown matte. I find it blendable and buildable and it looks really pretty. Shimmery champagne shade 'Marzipan' is another one I like. It's again very pretty and applies nicely. It goes very well with 'Salted Caramel' as well. And 'Champagne Truffle' makes for a very nice inner corner highlight, or indeed a full face highlight if you use a fan brush.

While I do like the way 'Amaretto', 'Hazelnut', and 'Haute Chocolate' look on the eye, there's no need for all three of them at all. They all look almost identical on the eye. If I chose 'Amaretto', I wanted that reddish-brown, not just generic brown shimmer. And the same goes for 'Hazelnut' which looks like a nice rich brown and 'Haute Chocolate' which looks like a perfect chocolatey brown in the pan. They're interchangable, and that's really disappointing.

The remaining matte shades are 'Milk Chocolate', 'Semi-Sweet', 'Triple Fudge', and 'Cherry Cordial'. Again, I find the pigmentation to be rather poor, and the blendability isn't good. In some places they stick, in some places they blend away to nothing, and in all places they just become muddy and unattractive on the eyelid. 'Cherry Cordial' in particular makes me sad, because the reason I chose the Chocolate Bar palette and not the Semi Sweet is because of that burgundy shade. WHAT BURGUNDY SHADE? It looks rich and red in the pan, and like a muddy brown the second you try to apply it.

'Gilded Ganache', 'Black Forest Truffle', and 'Creme Brulee' look nice in the pans, but not on the eye. In particular, I find that 'Gilded Ganache' and 'Black Forest Truffle' have a gritty texture and the glitter that you see in the pan is nowhere to be found on the eyelid. 'Creme Brulee' isn't guilty of the same.

The final shades I have to talk about are 'Strawberry Bon Bon' and 'Candied Violet', and honestly there's no nice way to say it: in my opinion, these shadows are just bad. 'Strawberry Bon Bon' gives practically no colour payoff whatsoever, and you can kind of see in the photos just how badly it sealed up in the pan. And 'Candied Violet' looks nothing like what is promised in the pan. The pink purple glitter? Gone. The blue base? Just a gross brown. It also sealed up very badly as well.

Honestly, while there are things I love about this palette, such as the scent, the packaging, and the shades I mentioned before, it's honestly disappointed me a lot. It's just so hard to make so many of the shades look good. I shouldn't have to work as hard as I do with this palette.
And that's not all to say that I dislike all Too Faced powder products. The Sweet Peach Glow is beautiful - I use that blusher and highlighter all the time and love it. The Sweet Peach palette is also much better than this one. I just don't feel confident and comfortable in recommending the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette to my readers; in my experience, it has a lot of issues.

15 May 2019

Yule for Beginners

May 15, 2019 0 Comments

If you’ve experienced at least one Christmas in your life, you’ve probably heard the word ‘Yuletide’. But have you ever wondered where that word comes from, and how it came to be linked to Christmas?

On or around the 21st December is the longest night of the year, or the Winter Solstice. And on that day, Wiccans and Pagans are celebrating Yule. In Wicca, the Winter Solstice is regarded as the depth of darkness for the year, and after it, we know that the darkness will start to fade and the light will begin to return to the world. This is an important message to remember always, not just at Yule: even when it feels like the darkness is suffocating you, the light will always return.

Some Pagans would call Yule the Sun’s birthday, as this is when, in Pagan mythology, the Sun God is reborn! Remember that at Samhain He was wandering the world of the dead, and now He is back and stronger than ever.

Many Pagans also believe in twin brothers named the Holly King and the Oak King (some believe in them literally, and others prefer to regard them as a metaphor). The Holly King reigns over the latter half of the year, the darker half, and the Oak King takes over the beginning of the year, as the light returns. This concept could be why holly is so closely connected to Christmas time.

Paganism is closely linked to the earth, so it’s no surprise that at the time of Yule, we like to bring the outside in, and the tradition of bringing evergreen into the home started with ancient Pagans. Mistletoe is regarded as being a healer and protector, and holly is said to ward off unwelcome spirits. Ivy is a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and resurrection, as is the yew tree. And pine is used to bring healing and joy to the home, and it’s often burned to invite purification as well.

For centuries, Pagans have used evergreens to make wreaths, which were either hung up, or laid flat with candles – and that later became the Christian Advent Wreath. Ancient Pagans also started the concept of a beautifully decorated tree, although their trees were decorated with food, and were said to be a warm home for woodland sprites through the cold time of Yule. Which is actually really sweet, and makes me want to cry…

Since this Sabbat is all about the return of light, it should come as no surprise that candles are burning everywhere thanks to Pagans. Typically, we use red, green, and gold ones, as they are the colours of the season!

There are many other Pagan traditions that creep into our modern celebrations today, including the giving and receiving of gifts, the concept of a Yule log (although the traditional one is less chocolatey, more literal log-gy), and many more.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Christians and Pagans historically got on well, and so it’s no surprise that so many traditions overlap so closely. I hope that this post has been informative, and has given you a new perspective on why we do so many of the things that we do at that time of year.

Have a lovely day, and blessed be.

12 May 2019

Samhain for Beginners

May 12, 2019 0 Comments

Samhain is perhaps the most famous of Wiccan Sabbats, and is also celebrated worldwide by non-Pagans as Halloween. It is mentioned more often than you might think in modern media. The 'House of Night' book series places a lot of emphasis on it, 'The Addams Family' has nods to it, and most recently, 'The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' on Netflix had a huge focus on it. Although in Wicca it’s less about signing over your soul to the devil and more about preparing for winter but hey, whatever floats your boat!

The most famous idea surrounding Samhain is that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest at this point. This is a very similar concept to that of the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. At this time, we like to honour our ancestors and deceased loved ones by placing their photographs on our altars, and thinking about and sharing our memories and stories about them. Some people even lay an extra seat at their table to welcome their ancestors home, maybe serving their favourite food as everyone remembers them. All departed loved ones, be they friends, family, pets, or other, are welcome at a Pagan’s table during Samhain.

Samhain is also the final of the three harvest festivals. Lammas was all about grain and bread, Mabon was focussed on fruit and vegetables, and at Samhain we have an abundance of nuts and berries. I think a really lovely idea to celebrate this aspect of Samhain would be to go blackberry picking in hedgerows. Just make sure the hedgerow you go for isn’t on someone’s private property first!

In Wiccan mythology, we believe that the Sun God has now passed away, and is exploring the world of the dead, gaining wisdom and strength before he can be reborn. And at this time, the Goddess, who takes on three forms: Maiden, Mother, and Crone, is now adopting her Crone form as we reach the end of the Pagan year.

Samhain is also known as Pagan New Year, so it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future with hope. By remembering your ancestors, you’re thinking about the past, but for your own personal past, you could make a list of the best times you’ve had this year, and all the things you’ve accomplished. Then you can set yourself some New Year’s Resolutions (in October? How very Pagan of you), and think about what you aspire to accomplish in the future. By doing these simple things, you’re beginning to embrace the spirit of Samhain.

Have a lovely day, and blessed be.