Urban Pagan in Somerset

Urban Pagan in Somerset

Monday, 28 June 2010

Podia Pleasures!

This weekend I spent a lot of time at the beach and in the garden barefoot. It has long been something I enjoy, getting my feet out! Though Im not sure its shared by everyone!! I suppose Ive always been a bit of a hippy in lots of ways, I even prefer to drive barefoot, though its not always practical to do so.

I like the fact that im in contact with nature and the earth without restriction although Im not someone who subscribes to the idea that you have to be without clothing to have a spiritual connection. (Skyclad - to be or not to be; maybe another blog topic, another time!)

But theres nothing to beat the feel of soft squishy sand underfoot. Or to walk in soft cool grass, avoiding the odd stone and thistle. .
A few blogs ago I was talking about my camping trip in a farm field. That was a lovely green grassy field and I took great pleasure in walking around as much as I could without shoes. Summer is the time when obviously I go out much more without socks, boots and all kinds of warmer footware

Its interesting to note though, that where I could go barefoot in most weather indoors, as Ive got a bit older, my feet feel quite cold without thick fluffy socks in the winter, and I can even find it hard to sleep without them on in bed. Cold feet = misery in winter!

So Im appreciating my podia more these days and getting them out whenever I can. Its always good for strengthening the muscles in your feet, getting a dose of vitamin D straight to the tootsies, and just the plain ol' feel-good factor.

Saturday, 26 June 2010


Every day brings a set of new challenges in life for everyone, and I am certainly no exception! The hardest thing i seem to have to deal with is based where I currently live. I remember when I was little, my parents used to say they only ever had problems with their neighbours over children and the arguments between them. And I have found this to be mostly true. I tend to be someone who keeps their own counsell most of the time, except when I feel my child is being bullied or singled out. So I assume I can talk reasonably to another adult human being to try and sort it out. Sadly this isnt always the case.

Im constantly amazed at the ease in which someone will use the most foul language in an attempt to attack another person. What is worse is when others from different households join in when it had nothing to do with them. And then I find it hard to understand that some parents allow their children to witness their behaviour, bad language or intimidating attitudes and are surprised if the children copy it. After all, we are our children's first teachers.

I live in a poorer area of the city and understand that lack of work, money and worry over how to afford some of the basics of life can make people irritable, afraid and sometimes unpleasant. I can also understand a parent leaping to defend their children and the intense emotion this can cause - I feel it myself too. But taking it out on other people, abusive behaviour; trying to intimidate and bully to make yourself feel better is not the answer. this means a lot of people dont get involved in their local community. I certainly dont as much as I would like to. It is a challenge I find hard to deal with although Ive not given up - just yet!

What I have done for my own peace of mind is to build up my own circle of protection around my home and children. I have a few charms around for protection and realised they probably needed 're-charging' so this weekends full moon is a good time to get it done. The only other thing I need to do is to let it go. But knowing myself fairly well, I realise I have to mull it over for a few days before I can finally put it down

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A few Home Remedies

I like to have certain supplies during the year that I count on. Sometimes I will use them all year round, but there are one or two things I particularly use during the Summer regardless of the weather!!

I have a kind of first aid cupboard in which I store all these items when Im not using them, and get them out as and when required. Im sure lots of people do this, but I thought I might share my own ideas with you and hope any comments made will include your ideas too! Please do remember though, that Im not a doctor or health specialist, and these are my ideas. Not to be used instead of medical diagnosis.

Items I use all year round;

Manuka Honey - great for keeping your immune system healthy and helping to ward off infections. Its also supposed to be good for putting onto infections apparently, although ive not done this myself. I read somewhere that it was being researched in its use against the MRSA infection.
We all have a teaspoon every day, and 2 or 3 if feeling sniffly.

Cidar Vinegar - I use this for anti acid and mild tummy upsets. I have a gall stone which I am controlling by diet as its not causing me any problesm at the moment, but I do get acid reflux sometimes and a teaspoon of cidar vinegar in hot water is a great way to stop it. It is supposed to have other great health benefits too.

Garden Mint - I also have various mints growing in my herb garden and I use them too - steeped in hot water and honey for a refreshing tea that helps settle an upset tummy. I find it good for my children's tummy aches.

Elderberry cordial - good all year, but particularly in the autumn and winter. Its supposed to have properties that fight flu infections. I forage in the late summer for the berries and make my own (recipe below), though you can buy it from health food shops, but it is quite expensive as it's sold like a medicine syrup in small bottles. I use a cordial recipe and it lasts in sterilised bottles for about 12months until im ready to go foraging for the next batch!

"The first shoots of the Common Elder boiled like asparagus, and the young leaves and stalks boiled in fat broth, do mightily carry forth phlegm and choler. The middle or inward bark boiled in water, and given in drink works much more violently; and the berries, either green or dry, expel the same humour, and are often given with good success to help the dropsy; the bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice thereof drank, works the same effects, but much more powerfully than either the leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, mightily procures vomiting, and purges the watery humours of the dropsy..."
Nicholas Culpeper, 17th century herbalist
Please note
For safety reasons DO NOT use the leaves, bark or roots of Elder for consumtion
They can be poisonous!!!

Tea tree oil
- useful for infections and cleanser. I also rub a few drops in my hands with lavender and rub it through my daughters hair in the morning before brushing it. This is wonderful for preventing nit infections.

Lavender oil - with the tea tree oil I mentioned above, but also for relaxation, drip a drop or two in the bath, or on a light bulb before turning on. On a pillow before sleep.

Arnica cream - always useful all year round for bruises.

Oats - I make little muslin bags of these and maybe other herbs or soak them in an aromatherpy oil for a few minutes and hang them under a bath tap for a relaxing bath that leaves my skin really soft.

Summer Remedies

Bicarbonate of soda - Useful to relieve mild sunburn. Also good for relieving other itchy skin. I put a few teaspoons in a warm bath and soak for a bit. I also used this made into a paste on my daughters chicken pox spots when she was a baby, and this really relieved her itching.

Local Honey - I find this really good for hayfever. I suppose it works similar to homeopathic treatments. I suffer from hayfever caused by the local pollen. The local honey comes from bees that use the local pollen.

Citronella Oil - wonderful for keeping midges and mosquitoes away from me. Its not a very 'oily' oil so i often rub it neat on my legs and arms - specially if Im camping or dancing around some field somewhere (I get terrible midge bites at lammas in the corn fields!!!) I also get citronella candles or make my own for summer evenings in the garden, or inside!

a>Various summer fruits - I will forage, pick my own, ask friends for gluts from their gardens and allotments, or just buy loads of summer fruit and freeze. They are great to keep all year round too. I will put yoghurt and a banana with some of the frozen fruit into a blender for a really nutritious and delicious breakfast smoothie. Lovely on an early summers morning.
You can also add the manuka honey or local honey to it to sweeten it a bit more.

Finally I always have the usual necessities - plasters, bandages and suncream. I must confess though - although I have feverfew growing in my herb patch which is good for headaches (chew a few leaves), when I get a headache I tend to reach for a painkiller capsule! This might be because it tastes absolutely disgusting!!!

Elderberry Cordial Recipe
Pick the fruit on a dry day and stew in a large stainless steel saucepan, with just enough water to cover.

Strain through muslin squeezing to get all the juice.

To each pint of juice add 1 lb of white granulated sugar and 10 cloves.

Boil for 10 minutes.

Allow to cool and bottle in sterile bottles making sure you distribute the cloves evenly amongst the bottles - they are a preservative.
The cordial can be used immediately, and willkeep for at least a year.

Take one or two teaspoons a day in hot or cold water

Sunday, 13 June 2010

People Watching in Camden Town

I had a lovely saturday visiting one of my best friends today. We only tend to meet up every few months or so nowadays due to work and distance, so its always full on when we do get together, catching up and talking about what we're up to. We always seem to have similar patterns in our lives too, so when we need to hear what the other has to say - thats the time we seem to get together!! I think sometimes we have relationships with friends that trancend being friends and can give a deeper meaning to our lives, to understand ourselves better. As I believe in pre-existance and reincarnation, I think some of my friends have been in my life before and are our teachers - and vice versa.

So off I went for the day and we decided on a spur of the minute trip to Camden market. I havent been there for years so it was delightful to meander through the quirky street, amazingly eye catching shops and market stalls. Such a visual delight for the eyes and such wonderful diversity - it was more like being on holiday than walking through a London borough. Colours, interesting knick knacks, strange and wonderful designs of clothes and furnishings. Great fun! But the great thing I really enjoyed was people watching. So many doing their own thing, wearing whatever they wish. Some dressed up, some casual. Students, tourists, londoners, stall holders - a vast collection and mix of society.

After a little foraging about buying one or two sparkly trinkets, I settled back with my friends with a mocha and a biscotti. Sitting on the seats shaped like the back of a vespa, we watched the people walking about. Wondering about their stories. Who they were, what their lives were like, where had they come from and where were they going.

Listening to the drummer beating out a furious rhythm on his kit by the canal, we saw the market traders calling the punters into their little sheds, draping spider web shawls on shoulders. Bartering prices. Smelling the incense smoke and watching sleepy eyed goths walking in the sun - the afternoon still too early to be up.
It was a wonderful time, evocative of summer festivals - it felt very similar to the market place at Glastonbury festival, or walking round Cambridge's Strawberry Fayre. Isnt it wonderful that we are a hotchpotch of differences. May we never be uniform!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The right place at the right time - slow camping

During this half term week I took the opportunity to take my daughter Rhiannon camping for the first time. I havnt been for a few years - though was always out in a field somewhere or at a festival with my eldest children at some time during the summer while they were growing up. Camping is such fun for kids and its a really good way of having a relaxing time and being outside with nature too. Mind you this depends where you camp. Its not as easy nowadays to just pitch anywhere. Some years ago, most farmers didnt mind you camping in thier fields as long as you asked permission. These days you mostly need to go to some designated camping spot although Im pretty sure if you had the time to wander about, it would be possible to find one or two non-campsite spots to pitch.

However, with a young child, you really do need to have access to fresh water and toilets though they can be pretty basic. And I dont book ahead - I believe I will find a site that has a space for us and wherever it is we need to be at that time. (mind you peak time in summer can mean a bit of looking about first). When I used to camp a lot I often had a tent etc continuously in the boot of the car. On friday - pick the kids up from school and head off somewhere. Anywhere. Exploring new spots. Visiting sacred stones. Giving the children something other than weekend TV. And here I am mobile again. Ready to do the same with my youngest child.

So first I intended to drive over to Avebury stone circle and look for a site nearby. Its one of my favourite earth energy spots. I havnt had a car for several years and found it hard to get down there for the last few years with a small child so its been about 7 years or so since I was last there. But I remember with such clarity the feeling I get when my feet touch the earth there. It awakens a kind of memory buried deep within and I can feel a sigh from deep down inside. You know - that 'coming home' kind of feeling!

So we packed up the new 'festival' pop up tent (useless by the way - not at all waterproof and I had to get another while we were out). Sleeping bags, camp stove and a few useful items, and headed off towards the west. I like to take my time and 'amble' down to where im headed so try to keep off the motorways as much as possible. You can find so many interesting towns and villages that way. Yes it takes longer, but Im an advocate of slow living anyway so it suits me. A meander down the A and B roads, stopping occasionally for a loo break or a stretch of legs and cup of tea is part of the journey and pleasure of these trips for me.

But as I got into West Sussex, something told me to leave Avebury for the Summer Solstice and go down towards Littlehampton. Just four miles outside the Seaside town, up in the hills on the south downs I noticed a field with a few tents pitched. 'thats the place' said my inner voice and I turned into a dusty farm track and drove up the hill to the stone farmhouse. Sure enough it was a small campsite - with the luxury of a basic toilet block. Four beautiful spacious fields with a drinking water standpipe in each, and views of green. Green trees, green fields, green hills. Its one of the things I treasure, living in an urban space. The colour green. When Im in an expanse of Green, its like breathing it in....

The place was friendly - though not intrusive, calm and child safe too - plenty of room to run about, trees to climb, other children to befriend and I could be still.

I had come with all kinds of plans. some craft materials to make dreamcatchers with. Artist paints and a sketch pad. I was going to sit in a natural space and meditate while Rhiannon was playing with her new pals. Nothing goes to plan does it? Or maybe it does. I didnt do anything like that. We had a trip or two out - its nice to explore A visit to Arundel and its castle, then a cream tea by the river and a walk in its olde world towncentre. A trip into Littlehampton to walk by the sea and a ride on a merry go round.

But most of the time we spent in the fields. I didnt make anything (except a friend or two). I didnt paint. I didnt sit to meditate. But I did connect. I did feel the earth under me. I slept under canvass and fell asleep to the sound of owls. I was lulled by a dozy cuckoo in the mid afternoon. I was woken by birdsong and the call of peacocks from somewhere in the distance. I breathed in the life and spirit of the air and earth. I cooked with fire and walked by water. It was a good space, and where I needed to be.