Oak

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For as long as I can remember I have been draw to the Oak tree. I have, over the years, collected leaves, twigs, windfall wood and two years ago was gifted three tiny oak saplings. When I say tiny I really do mean tiny as none measured more than six inches.

The saplings were planted in pots and nurtured over the last two winters. Sadly one didn’t make it and so I now have two. They haven’t grown much but are producing new leaves which I hope is a good sign.

Last year I was told they grow best with company and as they are in individual pots I may now move them to a larger pot, all together and with a holly sapling for company. In the wild they grow alongside holly so I figure this is worth a go. I have space in the garden but they are too tiny to plant out and as we have rabbits I wouldn’t rate their chances very highly if I did.

There is a lot of tree lore related to trees and much can be found online but I want to share this with you: OBOD Tree Lore Oak

Brigid and Brigid’s Cross

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One of the first things that I learnt to do when I moved to Ireland was to make a St Brigid’s cross. I hadn’t heard of them at all before I moved and had to be taught not only how to make it but also what to do with it when it was made.

Describing how to make one is complicated without diagrams so having found this online today I thought I would share it in case anyone else is drawn to make one. This link includes a nice video if a child making one, it’s not difficult ūüôā I like that the instructions say to use straws or reeds for there are a special type of reed that grow in wetlands, used to make them here, a reed I recognise whenever I come across it, but the site of which I always forget¬†come February.

I was told that it was the tradition where I live, to make a new Brigid’s cross every year and to place it in the loft on a rafter to protect the house from fire, which used to be a common problem in old houses in Ireland. In old houses chimneys were left¬†unlined and any chimney fire¬†could easily escape and leap through the loft space taking the roof and very often the whole house. I have since discovered that they are also used to ward off evil but maybe I looked too innocent to be told that I might need to do this ūüôā It was a long time ago!

So who was Brigid?

Brigid was a Pre-Christian, Celtic goddess who was associated with smithcraft, poetry, healing, childbirth. She is sometimes spoken of as a Triple Goddess and is always closely associated with fire. In fact the fire associations are so strong that a perpetual fire was set at Kildare in her honour, a fire which still burns today. Brigid is also known of as  Brid, Bride, Brighid, Brigit, Brigantia, Briginda, and Brigdu.

In Irish mythology Brigid appears as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and was the daughter of the Dagda, wife of Bres and had a son named Ruadán. To the Catholic Church though she is known as Saint Brigid and spoken of only as sharing her name with the Celtic goddess. It is said that St Brigid was the child of  Brocca, a Christian woman baptized by Saint Patrick, and that her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. As Brocca was a slave, Brigid was born into slavery. Some stories say that Brigid was baptised by St Patrick, others that she grew up as his friend.

If you would like to read more about Brigid, the Celtic goddess though the OBOD have an article that can be accessed here and which contains a lot of additional information.

What is known is that the¬†the¬†pagan festival of Imbolc or Imbolg, is associated with the goddess Brigid. The festival marks the beginning of spring has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a Cross Quarter Day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. ¬†It can actually fall anywhere between 2nd & 7th of February as it is calculated as the mid point between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox, however it is often celebrated on 1st February, which is the same date as the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion celebrate St Brigid’s Day.

And what about Brigid’s crosses?

There are many stories her as to how the tradition of these crosses originated and this is just one of them:

There was an old pagan Chieftain who was on his¬†deathbed in Kildare when his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the she might be able to¬†calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him . Whilst she was here she picked up some rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. As¬†she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain and it is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul and requested that he be baptised as a Christian ¬†before his passing. Ever since that day it has been customary on the eve of Brigid’s Feast Day on 1st February, to fashion a St Brigid’s Cross of straw or rushes and place it in the roof of the house over the door as a means of protecting the house.

Brigid has always been¬†held in high regard in Ireland, many wells in all parts of the country are named after her, the symbol of her¬†cross is to be found in many Irish designs and there is even a pilgrimage route that can be walked, known as an the Brigid’s Way an¬†Ancient Path between Sky and Earth

 

Shaman Pathways Web of Life Review 

It can be really difficult to publicise and share reviews of my own work without it feeling like my blog is a sales pitch which it really isn’t in any way. It’s so much easier to share other people’s work than it is my own anyway but I think all authors feel that way.

This week though I had contact with someone who really loved my book. She was so enthusiastic about it that I really wanted to share what she said in case anyone was feeling lost or was searching for something that Web of Life might help to give them. 

The review was posted in a Facebook group so the only way I can share here is via a screenshot so I apologise for the size of the text, any smaller and it’s illegible. 

Shaman Pathways Web of Life Uk
Shaman Pathways Web of Life  USA

Deer and Elk Solstice Rattles

 

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The empty and dried shells

The rattles that I began at solstice are finished at last ūüôā I should probably explain here that the delay isn’t that I have been very slow in finishing them, rather that they have taken a long time to dry out thoroughly. This wasn’t helped of course by stuffing the wet heads with damp sand which became damper and heavier as it soaked up the water from the hides.

After 27 hrs, a large proportion of which was with the rattles hung on the washing line to dry with the elements of air and fire doing their best to assist, I decided to take a chance that they were hard enough and empty the sand out to create empty shells so they would stand a better chance of drying. This helped enormously and once the hide was hard I could play with adding and subtracting the stones that I had been drawn to use to make the ‘rattle’, until I found a sound for each of them that shifted energy in a way that spoke to me.

I then of course had to empty the stones out and place them safely to one side so that the necks of the heads could be re soaked as I needed them soft enough to fit the handles tightly when they were re tied.

Having earlier decided that I would experiment with deer and elk lacing to fit the heads to the handles this had been soaking in the same water I used to soak the heads and so by now was ready to go. Once the necks were soft I refilled the heads with the stones and then laced them to the handles which I had by then polished with beeswax.

Then as with everything else with these rattles, they needed to be hung again so the neck, lacing and heads could completely dry out. I have now lost track of the time these have taken but like everything when crafting, especially when creating tools, there is no way of rushing, everything has to be done with awareness and given the time and space to develop its spirit as the work progresses.

I still have to spend time meeting and working with the spirit of these rattles, getting to know and understand them,  how they will work with me and if they wish to be decorated in any way. But for now at least my solstice rattles are complete ūüôā

Deer Rattle

Deer Rattle

Elk Rattle

Elk Rattle

 

Summer Solstice

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Summer Solstice is usually one of my favourite times of the year. I love the balance of day and night and coming as it does in the midst of summer, celebrating outside is often not only possible but enjoyable. Summer Solstice is the one time of year I really look forward to marking by some kind of ritual, sometimes with friends and sometimes as a solitary.

This year though, for some reason it is different. Time has somehow got away from me and was only a day or two ago that I actually realised Solstice was creeping up on me, for one moment I even thought I had missed it completely. This came as quite a shock for even though I don’t religiously follow the ritual of a wheel of the year, I do, in my own way, acknowledge the passing of time and the turning of the wheel.

This year as part of my Ovate training with the OBOD I have been trying to live the wheel by ¬†observing changes in the world around me so that I am always aware of where and when I am. Because it has been warm, dry and sunny I have been outside a lot, in the garden, working with plants, tidying, planting and just generally enjoying the natural world around me. Perhaps it is because it’s been such amazing weather (not always the case where I live),¬†¬†that I somehow hadn’t noticed the passing of time, or perhaps I have just so been caught up in the enjoyment of a dry, warm spell that I haven’t been aware of where in the year I am. Whatever has happened Summer Solstice is tapping on my shoulder and at the moment I have no plans.

In many ways I am pleased about this for it gives me complete freedom to work with my intuition, my guides, allies and the¬†spirits of place, on the day of Summer Solstice itself, ¬†to mark the time in whatever way I am guided. I actually prefer this way of creating ceremony or ritual to using anything anyone else has constructed or which can be found in a book and of course if I am¬†alone I don’t have to take into account anyone else’s energy or wishes.

I am almost expecting that solstice this year will be different anyway, the energy higher perhaps as with the full moon just a few hours before the Summer Solstice sunrise it can hardly fail to have some effect. I am though being patient and with a few days to spare I still have time to sow the seeds of Summer Solstice, to wait to see how they germinate, what grows from them and what form the ritual takes this year.

What’s in a name?

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Connections in my own¬†‘Web of Life’

It has been suggested to me recently that the title and cover of my book ‘Web of Life’ published as part of Moon Books Shamanic Pathways series doesn’t really explain what the book is about so I thought I’d try and redress that here in the hope that it will help.

I actually wrote the book as a result of my own struggle to work with a Medicine Wheel, a struggle that led me to realise that the problems I was having were because¬†Medicine Wheels do not belong to either my culture or my belief system. It was a bit like ‘square peg into round hole’ and no matter what I did it wasn’t working.

So I began to explore other cultures and wheels including the variations between Native American tribes and in doing so discovered both the similarities and differences. This exploration led me to the realisation that in order for many of us to work with the power of a medicine wheel we needed a way to create our own, one that could be adapted to fit us and so the idea for my book was born.

The title of my book is actually down to my guides, who showed me the web, the matrix, or network that connects each and every one of us to everything that exists and through which we all have the power to communicate. Alongside this they showed me the spider at the centre of the web, the spider that represents ourselves, spinning our own web and weaving in the connections within it that can support and guide us as our paths unfold. They also taught me how we can consciously weave our own paths within the web either for projects or our lives in general. The book passes on all that I learnt so that you can do the same. Basically it gives you a modern day, culture and belief free way of working with power of the Medicine Wheel in a way that fits YOU.

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  Example of a created path

 

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Example of an extended path

The images here show my own connections or teachers within the web and examples of the way in which I create my own path and then have the freedom to extend it, or I can start again. Your connections or teachers will be different to mine as will the paths you create.

Pagan Portals and Shaman Pathways

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As some of you reading this may already realise, I my first, and so far only, book, ‘Web of Life’ was published by Moon Books as part of their Shaman Pathway series but did you know there are lots of other books in the Pagan Portals and Shaman Pathways series too?

A  Facebook page was also set up recently for the series.

These series consist of lots of small books, packed with information and in many cases, exercises to help you, so why not click and have a look. If you like the page then its easy to stay on touch with what is being published in the series too.