ABOUT

 

Official Bio

Jessica M. Starr is a witch and her magic is stories (she’s great at spelling). She lives at the foot of a mountain in Wales, UK, with her musician husband and their two unschooled children. She serves her local community as a teacher, healer and doula: gathering the women; holding space and hands when babies are born; keeping the stories and passing them on.

Jessica writes poems and prose for those who know that magic is real and that stories hold the power to change the world. Her work has been featured in anthologies and magazines in the UK. Waking Mama Luna is her first solo publication. Her poetry anthology Maid, Mother, Crone, Other will be released Autumn 2016.

My Story

A woman sits in a high-back chair carefully stitching a small patchwork quilt.  Her hands cradle the fabric. It is not a usual or easy task for her but she perserveres. Each day adding a few patches more.  As the quilt grows so does her belly.  The baby inside is nearly ready to be born.

Stitching the quilt helps the woman to stay calm and centred while she waits, impatiently.  A lens to focus her love.

Wednesday. Thursday. Friday.

By Friday night the quilt is finished.

“There”, says the woman, “it is done.  Now she must come”.

And sure enough that night the surges begin.

By Saturday the woman was exhausted but the baby remained inside.  Her body started to slip away into the gloved hands of those around her.  Her mind numbed.

Her labour stretched on and on under the dark Taurus moon.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon a beautiful baby girl with shining copper hair was pulled from her womb with a metal tong.  The woman was relieved it was over.

The baby girl, Sunday’s child, was bright and loud.  Her curly copper hair marked her apart – no need of a ribbon on her cot.  There was no mistaking her.

A week later the woman took her baby home.  The patchwork quilt warmed her as she slept.

******

As the girl grew her light and passion shone like her hair and she was beautiful.  The girl loved to sing, to dance, to paint and draw.  She saw colours everywhere around her.  Colours of real things and those special aura colours which they tell us not to see.

When she was older she learned to write, which she did every day.  And she always loved stories.  They were her food and she savoured them.

The girl with the copper hair wanted very much to be good.  To be loved.  She saw that many things she felt and did brought light to those around her so she did those things more.  She saw that some of what she felt and did and knew and saw was not wanted and caused pain and fear to those around her.  Those things she took and stuffed into the shadow bag which lay always at her feet.  Hiding them in the dark.

Into the bag went her power, taking part of her passion with it.  Into the bag went her ambition, her ability to set boundaries, to say no.  Into the bag went her deep connection with the other worlds, taking as well her empathy. As she grew so did the shadow bag.  It was almost as if she didn’t notice she was dragging it around with her always.  By the time she was a woman the bag was full.

******

The girl, now woman, knew she had gifts to share.  Gifts of healing, of intuition, of creativity, of love.  She began her work healing, inspiring and teaching others.  And it was good.

But without her power people could take things from her.  And they did.

Without her fierceness people could hurt her.  So they did.

Without her wild romanticism she could make decisions with her head but not her heart.  She could appear rational.  But she could not feel she was loved.

The girl was happy as she knew she was blessed and cared for but always there was the shadow bag with her.  Reminding that she was only loved partly, loved for her light.  Those things were there lurking in the darkness.

******

One day the girl had a child of her own.  The birthing was unlike her own.  It was gentle.  Healing.

Through the birthing journey the girl with the copper hair travelled within to find her baby’s soul and bring it into our world.  On this journey she encountered some of those things which she had hidden in the shadow bag.  Her determination.  Her deep wellpool of love.

With the baby came these things, back out of the bag.  Into the open.  They helped her with her mother journey.  And she began to see that some of the other contents of the bag was good too.

Becoming mother was powerful.  Her energy was flung outward.  Exploding.  She reached out to the world.  Learning. Connecting.  Growing.

Her life, which before then consisted of separate unconnected parts, became sewn together.  Or at least that is how it seemed. In reality it was always connected, her patchwork life quilt, but it was by becoming mother that she saw her full self.  The girl realised that throughout her life she had been working on “patches”.  Through her work as teacher, writer, healer, doula, mentor, she was creating beautiful individual patches.  Through her connections of daughter, grand-daughter, sister, lover, wife, friend and now mother, she sewed those patches together.

The patchwork quilt of love, made by her own mother, was now resting on her own daughter’s cot, but not on the baby.  She slept on her mama’s chest.

A few years past and the girl had another baby.  This time a boy.

Again an explosion.  But this time, like a star collapsing, the energy rushed inwards. It was time to look within.  To reassess the family rhythm.  To find consistency in her writing and creativity.  To create peace and deep connection. To make real, practical magic

The girl knew it was time to start rummaging again in the shadow bag.  It was time to bring those hidden parts to light.  All of them.

Why I Write

It feels somehow arrogant to say I want to change the world. But it is true.

My way of helping, of creating change, is by writing. Putting my words out there. It is what heals me (as in the deepest sense of heal – to make whole) and it can heal you too.

 I believe we all go through our lives creating our patches and sewing them together to make something beautiful, something that we are pleased with. If we don’t like a patch, or if it gets worn out, we can easily change it. We are always changing, moving and growing – or we should be. Sometimes we get stuck and we cannot see the bigger picture: our patchwork lifequilts. If this happens it is not the end, we can always heal, unpick and redo. And it will never be finished for we have no edges, only places where our patches join with others.

And what of those ugly patches?  Those parts which we don’t want others to see; we don’t want ourselves to see. Well those patches are part of your life quilt.  Without them you have holes for the cold to come in.

Jung asks would we rather be whole or good?

I choose whole.

I am powerful and I am claiming that power.

I am beautiful and I am claiming that beauty.

I will not hide.

And I have a message and gifts, which I am here to share.

As women and girls we are still judged for our appearance over our substance, for our compliance over our contribution. This cannot continue. I dream of a world where we are all free to speak our truths, our magic words, without fear of being shamed.

The world needs our voices. It needs what is inside of me and what is inside of you. We must not die with our stories still inside.

FACTFILE

a writer, not a teacher

I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was in my late 30s.

(Well, that’s not strictly true. Secretly I knew I wanted to write stories since I was a young child but I just didn’t believe it could actually be my real job).

I did an English Literature degree in Cardiff University and then went on to become a primary school teacher.

I loved many things about teaching, mainly talking to the children in my classes, but I also realised that school isn’t necessarily a great place to learn.

Now my own children don’t go to school. They are unschooled. And we are all living and learning together. 

A Highly Sensitive Person

I am a highly sensitive person, or HSP for short, and if you enjoy my stories there’s a good chance you may be one too.

Being highly sensitive is a good thing, particularly for a writer, as I sense and feel things others may miss. But it does mean I need to be very careful about which films I watch (and even books I read to some extent). Anything too horrific or with violence upsets me and stays with me for ages so I have learned to carefully screen what I consume.

My favourite animated films at the moment are Wreck it Ralph and Big Hero 6. I love how the major themes of good and bad are played with in both of these. 

A reader

I was that child who could always be found in a quiet corner buried in a book. I had friends and enjoyed playing but felt most like myself when I was reading about gods and goddesses, faraway places and magical worlds.

My favourite authors as a child were C.S. Lewis, Jenny Nimmo, Alan Garner and Tolkien, though I would read whatever I could get my hands on. Later I would add Terry Pratchett and, more recently, Neil Gaiman, to this list. (You can keep in touch with what I’m currently reading on Goodreads.)

In stories I can escape from small talk and learn more about myself, others and the world than I do from any “real” thing. 

2016 word of the year for Jessica Starr

The Story Witch

I have believed I am a witch for as long as I can remember but I didn’t come out of the (broom) closet until I was in my late 20s and less afraid of what other people would think – the burning and drowning threat was not lost on me. 

I know that “witch” can be frightening and threatening for some. The word has acquired a lot of baggage over the years. For me it is a name for female creative power. A woman who has knowledge of, and contact with, the universal truths and who is willing to take the risk to be heard. 

As witches we are powerful and we speak our magic words, our truths. We use our power to create positive change in the world. 

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