Thursday, April 27, 2017

We Have Brought the Summer With Us..

"May doll, maiden of Summer,
Up every hill and down every glen,
Beautiful girls, radiant and shining,
We have brought the Summer with us."

I shared a lovely version of this song before, Samhradh Samhradh by The Gloaming which I encourage folks to go listen to if they have not heard it yet. 

May your summer be full of bounty, beauty and plenty of sunshine! Beannachtaí na Bealtaine oraibh go léir/Bealtaine blessings to you all!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for April: Veneration

This is my second post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, April's subject is Worship. The Roundtable asked:
"Which Gaelic Gods do you Worship? Do you worship your Ancestors or otherwise participate in Ancestor Veneration and related practices? What about the Gaelic Heroes? The Fae? How long have you Worshiped them? Who came first? Last? Second? How did you establish your relationships with them, and how important is that relationship to you? How integral is that relationship to your spirituality? Your religion? Your every day life?"
As far as my own personal practice goes, I tend to shy away from the term "worship" ; while perhaps just a semantics game, I associate worship with coming from a place of grovelling or fear. This might be just a holdover from my Christian upbringing. Instead I would like to think that my devotion comes from a place of hospitality and respect, so I prefer to use "honour" or "venerate" in my approach to the Gods, Spirits and Ancestors.

My relationships with The Three play a central role both in my faith and in my daily life. At our hearth shrine I do a small devotional every morning with an offering, prayer and candle lighting {kindling} and do another small one in the evening with a prayer and extinguishing the candle flame {smooring}. There are special dates in which I honour specific individuals and during certain activities I will make offerings and ask for blessings as well.  

The Gods

In general I honour all the Gods of the Gaels, however, there is a handful of deities that I am especially devoted to, whom I call "household deities". My relationships with them are pretty much all different from each other, some being stronger in certain seasons or when I am doing certain activities. Some I have actively sought out, while others it seems that they have "tapped me on the shoulder".


 From the best of my memory, Brigid was the very first Goddess that I did any research on and try to summon back when I was first exploring Paganism. For quite a few years my approaching her was limited to Imbolc and some petitioning, and it wasn't until after I started delving into Celtic Recon that it started to go beyond that. That was some time ago and her along with another Goddess below was the first that I became devoted to. As time went on I eventually became one of her flamekeepers, which I have been doing for two or three years. During every cycle I make offerings to her and of course at Imbolc and Latha na Caillich. For my own life I feel that she oversees keeping of the home, healing, protection, relationships and women's fertility/sexuality.


Prior to subscribing hard polytheism I honoured a generic "Mare Goddess", whose faces included Macha, Epona and Rhiannon. So, my relationship with Macha continued on once becoming a Gaelic Polytheist and became deeper, richer. I have always had a great love for horses, so a part of my devotion to her is to do my part to end horse abuse and slaughter. Corvids are also my buddies. During Lughnasadh and Michaelmas I make special offerings to her and for myself she aids in divination, sovereignty, harvests, justice and protection.


Besides honouring a "Mare Goddess" as an eclectic Pagan, I also paid homage to a generic "Antlered Woodland God" {think Herne or Cernunnos,}, so when I came across info about Flidais for the first time my interest was piqued. After doing a wee bit more research I made some offerings to her and have built the connection over time. Besides deer and cattle, I also associate robins and foxes with her. During Bealtaine and prior to doing wildcrafting or going out in the bush I will make offerings to Flidais. For me she helps as a catalyst with Nature Spirits, and also helps with environmentalism, bushcraft/wildcrafting. lust/sexuality, and beauty.


Having a keen interest in plants and herbal healing, it was only a matter of time before I tried to establish a relationship with Airmed. She plays an essential role in all of my gardening, working with plants, and all healing {both emotionally and physically}. Being someone who has faced abuse I felt a strong connection with her own story. I associate bees with her and therefore is an especially sacred pollinator. Offerings are made to her on Midsummer and during any herb harvest and working with plants. 
An Cailleach

This is the one Goddess out of the group that I definitely feel was "lurking in the shadows". By the time she popped up I had already heard about her, but was quite intimidated to try to connect with her. After some really intense dreams and other happenings, I was certain who was there but was quite bewildered as to why she was there. For about a year I did more research and asked other Gaelic Polytheists about their experiences with her. It wasn't until after I felt that I learned as much as I could that way that I apprehensively tried to make a formal connection {more about that can be read here.} To be honest she still does kind of intimidate me, but at times she can have a warmth about her. My connection to her is twofold, being both seasonal and due to my occupation. In the winter months she is ever present, and I make special offerings to her during Samhain, Yule, and Latha na Caillich. I also turn to her for insights on how to deal with the hardships of aging, as I work in long term care with the elderly. 


Ancestor reverence is something I practiced prior to becoming a Gaelic Polytheist, but became even more important to me when my maternal grandparents passed away. When still living in North Bay I would regularly go to the small family cemetery to visit. Now that I am a few hundred miles away, I have been scoping out the various Irish memorials here in town to leave offerings. I do keep an Ancestral shrine in my home where I make regular offerings, and hold special rituals dedicated to my Ancestors during Samhain, Remembrance Day, Christmas, and on  certain birthdays and anniversaries.  

Spirits/The Good Folk

Besides being a polytheist, I am an animist as well, so I essentially believe that everything has a spirit. To me trees have spirits, the stones do, animals do, and are just as important as humans. As well, I believe that sometimes beings may be attached to a certain place, sometimes a body of water or piece of land or a building. These spirits {nature spirits/genii loci/The Good Folk} I feel are due the same amount of respect as the Gods or Ancestors and give them the same hospitality, although my approach to them is sometimes different

On top of keeping indoor and outdoor shrines, there were certain places where I would leave regular offerings and act as a steward of sorts. These were generally places that I would wildcraft from and do rituals at. As of right now I am still getting know my new area and the spirits that are here. So, a work in progress. ;) 


If you are a Gaelic Polytheist, why not join us at The Gaelic Roundtable? I am looking forward to the posts of the other contributors!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Recommendation Round Up {for April}

cover of Lugh na Bua/Lugh the Deliverer, artwork by Sean Fitzgerald
This is a new installment on the blog that I hope to keep up with on a monthly basis where I share different media and events that I come across that I think might be of interest to other Gaelic Polytheists. There is quite a bit for the month of April, so I hope that you all enjoy.

First up is a video from Lora O'Brien's Youtube channel that some folks might find helpful:

Very recently there were two books published that I can't wait to add to my shelves! A Cottage and Three Acres is written by Colette O'Neill of a lovely blog called Bealtaine Cottage. The book is about Colette's journey of taking a barren piece of land in Ireland and making it a little piece of paradise. The book can be purchased straight from the author If you are into Permaculture, gardening, sustainability or Irish folklore, you will love her blog, so check it out.

The second book is Lugh na Bua/Lugh the Deliverer written by Cathal Ó Searcaigh & Seán Ó Gaoithín and illustrated by the very talented Sean Fitzgerald. The book is described as "Two new tellings of a Donegal Folktale concerning the troublesome Balor and Lugh of the Tuatha Dé Danann". The book can be purchased directly from the illustrator {for a limited time, until his 60 copies sell}, from the publisher or on Amazon. Make sure to check out Sean Fitzgerald's blog too, which besides his artwork he shares beautiful photos of his garden and sacred sites in Ireland. 

There have been a few really great posts from some of the blogs I regularly haunt. Cailleach's Herbarium explores the fairy faith and animism in Scotland in their most recent post Who the Hell is Sidhe?Anna from Sweet Delicate Thing writes about her findings and take about an Irish Goddess in Resurrecting the Irish Gods: Flidais, Morgan Daimler from Living Liminally sets some things straight in Misinformation and Truths About the Morrigan, and Jane Brideson of The Ever-Living Ones shares her adventure to a dolmen in Co. Roscommon, Ireland in Walking the Path of the Ancestors.

And finally, there are some upcoming events happening in my neck of the woods that I urge folks to go to if they happen to be in the area! From April 28th to 30th the Irish Language Immersion Weekend is going on here in Kingston Ontario Canada, which is by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Harp of Tara/Kingston Branch. From May 12th-14th the Spring Rain Weekend is happening a wee bit further from me in Centre Wellington Ontario Canada, featuring Irish music, dance and language workshops. 



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

If Whiskey and Maple Syrup Were Lovers, They Would be Soul Mates

It is now past sugar maple tapping season in my neck of the woods, and by the looks of it, it wasn't too bad of a year. Members of my better half's family have a sugar bush that they tap, but unfortunately due to timing, weather and work I was unable to go out to help. However, we did still get lovely, super-dark maple syrup from them. It just might be the best maple syrup I have ever tasted! Hopefully next year I can go play out in the sugar bush.

We have been making good use of our maple syrup and a pairing that I discovered online is maple and whiskey. Both loves of mine, so I figured why not marry the two? Below is a drink recipe that was inspired by the maple whiskey sour recipe from Cookie and Kate:


6 tablespoons whiskey {I used Ballantine's Finest Blended Scotch Whisky}
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons maple syrup
sprinkle of cinnamon


Shake in lidded mason jar {or cocktail shaker} with ice and then poured into a glass, and then sprinkled some cinnamon on top.

There are some other recipes I came across that I want to try:

Maple Whiskey Cider
Maple Whiskey Mojito
Maple Old-Fashioned
Maple Whiskey Glazed Salmon
Whisky Maple Cookies
Maple Whiskey Pound Cake
Vanilla Cake with Maple Whiskey Butter Cream

Other related posts that might be of interest:

Wonderful Maple Syrup: Some Lore & Customs
Apple Spice Whiskey




Monday, April 17, 2017

First Batch of New Plant Friends!

Some lovely friends were nice enough to stop by Richter's for me on their way home from Toronto over the weekend and grabbed me some of the plants on my wishlist for my new container garden. In this hoard I got columbine, foxglove, Jacob's ladder, lady's mantle, lemon balm, lily-of-the-valley, meadowsweet, periwinkle, sweet woodruff, lemon & wild thyme, and wild ginger.

Most of the seedlings I have started are doing really well, too. I can't wait to add even more to my plant herd!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

An Apartment Dweller's Quick Tip for Polytheists: Shrines

General Shrine to the Gods

If you are a polytheist that either doesn't have a connection with any specific deities or find yourself living in an area outside of the region that is associated with your deities, having a general shrine to the gods and the land(s) they are from might be a way for you to go. 

While I do have a larger shrine dedicated to our "household" deities, I do not live in any of the lands of the Gaels and I wanted to have a shrine to honour the rest of the gods of the Gaels. Mine is on a small shelf on the wall with various doo-dads, gifts and artwork from Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. 

Indoor Shrine to Nature Spirits/The Good Folk

Many apartment dwellers find themselves short in the outdoor space department or if they are lucky enough to have outdoor space, it may be lacking privacy. While perhaps not ideal, having an indoor shrine to the nature spirits is an alternative option. 

Even when I had an outdoor shrine in previous homes {and I do intend to create one in my balcony garden}, I have maintained an indoor nature shrine for quite a while as well. It is private, safe from pillaging and protected from the elements. Again, mine is on a small shelf on the wall and has different treasures and offerings, and a photo from around the original Unfettered Wood.


So, just a quick post of a topic which will likely end up being a series of posts as I come across new challenges and solutions as a polytheist now living in an apartment. 



Ideas and Projects for Starting a Container Garden

As I get my own container garden planned and started I have been going over some resources that I thought might be helpful to others who are thinking of starting their own container gardens. Many of the ideas shared here can easily be used for the tiniest container garden to a rambling garden in the ground. I hope that you find this list inspiring! 

The Basics

Rituals, Charms & Spells

Attracting Wildlife

A Critter Hotel
Balcony Gardening for Pollinators {Balcony Container Gardening}

Themed Gardens

Alpine Trough Garden {Balcony Gardener}
Aromatherapy Container Garden {Aromaceuticals}
Container Gardening for Vegetables {The Farmer's Almanac}
Container Water Garden {HGTV}
Creating an Ancestor Garden
Gardening for Cats {Dirt on My Hands}
Growing a Cottage Garden in Containers {New Pro Containers}
Grow Your Own Perennial Herb Container Garden {Garden Therapy}
Make an Herbal Container Tea Garden {Livin' in the Green}
Moon Garden for Your Balcony {Life on the Balcony}
Ogham Garden {most likely only doable for those with land, but it could be possible using smaller varieties of each tree, shrub and plant}
Plant a Dye Garden {Mother Earth Living}
Plant a Medicinal Herb Garden {Homestead Lady}
Plants for a Poison Garden {Gardening Know How}
Plants for a "Ye Old Peasant" Garden
Shade Container Gardening {Gardening Know How}
Tabletop Woodland Garden




Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for March: Journeys

This is my first post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, March's topic being Journeys

I am going to keep this particular post short and sweet, as I don't know how terribly interested most of my readers would be to hear me natter on about how I became a Gaelic Polytheist and much of what I believe is already peppered on this blog.  So to keep this to the point, I will address each individual question posed. 

Tell us a little bit about your practice; what kind of Gaelic Polytheism do you practice? Is it Historically Oriented or Eclectic?

My faith is of a reconstructionist nature, so I try to be as historically accurate as possible, while keeping at least some modern "sensibilities" in mind. This of course is always a work in progress, and thankfully there are quite a few wonderful online resources and folks to talk to, to get information and feedback from.

As far as my practice goes, it is part of my everyday, from small daily devotions, to observing the cross quarters and other days of importance. I honour the Gods of the Gaels in general and have more "personal connections" with a few Goddesses that have been fostered over time. As well, I honour the Ancestors and Spirits {both of place and nature}. 

Are you a member of an Organization like OBOD or another one?

Right now my only interaction I have with other Gaelic Polytheists is online, but hopefully now that I am in a bigger city that might change. The one group that I formally belong to is Nigheanan Brìghde Order of Brighidine Flametenders {a Celtic Polytheist one}.

Do you follow the Irish, Scottish, or Manx beliefs- or maybe a combination of the three?

I draw inspiration from Irish, Scottish and Manx cultures, although it would probably fair to say that Irish has the largest influence. With my fairly recent move to Kingston Ontario Canada, I am hoping to benefit from the strong Irish cultural roots here, by visiting important sites and delving into cultural events and specifically the Irish-speaking community.

How did you wind up at Gaelic Polytheism? What drew you to our faith and made you start practicing?

My journey towards Gaelic Polytheism is probably a fairly typical one, being from a line of a couple of different Christian faiths. As a teenager I was drawn to eclectic Paganism and practiced variations of that into my 20's, and as I got older I started to explore more structured systems. At one point I was practicing a mix of quasi-Celtic Reconstructionism and Traditional European Witchcraft, which eventually lead me to finally hunkering down and taking up Gaelic Polytheism. 


Well, that's it! If other participants have any questions about my practice/journey, please do feel free to ask.I look forward to reading about the journey of others and thanks for allowing me to participate!



The Gaelic Roundtable

There is a new online community-building project called The Gaelic Roundtable for Gaelic Polytheists to participate in. The mission statement says:
"This project is meant to benefit the Gaelic polytheist community threefold:
To encourage the growth and development of a community which is able to support a myriad of viewpoints without mortal conflict;
To encourage discussion between community members, as well as the critical evaluation of materials available to that community;
To create a cohesive resource for those searching for information and practical applications of Gaelic Polytheism in the modern era."
One of the ways to participate is to post on monthly topics, this month being Journeys. I like the overall idea behind this project, so I will be taking part as well. If you are a Gaelic Polytheist, you should check out The Gaelic Roundtable and see if it interests you as well!



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dinner & a Movie for Saint Patrick's Day

Spotted Dog {recipe below} by Dennis Wilkison

Although not one of the cross quarter days, many Gaelic Polytheists observe Saint Patrick's Day to celebrate Irish culture, whether it would be doing rituals and making offerings, going to a gathering to listen to music, or perhaps getting together with loved ones for a meal featuring traditional Irish recipes. 

While there are quite a few events going on in the city that I now call home, I will be working over that weekend, so besides a small ritual, I think my celebration will be limited to dinner and a movie. Below I will share some suggestions of recipes and movies that I think are quite nifty and encourage others to try.



Lately for background noise I have been really enjoying "fireplace" videos while I am doing house work or cooking in the kitchen. Here is a nice peat fire one filmed Donegal Ireland to put on if you want something different from music or a movie with your dinner:


Lá fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh/Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!


Friday, March 3, 2017

In the Belly of Garden Planning Madness

Japanese Ghost Fern & Wild Ginger
In my neck of the woods Spring has been teasing us with peaks of her face, and her inevitable emergence is just around the corner. With this, I have been really missing my old garden. I miss every single plant, and just about every single critter that would visit my garden. To distract myself I have been planning a garden for our new home. 

I did not bring any of our outdoor plants with us, however I did bring quite a few containers along, some of my favourite pieces of garden kitsch as well as the stones that were used in our previous outdoor shrine, and of course my seed collection. Otherwise I am starting from scratch. 

One of the things I am going to have to figure out is what other types of containers to get. There are all sorts of options out there, and while I tend to gravitate towards the pretties, they are generally more expensive and not always the most practical option. I am thinking of getting a few storage totes, as I have used them to grow things in before and they hold up. I could always gussy them up with some paint, and this would still make them a more affordable option. Plus, I have seen plans online on how to make them insulated for overwintering perennials, which I am keen to try out. More about that to come in a future post, I am sure.

Our balcony faces North-North East, and while it is sheltered and quite large, I don't think it makes sense to grow vegetables on it. I may grow some greens and will definitely grow some herbs, but what I want to focus on are some of my favourite shrubs and trees, woodland plants and plants that pollinators love.

Meadowsweet, loved by the bees and me.
My old hardiness zone was a 4 a or a 3 b and my new one is a 5 b or a 6 a, so it is quite a bit warmer here. That said, when growing perennials in containers, I really should be focusing on plants that will survive about two zones lower than the one I am in. Thankfully the plants that I am really drawn to fit the bill. 

There is already a small gaggle of seedlings starting on the window sill of our office/craft room including a few different types of columbine, Japanese primrose, Fuji Blue balloon flower, cardinal flower, and foxgloves. But there are many more that I hope to put in our new garden.

Below is a list of all the pretties that I am hoping to cram into our new garden:

Trees & Shrubs
  • Heather
  • Juniper
  • Rowan/Mountain Ash
  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Cilantro
  • Cosmos
  • Dill
  • Lobelia
  • Nasturtium
  • Poppies
  • Scarlet Runner
  • Mini Sunflowers
Perennials & Biennials
  • Allheal
  • Ballon Flower
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Catnip
  • Columbine
  • Cowslip
  • Creeping Jenny
  • False Solomon's Seal
  • Foxgloves
  • Ferns {various}
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • Jacob's Ladder
  • Japanese Primrose
  • Japanese Ghost Fern
  • Lady's Mantle
  • Lemon Balm
  • Liatris
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Lungwort
  • Mayapple
  • Meadowsweet
  • Mints {Peppermint & Spearmint for sure}
  • Mosses {various}
  • Mugwort
  • Perriwinkle
  • Pincushion Flower
  • Sage {Garden}
  • Sea Holly
  • Sedums {Autumn Joy, Hen & Chicks for sure}
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Thymes {Woolly, Mountain, & Lemon for sure}
  • Turtlehead
  • Wild Ginger
  • Woodland Poppy
  • Wormwood


If you have any container gardening hints that you would like to share, please feel free!



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Beannachtaí Na Féile Bríde Oraibh!

There is no denying that there has been a lot of tension, pain and anger for many around the last few months, to the point of being palpable. Unfortunately I don't think that this is going away quite yet. 

For those of us who are exhausted, ragged, and raw, Imbolc is a great time to do some purification and remedial work. Brigid can help heal our wounded hearts and grant us strength, and her day is one of hope and renewal.

Here are a few previous posts that might be of interest to give you some more information and ideas:

Should you wish to participate in something that is more ongoing, there is a lovely project that recently started called Tending the Flame of Hope, which will be ongoing over the next four years. It is promoting the act of daily flame keeping and devotionals:
"Every day, until (at least) January 20, 2021, we'll be lighting up a candle to keep the flame of hope alive, physically and in our hearts. We kindle it with the intention to bring hope to all, and we encourage you to share the pictures we take of the candles. There may be additional intentions: Liberty, Joy, Unity... but always, "Hope" is where the kindling begins."
~Tending the Flame of Hope 

If you are a devotee to Brigid {or wish to be} and are not already a flamekeeper, there are many groups dedicated to tending to her flame. Two such groups Nigheanan Brìghde {a sisterhood that I belong to} and Ord Brighideach International {cells that are mixed, brotherhoods and sisterhoods}.

I have found support and a sense of community in the group that I belong to and I am glad that I joined. 

Finally, I leave you with a lovely video about some of the Irish lore and traditions of Imbolc.

No matter how you may {or may not} observe this time, may Brigid's fire bring you comfort and may her waters be a balm to you. Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde agus Imbolc oraibh/ Brigid's Day & Imbolc blessings to you all!


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lustral Bath Melts

This was my first time making bath melts, and the recipe I used is pretty simple. If you have ever made candles before, you should find making bath melts quite easy. The recipe I used can be found over at DIY Natural, for which I doubled the measurements to get four large bath melts {one could probably be broken up for three baths each}.

I made these bath melts with purification in mind, and just in time for Imbolc. The plants I used are often associated with purification and I added a few extra for overall blessings: birch bark, dandelion leaf, heather flowers, juniper berries, lavender flowers, lemon verbena, rose petals, thyme, vervain and yarrow. I also added peppermint essential oil, for both purification and is great for relaxation.

Really though, there are all sorts of combinations of herbs and essential oils that you could use, whether for magical or mundane purposes. Experimenting is half the fun! 

I ended up using metal candy molds, and I had a bit of trouble getting them out. Next time I think I will use silicone molds. After removing them I stored them in a mason jar in the fridge, just to be sure that they don't get all melty.