Friday, 30 December 2011

Wishing you a all a Happy, New Year

Before I sat down to write to my friends in the Stonehenge group, all my friends and family and followers, I  a drew a card from John Matthew's Shaman Oracle to help guide my wishes for you all for the next year. It was the Ancestor of Skill,  so here are my wishes for you. 

I hope you will;

find a sense of balance and wisdom
and how to channel this into whatever tasks you undertake.
I hope you will uncover latent skills which imbue you with positive energy
I hope you will live skilfully and be grateful for the joyful in life
that you will dance when others run
find joy in the skills you already possess
that your life will be enriched by those around you.
whether there for a season, a reason, or a lifetime

I wish you a very Happy New Year, a year full of of learning, love, and kindness. Be easy on yourself and others.
With Reiki blessings and light

Merry B

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Holly Blue & Ivy, Gort in The Celtic Ogham

Ivy flowering in my garden
in December 2011
My garden is full of Ivy as until last week it  was heavily shaded by a 20 metre evergreen Pittosporum .  Ivy has grown up the fences  and  in the bottom third of the garden only Ivy flourishes on the East wall.  I loved its  glossy green leaves which are five lobed when young and as the Ivy matures and begins to flower the leaves change to a diamond shape.  The flowers grow in cluster and are green with yellow anthers and the fruits are black when they ripe inn early spring.  The fruit are loved by blackbirds, black capes and wood-pigeons. On sunny days in early spring the flowers  provides nectar for bumble bee  roused by the sun to come out of their warm nest.  It also harbours overwintering butterflies, moths, and spiders.   And in spring is a safe haven for the blackbirds to nest in and raise their young. 

In ancient hedgerow Ivy will clamber to the top of trees as it can grow up to thirty meters.  In one of the ancient woodlands I walk in the Ivy grows upwards and carpets the floor.  On the under side of the stems are  a thick mat of short roots, but it is not parasitic plant it is self supporting the red roots help it hold on  as it spirals to upwards.  In the Yew Grove at Kingley Vale ivy clambers amongst the yew where no other plant can tolerate the toxicity of the soil near yews.
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Holly Blue RSPB

Ivy and holly are bond together in ancient lore the ivy is the feminine and and emblem of the battle over sovereignty of the woods with holly, which is held to be masculine. Their relationship is linked not merely by carols and lore but in nature the holly and the Ivy share the nurture of  the beautiful Holly Blue Butterfly.  This beautiful butterflies emerge in March and can by seen flitting and basking high up on shrubs and trees.  In Spring the female Holly Blue will lay her eggs under the buds of a Holly tree.  Here the caterpillars will emerge after a week and eat the leaves of the holly, they prefer the female tree's leaves but will munch on the male tree as well.  In Summer the female Holly Blue will lay her eggs on or under Ivy flower buds  The caterpillars will feed on the Ivy leaf  and flower buds for three to four weeks.   Then Holly blue will pupate on the wood stems of the Ivy and overwinter there until they emerge the following spring. 

Early Spring and all Summer long this beautiful butterfly flit around my garden feeding on aphids' honeydew and salts from muddy ground.  In spring it is hard to tell the male and female apart.  the female has slightly thicker black edging to top of their wings, however, in summer the females emerging are a deep blue almost purple shade.  The males do not change colour.  both sexes have the same pale blue  under wings.   Wherever Holly and Ivy grow you will find The Holly Blue Butterfly.  Unlike many butterflies the Holly Blue is not endangered and it can be found in many gardens, churchyards, parks and woods.

Ivy is named Edihean in Welsh and  means Ivy for beauty.  In the  Celtic Ogham it is know as Gort.   Ivy often grows in a spiral as goes upwards to the sky and this is seen as representing growth and rebirth, and the cycles of lifeIvy even when cut back hard will regrow vigorously so to draw this few is guidance to be resolute in achieving a plan or task, or vigorous in the pursuit of an aim. It will also support the querent's spiritual journey   They Ivy has been seen as a plant of prophecy and is associated with the followers of  Bacchus And Dionysus.   But in the Celtic world, much closer to nature than we are,  could its reputation for helping  with prophecy be because of its important part in the life cycle of the Holly Blue Butterfly?   The colour of Ivy in the Celtic Ogham is gorm  - Sky blue -  the colour of the Holly Blue Butterfly.  Its  caterpillar after feeding  on the Ivy will change  into  a chryallis which clings to the woody stems for shelter from winters' chill and storms.   Finally in  early Spring it  transforms into a beautiful blue butterfly.  It is easy to believe it is a  magical messenger flying skywards taking messages to and from the otherworld.  

For the winter Solstice I will decorate the fire mantles with swathes of Ivy.  It will stay fresh for at least a week without water.  And  I will also decorate the Christmas table with Ivy twined with  flowering honey suckle .  The glossy evergreen leaves  of the Ivy and the fragrant flowers of the Honeysuckle are a reminder of the promise of  spring.

With Reiki blessing and light
to you all this Christmas
and a Happy New Year

Merry B

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A Windfall From A Tree

The blustery winds on Monday night came roaring down the chimney and I could hear the rain lashing against the windows but my house was warm and we were settled comfortably reading, listening to music or watching the TV.  At bedtime I heard a very loud bang had a horrible feel that I knew what it was but did not open the curtains. Pops my dog was in the backroom downstairs, I called to her and she whimpered and I could hear her making her usual apple pie bed. She was safe.

A living Pittosporum
Next morning after making a cup or tea I went up upstairs and gingerly pull open the curtains and looked out of the window laying across my garden and resting on my bay window was my neighbours neglected Pittosporum  shrub there were several thick trunks.  The tree shrub which had  grown very rapidly to 20 metres and had been gradually taking all the light from two thirds of my garden it had become  neglected and was  dying.  Several neighbours and I had spoken the couple with this shrub explaining  that the Pittosporum was  dying and was dangerous and taking light from all our garden but to no avail.  In March this year the husband, Colin, had actually lightly pushed the tree with one hand and it had swayed sideways  several inches. But they did nothing, expect his mother-in-law called to me when I was in the garden and to be told me to stop bothering them about the tree, and that I was a very nasty neighbour.  There was no point in arguing with her or her daughter Em.

Now it had fallen and into my garden and was resting on my bay window.  I was angry - no I was  hopping mad.  I slung on my clothes grab Pops put on her lead and out I went to speak to them.    Pops had to make several stops on the way  so I could not stomp round in a rush.  I started to calm down as I got to Em & Colin’s door.  When the Em answered the door I found she hadn't even noticed  that a large part of the huge 60 foot Pittosporum  shrub had gone down in the gale into my garden.  I was polite and asked that the tree be removed as soon as possible and the five foot wall re-biult, and any damage put right.  On  the agreement that her husband would come home at lunchtime to see what could be done,  and they would come round in the evening to talk to me, I left.

My neighbour Pete came round at lunchtime, he is a roofer and a very skilled bricklayer so he was the ideal person to save the day as I was talking to him in the back room the Colin came out of his house  and stood amongst the rubble of the wall.   Pete was able to talk to him and he agreed that Pete would clear the tree trunks out of my garden next day and cut down the remaining trunks to make it safe.   Pittosporum  being a shrub rather than a tree  had grown several thick trunks instead of one main trunk they were all unsafe and more gales were forecast for Thursday.

Pops enjoying the Sun
my plotat

So today I no longer have a huge 60 foot trunks of a dead  Pittosporum  in my garden. and the five remaining dead trunks have been made safe. The wall is still to be rebuilt but I am so blessed No one was hurt Pops was safe, There is no structural damage and my garden is full of sunshine for the first time for years.  The winter sun, at midday, poured across my garden and into my back rooms and spilled out into the hall and landing. My kitchen was filled light. My lovely south facing garden is a now blank canvas to ready for me to re-design.

While the Pittosporum was standing I had sent Reiki to it to knowing it was in a very dangerous condition. I hade ask Reiki to keep us safe and if did it fall to do so safely. The wind that brought it down was a South Westerly but from a different direction it could have crashed on to the back of Sophia’s house were there are small children sleeping. I also sent Reiki to the young couple whose garden had the tree.   They had only brought the house 18 months ago and were struggling with a new baby, financial worries and inherited the problem of the Pittosporum. When I went round on Tuesday I used Reiki and Pops gentle energy to help me keep calm.

The tree instead of crashing to the ground had slide gently down and underneath it many of my perennials and shrubs were battered but will recovered. The bird feeder and pots of bulbs ready for Christmas presents were smashed but that is OK.   Neither of my fences were damaged nor my house. My garden bench was in one piece. I am blessed. 

I hope the solitary bees and bumble bees wintering in my garden are safe and the mice that live  under the canopy of summer jasmine by the back wall.  Other people may have fairies at the bottom of their garden  but I have bees, moths butterflies, beetles and mice at the bottom of mine.

I am so grateful for the returning of the light to my home and garden and grateful to the Pittosporum,  neglected for so long,  for falling so gently in the gale.  I will celebrate the Winter Solstices with gratitude and smile at the thought of the returning of light and the sunshine it will bring flooding in to my home and garden.  We will also be celebrating Pops birthday on the 21st of December and she will love the sunshine in the garden in the coming months.

 Reiki blessing for the Winter Solistices

Merry B

Friday, 9 December 2011

Holly Folk Lore & Ogham

This is the season when I begin to decorate my house with evergreens ready for the winter solstice and Christmas. I have just cut myrtle and bay and filled a lovely handmade bowl with it. Next week I will add holly to it. This year the holly trees are full of berries not apparently a sign of the harsh winter to come but the sign of a good summer before the winter starts.

I love walking at Selbourne amongst the beech trees and often growing in the shade cast by these large stately trees are holly bushes. Holly can grow into an eighty foot tree or grow in hedgerow as it will tolerate shade. Holly is an evergreen  but is not self fertile and  both male and female trees are needed to produce the berries.  The holly produces tiny white flowers in May.  In early summer the leaves are soft  do not have spikes but by the Autumn the leaves have hardened and become prickly, perhaps, to protect it from browsing animals. By November the female tree will have developed its red berries.

In the Celtic Ogham Holly is the 8th tree and is symbolic of the life force evergreen and fruitful. It is the warrior king, male and strong. The holly is also a gentle tree the female red berries are associated with compassion and unconditional love. Holly wood is white, dense and strong. It was used by theCelts for the shafts of spears and for chariot shafts. Smaller pieces of the wood were carved or cut for clubs walking sticks, wands bowls, inlay and woodcuts.  Holly will give direction and balance in spiritual or emotional turmoil or challenge. In Astrology it is placed at the cusp of Saturn and Mars and its raw energy will burn through deceit and injustice.

The holly tree was known as holm in pre-Christian England. This noble but gentle tree was planted near house and farms to repel poison, wild animal evil spirits and lightening strikes.  It was also a tree that was supposed to be hated by witches. This spiritual warrior protects the natural world and should always be treated with respect, woodsmen were wary of cutting down a holly as fairies would be annoyed if it was mistreated and would seek revenge on the perpetrator.  Beware how you dispose of holly brought in to the home over Christmas, it should be by buried. composted, or burnt!

There are many folk tales poems and stories about holly. In  one of the Fianna folk tales ,  Fionn Mac Chal tells his son Oscar that:

"No fleshy heart was ever in my breast, but a heart of the Holly spike,

all over clad with steel.

Niall Mac Coitir

Fionn Mac Chal was a brave and fearless Celtic warrior of the Fianna,  and eventually took over the leadership from Goll Mac Morna and transformed the Fianna into the legendary Warriors of Ireland. However, he was vunerable to the charms and magic of women.

 In the tale of The Hags at the cave of Keshcorran.  Three women sat in the cave knitting a yarn of holly on crooked holly needles. The women threaded the yarn across the cave entrance and all around the sides of the cave.  Fionn  comes across the hags and is taunted by them.  Angered by their slurs and jibes he strides into the cave to confront them, as he crosses the yarn his strength leaves him.  He is over powered by the women and tied and bound .  Warriors from the Fianna rush into the cave to rescue Fionn  but as they step across the threshold of the cave they also tumble down helpless and weak and at the mercy of the women.   Only the giant, one eyed, Goll Mac Morna is able to kill the hags in a ferocious battle and release the warriors from their magic holly ties.

Far away from this time of the legendary heroes of Ireland  holly is brought into houses at the winter Solstices and Christmas. It is used decorate our homes ready for the celebration of the returning of the light and the birth of Jesus.  By having Holly in the house natures spirits may rest there out of the cold winter weather and bring blessings to all within. You may even be lucky enough to see a Fairy dancing in the candlelight amongst the holly sprigs.

Happy Christmas

And Reiki blessings and light for the New Year

Merry B

Here is a  short blog about the Yew

Monday, 5 December 2011

Before the Return of the Light

This time of year can be very difficult for many of us. The lose, or  serious illness of someone close to us during the dark days of winter can bring deep sadness which can turn into despair.   Every where we look there are images of happiness, love, warm families sharing together.  It is a tough time for many and memories can be bleak.  However, the light  will return first with the winter solstice as each day slowly grow longer and eventually time will turn bleak memories into the recollection of a shared life.

A long while ago a friend in America sent me these wise words

Reason, Season, or Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met,
our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
— Unknown

Sending all who need it the gentle healing light of Reiki
With Reiki blessings to all
Merry B

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Catching Dreams - A Tall Tale

Thinking about presents for friends this Christmas I thought about  buying two friends  Dreamcatchers.  I remembered how delighted I was when I was given one years ago. I would like to try to make some myself but whether I will get time in the next few weeks I am not sure.  I will hedge my bets and buy one and try and make one as well.

The Myth of the Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatchers have been a tradition of Native Indian  culture for generations.  A  Dreamcatcher is  made from  a willow hoop which symbolises strength and unity, on which is woven a loose net or web.  The Dreamcatcher is then decorated with personal and sacred items such as feathers, human hair, or beads.  In to the Dreamcatcher is woven the myth of an old wise Lakkota's vision of Iktomi and his teaching of wisdom of the Dreamcatcher.  This is the story I have.been told...

Far, far back in time when the world was young an old Lakkota spiritual leader had climbed to the top of a high mountain to talk with his spiritual  guides and the spirits of his ancestors.  Iktomi  who was a great trickster and a teacher of wisdom, appeared to him in the guise of a spider.   Iktome spoke to him in a sacred language.  As he talked he picked up the elders willow hoop which was decorated with feathers beads and sacred items, and began to spin a web.

He spoke to elder about the world of time and space, how  the circle of the seasons of the earth and  the circle of  individuals lives fall into similar patterns.  In the Spring  we have childhood and youth as the years pass we reach the Summer of life and maturity with its many accomplishments.   Next we pass in to the Autumn of life to old age, where we may need caring  for as if we were an infant.  Finally we pass into Winter season and meet death.  Spring brings rebirth.

"But"  said Iktomi  as he continued to spin his web,

" in each time of life there are many forces some good some bad.  If you listen to the good forces they will steer you right  If you listen to the bad forces they will steer you in the wrong direction and my harm you. These forces can help or can interfere with the harmony of nature."

While Iktomi spoke, he continued to weave his web.  When Iktomi had finished spinning he gave the elder the web and said,

"The web  is a perfect circle with a hole in the centre. Use the web to  help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions.  If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will slip through the hole".

The elder passed on the vision to the people and now many Indians hang a Dreamcatcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. Tthe good ideas and dreams are captured in the web of life and and gently slide down the feathers to the sleeper, but the evil dreams drop through the centre of the web and perish with the light of day.

With Reiki blessing
and I hope many good dreams

Merry B

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The I Ching - The Book of Changes, The Tao of I

Jekka -Achillea millefoliumYarrow, 
Woundwort, Milfoil
I can only write about my personal journey with the I Ching, I am not an I Ching scholar. I came upon the I Ching when I was immersed in reading Jung.  A chance reference to him writing a forward for the Richard Wilhelm translation  of The I Ching was the sole reason I brought the book.  I am very grateful to the person who guided me to the book and for Jung for his wonderful insight into the I Ching.  I have a number of books of The I Ching by different authors but The Richard  Wilhelm translation has remained my favourite  copy of  the I Ching.

The origin of The I Ching Wilhelm believes is "back in mythical antiquity'",  of over 3000 years.  Both the Taoist and Confucian Philosophy have their roots there.  A Chinese sage, Wang Pi in the fourth century BC described the book as:

A book of wisdom not a book of divination.

I ask the I Ching not only about what is the future  but also "what should I do". 

For me The I Ching has become over the years a wise friend that as Jung wrote "insists upon self knowledge" and gives me pause for reflection on what I am doing and the insight into whether to go forward or maybe standstill, to rest, regroup or reconsider a plan or ambition. The spirit of the I Ching  Yi also shows me how I should act in either  a positive or negative situation. I am sometimes wary of approaching the I Ching, because my conscious mind does not always want to be exposed to my inner unconscious mind.  Consulting the I Ching bridges our inner and outer worlds.

The I Ching can mirror the spiritual and psychological forces in our lives. Sometimes Yi can shine a light into the dark psychological places where we are entangled. Yi can reveal the seeds of future development and possible outcomes. Yi shows us a special time unlike the time the conscious mind measures.  It can be the right time to follow an ambition or project. Our action may in time or out of time.   It maybe that this is a moment to take time out or it is the wrong time to push forward. At  a certain time Yi may warn not to proceed with a desired change as to do so may lead to harm or humiliation.

Another name for the I Ching is The Book of Changes. Confucius while standing by a river said:

Everything flows on and on like the river without pause day and night.

If we take our attention from our transitory individual concerns we see changes are unavoidable  Yi's wisdom is only the principle of change never changes.  This truth is the Tao of  Lao-Tse.  Our lives change, the seasons change, our world changes, our dreams change. Even as I prepare the question to ask the Oracle and begin  the casting the yarrow sticks, coins or stones, as I  draw the lines that make up the lower and upper trigrams  change is flowing.   My focus will have sharpened, the problem, ambition or project clearer in outline. Using the oracle gives my guides and helping spirit a way to speak to me and by giving them voice.  Yi speaks with what both Lao-tse and Confucius saw  "as a supreme expression of spiritual authority."
The two Trigrams that I cast combine to form the Primary Hexagram There are sixty four Hexagrams  of six lines.   If  one or more line  is drawn from casting a 9 or 6 it changes to its opposite.  These transform or  moving lines  are the focus of  my reading of the Primary Hexagram  I will read the text of the judgment and image and then text of the lines that the  9 or 6 fall on.   When nine changes to its opposite 6 or yin line and the 6 changes to a 9 or yang line  these changes transform to create the Relating Hexagram.  If the Hexagram is drawn with the only the numbers 7 & 8  with no moving line then that is how the situation is -  stop, reflect, or standstill.  But of course even that has already changed.  For more detailed information  about the I Ching  I  have put references here.

As I cast  the I Ching  my mind becomes tranquil and I approach Yi in dream time, I journey into a symbolic world of  images and wisdom and find harmony between my inner and outer worlds and Yi helps me hear the voices of my guides and I can visualise the way forward and what I must do to fulfill my desired outcome.

I hope this short glimpse of my discovery of the I Ching and my journey with Yi over the years will be of interest and  inspire some of my friends to find the wisdom of Yi.  

Jung at the conclusion of his forward writes:

The I Ching does not offer itself with proofs and results; it does not vaunt itself, nor is it easy to approach. Like a part of nature, it waits until it is discovered. It offers neither facts nor power, but for lovers of self-knowledge, of wisdom -- if there be such -- it seems to be the right book. To one person its spirit appears as clear as day; to another, shadowy as twilight; to a third, dark as night. He who is not pleased by it does not have to use it, and he who is against it is not obliged to find it true. Let it go forth into the world for the benefit of those who can discern its meaning.

With Reiki blessing and  light


Thursday, 27 October 2011


Samhuinn  last from sunset on the 31st of October until sunrise on the second of of November. It is the start of the winter season.  In the Christian Calender the night of the 31st is called Allhallows the eve of All Saints Day a celebration for all those saints who do not have their own name day.  Followed by All Souls a day to celebrate the lives of all Christian dead.   These days were collectively know as Hallowmas.   Pope Bonifave 1v's  aim was to make these day holy and move away from the superstitions and  pagan belief that the margins of the otherworld parted to enable the dead, spirits and evil monsters to walked on earth on Halloween.  The Catholic Church in the 8th century was attempting to accommodating and sanctify the beliefs of the pagan converts to Christianity  .

The Celts believed that on the eve of Samhuinn  the boundaries between the living and the dead  dissolved and that the world of the past present and future merged together.  It was time when Celtic Druids would be helped by the spirits to make predictions about the future.  For those who died in past year it was a time for their families and community to celebrate their memory and also  to honour  all their ancestors.  

At Samhuinn wood was collected from every house in the community and a huge bonfire was lit to celebrate the lives of the dead and at the same time  to welcome those  who were born that year into the community.   The light of the fire  also would drive away any malicious spirits or sprites.  The fires in the houses would be extinguished at sunset on Halloween's Eve until the just before sunrise when every household would carry embers from the communal bonfire home to light a new cooking fire which would burn all winter.  This would make the home happy and free from any lost spirits.  The embers where brought home in lanterns made out of turnips sometimes called Jack 'O' Lanterns, perhaps after the lights that flickered over the peat bogs which were known by this name.

Early 20th century Jack 'O' Lantern
Some communities in Ireland would put a carved turnip lantern outside there house to scare of evil spirits.  A candle was placed inside and would be kept burning from sunset  until sunrise on Halloween   One of the visitors that they may have been wanting to ward off was stingy Jack a figure from an Irish folktale.  Jack trapped the devil twice on the second time  Jack only released the devil after he extract promises from him that the devil would never bother him again.  When he died he was refused entry into heaven because of his mean and evil ways, while the devil  still  smarting from Jack's s trickery would not let him into hell.  Stingy Jack had to roam the darkness of limbo. The devil threw at Jack a coal from hell and Jack put it into a turnip lantern to light his way.  At Halloween he wanders the world again looking for a home.

There are so many old customs around Samhuinn it would take pages to recount them all.  Samhuin, however is a time reflecting on mortality, the passing of relationships, and other life changes.  It is a time to remember to celebrate the lives of of recent dead and the older ancestors.  With the boundaries  of time suspend it is a time for divination,  I consult the I Ching, at  sunrise on the First of November.  If I look back at my journals to this date, I see that  over the years on Samhuinn I have reflected on life changes, meditated  and made plans for the future.   This year I will do the same.and I will a enjoy the candlelight, firelight, folk tales and customs of Sumhuinn.  It is also  a good time to order seeds for the spring to come, and look forward to the the return of the light.

With Reiki blessings and light
Happy Samhuinn
Merry B

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Battle of the Tansy

Over the past few weeks I have been dividing perennial herbs and plants. The first herb I tackled was the tansy growing near my shed at my plot. It had been in the ground for three years and had grown large. The Tansy grows to over a metre high and screens my sitting area from the path that goes across the top of the plot. But this year buffeted by strong winds it flopped over the path despite the being supported by a wood tripod.

On the Friday before I took on the Tansy I had been watching Carol Klein on Gardeners' World lift and divide perennials effortlessly.  So I took my fork and dug deep under the plant but it did not budge, a friend came along and started helping, then Mick came and offered to help.  Mick is a giant of a man, he was able to lift it slightly but it still stubbornly refused to shift.  An hour later and with enormous effort the plant lifted from the ground. The tansy came up so suddenly Mick fell backwards onto a black current bush.  I now have lots of cuttings!

As seen on TV I used two forks to try prise the tansy apart. The forks got wedged in the plant and would not come out .  My friend, Jenny managed to get  the forks out and break off two small pieces off the Tansy.  I then resorted to a saw but it was not strong enough for the job. So another friend, John brought a tree saw over and we managed to divide it at last into six pieces.  I kept two, Jenny had two, John has one  and I gave the last piece to  a person on a neighbouring plot. It had taken about fours hours all told to lift and divide the Tansy.

After this epic struggle I decided to  not to tackle anymore plants for a few days.  However they did needed lifting and dividing, so eventually, I decided to divided the Comfrey. I was not sure if I had  the strength to tackle this huge plant.  Armed with a fork I started to work underneath it immediately a  huge clump came out so quickly I nearly fell over.   I was expecting a lot of resistance from the roots!  The next plant was the golden marjoram which I always divide and put in the cold frame for winter. I gave it a gentle tug and it came out. So did the garlic chives,thyme and eau cologne mint.  These  I split  potted up and watered and put into the cold frame. The fennel has already been cut down so I left it in place. The last plant I wanted to move was a michlmas daisy which was put in at the bottom of the plot as a tiny cutting and now had grown to a fine plant.  It was easy to move to another place where it could be seen better when it was flowering  next the autumn. I still have some plants and herbs to pot up  for winter. But the majority are moved into new places or safe stowed in the cold frame.

The borage and purple Cosmos are still flowering and compliment each other.  Tthere are   large clumps of pot marigolds and  there are many plants of feverfew, which  has white flowers and lovely fresh green leaves.  One of the lemon balm plants is also flowering.  All these plants will continue to flower until the first hard frost.   They will be a wonderful support for the bees to help them survive the harsh weather of the winter ahead.   Except for the cosmos these plants have seeded themselves and will  be up and flowering in early Spring. Hopefully the Yarrow (achillia) will also set seeds.

My plot is a wonderfully peaceful place to be and at this time of the year because a large  number of plot holders disappear from late Summer until they pop up again in Spring.  Pops and I enjoy being there in Autumn and Winter.  The winter sun gives me a wonderful boast and I enjoy meditating on the plot in Winter. I  also like to dig and feed my  soil, trees and plants during these months.  I will  be pruning some of the fruit trees, and fruit bushes,  I will be donning gauntetse to cut back the blackberries as my plants are not thornless.  The raspberries are autumn fruiting and will not be pruned until February.   I hope  to get my plot looking neat and tidy before next Spring when my herbs and flowers will grow where they want.   The vegetables have to grow around them because flowers and herbs rule on my plot!

With Reiki Blessings and light

Merry Rambler

I give information about how to grow and use  herb here

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Wiilow - a lesson in patience

I have been growing willows on the border of one side of my plot for two years now and they are reaching skyward. Before the good weather at the end of September and beginning of October many of the leaves were turning yellow as the willow were slowly becoming dormant. The process of settling into their winter sleep has stopped and the green leaves are sparkling in the sunlight. I am enjoying these wonderful Indian summer days but I am also impatient. Why?   I want my willows to become dormant so I can begin coppice them and create some living willow structures.
If I cut the willows now the whips will grow new leaves and be weaker and will not root as well when they are planted.  In the dormant state they will root well. I must wait patiently for the weather to grow colder so I can begin my willow projects. I have been looking at the whips and have several sturdy 3 year old whips which I need to create a living seat and a woven table. I would also like to make an arbour if I have enough strong willows.   Hopefully my seat will look as good as this on made at Willow Works!  The uprights are planted about 12 - 16 inches deep (35 -45 cm).  In spring the uprights will begin growing again.

In November I should be able to begin creating the willow projects I have decided upon.  In the mean time I am collecting the tools I will need and deciding on the site for them to be placed.  It is exciting to anticipate the making of these craft objects.

Willow has been coppiced and used for furniture making, fedges, for frames, pea & bean sticks  for centuries. In Scandinavia there is research into the use of willow as a fuel in biomass power stations and it has the advantage of absorbing the carbon dioxide created when electricity is generated.  In addition willow will grow on poor boggy soil where other plants would struggle to survive.  In  the Netherlands willow and alder have been used to to protect polders from erosion by the sea for hundreds of years. One recent  use of Willow fedges  in Europe is to buffer noise and pollution along motor ways.

I am using them to create craft objects on a very small scale but it feels good to be going to coppice and harvest willows as my ancestors did and make use of them productively on my plot and for gifts for my friends.  By spring my willow hedge on the plot will have begun growing again and provide shelter for insects, mice and birds.  As well as  the flowers providing nector for the bees.  It will also give me a crop of new willow whips for more projects at the end of the 2012. I will blog next month about how my willow crafting has gone.

With Reiki Blessings and Light

See also Willow 6th February 2011

Monday, 26 September 2011

Recipe for Autumn Potpourri

Pine Cones
growers box
On my walks in Autumn I collect seeds from trees and flowers to make an autumn potpouri. This year I have collected pine cones, horse chestnut, sweet chesnut seed cases, acorns, sycamore & maple seeds, beech masts, poppy seed pods.... I only take a few from each place leaving the rest for the animals, birds and insects that need them for food during the winter.

I dry herbs leaves and flowers on a muslin screen made from an old picture frame. Each herb  or flower I dry separately so that the scent is pure. Some are stored for use in winter cooking the rest are used in potpourri. To the seeds, herbs and flowers I put together a mix of spices.

This potpourri will cleanse a room and fill it with a sweet, relaxing scent.  The cost is very little if you collect the seeds, grow and dry your own herbs. If you live in Urban area the parks are a full of seeds which you can gather.  If you haven’t the  herbs leaves  I recommend you go to a Chinese store where there are usually large packs of dried herbs leaves, flowers and all the spices you need at very reasonable prices.

Here is my recipe I am using for this years potpourri.

To seeds from trees and flowers I add dried herbs:

Peppermint leaves

Sage leaves

Rosemary leaves

Lemon balm leaves

Scented geranium leaves

Wild Bergamot leaves

Lemon verbena leaves

I add dried flowers:

Pot marigold



Chamomile flowers


Lime flowers

Rose petals


The Spice guys

whole cloves

Cinnamon sticks (broken)

Nutmeg grated

Coriander seeds crushed

Cardamom crushed

Star anise whole

Dried orange and lemon peel

This mix looks wonderful in a glass bowl you can layer the ingredients of just tumble them in to the bowl.  when the nights draw in even more I will take some of the mixture and put it in a plastic bag with a cuttle fish bone (you can get it from a pet store)  which has had a few drops of  essential oil on it,  I like pine.   Leave it in the bag for two or three weeks for a even more delightfully scented potpourri.  As  Christmas draws near I will dip some cones and seeds into gold, silver paint or glitter to add that festive touch.  I just love glitter and sparkle at Christmas

Last years potpourri I will burn some in my fire  at Sumhuinn -  all Souls day on the 1st November  and all Saints day the Second of November.  I will burn the rest during Yule time,

With Reiki blessings and light
Merry B

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Autumn Equinox - Alban Elfed

It was a lovely day on Friday, Pops and I went for a meandering walk to my allotment. We walked for an hour and then went into St. James Green dog park where Pops met up with her friend Luke. She had a lovely time, running and chasing balls while I stood with a a group of dog owners  enjoying the warmth of  the sun as we watched our dogs play.   Pops and the other dogs had such a sense of joy to be with each other it made us all smile and laugh.

Pops and I then went to allotment.  It was very peaceful there.  I looked around and saw that it was time to take down the bean poles and compost what was left of the beans. As I cleared the beans away green shield bugs tumbled out, huge garden spiders crawled away and woodlice scurried this way and that looking for safety. I love seeing the insects that live on my plot.  I have planted flowers and herbs that are beneficial to them as well as leaving wild areas. The reward is I have very few pest problems.  For example an army of ladybirds and their larva  march on black fly and aphids and clear them away.

Last year I cleared a bed at the bottom of my plot and put my herbs there but did not like them so far away from where I meditate, or just sit and enjoy being so near to the sea with the natural world around me. So here I was clearing and lightly digging a bed at the top of the plot for my herbs. Some plants I will plant now but some I will pot up and put in my cold frame over winter. I grew 31 herbs last year.  In the coming year I am going to add to my collection lemon verbena, sweet cicely and perhaps others as well.

The next task was to cleared another bed to plant broad beans.  They are such tough plants last year I planted them in October, those that the mice had left had just emerged when they were first covered over by water then the water turned to ice, I could see the tiny plantlets under the ice, It snowed in November and January for several weeks  but by late Spring they had grown and produced a huge crop of beans.  They have an amazing hardiness and survival ability.  

As I worked I realised that it was a wonderful way to send the day of the Autumn Equinox. My Ancestors would have worked to bring in the harvest at this time and I was very aware how blessed I was to have had a wonderful harvest this year and am very grateful for this and for my plot and the wonderful seascape around me.

Organic Gardening
The Atumn Equinix is Celebrated in Druidry as the festival Alban Elfed, one of the Celtic fire festivals, a time of contemplation, of gratitude for not only the harvest but for the experiences of the past year. As the blowzy summer months have given way to the chill of Autumn,  I have been planning for next Spring, sowing seeds and planting bulbs ready for the rebirth of light and growth.   Preparing for Imbolc, Candlemass when the goddess Credwin and Brigid brew the essence of Spring and the celandines and snowdrops begin to flower  - the heralds of Spring. 

With Reiki Blessing
Merry B

Monday, 5 September 2011

Red Alert - No more hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs in Britain are on the red list of endangered species. They could disappear altogether in 10 - 15 years. Toni Bunnell estimates that the hedgehog population has decreased by 25% over the last decade. It is partly due to the use of pesticides by farmers,  along with gardeners and allotment holders.  The use of large mower, strimmers, rat poison and plastic netting on fruit cages and vegetable crops.   There are also so many sterile gardens with all weeds rooted out, gardens paved over or covered in decking. Hedges are replaced by impenetrable fences and walls......

Recently I found a baby hedgehog with a terrible wound across it body probably from a strimmer. It died shortly after I found it.  It was heartbreaking to see a a baby animal suffering such a painful death.  Hedgehogs when under threat curl up tight in a spinney ball which is a bad defence against modern machinery, and cars.

It would be so sad if this iconic creature was no longer part of our garden and countryside wildlife. We can help in their survival by creating the right habitat for hedgehogs in our own gardens and joining together with people in our street, estate or community in the Hedgehogs Street campaign:

This link to will give you information about these animals and show ways each of us could to help them.  Recently the Charity found that slug pelts that had a picture of a Hedgehog on them suggesting that it was safe to use for where  there were these animals, was in was in fact  poisonous to them.  After the Charity informed B&Q they reacted quickly and withdrew the product and went straight to the manufacturer to use their influence to change the product..

The Charity also provided evidence to McDonald’s which prompted the company to changed the lid on their McFlurry dessert!   The original containers  carelessly tossed away trapped many hedgehogs who crawled into lick up the leftover ice cream or for shelter and could not get out again.   Some were released by kindly passers by, some were found dead, and it will never be known how many were never found at all. The new lid has a smaller aperture so the customer will take the lid off to get to the ice cream. Even if the cup does get thrown to the ground with the lid attached, the hole should be too small for hedgehogs to push into.
It seems that powerful global business  can be persuaded to get  behind the campaign for the survival  of Hedgehogs.  But each of us individually can, however, help them just by providing as safe small corner of our garden and allotments as a wild life sanctuary we can attract wild life and hedgehogs,  by planting a hedge, creating a hedgehog street, building a log pile or creating a dead hedge for hedgehogs.  These simple measures would give hedgehogs a safe haven to sleeping in during the day or hibernate in over winter and safe routes to roam in.   It could bring the reward of seeing visiting or maybe resident hedgehogs. They in return will clear the ground of slugs and snails and other pest.

I hope we can join together to create safe havens for our hedgehogs. And future generations, our grandchildren and great grandchildren, will have the delight of seeing hedgehogs visiting their garden, allotment,  or  while walking in the countrysides at dusk see them ambling past.

With Reiki blessing to Hedgehogs and all living creature

Merry B

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Web Weaving the Elements of our wonderful Planet

web weaving
Web weaving is a way of creating associations that a word or phrase calls ro mind - some people may call it mind mapping, or brain storming. When studying the OBOD Bardic course we studied the four elements and created web weavings.  Here are part of my thoughts and feeling about each element.  I have put  them into linar form.  They were  created in my journal as a spiders web of ideas. For example Earth was placed at the centre then radiating from that images and ideas that I saw in my minds eye , and the connections made from one idea to another. 


Air through the practice of meditation and Chi Kung I am aware of my breath and the way it changes. If for example I am stressed I can feel the way my breathing is shallow and rapid.  I am sensitive to the changes in the air around me.  I love the feeling of peacefulness on a still summers day when there is very little movement in the air, or the welcome feeling of a summer breeze on a hot day. I enjoy hearing the leaves rustle as the wind flows through them and how it can whistle and roar down the chimney and drive the clouds scudding across the sky. Sometimes the air is dry, sometimes full of moisture before a rain storm, or humid and sticky with no rain. The first thing we do when we are born is breathe and it is the last thing we will do as we die.

Water is an important Element for us all. Water has great powers and often a deceptive beauty. The stream or river that trickles past with barely a murmur can turn into a raging torrent and bring flooding and destruction but ironically leaving behind fertile soil on the flood planes. I live by the sea and enjoy seeing it many moods but I am wary of its power. In East Africa a prolonged drought has caused a famine and millions of people are living in misery and dying. All living things need water to survive.

Water conceals hidden depths, sunken cities mythical realms, sirens and mermaids, luring men into their watery liars. Springs emerging from the earth and secretly run underground until the come into the light and  people create wells which are frequently seen as scared places. Chalice Wells in Glastonbury has water which is white and pure and is always at a constant temperature. At the nearby Red Well the water runs blood red and tastes of iron. The two springs both emerge on the Tor a few feet apart at one of the places the mystical glass castle of Merlin may have stood. Dreams, myths and mysteries are all concealed in the power of water.

Fire is beautiful when contained in a candle, fire pit, or fireplace. It is wonderful to return home on a cold blustery day and light a fire, cook a meal and be warm and cosy thanks to the element of fire. The mellow light of candlelight the smell of incense burning enhances my meditation practice,

 Lighting the candle
the peace and joy I feel

brightens the face of the earth


We depend on fire for all the myriad of uses we have for energy in the twenty first century. But when unleashed it can harm and destroy. The unattended candle can topple and burn a house down. The heat of the sun can cause fire storm which destroy swathes of forests and farmland as well as houses, melt roads. It twist and distort metal, but also by harnessing it we can melting metal ore to gives us iron, gold silver....

The sun is essential to life on earth without it our planet would ice up and all life would die. I love the sun and its warmth and benefits. As winter turns into spring I like to warm myself in the early morning rays of the sunshine. As summer turns to Autumn I like to walk at sunset and see the setting sun by the sea and moon rising. Each element has its beauty but each needs to be respected as well.

Earth can be harnessed for our benefit and gives us food, fuel and shelter. Often it is unthinkingly desecrated by humanities’ need for more and more resources. A diamond is a very beautiful gem, but it can be tainted by cruel greedy men enslaving people to mine it from the ground. Even from afar a volcanic eruption can effect weather systems and even stop the modern world by its ash grounding planes. The earth as it pushes and moves can shake and destroy lives livelihoods building landndscapes...... As we witnessed in Japan this year.........

Once you start web weaving thoughts seem to casscade through the mind.  This are some of my reflection on the elements - I hope they inspire you to weave your own web about the elements of this wonderful planet with live on.

With Blessings

Merry Rambler

See Touching The Earth April 2011  to read more about my feeling for the Earth

I couldn't use the computer because......

Sorry I haven't replied to your posts.  No I wasn't being rude, or don't care!

At the moment I am not using the computer so much as:

 1. I got rid of my old office chair

2.   I didn't buy a new one as I was not sure which one to get, and if new or secondhand

3.   I sprained my knee and sitting at the computer using an ordinary chair made it stiffer and more painful

4.   I decided to convert a wonderful pine captains chair made by a friend out of his boat and....

5.   It isnt back from the upholsters.  They are making a fitted cushion and adding castors -
 as it is very heavy

6.   I spent too long at the computer writing my blog and my knee was crunch up and is really stiff now and it hurts......

7.   Sitting at the computer for so long strained my eyes -  they are really red and sore

8.   Poppy dog needs long rambles

Monday, 22 August 2011

Reiki Ramblings

As I have been building my new website Reiki Druid's Focus I have been re-writing pages and adding new pages. On my desk is a pile of books about Reiki, Druidry, Celtic Lore. which I have been dipping into for while each day. This has resulted in intensification  of my love of Reiki and a merging and blending with the Druidry and Celtic lore.

Usui Sensei
Reiki is central to my life and there is not a day that passes without me using Reiki or reflecting on its place in my life. However the rebuilding of my website has sparked a flood of ideas about Reiki and my practice. It is as if I have rekindled the excitement I felt about Reiki when I first began my Reiki Journey.

My curiosity about Reiki began with a chance meeting at a bus stop with a stranger, called Ann, who had just taken Reiki one. Later in that week I walked a different way into town and passing an imposing Georgian building, I noticed that it had been transformed into The Energy Centre offering holistic treatments, Chi Kung and meditation classes. I studied Chi Kung with Master Lam Kam Cheun in Lambeth.I thought a local class would be wonderful. So I went inside. I found in the opening week they were offering half price treatments. I decided to give Reiki ago - I was a bit disdainful about "new age" therapies but I booked an appointment and had a treatment. I found it amazing, it was relaxing but it was also if I was taking a huge step forward in my life.

I book more treatments and one day after a treatment I asked Julie about taking a Reiki 1 class. By coincidence the weekend before she had just taken a Reiki 111 class and could now teach Reiki. My question inspired her to overcome her self doubts and arrange a Reiki 1 class, co-lead by Ruth who had been a master for several years. I am so grateful to for that chance encounter with Ann and for the bus that did not turn up. I am grateful for seeing the advert outside the Energy Centre and Julie and Ruth my first Reiki Masters. Reiki has transformed my life. I am grateful to Usui Senei for to the gift of Reiki and for leading me to become a Reiki Teacher.

At the time I begun having Reiki Treatment I was working in an Exclusion Unit with challenge teenagers and even more challenging members of staff! By Friday I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and it took the whole weekend to recover and prepare for the next week. However, after starting Reiki I found I would recover after just practicing Chi Kung and then having a cup of tea. My week nights and weekends became more enjoyably and I was full of energy.

Usui Senei showed us not only a a way to clear ill health in the body he also gave us guidance on our spiritual path with the Reiki Principles. This simple steps built harmony and stability within me. I was taught to say the priciples twice a day, and take to my heart space the one I need most. I can remember stomping up the road to work chanting to myself,

"Just for today I will not be angry."

I did not have a a lot of outward anger, but I could be implusive and as the old saying goes cut off my nose to spite my face. I also used my wit as a weapon, never with children but sometimes with adults.  I had the clever quip which would divert anger a way from me. I imagine the receiver could have been very angry as they smiled. I was also quite defensive and could appear remote. Gradually bit by bit I changed. As the Buddha said,

Having anger for someone
is like picking up hot coals to throw at them.
Who gets burnt first?

I remember loud or strident noise would create a huge flash of anger in me especially if I was settling down to read, listen to music or meditate. But I learnt that if:

If my mind does not go out
to disturb the noise
The noise won't disturb me.

Ajahn Chan

Bringing gratitude into my life has brightened it. When a everyday dilemma seem about to overwhelm me, I see what I have to be grateful for maybe:

This cup og tea of tea in my two hands
mindfulness held perfectly
My mind and and body dwell
In the very here and now.

Thich Nhat Hanh in his wisdom shows me how to recuperate myself and that by being mindful

Just for today I will not worry

I respect and I am grateful for all my teachers and elders.

Thank you Usui Senei and all those in my Reiki Lineage.

More Ramblings about Reiki Shortly. Now I am gong out rambling with Pops, my dog.

With Reiki Blessings
Merry Rambler