Autumn Equinox


My ritual for the Equinox went well, but once more I was winging it. This time it was because I was ill or on holiday and there will always be some circumstances where you have to wing it.

We went to the local woods to pick berries and got a good lot of blackberries. Hubby found a tree which had sloes which were nearly as big as grapes so we picked a lot to make sloe gin, which I will wassail the trees with at the Winter Solstice.

Sloe Gin


I’ve been making sloe gin to celebrate the Winter Equinox with.

Most people wait until the first frost to collect berries, but we’ve just had the first frost in November and I didn’t think I’d get it done in time for the Winter Equinox. So instead I put the berries in the freezer.

The freeze is needed to break down the cells in the berries, which provide the taste and colour of sloe gin.

Winter Solstice


I celebrated the Winter Solstice by taking my home-made sloe gin and giving it as an offering to our tribal tree and two of the guardian trees around the area.  In our area there is a guardian tree for the forest and one for our estate.  The forest’s one is an oak, the tribal tree is an ash and the one for our estate is a lombardy poplar.

Guardian trees are (in lore) native trees, but the lombardy poplar is definitely a guardian tree as it’s awake enough to talk in winter.  Deciduous trees that are not guardian trees start going to sleep as they lose their leaves and by winter they’re sound asleep.  I haven’t tried talking to any evergreen trees yet.

With each tree I poured a little bit of the sloe gin out at three places at the base of the tree, but only with our tribal tree I took a mouthful of the sloe gin myself.  Drinking part of the offering binds you to the entity you are doing the offering to and I wish to keep the guardian trees of the area separate from our tribal tree.

The sloe gin was made a while ago.  It would have been better if I had sloe gin which had been made from the sloes in the area, but of the blackthorn trees in the forest only one of them had fruit on it, and as there were only one or two sloes I left them for the forest.  However, I don’t yet know all of the forest and I hope there are blackthorn trees elsewhere which will have sloes on.

Foraging


Foraging is more often called wildcrafting, but I prefer to call it foraging.  It’s the art of collecting food from the wild.

Last weekend I went into the woods to forage and to introduce my betrothed to our tribe’s tree.  The introduction went smoothly enough, as it was not a ritual, just as you would introduce one friend to another.

Then my bloke stepped back and said “first thoughts : our tree is at a crossroads, is there any significance in this?” upon which I hit my head because I should have realised that!

There will be a ritual to solemnize the relationship between our tree and us, but I’m still working on it.  I’m using a form of poetry called quatrains, which are used in the Irish texts and I’m finding it very hard going.

We found some blackberries, which I will eat for breakfast with yoghurt, hawthorns which I have a chutney recipe to try out and oak leaves.  There were only a few rose hips and a good few sloes, but I have a bottle of homemade sloe gin sitting at home.  I’ve only recently remembered that I should have taken the sloes out six months ago, so I’ll have to do that soon and tell you all if it’s drinkable…

The oak leaves are for an infused oil that I’ve started making for the wood of my stang/rod that I’m also making.  I don’t know if the leaves will infuse properly, plus I’m using olive oil as my base instead of sunflower (because olive oil comes from trees) so I’ll have to see what happens.

We also found the old part of the forest.  It has some marvellous trees – a huge hawthorn, the biggest I’ve ever seen that towers up to the sky.  I really wanted to investigate it properly, but time was getting on and we needed to forage.  It’s going to take me a lot of time to get to know this wood properly.