Happy Samhain!

You will all undoubtedly be aware of the commerciality of halloween, the ghoulish plastic ‘scarefest’ that will likely go on to pollute the earth in a genuinely scary way.

Halloween bares little resemblance to the original ancient festival of Samhain (‘sow-in’)

Samhain is a Sacred spritual point to mark the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker half. In ancient Irish tradition (my tradition) there are 4 festivals; 2 in each half of the year.

Bealtaine and Lughnasadh are celebrated in the lighter half of the year, Samhain and Imbolc in the darker half. The solstices and equinox’s being secondary to these four sacred festivals in the ancient Irish Celtic calender.

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Brigid is the ancient figure of a mother goddess in Celtic tradition, she has many historic references across Ireland and the whole of the UK,  traditions for worship of Brigid were heavily appropriated by Christianity and adopted into Irish Catholic myths and traditions for worshipping St Bridget (Brigit of Kildare).  In ancient Irish/celtic tradition is its said to be the night that Cailleach Beara (the hag of beara) is reborn. The hag of Beara is said to be Brigid in her crone form, in the ancient Irish tradition Brigid is depicted as a crone at this time of year. It is a time for quiet and reflection; for thankfulness and for greiving. Perhaps this is a time that we can turn to Brigid for healing, strength and inspiration.

I am She
that is the natural
mother of all things,
mistress and governess
of all the elements,
the initial progeny of worlds,
chief of the powers divine,
Queen of all that are in the otherworld,
the principal of them
that dwell above,
manifested alone
and under one form
of all the Gods and Goddesses.

– Lucius Apuleius

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“Brighid’s Walk” by Helen Nelson-Reed

As part of our celebrations and my personal reflection I began with a special harvest to reflect the sentiments of Samhain

A photographic study to display the colours , shape form and textures of seeds, vegetables and flowers at the end of the harvest. It reminded me of some of traditional oil painting ‘still life’ art studies. I selected textures and colours specifically.

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Whilst spending time in the garden this week I have been acompanied by our robin. I have read that if you look at the tops of their heads you might be able to make out if you have a male or female; the female has a more pronounced ‘V’ where the brown meets the red, the male has more of a ‘U’ I think I have a male. He told me he was anyway 😉 haha he’s very communicative, robins are known for singing to you and keeping you company in the garden, noone quite knows why they sing that way -seemingly  alone in the garden and not specifically to signal to other birds. They are really quite sociable. I know of two people who feed the robins in their gardens by hand 🙂

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He turns is head a little to the side sometimes when I talk to him

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Look at his little feet!

I have used all of these plants/flowers and seeds from my garden and have preserved many for different uses which are explained and shared on this blog. Many ar estill to come, and I intend to be learning a great many more 🙂

I gifted some preserved treats to friends as a way of celebrating the year end, and preparing for the winter and darker half of the year

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We have also spent time as friends and families exploring nature and foraging.

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I photographed these swans in spring at this pond

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Now at the end of the growing season their grey feathers are malting away and they glide with the poise of  confident swans.

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It is good to take stock of all that has grown

including ourselves.

This photo is of my youngest and my friends youngest, you would think they were family or spend a great a deal of time together. It reminded me that children are filled with unconditional love and share it with the world, and each other without a second thought. Its a good thing to remember as an adult in a world where sometimes we are encouraged to fear others.

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We found pine cones and shaggy ink caps (I have posted a recipe for them here uner ‘forage’)

We found a few pine cone keep sakes that we are going to decorate our Christmas tree with.

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I didnt use the one turning black as I find them unpleasant then. I think they are an acquired taste,  just enough to make a supper for myself.

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I plan to spend the next few days thanking the earth for the abundance that nature provides and for all that she has taught me this last season.

A more connected meaningful life has brought me deep joy, balance and satisfaction. It has been my first growing season, growing fruit vegetables and flowers from open pollinated seeds, planting trees, becoming aware of permaculture -something I was intuitively doing and now being able to refer to it and draw from it to enhance progress and take things further, it makes so much sense to me.

I have plans for the coming months and for next year. I feel empowered and truly happy at living the life I want to, in the way I want to. I will spend time to reflect over all that I have learned before I begin to lay those new plans.

I will become aware of my roots and strength to take me forward.

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I have my special first home made candle to light in quiet contemplation. To say goodbye to insecurities and too much self doubt, to a nagging in the subconscious that somewhere I have done something wrong or that I am not good enough.

I intend to embrace the future with a new sense of purpose and confidence and to know that I can make a difference to my life and that of others, that I already am.

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I will reflect on my ancient Irish roots, my family and in particular my mother and her mother.

I can not, sadly, remember and reflect on my grandmother or her passing as we were denied that time and the chance to know her, but I will refect on my ties to her, that I have her eyes, I see and feel her within them.

I know her spirit and sense her with me. I will reafirm my intent to seek justice, healing and peace, and to help ease the suffering of my mother, and many others.

Tonight after writing the above I completed a little samahin “(sow-in”) art using natural symbols of growth, harvest and light. I had been making ruby sauerkraut with the last of the red cabbages and thought the stems were beautiful and that I should use them somehow.

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Sage smells like incense, it felt cleansing.

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Objects were placed and retrieved with a clockwise/wheel motion.

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 At the end it felt like a prayer or a ritual and had somehow given me strength.

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I found myself saying thankyou, perhaps a little intuitive blessing on our home.

Oh and of course we have carved a pumpkin too

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I have saved the seeds to toast; a favourite snack, and the flesh for soup or a pasta sauce

After much indecision we opted for natural symbols

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