Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Link Roundup!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh! Happy St. Patrick's Day! I see this day as a wonderful time to celebrate Irish heritage and culture (though I am a Scottish leaning Gaelic Polytheist, I, like many, have both Scottish and Irish ancestry). This is also a day full of misconceptions, particularly in Pagan circles; like how Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland and OMGz SNAKES R PAGANS - yeah, that didn't happen. It's also a day full of harmful stereotypes of Drunken Irish Pride, dyeing perfectly edible foods a nasty green color, and leprechauns. Sigh.

Here I offer you a modest collection of things to read, to counteract the nonsense of the day!

Tairis: St. Patrick's Day, with much Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth.

Pagans, Polytheists, and St. Patrick's Day

Gaol Naofa's YouTube Playlist: St. Patrick's Day / Lá Fhéile Pádraig / Sheela's Day

Story Archaeology Podcast: A Crock of old Cobblers
"Fergus mac Léite gets to encounter the underwater world of the Lupracán, a story which in the late middle / early modern Irish version, almost certainly, inspired Swift’s wonderful satire, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. The Story Archaeologists, ear herbs at the ready, dive right into the tale, but wonder how these small, but proud and fiercely independent, beings have devolved, over the centuries into the scary Leprechaun travesties that are dragged out every Paddy’s day?"

and lastly, a recipe, for your feasting pleasure! Irish Potato Cakes - Boxty

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Exciting Announcement!

I'm very pleased to announce that I have been asked to join An Comhairle Ghaol Naofa - The Gaol Naofa Council - as a Brughaidh ("hospitaller"). There are also updates to the Membership Guidelines as well as a new video about A' Ghealach Ùr - The New Moon, so be sure to check it out. See the official update here!

I'm also relieved that the stolen statue of Mannanán mac Lir has been found, exactly one month after it was stolen.

I think all of our singing must have helped.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Getting Ready for Imbolc - Wooly Sheep Tutorial

Well, here I am again, in my sadly neglected blog. I had a heck of a year, let us leave it at that. The good news - I've graduated, I officially have my Masters Degree (in Traditional Chinese Medicine) and soon I'll be a licensed acupuncturist. Hooray!

Since most of my hard work is done, I have more time for myself and, hopefully, that will translate into more writing.

On to the fun stuff!

Imbolc is coming, spring is beginning to stir in the Northern Hemisphere, and my son and I are starting to make preparations in anticipation of Brighid's visit. O is four now, and is very excited to celebrate Brighid's special day.  (We say a nightly prayer for protection, and he knows that Brighid watches over our home and helps keep him safe) I'm really making an effort to establish traditions in our home that reflect my personal practice. My husband is Jewish so we celebrate Jewish holidays; we celebrate the secular aspects of some other holidays too, like Christmas. I spend a lot of time decorating and preparing for those, so I want to make the effort in a more visible way for the Gaelic festivals as well. Decorating is part of that!

I was on Pinterest and I saw an adorable photo of porcelain sheep ornaments, but it was (as often happens on Pinterest) unsourced! My first thought was "I can make that!" ... I've seen similar concepts, usually using a paper or cardboard cutout of a sheep (or cow) body, wrapped with yarn. Simple!

I'm sure many different modeling clays or doughs would work - I considered salt dough at first (because it's cheap and if you screw up you haven't spent a lot of money), but then I found some old Sculpey in a forgotten craft box. I used 1 2oz package and got about 7 sheep out of it.

First, I drew my sheep body. I freehanded it, but there are a lot of sheep silhouettes on Google, or just print out mine (I don't mind).

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

Roll out the dough to a quarter inch thickness.

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

I used a toothpick to trace the outline of my sheep ...

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

... then used a craft knife to cut it out.

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

At this point I discovered it's best to roll your clay out on parchment, because once you cut the sheep and try to peel it off the table it gets kind of warped. I used my fingers to soften the cut edges, tweak any part that didn't look right, and smooth out the clay. Toothpicks make nice mini-rollers to smooth away fingerprints!

I poked a hole in each one for a string, then baked them according to package directions. They came out wonderfully! Here they all are, ready for the oven.

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

Now, once the sheep are baked and cooled, take your yarn and wrap it all around the sheep until maximum woolliness has been achieved. Tuck (or glue) the loose end of the yarn. (I had no issues wrapping around the tail, but a well-placed dab of glue could be used if your yarn is slipping off) Roving would also work for this step, but I just used a wooly yarn.

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

I used a large needle and embroidery floss to make the hanging loop.

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa


imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa

They're pretty darn cute, and definitely bring some springtime cheer! I'm going to finish the rest with my son tomorrow.

imbolc sheep tutorial gaol naofa