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.
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.
The winter blues.
Mostly caused by lack of money. I always have no money but at this time of year it’s even more pressing. I don’t spend much on Yule gifts, limiting myself to £5 per person and only getting for my very closest family and friends, but I do have to post parcels out to people which costs, amd I have to travel to visit people. Also costs. Tomorrow I’m going to Sheffield to see my friend there. She wants to see ‘Rogue One’ and I don’t not want to see it, so we’re going, and then to the Handmade Burger Co. after for dinner. This is an expensive afternoon, even with my student card.
I have plenty of food in, I did a big shop yesterday. Everyone’s gifts have been bought, the kids all have their £10 notes tucked in among the sweets, all but one parcel has been sent. The train tickets are paid for. I’ve put money away to pay my bills next week.
I’ll be okay.
Except, I’ve been refused PIP again and now I have to go through the hassle of appealing. I don’t think I’m up to it. I got the letter yesterday and I’ve been in a slump ever since. I’ve tried to be normal today and get on with my jobs but my back is hurting too much and I can’t find the motivation to even write the letter requesting a statement of reasons.
I’m supposed to be going to see a friend this afternoon but I don’t know if I want to get dressed. Spending the day in my pyjamas seems like an awfully good idea right now.
This post is entirely personal and has nothing to do with my beliefs.
I spent a good hour and a half walking in the woods and fields around the village of Kirmington earlier today, with my friend Nicky. It was only a couple of miles but I managed to find my stick, which I think is going to be my staff for ritual purposes, but mainly it’s a good solid walking stick. It even has a kink at the right place for my hand and fits perfectly.
Anyway, here’s a few of my pictures from today
The arches in the stonework of this church are interesting. I wonder if it was once larger?
But I’m terrible at keeping up a correspondence with anyone.
I’ve been busy with my MA for the last seven weeks and I’ve just handed in my first assessment. I am also broke. That’s normal for me, I suppose, but I wish it wasn’t. Studying is going well amd it’s good to be back in am academic setting even if it is only one day a week. Actually, one day a week suits me, since I end up spending the next day exhausted, sleeping or curled up on the settee crafting. I’m in love with the university library, and it’s great to be able to discuss writing with my peers. I’m hoping to go to a writer’s conference next year. Some of my classmates are going so I should be able to get through it without too much panic, I just have to find the money for the ticket and train fare.
Winter is finally here, we had our first hard frost on Friday. It was great, I love a good frosty morning. Don’t enjoy the cold so much but that’s what layers are for. There’s something clean and cleansing about a hard frost in winter, when the air bites and breath smokes in the clear skies.
I’ve been ill, with a cold. I’m in to week three and I think I’m finally feeling better though I gave people a scare on Wednesday at Lincoln train station. I suddenly lost the ability to breathe, it felt like there was no room in my lungs. Asthma, it’s a sneaky bitch. I have also had my flu jab, because flu is viral hell and I’d rather not get that sick ever again. If you’re in one of the groups recommended to get a ‘flu vaccine and covered by the NHS, I heartily encourage you to get it, not only to protect yourself but to protect those who rely in herd immunity for protection. If you aren’t in the groups recommended to get the vaccine free from the NHS, but can afford to pay for it then I would encourage you to, for the same reasons. We all have a responsibility to look after the vulnerable in our communities and vaccines are a simple yet effective tool in doing so.
We’re in to Blodmonath in the Anglo-Saxon calendar, the blood month or sacrifice month when the herds were thinned to get through winter. It is the final harvest. I suppose it could be considered fitting that Remembrance Day takes place in November, the origin if which should have been the final harvest, the war to end all wars, a day of mourning for the bereaved. Unfortunately, the whole purpose seems to have changed from mourning to militarism. In the early days the parades were made up of grieving families, later, after the Royal British Legion got heavily involved – it is their biggest fundraising event -, as they still are, the parades became heavily militaristic with soldiers taking centre stage. The whole meaning of Remembrance Day has been co-opted in to jingoistic support for war, and the symbolism of the poppy a toy for right wing parties to throw around and bully people with.
The white peace poppy arose in 1933 as a response to what people saw was happening with the red poppy symbol. The Peace Pledge Union has been steadily and steadfastly promoting the symbol ever since. I only heard about the peace poppy a few years ago and I’ve slowly come round to the idea of wearing a white poppy or not wearing any poppy at all.
I was brought up to always wear a red poppy in November and that not wearing one, not donating, was disrespectful to the dead and to those service men and women still fighting. It makes me uneasy to walk past air or army cadets with their boxes of paper poppies ob a string round their necks and collecting tins in hand; both because they are children wearing soldier’s uniforms and I find that sick, and because I still have the urge to donate due to social pressure.
Politicians don’t care about soldiers, they use them to score points off each other. If they actually cared as much about soldiers and their surviving families as they do about poppy symbolism then charities to support them, whether it’s the RBL or Help for Heroes, wouldn’t have to exist.
I’d rather support the cause of peace, and honour the original intention of Remembrance Day: never again.
For more on the PPU and the peace poppy see here.
I’m going to attempt to sleep now since it is 1.41 a.m.
I had to put the heating on yesterday morning.
It’s that in between time when it’s freezing in the morning and the late afternoon but during the day it’s boiling, or at least tolerable. I never know what to wear.
I’ve started my MA at The University of Lincoln. I had my first day of seminars and workshops last week. It’s only one day a week, and one workshop plus one seminar per day, but I’m enjoying it, and it’s exhausting me slightly. It’s all the walking I have to do. It’s only a three mile walk to the train station but once I add in getting from Lincoln station to university and then back home again it adds up. Plus, people all day long, chattering constantly. They don’t seem to understand the concept of silence. The train is bad in the evening, one carriage for all the people leaving work etc. I end up squished, tired, overwhelmed by noise and really grumpy.
Last Saturday I took a trip to Leeds to see the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition at The Royal Armouries. It closed on Sunday so we just managed to see it. The exhibition was called ‘Warrior Treasures’, and ficused on sword furniture found in the Hoard. It was very interesting and there was some basic background information that I needed for my research (my next novel will be set in the late seventh century and the wars between Mercia and Northumbria). Overall though, I think they could have tried for a bit more dept to the exhibition. I did like the structure of the space and the Beowulf quotes, as well as the reconstruction of the damaged artifacts.
A few of my photographs from the visit
In other news, a Lincolnshire Heathens Facebook page has been set up and there is a moot tomorrow. It’s a closed group but easy to join if you send a request. Just search ‘Lincolnshire Heathens’ if you’re in or near Lincolnshire and are interested in heathenry.
The moot details are here:
I’m not a mod or anything by the way, I just think it’s nice that someone is trying to get a community together. There tends to be a lot of isolation and internet only communication among heathens (which I don’t mind, that’s my preferred form of socialising). Local groups are useful even if it’s just to remind people they are not alone.
And now September, the holy month is here,
With the harvest almost in (there’s apples still hanging about out there),
And the nights getting colder,
A fire with friends, a glass (or three) of mead,
At last,the bloody kids will be back at school next week.
How’s the summer treat you? It’s been lovely to me, my milk bottle legs are now an old bruise yellow colour, but my arms are as tanned as they get. France was fabulous, I groped some gods in the Louvre and ate the worlds best quiche, against which all other quiches shall hence forth be measured.
Now that it’s getting into September the apple tree down the road (literally, it’s on the road verge, not even in the hedge) is heavy with fruit and I like apple pie. I need to send the nephew up the tree to get more of them. I could only knock a few out with a stick.
Do you know how to see if an apple is ready to pick? It’s simple, cup the apple in your hand and twist gently. It’ll come away easily if it’s ready but don’t try to force it. Or, hit the branch with a stick, any ripe apples will fall off.
Now I’ve got a dozen apples I’m stewing the with two plums, cut up, a bit of water and some sugar. Cooked until some is pulp but some is still holding together, or whatever texture you prefer.
While that’s bubbling away – on of my favourite smells – make the pastry. It’s a basic shortcrust pastry.
200g plain flour
100g butter (or your preferred alternative)
A little cold water
Breadcrumb the flour and butter, add the salt and sugar and stir in.
Add a little water and form a stiff dough.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
Roll out, make pie.
The actual reason I went out this afternoon was to collect windfall wood for a fire this evening. A friend is coming round with a bottle of mead she bought on her holiday. We will be sampling. The local woodland was a waterlogged field fifteen years ago dotted with a few mature horse chestnuts and some much younger rowens. The Woodland Trust planted it as part of their millennium community woodland scheme. It has since been extended, and in fifteen years I expect we’ll have a more substantial woodland. As it is, the smaller, original woodland is maturing nicely and there’s plenty of wood on the ground, no doubt helped along by the local children playing in the trees. I’ve had two 15 minute foraging sessions this week and I’ve got a couple of bags of wood to burn.
Can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday evening, good company, home made food, mead and a fire.
Have a good weekend.