Friday, 30 April 2010

Not forgotten and YAY!!!!

Hello, I've not forgotten the blog just been absolutely mental getting the last bits and bobs (cloak finally finished last night) sorted out for the weekend. Which finally starts today, yippee!!!! Well it'll start after one last bit of client visits. But the main thing is the weather, despite rotten forecasts the Sun is shining, so fingers crossed it stays that way for the whole weekend.

I'll be poping back every now and then this weekend to share the photos but not promising much written content until I recover (which has got to be Wednesday at the earliest, hehe)!

Blessed Beltane for everyone tomorrow, we will be on the hill welcoming in the new days Sun, hope you all have a great weekend, toodlepips for now...............

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A simple Beltane explanation

I bought a lovely jacket from SuSu MaMa last year and ever since have subscribed to her newsletter. Today's one turned up with this lovely simple explanation of what Beltane is. I was going to write a post on it in more detail after a friend asked me about it but thought I'd post this instead as it works much better!

"Spring has now properly sprung and on the 1st of May we celebrate Beltane, one of the great Celtic fire festivals. The word ‘Beltane’ comes from the Gaelic for the month of May. In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started at Beltane when the herds were driven into the open pastures. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits. Like its seasonal opposite, the festival of Samhain, Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Sources from around the 10th century state that the Druids of the community would create need-fires on top of a hill and drive the village's cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck. Boughs of juniper were sometimes thrown on the fires to add an additional element of purification and blessing to the smoke. People would also pass between the two fires to purify themselves. If a man was planning a long journey or dangerous undertaking, he would leap backwards and forwards trice through the fire for luck. As the fire sunk low, girls would jump across it to procure good husbands; pregnant women would step through it to ensure an easy birth, and children were also carried across the smoldering ashes. When the fire died down, the embers were thrown among the sprouting crops to protect them. Each household would carry some embers back to kindle a new fire in their hearth. Beltane was a time of fertility and unbridled merrymaking, when young and old would spend the night making love in the Greenwood. In the morning, they would return to the village bearing huge budding boughs of hawthorn (the may-tree) and other spring flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their houses. They would process back home, stopping at each house to leave flowers, and enjoy the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. In every village, the maypole—usually a birch or ash pole—was raised, and dancing and feasting began. Festivities were led by the May Queen and her consort, the King who was sometimes Jack-in-the-Green, or the Green Man, the old god of the wildwood. They were borne in state through the village in a cart covered with flowers and enthroned in a leafy arbour as the divine couple whose unity symbolized the sacred marriage of earth and sun."

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Stained glass Greenman

I love the way light plays on glass but am incapable of making stained glass as its such a tricky thing for a beginner like me. So baring that in mind and knowing Littleuns joy of all things Greenman I set of to come up with an alternative. This is it: A tissue paper “glass” which has a similar affect but is so much safer to do and Littleun can join in.

If you want to do one then you will need:

A2 size white card
Craft knife
Green tissues or cellophanes
Marker pen

Cut the card into 2 equal halves. Draw your Greenman design on one. Attach with clips the second bit of card behind the first.

Using the craft knife cut out areas inside the marked lines so that you can still see the lines clearly (will look a bit like the lead in a window after).

Remove second card when all cut out, turn the marked one over and start to glue the different bits of tissue/cellophane in place. When finished glue the backing card on.

Turn it over and trace the lines so that when you look at the Greenman from either side you will see the pattern. Hang where you will catch the light.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Birthday cake, with Love

So this week it is Littleun's Dads birthday and although he isn’t here Littleun and I thought we’d celebrate it yesterday by making a cake for him, just a big excuse to have some yummy cake all to ourselves.

The following recipe is all Littleun’s.

2 Eggs, including bits of shell,
Equal weights of butter, dropped on counter and spread about a bit first,
Equal weight of flour; don’t forget to tip bag on Cat below, no longer a Tabby but now a Pure White,
Equal weight of caster sugar; don’t even ask what happened with that, still finding bits in corners.

Get Mum to mix butter and sugar together, tickle her and laugh when mess ends up in her hair. Add eggs and flour dump some in the tin and hope that Mum doesn’t notice me taking the spoon, tastes nice. Whisper a wish over cake and get Mum to put it into oven. Turn oven up when Mum isn’t looking, much prefer crunchy cake.

Wait for “a while Littleun”, keep waiting and waiting and waiting, “isn’t it done yet Mum?”

Finally, get Mum to take cake out of oven, “What we can’t eat it yet?!”

Wait lots more time for it to get cold, even though I want warm cake. Mum cuts it in half, apparently knives are dangerous. Ask Mum to make something called frosting, not sure what that is but it is hard to lick off my nose, though Mum tells me to do this, think she’s winding me up.

Oooh Jam!! One spoon for cake, one for me. And so on. Stick top of cake on. Chuck the sticky stuff on the top.

Eat cake, yay. Give some to Cat when Mum isn’t looking, oops she’s coming back in, better put her piece back on the plate, tell her I love her…..
Happy Birthday Daddy.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Making your own Greenman

Littleun loves images of the Greenman and as Beltane isn’t far off we thought we give a go at making our own. All we used was some air drying clay, strong florist wire, leaf-shape cutter and different paints.

Roll out a circle of clay, press down to form base, leaving it to look like a mini hill. Pinch middle into a nose shape and eyebrows. With pencil make two small holes for the eyes, a mouth and nostrils.

Push the small bit of wire into the back to form a hoop which, when dry, you can hang the Greenman with.

Take leaf cutter and cut out leaves. Place leaves around the face in a pattern you like, attach using water and pressure.

When happy leave to dry for at least 48 hours.

Mix paints to form the shades of green you like and paint. Again leave to dry. When finished hang where-ever you like.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Littleun Beltane Outfit

Ok so I've finally finished Littleuns outfit and with just 3 weeks to go I'm desperately getting on with my own. I have had a lot of friends say thay will be coming to this years Jack in The Green and that it is their first time ever, so fingers crossed the Sun will be shining and everyone has a great time, although where I am going to put them all up I'm not sure!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Maypoles, Weaving & Beltane

What connection is there with maypoles in the UK and Beltane? Well that depends on your point of view. The idea of a maypole is to have ribbons attached to the top and children holding them at the bottom dance in a pattern that weaves the ribbons around the pole. So is this pagan? The symbolism is certainly phallic and as we all know Beltane is the celebration of fertility.

Over the years they have been banned as "a Heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness." by those lovely puritans (they really didn’t know how to have fun!). In the countryside, may dances and maypoles appeared sporadically even during the Interregnum, but the practice was revived substantially and joyously after the Restoration. By the 19th century, the maypole had been subsumed into the symbols of "Merry England". The addition of intertwining ribbons seems to have been influenced by a combination of 19th century theatrical fashion and visionary individuals such as John Ruskin in the 19th century. Pairs of boys and girls stand alternately around the base of the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon. They weave in and around each other, boys going one way and girls going the other and the ribbons are woven together around the pole until the merry-makers meet at the base.

The weaving is also something some pagans do in order to bind male and female as fertility ideals or as meditation process, it’s very calming! So are the ribbons just pretty Italianise symbols the Victorians added or is there another meaning?

Regardless of whether it is Pagan the maypole is an important part of the celebrations for many villages and towns. Ours will be on the Sunday together with the crowning of the May Queen and Garland competition. And if like me you haven’t got a garden that’ll take your own maypole you could always make a small version for your altar:

For this simple craft project, you'll need the following:
· A 1" thick dowel rod, about a foot long
· A wooden circle, about 4" in diameter
· Pieces of ribbon in various colours, about 2 feet long each
· A hot glue gun
Use the hot glue gun to attach the dowel rod to the centre of the wooden circle. Once the glue has dried, you can stain or paint the wood if you choose. Attach the centre of each ribbon to the top of the dowel rod, as shown in Figure 1. Weave as desired. (

Use the Maypole as a centrepiece on your altar. You can braid the ribbons as a meditation tool, or include it in ritual. Optional: add a small floral crown around the bottom to represent the feminine fertility of the Sabbat.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Blimey its Friday already!

This week has just gone by so fast. We have had some lovely weather which has meant that we have been out all week.

Tuesday was yet more Jack-ing, hundreds of green bits everywhere the over jacket is now coming to completion (will post photos when done). Wednesday was spent in the park with some friends. A great day playing around looking at the flowers and blossom whilst having a good old natter.

Yesterday was a family day to Portsmouth, We visited the Historic Docks though not the Mary Rose as the exhibit is closed till 2012 or sometime like that. Littleun really enjoyed himself and had great fun playing treasure hunt on the HMS Victory and looking at the HMS Warrior.

The HMS Victory was Nelsons Flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. Completed in 1765 but reserved until 1778 and costing £63,176, she was used steadily until her repairs in 1800.
Three years later she set sail as Nelson's flagship. Leaving Portsmouth at 227ft long and with 821 officers and men she was a sight to see.
Nowadays resting in dry docks at Portsmouth she has had many visitors admire her and we definitely appreciated the work that must have gone into her construction as well as the lives of the men who called her home for many months at a time.
The HMS Warrior completed almost a hundred years after the HMS Victory was at her time the largest, fastest and most heavily armed/armoured warship going.
At 418ft long she had 705 crew and cost a staggering £332,000 almost bankrupting the shipyard before the Admiralty stepped in. She is a mix of sail and steam with an iron hull, a fierce combination which allowed her to out-run and out-gun any and all her foes. Built with efficiency and attention to detail she really is my favorite of the two. The transition of technology at the time is clearly shown in her with the massive engine room just fascinating (well for a geek like me!) with the older style of fitting showing on some of the upper decks.
Littleun loved the messes and decided that the officer rooms were just what he wanted for his bedroom!

Today was spent swimming with my aunt. Littleun loves the water but at 4 still hasn't learnt to swim. Something that I am really keen on him to do as living by water I think for safety he should. However today he did his first proper moves, legs kicking arms desperately holding onto the tubular float he proudly started to move about. So many thanks R, glad you managed to get him going!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Been Drum Decorating

As the countdown continues, Littleun decided he wanted his Tambo/drum decorated. So after trying to work out what would go well on the skin we came up with this:
First we drew Cernunnos
Littleun wanted it bigger but as I had done it in ink we couldn't change it so have added a celtic knot
You can use inks, paints or in this case pencils to colour

Now he is digging out all the others he owns and wants them done too. I can see its going to be a task getting him to choose just one when Beltane arrives!

The pattern comes from a site I saw once, though I haven't ever managed to find it again so sadly can't give credit. If anyone knows can you tell me, I'll gladly add the original name.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

oooh ouch.....

Last night I caught up with an old friend who is back in town for a bit. It was great to chat and have an evening out where I could let my hair down. The part I forgot about going out (it's been a while!) is the horrendous hangover the next day. Normal painkillers just haven't made a dent so I've headed over to the old faithful books of Kate West and found the following:

"The Morning after the Night before"
3 Drops Rosemary
3 Drops Rosewood
3 Drops Rose

Add to bath and relax

Now feeling almost human again I look at my texts and find that I have an invite for a night out next week, think a trip to the shop for more oils might be needed in the next few days..

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Countdown has begun

I promise I'll not mention it too often but I am getting a little bit excited as its not long now till the best weekend of the year for this little household. The Jack in the Green weekend was revived in its current format 27 years ago and is a weekend of Morris Dance, music and fun before on the Monday the main event of Jack being released.

There are various characters in the parade:

The Jack; the centrepiece of the celebrations Jack-in-the-green is a traditional May Day figure. He may be a garland that has expanded in size dating from the 17th century but to others He is also a representation of The Green Man in his various forms.

The Bogies and Black Sal; The bogies are Jacks protectors, staying with him till the end ensuring his safety and "greening" anyone on the way. Sal is Jacks consort and also stays with Him till the end.

The Sweeps; Possibly the reason that the Jack started as he currently looks, the sweeps made the garland that eventually grew in size to cover a whole man.

The Giants; They have become part of the festival over the years celebrating a history of gianting through out Europe and representing various characters such as Herne and Andred.

Morris sides; Mad Jacks (responsible for this revival), Hannah's Cat and visiting sides show off their talents throughout the weekend before joining in the parade.

Rhythm Sections: And lastly the Drummers. Different groups, Section5, Pentacle Drummers, Rumpledrumskin and Sambalanco add the toe taping, body moving beats that will rumble throughout the town for the weekend. Various drummers have in past years helped welcome in the Dawn on Beltane plus a Drum Off on the Sunday.

Throughout the weekend there is a lot of music and dance. If anyone is interested in seeing the programme then visit the Jack-in-the-Green site for the list.

30 days to go! yippee, now best get on with finishing the costumes...