My Story by Joanne Cousins

There was a moment before I could talk that my parents popped their heads around the door to see me babble….pause and babble some more to a particular spot of unseen in the Victorian mid-terraced. I look back on their story-telling and conjure up a red-headed man sporting a simple moustache wearing a tweed suit. Apparently they looked at each other. ‘There’s something about Jo.’

I spent most of my nights curled in a ball astral travelling as I know it now. I could not understand why I would have a wet bed come the morning when I had already ‘gone’ to the toilet. Yet I never got as far as down the stairs as putting my ‘feet’ down on the steps sent me back into my body. I could only float rather than fly and only if my hands were tucked tightly under my knees.

I was Christened at less than a year old and spent my younger years with the Children’s bible and playing kiss chase with the page boy as a toddler  bridesmaid or singing Jesus loves the little children.

The ‘80s was full of witchy influence. Not in terms of external witness but on the tv and school.

Grot Bags, The Worst Witch, Simon and the Witch, Granny’s Garden (a BBC computer game where a wrong move would get you caught by the witch!)

I look at my old school writing books. I went through a phase of wishing for magic books, cats, pretending to be Dorry the Little Witch  (a series of books written in the ‘60’s I believe; I have wondered since if the other knew of Doreen though I have a feeling research lead me to America.)

I revelled with my Paul Daniel’s magic trick set though I knew it was a different kind of magic.

I would tell older boys at junior school I was a witch. When asked to prove it I did a rope trick but when they realised how to do it, they wanted more proof.  I looked at the world around me in the playground; the rooftops, the skyline and I had an instinct for predictability. I pointed to a chimney top. ‘See that cloud by the chimney top?’ ‘Yeah’ came the reply. ‘Well a plane is going to come out of it any second!’  Of course they were in awe when they saw it coming out, not realising that I had been observant enough to see it going in and pre-determine its trajectory.

It was the start of the world of observation of the senses.  I clung to nature in our long garden, predicting the appearance of spiders along the border and standing giggling as ants tickled my toes and I loved to stroke bees. I could smell ladybirds before I could see them.

Unfortunately fur was still in fashion and I would find comfort be it from my mums rabbit fur moccasins or my aunts bear coat that I would hug as it hung in her corridor.

I loved nature walks and would be the one to find caterpillars and creatures hanging from silks from branches.
We camped annually, dad even caught a rainbow trout once for mum to cook. My brother and I would play cricket though we’d sometimes drift to make camp friends. By aged 8, we’d already moved to a modern semi detached house for a year and I’d spend many a happy hour playing in the attic. That camping trip I talked to a girl my own age and we started a conversation on shooting stars. It was not long after that that I saw one go over. My first case of serendipity and a feeling of being so big and small at the same time in the universe.

There was a canal leading into the river Trent and a fishing pond nearby so we would sometimes walk or cycle as a family to see the ducks and swans, play on the tyre swing at the pub and if we were lucky, get an ice cream. The art on the narrow boats appealed to me. We were lucky enough to take a ride out on one once; even saw Rosy and Jim on the old Ragdoll! There’s a photo of me somewhere dredging up muck from a riverside digger as a children’s environmental activity to make us more mindful of litter and the wildlife.

I found myself getting more spiritual as I got older. I found out one of my friends who I had known from the age of 4, had a muscular dystrophy that was terminal. It had never occurred to me despite his degeneration from walking to wheelchairs of different types that he wouldn’t be on the planet for as long as I.  I was 15 by this time, having already spent time using a wheelchair myself after major bilateral leg correction surgery.

There in my teens I felt a double sensation of innocence lost; I was growing up, my childhood was behind me and faith became something other than what my family chose to tell me or keep from me.

I was not the best goth; the fact that my dad said I looked awesome was not the rebel response I had hoped for. I was a good teen really but could be easily as moody; yet my respect for their rules gave me more reward like going out later etc.

I was more academic than streetwise but I was a very dreamy romantic and was more passionate about English Literature than maths. I was quite interested in religious education though most of my classmates would goof around so I never got a chance to develop it in a school setting.  

I came out with GCSE’s
English  Language A
French B
Physics B
Design and technology B
Chemisty C
Biology C
English Lit C
Maths C
History C

Sixth form was a flop though I did have a group of friends which we went exploring with. One friend and I were behind the others and came across a tiny church on the top of a grassy bank. We could hear singing from inside. She opened the door but as she did, the singing stopped… there was no one inside!

Failing Plant biology and psychology I ditched sixth form and went to college to learn Advanced GNVQ health and social care.

It was here that I first found the occult section. It felt naughty at first… taboo… but the section was there and my curiosity got the better of me. I was 17 and drawing my first pentagram. It was here I learned the Cabbalistic Cross (though for years I called it Cabbaltic!)  

I still only thought of god despite knowing that there were deities of Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. I hadn’t really connected the dots.

So here I was, doing god spells; creating black slime mild from goodness knows what in a test tube and shallow burying it in the grave of my old rabbit in the name of God (because dad had made a little white cross for her when she passed 5 years before.)

It was a homemade protection spell for a friend who was being bullied. I left it there for a good long while; several months I believe… until one day I figured it was probably a load of nonsense, emptied it out and later found out that my friend had been attacked that night by the person I had been protecting her from!

It was here-on that I started to believe in cause and effect. That somethings need continual bindings, sometimes you delay the inevitable and sometimes you just have to keep the faith because the universe is listening.

I bought my first tarot deck aged 18 from a New age shop in Ilkeston. It was around £28 which was a lot for me. It was called the Goddess tarot.
The art work was stunning though in hindsight, not the best first deck to read. Even here with the big clue about Goddesses, It wouldn’t be for another 9 years (2007) before it was truly pointed out to me the balance in nature of a god and a goddess. Even then, I remember feeling and uplifting sigh of relief that this ‘man in the sky’ had a female counterpart and didn’t have to do it all on his own. Oh what I have learned since!

Anyway, Jump to December 2000. My instinct to see my friend with muscular dystrophy is strong. I had written a letter thanking him for being my friend all these years though our schools and paths had changed and our Halloween parties and bonfire nights were not what they use to be.

I didn’t know he was dying, even when I asked if he was comfortable. He looked at the door and stopped breathing. I felt his pulse go then I felt his spirit leave. It was as though a gentle breeze had got up and brushed passed me. I had only been there half an hour. Apparently he had been asking for me too. There was many years of pain following this… the not knowing, the guilt of wishing that his mum and dad (separated but under the same roof) were not the ones in the room in his last moments.  The strangeness of being chosen to witness this. The later guilt of CPR when I found out he was DNR. Love and a sense of betrayal through secrecy confused all together and all I knew was at his age of 19 (myself 20) was standing with eulogy, saying goodbye. He and another childhood friend taken at 17, have trees rather than headstones and I think through their deaths, my pagan path was firmly cemented.

Depression kicked in . I was at Uni,  away from home. Studying to be a learning disability nurse. I wondered if my friend had somehow been my muse as was my cousin with cerebral palsy. These loved ones worth fighting for realistically wouldn’t be me at the other end of care. He had gone. Why couldn’t I go too?  Survivor guilt.

I tried to bond with classmates; was able to give an accurate reading to one student; I could see she had made the decision to drop out.

The terror attacks happened and bright sunshine became my enemy. I thought it nuclear end; would have me half-perched under tables given a chance.

I had time off, took some pills, got through my uni years and had 4 years  of  nursing before anxiety and doubt got the better of me. My stomach lurched as though going over a hill come work time.

I lived with my fiancé though found myself turning our spare bedroom into a chaotic sacred space of fantasy art I had created, crystals and occult books. I would spend some of my free time in Chilwell looking at another new age shop where I would purchase my first Athame, a silver-plated pentagram in the shape of wands, a guide to creating your own book of shadows, a Kate West Witches handbook, an aura spray for calling on Raphael as I was also getting into angels and a book on angels in magic.

It was in hindsight, it was the air elemental that I was mostly drawn to and being a dreamy, romantic Libran, it suited me well.

I was in a club one night when a gentleman approached.
“I’m not coming on to you; I’m here with my Mrs. I sense that you have energy about you.” I explained that I was about to go on a Crystal diploma course. “That’s good; but before you do, go and do reiki.”

With that he disappeared into the club and I contemplated his words. Sure enough there was a class in the Magic Thread (possibly The Magic Sage by then) by a Mr Martin White. He taught us how to see auras and though I wasn’t brave enough to speak up, I mouthed the word ‘orange’ just as he said it.

Reiki can give you a healing crisis. Things can change. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes in a big way.

Calling out to the angels, I asked to find a way to go to Fatima to do some healing. It is a place in Portugal that has had children sighting Mother Mary and Raphael healing connection.

Meanwhile , A lady in Nottingham was having a tarot reading saying that a 26year older woman with brown hair would be coming to help and would grow with the shop.

When I saw the advertisement for a carer for a pagan business woman in Nottingham, I felt it was just the job for me. I could take a step down from nursing but enjoy my spiritual journey too. I replied to the P.O. Box with my CV on cream parchment and a little pentacle near my phone number.

It was a 45min drive to the interview but there I went with my hippy skirt and Buffy backpack and we got on like a house on fire. The shop, The Mystic Moon was in transition from its old home in Carlton to Sherwood. It was a family affair with her sister and nephew both giving and needing support.

Going back to the Fatima manifestation, it was three months in before I found out it was her middle name!! I was taught reiki 2 and went on to do Maat Selhem reiki and my Usui Masters. … Healing at Fatima!

It was only a year in that my fiancé and I split. He didn’t like my new ways though he must have freaked a little that I anticipated that the fortune card he was about to crumple in in his hand was indeed the lucky black cat!

My adventures since 2007 have been amazing;

The car in front of us in Minehead dissapeared and we were facing an edge with our lights off in the dark. During a hypnosis session; it turned out that this was a UFO encounter and we had been gone a few hours! We were wearing moldavites and tektites just to let you know. The beaming process on recall I could feel. It was like my bellybutton vacuuming me inside out until time and space folded in and I felt 2D . (Think of the baddies in Superman being trapped in that 2D square). I could draw the unmanned craft from the inside and out!

A falcon sat on my head in Soroya‘s garden; I acknowledged a Horus connection. He corresponds with my birth month.

A hedgehog came an sat at
my feet during a midnight compulsion to call out to the triple goddess in the corn field. (Came from the maiden path I had divided the three routes into.)

 I have called for Hecate at a crossroads and seen a black dog sat there the next day. She also appeared as a bat as I honoured her with cauldron pomegranate and an unlit solar torch. The bat turned it on with its dark wings!

I have seen a rabbit also at a crossroads when I have called on Papa Legba and felt Erzulies kiss as I planted garlic for her by a stream.

I have had cows approach me at Cadbury Castle hill top; the matriarch nodding to the cow with the sore udders to approach for healing.

I have had to drive slow through a field track towards Glastonbury Tor during the super moon because a hare was leading the procession and would not move off the road, whilst buzzards watched from the tree tops.

I have done house blessings with washes, sage, salts and singing bowls; used pendulums to find negative energy be it spiritual or place of human argument/ historical pain. Even to find pets; dead or alive.

I have had spirit enter my to channel reiki, experienced sound baths, had past-life regressions and been able to find some accuracy to street names /historical facts.

I’ve heard a male voice in another language in my head that I was able to google translate.

I’ve had fae orbs welcome me to the house I live in now. It twirled around my leg and went into my outer thigh. It later re emerged and went into my book, only to disappear in the open page.  

I had a fluorescent yellow bodied spider drink the fairy ink I had made off my still drying page and turn around on my thumb nail to watch me write.

 I witnessed my old ginger cat Frank (since deceased)  shapeshift into the Morrigan in the night, having only been an apparition when I went to pick him up. The hooded image broke down into hundreds of bird shadows and scattered over my bedroom when I acknowledged her for who she was.

I have seen a trickster apparition that withered to nothing when I pointed out that it was on a devil trap Solomons Triangle.

I have acknowledged that Triangles and circles I woke up with on my arm (some raised, some imprinted), were as close to any sign or symbology that I have come across, having debunked the cause as from bed springs, mattress patterns etc. The only other circle in triangle that I have come across was an angelic rune for Raphael.

As can be seen, my pagan and angelic paths are still very mixed but I am wholly open to elementals, channelling energy, continuous study. Even now, I have finished animal reiki and am studying Hecate more in depth than ever before.

My name is Joanne Cousins meaning ‘related to a Gracious God’. I’m still loving the fact that there’s a goddess too. I believe we are stardust and will eventually become that again. I miss something that I almost recall; like I remember what it is like to be a particle amongst many. No individual thought just a collective of pure energy heading into itself to create a new sun or big bang.

I’ve still not included the “Turn around” void at Lea Green,
The abandoned room of dead butterflies,
The faces when scrying,
The tendrils from the ceiling,
The sheep interfering with my ritual at nine ladies
The incense making and candle rolling,
Empathic tendencies
The psychic shopping list
Curing dads temporary blindness at age 5 or taking away mums headaches but getting them myself pre-reiki.

Perhaps another day.

So that is my story and this is me.

Thankyou for reading and blessed be.