#amazonkeepitlocal

Hello Friends

Are you interested in helping home-bound mamas everywhere shop more responsibly and support a little consumer activism? If yes, please read on…….And thanks for taking the time to hear me out.

I woke up the other day just feeling really pissed about many things, all of them basically rooted in fossil fuel extraction and the systematic oppression of life on the planet earth at the hands of…….wait, me???????

I know we all struggle with this, feelings of sadness and anger and frustration when filling up our gas tanks, feelings of helplessness at our own gross consumerism and carbon footprints on this planet. In our daily life, every step of the way, we are making choices that effect each other and the fragile systems that keep our societies and our earth in a quickly tipping balance.

 I, for one, am an Amazon shopper. I’m a mom, and a city-dweller who is caught up in the frenzy of trying to keep up the pace of life, providing for family and trying to do good in the ways that I know how. And shopping on Amazon instead of leaving my house to fight traffic to get to my local department store/small business is a major convenience for me.

But having been in a process of stepping back to observe myself and life around me since having a little baby, I see a really major and dangerous flaw in sacrificing my own values and the values of the collective in the name of convenience. I had been so caught up in it, I wasn’t even really that aware of just how much I was going against my own values, and how much shopping through Amazon was enabling that gross oversight.

Living in Seattle, we see the effects of Amazon in our lives beyond our own patronage of their business. We see how the soul of the city is slipping fast out the back door with the influx of folks moving in from other places, buying up homes and working their asses off for tech giants like Amazon.

Gentrification, traffic and slow retail sales for local businesses are just two side affects of this influx, to name just a few. There are probably a bevy of arguments for the good side of Amazon (used books are rad) but they are not of any concern to me today. Today, I have a specific request.

I entertained a few hours of boiling anger and rage against the machine.

I marinated a while in my anger and finger pointing. I lamented over and over how Amazon was killing my soul. I whined in the mirror about how I am powerless to the Buy in one Click button. I moaned over the misalignment of my values and my dollars, and how I feel so preyed upon by the conundrum of modern life and the sparkle and shine of ‘convenience’ and how convenience is not a value of mine. I stewed over the fact that I’m am quite sure that if you were to take a poll of this city, you would not find that convenience was anyones core value, taking precedence over things like Taking Care of the Commons (our planet earth) and each other. Yet we empower Amazon to perpetuate this misalignment for us by making it too easy to not buy.

I thought of all the times I type in what I am looking for, and 25 of the same things pop up. And I don’t know which one to get so I just press ‘buy now’ blindly, in what feels like a small violence to my own inner truth.

And then I remembered something I have been telling my kids a lot lately. Complaining without action is called whining. And I am a whining white woman of great privilege. I am a part of the problem on so many levels. And it is up to me, as a concerned consumer to raise a flag in a free market system if I want to see a solution.

If you are still here, reading, thank you and I love you. Here is my solution, which is a drop in the bucket and a small ask for accountability of a corporate giant, with the larger intention of changing the AMAZON conversation from one of CONVENIENCE to one of CONSCIOUS CONVENIENCE, one tiny step closer to a collaboration of CONSUMER, ENVIRONMENTAL AND CORPORATE EMPOWERMENT.

I want a ‘ Shop Local’ section of AMAZON, a place where local business can stay afloat with the support of Amazon through a searchable category that will direct consumers to shop for their items closer to home.

I want AMAZON to design a function which allows us to see the original geographic source of our item, so we can choose our items based on proximity to us, saving the fossil fuels that are used in shipping, freight, trucking and refridgeration/climate control. I want to be able to make informed choices when using the platform of Amazon to make purchases. I think it would be a win/win. 

I contacted AMAZON yesterday, through their contact me page, which began as a text conversation. They quickly offered a call-back, and I spoke for an hour with a kind woman named Abby who listened, and pointed me in the right direction. I am now awaiting an email back from higher-ups in the company. Abby said she would start a file of quandaries and complaints about our inability to shop more responsibly buy purchasing more locally.

Today, I invite you to contact Amazon and ask them to Keep it Local. 

Please call Amazon customer service today at 1-888-280-4331. Press 0. You will be connected to a real person. They tend to be very helpful and cheerful, and good listeners, from my experience. Don’t be afraid. 

Tell them you are a concerned shopper who would like to be able to be shop more responsibly through their platform by choosing to shop more locally. 

Tell them you want to see a ‘ Shop Local’ section of AMAZON, a place where local business can stay afloat with the support of Amazon through a searchable category that will direct consumers to shop for their items closer to home.

Tell them you want AMAZON to design a function which allows us to see the original geographic source of our item, so we can choose our items based on proximity to us, saving the fossil fuels that are used in shipping, freight, trucking and refridgeration/climate control. I want to be able to make informed choices when using the platform of Amazon to make purchases. I think it would be a win/win. 

Then, share this information with your friends. Share it on social media with the hashtag #amazonkeepitlocal

Encourage people to call in. We can totally do this. Let’s use our voices to help us use our dollars more responsibly. Amazon is fully capable of this, and is in a position to lead the way so its up to us to steer them in the right direction. 

 

Thoughts? Advice? Experience? Please share. 

Free Your Hair Offerings

My services are offered with 20 years of learning behind the chair and an incredible depth of creative insight and intuition to deliver a personal transformative hair experience. My aim is to craft identities that are, intentional, authentic and embodied, so that you feel yourself and comfortable in your own hair, with your hairstyle that lets you tell the story of who you are.

Haircut

 

My cuts are done with an organic understanding of hair textures, and grow out beautifully requiring minimal styling. They are shaped around your unique self, your lifestyle, and your personal taste.

Most cuts are done on dry hair, as it falls in its natural state.

$125

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Community Haircuts

 

For a more economical haircut that is just as great but costs less, organize your community and I will come set up in someone’s house and give haircuts on a sliding scale from $50-125 for a minimum of 5 folks. You provide snacks and someone who loves to hold babies so I don’t have to pay for childcare:)

Balayage

 

This beautiful, seamless color technique is great for low maintenance enhancement of your natural color. I use a very low-chem French clay-based bleach to intuitively paint on soft lighter tones to illuminate your natural color and help texture come alive. This technique is great for all hair colors and types, and it grows out beautifully and requires minimal maintenance.

$150 and up

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Ritual Haircut

This service is a haircut with intention. We weave the haircut experience into a beautiful ritual of setting intention, scalp/crown massage, aromatherapy and magic. The ritual haircut is an initiation for whatever part of you needs it at the time……It is a shift in consciousness and a self-honoring experience that will help all who receive it begin to weave ritual into their lives in surprising ways and deepen their own self-care experiences. Done close to the new/full moon, this service holds the most power. This service is an hour and a half.

$195

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Transformation

I offer a full transformation cut/color experience for those who are ready to shed their chrysalis and become their full butterfly self. This service is wonderful for initiating letting go and starting fresh, in times of great life changes.

This service is customized to your tastes and your unique story.

*Requires an initial consultation, price included in total of this service.

$250+

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Braids/ Styling

I offer braids and styling to brides, maidens, men, children, anyone who wants to walk through a special day with an inspired and beautiful creation of hair to wear. Adorning the crown with a hairstyle helps us call upon our highest and most powerful selves and is a wonderful addition to any special event.

I have a very special love for floral hair styling, which blends the artistry of the hairstyle with the subtle magic of fresh flowers to create inspired designs that make incredible statements.

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Self-Care Ritual Crafting

Creating ritual around our haircare and self-care is a powerful way to transform daily life by inspiring deeper connection, mindfulness and gratitude. It is taking a routine and infusing it with intention and magic to create small rituals that will illuminate daily life with light and beauty. This service is an hour and a half of hands-on consultation and experimentation and you will leave with the tools you need to create your own self-care rituals for life.

$195

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Custom Formulation/Consultation

I can help you create the perfect hair color, nourishing hair oil, braided hairstyle, DIY haircut. You name it. This is the world I live in, and I am here to help empower you with the knowledge and hands-on skills to rock your own haircare just the way you want to.

$195

This is an hour and a half service.

Please inquire more by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

Teaching

I am hear to teach all that I know. What do you want to learn? I do classes, one-on-one, workshops, retreats. Please inquire by emailing me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you!

Roxie Jane Hunt

 

Interview With My Witch Self

Friends, I have asked many women in the past few years what the word ‘Witch’ means to them, and what it means to be a Witch. This has been in an attempt to better understand my own feelings about the Witch, which have been swirling in a spiral, un-worded for my entire life, waiting to be brought to light. I decided it was time to interview myself on the topic of the Witch, because I am finally  feeling comfortable and clear in my own and views and experience to be able to apply it to language to be shared.

As you likely know, I have a 4 month old baby which makes it hard to find the time to write, and believe it or not, I sat down to write this with a full 3 hour block of time with which to focus. I have literally not given anything besides my children that amount of my own self in years. And it feels so good. 

So, that said, thanks for being here and reading this. My hope with this series is to get more people thinking and talking about The Witch, and more witches to step forward and claim their power. Because witches, we need you now.

I think that now is a really big time for women from all walks to connect over shared oppression and heal together. This is not to discount the importance of women from different backgrounds and histories of oppression to differentiate their own unique experiences…..That is hugely important too. I just think that we have a powerful point of connection between all of womankind, and all of humankind for that matter, to deeper understand each other’s traumas and hold each other up in our collective healing. And I believe that The Witch discussion fits right into that. So, here, my Witches, are my thoughts.

What does the term Witch mean to you?

To me, A witch is a woman who understands the implications of drawing her deepest personal power from listening and following her inner wild, and is unafraid to wield that raw power. A witch is a woman who understands the balance of lightness and darkness, the duality of all things and the incredible spectrum of possibility within them. A witch is sensitive to the subtleties of the most subtle energetic shifts, and has the ability to listen very deeply, read between the lines. A witch reads the signs as they are unveiled.

A witch channels her own healing path to heal others. A witch is a bridge between worlds and she knows it.
A witch appreciates life’s great mysteries without trying to solve them, because a witches wisdom comes from within, an unnamed wellspring of knowledge that keeps flowing. A witch believes in the animation of things. A witch sees where the web is thinning and weaves it back together. A witch remembers. A witch knows how to use intention and alchemy to shift consciousness at her own will. A witch feels it all, at once. A witch lives in relationship to the natural world around her, walking in deep connection to the elements and the seasons and the living world in plants.
How would one know that one was a witch?
As a really young child, a radical school teacher taught me a song that humanized and demystified witches and sort of turned my simple child mind inside out by shedding light on the oppressed and demonized female-witch-archetype that we are taught as children to fear. This taught me very young to seek light in the shadows.
somewhere along the line, I lost the ability to ignore the stirrings of my own heart any longer, and began to embrace my own shadow and dig into hidden sides of myself that were begging for attention, namely the part of myself that felt forbidden and magical and deeply wedded to the earth.
There have been moments along the way, like rediscovering the nettle plant, bleeding into the earth, learning how to listen in stillness to the inner voice, mapping my dreamworld, beginning to trust the part of me that knows and doesn’t know how or why she knows, understanding how I use my own abilities to heal others, and singing around fires with other women, where the Witch has become more and more awake inside me over time.
I knew for sure I was a witch when I started to be able to look around identify other witches.
 

Talk about intention and manifestation…..How do they work together, Can you recall the first time you experienced their power in action?

YES! I love this question. When we learn to work with intention, we begin to magnify our power to create what we want in the world around us. Intention can be seen as energy applied to a particular direction for a particular reason. It can be seen as a prayer, or a wish, or a vision that we want to see through to fruition. Intention requires a vehicle to travel to its destination which is  manifestation or creation……The birth from an thought into reality.

How do we become the vehicle for our own intentions to manifest? Through the process of creation. There are a million and one ways to manifest our intentions, and I invite all to find the ones that work for you. Creating rituals around our intentions are a great way to build the energy up around them to help them carry through. The process of creation is a very powerful vehicle to infuse with intention and manifestation.

When I work with color, and mix color with from the primary colors, I am effectively creating something raw and magical that is begging for intention to be woven into it. Whoever gets that raw, magical color in their hair becomes the vehicle. This is how I use intention in my daily work.

During the consultation before hair color, I decide what the intention is that I want to pass to my client and help them weave into their lives. Sometimes, they have their own intention. As I mix the color, I think about this intention and during the creative process of formulating their shade, the intention informs the color, and the color becomes the intention. This is all in an effort to help my client manifest whatever it is they are needing in their lives. Maybe it is more patience. Maybe it is humor, or sexual energy. Maybe it is quiet. Maybe its a new job. It can be as specific as you want it to be.

I do this when I make mandalas from plants and flowers. Each one has an intention, sometimes for me, sometimes for you. Somethimes for the earth, sometimes for itself, and sometimes for the collective. As I think about this intention, while I design a mandala, the two become one, and the mandala becomes the vehicle of manifestation.

I set an intention every time I brush my hair. Anything can be infused with intention and magnified towards manifestation. You have to find your vehicle.

Here are a few examples of times when I began to understand how Intention and manifestation work together. One illustrates the power of the creative process. One illustrates the power of our mind/body.

As a child, I was hellbent on creating my own family after my parents divorced. I knew just what I wanted it to be like. I felt like I already knew my daughters. I drew them, painted them, told stories to myself about them. I had every intention of manifesting them in reality as an adult. Every time I created something, they were in my mind. And then, finally, I created them. I tell my daughters now…….If you really really want to change something, create something, let go of something, become something, imagine it, draw it! paint it! It builds energy and momentum in a positive direction towards what you want.

Another lesson that still feels very profound to me was during a time when learning to snowboard was the most important thing in my world. It was all I thought about. When the season ended, I was lost and depressed because I had not mastered a toe-side turn, which, if you are a snowboarder, you know is a crucial step in being confident on your board. I had had what felt like a very frustrating and tangible mental block AKA fear of failure and lack of confidence that had kept me from progressing through that step and I was so mad at myself and felt actual despair about it.

Every day in the off season, through the Spring, Winter and Fall of that year, I imagined myself doing a toe side turn. I saw myself doing it, I imagined what it felt like to do it, and what it felt like to finally bust through that block of my own fear. When the next season started, I jumped on my board and had mastered the turn in my head, and on the mountain. This was a major moment of clarity to me……I had the power in my mind and imagination to create my reality how I wanted it. Didn’t feel like witch craft at the time, but did feel like magic and it taught me the power of using my intentions to manifest.

How do you think that a collection of witches is magnified in power to an individual witch?

In the same way that intention magnifies manifestation, intention magnified by numbers magnifies manifestation by number. This is why covens are a thing. This is why gathering with other like minded people to create change is so exhilarating and wonderful……We see our intentions begin to swirl around and take their own shape and course. They become sometimes larger than all of us combined!

This is why we really need to put our minds and hearts together right now, in this world.

Where would you direct a woman who is interested in exploring her inner witch for the first time? (books? Plants? etc)

Look to the dark to understand the light.

Into her own shame, fear, anger and darkness. Into the wild. To the places inside her that make her feel alive. To Persecution. To her dreams. To plants like Nettles and Mugwort. To Amanita. To Foxglove and other shamed/dangerouns plants. To the elements. To the Stars. To songs, and sharing her voice. To other witches. To her ancestry, to the history and folklore and botanical world of her ancestral landscapes.

How do the facets of our souls (shadow side, sun-lit side, good, evil) effect the process of owning our power?

I believe that we cannot use our powers wisely and purely without really digging into the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden. Of course we never stop learning about our own selves and our own blind spots, but I think we need to really strive to understand, integrate and embrace those parts of ourselves constantly to be able to fully own our power to heal, BECAUSE we cannot heal ourselves without healing those hidden parts of ourselves and therefore we cannot effectively heal others without healing those parts of ourselves.

What traumas do we carry? What are our triggers and why? What of this trauma is actually ours, and what do we carry from others like our mothers and ancestors? Where in our physical bodies does our trauma live? What can we do to soothe ourselves without hurting others or masking our feelings?

Sometimes it feels too big to understand and accept our own dark mystery, and accepting that integration can be as simple as just forgiving yourself and agreeing to hold and love your own dark self for one more day……..There is power there.

Why do you think it is so hard for some of us to own our power, speak to the woman who knows she has it but is afraid to use it.

Well for one thing, we remember in our DNA how dangerous it is for us to be powerful, due to worldwide persecution and witch burnings at the hands of centuries of partriarchal systems of oppression. We remember. I think that is the biggest reason. Because it is fucking huge.

I think today, in our society, their is a strange sort of thing happening where ‘magic’ and ‘witchcraft’ is being both commodified in a major way, and jeered at and shamed for the Woo factor, which feels to me a bit like the 21st centuries version of Witch Trials.

Woo Woo is, according to the Urban dictionary …….any belief not founded on good evidence, the poorer the evidence the more Woo Woo the belief.

To me this is basically a way of saying that anything that can’t be explained doesn’t exist and shouldn’t be considered. And every witch knows that this is a very limited, dangerous and close-minded way of thinking about ourselves and the world. There is so much power in the mystery but we are afraid of being shamed for understanding that fact and believing in it.

What is one concrete way we can empower women to own their witch powers?

I thing that there is so much power in teaching young women about the magic and mystery of their bodies, their cycles, and how they are connected to the cycles of the earth. Teaching young women how to care for themselves, body mind and spirit. Helping them celebrate their unique qualities, bodies, hearts, minds. Bring back Rites of Passage. Creates safe spaces for these important learnings to be nurtured, and get as many generations involved as possible. I truly think this will help raise a generation of kind, strong  and aware women who respect and value themselves and each other and the earth. Empowering women leads to a better planet, all around. This seems like a great place to bring more healing and awareness.

Witches, we need you now more than ever to keep believing in the greatness of the mystery, and to spread that light drawn from the deepest darkness. Keep spinning your webs and over time, they will become one……. the greatest web ever spun, to reconnect and heal the frayed and thin worn parts of the collective back to vitality.

Hair and Healing the Spirit with Julia Inglis

The more I learn about hair and culture and ancestry, the more interested I find myself in the question of hair and spirit. A few months ago, I asked a question about Hair and Spirit. I was curious about the stories out there that illustrate the link between our hair and our spirits and identities, stories that bring the truth of this link to the surface.

A dear woman healer that I know of and admire very much named Julia Inglis of Sacred Familiar raised her hand over the internet and said, “I may have something to share.”

Julia is an ancestral healer through folklore, storytelling and mythology. She lives in the forest in Australia where she makes medicine dolls, woven and felted characters containing natural elements and found fibers created to assist in the healing journey of an individual.

 

Julia Inglis clearly spends a lot of time thinking about the energetics of fiber and the spirit within, and she offers today her thoughts and a beautifully woven story on a topic that sits deeply in her heart, on hair and spirit and healing, and the women of the Magdalene Laundries.

The Magdalene laundries were Asylums set up by the Catholic
Church in the 18-20th centuries in England, Ireland, Canada, Australia and the US for what they considered ‘ Wayward Women’…….Unwed, pregnant out of wedlock, women who lived alternatively to the normal standards of the day. Much like persecution of the Witches, the Magdelene Laundries served to enslave women who wouldn’t submit to the patriarchal oppression of the Catholic Church.

Julia Inglis has made it a mission to honor these women in her work, through story and creation of dolls to commemorate the lives of those effected. Here are her words on Hair, Spirit and Healing, through the experience of the Women of the Magdelene Laundries. Lets all take a moment to make room for these stories in our hearts so that we may never forget.

 

Hmmm hair and spirit feel forever linked to me. As if the tendrils of our hair are always in constant contact with spirit, moving and communicating with the atmosphere around us and holding ancient memory and DNA. Our hair can feel so electric, it can be a way to sense energy and spirit in a room – the hairs on arms stand up, the hairs on our head prickle and become alert. I watch this a lot in animals too – the way hairs stand up on a dog’s back when it becomes aware of needing to be alert, to investigate or when danger is near. I see hair more like our own personal fiber, our fur, our fleece. It is alive and full of creative possibility. I see the work you do Roxie and it reminds me of weaving with fibres. The braiding is perhaps a way of us to connect to and remember  ancestral arts like weaving and feeling the living and creative spark that lives in our hair.

And there is so much in our hair that is familiar, people can recognise our own individual scent by smelling our hair, we can remember them. When someone we love is returned to us we hug them tight and often without thinking, smell their hair. On the day a baby is born they are passed through the arms of those who love them, each relative taking turns to hold the baby and smell their hair. We do it without thinking but I believe this is very old, that we are taking this moment to imprint the memory of their smell so that we will always know them, we will always recognise them and know how to find them again.

This ritual and deep memory of hair and it’s connection to us runs through a lot of my work. I create spirit dolls as companions and friends to anyone in need and I make an effort to work with fleece and fiber from loving farms. I like to the know the people gathered the fiber and how much they love their animals. My own ancestors, for many generations were spinners and weavers and wool workers in Scotland but I only began to work with fibre 4 years ago when I moved to Sherbrooke Forest.

The forest began to heal my own pain, and anxiety and as my mind quietened, my hands had an urge to craft. A friend showed me how to needle felt a woollen and from the moment I began, I have never stopped. And the first thing I did was bend my head and smell the wool. It was just as important to smell as to feel it, it still feels the only true way to recognise it. From the moment I held the fibre in my hand, it was as if I already knew what to do. And it was as if my hands had been longing to return to this ancestral craft.

I became obsessed with learning about fibre and ancestral textiles. I began sourcing all kind of fibers – plant fibres such as nettle and ramie dyed naturally with ancient dye plants such as woad and madder. And fiber from wool workers and farmers from around the world that were working to bring rare breeds of ancestral sheep and goats back from the brink of extinction. The same animals that had lived on the land with our ancestors, and provided them with fleece for clothing and blankets and fine weaving were now in danger.

I became aware of this movement of preserving and caring for ‘rare breeds’ and when I could I created dolls with this wool and fiber, so happy that in a small way I could help to assist in their preservation and I was also aware of this ancient memory in the fiber and the hair of this ancient bloodline living on in a doll and bringing the magic of that land and it’s stories to the doll’s new keepers.

Rare breeds. I thought about this a lot as I made the dolls and carried on the work I had been dedicating my time to for the last 10 years, the work of Swan Blessing. Swan Blessing is the name of the personal and group sessions I hold for women to heal the memory of shame and fear from times of persecution of the women for working as healers, witches, midwives, herbalists. This ceremony works to clear the trauma in the female lineage of the Burning Times and the asylums and institutions that patriarchy built to contain, jail and silence the outspoken and wild women, the orphans and outcast, and the misdiagnosed psychics and mentally ill. The ceremony works not only to heal past life memories but also the collective memory of what happens to women who speak out, are different, are natural healers or unmarried mothers or women who have a healthy relationship to their own sexuality.  Over the years of travelling and offering this ceremony to hundreds of women I kept hearing again and again how it was believed it was safer to be hidden, to work undercover and to not be found.

In 2013, six months after making my first doll, I began to dream about the women of the Magdalene Laundries. I had known about these Catholic institutions where women and children were locked up and forced to wash laundry from morning to night without pay, poor food and very little if any education. This was their punishment for being too outspoken, too attractive and bringing too much attention to themselves, for being homeless and for being pregnant without a husband. 

The Magdalene Laundries named for Mary Magdalene the redeemed prostitute and sinner in the eyes of the church were meant to be places of penitence for ‘fallen women’. Ah yes, you may say, well this happened in the Victorian years and you are right – but did you know that the last Magdalene Laundry in Ireland only closed it’s doors in 1996? Many survivors of these cruel and damaging institutions are living among us now.

The dreams about these institutions grew stronger and stronger until one day I knew that I must gather at the site of the old Magdalene Laundry at the Abbotsford Convent here in my home in Melbourne, Australia and hold a ceremony to not only let the spirits of the women who were abused there know that they were loved but to also heal ourselves of the invisible chains that are still keeping us quiet, unseen, and afraid.

One of the first things that was taken from you when you were incarcerated in the Laundries was your hair. It was cut roughly and as punishment – hair was seen as women’s vanity – another sin. There is a history of women having their heads shaved before entering prison, asylums, during wartime as punishment and even when women became sick.

I once made a doll for a grandmother in her 80s and the doll had long, long plaits. She told her granddaughter that she cried when she saw her because it reminded her of her own hair that had been cut because it was seen as ‘draining her health’ when she was a little girl and she’d never really gotten over it.

I have spoken to survivors of the Laundries and they have all spoken about the huge trauma and degradation of having their hair removed or even changed without their permission and under force. It is almost one of the strongest memories of their time there. It was a way to break the spirit of a wild young woman the moment she stepped through the door and it was affective.

Hair and the way we choose to wear it is so personal. It is not like clothing or fashion. It grows from us. It carries our DNA and ancient memory from our great grandmothers. The church did everything it could to cut ties and family bonds. A sure way to help break a familiar bond is to tell a family a lie about their daughter and how evil she is and then present to them (if they were actually allowed to visit), a child that no longer resembled their daughter in any way.

It is much easier to disconnect when we can no longer recognise the one we used to love. When a baby animal is born to a sick or grieving mother, it doesn’t get enough nutrients for it’s hair and it is born with what is called a ‘fever coat’. The fever coat is dull and lifeless and usually lacks vitality and colour. I think of these young girls ripped away from their families and away from their own mothers and many of them pregnant with their own babies, terrified and worked into the ground and fed so little. 

I imagine their families finally getting a visit with their daughters in the Magdalene institutions and hugging these abused unrecognisable girls and leaning in to smell their chopped off hair and instead smelling not their child but a fever coat. Another link and memory lost. Not your daughter any longer but a different creature entirely who no longer looks like your own or even smiles like it. In her place an unfamiliar and sickly creature that has no trace of the wild spirited girl that once lived inside.

A couple of years ago I began a project called Dolls for the Outcast – travelling to places of trauma neglect and leaving a spirit doll made from pure and loved fibers for the spirits who had lived through those events and also dolls for the living survivors. I have gifted dolls to survivors here in Australia and travelled to the Cross Bones Graveyard in London, once known as a Magdalene Grave for the prostitutes of Southwark who were not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground even though they had to pay the Bishop to work on the streets of his borough.

It was a huge joy to see a doll I made for the women of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland come to live with survivor, activist of Forgotten Mothers, Terri Harrison. In the video I received of Terri holding the doll she is constantly caressing and smoothing down the doll’s hair with great affection. Nothing could have made me happier than to see this moment.

I am now going even deeper with this theme of returning hair to the women and children of the Magdalene Laundries by beginning a new project called the Memory Shawl. It is my intention that it heals the Fever Coat of so many women who lost their mothers and then had their babies stolen from them. Over the last year as I have travelled and shared the Swan Blessing ceremony around the world, women have gifted me strands of their hair to spin on a spindle with fibers from rare ancestral breeds of animals lovingly being brought back from extinction and also fiber created from the nettle plant.

Nettle I see is our Grandmother guardian and protector of women. From the nettle plant comes a strong and beautiful fiber. I am weaving our human hair or fiber with plant and animal fibers, making a shawl that like a great spider web, connects all of our families and lineages – human and animal and plant. My wish is that this ‘hair shawl’ will help to reconnect us all to the Great Mother and heal the sickness of the fever coat. So that we remember and find ourselves again by connecting to the ancestral spirits and grow strong in our communities respecting all life forms.  By healing the broken lineages of the past the memory shawl can provide warmth and comfort and new dreams – a gift from our ancestral DNA to the outcast living and dead.

By sharing our own hair we are sharing our own stories and families with the women of the Magdalene Laundries we are warming them so that the fever coat heals in ourselves too. We do not see them as fallen women but as rare and sacred and we speak up, let ourselves be seen and found again.

The human spirit is some of the strongest fiber of all. In my communications with some of the Magdalene Laundry survivors I have been amazed at their fight, their fire and resilience. Some of have become powerful activists, teachers, artists and writers who are now standing up and speaking for the sisters who can not. They are taking on governments and the church that terrorised them as young women. This has shown me that the ‘fever coat’ is temporary and that the human spirit is more resilient than any institution, that bonds of sisterhood can replace the loss of family and that voices once silenced can become a roar.

Thanks Julia. The tears are flowing and heart is swelling. Deepest gratitude and the biggest hug to you, Dear Sister of Scotland.

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