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Illustration above - Arthur Rackham from 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens'

 

♫    Music to dream by ....   ♫

'All the World is Green'
Tom Waites
From the Album 'Blood Money' 2002

(minimize new youtube window & listen while you browse)

   

 

    May 5th 2017
             ........ the Summer is-a-coming in ...... dawn rising at Whitstable ...

 

           

                                                                                               video and photographic material ©vcsinden2017May hat for the Sun up on May Day - Dead Horse Morris, Whitstable ©vcsinden2017


  

   May Day early risers could watch 'sun up' lulled by the softest of waves over the pebbles of Whitstable beach a few days ago. Here you'd find Dead Horse Morris, bedecked in may blossom, clashing sticks and singing for the first sun-rise of summer.

    After dancing to the waves, they bid goodbye to the impressively pro-active Lord and Lady Mayoress of Canterbury and all set off for Whitstable's picturesque little fishing harbour and danced to the oyster dredgers. Wharves would soon be busy as the oysters, crab, whelks and sea-food restaurants of Whitstable have their own fame.

    A nicely traditional, low key Beltane celebration, accompanied, and at times directed by the Jack-in-the-Green himself.


Whitstable harbour fishing boats at dawn ©vcsinden2017

Whitstable May 1st dawn rising – Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2017 Whitstable May 1st dawn rising – Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2017

Whitstable May 1st dawn rising – Dead Horse Morris ©vcsinden2017

 

 

 

   April 24th 2017
             ........ a MUST VISIT for anyone following the magickal fae pathways of Britain .... 

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017

The Pitt Rivers Museum - Oxford

Unparalleled .. Enchanting .. Astonishing .. Atmospheric .. all that and MORE!

  Artifacts of folklore, human skill and magick - half a million of them, displayed to seem as they were from the museum's conception in 1884. Far more than you can begin to take in at one visit - to study any one of the cabinets at the Pitt Rivers Museum would take a lifetime!

  Allow the sombre setting, black cabinets and dim lighting to simply soak onto your bones. Such anticipation for what you may discover. No installations here. May it please stay this way forever.

Raven mask, worn by a shaman. The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017
Native Indian medicine bag. The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017

Left: Shaman's mask or headress, British Columbia. Collected in 1891

Right: Medicine bag and all its contents including 28 small bags of herbs and charms. Canada

Hag stones. The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017
Amulets against the evil eye. The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017

 Above Left: Hagstones or Holystones - Europe                       Above Right: amulets against the evil eye - Asia

 

Nigerian witch hunter's costume 19th century. The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Above: Breathtaking ... this mask and costume collected in Nigeria 1914 has to be one of the highlights of my visit.  
The wooden mask portrays a crocodile and was worn by a hunter in a 19th century witch finding cult.

Collage of labels. The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.  ©vcsinden2017

The displays retain their original tiny handwritten labels. You might need a magniying glass to read some - so perfect!

 

 

 

 

     April 4th 2017
             ........The Kurentovanje .....  (Part 2)

      Below: a flavour of the Kurentovanje in video and slides, concentrating on the traditional folklore side of the festival rather than carnival - for that's another story!

     

          

                                                                                 video and photographic material ©vcsinden2017

           There's a fine Museum at the Castle of Ptuj, overlooking the little town, high, but not so high that a Fae creature can't fly there from the streets below!   On the ground floor of the castle is a fine new room dedicated to the folklore of the Kurents and other characters who made up the old 'Casting off of Winter' ceremonies in this area of Slovenia.

Ptuj, Slovenia – Castle Museum –  historical Kurent mask ©vcsinden2017 Ptuj, Slovenia – Castle Museum – photograph of early Kurent mask ©vcsinden2017 Ptuj, Slovenia – Castle Museum – historical Kurent mask ©vcsinden2017

    Kurent costumes from the 50's and older photos from the fine display in the Museum at Ptuj Castle

          Older costumes on full-sized models, turn of the 20th century photographs, and plenty of history and explanation make up a display that you could linger over for hours. 

        It's so good to know that the little processions in many of the rural villages still go out to the farmers to chase away winter. The Rusa (a character reminiscent of our Kentish Hooden Horse) still calls for luck for the plough horses, and the Picek (cockerel) still blesses the all important chickens and the production of fine farm eggs!

Ptuj, Slovenia – Castle Museum – 1930's Kurent and Plough blessing

A village photo from the 1930's with the plough - Castle Museum Ptuj

Ptuj, Slovenia – Castle Museum – Kurent mask ©vcsinden2017

A wonderful old Kurent mask - just look at his feathered ears and his teeth!  Castle Museum Ptuj

 

Ptuj, Slovenia – the early spring Kurent Festival ©vcsinden2017
Ptuj, Slovenia – the early spring Kurent Festival ©vcsinden2017
Costumed, the town turns out in force
to enjoy the atmosphere and - welcome Spring!
Ptuj, Slovenia – the early spring Kurent Festival ©vcsinden2017
Ptuj, Slovenia – the early spring Kurent Festival ©vcsinden2017

 

     

     March 20th 2017
             ........The Kurentovanje .....  a Slovenian tradition to welcome the Spring ...  (Part 1)

Ptuj on the River Drava, Slovenia ©vcsinden2017

Picturesque Ptuj spanning the River Drava

      Each year, some 40 days before Easter, the pretty town of Ptuj in Northern Slovenia plays host to the Kurentovanje.

     Ptuj - pronounced 'Ptoowee' began life as a stone-age settlement on the banks of the vast River Drava. A fortified castle was built on its central hilltop and, with many changes over the centuries, still dominates the unspoiled streets and ancient buildings of the 'Old Town'.

       Close to the border with Austria, the town has continued bravely through invasions, intrigues, and fires, keeping the old intact, whilst building for the future on its outskirts.

        And what of this 'Kurentovanje' you may well want to know?  Well, firstly you must meet a 'Kurent' - or two.

A fine pair of Kurents at the Kurentovanje, Slovenia  ©vcsinden2017
Long-tongued 'Kurents' sporting handkerchiefs belonging to their ladies'as battle favours.

 

     These fine figures, intimidating in their thick sheepskins, long tongues (like ties) dangling from vast, heavy masks, have been documented in the area from the 1850's. They are rural entities, from the surrounding villages - where they would once (and many still do) go from farm to farm.

    There they make mischief with the noisiest cacophony possible, to chase away the Winter cold and welcome Spring, bringing luck for the new crops.

Kurentovanje, Slovenia  ©vcsinden2017Kurentovanje, Slovenia  ©vcsinden2017

Note the varied masks, each Village can be identified

   Kurents from different villages can be identified by their masks - some have feathers and coloured ribbons, some cow horns - there are many variations. All proudly sport enormous metal cowbells, some all around the body, some only on their backs.

   Kurents are not solitary creatures, they like to run as troops. They weave, run, duck and jump with their unique Kurent gait, shakin' their booties and jangling those bells to make a strident hullabaloo! It must be exhausting!

Kurents frighten away Winter in the town square of Ptuj at Kurentovanje, Slovenia  ©vcsinden2017

Feathered Kurents, jumpng and shaking the bells in the town square. No wonder Winter is in retreat!

    This week Muddypond is off to Oxford to attend a conference about Winter Festivals. On return, she will finish a video so that you can witness the sound for yourself, and much more of the folklore of the Kurentovanje.

 

 

    

       February 13th 2017
           .....looking towards the Spring - and all that ....

Daphne scenting the air in mid February ©vcsinden2017.

Hazel catkins in mid February ©vcsinden2017

 

IN FEBRUARY

The birds have been singing today,
And saying, "The spring is near!
The sun is as warm as in May,
And the deep-blue heavens are clear."

The little bird on the boughs
Of the sombre snow-laden pine
Thinks : ' : Where shall I build me a house,
And how shall I make it fine?

' For the season of snow is past ;
The mild south wind is on high ;
And the scent of the spring is cast
From his wing as he hurries by."

The little birds twitter and cheep
To their loves on the leafless larch ;
But seven foot deep the snow-wreaths sleep,
And the year hath not worn to March.

JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS  c1880

   
     Photos
(©vcsinden2017) taken at Goodnestone Park, Kent whilst on a quest for snowdrops. Today the sweet smelling Daphnes (top), fine Hazel catkins and scented bright witch hazels surpassed the promised 'February's Fair maids'.

 

Witch hazel scenting the February air ©vcsinden2017
Copper witch hazel in mid February ©vcsinden2017

 

 

     January 29th 2017
           ..... it's that time again    ....

January snowdrops at Challock Church ©vcsinden2017

            This picture was taken today at Challock Church - the snowdrops are most definitely getting ready for the February Snowdrop days!
            Have a look on my 'Kentish Snowdrops 2017' page for opening days and times at Challock and many, many more lovely places to visit.  To find out more about snowdrop myth, history and magic try 'Snowdrop magic'.

 

 

    January 26th 2017
           ..... quiet crafting and contemplations at the Cheddar Gorge ....

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset - ©vcsinden2017
A fleet footed and woolly 'Gorge Goat' seemingly clinging to sheer rock!

     Somerset's Cheddar Gorge is a place this writer - Wood Guardian & fae Muddypond Green - has long wanted to visit. I believe the village of Cheddar is renowned for four things:   Cheese,  The Gorge,  long haired Goats  and crowds of summer visitors.
    Being January visitors were few and the wintery long hair of the goats was much in evidence!

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset - on the Black Rock nature trail ©vcsinden2017

Walking at the National Trust's Black Rock Nature Trail in a hard frost

      Silent crafting-meditating bear ©vcsinden2017It was the chance of a long-weekend crafting retreat which drew me over to Somerset.  Learning new skills, free-form knitting, felting, silent concentration, guided meditations and time to walk in the amazing countryside all part of the agenda. Not to mention joining with like-minded friends both old and new.                 

Silent crafting- ©vcsinden2017

A meditating bear and a basket of crocheted rainbow

 Medieval stone style©vcsinden2017

Medieval stone style en route

 

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset -rock strata  ©vcsinden2017
Geology

Silent crafting-free-form knitting ©vcsinden2017

Blue free form


Winter hawthorn  - Huath

Silent crafting- ©vcsinden2017
Gone walking

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset -winter hawthorn ©vcsinden2017

Tiny frost-topped moss and ferns cover the stone walls

Silent crafting- Margaret's basket©vcsinden2017

Margaret's basket

   This wonderful weekend was facilitated by Karen from 'Creative Contemplations'. 
She says - and I quote from her website

'We (also) like to introduce silence for a period of the sessions. The length of silence will be agreed at the start and will be by concensus. We believe the sense of harmony and peace that will arise from a group of people silently creating together will be very powerful. '

It was!

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset - ©vcsinden2017

Cheddar Gorge Goat, Somerset - ©vcsinden2017
This one looks knittable to me!

 

January 1st 2017

New Year card - vintage

Vintage German postcard to wish you a very happy 2017