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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Avalon Midsummer potions ....

Midsummer runs riot all over this land, the winter lakes have long gone, giving rise to verdant fields and hedgerows, swathed with elderflower, cow parsley and meadowsweet like white foam. Comfrey flowers blush purple in the shadows. Glastonbury Tor truly becomes the Glass Castle of British myth at this time, entrance to the land of Faery. On Midsummer Eve, as the dusk gathers, the hill comes alive, pilgrims climb the summit to drum the sun down, somewhere in the woods that sprawl around its base, a fire is lit in vigil, as it has always been at this time. A new generation take over the duty every so often, each person called to the task by something inside them, a compulsion, a call from the hill itself. All who come to sit by its flames bring wood to burn, drink to share, a tale to tell… This night, and all through the season, the veils between the worlds are thin, or thinner still. This land of water and mist is only ever half a human place, the Summer Land – the county of Somerset- rises above the lakes when summer is at its height, to sink beneath the waters again when autumn comes. But for now Jack in the Green, Jack Stag as he is known here, is having his day…   

I make my way along the labyrinthine tracks, climbing along the hill's steep sides singing old songs to the spirits as I gather elderflower (Sambucus Nigra) for cordial and medicine. Blossoms fall like tiny stars as I reach precariously over brambles and nettles, I wind a strand of my hair over the branches in thanks for their gift. The apples nearby are swelling and green, not ripe for a few months yet. The promise of harvest can be seen on the horizon, but for now, for me, it is the time of the elder tree. Sleeping beneath an elder was said to lead someone into Faery never to return, and sitting below the tree at dusk on Midsummer's eve grants a vision of the faerie hosts. Here at this liminal time, as the wheel turns, on this Sacred Isle the realms of the Sidhe, of Faery, are close at hand. All who wander here step on to their Green Road, if only for a while.   

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Springtime Ceilidh

St. Patty's Day can be an odd time of year for we Irish Wiccans and Pagans. On the one hand, the attraction of all things Irish is strong. First there's that stirring fiddle music and the rumble of the drum. The food is mighty tasty, folks are feeling celebratory, and who doesn't like the color of bright, springy green? On the other, who wants to revere a man for driving the "snakes" out of Ireland, a.k.a. the Druids? There is still a spirited scholarly debate regarding how much damage St. Patrick actually did on his own versus the mythic qualities that surround him to this present day. This presents a quandary, but not one insurmountable. I believe that you can partake in festivities in your own way, honoring your Irish heritage. Perhaps this year is one of the most opportune times, when we have the Irish holiday falling within the same week as the Spring Equinox. If you do up a dinner party combining the two, with a focus on some of the more classic Celtic traditions– problem solved!

Take down your favorite celtic knotwork wall hanging and use it as a tablecloth. Hopefully it is nothing you mind cleaning a little spilled food or drink off of. Decorate the table with fresh cut spring flowers, such as daffodils. Invite about 4 to 6 others to join you and pull up a chair. For your menu, think Celtic-eclectic. This is your very own hybrid holiday, after-all.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As the sun set on February 1st, Pagans everywhere began their preparations to celebrate Imbolc. This is an Irish word meaning “in the belly”, because lambs would be developing “in the belly” of the ewes (female sheep) at this time, waiting to be born in the spring. It is a fire feast because now we can truly see that the sun is growing stronger in the winter skies, and the days are getting longer.

But February 1st through 2nd (note: Irish pagans see the day as starting at dust the prior evening) is also sacred to the Celtic goddess known as Brigid or Bride. (The Celts were the tribes of people who eventually became the Welsh, Manx, Cornish, Scots, Irish, and people of Brittany). Her name means “Exalted (mighty) One”, as well as “Bright Arrow”. She is often seen as 3 goddesses in one, known as a “triple goddess”, because she had mastery over three things: fire and smith-craft, hearth and home, and poetry – which was thought of as magical, and born from the “fire” of inspiration. She is a goddess of fire, but also of water.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Thig thugainn, thig cò' ruim gu siar -  
Gus an cluinn sinn ann cànan nam Fèinn, 
Thig thugainn, thig cò' ruim gu siar - 
Gus an cluinn sinn ann cànan nan Gàidheal. 

Come to us, come with me to the west - 
And hear the language of heroes (of the Fèinn),
Come to us, come with me to the west,
And hear the language of the Gael.

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Is Danu the Indigenous Goddess of Ireland?

Ireland has recently conducted national DNA research that asks the question of what actually  makes the Irish...well, Irish?  As a country conditioned by emigration the Celtic tiger of the 1990's and early Noughties brought an influx of new blood into the population. Cue some national soul searching.

If you read the earliest Irish texts, such as the Book of Invasions, Ireland has always been rather 'multi-cultural' although that was probably not the fashionable interpretation in earlier times.  This  DNA survey has noted that along with the Irish being well connected with the Scots and other British populations, there is a strong marker for Spanish, specifically, Basque, lineage.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As I write this entry, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is in full, autumn glory and the Celtic Colours International Festival is well underway. For those of you who don't know, Cape Breton is a Gàidhealtachd, a place where the Scottish Gaelic language is still spoken and taught, a place where Gaelic culture still lives. Every year in mid-October, people come from all over the world to celebrate the rich heritage of this place with concerts, classes, discussions and demonstrations rooted in the Gaìdhlig language that traveled here when so many of its native speakers emigrated from Scotland.

Cape Breton is also my home. An American by birth, I immigrated to Canada three and a half years ago after twenty years of Celtic Paganism and a Celtic Studies degree because I wanted to become a fluent Gaìdhlig speaker and advocate. My local Gaìdhlig learning began in Halifax, where Sgoil Ghàidhlig an Àrd-bhaile serves the community with a wide range of classes and workshops. I have since come to sit on the Board of Directors of that organization and maintain its web site, which has given me the opportunity to understand more about the mechanics of Gaìdhlig transmission in the province and also put me in touch with many wonderful Gaìdhlig speakers and learners. More recently, my husband and I bought the Presbyterian minister's manse where the Reverend A.W.R. MacKenzie lived when he founded the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts in 1938, and it is our joy to bring the Gaìdhlig language back into this house where I sit, writing to you.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love hearing about your journey--I think it is a great adventure!
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    You're pretty adventurous yerself, lass. =)
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. MacCath, Good for you, honoring your Gods! Half my ancestry is Celtic, though I am devoted to Hellenic deities and embrace Pl
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    It's easy to forget sometimes that the mainstream religions of the world are followed primarily by people who do not have an ances

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Ah, Samhain-tide: a time when life and death balance on a razor sharp edge as we welcome in the Season of the Winter God. Rua, Fin and I will be tucked safely into our stalls this evening, away from those things that walk between the worlds. It’s a time to stay firmly rooted in this world, while seeking predictions from the next. Your best tools on Samhain are sharp wits and clear vision. It reminds me of a stone we find here at the dairy. It’s usually shiny and black (although it can be green, grey and even “rainbow”), and made from volcanic glass. It’s called obsidian.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Obsidian.png

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Natalie Zaman
    Natalie Zaman says #
    Thanks so much for visiting!
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you. You reminded me of my fascination with obsidian as a child. Now it all makes sense.

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