Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Imbolc Blessings

Rich meanings of the prophet-Spring adorn,
Unseen, this colourless sky of folded showers,
And folded winds; no blossom in the bowers.
A poet's face asleep is this grey morn.

Now in the midst of the old world forlorn
A mystic child is set in these still hours.
I keep this time, even before the flowers,
Sacred to all the young and the unborn;

To all the miles and miles of unsprung wheat,
And to the Spring waiting beyond the portal,
And to the future of my own young art,

And, among all these things, to you, my sweet,
My friend, to your calm face and the immortal
Child tarrying all your life-time in your heart.

~In February by Alice Meynell

I love this time of year. Imbolc is a sacred day in my faith, but I also love knowing that the signs of Spring are just around the corner. This is real good news for us gardeners who are just itching to get our hands in the dirt once again!

In the meantime I have plenty of cleaning and preparation to do for our celebration of this day. So I will leave you with a beautiful version of the song Gabhaim Molta Bride {I praise Brigid} performed by Claire Roche. Lyrics and a nice translation can be found over at Gaol Naofa


A link to the new Tairis Tales blog, which holds a collection of Gaelic legends & lore. It can be found here {and I nominate Heelan Coo as the best web address of 2012! *moo*}.

A Blessed Imbolc to you & yours. :)


Laurel {& Aymi}

Monday, January 30, 2012

Luverly of the Week: Brigid by Emily Balivet

Emily Balivet is definitely one of my favourite artists! We have a few of her prints and this is yet another one to add to our walls. ;) Her Council of Cernunnos was featured as a Luverly of the Week back in April 2009.



Once a Goddess by Sheila R. Lamb

Recently I read a novel by Sheila R. Lamb entitled Once a Goddess which is the first installment of what is to be a trilogy on Brigid of Ireland. As the title notes, the trilogy starts of with a focus on Brigid as a Goddess. The next book in the series is about Brigid as a Druid, and is expected to come out in the Summer of 2012; the final book will be about her as a Saint, and a release date is yet to be determined.

Here is a mini bio about the author from her site:

Sheila Lamb is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her stories have appeared in Steel Toe Review, Soundzine, Referential Magazine, Santa Fe Writers Project, and elsewhere. Her short story Swim is a Pushcart nominee.

Sheila writes across a wide variety of genres, including short fiction, historical fiction, and educational curricula. A former history teacher, she has traveled throughout Ireland and participated in the Achill Archaeological Field School. She’s now a librarian and is currently at work on the rest of the Brigid trilogy as well as a short story collection.

You can find out more about her other published works and see her nifty blog on her website as well.

While some folks might disagree with the author's representations of Brigid as "aspects", as opposed to the Goddess and Brigid of Kildare being two completely different personalities, I hope that this wouldn't detour them from giving this book a try. {I lean towards thinking that they are two individuals and I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.}

The setting of the book is taken from The First Battle of Mag Tuired & The Second Battle of Mag Tuired, during which the Tuatha Dé Danann have a whole bunch of drama with the Fomorians and Fir Bolg.

It is no small task to take on such myths, put your own spin on it, and to do it well. Add into the mix picky readers such as myself and you've got a mountain to climb. Sheila has done a wonderful job filling in the gaps that one tends to find in many myths. With her insertion of more back story and "mundane" emotions, I think that most readers could relate to the characters quite easily.

There were a couple "who's who" mix-ups in the book, such as Morrígan being portrayed as a Fomorian instead of one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. This did irk me a bit, but most readers probably wouldn't care {I freely admit that I am a snob in this department!}. Overall though I think that this book is beautifully written and it is evident that a lot of love went into creating it.

If you like Irish mythology, are a devotee to Brigid, or if you simply enjoy reading "Goddess" genre, you should definitely give Once a Goddess a read. It is available in both paperback and ebook formats.



Friday, January 27, 2012

Farmers vs. Monsanto {in the U.S. Court System}

If you find yourself in NYC on January 31st, this event looks like the place to be:

On January 31st, family farmers from across the county will take part in the first phase of the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto's genetically modified (GMO) seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers' crops and open them up to abusive lawsuits.

As a result of aggressive lawsuits against farmers with contaminated crops, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

But farmers are fighting back!

The Federal District Court judge has agreed to hear oral arguments in this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward.

Occupy Wall Street Food Justice, Occupy Big Food and Food Democracy Now! will assemble in solidarity with farmers on the front lines of the struggle against corporate domination of our food system.

There is more info on the actual case at Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, Food Democracy Now!, and from the Public Patent Foundation website:

In March 2011, PUBPAT filed suit on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations against Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. In June, 2011, 23 additional plaintiffs were added to the suit, bringing the total number to 83.

PUBPAT encourages the public to not buy any products made with corn, soy, sugar, canola, cotton or alfalfa unless you are certain it was made without any use of genetically modified seed. If you're not sure, call the manufacturer and ask. If they can't or don't give you a straight answer, then don't buy their product. The proponents of genetically modified seed have vigorously opposed labeling of genetically modified food here in America (although Europe and Asia have such labeling), so to make this effort easier on your fellow Americans, once you know whether certain products are derived from genetically modified seed or not, spread that information so others know. Increasing consumer awareness and demand for food not derived from genetically modified seed, even slightly, will increase the supply of the food we want, which will reduce prices and increase availability. If you want to purge genetically modified food from society, you can help do so every time you go to the grocery store or a restaurant. It's your money, spend it as you see fit.

PUBPAT also posted some interesting pieces from CBS news:

Definitely some food for thought.



B is for Brat Bríde {Pagan Blog Project}

{I just found out about the Pagan Blog Project and thought that I would have a go at participating. If you're a Pagan blogger you should consider signing up to participate too!}

Since it's almost Imbolc and this week's letter is "B", there is no way that I could have done this post without having Brigid as a part of it. I figured I would post one of my favourite Imbolc customs, laying out a brat Bríde {Brigid's mantle}.

A tradition from Ireland is for women to leave a piece of clothing, ribbon, or a piece of fabric out on the eve of Imbolc for Brigid to bless when she stopped by their house. Once blessed, it was then supposed to have healing and/or protective powers.

Midwives would use them to aid in the birthing process of their clients, and was a talisman for healing all sorts of ailments, such as headaches. It was also used by some for protection from the evil eye, maintaining a girl's virginity, to keep children from getting lost, and apparently was used for when cattle gave birth.

There were almost as many different rules on how to keep a brat Bríde as there were uses, and it pretty much depended on where in Ireland the tradition was being practiced. Some folks would only put out an item that was not cleaned to be blessed, and there were some who thought that the brat would loose its effectiveness once it was cleaned, post blessing. Another guideline was that the brat had to be put out every year, while others thought that the article would always hold its power, or would reach its full potential once left out for seven consecutive years.

To me personally the most important rule is to make Brigid's stop over a warm and hospitable one. One does not need a proper hearth to make it cozy for her, but some food and drink will definitely help. ;)

Obviously this was a custom practiced by Catholics for Saint Brigid, and there is speculation by some that many of the Imbolc traditions are carry over practices from pre-Christian times. There is probably no way of really knowing, but I don't see why this isn't a suitable custom for the Goddess Brigid as well.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some Inspiring & Interesting Articles

I thought that I would share a few great articles that have come across my path in the last little while.

First up is a freshly published article from Shameless Mag called The New Face of Farming, about young Canadian women in sustainable agriculture.

Thanks to Seren over at Tairis for originally posting a link to Rethinking Imbolc by Mary Jones. It's an excellent and timely read for Pagans.

And thanks to Jasmine of The Dreaming Chaos Speaks for introducing me to the article You Can’t Google it and Get it Back: Why the Death of Tribal Languages Matters by Joanna Eede.

Jasmine made a video {posted below} starting a discussion about what types of measures can be taken to preserve tribal languages and cultures. This is something that I hope to touch on outlining some of my ideas at some point in the near future.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Luverly of the Week: Winter Treats by Tatiana Bulyonkova

Freezing Weather, Warm Hearts

I hope that all of our readers had a wonderful holiday and are having a great 2012 so far! The last few weeks have been a blend of merriment, exploration and a little hard work.

Being Winter in Northern Ontario, it is safe to say that it has been very cold with plenty of the white stuff on the ground. So lots of shoveling, with the reward of some hot cider after battling with the piles of snow. ;)

We have been settling nicely into our new place, but one of the few drawbacks here is some of the windows are old and do not keep the heat in. This is something our landlord promised to remedy next Spring. One of the nice surprises is the visits from Old Jack Frost...his kisses look like a woodland scene to me. <3

Besides getting to know the quirks of our house, I have been braving the cold to explore our new area a little more. Which reminds me, if you live in a similar climate, nothing keeps tootsies warm like alpaca socks {!!!}. Every year we get a few pairs, and they are purchased from the wonderful folks at Back to the Garden Alpacas as well as Misty Haven Alpacas.

The lake has been completely transformed from this to what I can only describe as a ghostly tundra.

But our lane way definitely looks more welcoming.

A little while back, Ms Graveyard Dirt put a call out encouraging Pagans, Witches and other lovely magical folks to have a "Holy Supper" in honour of the Ancestors. {This is something that my household does around Yuletide anyways, especially since the passing of my Grandparents. Even though this isn't one of the cross-quarter days that I technically celebrate, Christmas has always been a tradition in my family, and a holiday that I know was important to my "immediate" Ancestors.} Anyhoo, I thought that this was a wonderful idea and signed up to participate.

While we did set food aside as offerings during our family Christmas dinner, I do like to have another one where our Ancestors are the guests of honour. Plus, that means more feasting and merriment for us. ;)

So I went at it in the kitchen,

{some of the last of our carrots from last year's garden}

and brought out our best and favourite dishes,

{a house warming gift from a friend. ain't it purrty? :D}

and ended up having colcannon, roast veggies, stuffing, oatmeal biscuts, mincemeat tarts, shortbread, along with plenty of mead, cider & whiskey.

Queen of baking I am not, so when something I bake turns out well I get a little giddy. This was the case for the shortbread I made, so I thought that I would share the recipe.

There are a few Irish cream shortbread recipes online, and this is my spin on it. I started with a part of a shortbread recipe found in Irish Food and Cooking by Biddy White Lennon & Georgina Campbell.

Irish Cream Shortbread

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened
6 tbsp sugar*
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
6 tbsp Baileys Irish Cream

In a bowl cream sugar and butter. Whip up until it's light and fluffy. Then stir in vanilla and almond extracts along with the Irish cream. Add in flour and cocoa butter and work the mix {I find this is a job for bare hands} until it's smooth. Place dough in an oiled 9 inch pie plate and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.

*the recipe in Irish Food and Cooking called for caster sugar, but Cocoa Camino's cane sugar worked fine for me.

Well, that is all for now. Stay warm folks!