Drying Elder flowers & berries, Roses, and creating tinctures & an infused oil

As spoken about before, I love collecting berries and drying them. This has now extended to flowers. Our lovely Elders have been in full bloom, so I collected some of the creamy sprays to make tinctures from. Some had also started to become berries, so I thought these might be good for a transition-type tincture – PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE UNRIPE BERRIES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR INTERNAL USE. I intend to use the tinctures mainly for aura and energetic sprays, and for cleansing baths.

I’m really loving getting so connected to nature again, and finding new ways to bring Mother Earth’s bounty into my life in magical ways. I’ve been making sprays for a few years now, along with oil mixes. At least I won’t get the raw berry bits clogging up the spray bottle mechanisms now!

Here are some pictures of the Elder flowers and proto-berries before and after drying. They were particularly fiddly to get off the stems, and I still have to remove the flowers from their stalks to make up the tincture. I will be leaving them to ‘soak’ for at least two months before filtering them.

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elder berry

My second project was to dry some of the lovely Roses we have. As some are highly scented I thought they would be nice to add to Jojoba oil to make an infused oil. Because we had warmer weather at the time they didn’t take too long to dry.

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It’s deceptively easy to make your own tinctures and infused oils. For the tinctures I used English potato vodka, and for the Rose-infused oil I used a Jojoba base because it doesn’t go rancid easily.

Musings on the Goddesses of the Jotnar, Angerboda and Iron Wood Magic

Despite the more obvious practices of Seidhr, spells, enchantments, divination and shapeshifting, there is another powerful magic in the Iron Wood: the women Themselves.

The women are the fiercer, more powerful sex among the Jotnar – think of Angerboda and Skadi, of Groa and Gerda. But this strength isn’t just physical, and nor is it purely ‘magical’. Their true power lies in Their personal power, Their Sovreignty, Their sacred expression of Their Selves. They are empowered women, the ones who stand up for Their needs and desires, standing Their ground, asserting Their boundaries.

To the writers of the time these powerful, self-assured women must have been seen as a real threat to the ‘way of the world’. These are independent Goddesses who know Their needs and magics and are respected for it. How much of the ‘terrible and terrifying’ description of Them is really true, and how much is the filter of the writer?

While these amazingly strong Goddesses can be fierce and awe-inspiring, is there a chance They have been somewhat misrepresented? How much of Their true nature has been rewritten or lost? Just as Sigyn is reduced to the long-suffering wife of Loki in the Eddas, with the gift of her magic as galdr fetter hinted at in one epithet, how much of the Jotnar and Iron Wood has been lost?

In being drawn back to the ways of nature, the Earth and the crystal, plant and animal kingdoms I feel  my inner ‘wild woman’ calling. This is part of me I have been too afraid to claim, but now I’m tentatively curious. Whereas Angerboda used to terrify me I can now be in Her presence with a great deal of respect for Her power. I know She values physical strength, but She also values strength of will and heart.
Beside Her more obvious Iron Wood connections, to me She is a Goddess of empowerment. Part of Her gift is bringing us into our own power. While this manifests differently in each of us – due to different personalities, abilities and paths to follow – She is the embodied Powerful Feminine.
Although Hers can be a tough love, She does love… and fiercely. She is loyal and true to Her Self and to those She loves. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

 

Honouring Persephone – Shadow integration

I’ve long had a fascination with the myth of Persephone and Hades; even in childhood I wondered if there was more to the story. As part of my Shadow work I’m trying to heal, work with and integrate parts of my Self that have been pushed down for too long. In giving them their say, and in trying to find constructive, positive outlets for their ‘light’ sides I have come to realise the importance of balance. In a healing session with J a couple of weeks ago Loki and Sigyn reminded me of Persephone, and how she had to learn to balance her Upperworld and Underworld time. She had to learn to balance these parts of Herself, and so She may also be able to help me.

Weirdly I’d been buying pomegranate seeds for salads for a couple of weeks beforehand, not even remembering about Persephone’s story. I had also bought a little pomegranate pendant last year because I felt Her calling, but then got caught up in health concerns and other things that took over. This time I am in Her domain, somewhere She understands, trying to find my way back to the Upperworld but still healing my ‘Underworld’.

I went on Etsy and found a lovely bright pomegranate clay piece, and checked in with Her, asking if it would be an appropriate offering and focus for my work with Her. I got the impression it was indeed acceptable, so bought it. I’m a very visual person, and I love different textures; I like to have something to look at or hold onto that helps remind me of my Deities, or acts as a focus for Them.

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The Life Lessons of Penguin – World Penguin Day 2017

Today is World Penguin Day! For more info see this page: https://www.awarenessdays.co.uk/awareness-days-calendar/world-penguin-day-2017/

Anyone who knows me knows I love penguins. These adorable, majestic birds feel like they make up a part of my very being, such is my abiding love for them.

Christmas gift

Penguins first came into my life in the form of a cuddly toy from my late Uncle Tony. The imaginatively named Pengy was a gift for my first Christmas and one of my favourite cuddly friends growing up. He still watches over me to this day.

As I grew so did my obsession with all things Penguin. When my Danish cousin came to visit in 2006 she counted all of my penguin items and the total was nearing 100. I’ve been trying to heal my hoarding tendencies the last few years so most of the penguins have found new homes, but my favourites remain.

When I started exploring spirituality in the early 2000’s I came across the concept of animal guides, or totems. I found it fascinating but also incredibly frustrating. Where was Penguin? Eventually I found a book that included my soul brethren, and I finally understood why Penguin feels so much a part of me.

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Bloodlines, Marvel and the path to Loki

I would like to address something I’ve seen crop up a few times since I started my devotional journey: the disdain for, and derision of, those who came to Loki and the Northern Tradition after seeing Marvel’s Thor movie(s). I have been on the receiving end of this myself, so this is my perspective as someone who generally enjoys reading and watching other peoples’ interpretations of the Deities.
This does not mean, however, that I identify those literary or film adaptations with the Gods Themselves, and I believe this is important to stress since that is the ‘argument’ and assumption some people seem to have. I also love Stargate SG-1 but it doesn’t mean I see Apophis, Ra, Hathor or Anubis as Goa’uld. Likewise when I watch the Thor movies I do not see Loki or Thor (on the two occasions I’ve had the pleasure of being in Thor’s presence) as Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth, or as the comic book’s versions after reading comics/graphic novels.

For me there is a difference between character and Deity, just as there is between an actor and the character they play. Daniel Radcliffe is not Harry Potter, but there will always be something of Harry in him, and having played the role many people will now ‘see’ his face when reading the books. He has become synonymous with the character but he is not actually Harry Potter.
Likewise I believe a  Deity can appear in the form of a character if they choose to – it may be the best way to connect with someone. There is also the question of how ‘alive’ a character is, as many writers can understand. What energy is then built up when a character becomes beloved of so many? And what about when that character is inspired (however loosely) by a Deity – do they then carry some tiny piece of the Deity’s own energy out to new readers or viewers?
But Pop Culture Paganism is another path to mine and I understand little about its workings so it is not my place to speak of its beliefs, only of my own. Instead I now move on to how a movie helped pull strands of my past into the present and gave me a Gods-filled future.

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2nd WordPress Anniversary – Update & Changes

It has been two years since I joined WordPress, and I still don’t quite know where the time’s gone. Since I first started my writing style has developed and I’ve started to share more of my devotional practices, but most of all my connections to Them have grown, strengthened and expanded. That’s not to say that this time hasn’t also been challenging, or that it’s been plain-sailing. It hasn’t. I’ve had many challenges with my health and faith to deal with, but I’ve made it through so far.

As some of you may have noticed I’m making a few adjustments to the range and type of posts on here.  Firstly this is because my interests have widened since starting Northern Tamarisk, secondly because I now feel more able to share personal projects and things I’ve been up to. I started off wanting this to be a more academic-style blog, but I realise after much soul-searching that the academic is just one facet of who I am. I was under the impression that I needed to keep myself out of the blog as much as possible, but since starting my Etsy shop I realise perhaps I need to share a bit more about my personal practices and things I’m involved in. People like to know who they’re buying from and what sort of a person I am. Personally I like to buy from small businesses who have similar ethics to me so I read up about them, and this will help others to do the same with me
I will continue to explore different areas of research and devotional Polytheism, Paganism and Archaeology, and I will still be writing book reviews. I will continue my ‘Out & About’ posts, especially when I see something I think you may like – the ‘Wotan’ light bulb, for instance. ‘Friday Finds’ will keep going, though not on a monthly basis – I will be concentrating on specific themes, seasonal items or an artisan feature. Instead of ‘Fantasy Art Friday’ and ‘Fantasy Photography Friday’ there will be ‘Friday Focus’. This will incorporate artists, photographers and artisans whose work is inspired by Mythology, Polytheism or Paganism. Again, this will not be monthly, just as and when.

I’m enjoying rediscovering my crafty side, learning about traditional crafts, upcycling and natural alternatives, so expect to read more about these ventures too. Finding ways to bring back old traditions in a modern way and helping to lighten my impact on the planet are important to me. Doing this not only helps us and the environment, but can also be a way of living-devotion. What better offering can we make to Them than to take care of this beautiful planet whose care and creatures we have been entrusted with?

In February, May and September I will be sharing photos and experiences from past holidays to Luxor in Egypt, York and Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury. I went on these trips before starting my blog so feel like it would be good to share some of my better pictures.

In the next couple of weeks I will be starting photo shoots for the various pre-loved Deity statues I have found online, in junk yards and charity shops. Aside from my personal collection I have a lot of Gods and Goddesses looking for loving new homes. Once they’ve been cleaned up, repaired or re-painted and had their photo shoots I will be putting them up for re-homing in my Etsy shop. Most are in excellent condition, some need a little sprucing up, and a couple need a bit of fixing up, but they are all beautiful and I feel guilty keeping them packed under my bed when they should be taking pride of place on some adoring person’s shrine. I have quite a few Egyptian Deities as well as a couple of Greek Goddesses who will be looking for that loving new home. I also have a copper wall plaque of an Aztec Sun God to add.

I’m finding my feet on Twitter as well. I give updates on new blog posts and Etsy items as well as Norse, Egyptian, Pagan and Archaeology re-tweets. I’m thinking of sharing interesting Tweets from others in an occasional roundup here on the blog. These will be snippets of information, or even photos from museum collections or artisans.
Because of the work involved in remembering to update Twitter regularly I will assess at the end of the year and see if it is a valuable enough use of my time. Brain power and concentration have to be rationed carefully.

Pinterest board changes:
*Created ‘Northern Tamarisk on Etsy‘ board.
*Created ‘Northern Tamarisk Articles‘ board.
*Merged ‘Egyptian Pics & Inspiration’ with ‘Egyptians‘ – ‘EP&I’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Elves, Fey & Sidhe’ with ‘Elves, Fey & Other Beings‘ – ‘EF&S’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Paganism’ and ‘Pagan Crafts’ with ‘Witchy, Pagan & Devotional‘ – ‘P’ and ‘PC’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Research Wishlist’ with ‘Books & Research Wishlist‘ – ‘RW’ will be deleted.
*Created more boards for Norse Deities, as well as a number of boards for Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.

You can see the full list with updated links on my ‘My Pinterest Boards‘ page.

Advent Calendar for my brother

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.

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