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Paper sun ornament made by my daughter. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Blessed Winter Solstice!  I hope you spend some time tonight reflecting on the gifts of the sun – warmth, light, and energy.  I’ve been talking to my daughter about what it all means, so making sun symbols is an obvious choice for a toddler Winter Solstice craft!  These simple sun ornaments can be decorations and gifts for loved ones.  Bee enjoyed making these, especially because it involved her new favorite hobby – finger painting!

Materials:

  • card stock
  • finger paints (warm colors)
  • a sun stencil – I used a sun/flower shaped cookie cutter
  • a pencil
  • scissors
  • a hole punch
  • yarn
  • other materials to decorate further if desired

Let your child attack the card stock with sun colored finger paints – yellow, orange, red, etc.  Bee enjoyed mushing the colors together to see how they interacted.  We let it dry for a few hours.  Next, I used cookie cutters to trace sun shapes before cutting them out with scissors.  Bee wanted to decorate them more.  I was amazed at her style – she drew a dot or line on each sun ray, and added some pretty decent spirals for her age!  We punched holes in them for yarn so they can be hung from tree branches.  I wrote a little message on the back and we are giving some as gifts from her to loved ones!  She personally picked out each sun, naming the recipients.

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Paper suns for your Winter Solstice window decor! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

 

As I wake up each day to darker and darker skies, I find myself thinking about the sun a lot.  I can only imagine the reverence and hope my ancestors attached to its lengthening rays each day following the Winter Solstice.  Adopting it as a central figure in my own Druidism seems more natural each year.

With that in mind, I decided to give a Winter Solstice twist to an old classic winter decoration.  As you make your paper snowflakes, why not make one or three paper suns?  I’m sure most of my readers know how to make a paper snoflake, and it’s the same process only making sure to include some solar rays on the outside.  For those who are rusty, or if you’ve never made a paper snowflake, here’s what you do!

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Yellow paper folded into quarters and ready to cut! Photo by Weretoad, 2013.

 

1) Take a square piece of sun-colored paper.  I’m fond of yellow, personally.

2) Fold it in half, then in quarters, then in eights.

3) To help you achieve the circular look, as well as the solar rays, use a pencil to add a curve and points near the edge.  I’ve found that simple ridges work best to keep the sun looking circular.  I tried some longer, curvier sun rays and they made the finished piece look square…

4) Cut along the lines near the edge.

5) Add extra designs to your sun by cutting smaller bits away along the fold.

6) Unfold and display with or without snowflakes!  If you want to flatten them after the folding process, simply put them between a couple towels and iron on a low setting.

Now, even if you wake up to a dark morning, there will still be a reminder of the sun’s warmth.  To add further significance to the decorations, leave them up until the Summer Solstice, when the days start to grow shorter again.  Put them into your ritual fires and contemplate the seasonal changes.

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The Winter Solstice is very nearly upon us, and if you’re anything like me, handmade gifts are pure magic!  If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, my felt Yule Goat Ornament may be just the ticket*!

Yule Goat Ornament – made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

I’ve said this before, but I always feel a small tug from my Germanic ancestry at this time of the year.  My husband also has Scandinavian heritage and we like to celebrate that.  When I discovered the Northern European tradition of the Yule Goat, I fell in love.  Goats are one of my favorite farm animals to begin with.  When you consider that Thor’s chariot was pulled by goats, it makes my heart skip a beat!  We actually have a straw Yule Goat as a table centerpiece in our apartment.  There are small versions for decorating trees, but I’ve never found one before (and never think to save straw to try making my own until it’s too late).  So why not make one out of felt?  I originally tried this last year.  The fruits of my labor became an offering to Thor at Muin Mound’s Winter Solstice sumbel.  This year I made one for my tree and another for a Secret Santa at the Grove.

Here’s how to make one for yourself or a beloved heathen!

Gathering materials – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

Materials:

  • felt (preferably a straw color like tan or dark yellow)
  • red thread (red is the color most traditionally used to create Yule Goats, but you may use another if your heart so desires)
  • slender red ribbon to hang the ornament
  • YuleGoatPattern
  • pins to hold the pieces together
  • a needle
  • scissors
  • dark colored beads for the eyes
  • red or gold colored beads for decoration

Procedure:

1.  Print and cut the above pattern.  Trace/pin onto felt and carefully cut the goat out.  Pin the sides together.

2.  Using a blanket stitch, work your way around the goat.  Be sure to add the ribbon on the back.  The easiest way to do this is knot the two raw edges together and insert it into the goat.  Stitch through it to secure.

3. Attach the eyes to either side of the head as desired.  If you like, hand embroider a harness and/or saddle on your goat.  See the above photo for a reference.  Attach any other beads to look like buckles or saddle decorations.

Blanket stitching around the goat – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

Before you know it, you’ll have an army of wee Yule Goats to invade your Solstice tree!  Alternatives for the pattern are to make pins or hair barrettes.  Happy crafting as you prepare for the Sun’s rebirth!

 

* The pattern and design were created by me, Grey Catsidhe.  You are free to use it for gifting or personal decor, but you may not sell the pattern or the final products. May you have integrity with an artist’s work!

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Hello to all my visitors, new and old!  Today, I’m taking part in The Bewitching Home Blog Party, hosted by the lovely Witch of Howling Creek!  The theme is adding magic to domestic tasks be they cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc.   To be honest, this all snuck up on me!  I’ve been a busy gal with work, organizing events for the Druidic Study Group, and attempting to keep my home tidy!  Despite how busy and stressful life has been, I’ve been thinking a lot about Samhain and, in particular, my ancestors this month.  The ancestors are never far from my thoughts.  They are honored at each high day and I have a special altar for them where I make offerings from time to time.  My extra attention to them this month is partly because my study group is focusing on that Kindred now, and also because, I think, the veil is thinning and they are making their presence more known.  As we approach Samhain, I’m planning to put some extra effort into keeping my home tidy.  It is believed that ancestors can visit when the veil is thin.  I should make my home as welcoming and comfortable as I would for any corporeal visitors!

Now my usual readers know I’m an artsy-craftsy sort of lady.  I love to make things for regular household use as well as magical objects.  I decided to share a basic sewing tutorial with you on this special occasion.  Today we’ll be making an ancestral altar cloth so you can create a very special place of honor for your visiting dead this season.  It’s the perfect blend of magic meets seasonal decor!

For supplies you’ll need some fabric, pins (check out the adorable witch hat pin cushion made by my friend Brighde Indigo), thin yarn or embroidery floss, thread, paper scissors, fabric scissors, tracing materials, an embroidery needle, and a sewing needle or sewing machine.  Now let’s think about the fabric for a moment.  You need enough of a base fabric to cover your altar.  You may go out and buy some fabric to make a simple table cloth, or you may use one you already have on hand.  I chose to use a white table cloth I made a few years ago.  I haven’t been using it and wanted to give it new life.  Appropriate, no?You will be appliquéing four skulls onto the corners of your altar cloth.  Choose a color that works well with your base fabric.   Since my table cloth was a white faux satin, I used some scrap black satin I had laying around.  I decided to use red thread and thin yarn for the applique and blanket stitch border.  White, black and red are colors I associate with the dead.  White symbolizes the bones and new life; red the blood or life force; and black is the mystery surrounding death as well as the dark Earth we all rest in for a time.  Choose colors that suit your own ancestral beliefs!
Trace four skulls on your coordinating fabric using the Skull_pattern I’ve provided (that’s where the paper scissors come in handy!)       Cut the skulls out but be sure to leave enough room around the tracing – as photographed.  You will trim away excess after appliqueing.  Fold the skulls in half to cut the eyes and nose out.    I did not choose to cut out the mouth.  Rather, I stitched to show teeth.  You’ll see what I mean later!
Pin the skulls, right side up, in the corners of your table cloth.
Although you may applique by hand (using a blanket stitch), it’s much easier to use a machine – especially if you’re using a fabric as fray-happy as satin!    I’m still new to applique, so I apologize for the sloppiness of it.  Here’s a great tutorial from Design Sponge.  They used interfacing – something I didn’t have on hand.  After this project, I can see why it’s so important.  It stiffens the fabric and keeps it in place.  You can still make this altar cloth without it, but I’m warning you it will be a bit annoying!  Use the smallest zig-zag setting your machine has and have at it!  Notice, I used the zig-zag stitch in the mouth area.  I love how toothy it looks!  I then trimmed the fabric around the stitching.  Smaller scissors would have made it easier but, again, using what I have on hand!  As I worked, I chanted to the ancestors.  When the applique was complete, I hand-stitched around the edges using the yarn.  I chose to use the blanket stitch – it’s simple and added just enough extra color.
After the altar cloth was complete, I consecrated it in ritual.  Notice the red border!  I’m very pleased with how it turned out!
Now it sits upon my special Samhain Ancestral altar – providing a cozy spot for them to rest and feast if they visit.
Be sure to check out all the other wonderful posts in this fun blog-party!  All other participants are sharing their links in the comments of the original post.  There are other tutorials, giveaways, recipes, and lots of inspiration!

EDIT:  I just now realized that the skull pattern turned out to be HUGE.  It’s really not supposed to be that big…  You’ll need to minimize it to fit your altar cloth.  Or, I suppose, you could make some really large ones!

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I recently made some oak earrings as a birthday gift for a friend and I thought they were perfect for another Winter Solstice Tutorial.  These are lovely, easy-to-make gifts for a grove member or tree-loving friend!

Materials:

  • The oak leaf pattern (you may need to adjust the size)
  • Two colors of felt that look nice together
  • Four buttons that go with the color scheme (I used buttons with two holes)
  • Sterling silver, gold, or surgical steel jewelry supplies – two mini rings and two French hooks
  • thread that works with your selected color scheme (I chose brown thread to match my brown buttons)
  • A needle
  • Scissors
  • Two pliers to open and close the mini ring
Supplies

Your first step is to make the pattern the size you want. Because one of the leaves is to be smaller, these work best as medium to large sized earrings.  Cut the pattern out, trace onto the felt, and cut the shapes out of the fabric.

You’ll have four layers: button, small leaf, large leaf, button.  Maybe a little hard to see….
Next, place the smaller leaf on the larger leaf and center.  Take your threaded needle, and stitch into the small leaf from behind so that the knot is hidden.  Position one button over the small leaf, making sure to insert the needle into one of the holes.  Stitch through the next hole and push the needle partway through to the back of the larger leaf. Place the next button on the back of the leaf, inserting the needle into one of the holes.  Pull the thread all the way through, then stitch into the other hole, going back to the front.  Reinforce the stitching several times to secure.
Almost done!  Ignore the paint stains on the cutting board…

Don’t tie and cut the thread off yet.  Push your needle through the button and up to the top of the large leaf.  Put the leaves aside and use two pliers to open a mini ring.  Insert into the ring of the French hook and close the mini ring with the pliers.  Take your leaves and use the needle and thread to attach the ring.  Reinforce several times.  Repeat these steps to create the second earring.

And you’re done!

The finished pair will look like this!  My friend really liked the pair I gave her and already knew of a matching sweater.  I went with a green, yellow, and brown color scheme, but green and red would work as Solstice colors.  Alternatively, you could make one as a Solstice ornament and attach to the top of a wrapped package.

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