Cover of the October Gatekeeper

The Month in Review/Preview Basically tries to let people know what our personae (or their serfs) would have been doing during the current month. Starting with:


September was harvest time in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. At the end of harvest, the English celebrated "harvest home" or "hockey." "The last sheaf of grain would be brought into the barn with great ceremony, and seed cake was distributed." (1)
Grain was threshed, (beaten with flails to loosen the chaff,) and winnowed, (using a breeze to blow the lighter chaff away from the grain.) "Chaff had uses of its own: it could be fed to livestock, or used in stuffing beds." (2) Fruit was gathered from the orchard in September, and the fields were plowed so that rye, the winter crop, could be sown.
English holidays for September: (3)
1 St. Giles
7 St. Enurchus the Bishop
8 Nativity of Mary (Lady Day in Harvest)
14 Holy Cross Day (Holy Rood Day). This was traditionally a day for "nutting," or gathering nuts in the woods.
17 St. Lambert
21 St. Matthew the Apostle
26 St. Cyprian
29 St. Michael the Archangel (Michaelmas) This day marked the beginning of the agricultural year: all the harvests were in, and the annual accounts could be reckoned up. The day was often observed by eating a goose for dinner.
30 St. Jerome

(1) "Daily Life in Elizabethan England," Jeffrey L. Singman, Greenwood Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-313-29335-X
(2) Ibid
(3) Ibid
- Lady Nataliia Tomasovna


"October...was the time to sow wheat, which had to be done by the end of the month. The end of the wheat sowing was often marked by a feast. This was also a good time to brew ale for the winter."
1 St. Remigius
6 St. Faith
9 St. Dennis
13 Translation of St. Edward the Confessor
17 St. Ethelred
18 St. Luke the Evangelist
25 St. Crispin
28 Sts. Simon and Jude the Apostles
31 All Saints' Even
"Daily Life in Elizabethan England" by Jeffrey L. Singman, ISBN 0-313-29335-X.

- Lady Nataliia Tomasovna

Holidays: Michaelmas

In both the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) churches, September the 29th is celebrated as the feast of Saint Michael the archangel. In England, Michaelmas is one of the four quarterly court days, designating a quarterly court term: October 12 to December 12.
A custom in England was to eat roast goose on Michaelmas. This custom was traditional from the fifteenth century or earlier. According to an old English proverb, one who eats goose on Michaelmas Day will not lack money all the year. This custom probably derived from the practice of tenants giving their landlords geese at Michaelmas.
The name Michael means "Who is like God?" (Some translate it as "Who is like Yaweh?") Michael the archangel is represented as a defender of good, waging war on evil. Mention is made of him in both the Old and New Testaments (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1. Jude 9. Revelation 12:7.) He is also mentioned in the Koran with the archangel Gabriel.
Many churches have been dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, who protects his people from such evils as plague, drought, famine, and tempest. He was believed to have appeared in the fifth century on Mt. Garganus in Italy, which became a medieval pilgrimage site.

Information from The Encyclopedia Americana, 1982

Holidays: Druid festivals

"The Druids observed two festivals in each year. The former took place in the beginning of May, and was called Beltane or "fire of God." On this occasion a large fire was kindled on some elevated spot, in honor of the sun, whose returning beneficence they thus welcomed after the gloom and desolation of winter...
The other great festival of the Druids was called "Samh'in," or "fire of peace," and was held on Hallow-eve (first of November), which still retains this designation in the Highlands of Scotland. On this occasion the Druids assembled in solemn conclave, in the most central part of the district, to discharge the judicial functions of their order. All questions, whether public or private, all crimes against person or property, were at this time brought before them for adjudication. With these judicial acts were combined certain superstitious usages, especially the kindling of the sacred fire, from which all the fires in the district, which had been beforehand scrupulously extinguished, might be relighted. This usage of kindling fires on Hallow-eve lingered in the British islands long after the establishment of Christianity."
Bulfinch's Mythology / introduction, notes, and bibliography by Richard P. Martin" Published by HarperCollins, 1991. ISBN: 0-06-270189-4.

- Lady Nataliia Tomasovna

Nettle Soup

Nettle soup was part of the diet of the monks in Ireland as far back as the sixth century. It would often have been made with milk alone, or even milk and water, and you can vary the proportions of stock and milk used in this recipe.

2 1/2 cups nettles
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup fine oatmeal
3 3/4 cups stock
1 1/4 cups milk (whole is best)

Remove any stalks and chop up the leaves....Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the oatmeal and cook until the mixture is a golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock. Bring it to the boil and add the milk. When it is boiling again, add the nettles and cook for another few minutes. You may need more seasoning, depending how much seasoning there is in the stock.
According to Janice Schofield, (author of "Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, the Northwest," ISBN: 0-88240-369-9,) nettles grow wild in Alaska. They seem to be more common in the southern part of the state; she only lists one variety as growing north of the Alaska Range. Nettle seeds can be ordered from herb suppliers and cultivated in a home garden.
Schofield cautions foragers to use gloves when picking nettles. Only pick young, bright green leaves and tops. The older parts of the plant are tough and stringy. Nettle hairs contain stinging irritants which are dissipated by steaming or boiling, so only eat cooked nettles.
(Recipe from "Irish Cooking," Crescent Books, ISBN: 0-517-05919-3)

- Lady Nataliia -


The Hunter and the Deer

I know a hunter, tall and lean,
A rugged man, and good.
He has for home a mountain green,
Clothed fair in shady wood.

He hunted far afield one day,
For prey was hard to find,
And saw a thing that made him stay:
A graceful, pure white hind.

Never before its like he'd seen,
A deer of snowy white,
She wheeled and fled beneath the green,
He followed her in flight.

Far and far her chase she led,
Nor could he hope to gain,
Until she brought him as she fled,
To winter's dark domain.

There she stayed. Awhile it seemed
She'd be content to stay.
But though the hunter hoped and dreamed,
Again she fled away.

Another hunter marked her track,
And trailed the roaming doe.
Our hunter knew she'd not come back,
It hurt to see her go.

And yet the chase was not in vain,
Through field and marsh and glade,
He knew he'd follow her again,
To meet the friends he'd made.

The people of that icy land
Had hearts both brave and true.
They welcomed him with loving hand
Into their mirthful crew.

And though he thought to make his way
Along the path for home,
He knew he would return some day,
For friendship's sake he'd come.

They hailed him as their friend and brother,
So one flame, dying, sparked another.

-by Nataliia Tomasovna

Printed with permission