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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I’ve not posted a blog for a while, as I’ve been on a deep retreat with the land, and finishing my latest book- more on that soon. But I wanted to share what I think is one of the most important things to connect with on the Celtic path at this time of the year- the plant Vervain, verbena officianalis.  Vervain is one of the few plants we know the ancient druids venerated, as the Roman writer Pliny recorded how in the height of summer, just before dawn, the druids gathered Vervain, as Sirius the dog star rose in the sky. Vervain was so sacred that they would give the earth an offering of honey for its loss, and would gather the herb with their left hand, after drawing a circle of iron around the plant to disconnect it from the land. When they had gathered it, they would hold it up to the star to be infused with its energy, without the direct light of the moon or sun touching it.

Vervain is an herbaceous perennial, that grows about 2-3 feet tall, with toothed, rough textured leaves, a woody stalk, and in the summer it has small, pale purplish flowers. It’s relatively easy to grow from seed, and is happy in most positions, so long as it doesn’t dry out completely. Vervain can be hard to find for some, but is easily bought on line and once you grow some it self-seeds easily.  Yet this simple, modest little plant is possibly the most magical and powerful ally in the witches garden.       

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Snakestones, Hagstones and a Witch Burning

 

Holey stones are part of a long magical curative tradition in the UK. Different regions of the UK used the stones for different uses, throughout the country holey stones are known as hagstones, witch stones, snake stones, Druids stones and mare stones to name a few. These stones were used to curing eye issues curing diseases in cattle, protecting horses from night-hags and preventing nightmares and to help children through teething (which in the 1700-1800's in Glasgow, Scotland was the cause of a considerable infant mortality).

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
A Council of Crones

Even wise women need wise women. Life likes to mix things up. Including messages. People are complex critters. If only they could be as straightforward as taming feral cats! To navigate life I have my council of crones.

I am that most fortunate of women who has collected and maintained connections with smart, savvy, talentd, empathic and compassionate women who are scattered across many continents. They come from varied life and professional experience.  Not all have grey hair yet. But what they share is the wisdom of the cailleach. Each has been to the brink, eyeballed the abyss, didn't blink, and come back to tell the tale.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Just in perfect timing for Bealtaine cross-quarter day, on our bank holiday weekend here in Ireland, the hawthorn blossomed in all its blushing beauty. I was over at Newgrange for Wise Woman Ireland Weekend. Walking along the lane that leads to the Brú, the air was heady and heavy with the blossom's scent.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Newgrange.jpg

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Croning ceremonies are a relatively new feature. As a mostly solitary spiritual practitioner, public ceremony is not my first choice for expressing momentous passages.  But 2016 pushed me out of my comfort zone. We had a wedding, a Big Fat Irish one that the Husband in Training had always wanted and which I had demurred. But having survived the wedding, I felt that I could do a croning ceremony via wifi and the World Wide Web okay. Apparently, 2016 was my year for rites of passage.  Like weddings, these things take a good deal of thought and intention to be pushed into them beforehand.

I already had a crown. Actually, when I turned fifty I thought I was 'ready.' I was not. I did not have an early post-menopause and the peri- phase lasted for the best part of decade. By the time I turned 50, I was in full flush. An Irish friend who now lives in Asheville, North Carolina, made this crown with loving intent. It includes Brighid's eternal flame and the phases of the moon. There are pearls of wisdom and turquoise to express it. It ties on with a tartan ribbon, a nod to the Celtic connection, but is also a deep royal blue, fit for a crone's crown. (Thank you, Liz for your artistry and spiritual intention. It was perfect when the time came!)

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Spring Transformation Magic

 

We are living in a time of transformation. Here we are with winter quickly turning into spring, and while a lot of the human world right now may seem less than positive there is always the opportunity to empower ourselves and use the magic of nature, if She’s willing, to help us and help others find ways to make it through, and even make it better.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The equinoxes have been marked across the British Isles since the earliest times as agricultural markers, revealing the times of seed sowing and crop reaping as well as honouring the patterns of growth and decrease in our lives. In Ireland the Neolithic burial complex at Loughcrew known as Sliabh na Callighe of  'the hills of the veiled one' contains many astronomical alignments, and the interior of one of its structures, known as Cairn T is illuminated by the equinox sunrise, revealing spectacular designs carved into the rock over five thousand of years ago.  Archaeology reveals that Loughcrew has been a place of ritual and ceremony at the equinoxes for much of that time, a tradition that has been revived enthusiastically in the modern era, the footsteps of the pilgrims today walking the same paths as the ancestors thousands of years ago.

Another lesser known ancient place aligned to the equinoxes is West Kennet Longbarrow, part of the Avebury sacred complex, now a UNESCO world heritage site. I've spent many a night here, in communion with the ancestors, and to me this is a place where the barrow forms a recumbent goddess, receiving the spirits of the dead to return their spirits to life in the spring. 

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