Getting Out


While I don’t hold with only observing the natural world and not reading books, it’s good to get out and about in nature and be able to identify some of the species you read about.

It would be good to be able to identify all local species; but this takes time, practice and a lot of looking at books. Plus some seemingly “wild” plants are garden escapes like Honesty and Oregon Grape, which I spent a lot of time trying to find in books about wild plants.

A friend came round yesterday and we walked through the woods to the pub. He’s seriously sporty, so for him it was a pleasant stroll, whereas for us it was a bit more of a challenge.

Just going through the old wood and seeing all the different shapes of trees which you don’t get where woods have been managed (this one wasn’t for a long time) was beautiful and something you cannot observe in books, where they show the bog-standard shape of the tree.

There are quite a few wild cherry trees and I was going to come back and harvest the fruit but it’s really bitter this summer; possibly not enough sun or something at the moment, so I’ll try again next year.

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Imbolc


Between the Winter Solstice and Imbolc I clear out the house. I go through my files and throw out/shred anything that’s no longer relevant, delete any files I don’t need on the computer and donate to charity any books or clothes I don’t want/need anymore. Unfortunately this year I only did some of the books and the files. I’m still helping hubby sort out his Mum’s place and being away every other weekend is taking its toll.

Imbolc was much busier than I had meant it to be. I did my ritual before breakfast. This was the first time I’d done a ritual straight after waking up and without having anything to eat for around eight hours. The ritual was heightened by my lack of sleeping and eating beforehand. I would like to experiment with a proper fast, but at the moment it’s inadvisable medically. I would recommend anyone who is able to do a pre-breakfast ritual to try it.

I had stopped writing rituals as they turned out to be mostly the same, but after Imbolc I will have to start writing again as I was so unprepared for it. I had meant to make Boxty Bread, which is a traditional Irish Imbolc dish which I made last year, but I got to the 31st and thought “aargh, it’s Imbolc tomorrow”.

The ritual went well, but it could have been a lot better. I did my usual post-ritual meditation and the deities were happy with my work, it was just that I’m not happy with it. Winging it is all very well on the odd occasion, but I want my rituals to have more substance and that means writing them, so I can plan things properly and have food and drink and other things in place before the ritual starts.

I had to go into the woods to get a branch to make my Brigit’s cross. The woods were a quagmire and I went in and out quickly as it was threatening to rain, but I got the wood I needed. When I made the cross I placed it over the front door for protection and then moved last year’s cross to the loft.

The old crosses traditionally go into the rafters to protect the house from fire and lightning, but I had moved them out as we were having work done on the loft. They’ve been waiting to go back in, so this was a good time to do so. I was surprised to find that I had five crosses to be placed in the loft – I didn’t realise I had been doing this for so long.

I also renewed protections on the house. Imbolc is a good time to do this, but if I miss it I will do it when I remember. The fact that I do it on Imbolc helps me remember, but it can be done any time of the year.

Linslade Woods


Linslade woods are my local woods, located just five minutes away from my front door.  Most woods in Britain are either owned privately or owned by the Forestry Commission, which is funded by the government.  There was a bill going through Parliament to sell off the woods owned by the Forestry Commission, but thankfully pressure groups managed to get the government to do a u-turn.

Linslade woods are very unusual in that they are owned and administered by a charity.  In the 70’s the landowner of Linslade woods died and his son inherited the woods.  The son was going to sell them off for housing, whereupon some local people banded together to stop this, and as a result the woods are now owned by a charity.

There are two parts to the wood.  The old part, which the son was trying to sell off, is bluebell woods and it feels unfriendly to humans, which is no surprise.  The new part consists of fields bought and planted in the 70’s and are very friendly to humans, because there are rides which horses use and people toboggan down in winter.  Also dog walkers use the new part of the forest, so it gets a lot of contact with humans, whereas the old part doesn’t get much contact with humans.

I am a member of Linslade woods.  It costs £5 for membership, £3 if someone in your family is a member and £2 for unwaged people.  I get invited to Action Days and events that are on.

The last action day was two weekends ago.  I learnt the old art of coppicing hazel and the not-so old art of weaving the hazel into baskets to go around the coppiced stools so the muntjac deer, which are an invasive species won’t eat the new shoots.