…winter’s grand entry…

11 Jun

Little robin redbreast fluttered across the icy white frost like little flame bursts of energy against the pellucid Hoare.  

Kanga, munching snap frozen tips of grass, decided that our seedling Eucalypts would make a tasty snack…”nope we’ll spit that out, all but the new succulent leaves…and then, just for good measure we’ll toss it around a bit!”

Poor little trees…nature can be rough…healthy kanga though! There are a  lot of babies again this year…all legs and playfulness; then there’s the fox still dropping by….she sits outside the bathroom window and I always know she’s there long before I actually go to look…I swear I can hear her in my head. The crazy raven still visiting too, muttering from the roof in her guttural raven tongue…sometimes I think I can almost hear words…at least most of us can relate to talking to oneself.

Post Samhain…time to sit and observe the years passing from one season to another before the first seeds are sown in trays in the propagation house. The cuttings from Roses, Lombardy Poplars,  Silver Birch and Pussy Willow are all rooting and sprouting…Pussy Willow, cut down in her prime for daring to spread her roots too far into the underground water pipes, right on Lammas too. She would be proud to see all the stripling, born from those now dead branches, the rest having gone to the Samhain pyre.

 I’ve mourned her 14 year presence after the plumber, ‘took her out,’…what a shock that was, to come home and find her gone.

The Wrens, Little Jacky Winter, Finches, Sparrows, little orange beaked Blackbirds, Grey Thrushes and Rosella still fly to where her ‘etheric outline’ can still be seen; they come to a screeching halt and land on the ground instead. I wonder if her energy will last as long as we keep the memory of her…personally I’ll never forget her red tipped buds in late winter, that burst into soft white furriness in early spring. Thee little babies grown from her limbs will be a living testimony to her memory.

Planning time and for the preparation of soil and mulch for the new veggie beds…the chooks are about to  have a ball in the greenhouse…’de-pesting’ the ‘bum to bum’ bugs and aphids that have taken out the tops of some of the sprouting broccoli…(we’ve never had aphids before so I think they must have come in on the seedlings I was given…grrrr). They’ll enjoy digging over the old dead growth of Pumpkin, Zucchini and Brassica leaves that add nitrogen to the soil… just add  chook manure…seaweed and a pile of mulch and we’ll be all set to rotary hoe.

Onions, garlic and leeks are all well on the way…time to make some horseradish relish to keep away the winter chills…soup weather’s here and the pumpkins are ready…they’ve been drying off on the deck since Samhain…mmmm…off to the kitchen we go…blessings…silver

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…Hedgewitch New Year

4 May

…Samhain is past and “right on time” the farmers were out harvesting potatoes on the dry day of May 1st…if I wore a watch I could set it by this harvest time. We tend to leave ours in the ground until we need them unless it’s a wet season…and then there’s pumpkins…

It has been the most beautiful Autumn…the colours and scents more woody-perfumed than anything I can remember for years…although this has always been my favourite time…huge pine mushrooms can be found along the lanes under the conifers and our paddocks will soon be full of wild field mushrooms free for the taking. Wild mushrooms…wild sorrel soup with garlic and a rich aromatic, home-made broth…a source of natural protein, iron and sheer delight!

A few weeks ago I was gifted with two horseradish seedlings so the winter blues will not visit us here.

Our greenhouse is full with late tomatoes, capsicum, chard, silverbeet, mustard greens and tiny eggplant are just coming on, as are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, late zucchini and lettuce…then of course there’s pumpkins!

Samhain is our new year festival and is a celebration of three-day duration. April 30 th is All Hallows Eve and has nothing to do with the abomination of Halloween ghouls and ghosties but the time we honour our ancestors and ancestry; May 1st is the Samhain Rite and we celebrate endings for new beginnings as we move into the darker half of the year.

It’s a time for being quiet and for contemplation and planning for the next cycle on the Wheel of the Year…of course…then there’s the pumpkins! Ours, at the altitude we live, are not quite ready but it is pumpkin harvest and the tradition of carving them with grimacing faces was to chase away any negative energy but also the candles lit within, are to lead those who have gone astray, home to the summercountry…and on that note….pumpkin soup, muffins, scones, quiche, frittata, casseroles, stuffing for zucchini, eggplant, capsicum or potato…mixed with a little wild rice, herbs and garlic for risotto…oh the ideas are endless. They match the colours of Autumn leaves and are rich and sustaining through winter…then of course there’s pumpkin relish!

Something is very different this year…the Little Jackie Winters, Red and Yellow Breasted Robin and numerous other small birds have flocked back to us very early indeed….but there’s been a plague of moths so they are a delight to watch, along with the “stay around local,” such as magpie and raven, kurrawong and kookaburra, cuckoo-shrike and dusky wood-swallows, fire-tails and finches, just to name a few. It’s a beautiful sight to see magpies leaping in the air while the swallows swoop to gobble up the latest free meal Mother Nature has provided.

Hawthorn berries are still clinging like red limpets to the otherwise barren branches and the last elderberries have been harvested mostly by the ravens from the very top of the trees…Oh and then…did I mention the pumpkins ?

…last night, Lady Moon was an eye in the sky,

…watching wild spirits as the wind blew them by

…sensing the veils thin, trees wept their leaves

…as Samhain approaches the Lady bequeaths;

…all life that is fading She will renew,

…like silvery droplets of morning fresh dew

…blessings on your harvest and happy new year…silver

…autumn days continued…

6 Apr

…more halcyon days as the wheel turns on. A Full Moon that looked like a yellow butter ball filled the eastern sky as She rose and an Owl called before landing with a clatter on the roof.

It’s time to put a lot of things to bed in the garden…guarding them from early frosts. Fifty, seedling, native flowering gums and ten She Oaks to be planted this week. I love the to hear the wind in She Oaks; their soughing cry almost eerily human. We had to sacrifice a beautiful pussy Willow this week as she’d managed to invade all the pipes from the house to the sand pit…her roots had caused a major messy (and need I add) smelly blockage! I miss her though; it’s as if an old friend has passed away…I communicated daily with her.

It’s a strange season this year and I sense a long cold winter ahead. Plants that don’t usually appear until early spring are already breaking ground in a hurry to seed before the first frost hits…birds have returned, Red and Yellow breasted Robins, Grey Thrush, Little Jackie Winter, Song Thrush, Cuckoo Shrikes and little yellow beaked Blackbirds have all reappeared very early, not usually arriving until Samhain in a few weeks time. Curious I think and this has alerted me to the changes in our climate and shifting seasons more and more. There is no better way to gauge what’s going on in the locale than by observation of the movement of birds and the sparsity or abundance of various bird berry plants…even the holly trees have red berries that don’t usually turn until just before Yule, in June. I love sitting in the studio watching all of this unfold…I can see them but they can’t always see me due to the reflective glass…brilliant.

Also time to watch out for hibernating and mating bugs…the green house is still full of red and black beatles but garlic and chilli spray is causing a mass exodus now and the chookhens are having a field day chasing some very lively bugs with chilli in their eyes…poor things…still we have to eat too!

…apropos the studio; 8,000 words have been added to Silver’s Threads Book 1 this week…nearly ready for a first run…hmmm…self publish, e-book, publishers and agents…a huge dilemma. I think e-book would be the fastest way to my work out in the public domain though! Decisions, decisions!!

…may your full moon days be dreamy and blessed…silver

…post equinox…magickal days

30 Mar

….just dropping by to say hello…as are the *conversation of Ravens” that are raiding the last of the elderberries…dropp’ins being the operative word !! It’s been a week of writing non-stop between weeding and ‘chookhen-house’ cleaning. Silver’s Threads book 1 of my urban Fantasy series will soon be out and about.

Woke to a raucous dawn chorus…a chill, crisp and sunny day. Last night the stars were so close your could almost hear them glittering; I swear they have moved closer….the moon has been orange all week and venus the size of a tennis ball.

It’s an interesting year…so many birds: so many I’ve never seen before in our neck of the woods. Our regular Kookaburra pair are back with their young for the hunting season; we have a plague of rats and mice at the moment. The mice are the native marsupial variety and very cute they appear…thing is when you walk into your greenhouse and find them performing acrobatics on the tomato vines…nibbling perfect circles from unripe fruit, well something has to go ! Missss pussss is certainly doing her bit but the dilemma is always how to move critters and bugs on without killing them?

This doesn’t always work sadly but when it comes to hard work and rewards of the harvest…hmmm!! We have a visitation of little black and red bugs and I don’t mean Ladybugs either….I’ve had a lot of patience with them…chatted to them nicely about greener pastures but there they are. Garlic and Pyrethrum spray moves them off the greens and onto the fruit…natural bio white oil moves them off the fruit and back to the greens…now I’m sad to say they will die drunkenly happy in deep bowls of beer. They wander in take a slurp and oops…slip…result a disgusting mess of bugs that I am then supposed to put in an old blender, water down and then spray back on their favourite goodies of the moment! I hope they’re not of the cannibalistic nature!

I certainly miss my little Terrier where the rats are concerned although, yet again, these are not ugly city beasties with orange teeth but pretty natives with a soft white underbelly and light tan coats…outside I’m not too worried…in my pantry…well pretty doesn’t count, sorry! I’m sure there are many pacifist/vegetarians that have the same dilemma but there again even for us it has to be survival of the fittest I guess. I’ve tried catching them and moving them off property but it seems there is always another just waiting for a vacancy. Stay outside and you live…move in and you may meet Missss Pussss….

Suddenly everyone is giving the home garden a try; I love the community that’s growing from shared ideas and recipes; swapping seeds and seedlings and hearing about what grows in one garden but won’t flourish in another. Between work and writing, green growing things are my haven of peaceful activity and of hard work too.

All in all, autumn days are still long and gentle…more bright days when the sun is lovely to work in without the fierce heat of summer and the mornings begin to be chill; mushroom and other colourful fungi appear overnight. Spiders are launching themselves from every blade of grass and the leaves, silvered with frosty dew, are changing their colours from last weeks green and yellow to this weeks amber, gold and red…even mother nature likes to change her clothes.  Around the district the grape vines are claret coloured and the Oak, Beech and Elms are changing their coats curiously early. Time to pick the last of the Haw berries that mother nature has kindly dried on the tree and the blackberries small and sweet that will make a lovely syrup. The young elder and blackberry wines I made at the beginning of the season are starting to look crystal clear…it’s my first attempt at wine making so here’s cheers to that…blessings…silver

…equinox…autumn days linger…

23 Mar

…autumn days are here with a vengeance…from four seasons in one day to a howling, icy wind that’s blowing the falling leaves around in colourful swirls. I am truly hoping there won’t be an early frost, for that turns the luscious little, still green pumpkins to mush!

In the life of a hedgewitch it’s just past Equinox; Mabon as it’s known…second harvest when the last berries are ripe, small and sweet in the hedgerows. You can tell it’s going to be a cold winter  by the amount of berries on the brambles and hawthorns…even the Holly has a few ripening already, although we don’t usually expect them this early. Nature tells us everything if we have the eyes to see…even some of the winter visiting birds are back as the sudden cold snap hits…time to cover the more sensitive plants…just in case…otherwise we learn the true meaning of a species and why they are called “Squash!”

My favourite time as life moves into quietness once the harvest is in and the ground is prepared for the winter crops to be planted…beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chard, kale, spinach and silverbeet…winter lettuce and many of the winter, cool climate herbs are planted now…horseradish for instance a wonderful belly warmer and cure all for sore throats, coughs and colds…together with elderberry and yarrow, garlic and peppermint…this aids the worst of the winter ills…if you’re prone to them.

…Mabon; time for celebration as the Wheel turns once around

…bless your  harvest of creation…manifest it..let it ground

…Leaves are changing…colours joyful, all about abundance blooms

…blessed nature brings you flowers, let their scent pervade your rooms

…Seasons change; becoming quieter, moving us to a simpler place

…let it happen…journey inwards…deep within your dreaming space.

..a belated blessings for Mabon and for your Dark Moon Esbat…

Mabon

Once again the wheel turns on season to season, from dark to light and back again. Autumn Equinox, the Mabon Rite, a minor Sabbat but no less a powerful time of the turning as for a brief moment the length of day and night are equal.

The harvest of grapes, apples, pears and in some regions olives is here. All the abundance of nature at her best a and a time for the hedgewitch to reap the rewards on their own turning, changing wheel of life. The sun will be diminished; the daylight hours grow shorter and the hours of night extend. Crisp, cool, starlit nights with the first early frost making their presence felt and the howling gales of March, with their accompanying rain storms are a given.

The celebration of Mabon is exactly that a celebration of thanks for all the abundant rewards that nature brings but also the rewards of what we have achieved on a personal level…work, friendships, goals attained, dreams fulfilled, that were the seed thoughts sown in spring, now ripe for the plucking.

The Wild Hunt

The Greenman God of the Wicca is the Horned God, the ancient God of Fertility: the God of forest, flock, and field and also of the hunt. He is Lord of Life, and the Giver of Life, yet He is also Lord of Death and Resurrection. For, like the Goddess, the nature of Her Horned Consort is also dual. For the Horned God is not only the Hunter, He is also the Hunted; He is the Sun by day, but He is also the Sun at Midnight; He is the Lord of Light, but He is also the Lord of Darkness: the darkness of night, the darkness of the Shadows, the darkness of the depths of the forest, the darkness of the depths of the Underworld.
The Horned God is the group soul of the hunted animal, invoked by the primitive shaman and the tribe: and as such, He is the Sacrificial Victim, the beast who is slain that the tribe might live, a gift from that group soul, who was often revered as the tribal totem or ancestral spirit. The Celts believed they were the descendents of the God of the Underworld, who was also the God of Fertility: the Latinized form of His name was Cernunnos, which means simply, the Horned One.
He is also the spirit of vegetation, of the green and growing things, whether of the vine or of the forest or of the field. Dionysos, Adonis; in my culture Herne the Hunter and many other vegetation and harvest Gods were all often depicted as horned, wearing the horns of the bull, the goat, the ram, or the stag: of whichever of the horned beasts was held sacred in that place and time. This aspect is the Dying and Resurrecting God who dies with the harvest and is rent asunder, as the grain is gathered in the fields; who is buried, as is the seed; who then springs forth anew, fresh and green and young, in the spring, reborn from the Womb of the Great Mother.
The Horned God is not “the Devil”, except to those who fear and reject Nature, and the Powers of Life and human sexuality, and the ecstasy of the human spirit. The Horned God is the God of the Wiccae….Blessed Be…silver
The copyright to the text in this post belongs to Silver (Penny Reilly)

…autumn days…cont.

19 Mar

Bright sunshine and a cool breeze greeted us this morning. Finally time to cut the heads off the sunflowers…I always feel it’s a somewhat ghoulish task…”off with their heads!” The chookhens will thank me later I’m sure and dry roasted with Tamari, they’re a wonderful nibbly treat with a glass of something bubbly!

Even though the corn is only very short there are now plump, ripening cobs, small and juicy to steam and slather with butter.

The new seedlings are growing fast…it’s amazing the difference a week of rain and sunshine makes…already the chard, mustard greens and silver beet are ready as too are the next crop of snowpeas…so much growth…so much to do. Beets and zucchini to pickle (again) this week and a herb harvest of lemon balm to hang to dry. A wonderful “pick me up” tea and for those who have overindulged, a great digestive too.

The second round of blackberry picking is happening everywhere in the district. it’s great to see whole families picking (and eating) the bounty that’s free in nature, just in hedgerows. This of course is not on the main roads but on our more inaccessible back roads…well kept secrets that only locals know…we don’t tend to have top of the range 4×4’s but rather more ancient bush bashing Utes that withstand the ungraded back ways.

I saw a huge puff-ball this morning…irridescent with dew…lovely to look at, not to touch. There’s nothing in nature that eats them except a few silly mice and rats who, after a small nibble are totally “off their faces,” before finding a hole to crawl away into…probably with a mega hangover to follow…or worse if they’ve eaten too much. What is the universal pull to eat mind altering substances that even our fur friends have to try it on for size? Field mushrooms are popping up everywhere so once again I must remind myself to take a course or buy a book on identification or we could end up like the poor wee mice!

It’s a day for writing, with breaks for garden work, intermittantly…Silver’s Threads, Book 1 is on the way and there is a part of me torn between getting it finished and working out in the sunshine before the next bout of cold and wet arrives…as it will soon. Often, as I work outside, the words, images and the characters themselves solidify…I find if my hands are peacefully busy, my mind can just drift into the other realms of creative expression more readily.

It’s close to Moon Dark and so it’s a wonderful time for inner musings and meandering within the psyche; many of my characters emerge from this period of internal stillness. As plants above ground go into stasis for a few days, the energy of the dark moon-tide goes deep within the soil…getting to the roots of things, so to speak…to re-immerge in three days time when new shoots and fruits get a renewed burst of lunar energy at new moon…nothing remains static in life or in nature…we are after all, moving particles of energy and light…always changing never still.

…and so it’s off to the studio I go…away from cyber space and electronic wizardry…within minutes missss pussss will appear to demand entry and sit on the desk to swat at my hands as I draw or write…that is one thing that doesn’t change…blessings…silver

…autumns days (contn)

17 Mar

A day of great beauty began as clear and crisp as the best autumn day can. Blue skies with wispy horsetail clouds, telling of rain to come in a day or so. The ants too are busy carrying their eggs up high into the trees and centipedes are curled more than a meter from the ground. Nature has the answers in the smallest detail when we learn how to look with fresh eyes.

Spiders webs are spun gossamer fine, across every blade of grass and float in the air transporting the new hatchlings to pastures green. Recently small, blue-winged moths, that are only seen at this time of year, have emerged from their cocoons and flit through the grasses and among the newly “popping” field mushrooms. (Note to self: find a book on mushroom identification but I guess the ones that are edible would be the ones with the mouse teeth marks in them!)

A new bird flock is visiting. They are tiny, pale yellow puff-balls of feathered motion, bright yellow above the tail and between the wings and olive-green backs. Noisy and cheeky they arrive at dusk in a flurry, landing in a dead tree and then are gone just as quickly fifteen minutes later. The Kangaroos are back with young joeys; it seems we are to be the nursery again; a safe haven with no guns allowed.

This week Hawthorn Berries will be gathered for a tonic wine and the batches of elderberry wine will be ready to filter and bottle; it will be a couple of years before I can tell you how that turns out though!….and so the wheel turns on.

…flowers sway in constant motion

…nodding heads in quiet breeze

…nothing’s judged there’s no emotion,

…joy, or grief, nor cold to freeze.

…being is a simple pleasure;

…living now is all there is;

…be the poppy or the heather,

…you were simply born for this.

 
Don’t make life complex, keep it simple, be here now and simply live…or better said…live simply…blessings…silver