Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Luverly of the Week Herbert Enjoys Comfy Chairs From Maggie's World

Isn't Herbert so bloody cute? I could just squish him! :D Maggie's World has a whole series with Herbert, including plushies {so you all can squish Herbert!}. Here are some of my other favourites from the shop:

Herbert Dreams of a Real Bed

Herbert Meets a Yak

And not Herbert, but awesome anyways:


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Conference about Local Food & the History of Subsistence Comes to North Bay

This week from October 2nd to the 4th, there is a Conference about local food and the history of subsistence coming to North Bay. It is being hosted by Department of History and the Canada Research Chair in Environmental History at Nipissing University and Network in Canadian History of the Environment.

The Conference is being kicked off with a panel discussion with some Near North Locavores members, as well as a local producer. The info about this even was forwarded by one of the organizers, James Murton:

Contemplating Local Food: An Evening at the Kennedy Gallery

Where does your food come from? Does it matter? How do you "eat locally" in northern Ontario?

On Friday evening, October 2, join a panel of local food providers and activists for a lively discussion of why local food matters, and what they are trying to do about it.

Brought to you by the Department of History and the Canada Research Chair in Environmental History at Nipissing University, and the Network in Canadian History of the Environment.


Jeremy St. Onge, wild foods enthusiast, aminita to zinania
Dave Lewington, Dalew Farms, Lavigne, ON
Lucy Emmott, gardener

Where and When

Friday, Oct 2, 6:30 pm (panel begins at 7:30)
W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery
150 Main St E
North Bay, ON

For more information contact James Murton at jamesm at nipissingu dot ca (replace "at" and "dot" with appropriate symbols) or 705 474-3450 x4402.

The actual Conference will be held at Nipissing University's Monastery Hall from October 3rd to the 4th. You can find more info about it here.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Autumn Equinox! {And a Blog Makeover}

We hope that all of our fellow Northerners have a fantastic first day of Fall! If you can, do out and take a boo at the trees, and have a nifty little feast! :D

As you probably noticed, we did a little Autumn makeover for the blog. Both the banner and background are ours, so if you find that the blog is 'buggy', please let us know!

Both were designed on Scrapblog and our little Nightingale friend is back from Faery Land!


Aymi & Laurel

Monday, September 21, 2009

Colourful Season of Plenty

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.'
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

~To Autumn by William Blake, 1783.

For us folks in the Northern half, the time of falling leaves and feasting on Autumn's bounty is upon us! Even though we had a pretty crappy Summer, I am thankful for Autumn to be here, as it is my favourite season! :D

The Autumnal Equinox happens on September 22nd this year, and is of course the day when light and dark are pretty much in balance.

There are many different festivals coming up over the next little while, and most of them about celebrating the harvest and giving thanks. It is a time to start to relax a little bit more (well, hopefully!) as Nature gets ready for her long Winter slumber.

Many neo-Pagans and Wiccans call the Autumnal Equinox Mabon, which is apparently named after Welsh hero Mabon ap Modron by Aidan Kelly in the 1970's. Neo-Druids call this holiday Alban Elfed.

Heathens and Odinists also celebrate the Autumnal Equinox, which for them marks the beginning of the second harvest, and take the opportunity to give thanks to the Vanir. According to Odin's Volk historical celebrations would consist of:

Bonfires, feasting and dancing played a large part in the festivities. Even into Christian times, villagers cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames, cattle having a prominent place in the pre-Christian Germanic world.With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit their hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together.

Of course, soon it will also be Thanksgiving for us in Canada, as well as Erntedankfest in Germany, Harvest Home, and Michaelmas for others.

Just like with Lughnasadh, there are several folks who mention sacrifices being made around this time to promote fertility.

In ancient Greece, women held a festival in honour of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone called Thesmophoria, which happened over three days, likely October 11th to 13th. Autumn sowing would take place with seed that had been laid on altars with the remains of sacrificed pigs. The participants, being only women would implore that fertility be continued not only for the fields, but for themselves as well (Greek Popular Religion by Martin P. Nilsson).

The Romans would also make a sacrifice on October 15th to Mars for a good harvest; the sacrifice being what Sir James George Frazer calls 'the October horse' in The Golden Bough. After a chariot race, the horse on the right side (the wrong side for him!) of the winning team would be stabbed with a spear, and have his head hung with loaves and his tail would hang in the king's hall.

Mike Nichols has an article Harvest Home that says that the Autumnal Equinox is symbolized by a God of light being overcome by his 'alter-ego', a God of darkness:

Mythically, this is the day of the year when the god of light is defeated by his twin and alter-ego, the god of darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. And as I have recently shown in my seasonal reconstruction of the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd, the Autumnal Equinox is the only day of the whole year when Llew (light) is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat him. Llew now stands on the balance (Libra/autumnal equinox), with one foot on the cauldron (Cancer/summer solstice) and his other foot on the goat (Capricorn/winter solstice). Thus he is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).

Two things are now likely to occur mythically, in rapid succession. Having defeated Llew, Goronwy (darkness) now takes over Llew's functions, both as lover to Blodeuwedd, the Goddess, and as King of our own world.

You can see Mike Nichols' take on this whole story here.

Legendary Dartmoor (thanks for the head's up for this site Bek!), the 'neck' was actually an image of a female doll, and after the 'Crying the Neck', she would be placed on a kitchen table or hung up. She would stay there until either after Christmas or for a whole year, when she would then be fed to a favourite 'beast in the stall' or burnt.
In parts of England there was a custom (like similar ones that can be found in Scotland and the Isle of Man) where a doll would be made from grains of the last harvest, and would be dressed up in some pretty duds, crowned with flowers, and may even don a sickle. Folks would parade her around and she would be followed by cheers, music, and general merriment. The procession would make their way to an awaiting feast (The Origins of Popular Superstitions and Customs by T. Sharper Knowlson).
A tradition that comes from Devon and Cornwall called 'Crying the Neck' seems to be one that is still carried out. The ceremony was usually held at the last harvest, where a small bit of the best grain was gathered by a senior reaper arranges the grain into a 'neck'. Everyone in the field gathers round and they go through a series of movements and yelling 'the neck! the neck!' and 'wee yen! wee yen!' three times. After this all the men would try to get the neck and whoever had it would make a dash for a house where a lady would be waiting with a kiss(Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt).

A less joyous English tradition described in Folk-lore of Shakespeare by T.F. Thiselton Dyer apparently used to be taken up in Warwickshire, where during Harvest Home a trial would be set up to try labourers who were naughty in the fields over the season. Whoever was found guilty would be seated on a bench and then would be pummeled by a pair of boots.

Besides feasting (we need nary an excuse to do that 'round here!), many of us gardeners and farmers will soon also getting our gardens and fields ready for Winter.

In the next two or three weeks I will be getting the last of my harvest and wildcrafting in, planting next year's garlic, and cleaning up the garden (as well as getting lasagna beds set up!). Around this time I will do my final seasonal offerings and a ritual of thanks to the Genii Loci I work with.

Just like at Lughnasadh, this is a great time to make wreaths and garlands from grains and late flowers, as well as corn dollies. And fallen leaves will most likely be at your disposal now too!

If you are setting up an altar, other pretties that are suitable to put on it are gourds, dried corn, dried berries, acorns and other nuts, apples, and pomegranates. Images or figurines of horses and pigs, as well as a horn of plenty and sickle are all suitable symbols as well. For candles, great colours are red, orange, yellow, and brown. As far as crystals, great ones for Autumn are citrine, jasper, sapphire, lapis lazuli, and tiger's eye.

This leafy lad sits on my altar.

For recipes, check out the post I did last year for Autumn. And here are a few more:

Raspberry Wine



Friday, September 18, 2009

Luverly of the Week: Rest at Harvest by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Just Some Updates!

I feel like we have been kind of neglecting our little blog as of late, which come the end of the growing season, I am sure both Aymi and I will be posting more. We both have been busy doing several different things, so here are just a few quick updates.

First, I forgot to announce on here that card readings are again available at our Etsy shop. Aymi and I are working on other artistic projects that will probably make there way into our shop a little later on as well. She has been working on some great jewelry and I have been working on some collage posties with a homesteading theme, so stayed tuned!

It seems that I might also be offering in-person readings for folks in the public at large in North Bay. For quite a while this is a service that I have offered to people that I know in a barter/trade system {a currency that I am admittedly a lot more comfortable with!}, as well as some folk magic and healing services.

Over the Summer I have had a few paid in-person sessions with people that I don't know, and been getting requests for more, so this is another avenue I am going to explore further. If you are in town and are looking for this type of service, feel free to send me an email{our email is on the side under 'Drop Us a Line'}.

It has started to get cold here in Northern Ontario at night, and the garden is deciding that it is time to wrap up the season. I am a little sad about that because I don't think we had much of a Summer, but all in all I am pleased with how the garden produced.

I was supposed to go camping this weekend in Algonquin Park, but the weather looks like it will be pretty blah, so I will probably spend it in the garden to start to get it ready for Winter {*sniff* *sniff*}.

A while ago I had pressed charges against a family member for historical abuse and it looks like it is finally starting to go through our legal system. A part of me is glad, but another part is anxious. I suppose this is normal, but it has been consuming a larger part of me emotionally than I would like. Maybe I will get into this a little more later.

Finally, if you are a homesteader {seasoned, wet behind the ears, or just in the dreaming stages!} you should come on over to Cold Antler Farm's forum. It is brand-spankin' new, but already has a wealth of knowledge and story swapping going on!



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Videos: Plants for the Dying & Deceased {Parts I and II}

Ya, I have pretty much decided that making videos is quite enjoyable. ;) Here are the latest:



Sunday, September 13, 2009

My First Video: No Man's Land

I've never created a video before, so I had no idea how much time and work goes into making a 5 minute video before. Maybe it took longer for me because I am such a 'noob'. It's pretty rough, so hopefully I will get better the more I make.

Anyhoo, here it is! It's called Practical Superstitions: No Man's Land and is the first episode in a series I want to do {that being about customs and superstitions that useful to keep going}. This one is pretty much a video version of a blog post that I did a while back, which can be found here.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

And the Sloppy 'Academic' Award Goes to....

Wanna good laugh? Watch this video, because this woman is a real piece of work.

For someone who trumpets themselves as an academic, I find it surprising that she lumps the Celts together in one category. Also, she likes to lump all Pagans in together, essentially claiming that we are all intellectually bankrupt.

If you can get past that, along with all of her babbling about Jesus being ‘the true God’, you might be interested in what I suppose is the purpose of her making this video. She is claiming that the Celtic tribes and Druids were monotheists.

I have my own doubts about that, but am willing to entertain the possibility that some of the Celtic peoples were monotheists.

It is clear from much of the lore that many ancient peoples (including Celts) payed homage to a host of deities, whether it was Lugh, Macha, Arawn, or a deity of a particular area or family. Now some may have seen all the Gods/Goddesses as one universal deity, which would have made them pantheists.

From my own research using what I think are sound sources (no, I am not an academic, and never claim to be one), it seems that it is widely accepted that the Celtic peoples were at least in part, polytheists.

The book that she is talking about in this video is called The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature by Jean Markale. I have not read it, so I cannot comment on it. Have any of you read it?




Yesterday while I was working the Farmers' Market booth I started to get itchy, watery eyes and was sneezing up a storm. I knew for sure that my allergies were kicking in for the season, and I found that the culprit was the luverly HUGE batch of basil that a sweet friend gave to me when she was stopping by to say 'hello'.

*Sigh* Basil does this to me at least once a year, but I still love it!

In the Spring I posted an article that a friend wrote about teas for hayfever, which folks might find as a worth while read. There are also a couple of other natural alternatives to antihistamines that I know of that might be of interest to my fellow allergy sufferers as well.

The first one {which I have used and should have stuck with!} is propolis, which I can attest to its affectiveness. If you are in Near North Ontario definitely check out Board's Honey Farm proplis.

Below is a video with Susun Weed show how to make a ragweed tincture which is supposed to be a great preventative treatment for allergies.