Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Will Go Forth With My Sickle...

"I will go forth with my sickle under my arm,
And I will reap the cut the first act.
I will let my sickle down
While the fruitful ear is in my grasp."

The above is from a Reaping Blessing, a suitable ritual that can be done for around Lughnasadh, the first harvest. Should you be interested, I posted about a reaping ritual during a previous Lughnasadh post a few years back.

As well, below you will find a lovely video done by Niamh Ní Ruairc about Lughnasadh in Ireland:

May this season be fruitful for you all!



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.