I’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible..
I'm 62, and I'm a freelance writer dividing my time between Algorfa on the Costa Blanca in Spain and Bigbury Bay in Devon. I write about anything that interests and/ or challenges me, but I'm happiest when writing about all things Spanish.
Back in 2009, some friends from England were visiting us here in Spain, and we took them to Almoradi market. They wanted to buy us something as a ‘thank you’ for our hospitality, and my husband decided he’d like a fig tree for the garden. 12 years on, the tree is both enormous and prolific, and also very messy, as the birds are just as keen on figs as I am, and the leaves are always falling.
Like many Mediterranean foods, figs are brimming with good things, and are very versatile. You can read more on the health benefits of figs here. Since writing this, I’ve learned some new things about figs – apart from not to eat too many in one sitting, that is!
Figs are not technically fruit, they are inverted flowers. The flesh is actually a flower inside the teardrop-shaped outer casing of the fig. And fig leaves can be used to make tea, cooked as a spinach substitute or used to wrap fish in for baking, to protect it from the heat and impart a subtle flavour similar to coconut with hints of vanilla. You can also add fig leaves to the water when you cook rice. Maybe I’ll try that – it’ll be a few less leaves to fall on the garden.
I obviously can’t eat all the figs I harvest, and some friends are a bit reluctant to try fresh figs, although they will happily eat dried ones. It’s a constant struggle to find new ways to use those figs that escape the best efforts of the birds. I have made fig jam in the past, but last week, I had about 20 figs that needed using, but not enough time to do anything much with them. I decided to poach them, and they turned out really well, so I’m sharing the recipe here.
If you don’t have a fig tree, head to your local market, where you can buy them for as little as €1 a kilo. Figs in Brandy takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and a week down the line, they are still good to go. I’m keeping mine in the fridge and using them every day in desserts or with yogurt for breakfast, but I will probably bottle some ready for Christmas. If you’re going to bottle yours, you will need some sterilised glass jars. If you don’t have any at home, you can get them for a few cents each from your local Chinese bazaar.
Poached Figs in Brandy
The quantities here are for around 20 figs. You may need to adjust up or down for sugar and honey, depending on the size of your batch.
Wash the figs in cold water, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Halve them and place in a wide- based saucepan. Some recipes say cook them whole, and halve after poaching, but it’s easier to do this while they are still nice and firm.
Add enough water to the pan to just cover the figs. Then add a tablespoon of honey, 2 – 3 tablespoons of sugar and a small cinnamon stick. It will also work with a whole nutmeg.
Cover the pan with a well-fitting lid, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and allow the figs to poach for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on size. Don’t overcook, you want to keep them in one piece.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked figs and place in a glass or ceramic bowl or pack into jars. Now is the time to remove the cinnamon stick or nutmeg. If you don’t have these in your kitchen, you can sprinkle a little ground cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice over the cooling figs if you wish.
Leaving the lid off the pan, bring the fig syrup back to the boil, then cook on a rolling boil for 10 – 15 minutes to thicken and reduce the syrup. This isn’t time critical – when you think the consistency is right for you, it’s ready!
Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool before pouring over the figs. If it’s too hot, the figs will carry on cooking. Once the syrup is cool, you can add around a tablespoon of brandy, amaretto or moscatell wine if you wish. This will help preserve the figs and add another dimension to the flavour. The finished figs will keep for a couple of weeks in the freezer, or several months if bottled in sterilised jars. You can also freeze them, but they may be rather mushy when you thaw them out.
Serving Figs in Brandy
Figs in brandy are very versatile. They go well with sweet and savoury foods. I enjoyed a couple on a cheese sandwich instead of chutney yesterday, and they also go well with cold meats, and can be chopped up in salads. Serve as a simple dessert with yogurt or ice cream, or use to top cheesecakes or rice pudding. They are fabulous with the Spanish classic Arroz con Leche – that’s cold rice pudding with cinnamon for the uninitiated. Let me know how you use yours in the comments below. Buen provecho, amigos!
Sunday 8 August 2021 marks a doubly auspicious time in the astrological calendar. It’s the recognized activation point of the Lion’s Gate energetic portal, and it’s also New Moon in Leo. You can read about it in this excellent article, but in this piece, I want to concentrate on how the prevailing energies are likely to affect you, and how to cope with it all. For empaths and lightworkers, and anybody in touch with their spiritual side and higher consciousness, Lion’s Gate is a quixotic, heady mix of celebration and wanting to crawl away until it’s all over and the energies settle again.
I’ve certainly felt this perfect storm of energies, and many of the online spiritual groups I belong to are full of posts about not feeling as positive as normal, feeling overwhelmed, emotional, fearful and anxious for no good reason, and generally having too many Bad Vibe Days. It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one experiencing this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to get through it, does it? Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like I’d been hit with the proverbial Ton of Bricks, and nothing much happened, creatively, practically or any other way. Today, I am back on top of my game again, and herein lies the main lesson of Lion’s Gate, and indeed, life itself:
It’s okay to not be okay!
We tell ourselves, and anyone who will listen, that an Attitude of Gratitude is vital for spiritual growth and abundance. When we feel like the Universe has it in for us – especially with no good reason – we beat ourselves up, and that makes us feel even worse. We tend to forget that we are human, with all the attendant mess of feelings and illogicalities that go with it, and like all humans, we are not perfect. It’s okay to have off days, and when we get them, we should nurture ourselves through them, not turn into some sort of Self-flagellating Spiritual Sergeant Major who expects the impossible from ourselves and others.
Instead of berating yourself for these feelings, celebrate them, because if you are feeling like this, it means you are sensitive to the prevailing energies. The fact that you are not carrying on regardless means you will benefit from them in the long term, even though you may be riding a rocky road at the moment. It’s normal to feel exhausted and overwhelmed when moving through such a powerful energy cycle, and the best way to come through it is to acknowledge that and rest and recharge, rather than trying to push yourself through the pain. ‘Feeling the Burn,’ whether physically or emotionally, just doesn’t work, and it never has.
Yesterday, I decided to allow my energetic field time to replenish itself. I made the conscious decision that everything could wait for another day. I did a few Samurai Sudoku puzzles, watched some quizzes and documentaries on TV, read, chatted to my friend and caught up on cuddles with my dog Luna. It may surprise you to know I didn’t even pull any oracle cards or meditate, and I more or less gave myself a day off from Facebook. The only ‘Non-Me’ thing I did was get in some shopping to tide us over the weekend, so I didn’t have to brave the hordes in Lidl today – Saturday. Even then, I made it into a Me Thing by just getting the essential stuff and collecting a takeaway on the way home, so I didn’t have to cook.
As a result, I feel truly refreshed, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The house hasn’t fallen down around me because I didn’t do any cleaning or washing, and the garden hasn’t suffered for not having the fig leaves and doggy doings cleared up like clockwork, If you’re wondering why I put the block on my usual spiritual practices for the day, well, sometimes that’s counterproductive when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you don’t get right into the zone when you meditate, or immediately pick up on what the cards are telling you, it can intensify those feelings of disconnection. Self-care itself is a powerful spiritual practice, and you don’t need divination tools or a specific routine or ritual to do it. You just need to take notice of what your mind and body is telling you.
Every day is a new beginning, and a new chance to learn and grow, but New Moon and Lion’s Gate are powerful opportunities to move forward, practically and emotionally. New Moon is a time for setting goals and intentions, and Lion’s Gate is all about new beginnings as well. Astrologically, it occurs when Sirius – also known as the ‘Spiritual Sun’ – is in alignment with Earth. As Sirius is connected to abundance and harvest, this time is like a Spiritual New Year, and the Ancients certainly saw it as such.
With the New Moon happening in Leo, the sign of confidence, bravery and strength, new ventures, whether professional or personal, have the best chance of bearing fruit. The lion (Leo) is after all King of the Jungle, and by harnessing these powerful energies to your advantage, you too can be King – or Queen – of Anything and Everything, but most importantly, Lion’s Gate energies can help you enormously on your path to enlightenment and self-mastery.
The key to all this is to move into Lion’s Gate with faith in yourself and the Universe, and the firm intention of embracing change and releasing those connections and thought patterns that no longer work for you, so you can make that new beginning in every sense. You may also need to let go of your expectations of how you believe your life should be, and allow the manifestation potentials of New Moon and Lion’s Gate to work with you to bring you your best life.
The Power of 8
In Numerology, 8 is the number of manifestation and abundance, and August 8 (8/8) is extra powerful, because there’s a double dose of 8s, which is recognised as a Good Thing. Sideways, the number 8 is the symbol for infinity, and its shape represents the flow and balance of life itself. It’s the number associated with karma, or the spiritual law that states ‘What goes around, comes around.’ So it’s a strong, powerful number.
Seeing the number 8 is a reminder that you deserve abundance, but to benefit fully from its energies, remember that abundance isn’t just about the bank balance, it’s about life balance too. Remember to share your abundance with others, to bring even more of the same into your life.
Take some time to write down 8 things you would like to bring into your life, changes you would like to make, and ways to make life more abundant for others. Then call on Archangel Ariel, the Angel of Manifestation, to help you turn your list into your reality. Don’t worry about how these things will happen, know that when you have set your intention and shared it with the Universe, you can bring them into your life by feeling they are already here. Stuck for inspiration? I’ll share my list with you if you like!
Lion’s Gate List of 8: The things I want to manifest in my life right now
Self-healing: I want to connect more with my mind and body, so it becomes clearer to me what I still need to release and heal from in order to move forward and grow. I need to treat myself with the same compassion I show to others, and nourish all aspects of my being.
Increased intuition: Lion’s Gate is a time of activation for the Third Eye Chakra. I want to develop my intuition more, so I can better serve others, and also my own soul’s needs.
Increased self-appreciation: Like most people, I am guilty of stringent self-criticism at times. I need to learn to love myself more, and cut myself some emotional slack. I’m not perfect, and I shouldn’t expect perfection in myself.
A more disciplined approach to creativity: As a Gemini, I am easily distracted by the Next Shiny New Thing. As such, I have at least three books in my head that have yet to make it into print. I need to bring more structure into all aspects of my creative life – particularly my writing.
Better communication all around: For me, this New Moon is in my Third House, which is all about communication. That also ties in with the previous point. After all, writing is communication too! I want to bring more clarity into all my communications, whether written, spoken or thought, so that I know where I am going and what’s important, and so does everyone I interact with.
Working more with healing energy: I discovered I am a natural healer. That doesn’t make me special – everyone is! I’ve been working with my own energy, and learning more about how I can use it to help others. Now I am ready for more structured study, so one of my intentions for Lion’s Gate is to bring more discipline into this area of my spiritual life.
Connect more with my Heart Centre: Leo is linked to the Heart Chakra, and all spiritual work stems from love, so we can never have too strong a connection to the Heart Centre. I want to work on this for myself, and also help others to do the same. All we ever need is within us, we just need to uncover it and connect with it, then we can manifest true abundance of spirit for ourselves and those we love.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy: I thought long and hard about this one – it is, after all, Number 8, and we’ve already learned how powerful that can be! It therefore follows that this intention should bring together everything I want for myself, going forward. Happiness has to come from within – it’s not linked to a destination, a person or an achievement. I need to be 100% Happy to be Me, and release any worries about what might go wrong in this process. I always tell my lovely friends and clients that they alone are responsible for their own happiness. It doesn’t come from the dream home, the dream job, or the perfect partner – it comes from knowing that you deserve to be happy, and being happy now. It’s that Attitude of Gratitude again – count your blessings and you will have even more reasons to be thankful. Now I need to listen to my own excellent advice!
Your own Lion’s Gate and New Moon practices
How you articulate and celebrate your intentions is of course entirely up to you. If you don’t want to do anything specific, then don’t. Just thinking about your intentions brings them into reality, there doesn’t have to be a set routine or ritual, unless that’s what you want. I will just mention that setting down your intentions in writing does seem to add more manifesting power to the elbow of the Universe though! I would definitely recommend making a List of 8 for Lion’s Gate.
My own plan is to sit with my list at midnight, in my garden, with the trees around me. We may not be able to see the New Moon, but its energies are there for us to absorb. I will also have my selenite unicorn horn, as I read through my intentions and visualise how they will work for me. Then I will place the list under my pillow, and do what I do every night before I sleep – I’ll thank the Universe for the blessings of the day. Tonight, as every other night, I will go to sleep with a grateful heart. Love and blessings to you all.
Just over a year ago, I shared this visualisation after being given it by Spirit to help friends who were feeling anxious about the effect Covid-19 was having on their lives. We couldn’t have known then that we would still be under restrictions from the pandemic as I write this in May 2021, but the focus seems to have changed for many people. We are learning to live with Covid, but we are finding it difficult to cope with the uncertainties of our lives, and this is causing anxiety now, rather than any fear of catching the disease itself.
A recurrent theme for me in recent readings is that people are wondering what the future holds, and also blaming themselves for not coping well with the pandemic. We feel we should be more supportive of our loved ones, and we should be handling things better than we are. Wake up call time: if the world’s governments can’t get a real grip on the ongoing situation, with all the expert advice at their disposal, don’t you think it’s asking a lot of yourself to do better?
The truth is, there is no blueprint for handling this type of situation, where pretty much everything is out of our hands, and we can’t see how it can be resolved. And that sends us into a downward spiral of overthinking, which commandeers our thought processes to the extent that all we can focus on is our failure to deal with stuff. And it’s not confined to Covid either. When something triggers a memory from the past, we are reminded of our perceived failings there as well, so we beat ourselves up even more. And all of this is stealing our joy in the present moment – because despite the pandemic and the restrictions still in place which are keeping us apart from our loved ones, there is a lot to be thankful for.
When we talk about the Law of Attraction, we need to keep in mind that the idea of ‘What you put out is what you get back,’ while accurate, is also a little simplistic. The Universe is very good at picking up on what we give our focus to, but it’s not so hot on differentiating between what we want more of, and what we want less of. Because we give a lot of energy via thought waves to issues of concern, the Universe identifies that it’s important to us, and therefore it sends more for us to worry about, rather than helping us to navigate through our current concerns. This in turn muddles our thinking even more, so the answers seem ever more distant.
Cutting energetic cords brings a calmness to your mind that helps you to step back and get more clarity around the situation, thereby opening up the way for your intuition to help you resolve things in the best way possible for all concerned. I’ve now been given a new visualisation, which I often use before readings, as it helps my clients to be more receptive to guidance from Spirit and the Angels. I’m going to share it now with you, with love.
Cord cutting visualisation with Archangel Michael:
Sit or lie comfortably, somewhere free from distractions and interruptions. This just takes a few minutes, but you may wish to meditate on how you feel or just reflect on the visualisation afterwards, so allow yourself enough time.
Close your eyes and take three deep breaths, breathing in pure white love to a count of three through the nose, hold the breath for three, then exhale through the mouth for three, releasing all tensions, doubts and anxieties as you go. You may want to give the ‘out’ breath a colour, say red or dark blue, then see it lighten with each breath as you release stress. If you still don’t feel completely relaxed, repeat the process until you do. Breath work is never wasted!
Now imagine you have a ball of black modelling clay in your hands. It’s quite small, but as you roll it around, see yourself adding layers by transferring all your concerns to the ball, and seeing it grow larger. When you feel that everything that’s worrying you has now been added to the ball, make a final layer from any subconscious worries and triggers you can’t even bring to mind.
Attach a string to the ball. It doesn’t matter how long or short it is, or what it’s made from, it will be exactly the right length for your needs, so don’t worry about it – just know the string is there.
Now, take the end of the string between your thumb and forefinger, and cup the ball containing everything that no longer serves you in the palm of your hand. Fling it as hard and as far as you can, and watch it go out of sight.
Because you are still attached to the ball via the string, it comes bouncing back towards you, very fast, but not fast enough!
Now call on Archangel Michael to step forward with his Sword of Light and cut through the energetic cords represented by the string in your hand. See the sword – which is a bit like Darth Vader’s Lightsabre, only it’s used for good, rather than evil – slice through the cord with one blow.
Once again, watch the black ball go from your sight. Interestingly, now Archangel Michael has severed the energetic cords, it has no power or strength, and drifts aimlessly out of sight. And it doesn’t come back.
Thank Archangel Michael for his help. You may feel a comforting presence, like a hug, around your shoulders. If you don’t, don’t worry, just trust that he is there, because you called on him for help.
When you feel ready, bring yourself back to the here and now and open your eyes. If you want to take some time to meditate or reflect on your visualization, now is the best time, while it’s all fresh. to you
Whenever I run through this with my clients, they look and feel happier, lighter and more relaxed, and you will too. How does this happen? It’s a mixture of intentionally shifting your energy focus, and the magical workings of Archangel Michael. Don’t overthink it – just enjoy those lovely feelings, and the clarity of thought that comes with it.
Cutting energetic cords is like peeling an onion, sometimes you need to go through more layers to get to the best bits, so do this exercise whenever you feel the need to. If you’re overwhelmed, or your thoughts are negative, do a cord cutting visualisation. There are always things to leave behind. This is particularly powerful at the time of the Full Moon, which is traditionally a good time to release anything that no longer serves you.
You may wish to record the visualisation, so you can listen to it playing back and give your energy your full attention. Or why not do it with a friend, taking turns to guide each other through the process? However you choose to cut cords, enjoy the experience, and let me know how you get on with it. Love and blessings.
Luna has been with me for almost two years now, and finally, we’re starting to address the issues she has as a result of being abandoned three times in the 18 months before she came to live with me. She’s been beaten, used in fights and lived as a street dog, and although she’s the most loving dog, she’s also feisty, independent, and needs to learn some manners!
She started to finally settle with me when I brought her back to Spain in September 2020, after almost a year in England due to family matters and Covid. It’s like she suddenly thought, maybe I really HAVE come home now. Things moved further in the right direction when I was lucky enough to find Smart Dog Academy in Daya Vieja. Academy owner Teresa believes in making training fun and using positive reinforcement to build a bond of trust and co-operation between dogs and their guardians. She also runs private sessions for dogs like Luna, who have problems with distraction and trust, and she advised that this would be the best path to take initially.
Luna has clearly never been allowed to just be a puppy, due to her start in life, and she’s making up for it now. She sees everything as a game, and doesn’t think about respect for other people’s space or property. Like I said, she has no manners, and while she might be a female dog, she is nothing like a lady! Add snoring loudly and farts that could easily be adapted for Weapons of Mass Destruction, and you can see why I introduce her like this:
This is Luna, short for Luna-tic!
Several months of hard work and patience is finally paying off, and Luna’s behaviour has improved in ways I could never have dreamed of. However, despite her best intentions, she frequently goes off the rails. Luna being Luna, she doesn’t do things by halves either. She’s like the little girl in the nursery rhyme with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she’s good, she’s very, very good, but when she’s bad, she’s horrid!
Luna came to me through an appeal of Facebook to take her in until a home could be found for her, and as such, she’s instantly recognisable in the area. Many of my Facebook friends follow her adventures, and one of them, Carolynn Barclay, wrote this lovely poem for her:
Luna and me, we got thrown together.
As soon as we met, I knew it was forever.
She’d issues galore, that I knew we’d to treat.
But I loved her so much, I wouldn’t be beat.
We headed to classes, training a must,
We struggled, we fought, we had to gain trust.
We’d to challenge the fact, she loved to chase bikes,
Skateboards and cars. Whatever moved! Yikes!
We give her a toy, and it’s destroyed right away.
But that’s no reason to tell her, she can no longer stay.
There’s none of us perfect, we all just need love.
I know that our Luna, was sent from above.
The joy that she gives me, and the love I get back,
More than makes up, for when she goes off the track.
We’ll get there I’m sure, as I never give up.
With the help of my Angels, I’ll have the best pup.
At the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, Carolynn started writing poems every day to pass the time and lift her own spirits, and those of her readers. A year and 600 rhymes later, Carolyn has published her first book, My Life of Rhyme.
Carolynn has a real talent for getting to the heart of the matter and making you smile, think, cry or all three with her verses. When, a few days later, I posted about Luna’s weekend off the rails, she wrote another one. The strain of being a Very Good Girl had clearly got too much for Luna to bear, so first of all she bisected the new hosepipe – which we’d had to buy because she chopped the previous one into three pieces. Then she decided as the weather was getting warmer, we needed open-toed slippers. Finally, she decided a bird who came into the house would be fun to play with, so she picked him up and took him down to the garden with her other toys. Unfortunately, although she was very gentle and never made a mark on the bird – she really did just want to play – it died of fright. It’s little body didn’t have a mark on it, but 25 kilos of Staffie cross charging round the garden was just too much for its heart to take. After giving the poor bird a blessing to speed him into the next life, I reported the weekend’s shenanigans, and quick as a flash, this came back:
Ok Luna, enuff’s enuff.
You’ve taken it all too far.
We’re working on the skateboard issue,
And even the chasing cars.
But, chewing a hose pipe?
Oh, come on. That really is not on.
Youve plenty toys to amuse yourself,
But no. My hose pipes gone.
Don’t get me started, on my footwear.
When the hospipe game was done,
You went and chewed on half a slipper,
Now I’ve only one!
But worst of all, was the poor wee bird,
Although, you only wished to play.
Unfortunately, he didn’t that memo get,
Now he won’t see another day.
R.I.P. poor wee bird.
Lunas energy, suddenly soared.
There’s nothing for it, Sandra, take a breath,
It’s back to the drawing board.
Yes, Luna’s a handful, but she’s also a beautiful, loving soul who has endured so much yet still holds love in her heart for everyone. She’s very much worth the effort to tame her hooligan streak. And when it all gets too much, I have friends like Carolynn to help me see the lighter side. I am truly blessed with my friends – and yes, with Luna too!
I find a recurring theme in my psychic readings at the moment is self blame. We’re all beating ourselves up for not coping with the ongoing situation around Covid-19. Why should we expect ourselves to master the challenges of being isolated, putting normal life on hold and processing grief, when even the so-called experts don’t have the answers? Well, we shouldn’t, but we do!
The sad thing is, we tend to build an emotional wall around our heart space to keep away the hurt, and all it does is to hurt us even more. The human heart is designed for unconditional love – we are born with wonder in our hearts, and the ability to live in the moment and appreciate everything around us. However, for most of us, this state of wonder doesn’t last. We’re either talked out of it by our parents, or we talk ourselves out of it. Instead of being open, trusting and loving, we go into defence mode, especially in challenging situations like the one we’re experiencing now.
Would it surprise you to learn that the best way to protect yourself is to allow yourself to be more vulnerable? Yes, it sounds mad, but it actually works. The defence mechanisms we construct around ourselves, physically and emotionally, stem from fear, and fear is a low vibrational energy. However, we are divine beings of creation, and we are designed to live naturally in the higher vibration of the soul.
How can we do this in challenging times? One simple yet effective way is to intentionally open your heart centre to love. Here’s a simple visualisation for you to try.
Visualisation to open up your heart centre and give and receive love more readily
Sit with your feet firmly on the floor in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes, and take in a deep breath through the nose. Imagine you are breathing in Archangel Chamuel’s pink ray of love. Hold the breath for a count of three, then exhale for three, releasing any tension in the body. Repeat this three times.
Place both hands over your heart centre, left hand closest to the body, right hand over it. Imagine that, beneath your hands, there is a warm pink glow. See its colour, feel its warmth. Know it is your soul connecting with your heart.
See this glow expand to fill your chest cavity, and then break out from your body and surround you in the glow of love. You may feel your hands moving at this point as your heart centre expands. Don’t resist it – go with what happens. It’s all good, and it’s all what you need, right now, so embrace it and enjoy it.
You can also connect with a loved one as you do this, either on the earth plane or in Spirit. Simply visualise them doing the same thing, and see the glow from your two heart centres meet and merge. Stay with this for as long as you need to or want to.
When you are ready, draw your pink glow of unconditional love back into your own body, and see it leave a glow all around you as it retracts. Think the Ready Brek advert, but in pink, and always there!
Thank Archangel Chamuel for his help in opening up your heart centre, open your eyes and take a drink of water. This helps to ground your energies back into the room after this powerful visualisation.
I use this visualisation during psychic readings when appropriate, and I love how it makes clients feel. They look visibly lighter and glowing, and it can be a profound emotional experience, particularly if they link heart centres with a loved one. It’s a great way to counteract the feelings of loss we are all experiencing while we can’t meet up at will with loved ones, and you will probably find that they feel the glow too, even though they may not realise what it is.
Look out for comments like, ‘I thought of you earlier, and I had the most fantastic feeling of warmth and happiness.’ That means your heart centres connected on a much deeper level than the purely physical. Why not share this visualisation with them? It’s a fabulous gift. Let me know how you get on with this – I’d love to hear your experiences. Love and blessings.
For five years now, Julie Mills has been running Cinders Pre-Loved Fashion, a dress agency in the heart of Algorfa. She started off in a back room in Mailpoint (now Mary Girona Dance School on Avenida Maria del Mar Rodriguez), and for the last three years has traded from the shop on the corner opposite, next to Meson Algorfa, or the Red Bar, as it’s known locally.
In case you don’t know, a dress agency is a step up from a charity shop, and the charity begins at home, in this case. You take in your good quality clothes, Julie inspects them, and if they meet her high standards, she will sell them for you on a 50/50 basis. So if that dress that’s never seen the light of day since you bought it sells for €10, you get €5 and Julie gets €5, and everyone’s happy, because your mistake is somebody else’s dream dress, and they’ve got it for a price that won’t keep them awake at night.
I’ve bought a number of things from Cinders, and I’ve been delighted with all of them, in terms of price, quality and service. Julie has a keen eye for what will suit her customers, and she has a good range of items to accessorise your new purchases as well. The shop is beautifully laid out, and it’s a pleasure to just be there, because you get a warm welcome, and there’s so much to see and appreciate. It’s a timely reminder in this challenging period that there are still a lot of good things in life.
As we all come to terms with living with Covid 19 – because it’s not going anywhere any time soon – there are lots of reasons to shop at somewhere like Cinders, rather than heading for the crowded shops in Zenia Boulevard or the Habaneras Centre. Here’s why you should head down to Cinders Pre-Loved Fashion, even if we can’t go to the ball just yet!
It’s a safe and spacious shopping environment, and all the hygiene protocols are in place. All clothes that come into Cinders are steam cleaned before display, and steamed again after being tried on.
It’s a local business, and we should all be supporting them at this time. The less we travel, the safer we are, and Algorfa has one of the lowest incidences of infection in Alicante province.
You can make a bit of money by selling what you no longer wear, and you can save money on new purchases. Even if there’s nowhere to go right now, there will be soon, and there’s nothing like a shopping trip to lift your mood. At Cinders, you don’t have to stand in queues with strangers who may have come from Covid hotspots, and the store is large enough to allow for social distancing. There are even a couple of chairs outside, so that if you have to wait to enter, you can do so in comfort, in the sun.
Unlike on the markets, you won’t see rows and rows of the same dresses, simply because of the nature of the business. So while the prices in Cinders are on a par with the markets and Chinese bazaars, you’re getting more quality for your cash, and you won’t see dozens of people wearing the same dress or jacket.
If you live in Algorfa or any of the surrounding urbanisations, you are no more than 10 minutes’ drive from this fabulous shop, yet it’s surprising how many locals don’t even realise it’s there. So tell your friends on La Finca, Montemar, Lo Crispin and Montebello to get down to Cinders and take a look. And yes, there is a glass slipper there, although Prince Charming is already taken!
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 10.00 am – 2.00 pm
In Part 1 of this feature, I introduced you to the basics of chakra balancing. It’s here, if you missed it. I intended to add the visualisation, but I decided it would be better to have it separate from the main article, so you don’t have to wade through it every time you want to balance your chakras.
As I mentioned, chakras are invisible energy centres, usually thought of as wheels, since the word itself derives from the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’ or ‘circle.’ In this visualisation, I use the wheel concept to spin, clear and cleanse the chakras. It’s a really simple visualisation that anyone can do, whether they are experienced in energy work or not.
When I conduct chakra balancing sessions at Sandra’s Soul Cave in Algorfa, I use crystals, an energy generator and various visualisations. I also bring in Archangels and spirit guides for a profound experience that leaves the client relaxed and feeling lighter and more positive. It’s a fabulous experience, and the good news is, you can recreate it at home
You don’t even need to use crystals, although they do serve to raise the energetic vibrations, focus your intent, and give you an idea of where you should be directing the energy flow during the visualisation. This is how it works.
Visualisation for clearing and aligning the 7 main chakra centres
As with any spiritual practice, it pays to be in a state of relaxation before you begin, so take the time to breathe in through the nose for a count of three, hold for three, then exhale through the mouth for three. Do this 3 – 5 times, then follow these simple instructions.
Check your energy by holding a pendulum above each chakra in turn. If they are blocked, the pendulum will hardly move. If the energy is flowing freely, it will swing around in a circle. The lower, more physical chakras are more likely to be blocked than the higher ones, but you need to align all the chakras for best results.
Place each of the crystals alongside the relevant chakras, according to the guide in Part 1 of this feature. The crystal positions don’t need to be precise, as long as they are in the general vicinity of the chakra centres.
Close your eyes, and visualise the root chakra as a wheel. Imagine it turning clockwise, in a steady spin. When you have achieved the desired effect, do the same with the sacral chakra, but keep the momentum going with the root chakra, so they spin in alignment.
Repeat this process through all the chakras – solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, crown – allowing 30 seconds to a minute for each one. Imagine that you are building a spinning pole, similar to an old-fashioned barber’s pole, all the way up through your torso.
Once all 7 chakra wheels are steadily spinning in alignment, slow down the process by reversing the spin so the wheels are now spinning anti-clockwise.
Wait until your body feels normal again, and the wheels are no longer spinning, then take a drink of water to ground yourself.
Now check the energy in each of the chakra points with the pendulum once more. You should see a marked improvement, and you will feel relaxed and lighter. Repeat this ritual whenever you feel your energies need clearing to flow more readily.
You can use this visualisation for yourself, guide others through it, or even do a simultaneous chakra balancing with your partner or a friend. Lie on the floor or the bed, and set out the crystals between you before beginning the visualisation and leading your companion through it with you. You’ll find the increased energy levels will benefit each of you, and it’s a great way to strengthen your soul connection.
I hope this visualisation will help you connect with your energy on a deeper level than ever before. Let me know how you get on – I’d love to know.
In these challenging times, more and more people are turning to spirituality and self care as a reliable way to stay sane and attempt to make sense of what is happening in the world. We can’t control it, but we can control our own response to events, and how we think about them. Positive thinking is a big help in times like these, because thoughts are energy, and whatever energies we put out, we receive back under the Law of Attraction.
One way to raise your energy with positive thinking is to regularly check and balance your chakras. In case you didn’t know, chakras are invisible centres of energy in the body, and when they are in alignment, your kundalini – life flow – is in balance, and you feel good physically, emotionally and mentally. However, if the chakras are off balance, due to stress, worry or physical causes, your energy is stuck.
While you may not exactly feel like your root chakra, for example, is off balance or even blocked, it will manifest in some way. Physically, you may experience lower body symptoms such as back pain or constipation, you may be fatigued, or eat more than is good for you. Emotionally, you may be quick to anger, fearful and worried about financial matters, because the root chakra is linked to survival.
We’re not going deep into the chakras here, although I do intend to do a series of articles on the topic soon. Energy management is always important for physical and emotional health, but in these challenging times, it’s vital. The more you know about how your energetic body functions, the more control you have over your responses, and the happier you will be. Knowledge is power, after all!
As a psychic, clairvoyant and energy healer, I offer full chakra balancing, cleansing and clearing. It’s a fabulous experience, including visualisations, and working with Archangels, spirit guides and crystals. It’s very therapeutic for both the client and the practitioner, and afterwards, you will feel lighter, happier and stronger.
However, you don’t need me, or anyone else, from this life or the next, to balance your own chakras. As long as you have somewhere quiet and comfortable where you will be undisturbed and you can visualise or at least imagine stuff happening in your body, you can balance your chakras any time you feel it’s necessary.
You don’t need to use crystals, but they do enhance the energies and give you a focal point to work with. And you can even do a simultaneous chakra balancing by lying on the floor or the bed with your partner, family member or like-minded friend and placing the appropriate chakra crystals between you.
It’s also handy to have a pendulum to check the energy in each chakra before and after balancing. This is especially helpful if you are new to energy work and are not yet able to feel the energies for yourself. (Don’t worry – that skill will come. We all have the ability to heal, even if we haven’t yet realised it!)
Crystals for chakra work
Here’s a brief rundown of some of the best crystals to work with for clearing your chakras. You may be drawn to different crystals, and that’s fine. Go with what your intuition tells you.
Root or base chakra: Choose red or black crystals for grounding. Haematite, Red Jasper, Black Tourmaline and Red Aventurine work well.
Sacral chakra: Orange crystals such as Carnelian and Orange Calcite help restore creativity and motivation.
Solar Plexus chakra: Use yellow crystals like Citrine and Yellow Jasper, to help you boost your personal power by setting healthy boundaries.
Heart chakra: This is the bridge between the physical and spiritual body. I like to use green and pink crystals, to help clear the physical and emotional elements of the heart. Choose Moss Agate or Green Aventurine for better circulation and metabolism, and Rose Quartz for self care and unconditional love.
Throat chakra: The communication chakra benefits from blue stones such as Sodalite and Dumortierite. They will help with clear communication and self confidence.
Third Eye chakra: Calming Amethyst or Purple Fluorite will help improve your spiritual connection.
Crown chakra: Clear Quartz, the Master Healer crystal, brings clarity and helps your connection with the Divine and your own Higher Consciousness.
Now you have the information you need to balance your chakras at home, are you ready to try it for yourself? Great! I’ll see you in Part 2 for the visualisation. Love and blessings.
As we approach February 14, St Valentine’s Day, and our thoughts turn to love, we should remember there are many variations on the theme. Those on a spiritual journey realise that there is a love that’s even more important than love for your partner, parents, children and friends, or even your fellow humans. It’s unconditional love, and it includes love for yourself.
Self love isn’t selfish, it’s essential, because if you don’t love and respect yourself, you can’t expect any one else to love and respect you. It’s not about being unbearably arrogant, either. The truth is, the person we are most critical of is usually ourselves, and most of the time, that criticism is unwarranted and unjust. We set impossibly high standards for ourselves, and when we inevitably fall short of them, we beat ourselves up about it, and end up feeling worse than ever.
So, how can we stop this cycle of self-blame? By learning to show the same unconditional love to ourselves as we lavish on our loved ones, that’s how! If it seems like an impossible ask, well, it isn’t – you just need to shift your thinking, and crystals can help you do that, especially rose quartz, also known as the Love Stone.
How rose quartz can help you and heal you
Everything is energy, and rose quartz resonates with a gentle yet powerful healing energy that can soothe anger, help heal a broken heart, help with the grieving process, and open up the heart centre to give and receive love.
Placed in the relationship corner of the home, or on the bedside table, it can attract love to the occupants and visitors, and encourage intimacy and harmony in existing relationships. A rose quartz sphere in the centre of the living area will radiate love to everyone who enters the space, and also transmute negative energies and restore peace and tranquility.
Rose quartz is a beautiful stone to look at, and its soft shades of pink can be either milky opaque or translucent. In its natural state, the crystal has soft, undulating edges rather than the more geometric shapes of other varieties of quartz. It polishes beautifully too, and can be carved into lovely shapes, such as angels or hearts. It makes you smile just to look at it, which gives an instant boost to your mood.
Holding a rose quartz during meditation helps to bring you into a serene, relaxed state, while sleeping with it under your pillow will ensure a peaceful night’s sleep and encourage beautiful dreams. Rose quartz can also help with self esteem, and allow you to know yourself more thoroughly and connect with your emotions.
On a physical level, rose quartz can help lower blood pressure, boost circulation, and also ease the symptoms of vertigo. A dear friend of mine saw a marked improvement after just a few days of carrying a crystal around during the day and sleeping with it under her pillow at night.
Rose Quartz visualisation to send and receive love
When you are missing someone dear to you, hold a rose quartz crystal over your heart, close your eyes and imagine the crystal is igniting a ball of pink energy in your heart centre. See it grow until it extends outside your body. Now imagine that same ball of energy in the heart of your loved one (or loved ones – you can send love to more than one person at a time. If you are missing your grandchildren, for example, include them all in this visualisation).
Now see the two balls of energy connecting, and love flowing between them in both directions. I have conducted this visualisation with clients who are feeling disconnected from loved ones here on Earth and in Spirit. It’s a very powerful and emotional practice, which leaves you feeing happy and serene.
When you are ready, visualise the pink balls of energy separating, and your own body returning to normal. Sit quietly for a few moments, then take a drink of water and thank the Universe and your crystal for helping you give and receive pure, unconditional love.
If you don’t already have a rose quartz crystal in your collection, I hope this brief introduction to its uses and healing properties has encouraged you to acquire one. Why not drop a subtle hint to your significant other? After all, what better gift can you give for Valentine’s Day than the gift of pure, unconditional love! Love and blessings to everyone reading this.
Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website, spainlifestyle.com, she describes herself as:
An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.
Karla has a BA Hons, and is also a photographer, author and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars. Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.
From the first sentence, I was hooked, because I share Karla’s passion for dogs and Spanish culture. I also firmly believe that once you stop learning, you stop living, and there’s a lot of learning packed into the 70 pages of this book.
Don’t let that put you off though – Karla has a wonderful way with words that makes absorbing knowledge a pleasure, and she also has a great sense of humour.
Describing how court painters Velazquez and Goya painted their royal sponsors, she points out that Velazquez was very keen to underplay the facial deformities resulting from the interbreeding of the Habsburg monarchs. Spanish kings loved to be painted in full hunting dress, with their faithful – and generally subservient – hounds by their sides. It subtly emphasised the idea, first verbalised in the Bible, that Man has dominion over the beasts. (Genesis 1: 26, 27)
Goya, on the other hand, preferred to focus on the real beauty of his subjects, or as Karla puts it:
Velazquez used his admirable inventiveness to hide the protruding lower lip and pronounced chin … Goya didn’t modify the royals … On the contrary, we see the monarch, (Carlos III) with his strange small face, beady eyes, and a great big honker of a nose.
Goya was certainly an artist after Karla’s own heart, using his skills to represent the true narrative and true worth of the subjects of his portraits. In his art, there is no doubt where his allegiances lie. Discussing the hunting portrait of Carlos IV and his hound, Karla notes:
Looking up at his master with adoration and fidelity, this dog is the most regal thing in this painting.
This fabulous book gives some great insights into the origins of the dog breeds in Spain. The ubiquitous Podencos arrived in Spain as a result of conquests and explorations over the centuries. It’s most likely that the Podencos came across from Algeria, while the distinctive Water Dogs came over with the Berbers during the first Muslim conquest of Spain. Today, there are still 49 different Water Dogs in Spain.
Another typically Spanish dog, the Galgo, or Greyhound, is believed to have landed on the Iberian Peninsula with the Celts. There’s plenty of contemporary artwork, in the shape of cave paintings, engravings and pottery, to support these theories, and it’s uncanny to see the resemblance between these ancient canine ancestors and the Spanish dogs we are so familiar with today.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Spanish found another use for dogs, but it’s not one of their proudest moments. The inventors of the Inquisition had a favourite torture method which involved chaining prisoners, then allowing them to be savaged by Mastiffs. Today, these gentle giants are more noted for their loving, faithful nature, which is typical of Man’s Best Friend.
Overall though, this is an upbeat book, and Karla soon lifts the mood by informing the reader of the term that was used for this barbaric practice. It was called – wait for it – dogging! That’s quite a juxtaposition for modern audiences to deal with, since ‘dogging’ has come to mean having sex with strangers in the open air. In fact, in the popular television sitcom Benidorm, the eponymous resort is said to have a designated ‘Dogging Beach!’
Karla wraps up the book with the tale – or should that be tail? – of Pablo Picasso’s beloved Dachsund, Lump. Lump arrived in 1957 with photographer David Douglas Duncan, who was doing a feature on Picasso, and never left the artist’s side until his death in March 1973. Picasso followed Lump across the Rainbow Bridge just 10 days later. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a suitably emotional ending for a book about the creatures that inspire so many emotions in their human guardians.
There are so many interesting anecdotes, culture connections and light moments that describing Spanish Dogs as just a book about dogs is a bit like saying Jose Carreras, one third of the Three Tenors, is ‘just a singer.’ If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this. Get your copy here, and settle down for a rattling good read.