Real Life: Meet Newmarket's green witch
As Halloween approaches, we chat to real-life green witch Joey (Kirsty) Mortlock, from Newmarket, about plant-lore and paganism, as well as discussing how she and friend, Natalie Emery, strive to live a ‘non-toxic’ life
Joey, can you tell us a little about life as a practising pagan, green witch?
When people hear I am a witch, usually the first question they will ask is ‘Do you wear a black pointy hat and ride a broom?’
A green witch is actually someone who connects completely with nature. We instinctively know a lot about plant-lore, the medicinal uses of plants (herbalism), we forage for foods and have the need to preserve nature for medicine to heal. Most green witches are pagan (or Wiccan).
As a pagan green witch, I do not believe in just one ‘God’, instead many gods and goddesses. The forest is my church and the moon gives me guidance.
Our years are broken up into solstice and equinox; the moon and sun cycle. We celebrate each changing season, giving thanks to The Mother Earth. For example. . . Halloween is the modern celebration of ‘Samhain’ (pronounced ‘Sah-Ween’). This doesn’t involve sweets and fancy dress like we know it today. Instead we honour and remember those that have passed, lighting a candle for our loved ones. Each season and celebration falls under ‘The Wheel of the Year’.
What are your beliefs and practices as a green witch?
As a pagan I believe in many deities but only follow one rule, The Wiccan Rede: 'An it harm none, do what ye will'. It means I can do what I please in life except harm no one, physically or emotionally. I truly believe harm comes to those three-fold if they harm another. Most pagans/Wiccans abide by this.
I practice ‘spell work’ often. This involves the use of crystals, herbs, essential oils and nature. And yes, I own a beautiful iron cauldron. It is used to burn paper, salt, herbs and earth, safely.
Typically ‘spelling’ is to manifest and put positivity out into the universe. Spells are unique to each person. It’s all about the intention. There is no written handbook - and no right or wrong.
They can be as simple as stirring your coffee to rid negativity from your day, running a bath of salts and herbs to cleanse, or have full-on bonfires to thank the gods. I personally prefer to sit quietly amongst my oils and crystals and set personal intentions and goals. I also love practising Rune readings.
What response do you get if you tell someone you’re a witch?
Most who know me have no idea I am a witch. The ones that do have greeted me positively. Most are fascinated and ask lots of questions. I have friends, though, that have not been so lucky. A friend was wearing a pentagram badge (a pagan symbol of protection) and was told to burn.
Hollywood portrays us to be these dark magick, wart covered, slug eating, youth chasing beings. It couldn’t be more wrong. The majority of witches I know embrace being who they are. We embrace growing old, celebrating our natural beauty in confidence. We preach kindness, gratitude and acceptance. However, there are some that will practice ‘black magick’, though I’m yet to meet one.
Is this a big movement in the UK?
There are millions of witches worldwide. The last two years I’ve seen a huge increase in individuals calling themselves ‘witches’. #witchesofinstagram has over 5 million posts.
So, you’re both passionate about living a non-toxic life – what does that mean?
Simply put, we look to nature to aid us. We are both on these journeys to eradicate chemicals from our everyday life and educate others as we do it.
Chemicals, pollution, radiation and stressors are suffocating us. We have become an extremely lazy generation and lost our natural instincts to reach for nature. People are no longer passing on ways of using nature as medicine. We no longer grow our own foods. Instead we are reaching for over-the-counter medicines, highly toxic cleaning products, cosmetics that are poisoning our bodies, and plastic-wrapped, pesticide-filled foods. We have found that making small changes, in savvy ways, can have huge positive improvements on our health and our overall wellbeing
Natalie, what set you on this path?
I first started trying to remove toxins to help with my anxiety and migraines, but also to improve my skin, as I have always suffered with eczema. I started using essential oils to help with sleep and anxiety but then my Auntie started making natural home-made soaps using only essential oils to fragrance and they made such a difference to my skin that I stopped using other body wash and hand soaps. I was also trying to cut down on single use plastic at the time, so this fitted well.
When I used chemicals to clean my home, my skin would suffer and I’d get headaches, so I started looking for a natural plant-based alternative a few years ago. I began using a well know brand of cleaning products that at the time were marketing themselves as plant-based and natural (but it has recently been discovered that they were actually ‘greenwashing’ and were not as natural as they claimed to be). Then Joey got involved with Young Living, using their Thieves cleaning range and said how amazing they were so I tried them, and haven't looked back.
You use essential oils in diffusers – what kind of benefits does this have for you?
I started diffusing essential oils to create a calm, relaxing environment that would help when I felt stressed and anxious. I had high functioning anxiety and was taking medication at the time to help and wanted to try everything I could to compliment the medication and to eventually manage my anxiety well enough that I could come off the medication.
I also suffer from severe migraines and I found that burning candles or using air fresheners in the home would contribute to my headaches so I wanted a natural alternative that would make my home smell nice without giving me headaches and realised that diffusing oils had multiple benefits for me.
How are you reducing toxins in your home?
By making my own skincare products - using essential oils and natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter and other carrier oils. I use non-toxic and natural products to clean my home and clothes like white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and plant-derived essential oil products from Young Living.
And Joey, what made you want to embrace a non-toxic lifestyle?
I have known about the dangers in our everyday items for a long time, but played ignorant. I did not want to believe we were knowingly being poisoned by these products and companies that we all love and trust. For most the flick switches when they have children. They want to better their lifestyle for the sake of their child. This wasn’t the case for me. I still didn’t want to believe. Heck. . . I was borderline ‘Hinch’ for a while!
For me it took the C word to scare the living cr*p out of me. Three years ago my partner, just 24 years old, was told he might have cancer. I will never forget that drive home in the car, in silence.
I started researching ALOT. I was told a crazy statistic; a whopping 90 to 95 per cent of our lifestyle choices contribute to cancer. That’s a lot of control that we were abusing. At that point I knew we needed to change. We needed to educate ourselves and others along the way. This is when I turned to nature full time.
You’re a trained aromatherapist but can you tell us about your own health issues, which led you to start religiously using essential oils?
I have struggled with chronic bowel problems for 20 years, always being told ‘it was just IBS’. Along with these flare ups I would have psoriasis outbreaks; migraines with aura; exhaustion; insomnia; irregular cycles. I was in my mid 20’s with more ailments than a 70 year old.
I turned to oils many moons ago. Using oils regularly, with some result, but not life changing results.
It wasn't until 2020 that I was introduced to a range of pure, unadulterated essential oils, and essential oil products that have literally transformed my life. I’m now off all pharmaceuticals and only use essential oils alongside my herbal preparations and non-toxic, natural products.
How can our readers begin to eradicate common chemical products in their everyday lives?
Start small. Pick one product to swap to plant-based. For example, deodorant, toothpaste, body wash or a multi cleaner. Do your research as lots of products ‘greenwash’, leading you to believe they are natural when in-fact they contain just as many chemicals.
Try to avoid anything that contains ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’. These can contain thousands of extremely toxic chemicals. The less ingredients the better. My rule is, if I would not eat a spoonful of it, then it’s not coming anywhere near me or my family. And lastly, try not to feel overwhelmed. It’s a minefield out there. Find an account on social media with people on these journeys. Be inspired. Be prepared to change – and ask questions.
What benefits have you both experienced from living in this more natural way?
Natalie: Reduced anxiety and stress, skin and hair improvements, less headaches from using chemicals around the home, reduced painkillers and medicine and a new inspiration for being creative. Plus I have the satisfaction of creating my own non-toxic products that work, save me money and improve my physical and mental health.
Joey: My all-over wellness has excelled. I now sleep extremely well and stress less. My body is ticking almost perfectly. I’m in control of my bowel and skin problems. My migraines are now only linked to my cycle and no longer chemical induced. My children have less common ailments – and my partner too.
What are your hopes for a non-toxic lifestyle in the future?
Natalie: I'm hoping to eradicate as many toxic products from my home as I can and then pass my experiences onto others, who can start to make small changes to their own lives and experience their own benefits. My dream is to start a family, with non-toxic products in my home, and use natural products on my baby and pass on my knowledge and passion to them.
Joey: I will continue to educate as many people that will listen to me. I will run my free wellness classes weekly instead of monthly. I will not stop educating myself and forwarding that information on!”
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