Tuesday, July 31, 2012

4x4 relief carved, hand painted ceramic sunflower tile.

Happy full moon on this eve of Lammas or Lughnasadh, the first of the three Pagan harvest festivals on August 1st around the time of the early grain harvest which has been celebrated for thousands of years.
It is a time we begin to reap what has been sown, prepareing for the summers end and the up coming abundance of the fall harvest.
Lughnasadh is named for the Celtic diety Lugh who presides over science and the arts. According to Celtic legend, Lugh decreed that a feast be held each year at the beginning of the harvest season in honor of his foster mother Tailtin, the Royal lady of the Fir Bolg. After her people were defeated by the Tuatha De Dannan Tailtin was obliged to clear a vast forest for the planting of grain. In her attempt to fufill this obligation she died of exhaustion. Tradition states that she was buried beneath a great mound called the hill of Tailtin where the first feast of Lughnasadh was held in Ireland. There were games and contests of skill as well as a great feast from the first fruits of the summer harvest. As the years past traditions surrounding the feast at Tailtin began to evolve into events and ceremony to celebrate not only Tailtin and the beauty of the harvest her sacrifice provided but also to honor the work and sacrifice of human beings as they strive to provide sustenance for their families and community.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Decorative handmade relief carved ceramic thistle tile

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4x10 relief carved, hand painted ceramic thistle tile

Thistles, as well as being a symbol of vitality, endurance, protection and strength of spirit are believed to be a very potent hex breaker.
Needing very little nutrients from the ground, thistles will grow in almost any soil, relying mostly on the sun and rain. A thistle in it's prime may stand three meters high, a meter wide and have up to forty thousand seeds which can lay dormant for over seven and up to twenty years before sprouting from just one of it's flowers. Often referred to as 'natures barbwire' thick stands of thistles can form an impassable barrier even for large grazers such as deer and elk. Though the thistle guards itself well, beneath it's formidable thorns it has many practical uses. Long ago it's recepticals ( the thickened top of the stem below the flower) were commonly eaten, much like artichokes. The seeds, a favorite food of finches, make good oil for cooking and burning. The flower heads are used in remedies to treat lung, kidney and liver problems as well as chronic headaches, memory loss, menopause, menstrual cramping, loss of appetite, indigestion, colds, fevers, infections, ulcers and some cancers. The Scottish thistle's botanical name 'Onopordum acanthium' means 'thorny donkey food' in ancient Greek and when milled the leaves do make a good fodder for livestock, in which way they were used to a large extent in ancient Scotland.  Though they take little from the soil, I still pull thistles from the garden, but am pleased to have them standing tall in the yard, their lovely blossoms attracting butterflies and bees. I'll be extra glad they're there should I have need of a good home remedy or something to break a hex.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Decorative relief carved ceramic poppy tile

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4x10 relief carved and handpainted ceramic poppy tile.

Demeter, mother goddess of harvest, holds red poppies that grow among the barley as an emblem of her mysteries and wisdom. The poppy is a symbol of the sacred laws of nature, the sanctity of marriage and the cycle of life and death over which Demeter presides. In marriage the poppy represents fertility, unity, loyalty and the connected elements of creation. Like the love of Demeter for her daughter Persephone, in all matters of love they symbolize dedication. In death poppies guard the memories of past lives and are associated with peace, passage and Demeters guidance through the dreams of eternal slumber. In it's life aspect it signifies a promise of rebirth, renewal, comfort in times of need and guidance through the many stages of being in our journey along lifes path. Where the poppy stands and falls spreading its seeds to the earth where many more may grow when thier time comes. By this the gentle goddess Demeter bestows upon us an understanding of the endless cycles of energy within all things.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Handmade, relief carved ceramic tile set

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10 x 21 Three piece, relief carved, hand painted ceramic botanical pea tile set

There are certain foods which have played a significant role in shaping the course of human history. Peas, along with other legumes are undoubtedly one of these foods. There is speculation that peas originated in either Burma, Northern Thailand or Northern India, though it is generally considered they are most likely from somewhere between the near east and central Asia. Fossilized peas from 9750 BC were found among the artifacts in the 'Spirit cave' on the border of Thailand and Burma. These were almost certainly gathered from the wild. Many archaeological finds have included dried peas which, in most cases, had been grown and stored by our ancient ancestors. Peas were one of the first plants ever cultivated and since then their path through history has been closely intertwined with our own. It was largely due to the ability to dry and keep staple foods such as peas that nomadic people were first able to have permanent dwellings. Likewise such foods enabled travel over longer distances and a wider range of environments. This for the most part is how peas spread in such abundance. As we have followed our evolutionary course through time, peas have been there with us offering nourishment and sustainability, virtually the same now as they've always been.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Handmade relief carved Celtic owl ceramic tile

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6x6 relief carved ceramic Celtic Owl tile

Owls are one of the oldest types of creatures alive today. Fossils have been found showing owls already existed as a distinct lineage some sixty million years ago. By the time human evolution began owls were already well adapted, masters of their environment in almost every part of the world. People have always beheld these magnificent birds with awe and wonderment. Intrigued by their mysterious nature there have been and still are many stories and beliefs surrounding the ability and behavior of owls. Many cultures hold owls to be powerful symbols of both wisdom and protection, believing them to possess physical strength and cognitive powers far surpassing that of any other creature. They are also associated with the nurturing, maternal forces of nature by way of their deep connection to the moon.  Metaphysically able to see through the darkness of time and space as they can see through the dark of night, an owl’s real strength of vision comes not only from their extremely good eyesight, but also from advanced and complex capabilities of perception. The goddess Athena found the owls ability to look into the soul and subconscious a great asset, for it helped her to know and speak full truths as only owl could see it. It is in the form of a great white owl that the moon goddess Arianrhod is said to spread her protective wings over the night bringing peace, safety and solace to all who beseech her. In eastern lore the goddess Lakshmi, known as a keeper of spiritual and maternal prosperity as well as for her loyalty and beauty rides upon an owl which symbolizes many of the same blessings as the goddess they carry. The owl’s connection to the spirit world and dark often leads them to be associated with aspects of death and reincarnation and in many cultures their ability to fly silently is attributed to them being either part or all spirits themselves. They represent the North and the North wind in the Native American Sacred hoop tradition. Whether the owls silent flight, stealth, agility, superior eyesight, hearing and ability to camouflage to near invisibility is due to their spiritual status or not, they are at the very least a marvel of evolution deserving of respect and reverence. Should we neglect to give that respect and recognize their entitlement to the earth as their home, one should hope they truly are spirits, able to transcend the boundaries of life and death, an evolution which would enable them to survive humanity, the only threat to their majestic existence.