Sunday 16th May is the Night of Lunantisidhe, a Celtic Festival honouring the fairy spirits of blackthorns.
From a website called selkywolf.com (no longer live), which featured extracts from 'A Witch's Guide to Faery Folk' by Edain McCoy, it seems that Lunantisidhe is a curious blending of the Latin word 'Luna' meaning 'moon' together with the Gaelic 'sidhe' which means 'faery'. They are the guardians of the blackthorn tree from which humans (and Leprechauns!) make shillelaghs, a walking stick indigenous to Ireland.
These fairies are - according to an AngelFire site - 'Wizened little stick creatures with long arms and fingers for climbing between the thorns'. Their sole purpose for existing seems to be to protect the blackthorn trees from human encroachment. The only time they approach the tree is to pay homage to the Moon Goddess at the Esbats (a specifc Full Moon Wicca Ceremony which may have it's origins in Celtic folklore), perhaps explaining why their name has a lunar connotation.
According to another very informative site ecoenchantments.co.uk, unlike the majority of great mystic trees, the Blackthorn appears to be revered only in the British Isles (Celtic folklore of both Itish and Scottish tradition) with there being little or no association with the mythical traditions of other ancient civilisations.
The Blackthorn, latin name Prunus Spinosa, is a tree of profound magical lore in the Celtic tradition. It is one of the designated Eight Chieftain Trees on the Ogham Tract, where its name is Straif (strife, said to be where the word came from in the English dictionary) and translates as ‘Increaser of Secrets.’ I feel it brings a whole new meaning to 'trouble and strife' the Cockney rhyming slang for wife!
The Blackthorn is also know as sloe (after its fruit), sloe plum, snag, spiny plum, wishing thorn, faery tree, (dark) mother of the woods, pear hawthorn. Within the UK, the trees are an ancient, native pioneer species, with evidence that the fruits were eaten by early man. Blackthorn was used in Iron Age communities (c3400 yrs ago) as remains have been found, buried in a straw filled pit (believed to be used for ripening and preserving the bitter sloes) near Glastonbury in the Lake Village (recorded in a catalogue of findings by the excavator Arthur Bulleid).
Blackthorn is also wellknown for its medicinal benefits, having been catalogues by both herbalists, John Gerard in 1597: ‘The juice of sloes do stop the belly, the laske and bloodie fluxe, the inordinate course of womens terms, and all other issues of blood in man or woman.’
Whilst Nicholas Culpeper, in 1653, recommends a decoction of the powdered bark of the roots, or of the fresh or dried berries as a cure for ‘lask of the belly , or stomach, or the bloody flux, and to ease the pains in the sides or bowels.’ He also recommended a distilled liquid of the flowers steeped in a highly honeyed mead, which he described as 'A most certain remedy, tried and approved, to ease all manner of gnawing in the stomach, sides and bowels, or any griping pains in any of them, to drink a small quantity when the extremity of the pain is upon them.’
Undoubtedly Sloe Gin is still enjoyed today (made annually by my husband's Uncle Ron, aged 83, with sloes collected from the countryside). Perhaps the continued popularity is due to its therapeutic benefits.
As part of the Lunantisidhe festivities, holy trees marking sacred places and wells are acknowledged and new scraps of cloth are tied to their branches.
By keeping traditions, Pagan communities retained a sense of harmony and connection, thereby bringing balance and wellbeing into their lives.
Harmony Healing activities are aimed at bringing harmony and wellbeing into your life. The next RSE 1 module series started 14th May with Violet Flame of Amenti (late applicants accepted) and 17th May with Chakra Balancing, Axiatonal Alignment and Unity Consciousness.
If you are looking for spiritually enlightening activities following lockdown, which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have the next virtual healing circle later this month on Wednesday 26th May at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT+1), and costs £20 (+ £2 Paypal fee). During this session, we connect with other like-minded people and together we work through a mindful chakra balancing process using colours and etheric crystals, with the aim that all participants will experience a degree of unity consciousness. This activity serves as a good taster of my work in general and the virtual format of our Zoom based programme.
If you would like to experience one of our spiritual offerings (meditation, reading, 1:1 healing, a Forest Bathing+ session or a full mentoring course), why not ask for a Harmony Healing gift voucher for a birthday or other celebratory occasion?
A number of virtual courses are now ready, details on Harmony Healing Virtual Events. Currently, due to Coronavirus, most events will be virtual hence distant readings and healings are proving popular. It's best to first check whether it would be welcomed, before gifting a healing or reading to other individual.
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