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,


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.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Prosperity Oil

Besides making a candle for prosperity, I also like to make a prosperity oil every year in time for Lughnasadh. I thought that I would share how I make it in case other folks might be interested in having a go at their own. 

While the first harvest feast has past, I think really any time during Autumn would be a perfectly acceptable time to make it. I like to make mine on the Thursday of a full or waxing moon.

Generally I use an olive oil base and the plant materials are ones that are traditionally or personally associated with prosperity:

Grain chaff {this year I used oats}
Blackberry leaves
Hollyhock leaves
Elder berries
Hawthorn berries

This oil can be used throughout the year to anoint candles, charms and in spell work, and is not meant to be ingested or used on the body.


Hopefully in the coming weeks I will get around to sharing some more recipes of things that I have been making lately. Until then, happy creating!



Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Flowers & Fruits of Lughnasadh

My observances for Lughnasadh were pretty spread out this year, although I think that at this point it is fair to say that is the usual. Lughnasadh Day was more for devotions and making offerings at home to both Macha and local spirits.

A few days later I set out to a couple of my favourite spots to do some rituals, make offerings and do some harvesting. The rest of the day was spent in the kitchen prepping for a dinner/BBQ we had with some folks to celebrate the first harvest.

I have been doing quite a bit of preserving, experimenting with some fruit and herb infused alcohol, herbal infused oils and honeys and some jams and jellies. There are some other jellies I want to make, but waiting patiently for the fruits to ripen {looking at you crab apples and rowans!}.

I hope that you are all enjoying the bounty and beauty of the season!




Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Calendula Infused Oil

Calendula is one of those staple herbs for my garden, and even after downsizing from a decent-sized yard to a balcony, I still insisted on growing it this year. I like to use it in magic of course, but I also like to make an infused oil with it.

The oil of calendula is great for many things, but I like to use it in both salves and bars for chapped skin, minor cuts, bug bites and I find when used with other herbs, it is quite effective on sore muscles.

Before starting the oil infusion I dry the flowers so there is a lesser chance of the oil going funky. For the actual oil I used grapeseed oil this year, but olive oil or perhaps almond oil work fine as well. My calendula oil is still infusing, and I will let it sit in a cool, dark spot for about a month. I shake it about every other day.

Once it is finished infusing I will strain it through cheesecloth to separate the flowers from the oil and bottle up the oil again until it is ready to use.

To a see a great herbal infusion tutorial, head on over to the Mountain Rose Herbs blog. They also have some great recipes on how to use your calendula oil once it's ready.




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for August: Personal Gnosis

This is my fifth post participating in the The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, and August's subject is Personal Gnosis. The Roundtable asked:
"How important is Personal Gnosis to your practice? What emphasis do you place on it when reconstructing, reviving, or generally creating your faith? Do you enjoy hearing others’ Personal Gnosis, or tend not to seek it out? How does hearing others’ Personal Gnosis hinder or help your faith? And finally (if you are willing to share), what is some Personal Gnosis that you hold that is considered “unconventional” to the greater Gaelic Polytheist community?"
{For those who may be unfamiliar with what gnosis is within the polytheist context, I recommend checking out this short but very informative article: Vision: UPG, SPG, and CG.}

Both personal and communal/shared gnosis are quite significant in my own personal practice, as I find that it helps to answers questions left by the gaps in lore, myth and customs. It would probably be fair to say that its importance is secondary to those latter-mentioned influences, but plays a strong role nonetheless.

I very much enjoy hearing gnosis of others and I have found it extremely helpful in validating some of my own personal gnosis, as well as guiding me when I was inexperience and in a blind spot. One example of this is when I was first establishing a rapport with An Cailleach, there were some devotees to her that gave extremely helpful insight on things such appropriate approach and offerings to helping me understand some rather odd experiences I had that I attributed to her. 

While I don't know if it would be considered "unconventional" there is one sliver of personal gnosis that I don't recall seeing others talk about before. While two of the elements of what I call The Cosmology of Three Triads seems to be widely accepted, I am not sure if the third element and how I have grouped them would make sense to others or not.

The first triad is the Three Realms {widely accepted}:  Nem/Sky, Talam/Land, Muir/Sea

The second triad is Na Trí Naomh {widely accepted}: Gods, Spirits/Good Folk, Ancestors

The third triad is the Three Gifts: Fír/Truth, Aicned/Nature, Ecna/Knowledge

The third triad is inspired by Trecheng Breth Féne/The Triads of Ireland:

"Trí caindle forosnat cach ndorcha: fír, aicned, ecna."/"Three candles that illume every darkness: truth, nature, knowledge."

I see the interaction of these Triads in the following way:

Talam>Spirits/Good Folk>Aicned/Nature

I am not going to delve deeper on this particular personal gnosis in this post as it will probably end up making it a novel. I may go further into it with another post in the future.



Monday, August 21, 2017

A Candle for Prosperity

In preparation for Lughnasadh one of the things I made was a candle for prosperity. This is something that I have posted about before and had a couple of requests quite a while ago now about how I make this particular candle, so I am finally get around to sharing that.

Every year I like to make this candle on the Thursday of the full moon or waxing moon closest to Lughnasadh. I use beeswax and like to pour it into a mason jar, but really it would be fine with another type of wax and another heatproof container of your choice. I also used a cotton wick, but could be made with a wood wick too.

The plant materials I like to use, that are either traditionally or personally associated with prosperity are:

Grain chaff {this year I used oats}
Hollyhock leaves
Hawthorn berries

I also added patchouli and bergamot essential oils this year. I really like that combination of scents.

This can easily be converted to hand-dipped candles, molded candles {such as pillars} or tealights. If you are unfamiliar with candle making, The Spruce has some good tutorials.

And finally, please do take extra care when burning candles with herbs as they can catch fire on top of the wick. If unsure, use the herbs sparingly when first starting out and perhaps don't load up as much as the one pictured.



Friday, August 18, 2017

A Late Summer Woodland Respite

A friend and I decided to run to the forest for the day to take a wee break from all the craziness that is going on in the world. It was much needed and it's amazing what some moss, trees and critters will do for one's spirits. 

While it is not the same as being there in person, I wanted to share some of the beauty that I came across while out and about in the hopes that it may brighten your day as well, even if only for a moment.


Even in the darkest of moments may you all see some light and be blessed.



Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Will Go Forth With My Sickle...

"I will go forth with my sickle under my arm,
And I will reap the cut the first act.
I will let my sickle down
While the fruitful ear is in my grasp."

The above is from a Reaping Blessing, a suitable ritual that can be done for around Lughnasadh, the first harvest. Should you be interested, I posted about a reaping ritual during a previous Lughnasadh post a few years back.

As well, below you will find a lovely video done by Niamh Ní Ruairc about Lughnasadh in Ireland:

May this season be fruitful for you all!



Monday, July 10, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for July: Lore

This is my fourth post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, July's subject is Lore. The Roundtable asked:
"How important is lore to your practice? What emphasis do you place on it when reconstructing, reviving, or generally creating your faith? do you lean more towards one sort of Lore compared to another? Or do you treat them all equally? How often do you turn to Lore when you’re stuck or don’t know where to take your practice? Do you look at it for answers? And finally, what is your favorite piece of Lore?"
For myself, lore is very important and in many ways it is a foundation on which I base both my faith and my practice on; it is both a cornerstone and a compass of how I practice my spirituality and shape my worldview. Of course it is not the only influencing factor, but it does indeed play an important role.

I think that when one initially gets into Gaelic Polytheism, one of the first sources we turn to is myth {specifically Irish}; this can create some extra challenges as there are often contradicting stories within the various bodies of mythology. Talking about this can be a whole post unto itself, so I will just say that above everything else that this type of lore has to offer, it is most important to me in how I understand and interact with the Gods.

By and large, most of my practice is inspired by living traditions, or customs that were still in effect in the recent past. This is especially true for when it comes to devotionals and other types of rituals, as well as folk magic. More often than not, I am still left to fill in the gaps with some research, but to me that is half the fun.

Over the last couple of years I have been getting into more regional lore, specifically from around Co. Carlow and in certain spots in Scotland where some of my ancestors come from. As well, I have once again taken up interest in family lore, of both my blood ancestors as well as that of my partner. A lot of families seem to fancy themselves having other-worldly connections, whether it be with maidens that shape-shift into white deer or being descendants of Selkies. ;)

There is no one piece of lore that I can claim to be a favourite, although I do have a few resources that I frequent to access it or to get an idea of where to look. I have gathered a reading list {although it needs to be updated!} and an e-book & app resource list of titles that I have found especially helpful. Below are a few other sites that I regularly haunt for the same purpose:

Tairis- The Big Book List & Articles
Mary Jones
Tobar an Dualchais
CELT-Corpus of Electronic Texts
Sacred Texts
The Carmichael Watson Project

At the end of the day, whether the lore comes from living traditions, commonly told stores, or from a folktale found in the dusty pages of some obscure book, to me it is still important that it is tempered with gnosis, both personal and communal.

But, more on that at a later time.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Midsummer Frolics

This midsummer season has been a little bit different for me than others in the past decade or so, where I have not harvested as many herbs and such as I have in the past at this time of year. I am more focused on still getting to know the land, the local spirits and the flora and fauna.  

That is not to say that I haven't harvested anything, as I have been wildcrafting quite a bit, going out with my foraging buddy whenever we get the chance to make our way to the fields and forest. 

On Midsummer Day, after getting up before sunrise to greet the sun and make offerings at home, I went to some of my favourite spots in my area. After "paying the rent" to the spirits and some wildharvesting, I came back home to prepare some food for an evening barbecue that we were having with some friends to celebrate the solstice.

That night we stayed up later than we should, ate more than we should and probably drank more than we should as well. While paying for it the next morning, it was still worth it. ;)

Last week I headed off to the country for a few days to stay on my partner's family farm to both help with some work in the garden and to frolic in the fresh air and sunshine {and under the moon}. The property was at one time 240 acres, but has been parceled out to different members of the family. The better half's dad lives in the original farm house, which is 180 years old {!!!}, surrounded by a mixed forest, hay fields and some wetland. Pretty much paradise.

The weather was not the most agreeable to getting work done, so I will be heading back there again soon to help finish up the projects that have been planned for this year. So far we have got the hardscaping almost complete for a pollinator perennial bed, finished up a small succulent rock garden, and got some wood staining done. I am also working on convincing the father-in-law of creating a little wildlife habitat, which I think he is just about sold on.

And finally, this past weekend I went with some friends to a local art festival, Artfest, which we had all went to for the first time last year. The festival was held in beautiful City Park in downtown Kingston, and there were so many vendors there.

I ended up running into a fellow North Bayite, Josee of Northern Smittens. I recognized her booth right away and was so happy to see someone from my previous hometown. We have friends in common, and I have purchased her lovely mittens before, but other than that we don't personally know each other. Even still, as if we were old friends, we chatted and she filled me in on the recent goings-on up there and such. That is just how folks from up North are, warm and friendly. I highly recommend everyone checking out her site! Her mittens are so unique and cozy and she has a new line of other pretties too, including cushions and blankets.

The rest of our time there was basically one continuous sensory overload, and I ended up coming home with another pair of mittens from Josee, a couple of small stone cast pieces from Douglas McDonald, and some shortbread and preserves.

While I wanted to bring more home with me, my budget would only take me so far. So, being the tourist that I am, I took pictures of artworks that did not make it home with me.

{artwork a part of the Wandering Gnomes series Morgan Jones}
{image of an Icelandic horse by Morgan Jones}
{artwork a part of the Party Animal series by Morgan Jones}
{artwork a part of the Party Animal series by Morgan Jones}
{artwork by Kevin Joyce}
{fused glass poppies in antique window by Diane Proulx}
{Fairy Ring Toadstools and other pretties by Jayne Ayre}
{stone cast artwork by Douglas McDonald}

{the little woodland mouse is one of the casts by Douglas McDonald I went home with}

{Greenman stone cast by Douglas McDonald}

{the other little stone cast by Douglas McDonald I came home with, the beehive}

{more stone cast pieces by Douglas McDonald}
{Purlin's J's Roving Yarn...I could basically buy everything in this cute little truck}