JANUARY 25TH – 27TH BURNS NIGHT TO PAGANALIA

Victoria and Albert Museum” by Nick Garrod, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. First V&A Director, Sir Henry Cole to the left of the picture.

Burns night is an increasingly important date on the calendar of Scotland’s Cultural Heritage. Wikipedia says it began ‘at Burns Cottage in Ayrshire by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801′ 5 years after his death. It is now celebrated around the world.

Paganalia, also known as Sementivae, was a festival dedicated to seed, to Ceres (from who we get the word cereal) and also the Earth Goddess of your choice Tellus, Demeter, Cybele, Gaia, Rhea etc.. Ceres can be seen on the top left roundel resting on the Globe on the marvellous Ceramic Staircase at the V&A.

Ceres represented Agriculture, Mercury Commerce, and Vulcan Industry. Old Photo by the Author. To be honest in real life it looks a little more like my photo than the gorgeous photo above!
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

My next walks – virtual and guided are here:

JANUARY 24TH – ST CADOC’S DAY

S Cadoc of Llancarfan

St Cadoc is a 5th Century saint and martyr who founded a monastery at Llancarfan, near Cowbridge, Glamorgan, Wales. Son of a robber King, he learnt his Latin under an Irish priest. His story is not written down until the 11th Century, but he has associations with Scotland, Brittany as well as Wales. His story brings him into conflict with King Arthur, who demanded compensation after he sheltered a man who had killed three of Arthur’s men.

The Catholic Church celebrates him in September, elsewhere on the 24th January.

For more look at https://celticsaints.org

Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

My next walks – virtual and guided are here:

JANUARY 23RD PLANTING

 Photo by Timo C. Dinger on Unsplash
photo of hawthorn flowers
Photo by Timo C. Dinger on Unsplash

This is the time, according to Moon Gardeners, to plant and sow plants that develop below ground. So rhubarb and garlic, fruit trees, bushes , bare-root plants and hedging plants.

Many plants can be used for hedges but hawthorn is the most common. It can be planted as bare-root from Autumn to Spring, so January is as good at time as any. It can also be grown from the seeds from its red berries. But this takes 18 months to achieve. Interspersed along the hedge should be trees – either trees for timber, or crab-apples or pear-stocks. Trees were also useful as markers. Before modern surveys property would be delineated by ancient trees. Hedges could be quickly moved, trees couldn’t.

As John Worlidge said in 1697

‘And first, the White-thorn is esteemed the best for fencing; it is raised either of Seeds or Plants; by Plants is the speediest way, but by Seeds where the place will admit of delay, is less charge, and as succesful, though it require longer time, they being till the Spring come twelvemonth ere they spring out of the Earth; but when they have past two or three years, they flourish to admiration.’

Systema Agriculturae 1697

Hawthorn produces white flowers in Spring, and it is one of the great pagan fertility plants, its flowers forming the garlands on May Eve. One of the chemicals in its essence is the same as one given out in decay of flesh so it has been, in folklore, also associated with death and is not to be brought into the house.

Hawthorn is an oasis for insects, mammals and migrating birds (who eat the berries). It is a good wood for burning, and for making tool-handles, veneers and cabinets. Its a lovely plant for May, and it is often called May, or the May Flower or May Tree and also whitethorn. It has many medicinal benefits according to herbalists. The berries are called ‘haws’ hence hawthorn. For more on this look at https://whisperingearth.co.uk.

For the plant https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

Worlidge has a calendar discussing the farming year. This is the beginning of the discussion of January.

This Moneth is the rich mans charge, and the poor mans misery; the cold like the days increase, yet qualified with the hopes and expectations of the approaching Spring: The Trees, Meadows and Fields are now naked, unless cloathed in white, whilest the Countryman sits at home, and enjoys the fruit of his past labours, and contemplates on his intended Enterprises. Now is welcom a cup of good Cider, or other excellent Liquors, such that you prepared the Autumn before; moderately taken, it proves the best Physick.

John Worlidge in Systema Agriculturae, 1697

JANUARY 22 – 22 – TIME TO MULL IT OVER?

Pic by courtesy of YuliaSlept from Pixaby

We have left the season of Wassail but maybe you have gained a taste for a hot punch? Here are Northern European variations on a theme.

Mulled Wine? German Gluhwein or Danish Gløgg

https://ohhappydane.com/mulled-wine-or-danish-glogg/

Mix all the ingredients in a large pot. Heat up the mixture for a few minutes (until the sugar is melted). Be careful not to bring it to a boil!

Next you will have to let the mixture rest for minimum 2 days. Preferable let it rest for 3-4 days in the refrigerator in the pot under a lid. Finally after a few days of rest, you sieve the mixture and pour the extract into glass bottles.

Store the extract in the refrigerator. Use within a month.

Now you have the gløgg extract to make a portion of mulled wine.

First mix 1/4 of the extract with a bottle of red wine in a large pot. Also add 1 cup of chopped, blanched almonds and 1 cup of raisins.

Heat up the mixture slowly (do NOT boil!)

To sum it up; simply serve the warm gløgg with almonds and raisins in tall glasses with a spoon – to dig up the almonds and raisins!

Gluhwein

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/gluhwein

Ingredients

  • 1 orange, halved and sliced
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 slices fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 150ml brandy, rum, amaretto or schnapps

Put the orange slices, wine, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and ginger in a large pan. Warm gently for 10-15 mins, being careful not to let the mixture boil. Add the alcohol, pour into glasses and serve warm.

Mulled wine recipe

https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/mulled-wine.html

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 oranges
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4cm (1.5in) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 60g (2½oz) light brown sugar
  • 60ml ruby port
  • 75cl bottle full-bodied red wine

For the garnish

  • ½ orange, sliced into half moons
  • ½ lemon, sliced into half moons
  • 6-8 cinnamon sticks

Method

  1. Remove the zest from the lemon and one of the oranges with a potato peeler in thin strips then juice the zested orange. Push the cloves into the remaining orange.
  2. Put the zest, orange juice and clove studded orange in a large pan along with 2 cinnamon sticks, the ginger, sugar, port, red wine and 750ml (1 1/2 pint) water.
  3. Put over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, then turn up the heat slightly and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes before ladling into glasses. Garnish with the orange and lemon slices and a cinnamon stick.
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

My next walks – virtual and guided are here:

JANUARY 20TH ST AGNES EVE

Porphyro looking at the sleeping Madeline by  Edward Henry Wehnert (1813-68)
Scanned image and text by Simon Cooke https://victorianweb.org/art/illustration/wehnert/8.htm
Porphyro looking at the sleeping Madeline by Edward Henry Wehnert (1813-68)
Scanned image and text by Simon Cooke https://victorianweb.org/art/illustration/wehnert/8.html

We first discussed St Agnes on Distaff Sunday. St Agnes was a martyr who, at 13 years old, refused to marry a pagan, and was martyred as a result, by being stabbed in the throat. She is well attested and in a list of martyrs dating to AD345. She is patroness of young women and of chastity.

Folklore held that a maid could dream of her future lover on St Agnes Eve, if she took certain precautions. John Keats use this tradition in his epic poem, which begins with a great description of winter.

The Eve of St. Agnes

By John Keats

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
       The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
       And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
       Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told
       His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
       Like pious incense from a censer old,
       Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

Keats sets up the drama with a poetic description of the folklore:

They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve,
       Young virgins might have visions of delight,
       And soft adorings from their loves receive
       Upon the honey’d middle of the night,
       If ceremonies due they did aright;
       As, supperless to bed they must retire,
       And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
       Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44470/the-eve-of-st-agnes

In the poem the maid Madelaine goes to sleep to dream of her love Porphyro . He risks everything to visit the young girl, and watches her while she sleeps. She dreams of him and seeing him when she wakes she lets him in her bed thinking she is still dreaming. They escape and run away together.

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & CELTIC FESTIVALS GUIDED & VIRTUAL WALKS

Bran's head taken to Tower Hill
King Bran’s head buried at Tower Hill

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & CELTIC FESTIVALS LONDON GUIDED WALK

Sunday30th January 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Imbolc.

The guided walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The walk is one of a series about London’s Myths and Legends which take place on or around one of the significant festivals of the Celtic calendar. On this tour we celebrate Imbolc, the festival half way between the winter and the Summer Solstice that celebrates the first signs of the coming of spring. The day is also dedicated to St Bridget, or St Bride.

The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how Imbolc may have been celebrated in early London.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up at St Brides.

This is a London Walks Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & CELTIC FESTIVALS LONDON VIRTUAL WALK

Sunday 30th January 2022 7.30pm

The virtual version of the walk starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up at St Brides.This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, MAY EVE LONDON GUIDED WALK

Sunday 30th April 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Beltane

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The guided walk is one of a series about London’s Myths and Legends which take place on or around one of the significant festivals of the Celtic calendar. On this tour we celebrate May Day, or Beltane – the celebration of the coming of Summer.

The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how Imbolc may have been celebrated in early London.

The virtual route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls

This is a London Walks guided walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book

MYTHS, LEGENDS, MAY EVE LONDON VIRTUAL WALK

SUNDAY 30th April 2022 7.30pm

The virtual version of the walk route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St PaulsThis is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & HALLOWEEN VIRTUAL WALK

Sunday 30th October 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the celtic origins of Halloween

The guided walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The walk will tell the story of a selection of London’s Myths and Legends, beginning with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries.

As we explore the City we also look at the origins of Halloween celebrations and how they may have been celebrated in early London.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & HALLOWEEN VIRTUAL WALK

MONDAY 31st October 2022 7.30pm

The virtual version of this walkstarts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls.

This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

JANUARY 19TH KALENDAR OF SHEPHERDS

January from Nicholas Breton’s ‘Fantasticks 1626 from the Kalendar of Shepherds (digitised by Internet Archive)

The Kalendar was printed in 1493 in Paris and provided ‘Devices for the 12 Months.’ This is a modern (1908) reconstruction of it using wood cuts from the original and adding various text from 16th and 17th Century sources. The text of the month is provided from a 17th Century source and provides an interesting view of what was going on in the country-side in January. To see the full Kalendar go here:

The ‘coney is so ferreted that she cannot keep in her borough’ says Nicholas Breton (the rabbit is so hunted she cannot keep in her burrow’. So I will use an illustration from the London Illustrated Almanac of 1873 which chose the Rabbit as its wild animal of the month.

London Illustrated Almanac of 1873
January from London Illustrated Almanac of 1873

JANUARY 13TH – 18TH BLUE MONDAY, WOLF MOON, START OF LAMBING AND TWELFTH NIGHT, OLD STYLE

Hackney Marshes, Jan 2022, Chris Sansom

Third Monday in the year – traditionally the most depressing day. Traditional in the sense of the word meaning ‘made up recently as part of a marketing campaign.” * AD2005.

Wolf Moon is a recent introduction to mainstream culture and was borrowed from Native Americans as wolves are known to howl at the moon at this time of the year. (First full moon of the year.) So this year they are both on the 17th January. So is the wonder of the moon a counter to the depressive effect of a cold period when the joys of Christmas and the hopes of a New Year are encountering the reality of wintery bleakness?

In Jane Austen’s time winter socialising depended upon the moon. Generally, people would schedule balls and dinner parties on nights when the moon was bright to make their journey’s home safer. This is one reason why Almanac’s were so ubiquitous.

The 17th January is also the Day of Peace for the Goddesses Felicitas, Pax, and Concordia,

Lambing can begin about now in the south, and it gets progressively later as you travel north. Of course, it depends when the ewe is tupped by the ram. 5 months later the lamb, or lambs will be born – normally, one or two but occasionally more.

The country expression is ‘in with a bang and out with the fool’ which suggests an ideal time to tup, is November 5th, so that the lambs will be born around the 1st of April. Itinerant shearers, now often from New Zealand, travel the country shearing sheep. They will begin in the south and then progress north.

In the ‘Return of the Native’, Thomas Hardy has a character called Diggory Venn, he is a reddleman. He travels the country selling a red ochre dye with which shepherds mark their flock. The ram wears a collar with a marker full of reddle in it. When he mounts the ewe she will have a red mark on her back. Once she has been tupped twice she will be taken out of the field, to encourage the ram to impregnate the others. Reddle could also be used to mark lambs chosen for slaughter, or dipping, or weighing etc..

Twelfth Night Old style is the date of celebration of the last night of Christmas but according to the Julian Calendar which was replaced in 1752. Time to Wassail the Orchard.

JANUARY 12 OLD MOORE’S ALMANAC

Old Moore's Almanac for 2022 photo of January
Old Moore’s Almanac for 2022 photo of January

The Alamanac which claims to have begun in 1697 is heavily based on predictions which are mostly astrologically based. It begins with a World Preview of 2022. The economy is going to be uncertain, but growth will start to build from March.

Then there profiles of people such as Joe Biden, Keeley Hawkes, Countess of Wess etc. Biden it appears is unconventional and a maverick. He will surprise everyone by proving himself a modern FDR.

There is a page of predictions for each for star sign; a Chinese horoscope and then a page for each month as illustrated above. At the end are astrological pointers for horse racing, greyhound racing, gardening by the moon, Football pools, Angler’s Guide, lottery numbers. It finishes with a list of UK fairs and events, and lighting up times.

Very similar to almanacs since the 15th Century which I discussed here.

ADVERT FOR OLD MOORE'S ALMANAC 2022
Image of an advert for ADVERT FOR OLD MOORE’S ALMANAC 2022

This week I received my copy of Old Moore’s Almanac and a reproduction of the Illustrated London Almanac of 1873 (which I will discuss on another day).

As I stated in an earlier post the content of Almanacs has been similar since the Kalendar of Shepherdes of the 15th Century.

Old Moore’s, which claims ancestry back to 1697., begins with a large tranche of predictions both for the world and for celebrities, based on astrology. 2022 is the ‘year of Adjustment’. We are, they say, confronted with weak leaders, with weak values and so we, ‘the governed must build them.’

Then there is a page for each month, noting the calendar events such as Epiphany, Burns Night, Australia Day, and other days filled with very random notable events chosen to represent that day through history- 2nd Jan Conquest of Granada 1462. 9th Jan Duchess of Cambridge b. 1982, 13th Jan Trump impeached 2021 etc.

Next are columns for Sun rise and set, high water at London Bridge, moon at London. and a weather column. (Early snow, improvements mid month, and gale at the end of the month)

Then a column of predictions for the month:

‘The New Moon on 2nd January falls in Capricorn in the sixth house at London in a harmonious trine aspect to Uranus in the tenth house and a conjunction to the UK’s Sun.’ Venus is conjunct Pluto’. Phew! ‘The country is ready for a fresh start with a prevailing sense of optimism correlating with high support for government.’ And then they predict moves to constitutional reform for proportional representation! Boris Johnson will be surprised at this!

The horoscopes continue after the calendar has come to Dec 31st. We have pages for celebrities such as Joe Biden (he is unorthodox and will surprise people by some amazing FDR style transformation.) ; Matt Baker,;Peter Kay; Sophie Countess of Wessex etc. Right at the end we have astrological pointers to betting on the horses; greyhound racing; Gardening by the Moon; Football pools forecasts,; Angler’s guide; lottery numbers, and finishes with lighting up times.

£3.50 good value or is it just cheap?

JANUARY 11TH – NEW YEAR’S EVE OLD STYLE AND CARMENTALIA

1375, French Caesarian Birth, (most likely to have killed the Mother or be performed when the Mother is dead or is dying.)

When Britain reluctantly joined the Gregorian Calenda, in 1752, we lost 11 days, so if you add 11 to 31st December you get to New Year Old Style. You can do this with any date, and when celebrating feel you are being really authentic.

So, anything you do on the New Style 31st Dec. you can do on the 11th – except convince your boss that you have a legitimate reason for not coming to work because of the hangover! In case you have forgotten what you should be doing look here to look back on New Year’s Eve, New Style.

It is probably a particularly ‘witchy’ evening because its the traditional Eve, not the new-fangled one. So, according to Reginald Scot in his ‘Discovery of Witchcraft’ 1584 all you need to do to discover a witch (who has bewitched your cow) is to put your breeches on the cow’s head, and beat the poor animal out of the field with a good cudgel (best done on a Friday). The cow will run right to the witch’s door and strike it with her horns. It does make you wonder whether they really believed this nonsense. Clearly, the cow is most likely to go to the house that is nearest the exit from the field? And why the breeches and not a blindfold? and why be so cruel to the cow? I guess the people who believe this sort of thing are the same type who believe QAnon?

It is also Carmentalia, the festival for the Roman Goddess of prophecy and childbirth. She was a much loved Goddess in the Roman pantheon but little is known about her perhaps because she has no clear match in the Greek.

She has a long history in Roman history being said to be the mother of…. well this may surprise you because I didn’t know this before, she was the mother of Evander and Evander is the founder of Pallantium, which was a City on the site of Rome that predated Rome!

Who knew that? (the people at Vindolanda Roman Fort know and they have a great page on Carmenta here. ) She also commanded one of the the fifteen flamen. These were priests of state sponsored religions. They prohibited anyone coming to the Temple wearing anything of leather.

Carmenta had two sidekicks who were her sisters and attendants. Postvorta and Antevorta, They might be explained by Past and Future. (in fact, after and before). Or dedicated to babies that come out head first or legs first.

Vindolanda make the point that 2% of births in the past are likely to have caused the death of the mother, and, because of a high mortality in the children, to keep a population stable a mother might have to have 5 children on average, giving her a 12% chance of death by giving birth.

Good reason to have a Goddess on the Mum’s side.

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