“Star Light… Star Bright”

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She was sad. Dreadfully, bone achingly sad and weary both in spirit and body. Her husband had done his very best to reduce her, to consume her and quench her brilliance beneath his own dull cloak of mediocrity, tarnishing her shine with the black hole of everyday.

He ridiculed her beliefs, berated her values and derided her loves. Her rage burned dully, smouldered against his expectations of “Yes dear, no dear”, roasts on a Sunday, fish on a Friday and sex timetabled somewhere in between. She resented the physical intrusion, she hated his ageing body, the encroach of hair in unexpected places and the rigid, unbending mindset.

They had a son. The man tried to dim his particular sparkle; but he escaped and grew, unshackled from familial duty and set free by his mother. He watched and yearned from a distance as his mother struggled within.

Star Light, Star Bright…” she would chant the old rhyme with longing and love as she closed the bedroom curtains at night. Above her, the stars spun and sparkled in their golden cycle.

Then one day that was it, he had belittled her enough, she shone forth into super nova brilliance, lifted by rage, emboldened by hate.

The wild spirit of her heart broke free as it beat its wings against her empty ribcage and soared away unfettered into the dark.

The man married again, a dull, pleasant lady who was happy to have him think for her. The son? He watched and made his way in the world, touched sometimes by the wild spark of his mother, until at last, the brilliant shine faded to the warm glow of peace.

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Child

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My heart is filled with ghosts
Of the times when you
Were little,

The games we played
Adventures made
The life we shared together.

Now you are grown
And on your way
The time for me has passed.

Laughter and footsteps
Echo
In the chambers of my heart.

It is
As it should be.
And the days go by
Till I go home at last.

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Wardrobe

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She hated that wardrobe. It stood, hulking and ugly, in their small bedroom, occupying nearly all the wall it lay against.

It was fatly encased in ugly faux-pine veneer and had a mirrored double front – he’d insisted on that – and he would often stand before it, with his shirt off, pulling what he considered handsome faces and sucking in his enormous gut.

She hated it. She remembered the day it had been delivered. He had summoned her to help construct it and in his wisdom, he never bothered to read something as basic as instructions, preferring instead to get her to read them out so he could then shout at her for her stupidity and slowness in not passing him what he wanted before he even knew himself.

He made her cry about it, so she hated the wardrobe with a passion, its smirking ugly veneer and harsh mirrored surface intruding on her sleep at night times. It loomed threateningly over her while she tried to sleep and made ominous creaking noises. The mirrors showed the smallest blemish and were often covered in strange smears that she had to polish away.

He loved to open the wardrobe’s sliding doors, like great jaws, and admire his collection of clothes, running his hands lovingly along the carefully ironed shirts on their padded hangers, relics of a youth when he was thinner.

Yer can ‘ave all these when I die,” he’d say to his son, caressing one particularly vile embroidered shirt that was still in its wrapper, twenty years after its original purchase.

His son nodded politely, a bemused expression on his face as his father started pulling out heaps of musty woollen jumpers, never worn, shirts that were so out of fashion they wouldn’t even qualify as vintage and trousers that were a record of the old man’s ballooning waist.

She watched, and burned, hating the way he ran his hands tenderly across the piles of decaying clothes, the jeans and expensive trousers, when he was so fat now he could only just manage to pull on tracksuit bottoms. With a curt order to her to put everything away, he left the room.

The wardrobe squatted malevolently in the corner. She hated it. The clothes inside were musty, the shoes decaying, the trousers dusty. There were sweaters in there older than their son, that had never seen the light of day, much less been worn. Her own humble collection had been pushed into drawers, shared a small space of her son’s wardrobe, while his wardrobe spread and dominated.

She yearned for something small and elegant, an antique, bow-fronted graceful piece of furniture, perhaps, with a kind mirror, one that complimented, rather than sneered, that co-existed pleasantly, rather than dominated.

Then one day he died.

After the funeral, she and her son came home, and there was a lightness in the house, a lessening. She turned to her son, and with a smile, she said:

Fetch me some large plastic bags and the screwdrivers…”

She kicked off her shoes and cast off her coat and set to: the musty jumpers, the faded shirts, the rotting trousers and frayed t-shirts were all ruthlessly pulled from their hiding places, the guts of the wardrobe stripped out, and stuffed into bags.

Carefully and skilfully, she dismantled the wardrobe, and her son helped her to carry the pieces downstairs and into the garden. It didn’t go easily – oh no, it put up a fight and she had several bruises and a broken fingernail to show for it, but she was determined.

The far wall of her bedroom – for it was hers now – stood naked and honest. She would need to re-decorate.

She returned downstairs to her son and together, they fetched the petrol from the shed. Carefully, they piled all the old clothes on top of the wardrobe pieces and baptised them with petrol. The son struck a match, and dropped it on to the pile, stepping back to put an arm around his mother’s shoulders.

Fat billows of greasy black smoke rose into the sky, chased by red-gold flame; and much badness and ill-feeling was cleansed away that night.

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Jet And Joyful Cats!

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Jet is one of those inbetween crystals like Amber, where it isn’t actually a stone, but was formed from fossilised wood millions of years ago. And not just any wood, but a particular sort from the wonderfully named Monkey Puzzle tree.

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Jet has been used since ancient times as a talisman against violence and illness. Perhaps because of its organic origins, rooted in Mother Earth’s love, it has always had strong protective qualities attributed to it. It is also said that people who feel especially drawn to Jet are “old souls”, who have been on this Earth before and travelled her paths in a previous life.

Jet became popular again during Victorian times when it was the fashion to have elaborate mourning jewellery made to commemorate the passing of a loved one. The best quality Jet comes from Whitby, a small Northern coastal town in Yorkshire, here in the U.K. and very dear to my heart. It is also immortalised in classic literature as the place where Dracula landed in England, in the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker.

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Thus Jet’s inherent quality of spiritual protection is very appropriate. It can soothe unreasonable fears and give you the strength to take control of your life and move it forward in a positive and fulfilling way. As it is such a kind and empathetic crystal, it should be cleansed after each time it has been used in healing. Likewise, if you do happen to inherit a piece of Jet jewellery or buy one, then it would be advisable to cleanse it thoroughly as it’s a bit of a psychic sponge…

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Jet, therefore, with its uniform texture and colour, light and calming to the touch, brings the same quality to emotions, lending an even balance to your life.

There have been times in my life when the way forward has seemed very bleak and joyless. Sometimes it can feel like the Universe is handing you a plateful of trouble with a side order of difficulty and no knife or fork…

I take so much joy and comfort from my beloved cats and I would like to think they find a similar joy in sharing their lives with me… Tooty’s uncomplicated joy in finding me waiting with the right flavour catfood;

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Lily’s joy when she sees me from across the park;

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Ting’s joy in everything around her

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and Charlie’s joy when she realises I have the ideal jumper on for kneading…

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Simple little things that link our lives in joy.

So then, when you feel like when really it’s all too much, stop. Just stop. Give yourself a moment, take a breath and look at the simple joys in Life. Every day the Sun rises, bringing warmth and light and life… putting the shadows behind you.

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Crystal Cats And… Um… Cats

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I’m guessing from the title of today’s post you can see where I’m going with this… but just in case… My love of cats started even before I was born. My maternal grandfather died shortly before I was born, so in order to try and provide a little comfort, my father bought my mother a small black kitten, duly named Snoopy.

He would sit on my mother’s bump (me) and purr… I have since read that you can play Mozart to your unborn child to encourage the growth of genius… not sure about purring, whiskers maybe? Snoopy was the first in the line of my feline family and I have been blessed with many memorable characters that have brought their own particular magic to my life.

From the age of about 6 to 12, I had a brown Burmese, Ming, a wonderful companion and comfort. A very vocal and urbane cat, he accompanied me to my grandparents’ house in Wales on weeks away while my parents carried on savaging the wreckage of their marriage.

My grandmother took the presence of a cat in her previously animal-free home with her usual aplomb and ladylike dignity, perhaps recognising the very real comfort I drew from his presence. She only showed concern when Ming set about her textured wallpaper with his toe knives, saying with a slightly pained expression:

Darling, could you perhaps have a word with Ming and ask him not to do that… Nanny quite likes that wallpaper…”

Presently, my Furry Four are my comfort and inspiration, bringers of mice (Lily) and laughter (Ting), muddy pawprints (Tooty) and beauty (Charlie) My attraction to crystals came later, although even as a child I was drawn to the colours and shapes of stones that I found…

So… imagine my delight when my son’s lovely crystal lady had this Malachite cat. I had to have him and rushed to buy him at the first available opportunity. Malachite is quite a powerful crystal, and should be used carefully, ALWAYS in its polished state as it is toxic when rough. Its green swirling patterns reminded me of tabby cat fur, but can also be taken to mean that this crystal is still evolving.

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It is protective and amplifying – if used in healing, it’s especially good for female problems but benefits from being used in combination with something like Clear Quartz. It can soak up electrical and atmospheric pollution and will clear the chakras, bringing fresh alignment and insight, understanding and mental clarity.

This little crystal kitten is Tiger’s Eye, protective and grounding. It brings integrity and determination to the wearer, to help with achieving their goals, promoting confidence and clarity while balancing emotions and helping with depression … my cats always cheer me up…

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And then this crystal cat is Opalite – a Mother’s Day present from my son. Now, Opalite is actually glass, given a milky iridescent sheen, yet even still, it has useful properties. It is linked to the third eye chakra and is said to help with spiritual communications. Opalite is said to have quite a subtle vibration that can help to soothe emotional upset and deal with anxiety in a calm and thoughtful manner. As such, it is an excellent focus for meditation.

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Generally, crystals that have been shaped have a special quality to their energies: spheres emit energy in all directions, rather like turning on an overhead light, eggs can be used to direct and focus energy while rough pieces have a free-flowing energy ready to be purposed to your intent.

I haven’t actually come across any set interpretation for animal shaped crystals… perhaps using an animal form gives the crystal that particular quality … the faithfulness of a dog, the regeneration and joy of a frog… cats admittedly don’t appeal to everybody, but they do have a grace and elegance which is hard to deny as they move silently through the world.

Perhaps, then, feline crystals are purposed with grace and gratitude; a quiet, yet powerful energy, reminiscent of a tiger in the jungle… the warmth and love of a domestic cat upon your knee.

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Unakite and Uplifting Cats

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This crystal ties in quite nicely with the theme of “uplifting” and “up” that I seem to have fallen into this week. It’s a seasonal changeover as we welcome in Spring and time to look both forwards and up into the future, I feel, in a positive and fulfilling manner.

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Anyway… Unakite. This pink and green crystal works with the heart chakra and is a stone of balance and vision, promoting equality in matters both spiritual and emotional.

Unakite can be used to promote psychic vision, but it is also a good grounding stone, helping you to re-connect after meditation or psychic work. Unakite can also be used as part of a set of stones for scrying – foretelling the future – and is generally a good crystal to have about the house.

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It has a gentleness and soothing warmth to it that melts away blockages from past lives that are hindering your current growth. It will help you face what is inhibiting you in your present life, transforming the negative to the positive so you can learn and move on, encouraged and uplifted by the gentle comfort of Unakite.

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I’ve actually mentioned to a couple of friends this week about how if I were a doctor I would prescribe cats to instantly lift spirits and banish depression. My own furry four are always around to provide company and comfort, whether it’s the purring warmth and gentle snores of Tooty, tea cosied nearby, or the zany Siamese humour of Ting:

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Look! I’m a horse! I’m going to canter loudly around upstairs on the laminate flooring yelling…”

Lily’s presence is a comfort at night times as she curls up at the end of my bed ready to savage any sleep ogres for me, while Charlie will tuck in next to me and purr a lullaby…

It is often said that laughter is the best medicine and indeed the physical action releases endorphins to lift your spirits. My girls are a wonderful source of humour, and even though they may not always appreciate the difference between being laughed at or with, sharing my life with feline family members has always been uplifting and comforting.

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Feeling down? Hug your cat. Bad day at work? Hug your cat. They might not always appreciate you crying in their fur…

Did you REALLY just do that?? I just CLEANED there!!”

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But a cat will, on the whole, accept you as you are and love you without expectation or criticism, providing you’re always handy with the cat kibbles, buy the right brand, supply plenty of catnip mousies… well. You get the idea.

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Too Many Cats – Never!

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As regular readers know, I love my cats dearly and various feline characters have played starring roles in my life so far…

My earliest memory, a coming into consciousness, if you will, involved a cat. Wew were living in the practice house at the time, a rambling, three storied Victorian building that had a little surgery attached with a few kennels and a stable. The garden wrapped around the house on three sides and in my memory was always filled with sunshine…

My awakening into being involved our cat of the time, Snoopy, a large, black, plush-furred and amiable cat who became my heart companion in early years. I remember to this day the feel of my cat’s fur against my bare arms as I lugged him inelegantly along, upright on his back legs and nearly as tall as me, as we walked around the garden together.

And thus began my life-long love of cats. My life has been touched by other animals too, including most especially dogs, but cats. Always. And what do you get someone who loves cats – why, cat related-objects of every variety, shape, size and form!

I can hardly bear to wear these shoes..they are so comfortable, it’s like walking barefoot… but… too cute!

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This scarf is a treasured gift from my old headmistress, from The Cat Gallery… I daren’t spend too much time on their website…

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And the jewellery! This ring and necklace were Christmas presents from my son.

I love the symbolism of the golden cat pendant, hanging in the Rowan tree…

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Ornaments, always a favourite, but this one, purchased from my son’s crystal lady, Lizian, is actually carved from Malachite – cats and crystals, how lovely!

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And of course, my most important cats. Princess Charlotte, Lily, Ting and Tooty… my fur family…

Time spent with cats is never wasted.”

Sigmund Freud

Smoky Quartz and Sister Cats

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Smoky Quartz is a personal favourite of mine, in my crystal family. It has a very suave feeling about it, protective and smooth but without being smarmy… think Pierce Brosnan playing Bond…

As a crystal, Smoky Quartz can help lift depression and restore emotional calm, at the same time relieving fear but bolstering your confidence inn your own abilities to cope with different situations. Smoky Quartz is wonderful to help with relieving stress too.

I have a tendency to become overwrought, sometimes, but ten minutes by myself with the trusty Smoky Quartz helps to anchor me… rather than running away with the stress fairies, and actually just washes away the negative emotions… a spiritual shower that gently sponges away the dirt of negativity to let positive thought and clear insight shine through.

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A yin/yang stone of balance and harmony, rather like sister cats… Ting and Tooty are litter-sisters – that is irrefutable despite the fact Ting is Siamese coloured and Tooty is all black. It is not uncommon for kittens to be fathered by two different tom cats, as the queen has the ability to – ahem – pick and choose which swimmers find their way home. I’ve never had sister cats before, and it’s lovely to watch as they greet each other – a quick lick to the forehead, or as they play… although sometimes that can end in growly hisses and tufts of fur…

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They are funny though… Ting will go Siamese-cross eyes and squint fiercely down her nose as she advances, tail swishing towards Tooty. Tooty – and this never fails – will collapse on her back, legs in the air, displaying a large amount of soft black tummy to bounce on… not so! Ting falls for it every time as Tooty deploys her toe knives and kicky scratches to embrace her sister in combat… Tooty generally wins as she is the – um – heavier cat, although they are both quite tall in the shoulder, compared to the older girls, Charlie and Lily.

_mg_2847“Hmm, I love children… Couldn’t manage a whole one though…”

The two older girls tend to regard Ting and Tooty fairly dispassionately, more nuisance than family, although sometimes Charlie can be tempted into a terrifying game of chase… terrifying for the cat she is chasing as they are never entirely sure whether she will play or punish… Yet Ting and Tooty will still sleep together with love and affection, perhaps harking back to the sad few days when they were little and lost, cold and frightened… They curl up back to back, or ‘spoon’ each other, sleepily pushing and shoving each other to get comfortable.

However sad I may feel, I cannot help but be lightened by my sister cats… a furry reminder of love and balance.

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Sunstone and Sleeping Cats

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Cats seem to have captured the art of sleeping perfectly, much to my envy as I am a horribly restless and inept sleeper. They flow so perfectly, so completely into slumber that they could illustrate a ‘How To…’ manual.

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Sleep is obviously an important restorative – Margaret Thatcher is said to have managed on five hours a night – but any little thing can disrupt it. One of my issues is when the clocks go forward or back… I’m a morning person. I enjoy the solitude, drinking tea, (not smoking cigarettes any more) planning for the day ahead and writing up various ideas.

My partner is a night owl and loves nothing more than an in-depth discussion about politics at 11.45p.m. when I am searching for slumber, undeterred by my monosyllabic replies and complete lack of interest in the latest economic policy of our country at that time of night…

img_6151-2On the right is Sunstone, with Citrine (top left) and Goldstone (bottom left)

Sunstone is a wonderfully happy crystal, and a great equaliser… it has a natural joy to it and the clue is in the name. It is light inspiring and energising and can promote links to light and sun and help you recognise the changes that living in the light will bring.

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Sunstone will clear and energise all the chakras and can be particularly useful in the treatment of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Like the Sun, this crystal is nurturing and restorative and can gently help to sever non-productive emotional links that are draining your vitality.

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My cats are generally most active around dawn and dusk, ‘crepuscular’… wonderful word… but as cats have joined us in our lives and homes they have adapted their sleeping patterns to coincide with ours… well, mine have.

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In addition to all my usual night time bothers I am generally accompanied by a gentle chorus of feline snores and sleep-contorted bodies. I have often been woken by a paw in the eye, but I wouldn’t have it any other way as we gather in the bedroom to rest and re-charge…

Everyone has positive possibilities and Sunstone reminds us of this – we can all make the best of the gifts we are given.

Leave the darkness behind and step forward into the Light.

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Septarian and Serene Cats

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Look! Look at this crystal! Doesn’t it just seem a divine combination of delicious things… like an expensive handmade chocolate. The paler brown, like the foam on a good quality hot chocolate, the darker blocks and lines of brown, rich unctuous milk chocolate and finally the golden chunks of calcite, like wonderful crystallised pineapple…

I must mention In The Autumn of My Life and thank her for bringing this crystal to my attention – she did a wonderful post about her Septarian egg. I’m still getting to know my piece, but I was overjoyed to see a little piece – just right for me – when we visited my son’s crystal lady a couple of weeks after reading In The Autumn of My Life’s post.

Septarian itself is a crystal stew of Calcite (yellow), Aragonite (brown) and Bentonite (grey) and this combination brings the qualities of patience, tolerance and nurturing to the fore in anyone who wishes to work with this stone. It has strong links to Mother Earth and acts as a physical reminder that we must take care of and nurture our environment, our home. Septarian is a marvellous crystal to encourage unity within any spiritual group; and brings harmony and serenity as an almost physical object to any home.

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Septarian is a distillstion of pure love and the joy of being alive, it is supportive, nurturing, willing to help those who suffer from SAD and encourages the body to kickstart its own process of healing. Serene, comforting, nurturing and harmonious. Think happy feline…

I must also thank Marc at Katzenworld for his brilliantly helpful review of Feliway Friends.

After last week’s unpleasant happenings, a modicum of harmony has been restored to my fur family. I purchased Feliway and use it religiously…

SAM! WHAT’S THAT HORRIBLE SMELL? IT’S THAT CAT STUFF!”

No, it can’t be it’s a synthetic pheromone and they are scentless…”

WELL I CAN SMELL SOMETHING!!!”

I didn’t bother answering him. I didn’t want to point out what he had obviously stood in something outside… I just left the room…

We have more litter trays – the usual rule is one per cat and one spare – we have one per cat, one spare and one ‘just in case’. We have instituted a timetable of outdoor hours and the Girls know when they have to be in so Daddy can lock the catflap to keep intruders out. After Christmas I REALLY want a microchip operated catflap… Brilliant inventions.

There is a definite easing of tension in my little cat. She still prefers it if either my partner or myself goes out with her, and I was touched to see Ting, our Siamese accompanying Charlie on her usual walk round the garden. Charlie didn’t grumble or hiss at her, it was more:

Oh, yes, of course, if you happen to be going this way…”

Ting: “YAY! Does this mean we’re friends now and you’re going to be my big sister now?”

“No… Just… no.”

Lily is quite happy now to come in and go to bed where previously she was a little bit of a wanderer. Any bed will do, she makes it hers. The cooker. The sink. The coffee table. And you can’t move her. She has a way of opening an eye – just the one, mind, and evil things are implicit in that slice of emerald green, evil things that can happen to you if you move her…

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My garden has returned to its usual state of splendid isolation. My New Leaf lady gave me a plant that she said repelled cats. I brought it home and my partner and I eagerly planned to place strategic clumps around the garden… then Ting ate it… I carry my Septarian with me every day at the moment, to re-establish links of love and compassion.

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By some happy coincidence, my Septarian mirrors my little cat’s fur, brown, gold, chocolate, grey… a veritable cornucopia of fur and crystal colouring.