Befriending the darkness

Today has been a misty day up in the hills and it went dark just after 4pm. When out for a little walk earlier, I noticed how the landscape has now transitioned out of Autumn with all the gorgeous colours now more or less all gone. Winter is on the threshold, ready to come in. I am aware that my energy levels are low and my gaze focuses inwards. I personally feel ready to surrender to the whisper of Winter.

At this time of year, when days are short, cold and gloomy, it is easy to pine for the long, …

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Calan Gaeaf Hapus!

Tonight is Noson Galan Gaeaf in Wales. This translates from the Welsh as Winter's Eve: Nos(on) is the night (before), Calan (or Galan when the spelling of the word has a mutation applied to it) means the first day and Gaeaf is Winter. It originates from the ancient celtic festival of Samhain, celebrating the end of autumn and harvest season and the beginning of Winter.

If we divide the year into light and dark, we are now about to enter the darkest segment, between Samhain and the Winter Solstice, when the light returns to us once more. For me, this …

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Apple Day

This year has been a good year for apples, so it would seem. Our trees have been laden with them and our trusty cooking apple tree (possibly a Bramley) has produced baskets of large red and green fruit. We have now harvested them all and are slowly going through the many crates filling the floor space in the kitchen. We daren't light the woodburner in there so as not to spoil them before we have a chance to process them.

Today is Apple Day and I thought I would make a contribution to this 30-year old autumn celebration by giving …

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Restoring balance at the Equinox

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This afternoon, at 2.31 pm, the Sun crosses the celestial equator (or the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's Equator) from South to North and the Autumn Equinox will occur. At that particular point, days and nights are of equal length, a moment of balance between light and dark, a threshold between two seasons.

As I write this, the scene on our patch of Welsh countryside is typical of Mabon time. Looking out, the landscape is still mainly green with only a few dots of autumnal yellows and oranges here and there and the blue sky continues the …

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And the robin sings again

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It's still another two weeks till the official start of Autumn at the Equinox yet there are plenty of signs that Summer has retreated and Autumn is settling in. There is a chill in the air, the colours of the landscape are changing and nuts and berries are abundant in the hedgerow. But there is something else that heralds the new season: the robins are back singing their Autumn song.

During Summer, robins are conspicuous by their absence, so much so that they seem to disappear. Of course, that's not true as they don't migrate (most don't anyway) but they …

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Lammas... the first harvest

As we move into August, we pass the half way point in the calendar between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. The long days of Summer are drawing in and we are making our way towards Autumn. On the Wheel of the Year, this point is Lammas, a celebration of the first harvest, the Grain Harvest. The word 'Lammas' comes from 'loaf mass' and indicates how important and meaningful the first grain and the first baked loaf of the harvesting cycle are.

We are now at peak Summer when the harvest season begins in earnest. Growth of early Summer …

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Spring 2020, one to remember

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As we head into June and towards Summer, we look back at Spring 2020, which has proved to be very unusual in more ways than one!

Hit by the global Covid19 pandemic, the country went into lockdown at the Spring Equinox with the message to "Stay At Home". Peter worked from home for the first three weeks and then went on to be furloughed, which he continues to be until the end of June. That has been a great opportunity for us to tick things off our long to do list: we have re-done the roof of one of the …

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Finding balance

It's the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere today and Spring is officially here. Astronomically, an equinox is the moment when the Earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun, momentarily creating an equilibrium between night and day because of the way the Earth tilts in relation to the Sun. The word equinox comes from the Latin word "aequinoctium" meaning 'equal night'.

Right now, the stabilising energy that this balance brings feels really important. The world, this Spring, has been plunged into a huge amount of vulnerability and uncertainty. The chaos and changes brought by the Covid-19 …

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Nurturing hope in the garden

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Spring is nearly here and the growing season is well under way on the smallholding by now. Every inch of windowsill space in the sunroom holds trays and propagators with seeds growing this year's harvest. When seedlings are big enough and in need of more light than they can get in the sunroom, they get moved to either the heat mat on the shelf in the potting shed, the greenhouse or the polytunnel.

This time of year is always very exciting, full of promise and wonder at the huge potential for growth and transformation held in a tiny seed. Right …

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Imbolc, a new dawn

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1st February and we are about half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. On the Wheel of the Year, this point is Imbolc, when the first signs of new life are beginning to show. Nature is stirring, influenced by the noticeable increase in daylight hours and the strengthening of the Sun's energy. There is a sense of hope, promise and potential as the Earth, awakening from its Winter sleep, is preparing to receive the seeds of future blooms and harvests. A new dawn.

One of the translations of the word "Imbolc" is "in the belly" which, for …

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