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♫    Music to dream by ....

Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Kate Rusby

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Kate Rusby at the Cambridge Folk Festival ©vcsinden2011


   December 31st 2012    Goodbye old year, such memories ... leaving you with a mid-winter treat ...


    If it's possible for you to get to London before the end of January, and you feel in need of a large dose of faery to keep you cocooned during the darkest nights - Muddypond recommends Matthew Bourne's new and very original ballet - or as he calls it - 'dance theatre' at Saddlers Wells.

Good fairies (yes, believe it).
Photo by Spiros Politis - from the programme.
'And they lived happily ever after' - guarded by faeries in the beech woods.
Set & costume design - Lez Brotherston

      Two wonderful hours of gothic faery saturation - faeries showing wit and spirit , dark, darker and darkest. 'The Sleeping Beauty' set to Tchaikovsky's familiar score but awash with deliciously wicked magics and much dark-skullduggery in an unexpected plot.

Faeries, ever alert against the threat of evil Carabosse.
Photo published in TNT magazine - no credits.
Programme cover:
design & print John Good

  A perfect ending to an enchanting year. Or if you haven't yet had the pleasure - a perfect beginning to 2013!



   December 21st 2012    For the shortest night, Yule lights, Winter Solstice - carols and bells ...

Headcorn Handbell Ringers at Sissinghurst in December ©vcsinden2012
'Joy to the World' .... Headcorn Handbell Ringers peal out at the Sissinghurst Castle Christmas market.

Part of the Yuletide preparations this year found me preparing a little 'Ogham Tree' - a magic tree, dedicated with thanks to the wild ones of the forest. Decorated first with tiny rounds cut from fallen branches of the trees themselves, which have been drilled, tied with a red ribbon and their Ogham name sign burnt onto front and back.




Ogham decorations_Beith - Birch ©vcsinden2012
Ogham decorations for Yuletide - Ivy - Gort ©vcsinden2012

Next, the tree was hung with my entire hand-made silver 'Ogham leaf Collection' from 'Where the Wild Roses Grow'. These leaves are really meant for a necklace - and Muddypond does indeed wear them to celebrate each of the thirteen Ogham Moons. Lastly some wee silver star beads have been added. Bieth (Birch) and Gort (Ivy) are represented above.

Charing - the forgotten Chapel ©vcsinden2012

 Nearby mortal folks partied once more in the hidden Chapel which has stood since before medeival days beside my faery wood. I was sneeking a look through the broken diamond pane of glass as I do, when who should rush out of a side door but a strange old fellow wearing a scarlet suit and ringing a bell which I think he must have borrowed from the handbell choir! Enough to frighten anyone away!














Us Magics now, we prefer
to make our Winter Solstice revels in even more enchanted places -
here, close to the stroke of midnight, waiting and hoping that the Lord of Our Wildwood will join us in the snow.

The little page boys are from Arthur Rackham's illustrations 'The Sleeping Beauty' pub:Heineman 1920


   December 6th 2012    Wanderlust - seeking old english magick in the almost South West .....  

    I don't know exactly what it is about faeries, but they can't help being curious. Very curious. Even the minutest of magical sprigs have wide, enquiring eyes (see portrait at left by Lucie Attwell!).
. Call it a meddling streak if you will - but the faere-folk must see things for themselves and are rarely content to stay in one place for long, be that place never so wonderful ....    

  That being so, this one went a wandering south-westwards, and thought you might like to share a little of what she found ...

Castle Combe in Wiltshire on a deserted December day ©vcsinden2012

Rat stone among the pillars of St Andrew's Church, Castle Combe ©vcsinden2012   Said to be one of the prettiest villages in England, Castle Combe in Wiltshire, nestling in its valley is remote and untouched by time.

   A market square with old inns, manor house (now a hotel)- a little main street lined with cottages meandering downhill past the tea-shop to the river, and a fine stone church, with a cheeky rat up amongst its pillars is about the sum of it. A fine place to explore on a cold winter's day when human folks are huddled by their fires!

  Castle Combe isn't so very a far-away-flutter from Bath, where the Yuletide preparations are coming on a-pace...

Bath Abbey in December ©vcsinden2012
Dinosaur rescue - Bath ©vcsinden2012
Bath Abbey and Christmas Market ©vcsinden2012

Bath Christmas Market on Abbey Green ©vcsinden2012


      There, all about the vast Abbey and sheltered by the great tree on the Abbey Green is the busy Yuletide market, twinkling with stars and smelling of cinnamon and mulled wine.

      Strange mortals were about in the dusk - making magic from a ball of crystal and taking their dinosaurs home, complete with brown paper wrappings .....
        Bath Christmas Market ©vcsinden2012

Bath - crystal magician ©vcsinden2012
Bath - crystal magician ©vcsinden2012
Has the faery-juggler met 'Indi' the Indecision Faery
from Brian Foud's 'Good Faeries/Bad Faeries'  Pub 1998,
or did Mr Froud meet the faery-juggler?

And on the fourth day ...  making my way homewards -
the great faery cathedral of Stonehenge stands sentinel in the frosty light .......  reminding me of this   -

On the fourth day God said - "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night;
and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth:" and it was so.'

Stone Henge in December light ©vcsinden2012      



November 24th 2012     One Magic in autumn sun - availing herself of the last warm rays ....
  (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  for this time of year changes tomorrow to Elder - Ruis,   November 25th - December 22nd)

Late autumn sun on chestnut hill  ©vcsinden
Muddypond in late afternoon near her favourite chestnut tree - taking in the magical light

   Not so much faery-larder work to be done now that real winter is approaching as quickly as the November full moon. Most late harvest is collected - but we can still scrabble for chestnuts under the carpets of leaves. The 'old man's beard' or wild clematis is rampant - Muddypond likes to hoard it when it's fluffy and dry to cosy up the winter bedding in the homes of the creatures in her wood and under the Neighbourhood Bank. The dormice are especially partial to it..

Chestnuts at Hothfield Common ©vcsinden 2012
Muddypond Green contemplating autumn ©vcsinden 2012
Old Man's Beard in the hedgerow, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden 2012

  Posing in front of the 'self-timer' on my Drax machine, warm amongst bright sunlight on the carpet of leaves above the bridle-way.

About rosehips - the last of the magical autumn harvests, with a recipe for rosehip syrup, is new on Muddypond's faery-tale blog
'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green'




    November 14th 2012     Log fires, autumn nights and hand-knits - nice ....


   Isn't this just the time of year - with long moonlit nights, misty early mornings and crackling log fires - when thoughts turn to all things cosy and comforting ? Industrious Magics of all species spin, card, weave, knit, sew and craft - using natural threads and plant dyes - plus a few enchanted ones which they alone know how to combine. (See poem below).

Ravelry banner - online knitting patterns and forumsDo you know the site for knitters, both faere-folks and mortal, named 'Ravelry'?
It is a most wonderful place, where patterns of every kind are shared, tried and rated.
There are groups and forums for everyone, beginners to professionals,where members can talk about knitting triumphs and problems, ask advice and make friends.

All the fairy knitting ideas below come from
Click on the pictures to be taken to the patterns and credits for each one.

Hand knit for elven folk - 'Dragonfly Vest'© Agnese Vajevska at Ravelry
Hand knit shawl © Carisa Chang at Ravelry
Wristlet and Accessory Pouch © kara L. Mayfield at Ravelry
Hand knit Galadriel Socks © Janel Laidman at Ravelry

Hand Knit Cowl 'Ice Queen' © Rosemary Hill at Ravelry

Knitting for Faere-folk.

Knit one, pearl one,
Glimmer two together;
Coil a cobweb as your thread,
Hang a soft grey feather.

Knit two, opal two,
Pass gossamer across;
Overcast with darkened clouds
Then shroud in dew-fed moss.

Knit three, jade three,
Lit by the waning moon,
Slip nine translucent stitches,
Knot with a Hagalaz rune.

Knit four, moth-wing four,
Repeat these lines, then twist –
Fasten with a moonstone,
Cast off your aerial mist.


Hand knit wristlet 'Perdita'© Elizabeth Klett at Ravelry
Elven Leaf Brooch © Marie Wright at Ravelry
Handknit fingerless gloves © Laura Peveler at Ravelry
Fairy Flower Circlet © Erssie at Ravelry Acorn purse ©Sally Pointer at Ravelry Elven Bootees © Hand Knit hat ©Circe Belles Boucles at Ravelry





     November 9th 2012      Even Muddypond was a faery-sprig once ....  once ...   omce ....

 ... and she learned so much about country ways from author Alison Uttley, and the beautiful, evocative illustrations by Margaret Tempest. Whenever this faery sees a sparkler or smells the tang of bonfire smoke the world of Little Grey Rabbit comes into her mind.
    The extracts and pictures below are from 'Hare and Guy Fawkes' published in 1956, just when family parties with our own fireworks were the fashion. Each precious tube bought with saved pennies and carefully chosen from the 'paper shop' up the road.

     Dads and Uncles clustered in the dark bearing lighted tapers and health and safety was a bugbear for the future. Catherine wheels fixed precariously by a nail to a pole. Rockets from milk bottles. Jumping jacks and golden fountains to 'hold in a gloved hand'. Baked potatoes from the ashes and home-made treacle toffee - remember?

"Hare lighted the bonfire, and a flame soared upward. All the leaves shone like gold as they fluttered up into the evening sky. "Wind, ice, snow," sang the leaves in thin piping voices, and the stars looked down to see what kind of bonfire this was with little animals dancing round it."


"Wise Owl flew over, calling to the animals,

'Too-whit ! Too-whoo !
Whatever you do,
Remember, remember,
The Fifth of November,

The wheel and the rocket,
The fountain of gold,
For winter is coming
With ice and with cold.

So Light up your bonfire,
And dance in a ring,
Laugh at your troubles,
And merrily sing.' "

    Some of the 'Little Grey Rabbit' series, were re-published by Collins in 2000. Unfortunately someone told them (mistakenly) that todays' sprigs do not like descriptive writing and would only concentrate on the 'story'.
Sadly these new printings were abridged (desecrated?) and all the wonderful scene-setting which meant so much to Alison Uttley herself as well as countless young readers, was entirely removed.

Luckily it's still quite easy to get hold of the earlier printings !



     November 5th 2012     Samhain, - fire - keeping the darkness beyond the Hunters' Moon .....
             (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  for this time of year is Wheat Straw or Reed - Ngetal ,  October 28th - November 24th)

Sparks - torches on the fire to light the Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012

   So many magickal events conjoined into the space of one simple week this year. It was the week of the full-moon, the blood-moon, or perhaps the hunters moon - on the very cusp of October, November - both taking their name from a time when mortals would make preparations for the winter to come, kill, preserve, store.
    For us Magicks the full moon on 29th October was 'The Moon of the Wild Hunt'  or the Ogham 'Reed Moon'. (See more about full moon naming here)

Vines Cross Bonfire Socirty at Staplecross Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012 Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012
Bonfire pictures above and below taken at Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire Society celebrations, Sussex in late, late October..

        In this same week, and only two days later, fell the ancient Celtic festival of the new year - Samhain.
The four festivals of solstice and equinox were not important for the human Celtic ancestors - and all over Europe two great festivals were kept - Beltane, May 1st and Samhain, November 1st - half a year apart. A time for the herds of precious cattle to be led out to pasture and sunshine, and to be returned to the byre for the 'darkside'.     


Samhain Eve - or Hallowe'en time was given over to divination, thoughts of what might befall the mortal soul and what has befallen those past.

My drum, waiting to sound the heartbeats before a meditation at the full moon fire .

In faery culture it's the night when the horned
Lord of the Greenwood, Cerunnos, god of the animals, or Herne the Hunter, (call him what you will) leaps into the sky for the Wild Hunt. I saw him, racing the clouds searching for any wandering spirits - to take them to safety before the longest, coldest nights.

    Lastly, the newest of the festivals, but inextricably linked - November 5th - Bonfire Night, and the mighty firework inventions.  All of the late October and early November nights linked into one brilliant blur by FIRE. Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012

Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire Society fireworks ©vcsinden2012
Bangs, screams and whizzes to fend off negative spirits
Friends with drums, sparklers, full moon and fire,
ready to call down the silvery light and give thanks to the Lady.

    Fire to mimick the dying light of the sun, smoke to purify, candles to glimmer in thanks for the moon.
Fireworks to dazzle and boom out a warning to anything evil that might be hiding there in the dark.
For each eventide, blazing bonfires to warm and push the power of darkness away.Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012

  Muddypond's music choice for this November seems very apt tonight when I look back at previous 'Samhainy' diaryblog entries  - 'Who knows where the time goes' indeed!  Have you heard it yet?  If you'd like to travel back with me, try these pages and entries :

                                 November 1st 2009 :  'Talking of Samhain and the Seer - the Guardian of the Gate'
November 3rd 2010 :  'Of Samhain night , Seers and Squashes '
October 31st 2011 : ' Samhain .Winter's Eve .The Eve of All Hallows ...'  &  'Nearly the Witching Hour'