Thursday 1 March 2012


If you're Welsh - you'll know what this special day is. If not St David is Wales' patron saint and today, 1st March, is his Feast Day. All over Wales, children will be dressing up going to school, people will wear daffodils or leeks and favourite foods may be eaten. Welsh cakes are a particular favourite and so easy to make. The picture in the calendar is of one of Wales' beautiful beaches - why go abroad?

St David - or Dewi Sant as he is known in Wales - was a 6th C monk who became a bishop. Before he was born his father, a prince of Ceredigion, which is a part of Wales, had a dream in which an angel told him that if he went down to the River Teifi he would discover three treasures that would fortell the life of his unborn son, a stag, a salmon and a swarm of bees. these three are sacred creatures of the Celtic animal kingdom and they bring the gifts of spiritual power, wisdom and sweetness.

Despite his high rank in the Church, David and his monks lived a life of simplicity in West Wales, wearing nothing but animal skins, labouring in the fields cultivating bees and caring for the poor and sick. The last advice he gave his followers before his death was to pay attention to the "little things" in life rather than get caught up in th eillusion of grand gestures. His saying "Gwnewch y pethau bychain" "Do the little things" is a well known phrase in Welsh and has proved a timeless inspiration and a recipe for peace of mind.

Saint David's Day is a day of Welsh national and cultural pride all over the world. The flag of Y Ddraig Goch, the Red Dragon, will be flying high and festivities include singing dancing poetry and wearing of the daffodil or leek. Thanks to Mara Freeman from her book Kindling the Celtic Spirit for the information on St David.

Tuesday 28 February 2012


I'm a bit behind with my Pagan Blog Project - that's because I've been doing some reading and lots of thinking.

The reading has been many of the other blogs involved in the PBJ and the variety of topics they cover, but this has led me to doubt myself on this pagan path. I was brought up within an Irish Catholic household - not very conservative as some might be, but enough. I carried on thinking the same way until my 30's - and it wasn't until I was living in America and came across a book that I started to think there may be another way. I got hold of all the material I could find and the more I read the more I felt at home with a pagan/earth base way of life. As is often the way when you set out on a new path, I met someone else along the way who could help and guide me. She and her family had been on this path a lot longer than me and she could help with with some of the questions I came across. A real dilemma for me was Christmas and the singing of all those Christmas Carols. As a singer - there was never going to be a time when I wouldn't sing them but I found it hard to reconcile the words with what I believed. My friend told me not to be so anxious - go ahead and sing them and enjoy the tradition they brought.

Now recently I have been reading so many blogs which talk about things I find hard to believe in - I still have this other head on my shoulders which says to me "really? you can't really believe that?" - as an example - I know that the moon is really a rock travelling in the atmosphere and can it really be "drawn down" and do I really believe that by doing so I will have a spiritual encounter? I have a hard time meditating, I cannot switch off - I never "see" things or "feel" anything other than my head spinning round my "to do list" for the day. I'm a Taurean, my feet firmly on the ground, in the ground and I find it difficult to move on from the seeing is believing mantra.

I am more comfortable with some parts of the pagan lifestyle than others, I am a solitary having never met another pagan since my friend in the US and now I'm back in the UK I don't think I would feel comfortable within a coven even if I could find one in my area. Can I call myself a witch? I don't really think so - I live by the creed, I give a nod to the festivals, I have an altar, but as with my Catholicism I am a lapse.

I'm not sure whether joining in with the Pagan Blog Project is going to be good for me or not. I'd love to hear if anyone else ever has doubts.


Friday 10 February 2012


I've been racking my brain all day to think of something I wanted to write about for the C project today - this has proven to be such a popular letter with so many varied and interesting things being written - most of what I wanted to cover had already been written. And then it came to me - the one C word that is closest to my heart is Cats. I adore them - I have three of them and would have more if hubby would let me.

My familiar cat - Felix - however I lost nearly two years ago. He was my boy - he'd been with me for 17 years and I still feel lost without him. None of my others have taken his place - they are not familiars they are just cats and I suppose I'm lucky they choose to live with me. I've always had an affinity to cats - from my very first black cat when I was 8 years old. A feat in itself as my father would not allow animals in the house but somehow I managed to sneak her in and she stayed with us until the age of 13. When I had my own house I had another black cat - Holly but he only stayed with me for 9 years, then came Felix, then Megan, then Pepper, then Oscar.

Let me introduce you to my cats:

Felix (RIP) and Pepper Age 4

Megan - our old girl now age 14

Oscar - new cat on the block age about 3

What is it about cats? My husband is definitely a dog lover - we have a dog and I love her too - but dogs are just so dependent on you - my husband loves the attention a dog gives - I love the attention a cat gives cause you know they don't give it away lightly - so you must have earned it! My husband loves that the dogs comes when she is called, I love the independence of cats - it speaks to me as an independent woman. I find them so relaxing to look at - they look so comfortable when they are asleep - so elegant when they walk, so powerful when they hunt, so at one with their surroundings if you let them experience the outdoors. My cats are free to enjoy what the Goddess has made for them, they love lying in the sun, yes they even play in the snow, they come and go as they please. They are the ultimate pleasure seekers - have you ever watched a cat settle itself down on to some fine soft fabrics? Domesticated they may be - but tame? Who hasn't owned a cat and suffered at one time or another from the slash of its claws - and watch that tail - its mood is written in its tail. Ignore it at your peril! lol!

Historically attitudes towards cats parallel those toward women: when women have been respected and honoured cats are beloved and even deified; when women are perceived as dangerous cats have been degraded and demonized. No other animal in the Western world is as identified with witchcraft as the Cat, particularly black cats. These poor animals are still the hardest for cat rescue centers to find homes for.

The most famous sacred cat is Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess who cult became so popular it even eclipsed that of Isis. The Egyptians built a great temple to Bastet at Bubastis which was set on an island surrounded by water except for the entrance passage. The shrine was 50 feet long and made of sparkling red granite set within an inner and outer enclosure. Bastet is a protective Goddess and is always gentle. However when roused to anger she transforms into the lion goddess Sekhmet. It was probably Bastet's link with cats that led to them being persecuted alongside women accused of witchcraft during the Middle Ages.

Ruins of Bastet's Temple

Ruins of Bubastis

"Other temples are greater and more costly, but none more pleasing to the eye than this." - Herodotus, Histories Book II, Chap. 137

One of the simplest ways to please Bastet is to show her special creatures care and compassion. Spend some time around cats, easy if you have some of your own but, even so, pay a bit more attention to your own cats. Draw or paint a cat on a circle, tape the circle onto a window so that the light of the moon can shine through - the moonlight will bring Bastet's gentleness in through your window.

Let me know if you're a cat person - I'd love to pop along and meet your feline friends.


Friday 3 February 2012

Pagan Blog Project/Pentacle Soaps


I've chosen my C to represent Celtic Roots. I am a child of Irish parentage going way way back, living in England, and longing to return to Wales! A lot of the customs I grew up with have a nod to Pagan ideas but my parents were staunch Catholics - my mother even more so as she grew older but the cross-over was very obvious. I grew up in England, never feeling I really belonged as my mum kept Ireland alive for all us kids although we didn't visit very often. When, at 18 I left home to go to University in Wales I felt as though I had come home. The Land of Song touched me in a way that has stayed with me ever since. My husband is Welsh, my children were born there but we moved away due to work in 1996. My daughter has found her way home to a Welsh University and my son this year is due to also go to University and has, again, chosen his home town Cardiff. My feet are itching to get back to my Celtic roots also.

But what does it mean to be Celtic. The great Celtic scholar Dr Anne Ross once said"Everyone with European roots can consider themselves of Celtic origin" People who are not directly descended from Irish, Welsh or Scottish families tend to think they have no Celtic roots but so many different European tribes contributed to the creation of the Celts that surely there is a touch of Celtic blood in all of us.

That said the Celtic countries, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany have become the guardians of Celtic culture. Great leaps and bounds have been made in the last 30 years with the preservation of the languages - my own daughter went to a Welsh speaking school up until the age of 5 and we had to move away. Even though I couldn't speak Welsh myself I wanted her to know the language of her ancestors - but life pulled us in a different direction. We know a little but not enough to get by.

There is a wonderful book called Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman which is full of ancient traditions, blessings, goddesses, gods, to last for a full year.

This weekend sees the start of the Rugby Union season - no where else can you feel and almost taste the passion of the Nations who bring their patriotism to a sporting field - with no trouble. Welsh, English, Irish, Scottish can all sit side by side and cheer on their chosen team, the atmosphere is electric. The camaraderie is a lesson to the rest of the world that you can be proud of your own heritage and allow others to be proud of theirs.

I've always been interested in essential oils and it was only a natural progression to discover more about them within the context of the Craft.

When I lived in America there was a wealth of products but here in the UK they are very few and far between. Having failed to find any decent magickal soaps I decided to make my own. I've given them away as presents to family and friends and had great feedback so have decided to start making a few more.

These Pentacle soaps are made with an organic soap base. The oils are what I call my Earth Oil collection - their properties are:

North - Winter - Power - Night - Mystery - Pentacle

ideal for this cold weather we're having in the UK at the moment.

The oils are Patchouli - Freesia - Neroli and Carnation. The fragrance is rich and exotic and smells wonderful on an altar or in your bathroom or even in your underwear drawer!

I will be selling these in my Folksy store - the link is on the right.

Now - how about another Bread Recipe - still on the Imbolc theme: This loaf uses poppy seeds as decoration to symbolise Imbolc but you could use other seeds, pumpkin or sesame

300 ml/1/2 pint milk
50g /1/2 oz butter or 1 tablespoon oil
15 oz yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
500g / 1lb plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 small beaten egg

Pre-heat oven to 220C, 425F or Gas Mark 7.
1. Place the milk and fat in a pan and heat until lukewarm.
2. Cream the yeast and sugar together, add a little of the warm mild and leave until frothy.
3. Sift the flour and salt into a warm bowl, pour in the yeast and milk mixture. Add the egg.
4. Mix to a soft dough, turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
5. Place in a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave to rise in a warm place for approx 30 minutes. the dough should have doubled in size.
6. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for as long as you can - at least 3 minutes. Shape the loaf to whatever shape you like or make into small rolls.
7. Place onto a greased baking sheet, cover and leave in a warm place until they have doubled in size (about 15minutes).
8. Glaze the rolls with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
9. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



Thursday 2 February 2012


Another recipe today in keeping with the Imbolc theme. This time its Moon Cakes. I've given the recipe in both cups and grams for UK and American visitors.

There are many variations of Moon Cakes but here's my take on them:

1 cup / 230 grams finely ground almonds
1 1/4 cups / 290 grams plain flour
2 drops almond essence - the real stuff not the fake rubbish!
1/2 cup/ 115 grams soft butter - not margarine
1/2 cup/115 grams soft brown sugar
1 egg yolk

Combine the almonds, flour, and sugar together. Mix in the butter, egg yolk and almond essence. Bring together to form a dough and chill for a few hours. Preheat oven to 325 F, 160 C, gas mark 3, lowest rung of top oven of an Aga with cold shelf above.

Pinch off pieces of the dough about the size of a walnut and shape into a crescent moon. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Decorate or serve plain.



Wednesday 1 February 2012


I am lucky enough to have a table in my lounge which is always set up as my altar. It is a lovely green wooden table I bought when we lived in Texas. This morning it is all set up with a white candle, my ever present hare statues and my crystals. My wand was made for me by my husband when on holiday in the mountains of Colorado in 2005. He whittled it and made the carvings for me - I've left it unadorned as I don't think it needs anything extra.

There isn't an awful lot in the garden at the moment but the snowdrops have done their thing and pushed their way up - at the moment its minus2 here so they are probably wished they hadn't. The little milk bottles were a present from a friend last year and they are just perfect for Imbolc celebrations. The picture at the back is from Wendy Andrew - and the image is Imbolc. It is a Wheel of Life and you can change the image to represent all the festivals. You will find them on Wendy's website -

I'd love to see all your altars - leave me a message and I'll come visit.



Happy Imbolc to you all.

I'd love to share this Imbolc card with you made by the very talented Wendy Andrew - if you're not familiar with her work check out her website

Will you be preparing a special meal for this evening's festivities? Here are some snippets regarding Imbolc which will be in my book Festivals and Feasts.

Imbolc has a few translations = some say it means "in the belly" as spring returns and the lambs are born. Others say it translates as "ewe's milk" but it is generally recognised that milk and dairy products are popular for feasting at this time of year. As the colour associated with Imbolc is white or pale pinks and greens, I also attribute white foods to my festival feasting. Spring greens are the perfect veg to accompany your feasts.

My menu for this evening will be:

Cauliflower Soup

Lemon Sole fillets stuffed with Smoked Trout served
with a leek and watercress sauce

Panna Cotta with blackberries (in my freezer from the autumn)

Elderflower Martini

Lemon Sole/Plaice

This is a very quick and nutritious meal to make - I use smoked trout as my husband is a fisherman and we have so much trout I never know what to do with it - but you could also
use smoked salmon. Lay a piece of smoked fish on top of a Lemon Sole or Plaice fillet and roll
gently. Use 2 pieces of sole per person for a main meal. Add some butter to a pan and melt with a little sunflower oil and add the sole to the pan together with a small drop of white wine. Leave to cook gently for about 5 minutes. Don't overcook the fish or it will become dry. Trust me, I know!

In the meantime make your sauce. Gently fry some onions and finely chopped leek in some butter and oil (you can omit the butter if you're thinking of your waistline) until soft - try not to colour them too much. Add the watercress or other green veg such as kale, spinach. You can then blitz the mixture until smooth. Add the cooking liquor from the fish and a drop of cream or creme fraiche. In larger portions this can also make a wonderful soup! Adjust seasoning to taste but be careful with the salt because of the salty smoked fish.

Serve your fish and sauce with some finely chopped spring greens. Enjoy!

Other food ideas include all dairy products, onions, chives, seeds, herbal tea, lamb, breads, spiced wine, soups, spring greens.

Herbs for this festival are Angelica, Basil, Bay, Blackberries.

Imbolc Celebration Ideas

Imbolc is the original time of the Spring Clean, both physically and mentally. Clean the house from top to bottom - get that besom out and whistle while you work! Open the windows and let the fresh air in. This is also the time when any old yule greenery would be burned. Use sage and lavender in boiling water to clean your house. Use vinegar and mugwort for windows and mirrors. Burn sage to cleanse the energies.

Burn candles or tealights as you go through the house to bring back the light of the spring. Please be careful burning your candles, I have suffered as a result of a burning candle in the past and its not pleasant.

Tie a small bundle of straw together with black ribbon - name each bundle for something you want to remove in your life and then burn it safely in your cauldron.


Spell work for Imbolc include the blessings of seeds for the forthcoming harvest. It is also a good time to clean and consecrate your agricultural tools, clean out that potting shed, get your pots ready for the bountiful veg and herbs and flowers you are going to produce this year.


Crystals associated with Imbolc are rose quartz, clear quartz, amethyst, citrine.

I wish you a Happy Imbolc.