Happy Equinox, everyone. May Winter’s pall make way for Spring’s more inviting shawl.
As it looked through the haze
The Sun saw it then;
The seed was a seed no more,
But with Spring’s eyes
It had shed its disguise
And was coming at last
Out at last
From Winter’s gloom.
(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2018
Wishing you all a happy Yuletide.
May the Gods bless you and yours this Yuletide,
May you be happy, healthy and fulfilled.
Artwork copyright: Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk 2017
I came across this quote last night and thought it would be appropriate to share in time for Samhain. As we learn to embrace the nights drawing in we learn also to embrace the dark within, the cycle of decay associated with the coming of winter, and the things we have to release or let go of as cycles in our own lives come to their conclusion.
Access to light, day and night, is now considered by most a human right.
To the Pagan, that is ludicrous. More consciously aware of the power of light, and all that it allows, darkness is a profoundly potent word. It speaks of all that is hard to understand within nature, the infinite space of the universe, the energy of the night, of winter, of death, of decay and entropy. There are here no connotations of negativity; darkness is that which necessarily balances and embraces light. It contains those aspects of nature that are not known or not knowable, the void and the density, the mysteries beyond current comprehension. The word expresses all that could happen; in the poetry of Paganism, it is the cauldron of potential, the womb of rebirth, the rich mud in which the seed germinates.
– Emma Restall Orr, Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics, ch. 2
At Beltane cattle were often herded between two fires to cleanse them. It’s also believed the heat killed off the insects, and that the cattle were blessed by the process.
One way we could take advantage of this custom ourselves is to do a meditation asking a particular God or Goddess to safely surround and suffuse you with Their flames. You can ask for help to cleanse any negativity or release any ties that you need to let go of. Deities aren’t limited to the way Their energies and healing can work, but they may have a particular speciality you can call upon.
Question: What can you do to make something your 26 year old brother will actually like?
Answer: Advent calendar filled with money!
I saw some pretty ideas for envelope Advent calendars on Pinterest and thought I’d make my own version. My brother is notoriously picky about presents and usually just wants the money so he can buy his own stuff. It makes for a pretty boring gift-giving experience, so I decided I’d make the Advent calendar with money in for each day. That way he could either open up one envelope per day or open them all on Christmas day and it seems like he has more presents. He has opted for the latter, so my board is currently sitting all sparkly and pristine, awaiting the carnage to come on Christmas day. Poor calendar.
I wanted to use materials that I either already had or could re-use. It’s a slightly more eco-thoughtful way to do things, and can save money on costs too.
I started off with a cheap cork board and covered it with brown paper. I then pinned on some jute fabric with glittery red stars, and added some old red cotton ribbon which was my Nanny Grethe’s. I cut lengths of string and tied them around pins and stuck them in the back of the cork board frame.
The envelopes are just the little ‘wages’ envelopes you can buy in stationary shops. I made sure to get the plain ones so I could decorate them. I used some old Christmas stickers that had been waiting to be put to work for
years quite some time, and some number stickers I bought from The Works.
I put the money in each envelope, but decided not to glue them shut so they can be re-used in the future. They are attached to the string with little wooden pegs. Just hook the envelope flap over the back of the string, stick the peg on and voila!
The final touch was a money ‘jar’ I made using an old tablets bottle, some of Nanny Grethe’s old ribbon, some stretchy sparkly cord from a previous Christmas, a little holly embellishment, and a label made from leftover brown paper. The peg was a broken one, so now has a use.
I had a lot of fun making it, and you could even adapt the idea with different themes for different people, age groups or belief systems. Most importantly my brother seems to like it. That’s win-win for me.
I made it! Last year mum wasn’t well enough so I didn’t go, and even though I had a migraine overnight I was determined to make it this year. The Lincoln Christmas Market is usually the highlight of my year. It’s spread out across the top of the city, winding through streets and even invading the Cathedral and Castle grounds. If I’ve been feeling ‘bah humbug’ about Christmas music this event usually cures me of it.
Sellers from all over Europe attend, so there’s usually quite a wide variety of items to look at.
Because many of the items are handmade I have included names and links to websites or pages where possible.
The photos are a mix of mine and mum’s, depending on who had the better photos. Most of the buildings photos are mum’s.
Last night I had the pleasure of setting up two extra altar/shrine areas, alongside the shrine for my Beloveds.
The first was for family members, including my much-loved and much-missed cat Orlando. I enjoyed setting up this one the most, as it made me look through all my photos and bits and bobs I have as keepsakes. The camera belonged to either my grandad or my Norwegian great-grandad, the dreamcatcher centre was brought back from Canada by my Uncle Tony. The door stop was from my Nanny’s house, and the Little Mermaid statue is a nod to her being born in Denmark. The Aragonite was my Aunty Tina’s. The little clay piece in front of Orlando’s photo is a paw print I took from him about a year before he passed away, and there’s also a lock of his fur. Presiding over the shrine on either side are Hella and Anubis. There are scarabs and a fabric lotus there too, as symbols of the cycles of life, death and rebirth. The lists you can see are names of my family members, and of family friends and pets. Continue reading
It is a very human trait to fear death and the darkness, but many ancient and indigenous cultures understand that there is a greater cycle to life. In doing so they respect these forces and understand their place in the world, and in the universe(s) we live in.
Many Deities and Spirits have an element of darkness within them, like the Tao symbol, with Yin and Yang each having a seed of the other within. Some are darker than others, some are more of the light, but each have elements of both that can teach us.
For what is life if not day and night, light and shade? Even those destructive moments strip away the old to leave the potential for a new way of life. As the moon shines in the night it lights our way through the darkness of the nocturnal hours, just as those who are darker in nature can teach us to find and follow our own pathway – ‘to thine own self be true’. Many of these so-called darker Deities have protective aspects, and can teach triumph through adversity. often they embody our own worst fears, ones we must ultimately face, or else how can we truly enjoy life in all its aspects?
Give the dark the respect it is due, and you may just find the seed of light – the moon – to guide you through it. Continue reading
In my previous post I listed a few ideas of how to connect with the Deities on Valentine’s Day. One of these was through the medium of food, so here are a few suggestions of my own. Some may seem fairly obvious, but others are a play on attributes, words, or just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun. I wanted them to be items you could just quickly nip to the shops and find, although obviously this depends on your location, your local shops and country.
Don’t take them too seriously, and I apologise especially to Tyr, and any of his followers for the crisps recommendation – I just couldn’t resist. Hopefully He and you will forgive me!