Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Month: December 2020

A Happy New Year!

Cloud with silver lining

Every cloud has a silver lining!

Greetings to all my dear friends and readers! As I sit here typing and talking to you the sun is streaming through the window but the mountains are covered in glistening snow!

We all know what kind of year 2020 has been, so I am not going to state the obvious again. Much more important is what kind of a year are we going to have? I don’t just mean a proposed return to the ‘normal’ we had before the pandemic struck – globally we were already on a one way ticket to disaster in that respect. No, we need to view what is happening among the human inhabitants of this planet in a wider, global context. The Earth is a living organism in her own right and we are a part of it. A couple of weeks ago I read this quotation, although I have no idea who originally wrote/said it: ‘We can’t return to normal because the normal we had was precisely the problem.’

That’s it in a nutshell. We don’t want our previous ‘normal’ back again… we want – and all deserve – something infinitely better… for ALL life on Earth and the Earth herself, as well as her human inhabitants.

And it is up to you and me to bring this about. No waiting for ‘the government’ or ‘the authorities’ to ‘do something’. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to begin to co-create a bright new future… design and build a whole new way of thinking and living and integrating beneficially with the natural world and each other. We begin with ourselves… with how we view and react to ourselves… how we treat ourselves with consideration and honour. Then we move on to how we interact with those close around us… and ever onwards and outwards until we encompass the whole world with love, grace and gratitude.

Yes, the situation we now find ourselves in with Covid-19 is, quite frankly, terrifying and heart breaking – but  it is also true that it is always darkest before the dawn. This is our BIG chance… the amazing opportunity to take this whole crazy, horrifying situation and turn it around into humanity’s greatest triumph, (as has already been so wonderfully demonstrated by so many) and to build a new world.

So, just for starters, what will your New Year resolution be? I suggest that you make just one, so that you can really work at sticking to it. I may share my own when I have finished adequately defining and refining it, but I think that it has to involve learning to automatically send out unconditional love to each and every fearful, painful or annoying situation and every hurtful or offensive person.

Then what will you go on to dream into being for our glorious new world? our perfect society? And what part do you plan to take in making it all come about? It doesn’t matter what genetic background you hail from, or what spiritual beliefs and religions you follow – these are only marvellously diverse expressions of the wonder and richness of life as a whole. We are all brothers and sisters and I love each and every one of you with a passion and intensity normally only reserved for those of blood ties.

My first joyful action of these New Year proceedings is to send out my unequivocal and deeply heart-felt love and finest best wishes to you all for the coming year. This brings to mind the first two lines of something which is known as the ‘Druid’s Vow’:

‘We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand…’ 

…And even if it is still virtually – for the present – shoulder to shoulder too. We can do this! Good luck… have a real blast… make this the most amazing year ever…

A very hopeful, satisfying, triumphant and positive New Year for 2021 to you all… as ever and always, with my love.

Marking Time Till New Year

Me pouring teaHow do you spend your time between Christmas and New Year? Some of us have to return to work, but many of us are on holiday, (this year, enforced as well as voluntary).

I was listening to the radio this morning and was concerned to hear the presenter saying that he felt at a loss now Christmas Day has passed and as if he is holding his breath until the New Year celebrations.

True, all the frantic making, baking, decorating, buying and wrapping has suddenly ended, but surely, this is one of the greatest Christmas gifts we can receive? Time. Stillness. Space. Peace. The opportunity to catch our breath… to contemplate, catch up, rest, give ourselves some attention and do what we really want to do with our days. To sit back amidst the seasonal decorations and drink in the time of year… the atmosphere…

The other day, after serving my family home made mushroom soup and sausage rolls hot from the oven for lunch, I sat down in my favourite chair in the living room to read a new book (one of my husband’s Christmas presents which I have purloined!) and fell asleep. Some time later I awoke to find the room deserted… only the fairy lights on the Tree, over the mantlepiece and around the AGA gave a soft glow to the room which was now full of winter afternoon shadows as early dusk began to fall. Instead of jumping up to go and do something, I simply sat and slowly took it all in… the warmth, the peaceful stillness, the sonorous ticking of the clock, the deep jewel shades of old fashioned coloured lights, the melting blue shadows outside my window, the feeding birds and snow-capped mountains beyond… This is Midwinter,  this is Christmas, just as much as all the razamataz and palaver of Christmas morning.

The Solstice and the time of the ‘sun standing still’ might have passed now, but we can still take advantage and enjoy this nurturing quiet time to ‘stand still’ ourselves before the next wave of celebration to welcome in the New Year.

This is also the time that we, as a family, forget the clock and regulated meal times… eat chocolate for breakfast, read our books through the morning, play games and sing carols all afternoon and have supper at midnight – total freedom to let go, please ourselves when and as we want to, and follow our inner instincts. Other years we have gone for evening walks in the moonlight and lit garden stoves to party outside in the midnight darkness of a snowy landscape. (We might get around to that yet, depending on the weather forecast – a walk in the woods or a trip down to the beach will also definitely feature at some point in our festive holidays.)

So how do you make the most of the Second to the Sixth Day of Christmas – this special quite time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve – this gift of time, space and opportunity? Each and every day of our lives is a blessing, to make the most of, use wisely and enjoy…

Cast Your Bread Upon The Water

Gillian in drawing roomAround the turn of the millennium my family and I joined in with Operation Christmas Child, originated by a couple in Wrexham and eventually taken over by the charity Samaritan’s Purse. The whole concept is to decorate and fill a shoebox with suitable items for a child between the ages of 2-4, 5 – 10, or 11 – 14. Ideally the contents are a mixture of school items, toiletries and toys, destined for youngsters in war-torn zones or natural disaster areas… little ones who might have lost everything or have very little.

I encouraged my own son to put together boxes for boys of his own age and he had a lot of fun thinking about what a lad might like and how much he could shoehorn into the confines of a shoebox. Having only the one son, I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed choosing all sorts of little girly sparkly pretty things which, normally, I never got to even look at let alone buy. In the shoe boxes we sent out we were encouraged to also include a Christmas card with a personal message. I used to also stick in a photo of us all with my contact details.

As my son grew up and life got busier it was an activity which gradually fell into abeyance within our household and I have to confess that I had completely forgotten all about the shoebox appeal… until yesterday when I received a message from a young lady in Serbia. As a child she had received several shoeboxes over the years and faithfully kept the cards and messages which accompanied them. She tells me that the other day she was looking for something and came across the cards and decided that she would like to send her thanks.

To say that I was surprised to receive her message was a major understatement… but I am also utterly delighted, touched and humbled. How often do we reach out to others through anonymous charitable acts, never expecting to hear more about the recipients, let alone receive thanks. My greatest joy is that the little girl who was has grown into a beautiful, accomplished and highly educated young woman with a good job, living in a world which is infinitely better than the one she grew up in. Knowing that I was able, for even a split second, to help support and bring encouragement and happiness to that little one to help her on her way is far more thanks than I could ever rightfully expect. To be able to now put a face and name to one of these children is simply the icing on the cake.

This has truly been my very best Christmas gift!

And you can depend upon it that next autumn I shall once more be filling a shoebox. So far, in the last thirty years since the charity was started, 178 million boxes have been delivered to little ones in need.

Might I interest you in also participating in this enjoyable and very worthwhile activity?

Operation Christmas Child

Wishing You A Blessed Solstice!

Winter Solstice 2020For many of us, this isn’t just the darkest time of the year in physical terms – it is a veritable dark night of the soul as many of us struggle to adjust to yet more government restrictions and Covid-driven changes of plan which threaten to turn our family and friends focused Midwinter celebrations into a cold and hollow sham.

Just remember what the Winter Solstice signifies – the rebirth of light and the Sun/Son… the return of life and hope and new beginnings. So grit your teeth, slap a smile across your face and hang on in there. This situation won’t last forever. Make the very best of what you have.

To help yourself, those surrounding you and the Earth herself at this extra special and significant time, I have a simple suggestion to make which might just help.

Read More

Who Or What Is The Sprit of Christmas?

Christmas ElfWhen we are children, we talk about Father Christmas. Who is he? A sacred being? A god? A real person? A figment of our fertile imaginations? Contrary to many varying – and sometimes quite outrageous – suggestions, it is most likely that this figure of sacred folk memory has evolved out of an amalgamation of northern deities such as the god, Odin, and the Wild Man of the Boreal Forest of Eastern Europe.

Knowing what incredible effects the sheer power of thought can have upon creative energy, I am very willing to accept that the mass consciousness of humanity has by now very possibly actually created Father Christmas or Santa Claus. (We should all be very careful what we think! Our kindly and benign festive old elf is lovely, but not some of the other monsters we niaevley give credence to.)

As we become adults, we begin to refer to the ‘Spirit of Christmas’. What is that? And how does it differ from Father Christmas or Santa Claus?

Read More

The Call Of The Wild

Festive trees in car park 1 ‘You’ll never guess what I’ve just seen?’ My husband came rushing into the room upon his return from walking our dogs, ‘Someone has decorated all the trees in the car park!’ Last Saturday was a lovely day with clear winter-blue skies and blinding-bright sunshine, so I decided to take a walk down to the Canolfan at the bottom of the hill and go and have a look for myself.

Festive Trees in carpark 2The winter sun lit up the dozens of balls and decorations which had been daintily dangled from each branch-tip low enough to reach with a small ladder, or wound around the trunks of the trees which grow across the middle of the car park. It utterly transformed a rather grey and utilitarian space into something festive and magical. I could hardly believe my eyes! I wandered around from tree to tree – at least seven were bedecked, as were some of the lower shrubs and bushes. The sheer random unexpectedness of it all makes it doubly special – I simply stared, grinning… then got out my camera… then began to gather the rubbish.

Festive trees in carpark 3Wind is often responsible for redistributing old empty wrappers and plastic bottles – but the human inhabitants must also take some responsibility too – some of the items I pulled out had been  forcibly and securely  stuffed down between stems where they couldn’t possibly have got to themselves. It is a habit of mine to pick up litter whenever I am out . So, what is it to me?

Well, in this particular instance, this council car park is a part of my village and the space I live in, the space I call ‘home’. Some dear soul(s) had elected to take it upon themselves to decorate this space and make something joyful of it. I deeply appreciate that. The least I could do was to tidy it up of all the rubbish. In the end, my husband had to bring some black bags to stuff it all into.

Festive trees in car park 4The whole decorating of trees in the depths of Midwinter possibly stems from customs and rituals to do with the sacrifice of animals and and the adornment of trees with steaming entrails for the benefit of the woodland deities and starving wildlife in harsh weather conditions. It reaches back into the dim mists of our  human prehistory. The observation of activities similar to those long-ago actions brings us deep ancestral satisfaction and a sense of rightness.

This whole uplifting and inspiring experience reminded me of an incident which occurred around twelve years ago (documented in my first book, ‘Merry Midwinter’). My son, then in his early twenties, was stayinging at my childhood home, the cottage of Drybones in Lancashire. It was mid December and he had taken his dog out for his morning walk. On the way across a fallow field which was rapidly re-colonising with birch and oak saplings, he suddenly spotted a wispy little tree covered in sparkly baubles and garlands. At first he couldn’t believe his eyes and thought that it must be the result of something he had eaten! Unusually, he had gone out without his phone, so he hotfooted it back across the fields and through the woods to retrieve it – he felt that if he didn’t have photographic evidence no one would ever believe him.

Festive trees in car park 5

The sun was so bright that these siver decorations don’t show up very well, but they are very pretty.

Just as he got back to the tree, a lady appeared carrying a bag and proceeded to begin hanging more baubles. As she and my son got talking, she told him that, choosing a different tree every year, it was something which had become one of her own festive traditions. When asked why she did it, she replied that it was a seasonal surprise to cheer other walkers on their way. Amazed that something so delicate and vulnerable should be left unattended and survive in an area where vandalism and thoughtlessness was in daily evidence, the woman commented that she had never noticed any loss or damage to the trees.

The memories of our ancient rituals and traditions run extremely deep and cannot be denied.

Nor can the heart warming effects of spontaneous actions and selfless service to one’s community.

Happy decorating!

Riding The Winter Skies

Sunset across field

In a couple of weeks it will be the Solstice – Midwinter is almost upon us! Belief in the Wild Hunt is widespread at this time of year. Here in Wales it is led by the King of the Tylweth Teg, Gwyn ap Nudd, who as psychopomp has a very particular function to fulfil. I invite you to sign up for the December Walking With The Goddess module and take your own guided journey with Gwyn across the winter skies.

Similarly, this months module gives you the opportunity to learn the functions of Mother Holly who, in similar fashion, guides her reindeer-driven sleigh through the frosty atmosphere. Both guided journeys are written out with the audio recording embedded within text so that you can experience the journey just as you wish. Mother Holly also helps to facilitate the deep healing of parental/family problems and rifts, especially where mothers and children are concerned. Try it and see – the support is provided to help you access your own innate wisdom, qualities and strength.

Just as importantly, whilst many Christmas activities are destined to be very different this year due to the effects of the pandemic, I encourage you to take this opportunity to completely re-evaluate your Midwinter/Christmas celebrations. To be truly authentic to your own beliefs and spiritual needs, whatever you participate in during Christmas should make your heart sing. If it doesn’t, don’t do it… or change the way you perceive and approach it. Hospitality, love, friendship, forgiveness and peace – everything you participate in over Midwinter should encompass at least one of these qualities, and if it doesn’t, scrap it altogether and do something else. If nothing else, surely the pandemic has taught us that life is too short to waste and opportunities to be out and about and to spend time with other people are far too precious to squander.

Lastly, I suggest ways in which you can embrace the Darkness of this time of the year and work with it rather than resenting and fighting it.

Give yourself a completely different experience and a real refreshing treat and come Walking With The Goddess this December…

Buy December’s module now:

More information:

I wish you all much joy over the Midwinter period and that you find deep healing and peace.

With my love.

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