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Posts Tagged ‘arts and crafts’

I started to explore the concept of crane bags back when I was pregnant.  I made a small bag specific to my pregnancy and desires for delivery.  The linked post is also where I shared the basics of what a crane bag actually is and where it comes from in Irish lore.

Later, I decided to make a larger crane bag to carry with me during ritual and outdoor treks to the forest shrine.  I looked to the oak tree as my inspiration.  I’m still quite fond of how it turned out, and I continue to add special pins to the strap.

My latest crane bag is actually a commission for a friend and member of Northern Rivers Protogrove.  She picked out and purchased the fabric (complete with actual cranes!) and we looked at different types of bags for inspiration.  I ended up making my own pattern based on a photo we liked.  I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I love the colors she chose.

Crane Crane Bag by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

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Small Brighid Doll by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Although I don’t have much time to craft these days, I gleefully signed up for the ADF Artisan Guild Imbolc exchange. The group decided that everyone should make something small, and we decided on the amount of time it should take and the general cost.  I was excited enough to participate and do a little sewing, but was absolutely over the moon when I saw that my partner was my dear friend, R!  She and I got back to my Utica days, when I was first exploring Paganism.  We bonded over an interest in ADF, and she encouraged me to make the drive to Muin Mound in Syracuse.  Life took us to different corners of NY, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, but we still bond over our shared interests and meet up whenever we can.

R indicated that, despite her Norse hearth culture, she has an interest in Brighid.  I decided to make her a small Brighid doll, since the exchange was for Imbolc.  I repurposed a blue wool sweater by felting it, and used a little for Brighid’s body. Folk art inspired me to leave the face blank.  I usually love painting faces on my dolls, but I really think my decision works for this small doll.  It gives her a very solemn look, and the individual regarding the doll will inherently known how they feel she should look.

R’s Fairy Cottage, 2015

In exchange, R surprised me with this adorable fairy cottage made with polymer clay and a repurposed jar.  I love all the whimsical details – right down to the woodgrain on the door! There are even little windows on each side, and Bee loves to peer in.  It has be excited for spring with all the pink flowers!

Funnily enough, we actually were able to meet up a couple weeks after receiving our gifts.  Her girlfriend happened to have a hockey tournament in the area, so we met for lunch.  It felt wonderful to reconnect.  Hoping to do more of that come the warmer weather!

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Happy New Year, readers!

We’re having a quiet day in because of the lake effect snow in Northern NY. We definitely needed some rest. I feel like I say this often, but December is so darn busy!  It’s pretty cold and windy today, so while we enjoy watching the snow through the window, Bee hasn’t expressed an interest in going outside today, and I don’t blame her!  What to do instead?

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Inspired by a “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” episode we watched this morning, I let Bee explore some shells from my Nature Spirit shrine. She really likes the bumpy textures. We talked about the beach and how fun it will be to visit in the summer.  One of my goals for this year is to make a nature table/play altar for Bee.  The way she interacted with the shells showed me that she’s ready. (Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014)

 

 

 

 

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We’re also enjoying the many gifts we received for the holidays. Handmade gifts are such fun, and I hope they inspire my daughter’s sense of creativity as she ages. Bee’s aunt refinished an old children’s rocking chair for her. Bee loves rocking in it while hugging her stuffed animals.  Speaking of plushies, she also likes the Waldorf doll I made for her as a Solstice gift.  Grandmama gave her a metal tea set, so we may have an herbal tea party later!  (Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014)

Another thing to do on a snowy New Year’s day? Do some magic, of course! By the time I finished doing the physical purification on New Year’s Eve, it was time to crash and watch the ball drop then bang drums out the door to scare away naughty spirits. I was exhausted, and so was Bee. So first thing today, we did a simple saining ritual. My husband sprinkled purified and lunar charged water around the home while I held Bee and smudged with a handmade juniper bundle. As I stated in my recent post about winter activities for young toddlers, I believe that including little ones in family rituals is very important and helps teach them expectations for group rites.  It lays the foundations for later, when Bee can take a more active part in our family traditions.

Wherever you are, I hope you and are family have a very blessed 2015!  Look forward to more posts as I explore my Druidic path and how to share it with my little one! Thanks for continuing to read my random thoughts.  I’m so happy to have inspired some of you!

 

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If you’re a new parent like myself, you may wonder how you can introduce the Winter Solstice to your child, especially when he or she is still learning how to walk, talk, and get control of those little fingers! It can also be challenging when so much of what’s out there is wrapped up in Christmas, and you want to teach, embrace, and create traditions that are more Solstice-specific! Here are some of the things I’ve done or plan to do. Since all children are different, some activities may not be for your child. If you have suggestions, please feel free to share in the comments!

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

    • The most obvious thing to do is, of course, go outside and explore! What are the Nature Spirits doing at this time of year? Talk about it, even if it feels like a one-sided chat. Make snow people and snow fairies. Give seeds and fruit to the Nature Spirits.

 

    • Make some solar-themed, natural play dough!  I followed this recipe but I cut it in half and, instead of using factory-made food coloring, I put turmeric in the boiling water.  The result is a lovely pastel yellow.  Give your little one some sun-shaped cookie cutters if they’re ready for that!

 

 

    •  Make a Winter Solstice playlist.  Sing along and encourage your little one to participate in her own way – often through clapping or dancing!  Some of our favorites are an Irish instrumental version of “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Clause is Pagan Too” (by Emerald Rose), “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”

 

    •  If you have a Solstice/Yule tree (or bouquet), include your toddler in its decorating.  This may seem obvious to some, but name all of the ornaments you put up.  Talk about why they’re special.  Discuss any ornaments or traditions that were passed down by your Ancestors.  Explain why things are done. Why does your family include a Yule log?  Why do you have a Yule goat?  Why do you light candles? You may want to simplify your explanations, but at least try.  It’s amazing how many children don’t ever even consider the reasons for our customs.

 

    •  At the moment, we’re not planning to tell Bee that Santa delivers gifts.  Rather, as an animist, I’m going to teach her what I genuinely believe – Santa is a spirit of generosity.  He whispers to us, inspiring us to give gifts to certain people.  We will give the spirit of Santa an offering of cookies on the Solstice.  After we open the gifts, we’ll thank Santa for inspiring so much generosity.  This way, as Bee ages, she can enjoy the overall Santa tradition with her peers and not ruin their own family practices.  And as the song goes, “Santa Claus is Pagan too…”

 

    •  There are so many Christmas specials for children to enjoy.  What about those of us who celebrate something different?  For toddlers, I highly recommend the episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood entitled “Snowflake Day.”  The Neighborhood of Make-Believe celebrates a secular winter holiday that honors working together, the gift of friendship, and light.  Bee adores Daniel Tiger, and, as it’s based on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, the show is so wholesome that I don’t mind her watching it from time to time.

 

    •  If you’re up for a small mess, make some sun and snowflake shaped sugar cookies for the Solstice.  Adults can frost the cookies and then toddlers can help add sprinkles.

 

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

    •  Although your child may not be ready for using safety scissors, he or she could certainly scribble on construction paper before you cut them out into suns or snowflakes for the window.

 

  • There are many winter-themed toddler books out there.  There are some lovely titles that include textures so children can explore winter concepts with multiple senses.  Bee’s current favorite is based on an old classic, “Frosty the Snowman!”
Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

    • Speaking of textures, don’t forget the fun of a treasure basket!  Ideas of objects to include: white pom-poms, or felted balls of wool for make-beileve snowballs;  some big pine cones; a safe Santa figure; seasonal felt deity dolls (Angus or Cailleach could be an option); deer figurines; paper snowflakes; a small white pine bough; a child-sized Yule log; an image of the sun; photos of past family gatherings, …

 

 

    • Include your child, as much as possible, in your seasonal ritual. Last year, Weretoad held Bee while I lead our rite. She listened and observed. When it came time to take an omen, we actually let her pull a card out. This year, we may let her try giving an offering. You are the best judge of what your child is ready for when it comes to ritual. In my opinion, it’s never too early to start if you want to raise your child in your spirituality. Even if you don’t want to raise them in one path but merely want to expose them to what is important to you, teaching and modeling how to behave during a ritual early on can lay an important foundation for later when you may want to bring your family to an open circle, or even another person’s wedding or funeral. Children are capable of behaving and participating in meaningful ways during Pagan rituals, but it must be something regularly seen and experienced. If you haven’t already, start this Winter Solstice!

 

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Weretoad and I had another fun evening carving turnips, an old Irish Samhain tradition.  I carved a face because I’m old fashioned.  My husband, who is often more humorous than I am, couldn’t come up with any ideas, so he decided to label his vegetable.  Last year, I was given a pumpkin carving kit, and that made creating a face so much easier (I imagine it made Weretoad’s letters easier to carve as well)! As detailed in my tutorial last year, I hallowed the inside out with a sturdy metal spoon.  We added the innards to some roasted veggies.  Yum!

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Apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Upstate New York is known for its delicious apples. Each autumn, orchards roll out their red, yellow, and green goodness, cider presses offer their ambrosial best, and folks everywhere delight at the numerous confections produced in kitchens across the land.  When fresh apples appear in mounds at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, when the cider presses open, that is when autumn has officially arrived, and this little Druid rejoices!

While I’ll join my fellow grovies on Saturday for a formal ritual to honor and thank the Earth Mother for her bounty, I’ve spent my Autumn Equinox eating a homemade meal with my little family and enjoying the harvest of apples – including some from a tree right outside my home! I’ve already dehydrated some for snacking.  Today I decided to do something simple and quick – apple sauce.

It’s such a simple dish – a large batch of apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon.  Recipes say that last ingredient is optional, but you’re a strange one if you omit it.  Blended together, the aroma wafts through the home, the most welcomed autumn incense you could dream up.  While the plant world is dying or preparing for sleep, the smell of apples is youthful energy unleashed!

Homemade goodness. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Unlike store-bought applesauce, the homemade variety, fresh off the stove, tastes like apple pie filling without the crust.  All the good stuff – the heart and soul of the autumn season.  The only thing more gastronomically titillating is pumpkin pie filling.  Oh, mama… Speaking of mamas, there’s something very motherly about apple sauce to me.  Perhaps it’s because one of my first childhood memories is of watching my grandmother make it using apples straight off her tree – apples I helped to pick and sort.  As my baby salivated and smiled at the sugary treat of apple sauce, I realized that I was passing along yet another North Country tradition, one that goes back generations to the Old World.

Drying apple head. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Another apple tradition, one that I’ve never tried before, is drying apple heads to make dolls.  As someone who enjoys making dolls and learning about traditional arts, I don’t know why it’s taken me this long.  Using an apple that had a massive bruise on one side (normally I’m not a fan of wasting food, but this one was going to get thrown in a hedge anyway), I carved a face, inserted peppercorns for eyes, and placed in my oven on a low setting. It’s still drying nicely, and my hope is to make an offering for our Autumn Equinox celebration this weekend.

I hope your own harvest celebrations have been equally sweet and inspiring!   May your harvest invigorate your heart, mind, and soul, and may it reconnect you to your Ancestors and the rhythms of Nature!

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Original pattern and photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Autumn’s arrival means I have to prepare my garden for the colder temperatures. I realized that I had the same garden flag out since the Spring Equinox. I’ve grown fond of having a splash of color flying in my garden, but tulips and bees just won’t cut it for this time of year. Rather than buy something cheap and made in a factory, I decided to make something myself. I’m really proud of how it turned out, and wanted to share it with my readers!  What’s more, I decided to share my Goddess pattern in case you want to try making one yourself.

To make a flag, choose what fabric you’d like.  I used a stiff canvas for the background and some Autumn colored quilting fabric for the Goddess herself.  Trace the Goddess pattern onto the quilting fabric and cut out exactly.  For the flag, use the Goddess to determine the size and shape you’d like.  You can be fancy like myself, make a long triangle, or stick with a basic rectangle.  Cut two.  Pin the fabric Goddess, right side out, onto one of the flag pieces.  Applique stitch all the way around.  Pin the two flag sides together, right sides in, and stitch around all but the top edge.  Turn it right side out and iron.  Fold the top down, creating a wide enough entrance for your flagpole, and stitch.

Now you have a lovely, homemade flag to welcome the Autumn season!

If you make a flag using my Goddess pattern, I would love to see it.  I’m thinking about making another one winter, spring, and summer, since the Solstices and Equinoxes feel more about the Earth, Nature, and their changes.  For Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh, I see myself utilizing more cultural symbols.

Happy sewing, happy harvest, and blessed Autumn Equinox!

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