28 November 2009

Welcoming the Crone Years

Tomorrow I turn 50. And you know, the more I think about it, the wider the silly smile on my face gets.

Tomorrow I will be eligible to join the Red Hat Society.

Tomorrow I will be allowed to sit at the virtual "adults table" with my friends at O.B.O.D.

Tomorrow I can begin calling myself a crone.

Far from a wizened, terrifying hag depicted in stories designed to keep little children shivering under the covers at night, the crone of the ancient Celts is Annis, the keeper of wisdom and the old ways.

She is Badb, an Irish shapeshifting warrior goddess, guide through the cycles of birth and death, of inspiration.

She is Ceridwen, keeper of the cauldron.

She is the Cailleach, the Scottish goddess of seasonal rites and weather magic.

She is Macha, the Irish wild woman who battles against injustice to children and women.

She is Nicneven, goddess of Winter.

And she is the fearsome Morrigan, the Celtic crow goddess who understands the nature of Death.

This has been a year filled with transitions. A daughter who returned home to temporarily roost until she attains the degree that will help her fly the nest. A son preparing to leave high school and navigating the stormy waters of first love. A new mother-in-law to take part in our family traditions and introduce us to a few of her own. And a father who passed from this life to the next.

Turning 50...just another transition. A good one. I figure every birthday that arrives and I'm still breathing is a good birthday! Since I was 5 and diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, every birthday where I'm still on my own two feet and able to flip the proverbial bird at this disease is a victory. :) Even if it does take a small medical army, a cocktail of modern medical pharmaceuticals, and a few spare parts to keep this body moving, I'm grateful.

I think that's the big thing. To arrive at this age grateful, unbowed, unashamed to show my grey hairs, laugh lines, and most of all, the scars life's battles leave behind.

This is a great age to be. In my 40s, the need to care about what others think of me began to drop away. In my 50s, I expect I'll lose it altogether. Hee! This is going to be fun! I know I'm supposed to be older, wiser, more mature...but in a way I'm returning to the freedom of the very young. Shedding the trappings - and traps - society has placed me in as a woman.

Now excuse me while the Morrigan and I go lift a few pints. We have a glorious battle to plan. :)

The Crone Years
by Judith TreeCrone

Contrary to the sanctions of a culture
that worships and glorifies youth
The crone years are not simply
the interlude between life and death
Oh no!
These are her omnipotent years
These autumnal years
when her womb is fallow
but she continues to give birth
from her fruitful creative self
Her nurturing spirit comes not from hormones
but from her wisdom of choosing to live fully
Both her inner and outer vision see new possibilities
Her awareness of her connectedness
to all of creation
is enhanced
She cherishes the poignancy of the sunrise
on the horizon of each new day
She embraces the quiet of the darkness time
when she shares her harvest of life stories
This is the legacy she bequeaths
Be who you are
Trust who you are today

23 November 2009

Kilt Candy

Just a little something to brighten up your Monday!

09 November 2009

Celtophile Monday

It's here! Rampant Scotland's annual Scottish Pictorial Calendar! Best of all, it's free! (Too many exclamation points for a Monday?) Click here to view and download

Meet the Cybraphon
Edinburgh based art and music collective FOUND have been hard at work over the past few months creating the monster that is Cybraphon. Taking inspiration from the 19th century player piano, the band have created a modern day equivalent, an autonomous music machine, built to create music without the need for any human interaction. Read more by Paul McFadyen

Scotland Outdoors
Spectacular pictures from the 2009 Etive River Race. I like to kayak, but you won't catch me launching myself over a waterfall! See more

Scotland Outdoors - Online Games
Test your skill in Rockface Rescue or Navigate Scotland. Play here

Scottish Teen is Youngest to Conquer "Unclimbable" Mountain
A 16-year-old boy from Kinross has conquered what has been described as an 'unclimbable' mountain in the Himalayas. Calum Macintyre is the youngest person to have climbed Ama Dablam, which at 22,525ft (6812m) is five times the height of Ben Nevis. The young mountaineer was raising money for the Teenager Cancer Trust. Calum's father and sister have both been treated for cancer in the past three years. Read more

All Things Dylan Thomas
Visit this site for a comprehensive overview of the life of Dylan Thomas. Includes fun stuff like a random poem generator. Click here

Blog of the Week:
Bluegrass Ireland Comprehensive and up-to-date news of bluegrass and old-time music events in Ireland

01 November 2009

Halloween Photo Fun

I know, I know. I usually post on Halloween, but I knew last night was going to be a blast so I waited so I could share some pictures with you. Last night we went to the first honest-to-god costume party we've been to in ages. Maybe since college! It was held by (deep breath, long-winded explanation coming) our son's girlfriend's parent's neighbors, who bought and are restoring the old farmhouse the girlfriend's father's grandfather owned.

Anyway, the owners were kind enough to invite my husband and me, and I wish you could have seen how much pleasure they took in decorating. Literally no part of the house, barn or outside property was neglected. Everywhere you looked it was like stepping into a macabre version of Disney's haunted mansion. Here are just a few pictures from last night:

Starting off the evening right -- my husband scaring the snot out of little children.

I hurried to snap pictures of the fabulous food and decorations before the party-goers devoured everything. Here we have lady's fingers, bones, and globs of unidentified organ meat. (All cookies and nut clusters)

Eyeball cookies and zombie cake.

I thought the reduced fat Ritz was a nice touch. I'm not normally squeamish, but if that was cheese dip in the body cavity, I didn't try it!

Just one of the amazingly creative decorations. Note the glowing eyeballs in the photos. The skeleton at right was doling out cheese dip from his coffin.

The previous photos were taken out in the barn, where the main party was held, but the hosts' home got equal treatment in decorations. I wish I could show you everything but there isn't room for 500 photos - no part of the house was untouched. They even put Halloween dresses and masks on their doll collection! You had to duck underneath low hanging "spider webs" everywhere. This was the coffee table in their TV room.

Outdoors, each area of their several-acre property was a different scene. I didn't get a good photo of the cemetery in the front yard (complete with a zombie with fog pouring out of its mouth). This is their koi pond, which had a skeleton floating in it. (I'm sure the koi were not amused.)

A screaming banshee bride wails underneath a giant oak tree near the barn.

Me, partaking of a lady finger. Yummmm!!

Hope you had a great weekend! Me, I'm a little, er, rough this morning. But it was worth it!


Celtophile Monday: Happy Celtic New Year

The Celtic New Year
For the Celts, Samhain marked the start of their new year. The hard word of summer growing and fall harvesting is over, and it's time to celebrate - and hunker down for the cold winter ahead. The Living Myth site offers a nice overview. Click here

Sea Power May Cut Scotland's Carbon Emissions
Opening up the Pentland Firth to wave, tidal and offshore wind projects would cut Scotland's carbon emissions by 30%, according to Scottish Renewables. The energy trade association said this was equivalent to taking more than 4.5 million cars off the roads. The Crown Estate said on Wednesday it plans to allow companies to produce "green" energy in the sea between mainland Scotland and Orkney. Wave and tidal devices could be generating power by 2020. Read more

FREE Audio Walks Around Historic Scotland
The Open University in collaboration with the BBC have created a series of audio walks around historic locations in Scotland, with narration from Neil Oliver and input from local experts. You can download them and take them with you on your mp3 player. A new walk will be released each week. Read more

Scotland's History
Interactive maps help you explore early chapters of Scotland's history. Click here