I’ve been away for far too long, but it’s time I made a return and actually made an effort with this blog. Sorry, I’ve been so busy with my book blog and writing novels. I’ve published one novel and in December I’ll be publishing the second novel in the series. I may or may not have mentioned time, but I moved house in late July too and it left me very unsettled, mentally and physically. I think my hips and back have finally recovered and my mental health is fine, so long as I get my medication on time.
This image comes from the Fyrnsidu Facebook page, and the painting is by Bottocelli.
In Fyrnsidu belief this weekend ends the Eostre season with Blostmfreols, the flower festival. It’s a new holy day and for a discussion of the theory and history behind it, I direct you to the Larhus Fyrnsidu page linked to above.
For other pagans this weekend is the fire festival of Beltane, and also a time of May pole dancing. The May Day celebrations are separate in origin and history to Beltane festivals. Beltane is assumed to be ‘Celtic’ in origin, whereas May Day and May pole dancing in supposed to be more Germanic. It all got mixed up by Victorian antiquarians who were desperate for anything they could claim as prehistoric leftovers. The ribbon dances around May poles are Victorian in origin.
The festivals celebrate the burst of life that usually accompanies the beginning of May, even if it’s a bit chilly at the moment, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to get another downpour later.
May Day, the public holiday, has a different origin, in workers strikes and demands for shorter working days, paid holidays and safer working conditions.
All these are valid reasons to celebrate this weekend.
I’m going to Spirit of the Marsh Festival tomorrow with a friend. It’s a weekend festival in Lincolnshire of talks, workshops and music, from Friday until Monday morning. Day and evening tickets are available. I particularly want to go to a talk by Pete Jennings about medieval elves. I intend to sample the wares of Veganic Kitchen too.
On Thursday my fruit and veg delivery came with some plants I’d ordered. Green Futures Grimsby is a local social enterprise, growing and supplying fruit and veg to local people, selling plants at a reasonable price and providing work experience to the socially disadvantaged. They’re good people who extend me credit. I ordered a few different plants but only the broad and french beans, two sweet peppers and a pack of pansies arrived. They were out of runner beans and something happened to my tomatoes but they will be delivered with my next order.
I planted them all out this afternoon, hopefully they should bed in and I’ll have a selection of veg later in the year, and some pretty flowers for now. The tree seeds the Woodland Trust sent me are coming on nicely in their tray, I’ll have to pot them on soon. The sunflower seeds I was given at the Abus Coritani Ostara ritual in March are starting to come through in their pot, only two of the five at the minute.
In other gardening activities, I turned my compost bins. I have three garden bins, cheap ones from Poundstretchers, that are collapsible. When I got them I put some holes in the bottom for drainage and fill them with garden and kitchen waste. Every six months or so, when the waste has composted down to about half, I tip one of the bins into another and start refilling the empty bin. I have two bins three-quarters full and one with a layer of stuff I pulled out of the front garden this afternoon so I could plant my pansies. There are potatoes growing in one of the full bins, probably from an old potato that got thrown out last year.
I’m not the greatest gardener but I get by.
Have a good weekend.
It’s official. We’ve reached the full moon in April and Easter has begun. Different people celebrate for varying amounts of time. I think I’ll keep my Easter decorations up until May Day.
We had some lovely weather over the weekend, up into double figures. There were the first BBQs of the year (I smelt them from a distance) and I ate in the garden.
Today I’ve had a bit of a tidy up in the back garden, dressed my alter with fresh flowers from the from garden and planted some sunflower seeds in a pot to get them started.
Nothing exciting but it words for me. Going now, out of spoons.
Blessings, and all that, to people who celebrate. I don’t.
I went to a ritual with the local druid and pagan group yesterday, it was short and sweet, and followed by coffee in the cafe. There was mini eggs and mead, and a little gift of sunflower seeds and felt bunnies.
We got heckled by a passing Christian who wanted us to know that his prophet had risen, presumably from a Sunday morning lie-in. I’m being facetious, of course. I know for Christians it’s Lent. It was very rude of the heckler to try to impose his beliefs on us, we were doing no harm and in a public place.
The place in question was Julian’s Bower, a turf maze in Alkborough, Lincolnshire, that overlooks the confluence of the Trent, Ouse and Humber. The weather was windy and there were bursts of heavy rain on our way there, but the wind dropped once we started and the rain held stopped in plenty of time for the ritual.
I enjoy going to these rituals, not necessarily because they resonate with me, but because it’s nice to get out and meet up with like-minded people. I find the format a little too generic; casting circles, calling elements and directions, and some of the references are clearly made for the American market. It can throw me right out of the mood when I’m in the Lincolnshire countryside listening to the rustle of birch leaves and blackbirds, and the call to the south is about turtles and volcanoes. I can’t get back into the feeling then, because my brain is picking apart the references.
My beliefs are rooted in the land, sea and weatherscape around me. Yesterday they were calling on the directions and elements for protection, and ignoring the Humber, a powerful wight, right there in front of us. I tried to apologise and add the wights of the rivers to the ritual in my head.
I also have a problem with calling the vernal equinox ‘Ostara’. It is derived, via modern witchcraft, Wicca, etc. from Grimm, who derived it from the German word the Grimms claimed for April. Call the vernal equinox the vernal equinox!
Ostara is slightly related, linguistically, to Eostre (variations on this spelling exist) but in the wrong month! The Spring Equinox always falls in March – Hrethamonath, not April – Eostremonath. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Naming a festival after one goddess in the month of another goddess is disrespectful. The honouring of Eostre doesn’t start until the full moon in April and lasts as long as you like. I’ve been reading a bit from the Fyrnsidu website, and they suggest May Day as the end of the period honouring Eostre.
I have written about this before, here.
I will return to this subject at an appropriate time, next month.
I was asked yesterday, by a respected member of Lincolnshire’s pagan community why I chose the Norse path. I had to correct him straight away. Why do people always assume heathen = asatru? I told him my relationship to the land is paramount and that the Anglo-Saxon period attracted me from a young age as part of my obsession with history. It all just fits together. I am sure there are some Heathens who wouldn’t consider me heathen because I don’t necessarily worship the ‘major’ gods, but screw that.
I know, I’m not keeping this blog up to date at all. However, I have a legit reason for that. It’s cold, wet and generally manky and I’ve been focusing on studying for my MA, and haven’t been out anywhere. It’s quiet here today, if I ignore the snoring dogs and the whirr of the heating system.
Last Sunday I took a trip with a friend to Alkborough, where, from Julian’s Bower, a turf cut labyrinth one can see the confluence of the rivers Trent, Ouse and Humber. It is a very special place, and I’ve written about it before.
I did take pictures but I can’t find them right now. I’m having problems sending them from my tablet to my laptop. I’ll figure it out eventually.
After visiting Alkborough we went to Water’s Edge in Barton-Upon-Humber for a coffee, picnic and duck feeding. The wild fowl are starting to pair up and get aggressive with each other. It was very interesting and I recommend a visit if you’re in the area. It’s free to go in and the food is yummy. You get a good view of the Humber too.
Last Saturday was Imbolc for those who follow the eight-fold wheel of the year. I don’t. The weather isn’t getting any better, and the bulbs I planted are reluctant to put in an appearance. Some of my flowers have been blooming all year. The only sign that spring is on the way is the lengthening days. I’m waiting until Easter before I celebrate anything.
Better go, the studies call me.
Tonight is the longest night, dark and cold. I’m wrapped up warm in my pjs and fleece dressing gown with my crochet. I’ve been watching iPlayer while crocheting but my fingers were aching so I stopped. There are quite a few programmes I need to catch up on. I’ve been in bed most of the day.
Afternoon, faithful but often disappointed by my lack of content, readers.
I’ve just got back from my weekly sewing group and we’ve started on the Christmas crafting. Yep it’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to gluttony and gifts. Before that we have Halloween though and of course in the pagan community it’s ‘Mabon’in a week.
I do not celebrate Mabon; the name ‘Mabon’ has never been associated with the autumn equinox, it is the name of quite an obscure god appropriated by early members of the witchcraft tradtions as a festival name in the 40’s and 50’s. There is no reference to celebrations for the autumn solistice in any survivng Anglo-Saxon or Continental Iron Age literature, that I kniow of. That being said, September is called ‘Haligmonath’, christianised to ‘Harvestmonath’, by Bede in his Ecclisiastical History. It’s a holy harvest month; the grain harvest is long over, what we’re bringing in now is the fruit – apples and pears, blackberries, rosehips and sloes. The fruit of the orchard and hedgerow. The stuff that stored, pickled, made in to jams and steeped in alcohol provided a source of fruit through the winter.
Next weekend I’ll be celebrating that harvest, thankful for the fruit that my ancestors survived on and thankful for the free food I find as I take the dogs out for a walk, or go for a stroll myself. I’ll be with a bunch of druids and pagans who have a different religious calender to me; we each will find different meaning in the same celebration, each as valid as the other.
If I don’t call Mabon ‘Mabon’, what do I call the autumn equinox?
Nothing. Well, the autumn equinox, I suppose. But as a celebration? To me it doesn’t have a name. Haligmonath is the name of the month, a time to celebrate the fruits and last harvests. I might choose to celebrate it all month or I might choose to celebrate on a specific day, or I might do both. Joining other pagans in a festival is a bonus and I’ll take a different meaning from it than my friends who are druids or who are exclectic pagans, or who are Christo-Pagans.
There’s room enough for us all to find our own meaning’s and to use whatever name fits.
My weekend ‘to do’ list:
- Forage cooking apples, eating apples, brambles (if there are any left), sloes.
- Learn how to make use of rosehips; forage rosehips.
- Collect firewood if the rain stops long enough for them to dry out.
Best be off.
I’m spending today at a craft and gift fair trying to make a little bit of money. I’m going to spend the time writing and reading when we’re customer free. I’m hoping we’ll get loads of customers though because I’m ridiculously short of money. I prey Ing, Frijja and Nehelenia bless our enterprises.
The local pagan groups are having their Lughnasadh rite today. It’s out in the country somewhere so I can’t go even if I was free. I hope they have a good day.
In other news, I went to a local authors event yesterday to network and pick up tips. I also got given 4 books to review. Best be off, the fair’s open.
Edit: Lammastide, evening edition
I’m back from the fair, had tea and then had a read to settle my frazzled brain; I actually managed sell enough to cover my table fee. My family came to the fair and raided our stall. We also donated a few bits for my nephew’s Lifestyle Challenge raffle next weekend. He’s trying to raise money to get a new bench for the fishing pond. Good luck to the boy.
Anyway, this evening I’ve been reading other people’s Lammas/Lughnasadh posts and I’ve been thinking. Most people write that it’s the festival of the first harvest (Lammas that is; Lughnasadh has a different origin which I’m sure a Brythonic polytheist could explain better than I). Lammas comes from ‘loaf mass’ and there’s much to-do about the grain harvest.
Some of those writers clearly do not live in agricultural regions. Lincolnshire is very agricultural with urban islands on the north and south coasts and in the centre at Lincoln. Harvest started a month ago, they’re bailing straw already. It’s late this year too. The variety of wheat has changed in the last century or so and the growing season has been extended by new varieties and the changing climate.
Gardeners, either at home or on allotments, have also been harvesting since late May, depending on the crop. I got mine in late and I’ve still been harvesting regularly for at least two weeks. Which reminds me, the garlic is out and drying on the windowledge, I’ve had two or three strawberries a day for the last week, my peas are still cropping but they’re slowing down. Luckily the green beans and runner beans are taking up the slack, starting yesterday. Against my expectations I actually have cucumbers growing. Still waiting for the tomatoes though. The salad leaves just keep on giving. Since poverty and all that, I’ve been thankful to my deities from the first moment I started harvesting because food grown means less to buy (and I recommend sugar snap peas straight off the plant for breakfast).
Times, they be a’changing; most people are oblivious to plants and farming, so the focus of Lammas has become more flexible, in my observed experience. Which is why many now celebrate the ‘harvest’ of achievements etc. for the year. It’s great to see people’s achievements; I’m proud to say my three youngest cousins have received their Bachelor’s degrees this summer, and I’ve been accepted on an MA course. I’m considering declining it though, because I’ve found one more suited to me that I’ve applied for and I’m waiting to hear from. I’m not getting ten grand into debt for something that’s not right for me. My sister is also looking at Masters courses, and my first two novels are being read by critical friends to help me improve them. Never know, this time next year I might have got them published 😀
Back to my point? Did I have a point? I’m not sure; too tired to think straight. I think I’m rambling at this point and you should draw your own conclusions.
Good night, have a lovely summer.
Poh-tay-toes, boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!
Honour to you Ing, Bringer of Peace and Good Seasons, for full bellies and fresh food from the Earth.
I’ve just emptied my potato growing bag for the first earlies I planted in spring. Not a huge harvest but theyll keep me going.
My peas and beans have started to flower so hopefully I’ll be harvesting them in the next few weeks. I’ve been taking salad leaves for the last couple of days. My strawberry plants are flowering and putting out new runners, which I will be carefully cultivating to get more plants. I’m very excited about my pear trees; they seem to be thriving this year and I should have four or five pears to harvest.
Also, meet Hubert, birthday dragon and house/garden guardian.
Cute little begger, ain’t he?