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Posts Tagged ‘arts and crafts’

I wanted to make an offering for Lugh that reflected his association with lightning as well as the seasonal association with grain. The lightning aspect was important to me because the lore shows him as a champion of justice. He strikes down those who do not reciprocate hospitality and goodwill. I prayed to him last year, asking for justice. He has been good to us, so I took out my sewing supplies and did my best to make this quilt and appliqué piece. May it please him!

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If you’re ever in the 1000 Islands, visit the Thousand Islands Art Center in Clayton, NY. They have exhibits and offer a variety of classes. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

 

Last Sunday, I was called on by a friend in my community and protogrove to sain her workspace – the pottery studio at the Thousand Islands Art Center.  It was a wonderful experience for both of us, and I learned a lot!

I was extremely humbled when she asked me to perform this ritual.  She told me she felt I had the experience and that she trusted me.  Not only did this make me feel good about myself and the rituals I’ve been leading in the area, but it reminded me of why I started Northern Rivers Protogrove.  It’s always been for community.  Not only is gathering with like-minded people to celebrate the seasonal changes and honor the Kindreds deeply fulfilling to me, but it is to others as well.  When I started the study group that would evolve into Northern Rivers, the growing interest and feedback I received clearly showed that there was something lacking in the area.  I returned to my Initiate Letter of Intent in thinking about this because I remember writing a lot about community.  I wanted to continue within my tradition’s study programs to grow in my spirituality and to give back to others.  Agreeing to help my friend really reawakened that awareness of “calling” in me.  It takes a lot of work and preparation to serve the community, and there are challenges as I need to balance it with the needs of my other career and my family, but it’s still very important and deeply gratifying.

Before I agreed to help, I first asked why she wanted the saining.  I wanted to know if she desired a general blessing because of new beginnings and old, negative energy, or if she felt there was something darker there – an angry ghost, perhaps.  I very honestly told her that I have very little experience with such things and do not currently feel comfortably taking that on.  We have mutual trust and she also honestly told me that it wasn’t anything of the sort.  Because I never want to put my own sanity or my family’s safety in harm’s way, I don’t see myself performing sainings for anyone I haven’t known for a little while.  That trust is important.  Maybe, down the road, I’ll feel more comfortable helping strangers, but I just lack the experience right now.  It’s important to know your limits and establish your own boundaries based on what you honestly feel are your current skills.  Having done a yearly saining of my own home around the New Years (both secular and religious), I felt confident in my abilities, and my relationship with the Kindreds, for her needs.

Like I said, this was a positive experience for both of us.  She felt that the space was on the mend, and I felt myself putting my magical training to good use for a wonderful person. It can be intimidating to do magic and ritual for others, but leading seasonal rites for Northern Rivers has taught me that the best rituals are when I do what feels best in my heart and listen to my intuition.  That’s exactly what I did.  As soon as I allowed for that to happen, symbols started to jump out at me from the environment.  In our discussion after the ritual, it was revealed that many of my feelings had a real basis in what my friend was experiencing.  The omen, as well, was also very telling to both of us.  When that happens, it feels damn good!

Now I did learn some things to help me improve for the future.  Next time, I should tour the entire space beforehand.  I thought we would sain the studio only, but in reality she also wanted to attend to another storage area that belongs to the studio but was across the hallway.  I felt a bit clumsy and annoyed with myself when she revealed this mid-ritual, but it was easy to fix and incorporate into the rite.  As I always tell my grovies, we have to be able to think on-the-fly in ritual when necessary.  I also forgot to bring a separate bowl for offerings.  Thankfully, I set up a working altar right by a door so we were able to pour offerings in the garden nearby.

Gifts from a friend.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Gifts from a friend. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Let me point out that, regardless of my belief that our clergy and elders should be compensated for their work, I didn’t go about this for any other reasons than to help a friend and hone my skills.  She surprised me after it all by gifting me with some of her favorite (locally made) incense and a dish that she made in the studio.  I was absolutely giddy with her gifts since they are things I can use in future magical workings!   These gifts are precious to me and will remind me of how good and fulfilling it is to give mack to my community.  Furthermore, this whole experience will help me complete some of my advanced Druidic studies within ADF!  Like Magic 2!  Go me!

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My husband recently encouraged me to join Reddit so that I could take advantage of the vast gardening community there. While exploring, I found a subreddit dedicted to Druidism which was where I discovered this gem – “Fable: The Lost Art of the Spoken Word.” It features many bards from the Druidic community, namely Philip Carr-Gomm. It really set a fire in my head! I hope it inspires you too.

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Fairy House

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My very first fairy house! I’m pleased with how it turned out. Made with naturally found materials, hens and chicks, and an upcycled pot.

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Baby Bee's first basket!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Baby Bee’s first basket! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Along with honoring the change of seasons with Northern Rivers Protogrove, my little family and I observed it in our own way.  For dinner, we had some lovely omelets with asparagus.  We also gave Bee a basket of goodies.  I’m still not sure if this is something we’ll do every year or not.  I crocheted her a basket using scrap fabric, thus making it baby-safe.  I filled it with the Spring gnome I made, some purple socks, some organic baby food, a board book all about spring, and a beautiful wooden bowl and spoon set from Nova Natural.  We read the book just about every day, and she enjoys touching the textured images.  I plan to get her the other seasonal books in the series for those high days too.

I got into the spirit by finally placing my seed order.  There are still a few things I’m thinking of buying (like a potato grow bag and a container blueberry plant), but ordering seeds is a start.  I selected some tomato plants, eggplants, zucchini, cucumber, basil, chard, and scarlet runner beans.  I’m really excited to try those last seeds.  They produce beautiful, red flowers!  Oh, do I have plans for my little patio…

We ended the evening with a small family ritual.  My husband held Bee while I lead the rite.  We let her choose a dyed egg to offer the Nature Sprits, which was adorable.  Our omen for the season was the salmon.  Wisdom instantly came to mind upon seeing the card.  Truly, Weretoad and I are gaining a lot as Bee becomes more mobile.  We are growing as parents.  We thought we had childproofed the home a lot but, as soon as she started to properly crawl, we realized how wrong we were.  As a result, I’ve decided that my altar must go upstairs in the bedroom in order to prevent anything from falling onto her little head…

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Our lovely, naturally dyed eggs. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

For years, it has been my ambition to naturally dye eggs for the Spring Equinox.  Last year, I attempted to use some green tea (which I’ve successfully used to dye fabric), but the eggs were not a good color for dying.  I make a point to buy eggs that are either organic or local.  Since the Spring Equinox in the North Country is hardly the start of spring other regions experience, there aren’t a lot of local folks selling eggs.  It’s not farmer’s market season.  And of course, most people I know have chickens who lay brown eggs.  All of the organic eggs available at the stores are also brown.  Brown is a lovely color!  I also know folks whose chickens lay gorgeous blues and greens!  But the point is, I wanted to try my hand at dying eggs without red dye number 40.

This year I asked one of my favorite local farmers if they had any white eggs and they did!  They set the whites aside just for me.  We hard boiled and dyed a dozen of them using things we had in our cupboards: frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and yellow onion skins.  My hypothesis was that the onion skins would be the least vibrant, but that was actually the opposite! Left to soak the eggs overnight, they produced a vibrant orange.  The strawberries created a very soft pinkish tan and the blueberries made a cozy sort of indigo.

The eggs developed an odd but interesting texture in the form of little bubbles.  These could be brushed away to reveal a lighter coating underneath.  This was either the result of me forgetting to thoroughly wash the boiled eggs before submersing them in the dye, or because I added an extra bit of vinegar to the dye after boiling.

Next year, I would like to be better prepared and try some different colors.  I need to plan my meals just right so that we have beets and red cabbage around.  I would have tried turmeric but we need to get some more.  We’ll do more experimentation next year!  Hopefully Bee will be old enough to enjoy it some! I imagine trying different foods and guessing the  eventual colors would be very fun for a wee one.  Part science, part art, and all magic!

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Spring Equinox gnomes!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Spring Equinox gnomes! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

With spring right right around the corner, I thought it was time to make Bee another gnome! I decided to make a tutorial so you could make your own gnomes for the little ones in your life.  Follow along or get creative and follow your own whimsy!

Materials for the gnomes.    I use wool roving to stuff my baby toys.  You can also find wool felt.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Materials for the gnomes. I use wool roving to stuff my baby toys. You can also find wool felt. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Materials:

gnomepattern

  • Grey Catsidhe’s gnome pattern
  • felt in the desired color
  • batting
  • thread or embroidery floss
  • scissors
  • a sewing needle

The pattern may be enlarged, and should be for a baby.  I make mine so that they are small but not a choking hazard. Using the pattern, cut out the shapes in your felt.  You’ll want to cut out one face and two bodies.  At this point, I find it best to stitch on the face and add any desired details to one side of the body.  You can be as simple or complex as you wish.  I decided to make this gnome very girlish and even gave her some hair.

Stitching on the face to one side first. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Stitching on the face to one side first. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Starting at the base, stitch from bottom, to the top, and back to the bottom using the blanket stitch.  Leave the bottom opened so that you can stuff the batting in before completing the blanket stitch all the way around.

As a finishing touch, I added a little leaf to the top of the gnome’s hat.  I think it makes the Spring gnome look like a little seedling. Make sure you stitch that leaf very secure!  As with all baby toys, inspect your gnomes frequently to make sure nothing is coming apart.  My baby loves to gums her gnomes so they can get a bit worn looking.  They are very easy to clean with some soap and water.  Air dry, preferably in the sun.

Have fun making gnomes for wee ones or your own altars!  Please share any that you make!  I’d love to see.

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Brighid crosses and mini mantles made by Northern Rivers Protogrove at our recent Imbolc ritual. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

As a pre-ritual workshop this Imbolc, Northern Rivers Protogrove made Brighid crosses and, also, mini Brighid mantles.  In Ireland, it’s traditional to put out a bit of cloth (the brat or Brighid’s mantle), on Imbolc eve for it is believed that Brighid is visiting.  She imbues her blessings upon the cloth and thus it becomes a healing tool.  I thought it would be fun to make some “mini mantles” as a pre-ritual craft along with the crosses.  Furthermore, although we didn’t have any children besides Bee at this celebration, I came up with the activity specifically with kids in mind.

Materials:

fabric (we used a poly-cotton blend because that’s what I had, but pure cotton or linen would work well too)
fabric markers (preferably of a non-toxic nature for the kiddos involved)*
scissors or a rotary cutter
an iron
cutting board (optional)
a square ruler (optional)

I decided that white fabric would be best since people would be drawing on them with a variety of colors.  Ahead of time, I ironed the fabric so that it would be flat and ready for cutting.  Then I dug out my handy quilting tools.  I used a 1×5″ omnigrid ruler to make perfect little squares, but you needn’t be a perfectionist or create such small pieces.  I thought the size would be nice for little hands, but the completely adult group was just as happy with them!

Everyone shared fabric markers and drew whatever they felt was appropriate for Brighid, Imbolc, their spiritual path, and healing in general.  There were many flames and representations of water.  Several people tried their hand at triquetras too. The workshop went well and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  Best of all, it’s an activity young and old can engage in with minimal mess!

Holda working on her mini mantle. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

* Prior to putting outside, treat the fabric according to the directions of your fabric markers. Most suggest ironing and washing to set. When I put my mantles out, I tie them to tough plants who give me permission, or under a rock.

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20140128-182650.jpgI’m busy, busy, busy with all sorts of arts and crafts!  Imbolc is definitely in the air.  So many fiber crafts – including spinning!  I’ve been enjoying theBritish show “Tudor Monastery Farm” and it put the spinning bug back in my head!  It’s a wonderful way to engage with Brighid, my female ancestors, and the wooly nature spirits so symbolic of this time of year.  Also in progress: a crocheted hat for hubby, an attempt to embroider a Brighid cros (sans a hoop… I didn’t have one small enough…), and an altar cloth.  There’s little else to do in this chilly, snowy weather!

What are you crafting?

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My time is limited and, as a result, I haven’t felt pulled to make the very detailed, large dolls I made prior to pregnancy.  Those will come again, but I’ve recently found myself returning to my roots and making dolls with very simple shapes.  Some may view that as backwards, but something Phillip Carr-Gomm said in the latest Druidcast really spoke to me.  He compared the movement of people back to religions inspired by very ancient myths to salmon returning to their spawning ground and taking part in a cycle rebirth.  Not only did it make sense to me in regards to Druidism’s place in the modern world, but it dawned on me that I was experiencing the same thing in my art.  Motherhood has transformed my life in ways that I’m only just beginning to understand.  It is impacting my art.  Everything has to be reborn in this new phase of my life.

You may have seen the Waldorf-inspired gnomes I’ve been making for my daughter.  They are akin to my early exploration of doll making.  Limbs are very complicated and so I’m not bothering with them so much right now.  Recently I’ve been wanting to spend less time on constructing the form and more on adding soul.  I decided to make a new Brighid doll for my altar.  I’ve said this many times, but I’m a proponent of using your talents to make your own ritual tools.  For me, the desire to create representations of deities for my altars is what brought me to doll making in the first place.  I retired my original Brighid doll.  She was very top-heavy and required a metal and wooden stand.  With baby just months away from walking, it seemed like a safety hazard.  Brighid has a new home upon my altar and in a form that matches my evolving understanding of her.  She is more voluptuous, draped in a tartan cloak “pined” with a Celtic knot button to represent her smithcraft and art in general.  Although I did not make limbs in the usual sense, her hand peeks out from her cloak to magically hold her sacred flame, something I needle felted using dyed sheep wool (also very appropriate for this Goddess).

A Brighid doll made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

A Brighid doll made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I’m rather happy with how she turned out.  As I worked on this Brighid doll, the Goddess sent her inspiration to me and I’ve already started to dream up another doll to represent another Goddess I’ve been working with.  In the meantime, I’m planning to ritually consecrate this doll in Brighid’s name to create a “home away from home” for her, thus facilitating communication.

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