Saturday, 15 February 2020

Of Flea Doom, Dogs and Cousins

Last week  Graham popped into our local pet supply shop in Hull to get some Flea Doom.
     Now, as anyone who has bought any recently will know, the good stuff is not cheap. £22 for a box with three doses in - which between two dogs means one and a half doses each.
    So last Sunday he got the box to give Tallulah and Bridie their dose and found that the box was empty. Wondering if he had had a 'senior moment' and thrown out the full box and kept the used and now empty one, Graham delved into the wheelie bin and found the box which he had thrown away. Yes it was empty too. I asked him if he had kept the till receipt, no, of course not.
     So this week we had to go again and buy another box, so that we can flea doom the dogs and get rid of any little passengers. When he went to the counter and paid, Graham asked the assistant to open the box just so he could check that there was something inside this one, and explained why.
   'It sounds like you got one of the dummy display boxes,' they said, 'They aren't supposed to be put out for sale.'
    So no help there, not even an apology, or a handful of free chews in compensation.

     When we got home from the shops we found that we had three dogs.
     Charlie was visiting, so we had three dogs trying to poke their noses into the shopping bags and wondering what that yummy smell might be.
     It wasn't long before Charlie and Tallulah got bored and went out to play in the garden again - I say 'garden', more like a mud pit at the moment, having been churned up by three hounds racing round and round.
    Anyway, sometimes the play gets a bit lively and noisy, so Graham popped his head out of the back door to shout at the dogs, to see the frozen tableau of Charlie underneath facing one way, Tallulah on top facing the opposite way, but Tallulah's back leg in Charlie's mouth. The look on their faces clearly saying 'What?' in the tone of teenagers everywhere.
     It reminded me of an incident when we used to have a shop in Barton, the town at the south end of the Humber Bridge. I glanced out of the window one day and across the road I could see a boy holding another boy around the neck, his head under his arm, and casually punching the second boy in the head.
    I opened the shop door and shouted 'Oy!' across the road and the tableau froze. Then the standing lad shouted to me. 'It's ok missus, he's me cousin!' and the lad under his arm nodded vigorously and shouted 'Yeah!'

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

St Valentine's Love Spells

Love spells can be worked at any time, but St Valentine's Eve and Day (13th and 14th Feb) have been used for this purpose since Roman times - although then it was called Lupercalia.
     Some spells seek to find out the future - who will I marry? Who is the mysterious sender of this Valentine's card? And this is often done by encouraging magical dreams:

Rosemary Love Dream Spell
      Take a sprig of Rosemary and some rose water up to your bedroom when you retire at night. Stand naked in your room and dip the rosemary in the rose water. Use the sprig to sprinkle yourself with a few drops of the rosewater and say:
Rose Water and sweet Rosemary.
Love and sweet remembrance be.
When I dream in bed this eve
Show my true love unto me.

     Now put the rosemary sprig under your pillow and get into bed and go to sleep without speaking any more

To Keep Someone in Love With You
    Now this works best if your lover has given you a rose, preferably a red one. But if this has slipped their mind, go and buy yourself one, but when you do, say in your mind that this is done on behalf of your lover.
     Now set the table for two people, yourself and your lover. Put them opposite you and light a red candle in the centre of the table.
     Now make a sandwich using bread, butter and the petals from the red rose sprinkled with sugar or honey. Cut the sandwich in half and put half on your plate and half on your lovers.
     Then say:

Juno, Queen of Love and Marriage,
Keep [name of lover] in love with me.
As I eat this meal, so shall his/her love stay with me always.

Then eat your rose sandwich.
     If your lover is present and eats the other half of the sandwich, that is ideal, but if they cannot be, then let the candle burn down and then take their sandwich outside and break it up for the birds to eat. For birds are the messengers of Love.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Build Those Brain Cells!

It is February and the nights are growing noticably shorter.
     It is lighter in the mornings and stays lighter longer in the evenings and the birds are certainly recognising this. It is nice to hear the dawn chorus in our garden, with one particular blackbird who seems to start it off. He is loud, proud and full of song and inventiveness and his voice seems to over-top all the others.
     This time last year I went for my first cataract operation and I still remember the wonder and amazement at the difference this made. The sharp crispness of objects, but above all the brightness of the colours of everything!
     I think this was the re-awakening of my love of colour, when I just had not realised how muted and misty my world had become.
     And it was the colours of wool, which somehow really called to me.
     At first I wanted nothing but strong and bright colours. Pale colours, pah! I'd had enough pale and watered-down shades, I wanted vibrant, deep, rich colours, colours that were proud and bold!
     Then, late last year I took a hand knitted blanket apart and it had been knitted using up all pale coloured yarns. These were made even paler because the knitter had used two yarns together usually a pale colour and white, making the overall effect even paler.
     When I had taken it apart I had loads of wool and I wanted to make something with it - and the large blanket of squares I came up with used the juxtaposition of these shades, plus the occasional deeper hue, which turned out to be far more colourful than I had ever expected.
     A week or so ago we were watching a TV programme about healthy living - now I freely admit that while watching these kinds of programmes I feel I ought to be eating a hunk of fatty meat, enhanced with a giant bag of potato crisps and washing it down with beer or a gallon or two of strong red wine. Anyway, the presenter, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, was advised that as we get older and our brain cells start dieing off, that one of the ways to stimulate the brain and encourage new brain cells to be created (yes, we can make more!) was to take up a hobby such as knitting or crochet.
     Apparently learning a new skill can help the brain create cells and learning both new stitches and how to read knitting and crochet patterns and translate the strange shorthand into something understandable, will increase both brain activity and cell renewal.
     So by learning crochet over the past year, I was actually doing myself good in more ways than one.

     Incidentally taking up any new hobby, or developing an existing one can also do the same thing. Painting or any kind of art or craft, particularly those which need hand eye co-ordination are also good ones.

Monday, 3 February 2020

The Genealogy of Bride

When I was writing the last Raven Newsletter it was just at the end of January, just before the festival of Imbolg. The logical thing to write about would have been the Goddess associated with this festival: Brigit, Bride, the White Goddess, or even Mary of the Gaels. But I decided against it as I thought I have written about her loads of times, and very often at this time of year.
     So instead I limited myself to a couple of pieces about Bride from the Carmina Gadelica collected by Alexander Carmichael, one of which is:

The Genealogy of Bride

The genealogy of the holy maiden Bride,
Radiant flame of gold, noble foster-mother of Christ
Bride the daughter of Dugal the brown
Son of Aodh, Son of Art, Son of Conn,
Son of Crearer, son of Cis, son of Carina, Son of Carruin.

Every day and every night
That I say the Genealogy of Bride
I shall not be killed, I shall not be harried,
I shall not be put in a cell,  I shall not be wounded
Neither shall Christ leave me in forgetfulness.

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown me,
No arrow of fairy nor dart of fay shall wound me
And I under the protection of my Holy Mary
And my gentle foster-mother in my beloved Bride

The Genealogy of Bride is a very Celtic prayer. It reminds us of the time before writing, when one of the functions of the Druids, the Celtic priesthood, was to remember the genealogy of the kings and nobles of the tribes. The Genealogy of Bride quotes nine generations, which would be memorised and added to as children and grandchildren were born. How many of us can go back more than a couple of generations in our own families, without doing lots of research on the internet etc? Yet here we have nine generations listed which tie Bride closely into her Celtic ancestry.
       But this is essentially the christian version of Bride, the saint who took over all the attributes of her Pagan self. Even so there are some strange anomalies in the legend of this 'person' Bride who became a saint. She is called the 'noble foster-mother of Christ' which would be a physical impossibility for a human born in the 5th century c.e., yet there are many references to her helping or accompanying the Virgin Mary, and in some cases she takes over the attributes of the Virgin and is known as Mary of the Gaels.
     These all reveal a very ancient and well loved Goddess who simply could not be suppressed when christianity became the dominant religion.