We had made the decision to celebrate an early Samhain as this year the 30th April (and Mr T’s birthday) falls on a Wednesday. Mid-week is a difficult time to get people to come out and so we choose yesterday, Friday the 25th to do our thing. Appropriately enough it was also ANZAC day here, the day of remembrance for all New Zealanders and Australians who have died serving in wars (and peace keeping forces) and a public holiday.
This meant that Mr T was home to help with the preparations thank heavens because I was feeling particularly tired and as he was suffering with a cold, the two of us made up about one person work wise.
It did turn out to be quite an effort in fact not the least because we had a few extra jobs thrown in like carving pumpkins and collecting firewood from various kind friends so that we could use the brazier.
Our last gathering at Mabon had been kind of small, with only about 6-8 people and although it was really lovely I thought I would try a bit harder this time and invite lots of people on the basis that most of them wouldn’t come. But then of course most of them did come with the consequence that we almost didn’t have enough seats – but it was so lovely to see everyone.
The weather which we had watched anxiously over the previous days had promised rain and cold and indeed it did rain on and off yesterday to the extent that we decided if it hadn’t got better by 5pm we were going to give in and hold the party inside.
Then a small miracle, it stopped raining.. completely. Not only that but we were treated to a absolutely stonking sunset with such lurid light it turned my t-shirt day-glow. It became so warm that our brazier almost felt too hot. The clouds cleared and the stars did their thing.
Many thanks to Sue for the photos
Thanks to everyone for coming and making it such a wonderful night.
Also, at some stage I am going to add another blog page so that you can read what is said at our rituals. Coming soon..
I don’t know about you all but I am very excited.. I positively love this time of year..the middle of winter, the longest night, lovely cold weather with lights and candles and booze and food and presents and holidays and, and, and, and… Breath…
It has been a lovely week of socialising and getting everything sorted food wise and present wise. I finished work yesterday and do not go back for two weeks. When I do I will be starting an extra day a week which is a real bonus. I will just about be paying our rent and that make things a bit less tight.
Last night we spent at our friends having a little Solstice eve get together, with the weather so mild we were able to sit outside around a fire.
It does not look like we have a chance of snow for Christmas but as we had a small taste of it last weekend I am not dissapointed. Neither are the shop keepers as everyone is able to get out and about to buy provisions and treats without nasty icy paths to manoeuvre.
It was market day today in Hay and I tried to get there a bit earlier as I thought it might be busy, and I was right. I couldn’t get the bread I wanted and Lucretia Wood-Cole who makes and sells wonderful cakes in aid of the Women’s Institute had nearly sold out. But I did manage to get everything else, including the most luscious runny cheese that you can only get at this time of year. It was lovely that they had fine weather for it and everyone was in very good spirits. Toastie had a great time taking every chance she had to snuffle at people’s market bags which must have been emitting wonderful smells. Particularly if they had visited the stall that sells many types of fish, fowl or beast.
As an aside – we were accosted by a visiting lady in Hay the other day who wanted to know if Toastie was a Norfolk Terrier as she had one and Toastie looked exactly like her. We said that as The Toastilator is a rescue dog we had no idea and then rushed home to Google Image it. Sure enough- apart from having slightly longer legs Toastie has found her tribe!
On with the story..
We trundled ourselves home with our parcels and then I set out again to have lunch with my boss/friend Sandra, and two of our trustees – Betty (our Chairwoman) and Karl (vice Chairman). I love these people and feel very lucky to be working with them. I have to say that I never thought I would feel that way about employers! Karl (the first Quaker I have ever met) looked completely appropriate for the occasion as he is in his eighties and has a long white beard which he topped off today with a Santa hat.
Sandra did her usual of trying to confiscate the sugar lumps so that Karl cannot put fifty million of them in his hot orange drink while Karl (who does not have diabetes) did his usual of remonstrating with Sandra for taking the Lords name in vain. I did my usual of surreptitiously nicking the sugar lumps so that Karl can have his fill, and Sandra did her bit again by telling me off 😉
We drunk stupendously good mulled wine and I chomped my way through a frittata which included bits of turkey, bacon, little sausages and brussels sprout – I know that sounds mad but it was nom.
We ate at Booth’s Books cafe, which if you are ever passing our way you must stop and visit. Booth’s used to belong to the King of Hay, Richard Booth, and by the time I started coming to Hay the bookshop was a bit of a mess- damp, cold and smelling of mould. Now it has new owners who have transformed it into the most magnificent, light, airy, warm utterly inviting space. Spread over three floors with loads of pozzies to sit and read, it is a place you can spend hours in. They added the cafe and are also building a small cinema which should be finished in the new year. The food in the cafe is tasty, interesting and the menu varied every week – it also has the bonus of being relatively cheap. And the chips with aioli, and the real hot chocolate are to die for..
If you think I sound like I am happy you would be right.. Certainly compared with December last year when I had lost my job and was still incredibly home sick. I still struggle with depression and the terrible tiredness that comes with it but I am keeping my head well up and am helping myself with the simple things – seeing friends as much as possible, walking this beautiful countryside, sharing our home with a bonkers Terrier, reading good books, immersing myself in crochet and craft, and making myself go to work – of course I’m lucky to have a job that I like.
I am deeply grateful for all that I have.. Thankful for the hard bits of life that make me appreciate all the good. Thankful for all of you..
So – the winter solstice, celebrating the return of the light, new beginnings – new challenges. Hope you are all ok out there.
And happy Beltane to those on the other side of the world..
Our clocks changed at the weekend and this evening while out walking Toastie and admiring the neighbourhood pumpkins I realised that if I didn’t move my ass I would be walking in the dark. Sure enough it was full dark shortly after we got home at 5.20.
Although we have been having some gloomy days we have been blessed by incredible autumn colours. Everywhere there are fiery glowing trees. I walk in wonder..
Tonight is All Hallows Eve/ Halloween/Samhain. A night to remember the dead and to light fire.
I am eating one of the apples off our tree. It is the kind of apple that when you bite the red bleeds into the white, which is kinda cool. I am also drinking a mug of tea – a new type of PG Tips that I got free in a mag, it is surprisingly nice, or maybe I am just really thirsty..
Two days till Mabon, or if you like – the Autumn Equinox and you would need to be blind not to be able to tell that the year is into wain. I presume that even if you were blind you would be able to tell the special smells that go with this season. One of the few smells I really don’t care for is that of coal burning and I have had a whiff or two of that in the last couple of weeks. We have already had one load of wood delivered and another arriving next week, it will feel nice knowing that if all outside power sources go we will still be able to keep warm, cook food and have hot water and light.
Fire, my favourite element? Mmmm.. Certainly will be for these next couple of seasons..
I have a little shrine on my lounge windowsill and on it I have one of the cards from the Goddess Sabbat Cards set designed by Wendy Andrew that grace every seasonal celebration. At the moment it is still showing the harvest card for Lammas on the 1st of August.
I have been unwell again, as you might have noticed by the dearth of blog posts, none for September so far. Feeling ok today however and more inclined to reach out to you lovely people again.
We were supposed to be going to London for a week at the beginning of October to celebrate my birthday but have called that off as I cannot be sure that I will have the energy to do all the things that one does in London. Instead we have taken a caravan at a place called Pennard Cliffs on the South Wales coast and will relax and walk the dog ragged (some hope with a terrier). I am looking forward to it, instead of being anxious about it when London was still the plan.. I have been assured that London will still be there when I am more able.
I am working on far too many crochet projects, I broke my own rule and now have seven items which need finishing, including my Japanese Flower Shawl which I should have finished months ago. I have this idea that if I sewed all the motifs together and blocked it I could wear it on my birthday! Just a week and a half to go, we will see..
To all of you a happy Beltane – for me my most favourite celebration, marking the beginning of summer and the flowering before the dying.
I hope that all that you wish for comes to fruition – just be careful what you wish for 😉
Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond
So heavy is the long-necked,long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise when her smoke-colored wings open and she turns from the thick water,
from the black sticks of the summer pond, and slowly rises into the air and is gone.
Then, not for the first or the last time, I take the deep breath of happiness, and I think how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed back into itself –
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge, the turtle, the fallen gate.
And especially it is wonderful that the summers are long and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle but the common thing, this decision, this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body into a new life:
see how the sudden gray-blue sheets of her wings strive toward the wind;
see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
In the Words of the Artist: “Goddess of Small Things is about caring for seemingly insignificant creatures; mice, moles etc. There are so many worthy causes, but there are also less dramatic issues and situations we confront everyday and in our own lives, the one place where one can make a difference. On a deeper level its about compassion for all beings, including those right beneath our feet and that make us squeamish. Also, caring for oneself and the parts of oneself that feel ‘unexceptional’ or less than desirable.”
First off – Happy Lammas! The festival of first fruits – all those ffffffffffs..
The 2nd of February marks Lammas/Lughnasadh which is the first of the harvest celebrations but like another important day on the wheel of the year (Sowein/Halloween) it also happens to be the birthday of someone close to me. Sometimes I get swept up in one and need to mark the other another day.
Bloody Hell it’s good being home again. I don’t realise how much I love my own space until I go away – even for one night.
The journey down to Wellington on the train was trouble-free – mainly thanks to my trusty Sony mp3 player, it saves me oodles of grief. Usually the trip is pretty quiet but this time I was trapped in the same carriage with a woman who, if I’m going to be kind about it, liked the sound of her own voice and several shriekey teenage girls in school uniform. Not feeling obliged to listen to others noise I simply plugged myself in and grooved away to the dulcet tones of the BeeGees in full disco flow. I then sat comfortably by myself the entire journey – occasionally wondering how the Brothers Gibb could have thought that singing falsetto would ever be considered manly – even if you do have lots of body hair, medallions and tight, tight trousers. With my mp3 player on random I got to listen to 60’s band Cream and am now a fan.
My Mum enjoyed her trip out for dinner at the Parrot and Jigger for her birthday. My brother, sister-in-law and one of my nephews came along as well and it was good to be able to have a family celebration without the usual mass of dishes to clean up after. My brother had to finish packing to leave at 5.30am to guard the Prime Minister at Waitangi so we had an early night.
It looks like the weather has finally decided it will be summer for awhile. We are going to see Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor at Gladstone Vineyard on Friday evening so will be taking a sun hat.
Terry Pratchett is responsible for my heading today, he has been interviewed for the Guardian Book Club, you can read a report of it here. There is also a video of part of the conference and I was so pleased to see that the illness he suffers from has not got him down yet.
I am thoroughly enjoying Unseen Academicals, I try to read it when I am not tired as it is quite complex in some ways. I know that he has another book on the go – with one of my favourite characters, Tiffany Aching in it. Yahoo!
We have spent part of our Saturday visiting friends and chopping down their trees (they did ask us to). Or Tude did the chopping and I just sat around looking pretty 😉 Our last trip of the day we visited Yvonne and her lovely brood of animals, which include amputee Titan, the dog who I reported on in my last post. He greeted us happily but is not quite his old self yet of course. I forgot the camera, so maybe next time I will get a photo of his beautiful mug.
The weather is shaping up well for the Summer Solstice and I have my eye on a bottle of Nelson Boysencider which I spotted in the supermarket today and will make an interesting change to take along to the party.
It is going to be a quiet weekend, although I have been promised home made popcorn later tonight along with the unbelievable United States of Tara.
Loads of people turned up for last nights Beltane bash. When I say loads, I actually mean about twenty, so I guess I am getting a bit carried away – whatever. As usual it was a challenge getting around to talk to everyone but I think I managed it (well, maybe not but I think they will forgive me). And the weather turned out beautiful; cold but clear, with an almost full moon, couldn’t really have asked for more.
My friend Evonne came around early and helped me make the wreaths for everyone’s heads, it’s a fun thing to do together. We had gathered together all sorts of greenery; roses, lily, lavender, rosemary, daisys, jasmine and tons of ivy. Neither of us are great wreath makers, so some of them looked a bit bonkers – witness my wonderful head gear in the photo!
The highlight of the night for me was the amazing bonfire my nephew had built. It was huge and when lit it just went mad, spiralling flames, masses of sparks flying up with a backdrop of towering black trees and a high flying moon.
CRAFT Syndrome – Can’t Remember a Fecking Thing. Usually related to menopause, aging or to much wacky backy.
Iamrightitis – The belief that one is always right.
Last night was fun. Went out for dinner with a group of women to farewell Mary the co-ordinator of the Wairarapa Women’s Centre, where I have just started back on the organising committee and where I used to volunteer. It was good to get together, eat good food and talk.
Bracing weather again today. As I sat at my desk at the Information Centre this morning the sound of the rain and hail on the tin verandah roof made it difficult to talk on the phone. It is meant to be perking up tomorrow, which is good because we are having a Beltane get together around at a friends and as we are having a bonfire it would be a bit more pleasant if it doesn’t piss down. Especially when I will be making a speech about it being the first of the SUMMER sabbats.
Also we will have a special small fire built for making a wish and jumping over, so we really do need to be outside. I will be taking along the pot of nasturtiums and calendular, the seeds of which we all planted at the spring equinox ritual. They are little plants now and I figure it will be nice to take them to each celebration and watch them grow over the coming months. With luck the hopes that were planted with them will all come to fruition.
My friend Evonne showed me this YouTube video, and I love it. So here is my Beltane present for you..