Thanks to her Madj, we Britain’s were given a 4 day weekend in honour of The Sovereign’s Diamond Jubilee this last weekend (that means 60 years on the throne to you and me). Not being satisfied with only a four-day weekend, I decided to add an extra and took the preceding Friday off work also.
Friday was to be a day dedicated to me, myself and I. Personal esoteric work left a lingering need for space and solitude, a day to indulge myself in those little past times which make me smile, make me feel connected to my Gods and Spirits and a day to forget everything troublesome.
The day started with a nice lie in and, to be fair, getting up at 8am is a lie in for me being one of those people who need little sleep. First order of business whenever I feel like indulging is to put the kettle on and make a pot of tea…and it has to be proper loose leaf tea mind you, specifically a blend of Darjeeling and Oolong. The leaves from Oolong tea swell in a way that’s perfect for a little early morning tasseomancy to see what the day has in store.
After Breakfast (i.e. the whole pot of the aforementioned tea and a couple of heavenly morning cigarettes) it was time to crack on with my to – do list. Firstly incense making. My Kyphi and ‘Ol’Hornie’ Incense were both so divine smelling, I had to make more, I was running low anyway so it was a good excuse. The kitchen soon filled with the scent of Pine Resin, freshly ground spices, Oak moss and Honey… never has my little kitchen smelt so damn sexy!
Having prepared the Kyphi which will be a couple more weeks before being done and rolled up my little balls of ‘Ol’ Hornie’ and set them to dry it was then the garden which beckoned me. A recent mix of sunshine and showers has brought everything on wonders, too well in fact and I desperately needed to get out there and tidy. My little Henbane seeds had finally decided to wake up after weeks and weeks of trial and error and once one emerged the rest soon followed and I now find myself with a healthy glut of seedlings which all needed pricking out to give them space to grow on. Brugmansias were re-potted, Belladonna moved to a less snail and slug friendly area of the garden, veg patch weeded, tomatoes potted on, potatoes earthed up, flowers dead headed, grass mowed…job done!
Whilst there I thought now would be a good time to get some Comfrey and St Johns Wort oils macerating. Picking a good few bunches of both herbs which being roughly shredded and added to glass jars were smothered with just enough Sunflower oil before sealing and giving a good shake. They now sit quietly infusing in the conservatory windowsill, St Johns Wort slowly turning pink before (hopefully) becoming crimson red. Both will be used in Skin Ointments which I will make in a few weeks. Soon it will be time to do the same with both Yarrow and Calendula and I find myself picking chamomile flowers (for tea and hair conditioner) on a daily basis at the moment.
The sun was holding back the clouds and as the old saying dictates I decided to make hay whilst the sun was shining. After a revitalising coffee I headed up The Downs for a stroll. Being completely alone with the spirits of a place for the first time in ages was exactly what I needed and it was a pleasure to see the pink Dog Roses out in bloom and looking fabulous. After returning something I had borrowed from the woods some time ago back to the earth, I sat beneath the lone Old Yew Tree. I lit a little incense and presented offerings of bread and wine to the roots of the Old Lady as I too sent down roots into the deep earth and unfurled branches towards the sky with my back resting against her downy ancient bark. There was no intent, other than to simply connect with the place, the land, to recharge batteries and just check in. Time slipped by like the breeze through the lofty branches overhead and before I knew it, it was time to uproot and head home but not before peaking my head through the ancestor’s window at The Coldrum Long barrow, it’s rare to get the place to one’s self for a decent amount of time these days!
I arrived home to a package courtesy of Mrs Graveyard Dirt. Some months ago she sent me a rather fine Pheasant which we ate for Easter dinner. She kindly saved and preserved the skin including wings, feet and tail for me and ‘Easter Cock’s’ skull was finally ready to be cleaned, having been macerating in water outside since then. The hide itself is more magnificent than I had expected and his colourings are truly glorious, a fine addition to my little hoard, and one I just can’t stop stroking! His skull was given a quick dunk in a biological washing powder solution to get the last bits off and finally soaked overnight in peroxide. He has since dried in the sun and looks surprisingly small and ever so fragile. I shall work with him more in the months to come.
‘A’ returned home from work just as I was getting an Apple and Cranberry cake out of the oven (move over 1950’s Housewives!) I could tell he had a tough day so I suggested we go for a walk “Oh and whilst we’re out can we collect some Elderflowers?” He immediately rolled his eyes as he realised there was an ulterior motive behind my seemingly kind suggestion of getting him some “fresh air”.
With thanks and blessings, Her ‘Eldership’ bestowed upon us two bags of wonderfully fragrant Elderflower heads. The weather was mild and dry and I could smell the scent of Elderflower on the breeze, I’m glad we didn’t wait till a few days later, the flowers were ready and bordering on being too far gone and stinky!
Back home, my Elder booty was sorted into three piles, one for wine, one for drying and one for cordial. The drying pile was suspended in a muslin hammock in the summer-house with the other drying herbs for use throughout the year. The wine pile was thrown into my fermenting bucket (after having the majority of the stems removed and bugs shaken free) with a demi john of boiled and sugared well water from Glastonbury’s Red spring. I can’t wait to see (or rather taste) how this one turns out!
Elderflower Cordial is so simple and I have to say this batch tastes amazing! All I do is take a good 20 or so Elderflower heads and place them in a bowl. In a saucepan I boil about 1-2 Litres of water and stir in a kilo of sugar. Once dissolved, pour over the flower heads along with a couple of heaped teaspoons of Citric Acid and a sliced Lemon (This year however I varied my recipe and added a bunch of fresh Lemon balm and the juice of a lemon instead!). Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave to steep overnight in the fridge. After 24 hours strain through sieve and boil again for a few minutes to sterilise then pour hot into a clean sterilised swing top bottle. I store mine in the fridge and it keeps longer than it physically lasts! (Yes! It’s so good we generally drink it all within the first couple of weeks!) I like to dilute my cordial to taste with fizzy spring water over loads of ice. It really is delicious and perfect for barmy British summer afternoons!
The Kent Garden show at the county showground was also going on all weekend from Saturday to Tuesday. We couldn’t resist and despite the weather being awful on Monday we thought it was well worth the £7 entrance fee because the bargains were plentiful. We limited ourselves to £50 and we got loads of goodies. My prize finds for the day were a stunning Datura stramonium plant (Jimsonweed) and a small Skullcap plant (which I am still unsuccessfully trying to propagate from seed). I highly recommend anyone local to visit this show at least once…I’m only gutted we missed the final sell off! Back home I planted up my goodies which also included a heady smelling Lemon Verbena Plant, Moroccan Mint and Mullein. I took my Mandrake seeds out of the fridge where they have been getting nice and chilly for the last two weeks, hopefully this seed will fare better than the last (fussy little critters!)
We watched the procession of boats on the Thames and the Concert outside Buckingham palace on the TV in aid of Ma’am’s 60th year on the throne. It occurred to me whilst I watched the festivities and saw her smile with genuine warmth at the crowds below that in a world, which seems to be changing on an almost daily basis and where technology moves faster than even I can keep track off, Queen Elizabeth II has been a constant for nearly 2 generations of her subjects. My parents have known only her on the throne, and so have I. As British citizens we don’t really realise, and I suspect we all take for granted, just how ingrained in our psyche she really is. Upon every postage stamp, every coin, every 5, 10 and 20 pound note we see her face. It makes me quite sad to think of a Monarchy without Liz. I am a royalist, I am therefore completely biased, but it gave me Goosebumps to see so many people from so many walks of life waving the union jack up and down the Mall, lining the procession to one of London’s most stunning royal residences…I was proud to be British, and I was proud of our Queen who in the face of such adversity over the years has maintained dignity, grace, poise and a sense of duty to her people, her country and community. She is, and long may she continue to be, a role model for us all!
Thanks Queeny for a truly Lovely Jubbly!