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♫     A favourite song - for new beginnings
From Iron and Wine
on the album 'The Shepherd's Dog'  2007 ♫

'Resurrection Fern' - Iron and Wine

(Opens in a new window - minimize & listen while you browse The Faery Year)

 

 

  January 4th 2012  
  
      Surprising things all around us, even in the dark days and new year gloom ......
 

Katherine Wigglesworth illustration from 'Snug and Serena meet a Queen' pub. W. Heinemann 1950

Illustration by Katherine Wigglesworth
from 'Snug and Serena meet the Queen'
pub. Heinemann 1950

      First, may I say 'Winya Yen Saivalinllie'  or a very 'Happy New Year to all.' The mouse offers you a glass of Evermead, which he prepared with me last Mid Summer's day - it's a kind of liquid sunshine!

   Highland cattle on the common, Hothfield, January 2012 ©vcsinden2012 If you're feeling a bit jaded after all the Yuletide festivities, Muddypond here hopes you'll be able to find peaceful time, all to yourself.  Hedgerow faeries are passionate about 'me time', and love nothing more than a walk through their wood, onto the common or along the beach.

  Since new year, I've been out and about looking for 'faery founds' to make winter magic and done all three of those. Good time now for thinking - for taking stock.

    It's not far from Muddypond's wood to the common, with an ever-changing landscape all of its own. Much of it is wetland, the rich, black mud and boggy ponds playing host to all sorts of creatures. there are some big ones too!

   A herd of friendly Highland Cattle keep the slopes in order. This flash shows some of them looking very tranquil among the birch tree silhouettes - and as you know, now's the Ogham time of the Birch. This will be a fine place to find a Birch wand on full moon night!  (Next Monday - Jan 9th)    Fairy Muddypond in the 'Forgotten Orchard' ©vcsinden2012

 

    
    Gnark, the old quarry gnome
took this 'flash' of me, looking a bit nervous as I explored a part of the nearby wood which I call 'The Forgotten Orchard'. It's a lonely and ancient place, full of gnarled apple trees and tangled hawthorns. Old cottage chimneys still stand, tho mortals fled long ago.

   Late afternoon on New Year's day (in the mortal world) who can resist a forage on a cold, sunny beach if they can get there. The sea-salt smell, the sound of the breaking waves and suck of the pebbles, the sharp air - all the best clearing tonic that I know - apart from a glass of Evermead that is!
   

Hythe Beach, January sunset ©vcsinden2012
A fisherman at sunset, Hythe beach, where I was looking for hagstones on New Year's Day.

If you like 'faery art'. you may enjoy 'Rain, rain go away',
New on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blogspot

 

 

 

     January 9th 2012  
  
      A little full moon magick  ......
 silver birch wishes ...

Birch, Beith wishes at Full Moon ©vcsinden2012

Today the full moon shines.The Wolf Moon, Moon after Yule, Birch Moon, call her what you will - she is the moon of new beginnings.

  There are quite a few charms and spells which are uniquely linked to the Birch tree, you can find them on my Ogham Beith (Birch) page..... One of them I simply had to put in place tonight ....

   Take a fresh piece of silver birch bark and a small, strong twig or two. Light a white candle and char the end of a twig in the flame for a minute. Use the black, sooty charcoal to write a wish on the bark. Birch soot onto birch bark under a birch full moon. Keep it safe, and the charm may work for you.

Here's my wish, outside in the darkness. As it's always unlucky to tell a wish, I've smudged the wish line gently so that it can't be read by prying eyes!

 

 

 

    January 17th 2012  
  
      Recipe for a fine Wassail 
....... for all with an Apple Orchard, or just an apple tree  .....

'The Wassail Bowl' engraving by G H Edwards

*  Take one Apple Orchard (to be Blessed)
*  One Twelth Night (old or new - Jan 6th/17th)
*   One fine Barn (to dance in)
*   Gallons of hot Mulled Cider (to enjoy)
2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
3 blades of mace
4 cloves
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 ginger root
4 apples
4 oz. of sugar
1/2 pint of brown ale
1/2 pint of cider

The Gloucester Wassail Bowl from The Illustrated London News 1846
Engraving from 1885
by G.H.Edwards
The ingredients for a 17th Century Wassail Cup
'The Gloucester Wassail Bowl'
made from apple wood
from Illustrated London News Jan 1846

Wassail Bowl made from Copper ©vcsinden2012

          Take also:

*    One Wassail Bowl (to share, and from which to soak the roots of a chosen apple tree)

Wassail_Middle Farm, Sussex 2012*    Lashings of Traditional Morris / Molly Dancers (to make merry)

*    Masses of   Wassail Cake, cider soaked, (to share with the trees)

     *    Loaves of  Cider Soaked Toast (to hang in the trees, attracting the wrens and the robins)

     *    A group of   Scottish Pipers (to pipe us to the orchard) 

    *     Many, many Flaming Torches (to light us on our way)

     *    A red and black faced Drumming Band  (to drum up the fire)    

Torch Procession, Hunters Moon Wassail ©vcsinden2012
Eastbourne Scottish Pipers Band, Middle Farm Wassail, Sussex ©vcsinden2012

*     One Leader of the Ceremonies (to make the blessing and raise the Wassail Cheer)
*     An optional Apple King or Queen  ( the one to find a bean baked into the cake)
*     Pots and Pans to bang or LOUD Fireworks  (to frighten malicious spirits out of the orchard)
*     One Huge Balefire  (to bring warmth and light)The Wassail Fire at Middle Farm Wassail Jan 14th ©vcsinden2012

 

Also needed :

* A Wassail Song
(to sing before the Blessing)
The one on the right
is from Carhampton in Somerset
.

* A Ceilidh Band
(to hold the dance together)


   'Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Till apples come another year.
For to bear well, and to bloom well
So merry let us be,
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple tree!
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls and three bushel bagsful
And a little heap under the stairs.' 

The Celidh after the Hunters Moon Wassail, Jan 14th 2012 ©vcsinden2012

Faery Muddypond Green watching the Wassail Fire ©vcsinden2012

                
               And last, but most definitely not the least:

*    A flock of Friends and Loved Ones (to share the mulled cider!)

*    A scarce and peace-seeking Woodland Faery (to add Magick to your Apple Blessings)

   This last is difficult to come by, but if a Magick hears of a fine Wassail, however small or grand, they will do their utmost to creep in, unbeknownst to the Apple Tree owners. They love nothing better than a great fire and the blessing of trees, but don't like crowds of people!

This Wassail, held in Sussex on Jan 14th 2012, was organised by Hunters Moon Morris.

                                ____________________

 Read about the magic and myth of the Apple Tree on my Ogham Apple Page.

NEW:  At last - I have finished some research on
Blackthorn - the Ruler of the Dark Side of the Year.


 

  You might also be interested in   Hushaby Street - dreams and hibernation for dark January days ..... 
New today on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog.

 

 

 

        January 24th 2012  
  
      Snowdrop days are just around the corner - here are some Kentish dates for your diary
  ....
             (The Ogham wood for magic has changed now to Luis (Rowan) - January 21st - February 17th)

Snowdrop walks in Kent


The best snowdrop display that I have seen, and all for free (except for the car park), is near Hythe at Brockhill Country Park. Snowdrops carpet the banks of the lake and stream and make for a wonderful walk. There is even a little cafe, for lovely light lunches and teas. 
Open every day from 9.00am until dusk. (see some pictures on my DiaryBlog entry Feb 9th 2011)

The ever popular 'Snowdrop Teas' at the remote country church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian near Challock near Ashford, take place in February. It's also interesting to see the beautiful murals, particularly the Millenium Mural painted by John Ward.
Sunday 12th and Sunday 19th February from 2.00 - 5.00pm. (see some pictures on my DiaryBlog entry Feb 28th 2010)

The Hardy Plant Society bring rare snowdrops and hellebores for sale to Goodnestone Park, less than 10 miles from Canterbury. Here vast swathes of snowdrops spread under the bare trees of the avenue, making a perfect early spring walk. The cafe will be open for refreshments.
Sunday 19th February from 11.00am - 4.00pm  (see some pictures on my DiaryBlog entry Feb 24th 2011)

St. Mary's Church, Hinxhill, around 3 miles from Ashford - has a churchyard full of snowdrops in February, which may be enjoyed at any time.

The Hever Castle 'Snowdrop Trail'
will be open for family exploring every day during half-term week - including children's spring workshops and story telling from Monday 13th.
Saturday 11th - Sunday 19th February 2012  from 10.30am to last admissions at 4.00pm

A special Snowdrop Walk, in aid of The Pilgrim's Hospice (donation required). has again been arranged at Swarling Manor, Petham (nr Canterbury). Refreshments and home made cakes available.
Sunday 19th February 2012 from 11.00am - 3.00pm

Snowdrops Dante Gabriel Rossetti - fairy flowers
  Southover Garden and nearby Hunton Church, near Sutton Valence, will welcome snowdrop visitors for their annual snowdrop event. Cost £2.00 for Southover (for the National Gardens Scheme) for one day only.
Friday 17th February 2012 from 11.00am - 4.00pm

Chilham Castle Gardens are open for one day only, for a special glimpse of the snowdrops in their extensive grounds
Sunday 26th February 2012  from 11.00am - 3.00pm

Blanzifiore - Snowdrops
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1873

kentish Snowdrop Days Mere House, Mereworth, approx. 7 miles from Tonbridge and famous for the extensive snowdrop plantings and winter walks will be open for the National Gardens Scheme - £3.50. Homemade teas available.
Sundays 19th and 26th February from 2.00pm - 5.00pm

Broadview Gardens, Hadlow College, 4 miles from Tonbridge, houses the National Collection of hellebores in its 10 acre grounds as well as many species of snowdrops. £3.00.  Open from 10.00am - 5.00pm  Guided tours will be available 11.00am  and 2.00pm.
Thursday 16th February 2012

Spring Platt. Sutton Valence  near Maidstone, has 300 varieties of snowdrops to be seen, as well as home made soup and teas. £3.50 for the National Gardens Scheme. 12.00pm - 4.00pm
Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th February 2012   .   Friday 17th February 2012

Nymans, West Sussex - not so far away, between Haywards Heath and Crawley! A National Trust property with a bulb meadow simply full of snowdrops! Gardens, plant centre, shop and restaurant are all open daily, Jan - Feb.. (House closed) - Open daily 10.00am - 4..00pm

_________________________________________

 **  There is a new link on my 'Favourites' page - wonderful jewellery, hand carved from Scottish reclaimed tree wood, bog oak and amber -  do take a look at Geoff King's 'Woodland Treasures.'   For any of us magics, or even for mortals, in the south of UK, you will be able to see 'Woodland Treasures' at the Kent College, Canterbury 'Craft in Focus' show and exhibition in April 2012. **

 

 

    January 31st 2012  
  
      Imbolc for hedgerow faeries, reeds and the Oare Marshes
....      

Oare Marshes looking towards Sheppey on a cold January day ©vcsinden2012
The old ferry point, at the sea edge of the marshes, looking towards the Isle of Sheppey on a cold January day


 So here we are, today is the Brigid's Eve, and tomorrow is the festival of Imbolc,
or in Gaelic, Oiche Fheil Bhrighide
                      You can see how to plait a Brigid's Cross, and learn more about her here on my website.   Bridget's Cross made at Imbolc with reeds ©vcsinden2012

   
   The half-way point between Winter Solstice and Oestre - the coming of spring. Traditionally, today is the time to plait a special Brigid or Bridget's Cross, made from reeds. This will hang by the hearth until it is replaced with next year's offering.

  Yesterday this fae set off with her basket and cutters to collect reeds down on the bleak Oare Marshes. Kent never ceases to amaze me with its varied landscapes!

   The marshes are protected by the Kent Wildlife Trust, and a very special place to see species after species of water bird and wader out and about on its flat sea-shore, leading back to the watery landscape of drainage canal and pools.

 

Oare Marshes - reeds and canals in January ©vcsinden2012
The Oare Marshes in Kent. Reeds a plenty to be gathered
accompanied by the plaintive calls of the water birds
Oare Marshes, Kent on a cold January day ©vcsinden2012

      Brigid Basket for Imbolc ©vcsinden2012

     Imbolc is a time to give thanks for the strengthening light as the days noticeably begin to lengthen. A time for clearing and cleansing rituals, for real house cleaning and for thinking about aims for the year that still lies ahead. (see too my diaryblog entry for Jan 31st 2011  and Feb 1st 2010)

    Among the symbols for Brigid's Day (Feb 1st) and the Christian Candlemas (Feb 2nd) are snowdrops, milk, lambs, all things yellow and white (candles, ribbons, flowers) and the Ogham tree rowan.

  Now, I have my cross, made from the Oare Marsh reeds, and today I made ready a simple basket, with snowdrops from the garden, candles, moss and for the 'cakes and ale' - oaty star biscuits with fresh lemon.

   Easy to make - simply equal parts plain flour, old fashioned oats and sugar with the grated zest of two fresh lemons - mixed with gently melted butter, honey and juice of the lemons. You need to form into a dough, which can be rolled and cut to shape. Muddypond favours magickal stars.

 

   You might also be interested in   " For St.Brigid's Day and Imbolc - how the first snowdrop became."
New today on my Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog.

 

 

 

 

   February 7th 2012  
  
      And then came the snow .....
 

                  

         So deep and so quick - and so very, bitterly cold. The snow fell all night, soft and silent, and when this faery emerged from the hollow oak - there it was, inches and inches deep and not a footstep to be seen - not even fox. To start with!

    As faery rumours have it, 2012 will be a tremendous year for sports - so Muddypond thought you should see a modern faery pass-time. It's called Tree-leaping. Might even be a future winter medal sport.

  Tree-leaping involves flying to a high and worthy pine tree and waiting quietly. If any unwary, wingless creatures pass below, this small gaggle of gnomes for example - LEAP!   

    Here my flash of the sport - taken by remote control on the Drax machine, shows me, leaping from the highest branch of the Guardian Pine at the edge of my clearing in Hurst wood.

   You can always open up the wings a bit so as not to squash them completely. Fun what?

 

   Tonight is the night of Full Moon, the Rowan or Icicle Moon will cast her moon bridge over the snow. Let's get away from 21st century fae and our wicked games. We might celebrate with a favourite poem and some stunning wintery art from a more decorous age!

'the Fairy in Winter' Dorothy Lathrop


The Fairy in Winter

by Walter De La Mare
from the book Down A-down Derry

(1)
Here was a Fairy flake of winter
Who, when the snow came, whispering, Silence,
Sister crystal to crystal sighing,
Making of meadow argent palace,
Night a star-sown solitude,
Cried 'neath her frozen eaves, ' I burn here ! '

 

 

Illustration from Down A-down Derry - Dorothy Lathrop 1922

 

(2)
Wings diaphanous, beating bee-like,
Wand within fingers, locks enspangled,
Icicle foot, lip sharp as scarlet,
She lifted her eyes in her pitch-black hollow
Green as stalks of weeds in water
Breathed : stirred.



Painting-  'Heart of Snow'
Edward Robert Hughes c1908

 

'heart of Snow' Edward Robert Hughes
Alphonse Mucha 1917

(3)

Rilled from her heart the ichor, coursing,
Flamed and awoke her slumbering magic.
Softlier than moth's her pinions trembled ;
Out into blackness, light-like, she flittered,
Leaving her hollow cold, forsaken,
In air, o'er crystal, rang twangling night-wind
Bare, rimed pine- woods murmured lament

 

Painting-  'A Winter Tale'
Alphonse Mucha  1917

.

 

   

 

 

     February 10th 2012  
  
                      Footprints .....

Busy snow footprints ©vcsinden2012

  Late this afternoon, in sunny but clear and still freezing weather, walking beyond the wood to the meadow,
I could plainly see that some of my friends had been romping in the snow ............

Illustration by Ernest Aris
from 'Mother's Story Book'
pub Platt & Monk Company. Inc  1912
Snow footprints - fox
Snow footprints - rabbit
Snow footprints - bird
Snow footprints- rat

   These look to me like Fox, Young Rabbit, a large, un-named bird and Ratty. Then there were the footsteps in the picture below - who this heavy-footed fellow might have been I can't think.   Perhaps you have your own ideas.

           Snow footprints - unknown animal ©vcsinden2012

 

 

 

 

      February 21st 2012  
  
                    Icelandic wanderings and thoughts of William Morris ....

   (The Ogham wood for magic has changed now to Nion (Ash)  - February 18th - March 17th)

                 Walking towards the glacier - on the journey South to Vik

    It wasn't until I visited the first exhibition to be held at the magnificent 2 Temple Place, London quite recently - 'William Morris: Story, Memory, Myth', that this 'at-times-very-ignorant fae' realised the long love affair that Morris had with Iceland; with its language, its Eddas and Sagas and later with the sheer stunning beauty of the country itself.

   Muddypond couldn't describe what she saw this last week or so, but William Morris could ! Didn't tell you I was off on faery-explorations again now did I...... ?  Too late - whistle, blink - and I am home!

  In this poem, Morris blends a depiction of his journey with thoughts of Queen Frigg's saga, found in the Poetic Edda. Frigg battles to bring her son Baldur the Beautiful back from death.  (Read more about this legend on my 'Mistletoe' Ogham page.)

Iceland - sun through the clouds at Þingvellir ©vcsinden2012

                                    A view over the National Park district of Þingvellir

 

Iceland First Seen
(First two verses)

Lo, from our loitering ship a new land at last to be seen;

Toothed rocks down the side of the firth on the east guard a weary wide lea,

And black slope the hillsides above, striped adown with their desolate green:

And a peak rises up on the west from the meeting of cloud and of sea,

Foursquare from base unto point like the building of Gods that have been,

The last of that waste of the mountains all cloud-wreathed and snow-flecked and grey,

And bright with the dawn that began just now,  at the ending of day.

Muddypond Green, faery in Iceland ©vcsinden2012 

                                        Muddypond, looking over the steaming, bubbling springs at Geysir - and below 'Strokkur' errupts
Iceland - Strokkur geysir Feb 2012 ©vcsinden2012
Ah! what came we forth for to see that our hearts are so hot with desire?

Is it enough for our rest, the sight of this desolate strand,

And the mountain-waste voiceless as death but for winds that may sleep not nor tire?

Why do we long to wend forth through the length and breadth of a land,

Dreadful with grinding of ice, and record of scarce hidden fire,

But that there 'mid the grey grassy dales sore scarred by the ruining streams

Lives the tale of the Northland of old and the undying glory of dreams?

William Morris

 

iceland - rock formations on the way to Vik at Reynisdrangar ©vcsinden2012

                                         Basalt rock formations, rough seas, sea stacks and black sand at Reynisdrangar

Iceland - the power of Gullfloss ©vcsinden2012

                                   The mighty power of the Gullfoss waterfalls                                              

Iceland - Blue Lagoon on a snow stormy day ©vcsinden2012

    Perfect temperature in the natural waters of the Blue Lagoon, even in a snow storm!
And the Icelandic ponies? Well, they don't seem to mind the weather.

Iceland - hardy ponies in the frozen landscape ©vcsinden2012


You might also like to browse 'Skating on thick ice - from Iceland'  new
here on my Wolf Moons Blog

   

Also celebrating the
'Ice Theme'
New on my Hedgerow Crafts page -
beautiful   'Ice Candle Lanterns'

 

 

 

 

    March 2nd 2012  
  
         Of Reykjavik, 'The Ring Symphony' and returning for Rammstein .......
            

Two extraordinary musical events for this woodland fae, in the space of two weeks! 
First, at the end of my Icelandic journey (see more here in Feb diary).
Walking down through sleet to Reykjavic harbour, the lights were blazing from the new Concert Hall - a sculpture of geometric glass.
Lord of the Rings Symphony - Harpa Concert Hall - Iceland Harpa Concert Hall - home of The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra ©vcsinden2012
 

    And inside?  The eagerly awaited 'Lord of the Rings Symphony'.   Three huge choirs and the full Icelandic Symphony Orchestra to play the beautiful score by Howard Shore.  This was all pulled together with the famous Lord of the Rings art work by Alan Lee and John Howe, shown on a giant screen above the choirs.

The Lord of the Rings Symphony in Iceland ©vcsinden2012

Muddypond's picture of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Choirs Feb 17th 2012

Frodo-Alan Lee
Black Rider by John Howe

Image above 'Frodo' by Alan Lee.
Not part of the symphony artwork, but included because I think it is just sooo beautiful!

Image right - 'Black Rider' by John Howe

Alan Lee - 'The Company'
'The Company'  by Alan Lee

  It was a truly magickal night, and I was very lucky indeed to hear a live performance.
You might like to listen to a taster -  the first section after the Prologue is called   'The Shire'

Rammstein - 02 London -Feb 24th ©vcsinden2012

 Then came London - and 02 Arena  - and a sell-out gig for the mad metal goth rockers from Germany - Rammstein.
So, you may well enquire, fairies appreciate 'mad metal goth rockers' do they?
  Indeed so!

Rammstein - 02 London Feb 4th 2012 ©vcsinden2012
Rammstein - head-banging sound surounded by ecstatic fans

Rammstein hey? Hmm - and WHY do they make you think of 'The Lord of the Rings' exactly Ms. Green?

Well. don't they look like the worst of the Orcs of Mordor to you??

Mordor - John Rowe
 
'In Mordor' by John Howe
Eowyn versus the Nazgul - Alan Lee

Image on the left -
'Eowyn Versus the Black Nazgul'
Image on the right -
'The Horses of the Ring Wraiths'  

by Alan Lee

Ring-wraith Horses
Til Lindeman of Rammstein at the 02 in London - sings 'Engel' Feb 2012 ©vcsinden2012
Til Lindeman - Rammstein lead vocalist and pyrotechnic maniac performs 'Engel' with his trademark wings outstretched!



If you like fairy illustration, you might enjoy 'Of Spring-cleaning and sunset streaks .... '
New today (March 5th) at the 'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green' blog.

 

 

 


    March 12th 2012
  
  
         Spring skies - under an English heaven ....
    Violets on the Neighbourhood Bank, Hurst Wood, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2012 

Spring Quiet

Christina Rossetti

Gone were but the Winter,
Come were but the Spring,
I would go to a covert
Where the birds sing;

Where in the whitethorn
Singeth a thrush,
And a robin sings
In the holly-bush.

Full of fresh scents
Are the budding boughs
Arching high over
A cool green house:

Full of sweet scents,
And whispering air
Which sayeth softly:
"We spread no snare;

"Here dwell in safety,
Here dwell alone,
With a clear stream
And a mossy stone.

"Here the sun shineth
Most shadily;
Here is heard an echo
Of the far sea,
Though far off it be."

Hunton Churchyard withe the snowdrops in bloom ©vcsinden2012
Snowdrops and primroses in the churchyard at Hunton, Kent -
taken on one of Muddypond's many faery snowdrop walks - early March 2012
Primroses, early blooms on the bank ©vcsinden2012
Postcard by Molly Brett Dark violets, sweetly scented ©vcsinden2012
Exquisite Medici Society postcard c1940 by Molly Brett
Violets (& above) today on the Neighbourhood Bank
Ferns unfurling in the spring at Hurst Wood, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2012 Blackthorn blossom ©vcsinden2012 Hazel catkins dance ©vcsinden2012

Blue skies and sunshine, tempting the ferns to unfurl, the blackthorn to blossom and the hazel catkins to drop their clouds of pollen
as the spring bumbles and butterflies journey by.     You can see more pictures of 'Neighbourhood Bank' here

 

You may also like 'Of Spring lambs and Mr. Blake ...'  new at the 'Wolf Moons & Muddypond Green' blog

 

 

 


    March 25th 2012  
  
         Coldrum - the truth ... from a hedgerow faery's perspective ...
              (The Ogham wood for magic is now Fearn (Alder) - March 18th - April 14th)

     Here in Kent, a county which is a lot more rural and wooded than many people think - stand the remains of a neolothic longbarrow - named Coldrum. This name, it's thought, originated from the Cornish word 'Galdrum' - meaning - 'Place of Enchantments'. (You will see - whichever human worked this out was RIGHT!) 

     Muddypond's pictures of Coldrum were taken for last week's Spring Equinox, and summer 2011.

Coldrum, Kent, spring equinox ©vcsinden2012

 
  The dolmen still stands near the top of its mound, bare now of the earth and grass that would have covered it - and its roof stone has fallen. Once, it was surrounded and guarded by huge standing sarcen stones, but like the dolmen itself, these have either fallen or begun to slide down the hill.

  My faery-ancestors (the dwarf branch of the family in particular) must have seen it as it was - only a few generations ago. A huge grassy mound, surrounded by a rounded square of over forty upright sarcen stones.

 

  Coldrum was said to be a chamber tomb for mortals, and of course yes, the bones of at least twenty-two of them were found here. But us magics, we know better! We know that all those thousands of years ago, they only borrowed it!

   The cromlech remains an enchanted and remote spot, a peaceful place for contemplation, as it has been for over 4000 years. Once a communal burial place, it was merrily ravaged, of course, by parties of mortals from the past, calling themselves antiquarians, archaeologists or simply treasure seekers.

Coldrum - megalithic long barrow in Kent, ©vcsinden2012
Coldrum megalithic long barrow, North Kent ©vcsinden2011
Digging barrows in 1854
From the book of Thomas Wright Esq. M.A, F.S.A
'The Wanderings of an Antiquary' 1854

    
   Thomas Wright Esq. who wrote a book about his exploits
, visited here around 1850. On the right is his own sketch of his party having fun with a chamber mound that used to stand in the hills nearby.

“Proceeding from the circle at Coldrum,  towards the east, we observed single stones, of the same kind and colossal magnitude, scattered over the fields for some distance;  and it is a tradition of the peasantry that a continuous line of such stones ran from Coldrum  direct along the valley to the hill of Kits Coty House , a distance of between five and six miles.”

  For those not familiar with ancient Kent, Kits Coty House isn't a house but a vast megalithic tomb. I will show it to you another day!   

Illustration from Hermann Vogel's extraordinary
'Kinder- und Hausmärchen gesammelt durch die
Brüder Grimm' 1910

 

As far as us Magics go, I need to tell you that we have no fond rembrances of many a Victorian 'intrepid explorer'!
Not only did they practically wipe out the earth's tiger population with their guns and unbelievable greed, but they indiscriminately dug and wrecked the charmed places of my ancestors - our Faery Cathedrals.

 Here on the left, you can see an ancient picture, sketched by my dwarfish cousin 317 times removed, of the moment when one of the Magics found the lost chambers of Coldrum.

  Things have improved in the 21st century - long may it last!
Nowadays, people can feel that the stones are sacred - and they tie little offerings to the 'clouty' tree nearby.


Coldrum and the clouty wishes ©vcsinden2012

The top of the burial chamber, viewed from behind the giant beech 'clouty' tree with its offerings and wishes.

   Now please don't forget - should you ever visit this enchanted place - you simply borrowed it from us!
The PROOF is below - you see - just one of my dwarf ancestors with his artefacts,
buried here when he faded, thousands of years ago!

From his book 'L'univers de Nains' by contempoary artist Guillermo Gonzalez

 

 

 

   March 29th 2012
            Just two little things -


  First - over on the Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green blogspot, you might be interested in
  'Snip Snip Snap! Hans Andersen and the work of Four Contemporary Paper-cut Artists
' in storytelling.

  Also - the barn owls are
thinking about nesting
over on the Barn Owl Trust 'Barncam' and 'Nestcam'. During the day they're spending most of their time
roosting and preening each
other in the nest box -
live Webcam -do have a look! 
(Click pictures to view)

Barn Owl Trust live webcams link

Update - 2nd April -
oh do look -
the pair have
two beautiful eggs!

Update - 7th April - Four eggs !!

 

 


     April 2nd 2012

          The enchanted art of Paul Kidby - and his faery kingdom ....  

                      
            

                         Here is a little treat for all lovers of faery art and of 'Discworld' alike.
Did you know that Sir Terry Pratchett's illustrator of choice for the last ten years - Paul Kidby
- can also imagine, draw and paint us fae?
Oh yes he can!
Did I say imagine?  Hmm - actually I think he's seen a few of us somewhere in that New Forest of his!

The video above is from Paul's publishing house - Daniel Maghen - and shows enough to make us long to see the whole book. The book is filled with  'Fėes, lutins et crėatures fantastiques' and was written with his wife Vanessa.
It's seriously lovely - called 'Le Royaume Enchante' and it can be bought here.

See more about the art of Paul Kidby here on my Links page.

From 'Le Royaume Enchante' by Paul Kidby
From 'Le Royaume Enchante' by Paul Kidby
 
Four faery Illustrations from '‘Le Royaume Enchanté’ by Paul Kidby
From 'Le Royaume Enchante' by Paul Kidby
From 'Le Royaume Enchante' by Paul Kidby

    Below is a piece of Paul's possibly more familiar art work - from 'Discworld', showing the disc itself - which of course sits atop four elephants who in turn balance on the turtle Great A'Tuin. Not such an easy vision to portray!

Paul Kidby - Discworld illustration

pictures© paul_kidby and used here with his kind permission

 

 

April 6th 2012
          The
night of the full alder-moon ....... and wishing you an egg-filled easter ...

  Muddypond's cone dragons discover an egg under the alder moon ©vcsinden2012

Tonight - under the light of the full moon - the Alder Moon - or as the faere-folk call it - 'The Waking Wood Moon', Muddypond's ConeDragons- (soon to feature here on the Hedgerow Crafts page)- discoverd a treasure-trove for Easer.
They've carried it off home, and are saving it to eat on Easter Sunday - this being the traditional time for many mortals to give and consume special eggs, as she has explained to them. 

 

 


       April 12th 2012    .... the ConeDragons have arrived for summer ...

  If you feel like going for a spring walk, and filling a bag with pine cones and faery-founds, then you might like to see the 'Drimble of ConeDragons' that has now arrived on my  'Hedgerow Crafts'   page - at last! A great nature-crafty idea for any small sprigs you may have to entertain!
Click picture to see larger image. 


You might also like to know about  " Flowers of the faeries - the daffodil - a little magick "  new on the 'other' Ecoenchantments Blog - 'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green'

 

 


  
   
    April 16th 2012
    .... Compton Cemetery Chapel - an art nouveau masterpiece
...
  
      (The Ogham wood for magic is now Saille (Willow) - April 15th - May 12th)Compton Cemetery Chapel - Mary Watts © vcsinden 2012


Or should that be 'Mistresspiece'?  We magics know that this peaceful faery place was the design and creation of Mrs. Mary Watts (wife of painter George) at the height of the 'Arts and Crafts' movement - in the decade spaning 1894 - 1904. It was her gift to the village of Compton in Surrey.

Muddypond gazed in awe at the little chapel on the hill one day last week.

Come and take a closer look with me, but tread quietly. The building is a treasure house of celtic and spiritual symbolism.
.

  In describing her imagery Mary calls each symbol a 'Magic Key' that 'unlocks a door into a world of enchantment'. Just look at the door, and you will understand ...

  Carved in oak and chestnut, many crucifix symbols from differing traditions swirl behind a huge wrought iron cross. The bottom half shows a vanquished dragon.

Compton Cemetery Chapel - great oak door © vcsinden 2012

  The building is decorated outside with terracotta panels and intricate friezes - the largest, angels, representing Hope, Truth, Love and Light. Mary held classes for women from the village, teaching them how to make the pottery tiles, and the smaller gesso pictures for the interior.

Compton Cemetery Chapel angel panels © vcsinden 2012
Compton Cemetery Chapel art nouveau panels © vcsinden 2012
Compton Cemetery Chapel angel panels © vcsinden 2012

      Lift the latch of that oak door, and step into the cool, dim and green interior. Feel the deep magic of the place, still used for rememberance more than a century after completion. Dark art nouveau angels stand in sympathy and hope, amongst the tangles roots and branches of the Tree of Life while cherubs look down on us from their arching roof.

Compton Cemetery Chapel angel panelled interior © vcsinden 2012

Triskele- Mary Watts Chapel © vcsinden 2012 Labyrinth Altar - Mary Watts Chapel, Compton © vcsinden 2012

  

Compton Cemetery Chapel gravestone © vcsinden 2012

    This magic hopes, really hopes, that you'll find a way to make a visit to this incredible place very soon, if you have never managed it before.

Information for visitors here

 
Compton Cemetery Chapel gravestone © vcsinden 2012

      All pictures of Compton Chapel used on this page are © vcsinden 2012

 

 

    April 28th 2012  
          ...  Soon to Beltane -  The May Day - a gift that the earth has thrown us 
...
 here catch!    
Please click on the picture above to hear Jethro Tull and 'Cup of Wonder' (minimize to browse)
"For the May Day is the Great Day ..."

    The faery here will be looking forward to the May Day dawning away from her woods and familiar meadows. She will miss the bluebells, full out in Hurst Wood and the Triangle as you can see in the flash above, taken yesterday. Miss too the shy flowers that open just before the full leaf canopy of the hazels and oaks dapples the pure sunlight.

       This year, Jack in the Green will meet me in a different English county, and the Greening will be blessed in another sacred spot.

My wood is ready decorated for Beltane -   wild garlic,  primrose,  celandine,  lady's smock,  wood anenome -  just a few that were in bloom today

 
Further entries you may like for the Beltane and the Maying can be found on my wesite here:
        Entries for May 1st and May 13th 2010  here    .....     and for May 3rd 2011 here

       New for Ogham tree Calendar and Magic pages is The Scots Pine - Ailm - ruler of the 2nd day of Winter Solstice

New on the Hedgerow Cooking pages, fresh now for late spring ... Wild Garlic Raita ... here

 

 

 


   May 10th 2012
  
                  ....  It's late I know, but the Maying is still in my mind ....
.
  

May morning - beltane_ from Glastonbury Tor ©vcsinden2012

        So it was, that on Flora's Day, the May-Morn or the Dawn of Beltane - call it how you will - that Muddypond found herself on emerald-green, rain soaked grass looking out across the Somerset Levels from the Tor of Glastonbury. a better place than many to see in the May .....

   The Tor, Glastonbury - May Day morning ©vcsinden2012 Glastonbury Belltane ©vcsinden2012 It was later than the sunrise as this lay-a-bed fae met plenty of interesting mortals, walking through the high-street then toiling up the hill towards the Tor. Up past the entrancingly magical White Spring, steeper and steeper, up and onwards, resisting the urge to take to her wings!

   The night has seen torrential rain and when we all arrive at last and stand to catch our breath many of the fields below are flooded.

  Then - there they are - the Queen of the May, with her consort - a renewal of handfasting vows, singing - blessings for Flora's Day - and a stout red-and-white-ribboned maypole for us all to dance around, weaving through the lush, long grass.
               For the first time in days - the sun shone, bright and warm!

May greening - Glastonbury ©vcsinden2012
Glastonbury thorn - in blossom on May Day morning ©vcsinden2012
Handfasting - renewing the vows - Glastonbury Beltane ©vcsinden2012
 
Making ready to erect the Maypole in lucky May sunshine  -  Glastonbury Abbey Thorn, full bloom on Flora's day  -  and the Handfasting on the hill.

'And she shall be our little queen'   ...... 
Poem 'The First of May'  from 19th cent   'An Infant's Delight' - anonymous

The hawthorn blossom, snowy white,
Hangs thick upon the hedge to-day;
With many flowers the fields are bright
Upon this merry First of May.

So let us gather flowerets fair,
And blossoms from the hawthorn spray,
To deck our May-pole standing there,
Upon this merry First of May.

'And she shall be our little queen - Glastonbury May Day with faery Muddypond Green and a little freind ©vcsinden2012

And then, like fairies, in a ring,
Around it we will dance or play,
And all our gladdest songs will sing
Upon this merry First of May.

And dearest Maud shall there be seen
With crown of hawthorn blossoms gay,
And she shall be our little queen,
Upon this merry First of May.

Maypole dancing - Glastonbury Beltane celebration ©vcsinden2012 the maypole Stang - Glastonbury Tor ©vcsinden2012
 
'And then, like fairies in a ring, around it we will dance and sing - upon the first of May'

 

 

 

      May 21st 2012    
                       ....   Why the summer will not arrive ... or ... catastrophe at Clun! ....

                  (The Ogham wood for magic is now Huath (May - Hawthorn)    May 13th -  June 9th) The old bridge at Clun ©vcsinden2012


  Lying in a fold of the Shropshire hills - a long, long way from most places - is an old stone bridge.

   Around this bridge there is a village, and close to this bridge are the picturesque ruins of a moated castle.

   Upon this bridge, year on year in the May month, the Green Man battles with the Ice Queen for the supremacy of the seasons.

But - catastrophe - not this year ....

  

Clun Green Man Festival 2012 kwabana Lindsay©vcsinden2012
Clun Green Man Festival 2012 the Clun Mummers ©vcsinden2012
      There was 'Kwabana Lyndsay' - brilliant on his street tightrope. There was a play from the Clun Mummers complete with dragon.  There was vegetarian festival food. There were drummers. There was live music and fresh lemonade ........
Clun Green Man Festival 2012 - Jockey Morris take a break©vcsinden2012
Clun Green Man Festival 2012 Jack in flames ©vcsinden2012
   There were the Jockey Morris Men from Birmingham, who danced long and hard and traditionally fell into the pub. There was 'Jack the Jester'  with his fire throwing and his May-tide blessings ......

Clun Green Man Festival 2012 - the Green man arrives ©vcsinden2012

   But - alas - this year -
oh this year ... the battle proper could not take place - for the Ice Queen had sent so much rain and cold, black weather that the fields about were water-logged - there could be no Battle of the Bridge!

  At last  ... booo! ......she appeared amongst the crowds in the village street - and up the hill stalked the Green Man ...

 

Clun Green Man Festival 2012 - the Ice Queen ©vcsinden2012

    A great skirmish took place, as legend says it must - right there in the street - amidst shouts and insults and encouragement - but - horror - the Ice Queen of Winter triumphed. The poor Green Man limped away in defeat, taking warmth and spring greening with him.

          He will not be back for a span of thirteen full-moons - there will be NO SUMMER !   Oh my!     

  

                                             

                                                          

                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                   

        


  You may like to see - new on Muddypond's Blog page - Fulfilling a request from my cats ... of the faery kind

         Also -  a new link to some amazing shoemakers,
making hand made, historically accurate medieval / fairy shoes and boots - on my links page here

 

 

 

 

   May 29th 2012  
      Walking near home on an early summer's day ....
and yes! there IS summer after all ....

 near Charing, Kent - late May ©vcsinden2012

Summer Morning

The air around was trembling-bright
And full of dancing specks of light,
While butterflies were dancing too
Between the shining green and blue.
I might not watch, I might not stay,
I ran along the meadow way.

The straggling brambles caught my feet,
The clover field was, oh! so sweet;
I heard a singing in the sky,
And busy things went buzzing by;
And how it came I cannot tell,
But all the hedges sang as well.

Along the clover-field I ran
To where the little wood began,
And there I understood at last
Why I had come so far, so fast—
On every leaf of every tree
A fairy sat and smiled at me!

from 'Fairies and Chimneys' by Rose Fyleman
First published by George Duran & Co, 1920

Hawthorn in full blossom, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2012

 

Geese and goslings - near Charing, Kent

 

Muddypond Green paddles in the stream near her woods - Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2012
Louis Moe - Fuerte

How faeries keep their cool!
Muddypond follows Faery Guardian Martin up the stream.

Above: from Norwegian artist Louis Moe 1857_1945

       Early summer's days in England have a magick of their own kind. From my wood, along Shady Lane which passes 'Neighbourhood Bank' where many a little animal lives - up to say hello to the geese on the pond by the old barns - proudly showing off their NINE youngsters ! - and a paddle then a sit-down by the stream.

   The ash trees are just breaking leaf, last of all the trees hereabouts. The Mays are smothered in scented white blossom, the lane edges are awash with Queen Anne's Lace and the meadows golden with buttercups.

Ash in late May ©vcsinden2012
Shady Lane - near Charing, Kent ©vcsinden2012

 

 

 

    June 4th 2012  
           A very English jubilation ....
under a rainy English moon ....

Village roofscape - bunting for the diamond jubilee - Charing June 2012 : Photo -Gary Browne from Kentish Express

     Muddypond may be a Magick - but her faery Wood-Guardian job means she lives very near to the village of Charing in Kent. Charing is lived in by Mortals. Those mortals have a Tari (a Queen) in just the same way as we fae - her name is Tari Elizzabethe.  This week in English History for Magicks class, I learned that Tari Elizzabethe will have been Queen for sixty years - a long, long time in any human calendar.

      Later tonight, in the moonlight and hopefully without the rain - thousands of beacons and bonfires will be lit across the land. The Magicks will be watching, from walls and trees and handy high places. Here are Muddypond's faery-shopping suggestions for the event.  All hand-made - and in patriotic colours, so that we'll blend in - even under tonight's Hawthorn Full Moon.

 
Crochet choker - 'Berniolie' at Etsy
  White lace blouse - 'SomniaRomantica' at Etsy
Blue faery skirt - 'beyondclothing' at Etsy
Blue Boots - 'FairySteps'

  Hope you agree that these will make a cunning disguise for us faeries  - and Happy Birthday ElfFriend Em :-)

 


If you like to see fairy-flowers and faery-art, you might like the latest entry on the
Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog spot -
'Queen Anne's Lace - you find it growing all over the place' .....

 

 

 

     June 11th and 15th 2012     
        Muddypond's drum - for healing, meditation and all such enticing things ....
              
 (The Ogham wood for magic is now  Duir - Oak,  June 10th -    July 7th)

                                       'Without seeking the things of the Spirit, life is half lived and empty.'                    

   Two quotations (the second far below) from a book of inspiration "Grandfather" written by Tom Brown - following the spiritual ways of Stalking Wolf - Wise Man of the Apache tribe. Reading this (as part of my faery studies) made it clear to me that I needed a drum - a medicine drum - and not any old drum but one made by me - made in a way that fitted with my Ecoenchantments thinking.   

The workshop at 'Rhythm of Life' ©vcsinden2012

          So it was that I found myself deep in rural Kent at a medicine drum workshop led by Pat, creator of  'Eagle Spirit Drums'  and in a wonderful place, dedicated to sound healing, owned by Caroline and with a small group of dear mortals.

Left: In Caroline's workshop at 'The Rhythm of Life'
Below: Caroline with our teacher Pat

Teaching the medicine drum - Pat Pica ©vcsinden2012

             A drumming and prayer circle around the medicine wheel began what was to prove a truly magical day. First we made beaters from chunky hazel sticks and hide, filled with soft wool from Caroline's own jacob sheep who watched us through the fence.

Jacobs fleece for the beater of the medicine drum ©vcsinden2012 Smudging the red deer hide ©vcsinden2012
New friends collecting Jacob's fleece to fill beaters and carefully smudging each of the deer hides with the smoke of white sage

medicine drum workshop - Kent ©vcsinden2012

  
    Here we are, deciding how
best to cut our wet hides to achieve an individual look - mine has sixteen scallops round the edge to show off its hand-made ash frame.
   Then below, learning to lace the drum correctly with a continuous cord cut from the same hide. The lacing finished and tensioned, the handles woven, I fixed in my crystal - charged with the beams of so many full moons - and a little silver pentacle, symbolic of a place very dear to Muddypond's dark, faery heart!

Lacing the drum ©vcsinden2012

Medicine drum enhancements ©vcsinden2012

Muddypond's hand-made medicine drum  ©vcsinden2012

   Fire Blessing ....

    The drums were fashioned out in the fields under the wonderful trees - each in his own peaceful space. As evening drew on, Gerry and Marcus built a fire and we welcomed our drums (still drying, so not yet to be heard) with a fire blessing - each smudged - this time with mugwort from Pat's abalone shell - and passed through the smoke and edge of the flames.

Pat Pica at one of his drum workshops ©vcsinden2012
Fire Blessing for the new drums ©vcsinden2012

          

  Four days later   ....    Earth blessing and first drum song ....

   Each drum must dry and tighten for four days before its voice is heard for the first time. So - Muddypond waited. Dreams returned and returned to her mind - pictures of a mighty horse-chestnut tree that she knows well - until it was clear that the Earth Blessing and Song Birth should be performed under its vast branches. No other place would do it seemed.

        'There is no church or temple we need to seek peace, for ours are the temples of the wilderness'  My drum in the horse chestnut tree ©vcsinden2012

     
     A Muddypond faery-tree incense was prepared from herbs of the season - each ingredient included for a reason - and dropped onto the tiny charcoal burner - the sweet smoke smudged over the drum and up into the branches.

    In its protective circle, made with thanks to my Lord of the Greenwood, the drum sang out for the very first time, deep and resonant around the huge chestnut trunk. Black earth from the tree's roots was rubbed into the skin, and the length of hide lacing left over (its birthing cord) was cut and buried in a hollow at the tree's base.

 

Medicine drum of the faery Muddypond Green at its Earth Blessing ©vcsinden2012

Incense Recipe....
for Earth blessing in June
(seen burning here)

1 x desertspoon copal, could be benzoin or frankincense (- for purification)
1 x tsp patchouli leaves (an earth power)
1 x tsp dried mugwort (brings positive thought)
6 x rowan berries (my birth ogham tree)
1 x tsp oak bark or leaves (ogham tree for this date)
1 x tsp vervain (for purification)
2 x tsp lavender flowers (for happiness)
6  x drops real vanilla (for magical power)

           The beginning of the drum journey - soon to be blessed for Water and for Air / Spirit
Diola lle' Pat ten' i' ona en i' re vanima!

 

 

 

 

     June 20th 2012     
          Bizarre Kentish goings on at Bonnington ........
   rafts and racings ...

     Muddypond loves nothing better than to learn about the eccentric ways of the mortals!  Kentish mortals - my neighbours indeed in more ways than one - are as bizarre as any others, I know this for a fact. The other day I witnessed yet another instance of odd human enjoyments ..... an annual manifestation of the oddball!

Bonnington Church - all alone by the Royal Military Canal - with its peace about to be shattered ...

Bonnington, Romney Marsh, Kent -  Raft Race June 2012

 

    Weird, eccentric, fun - this fae doesn't know what to say about it really - except that she hopes plenty of money was raised for the fire services and picturesque little church of St. Rumwolds down on Romney Marsh. That's where the legendary Dr. Syn - smuggling vicar of Dymchurch had his supposed haunts - as you can see from one of the rafts !  I'll simply give you some flashes to marvel over then .........

                                                          Roll mouse over pictures below to see more ....

Bonnington, Romney Marsh, Kent -  Raft Race June 2012 Bonnington, Romney Marsh, Kent -  Raft Race June 2012

Bonnington, Romney Marsh, Kent -  Raft Race June 2012

 

 

 

    June 25th 2012     
        .....  Where I was on the Summer Solstice night  - belated wishes for you ....

   
    As the sun set on the night of Summer Solstice,
this superstitious fae went back to the green place where she had made her medicine drum (see below).

A group of us was around the fire as the skies darkened and buffeting wind howled, whipping the rain hard in our faces. Elemental pleasure!

We sang and drummed and called our solstice prayers into the teeth of the gale.

 

Faery Muddypond Green with medicine drum and her Lord of the Greenwood ©vcsinden 2012 allrightsreserved

But I dreamed as I faced the wind - dreamed of my Lord of the Greenwood - he reached out, asking to hear the new drum sing faster. The weather stilled - and drenched through, I held my breath ...

Just an illusion of the wild night - simply the rain and smoke in my eyes. I think .....

 

 

 

 

     July 3rd 2012     
        A little full moon faery magick ...... simply for the delight of it all .....

  Tonight the Oak Moon will shine and the Magics will celebrate. You may join us if you wish .... here's a harmless charm-spell, taken directly from my Ogham page for the oak tree ...... for yourself or your loved ones. These three nights, whilst the moon is full are the most auspicious of the whole year for a Prosperity Charm!

And here below is Oakie to watch the proceedings and help make them happen ....

Oakie with the Moon          A Charm for Prosperity

When the Oak Moon shines bright, plant an acorn by its light to invoke the money power of the oak tree for prosperity.

Cut a wand from a slender oak branch (having asked for the tree's blessing). Wave your fresh oak-moon wand seven times over the acorn and state your requirement - make it a modest one!

If you wish, enhance the magic by burning a little Oak Moon herbal incense and smudging the smoke over yourself and the place where the acorn is resting in the earth.

oak Moon Incense for early July full moon

Oak Moon Incense

Frankincense (for prosperity)
Oak bark (Ogham protection for this Moon)
Mugwort (to enhance the magickal power)
Jasmine oil or flowers (for the Moon and prosperity)
Rose petals (for summer bounty)

Oakie comes from the wonderfully whimsical animated film 'Kuki se vraci'  read more here on the Wolfmoons & Muddypond Green Blog.

 

 

 


      July 12th 2012
    
 
         English tradition ....  the Banbury Hobby Horse Fair ......

      (Making magic? Need a wand or bark for incense?  The Ogham wood for this time of year is now Tinne - Holly ,  July 8th -  August 4th)

   Been journeying again! ....    the little market town of Banbury, nestling amongst canals and pretty villages in Oxfordshire, has a Town Cross - the one we can see if we visit today was erected in 1859 - the three ancient ones were destroyed in the Puritan rages of 1600.

   Banbury also has a famous old English nursery rhyme ..... and Banbury cakes ....... and  the loveliest life-size statue this fae has ever seen ... and ....  a Hobby Horse Fair!

Alice B woodward - Banbury Cross Banbury Cross ©vcsinden2012
From 'Banbury Cross and Other Nursery Rhymes' illustrated by Alice B Woodward, 1895
Banbury Cross July 2012

 

Alfred Crowquill - Banbury Cross
From - 'Nursery Rhymes' illustrated by Alfred Crowquill 1864

     A 'cock horse' is the term for a real shire horse which was added to the horses already pulling a carriage or cart at the bottom of a steep hill to help in the climb. He was stabled near  the hill and always worked in the same place.

    betley Windiw - the hobby horse A 'hobby horse' is a fabrication, dating it's thought from early medieval times and refers to a large model 'horse' on a frame, which is put over the 'rider' so that although he was walking, he appeared to be riding. They were very fashionable in holiday parades, and carefully looked after, coming out year after year.

  The ancient picture on the left shows a 'hobby horse rider' and is from the famous 17th century 'Betley' stained-glass window. Now in the V & A Museum - you can read more here.

Postcard - ill H G C Marsh Lambert 1918

A 'hobby horse' can also be the name for a simple child's toy - a horse's head on a broom stick, sometimes with little wheels. Not to be confused with a 'rocking horse'.

English folk tradition also has the 'hooden horse' - but he is another story!

Postcard - The Sailors Hobby Horse - Minehead - early 1900

    Below is the bronze statue sculpted by Denise Dutton. Riding to the cross is the lady upon her white horse - wonderfully detailed and representing the Queen of the May - bells on her toes to give her music - and the little frog at the horse's fore hoof, representing the cycle of nature.

Banbury fair lady statue ©vcsinden2012
Banbury close-up fair lady statue ©vcsinden2012
Banbury close-up fair lady statue ©vcsinden2012

   The Hobby Horse Fair this year was held on Mayor's Sunday - and began with a parade, which snaked past the Cross along the Horse Fair to the beautiful People's Park with its magnificent trees.

Banbury Hobby Horse Fair 2012 - the Mayor's parade ©vcsinden2012
Banbury Hobby Horse Fair 2012 - the town hobby horse ©vcsinden2012

  There were floral hobby horses... time for a good gossip on the bouncy ponies ... and local beer to be supped!

Banbury Hobby Horse Fair 2012 - floral decorations ©vcsinden2012 Banbury Hobby Horse Fair 2012 - bouncy gossip ©vcsinden2012 Banbury Hobby Horse Fair 2012 - horse and beer ©vcsinden2012

Races to be ridden,     dressing up to be done and medals to be won.    And ... the sun shone!

Banbury Hobby Horse Fair 2012 - medal winner©vcsinden2012

 

 

 

      July 22nd 2012   
         .......     
'In search of stones' ....  the Rollright Stone Circle ......

Rollright Stones ©vcsinden2012

    Spiritual places - even more awe-inspiring on dark, cloudy days.  Learning about the 'faery cathedrals' is an important part of the British hedgerow faery's training as I've tried to explain before. I can never achieve proper status as a Stella Fae unless all necessary levels are passed, and that can take hundreds of years to do!

    But that's as maybe - levels or no levels - we're drawn to them - can't help it. At last I've seen the Rollrights - after promising myself for so long. Away from most of the mortal world, quite high for Oxfordshire hills and at its border with Warwickshire, sits a worn stone circle wide and low .... where the stones are known as 'The King's Men' ....

Rollrights - weathered limestone ©vcsinden2012 Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire - portal ©vcsinden2012
The rock is not the usual 'sarson stone' but 'megalithic oolitic limestone' which is why, over thousands of years, they have become so weathered.

    The stones were mentioned by a clerk of Cambridge in the fourteenth century thus ....'In the Oxford countryside there are great stones, arranged as it were .... by the hand of man. But at what time this was done, or by what people, or for what memorial or significance, is unknown.'

Rollright Stone Circle - Oxfordshire ©vcsinden2012

       Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire - the Whispering Knights tomb ©vcsinden2012 Legend would have it that the 'King's men'  were turned to stone by an elder tree witch. Just a few hundred yards (as the faery flies) from the circle - stands a partly fallen dolman tomb, whose side-chamber stones lean together conspiritorially. These tall stones are 'The Whispering Knights',  (pictured left) said to be conspiring against the King, whose stone stands alone at the brow of the hill just across the lane.

   You can read about that legend more fully on my website amongst the Ogham Elder Tree magic.

  The Fae and Other Magics have a different tale - of how the stones will get up and dance at midnight on certain faery nights - and how they always go down to the stream in the valley for their new year's night drink of spring water.       

Rollrights - the King's Stone ©vcsinden2012
The 'King Stone' - alone at the brow of the hill.

      If you should visit, lay the palms of your hands flat on the stones as you walk around them, see if you might feel the energy from our ancestors. Collect a little dark earth to sprinkle in your blessings when you return to work, and leave them a thank you token.

       My simple offering was a bunch picked in the surrounding hedges and fields - each twig carefully chosen for its meaning. Laid on one of the portal stones flat in the grass....

 A twig of oak, one of ash and one of hawthorn - these are the sacred trio.
One of holly - for holly rules this time in the Ogham calender.
One of elder - for the legend of the Witch and the King.
A little hazel, a symbol of water divination, knowing the stones' love of water.
Wild flowers from within site of the stones - the bunch tied with grasses.

    During my visit, a villager came to the centre of the stones and sat with a pupil, expounding a loud theory of alien involvement. The Fae however have never really got on with alien brethren, so this one crossed the lane to the King's Stone and communed with the view and the gentle, curious cows.Oxfordshire - from the Rollright Stones©vcsinden2012

 

If you are interested in the harvesting and magick of faery-herbs for July,
you might like the latest entries on the Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog spot -

Meadowsweet   and  Mugwort

 

 

 


     August 1st 2012
    

      ......  In search of music -  unhinged at the one and only Cambridge Folk Festival ......
The Destroyers  at The Cambridge Folk Festival July 2012 ©vcsinden2012

     This group of talented, lunatic mortal-misfits is The Destroyers - and has to be the most theatrical band ever to alight at a festival! They play a kind of story-telling Balkan/East European style, apparently known as 'Klezmer' whilst coming from Birmingham! The whole experience is madly and wildly joyful!  Loved them! Their new album 'Hole in the Universe' is about to be launched! 

 Cambridge Folk Festival camping under the trees July 2012 ©vcsinden2012      Camping for human folk couldn't be pretttier, pitched in amongst the mighty trees of Cherry Hinton Park and never far from the action. And all so clean - oh so very clean!

   Even the smallest and most enthusiastic of fans had a great, great four days.
  
Flittering round a corner I came across this young band - they are 'The Tin Pigeons' and definitely one to watch for the future. Round the next corner were customers at the juice bar exuberantly pedalling a smoothie.
Mine was apple, pear and lime with a touch of fresh ginger.
  Cambridge Folk Festival juice bar July 2012 ©vcsinden2012

      Too many superlative musicians to watch, playing to packed crowds, so choosing had to be carefully planned. Apart from the surprise of The Destoyers, above, my most treasured moments came from Seth Lakeman (of course), Raghu Dixit, and June Tabor with Oysterband.

June Tabor at The Cambridge Folk Festival July 2012 ©vcsinden2012
Seth Lakeman - on fire  at The Cambridge Folk Festival July 2012 ©vcsinden2012
Raghu Dixit  at The Cambridge Folk Festival July 2012 ©vcsinden2012
June Tabor
Seth Lakeman
Raghu Dixit

     Still learning - as all good Magicks must, even at festival times - Muddypond took the opportunity to take a crash course in the art of playing the Northumbrian Pipes.  Well - kinda playing. Then it rained. No, thundered. No, hailed. Hmm well, it was wet for a while before the sun shone on us again.

Muddypond Green learning Northumbrian Pipes ©vcsinden2012 After the storm - wet Sunday at the Cambridge Folk Festival ©vcsinden2012

   Then - oh - so thrilled to see Clannad making a comeback after twenty years, with their original line up! I always imagined that 'Robin the Hooded Man', a song so very beloved by the faere-folk - was a 'made-in-the-studio' sound. 

    This one should have more faith!  There they were - in front of my eyes - and there was 'Robin' -
sounding exactly like the haunting music I knew of old, if not better.
Long may they reign. And the festival too! I will be back.Clannad revival at the Cambridge Folk Festival 2012 ©vcsinden2012

 

 

 

 

     August 12th 2012   
         
Question .....  do faeries and other magics have summer music festivals? .....
 (Making magic? Need a wand or bark for incense?  The Ogham wood for this time of year is now  Hazel - Coll ,   August 5th - September 1st)

     Here I set forth the evidence ..... 

'The Fairy Musicians' Helen Jacobs

           
     All my favourite early 20th century faery artists have painted their charges frolicking to home-made music. Top amongst the magical instruments are pipes, flutes and penny-whistles. Drums are popular of course, as are fiddles, cellos and harps.

     So too are small percussion pieces made from bell-type flowers of various descriptions, and trumpets stolen from lilies or honeysuckle. 

   When we say 'festivals', we don't have the kind of gatherings that you mortals think of by that name. No crushed wings or deafened ears for us. There aren't enough of us left for such wild events even if we wanted them. (We don't!).

 

   On the right, an illustration by Helen Jacobs c1920 'The Fairy Musicians' captures the delicacy of the affair exactly. No wonder she's the artist I love best.   

   

       What we favour is a small  'faery meet' or 'moot' as they're called. They can be at any time of year and for any reason - but of course full moons, equinoxes and solstice nights are almost compulsory. (Almost - you can't compel a faery to do anything!)

Ida Outhwaite 'the Fairy Jazz Band'
'The Fairy Jazz Band'  by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite c1920

Do fairies have music festivals? here is a picture by Horace Knowles of one that he saw around 90 years ago ....

'The Fairy Musicians' from 'Peeps into Fairyland'
by Horace Knowles 1924

     Any excuse will do for a celebration, but you mortals are pretty unlikely to come across a musical 'faere-moot'. They're held in secret 'in-between' places, between woods and water - deep in the forest between clearing and trees  on the edges of reality. They are held at 'twixt and between' times - the cross-over point between light and night at dawns and dusks - in the seconds between sun setting and moon rising. 

 
Raphael Tuck postcard by Thomas Maybank c1910

   So, the answer to the opening question (sent in by a dear reader) is - erm - well - sort of! In our own way 'yes' but if you want to witness a 'Faery-Glasto-Moot' then I'm sorry - but 'no' is all I can advise.

     Anyway - you know perfectly well what happens to a mortal that hears proper faery music - they are captured, spun and circled until they are entirely lost- possibly never to be seen again! Serves them right I say - pfffft! - they have enough of their own festivals to go to!

'the Merry Piper' by Harold Gaze
'The Fairy Orchestra'  by Cecily Mary Baker
Illustration from 'The Merry Piper' by Harold Gaze pub:Little Brown 1925

             In case you should rightly wonder -
but where's the faery-master Rackham himself in all these musical drawings?
You will find his art of faery song  here, new on the Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog.

    **Muddypond Green has added a new page to the Magick section of her faery website -
all about understanding and making 'Smudge Sticks' or using hallowed smoke from wild herbs.
You might not have found it yet!**

 

 

 

 

     August 17th 2012   
        ...  
Oh dear - we get everywhere don't we us hedgerow faeries! ....

©vcsinden2012 ©vcsinden2012
Olympic Stadium Friday last week - the 4 x 100m American girls celebrate their new world record

      Well sure we do - we may live out in the wilds - but have wings will fly- and well, couldn't miss this could I? It was all the mortals said it would be, but better - and not even any queues, which was odd since I know from experience that that's what people like to do best on their days out.  Olympic Park eco-plaque set in the path ©vcsinden2012
     

     But - what this eco-minded magic thought was so lovely were the river banks, kept natural, alive with moorhens and lined with bullrushes. and the wildflower gardens planted like meadows which wound their way through the park and around the various arenas.

  Wild flowers in thousands for the insects and birds - drenched with bees busy in the sunshine. and the exquisite metal plaques set flat into the paving to draw our attention to them ...

Click on the plaque to see a more detailed view ...

 

Olympic Park wild flower meadows in full bloom ©vcsinden2012
Wild flower plantings in the Olympic Park, London ©vcsinden2012

 Wild flowers in profusion set in huge swathes and meadow-like drifts in the Olympic Park.

     August 27th 2012      
        .... Suffolk Snapshot - unexpected magical sights with late summer lanterns and landscapes ..
.
     

Blythburgh - one of the angels in the 15th century Angel Roof ©vcsinden2012
 
Detail of 'The Angel Roof' Blythburgh Church


   This Wood Guardian faery is a pretty well-travelled creature, but never stops being amazed by what she finds in the most unexpected of places.

   Flying up the east coast of  Suffolk, and making small wayfarings inland, Muddypond found not only the well-known villages, their orderly cottages painted a glowing 'Suffolk pink' but all sorts of curiosities fit for faery-studies ...

   Angels play a big part in Suffolk history and culture it seems, and the wonderful 15th century carved and painted vastness of the roof interior of Blythburgh Church took my breath away.

Richard Thompson at Snape-Maltings August 2012 ©vcsinden2012 Snape Maltings Concert Hall ©vcsinden2012
 
The concert hall at Snape Maltings from the reed withies, and a darker
angel. A sell-out Aldeburgh Music Prom by one of Muddypond's all-time heroes - singer/songwriter and superhuman guitar player - Richard Thompson
Sizewell Nuclear Power Station in the evening ©vcsinden2012
The Suffolk moonscape of Sizewell Nuclear Power Station and beach in the evening light.

          Please note - you may have seen elsewhere in Muddypond's musings that she is only too well aware of the cataclysmic effect of the emanations from nuclear waste on the ever-declining population of all kinds of Magics.

Three different kinds of magic ..... each one bewitching
The Galloper - Aldeburgh Festival Suffolk ©vcsinden2012
Watchers in Framlingham Church, Suffolk ©vcsinden2012
Relishing every minute on the old-fashioned 'Galloper' at Aldeburgh festival
     Framlingham church, watched over by the green-man and his lady
Aldeburgh, the Chinese Lantern parade in August ©vcsinden2012
The Chinese Lantern parade at Aldeburgh Festival - hundreds, perhaps thousands of local people snake along the old streets to the beach - lanterns aloft.

 

 

 

   September 4th 2012        
       .....  Kentish Hops and the Faversham Hop Festival   
.....
     (Making magic? Need a wand or bark for incense?  The Ogham wood for this time of year is now Bramble - Muin ,  September 2nd - September 29th)

 

"The lad who hops upon one leg
No doubt that business understands;
But do not boast of that, I beg,
For here, they're hopping with their hands!"

Rhyme published in 'Country Walks for Little Folks' 1858

Hop garlands and crowns for sale at the Faversham Hop Festival ©vcsinden2012
'Sur Les Docks' performing at the Faversham Hop Festival ©vcsinden2012
Hop garland crowns and tiaras, and a few of the results - watching a great French band 'Sur les Docks'


      Greyhound, 'retired and loving it' at the Faversham Hop Festival ©vcsinden2012Growing and processing hops for beer making used to be one of the mainstays of Kentish economy. Every 'hop garden', as they call the vast acres of hops growing up tall poles and trained along criss-crossing wires, at one time had its own faery guardian.

   The thousands of 'hop-picker' children, coming down to Kent from London with their enire families for the annual hop harvest in September, would occasionally catch a glimpse of one at dusk.

   Hops make a wonderful filling for 'dream-pillows' and a mild hop infusion or tea can be taken to calm nerves when wakeful night-time problems seem insurmountable.

kentish hop pickers, vintage postcard
Hop kiln at Selling, Kent, still in full use ©vcsinden2012
London Hop Pickers, taking their annual working 'holiday'
in the country, away from London smogs. Vintage postcard.
Hop gardens and drying 'Oast kilns' are still to be found in Kent.
This one, near Selling, was blazing away last night as the hops were piled
onto the floors above the furnaces.

Poem from "All Round the Year" by Edith Nesbit & Caris Brooke 1888

Hop bines at the Faversham Hop Festival ©vcsinden2012
Seven Champions Molly Dancers, letting rip at Faversham Hop Festival ©vcsinden2012
Kentish hops , ready for harvest in September ©vcsinden2012
Buying a hop bine for decoration,
or perhaps to make a dream-pillow.
Serious dancers - pair from Seven Champions Molly,
based at Frittenden, Kent
Ready for harvest yesterday,
looking up into the skies, near Selling, Kent

    Like so many of the older country-faery habitats, the hop gardens have dwindled. They're no longer picked by throngs of workers down for the harvest. You won't see the stilt-walkers cutting the ropes from the pole tops, or the children stripping the hop flowers from the bines.
    But the hops ARE still there, in their acres if you know where to look - so is that evocative bitter-sweet scent. And you never know - a faery guardian or two could still be on the look out - especially as the sun slips down behind the poles, and evening light takes all colour from the fields.

Great Western Morris at the Faversham Hop Festival  ©vcsinden2012
The Thameside Mummers perform at the Faversham Hop Festival  ©vcsinden2012

Leaping High! -  energetic and well rehearsed!
Great Western Morris
from Exeter

     St. George and the Mari Lwyd hooden - from
  The Thameside Mummers based in Leigh-on-Sea

Kentish hop garden with faery Muddypond Green ©vcsinden2012
The end of a long day, Muddypond taking in the evening scent of a Kentish hop-garden. 

  Like fairy poetry and art? Then you might want to read about the elves and fearsome spiders
  here, new on the Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green Blog.

 

 

 

    September 10th 2012    
      .... Another tradition - sorry but it's that Autumny time of year!  A harvest character for you - the Carshalton Straw Jack .......

harvest Home by Margaret Tarrant
"Harvest Home" by Margaret Tarrant

        When the crops are 'safely gathered in' as they have been so recently - it's time for mortals and faere-folk alike to make their thank you celebrations. Across mother earth, traditional harvest rituals are still practised, passed down over centuries from the ancestors.

        In Britain, the final bundle of wheat to be cut is considered lucky. It might be bound into a corn sheaf and displayed proudly beside the harvest loaf, or, as seen this weekend in a sleepy Surrey town - used to make a Straw Jack. Quite a lot of local beer gets drunk in the process!

Carshalton Straw Jack outside The Duke of Wellington ©vcsinden2012 Carshalton Straw Jack crown with hops and wheat ©vcsinden2012
Leaving from The Duke of Wellington  Straw Jack is ready to process to the next pub, as his hop-decorated crown suggests.
Carshalton Straw Jack©vcsinden2012
Carshalton Straw Jack walking to The Sun ©vcsinden2012
Jack perambulates the streets after a quick jig in the Water Tower Gardens and on to The Sun for another beer - or two!

   As with so many of these characters, when Jack has had his day he must be destroyed. When the sun goes down he'll be pulled apart and ritually burned - so goes the ancient cycle of birth, death and re-birth. If you manage to take a handful of straw from poor Jack, burn half and keep half as a talisman to see you through the winter.

Carshalton Straw Jack - my bundle, saved as a talisman ©vcsinden2012

Carshalton Straw Jack arrives at The Hope for his beer and burning ©vcsinden2012
Carshalton Straw Jack musicians drumming Jack home ©vcsinden2012
Jack arrives at The Hope, nearing the end of his journey. Musicians and drummers keep him company every step of the way.
Carshalton Straw Jack ©vcsinden2012
Carshalton Straw Jack - waiting to burn ©vcsinden2012
Straw is piled and poor Jack pulled to pieces, each handful tossed into the flames with a blessing by the crowd happily waiting their turn.

    Have you noticed the new link on Muddypond's 'favourites' page to 'Where the Wild Roses Grow'? 
There you will find beautifully delicate hand-made faery and ogham-tree silver jewellery to buy or commission.
I know you will love it. Check the link here.

 

 

 

 

   September 23rd 2012        
      ......   Rooftops, chimneys and faery stories in Barcelona .....

Museum Frederic Mares Barcelona - cane heads ©vcsinden2012
Cane heads - part of a collection in the museum Frederic Marės

    Just spent some more warm autumn days in Barcelona - so much to see. Even with the help of transport Flit on, Flit off Faery-Touristique, never enough hours! Markets, museums, monasteries, mojitas - and so much more.

   This one went to gaze at the skyline, at Gaudi masterpieces that she hadn't seen before. Knowing, as more melting curves and rippling wrought iron materialise, that this architect was no mortal - Senyor Gaudi had more than a touch of magick! As does most of the city.

Barcelona - waterfront ©vcsinden2012
La Pedrera - balocny ©vcsinden2012

Autumn by the water front and iron balcony rails of an apartment at La Pedrera, inspired by undulating sea weeds.

 

Gaudi chimneys and faery Muddypond Green ©vcsinden2012       As in all the best faery tales, rooftops and skylines make wonderful places to escape and dream for a while.

On the left you can see Muddypond, high up amongst the quirky Gaudi chimneys. Below the icing-sugar colours and dragon-scale tiles of Casa Batiló

Casa Batilo - Gaudi - Barcelona ©vcsinden2012
Kiss of Death - Barcelona Cemetery Poblenou ©vcsinden2012
La merce Festival Barcelona - the Giants ready for parade ©vcsinden2012
  The vast Cemetery at Poblenou, once on the city outskirts, makes a fascinating visit and is like nothing this very English fae has seen before. The famous marble 'Kiss of Death' contrasts starkly with the joyful Barcelona Giants back in Las Ramblas, ready for their entrance into the Festival La Mercė the following day -such a shame that I couldn' t stay to see them parading.
Barcelona Cemetery at Poblenou ©vcsinden2012
Sagrada Familiar - work progresses ©vcsinden2012 Monestir Sant Pau del Camp, Barcelona ©vcsinden2012
A glimpse of La Sagrada Familiar, Gaudi's greatest work, - begun 130 years ago and destined not to be finished even in this faery's long lifetime.  And of the cloisters of Barcelona's oldest church - Sant Pau del Camp - begun in 911 and still in use as a place of the spirit.

   Miss you beautiful city - but the woods, the brambles and wet autumn leaves are calling me home.

There are more of Muddypond's faery-tale Gaudi chimney flashes
here on her other blog - Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green

 

 


 

   October 2nd 2012       
        .....   An extraordinary encounter with the ivy hedge .....   

     (Making magic? Need a wand or bark for incense?  The Ogham wood for this time of year is now  Ivy - Gort ,  September 30th - October 27th)  Red Admiral feeding on ivy nectar ©vcsinden2012


    Thinking about the magic of the Ogham trees and plants - as this faery wood warden often must - it's fascinating to notice how often the very tree or shrub that's suddenly showing off in the sunlight and catching all your attention, is the one that is currently ruling the Ogham calendar. You can read plenty more about the Ivy and Ogham magick here on the Eco Enchantments site.

Red admiral gorging on the nectar of the ivy flowers in early October ©vcsinden2012

   And so it was at the beginning of this week, when the sun shone brightly on the huge ivy hedge near my fallen oak. It was simply alive with insects!

    Reverberating with buzzes and glowing in great puffs of golden pollen as wings brushed the flower-globes; feet and hairs stained ochre; proboscis probing and pollen-sacs filled to bursting!

   It's not often that we even associate Ivy with flowers, but right now, on the very first day of its Ogham month, the flowers were covered in sweet pollen and made a luxurious banqueting table for so many different species of insect that I gave up counting.

The ivy headge at Eco Enchantments ©vcsinden2012

    All manner of honey-bees, flies and tiny stripey bumbles sped in and out of the ivy tangles, warm in the sunshine.

Tiny wood bumble bee on the ivy flowers ©vcsinden2012

    

    There was some extraordinarily BAD behaviour from a gang of huge, yellow hornets who were real bullies!

    They flew heavily around the flower balls, but didn't stop to feed. It seemed they were there for one purpose only - to BIF the BUTTERFLIES off the flowers! They didn't want the flowers themselves - they simply chose a butterfly - dive-bombed it hard, bashed it and made it fly away!

Comma feeding on the pollen of ivy flowers in early October ©vcsinden2012



Commas a plenty.

I didn't realise that she's named 'Comma' because of the white comma shaped mark under her wings did you? Wood wardens learn all the time!

Comma underwing, showing the comma mark ©vcsinden2012

   All the butterflies seemed drunk with the scent of pollen and posed soporiphically for their portraits.

The blackberries and elderberries are nearly over - but you still have time to make a wonderfully warming
Hedgerow Cobbler for an indulgent and filling Autumny pud!  See the new recipe on my Cooky Page

You might like the poetry and faery art of the blackberry and bramble kind, new on Muddypond's faery-tale blog
'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green'

 

 

 

 

   October 11th 2012        
       .....   October means Tenterden Folk Festival for Kentish folk .....


Illustration by John Hegley, Guardian

Tenterden Folk Festival ©vcsinden2012 Hunters Moon Morris at Tenterden Folk Festival ©vcsinden2012 learning to parade well - tenterden Folk Festival ©vcsinden2012

       You understand I'm sure that the faery-kind loathe the sound of bells - but that means the dark, doom-laden iron bells in towers, reverberating over miles, setting teeth on edge and wings a-quiver. Morris bells, tinkling in time to clashes, taps and stomps, now they're a different matter. The English fae have been watching these celebrations of music and dance for as long as they have been performed - and that's a long, long time.

Stuart Forester at Tenterden Folk Festival ©vcsinden2012 Tenterden Folk Festival 2012 ©vcsinden2012 Luke Jackson at Tenterden festival ©vcsinden2012

  Luke Jackson - young singer/songwriter supreme. You can follow his events on his website - next appearance in Kent at this point is Sunday November 25th in Canterbury.

     NB:  Anyone in the family that likes collecting conkers and making crazy creatures? There's a new Forest Dragon that you might like over on Muddypond's Hedgerow Crafts page today.

 

 

 

    October 16th 2012        
        ......   And so it begins - the Sussex Bonfire Societies light up the skies ....

Guy Fawkes - the giant on parade with Hastings Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2012   
Sussex, not much of wing journey from where Muddypond lives, is known as 'The Fire County'. At present some forty towns and villages have their own charity supporting Bonfire Societies who lead the celebrations, each with its own distinctive flavour.

Faeries are extremely partial to bonfires, as they are of many venerable traditions be they mortal or magick. They go visiting - and this Saturday was the turn of Hastings.

The Bonfire Society Hastings - parading to the beach ©vcsinden2012

    The most famous of the bonfire parades is in Lewes - but it gets so busy that it's hard to see through the crowds. In Hastings there was room for as many mortals as wished to be there and more, with the huge bonfire and fireworks being on the beach. The Lewes Bonfire Society website has a good list of  2012 dates for all the societies, up until mid November.

Bonfire Society parade at Hastings ©vcsinden2012
Hastings Bonfire Society fireworks on the beach ©vcsinden2012
Drummers in the Hastings Bonfire Society parade October ©vcsinden2012
Fire and torch barrels at the end of the parade - Hastings Bonfire Society ©vcsinden2012 Bonfire Society - Hastings parade ©vcsinden2012
Drummers at the parade of the Hastings Bonfire Society on their way to the fire on the beach ©vcsinden2012 Fireworks at Hastings Bonfire Society celebrations in October ©vcsinden2012

 There's a good list of the Sussex Bonfire Societies with a link to each on Wikepedia here. If you'd like to learn more, the small book in the Folklore of England series - 'Customs in Sussex' by Tony Foxworthy 2011 - has a page for many of the societies and is a useful source of information.

Bonfire Society, October celebrations on the beach at Hastings. This picture is strictly copyright ©vcsinden2012

The vast bonfire on the beach, by the Hastings Bonfire Society on October 13th 2012


 

 

     October 29th 2012    
         ..... Ready for tonight's full moon and for Samhain? -
think I might be - been busy with autumny things for the last few days .....
   (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  for this time of year is now  Wheat Straw or Reed - Ngetal ,  October 28th - November 24th)

leaf from a field maple ©vcsinden2012 Ink cap - a huge clump growing in Hurst Wood, Charing ©vcsinden2012 Pumpkins for cooking - Slindon Festival ©vcsinden2012

Misty autumn morning at Nymans ©vcsinden2012

Star funghi at the roots of an old oak ©vcsinden2012 Sweet gum leaves in October ©vcsinden2012
Pumpkins and squashes in variety at Slindon Festival ©vcsinden2012 Scarecrow - welcome to the church - Slindon festival ©vcsinden2012 Willow sculpture pumpkin - Slindon Festival ©vcsinden2012

Scare the Crows - Slindon Festival ©vcsinden2012 

Cornus leaves, glowing in October sunlight ©vcsinden2012 Field mushrooms for supper, Hurst Wood, Charing ©vcsinden2012 Field maple - scarlet levaes in October ©vcsinden2012

     Pumpkins and scarecrows photographed at the Slindon Pumpkin Festival in Sussex. 
Views and leaves
- Nymans, National Trust Garden & Hurst Wood.
Funghi
(ink cap, earth-star and field mushrooms)  in and around Hurst Wood, Charing. 
Hens - belong to Muddypond and, like her, enjoy Autumn very much.

    If you're interested in the enchanted trees of the Ogham calendar, there is a new page on my website featuring the folklore and magick of the Yew tree - yew is used extensively at Samhain for fires and decoration.

With autumn fungi in mind, you might like 'Faery Rings a plenty- all ready for the Samhain dance', new on Muddypond's faery-tale blog
'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green'

 

 

     November 5th 2012     
      ....  Samhain, - fire - keeping the darkness beyond the Hunters' Moon
.....
             (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  for this time of year is Wheat Straw or Reed - Ngetal ,  October 28th - November 24th)

Sparks - torches on the fire to light the Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012

   So many magickal events conjoined into the space of one simple week this year. It was the week of the full-moon, the blood-moon, or perhaps the hunters moon - on the very cusp of October, November - both taking their name from a time when mortals would make preparations for the winter to come, kill, preserve, store.
    For us Magicks the full moon on 29th October was 'The Moon of the Wild Hunt'  or the Ogham 'Reed Moon'. (See more about full moon naming here)

Vines Cross Bonfire Socirty at Staplecross Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012 Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012
 
Bonfire pictures above and below taken at Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire Society celebrations, Sussex in late, late October..

        In this same week, and only two days later, fell the ancient Celtic festival of the new year - Samhain.
The four festivals of solstice and equinox were not important for the human Celtic ancestors - and all over Europe two great festivals were kept - Beltane, May 1st and Samhain, November 1st - half a year apart. A time for the herds of precious cattle to be led out to pasture and sunshine, and to be returned to the byre for the 'darkside'.     

 ©vcsinden2012

Samhain Eve - or Hallowe'en time was given over to divination, thoughts of what might befall the mortal soul and what has befallen those past.

 ©vcsinden2012
My drum, waiting to sound the heartbeats before a meditation at the full moon fire .

In faery culture it's the night when the horned
Lord of the Greenwood, Cerunnos, god of the animals, or Herne the Hunter, (call him what you will) leaps into the sky for the Wild Hunt. I saw him, racing the clouds searching for any wandering spirits - to take them to safety before the longest, coldest nights.

    Lastly, the newest of the festivals, but inextricably linked - November 5th - Bonfire Night, and the mighty firework inventions.  All of the late October and early November nights linked into one brilliant blur by FIRE. Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012

Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire Society fireworks ©vcsinden2012
 ©vcsinden2012
Bangs, screams and whizzes to fend off negative spirits
Friends with drums, sparklers, full moon and fire,
ready to call down the silvery light and give thanks to the Lady.

    Fire to mimick the dying light of the sun, smoke to purify, candles to glimmer in thanks for the moon.
Fireworks to dazzle and boom out a warning to anything evil that might be hiding there in the dark.
For each eventide, blazing bonfires to warm and push the power of darkness away.Ewhurst & Staplecross Bonfire ©vcsinden2012

  Muddypond's music choice for this November seems very apt tonight when I look back at previous 'Samhainy' diaryblog entries  - 'Who knows where the time goes' indeed!  Have you heard it yet?  If you'd like to travel back with me, try these pages and entries :

                                 November 1st 2009 :  'Talking of Samhain and the Seer - the Guardian of the Gate'
November 3rd 2010 :  'Of Samhain night , Seers and Squashes '
October 31st 2011 : ' Samhain .Winter's Eve .The Eve of All Hallows ...'  &  'Nearly the Witching Hour'


 

 

 

     November 9th 2012    
         ..... 
Even Muddypond was a faery-sprig once ....  once ...   omce ....

 ... and she learned so much about country ways from author Alison Uttley, and the beautiful, evocative illustrations by Margaret Tempest. Whenever this faery sees a sparkler or smells the tang of bonfire smoke the world of Little Grey Rabbit comes into her mind.
    The extracts and pictures below are from 'Hare and Guy Fawkes' published in 1956, just when family parties with our own fireworks were the fashion. Each precious tube bought with saved pennies and carefully chosen from the 'paper shop' up the road.

     Dads and Uncles clustered in the dark bearing lighted tapers and health and safety was a bugbear for the future. Catherine wheels fixed precariously by a nail to a pole. Rockets from milk bottles. Jumping jacks and golden fountains to 'hold in a gloved hand'. Baked potatoes from the ashes and home-made treacle toffee - remember?

"Hare lighted the bonfire, and a flame soared upward. All the leaves shone like gold as they fluttered up into the evening sky. "Wind, ice, snow," sang the leaves in thin piping voices, and the stars looked down to see what kind of bonfire this was with little animals dancing round it."

 

"Wise Owl flew over, calling to the animals,

'Too-whit ! Too-whoo !
Whatever you do,
Remember, remember,
The Fifth of November,

The wheel and the rocket,
The fountain of gold,
For winter is coming
With ice and with cold.

So Light up your bonfire,
And dance in a ring,
Laugh at your troubles,
And merrily sing.' "

    Some of the 'Little Grey Rabbit' series, were re-published by Collins in 2000. Unfortunately someone told them (mistakenly) that todays' sprigs do not like descriptive writing and would only concentrate on the 'story'.
Sadly these new printings were abridged (desecrated?) and all the wonderful scene-setting which meant so much to Alison Uttley herself as well as countless young readers, was entirely removed.

Luckily it's still quite easy to get hold of the earlier printings !

 

 

 

 

    November 14th 2012     
         .......  Log fires, autumn nights and hand-knits - nice
....

 ©vcsinden    

   Isn't this just the time of year - with long moonlit nights, misty early mornings and crackling log fires - when thoughts turn to all things cosy and comforting ? Industrious Magics of all species spin, card, weave, knit, sew and craft - using natural threads and plant dyes - plus a few enchanted ones which they alone know how to combine. (See poem below).

Ravelry banner - online knitting patterns and forumsDo you know the site for knitters, both faere-folks and mortal, named 'Ravelry'?
It is a most wonderful place, where patterns of every kind are shared, tried and rated.
There are groups and forums for everyone, beginners to professionals,where members can talk about knitting triumphs and problems, ask advice and make friends.

All the fairy knitting ideas below come from ravelry.com
Click on the pictures to be taken to the patterns and credits for each one.

Hand knit for elven folk - 'Dragonfly Vest'© Agnese Vajevska at Ravelry
Hand knit shawl © Carisa Chang at Ravelry
Wristlet and Accessory Pouch © kara L. Mayfield at Ravelry
Hand knit Galadriel Socks © Janel Laidman at Ravelry

Hand Knit Cowl 'Ice Queen' © Rosemary Hill at Ravelry

Knitting for Faere-folk.

Knit one, pearl one,
Glimmer two together;
Coil a cobweb as your thread,
Hang a soft grey feather.

Knit two, opal two,
Pass gossamer across;
Overcast with darkened clouds
Then shroud in dew-fed moss.

Knit three, jade three,
Lit by the waning moon,
Slip nine translucent stitches,
Knot with a Hagalaz rune.

Knit four, moth-wing four,
Repeat these lines, then twist –
Fasten with a moonstone,
Cast off your aerial mist.

                                                           VCS

Hand knit wristlet 'Perdita'© Elizabeth Klett at Ravelry
Elven Leaf Brooch © Marie Wright at Ravelry
Handknit fingerless gloves © Laura Peveler at Ravelry
Fairy Flower Circlet © Erssie at Ravelry Acorn purse ©Sally Pointer at Ravelry Elven Bootees ©StudioKnits.com Hand Knit hat ©Circe Belles Boucles at Ravelry

©vcsinden

 

 

 

     November 24th 2012     
           .......  One Magic in autumn sun - availing herself of the last warm rays ....
  (Making magic?  The  Ogham wood  for this time of year changes tomorrow to Elder - Ruis,   November 25th - December 22nd)

Late autumn sun on chestnut hill  ©vcsinden
Muddypond in late afternoon near her favourite chestnut tree - taking in the magical light

   Not so much faery-larder work to be done now that real winter is approaching as quickly as the November full moon. Most late harvest is collected - but we can still scrabble for chestnuts under the carpets of leaves. The 'old man's beard' or wild clematis is rampant - Muddypond likes to hoard it when it's fluffy and dry to cosy up the winter bedding in the homes of the creatures in her wood and under the Neighbourhood Bank. The dormice are especially partial to it..

Chestnuts at Hothfield Common ©vcsinden 2012
Muddypond Green contemplating autumn ©vcsinden 2012
Old Man's Beard in the hedgerow, Charing, Kent ©vcsinden 2012

  Posing in front of the 'self-timer' on my Drax machine, warm amongst bright sunlight on the carpet of leaves above the bridle-way.

About rosehips - the last of the magical autumn harvests, with a recipe for rosehip syrup, is new on Muddypond's faery-tale blog
'Wolf Moons and Muddypond Green'

 

 

 


   December 6th 2012    Wanderlust - seeking old english magick in the almost South West .....  
 

    Rat stone among the pillars of St Andrew's Church, Castle Combe ©vcsinden2012I don't know exactly what it is about faeries, but they can't help being curious. Very curious. Even the minutest of magical sprigs have wide, enquiring eyes (see portrait at left by Lucie Attwell!).
.Call it a meddling streak if you will - but the faere-folk must see things for themselves and are rarely content to stay in one place for long, be that place never so wonderful ....    

  That being so, this one went a wandering south-westwards, and thought you might like to share a little of what she found ...

Castle Combe in Wiltshire on a deserted December day ©vcsinden2012

  
   Said to be one of the prettiest villages in England, Castle Combe in Wiltshire, nestling in its valley is remote and untouched by time.

   A market square with old inns, manor house (now a hotel)- a little main street lined with cottages meandering downhill past the tea-shop to the river, and a fine stone church, with a cheeky rat up amongst its pillars (see above)  is about the sum of it. A fine place to explore on a cold winter's day when human folks are huddled by their fires!

  Castle Combe isn't so very a far-away-flutter from Bath, where the Yuletide preparations are coming on a-pace...

Bath Abbey in December ©vcsinden2012
Dinosaur rescue - Bath ©vcsinden2012
Bath Abbey and Christmas Market ©vcsinden2012

Bath Christmas Market on Abbey Green ©vcsinden2012

 

      There, all about the vast Abbey and sheltered by the great tree on the Abbey Green is the busy Yuletide market, twinkling with stars and smelling of cinnamon and mulled wine.

      Strange mortals were about in the dusk - making magic from a ball of crystal and taking their dinosaurs home, complete with brown paper wrappings .....
        Bath Christmas Market ©vcsinden2012

Bath - crystal magician ©vcsinden2012
Bath - crystal magician ©vcsinden2012
Has the faery-juggler met 'Indi' the Indecision Faery
from Brian Foud's 'Good Faeries/Bad Faeries'  Pub 1998,
or did Mr Froud meet the faery-juggler?

  
And on the fourth day ...  making my way homewards -
the great faery cathedral of Stonehenge stands sentinel in the frosty light .......  reminding me of this   -

On the fourth day God said - "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night;
and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth:" and it was so.'

Stone Henge in December light ©vcsinden2012      

 

 

 

 

 
   December 21st 2012   
       ... For the shortest night, Yule lights, Winter Solstice - carols and bells ...

Headcorn Handbell Ringers at Sissinghurst in December ©vcsinden2012
'Joy to the World' .... Headcorn Handbell Ringers peal out at the Sissinghurst Castle Christmas market.

Part of the Yuletide preparations this year found me preparing a little 'Ogham Tree' - a magic tree, dedicated with thanks to the wild ones of the forest. Decorated first with tiny rounds cut from fallen branches of the trees themselves, which have been drilled, tied with a red ribbon and their Ogham name sign burnt onto front and back.

 

 

 

Ogham decorations_Beith - Birch ©vcsinden2012
Ogham decorations for Yuletide - Ivy - Gort ©vcsinden2012

Next, the tree was hung with my entire hand-made silver 'Ogham leaf Collection' from 'Where the Wild Roses Grow'. These leaves are really meant for a necklace - and Muddypond does indeed wear them to celebrate each of the thirteen Ogham Moons. Lastly some wee silver star beads have been added. Bieth (Birch) and Gort (Ivy) are represented above.

Charing - the forgotten Chapel ©vcsinden2012

 Nearby mortal folks partied once more in the hidden Chapel which has stood since before medeival days beside my faery wood. I was sneeking a look through the broken diamond pane of glass as I do, when who should rush out of a side door but a strange old fellow wearing a scarlet suit and ringing a bell which I think he must have borrowed from the handbell choir! Enough to frighten anyone away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Us Magics now, we prefer
to make our Winter Solstice revels in even more enchanted places -
here, close to the stroke of midnight, waiting and hoping that the Lord of Our Wildwood will join us in the snow.

The little page boys are from Arthur Rackham's illustrations 'The Sleeping Beauty' pub:Heineman 1920

 

 

   December 31st 2012   
      ......  Goodbye old year, such memories ... leaving you with a mid-winter treat ...

.

    If it's possible for you to get to London before the end of January, and you feel in need of a large dose of faery to keep you cocooned during the darkest nights - Muddypond recommends Matthew Bourne's new and very original ballet - or as he calls it - 'dance theatre' at Saddlers Wells.

Good fairies (yes, believe it).
Photo by Spiros Politis - from the programme.
'And they lived happily ever after' - guarded by faeries in the beech woods.
Set & costume design - Lez Brotherston

      Two wonderful hours of gothic faery saturation - faeries showing wit and spirit , dark, darker and darkest. 'The Sleeping Beauty' set to Tchaikovsky's familiar score but awash with deliciously wicked magics and much dark-skullduggery in an unexpected plot.

Faeries, ever alert against the threat of evil Carabosse.
Photo published in TNT magazine - no credits.
Programme cover:
design & print John Good

  A perfect ending to an enchanting year. Or if you haven't yet had the pleasure - a perfect beginning to 2013!