Saturday, May 25, 2013

Some Changes & Other Announcements

Dear Clients & Customers,
There are a few changes in the way that I will providing services and to my availability. The details are outlined below.
Starting May 27th until the end of November 2013 I will be taking a course which will make my availability over the next few months rather limited. The following changes will be effective for this time period:
  • Etsy orders will now be shipped on Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • In-person readings, blessings, consultations and events will be available on weekends {there may be some weeknights that I am available}
  • The carrying out of spellwork and custom orders will remain unchanged.
Changes to Services
A permanent change to that I have decided to make to my services is payment structure. Instead of profiting personally, I would like the proceeds of the services that I provide to be donated to what I feel are deserving organizations and causes.
I will still be charging for any material or travel expenses {as always, I am very open to barter and trade!}, and beyond that fees will be sliding scale. I will have recommended donation price points listed on the website soon, along with more details as I work out the logistics of these changes.
Currently I am looking for a way for clients to be able to donate directly to the organizations and I am in the process of building donation partnerships with organizations so that the whole process is transparent and "above board".
To find out more details over on the Pricing Information page and if you happen to be a member of an organization that would be interested in a donation partnership, please do feel free to contact me.
As one could probably expect things will be slower on this blog over the next couple of months, but I will post when I get the chance.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Merry Month of May

{cross posted at the nefaeria blog}

The last few weeks have been a busy juggle of celebrating Bealtaine and preparing for some pretty big changes that are just around the corner {more on that in another post}. To make it a little more challenging, some of my Bealtaine activities had been waiting for the weather to comply.

Even with the unpredictable weather though, I have been taking every chance to appreciate the natural beauty of this time of year.

Yesterday I consecrated seeds, which will be planted on Friday along with my seedlings after I do a garden blessing. Some hardy annuals and colder weather crops such as lettuce and kale have already been planted.
My Bealtaine water and rowan wood for the year were collected a couple of weeks back and I have even got to harvest some herbs.
sweet woodruff, periwinkle flowers and wild ginger flowers
stinging nettle
There has been some crafting going on around here too, including a candle to represent my hearth, which was ritually lit after last year's candle smothered. With a bit of luck, this candle will last me until next Bealtaine.

Near the end of April my "seasonal altar" was set up for Bealtaine, or perhaps better described as a shrine to Flidais and the wild critters. Over the course of the last few weeks daily devotionals and offerings were made.


For the "big do" I created some May boughs and a May bush and made nettle soup, bannocks and butter.

The house was sained and a Bealtaine blessing was said and our "hearth" was smothered and re-lit.

I hope that everyone else is having a lovely May!



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Honey Bees & the Gaels

royalty free photo
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

In many cultures the honey bee is a creature that plays an important role, and this is no different in Gaelic-speaking places. After doing a bit of digging, one could easily find that the Gaels had a close relationship with their honey bees, and this is reflected in song and poetry, folklore and traditions, and even laws. This post will just touch on some of those things.
The utilizing of honey for culinary and healing purposes does have a deep-rooted history in Ireland, which may have been gathered in the wild before people started keeping them domestically. How far back that history goes though I am note entirely sure.

According to A Smaller Social History of Ireland by P.W. Joyce {1906}:
"From the earliest times Ireland was noted for its abundance of honey...The management of bees was universally understood; and every comfortable householder kept hives in his garden. Wild bees, too, swarmed everywhere —much more plentifully than at present, on account of the extent of woodland."
One legend credits Saint Modomnoc  of bringing honey bees to Ireland from Wales in the sixth century. In the essay The Bee, its Keeper and Produce, in Irish and other Folk Traditions by Eimear Chaomhánach it is pointed out that:
"This date of arrival is substantiated by linguistic evidence of native Irish words existing at this time (the 5th and 6th centuries); such as beach (bee), mil (honey), and miodh (mead, i.e., fermented honey served as an alcoholic beverage)." {citation credited to Bechbretha: Old Irish Law-tract on Bee-keeping edited by Fergus Kelly & Thomas Charles-Edwards}
Mead was a prized drink of ancient Irish society, so much so that its main ingredient, honey was sometimes given as tribute to kings. If the feasting hall at Tara {tech midchuarta/mead hall} is any indication, this could push the date back even further {On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish by Eugene O'Curry}.

Prior to the settlement of the Gaels in Scotland, there is evidence of mead being made in the Bronze Age, found in a 1,000 BC burial in Fife. Fast forward a wee bit to the 15th century AD/CE and you find see a different kind of beekeeping in the lovely Rosslyn Chapel; workers renovating the chapel came across a 600 year old beehive that was in the roof. Apparently beehives were hidden up there so the honey would drip down onto the altar.

In Irish Brehon Law there was a tract An Bechbretha or Bee Judgements, a section of law dedicated to the affairs of beekeeping. The Bee Judgements were quite in-depth covering things such as property rights, injury, theft, and maintenance.

One of my favourite parts of the law is the sharing of honey with neighbours, since the bees would no doubt be gathering pollen from nearby gardens and fields that did not belong to the owner of the swarm. The attempt for equitable dispersal did not stop there though.

If someone had found an unclaimed swarm of bees on in someone else's meadow, they could get one quarter of the honey and the property owner would get the remaining amount; if found in a tree in the same circumstance, the finder and owner would get half each. If someone had found a swarm on communal land, they could keep both the bees and honey, giving a one ninth tribute to the tribe leader {A Smaller Social History of Ireland by P.W. Joyce}.

Should a person come by some bees or honey by more dishonest means, they would be penalized. In the case of beehives being raided, Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland Vol 1 says that the thief would have had to pay double the value or honour price.

No doubt bees were prized commodities, and not just for getting merry with mead. Besides their honey being used in various recipes and their wax used for moulds and candles, both were valued in healing.

Some examples from the Scottish Highlands of how beeswax and honey were applied in healing can be found in Healing Threads by Mary Beith. Beeswax was a favoured ingredient for making healing ointments and plasters, while honey would sometimes be infused or mixed with herbs for both internal and external use.

Dock roots were boiled and mixed with beeswax and butter to make a healing ointment, and one apparently popular plaster was a combination pine resin, pig fat and beeswax. Ox-eyed daisy infused honey was used for both coughs and wounds and honey-sweetened ground ivy tea was drank to treat coughs and consumption.

royalty free photo
I have come across quite a few sources that talk about the importance of telling the bees of any significant news going on within a family or household, including a birth, wedding, and especially a death. The point of this was apparently to keep bees from feeling offended, because should a household fail to inform the bees, they were said to abandon their hives. This is a tradition that seems to be rooted in both Ireland and Scotland.
From Ireland there is one account of a gentleman making sure his was washed, shaved and wearing his "Sunday best", as if he was heading on over to church before giving his bees the news that his mother had passed away. In Scotland some folks would "put the bees into mourning" by tying black ribbons on the hives after passing on the news of a death {Scottish Customs from Cradle to Grave by Margaret Bennett}.
In the Isle of Man children or their parents would make bumbee cages to catch bumblebees. The bees were thought to be wayward fairies or lost souls that the children should pray for. While the children slept, parents would release the bee and put a pebble in place of it. When the children rose in the morning they would see that the bee was no longer there and that their "prayers had been answered" or that the bumbee had "learned its lesson" and was turned back into a fairy, free in the world again.
To attract a swarm of bees into a hive, there is one recorded Irish method that I am aware of found in Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Francesca Speranza Wilde:
"Gather foxglove, raspberry leaves, wild marjorum, mint, camomile, and valerian; mix them with butter made on May Day, and let the herbs also be gathered on May Day. Boil them all together with honey; then rub the vessel into which the bees should gather, both inside and out, with the mixture; place it in the middle of a tree, and the bees will soon come. Foxglove or "fairy fingers" is called "the great herb" from its wondrous properties."
 {In a previous post I have shared an augmented version of this that I use that can be found here.}

Once you have drawn in your bees and harvested your honey, you should give these lovely Irish Mead and Scottish Heather Ale recipes a try!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creating an Ancestor Garden

{This was originally posted at the nefaeria blog in 2012}

I've been thinking about ways we can utilize our new patch of dirt, and one of the ideas I had was creating allocating a part of yard for an ancestor garden. Of course I am not the first person to think of this and there are plenty of wonderful resources out there, some of which I will share in this post.

For whatever reason, I have never created one before, and I figure it would be a good spot for me to do outdoor ancestral workings and devotionals when I can't make it to the cemetery.

Obviously a good place to start is figuring out where to put the garden. Personally I think it is nice to give over some prime real estate for devotional gardens, whether it be for land spirits, ancestors, or gods {and of course keeping a piece for wildlife too!}.

As far as what to plant, one could choose plants associated with those who have passed or plants that your ancestors were fond of. The spot we are using already has a little cedar bush, which was my Grandfather's favourite plant. We plan to add bleeding hearts and wild roses for my Grandmother and tiger lillies and sweetfern for my Great Grandmother. We have also chosen poppies, monkshood, and mullein so far.

Adding cherished or associated items, a memorial plaque, and perhaps an offering bowl and candles are also nice touches.

Here are some other places online that might spark inspiration:

If you have any ideas to add or if you have created one yourself, please feel free to share! :)



Thursday, May 9, 2013

On a Wee Vacation

Until late May or early June I will be on a wee vacation and will not be available for readings or other services and the Unfettered Wood shop will be closed during this time. I can still be reached though and will be checking and responding to messages and emails on a regular basis.

Be back soon!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Bealtaine Blessing

Bless, O Great Three true and bountiful,
Myself, my family, my household,
While in our home or out in the world.

Everything within my dwelling or in my possession,
Whether needful or sentimental, living or inanimate,
From Samhain Eve to Bealtaine Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From boundary to boundary, in every little space,
From ground to sky, above and below.

Be the Great Three taking possession of all to me belonging,
Be the sure Three protecting me in truth;
Oh! Guide me to live with honour,
And shield my loved ones beneath your wings of strength.

Bless everything and every one,
Of this little household by my side;
Place the glory of the Three on us with the power of love,
Until we go to live with our Ancestors.

When we shall leave these four walls,
When we shall leave the shelter of this roof,
When we shall go out into the world,
May the tending of the Three follow us.

You who have been with us since the beginning,
Please listen and attend me as I honour you
Morning and evening as is becoming of me,
In your presence, beloved Gods, Spirits and Ancestors.

~an adapted prayer from The Beltane Blessing found in the Carmina Gadelica

I hope that everyone is enjoying the time of Bealtaine! There is still a lot to do around here to celebrate. A post to come at some point over the next little while.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bealtaine Blessings

Summer has come, healthy and free,
Whence the brown wood is aslope;
The slender nimble deer leap,
And the path of seals is smooth.
The cuckoo sings sweet music,
Whence there is smooth restful sleep;
Gentle birds leap upon the hill,
And swift grey stags.
Heat has laid hold of the rest of the deer—
The lovely cry of curly packs!
The white extent of the strand smiles,
There the swift sea is.
A sound of playful breezes in the tops
Of a black oakwood is Drum Daill,
The noble hornless herd runs,
To whom Cuan-wood is a shelter.
Green bursts out on every herb,
The top of the green oakwood is bushy,
Summer has come, winter has gone,
Twisted hollies wound the hound.
The blackbird sings a loud strain,
To him the live wood is a heritage,
The sad angry sea is fallen asleep,
The speckled salmon leaps.
The sun smiles over every land,—
A parting for me from the brood of cares:
Hounds bark, stags tryst,
Ravens flourish, summer has come!

~Summer Has Come, an early Irish poem translated by Kuno Meyer

I wish all of my readers a lovely Bealtaine {and a lovely Samhain for you folks in the Southern Hemisphere}!