The Rich-Yule Death of Sacrifice

The Yule Log Ritual

The burning of the Yule Log on the Winter Solstice is a tradition of northern Europe, perhaps originating in Norway. There are many versions of this tradition and they always include finding a log, decorating it, attaching wishes/desires to it and burning it on the day of the Winter Solstice, usually at sunset. I have a preference regarding rituals involving desire: if it´s something I want to come to fruition, I bury the item that symbolizes the desire to plant it in the earth, or float it on the river. If it´s something I want to eliminate permanently I burn it and sometimes I might scatter or bury the ashes too.

There are many opinions on what makes a ritual and I offer mine here, to provide context as to why we are performing this particular ritual in our clan, this year. I reject the sociological distinction between the sacred and the profane as a product of, and a justification for, religion. Pre-religion, no such ´dichotomy` existed – all existence was sacred. However, it was also accepted that existence included visible and invisible realms, in dynamic relationship with each other. All archaic indigenous cultures recognized hierarchies across both realms and described Supernatural elements in various ways. For my own, practical purposes, I regard the Supernatural as a collection of non-carbon based living principles or entities, that form part of the web of life; some have higher-level organizing functions and others, not so much. A mundane act, such as decorating and burning a log, is elevated to a ritual act when it is performed with the intention to interact with the Supernatural in some way. Anyone can do it and make it stick.

Winter Solstice

In modern times, the winter solstice is generally viewed as the beginning of winter, which is another mark of our separation from the cycles of nature. The darkest part of the year is from Samhain to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Thereafter, the days grow longer, initially by only a few minutes in each 24 hour period, imperceptible to our human senses, but providing essential information to plants and other life-forms as they stir to life. We only begin to notice the change in light around mid-January, which brings us to the edge of spring on the 1st February. (Spring equinox being the mid-point of spring.) To our ancestors, the winter solstice marks the return of the sun, literally, which they would have celebrated in various ways, most of which have now been co-opted by organized religion and long forgotten. The seasons and cycles remain and acknowledging them, however you choose, still brings you into closer interaction with Nature and Supernature.

In performing rituals grounded in Nature and the cycles of the seasons you enliven dormant genetic patterns and express them in a fresh way, waking up ancestral memories to bring forth lost wisdom. We had a little taster of this as we discussed our ´Rich-Yule logs`, Dean said: Oh, good to know we`re going to burn them on our fire, so I won`t make mine 15M long. An innocent throwaway comment, or the echo of ancestral voices? According to some sources the tradition began in Norway, where Dean´s maternal grandparents were from, where winter solstice was celebrated with a giant log being hoisted onto a great fire in the village.

Our ancestors celebrated the return of the sun at the winter solstice and they used their imagination to project characters onto the Supernatural powers they observed and their narrative drive to create the stories of their lives. Bereft of this interaction, the sun still rises, the days lengthen, but without the charge of experience the life force is weakened and winter sleeps through spring.

Mourning

This year at dawn on the day of the summer solstice, we scattered my parents ashes around Mother Pine in the woods here. It was a simple and beautiful ceremony, with Dean, my brother and his wife and two young sons. This completion stage of mourning for me began on the Day of the Dead, when the cemeteries here throng with people visiting their deceased relatives with flowers and special cream cakes, known as ´nun’s farts`. My father would have laughed heartily at the idea of us eating nun’s farts on his grave, but as none were available here, we just followed the local custom in our own way and had a drink with them and Mother Pine and the denizens of the woods.

There is no grief or sadness in this stage of mourning – more of a kind of loving formality to it. My parents and all my ancestors rest in a state of non-living coherence and I feel their attentiveness. They bring gifts of insight and guidance, as well as memories that are not my own. Yet, I felt strangely unsettled, like the pull of the mercurial glue between the worlds tugging on my mind. I wanted to give something in return. I want to honour their lives and their deaths and recognize the sacrifices made by all my ancestors, willingly or not. I realized that this is a requirement for the completion of mourning.

But, what can you give to the dead?

The Death of Sacrifice

The answer came, quite literally in a flash, as we were walking the dogs just after sunrise on the last day of the Snaketamer shift. It was grey and raining – it’s rained every day this month, which is quite unusual. Suddenly, as we walked into an open field the sun burst through the clouds and trees, low on the horizon lighting up the landscape for just a few seconds before disappearing. It sounds kind of dramatic, but in that moment I knew that the best gift I could offer them was the Ritual Death of Sacrifice.

The idea that you must sacrifice something important to you, even your life, to a higher authority, in order to get something you already have, has been around for a long time. It might have originated in the myths of the dismembering of a primordial being to create the universe, which could have been a genuine gift, offered without expectation of anything in return. But that was not how the priests interpreted it. The word ‘sacrifice’ comes from two Latin roots, sacer, meaning ‘sacred’, and facere, meaning ‘to make’ or ‘to do’. So sacrifice would mean, ‘to make sacred’ which was job security for the priests.

Sacrifice has gone mainstream since ´Jesus gave his life for our sins.` Sacrifice is now an every day expectation; ´You can’t make it without sacrifice,` or ‘ It has to hurt to work.` I’m sure you are well aware that the sacrifice of adults, children and animals is as alive today as it was in the ancient world, especially as it’s openly flaunted.

Giant statue of Molech, erected by the Vatican at the entrance to the Roman Coliseum

Sacrifice works as a twisted threesome between the sacrificial victim, the sacrificer and the higher power that must be appeased. Those who commit or order the sacrifice, are compelled to appease the Supernatural entity because they have convinced themselves that ´it` is the source of their power. In other words, they have made their survival dependent upon the notion of sacrifice and these rituals of appeasement.

That begs the question: what does it take to slay the egregore of sacrifice?

I´m opting for the tried and tested methods of fire and famine, boosted by the three Supernatural weapons that can only be wielded by the Luminous Child: playfulness, gratitude and innocence.

Fire is obvious, you burn the log, rich with symbolism. Famine means starving the beast, burning away all memory of sacrifice from your mind and never letting those thoughts back in. The only way I can do this is to make it into a game. It also requires authentic, heartfelt gratitude for the death force, to free it from the grip of the egregore.

Freedom of Death

In our modern society, death receives only the briefest of nods in plastic funeral parlours and sterile crematoriums. His contribution to life is unacknowledged. He is trapped in an artificial limbo, force-fed on unripe and unwilling victims, unable to fulfil his destiny in turning the wheel of life. With a full belly and no welcome from the living, death is a poor ally, yet without death these parasites and predators would live forever. Even death needs a bit of guidance in these dark days.

As I was contemplating the freedom of death, my friend GreenVVood sent me his astrology reading for this month:

“Intensity and a deep connection to the D-Force (Death Force) are hallmarks of the constellation of the Scorpion. When referring to the D-Force however, many can become intimidated as they take death literally. The D-Force provides the opportunity for constant transformation, dying to the rigidity of who we were, or of whom others think we are, which of course leads to the inevitable rebirthing process of who we are as timeless beings of infinite awareness. In many shamanic cultures, rites are performed to initiate individuals into different phases of power in one´s life. In order to fully enact these rites of transformation, one must die to who one was before the rite was performed. Living a life of many deaths is extremely empowering and essential for any individual attempting to attain the Great Work.

With the Moon conjunct the Sun in the head of the Scorpion, the venom and transformational potency of this moment asks us intimately: do we have the courage to relinquish and die to what impedes us from truly being? Can we be authentically genuine expressions of individuated genius, birthing continuously in all moments? Do we have the courage and vulnerability to be truly ourselves, dying continuously in all ways that inhibit us from expressing this was of life?”

This is the time to welcome death to the party, to reconnect him with the fire of life and free him from the bondage of sacrificial rites. You really do need a personal relationship with death if you want to recommend your enemies to him, he´s not on WhatsApp. Not only that, but you might also want him to show up promptly, to ease the suffering of a loved one when they are ready to move on. And then there is your own completion and final transition. I’ve been making my acquaintance with death and when I’m ready I’d like to sit under a tree and invite him to wrap me in his black feathered cloak of eternal compassion and return me to the womb of the Great Mother.

The Rich-Yule Death of Sacrifice

At sunset on the winter solstice this year, our clan will perform the Rich-Yule Death of Sacrifice. For us it will be a 21 day ritual, but it does not need to take that long. Tomorrow, on the 1st December, each of us will find a log in the woods and decorate it richly and beautifully, but not with anything precious. As the days descend into mid-winter we will contemplate what we have willingly sacrificed in our lives, or been forced or duped into sacrificing and write it on a piece of paper and pin it to the log.

The sacrifice must have been personal, although you might not have viewed it that way at the time – you might not even have been aware of it, especially if it happened to you as a child. Childhood vaccines and circumcision are examples of how health and emotional well-being of children are sacrificed to the medical authorities, henchmen of the demiurge. Dean was lied to by doctors and bullied into sacrificing a parotid gland and his sense of taste to the medical mafia, supposedly for his health. I sacrificed my intuition and direct connection to the Supernatural in my 20s, when I decided to become a lawyer, so that I could ´fit in` and be ´successful.` These are just a few examples.

The yule log, carefully selected, lovingly adorned and covered in sacrifices becomes a substitute for the egregore of sacrifice we will burn it to ash and scatter it to the winds.

With thanks to Hecate.

Freya’s Sulphuric Necklace

In another post, Yellow Dock: Badger Medicine for a New Story I recounted how our dog Freya got a new tale and became my teacher. So, the other day, when she began digging again, relentlessly, all over the newly grassed loonie pad, I took notice. She knows so much more about the gods and nature spirits than I do, as she runs with them every day. This time she was eating clay, rather than roots, so I duly searched on ´Freya and minerals´ and it didn’t take long to uncover the story of the Norse Mother Goddess Freya and her signature necklace, Brisingamen.

Freya, the most beautiful goddess and supernatural embodiment of lust, fertility, battle and magic is said to have acquired the fiery necklace from four dwarves, that she stumbled upon in their forge in the borderlands. The necklace was so beautiful and her desire for it so intense that after the dwarves refused to sell it to her for gold or silver, she agreed to their exceptional terms and spent a night with each of them in turn. The rest of the story drivels on about how she felt ashamed after and eventually shrivels and dies under the standard Christian morality makeover. The necklace is a mystery, but then so is Freya. The dwarves are probably a later addition to the story.

As it happens, we have some friends here who have introduced us to the Bock Saga. The Bock Saga speaks of prehistory, long before Norse lore and Christianity. In this story, Frey and his twin sister Freya are the progenitors of the human species. I’m not familiar enough with the Bock Saga to know whether there is any mention of Freya having an actual necklace, but the metaphysical allusion is clear. The Saga tells, that as Frey reached puberty, he began producing ‘seeds’ and this was the signal that he was ready to receive the seed sounds, referred to as the alphernas beten.

I’m struck by the similarities between the described function of alphernas beten and the seed sounds known as bija in the vedic system. I think it’s quite likely that a root language emerged at the same time in different locations on the planet. Many researchers agree that the old vedic language originated from beyond the Indian sub-continent, but a ‘mine is older than yours’ mentality is not useful here. Coming (gulp) back to Frey and Freya and her magical necklace.

As Frey aligned himself with the vibrational frequencies of the sounds, he is said to have come into resonance with the primal wisdom necessary to maintain harmony on the planet, which he had to impart to his sister, Freya, so that it could be received and activated. According to the Saga, the intention of this incestuous coupling was to generate a system of procreation that maintained goodness and balance in the descendants of Frey and Freya. Much is made of the physical, biochemical properties of semen as the vehicle of procreation, however, the seed sounds as pure frequency are likely to have a far broader co-creative function. ….and what about Freya?

The bija seed sounds of the vedic system are also known as shakti mantras. They are used in devotion to the Goddess, but they also carry the vibratory forces of Nature that hold, resonate and propel the kundalini force, and shakti is also that power. Think of the mastery of a flamenco guitarist as he makes love with his instrument – there would be no music without his skill, knowledge of the musical language, the intention and timing behind every pluck and the she-er resonant perfection of the guitar, holding and amplifying the sound, his fingers moving up and down her neck….hold it right there!

The physical analogue to Freya’s Brisingamen is the human larynx.

It might not seem immediately obvious, but the human voice generates form, but not the form you have been taught to expect from the meaning associated with the sounds you make. Just look and listen. The connection between the mangled garbage that comes out of most people’s mouths and the ugliness that manifests in their lives is hard to ignore. The magical tongues of our ancestors hang silent as we burn the guitar for kindling – no wonder there are so many thyroid problems.

In his article, ‘Brisingamen, the necklace of Freya’ David Warner Mathisen makes the case for the Brisingamen being the Corona Borealis (Northern Crown) and the constellation of Bootes as Loki.

Northern Crown (yellow) Bootes and Viro from StarMythWorld

The Poetic Edda and other early Norse poems mention how Loki, stole Freya`s necklace and Heimdal, the watchman and the ‘most shining and whitest of gods,’ fought Loki and won it back for her. Mathisen’s goal in this article (so far as I can tell) is to prove that Norse and Japanese mythologies were based on the same constellations, however, he inadvertently highlights something else of greater significance. He points out that the Corona Borealis/Brisingamen is not located in the constellation of the Virgin, where it belongs, but is located the other side of Bootes/Loki, as he hovers over her. So did Heimdal get Freya`s necklace back or not? Or maybe, not yet?

If the human correlate of the Brisingamen is the larynx, then it follows that we lost our power of magical speech because Loki, the trickster and contriver of fraud, stole the necklace. As above, so below. The dreamtime of celestial events and mythology is not necessarily chronological and the stories they tell might play out over eons. The return of the necklace could well be an episode in the story that has not yet happened, as evidenced by the location of the Corona Borealis.

And who is Heimdal?

The authors of Hamlet’s Mill, say that Heimdal stands for the world axis. This is also known as the Shiva linga or skambha/stambha, the cosmic pillar of fire joining heaven and earth, which has at one end of it the Pole Star. Polaris is not currently aligned with Heimdal and this alignment is projected to occur within the next century, or at the latest by 3000AD – roughly in line with the predicted end of the Kali Yuga.

The Poetic Edda has this to say about Heimdal/Heimdallr:

“Heimdallr is the name of one: he is called White God. He is great and holy; nine maids, all sisters, bore him for a son. He is also called Hallinskídi [“Ram”] and Gullintanni [“Golden-teeth”]; his teeth were of gold and his horse is called Gold-Top. He dwells in the place called Himinbjörg [“Heaven-fells”], hard by Bifröst: he is the warder of the gods, and sits there by heaven’s end to guard the bridge from the Hill-Giants [Jotun]. He needs less sleep than a bird; he sees equally well night and day a hundred leagues from him, and hears how grass grows on the earth or wool on sheep, and everything that has a louder sound. He has that trumpet which is called Gjallar-Horn, and its blast is heard throughout all worlds. Heimdallr’s sword is called Head.”

In Norse mythology, the events of the end of the world/age are referred to as Ragnarok. The story goes that Heimdal signals the commencement of the final battle of Ragnarok, by blasting his horn. The gods fight their enemies and many are killed, including Heimdal and Loki who slay each other. Then a new game begins. There are, of course, many versions of the end of the world scenario. I have no doubt that an epic event (or series of events) is on the horizon, but I am also totally confident that the outcome is not predetermined. This would be absolutely pointless and utterly boring, to the gods.

The gods have already given us ALL their power, including the power to completely destroy ourselves as well as the version of them we have created in this age. They are infinite energy and will be reiterated, and the same goes for us. Once you get this, you can play. The only strategy you need is: where are you going to play and how are you going to win.

In this game Freya’s Brisingamen is one of the magical weapons offered to us – the ability to recover and deploy the magical language that creates form. This is a male/yang energy, available to both men and women, sol-fire, from Freya´s sulphuric necklace.

Freya and her sulphuric necklace of amber

First Six Years of the Garden

Year One in the Garden

We moved here in May 2013, into the cabin we built, and in the winter of 2014 we cleared about an acre of straggly pines, from a gentle south facing slope to the west of where we were renovating the old house.

Pines cleared for the garden, November 2013

Situating the garden was a big decision. We considered putting it closer to the house, which would have been more convenient, but it wasn’t feasible with all the building work going on. These pines were planted too close together and weren’t very healthy, but they had protected the soil beneath with a good layer of pine needles and other organic matter. There was a small creek the other side of the pines, which we thought we might be able to divert for water, but unfortunately it dried up after we cut down the trees and the soil was heavily compacted by the machinery. Since those early days we’ve learned a great deal about water management for the garden, mulching and improving the soil.

The situation of the garden has given us great pleasure – the views are amazing. In the winter of 2018, after we’d finally cleared the rubble from the house renovation we put in some salad beds and tomato trellises closer to the house. That was a good move as we were able to put in better soil and it’s easier to take care of the more tender plants.

In the summer of 2014, we began laying out terraces using the chestnut beams from the old house. We then covered the ground with straw for the winter.

West view, summer 2014
East view, summer 2014
South view, summer 2014

We had our first retreat in August 2014, with some great people and a lot of fun, including hay rolling from the field the other side of the house to the garden.

The hay-rolling race, August 2014

That first year we experimented with the Fukuoka method of natural farming. It was a near total failure. Perhaps it might work better in more fertile soil, or at least a garden that wasn’t already well-established with brambles and weeds. Anything that did sprout, was strangled or trampled before I could find it.

Our very first harvest was of knobbly carrots in September 2014, which was when we realized that our compacted clay soil needed some TLC.

Our very first crop of knobbly carrots, September 2014

Year Two in the Garden

Over the winter of 2014/15 we dug out the natural pool a bit more and began laying out the beds.

South view, with larger pool, February 2015

We also dug swales, in an attempt to keep more water in the soil. This was partly because we moved here in the wettest spring for 70 years! The track was a gushing wellie-deep river and the ground floor of the old house was flooded out. We were concerned about moving water away from the house and thought it would be a good idea to move it to the garden. So we dug ditches, put in drainage pipes and dug swales – then we had a drought.

It was somewhat gratifying to see the swales fill up in the spring of 2018, but we had a lot more work to do to keep sufficient water in the ground. We’ve lost too many young trees to drought. We’ve been off-grid since 2018, running on solar with a back-up generator and the system works really well, except for the fact that it’s a challenge to water the garden enough in the evening as the sun is going down. This year (2019) Dean put in a water tank that can be filled during the day, with a gravity feed water system for the garden that can be run anytime.

Full swale, March 2018

In 2015 we had broad beans, courgettes, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and some potatoes. We would have had more potatoes and corn too, but the wild boar came and ate it all! After that, we had to fence in the garden to keep them out.

In the spring of 2015 we put in an asparagus bed and tasted our first asparagus in May 2018. Fresh asparagus, picked from the garden and tossed in a little oil and grilled, served with a sprinkle of salt, is nothing like you buy in a supermarket. In fact, all our home-grown really does taste better and is more satisfying.

Freshly picked asparagus

Year Three in the Garden

By 2016, I was beginning to think that I might have been a bit over-ambitious regarding the productivity of a food forest/permaculture garden. This was nothing like suburban gardening. The main tenet of permaculture is that you work less if you work with nature, and whilst that is true, the reality of it is entirely context dependent….and with clay soil, there is no avoiding hard graft. We love blackberries, but it took us two years to dig them out of the beds and they are still springing up all over the paths in between. As we are surrounded by woods and fields, there is never a shortage of opportunistic weeds. Yes, a weed is just another plant in the wrong place, but by the time we finished weeding one bed, the next one was smothered. The digging meditation is an excellent way to root out those unwanted suckers whenever they show – as above, so below!

We made the decision not to use manure, after realizing that I’d had enough of dealing with other people’s shit! It’s been a real challenge getting enough organic material in the soil, but I felt that using too much cow manure would upset the balance of the soil and bring in too many parasites. Although our yields were low initially, we have not had problems with parasites, bugs and slugs. We are now using indigenous microorganisms and just starting with biochar, and it’s working well. Technically, I would say our garden is a mix of organic polyculture and permaculture, not that it matters what you call it if it works!

Year three was the hardest year – lots of effort and not so much return. We decided to bring in some fresh energy with some summer volunteers.

Year Four in the Garden

Year four was more hard work, mulching, weeding and watering. The swales were not sufficient and we decided to test an exuding hose system. It worked well enough, but we needed to put in more lines. Getting more water to the garden was becoming a priority. We put a pump in the shallow well in the barn (that had been the only well water supply for the previous owners, the bucket and chain were still here) and ran a pipe to the garden. That well ran dry in August. 2016 was technically a drought here, with a relatively dry winter and spring and no rain at all in the summer. We needed a better solution, but it would have to wait for another year.

On the plus side, the volunteers that year were wonderful. Their work enabled us to catch up and even get ahead of the game, enjoy some excellent company and share the peace and beauty of this place with a lovely young couple. For them, the cabin and surroundings were the perfect getaway and space for intimacy, with each other and the land. They set the Greenwood Standard, that we ask of from prospective volunteers.

With the extra boost of energy, I fell in love with the garden again. We went into winter without a mess of weeds laughing in the wind! And Dean and Jacob set up the chicken run, so we could finally get chickens. (We can’t let the chickens free-range, as the dogs will kill them.)

Year Five in the Garden

More volunteers – also wonderful and now firm friends! This was the year we began to make real progress. The garden began to look like a garden, instead of a heart-wrenching effort to scratch some vegetables out of the earth. We began boxing off the downward side of the beds, so they would hold water more effectively and more weeding and mulching.

This was the year we got our greenhouse. And what a beauty it is, lovingly and creatively built by Marcus and Dean, using what we had left from the house, with purchased roof panels and rafters.

Our volunteers also collected seeds and set up a seed bank. Most of our vegetables are now from our own seed.

Salvage greenhouse

Year Six in the Garden

This year (2019) the garden is doing great! It’s providing us with almost all of our vegetables, everything except onions and potatoes. Potatoes are just a magnet for the wild boar and they are good and cheap to buy here. And onions just don’t do well in our soil.

I’ve started everything off in the greenhouse from our own seeds and planted out when the seedlings are strong enough. Sowing directly is still hit and miss and a bit of a waste of seeds and effort. But the greenhouse makes it all a pleasure. I can potter around when it’s cold and rainy and this year we had broad beans, cabbage, broccoli, beetroot and kale in spring. We’re eating lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, squash and garlic and I was able to give plants away. We’ll have fresh tomatoes through until early December, as some plants are in the greenhouse and frozen and dried all the way through to next summer. It’s August and I have kale, broccoli, cabbage and more beets in the greenhouse, ready to go out in a few weeks.

Striped aubergine that matures quickly
Garlic drying before being stored
Sweet corn
White fleshed peaches, planted in 2014
Second lot of beets this year (we love beets!)
Tomato trellises
Green tomatoes

The big project this year was the water tank and exuding hose irrigation for the garden. Dean got it finished by the end of May, just in time for the hot spell. It is a luxury. It’s a 10,000L tank and we have three water structuring disks in it to keep the water fresh. It means we can water the garden and run the dishwasher or have a shower at the same time – the kind of things you have to juggle when you’re off-grid. It’s also meant that I can begin to plant flowers around the house, as they need watering in the evening too.

Dean with the water tank for the garden

Of course, there’s always more to do, but I’m really happy with what we’ve learned and what we’ve achieved in six years!

Dreamcatcher Tomatoes

We finally got to put up the trellis for the tomatoes. We’ve wanted to get them closer to the house for a long time, but first we had to build the house and clear the rubble. That’s taken a few years.

We used abandoned yurt poles for the main supports and washing line, with a couple of hula hoops to make the trellis, because that’s what we had. the dreamcatcher weave is an easy way to make the trellis and it’s eye-catching too.

The boxed in beds have a mix of our own compost, forest mulch and biochar. We have cucumbers, aubergines and lettuce planted in between and I’ve just sown basil and nasturtiums. Not much to see yet, but they are growing fast and strong.

I’m using indigenous micro-organisms and chicken shit tea for fertilizer.

Bumper crop

This year (2019) was a bumper crop for tomatoes, despite a surprize hailstorm on 4th July that caused quite a bit of damage. I cut out the damaged stems and fruits and they just bounced back. The plants in the greenhouse will provide fresh tomatoes until the first frost, usually the last week of November or first week in December. I’m currently freezing and drying about a kilo of tomatoes a day and I expect that we’ll have enough to see us through until the first drop next year. That feels great, as I know exactly where these tomatoes have come from and that they’ve been grown without any chemicals and with structured water from our well.

In the past I’ve usually grown cherry tomatoes too, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they are a bit of a waste of space. We prefer big tasty, juicy tomatoes that we can eat in salads, use for cooking and dry for later. I started all the tomatoes from seed in a propagator box in the (unheated) greenhouse in mid- March. I’ve found that there’s nothing to be gained by starting them earlier, as they need the increasing light following the equinox to grow strong and healthy.

This year I sowed three types of tomato:

Corazon de Buey

The ‘ox heart’ is a Spanish heritage tomato – it’s big, juicy and delicious, with just the right balance of tart and sweet, firm-fleshed, few seeds and the best for salads.

The seeds germinated a bit later than the others, they like a bit more warmth and they were slow starters, but once they got going……

Mighty Corazon de Buey, just picked
Corazon de Buey tomato, sliced.

Mucha miel

Another Spanish heirloom variety, with a slightly ribbed, irregular shape and a rich sweet, flavour. It’s a large tomato, with attractive green stripes as it grows. Despite its size, it’s my favourite tomato for drying, as it isn’t quite as juicy as the others and dries just a bit quicker. – (This is important as an off-gridder.) The flavour intensifies when dried, especially with a bit of basil and we’ll have these with spring salads before next year’s new crop. It’s also a great salad tomato and is a prolific cropper.

Mucha miel and Rosa de Berne tomatoes

Rosa de Berne

Rosa de Berne is a Swiss heirloom tomato. It’s a great all-rounder, with a beautiful rose-pink colour and it’s really sweet and juicy. This is a very useful tomato as it is a heavy cropper and ripens early. It doesn’t have the acidity of the others, but it still tastes of tomato. In fact, all these tomatoes are intensely flavoursome.

This is a great tomato for cooking slightly and freezing for use in soups and stews in the winter, but will go nicely with salad too.

They are all winners!

Easy Five Star Chicken Coop

Greetings!

My name is Zubynelgenubi, Zubi to my friends. I’m a gallo piñeira and I’m the king of the five star chicken coop, that was made by my valet Mister D, following my instructions.

Zubynelgenubi

Mister D had a hard time finding a good design, one that would be relatively easy for him to make and that would meet the needs of me and the starlets. Mister D said that many of the designs on the internet either looked very pretty, like Dutch barns and New England houses, or like prisons. After much consultation, this is what we put together.

Chicken coop and run

The structure is made of waterproof board and the sheets were cut in half at the woodyard. That meant they could be fitted into the back of the truck easily. Mister D cut out the openings for the door at the front, the window, the side for the laying boxes and the larger door at the back. Mister D wanted to make the back door large enough so that he could clean out the coop easily. He then fixed the window flap and the door and attached the boards to the softwood battens, so that it could be fitted together in the pen.

We have a lovely large pen, with an open area and some woodland, with a secure fence around it. The fence is to keep the dogs and other predators out. There are foxes, wolves, weasels, stoats and wild boar around here. We also have a secure run with a roof on it attached to the coop. Mister D bolts the door on the run at night to keep us extra secure, but this way we can all come out and scratch around in the morning if he doesn’t get up on time to let us out. (You know, I do my best but sometimes I’m crowing for a good hour before we get let out. I wonder whether Mister D might be a bit deaf.)

We have flags and windmills around the pen – Matron calls it homestead hen party – but it is really to stop the young ones flying over the fence. It works most of the time, they see the flags flapping and the windmills whirring and it breaks their attention. We have had a couple of near misses, so I’m extra vigilant now. (This is before Mister D upgraded the coop.)

Homestead hen party

A key issue for us chickens is perches. We feel safe at night when we can perch above ground, as we still have the ancestral memories of roosting in trees to keep away from predators. Most chicken coops don’t have enough height, because we need to be able to jump up to the highest perch without banging our heads on the roof.

Our perches are made of natural wood fence posts – they are rounded and feel just like smooth logs. There’s two of them, which avoids aguements and gives me some peace in the house. They’re lovely and comfy to roost on. The nesting box is off to the side and gives the ladies some privacy when they go to pay the rent – two eggs a day.

Perches and nesting box in the chicken coop

These are two of my girls, Bridget and Blondie, out by the feeder. The feeding area is covered, to protect it from the rain. Mister D tried putting the feeder in the run once, but it attracted too many sparrows, who then couldn’t work out how to get out. We don’t mind sharing our food with sparrows and blackbirds, but we don’t want them in the house at night!

Bridget and Blondie at the feeder

We also have a cabbage swing, which is a lot of fun! That’s Blondie, Diana and Ginger you can see behind me – I am in charge of security as well and I’m not sure about that machine being pointed this way.

Zuby and the Starlets

We also have a beach hut. It was our first home and quite sweet, but not really big enough and it fell apart after the first year. It serves as another nesting option too, just in case some one needs extra privacy! The beach is where we have our dust baths, which is absolutely essential for our health and hygiene. Luckily, Mister D and Matron have a wood burning stove in the winter and they cook outside in the summer. Mister D then sieves the coal out and gives us lots of lovely wood ash. The tarp keeps it dry in the rain – come rain or shine we need our daily dust bath.

Zuby by the beach hut

I know lots of people don’t like to name their working animals, but it really makes life more enjoyable for us all. We are well aware of our place in the pecking order, so to speak, but a little bit of common courtesy goes a long way and it makes it much easier for us to communicate with you.

Salvage Greenhouse

DIY greenhouse from salvage

This was our first greenhouse effort:

Greenhouse wreckage

Several hundred euros, several hundred pieces to put together, eighty-five pages of instructions and fifteen minutes of wind!  Obviously way too suburban for our environment. We salvaged some bits of polycarbonate to make cold frames and the mice ate everything – now we have cats.

Next, we tried a walipini.  Walipinis don’t work in clay, with wet winters.  Most of the posts on the internet that show how cheap, efficient and easy walipinis are do not mention the need to consider your local environment and climate, especially amount of rain in the rainy season, very carefully. The walls collapsed and we’re now using it as a pit for rubble from the house build.

Finally, a greenhouse to be proud of, from Dean and Marcus “Rockstar” of the North:

Salvage greenhouse

It’s not completely salvage, we bought the corrugated polyester and acrylic for the windows and the roof rafters. but the rest is made from leftover wood from other projects.  The front pillars are chestnut, leftover from the house.  We would not have been so ambitious as to use them ourselves, but Marcus said: what do you think about using those beams on the front?  It will be beautiful.  And it is.  The doors are salvaged from a collapsed yurt.

The first stage of the project was to rebuild the stone wall next to the barn.  It collapsed in a storm a couple of winters ago.  It happened just as we were contemplating going off-grid and the only bit of the wall that collapsed was right next to the electricity meter.  It was a huge mess.

Fallen wall

There wasn’t much space to work with and we were concerned that the foundation of the wall and the barn had been weakened by the electricity pillar – the wall was very unsteady.  So Marcus put in a buttress, using all the old stones and lime mortar.  It was his first stone wall and by the time he’d finished he could pick the perfect stone for each place just by instinct.

Rebuilding the stone wall

The part sticking out from the barn is an old bread oven, with the access in the barn – there are people around here that still use outside bread ovens – and a well.  The well in the barn was the only water for the house when we moved here, with a bucket on a chain.  We had originally thought about putting a separate roof over the bread oven and well and joining it to the green house, but Dean and Marcus decided that a single roof would be much better and we can’t use the bread oven anyway, as all our winter wood is in the barn.  We use the well in the barn for the garden, as it is shallow and doesn’t take as much electricity to run the pump as the deep well, but it also goes dry towards the end of summer, so we have to work on another irrigation system for the garden this winter.

Greenhouse beginnings

So, the frame went up:

The roof went on:

Greenhouse roof

And the windows in.

Greenhouse from the front

The greenhouse is well-sheltered.  It is on the north side of the wall, but open to the west and shaded by an oak tree in the summer.  Two of the windows open for ventilation, as we seem to go from cool to hot very quickly.  Spring is very short these days. My aim is to use it to get seedlings started earlier, although it is currently home to tomatoes that I repotted from the garden.  It’s December and we still have fresh tomatoes!  We have a small butane heater which we’ll use when the nights get colder.

Greenhouse bed in winter, with coriander, beets and artichokes

With love and thanks to Marcus and Miriam.

At the bus stop

Enantiodromia – coming your way

Enantiodromia etmology

From Greek: running in opposite ways

Enantiodramatic reversal

A slight play on words, but a way of describing a recent experience that I want to signal, so you can recognize it when it comes your way.  Our Aeonic Mother is using this cosmic force to get Her experiment back on track, as events get to the point of ‘supersaturation’ when you ‘just can’t do it anymore’ you can bet that the situation is about to change dramatically, and delightfully for those of us who really do live Her Story.

kill-a-way-a-life

This recording is a bit rambling and unedited  – it has several pauses while I gathered my thoughts.  I’m trusting that I’ve addressed the main points one way or another…..

Wild Juicing

Foraging for weeds

Whatever the weather, our day starts with walking the dogs and (sometimes with cats in tow) and sometimes foraging for weeds. We are lucky to live in an area where there is no intensive farming, no crop spraying and lots of hedgerows, meadows and verges, where the wild plants flourish. Our own land was not occupied for 40 years before we moved here so, although it is hard work clawing out a few patches for cultivation, at least I know that our soil is relatively uncontaminated.  In the height of summer, when it can be very hot and dry, there’s not usually so much to be had from the wild, but we usually have plenty in our garden then.  Foraging and wild juicing is more of a winter activity for us.

I started juicing two years ago in spring when the cleavers came out en masse and almost begged to be juiced. I bought a Lexen Manual Juicer, as the electric one some one left us is so big and noisy and I have Luddite leanings. What a joy this little machine is. It makes beautiful, rich and slick juice and is so satisfying to use – and easy to clean. I much prefer it to the electric version. Chopping the plants and fruits and pushing them into the machine and watching the juice and pulp come out is a kind of meditation. 

Wild juice ingredients

Wild juice recipe

  • 2-3 crisp apples
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • Large thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • Handful of coriander/cilantro leaves

And several handfuls of one or more of the following:

  • Beetroot
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli leaves
  • Cabbage (red or green)
  • Carrots
  • Chickweed
  • Cleavers
  • Coriander/cilantro
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Kale
  • Lemon balm (not too much as it’s very strong)
  • Mallow (not too much as it’s very gooey)
  • Milk thistle leaves
  • Parsley
  • Plantain leaves
  • Radish leaves –
  • Red Clover
  • Swiss chard
  • Wheat grass
  • Yarrow (not too much as it’s pucker-power astringent)

For our tastes the apple, celery, ginger and coriander/cilantro is the basic blend and then whatever greens are available. This juicer prefers hard fruits, technically it’s a wheat grass juicer, so anything too mushy doesn’t work so well. We grow broccoli, kale, swiss chard and cabbage for most of the year, hopefully the ginger, coriander/cilantro and apples will make it this year and we find the ‘weeds’ on our walks.

 

Fresh green juice

Biological power plants

The human body is a biological power plant, as it transduces multiple energy sources for different systems and processes. Oxygen is used as the primary fuel to break down food, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins in order to power movement and essential physiological processes, such as digestion, respiration, mitosis and repair. The nervous system is considered to be primarily electrical, driven by the polarizing actions of the sodium-potassium pump in response to stimuli and then back to the resting state after external stimulation. The nervous system uses about one third of the body’s overall energy capacity, regardless of physical activity or lifestyle choices. Except in cases of injury, poisoning or chronic illness, most ‘nervous conditions’ can be significantly remediated through diet. However, more recently some researchers are considering that the nervous system is powered by light.  And what about the senses????

The human body also creates energy. I cranked my manual juicer with kinetic energy, not hard enough to make me sweat (thankfully), but just being alive creates thermal energy. And then there is light. All life forms radiate light, which is electromagnetic energy. Some electromagnetic energy is visible to the naked eye, like rainbows or laser beams, but most isn’t.

Your body grows new retinal cells every two days, new skin in six weeks, a new liver over an eight week period and new nerve cells in a matter of months. So what stops us from regenerating and why do we all show signs of ageing, with advancing years? Those are big questions, with many answers, but in biological terms your body needs three things:

  • the right raw materials from which to construct new cells;
  • sufficient cellular energy to enable it to use the raw materials;
  • a working communication system, so it knows what to do and when;
  • a guiding narrative that attunes you to health and regeneration.

If any one of these three components is depleted, as they mostly are, you don’t heal and regenerate as you were designed to do and eventually you succumb to total systemic failure – otherwise known as death. Additionally, cells, systems, habits and even civilizations all go through a natural process of apoptosis, signified by chaos, and that’s one way of looking at the current conditions. The question is: what do you do about it? You can just find yourself a safe haven and ride out the rest of you life as best you can and there’s plenty to be said for that approach, I nearly ended up there myself. But funnily enough, when I found my safe haven, here in Galicia, I began to perceive and experience life in a very different way. Life gushes, sprouts and oozes through every pore in the earth and atmosphere here and I want more of it. This leads back to the plants, the wild plants and weeds……

Have you ever stopped to consider why you need to put so much time and effort into weeding the garden? The weeds always win! They are stronger, better adapted to the environment and they are prolific, whatever the conditions, the weeds survive and return more quickly than cultivated plants – they are the power plants. That’s because they grow as Nature intended, they haven’t been hybridized for yield benefits or so they can be transported over long distances, irradiated and still look tasty on a grocery store shelf. Domestic vegetables are designed for profit and wild plants are designed for life. Wild plants contain at least 5 – 10 times more nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, phytochemicals and biophotons than supermarket vegetables. 15 grams of nettles contain far more nutrients than 100 grams of healthy romaine lettuce. I’ve long suspected that one of the reasons I didn’t do well on a vegetarian diet was lack of minerals. I’m very reluctant to use supplements, as I regard them as suspiciously as I do every other processed ‘food – made for profit, rather than health. Several studies have shown that the mineral content of wild edible plants is higher than their commercial equivalents, which stands to reason if the wild plants are collected from soil that has not been depleted through industrial farming methods. However, there is another reason, that is even more significant and that is light.

Eat light!

Biophotons, that is light emitted by life, were discovered in 1923 by Russian scientist Professor Alexander Gurvich, who originally named them “mitogenetic rays”. German biophysicist Fritz-Albert Popp proved their existence in 1974 and subsequently developed biophoton theory based on observation to explain their possible biological role and the ways in which they may control biochemical processes, growth, differentiation etc. This work is now continued in a network of research laboratories in more than 10 countries, although it remains outside of make-believe mainstream science.

The radiant light emanating from animals and plants that is too faint to be seen by the naked eye. It would be like seeing a lit candle in the dark from 20km away, but it has been repeatedly photographed using the Popp designed photomultiplier devices.  In humans it appears to be most concentrated in the forehead, the throat and the chest area.

According to Popp, living cells and DNA use electromagnetic waves to communicate and transfer information. Substances and unnatural electromagnetic fields, disrupt the natural cycles of light emission causing loss of coherence and poor intracellular communication, so that the body is unable to generate new healthy cells. For example, Popp found that cancer cells were not attuned to the rest of the body ie. out of synch, dancing to a different tune.

A biophoton is always emitted before each of the appproximately 100,000 biochemical reactions that occur per second in every cell in the human body. There is no biochemical reaction that takes place without the preceding biophoton signal, which is why it is considered to be the ‘steering system’ for all the biochemistry that takes place in the body. The communication system of the body is more akin to fibre optics than copper wires.

If you can find a very local source of edible wild plants, give wild juicing a try and I’m sure you’ll notice the benefits in a few weeks. Popp considers the biophoton content to be of far greater importance than just the nutrient or caloric content of a food freshly picked, as it brings coherence back into the body. Health and regeneration is just not possible without communication and coherence. Eating plants with a high biophoton content helps correct the deficit caused by electromagnetic pollution and reconnects you with nature – another part of the story. Wild edible leafy green plants have the highest biophoton content of all foods available, as the ancient alchemists surely knew.

Green Lion Devouring the Sun

Microbes

There are said to be around 100 trillion microbes in the gut, bacteria, fungi and protozoa and they are part of the digestive process. Essentially, they break down different foods in various ways, by providing enzymes that the body does not produce itself. A healthy microbiota (community of microbes) results in good health and an optimized immune system. Conversely, lack of microbial diversity in the gut has been implicated in many conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, eczema, heart disease and obesity.

The microbiota is adversely affected by sugar substitutes, such as aspartame and sucralose and saccharin, medications and antibiotics and food additives in processed foods. However, it will recover quickly when these are stopped and natural wholesome foods are introduced back into the diet.

I take the view that the microbes in my body and those in the environment act as one super-organism and are in continuous communication with each other. So eating local wild foods enhances my connection with nature and supports my intuition and regeneration (which depends on signals from the environment), as well as my health.

Water Management and Dealing with Your Own Shit

Enough of everyone else’s shit yet?

The first year here, our neighbour farmer dumped a trailer load of cow manure on the garden, when I wasn’t around, and told my husband that I asked for it! Well, that was an error of communication, but it really brought it home to me in the most graphic way: I had to be really clear that I wasn’t going to take anyone else’s shit anymore. I have plenty enough of my own. The technical term is ‘humanure.’

SIGNS OF CORRECTION

Within four hours of my having written, “I wasn’t going to take anyone else’s shit anymore” a dear friend posted this on Facebook.

When you’ve had enough of everyone else’s shit.

Now, I haven’t spoken with this friend in a few months and I hadn’t planned on writing about the farmer dumping the cow manure. This friend does not follow the Sophianic Narrative either, although he is a sovereign individual and lives a natural lifestyle. So what did this little ‘coincidence’ signify to me? It’s PAM banging on the drum of the endopsyche – don’t you feel it too? Haven’t you had enough of this shit?

Sophia has agency. She’s had it since the summer of 2016. This means She is using all means available to get your attention – it doesn’t matter to Her whether you know She exists or not; you are still one of Her children. For those of us in PT, She’s having a bit of fun, showing that She can play with the search engines. She can eliminate the xenosh and their collaborators at any time, of course, but our wise and generous mother is giving us the opportunity to participate in that pleasure with Her and that necessitates refusing to take on other people’s shit and dealing with your own.

mulching

The first principle of Heathen Permaculture, as I defined it is: feed the soil. But what do you feed a goddess? Obviously, She eats anything, the earth is a closed system and everything is ultimately recycled, but some things are clearly more beneficial to the garden than others.

So, that leads right back to dealing with your own shit. We do that quite literally here. All our ‘humanure’ goes on the garden, along with waste from the chicken coop and all our vegetable peelings etc. (after they’ve been composted for a year or so). Some one told us that the best way to make a bed was to dig the top layer of topsoil away and put in a layer of straw and a layer of compost, then put the topsoil back. We’ve done that on a couple of beds this winter and have just planted potatoes and brassicas.

I’m not saying compost toilets and ‘humanure’ for everyone, but it is what we need to do to live here and it’s really not so bad.  Flushing toilets seem quite strange to me now. We have compost toilets and a tree-bog (the loo with a view), no flushing toilets, no municipal sewage. (We have a reed bed for grey water.) And it’s quite obvious how dealing with your own shit has benefits.  I just noticed that the asparagus is coming up already!

Tree bog – known as: the loo with a view

Our indoor compost toilet

The soil looks good this year, finally. It’s taken four years, to get to the point where we are growing around half of all our vegetables and that will increase now we know more about what works and what doesn’t. I feel that it’s paid off taking it slowly and not giving the soil ‘indigestion’ by making improvements too rapidly. A friend nearby got his soil to what seemed like a perfect state within two years, but then the mice moved in to that lovely soft, rich warm soil and ate everything. He still hasn’t got rid of them. In using our own waste to feed the earth, we have moved at the right pace for the biochemical relationship between us and the soil to develop; we are giving the soil all the information and nutrients it needs, to give us exactly what we need in terms of medicine and nourishment.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

We tried mulching with wood chips on several of the beds two years ago. They are good for weed suppression, but there’s no tree cutting company around here, so we had to go and get them from the wood yard. This was a lot of work and we ended up with lots of hard wood and it takes too long to break down. We will eventually use wood chips for the paths – after we’ve dug up all the brambles – but they didn’t really work on the beds.

Our main source of mulch is leaf mulch from the oak woods close by and grass cuttings in the spring and summer.

We started the garden in the winter of 2014, by clearing some straggly pines over about an acre, laying out beds and digging in ditches and swales and putting in a series of drainage pipes. This is after we cleared the trees and as we started laying out the beds with beams from the old house. We did a lot of digging.

Making the beds

I used to call the garden the ‘food forest’, rather optimistically. Four years later, it’s clear that what we are doing here is technically more organic polyculture than permaculture, but let’s not quibble over terms. Now, we just call it the garden – ‘la huerta’ as they say here.  We haven’t been able to work on the garden as much as we would have liked, we also had a house to build and retreats to run and it was a big help to have some volunteers last summer, but we are making steady progress.

water management: Swales, ditches and drainage

The year we moved here, in 2013, was said to be the wettest in 70 years. It rained torrentially, more or less continuously, from January to May. The track to our house was an ‘over-the-top-of-your-wellies’ river and the mud was relentless. As the soil here is clay, we put in a lot of effort over the following year, digging ditches and swales and putting in drainage, to prevent water-logging. Then we had very little rain, with drought conditions in much of Galicia for the next three years.

Last year was very hard on the garden, with a highly unusual late frost at the end of April, that wiped out the grapes, all our fruit and potatoes, followed by more drought. We lost quite a few trees too. We put in extruding hose, which worked quite well, but will need to be supplemented with water storage tanks, as we can’t run the water for the garden and water in the house at the same time (we are now off-grid). We were almost to the point of filling in the swales, as they were just filling up with weeds, when this year the rain returned. Two weeks ago the reservoirs were all 90% full, and it’s still raining. We have more than enough rain to get us through the summer now, but we really need the rain to stop so we can get out and do some planting.  This summer we will need to do some swale maintenance.

Still, what a joy it is to see our swales and drainage working properly. All that work finally paid off!

We put a drain across the track and this takes the run-off in a buried pipe 80M or so down to the pool. The rain from the green roof of the house joins this pipe and also goes to the pool, you can just see it to the left of the deck. The pool dried up completely last summer, although the summer before people were able to swim in it. If it dries up, that’s it, as we’re not going to pump water from the well into the pool.

Track drainage

Full pool

The swales are filled from a ditch across the brow of the hill and they are linked by drainage pipes that also go down to the other end of the pool.

Full swale

Swale overflow drain

The overflow from the pool goes to the little creek at the bottom of our property. One day, we’d like to clear the creek, to help it flow better, it’s really overgrown at the moment.

Creek

In completion with Matangi, March 2018

Natural Shampoo That Works

Natural Coconut Milk Shampoo

We are not on municipal water here and we don’t have a septic tank.  All our grey water goes into a reed bed, so we are careful to minimise our use of chemicals so that we don’t kill the reeds and create a stink!  In most cases the natural option is cheaper, healthier and more effective – although you might have to experiment a bit to find out what suits you.

Shampoo is an issue if you’ve been used to the sleek, glossy, full-volume, untangled hype of the chemical stuff, especially if you have long hair.  But it’s not worth dying for!  Most commercial, non-organic shampoos contain SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) and they are probably the most dangerous of all personal care products.  Just because there is no immediate noticeable effect doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful in the long-term.  Why take the risk?  In animal tests ( and why have that on your conscience for a shampoo?) they have been found to cause eye damage, depression, breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, immune system damage, corrosion and death. According to the American College of Toxicology states both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children’s eyes.

DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine) are also in most main brand shampoos, often appearing as Cocamide DEA or MEA, Lauramide DEA, etc. These are hormone disrupting chemicals and research has shown that they are implicated in the increase in liver and kidney cancers.

I want to make life easy for my immune system, not more challenging!

I’ve been mostly underwhelmed with the organic shampoo options.  They are expensive, hard to find here and tend to leave my hair feeling life-less and just not that clean.  I prefer my home-made option, which we also use as a body wash and hand wash.

I have long hair and I don’t take care of it – it gets sun-damage over the summer and windblown in the winter.  I don’t condition or colour it and can barely be bothered to get it cut once a year.  But it’s healthy and shiny and virtually without grey.

Natural hair

coconut milk shampoo recipe

Here’s the recipe:

  • one can of organic coconut milk (400ml)
  • 400ml liquid castille soap
  • 200ml vegetable glycerin
  • a few drops of essential oils of your choice ( I use rosemary mostly)

Mix the ingredients and pour into a used shampoo bottle.  This makes quite a bit, so I put the rest in the freezer and defrost when I need a refill.  You only need to use a small amount and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s quite runny.  It lathers really well and smells gorgeous.  Initially I used aloe vera to improve the texture of the shampoo and neutralise the pH, but the end result was still a bit ‘claggy’ which built up over a few weeks.  The vegetable glycerin gives a squeaky clean feel and adds to the shine, with no build up.  I wouldn’t go back to store bought stuff even if it was available and I had cash to throw at it.

Castille soap is made from olive oil and caustic soda.  Dr Bronner’s is the most well-known brand, but there are others – I usually use the hemp and almond version. You can make your own, and I’ve tried this, but it makes it a lot more work and the result tends to be inconsistent as it’s temperature and humidity dependent – sometimes it’s too thick and other times too runny.