Amber Rose Ostaszewski
In the Flow
Carrying on with my Queen of Cups theme this year, I thought it was wise to lean into the Queen's watery nature, and made it a point to buy some books on water witchery. By happenstance, I was introduced via social media (Tik Tok to be exact) to an amazing author who specializes in this, Awynn Avalon, author of The Way of the Water Priestess: Entering the World of Water Magic and Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition. It was a happy synchronicity and I was quick to purchase both of her books.
Photo from Annwyn Avalon's instagram
When the books arrived, I was eager to start reading and had to decide which book to dive into first. While Water Witchcraft was her first book, I couldn't help myself to the allure of the cover of The Way of the Water Priestess. The cover art features a water priestess, presumably, holding an overflowing golden vessel and serving nothing but Queen of Cups energy. I was enchanted.
I read the entire book in a single night and then drank up her other book the following day. Both books have lots of folklore and exercises in them, but what I really appreciated was the author's perspective on working with water as an intuitive process. Growing up through the neo-pagan era when prescriptive traditions dominated much of the publishing sphere and books were full of recipes of EXACT measurements, with EXACT ingredients, and EXACT timings (otherwise you're doing it ALL WRONG); Annwyn Avalon's books stand up as an alternative, like a refreshing, tall glass of water. While she certainly gives guidance and suggestions, her books are much more intuitive. She embraces the very fluid nature of water, encouraging the reader to accept their inner voice, to truly establish relationships with different types of water and their localized spirits, and for readers to use what works for them and their practice as a process of discovery. In Water Witchcraft she writes:
"I used to get caught up in having the right formula for a spell, or crafting with the correct natural correspondences or tools. But when I started to explore my path in depth and became more confident in it, I found that these were only references and context, and not the work itself. The most important thing that we can learn from nature is not lists of associations or correspondences given to us by others; the most important thing we can learn is to listen to the genius loci--to the spirits, plants, and creatures that dwell there."
It's through this expansive lens that I started to view my current practice.
As a fiber artist, I work with water constantly. Cleaning a fleece, creating mordants, making natural dyes, felting, soaking fiber, washing, steaming...water is an essential element in fibercraft. I'll admit, the witch in me comes out most when I'm standing over a dye pot of bubbling plant matter to create the perfect hue, but it's easy to get caught up in what the end product will look like. It's easy to focus solely on the EXACT measurements, with the EXACT ingredients, and EXACT timings. Sure, I may get more consistent results over time, but I've found that when I stress out over this sort of exactitude, I lose the joy in my work, the true magic in my fibercraft.
End result: I imbue the dye with unnecessary anxiety and frustration, trying to bend it to my will.
In reading Anwynn Avalon's books, I am reminded of my grandmother's cooking wisdom: a handful of that herb that's been beckoning me from outside my garden's gate. A pinch of this spice I've got on hand in the cabinet. Firing up the stove and cooking it till whenever I start to feel my heart sing. This is when I am truly "in the flow" of the process, listening to the materials and tools I work with and letting them guide my next action. It's a relationship, and sometimes that means giving that dye another ten minutes of simmering because it whispers to me that it still has more to give, so long as I'm patient enough to wait.
End result: I imbue the dye with love and compassion, listening to what it has to say, and in return it gives me the richest hue I could have only dreamed of.
So while there are many, many other takeaways from these two wondrous books (of which I plan to read again), I'm choosing this month to sincerely focus on listening more and being in the flow, not just in my fibercraft practice, but in the other areas of my life as well.