Monday, 29 June 2009

Ogham Flags...part 2

The next set of flags....using felt made by Ian for the ogham symbols.

And a shot of my meadow for no other reason than it looks beautiful.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Ogham Flags...part 1

Yesterday I finished one set of flags....this morning I sat beneath them in the sunshine and enjoyed the gentle breeze.

The film about making the flags was posted earlier and is here if you missed it.

Fi has done a wonderful job of providing a bit more information and some intriguing facts about be posted soon.

Listening to this

Words and Images

A beautiful collaboration... Ian's image and Liz's words. Prints of this will be displayed in the Taurus Crafts as part of the Open studios Taster Exhibition. More about that here

The Celtic Year

Celtic clans gather
Collect and chatter
Marking the year

From Samhain to Lammas
From seed fall to horse time
From Imbolc to Beltain
From ice time to shoots grow

Artists and artisans
Storytellers and soothsayers
Bind the clans
With unity of belief

Friday, 26 June 2009

A Beltaine Legend

Long before the birth of Christianity the Tuatha De Danann (The people of the Goddess Danu.) arrived in Ireland in clouds of mist. They had many magical powers and were worshipped and revered by mankind whose fate they controlled.
Eventually man developed in sophistication and cunning and invaded Ireland. The first men to arrive were the sons of Mil. They arrived by sea and took the Tuatha by surprise, landing in Ireland on the feast of Beltaine.
Sadly for the Gods who hadn’t time to weave a strong enough spell to drive them back. The Milanians called upon their own druid to calm the seas and banish the druidic wind that was blowing them back. Two battles were fought- the first in Glenn Faisti, a valley of the Slieve Mish Mountains south of Tralee, and the second at Tailtiu. The Gods marched forward valiantly armed with lances of blue flame and shields of pure white. In both battles the Gods were beaten. No sorcery could overcome the Sons of Milan.
Not even Lug’s magical spear or the sword of Nuada were enough. Not even the Morrigu as they flew above the battle bellowing and screaming, summoning the demons of the air as they urged the Tuatha to destroy the oncoming invaders. But the sons of Milan, although only mortal, had magic of their own. They called upon their druids who fought with the Morrigu and banished the terror and panic that she tried to instil into their hearts. The sons of Milan took the sacred Lia Fail – the stone of destiny for their own, using it to crown their Kings and Queens. Though never again did it cry out to pronounce a sovereign, mortal men had become the heirs of the earth. Badh’s prophecy of the twilight of the Irish gods had been fulfilled. The people of the Goddess Danu no longer ruled the earth.
Many of the Tuatha, although defeated in battle stayed in Ireland. They retreated underground taking with them immortality and their magic knowledge. Using their divine powers they managed to deprive their invaders of corn and milk. It was not until men agreed to pay homage and send offerings to the Gods was their corn or milk returned.
For those that stayed, the sons of Milan agreed to divide the land between them. They took the land above the earth and the Tuatha took that below. Their homes were called the Sidh. A mound or hill with a secret doorway into their magical realm where they lived in underground chambers of great splendour decorated in gold and silver. There were fruit trees that were always abundant in fruit; there was always a pig to roast and naturally an inexhaustible supply of ale. Here Dagda’s magical cauldron of plenty overflowed with abundant delicious meats. Here they listened to Dagda’s magic harp, which he used to change the weather and the seasons, as faeries, clouded in mist, invisible to mankind. Ruled by Dagda, a kind and just God, they became known as the Aes Sidhe.There were even mixed marriages with the invaders and those who chose to give up their immortality to live on the land.
Led originally by Manannan Mac Lir, son of the sea and lord of the headlands, many of the Tuatha left to seek refuge in a paradise overseas. Mainly they went South and West. Some of them though went east and found homes on where we know now as the British Isles. They went in search of island valley of Avilion. Although Manannan still visited Ireland telling his great adventure stories.
Others moved deeper in to the bowels of the earth with Morrigan, the war Goddess; Macha, the red war goddess; Badb, the black war goddess, battle raven and seer and Nemain, goddess of strife and panic. The mighty Morrigu followed their leader. They swore a sacred vow and plotted their revenge. They would return to their country and defeat the mortals, who had stolen their land. Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess, immortal witch and fairy queen would return the land to the gods, demons, giants and dragons.

When compared to modern religions the story of the conquest of the Gods by man seems an unusual concept. However once you are aware that the Celts also believed that man was a direct descendent of the God of death, this makes their victory more plausible than it would previously appear.

Retold by Marie Jordan

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Seven Sisters

I was coming up the stairs to post something about my Solstice weekend....then I saw this painting in the afternoon light. Its the Severn Sisters, the Pleiaides. Made me think of Fi's story and some of the images for the two rivers theme she is working on at the moment. I have had this painting many years and still see something new.

Beautiful image of the stars here

Solstice soon I hope....

High Cross and Gum Tree Sunset

At the Equinox Sue from Brisbane made her lovely Celtic cross and paper bark (eucalyptus) collage. After staying here in the forest briefly in April she went on to Ireland and visited some of the places from families' past. The Solstice photo montage above combines the local tree and spectacular sunset with a bit of Ireland. (click on the image to enlarge)

and here is the original collage.

More Introductions

This time from Lindsey who said -
I decided this had to relate to our garden which is my obsession just now, where I feel safe and where my creativity has less barriers to leap.


Hibernation frustration prevarication
Obfuscation delegation derogation
Family friends fire, friendly huddling fire
Denying debilitation
Warning off the bite of cold – and walking

Thought pathways stymied connections severed
Passively resisting hope and change
But walking, always walking - against the wind
Unconsciously mending
Sorting threads and seeking thimbles
Against the pricks of mind’s onslaught

Long hours of darkness for debating
Games and other couch potatoing
Chilly moving quickly from the kitchen sink
Stagnant already following winter habits
But walking, always walking – trying to think
And loving, unconditionally loving
Even when I want to scream
….I must be out


I am not clean or clear
I should sort those stale and stifling winter thoughts.
…..I must be out.
I pull weeds and hear the tears of familiar comforting excuses
They groan and cry
My back groans and I sigh back but
…..I must be out.

I see the inherent succession
I feel the growth ahead and calm companion planting
…..I must be out
Winter thoughts and weed now thinning
They don’t want to depleted but
…..They must be out

I’m now planning
For the dismal north facing roadside garden
….I must be out
We need balance harmony peace and reflection
With less sarcastic inflection
.…I must be out


Imbolc inspired
I sculpt a well-like pond and S shaped stream
A spring from rocks left by the glaciers that formed “The Hill”
Pebbles from a river bed and gravel to meditate by

Twisted hazel guards the spring and winks
Generous peris hebes and dark elders echo their reds and pinks
Rangy rhododendrons flounce their frilly skirts girlishly to remind me

It is not all about the garden it is all about me
It is unfinished – like I wish to be
I paint with stone soil plants they feed me give me joy and
….. I’m OUT!


Sanctuary in the garden “shopping” for tea
A warm haven after a working day
A daily celebration a giving thanks
A gathering of bounty stresses pushed away

Feasting with family and friends
The simple pleasures the country fairs
Selling cakes in the market and basking in sun
The tactic avoidance of life’s little snares

Storing up energy for there and then
Building up treasures pleasure for reflection
And friends whose birthdays I never remember
But think of more often with enduring affection

Only sitting with a book in the garden
The cats and dog lying around me
With bees in the flowers surrounding
And basking (did I mention) in sun
……I am OUT!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Six Sisters

The solstice brings me new forms of artistic expression.

I've been inspired by Sally, and Liz's work on the Celtic Year Exhibition book, and a conversation with Lori (who's a visual artist and who'll be sharing the stage with me, Sally and Liz at a Words & Ideas event - where we talk about mixing art forms - as part of the Coleford Festival of Words) and by a brief chat with the organiser of a book-making workshop in Abergavenny (that me and Sally were going to attend but which has had to be called off unfortunately).

Anyways, all of this has inspired me to start developing my own book around the theme of duality of rivers. The theme's pertinent to the places that I've lived because I realised that everywhere I've made a home there've been two rivers nearby.

I've started drafting ideas for tales related to these rivers.

This morning I've written this one for the Stour, for the time I lived in Ashford in Kent.


The Six Sisters

Once upon a warm June midnight, six sisters met up.
This was the first time that they'd been all together since they were infants.
All had important work to do independently, apart, for they were water-sprites.
But they missed each other.
They had missed each other for a very long time.
Eventually, they'd sent and received word between them that a coming-together was much overdue.

They chose midsummer's eve as the date for their meeting up.
They were filled with excitement about seeing each other, so full of excitement in fact that they forgot to choose a place for their meeting.

So when midsummer's eve came around, the sisters independently, apart, decided they'd just have to trust on instinct, set out in what felt was the best direction, and hope that they'd find their way to each other, sooner or later.

Being water-sprites, wherever their feet touched the ground, water sprang up, and so they travelled by spring and brook, by pond and well.

Their paths meandered here and meandered there until the sisters had covered between them sixty miles of watercourse.

And miracle of solstice miracles, at the very last moment of Midsummer's Eve, in the grounds of Christchurch Priory, the six sisters met up.

What a party they had, with their dancing and singing and feasting!

Their exuberance was such that by the time the new day was at its height the sprites had sprung a mighty river.
The sprites named the river the Stour, which means the strong, powerful one.
And the Divine Celeste, entertained and uplifted by the sprites' joy gave a blessing to the river and filled it and its banks with all manner of vegetation and wildlife.

The sprites were grateful to the Divine Celeste and made up songs about the river's abundance to show their appreciation.

The White-legged Damsel fly, the Stone-Bach and Pike,
the Scarce Chaser Dragonfly, Barbel and Perch,
the Yellow Water Lily, Gadwall and Dace,
Savis Warbler, and Shoveller, Bittern and Sundew,
The Soft Hornwort and Asphodel.

All of them were celebrated.

And although the sprites had to go back to their work, independently and apart, from that Mid summer's eve onward, they would regularly make their way to and fro along the streams and the river that they'd created to visit with each other.

And every summer solstice the river would ring with the sounds of the six sisters' partying.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Fire Festivals

Ian's fire images soon to feature in the Celtic Year booklet that Liz is producing for the forthcoming Celtic Year Exhibition.

Samhain - Flamin' Shapes

Imbolc - Green Shoots

Beltain - Chiral Icons

Lammas - End of Round Tower

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Flagz n Handz Mix

Preparations for the Coleford Writers Festival and Forest Open Studios continue in earnest.

Recently as part of our continuing research into Ethnomycology, Sally, Fi and I have noticed that given the right conditions the fungi Daldinia concentrica, commonly known as King Alfred's Cakes (see image right) is capable of creating intricate patterns similar to those on a Twister board, which, when placed to music make fascinating images.
We enrolled 3,000 local schoolchildren to experiment and managed to create the world's largest Ogham Hand Crossword Puzzle.

Watch and enjoy

Inspired by the Hands of Fatima, Dayak hand tattoos and Mr Scruff

The Psychic Monk

Friday, 12 June 2009


This is Liz's response

How do you relate to Samhain – how do you rest and refresh yourself, how has your life-path led you to this point, what are your spiritual and cultural roots, who or what do you listen or attend to for guidance, who are your mentors? Do the night-time and darkness figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

As the year enters its annual dark phase I find my life has begun its own phase of darkness and unhappiness. I am not where I want to be, or doing what I want to do. There are souls who wish me ill and are working to cripple my spirit.

The black dog of depression and its paranoia puppy leap around my feet, waiting for me to trip into their shadow. My duvet becomes a café of sanctuary and sanctity. My lover’s arms sooth and build confidence.

In the depths of sadness, joy exists in the love of my family and friends. My grandson’s first birthday and the yuletide celebrations remind me of the truth of myself and the falsity of those who work to crush my soul.

How do you relate to Imbolc – what are you wishing to bring out in the new growth cycle ahead, what are your plans, hopes and aspirations. Do sacred waters, streams, wells and flowing waters figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

My new life begins. From great sadness and closed doors a clear path opens. I’m unemployed and wobbly, but I sense a part of me beginning to open, to hope, to dare to try.

Buried creativity and imagination burst to the surface; muddled and confused. Experimentation with a variety of art forms gives me confidence to play with my own creative yearnings.

Walks along the river bank in crisp snow cleanse and restore me. The snow covers everything bare and sad, yet as it melts it removes negativity to reveal new life beginning to grow. I am part of this process; I’m renewing my connection with the universe and her eternal life force, where everything is possible.

How do you relate to Beltain – what have you recently put into place, what new projects have you activated, where are you putting your energies at the moment? Do stones, trees, plants and place figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

My energies have grown, risk taking is fun; play is creative. Trusting my instincts is the true path to contentment.

Black dog and paranoia puppy have been banished to their kennel.

New creative spirits have entered my life and shown me new paths, new ideas, new possibilities. Tumbling thoughts emerge in writing, knitting and an installation.

Submissions and competitions; rejection and success!

Part time work training and lecturing reminds me of a forgotten pleasure and reward. My confidence builds and business is looking up.

Rainy festivals and tornadoes demonstrate the universe’s power and sense of humour. Music and dance take our cares away and we laugh.

The riverside has grown; wild garlic and wood anemones abound. The scent of garlic is heady and pungent; anemones shout the promise of summer in their delicate light shades. Tress and shrubs burst with leaves and blossom. Sheep call expectantly in the meadows and birds shout their joy from the tree tops as ducks scud and flap across the busy river.
Life is good – the fire of life burns anew, with a different flame.

How do you relate to Lammas – how do you celebrate your successes, what especial communities do you belong to, who do you share your ideas with and how? Do fairs and festivals figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

The Celtic Year community absorbs my time as Lammas approaches; encouraging, sharing, enlightening, energising. So many ideas, such little time!

As summer grows, so do I; confidence in my own power to create success develops.

The results of my creative labour are seen in my cooking, my vegetable garden, my writing, my textiles and my art.

I look forward to my daughter’s wedding a few days after Lammas. Dresses, shoes, flowers and cakes dominate our happy conversations. My grandson grows delightfully; his humour, positivity and unconditional love inspire and humble me.

Stronger connections with fellow believers are developed. We know we can use the power of our sprits to connect with the universal power, to attract and create the realities we want for ourselves and our communities.

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Inspired by are the first festivals..more to follow
Sally x


How do you relate to Samhain – how do you rest and refresh yourself, how has your life-path led you to this point, what are your spiritual and cultural roots, who or what do you listen or attend to for guidance, who are your mentors? Do the night-time and darkness figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

Being in places that are special to me, solitude to look, listen and feel those places is deeply refreshing for me. The act of painting become a meditation (a very active and messy one!) as I reconnect with the energy of those special places. The places that inspire me are often the overlooked verges, paths, wastelands, edges of fields, neglected orchards as well as the huge open moors ....places left to their own devices...surviving and flourishing in adversity.
My maternal grandfather was Scottish, with red hair and an Irish clan surname. As a child I could barely understand a word he said...but a deeper communication has influenced my life and work.
A secondary school maths teacher opened the wonderful door of symmetry and code. A watercolour teacher prided himself on reaching me before I started painting tight photorealistic work... if I’m tempted to start fiddling with a painting I hear him saying ‘no use a much bigger brush!’.
Tarot has been a life companion for many years....particularly influential in providing a different perspective in times of darkness....perspective being something I enjoy ignoring in my work ...but strive for in my life.


How do you relate to Imbolc – what are you wishing to bring out in the new growth cycle ahead, what are your plans, hopes and aspirations. Do sacred waters, streams, wells and flowing waters figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

Much of my work has been an attempt to paint The Summerland. The Celtic heaven. Refer to by many religions and beliefs Summerland is the place where your spirit goes to reflect and consider your life. A place of endless summer...a place of beautiful meadows, woodland and clear water.
Through this recurring theme in my work, I try to achieve an energy and spiritual balance through experimentation with colour, space, line and texture in the foreground, which contrasts to the tranquillity of the distance....perspective again!
Next year I am planning a major Summerland exhibition...touring a number of plans, hopes and aspirations reside there.
The Celtic Year blog has been a source of joy and inspiration...a chance to try new things (including writing about myself!). I have many hopes...but no plans...for its continuation.
I grew up on an island off an island, Holy Island off Anglesey. I visit and dream of Bali, Orkney and Skye...often. I live on a forest island between the rivers’ Severn and the Wye. Enough said...water or islands specifically definitely feature in my life now and hopes for the future.

Stone Gossip

I have been lucky enough to visit these prehistoric standing stones in Portugal many times. The first time we camped for the night at the edge of the circle. The moon was very nearly full...during the night the stones moved ...their positioned changed as the female forms moved around and gossiped in least that's what I saw.
I wonder if the sculptor from Fi's post stayed here.

The Gossipers

Oh, I adore the Gossipers.

Their correct name might be Conversation Piece, I'll look them up, and also will look up the name of the artist who I've momentarily forgotten.

These Gossipers are in front of dunes over which is a beautiful seashore and harbour. There's a hotel nearby with the most fabulous large conservatory overlooking the harbour. The conservatory is a piano bar on certain evenings, and is filled with Native American Indian wooden carvings. Quite quite magical.


Angel, more

Sculptural Inspirations


In my biog I mentioned the Larkin Angel, and the Gossipers.

Here are some photographs. The Angel first.



we proposed to write (auto) biogs in a way that related to the four main festivals of the Celtic Year.

Please find my version below ... and know that I haven't done much about cutting a long story short ...


How do you relate to Samhain – how do you rest and refresh yourself, how has your life-path led you to this point, what are your spiritual and cultural roots, who or what do you listen or attend to for guidance, who are your mentors? Do the night-time and darkness figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

I rest and refresh myself by visiting my special places, and the pursuance of joy.
Walking recharges me.
I take part in body harmony and spiritual healing sessions to further my spiritual practice and for spiritual support
I attend to the natural landscapes for guidance, my recent mentors have been within the animal medicine cards, the I Ching, Sacred Path cards and my mam's Angel cards
I try and make sure that whenever it's needed I nurture the stillness within by having plenty of solitude and creative play

My life path has been journeys through wild and abundant spiritual landscapes, and through rocky ground, and I wouldn't be the person that I am if it hadn't been for the balance of the both

How do you relate to Imbolc – what are you wishing to bring out in the new growth cycle ahead, what are your plans, hopes and aspirations. Do sacred waters, streams, wells and flowing waters figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

My aspirations include …

Completing and promoting the anthology of sketches 'From Wear to Wye'

'Sending out' my full-feature screenplay Vorland

Playing with the newly-discovered (to me) Lyric Essay as a form of expression

Experimenting with different ways to present my text within an exhibition

Starting to write performance poetry and performing it well.

Participating in CFOW events

Leading my literary promenade for the Wye AONB

I grew up on the coast and have deep love of the sea.
Rivers have always been close by to where I lived (Tyne and Wear, Severn and Wye and Lyd) and special to me

How do you relate to Beltain – what have you recently put into place, what new projects have you activated, where are you putting your energies at the moment? Do stones, trees, plants and place figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

I enjoy site-specific work and since working for the Sculpture Trust as a PA for their Projects Manager and then as Community & Outreach Officer, working alongside site-specific visual and multi-media artists was a great inspiration.

I'm interested in the imprints in and around old buildings. I'd like one day to explore further the history of the 18th century cottage where I've lived for over 20 years.

From my garden I have an open view of a wooded valley which always refreshes me. Living in an ancient forest means that I have lots of choice for My Favourite Trees, a collection which I add to constantly

We grow our own vegetables, have mature fruit trees, and my particular favourite the herb beds (I have 23 varieties, the same as had P L Travers who wrote the Mary Poppins' books …)

Special places that I visit often include …

The Forest of Dean 'itself', so many personal tracks and paths
Dean Heritage Museum
Tintern Abbey
Garden Café, Lydbrook
Ross on Wye – especially the areas around Palace Pound, St Mary's Church (especially when they're doing bell practice on Tuesday evenings), the Phoenix Theatre
Riverbanks by the Kerne Bridge, Goodrich; at Ross on Wye; & Symonds Yat
Wye Valley from the Bigsweir Bridge to Tintern
Monmouth – from the Bridges, past the Monnow Bridge, to the Blake Theatre, to the avenue leading to Church Street
My childhood beaches on the north-sea coasts of Sunderland and South Shields, from the Roker Marina, Cat 'n Dog Stairs, Seaburn, Whitburn Bents and cliff top
The coastlands between Whitburn and Shields, the Marsden Grotto, Frenchman's Cove
The Boardwalk Hotel and conservatory alongside the harbour on one side and the sculptural Gossipers on the other
The Winter Gardens in Mowbray Park

College Green in Bristol, the canals and wharfs, St George's Tower and surrounding park

Gloucester Cathedral and Gloucester Docks area;
the Playsets room at the top of the Music and Drama library overlooking St Mary's churchyard;

The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham

Bridges and staircases and railway stations, especially old ones like Kemble and Stroud

The monumental Larkin Angel in Sunderland Cemetery
Fetternear graveyard in Aberdeen
Sculpture Trail

How do you relate to Lammas – how do you celebrate your successes, what especial communities do you belong to, who do you share your ideas with and how? Do fairs and festivals figure in your life, inspire you; and if so, how?

Fairs & Festivals that have inspired me:

Coleford Festival of Words CFOW
Hay on Wye festival
Cheltenham Literary festival

Who do you share your ideas with, collaborations & communities

Online community with the Celtic Year Project
With Roger – on our virtual rail journey project
With Sally and Nigel
With RIO (Real Ideas Organisation) artist partnerships – Littledean and the Cinderford Town Trail; Longlevens school doing website content.

The Training Assistants' programme – the students in their schools. I do some work for Glos College, based in Cheltenham, involved with the training of Teaching Assistants. I get to visit lots of classrooms and watch trainee TAs at their work, and enjoy the enthusiasms of the TAs and have made some good friends from college staff
WAC group – online community of professional women writers, they raise my game
Forest Bookshop – I'm a supporter of this independent book store and have made or been reunited with friends through events and dropping into the store.
Storytelling circles – although intermittent … in Forest, Stroud

Healing communities – including Bridges in Monmouth, at the Quaker House Healing Scheme in Sunderland

I celebrate my successes by: sharing them with the WAC group and with creative friends in and around the Forest.
Reading the collection of autobiog sketches
I am particularly enjoying the company of a group of about 10 friends who regularly attend the monthly Cabarets down the Garden Café

I have also begun a blog, which is at …

I have created some promotional material – post cards and business cards that I really like, and intend to start giving out at the CFOW

I am to be included in the Local Authors exhibition at the Dean Heritage Museum, and at the Old Signal Box, Tintern in July.