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irish woodlands

County Kilkenny , Nature photography – Deep in the Springtime woodlands


The first signs of Spring – BlackThorn

Blackthorn is the 12th letter of the Gaelic tree alphabet, representing P, yet another controversial letter. There was no P in the Gaelic alphabet until recently, so some tree has had to stand in. As Blackthorn was in the original alphabet (for St, as its old Gaelic name is Straiph, but St is no longer considered a letter in its own right). As Blackthorn’s latin name is Prunus spinosa, it fits the bill. Its modern Gaelic name is Draighneag or Airne (sloe) or Sgitheach dubh (black hawthorn).
Snippets of Lore

Blackthorn is the 12th letter of the Gaelic tree alphabet representing P, controversially, as there was no P in the alphabet until recently

For my explanation of why Blackthorn stands for P see http://mandyhaggith.worldforests.org/index.asp?pageid=359149

Blackthorn’s latin name is Prunus spinosa. In modern Gaelic, draighneag (pierce), airne (sloe) or sgitheach dubh (black hawthorn).

Blackthorn’s fruit is called sloe. They are very high in Vitamin C.

To get a taste of the bitterness of sloes, nowhere better to start than Vicki Feaver. http://www.spl.org.uk/best-poems_2006/feaver.htm

Too much sloe gin may be too much of a good thing.

Sloe gin infused with pennyroyal and valerian was the original ‘Mother’s Ruin’.

Blackthorn is the ancestor of all plum trees.

Sloe stones have been found in Neolithic cairns and crannogs.

The Ice Man was carrying a sloe, presumably to eat.

Sloes are better flavored if frosted, or dried then rehydrated.

Sloe jelly is best made with apples.

Sloes are good for the bladder, kidneys, stomach and lung complaints.

Sloe juice and bark gives indelible ink.

Sloes gives a pinky purple dye, and blackthorn bark produces a red or orange dye.

Blackthorn bark can be used to reduce fever.

Use blackthorn leaves for tea. It’s good for tonsils and larynx.

Have another sloe gin (by Seamus Heaney) http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/IrelandGenWeb/2003-11/1069876152

Responding to Heaney, Tom Rawling’s Sloe Gin: http://www.xen19.dial.pipex.com/dec_2.htm

And another moody blackthorn poem, this one by Louis McKee, coming into blossom. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-blackthorn/

Blackthorn produces beautiful snow white blossoms early and before the leaves come.

Blackthorn’s leafless stems, in flower, evoke a place between death and life.

Blackthorn blossom is unlucky indoors (maybe for the same reason as hawthorn?)

A tisane of blackthorn blossom ‘purges to the depths’.

Rough weather in March is called a Blackthorn Winter.

Blackthorn is the sister of Hawthorn: Blackthorn governs Nov-April, Hawthorn governs May-Oct.

Blackthorn wood is hard and good for walking sticks and weapons. Best walking sticks are blackthorn entwined by honeysuckle.

Irish sheleilaigh sticks are made with blackthorn wood.

Blackthorn trees give good shelter for birds to nest in. It makes excellent hedges.

Blackthorn is supposed to never exceed 13 feet.

Proverb: Better the bramble than the blackthorn, but better the blackthorn than the devil.

Blackthorn helps you see beyond negatives to opportunity.

A hero fleeing from giants needs a magical blackthorn twig which will sprout into a thicket!

Blackthorns were believed to spring from the blood of Norse invaders.

A blackthorn thorn tipped with poison is a subtle weapon known as ‘a pin of slumber’.

Blackthorn is associated with Sleeping Beauty – after pricking her finger, the castle was thorn-bound until love came.

Witches stick blackthorns into wax effigies of their enemies.

Blackthorn was used for pyres when burning witches.

Blackthorn was believed to have been used for Christ’s Crown of Thorns, hence unlucky.

For fertile fields, make, wear, then burn a blackthorn crown and spread its ash.

Blackthorn represents the inevitability of death, and of dark secrets.

Evil fairy-folk stole babies – and hid them in blackthorn bushes.

‘Many sloes, many cold toes’ – presage of bad winter ahead.


The First flowers of Spring, The Primrose a Poem Thomas Carew

Springtime flowers 2018
Primrose
Nigel Borrington

The Primrose

Thomas Carew

Ask me why I send you here
The firstling of the infant year;
Ask me why I send to you
This primrose all bepearled with dew:
I straight will whisper in your ears,
The sweets of love are washed with tears.

Ask me why this flower doth show
So yellow, green, and sickly too;
Ask me why the stalk is weak
And bending, yet it doth not break:
I must tell you, these discover
What doubts and fears are in a lover.


5 Images for the Week , Thursday – The Smallest of Gifts

The Smallest of gifts – light
Thu 22th Feb 2018 County Kilkenny
Nigel Borrington


The calm quiet strength of a tree – Tom Splitt

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Nature Photography
Nigel Borrington

The Tree

by Tom Splitt

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Anchored deep in the earth
Reaching high in the sky
The calm quiet strength of a tree

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Full of life from its roots
To the tiniest branch
The calm quiet strength of a tree

And oh, how it comforts me
How it teaches me
Without a sound
Then I realize at once
That this tree and I are one
In eternity

The calm quiet strength of a tree
From the weight of its trunk
To its delicate leaves
The calm quiet strength of a tree

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Showing anyone near
All the secrets of time
The calm quiet strength of a tree


Irish Landscape Images : The Hell Fire Club, Mount Pelier Hill

The Hell Fire Club
Mount Pelier Hill
County Dublin, Ireland
Irish Landscape Images
Nigel Borrington 2018

The Hell Fire Club on Mount Pelier Hill
William Conolly’s Hunting Lodge

The building now known as the Hell Fire Club was built around 1725 as a hunting lodge by William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. It was named Mount Pelier by Conolly but over the years has also been known as “The Haunted House”, “The Shooting Lodge”, “The Kennel”, and “Conolly’s Folly”. It was one of several exclusive establishments using the name Hellfire Club that existed in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century.

While the building has a rough appearance today, the architecture is of a Palladian design. The upper floor consists of a hall and two reception rooms. On the eastern side, there was a third, timber-floored, level where the sleeping quarters were located. On the ground floor is a kitchen, servants’ quarters and stairs to the upper floors. The entrance, which is on the upper floor, was reached by a long flight of stairs which is now missing. At each side of the building is a room with a lean-to roof which may have been used to stable horses. A stone mounting block to assist people onto their horses can be seen on the eastern side. To the front there was a semi-circular courtyard, enclosed by a low stone wall and entered by a gate.

View of Dublin port
From Mount Pelier Hill
Irish Landscape Images
Nigel Borrington 2018

The house faces to the north, looking over Dublin and the plains of Meath and Kildare, including Conolly’s primary residence at Castletown House in Celbridge. The grounds around the lodge consisted of a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2; 1.6 sq mi) deer park. The identity of the architect is unknown: the author Michael Fewer has suggested it may have been Edward Lovett Pearce (1699–1733) who was employed by Conolly to carry out works at Castletown in 1724.

There was a prehistoric burial site at the summit of Mount Pelier Hill and stones from it were used in the construction of the lodge. A nearby standing stone was also used for the lintel over the fireplace. Shortly after its completion, a great storm blew the original slate roof off. Local superstition held that this was the work of the Devil, an act of revenge for disturbing the ancient cairn. Conolly had the roof replaced with an arched stone roof constructed in a similar fashion to that of a bridge. This roof has remained intact to the present day, even though the building has been abandoned for over two centuries and despite the roof being set alight with tar barrels during the visit of Queen Victoria to Ireland in 1849. There is little evidence that the lodge was put to much use. Conolly himself died in 1729.


Black Bird Symbolism and Myths, Druid believes of the otherworld.

Blackbird Symbolism
Wildlife Photography
Nigel Borrington

Blackbird Symbolism

Blackbirds are, for some people, considered a good omen. Others believe that the Blackbird brings the lessons learned in meditation. It is also associated with travel to the Otherworld and the mysteries found there. Blackbird people are good to call upon when spiritual matters are at hand, and often, while rare, they are the best people to have when in a group.

The blackbirds iridescent black plumage holds the energies of mysticism and magic. Druid legends say that the birds of Rhiannan are 3 blackbirds which sit and sing in the World tree of other worlds. Their singing puts the listener into a sleep or a trance which enables him or her to travel to the otherworld. It was said to impart mystic secrets.

Those with this medicine often have a hypnotic influence on others as well as an uncanny ability to move between the seen and unseen worlds with clarity. They make excellent shamans and trance channellers.

Blackbirds are timid and prefer their own company over the company of others. In humans shyness and insecurity in group settings is common. Vulnerable to outside influences those with this totem need to remember to clear accumulated influences from their energy field on a regular basis. The male’s distinctive song during breeding season is loud and melodious with flute like qualities. Males often sing from high perches and both sexes produce a variety of sounds which include mimicking other birds.

Blackbird medicine people love to sing and have the ability use their voice to heal and inform. They are also good ventriloquists.

Blackbirds spend much of their time on the ground. Its locomotion includes walking, climbing and hopping forward and backwards. They forage for food in open spaces although cover is always near by. When foraging in leaf litter under trees they sound like people walking . In humans this suggests an ability to remain grounded in the earth energies while walking a spiritual path.

When resting the blackbird is frequently seen stretching, legs extended back, side wings in full extension, tail spread, and the head tilted to one side as if listening. Yoga and movement therapy are beneficial for those that hold this totem. The blackbirds flights are low, short and undulating but fast and direct over open country. They move with determination and focus and can teach us how to do the same.

When blackbird flies into your life your connection with nature and the forces of creation increase. The magic of the underworld surfaces in your life. Awareness is heightened and change on a cellular level begins. The blackbird teaches you how to acknowledge your power and use it to its fullest


The Day The Snow Finally Came By: Kathleen E. Sorensen

The Day the Snow came
Irish landscape Photography
Nigel Borrington

The Day The Snow Finally Came

© Kathleen E. Sorensen

Published: March 13, 2017

“It’s the middle of winter,” they would say,
But I just stared in dismay.
“How could it be winter without a blanket of snow?”
They said, “We do not know.”

I waited hours, I waited weeks,
Yet you could still see those mountain peaks.
“The snow will not come this year,” I thought.
Not a single dot.

I wanted to build a beast of a snowman this year
And sled down those snow hills with no fear.
Ski around the maze of trails with ease,
Seeing all the lovable white trees.

Then one day I saw something fall,
And it was so very small.
There were millions of them coming.
Oh, it was stunning!

The sun made the snow sparkle like glitter.
It was a real homerun hitter!
Today the snow will fall all day,
Leaving a path of fun on its way.

I immediately had chills run up my spine.
This is my heart’s sunshine.
I love the snow so very much,
And I ran outside to hear it crunch.


Monday Poetry : The Valley of Unrest By Edgar Allan Poe

The Valley of Unrest
By Edgar Allan Poe

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood

.

Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye—
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep:—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.


The Secrets of a Tree, Growing up to the Sky …….

The trees that Climb into the Sky
Landscape Art
Nigel Borrington

The Secrets of a Tree

Because they are primeval, because they outlive us, because they are fixed, trees seem to emanate a sense of permanence. And though rooted in earth, they seem to touch the sky. For these reasons it is natural to feel we might learn wisdom from them, to haunt about them with the idea that if we could only read their silent riddle rightly we should learn some secret vital to our own lives; or even, more specifically, some secret vital to our real, our lasting and spiritual existence. (Kim Taplin)