Is it really Spring Equinox?


Yesterday it was snowing, today, a bank holiday, we have icicles outside the conservatory, the water in the water feature is frozen and we were going to go and have a walk on the beach but it’s sooooo cold brrrr. It really doesn’t feel like tomorrow is Spring Equinox.

As at Autumn Equinox tomorrow the light and dark will be in equal balance. Unlike at Autumn Equinox when the dark begins to take over, tomorrow it is the light that begins to return. I am hoping that along with the the light comes some much needed warmth.

It is not just me that is feeling the cold, the birds are eating us out of house and home having devoured a large drum of bird food in three days instead of the week to ten days it usually lasts. They have two bird feeders, a bird table and a feeder full of fat balls yet it still seems barely enough. Our daffodils are struggling, the furry shoots on the pussy willow seem to have gone into suspended animation and spring bulbs that would normally be showing signs of life are nowhere to be seen.

It is though much lighter than even a couple of weeks ago. There is a definite stretch in the day and on days when the sun appears there is beginning to be some warmth in it.

One of the things that it can be nice to do at Spring Equinox is to plant some seeds, often having spent time breathing plans and ideas for the months ahead into them with the idea that as they germinate and grow they will act as a reminder and a focus for your own plans. This year though if I am to do that I will need to plant them in a pot to be kept inside or in the greenhouse, as the ground is too hard and lacking in the warmth needed to germinate them.

For me, what is more important than doing anything specific, holding a ritual or ceremony, is to be aware of the turn of the wheel, the passing of time and the shift into a new part of the year. It may not feel like spring, nature may not be showing me it is, but the balance of light and dark will still be there tomorrow and this also gives me chance to stop and find the balance within myself if I give myself the time to do so.


A Rare Snow Event

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I live in the south of Ireland and we really don’t get snow…..ever…..and if we do it never looks like this, it never lays on the ground and it never, ever stays. This though we are being told is only the start, tomorrow, tomorrow night and into the next day is going to be worse with blizzards caused by a storm coming up from the Bay of Biscay.

This may not look like anything for those of you who are used to it but for us it is so unusual we are not equipped for it. Schools, the doctors surgery, the gym and who knows what else are all closed. Roads are impassible and we are all advised to stay at home.

I’m tucked up in the kitchen with the fire roaring but only after making my way outside to the shed for wellies, an extra bird feeder, more bird food and a shovel to clear the snow off the coal bunker so I could get in coal for our two multi fuel burners.

If it stays sunny and safe a walk might be on the cards, after all it seems a shame to only watch this from inside 🙂


You can just see part of my stone circle in the snow.


My car is under here somewhere.

These photos were all taken first thing this morning and it’s snowed since then plus our orange weather warning has just been upgraded to red so it’s going to be interesting in the days ahead.


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Winter is never my favourite season mainly due to the fact that I don’t like the cold and damp, so I can always be relied upon to be a bit biased but this year Winter already seems so long. January seemed to last forever for some reason and I know from conversations with people that I am not alone in feeling this. This year I was more than happy to have actually turned to the new calendar month of February and the beginning of Spring.

A few years ago after spending much of my life telling anyone that would listen that February was my least favourite month, one that I was always glad to have over with the promise of better days ahead, I did some exploring. I discovered that this was in fact the month where we really begin to welcome back the light that we have been waiting for since Winter Solstice and there certainly does seem to be a stretch in the days now. I also learnt that the original Roman name for February was Februarius, named after the Latin Februum meaning Purification. I found out that every year on 15th February, the night of the full moon in the old Roman Lunar calendar, a Purification ceremony known as Februa was held. February is also where we find the period known in the pagan wheel of the year as Imbolc which may have got its name from the old Irish Imb-tholc meaning to wash or cleanse oneself in a ritual cleansing. This may also of course be where our idea of Spring Cleaning came from.

These discoveries gave me a way to approach the month so that has some purpose By  connecting with it in a different way I am beginning to appreciate it more fully.

I now try to use the month of February to cleanse, purify and prepare myself for the months ahead. By doing this I am know I preparing the ground for the seeds of whatever I want to bring in during the coming months. I have been doing this now for the last couple of years and am finding that each year it takes a different form. Sometimes I am drawn to a physical cleanse, other times it is an energetic one and some years a mixture of both.

The Romans would have made the whole month a time of cleansing and purification which seems a bit OTT and spring cleaning the whole house sounds like hard work but there are always a few nooks and crannies that I know get overlooked during the quick lick and polish it gets usually.  Already this month the house has been given a thorough hoover, working with the element of water floors have been washed and the doors and windows opened wide both in the house and the healing room to let the element of air do its work. In the shower this morning I was also mindful of taking time to cleanse my body, paying attention to how it was feeling and enjoying spending time with myself rather then rushing as I usually am.

Maybe this is partly what cleansing and purification does. By taking time, paying attention, seeing and sensing what is there we are more mindful of what we are doing. The more mindful we are, the more we can see what really needs to be done. If we spend time living with awareness as we cleanse and purify we can see beyond the surface, beyond the superficial. This is then something that may also be good to carry forward into the rest of our lives, what better way to sow the seeds for the months ahead than to use February to learn to live each moment with awareness.




Ross Heaven, Shaman and Author

Yesterday morning I received the sad news that Ross Heaven, Shaman and author had sadly and unexpectedly passed away.

I never managed to meet Ross in person but he was kind enough to write a review of my book ‘Web of Life’ despite having no idea who I was and when I decided to do the distance work based on his excellent book ‘Medicine for the Soul’ he proved himself to be the most supportive teacher, guiding, challenging and generous in the sharing of his own experiences.

If you have never read any of Ross’ books you are missing a real treat. His works are wide ranging in their themes from his own early training with Adam, the Sin Eater he knew as a child in Wales in ‘The Sin Eater’s Last Confessions’, his own journey and changing relationships in ‘Drinking the Four Winds’, and his interest in working with plant spirits in both Plant Spirit Wisdom and his mini series on the teacher plants of Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Salvia. This is just a snippet of what Ross wrote so when you have finished reading this why not head away and see what else there is and if it speaks to you.

Many of us will miss Ross for all kinds of personal reasons as the post I am sharing from today’s Indie Shaman Blog will confirm.

Travel well Ross, I for one am very glad our paths crossed.

Yesterday we were shocked and saddened to hear of shaman and author Ross Heaven’s sudden passing from this world. Ross was one of a kind and will be long remembered by the many people whose lives he touched. As well as writing many books and running courses, Ross ‘had time’ for people – he inspired,…

via Ross Heaven – Shaman, Author, One of a Kind — Indie Shaman


Every year I go into solstice with idea about how I might mark the occasion and every year it works out differently. Think I’d learn wouldn’t you.

I began this year thinking I might see if anyone was around to drum, then quickly realised everyone was working, then I thought I’d watch the live link from Newgrange and during the day make a Despacho, a form of prayer bundle which I could then offer to the spirits in a solstice fire in my stone circle. This way I could drum while the spirits consumed the bundle along. Did any of this happen? No!

Instead an incredibly dark solstice morning found me driving to the dentist as I had a niggly tooth and needed to get it checked out before Christmas. During the drive, feeling disappointed not to be watching the sun fail to rise and illuminate the passage at Newgrange (it was a dull misty, damp morning everywhere in Ireland) when I realised that just as I often do a sign and omen walk I could do the same whilst driving as long as I was careful to also pay attention to the road of course. So shifting my awareness I asked for signs and omens for the day that was in it. Sure enough I soon became aware of my focus being drawn first to the bare trunks of clusters of birch trees as I drove past, then my gaze lifting above the trees and hedgerow to the lightness beginning to grow in the sky in the distance and finally to the crow flying directly towards me. As crow is someone I work with and whom is around often I asked for confirmation and was rewarded with a second crow immediately flying from a tree across the road in front of me. As with all signs and omens the real comes later in interpreting these and so I held onto them until I could sit, journey, gain insight, reflect and make sense of what I had been given.

Returning home, tooth sorted I was again disappointed that the weather was even worse. I had driven home through thickening fog and miserable drizzly rain neither of which are conducive to drumming outside and fire ceremony. So a quick rethink found me in my log cabin where I was guided to select two cards from Ted Andrews, Nature Speak Cards. I thought I was drawing these for myself until I was guided to draw a third which was solely for me and realised the first two were also to share here.

The first card was drawn for the darkness and was: Tulip – Trust in your efforts

Sometimes we feel that we aren’t really getting anywhere, making any progress but our efforts are working and rewards are coming if we continue to stay focused on them and to discriminate as to how and where to use them.

The second card was drawn for the light and was: Garden – Time for nurturing

This is a reminder to nurture yourself and to do things that give you joy, to sow new seeds in your life and then watch them grow. Doing this will stimulate new energies around you.

I have a suspicion that the signs and omens I received on my drive were also meant to be shared hence this blog post but as with all shamanic work the interpretation of them for anyone other than me is not mine to make. Basically, without going into details, for me the three signs together show me what I need to release and what I need to grasp hold of and carry with me as the shift from darkness to light takes place.

Maybe the signs I was given resonate with you in which case do reflect on them and what they might mean to you, or maybe this might inspire you to do your own signs and omens drive or walk.

I did drum, but out of respect for my drum, in my log cabin and not in the rain in my stone circle.

Just an aside here as yesterday where I live it was a seriously dark day, no sky visible, absolutely no light to be seen. I was out last night and I have never experienced such a deep and dark night, total blackness everywhere. I really do think this was the darkest solstice I have ever seen. May the light come quickly and shine brightly on us all in the coming months.


Winter Solstice at Newgrange

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Although I live in Ireland I am sadly the other end of the country from the Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange where hundreds gather for the sunrise of Winter Solstice. Those few lucky people enough to be able to enter the tomb gather in the darkness to await the rays of the sun which light up the passage.

In the past I have been able to watch this online via a video link but the last couple of years this stopped. This year though it is not only back but is being broadcast worldwide for the first time ever.

So if it is a clear boring on either 20th or 21st December this year we will all be able to join the lucky few and watch the sun light up the passage tomb by tuning into Ireland’s Ancient East YouTube channel