Monday, December 28, 2009

'Let There Be Light!'

This is just a quick post to share an awesome episode of the CBC show Tapestry called Let There Be Light.

"The light of the world. The festival of lights. A ray of hope. This Christmas Eve, Mary Hynes hosts a special Tapestry program, exploring the idea of Light as a metaphor for the Divine, in religious and spiritual traditions around the world."

Listen and enjoy. :)



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Belated Happy Holidays!

I hope that everyone is having a fantastic Yuletide so far! Mine's been pretty laid back, with plenty of food and perfect as far as I am concerned. :)

Although it will be nice when our house is quiet again, that way I will have enough space and time to do my 'workings' and perhaps post on here a little bit more. ;)

I made a video that is the first of our 'Irish Pantheon' series, it is about the Irish Goddess Macha. Have a boo and I hope that you enjoy it.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bring Food Home Conference

This is just a heads up for folks in Ontario who are interested/involved in food security, sustainable food production, community economic development, and new farmers that the Bring Food Home Conference is happening in Kitchener from March 4th to 6th, 2010.

A blurb from the webby:

To a low-income earner bringing food home necessitates sometimes difficult choices. It may be the choice between nutrition and empty, hunger-abating calories or the choice between food and some of the other necessities of life. To someone who works in their community promoting healthy choices, bringing food home encompasses the areas of nutrition, health, education and community engagement. Farmers, challenged by a global trading system that places control and profits in the hands of a few multinationals, are re-examining the opportunities to bring food home to local consumers. Others, conscious of the challenges of climate change, peak energy and environmental degradation, see the decision-making power that brings food home as a universal right. To a community, bringing food home is part of the discussion and planning to develop a local sustainable food system.

The conference will bring together a broad range of participants from diverse regions and sectors, including farmers, food enterprises, health promoters, community groups and government organizations. The purpose of this gathering is to facilitate our learning and working together to create food systems that are healthy, just, accessible, culturally appropriate, financially viable and sustainable.

The keynote speakers will be Joel Salatin and Martin Gooch, and you can see a brief draft of the program here. To register go here.



Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome Winter....

On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
waiting all its life, snow says, 'Let me cover you.'

~ The First Day of Winter by Laura Lush

May you all have warm fire, warm food, and warm folks to share it with on this longest night on the year! Yuletide & Winter Solstice blessings to you all and those you care about!


Aymi & Laurel

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yuletide Traditions: Magic, Divination & Superstitions

This time of year has been historically seen as a good time by various cultures and countries as a great time for divination, and to hold various rituals for health, plenty, and overall good luck. One of the most popular subjects for divination was love and marriage.

On December 21st, which is sometimes celebrated as Saint Thomas Eve, young English women and girls would turn to 'Saint Thomas' onion' to dream who their future mate will be. They would peel the onion, put it on a cloth and place it under their pillow and say the following words:

Good St Thomas do me right
And bring my love to me tonight
That I may look him in the face
And in my arms may him embrace.
{Mother Bunch's Closet by George Laurence Gomme}

In Christmas In Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan, Clement A. Miles mentions various Yuletide divination practices for those who are looking to find out more about their future loves.

Also on Saint Thomas Eve, German women and girls would divine when they would be married by tossing shoes over their shoulder. If the toes of the shoes were pointing towards the door, they would be starting their own household within the year.

During Christmas Eve a Slavic girl would what kind of husband the future hold for her by setting the table before bed with a plate, fork, spoon, and knife along with a loaf of bread. That night she would have her future husband's spirit come to her and would throw the set out knife at her. If the knife missed her she would have a long and happy life with a husband who was kind and loved her.

Russian girls would use two candles and two mirrors while sitting in a dark room to find out who her true love was.

In Scotland omens were to be found all over during the festive season. While baking 'Yeel' {Yule} cakes in upcoming deaths and hardships could be announced; if a piece of a cake fell of then sickness or injury would be suffered by someone in the household, and if the cake broke altogether then someone was to depart in the up coming year. If the Christmas morning fire was a warm and bright one, the upcoming year would be filled with affluence and if the first fire of the New Year had peat fall away from the fire, then a family member was to die within the year. {The Folklore of North-East Scotland by Walter Gregor}.

One tradition on New Year's morning was to 'cream the well', the cream being the first water drawn from a spring or well. The Clan Sinclair website says of 'creaming the well':

Since the well would only be drawn the once, everyone would race to reach it, and in particular the young lassies, for possession of the first water drawn was said to guarantee marriage within the New Year. It was said for this to work, the young woman cocerned would have to get the lad they desired to marry to drink the water before the end of the first day.

Farmers would cream the water source of successful neighbours in hoping to bring some of that prosperity onto themselves. This was thought to be especially effective for farmers with dairy cows when they washed their milking bucket and other milking tools with this water or gave it to their cows to drink.

And on Christmas morning in Bohemia {now the Czech Republic} farmers would see to their cattle's health by having a priest either sprinkle them with holy water or feed them bayberries, bread and salt that were blessed by a priest.

If there was ever a good time to die, for a Catholic Irishman it would be to do so at midnight on Christmas Eve, because many believed that one could go straight to Heaven at this time without having to wait in Purgatory. {The Encyclopedia of Superstitions by Edwin Radford}.

In Superstitions of the Irish Country People by Padraic O'Farrell it is said that an Irish family would leave a candle in the window, the door unlocked, and food left out for travellers on Christmas Eve in memory of the wanderings of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. A bowl of water was also left out for the thankful guests to bless, which could be used in various cures in the upcoming year.

While having Yule visits with family and friends, Irish folks would place everyone's shoes beside each other to avoid any tiffs for the year to come...and hopefully they were not wearing new shoes, as it was thought to bring bad luck if worn on Christmas!

The sky was looked to on Christmas Eve to see what farmers had in store: a new moon and a clear night with bright stars would mean a good harvest. In Switzerland folks would take a gander at the sky on New Year's day and if it was red, war was sure to come. {Festivals of Western Europe by Dorothy Gladys Spicer}.

The Swiss thought {along with people in a few other countries} that their farm critters would gain the power of speech on Christmas Eve because of their presence at the nativity, so they were given extra portions of food and goodies on this night. The farmers also made sure that they were far away for the barn at midnight when the speech was bestowed to the animals, for if they heard the conversation doom would hang over their heads.

Christmas Eve was a happy time for a young Swiss person in search of love if they drank from nine different wells before the midnight church bells were ringing. After doing so, they could hasten over to the church steps to see their future love there waiting for them.

Are you looking to divine who your own future love is? Give this a whirl:

This Christmas falls on a Friday {perfect!} go out a midnight and collect 9 holly leaves, then tie each one into a white 3-cornered hankie and place under your pillow. It is said then you will dream of your future spouse{Encyclopedia of Superstitions by Edwin Radford}.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

North Bay Farmers Help Local Charity

Bob and Betty Bainbridge's charitable work is just one more reason that I am so proud of our local farmers. They are a blessing to the North Bay community.

Eggzactly what the Santa Fund needs

Bob and Betty Bainbridge's hens are producing more than just eggs.

Over the last 11 years, the three dozen birds have helped raise more than $15,000 for the North Bay Santa Fund.

The Bainbridges, who live off Four Mile Lake Road, sell the eggs all year long and give the proceeds to the charity, which provides hampers of food and gifts to hundreds of families every Christmas.

You've got to have a hobby and this one has a good end result," Bob Bainbridge said this week. It's a win-win situation. We enjoy giving back and we're going to keep doing it."

He said it can be difficult to keep up with the demand for the eggs, but those old girls do pretty good. They lay about 1,500 eggs per year."

Bainbridge said he could give the money to any charity, but the Santa Fund is close to his heart.

We just decided one year that the Santa Fund needed it the most," he said, recalling the 1950s when he delivered hampers.

Read the rest of the article here.



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Great Mane-Plaiting Mystery Strikes Again...

...was it Witchcraft, Faeries or just horse thieves?

I found this article on Dawn's Traditional Witchcraft group and thought that some of you might enjoy it as well. ;)


Owners in west Dorset and the surrounding counties had believed that thieves plaited the manes of the beasts to identify which ones to steal when they returned at night.

But police officers investigating the incidents said there had been no thefts, and instead their enquiries led to the world of pagan ritual.

It is now believed that the practice is a part of white witch "knot magick" that is used when a spell is cast.

It seems those responsible to go extreme lengths at night to carry out their plaiting as horses have had their manes knotted on nights of high wind and rain.

And some of those targeted have been in fields surrounded by electric fences, miles from anywhere.

Read the rest of the article here.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Yuletide Traditions: Greenery and Decorations

There are many different customs that surround this time of year, and a very popular one for many of us is putting up Christmas trees, lights, and other decorations. Even for those of us who do not technically celebrate Christmas, many still take the time to decorate our house, even if it is only a banana tree. ;)

The tradition of the Christmas tree did not become widely popular outside of Germany until probably the 19th century. The actual origin of the custom is generally accepted as being pre-Christian, although there are some who disagree.

One such person is author Francis X. Weiser who wrote in his book Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs that the Christmas tree is 'Completely Christian in origin.' and 'It's origin is due to a combination of two medieval religious symbols: the Paradise Tree and the previously described Christmas lights.' {You can find out more about the Christmas lights and Paradise Tree on page 81.}

Another story supporting the theory that the Christmas tree is a not pre-Christian is that of Saint Boniface, who went to Germany in 723 for Christmas and was so pissed that the Germans were going to celebrate the season in the old Pagan way {which apparently included human sacrifice} that he chopped down the sacred oak of Odin. After that, legend has it that a fir tree took its place, thus the dawn of the Christmas tree. {The Christmas Tree: Legends, Traditions, History by Lino Lozza.}

For those who think that this is a pre-Christian tradition, there are various guesses as to where it first harks from. Some think that it originally comes from the Scandinavian and Germanic tradition of bringing evergreen trees inside homes during Winter as a reminder that green things will come once again and to bring luck. Others think that it comes from the Romans who prepared for Saturnalia by decorating with greenery and trees {The Stories of the Months and Days by Reginald C. Couzens}.

In some areas of England it is bad form to bring seasonal greenery in and trees into a house before Christmas Eve, or to take it down before the Twelfth Night. Disposing of the trees and greenery is also a serious affair. Some folks burn it ritually, while others insist that it is bad luck to do so. {The Encyclopedia of Superstitions by Edwin Radford.}

Of course the trees themselves now how decorations, and depending on where, there are many different traditional ways to trim a tree.

According to Dorothy Gladys Spicer in Festivals of Western Europe a typical Swedish tree would have been donned with gingerbread, apples, nuts, candles, along with straw goats and pigs. In the book she says:

The straw animals, which are found throughout Sweden, are intimately related to ancient Norse mythology; for the modern figures originated in legends of the sacred animals of the gods--the goat of Thor, the thunder god, and the pig of Frey, god of the sun.

She also talks about a few other places such as Switzerland, where trees were often kept in a closed off room until after Christmas Eve dinner. When revealed the most likely decorations that would be seen were bells, cotton balls, apples, cookies, and red candles.

A pretty common decoration that you see on many people's trees today are Christmas balls, which some claim started out as a version of a Witch ball. They were supposed to keep away evil spirits and jealous neighbours from spoiling the household's Christmas. Bells being put on trees, doorways, wreaths and other parts of the house served the same purpose.

The candy cane is the descendent of a simple white stick of candy that was at one time really popular in Europe. There is one legend that says the current shape of the candy cane was created by a member of a Cologne Cathedral in Germany. He was the choirmaster of the church, and in 1670 he bent straight candy to represent a shepherd's crook, which was then given out to the children. {The History of the Candy Cane by Laura Witcher Goldstein.}

Instead of Christmas trees, in England and Germany wooden pyramids were sometimes used. They would be decorated with colourful paper, lights, evergreen branches, fruit and nuts, and have presents placed underneath them. {Christmas In Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles.}

In History of the Christmas Wreath: Germanic Tradition and Victorian Craft-lore Jordan Dickie writes that the modern Christmas wreath had started off as a Germanic Pagan tradition around the Winter Solstice, a tradition that was taken up by the Catholic Church in the 8th century. This was the beginning of the Advent wreath.

There is also a historical Pagan use of other plants at this time of year which are connected to Christmas, two of them being holly and mistletoe {click on the links to read posts I did on them last year}.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

cherry tree {poetry by aymi}

~ ~

i ache for the beginning
Ache for the beginning of


For the beginning of your


The beginning of your scent


Beginning to beg.

Your scent.

You left.

~ ~


poetry by Aymi.


the blue air was damp at the train-station…

it made me forget the paranoid desperate earth

-that i never wanted to admit was a failure.

Triangles of spite…. Moi?

Just string that cigarette along….

Should I tell you when....

to follow me,

and bring the better bagels?...

Orange covered railings-

Girls in the front seats-

Bleeding delicacies….

...are now just stuff of fiction.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Luverly of the Week: Male Couple in Love, 1875.

I saw these two strapping lads and I think that this is one of my favourite couples' portraits. I was pretty surprised to find any portraits of gay couples from Victorian times (!!!). Here are a few more:


I have been on quite a mission lately to find a good summary of what integrity is.

Personally I think that at the end of the day our integrity is all we have. We need it to be in tact to have healthy relationships, and it is very much affected by our actions. Our level of integrity will be with us long after we shed our physical form.

But what is integrity exactly? What does it mean to possess it?

I found this quote by Barbara De Angelis that I think answers those questions nicely {please note: that this is a rare instance where I would quote a 'relationship guru'!}:

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe. {source of quote}

Perhaps a rare thing and I hope that you are all blessed with it! :)



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Etsy Holiday Sale

This is just a notice to let folks know that we are holding a little holiday sale in our Etsy shop where all of the readings {Tarot, Runes, Druid Animal Oracle and Faeries' Oracle cards} are currently 25 percent off and electronic gift certificates are available as well. The sale will last until January 1st, 2010.



Yes, Another Blog Facelift..

...and this time Yule is my excuse!

Our little Yule blog makeover was done on Photoshop CS2 {both banner and background} and there is quite a long list of people to thank for papers and elements (!!!).

Thanks to:

Karen's Whimsy for over luverly nightingale friend {he came to pop in just for you FreeDragon! ;)}

MistyBelle {for paper used on the banner}

Kelly-Jo {for elements used on the tree}

Cora's Creations {for the tree and other elements}

Cuddlebeez Scraps {for background papers and some elements}

Malacima {for the deer and other elements}

Wench Designs {for elements}



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Luverly of the Week: The Tolkien Professor

The Tolkien Professor {Cory Olsen} has a great podcast of lectures which are a must listen for all J.R.R Tolkien enthusiasts! Here is a little blurb from the site:

In my lectures on this site, I am going through Tolkien’s books in detail. In each lecture, I discuss one or two chapters, exploring the fascinating details of Tolkien’s world, his characters, and his language while also tracking some of the large, important themes in Tolkien’s fiction.

My favourite one so far is a talk called Tolkien and the Environment, one that I am sure many of the nefaeria blog readers would enjoy.

Happy listening! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Odds & Ends....

...and new beginnings too!

I can't believe that the Winter Solstice is less than a month away! The weather we have been getting the Bay has been fairly mild and rainy; a little more like Vancouver than Northern Ontario. I guess Mama Nature is being kind to us for the crap Summer we had. I might be able to get some garden work done that I had deferred to next year before we get the white stuff dumped on us. ;)

One thing we will be getting done sooner than I thought is a move. My friend's tenants finally bought a place so the space will be freed up soon. It will be nice to have a backyard again! {It's at the same place where I had the garden this past season}.

Something else that might be happening sooner than expected is the book The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Dark Shamanism and Witchcraft in 17th Century Scotland by the brilliant author Emma Wilby becoming available. The latest through the rumour mill is that it is to released in the Spring of 2010 instead of the Fall. If interested, I would purchase it now.

While you wait you can always read Emma Wilby's book Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits, check out this great post at Hoydens and Firebrands, and have a look at The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft.

And lastly, I posted another video onto our Youtube channel about deer in myth and folklore. I tried to make sure that it was a picture, not a bunch words on the preview, but it didn't quite work {as you can see!}. Someone told me that Youtube picks the preview from the middle, but it seems that it is more like a third of the way in.

If anyone knows the secret then please share! :)



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kuri Squash

Kuri squash really is a blessing to homesteaders: it is versatile in the ways in which you can prepare it to eat, it is relatively easy to grow {even in smaller gardens}, and it stores quite well.

It is an heirloom winter squash from Japan and can be grown probably in any temperate climate. Just like pretty much any squash, it likes soil that is well-drained and high in organic matter. A safe pH range is anywhere from about 6.0 to 7.0, although I have seen people mention that it can do ok anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5. It can tolerate partial shade (!!!) and takes about 95 to 115 days until it is ready for harvest. Imagine how beautiful this squash would look in a Three Sisters garden, with heirloom corn and beans! *swoon*

My favourite ways to eat kuri squash is in pies {can replace pumpkin in pumpkin pie recipes}, muffins, and soups. I have linked to a few nifty recipes below, so check them out and give them a try, and make sure to put kuri squash on your wishlist for next year's garden!



Baked Kuri Squash & Apple Maple Pudding

Baked Kuri Squash {can be used as a pie filling}

Curry-Kuri Squash Soup

Kuri Squash Soup with Cranberry Compote

Kuri Squash Pasta Sauce

Veggie Quinoa Bake with Kuri Squash

Kuri Squash Gratin

Spiced Kuri Squash & Chicken Stew

Braised Short Ribs & Kuri Squash Orzo

Kuri Squash Lobster Bisque

Roasted Kuri Squash Seeds

Kuri Squash Stuffed with Shiitakes and Almonds

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Luverly of the Week: Medieval Wolf Patch from King's Hand Press

Yet another Etsy shop with gorgeous stuff to drool over! King's Hand Press has a gaggle of printed pretties, and it seems like the woman behind the shop, Nikol King is updating it often!

Here are a few more of my favourite luverlies from her shop:

Plaid Wolf Scarf {a really nice tartan choice!}

'Goodbye Little Brother'...'Welcome Sweet Daughter'.

This week I ended up going down to Toronto last minute with a friend who was going down for a conference and asked me if I would like to tag along.

I was super stoked to see a couple of people who I haven't seen since I was in Toronto last year, and one of those people is an old friend who just had a baby a couple of weeks ago.

Little did I know while heading down that this would be a trip to learn some lessons on as too.

My friend and I checked into our hotel on Tuesday evening, at around 7:30pm. We chilled for a bit and went to bed pretty early because she had to get up early for her conference.

I called everyone I wanted to see the next day to solidify plans, including my friend who is a new mom. When I called her I got the horrible news that her little brother was gunned down in a home invasion and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. This happened at around the same time we got into Toronto the night before.

I know that it is customary to speak kindly of the dead {especially if they were murdered and died before their time}, so customary that it is probably a cliché...but her little brother was an awesome person, and he surely did not deserve to be murder by a band of thugs.

My friend understandably had to be with her family that day, so we ended up going by to visit her on our way back to the Bay on Thursday evening.

I met her beautiful baby girl and we cried together for her little brother. I noted that my friend really is holding it together for her family and for her new child.

Just before we left, my friend looked at picture of her brother and said, ‘Goodbye little Brother’.

Then she looked down at her child and said ‘Welcome sweet Daughter’.

My friend is an inspiring woman. Just by being with her for from that too short a visit I learnt that no matter what is thrown at you, you can still be strong if you need to be. I learnt that I need to stop being drowned in self-pity and get on with it.

If a woman who just lost a loved one to a vicious murder can still feel blessed, then surely I have no reason not to.

My heart goes out to her and her family, and she also has my eternal thanks.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Coloured Fairy Books Series by Andrew Lang

I just discovered that the Andrew Lang's wonderful 'coloured fairy' book series is available online at Sacred Texts and have just added it to our suggested reading for spirituality and folklore which you can find here.

Happy reading!



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Luverly of the Week: The Bodhrán

The bodhrán is one of my favourite instruments, and I intend to learn how to play it {one day when I have the time!}. For the folks who are not familiar with the bodhrán, it is an Irish frame drum that is most often used with a cipín {or tipper} and sometimes folks use their hands to beat it as well.

The use of the bodhrán goes back to at least the 17th century, where it was reportedly used as a battle drum during the Irish rebellion {the Nine Years' War}. It is possible that the drum's history does go back further, even to pre-Christian times, which was the claim of composer Seán Ó Riada.

Below is a nifty documentary for you to watch on the bodhrán, and if interested in seeing folks rock out on one, there are surprisingly many different videos on Youtube for that as well.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yes, It's Another Blog Makeover...

Now that Hallowe'en is well over, I thought that it was time to get rid of that theme for the year.

The banner was made on Scrapblog.

The photo in the banner with the girls and cute pony came from The Graphics Fairy.

The background was made on Photoshop CS2 while following a great tutorial from The Cutest Blog on the Block.

The luverly papers used in the background come from an adorable set called Welcome to the Wood done by Bouble Scrap Hobby. You can find other nifty papers and the like for free at Digital Scrap Depot
And lastly, our new email button was also made on Scrapblog and the horse and faery come from The Graphics Fairy.