Remembrance Sunday prayer + repost of ‘Why I wear a poppy’

Northern Tamarisk

On this Remembrance Sunday
I wear my Poppy to remember the fallen,
To remember my family and Ancestors Who fought and gave their lives
And hearts for freedom.
I remember those who fought
To maintain the liberties
Of their families and people,
And I honour them for their sacrifice.
May they now know peace,
May they be remembered.
May the freedom we have
Because of them
Never be taken for granted.

(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2017

You can also read my piece from last year because I feel it’s still relevant:
Full article link:Why I wear a poppy

I do not celebrate war, in fact I hope continually for the end of conflict the world over. The reason I wear the poppy is to remember people like my Grandad George, who was in the RAF and an air traffic controller in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, my Great Aunty Margaret, who…

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Samhain Prayer.

We ask You to be with us, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, so that together we can all celebrate Samhain.

The light half of the year is over, and once again we enter the darkness.

Thank You, Lady Hel, Queen of the dead; You are the one Who walks by our side into the darkness, and You are the darkness we walk into.

Thank you, all of our Ancestors; all you who we can recall and all you who we have not knowingly met.

Thank you for all you have passed down to us; the stories you told, the beliefs you held,

The weaknesses and strengths of your bodies and your hearts; all these things and more have built the people who stand before you today.

We thank You, kind Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, for watching over us at this time.

Please bless all those who walk the Hel-Road tonight; guide all souls safely to their next incarnations.

Please bless all those who are mourning the loss of someone they love; guide them back to the lives they must be living now.

Please bless (names), all those people in our lives who have gone on ahead of us. May they have happiness and peace, and know that we are still thinking of them. All are welcome here, today and every day.

Thank You all for hearing our prayer. May You in turn be blessed and joyful in Your lives (and accept these offerings of…)

Cheap ‘n’ Cheerful Oat Bread.

I made this bread today from stuff I already had in my kitchen, and decided I’d share it if it turned out well, since (in England, anyway) prices for things are climbing and wages aren’t joining them. A cheap, store-cupboard bread recipe is a useful thing. With very little effort from you (slightly more effort if you don’t have a breadmaker, obviously) this makes a large loaf that is inexpensive but good for you.

  • 410ml water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegan spread, or oil if you prefer (vegetable, sunflower, olive, coconut…whatever you have knocking about)
  • 600g brown bread flour (we use a supermarket own brand and it’s perfectly fine. I’m sure you could use white flour or a blend of white and brown instead, but you may need to use less water in that case)
  • 80g oats (we buy oats in bulk, which makes them really cheap. For this bread you can use any type of oat – so if, hypothetically speaking, you’ve accidentally brought a huge bag of jumbo oats instead of porridge oats and are now stuck eating bowls of hot oats instead of porridge in the morning (it is not the same, trust me) then this is one way to use them up)
  • 3 tablespoons of some kind of sugar (a supermarket near us almost always has a plant syrup on sale, so I buy and use whichever is cheapest – usually carob, agave or date. I assume you could use granulated sugar also – I don’t think yeast is all that picky)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast (if you make bread regularly, it works out better to buy yeast in little tins rather than shelling out for sachets every time. It also makes it easier to adjust the amount)

All you need to do is put the ingredients into the machine, set it to whatever comes closest to a 900g wholemeal loaf (that’s a ‘large’ on our machine) and let technology do it’s thing. Whilst it bakes, do consider signing the petition to scrap Universal Credit…

No. Seriously.


Stewards of the Wildlife?

When I was a kid, one of the things I was taught in Sunday school was that God had appointed us humans with stewardship over the animals that don’t happen to be human (and also of the plants, presumably). That idea really struck a chord with me as a child, and I saw it as my job, and the job of all Christians (or possibly all humans…I was in primary school, I’m not sure how thoroughly I thought all this through) to care for the Earth.

Even after I became a polytheist/animist, this idea stuck with me, lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. But this evening, watching a DVD about wildlife conservation where this idea was touched upon, it struck me that wildlife does not need human stewards guiding and managing it.

Humans are not superior to other forms of life. Nature does not need a shepherd. Nature needs humans to live in harmony with it, to realize it’s inherent worth, to stop actively destroying it at every turn…To realize that we actually are animals, we actually are nature, not some separate, superior group of beings.

I think it’s animism that has led to this realization. I think of Tiger, and the Sumatran tigers than he embodies, and I think…us? His stewards? Their stewards? Don’t make me laugh. I think of the spirits of the copper beech that grows outside our block of flats, and wonder what arrogance could possibly lead me to believe that I have some sort of stewardship over them. If someone came up to me telling me that they had this God-given duty of care and control over me, I’d punch them in the face. So would you (or maybe you’re not as aggressive as me and you’d just call the cops. Anyway, you get my point).

Don’t get me wrong, I think caring for the planet because you believe humans have stewardship over Her is a heck of a lot better than just mindlessly trashing everything in sight without a second thought. But it does strike me as yet another example of humans assuming superiority over everything else, and I think it’s that sense of superiority to, and separateness from, the rest of the natural world that has brought us all to this total devastating mess in the first place.


Orange Iced Buns.

Husband’s had to put up with a lot of s*it from me lately, so whilst he went out with his CPN to sort out some housing stuff, I figured I’d make some appreciation/apology iced buns for him. They turned out pretty good!

  • 150ml plant milk (I used soya)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil/vegan spread
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 250g wholewheat bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons plant syrup (I used agave)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 100g icing sugar
  • about 6 teaspoons orange juice (maybe from the orange you grated for the zest?)

Put everything except the juice and icing sugar into your breadmaker in whatever order your model likes things, and set it to make dough.

Once the dough is ready, shape it into 8 or 9 little buns, line them up on a baking tray and leave them to rise in a warm place for about half an hour (apparently you’re supposed to put oiled clingfilm over them as they prove, but I was taught to use a clean tea towel as a kid and it seems to work, so I’m still doing it. I don’t like clingfilm).

Once they’re ready, bake them at Gas Mark 6/200C/400F for 15 or so minutes, until they’re done and sound hollow when you tap them. After that you just have to let them cool, make icing with the icing sugar and orange juice, and ice them.

They won’t last long after that! Up next; Raven’s diet recipes…

3 Ways to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of your Wardrobe…

Monsoon of Random

When we talk about our carbon footprint, we often think of using public transport, walking instead of getting in the car, reducing water usage, switching the lights off, cutting down on plastic usage. How often do we think of the contents of our wardrobe? From how our clothing was made, to how we care for it on a daily basis, and how we part with it. Clothes are becoming one of the most environmentally toxic products we currently use and dispose of. From harsh chemicals used in processing, to micro-plastics in the wash, and chemicals entering the ecosystem via our washing machines. And right to the end of your cherished shirts life – which may well be a landfill.

So, here are three things you can start doing today that can have a huge impact on reducing that carbon footprint right down…

1. Buy more natural fabrics..

…including organic cotton…

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Hel Angrbodadottir.

Hag, desiccated and decaying.

Eternal Queen of the vast ninth world.

Loving Mother.


All that You are is more than I can know;

Not in this brief human span.

Goddesses hold mysteries that are not for mortal minds to grasp.

Radiant corpse,

Beckon me to Your side.

Otherworldly Mother,

Dark Daughter,

Allow me to kneel in Your presence.

Death is not a Lady I flee from.

Open Your rotting arms to me;

Teach me whatever I am able to learn.

Teach me to love You better.

In my time on Miðgarðr I will keep on trying;

Remember me when that time comes to an end.

Revisiting the Poetic Edda.

Revisiting the Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Heroic Legend is an anthology edited by Paul Acker (Professor of English at Saint Louis University) and Carolyne Larrington (Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Language and Literature at Oxford University). It’s published by Routledge as a part of Routledge Medieval Casebooks, and a new copy will set you back something like £35/$46 – unless you want a hardback copy, which will be more than twice that.

If you’re into researching the social context of the Norse legends and all that kind of thing, then this will totally be worth the money. However, it doesn’t look at any of the myths of Gods and Goddesses (I honestly dunno if Fenja and Menja are Goddesses or not; if T/they are, then there is a really interesting article on T/them entitled ‘Mythological Motivation in Eddic Poetry: Interpreting Grottasöngr’. But other Deities only get a passing mention, if at all, and aren’t the focus of the book). So if you were hoping for in-depth studies of the Gods and Their stories, this is not the book for you.

This book focuses on the legends of the Poetic Edda; Helgi and Sigurðr, Brynhilda and Guðrún, and all those dragons, valkyries, witches and warriors that we all kinda know and…kinda don’t. It definitely gave me a lot of new things to think about, even if it hasn’t impacted my devotional life all that much – though I think it has the potential to. If you’re a reconstructionist then it would probably have more effect on your spiritual understanding than it has on mine, given it’s ideas about homosociality and homophobia, the power and social roles of women, Kingship, and other concepts. All these things shape the ancient understanding of the Gods and Goddesses, after all.

The final two essays look at the way Richard Wagner, William Morris and Tolkien understood and re-wrote the Völsunga Saga. I found them worth reading, but obviously they deal with modern works rather than Medieval.

Purity in action

I had not thought of this in terms of purity and impurity before. Thank you for writing.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

Purity is a matter of concern to a majority of the traditions that influence my practice(s). It’s a subject approached from a variety of angles – one might consider internal purity, external purity, and behavioral purity. Because I’m a devotee, not an initiate, I concern myself with the basic forms of purity, namely things like honesty, kindness, compassion, non-violence, steadfastness, devotion, and so forth. Cleansing rites are valuable and have important effects but if one doesn’t exhibit the principles that these rites embody, the activities rapidly become empty and meaningless. Although the above-mentioned standards can be regarded as a “basic” approach to purity, they aren’t simple and nor do I succeed in exhibiting them with consistency. But you see that steadfastness bit up there? I am obliged to continue trying.

One would rightly point out that unless interior forms of purity are exhibited, then they’re not much use to anyone…

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October Angel Prayer.

October is here, and September is over for another year.

Thank you, Archangel Uriel, for guiding us through the past month.

Now we greet you, Angel Barbiel, guardian of October.

Please help us to see the progress we have made, to be grateful for the generosity of the natural world, and to enjoy what we have.

Thank you, Angel Barbiel.