Monday, 21 December 2020

Happy Winter Solstice

 Happy Winter Solstice!

    Today is the last posting date for first class UK mail, and traditionally when we have taken our mail to the Post Office today, then our Mid-Winter holiday starts!

    Graham decided to mark the occasion by buying us some magazines while he was in the Post Office come general stores, and has just presented me with a pile of magazines. He is presumably working on the premise that if he bought a few, there was bound to be something in there I like.

    So the choice I have is: Woman's Weekly - not seen that for years, that used to be one of my mum's favourites.

    Prima - because it has a Free Puzzle Magazine included - this is not one I've every looked at before, so should be interesting.

    Yorkshire Life: now this one looks the type of magazine you need to read at a table, cos it is sooooo heavy. But it also has a Free Calendar included (you might be able to see the way Graham's brain works - free = GOOD!)

    And finally Country Smallholding ........   nope, me either.

    I suppose I should think myself lucky that he didn't get 'Practical Woodworker', or a muscle building magazine. So if you want compact trailer with a custom UTV cage, or an electronic chicken door, or a packet of Layer's Pellets, this is the place to look - actually after a quick flick through, this might be a decent read!

    If I don't post again before, we hope you have a restful and stress-free celebration, and a much happier and healthier 2021!



Saturday, 5 December 2020

Leprechaun

 I get the strangest requests from our customers and one of the most recent was 'Can you make me a leprechaun?' there was a pause while I thought about it.

    December is one of our busiest times of the year, when we have to concentrate on getting out as many orders as possible as quickly as possible, and so right now was not the best time to be making a 'one off'. Especially one I would have to research and had never made anything like it before.

    As I hesitated, the chap continued 'I don't mind what it is made out of. I know you like these little challenges.'

    Meanwhile Graham had realised what was going on and was hissing at me 'Say no! We are too busy!'

    So I compromised (ish) and said that I would make one, but I couldn't guarantee he would get it before christmas.

    Anyway, I had a look on the internet at leprechauns which could be crocheted, and decided that the patterns were either too complicated, or too pared back, or too big. I wanted something simplish and not too big. So the only thing I could do was have a go at it.

    I decided the head would be the awkward bit, as I needed it to be small but round, and it would really determine how big the body would have to be.

    I must admit I had several goes at this, and they ended up huge, the size of a tennis ball, or weird shaped - I had one that looked like a rugby ball and would have made a good 'alien' head. Eventually. after much pulling back and starting again, I managed to get a head the shape and size I wanted (I even managed to give it a bit of a neck, which I was quite proud of).

    Once I'd got the head made, I started on the body. The chest and arms were two 'T' shapes which I joined together. The legs were a bit more complicated again, as I wanted to make them in one piece, but with a bit of thought, and some more pulling back, I ended up with a pair of legs I was happy with.

    I stuffed all the pieces and joined them together, then had a think about finishing it off.

    According to some accounts leprechauns have red hair and beards, so mine had to have that, but I decided he would be a bit unkempt and wild looking. I also gave him some eyes. Then decided to have a go at making him a sort of top hat, with a buckled band, and finally a belt with a buckle too.

    The very last bit I did was giving him some hands, peeping out of the ends of his sleeves.



    I am quite pleased with the result.

    I think he is about 8" tall in total (20cm).




Sunday, 29 November 2020

How Does This Mail Order Thing Work Then?

 Now that was a question which floored me.

    'How does this Mail Order thing work then?'

    For me 'Mail Order' was something that was always around. When I was young, you could get ENORMOUS mail order catalogues from various companies. They sold everything from clothes to toys, household furnishings to musical instruments, record players to hampers. 

    When we started Raven there was no such thing as the internet, and we knew that our market was both niche and specialist, not something that everyone who lived in our area would be likely to be interested in. We knew that our customers were going to be dotted about all over the country, and the only way to reach them was through offering a Mail Order Service.

    So we started off making the Raven Catalogue. At first it was maybe half a dozen pages, printed out from our Amstrad computer, on a dot matrix printer. There was no way you could have pictures, so everything had to be described.

    Gradually we invested in better printers, does anyone remember the Gestetner printers? A huge beast of thing which you had to create stensils for and printed using big tubes of black printers ink. Then we got a photocopier! Yay! Pictures were in!

    Actually I tend to still draw pictures of our products as I feel people can actually get a clearer idea of details with a line drawing.

    Anyway, sorry got distracted there. So how does this Mail Order thing work then?

    It is a very simple thing. You ask us for a copy of our catalogue, and you will be sent, through the post, a set of catalogues. Our catalogue is divided into sections, to make it easier for customers to find what they are after, and to make it easier for us to update a section, rather than having to update the full thing. So you get: The Postal Bookshop - mainly our own books on a variety of magical subjects, written and published by us, and largely unattainable elsewhere. The Earth Treasures section - all gemstones and crystals, together with an index of magical and healing uses, so you can pick which gems are the ones you need. The Incense section, joss sticks, incense cones, natural resins, together with burners and containers. Magical Oils section, all of the oils/perfumes listed are hand made individually for each customer when they are ordered, ensuring the freshest and most individual products you can have. And the Main Catalogue which has all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff in it, divination sets, Witch Bottles, talismans, charms, jewellery, decorations for home and magical space, anything that we come across. A lot of the stuff we sell is made by specialist makers, and very often is exclusive to Raven.

    Once you have the catalogue, you sit down with a cup of coffee, tea or the beverage of your preference, and have a good read through. If you come across anything you fancy, you write it down on the Order Form (remembering to put your name and address at the top - please!) then send the Order Form with a cheque, postal order, or cash, through the post (Mail) to Raven at the address printed on all the catalogues and on the Order Form too. Yes we do take Credit/Debit cards so you can send us your card details if you prefer. Oh and if you lose your Order Form, no problem just write what you want on any piece of paper, as long as I can decipher it, all is well.

    You can also just give me a ring (01482 632512) with your list and card details, and I will take your order over the phone. I can also let you know whether items are in stock or have sold out, and sometimes recommend an alternative.

    Even if you are going to send in your order form to us, you can ring up and speak to me to reserve items for you, so that you know you will get the things you are after.

    We also send out irregular Newsletters and special catalogues of all sorts of limited availability stuff to anyone on our Mailing List. In our Newsletter, we try to keep everyone as up to date a possible with what is going on at Raven, and also include articles on magical topics, poetry, 'Dates for Your Diary' and even have a free section for people to put in personal adverts for pen pals or magical contacts.

    There are an awful lot of people out there who do not have access to the Internet. Or who do not trust the security of on-line sites, or who simply can't order online, or really do not want to. Incidentally when we first set up our page on Facebook, we could put ourselves down as 'Mail Order Company' a few years later Facebook scrapped this category, so we had to choose something else, which is why we are labelled a 'Bookshop' which is only a small part of what we do.

    We have been in business, doing what we do for over THIRTY years now. Our customers trust us, some of them have been with us from the beginning, and a lot of them have become friends over the years too, which is lovely.

    So how does this Mail Order thing work then? 

    Well, for us and our customers, the answer is - nicely, thank you.


Friday, 20 November 2020

 I know you must have been worried that there had been no mention of crochet for a little while.

    But fret no more - because yes, I have been crocheting, but I am working on a big, complicated and dense piece of freeform crochet.

    I decided I wanted to make something very three dimensional, but flat. So I decided on making a garden.The flowers vary from very small to huge and from flat shapes through to very pointy and roundy shapes. The 'grass' I decided would be all shades of green, but I would create it through spiral shapes.

    This is quite heavy to work on in one piece, so I make sections then join them together. The unifying shapes will be the green spirals, but I am having great fun with it. It is not going to be a square, oblong or any particular shape, just however the mood takes me. 

    I am enjoying the different shapes and colours, forms and textures. The piece so far incorporates sewing, crochet, applique, weaving and darning. There is even a Green Man festooned and hidden with leaves and acorns. The piece is nowhere near finished yet, but I am so chuffed with it so far, I wanted to show you where I am up to.


This is a small section I have just got ready for adding in





You might be able to spot the Green Man in the bottom photo, but he is well disguised.

    You can tell from all the random loose threads, this is far from finished, but I will keep you posted with how it progresses. 







Saturday, 31 October 2020

A Virtual Hallowe'en

 This year, we all know, has been very different to normal, and Hallowe'en will also be different this year.

    Because of Lock Down and social distancing, many covens and other groups have been unable to get together for rituals or any other kinds of meetings. And there are also a lot of solitary practitioners who always do their spells and rituals on their own.

    I was thinking about this, and about the many traditions of Witches and Gods and Goddesses flying across the sky to attend their meetings. This is also spoken about by Issobell Gowdie in her 'Confessions':

    'We will fly like strawes when we please; grass straws and corne-straws will be horses to us, and we put them between our feet, and say, 'Horse and Hattock, in the Divells name!' And then we would fly away, where we would ...'

    I have always loved certain pieces of music which have a magical aura to them and for me the one which gives the best feeling of a flying conglomerations of Witches is 'Night on a Bare Mountain' by Mussorgsky which was composed to give the feeling of flying to and attending a Witches meeting.

    But there are other pieces which you might find more appropriate for your kind of magic e.g. 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' by Ducas, 'Saturn' or 'Uranus' from 'The Planets Suite' by Gustav Holst, or even 'The Ride of the Valkyries' by Wagner.

    These days you can do a quick search on the Internet to listen to these pieces and many more, and select which suits you best. Whichever you choose can then be used in a Temple Sleep ritual to be transported to your chosen type of magical meeting.

    You can do this type of ritual in your sacred area, or simply in your bed.

    Bear in mind this is called Temple Sleep, so falling asleep is to be expected, so make yourself as comfortable as possible.

    If you use candles or incense, again bearing in mind that you may well fall asleep, so be very sure that these are safe and can cause no accidental damage.

    First cast your circle around your ritual area, or around your bed.

    This does not have to be elaborate and can be done in your head. Just imagine yourself surrounded by a glowing blue circle, or even a blue bubble.

    Then play your selected music. It can be any which gives you a feeling of floating or flying. And as you listen to it, imagine yourself flying over the countryside, heading towards a great magical meeting.

    You may wish to see yourself as a classical Witch, robed or naked, riding on a broomstick, or on the back of a goat. Or shapeshifted into a swan or goose.

    You may be flying alone, or there may be many others with you, some you can make out, but others are just vague shapes in the darkness.

    You can continue your flight as long as you like.

    you might enjoy watching the scenery passing beneath you, or the shapes of the clouds and the bright Hunter's Moon above you. It might be a clear and beautiful night, or there might be stormy winds and driving rain, which is not cold, but merely exciting. You might even hear loud crashes of thunder and see forked flashes of lightning.

    Your flight may well take on its own life and become something completely different from what you had imagined. Don't worry, don't be afraid, this is a fun night and you are going to meet friends in this world and from the worlds beyond.

    And all will be with the blessing of the Goddess and the God.




Monday, 5 October 2020

Spell to Deal With Corona Virus

 Now, I don't know about you, but I am just about fed up with my life being restricted because of the ramped up fear of the Corona Virus. This started in March and seems to be going on indefinitely, so I think it is about time it was dealt with.

    This is actually more of a ritual than a spell, but it is very simple and does not need lots of stuff. It can be done at any time, day or night, but pick a time when you will not be disturbed. Turn off your phone, unless you are working the spell with friends and using the internet etc to work together.

    Light a couple of candles on your altar, and some incense too if you can. I'd recommend something like Dragon's Blood, White Sage, a smudge stick or any healing or banishing blend. Candles can be any that you have handy, night lights are ok. To be honest I can come up with reasons for using any colour of candle, so use what feels right to you.

    First cast your circle. Do this however you normally would, but make it a good one, we need as much power as possible to see off this demon of disease. If you haven't done this before, just sit quietly and imagine yourself inside a glowing circle, either silver white or smoky blue (Moon Goddess colours).

    Now call your deities. You can say something like:

    Thou loving Goddess, thou protective God, I call thee here to witness my rite and to aid this work.

    For this spell you will need a plate with a deep rim or a shallow dish or bowl and some salt and water. This can be water from the tap and kitchen salt, these are fine.

    Dip your finger in the water and draw in the bottom of the plate an image of the Corona Virus, whatever you think it looks like - an amorphous blob is fine. From the illustrations on the tv it looks to me like a spiky ball, so that is what I will draw, a circle with lines radiating out from it. This also looks a bit like a crown, which also reflects its name 'Corona'.

    Dry your fingers then sprinkle salt over your drawing. Try to follow the lines of your design if you can, but don't fret about it, it is your magical intention which is important. You will then have an image in your dish/plate drawn in water and salt.

    Put this in front of the candles and waft some incense smoke over it. Then invoke:

    Lady and Lord, add your power to my desire!

    Know that as you say these words the Goddess and the God are also adding their magical powers to the spell. Then gaze fiercely at the image you have made in your bowl/plate. point at it with the index finger of your strongest hand, or with your wand or Athame, and say:

 Corona Virus, heed my words!

It is time that you were gone from us

It is time for you to go away

Your power to harm grows less

Your power grows less

Your power is less

You are less

You are little

You are small

You are gone

Are gone

Gone

    Clap three times as loudly as you can. Then relax, let the spell go and do its work.

    You can sit in your circle and have a sandwich or a biscuit and a cup of tea/coffee, glass of wine, to celebrate your successful working.

    When you are ready to end your ritual, thank the Lady and Lord for their help, then close down the circle. (Just walking through the boundary will pop it, like a soap bubble).

    Take your dish to the bathroom. Wet the image with more water and wash the image into the toilet.

    As you flush the toilet, say:

    Goodbye, Corona Virus, go back underground and stay where you belong!

    This spell can be repeated as often as you like and the more people who do it, the better. So please feel free to pass this on to anyone you think would like to have a go at it.

    Remember at all times in the circle, your attitude must be: I am the boss! I am in charge! What I say goes!

    You may notice that I did not specify a phase of the Moon for this working. To make something diminish then traditionally the waning phase of the Moon is used, but to increase health and strength, and your power over the Corona Virus, the waxing phase is used.

    But the main reason I did not specify this is that when you need something badly - and we really do need this virus to go away as quickly as possible - then I am a great believer that the Goddess and God will help us no matter what the state of the Moon and planets. And also that the best time to do any spell is NOW!




Saturday, 3 October 2020

Jumper!

 About a month ago a young lady contacted me through facebook, saying that she had seen some of the pictures of my crocheting, and really liked them, so would I consider making her a jumper?

    Well, I was a bit taken aback. Astonished, flattered, gob-smacked, all those things, that someone had liked my stuff enough to want me to make them something. I didn't really know what to say, as I have only been crocheting for a year or so, and wasn't sure that I could make something that she would like.

    Also I had no idea how long it would take me to make a jumper (never having made one before) - it could be months!

    Anyway, the young lady was very kind and told me that she wanted a garment that was big and sloppy, but colourful, and told me the colours she liked and pointed out one of the blankets I'd made which she liked the pattern of. So I said that I would be happy to give it a go, but I didn't know how it was going to turn out.

    As it happened, once I got started, I really enjoyed it.

    The main pattern is what I call my 'circle to square', with colours fading from dark to light in the circle bit, then light to dark in the square part. I tried to make all the central circles slightly different from each other, but kept the outer squares in the same colour configuration to give the garment an over-all harmony. 

    The first part of the pattern was easy: going off the jumper I'd made earlier this year for Graham, I started by making four blocks of nine squares. One block for the front, one for the back and one for each arm. And to further harmonise these blocks, the central square in each block has sunny orange and yellow colours. When I'd made those blocks I then had to figure how they were going to be joined together.

    I went for the shoulders first and made two more of my sunny blocks, which joined the front and back squares together into a sort of tabard.

    Then I had a measure and realised that I could really do to have a few more inches on either side of the body, but not enough to make a whole square, so instead I made long rows of the colours I'd used for the edges of the squares. Once I'd done that, I then had to join in the arms, but because the body was now three and a bit squares wide, and the arms three squares, there would be a gap underneath the arm. I filled this by making a triangle at the top of each striped row, so that I could join the arms to each side of the triangle, then close them into a cylinder as they met at the top of the triangle.

    That worked out smashing, and was a lot less fiddly than I'd imagined

    I tried the jumper out on a hanger and realised two things: the neck hole looked far too big and the proportions of the body weren't quite right.

    I decided that another row of squares around the bottom would sort the proportions out, but I decided to simply join each square at the top to the body and leave the sides open. That would give the jumper more movement, give it the length of a mini dress and also mean that if worn with leggings etc, you would get flashes of the under garment between the squares as they moved.

    The only trouble was that I also had a gap at the side where I had made my stripes. So I adapted my circle to square pattern, keeping the circle part as usual, but making the overall shape an oblong, to fit the space.

    To make the neck hole smaller, I made four quarter circles which I fitted into the corners of the square neck hole, which would give a sort of 'sweetheart' neckline which is quite a flattering shape.

    The whole process was a lot quicker than I expected - but once I get stuck into my crocheting, I tend to do a bit whenever I have a few minutes spare.

    Happily when the young lady saw the results, she said she was pleased with it



Oh and by the way, when got home from shopping on Friday we found a parcel outside our front door.

When we opened the door and went inside, there was a card on the doormat, which was headed: 'Where's My Parcel?', and the box marked 'Porch' was ticked.

Nice to see the delivery people have a sense of humour.



Saturday, 5 September 2020

Autumn Fires

 Do you remember? Back in the Spring, just before the Covid Lockdown, the high winds brought down our ivy-covered arch into the back garden?

    Graham cleared away the debris into a HUGE pile at the back of the garden. This was substantially added to when he 'trimmed' the leylandii hedge (lopped six feet off it and reduced it to chest height).



    Well this now VAST pile of twigs and sticks and logs has sat in the garden all Summer.

    Occasionally Graham has taken the brown bin (garden waste) and filled it with clippings from the heap, making apparently no difference to the volume.

    Until the other day when he said to me: 'What do you think to getting a garden incinerator? Aldi's have some in at £15.00.'

    I said 'If you want to buy one, go ahead.' while thinking to myself that if he was thinking of feeding the Heap into it, that would take some doing.

    Graham was silent for a bit, and then said, 'Of course, I'd have to move the heap out of the way ....'

    Now one of his objections to having a bonfire was that the Heap was currently positioned over what had been our fire pit, so in order to have a controlled and safe bonfire, he would have to move the Heap, then feed it into the bonfire gradually.

    Also we know that wild life will have made homes in the Heap, so it would need dis-mantling and moving, to be sure that none of our garden inhabitants came a cropper.

    I said nothing. Then Graham said, 'Or I could just have a bonfire.'

    So yesterday afternoon the Heap was shifted. Larger pieces of wood were separated and the fire pit was exposed. As expected, several frogs/toads had made homes under the Heap and these had to be shooed away. One was a magnificent large frog with a prodigious leap. Anyway all was prepared ready for dusk.

    And at 7 pm Graham announced that he was going to start the bonfire, 'I'll come out with you.' I said.

    'Why?' asked Graham.

    'Just to be sure we have stuff put on gradually and not all in one big chunk.' I said.

    Actually it all went very well. Graham was careful as he had seen that at least one of the frogs/toads had moved into the Heap again, so he took stuff off the pile carefully, making sure he wasn't transferring any creatures into the fire.

    The Heap was lovely and dry/seasoned, so it burnt well, but even so it still took over an hour to gradually feed all of it into the bonfire. But it all burnt down well.

    After the last lot was on, we sat and watched it for a while, making sure it was burnt down to a glowing grumble before we left it.

    It is a long time since we last had a bonfire. To me they are always magical, as we always have tried to have a little fire to celebrate the festivals. This year we have kept largely to candles, so it was lovely to sit and watch the dancing and leaping flames.

    These are the fires that our ancestors had. That burnt up the waste at the end of the harvest.

    this was the time when fields would be alight with burning stubble, burning up the disease and fertilising the Earth with fresh ash. These were the fires we would see at night, up on the hill sides, visible for miles. As the bonfires and Need Fires would also be visible in those dark, dark nights or the far past, when the only light you could bring into darkness was fire.



The next day - this is all that was left.



Thursday, 3 September 2020

Autumn is Coming

 I love the progression of the seasons through the year.

    They remind us that nothing stays the same, everything constantly changes and moves on. But also they remind us of seasons past and seasons yet to come.

    It is only a couple of weeks since we were sweltering in Summer heat. Every morning I would look forward to opening the back door, and leaving it open, to encourage as much as possible of the cool, fresh air to flood into the house. They yesterday when I opened the door, there was a distinct nip in the air. And after the door had been open only a few minutes, suddenly 'the factory' struck up into full production. The 'factory' is our central heating boiler, which has been silent for months, but that morning with a whoosh and a vrrrrrm suddenly it was heating water and, for the first time since late Spring, the radiators were beginning to warm up.

    It is true that the leaves on the trees are starting to curl up and change colour around the edges. Growth has slowed in the garden, but the hedgerow fruits are starting to ripen. It looks like a good year for rosehips, and the cotoneasters in the garden are popping out hundreds of little red berries. I shall ask Graham to look out for brambles when he takes the dogs for a walk    

    When I was very little, this is when my dad would call for me to go for a very early morning walk with him. We would set off when it was barely light and walk around the edges of the stubble in the newly harvested fields. The mist would be rising, and the air soft and cool enough to make you want to keep moving, and soon we would come to the field where the mushrooms grew.

    We searched through the meadow, avoiding the cows which were following their own daily routine, wandering slowly and grazing the moist, thick grass at the far side of the field. Dad showed me how to look for tufts of grass, where the mushrooms hid at their base, and to look out for the darker green circles of the fairy rings, so many in this field that they intersected. Some were small, only just big enough to sit inside, others were huge, obviously grown over many years, and following around the edges of the rings was where the white capped mushrooms grew.

    When we had picked enough for breakfast, we would meander home, but sometimes we would go the long way, over the fields away from the houses, until we got to Uncle Bill and Aunty Laura's house. Dad might leave a paper bag of mushrooms by their back doorstep, so they would find them when they opened the door.

    Then home at last to have mushrooms cooked in my dad's special way: fried in butter, then a blob of Marmite, and a splash of strong tea (tea leaves and all), to make a flavoursome liquor which we would eat with bread and butter.



Sunday, 30 August 2020

Making Mitts

 Crochet central! 

    Through the Summer I have mainly been concentrating on making bedspreads and throws usually from a variety of squares of different sizes and patterns, but eventually I started to want to try something different. So I decided to have a break from squares, and look at what else I fancied making.

    One of the things I wear a lot in the Winter are fingerless mitts. My wrists often ache in the Winter, when it turns colder, so having something warm around them helps get rid of this, but I want to be able to use my fingers properly, so fingerless mitts are ideal. So I had a look on the internet, my first go-to place for all things crochet and there are some beautiful designs, but a lot of the patterns seemed really complicated. I had a think about it and realised that all you need to do is crochet an oblong.

    Start off by making a chain which is the length you wish your finished mitts to be, from about the base of your fingers, to cover your wrists and a bit more. I actually like a long mitt which nearly goes up to my elbow, so I did a chain of 21 plus an extra two for my first double crochet (most people do a chain of 3 for this, but I've found with my kind of crocheting a 2 chain works better for me). Work your first double crochet in the third chain from your hook and work double crochets all along your line of chains, right back to the beginning, then chain 2 (or 3) and turn and work back along the row doing double crochets in all the stitches along. This is a very simple pattern, but I used some balls of ombre wool (ombre means 'shade' so this is wool which shades from one colour to another) that I had and this makes a colour changing pattern as you continue working. 

    Just continue making your rows of double crochet until the oblong is wide enough to go round your arm at its thickest point. I would make it a little on the tight side as this will make them fit better and also the wool will stretch a bit with wearing. Don't fasten your wool off, as you are going to join both sides together into a tube by using a sort of running slip stitch. It is really easy (everything I do is really easy!).  Line up both sides so that the stitches match each other. Push your hook through both sides of the oblong, as near to the edge as your can get, yarn over at the back, pull your hook through the work and through both loops on your hook. Then move to the next stitch along. 

    Continue in this fashion until you are about 8 stitches from the end. At this point you are going to make your thumb hole, so try the mitt on and see if your thumb will stick through ok, you might want to pull a stitch back or two, but don't worry, you can always pull it back and have another go as long as you haven't fastened off. If your thumb hole is in the right place, rather than doing your slip stitch chain through both sides of your work, just do it in one side, leaving the other side free. Do this five times, then go back to joining the two sides together by pushing your hook through both sides of the tube again. You should have three stitches to join (but there might be 4 or 5, if you pulled back a stitch or two earlier.).

    When you get to the end, don't fasten off until you have tried your mitt on, to make sure you have the thumb hole in the right place. If all is fine, then fasten off and weave your ends in. If the thumb hole doesn't feel quite right you can pull the stitches back and re-position the thumb hole to suit yourself.

    Oh something else I tried was using a larger than normal crochet hook. I tend to use a 4.5mm hook, but for this project I tried a 6.5, which is considerably bigger. This means that your stitches will naturally be larger, and makes it quicker to crochet, but also if you tend to crochet tightly this will also loosen your work, make it feel softer and actually warmer as it will hold more air.



As modelled by my lovely assistant.




Saturday, 8 August 2020

Consecrated Salt and Holy Water

 Two of the items we sell in our Raven Catalogue are Consecrated Salt and Holy Water. These are basic supplies used for a variety of purposes.

    Both of these items are used to cleanse away negative vibrations or any unwanted energies and also to bless objects and make them holy. For example if you have bought a special tool for use in a spell or ritual, you could sprinkle it with Consecrated Salt and a few drops of Holy Water and this would magically cleanse it and prepare it for use in your ritual.

     Basically these items clear away any previous contacts, if someone else has held it or used it. A bit like wiping a computer disc of its previous information and leaving it empty and pristine for you to fill with your own special energies.

    The Consecrated Salt and Holy Water can be used separately, or you can put a little salt into the water to make a particularly highly charged magical preparation. This can be used to bless participants in a ritual, or for initiation rituals, or to cleanse any object or area. Such as clearing out unwanted spirits.

    Consecrated Salt it often used to cleanse items which can be damaged by water, so you can cleanse books or Tarot Cards with it. You can also throw it directly at a manifestation to disperse its energies.

    Both Consecrated Salt and Holy Water can be added to your bath water to cleanse you of any psychic intrusions, get rid of bad luck, hexes or curses. They can also be added to a bucket of soapy water and used to cleanse larger areas such as a room used as a temple, or even to wash the path or road leading to your home.

    They can also be used separately or in combination to create a magical boundary which spirits or other entities cannot cross. So if you were having trouble sleeping, or having nightmares, you could make a boundary around your bed, make sure the line is continuous, but it does not have to be a circle. You can use it to reinforce the magical boundaries of your home too.

    The only things I would not use them on are objects which you want to use for their intrinsic magic or psychic powers. So do not use them on herbs as this removes the very magical powers you want to make use of. Also natural talismans such as a Holy Stone or a horseshoe as, again, you would be wiping away the objects own magic and leaving them blank.




Thursday, 23 July 2020

Wishing Trees

After I put my last post up, I had a look on the internet to see if there was anything about coins being hammered into trees, and to my astonishment there were several quite detailed articles about it.
     Apparently there is a growing revival of this tradition of making a wish and forcing a coin into the bark of a (usually) felled tree, or a tree stump. I found articles about it from Wales, Scotland and England, so it is a much wider known folk spell than I had realised.
     Up to now, I had only come across the traditions of hammering nails into trees, or tieing bits of cloth or ribbons to them. But in both those cases the trees would be living. Traditional Wishing trees are usually living hawthorn trees and usually overlook a natural spring. You make a wish then tie a piece of your own clothing, or a ribbon to the tree, as an offering. This relatively new phenomena of using coins utilises dead or felled trees, either the trunks of the trees, or sometimes just the remaining stumps.
     I haven't yet found out what makes a particular tree a candidate for becoming a Wishing Tree in this way, or whether any felled tree or tree stump can be used in the same way - I get the feeling that this might be the case.
      Having read some of the articles, it seems that this may be something that many people are doing just because they see that other people already have done it. In other words they are simply copying the behaviour. Sometimes this happens to trees on private land, or that owned by the National Trust, and one confused National Trust person was quoted as saying 'Why are people wasting their money like this, they could give the coins to the National Trust and we could do something with it!'
      The leaving of a votive offering in return for a wish is a very ancient behaviour, it goes way, way back into the mists of time, and seems to be something humans just can't help doing.
      In Hull, one of the shopping centres has an indoor pool with a fountain in it. If you look in the pool you will see that the floor of the pool is full of coins of all different denominations. This pool in a modern shopping centre has become a 'Wishing Well'. There are no signs up telling people to make a wish and throw a coin in (in fact sometimes signs are put us asking people to refrain from throwing coins into the fountain), and periodically the management order a clean up and the coins are removed and given to charity. But it is not long before coins are once more being thrown into this pool.
      People need magic in their lives.
      They need to be able to ask for help from some supernatural power.

       I find it very interesting and encouraging to note that even in these modern days of computers, when people seem to be getting further and further away from nature, new magics are still finding their way into the world.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Mystery Spell

Every morning Graham takes the dogs for a walk, and part of that walk is usually through a strip of managed woodland, known locally as 'The Plantation'.
      As the woodland is managed, from time to time trees are felled for one reason or another, usually because they appear dangerous, or have become uprooted and need making safe.
     Some months ago now a large beech was felled, its upper branches were removed and taken away, but a large piece of the main trunk was left behind. It has become a nice place to have a sit while passing through the woods. Graham often makes use of it in the morning and so it was he noticed a couple of months ago that some coins, copper 2p's and silver 20p's, had been hammered into the trunk of the tree, in the deep grooves of the bark.
      It seems as if these coins are hammered in maybe every few days. The numbers fluctuate, possibly children notice the coins and pull them out, not easy as some have been hit with such force that it has bent the coins, but they are all left proud of the bark, not hammered in fully.
      There are several old spells which usually call for nails to be hammered into a tree. These spells are also usually for getting rid of something. The tree takes the energy of whatever it is you are trying to get rid of - and as this tree is dead and will rot, I would think that this adds to the power of any banishing spell.
      Usually these spells are for getting rid of illness, or something such as warts, each nail hammered in represents one of the warts.
     As this spell is obviously being added to, and has been for at least a couple of months, then whatever is being got rid of is a big thing.
     Also as this seemed to start around the time of lockdown, perhaps this is a spell for getting rid of Covid 19. But it could be to get rid of bad luck, or of a long-term illness. There could also be more than one person doing the spell.
     The fact that coins are being used is another interesting feature. Coins represent payment, so the tree is being 'paid' to take away whatever it is. The fact that two different coins are being used is also another interesting fact, why 2 p's and 20 p's? Copper is the metal of Venus, goddess of love, and copper coins are usually used in love spells, but copper coins can also simply represent payment as I said before. Silver is the metal which represents the Moon, and the 20p coin has seven sides which could also be significant. It must be more awkward to hammer in the 20p's too as they are relatively small. Silver coins are also given in payment to the Fairies for their aid too.
      There does not seem to be a pattern to the positioning of the coins.
      So there we have the mystery of the tree and the coins.
      An interesting magical feature of our local woods.



Thursday, 18 June 2020

You've Done What With It ?!

Graham and me are not tidy people.
     Thank goodness this applies to both of us. If only one of a couple is untidy, they would drive their partner mad!
     Anyway, because we are not tidy people, things accumulate in drifts and heaps around the house. These are often 'themed' heaps and can last for years.
     Such as: clean clothes accumulate in the clean clothes basket in the kitchen.
     This means that rather than trailing all the way upstairs to fight your way into the wardrobe (which has a pile of boxes piled against the doors) you just rifle through the clean washing basket and wear the first whatever of yours that comes to hand.
     The system works pretty well, because we both know vaguely which heap you might find something in.
     The trouble starts when we have an 'Oh God! I can't stand this mess any longer!' episode, and PUT THINGS AWAY.
     For a few days afterwards, maybe up to a week, the house is clear and tidy, then the heaps begin accumulating again, in small ways.
     But the damage has been done!
     Stuff has been PUT AWAY, and because we are used to whatever it is being in that heap over there, and it is no longer there!
     We have no idea where it might be.

     And so it was, after the plumbers had been and fitted the central heating, we had a sort out in the kitchen.
     For many years we have accumulated spare pairs of 'Pound Shop' spectacles, so that when our favourite pair gives up the ghost, we will have a spare pair ready to go. And all the spare pairs were dotted on the shelves of the dresser in the kitchen.
     We had this bright idea that just laying about loose, as they had done for many, MANY years, was obviously not good for the specs, the lenses could get scratched etc before they came into use. So in a moment of tidying up madness, we gathered all the pairs of glasses up and PUT THEM AWAY!

     This morning Graham's glasses, which he wears constantly, fell to pieces, so a new pair was called for.
     This would be no problem, because we always have several pairs of brand new Pound Shop specs ready and waiting for action. He went to the dresser in the kitchen, where the glasses always are and there were NO GLASSES THERE!
     Dum, Dum, Daaaaaaah! - dramatic music.
     We have put them away. In a safe place.
      Where that 'safe place' is, neither of us can remember ......
      Luckily he did manage to find a pair that we had missed during the tidying up session, so he could see to take the dogs for a walk.
      It is a good thing that even when we are tidying up, we are rubbish at it!



Sunday, 14 June 2020

Crocheting Squared Circles

I have just finished this bedspread/blanket.




As you can see, it is colour-tastic!
The pattern for most of the squares is a very simple one, three rows of circle, then a row which changes it to a square, then three square rows.
     As you can see I made this one is blocks of nine squares, and each block of nine uses four shades of a single colour. The central square of the outside circles has a flower in it and I tried to make all of these different. There are three 'cosmic' blocks in the central row which are a little different. The rainbow squares have seven colours, representing the rainbow colours, but it is surprising how different they look when you just put the colours in a different order. These alternate with red at the centre and purple at the outside, then purple at the centre with red at the outside.
     I have used this same principle of colour variation in each of the blocks, the colours of each nine square block are the same, just used in alternate orders
     Then we have the Sun block and the Moon block. I actually started this crochet by making the corner squares for the Sun block because I wanted to try the pattern of offset corner squares. But I was a bit disappointed that I had to applique the stars rather than working them in the squares.
     The central Moon square, on the other hand, does have the Crescent Moon as an integral area of the square.
     I really had fun with the colours on this blanket. Each of the squares is 6" across, so each block is 18" making the total width four and a half feet, and the total length six feet, the size of a standard double bed. But I think for practical purposes it would look better on the bed if you put it on sideways - which is why I've got two pictures showing it in both orientations.
      Graham is holding the blanket upside down in the long ways pic though - well I think of the rainbow square as being at the 'top'.
      Lol I have just noticed that we have some lovely pictures of our re-cycling bin included!




      Oh and here is a picture of Tallulah, because you can never have enough pictures of beautiful dogs.





Of course after I'd finished this piece, I then decided to have a go at doing a few close ups, so here they are.


Monday, 8 June 2020

Long Days, Short Nights

We are heading towards the longest day of the year, with nights growing ever shorter. In the North of Scotland it never gets fully dark at this time of year, there is a glow in the sky even at midnight.
     Will there be Druids at Stonehenge for the Solstice this year?
     I dare say there will be some folks there, no matter what restrictions ought to apply.
     The Summer Solstice is another of those magical times when time seems to form a link back to our pre-history. The nights are mild enough to encourage people to want to be outside. You might want to watch the stars, or look out for Fairies, or to gather magical fern seed which allows the bearer to become invisible.
     This time was known as Mead Month to our ancestors. The time when meadows and gardens are full of flowers, when bees are at their busiest and buzziest, gathering nectar from every flower they can.
     Will Shakespear understood the magic of a Midsummer's Night, when dreams could become real, then fade away with the dawn's light.
     The Fairies love Midsummer. Their powers are at their height too. They ride out from their mounds, through rocks and out of pools and waterfalls. And if they find a pretty lass or a handsome lad, perhaps they will seduce them away to Fairyland.
     This is a time for magical dreams, for spirit journeys. A time to be transported from the mundane to the magical.
     Find a triangular leaf and use a pin to inscribe it with this magic square:
CTM
CMF
THA

     Wrap the leaf in threads of three colours, white, yellow and green, and put this package beneath your pillow.
     Prepare for a night of adventures, of flights to strange lands, of meetings with wise and beautiful creatures.
     Before you go to sleep say three times:
Carry me far, carry me flying, carry me fast,
Far and away, 'till break of day,
Then home at last.

    The leaf will become a magic carpet, embroidered with symbols, signs and words of Power, which only you can read. Board it and let it show you wonders.
     When you return to your bed next morning, write down all your adventures, as the memories will fade away quickly.

     Oh and by the way, although the Midsummer Solstice may be a point in time, the magic of Midsummer is already upon us and will last through this whole Moon time.





Sunday, 31 May 2020

Crocheting in the Garden

It was another beautiful day yesterday, so after lunch Graham and I descided to take our mugs of tea out into the garden. I took my crocheting with me as well, so Graham was in charge of the tea.
The grass in the front garden in nice and flat to Graham put the mugs down beside him as he sprawled there. The dogs took the opportunity to peer through the front gate and bark at the neighbours in a happy way.
     So there we sat in the sunshine, chatting, watching the bees in the cotoneaster, Graham drinking his tea while mine cooled on the grass beside him.
     Until he said, 'Looks like you won't be getting your tea.' Because there was Bridie with her head stuck in my mug, having a good long drink of my tea. In fact she drank the lot, then looked at Graham as if to say 'Have you left any for me?'
     We have a new little flowerbed at the right of the front door, as you come out of the house. We had bought some new plants (mail order) and then had to find somewhere to put them. There are some lavender plants and one or two others. 'The Pudsey is doing well.' said Graham.
     'Pudsey?' said I
     'Pugsley?' said Graham, 'Something beginning with 'P', I think.'
     'Peony!'
     Yes, we have put a peony in the new flowerbed. It arrived as a piece of root, with a tiny bud showing at one end. Graham planted it, then we read on the internet that one of the mistakes people often make when planting peony is that they are planted too deeply. So Graham dug it up again and planted it barely under the surface of the soil, and in a couple of weeks, it has started to push up leaves. We don't expect it to flower this year, I think it is far too late for that, but we are pleased to see that it is alive!
   
     When I am crocheting, I don't always work on huge projects (although I do like to have something on-going). So here are a couple of my latest pieces:



Graham fancied a long, colourful scarf and he particularly likes the 'basket weave' stitch, which is thick and dense. So here is the one I made for him. Of course it is no use until Autumn/Winter.
     Then I was sat one night and my toes felt cold, so I thought I'd have a go at making myself some crocheted slippers.



     I have used one of those wools that changes colour to give the variagated effect. I didn't use any pattern to create these, I just descided to have a go and started crocheting.
     I started with a spiral, which I knew would become the sole at the widest part of the foot, then created the rest of the sole by crocheting rows until I got to the right length - I used one of my shoes as a template and measured it against my foot too. When I felt that the sole was the right size, I simply worked rows around the outside edge without increasing the stitch number, this gave a 'boat' shape which I then crocheted across from side to side to fill in across the top of the toes. I had thought about continuing up and around the opening, to make more of a 'boot' shape, but for the time being these are just what I needed.
     I think I made the slippers in an evening, so it didn't take long at all.







Sunday, 24 May 2020

Enow

Earlier this week (18th of May) I put an extract from one of my favourite poems up on facebook.
     To celebrate the birthday of the Arabic philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and astrologer, Omar Khayyam, I quoted from his epic poem, The Rubaiyat.
Come with old Khayyam ....
With me along some strip of herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown.
Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough,
A flask of wine, a book of verse - and thou
Beside me, singing in the wilderness -
And wilderness is paradise enow.

The English language is rich and diverse and often uses old fashioned or obscure versions of words, particularly in poetry. And right at the end of this quote we have the word 'enow'.
     It is used here to help the lines scan, and to rhyme with the words 'bough' and 'thou', but we don't tend to worry about its meaning, as you can ignore it completely and still understand the meaning of this verse: 'It is lovely to go for a picnic in the country, just you and me.'
     If you bear in mind that poetry is a condensed form of writing, one which attempts to convey a meaning, or feeling, or create an atmosphere in a few words and lines, then every word chosen has to count, has to be of special value to justify its inclusion.
     The prime example of this is the Japanese poetic form, the Haiku.
     Haikus are composed to set rhythms of syllables and must also include a reference to the time of year

     The Rubaiyat is a series of quattraines, these are verses of four lines. Some of these verses are independent thoughts, others are series within the overall poem which are used to express a philosophical idea, so every word chosen has to fulfil several functions: It has to tell a story; it has to help the rhythm and the rhyme of the poem; it also has to help express the philosophy behind the words.
     So what does 'enow' actually mean?
     English words are a devil for having several meanings, and also for those meanings to change over the centuries, and 'enow' is one of those. It can mean 'enough', or be a contraction of the words 'even now' which in turn can mean 'at this moment' or even 'immediately'.
     Issobel Gowdie, the Scottish Witch, used the phrase 'even now' in her shape changing chants to change from woman to hare and back again. She says:
I am in an hares likeness just now,
But I will be in a woman's likeness even now.
     To us modern English users, the word 'now' simply means 'now', but to Issobel Gowdie there was a difference between 'now' and 'even now'.
     'Now' implies the continuing present, the time that we are currently occupying, but 'even now' changes that present to something else, a new reality, immediately.
     So what Issobel means is:
'I am currently in the shape of a hare,
but I choose to immediately change to the shape of a woman.'
       So which meaning of 'enow' do we find at the end of this Rubaiyat quattrain?
      Khayyam and his translator, Edward Fitzgerald, are creating a scene, a picture, with these lines of poetry.
     There have been many different translations of the words of Omar Khayyam over the years - indeed Fitzgerald himself made at least five versions - but the one I love best and have quoted from, is his first version. Bear in mind that this was not only Fitzgerald's first attempt at translating these quattrains, this was the first time ever that these Persian's thoughts had been translated into English.
     Because Fitzgerald chose to translate the quattrains into a poetic and rhyming form, this translation has been criticised as not being an accurate rendition from the Arabic.
      But this is not a dry work of scholarship, this is a celebration of the wit and wisdom of Khayyam. The words which Fitzgerald chose, encapsulate the spirit as well as the inner meaning of the original words.
      He has used the word 'enow' simply because of all its meanings and all it implies. Khayyam is saying that all he needs to recreate paradise on earth in contained within this verse. That this is enough paradise for him. But also that if these conditions are fulfilled, then, for him, Paradise immediately comes into being, for a fleeting instant Paradise is realised here on earth.
     He does not need the dry arguments of the religious ascetic to get him nearer to heaven, all he needs are simple pleasures, food, drink, peace and a beautiful companion.










Saturday, 9 May 2020

Nature Notes from a Witches Garden

Whether we are in lockdown or not, nature just carries on doing its own thing. And it certainly is around our garden!
     Just outside our back door is a cotoneaster bush which is a fantastic place for wrens which we often see hopping in and out. But it has also become a potential nesting site for our robin. He likes the new hazel arch/pergola/tunnel which Graham recently constructed and flies around trying various vantage points.
     We are pretty sure our robin is a 'he' because he seems to be trying to tempt a female to come and build a nest with him. The other day he was in and out of the cotoneaster, but always carrying a piece of nesting material in his beak, as if saying 'Hey girl(s), look at me, see how good a potential mate I am, making this nest ready for you!' However he wasn't building a nest, then going to fetch more material, it was always the same piece he was carrying about.
     The pigeons on the other hand definitely are nesting. Right behind our coal bunker is an old elder tree, almost smothered in ivy. This seems to be a popular configuration, as we had a similar tree at the back of the garden, which finally gave up the ghost and collapsed last year and that had been a nesting spot for pigeons for years. So this year they have decamped to the new nest site in the ivy covered tree by the coal bunker.
     We can see them from our western living room window as they land on top of the tree then shuffle in amongst the ivy.
     But they are not the only pigeons in the garden. There is another one in the front garden, and it seems to be less experienced in picking the ideal nesting spot, as it has chosen the jasmine bush right by the side of the front door.
     Now, this has several disadvantages that I can see: First there is not a lot of cover on the stems it has chosen for its nesting site. But the main 'fail' element is that it is directly by the front door, so every time the front door opens, the pigeon is disturbed and flies off with much noisy flapping. Or if the postman or a delivery driver comes up the front path, the bird explodes out of the jasmine and away.
     But it is still persevering.
     I often see it pausing on the edge of the bird bath, with some improbably long twig in its beak, which it flutters off into the jasmine with.
     I like watching nature in action. I love to see the wild life, where it belongs, out in the wild.
     The emphasis here is on the 'out' bit.
     So the other day, sitting at the living room table, I happened to notice some ivy on the top shelf of the nearby bookshelf beneath the window, and thought that it must be a piece left over from the christmas decorations. I pointed it out to Graham who went to have a closer look and found that no,. it wasn't plastic, it was real ivy growing up the inside of the wall!
     Graham pulled out the ivy, then shot outside and round to the back window to where we know we have some ivy growing on the outside wall. He found two airbricks and both had ivy growing into them.
     There followed much scrabbling about and removing of ivy!
     Not all stuff is growing in the wrong place though.
    Since Graham built the new garden arch/pergola/tunnel, we decided there was a small but wasted area which would make a nice flower bed just by the back door. So this week he has transferred some ransomes (wild garlic) from the side garden into the new flower bed. He has also dropped some wild flower 'bombs' into the same area, so hopefully we will have a profusion of wild flowers later on.
     Anyway, the ransomes are in flower, and very pretty they are too. But not only pretty, they are surprisingly tasty.
     Pick one of the white, star-like flowers and pop it in your mouth. You will be surprised at how honey-sweet it is, then as the honey fades, the warm mellow taste of garlic starts to build.
     These flowers are lovely scattered on salad, but also on roast beef or chicken.
     If you are growing them or any other flowering alliums in your garden, do have a taste of them.
     This is a seasonal treat not to be missed.



Saturday, 25 April 2020

Crochet, Crochet, Crochet!

One thing about the lockdown is that it has meant that we have had to find different ways to entertain ourselves other than going out.
      Apparently Netflix has had a huge upsurge in subscribers.
      As for me, I have been working on another large crochet project.
     Cherise, my daughter-in-law sent me a link to Cypress Textiles where they had a pattern for a blanket made up of plain and rose hexagons The Happy Little Tree Crochet Blanket - sorry I've forgotten how to copy the link and insert it, but if you type that into google you should be able to find it.
      The pattern is made into an oblong blanket, but I decided I was fed up with squares and oblongs and decided to make a more organic pattern made up of circles of hexagon shapes.
      I had a number of balls of variagated wool, not sure of the correct term, but it is wool that changes colour as you crochet or knit it up, and I'd been looking for a pattern that would suit it for some time. I decided that the 'Rose Hexagons' would be ideal, as flowers are often variagated.
    I had several different colour ways of wool, so decided for a start to make up a circle using just one variation on the colour way. I wanted quite a regular pattern, with a plain hexagon at the centre, surrounded by a ring of rose hexagons, which would be surrounded by an outer ring of plain hexagons again. To me this looked like a series of circular flower beds with walk ways in between.
Some of the wool was variagated blue, which to me represents water, so some of the flower beds are (to me) pools, with floating flowers in them.
     To be honest although I loved the rose hexagons, I found the pattern for the plain hexagon much more difficult to follow, for some reason. So I decided to make my own version which I found simpler and easier to do. I'll put it at the bottom so you can have a go if you like.
     This bedspread? turned out to be rather like a repeating fractal pattern: the centre is a pale blue (water) hexagon, surrounded by six Rose Hexagons, which are surrounded by twelve more plain hexagons. This group/pattern  of 19 hexagons was replicated a total of nineteen times. So that the central group was surrounded by a ring of six more groups, which were in turn surrounded by another ring of twelve more groups.
     I liked both the repetitions, and the variations within those repetitions. The central blue pool is echoed by three groups around the edge which are blue pools with floating flowers.
     When I had finally finished and got everything sewn together, I decided I needed some sort of edging to the whole thing. I first tried using the light blue which I had used to create the 'pool' groups, but it didn't look right. Then Graham suggested I use a dark colour instead, so I went for a deep navy blue.
     Unfortunately the fringing pattern I went for, takes quite a bit of wool, and I ran out. I wondered whether to pull the whole thing back and just try and find some wool I had lots of. Then I decided instead to make a feature of the changes of colour in the fringing and also to make the lengths of the different colours a bit random. I went for colours that echoed those used in the main body of the work, but were solid and often deeper shades and I am really chuffed with the result.



The bottom picture is Graham doing an imitation of a jellyfish while draped in the bedspread (?)

As promised here is my crochet pattern for the Plain Hexagon I used above
It is in US crochet terms as I find those easier to remember.
Chain 4 and slip stitch to make a ring.
Round 1: chain 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to close
Round 2: chain 4 (which = dc + ch), dc+ch 11 more times working into the tops of the stitches of Round 1 - go through both top loops of each stitch
Round 3: this turns the circle into a hexagon and you will work into the ch1 space of the previous row. ss into the next ch1 space, ch2 + 1sc in the same space, next space sc x 2, ch1, sc x 2 (this gives you a corner) so you will alternate between these two stitch patterns, next space will be 2 x sc, and the space after will be another corner, sc x 2, ch 1, sc x 2, continue around making 6 corners and ss to finish.
And that is a plain hexagon

And just in case you are interested, I had to make 114 rose hexagons and 247 plain to make the above bedspread (?). If I'd thought about that before hand, I would never have got it done, so I concentrated on working on a circle of 19 at a time.



Monday, 13 April 2020

How To Build a Temple

I decided to write an article on how to get creative, then (typically) I couldn't think of a single thing to write about!
     Creativity can be expressed in an infinite number of ways, you just have to think about how or what you would like to be creative with.
     If you have internet access, then you have an unending source of ideas, images, recipes etc.
     A pen and some paper is a very versatile start to creativity. You can keep a diary, write down your dreams, draw and paint on the paper, write stories, poems, prayers or rituals. You can download images and create a scrapbook of ideas which appeal to you.
    You could create a temple in a book, or on a piece of paper.
     The front page could be an image of the entrance to your temple. It could be an image of a classical Greek or Roman building, or the entrance to a castle or stately home, long barrow or even a door in a tree, or a gate through a hedge or into a garden.
     You could then imagine what it would be like to enter your temple.
     Would the entrance be dark and mysterious, would there be candles, wall lights or exotic lamps, or would it be bright and welcoming or even open to the sky? Would your pathway spiral down into the earth, are there steps leading upwards, or will you walk through trees or by beautiful flower beds?
     Are you alone or are there other creatures or beings there? Can you see them, or just hear them in the distance, is there the sound of bird song, voices chanting, music, the sound of trickling water, the chiming of bells? Is there a perfume of sweet flowers or of incense, or maybe the smell of cooking?
     You can create whichever kind of temple suits you. You can use images from books or magazines or from the internet to help you. Or you could build your temple in lego (other construction toys are also available) or bake it in gingerbread or shortbread or salt dough. You could make it a place in your garden, or create it in a box, a drawer, an old wardrobe, or just in your mind.
     You can adorn it in any way that pleases you: with gemstones and crystals, mirrors, seashells and sand, or leave it elegantly plain, or paint the walls like an Egyptian tomb or a Minoan palace, or with spirals, geometric shapes, flowers, birds or fantastical beasts.
     You might create a whole building or landscape, or just the entrance or the central place of worship.
     You might well find that your temple changes even as you create it, seeming to take on a life of its own.
     You could write a description of your temple and imagine yourself walking through it. You can sit in your sacred space and meditate, or you could lie down and sleep in your temple.
     You might wish to perform a special act of worship, or create a ritual or dance for the sheer joy of being, or for the pleasure of the spirits or gods.
     You might find this whole process ridiculous and have a darn good laugh about it.
     This is your temple, it doesn't have to be solemn and serious, it can be loving, funny, tasty even!
     It doesn't have to be perfect, or beautiful. It can be whatever it is and whatever you want or need it to be at this time.
     It may well be different the next time you visit.
     But whether you use it or not, it will always be waiting for you.
     Enter it or not, the choice is yours.