Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pagan Dating on Facebook

For all the dating sites out there, few are pagan-specific and some are unworkable; however if you are on Facebook, there is a group for Single Pagans of the UK, which is small, but growing, friendly and provides an opportunity to socialise and network, allowing relationships to develop slowly and as naturally as possible over the internet; within a broad pagan context.

Single Pagans of the UK is also a great pagan social network in general.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Winter Solstice 2011 at Newgrange

The 2011 Winter Solstice Sunrise Illumination at the Newgrange World Heritage site will be broadcast live by Heritage Ireland on December 21st from about 8:30am (Ireland time, of course).

http://www.newgrange.com/webcast.htm

Winter Solstice 2011

Tomorrow evening marks the start of the longest night - midwinter solstice.   I shall be doing my usual, which involves spending the night outdoors in contemplation; however this year I will be doing a little more than usual, as circumstances have converged and the timing is ideal.

Although solstice doesn't really mark a formal festival for me, I spend the solstices in contemplation of my ancestors lives. I do this at the solstices partly because there are megaliths which have been shown to be aligned with either the midwinter, or midsummer solstice, so the solstice must have held some significance, even if modern man is not sure what. Generally, Samhainn is considered the time of the ancestors but, as time passes, I feel this is not necessarily the best time for their particular veneration, given in the myths it seems a time of games, boasts of past achievements, feasting and general celebration, though I would agree that, as with Bealltainn, our world and the otherworld seem closer.

I enjoy winter, as with the longer evenings/nights, I find myself more productive, perhaps because I am more focussed on the internal, be it home or dialogue, and not allowing outside distractions allows me to spend time more wisely, even efficiently.  It doesn't matter why though, I just enjoy the season for a number of reasons, including snow.   Winter is definitely my season and I would probably celebrate its zenith, regardless of whether or not a festival had been associated with it - christmas, Eponalia, Saturnalia, Jul, Mother's Night - or the megaliths had no peculiar alignment to the sunrise/sunset at midwinter.

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, or even if you don't, I should like to wish all readers of my sparsely populated blog, all the best for the holiday season, and a joyous and prosperous 2012.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Another Book Giveaway

The Pagan Writers’ Community are giving away another book: "Energy Work" by Robert Bruce.

This step-by-step approach to physical and emotional health shows how to use the body’s energy centers to speed healing.

In Energy Work, Robert Bruce offers a simple, easy-to-learn approach to self-healing based on his breakthrough system of Body Awareness Tactile Imaging energy work. Bruce explains how to use tactile imaging, based on one’s sense of touch rather than visualization, to stimulate the flow of vital energy throughout the body. This is a system that anyone can use, regardless of age, health, or previous experience. Readers learn how to awaken the body’s energy centers and move healing, vital energy throughout the body.

Energy Work offers exercises to:
  • Improve immune system function
  • Enhance vitality and self-healing ability
  • Increase psychic and spiritual abilities
  • Develop stronger and more intimate relationships
Bruce provides easy-to-follow illustrations along with a series of exercises that encourage safe, rapid results. This is a valuable guide for anyone seeking to take charge of his or her health.

The winner of this drawing will receive one (1) copy of “Energy Work” by Robert Bruce.

The drawing for this giveaway will occur on Friday, November 25th around noon CST. Entries (comments on this blog post) must be dated before then to be counted.

So, go to the Pagan Writers’ Community website, quickly, to enter.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

"Away with the Fairies" - BBC Broadcast

Dominic Arkwright asks why fairies, once threatening and scary meddlers in human affairs, have become innocent, pink and fluffy.

He’s joined by Irish storyteller Eddie Lenihan, fairy illustrator and writer Faye Durston, and folklorist Juliette Wood. We hear how Eddie successfully campaigned to save an ancient hawthorn near Shannon Airport which was threatened by a new bypass. It was, he argued, the portal to the other world of the fairies of Munster. The tree still stands, though surrounded by cars on three sides.

Listen here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016wx2p

It is available on iPlayer worldwide, but only for the next few days, and a worthwhile listen it is, too.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Upcoming Competition

The anthology, Pagan Paeans has sold well in the last few months between Cafe Press and Féile Draíochta.   Thanks to our generous contributors we now have enough to offer a decent prize for the Yule Competition!

So watch this space for details of how to enter!

You could win a gift voucher for Amazon, and a free copy of the new collection “IN and OUT” by Inga Brigitta.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Book Giveaway: Pagan Writers Presents – Samhain

The Pagan Writers Community are giving away a copy of their upcoming anthology, "Pagan Writers Presents – Samhain"

Go to the PWC blog to post a comment, as entries close later today.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Moon of Gomrath - Review

Author: Alan Garner
ISBN: 9626344709/9789626344705

Why did I choose this book? Because I had listened to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and enjoyed it very much.

What did I like? The pace of the adventure was faster than The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and the same characters gained some depth.

I loved the weaving of celtic and local myth, and folklore into the storyline as well as the concept of old and new magic. I appreciated the way Alan Garner chose to describe occurrences and, more importantly, feelings ascribed to the afterlife or in-between; it was almost beautiful.

What didn't I like? Unfortunately, I was not as enthralled as I was with The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and I found myself losing attention despite the wonderful narration of Mr Madoc. At certain points, I lost the any concept what was happening and I feel I may need a second listen, when not driving, to better appreciate this sequel.

I never heard an explanation as to how the Morrigan returned. As others have said, it felt more contrived with certain events seeming to happen at precisely the right moment purely to set-off another, and to provide the story with momentum.

So, despite the increase in pace, the further exploration of characters, and the fusion of folklore, myth, and landscape The Moon of Gomrath fell short of the standard set by The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but only because it is the sequel to a fine book.

Rating: 2½/5.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Seasons Turn

I've encountered many a blog, and online chatter about the change of season.  People seem to have noticed it more this year, and I must admit I am one.   I'm including a few - I feel appropriate - snippets of what I've seen today.

May the rains sweep gentle across your fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed you have planted bear fruit,
And late summer find you standing in fields of plenty.

Source:  Island Ireland.

~~~***~~~

Autumn's Arrival
by Starlight the Fox 

~~~***~~~
Her breath mists the twilit air, frost and pearl, as she mounts her horse, a steel grey beast of taut muscle and lean limbs, built for speed.


Pulling the collar of her cloak around her, she gazes out at the surrounding landscape. She owns it all, in a way which will never be written on parchment, never be lodged in the minds of men.

In the Realm of the Lady Winter ~ Ina.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Gnome and Mrs Meyers - Review



Author: Susan Klein
ASIN: B005D4Y77U


Why did I Read It? It came up as a recommendation over at Podio Books and the idea of a modern fairy tale appealed.

Synopsis: Mrs Meyers sleeps, eats and lives on the couch in her den. Though afraid of confrontation, Mrs Meyers works as a paralegal, and she enters sweepstakes in the hope of some luck to give her relief from the pressure of debt accrued after the prolonged illness and the death of her husband. Then, one morning, Mrs Meyers discovers she is the winner of the Expect the Unexpected sweepstake, and a mythical creature has come to stay with her. If Mrs Meyers can keep Mr. G. safe for the duration of his stay, riches will be hers and all her problems will be solved. But, Mrs Meyers really should Expect the Unexpected.

Short synopses of the various chapters can be read at Gnome Home Stay.

What did I like? This really is a modern fairytale. It's clear Susan Klein has thought long and hard about the story, in particular the make-up of the Gnome Nation from which Mr. G. hails. The audio version, in podcast format, to which I listened moved along at a fair pace. It's amusing, downright funny at times and I can truly hear the empathy Susan Klein has for her main character, Brenda.

This book could have been over-sentimental, but it's not. Mourning, loss, timidity and mild depression are explored within The Gnome and Mrs. Meyers, but with a level of (almost) understatement.

What didn't I like? I preface this with the statement that I work with Texans, and other Americans, but I was raised within a British household. It is a truly personal thing, but Susan Klein's accent when narrating was unpalatable - to begin with. After I while, I found her accent and her odd pronunciation of some words amusing, mostly because I came to equate her voice with that of Mrs. Meyers.

I realise it is difficult to narrate, and produce your own book for broadcast, but there were some hiccoughs: paper rustling; odd pauses as pages were turned; words missed; and doubling back on the text. These could be overlooked, as they didn't really spoil the story, and are only relevant to the audio edition.

I would have preferred if the author hadn't spent so much time on the backstory, and the expounding on the nature of the Gnome Nation; some of it felt superfluous, and only snippets were really required to move the story along. I would have preferred a bit more mystery, as found in older fairy tales when the reader is not always sure of motivation of various supernatural characters.

Would I recommend it? You bet. A great story with memorable characters, and creatures and, I suspect, an easy read; it is certainly an easy listen being only 22 (very short) chapters long. I certainly hope Susan Klein continues to write another modern fairy tales.

Rating: 6/10.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Book Give Away - Moon Mysteries



Red Moon Designs are giving away two copies of "Moon Mysteries: Reclaiming Women's Menstrual Wisdom". Go to the website of Red Moon Musings for details.

"Moon Mysteries is a unique and beautiful combination of breathtaking images, ancient matriarchal teachings and personal stories. Sims and Seeds boldly address the menstrual disconnect that women have been undergoing for centuries, but not without offering remedies to heal this split. Moon Mysteries invites all women to reclaim the wild and inherent menstrual wisdom that is their birth right."

Thursday, 8 September 2011

And a tempest cleared the path

I don't know about anyone else, but for me in the south-east of the country, the winds and driving rain that appeared earlier in the week appear to mark the first signs of Autumn.

At first, I thought summer had gone, but driving out today, I noticed the grassed areas scattered with lights of yellow as various flowers seemed to bloom.   Aside from which, a lovely set of taller-than-a-man sunflowers graced the yard of a terraced house along the A13, and there were dark red roses in bloom along one particular drive near to home.   Summer is just holding on it seems, but those gales did their best to clear the way for Autumn's arrival. 

For me the cool, crisp air of the nights over the last few weeks have been a signal of Summer's End, but this week as some of the leaves start to change colour, and this change in atmosphere combined with the recent storms have been akin to a flashing billboard with the announcement Autumn isn't coming; it's here.

Many bloggers I follow have already been harvesting mushrooms and have been since the beginning of August; our yew tree has already displayed its first crop of berries.  All the signs of Autumn appear to have started early, long before summer's blooms have finished their display.

So, with the last vestiges of summer being blown away with the winds and driving rain, I, too, will undertake my annual Autumnal clear out.  Anything not used in the last year, or that will not be used in the next year will be recycled, either through freegle, charity or sale.   My home will be reorganised and made comfortable for the coming cold months.   My short-term plans will be assessed and adjusted accordingly, including my reading.   In other words, I plan to have a stock-take and clear-out of my life and this will include all aspects of my spiritual life.

It will take some time, as I cannot work as quickly, or as quirkily as a gale force wind.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Author: Susanna Clarke
ASIN: B002SQ6U0I

Why did I read it? Because it had wonderful reviews. I enjoy magical, historical and fantasy fiction and, it has been lauded extensively. In the end, I did not read it, but listened to it, unabridged.

My Opinion? Let me preface this review by saying: I am a fan of Austen; I am a fan of Dickens; and I am a fan of Tolkien.

I am not a fan of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

I purchased two copies of this book, one on my way to Australia, which I promptly handed to my grandmother before a single page was read, the second on my return for my own use. I ended up purchasing an audio copy which was over 32 hours long.

Several times I stopped listening because I found it boring, despite the wonderful efforts of Mr. Prebble in voice characterisation. After a while, I knew which character was speaking simply by their voice. Mr. Prebble was also very adept at handling the footnotes in that I always knew when they had ended and he had returned to the main story. Mr. Prebble really tried to breathe life into this book. Alas, he was unsuccessful.

I probably took 15 hours before I discerned any sort of plot. Though it is said that in an Austen book, "nothing ever happens", it's not exactly true, whereas in the case of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I'm afraid that it's not until section 2 of the book (around the 15 hour mark on the audio) before matters progress and some semblance of a plot emerges.

For my own part, I could have done without knowing anything of Mr. Strange's actions in the Napoleonic Wars; I have no idea what they added to the plot other than for the purposes of ridiculing the perceptions of historical characters and, indeed, Mr. Strange himself. I felt some characters were shoehorned into the story even though they did not particularly add anything. The Graysteels being one instance: Apart from receiving Mrs Strange upon her return from Faery - Mr. Segundus might have been a viable alternative - I have no idea why they were created. Mr. Norrell’s servants whom Childermass directs to assist the two magicians at the last, but then desert, were another. Did I really need to know anything about them? Surely Lascelles would have fled if left on his own anyway?

Like others, I admire Susanna Clarke's ability to recreate the Regency era in a style entirely new, wherein magic "is simply an arcane branch of learning, like medicine or physics, and its practitioners as essentially applied scientists". I can also appreciate the attempt to write a pastiche of authors such as Austen and Dickens and to imbibe it with ironic humour; for me, though, it failed in its delivery.

Would I recommend it? I know I am in the minority, the awards bestowed upon Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are many, and the majority of readers can but sing its praises, but I just cannot recommend this book to anyone. I shall be disposing of my hard copy imminently.

Rating: 2/5.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

One Body : One Spirit : and a Soul
Uniting these and for it's only goal
The unique expression of Unity
In this life, and then for Infinity.

Many bodies : many forms : across Time
Uniting Plurality with what is confined.
We are, all of us, here forever
But only have one life to remember.

One life, and one life only, to know
All there is to know. For Soul to grow
From Oneness of being, plurally
Formed, again and again, endlessly.

Posted, with permission from Heron, 2011

Monday, 29 August 2011

Pitch to a Publisher Contest – Moon Books

Moon Books is an imprint of O-Books (John Hunt Publishing) and they have graciously offered to take part in our first publisher pitching contest. The prize: a chance to go through the entire proposal system for an opportunity to score a contract for publication. This contest is open to anyone who is interested in submitting a proposal for a manuscript that is either written or partially written.

The proposal can cover any aspect of Paganism: Asatru; Druidry; Heathenism; Wicca; Witchcraft, etc., but it must be non-fiction. To enter, please submit the following information, via email, to Trevor Greenfield (trevor.greenfield(at)o-books.net), Submissions Editor for Moon Books:
  • Author Name;
  • Book Title;
  • Book Status (Draft, Complete, Percent Complete);
  • Book Summary (100 word maximum);
  • Author Biography (100 word maximum);
  • Audience (If you had 500 copies, who would you sell them to and how?, 200 words maximum);
  • Attach a sample of the manuscript (25,000 minimum final word count).
The deadline for this contest is noon on Friday, September 30th. Each entry will receive a reply within five days.

Good luck!

Reblogged from the Pagan Writers' Community.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Downtime

Readers and subscribers to this blog may have noticed an increase in book reviews, and book-related posts appearing here in recent months.   The lack of other content is down to changes that have occurred over recent months.  The first is a result of a change in computing policy at work. 

Up until recently, I was able to use any downtime at work to surf the internet and there was unrestricted access to my favourite sites, which included blogs, Youtube, Facebook, and pagan fora.   Reading books was reserved for very long periods of downtime, at home as well as work, and so reviews were a little less frequent.  This meant that I was able to keep relatively up-to-date with current events in the pagan community and I was able to find inspiration for posts here, as and when my opinions and spiritual life was affected.  In recents months, restrictions have been applied to personal computing useage at work, including what we are allowed to post using our work ISP.   Posting an opinion on anything that is not work-related is prohibited and this includes the writing of, or commenting on personal blogs, posting on fora, or even clicking a "Like" button at places like Youtube, or photography sites.   This means that any posting I do on the internet must be done from my home computer and, as I only have mobile internet access, I have found myself culling a lot of my virtual reading materials, including several fora.   As the amount of downtime has not changed, but time on the internet has been severely limited, I have had more time to read actual books, hence the amount of reviews posted here.

The other reason for the influx of book reviews is that I have been invited to participate in a programme whereby in exchange for reviews, I receive items which are about to be released for sale.   Being a bit of a bibliophile, and an avid reader, I mostly receive books - though not always - and, when I submit my review for the product, I also post the review here.  These reviews are subject to a deadline so take priority over my own reading schedule, which is why it may appear book reviews may not necessearily relate to my personal (pagan) path.

Reading current events in the pagan world, musing over them, posting my own thoughts on other sites, and spending time drafting, editing and publishing entries on this blog has been profoundly affected.  I find myself a little out of touch with the greater pagan community in the virtual world, though my personal practices and connections (in the real world) are continuing unaltered.  As a result, I feel like Meanderings has become no more than a review site, which was never my intention. 

I hope valued readers, and subscribers you will forgive me while I try to find a more balanced approach to the content of Meaderings.  I expect to be able to upgrade to home broadband before the end of the year, which will allow me to write entries online, rather than offline, and allow me to flit between inspirational links as I draft posts.  I hope this will allow Meanderings to illuminate my wanderings along my personal pagan path, instead of my journey through the book shelves in the pagan library.

In the meantime, I should like to express my thanks to the readers, and subscribers of Meanderings for sticking with me - walking by my side - as I attempt to find my way.

Nature Mystic

Author: Barry Patterson
ISBN: 1906038295/9781906038298

This book of poetry from Mr Patterson is now a very firm favourite book. I received it two years ago, having purchased it after reading his "The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci" and enjoying the writing style, as well as content.   At the time I shelved it to be read later in favour of other books I was reading at the time and this may have been a mistake, except that I believe that, sometimes, things happen at the right time.

This past week has been rather erratic: one day good, the next horrible.  I keep books at work to read, but on one particular day which wasn't going well, I felt I didn't want to read what I had to hand, so before I left for work I searched high and low among my shelves for something a little inspiring.  I located "Nature Mystic" and put it in my satchel.

The day did not improve, and, in a quiet moment or two, I found time to read "Nature Mystic" and everything changed, because despite being a very slim volume every poem is worth spending time reading, and re-reading.

From the very first, I found myself thinking, indeed feeling different.  Barry Patterson has written very much from the heart about us, and our place in the world - man-made and natural.  His writing is earthy, inspiring, dark, light and reaches into my very being.  Reading his poetry changed the fortunes of my day.  It was a good day because I had this book, with its beautiful writing in my possession.

I should like to add some of the material here, but samples of Barry Patterson's writing can be read at his  website.  I don't have the ability to critique poetry [there are reviews on the net where you can read more scholarly critiques of this book], but, like art, I know what I like and I truly enjoyed, and appreciated "Nature Mystic".

I urge those who like (pagan) poetry to purchase and read "Nature Mystic".

Rating: 5/5.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Book Giveaway - Shadow of Death

The Pagan Writers’ Community are giving away one copy of a book and this time it is "Shadow of Death" by Karen Dales.

To quote Good Reads:
Death is the beginning. Life is the shadow. Released from more than one hundred years of revenge, the Angel of Death is no longer a tool for the Grand Council of the Chosen. He is finally free to return to a semblance of a life with Father Paul Notus. Haunted by nightmares of his past misdeeds and failings the Angel wants nothing more than to be left alone. It is across the Atlantic, in a foreign country, that he joins Notus, taking up the mantle once more as a protector in a land where those who would see him dead have flourished. Corbie Vale has not forgotten what the Angel has done. His own burning need to see the Angel humiliated and Destroyed sets into motion a carefully seeded plan despite warnings of greater retribution from the God of Death himself. Now in Corbie’s territory, the Angel’s sword becomes the lure to a trap, one that changes the Angel by giving him what he never dreamed of – mortality.
Please go to the website of the Pagan Writers’ Community for details on how to participate.

Good luck!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Testament of a Witch



Author: Douglas Watt
ISBN: 9781906817794

Why did I read it?  It was given to me in exchange for a review and I was keen on the idea of a fictional work set in Scotland during the the notorious witch hunts.

Synopsis:   John Mackenzie is an advocate in Edinburgh who is charged by a letter from a dead woman to investigate happenings in the village of Lammersheugh. He and his assistant, Davie Scougall, a man raised in religious superstition, arrive to find the dead woman's daughter, Euphame also accused of witchcraft and the enlightened Mr Mackenzie and his reluctant assistant must work quickly to save her.

What did I like? Douglas Watt keeps his chapters short and each has a different voice, focussing on one person, or section of the community and this keeps the story moving at a cracking pace.  The zeitgeist of the Scotland in the 17th century - the religious fervour and political unrest - is evoked with apparent ease and Mr Watt is explicit when describing the gruesome nature of the treatment afforded those accused of being in league with the devil but this adds to the feeling of uncertainty and terror of the time.

I enjoyed this book and sped through it keen to discover the underbelly of Lammersheugh with John Mackenzie, but unlike other murder and/or mystery books, I was unable to unravel the mystery ahead of the author's reveal.  For me, this is a big plus for the book.

What didn't I like?  Very little.  Some of the chapters were difficult to read as over half the chapter was  written in a Scottish dialect, though the few Gaelic phrases scattered throughout other chapters were translated into plain English.

 Would I recommend it?  Yes!  I would thoroughly recommend this book to others: friends, family and even my grandmother, a fussy reader.

Rating: 4/5.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A Charm to avert the Evil Eye

Another example of the use of a thread cure used as a charm to avert the evil eye, or droch-shùil, was collected by Alexander Carmichael on 10 April 1875, from the recitation of Fionnghal NicLeòid, Flora MacLeod, a cottar, from Carnan, Ìochdar, South Uist.
Read the whole article at the Carmichael Watson Project blog.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Book Giveaway

The Pagan Writers’ Community are giving away one copy of a book and this time it is "Shades of Faith" edited by Crystal Blanton.

To quote the Pagan Writers’ Community:

"Shades of Faith: Minority Voices in Paganism is an anthology that encompasses the voices and experiences of minorities within the Pagan community and addresses some of the challenges, stereotyping, frustrations, talents, history and beauties of being different within the racial constructs of typical Pagan or Wiccan groups.
Often the associations of the roots of Paganism have pushed assumptions that worshippers of Paganism are strictly Caucasian. The mainstreaming of Wicca has elevated images of worship and deity that connect with Celtic, Greek or Roman cultures. There are a lot of minority races that are practicing Pagans and are often having a myriad of experiences that are fashioned by the reality of walking between the worlds of their birth ancestry or culture and that of their spiritual culture. This anthology is an opportunity to share their stories and experiences with others around being the minorities within a minority spiritual community.
Some of the practitioners in this anthology practice paths that include (but are not limited to) Wicca, Voodoo, Umbanda, Shaman, Native and other Pagan paths.
Join us in celebrating the incredible diversity and beauty that encompass the harmony that has created the song of the Pagan community. The previously unheard voices of our community are now sharing the power of experience through the written word and through their voices."

Please go to the website of the Pagan Writers’ Community for details on how to participate.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction


Editors: PanGaia magazine and Llewellyn publishing
ISBN: 0738712698/9780738712697

What's it about? It's a selection of short stories from pagan authors as collected by a panel of judges for PanGaia magazine.

What did I like about it? There was variety so if you didn't like the style of one author, at least you could look forward to the next, in addition to which no one piece was overly long or short.

My favourite stories were A Valkyrie Among Jews by April, which incidentally was the winning story according to the Introduction to the book, and Black Doe by Vylar Kaftan.

A Valkyrie Among Jews examines pagan identity and the conflict that sometimes arises between the birth religion and paganism of converts. In this instance, the pagan convert is a woman working in a Jewish retirement centre where she is surrounded by the religion of her upbringing. Black Doe was a very well written story about a woman who is shunned by her tribe at her own request in order to feel free, but has to turn to the gods for help. According to the author, the story was written in response to challenge to write about "survivor's guilt about food poisoning and someone getting a haircut" (page 209) and the author certainly delivers. It's also the last story, so was a real treat.

I would be interested to read more work from either of these authors, which I suppose is the purpose of anthology: to bring new authors to the attention of readers.

What didn't I like? All but two of the stories in the anthology.

I'm afraid most of the pieces held no interest for me, and I continued reading only so I could discuss them with fellow readers in the book club. I found myself half a page in on one story, and already hoping the next work was better.

Every story involved the supernatural or fantasy in some way, i.e. there was no real, modern world stories which I think has been mentioned by another reviewer, Eli, here. I kept hoping I'd find a piece that wasn't overtly pagan, fantasy or magical but it never arrived. I've read pieces by pagan authors which have not fantasy, science fiction, magical or pagan elements but are just very good stories. One, in particular springs to mind; it's about a girl working behind a bakery counter as life passed by. There is nothing in the storyline that would label it as pagan; it addresses ordinary concerns from a pagan point of view, i.e. the author. I guess, though, this is not the anthology to find such a narrative.

I do enjoy reading books with magic, the supernatural, myth and manifest deity, but I would dearly love to see writing from pagan authors which veers from the expected genres and, in this regard, I think this collection missed an opportunity.

Would I recommend it? I would recommend the two stories I mentioned above, just not the whole book.

Rating: 2½/5.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Book Giveaway – Uneasy Lies The Head

The Pagan Writers' Community blog are offering "Uneasy Lies The Head", a book by S. P. Hendrick, as a giveaway.
"In the near future, Britain has given up its constitutional monarchy to become a republic. But though the crown is a museum piece and the family no longer bears its ancient titles, Stephen Windsor feels the stirrings of the lives of ancient Sacred Kings in his bones, which is not surprising as at key points in Britain's history he has been reincarnated to perform the supreme kingly act. And though the throne is empty and forgotten, the Land remembers, and calls once more for a crown upon a royal head... and royal blood upon the ground!"
Why not go over to the Pagan Writers' Community blog and see if you can't nab yourself a copy of this five star read, as rated by the reviewers at Good Reads?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World


Author: Signe Pike
ISBN: 9781848503724

What’s it about? According to the author, “It’s an examination of the loss of myth in modern culture” (page 9).   I would say it’s a personal exploration into the current belief (or lack thereof) in fairies in the modern world, as experienced by one young woman by travelling through Mexico, England, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland, all the while still grieving the loss of her father about whom she has mixed emotions.

By reacquainting herself with the belief in faery, Signe Pike feels she may find a way to work through the conflicting emotions she has following the loss of her father, but before undertaking the journey to faery, Signe relinquishes her job in publishing and moves interstate, away from the city.  Life-changing events indeed.   

Why did I read it?   Because it was offered to me.

What did I like about it?  It’s an amazingly easy read.   It shows that Signe Pike worked in the publishing industry, because the book is very well organised, with a warm voice, unimposing language and her memories of her father are interposed nicely with the main narrative.

Signe Pike clearly did her research and was enthused by her subject; her descriptions refrain from being flowery or expansive, but the impressions given provide a good image in the mind’s eye of the places visited.   Thankfully, too, the book progresses from the Disney-like fairy creatures to musings on the Sith, Sidhe and other historical manifestations of the “other crowd“.  

What didn’t I like?   The research undertaken was done post-travel, and there were errors.  For instance, on page 185 of the U.K. paperback edition, the following appears:
… elderflower liquor … made from the flowers on the hawthorn trees, you know, the faery trees“.
Elderflowers are from elder trees, which not unlike hawthorn is thought to reign back luck down on those who cut it down without permission, but most definitely isn’t the same as hawthorn.   Hawthorn does produce berries (haws) which can be made into wine though.

I didn’t agree with a lot of the connections/extrapolations the author made; some I felt were more than a step too far.  Many sites were missed out, owing to financial restrictions, and I felt some research before the trip might have been beneficial, but this is a personal journey, so I suspect serious research was beyond the scope of the book.

Would I recommend it?  Sure:  To those that really, really want to believe in that magic they knew as a child; to those that  want to dip their little toe in the mystical otherworld; to those going on holiday and want something easy and light to read, but nothing too serious; to those that might frequent Glastonbury, the town, not the festival.  

I would not recommend it to anyone that has spent time traversing the Otherworld; I just don’t think they would appreciate it very much.

Rating: 3½/5.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lughnasa Live

RTÉ broadcast this programme on Sunday, 31 July 2011 in celebration of Lughnasa:  Lughnasa Live.  Now, you can watch this 55 minute long programme which includes snippets on selkies, Eddie Lenihan on the loss of the renowned Irish storytelling, and much more.

Enjoy!

Monday, 25 July 2011

9th Century Irish Myth and the Internet

I read this and thought it needed reblogging, because it is an inspired connection between the Irish myth and the internet of today.

From Mo Thearmann:

This always comes to mind when I see people acting like idiots online. It's from Tecosca Cormaic (The Instructions of King Cormac).

"O Cormac, grandson of Conn", said Carbery, "What is the worst pleading and arguing?"

"Not hard to tell", said Cormac.
"Contending against knowledge,
contending without proofs
taking refuge in bad language
a stiff delivery,
a muttering speech
hair-splitting
uncertain proofs,
despising books
turning against custom
shifting one's pleading
inciting the mob
blowing one's own trumpet
shouting at the top of one's voice.
"

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Trance Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World


By: Diana L. Paxson
ISBN: 9781578634057


What I like:  The book is very well organised and the information is solid.  The book is designed to be read over a period of months, as each chapter's exercise is undertaken and understood before moving on to the next.   The text contains an appendix aimed at teachers who are taking students through the process of trance.  As such, this book is suitable for teaching groups though the author suggests it is suitable for solitary students.

What I dislike:  the style of delivery rather dry and uninspiring; I had to push myself to read the book, as it was part of a book club group read. I am not a newcomer to trance, and perhaps this made it more difficult for me to engage with the information provided.

There appears to be a serious flaw with the book: the author assumes every reader is capable of adapting each exercise to their own tradition, but this is not always the case. For instance, if the reader is also new to particular path, faith or tradition they will have no understanding of the landscape traversed by followers, or the deities, entities, etc. and, as such, will not know how to adapt the exercises therein. Although Paxson does provide some examples, these are not comprehensive and this could leave a newcomer rather at a loss.

Would I recommend it to others:  As it is aimed more at the newcomer, I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone for the reasons stated above; however, I would think it suitable for students to work through with their teachers.

Rating:  3½/5.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Labels

"I don't believe what I do because I am a polytheist animist; I am a polytheist animist because of what I believe."
This is paraphrasing Paul Mitchell speaking on Druidcast Episode 51, who made a similar statement in relation to druidry. 

I came to the reconnectionist polytheist community rather late in life.  My fundamental beliefs though have remained unaltered since I was 6 years of age^.   I know this seems ridiculous given people learn and grow over their lifetime, but the core of my beliefs have not altered, rather I have expanded, and deepened my understanding of the universe and my place in it over the years.   I never really understood the whole Catholic culture within which I was raised.  I honestly thought Catholicism, indeed Christianity as a whole, was just an eloborate play put on for children.  I felt the same way about Santa Claus.

I have always believed in the ability to manipulate reality, i.e. magic a recent thread on a forum confirmed this wherein I noted one of the books that changed my life was a book of fairytales full of people who could wield this supernatural power.  I never believed in just one god who created all (a.k.a. intelligent design), but I sort of understood an underlying energy force that permeated everything whether supposedly alive or inanimate, but I could not express this until I was much older.  I always thought I was odd because of these thoughts.   Bearing in mind I attended religious schools, everyone around me seemed deeply religious and so I felt an outsider by believing what I did.   As I grew up and moved onto another religious school, I had conversations with my principal (Sister Marcella) about how the bible could be reconciled with scientific thought.  Sister Marcella was very patient with me and gave me pause for thought, but I still felt like my beliefs were unacceptable to society as a whole.   Even through the New Age movement, I didn't quite gel with what other people said was so.

Finding the pagan religions late in life didn't really change my beliefs.  My first encounters were with neo-wicca groups and, though these groups held similar beliefs, we were never really a match.   Cue chance encounter with a heathen and suddenly hard polytheism* comes into view.   You would think I might have encountered or, at the very least, googled these religions and their names long beforehand, but the internet wasn't that big when I first found the pagan communities.  As the world wide web expanded and Wikipedia came along, I began to understand how my thoughts, seeded as a child, and now maturing, were not unusual but were the subject of study; had modern-day followers and adherents; and had names.

These days there seems to be a reluctance to use labels, but, for me, why use a long-winded monologue to express what you believe, when you can reduce it to a few words.   Finding a term for my beliefs came as a relief because I had grown up with people who identified with Catholic and Christian, just two short words that encapsulated all that they held dear, whereas I had none.

There are many words that can express a single part of me, but none that encapsulate the whole, no one word really could, when you think about it, e.g. I have more than one given name as well as my surname.   So, if you want to know more about me, here are some labels which you can attach to me:
animal, animist, bibliophile, bitch, confidante, consumer, cousin, creator, dabbler, Darwinist, daughter, descendant, destroyer, diviner, drop-out, female, fool, foreigner, friend, grand-daughter, heathen, human, immigrant, interloper, introvert, listener, niece, observer, pagan, photographer, (wannabe) poet, polytheist, predator, reader, romantic, shrew, sister, student, subject, thinker, traveller, watcher, woman ...

I will continually add to this list over the coming weeks as I do some further exploration.  Apply any of the above labels to me, if you will, I truly don't mind.  They don't define me; well, not all of me, just one small part of who I am.























^ I'm sure you've heard this before and you're sick of it, probably don't even believe it, but do read on.
* I use the term hard to distinguish between those polytheists that believe all god/esses are one god/ess, and those who believe as I do that all are separate individuals/identities.  In no way does the use of hard imply my beliefs are truer or superior to those of soft polytheists.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Lost Scottish Folk Tales to be Published Online

Today, the BBC published an article about the notebooks of Alexander Carmichael being published online.   It is believed that his Carmina Gadelica, published in 1900, contained only one-tenth of his material, so when the material from his notebooks is published online at The Carmichael Watson Project today, we should be in for a treat.

I am going to try and find a way to see the Exhibit at the Edinburgh University Library.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Revelation

In concentrating on my own pursuits, I have come to learn something I found rather surprising.   The religion in which I grew up, the religion I thought was wholly ingrained in one line of my family is only three generations deep.

As it turns out, my links to Ireland are to a protestant line in all but one branch of my family tree.  The conversion is mostly likely because of my ancestors married a Catholic and, at the time, the church required those marrying a Catholic convert before marriage.

I have found it interesting to learn there are practices within my family line that would be considered dubious, if not wholly unacceptable by the church and to learn that there are two definite lines along which my predecessors were known for certain things that might fall under the heading of psychic or magical.  Until I explored my personal beliefs and came to my current path, I had never heard these things discussed, yet the more I delved into my family tree, the more my family became open to discussing those who came before and, given my interests, provided me with information which they thought relevant.

I don't claim to come from a long line of witches - certainly no-one in my family wants to be associated with such a term - but what modern day pagans and witches might term magical practices or psychic ability certainly has shown itself in my family's past, they just didn't use the same terms I might.   I have found it suprising, always believing I was the only one who held such interests.   To learn, just last year that one of my cousins (whom I thought devoutly Catholic) is heavily into Crowley was also somewhat of a shock.

I have had some very interesting conversations with my grandmother about her little nuances but the idea that I might equate this with a religion or magical practices is abhorrent to her as she is extremely anti-religion/faith, being a confirmed atheist.   Even so, her knowledge of certain areas is invaluable to me and, if I can catch her in the right frame of mind, we have interesting discussions about "knowing".

All in all, I realise now that rather than look to the outside for inspiration, or influence I should have been looking to my own clan all along.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Making Connections

So I realise I have been quiet with this blog and an update is long overdue, for which I apologise. I haven't really much to say, as not much has really caught my attention or had an impact.

I missed my trip to the megaliths of Wales owing to illness, but during my convalescence I renewed my acquaintance with my family tree research, prompted by a query from a distant cousin researching one particular branch. Since then, I have spent more time getting to know my ancestors - who they were and what they did.

I've found myself spending the same amount of time on the internet, though mostly sifting through archives for information on ancestors rather than the websites I usually visit. As it turns out, I didn't miss a lot of the websites I once visited and so, once again, I had a huge spring clean and many websites have fallen by the wayside; most of them pagan or pagan-related.

It's time, I think, I concentrated on the things I enjoy, rather than pottering around places on the net to fill in time at work when it's quiet. So, my resolve is to spend more time learning about the family members from my past (and trying to find that elusive Scottish connection - I may actually have one!), spend more time on my photography, my reading and writing of poetry, and learning Gaelic. Life is far too short to just fill in time and, I believe, to do so would be a disservice to myself; and, to my mind, somewhat dishonourable to the memory of my ancestors who might have placed a much higher value on "free time".

So, if things remain quiet here, you'll have an idea of what I might be up to.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Dunchraigaig Cairn, Kilmartin

Dunchraigaig by i-c-photos
Taken on 2010 tour of Scotland and Outer Hebrides with Megalithic Tours.  I fully intend to return to the Kilmartin area to explore the historical sites and spend some time at the wonderful Kilmartin House Trust Museum.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Three Stones of a circle located on Machrie Moor

Three Stones on Machrie by i-c-photos
A picture taken on a tour of the west of Scotland with Megalithic Tours in 2010.  One of the many stone circles of Machrie Moor on the isle of Arran.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Prayer of the Woods

Prayer of the Woods by krist.lawrence
prayer of the woods, a photo by krist.lawrence on Flickr.


This image has appeared on a few blogs that I read recently and, well, I like it, so it's being posted here, too. Given the UK government's recent strategies, this seems more than appropriate.

This images comes courtesy of Krist Lawrence, who posted it on Flickr.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Review: "Ravenwood" by Nathan Lowell



Author:  Nathan Lowell
FormatPodcast/Audiobook

After reading other reviews of "Ravenwood" I decided to download it and give it a try as my preferred listening option on the commute to and from work. The author, Nathan Lowell was a far superior narrator his own story than others to whom I had listened and, though the plot developed slowly, I was happy to listen further to the pleasant reading.

I have to admit I was at a loss as to the time and place that Tanyth, the main character, inhabited. At once, it seemed to be the past but I could not figure the exact time or even a location and this niggled me - just a little. After a while, however, I settled into her story and as new characters were slowly introduced I felt more and more comfortable.

The story centres around Tanyth, a woman who travels (on foot) from place to place learning from the wiser of her sex about herbs - growing, eating and medicinal applications. To keep herself safe she travels dressed as a man and it is clear, almost from the start, there is something in Tanyth's past which has led to this path; her history is glimpsed occasionally as the story develops.

On her way to meet another wise woman, Tanyth finds herself in a hamlet of young people who seem a little out-of-place. As one of their number falls ill, Tanyth skills are called for. Eventually the residents convince Tanyth to stay over the winter before resuming her travels and teach two of the community's number to do for themselves, their own healer having passed away. Tanyth finds herself undergoing personal changes in the hamlet, as the residents and their activities come under scrutiny from undesirables.

"Ravenwood" is peppered throughout with rituals which have their basis in wicca and paganism; some of this feels a little forced, whereas the herbal lore easily slips into the storyline. It also contains a fair bit of violence, and I found it difficult to listen to one section near the end of the story in which the author describes some wounds rather graphically. Nathan Lowell is very descriptive, but not overly so, to the point where a picture is easily built within the mind. He manages to create the environment and atmosphere of Ravenswood, slowly but surely, and eventually you fall into Tanyth's world only to be disappointed when you finally leave, all the while hoping that you will one day be able to return. Nathan Lowell has indicated this is part one of further adventures of Tanyth Fairport and I, for one, will be listening again.

Rating: 4/5.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Earth Hour 2011


Tomorrow I will be taking part in Earth Hour, an event organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (otherwise known as the WWF) as a reminder to ourselves, and world leaders that we need to tackle climate change, and our impact on nature urgently.

It started just four years ago in Sydney, but has now grown to a world-wide phenomenon. It's easy to take part, and easy to register. It's a great reminder of just how much we rely on technology we don't need, because you will have fun with the lights off (No! Not necessarily that kind of fun) and the power off. Boardgames by candlelight, storytelling by firesides and so on.

Really, I urge you to take part, let's see what the stars really look like over our cities when the lights go down for an hour. It's not much, even my workplace take part as do a number of usually brightly-lit landmarks.

Go on: register now. Just be sure to click on the right link for your country.

And, enjoy the company of friends by candlight for a hour tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Truth v. Intolerance

Once again, I find myself worked up over the dissemination of misinformation by pagans - the catalyst for this blog post being the celebration of St. Patrick's Day.   This year, and last the Wild Hunt have done an excellent post on the matter of St Patrick and his supposed "genocide of the druids".

For me, it's important to get as close to the truth as possible, especially with regard to historical matters but, for others, "gut feelings" and wild supposition is just as valid proof as personal letters and biographies.  It seems some pagans want to play the game of martyrdom themselves and will rely on fabrications to do so. Myself, I am not into denigrating other religions just for the sake of it, though sometimes I am happy to criticise my fellow pagans. Some of my best religious discussions have been with those of another faith. Thus, I find myself intolerant of those pagans who would spout spurious information to all and sundry, disregarding reason to do so and without thought to the detrimental effect on others, especially when it appears to be no more than petty point scoring.  It would appear that critical thinking, and fact-checking is not an admiral trait in some pagan circles. 

I wish I wasn't this intolerant; I wish I could just let things lie and walk away, but somehow I can't. I get myself embroiled in these pointless arguments and when I request source materials but get no sensible response, I find myself getting frustrated, annoyed and then angry.

Let's face it, though it is just no good arguing with sheep.

I find myself intolerant of those that are happy to be sheeple* yet I have no right to be so. After all, isn't ignorance bliss, and what gives me the right to judge?  Perhaps this is something I should work on?   I have walked away from a lot of pagan groups, events and websites because I just couldn't stand the lack of common sense or individual thought amongst attendees.  Maybe it's that time again?  Time to walk away and stick with those who are happy to have questions asked of them; those who willingly point me in the direction of source materials enabling me to do the research myself and reach my own conclusions or, at the very least, eliminate a few theories and/or return with further questions.

What can I do to improve on this intolerance?  I suppose I could always become a real hermit, so I only have to be mindful of myself.   Or, I could stick to those fellow pagans who think as I do ... but then ... isn't that just avoiding the issue?  I could give up searching for the truth, facts, accuracy, or substantiated claims.   I have ruled out becoming a sheeple myself.   Are there any other options? 

Thoughts anyone?














* Those who act like sheep and run with the herd without question, even over a cliff.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Magical Realms Stamp Issue


The Royal Mail postal service in the UK has issued a new series of stamps featuring characters from myth and fiction with a magical bent.  Nanny Ogg and Rincewind from the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett, Aslan and The White Witch from "The Chronicles of Narnia", Dumbledore and Voldemort from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and Merlin and Morgan Le Fey from Arthurian legend.



Friday, 11 March 2011

Brighid

Through another blogger, Tairis, I found links to two programmes on Brighid from Ireland. Although in Irish, they come with English subtitles.

Part One - pre-Christian Brighid; and

Part Two - into Christianity and the modern era.



Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Reviews: "Shadowmagic" and "The Prince of Hazel & Oak"

ShadowmagicShadowmagic: Prince of Hazel and Oak



Author: John Lenahan
ISBN:   1905548923/978-1905548927 (Shadowmagic)
              0007425597/978-0007425594 (Prince of Hazel & Oak)

"Shadowmagic: Prince of Hazel and Oak" is the sequel to "Shadowmagic" by John Lenahan and, despite being aimed at young men, these books appeal to me immensely. Okay, so I haven't actually read the books but listened to the podcasts downloadable from iTunes and Podiobooks, but I am going to buy the books and I am going to give them to friends because I think that John Lenahan knows how to write a rip-roaring tale. Yes, the main character is a bit obnoxious at times, but show me a teenage boy that isn't.

The Shadowmagic series runs at a face pace and is packed with adventure and humour. Both books are set in the land of Tir Na Og where fairies, banshees, pucas, brownies and sentient trees reside and into this world was thrown young Conor, the said Prince of Hazel and Oak, who grew up in the real world not knowing his was the heir to the House of Oak, his father having kept this secret from him all his life in order to protect Conor from his uncle, Cialtie, who was determined to kill him.

In "Shadowmagic: Prince of Hazel and Oak", after making it back to real world from his first adventure in Tir Na Og, Conor finds himself in yet more trouble as the police believe he has murdered his own father who has gone missing. The truth is, Conor's father is mortally ill and so, once again, Conor is hurled back to Tir Na Og, but this time there is a stowaway: the policeman, Brendan, who is determined to see Conor brought to justice. Conor now find himselfs struggling to save his father's life, and save Tir Na Og from Cialtie, with the help of his loyal friends and one confused policeman.

Sure, Conor can be a bit obnoxious at times, but what teenage boy isn't? His friends soon knock it out of him, and the supporting characters are fantastic, loveable at times, and they are what really makes these books a joy. Well ... okay, the storytelling skills of John Lenahan have a lot to do with it and his reading for the podcasts is of exceptional quality for Podiobooks.

Seriously, folks: read "Shadowmagic" and "Shadowmagic: Prince of Hazel and Oak" for a rip-roaring tale of a boy's own adventure in the Otherworld.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, 28 February 2011

Tradition/Judgement

The title is a reference to two Greenwood Tarot cards that have drawn today.   The first was from my real-life deck, the second from the online draw; both are more than relevant.   A chance chat with a relative in Ireland has shown some light on something I had (almost) forgotten.   Now, I am intrigued and am planning a trip there for this year; something I had not planned to do for several years.

I have previously mentioned on this blog how I have only known about my maternal family history for a short time.  Now, this morning, a light has been shone on my paternal line from a source from which I generally keep myself distant (family/personal issues).   I have been made aware that certain things have also been passed down my paternal line, though very much out-of-sight.  An offer has been made and I feel ... no!  I know that I cannot refuse.  I am more than surprised and, if I am honest, nervous.

I am vaguely aware that this will mean change and a significant change at that.  When it comes to personal matters, I have always been wary of change, fearful even, but this one seems necessary though once on the other side I am generally adaptable.  This, though, is something I have wanted but pushed to the back of mind (that old wariness again) and now, it appears it has arrived.

So, the Tradition card relates to my family and its history and the Judgement card relates to the following:
"The only thing in life that is assured is that if you wait long enough, it will change. How you survive that change and who you are after change is down to you. The major element in this process is judgement of yourself and others. This may relate to an assessment regarding a personal matter or situation, and could be linked to the process of forgiving. It may also relate to a group or social decision.


In the process of judgement, both as an individual and on the universal level, honesty is the key. Be honest, be forgiving, be patient, but most of all, be assured change is at hand.


Remember, the universe has a long memory. Nothing is ever forgotten.


...


Your approach to the issues in this card affects your future, decides the nature or even the possibility of your rebirth.


The entrance to a passage grave beckons you; this is a place to lay your past to rest, a still safe sanctified space in which the parts of your life can be reconstituted after the trauma of Death. (see Rebirth, eight of cups).


You are sensitive, and require someone to stand watch for you; either the highest part of oneself, an ancestral guardian... "*

I think the above is able to convey what I am unable put into words here.  I do these online draws for fun when I am bored and they have no bearing whatsoever but, in this one instance, it is a strange coincidence. 

It's only three hours in and already it's proving a fateful and enlightening day.












* From The Greenwood Tarot.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Me Time


Grey and misty morn'
Just after the dawn
Cold crisp breath
Giving me new life
Long, dawdling walk
As only the birds talk
Relishing the serenity
Ahead of the day's insanity.

© Ancestral Celt 2011

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Dream Work

For months now the passenger side window is my car has not been working and I have been meaning to get it fixed, but other things have taken priority.   I get a chance to test it regularly, oft time because I forget it's broken.

Last night I had a dream that I was driving in my car and the window was down and I couldn't get it up again, and the wind was whistling through the car.   So, as I was driving this evening I tried the button again, not remembering it doesn't work and it went down.  Then I remembered it had been broken for months and my thoughts turned to the dream I had last night and I wondered about the connection.   I've been having crazy dreams the last week: not bad dreams or nightmares, just bizarre scenarios that aren't connected to anything in particular like the puppy and new kitten talking to each other about day to day happenings around the farm.  So why was last night's dream so prophetic?  Was it prophetic or was my subconscious doing the "work" I should have been doing myself?  It is a dark/new moon energy this week and I find gale-like winds such as have been whipping their way across the countryside powerful ~ I work best with storms and crazy energy ~ so perhaps a part of me (that part that sleeps most of the time) took advantage.

Either way it's a crazy situation: a long electrical/mechanical failure rights itself and I have a dream about it the night before I find it's fixed.

A Treat

For Imbolg this year I decided to treat myself to a session on candle-making.  It's a long time since I've done any kind of workshop and practical things often elude my fumbling digits.  The course is being run by the same people who managed to instill in me an ability to mix, blend and burn credible loose incense and it's the one practical thing I can do and am proud of, despite some seriously stinky mistakes.

I am not sure which kinds of candles we will be making, but I am looking forward to it.   Even if I only learn the process and cannot recreate it myself, I will be happy.  I will be sure to post a review of the workshop here, once I have had time to digest what I've learned, if anything.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Save our Ancient Forests (UK)





Following Rowan's and Solsticedreamer's posts i am posting this for the benefit of uk readers of my blog.  Our ancient woodland is under threat from privatisation, and needs all the support we can give.

Click here to take you to the petition.

Besom Engine

Another borrowed blog:



graveyarddirt:
EARLY 19TH C BESOM ENGINE, via Ebay
Early nineteenth century blacksmith made besom engine or to use its more common name besom clamp. This was a tool that was used in the manufacture of besom brushes or using there more common name witches broomstick.This tool was used to clamp the birch twigs to the hazel handle.
There were two ways this tool could be used. One way was to secure the spiked end into the ground, place the twigs around the bottom end of the hazel handle and place into the jaws of the clamp. Then using your foot apply pressure on the clamp handle to close the jaws together and then you can bind the twigs onto the handle. Alternatively you could secure the clamp in a bench vice and repeat the process using your hand.
This is obviously a rare item and as such would make a wonderful piece for the collector of rural crafts.
A picture of my new baby. Sexy little beast, right?