Friday, May 26, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Myth & Magic of the May Tree


Today I want to share some of the fascinating folklore surrounding the Hawthorn Tree which inspired this botanical card in the May Issue of Emerald Post (You can still get May's issue HERE)....

Folklore holds that Hawthorn trees possess magical properties and guard entrances to the Faery Realm. These often lone, gnarled and weathered trees stand sentinel at portals to the Otherworld. Across the verdant isles of Ireland and Great Britain you may notice the frequent presence of a single tree atop a barren hill, amid moorland or bog land, standing eerily alone. These are most often the well respected and revered Hawthorn Trees.

Hawthorn at Hound Tor, Dartmoor, Devon, England

Throughout Celtic lands, Hawthorns are found very near ancient standing stones and stone circles, sacred springs, and holy wells where visitors and pilgrims adorn the revered tree with ribbons, rags, cloth, or other offerings as they say a prayer, utter a wish, or offer gratitude. Referred to as Wishing Trees, Rag Trees, Faery Trees, or Clottie Trees, their branches hang low under the weight of wishes and prayers.

A Faerie Tree near Killary Harbour in Ireland
Though considered bad luck much of the time, Hawthorns can also bestow good luck and protection. Flowering in May, the Hawthorn has long been associated with May Day and the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane. The month of May is the only time one should take a sprig from a Hawthorn. A flowering branch was traditionally gathered on the eve of May 1st and placed on or above the threshold of the house to banish evil spirits and protect the household from misfortune, or caried by a maiden to attract a husband. Bathing in the May morning dew of hawthorn blossoms is said to bring health, beauty, good fortune, and even wealth.  A Hawthorn planted or growing near the home is said to protect it from lightning, storms, and, of course, witches.  



I’ve seen many a Hawthorn on my travels across Ireland and Great Britain. Almost always, there is one at the entrance to a stone circle and often draped with the offerings of visitors who’ve come before me. The places where the Hawthorns dwell, they do seem to hold a certain energy, a beauty, a clarity, and usually some peculiar weather like a harsh wind, a thick fog, or an eerie stillness. Perhaps it is only the landscape, specifically chosen by ancient peoples for such attributes or maybe, just maybe, it is the faeries.
Faery Hawthorn at Ballynoe Stone Circle - Ireland

Faery Hawthorn at Beaghmore Stone Circle, Ireland


Explore the world of Hawthorns and Folklore more :

Learn more about Faery Wish Trees HERE.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mushroom Monday

Some unknown gems from the wet spring rains:





Friday, May 12, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mushroom Monday

A collection of woodland gems, arranged on an oak burl.
May arrived on the wings of thunderclouds, with days of rain.
So the mushrooms are beginning to pop up.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mushroom Monday

They're Back

Lovely little edibles. Morels. I only picked 2 of the 9 I found. Letting the rest grow a bit

Morels, morels! I found 9 in the morning drizzle after several very wet days, all under a big red Oak. Other beautiful mushrooms have returned, too, after a very dry couple of months. So expect Mushroom Mondays to resume as long as the fungi are flowering here.




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Emerald Post Update

So far I've dispatched 4 months of Emerald Post and it has been a thrill to send the fruits of my Celtic inspirations to people near and far. Over at Emerald Post Blog I chronicle each month's post and its contents after I've sent them out (so I don't spoil the surprise of my recipients). In case you have wondered just what is in an Emerald Post, check out the past contents below. You can also click on the link in the captions to learn more. Emerald Post also introduced the Celtic Portal Collection of 8 Postcards and will soon offer a set of Mini Notecards. I'd also like to remind you that if you miss out on a month of Emerald Post, you can often grab a piece from past months individually if I have them leftover, such as my Dublin Icons Watercolor, Glendalough Blockprint, as well as March's 40 Shades of Green Butterfly.  

Today it is incredibly overcast and rainy which reminds me of my trips to Celtic lands (namely Scotland where it rained at least a bit for 14 days straight!). So it seems a good day to put The Chieftains on the stereo and brainstorm for the coming months' Emerald Posts.

March Emerald Post

http://emerald-post.blogspot.com/2017/02/inside-february-emerald-post.html
February Emerald Post

http://emerald-post.blogspot.com/2017/02/inside-january-emerald-post.html
January Emerald Post

http://emerald-post.blogspot.com/2017/01/yuletide-contents.html
December Yuletide Emerald Post

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Welcome Spring

Spring arrived yesterday, here in the Midwest with a sultry 87 degrees and a gorgeous blood orange sunset. Back to normal today with rain (thank goodness) and 60s. Spring is such a delicious, refreshing season. I hope it lingers, though yesterday had me fearing it would get skipped altogether.

May Spring be beautiful, long, and green. May we be blessed with blooms and rain a plenty. May the season inspire your soul. Go outside and greet the green.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day


May you always have
walls for the wind,
a roof for the rain,
tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you,
those you love near you
and all your heart might desire 

-Irish Blessing




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Virtually Visiting a Castle

Understandably not everyone can travel to the Celtic Isles and traipse around castle ruins. Even for those of us that have, it is always nice to revisit a place in spirit when we cannot in body. Thankfully to satisfy our appetites for the ancient, the crumbly, the stoic, and the arching magnificence that is a castle ruin - we can visit them on the web. Sometimes we stumble upon great interesting videos. Here are some of my favorites for you to watch as we near St. Patrick's Day:

*Click Full Screen on Videos to really enjoy !

Dundrum Castle is in County Down, Northern Ireland. We visited there in 2015. I was thrilled when I found this Time Team (an awesome long running BBC Archeology Show - any episode from Time Team is fascinating and so many are on YouTube) episode of an archeological dig at Dundrum Castle

Dundrum Castle



Now Dunluce Castle is near and dear to me. It is how I stumbled upon my Irish ancestry and my far off Irish ancestors, the MacQuillans, laid the first stones here on the cliffs of Antrim.

MacQuillan Towers of Dunluce Castle, County Antrim, Ireland

Looking out to sea from the Mermaid's Cave beneath Dunluce

The Connolly Cove Channel on YouTube is full of awesome short videos from all over Ireland. Below is one that introduces us to some basic history of Dunluce (for more in depth info I like the book Dunluce Castle by Colin Breen). There is also some incredible scenic drone footage of Dunluce below that includes a seaside look at the mermaid's cave:





Don't forget about all of Traveling Chariot's previous travel posts which you can access HERE

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Glendalough, Ireland


There is a magical, mystical place in a remote wooded valley, deep in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland. Some call it holy, many call it beautiful, but its name is Glendalough. Glen-duh-lock and it means Valley of the Two Lakes. It is a special place indeed. The woods which are now an Irish National Park are soft with moss and colored with that green light that only seems to shine in Irish woods. Hiking trails crisscross the seemingly ancient forest. The Poulanass waterfall rewards intrepid hikers who trek to its heights with a stunning view and the Glendasan river sings its song over the water-worn boulders below.

And then there is the history of this place. The ruins of an Early Christian Monastic settlement sit at the base of the woods. St. Kevin was a hermit and sought solitude and peace here at Glendalough in the 6th century. He later established a monastery here where he found peace with the wild animals of the woods. In fact, many of his legends involve animals, most famous is St. Kevin and the blackbird:


Legend holds that one day, St. Kevin, with his arms outstretched, knelt deep in prayer. As he did so a blackbird nested I his hand & laid an egg. St. Kevin, being compassionate & patient, did not move his hand nor remove the eggs until the birds hatched & flew away.



Today, many structures remain from the time of St. Kevin through later centuries when Glendalough served as a holy center. Tranquility, perhaps, is what the monks sought here and I can attest that here, tranquility remains.

This locus of peace and natural beauty seems to be at wild corner of Ireland, far from modernity but it is, in fact, just about an hour drive from the capital, Dublin. And if you ever go to Ireland, especially if you are only visiting Dublin, make a point to take a day bus trip to Glendalough. (Note: it's quite busy on weekends). It is such a great slice of the history, landscape, & soul of Ireland. 

My visits to Glendalough inspired a block print in February's Emerald Post and it is still available HERE.








We captured this view after we accidently took one of the longer, and much steeper trails that Glendalough has to offer. Pretty much worth it though.




Original Block Print of Glendalough - Available HERE