Marking Midwinter’s day, Pagan beliefs – Gods the Goddess of the winter solstice
Today is Mid winters day or the Winter Solstice.
History and cultural significance
The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge in Britain and Newgrange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). Significant in respect of Stonehenge is the fact that the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e., its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.
The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve.
Since the event is seen as the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures using winter solstice based cyclic calendars, the year as reborn has been celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth deities or new beginnings such as Hogmanay’s redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. Also reversal is yet another usual theme as in Saturnalia’s slave and master reversals.
CAILLEACH BHEUR : The Celtic Goddess of winter
CAILLEACH BHEUR : Scottish, Irish, Manx, Great Goddess in her Destroyer aspect; called “Veiled One”. Another name is Scota, from which Scotland comes. In parts of Britain she is the Goddess of Winter. She was an ancient Goddess of the pre-Celtic peoples of Ireland. She controlled the seasons and the weather; and was the goddess of earth and sky, moon and sun.
Saturn (Roman): Every December, the Romans threw a week-long celebration of debauchery and fun, called Saturnalia in honor of their agricultural god, Saturn. Roles were reversed, and slaves became the masters, at least temporarily. This is where the tradition of the Lord of Misrule originated
Alcyone (Greek): Alcyone is the Kingfisher goddess. She nests every winter for two weeks, and while she does, the wild seas become calm and peaceful.
Ameratasu (Japan): In feudal Japan, worshipers celebrated the return of Ameratasu, the sun goddess, who slept in a cold, remote cave. When the other gods woke her with a loud celebration, she looked out of the cave and saw an image of herself in a mirror. The other gods convinced her to emerge from her seclusion and return sunlight to the universe.
Baldur (Norse): Baldur is associated with the legend of the mistletoe. His mother, Frigga, honored Baldur and asked all of nature to promise not to harm him. Unfortunately, in her haste, Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant, so Loki – the resident trickster – took advantage of the opportunity and fooled Baldur’s blind twin, Hodr, into killing him with a spear made of mistletoe. Baldur was later restored to life.
Bona Dea (Roman): This fertility goddess was worshiped in a secret temple on the Aventine hill in Rome, and only women were permitted to attend her rites. Her annual festival was held early in December.
Demeter (Greek): Through her daughter, Persephone, Demeter is linked strongly to the changing of the seasons and is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in winter. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until her daughter’s return.
Dionysus (Greek): A festival called Brumalia was held every December in honor of Dionysus and his fermented grape wine. The event proved so popular that the Romans adopted it as well in their celebrations of Bacchus.
Holly King (British/Celtic): The Holly King is a figure found in British tales and folklore. He is similar to the Green Man, the archetype of the forest. In modern Pagan religion, the Holly King battles the Oak King for supremacy throughout the year. At the winter solstice, the Holly King is defeated.
Horus (Egyptian): Horus was one of the solar deities of the ancient Egyptians. He rose and set every day, and is often associated with Nut, the sky god. Horus later became connected with another sun god, Ra.
La Befana (Italian): This character from Italian folklore is similar to St. Nicholas, in that she flies around delivering candy to well-behaved children in early January. She is depicted as an old woman on a broomstick, wearing a black shawl.
Lord of Misrule (British): The custom of appointing a Lord of Misrule to preside over winter holiday festivities actually has its roots in antiquity, during the Roman week of Saturnalia.
Mithras (Roman): Mithras was celebrated as part of a mystery religion in ancient Rome. He was a god of the sun, who was born around the time of the winter solstice and then experienced a resurrection around the spring equinox.
Odin (Norse): In some legends, Odin bestowed gifts at Yuletide upon his people, riding a magical flying horse across the sky. This legend may have combined with that of St. Nicholas to create the modern Santa Claus.
THE TREE SINGS TO THE RIVER – By Lea Goldberg
He who carried my golden autumn,
Swept away my blood with the leaf fall,
He who shall see my spring when it returns
To him with the turning of the year.
My brother, the river, who is forever lost,
New each day and different and one,
My brother the stream between his two shores
Who flows as I do between spring and fall.
For I am the bud and I am the fruit,
I am my future and I am my past,
I am the solitary tree trunk,
And you — you are my time and my song.
Song of Sunset on the River by Bai Juyi, Image of the river Suir at Sunset
Song of Sunset on the River
by Bai Juyi
A length setting sun spread water in
Half river emerald half river red
Love ninth month first three night
Dew like pearl moon like bow
A strip of water’s spread in the setting sun,
Half the river’s emerald, half is red.
I love the third night of the ninth month,
The dew is like pearl; the moon like a bow.
A weekend with wildlife, Otters of the river Suir
My study of an Otter family on the river Suir, county Tipperary continued today Friday, Each time I visit this family I manage to get closer and closer, today being the most noticeable.
I managed to spend 40min with this one adult Otter as he or she hunted the river for fish, this process involved diving as deep as possible and spending about a minute below the water before coming back up for breath, during the 40 minutes I think two fish in total were retrieved.
I hope to keep returning many times of the winter months to monitor just how they are all doing, ist amazing to be able to get so close and exciting to study such wonderful wild animals.
Irish Landscape images, county Kilkenny : The fog after the rain, a poem
The fog after the rain , a poem
Rain falls all day in the old valley,
All the woodlands swimming underneath the steaming fog.
What peaceful sound I hear,
softly rings out of the sparkling
Woods and fields,
song of a thousand winter birds
announcing the setting sun,
Who sings loudest, after the rains.
In the bleak midwinter – Poem By Christina Rossetti
In the bleak midwinter
By Christina Rossetti
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Landscape art and Painters , Artist: Fred Cuming
Landscape painting and photography
Painting as an art form for myself feels very much like a natural progression from the art of landscape photography which is the act of recording a representation of the view you find yourself located in.
I often find myself asking what it was about an image I capture with my camera or in a sketch / painting that I liked so much that I went to the effort of working with that location in different forms and media.
This is a quote from one of my favourite landscape painters Fred Cuming, Talking about his paintings Cuming says: ‘I am not interested in pure representation. My work is about responses to the moods and atmospheres generated by landscape’
Although there are many forms of landscape art all as valid as each other, Contemporary landscape painting tends to fall into the areas of semi abstracted to completely abstract, in that each work is making an effort to extract from the selected landscape location a sense of atmosphere or a mood. This mood and atmosphere can involve colour or light or texture, or all of these things and more.
This artistic process, from pure representation or abstraction can in a completely valid way start with photography and in fact many current artists have replaced the sketch book with the film/digital camera. The question as to if this is the best thing or not will continue for a long time, some feeling that a photo simply cannot capture a good enough sense of the location or at least not in the same way as spending time in that location with a sketch book can.
Personally I feel photographs are a very important tool and can in a very valid way capture the mood and sense of a place. However I feel that you need to spend a good amount of time with your camera exploring as much as you can while your on site, walking around and finding all the different views and angles along with all the small details you can find. The aim is to return home with as complete a memory of your landscape as you can.
Here are some details of Fred Cuming as an artist along with some more of his painting…..
Artist: Fred Cuming
Fred Cuming is a painter of International standing. Born in 1930 he studied Art at Sidcup School of Art from 1945 to 1949. After completing his National Service he studied at the Royal College of Art from 1951 to 1955 where he gained a Rome Scholarship and an Abbey Minor Scholarship.
Fred was elected a Royal Academician in 1974. He has also been a member of the New English Art Club since 1960 and is the recipient of many art awards including: the Grand Prix Fine Art (1977); the Royal Academy’s House & Garden Award and the Sir Brinsley Ford Prize (New English Art Club, 1986).
Fred Cuming has exhibited his contemporary paintings world wide. His paintings feature in many private and public modern art collections. These include: Montecarlo Museum; Royal Academy of Arts; and the Guinness Collection.
Fred Cuming paintings offer a moment for reflection. Cuming creates a relationship with nature and light – inducing observers to appreciate the calming atmosphere and realisation of the beauty around us. Many of his paintings feature the counties of Kent and Sussex where the Fred Cuming artist studio is located.
Talking about his paintings Cuming says: ‘I am not interested in pure representation. My work is about responses to the moods and atmospheres generated by landscape, still life or interior. My philosophy is that the more I work the more I discover. Drawing is essential as a tool of discovery; skill and mastery of technique are also essential, but only as a vocabulary and a means towards an idea. I struggle to keep an open mind.’
Fred Cuming has exhibited at other leading British Art Galleries. In 2001 Cuming was the featured artist at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition with an entire gallery dedicated to his art work.In 2004 he was awarded an honourary doctorate from the University of Kent.Like all Red Rag British art and Contemporary art Fred Cuming purchases can be shipped worldwide.
Otters of the River Suir , County Tipperary
Last weekend while on walk between Clonmel and Carrick-on-suir, both in county Tipperary, We came across a family of Otters, they had made one of the rivers contributor’s their home ( A Holt or Couch in otter terms ). We spent about an hour with them watching as two adults and four pups hunted and play in the waters. One of the Pups managed to catch a fish and then share this food with the other three pups on the river bank.
For a long time I have hopped to have an encounter with these otters, I knew they were around this location but had never been in luck when it came to seeing them, so this hour was a truly special time and one I will not forget 🙂 , it changes the way you feel about a river when you have the chance to view its wild life for such a long period of time.
Here are some basic facts about the otter in Ireland …..
Written by Dr Mathieu Lundy
The otter (Lutra lutra) is regarded as one of Ireland’s most charismatic native mammal species.
The otter is highly secretive and although widespread people tend to only get rare glimpses of the species in the wild. Otter populations declined throughout Europe after the 1960s and the species is now very rare or absent from many parts of its former range. The Irish otter population appears to have remained largely stable and is regarded as a European stronghold. In Ireland otters are found in a diverse array of aquatic habitats, from small streams to major rivers, upland lakes to coastal lagoons and sandy beaches. However, otters that live at the coast do need access to some freshwater habitat to bathe. Within these habitats otters feed on a range of both aquatic and terrestrial prey. Much of the information regarding distribution, habitat use and diet comes from spotting otter tracks and signs. Individual otters are highly territorial, using droppings called spraints to mark their home ranges. Favoured locations for leaving spraints are in-stream boulders, bridge footings and grass tussocks, these are called seats. These territorial signs are an ideal way to tell if otters are using an area. Within its territory an otter may have a number of resting sites, called couches and underground denning sites called holts, which can be a considerable distance (up to 1km) from a river, lake or the seashore.
The species of otter that occurs in Ireland is called the Eurasian otter and is found in Europe and across Asia to China and Japan. In other regions the otter shares aquatic habitats with species specialised to different habitats such as sea otters, but in Ireland the otters that live at the coast and those that occupy our rivers are the same species.
In Ireland the otter population is geographically widely spread. In local areas its presence will depend on the provision of suitable aquatic habitats, sufficient food and cover for resting and breeding. During different seasons male otters and juvenile otters will disperse and otter signs may be observed in areas where they have not been present hitherto.
Home ranging behaviour
The territories of otters can stretch for several kilometres; the total length of the home range depends on the availability of food. The smallest territories are thought to occur at coastal sites, where territories may be as small as 2km. The longest territories occur in upland streams where an individual may have to range more than 20km to find sufficient food. The territories of males tend to be larger than females and indeed may overlap with a number of female otters. The availability of suitable territories along the coast and inland at lakes and rivers is thought to maintain the otter population of Ireland. The entire population is estimated to be in the region of 10,000 adults.
Within their territories an individual otter may utilise a number of holts. These tend to be natural crevices, associated with the roots of trees growing along river and lake banks. These natural recesses provide the otter with a holt that has multiple entrances from which the otter can escape if disturbed. Whilst individual otters rarely dig their own holts they will use burrows made by other animals such as rabbits and foxes. It is possible to build artificial holts to attract otters to use certain areas. Artificial holts are built to resemble natural holts, with a resting compartment and multiple entrances, these are particularly important where the natural bank side vegetation has been removed.
Other resting sites are also used, frequently in dense vegetation and may be associated with frequently used runs and slides into the water.
Although otters can breed at any time of year most seem do so in spring or early summer. Scent markings by the females signal to male otters that the females are ready to mate. The pregnancy lasts for around two months after which a litter of cubs is born, usually two or three, but as many as five have been seen. The cubs remain in the natal holt for up to two months before venturing out on their own, although the mother may move the cubs between holts within her territory periodically. Unlike other resting sites the natal holts do not tend to be marked with spraints. The juvenile otters remain as a family group for around six months or longer before the young otters disperse to establish their own territories.
Otters that live in rivers and lakes tend to be completely nocturnal, described as being crepuscular – activity peaks at dusk and dawn. Foraging at night or in ‘muddy’ water is aided by their highly sensitive whiskers, which detect their prey items. Otters are principally piscivorous, relying predominantly on salmonids (salmon and trout), but also eel and small fish species such as stickleback. However, otters are not limited to fish and feed opportunistically on a range of prey when available: frogs are frequently eaten by otters, and the remains of invertebrates (crayfish), birds and small mammals have also been found in spraints. Otters that forage at the coast may have flexible foraging times linked to the tides. At low tide otters hunt in the exposed rock pools and seaweed covered rocks for fish and invertebrate prey.
The Irish otter population remains one of the most stable in Europe. There is some evidence to suggest that since initial national surveys in the early 1980s there have been declines in the prevalence of the species. It is hoped that the reasons for these declines will be addressed by the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), ongoing national assessments and by targeted intensive surveys. The risks to the current otter population are the availability of sufficient food within their habitats and provision of resting and denning sites. This species is protected under the Wildlife Act (1976) and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.
Otters have been found dead in illegal snares, which may not be intended for otters, but which still pose a threat to individual animals. A significant number of otters are also killed on our roads. There is some evidence that the incidence of these accidents increases during periods of flooding when fast flowing rivers at bridge crossing become impassable and otters must venture onto roads to find alternative routes. The occurrence of otters at any site relies on a complex interaction of the characteristics of the wider landscape and local site specific habitat factors. Broad-scale intensive agriculture and urbanisation of catchments reduces the likelihood that otters will occur, along with reduced diversity of river banks and lake shores. Maintaining prey populations and preserving the natural features of rivers, lakes and coasts will benefit the Irish otter population and ensure that the Irish population remains a European stronghold.
Digital Art work – A December Sunset – Callan, county Kilkenny
A December Sunset – Callan, county Kilkenny
Often when out for an evening walk at this time of year the sunsets across our local fields can be just amazing to view, the sun is low in the sky all day long in December when compared to a mid summers day. With out getting to detailed this changes the angle of the sun and it seems to make the last few moments of day light last longer. This along with the mist and early frosts that can sit of the fields, haging above the hedgerows is just great to see 🙂
This painting is created using a PC application called mypaint, I have spent the last few weeks doing my best to get up to speed with how to make the best use of it, at first just using some of the drawing tools and ink pens but as you can see – I hope that I am now getting more use to the painting and colour tools..
The paint is posted the moment I feel its finished , I very much like the idea of this as it helps me to close the processes involved and to stop me coming back and over working anything. Its a little hard to describe but its a great feeling to start and finish a painting in one session and then be able to learn when you feel that you have finished !!!
A Winters day on the farm …..
Winters on a farm are a hard time of year, dealing with the weather and the cold, the dark evenings and early mornings. Life as a farmer must have many great moments but its not hard to imagine that there are less of these in the winter months than in the summer.
I took these images while out on a walk yesterday and as you can see, on this farm some of the cows are still out in the fields while some have been returned to their winter shed, soon all of them with be inside. In the Barn close by is stored some of the feed that will be used for the cattle over the next few months. In an area of the barn next to the feed is the farmers haybob that would have been used only a few weeks back to help get the hay bales ready.
The next few weeks are all about rest for the land and keeping the live stock warm and health in the sheds, life slows down and less work out in the fields is needed. While welcome in some ways you can imagine that this lack of activity can at times feel a little to slow but this is farm life.
Here in county Kilkenny each year you develop a great sense of the farming seasons and the activities that go along with them.
Abandoned Farmhouse, Poem By Ted Kooser
By Ted Kooser
He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.
A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.
Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm—a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.
Fond memory of Molly our very special Golden Retriever
Its exactly one year ago that we lost our much loved friend Molly, she was with us for 12 1/2 year and in that time shared such a great life with us.
The gap she left is just a little smaller than this time last year but as you can imagine she is still very much loved and in our minds all the time, she was special and as lots of dog owners know she made our lives special, in that she was in it….
for the great times we had with her 🙂 🙂
Macro photography in December
You would think that in the first week of December, it would be hard to find anything interesting in the local landscape nature wise to get good and close to with a Macro lens, however there are still some amazing thing to be seen and captured 🙂
Here are just a few macro images taken this week …….
Friday Art and Artists : British Artist Edward Bawden
Friday Art reviews
Back in the Summer I did a weeks worth of posts that related to some of the artists I like the most. I really enjoyed doing the research behind these posts and so I want to start looking at some more artists and their work , In the long term I am planning to put each Friday aside for these posts, this December however I may post a lot more than one day per week, as I want to dig a lot deeper into the subject of landscape and cityscape art and artists ……
Artist Edward Bawden
British Artist Edward Bawden, one of a group of artists associated with a community of artists that existed around Great Bardfield in Essex, England during the middle years of the 20th century.
Great Bardfield :
is a village in north west Essex, England. The principal artists who lived there between 1930 and 1970 were John Aldridge RA, Edward Bawden CBE RA, George Chapman, Stanley Clifford-Smith, Audrey Cruddas, Walter Hoyle (principally a printmaker, who ran the printing workshops at Cambridge Art School when I was there, and taught me to do linocuts in the style of Bawden and himself), Eric Ravilious, Sheila Robinson, Michael Rothenstein, Kenneth Rowntree and Marianne Straub. Other artists associated with the group include Duffy Ayers, John Bolam (who taught me painting at Cambridge Art School, and later became the Principal of the school), Bernard Cheese, Tirzah Garwood, Joan Glass, David Low and Laurence Scarfe. Great Bardfield Artists were diverse in style but shared a love for figurative art, making the group distinct from the better known St Ives art community in Cornwall, who, after the war, were chiefly dominated by abstractionists.
Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989)
can be seen as a key artist in the Bardfield group. His long career spanned most of the twentieth century, and comfortably straddled boundaries and borders between the fine and applied arts, boundaries which are seen as so immovable today. Even before his appointment as an Official War Artist in 1940, Bawden had established a reputation as a designer, illustrator and painter. As well as these areas his output over the years include murals, posters, designs for wallpaper, ceramics, lithographic prints and watercolours.
Edward Bawden was born in Braintree, Essex in 1903, and was perhaps more firmly rooted in Essex than any other artist represented in the North West Essex Collection. Bawden attended the Friends’ School in Saffron Walden. At the age of eleven he strained his heart and was excused participation in sports. This may have allowed him to devote more time to drawing, and his portraits and caricatures attracted the attention of his tutors who arranged for him to spend a day a week at the Cambridge School of Art. The school, now part of Anglia Ruskin University, had been founded to comply with the Ruskinian philosophies of improving design for industry, and encouraging amateur aspirations. Bawden fitted perfectly.
Before long, he had gained entry to the Royal College of Art. Here he was taught by Paul Nash (a lasting influence on Bawden and his contemporaries), and the popular E. W. Tristram. It was at the RCA that Bawden first met his ‘kindred spirit’, Eric Ravilious, the two quickly becoming firm friends, though entirely different in temperament. Shortly after leaving the college, the pair gained a prestigious commission to paint a mural for the refreshment room of Morley College in London. He first rented half of Brick House, the imposing Georgian house in Great Bardfield in the mid-1920s with Ravilious, and after his father purchased the whole house for him on his marriage to Charlotte Epton in 1932, he continued to live there until moving to Saffron Walden in 1970 after Charlotte’s death.
On a Personal note …..
I really like Edwards London market prints, his use of limited colour and strong geometric shapes, to me this is print making at its very best. They are almost poster like yet retain strong connections to art not commercial based prints.
I like very much the sense of movement and activity that he captures from the people he includes in these prints, you can almost hear the noise and imagine the chatter that is taking place, the sound of wheels on the flag stones. The cold in the winter and the heat of the city in the summer.
These prints are full of life and capture London markets in 1967 in an almost timeless way 🙂 🙂
In 1967 Bawden made a series of six prints of London markets, commissioned by Curwen Prints. The markets were Billingsgate, Borough, Covent Garden (2), Leadenhall and Smithfield:
December , the Pagan Meaning of Evergreen & Holly
Evergreens and holly (genus Ilex) are traditionally used to decorate during the holidays. Although many simply enjoy the plants for their fragrance and holiday colors, the meaning of these plants goes deeper for others, including pagans. Historically, pagans had — and still have — specific beliefs about the power and symbolism of both evergreens and holly, and some still use the plants as decor in accordance with those beliefs.
Evergreen — Always Green
Evergreens are loosely defined as plants that retain their foliage and remain green year-round. Usually, the term refers to coniferous trees — trees that have needles or needle-like foliage, but it can refer to any plant that stays green all winter long, including holly. Today, evergreens are valued for their practical uses — as windbreaks, hedges and for use as Christmas trees. Pagans used them for more spiritual reasons.
Pagan Meaning of Evergreen
In some countries, it was believed that evergreens would keep evil out of the home — evil spirits and ghosts, and evil in the form of illnesses. For this reason, evergreen boughs were often cut down and hung over doorways and inside the home. Pagans also believed that the green branches represented everlasting life. Druids used evergreen branches to decorate their temples for this very reason, according to History.com. The green of the branches helped people to get through the long winter by having hope in the warmth and food that would come in the spring.
Holly — Pretty and Prickly
vary widely in leaf shape and appearance. Although there are over 400 species (Ilex opaca is the scientific name of American holly), the most popular for use during the holidays are those that produce bright red berries, which historically were seen by pagans as masculine plants even though it is the female plants that produce the fruit. Holly plants are generally hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, although this can vary by species. Most popular hollies are hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9.
Pagan Meaning of Holly
Holly has a more specific meaning for pagans. Historically, pagans believed that like evergreens, holly wards off evil spirits. They also believed that holly increased fertility. In addition to bringing in holly boughs to decorate the home and increase fertility, holly was also often planted outdoors around the house to keep out evil spirits.
Happy Christmas and New year to everyone ! .. A 2016 Gallery
Happy Christmas and a happy new year for 2017 to everyone 🙂
Todays post is my last for the year, I want to spend sometime off line with my family for the holidays.
I also want to say a very big thank you for such a great 2016 to everyone here in the word-press community, it has been great fun sharing posts with you all and reading your own posts!!!, its a great thrill to know so many great people and blogger’s here !!
Have a great Christmas time and a wonderful new year period, I look forward to sharing some on-line time with you all again in January 2017 – 🙂 🙂 🙂
A gallery of images from 2016
December 22, 2016 | Categories: Comment, Gallery, Irish coastline, irish woodlands, Landscape, Nature and Wildlife, Nigel Borrington, Travel Locations | Tags: bloggers, friends, Happy Christmas, happy new year, Nigel Borrington, Thank you, wordpress | 18 Comments