Monday, April 30, 2012

A Blessed Bealtaine!

Awakening Spring by Luc-Oliver Merson
Now the bright morning-star, Day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves, are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

~Song on May Morning by John Milton

I wish you all a joyous Bealtaine & May Day for my readers in the North and a wonderful Samhain to those of you in the South! :)

I leave you with some music to enjoy:

Tiocfaidh An Samhradh/Summer Will Come {lyrics here}

Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn/We Have Brought Summer With Us {lyrics here}:




Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gifts for Birds

{cross posted at the nefaeria blog}

A couple of days ago I erected a birdie altar for some of my allies and set aside a part of it to represent the feathered folk who visit us in our yard. Food and a clean source of water are always available to them, but I do get a little more ceremonious about it every once and a while.

American Robins eat berries, which of course can be difficult for them to find this time of year. I save most choke and pin cherries in our freezer after harvesting them {as you can see they are still frosty in the photo}. I have heard of people putting out grapes and other soft fruit for Robins too. Leaving out a big bird bath and keeping your yard a good environment for the creepy crawlies they eat are also good ways to make a welcoming environment for them. You can go to this website to see a list to get more ideas: Journey North: American Robins

Both Crows and Ravens are omnivores, so they will eat just about anything. They seem to really enjoy peanuts still in the shell so that is what I will often leave out for them. You can go to & The Raven's Aviary to find out more about how you can make your outdoor space inviting to them.

If you are lucky like us and get all sorts of birds visiting you yard, then leaving out multiple feeders and piles of different seeds is a good idea. Some birds like to eat from the ground while other seem to prefer the feeders. Over the last little while I have gathered scraps of thread to leave out for the birds for their nests. Theresa Loe blogged a great idea on how to place the thread outdoors.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

On the Heels of Bealtaine

royalty free image

With the beginning of May coming next week I have been starting to prepare for one of the cross quarter times that I celebrate, Bealtaine. For me it is a time of merriment and feasting, as well as various rituals and workings.

I did a post a few years back on the nefaeria blog with some information about Bealtaine & May Day which will be linked to below. Over at the Tairis website you can find a two-part article about Bealtaine in Scotland & Ireland as well as an article with ideas on celebrating Bealtaine. Both articles are very well researched and will be linked to below too.

Bealtaine & May Day {nefaeria blog}

Bealltainn Part One & Part Two {Tairis}

Celebrating Bealltainn {Tairis}

Happy Bealtaine/May Day to my readers in the North and Happy Samhain to my readers in the South!



Monday, April 23, 2012

Luis the Rowan

This is a part of Ogma's Tale of Trees featuring Luis, or Rowan. You can see the words here, read the rest of the parts here, and watch more videos featuring other trees over at the Celtic Way's Youtube channel.

{I would also like to add that I am just posting this because I enjoy the tale; I really question the whole idea of a "Celtic Tree zodiac" that was used by ancient Druids as some type of astrology. You can read a good critique of this belief here The Fabrication of 'Celtic' Astrology by Peter Berresford Ellis}



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just a Few Updates

Hello Dear Readers,

I am just doing a quick post to announce some updates and such. I would like to apologize for not answering  comments quicker, I will catch up with those all today!

I have organized some of the writings on this blog into categories of articles and writings, which can be accessed in the Reading section by clicking on the button that looks like this:

I have also added a few new links to different sections on both the Unfettered Wood website and to the blog, which are listed below. I hope that you all find them helpful and enjoyable to go through and read.


Audio & Video

Sources of Information & Inspiration

Folklore & Myth

History & Anthropology

Philosophy & Reflection


and I found an online link to a partial preview for a title previously listed



Monday, April 16, 2012

Be a Royal Stinker!

Sense of Smell by Jan Saenredam, 16th c.
I really don't like commercial perfumes/colognes, so I prefer making my own scents. The mixtures I make are very simple: either vodka or almond oil as the carrier, and a combination of essential oils {I try to use all organic when possible.} I also like using rose water with essential oils to mist on.

Here are a couple of my personal favourite combos:


6 drops patchouli {bottom note}
2 drops oakmoss {bottom note}
4 drops vetiver {bottom note}
10 drops chamomile {middle note}
10 drops angelica {top note}
128 drops vodka or almond oil

'Sweet & Stimulating'

5 drops sandalwood {bottom note}
5 drops patchouli {bottom note}
4 drops geranium {middle note}
1 drop ylang ylang {middle note}
10 drops helichrysum {top note}
100 drops vodka or almond oil

To see a note/essential oil correspondence, check out this website. I also highly recommend the books The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils and The Aromatherapy Garden both by Julie Lawless, to find out more about the use of essential oils, and growing your own plants for this purpose.

Below are recipes for scent combos that royalty from the past have worn, as well as few more old fashioned recipes. Oh, and for apothecary measurements, check out this website.

Cleopatra's Perfume Recipe

Mix essential oils of:
Mix of few drops of each oil to a carrier/base oil and use as a massage balm.

Recipe for Queen Elizabeth I {England}

8 tablespoons of compound water
Weight of 2 pence in fine sugar powder
Boil both on hot embers and coals.
Sun-dried marjoram
Weight of 2 pence of Benjamin

Cordial of Sir Walter Raleigh

Gallon of strawberries
Pint of aqua virtae {brandy}
Let them stand for 4 or 5 days. Then strain them gently out with fine sugar or with other perfume.

The Queen's Perfume

photo source
3/4 drachum of cloves essential oil
3/4 drachum of bergamot essential oil
Drachum of neroli essential oil
Half ounce of musk
Half pint of rose water
Half pint of spirit of tuberose
Half pint of strongest spirits of wine
1 pint spirit of jasmine
1 pint spirit of cassia
Dissolve essential oils in the spirit of wine. Then add other spirits, and once well mixed, add the rose water.

Prince Albert's Perfume

Half ounce of ambergris
3 drachums of musk
2 drachums of sugar

Grind together in mortar and pestle (stone is best!)

Then add:

10 drops of cloves essential oil
20 drops true balsam of Peru essential oil
5 drops of jasmine essential oil or
5 drops of spirit of tuberose

Make into a perfectly smooth paste. Then put into a bottle with 1 quart of rectified spirit of wine. Let it sit for 6 to 8 weeks.

This recipe is from The Household Cyclopedia

Recipes for Cologne Water, from Redwood Gray's Supplement


2 drachums neroli essential oil
1/2 ounce orange essential oil
1 drachum citron essential oil
2 drachums bergamot essential oil
1/2 drachums lavender essential oil
1/2 drachums rosemary essential oil
1 scruple cinnamon essential oil
2 drachums powdered cardamoms
2 drachums powdered balsam Peru
7 lbs rectified spirits

Macerate for 10 days, then distill 6 pounds with a gentle heat.

The Soul of the Rose by J W Waterhouse, 1908

3 ounces bergamot essential oil
2 ounces lemon essential oil
3 and 1/2 drachums lavender essential oil
1 and 1/2 drachums of neroli essential oil
2 drachums oregano essential oil
1 drachum rosemary essential oil
2 drachums vanilla essential oil
10 grams musk
13 pints rectified spirits
1 quart rose water
1 pint orange blossom water

Mix in oils, and dissolve them in 10 pints of the spirits. Then add the musk, and then the waters {mixed in previously with the rest of the spirits}. Let stand for 2 weeks then filter.

Here are a few links to more recipes:


Scents of the Middle Ages

Aromatherapy Perfume Recipes

And finally, here is a video on how to make an organic perfume.



Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Witch Bottle for Household Protection

Last night I crafted this witch bottle, with the intention to draw away harm from the household it was made for. A witch bottle is thought to trick and capture any malignant forces or workings that are directed towards the maker/who it was made for or the people who live in their home.

In it there are sharp items, personal effects, plants associated with protection, ancestral graveyard dirt, sigils to represent each resident {including pets}, and then was sealed with red candle wax. Now all I need to do is bury it on the property in a place where it will not be mistakenly dug up.

I try to do these types of workings on a Saturday of the waning moon; I associate Saturdays with household protection and the waning moon as the perfect time to repel negativity.

There is a great episode on New World Witchery podcast about witch bottles that I encourage folks to have a listen to.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trees in Irish Brehon Law

{cross posted over at the nefaeria blog}

I have been doing more in depth studies of how Brehon Law handled land matters, including the the protection of trees and forest industry. Some of the sources I have seen mentioned are Bretha Comaithchesa {"The Judgement of Neighbourhood"} and Fidbretha {"Tree-Judgements"}. There are other areas that I find interesting, such as bee-keeping and land distribution, which I hope to cover as well.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of information on these topics, so if you have any suggestions of reputable sources or if any of the information I am posting here is flawed, please do let me know. I do hope that you all enjoy what I have found so far.

In a 1976 publication, Fergus Kelly lists 28 trees and shrubs indigenous to Ireland that were listed in the eighth century legal text, Bretha Comaithchesa. The list of trees and shrubs are quartered into four categories of seven: Airig Fedo {"Nobles of the Wood"}, Aithig Fedo {"Commoners of the Wood"}, Fodla Fedo {"Lower Divisions of the Wood"}, and Losa Fedo {"Bushes of the Wood"}. Below is a complete list of each tree and shrub in the respective categories:

According to the article Trees in Ireland in Early Tradition and Place-names by Dr. Kay Muhr, the following features were the reasons for the chosen trees in the "Noble" class {six of the seven, there is no mention of Scots Pine}:

"oak for its acorns and nobility, hazel for nuts, apple for fruit and bark, yew for buildings, holly for chariot-axles, ash for weapons"
The seventh or eighth century poetic legal text Críth Gablach suggests that penalties for illegally cutting down trees or harming them in some other fashion differed, depending on which class the tree fell into. In the case of "Noble Trees", a person would be fined three cows for harming them, whereas with the "Common Trees" one is fined one cow for the same crime. A person could escape legal chastisement though for collecting a "single cauldron's cooking-wood" or a "handful of ripe nuts".

I have seen other supposed penalties mentioned floating around the web such as a person who illegally cuts down one of the "Noble Trees" facing the same punishment as if they killed a chieftain {from the Living Tree Educational Foundation}; in this Yahoo! group there are various penalties mentioned for harming Oaks which seems to originate from Fergus Kelly's article The Old Irish Tree-List {I linked to part of the article above, but I do not know of a link to the full article}.

Again, please feel free to correct me or let me know of any other sources to explore.



Photo Credits

Noble Trees:
Oak, Hazel , Holly, Yew, Ash, Scots Pine, Wild Apple

Plants for the Dying & Deceased

Der Tod by Hans Baluschek, 1895
Listed below are herbs that are associated with death and that can be used in rituals surrounding death. This is comprised of lore that I found in Paul Beyerl's Master Book of Herbalism and Selena Fox's Funeral Herbs and lore that I have gathered from advice of others over time.

As always, please do not ingest any herbs without being fully informed, and under the guidance of a qualified healer.



ACONITE is a VERY POISONOUS herb, and should only be administered by a qualified healer. It has been used to help the dying (at the time of death) transition comfortably to the stage after death. It can be planted on a burial, and used in an incense in ritual. The roots can be placed on an ancestor altar, especially around Samhain.

ANEMONE can be used in a ritual fire after the deceased has past over to encourage reincarnation.

ASPHODEL has traditionally grown on graves and washing the corpse. Gather in a bunch and tie in a red ribbon to aspurge the body in ritual.

BASIL is associated with love and protection, and is excellent to be used in an incense. It is used to help bring dignity and courage to one facing death. Can be incorporated into the ancestors' feast on Samhain.

BAY LAUREL is used for communication with the dead, and is sometimes used in funeral wreaths. Can be used in dishes for the ancestors' feast at Samhain.

BIRCH is often associated with rebirth and reincarnation. Blessings for the deceased can be written on birch bark and can then be buried or burnt with the corpse.

BLUEBELLS are planted on graves to bring peace and blessings, and may also be used to decorate the altar at the funeral, or on Samhain.

CHERVIL can be drank to aid one to in rituals of communing with the dead.

COMFREY is a helpful herb to help one get over the loss of a loved one. Excellent to plant in the garden in memorial of the deceased.

CYPRESS is associated with endings. Can be used to ritually bathe the body of the deceased.

ELDER is an excellent wood for a cremation pyre, or a sprig of elder can be buried with the deceased. Elderberries are excellent to decorate the funeral altar, or the altar at Samhain.

FRANKINCENSE can be burned at the funeral ritual, or in ritual while communing with the dead for purification, and spiritual transformation.

GARLIC is used for protection, and can be put on a grave, and cooked in dishes for the ancestors' feast at Samhain.

HOLLY is associated with resurrection and renewal, and can be buried with the deceased or used to decorate the funeral altar.

IVY can be planted at a grave to celebrate the life of the deceased and to encourage rebirth.

LAVENDER should be planted in memory of the deceased either on the grave or in the home of a living loved one to bring peace.

LEMON BALM is associated with immortality and happiness, and can be drank in a tea to lift spirits of the mourning.

LILY can be planted on a grave to represent resurrection.

LOTUS pods can be used as an incense burner to aid the soul seeking reincarnation.

MANDRAKE root can be buried with the body to protect the spirit and send it safely on its way. It also can be used to decorate the ancestor altar at Samhain.

MARJORAM can be planted on a grave and used in the ancestors' feast at Samhain.

MINT can be used as a strewing herb to bring joy to the mourning.

MISTLETOE can be buried with the deceased for protection.

MUGWORT can be drank by the dying to gain inner sight.

MULLEIN can be used to cleanse the body of the deceased.

MYRRH was once used in embalming, but can now be used as an incense at the funeral to bring healing, purification, and protection.

OAK is a tree of strength, and is an excellent pick to plant in the memory of the deceased.

PARSLEY can be strewn on the path of where the body is being transported, and can be planted at the grave site for good luck in the after life.

PENNYROYAL is used to bathe the corpse to assist in the soul being reborn.

PERIWINKLE is a herb of immortality and can be used in a funeral wreath or used to decorate tombs. Often used in the passing of children.

POMEGRANATE can be eaten at the ancestors feast on Samhain to represent rebirth.

POPPY can be used in funeral wreaths or planted at a grave site to bring restfulness to the deceased.

ROSEMARY can be thrown into grave sites, carried on funeral processions, or burned as an incense. Can be used in the ancestors' feast at Samhain, especially to commune to deceased friends.

ROSES represent love and purification, and are used in funeral wreaths and planted in memory of the deceased.

ROWAN is associated with protection. The berries can be buried with the deceased or used to decorate the funeral and ancestor altar, and can be planted on a grave site.

RUE can be burnt for karmic completion.

SAGE can be used as a smudge for purification, and ingested when communing with the dead, and to bring wisdom.

SANDALWOOD is an excellent purification incense that can be used during the funeral ritual.

TANSY was once used for embalming. It can now be used to aspurge the temple and the body of the deceased, and used to decorate the ancestor altar.

THYME makes an excellent ritual cup to drink before communing with the dead, and can be used in a ritual incense or bath for purification.

VIOLETS are appropriate flowers for the graves of children.

WILLOW is said to ease the soul at the time of death if it is planted by the deceased in their lifetime. Willow baskets can be used as offering containers for ancestors.

WORMWOOD can be used as an incense for transformational healing for the mourning, or to bring insight to the dying.

YARROW can be grown on graves in in the gardens of the mourning to bring protection and healing.

YEW is associated with immortality and endings, and was often planted in graveyards to protect the bodies of the deceased.



Friday, April 6, 2012

Some Thoughts on Offerings

photo by Dominic Alves
Since my post on daily rituals I have had a few people email me and leave comments asking about what type of offerings I make, so I thought that I would do a small post on the subject.

In both my faith and craft offerings play a central role, and for me it is just as important to make sure it is a proper offering as it is to give it. This often means doing some research as well as experimenting.

Generally when we give gifts to loved ones, we put some thought into those gifts and making offerings is not much different. For example, I would never make an offering of alcohol to local nature spirits, as it may be seen as offensive, so instead I might give flowers or maple syrup. When making offerings for multiple recipients, you can either make individual offerings, or one that would be appreciated by all that the offering is given to; in the case of our daily offerings to our Deities, Ancestors and the Genii Loci, we often give honeyed water.

Every time I go wildcrafting I also make offerings, sometimes to each individual plant and sometimes to the small area that I am wildcrafting in. On occasions like this I think that it is especially important to make sure that whatever I am offering will not upset the local environment and is always biodegradable.

Making offerings to Ancestors might be the easiest to figure out if you knew them while they were alive. It could be their favourite food or drink, making a donation to their favourite charity, or even maintaining their gravesite.

Some of the people who contacted me are also Celtic Reconstructionists and were wondering about offerings to the Gods. Our home is dedicated to specific Deities within the Irish pantheon, so the offerings we do make to Them are tailored to each Deitiy. We also leave out offerings for the whole pantheon too, which is often good quality whiskey, mead and favoured foods. {There are a few wonderful online resources about making offerings as a Celtic Reconstructionist which I will list at the end of this post.}

Besides making sure that offerings are appropriate and thoughtful, the last important thing I like to keep in mind is quality. If the offerings are going to be something I make, then I will put my best effort into it. When it comes to ingredients and such, I will try and use local, organic, or items we have grown ourselves.

Well, I do hope that has answered some questions and if you folks have anymore, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment. Also, please do check out the links below:

Calendar Feasts and Customs by Francine Nicholson {some good ideas for offerings on the feast days for Celtic Reconstructionists}

How to Create a Genius Loci Profile by Sarah Lawless {a great way to really understand your local nature spirits and deciding what types of offerings to make}