Tag Archive: Irish

I’m back!

I’m back from vacation; look at some of the awesome photos I took!

via I’m back!.


My birthday is coming up, so I have decided to get a new tattoo in celebration.

It’s not a major birthday, but I haven’t gotten myself anything in years, and it’s been several since my last one. I think it’s about time.

I have a few ideas roaming around in my brain (in no particular order):

Harley Quinn diamonds. A set of three in black and red on my upper arm or thigh.
An Irish Barn Owl. Mom’s favorite animal is the owl, and I would like to have a stylized (Celtic) owl on one of my arms.
A rose and a shamrock, one for each grandmother.
Tetris pieces, falling down my leg. Tetris is my second all-time favorite video game following The Legend of Zelda (I already have 2 Zelda pieces on my leg).
Kitty paw prints, one for each of my girls.
Brigid’s Cross
Generic silhouette of a black cat. Cats are my favorite animal, and I consider them my guides.
What do you think?
What should I get?

Here in the Twin Cities, we started celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday the 16th. We can’t hold a Sunday parade downtown – plus our local Catholic diocese told us we shouldn’t have  Sunday parade (what with it being The Lord’s day and all).

A Saturday parade in St. Paul is a BIG deal. Even with the temperature being 28-32 degrees, the sun was out and walking and waiving to the masses kept us warm enough not to notice.
On top of that, my sister and I created this AMAZING steampunk-inspired costume. I had a lot of compliments all day – including during the parade!


There was a sad realization, though, that both my husband and I had: Neither one of us enjoys the post-parade pub crawl anymore.
It used to be a ton of fun.

But now there’s drama and such. Plus, we just can’t drink like we used to.
I get all tired and mopey.
He gets cranky.
We don’t enjoy being with ourselves or anyone else when we’re in that state.

So we called it an early night, asked sober-sister to drive us home, and ordered a pizza.
It was a really good decision

Who was St. Patrick of Ireland? (stolen from The History Channel website)

St. Patrick: Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

St. Patrick: Guided By Visions

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.

To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

St. Patrick: Bonfires and Crosses

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.

Countless works of art have depicted the bearded saint crushing serpents under his feet, and pointing to the distance with his staff as if to banish them from his sight.
But there is little evidence that snakes were indigenous to the island.

Most folks tend to connect the snakes with the pagans of early Ireland. There are many tales of how St. Patrick wielded the power of God to subdue the pagan magiks. Stories of great [pagan] kings falling – either by conversion to the new Christianity or by death.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a huge part of my heritage.
My family is from Ireland, and the majority of them are Catholic. I was raised Catholic.
I have a lot of respect for the saints and stories.

But what I could never get behind is the notion of a wrathful God.
Free will? Nope, too bad. You made a wrong choice and must suffer in the worst way possible.
Free will? Only if you follow how I tell you to follow.

This new religion just comes in and says, “Hey guys, I know you’ve been worshiping like that for all these years, but, um, you’re totally wrong. And this new guy is, like, so right. You should follow us. Because, well, just because we say you’re wrong and we’re right. Ours is the only God. And if you don’t follow this new guy, you’ll, like, burn in hell. Oh, you don’t have a concept of hell? Too bad; you’re going there anyway.”

“Also, our God totally loves you, regardless of your tradition of following this other religion. But, um, he’s gonna smite you anyway. Because he loves you.”

God’s a jerk like that sometimes.
He totally loves you, but he’s going to hit you.
And then tell you that he’s only doing it because he loves you.


I’m part of the group that organizes the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade here in St. Paul. February and March are a BIG deal.

We have a new group of Shamrock Princesses, all vying to be the next Miss Shamrock, Queen of the Parade.
This year, because of my dance schedule, I really stepped back from too much responsibility – I used to help with the Princess Committee.

But, I still participated.
We sold buttons, made appearances, and sang silly songs.

We even made the local news (warning, earplugs may be needed).


2007 Miss Shamrock Coronation (that’s me on the end in the super-silky gown)


This is what I deal with every year.

This is what I deal with every year.


Samain or Samuin was the name of the festival marking the beginning of winter in medieval Ireland. It is attested in some of the earliest literture, dating back as far as the 10th century. It was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (~1 November), Imbolc (~1 February), Beltane (~1 May) and Lughnasadh (~1 August). Samhain and Beltane, at the opposite sides of the year from each other, are thought to have been the most important.

Samhain was one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar, marking the last harvest and beginning of winter. It was a time to take stock of the herds and food supplies. Cattle were brought down to the winter pastures after six months in the higher summer pastures. And it was also the time to choose which animals would need to be slaughtered for the people to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock because it is when meat will keep since the freeze has come and also since summer grass is gone and free foraging is no longer possible.

Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for Wiccans and Pagans it’s considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us. It’s a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it’s the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

By Sanhain, the Goddess has entered her incarnation of Crone. She is the Old One, the earth mother, the wise one we turn to when we need advice. She teaches us that sometimes we must let go in order to move on. The God, at Samhain, is the Horned One, the stag of great antlers, the god of the wild hunt. He is the animal that dies so that we may eat, and the grains and corn that once lived in the field before our harvest. We can honor these late-fall aspects of both the Goddess and the God in one ritual.

How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death

  1. For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of life and death. You’ll want to have on hand a white candle and a black one, as well as black, red, and white ribbon in equal lengths (one set for each participant). Finally, you’ll need a few sprigs of rosemary.

    Perform this rite outside if at all possible. If you normally cast a circle, do so now.

  2. Say:
    “Samhain is here, and it is a time of transitions. The winter approaches, and the summer dies. This is the time of the Dark Mother, a time of death and of dying. This is the night of our ancestors and of the Ancient Ones.”

    Place the rosemary on the altar. If you are doing this as a group ceremony, pass it around the circle before placing on the altar. Say:
    “Rosemary is for remembrance, and tonight we remember those who have lived and died before us, those who have crossed through the veil, those who are no longer with us. We will remember.”

  3. Turn to the north, and say:
    “The north is a place of cold, and the earth is silent and dark. Spirits of the earth, we welcome you, knowing you will envelope us in death.”

    Turn to face the east, and say:
    “The east is a land of new beginnings, the place where breath begins. Spirits of air, we call upon you, knowing you will be with us as we depart life.”

  4. Face south, saying:
    “The south is a land of sunlight and fire, and your flames guide us through the cycles of life. Spirits of fire, we welcome you, knowing you will transform us in death.”

    Finally, turn to face the west, and say:
    “The west is a place of underground rivers, and the sea is a never-ending, rolling tide. Spirits of water, we welcome you, knowing you will carry us through the ebbs and flows of our life.”

  5. Light the black candle, saying:
    “The Wheel of the Year turns once more, and we cycle into darkness.”

    Next, light the white candle, and say:
    “At the end of that darkness comes light. And when it arrives, we will celebrate once more.”

  6. Each person takes a set of ribbons — one white, one black, and one red. Say:
    “White for life, black for death, red for rebirth. We bind these strands together remembering those we have lost.”

    Each person should then braid or knot their three ribbons together. As you do so, focus on the memories of those you have lost in your life.

  7. While everyone is braiding or knotting, say:
    “Please join me in chanting as you work your energy and love into your cords:

    As the corn will come from grain,
    All that dies will rise again.
    As the seeds grow from the earth,
    We celebrate life, death and rebirth.”
    When everyone has finished braiding and chanting, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Is there someone you know who reminds you of a person you’ve lost? Have you ever looked into a baby’s eyes and seen your late grandfather looking back?

  8. Finally, ask everyone to take their knotted ribbons home with them and place them on their personal altar if they have one. That way, they can be reminded of their loved ones each time they pass by.


  1. Rosemary is used in this rite because although it seems to go dormant over the winter, if you keep it in a pot you’ll get new growth in the spring. If there’s another plant you’d rather use, feel free.

What You Need

  • Ribbon in black, red and white
  • A white candle and a black one
  • Rosemary

Soul Cakes

These are part of the traditional English Hallowe’en festivities. Traditionally these were flat round cakes flavoured with saffron, mixed spices and currants. Indeed, during the 19th and early 20th centuries children would go ‘souling’ on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) where they would request alms or soul cakes with the following song:

“A soul, a soul, a soul cake. Please god missus a soul cake. An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, Any good thing to make us merry. Up with your kettles and down with your pans Give us an answer and we’ll be gone Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate Crying for butter to butter his cake One for St Peter, two for St Paul, Three for the man who made us all.”

Soul Cakes were also part of All Saints’ Eve superstitions. It was believed that the spirits of the departed would return to their homes on this night. As a result candles were lit to guide their way and food and drink (including soul cakes) were put out for them.


Soul Cakes

A good pinch of saffron
Warm milk
6 oz. butter
6 oz. caster sugar (a sugar that is finer than granulated but coarser than powdered)
3 egg yolks
1 lb. plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
3 oz currants

Pre-set oven to 350 degrees F. Soak saffron in a little warmed milk. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolks. Sieve flour, salt, and spices together and add to mixture. Lastly add currants and drained saffron milk. Add more milk if necessary, to make a soft dough. Make into flat cakes, mark each one across top, and bake on a greased baking tray in pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until brown. (
_The National Trust Book of Christmas & Festive Day Recipes_, by Sara Paston-Williams.)

It’s been a long friggin’ past few days. The heat wave we’ve had up here is messing with my sinuses, my head, and my lungs. It’s been nice to be able to relax in the pool, but the air is still so thick and gross.

I was in a parade on Sunday. It was super hot, super sunny, and really awesome. I managed to keep mostly burn-free, though the backs of my legs got a little red (ok, a lot; it was not pretty).

And to top it all off, I had a minor freak-out last night. Somehow we got on the subject of Peanut, and my husband (who was sufficiently drunk) started crying. He’s not a crier typically; it takes quite a bit to get that kind of reaction. And I know the alcohol played a big part in it.
But this happened as I was driving us home from the bar. So I was tired, sore (bar stools just aren’t that comfortable), and dehydrated… and that happened. Of course, I start crying. Not only is it a normal reaction for me to cry when others do, but it was also my Peanut.

It is really hard to drive while crying.

When we got home I pretty much went straight to bed. I didn’t want to be up late anyway, which it was, but the emotional drain of the ride home was enough to give me a stress-headache that I just did not want to deal with. Just when you think you might be past that point, you aren’t.
It’s sort of the whole – each day it hurts less and less, until you realize it doesn’t hurt any more. But then, you feel terrible for not feeling bad, so the cycle starts up again – thing. SUX BAWLZ.

But, better things await. I have to push through this to get on with my life.
Dance class tomorrow and Thursday, up to the lake with my sister Friday night, party at the lake Saturday, home Sunday. A nice, full weekend.
Then we have Irish Fair the second weekend of August, and our Renaissance Festival starts up on the 18th.
I have friends getting married, friends having babies, and some vaction time.

I have some great blog-related ideas that will get posted soon – as soon as I figure out how to write them without sounding like an a$$hat or the like.

Until then, folks, enjoy the night; stay healthy, stay happy, and for the love of all things bacon – SMILE.

Well… another Grand Old Day parade has come and gone.
I am tired, sore, and burnt.

And not just any kind of burn, oh no. I am LOBSTER-GIRL (duhn-duhn, dun!)

As a pasty north girl, of western European roots, I find it difficult, to say the least, to be out in the sun for extended hours.

I did apply sunscreen.
And, for the most part, it shows.
My face is only slightly pink. My legs and one arm are still a cool shade of pale.
But the one side that got most of the sun is, um….. fire-engine red. My left should and right over my left breast. You can clearly see where my sash covered, as the burn is at a nice angle.

But it was a great day. It was beautiful and sunny and warm.
And now I need a cold bath and a nap.


You can tell we we having fun.

So… It was a pretty busy week for me, work-wise.
Our office has been crazy backed up. I mean, it’s good and all that we’ve been busy. Sales are up, and I have a nice cushy job-security thing going on. But it’s also so exhausting.

Which is why I am so excited about this weekend.

Tonight, I get a nice relaxing night in with hubby. We don’t get very many weeknights together, let alone Fridays. Tomorrow is a day off fr both of us, and one of our friends is having a house-warming party. We’ll know many people there, so it’ll be a good little get-together.

Sunday, though… Oh, Sunday.
It’s Grand Old Days in St. Paul!
My group will be marching in our first summer parade of the year. I have the vehicle magnets and our banner, so I’m pretty well set.
Love it!

I will be sore, tired, and probably sun-burned, but it will be worth it. This is my kind of party, and I love my Irish family!  🙂

Here’s our 2009 picture. I really wish I could find the ones from the last 2 years. I should have some good ones from Sunday, though. I think I may do a Sunday bonus post on that. 🙂

What are your plans for the weekend? Are you doing anything fun?