Category Archives: Myth & folklore

Little Jack

Well we once had a cow (that jumped over the moon) called Big Jack, but this is about Little Jack.

Although I have less and less time over the years to indulge in my love of celtic history and mythology, I always find a little bit of time at this time of year to celebrate an ancient celtic tradition even in a small way.

In the northern hemisphere where the Celts lived this time of year is Samhain, or the beginning of winter and was celebrated on 1st November. What we know today as Halloween is believed to originate from Samhain festivities, but as we are in the southern hemisphere it doesn’t make sense to celebrate the start of winter when it is actually finishing. So for us, the first of November marks the arrival of summer and so the Celtic festival of Beltaine (meaning “bright fire”) is more appropriate. (In the the northern hemisphere Beltaine falls in May, hene the May Day festivals).

At Beltaine, the Celts lit the last bonfires of the winter and would have moved their livestock into summer paddocks – which is something we did a few weeks ago – so even in our amateur hobby farmer ways, we mark the summer and recognise the changes it brings to the land and our animals. Ironic that the festival means ‘bright fire’ given that we also prepare our properties and houses for the start of the bushfire season here.

Beltaine is also associated with my favourite celtic symbol, the green man orgreenman.jpg Jack-in-the-Green and Halloween is known for that other jack the jack-o-lantern. So, at this time of year which we know as Halloween/Beltaine, I like to carve a little pumpkin as my own little last bonfire of the season to mark Beltaine and the start of summer. It’s also a great excuse to make some tasty pumpkin risotto!

So here is my mini-celebration of all things celtic, a little guy who I like to call little Jack

This is by no means my best pumpkin carving, but Fionna sweetly gave me some free time this evening while she napped, and I allowed myself a whole half hour to carve the pumpkin and get the risotto cooking! This was speed carving. Then a wee bit later I managed to light the lantern and get it outside by the front door *just* as it went dark. Phew!

little jack

little jack lit


The universe is pointing me in the right direction again, ok, so it’ was just a televison program but …

It was also great to get my first immersion in my little festival of India, with a great  documentary on television tonight about the search for the ancient mysterious mythic city called Shambhala (Shangri-la).  My little mythic soul trembled and hung onto every mountain scene.  The armchair travellers ultimate wish was granted and rewarded with a view right into the mythic heart of the land of heart’s desire too. 

bring India near

Hmmm … August.  Even with the topsy turvy southern hemisphere seasons to confuse my natural instincts, this time of year sees us pining for India since that magical three weeks in 2001.  The feeling to return is as constant as the monsoon.  It starts a cycle of your life once you go there that sees you constanly ask yourself when will we go again?  Yes, the classic ever-recurring question.

Given that we can’t go, I’ve decided to do everything I can to bring India to us.  Food, myth, belief, ritual, art, music … culimating with a celebration of Diwali on October 21st at the start of our holiday (at home).

My first step was to finally order a book from a small publisher in the UK (Persephone Books) that specialises in the forgotten female authors around the 1940s/1950s.  There seems to be a whole tribe of great novels by great women who fell out of the publishers orbit and onto planet ‘out-of-print’ and never returned home.  The book,  The Far Cry by Emma Smith is a story about a young girl who travels to  India with her father.  Some of the reviews I have read cite Smith’s writing as summoning up the essence and sense of India.  Air mail can seem to take forver.


Orange moon

Yesterday morning as I was letting the dogs outside  at 6am, I saw the spookiest moonset.  On the horizon over the sea, (in the direction of the usual summer sunset) in total darkness was a vividly orange moon peeking out of darkcloud.  It was like a nightime sun or an eclipse.

Then tonight, the full moon rose in the east over the hills, large and quiet, just rising into the pastel sky in it’s friendly way like it does.  There was definitely a promise of spring in it’s colour.

Seeing it made me think of the Harvest Moon but I read on the Horizon site that a Harvest Moon is later in September. 

I love the old names for the moon, but I still struggle with the southern hemisphere dilemma.  I found following the seasons was natural in the UK –  you could almost feel each solstice-  Yule is so Decemberish that even the most disconnected person can remember that, but here I seem to be having trouble staying in touch.

Anyway, all this has made me realise that I need to refresh my southern hemisphere knowledge and perspective .  Handily this week on Sunday, I planted a load of sunflower seeds just before the full moon which according to permaculture and biodynamic theory is pretty good timing for seed planting.

I can’t find out much about the correlation of old moon names with the southern hemisphere and I’m not sure if our winter moon at this time should be the February equivalent (Old Moon)…or whether it really is the grain moon, but if we do swap, here are the Southern equivalents:

Old names for the monthly moon
January: Old Moon, or Moon After Yule (july)
February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, or Wolf Moon (august)
March: Sap Moon, Crow Moon or Lenten Moon (september)
April: Grass Moon, or Egg Moon (october)
May: Planting Moon, or Milk Moon (november)
June: Rose Moon, Flower Moon, or Strawberry Moon (december)
July: Thunder Moon, or Hay Moon (january)
August: Green Corn Moon, or Grain Moon (february)
September: Fruit Moon, or Harvest Moon (march)
October: Harvest Moon, or Hunter’s Moon (april)
November: Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon (may)
December: Moon Before Yule, or Long Night Moon (june)