Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Archive: Samhainn 2006

Although it was a while ago, I realised I haven’t posted about it yet…Perhaps because it was a little bit of a non-event in many ways. The day started well enough, being the first real cold day we’ve had so far, but my pregnant body and brain let me down a little.

After my big shopping trip and visit to the hospital the day before, I think I overdid it a bit and my back and hips decided to revolt; I felt a little exhausted too. My plans for a nice long countryside walk were promptly cancelled, then, although I did manage to take the dog to the park and I showed Tom the ducks and all the leaves on the floor and the berries on the trees. He was more interested in going on the swings to be honest, but it was nice to watch what little wildlife there was. So I didn’t get to go for a nice walk and have a quiet meditation on the scenery (the park not being exactly country). I was hoping to see some cows so I could meditate on the fact that I’m feeling drawn to Boand recently - I know it’s not necessarily, but obvious connections make it easier to concentrate, especially when I have no idea how to build a relationship with her at this point. Perhaps it just wasn’t the right timing for it, anyway.

My stomach decided to revolt over the thought of some buttery bannocks, so I didn’t do those either, but I did have a go at the stovies and cream crowdie (also called cranachan). The crowdie was nice (but I forgot to add shortbread, which would have made it much nicer), but the stovies were a disappointment - my first go to be fair, but not as nice as Mr Seren does them. I’m not yet ready to live up to Granny Rose’s 60 years worth of stovie cooking, it seems. Not that it’s daunting or anything…

The evening was a little better as I lit candles on my altar for the Mighty Ones and my ancestors, and then left an offering at the shrine outside as well as a candle for The Gentry. For some reason the candle seemed appropriate. Back inside, I spent a while with the altar candles and let my mind wander. I always get a sense of peace and comfort when I do this - nothing spectacular, but I know They are there. I gave thanks before I went to bed (early) and decided against trying any divination - I was too tired.

But I did have a bizarre dream where I was supposed to be studying for my exams, but I hadn’t been to any classes or done any coursework so I knew I was going to fail. I was on a field trip as well, so didn’t have time to posibly make up for the time I’d missed, either. There was more to it than that, but I’m putting it down to a typical anxiety dream about the prospect of looking after two young children - especially in the first month or two because I don’t want Tom to feel neglected because I know how exhausting it all is now…I’ve always had a fear of failure, probably made worse by the fact that I’ve never failed anything important in my life before.

Anyway, I figured that given the timing I should take note of the dream and work through my ‘issues’. I know I’ll be able to rely on the in-laws to take some of the pressure off us for a while and Tom’s pretty easy going. And I know plenty of people cope with more than one child every day. I guess I’m just having a hard time imagining it.

So I suppose that even though things didn’t go as I’d *sort of* planned, I got a lot out of the day. When I think about it, it wasn’t so much of a non-event.

*Off to ponder*

Monday, 1 May 2006

Archive: Bealltainn 2006

Bealltainn was a great success this year, I think. I had quite a full day.

The night before I took the dog for a walk and collected the rowan - just a few branches to put by the back door and a little to go in the compost heap (it was traditional to put a piece in the midden to stop the good folk stealing the prosperity from the house, and that heap is the nearest thing I have, since that’s where all the scraps go). I lit a candle to Bride and then purposefully blew it out and switched everything off before I went to bed - the nearest I could get to extinguishing the fire that’s supposed to burn in the house all year. It all felt almost like Christmas Eve by that point.

I started the next day early, greeting the sun as it came up (although it was cloudy so it just got light, really). After entertaining Tom until his first nap of the day I made the drop bannocks and took one outside to throw bits behind me, giving a piece to the Mighty Ones, a piece to the ancestors, and a piece to the gentry to ask that they watch over my family and loved ones. Being the only one who was up at the time, everything was eerily quiet and I had the weird, heavy feeling that I was being listened to, which doesn’t happen to me often. Even the dog waited until I’d finished before he hoovered up my offerings, which was unusually restrained of him.

Mr Seren, being off work for the bank holiday, also enjoyed the bannocks for his breakfast. During the week I’d gone to a specialist cheese shop in Stratford-upon-Avon to get some sheeps cheese to go with the bannocks, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I chose a solid rather than soft cheese which had been made locally, and it managed to be full of flavour but mild at the same time (I’m not a big fan of strong cheese). I was pleased that none of the bannocks broke, because otherwise I know I would have been paranoid about ‘evil portents.’ (Duh duh DUH).

My neighbour had given us some potted flowers as a thank you for fixing her TV, so I used that as the nearest thing to a May bough as I could get. I hadn’t intended to do one because I have nowhere to put it, so that was a little unplanned. I did decorate the living room with some yellow flowers, though. It was a shame we hadn’t got the fireplace fixed up because it would have been nice to have got it set up as my hearth altar in time, but in the meantime I’ve been using my pond as my focal point because it reminds me of a Bride’s Well. Tom likes watching the fishes, so we went out when it got sunny and he had a good chuckle at them, while I left an offering and skimmed a little of the water to sprinkle over the threshold for health and prosperity in the coming year.

My oven, not being up to much at the moment, did manage to roast a couple of lamb shanks quite passably. I think Mr Seren appreciated that the most (he’s easily pleased). The dog later appreciated gnawing on the bones, while the cats were left to jealously watch him - for once they weren’t brave enough to antagonise him. And then, after Tom had gone to bed I lit another candle to Bride and spent a while in quiet contemplation before having a gloriously long bath. Thoroughly exhausted after such a long day, I went to bed and slept more peacefully than I have since before Tom was born. He didn’t wake up once during the night, and was even happy enough to play in his cot for an hour after he woke up in the morning, giving us a little lie in. I think that was the best part.

Part of me is a little shocked that I managed to actually stick to my plans and do something, rather than think about it a lot and then not bother. I’m still a little shy and embarrassed about doing all this in front of my husband, who isn’t religious in any way, and generally looks bemused at the thought that anyone would still be religious in this day and age. Occasionally he’ll tease me about it, as his way of showing his support and understanding (in a very Man way). This year, as I served up dinner, he wished me a happy Baal’s day. Bless ‘im.