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Welcome to Mrs Darley's Blog

This blogspot has been created especially for those who wish to share their ideas and thoughts about the natural world as the year turns and the ancient Pagan festivals that were once celebrated by our ancestors.

Poetry, prose craft work, ancient cure craft and general thoughts and feelings on how the change in the weather and seasons makes you feel are all encouraged and welcomed.

Mrs Darley was my once next door neighbour when I lived amongst the wilds of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall back in the early 1990's. Her charismatic ways and unending wisdom lead me on a journey of self discovery as I spiralled ever further into her magical world.

She has since become the central character in the 'Mrs Darley' series of books.

Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers

Mrs Darley's Moon Mysteries

Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements

Mrs Darley's Pagan Healing Wisdom






Friday, 24 December 2010

Seasonal Fayre


Regardless of our spiritual beliefs, many of us will be tucking into what we assume is traditional Christmas fayre tomorrow, including turkey and Christmas pudding, but perhaps surprisingly, these familiar foods are not as traditional as we might think!

During the 15th century, the wealthy ate boars head, which was trumpeted to the table to show its importance. Our ancestors too, held this dish in high esteem as it was revered by both the Celts and the Vikings.

During the 17th and 18th centuries boar was superceded by swan and peacock, then by beef, until the 19th century when the Victorians introduced turkey as a cheap alternative, although records show that turkey was served at Christmas as early as 1542.

Plum porridge was an old Christmas dish, which, over the centuries became thicker and thicker until it took the form of our now familiar Christmas pudding, which first appeared around 1670. It also became the hiding place for silver coins, the good luck symbols which were originally hidden in the Twelfth Night Cake.

Whatever your preference and whatever your path, may the returning light shine bright in your life.

'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers.'

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Winter Solstice Blessings


On this the shortest day of the year, the light of hope shines in the darkness and heralds a time of renewal and beginnings. The following is an extract from 'Mrs Darly's Pagan Whispers'.

'Leaving for work one morning just as it was getting light, a few days before Christmas, I could just make outthe silhouette of Mrs Darley sitting on her doorstep, wrapped cosily in a warm shawl. Thinking she was locked out, I asked if she needed any help.
She shook her head, "No thank you dear, I'm waiting."
"I see," I said, not wishing to ask for whom.
"I'm waiting for the sun," she said, answering my silent question. "This is one of the most momentous occasions of the northern hemisphere when the sun begins His journey back to full strength. Most people let it slip by without a word, without even knowing. You should stay a moment."
"I can't," I said, "I have an early meeting."
"So have I," said Mrs Darley, her eyes never wavering from the distant horizon.'

Solstice blessings.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Winter Solstice at Newgrange



Next week heralds an exciting time, for the solstice, the full moon and a lunar eclipse all converge on the 21st, the day which heralds the return of the sun.

For the Irish Celts, the winter solstice was held in high esteem as evidenced by the magnificent burial tomb at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley in County Meath, a monument which predates both the pyramids and Stonehenge and which took 40 years to build.

For approximately 5 days around the winter solstice, the rising sun shines through a roof box positioned above the entrance to the tomb and penetrates the depths of the triple chambered tomb. This beautifully crafted burial chamber stands as a testament to the high esteem in which the ancestors were held, by the Neolithic people of Ireland.

Newgrange is well worth a visit however, if you intend to go specifically at the winter solstice, do take note that over 25000 people usually put their names down to be one of the 25 lucky people to watch the sunrise!
From 'Mrs Darleys Pagan Whispers'




Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ivy


Ivy is traditionally the feminine partner to holly, although some schools of thought take the opposing view and consider it to be masculine, due to its white berries which are said to be symbolic of semen.

Ivy is thought to be protective in nature and if grows on the walls of a house, those inside will be kept safe from misfortune. My Mum's name was Ivy and she certainly went out of her way to keep us all safe from harm.

In times past it was considered unlucky to bring more ivy than holly into the house at Yuletide, however, this was probably due to the fact that patriarchal society wanted more masculine plants in the home rather than feminine. Balance again, I feel is the key to harmony.

Read more in 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers'

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Sacred Holly


There has been much debate about whether holly represents the masculine or feminine principal. One school of thought considers it to be masculine because of its prickly nature and see the red berries as being symbolic of the sacrificial God spilling his blood upon the fields. Another school of thought considers it to be feminine, and that the red berries symbolise the menstrual blood of the Goddess.

The Saxons however, recognised that holly could represent both the male and female principal. They called holly without berries 'he' holly and holly with berries was referred to as 'she' holly. If more 'he' holly than 'she' was brought into the house, then the husband would rule the home for the following year, whilst if more 'she' holly was present then the wife would be in charge.

Perhaps we should all aim for a little of each in order to bring balance and harmony this winter solstice.
From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers'

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Oak Moon


Today (5th December) welcomes the new Oak Moon. For the Celts this moon heralded the end of their 13 moon lunar cycle and personified strength, stamina, life, death and rebirth. The oak was sacred to the Celtic Druids as many of their ceremonies were carried out beneath oak lined groves and it was also the sacred tree of Jupiter, Zeus, and Thor.

Often struck and split by lightning, it is actually thought to protect those who shelter beneath it from the same fate. To the ancient Greeks the rustling of the leaves were thought to be the voice of the Gods, whilst to the Irish, the oak was one of seven 'noble' trees, often referred to as 'Jove's tree'.

After the battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles 11 hid in the Boscobel oak tree when escaping from his parliamentarian enemies. In celebration of his restoration to the English throne, May 29th was known as 'Oak Apple Day' in honour of the tree that had saved his life. It became a public holiday for many years when everyone was expected to wear an oak leaf out of respect. Many pubs were subsequently named the 'Royal Oak' and still carry the name today.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Preparation


In the Christian calendar the period of Advent has begun. The word deriving from the Latin 'adventus', meaning 'arrival' and as such a period of preparation begins.

Sadly however, with so much emphasis on materialism, little thought is given to the true meaning of this period of preparation and people are more inclined to be buying food, presents and cards rather than giving consideration to any spiritual aspect.

If you follow the Pagan path, this is a time for rest. The Dark Mother withdraws her hand from the earth and all falls silent. Within the stillness however, we too can prepare. For it is here that the seeds of hope are sewn for new life whilst awaiting the return of the sun.

If you are forced to be still for a while, perhaps because of the early snowfall, enjoy this window of peace, for it offers you an opportunity to reassess your life path before the sun calls your soul to adventure.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Why we need to drink water


We are all aware that we should drink water. Health magazines, newspapers and complementary therapists all advise us to increase our intake to around 6 glasses per day, but what is the reason behind this advice?

The human body comprises of millions of cells, each of which is filled and surrounded by a watery fluid. In a healthy, hydrated body, the water outside the cells is less concentrated than that inside, therefore allowing toxins to be drawn out of the cell through the process of osmosis. When the body becomes dehydrated however, the process is reversed and the water outside the cell becomes more concentrated than inside. This then interferes with the delicate process of osmosis, which ultimately leads to a build up of toxins, all of which can contribute to many serious diseases.

Happy drinking!

From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Avebury


Avebury in Wiltshire is a feast for the spiritual senses, with so many fascinating sites within a mere stones throw from each other.

The mysteries of this beautiful landscape with its stone circles, avenues, long barrows and unfathomable mounds, all of which pre-date the pyramids, are truly awe inspiring. It is an area that draws you back time and time again, for it is here that the past lives and the ancestors whisper their heartfelt secrets.

The Henge shop is a treasure trove, the community run shop is a delight, the National Trust museums are excellent and Brian, who owns the little antique shop opposite the pub, is a true character and a gentleman.

Avebury is decidely a World Heritage Site worthy of its title.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Bonfires


Many people mistakenly think that Bonfire night was brought about by the Christian authorities to overlay the sinister Pagan fire festival of Samhain. Bonfire night however is purely to celebrate the survival of the Houses of Parliament following the unsuccessful gunpowder plot on 5th November 1605.
In 1606 James 1 ordered that everyone should attend a church service in order to give thanks for delivering England from such atrocities and as the years passed the celebrations continued outside the church service and bonfires were lit upon which images of Guy Fawkes were burned to commemorate his assumed execution.
Guy Fawkes however was not sentenced to burn but was supposed to have been hung, drawn and quartered. He deprived the crown of its revenge however as he jumped from the high scaffold before the executioner came near him and subsequently broke his neck.

If you are attending a bonfire tonight, enjoy the festivities and the powerful element of fire.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Samhain

A time of stillness of reflection and thanks before the beginning of the Celtic New Year and the continuing journey into the winter with the dark Goddess.




The Dark Realms

Through the mists of other worlds,
Through the veil between,
Come to me in dream and trance,
Come by means unseen.

Lead me through the barren land,
Where leaves and needles fall,
Lead me to the darkened heath,
Where ghosts and demons call.

Take me to the world beyond,
A world of stick and bone,
Take me to the shadow realms,
The dwelling of the crone.

Let me see the well of death,
The cauldron of decay,
Let me come to know the hag,
Once crowned the 'Queen of May'.

Wisest Hecate, dark Calleach,
Who bring us loss and pain,
Lead us through the door of death,
That we may rise again.

From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers' by Carole Carlton

May the Goddess bring you blessings this Samhain

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Friday and the Sea


Continuing the watery theme as autumn progresses, we will take a look at the dread with which many sailors face Fridays if they have to begin a voyage on that day.

It was thought that witches ruled supreme on Fridays and could weald great power over the waters which may explain why so much fear built up around what is, in actual fact, the sacred day of the Norse Goddess of Love and wife of Odin, Frigga.

The renowned poet, Lord Byron, shared all the superstitions of his fellow Scotsmen but although he recognised Friday as an unlucky day, he nevertheless put his superstitions to one side and embarked upon a voyage to Greece, where he died at Missolonghi.

The British admiralty attempted to prove the absurdity of this superstition and so ordered the keel of a ship to be laid on a Friday; they named the ship Friday and launched her on a Friday. They gave the command to a man called Friday and set sail on Friday, however, although the ship was new and seaworthy when it left port, neither the ship or the crew were ever heard of again!

Take care when you book your ferry tickets!


From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton

Monday, 18 October 2010

Wales and Mid West Pagan Conference


This weekend we visited the beautiful town of Crickhowell in South Wales, where the Wales and Mid West Pagan Conference was held. What a lovely place and what friendly people. Thank you to everyone who made us so welcome. This is a part of Wales with which, until now, we were unfamiliar but it is definitely somewhere we will be visiting again.

The conference itself made for a very interesting day spent with like minded people and some of the talks were fascinating on subjects such as training in the craft & the Gods of the Greek/Roman sorcerers. The open and closing rituals were also beautifully performed. Bee's (and many others I'm sure) hard work made the day a great success.

Will most certainly look forward to next year's conference.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ondine's Curse


In German mythology the term, 'Ondine' was used as the proper name for a beautiful water nymph who fell deeply in love with a brave knight called Sir Lawrence. The couple married and, when making their vows, Sir Lawrence stated that his every waking breath would be a pledge of his love and faithfulness to Ondine. The couple were very happy and soon Ondine gave birth to a beautiful child. From this moment on however Ondine lost her gift of eternal youth and began to age. As her looks diminished so her husband's interest in her waned and one afternoon Ondine found her husband sleeping in the arms of another woman.

Enraged, Ondine reminded Sir Lawrence of his wedding vows when he said that his every waking breath would be a promise of his love and faithfulness to her. She went on to curse him by saying that as long as he stayed awake he would have the breath of life, but if he should ever have the misfortune to fall asleep then his breath would fail and he would die. Needless to say his life was dramatically shortened.

There is a medical condition called 'Undine's Curse', which is used to describe a rare disorder whereby the automatic control of breathing is lost resulting in the need for every breath to be made consciously. If the person falls asleep then this facility is lost and they die.
From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Ondine


Autumn is the season of water and symbollically is associated with maturity and a quietening of the spirit. It is protected by the Ondine, a fairy like creature who makes its abode in pools and waterfalls.

These enchanting creatures are born with the gift of eternal life but do not possess a soul and can only acquire one by marrying a human and bearing his child. In exchange for a soul the ondine loses the gift of eternal life.

Read about 'Ondine's Curse' in the next blog.

The Yew

Beneath the yew, beside the stream
Lies the land of long lost dreams,
Where through the mists of yesterday,
The lore of magic still holds sway.

Where naiads sing and ondines dance,
The human soul becomes entranced.
Beneath the yew, Beside the stream,
Lies the land Of long lost dreams

From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Harvest Festival


The harvest season began of course back in August with the harvesting of the corn at which point we gave thanks to our Celtic ancestors for the festival of Lughnasadh (see earlier blog). The later Saxons brought with them the festival of Hlaefmass meaning 'loaf festival' where the loaf made from the first cut of the corn was crumbled and placed in the four corners of the barn to ensure a fruitful harvest in the year to come and to protect the gathered crops.

When Christianity came to these islands the festival soon died out as it was seen as having nothing to do with the life of Christ. Therefore the church remained without such a festival until the year 1843 when the Reverend Hawker, the eccentric Vicar of Morwenstowe church high up on the North Cornish coast, reinstated the festival following a fruitful harvest after several years of failed crops, in order to give thanks to God.

As we sit down at our tables laden with food this autumn consider offering a silent word of thanks not only to our Celtic and Saxon ancestors but also to the Reverend Hawker for reinstating an ancient and worthwhile festival

Monday, 27 September 2010

Autumn Fairs


As September was possibly the last mellow month of the year, many feasts and fairs were held around this time to take advantage of the weather and the abundance of food.

One popular type of fair was a 'mop fair' at which servants were normally hired for the coming year. Those wanting a job would line up and each one wear or hold a sign of their trade. E.g. a crook for a shepherd, a pot for a cook, a mop for a cleaner (hence the name 'mop fair'). If they were lucky enoughto be hired their employer would give them what was known as a 'fastenpenny' which was a gift of money to bind them to their new post at which point they were free to go off around the fair and enjoy themselves.

Enjoy the last few days of September and let's hope for an Indian summer to carry us into October.

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Autumn Equinox


The equinox arrived along with the full moon yesterday (23rd) at 10.17 BST. From now on our world with descend further into darkness whilst the earth begins her period of rest and renewal following the gathering of the final crops.

The equinox is a strange time, it is unpredictable, brings strange weather patterns to our door and often makes us feel unsettled. When this is coupled with the effects of the full moon, be prepared for the unexpected.

'Gather, gather the last fruits of summer
Drink of their sweetness
And bathe in their juice,
Gather, gather the last fruits of summer
For winter is bindingAnd tightening her noose.'
From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers'

Monday, 20 September 2010

The arrival of Jupiter

Tomorrow (21st September) Jupiter's approach comes closest to the earth and as such it is the best time to view both the planet and its moons.

In our solar system there are approximately 140 known moons of which Jupiter has the lion's share at sixty two, four of which are the largest around any planet.

  1. Callisto: The outermost of the four and the most heavily cratered. It is thought to hold a body of water.
  2. Io: The innermost moon and the most sulphurous and volcanic, with hundreds of eruptions at any one time. It also appears to have an atmosphere.
  3. Europa: This has an icy surface which may cover liquid water.
  4. Ganymede: The largest moon in the solar system being larger in diameter than Mercury and has its own magnetic field.
Resurrect your telescope and enjoy the view!

Mrs Darley's Moon Mysteries will provide more detail on the planets and their fascinating moons.



Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Element of Ether


'The fifth element or ether, is that which surrounds every living thing. It is that which houses the seat of the spirit, that which holds the blueprint of the physical body before birth and that which is last to dissipate after death........I believe that when the soul incarnates into the physical body, the flame of life is lit and that is what I consider to be the spirit. To me, spirit is the essence of life that sits within the etheric body. It ignites at our birth and evaporates at our death......that is unless someone meets with a violet or unhappy end.......'

From Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements by Carole Carlton

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance


September has always been the traditional time for feasts and fairs, with folk taking advantage of the last warm dry days before the onset of autumn and celebrating the earth's bounty with suppers and food fayres.
In Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire however, a very different type of public event is carried out every September called the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, thought to date back at least 1000 years. Here six men carry reindeer antlers on their shoulders and dance around the whole village visiting all the outlying houses and local inns, having of course a sample of ale at each. The dance takes all day and they are accompanied by a motley crew of a male Maid Marion, a fool, a hobby horse and a boy with a bow and arrow.
Its origins are shrouded in mystery but suggestions include that it was once performed to ensure good hunting; that it was a dance to honour the sacrificial Corn God, or simply a harvest celebration which is said to bestow good luck upon all those who watch it.
It is normally held on the first Monday after the first Sunday after the 4th September but do check the web site to make sure as the date has been known to change on occasions.
If you miss the dancers going out in the morning however it's a long wait until they reappear late in the afternoon! There are stalls and a festive atmosphere in the village however and on a nice day it's worth a visit.
Read more in Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers by Carole Carlton

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Element of Earth


'Earth is our home. It is our Mother, our provider. It offers us deeply wooded forests, sheltered mountain caves, rolling hills, fields of corn and a plethora of animals and plants. It is the food on our table and the touch of someone's hand. The earth is always in a constant state of flux beneath our feet, confirming that nothing stays still and that the only constant is change. The earth element is the abode of the gnome and reminds us that we are flesh and blood and should not live our lives in a constant state of otherworldliness but should enjoy the pleasures of the senses of sight and smell, of hearing, taste and touch and in doing so give thanks to the Divine essence for allowing us this experience.'

From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Element of Water


'Water is in us and around us. We physically comprise of up to 70% water, whilst two thirds of the earth's surface is covered in this miraculous substance. W cannot live more than a few days without it and yet most of us do not avail ourselves of this magical liquid. Water heals and purifies, cleanses and soothes. Cared for by the elemental ondines, our oceans and rivers house a myriad of fish and mooluscs, plants and mammals, from the microscopic to the largest in the world. Beautiful clouds form from the oceanic waters and the falling rains quench our thirst. In our inner world water symbolises our emotions, whether calm and peaceful or turbulent and chaotic. This element enables us to feel on many levels, from empathising with others to experiencing the wonder of love and the bitter depths of despair.'

From Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements by Carole Carlton

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Element of Fire


'Fire is housed within the sun, without which the earth would not be able to sustain life in its present form. It manifests in erupting volcanoes, in lightning strikes and is necessary in order for a rainbow to be seen. It is the abode of the elemental salamander and brings us the comfort of the domestic fire and the flicker of the candle flame, bringing both warmth and light into our lives. We are warm blooded creatures and need fuel with which to produce energy and heat to survive, too little and we become weak and cold, too much and we can experience skin eruptions and fever. Inwardly and symbolically fire manifests as anger, passion, determination and intuition, encouraging us to blaze our own trail and set the world alight with the essence of who we are'

From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Element of Air

'Air is essential to life; it is our very breath, it gives us space in which to move, it is the wind that kisses our cheek, it is Nike; the winged Goddess of Victory, it is the abode of the bird, the bee, the moth and the bat. It carries words of love, songs of joy and the sounds of nature. It brings us light from the sun and the first smell of sumer, whilst in the depths of our subconscious it symbolises the realm of thought, inspiration and imaginings. It is purified by the sylph elementals and carries the seeds of our dearest hopes and wildest dreams.'

From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' by Carole Carlton. See http://www.arcanus.co.uk/ for more details.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Exploring the Elements

Over the next few weeks my blogs will explore the four elements of air, fire, water and earth without which, life here on earth would not survive in its presernt form.
Each element has, throughout the ages become associated with Gods , Goddesses, elementals, legendary creatures, life, death, astrology, magic, alchemy and the psyche all of which offer a rich tapestry to unravel and explore.

Tread Softly

Sail lightly on the wind my love
Sail lightly on the wind
For here the Goddess breathes my love
Sail lightly on the wind
Dance wildly in the fire my love
Dance wildly in the fire
For here the Goddess lives my love
Dance wildly in the fire
Drink deeply of the lake my love
Drink deeply of the lake
For here the Goddess bathes my love
Drink deeply of the lake
Tread softly on the earth my love
Tread softly on the earth
For here the Goddess sleeps my love
Tread softly on the earth

From Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements by Carole Carlton available from Amazon or any good book shop

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Perseids Meteors & Harvest Moon


Today sees the birth of the new Moon in Leo, often referred to by the ancients as the 'harvest moon' so called because this was the time of the harvesting of the first fruits and the gathering of the grain.

It was also a time for practising magic, especially that which would protect throughout the dark months to come. Coupled with this was the gaining of wisdom and knowledge usually by some means of divination. Healing too was practised in order that the tribe and their animals would journey into the dark time in as healthy state as possible.

The new moon however is not the only event taking place in the heavens this week, for between the 12th and 14th August the Perseids Meteor Shower peaks and on a clear night we can expect to see approximately 60 meteors per hour shooting across the sky as long as there is little light pollution. It might be worth driving into the countryside for.

Enjoy the show!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Superstitions of the Corn

In Pagan times the spirit of the Corn God or Lugh was thought to be housed in the last sheaf of wheat left standing in the field and when cut the God's life would be sacrificed, spilling his symbollic blood upon the earth to ensure fertility in the year to come.
Understandably therefore plenty of superstition built up around the cutting of this final sheaf and the reaper responsible for throwing his sickle at it was seen as taking the life of the deity. To avoid this somewhat inauspicious task, the Irish Celts came up with a solution which involved everyone standing around the sheaf blindfolded in a semi circle and hurling their sickles at the wheat. In this way no one would know who was ultimately responsible for the Corn God's demise.
Once cut however, the last sheaf took on a more positive aspect and was taken home by one of the reapers where it was 'dressed' either with a simple red ribbon to represent the blood of the God, or fashioned far more elaborately into a person or shape which became known by a myriad of names according to the region. The name that stuck however was 'kern baby', from which derives the more popular name of 'corn dolly' and has since become a modern day symbol of fertility.
Enjoy this Lammas season and may the year ahead be a fertile and happy one!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Festival of Lughnasadh or Lammas


Today at sunset (1st Aug) the festival of Lughnasadh (its Celtic name) or the festival of Lammas (its Saxon name) begins and lasts until sunset on the 2nd.

The word Lughnasadh is thought to be named after the Irish Celtic God 'Lugh the Light Bearer' as the word actually means 'the funeral feast of Lugh'. This refers to the fact that the male principal or God in the continuing cycle of the Pagan wheel, lays down his life and spills his blood upon the corn in order that the earth's fertility will be assured over the coming year.

Lammas on the other hand comes from the Saxon word, 'hlaefmass', meaning loaf festival and refers to the fact that the Saxons made a loaf from the gathering of the first grains with which to celebrate the harvest of the first fruits and honour their Gods. With the coming of Christianity this name was adopted by the church. Much folklore and legend abounds with regards to the harvesting of the corn and this will be outlined in further blogs as the week progresses. Meanwhile it may be time to make our own personal sacrifices by perhaps giving up a bad habit, or making donations of goods or time to a needy charity. It is however a time for celebration also, for out of every ending new beginnings always spring and this one heralds future fertility and abundance. So this week, make a corn dolly, bake a loaf or simply invite family and friends to celebrate the good things we all have in our lives. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Delta Aquarid Meteors


Tonight is the Delta Aquarid Meteor shower, which at its peak will produce around 20 meteors per hour. Their speed will be moderate, giving you time to observe them as they will be bright yellow in colour. The only down side is that the moon is not too far off full and therefore its light will detract from the show somewhat.

The moon moves into Pisces today which means that this is an auspicious time for doing something good for those less fortunate, increasing your psychic abilities, exploring new spiritual paths and attempting to conquer any fears that hold you back.

Let's hope for clear skies and enjoy the show!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

St james Day and the Horn Fair


The 25th July marks the feast day of St James (brother of Jesus) and is also the Sussex Horn Fair, so called because one of the revellers wore a set of horns upon their head. The horns were thought to represent the Pagan Horned God often referred to as Cernunnos or Herne the hunter and were believed to bring luck and fertility to the wearer.

In Kent at the Charlton Horse Fair, (records of which date back to the 16th century) tell us that everyone who attended wore horns and ate rams horns made from sugar and gingerbread,

A similar festival takes place in Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire during September where a group of dancers all wear a set of antlers and dance their way around the whole village stopping at every inn on the way. This is a ritual that dates back at least 1000 years and is said to bring luck to everyone in the village who sees the dancers.

Regardless of whether you have access to a set of horns, this is a great excuse for a summer get together to celebrate the gift of male energy before it begins to diminish at the festival of Lammas early in August.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Taking a Risk


Just a few weeks before my Mum's death, in a rare moment of lucidity, she grabbed my hand and told me to take a risk. She said that during her life, whenever risk presented itself she had side stepped it. She said the first time she wasn't brave enough and the second time it was too late. I asked her in what way she would have liked to have taken a risk, but the moment of lucidity was gone and the secret of her obvious heartfelt longing was something she took with her on her continuing soul journey.

Her words however have echoed through my mind on many occasions since and I often think this was her parting gift to me. As a consequence I have tried to be braver in my attitude to life as a whole.

As Simone Weil said: 'The human soul has need of security and of risk. The boredom produced by a complete absence of risk is also a sickness of the soul.'

So take a risk, be brave and who knows what miracles might happen in your life.

Friday, 16 July 2010

First Quarter Moon in Libra


The Wort Moon approaches her First Quarter phase and is half in darkness half in light. As such she is perfectly balanced between the poles of opposites, a time for bringing harmony into your life on all levels. If there have been arguments, hold out the olive branch or if your time has been consumed by too much work, take a day off.

For the next week the Moon gains in light and brings impetus to everything planned at the time of the New Moon. It's time to make the phone call, or write the email you promised, it's time to complete the job application form or to ask that special someone out. Seize the moment, live for today and move your life forward.

This afternoon the Moon moves into the sign of Libra, again the sign of balance in the zodiac. It is time to concentrate on partnerships, justice, peace and love in your magical practices.

May the waxing gibbous moon shine its light on everything you do.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Mid-Summer Flowers


Flowers of all types abound at this time of year bringing colour, insects and aroma into our world. The classic summer flower however and one that is precious to many religions including Christianity and Islam is the rose, although they were revered long before either of these belief paths came into being.

Roses were sacred to the Roaman Goddess Venus and have been assocoiated with love for thousands of years. It was said that Cleopatra first made love to Mark Anthony on a bed covered one inch deep in rose petals and these fragrant petals have been scattered at wedding ceremonies for centuries.

Much legend abounds around the colour of roses and a Mediterranean legend tells of how the red and white rose came to be. The tale introduces a virgin who was falsely accused of a sexual deed and sentenced to burn. Her prayers however were so fervent that they quenched the flames at which point the unburned wood turned into white roses, whilst the charred wood became red roses.

In the 12th century the Virgin Mary was said to appear to St Dominic where she gave him the first rosary beads and each one was scented with the perfume of roses.

Growing roses in your garden are said to attract the fairies, whilst making a necklace of rose hips is said to attract love to the wearer.

If you don't have roses in your garden treat yourself to a bottle of rose essential oil and let its sweet aroma perfume your home this summer.

Friday, 9 July 2010

New Moon and Solar Ecipse


Tomorrow (10th July) heralds two important events. The first is a total solar eclipse at 20.32 and although it will only be visible in the Southern Pacific, Easter Island and parts of South America, its effects will still be felt around the world.

Eclipses are often seen as harbingers of doom and gloom, however this one indicates a time of opportunity, realisation and an awakening to economic, environmental and humanitarian issues.

The New Moon at 20.40 is in the sign of Cancer which encourages us to enjoy our homes and gardens; not too difficult a task at this time of year. It is a time for family get togethers in order to enjoy the pleasures of eating, socialising, talking and listening to each other.

The July moon was known by the Celts as the 'Wort Moon'. Wort was an infusion of ground malt and was combined with yeast to make beer. It was only made at this time of year as the summer sun provided the warmth required for fermentation. Under the Wort Moon movements of the heavens were noted and predictions made.

Lady of the Moon,
Keeper of Secrets,
In many guises,
Through many lifetimes
Have I drunk of your infinite beauty.

I lift my eyes to meet your gaze,
And see life reflected
Through the timeless mirror
Of your cyclic dance.

(From 'Keeper of Secrets' : Mrs Darley's Moon Mysteries)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements


My new book is out this week entitled 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements'. It explores the four elements of air, fire, water and earth and takes what can only be described as a glimpse of what the fifth element or spirit can mean, for each of us have our own opinion of what spirit means to us.

Each chapter explores one of the elements which are vital to life upon this earth and offers what I hope are interesting facts about the world we are priviledged to live in. The atmosphere, the oceans, volcanoes and earth quakes are all investigated and their connection to the Gods of old, the mythical creatures that have become associated with them over millennia and their use, both physical and symbolic in alchemy and magic.

Mrs Darley of course is present in greater quantity than in previous books and, as usual, stops to make us think differently about aspects of the world in which we live whilst offering me plenty of insight as the book progresses. The following is a quote to hopefully whet your appetite:

'Here,' she said, 'lies a place where the Goddess dwells, where earth meets with water and yields to its power where religions fuse yet the old ways prevail. Here is a place where reason meets with magic yet magic defies all reason....'

I hope you enjoy it and that it fills your world with enchantments.


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Mid-summer Fires


Last Wednesday on Mid-summer's Eve we went to Kit Hill, just East of Callington in Cornwall to watch the Cornish ceremony of the mid-summer fires.

Once at the top of the hill, which in part is an Iron Age burial mound, we were treated to 360 degree views of stunning scenery with Bodmin Moor to the West, Dartmoor to the East and the Tamar Estury to the South.

Many people had make the long trek up the hill (although there was a mini bus available) and were treated to an eclectic group of musicians whilst waiting for the ceremony to begin. At last the Master of ceremonies began his speech as the fire was lit, albeit the words have been Christianised (no doubt in times past our ancestors would have made reference to the Old Gods) and was said first in Cornish and then in English.

'According to the custom of our forefathers in days of old, behold us making our mid-summer bonfire this night in the middle of summer. Now set the pyre, at once on fire, let flame aspire in God's high name.'

The Lady of the Flowers Replies:

'In one bunch together bound flowers for burning here are found, both good and ill thousandfold let good seed spring, wicked seeds fast withering. Let this fire kill!'

TheMaster of Ceremonies then has the last word:

'Now cast the flowers!'

At this point the flowers were thrown into the fire. This was followed by several rousing Cornish songs and the evening was finally rounded off by fire twirlers, whose display looked stunning in the growing darkness as it was eleven o clock by this time.

We decided against taking the mini bus down the hill and walked the half mile or so under a waxing gibbous moon which gently lit our path and the countryside below.

It was lovely to take part in something which united the small Cornish community in which it was held but more than that, it was the feeling that we were reaching out and touching the hands of the ancestors as millennia melted away.

Monday, 28 June 2010

A Cornish Summer Solstice


To watch the Summer Solstice sunrise in Cornwall was magical. We arose at 4.15 and drove up to the Hurlers stone circles at Minions on Bodmin Moor, a sacred place that stands on the St Michael ley line, on what was a cold but beautiful dawn.

Over the next half an hour 21 people gradually arrived and stood in silence at various points around the centre circle of stones. Everyone was lost in their own world as all eyes were fixed on the eastern horizon; waiting.

The sky changed rapidly from pale blue topaz to pinks and lavender before finally releasing the sun in a burst of golden light. The longest day in the northern hemisphere had finally begun.

The day was beautiful and as the sun finally began His descent we made our way back up onto the moor where we watched the sun go down over long Tom, a standing stone just south of Minions. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Midsummer Fires and St John the Baptist


Midsummer (24th June) was a time of ritualistic fires and their purpose was many fold. They celebrated the power of the sun, they invited good luck and fertility into the community and were also a means of protection from unseen forces, pestilence and disease, benefitting both animals and humans alike.

When Christianity came to these islands, the celebration of midsummer was, like the majority of Pagan festivals Christianised and became the feast of St John the Baptist albeit the link is somewhat tenuous! The powers that held sway in the church said that the midsummer fires would now be lit in honour of St John to help people remember that his bones were burned by the Emperor Julian.

In the 14th century a Shropshire monk wrote of 3 different types of fire that were lit on St John's Eve (23rd June)

  1. A Bone Fire: Made of clean bones and no wood and was thought to keep dragons at bay due to the smell. This is where we get our word 'bonfire from although hopefully there are no bones present!

  2. A Wake Fire: Made of clean wood and no bones used to socialise or 'wake' by.

  3. A St John's Fire: Made of clean wood and bones. St John is often pronounced 'sin-jon' which perhaps provides us with the origins of the word 'singe'

Today few midsummer fires remain although the Old Cornwall Society resurrected the custom of lighting fires across the tors of Cornwall back in the 1920's and thankfully it still continues today. I will be there next week and, next Wednesday just as dusk descends, I will raise a glass to the old ones. (Read more in 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers)

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Summer Solstice


Monday 21st of June at 12.28 marks the joyous occasion of the Summer Solstice, when the sun reaches the height of His power, showering the feminine earth with warmth in order that She might bring forth an abundant harvest.

Summer Solstice celebrations have their roots in Neolithic times, the importance of which is borne out by archaeological evidence of stone circles and tombs that are aligned to both the rising and setting of the sun at this powerful time of year.

The word 'solstice' simply means, 'the standing still of the sun' and, for a few days both at this time of year and around the winter solstice the sun does appear to remain stationary for a few days before a decrease in daylight becomes apparent.

The following is a poem which can be found in the summer solstice chapter of 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers' and which (with slight amendments), we attached to the floral wreath at my Mum's funeral earlier this year.

Fragrant rose,
Whose breath of scented laughter
Nourishes my soul
Whisper to me
That I may remember you
When the cold hand of winter touches my heart.


Friday, 11 June 2010

New Moon


A new moon is born today at 12.14pm in the sign of Gemini, although it will not be visible in the sky until tomorrow evening. A new moon always offers us a chance to begin again, to start new projects to reinstate the diet, the exercise regime or impliment a new way of being.

The new moon is akin to the maiden and as such provides us with the perfect excuse to be frivolous and care free, regardless of our age, before the responsibilites of the mother moon begin to take hold. Traditionally the new moon is beneficial for:

  • Beginning building projects

  • Moving to a new home

  • Getting married

  • Making investments

  • Cutting hair and nails

  • Cutting healing herbs

  • Exercising

Whenever you see the new crescent for the first time you should turn over any silver coins you have in your pocket and hopefully they will double in value before the month is out. It is also considered good etiquette to bow to the new moon so as not to upset her, a practice that Robert Graves the author always adhered to, albeit he multiplied it by nine, much to the embarrassment of his children.

May your dreams bloom and flourish under the new June moon! (Information taken from Mrs Darley's Moon Mysteries)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements


My third book in the Mrs Darley series is out on the 6th July, entitled 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements', a description of which is given below:

'If you have ever entered into a raging sea, warmed your hands by a mid-winter fire, planted fragile seedlings in the rich, dark, earth or balanced precariously on the edge of the wind, then you will understand the magical power of the elements that bless our natural world. To have an understanding of the four classic elements of air, fire, water and earth is to have an appreciation of what is necessary in order to survive on our beautiful planet. To have an understanding of the mysterious fifth elements of ether or Divine Spirit is to have an understanding of the sanctity of life. This book is a celebration through poetry and prose of these sacred elements and the way in which they shape our lives. Throughout the book the wise Mrs Darley and a selection of her intriguing friends share their knowledge and often unworldly experiences with the author as she continues to journey along her own spiritual path'.
The book can be pre ordered from Amazon details are as follows:
Title: Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements
Author: Carole Carlton
Publisher: Mirage Publishing
ISBN: 1902578651
Price: £8.99

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Bees: Health and History


Bees have been revered for at least 8,000 years, as evidenced in cave paintings and a carved gold plaque from Rhodes which now resides in the British museum.

The Myceaneans were so appreciative of the bee that they fashioned their tombs in the shape of a hive and the Priestesses who attended the Goddess Potnia who they referred to as 'The Pure Mother Bee' were all called Melissa, the Greek word for bee.

In Homer Hymn to Apollo we told that the 'Thriae', a trinity of Agean Bee Goddesses, gave Apollo the gift of prophesy, whilst both Achillies and Pythagorus were said to have acquired their gifts of eloquence from being fed on honey as children.

For humankind the benefits of bee products are manyfold:
  • Honey

A vitamin packed boost of energy and because it is much sweeter than sugar you won't need as much to sweeten your food. An excellent expectorant.

  • Bee Propolis

This is mainly gathered from tree resin and mixed with bee secretions that gives a gluey mixture which is excellent for wounds, rashes, cold sores, blisters and all round healer.

  • Bee Pollen

Provides all the essential nutrients for a healthy immune system

  • Royal Jelly

This is a concentrated superfood that is fed to the potential queens of the hives and helps with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), skin, hair, nails, hormonal balance, sexual disorders, cardiovascular health, diabetes, blood pressure problems, asthma, hayfever and depressive disorders.

Mrs Darley, the title character in the Mrs Darley series of books always championed the bee and each year at the summer solstice, we would all eat honeyed toast after drumming up the sun at dawn. She would tell us that we should spare a moment's thought for this amazing creature of air, who provides us with such natural treasures.

Read more about the bee in 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers' and 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Elements' (out 6th July- pre order at Amazon)



Thursday, 3 June 2010

Honey Bees


The plight of the honey bee in Britain is dire. The lack of clover fields and hawthorn hedges, the virulence of the varroa mite in hives and the mysterious 'Colony Collapse Disorder' (CCD) where some bees mysteriously leave the hive never to return and those that remain are overcome by fungal and viral infections are all serious contributors to the reduction of honey bee numbers. But why is this so important?

Einstein allegedly said: 'If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have 4 years of life left. No bees, no pollination, no plants, no animals, no man.'

Scientists have since said that this is rather an extreme view, nevertheless it highlights just how important honey bees are. An average hive houses around 50,000 bees that pollinate some 500,000 plants per day. For this to be done manually would be far from cost effective and almost impossible to achieve. In 2007 the government worked out the value of bees to the UK economy to be £200 million, whilst their retail value was estimated to be closer to £1 billion.

We can each do our bit however to encourage the bee population:

  • Grow bee friendly plants such as alliums (onion family) flowering herbs, beans, sunflowers, foxgloves, hollyocks

  • Look into bee keeping yourself or contact your local bee keepers assocaition and allow a bee keeper to keep a hive on your land.

  • Buy local honey

In the next blog discover the history myth and legend of bees, the health properties of bee products and what Mrs Darley has to say about them in the latest 'Mrs Darley' book out soon.





Tuesday, 1 June 2010

June Marriages


The month of May has never boded well for marriages but where exactly did this superstition come from? In ancient times it was considered unlucky to marry in May, as this was the month of the Goddess and any man who married during this time would fall prey to the lust and power of a woman! For the Romans May saw the festival of Lemuralia at which sacrifices were made to purge the home of hostile spirits, hence marriages were not considered appropriate. With the arrival of Christianity May was seen as the month of the Virgin Mary, a time associated with chastity and purity, therefore again not approriate for marriage.

On the 1st June however all of May's restrictions were lifted and at one time this became the most popular month for weddings. The full moon in June (which falls on 26th this year) is usually rich in colour and was known as the 'honey moon', hence the term following a marriage became known as a honeymoon.

If you have a wedding or civil ceremony this month, may the Goddess bless your union.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Return of the King


350 years ago on 29th May 1660, Charles 11 returned triumphant to the British throne and with him came many of the old traditions that had been previously banned by the Puritans under the rule of Cromwell.

To celebrate his reinstatement Maypoles were erected accompanied by much merriment including dancing and bawdy songs, in fact much of what we now associate with May Day was carried out at the end rather than the beginning of the month, however the occasion was known as 'Oak Apple Day'.

It became traditional to wear an oak leaf in honour of the fact that when Charles escaped his enemies some 11 years earlier on his way to France, he hid in various oak trees throughout England. This image of the King surrounded by oak leaves became an acceptable form of the Green Man and many pubs were named either, 'The Green Man' or The Black Boy' (as Charles had a dusky complexion) in honour of his reinstatement.

In some parts of the country the day was called 'Oak Apple and Nettle day' for anyone who refused to wear the oak leaf was painfully beaten with nettles. Young men would climb the steeples of churches and hang up boughs of oak , whilst horses harnesses were decorated with oak. In the 1900's railway engines were also decorated and the tradition only died out with the coming of the Second World War.

Perhaps this is something we could begin to reinstate in honour of Charles bringing back traditions which otherwise would be lost. Happy Oak Apple Day!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Reiki Path


Reiki is a safe, gentle, non-invasive healing technique for use on both the self and others. It utilises universal life force energy to bring about healing on the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual levels of being. It is however much more than just a healing tool and can be used to encourage and can be used to encourage both personal and spiritual awareness and growth. In the words of Frank Arjava Petter from his book, 'Reiki: The Legacy of Dr Usui':

'Reiki is a method of self realisation, a path to the light, to God or to one's self and this is probably the most attractive thing about the reiki path. Reiki fulfills the longing for a non-dogmatic method of further developing ourselves which is compatable with our personal philosophy of life or religion. Reiki requires no previous knowledge of philosophy, religion, medicine or the like and can be used by any person of any age'

For details of courses in all levels of Reiki please see http://www.arcanus.co.uk/

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Waxing Gibbous Moon


The Moon is now between its first quarter and full, and is said to be in its 'Gibbous' phase, which derives from the Latin word 'gibbosus' meaning, 'humpbacked' and describes rather aptly its odd shape as it moves towards the full orb. The Moon appears in the sky during the afternoon and sets early in the morning.

The Gibbous Moon exudes confidence as She stamps her independence on the night sky and calls us to mirror her example. She calls us to move forward, to take action and strive ever toward our dreams. She wills us to make that phone call, fill in the job application form, ask friends around to dinner and shouts, 'carpe diem' or 'seize the day', just live for the moment for that is all there is.

The warrior Goddess Artemis captures the essence of the gibbous moon for she knows what she wants and sets out to achieve her goals. She is old enough to benefit from being self assured yet still maintains the impetuosity of youth. Call upon her when self assurance is required or when you need to stand on your own two feet.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Cup that Revives


Tea, is one of the most popular drinks in the UK and approximately 2,000 cups are consumed annually by the average person. It is the drink we turn to when we need to be uplifted, relaxed or deal with a crisis and most teas have beneficial health properties as long as they are not smothered with copious amounts of milk and sugar.

Black leafed tea (PG tips/Tetley/Typhoo etc) however does contain high levels of caffeine which can make the drink somewhat stimulating, this is great during the day but not too good at night. By contrast green leafed tea contains far less caffeine which makes it a preferable night time drink and has a host of health benefits that connot be ignored. According to research carried out by the Japanese Cancer Research Institute, regular daily consumption of green tea could halt the growth of 87% of skin cancers, 58% of stomach cancers and 56% of lung cancers.

Many people however find green tea a little harsh but this can be combated by drinking one of the many flavoured green teas such as jasmine, alternatively white leafed tea might be more to your taste and it's low in caffeine, although the health benefits are not quite as good as the green variety. You can of course brew your own, especially as many herbs and flowers are now coming into bloom in British gardens. Try the following recipie for a citrusy spicy alternative:

2 Teaspoons loose Green Tea leaves (Gunpowder variety is good but any will do)
Approx 12 leaves lemon balm
3 Cloves

Place tea, lemon balm leaves and cloves in a tea pot and pour on water that has just gone off the boil. Stir and allow to infuse for 5 minutes before pouring.

Lemon balm is gently sedative and yet uplifts, a wonderful herb if you are under stress.It calms palpatations, soothes digestion and is antiviral, whilst the warming spice of clove helps ease pain and fights infection, these combined with the properties of green tea will shine a different light on the cup that revives!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Old Festival of Beltane


Before the introduction of the Gregorian calander in 1752 there were 11 extra days in the year, which made the old fertility festival of Beltane appear on the 12th May rather than the 1st as we know it today. When the calander reforms took place there were riots in the streets, especially in Bristol where people considered themselves deprived of 11 days of life!

As this is the closest weekend to that date and it is also the time of the new moon in Taurus, the sign of sexuality, earthiness and sensual pursuits, perhaps it is time to make this weekend one of sharing if you are with a partner, or one of self indulgence if you are spending it alone.

Whatever you do, it gives us an opportunity for a second celebration of a festival that is fun, indulgent and loving. Enjoy!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Trusting Yourself


How a lack of understanding can deny people access to the wonderful gifts of the universe is often quite a sad state of affairs. Listening to others who think they know best, assumption, fear, and close mindedness are probably four reasons that prevent many of us from enjoying the many pleasures that life has to offer.

This week someone said that although they have now changed their opinion of Reiki healing through their own investigations they had, initially, avoided accepting a treatment because someone had told them that it would not be good for cancer sufferers due to the fact that it would spread the cancer cells around the body.

How sad that this rogue opinion could have stopped someone less determined from enjoying the benefits Reiki has to offer. This is a classic example of taking responsibility for your own health and your own path because the only person who knows what's right for you is you!