“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

February in the Lodge, and while we have had a somewhat strange winter up to now, it’s been rather mild and sunny, recently the nights have become colder, and we have woken each day to a distinctive frost. 

In the garden the plants that were still thriving well into January have withered with the touch of Old Jack, as it should be at this time of year.

We have had some beautiful sunrises, mainly because of the sudden change of temperature

The spring flowers have come early

 But the mild weather couldn’t last forever, and after to change after January’s full Moon, also called the Wolf Moon  there was a distinctive change.

first a few words about the  Full Moon in January:

The term ‘Wolf Moon’ is a Native American term for the January Full Moon;  when the winter was at it;s darkest, and food was scares, and so the Wolves would be exceptionally hungry.  

For us here in  Northern England and Europe the full moon of January was also a distinctive marker of the seasons.

Winter was at still at her keenest, and the hag would still be biting.  The food stores would be running low, 6 weeks after Yule and the return of the Sun, but still the earth laid in slumber, a death like pose.  And I can imagine, when we still had Wolves living and roaming the wild woods and moors, that they to, like their human counterparts, would be feeling the hunger, as food sources dried up.  So I suppose you can see how the term could fit in here too. 

This year the Full Moon fell on the 9th January , which is also Raud the Strong`s Day.

Raud was a Nose Seidr Priest who, in the late 10th century refused to convert to Christianity.  

King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway  ( 995 to 1000 CE) had demanded that the all of his citizens should be baptised into the Christian faith. 

While many reluctantly agreed under fear of torture and execution, Raud did not. 

Raud was also a respected sea-farer, and has a long ship that was known as the ‘The Dragon’ or ‘The Serpent’ .  This ship had a large Dragon head carved into it’s bow. 

When Raud refused he escaped from Tryggvason, by taking his long ship and out running Tryggvason.  Raid made his way back to his own settlement in Gylling and Haering,  part of the Godey Isles . 

Tryggvason sailed under cover of darkness to Godey and seized Raud from his bed.  When Raud would not agree to convert, Tryggvason executed Raud by making him swallow a snake or serpent. 

But the serpent would not go in, so Tryggvason ordered that a horn and red hot iron  be used to force the serpent in.  Eventually the serpent was forced down into Rauds stomach where it ate it’s way out and killed him  . 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about Tryggvason and Raud the Strong in his Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863), Part First, The Musician’s Tale; The Saga of King Olaf X. Raud the Strong.

Far north in the Salten Fiord
By rapine, fire and sword
Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
All the Godoe Isles belong
To him and his heathen horde…

With rites that we both abhor
He worships Odin and Thor
So it cannot yet be said
That all the old gods are dead
And the warlocks are no more…

Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The reason for his execution was that Raud had refused to give up ‘Asatru‘, a belief in the ancient gods of Scandinavia .  

After his execution Tryggvason confiscated all of Raud`s land and  wealth, including his distinctive Dragon/ Serpent headed long ship. 

Viking Dragon Ship
Source: Manuscript, Northumbia, England, 900s CE

**Which, incidentally, that is, according to legend, how the Viking long boats got their distinctive shape.**

So on this full moon, many Heathens, will show their respect and honour Raud by raising a horn in his honour.  Though we made do with a my husband tankard, made by a potter friend of our Steve of The Greenman Pottery

Drinking Horn – Reykjavik’s National Museum

So as the days got colder we waited for the 1st snow that had been forecast… the weather men told us day after day that the snow was coming.

BBC Weather

All over Europe there had been the most awful snow storms with many dying, the latest toll is 131. 

While we knew it would not be as bad for us, as the days got colder we knew that it was only a matter of time before it arrived.

 Now for those of you who live in  places where you get deep snow every year, as we once did,  you will be wondering why all the fuss.  But here we do not get snow that often any more.

And believe me when it comes, the world seems to end.  When the snow falls  here in the UK, everything stops.

So we waited and waited….

Meanwhile, while we waited,  the end of January came, as it tends too…

And on the 1st and 2nd of February*, we lit our Imbolc or Oimelc Candles and made offering an offering of fresh mild and Cake . (*also Candlemass)

February is a cold bleak month, but as we could see with the crocus , new life is beginning to appear after the winter months. 

Traditionally the first lambs are born, even in the midst of the coldest winters.

Or the first kid

You can see more of him at Cannon Hall Farm

With them the flow of the ewes milk, and the return of life and hope.

The Winter is passing and the first signs of Spring begin to appear.

Imbolc or Oimelc is the festival of Bride, the Goddess, a spring Maiden . she is reborn, fragile at first, but getting stronger as each day passes.

In Irish mythology and other Celtic religions she is also called  Brigit or Brighid (“exalted one”[1]).  She is the the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  though later as Christianity came to the Islands she became St Bridget.

Offerings were also left out for her during the night, as she was supposed to walk the land, So we left her a glass of Milk with honey in it to keep her sweet and of course a piece of Cake.   I scattered the cake in front of the Lodge door, and left the milk and honey by the side of the porch.

It was gone by the morning… enjoyed not only by Bride herself, I hope but also the wrens that live under the Lodge gable, but also the foxes we regularly see as we walk Shea.

So after the festival and celebrations, offering and rather good Cake ( pics and recipes to follow)

This weekend has seen the first real snow of the year….

The snow came down quite quickly and quite heavily as you can see form the following images.

These were taken just as it started around 2pm on 04.02.12.

By 4 pm it was coming thick and fast and by the time it had started to go dark the same views looked like this.

We managed to take Shea out for a walk, and she of course, being the kind of dog she is, an Arctic breed, just loves the stuff.  So after a good walk round the back garden , and  we head back home, for hot chocolate and a warm fire.

 Just like Narnia…. but without the wardrobe. 

©2011, 2012  Shullie H Porter.  All Rights Reserved.

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About Keeper of the Keys

I'm a 50 plus [ how time flies] multifaceted, oxymoron, who can never really make her mind up. A Witch, a Follow of the Goddess, a Medium, ( I'll talk to anyone dead or alive), a 'wanna be' Writer, a disorganised Blogger, Cake Baker, Jam Maker, Trainee Patchwork-er and Keeper of the Keys for The Under Gardener's Lodge. Mother Grandmother and Wife. I'm fascinated and excited by many things, and therefore could be called eclectic or even eccentric, though some have not been that polite. I live in this Beautiful Magical Lodge with my husband Lou, our rather large dog, Shea and a few other previous residents, who come and go. And like many women of a certain age - I like purple [ and some how pink!] rather a lot!
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2 Responses to “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

  1. Vinny Grette says:

    You paint a beautiful picture. My daughter just returned to Canada after 7 years in Scotland and England, so I feel a special bond with that country. Thanks for posting.

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