Category Archives: Newsletters

Being a Hedgewitch

I wonder if it is easier to know who you are not rather than who you are? And who defines that anyway?

Years ago (perhaps 2013) I was in Ireland at a women’s conference, planning to present a psychodrama workshop on “Being Your Authentic Self.” I poked my head out of the door of my room (despite appearances, I tend to be quite introverted in large groups where “meeting and greeting” and small talk seems to be a requirement)- just as the woman in the room next door was poking her head out…I recognised her from the program and we chatted (briefly). One of the things she defined herself as was a “Hedgewitch” (or is it Hedge Witch?). I remember being curious and asking her about it (what is a Hedgewitch anyway?). I actually don’t remember her answer. I do remember that she oozed an “I’m special” vibe and a “mind your own business” vibe.

As it evolved, my workshop was poorly attended and I discovered once more that the word “Psychodrama” generates terror in many peoples’ hearts…And combined with authenticity, it was fatal. People said they were curious but didn’t come because they feared it would be too confronting…(What the hell is wrong with confronting? I have a personal love of it!)

Perhaps I am a Hedgewitch.

I have spent all of my professional life having to explain who I was and what I do (“Oh, what’s an Occupational Therapist? What’s Psychodrama? What’s that symbol you wear?”).

I have often found myself in the in-between places. Not quite a corporate woman, despite working long hours in management in a patriarchal corporation; not quite a business consultant, despite spending a good 20 years as one; not quite a good mother (by patriarchal definitions); not quite a good partner (patriarchal again); not quite new age or alternative. I love science, maths and structure… and I love trees, the spirit of place, sacred ancient landscapes and symbols, various Goddesses, ritual, the women’s mysteries and herbs.

I don’t know if there is a technical definition of Hedgewitch. She who lives on the edge of the village or town.

She who loves her own company, quality relationships and does not tolerate fools. She who understands structure and patriarchy and can work with this and the best that it brings without being seduced into patriarchal conformity. She who loves the earth and sentient beings and inhabits the wild borderlands. She who lives and celebrates the ways of women’s wisdom and healing but can also accept and use the best that western medicine has to offer.

Perhaps it is the Hedgewitches of this world who will form the bridge, or even the truly authentic and equal marriage of the best of patriarchy and the best of matriarchy (aka Cyclical Wisdom).

It’s a fear-some word that includes the word witch. Sharon Blackie in her book “Hagitude” talks of the “Witch Wound” having come about as a result of the witch burnings, and giving us a deep fear of being too different, or labelled as weird, a fringe dweller, an outcast (for these were the ones who were burned). Too confronting. Not chosen.

I think I am a Hedgewitch

Does any of this resonate with you?

Keep the Channel Open

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. 

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.

Keep the channel open.”


Martha Graham to Agnes DeMillein ‘Dance to the Piper’

During Women’s Wisdom Circle 2 days ago, as a part of setting intentions, I affirmed the many threads of me and my life that create my unique way of being, unique way of bringing my work to the world.

What are the many threads and learnings of your life that you weave together to create your unique self?

As a Maga woman (or a Queen/Creatrix/Autumn Woman or whatever you wish to call that phase between Mother and Crone) I experience the solidness of gathering these threads and affirming to myself “This is me…There is no other exactly like me”.

My uniqueness includes my role as mother to 3 daughters, grandmother to 6 small people, partner, occupational therapist, psychodramatist, counsellor, group therapist, shamanic craftswoman, teacher, knitter/crafter and Irish pagan…and other roles. What are your roles that woven together make up your uniqueness?

Frida Kahlo

I went to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Sydney Festival with my daughters last week. We all love Frida and she is a role model for weaving your threads together to become your unique self.

There is also a shadow side to this uniqueness which seems to be a theme seasonally at Summer time – the time of the Mother.


Because ‘Mother’ as a life phase is so oriented to relationships, the wounding of “Where do I belong? Who do I belong with?” can come up fiercely. Alone-ness, lonely-ness. A child’s unexpressed question translated to the woman – “Who will love me in my unique-ness?” And, unresolved, the wound might be carried through to the Maga years.

I guess that Frida belonged with Diego Rivera – I haven’t yet resolved that puzzle!

I have a stronger sense of Belonging now than ever before. I used to focus on where I didn’t belong, where I didn’t fit. Even when I was younger, I used to think, “How can I make myself fit,” as I suffered the contortions of making myself the shape and texture of what society and those around me thought I “should” be.

And now, I belong with my beloved partner, my family and my work – all of which are unique and treasured. I belong to land and times, some of which I don’t see clearly. And to my friends, of which I don’t have many – well I have lots, but the friends who have been a thread coming in and out of my life and theirs – they are my Belonging ones.

And especially with these 3 women. My children – the children of the Mother phase of my life. Jaime turns 40 this week, so I have been a Mother now (Earth-side) for 40 years. Wow! So much gratitude, and reflection, and a few regrets. We are unique. Let’s celebrate xxx

A year ahead of dreams come true

I find myself with little to say right now. In my cave. Which I quite like. 
Struggling with technology as I commence using a HICAPS machine. What that means is: if you see me for counselling, you will need to pay for the session in full at the time of consult by Eftpos (or you can pay the gap in cash at the time)…….. AND I can process your medicare rebate on the spot. This is one of my chief “making my life simpler” strategies as it will cut down significantly on admin time. Well- at least it will when I get used to the technology of it.
Unfortunately it will also mean a small increase in session fees at some point (maybe February) to cover the cost of the technology (and bank fees).

And I have begun in earnest to plan and write my book on Shadow Cycles – Cyclical Wisdom for Mental Health. This will weave together the threads of my learnings and experience- Western medicine, Shamanic Womancraft, Psychodrama, Goddess work and the rituals of the seasons and a broad range of counselling modalities. 
Who knows.. it may even morph into my own particular sort of counselling and groupwork training………. time will tell!
In the meantime from my cave……… I wish you all a year to come of dreams-come-true; whatever those dreams may be.

Simple tasks

Today my Mum and Dad decided to go to the shops and Bingo. This may not sound like a revolutionary action – but last week they had covid. They are in their 80s, and had managed to avoid it until now. So I was immensely relieved to hear about the shopping/bingo adventure.

And this week, in an unrelated germ invasion, I managed to get it. This was my 2nd go round with the virus. In some things I am a slow learner. When I need rest but keep going, my body ends up enforcing rest. So rest is what I am doing (mostly).

The sun has been around for a good few days now…and the winds. The garden is wild and the house much happier now that there has been so little rain (how can I tell if my house is happy? Listen….) We do love rain, but sometimes enough is enough! 

It is still cold here in the Mountains and the fire needs to be lit most days. I have developed a dislike for curtains and am trying to leave windows bare so as to invite the outside in….Here is my office window in the morning light. Wild indeed.

For the rebels and the Misfits August 2022 Newsletter

“For the rebels and the misfits, the black sheep and the outsiders.
For the refugees, the orphans, the scapegoats, and the weirdos.
For the uprooted, the abandoned, the shunned and invisible ones.

May you recognize with increasing vividness that you know what you know.
May you give up your allegiances to self-doubt, meekness, and hesitation.
May you be willing to be unlikeable, and in the process be utterly loved.
May you be impervious to the wrongful projections of others, and may you deliver your disagreements with precision and grace.
May you see, with the consummate clarity of nature moving through you, that your voice is not only necessary, but desperately needed to sing us out of this middle.
May you feel shored up, supported, entwined, and reassured as you offer yourself and your gifts to the world.
May you know for certain that even as you stand by yourself, you are not alone.” 

‘Belonging. Remembering Ourselves Home’ by Toko-pa Turner. 

Ireland Adventure #4 – June 2022 Newsletter

The adventure of covid

We managed to escape it for 2 years, but in the middle of our time in Ireland, we both got it! It made for a quiet week in County Clare, but since we didn’t feel too bad (like we had a bad cold is all), we went wandering a few times in the car into some of our favourite isolated places (no people but lots of sheep and cows)….And scenery of course.

It felt strange to have caught the thing that had changed the world so much and provoked so much fear and isolation. It feels strange to be somewhere where it mostly feels like it never happened (except for old tatty signs about hand washing, and testing locations). People are still dying from covid. More in Australia than ever before apparently. For me, the whole experience has created a lack of trust and a confusion- what’s the truth? I guess there is many truths.

Sacred wells

One of my favourite things in Ireland is checking out Sacred Wells. There are many of course. Most now Christian-ised but existing , used and venerated before that of course. Here are a few of my favourites:

The Lady’s Well in Kenmare, County Kerry with my Yule (Winter Solstice) candle lit at the moment of solstice here (summer solstice here, winter solstice in Australia)- it was raining, windy and very cold (this is summer in Ireland).

The 2 beauties below are both in County Clare and not easy to find. (If you want details you will need to contact me!)

Stone circles

There are loads of stone circles as we come further south. These sacred places have often been dismantled for the stones to be used in buildings or fences…They are usually oriented to one of the Sabbats or cross quarter days. There is so much to learn and just being near and in them is such a buzz!

This (above) is Grange Circle in County Limerick This Circle is one of the largest in Ireland and is situated on land sacred to the Godess Áine (Anu- Godess of summer, wealth and sovereignty)- the area around here (Lough Gur) is particularly inhabited by the Sidhe (faery folk).

This one below is our favourite: Uragh in County Kerry.

More Sheela na Gigs

So I met Jack Roberts when we wandered into a shop in Kinvara. Jack is the expert in Ireland on Sheela na Gigs. We had a lovely chat or two. He has so much reverence for the powerful, wild feminine- and is so knowledgeable. It was such a thrill to meet him. 

There have been a few more meetings with Sheela:
This one at St Gobnait’s church we have visited often. St Gobnait is an amazing woman- she met 7 white stags at the location of her church and knew this was where she should build her community of women- and then they worked with all things bees 🐝

This lovely (below) is high up on a tower in County Cork. And here I am with my Yule candle on Solstice day at St Gobnait’s holy well.

Ireland Adventure #3 June 2022 Newsletter

Sheela Na Gigs

We have spent a lot of time tramping around looking for Sheela na Gigs on every visit to Ireland (variously pronounce Sheela na GIG or Sheela na Ghee by those Irish experts I have met- Irish is Síla na Gigh).

The meaning of the words also varies according to what you read. Sheela: feminine, connected with Sidhe (Shee- the fairy folk of Ireland). Gigh: variously breasts, buttocks- The Sheela na Gig Ireland website is very clear that the pronunciation is Ghee and that the word is still in use and refers to the Vulva.

In any case, it is always a great pleasure to find a Sheela that we haven’t seen before. We found 4 last week. We have a battered map by Jack Roberts (the Sheela-na-Gigs of Ireland: An Illustrated Map and Guide) that we have used since 2009. Jack Roberts put it all into a book in 2018 which is updated (“new” Sheelas are regularly found) and we used that as well as the website.

And who or what might they be? Jack Roberts says:

“Sheela-na-Gigs are carvings of naked females posing in a manner that is usually described as “exhibiting” themselves and are often found on churches and other religious structures. Even more surprising is the fact that they are not hidden or put somewhere they could be missed but are usually placed in the most prominent and visible positions where everyone could see them such as above the main doorway or over a prominent window”
No-one knows what they actually mean- there is a lot of supposition but every Sheela is unique (although the exposed vulva is a distinct commonality) and she is variously connected with fertility, the Cailleach or Hag, or simply put there to place the fear of God in men related to women and sexuality.

Sheela-na-Gigs were created over 5 centuries– between the 12th and 17th century, so some refer to her as a medieval Goddess/symbol.

Last week we visited one in County Sligo and 3 in County Mayo
Firstly, there is Herself in County Sligo (originally from Behy Castle (in ruins) and now stored in a farm building):

I wanted to see this Sheela but it is on private land and we are super sensitive about entering these places. 

Geoff insisted on visiting the farmhouse 5 times no less- no one was home and I was for giving up, but he persisted. The 5th time led us to relatives of the owner who said the wife of the owner could be “contrary”, so we were a little concerned when we knocked on her door.

She was a delight! She hates the Sheela and never goes down there because when she met her husband she was told that he was one of 10 children and this had been attributed to the Sheela. She said one child was enough for her! She said that she often gets visitors from all over the world and often they are seeking a blessing from the Sheela for their own fertility. Geoff wasn’t keen to have a child at this stage of our lives but I re-assured him that it would be a miracle indeed if that was to happen!!

She is stored in a barn building which is piled high with varied farm equipment and detritus. Such an Irish thing to have such treasures merged with the live-a-day world. She is painted red and apparently no one knows when or why that was done- or what the paint consists of. She is in fantastic condition as she has been protected from the elements for so long.

Sheelas in County Mayo

Aghagower- this very small but lovely lady is on the wall of a Sacred Well and not in the position described by Jack Roberts or on the website. We needed help from a local to find her– she is only 10cm square and apparently recently moved because trucks and lorries kept clipping the wall on the corner where she previously resided. She has been removed from the nearby ruined church/graveyard.


This lady in Hollymount is a little hard to see (I have put Jack Roberts’ diagram here for clarity) and is unusual because she is one of the few wearing a hat.

Cross, County Mayo

And finally, this beauty above is in the foyer of the very much in use Catholic church  in Cross, County Mayo- there is a plaque next to it stating that it is an ancient carving of a child- it has been verified as a Sheela na Gig however. I guess a carving of a child is more palatable to the catholic church. 

Isolated in County Clare

Our visit to County Galway involved a very peaceful stay in a tiny house in the middle of the countryside. We felt very rested and loved the tiny home and the way it had been fitted out. 

Unfortunately (but perhaps unsurprisingly considering the crowds in the pubs and the lack of precautions) we have both tested positive for covid and are now in isolation in a tiny house in County Clare. Resting up and not feeling too bad, so hopefully will be back at the wandering in a few days. I guess it “had to” happen eventually.

Ireland Adventure #2 – June 2022 Newsletter

County Donegal

We arrived and spent one week in County Donegal and it was hard to leave. The little cottage where we were staying in was so comfortable and in the midst of pristine beaches, beautiful sunsets over the Atlantic and places with so many old stories. 

We imagined this was my Cailleach cottage (this is not where we were staying! But very close by) – even at low tide, it appeared inaccessible from the beach – a small rivulet of water remained a barrier…I loved the wild isolation of it!

Geoff took to sitting out behind our cottage watching the view and the sunset.

The beach

We also went walking on a day when the weather was finer and the wind less biting. There was not a person to be seen and the beaches are truly magnificent and pristine in their wildness.

County Sligo

When we rather reluctantly left, after trialling seafood chowder at multiple pubs (none as good as the one at Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin so far) and discovering a new addiction to deep fried Brie (the waist line is feeling a little tight already), we set off for County Sligo. There’s many things I love about Sligo County- including that it’s W.B.Yeats country (I am a Fangirl of his) and the ancient landscapes of Carrowkeel, Carrowmore, Keash caves and on……. (there will be more about these in the next newsletter)

County Roscommon

On our first day, we left County Sligo to visit County Roscommon and the ancient royal site of RathCroghan (Cruachan Aí). Reported to be the oldest and largest unexcavated royal site in Europe- it is the royal seat for Connacht- one of the 5 ancient regions of Ireland. Also the centre of many of the stories from Irish lore (the Ulster Cycle) and the home of Queen Medbh (Maeve)- a great warrioress according to the lore.

This is a recent painting at the Rathcroghan visitor centre which depicts Queen Medbh, the Mórrigan in her form as the hooded crow and the great bulls of the Táin Bó Cuailnge.

The site of Rathcroghan contains many ancient sites and burials (including Medbh’s- if she was real- and if she wasn’t buried in Sligo on Knocknarea- which apparently she cannot be as the timeline for the cairn on Knocknarea and Queen Medbh’s life do not match).

Oweynagat – the cave of the cats

There is also a cave (Oweynagat) which is a dwelling place of the Great Queen, the Mórrigan. I have wanted to go into Oweynagat for a very long time and this time it happened!

There are many tales in Irish lore about Oweynagat (the cave of the cats)- it’s also called “Ireland’s Gate to Hell”- but I wanted to be there for the Mórrigan.

Here is a quote from the Rathcroghan guide book:

“Oweynagat is also said to be the dwelling place of  ”fit abode’ of the Mórrigan- Mór Rioghan (Great Queen/ Phantom Queen), the Battle Goddess of Ireland. She is a shape-shifter, most commonly associated with the form of the hooded crow. She features prominently in the Táin, initially by approaching Cú Chulainn in the form of a beautiful young maiden, His rejection invokes her fury and later in the tale when he is in single combat in the ford, she attacks him in the form of an eel, a wolf and a hornless red-eared heifer. She also marks his death by alighting in her crow form on the shoulders of his corpse, which signals to his enemies that it is safe to finally approach.”

Geoff claims to have claustrophobia, but decided to come with me anyway. I could hear him behind me muttering curses at me the whole way down!

Here he is at the entrance (see outside pic below). It’s incredibly muddy and rocky and you need to slide down the very narrow entrance and perhaps 10 metres after that on your backside.

The entrance to Oweynagat is below too. It has a big hawthorn over it which was comforting- very vulva like, don’t you think?

This is the inside of the cave- thin and narrow and about 7 metres high, it leads to a cervical looking entrance to a further cave, which was a stretch to far in terms of mud, slipping and climbing. With lights off, the silence and darkness is complete, but not oppressive- I’ve only been in similar darkness when deep within the earth, doing an assessment in a mine.

Here I am emerging from the cave entrance- muddy after slipping and sliding and crawling my way out over boulders and rocks, but a wonderful sensation of emerging ready for the new!

More to come about Sheela na Gig and County Sligo in the next newsletter!

Ireland Adventure #1 – May 2022 Newsletter

It’s been one week since we arrived in Ireland. I have discovered a few things. One is that flying is not as much fun as it used to be, sadly. But taking photos is fun.


Dublin was super crowded which I didn’t enjoy and my favourite writer’s museum has closed down for good (which is sad). However, I saw one of the most gorgeous statues in Dublin. It’s the one of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square – I don’t know who placed a lovely pregnant woman statue next to him, but here it is and it’s quite delicious really.

The research basement

The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin graciously allowed me to enter the research basement (a maze that I would never have re-surfaced from without supervision and guidance) to see the Sheela na Gigs that are not on display in the museum.

There is maybe 10 of them, all have been “rescued” from their original sites in order to save them from the rigours of time (and weather and humans acting badly). I was allowed to see them on condition that my purpose was research only and that any photos that I took (a lot of them) were not to be published in any way (which is sad because I know many of you reading this would be keen to see them. I will find a way to conduct a research debrief at some point!

We have often journeyed around Ireland with the specific purpose of finding Sheela na Gigs in their original places. There is a great map made by Jack Roberts and also a website that is useful

The stone of destiny

I visited the Sheela on the Hill of Tara – she is so worn now that she is barely discernible, but I said hello anyway. And then to visit the Lia Fáil on the Hill of Tara – the stone of destiny – although I don’t really think anyone knows it’s purpose. As far as I can tell this rather phallic looking stone was originally at the doorway of the Mound of Hostages on the Hill and has been relocated with stories about it being related to the inauguration of the kings of Ireland. I have visited it in the freezing cold of winter when at one time someone had poured red paint all over it. This time we arrived on a very windy and cold spring day to find someone lighting incense in the depression on the top. When I first visited the Hill 25 years ago it was a little known place with very few people. Now it’s a major tourist attraction with buses coming along all day.

Remarkably, standing next to the stone in what felt like a howling gale, (which fortunately blew the last of the incense from the top), a crow flapped out from the trees a few hundred metres away (seriously hard work in that wind) – he or she flew to me, did a semi circle around me and the stone and flapped back (into the wind- very seriously hard work) to the trees. A strange event by all accounts. The Lia Fáil is also associated with the Mórrigan. Some say it is a portal of hers – who knows?

On the way to Sliabh na Cailli

On the way to Sliabh na Cailli (Loughcrew) we happened upon a Sheela na Gig that we had not seen before- well we stopped to look at a wood carving by the side of the road and she was mentioned in the local attractions board. (If you believe that happening upon such a thing is accidental, then you probably also think that the crow in the Lia Fáil story above was just going about crow business. I tend to err on the side of everything happening for a reason).

This wonderful Hag woman is above a church window at Taghmon, County Westmeath. She is quite wild and fierce looking, don’t you think?

Here is a little info from Jack Robert’s book “Ireland of the Sheela-na-Gigs”

“Sheela-na-gigs are carvings of naked females posing in a manner that is usually described as “exhibiting” themselves and are often called obscene images, so it is rather surprising that they are found on churches and other religious structures. Even more surprising is the fact that they are not hidden or put somewhere they could be missed but are usually placed in the most prominent and visible positions where everyone could see them such as above the main doorway or over a prominent window.”

They were mostly carved between the 13th and 16th centuries- the middle ages- and are mostly on Christian churches or buildings. No one really knows what their meaning is. I will have much more to say about Sheela as I continue on my journey here.

Now we are in County Donegal

The most peculiar thing about Donegal appears to be that knitting needles are hard to come by. I know that is obscure, but I was so excited to purchase some balls of Donegal tweed, but can I find needles fit for the purpose? No!

Donegal is truly wild- we are in a little cottage on the Atlantic coast- more to come on that. We visited Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) and Beltany stone circle (images below).

We need to Grieve we need to Hope – April 2022 Newsletter

Yesterday I decided I wanted to read and ponder Emily Dickinson’s poem “Grief is a thing with feathers” – which (of course) she did not write.

There is a remarkable and odd little book of that name by Max Porter. It starts with a rather obnoxious crow (the thing with feathers) who facilitates the journey through grief of a man and his 2 sons who have lost partner/mother. The description of self Crow gives, goes like this: “Crow of the death-chill….God-eating, trash-licking, word murdering, carcass-desecrating math-bomb mother-f***er…..”

Maybe one needs to fully express grief (and be heard in that grief, even if that hearing is done by a crow) before one can move on to Hope…so, back to Emily Dickinson, who wrote “Hope” is the Thing With Feathers.
I will just leave it here for your possible enjoyment and contemplation – we need to grieve and we need to hope…don’t forget BOTH!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.