Pilgrimage

So today I have went for a day out walking on Dartmoor. If anyone has seen the film Earth Pilgrim by Satish Kumar, you will know he refers to his visits to Dartmoor as a pilgrimage. There are good reasons why. Heading up to that barren landscape dotted with million year old rocks surrounded by heather and gorse as far as the eye can see, it feels like you are entering another world – a spiritual place. Man has lived and worked on Dartmoor since at least the bronze age and so the land contains the memories of many ancestors. The moors are dotted with rivers, sacred places to honour the deity that is nature.

For me, my trips to Dartmoor are a pilgrimage – a way to learn about, honour and explore nature, quite often in a wild state. Climbing the rocks is a prayer, paddling in streams is a meditation and walking the expanses is worship.

Do you have any favourite wild places you visit as a pilgrimage, to honour the natural world around us?

Here’s a couple of photos from my pilgrimage today…

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Finally, here is a nice video about Dartmoor…

Celebrating the New Moon – August 2014

Ancient people’s considered the Moon to be a deity. For the Romans, she was the goddess Luna, while for the Norse and Anglo Saxons, he was the god Mani or Mona. Today is the New Moon. There are eight phases in the lunar cycle – from the new moon to the full moon and back again. The moon is very important for life on earth – especially for controlling the tides (natures recycling plan).

In ancient times, many cultures planned their calendars by the moon and there are still farming communities today who plant according to it. The metonic cycle of 19 years is the time it takes for the lunar and solar calendars to come together in sync and that might be why 19 years is mentioned in Druidry.

I think the best times to celebrate the lunar cycle are at the full moon and the new moon. The new moon is a great time for going stargazing and focusing on our relationship with the universe. It’s also a time for meditation and inner reflection. It is a time to look back over the past month to evaluate it and to make plans and goals for the next. Its also a time for cleaning your house or altar. Pouring a libation to the Moon at this time can also be a good practice.

In Hellenic Reconstructionism, the new moon is a very important time and three days of celebration are often held. The first day (the day before) is Hekates Deipnon, when one honours Hekate as bringer of life. Homes are prepared for the transition and it is a time of purification of self, home and one’s affairs. A meal offering is given to Hekate either on an altar or at a crossroads. Something is also given to those less fortunate. Meanwhile, the fridge and altar are also cleaned. Day two is Noumenia, the first day of the visible new moon, when Selene and Hestia are honoured. It is the start of the month so they ask for blessings on the household. The home is decorated with seasonal flowers and there is a big feast. It is also the time to create a list of goals for the month. Finally, the third day is Agathos Daimon when there is a libation to the personal household or family spirit (often personified as a snake) and prayers for continued blessings on the family. As it is also associated with Dionysus, the celebrations are finished with a small glass of wine.

There are many ways to celebrate the New Moon as Naturalistic Pantheists. Do you celebrate it in your practice? What do you do?

Sloe Gin, Hawthorn Berry Syrup and Rosehip Tea

So today I’ve spent my time getting creative and making some Sloe Gin, Hawthorn Berry Syrup and Rosehip Tea.

Sloe Gin

First take 400g of Sloe Berries – ideally a bit riper than mine..

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Split a 70cl bottle of cheap gin into two bottles equally and half the berries to each bottle…

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Next add 200g of sugar…

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The finished product – store for 2 months. Mine should be ready in time for Samhain!

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Rose hip Tea

Making Rose hip tea is very easy.

First get 10 fresh rose hips. Cut the ends off and cut them in half with scissors. Use a small spoon to remove the seeds and hairs (an irritant) from inside. Next put them in a pan with a cup of water and start heating up. When it boils, turn the heat down to a simmer for 20 minutes. It tastes delicious…

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Hawthorn Berry Syrup

Start by heating up your hawthorn berries in a pan until boiling (1 cup berries to 3 cups water), then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. The berries should lose their colour…

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Next mash the berries until they cant be mashed anymore…

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Now put some muslin/ cheese cloth in a sieve….

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Pour the Berry mixture through the cloth and sieve in order to collect the liquid in a pan below. Use a masher to squeeze the liquid through…

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Add the final ingredient – honey (1 cup for each cup of berries used) and stir until one consistency…

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The liquid should look like this…

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Now use a funnel to pour it into sterilised jars…

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The final product – 4 lovely jars of hawthorn berry syrup. Great for the heart, lowering blood pressure or a vitamin C boost to ward off colds. It will keep for 3 months…

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Wild Food Harvest 23rd Aug 2014

So, I went out and found a nice harvest of local wild foods growing. I’ll be turning them into remedies, jams and alcohol over next few days. Hopefully will find some apples and blackberry leaves tomorrow to add to the collection.

Here’s what I found…

Hawthorn Berries – these will make a good tonic for heart problems and/ or colds….

20140823_155914Elder Berries – there are only a few as they aren’t really ripe yet. I’ll go looking again in a week or two. Elderberries make a brilliant antidote that is apparently better than tamiflu for fighting the flu (and heals you quicker)…

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Rowan Berries – these are full of vitamin C and A, and the juice can be gargled for sore throats. They are good for digestive problems. I shall make a Rowan Berry marmelade…

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Rosehips – again only a few as many still need to ripen for a few weeks. These are great sources of vitamin C…

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Sloe Berries – these are for making Gin and contain lots of vitamin C. The leaves can help soothe throat ailments such as laryngitis and tonsilitis…

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Yarrow – not a berry, this can be used as a tea, or to reduce insects if put in a wardrobe. It is anti inflammatory and boost circulation…

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