Sunday, 25 December 2011

Herne

I have just read the statement that Santa's reindeer probably evolved from the Celtic horned deity Herne. Firstly let me say that Herne is a deity I honour but Celtic he is not. The first mention of him is in a Shakespeare play as a ghost who is seen in Windsor park.But like so many of the modern constructs he has to be given the the aura of age as if that gives him more credence Herne is in my mind a modern construct you cannot avoid it but he is tied up with all the ancient horned images of the fertility Gods it matters not that he is a relative newcomer.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Spell




I am working on a new cross stitch called The Spell based on the artwork of an Australian artist by the name of Maxine Gadd. It has a lot of colours a 102 to be precise although no fractional stitches so the stitching is quite straight forward. What makes it daunting is its sheer size 23 inches by 16.

When I start something new I quite often get a prompting that it is for someone and this time is no different, this piece when finished will wing its way to Australia for my friend Thunder who fell in love with it when she saw the picture which I have to say is a relief!!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

It has been a long time since I have posted here, much has happened some for good, some for ill, friends have come and some have gone, but all I believe meant to be in the universes ultimate plan.

One of the good things is the way that the Dorset Grove has blossomed in the last few months and that I am now one of the two Bards of the Grove.

That is all for now but I hopefully will not leave it so long till I write here again.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Autumn Comes With a Lions Blast




Autumn comes with a Lions blast

Threatening to blow the leaves from the trees,

Before they get their yearly chance to shine.

And creeping over the sill comes the spectre of winters skeletal grasp.

Yet how can this be as yesterday was summer still.

And tomorrow may be again.

But the spiral to the dark time has begun and cannot be halted.

The time of bonfire smoke carried on the still night air.

And the deep brown smell of earth carried on the breeze.

Soon shops will be full of of orange globes, pumpkins,

Ready to feel the child's sharp knife baring their souls.,

As the chill wind bears ours.

Soon the winter crone will rise and take her place In our hearts

Do not fear this, she is the power in the water turned to stone,

The force of rock moving upon rock.

Embrace her, let her in give yourself over to her power.

See! Her power warms you but lays you bare to the core.

Embrace her and be made anew as the land is made anew by the icy

Blast from her snowy mantle.

Pangur-ban

Saturday, 13 August 2011

One Bards Response to the Looting




I have pondered hard and long on what my response as a Bard should be to the awful events of the last week, should I be angry at a society that allows young people to be so disenfranchised that they resort to rioting? Make no mistake not all the rioters were in it for the looting.

Should I be dismayed that professional agitators were there to make sure that the riots started in the first place? Because make no mistake again they were there. Should I be angry at a society that is made up of the haves and the have nots?



The answer to all the above questions is yes I should be both angry and dismayed and make no mistake I am but I have also been asking myself what I can do as a Bard to make the situation better. As a Bard I think my role is to share the beauty I see around me, to try and heal broken hearts and sooth troubled souls, to pour oil on troubled waters, I will leave the deep political arguments to others. So you will see no political diatribes from me just words I hope of comfort, hope and inspiration.



Pangur-ban.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Expanding Thir Vision




Expanding Their Vision
Nine Ways to Help Others Awaken to Consciousness

By simply being yourself, you can help the people in your life see a living example of consciousness.


1. Living by your values allows you to become a positive source of inspiration for others. Don’t hide – express yourself and embrace life without reservation. By simply being yourself, you can help the people in your life see how one person can make a difference by being a living example of consciousness.

2. When you communicate your views, do so casually and in a nondogmatic manner. Allow the people you speak with to ask questions. Offer only as much information as they are ready to hear.

3. Igniting the spark of consciousness can be as easy as giving someone a gift. A favorite book, a medicine bag, or a beautiful gemstone can pique your loved ones’ curiosity and prompt them to begin an exploration of the soul.

4. Teaching a friend, relative, or colleague to meditate or chant can put them on the path to consciousness while simultaneously reducing their stress levels.

5. Others may want to know more about living consciously but are unsure of how to begin. Starting a discussion group – even a virtual one – can help you reach out to individuals that are eager to learn.

6. By recognizing and acknowledging the inherent value in everyone you encounter, you can teach them how to value others. Sometimes, the easiest way to encourage people – even challenging ones - to respect others is to respect them first.

7. Invite people from your personal and professional lives to join you in attending a ceremony or ritual. The experience may touch them in a profound way or introduce them to a new spiritual path.

8. Casually point out the interconnectedness of all living beings using concrete, everyday examples. Many people are unaware of how their actions affect the world and are intrigued when they learn of the power they hold.

9. Introduce your loved ones to conscious living in a lighthearted and enjoyable way. Serve delicious organic recipes at gatherings, volunteer as a group, and show them how wonderful it can feel to be truly aware and connected to the universe.

This is taken from the Daily Om website you can get daily updats by registering at,

www.dailyom.com

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Role of the Bard



What in these days is the function of a Bard?

In the time of my Bardic ancestors their role was to pass on the stories and lore of the Gods and to prick the conscience of the King by the use of satire.

Apart from being the kings conscience I do not think that the role of the bard has changed much.

The role of the Bard today I believe is to remind people that there is a life behind this one. In Celtic philosophy there is an idea of the hidden world referred to as the mountain behind the mountain, and I believe my role as a Bard is to remind people that this world exists.

So many today have forgotten the old stories of wonder and magic, stories where Gods and man co-existed. Tales of heroes, dragons and elves. In short they only believe what their eyes tell them is true.

In the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry says to Dumbledore “Is this inside my head?” and his reply was “Of course it is Harry does that make it any less true?!

My job as a Bard is to get people to see the wonder that is there for the finding.

Pangur-ban
16/7/11

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Forest Deep

Pangur-ban 9/7/11

Forest deep, forest dark
Forest take my
heart tonight.

Feed my spirit, move my soul,
Feed my vision, clarity unfold.

Forest deep, forest dark
Green man wakes
my hearts delight.

Move my feet, and let me dance,
Move my eyes to see at a glance.

Forest deep. forest dark,
Forest be my
Home tonight

Pangur-ban

Saturday, 11 June 2011

An Animist Manifesto





An animist manifesto


By Graham Harvey


All that exists lives

All that lives is worthy of respect


You don’t have to like what you respect

Not liking someone is no reason for not respecting them

Respecting someone is no reason for not eating them

Reasons are best worked out in relationship – especially if you are looking for reasons to eat someone – or if you are looking for reasons not to be eaten


If you agree that all that exists is alive and worthy of respect, it is best to talk about ‘persons’ or ‘people’ rather than ‘beings’ or ‘spirits’, let alone ‘biomechanisms’, ‘resources’, ‘possessions’, and ‘things’


The world is full of persons (people if you prefer), but few of them are human

The world is full of other-than-human persons

The world is full of other-than-oak persons

The world is full of other-than-hedgehog persons

The world is full of other-than-salmon persons

The world is full of other-than-kingfisher persons

The world is full of other-than-rock persons…


‘Other-than’ has at least three references:

it reminds us that we are persons in relationship with others,

it reminds us that many of our closest kin are human, while the closest kin of oaks are oaks, so we talk most easily with humans while rocks talk most easily with other rocks…

it reminds us to speak first of what we know best (those closest to us)


Make that four references:

it reminds us to celebrate difference as an opportunity to expand our relationships rather than seeing it as a cause of conflict or conquest


All life is relational and we should not collapse our intimate alterities into identities

Others and otherness keep us open to change, open to becoming, never finally fixed in being

Alterities resist entropy and encourage creativity through rationality, sociality (or, as William Blake said, ‘enmity is true friendship’)


Animism is neither monist nor dualist, it is only just beginning when you get beyond counting one, two… At its best it is thoroughly, gloriously, unashamedly, rampantly pluralist


Respect means being cautious and constructive

It is cautiously approaching others — and our own wishes,

It is constructing relationships, constructing opportunities to talk, to relate, to listen, to spend time in the face-to-face presence and company of others

It is taking care of, caring for, caring about, being careful about…

It can be shown by leaving alone and by giving gifts

believers in ‘human rights’, for example, demonstrate their belief in rights not only by supporting legislation to protect individuals from states, companies and majorities, but by not insisting on hogging the whole road or pavement, not insisting on another human getting out of the way on a busy street…

You don’t have to hug every tree to show them respect but you might have to let trees grow where they will—you might have to move your telephone lines or greenhouse

You might have to build that road away from that rock or that tree


Hugging trees that you don’t know may be rude – try introducing yourself first


Just because the world and the cosmos is full of life does not make it a nice and easy place to live. Lots of persons are quite unfriendly to others. Many see us as a good dinner. They might respect us as they eat us. Or they may need education. Like us, they might learn best in relationship with others who show respect even to those they don’t like, and especially to those they like the taste of.


Although evolution has no aim, life is not pointless. The purpose of life is to be good people — and good humans or good rocks or good badgers. What we have to find out is what ‘good’ means where we are, when we are, with whom we are, and so on. It is certainly wrapped up with the word ‘respect’ and all the acts that implies.


Since all that exists lives—and since all that lives is, in some senses, to some degree, conscious, communicative and relational—and since many of the persons with whom we humans share this planet have a far better idea of what’s going on than we do—we can now stop all the silliness about being the pinnacle of creation, the highest achievement of evolution, the self-consciousness of the world or cosmos… We’re just part of the whole living community and we’ve got a lot to learn. Our job isn’t to save the planet, or speak for the animals, or evolve towards higher states. Many other-than-human people are already happily self-aware, thank you very much, and if we paid attention we might learn a few things ourselves. By the way, we’re probably not alone in mistaking ourselves for the most important people in the world: hedgehogs probably think they are (but they’re spiky flea-ridden beasts so why believe them?!).


Um, when I said that ‘all that exists lives’, I’m not sure about plastic bags.

But I am certain that we should not treat objects as mere resources, somehow available or even given to us, or humanity, to use as we will or wish.


The same goes for words like ‘substances’, especially those that exist within plant and fungal persons. There are substances, but they aren’t ours until they are given, gifted to us. And then we’d better find out why we’ve been given whatever gifts we get. And we’d better ask how those gifts might be best used (whether its for pleasure, power, wisdom or whatever). This is especially true if the plant or mushroom person who offers us the gift substance has to lose their life in the process.


Maybe sometimes the mushrooms just want to help us join in the big conversation that’s going on all around us. But not all rocks, fish, plants, fungi, birds, animals or humans want to talk with us:

Sometimes they want to be quiet

Sometimes they want to be rude

Sometimes they have other concerns

Sometimes they don’t understand

Sometimes we don’t speak the language

Sometimes we don’t know the appropriate gift

The precise and proper way to show respect depends where you are, who you are, who you are respecting and what they expect. Gifts, like swords and words, have more than one side. Alcohol is a gift in one place, a poison somewhere else. Handshakes are friendly in one place, shows of strength elsewhere. Kissing is respectful to some people, an assault on others. Respectful etiquette is hard work but its reward is fuller participation in a large and exciting community of life.


Sometimes we need shamans to do the talking for us

Sometimes we need shamans to do the talking to us


Animism is just over the bridge that closes the Cartesian gap by knowing how to answer the question, What is your favourite colour? Perhaps it is the bridge. Perhaps there is no gap and animists are people who refuse to collude with the illusion


Animism is often discovered by sitting beneath trees, on hills, in rivers, with hedgehogs, beside fires… Animism is better communicated in trickster tales, soulful songs, powerful poems, rousing rituals, and/or elemental etiquette than in manifestos.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Polar Bear



Polar Bear, Power Animal, Symbol of Purity, Death, Rebirth, Transformation

By Ina Woolcott

Polar bear's medicine includes the ability to navigate along the earth’s magnetic lines , introspection, ability to find sustenance in barren landscapes, purity of spirit, strength in the face of adversity, solitude, expert swimmer through emotional waters, finding ones way back from the brink, communication with Spirit, dreams, death and rebirth, transformation, creature of dreams, shamans, mystics and visionaries, defence and revenge

Intelligent and fearless, native tribes throughout history have held the polar as a desirable ally and spirit helper. The white colour of the polar bear is very significant indeed, for it represents purity of spirit. As this bear is fearless and the universal energy only flows when fear is absent, the polar serves as a valuable ally in getting past fear, both physically and mentally.

To the Eskimo and Inuit peoples this animal is a source of both physical and spiritual nourishment. On a spiritual level, the polar bear is regarded as the embodiment of the spirit of the North, an animal who possesses ancient wisdom and has shamanic powers.

Of the bear family the polar is the most aggressive and carnivorous. They are exceptional hunters. Polar bears weigh up to 1600 lbs and are able to knock a 500lb seal out of the water with one blow. Incredibly strong, they are far more adaptable than other bear which is well suited to their excellent survival skills. Though they are one of the largest land carnivores, they are still capable of great speed on both ice and earth. They are able to swim 100 miles non-stop.

Although they have the same characteristics as other bears, the polar does have specific traits inherent to it. If this is your power animal you should read up on the information available about bears in general for a deeper understanding of this powerful medicine. If polar bear is (one of) your guide, you will have challenges linked with flexibility, change and stubbornness and should ask the polar for assistance in overcoming these obstacles.

Prior to acting the polar will observe the situation beforehand. They know how exactly how preserve their energy and strength and use both at the most appropriate time for the best outcome. This is just one of the lessons to be learned form the polar. Perhaps if this is your power animal, you would benefit by learning the art of energy management.

Within the animal kingdom the polar has no enemies. However, they do have but one enemy - the human hunter.

The polar is known as the "Ice Man" amongst some native tribes due to its preference for hunting on sea ice. How the polar appears to us is symbolic. If the polar were seen walking on ice, the message would be connected to the frozen, blocked, emotions stored within us and the need for allowing those emotions free flow, to express themselves. If seen looking for food, nourishment and replenishment of the body, mind and spirit would be the message. It is very important to watch the polar to get the right message.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Bruce & Melissa - Thunder Road Live!

I love songs that tell stories and Bruce is the master at them. I discovered this version of Thunder Road a few years ago and was blown away by it.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Alder

Alder:
Ogham letter: F
Ogham name: Fearn
Celtic tree month: mar18th to ap14th.
Appearance:
The alder grows to a height of approximately sixty to seventy feet with a girth of twelve to fifteen feet. Juvenile trees are conical in shape rather like fir trees but as it matures its crown becomes more open and straggly. The leaves of the Alder are roughly round in shape, pointed where they meet the stem and slightly flattened at the other. In colour the leaves are a dark glossy green. There is no autumnal colour so to speak, the leaves just get darker and darker till they fall as, sometimes as late as December.
The Alder has male and female catkins on the same tree, the female catkins look like small cones which stay on the tree all winter.
Medicine:
The leaves of the Alder make an excellent poultice for all sorts of swellings and inflammations. This could be because the Alder is reputed to be able to balance fire (inflammations) and water (swellings) it is said placing Alder leaves in work boots and socks helps tired and aching feet, I wonder about this as I would think this to be jolly uncomfortable. Alder bark made into pills was said to have been beneficial in the treatment of general digestive weakness and enteritis. A decoction of the bark was once used to try and stem internal bleeding. The same decoction could be used as a gargle.
Folklore:
There are several possible meanings to the name Alder. One being that it is derived from the Anglo-Saxon root Alor or Aler meaning reddish brown. This could be from the fact that the wood of the Alder which is a pale colour turns red when cut leading the wood cutters of old to think that the tree was bleeding.
Another possibility is that in Scandinavian myth the first women was created from the Alder, and in Irish myth the first man so possibly Alder simply means Elder.
The Alder is closely associated in mythology with all forms of resurrection. The alder is closely associated with the yearly cycle of the Sun in fact the spring equinox falls within the month of Alder, a time when the power of the Sun is restored to us.
The Alder is known as a tree which is the King of the Fairies and as such carried people of into the otherworld. This other world thought pattern is carried on in that the bird most associated with the Alder is the Raven. As white birds such as the Stork became synonymous with birth so the Raven was associated with death and the otherworld. It is interesting then to find that the Deities most thought of in respect of the Alder, such as Saturn, Chronos and Bran for the Gods, and the Morrigan for the Goddess are also Raven deities.
Pangur-ban

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

New Life: A Fairy Tale

 I wrote this a few years ago for the birth of a friends son.


All through the enchanted forest there was upheaval. The Faeries were flying around in circles (in fact there had been a few collisions) . And as for the Dragons there was so much smoke in the air from their excited flamings that this was only making it worse for the faeries.
Just when things were descending in to total pandemonium the Lord and Lady the rulers of this magic realm came to the forest riding on their snow white unicorns “what is going on my children” the lady asked them.
Of course as is the way of all excited beings they all started to speak at onchave had to cover your ears for the noise. There were the high pitched voices of the Faeries and the booming bugles of the Dragons. Also the Dryads had to shout the loudest of all as they could not go far from their trees. Sitting watching all the kafuffle with an amused grin on his face was a white cat. The lady got down from her mount stooped down and picked up the cat “perhaps you can tell me whatever the matter is pangurban” she said. “Well milady said pangurban. They are in this state of excitement because they have heard that there has been a wondrous event. They have heard that there has been the birth of a human boy”.
Now this was a rare event in the enchanted realm as there were few humans living there”. “Oh is that all” the Lady of the forest said with a laugh that sounded like the waters of a babbling brook. “Well it is true” she said, the human you know as Suncrow has had a little one. Of course this set them of again there were questions coming from every direction and just when things were threatening to get out of hand again, a loud strong voice cried out, SILENCE, it was the Lord of the forest. Now all the forest dwellers were slightly afraid of Him so there was total silence in a split second. Now pangurban knew that the Lords bark was worse than His bark, (even if it offended his sensibilities to use the word) . “Don’t just sit there smirking cat, tell me what they want to know?” Well Lord they want to know the usual things, his name and is he handsome being the main ones, oh and there is one precocious fairy who wants to know if all his bits are intact. On hearing this, the Lord let out a bellow of a laugh “is that all my little ones, this is why we are here you have been invited to come and see this child”.
 So a few days later the Faeries and Dragons were all gathered at Suncrows cottage in the clearing at the centre of the forest. Everyone was there but they were as quiet as mice (as they did not want to wake the child) the Faeries flew in one by one to see this wonderful child, But the Dragons had to be content to poke their heads threw the window on account of them being bigger than the whole cottage itself. Last of all pangurban who had been elected spokes cat came into the cottage “I have been given the responsibility of giving the best wishes of us all” he said as he settled on Suncrows lap. The Faeries wish, hold on what is his name he exclaimed! That has yet to be determined said Suncrow. Oh well then said the cat they wish him health and happiness and his hearts desire all his days. Just then one impatient Dragon stuck his head through the window and we will protect him all his days it said. And as for me said pangurban I will tell him tales and sooth his troubles as long as he needs it. Then the Lord and Lady came forward and said as for his name it is Ian. And as is the way of all magical beings there was much merrymaking to be had.

Pangur-ban

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Anam Cara


Anam Cara – The Friend of Your Soul

In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul love; “Anam Cara” may sound like some new French perfume, but it actually refers to the Celtic spiritual belief of souls connecting and bonding .
In Celtic Spiritual tradition, it is believed that the soul radiates all about the physical body what some refer to as an aura. When you connect with another person and become completely open and trusting with that individual, your two souls begin to flow together.
Should such a deep bond be formed, it is said you have found your “Anam Cara” or soul friend.
Your “Anam Cara” always accepts you as you truly are, holding you in beauty and light. In order to appreciate this relationship, you must first recognize your own inner light and beauty. This is not always easy to do. The Celts believed that forming an “Anam Cara” friendship would help you to awaken your awareness of your own nature and experience the joys of others.
The “Anam Cara” was originally someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the “Anam Cara”, you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an “Anam Cara”, your friendship cut across all convention, morality and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul”. The Celtic understanding did not set limitations of space or time on the soul. There is no cage for the soul. The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other.
This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship. When you love, you open your life to an Other. All your barriers are down. Your protective distances collapse. This person is given absolute permission to come into the deepest temple of your spirit. Your presence and life can become their ground. It takes great courage to let someone so close. Where a friendship recognizes itself as a gift, it will remain open to its own ground of blessing….. When you are blessed with an “Anam Cara”, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home. This bond between friends is indissoluble: “This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part”.
~ from “Anam Cara…Wisdom from the Celtic World“, by John O’Donohue

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Resolution of a Witch.


RESOLUTION OF A WITCH

May I be as the one who weaves the cloth
in a forest, deep hidden.
May I sit at the work, uninterrupted.
And may I remain an outcast, if that is what it takes.
May I know the seasonal procession in my spirit and
in my body, celebrate cross quarters, solstices and equinoxes.
May each Full Moon find me looking upwards, at trees
outlined on luminous sky.
May I hold wildflowers. May I cup them in my hand.
May I then release them, unpicked,
to live on in abundance.
May my friends be of the kind who are at ease with silence.
may they and I be innocent of pretension.
May I be capable of gratitude. May I know
that I was given joy, like mother's milk.
May I know this as my cat does, in her bones and blood.
May I speak the truth about happiness and pain
in songs that sound of the scent of rosemary,
as everyday and ancient, kitchen-herb strong.
May I not incline to self-righteousness or self-pity.
May I approach the high earthworks and the stone circles
As fox or moth,
and disturb the place no more than that.
May my gaze be direct and my hand steady.
May my door be open to those who dwell outside wealth
and fame and privilege.
May those who have never walked barefoot never find the
path
that leads up to my door.
May they be lost on the labyrinthine journey.
May they turn back.
And may I sit beside the fire in winter
and see in the glowing logs what is to come,
yet never feel the need to warn or to advise, unasked.
May I sit upon a plain wooden chair, in true contentment.
May the place where I live be as the forest.
May there be track ways where there are caves and pools
and trees and flowers, animals and birds,
all known to me and revered, loved.
May my existence change the world no more nor less
than the gusting of winds, or the proud growth of trees.
For this, I go in cast-off clothes.
May I keep faith, always.
May I never find excuses for the expedient.
May I know that I have no choice, and yet still make the choice
as the song is made, in joy, and with consideration.
May I make the same choice every day, again.
When I fail, may I know forgiveness for myself.
May I dance naked, unafraid to face my own reflection.

**Author-Rae Beth*** __________________

Friday, 22 April 2011

Downland Odyssey

I long to walk the paths
my youthful feet trod,
over the chalky back bone
of the downland of my home.
Walk again over land formed
by the bones of millennia old
creatures of the deep.
Walk again through orchid
strewn grassland.
Where in the wake
of my passing
clouds of blue butterflies
take to the wing
on a hot summers day.
My body longs to lay with you again
as we once did
under the gaze of long dead stars,
our limbs entwined,
basking in passions warm fire
But you to are long gone
your bones now part of the land.
All that is left are memories.

Pangur-ban

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Faeries Are Not Always Nice

I have this bug-bare to do with the way faeries are portrayed in the Pagan world. Faeries are portrayed as these lovely twee characters who would never harm you and are there to do your housework. This following article by Liz Williams a British science fiction/fantasy author says it all as far as I am concerned.

Not Nice by Liz Williams

This is becoming an annual rant, but has usually hitherto appeared on LJ so I thought I would dust it off, wipe its nose, and present it to a slightly different audience this time. It is actually an example of a social dynamic that I find interesting, so I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.I last aired it in front of the students at Imperial, who had some typically informed things to say.



This time, it's fairies, but it could be vampires, unicorns, angels, or serial killers, all of whom have featured in this rant before. And we're hardly guiltless. We sell fairies, for pity's sake, and they are sparkly and so forth. But occasionally something comes up which implies the following: fairies (or unicorns, or mermaids) are ickle magical beings who live to love others and spread sweetness and light.



I grew up on British folklore, particularly the work of Katherine Briggs, whose memorial lecture is held every year at the Folklore Society. In her collected accounts of fairy folklore throughout Britain (and in Yeats' huge work, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries), it is plain that the twee-ification of fairies is relatively recent (I blame the Victorians, who introduced a lot of the more child-based fairy imagery for reasons which have been examined in several doctoral theses and at least one book). But it has gathered apace over the last 50 years or so: fairies, according to this strand of the zeitgeist, are sweet, loving, honest and apparently, dedicated to helping people. Like angels, basically. This will raise the eyebrow of the average folklore enthusiast, or indeed, the average fantasy writer, to whom fairies are entities who snatch children and milk, who trick and deceive, who cannot be thanked, who make you wade through red blood to the knee and who will blind you if you see the wrong thing, who will give you a handful of leaves that you believe to be gold, who are tall and handsome until you catch them from the corner of your eye... I can't even blame Harry Potter for this as Rowling has done her fairy homework to quite a considerable degree and thereby copped massive opprobrium from the politically correct lobby.



Unicorns used to be savage destriers who would kill anyone who wasn't a virgin. That horn is there for a reason: it's a weapon. Angels are God's hitmen: warriors with flaming swords who strike down the unrighteous. Mermaids drowned sailors, once upon a time. Vampires used to be quite repulsive (look at Bram Stoker's version) and now they've become soulful James Deans who are just waiting for the right girl to come along (this is an example of a strand in Gothic and Romance writing which is particularly pernicious: the 'he's terribly dangerous but I can tame him'. The 'I' is usually female, and the idea is fine as a fantasy but leads to terrible trouble when applied to actual men).



There are exceptions: there's some very interesting fairy art around at the moment, drawing on sources other than the queasily Victorian. And if it makes the world a more comfortable place for people to render the alarming as safe, then that's up to them. Just because I don't like the aesthetic, doesn't mean, obviously, that people shouldn't engage with it. What does concern me, however, is that all of this feeds into the idea that this is promoting some kind of fantasy life: that paganism, which intersects with so much of the demographic of people who profess to believe in the above, becomes something that you turn to as an escape. Like any genuine spirituality, it isn't an escape, and to treat it as though it is, is to court disaster. Or at least, some lessons you really weren't expecting. There's a lesser issue - so much of this robs things of their original power, and their original magic. Maybe it's a genetic thing that makes us need to tame the wild, but it seems to me to be a shame.



Fairies wouldn't hurt other fairies? Yes, they would: they do it all the time. If you believe in them as real entities, their primary function is not to help you, any more than it's the primary function of angels or goddesses: you need to petition, and you need to give something back, and maybe they'll lend a hand, but it won't be in the way you expect. Folklore is the mirror of life and of the unconscious; the world of dreams is not a safe space.



And now I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my new book: "Demons: Why They're Really Cute."

Monday, 11 April 2011

Jack in the Green.

Beltane is nearly upon us and I thought it would be fun to look at some of the folklore to do with Mayday starting with the “Jack in the Green."
So just who is the Jack in the Green? Jack has long been a participant in the Mayday festivities notably in a parade in the town of Hastings.
The person chosen to be the Jack wears a large foliage covered framework, usually conical in shape, which covers the body from head to foot. In some of the parades he has two attendants who depict Robin Hood and Maid Marian.
In my mind Jack is an embodiment of natural fertility, a spirit of the wildwood, and a trickster. In other words Jack is none other than the Green Man himself.
The rock group Jethro Tull even wrote a song about him,
Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree —
in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground —
signals the snowdrops it’s time to grow.
It’s no fun being Jack-In-The-Green —
no place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colours of the summer soldier —
carries the green flag all the winter long.
Jack, do you never sleep —
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so —
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.
The rowan, the oak and the holly tree
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter’s night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming.
Jack, put out the light.
Pangur-ban

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Sacred Land


There is one belief that runs through all aboriginal belief systems across the world and that is that the land is sacred. From the native Americans to the aboriginal tribes of Australia the land is something to respected and held in high regard.
Dare I also include Britain in this august company? I think that at one time I could have, and people in the Pagan world be they Druids like myself or Witches are trying to reclaim this sense of the sacredness of the land.
Some good friends and I visited Avebury on Saturday and we were treated to a guided tour of some of the lesser known sites in the landscape, some of which were over six thousand years old.
What struck me was the relationship the people had with the land and how in tune with it they were. From birth to death they included the land in there daily lives. Our lives are governed by small increments of time, days, hours, and seconds whereas our ancestors were governed by the turning of the seasons.
This is where I believe the wheel of the year plays its part. Although to some extent it is a modern construct I feel its biggest benefit is to slow our thinking down. As we follow this yearly cycle our brains are rewired to think in terms of what the land is doing at any given time.
So I believe that the land is sacred and I would go even further in believing that the land is the body of the Goddess. Her body the hills, her hair the waving grass, her arms and the majestic trees, her feet buried in deep dark soil.
So is the land sacred? Look around you at all the trees bursting in to leaf and the land becoming fertile after the fallow time of winter and I think that you would agree with me when I say yes it most certainly is.
Pangur-ban

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Modern Knighthhod

I was brought up to have a code of conduct that today is seen as outdated, I was brought up to open doors, walk on the outside of the pavement,and to give up my seat on a bus for the elderly and for ladies. All of the above is seen as I said to be outdated and referred to as male chauvinism but I remain unrepentant. This is an article I found that puts all this into words for me.

Modern Knighthood

Many people wish that they had the power to take charge of their lives, endlessly dreaming of what they believe to be out of their reach. If only they’d reach out, they’d discover that their dreams had been within their grasp all along. Some people feel hemmed in by the chaos of the modern world, fearful of what the next moment should bring. If only they’d stand up and claim their strength, the chaos and fears surrounding them would be blown away like leaves in the wind. Many people believe themselves to be victims, forever fated to suffer. If only they’d stand up and say “never again”, they’d find themselves the master of their fate. Some people dream of the knight in shining armor: Either wishing some knight would ride to their rescue or that they were knights who could rescue the weak. If only they’d look inside, they’d see that there is a knight dormant in all of us, waiting to be unleashed upon the world.

People come to the Pagan spiritual paths seeking magickal power, so I am constantly surprised how many fail to fully claim what they have in them. They’re willing to embrace the first half of the Wiccan Rede, “harm none”, and yet seemingly unwilling to embrace the second half, “do what thou wilt”. The second half tells us to be all that we can be. It tells us to claim our power and use it responsibly. It encourages us to be glorious. And yet I run into Pagans all the time that clearly don’t see themselves as being glorious in any way. It is very sad to see so many people suffer needlessly because they cannot see how amazing they can be, how amazing they already are.

The warrior takes fearless self-inventory and then uses everything they’ve got effectively. Stop thinking of yourself as having strengths and weaknesses... Rather, think of your attributes as characteristics that can all be strengths depending on how you use them. Replace guilt with responsibility. You are the captain of your ship. If your life isn’t going in the direction that you want it to, all you need to do is grab the tiller and steer. The world we live in is a chaotic place. Knighthood is about mastering chaos. The modern knight is a chaos conductor. The future is not etched in stone: Rather, it is drawn in the sand. Knighthood is drawing without an eraser.

My fellow knights within the Order of Sc├íthach have all discovered powers within themselves that few of them believed they had when they first arrived at our doorstep. This power wasn’t something that they had to seek out there in the world; it was something they discovered inside themselves. We all have this magick, this strength inside. All you need to do is turn inward and seek it. You don’t need secret spells and magick wands and special potions to access it. All you need is a will and imagination.

Some are afraid to let that knight loose, fearing that they will become violent. They think that warriors are all about warfare. Modern knighthood isn’t about aggression, it is about assertion. It isn’t about using your hands; it is about using your head. Knighthood is a peaceful path that embraces chivalry. The Modern knight stands for sincerity and self-discipline, compassion and courage, perseverance and industriousness, justice and truth, loyalty and largesse, humility and courtesy, and above all, honor. The modern knight is ready and able to defend themselves and others, but they do not seek conflict. They seek harmony and balance in the world. As my old friend Paul Tuitean once put it: “Soldiers march, warriors dance.”

Chivalry may have been largely a romantic legend in the past, but can and should be made reality in the present. This is exactly what the modern knight strives to do. Chivalry is not a quaint, romantic myth but rather a signpost for our generation, pointing the way, inspiring us to be all we can be so that we can, in turn, inspire others. The best way to work magick to make the world a better place is to set the example, to show the world how the world could be. You have the power to show the world that the divine is imminent in all of us and can be used to make us more powerful and more effective. It is time for you to awaken to your divinity and make it a part of your consciousness.

There will be those who try to tell you that nice guys finish last. I tell you this is not so. Courtesy is a sign of strength and confidence. It is directly linked to the Wiccan concept of the law of three-fold return. You get what you put out there, and if you’re courteous you will always be the winner. Like largesse, another of the principles of chivalry, courtesy is part of paying it forward. Courtesy is the soul of modern knighthood. In Idylls of the King, Lord Tennyson put it this way: “For manners are not idle, but the fruit of loyal nature and of noble mind.” Modern knighthood begins and ends with courtesy. In his Letters and Social Aims, Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.”

The modern knight’s quest is to find himself, to find his soul and its connection to the myths that illuminate it. You can’t suppress myth. Like water, it will find its way out. Myth lives within us, and if we let it out, it can transform us. Knights allow themselves to fully experience mythology, to see how it works through them, inspiring, informing and empowering them to become greater than they were.

Knighthood isn’t about appearance, but action, not about tinsel, but tenacity, not about glitter, but genius, not about fashion, but faculty. It isn’t about dressing up to re-enact past glories. It is about being yourself. It is about being glorious every day. Knighthood is about self-mastery, and if you can master yourself, you can master your world.

Kerr Cuhulain

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Land is Stirring

The land is stirring
Moving and shifting
Can you feel it?
Once more becoming alive
Beneath your feet
Sacred space for Sacred people.
People who have become
Shepherds to the trees,
Carers of the rocks and plants.
And in this resurgence
The Goddesses wakes and becomes
Part of the land once again.
Her body the hills
Her hair the waving grass
Her arms and fingers majestic trees
Her feet buried deep in dark soil.
Alive and seen once more.

pangur-ban

Monday, 28 March 2011

I Clothe Myself in Green

 
I Clothe Myself in Green.

the trees are waking at last from
their long winter slumber
wearing their summer coat of green,
like the blush on a maidens cheek.
they dare us to notice.
 (look at me, look at me)
they chant in my mind)
as they clamour to be heard.
my spirit stretches with them
and on this fine day
 (only one the creator could give)
i cloth myself in green.

Pangur-ban

Monday, 21 March 2011

Cobwebs

 
Cobwebs spun from silk
Sparkle jewel like with early morning dew
Spider sits and waits
Pangur-ban
21/03/2011

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Sap Rises

Although I love Winter I am more than ready for Spring, there is a distinct smell in the air today the smell of new life and greenness of the young Goddess of the vernal equinox stretching Her limbs. . So in celebration of this I offer this poem I wrote a couple of years ago.

The Sap Rises

The sap rises,
Nature renews.
The Goddess
Is creating,
Dancing,
And where
Her green feet tread
Life springs forth.
She walks the land
Bestowing favours
Carrying on the breeze
Of her passing
The scent of greenness.
Waking trees who yawn
And shrug their mighty limbs.
As She walks,
She drops a seed here,
Lays her hand here
In blessing
On a Foxes head.
And soon the land
is green again.

Pangur-ban

Friday, 18 March 2011

Arrianrhod of the Silver Wheel

Arianrhod of the silver wheel.
Keeper of the Moon and Stars.
Thou who dwells beyond the North wind.
Hear me as I call unto thee.
Thou who art Maiden, Mother, and Lover,
Take thou my spirit,
And keep it safe as only a lover could.
And when this life is o'er
Take up thy loom and don the mantle
of the weaver of the soul.
Weave anew the weft of my life.
Set my feet on the path of life again
so the circle may be complete,
and past, present and future become one.

Pangur-ban 3/12/2007

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The March Hare

I came across her early one morning
One of those beautiful winter meets spring days
The grass, frost coated and erect
Like battalions of tiny spears.
She lay, this harbinger of the Goddess
Her body quivering every nerve a twitch
Every muscle poised to take flight.
I gentled this wild thing with my thoughts
Assuring her of my harmless intent,
When wonders of wonders a miracle occurred
Her mind was laid bare to mine
And I partook of her thoughts and dreams
Of summers coming, and the young she would bare
And her nightly flights to the moon.

Pangur-ban

Ostara


 Ostara.
From The Goddess and Green Man Website.

A point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year.  Night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium - dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance.  But the year is now waxing and at this moment light defeats the dark.  The natural world is coming alive, the Sun is gaining in strength and the days are becoming longer and warmer.  The gentle whispered promise of Imbolc is fulfilled in the evident and abundant fertility of the Earth at Ostara.  It is time for the hopes of Imbolc to become action.  The energy is expansive and exuberant.  It is the first day of Spring!  

Ostara takes its name after the Germanic goddess, Eostre/Ostara, who was traditionally honoured in the month of April with festivals to celebrate fertility, renewal and re-birth.  It was from Eostre that the Christian celebration of Easter evolved, and indeed the naming of the hormone Eostrogen, essential to women's fertility.  The Goddess Ostara has the shoulders and head of a hare. The Symbols of Ostara are:


The Hare

In Celtic tradition, the hare is sacred to the Goddess and is the totem animal of many lunar goddesses such as Hecate, Freyja and Holda - the hare is a symbol for the moon.  The Goddess most closely associated with the Hare is Eostre, or Ostara.  The date of the Christian Easter is determined by the phase of the moon.  The nocturnal hare, so closely associated with the moon which dies every morning and is resurrected every evening, also represents the rebirth of nature in Spring.  Both the moon and the hare were believed to die daily in order to be reborn - therefore the Hare is a symbol of immortality.  It is also a major symbol for fertility and abundance as the hare can conceive while pregnant.  Over the centuries the symbol of the Hare at Ostara has become the Easter Bunny who brings eggs to children on Easter morning, the Christian day of rebirth and resurrection.  Hare hunting was taboo but because the date of Easter is determined by the Moon together with the Hare's strong lunar associations, hare-hunting was a common Easter activity in England (and also at Beltane).

The Egg

The egg (and all seeds) contains 'all potential', full of promise and new life.  It symbolises the rebirth of nature, the fertility of the Earth and all creation.  In many traditions the egg is a symbol for the whole universe.  The 'cosmic' egg contains a balance of male and female, light and dark, in the egg yolk and egg white.  The golden orb of the yolk represents the Sun God enfolded by the White Goddess, perfect balance, so it is particularly appropriate to Ostara and the Spring Equinox when all is in balance for just a moment, although the underlying energy is one of growth and expansion.
                                                                                                                
So what is the association of the hare and the egg?
Let us tell you a traditional story from the West Country...
Once upon a time the Animal Kingdom gathered together for a meeting in a flurry of great excitement.  There was to be a Very Special Party and a Very Special Guest was coming to visit them.  The Very Special Guest was none other than the Goddess herself, and every creature wanted to give her a Very Special Gift.
Now some of the animals were very rich and some were very poor but off they went to prepare their gifts, for only the very very best would do for the Goddess.  Hare was very very excited, he dearly loved the Goddess and although he was very poor he had a big generous heart - he was going to give her the very finest gift he could find!
Hare rushed home to see what he could find to give to the Goddess - he looked everywhere, in the cupboards and under the bed but there was nothing, even the larder was empty, he had absolutely nothing to give Her.  Except for one thing.  On the shelf in the larder was a single egg.  And that was it.   It was the only thing he had left.  Hare gently took the egg out of the larder and lovingly decorated it and took it to the party.
Hare was very worried, all the other animals gave their gifts of gold and silver and precious jewels and all Hare had was the egg.  Eventually all the gifts had been given and Hare was the very very last.  Hare very shyly presented the Goddess with the egg.  She took it and looked at him and saw the true spirit of Hare.  And there and then the Goddess appointed Hare as her Very Special Animal - because Hare had given away everything he had.......
Once told, this is a story you will have to repeat over and over again - be warned! 

The Hot Cross Bun! 

If you are weary of Hot Cross Bun's this might renew your taste buds.  Think of it as a Celtic Cross, the four equal armed cross of balance within the circle.  You have two Equinoxes crossed by the two Solstices, the four seasons, the four Sacred Directions of North, East, South and West and the five elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water with Spirit at the Centre.  The circumference represents the cycle of the year, the circle of life, with the still point of balance at its centre.  (Brazenly lifted from Glennie Kindred's book of 'Sacred Celebrations').

The Serpent/Dragon

In some mythologies the goddess Eostre/Ostara is associated with serpent or dragon energy.       At this point in the year the serpent or Kundalini energy is positively exploding!

All Spring Flowers

Daffodils, primroses, violets, crocuses, celendine, catkins, pussy willow in profusion.

Ostara Colours

Bright green, yellow and purple

Ideas for your Altar

Coloured eggs, seeds, feathers, all spring flowers, green, yellow and purple, all foliage that is sprouting into leaf.

Trees of Ostara

Birch

As Birch is one of the first trees to come into leaf it is an obvious choice as representing the emergence of Spring.  Deities associated with Birch are mostly love and fertility goddesses.  Eostre/Ostara, the Celtic goddess of Spring was celebrated in festivities and dancing around and through the birch tree between the Spring Equinox and Beltane.  In the Ogham Alphabet, Birch riles from December 24th-January20th.  Birch twigs were traditionally used to make besoms (a new broom sweeps clean).  It signifies a new start, beginnings and birth.

Ash

In the Ogham Alphabet, Ash rules from February 18-March17.  In Norse mythology the Yggdrasil, the world tree, was an Ash.  Odin hung from it to obtain enlightenment and the secret of the runes.  The spear of Odin was made from the branch of this tree.  This is one of three trees sacred to the druids (Ash, Oak and Thorn).  The cosmic tree, Yggdrasil was the Ash which links the world of men with the realms of spirit and myth, and imparted understanding of the interconnection of all things. Two springs flow from its roots, the sources of Wisdom and of Fate.  Ash teaches that all life is interconnected on all levels of existence - past, present and future, spiritual, mental and physical.  Whatever happens on one level, happens on all levels.  Your thoughts and actions and whatever you do in the physical world will affect all levels of your being.

Alder

In the Ogham Alphabet Alder rules from March 18-April 14.  At this time of the Spring Equinox, the Alder is flourishing on riverbanks, its roots in the water, bridging and holding the magical space between both heaven and earth, holding the space between worlds.  It is sacred to Bran who laid himself down for his men to use as a bridge to cross the sea.

Things To Do

Eggs

There are endless traditions surrounding eggs at Ostara, so here are just a few suggestions!  We are awash with chocolate eggs nowadays - if you have children don't forget the Egg Hunt in the garden (our best ever was on top of the Mendip Hills in Somerset), painting boiled eggs and writing wishes on them, sowing cress seeds inside and giving it a face, this is a FUN festival and so very easy to do something.  (And when your child becomes a young woman don't make the mistake of thinking she has grown out of Egg Hunts as I did - what a crestfallen face!)

And:

Bury a raw egg by the entrance to your home to ensure abundance for the forthcoming year and fertility in your garden.
Or:  Nana Violet's Egg Charm.
Think carefully what you wish for!  The general rule of thumb is a brown egg for wishes involving animals and white for wishes involving people and plants, for example healing a sick animal, person or plant.  Eggs with white shells are difficult to come by now as chickens are generally given feed which produces the desired brown shell, but in recent years some of the supermarkets are making white eggs available at this time of year so they are worth looking out for.
1. Blow the egg.  Using a fat needle, pierce a hole in both ends of the egg, making one hole larger than the other.  Using the needle pierce the egg yolk gently and swirl it around to break up the yolk.  Place a small drinking straw in one end and gently blow through the other hole to help gravity do its work.
2. Paint Your Egg Talisman.  When your egg has thoroughly dried out place it on top of a little mound of blue tack to hold it in place and you are ready to go!  Choose a symbol to represent your wish - a heart for love, coin for prosperity, a candle for wisdom, whatever is meaningful for you.  Or you can paint the whole egg in a corresponding colour - red for love, green for prosperity, purple for wisdom and so on.  Another way to do it is to stick rose petals on for love, or feathers for fertility - again it is what is meaningful to you that is important.

3. When it is ready find a suitable place for it and prepare for it for hanging by threading a thin thread (embroidery thread, thin wool) through the two holes and secure it with a large knot, a bead, or even a matchstick at the bottom to hold it steady.

4. Focus on your wish and hang it up saying 'Little charm made of shell as I hang you here may all be well.  May all things grow.  May all things flow.  Blessings of the Wheel."   Use these words or any others that you are comfortable with - remember this is all about your intention.
Egg charm donated by our Counter Enchantress from her own family traditions.

Ostara Bread

You will need:
3 mugs strong white flour
500 mls buttermilk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ground almonds (optional)
3 tablespoons golden syrup
juice of 2 lemons
1 small beaten egg for glazing
soft brown sugar for sprinkling
Blend the ground almonds and flour together in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk/lemon juice and golden syrup.  Now for the messy bit - mix together with a wooden spoon or with your hands - whichever you prefer.  As you do so think of the emerging life we celebrate at this time and add the hopes, ideas and wishes you have for the year to come.  Repeat three times:

'Out of Earth toward the Light, New Beginnings taking Flight...'
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a circle.  With a sharp knife lightly score the bread into two halves to represent the Equinox.  Glaze with beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the top.  Bake in a moderate oven for about 20-25 minutes.  When sharing this bread with friends or family you can invite them to add their oen wishes to the loaf before it is divided up for all to share.  Brightest Blessings, Debs.

Bake A Cake

Vernal Equinox Cake
Spring tides are rising high
Life cycles turning
Bursts of energy make magic fly
Rebirth is the learning.

Spring and moon magic and the mad March hare, mating and matching, birthing and hatching and all of the energy is there.  This cake is the richness of spring, of the vernal equinox brought forth from the rich darkness of winter. It is a light cake of eggs and rises high in its tin, it's whiteness echoes the whiteness of the first blossoms of the thorn in the spring and the reflected light from the moon. It is best decorated simply with a light white icing dressed with blossom petals of primrose and cowslip.

You need:
4 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons cold water
12 oz - caster sugar - 375gms
smidgen under 1/4 pint - boiling water - 125mls
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
8 oz - sieved plain flour - 450gms
few drops vanilla essence
the grated rind of 1/2 a lemon
Grease and line a DEEP 8 inch cake tin and importantly preheat the oven to gas mark two, 300F/150C.

To start beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are stiff and then put them to one side.

In your cauldron, or large bowl, beat the egg yolks and cold water for at least five minutes.
Think and talk of all the things that Spring and the Vernal Equinox mean to you, gradually beat in the sugar and then the boiling water, your yolks should be getting whiter and whiter.
Now beat in the salt, baking powder and flour beating and concentrating all the time, stir in the lemon and vanilla and gradually slow down until you are able to gently fold in the egg whites and turn the mixture directly into its tin.
Bake the cake for one and a half hours; do not peek for at least 45 minutes. 
This cake rises high in its tin and should be very light and white, a breath of fresh spring air.


Recipe donated by M Saille from her wonderful book The Kitchen Cauldron.
All information offered is checked to the best of our ability, and whilst every effort has been made to make it accurate, no responsibility will be accepted for errors and omissions.
Any information displayed on our web site(s) or other printed matter from the shop is not regarded to be authoritative or certified as the best practice and is only considered to be useful supplementary advice to other certified codes of practice. All information on our web site is updated regularly.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Trees Dance

Trees dance you know.
It's true, they do.
They are just shy.
So they dance
By moonlight when
Nobody watches.
Oaks performing
A stately Gavotte.
Silver Birches a ballet
To the sounds of the night.
Saplings of course disco
Forgive them they are young.
You look at me as if I am mad.
But trees dance you know.
It's true, they do.

Pangur-ban 3/2/2010

Hecate

 



 

 
At night, particularly at the dark of the moon, this goddess walked the roads of ancient Greece, accompanied by sacred dogs and bearing a blazing torch. Occasionally she stopped to gather offerings left by her devotees where three roads crossed, for this threefold goddess was best honored where one could look three ways at once. Sometimes, it was even said that Hecate could look three ways because she had three heads: a serpent, a horse, and a dog.
While Hecate walked outdoors, her worshipers gathered inside to eat Hecate suppers in her honor, gatherings at which magical knowledge was shared and the secrets of sorcery whispered and dogs, honey and black female lambs sacrificed. The bitch-goddess, the snake-goddess, ruled these powers and she bestowed them on those who worshiped her honorably. When supper was over, the leftovers were placed outdoors as offerings to Hecate and her hounds. And if the poor of Greece gathered at the doorsteps of wealthier households to snatch the offerings, what matter?
Some scholars say that Hecate was not originally Greek, her worship having traveled south from her original Thracian homeland. Others contend that she was a form of the earth mother Demeter, yet another of whose forms was the maiden Persephone. Legends, they claim, of Persephone's abduction and later residence in Hades give clear prominence to Hecate, who therefore must represent the old wise woman, the crone, the final stage of woman's growth-the aged Demeter herself, just as Demeter is the mature Persephone.
In either case, the antiquity of Hecate's worship was recognized by the Greeks, who called her a Titan, one of those pre-Olympian divinities whom Zeus and his cohort had ousted. The newcomers also bowed to her antiquity by granting to Hecate alone a power shared with Zeus, that of granting or withholding from humanity anything she wished. Hecate's worship continued into classical times, both in the private form of Hecate suppers and in public sacrifices, celebrated by "great ones" or Caberioi, of honey, black female lambs, and dogs, and sometimes black human slaves.
As queen of the night, Hecate was sometimes said to be the moon-goddess in her dark form, as Artemis was the waxing moon and Selene the full moon. But she may as readily have been the earth goddess, for she ruled the spirits of the dead, humans who had been returned to the earth. As queen of death she ruled the magical powers of regeneration; in addition, she could hold back her spectral hordes from the living if she chose. And so Greek women evoked Hecate for protection from her hosts whenever they left the house, and they erected her threefold images at their doors, as if to tell wandering spirits that therein lived friends of their queen, who must not be bothered with night noises and spooky apparitions.
Text from Patricia Monaghan's The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines
Published by Llewellyn, copyright 1997.   Used by permission of the author.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Awake!!

Awake.

Come forth from cold Winters dreamlike state.
Shake and rattle, shaman it is your fate,
Jump, dance ,for joy and in elation.
Join the youthful kings wild and merry chase,
Over hill, under dale, through the merry grove.
Searching long for his beloveds sweet face,
Looking here and there, and in every cove.
Come, search with him for your hearts desire,
For life and love, in Springs renewing power
Found at last she waits, with heart on fire
And those who come she bids not leave.
So enter then this timeless, place of joy,
With ecstasy, that time, cannot destroy.

Pangur-ban

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Haikus for Spring



Daffodils yellow blooms
trumpet springs hope of renewal
lifting the heart and spirit

Cherry blossoms, pink purity
fall in waves from trees shaken
by gentle spring breezes

Snowdrops white and green
lift their heads above the snow
graceful Goddess flowers.

Snowdrops white and green
lift their heads above the snow
graceful Goddess flowers.

Crocuses run riot
scintillating jewel like
uplifting the heart.

Pangur-ban

Pangur-ban

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Hush the Green Man Sleeps

 
Hush! The Green Man sleeps.
And dreams of warmer times.
When clothed in green
He will walk the leafy lanes
in search of his beloved.

Wandering, he comes across
all their old trysting places,
where in years gone past
he courted her in gay abandon.
All the while calling her name.
But she answers not.

She too is reborn this spring
as a maiden unused to loves ways.
so the dance must begin again
his love he must court all anew,
a love that at Beltains feast
will be fulfilled, and from their joining
the Earth bursts forth with life anew.

Pangur-ban  24/12/2007

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Promise of Spring

The promise of Spring
was evident this morn
in the blush of pale green buds
covering the trees like a mantle.

And here and there green shoots
push through the dark earth.
New life from crocus bulbs planted
last Autumn tide and forgot till now.

And soon ewes heavy with young
will give birth on bitter hillsides.
To lambs with springs in their legs
who run and jump for joy.

But what of my soul dark and cold,
still frozen with winters chill.
The promise that the Maiden brings
starts a melting within me.

Then Winters stillness and silence
that echoed within in me is banished
And an answer to the Maiden comes
from deep within my soul.

It is the young God of the green wood
birthed again within me young and virile.
And so the mystery unfolds again
Young God and maiden join once more.

In my soul new life is born again
The chill of winter recedes once more.
Springs warmth is promised soon
To melt my winter hardened heart.

Pangur-ban

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Blackbird


The Blackbirds have been singing their spring songs for the last few days and they have inspired me. So here is what the Druid animal oracle has to say about them.

Blackbird.
Druid Dhubh.

Enchantment, The Gateway, The Inner call.

The card shows a blackbird sitting on a rowan tree. It is twilight and the first stars are appearing in the sky. In the background we see the entrance to an enchanted cave. Druid Dhubh is the bird of both the gateway and the forge.

Druid Dhubh calls to us from the gateway between two worlds, urging us to follow a spiritual path or to become more self aware. He calls to us in the twilight, showing us the path to otherworldly secrets, pointing out the ways in which we can discover more about our hidden motivations and potential. There are times in life when it is important to concentrate on the outer world and you responsibilities in that world, but there are also times when you must attend to the haunting song of your soul which calls you to a study of spiritual truths, and to an exploration of the inner world through dreams and myths. In heeding Druid Dhubh’s song, you will discover healing and new depths in your soul.

The Tradition of the Blackbird.

One of the Gaelic names for the blackbird, Druid Dhubh, means the Black Druid. Druid Dhubh is a bird which sings beautifully and melodiously at twilight, and even later. Twilight is the shimmering time, a time of transition between one reality and the next. Such in-between times are considered especially significant in the Druid tradition. The blackbird sings to us as the world changes around us, as the time of daylight and consciousness and the concrete world gives way to the moon-time of the unconscious, of the otherworld. His song reminds us that these gateway times are ones of great beauty and potential.

If we are to follow Druid Dhubh’s song we will be led to a place of depth and enchantment from which we may uncover secrets about ourselves and the world.

From the Druid Animal Oracle.

Dance With the Goddess

Come dance with me my love,
come dance, the dance of life.
Surrender yourself to my embrace
lose yourself in me.
Know that I am your Goddess and your lover,
lay with me and create the gift of life.
Lay with me through the dark and sultry night
and with the dawn
a new day will be born.
Do not fear me my love,
Do not fear your feelings.
For with me is love made perfect.
I am your beginning.
I am your maturity.
I am your end.
So come dance with me my love,
and we will live forever.

pangur ban

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Song of Amergin

 
I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

I am a spear: that roars for blood,
I am a salmon: in a pool,
I am a lure: from paradise,
I am a hill: where poets walk,
I am a boar: ruthless and red,
I am a breaker: threatening doom,
I am a tide: that drags to death,
I am an infant: who but I
Peeps from the unhewn dolman arch?

I am the womb: of every holt,
I am the blaze: on every hill,
I am the queen: of every hive,
I am the shield: for every head,
I am the tomb: of every hope.

~1530 B.C.E.
Song of Amergin translated by Robert Graves, from The White Goddess, Faber and Faber Limited, 24 Russell Square London WC1. It appears here under the principle of Fair Use.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Land of Fantasy.


 
Land of fantasy.

Sleep comes eyelids drooping
carrying me of to the land of Morpheus.
There to find wonders beyond belief.
Fabulous flying faeries of vibrant hue,
Crimson red and cobalt blue
Turquoise green and saffron yellow, rainbow streaks
In the air.
Here there be dragons to
Of every shape and size..and hue.
Big fire breathing monsters protecting their golden hoard,
Their smaller cousins here also can be found
Alighting on your shoulder singing sweet songs of joy.
And as you travel this land of wonder
The biggest wonder of all, you may see the Elven ones
Travelling on their way, and if ....if you're very lucky
They may stop and share with you
Songs of magical daring do.
But all to soon its over you wake with a start!
And find on your pillow
Fairy dust, a piece of gold and forest leaves.
pangur-ban

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My Sanctuary


My sanctuary is quite a complex landscape that exists on the astral plain. I enter my sanctuary via a moonlit bay which is horseshoe in shape comprising of a shingle bank where the waves slowly break onto the shore and sea Otters play  amongst the breakers.

Walking slowly inland the landscape turns to heathland dominated by silver birch trees and the air is full of insects and the chirring of night jars.

Walking further inland the heathland gives way to a very English country lane bounded by an ancient hedgerow where it is always late summer early autumn with the blackberries and sloes in full fruit. It is here where my teacher the grey haired crone parks her wagon.

As I leave the hedgerow behind I start to climb as the landscape becomes one of downland with the grass waving in the wind. This is a place of horses and giants carved into the chalk and dominating the down is a huge standing stone full twenty feet tall and covered in carved spirals.

As I climb the last hill it is here that my sacred grove can be found within in a perfect ring of silver birches, in the centre of the grove a fire is always burning. it is here that I meet my animal guides and find a safe environment to work with my gwers.

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Robins Song

Is this the start of spring
a rich blue sky, the sun glowing
behind cotton wisp clouds.
A seemingly gentle breeze
to blow the cobwebs away.

Lured out to find that nature
is the mistress of disguise.
This seemingly gentle zephyr
carries the smell of the arctic wastes
intent on cutting me in two.

This same wind carries other things
bringing in its wake the Robins song.
Bursts of ecstatic emotion
like liquid jewels that burst in my ears
a sensory feast of joy.

Pangur-ban 5/02/08