Tuesday, 16 January 2018

White Horses by Autumn Ravenflower

White Horses by Autumn Ravenflower

December 6th, 2017 was a blustery, bleak and cold day here in the UK. I decided to take my dog for one of his favourite walks down to the shore which is about a 10-minute walk from my home. It’s a beautiful place to walk, whatever the season, as you can walk as far as you want and is separated from the main road by miles of stunning fields and home to some of our beautiful wildlife.

We hadn’t gone very far along the shoreline and I was looking at my surroundings, taking in the smells, sights and sounds and looking out at the horizon. The tide was coming in fast and the wind was blowing hard. Some of the spray caught up in the incoming wind and blew in my face. I looked at the sea and watched as the waves crashed onto the sea defence rocks. "white horses" I thought...and then I began to wonder what was the origin behind the term
'white horses". I felt that there had to be something magical behind it so decided to do some research to see what I could find out...

It transpired that white horses are well known in stories of mythology in one form or another. The ‘white horse’ of the sea is just one of them.

Poseidon is a Greek God and is a God of many things - the sea, floods, earthquakes, droughts, water, sea creatures and horses. He looks to me a powerful God, fearless and sometimes aggressive. When I look out to the sea on a windy and chilly day, like I did the other day, you can almost feel his presence - the deep sea is something that has always terrified me - the cold dark deep blackness and the power behind those waves. Even on warm, still days when the waves are gentle, there is still that power.

I wondered why Poseidon relates to the white horse and why we see them on our shorelines...

It is said that Poseidon had a bit of a thing for Demeter, Goddess of grain and the harvest. Demeter was not really impressed by Poseidon and in order to prove his love, she asked him to make her the most beautiful animal in the world. 

Apparently, he made several other animals first, such as the camel, zebra and hippo, but Demeter was not impressed, when at last he made her the most beautiful white horse with long flowing main and tail, sculpting it from the turbulent waves of the sea. Whether that won her heart or not was neither here nor there, as Poseidon’s interest in Demeter had waned. Maybe he felt that the first horse wasn’t as it should be, making many more until he was happy with it. The white horses we see today as we walk along our shores and beaches are perhaps all those other horses that I made first and they are free to roam the seas, chasing each other, galloping to the sands and back out to the sea.

While I was researching white horses and their connection to the sea, I mentioned earlier that there are lots of other connections with white horses in ancient cultures and it was interesting to find out what they were, so I thought I would share them with you. You may have heard of some or all of them...

Rhiannon, a Welsh Goddess, rides upon a white horse. which links her to the fertility Goddess Epona, protector of horses and who is said to escort the souls of the dead to the otherworld upon a team of white horses.

We can’t forget Pegasus - son of Poseidon. Pegasus was a white winged horse god. He is one of the most recognised figures in Greek stories - he was the creator of a fountain on Mount Helicon. He resided there and was, one day, caught and ridden by Bellerophon, a Greek hero, slayer of monsters! This particular time, Bellerophon was on a mission to kill Chimera, a monster with a head of a lion, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. Pegasus went on to be companion in many other exploits before Zeus transformed him into a constellation and placed him in the sky.

White horses are mentioned in Hindu mythology too. Many times in fact. In ancient writings, one of them is called Puranas, it is mentioned that while the devas and demons were churning the milky oceans - Samundra Manthan as it was known - a precious animal appeared from the waters. A snow-white horse with seven heads.

The chariot of the sun deity Surya is drawn by seven white horses, although it is also thought that each horse is each colour of the rainbow.

White horses are mentioned in Korean mythology as well as stories from the Philippines, Vietnam and from the Native Americans.

Why horses? and in particularly, white horses?

Although they can mean different things in different cultures, the symbol of the horse always comes across as one of freedom and power. White signifying wisdom. Riding horses gives the rider a feeling of unbridled freedom, free to go wherever they want with the wind in their hair and the power of the horse beneath them. Horses were our first means of transport - goods and with carrying heavy items as well as ourselves.

The horse represents spirit, similar to freedom which is perhaps they resonate with so many cultures. They represent inner strength, physical strength and vitality and our desires.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Rowan Tree by Unity

The Rowan Tree by Unity

Pyrus aucuparia/domestica/tourmalinis
Other names: Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, Tree of life, Lady of the mountains, Wicken tree

Planetary ruler: Sun
Element: Fire
Gender: Feminine
Deities: Brighid

Magical properties: Psychic powers, Healing, Power, Success, Protection, Divination, Faeries, luck

Rowan is a beautiful tree and is a species of the rose family. It grows to between 10-20 meters tall and is native to the Northern Hemisphere it has Ash-like leaves and in May-June is covered with masses of creamy-white scented flowers with 5 petals and in August with stunning clusters of bright orange/red berries with a pentagram at their base. It is grown as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens, but in the wild it will grow almost anywhere.

The berries are a favourite food of birds, but shouldn't be eaten raw by humans as they can make you very ill and be poisonous to children. Cooking makes the fruit safe and it's used in Britain to make a bitter jelly as an accompaniment to game, jams and preserves. They can also be used for wine making and to flavour beers and spirits. In Austria they have a Rowan schnapps and the Czechs make a Rowan liquor. If you fancy cooking with Rowan berries there are many recipes out there, they are very bitter, but it's said they are a bit more palatable if picked after the first frost.

In the Ogham alphabet Rowan is Luis and its meaning is psychic protection, intuition and insight.

In the Celtic tree calendar Rowan is the 2nd month which starts on January 21st - February 17th.

Rowan is associated with the Goddess Brighid who carried fiery arrows made from rowan wood.

The Rowan has a long been seen as a magical tree of protection and was often planted near homes to protect them from malevolent beings, sorcery, storms and lightening. In Northern Britain rowan sprigs were also fixed above cattle barns to protect the animals.

Rowan trees were often planted near groves and stone circles for protection. It was believed that the trees were guarded by serpents and dragons.

The berries and leaves can be used in Incenses to call up spirit guides and to aid divination and inner journeys.

Hang a small bag of the berries over your door to protect your home from negativity.

Carry the leaves, twigs or berries with you for personal protection, healing and luck. They will also protect you from storms at sea.

Two twigs made into an equal armed cross and tied with red thread are a traditional rowan protection charm for your home.

Rowan and Apple jelly

1kg (2lb 4 oz.) rowan berries, taken off their stems and washed
500g (1lb 2 oz.) sour apples washed and cut into quarters
granulated sugar

Put the rowan berries and apple pieces in a big heavy bottomed pan and cover with water. Cook gently for 40 minutes. After this time the water will be red and the fruit very soft. Strain the fruit through a fine sieve or jelly bag reserving the liquid. Do not be tempted to squash the fruit it will result in a cloudy jelly.  Measure the liquid, and put it in to a clean pan. For every 550mls of liquid add 450g sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil until it reaches setting point and pour into sterilized jars. – the jelly will set at around 104°C, check it by putting a bit onto a very cold plate and seeing if it wrinkles when you push your finger through it. Put lids on the jars as soon as soon as they are cool enough to handle.


Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender
Tree wisdom - Jacqueline Memory Paterson

The Celtic wisdom of trees - Jane Gifford

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Raccoon: The Masked Bandit by Starlitenergies

Raccoon: The Masked Bandit by Starlitenergies

Raccoons are incredibly adaptable, so they can be found in a wide range of climates and habitats. Swamps, marshes, banks of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, in the vastness of the desert and prairie, in the seclusion of forests, on the top of mountains and the bottom of canyons, and in cities and suburbs. Raccoons are happy anywhere from a whole in the ground to a cubby in a loft. They are found in North and Central America, Europe and even Japan. Raccoons don’t really have much of a range, they don’t wander too far, raccoon symbolism is all about being flexible and adaptable with what’s available. The message I get is stay close to home and find sustenance, even wealth, wherever I am.

Raccoons are omnivores, and will eat anything, plant insect, trash or animal. The vegetation in their diet is thought to consist of apples, acorns, berries, citrus fruit, wild grapes, nuts, corn, figs, plums, wild grapes, peaches, even cherries. When it comes to meat raccoons love invertebrates which make up most of their diet, but they do treat themselves to frogs, fish, crayfish, rodents and bird’s eggs when they come across them. In the winter when food is scarce, they don’t mind rummaging through human waste or eating roadkill so basically whatever they can get their little paws on. He teaches luck, curiosity and exploration. He will help you to explore all the options that you may have in certain situations in order to get what you what. He teaches patience and making wise decisions.

You have everything you need… A quote comes to mind:

“Everything you need you already have. You are complete right now; you are a whole, total person, not an apprentice person on the way to someplace else. Your completeness must be understood by you and experienced in your thoughts as your own personal reality” – Wayne Dyer

These round, fuzzy creatures with bushy tails and the characteristic black fur mask may look like cuddly bandits, but there’s no denying they can be formidable when approached.

We should be cautious about approaching them; they’re a common carrier of rabies, ringworms and leptospirosis according to The Human Society. Although only one person has reportedly died from a raccoon bite.

So back to that mask, according to PBS Nature one theory is that the black mask around a raccoon’s eyes help deflect glare and helps with night vision. Raccoon is marked from birth and has the reputation for being a trickster and night time bandit in disguise.

Raccoon teaches us about the nuances of disguise and what we do when we think we’ll go unrecognised. In movies, cartoons and drawings the archetype of the thief is pictured so often with a black mask. In many legends, raccoon is busy stealing things under the cover of night or out from under the noses of blind people. Raccoon symbolism is closely linked with what we might be blind to or what others are blind to in us.

When we wear a mask, or watch a character in a movie wear a mask there is the unwritten understanding that the wearer is attempting to escape the consequences of their actions. Even the thief who is robbing from the rich to give to the poor like Robin Hood still have to hide and evade because they are operating outside of the law.

In the end, raccoons in legends are always caught and marked as thieves as evidenced by their face mask and ringed tail. In our world, we may escape without any consequences, but we will still have the inner doubt that plagues us. What if someone did find out? Raccoons have the sweetest, charming little faces and they aren’t above playing the innocent to get away with something they want. Is it worth evaluating how you use a disguise to get away with things? Having said that, sometimes it is necessary to wear different masks in life, they’re different aspects of our personality, at work I’m a professional, with strong boundaries and a level head, at home I allow my emotions and passions to flow.

There is a splash of white all around the edges of the black eye mask of the raccoon. This can point to an inherent goodness shining out, a need to be recognised for the light we are in the world. Sometimes the masks we put on aren’t necessary and can be born of a shame that requests healing.

According to National Geographic, raccoons are about as big as small dogs; they can grow to about 23 to 37 inches (60-95cms) and weigh 4 to 23lbs (1.8 to 10.4 kilograms).

They aren’t very social creatures; they sleep during the day, making them nocturnal. During the winter they tend to sleep more, but it’s thought they don’t actually hibernate in the traditional sense. They do however lose around 50% of their body weight according to the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web (ADW). This speaks of their determination and cleverness, they prepare as best they can with what they have and then, they stick around and tough it out. Raccoon comes along when we’re not really connecting, he reminds us that it’s ok to be shy but after a certain period of time, when you get to know people better, you can be very sociable, and people do enjoy our company.

Perhaps surprisingly these creatures are very clean, raccoons have been spotted washing their food in streams and even digging latrines in areas they frequent. He helps us to wash our hands of our wrongdoings before enjoying the incredible opportunities that surround us.

Babies are known as kits or cubs, they can usually be spotted in the early summer, mother raccoons can have between one and seven kits after a gestation period of 60-73 days. As a group a mother and her kits are called a nursery. They are protective mothers, teaching us about protecting those that are dear and precious to us.

For the first two months of their lives, kits live in the den and are weened at 7 to 16 weeks. At 12 weeks, they start to roam away for whole nights at a time; they become completely independent at 8 to 12 months, and live around 2-3 years in the wild according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He teaches us about our relationships with others, are we holding on too tight? He also teaches us about independence and letting go.

According to ADW raccoons can run up to 15mph and can fall 35 to 40 feet without injury. They also have 5 toes on their front paws, which act much the same way as our hands and fingers.
They have lightening quick paws to grab aquatic creatures, pluck mice and insects from hiding places, and invade bird nests to take tasty eggs. He helps us assess how we handle situations.

He is known for going on night time raids!

We all steal from time to time, be it something as simple as a pen or as invisible as the attention of another. Stealing energy or time from another person, even stealing from their reputation by mentioning their name wears away at the fabric of who we are over time. Raccoon teaches us how to notice the tell-tale signs in ourselves of when we are snatching up little bits that might not be ours, he helps us move further into integrity.

Image - Wikipedia