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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Autumn Sunshine. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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Exploring the Hedge

A black and yellow garden spider.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

A black and yellow garden spider. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

This weekend, I took some time to explore the hedge and get to know it a little more. As a Druid in the Northeastern part of the US, I think I spend a lot of time focused on forests, especially the trees. We are blessed with them here, after all! The hedge is the boundary I cross to get there. Occasionally I stop and check the blackberry patch there, or harvest some jewelweed to tend to the mosquito bites I got in the forest… but it so often takes a backseat to the forest itself.

I’ve noticed myself spending more time there this summer.  I like to stick closer to home than I used to, whether Bee is with me or not, so the hedge is a nice place to go.  There are so many potential plant allies there such as burdock, thistle, chicory, red clover, and curly dock. There are also some facinating animals hanging out in this transitional zone, like the black and yellow garden spider I spotted on Saturday right before the sky opened up. I returned to the spot today, Sunday, not expecting to see it again since we had quite a heavy downfall accompanied but a lot of wind. However, there the web and spider remained! Nature Spirits can be incredibly persistent and strong!  

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Last weekend, we celebrated Lughnasadh with friends from Northern Rivers Protogrove and Muin Mound Grove at the latter’s annual Lugh Games. There was friendly competition, feasting, swimming, singing around a fire, and a lovely ritual. My husband was crowned the champion of the games! It was a wonderful time.

Today, I celebrated Lughnasadh with my family. Having already participated in a large, formal ritual, today was about our household customs.  I hope my readers had a blessed Lughnasadh.  May the season be fruitful for everyone!

One of our traditions is to gather wild grass gone to seed on Lughnasadh. It’s the closest we have to wheat near our home and it acts as a centerpiece on our dinner table. Come Imbolc, our Druid group will use the grass to make Brighid crosses. Gathering it was a wonderful excuse to spend some time outside on this lovely Lughnasadh day! Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

Although it’s a small harvest, I’m proud of it!, especially the potatoes. I only dug around a corner in one of my potato bins and was pleasantly surprised! Huzzah for harvest!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

We set our table for a homemade dinner of salad, roasted veggies, seitan, corn on the cob, red wine, and my first attempt at “wheat sheaf” bread. Everything was delicious, and much of it came from local farms or our own patio garden!  We made offerings to Lugh and Tailtiu.  After dinner, I used some of the cornhusks to make corn dollies.  I can’t wait to share that tradition with Bee.   Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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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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Last Friday, my husband and I returned to the sacred land of our childhood – the glorious Adirondack Mountains of Upstate, NY.  Neither of us had been born there, but we spent time there as children.  As for myself, my family seemed to travel there just about every weekend in the summers.  Most often, we swam in Old Forge or Inlet.  Sometimes we would hike near Raquette Lake, Long Lake, Blue Mountain Lake.  Sometimes we climbed little mountains.  And sometimes, those rare, special times, we would take trips into the land of the high peaks – Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.  We only swam and took short walks, but always in the gaze of the taller mountains.

The day was cool and sunny, just as we had hoped.  A light pack ready to go, we made our way to the wild heart of NY State.  Along the way, we listened to the most recent Druidcast which featured some of the speeches given at OBOD’s 50th celebration.  Even though I’m not involved with that tradition, the message was perfect for the trip.  As the high peaks began to appear, like whale fins cresting in a rolling green ocean, I felt my Druid spirit rejoice. Caitlín Matthews’ words from her speech, “Authenticity and Authority in Druidry” thundered in my heart – “I don’t call myself a Druid, I AM a Druid.”  One of the many reasons I feel that way is because of the time I spent in the Adirondacks as a child.  It was where I first started to rejoice in Mother Earth’s majesty, and where I truly fell in love with, and understood the power of conservation.  In my humble opinion, Druidism is only partially about culture.  The other part is adoring and revering the natural world.  The Adirondack helped me see that at an early age.  Now I was initiating my daughter.

We planned to climb Mt. Jo, one of the smaller mountains in Lake Placid.  With an elevation of  2876′, it would be the tallest mountain I’ve climbed to date.  Others described it as suitable for a family hike with small children.  I’m not sure they had one-year-olds in mind, but we managed through teamwork, frequent stops, a decent carrier, and sheer stubbornness.  There are two trails – short and long – the former being more difficult.  We opted for the longer trail, which was rocky and difficult enough.  I can’t imagine the shorter trail with a baby.

The trek was worth it, however.  When we reached the top (which meant passing the baby back and forth as we scrambled up some steep, rocky ledges), we felt amazing.  Even the most beautiful photographs don’t quite capture the size and majesty of the surrounding landscape.  It was like a Thomas Cole painting spilling over its canvas.  In some directions, the Earth Mother seemed to crouch, all elbows and knees.  Turn your head just so, and she appeared to relax, her breasts ample mounds at rest.  Above, the Sky Father’s bright eye looked out at her beauty from behind his lacy curtains.  A troop of iridescent dragonflies danced in her breath.

It seemed out of a folk tale; there were gurus at the top.  A young woman sat with a book, her employment to sit on the mountain for hours to guide visitors.  She helped us identify the nearby High Peaks.  A bearded gentleman sat, seemingly meditating.  His wife crouched with her loyal canine friend near the trees.  She spoke to us about how beautiful it was that we persevered with our child up the mountain, about how we were giving her a gift.  She reminisced about the times she brought her now grown children up mountains, seeming to get a little choked up.  It was moving, and made our effort seem all the more significant, all the more part of a spiritual tradition.  As we approached the top, we had thought, “Surely, we are crazy to bring a baby…,” yet she validated our calling to the mountain.  Yes, we were but three small creatures clambering over the Earth Mother’s elevated beauty, but doing so grounded us in her sacred mystery and reminded us of what it truly is to live.

Before beginning our descent, I put my hands on Mt. Jo’s rock.  It was toasty hot.  I let that warmth rise into my arms.  As I did so, I was aware of the sun above me, the Earth and trees about me, the nearby lake shimmering  just beyond our view…  Visitors to the Adirondacks are asked not to take anything nor leave anything as part of their conservation efforts.  I felt that an offering had to be made, but I’m a modern Druid and respect modern conservation (an offering in and of itself).  I left my gratitude.  I poured it into that mountain and sealed it with a kiss.  I look forward to returning with Bee when she’s older, and I can’t wait to climb more mountains…

The view from Mt. Jo’s summit. Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

 

Standing in awe next to the Earth Mother’s bones. Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

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Homemade Watermelon Juice.  Made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe – 2012

Although it’s hot today in the North Country, the nights keep feeling cooler and I’ve even noticed some color on the trees.  Children are preparing to go back to school and pumpkins are ripening on the vine.  The wheel of the year is turning, folks.  Take a moment and feel it!  While you’re doing that, don’t let summer slide out of your grasp just yet!  Enjoy the last few weeks of summer with some kitchen magic using local ingredients.  I picked up a watermelon from a local organic farm to make one of my favorite things – watermelon juice!

I highly doubt I’m the first one to think of this.  Plenty of people have been juicing longer than me!  I first decided to juice watermelon after a party late July.  We had a ton left over, and I have been experimenting with the juicer I purchased several months ago.  That purchase was not in vain since I’ve had so much fun playing with food using it!  Watermelon seemed like a perfect candidate since it’s already deliciously juicy and, being made mostly of water, would produce little waste*.  This fruity summer potion is perfect for potlucks and sun worshiping in the pool.  It’s also a fun virgin drink for people who can’t or choose not to drink alcohol.

Materials:

  • One medium to large watermelon (preferably local and/or organic!)
  • A large serrated knife
  • A large cutting board
  • An ice cream scoop, melon baller, or thick spoon
  • A medium or large bowl
  • Either a second bowl, a small pitcher, or a large measuring glass to catch the juice from the juicer
  • A large pitcher
  • A juicer **
  • Wooden spoon
  • Glasses for serving
Making Juice – Photo by Grey Catsidhe – 2012

Procedure:

  1. Cut the watermelon in half.  Thinly slice a small section off to save for garnishes if you desire (see top photo).
  2. Using the melon baller, scoop out the watermelon.  Put the pink “meat” into a bowl.  It’s easier to juice it all at once.
  3. Plug your juicer in and put it on the low setting.  Since watermelons aren’t very tough, extra power isn’t necessary.  Make sure you have another bowl or small pitcher below the spout to collect the juice.  Start putting your watermelon into the juicer.
  4. You’ll probably have to stop to empty your bowl or smaller pitcher into the larger pitcher.  Watermelons make a lot of juice!
  5. Stir with a wooden spoon.  This is a great time to incorporate some magic.  Pull in the Two Powers and visualize them going into the drink with the intent to refresh, to inspire, or to energize during the heat.
  6. Refrigerate when done.  You’ll probably want to stir again when chilled.
  7. To enjoy the pink glow, serve in wine glasses.  Garnish with small slices of watermelon if desired.
  8. If you really want, you could stir in some sugar but I haven’t done this and don’t recommend it.  Enjoy the natural sweetness of the watermelon!  So delightful and healthy as is!
*Fret not about the waste!  It can go right into the compost heap!  You can also use the waste for other concoctions.  If I’m making carrot juice, I do the carrots first then empty the juicer bin into a bowl, saving the finely shredded carrot for cake.  Provided you don’t have big seeds in the mix, much of the waste can be turned into filler for soups, homemade fruit rolls, or even crackers using a dehydrator!
** If you don’t have a juicer, you could use a blender or food processor – but it will be thicker.  A juicer separates the liquids from the solids.  You will also have to take the seeds into account if you do not have a juicer.  Either pick them out by hand or find a seedless variety.

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