Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bealtaine Giveaway

I know that Bealtaine is still quite a while away, but I wanted to make sure that folks had enough time to enter this giveaway should they wish to, while making sure that there is enough time for the winner to get their pretties before Bealtaine.

Below is what will be listed in the giveaway:

  • One $20 Cyber Gift Certificate
  • 1/2 oz Mistress of Stag Incense
  • 1/2 oz Herbwife Incense
  • 1 oz Healer's Blend Wortcunning Powder
  • 1 oz Dark Arts Blend Wortcunning Powder
  • Four Packs of Seeds
  • A Pair of Herbal Beeswax Votive Candles
  • Feminine Herbal Beeswax Fertility Charm
  • Masculine Herbal Beeswax Fertility Charm
  • A Vintage Avon Jar Filled with Natural Pretties
  • Resin Veggies {Craft Supplies}
  • Summery Vintage Ribbons & Fabric Strips

$20.00 Cyber Gift Certificate
{cyber gift certificate example}

I will email the winner a cyber gift certificate of $20.00 {CDN/US} value to the winner which can be used to either purchase from my Etsy shop or purchase services that are available on my website.

Mistress of Stag Incense

Mistress of Stags incense is an sexy mixture of sweetfern, cedar, patchouli, juniper berries, sweet woodruff and a few other forest plants. It is perfect for Bealtaine, as well as lusty spellworkings and as a burnt offering to spirits and deities of the wild wood. The winner will receive a half ounce in a re-sealable baggie {$4.75 CDN/US value}.
Herbwife Incense

I created my Herbwife incense to be burnt as an offering for Airmid, the Irish Goddess of healing plants, and for rituals involving herbcrafting and healing. This incense is a soothing combination of wild ginger root, lemon balm, selfheal, peppermint, and hawthorn berries {partial ingredient list}. The winner will receive a half ounce in a re-sealable baggie {$4.75 CDN/US value}.

Healer's Blend Wortcunning Powder

The Healer's Blend Wortcunning Powder is a nourish offering powder for healing plants. All the ingredients were either grown or sourced by myself and are completely natural and biodegradable. The winner will receive one ounce in a re-sealable baggie {$3.50 CDN/US value}.
Dark Arts Blend Wortcunning Powder

A blend of all natural ingredients to nourish plants associated with divination, spirit travel, death, ancestors and deities of the underworlds. All the ingredients were either grown or sourced by myself and are biodegradable. The winner will receive one ounce in a re-sealable baggie {$3.50 CDN/US value}.


The winner will receive four packs of heirloom seeds that I collected myself from my own garden. Included are Small Sugar Pumpkins, Blue Jay Bush Beans, Purple Peacock Pole Beans, and a Wildflower Mix of magical perennials, biennials, and annuals. {$8.00 CDN/US value}.
Herbal Beeswax Votive Candles

These lovely votive candles are made with local beeswax and I have added premium essential oils and herbs and flowers from my garden. One has lilac blossoms, sweet woodruff leaves, and spikenard essential oil, and the other one has lemon balm, mint, as well as lavender buds and essential oil. The winner will receive one of each candle {$8.00 CDN/US value for the pair}.
Feminine Herbal Beeswax Fertility Charm

{photo of example}
A pretty charm made with a vulva-shaped milkweed pod, beeswax, rose pedals, a seashell and herbs associated with abundance and fertility. It could be buried in the garden for a Bealtaine ritual, used in fertility workings or put on a shrine for Goddesses associated with fertility and women's sexuality and health. The winner will receive one charm{$5.00 CDN/US value}.
Masculine Herbal Beeswax Fertility Charm

This fellow was handcrafted with beeswax and herbs associated with fertility and male virility. I will let you all use your imagination of what types of workings it could be helpful with or what deities might appreciate it. ;) It has a soft green coloured leather thong should you wish to hang it. The winner will receive one charm{$3.50 CDN/US value}.
Vintage Avon Jar Filled with Natural Pretties

A gaggle of little pretties that I found in nature in a vintage Avon jar {Crystal Facets Field Flowers Cologne}. In the jar is a dried rose, wee pine cones, a milkweed pod, seashell, sea glass, moss, and a small piece of turkey tail fungus.{$10.00 CDN/US value}.

Resin Veggies

For the winner's craft supply collection, I thought that these quality resin veggies would be great for making garden markers, or could be used for crafty projects such as fridge magnets {$2.50 CDN/US value}.
Vintage Ribbons & Fabric Strips

I included these strips of summery vintage cloth and ribbons of various colours because I think they would be great to create a May bush or garland, or perhaps for a mini Maypole {$2.00 CDN/US value}.
How to Enter the Giveaway
For those who are interested in entering, all you need to do is to either share your favourite gardening or Bealtaine lore, rituals or superstitions. All entries must be submitted to the comment section of this post; you can either just type it out there or link to a video or blog entry that is posted elsewhere. Previously some folks were having issues posting in my comment section, so I will accept entries that are emailed to me {unfetteredwood at yahoo dot ca} and I will post them in the comment section, along with listing who the name of the person it is for.  The winner will be drawn at random right after the closing date. Below you will see the vitals:
  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. Entrants must be 18 years or older.
  3. The giveaway is open for all countries.
  4. To enter you are not obligated to purchase anything from me or to subscribe to any of my social media haunts.
  5. All entries must be submitted by Monday April 22nd, 2013 at 3pm EST.
  6. The winner will need to provide a mailing address to receive their pretties. The information provided will not be used for any other purpose than to receive their winnings. The information will not be given to anyone else, or sold to a third party.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Doing Rituals in Nature

deer spirit vessel by Sarah Lawless

A few days ago I came across this posting on Tumblr, with photos of all sorts of litter left behind presumably by Pagans after a ritual in a forest. Seeing this angered me to put it mildly. I am sure that the people who left the plastic clooties and Brigid crosses behind meant well, but really, a wee bit of common sense goes a long way.
So, with that in mind, I thought that I would do a small post to share some tips:
Not Disturbing
When doing a ritual in a natural place, try to leave it as you found it. Picking up after yourself, and perhaps cleaning up any litter from before you got there is good form. Making sure that other parts of your ritual will not disturb the place {such as excessive noise or moving things around} is good to keep in mind too.
Planning Ahead

Many folks put a lot of effort into planning their rituals: things such as timing, what tools they will need, what they are going to bring with them and so on. Taking a bit of extra time to find out what precautions you need to take for a certain area or certain times {i.e. would your ritual potentially disturb nesting birds? is your area under a dry spell which makes forest fires more likely?} and finding out what regulations might be for the area you are doing your ritual in are important.
Taking stock of how your ritual items might impact the area is a good idea {i.e. if using candles, making sure they are in containers} and planning on bring extra items "just in case" {i.e. garbage bags, water} wouldn't hurt either. 
Paying Attention
Should a ritual have risks such as fire, someone needs to keep an eye on it and make sure it is put out properly before leaving. Sometimes rituals involve deep concentration, so in cases like this, having someone designated to keep an eye on things could be helpful.
 Leaving Offerings
I think that making offerings is becoming more popular, and that is good to see. However, making sure that offerings that are being left out do not negatively effect the immediate environment or the critters who live there is imperative. Research and care will probably be necessary, but I do believe that is a part of the gesture.
The Root and Rock blog has a lovely recipe for "Wildlife Friendly Cakes" and you can check out my post on offerings for more ideas.

Taking Mementos
Sometimes a part of a ritual might involve taking something; this goes back to planning ahead and not disturbing. Find out if it is actually legal to take an item from a site or if something you want to harvest is endangered beforehand.
My wildcrafting etiquette post might be helpful on this topic. 

photo from a forest ritual a couple of years ago

Friday, March 15, 2013

May Bushes, Boughs & Garlands

a part of my 2012 Bealtaine altar
By the time Bealtaine rolls around, many of us get to enjoy how everything is bursting with life: there is a constant chorus of birdsong, flowers are blooming, and there is greenery everywhere. There are traditions during Bealtaine that celebrates the beauty of Spring and Summer, and some of those traditions are decorating trees and decorating inside the home with boughs and floral garlands.
According to Patricia Monaghan in The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore May bush decorating was popular in both rural and urban Ireland up until the late 19th century. A tree would be chosen to be decorated, or boughs would be cut and adorned with ribbons, flowers, candles and sometimes with gussied-up hurling balls or coloured eggshells.

It appears that the most popular trees to become a May bush was the hawthorn, ash, rowan and sycamore. This is a tradition still practiced today, and you can see some examples of modern Irish May bushes here.

The May bush tradition was brought over to North America by Irish settlers and can still be seen in Newfoundland:
"spruce or fir saplings stripped of most of their limbs, save a few near the top, bedecked with strips of coloured cloth or ribbons, appear on the first day of May. These may bushes {also called maypoles, may brushes or may trees} are often nailed to fences or gates and are kept there by the householders who erected them for the duration of the month." {The May Bush in Newfoundland}  
In an article by Bridget Haggerty there is mention of folks trying to steal the community or household May bush, thus stealing that community's or household's luck. If one were vigilant and lucky enough to hold onto their May bush, they would often be burnt in a Bealtaine bonfire.

Besides May bushes, flowers were often utilized to decorate the home, as well as to bring blessings, luck and protection. The Tairis website has some excellent suggestions on what types of flowers and greenery to use {as well as more information on May bushes}, such as juniper, ivy, cowslips, elder, buttercups, and gorse. Some plants such as gorse and elder are not readily available to me, so some other suggestions that might be appropriate are sweet woodruff, lady's mantle, periwinkle, and dandelions.



Monday, March 11, 2013

The Rowan Tree

{royalty free photo}

O when the bonnie moon is fair,
An' clear the loch like siller spread,
An' heather-sweet the gloamin' air,
An' like a star thy flaxen head,
Why dost thou, Mary, make thy maen,
An' lean thy white brow on thy knee?
Why drop thy tears on heath an' stane,
Beneath the wavin' rowan tree?

There was a time when up the brae
Thy foot, licht as the roebuck's, sprang;
Thy bonnie een ne'er turned away,
Thy voice a gleesome welcome rang.
Thy lily hands why dost thou wring,
Nor turn to smile an' gaze on me,
When straight as lavrock's skyward wing
I seek the wavin' rowan tree?

There was a time thy leaf-soft cheek
Against the brown o' mine was laid;
From 'neath thy lily-lids did break
Sic love-licht looks, the mirky shade
O' nicht-fa', creepin' up the glen,
Did pause, as if 'twere fain to flee
Before some sudden sunrise, when
We trysted 'neath the rowan tree.

There was a time when, as I played
Wi' thy lang locks o' snooded gold,
Thy sma', saft fingers fondly stayed
Clasped on my plaidie's rugged fold;
There was, my Mary, once a day
Ilk hour--a honey-laden bee--
Slipped on the scented air away
From us beneath the rowan tree.

Now, Mary, when the moon is high,
Or when the gloamin's saft return,
I glide wi' thee the muirland by,
I seek wi' thee the glimmerin' burn;
I touch thy locks, thy lips I press,
Yet fast flow down thy tears for me,
E'en while thy white cheek I caress
Beneath the wavin' rowan tree.

An' is thy heart, my Mary, sair?
Tear-droukit a' thy locks o' gold?
An' paled thy roses red an' rare,
For me beneath the kirkyard mold?
O Mary, sair is heart o' mine,
For that thy blue een canna see
My spirit keep fond tryst wi' thine,
Beneath the wavin' rowan tree!

Oh, tears are saut an' love is long,
An' dear love's sorrow for the dead;
But love is true an' love is strong,
An' love's a flame forever fed!
Sae, Mary, while thy dear, pure tear
Rolls down sae swift for love o' me,
For love o' thee, unseen yet near,
I meet thee by the rowan tree.

~ The Rowan Tree  by Isabella Valancy Crawford

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Forging New Bonds With Deities

Image of An Cailleach by Mairin-Taj Caya

Being a "hard" polytheist, I believe that there are many different individual deities, those that I worship and others that I do not. Over the years I have felt my interactions with them change, and have had a few become what are sometimes called "household deities".

When it comes to new relationships with deities, some people feel like they have been called to a certain God or Goddess, while others actively pursue a relationship with certain deities. Personally I feel like I have experienced both, and over the last few months I have been working to forge a new bond with one Goddess in particular.

Since this isn't something that I have seen discussed too much over the last little while within the Pagan community, I thought that I would share some of my experiences in case it might be helpful to others.
Around a year or so ago I started asking a couple of folks within the Celtic Reconstructionist {mostly the Gaelic Polytheist} community about their experiences with An Cailleach, what suggestions they had for offerings and approach, as well as any research resources that they would recommend.

Thankfully I found the people I asked to be very helpful and open. Unfortuantely this isn't always the case when people are starting out. That is why I highly recommend doing quite a bit of research before you formally begin to start a relationship with them.
Some things to keep in mind while doing research are:
  • Do you have relationships with other deities or spirits that might be in opposition to this new deity?
  • What can you expect this deity to want from you? Will you be in a position to full those obligations?
  • Do they have any festivals, days or times of year that are special to them?
  • What types of offerings would be appropriate to give them?
  • Should you set up an altar or shrine for them? If so, should they have their own? What are appropriate items to put on that altar or shrine?
Besides just doing research, you may wish to do some type of divination, or you may even have some type of contact with the deity that will help answer some of these question, such as in a dream. I do personally place value on UPG and I have put trust in my own; however, I do like to check in with other folks who are of my particular faith to verify things whenever I can.
So I spent a good part of last year doing research, asking questions and planning before I started to formally pursue a relationship with An Cailleach. There were many things that I had yet to figure out and there are still many things that I am in the process to try and figure out, but I did feel that I had enough information to cautiously move forward.
Last Samhain I set up a seperate shrine for her, and started to make regular offerings. After a couple of months, once I felt it was right, I created a space for her on our household deity altar. Now I have been honouring An Cailleach in the same way that I pay respects to our other household deities, whether or not she becomes one or a long-term guest is very much up to her.
One last thing in closing: I do think that it is important to keep good hospitality mind! It is probably not wise to start making a bunch of requests {or even worse, demands!} when you are getting started. Save the requests for after you have built a rapport over an extended period of time. 
If there is anything of importance that I may have left out, please do feel free to say so in the comment section. :)