Saturday, February 19, 2011


"MOTHER NATURE" (Artist Unknown)

I recently received an e-mail from a fellow named Tim Dalton informing me that he had included my blog in a compilation on his website called “Tales from the Past and Dreams for the Future: The Top 30 Celtic Culture Blogs” (link at the end of the post).

On his site, he writes: "Whether you have Celtic ancestry, or you are Irish on March 17th (like everyone else in the world!), these top 30 Celtic Culture blogs will surely keep you entertained. These bloggers have done a great job expressing the beautiful history, sites, and sounds of Celtic traditions."

Dalton's list covers three areas of Celtic blogging: Celtic Music, Irish American and Regional Irish Groups, and Celtic Ancestry. My blog is listed under the third area. Of this category, Dalton writes: "These blogs cover all of the basics and beyond of Celtic History. Not to be missed!"


He also give a brief description of each blog. Of mine, he writes, "This Celtic Lady has a pretty blog that explores everything from art to cats. With her Celtic roots, she does a great job touching on basic to intricate Celtic topics."

I find myself to be quite flattered but not entirely believing he listed the right blog, because I don't think I've ever written about cats. I've posted artwork featuring black cats around Halloween, but that's about it. However, I'll just say "Thanks, Tim, for the nod!"

The listing brings to mind my custom of the past couple of years to write about "All Things Irish" during March. It's no secret that I've been in a blogging slump lately. The world always closes in around me at this time of year and this winter is no exception. As I wrote once, like Persephone I seem to descend into the Underworld during the winter, only to emerge into light and life in April.

In "The Wasteland", T. S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land". I disagree. Because it is my month of re-birth, I love April! But ever since 2008, February has been the month for cruelty toward me and mine. In the past few Februaries I have lost a job, had a devastating car accident, had a car die on me, wrenched my knee so that I couldn't walk for the entire month, etc.

 "FAOLAN, ANA AND DRUSTAN", by Denise Elizabeth Smith

This February is no exception. My latest car had a run in with a light pole as a consequence of my being stuck in a snowbank in our driveway. The winds blow frigidly from the Arctic. I have a very hateful and cruel co-worker who sits nearly on top of me because the two of us are packed like sardines in a "not even proper cubicle" meant for one person. I've been data entering information about all kinds of nasty diseases to the point where I've almost become a germophobe. And we have had scary news that I can't talk about yet.

I was only spared from February's wrath last year, when I didn't work and kept myself immersed in books. By cocooning at home and staying out of her way, I was spared February's "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" aimed right at me.

It's no wonder that I started my Celtic research during winter, in the February of 2009. It was pure escapism for me, to learn about a group of people who were so close to nature, as I had been as a child. A group who believed in magical and mystical things, unearthly things. A group who believed - so unlike us moderns - that the afterlife is just an extention of our earthly life. 

"AVALON" by Mary Layton

It's no wonder that I'd like to be taken out of a world of Alberta Clippers, subzero temperatures, nasty people, flesh- and bowel-eating bacteria, broken cars and worries and woes, and enter into a world of sacred groves and misty lakes, gatherings of enchanted souls, fiery gods and goddesses, beautiful queens and valiant heroes, Druids and dryads, the lands of Avalon and Tír na nÓg, pookas and sprites, selkies and the fae, moon dancing and hidden portals.

Yes, it's definitely time - past time - to start thinking of All Things Irish - nay, All Things Celtic - for my March posts.

Here's the link to Tim Dalton's site:

"THE WAY INTO THE WOODS", Angela Jayne Barnett

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


"Bridget", artist uncredited

Today, Feb. 2, is celebrated as Groundhog Day in the US. To Catholics, it is Candlemas, or St. Bridget's Day. To the ancient Celts, it was Imbolc, one of the eight major holidays of the year and a day to celebrate the Goddess Brighid (Brigid).

Fire is one of the symbols of this goddess, whom I have written about several times (just check out my Feb. 2 posts the past few years).

"Brighid" by Shattered Dreams on

However, here in North Dakota, ice, not fire, is a much more likely symbol for Feb. 2.  And any groundhogs we have around here would be way stupid to come out of their burrows. So what does one do on an early morning when the temperature is -23 degrees F, the coldest day of winter so far?


That is what happens when you throw boiling water into frigid air. Way cool, huh? (This image is from the Internet - filmed in Saskatchewan at -40 C - but our result was very much the same.)

A bunch of us gathered shortly after 8 this morning in the little atrium of the building in which we work while one brave soul dashed outside and threw a cup of boiling water into the air. (Actually, it had cooled off a bit from boiling, since it had to be brought from the kitchen.)

Apparently, ice crystals are formed when you do this, but to me it looked like snow, and it was brilliant against the clear blue sky. Someone called it "the essence of cloud." I have to say, it made my day!! I can't believe I have lived in North Dakota all my life and never knew about it.

According to Joe Larsen, a Ph.D. in chemistry at Rockwell Science Center in Los Angeles, CA, some people claim that hot water freezes faster than cold water. "This happens because the hot water is so close to being steam, that the act of throwing it into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets. (Hot water is less viscous than cold water - listen to the sound it makes when you pour it in the sink.) The small water droplets have a large surface area which allows for a great deal of evaporation; this removes heat quickly. And finally, the cooled droplets are so small, that they can be easily frozen by the winter air. All of this happens before the water hits the ground. Cold water is thicker and stickier; it doesn't break up into such small pieces when thrown into the air, so it comes down in large blobs."

So much for scientific theory. To me it was just plain fun and it might just be the way I celebrate Groundhog Day/St. Brigit's Day/Goddess Brighid's Day from now on.

So Happy Cheap Thrills Day to you.

And no matter what Groundhog Phil saw in Punxatawney this morning, there will be 10 more weeks of winter here in North Dakota. Oh, joy.

"S. Bridget", artist uncredited

There are so many beautiful images of Brighid/Bridget on the Internet and I have used a lot of them my previous Imbolc posts. Here are the links:


2009 (two posts): and

And 2010:

"Brigid", artist uncredited