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♫    Music to dream by ....
from the album 'Frigga's Web' 2002
played on medeival instruments   

'Frigga's Web'
  Nebelhexë  from Hagalaz' Runedance

(minimize new window & listen while you browse the faery year)

 

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 

 


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

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

 


      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 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 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 19th 2011
  
       ....  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 24th 2011  
  
     ....  Thinking about the Silver Bough and preparing for Imbolc ......
  
(The Ogham wood for magic changed on January 21st to Luis (Rowan) and will last until February 17th)

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 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.

 

 

 

 

     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.


 

 


   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 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 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 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
   

 

 

 


    March 2nd 2011  
  
  ....  Time for a touch of March madness in the shopping emporiums of faerie 
.......

Warwick Goble - 'Dressing a Fairy'
Warwick Goble - 'Dressing a Queen'

Two illustrations by one of my very-most favourite Fairy Tale illustrators - Warwick Goble c1920
'Dressing a Fairy'  and 'Dressing a Queen'

    In a few days this fae will be attending on the fasting of a lovely red-headed bridey and her kingly consort. Blessings to them and all that are theirs. Thing is tho - what, oh what, to wear?  My sea-green faery eyes sharpened on these 'objets des dėsir' - liked the woodland colours so very much. Well, as I've said before - a faery can dream can't she?

 

Corset Top from Unfurled at Zizzyfay

'Corset Vest Top' ....
from
Unfurled at Zizzyfay

Charm bag - leather hare purse on a necklace from kikosattic

‘Leather Hare’ purse necklace
from
Kikosattic

'Forest coat' from  Enlightened Platypus Dreamcoats

'Forest coat'
from
Enlightened Platypus Dreamcoats

See more from Spinning Castle,
and read about the artist Susan Tooker
here
on my diaryblog
and  here on my links page.

 

picturesofgoods©thevariousshopowners

'Queenie' fairy shoes from Fairysteps

'Queenie' Fairy Shoes
from
Fairysteps

Fairy gloves - leather, from Vaisto, Finland
'Native' Corset-laced gloves
from
Vaisto - Finland


'Sea Green' agate and sea-urchin necklace from Spinning Castle

‘Sea Green’ Agate &Urchin Necklace
from
Spinning Castle

 That little purse-necklace now on its long chain, hmmm - how perfect for keeping your tiny treasures and charms? Perhaps that one could be mine - I might even tell you one of these days what I'll carry in it, if you can keep a secret!

If you love beautiful things - and I know you do, please have a look at my new link to:
Faery and elemental artist Julia Jeffrey - here on my Links page


You might also like to be the first to visit my new blog at
awww - go on go on go on go on!! Read new: The Swan Murders-

                       

 

 

 

     March 7th 2011  
  
  .... Sunset and 'Evangeline - A Tale of Acadie'  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1847
.......

   Muddypond, being one of the faere-folk, likes twilight times. The 'betwixt and between times' when, as you know, it may be possible for us to meet.
I do hope you like my pictures - these are the true colours that you would've seen if you'd been wandering near the woods yesterday - perhaps you were. If only you'd sat quietly, you would have seen me flying for pure joy and wantonly basking in the silken colours and the crisp, cool air. I saved a picture for you ....

Oak tree at sunset in March ©vcsinden2011

 


'   .....   Softly the evening came.  

The sun from the western horizon
Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape;

Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest
Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together.


 

 

The Common at Hothfield, Kent at sunset in March ©vcsinden2011

Hanging between two skies, a cloud with edges of silver,
Floated the boat, with its dripping oars, on the motionless water.

Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible sweetness.
Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling
Glowed with the light of love,
as the skies and waters around her.

 

 

 

 

 

'


Faery Muddypong Green revelling in sunset colours ©vcsinden2011
'Glowed with the light of love as the skies and waters around her.' - Longfellow


 

 

 

     March 8th 2011 
                      ...........Pancakes and Hares ...........

 

   Today is Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day - an old tradition which used to entail finishing up all the good things in the store cupboard so that no-one would be tempted during the Lentern fast. Flour, fat and eggs were made into pancakes.

   These days we like ours with a little sugar and lots of fresh lemon juice.Here's my kitchen table earlier this evening.

   New on my Nature and Conservation Links page - a link for Hares - have you ever had time to look at this page? British societies, with lots of events, newsletters, photo galleries, shops with lovely cards, and many things to do for children.

This also links in with some musings that you might like about March Hare Magic, over on my new blog site. You could even leave a comment there? !

 

 

 

 

    March 14th 2011 
     .... When ' frosts are slain and flowers begotten' ... horse-chestnut, violets and pussy-willow .....

 You might like to read a little about the Faery magic of  Hellebores on my blog - new March 15th.

Hurst Wood, Charing, Kent - deep purple violets on the banks in March

Hurst Wood, Charing, kent - pussy willow

 


" .......  And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins."

-   a fragment by A.C. Swinburne
from   'Atalanta in Calydon '

 

Horse chestnut buds unfurling

      Illustration by
Nellie Benson 1901
From 'Dumpy Books for Children -
A  Flower Book'

Horse chestnut sticky buds unfurling
Nellie Benson illustration - Violet Flower Girl

Hurst Wood, Charing, kent - violets on the bank in March 

Twig decoration - early spring  Faery treasures all these - luscious dark-brown sticky buds - soft, furry-grey pussy willow and deep purple scented violets.

Early springtime, still cold, but sometimes the bright sunlight breaks through, lighting the wood brightly in a way that won't happen once the leaves are on the trees above me. Suddenly the violets on the bank are out in their hundreds, leaning close I catch their scent.

Read 'Violets and their country magic' April 5th in last year's diary page here.

How to crystalize fresh, wild violet flowers for cake decoration here on my hedgerow cookery page.

   The fat sticky-buds of horse chestnut that I picked and brought into the warmth last week are unfurling their pale, leafy fingers. Mix them with a few stems of red cornus and some fluffy pussy-willow for a tall 'outside-in' decoration.

 

 

 

 

   March 23rd 2011   
     .... St Clements in Old Romney - pews, yews and resting places .......

        (The Ogham wood for magic changed on March 18th to Fearn (Alder) and will last until April 14th)

    New today - my Ogham page for Fearn (Alder) - read about the folklore and magic of the Alder tree here.  Fearn is your birth wood if you were born between March 18th and April 14th.

     Romney Marsh Churches - St. Clements

 

   The conjunction of this weeks 'supermoon' and Ostara, the Vernal Equinox and first day of spring saw the most beautiful weather here in the South, and made Muddypond want to explore.

  I took a flitter down to the Romney Marsh - to watch early for brown hares, to glare at the power station and generally see what else there was to see 

Spiritual places, no matter what, where or how, always retain the peace and yearnings of those who've spent time there - and so I love to visit them.   

 

   Derek Jarman - simple slate markerOutside the village of Old Romney, at the marsh church of St. Clements, I came across the plain, slate-stone marker for Derek Jarman, cult film maker, who in life, made a perfect little shingle garden at his home out on the remote sea-sweep of Dungeness.

Derek Jarman's garden, Prospect Cottage, Dungeness
The garden at Prospect Cottage - 'every bloom a miracle'.

  You can visit this remarkable garden - I looked out my pictures from two summers ago when I got back home to the woods. He loved the forms of the rocks and pebbles and driftwood picked up on the beaches nearby, and visitors to the church have added their own in memory.

St Clements, Old Romney - Romney Marsh Churches 
   The Kentish ragstone which forms tiny St Clements
must have been gathered in my second-ancestor's days as it's over 800 years old.
Between the cold walls of the interior are surprising box pews and a gallery, once painted pink for a
Dr Syn film and left that way - otherwise rare and unchanged since the days of the Georgians. Stunning.

Yew tree age verification certificate at St Clements, Old Romney
Click to view a larger image

 

Inside hangs a certificate, such a nice thing - dating the huge yew tree which shelters and shades many of the grave markers - to 560 years old - well - it must be nearer 600 now as it's signed by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie.

It asks us all to ....

'Please do all you can
to help prolong the life
of this vernerable member of your community."

                                   Indeed so.

 

 

 

 

     March 30th 2011 
          .... Of Worts, Emmets, Bald's Leech Book and archaic cures .......

  Muddypond was looking through her old leather-bound treasury 'Lines on Enchantment' yesterday - not studying for those Stella Fae exams exactly you understand, but wondering about uses for Enchanter's Nightshade, which grows in my wood.. Finding the page below, which is a cure for villagers (humans to you?)  I pondered on just how far us magics have come with our herbal medicines.

  It's a physic for those who are 'elf-shot' - a term they used in the middle-age for all sorts of agues, and this cure recipe comes directly from the first british medical book and herbal  - 'The Leech Book of Bald.'  The original is in the British Library, and this is from a transcript of 1864.     Worts, or Wyrts, is an old-english name for herbs, and emmets are of course ants.

   I copied out the cure carefully and stuck it into my book.  Here it is  - have a look at the first part, and I will tell you more!

Part One

    'Bald' was a healer. A monk who lived in the tenth century, practising his trade with poor and rich alike, and continually refining and collecting recipes and ideas for cures which, until Bald, had been handed down by word of mouth.

Bald persuaded a young monk named Cyld to scribe for him, and together they made the Leech Book, the third part being completed around 958AD.  'Leech' was the anglo-saxon word for a healer, or for medicine - they were poorly paid, and often poorly regarded.

 How outlandish - outrageous even - these 'cures' sound to us magics now! But like all herbal knowledge, most of their work was based on trial, refinement, success in practise and fact. They must have been much hardier souls in those days!

Here's the second part of the cure - not to be forgotten if you want it to work ..........

Part Two

The picture used as illustration is by the brilliant Swedish painter and illustrator of fairy tales,  Gustaf Tenggren

   Many of the cures in Bald's Leech Book finish with those words ....  'and all will be well with him'.  Hmmmm - I wonder?

You might also like  'Moonlight Owls' - new on the blog at -

 

     April 3rd 2011 
      ....   New Moon for Mothers' Day - and a magic for creativity level enrichment!    ............

      Several folks have asked me about faery magick and the new moon   ........

Spring lambs by the faery-tale willows
A proud Mum on Mothering Sunday, showing off her lambs by the faery-tale willows

  New Moon, as far as magickal workings go, lasts for just over three days from the night of the dark moon. Even before the first silver slither appears in the sky, the moon is waxing and her energies can be felt.  

'Moon Wishes' illustrattion by artist Johnny Gruelle

'Moon Wishes'
from 'Rhymes for Kindly Children'
artist Johnny Gruelle 1916

Any time over these three days, gently begin working towards renewing tired spirits and creative energies. The new moon is also a fine time for travel or travel plans, and of course - for sewing seeds, or beginning new projects in the garden.  Make a start with your intentions now, and continue until the moon is full.

  What might you do?  As it's Mothering Sunday here in Britain, a thought and a wish for her wouldn't go amiss. And well, let me see - light a candle or two - silver for the lunar energies and goddesses, white for peace and spitituality. Charge them with a drop of oil if you like - try Jasmine or Sandalwood to enhance Moon power.

new Moon Magic for early SpringNeed a spirit to talk to?  Freya, Norse Goddess of the Moon and of early spring may be able to help. Her flower is the primrose - what better for April? 
As the Ogham wood for this time is Alder I have added some tiny budding alder twigs to my primrose jar.

Burn a little herbal incense and work a ritual of your choosing, or simply watch the candle flames and dream about, or ask for, help with what you most need to accomplish.
Which herbs to burn? Lemon-Balm, Poppy Seed, Myrrh and Willow are among those ruled by the moon, and a scratching of alder bark or a cone or two may add power.

 In 'The Silver Bough', Florence Marian McNeill talks of a silver penny .... 'a coin known in Gaelic as "peighinn pisich", the lucky penny, which was turned thrice in the pocket at the first glimpse of the new moon.'
That 'first glimpse' could be two or three days away yet - but keep an eye open and a lucky penny at hand!

You might also like  'A little piece of paradise' - new on the blog at -

 

 

 

      April 11th 2011 
        ..... A faery-tale handfasting for spring .... 

Wedding Mice - needle-felted by Natasha Fadeeva

Wedding Mice by Natasha Fadeeva

ecoenchantments bunting©vcsinden

  Sun's shining, apple tree blossom is ready to break and here in this little island, romance is definitely la mode - la denier cri!.

Now, being a magic, my ideas of romance and yours may be different - most likely they are! But even so ...
 Muddypond could begin nowhere else than by giving you a glimpse of these mice. They are the most perfectly delightfully wonderful little things aren't they?

Made by Russian needle-felting artist Natash Fadeeva - click on the picture to go to her website ....

    And were I ever to be a prospective faery-queen, ready to be handfasted to an elven prince, then here are a few more pretty things that gladden my hard-to-please heart.

ecoenchantments - herbs©vcsinden

Green Forest Gown by Uptight Clothing
'Forest' corset gown with tree embroidery
from Uptight Clothing
Romantic lace fingerless gloves by AVAoriginals

Felted net & lace fingerless gloves
handmade by AVAoriginals

 

Handmade shoes - Marie Antionette by Pendragon
Handmade shoes - Marie Antoinette
by Pendragon

 

 More heart-stopping treasures to go with these - coming very soon in Part 2 - betcha can't wait !!

You might like a new recipe,  just right for this time of year - Wild Garlic Kugelis - on my Hedgerow Cooking Pages...

 

 

 

     April 22nd 2011    
        .... As promised - more choices for a spring faery-tale handfasting .... 
     (The Ogham wood for magic changed on April 15th to Saille (Willow) and will last until May 12th)
    

Niftyknits Royal Wedding Meerkats
 
' The Royal Wedding Meerkats'
created by Heather at Niftyknits
(picture used here with her kind permission)

   
  
   Now, rumour has reached deep into the centre of that faery wood of mine
- and just think - I always believed it was a secluded spot! - that out there in the world beyond the dawns and full-moons and shadows, there is to be a resplendent wedding of royal and princely proportions! Royal wedding meerkat flag

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, my friend Heather of the knitting needles has created a darling pair of Meerkats - suitable to such a week in the calendar of mortals ....

I think their namings are M'lady Meerkate and Prince Willmeer - or some such strangeness.

 Is she not a beauty? - and as for the Prince - well such distinction and proof of service to his country have never before been seen in the world of Meer!

 

   
For the handfasting, continued from below,
here is a lovely idea for the handmaids - each little basket is lit with tiny lights woven into the willow. The hair decoration is as delicate as a silver cobweb and would look amazing combined with a thin wreath of natural ivy twigs.

Handfasting basket
Silver Leaf Wedding headpiece from Phenomena Jewellery
Woven Irish Handafasting Cord by Niamh Dempsey

Basket from
April Hiler Designs (USA)


Silver Leaves Bridal Headpiece
by  Phenomena Jewellery (USA)


Traditional Irish Wedding Cord
hand-woven by Niamh Dempsey

     The handfasting cord can be made from anything you wish - from long, soft ribbons - from corded wools - but I liked this hand-woven example very much - craftswoman Niamh Dempsey says  ...........'I mostly make them specially for couples getting handfasted as this is the traditional cord used in wedding ceremonies in Ireland'.

 Now all you need is a wonderful wood, dear friends and a besom broom to jump over ...................  happy days.

   Recently I have added a link for 'The British Hedgehog Preservation Society' on my Nature links page  (and NOOO that does NOT mean you may boil them up into jam!! tsk - how DARE you!!) - and on the Eco Enchantments Blog pages you might like to read about the magic of cowslipos and oxlips.

 

 

 

 


      April 27th 2011 
 
           ....A curious folk custom dating from 12th century - and right on my doorstep ....... 

Biddenden, Kent, looking towards the church      

Old postcard of 'The Biddenden Maids'
click to see larger image and read text

  Are you sitting comfortably?    Then, I'll begin .........

     Once, very long ago, around 1100 in fact - but not so far away, in the small Kentish village of Biddenden, two little girls were born to the wealthy family of Chulkhurst. They were named Elisa and Mary.
The babies caused a great deal of interest - for they were born healthy - but conjoined - at hip and shoulder. They managed to live their childhoods together and grew up to be known as 'The Biddenden Maids'. 

The Biddenden bread and cheese 'Dole' 2011 ©vcsinden2011Legend tells us that at the age of 34, one of the sisters died. The other refused to be cut away from her, and was so affected by the death that she lived herself for only another six hours.

Now, their property - a small holding and about 20 acres of land was left to 'The Poor' in their will.
  For the last 900 years it is documented that every Easter Monday, a welcome 'dole gift' of bread and cheese was handed out to those who were then the needy of the Parish.
      
  Biscuits or rolls were made (and still are) from a special wooden mould, with the imprint of the sisters carved into it and distributed to residents and 'strangers' - and faeires by the way!The Biddenden bread and cheese 'Dole' 2011 ©vcsinden2011   

 
   Every year this tradition has continued,
the lands having been sold and the money invested. The old Workhouse, built on the edge of the smallholding, is now houses and the rents for these also contribute towards the charity.

  Nowadays, any pensioner or resident with a disability is eligible to apply for the gift if they wish, and it's handed to them by the Trustees from the window of the Old Workhouse according to tradition early on Easter Monday morning.

   It's quite a walk for some of them so I hope they all enjoy what they find in the bags of today - a nice loaf with a quantity of cheese, tea and sugar - all in strict accordance with the Will of Eliza and Mary.

The Biddenden Dole, Kentisg tradition - photo taken in 1902 by Sir Benjamin Stone

I love this picture - taken in 1902 by Sir Benjamin Stone - same window as the one in my photo, just 109 years earlier!
Source: 'Spring & Summer Customs in Sussex, Kent & Surrey'  by Fran & Geoff Doel & Tony Deane

I wonder if the twin sisters would be amazed at how they are remembered and valued so many centuries later?
And what a lovely, quirky old English custom.

Biddenden biscuit - folklore - 2011
beiddenden signpost
Muddypond's own
Biddenden Dole Biscuit 2011
Explanation under the Village Sign
pictured below right


Two young helpers (could be faeries?)
with some biscuits in a basket

 

Biddenden, Kent - the High Street ©vcsinden2011Biddenden, kent - village sign post

 
   If you're interested in traditional British Folklore Customs, you might also like these entries from my Diaryblog pages ...
Entry for October 3rd 2009  -  Folklore Meet at Tenterden
Entry for May 13th 2010   -    May Day Celebrations
Entry for January 17th 2011  -  Wassailing the Apple Trees
Entry for January 7th 2011  - The Ceremony of The Cutty Wren

You might also like  'Remembering the Bluebell Woods' - new on the blog at -

 

 

 

     May 3rd 2011  
        .....Another folklore custom - this one for Beltane - 'The Greening' - first day of summer ..... 

                                                Click here for the website of the 'Clerical Error'  Morris Dancers

   My story today involves a trickster, an olden day reveller, a Lord of the Dance. A character to bring in the greening and festivities of the first summer day - first day of May - from dawn when he is awakened and his green coverings are glistening with dew, to dusk when he is put to a ceremonial death.
    Then his 'Spirit of Summer' is released - but when the green begins to change and the leaves fall in winter, his job is to safeguard the life within the trees and the earth for the following spring.

                                                                     His name?   Jack in the Green.
Here, words from the last verse of Jethro Tull's evocative song of that name ................

♪  'The rowan, the oak and the holly tree
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter's night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming.
Jack, put out the light'   ♪ 

    Faeries love ceremony you know? Even woodland-fae like to escape sometimes and see what's going on in the strange and wonderful world around us. So, where did I find Jack in the Green this May weekend? Well, by the sea it was - by the crumbling ruins of a castle, in the brilliant sunshine of Hastings. No-one would have noticed me among the huge crowds.

Hasting 'Jack in the Green parade 2011
Hastings Giant looking out over the Channel

  There were giants there too - it's many a day since I saw a giant - they were very pretty and all ready to dance - here is one up on the cliffs looking out across the sea.'Jack-in-the-Green' at Hastings 2011©vcsinden

      Sometimes our memories of the history behind folklore can be a bit awry!  Many British pageants and traditions had to end when the country was at war, and they weren't revived - we only have a few documents and engraved prints of past revels to go on.
That's how it seems to be with Jack. His narrative is mixed with the ancient Green Man - another name is Green May - and spring fertility rites, the legends of Robin Hood, the little Victorian chimney-sweeps who covered themsleves in grass and leaves for their May holiday and the old beliefs in the battle between the spirits of Oak and Holly.

  Whoever he is, Jack-in-the Green, a symbol of May 1st, is decked out in style down here - and seriously welcomed. At the release of Jack's spirit, all folks are given leaves from his green frame, and they're kept until the following year for luck and to remind us all of the need to be vigilant in sharing and experiencing our earth, the outdoors and nature.

  Here on the right is the Hastings Jack in his crown of fresh flowers, with the Mad Jack Morris men, and surrounded by my charmed and treasured leaves.

  Last year, I went to see the 'Jack-in-the-Green' on May 1st in Rochester. You can read about it in my web-diary here.
  Plenty of folklore on last months diary blog too - click here.

 

 

 


     May 9th 2011
          ....Scary faery willow trees, a letter and a certain moon wand with heart   .......

faery tale willow
                                   Ancient willows growing by the banks of the canal at Hythe, near the Roman ruins

Faery tale willow near the canal, Hythe

In the cavern, John Baum

                      Illustration by Swedish faery tale artist John Bauer 1915
                                              from 'The Boy and the Trolls'

Now is still the time for willow magick, the time that willow rules the calendar of Ogham. If you make a wonderful willow wand, it could be used for powerful workings at every full-moon of the year - since willow - the tree of enchantment - is the tree most beloved of the moon goddesses.   Hythe Canal - faery tale willow

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
  Ancient trees of white willow
, which were once coppiced many, many decades ago and then forgotten, will grow to the most extraordinary shapes. The trunks hollow out and contort, the branches twist - they are true faery tale trees - the stuff of Tim Burton nightmares if you glimpse them in the moonlight.

  Can't you just imagine the scene with a princess and an old troll woman going on in the caverns beneath the roots of these trees?
I hope you can, because this is just what you might see if you explored the hollow bole of these willows and dared to clamber down the slippery steps of grey stone and gnarled fingers of dark root ......


   
     I have had some faery correspondence recently, a Drax in fact,  from a curious young villager sprig aged only six years, asking me many questions about our magickal kind - he seems fond of us - and shows a special interest in Muddypond's best friend the Silver Storm Dragon. I explained to him in my answer, the value of a wand made of willow - and he has fashioned a very special one himself from a willow stick.

Eco enchantments - part of a Drax communication Mister Scott with his Willow Wand

A little piece of my Drax reply to Mister Scott, and the Flash which he sent me in return showing the majestic Willow Wand -

So nice to meet you Mister Scott!

 
  Crafting willow wandsThis young sprig tells me in a Drax that a star for the top of his willow wand would have been too conventional, so he has made a heart with jewels like a face - for each wand should be like the person that owns it.  How right and wise that is!

The tassels of red and yellow show the fire and the tail of a Storm Dragon. Isn't it beautiful?

  Now apparently, when the smaller members of the family saw the papers and wood, the jewels and the tassels, they wouldn't be content until they too had fabricated a wand of willow - and Mister Scott, being a villager of much heart allowed them to join in.

  But oh how very lovely!  Thank you so much for showing me. I will make sure that the Storm Dragon, away in Lithuania sees them too.

 

You might also like  'Wild Garlic and Muddy Dogs' - new on the blog at -

 

 

 

    May 13th 2011        (The Ogham wood for magic changed today to Huath (Hawthorn) 13th May - 9th June. The best time to make a wand of huath will be full moon May 17th.)

Just a note to say that Muddypond has just finished a new Ogham Tree Page all about the
Magic of the Willows
if you woud like to read more about  'The Tree of Enchantment.'  Try here.

 

 


     May 19th 2011
        ..... More willow - this time in baskets - look what Muddypond made!!   .......
 

Muddypond Green with he homemader willow frame basket ©vcsinden2011
               My basket - do you think it will pass Level 133 ?   
     Well, I'm proud of it anyway!

  
       Faery folk are forever curious and they like to learn. Well, they like to learn what they WANT to learn that is.

  For a long time now Muddypond has wanted to make real baskets from willow rather than relying on other creatures' kindness - baskets are always needed for my Eco Enchantments business, especially when I have to deliver to the Neighbourhood Bank (see more about that in my 'Places' page.).

Even better, making a small frame-basket is the task for Inquest Level 133 of the Stella Fae Exams!

It took me two days to learn, and it wasn't so easy, but here it is - I can take it now to Inquisitor Burnt-Sienna Brown and see if she will pass me. 

The Willow Dragon - by Alan at AJS Crafts for Groombridge Place, Kent

  

I was lucky to have a place on a course run by
Alan Sage at AJS Crafts,
in his lovely old stables workshop tucked away in the grounds of Godinton House here in Kent.

  He was very patient, explaining everything from the beginning - showing the different willow withies, telling us how to let them stand after picking to avoid them shrinking, how to soak them to make them pliable.

(Alan's Willow Dragon photo is from 'Trip Advisor' - with thanks)

AJS Crafts - teacher Alan
 Alan is a brilliant basket maker, but he also makes willow sculpture -- here he is above, showing us how to put in the 'ribs'
and on the left is his amazing dragon, which roamed for a while in the Enchanted Forest at  Groombridge Place, Kent.


Willow withies ready for sculpture A God's Eye in willow basket making AJS Crafts - beginning a willow framed basket Muddypond Green's beautiful willow basket - made at AJS Crafts in Kent

   After the handle we started by making a 'God's Eye'  (see second flash above), then the ribs.  It was a great two days, made a change from Wood Wardening and patching up small woodlanders like the stoat who foolishly got his head caught in a plastic beer-can tie   Damned careless villagers.  Oh well.
Now I can look forward to another workshop to learn the beginnings of willow sculpture.

AJS Crafts - willow basket making course May 20111    Here are some new friends learning, enjoying and making something very satisfying. 

(I bet these villagers wouldn't drop plastic traps in woods!) 
Hope I'll meet them again next time.

  If you'd like to see more about Alan and AJS Rural Crafts, there is a new link on my links page 'favourites' here.

You might also like  'Spiers and Boden show their faery disguises' - new on the blog at -

 

 

 

 

     May 30th 2011
         ...  Looking for the Tuatha-De-Danann in the hills of southern Ireland  .......
 

Irish hills of southern Cork ©vcsiden

 Irish landmark Trust - Anne's Grove Gatelodge ©vcsinden

          Flying back from Ireland - Cork to be exact, I knew just how much I wanted to show you the woodland gatelodge where I passed my evenings, in hopes that you will be able to stay there some time soon.

   The woodburning stove was lit and dreams of stone circles, and the fae tribe of  Tuatha-De_Danann who could have been my Irish ancestors drifted through the ancient walls and up the spiral stone stairs..

  Now I sound like President Obama don't I? But then all the best of us must have faery-irish in the blood somewhere!

 Anne's Grove Gatelodge living room

  Anne's Grove Gatelodge stairs to bedroom and towerThis little gate house was my own private castle - set in the deep countryside with its own woodland walk into the most romantic, tumbled greener than green garden. 

  The garden is a famous one, known as Anne's Grove but because we have had such a bitter, frost damaging winter, it wasn't open to the world - just to those who stayed in the Gatelodge.   

 

  Anne's Grove Gatelodge bedroomIf you'd like to stay in the lodge, it's owned by The Irish Landmark Trust, and you can book it on their website, just for a weekend if you like. You don't need to go out really - the place is steeped in magic and the gardens and woods full of birds and mysteries.

Diola le' to Helen for making us feel so welcome.

 I'd come though, to discover the faery cathedrals - the stone circles that are sprinkled among the hills and forests, and very soon I'll show you what I found.

Meanwhile - come and walk down the wooded path outside the back door, and enjoy the evening shadows of the gardens.

  A fair way down, with the path turning gradually from wild and dark to luminous with rhodedendrons and azaleas, you will find Anne's Grove.

Secrets to explore by the hundred. It almost seemed a wickedness to leave it, but then it was the faery ancestors of the wild places that I had come to find .....

Anne's Grove gardens, Cork
Anne's Grove gardens, Cork
Anne's Grove Gardens, Cork

You see the place where the statue points - up there on the right? There have to be faery meets by new moon - don't you think so?

You might also like  'English field poppies - perchance to dream' - new on the blog at -

 

 

     June 6th 2011
          ....  Stones, circles, tombs and faery ancestors  .......
 

Labbacallee at Sundown, wedge tomb ©vcsinden2011

     Faery treasures to be venerated and safeguarded. Well that's how we think of them, but to you they are most likely megalithic treasures, strange survivors of the bronze age and way, way before. However we look at them, experience them, they are undeniably mysterious, steeped in reverence and an atmosphere like no other.

 Muddypond's recent travels in Ireland took her to a few, and she would like to share them with you, perhaps you might visit, stay in the little castle lodge that I talked about last week (entry May 30th)- and wonder too.

Wedge tomb, back, Labbacallee, Ireland ©vcsinden2011
Labbacallee Wedge Tomb, Cork  ©vcsinden2011

Faery Muddypond Green at Labbacallee, Cork ©vcsinden2011

   
   These four flashes show 'Labbacallee' or 'The Hag's bed'
- I tried it out for a rest as it was getting on for sundown by the time I had found it.

   This is the biggest wedge tomb in all of Ireland, the rocks huge and solid, the burial gallery thick walled and timeless. Three massive capstones form the covering, the largest one is thought to weigh around ten tons.

  At the back, three upright stones are set like buttresses, akin to the fins on an imaginary time-shuttle. A wedge tomb is simply one which graduates from high at the portal to low at the back.

 

Bohonagh Stone Circle ©vcsinden2011

   Stone Circle -Bohonagh, Cork ©vcsinden2011Not so easy to find, one of the faery cathedrals - Bohonagh. Faery cathedrals are stone circles - the wilder the better.

  Through a busy dairy farm, along a track behind the milking parlour and up a small hill, wild and lonely I stood and gazed in awe at the thirteen stones, forming a circle so perfect that they must have been set to the line of a giant compass.
 Boulder burial - Bohonagh Stone Circle, Cork  ©vcsinden2011  

Above, in the top flash, you can see the two portal stones, each about two metres, seven feet high, set guarding a view of distant hills.
Right - standing about seven metres to the east of the circle is a simple boulder burial.

  
   Most magics don't have
a body to dispose of when we pass - it's just a matter of a fade and a sparkle - I sat a while and pondered on the strength of a soul that needed such a vast rock to keep it from wandering.

  I have more to show you soon, before we talk of the full eclipse moon of June 15th. Meanwhile, a new Muddypond charm - for courage - can be found here on my Spells and Charms page.

 

     June 12th 2011
           ... A break from ancient stones with a bit of mad and trad ..........
 

The Ogham wood for magic has changed to Duir (Oak)  from June 10th - July 7th. The best time to make a wand of duir wood will be full moon on June 15th OR Summer Solstice June 21st.

East Kent Morris men at Boughton Aluph

                  East Kent Morris Men  with their Hooden Horse far right - salute.    Based in Folkestone - find their website here.                                          

    Flutter downhill through King's Wood Forest, and you might eventually come to a village cricket ground on a green, with an old pub, still alive and well. As I was making for home the other evening, and the sun was setting , I heard a commotion and flew lower to see what it was................

East kent Morris Men chatting
Pub sign on a late summer night
Dead Horse Morris and the washboard player

     Hmmm - now I have seen things like this before - folk dancers - Morris Dancers they're called - all dressed up and a-jingle-jingling with bells. Some have a fine selection of instruments to make their music, some have stout wooden sticks to wield in the dances. There were two groups rollicking outside, and plenty of traditional ale tankards on the tables.

Dead Horse Morris by the Green

 The dance side in the flash on the left, wear flat caps, blacken their faces and sport hobnail boots.

They had some fine musicians, but also some great singers who led rousing chorus and verse while the dancers clattered on the road.

They are Dead Horse Morris, they're based in Whitstable, Kent and you can find their website here.

 

 Both sides will be at The Tenterden Folk Festival at the end of September. I stayed until it was nearly too dark to fly on home to my wood.

Hooden Horse smiling (I think)
Dead Horse Morris - lead a late evening song
Eeeeeeekkk!
                            Dead Horse Morris with a rousing late evening song

You might also like  ' Cambridge Folk Museun and certain toys ...' - new on the blog at -

 

 

 

     June 14th 2011
               .....  Preparing for tomorrow's total eclipse of the moon ......

  Wednesday 15th, will bring us not just the full-moon – but a rare Total Lunar Eclipse!  Your next chance to witness the total shadow will be in 2018!    Weather permitting ! 

Magic for a June Total Lunar Eclipse ©vcsinden2011
Perhaps a small seasonal thanksgiving ritual after the eclipse.
Here are mid-June oak leaves, elder flowers, strawberries,
poppies and lavender biscuits.

  Despite that full-moon energy, the lengthening of the shadows is not a time when the fae race choose to work magic – rather light a white candle and make it a time for simple contemplation, to be in touch with emotions. Later there will be time for rituals. 

  The Moon will rise at around 21.00 here, and will still be VERY low in the sky when the Earth slips between her and the Sun, not making her disappear, but casting a dense shadow.
   The eclipse will appear at its darkest at around 21.30  - 22.00 where I am in Southern England, and owing to the atmospheric conditions the shadow may well be a coppery-red.

  The word ‘eclipse’ comes from the Greek  ‘ekleípō’ meaning ‘to cease to exist’ and ‘to abandon’ – imagine the fear and awe that the ancestors felt as the Moon darkened – perhaps never to return to full glory.

  When the bright moon is restored a magic focus may begin, with an Oak wand and leaves and elder flowers or wild poppies being appropriate for this part of the June month.  If you like to burn a herbal incense, frankincense, sandalwood and lemon-balm have powerful moon influences. 

  Elder-flower cordial, lavender biscuits and fresh strawberries would make a very seasonal thanksgiving!

           ____________________________

  I know how you love hand-crafted objects of faery-tale wonder - have a look at the jewelled, pewter pieces by
Sue Rawley - new here on my Favourite Things Links page.

 

 

 

 

     June 15th 2011
       .....   Total luna eclipse -  just before midnight  .......

   Oh alright!!  It was RAINING!!  I know, I know - I admit it -  Muddypond didn't see even a glimpse of the full moon - never mind an eclipse -  she made this dream up - but the Moon eclipse picture is real and from the BBC about an hour ago - and I've eaten the strawberries - and the lavender biscuits, they were real enough too. Smiles contentedly.
  Here's hoping some of you saw it in all its glory - please do tell me 'bout it if you did.

 

 

 

     June 21st 2011
       
....  More of the Irish stones for the Summer Solstice day  ....... 

    
   This year
, Muddypond will celebrate Litha (Solstice) later today - with the sundown - but I still have some haunting places from the South of Ireland that I haven't shared with you - and what better day to think about stone circles?

So, I'll pretend I'm still there ...as I would love to have been - at dawn ..... instead of clearing some stubborn weeds by a woodland path and watching the dark clouds blot out the sunrise .....

 

Gurranes, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011

 Gurranes, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011 

 

  These are the needle stones of Gurranes - called 'The Three Fingers'.

 A stone row on top of the windswept hills - low clouds were swirling and occasional sheets of rain driving almost horizontally across. Several of the stones have fallen over the centuries - but these three still stand - tall markers, calling the old ones to congregation.

  Difficult to understand the size of these stones from a flash - but the tallest one must stand at about 15 feet 4½ meteres.



Island Wedge Tomb, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011

 Island Wedge Tomb, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011So very lucky to find 'Island' - an amazingly complete and complex wedge tomb.

Meeting the farmer on whose land it stood was memorable as he could remember the excitement of its being uncovered in the late 1950s.

  I sat here a long time and thought about the burial here - a Warrior Prince? An ancient King?  Such a reverential burial site still holding its magic.

You can see the double-walled construction clearly here - with the burial gallery in the centre and the high portal stones marking the entrance. The floor, he told me, is as it was - a covering of smaller stones laid flat and close.

 

Drombeg Stone Circle, Cork, Ireland Island Wedge Tomb, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011

   The Stone Circle of Drombeg - with the blue of the sea in the distance - a perfect circle with a vast 'altar stone', and at a small distance, the remains of a stone habitation and closeby there, facitilies for a cooking fire and water.

Drombeg Stone Circle - cooking and water, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011
Drombeg Stone Circle - altar stone ©vcsinden2011
Drombeg - cooking and water structure
                          Drombeg - altar stone

    It seemed to me that here was a small shelter for a hardy priest-being - who watched over the circle and the worshippers, living alone on the hillside and welcoming those who had travelled miles to make their offerings and reverence to the gods of sun and moon.
    Just as we do today - Sunrise - Sunset - the longest day of the year.

  The flash below I call 'The Farmer's View' - thanking Farmer Johnny so very much for his kindness in taking us up to the impossibly-faraway-top of this hill in his jeep, with sheep dogs running round us, to see a hidden stone-circle - in one of the strongest gales I've ever tried to stand up in! Talk about tattered wings!!Ireland - County Cork

 

 

 

    June 21st 2011
         .... Later ....
no glimpse of The Guardian of the Gate ... was there?

The Seer and Muddypond Green ©vcsinden2011

'I knew I should have looked behind me - it was just before midnight - and I was by the Stone Circle needless to say.
Summer Solstice   - one minute he's there - the next - gone ......'

You might also like    ' A basket full of wild cherries......' -     new on the blog at -

 

 

 

     June 29th 2011
         .....   English lavender, magickal herb - lavender and more lavender ............

Lavender varieties at Downderry nursery ©vcsinden2011

 
    Muddypond Green spends quite a lot of time working with herbs
- and what could be more 'mid-summer' than lavender? Traditionally, English lavender is grown in Norfolk - but we have quite a bit in Kent, and I went on an adventure to see the National Collection of lavenders at Downderry Nursery near Hadlow.Lavender at Downderry Nursery, Kent

  I fluttered round to discover that they grow up to 250 varieties of lavenders and rosemarys, supplying nurseries, farmers and us herb lovers with flawless plants. They experiment with perfecting ever hardier species, get ready their stands for Chelsea and Hampton Court shows and distil their own pure oil.

Lavender
Planet   -  Mercury
Element  -  Air
Gender    - Male
Goddess    -    Hecate
Powers -   Healing,  Peace,  Protection,  Chastity


Lavender Oil from Downderry Nursery  

The creator and owner of Downderry Nursery is Simon Charlesworth, here on the right. He's showing us the tiny amount of precious oil, distilled from a huge vat of fresh cut lavender.

 The oil is sold in pretty frosted purple bottles, along with gorgeous soaps, candles, bags and bunches.
Buy online from Downderry

A lovely place to visit - not to mention the lavender ice-cream!! mmmmm!

Downderry Lavender Nursery owner Simon Charlesworth with the oil distillery
Lavender Soap from Downderry Nursery

English Lavender

 Can't you smell it? Lavender has magical properties of healing. Rub a little oil on temples or wrists to relieve a headache, use its antiseptic properties to quickly heal minor burns, scalds, stings and scratches.

Bee drinking from lavender cup ©vcsinden2011

The Good & the Bad

Left:  What we need to see - a fine honey bee, delving into a tiny lavender cup.

Right: She may be beautiful in that striped metallic coat, but sadly, this beetle - Chrysolina americana - is a serious pest of both lavender and rosemary, first reported in Britain only six years ago.

Click on the picture for a closer look at her.

Lavender Beetle ©vcsinden

Use the dried flowers or a drop or two of pure oil in a herbal incense. Bind dried heads on long stalks together with cotton to make a lavender smudging bunch.

(A smudging bunch can be lit to smoulder, then carried around the space you want to purify and protect, smoke wafting into corners.)

the Lavender Fairy - Cecily Mary Baker

Hang a bunch in the kitchen to deter flies and make simple bags to scent wardrobes and drawers.

In the middle ages, the monastery lavender workers, making medicines and perfumes were seen to be almost immune to the plague. So the herb became widely used as a deterrent and as a strewing herb.

Picture:'The Lavender Fairy'  -    Cecily Mary Baker

If you're going harvesting, or even just out to the kitchen, you might like my simple recipe for
'Wild Cherry Conserve' -   new on my Hedgerow Cooking page.

 

 

 

 

     July 4th 2011
           ...... The tale of an English summer -  of inspiration - of festivals - of divine divas ......

Buffy Sainte Marie
Thursday - at The Islington Chapel, London

Patti Smith
Saturday - at The Hop Farm Festival, Kent

Buffy Sainte Marie - live at the Islington Chapel, London - June 2011
Patty Smith takes the applause, live at the Hop Farm Festival, Kent - July 2011

    Magics of the 21st century have adapted themselves to the music they hear around them - and it's not just the 'folk' songs, little bells and flutes that we appreciate.
     Here are two evergreen Goddesses of Rock that Muddypond's wanted to see for years 'n years 'n years - each with a list of albums stretching back a few decades (faeries appreciate immortality in their Goddesses of course, as we live so achingly long oursleves - anyway - I bet these two have wands!).

They played old songs, blue songs and new songs - and of all the musicians Muddypond saw in these few days (and believe me there were some names!!) these were the most fabulous!  And oh how we loved them still - energising!!

Patti Smith - live at the Hop Farm Festival, Kent July 2011
Buffy Sainte Marie - live at Islington Chapel, June 2011

   Tell you what - these two together, giving a unified view on the world as they see it, would be dynamite I'd like to witness!

Hop Farm Festival, Kent 2011 - front page headline from The Times - smoothest festival of all!

From the front page of today's Times Newspaper - reviewing 'The Hop Farm Festival' in Kent
The smoothest festival of all hey?  Well yeah, that would be about right - from a faery eye-view.

 
You might also like to know about the animated film
'Kuky Se Vraci'

New - here on the Wolf Moons & Muddypond Green blogspot

Illustration by
Jakub Dvorsky

 

 

  

     July 13th 2011  
            ....   Recent hootings, heard first in the Hurst Wood   ......Baudelaire - quotation from 'The Owls'      
       I like to fly at night. Well wouldn't you? Specially under the moonlight or when the frosty stars are all a-glitter?

The other side of the Wood - Arthur Rackham
'The other side of the wood' illustration by Athur Rackham
from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'


  Sometimes I'm startled in my flight across the wood by a scream or an angry hiss, but it's only a barn-owl with her warning. Sometimes the tawny ones hoot and whistle.

   Reading the quotation from 'The Owls', a poem by Charles Baudelaire above - made me realise that many an urban type of villager (human-being as you know him) has his only owl encounters when walking by the old yew trees in a churchyard.
Is that why they are asscociated with darkness and fear and death?

illustration by Sulaminth Wulfing

    Did you know that the county of Cambridge is infamous for the belief held by some medieval overlords, who decreed that an owl was a disguised witch and insisted that it should be killed on sight!  

 Personally being a Wood Guardian Fae, I love owls.

   

   They might be frightening to some -  if you were a mouse for instance - but the owls are never greedy and only take what they need you know! They are wise, as everyone knows - and that is because, as Baudelaire suggests, they sit still for long, long intervals and simply contemplate the world around them. They watch, they learn and they remember.

  One of the best-known of the old illustrations showing us magics amongst the owls as a subject is by Richard Doyle. Seen here at left, but far from a favourite of mine - it is 'Elf and Owls' taken from his 'In Fairyland' - 1870.

   
Owls are not just a subject loved by the faery painters of old
- there's some amazing work to be found from our 21st century artists and here's a tiny selection of my favourites. You'll find plenty more of their work when you click on the links.

Sri Owl - handmade by Ann Wood
Owl Garland - paper sculpture by Helen Musselwhite
Kevin McKoy - mixed media on wood

'Sri Owl'
by Ann Wood

  I hope you would like to see other new things on my website - there's a new magic charm -
'A Hawthorn Faery Token' on the 'Spells and Charms' page.
And - a new page all about the Magic of the Hawthorn Tree - on my Ogham Tree pages.

 

***      Also ... most importantly, the combined Wildlife Trusts need your help  .......***...
"We need to put pressure on the UK, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh Governments to create well managed network of Marine Protect Areas and give the UK’s marine wildlife the protection it so urgently needs. We need to demonstrate the importance of healthy and well protected seas – that can continue to support the demands we place on them."

             ***       Please look at the new information available on their website, and if possible, sign the petition  .....***

 

 

 

 

    July 15th 2011
        .....  Tonight is the full moon of July ...... 

      Full Moon tonight - give thanks to The Lady of the Greenwood - the Goddess - and let's hope it's a cloudless one. 

Jessie Willcox Smith - 'Gazing at the Moon' 1916
'Gazing at the Moon' by Jessie Willcox Smith
from 'The Water Babies' - frist pub. 1916

 
   The Moon is in Capricorn
and as it's July 15th it is the Ogham Holly Moon.

  Other traditions tell us that it could be the Hay Moon, Summer Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon or the Buck Moon. In China it will be the Hungry Ghost Moon, in Hindu India the Guru Poornima.. The original Inuit name for the Moon at this time of year is Padlersersivik.

  Variegated HollySo, take your choice! The fae tend to favour the Ogham names - so for me Holly Moon it is, but the names Hay Moon and Mead Moon are also British.

  Tonight - as the Moon rises, or later in the moon light - (after asking, and giving a little gift or some help to the tree), cut yourself a Full-Moon Holly Wand. The tree is masculine, and the spines give it a reputation as a powerful protector - it's also an enhancer of dreams!
  
    Workings to do with careers or any practical matters
will be favoured tonight as the Moon is in Capricorn, if possible using a black or dark candle.  (You might like to learn more about the Magic of the Holly Tree here on my site).

 

 


    July 21st 2011
          .....  The Heron and I   ...........

     Just been learning and making again - only what I want to learn of course, though every little helps!  These Stella Fae Levels and Inquests will never end I reckon - after all you know, some poor woodland and hedge faeries never make Stellas at all. Muddypond Green - hedge faery - with the Willow Heron ©vcsinden2011


    Ah well - willow it is for faerie-makes - and I must learn to it use well, so I made another visit to crafts teacher Alan  (see Diary Blog entry for May 19th here and find out about his brilliant AJS Rural Crafts courses on my links page here)

     This time it was a sculpture rather than a basket, and I chose a heron. Here she is at the end of the day, talking to me in the barn.

   Herons - unfathomable birds. The great poet Longfellow describes their thoughts and song as 'mystical' in his poem 
'The Herons of Elmwood' : (Click here to read whole poem)

"Sing him the mystical Song of the Heron,
And the secret that baffles our utmost seeking;
For only a sound of lament we discern,
And cannot interpret the words you are speaking."


   She's made from Willow (old name Saille) and Hazel (old name Coll)  - both magical Ogham woods of course or what would be the use of them to me?

   My local Levels Inquisitor Burnt Sienna Brown - who, between you and me, is definitely getting on a bit - wouldn't even bother to look at a heron made from a non-ogham material - even if the sweet bird CAN talk!

 The wonderful illustration on the left is by Maud Miller Hoffmaster, and comes from the book "Nee-nah, The Wild Flower's Good Fairy" published by The William Frederick Press in 1949.

 

Gazing out of the schoolroom door
Willow heron with my beloved Ed Org original drawing
Willow sculpture pupil Holly, concentrating on the random weave, watched over by Joe the dog.
Gazing out of the school room door, only to see the cows in the rain, gazing curiously back.
Heron and things.
The opium pipes come from my travels in Nagaland (nr Burma) and the drawing is my beloved Ed Org original - 'The Enchantment'.

   
* If you enjoy faery art,
you might also like 'On the Snail Trail'  new on my WolfMoons and Muddypond Green blog .

 

 

 

 

    July 27th 2011
   Only a week or so left to join in the Big Butterfly Count ...  please help ...

 It's no secret that butterflies and faeries are linked.  It's not just because of their wings, or their love of nectar - but their outlook on life. Sadly, unlike us magics, buterflies are desparately short-lived. 

   Here are some of my favourite faery-tale butterfly pictures - there are so many to choose from, but these are from my favourite artists of times past .

'The Butterfly Ferry' - ida Rentoul Outhwaite
from 'The Fairy Book' - Tom Thumb - Warwick Goble
'The Butterfly Ferry'
Ida Rentoul Outhwaite  1921
'The butterfly took wing, and mounted into the air
with little Tom Thumb on his back'
Warwick Goble  'The Fairy Book' 1913

Richard Doyle 'In Fairyland' The Butterflies 

  
They both chose blue butterflies
, perhaps they knew even then that the Large Blue would become the most endangered species of all!

  The artist Richard Doyle, painting 50 years earlier in the late 19th century, was acknowledged by many later artists as their inspiration - the picture on the right is from William Allingham's 'In Fairyland, or Pictures from the Elf World', illustrated by Doyle and first published in 1870.

 

   The sight of tray after tray in drawer after drawer of sad Edwardian butterfly bodies, stuck with pins has always sent shivers down a faery spine - and now thank goodness we have made our feelings known to the villagers. It doesn't happen much any more - and as so many butterfly species become scarcer across our world, we find we must take some action.

 The wonderful pieces of art below show that feeling so very well -- freedom - flight - escape ....both with clouds of butterflies making their escape from cases and book pages, back into life and rebirth ...

Edmund Dulac - 'The Entomologist's Dream'
Su Blackwell - paper-cut artist extraordinaire - 'Hope'

'The Entomoligist's Dream'
Edmund Dulac from 'Le Papillon Rouge'  1909
can be seen at the V&A, London

'Hope'
from the brilliant contempoaray artist
Su Blackwell - link to her website here
Photo by Lacey

   Here's something easy and fun that you can do to help - if you haven't already had a go, please join in the Big Butterfly Count - just 15 minutes in your garden or a park, an allotment or a meadow in the sunshine. The count is being mapped (you can check counts in your area) and findings being analysed country-wide.
See Sir David Attenborough making the appeal here ..

Big butterfly Count - UK 2011 banner
Click image to go to The Butterfly Count Website -
where you can download an identification chart and submit your count.

    

 

 

 

 


   Three kindly posed
for me to take their pictures during my late afternoon count .....

british butterflies - Red Admiral  ©vcsinden2011
Small white on the apple tree
british butterflies - Peacock ©vcsinden2011
Red Admiral
Small White
Peacock

 

 

 

 

      August 3rd 2011
            .... A Scrapbook of Favourites - from the weekend's fantastic Cambridge Folk Festival  ......

Port isaac's Fisherman's Friends at the 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival ©vcsinden2011

Richard Thompson sings a song from 'Dream Attic' live at the 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival ©vcsinden2011
Click picture to watch great video footage of the guys singing my favourite
'No Hopers and Rogues'

Richard Thompson
Star of the Show!!!  Just phenomenal!
12 / 10

  Richard Thompson's latest album was recorded live on tour in USA - it is called  'Dream Attic' and you can buy it here

Cambridge Folk Festival 2011 - beautiful camping ©vcsinden2011

  Such a lovely setting for a festival - camping under the trees. Lucky with the weather too, but then us faeiries often are!

 There were quite a few of us in attendance it seemed - the owners of this tent for a start - it wasn't mine - I preferred the hollow trees - very homely!

katzenjammer at the 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival ©vcsinden2011
Katzenjammer - incredibly crazy - multi-talented - exciting - exhilerating - band from Norway !
Fairy Muddypond Green learns a Molly dance with Gog Magog Molly at the Cambridge Folk Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
Cambridge Folk Festival - accordion player from Gog Magog Molly ©vcsinden2011
Faery Muddypond Green - learning a Molly Dance with East-anglian dance group   'Gog Magog Molly'
Spiers and Boden join Saltfishforty at the Cambridge Folk Festival 2011 ©vcsinden
Brilliant -   Spiers and Boden   join with   Saltfishforty     - we loved this even more than Bellowhead!
Kate Rusby - live at Cambridge Folk Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
Cambridge Folk Festival - waggle dance
Kate Rusby - delightful as always
                                                 Wanna-be  BEES  learning the Waggle Dance
Danu - irish Folk Band at the Cambridge Folk festival 2011
Traditional Irish band Danú - loved them too - their new album 'Seanchas' is available to buy here on their website.
The most amazing bodhran playing ever from Donnchadh Gough!!!!

                   See more about 'Katzenjammer' and faery art - new on my WolfMoons and Muddypond Green blog .

 

 

 

    August 10th 2011  
           ...... Surprises in the post-box, connections - and a flight of dragons   .......
            (The Ogham wood for making magic has changed - it is now Hazel (Coll) - 5th August - 1st September )

      Back then - in the 20th century - nearly thirty years ago to be honest, but to a faery that's just a blink away - there are distant memories of an animated film of dragons - and of course, being about dragons, I was fascinated.  I believe that the film wasn't very well known - not like the huge distribution movies of the time - but those who saw it didn't forget.

  Just catch a bar or two of the music, and if you saw it - you will remember ........  at the time I didn't know that the title song was sung by Don McLean ........... here - catch a glimpse - do you remember too?




 

... 

'There was a time
Between the waning age of enchantment
And the dawning age of logic,
When Dragons flew the skies -
Free and unencumbered ....'
The Flight of Dargons - Muddypond's promotional badge

Wayne Anderson Artwork

    

   So where's the 'connection' ? 

   What I also didn't appreciate at the time - was that all the original art work for that film - from the design of each character, to every background - was the work of one of my very favourite artists - Wayne Anderson.

I simply can't imagine how long it all must have taken before being sent off to Japan as the basis for the animation, even if some of the drawings had featured in the wonderfully illustrated original book 'Flight of the Dragons' by Peter Dickinson, pub Harper-Collins 1979.

  Please see my Links page - Faery and Folk Artists for lots more about Wayne Anderson and his work 


Wayne Anderson DragonWhen asking him for permission to use one or two downloads of his paintings on my faery website, I was thrilled to receive this drawing (at left) - which I copy here for you - the first of my surprises by post!  Diolla llė Mr Anderson :-)

Pictures above © wayne_anderson - used here with his kind permission


 

          

    And - as if that wasn't enough - another piece of gorgeous art work arrived - this one done in coloured pencils.

'Nancy's Faery'  by Nancy!

    Nancy's faery has a costume of the most delicate blossom pink, fading away into swirling mists of stars. I think she must be a fully-qualified 'Stella Fae', for only those can emit glimmering stars!   (You might like to read a bit more about those faeries here in my 'Note about 21st Century Fairies')   

Muddypond Green can only sigh and dream of wearing clothes like these - sadly pink doesn't suit her - and the dress would get soooo dirty working in the woods!

 

 

 

 

  

     August 12th 2011  
             ...... The full moon of August - a reminder for tomorrow ..........

A postcard from the 'Little Elves' series
by Phlo - published by J.Salmon

    Tomorrow night (Saturday 13th) our Moon will be full, and hopefully bright.

     Time to pick a switch of Hazel - Coll to make a powerful wand to keep.

  The Moon is in Aquarius and the ruling planet is Uranus.
As with all the full moons, it has many namings - most used in the UK is The Grain Moon.

  In China it's the Harvest Moon (our Harvest moon is later, in October). Also known as Lightening Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Days Moon. It is the Hindu Poornima Narali. 

  This night, or any over the next two or three days will be good ones for working magic about friendships or blessings for the benefit of friends.

  If you'd like to make a ritual, lay ripe stems of wheat or any grain, young green hazel nuts with a few fresh flowers of the season - borage would be my choice as its colour is exactly right for this moon's workings. Sweet peas and sunflowers have a close association with friendship.

    Use your hazel wand to make a circle of protection and concentration about you under the moonlight.
Burn a candle to focus your intentions, a bright blue if you have one, if not, a white one for the Lady of the Greenwood.

  Think of your friends - well-wish and give thanks for them. You might also want to ask for the blessing of finding new friendships at this time.

 

 

 

 

  August 23rd 2011  
    
'Painting with light' - Marc Chagal's legacy in glass for Sarah and for Kent ...........

Marc Chagal, stained glass window in All Saints, Tudely, Kent, UK
Marc Chagal, stained glass window in All Saints, Tudely, Kent, UK
Three single windows continuing the story below, showing a series of angels, sea, fish and birds.

All magics, and perhaps especially the faery tribes, have a passion for colour and light. This one has been meaning to visit the plain and solid little church of All Saints in the village of Tudely near Tonbridge in Kent for a long while.

Tudely Village - All Saints Church
It comes as a surprise to many a Kent dweller, that we have an ancient church, full of the work of Russian born French artist Marc Chagal!

During the second half of his long life, Chagal became more and more fascinated with the properties of stained glass - 'Painting with light' as he called it.

The work has a sad story behind it, as it was comissioned by a mother and father who had lost their beloved daughter Sarah in a boating accident out between Dungeness and Rye when she was only twenty-one.

 

Her life had been steeped in art from a young age, and she'd been dazzled by designs for some window designs by Chagal, on display in the Louvre, when she visited Paris with her mother.

Marc Chagal, stained glass for Sarah - main window in All Saints, Tudely, Kent, UK
The main window, showing Sarah's death in the sea

The first and largest window - which many say is one of his very finest art works, was installed in 1967. Seen here on the left, it shows poor Sarah in the sea, surrounded by mourners. As the window rises up, we can see Sarah on a red horse of happiness, about to ascend a ladder to the heavens where angels wait for her.

When Chagal saw the beauty of the simple stone setting, and the quality of the light shining and changing as the hours went by, he agreed to design the other eleven windows for the church.

The Ass by Marc Chagal, stained glass window in All Saints, Tudely, Kent, UKFifteen years were to go by as he worked on the glass at his Rheims studio, and the final window wasn't installed until 1985, the year of Chagal's death.

The ass - search for him in Marc Chagal's stained glass windows in All Saints, Tudely, Kent, UKSeveral of the windows feature a cheeky little ass - apparently a symbol of luck to Chagal. You have to search for him!

In spite of the tragedy that inspired its conception, the whole church bathed in coloured light is an amazing work of art - the final windows have yellow and golden tones to wash you in sunlight as you leave. What a memorial!

Find out how to visit the church, and read the story of the windows in full here at the Tudely Church website.

If you too are entranced by the colour blue, you might like to read the Rose Fyleman poem 'The Faeries Give Thanks' with 'Magical Garden Blue's, over on the Ecoenchantments Blog Spot.

 

 

 

 

  September 7th 2011  
     ..... Down in the Greenwood'ho - in The Forest of Dean ......

The Forest of Dean Puzzlewood-©vcsinden2011

  At times, it's necessary for a Wood Guardian Fae like Muddypond here, to visit a wood or forest that's not her old, familiar place. 

Muddypond Green - visits the Forest of Dean ©vcsinden2011It may or may not have a resident Faery of its own to keep her eye on it., but either way it's all part of our eternal learning process.

  So it was that I travelled to the Welsh Borders and the extraordinary Forest of Dean.

  There've been many, many magical carryings on in parts of this forest I understand - horses led by villagers armed with bows such as the faeries themselves use - one even dressed as Merlin would you believe?

   I'd like to have seen that - it's very easy to imagine, sitting here admirimg my boots with the early autumn sun filtering through the beech leaves.

Tree roots in The Forest of Dean ©vcsinden2011

    This part of the forest is nothing like my little hazel, pine and chestnut wood at home. The paths twist and turn, up and down amongst sheer, moss covered rock formations where vast oaks, yews and beeches cling, their roots squirming down, ever-seeking, into the dark earth. There are limestone caverns beneath, and the remains of Roman iron-ore workings which have gradually been eroded and pushed upwards over the centuries.

Slippery steps in the magical Forest of Dean ©vcsinden2011
Fairy Muddypond Green battles with the ROOTS!©vcsinden2011
     In fact - if I wasn't already a Wood Guardian, I think I might've found this place - with its slippery, dank steps and deep holes a bit - erm - well - frightening?  But - I changed into my boots after being attacked by the "whatever it was" in the picture above - took out this month's wand (bramble) and behaved with the courage that befits a would-be Stella Fae.

  Didn't stay though - after the sun had set .............

(All pictures above taken in 'Puzzlewood' Gloucestershire and ©vcsinden2011)

**  Early September - one of the best times of year for hedgerow fruits - **
New on my 'Hedgerow Cooking' page
Damson and Ginger Chutney       Plain Crab Apple Jelly        Potted Crab Apple, Red Chili and Garlic Fruit Cheese

More about Crab Apple Trees over on my blog

 

 

 

 

  September 14th 2011
       
.......   The Stones and Henge of Avebury - another faery cathedral .........

Avebury, Wiltshire - Unesco World Heritage Site © vcsinden2011          

Avebury Stone Circle © vcsinden2011
Avebury Stone Circle - looking North  © vcsinden2011

   Now I know I've told you before - and I make no apology for mentioning it again - magics - and in particular the wood and hedgerow fae - have cathedrals. They are the megalithic stone circles and rows, scattered over our land, once surrounded by great forests - and we'll go a long way to visit them.  In fact - we must visit them - it's a part of our faery ancestral heritage, and another level in the dreaded Stella Fae inquest!

Avebury - arial view - Telegraph
Aerial Photo - The Telegraph  (Photo: Alamy)

 
Saying that
probably sounds to you like P G Wodehouse's Madeline Bassett, telling Bertie that the stars are 'God's daisy chains'   BUT - I assure you that it's true.

   I won't attempt a geography lesson, since you can always find better information elsewhere - but this is what I saw - and walked around.

  A giant circular henge (earthworks dug to make a deep ditch and high bank) - with much remaining of  a four-hundred metre diameter circle of vast sarsen stones and more inside -then two avenues of stone rows, leading away over the hills - pointing the way to further megalithic sites.

Avebury Village, Wiltshire © vcsinden2011
Avebury Village © vcsinden2011
Imagine the views from these windows on a full moon (left)              - and the village among the stones (right)


   The Devil's Chair - Avebury © vcsinden2011I was told before I searched Wiltshire, that a road runs through the centre of this giant henge, - the largest stone circle in the mortal world - and a whole village has grown up over the centuries - but I didn't believe that such a thing could be so.  Well - it is!

 Many of the sarsen stones are massive - weighing in at up to forty tons and four metres in height.

  The stone on the right is called 'The Devil's Chair' - here being sat on and protected by an elf in a mac and faery guardian Martin.
If you fly or run around it one hundred times on a moonlit night, you may summon supernatural beings.

 Not with Dog Martin there you won't!

 

Avebury Stone Circle © vcsinden2011
Avebury Sarcen Stones © vcsinden2011

   If you find the faery cathedrals interesting, you might like to see other visits of mine - related in my Diary Blog :
                     November 25th 2009      Fairy Travels to standing stones in Donegal, Ireland .......
                    
November 30th 2010      Merrivale rows  - out there on the Devon moors ......
                     June 6th and June 21st 2011      Irish Stones, circles, tombs and faery ancestors in Cork  .......

September Moon Kat

Also - a NEW page here on my website all about  
'The Naming of Moons'
If you wonder where your CAT has got to - you can consult my Cat Moon Calendar and you will see that mid September is the 'Late Mousing Moon' !

 

 

 

     September 22nd 2011
           .....  
More ancient stones - this time the turn of abbeys, monasteries and masons  .......Bridgetown Abbey, Castletownroche ©vcsinden2011

  Fairy Muddypond Green at bridgetown Abbey, Cork, Ireland ©vcsinden2011 Two strange, grey and cold abbeys I have vistited this year - both built in the 12th century, both added to over the next four hundred years. One dedicated for nuns the other for monks. Before my time all that - Muddypond is a young fae (don't ask her age even so) - but ancestors whisper still about their time in the kitchens, the cloisters and the herb gardens.
   Who do you think led them to the cures and care-purgers of old? Who left them clues for plantings and collectings, tinctures and incenses if it wasn't us magics? Bridgetown Abbey, Castletownroche ©vcsinden2011

   This first is in Ireland   Bridgetown Abbey Priory, Castletownroche in County Cork.  (You can see lots more about my doings in Cork in my DiaryBlog page for May-June this year).

  The abbey was deserted in the 16th century, the monks fleeing for safety when King Henry V111 of England made his 'dissolution of the monasteries' act. Us fae have to learn these things too! Parts of it are still in good order and it's been used for special burials for hundreds of years. I am glad we just fade.

  I saw it on an ashen day which was threatening rain, and you can see from the flash above that I found it quite an atmospheric place, even in full morning light.

 

   Lacock Abbey Cloisters ©vcsinden2011The second is Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. Just the same kind of day - silvery light and low clouds full of drizzle. The first stone was laid in 1232, dedicated to a community of nuns by Lady Ela, Countess of Salisbury on her widowhood, where she became its first Abbess.   

   Most of this great building has survived
in tact.  At the dissolution, King Henry gave the land to a friend. Instead of demolishing the oldest parts, he built over them - so we have the great cloister walk just as it would have been centuries ago. If it looks familiar, you might recognise the cloisters and white-arched cellar chambers in scenes from films in the Harry Potter series.

The iron pot at Lacock Abbey ©vcsinden2011
Lacock Village  ©vcsinden2011
   No, not left over from Harry Potter - this is a vast 15th century iron cooking pot, used by the nuns in their warming room.  
A village street - Lacock in Wiltshire.
Faery Muddypond Green at Lacock Abbey, showing visitors the cloisters  ©vcsinden2011
 
Look, out here ! Imagine it in the snow, with a freezing fountain in the centre.
That's how they used it in Harry Potter - not so many faeries I know - but plenty of magic!
So very cold for the nuns who walked here - no wonder they needed their one warm room. - the crackling and spitting of the heavy logs, the bubbling of the great, black pot must have been magic indeed for them.

 

 


 

     September 28th 2011
        ..... 
Just because  .....   a blending and a transcending with faery shades ......

   Looking through some flashes taken at Nymans gardens in Sussex last week to send off to the old Storm Dragon, Muddypond was struck by the soft and strange colour-washes worn by the autumn hydrangeas. They reminded her of something.

Faery colour harmony study1 ©vcsinden2011
Faery colour harmony study2 ©vcsinden2011

     The more she stared the more she was sure she'd seen something very like them. Hmmm.  Ah yes! The light reflected from huge stained glass windows splashed across floors, pillars and walls of a small church in Baden-Baden, Germany. Took loads of flashes of those she did - simply drowning in pools of mystical colour.

Faery colour harmony study3 ©vcsinden2011
Faery colour harmony study4 ©vcsinden2011

  Looking beyond the woods for some faery stones to add to her collection - what should she see but just those odd tints again! So here they are - the three together - hydrangeas, reflections from stained glass and gem stones - a little natural colour therapy!

Faery colour harmony study5 ©vcsinden2011
Faery colour harmony study6 ©vcsinden2011

 Flashes : 
Reflected light - taken at the “Stiftskirche" the old market square, Baden-Baden.
Hydrangeas - taken at 'Nymans' National Trust Gardens
Natural gem stones - all for sale at Etsy Shop - Gemstone Beads, direct from India

 

 

 

      October 3rd 2011 
       
.....   It CAN'T be time for that Morris Meet at Tenterden already   ..... can it? .....
                         (The Ogham wood for magical use has changed and is now Gort - Ivy - September 30th - October 27th)

Royal Liberty Morris from Hornchurch in Essex with the Bull mascot and a crazy hooden horse
 
Royal Liberty Morris, from Hornchurch in Essex watch nervously as a Kentish Hooden annoys their Black Bull!

     
      So quickly it comes around - this Mad Merry Meet for Mortals
- which the wood and hedgerow fae now understand as a "Folk Festival".
All around the little town they go, dancing, singing, playing their strange instruments - and it was HOT out there - 30°, no wonder a lot of Kentish Ale was flowing.

Kentish Hooden Horses at Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
Franke the Gambler  at Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
Two Hooden Horses romp in the park
Band  "Frankie the Gambler" with young admirer

    
There were pretty girls in ribbons and petticoats (what us faeries covet - and will even steal when we can!) called the Morena Slovak Dancers   Old Storm, my Lithuanian Dragon friend would've loved them I bet!   The dark men too were here - ragged and feathered, reminding me of a flock of guardian crows.

Morena Slovak Dancers at Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
The Morena Slovak Dancers - a lovely contrast to the Morris sides.
Hunters Moon Morris at Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
Muddypond's faves - "Hunters Moon" from Sussex - here again and stylish as ever



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                       

 

       Luke Jackson ©vcsinden2011Then, there was the One to Watch! 
I must tell you about this young singer -songwriter. I don't think it'll be the last we see of HIM!  A self-confessed follower of the great Richard Thompson, this young one - not much more than a sprig really - made the weekend memorable.

  His name is Luke Jackson, accompanying his fine voice with a fabulously accomplished guitar style in the lazy afternoon marquee.
Now there's one I'll look out for that's for sure. As a matter of fact I think he has to be a changeling!

  Click on the CD to go to Luke's website and listen to 'Run & Hide'.

 

 

Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
 Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011
 
The end of a long, hot 'n tiring Saturday!  Bring' em some ale someone do!

Kentish Ale at Tenterden Festival 2011 ©vcsinden2011

   You might also like to read about some faery plants - the Bryonys and Nightshades, new here on my Blog pages.

 

 

 

     October 12th 2011
        
  .....   Full Moon it is  .......      Illustration by Elizabeth Mary Watt

    An October full moon - and she rides in Aries. Call her perhaps The Blood Moon, The Ivy Moon, The Chestnut Moon? See more on my Naming of Moons page here.  As you wish - but celebrate her tonight. Light a white candle for The Lady, perhaps a red one too representing the fighting energy and hunting spirit of the Blood Moon - decorate with strands of ivy from the hedgerow.
Use cinnamon in your incense, and a spicy, nutty cake with apple juice for your libations. Sounds nice and autumnal that!

   Ask permission to pick a piece of twisted Ivy to make an Ogham wand tonight - or use willow which is always right for a full moon celebration.

    Ivy clinging to a Hawthorne tree vcsThe moon's zenith this month indicates energy, leadership and courage and its combination with Ivy lends strength and tenacity. Any workings towards goals with those powers in mind should do well. New ventures in sport and health for example.

   The illustration is called 'Moon Fairies' and is by artist Elizabeth Mary Watt c1921


*    At last I've finished another 'Ogham Tree' page - this time
  Quert - The Apple.  Too many legends to tell even there.
  Click here to go to the Apple page.

*   You might also like to try Muddypond's treat for Autumn - Kentish Cobnut and Apple Cake
 new here on my Cooky page.


*    It's time to think seriously about the plight of our rapidly declining hedgehog population. See more - new -on my   'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog'.

Fuzzypeg - Margaret Tempest
Illustration by Margaret Tempest
from 'Fuzzypeg Goes to School' by Alison Uttlley.

 

 

 

     October 18th 2011
       
.... The faeries' tailors  and the elven clothes  ... stitching, felting, cobbling, knitting, decorating

'The Fairy Tailor's Workshop' - Arthur Rackham
'The Fairy Tailor's Workshop' - Arthur Rackham
Look carefully at the tiny garments and cottons,
I'm sure they're making a top just like the one here......

 

 

'Sitting on the flower-bed beneath the hollyhocks,
I spied the tiny tailor who makes the faeries' frocks;
There he sat a-stitching all the afternoon
And sang a little ditty to a quaint wee tune:

"Grey for the goblins, blue for the elves,
Brown for the little gnomes that live by themselves,
White for the pixies that dance upon the green-
But where shall I find me a robe for the Queen?"
'


Extract from 'The Fairy Tailor' by Rose Fyleman
From 'The Fairy Flute' - Methuen 1921

  


    Muddypond has some horse-tail thread, and the hedges are full of fluffy old-man's-beard just now. Think I'll try to stitch something after my own fashion a bit like some of these - inspired for all good fae by the autumn leaves and sunlight. I have sloe spines for pins, and a tiny bird bone for a needle. A teasel brush should rough up the felt.

     I've searched these gorgeous things out for you meanwhile, so that you can go shopping - I think they make the most dreamlike outfit.  Try them on, if you're a bit chilly, wrap up in the shawl, then perhaps wander down and show me your finery. Meet me at the betwixt and between time, by my clearing in Hurst Wood.

Technodolly - Wood Wlfin top in olive
Lizet Frijters - art shawls
Eco-dyed felted & knitted gypsy shawl from  Lizet Frtjters
Wood Elfin top - custom made for you by Technodolly  - UK
Felted arm warmers from Galafilc RoseiLovesMakinThings - 'Ode to Poe' chemise shirt
Czech crystal glass bracelets
Two 'Fairy garden' Czech crystal bracelets from jUNIQUE4U
Hand dyed ribbons from abbyandellie
Felted fingerless gloves from  Galafilc
Hand-dyed ribbon from abbyandellie
 
'Ode to Poe' chiffon blouse from  RosieLovesMakinThings
Alienskin faery long skirt in olive and brown layers
Autumnal  scarf, necklace from Allmadewithlove
Crochet / knit freeform scarf or necklace from    Allmadewithlove
'Sylviabirch' triple layer skirt from    Alienskin
 
Ultimate Faery shoes from Pendragon
'Titania' high leaf autumn boot with curled cast-iron toe  from Pendragon

  If you enjoy 'faery' shopping, you might like the things on my page from March - April this year - have a look at the entries for March 2nd and April 11th.

 

 

 

 

 

      October 31st 2011
         ..... Samhain .....  Winter's Eve ...... The Eve of All Hallows ...

Crown Prince Squash ©vcsinden2011

 

♪  "Hex and hag and crone and bell,
        Bless this cauldron and stir it well ....."
  ♫

   Hectic days are these for the Magics - and tonight, as the Northern lands slip again into the Dark Side, and the veils of betwixt and between lift for an instant, nothing you villagers can prepare or perform will keep the shadows out - so take care what you wish for!  

If you make your own herbal burning incense, you might like my Samhain Incense recipe - as it appeared for Oct 30th last year.

 

My besom broom ©vcsinden2011 'Broom-clamp'  AJS Rural Crafts ©vcsinden2011
AJS Rural Crafts - working on the shave horses ©vcsinden2011

  First this faery went on a learning - to make a besom broom.

  It's not only you witches who use them you know? A Wood Guardian fae often needs to sweep and clean!

  Anyway - needless to say making a good, strong besom is one of the levels on the Stella-Fae Interrogations - so it's a must for Muddypond Green - and it is all made from Ogham Tree woods.

  I learned that the besom must be made from a male and a female wood if it's to be used by a Magic.

  The brush part, the head, is made from Birch scrub. Birch (female) is very twiggy, so really fine for catching leaves and such-like in the sweeping.

 Squah ©vcsinden2011The handle's a knobbly branch of Hazel - a masculine wood. My friends chose to use the shave-horses to take off the bark. Mine stayed natural. There was a special tool (above) called a 'broom-clamp', to pull the twigs in tight whilst binding with split Willow withies.

  The 'Make a Besom Broom' course was with Alan at AJS Rural Crafts in Kent  - see also my Links Page.

 

Nigel Sahw and Carolyn Hillyer at Petham, Kent ©vcsinden2011

    Squas - Cornell's Bush Delicata ©vcsinden2011Next came a spectacularly magical evening, a Samhain Harvest supper and concert by Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer, in the pretty village of Petham. Their inspirational music comes from a deep love of the earth and ancestors and from unbelievable journeys and travels to see for themselves.

  You can read more about their music on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog page.

       Here's the Samhain Harvest Supper Menu for ideas

 Thai spiced Pumpkin Soup
 Filou pastry parcel of Butternut Squash with olives, nuts and shallots
Three salads - Quinoa with pomegranate seeds,
Green salad and Raw Carrot with pine kernels.

 Apple, Pear and Nut Cake with creamy yoghurt.

Magnificent!    So delicious - many, many thanks.

Squash ©vcsinden2011Buttercup squahes ©vcsinden2011

 

  
A wickedly traditional Samhain event
to entertain your faery sprigs is held every year at Godinton House..

  Sweet, old fashioned games, pumpkin lantern making to take home, spidery treasure hunts in the grounds, conker stringing, willow stars wands - and - exciting Ghost Stories read in the cellars!  Lots of different pumpkins to buy for decoration and cooking.



Samhain celebrations - fresh cut lanterns ©vcsinden2011 Spider treasure hunt at Godinton House, Kent ©vcsinden2011
 
Fresh cut Pumpkin lanterns - Debbie's family and friends take their Samhain seriously!
 
'Eye of Toad'  -  follow the spiders all over the park to find the treasure clues. Mind the lake!
Lovely games for everyone -
arm deep in the pumpkin for a
prize from the 'Lucky Dip'!

 

 

 

    October 31st 2011
        
 ....     later - nearly the witching hour .....         

    There were faces on the wall, lining the path to the forgotten chapel and the wood, grinning and fierce.

  I'm certain that I caught a glimpse, just for a moment, of My Lord of the Greenwood, staring intently at the Bale Fire. By the time I got closer, he was gone.

  You might like to see a little sample of the artwork of Shona M MacDonald -
new on my Folk and Fairy Artists Links Page.

Just a quick note to say that this fae is off to India for a little - think of her on full moon night- November 10th - watching the Moon of the Wild Hunt, by the Ganges at Varanasi and the festival of Kartik Purnima.

        And, by the way - there's a new squash recipe on the Hedgerow Cooking page - Buttercup Squash with Cashew and Olive Stuffing.  ALSO - Plz take care not to frighten any Magics and creatures around about where you are with those firework-bang things that you like so much at this time of year!

 

 

 

 

       November 22nd 2011
             
.....  travel weary, home and happy - the Dev Deepawali Festival at Varanasi ...

    Early morning on the day of the Dev Deepawali festival, November 10th, India and my aarti lamps float down river. I've just spent two days in Delhi, and travelled on an overnight train to get here the day before full moon and my wings are a bit crumpled to say the least.

 Now I'm in an old rowing boat, so quiet - just the plash of the oars as the sun rises. I am watching while in Varansi, the steps (ghats) leading along the Ganga Maati begin to fill with mortals – each waiting for a turn to bathe in the great holy river.Varanasi- sunrise on the Ganges ©vcsinden2011

 
  As the sun rises, young and old, Hindus and Jains flock to the water to take a ritual bath,  gaining sacred karma on the day of the November full moon.  

Ganga Maati- river Goddess
photo from exoticindia.com

 

  Nearly fully dressed they step down into the water and face the pink dawn, reciting a mantra or a prayer, pouring streams over bowed heads or dipping below the glistening surface.

 



The river is a Goddess, here seated on her crocodile, a flask of Ganges water in her top left hand.

 

Varanasi_a family prepares for dawn bathing on the day of the November full moon and Dev Dewali ©vcsinden2011

Varanasi ©vcsinden2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   Here a family are readying themselves with prayer and preparing their aarti lamps, which are floated on the river as a tribute even in the soft dawn light.

On the left, tourists gaze at the buildings rising from the ghats and a cow meanders, searching the left-overs as the light gets stronger. When the river is in full flood it rises dramatically, so the jumble of temples, hotels and palaces are built high above the stepsVaranasi_6am-ritual bathing in the Ganges at November full moon, the Kartik Purnima ©vcsinden2011

   6 am and the crowds get thicker -  a holy day, a celebration with lots to look forward to later when darkness falls.
In the picture below bright rows of saris, salwar kameez and shawls drip and dry, draped over bamboo scaffolding and railings.

Varanasi_saris drying after morning ritual bathe ©vcsinden2011

Varanasi-dawn bathing at Kartik Purnima - full moon ©vcsinden2011

It's believed that the water of the Ganges is divine, that it has the power to purify and wash away sins.

Later, as the sun begins to set, the ghats and river will come alive with jostling boats, aarti lamps by the million, strings and strings of marigolds and under the full moon - more ritual - but that's another story - to be told very soon!

You might enjoy a little musing about 'The Puppeteers of Khajaraho',
New on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blogspot
.

 

 


 

   November 25th 2011
               .......    from the Full Moon Festival at Varanasi on Nov 10th  ....

         (The Ogham wood for magic has changed now to Ruis  (Elder) November 25th - December 22nd)

     
                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                     

November Full Moon - the Indian Kartik Purnima - famously celebrated in Varanasi.

  When the sunrise of this auspicious day is long over (see entry below) and the sun disappears below the horizon, the thousands upon thousands of tiny oil-filled lamps, which have been set out along the length of the ghats and terraces - are lit.
It is the day that the Hindu Gods came to the Earth, and they are worshipped with fire.Full moon ceremony  Dev Diwali at Varanasi on the Ganges 2011©vcsinden2011

  Unimaginable numbers (lakhs) of mortals throng and jostle along the waterfront.
It's a celebration, and us Magics love a celebration, especially if it has anything to do with fire!
Hundreds of boats are hired - old steamers for big parties - row boats and old wooden Indian boats of all sizes take to the great mother Ganga for the finest views.Full moon ceremony  Dev Diwali at Varanasi on the Ganges 2011©vcsinden2011

The Times of India reported  - "Amidst sounds of sacred vedic mantras, glittering fire crackers and millions of diyas (earthen lamps), the ancient ghats of the city came alive on Dev Deepawali on Thursday. The festival is celebrated on Kartik Purnima."

Varanasi - full moon night November ©vcsinden2011

  A very important part of the night is the Ganga Aarti ceremony, the priests facing the river, following a rhythmic chanting of mantra and drum. Blessing the Ganga with balletic movement and bells, aarti fire lamps made up of miniature brass oil dishes on a frame, incense burners and beads.

Ganga Aarti ceremony Varanasi ©vcsinden2011
Ganga Aarti ceremony Varanasi ©vcsinden2011

    Amongst the crowds, the fireworks, boats and excitement, people find space for personal prayers and devotions, lighting tiny lamp after lamp at the water's edge, sending their hopes with them down river. As it has been done since time unknown.

The maidens lean them over
The waters, side by side,
And shun each other's deepening eyes,
And gaze adown the tide;
For each within a little boat
A little lamp hath put,
And heaped for freight some lily's weight     
Or scarlet rose half shut.
The river floweth on.

Of shell of cocoa carven
Each little boat is made;
Each carries a lamp, and carries a flower,
And carries a hope unsaid;
And when the boat hath carried the lamp
Unquenched till out of sight,
The maiden is sure that love will endure;
But love will fail with light.
The river floweth on.

Verses 3 & 4 from Elizabeth Barret Browning's ballad "A Romance of the Ganges" 1838

Dev Diwali at Varanasi - girls send their hopes and players with the oil lamps down the Ganges©vcsinden2011

Unforgettable!

 

 

 


      December 5th 2011 
          
  ..... Hurst Wood Musings .......

   Here is me, idling through my woods,  Hurst Wood, having been away a little while. Just the scent of it reminds me how lucky a Wood Warden faery I am, to be living in this magical place. Even if it can be pretty lonely at times - Magics are rare in these parts as you know.   Fairy Muddypond thinking Winter thoughts in Hurst Wood ©vcsinden2011
  You see travelling is wonderful, with all the sights and sounds so different and so extraordinary - but there really IS nothing like being back by the fallen oak, among the mist, the wet leaves and the bare hazel branches. 

It's very different to this time last year. Thick snow had already fallen, and the earth was brittle, glittering with long nights of frost.

 Now - oddly warm days. Plants and creatures have been confused into believing it's a second Autumn.

Fungi - unknown species in December Hurst Wood, Charing  ©vcsinden2011

Warm weather for early winter has brought a new flush of alluring fungi to the woods.

  Poisonous to mortals. The fairy mushroom - Fly Agaric was out in force in Hurst Wood today.

Shaggy Ink Caps - Coprimus Comatus, in Hurst Wood, Charing ©vcsinden2011
Faery Ring for Dark Elves ©vcsinden2011
A stand of young Coprinus Comatus, or the Shaggy Ink Cap
under the young Hurst Wood birches

At the bottom of neighbourhood bank I found a Faery Circle which must have been used by Dark Elves!

    It seems strange to see entirely fresh, green bracken ferns, growing amongst the faded brown in December. Did you know that if you slice a small piece of thick stem straight across,just above the root, you may find an initial?  In medieval folklore, witches were averse to the touch of bracken because the letters revealed often had religious connotations.

"When the fern is as high as a spoon,
You may sleep an hour at noon;
When the fern is as high as a ladle,
You may sleep as long as you're able;
When the fern begins to look red
The milk is good with brown bread."


An old proverb, mentioned in Folkard's
'Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics' 1884

Bracken and Hazel - magical plants, still colourful in December, Hurst Wood, Charing ©vcsinden2011

    To finish my homecoming inspection of the woodlands, I checked that the dormice hadn't woken up. I was a bit worried about them in this warm weather - thinking they wouldn't get enough winter beauty sleep, but there they were, curled into tights balls in their hazel-leaf and straw nest, just beside the old Spindle Tree. But I won't show you exactly where!

Spindle berries in December sunshine - Hurst Wood, Charing ©vcsinden2011
Rene Cloke - 'The Spindle Tree Fairies'

Spindle Tree berries in this afternoon's sunshine. Hurst Wood, Charing.

'The Spindle Tree Fairies' - postcard illustration by Rene Cloke 1920

You might enjoy a little more about the spindle tree - 'Bright Talisman of Inspiration',
New on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blogspot

 

 

     

     December 10th 2011
     
...... Elder Moon - the thirteenth full moon, brilliant over the bare woods .....    

Muddypond took this picture earlier, as the Moon was rising behind some oaks.
So very bright, I think It will be frosty later!

  The thirteenth full moon on the year is the time of the Elder tree. Nights are long, earth is cold, trees are bare. The associations with the number, and with the tree are those of ill-luck, and in ancient times of sacrifice.

   The old name of ‘Mourning Moon’ and the Chinese ‘Bitter Moon’ are not given without reason! This moon  is in Gemini and a good time for communication, and there will be a partial eclipse, but unless you are far, far in the North, you won’t see it.

   Full moon celebrations tonight might use bare twigs as decoration, with a black candle as an aid to concentration and deep red wine, spiced and warmed..

   If you’re cutting wood for an elder wand, remember to thank the tree with some act of care – do not take from the elder lightly, only if you need the wand and mean to use it.
  
   Hold the wand in the light of the moon and it may bring you inspiration for tasks unfinished or yet to start.
If you have the ingredients for a herbal  incense, mix a little frankincense with a few dried and crushed elder berries and a pinch of sandalwood.

More about the Ogham Elder Tree and its magic and folklore here on my website. More about full moon names here.

 

   

 

       December 19th 2011
         
.....  Mistletoe, Auctions, Holly and even MORE Mistletoe .....  

     A few days ago, Muddypond - me that is - went off on a Mistletoe enterprise. An adventure in Worcestershire.

  It's not long now before 'The day of a year and a Day', 'Mistletoe Day' - that will be on Friday (23rd). (Read lots more about this on my 'Mistletoe page')

   AND there's so much to do getting ready for Yule on 21st - Winter Solstice celebrations need plenty of preparation if they're for sharing!

  So - off I went to see the Tenbury Mistletoe and Holly Auction!  Something this faery's promised herself for a long, long time, but it's two hundred miles from my wood.

  Anyway - here I am, buying mistletoe to deck the fire-clearing for the Solstice party.

  The auctions at Tenbury are famous.
(See more about the auction days here on my site). There are three on consecutive Tuesdays in the lead up to Winter Solstice. Mistletoe grows in abundance in that part of the country (West Midlands) and the farmers bunch it into huge swathes and each big bundle is sold to the highest bidder.The auctioneers move quickly down the rows, you need to be on your toes!

Bright Holly at the Tenbury Auctions ©vcsinden2011
  Buyers picking out the holly bundles that they like best, and listening eagerly to the prices. Customers arrive from all over England, and even Europe to find the very best of the winter evergreens.

   When you're only used to seeing a sprig or two hanging up for decorations, or a single white-berried ball standing out among the bare winter branches of an apple tree, the sight of hundreds of bundles, all neatly tucked into rows is quite astonishing!

Tenbury Mistletoe Auctions - happy people loading up to go home ©vcsinden2011
Mistletoe rows at the Tenbury Mistletoe and Holly Auctions 2011 ©vcsinden2011
 

Some happy customers, all loaded up and heading home after buying from the long rows - so much to choose from!

Below - a whole apple orchard covered in mistletoe, seen growing on the way home, still in Worcestershire.

Mistletoe in the apple orchards, Worcestershire, England ©vcsinden2011

    Don't forget to read more about Mistletoe day - 23rd December here on my website. Buying fresh mistletoe or want to know more about the auctions?  Follow this link to my Tenbury Auction page and this one to 'The English Mistletoe Company' website.

 

 

 

       December 22nd 2011
                             
..... Winter Solstice - back to the light ..... 

 

Far away, beyond any place where mortals meet - a place where I cannot take you -
The Stone Circle - a beloved and a faery place for midnight.

 


     December 31st 2011
                 
.....  'In comes I'  with the end of year folly!
                                      Laughter and beer and plenty of holly!    .....

                    (The Ogham wood for magic has changed now to Beith  (Birch) - December 24th - January 20th)

medieval manuscript showing Mummers with their musician - a Bodleian manuscript  

If ever proof were needed that the mortal folks of Britain are quite, quite insane, then the old tradition of 'Mumming'
or 'The Mummer's Play' has to be it!

Woodchurch Morris Men after the Mummers Play 2011 at the Red Lion, Charing Heath vcs
Much needed beer is on tap for the 'after performance' notes
in The Red Lion at Charing Heath.

    The plays, performed in rhyming couplets with all male casts around Winter Solstice and the end of year time, were taken from mansion to hall to castle in return for some warming ale and a few pennies.

  Nowadays they rove into pubs on a dark winter's night, and play for the same (although in modern times, it has to be said that they are usually collecting for a charity).

  the Woodchurch Morris Men, Mummers Play 2011- vcs Always a routine formula, with a villain to be killed and then restored to moral victory by the Doctor with his bottle of herbal elycampane root, a hero, a love interest, and various other motley characters.

 They can tell any tale that the Mummers wish - as here in a vengeful and very risque - (this faery had to cover her very sensitive ears at times) - telling of Cleopatra.  The oldest ones were all about the Knights of the Crusades and St. George - I did miss the dragon!

   These days, the players are very likely to be troops of Morris or Molly dancers obviously wondering how to fill the dark winter months!

'Then in comes I, both short and small,
I am come to see and save you all,
Clap your hands together,
And sing "God Save the King",
Clap your hands together,
And let all your voices ring.'
 
Illustration of a traditional Mummer's play from the Illustrated Times 1855

The Woodchurch Morris Men, Mummers Play 2011 - vcs
 
'In Comes I'  The Woodchurch Morris Men
Celebrating Yuletide with a play - every now and then!