Your Chaff and the Goddess

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And so the wheel turns and we move into shorter days and darker nights. At Autumn Equinox, also known as Mabon, Mother Earth is preparing to sleep and we can feel the need inside ourselves to withdraw and reflect.

 

Banbha. Autumn Equinox Goddess
Banbha. Autumn Equinox Goddess

 

At this time of equal balance; the dusk of the year, before we descend into the dark of winter it is useful to pause for a moment to reflect and ask ourselves the following:

 

  • What has been our ‘harvest’ this year? We have we achieved and what has come to us, by way of not only physical objects and people but also inner feelings of confidence in a new area perhaps.

 

  • What have we let go of or what do we need to let go of? The chaff? If we hold onto the old for too long we stop the flow of abundance from the Universe coming to us. We literally have no space for the new.

 

  • Is there anything we can nurture within ourselves during the dark months of winter? Developing a new skill perhaps?

 

In the Avalon tradition Autumn Equinox is the time of Earth and the Goddess is the wise woman, with maturity and confidence, before becoming the crone of winter. Listen to her guidance as she whispers the way forward for you.  Thanks to Caroline Gully Lir for her beautiful painting of ‘Banbha’, the Autumn Goddess.

Look What We Made: Imbolc Wedding Cloaks

Complementary green handfasting cloaks for bride and groom

I was so pleased with how these wedding cloaks turned out, and the bride and groom were over the moon when they saw them!

The happy couple showing off their cloaks in front of Glastonbury Tor
The happy couple modelling their cloaks in front of Glastonbury Tor

The consultation

Amelie and Matt came to see me at my studio in Glastonbury as they’d heard that they could get a pair of handmade cloaks tailored to their wishes. Together we came up with designs that were complementary but not matching. The resulting cloaks can be enjoyed by the couple on their happy day and for many years to come.

Amelie and Matt in their cloaks at Glastonbury Tor
Imbolc Blessings to you both for a wonderful life together.

Bridal cloak

Amelie explained that she and Matt were getting married in a couple of months’ time in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple, and that they would be wearing green for Imbolc. Amelie was also wearing green when she came to the consultation – she told me it was her favourite colour!

I had bought some luxury velvet a few months back, on a whim as I just loved the colour: a light spring green, often known chartreuse.

A green velvet cloak is perfect for Imbolc, which is one of my favourite times of year. As soon as I showed Amelie the fabric, she instantly loved it and chose a silver satin lining and luxury silver faux fur as a trim around the hood.

The handfasting couple wearing their cloaks
Amelie and Matt’s cloaks can be worn again and again for a lifetime of enjoyment

Groom’s cloak

Matthew was not as sure about what he would like – as is often the case with the groom!

I suggested an unlined, dark green wool cloak with a trim of the same Imbolc-green velvet around the hood, to complement Amelie’s cloak without being too similar.

I also suggested that we line just the hood for a smarter look. It was for their wedding, after all!

This simple design means that Matt can wear his cloak again. It is made from a durable wool that is hard-wearing, warm and reasonably waterproof. A shorter length – just below the knee but not to the floor – makes it dashing but also practical.

A couple of oak leaves appliquéd at the clasp make the cloak extra special.

Imbolc cloaks on the tailor's dummy at the Avalon Cloaks studio
The Imbolc cloaks on the tailor’s dummies at the Avalon Cloaks studio

The results

The cloaks looked great together when I put them on the tailor’s dummy in the artisan studio at the Red Brick Building. I couldn’t wait to see them on!

Amelie and Matt kindly agreed to let me take some photos of them wearing the cloaks, and here are the results.

Imbolc Blessings to you both for a wonderful life together. I hope you have many years of enjoyment wearing your cloaks.

Merry meet
Suzi xx
Merry meet
We hope you have many years of enjoyment wearing your cloaks! Blessed be.

Look What We Made: Simon’s Cloak

Men’s cloak for outdoor ceremonies

Simon wanted a super warm cloak for year-round outdoor ceremonies, so we set about creating his dream bespoke cloak together.

We suggested that the outer be made from pure wool, as it is very warm and reasonably waterproof due to the high lanolin content within the wool. We teamed the outer wool cloak with a polar fleece lining to cut out any wind chill and make it perfect for outdoor workings.

Simon chose a forest green colour for his wool, which we matched with the fleecy lining – a great colour choice for a druid cloak! The rich forest green of the fabrics, and its purpose – outdoor ceremonies – gave the Druid Forest Cloak its name. It’s a simple hooded cloak with few embellishments, except for a leaf-shaped fastening and Simon’s clan badge, which he already had and simply needed us to sew on for him.

We suggested our standard hood because it’s roomy, but not too big. It is weighty enough to sit on the head without falling off or getting blown away – great for minimising distractions during outdoor ceremonies!

The Druid Forest Cloak was commissioned and completed between January and February 2016, and Simon wore it for the first time at the Beltane ritual during the Naked Man festival in the New Forest. Since then, he has worn it around the wheel of the year for many outdoor events including the Winter Solstice ceremony at Stonehenge.

Simon’s Testimonial:

‘My cloak had a good test this year at Stonehenge. It has to be one of the best investments I’ve made this year as it kept me as warm as toast throughout the whole event. I also had several people commenting on how great it looked. Many thanks to Suzi Dale and her team.

Many thanks to Simon for letting us use his words and photos in our post.

At Avalon Cloaks, we’re specialist cloak makers with oodles of experience in supplying clothing for occasions, ceremonies, rituals and handfastings. We also do a good line in men’s capes and cloaks that are simple but beautiful. Contact us today to bring your custom cloak idea to life!

Bright Blessings,
Suzi and the Avalon Cloaks team xx

Our Guide to Yule Magic

Wednesday 21st December 2016

We hope you enjoy our handy visual guide to Yule magic. Please feel free to share!

Yule Infographic from Avalon Cloaks

  1. Deity: Odin

    Associated with wisdom, knowledge, battle, sorcery, the runes, and Yule. Also known as Wish-Giver, Odin is honoured at Yule with gifts of food for which he is apt to bestow a gift of his own.

  2. Affirmation: Gratitude

    “I am the light that dawns at the edge of the world. I am the silent seed that sleeps in the soil. I hold within me the potential of all that I may yet be. I am the Winter’s dream. I am the sun reborn. I am the spirit of light set free. Blessed Be.” Reproduced with kind permission by Amy Riddle, CC of On a Journey Back to Her Wings.

  3. Crystal: Garnet

    Use garnet for courage and protection, to stay positive and to persevere, even through tough times. Garnet strengthens family bonds and promotes love and friendship. Wear it when spending time with loved ones this Yule.

  4. Ritual: Give & Receive

    It’s gift-giving season and you’ll likely be doing plenty of that. But how are you at receiving? Be mindful about how you receive what the universe is trying to give you this Yule. Sometimes unseen forces are at work behind our friends’ kind offers of help, the gifts that we’re given, or even money we may receive unexpectedly. Be open to the good things coming your way and accept them graciously, with thanks.

  5. Cloak: Winter Queen Velvet Cloak with Fur Trim

    One of our favourites from last year, the Winter Queen velvet cloak in blue with silvery lining and faux fur trim evokes the clear blue skies of a crisp winter’s day.

Yule gift

Gratitude is the Greatest Gift at Yule

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With less than a month to go until Yule, you may be feeling a little stressed and anxious, maybe even panicky. Money worries often set in soon after Samhain and last until Christmas – with its expectation of gifts galore and piles of food – passes.

And what strange times we’re in, too! It hardly feels as though Samhain has released us from its grip, with deaths, bad news, bad luck, worse weather and bizarre events on the world stage characterising this year. It turns out that in numerology, 2016 is a 9 year – year of endings. If you’ve found this year tough, don’t worry. In 2017 the cycle starts again – 2+0+1+7 = 1 – making it a year of new beginnings and opportunities. This change will come hot on the heels of the Winter Solstice, which is itself a time of rebirth and regeneration. You can read more about the numerology of the year, and find out the vibration of your personal birth year, in this great post.

So, back to Yule. Regardless of how tricky your year has been, Christmas still hasn’t been cancelled, right?

Which means presents, expense, travelling and trying to finish your work before the holidays kick in – if you can take a holiday. Yule can also be a difficult time as we remember lost loved ones who are not present to share in our joy. If you’ve emailed us lately, you’ll have received an automatic reply asking for your patience while we deal with a family bereavement. Well, we’ve actually experienced two family bereavements in the space of a few weeks – so we know how difficult this time of year can be for many.

Of course, it also means rest, celebration, and time with family and friends still among us. But we’re not quite there yet!

If you’ve already bought all your Christmas presents and your cupboards are fully stocked for a Yuletide feast, we applaud you. If there’s still a teensy bit more organising to do, don’t worry. Here’s our guide to making it through the next few weeks intact, even through the karmic storm that is 2016… with gratitude.

Gratitude

We wouldn’t be surprised if that word fills you with a sense of dread. Instagrammers everywhere have done it to death, and gratitude’s two trendy sidekicks – ‘great-full’ and ‘gifted’, as in, ‘I have been gifted these beautiful flowers’ – are no better. When you’re feeling blue, the blithe assertion that you ‘should be grateful for what you have’ can sometimes be maddening – especially when you’re in the grip of grief, fear or just downright rotten luck. But gratitude really is the answer, especially in troubled times.

Two of our friends, a couple, were both recently made redundant (perfect timing – right before Christmas) and they also lost their home, too. Just two days before they found out, they received a pep-talk from a lovely practitioner in Chinese medicine, which just happened to be about gratitude and trusting the universe. We all know about gratitude, of course. It’s really easy to practise it when things are going right! But this time, for them, something just clicked and they were able to count their blessings even through the maelstrom. The inevitable panic just did not set in.

They have each other, and they have somewhere to go for now, albeit a parent’s spare bedroom. At one point, our friend was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what she does have in this situation, that it brought a tear of joy to her eye. That’s a breakthrough.

“That is what the universe wants,” the medicine woman had said. “It wants us to be grateful for what we have. We’re here simply to be happy, and to help others be happy. And the more grateful we are, the more abundance, luck and opportunity flows into our lives.”

Tips:

1. Protect yourself

It’s not always easy. But there are forces we can call on to help us feel grateful in troubled times. Our recommendation? Someone tough and shiny, with a big sword! Why not call on Archangel Michael? Or Thor, with his axe, to chop away the debris, cut the ties and help you move on, whilst protecting you from any negativity still floating around? Simply ask that you be protected, and visualise the deity of your choice being with you in a protective stance. We are particularly vulnerable during sleep, so it’s wise to ask just before bed.

2. Meditate

We have also published a meditation to meet the goddess Danu and receive a gift on the spiritual plane – which is ideal if the stress of finding material gifts is getting you down! Meditation, as we’re sure you know, quiets the ‘monkey mind’ and brings clarity, enabling us to be open to what the universe is trying to tell us, and give us.

3. Leave an offering

One gift always calls for another

We’re entering Odin’s time now, and we can make use of his wisdom to bring us peace even in the busiest of times. Odin is the wish-giver, god of wisdom and magic. He’s a warrior god, and that means he can help us with our personal battles. If you partake in one meaningful ritual this Yule, make it this: leave an offering to Odin and Sleipnir on Yule Eve, just as you would have done as a child for Santa and his reindeer. Gifts of food and drink – port or mead, mince pies and carrots, for example. Who knows what gifts of wisdom or courage he may bestow on you in return?

Bright Blessings for a magical Yule,
Suzi xx