Monday, 20 December 2010

Yuletide - a time of giving, symbolism and celebration

Well Christmas is finally upon us and after the magical but colossal amount of snow we are all running around finishing our shopping and planning our festive delights. For me this year has been a very handmade Christmas, of course the usual amount of creative activity making things to sell... and for pressies too.  Handmade is so much more personal than supermarket buys, often one of a kind. It hasn't stopped at crafts either.  This year it has extended to cooking, baking, sewing everything that is self sufficient and  addictively satisfying.  The cold weather( with more to come it seems) forcing many of us to stay indoors can sometimes fuel the desire to return to a simpler way of living - just being - with your loved ones, pets, garden and countryside...things that quite often get forgotten in this time of shopping mayhem...when the expectations are high and money invariably tight.
With my wedding behind me now and a year of highs and lows I can honestly say that if things don't get done...they don't get done. 
What is Christmas all about...good will to all, thought for others, the act of giving and celebration.  Its all these things and many more things beside...but don't forgot extends to you too.  Goodwill to yourself! This is not a message to be selfish when I say that sometimes all you hardworking parents, partners, office workers etc should take a little time to sit back and think, what about me? I know so many people who strive for the perfect Christmas...the kids have got to have that, your parents are expecting a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings or I have to attend the office party...they're expecting it.  Pressies and booze aside, whats important is that you spend it with those you love. Your loved ones have you!...and if you can't be there in body like so many of us...spend Christmas with those you love in your thoughts and in your heart.  But remember -It's so hard to please everyone.

Yule is fast approaching marking the the shortest day and for the Celts and many pagans, the rise of the Oak King as the days lengthen a little at a time.  The Oak Kings reign runs from Yule right through to midsummer's day when the Holly King again takes his throne through to Christmas. This year the rare occurrence of a full moon on the winter solstice is graced with another rare event - a lunar eclipse. So it is particularly important this time to really understand the significance of this Sabbat on the 21st of Dec (Northern Hemisphere).

Our Christmas as we know it today is a tapestry of cultural traditions. It's a time when both pagan and Christian values and stories meet.  There has always been some speculation about the exact date that Jesus was born, some say late January so of course this has given rise to the idea that Christmas was moved back to coincide with the pagan Sabbat of Yule, easing the transition of paganism to Christianity.  So much of ancient tradition has been muddied over the years that we can't be sure. It may have been an adoption of the idea that the pagans celebrated the return of the suns power, hence the birth date of the son of god.  Traditions have blended together along with many of the symbols of the holiday such as gift giving and the decoration of the home. Many would perhaps think that the gift giving idea originated from when the three wise men brought Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh - but gift giving and the celebration of life goes back even further to the Celts.  Gold has always been one of the dominant colours of Christmas thanks to the three wise men but also to the Pagan celebration of the sun.  It's quite possible that the giving of fruit such as oranges at Christmas has it's roots in the past too as the ancient peoples often associated such fruit with the symbolism of the sun, the giver of life.

The decorating of a tree became popular in Victorian times... however, they didn't invent it - they rediscovered it and put it into every home. The use of foliage as a celebration or as protection is present in many worldwide cultures including the Celtic peoples.

Another of the popular rituals in Pagan times was the burning of the Yule Log honouring nature and celebrating the return of the sun.  The log was usually from a birch tree, the tree of renewal so Yule marked a time of transition and the sweeping away of negativity.
Other trees and plants that have long been connected to Yule are of course holly and mistletoe.
Holly, the oak trees winter counterpart held wisdom at a time when life was at its hardest.  It brought positivity to the home and protected the people from hostility.  Another connection made from a pagan point of view is that both holly and mistletoe represented fertility.  The berries of the holly being the blood of the menstrual cycle and the mistletoe, the semen of men.  Mistletoe was sacred to the druids as it grew without touching the ground. This poisonous plant was also used as protection and to unlock the secrets of immortality and to bring vivid dreams.  The reason that we hang it in our homes today could be because of it's past connections with protection and it's very likely that we kiss beneath the mistletoe because of its connections with fertility.
Our Christmas is no doubt a collection of cultural rituals that have evolved and blended together over thousands of years. No matter where the symbols come from and what they originally stood for it's important to remember that it's a time of celebration of life... even in our modern times.  These world traditions, whether from the middle east or ancient Europe make us who we are today.  They give us a very special holiday to enjoy and, somewhere in the back of our minds, connect us to our past and our deep unbreakable bond with natures cycles.
So have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and a very festive Yule!.. remember that there is so much more to it than overeating and watching the Christmas movie. :)

Another reason that mistletoe is used for kissing today - take a look at this link

Thursday, 2 December 2010

December Picks with a local flavour

I wanted to feature a few of my favourite finds that had a local flavour to start the December blog off.  Many of these are sourced from the midlands UK, particularly Nottingham.
They are not all strictly Fantasy based but I have picked them for their enchanting qualities, stunning colour or for their suitability as Gifts.
In this international world of consumerism it's important to fly the flag for Britain once in a while.  We have  many exceptional artists, designer makers in this country and sometimes it's easy to get lost amongst so many great artisans and websites worldwide.










Hope you liked my selection showcasing some local talent - be sure to keep an eye out for more inspiration over the next few weeks :)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Christmas sale and whats to come

We are now well into the pre Christmas sale period and I'm doing my bit with a handful of special offers.  Its Black Friday- Cyber Monday weekend at Etsy where most shops will be offering reduced items or free shipping in some cases.  Its worth taking a look as everything is either handmade or vintage so you won't find any of these gift ideas in the shops...and you can stay in where it's cosy and warm.
It's been snowing here so it's perfect window shopping time and hopefully finding a few bargains time too.

For the Etsy sale in my shop and to get 15% off everything until late Monday use coupon code spiraletsy15

After my sale I will be showcasing some of my favourite finds in both shop sites and to get you into the Christmas mood, some of my favourite fragrances, recipes and anything else that catches my eye.

Oh keep your eyes peeled for more offers in the run up to Christmas - and I will be doing a fair on the 11th of December in Allestree Derby for any of you who are local.  Its for World Cancer Research and Father Christmas will be paying a visit too.  Take a look at my facebook page for more details.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

****Special Offer !****

A Free Lip Balm of your choice from either my Folksy shop or Etsy when you spend £20 or $31 in Etsy or over. To take advantage of this offer just quote the code BL1120 in an email after you have purchased.
Why not buy some Christmas pressies then keep the lip balm for yourself :)

Coming soon ...the start of my Alchemy blog series and Christmas gift ideas blog x    oh the offers ends on Dec 10th

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Samhain and Autumn - Hearth and Home

The Hedgewitch Diaries

As autumn is now upon us I decided to reflect on some of the things that makes this time of year so special. As I walked around the shops and absorbed the array of Halloween images from pumpkins to costumes I started to think about the true origins of Samhain (pronounced Sow -in) and wondered weather we had lost something, a part of ourselves, in the evolution and translation of this remarkable and somewhat misunderstood Sabbat.

The first thing to note is that Halloween marks the end of the year, so is the Celtic equivalent of the western new year ( May 1st in the southern hemisphere). It dates back thousands of years pre-dating Christianity to a time when nature was at the forefront of daily life. A time and place where people had the utmost respect for and understanding of their natural surroundings on both a physical and esoteric level.

It is believed that Samhain marks the time of year when the the veil between our world and the other world is at it's thinnest, when the ancient peoples of Europe celebrated their ancestors. Particular attention was shown to those dead who had passed on that previous year...and so began a tradition that has endured ...a deep connection with the other world. But as with most traditions and myth it has mutated and become rife with misunderstanding, fear and trouble making. It's sad to see how Halloween is used today as an excuse to scare people particularly when the Celts used it as a time of reflection and of planning for the year ahead. It was a time to clear out the old and the ancients would turn to their ancestors for guidance and inspiration for the future.

It is no surprise however that many people today still use this connections with the other world and seek advice from beyond the grave whether it be to find out who they will marry or to gain some personal insight from a tarot reading.

But Autumn or Fall is so much more than this...

Home And Hearth :- It is a time of great abundance not only through experience of the past year but from the wealth of food that had been gathered during the harvest...and our ancestors certainly knew how to celebrate with not only one but two Sabbats, Lammas in August and Mabon in September when day and night are equal.

They prepared for winter in very much the same way as we do for Christmas stocking up on the grains and fruit that would have sustained them through the cold winter months...

but why wait until Christmas to celebrate with food...

I often use this time of year to not only prepare the garden for next year but to catch up with friends and family. It's a great time for celebrating food - to cook up a feast and invite people into your home, try new recipes or make preserves.

With such an array of colour and food it's sometimes hard to imagine how we allow ourselves to dwell on the oncoming winter and deepening gloom. I find that it's therapeutic to fill my house with food, candles and laughter, start a new course or take long walks on crisp autumn days... so don't wait for Christmas, eat and be merry and have a very happy Halloween. )0(

Sources for Blog :-

Witch - A Magical Journey - Fiona Horne

Everything Witchcraft - Marian Singer

The World Atlas Of Divination - John Matthews

The Living Wisdom Of Trees - Fred Hageneder

The Encyclopedia Of Magic And Witchcraft - Greenwood

Celtic Wisdom - Andy Baggot

Natural Magic - Pamela J Ball

Thursday, 30 September 2010

new look website

Be sure to check out my new look to the website at another way to purchase art and using the convienience of paypal.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Welcome to the new look blog

The face of the Spiral Moon blog is changing to introduce more gadgets and pics. In october I am introducing a more "magazine look" to the blog which will mean lots of info about myth, lore and the things that inspire me to create...including the hedgewitch diaries, fantasy art or writing, local myth and general new age topics and oddities. Watch out for the updates in the run up to Halloween...)0(

Thursday, 22 April 2010

new updates

I have now aquired my safety assessments for selling bath and beauty products - check out the etsy shop for new products over the next few weeks.
Coming very soon bath brews, salts, body butters and salves and much more.... :)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Welcome to Spiral Moons Blog pages

Hi and welcome to Spiral Moon's blog pages where over the coming months you will see what I've been up to...from art work to a new range of beauty and bath products that are made from natural ingredients.

All the products are based around the living world and myth and fantasy...inspired by my art work and using a little insight and research into ancient lore. and are just two of the places that you can find my work and online shops.

Also check out my facebook link on the left of this page :)