Monday, July 10, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for July: Lore

This is my fourth post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, July's subject is Lore. The Roundtable asked:
"How important is lore to your practice? What emphasis do you place on it when reconstructing, reviving, or generally creating your faith? do you lean more towards one sort of Lore compared to another? Or do you treat them all equally? How often do you turn to Lore when you’re stuck or don’t know where to take your practice? Do you look at it for answers? And finally, what is your favorite piece of Lore?"
For myself, lore is very important and in many ways it is a foundation on which I base both my faith and my practice on; it is both a cornerstone and a compass of how I practice my spirituality and shape my worldview. Of course it is not the only influencing factor, but it does indeed play an important role.

I think that when one initially gets into Gaelic Polytheism, one of the first sources we turn to is myth {specifically Irish}; this can create some extra challenges as there are often contradicting stories within the various bodies of mythology. Talking about this can be a whole post unto itself, so I will just say that above everything else that this type of lore has to offer, it is most important to me in how I understand and interact with the Gods.

By and large, most of my practice is inspired by living traditions, or customs that were still in effect in the recent past. This is especially true for when it comes to devotionals and other types of rituals, as well as folk magic. More often than not, I am still left to fill in the gaps with some research, but to me that is half the fun.

Over the last couple of years I have been getting into more regional lore, specifically from around Co. Carlow and in certain spots in Scotland where some of my ancestors come from. As well, I have once again taken up interest in family lore, of both my blood ancestors as well as that of my partner. A lot of families seem to fancy themselves having other-worldly connections, whether it be with maidens that shape-shift into white deer or being descendants of Selkies. ;)

There is no one piece of lore that I can claim to be a favourite, although I do have a few resources that I frequent to access it or to get an idea of where to look. I have gathered a reading list {although it needs to be updated!} and an e-book & app resource list of titles that I have found especially helpful. Below are a few other sites that I regularly haunt for the same purpose:

Tairis- The Big Book List & Articles
Mary Jones
Tobar an Dualchais
CELT-Corpus of Electronic Texts
Sacred Texts
The Carmichael Watson Project

At the end of the day, whether the lore comes from living traditions, commonly told stores, or from a folktale found in the dusty pages of some obscure book, to me it is still important that it is tempered with gnosis, both personal and communal.

But, more on that at a later time.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Midsummer Frolics

This midsummer season has been a little bit different for me than others in the past decade or so, where I have not harvested as many herbs and such as I have in the past at this time of year. I am more focused on still getting to know the land, the local spirits and the flora and fauna.  

That is not to say that I haven't harvested anything, as I have been wildcrafting quite a bit, going out with my foraging buddy whenever we get the chance to make our way to the fields and forest. 

On Midsummer Day, after getting up before sunrise to greet the sun and make offerings at home, I went to some of my favourite spots in my area. After "paying the rent" to the spirits and some wildharvesting, I came back home to prepare some food for an evening barbecue that we were having with some friends to celebrate the solstice.

That night we stayed up later than we should, ate more than we should and probably drank more than we should as well. While paying for it the next morning, it was still worth it. ;)

Last week I headed off to the country for a few days to stay on my partner's family farm to both help with some work in the garden and to frolic in the fresh air and sunshine {and under the moon}. The property was at one time 240 acres, but has been parceled out to different members of the family. The better half's dad lives in the original farm house, which is 180 years old {!!!}, surrounded by a mixed forest, hay fields and some wetland. Pretty much paradise.

The weather was not the most agreeable to getting work done, so I will be heading back there again soon to help finish up the projects that have been planned for this year. So far we have got the hardscaping almost complete for a pollinator perennial bed, finished up a small succulent rock garden, and got some wood staining done. I am also working on convincing the father-in-law of creating a little wildlife habitat, which I think he is just about sold on.

And finally, this past weekend I went with some friends to a local art festival, Artfest, which we had all went to for the first time last year. The festival was held in beautiful City Park in downtown Kingston, and there were so many vendors there.

I ended up running into a fellow North Bayite, Josee of Northern Smittens. I recognized her booth right away and was so happy to see someone from my previous hometown. We have friends in common, and I have purchased her lovely mittens before, but other than that we don't personally know each other. Even still, as if we were old friends, we chatted and she filled me in on the recent goings-on up there and such. That is just how folks from up North are, warm and friendly. I highly recommend everyone checking out her site! Her mittens are so unique and cozy and she has a new line of other pretties too, including cushions and blankets.

The rest of our time there was basically one continuous sensory overload, and I ended up coming home with another pair of mittens from Josee, a couple of small stone cast pieces from Douglas McDonald, and some shortbread and preserves.

While I wanted to bring more home with me, my budget would only take me so far. So, being the tourist that I am, I took pictures of artworks that did not make it home with me.

{artwork a part of the Wandering Gnomes series Morgan Jones}
{image of an Icelandic horse by Morgan Jones}
{artwork a part of the Party Animal series by Morgan Jones}
{artwork a part of the Party Animal series by Morgan Jones}
{artwork by Kevin Joyce}
{fused glass poppies in antique window by Diane Proulx}
{Fairy Ring Toadstools and other pretties by Jayne Ayre}
{stone cast artwork by Douglas McDonald}

{the little woodland mouse is one of the casts by Douglas McDonald I went home with}

{Greenman stone cast by Douglas McDonald}

{the other little stone cast by Douglas McDonald I came home with, the beehive}

{more stone cast pieces by Douglas McDonald}
{Purlin's J's Roving Yarn...I could basically buy everything in this cute little truck}



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hoarding Some Pretties {Artwork by Sean Fitzgerald & Douglas MacDonald}

{Ethniu & An Túr Gloine ar Oileán Toraigh by Sean Fitzgerald}
Recently I have accumulated some artwork by two really great artists to help fill in the nooks and crannies of my crafting and shrine area. Oh, and there is a new book too!

Yesterday I went to a local art festival {post about that forthcoming} and one of the artists that I was most stoked about was Douglas MacDonald. Some of my friends have his lovely works on their walls, so I pretty much danced a jig right up to his booth when I saw that he was there. 

{Some of the pretties at Doug's booth yesterday}
And what a nice guy! He is very approachable so him and I had a bit of a chat about Scotland {his hometown is Glasgow}, art, the local scene and events coming up. I only purchased two smaller items yesterday as I don't know how well my walls would hold up to heavier concrete pieces {old plaster walls + nails + heavy artwork = potential disaster}. 

{Little bee hive}

{Little woodland mouse}
I look forward to catching up with Doug again at Fantasy in the Forest, a two weekend artshow on both July 15th & 16th and in October from the 7th to the 9th in Perth Road Village. I will probably go to the one in October, which will give me a chance to stash away my pennies to buy more pretties.

Go check out his artwork, visit him at an upcoming artshow or at his studio in Phillipsville Ontario.

A little while ago I also got a few prints and a book from Sean Fitzgerald, which I am sure many other Gaelic Polytheists are familiar with. His artwork is nothing short of stunning, and he is also very down to earth. It is nice to see talented folks who are not the artsy-fartsy snooty types. Heh.

The quality of the prints are great! I felt sad about trimming two of them, but I had spots picked out when I purchased them and they wouldn't have fit otherwise. Eventually I want to frame and mat all of them.

{Balor's Banquet & Winter Solstice}

{Danu Mháthair Bandia an Tuatha Dé Danann}
I also got the book Lugh na Bua/Lugh the Deliverer, written by Cathal Ó Searcaigh & Seán Ó Gaoithín and illustrated by Sean Fitzgerald. There are both English and Irish/Gaeilge versions of the story and the illustrations are of course beautiful {the prints I got are in the book as well}.

I got the book to support the artist and as an opportunity to torture my poor hubby with my attempts of reading Gaeilge aloud for a bed time story. One unexpected surprise was how large the print in the book is, and I have been bringing it to work for one of my elderly clients to read to me as she is a lover of folklore and myth, but has a hard time reading smaller print, even with her glasses on. So, she has been enjoying this book as well!

Lugh na Bua/Lugh the Deliverer
Sean's shop can be found here, and while you are at it, go check out his awesome blog too.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Midsummer Blessings

May your days be sunny, your nights be festive and may you enjoy all the beauty of the season!



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Counting Crows

"One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a wedding,
Four for a birth,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told,
Eight for heaven,
Nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own to sel'. "

So I wonder what 18 will get me?

This is one of many versions of a corvid counting rhyme that plenty of us grew up with. The photo above was taken during a tour of the very depressing Kingston Penitentiary; this murder of crows shot up all of a sudden while the guide was talking about the killing of a guard that happened in 1948 {his parents had immigrated from Ireland}. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

An Anatomy Garden

I will admit to being one of those nerds that daydreams about having theme gardens, and one of those themes is an anatomy garden. Essentially a garden with plants that either resemble parts of a body or have it in their names {common or Latin}, and sometimes they are both.

There are so many potential candidates, so beyond my favourites listed below, I encourage people to search for other options should you be interested in having your own anatomy themed garden!

Borage {Latin borro for "rough hair"}
Comfrey {aka "knitbone"}
Herb-Robert {aka "storksbill"}
Mandrake {Mandragora officinarum roots often resemble a human form}
Orchids {from Greek for "testicle"}
Snapdragon {seed pod looks like wee skulls}

Previous related posts:



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dom-fharcai Fidbaide Fál/The Scribe in the Woods

"Dom-fharcai fidbaide fál
 fom-chain loíd luin, lúad nád cél;
 h-úas mo lebrán, ind línech,
 fom-chain trírech inna n-én.
Fomm-chain coí menn, medair mass,
 hi m-brot glass de dingnaib doss.
 Debrath! nom-Choimmdiu-coíma:
 caín-scríbaimm fo roída ross."
"A hedge of trees overlooks me;
A blackbird’s lay sings to me {an announcement which I shall not conceal};
Above my lined book the birds’ chanting sings to me.
A clear-voiced cuckoo sings to me {goodly utterance}
In a grey cloak from bush fortresses.
The Lord is indeed good to me:
Well do I write beneath a forest of woodland."

~ Dom-fharcai fidbaide fál/The Scribe in the Woods {Author unknown, found in an early 9th century manuscript margin. Translation from Gerard Murphy's Early Irish Lyrics}

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Flowering Rowans, Naughty Crows & Other Friends

A couple of days ago a friend and I went for a little walk around our neighbourhood to get an idea of what grows wild around here. I find that this is the perfect time of year to identify plants and trees once the leaves are nicely developed and flowering is underway. We were not disappointed by all the options of potential free groceries, remedies and folk magic supplies.

Upon moving south one of the things that I lamented was not having very many rowan trees around me anymore. However, I guess my fear was misplaced because there are a whole bunch in my immediate area. 

Right now the rowans are in full bloom, and while their flowers are stinky, I think that they look glorious. All I can think of is how many berries will be laden on those trees come late summer/early fall. 

A laneway just around the corner from our building proved to be especially fruitful with with rowan, apple, elder, staghorn sumac, crabapple, hawthorn, honeysuckle/woodbine, raspberry, and cherry. There were pretties growing lower too, although I don't think I would trust to harvest anything from ground level in that spot.

Thankfully throughout our immediate area there are spots safer to harvest from and so far we have found dandelions, lemon balm, peppermint, motherwort, daylilies, comfrey, shepherd's purse, curled dock, rhubarb, chickweed, yarrow, cleevers, stinging nettle, pineapple weed, columbine, garlic mustard, milkweed, catnip, solomon's seal, creeping charlie, chamomile and lily-of-the-valley growing aplenty. 

On our way back to our building we were greeted by a pair of crows that were up to no good. They stopped their antics long enough to peek at us before resuming their domestic dispute over a found robin's egg.

We have a wildcrafting day planned for early next week, so in the meantime we are dreaming of what lovely thing we can concoct with the things we find. I saw a yummy-looking roasted golden beet pizza recipe that calls for garlic mustard pesto... {!!!}.



Monday, May 29, 2017

Recommendation Round Up {for May}

This is my second monthly recommendation post, where I share different media and events that I come across during that month that I think might be of interest to other Gaelic Polytheists. There is a lot for the month of May, so I hope that you all enjoy.

The ladies over at Story Archaeology podcast released their third installment on the series called Circling the Táin, this installment being called The Birth Pains of Ulster. Before giving this episode a listen, you might want to listen to the first two episodes, 1. The Quarrel of the Two Swineherds {or Where it All Began and 2. Portents and Prophecies. I am a fan of both the blog and the podcast, and highly recommend it for all GPs or anyone into Irish myth.

There are two nifty web resources that I came across for the first time this month that deal with the history of Ireland. First up is a Irish Historic Towns Atlas, that features towns that are monastic in origin, Viking in origin, and quite a few others. The second website is geared towards tourism, but has a good amount of history and lore on it as well. Ireland's Ancient East is a pretty good looking website.

While an older article, Irish Central recently republished an article about North America's only official Gaeltacht {Irish-speaking community}, which I am more than happy to boast is just outside of the city where I currently live. Speaking of which, there is an annual event held there every summer that celebrates Irish language and culture. If you happen to be in the Kingston, Ontario area at the end of June, you should come check it out!

The Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada is a three day festival hosted by Cumann na Gaeltachta and Oireachtas na Gaeilge, held from June 23rd to 25th. You can find out more at the event website and purchase tickets over at this site.

There are two books that I have recently added to my wishlist, and although they are not really new releases, they are new to me. Food and Drink in Ireland is a "multi-disciplinary collection of fourteen essays explores the collection, cultivation, consumption and culture of food and drink in Ireland from the beginnings of settlement in the Mesolithic to the present". By the looks of it, this book is probably similar to Domestic Life in Ireland, which is a fantastic resource and read.

The second book is Seanchaidh na Coille / The Memory-Keeper of the Forest, which is a collection of Gàidhlig/Scots Gaelic literature from across Canada. It is described as, "A unique resource, it covers a wide range of territory and time, allowing Gaels to express their own opinions about a broad set of themes: migration, politics, religion, family life, identity, social organizations and more." I can't wait to get this one as well.

Someone from an online GP group that I am a member of found a book that is now available online for free; Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales is one of those books that tends to be on all of the recommended reading lists posted by Celtic Reconstructionists. It can be found on

In the same group, someone else shared this video about Saint Brigid's Cursing Stone {you may need to go to the host site to watch the video}:

Harold Johnson and the Cursing Stones from Howard Goldbaum on Vimeo.

There were quite a few other good videos that I came across this month!

Tomás Ó hAodha does a quick intro to mythology of the Tuatha Dé Danann:

Tale Foundry does another quick intro, this time on all six groups of invaders found in Irish myth:

And to round off the Irish mythology theme, here is a short animated film by Damian Byrne called Cú Chulainns Lament:

I came across a Kate Masters lecture called Megaliths of Orkney and Shetland that is definitely worth spending an hour to watch:

Lastly, Kelden is starting a video series on Scottish witchcraft, and in the first episode the Scottish witch trials are explored:

May was a great month around the blogosphere too! Unsurprisingly, Bealtaine was a topic that came up a few times, including in posts such as May Day & Butter Stealing Witches on The Fading Year, The Folklore of May-Day/Bealtaine on Ireland's Folklore and Traditions, and Bealtaine, Water and Sun-Enchanted Dew on The Ever-Living Ones.

Over at the Primal Heart blog, the author explores devotional practice with An Dagda in a two part series: Devotional Practice with The Dagda and Learning: Devotional Practice with The Dagda.

On Living Liminally there is a great post The Influence of Folk Etymologies, Allec on Child of the Storm shares a lovely Prayer for Protection of the Land, Cailleach's Herbarium shares a yummy floral jam recipe in Preserving the May, Roaringwater Journal shares a lovely spring-time walk in We Welcome the Hope That They Bring, and Occvlta shares a good how-to in How to Burn Incense.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Gaelic Roundtable for May: Devotionals

{Artwork Corax by Stephanie Lostimolo}
This is my third post participating in The Gaelic Roundtable blogging project, May's subject is Devotionals. The Roundtable asked:
"Does your Worship include Devotional acts? If not, why not? If so, why? Who is the common object of these Devotionals- or who do you find yourself performing them for the most often? Do they have a structure, or is it whatever feels right? Do you record these devotionals? What acts do they usually include? How often do you practice them? Is it daily? Weekly? Whenever the fancy strikes?"
I feel that I have touched on a lot of this already in last month's post, so for this month I will share devotionals that have become a staple within my own practice. A few I have come up with or adapted myself, and many others are created or adapted by others.

It may be noticed that one of the biggest sources of inspiration is Carmina Gadelica, and it will also probably be noticed that some of the versions I am sharing are not adapted. The adapted versions I have previously shared online I will linked to, and for the rest, the originals will be shared.  

In general I work within an outline so I don't get sidetracked when doing my devotionals, but as I have become more comfortable in my religious practice I will do spontaneous devotionals as well. 


Upon rising in the morning I light a candle, make a small offering and say a prayer. Sometimes I will add to that prayer, do divination or do a meditation. 
Togail an Teine/Kindling the Fire
Toirt Taing/Thanksgiving
Urnaigh Èirigh/Prayer at Rising

Before bed I will relight a candle for an evening prayer and sometimes a meditation. 
Smaladh an Tein/Smooring the Fire
Coisrig Cadail/Sleep Consecration


While a little more than monthly, every 20 days I will participate in a Brighidine flamekeeping vigil and a water blessing. I am not comfortable sharing the ritual outline as I don't feel it is mine to share, however, some of the prayers I use can be found below under the "Prayers and Praxis" section.

Another monthly practice is a new moon ritual, which I used to do monthly but have been lax on for the last bit. I would like to incorporate it and make it a monthly devotional again. A' Ghealach Ùr/The New Moon  { A ritual outline I like to use can be seen over at the Gaol Naofa website.}

Prayers and Praxis

These are some of the devotionals that I use as needed, while making offerings, doing certain tasks or when asking for aid with something. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but these are some of my favourites.
A Prayer to Macha for Safety
An Coisrigeadh Sioil//The Consecration of the Seed
An Deiseal/Sunwise Blessing {to open a ritual, by Annie Loughlin}
An Invocation of Macha {by Morgan Daimler}



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

For Those Who Might Ask About the UW Shop

Over the last couple of days I have been getting a heap of messages and emails asking me when I am opening my shop. This is definitely a jump in number, as I will get the odd one every once in a while. So thank you to whoever recommended me, that is very kind!

With that said, the shop has been closed down for about a year or so and I have been only doing a few orders here and there, replenishing supplies of old customers and doing some wholesale orders. As of right now, I am still not really ready to open up the shop due to lack of time and restricted access to some ingredients that are a necessity to what I make.

One of the most requested products lately has been my Mistress of Stags incense and one of the ingredients {sweetfern} I am running low on again. I do have a friend up north who harvests some for me, but I will not be able to get a decent amount until I go back and visit my old patch up there. I hope to do that some time this summer.

At this point I can't say for sure when my shop will open again, but if you are interested in something, just drop me a line and we can chat. And as before, I am always down for swaps in lieu of traditional payment. :)



Monday, May 15, 2017

Bealtaine in the Woods {part two}

My various observances for Bealtaine have been scattered over the course of a couple weeks largely due to my work schedule, but also the weather and being out of commission for a bit with some sort of bug {which has led me to be a bit more prolific online than I usually am, especially on Tumblr! heh}. 

Since on the hike I took with my friend a little while back, I have gone into my neighbourhood woodland a few times, and it is looking just as beautiful as the last place I went to. 

Each time I have gone, I go to a different spot to do some a few times to do some wildcrafting and to leave offerings and do some trashing clean up when I see any. Generally when I head on out these days I bring my little deer spirit vessel that I use as a representation of Flidais {purchased from Sarah Anne Lawless a few years back} and some of little fertility charms to use as offerings. 

After one my trips out last week I gathered some greenery and flowers to decorate our shrine and some rowan wood cuttings to make protective crosses with. And then I finally got down to my main Bealtaine ritual of light a new hearth candle and saining our home.