Thursday, December 21, 2017

Light in the Darkness

Sunrise on Winter Solstice, Missouri
The sun rose this morning awash in a moving fog, on this, the shortest day of the year. A prelude to this evening's longest night. And while it is our beginning of Winter, the days from here on out get longer, brighter, and reach toward spring and the return of light, green, and warmth, though we'll traverse through winter's cold to get there. 

Newgrange Passage Tomb, Boyne Valley, Ireland [photo mine]
This morning, a magical, curious, but very intentional thing happens in the Boyne Valley in Ireland. At Newgrange Neolithic Passage Tomb the sunrise of the Winter Solstice illuminates the inner passage of Newgrange for 17 minutes in an otherwise pitch black interior. This is science. This is faith. This is astronomy. This is magic.  

Entrance to Newgrange Passage Tomb. Square above the door is called the light box through which the sun's light enters creating a beam of light that travels to the back of the passage to a vaulted room. [photo - mine]
I have visited Newgrange in the spring, entered the passage tomb and stood in the ink black chamber. Here, the light of the winter solstice is simulated for visitors. Even that was quite magical. But for viewing the solstice sunrise, people enter their names all year into a lottery for just a handful to be chosen to enter and witness the ancient and awesome spectacle. Ireland's Ancient East tourism board streamed the sunrise live but this morning found Ireland cloaked in fog and cloud. I imagine it was quite a privilege anyhow.  The live video is long but still worth a watch as it covers the history and science of Newgrange and many interviews with visitors, locals, lottery winners, and experts. 

Neolthic art adorns the passage of Newgrange [photo: Nat Geo]
Newgrange Passage [photo: Nat Geo]
Sun's illumination of passage at Newgrange [photo: Irish Central]
All across the world - Peru, Mexico, England, Egypt, Scotland, Germany, and beyond, ancient monuments align with the winter solstice and pay homage to the sun, the tilt back toward the light. May the light always find you in the darkness. 

Read more about Newgrange at Ireland's Ancient East or Mythical Ireland.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Holiday Markets

On my dream list of things to do someday is to visit Christmas markets around the world. It seems like the Celtic Isles offer their own charming markets. Read about a few Irish ones over at Tourism Ireland. 

For those of us stuck dreaming of such wonder places.... here are some visual gifts. Also, if you are looking for a lovely little Celtic gift from the comfort of your computer, take a look in the Emerald Post Shop, a marketplace of little Celtic wonders (now selling old fashioned Feather Quills!). Do imagine I'm serving hot wassail, under a glowing tent amidst twinkling lights and light snow flurries, with cathedral bells chiming in the distance.  And to make things easier, remember these promotions:

Now until Christmas
 Take 15% off anything & everything in the shop
Use the code HOLIDAY15

Spend $30 (after all discounts, excluding shipping)
& automatically receive a FREE Portal Collection Postcard Set
Galway, Ireland  {source: Tourism Ireland}

Winterval, Waterford, Ireland {source: Tourism Ireland}

Edinburgh Christmas Market {Source: Little Things Blog}

Exeter Market, England {source: Solo Sophie}

Thursday, November 30, 2017

An Irish Winter Dream

Kylemore Abbey, Ireland [Source]

Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland [Source]

Knowth Neolithic Passage Tomb, Boyne Valley, Co. Meath, Ireland
Photo by Ken Williams of Shadow and Stone [Source]
Cooley Mountains, Ireland
Photo by Derek Smyth [Source]

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thank You

Thanks for supporting small businesses, artists, & craftsmen such as Emerald Post in you search for that special something. In thanks I'm running a few promotions in the Emerald Post Shop:

Now until Christmas
 Take 15% off anything & everything in the shop
Use the code HOLIDAY15

Spend $30 (after all discounts, excluding shipping)
& automatically receive a FREE Portal Collection Postcard Set

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pretty Parcels

When ordering from Emerald Post, all my flat orders come hand addressed in a Celtic font on a lovely emerald green envelope, with a coordinating stamp(s) because I love mail and details. Finding an Emerald Post in your mailbox should be joyous. Now, with parcels like boxes and padded envelopes I can't always be emerald green, but you can be sure your parcel will still be pretty, adorned, and probably one of a kind - even when I must use those boring shipping labels. I'm also quite generous with sprinkling in Emerald Post freebies like postcards, mini-notecards, and bookmarks. If you're looking for unique & meaningful gifts this holiday, browse over at Emerald Post Shop where the spirit and culture of Ireland, Great Britain, and the Old Ways can be found. If purchasing for a gift - I can add a festive wrapping for no extra charge as well as add a little note from you. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Wishing Well - A Candle & Tradition

Sacred Springs & Holy Wells can be found throughout the Celtic Isles of Ireland and Great Britain. At these revered sites, you may find candles burning as votive offerings, coins tossed into water with silent wishes, or ribbons & cloth hanging from a nearby sacred tree, tied in prayer. This candle, tied with ribbon & containing a lucky Irish (or British) coin at the bottom, signifies an ancient tradition of pilgrimage to holy places of prayer & healing, to sacred waters in sacred woods, welling up from the Otherworld. 

Light this candle in prayer or meditation in the hearth of your home or in a place you find sacred, as a glowing manifestation of the unseen spirit. Give it as a gift to someone who cherishes the old ways of Ireland, Britain and Celtic spirituality. When the candle burns out, retrieve the lucky coin from the bottom and carry it with you, leave it for someone in need of a little luck, or toss it into the sacred water well of your choice.

Kindle the flame of Celtic Spirit with this 2 ounce - sage green or natural yellow - unscented - pure beeswax candle with an astonishing burn time of 12-14 hours! Poured into a lidded miniature mason jar with an Irish or British coin at the bottom.

Hop over to the SHOP to purchase a Wishing Well Candle for $9.

You can also sign up for the Emerald Post Herald E-mail Newsletter HERE to receive updates, coupons, specials, and a healthy dose of Irish & Celtic Culture.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Hallowe'en

May your All Hallows Eve be safe, joyous & macabre. 
I'll be filling packages with extra Emerald Post treats for all purchases made today, Halloween, or tomorrow, All Saints Day. Hope over to the Etsy Shop to browse.

Happy Samhain!

For your enjoyment...some scenes from Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Trick-or-Treat for the Soul

From my family album

From my family album
On All Hallows Eve, the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, it is thought that the spirits of the dead can return to earth, that the threshold between the living and the dead is thin and can be crossed by spirits. Otherworldly creatures like goblins, faeries, banshees are also free to cross between the veil of this world and the other. Because all manner of spirits are roaming on All Hallows Eve, it became prudent to don a mask or costume, to dress up like a spirit of the dead in hopes of escaping their notice, offering protection by camouflage so to speak.

Many Halloween traditions are rooted in the belief that the souls of the departed are able to return during the last night of the Celtic Year. In addition to dressing up and lighting a bonfire to repel evil spirits, it was also customary to leave food out for the benevolent spirits  of your departed ancestors who might visit in the night. Some folks also left food outside of their home, perhaps by a faerie hawthorn bush, to appease the faeries and other mischievous creatures.   

The Halloween rite of trick-or-treat has its humble beginnings in the traditions called Souling. Children would go door to door, often dressed up as the departed dead, singing songs & asking for cakes (called soul-cakes) or other food or money, in return for saying a prayer for the souls of the dead.  Below is rendition by Sting of a folk song which depicts this tradition....

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bonfires of Samhain

As the nights grow longer, colder, and dark settles in, it is fitting that we welcome this time of year with light, with heat, with flame - with a Bonfire. It is an ancient Celtic custom, which still persists today in parts of Ireland & Britain, for people to extinguish the fires burning at home in their hearths. Then the community gathers for the lighting of a large Samhain fire. All Hallows Eve is considered to be a liminal night - meaning that the veil between this world and the Otherworld is thin and spirits, goblins, and mischievous faeries are thought to be active. The ritual fire is thought to ward off bad luck and malevolent spirits. Sometime folks cast objects into the flames, representing personal prayers. When returning home, folks would take embers from the bonfire back home to reignite their hearth fires. Where once you might have seen fires near and far across the countryside like constellations, you might now just see one like a beacon in the night. 


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Roots of the Jack-o-Lantern

Irish folklore holds that the tradition of carving pumpkins is rooted in the story of Stingy Jack - a mean and nasty blacksmith who was denied entry into heaven.. He was so rotten that the devil didn’t want Jack in hell either —  too much competition for him! So Jack’s spirit was condemned to wander the earth for eternity. But one request the devil did grant Jack was to give him something to light his way. What he got was a burning coal ember which Jack placed inside a carved out turnip. Thus, the tradition of the Jack O’ Lantern was born. To this day, people in Ireland still carve out turnips and illuminate them with stumps of candle. They’re then placed in a window or put on a gate post outside the house. Here in the United States, the custom was continued by millions of Irish emigrants who carved out pumpkins because they were a lot more plentiful than turnips. has a similar version of the tale of Stingy Jack HERE

Carved Halloween Turnip - National Museum of Ireland 

Carved Turnips

Friday, October 27, 2017

Scotland - A Spirit of its Own

Visit Scotland has the most amazing EBOOK up now exploring many myths, legends, & hauntings all across the Highlands and beyond to get you in the Halloween spirit. All with great stories, illustrations, maps & more for each story like the one above of the Headless Drummer of Edinburgh Castle. This ebook is seriously spooktacularly awesome. Visit Scotland also has a pretty killer Instagram. Happy Hauntings. 

Irish Hauntings

Mural in a constructions zone in Kilkenny, Ireland 
Tourism Ireland is joining in the Halloween festivities with some local hauntings. Check out their website HERE and a super Instagram page HERE. In a country as ancient as Ireland, there are sure to be more than a few spirits (whiskey included 😉 ). The only place below that I've visited from the Hauntings below is that lovely arched bridge on the River Nore in Inistioge but it was beautiful and idyllic when I was there, nothing spooky about it. HERE is another article about some famous haunted places. Explore More Irish Halloween HERE.

Samhain & the Wheel of the Year

In the Celtic Isles, many of the old ways persist, remnants of traditions from centuries ago are still loyally preserved or else they’ve been distilled into common traditions whose roots lie hidden under the moss and leaf litter of time. Peek behind the gauzy curtains of Halloween and we can trace these old ways, see the persistence of age old traditions and uncover the roots of our most common Halloween ways.
Ancient Celtic Wheel of the Year - The Four Festival Days: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, & Lunasa
and the 4 Cross Quarter Days arranged by the suns positions: Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox,
Summer Solstice, & Autumn Equinox 
The ancient Celtic calendar was a wheel which turned little by little through the seasons until it rolled right back around to Halloween or Samhain as it was called. Samhain in Irish is pronounced SOW-EN and it means summer’s end. It marks the end of the Celtic Year and so also the New Year. It is a threshold, when crossed one passes from the summery light half, to the wintry dark half. And entering the cold dark half has a lot to do with why Samhain, Halloween, is associated with dark things. The sun grows cold and the trees shed their final golden leaves, plant wither to grey then they are gone, animals prepare for long winter sleep. Food and warmth are scarce. The harvest has been stored, the wood gathered, and folks, too, prepare for the season of Earth’s sleep. Because Samhain, summer’s end, is traditionally a festival day, there are many folk traditions and rituals that accompany it. We'll explore those next...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Irish & Celtic Gifts for the Holidays

New Handpainted Signs and Wood Burned Décor up in Shop Now & More to come soon.

I've paused Emerald Post monthly parcels to work on some other exciting creations. I've been crafting woodburned ornaments and wall hangings,and hand painted signs among other things. Several of these are already available in the SHOP and other delights to come shortly. If you have your eye on something here that isn't in the shop yet, do let me know and I'll reserve and list it for you.