Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Winter Solstice - Total Lunar Eclipse 2010

So did you get to see it? Sadly due to immense fog we didn’t . Shame given that the last time it fell on the winter Solstice was nearly 400 years ago. But not to worry the next one on the Solstice (oh ok a day before) will be in the comparatively short amount of time in 2029!

For those of you who might not quite know how a lunar eclipse works it’s where the Moon passes through the shadow created by the Earth blocking the Sun’s light. This creates an effect where the moon colour appears to be a shade of red/pink.
I found the above youtube clip and really liked it, clear and without newreporters adding their own comments you can sit back and watch the beauty.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Cernunnous and Winter Solstice

I like reading up and learning about all sorts of things but find that in this day of technology books of old are suffering. I have to wait for days for a book I've ordered to come into the shop or from online suppliers. So often I find myself wandering the echoey halls of the web and trying to piece together fact from fiction. Now of course a lot of what we study and believe is called by lots fiction but the key word in what we do is faith. As such I take a lot of what I read with a pinch of faith and try and pass that on to others.
The recent study I wanted to read was about Cernunnous. I feel drawn to Him, in His many forms and am often hunting out writings, art, images etc of Him. I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you all but seem unable to put the words together in any fitting form today (a bit of a mental block with everyday madness filling the gaps). So I thought I'd post some information I found on and let you read it for yourselves.
Cernunnous was the Horned God of the Celts. He was associated with the hunt and fertility. Occasionally he was portrayed with serpent legs, torso of a man, a head of a bull or ram, or shown with stags wearing antlers. The name Cernunnous means horned.

He is the lord of life, death and the underworld. Being the Sun to the Goddess of the Moon as he alternates with her in ruling over life and death. With her he cooperates in continuing the cycle of life, death and rebirth, or reincarnation.

His own life is said to be circular. The Horned God is born at the winter solstice, marries with the Goddess at Beltane (May 1), and dies at the summer solstice. His death represents a sacrifice to life.

The Horned God's origin possibly dates back to Paleolithic times, as evidenced by a ritualistic cave drawing found in the Caverne des Trois Freres at Ariege, France. The picture is with one of a stag standing upright on its hind legs, or a man dressed in a stag costume performing a dance. The wearing animal clothes in rituals to secure game was practiced in Europe for thousands of years.

He was worshipped by the Romans and Gauls who portrayed him with a triple head. Sometimes the Romans depicted him with three cranes flying above his head.

Other deities associated with, or others have claimed them to be representative of, Cernunnous, the Horned God, are Herne the Hunter, a ghost of Britian; Pan, the Greek god of the woodlands; Janus, the Roman god of good beginnings with his two faces looking in opposite directions representing youth and age, and life and death; Tammuz and Damuzi, the son- lover-consorts of Ishtar and Inanna; Osiris, the Egyptian lord of the underworld; and Dionysus, the Greek god of vegetation and the vine, whose cult observed rites of dismemberment and resurrection."
The Celtic god Esus was analogous to Cernunnous. Similarly the animal of Esus was the bull. Esus was sometimes identified with Cernunnous who appears on the Gundestrup Cauldron. Supposedly Esus was also ruler of the underworld, but this did not keep his worshippers from considering him to be a god of plenty and portraying him holding a sack of coins.

Most frequently whenever Cernunnous was depicted or portrayed, he was shown as an animal, usually a stag, or surrounded by animals as he is depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron seated in a lotus position. This was seen as appropriate as he was the god of the hunt and fertility. He was also the ruler and protector of the animal kingdom. He is often seen holding a ram-headed serpent.

In the Welsh tale "Owain" his role as a herdsman-god and a benign keeper of the forest is told. Here he summons all the animals to him through the belling of a stag. All the animals even serpents obediently came to him "as humble subjects would do to their lord."

Some feel that the honoring of Cernunnous even continued in the early Christian era. Many of the early ascetics still had pre-Christian longings for nature. To substantiate this there is the account of Saint Ciaran of Saighir. This humble man went into the wilderness to establish a cell that would eventually become a monastery. A boar came, seeing the man he was terrified, but later returned and was submissive to the man of God. Saint Ciaran considered the boar his first monk. The boar was later joined by a fox, a badger, a wolf and a stag. These animals left their liars to join the community.

There are other tales such as this one that give rise to suspicions they caused early Christian writers and artists to associate Cernunnous with Satan. Although some Christians never lost their love of nature. Saint Francis of Assisi is well known for his love of animals and birds.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Oh no!

Is this a sign of how this week is going to be? Firstly the weather changes so I can't get together with Fella, far to much snow in between. Then the tumble dryer stops working so snow clothes taking an age to dry. The chimney is leaking so front room damp and then finally this morning my Goddess statue fell and broke into lots of bits. It was one of those slow motion things, you know the sort where you know perfectly well what is going to happen, you try to do your best to stop it but you just won't get to it in time.
So am now really sulking. Was my favorite statue of Her too.

Stomps off to strop in corner quietly...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Rocky Road in a Stocking

Littleun has made quite a few new friends and he has found it difficult to choose who he would like to give gifts to this Yule. So we came up with an idea that meant he could give out a few without breaking the bank. Rocky Road in a bag. We were lucky as last year in the sales I managed to nab a brilliant deal on stockings (no not my leg coverings but the sort you hang up for Father Christmas). Lovely deep red velvets with fun appliquéd characters and just the right size. Well the idea is get all the ingredients (minus the butter) for the recipe, put them into the stocking with the printout on how to and tie the top with a ribbon. Hey presto, you have a gift which Littleun has helped put together and which his friends can make and do with their own families. If you fancy doing similar this is the recipe for Rocky Road (and yes couldn’t resist had to make some for ourselves, boy am I putting the weight on this year!).

Rocky Road Cake

400g bar milk chocolate
1 tin of condensed milk
100g butter
Bag of marshmallows
Tub of glace cherries
Packet of digestive biscuits
Raisins or sultanas

Put the digestive biscuits in a thick plastic bag and roughly crush so that you end up with nice chunky biscuit pieces, then set aside.
Melt the chocolate and the butter together on a low heat (or in the microwave), then once melted, add the condensed milk, mixing thoroughly.
Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and add in the digestive biscuit and all the other ingredients. Mix well. You can add as little or as much as you like of the other ingredients and vary it to suit your tastes.
Tip the mixture into a tin lined with cling film (this well help you later!), flatten out into the tin, and place in the fridge to set. When set, cut into pieces and turn out.
my camera has stopped working so photo credit is Tristan Tristan

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

"On the road to Beth Beth Beth"...

Ah, it became clear after all. That annoying song that has sounded like a rapsters tune for the last 3 weeks suddenly made sense as I sat watching littleuns school nativity yesterday. My little darling was a star both in behaviour and as a character. In a bid to involve all the younger children in the nativity they added a few extras. Least of which was a side story of an angel who hadn't got her wings. On her way to Bethlehem she was always late in catching up the others, till it became obvious that she would get her wings after helping several animals with ailments. A fun afternoon of enthusiastic children who despite having rather short attention spans and waving madly at their parents, gave it their all. And yes, I did have a tear or two.
Now we are sitting here this afternoon, putting together our latest Yule gifts, Rocky road in a bag...
ps, the snow is apparently on the way back, argh.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Turkish offering

We all like a sweet or too, sticky indulgence that we know we really shouldn’t eat but oh just so have too. One of my dad’s favourites is Turkish delight. (Known as rahat lokum meaning giving rest to the throat). It’s pretty with its subtle soft colours and aromatic flavouring plus is a lovely thing to make at home and give out when our friends come and visit at Yule.

To make you will need:
3 tbs gelatine powder
400g sugar
1 tsp rosewater or to taste
2-3 drops of red food colouring
2 teaspoons cornflour
200g icing sugar
An 18 cm square cake tin wetted with water

Put 300ml water into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat then sprinkle in the gelatine and stir with metal spoon until melted. Add the sugar and stir continuously until dissolved

Return to the boil and continue boiling for 10 mins. Remove from the heat and stir in the rosewater and colouring.

Strain through sieve lined with muslin into the prepared cake tin and let cool. Leave to stand overnight to set.

Next day, sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl, then sprinkle a thick layer onto a work surface. Transfer remaining powder mixture into a plastic bag.

Remove the Turkish Delight from the cake tin, loosening the edges if necessary with a wet knife and dipping the base of the tin into hot water for a few seconds. Turn out onto coated work surface and cut into 3cm squares.

Put the squares into the bag, together with any sugar mix left on the work surface, seal the bag and shake well until they are thick and evenly covered.

Pack into an airtight container and sprinkle over any remaining sugar mix.

Orange Delight: Instead of the rosewater and red colouring add 1 tbs strained orange juice, 1 tsp orange flower water and 1 tbs ground crystallized orange rind at the same time as the sugar, prceed as above.

Lemon Nut Delight: Instead of the rosewater and red colouring stir through 1 tbs strained lemon juice. When mixture is beginning to set carefully stir through 40g blanched, chopped almonds or pistachios and proceed as main recipe.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Come Winter

There can be no doubt that we are firmly residing in Winter. Yule is here soon and the logs are already burning. But in amongst the cold and snow that blankets everything people bustle along, busy as ever, capable now of moving again and it seems to me that they have forgotten to look around them. To slow down and really notice the changes. Hard to you say? Well yes I suppose it is but it is also important too. Despite the modern day appliances and so called civilization Winter still levels the playing field. The elderly and young alike need more care. Jack Frost doesn’t mind their ages, only gleeful that they might not be able to keep him out. So some of us have agreed, we will take note of who our neighbours are. Remind ourselves of the community again and try and help. Even if it’s only to pick up a pint of milk or to bring some companionship to them for a while. So here’s the challenge, learn the name of your neighbour before Yule and offer a little bit of that most important thing you have to give; some time and friendship.

The following poem is from someone who falls into the above category yet stubbornly refuses help at times being mentally and almost completely physically independent still at the grand age of nearly 92. A cantankerous fellow, but always there in our hearts and in his own way a leveller too. Oh the fun I have had watching him with Littleun, 80+ years separating them, but both gleefully laughing as they watch “Tom and Jerry” together (“originals minds you, none of this newfangled rubbish”) or as they enjoyed the hotdogs and mince pies on fireworks night in the heated conservatory. Anyway, hope you like it:


When the bold little robin sings his sweetest song,
And the lanes and meadows are cold and white:
When the nights that follow are dark and long,
Then nature sleeps through the winter’s night.

While, at the break of dawn, stillness keeps
Bar meadow pond where the waters slow,
And snug, the barren hedgerow sleeps
Beneath a mantle of drifting snow.

See how the winter spreads its snowy shield,
Blending church and cottage into one:
The snow-faced clock, its time concealed,
Save for the bell and the chimes that run.

Beside the stream, the mill in hoary mist
Is still, while nature sleeps in settled snow,
And ice bounds trees whose branches twist
In restless dreams, while northern breezes blow.

So softly tread this carpet white, hinder not
The fragile warmth the distant sun may bring:
For soon, there’ll be no rest in nature’s cot,
When dawn awakes and morning turns to spring.

Poem © PRISM

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Stained Glass Ginger Biscuits

Ok it’s still rubbish weather wise here so have warmed the house with the smell of ginger. We often make goodies as gifts for friends at Yule and this year is no different. We have hampers ready with yummy things like our chutney from the summer and the apple schnapps soon ready to be poured into individual bottles. But one of the other things we like making are decorations and if that can be combined with food all the better.

We have put together some bits and bobs that the Littleuns can make (with a bit of help from the adults) and our first foody one are these delicious biscuits. Make them, hang them or just eat them.

To make you will need:

Cookie/biscuit cutters, we used stars, bells and house. Two of each is helpful, one smaller than the other.
Baking sheet.
Greaseproof paper

For the biscuits:
350g/12oz plain flour, extra for dusting
1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
½tsp salt
2tsp ground ginger
100g/3½oz butter
175g/6oz soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg, beaten
4tbsp golden syrup
Packet of fruit flavoured boiled sweets, different colours.
To decorate:
Tube of readymade white icing
Narrow ribbon
Ice sugar/dust


Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Gas 4
For the biscuits mix the flour bicarbonate of soda salt and ginger together in a bowl.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, and then stir in the sugar.
In another bowl, beat together the egg and golden syrup, pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix to make a smooth dough, kneading lightly with your hands.
Crush the sweets in a bag using a rolling pin.
Roll out the dough on a floured work top to about 5mm/¼inch thick, and then cut into the shapes chosen. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet lined with the paper.
Cut out the centre of each biscuit making sure you leave a good edge all around the biscuits, completely fill the hole in each biscuit with broken sweets.
Make a hole at the top of each biscuit so that you can later thread the ribbon through. Bake for 10-12 mins or until golden brown.
Remove biscuits from oven and whilst they are still warm check that the holes are still there if not gently re-make. Leave on tray until cooled. Once cooled pipe icing in patterns wanted around the biscuits, you can dip in the ice dust if you want a snow-ish feel to it. Thread ribbon and hang.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Snowflakes for littleuns

Well our snow was there when we went to bed, all 1½foot deeps worth and when we woke up this morning it had all gone and was replaced with rain, lots of it. Littleun was a bit upset so we decided to make some of our Yule flakes ready to go on our tree and windows. If you would like to make some, this is how we did it.

You will need:

White paper or card,
Coloured tissue paper,
anything pretty and sparkly basically

Draw around a circle object. Cut out the circle you have drawn, fold it in half, then half again. Using a pair of scissors cut out little shapes from the paper.

Cut out a circle of the tissue paper, putting dots of the glue onto the back of the snowflake push the tissue paper onto it.

Decorate the front of the snowflake as you wish, stick on sequins or use glitter etc.

When finished tape or white-tac it to your windows or hang on tree.

Sorry about the naff quality photos, am having problems with both the camera and uploading to blogger :o/

Thursday, 2 December 2010

It's Snowing!!

We don't get snow that often but in the last few years it seems to be happening more and more. In a way its lovely, pretty to look at but in another it brings home the needs of the community. It definitely makes you more aware of those in your neighbourhood as you work together to clear the pavements, to help older neighbours by getting their shopping and the fun had sharing the sledges with the local children on the nearby hill. So on that thought here are some of our photos of the town in the snow...