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Simple Spells for Summer

By Courtenay Trinder

All images copyright Courtenay Trinder


My journey of a thousand miles actually began by sitting down.

I don’t remember a time before frantic. I am a blur between school and work, meals, miles and dishes. How many jobs, managers, phone calls? It would be so much easier if they could just plug me in to the matrix and be done with it. The mental effort required to adapt is exhausting. I have made smiling at strangers a habit, a warmer version of a nervous tick.

A friend of mine (the only one who doesn’t live in my computer) said, “This City is toxic. It’s crushing my soul. I have to get out.” I rebelled to hear my country spoken of unkindly, but at the same time I knew her instinct was right. But “getting out” doesn’t mean you have to “Eat, Drink and Pray” in exotic locations. Finding yourself really just means taking the time to look.

peacock feathers

Discovering yourself can be as simple as drawing breath right where you stand and truly being in that moment. In your mind feel the colours wash through your eyes. Feel the scent and the heat in the air across your bare skin. Experience now with all your senses. Stop.

For just one second, be here. Stop scurrying to the next task on the mental to-do-list that rattles across the surface of your mind like a gramophone needle jumping the tracks.

This summer my kitchen table has become my altar. My communion is a 5X7 watercolour sketch book. My revelation is the transformation meditation has brought to my life. Try saying that three times fast!


This is Minerva’s Owl Athene Noctua. He is the Goddesses’ companion. Call on him when you need to see through darkness to the truth. Maybe that explains his expression. Wisdom and judgement come from seeing life without illusions. Sadly, this may have twisted his temper.


I have magic wands in every shade and spectrum. My brush is my broom, though most of both are slightly chewed by our staffie, Dimples.

This is my Practical Magic. I don’t need dragon’s blood to anoint my sacred space. Though I have salted the corners on occasion. Nor do I need 13 Sisters to dance naked in the moonlight with me. I’m just fine dancing naked alone.

What I needed was to commit time to being creative. I needed to embrace solitude and quiet to nourish my soul. I took this walk through the autumn woods of post-impressionist Paris. Saint Cezanne might have emerged from the trees. But I had to stop and get dinner.

Not long after reflecting on Yemaja, First Mother and mermaid, I suddenly found the instinct to take up resistance and flexibility training at the pool. Only as the tangles unravel can I fathom my whole body had yanked into a knot of twisted tendons and neglected injuries. I have been so separated from myself that I have been entirely unaware of my body. And what it has endured at the whim of my will. Yemaja taught me the grace of nurturing my body. For the first time in years I have a full range of (aching) motion. I am reborn. I am not “exercising to lose weight.” I am exercising to become strong.


These 5x7 moments are a meditation for me. The world becomes timeless when I draw. I imagine my subjects, their energy, their history and their story. I find when I emerge back into the real world I carry a little of their magic with me. Some new lesson learned.

Black Venus

Call on Black Venus when you need your primal needs met. Her serenity, her luscious curves, seed, petal and rain. She embodies plenty. I can’t imagine what changes in my life may be next, after musing on the Palaeolithic Willendorf Goddess. Surely it is a coup in history that a fertile woman was the first inspiration of the divine to early man.

Next I invited silence into my life. I called on Ocelot Totem. She is a rain forest cat, a tree climber. A dreamer of dreams. She is fulfilled in solitude and leads a secret life. Ocelot says, “If you are going to listen to your instincts, make sure they are sharp.” And forgive yourself.


I can feel autumn creeping up. The mornings are gentle now. This is a land of mists in the autumn. Each evening I come to the kitchen table and wonder what I will find there.

poppy seeds

This image was one of my first, poppy pods for Persephone. The colours are the passing hues of withering summer in Mulligans Flat. Tawny gold and sage like a lion’s velvet pelt.

Chinese New Year was upon us. My co-worker told me to “eat fish for abundance in the coming New Year,” which I dutifully did.

But I also drew La Luna. I imagine the Lady Moon and how she shone over every country, time and tide throughout all of human history. I think she would wink at us, and tell us there is nothing new under the sun.

La luna

If we sat back from our political agendas and marvelled at our beautiful universal Universe, all that brings us together, not what divides us, what might we accomplish?

I drew La Luna and I thought about all the kind people in my life who smiled at me in the dark times of my life, most of whom I would categorise as random strangers. With their light, they helped me hold on until I saw the dawn. I offer thanks.

Black birds

I reached the end of my sketch book. The last image I drew was one of my favourite myths. In the Ancestors’ time they imagined the World was sung into being each morning by two blackbirds sitting in the branches of the World Tree.

Since I began this ritual, there is one more blessing in my life. It means more to me than peace and growth. My son who is now 7 (going on 17) will come draw with me. Even as we naturally draw apart, we gather at the kitchen table and talk.

flower and feathers

Sometimes getting out means going inward to really find the gifts right where you are.

flower and feathers

About the author

Courtenay Trinder

Courtenay Trinder completed her B.A. in Art History and Curatorship in 1994. Since then, she has worked as a phone psychic, a dog walker, an art teacher for pre-schoolers, and at the Canberra Theatre. The Weight of Lies, her first novel, took twenty years to finish, and is available here. She lives with a beautiful little boy who has taught her everything she knows about love.

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