Monday, 31 December 2012

ThriftWitch: Jar of Blessings



I'm not sure where this idea originated - I came across it on Facebook. It's simple, costs nothing but really appeals to me, so I thought I'd share it here.

Find a clean, lidded jar that appeals to you. You can decorate it if you like - paint it, add glitter, or stickers, tie a bow around it, write 'Jar of Blessings' on a luggage tag and tie it around the neck... or just keep it plain. It can be big or small, but in the spirit of optimism, why not choose big!

Then starting 1st January, every time something good happens, write it down on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. Incidents of serendipity, plans that come to fruition, an unexpected phone call from an old friend, a beautiful sunset, happy holiday memories, unlooked for kindness from a stranger, the mastering of a new skill, some words of wisdom imparted to you, the recipe for the fabulous jam you made, the joke that made you laugh until you cried...

The idea is that at the end of the year you can empty the jar and revisit all your happy memories from the last twelve months. Hopefully there will be many, and even if it's been a tough year you can see that there have been lots of blessings too. But of course if there are rough patches during the year and you need to accentuate the positive, there's nothing to stop you opening the jar earlier than 31st December!

And that's it. I think it makes a very good partner to the Clean Start Soap Spell...

May your jar overflow with blessings in 2013!

Happy New Year.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Self Care, Wisdom and Breaking Old Spells...


Pic: Shrine to Brigid, Goddess of Healing at  the White Spring, Glastonbury

Good health is something I normally take for granted. A Naturopath told me some years ago I have a very strong constitution, and that seems to be the case. I have no allergies or food sensitivities to worry about. I can always sleep, and rarely lose my appetite. Like anyone, I get the odd cough or cold, but usually bounce back after a few days and that's that.

However.

The Cold that IB and I caught in Madrid turned out to be a real stinker, and even now I still have an irritating cough that just won't seem to shift. Then at the beginning of December I succumbed to the Norovirus tummy bug and even after the stomach pains and vomiting had subsided, I found it hard to get my appetite back. Feeling totally washed out, I struggled to meet my work commitments during the week. And then the icing on the cake: last Friday I went down with tonsillitis.

I had tonsillitis several times as a child, but don't remember it being much different then to an ordinary head cold. I had it again as an adult in 2001, though, and couldn't believe how ill I felt that time! My head was pounding, my throat was incredibly painful and swollen, I couldn't eat, and I felt so light-headed and weak. I remember thinking, 'I don't think you can die from tonsillitis, but I feel so lousy at the moment that if I do I really don't care!'. That time T took me to the Dr who prescribed antibiotics and it cleared up in no time.

This time my experience was definitely a re-run of the 2001 episode, but more antibiotics - and nearly a week off work - have done the trick again. Even so, I am aware of underlying weariness and the sense of needing a good long rest.

In my previous, pre-divorce situation, life was much easier. I had work and commitments here at Halfway Up A Hill, but I could be flexible about what I did and when, and as T was the breadwinner, me taking it easy for a few days when I needed to didn't have that much of an impact. Now things are different: I need to work outside the home to support myself and it is often a struggle to do that and juggle caring for the animals, the house, the garden - and myself. Also, if I don't work, I don't get paid, so time off for leisure, appointments (e.g.dentist) or illness has to be carefully considered and judiciously weighed out.

Because I generally have such good health, I take it for granted. I have a tendency to push myself to keep going where someone more sensitive to their body's limits would ease off. And I find it hard both to say 'no' when asked to do things and also to ask for help myself when I need it. Not really a good combination!

It is clear that I need to work on self-care. This run of illness has made me aware of many things. That I am not indestructible. That I have allowed myself to get run-down. That ignoring it and trying to keep going only makes me vulnerable to further illness. It is a hard lesson. I can be stubborn, and this kind of life experience makes me want to dig my heels in and ignore it because, dammit, I won't be beaten! But at heart I know that learning from experience - even bitter experience - is not being beaten, it is the gaining of wisdom.

Nevertheless I know myself well enough to know that it will be all too easy to fall back into old patterns of behaviour. After all, as humans, that's what we do, right?

Recently I have realised that 'being under a spell' in fairy stories could be seen as a metaphor for this falling back into old patterns. For example, a princess is held captive by a wicked magician/troll/dragon. Many suitors come to her aid and try to free her but they fail due to the enchantments/spell laid by the villain. They don't take the good (if weird) advice they were given for the journey (Don't look the giant in the eye! Don't eat the fairy food! Be polite to the old hag!), or they do exactly what all the other failed attempts did and rush straight at the bad guy/dragon, waving a sword - and are promptly turned to stone, or fall into an enchanted sleep, or are just plain killed. In other words, by falling back into old, tried-and-failed patterns yet still somehow expecting them to work, their attempts are defeated. But the resolution of the problem, the denouement of the story comes when the hero either has the good sense to follow the advice - however odd it seemed - or to try something different (Talk to the dragon! Outsmart the troll! Ask the golden bird in the cage what to do!), thereby breaking the spell - the old pattern - and achieving his goal and the freedom of the princess.

This is what I need to do - break the spell by taking the good advice I am given by friends and family (Eat well! Go to bed early! Learn to say no sometimes! Ask for help!), even if it seems easier to ignore it. And I will try doing some things differently in order to get a different result (Stop bottling up stress - instead thump a pillow, or do regular meditation, or restructure my working week...). I will take echinacea and multivitamins to build myself up. I will get the Dr to give me a health check. I will take responsibility for my well-being. I will learn to self-care.

I will break the spell. I will be well. By my will, with harm to none and for the good of all, so mote it be. Blessed be.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

On the Popularity of Dead Frogs...


One feature I like on Blogger is the opportunity to view my 'stats'. It's interesting to see where people who are viewing the blog live, or which websites pointed them in my direction, and it also tells me which posts are getting the most hits.

For a long time the most popular post has been 'Falling In Love', which surprises me as it's just a quick reflection on the beauties of early summer. I imagine it must be because it's a phrase that might easily be Googled and lead searchers here, though they're probably disappointed when they get to it if it's Mills & Boon they had in mind. Likewise those seeking gardening tips are undoubtedly disgusted by my laid back attitude to weeds when they are directed to 'My Lawn is Full of Dandelions', which is also high on the popularity chart - especially in spring. Hopefully at least 'St Anthony's Well, Llansteffan' is exactly what it says on the tin, and presumably 'ThriftWitch: The Clean Start Soap Spell' is a pretty unambiguous title. All popular posts.

But this week a new favourite has hit the top spot after scoring multiple hits, week in, week out. The post in question is 'When is a Dead Frog Just a Dead Frog?', and although it is a post I am proud of, I can't understand its popularity. Are there that many people out there Googling the term 'Dead Frog'? How else do they come to that particular post? Has someone else commented on it in their blog and people are coming over out of curiosity? Or... Oh my gosh, is it some sort of weird sexual practice... why didn't anyone tell me!!! At that point the possibilities fail me. Don't get me wrong - I do think it's a good post - but the most popular Moonroot post ever?

So, if you are one of those who has been drawn to 'When is a Dead Frog Just a Dead Frog?', do please satisfy my curiosity. How on earth did you stumble across it in the first place?

P.S. I couldn't find a convenient photo of a frog, so the photo is of somewhere a live frog might like to hang out. See? I'm nothing if not versatile.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Madrid: Living it Up and Flaking Out

Not having had the chance to get away for over two years, IB and I were in definite need of a holiday. When we saw that my favourite band, the Rubinoos, were going to be playing in Spain, we decided this was our chance.

Work constraints (I don't get paid holidays, and IB had just started a new job) meant we could only make a long weekend of it, but as we were both tired and stressed even that seemed like a luxury! Our stress levels were compounded by ongoing computer problems, which made researching and booking the trip a hard slog. Luckily my Mum and Dad were wonderful and did a lot of the legwork for us on their computer, so that all I had to do was deploy the credit card and sort out some Euros! My friend Lizzi agreed to housesit and mind the chickens and goose, and as she was bringing her dog with her the cats went on a holiday of their own to Mum and Dad's.

Despite horrendous fog, our flight on Friday afternoon took off in time and we had a smooth journey to Madrid. We negotiated the Madrid Metro system to the stop nearest our hotel, only to find my Dad had done a fantastic job of research. Not only was our hotel right by the Metro station, but it was also just round the corner from the concert venue. Impressive!

Unfortunately, the slightly sore throat I had put down to recirculated air on the plane developed into a full-blown headcold overnight. I awoke Saturday morning feeling dreadful and worrying about how I'd manage the concert that evening. We spent the morning on a gentle wander around the area to get our bearings, and were delighted to find 'Artemisia', an excellent vegetarian restaurant virtually on our doorstep - IB is vegetarian, and we had been a little concerned about how easy it would be to find vegetarian food. Particularly as I wasn't feeling great it was a real boon to find good veggie food so close by!

We spent the afternoon reading and dozing in the hotel as I wanted to save my strength for the evening's entertainment. As I wrote in my blogpost about our San Francisco trip, IB and I had become friends with the bass player of the Rubinoos, Al Chan. When he heard we were coming to Madrid, Al had kindly invited us to come along early to the soundcheck - we felt very privileged! We turned up at the allotted time, only to find the venue in quiet darkness, so we retreated to a nearby bar and sat outside nursing beers and munching tapas while we waited. After a little while we noticed people carrying musical instruments and amplifiers along the street; not long after that we spotted Al and the other members of the band, and followed them inside the club.

Al is a wonderfully wam and friendly person and even though we hadn't seen him since San Francisco, we were soon chatting away with him and lead guitarist Tommy Dunbar. Just then some more British fans turned up - Peter, Matt and Mike who had made the pilgrimage from Stoke-on-Trent - and we moved our little group to a nearby bar so the band could do their soundcheck in peace!

Madrid has a reputation as a party city, and even at what was a relatively early hour for Madrilenos, the bar was packed with an exuberant crowd. We were quickly befriended by a Spanish techo-DJ who spoke almost no English yet was soon declaring his undying friendship and inviting us all to his next gig in Belgium! It turned out the Stoke-on-Trent posse could have taught Keith Moon a thing or two about hedonism, and meanwhile a passionate argument about 'cerveza' between a waiter and one of the patrons was almost coming to blows, beer was being poured in vast quantities, and there was much merriment all round. As a natural introvert this is the kind of environment that would normally leave me feeling out of my comfort zone but the atmosphere was of such good-natured, bubbling, insanity I found myself carried along with it.

After the soundcheck, Al rejoined us and we all went for dinner in the Artemisia vegetarian restaurant, along with another fan, Mercedes. The waiter who had served us at lunchtime was very pleased to see us return with such a large party! By now it had gone 10pm and we returned to the club in time to see the support band, Suzi & los Quattros, who were excellent. By the time the Rubinoos came on, the Madrid audience was a joyous riot, dancing, drinking, singing, applauding, pogo-ing, crowd-surfing and beer spilling. Fuelled myself by the wonder combination of Rioja, paracetamols and adrenaline, I enjoyed every moment, including two encores, yet almost the moment it ended my cold kicked back in with a vengeance. We said our goodbyes to friends old and new and made our way back to the hotel - I was so glad it was just around the corner! We fell into bed at about 2am.

On Sunday morning we slept in late, and poor IB awoke with The Cold. We had planned to spend the day sightseeing, but both felt so wiped out that in the end we spent the morning vegging out in a coffee shop and then going for lunch at - you guessed it - Artemisia. The staff looked a little bemused to see us yet again! We spent the afternoon back at the hotel dozing, and felt too ill to seek out an alternative food source, so rather shamefacedly made our way back to Artemisia, joking that we'd have to wear false beards if we went back again!

On Monday we packed and checked out of our hotel. We had most of the day at leisure and had planned to visit some of the city's amazing art galleries, but once again found ourselves coughing and snuffling, unwilling to stir from the cosy coffee shop we had settled in. We bestirred ourselves enough to seek out another vegetarian venue for lunch (El Estragon), as we were just too embarrassed to go back to Artemisia yet again! From there we wandered down to La Latina Metro stop, where exhaustion overcame us and we admitted defeat and headed back to the airport earlier than necessary.

Flying home I felt guilty that we hadn't really done any sightseeing and had missed out on the opportunity to visit such internationally reknowned art galleries as the Prado, but we were both too ill, too exhausted and too wiped out. I guess we both really did need a break...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Out of Order...

Just popping by to say that things have been much quieter on here than normal due to ongoing computer problems. It's seeming increasingly likely that my laptop has had it and I will have to find funds for a new one. I'm not sure where they're going to come from! In the meantime, this is being typed from my Dad's computer which I have temporarily hijacked.

But don't go away! I have lots of posts I'm dying to write including the one about a recent trip to Madrid.

Back as soon as I can. Promise.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Harvests - The Good, The Bad and The Wonderful




We are almost at the Autumn Equinox, that magical point at which day and night stand equally balanced before tipping into the dark half of the year. That is one reason Pagans mark this time of year with ritual. Another reason is that we are slap bang in the middle of the harvest season, which begins at Lammas or Lughnasadh and goes on until Samhain. Lammas is celebrated in high summer, at the beginning of August when the grain harvest usually begins. Samhain comes at the end of October, when farming communities traditionally brought their livestock down from the hills into more sheltered pastures and culled old or weak members of the herd. The culled animals would provide meat for a celebratory feast and this would also be salted down or cured to provide food through the coming winter months.

Autumn Equinox, or Mabon as some like to call it, is a time for harvesting the abundant fruit and nuts available as summer gives way to autumn. Apples, pears, late plums and damsons, squashes and pumpkins, blackberries, autumn-fruiting raspberries, quinces, hazelnuts, elderberries, haws, and sloes... The summer crops of potatoes and onions should be dug by now and safely stored somewhere cool, dark and dry. Then there are mushrooms to be foraged and the last of summer's bounty to be stored away in jams, jellies, pickles, cordials, wines, syrups and chutneys. And of course, seeds of flowers, vegetables and fruit can be saved for sowing next spring.

Unfortunately the fruit and vegetable harvest at Halfway Up a Hill is rather meager this year. The vegetable patch has been somewhat neglected as I no longer have as much time to devote to it, and much of the fruit harvest is disappointing due to the terrible weather we've had this summer negatively affecting pollination rates. There are no damsons at all and my usually reliable cooking apple has only three fruits, comparing miserably with the fine harvest we had last year. Even the elderberry crop is sparse. Defying all expectations though, the tomatoes have done pretty well and continue to produce, and there is an extremely heavy crop of haws in the hedgerows.

Our modern estrangement from the natural world to an extent insulates us from the extremes of food shortage that we could expect from such a cold, wet summer. Food  prices may increase, but there will still be plenty to choose from at the local supermarket, greengrocer or market stall. We are so lucky in the Western world, and we so often take that for granted.

But we are also lucky to have the wonderful human spirit of altruism, generosity and the instinct to share in times of plenty - in times of scarcity, too. Just this week I have been gifted with some homegrown runner beans, a big fragrant bunch of sweetpeas, a pretty oriental fan and a jar of redcurrant and blackberry jelly by different people. In the last year I have been given rhubarb, plants, vouchers, magazines, a vintage radio for restoration, cucumbers, fabric, kitchenware, a computer that needs fixing, yarn, a large amount of firewood and items of clothing by friends, family and neighbours; they have also gifted me freely with advice, expertise and various skills that I lack when I've needed help. I myself have passed on books, surplus eggs, incense, my old car, toiletries, magazines, perfume and homemade jam. I have borrowed a wall-paper steamer/stripper, a router, a tile-cutter, a mitre saw, and have lent out a bagful of DVDs, my carpet-shampooer, a dehumidifier, my pressure-washer and books. And I have done lots of liftsharing!

Since T left, money is a constant issue. I receive alimony, but it decreases each year and will end altogether in a couple of year's time. I am now working, but I don't seem to earn enough to manage without the alimony. And as we find ourselves in the middle of a recession with no end in sight - no matter what the politicians say - the cost of living increases almost daily. Money - or lack of it - is now a permanent worry at the back of my mind.

But in this time of balance between summer and winter, light and dark, abundance and scarcity, I breathe and choose to remember that it is true that the best things in life are free. I choose to remember that I am part of a community of friends, family and neighbours who look out for each other, share what they have and help when they can, just because that's what we humans do for each other. I choose to remember that co-operation is as or more important than competition. I choose to remember that abundance and money are not the same thing. And most of all I choose to give thanks for the harvest of my many blessings, which are priceless.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Wow!



I have just found out that 'Moonroot' is listed as no. 23 in the '50 Best Blogs for Wiccans' at this site.


They say, 'Many Witches and Wiccans embrace environmental, sustainable political causes, and moonroot dishes out valuable advice on spells, meditations and other ways for the community to protect the planet.'

I am amazed and flattered. Wow. Thanks!  

Thursday, 30 August 2012

After The Storms...



The world seems washed clean by the torrential rain of recent days. The sky is finally clear blue, and a brisk wind chases away the last vestiges of storm clouds. In the late summer sunshine, the colours of the countryside seem to sparkle.

As the chickens scratch contentedly on the lawn and clean washing on the line dances in the stiff breeze, the world seem bright and fresh and new. At the end of summer, when it might be expected to seem that things are on a downward slide to the introspection of winter, there is a sense of optimism and newness and possibility. It seems to me it ought to feel jarring, but all I feel is anticipation and happiness.

And it's not just the weather. In the last few days I have heard news of the safe delivery of a friend's first baby; not one but two engagements have been announced; happy new relationships are springing up seemingly out of nowhere. And I have received an invitation to the wedding of my beloved Goddessdaughter next summer.

Happiness and fresh starts seem to be springing up everywhere like wildflowers. Hurrah! Long may it continue!


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Scent Memories



I have written before on the way scent conjures powerful memories. Today I experienced that phenomenon again. Although it's happened to me many times before, I still find it amazing.

There are many plants I don't even try to grow at Halfway Up A Hill. They are way too attractive to slugs, and believe me, the slugs and snails here are voracious. My usual gardening strategy for ornamentals is to grow the things slugs find unpalatable, so that I only have to concentrate my slug-control measures in the veggie patch. Thus my cottage garden is filled with hardy geraniums, penstemons, lady's mantle, aquilegia, foxgloves, astrantia, woody herbs and roses, and I'm quite cautious about wasting my time and money trying anything else.

But this year, a friend gifted me with some clumps of mixed seedlings that had self-seeded in her polytunnel. An eclectic mix of dill, cornflowers, tomatoes, nasturtiums, morning glories and French marigolds. I planted them with minimal protection, with a 'They'll either thrive or not' attitude. The dill was the first casualty, succumbing to the sluggy hordes almost overnight. The tomatoes were probably passed on a bit too late to produce much of a crop, but to my amazement they haven't succumbed to blight yet either, so if we're lucky enough to get an Indian summer they may come up trumps. The nasturtiums, cornflowers and morning glories are romping away. I haven't grown either of the latter two before but all three are now added to my list of slug-proof plants worth growing again. The French marigolds - which from past experience I fully expected to be razed to the ground in short order - actually seemed to be doing OK, and even when the slugs tracked them down, a brief slug-control patrol in the evening seemed to be keeping things within acceptable limits. The bright orange of their flowers looked wonderful with the brilliant scarlet nasturtiums and the glorious blues of the cornflowers and morning glories. So far so good.

Unfortunately the slugs stepped up their attack on the marigolds and today I finally had to admit defeat and pull out the last remaining marigolds after their main stems were severed overnight. I salvaged as many flowers as possible and brought them back to put in a jar of water. At least they will brighten the kitchen windowsill for a few more days.

I stripped the leaves from the stems, and the scent released by the crushed foliage brought memories flooding back. At the age of twelve I was given a small patch of ground outside my bedroom window as my first garden. At a summer fete in the village I bought a tray of French marigolds - I think they were actually the first flowers I planted there. Suddenly I was twelve again, digging over the soil in that small patch, earthy hands carefully tending the marigolds, a chamomile plant, some mint, and the 'Wargraves Pink' hardy geranium, bought at the same village fete and from which I still have a cutting to this day growing against the wall of the workshop.

I hadn't thought of that garden for a very long time, but the smell of marigold leaves brought it all back so clearly. How amazing that our senses can do this for us. Our bodies and brains are such wonderful things!

P.S. I know the photo isn't actually a French marigold, it was the closest I could find!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Phew!

Things have been a little quiet on here of late. My computer crashed spectacularly and for several weeks with fingers crossed I waited to see if it could be resuscitated - and whether or not I had lost all the precious photos and documents I had been meaning to back up and not got around to...

Well, the computer is duly back from the dead and I am eternally grateful to Stuart for not only reviving it but also restoring all my files. Phew!

I have been itching to get blogging again and have lots of posts waiting to be written. There is a lot of lost time to be made up for...


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Gunny



IB's beloved cat, Gunny, died yesterday. He had been ill for a few weeks with some kind of lung problem,, gradually fading in front of our eyes. He was only 9 years old.

Later that evening the screen saver on my computer, displaying random photos from my files, brought back so many memories. Not just Gunny, but so many other loved and much missed animals. Cats - Teasel, Tigger and Herbert. Chickens, from our first three (Josephine, Daphne and Sugar) all the way through Blanche, Blodwen and Bronwen to our rescued battery hens (Ginger, Babs, Mac and Norma-Jean) and more recent arrivals like Blodeuwedd I who was snatched away by a fox. Ted and Dougal, the guinea pigs. Our original geese, Buffy and Angel are now gone, along with their goslings, Snowy (killed by a predator) and Sunny (re-homed after fighting with his father). Further back, there are older, pre-digital era photos - Algie, Koshka, Julie, Mina, Thomas (cats), Max the budgie, Frances the duck, Nicky the dog.

Anyone who has had a companion animal can tell you that they are all individuals, each one a unique character. Oh, how they worm their way into your heart - and the pain when they are gone.

Today, in beautiful sunshine, we buried Gunny in an area we have earmarked for a forest garden. He was wrapped in one of IB's T-shirts, and we placed flowers and a favourite toy with him in the ground. We planted an apple tree on his grave. In years to come I imagine us sitting under the tree on such a sunny day, sharing our memories of Gunny. In the meantime, we will continue to create new memories with  Bear, Marley and Dandilo, the cats. And enjoy the antics of Bella, Dot, Daisy, Blossom, Ceridwen, Blodeuwedd II, Misty and Morag, our current flock of hens, and Spike, the gander. Our animals bring such colour to our days. Sharing our lives with them is a privilege, and the pain of their loss is a small price to pay for the joy they bring.

RIP Gunny August 2002 - June 2012

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Beltane Delights


To me, Beltane is all about celebrating life and enjoying its pleasures. For the Celts, it was the start of summer, the season of long, warm days, abundant food and easy living. So I like my Beltane to be a celebration of beauty and pleasure. 

Though the Beltane weather is cool and rainy this year, there is beauty in abundance in the woods and fields. Tender, translucent birch leaves, the haze of bluebells carpeting the woodland floor, the swooping joy of the returning swallows. This is such a stunningly beautiful time of year.

This evening we feasted on cheese and leek tartlets, mushroom risotto, fresh asparagus and garlic bread. We toasted each other, and the coming summer with glasses of champagne. Later we munched on the most delicious brownies in the world (if you're ever in West Wales, these can be found at the Pachamama restaurant or the Carrot Cruncher organic food shop, both in Newcastle Emlyn).

As the season unfolds I intend to continue joyfully revelling in the delights of early summer. I may not be able to afford to make champagne toasts every evening, but I do intend to consume my body weight in local asparagus while the season lasts. And I will walk barefoot in the lush grass, bask in the sun, laugh with the swallows, walk bareheaded in the rain, and spend as much time as I can with those I love. This is my solemn pledge at Beltane. 

A world this beautiful deserves to be thoroughly appreciated. Anything less would be disrespectful.

Happy Beltane!



Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Taking Eggs to Mair Part 2


Today, having been ill with a 24-hour bug, I forgot to take a box of eggs down the hill to Mair until 9pm.

The walk down couldn't have been more different to last week. This week I walked in rainy dark, not sun. And I thought of all the times I have walked up and down this hill in the 11 years I have lived at Halfway Up A Hill. I have walked in sun, in rain, in wind, in snow, by moonlight and in pitch dark. I have walked at dawn, and midday, and afternoon, at twilight and at night. I have walked in spring and summer and autumn and winter.

This evening it was still just light enough not to need the torch I took with me. Rain streaming off the fields ran down the edges of the road. Bareheaded, I enjoyed the sensation of raindrops on my hair. The only sound was falling rain, and the rushing of the swollen stream. No owls, no foxes, even the sheep were silent in the fields. Accompanied only by the bats swooping overhead. The smell of rain and woodsmoke. Down in the valley the few street lights glowed orange; the headlights of an occasional car swept along the road. Across the hills, the scattered lights of surrounding farms. Back up this hill, only the warm glow of lights at Halfway Up a Hill are visible.


Isn't this one of the ways we connect with the spirit of a place? By repeating a journey, an action, a chore, week after week so that we experience the place in all its many moods and modes? I am envious of the people whose families have walked these hills for generations. I imagine a bone-deep knowledge of the land.  My own relationship with this land will never have those accumulated ages of connection. But I approach the spirit of this place in friendship, with respect and openness. And as I open to Her, she opens to me and reveals Her many layers. Like any relationship, work, patience and understanding are required. But the rewards are well worth it.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Heron Dreaming



Last night I dreamed that a heron flew above me, scattering blue-grey feathers like magical gifts in my path.

This morning, as I travelled through the rain-blurred river valley, a pair of herons wheeled gracefully overhead, before disappearing into the trees...

Sometimes the line between dreaming and waking seems fine as spidersilk...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Taking Eggs to Mair



The early evening sun is slanting golden rays across the fields as I walk down the lane to take my neighbour Mair her weekly box of eggs. Lambs bleat at me through the hedge as I pass by. They have grown quickly, already they are half the size of their mothers.

Each week I walk down with a box of eggs for Mair; each week the changing seasons have something new to show me. Today there is a sharp chill in the wind, but there is bright sunshine and blue sky. Shy violets purple the bank of the stream. The daffodils are all but finished, now there are celandines and windflowers and soon there will be bluebells. In the hedge, the exuberant froth of blackthorn blossoms contrasts with stark black thorny twigs. the new hawthorn leaves are such a vivid green, the very essence of spring rebirth. The smooth grey limbs of the ash tree glow in the light of the setting sun.

I listen to the bird song, hoping to hear the happy chatter of swallows, but not yet. Soon, soon, those joyously swooping spirits of summer will return. But not yet.

Savouring the sights, scents and sounds, I walk slowly down the hill - and even more slowly back up again. It is steep, and even after living here 11 years I am still rendered breathless by the time I return to my own gate.

Now I wander down to the geese. Buffy and her new beau Spike have been wandering all day by the greenhouse, feasting on the tender spring grass there. Now I shut them safely back in their pen before twilight - and any peckish foxes in the vicinity - descend. Then I make my way back up to the house through the vegetable patch, noting with satisfaction the profusion of golden cowslips in the flower bed by the compost heap. The apple tree is just starting to come into leaf, and soon the flowering cherry will be putting on her show stopping display of fairytale pink blossom.

In the dark days of winter I longed for spring. And now it is here and passing all too quickly. It is good to take a little time out to fully appreciate the onrush of spring. It is lucky Mair expects her box of eggs each week. It's the perfect opportunity to stroll down the lane, sniffing violets and listening for swallows and keeping an eye open for the first bluebells...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Wonderful Giveaway


Pic: copyright Jackie Morris

If you go to this page, you will find details of a couple of wonderful giveaways from the extremely talented Jackie Morris that you could win....

Of course, my reasons for posting this are not wholly altruistic, as you will see. I want it, I want it! *crosses fingers and wishes*

Good luck!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Contentment



Lazy lie-in, snuggled with IB and a bed full of purring cats.

Warm brioche rolls and a steaming mug of coffee.

A long, luxurious soak in the bath.

Out into a mild spring day full of birdsong and gentle breezes.

A day of simple pleasures.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Small Treat



It is a beautiful spring morning. The wind is cold but when it drops, the sun is warm on my back.

Gingerly, I move over to the chicken run to let the girls out of their house and give them food and water. I have recently undergone surgery and have been too sore to attend to these chores of late. Mum, Dad and IB have been helping me, but this morning I am feeling better. In the sunshine, with daffodils blowing in the breeze, the sound of water rushing in the stream and lambs bleating in the fields, a routine chore now almost seems like a treat.

The chickens crowd round my feet as I deposit their feeder, empty the drinker and refill with fresh water. Outside the cats play-chase each other and then roll lazily on their backs, luxuriating in the sun. I shut the door of the chicken run behind me and slowly return to the house, pausing on the way to admire the pulmonaria in full bloom. The sun shines, the birds sing, spring is here - and I am very happy to have the time to stop and breathe it all in.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

An Invitation...


Join us for a 5-day spiritual intensive at
Avalon Spring
5 June – 9 June 2012!



Come and connect with like minded souls; laugh, learn, sing, celebrate, dance, talk, discuss, dream, chant, work magic and do ritual under the stars, in a beautiful peaceful setting near Glastonbury, the magical Isle of Avalon...

This year the story we will be working with is Diana, Queen of Witches and Lucifer, Lightbringer

Diana was the first created before all creation; in her were all things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into darkness and light she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son, herself and her other half, was the light.

*****

And so our journey begins. Diana, Queen of the witches and Lucifer, Lightbringer, her brother and lover. What do they have to teach us? What parts of ourselves are touched by the moon and sun, all of it. For five days we will work the mythic story from Italian witchcraft first published in a book by Charles Leland in 1899. We’ll do this through path working and ritual.



The teaching team for Avalon Spring 2012 is Anne-Marie (Bríghde Éire), Cassandra, Georgia Midnight Crow and Rook.



Earth Spirit has been the home for Avalon and later, Avalon Spring intensives in the Reclaiming Tradition for many years. For the last few years we have tried different formats for our witchcamp; very low cost at Epping Forest, to long weekend formats, and the addition of Feri Tradition work in acknowledgement of who we are (the organisers) both Reclaiming and Feri, and the roots of much of Reclaiming core working.



We will be focusing more on the strengths of Reclaiming style in public ritual and witchcamps. All the teachers are Reclaiming witchcamp trained, and have always been so, and have been teaching for many years.



Costs this year are on a sliding scale £300-£350 for camping, £350-£400 for dorm accommodation. Concessionary places are available if you are low waged/unwaged. Payment by instalments is possible, please contact us for details.



Please see the website for further details: http://avalonspring.me/

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Avalon-Spring-WitchCamp/244559932242936

email avaloncamp@gmail.com

Or contact Suzanne 0208 667 1525



Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Brigid Poetry Festival 2012



Remember the annual online Poetry for Brigid Festival (you can find my last year's offering here, and dig further back in the archives for earlier contributions)?  Well, it's already that time of year again! Here is my offering:




Kingdom of Mist



I ride through a kingdom of mist

where farms drown in a phantom sea

and may piles up in the hedges like snow

waiting to melt in tomorrow's sun.



Young wheat lies down where May-winds blew,

and larks are earthbound by the stars.

A heron glides between the trees

that hold the river to its course.



Here pebbles slowly turn to snails

and spiders webs are spun with glass.

Small shells fly off as frightened moths

and cows become as druid stones.



Only the mist moves as a ghost

loving the land with limbs of fur

and whispered words grow grey as breath

rising into the frosted air.



And night comes down where day once grew,

lights ripple through this thin white sea,

while in the village, children sleep

never to know they slept in sky.


- Edward Storey

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Beauty, Balance and Delight

I haven't posted here on Moonroot as frequently as I would like over the last year. I fully intend to post here more regularly in 2012. But I have also started a new blog, Beauty, Balance and Delight, to which you are warmly welcomed.

Happy New Year! Here's to a wonderful 2012 and some interesting adventures in the blogosphere...