April 27th 2010
Wild Cherry in Springtime
Although the wild cherry or gean is a native of Britain it isn't one of the chosen Ogham trees, but it has the pretty name of Idath in Old Irish. The trees all around Hurst Wood and down the lanes are heavy with white blossom and bees!
If you can find any prunings, cherry wood has a wonderful sweet scent on the log fire; or crush some bark and add it to incense. Strangely, there are no magical traditions with cherry but its wood makes a beautfiul wand, stripped of bark and polished.
In Culpeper's herbal, the resin gum was stirred into wine and was good for : "a cold, cough and hoarseness of the throat; mendeth colour in the face, sharpeneth the eye-sight and provoket appetite."
Woodland magics use plenty in their healings - and you can still buy cherry cough syrup and throat pastilles today!
This month, the Natural History Museum is running a Cherry Tree survey. You can fill in the online map with any cherries near you, wild or cultivated.
Click picture for the survey link.
If you're in a spring mood with all this lovely weather, you might like to try a recipe for Wild Garlic, Cabbage and Potato Soup as well as Wild Garlic Bud Stir-fry.
Find them both NEW on my Hedgerow Cooking Page.
The Cherry Tree
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And takes from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since, to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
A E Houseman 1896
April 22nd 2010
Celebrating Earth Day
Today is the 40th Earth Day, a time for magics, woodlanders and villagers alike to think about - not just that tiny place where we live - but the whole of this very precious and very fragile Earth. What does a fae like Muddypond Green know of whales you may ask? Ah - this fae has seen them, running wild in the freezing waters and leaping in the wind.
This is the best film that I've seen of Humpback whales, spriral-bubble hunting
April 15th 2010 (The Ogham wood for magic has now changed to Saille (Willow) April 15th - 12th May)
Reflections in the Black Water Pool
Today was a beautiful day. The sun was shining as I sat down next to the pool of black water near the southern end of my clearing in the woods. Normally, the water looks like polished black stone - very like the surface of my scrying mirror in fact. Today I just had to stop and gaze as the light made reflections so clear that I could hardly tell if I was in the world of air or water.
Tonight is a black night - there will be no moon to be seen until the first slither of new moon tomorrow. Now I've heard that it may be even blacker than we magics expected as a vast cloud of volcanic ash swirls high up on the winds from Iceland. Such strange news that - it makes me fear for the health of high flying dragons.
Also new today - if you like all things magic, you can find out how to make a Pentacle Dreamcatcher here - (Muddypond has to make a huge one in the second book)
April 5th 2010
Sweet Violets and their country magic
Just this week, on the banks and in the grass, anywhere the sunlight breaks through dappled shade, there are patches of sweet smelling violets. I think they liked the freezing winter snow as I've never seen so many.
In country folklore, violets are strongly associated with love. A little bunch made into a tussie-mussie posy was a favourite love token meaning 'steadfastness'. Pffft! This faery doesn't do 'love tokens' - unless she's specially asked to make a charm for other lovestruck folks, then she might!
They're useful to me for other things though. The deep purple colour gives the tiny flowers magical associations with power and royalty (woodland deities respond well to purple). The violet colour is used to aid meditation and brings a feeling of spirituality to your musings.
Ruled by the Goddess Venus, violets are linked with elemental water.
When healing charms are needed, especially for any severe illnesses, then the flowers and the dried roots, even the leaves are just the thing!
If you want to make the fae's violet wine ready for the eve of summer festival (May Day or Beltane) then it has to be done very soon, the flowers don't bloom for long.
On the banks near my wood, there are white and pink ones too, but I have to say it's the deepest , darkest, velvety purple that's my real favourite.
Another way to use them, and you don't have to be a magic to do this, is to sugar the flowers for cake decorating.
You can see how to do that: NEW on my Hedgerow Cooking page.
March 30th 2010
Tonight is the first full-moon of the Spring
A very simple Full Moon ritual, to give thanks for our precious earth.
If you are a villager-sprig, you must not perform this ritual without an adult villager present - as it involves lighting a candle.
One tea-light candle
Sprig of rosemary
Magics will also add :
* a few tiny crystals of frankincense
* a pinch or two of powdered sandalwood
Find a quiet place to light the little candle and take time to give thanks for our precious earth.
Add a pinch of rosemary to the flame from time to time. If you have them, add the moon related magick of sandalwood and frankincense - doesn't that feel lovely?
By the way, there is a new recipe on my Hedgerow Cooking page - for a delicious Nettle Frittata.
March 24th 2010
More signs of Spring in Hurst Wood
Tiny pink buds among the lichened twigs of a hawthorn tree. (Ogham name - Huath Season 13th May - 9th June)
Bold glossy leaves with their black spots - these are Arum Maculatum or "Lords and Ladies". They'll have tall spikes of scarlet (but poisonous) berries later in the year.
Soft pussy willow buds against a rainy sky. The fae love these! (Ogham name - Saille Season 15th April - 12th May)
See my Hedgerow Crafts page for a twig tied bunch decoration, easily adapted for Spring
March 21st 2010 (The Ogham wood for magic has now changed to Fearn (Alder) March 18th - 14th April.)
Ostara - The Spring Solstice
Roll over image to look closer
So now, Spring really begins! The earth is warming and the early morning air is full of chirrups. The moon is waxing to a fine crescent - a good time to make charms. To celebrate today, as all good magics will, here is what I did:
On a mossy log, set exactly between two bushes of ruis (elder), crossed by a strange, low growing branch of coll (hazel), I set out these things:-
* A still warm loaf of bread in a bowl of hag stones and dried luis (rowan) berries
* Two candles, purple for royalty (the Lord and Lady of the Greenwood perhaps), white for pure life and growth
* Fresh spring flowers and twigs just breaking into leaf
* A wooden vessel of water
* My athame with its rowan wood handle
* A black scrying mirror - look, you can see the blue sky reflected in it!
'I was sure he looked over my table to make sure nothing was forgotten'
Today, the hours of light and dark are equal again, and we cross at last from the dark to the light side of the year.
As I sat, very still, I was visited by a huge velvet bumble bee, and then, walking up the trunk of the crooked pine behind the bread - an acrobatic nuthatch. He was the first I've seen in Hurst Wood since Azureadore' Sky-blue flew in her shower of Stella Stars with Nutty-Hatch! We didn't disturb each other.
Watching the candles flicker in a breath of wind, I thought that the Guardian of the Gate himself looked in to see that all was well, but as on many another solstice day, that might have been a dream.
March 15th 2010
Proud spring mums pose for family portraits
I know these little fellas, they were born just a few days ago - in all that frost!Now of course, I don't have them to care for - I am a Wood Warden fae as you know and they don't go in for herbal remedies or charms much.
BUT, if you walk through the wood and on past Gnark's quarry, then fly just a tiny way down the lane towards the villagers' church tower where Storm stopped (see my Book Places page) - there they are!
I couldn't resist stopping to admire them. Who could? Wish I could draw as well as sculptor Henry Moore - did you know he liked to draw sheep?
The fae know these things - odd but true!
Hope that Storm Dragon will be proud of the flashes I took. They're Jacob Sheep of course, and leave wonderful coloured wool in the hedges when they're older. I'll collect some one day, make a scarf for someone - Old Rabbit perhaps, and let you have a look.
March 5th 2010
Thoughts in early spring sunshine
So you want to know how to make fairy magic? Make some time for yourself. Find a cushion of moss covering a a fallen tree. Sit very still and dream a while, far away from the everyday. This is where real magic begins.
If you can't be in the countyrside today, find a quiet place and imagine yourself in a wood. Let me tell you how it is here.
For the first time this year, the sun is just warm enough for sitting still. The air is pure and sharp after the frosts and it's quiet. Almost silent. Almost.
Listen - shut your eyes for a moment - there's a mistle thrush singing way over there in the elder tree and a whisper of wind in the bare hazel tops.
Somewhere behind me in the depths of the wood, I can hear two green woodpeckers tapping out a hollow stereo tattoo, first one, then the other.
Bring your mind back from yesterday or from thoughts of tomorrow.
Experience now to the full and concentrate on this moment alone. Feel every breath that you take of the damp scented air. Taste it.
If you sit here long enough, and can give your thoughts just to this moment you might hear the sap stirring in the tree branches, and the bluebell shoots pushing their way through the woodland floor litter as they are here in my flash, green in the sunlight and singing with promise. That's magic.