Celebrating the Dark Season…

by Nikiah Seeds

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One of the things I try to pass onto the women that I work with is that ceremony does not need to be elaborate to be deep, powerful and effective. In fact many times it is in the simplest of ceremony that the most powerful things can arise.

It is with this intention that once or twice a year I host a spontaneous gathering of women, usually once in the summer in my Red tent and once in the fall close to Samhain in my home.

The gathering is always small and made up of students and friends, and deliberately kept very casual, or at least that is what those invited think, until they arrive at my door!

There is no pretence, no exclusivity as the invite list usually has no rhythm nor reason, and one may get an invite after meeting me once or after having known me for many years–that is the fun! The only criteria is that women come and gather and the number of us be able to fit in my tent or kitchen.

For the fall gathering we are always working with the ancestral realm, and to this end guests are asked to bring a food dish that their ancestors would have traditionally made for sharing, as well as a small keepsake or item that holds a special memory for them of a family member in their ancestral blood line.

This year I decided to write a small blog post on our celebration in hopes that it may inspire some of your own gatherings. it is my greatest hope that one day I will be able to make this annual evening a larger event open to any that may wish to join us!

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I write this post a few days after the Dark moon of October….

The day dark and it is raining hard outside, but tucked inside my cozy home have a pot of spicy chai going and I am cooking up a feast of foods that my Ukrainian ancestors would have loved.
I know my guests are all doing something similar as they prepare for our evening of sharing food, ancestral stories and witchcrafting.
it always begins with food, because this is at it’s core an intimate act–it is ceremony and love, and in my opinion it is everything to a proper ceremony, as it nourishes and grounds and gives the gathering the proper feeling of celebration that is important after the intensity of holding the container of ceremony.

Our ceremony this evening is simple in form, but also sacred so I will not be sharing what was spoken, but I can say that we gathered to share the stories of why we each choose our specific food dish, and the stories of our small ancestral items that each have been placed lovingly on the altar.
These stories carry the weight of who we are and where we come from, some hold great sadness and some great joy, but all were worthy of hearing and each woman was given the time she needed to speak her ancestral truth.

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We lit candles for loved ones gone and for things in our lives that also have left us feeling bereft or grieving that we are working to let go of…

In between we created a plate of food for the ancestors and placed it lovingly on the altar and then feasted and talked as women do, we shared stories and tears and of course there was much raucous laughter…

Finally somewhere close to 10:00 in the evening, we have settled down at the table, our bellies full, and with cups of tea in hand, and I begin to share some old folklore about gathering and witch crafting.

I have placed small bottles of homemade pomegranate Hawthorn herbal vinegar out for each woman and small red painted altars that hold Rowan berries, black glass beads, and sculls for stringing rowan berry talismans to hang on doorways for protection…

We begin with the vinegar and each woman adds the ingredients she feels she needs now into their bottles. Everything has some small piece of old folk lore or meaning, both for physical health and for spiritual health.
Each herb that is added is a part of the table setting, so sprigs of rosemary, thyme, oregano Hawthorn berries, bay leaves and other nourishing herbals are scattered literally into the table decorations so they are easy to reach, and thus each woman can create something specific for her constitution in the moment. When we are done each holds a healing magical bottle to her heart and blows intention into it so that it is ready for her when she feels she needs a small nip of healing magic to fortify her.

After this I hand out needles and red thread and we all settle into the creation of Rowan berry strings as protection talismans for our homes.
Each woman makes hers a little differently, some are heavy with berries and others ave more of the black beads and sculls, some feel delicate and some heavy and strong in their meaning.

Once done many exclaim at the time for is well past bedtimes and bodies beginning to feel the toll of the week, for it is Friday after all and bodies are yearning for bed.
The circle begins to close down then, and we all wander over to the altar and each woman adds her rowan talisman to it to wait until it is time to finally go..

The evening winds down with many hugs, lots of bustle, and tidying up, the the candles are left lit and the lights are still dim, so as not to detract from the ceremony that is still happening right up until each woman wanders out and into the night on her way home…..
SOUL CAKES:

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This kind of gathering is not complete unless it has soul cakes in my opinion, as this is where the humble origins of Halloween and trick or treating come from, and although I do not ask for a trick or treat, nor blessings for my “sins” in return for sharing soul cakes, it is fun to hand over these sweet little cakes at the end of the evening.

As you can see above, for this gathering I made both small soul cakes and a large ancestral cake, one for eating that night and the small ones for taking home–both from the same recipe.
My recipe has been changed and adapted to my tastes, and what feels seasonal to me, which is to say that although the traditional soul cakes were more like small fruit cakes made with dried currents and fruit, mine carries the flavours of my winter.. which is dark chocolate spicy ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as dark rich molasses and the use of acorn flour to create a nutty rich texture and autumn taste.

Traditionally crosses were added to the top representing “alms” which is a way of representing “giving” as an act of virtue. This is where Christianity and the old pagan ways intersect, as if we go back far enough we see that traditionally they were set out with a small glass of wine as an offering for the dead, which is why I always mark my wee soul cakes with small candy bones and create more of a traditional Celtic cross shape..

Soul Cake origins:
Traditionally poor children would go out into the village asking for soul cakes, at the beginning of the winter season, this was when things were becoming scarce and people still generous from the harvest would have the ingredients to make these cakes with.
What they represented though is far more dreadful, for they originally were cakes laid out for the dead, and if you took a soul cake you were essentially offering to pray for the sins of any soul who had recently passed in that household. This is why the poor children would do it.

When asking they would sing this song, which as you can see here has been changed from the traditional masculine form to a more accurate feminine form….

Oh and it never hurts to hear Sting singing it, as this is by far my most favourite version!

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Video: https://youtu.be/bu8H5rA9HuA

Recipe for Dark Rich Chocolate Soul Cakes:
1 cup acorn flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour or Gluten free flour
1 cup dark dutch coca powder
2 eggs- or for a vegan recipe add 1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup milk or almond milk etc.
​1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or other herbal vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp dark molassis
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp cardamom 
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp grated ginger fresh or dried ginger powder
2 tbsp vanilla extract-optional

Mix dry ingredients together first then wet ingredients and mix well–slowly mix the dry into the wet until folded together.
Bake at 350 for about 20 min’s for small cakes or 45 min’s if making in a bundt or cake pan.

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Blessings of the changing season to you!

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Softness, Slowness, Stillness,
I am beginning 2023 on this note, and I am also...
Ditching the Gregorian calendar for the lunar one and easing into what 2023 will bring me..
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In part this means that I am taking it slow, sleeping and swimming and continuing to spend some time away from social media, for another week at least. I am also wanting to start this year out slowly because I am amping up for some big changes in 2023 which will take a lot of work and movement, as well as some exciting travel and other plans that are filling up the year fast!
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One of my favourite things to do each year has been to work with a word. Last year my word was mastery, which I believe was also my word for the year before, and which will probably be with me my whole life.
However this year there is no burning sense of a word that is pushing through like in past years, and I am guessing that is because I am still in transition in many ways.
Perhaps transition is my word!
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2023 will bring some big exciting moves, such as selling our home in Vancouver and some other exciting big things that I will share as they come into form.
Knowing this now though has me feeling a mix of excitement and also a bit of unsteadiness as I go into a new year knowing now that more change is coming, even if it is good, exciting stuff!
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Do you choose a word for your year? If not, is there something that you like to do that supports your soul as you move into another calendar year going forward?
I would love to hear.
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Today I am dreaming up a new line of weaving work that I am excited to begin and taking it slow...
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Blessings for 2023 everyone!
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Image taken by @_infinitebody_
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#newyear #wordoftheyear #stillness #quiet #transition
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Today I make offerings to my ancestors thanking them for this life I have.
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I recently found out on the cusp of my trip to Ireland that my great grandmother was originally booked on the Titanic!
Sadly/happily her mom got really sick and she missed her boat, deciding to take the next one instead in order to be at her moms side.
It was because of this that I am here, and because of this she came to Canada.
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It is for this reason and a million other things that went into my existence, that I am so grateful for all of my ancestors for.
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I am also thankful today because both of our kids are officially here, making it in time between the winter storms taking over Vancouver and Toronto!
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Yuletide blessings
Nikiah
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I have been in love with this beautiful book by my friend @carmenspagnola.
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It’s been wonderful to use it for inspiration and recipes during this Yuletide time.
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Today I am planning to make some cookies to share with my ancestors and family as we slide into this beautiful liminal space.
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What you you all doing? Send me some inspiration! 🌀
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Lots of love
Nikiah
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The longest night of the year, brings the return of the sun, also marking the beginning of the tile referred to as Yule.
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From Dec21st -Jan1st we mark the 12 days of yuletide which I love.
For me it’s all about setting intentions, making offerings and visioning for the year ahead.
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Each day for 12 days I might do any one of those things, as I like to keep things simple and in the realm of practical magic.
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Today, the winter solstice I begin with intention setting and spending time with family as is the tradition in our bodies.
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We share a big meal together, then light a fire and write either an intention for the year ahead or something we are ready to let go of and give it to the fire along with offerings and a lovely Yule log.
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Lastly we exchange small handmade gifts and I always get everyone a new set of comfy pj’s ❄️
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Over the years as our kids have grown I to adults they too have taken over the tradition and made it their own, so while our daughter is not here this year as she is knee deep in exams I know she and her roomies will mark the day in their own way.
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I would love to know what some of your traditions are or perhaps if you are new to creating your own tradition here what are your plans?
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#yuletide #wintersolstice #traditions #ritual #babayaga #winter
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Winter Solstice shawl.
This is my last shawl of 2022 and I am thrilled with how it came out, so much so I have been deeply tempted to keep it!
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This one invokes images of quiet snowfall, winter nights cozied in and the softness that snow can bring to the landscape.
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I was also inspired by winter foxes that change their colour for winter, and snowy owls in quiet flight over the landscape...
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This piece is now listed and available in my online store--link in my bip if you are interested.
Much love
Nikiah
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#solstice #wintersolstice #sacredshawl #weaving #snowyowl #foxmedicine
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Loom as altar.
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Since the fall I have been going daily to my loom as a form of spiritual practise.
However it was not until recently that I have been able to find the words for it.
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In many ways weaving has become a form of spiritual practise for me, and although I am still deepening into my own understanding of what it is to me, for now, this is what it has become in it purest most simple form.
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Today a new storytellers shawl came off the loom and with another already in my mind to start taking form..
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This piece holds a similar energy to one I made a few months ago, holding the essence of dragonflies and hummingbirds…
But mostly it was made for the king winter months as we cozy up by fires and in warm homes and read books or if we are lucky we tell or listen to great stories!
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I will list this piece in my online store sometime tomorrrow..
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In the meantime a new one shall take its place in full winter whites..
I am feeling the call of the white fox, and the white winter owl..
These two hold a kind of magic as they shape-shift from one colour into winter white so they are camouflaged against the snow…
More on that to come as the piece takes form.
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Also I would love@to know-do you have a hobby or creative outlet that borders on spiritual?
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Lots of love
Nikiah
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#storytellers #hummingbirdmagic #dragonfly #sacredshawl #weaving
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GIVEAWAY EXTENDED TILL MONDAY!
WINNER IS @copperwildpottery
This is just a little reminder of our awesome giveaway that is happening right now and ends on Monday Dec 12th!
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@carmenspagnola and I have paired up to give away a copy of her fabulous new book @thespiritedkitchen and I am giving away another of my 10” Red Drums.
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Here is how you enter:

1. LIKE this post and leave a comment tagging a friend-or two for extra entries!
2. FOLLOW @redmoonmysteryschool + @carmenspagnola
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And for even more entries:
SHARE the Podcast episode 'Embracing Sovereignty at Midlife with Carmen Spagnola and I /Nikiah that was released on June 10th 2022. {Link in bio}
Be sure to tag us so we can see! (You can do this by taking a screenshot of the episode in your podcast player or sharing directly from Spotify to your stories)

TERMS & CONDITIONS:
- Only one winner will be selected
- Giveaway will run until 11:59 EST December 12th 2022
- Winner will be randomly selected and announced on our stories by Dec 12th 2022
- Giveaway limited to US and Canada
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#giveaway #ancedtralhealing #kitchenwitchery #reddrum
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I had a little “reel” fun with this one, especially using this song :]
Anyways this is a little update on my Earth Ochre shoulder stole/Altar cloths as I have made two more which are now listed on my site.
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These pieces are inspired by my time in Ireland and the stunning red ochre I saw there while on the coast of Northern Ireland in an area called the Giants Causeway.
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These two pieces were created to be worn either as a shoulder stole for ceremony or beauty, you get to decide, and are easily transferable to your altar, for ceremony or beauty-haha you decide!
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Each comes with a small vial of hand ground red earth ochre in a vial, which can be used for making paint, or using in ceremony. Your package will come with a recipe for making earth ochre paint.
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Hope you love these pieces as much as I do!
Nikiah
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#ochre #redearth #ceremony #altar #priestesspath #weaving #ancestors
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Weaving another red ochre earth alter cloth/shoulder stole on my Saori loom.
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These looms are from Japan and their name Saori, in Zen means beautiful imperfection. “Sai” means everything has its own unique dignity and “ori” means weaving.
These looms were designed to support more humans weaving in a counter to all of the machine made cloth. They were designed so that they were accessible to every body, meaning that folks with disabilities can use them with as much success as able bodied folks which I love.
The whole point is Saori weaving is to be the antithesis of machine made cloth, and to embrace the perfect imperfection of human made beauty.
This to me is my kind of loom, and philosophy.
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My teacher Yukako has been slowly teaching me the ways of this loom for the past couple of years and I am loving how different it is from my rigid heddle loom.
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SAORI's 4 Principles

1. Consider the differences between people and machines.

2. Be bold and adventurous

3. Look out through eyes that shine

4. Inspire one another, and everyone in the group
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I have a few beautiful wall hangings listed in my online store in celebration of earth ochres if you fancy a peek and this one will be listed next week at some point as well.
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Have a beautiful weeekend everyone!
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Nikiah
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#redochre #earthochre #saori #weaving #ancestralwisdom
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Ochre has fascinated me for years now, from the vast amount of colours and shades that occur naturally depending on the mineral make up of the soil to how we as humans have used it over the centuries, from body point, to fine art, from sunblock for the skin, to cave wall paintings...
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However it was not until I travelled to Africa and saw the deep red earth there that I actually understood and began using it in its many applications.
It was from that trip where while staying with family I scooped up a large handful of red soil from outside my cousin-in-loves house that had been exposed due to construction and really had a deep look at it, and in turn she helped me to make offerings and then pack it away in a small zip lock bag so I could bring some small piece of this sacred earth home.
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From that soil there were many ceremonies and of course paint was made and used in turn was given away to my students as we worked through a year of ancestral healing for which red ochre was used in a powerful ceremony of forgiveness...
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So you can imagine my delight when I was recently away in Ireland on an ancestral journey when I came across the stunning swath of open red and black earth along the coast of Northern Ireland in an area called the Giants Causeway.
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Once back home I found myself in a liminal time of flow and creativity in particular with my weavings...
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Interestingly enough I had already started a weaving before I left using black and red yarns that reminded me of earth ochre, so upon returning home this piece {which is now listed as an altar cloth in my online store} was what started it all...
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For this piece though, I wanted to weave layers that represented the layers of earth, and how when the earth opens up we are able to see all of the many things that go into making soil such as plants, insects, sea creatures, mammals, and abiotic materials factors, like minerals, water, and air and how each one will create a different colour of soil.
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I now have a small and growing number of altar cloths, and wall hangings available in my store all affordably priced so folks can enjoy them, or perhaps gift them as we slowly make our way into the giving season.
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We are home again from our epic time away in Ireland and in all my years of travel I have never once been sad to come home until now!
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Ireland, the home of my ancestors has completely captured my heart and I felt at home the moment I arrived.
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Now that I am back and integrating all that happened while I was away I am feeling a little blue, it was healing to sit with some of the images from our time and put together a little reel.
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Some of the places you will see here {In order} are:
Sliabh na Caillighe otherwise known as the Hill of the Witch or Loughcrew cairns, where we were totally alone and able to connect in a way that would have otherwise been impossible.
Bru na Boinne/ Newgrange which even at this time of year had tons of people visiting the site and again we found ourselves with a smaller group which was wonderful. The Hill of Tara which in one of the photos has the stone of Destiny in, and Uisneach, otherwise known as the centre of ireland.
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We then went up to Northern Ireland to the Giant’s causeway on the wild coastal shores and the Dark Hedges which are amazing shots of the trees.
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Northern Ireland is where some of my more recent ancestors are from and it’s been powerful to spend time here on the land and to take it all in.
The ruins are from an old Castle called Dunluce.
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It was a joy to plan this trip, rent a car and then drive from Dublin to Northern Ireland stopping along the way to see things as we were called, I am blessed to have been able to do that.
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I was able to lay offerings for my ancestors and in a small way come back home to where some of them are from. I also learned a lot about my family, such as learning that my great grandmother had a 3rd class ticket for the Titanic leaving from Belfast, but because her mother fell ill she stayed close to home and as a result, I am here today and she came to Canada!
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My heart is now a little bit here and a little bit in Ireland and I am already planning my next trip back!
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Have you ever been altered by a place you travelled to?
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#ireland #travel #sacredsites #ancestors #ancestralhealing
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The Willow Tree (Salix) is one of the sacred trees in The. Magic and Folklore of Trees course and yesterday I found this ancient willow tree on the land we are staying on here in Ireland, which I just had to share!
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Willow trees are associated with water and emotion, the moon and inspiration, which I must say seeing and being near this ancient Willow was beyond inspiring for me.
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In the course I share some of the folklore of this magic tree, as well as practical applications such as did you know that Willow bark has been used for millennia for fevers, inflammation and pain? Chewing the bark of the white Willow tree which contains Salicin which is a chemical similar to aspirin and in the 1800’s the bark of the Willow tree was used by scientists to help them develop aspirin.
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Willow is also associated with dreaming and it is said that if you have lost touch with your dreams making a small Willow wand and placing it under your pillow will help, or you can make a dream pillow with things like Mullen and small pieces of Willow bark to use.
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While I have been away here in Ireland the trees have captured my heart and soul especially the willow, and hawthorn which are planted as hedges here and as such are everywhere and full of brihh go t red berries..
I will write a post on hawthorn next though as I have so much to say about what some say is the most sacred tree in Ireland.
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If you are curious about the Magic and Folklore of trees course pop over to my site and download a free sample chapter. ♥️🌳🌲🌳
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What is your favourite tree? Mine changes but for many years now it has been the Hawthorn.
#sacredtrees #willow #folklore #witches #ogham
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