Some background Culture of Holly
Holly – more specifically the European holly, Ilex aquifolium – is commonly referenced at Christmas time, and is often referred to by the name Christ’s thorn. In many Western Christian cultures, holly is a traditional Christmas decoration, used especially in wreaths and illustrations, for instance on Christmas cards. Since medieval times the plant has carried a Christian symbolism, as expressed in the well-known Christian Christmas carol “The Holly and the Ivy”, in which the holly represents Jesus and the ivy represents the Virgin Mary. Angie Mostellar discusses the Christian use of holly at Christmas, stating that:
Christians have identified a wealth of symbolism in its form. The sharpness of the leaves help to recall the crown of thorns worn by Jesus; the red berries serve as a reminder of the drops of blood that were shed for salvation; and the shape of the leaves, which resemble flames, can serve to reveal God’s burning love for His people. Combined with the fact that holly maintains its bright colors during the Christmas season, it naturally came to be associated with the Christian holiday.
In heraldry, holly is used to symbolize truth. The Norwegian municipality of Stord has a yellow twig of holly in its Coat-of-arms.
The Druids held that “leaves of holly offered protection against evil spirits” and thus “wore holly in their hair”.
In the Harry Potter novels, holly is used as the wood in Harry’s wand.
In some Traditions of Wicca, the Holly King is one of the faces of the Sun God. He is born at Midsummer and rules from Mabon to Ostara
Reefort, Glendalough Monastic City, Glendalough
Glendalough has one of the biggest collections of Monastic remains in Europe, one of the most beautiful simply has to be Reefort church, located in the ancient woodlands above the lough this little chapel and is small grave yard are such a perfect reminder of an age that has long past us by.
The remains of Reefert Church are situated in a oak woodland setting, on the south-eastern shore of the Upper Lake close to an Information Office. Reefert derives its name from the Irish ‘Righ Fearta’ meaning burial place of the kings (referring to the local rulers – the O’Toole family). It dates from the eleventh century and is likely to have been built on the site of an earlier church. The church and graveyard were originally surrounded by a stone wall enclosure known in Gaelic as a ‘caiseal’. Most of the present surrounding walls however are modern. The upper parts of the church walls were re-built over 100 years ago using the original stones.
A New Start. – Poem by Bernard Shaw
I have wiped the slate clean,
No more reminders from the past.
Memories of what I have been,
Have vanished at long last.
I look forward to my future new,
Where all is territory strange.
Soon I will be among the few,
That plans their life at long range.
I see my life laid out at my feet,
New friends shall rally at my call.
They will be the first I will greet,
At this my welcoming ball.
Soon all memories will depart,
Of a past left well behind.
I will get off to a new start,
With the best of mankind.
The Spink and the Wicklow Mountains National Park
Back in the 6th century, hermit monk Saint Kevin first sought solace and contemplation in the idyllic surroundings of Glendalough. His followers established a monastery here, which would become one of the most important monastic sites in Europe. The focal point was the 33m high round tower, where the monks could hide away, keen to keep their precious manuscripts from the hands of invading Vikings.
The Glendalough Valley is now part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Established in 1991, it now extends to more than 170sq km. Only an hour’s drive from Dublin city, there is a vast array of routes at all levels of difficulty. But Glendalough is best explored on the Spink and Glenealo Valley Route, a high quality loop walk with excellent waymarking and a well-maintained trail.
Back at the Visitor Centre there are refreshments available in the restaurant, or you might want to head for the nearby village of Laragh with its restaurants and pubs. Laragh also makes a great base for further exploration of the surrounding mountains. Experienced walkers might want to climb Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in Wicklow, while those in pursuit of more leisurely walks can explore historic Glenmalure or the scenic area around Lough Dan.
Slightly further north is the village of Roundwood, with its thriving Sunday market. Further north still the beautiful formal gardens of the Powerscourt Estate lie in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain. Don’t miss Powerscourt Waterfall close by, at 130m the highest waterfall in Ireland or Britain. The cascade is impressive at any time of year, but especially dramatic after rain.
The Spink, Wicklow Mountains National Park, Gallery
Crossing The Bar – Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have cross the bar.
This week I am going to dedicate a lot of my posts to one of the most amazing landscape locations in Ireland, Glendaloughin, County Wicklow. Over the weekend we spent sometime there and loved it very much. Its a perfect location for walking relaxing and taking in the amazing views.
This is such a great location I feel I should take a little time to share its history and some of the pictures I captures from this weekend.
William Cullen Bryant, 1794 – 1878
Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.
F: Géranium Herbe à Robert
Geranium robertianum grows spontaneous and abundantly in many gardens. Some people keep wondering about its edibility, since there is not much to be found about it in books on edible wild plants. Its less than appealing taste seems to be at least partly responsible for its absence in culinary creations. In survival situations, where one would need to live on what’s available, this plant could be a real asset, since it is rich in essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, etc. It is also rich in the element germanium, which has antioxidant activity, helps to strengthen the immune system and is essential to providing energy and oxygen to the cells.