Monday, 28 May 2012

Tīw's Day

Tiw is old English for the Norse God Tyr, who, rumour has it was 'Top of the Pantheon' originally, but ended up as Odin's son sometime during the migration period : when Germanic tribes moved in waves out to older Celtic peoples lands right up to the Christian roman era, and after into Anglo Saxon and Viking settlements... That's pretty vague, covering about 2000 years...but this isnt an anthropology blog.

Tiw/Tyr/Tiwaz[norse rune name]/Tius[Latin] would have existed across Celtic terrirories culture through gradual mergings with Germanic peoples producing subtle differences in character between what the Celts, earlier Germanic, and then AngloSaxon and Norsemen peoples attributed him, and lived through him.
God of the Hanged or Justice. One armed. Long hair, holding a sceptre in his left hand, and with a wolf biting his right. 
That coincides with the western religious tradition of sceptre, staff or wand holding, reminiscent of Egypt (Again!), kabbalah and tarot.

He existed before the Romans and after the Romans.

I thought this guy explains some deeper cultural mixes to illustrate the complexities of the cauldron mix.

So We know of Odin..
One of Norse Odin's chief qualities was aligned with war, whereas Timeless Tiw was more single combat and sky... may be this suited the times more.

[Norse Odin is similar to older Celtic/Germnaic Woden - claiming Woden as an ancestor had by the 8th century become an essential way of establishing royal authority - Anglosaxons and Vikings obviously took him seriously]

I read once that Odin's one-eye imagary was not 'cause he lorst it in a fight - but was used to depict him more like a crazed warrior squinting in battle as he charges sword in hand.
However, Odin was also represented as a Masculine-Feminine combo (aren't we all) ...when to show compassion (F) and when to unflinchingly deliver justice (M) is the mark of a wise warrior I suppose..
And if he was not dual, then Freya/Frigga acts as balance to Odin.

If I am mentioning Odin as well as Tyr, then I should also mention Fenrir - Star of Tuesday's Tale.

Fenrir, father of the Wolves. ..son of Bad boy Loki.
From stories finally compiled,with gaps filled, in C13 Prose Edda (Norwegian) the God's had knowledge of prophecies foretelling great strife from Fenrir and his rapid growth, so they bound him, and as a result Fenrir bit off the right hand of the god Tyr..
Fenrir is foretold to kill Odin during the events of Ragnarok, but after this fateful event was then killed by another of Odin's sons.

This seems to take us full circle to the idea that Tyr was once honoured like Odin and brave in combat.

A Handy Linkage bit of  to Days of the Week.

As with our months, the origins are from the Vikings and Romans.
MONDAY - from the Romans, meaning "moon's day."
TUESDAY - from the German meaning "Tyr's Day" -  Viking mythology and the Germanic god of war and the sky.
WEDNESDAY- From Viking meaning "Woden's Day or Odin's Day ."
THURSDAY- From Viking meaning "Thor's Day."
FRIDAY- From "Frey's Day. " Frey was a male viking/Norse God, famed in Ragnorok tale, or refers to Freya/ Frigg's day - she was the wife of Odin, the Queen of the heavens and the goddess of love and the household.
SATURDAY- From Roman meaning "Saturn's Day." He is the father of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Ceres and Juno.
SUNDAY-From the Romans - meaning "Sun's Day."

So Odin, Thor, Freya and Tiw make up quite a big part of our week in current parlance. Moon and Sun get one each, and Saturn. Old Father Time.

The major periods of the moon are seven days, 1/4 month, long. 
This seven-day period was later regularized and disassociated from the lunar month to become our seven-day week. 

The Greeks named the days week after the sun, the moon and the five known planets, which were in turn named after the gods Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Cronus. The Greeks called the days of the week the Theon hemerai "days of the Gods". 
The Romans substituted their equivalent gods for the Greek gods. And the Germanic tradition lives on as above.

What Yellowhammer enjoys with Pantheons, Polytheism and Animism in general is that there's something for everyone, stories to learn from, and link you into the weaves of time....

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Edmund Spenser

“I was promised on a time - to have reason for my rhyme; 
From that time unto this season,
                                         I received nor rhyme nor reason”

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an Epic Poem and fantastical allegory* celebrating the Tudor Dynasty and Elizabeth I.  
He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English language.  
*Allegory : Symobilic.
The Wiki description above I thought needed no tinkering. 


Some pretty lines from his works. 

"Sleep after toil, 
port after stormy seas, 
Ease after war, 
..death after life 
             does greatly please..."

"For take thy balance if thou be so wise 
And weigh the wind that under heaven doth blow; 
Or weigh the light that in the east doth rise; 
Or weigh the thought that from man's mind doth flow."

“The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame, 
And glorious light of her sunshyny face 
To tell, were as to strive against the streame.”


Saturday, 26 May 2012

High diving

The Olympic kind and the Wild Diving kind 

Notice the less surface splash = cleaner accurate entry, plus technique to minimise arm splaying damage by tightening of arms and interlocking hands for entry.

Womens 3m Springboard:

Take off on third bounce.

Yellowhammer took a spring and 5 m high diving 10 week course once. It started at 7.30 Saturday mornings, and therefore it can be verified that high diving most definitely clears the head after a party night. 


Elderflowers are out - end May through June.

They're delicious, so here's a picture of what to pick :

Yellowhammer's Cauldron Cordial Recipe (for about 1.5l)

20-30 heads of elderflower - depends on size.
1.5 litre water
1kg sugar
1 spoon citric acid
coupla lemons and an orange

Melt the sugar in water, cool slightly and pour over the flowers, chopped and zested lemons and sliced orange.
Add citric acid, stir.
leave for 24+ hours, strain and bottle.

How easy is that ? 

Lots of recipes out there, all slightly varied, but the principle is the same - mix it all up and leave it to infuse the lemony floral sugary goodness.  Citric Acid is from the chemist and means you can preserve it for 6 months, if you cant get any then make sure you drink it before it goes off. It also adds to the lemony vibe.
I would advise not pouring boiling syrup on delicate flowers as they all scold and go brown, be gentle but not too precise about all the measurements.

If you are having guests use the cordial and some gelatine to concoct a fruit laden elderflower jelly - it looks classy and is max taste for min effort.


For Elderflower champagne we want the sugar to turn to alcohol, so add a sachet of wine or champagne yeast to the main mix - with more water (again various recipes and order of adding ingredients are out there, you can get away with no yeast if you do not heat the flowers, as they have natural yeast). 
This requires time to ferment, and can be pretty explosive. No one wants sugar syrup on every surface of the kitchen during the insect season, so use plastic water bottles that expand slightly, you can then see when to loosen the top to release excess gas, and avoid glass shards. 
It is still wise to put the bottles in the shed or in a carrier bag.
You could use a demijohn w/airlock, but I think the idea is to contain the bubbles, so if you do this bottle it after a few days when you are confident its not going to go mental. 

Rune Nugget

Runes -150AD - 700AD approx.  Germanic alphabets. 

This is totally lifted from excellent site :
Where you can find out more about Runes if it grabs you.
One Rune in particular resonates with Yellowhammer.

“Find your ears before you search for words.”

Ansuz - “Anne – suhz” – Literally: “Woden” – Esoteric: “Breath” or “Ancestral Sovereign God”

Odin’s gifts to the first humans is said to be the breath of life and inspired mental activity, along with form, speech and the cognitive senses. The root energy of this rune triggers inspiration and ecstatic mental states. The ability of our minds to work with patterns is inherent in the energies of Ansuz. 
Thorsson aptly states that Ansuz is the “rune of ancestral sovereign power of the mind consciousness, inspiration, enthusiasm and the power of the use of symbols for transformation of consciousness.”
The spirit takes up its residence in the human body when the babe breathes its first breath. It leaves the body with the last breath. Breath is the actual point of osmosis between the physical world of the human being, and the transpersonal energy that animates the universe. Emphasis on the breath is seen in meditation practices in all traditions. Inspiration means to breathe in the exalting or quickening influence of cosmic awareness. The breath is also connected to ancestry, as even the word spirit comes from the same root as breath. Our ancestral lines are unbroken with those of the gods still to this day, in blood and in breath.
Ansuz is a rune of ordering. Naming a thing properly can give power over that thing, and in ancient traditions, naming has often been used to dispel mischievous spirits, bind demons or break psychological fetters. The relationship also is indicative chaotic events can be used to shape ordered circumstances and one’s own thoughts, or the thoughts of others. 
Ansuz is suggestive of the relentless patterns that modern chaos theory declares are universal in every system. The newest theories of language are also found in the mysterious order and ‘strange attractors’ of chaos linguistics.
It is here that all speech can be deciphered and understood as well, so Ansuz is a rune connected with listening and speech: communication and meaning in general. Use such skills wisely for manipulation can, through temptation, become an end in and of itself, and corrupt the power of the rune. The problems with propaganda and misdirection are that the mind will follow its own words into confusion and create hypocrisy, which will damage the hamingja. Thought and action are most powerful when aligned and honesty is the best policy.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Oyster Garden

Who cares for the trials of an Oyster ? Yellohammer can't say much consideration has been paid to this topic, and certainly is not an Oyster eater, however they are a good way in to think about sealife generally.

One can seed an Oyster Bed [or Bay] and have an Oyster Garden - interesting plant crossover language.
The diversity of plants and animals found on oyster bars illustrates the important habitat role that oysters play in Bay systems. 


Oysters are like the building blocks of the benthic (bottom) community and over time you should begin to see many organisms that are common to natural oyster bars, for instance, barnacles, mussels, bryozoans and worms. 
While some are predators of oyster spat, most of these organisms are not a threat to oyster survival. Mussels, for example, may compete with oysters for food while barnacles do not generally cause any serious problems unless the barnacle set is extremely abundant; that is because barnacles feed on a different component of plankton. 
Other organisms such as filamentous algae and sea squirts can cause serious problems when they grow heavily on oysters. 
You will also find several kinds of fishes and crabs that concentrate around oysters. Some are simply feeding on associated organisms, some are there for protection themselves, while some are there to lay their eggs and use the oyster shells as a nursery for producing their own young.

And for Vegetarians, we have Oyster mushrooms growing on a bag looking like coral :

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Joni Mitchell

That Carpark song is annoying... but Joni had a way of capturing her era-generation's atmosphere
(They say the Woodstock song captured the vibe completely but she couldnt even get to it unfortunately, so that's pretty skillful songestry)
Joni deploys observational lyrics and a folky-angel voice which evokes in the listener a migrating bird world where you can scan the scenery as you catch a warm air current... So pretty.
She also flirted with Jazz in later parts of her career , not a good move in Yellowhammer's humble opinion , but still some amazing results if you appreciate the art.

Yellowhammer honours Joni !

I have to admit I didnt know she painted too, but apparently she does, often alternating with albums.

What a woman! 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Free Herby treats.

You cant get any easier than this stuff roughly chopped, soaked in cold water overnight, then filtered - Yellowhammer has been quaffing it for 2 days straight as it tastes like the colour green !

extract from :

Goosegrass or Cleavers - Galium aparine

Some of the old herbals claim that drinking the cold infusion of cleavers for sixty days will make your skin so beautiful that everyone will fall in love with you! Quite a reputation to live up to, worth a try? Cleavers or "sticky willy" is actually a very gentle detoxing herb which helps to clean the lymphatic system without side effects and that's why it would help give skin a healthy glow.  I have found this herb to be very helpful in skin disorders and to reduce general sluggishness after winter. You will have seen it on walks in the countryside and in the city, as it does grow absolutely everywhere.

Another 'weed' which tastes delish is Garlic Mustard. 
It grows everywhere and looks like nettle, but with heart shaped softer leaves and no sting.
Pesto a big bunch of leaves with garlic cloves, chilli, spinach, pine nuts, cheese and quality oil.

hedgerow to plate :

Monday, 7 May 2012

Beech Leaf Noyau

Made in May.^^^^^^^^^
  • 1 jar 
  • beech leaves (young, soft ones)
  • Enough gin to cover
  • Sugar and water 
  • a few almonds
Stick fresh beech leaf buds into a jar, with almonds, fill it with gin, leave it in a cupboard for 2 weeks.
Strain, mix in some sugar syrup.
bottle, drink.

Nutty flavour liquer.  Completely transforms the gin. Im wondering if this works with vodka, presume so.  Also wondering if I collected the right leaves.

^^^ 2 weeks later ^^^^ 

And the finished result, YellowHammer blended with dark muscavado syrup.

Really tasty with a pawful of toasted almonds...reckon it would be good in a nut trifle too !

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Neo Paganism , Celts and the Iron Age.

Despite nearly all evidence for Pagan rituals being non-decipherable for the main part, the folk can not be held down, and neo-paganism is a blooming modern religion, the interpretation based around values and practices thought to be similar to Celtic Polytheism. No bad thing..

Most Neo-Pagan traditions have many of the following factors in common:
  • their faith was almost or completely wiped out in the past and has since been reconstructed. 
  • a duotheistic or polytheistic belief system (they recognize a Goddess and God, and/or believe in many deities). Like the Greeks, and Romans prior to Monotheist Jewish and Christian traditions  growing.
  • many followers are solitary practitioners. You and nature, the sun and moon..
  • others are involved in small groups, which various traditions call circles, covens, garths, groves, hearths, kindreds, etc.
  • they celebrate four main seasonal days of celebrations each year, associated with the equinoxes and solstices.
  • many also celebrate four additional days, each between a solstice and equinox. [Imbolc, Beltane, Samhain and Llug fest]
  • they prefer to conduct their religious rituals outdoors where practical, preferably at ancient Stone, Bronze (Avebury) or Iron age (Stonehenge) sites, perceived ley lines , groves. etc
  • They do not believe in Satan but Wiccan is a brand of paganism, and satanic was a Christian concept to show disapproval of anything not fitting with the worship of the one God.  Im not sure witchy types ever considered Satan their leader because let's face it, that would be mad.  Dark practices balance light ones though in older religions, Chrisitians sought only to worship the light.
  • Modern Pagans seek to ignite within through Music, Storytelling in the verbal tradition, drumming (or more likely rattles in this part of the world at the time) etc  Stonehenge has acoustic design built in.
  • they have a minimal or no hierarchical structure. Hooray ! A group of modern druids is called an Argument of Druids, which says it all - everyone's views are important.
  • they have a concern for the environment and feel close to nature and its cycles.
  • Wheels and Circles used to represent ideas. The Celtic wheel turns as the year progresses from Winter to Summer. The start of the day is night and the start of the year is dark. (19th C -> no real proof of that, but it makes sense that early stoneage hunters were more interested in hunting at night so would have got up then for the main work, until farming )
  • They follow a behavioral code that requires them to avoid hurting themselves or others.  There is an idea that Druids never used blades, but I can't see that working well.
  • merry making is not unheard fact its obligatory at the end of any ceremony or occaision - in fact, any excuse !
  • APath Ritual Creation Sheet (PDF link)

Let's go back a bit: What do we know about the original Celtic Polytheists (Pagans)?

Pagan is a term most often applied to Pre-Christian Polytheist religions...pretty vaugue and dismissive.
The word Paganus (of the land - country folk) is a latin description the Romans used ...  Greco-Pagan describes polytheistic religions pre Christian in nature also.

Celtic Polytheism is the more accurate and polite name for Paganism in this euro part of the world. 'Celtic' applies geographically to tribes (see below map) in the Iron Age*, and their societies, languages in this region.

The peoples of much of this part of the world were Celtic (see map) and practised Polytheism at a personal as well as community level .
Druids were Celtic Magico-religious specialists of the era in this part of the world, Vedic Priests and Shamans et al in other parts of the world.

Many Celtic Myths are swayed by Roman, Medieval and Victorian re-interpretations, but there is evidence for offerings to Riahnnon , Denu, Taranis (thunder), Lugh (Sun) and Belanos (Healing) Deities.  In fact it was monks in the 5th C who started to record many of the Irish myths to prevent them being lost. They scribed the ancient stories in a fairly unbiased way and with respect, as was their duty.  Ironic that if it wasnt for the Christians there would be very little to re-interpret.
Trees (such as Yew and Holly) , Springs and faeries all feature strongly and appear in names so must have been important culturally.
Romans reported Druids believed in Reincarnation.
Bodies such as Tollund Man have been found preserved in 'the inbetween' - places where earth meets water. Buddhism has a strong focus on the in between areas too (the pause between the breath in and out). It is through these in between places conceptually that contact between dimensions takes place. Neo Pagans often refer to the 'veils' between worlds, and Samhain is when all the veils are thin which is how spirits of ancestors become more visible. Hallowe'en rather evily takes this and runs with it to assume ghosts are bad. This would not have been the case in any ancient customs and is still not in voodoo, shamansim etc. I digress.

*  The Iron Age is an Archeaological term for a dated period of time classified by materials predominantly used in society.  The Iron Age and Polytheism are not concepts particular to this region.


Distribution of Celtic peoples:

  core Hallstatt territory, by the 6th century BC
  maximal Celtic expansion, by 275 BC
  Lusitanian area of Iberia where Celtic presence is uncertain
  the "six Celtic nations" which retained significant numbers of Celtic speakers.
  areas where Celtic languages remain widely spoken today

Celtic Qualities :
> Indo European
> Ethno-linguistically diverse set of celtic languages
> Tribal societies
> Pre-Roman, post Bronze
> Fully Celtic descendants in central Europe were the people of the Iron Age Hallstatt culture (c. 800-450 BC) named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria
> In Britain the Brigantes tribe dominated parts of the Iron age and ended after the Romans took over.
> Typical Oath : "I swear by the gods by whom my people swear" and "If I break my oath, may the land open to swallow me, the sea rise to drown me, and the sky fall upon me."
> Crescentic plaque from Llyn Cerrig Bach, Anglesey.

More on the Iron Age

In historical archaeology, the ancient literature of the Iron Age includes the earliest texts preserved in manuscript tradition. Sanskrit literature and Chinese literature flourished in this archeological Age. Other text includes the Avestan Gathas, the Indian Vedas and the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible. The principal feature that distinguishes the Iron Age from the preceding ages is the introduction of alphabetic characters, and the consequent development of written language which enabled literature and historic record.

The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used in the manufacture of implements with a sharp edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted roughly 2.5 million years, and ended between 4500 BC to 2000 BC with the advent of metalworking

Stone Henge is from the late stone Age into the Bronze age [3000-2000BC], and Avebury even older.
The German Gold Hats (Look them up) were dated to about 1300BC so Bronze age.
Both then Celtic Ancestors but associated with Paganism.


Rosemary. Currently growing in Yellowhammer's herb garden.

YellowHammer's Restorative Rosemary Tea

1/4 sprig rosemary
small slice lemon
1/4 spoon honey
stick it in a cup with hot water.

A sprig of rosemary with crushed ice and a lemon slice goes well in Mead too.

Mixing any selection of fresh chopped herbs with a cup of tea is always good to refresh the mouth and senses. It seems to clear the head and aid digestion, but also has antiseptic properties, so goes well with honey too.

Modern herbalists recommend rosemary tea as a hair wash, as a mouthwash, as an insect-repellent, and as a rub for sore muscles. It is good for memory and head generally.
The dried sprigs, hung in a closet, are said to discourage moths from eating clothes. Companion planting enthusiasts claim that rosemary planted next to cabbage, beans, and carrots will help to repel cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot fly. Rosemary is also said to thrive in the presence of garden sage.

Rosemary, Sage and Lavender all make good smokers as an alternative to incense.
Tie in bundles like smudge stick when freshly cut mid morning. Then hang to dry if possible in paper bags.

If growing Rosemary, crop it mildly (no more than 1/4 sprigs available) post flowering. It grows anywhere, even dry soils.

Rosemary Oil infusion


  1. Combine the oil and rosemary in a heavy small saucepan.
    Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
    Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
    Transfer the sprigs to a 4-ounce bottle or cruet.
    Add the oil and seal the lid.
    Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Isn’t it amazing the amount of natural healing nature provides us through herbs and other plants?  

Tulips and Irises

  1. Two Seasonal Favourites in Art and Photography///.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Rock Stars : Smoky Quartz & Feldspar

Yellowhammer's guide to Favourite Minerals.

Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's Continental crust, after Feldspar.*
Smoky quartz is a brown to black variety.

Like other quartz gems, it is a silicon dioxide crystal. The smoky colour results from free silicon.
Silicate minerals all contain silicon and oxygen. 

Chrysocolla [above] is a hydrated copper silicate mineral.
Minerals range in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms.

By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals, and does not have a specific chemical composition. 

* Feldspars are a group of rock-forming minerals which make up as much as 60% of the Earth's crust.
Feldspar is derived from the German Feld, "field", and Spath, "a rock that does not contain ore".
Feldspars crystallize from magma in rocks, as veins. 

Rock formed almost entirely of feldspar is known as anorthosite. [below]

Minerals are composed of salts and silicates, of fixed chemical composition.
Feldpsar and quartz are two most common minerals in crust.
Chrysocolla and Quartz are examples of silicon based minerals (silcates).
Rock is a group of minerals, Feldspar mineral veins (crystallized magma) run through 60% of Earth's crust.
Anthorosite is a Feldspar rock.