Archangel Oracle Cards.

The Archangel Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue was one of the first angel card decks I brought for Husband when he became seriously interested in angels. It was the first deck he really gelled with, and he uses it a fair bit. It’s published by Hay House and it’s American RRP is $15:99. In the UK you can pick it up for around £14:99, or £13:49 from the Hay House website (https://www.hayhouse.co.uk/archangel-oracle-cards)

The deck consists of 45 cards illustrated by various artists, a little guidebook explaining how to use and interpret the cards, and a box to keep it all in. The whole thing is fairly straightforward and no studying is really required, unlike with tarot. You don’t even *have* to read the guidebook – each card has the essential meaning printed underneath the illustration as if the featured Archangel were speaking directly to you – for example; ‘Prosperity. Archangel Ariel: “Your material needs are provided as you follow your intuition and manifest your dreams into reality.”‘ Husband basically just picked them up and began.

It is an essentially Christian deck – as well as angels it talks of God (singular) and Heaven. So I chafe with it somewhat. Also, some of the messages are…all a bit love’n’ light for me (my personal least favorite is ‘Love is the only power that exists, and its light shines away any seeming darkness.’ Uuuuuuuurgh). However, Husband likes what he sees as the helpful and uplifting messages. He finds that they’re positive yet grounded in reality and not ‘airy-fairy’ (his words lol). He also likes the artwork, and seems able to overlook the monotheism. So it all depends on your outlook as to how well you will get along with this deck.

If you use this deck, have any thoughts you wanted to add or any questions you wanted to ask, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

archangel

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Easter Egg Review 2018.

Sorry this took me so long to publish! I just…I don’t really have an excuse. Except tiredness! Anyway, I was lucky enough to get three eggs again this year 🙂 All from Moo Free.

Moo Free specialize in ‘free from’ chocolates – everything they produce is free from dairy, gluten, soya, wheat, lactose and casein, suitable for vegans and organic (!). It’s all produced in a dedicated  factory, so there can be no cross-contamination. They make sure that none of their factory waste goes to landfill, recycling when possible or using waste for things like zero carbon energy generation. All their packaging is recyclable or bio-degradable, but they do use plastic in their packaging, so…Meh. They also are not Fairtrade certified, or certified by any similar body as far as I can tell. They cite that their products are ethically sourced, but I haven’t seen any information more specific than that, so I’m not sure exactly what they mean by it. However, they do use organic products 🙂

Awesomely, there is no gender-based pay gap at Moo Free – people doing the same job at the same level get the same money. Radical! And Moo Free put on MooFest every year, which is like a festival for employees and their families. Around 20% of their workforce consists of people with autism – Moo Free are working alongside a local charity (the website doesn’t say which) so that these people can be employed and do well. They’re also putting into the local community – they’ve paid for kits for Bude Ladies and Bude Boys football teams, and contribute towards St Peter’s Fair, improvements to the local sports and community pavilion, and provision of free WiFi in the local town square.

To find out more about Moo Free, their website is at  https://www.moofreechocolates.com/.

(P.S. Was also somewhat fascinated by this page; https://www.moofreechocolates.com/en/info/moo-free-characters. I didn’t know that Hammy Hamster and Mikey Bunny were married! Perhaps this is why they’re so keen to promote equality at Moo Free. I imagine this was a controversial match in the more conservative quarters of the hamster and bunny communities.)

 

Moo Free Easter Bunnycomb Egg.

Husband and I both got these 110g eggs. They’re ‘milk’ chocolate with ‘honey’comb pieces mixed in. I thought they were about right; Husband thought they needed more ‘bunnycomb’. Also, the bunnycomb in Husband’s eggs kinda clumped together, so there were bits with lots of bunnycomb and then bits with no bunnycomb and only a very thin layer of chocolate. I don’t think this stopped him from enjoying them though, as he ate two of them! Also, they smell fantastic (as did all the eggs; a proper chocolate smell. They are like regular milk chocolate…as far as I can recall, anyway lol. It’s been a while since I actually ate any).

 

Moo Free Organic Cheeky Orange Egg.

Also 110g, this was a really nice egg that tasted of orange as well as just smelling like orange (I can’t remember which company it was now – a supermarket own-brand, I think – but not long after I went vegan I tried an orange chocolate bar that smelt great…but barely even tasted of chocolate, never mind orange). Husband also tried some of this egg and thought it was good.

 

Moo Free Art Collection Caramelised Hazelnut Nibs Egg.

I liked this egg because it’s actually marketed towards adults instead of children lol. It’s also bigger, at 160g. The Art Collection is a new, limited-edition idea from Moo Free that features artwork from up-and-coming artists on the box, to support them and help them to gain recognition. This egg features Determination 1 by digital artist Carlamaria Jackson, which celebrates female boxers and the power of women. You can find out more about Carlamaria Jackson at her website,  http://www.carlamariajackson.com/. The egg itself was good – I thought the almond nibs being caramelised might make the whole thing super-sweet but actually it was fine; if anything the caramel-ness didn’t come through enough. The only small fault with this egg was that it hit the same problem as Husband’s bunnycomb eggs, only more so – there were two big clumps of hazelnut nibs, then gaps of very thin chocolate (as in; holes in the egg) with no nibs at all. I definitely enjoyed the egg and would get it again, but I think this did put the ratio of chocolate to nibs out of balance.

 

Finally, I should mention  https://www.dairyfreechocolates.com/, who sell Moo Free chocolates online. We ordered some of our eggs from them and they arrived in good time and in perfect condition. They do monthly deals and even sell off broken chocolate at a big discount – I wish I was not on a diet lol.

If you’ve tried any of these eggs yourself, or have any questions, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

chocolate egg

Earth Day Prayer.

This Earth Day we celebrate You, Lady Jörð.

We rely on You for so much – the food we eat, the fuel we burn, fabric for our clothes and homes, wood that we carve or pulp into paper, the clay from which we fashion so many things, the metals we find endless uses for, the ground upon which we walk.

Despite all this, we are not treating You well. This Earth Day our focus is on plastic.

We pledge to do more to stop using plastic, to ask the companies we buy from to stop using plastic, to re-use and recycle and any plastic that we do use, to remove plastic litter we see in the environment, and to let others know about the problem of plastic.

Thank You so much for all that You do. Please help us to know how to be better to You.

jord

Earth Day.

This Sunday is Earth Day; a global event that takes place on the 22nd of April every year, where people take action to protect the planet. To us, it seemed like a really appropriate opportunity to celebrate Jörð – preferably by doing something to help sort out the total mess we’ve made for Her.

Earth Day’s 2018 campaign is End Plastic Pollution. Since Blue Planet came out, I think a lot of people have had their eyes opened to the extent of the plastic problem that we’ve created on this planet. I know I was really shocked when I watched A Plastic Ocean, back when we had Netflix (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57jv8vBIUHI or I’m pretty sure it’s still on Netflix if you have it).

Husband and I had been trying to reduce waste already, but Earth Day seems like a good chance to really focus in on it. I began by reading their Plastic Pollution Primer (http://www.earthday.org/wp-content/uploads/Plastic-Pollution-Primer-and-Action-Toolkit.pdf). This has a lot of good information, and *heaps* of links to even more information – including videos if reading is difficult for you. It also lets you roughly calculate your plastic pollution footprint and takes you step-by-step through ways to reduce it – Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle and Remove. It provides a concrete way to plan and to track your progress. You can print out the whole thing, or just pages 24, 29, 33, 37, 43, 47, 49, 51 and 52. (If you want to make a start but all this sounds like waaaaay too much right now, I suggest taking a look at this;  https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/looking-to-reduce-your-waste-start-with-the-big-four. Just four basic, do-able things that will make a real difference).

You can also calculate your plastic pollution footprint and make a pledge to reduce it at  https://www.earthday.org/plastic-calculator/. Between us, it looks like Husband and I throw away something in the region on 4,680 single-use plastic items every year (who knew cigarette butts contain plastic?! And we get through something like 3,650 a year). That took me by surprise, considering that we’ve stopped using plastic shopping bags, toothbrushes, razors, cotton wool buds and drinks bottles. Our main problem appears to be (surprise, surprise) food packaging.

I’ve been really frustrated with our attempts to reduce waste when it comes to food packaging – well, packaging in general, really. I know where I *can* get most things without packaging (or not in plastic packaging, at least), but we’re constantly boxed in by lack of transport or lack of funds. Lack of funds is definitely the most serious hindrance we face, and I’m sure a lot of others out there must be caught up in the same problem.

So what I’ve started to make myself do is write to companies I buy from asking them to change the way they package their products. I had a lot of anxiety about it at first, but it’s getting easier. Often I just don’t get an answer, but I know that for every letter a company receives, they count it as representing the views of a certain number of other customers (I think the exact amount changes depending on the type and size of the company), so I don’t feel like it’s pointless. It certainly beats doing nothing at all. The more letters (emails, Facebook messages/comments, Tweets, etc) they receive, the more likely they are to pay attention – especially if you can say that you are a customer of theirs, that you are actively looking for better options, and that you would switch to whichever company in your price range is willing to offer them. I also make sure to write in support when a company makes a more positive decision. For Earth Day, I’m going to get organised and write up a list of companies I need to contact.

The other thing I need to make myself do is pick up litter. I freak out at the idea of touching it, though. I’m not particularly prissy in other areas of life – I spent half my childhood playing with frogs and caterpillars, ffs! I will stick my arms elbow-deep into a pond, but I will not touch a discarded Coke bottle lol. Husband and I brought a pair of those sticks with grabbers at the end a while back so that we could pick up litter with them, but they remain unused. I’m edgy about people seeing me litter-pick. I don’t know why – I’m open about being trans, I’ll hold Husband’s hand in public, I don’t try to hide my self-harm scars, I am in general not bothered – but for some reason I keep making excuses not to go clear up trash (it’s cold, I’m tired, I’ve lost the grabbers, etc), and I know that it’s because I don’t want people to see me do it. I need to have a word with myself lol.

So for Earth Day I’ve signed up to receive emails from the Earth Day Network, learnt more about plastic pollution and signed a pledge to reduce my contribution to it, signed the petition (https://www.earthday.org/end-plastic-pollution-petition/) and decided to get organised, make a plan and challenge myself more.

I’m also going to bake, since that seems to be my main purpose in life lol. Jörð chose to have banana and walnut loaf – I follow this recipe (https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/apple-walnut-breakfast-bread/#gs.OzZtFL0. I won’t be wrapping individual slices in plastic wrap though lol), but use two mashed bananas in place of the apple sauce. Apples used to make me kinda unwell so I stopped using them to bake with, though happily I seem fine with them now. Which is great, because I badly need to go on a diet lol. We’re also going to watch nature documentaries – I’m thinking The Private Life of Plants? – and decorate the portable altar with leaves and flowers from the garden. If we have the energy we’ll go for a walk (it’s Leicester Vegan Festival on Saturday though, so I dunno how much energy we’ll have left lol), and if I have time I’ll start following up some of those links in the Plastic Pollution Primer.

It would be great to hear you questions or thoughts, or any plans for Earth Day that you have 🙂

If you want to know more about Earth Day, their website is https://www.earthday.org/.

earth day

Bead Prayers.

MORNING PRAYERS.

Sunstone; As my day begins, I thank and praise Dagr and Skinfaxi, Sól, Arvakr and Alsviðr, for blessing us with Your Divine presence once more.

Petrified wood; I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of the Earth, the stable ground we walk on.

Clear fluorite; I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of Air, filling our lungs with vital oxygen.

Red and gold plastic (?); I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of Fire, our source of warmth and survival.

Shell; I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of Water, so vital for our lives.

Jet and dyed howlite skull; I thank and praise our Ancestors; those who learnt and taught, those who gave us our physical bodies, those who passed on to us the torch of survival. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become a worthy descendant.

Blue lace agate; I thank and praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Who watch over my husband and many in my family. I am grateful and will not forget you.

Lava rock and carnelian; I love You, Loki; healer of minds, shapeshifter, beloved kin. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy devotee.

Rose quartz and sunstone; I love You, Lady Sigyn; nurturer, survivor, Lady of Victory. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy devotee.

Black bone and white plastic (?) skull; I love You, Lady Hel; Lady of Death, Midwife of Life, true compassion. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy son.

Jet and lapis lazuli; I thank and praise Raven; light-bringer, mischief-maker, teacher. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy student.

Silver leaf jasper and labradorite; I love You, Tiger; teacher, protector, King. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy student.

Brown bone and sunstone; I thank and praise the Stag King; worthy ruler, breath of fertility, healer. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy student.

Moonstone and golden plastic (?) star; I love you, Ella; Lady of the snow, gentle spirit, valued friend. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become worthy of your friendship.

White marble and pink glass; I thank and praise Mel; bright spirit, constant friend, adventurer. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become worthy of your friendship.

Clear plastic and plastic faux ruby; I thank and praise Old Lady Toad; wise herbalist, venom-skin, rattle. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become a worthy student.

White bone and black clay; I thank and praise Mama Xōlō; wise one, ancient one, mankind’s helper. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become a worthy student.

Gold sheen obsidian and iron pyrite; I thank and praise Xōlō; pathfinder, joyful spirit, guardian of the hearth. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become worthy of your friendship.

Lapis lazuli and jet; I thank and praise Óðinn; poet, wisdom-seeker, wanderer. I will endeavour to learn from You, to honour You, and to become a worthy student.

Gold sheen obsidian and moonstone; I thank and praise Vampire Bat; keeper of secrets, teacher of secrets, friend. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, to become a worthy student.

White marble and moonstone; I thank and praise the Pale Axolotl; healer, mother, Queen. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become a worthy student.

Gold sheen obsidian; I thank and praise the Dark Axolotl; youthful one, playful spirit, creature of Xolotl. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become a worthy student.

Iron pyrite and lapis lazuli; I thank and praise King Solomon; wise Monarch, pious devotee, wisdom-seeker. I will endeavour to learn from you, to honour you, and to become a worthy student.

Dyed howlite skull; Lady Hel, please help me to see clear and far.

Clear quartz; Loki, please help me to know myself clearly.

White bone; Lady Angrboða, please help me to embrace diversity.

Labradorite; Jörmungandr, please help me to accept my own liminality.

Rose quartz; Lady Sigyn, please help me to never waver in my loyalty to those I love.

Rose quartz; Lady Gerðr, please help me to negotiate problems peacefully.

Moss agate; Lady Jörð, please help me to protect this Earth.

Clear plastic; Níðhöggr, please help me to be less wasteful.

Iron pyrite; Ægir, please help me to be more generous.

Red and gold plastic (?); Surtr, please help me to live my life with passion.

Black bone; Fenrir, please help me to stand square with my shadows.

Gold sheen obsidian; Lady Móðguðr, please help me to have self-control.

White bone; Nornir, please help me to have the dedication I need.

Jet; I thank and praise Máni, Nótt and Hrímfaxi, for the darkness and rest You brought to us last night.

 

EVENING PRAYERS.

As my day ends, I thank and praise Nótt, Hrímfaxi and Máni, for blessing us with Your divine presence once more.

Nornir, please help me to keep my focus and resolve.

Lady Móðguðr, please help me to control myself without hurting myself.

Fenrir, please help me to understand the darkness.

Surtr, please help me to break down my fear of intensity.

Ægir, please help me to learn greater hospitality.

Níðhöggr, please help me to work closer to being zero-waste.

Lady Jörð, please help me to become more and more in tune with the Earth and Nature.

Lady Gerðr, please help me to remain peaceful even when I am angry.

Lady Sigyn, please help me to be loyal to who I am.

Jörmungandr, please help me to understand the mysteries of liminality.

Lady Angrboða, please help me to understand those who are different to myself.

Loki, please help me to be honest with myself.

Lady Hel, please help me to think ahead before I react.

I thank and praise King Solomon; diviner, magician, philosopher. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise the Dark Axolotl; healer, survivor, teacher. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise the Pale Axolotl; creative spirit, gentle Lady, boundary-keeper. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Vampire Bat; underground spirit, sky spirit, father of many. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Óðinn; the warrior, the hunger, the raging madness. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Xōlōitzcuintli; dog of Xolotl, companion of the dead, dark guide. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Mama Xōlōitzcuintli; psychopomp, triple-headed guardian, protective mother. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Old Lady Toad; jewel-keeper, trance-maker, witch. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Mel; travelling companion, pathfinder, joyful spirit. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I love you, Ella; sky-racer, star-dancer, bloodstained beauty. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise the Stag King; spirit of death, spirit of life, forest God. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I love You, Harimau Belang, untameable soul, sorcerer, killer. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Raven; unhappy child, trickster, paradox. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I love You, Lady Hel; rotting Goddess, ancient Queen, Mother. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I love You, Lady Sigyn; loyal wife, innocent child, foundation stone. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I love You, Loki; tangle of thread, Gammleið, Lóðurr. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise Yeshua and Your family; God of my childhood and of my recent Ancestors. I am grateful and will not forget You.

I thank and praise our Ancestors; those who watch over us, those we knew in life and those we did not, both recent and distant. I will endeavour to listen, to learn, to improve.

I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of Water, the womb of all life.

I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of Fire, creation and destruction.

I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of Air, communication and thought.

I thank and praise the Deities and the Spirits of the Earth, providers of nourishment and abundance.

I thank and praise Sól, Arvakr and Alsviðr, Dagr and Skinfaxi, for the light, warmth and vitality You brought to us today.

 

QUICK PRAYERS.

Dagr and Skinfaxi, Sól, Arvakr and Alsviðr, thank You for turning.

I connect to the Earth.

I connect to the Air.

I connect to the Fire.

I connect to the Water.

Ancestors, thank you for life.

Yeshua, thank You for watching over my kin.

Loki, thank You for making me who I am.

Sigyn, thank You for teaching me strength.

Hel, thank You for being my Mother.

Raven, thank You for making me face who I am.

Tiger, thank You for Your friendship.

Stag King, thank you for teaching me.

Ella, thank you for guiding me.

Mel, thank you for being with me.

Old Lady Toad, thank you for your gifts.

Mama Xōlō, thank you for your wisdom.

Xōlō, thank you for leading me where I need to go.

Óðinn, thank You for confusing the fuck out of me and adding an interesting level of ambiguity into my devotional life.

Vampire Bat, thank you for showing me the ugliest beauty.

Pale Axolotl, thank you for helping me to heal.

Dark Axolotl, thank you for showing me simple happiness.

King Solomon, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Vision

Self-knowledge

Diversity

Liminality

Loyalty

Frithmaking

Earthwisdom

Recycling

Hospitality

Intensity

Shadow

Self-control

Dedication

Nótt, Hrímfaxi and Máni, thank You for turning.

Prayer Bead Upgrade.

A few years back, I made myself a set of prayer beads. It was fine, but I’ve met a lot of new P/people since then! So (for the second time – this is actually upgrade #3), I cut my creation up into tiny little pieces and made something new. Witness the transformation;

(Sorry; I’m sure I took a picture of prayer beads mk2, but I can’t find it anywhere.)

As you can see, a lot of beads have been added lol. To make my first set, I used semi-precious stone and glass beads (and one plastic skull) strung on clear plastic jewelry wire. Because I didn’t have enough beads to actually get my necklace around my neck, but too many beads to make a bracelet, I used embroidery thread to braid a kumihimo back that I could open and close with a loop of beading wire and a little metal clasp (thinking ahead, I made it the right size to use as a bracelet later). To be honest, I didn’t make a good job of it and it looked kind of messy.

I decided to organize the beads by assigning each Deity and Spirit an element, then marking out the segments with colored seed beads – green for Earth, clear for Air, red for Fire and blue for Water. I didn’t feel totally happy with that, though – I felt like a lot of P/people corresponded to more than one element. I liked the theory, but in practice I felt awkward tryna put T/them all in boxes. At the time, I couldn’t think of a better way to arrange the beads.

Once it was all made, I did a somewhat lengthy sort of prayer/ritual, cleansing the necklace and asking for E/everyone to bless Their beads. I’d like to do something similar with my new set, since I’ve made a lot of changes, but I’ve not got around to figuring that out yet.

By the time I needed to upgrade, I’d begun to learn that plastic was not so awesome and I was working on ways to use less of it. So I decided to ditch the seed beads and knot the gemstone beads onto green embroidery thread. The little knots actually do a better job of separating the beads than the seed beads did, as I found that some of the gemstone beads – jet, for example – was being worn away by the glass. It does make creating the necklace into a considerably longer job, though. I was also able to do a neater – though not exactly perfect – job on the clasp, and dropped the element idea for simply adding Deities and Spirits on in the date I met T/them (in this lifetime, to the best of my knowledge…) This way it lines up with the order of my devotional schedule.

My newest incarnation of my prayer beads is so much longer because I’ve decided to include prayers to the Elements at the beginning and prayers based on the Rökkatru Ethics and Values, which have always struck a chord with me, at the end (http://www.northernpaganism.org/rokkatru/rokkatru-ethics.html). I like that it’s now long enough not to need the kumihimo back – this way I can begin praying at one end and work my way right around to the beginning again. Also, I don’t have to feel constantly annoyed by my own lack of neatness in jewelry-making if I don’t have a clasp lol. I decided to finish it off with a bead and a tassel because…it was the easiest cheap way to make a finish that looked good. Embroidery thread isn’t ideal for tassels, though – it kind of sticks to itself. When time for my fourth set of beads comes around, I’m going to look into being able to make something better.

My challenge this time has been that, not only do I now know a lot more about plastic, I know more about gemstone beads (which I wrote about here; https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/ethical-prayer-beads/). I brought *heaps* of crystal beads back when I first started making prayer bead sets, so I’m continuing to use those, alongside beads I picked up years ago when I was into crafts, beads I find in charity shops and even some beads from a necklace that broke at work. I was worried that this hodge-podge of styles and sizes was going to look atrocious, but actually it looks ok, in a hippy-backpacking-through-Cambodia sort of way. I can work it ’cause I’m fabulous.

My beads begin with a single sunstone bead for Dagr, Skinfaxi, Sól, Arvakr and Alsviðr, then on to petrified wood for Earth, clear fluorite for Air, a red and gold charity-shop find for Fire and a shell for Water. After that, I gave E/everyone three beads – two of one type and the third different. I tried to meditate or journey to find out what E/everyone wanted. Once I reached the Rökkatru Ethics and Values I went back to one bead per value, and then the set finishes with a jet bead for Nótt, Hrímfaxi and Máni. In the morning I begin with the sunstone bead and work around to the jet bead, and in the evening I begin with the jet bead and work my way around in the opposite direction.

I’ve tried to make the most out of my beads by having more than one set of prayers I can say with them. So far I have Morning Prayers, Evening Prayers and Quick Prayers, and I’d like to come up  with more – if I can ever find the time; there are 74 beads on my set now! For the Morning and Evening Prayers, each bead means either one sentence or, for the central bead out of three, a prompt to take a moment to be silent and see if I can tune in to W/whoever I’m praying to. For the Quick Prayers, I basically ignore the first and third bead out of three and just pray on the center bead.

I’m going to post all the prayers in my next post – there are a lot of them, and this post is too long already! I wasn’t sure about posting them at all, but I found it helpful to see what prayers other people used when I was first writing mine, so I figured I’d post them in case someone finds them useful. I wrote most of them by writing six descriptions of W/whoever the prayer is for, and after that it’s not hard to make a short prayer based on threes – the Deity or Spirit’s name, three…’praiseful descriptions’, I suppose you could call it…and then three things I’m aiming for in my relationship with T/them. Example; ‘I give You my love, Loki; (1) healer of minds, (2) shapeshifter, (3) beloved kin. I will endeavour (1) to learn from You, (2) to honour You, and (3) to become a worthy devotee’. For the Morning Prayers, I aimed to use the somewhat ‘lighter’ descriptions; I saved relatively ‘darker’ or less obvious descriptions for the evening prayers. So in the morning I have ‘I give You my love, Tiger; teacher, protector, King’ and in the evening I have ‘I give You my love, Tiger; untameable soul, sorcerer, killer’.

And we’re done. I hope that someone somewhere out there actually finds this useful at some point lol. If you have any thoughts or questions, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

A Dictionary of English Folklore.

Last month I began a course in counselling skills…and so the first book I borrowed from the college library was, of course, about folklore lol. This book is written by Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud, published by Oxford University Press, and a new copy will cost you something like £15:50/$21:60 (for a paperback).

This is an a-z dictionary – from Abbots Inn, Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and Abbotsbury garland day to yew, Yorkshire Dialect Society and Yule (so…a-y, really). I wanted to read this because it focuses in on *English* folklore. I am interested in Welsh, Scottish and Irish traditions, but I would really like to learn more about the cultural history of where I actually live – I’m sure many of you guys have noticed that it’s a lot easier to find information on pretty much any part of Great Britain other than England.

Another interesting thing about this book is that it includes really recent and even current folklore – quotes from the 1950s, entries on urban legends and ‘xerox lore’. To my slight disappointment, nothing much reaches back further than the Middle Ages. In fact, if you’re more used to reading pagan books, you may find this book quite surprising – Simpson and Roud totally disagree with the idea of ancient, pre-Christian ideas living on in folkloric memory. Make of this what you will – whether you agree or not, I think there is interesting information in this book, and there’s nothing to stop you from researching elsewhere and making up your own mind (alternatively, you may find it a refreshing break from unscholarly wishful thinking). It also includes entries on leading figures in the collection/revival of folklore, folk music and folk dance, journals on folklore, groups for things like morris dancing and folk music, and an extensive bibliography.

My only real complaint about this book is that the Punch on the front cover looks like it might be possessed by the Devil. That puppet will kill you in your sleep :/

If you’ve also read the book, or have any questions, it would be great to hear from you 🙂

green man

Simple Spinach and Chickpea Wraps.

A fast, filling meal after a hard day of getting your credit card declined lol. It’s also a good way to use up spinach before it goes off.

  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • Several handfuls of spinach
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I usually use sunflower or olive – garlic-infused olive oil also works)
  • 1 generous tablespoon peanut butter (I like to use crunchy)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Spice to taste (I tend to use garam masala and maybe some chilli flakes, but it’s also good with a little bit of Thai curry paste)
  • Wraps, pitta breads or sandwich bread

Start by mixing together the peanut butter, soy sauce and, if you’re using any, the spices.

Drain the chickpeas and chop the spinach.

Fry the chickpeas and spinach in the oil until the spinach begins to wilt.

Once the spinach is wilting, stir through your peanut butter mix. A lot of stirring is involved at this point lol.

Once the chickpeas and spinach are all coated with the peanut butter mix, simply whack it into wraps or pitta breads and enjoy. We’ve also eaten this in sandwiches; if you’re doing that, it works out better to chop the spinach up fairly small and kinda crush the chickpeas up a bit.

These are fine just as they are, especially if you’re tired and want a quick dinner. They’re also nice with some lettuce and tomatoes, and/or mayonnaise.

Ecoffee Cups.

I’m sure I won’t be telling you anything new if I say that disposable, single-use cups are a serious ecological problem (more than 100 BILLION go to landfill…EVERY YEAR). Happily, it’s super-easy to find reusable cups these days – in a variety of materials, at a range of prices. A quick look on Amazon to get a rough idea of prices showed me plastic cups by Zizzi at £3:14 at one end of the scale, to glass mugs by JOCO at an eye-watering £108:17 (£108:17!) at the other. You can also get them made in stainless steel, ceramic, bamboo or cork – and probably other materials too, but this is what I’ve seen so far.

Where I volunteer, we sell Ecoffee Cups. These are made from organic bamboo (roughly 60%), non-GMO corn starch (about 20%) and resin (also about 20%), with silicone lids and sleeves. No plastic, and also no latex. The cheapest are the 250ml cups at £7:95, and the at the top of the price range are the 400ml limited-edition patterns at £12:95.

Bamboo is popular as a sustainable material – you’ve likely seen clothes advertising that they’re made of bamboo – because it grows very quickly. It doesn’t need fertilizer or chemicals and it also doesn’t need to be re-planted after harvesting because, as a grass, it re-grows from it’s own roots. The roots remaining intact helps to prevent soil erosion, as they bind the soil. Like other grasses, it grows very densely, and so far more bamboo can be grown on a piece of land than you could grow, say, trees. They also generate more oxygen than trees, absorb more carbon dioxide, and are about twice as water-efficient.

Bamboo is naturally sterile, and a few people now have mentioned to me that, unlike with plastic, bamboo Ecoffee Cups don’t give hot drinks a funny taste. Also unlike most plastic cups, Ecoffee Cups are free from BPAs and phthalates. The whole thing is safe for the dishwasher – you need to take the sleeve and lid off the cup, but they can go in the dishwasher too. You shouldn’t put it in the microwave, though. They’re very light – to be honest, the first time I washed one (the dishwasher in our house is me) I was kind of nervous I would break it; they seem so thin, almost flimsy! But they must be strong, because if they weren’t then Husband would have broken his by now lol. The first re-usable mug I brought for him was ceramic, and…well, it didn’t live for very long. Being so light, they’d be good to just throw in your bag, though they’re not indestructible – try not to sit on it or anything.

The bamboo Ecoffee Cups use is from Anji County in Zhejiang, China. It’s one of the oldest sustainably-managed forests in the world, and 10,000 families rely on the income from farming the native phyllostachys pubescens bamboo (get me – long words!). The bamboo destined to become an Ecoffee Cup is dried in the sun and processed without chemicals, then ground up into a pulp. The corn starch and resin are added to make a sort of dough, which is turned into cups using heat-press moulds. The entire process happens as Ecoffee Cups’ factory, so there’s no shipping bits and pieces or raw materials across the globe. The factory is checked and has current SEDEX (https://www.sedexglobal.com/) and BSCI (http://www.amfori.org/content/what-we-do-0) audits in place.

The lid is no-drip, but not watertight – so you can carry it around and it won’t splash, but you can’t throw it in your bag. Also, the silicone sleeve will protect your hand, but these mugs aren’t thermally insulated. They’re designed to replace single-use coffee cups rather than to be like thermal drinks flasks. You can buy replacement lids and sleeves from their website, and some high-street retailers also sell them.

I love that Ecoffee Cups use *no plastic whatsoever* in their packaging – they come in cardboard boxes. The cup itself can also be composted – once you’ve had it for ages and ages and it’s finally too beat-up and battered to use, you crush it down, soak it in boiling water and then, once it’s cool, stick it on your compost heap. The silicone can be recycled, and they’re working on making it biodegradable like the rest of the mug. I’m excited for when they get the hang of that!

I also like that they come in a massive range of patterns and colors. It’s hard to pick, but I think my favorites are Blackthorn (https://ecoffeecup.eco/shop/blackthorn-william-morris-12oz-340ml/) and Seaweed Marine (https://ecoffeecup.eco/shop/seaweed-marine-william-morris-12oz-340ml/) from the William Morris range, Milperra Mutha (https://ecoffeecup.eco/shop/milperra-mutha-14oz-400ml/) and Kerr & Napier (https://ecoffeecup.eco/shop/kerr-napier-14oz-400ml/). Yes, my favorite colors are black and green lol. Husband has ZignZag (https://ecoffeecup.eco/shop/zignzag-14oz-400ml/).

The William Morris range that I mentioned above recently won an Association for Cultural Enterprises award – Best Licensed Product Under £1m. You can read about the award here (https://acenterprises.org.uk/ace-best-product-awards-2018-winners) and see the cups here (https://ecoffeecup.eco/william-morris/).

As well as the William Morris collection, Ecoffee Cups have teamed up with The Waterfall Project to create three 340ml cups featuring artwork from the Coffee Art Project. The Coffee Art Project is a competition where artists can contribute any kind of art they want – painting, sculpture, photography, anything – so long as it’s about coffee. This supports artists by giving them a place to display their work, and also raises money for Project Waterfall. Their website is  http://www.coffeeartproject.com/. Project Waterfall is a charity that brings sustainable, safe drinking water and sanitation to coffee-growing communities in Nicaragua, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Vietnam. You can read more at  http://www.projectwaterfall.org/, and see the cups at  https://ecoffeecup.eco/project-waterfall-ecoffee-cup/

The main point of Ecoffee Cups is, of course, to end the use of single-use coffee cups. I know you guys are all pretty aware, but you may not have heard of Ecoffee Cups’  #stopthe100billion social media campaign. If you’d like to get involved with that, you can read more about it here – (https://ecoffeecup.eco/stopthe100billion/). No excuse for single use!

Lastly, I’d just like to add that their customer service is really good. When I wrote to them asking for information, they replied quickly and were really helpful.

If you have an Ecoffee Cup, or if you have any questions or comments, let me know what you think 😀

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