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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

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.