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♫     A favourite song - for new beginnings
From Iron and Wine
on the album 'The Shepherd's Dog'  ♫

'Resurrection Fern' - Iron and Wine

(Opens in a new window - minimize & listen while you browse)

   Jump directly to "Brigid's Day'                Jump directly to 'Recipe for a fine Wassail'

  

      February 21st 2012  
  
                    Icelandic wanderings and thoughts of William Morris ....

   (The Ogham wood for magic has changed now to Nion (Ash)  - February 18th - March 17th)

                 Walking towards the glacier - on the journey South to Vik

    It wasn't until I visited the first exhibition to be held at the magnificent 2 Temple Place, London quite recently - 'William Morris: Story, Memory, Myth', that this 'at-times-very-ignorant fae' realised the long love affair that Morris had with Iceland; with its language, its Eddas and Sagas and later with the sheer stunning beauty of the country itself.

   Muddypond couldn't describe what she saw this last week or so, but William Morris could ! Didn't tell you I was off on faery-explorations again now did I...... ?  Too late - whistle, blink - and I am home!

  In this poem, Morris blends a depiction of his journey with thoughts of Queen Frigg's saga, found in the Poetic Edda. Frigg battles to bring her son Baldur the Beautiful back from death.  (Read more about this legend on my 'Mistletoe' Ogham page.)

Iceland - sun through the clouds at Þingvellir ©vcsinden2012

                                    A view over the National Park district of Þingvellir

 

Iceland First Seen
(First two verses)

Lo, from our loitering ship a new land at last to be seen;

Toothed rocks down the side of the firth on the east guard a weary wide lea,

And black slope the hillsides above, striped adown with their desolate green:

And a peak rises up on the west from the meeting of cloud and of sea,

Foursquare from base unto point like the building of Gods that have been,

The last of that waste of the mountains all cloud-wreathed and snow-flecked and grey,

And bright with the dawn that began just now,  at the ending of day.

Muddypond Green, faery in Iceland ©vcsinden2012 

                                        Muddypond, looking over the steaming, bubbling springs at Geysir - and below 'Strokkur' errupts
Iceland - Strokkur geysir Feb 2012 ©vcsinden2012
Ah! what came we forth for to see that our hearts are so hot with desire?

Is it enough for our rest, the sight of this desolate strand,

And the mountain-waste voiceless as death but for winds that may sleep not nor tire?

Why do we long to wend forth through the length and breadth of a land,

Dreadful with grinding of ice, and record of scarce hidden fire,

But that there 'mid the grey grassy dales sore scarred by the ruining streams

Lives the tale of the Northland of old and the undying glory of dreams?

William Morris

 

iceland - rock formations on the way to Vik at Reynisdrangar ©vcsinden2012

                                         Basalt rock formations, rough seas, sea stacks and black sand at Reynisdrangar

Iceland - the power of Gullfloss ©vcsinden2012

                                   The mighty power of the Gullfoss waterfalls                                              

Iceland - Blue Lagoon on a snow stormy day ©vcsinden2012

    Perfect temperature in the natural waters of the Blue Lagoon, even in a snow storm!
And the Icelandic ponies? Well, they don't seem to mind the weather.

Iceland - hardy ponies in the frozen landscape ©vcsinden2012


You might also like to browse 'Skating on thick ice - from Iceland'  new
here on my Wolf Moons Blog

   

Also celebrating the
'Ice Theme'
New on my Hedgerow Crafts page -
beautiful   'Ice Candle Lanterns'


 

 

    February 10th 2012  
  
                      Footprints .....

Busy snow footprints ©vcsinden2012

  Late this afternoon, in sunny but clear and still freezing weather, walking beyond the wood to the meadow,
I could plainly see that some of my friends had been romping in the snow ............

Illustration by Ernest Aris
from 'Mother's Story Book'
pub Platt & Monk Company. Inc  1912
Snow footprints - fox
Snow footprints - rabbit
Snow footprints - bird
Snow footprints- rat

   These look to me like Fox, Young Rabbit, a large, un-named bird and Ratty. Then there were the footsteps in the picture below - who this heavy-footed fellow might have been I can't think.   Perhaps you have your own ideas.

           Snow footprints - unknown animal ©vcsinden2012

 

 

 

   February 7th 2012  
  
      And then came the snow .....
 

                  

         So deep and so quick - and so very, bitterly cold. The snow fell all night, soft and silent, and when this faery emerged from the hollow oak - there it was, inches and inches deep and not a footstep to be seen - not even fox. To start with!

    As faery rumours have it, 2012 will be a tremendous year for sports - so Muddypond thought you should see a modern faery pass-time. It's called Tree-leaping. Might even be a future winter medal sport.

  Tree-leaping involves flying to a high and worthy pine tree and waiting quietly. If any unwary, wingless creatures pass below, this small gaggle of gnomes for example - LEAP!   

    Here my flash of the sport - taken by remote control on the Drax machine, shows me, leaping from the highest branch of the Guardian Pine at the edge of my clearing in Hurst wood.

   You can always open up the wings a bit so as not to squash them completely. Fun what?

 

   Tonight is the night of Full Moon, the Rowan or Icicle Moon will cast her moon bridge over the snow. Let's get away from 21st century fae and our wicked games. We might celebrate with a favourite poem and some stunning wintery art from a more decorous age!

'the Fairy in Winter' Dorothy Lathrop


The Fairy in Winter

by Walter De La Mare
from the book Down A-down Derry

(1)
Here was a Fairy flake of winter
Who, when the snow came, whispering, Silence,
Sister crystal to crystal sighing,
Making of meadow argent palace,
Night a star-sown solitude,
Cried 'neath her frozen eaves, ' I burn here ! '

 

 

Illustration from Down A-down Derry - Dorothy Lathrop 1922

 

(2)
Wings diaphanous, beating bee-like,
Wand within fingers, locks enspangled,
Icicle foot, lip sharp as scarlet,
She lifted her eyes in her pitch-black hollow
Green as stalks of weeds in water
Breathed : stirred.



Painting-  'Heart of Snow'
Edward Robert Hughes c1908

 

'heart of Snow' Edward Robert Hughes
Alphonse Mucha 1917

(3)

Rilled from her heart the ichor, coursing,
Flamed and awoke her slumbering magic.
Softlier than moth's her pinions trembled ;
Out into blackness, light-like, she flittered,
Leaving her hollow cold, forsaken,
In air, o'er crystal, rang twangling night-wind
Bare, rimed pine- woods murmured lament

 

Painting-  'A Winter Tale'
Alphonse Mucha  1917

.

 

 

  

   
   January 31st 2012
  
  
      Imbolc for hedgerow faeries, reeds and the Oare Marshes
....      

Oare Marshes looking towards Sheppey on a cold January day ©vcsinden2012
The old ferry point, at the sea edge of the marshes, looking towards the Isle of Sheppey on a cold January day


 So here we are, today is the Brigid's Eve, and tomorrow is the festival of Imbolc,
or in Gaelic, Oiche Fheil Bhrighide
                      You can see how to plait a Briget's Cross, and learn more about her here on my website.   Bridget's Cross made at Imbolc with reeds ©vcsinden2012

   
   The half-way point between Winter Solstice and Oestre - the coming of spring. Traditionally, today is the time to plait a special Brigid or Bridget's Cross, made from reeds. This will hang by the hearth until it is replaced with next year's offering.

  Yesterday this fae set off with her basket and cutters to collect reeds down on the bleak Oare Marshes. Kent never ceases to amaze me with its varied landscapes!

   The marshes are protected by the Kent Wildlife Trust, and a very special place to see species after species of water bird and wader out and about on its flat sea-shore, leading back to the watery landscape of drainage canal and pools.

 

Oare Marshes - reeds and canals in January ©vcsinden2012
The Oare Marshes in Kent. Reeds a plenty to be gathered
accompanied by the plaintive calls of the water birds
Oare Marshes, Kent on a cold January day ©vcsinden2012

      Brigid Basket for Imbolc ©vcsinden2012

     Imbolc is a time to give thanks for the strengthening light as the days noticeably begin to lengthen. A time for clearing and cleansing rituals, for real house cleaning and for thinking about aims for the year that still lies ahead. (see too my diaryblog entry for Jan 31st 2011  and Feb 1st 2010)

    Among the symbols for Brigid's Day (Feb 1st) and the Christian Candlemas (Feb 2nd) are snowdrops, milk, lambs, all things yellow and white (candles, ribbons, flowers) and the Ogham tree rowan.

  Now, I have my cross, made from the Oare Marsh reeds, and today I made ready a simple basket, with snowdrops from the garden, candles, moss and for the 'cakes and ale' - oaty star biscuits with fresh lemon.

   Easy to make - simply equal parts plain flour, old fashioned oats and sugar with the grated zest of two fresh lemons - mixed with gently melted butter, honey and juice of the lemons. You need to form into a dough, which can be rolled and cut to shape. Muddypond favours magickal stars.

 

   You might also be interested in   " For St.Brigid's Day and Imbolc - how the first snowdrop became."
New today on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog.

 

 

 

   January 24th 2012  
  
      Snowdrop days are just around the corner - here are some Kentish dates for your diary
  ....
             (The Ogham wood for magic has changed now to Luis (Rowan) - January 21st - February 17th)

Snowdrop walks in Kent


The best snowdrop display that I have seen, and all for free (except for the car park), is near Hythe at Brockhill Country Park. Snowdrops carpet the banks of the lake and stream and make for a wonderful walk. There is even a little cafe, for lovely light lunches and teas. 
Open every day from 9.00am until dusk. (see some pictures on my DiaryBlog entry Feb 9th 2011)

The ever popular 'Snowdrop Teas' at the remote country church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian near Challock near Ashford, take place in February. It's also interesting to see the beautiful murals, particularly the Millenium Mural painted by John Ward.
Sunday 12th and Sunday 19th February from 2.00 - 5.00pm. (see some pictures on my DiaryBlog entry Feb 28th 2010)

The Hardy Plant Society bring rare snowdrops and hellebores for sale to Goodnestone Park, less than 10 miles from Canterbury. Here vast swathes of snowdrops spread under the bare trees of the avenue, making a perfect early spring walk. The cafe will be open for refreshments.
Sunday 19th February from 11.00am - 4.00pm  (see some pictures on my DiaryBlog entry Feb 24th 2011)

St. Mary's Church, Hinxhill, around 3 miles from Ashford - has a churchyard full of snowdrops in February, which may be enjoyed at any time.

The Hever Castle 'Snowdrop Trail'
will be open for family exploring every day during half-term week - including children's spring workshops and story telling from Monday 13th.
Saturday 11th - Sunday 19th February 2012  from 10.30am to last admissions at 4.00pm

A special Snowdrop Walk, in aid of The Pilgrim's Hospice (donation required). has again been arranged at Swarling Manor, Petham (nr Canterbury). Refreshments and home made cakes available.
Sunday 19th February 2012 from 11.00am - 3.00pm

Snowdrops Dante Gabriel Rossetti - fairy flowers
  Southover Garden and nearby Hunton Church, near Sutton Valence, will welcome snowdrop visitors for their annual snowdrop event. Cost £2.00 for Southover (for the National Gardens Scheme) for one day only.
Friday 17th February 2012 from 11.00am - 4.00pm

Chilham Castle Gardens are open for one day only, for a special glimpse of the snowdrops in their extensive grounds
Sunday 26th February 2012  from 11.00am - 3.00pm

Blanzifiore - Snowdrops
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1873

kentish Snowdrop Days Mere House, Mereworth, approx. 7 miles from Tonbridge and famous for the extensive snowdrop plantings and winter walks will be open for the National Gardens Scheme - £3.50. Homemade teas available.
Sundays 19th and 26th February from 2.00pm - 5.00pm

Broadview Gardens, Hadlow College, 4 miles from Tonbridge, houses the National Collection of hellebores in its 10 acre grounds as well as many species of snowdrops. £3.00.  Open from 10.00am - 5.00pm  Guided tours will be available 11.00am  and 2.00pm.
Thursday 16th February 2012

Spring Platt. Sutton Valence  near Maidstone, has 300 varieties of snowdrops to be seen, as well as home made soup and teas. £3.50 for the National Gardens Scheme. 12.00pm - 4.00pm
Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February 2012   .   Friday 17th February 2012

Nymans, West Sussex - not so far away, between Haywards Heath and Crawley! A National Trust property with a bulb meadow simply full of snowdrops! Gardens, plant centre, shop and restaurant are all open daily, Jan - Feb.. (House closed) - Open daily 10.00am - 4..00pm

_________________________________________

 **  There is a new link on my 'Favourites' page - wonderful jewellery, hand carved from Scottish reclaimed tree wood, bog oak and amber -  do take a look at Geoff King's 'Woodland Treasures.'   For any of us magics, or even for mortals, in the south of UK, you will be able to see 'Woodland Treasures' at the Kent College, Canterbury 'Craft in Focus' show and exhibition in April 2012. **

 

 


    January 17th 2012
  
  
      Recipe for a fine Wassail 
....... for all with an Apple Orchard, or just an apple tree  .....

'The Wassail Bowl' engraving by G H Edwards

*  Take one Apple Orchard (to be Blessed)
*  One Twelth Night (old or new - Jan 6th/17th)
*   One fine Barn (to dance in)
*   Gallons of hot Mulled Cider (to enjoy)
2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
3 blades of mace
4 cloves
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 ginger root
4 apples
4 oz. of sugar
1/2 pint of brown ale
1/2 pint of cider

The Gloucester Wassail Bowl from The Illustrated London News 1846
Engraving from 1885
by G.H.Edwards
The ingredients for a 17th Century Wassail Cup
'The Gloucester Wassail Bowl'
made from apple wood
from Illustrated London News Jan 1846

Wassail Bowl made from Copper ©vcsinden2012

          Take also:

*    One Wassail Bowl (to share, and from which to soak the roots of a chosen apple tree)

Wassail_Middle Farm, Sussex 2012*    Lashings of Traditional Morris / Molly Dancers (to make merry)

*    Masses of   Wassail Cake, cider soaked, (to share with the trees)

*    Loaves of  Cider Soaked Toast (to hang in the trees, attracting the wrens and the robins)

*    A group of   Scottish Pipers (to pipe us to the orchard)

    *     Many, many Flaming Torches (to light us on our way)

     *    A red and black faced Drumming Band  (to drum up the fire)    

Torch Procession, Hunters Moon Wassail ©vcsinden2012
Eastbourne Scottish Pipers Band, Middle Farm Wassail, Sussex ©vcsinden2012

*     One Leader of the Ceremonies (to make the blessing and raise the Wassail Cheer)
*     An optional Apple King or Queen  ( the one to find a bean baked into the cake)
*     Pots and Pans to bang or LOUD Fireworks  (to frighten malicious spirits out of the orchard)
*     One Huge Balefire  (to bring warmth and light)The Wassail Fire at Middle Farm Wassail Jan 14th ©vcsinden2012

 

Also needed :

* A Wassail Song
(to sing before the Blessing)
The one on the right
is from Carhampton in Somerset
.

* A Ceilidh Band
(to hold the dance together)


   'Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Till apples come another year.
For to bear well, and to bloom well
So merry let us be,
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple tree!
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls and three bushel bagsful
And a little heap under the stairs.' 

The Celidh after the Hunters Moon Wassail, Jan 14th 2012 ©vcsinden2012

Faery Muddypond Green watching the Wassail Fire ©vcsinden2012

                
               And last, but most definitely not the least:

*    A flock of Friends and Loved Ones (to share the mulled cider!)

*    A scarce and peace-seeking Woodland Faery (to add Magick to your Apple Blessings)

   This last is difficult to come by, but if a Magick hears of a fine Wassail, however small or grand, they will do their utmost to creep in, unbeknownst to the Apple Tree owners. They love nothing better than a great fire and the blessing of trees, but don't like crowds of people!

This Wassail, held in Sussex on Jan 14th 2012, was organised by Hunters Moon Morris.

                                ____________________

 Read about the magic and myth of the Apple Tree on my Ogham Apple Page.

NEW:  At last - I have finished some research on
Blackthorn - the Ruler of the Dark Side of the Year.


 

  You might also be interested in   Hushaby Street - dreams and hibernation for dark January days ..... 
New today on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog.

 

 

   January 9th 2012  
  
      A little full moon magick  ......
  birch wishes ...

Birch, Beith wishes at Full Moon ©vcsinden2012

 

Today the full moon shines.The Wolf Moon, Moon after Yule, Birch Moon, call her what you will - she is the moon of new beginnings.

  There are quite a few charms and spells which are uniquely linked to the Birch tree, you can find them on my Ogham Beith (Birch) page..... One of them I simply had to put in place tonight ....

   Take a fresh piece of silver birch bark and a small, strong twig or two. Light a white candle and char the end of a twig in the flame for a minute. Use the black, sooty charcoal to write a wish on the bark. Birch soot onto birch bark under a birch full moon. Keep it safe, and the charm may work for you.

Here's my wish, outside in the darkness. As it's always unlucky to tell a wish, I've smudged the wish line gently so that it can't be read by prying eyes!

 

 

 

  January 4th 2012  
  
      Surprising things all around us, even in the dark days and new year gloom ......
 

Katherine Wigglesworth illustration from 'Snug and Serena meet a Queen' pub. W. Heinemann 1950

Illustration by Katherine Wigglesworth
from 'Snug and Serena meet the Queen'
pub. Heinemann 1950

      First, may I say 'Winya Yen Saivalinllie'  or a very 'Happy New Year to all.' The mouse offers you a glass of Evermead, which he prepared with me last Mid Summer's day - it's a kind of liquid sunshine!

   Highland cattle on the common, Hothfield, January 2012 ©vcsinden2012 If you're feeling a bit jaded after all the Yuletide festivities, Muddypond here hopes you'll be able to find peaceful time, all to yourself.  Hedgerow faeries are passionate about 'me time', and love nothing more than a walk through their wood, onto the common or along the beach.

  Since new year, I've been out and about looking for 'faery founds' to make winter magic and done all three of those. Good time now for thinking - for taking stock.

    It's not far from Muddypond's wood to the common, with an ever-changing landscape all of its own. Much of it is wetland, the rich, black mud and boggy ponds playing host to all sorts of creatures. there are some big ones too!

   A herd of friendly Highland Cattle keep the slopes in order. This flash shows some of them looking very tranquil among the birch tree silhouettes - and as you know, now's the Ogham time of the Birch. This will be a fine place to find a Birch wand on full moon night!  (Next Monday - Jan 9th)    Fairy Muddypond in the 'Forgotten Orchard' ©vcsinden2012

 

    
    Gnark, the old quarry gnome
took this 'flash' of me, looking a bit nervous as I explored a part of the nearby wood which I call 'The Forgotten Orchard'. It's a lonely and ancient place, full of gnarled apple trees and tangled hawthorns. Old cottage chimneys still stand, tho mortals fled long ago.

   Late afternoon on New Year's day (in the mortal world) who can resist a forage on a cold, sunny beach if they can get there. The sea-salt smell, the sound of the breaking waves and suck of the pebbles, the sharp air - all the best clearing tonic that I know - apart from a glass of Evermead that is!
   

Hythe Beach, January sunset ©vcsinden2012
A fisherman at sunset, Hythe beach, where I was looking for hagstones on New Year's Day.

If you like 'faery art'. you may enjoy 'Rain, rain go away',
New on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blogspot