Monday, November 13, 2017

The Eyes Reveal All


"Briseann an dúchais trí shúile an chait"/ "Breeding will break out in the eyes of a cat."
~ An Irish proverb meaning you can tell someone's true character from their eyes. {source}

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The above photo is an older portrait of Squeaky, and as her eyes show, she was the sweetest of kitties. <3

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Frosty Morning Down at Little Cat Creek


Yesterday morning a friend and I headed off early in the morning for a hike at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area. As the sun got higher in the sky, the frosty evidence of an overnight visit from Old Woman became apparent.





This was my first time at Little Cat, so I got to choose which trail we went on. I chose Chickadee Lane in the hopes of seeing some of my little winged friends and because it is supposed to be especially lovely on that part of the property. 

Chickadee Lane is pretty much like a fairy tale forest covered in moss, fungi and all sorts of different trees that goes right down to the edge of the creek. As promised, we were greeted by the trail's mascots by the dozens, as well as by other critters including a beaver, blue jays and red squirrels that seemed rather grumpy to have their morning interrupted by a pair of humans. 






Unfortunately not too far into the trail my camera announced that my batteries were dead, and of course I didn't bring any extra with me. So I didn't get to take a whole lot of photos. Weirdly though, I had enough juice in the batteries after we left Little Cat. The same thing happened to my friend with her phone. Could be a coincidence, or perhaps someone was playing a little game with us.

We do plan to go back hopefully soon, so perhaps we will have better luck next time. 

I hope that everyone is enjoying this lovely, chilly season!

Laurel 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Beannachtaí Na Oíche Shamhna Oraibh!


May the Gods smile upon you, may the Spirits be kind to you, and may your Ancestors always be near.

Beannachtaí na Oíche Shamhna oraibh/Samhain Eve blessings to you all!

Warm hearts & hearths,

Laurel


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fall Leaf Bouquets for Ancestor Offerings

{one of my bouquets from last year}
A few years ago I started making fall leaf bouquets to use as offerings both on my Ancestor shrine as well as to bring to the cemetery around the time of Samhain. This is by no means a novel idea, and my inspiration actually came from the following song:
"The autumn air
Thickly fills my lungs
So sweetly
Reminds me of
Her smoky breath
With wine and this
Bouquet of maple
And oak leaves
In death or life
We'll always be..."

There are a few different ways you could go about making your bouquets, but the one I choose to do is a pretty straightforward bunching and binding it all together with yarn or ribbon. I like to use various different leaves and also berries and nuts, going with whatever I can find outside around me. {Unfortunately I don't think I have any other examples than the one pictured above that I have previously made. I will try to remember to take photos of the ones I make this year to give some more ideas and either add them or link them to this post}. 

Below are some link of other fall leaf bouquets ideas:

Autumn Leaves Bouquet {from Ali Does it Herself}
How to Make a Fall Leaf Bouquet {from Metamorphocity}
Maple Leaf Roses {from Listed and Loved}

And to get you into the spirit, here is a video to the song that originally inspired me:


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Sláinte!

Laurel

The Gaelic Roundtable for October: Divinity


This is my seventh post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, and October's topic is Divinity. The Roundtable asked:
"Who do believe are the Deities of the Irish Pantheon? How do you believe that they gained their Divine status? Were they always Gods- or did they become them? Or do you view them as traditional Gods at all? Are there other “categories” that you believe exist- such a “demons” or Demigods? How does your view of Gaelic Divinity differ from traditional views of Divinity such as what is found in the Hindu, Greek, or Abrahamic faiths?"
My definition of what divinity is will probably not suit everyone, but is fairly simple: I see those who fit into the "divine" category as anyone who is not mortal. Of course this is a pretty broad definition which could include a whole host of beings, but within the context of Gaelic Polytheism I break it down to Gods, Spirits/Good Folk and Ancestors. 

In general I think that it is difficult to neatly arrange the divine within the GP context like how one would in the classical pantheon manner. It is a wee bit more messy than that, especially when one turns to the complicated lore and mythology of the Gaels for insight. I think that there is an overlap of the Gods, Spirits/Good Folk and Ancestors, and it is likely that many individual divinities fall within two or all of those categories.

I think that some of these individuals were mortals at one time or perhaps were always some type of supernatural being that became elevated to the status of Gods through reverence and may even maintain that status through the continuation of that reverence. Maybe this is the "payoff" Gods get from having reciprocal relationships with us mortals.

I have no idea how any of them became, if some were always in existence playing a role with the dawn of the cosmos, helping shape The Great Nothing into something, or if like us they came along later.

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Sláinte!

Laurel

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Apple & Staghorn Sumac Jelly


I made this jelly about a month back for the first time, and definitely will be making it again! I used a really great recipe found over at the Thomasburg Walks blog.

If you are not familiar with staghorn sumac and how to harvest it, Wayward Spark has a very informative post that you can check out. I harvested mine back in August and left it out to air dry, before stashing it away in a jar to use throughout the rest of the year. If you are new to making jelly or canning, check out this article.

***One thing to note about staghorn sumac is that it is high in tannic acid, so keep boiling time for the juice limited.***

If you can, give this lovely recipe a try!


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Sláinte!

Laurel

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for September: Faith


This is my sixth post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, and September's topic is Faith. The Roundtable asked:
"What gives you faith? What makes you believe in the Gaelic Deities, and why? How do you respond to those times when your faith is wavering? What do you do when your faith becomes too unstable, or “too hard to handle”? do you think that doubt is healthy when it comes to having faith? Why or why not?"
I think that in some ways faith/belief/trust comes naturally to me, to the point that the motto of one of my ancestral clans is Confido. So perhaps it's even in my DNA. ;)

While this is probably not really an influencing factor, I was brought up with the idea that faith is important. Even as a curious, at times skeptical child I still held on to this notion and that hasn't changed much since becoming an adult.

Don't get me wrong, I have a healthy skeptical streak in me and I almost always question things, but I think that belief in something, anything is important. It doesn't have to be religious or spiritual, it could be political, philosophical, or even just in oneself and those you love. Either way I think that faith is a must if one is going to keep hope.

Faith and hope bring comfort, and I am a huge fan of comfort. 

I believe in the Gods of the Gaels as well as other deities, although I choose to be devoted to the former. I can't say that I know that they exist or who they are exactly, but I have my ideas. I could be wrong, may be right, or perhaps a little bit of both. 

How I see them {as well as all deities and spirits} is not how they would be classically viewed in the Abrahamic sense. I don't believe in an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful deity. I think that their powers are finite, although they definitely have a lot more than I do. Which I think is kind of the point why us mortals benefit from forming amicable relationships with them.

Obviously I have my own personal reasons for believing in deities and spirits instead of being an atheist or at least an agnostic. That said, I am not going to trot out a laundry list of experiences, but will just say that I am either touched in the head or they exist at least on some level. 

Even though faith for me is important, so is doubt/skepticism. Blindly believing in something with no reasoning or benefit to oneself I think is more bane than blessing. This is especially true when dealing with leadership, risks and such. People who blindly believe are the perfect candidates to be duped or abused. 

Skepticism and questioning things are obviously important to the pursuit of knowledge, and to me knowledge is just as important as faith. 

I think that both faith and knowledge are important facets of our species. Faith and hope bring us comfort in life's hardships and the pursuit of knowledge is what helps our species strive through those hardships.  
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Sláinte!

Laurel

Friday, September 22, 2017

Reminders From Moss & Trees


I like to go to the woods to be reminded 


that there are things much bigger than us humans,


and that we are not permanent. 


In the overall picture we are just a blink of time,


and I am good with that. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

While Cares Will Drop Off Like Autumn Leaves....


"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." ~John Muir

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tending the Flame of Hope


Some of you have probably already heard of the lovely Tending the Flame of Hope project, which started this past January and is slotted to run until January 2021. It was started as a response to all the unrest and misery going on in the world right now. As a simple act of devotion of lighting a candle every day to spark hope in those who participate, and perhaps to bring some light and hope to others as well.

Upon hearing about the project I was inspired to participate, but realistically it is not something that I can do every day. Instead, I have slotted three hours every nine days to light my own flame, to pray, just sit and try and find my own hope. It is a time of reflection, of healing and thinking of ways how I can bring more hope into the world.

Brighid, bringer of peace,
Keeper of the communal fire-- 
May your flame bring us healing and hope,
May its light shine through the darkest despair. 


Blessings to you all,

Laurel

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Year on and I am still pining for the North...


Yesterday I saw a flock of Canada geese making their way down from the North, and I was reminded that it has been just over a year since I left there myself to move 500 KM away to where I live now.

This time of year I am missing the foggy mornings on the shores of Lake Nipissing, that eventually gives way to a blaze of colour of the changing leaves once the sun has melted away the mist. Right now as the sun rises, I am sure there is the smell of wood smoke, rotting leaves and chill in the air. Things are probably getting quieter as most of the birds start migrating to warmer places and other critters start to shack up for the winter. 

I miss those long, cold winters, cold enough for sundogs and light pillars. I even miss the obnoxious snowmobilers taking over the sidewalks, zipping down to the frozen lake to do their ice fishing.

After those obscenely long winters, I miss the promise of spring and no longer having to be jealous of loved ones in warmer places whose snow had melted months prior. Once the short, intense summers came and were spent trying to grow and harvest as much as possible, I miss being truly grateful for whatever bounty that was given.



I miss the pairs of ravens who would tail me from the high places before flying off to continue their endless feuds with the swarms of crows. I miss the friendly chipmunks and chickadees that would visit my garden, and miss nodding a "hello" to the deer who could be seen sauntering down the road in town during the early hours. I miss the tinge of anxiety while out on the trail that I might bump into a bear who would perhaps be face deep in the wild blueberries or shaking off the sleepiness of a long winter of hibernation, depending on the time of year.


I miss the scent of the air which I can only describe as having a hint of evergreen and damp moss. It smells clean, natural, the way things should smell. That is probably because so much of the landscape is still in tact with all the lovely birches, rowans, and conifers; the big rocky outcroppings of granite peppered with lichen, the cold and deep lakes that are still safe to fish and swim in.


I miss that a totally naked face with a reddened cheek from the wind is enough makeup to look lovely. I miss the candid friendliness and warmth of folk up there, and the fact that many people like flannel plaid, beards and the woods without being hipsters. That stuff has always been in style up there.

Most of all I miss the loved ones who are still up there--both the living and dearly departed-- and I miss the place itself, who I made such a connection with. I miss both in equal measure. Even being someone who is of European heritage, I can say that my family roots run deep up there; my ancestors were some of the first settlers to live and work the land in that area. They are a part of that place.


After a decade of living up there myself, building relationships with the spirits, acting as a steward to the land, I am a part of that place as well. After all of the healing and transformation that was done in those Northern woods, shores and on ancestral graves, a piece of me is still up there. A piece of me always will be.

But yet, I feel like I am starting to connect to where I live now. While the gentle allure of this place will never hold a candle to the wild beauty of the North, slowly this place is becoming home.

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Sláinte!

Laurel