Archive for March, 2011

Beltane Blessing (Beannachadh Bealtain) 30 April-1 May

It is established and steadfast and bright and true,
That from Beltaine eve, Summerland magic leaps through,
And as a cup full of the fullness of natures invocation,
Generous as three times thrice the incantations wisdom to view.

Before the Sky and the Earth and the Sea, they have all called together,
Before the Sun and the Moon and the Stars, they have spoken as one,
By the breath of the Taliesin and of the Ganna Bandruich,
Upon the height of the hill of the many feathered winds,
Of the Eight Lesser Winds and Four Major Winds and a Wind Above all the winds as yet still not hewn,
From the Druids tongue of flames, a roaring fire will be declared here, twice in the runes,
It is a Blaze that will go all around them to the left and to the right,
To purify the night, turning aside adversity and transformed in its shape,
To burst forth the day of flowers, which is certain.

Star light shining bright empowers the Queen of the Faeries this night,
Be also empowered O people of the world lest you melt in her powerful sight,
Be not a ghost all spindled in Wonder exceeding Wonder,
But see the Fairy Host dancing within forest field and river, chanting and singing petitions of hope in the heart,
Each of a hundred-fold Sidhe will go around you and around you,
And they will come upon Him as it is always arranged,
And they will Vanish in the morning light, interwoven with the cool dew and the soft light,
And they will yield away completely, melt into forever the home of the fey.

I do bestow a fishfull sea and fertile lands soon prolific with prosperous harvests,
And green and fruited trees drooping down with the heavy growth of the fruits upon them,
And waxing fleshfull fleeced and round of sheep, goats and cattle amongst the fresh filled pastures roaming,
And delight as the Maidens sweet as wild honey each, and as fair as the lily after spring has spoken.

Joy/As May Queen manifest and with her the Green Man to the Great Rite eternal today,
A Sacred Marriage shall arise among them as in precious Chalice they set Earth’s Athame..
Opening here the secret gates behind the departed darkness of night,
And outside of the brilliance of the brightness of day,
And our flowering ones will lead us in to the Summerlands, the excellent lands, in the most beautiful way.

Be celebrated each and all then in this dance of the May,
As maids skip a ring, A’ conjuring the new Summer in,
Weaving lives, love and laughter, beside and before you, weaving bright welcome gladness all around.

And By the essence of the Oak, of Rowan and of Hawthorn in hedgerow,
By the magical energy within which I turn,
Peace Joy and Abundance to the Sky and to the Earth beneath Sky,
And to all of the peoples upon the Earth on this day
And of the binding of this blessing, I do myself bind it,
To the heart be it binded, a deep blessing from today.

It is established.

c. Celestial Elf 2011.

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On the tradition of Druid Rhetoric and Poetry;
Whilst Druid’s occasionally carried magic wands and stones, in the majority of cases the Druids’ only magic ‘tool’ was their voice and their words…
They were sage advisers and most often called upon to counsel Kings and other social leaders.
Above all else, they were exemplary poets and in Ancient Ireland this position was honored with status and rights surpassing even that of the Kings whom they advised.
The Rosc that such Druid’s wrote(pl Roscanna)is a rhetorical, usually magical, chant, more than just a poem, these are poems that can invoke or topple the Gods and conjure whole nations from thin air.
Intended to be obscure, full of puns, and often set in deliberately ‘pseudo-archaic’ forms intermixed with more modern idioms, these poems were not public proclamations but ‘magic’ spells and prophecy, conceived to draw mystic power from having multiple meanings and ancient obscure diction.
This multi-faceted aspect of the language of Roscanna has the same insistence on ambiguity which one finds in ancient Celtic and Irish art wherein a given figure is not merely a spiral or a face or an animal or a leaf, but is all of them at once in an exquisite gestalt.

So it has been said ~

Of Taliesin;
Taliesin is probably the most famous of the Cynfeirdd, the early Bards.
As such he has assumed an almost mythic status to the extent that two distinct Taliesin’s have emerged: the historic figure of the late sixth century and an entirely mythological figure whose legends were chronicled into the Ystoria Taliesin (Tale of Taliesin) by Elis Gruffydd in the mid sixteenth century.
His name is derived from the proto-Celtic elements talo(forehead) and jes-t-īn-o(bright) and has been interpreted as ‘radiant brow’ possibly referring to his blonde hair, but equally possibly representing the radiance of his gift of poetry, his awen.

Of Ganna Bandruich, the Female Druid;
Whilst most Roman records referred mainly to male Druids, the existence of female Druids is confirmed by the written sources from the Greek and Roman who were fascinated by the role of women in Celtic society.
The Celtic culture as a whole was known to accord equal status and high regard to their women folk in contrast to Roman world where women had no political rights and very limited civil rights, Roman women could not for example own property or inherit land, were kept in seclusion and considered ‘chattel’.

Because the rights of Celtic women were many times better than the rest of Europe, we can make an educated guess that a persons gender mattered little when one wished to study the Druid ways.
All that would be needed is a strong memory and intellect and the desire to learn.
In addition there are references to bandrui in the medieval Irish tales, ban signifiying female and drui for Druid.
Conchobor Mac Nessa’s mother Nessa was a druid, Finn was raised by a female druid and Scathach is explicitly called both a flaith or ‘prophetess’ and a druid and she prophesies about Cú Chulainn.

Of the name Ganna, Dio Cassius mentions that a Druidess named Ganna went on an embassy to Rome and was received by Domitian, younger son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, this serves as precedent for the name here used..

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On the Beltane Festivals;
Beltane or Beltane is the Gaelic name for the festival that rightly begins on April the 30th or Beltane’s eve and continues on 1st May and is a celebration of purification and fertility.
The name originates from the Celtic god, Bel – the ‘bright one’, and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire, giving the name ‘bealttainn’, meaning ‘bright fire’.
Marking the beginning of the Summer season with the lighting of two great bon-fires on Beltane’s eve signifies a time of purification and transition, these fires may be made of the nine sacred woods, Alder, Ash, Birch, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Oak, Rowan and Willow.
Heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, Beltane festivals were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits.

Significantly, as the Goddess (Brigid) moves through her various phases, Beltane sees the womanly aspect of the Summer Goddess banish the Old Crone aspect of the Winter Goddess in readiness for the maternal time and the fruits of nature to follow.

As this is one of the magic turning points of the Sacred Seasons, the veil between worlds is thought to be especially thin, and as a result many of the Fairy Host, the Sidhe and the Tuatha De Danann may be seen crossing between the worlds.
Particularly, the Faery Queen is thought to travel about on this night and if you gaze too long on her enchanted beauty she may whisk you away to live in her Other realms outside of time for an eternity.
The Faery Queen also represents the May Queen, although in practice the honor is usually carried out by young women who are soon to be married.

The May Queen’s role in the Beltane proceedings, along with her May King, mythically a Jack in The Green, the Green Man or Horned God, is to take part in the Great Rite.
This is the Sacred Marriage of the God and Goddess, often reenacted by a symbolic union during which the Athame (magical knife symbolizing male energy) is placed by the King of May into the Chalice (Sacred Cup symbolizing female energy) held by the Queen of the May.
For a more detailed account of how this ritual was enacted in earlier time,
I refer the reader to Marrion Zimmer Bradley’s moving account in her fiction The Mists of Avalon.

Following this union which serves to Open the way to the Summer Lands,
festivities ensue, particularly that of dancing around the May Pole.
The May Pole itself is a symbol of the union of the God and the Goddess, as the red ribbons represent the fertility of the Goddess, the white represent the fertility of the God.
Men begin the weaving by dancing under the upheld ribbon of the first women facing them, accompanied by music, drums beating or chanting. The dancers move forward, stepping alternately over and under each person who’s dancing toward them.
The dance continues until the Maypole is completely wrapped, then the ribbons are tied off and the wreath from the top is tossed to the earth to bring its gathered power into the ground.

Whilst such public festivals are not as widespread as they once were, famously at Padstow in Cornwall there still is held an annual ‘Obby-Oss‘ day, which is believed to be one of the oldest survivng fertility rites in the United Kingdom.
St. Ives and Penzance in Cornwall are now also seeing a revival of similar public festivities.

Other Beltane Lore;
During Medieval times, a man might also propose marriage by leaving a hawthorn branch at the door of his beloved on the first day of May.
If the branch was allowed to remain at her door, it was a signal that the proposal was accepted. If it was replaced with a cauliflower, the proposal was turned down.
Crosses of birch and rowan twigs were hung over doors on the May morning as a blessing and protection, and left until next May day.
Going ‘A-Maying’ meant staying out all night to gather flowering hawthorn, watching the sunrise and making love in the woods, also known as a ‘greenwood marriage’
The dew on the May day morning is believed to have a magical potency – wash your face and body in it and you will remain fair all year.

Blessed Beltane to You ~

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the bee myth

An Environmental Machinima film based on Willi Paul’s modern myth, The Bee Cave Spirits; ( http://www.planetshifter.com/node/1638 )
Set in a post Distopian society of a not too distant future, this film introduces the cause of bees and their integral value to the eco-sphere.

Bees in Traditional Culture;
Throughout history in many world cultures a mystical relationship to honeybees can be found.
In the Ancient world the Great Mother was known as the Queen Bee and her priestesses were called Melissae.
They served the Bee Goddesses and functioned as Oracles carrying the golden wisdom of the Goddess to her people.
The honeycomb was even considered by the Greek Pythagoreans to be a symbol of the Goddess’ qualities of love and harmony, because of its hexagonal shape which in being composed of two triangles, one pointing upwards (Fire) and the other downwards, (Water) symbolized the perfect union between the opposites.
The Druids of Northern Europe reverenced the bees for their ability to pollinate flowers and crops, which was regarded as a sacred charge because honey was seen as a precious gift from the Mother Goddess herself.
Many Native American Indian tribes also used honey and other bee by-products, including the early Maya and Aztec Indians who kept bees and collected honey from the wild bees.
However the bee population of North America and Europe is now in serious decline, which threatens disaster to our food crops as they are dependent upon the bees to pollinate them.
The increase of commercial agriculture with its use of pesticides and destruction of wild plants and flowers upon which the bees forage upon contributed to this problem.
As bees are then an indicator of cross species health on ‘Mother Earth’, they are interestingly also an allegory for mankind’s psychological and spiritual well-being…

Introducing Permaulture;
Permaculture, based on ecological and biological principles, is a holistic approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies, harmoniously integrating the land with all of its inhabitants.
Whilst it is understood that earlier peoples did farm in cooperation with the Earth and her seasonal cycles, that for example the Druids in the North and other social leaders did much to manage and advise their communities on how and when to sow and tend crops and animals, following ‘modern’ Industrialization these techniques had been abandoned in favor of faster turn around of product for the market.
In our time however, Bill Mollison, who could be called the instigator of a Quiet Revolution, launched with his book Permaculture One (1978) an international resurgence of land-use structured on cooperation with nature.
( http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/mollison.html )
Within this Permaculture system, the ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all included, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored.
The fundamental ‘core values’ of Permaculture are often summarized as;
1. Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (is possibly itself a living entity — see the Gaia theory) and that we are a part of Earth, not apart from it.

2. Fairshare – in which animals are treated as co-habitators and co-workers of the Earth, eating foods normally unpalatable to people such as pests ie slugs and termites, and supplying valuable mineral rich fertilizer through their droppings.

3. Natural Energy use: e.g. employing a cave for preservation due to its ideally dry, dark and warm conditions, using the integration of co-operative crops rather than weeding as the growth of field flowers among corn allows the bees to better pollinate, and employing some ‘weeds’ to keep others at bay due to the nature of their chemical interaction with the soil, thus avoiding pesticides and chemicals which undermine the Earths ability to host its cycle of growths, in contrast to more usually practiced Industrial Agriculture which intensively exploits the soil, plants and animals.

For more information on Permaculture please follow these links;
( http://www.permaculture.org.uk/ )
( http://www.permacultureusa.org/ )

Blessed Bee !

The Mermaid Queen

The Celtic legends of Mermaids may have their origins in the part-man part-fish Sea-God Oannes who was worshiped by the Babylonians around 5000BCE,
who was also the Sun-God, rising out of the sea each day and disappearing back under the waves each night.
He was a civilizing force for the good, bringing light and life to his people, representing the positive values connected with the sea.
Oannes’ Goddess counterpoint was Atargatis, a Semetic moon Goddess who became the first official Mermaid and represents nature herself..

The Mermaid is the most persistent and pervasive symbol of the old Goddess energy that represents women, particularly their mysterious, life-generating element.
However, battling the Ancient ways in an effort to establish itself, the early Christian church promoted the ideas that mermaids were dangerous temptresses and had no souls, but embodied the lure of fleshy pleasures to be shunned by the God-fearing.
The anti feminine propaganda was also carried out against many harmless old women who were put to death as witches by burning or hanging for practicing traditional herb-lore.
Similarly the Goddess-Mermaid was stripped of all her spiritual qualities and relegated to be an evil Siren of the seas.
Such views have endured in the many sailors stories that simultaneously tell of one family of mermaids, the Nereids, who were protective of sailors, whilst another, the dangerous Sirens, lured men to their doom.

In contrast with such negative portrayals, the earlier myths and legends such as those of the Isle of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, present many tales in which Mermaids and Druids abound in happy community.
Known as the Isle of Druids and once called Innis nan Druidhneach, Iona is known to be a ‘thin place’ where the veil between worlds can be traversed, a place where the sense of the sacred seems more pronounced than in more mundane parts of the world.
Iona was also a seat of learning long before the first Christians first came to these lands.
There are tales that a new Divinity will take human form on the Isle of Iona, this time in the body of a woman, an amalgam of the Divine Sophia and the Goddess called by many names including Brith, Brid and Mary of the Gael. It is said that when She arrives, the world will know peace.
Today the remains of over 350 standing stones are still to be found on Iona….

In this film we also see the Selkie, who according to Celtic folklore is mythological shapeshifting sea fairie, usually living in the form of a bright-eyed seal and found in Northern Scotland and the Shetland Islands.
In earlier times Selkies often came to land in a human form, where they would dance, especially on the night of the full moon.
In taking human form the Selkies would shed their Seal-skins, and hide them in a safe place.
There are many tales from the clans of leaders taking Selkie wives by stealing their skins, because Selkies are said to make good wives, although they always longed for the sea, and would return to their Seal form as soon as they gained repossession of their skins.
Fortunately for us, our Selkie was not pursued by anybody, but runs free to this day, as far as we know.

Following Lisa Thiel’s lead in her beautiful song, in this film we celebrate the life giving goodness of the Goddess of the Seas, the Mermaid Queen restored.
For the sake of narrative unity, I have named our Scottish man Morcant-Taisch, composed of two ancient Celtic names, MorCant meaning Sea Circle, or Circle of the Sea, and Taisch being the Celtic name given to those with the Second Sight.
Morcant-Taisch then has been blessed with the Second Sight and sees the Queen of the Mermaids visiting her ancient kingdom of Innis nan Druidhneach, The Isle of Iona.

Grateful thanks for Lisa Thiel’s permission to use the Song of the Mermaid Queen (C) 1990 Lisa Thiel,
And David J. Macvitie for Kaan Pipes Intro instrumental, from Circle of the Seasons (c) 2005 Lisa Thiel
via Sacred Dream .com ( http://www.sacreddream.com/ )

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