Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

First Harvest Of The Year

Tree Felling at Cae Non

Coppiced elder as sustainable fuel source, ready for cutting into logs.

Harvest can happen at any time of year and we are just in the process of bringing  in our first crop for 2020.

In these uncertain and worrying times, it is wonderful to be able to still participate – and write about – something normal and positive. This last two weekends, my family and I have begun harvesting our first ‘crop’ of sustainable fuel from our land at Cae Non. Due to the almost continuous rain this past few months it is much later in the spring than we had originally intended but, despite the hindrance, all is now going very well. Even so, we have been working under quite difficult conditions, wading about in a good six to nine inches of water, mud and slutch and regularly getting our feet firmly stuck fast. Mud and cold water have splashed everywhere and tool handles have had to be regularly wiped clean, too slick and slippy to handle without the danger of the them flying out of our hands.

Our much-loved five acre plot officially came into our possession in June, 2011. The following January I spent some interesting days out in the bitingly cold wind and rain/hail planting my first small stand of willow. I had no idea what I was doing and set the willow whips far too close together – lesson learned for next time! We also put in a small patch of alder at the same time and these have also just been cut for the first time.

I cannot say that it has not grieved me to see our first trees – which I have talked to, loved and encouraged to grow – felled to the floor, but I always knew that that was our plan. I know that they will rise again. Indeed they are already doing so! We have not clear-felled but left some of the trees so that the land and the wild life aren’t impacted too drastically. It will be another seven years before they are coppiced again and the landscape will flow backwards and forwards between sparsely dotted with trees and more heavily wooded; a constantly changing palette of colour, shape and texture.

Tree Felling at Cae Non

Car loaded up, plus fuel can, saw and the ubiquitous picnic basket with milk can sticking up – my menfolk need their teas and coffees!

In the meantime, my son has been wielding a nifty little petrol-driven chainsaw; otherwise it would have taken us all week to fell, trim and log our first crop. We shall transport the logs back to where we live a car-load at a time. The first lot arrived yesterday. The car was not as full as it could have been but once my menfolk noticed the bulging tyres, (green alder is a very dense and heavy wood) they decided that they had packed in enough!

Meanwhile, I was left back at home to clear out a part of our very ancient greenhouse where the firewood is to be stored. Over the summer it will dry out naturally to a certain degree, to be finished off to a kiln-dried consistency later in the year in our Aga ovens. (Agas are simply wonderful! They fulfill SO many domestic functions – apart from cooking – mine is like having an extra member of the family in residence.

It was a glorious spring day… washing was flapping animatedly on the line, the blackbird and robin were conducting a duet from the top of next-door’s fir tree, I spotted my first bumble bee of the year and the blossom on the cherry tree is just beginning to emerge.

Tree Felling at Cae Non

Beginning to stack the first load – there will be many more to come.

Of course, there is always a downside to everything. In this particular case, I was so enamoured by the energy and beauty of the natural world reawakening that I didn’t pay enough attention to what I was doing. Suddenly, I found myself doing a brief pas de deux with a knobbly stick which had become entangled in my skirts and the next thing I knew, I had fallen flat on my face on the unforgiving concrete floor. I will not dwell upon the loud groaning noises which I made for a while before the pain and nausea subsided and I was able to pick myself up. Suffice it to say that today I have knees which are an impressive grey, yellow and red, an arm wonderfully grazed and I feel as if I have been hit by a bus.

But the first of our logs are in! A little insurance and assurance against the possible freezing temperatures of next winter. Meanwhile, I shall thoroughly enjoy concentrating on and enjoying the spring. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you can stay well and do the same.

 

A Gift For You

Melly in dog pool

In peace, harmony and playfulness!

Greetings!

My new Walking With The Goddess monthly digital workshops are going really well, but I am keen to get everyone – at least as absolutely as many as possible – involved in these activities.

The best way to convey exactly how I approach each month’s topics and in what way the energies of each divine archetype is harnessed, let alone how the audio recordings of the guided journeys come across to you, or the challenges and tasks might stimulate and inspire you… gasp! … is to let you actually take a look at the first month, which was February. I do not want you to pay me anything. Just click here for your download.

Please do come and and see for yourself . Try out the suggestions. See how working in this way makes you feel – and how beneficial and healing all round it can be.

I would also welcome any feedback and comments you may care to share. Give it a try. It is truly a good way to work, hands on, in beginning to heal some of the many problems and difficulties which face us in the very near future.

You have nothing to lose and possibly a very great deal to gain. And it is absolutely free… with my love.

Next Instalment of Digital Healing Workshop

january BonfireGreetings for the bright beginnings of a new month!

Just a brief reminder that the next instalment of Walking With The Goddess is now available to purchase.

This is a brilliant opportunity to do something truly different – to heal and be healed – to become increasingly empowered and to reach out to the world around you and make a huge difference.

The focus for March is on the element of fire – the growing light and warmth of the returning spring and the energy which it represents in regrowth throughout the natural world. There is an explanation of the importance of the hearth within the Celtic home and community and how we can discover our own sacred fire. There is an audio recording of a guided journey to the hearth of the goddess Ffraid to find inspiration and healing, whilst the challenges and tasks for the month involve our local communities and the rewilding of our public or neglected places.

There are also weekly distant healing sessions to join in with each Wednesday evening and a Facebook page where you are welcome to ask questions or  share ideas, experiences and encouragement.

It only costs £5 for each monthly module. Come and sample what I am offering for March. For more information or to pay for the next month, click here: https://www.earthwalking.co.uk/walking-with-the-goddess/  This takes you to the Introductory page at the bottom of which you will find the Pay Button to purchase your next month of inspiring experiences and interaction with our amazing world.

Full Steam Ahead!

Flower at BodnantI have suddenly realised that it is several weeks since I last posted here… and the reason why is because I have been working very hard on my next book, ‘Spring In Your Step’!

I have just completed Chapter Seven out if a possible twelve and am around the 47,000 word mark, so I am now ell over half way. More importantly, I am really enjoying what I am writing and am so excited about what I shall eventually be sharing with you all.

The chapter I have just written is all about the ‘Mother’ figure of springtime – and that covers the natural world, our genetic mothers and Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday and the feminine within us all. In mentioning Lady Day – how many of you know what it actually is? – I found myself attempting to explain the vagaries of the various changes in our calendar over the years. And did you know that the name for ‘simnel cake’ actually stems from the very fine flour with which it was originally made? I was also drawn to share how just nine years ago, at this exact time of year, we came to discover – and eventually purchase – our own little piece of wonderful wilderness at Cae Non.

I am really, really hoping to have this next book finished by sometime in May and out in the shops by October or November – well in time for next Christmas and the following spring, so that you can all join me on the next adventure through a new year and a new season in 2021!

Meanwhile, the spring of 2020 is well and truly upon us, despite the all the wind and water. Birds are singing and nesting, buds are swelling, flowers are blooming.

Wherever you are, I hope that the season is treating you kindly. If the weather is causing you problems and heartache, my love goes out to you.

Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes – here is looking forward to all the new life and new growth which typifies this most beautiful and special time of the year.. with my love.

A New Year… New Decade – Try Something New

Goddess candleDO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Positive. Healing. Enjoyable and beneficial. Come Walking With The Goddess! Time to move out of the shade and into the sunlight. Take your life in both of your hands and make a difference… for yourself… for the people around you.. for the natural world.. for the planet. Healing for all the Earth at the deepest, highest level. YOUR world. YOUR choice. Are you ready to dare yourself to meet the challenge? Here is how you can.

This month I am beginning a new on-line series of activities and guided meditations / journeys. I show you how you can access the highest healing energy to make our existence whole again. Introducing archetypes from the Welsh/Celtic pantheon of goddesses, gods and deities I demonstrate how we can ALL take responsibility for the state of our world and make a very real difference.

But I am offering so much more, suggesting many ways in which we can all physically and practically change our day to day lives too. I offer encouragement and support to everyone to make a stand, privately or publicly, in spreading the word throughout your local communities, guiding the attention, activities and responses of our public servants and bringing pressure to bear on businesses, both large and small. I will be facilitating a distance healing group which we can all join with on a weekly basis. There is a Facebook page where we can all share our experiences and findings, suggestions and news, and I will be personally  and privately available to anyone who needs a little extra support and needs to get in touch with me.

Please spread the word and pass this message on to as many people as possible. It is only by coming together and standing up for what is right that we will succeed in mending what we have so thoughtlessly, carelessly and cruelly broken. We have all helped to cause the devastation of our environment. For most of us, it was done in naivety and ignorance, But now we know what we have done, it is time to change our outlook, our way of life, our everyday actions and do something to halt and heal the destruction. This is one of the things that you can do and might be the most important initial action you take.

It only costs £5 for each monthly module. Come and sample what I am offering for February. For more information or to pay for the first month, click here: https://www.earthwalking.co.uk/walking-with-the-goddess/

As always, with my love to you all.

Looking At The World Through A Chocolate Wrapper

Quality StreetDoes the world around us really change, or is it just the way we perceive it that alters? In other words, what do we really see? What is real and what is illusion?

For instance, after the past glorious days of pale spring sunshine, clear blue skies and dramatically clear mountains we are once more plunged into a grey and weeping landscape. This morning, the low cloud has completely obscured Mount Snowdon and the craggy Nantlle Ridge, mist in the valley has blurred all the edges, lack of light has robbed what is left of the vista of its light and skewed what were bold spring colours to paler, washed-out shades.

Yet the landscape itself remains the same. The mountains are still there behind the cloud, the natural world is still beavering away preparing to raise new young and burst out in growth and blossom… it just looks dead… and ultimately so much more depressing. But nothing has really altered… just how we are seeing it today through a different colour.

I always have great fun with this concept at Christmas and Easter or any time I come within range of some Quality Street chocolates. Ever since I was a child I have loved choosing my chocolate, carefully unwrapping it, luxuriating in the sweet creamy confection, and then gently smoothing out the coloured plastic wrapping and looking through it, delighted and intrigued to see how a different coloured filter makes my familiar surroundings suddenly appear so different.

Gazing into a newly opened tin of chocolates is a feast for the senses in itself – the deep jewel colours are glorious to behold – like a chest of pirate’s treasure – and that indefinably enticing scent of… chocolate! Since Christmas I have gathered a little collection of six coloured cellophane wrappers; peering through the blue, purple and green makes everything look cold or as if I was suddenly living in an underwater world. The pink, red and yellow transform everything into an intriguing, enticing, warm or sunny environment. But it is, after all, just the same room or view from my window – it is how I am choosing to see it that is different.

Try it for yourself next time you have access to coloured plastic. It works best if you have several colours so that you can compare the differences… and also compare how your mood also alters with each colour.

Next time you don’t enjoy what you are looking at, aren’t happy with the life that is yours, perhaps you might like to try changing your internal filter. The places around us, the people, the situations we live in, do not change from day to day… just the way we perceive them. Therefore, you have freedom of choice; you are in control – do you put in a nice rosy coloured filter or do you opt to depress yourself by insisting on glaring out on the world through blue or purple? Don’t blame the world you live in – it is your choice – it is entirely up to you.

Today I am definitely drawn to pink!

Happy Distaff Day!

Me stating writing againI must be one of very few people who was actually delighted to return to work on Thursday… in fact, I could hardly wait! When I refer to ‘work’, I am actually talking about my writing and I have been desperate to begin work proper on my next full length book for months, but had to see ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ birthed out into the world first.

‘Spring In Your Step’ follows directly on from ‘Merry Midwinter’ so begins at this most grey and uninspiring time of year – January. Memories of my singular childhood are tumbling onto my keyboard along with lots of ideas and observations as to how we can all really enjoy these otherwise quiet, dull days and the true relevance of this first month of the year. As in my first book, there are also ‘Comments from Joan’ and one or two recipes per chapter taken from her manuscript cookery book… hearty sustaining casseroles, comforting hot, sticky puddings and delicious treats to sustain you through the winter weather, whether you are playing in the snow or struggling to work. And there will be more ideas for little seasonal craft projects along the way. If you would like to know more, I will be putting an extract on my blog in the next few days, so watch this space!

Some people are only returning to work on Monday, 6th January (which, ironically, is actually when ‘Old Christmas Day’ would have fallen before the change in the calendar in the 1750’s) but many have already returned in the days since we celebrated New Year. Why bemoan the fact? If you do not actually enjoy what you do for a living, at least be thankful that you have got a job to go to. (Although I have to admit that in these days of zero hours contracts and gross abuse of workers I can well understand why this might not be the case but this is a different conversation for another day.)

Distaff Day is variously placed on different days around the beginning of January and in times gone by was used to celebrate the return of the women to working life after the Christmas revels (as if they had been sitting twiddling their thumbs while all the feasting and celebrating had been going on – who was supposed to cook, bake and provide it all?) Some people refer to it as Saint Distaff’s Day but in fact there is no such saint – it simply refers to spinning (work traditionally performed by women using a distaff, hence the reference in family ancestry to the ‘distaff line when referring to the mother’s or female side of the family). On the other hand, in the agricultural communities the men returned to work on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany, when their work tools would be blessed, the farm horses dressed up and all manner of joking and hi-jinks entered into.

So celebrate your return to work… or the fact that you have had a good Christmas… or that Christmas is over and you can be left in peace… or that we might get snow in the next few weeks… or that we haven’t had snow to further complicate our lives… but celebrate something. Midwinter and Christmas isn’t the only opportunity to celebrate – if you look hard enough you can always finds lots of wonderful things to be thankful and happy about… celebrate LIFE!

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Advent candlelight in the dining room

Advent candlelight in the dining room

I hope that you have all had/are having a wonderful Midwinter/Christmas?

This Advent got off to a cracking and early start with my trip to Germany and the amazing Christmas markets – not to mention lots of time spent with Holger’s family. I have also been invited to more Christmas parties and gatherings than ever before. It saddens me a little that everyone celebrates Christmas in Advent and then, after we get to Christmas Day, there is nothing left to do. All the lovely carols and Christmas music played on Classic FM radio stops abruptly after Boxing Day and people start to talk about taking down their decorations. Some of our decorations were only put up in the last days before the Solstice. Perhaps it is because many put their decorations up so early – end of November and early December? That is what I mean about people celebrating Advent rather than Christmas.

Despite my great love of Christmas, this was actually the first time I have seen a Christmas tree lit with real candles – and I have to say that it was utterly enchanting! Holger and I attended a seasonal gathering for all employees and their families where he works at Trigonos and one of the directors had supplied her own living tree, with presents waiting beneath it for all the children. In true traditional custom, there was delicious food to eat, games to play which generated much laughter and good-natured silliness, and story-telling to quieten us down again. Then, in time honoured fashion, just before everyone went home, the lights were dimmed, everyone came to sit expectantly around the tree and the children were allowed to come, one by one, to light a candle each upon the living tree.  It was magical and the children’s faces were a real picture… as I expect mine was too!

Mince pies

This is what over ninety mince pies really looks like… and I made four dozen mini pies as well!

So far, I have to say that this Midwinter and Christmas has been as near perfect as is possible… and a very welcome break from the outside world into the bargain. With my last blog/Facebook post wishing everyone a happy Christmas, I stepped back from my computer and slipped into the wholehearted loving embrace of my immediate family.

Wreath Cake

Our Solstice cake, lighter fruit cake made in a wheel shape and decorated with fruits and holly leaves fashioned from marzipan.

We had some of our friends from the druid grove here for the Solstice on the 22nd and walked up the valley into the woods which have grown up around the old quarry and gathered among the trees there. As the daylight faded, we lit a small fire and held sparklers in our hands, sharing chocolate Yule log cake and beakers of hot, mulled wine. There is always something particularly special about this one time of late afternoon and dusk. There is something particularly magical about being present in the silent woods as the daylight fades and we find our way home in near darkness, singing and laughing, slipping and sloshing through mud and puddles as we approach the welcome lights of the village. this year, two owls accompanied our festivities with their haunting cries from one side of the valley to the other. Well, we are the Cylch Blodeuwedd after all!

Christmas parcels

Gifts wrapped in recyclable brown paper and decorated naturally.

Just two days later, on Christmas Eve, we gathered around the dining room hearth to share a German afternoon tea with sugary stollen and fragrant spice cakes and chocolate treats of every kind – the fire blazed and the thirty or so candles in the pyramids, flying buttresses and holders cast shadows from all the decorations. We had just paused in our carol singing and were pouring cups of tea while Dafydd was roasting chestnuts on the fire, when a new neighbour dropped in with a card and gift and I suddenly saw us as we must have appeared to him… almost a scene from  Victorian days or a Dickens novel, ha! ha!

This year, more than ever, I have really tried to follow my own growing beliefs about the preparation for Midwinter and Christmas celebration, although seem to have had even less time in which to do so. I made my own crackers for the Christmas lunch table (in which I placed sweeties and questions to ask one another around the dinner table rather than silly gifts which no one wants). I have  made some ‘fortune crackers’ for our New Year’s dinner table too, in which I have written ‘words of wisdom’ for 2020 and jokes to give us all a laugh and start us off on a jolly note! I made some of my own gifts too – hideously late finishing them and the evening of the 23rd saw me sat with my sewing basket expeditiously stitching away.

Fur hat and scarf

One of the winter fake fur hats and scarves I managed to complete.

I didn’t get everything made that I would have liked to, but at least I completed everything that I had started and everyone received something from me. We also tried out having a ‘pledge box’ for the first time ever and ended up opening it as a completely separate activity on Boxing Day (26th December) while we were having afternoon tea. Some very interesting and worthwhile pledges came out of that little box which was decorated and left in a prominent place in the hall a few days before the Solstice. It also struck me as so appropriate to open a pledge box on Boxing Day, when the apprentices and poor of the parish used to be given tips or alms for the year in boxes which had to be broken open.

As a family, we celebrate most of the twelve days of Christmas, which only come to an end with Epiphany on the 5th January. We actually only had our official Christmas Dinner on the 27th December, when close family and friends could join us and we could all celebrate together. I actually opted for the longer version of the meal this year, although as I juggled seven pans across the top of my aga and four roasting tins inside the ovens, I began to seriously wonder if I had finally bitten off more than I could sensibly chew! We began with chicken liver pate (with an avocado pate option for the vegetarians among us), followed by squash, coconut and ginger soup. The main course was roast turkey, sausages and chicken rolls with sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce and red currant jelly with all the vegetables and two kinds of gravy – vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The vegetarian main was a selection of winter vegetables from the garden, roasted and then folded with cheese into a wreath shape made from triangles of croissant dough, which is the lightest and butteryest dough imaginable! There was Christmas pudding to follow, served

Drawing Room

Our (smaller) Winter Tree in the drawing room

with sweet white sauce and dollops of rum butter. Dafydd ‘fired’ the pudding with ethanol from his herbal dispensary… pretty blue flames licked around the dark fruity globe upon the china platter until the tall sprig of holly stuck in the top also caught fire and everything then had to be quickly extinguished! A cheese board, mince pies, fruit, candied fruits and chocolates followed along with a tray of coffee, but these we took with us into the drawing room and gradually picked away at as we opened even more gifts from beneath our Winter Tree… in fact, we were still grazing among the remnants of our ‘Lunch’ at eight o’clock that evening!

This past few days, the games cupboard has also been raided and Holger and I have challenged each other to some games of draughts which I used to play with my father when I was a child but haven’t played for well over fifty years. I no longer had my original board and set so earlier this year I ordered a new one over the Internet – the toy shop in Caernarfon could only supply me with cardboard and plastic – so I found a lovely wooden board which folds into a box in which to keep the wooden draughts, chess and backgammon pieces. Needless to say, Holger won most of the games!  Holger and I went to the cinema one evening to see the new Star Wars film, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, which I thoroughly enjoyed but found FAR too loud and had to watch some battle scenes with my finger stuffed in my ears!!!

And no, life isn’t quite so perfect… we found that mice had found their way up the wisteria into our loft and chewed a few of our seasonal decorations – the tallest section of wisteria was immediately removed! And our oldest feline member of the family (just turned twenty!) chose this Midwinter to make her journey and pass over into the Summerlands. But these are all a part of on-going life too…

Solstice fire Now it is New Year’s Eve. We might have a small bonfire out in the garden this evening to celebrate, weather depending. Wherever you are and however you might be celebrating this incoming new decade, I hope that you are well, comfortable and at peace with yourself and the world around you.

A very happy New Year to you all… as always, with my love.

A Very Happy Christmas!

Me with Father ChristmasAfter such an eventful and truly magical Advent, nearly all the pre-Christmas preparations and activities are complete.

Today I have presents to wrap and one or two gifts and cards to hand deliver around the village. I have listened to my own advice and ditched my plans to make a wonderful savoury hot dinner this evening set around a festive table – yesterday evening my darling husband made us all chips while I finished making the last of my gifts and this evening, my lovely son is going to do a stir fry for us all while I put my feet up and celebrate Mother’s Night!

All the baking is done (for now!) and later this afternoon, I shall be setting out a grand afternoon tea with stollen, spice cakes, mince pies, biscuits and all manner of sweet delights. As the light begins to fade we shall all gather around the hearth to light the candles and sing carols and open our gifts from friends, near and far.

This is the last day of deep darkness. Tomorrow morning, the Sun/Son will be reborn and the Light truly with us once more. The Earth which has been ‘standing still’ since the Solstice early on Sunday morning will once more move on and we shall begin to travel the long journey back towards the warmth and springtime.

In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas Eve and a very happy Christmas. Celebrate truly what is happening around you and within your hearts. As I light my ‘Mother’s Candle’ tonight, I shall think of each one of you and be sending out my very best wishes and love to you.

Good Yule!
Merry Midwinter!
A happy Christmas!
Gillian.

A Very Merry Midwinter!

Flying Above Clouds

Seeing the winter sun set from ABOVE the clouds – perhaps this might be the view seen by Odin, or Mother Holly/Frau Holle or even Father Christmas!

To all my valued readers and very dear friends – both literally and electronically – greetings!

The time is almost upon us… it is the Solstice! Longest, darkest night and shortest day… the turning point when we plunge into three days of darkness before re-emerging to the re-birth of the Light on the morning of the 25th. (Although the natural world has preempted us – as it so often does – and the birds are already singing at the start of their new ‘courting’ season!)

Draw close to your loved ones and savour each precious moment. This is the time to stand still… just as the earth ‘stands still’ – and fully appreciate where we are, what we have got and just how lucky we are.

I wish you all a wonderful Solstice full of peace, enlightenment, joy and love!

Page 1 of 6

Contact Us | Privacy Policy & GDPR |

Copyright © 2018 Gillian Monks.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén