Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Canadian Stone Henge?

Canada's Stonehenge: scientist says Alberta sun temple has 5,000-year-old calendar

By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press, January 29, 2009

EDMONTON - An academic maverick is challenging conventional wisdom on Canada's prehistory by claiming an archeological site in southern Alberta is really a vast, open-air sun temple with a precise 5,000-year-old calendar predating England's Stonehenge and Egypt's pyramids.

Mainstream archeologists consider the rock-encircled cairn to be just another medicine wheel left behind by early aboriginals. But a new book by retired University of Alberta professor Gordon Freeman says it is in fact the centre of a 26-square-kilometre stone "lacework" that marks the changing seasons and the phases of the moon with greater accuracy than our current calendar.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Imbolc Recipes

Thou Bride fair charming,
Pleasant to me the breath of thy mouth,
When I would go among strangers
'Thou thyself wert the hearer of my tale.

~Carmina Gadelica Volume 1 by Alexander Carmicheal (1900)

Around February 1st and 2nd there are various holidays observed, such as Candlemas and Groundhog Day, in our household we celebrate Imbolc (Imbolg).

Starting from the new moon before to the full moon afterwards there are various rituals and undertakings to make way for the upcoming year. The new moon is generally for banishment and cleansing, and the full moon is used to focusing on prosperity and new beginnings.

On Imbolc though we like to have some feasting and celebrations (something nice to look forward to with all the hard working going on!!).

Here are a few recipes for you all to try out, even if you don't celebrate Candlemas, Groundhog Day, or Imbolc. :)


Barm Brack

Feather Cake

Baked Custard

Rosehip Wine

Mulligatawny Soup

Blas Meala

Imbolc Butter Cake

Candlemas Crescent Cakes

Small Mead


Chykonys in Bruette



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Permaculturalist Sepp Holzer

Here are some videos featuring Sepp Holzer and amazing Permaculturalist from Austria. Enjoy :)

Farming With Nature - Permaculture with Sepp Holzer

Terraces and Raised Beds


The Agro Rebel



Monday, January 26, 2009

Wortcunning: European Rowan {Sorbus aucuparia}

Photo by AND12

Oh rowan tree, oh rowan tree,
Thoul't aye be dear to me,
Entwin'd thou art wi' mony ties,
O' hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o' spring,
Thy flowr's the simmer's pride
There was nae sic a bonnie tree,
In all the country side.
Oh rowan tree.

How fair wert thou in simmer time,
Wi' all thy clusters white.
Now rich and gay thy autumn dress,
Wi' berries red and bright
On thy fair stem were mony names
Which now nae mair I see.
But there engraven on my heart,
Forgot they ne'er can be.
Oh rowan tree.

We sat aneath thy spreading shade,
The bairnies round thee ran
They pu'd thy bonnie berries red
And necklaces they strang.
My mither, oh, I see her still,
She smil'd our sports to see,
Wi' little Jeannie on her lap,
Wi' Jamie at her knee.
Oh rowan tree.

Oh, there arose my father's pray'r
In holy evening's calm,
How sweet was then my mither's voiceIn the martyr's psalm
Now a' are gane! we met nae mair
Aneathe the rowan tree,
But hallowed thoughts around thee twine
O' hame and infancy,
Oh rowan tree.

Oh Rowan Tree, written by Lady Caroline Nairn, 1822.

I love all trees, but the Rowan is the one I feel that I resonate with most. This is probably largely in part of its beneficial properties that compliment my own spiritual workings and is a tree of my Ancestors; it is also the tree that is thought to rule over the time of year that I was born.

There are a few different species of Rowan, and for this post I am focusing on the European variety (Sorbus aucuparia).

Other Names: Mountain Ash, Luis, Wicken-Tree, Quiken Tree, Witch Wood, Rawn-Tree, Rudha-an.

Description: The European Rowan is a deciduous tree, and as its name suggests is native to most of Europe. However, it doesn't do so well in the far south, where it is pretty much only found in the cooler, high altitudes of mountains.

Although often called Mountain Ash, it is not an actual Ash, but is a member of the Maloideae family, with relatives such as Pear, Apple, and Hawthorn.

It is a rather small tree growing generally to about 9 to 14 metres in height. It has beautiful pinnate leaves that resemble that of the Ash, white hermaphroditic flowers, and bears red berries from which it gets its nick Rudha-an ('red one' in Gaelic).

Warnings: As with all herbs, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer.

It is reputed that if one ingests too many raw Rowan berries, it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, as well as diarrhea.

Cultivating: The European Rowan's natural habitat ranges from mountainous terrain, to open fields, and mixed woodlands. It flourishes in cold climates, and will not do so well in hot climates.

Saplings or seeds can be readily bought at nurseries and online. Plant in the spring once there is no more threat of frost. It grows well in just about any type of soil, from clay, loam or sandy. It can also be grown in acidic or alkaline soil, but make sure to keep soil moist.

Place Rowan seeds or saplings in full sun to partial shade, away from other trees. It is known to not like crowded conditions, but apparently grows nicely with Scotch Pine.

The flowers blossom usually in May, which are pollinated by insects. Berries are in their full glory in late summer.

From the book Flora von Deutscheland, 1885

Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore: Anitscorbutic, aperient, astringent, demulcent, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, haemostatic, laxative, vulnerary.

In Dragons and Dragon Lore by Ernest Ingersoll (1928), he claimed that 'The rowan (our mountain ash) stood among the ancient Celts as 'the tree of life' because wondrous medicinal virtues were believed to reside in its red berries'.

According to Brother Aloysius in Comfort for the Sick, Rowan sap was once used for vomiting and heavy bleeding.

Mrs M Grieve recommended 'a decoction of the bark is given for diarrhoea and used as a vaginal injection in leucorrhoea', and ripe berries for an 'astringent gargle for sore throats and inflamed tonsils'. She also noted of the ripe berries, 'For their anti-scorbutic properties, they have been used in scurvy. The astringent infusion is used as a remedy in haemorrhoids and strangury.'

On Heilkräuter-Seitin (a popular herbalist German website, which is translated into English), they list a whole slew of different medicinal uses for the Rowan, including for liver and gull problems; stomach complaints, constipation, and diarrhea; bronchitis and pneumonia, and that it is an all round good immune system builder.

Magical Properties and Lore: The Rowan tree has a rich history of folklore surrounding its magical properties.

It is reported that it was a sacred tree of the Druids, and that they would use the wood in fires of celebration and used the berries to dye their robes.

In the Ogham it is called Luis, and the symbol looks like this:

In the Celtic Tree Calender (probably just a creation of Robert Graves) Luis rules over the time period of January 21 to February 17. Because Imbolc falls within this time, many Pagans believe that the Rowan tree is sacred to the Irish Goddess Brigid.

Brigid and (apparently) the Rowan are both connected to creativity, especially poetry. In my experience Brigid loves an offering of poetry, so if you are facing some 'writers block' before making such as offering, try some Rowan gin (a link to the recipe can be found below in 'Other Uses') ;)

Rowan is also often associated with the Moon, the Irish Gods Dagda and Lugh, and the Norse God Thor.

In Survival in Belief Among the Celts by George Henderson (1911), he says, 'In Wales it was considered lucky to have a mountain ash growing near your premises. The berries brought into the house were followed by prosperity and success.'

Glennie Kindred in an old White Dragon article says, 'Its name is linked with the Norse word "runa", meaning "a charm", and the the Sanskrit "runa", meaning " a magician. Rune staves, sticks on which the runes were inscribed, were made of Rowan wood' and recommends Rowan wood for any type of tool for divination, such as a Ogham set, or for invocation and communication with the divine (Gods, Faeries, Ancestors, et. al.).

Another way to use Rowan for the purpose of divination is to use the dried berries, ground up in an incense. A local folk tradition is to throw Rowan berries in a fire to divine one's future spouse.

Perhaps one of its most potent uses is for protection, especially from Faeries with ill intent, 'evil' spirits, and from being blasted by a Witch.

In Wales sometimes women would wear the berries tucked into their bodices or girdles (Survival in Belief Among the Celts by George Henderson), and other people throughout Scotland and Ireland have been known to wear Rowan wood amulets or Rowan berry necklaces for protection against Witchcraft and the evil eye.

Other methods mentioned in Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments Astronomically Considered by Norman Lockyear (1906) are Rowan branches being placed in barns on the 2nd of May to protect livestock in Northern England and in the Scottish Highlands. As well, milkmaids and herders would carry branches or switches made of Rowan to protect livestock. In the Isle of Man on Bealtaine people would wear Rowan flowers in their hats and place them on around the house (especially at the tops of their doors) as 'preservatives against all malignant influences', and in Wales on May Eve farmers would place Rowan wood in their fields to protect their crops.

Robert Means Lawrence in The Magic of the Horse-Shoe With Other Folk-Lore Notes (1898) says, 'for the protection of cattle from the incursions of witches, not even the horse-shoe may assume to usurp the rowan's prestige. Branches of this favorite tree, when hung over the stalls of cows or wreathed about their horns, are potent to avert the evil glances or contact, whether of witches or malicious fairies. And their efficacy is enhanced if the farmer is careful to repeat at regular intervals the following fervent petition:--
From Witches and Wizards, and long-tailed Buzzards, and creeping things that run in hedge-bottoms, good Lord, deliver us!'

And finally, the following methods are from The Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland by Walter Gregor (1881):

'On bonfire night (1st May, O.S.) small pieces of rowan-tree and woodbine were placed over the byre doors inside the house. Sometimes it was a single rod of rowan, covered with notches. There is the well-known rhyme:--

The rawn-tree in the widd-bin
Hand the witches on cum in.

Another and even more effectual method was to tie to each animal's tail by a scarlet thread a small cross made of the wood of the rowan-tree; hence the rhymes:--

Rawn-tree in red-threed
Pits the witches t’ their speed.


Rawn-tree in red-threed
Gars the witches tyne their speed.'

Photo by Mnemo

Other Uses: Rowan berries are well-loved by a number of birds including Waxwings, Blackbirds, and Finches.

Rowan berries can also be enjoyed by humans, and are rich in vitamin C! Follow the links for some recipes!

Rowan Berry jam

Rowan Berry Sauce

Rowan gin

Rowan Schnapps

Rowan Berry Wine

Rowan Vodka



Luverly of the Week: Mystic Orb

This luverly is called Seer in the Woods Amulet

When I found Mystic Orb on Etsy a few days ago I was giddy. Their wares are so luverly, and perfect for tree-huggers and Pagans alike :)

They have mostly amulets and earrings, but they also have some boxes, journals, pipes, and other artwork. All of it is made by them. You can also find them at their home website by clicking here.

Here are a few more luverlies for your viewing pleasure:

Mandala Necklace

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Etsy Update

A few Etsy shop updates

I've been doing some 'spring-cleaning' of supplies and a few days ago listed a few destash items:

Ephemera destash:

Bead destash:

Filigree and decorative paper clips destash:

And I also listed some collage bookmarks:

'Words of Wisdom'

'Book Nut'

'An Enigma'



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Human-Scale and Low-Tech Tools for Homesteading

Clip art from

I have these old National Geographics from the late 1960's that have advertisements for old lawn tractors. There is one where there is a sexy young lady sprawled over one like it's a sports car; there is another one where there is an a guy lounging on the tractor like it is a hammock, with beer (!!!) in hand, and there is yet another ad where the same woman and man from the other two mentioned ads are together, and the woman (young, sexy and scantily clad) is kissing the man (older, slightly over weight).

These ads would be great fodder for Adbusters no doubt. Lawn tractors that will draw in supermodels?? Lawns big enough to be mowed on a tractor?? Lawns at all?

Unfortunately a quick browse through an online hardware catalogue will show that they are still being marketed for people's lawns...even in the midst of a global financial, food, and fuel crisis.

In all of this stupidity, there are plenty of folks with their heads screwed on right. There are great online catalogues featuring low-tech and human-scale tools for us to use, while we are trying to be more self-sufficient and better to our planet.

Obviously these tools will not be good for everyone in every homesteading situation (i.e. when dealing with a large area of crops), but I certainly think that it makes more sense to use a tractor for farming as opposed to cutting a lawn. I am also a huge fan of the idea of using horses for bigger jobs (another post!).

Here are some excellent resources to check out for more information:

'Human-Scale Tools for a Sustainable World', episode 67 by Peak Moment.

An article by Mother Earth News on the best low-tech tools for the garden/small farm.

Whenever possible, it is great if you can get handcrafted tools made in your area, or even made by yourself. However, that is not always possible for many of us, so here are a few great catalogues to check out:

Smith & Speed (featured in the Peak Moment video)

Homesteader Supply


Lee Valley


Richters (limited in the tool department, but check out pot maker! also excellent plant and seed selection)



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh Goodie, More Poisoned Food!


Article from CBC:

Snacks may contain salmonella-tainted peanut butter, CFIA warns

"Canadians should avoid various snack foods containing peanut butter that might be contaminated with salmonella, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has warned.

The tainted food products have been linked to at least six deaths in the U.S.

The peanut products under recall in Canada were distributed across the country, but the volume of products or exact locations are unknown, a spokesperson for the CFIA said Tuesday."

Read the rest of the article here.

They also have a list of products being recalled, and you can check out a new database created by the FDA for recalled brands and products here.



Monday, January 19, 2009

The Growing Challenge: From Seed to Seed

One Green Generation is having another growing challenge this year! From One Green Generation:

Why Grow Your Own Food?

1. Growing your own food tastes better and is more nutritious.

2. Gardening is a good workout and improves mental health.

3. By being outdoors among the elements, you can learn about local wildlife, appreciate small beauty, and become one with the seasons.

4. Growing at home reduces your carbon footprint and energy usage. By gardening organically, you eliminate the petroleum products used in farming equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, food packaging, storage, and transportation.

5. You can have fresh, local, organic produce all year long by planting a four-season garden – long past the day your local markets and farms close for the winter.

Why Grow Food From Seed?

1. To save money. It costs just a couple of dollars per packet for many seeds. When you plant starts from a nursery, you pay a lot more per plant. (Hint: if you don’t want a whole pack of seeds, share seeds with other gardeners to save even more money.)

2. For greater variety. The varieties of seeds available are nearly endless - the different flavors, colors, and growth paterns of tomatoes alone is astonishing.

3. To support sustainable farmers who bring you the seeds. You have the option of buying open pollinated, organic, biodynamic, sustainably grown seeds - supporting the environment and farmers alike.

4. To further reduce your carbon footprint. A small seed packet sent in the mail takes much less energy than a much heavier seedling (and its soil) that has most likely been transported long distances from its original home.

5. To become more self-reliant and adaptable to economic changes and energy supply issues.

Why Save Your Own Seed?

1. To save more money. You can grow crops for years without spending a cent on seeds!

2. For fun. There is certainly pleasure in nurturing a plant from seed, learning how it propagates, and actually harvesting the seeds. It’s quite empowering, actually!

3. To preserve biodiversity. By saving heirloom seeds that have been passed on through generations, you can help preserve important crop diversity.

4. To create new varieties with particularly desirable qualities. You can create crops uniquely adapted to your backyard microclimate. Also, you can select seed from the plants with better flavor, greater frost hardiness, earliest blooms, prettiest color, and more.

5. When you are entirely the master of your seed, you know where it has been, from what plant it originated, what has been sprayed on it, what soil it grew in, and important details about how it will grow in your garden.


Head on over and sign up for the Challenge!



Luverly of the Week: Under the Root

Ladies (and Gentlemen!), whether you are looking to give your pasties a twirl on stage or go have a frolic in the boudoir (or wherever your little heart desires), there will be something at Under the Root to adorn yourself in. ;)

They have an assortment of luverlies from burlesque inspired knickers to pretty scarves made from 'sustainable, recycled, and vintage textiles'.

One thing that is notably different about this shop (sadly, even for Etsy), is that they use different types of beautiful women to model their goods. And they are selling underwear!!

Head on over and take a peek!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Yes, I am certainly 'spiritual', and others would call me 'superstitious'. I believe that there are Those who protect us from harm; some people call the Spirit Guides, Totems, or Guardian Angels.

From my personal experience I have come to believe that Genius Loci can aid those who are stewards of certain areas, Ancestors and Totems can guide and protect you, and that it is possible to get this help from certain Deities.

Early yesterday morning I was having some coffee and reading an article online, while all of a sudden I got this strong pang in my stomach and heard in my ear 'Look yonder!' (heh, maybe reading too much Paxson!).

I stood up and looked out the window to my balcony (which faces a parking lot), and I noticed a strange flickering on the front end of a car not 20 feet from my balcony (we are on the ground level). At first I thought it was the headlights acting up, but then I saw that it was the beginnings of a fire.

The fire did get quite big, and if it had reached the gas tank, it would have least blown the windows out in my apartment. Not good if you were slumbering by a window, and not good when you have 4 cats in your family.

If it was one hour later, the sun would be almost up, and others would have certainly noticed it, but that was not the case.

The better half was calm and sane throughout the whole thing, and we got the kitties all packed up, and 911 was called. Our awesome firemen were here in less than 5 minutes and put out the blaze. Yay!

I feel terrible for the owner of the car. I would say it is completely unsalvagable. The car was quite old, and we figure it was probably the block heater (almost everyone is plugged in up here because it is so cold). Here are some photos (you can click to enlarge them):

I am just thankful that no one was in the car, and that no one was hurt.

Yesterday was a reminder that I do indeed have Guardians, and I am confident through blast and bane, myself and mine are well protected.



Thursday, January 15, 2009


It's quite a while until I will be able to get my hands dirty in a garden, but it is almost time to start ordering seeds. As previously mentioned, an organization I am involved with is working on getting a garden project here in North Bay started.

We intend to have plenty of veggies, there's already some fruit trees and berries, wild and native plants (there is a lot already!), culinary and medicinal herbs (some already), and some other flowers.

For this project I have saved up seeds from my balcony garden, and gathered some from a seed swap held at our local Farmer's Market.

So far I have seeds for:


Heirloom Winter Squash (I am not sure of the name. I also purchased a squash as well. The seeds and squash came from an Amish family, and is apparently often used in pies. It could have been Amish Pie Squash, but it more resembles a Golden Hubbard Squash or Pumpkin Squash.)

Uchiki Kuri Squash

Buttercup Squash

Early Wonder Beets

Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

Laxton's Progress Peas

French Breakfast Radishes

Bloomsdale Long-standing Spinach

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

Bunching Evergreen Onions

Coreless Nantes Carrots


Garden Sage


Lemon Balm





Curly Dock (I was told that it can be used as a green manure, but have yet anything to see on this. But, it does have some good medicinal properties.)

Sweet Cream Marigold

Woodland/Woodside Gold Columbine

White Columbine

Rose Queen Salvia

Sweet Woodruff

I've been pouring over catalogues and online stores to figure out what other seeds to get, and these are what I have my heart set on:


Brandywine Tomatoes

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes

Black Zebra Tomatoes


Lemon Cucumbers

Marketmore Cucumbers

Sumter Pickling Cucumbers

Northeaster Pole Beans

Scarlett Runner Pole Beans

Provider Bush Beans

Orca Bush Beans

Royal Burgandy Bush Beans

Mammoth Melting Sugar Snow Peas

Carouby de Mausanne Peas

Sugar Daddy Sugar Snap Peas

Bulls Blood Beets

Purple Dragon Carrots (thanks for the recommendation Ben!)

Atomic Red Carrots

Cosmic Purple Carrots

Golden Globe Turnips

Purple Plum Radishes

Ruby Red Chard

Fordhook Giant Chard

Dinosaur Kale


Yellow Crookneck Squash

Waltham Butternut Squash

Delicata Squash



Early Mizuna

Mixed Greens

Gold Rush Potatoes

Cheiftan Potatoes

Penta Potatoes




Common Comfrey



Purple Sacred Basil

Genovese Basil

English Lavender

Munstead Lavender

English Thyme

Wild Thyme

Italian Parsley

Moss Curled Parsley

St. John's Wort

Roman Chamomile

Common Vervain

Blue Vervain





Wild Bergamot



Red Garnet Amaranth


Butterfly Weed


Viper's Bugloss

Joe Pye Weed

Cupani Sweetpeas

Red Milkweed


Well, I am off to browse some more and daydream of green things!