Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Category: Musings of the Hearth (Page 1 of 2)

One Month To Go!

Mincemeat and Peels

It might not look like it but there is about 8 lbs of mincemeat in these three glass jars – and don’t the peels look glorious as they drain and begin to dry!

Well, this is it – a month today will be Christmas Day, so we can all begin this particular countdown from tomorrow onwards! My preparations are coming along slowly. Last week I bottled my mincemeat (which had been marinating in rum for a few weeks). It should be just lovely when I come to bake my mince pies!

I also finished off candying another batch of grapefruit peels. They are now all ready to chop up and add to my Christmas Cake mixture on Sunday. The last Sunday of November is traditionally known as ‘stir up Sunday’ and this weekend I shall be vigorously stirring, I can assure you! (Thick luscious peels like this also make excellent after-dinner treats if sliced and part dipped in melted dark chocolate and allowed to set again – the combination of tangy citrus and chocolate is a combination truly made in heaven! recipe can be found in ‘Merry Midwinter.))

This coming Sunday is also the first Sunday of Advent and I shall be making our Advent wreath… Oh yes, it is all beginning to happen now! Yaaaaay!!!

And I have a slightly different idea for an Advent activity which young and old can join in with – a sort of alternative to my Alternative Advent Calendar… but more about that next time!

Happy busyness!

Light In The Darkness

Daffs at Fron GochYesterday, I ventured out from my home and the almost hermit-like existence which has become habitual over the past eight months and went to visit my local garden centre. I haven’t been down there since last January and the first shock was to discover that there has been an extensive programme of extension and rebuilding and I hardly recognised the place! The second shock to my system was to be among so many people again – so many families with young children… ah, there is still life – and hope – out there!

As I sat in a new outdoor cafe area sipping a scaldingly hot latte, I reflected that here was truly a miracle. After all that has happened this year… the fear, worry, tension, loss, bereavement and grief… the political argy-bargy and wrangling… here are families – my local community, bless them – celebrating and enjoying the time of year and each other’s company. Their eager excitement and anticipation was almost palpable.

Tucked away indoors was the usual array of mind boggling glitz and glitter – the amazing sensory overload which constitutes the seasonal display of Christmas decorations.  Normally I revel in the sheer exuberance of it all, a counterbalance to my very personal, private and mystical experience of the Midwinter, but somehow it all seemed too much for me this time.

I took myself off outside and, while my husband went to browse the bookshop and organic market, I found myself wandering the aisles of winter plants. Here I regained my perspective of what our Christmas/Midwinter celebration is all about; a gaudy, frenetic event of light and light to illuminate this darkest time of the year – an island of colour and hive of activity in a sea of stillness and shadows. For the exhibition hall containing all the sensual overload of Christmas festoonary sits couched in a sea of winter flowering shrubs and plants… a miracle of life unostentatiously displayed in blooms, berries and foliage.

Beyond the confines of the garden centre itself, the leafless trees and sere fields lie sleeping, a counterpane of mist and cloud dulling  edges and softening stark realities. Here is my true Midwinter reality; that no matter what happens in the world – no matter what disasters and plagues and heartbreak – life carries on. Held within the palm of dead winter sits the beating heart of new life… new vegetation and abundance, new human life and potential – totally irrepressible, unstoppable… and utterly inspiring and heartening!

Here is to the continuation of life and to new beginnings… and blessings for all.

Greetings For Calan Gaeaf!

Ancestor Table

The Ancestor Table is set and awaits the names, photos and memorabilia of those to be remembered and honoured… a time of soft light and deep shadows.

So, here we are… at the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. The seeds of all our endeavours for 2020 have been sown – and harvested – and what a curious year it has been.

Now it is time to draw all the threads of our year together. To take all that we have hoped for, striven for and achieved, all we have failed at or lost, and pull them within to be reviewed, reworked and reborn in resolutions for the coming new year. In the summer months of the year the light is all around us… it pervades, intrudes, even disturbs our sleep as it demands our attention and constant activity. But here we are at the very threshold of Winter – with barely eight hours of daylight each day, less in stormy times of heavy cloud and driving rain, and growing ever shorter as we journey on to Midwinter.

The focus of our lives shifts. The undeniable light which suffused us throughout the summer has dimmed. It is time to harvest that too, and take the light within… to shield and nurture it… to sit and be present with it… to bring it to the very edge of our own inner cauldron which represents the roiling, moiling inner source of all that makes us ‘us’ and illuminate what we discover there. For this is also the time of our own inner harvest. Then we may rest, recuperate, and await our rebirth with that of the Sun at Midwinter. Take time to breath and reflect… to decide where you go from here… what you wish to see and do in the new year… and, perhaps most importantly of all, how you wish to achieve it.

Be bold! Be daring! This time of pandemic is not one for holding back and being timid – it is a time of make or break, a time to play your hand and aim for the very highest goals.

As Darkness envelops us (in many more ways than one) and the northern half of the  Earth judders and sighs as she settles for her rest, all that has passed and gone before – along with all possibility of what may be to come – draws near us at this liminal time, the transition from this to… what? It is for us to choose. And at this time of decision, all the Ancestors, our ancestors, of blood, of place, of belief, draw close once more. Do they come to support us? To chastise us for our follies? To seek forgiveness and love? Welcome them. We need solidarity at this particular time. They have faced it all before. They can help to guide us through. Simply open your hearts and minds to them with love. You do not have to know who they are, just acknowledge that they have been… must have existed, or else you could not possibly be here now. Buried deep within your DNA are genetic memories of all that they have experienced, and they will help you remember now, so that you may learn by their own personal collective triumphs and failures what to repeat and where not to go.

I do not wish you a mere ‘good weekend of festivity’, or a jolly, enjoyable or exciting ‘Hallowe’en’ with silly masks and make-up and fancy dress and all the theatricals which humanity employs when it is really seeking to dodge important issues.

I wish you a mind-bogglingly transformative weekend, an experience of such depth and colour that it will take your breath away. But to begin, simply sit with yourself, light a candle, and be silent, with love in your heart.

May the true blessings of Calan Gaeaf / Samhain / Hallowe’en be yours!

A Life of Many Hats


An afternoon spent happily working with wood.

During my life I have had many jobs, many interests, and therefore metaphorically worn many hats; teacher, historian, dancer, writer, caterer, healer, as well as mother, wife, daughter, carer and so on. Another ‘hat’ I wore for twenty years was craft artisan and maker of miniatures for the collector’s market – in plain words a designer and maker of period doll’s houses and furniture.

We built houses, cottages and shops of all shapes and sizes, and produced Tudor and 18th and 19th Century country furniture in both 1/12th and 1/24th scale, along with all the soft furnishings and period accessories.  My whole family was involved and we had huge fun doing it, travelling all over the U.K. and even on to mainland Europe to attend specialist fairs as well as posting orders out as far as the U.S. and Australia. We met many lovely people and had some great adventures.

The wheel turns and life changes and soon after the new millenium began I had to step away from it all due to illness and family commitments. But now, I have had what I think is a marvellous idea for a children’s story, which incorporates the making of a small basic doll’s house and furniture to go inside it. My life-long love affair with miniatures is back!

Yesterday, I stood in my local hardware store and just revelled in the smell and feel of all the new wood around me… the panels of plywood, the different shapes and sizes of the ready cut beading, the smooth feel of the grain… ALL that potential! WOW! My husband and I had gone to buy the wood to make a prototype of the model cottage which I want to feature in my next book, (much more about that after Christmas, suffice it to say that I have already begun writing it!)

Miniatures 2

Tiny seats and fireplaces – notice the £1 coin to give an idea of scale. There shall be further blogposts as to what I intend doing with them.

At one time, trips to our huge wood yard back in Lancashire used to be an almost weekly occurance for me, and the thought suddenly struck me that I haven’t done this once regular activity in well over fifteen years. I suddenly felt quite emotional – in a very happy sort of way. It is said that if you wait long enough, everything in life comes round again.

I have now had an idea of utilising my miniature-making skills to also produce Christmas decorations and gifts, so the world of 1/12th scale and 1/24th scale seems to be very much back in my life just now!

Watch this space for what I come up with and in the new year, news of my – as yet – embryonic story.

Wish me luck!

My Life On The Way To Somewhere Else

Path through gorse‘Can you just throw the dog’s ball for me?’ I ask as an excited Labrador rushes up and down the kitchen while I am busily mixing a large tray-bake of sticky dark parkin ready to go in the oven for tea.

My darling husband had been walking past the backdoor, beaker in hand, to put milk in it so that he could make himself a cup of instant coffee. The next thing I know, he has turned back into the living room where our aga cooker is situated (don’t ask!) and a full minute later, has reappeared without his beaker, then proceeding to go outside to throw the dog’s ball.

‘Where did you go?’ I ask as I tip the parkin mixture into a large tray.
‘You asked me to throw the dog’s ball, so I went to take the kettle off the Aga.’ he  replies.
Oh, for the luxury of doing just one thing at a time!

How often do you do little tasks whilst on the way to somewhere else? I do it all the time. Sometimes I walk around the house like a human trolly, picking up and putting down items which the rest of the family have left lying about. Or I run the washing-up water into the bowl while feeding the birds. I have, on occasion, found myself cleaning out whole cupboards or weeding and sweeping out thirty foot drive while actually on the way to another part of the house or garden. Sometimes my ‘life on the way to somewhere else’ has developed into a whole afternoon’s activity as I end up doing a huge job of work which I never originally intended setting out to do at all.

They say that women are better at multitasking than men. I think that anyone who has brought up a young child will have had to learn how to multitask just to stay on top of everything and survive a busy life. Feeding a child whilst making a meal, answering the door or telephone and attempting to help another child with its homework is not an uncommon sort of combination for the full-on parent or home-person. The same goes for bustling activity in any walk of life – we all try to cram in as much as we possibly can in the little time we have got. Over the years I must have spent months engaged in activities which I performed on the way to somewhere to else.

Which is why I would like to share with you something which I have just read in the North-Western Federation Journal for Theosophy. I do not know who the author of this piece is, but it is a timely reminder that we do not always have to justify each second of our time with multiple activities. In these strange times of isolation and lockdowns due to the pandemic, many of us have suddenly experienced more time than we normally have to spare. How do you fill your life on the way to somewhere else, and what do you choose to do with those little ’empty minutes’?

Take time to think – it is the source of power.
Take time to read – it is the foundation of wisdom.
Take time to play – it is the secret of staying young.
Take time to be quiet – it is the opportunity to seek God.
Take time to be aware – it is the opportunity to help others.
Take time to love and be loved – it is God’s greatest gift.
Take time to laugh – it is the music of the soul.
Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness.
Take time to pray – it is the greatest power on earth.


Walking In The Woods With Merlin


This is just a brief reminder that the new July module of Walking With The Goddess is now ready for you to purchase and download.

Sycamore up hillThis month, Merlin the Magician is the divine archetype who will guide you on your journey through the Wild Wood. In this time of Covid-19-fuelled fear, grief and uncertainty he will help you to identify how you can improve your situation.

Discover the new world you wish to birth, which is hidden deep within your subconscious, and how you can begin to create this new reality by working in partnership with the powerful energies of this revered Old One.

Join me on an adventure into our woodlands where you will learn about the amazing relevance of tree in or history and our current lives. You will also be taken step by step through the process of how to identify the energy of a tree, and how to connect to and communicate with a tree of your choice, developing a working relationship with it.

There is so much loveliness and hope being channelled through these monthly excursions into the divine realms of spiritual potential. Don’t miss out on this next encounter with all that is positive and joyful.

Those interested in this sort of work are advised to work through the month of July as the August module lays the foundations for the work planned for August – which centres around working with the Goddess Don and journeying to discover which element (fire earth, air or water) you will be establishing a relationship and working with closely for the foreseeable future.

And please do remember, if you have any questions or queries about any of the work in the modules, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Similarly, if you have encountered anything which has upset or disturbed you within the contents, please do let me know.

The course is only £5 for each monthly module, but if you are suffering financial hardship which is making it difficult for you, please do get in touch with me – I am sure that we can come to some alternative arrangement.

May you all stay safe and well. Take good care of yourselves.

With my love,

All You Need Is Love

Tree Dorothea Easter

Springtime is full of loveliness and makes unconditional loving easier.

The pop group The Beatles certainly had it right when they sang those words all those decades ago. When we have done and said and thought all that we can and our backs are up against a wall, (as they are now with Covid-19), all we have left is to show our love. I have just read something written by a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) which says that they view the empty towns and villages, the deserted roads and streets as a huge act of love – love and consideration of humanity for each other in taking care not to put each other in more danger at this crucial point in our history… in other words, our very absence demonstrates our true presence and intent.

We can show our love for each other and the world around us by any number of mundane and seemingly inconsequential actions but the sum total – and the effect it has on both giver and recipient – is incalculable. For love is not simply a transient emotion; it is a very real and potent energy… the absolute best.

With our modern predilection for having things demonstrated I can prove it to you. In 1992, Bruce Tainio, of Tainio Technology, a division of Eastern State University in America, determined that the electrical frequency of the healthy human body is somewhere between 62-78 Hz (Hertz). Everything has an electrical frequency, including diseases which resonate at a lower rate than a healthy body. For instance, colds and ‘flu have an electrical frequency of 58 Hz. A human body under stress or exposed to pollutants can easily drop in resonance to 58 Hz or below. Perhaps a correlation between Covid-19 and the worst effected industrial areas of the world may be noted here? The literal danger our health carers are in equally becomes more apparent as their state of exhaustion and stress results in a drop in their energetic resonance and leaves them vulnerable to the infection they are attempting to protect everyone else from.

However, the particular point I wish to make here is that a human body experiencing emotions or mental states also resonates at an equally identifiable frequency. Such feelings as gratitude, empathy and compassion can be measured at the massive resonance of 200 – 350 Hz., but for someone expressing the emotion of unconditional love, the resonance is off the scale – it is so high that it is immeasurable.

So here is something that absolutely everyone can do in our universal time of need. Balancing intellect with emotion, we are all capable of sending out loving thoughts… to other people… to those working on our behalf (and that also includes all the other services and key workers, such a delivery drivers and shop workers)… to the beauty and bounty of the natural world. We can do it anywhere, anytime… sitting in our favourite armchair, lying in bed, having a bath, peeling the potatoes. But the love must be unconditional – no fear or grief or judgement attached – the kind of unrestricted and pure sensation we experience when we see a little kitten or puppy, or a new born baby – that complete gush of joyful and wholehearted emotion; a sensation of giving of oneself, totally.

For those of us who are lucky enough to live with family or friends, a good way of boosting our own resonating energies is to give – and receive – hugs… good strong, long hugs which last twenty seconds or more. A warm and generous hug acts upon the vagal nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system which has a beneficial knock-on effect on all the major organs in our body and stimulates our immune system. Such a simple action. Give yourself and someone you care about a tonic this minute; find a member of your household and give them a good long hug.

Many of us live solitary lives, but, whether we realise it or not, we are never truly alone. We are connected to every other person on – and off – the planet at a higher level. We are also connected to the world around us by similar energies. Send out your loving good wishes… to someone or something specific or simply to the ‘world’ as a whole. Tap your chest over where your heart beats and imagine a beam of pure, gentle light pouring out of you. Add your loving emotion to it. You will discover that one of the side-effects of this incredibly simple activity is that you, yourself, become altogether calmer.

Alternatively, if you have difficulty with the concept of unconditional love, try feeling gratitude instead. Look around you and acknowledge all that you can feel grateful for and give deep thanks for it. Yes, we all have a very great deal to be thankful for; if you don’t believe me, try writing a list and include everything, from the roof over your head to the clothes on your back and the food on your plate. Look around you. Don’t just stop there… be thankful for the sunshine, the wind and rain and the birds and animals, the earth and the flowers and all the insects which pollinate them… and the fact that you can see and hear and feel… and that you can breath, unlike thousands of other unfortunate souls who have been – and still are – battling to do just that. Eventually, you will find that your appreciation deepens and starts to become something altogether more loving and joyful – go with it and give it your all, for this is the beginning of unconditional love and the ultimate answer to all our woes and difficulties. One of my favourite sayings is that we cannot always be cured, but we can always be healed. Love is healing. Love is transformative. It is portable, mobile, able to be sent out and directed by beings of all ages and abilities. It can change your world… our world… the world. You have the answer in your own hands… in your own heart. Make the most of it today, every day. All you need is love…

Practical Action – Walking With The Goddess This April

Gorse and Mountain, Cae NonWish to take back control of your life? Ready to try something new? Want to heal the world around you? This month I am introducing the power of sound and the miraculous effects it can have on stones which you will be shown how to use in the healing of all the major chakras of the Earth. To support and guide you, we shall be making connection with Taliesin – the famous magical Welsh poet, and Melangell – the Celtic saint based on ancient belief and practices.

All the work I introduce in these modules is completely fresh and new and channelled from the inspirational divine sources quoted each month. I sometimes feel that I cannot take responsibility for what each month contains as it has been given to me direct – I work in partnership with these ancient archetypes… they tell me and I simply work with it… explain it… write it down…

As the spring flourishes around us, the April module of Walking With The Goddess is ready for purchase, it is only £5.

To buy direct:

To read more about it or purchase previous modules:

Come and join us for something completely different, inspiring and satisfying. It might also prove good therapy in these challenging times as it will also help you to feel personally empowered and healed too.


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!


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!

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