Celticsprite’s Blog

Crystal Healing and Magic
January 14, 2010, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Meditation and Healing

Crystals have been used for centuries to heal and to aid with magical workings. There are many things you can do with crystals, from simply placing one next to you while you sleep, to using their magical energies to heal yourself. I’m going to go over some very basic and simple ways to incorporate crystals into your lives.

Start by asking yourself if there are any crystals you are drawn to. If your unsure, go into any local new age shop, and play with their crystal collection. If you dont have any shops like this in your area, then I would look online. You might be drawn to a specific color, or feel of the crystal. Simply pick up the crystals, feel them, notice how they make you feel. Which ever crystal you feel drawn to, purchase that one. Start out with just one, to get used to working with them, and then you are welcome to expand your collection.

Once you’ve got your chosen crystal, at home, put it under some running water, this will help to cleanse the crystal of any other negative energies it might have picked up from someone else touching it. You want to make sure that you attune your crystal with your energies before doing any magical workings. If you have sage at hand, go ahead and sage your crystal as well. This can also be picked up at any new age store.

You might want to look up the crystal and see what it’s magical correspondences are. You might be surprised to find that the crystal you chose, has exactly the energies you needed at that particular time. Our intuition will always lead us to what we need. Once you have cleansed you crystal, now you may start to use it.

You may meditate with it and feel its energies running through you, feel the healing power of the crystal. Or you can do any number of things if you are not comfortable meditating with it yet.

*Carry the crystal in a pouch or wear it as jewelry to infuse your body with its healing energies.
*Sleep with the crystal under your pillow
*Add the crystal to your bath water
*Hold your crystal in your hands and gently breathe in its healing light through your nose. Exhale while visualizing dark light through your mouth

These are just some of the many things you can do with you crystals. Make sure and on every full moon to put your crystals outside in the moonlight to recharge its energies.

For more information about the healing power of crystals, check out this great book called The Illustrated Directory of Healing Crystals.


Book Review: The Path of the Priestess
January 11, 2010, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Reviews

This excellent book, is a journey of one woman’s path to the Goddess. Author Sharron Rose, at the start of her story was a dancer in the US. She had many great teachers who taught her many different dance forms. She really took a particular interest in a type of ritual Indian dance called Kathak. Before she knew it, she was on a plane to India to study this sacred dance with her new mentor and famous Kathak dancer, Sitara Devi.

Little did she know that this talented teacher of hers was a follower of the ancient Hindu Goddess. Once her lessons of dance began, so did her lessons of the Goddess. Sharron was taught all the ancient sacred arts of Hindu Goddess worhsip in India. She even had to wear a sari the whole time she lived there, which was five years. She completely transformed from a member of western society, to a goddess worshiping sacred dancer of India. Her story is truly remarkable and inspiring to all goddess worshipers today. She took a risk in a country she had not been and with a woman she had not met, and turned her life into something that’s extremely admirable in my opinion. She did what she wanted to do, regardless of what society or her family said or thought.

Upon her return to the US, she continued her quest to learn more about the Goddess. She then started to learn about the Egyptian Goddesses, particularly Isis. The life experiences this woman had on her journey to the Goddess is one people only dream of having.

At the end of this book she gives various Goddess meditations for you to try. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds inspiration through the Goddess and the story of her followers. If for nothing else, its a great story. This book is great for beginners on the Goddess path, or for advanced worshipers as well.

You can find it here on Amazon : The Path of the Priestess

“The Musician’s Guide to Brides: How to Make Money Playing Weddings” by Anne Roos
January 11, 2010, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Celtic Harp
Anne Roos is a North American Celtic harpist, whom I had the chance to meet through the Facebook network, a very active musician and good friend. In order to let you know more about her works I would like to share with you a brief quotation from her Official Press :

Anne Roos is a many-faceted performer who excels as a soloist in concert, as well as with her ensemble, with her years of experience and a wide range of choices from her music list. She is in great demand for corporate and private events and continues to be a favorite to play for weddings and receptions.

Anne’s CD projects demonstrate quality musicianship and versatility. Anne’s albums are unique–Her recent releases are actually little books with CDs tucked neatly into the back page.

Anne is now considered a wedding music authority, with her new book on the market, “The Musician’s Guide to Brides: How to Make Money Playing Weddings”. This user-friendly guide is written for the novice musician as well as the pro. It comes complete with worksheets, checklists, and more!

Published by Hal Leonard Books, this 324-page paperback can be bought at any book, music, or online store, including Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com. It can also be ordered directly from Hal Leonard’s warehouse, http://musicdispatch.com. Autographed copies of “The Musician’s Guide to Brides” are now available directly from Anne at her website, http://www.celticharpmusic.com.

You can also request autographed CDs from Anne, by purchasing them online at http://www.celticharpmusic.com. They are available at major online and store retail outlets, such as CDBaby.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and Amazon.com, too. Purchase downloads from iTunes.com and Amazon.com.

View Anne Roos’ entire song list, concert information, and biography at http://www.celticharpmusic.com

"All Over The Place" by Danny Carnahan
January 8, 2010, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Reviews on Celtic Tunes by Danny Carnahan

This articles was previously published on Mandolin Magazine by Danny Carnahan and posted under his kind permission. All rights reserved by the author.

Click here for printable notation for Janine’s Reel”

It occurred to me recently that many of my favorite Irish and Scottish tunes manage to work their mesmerizing magic using very few notes. I’m not referring to the number of notes crammed into eight bars of a given tune, of course, but to the surprisingly constrained number of scale steps the tune might be comprised of.

The Scottish tradition has delivered up hundreds of tunes originally written for Highland pipes, which are happily played on mandolins and every other session instrument nowadays. And every one of those tunes had to be played within the nine-note range the pipes are limited to. But whether a tune comes from the piping tradition or was originally set on a fiddle or a flute or a concertina, you’ll find that many are pleasantly compact. And this compactness helps both in learning a tune and in the fingers’ ability to pull it comfortably from memory.

Going back over some of the tunes I’ve presented in these columns, I was intrigued to find that none of them used a wider range than an octave plus four scale steps. Two tunes, “The Gravel Walks” and “Where’s the Cat?”, are only nine steps wide, or an octave plus one. And “The Pinch of Snuff”, while it does migrate among three different keys, is a mere six steps wide in each key.

One virtue of range compactness, I suppose, is that you can string these tunes together in medleys that change more dramatically in tonal character as they move from low to high as well as from key to key. But as for whether a tune is good or not on its own, the range doesn’t seem to matter.

While musing on tonal range, I naturally found myself thinking about Jim Sutherland, a Scots cittern player from Edinburgh who is one of the most colorful and inspirational characters I have ever copped a lick from. For decades, Jim has poured countless of his original tunes into the common session treasury. You can always tell a Jim Sutherland tune, whether you’ve heard it before or not. First, it’ll be all over the place on the instrument. Second, it’ll swing. Finally, it’ll practically compel you to learn it and play it yourself if you dare.

Years ago, I spent a month in Edinburgh hanging out nightly at sessions and hanging out daily with Jim and his musical cohorts, who were just breaking up a band called The Bogey Brothers and starting a new one to be called The Easy Club. Jim played a 5-course cittern made by Stefan Sobell that was almost always the loudest instrument in any session, no matter who was flailing away. Jim attacked his instrument with huge hands and a fervor that almost always resulted in several snapped strings during the evening.

It was from Jim and his bandmates, including guitarist Jack Evans, that I first learned the joys of swinging reels. After a month’s tenure in the sessions of Edinburgh, I came back to California unable to play them any other way for a while. And among the new repertoire I brought back were a good number of original Sutherland tunes, some of which are still pretty widely played in American Irish pubs.

In the late ‘80s when The Easy Club recorded their three albums and enjoyed a fair amount of success on the tour circuit, their big “hit” was their theme-song “The Easy Club Reel.” It’s a perfect set-ender, quirky, happy, and unexpected (and John Martin’s fiddle lead made it de rigeur among the fiddling set). But the Jim Sutherland tune I’ve always liked best is a slightly darker tune that he wrote about the same time as “The Easy Club Reel” called “Janine’s Reel.” If ever a tune careened all over the place, it was this tune!

For some reason, Jim always swung “Janine’s Reel” harder in the Edinburgh sessions than he did with The Easy Club. And that’s the way I hear it to this day. There’s no way to go at this tune in a wimpy fashion. You’ve got to mean it or it just won’t work. (A Quote from Celtic Sprite: Easy Club’s current line-up was Rod Paterson (vocals, guitar, bass); John Martin (fiddle, viola, cello); Jack Evans (guitar, bass, whistle, chromatic harmonica, piano); Jim Sutherland (drums, cittern, Sobell Semi, bass, percussion)

I enjoy playing this tune equally on fiddle and octave mandolin. On the fiddle I can emulate all of Jim’s triplets, which I’ve indicated here in the notation, but I’ve never mastered the precision needed to pull most of them off on the mando. For the triplet in the fifth bar of the A part, I pick the first note of the triplet, and then slide my little finger from the fifth to the fourth and back to the fifth fret without picking the other two notes. I’m not sure how that move will translate to a regular mandolin, but good luck. The triplet in the second bar of the B part I can manage with a regular pick-hammer-on-pull-off triplet move.

On the rest, I just play the first and third notes of the triplets, keep swinging, and the tune is every bit as satisfying. If you can tuck those triplets in without making the swing stumble, go for it. But the swing is more important than the triplets, so perhaps start with fewer notes and add the ornamentation as your comfort increases.

A little reminder about what we mean by swing. Most reels can be driven nicely by emphasizing the 1 and 3 beats of each bar. Some reels acquire a different feel and drive by inverting the emphasis to the 2 and 4 beats. Not all reels can swing comfortably, but the Scots reels seem to take to it naturally and Jim’s original tunes were written with swing firmly in mind.

“Janine’s Reel” requires a firm 2 and 4 pulse in every bar except the last bar in each 8-bar part. For that big finish, you have to nail the ONE-AND-two-AND-THREE, with each of these four accents stronger than the previous one. Be sure to let the last note in the last bar ring for its full time value before continuing, no matter how jacked up you are on swing endorphins and desperate to get on with it. And enjoy playing a hot contemporary Celtic tune that’s two octaves plus two steps wide!

I double-checked on the Internet and am delighted to report that all three Easy Club CDs are still available: “The Easy Club,” “Chance or Design,” and “Skirlie Beat.” These are wonderful sources of tunes, songs, and inspiration as well as a window on a time when a new generation of Scottish musicians was practically exploding with joyful new ideas for their beloved Celtic tradition. Check them out when you’ve wrestled “Janine’s Reel” into shape.

[Click here for printable notation for Janine’s Reel”]

Memorable Data: Irish Culture in Argentina – Radio Documentary by Rachel Hopkin
January 6, 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Memorable Data
Emerald Streams: Argentina

On 2009 I had the honour to be interviewed by Rachel Hopkin for the second programme of her series looking at music, migration and Ireland. In this particular radio documentary she traveled to Buenos Aires to discover more about the Irish migration to Argentina. The programme features other locals engaged with Irish culture in Argentina and was broadcasted by Dublin’s Newstalk Radio

If you wish to listen to it , feel free to click here and enjoy!

Book Review : The Goddess Path
January 4, 2010, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Reviews

This wonderfully written book by Patricia Monaghan is a great reference for some of the many goddesses. It would be the perfect book for someone just learning about the Goddess or someone who wants to add a Goddess guide to their collection.
The first section explains the meaning of Goddess and some history of her ancient worship. She then has chapters devoted to 20 different Goddesses. Each chapter is so well written and really explains each Goddess wonderfully! First she starts the chapter with a prayer or invocation to that particular Goddess from the ancient cultures they originated in. Then she beautifully details the myth and story of that Goddess, and then gives an interpretation in contemporary terms. She interprets each Goddesses story so that we can see how her story fits in at some point in our own lives.

In other parts of these chapters she gives ideas for the creation of personal altars, a list of the Goddesses major feasts and then gives you some information on how she was traditionally honored. At the end of each chapter she gives you some questions to answer on how things in your life relate to that Goddess, along with some activities and rituals to try.

This is a very well rounded book and would be more than enough information for someone starting out on the Goddess path. I highly recommend this book to beginners and experienced Goddess followers as well!

Check it out here on Amazon