Chrimble-Litha (that Two-Headed Beastie).

How’s that for a google-dodging title SEO spammers?

It’s late Sunday afternoon, and I’m alone in the cottage, bar the furry critters, who feel absolutely no need to give me anything resembling personal space.

After 3 solid days of perpetual rain – of mythological proportions, mind*, I’ve gathered around me a fairly impressive fortress of books, journals, candles, and tarot decks. Because when it’s too torrid to leave your house, nose-diving into books is usually my moste fitting plan.

intensemerlin
Merlin sends his regards. Or at least he would if he wasn’t so intense, and otherwise engaged.

There’s a trail of herb books, recipe books, and make-your-own-preserves-wines-and-pickles books; and of course novels too, scattered about the rooms. Much of the detritus culminates on the dining table, because it seems to be where I sequester myself the most. I find myself moving between books, according to whatever shiny tidbit grabs my attention.

I’ve felt myself withdrawing from the interwebs more, even though I also feel pulled towards writing here. But I’ve had to use my time and energy in other ways. I’ve been rooting myself more deeply in the quiet, and in a sense of purpose that’s entirely, necessarily, mine. That’s all required less noise and distraction. Less input, and more focused output. More producing, less consuming, (but more on that in another post).

It may be that my stepping back has also got something to do with the rising energy of the season. For we are hard upon the heels of Chrimble-Yule.

summercourtyard

Or, in my part of the world, it’s that strange, two-headed, and somewhat discombobulating beast: Chrimble-Litha. For imagine, dearest Northern Hemmers, celebrating Yule on your 21st of June, amidst honeysuckle and bee-song.

Does that provoke a slightly out-of-sorts, topsy-turvy feeling, mayhaps?

As a not-Summer person, I’m actually surprised by my undiluted love of midsummer, (it’s only after that, generally speaking, that Summer falls to intolerably hot and sweaty pieces).

troilus
DA – ‘Troilus’, blooming now in my moonlight garden. The scent of which I compared to a “slightly creepy-sickly lolly, like aniseed crossed with old attic”. Someone more sophisticated and knowing than I summed it up properly though as DA’s characteristic myrrh scent.

Litha has such a lush and swoony loveliness. I just want to kick back and be languid, sip prosecco, nibble waterymelon, and spend twilight and dawn on a beach, chatting with friends and swimming in the sea.

This rare and specifically seasonal sociability is quite useful to engage for Chrimbly family gatherings, I find.

But Chrimblemas. This is of course the entire focus of the wider culture around me. And I feel the gentle gorgeousness of Litha gets a bit swallowed by the rabid consumerism and all-out madness of what has become (mostly for there are exceptions of course) an overtly secular and a-spiritual festival season here in Australia.

Which probably has me sounding like a grinch. But non! I adore Chrimbletime!

booksbookshop
Let this be evidence of my deep, abiding affection for The Chrimbly season. Found in an op-shop, and it lights up and flashes all over, as no PG-rated bookshop would ever. And “Book’s Book Shop” – I mean I couldn’t let that one go. Others around me are alarmed by how much I delight in this piece of chrimble-tat. I’m such a heathen.

But…being a witchypoo enamoured by seasonal rhythms, I long for a Yule under a frosty sky; hearth-drawn and fireside with the scent of pinecones and evergreens, woodsmoke and spices. With a view of sparse, witchetty trees beyond the candle-lit windowpane. For Chrimblemas is such a cozy and magical festival, and (to my mind anyway), carries its truest and best lineage of spirit and practice when it’s homed within Yule and the Winter season.

This is me shamelessly dangling for an invitation…

So, here in the great Southern land, instead of snowflakes and evergreens, I string stars (my favourite symbol) and suns around my home. I place poinsettias by the front door, and I shall make raspberry-vodka liqueur (ohmygiddyaunt!), bake lavender and lemon biscuits (in the shapes of hearts – and yep – stars), and stitch a Summer picnic quilt for a tiny niece.

And my main focus remains throughout the season, upon the handmade (mostly by others on etsy and the like), because I truly believe in how we spend our dollar/energy as consumers is one of our most powerful means of activism. And that less is often more, because there’s a peacefulness in the savouring of a few beautiful, and thoughtful things.

The Moon and I have compiled our list of films to watch, which include Love, Actually, and Little Women. We watch The Muppet’s Christmas Carol every year, (because it’s our favourite of all the Chrimbly films). And because Kermit and Dickens! (my life-long crushes). And Michael Caine fuhgoodnesssakes!**

We try to make it our own as best we can. Which means shutting out the noisy sales pitches of Big Business. Although I don’t remove myself entirely from the wider culture, despite the dissonance with the climate. But Litha is where I’m more firmly grounded in this season. After all, this is the land I’m in and on, whatever the cultural overlays.

There are so many weavings and mendings, old narratives and new, hybrids and mutants; colonisers and emigres. This place, mixed in with my spirituality, history, and ancestral paths. A funny old soup, it is.

I see all my Northern friends beginning to prepare for the season, on the instagrin and elsewhere. In truth, it makes me want to jump through the screen and join ’em, (still waiting on that invitation ; ) But I’m determined all the more this year to embrace where I am, and the beauty of that. Because it is deliriously lovely here.

I’ll spare you the whole “quel year!” thing.

But, still…quel year!

I’m very bloody tired, in truth. 2017 has been long, and arduous, and trying in a deeply Saturnine way. But there has been deep transformation, and change, and a smidgen of renewal. There’s still a long way to go. Before I sleep.

And it looks as though 2018 is going to be a big year. Indeed.

But more on that anon, sweet dears. I must go and check on my experimental (let’s emphasise the mental, here) elderflower champagne that’s brewing in a quiet corner of my kitchen. It’s intended for gifts, but I may start it all over again because I’ve been left in a great deal of confusion by a proliferation of recipes that contradict one another to an alarming degree.

elderqueen
Elderflower, from my garden. Look at this empress of flowers! It’s tricky to convey her giantess proportions here, but she is great indeed.

Most of said recipes seem to be found via The Guardian, on the blogs of middle-aged, pipe-smoking, tweed-wearing englishmen; all exclaiming “jolly-wots!” over yeasts, brewing times, moon-phases, and blossom immersions. I’m feeling cross-eyed and recalcitrant, and just a little bit sweary about it all. I do like my recipes to be a little less arcane and rarified, and with a dash of common-sense. I suspect the recipes of “old wives” may yield more satisfying results than all this pomp and theory.

The upshot is, that my efforts thus far may well end up being shampagne, that’s not elderflowery in the least, but just undrinkable. We shall see.

On that note, if anyone has had successful results making elderflower champagne, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you, and any tips/recipes/solace you may have to offer!

But for now, best of the season to you friends! Whichever you’re in. xxx

 

 

 

 

*our rainwater tank was nearly empty on Friday evening, whereas now, it’s close to overflowing. That’s a formidable amount of water, all at once. This is very exciting for me, because it means voluptuously indulgent baths in the middle of not-bath season! O happy day!

**And let us not forget Miss Piggy, and the book-keeping staff.

8 thoughts on “Chrimble-Litha (that Two-Headed Beastie).

  1. I enjoy the conversational style of your online journaling here. Really I do. I’m afraid I’m all left hands in the kitchen. A kitchen is for keeping clean and organized, for me, and I know I’m the minority in this. And our kitchen, unfortunately is need of some updating, as we were commenting on our circa 1959 countertops just this morning. I’m afraid I cannot help in any way with Elderflower Champaign, but I would love to try some with you and I would be ever appreciative of the talent and patience it took to make it. It seems my place in the creative world lives in the ethereal and esoteric clouds of concepts and dreams and I’m so fine with this. And 2017? Saturnian? It was a year of a Saturn opposition for me. Everything felt shrouded in a black, dark, muddy haze. So, yes, I’m working on relationship to Saturn that works for the next transit. Maybe some mud walking shoes. Ugh.

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    1. Oh, Nicole! I do know what you mean by needing an update in the kitchen! My kitchen has been variously described as a “joke”, an “accident”, “a kitchen only a hobbit could love”, “claustrophobic”, “eccentric”, and “you’ve got to be kidding me! That’s a kitchen?!”, and “challenging”. There are others too, perhaps not entirely repeatable. At best it’s been described as “cute”. I describe it as hell’s kitchen. I frequently lose patience in there.

      Saturn opposition – ugh. I hear you. I’ve had Saturn sitting right on my ascendant. Such fun. Along with Chiron opposite my natal Pluto (a transit to which I refer to as “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”). Astrology does actually help one’s sanity, at times. Just to be able to put a name to the madness!
      Not sure what they call them in the US, but I do think we could both do with some gumboots, (galoshes?) xx

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  2. oh, I can only imagine the cognitive dissonance induced by celebrating yuletide at local midsummer-tide… I do not know if I could manage it at all. I’d likely end up inverting the celebrations to match the actual weather/solstice of the land on which I lived, but that doesn’t solve interacting with others in places where it actually is winter at yule. insoluble…

    on the topic of that rose scent… I once described the smell of myrrh as half wet dog, half dusty old apothecary shop, so there’s that. (for the record, I do like myrrh.)

    your light-up book shop—adorable. it’s like a book shop that moonlights as a strip club, decorated for the yule holiday. who could argue with the odd, existential charm of this? I have sisal polar bears and mercury glass trees. thus, no room to talk about anyone’s else’s xmas tat!

    I’m very impressed by anyone who even attempts to brew something like champagne. my answer to this would be to buy champagne and also elderflower liqueur, and combine the two as needed. yeast hates me. your elderflower bush is so spectacular, too—I’d be inspired by it as well to make, well, something or other. probably something idiot-proof, like cordial or tonic or elderflower biscuits. if your “sham-pagne” turns out, you should be wickedly proud!

    consider yourself permanently invited chez moi, should you ever be in the vicinity of maryland…I think we all should meet up in europe, somewhere we could be assured of properly wintry surroundings. (start buying lottery tickets now…)

    enjoy your midsummer bathing and roses!

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    1. I think that’s the perfect description for myrrh! And I very much like myrrh…that lovely musty, comforting scent.

      And my chrimbly bookshop I’m sure must double as a strip joint…not a bookshop for introverts then ; )

      As for the elderflower champers – I definitely need to make something more idiot proof. I did buy some champagne yeast, (as opposed to baker’s yeast), but I don’t think I left the flowers in long enough. It’s definitely bubbling and fermenting away at this stage. But I’m determined to have another stab at it all. Because I’m a sucker for punishment!

      I’d so love to make elderberry wine, but the birds always get the berries.I haven’t the heart to throw a net over it all.

      Thanks for the invite : ) I’d be at yours in a heartbeat! (here’s your chance to hide!). Oh for a proper wintry Yule, knocking back some bubbles! xx

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  3. I feel just as you do … that midsummer is gorgeous (although come January I’ve had enough of it, and the heat by March just makes me feel despairing, and it’s not until May that things go back to tolerable) but despite the beauty of December it would be endlessly lovely to have a proper White Christmas/Yule with all the accompaniments. Especially as I am not a beach person at all ever. But I blame all the old Girls Own storybooks I read as a child, they were English and full of traditional winter festivities, and I have always felt that I lived upside down and inside out because of it.

    I wish we had some of your rain. We have your heatwave instead. Ugh, it’s like February weather here right now.

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    1. I remember all the Girls Own stories! And yes – tales of that ilk. I was always drawn to the British and Scandinavian stories, which of course offered impossibly snowy and cozy images of Yuletide. When I was really little I would gaze out the window around this time of year, willing with all my might for snowflakes to magically fall from the sky…heheh. In NSW, that was like waiting for Hell to freeze over
      ; )

      Sorry to hear that it’s like Feb where you are – not fun. I believe those of us who recoil from the heat in this part of the world could come up with a name for that moste particularly oppressive season of Jan-Mar. It is its own kind of torrid stewpot of a season. xx

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  4. i remember the first Chrimbo that we spent in florida — it was extremely odd to see plastic snowmen arranged around palm trees — so i can appreciate the climate oddity of a Chrimble-Litha.

    finding myself nodding along with the whole inward trend away from the interwebs….powered mostly by our lack of functional internet (again)…but at the same time feeling the compulsion to write here/there. it’s something of a conundrum but i’m blissfully content to get on with all things analogue in the interim.

    i attempted to make dandelion wine a couple of years ago…it was successful, although in the end, perhaps too successful…it turned out more like a liqueur than a wine, truly you might have been able to strip paint with it…and far too sweet for my liking. The recipe said that the yeast should bubble for two days…mine went on percolating for over a week which explains the high-test alcohol content. Ultimately i was afraid of blinding people so it went down the sink. *sigh*. I have a lovely old recipe book that my Nanna gave me, with elderflower champagne in it…perhaps i’ll give it a whirl this spring. I feel like it’s something i ought to be able to do.

    i do envy your Chrimble-Litha abilities to craft lovely herby, flowery things for gifting…that must be counted as a ‘plus’ on the side of a midsummer Chrimbo.

    sending oodles of love…xoxoxoxo

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    1. I do feel that maybe it’s especially around the Solstice periods, that we need to regroup and get that quiet more. There’s something about these times that pulls at me to be in that quiet space. But I do think I want more and more of it these days, in general.
      Perhaps I need a dose of your interwebs, Mel. I think sometimes it’s easier (or not easier perhaps, just more likely to happen)when we have to adapt to externally imposed limits, and be more thoughtful about being on the internet. It’s quite freeing in a way, when we can’t be connected so immediately and instantly.

      How much I love the sound of your dandelion wine! That’s clever of you. I’m still at the very (very) basic skills level when it comes to home-brewing. I’m rather afraid that my elderflower champagne is in fact elderflower shampagne at this point. Or more specifically a cross between elderflower lemonade, and elderflower beer. Eep. I think it will be drinkable, so perhaps it’s just a matter of, um,…”rebranding”, (*snort*).
      I’m actually going to have another go today with making a new batch, (now that the rain has stopped and the blossoms have had a good dose of sunlight for a couple of days); because the science nerd in me is keen to tweak the experiment. And the child in me loves to get a big bucket, and brew a magic potion!

      So much love to you, dearest one. xxxx

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