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Enjoy my music choice while you browse - this song seems to go so well with the winter months. 
Played on medeival instruments, it's one track from the album "Hagalaz' Runedance'.
  'Frigga's Web'  written and sung by Andrea Haugen 

 

   *     Jump straight to 'Wassail Celebrations'                           * Jump straight to 'The Cutty Wren Celebrations'

 

   February 24th 2011  
  
      A last visit to the snowdrops ... the 'fair maids of February' .......
   
 

Muddypond Green among the snowdrops in the rain
Me, avoiding the rain in the snowdrop avenue, under the limes.

    Well now you see, I DID manage to wend my way to Goodnestone Park last weekend, and what did I find?  A whole avenue, a river of snowdrops, under the lime trees and all in the misty rain.

  In the Victorian 'language of the flowers', where messages could be sent without a word written or spoken, with the gift of a posy - the snowdrop meant - 'consolation'.
   It was a flower often associated with death, probably because it was naturalised by the monks around grave mounds and stones near the great abbeys and monasteries before the time of King Henry VIII

  Snowdrops are faery flowers, wonders, pushing up as they do from the iron-clad ground of frozen winter - a sign of the life-giving return of the Sun. Be careful now - don't bring them into the house - they are wild, cold, free spirits. If you find just one lone bloom, it's a sure sign that the fairy guardian of that place is fading away and will not return to earth.

If you'd like snowdrops in your garden under the trees, buy and plant them now, last chance - as they'll only grow well if planted  'in the green'  when the flowers have just fallen.   http://www.thebulbshop.co.uk/shop/bulbs-in-the-green/snowdrops

  The Ogham wood at present is Ash - visit my new  Ash Folklore and Magick page here :-)

Snowdrops in the rain
Goodnestone Park snowdrop avenue
Snowdrops in the rain
 

 

 

February 17th 2011  
  
      I think you might like to meet the Queen of the Shadowlands   .....

Well, that's what I call her!  This woodland fae is totally in awe of the fantasy concepts and dark, magical handcrafts of Susan Tooker at Spinning Castle.
Have a look at the short video showing some of her work and you will see what I mean!

 


 

 

 

Susuan Tooker, creator of Spinning Castle design

Susan Tooker
Spinning Castle


www.etsy.com/shop/SpinningCastle

More about Susan and her work
on my Links Page here

 

Also - new on the Fairy and Folklore
British Artists page
-
see the fantastic jewellery and paintings of
Hannah Willow.

 
Susan Tooker photographed by pixie@pixievisionproductions.com

 

 

February 13th 2011  
  
     Myth and Faerytale, Ed Org and a visit you will love.....

Ed Org - brochure for exhibition at Obsidian Art 2011


   If you can possibly spread your wings and fly to Buckinghamshire during the next four weeks, there is an exhibition not to be missed! (See link below).

   Artist of magic, myth, courtly romance and enchantment Ed Org, whose work is as rare and difficult to find as a runic ring on a mountainside has no less than 50 original drawings and paintings to marvel over or to buy, and exquisite prints too numerous to count!
See some of his work online here.

  Little rooms to explore, Aladdin's caves full of promise are packed with the work of his friends -   paintings from
Mark Potts, Hannah Willow, Wendy Andrew, Julie Eaton. 
(Find links to some of these artists on my Fairy & Folklore Artist Links page)
.
Obsidian Art - Gallery in Buckinhamshire
  Obsidian Art - BuckinghamshireYou'll find pewter topped boxes and jewelled mirrors from
Sue Rawley
- delicate, hand crafted jewellery from
Kelly Martinez and Hannah Willow,
smooth turned wooden bowls set with hares and oaks by Philthetree  - all of these are the stuff of legends, treasures and idylls in themselves.

  I loved this gallery, totally non-imposing and welcoming, prices for everyone from £1.00 or two for a card to £6000 or so for a masterpeice to treasure for a lifetime, with a friendly little café right next door ! One day I might, just might tell you what I bought for my collection. Maybe - if you're good.

Obsidian Art

Ed Org and Special Guests

Until Sunday March 13th 2011

Layby Farm
(The Bucks Goat Centre)
Old Risborough Road
Stoke Mandeville
Bucks
HP22 5XJ

Ed Org and Friends - Exhibition at Obsidian Arts 2011

 

 


February 9th 2011  
  
     'Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring, And pensive monitor of fleeting years! ' ...

Quotation from 'To a Snowdrop' - Wordsworth 1819

Snowdrops at Brockhill Park, Saltwood, Kent

  Dreaming in drifts of snowdrops, walking, sitting, watching. Is there anything better to do at this time of year, any more important way of spending a measure of your time?  You would like to learn magic - it's easy, simply take some moments to walk in the snowdrops!   Snowdrops in Brockhill ParkSnowdrops in Brockhill Park


   All these flashes
(or 'photos' as I think you call them!) were taken in the last day or so at Brockhill Country Park, in Saltwood, near Hythe, Kent. (For link see below)
You can find a small lake in the woods, and a stream lined with alder trees and everywhere, snowdrops.
Spend as long as you like breathing in the countryside, then try the great range of vegetarian food in the little café back by the car-park
.

   Last year I enjoyed the snowdrops at Challock Church, (see link below) and you may see pictures from Challock and read about the magic of the plant here in my Diaryblog from last February.

Plenty of people have asked me about snowdrop events, so here are a few in Kent for 2011 that you might try .....

Brockhill Park, Saltwood, Kent
An unexpected companion!
Brockhill Park, Saltwood, Kent
By the tumbling waterfall

 

Brockhill Country Park, Saltwood, Hythe - open every day - car-park closes at 5.30pm
Also - Snowdrop Walk - Tuesday, Feb15 2011, with Romney Marsh Walking Society, meeting at Brockhill Country Park at 10am

Challock, nr Ashford - the church of St.Cosmas and St.Damian - see the flowers any time -
or enjoy a Snowdrop Tea - on Sunday Feb 13th and Sunday Feb 20th 2011 - 12.30 - 5.00pm

Goodnestone Park Gardens, Wingham, near Canterbury - have a special Snowdrop and Hellebore Extravaganza Day, with specialist nurseries selling plants -
Sunday February 20th 2011, 11am - 4.30pm.

Hever Castle, nr Edenbridge - have  'The Snowdrop Trail' a marked walk to follow in the grounds during half term week- with plenty of other activities. From Sun 20th Feb to Sun 27th Feb 2011Snowdrop carpet in Brockhill Park, Saltwood, Kent

* Open for the National Gardens Scheme - Southover, at Hunton, near Maidstone. Sunday 20th February 2011
11am - 4pm, or by appointment from 5th Jan.

*  Starting at Eastling Church, Faversham, on Wednesday 16th February 2011,Snowdrop Country Walk - with Maidstone Ramblers lasting 5 hours (10 miles moderate walking) and meeting at the church at 10.00am. Book here

* Starting at The George Inn, Newnham, on Sunday February 20th 2011 at 10.00am, Snowdrop Walk of 6 miles, 3 hours with the Ramblers Association. Book here.


*  Then - a bit further afield - near Cheltenham, at Colesbourne Park, which houses the National Snowdrop Collection -
Two Snowdrop Study Days -  Thursday 17th February  and Thursday 24th February 2011
The gardens at Colestone Park will be open every Saturday and Sunday from February 5th until March 6th 2011.

 
New
on my Spells and Charms page today - Making Beads from Elder Wood to use as a talisman.


 

February 3rd 2011  
  
        The Runic Ring and an Appointment with Mr. Yeats   .....
   The Futhorc runes on the Kingmoor Ring

Kingmoor ring front

The Kingmoor Ring
from the data-base archive of
The British Museum

   I love my woods, don't get me wrong now - I really do - but the fae are curious creatures and unless captured (when we promptly fade anyway) we WILL just "go and see for ourselves" at times.
Today was one of those days. I found a picture of the most beautiful ring that I have ever seen - and I wanted to gaze long and longer at it for myself.

   Called by two names, The Kingmoor Ring or the Greymoor Hill Ring - and made somewhere in the 8th to 10th centuries of palest gold, it is engraved with Runes of the Anglo-Saxon, Futhorc type, and although scholars have tried for a translation of the inscription, they're still baffled.

   What amazes me - is that apart from its stunning beauty, five rings have been unearthed in different parts of our fair country, with virtually identical rune engravings - ÆRÜRIUFLT ÜRIURIDON GLÆSTÆPONTOL. Two were of gold, one copper, one agate and one lead. 

   Kingmoor ring left frontIn his definitive book about runic monuments and discoveries, written in 1884, Dr. George Stephens says of these rings ...

'I regard them all as connected with some secret sect or society, and as meaningless - a mere abracadabra; or as a cabbala of mystical origin or for mystical use as a Charm against some sickness or an Amulet or Pass."

   This ring is supposed to have been the inspiration for a certain ring, created by J.R.R.Tolkein. If it wasn't, then it should have been don't you reckon? Go and see it for yourself - Room 41 in The British Museum, London.
 

Waterboys - An Appointment with Mr.Yeats - composition from programme
  Composition from the programme of
"An Appointment with Mr. Yeats"
with Steve Wickham, Mike Scott and W.B Yeats
and staging for "The Four Ages of Man"

  
   Later on, I wended my faery wings over to
The Barbican, where I had "An Appointment with Mr. Yeats".

  Well, to be more exact, it was an appointment with
The Waterboys and a fantastic appointment it was - Mike Scott's newest venture - putting the poetry of Yeats to music. (Listen to an old Waterboys favourite here on my website blog.)

The album won't be on sale until September apparently, which is a shame - I can't wait to hear it all again. There are not many performances, so catch it if you can - it's not to be missed.
Ten wonderful musicians,with flautist, oboe and brass - eleven poems brilliant in their variety. A wonder!
And YES, they DID perform 'The Fairy's last Song - from 'The Stolen Child' - and yes, it was bewitching !

If you would like to read "The Stolen Child" in its entirety, 
and hear the live performance premier by The Waterboys,
you can find it here on my website.

 

 

January 31st 2011  
  
        The eve of Imbolc and the eve of St. Bride ......
  

  White candle animationThe Moon is waning to a tiny crescent, and today is the Eve of St Bride. Time to make ready for tomorrow, the great fire festival of Imbolc on February 1st - marking the exact halfway point between Winter and Spring. The day echoes down the centuries to tell us of the first lambs to be born and the whisper of sap starting to rise in the trees.

   Craft a Brigid's Cross to keep by the hearth, (see How to Make a Bridgid's Cross here on my website). Make little Bride (Bridgid) Cakes to leave out tomorrow night with a bowl of milk to welcome the Goddess into your home. These can be any little cake that you wish, but lessen the liquid and sugar and add some honey.

   

Bridgid's Cross from rushes from Eco-enchantments
 
A Bridgid's Cross
made from rushes

If tomorrow, you should want to make a simple faery ritual to give thanks and to ask protection for you and yours, you might try all, or some of these ... (see also entry for Feb 1st last year)
.

* Burn a white candle or two
*  Open windows, dust and freshen a room
*  Hang up your Bridgid Cross or a Corn Dolly
*  Decorate with a bunch of evergreens and a green ribbon.
*  Leave a bowl of milk and one or two honey cakes for Brigid and her maids
*  Perhaps burn a smidgeon of incense with some rowan berries or bark included.

Learn more about the magic and folklore of Rowan tree. and its association with this time of year on my New Ogham Rowan page - here.

 

 

January 24th 2011   (The Ogham wood for magic changed on January 21st to Luis (Rowan) and will last until February 17th)
  
       Thinking about the Silver Bough and preparing for Imbolc ......
  

Apple Orchards near Cgaring with wood-warden fae Muddypond Green ©vcsinden2011
To check that the trees are kept neat and tidy

You will know I'm sure that the passport or key to the kingdom of faery is a Silver Bough - a branch from an apple tree, either covered in blossom or carrying an apple.

Now unfortunately - if that makes you think that in the spring you'll simply be able to rush out, pick a branch, and
WHOOOOSH -
there you are - then I'm afraid that Muddypond Green must disappoint you!

The problem is you see, the branch must be given to you by no lesser magic than the Faery Queen herself.
Unlikely wouldn't you say?

Now, as she can't check on the wellbeing of all the apple trees herself, we wood wardens pitch in to facilitate the work.

  Yesterday, I went walking among the winter trees. Sadly there aren't enough of us to take stock of many orchards, (see more in 'A Note about 21st Century Fairies" on my About page - here) but since the farmers stopped using quite such virulent pesticides among the trees, it has got a little easier.
The Villagers do a good job too, in their Wassailing traditions (see below) and many an orchard is now blessed by the Lord and Lady of the Greenwood.

So what's my business in the orchards? To check that the trees are kept neat and tidy - to find likely twigs of Quert to make wands or perhaps to spot a branch that will be fit for the Queen - to monitor the swelling of the buds - to keep an eye
out for mistletoe growth - to check on the winter bee hives.

Near Charing Kent - ready for Imbolc
Kentish apple orchard - overlooking Egerton Church
Building the Imbolc Bonfire
The old orchard, looking to Egerton Church

  The day of Imbolc will soon be here - next Tuesday - February 1st. Ancient traditions need preparation and some should to be done on St. Bride's Eve (Jan 31st). More about this soon - but meanwhile, to make sure you are ready - see how to make a Brigid's Cross here on my website.

 



January 19th
  
       Tonight is the night of The Wolf Moon ......
January Wolf Moon 2011

For ideas about a simple celebration of the full moon tonight, and its special associations , see my updated Magical Moons Page here.
You will find two recipes for Wolf Moon herbal incense to try.
This fae should be lucky tonight - the forecast weather over my wood is for clear skies and sharp, frosty-bright stars.

Stop Press: - I TOLD you it would be a great night for the moon!!
Here is my picture, taken at just 6.05 this evening.

Into the outdoors with you, get out that scrying mirror and do some moon gazing.




January 17th
  
     ♫  Love and joy come to you, And to you your wassail too ...... ♫  

    Wassail cup menu
Funny old things these villager folk, just at the darkest time of the year
, when sensible ones are hibernating, they insist on making their own kind of magic. Fire ceremonies - Samhain, then Yule, Wassail and later on Imbolc or Candlemass.

Hunters Moon Morris at Wassail near Lewes 2011As we magics don't hibernate either, or fly away to warmer climes (except for dragons!) I thought I'd take a peek

This time, they were making Wassail - a tradition still carried out quite widely here in Britain where there are apple orchards and cider making.

 

My flashes were taken in two places, Rye Foreign on the new Twelth Night , and just outside Lewes on the old. (See more about Hunters Moon Morris here in my diary blog entry for October 18th).

A dummer from Pentacle Drumers, Eastbourne at The Lewes Wassail
Wassail torch lighter - Rye Foreign Wassail
Hunters Moon Morris at the Lewes Wassail 2011

Wassail at Rye Foreign - decorated apple tree

It's all to do with blessing the apple trees, and asking the Lord and Lady of the Greenwood, or any other gods and goddesses who may be listening, for a fine crop of apples during the next year.

Hunters Moon Morris - Wassail CupSome decorate the trees with cider-soaked toast (which my friends the birds relish the next day) and red ribbons, (which makes them very proud trees).
. Some make a cake to share, with fruit, apples and nuts. All have a large and special bowl - the Wassail Bowl - which may be turned in wood, flamed in silver, or what you will provided it is treasured.

 

 

The wassail cup is for sharing - filled with spicy hot cider (or wine) some of the liquor is given to the trees and gods before being passed from hand to hand.

Loud revels and noise are all part of Wassail - bangs and crashes, drums and sometimes wild dancing to frighten any bad spirits that may be lurking in the orchards. Frightened me I can tell you!
In Sussex, this was sometimes called Howling, and by one fire, this rhyme was chanted - "Stand fast root, bear well top, may God send us a good howling crop".

Wassail - Lewes 2011
I watched from behind the apple trees ...

 

And of course - fire - flaming torches to light the way to the orchards, huge bonfires, roasted pigs on open fires. "Bring back the light," the flames say, "bring us the sun!"


I watched from behind the apple trees as the dancers danced and the bonfire shot orange and red sparks into the night sky.

 

I drank from the Wassail Bowl, tried the cake, listened to the drumming, the crackles and bangs, and shouted 'Wassail' with the best of 'em - but I don't think anyone but the trees heard!

'And here's to thee old apple tree' .... hic ! (Damned hot cider gives you unsteady wings.)

" Here's to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou may'st bud, and whence thou may'st blow,
And whence thou may'st bear apples enow !
Hats full! caps full! Bushel bushel sacks full,
And my pockets full too ! Huzza ! "

 

 

January 11th
  
A quick note to tell you ...  Vintage botanical print showing Birch


From now until 20th January, the ruling tree is still the Birch, best picked while the moon is still waxing - see here.
A new page, where you can read about the nature, magic and folk lore of the Birch is now in my Ogham Tree pages if you'd like to learn more.

   The old calendar (pre-gregorian) Twelth Night falls next weekend, and many 'Wassailing of the Orchards' ceremonies are still to take place. Perhaps there is one near you? This fae drank from the wassail cup last weekend - pitcures coming soon!



January 4th
      The amazing ceremony of the Cutty Wren    ....
 

   Cutty Wren Procession- Suffolk  © vcsinden2011 Standing at a cross-roads in the snow, frosted and lit by the moon, I heard the drum - single, slow beats - then through the frozen mist, the flames of torches could be seen, lighting faces, strange faces, painted black.
Solemn faces, silent.  Just the drum, the footfalls in the night and the crackle of the flames.

Behind them, remarkably, there must have been at least a hundred villagers, all ages, slow stepping towards the village pub on the green. Not a word from any.

Exactly as they passed the ghostly tower of the church, the clock struck nine.

A rare ceremony indeed takes place each year on Wren's Day, December 26th. Something this curious fae has wanted to see for a long, long time, and at last she made the journey along the Suffolk coast .

  Cutty Wren ceremony - Suffolk - © vcsinden2011In old tradition the king of the winter birds is the wren. He was protected as a royal bird, and permitted to be killed only on one day - December 26th. There are two legends about him - but the one which relates to the custom of the Cutty Wren (Little Wren) tells of his fight with the robin Cutty Wren - Suffolk - © vcsinden2011over who should rule the months after December, and how he takes flight and hides in a dense bush of ivy.

   For hundreds of years, wrens were hunted on this day, killed and displayed, carried in procession, hidden in a little wren house made from ivy, mixed with holly and hung with long black ribbons.

   The women, decked in evergreens, were the musicians accompanying the men, who sing and dance around the pole carrying the wren, hidden in its ivy cage (these days not a real one!).

  Now and then, the leader lowered the pole to the watchers and intoned 'Behold, the King', and children peered among the leaves to catch a glimpse of the tiny wooden bird.

  The Wren King was once worshipped as
Drui-én, the soul of the Druids' great Duir oak.


Old Glory Molly Dancers at The Cutty Wren Ceremony Dec 26th 2010

Old Glory Molly Dancers Dec 26th 2010 © vcsinden2011

  When all were gathered round, the tale was told and the song of the Wren Hunters rang out, frosted breath white in the lamp light.

'The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's day was caught in the furze.
Although he is little, his family is great,
So I pray you good landlady, give us a treat.'

The Molly Dancers doffed heavy coats and kicked up their heels in traditional dance, and we ended by wheeling together in a huge, quiet circle.

The villagers were welcoming, and they showed immense respect for the custom, the story, the dances - and thus it was moving, strange and beautiful.

How very proud of them the ancestors must be!

Cutty Wren tradition in Suffolk © vcsinden2011

Old Glory Molly Dancers performing the Cutty Wren in Suffolk - Dec 26th 2010  © vcsinden2011

See more of the Old Glory Molly Dancers performing 'The Cutty Wren' in their video on my   "Ogham Ivy - Gort"  page.



January 1st 2011   (The Ogham wood for magic is Beith (Birch)  from December 24th - 20th January)
      Eina ten' i'Yen Winyar    ....
 

New Year's Eve Postcard from 1911
Rhyme on new Year's Eve Postcard from 1911