One of the things we’re really passionate about at The Dispensary shop is supporting local producers, artists and craftspeople, whenever we can. And we thought that it would be great if we could introduce them to you, so you can find out a bit more about all the talented people that help make our shop the vibrant and lovely place it is!
So we’re starting this year with our friend, Maria Silmon. As it happens, it’s Maria’s birthday on 2nd February, which is also the solar festival Imbolc. Maria celebrates the solar festivals and is also an artist, crafter, reiki and sound healer. We are very happy to stock Maria’s beautiful cards and her book on Solar Festivals, in addition to her handmade copper Jewellery.
We asked Maria to explain a bit more about herself – what inspires her, what informs her art and craftwork and also her ethos for life, so over to you Maria!
“Creativity is my act of prayer and I currently explore this through photography, videography, digital art, copper work, Reiki and Sound Healing.
I acknowledge that I am a spirit having a human experience. I hope to make a difference and to act from my highest good through work that has purpose and meaning.
The 8 Solar Festivals are the 8-spoke wheel and framework upon which my days, weeks, years rotate. At each festival I take a 3-day holiday (Holy-Day) so I can focus on the energies of the sacred time and mindfully observe, while remaining an open channel to gain insights and suggestions that might fuel further creativity.
Each festival has its own signature and energetic atmosphere. My favourite is the cross-quarter festival of Imbolc, partially because it falls on my birthday, but also the joy of seeing the brave new shoots and flowers of the snowdrops, and the hope of life returning that they bring. Imbolc, meaning ‘New Milk’ or ‘In The Belly' relating to the pregnant ewes, can also relate to cleansing away the winter, and in many traditions the people have gathered at sacred wells to cleanse and refresh their energy for the coming Spring. It is the time of Brigid as patron of cattle, poets and smiths and of Mary the bringer of light.
Picture above: The Brigid Cross, traditionally made on Imbolc Eve. The old one is burned, and fresh reeds are plucked to make a new cross for the new year, which is placed above the front door to protect the house and household.
Imbolc falls between the 1st and 3rd of February bringing the first stirrings of Spring. With the slow return of the solar energy, the earth receives a ‘jolt', a ‘quickening’ to awaken it from Winter’s slumber - as though an invisible switch has been ‘turned on’ and growth begins again.
I base the core of my work around a great appreciation of nature - against the framework of the ebb and flow of the solar festival wheel of the year.
Having celebrated the festivals in this way for over 30 years, I have made many pieces of art and poetry, videos and writing during these times which I plan to compile into an online resource and a book in the future 😀.
Meanwhile I have created a set of 8 wild flower mandala pictures - one for each of the solar festivals. For this process I mindfully walked in nature at the time of each festival, and collected the wild flowers available at the time. I photographed each flower individually and whilst maintaining the integrity of their natural form, built intricate digital collages of the floral collections into mandalas.
This one is for Imbolc:
From a collection of notes and writing from observations of the festivals over 30 + years, I have distilled a little booklet entitled ‘The Eight Solar Festivals and the Wheel of the Year’. My aim was to make it an introduction into the structure of the festivals and the benefits of celebrating them, adding a little bit of folklore too. It is illustrated with the 8 wild flower mandalas.
(These 8 images are also available as luxury eco greetings cards and prints.)
Over the past few years I have been learning about sound and frequencies and have qualified as a Sound Healing Practitioner. I am fascinated by the fact that everything living gives off measurable energy waves, which translate to frequency, vibration and sound. Studies show that even our thoughts give off vibrations and frequencies. The vibration most beneficial to cultivate for all is the vibration of love. The frequencies and vibrations of the sound healing tools can be used on people, plants, animals and places alike to help bring back balance and harmony.
"If you want to know the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration."
- Nikola Tesla
At the times of the Solar Festivals I go out into the woods with intention and with my Sound Healing instruments and - merging a love of film making and sounding, I capture an imprint of the energies of that festival, imbuing the videos with healing benefits for the viewer.
Sacred TIme Sacred Place Sacred Sounds Sacred Intention
Maria is also a familiar face in The Dispensary shop:
“I enjoy helping out in the shop from time to time; I particularly like the social aspect of meeting people and enjoy helping them when I am able. I get an extra buzz of excitement when someone brings one of my pieces of work to the counter - whether my Solar Festival Booklet or cards, or copper jewellery. It is a pleasure working with the team and being part of a community-based hub of health and wellbeing.”
Pictured above: A selection of Maria’s handmade copper Jewellery available in the shop.
Thanks to Maria for more info on the solar festival Imbolc, taken from her book The Eight Solar Festivals and the Wheel of the Year.
Imbolc: 1 – 3 February
"A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows"
- St. Francis of Assisi
Imbolc, meaning 'in the belly', heralds the very beginnings of spring. Another name for this time is Oimelc, which means 'new milk’. This phase on the wheel of the year denotes that the sun has returned sufficiently to ‘quicken’ nature’s life force into awakening. As the frosts begin to recede, the grass begins to grow again, creating fodder for the pregnant ewes with which to produce milk for their forthcoming lambs, hence - ‘in the belly’.
The 'quickening' describes the moment of ‘awakening’ of the seed buried deep within the frozen earth. With the renewed light, the earth thaws, and the seed is 'quickened' into action. In an instant, in a sudden awakening from a deep sleep, the seed shifts from dormancy to life’ it’s quiescent state has come to an end and the insatiable drive for growth towards the sun has begun.
This analogy can be paralleled with our own energies as well as to the ‘seeds of thought’ which were meditated upon through the quietude of winter. These seeds suddenly receive life force to awaken them as something tangible, and within them, just like a seed, is contained great potential for manifestation on the material plane.
In the Celtic calendar, this festival honours Brigid, also known as Bhride or Bridie. Brigid is often depicted with cattle. She is said to preside over their wellbeing as the bringers of the ‘new milk’, providing sustenance to their newborn. She is patron of creative ideas and projects of all kinds and of smiths and poets. At this time especially, we can call on Brigid to bless our creative endeavours.
As the watery sunlight gathers a little more strength, and is present a little longer every day in our skies, the freeze suddenly lifts, if just enough to begin a thaw on the high ground. This in turn sends melted ice down from the mountains and hills, into streams, gathering momentum as it races to meet rivulets, then rivers, and flowing on towards the sea. Hence Imbolc is also known as the time of ‘washing the face of the Goddess'. As it falls, the freshly flowing water passes over her form, awakening and enlivening her surface. New life begins to stir.
At Imbolc we visit wells and springs and leave offerings to Brigid. By washing our faces in the pure and scintillating waters, we can symbolically ‘wash away the winter’, and wake up renewed to spring. Along with Mother Earth, we cleanse ourselves, and renew our energy to begin new growth into spring.
In quiet meditation, allow your creative mind to focus on the Goddess and on the gifts that this time of year brings. Find prophetic words and poetry forming in your mind. Wash in the clear, cool waters, and experience refreshing sensations of renewal. If you can brave it, fully submerge yourself in the invigorating waters, and with gladness in your heart, jump through the portal from winter to spring.
Snowdrops and crocuses brave the frost. The Rowan tree cheers us with its bright red berries.
With a big thank you to Maria and wishing her happy birthday, we sign off with one of Maria’s poems inspired by Imbolc.
Oh! Rowan Tree Bridie’s Tree
Majestic in your symmetry Bless me with poetry
Turn my words to jewels.
Oh! Rowan Rod Bridie’s Wand Decked in a red band
Bless me with skill of hand Let my creativity be fluent.
Oh! Rowan Berry Bridie’s Cherry Red as flame
And the Blood of Mary Bless me with imagery
Let my mind be illumined!
- Maria Silmon, 2002
You can find Maria’s cards, copper jewellery and solar festival books in The Dispensary shop, 25 Skinner Street, Whitby.
For more info about Maria please visit: