Archive for the ‘Celtic’ Category

The Tree Of Life

Based on ‘The Tree’, an Original Short Story by L.F.Tallis
for the Prose competition Order of Bards Ovates and Druids.
Adapted for Machinima Film by Celestial Elf.

The Tree stands alone in the middle of the field, it’s been there since time began, so the legend goes…..

The farmer grumbles at the tree and raises his fist, as he does every year.
“Damn tree! I will have to plough around you again, as every year, tomorrow I will cut you down and be done with you.”
The tree’s leaves rustle in the wind and the branches sway.

“Be a pity to cut the tree down don’t you think.”

The farmer stops the plough
“Who said that” the farmer shouts, “Show yourself. ”
The farmer turns around and he sees the man, standing just behind him, at the back of his plough, a man he’s never seen before.
The farmer notices that the man is strangely dressed all in green.
He’s wearing a dark green jacket and light green trousers, and on his head a round hat with leaves on the top.
The farmer asks again,
“Who are you and what are you doing in my field?”

The man looks up at the farmer.
“So this is your field?” and then he gives the farmer a bow.

“Yes and my fathers and his fathers before him, for as long as I can remember and it will be my sons after me.”

The man looks at the tree.
“So this tree has grown here all that time, and no ones cut it down before.”
The man sits down on a big root that is growing out of the tree, above the ground.

The farmer climbs down from his plough.
“There is a silly folk legend, but I don’t believe in such silly notions,” the farmer says as he walk over to the man all dressed in green.

The man reaches into his jacket pocket and takes out a pie.
“A legend,” he says as he then takes a knife out of his other pocket, and cuts the pie in half.
“So pray tell me of this legend,” the man asks the farmer, as he offers the farmer half of his pie.

The farmer is hungry, he’s been working in the field since sunrise and hasn’t had time for breakfast yet, so he accepts the offer.
“Thank you,” and he sits down beside the man in green and takes a big bite of the pie.
Now he’s never tasted such a pie, after every bit he feels full of energy,
“This pie is so good..” he says as he wipes his mouth.

The man looks at the farmer and just smiles, and asks the farmer again about the legend, “Apparently the tree, has a Spirit Guardian that protects it, that’s all I know ” the farmer replies.

The man reaches out and touches the old tree trunk,
the farmer continues talking,
“Haven’t really taken any notice or listened to the story’s, just a silly myth past down from one generation to the next.”

The man in green is still touching the tree trunk,
“This tree looks very old, do you know how old it is ?”

The farmer looks at the tree, now he’s never really done that before, it has lots of old scars and crags,..
“No and I don’t really care ”the farmer stands up and gives the tree a kick,
“the tree is coming down tomorrow, and that will be the end of the silly stories.”
The farmer looks at his watch,
“Well I have to go, bye and thank you for the pie.”

The man in green now stops rubbing the old tree and looks at the farmer.
“Glad you liked it, I will be passing here again tomorrow, so I will see you,… unless you change your mind about cutting the tree down.”

The farmer shakes his head,
“No, it’s had its last day” then he climbs onto the plough.

“Then I’ll see you tomorrow ” the man in green says as he walks behind the tree, as the farmer drives back to the farmyard.

Ring Ring, Ring Ring, the alarm goes of its 3 am, the farmer gets up dresses, and goes down stairs, by the back door is the axe he sharpened last night ready to cut the tree down today.
He picks up the axe and goes outside and makes his way over to the field, and to the tree in the middle, as he approaches he see the man leaning against the tree.

“Good morning such a lovely day,” the man says, looking at the axe in the farmers hand, “Is that the axe to cut the tree down with?”

The farmer nods
“Yes and it wont take me long… ” he says as he walks up to the tree,

The man moves away from the tree,
“Are you really going to cut it down, no way I can change your mind?”

The man looks at the tree then back at the farmer,
“No, just keep out of my way or you may get struck by my axe!”

The farmer makes a mark on the trunk, ready for the axe to hit, then he raises the axe and takes a swing at the tree, the tree shudders under the blow which takes out a chunk of bark.

The man in green turns red just for a moment, the farmer hasn’t notice as he raising the axe up for another swing at the tree.
The man in green puts his hand on the farmers shoulder,
“Have you eaten yet ?” he asks,

“No not yet…” replied the farmer as he lowers the axe.

“Then have some of my pie, the Tree can wait for a few more minutes, I made it just for you.”

The farmer puts down the axe and takes the pie, it smells so good, he takes a big bite, then another.
The man just watches as he eats up all the pie.
“How was it ?” the man asks.

The farmer licks his lips
“So good, every bite has a different taste, pork, beef, chicken I could eat more.”

So the man offers him his half.
“Then have my half too, I’m not hungry.”

The farmer eats every crumb,
“Thank you, I feel so full of life! ”

The man in green gives the farmer a strange look.
“You still have time to change your mind, do you really need to cut the tree down ?” he waits for a reply,
but the farmer doesn’t answer, he just picks up the axe, then he raises it up high and strikes the tree.

As he strikes the tree, the man turns red and speaks
“That was the second blow to the Tree.”

The farmer looks at the tree,…..
“Yes and now its going to be three,” as the axe hits the tree a cry is heard from the farmers mouth,
“AAAAAhh……….hwe”
The farmer tries to run, but he is rooted to the spot, the axe is wrenched out of his hands by the big tree-root and thrown far away.

“You really should have listened to the legend ” the green man says, the farmer can only look on, as the root rises up and entwines around his waist and lifts him off the ground.

The farmer shouts,
“Help me, Help me ” to the man.

The man looks up,
“You hurt yourself, I can’t help you.”

The farmer sobs
“How did I?”

The man continues,
“Why, with every blow you struck to the old tree, was to yourself, as this is the tree of life.”

Then at this the tree root rose up and then plunged down deep into the earth with the farmer tightly in its grasp, and disappears.

The man looks down at the ground with a sad look on his face.
“They never listen ” then he turns and slowly walks into the tree,
the leaves rustle just for a moment and then are silent.

Legend of the tree
I am the tree of life my time is endless,
I have no beginning and I have no end.
Standing here in this field, there is only one of me.
Beware all that try to destroy me, for I am all Life, Green is the man that my spirit lives in.
Twice I will give you pardon, Twice you can walk away.
Twice I will give you life, But heed this warning…
Thrice you will end your life.

The moral of this story is that every action you take can and will have a bearing on your life and others around.

c. L.F.Tallis.

http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F41318679&show_artwork=true

The Importance of Trees;

Trees are the largest and longest living organisms on The Earth, important in so many physical, ecological, environmental, psychological and spiritual ways since time immemorial.

Whilst Northern Europe was once covered in Trees and Forests, that it is no-longer so makes all the more pressing our need for many reasons to protect and cherish those Trees, Woods and Forests that we still have.

On a wider world basis, the Ecological significance of Trees is so important for everyone’s continued well-being and life, as although the Trees now occupy less than 6 per cent of the land surface of The Earth, they sustain more than half of its biological life forms.

The rising tide of human needs by way of crop foods and of crops for food animals, along with a seemingly endless push to pave over paradise, to re-purpose previously wooded and forest lands is leading to the degradation of the environment and the extinction of many species. There is a real danger that in the not too distant future mankind will destroy a large proportion of the essential diversity of species on The Earth, creating an uninhabitable environment which will lead to an extinction event for humanity. This is not quite as bleak as it may sound because massive extinctions have occurred before and may occur again. The Earth will in time hopefully recover and new species emerge to fill the gaps left by those who have gone before….

For an Eco-Deprived Future, Welcome Artificial Trees….

Towering manmade structures dubbed ‘Super-treespartially block Singapore’s financial skyline. Ranging from 82 to 164 feet tall(25 to 50 meters), the concrete ‘trees’ are actually vertical gardens covered in tropical flowering climbers, ferns, and epiphytes—nonparasitic plants that grow without soil, using other plants or objects for support. The Supertrees are part of the Gardens by the Bay, a government effort to bring a sampling of the national gardens into the city center. When the site is complete, it will host 18 Supertrees covered in more than 200 species and varieties of plant life.

In the simplest, physical perspective, some of the incredible and complex ways that The Trees sustain our lives and world include;

Trees Produce Oxygen. One mature Tree may produce as much oxygen as ten people breathe in one year. In every Tree, the process of ‘breathing’ takes place in the leaf. Chlorophyll which gives leaves their green coloration, absorbs CO2 gasses in the Air which is chemically and cleanly processed and then released as Oxygen though its pores.

Trees Clean The Air. By intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide, Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through their respiration, and by retaining particulates

Trees Clean the Soil. By absorbing dangerous chemicals and other pollutants, Trees both store harmful pollutants and also change some of these into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and clean water runoff into streams.

Trees in Towns and Cities Reduce Noise Pollution. By absorbing and muffling the increasing range of intrusive and unnatural noises created by the Eco-adversarial machines with which we surround our lives, Trees make our lives in modern urban masses more manageable.

Trees Counter Soil Erosion.Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects. Tree roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil. Trees fight soil erosion, conserve rainwater and reduce water runoff and sediment deposit after storms.As can be seen now in parts of Africa, where the local environment has lost its topsoil due to removal of ‘useless Trees’ and over farming over generations, the replanting of such Trees will eventually facilitate a build up of valuable topsoil and subsequently be suitable for farming once again.

Trees are Carbon Sinks. This means that as The Tree produces its food, it absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots and leaves. Carbon dioxide is a global warming suspect. A Forest is a carbon storage area or a ‘Sink’ that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process stores carbon as wood which is therefore not available as a ‘greenhouse’ gas with all the attendant ecological environmental problems that that entails.

Tree Blessing

The concept of The Tree of Life has been used in Science, Religion, Philosophy, Theology, Mythology, and many other areas. The Tree Of Life is a Universal symbol found in many Spiritual traditions around the world symbolizing Life itself, with its branches reaching to the Heaves, Father Sky, and its buried roots linking to Mother Earth. As such The Tree of Life provides a perfect mystical metaphor for the interconnectedness of all life on Planet Earth.


The Akashic Records Tree of Soul Consciousness
Individual trees are designated to represent the ‘Axis Mundithe axis of the world, or ‘World Tree’ which is a point of intersection between worlds, allowing mystical access between one plane and another.


In terms of The Tree’s Religious and Spiritual context, Trees have been part of pagan worship and magical workings since our distant ancestors. According to the Roman Authors Lucan and Pomponius Mela, the Gaulish Celts worshiped in groves of Trees, a practice which Tacitus and Dio Cassius say was also found among the Celts of Britain. (Strabo Geographica XII, 5, I).
For the ancient Celts, the Yew Tree was a symbol of immortality and in general Trees acted as symbols of renewal. A Tree scarred by lightning was identifies as The Tree Of Life and according to Pliny, the ancient Druids believed that mistletoe grew in these Trees struck by lightning.Druids preformed rituals and ceremonies in groves of sacred Oak Trees and also believed, it is thought, that the interior of the Oak Tree was the abode of the dead.

Majesty, The Fredville Oak, Kent

Yggdrasil by subdommedia

In the Norse Religion, The World Tree is called Yggdrasil, usually thought to be a very sacred, giant Yew or Ash Tree with leaves that extend into the heavens and three roots delving into the lower worlds. A Dragon lives among its roots, an Eagle among its branches, and four Stags live around it’s base and eat the leaves. The Tree is an important location in Norse mythology not only because of its central location in the universe and the creatures that live among it, but also because of many important events which occur there. The existence of nine worlds around Yggdrasil is mentioned more than once in the Old Norse sources, they could either exist one above the other or be grouped around the tree and there are references to worlds existing beneath the tree, while the gods are pictured as in the sky and of a rainbow bridge (Bifrost) connecting the tree with other worlds.

The Worlds or Realms of Yggdrasil are as follows;

The Upper Level
Asgard – At the very top of Yggdrasil, home of two races of Gods, the Aesir and the Vanir.
Vanaheim –The Vanir lived in this realm while they were at war with the Aesir. Since the Gods made peace, the Vanir have lived in Asgard.
Alfheim – The land of the light elves.

The Middle Level
Midgard – This is the realm that we all know, the land of Earth and mankind. There is a bridge of a rainbow between Midgard and Asgard, called Bifrost.
Jotenheim – An icy land of the frost giants.
Nidavellir – Realm of the dwarves.
Svartalfheim – Land of dark elves.
Muspelheim – The fire giants live here, and it is one of these giants that will set the world ablaze at Ragnarok.

The Lower Level
Niflheim – The roots of Yggdrasil emerge in this cold and dark underworld. The goddess Hel rules here, from her hall Eljudnir. Sometimes this realm is actually called Hel, and some sources consider Niflheim and Hel to be two distinct lands of the underworld.

Yggdrasil

The generally accepted meaning of Yggdrasil is ‘Odin’s horse’ because Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from the Tree to learn wisdom, leading the Tree to also be called Odin’s gallows.

Related to Yggdrasil, accounts have survived o f Germanic Tribes honouring sacred trees within their societies. Examples include Thor’s Oak, Sacred Groves, the Sacred tree at Uppsala, and the wooden Irminsul pillar.

Roots of Yggdrasil by Fabian Jimenez

Trees are essential to our well-being in so many different ways from the physical to the spiritual and if we value the quality of our life on The Earth, we would do well to protect and cherish them.


Blessed Be The Tree ~


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A Christmas Carol

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To share a slightly different outlook on the Christmas Festival I wrote a short song modeled after Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but inspired by the earlier Pagan traditions of the Season.

According to historian Ronald Hutton, the current state of observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday spearheaded by Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Hutton argues that Dickens reconstructed Christmas as a family-centered festival… in contrast to the earlier community (and church)-based observations which had dwindled during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Most of our actual British Christmas customs the tree, the turkey, the stocking, the cards and Santa Claus have only appeared since 1840.

This season was always however a time for community, charity and sharing, as the poorest, oldest and feeblest members of a community would become physically vulnerable to hunger and cold. Their morale would take a further dent if they saw their neighbors making merry all round them and were unable to share in any of it. If they then died, this would not be good for the consciences of their survivors; if they lived, they could bear nasty grudges. Hence, from the time that evidence survives, midwinter was a great time for the giving of food, drink or money to the less fortunate. In the Middle Ages people known as Hogglers or Hognels would often volunteer to collect and distribute them. In addition, poor women and children would go from door to door asking for such gifts, a custom known, according to your region, as Thomasing, Gooding or Mumping. The fitter men from the poorer families would visit their wealthier neighbours with plays, dances or songs, and earn the goodies in return; that is why customs such as mummers’ plays, sword dances and carols are so important at this time. So when your doorbell rings and you find a choir yelling ‘Good King Wenceslas’ outside while a collector holds out a tin for a good cause, you are sharing in (a tradition)… thousands of years old.
(Ronald Hutton, Stations Of The Sun)

Whilst the trappings of the modern Christmas are relatively recent, this festive season has been celebrated since history began.
In Ancient Northern Europe the mid-winter Solstice (between 20th/23rd of December) was called ‘Modranicht’ or ‘Earth Mother’s Night’ and as the shortest day of the year it effectively represents the turning point of the season.
In Northern Europe the winter festival was called the Yule (Juul). As the people thought the Sun stood still for twelve days in the midwinter, plunging Mother Earth and all her growing things into the dark, coldness of death, it was thought that spring could not come without their celebration of midwinter.
More on the Yuletide here.

Of Father Christmas, mythologist Helene Adeline Guerber suggests the Northern traditions indicate Santa as the Norse god Thor. Contrastingly from Iceland the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda poems
describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir (Santa originally had eight reindeer, Rudolph was nine) .
More on the origins of Santa Claus here.

Further, that the three greatest Neolithic monuments of Ireland, Scotland and England the massive tombs of Newgrange and Maes Howe, and Stonehenge itself are all aligned on the midwinter sunrise or sunset, shows how important this festival was even in the Stone Age.

With an eye to current world affairs and the rise of Global Corporatism, I have included a protestors scene, with a call to Occupy Christmas as an opportunity to reconsider what the festival may mean now.


✻ ✼ ❄ ❅ ❆ ❇ ❈ ❉ Occupy Christmas ✻ ✼ ❄ ❅ ❆ ❇ ❈ ❉
to learn about the causes of Occupy I recommend Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine
.
I replaced Dickens’ Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future with a mischievous Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws who finally gets his Christmas mission right, after a fashion), and instead of the more usual three visits through time in the life of Ebeneezer Scrooge, my character ‘Scourge’ is given 3 visions instead, to the Three Realms of Celtic mythology;

The Celtic view of the Otherworld consisted of three distinct realms, these being Sea, Land and Sky, their counterparts being Underworld, Earth and Otherworld.

Tir Andomain, Realm of The Underworld and the Sea.
This is the realm of the Ancestors and Gods and Goddesses responsible for the cycle of life, death and rebirth, the realm of the past.

The Meath, Realm of the Land (Earth) represents the present and the physical. We are beings of this realm that we share with the animals and the nature spirits.
Here we see the poverty of Dickens’ London as families live in sheds and children carol sing not for pocket money or treats but for essential foods.

The Magh Mor, Realm of Sky and the Otherworld.
This is where most of the Gods and Goddesses dwell, the realm of the future and the place that grants inspiration, creativity and wisdom. The realm of sky is the pathway of the Sun, Moon and constellations, as well as the wind and weather. Many Gods and Goddesses have influence in all three realms, just as the Land has it’s influence on the other two realms; caves, burial mounds, wells and springs are entrances to the underworld, while trees which exist in our realm are viewed as linking all three together. Represented here as a Celtic Afterlife peopled by Four Elemental Spirits of Air, Fire, Earth and Water.

As Air; Dian Cecht, Psychic Guardian and Healer of the Tuatha Dé Danann ~ The Hawthorn was a symbol of psychic protection due to its sharp thorns. Spirits were believed to dwell in Hawthorn hedges, which were planted as protective shrubs around fields, houses and churchyards. The Goddess Brighid was also associated with the Hawthorn, which is one tree which has managed to breach the divide between Paganism and Christianity and Dian Cecht was Brigid’s male counterpart.Hawthorn individuals are represented by a Masculine polarity and the color purple.

As Fire; Aibheaog is an Irish deity who represented fire, and yet she had a magical well which promoted healing. She is associated with wells and the number 5. Rules Over: Healing, Midsummer well rituals.

As Earth; Cernunnos. Although Cernunnos is a Gaulish horned god, his worship was widespread in the Celtic era, and he was venerated over the channel in Britain in various similar forms.
In appearance he had stag antlers sprouting from his head, wore a torc around his neck, and was depicted with a ram headed serpent. He may have been seen as lord of the animals, and the spirit of the woods, a powerful archetypal nature spirit and male partner of the earth mother. Later, in Christian times his image was transposed on to that of the Devil, who also appeared with horns.

As Water; Coventina, a Celtic river goddess known for healing, also associated with renewal, abundance, new beginnings, life cycles, inspiration, childbirth, wishes and prophecy. In worship to her coins and other objects were tossed into the wells as offerings for sympathetic magick. These wells represent the earth womb, where the Celts felt her power could be most strongly felt. Her symbols are the cauldron, cup, water, coins, broaches and wells. From Scotland comes her association with the underworld, where she was the Goddess of featherless flying creatures which could pass to the Otherworld. Being a river goddess she is connected the ebb and flow of time.

With a hope that this film may remind us to think of more than just family gatherings and presents, that it may be a magical time to think with our hearts and consider the wider picture.
To focus upon the whole rather than any portion, to live more meaningful lives, we may honor these the Three Realms and each-other throughout our daily lives.

A Yuletide Carol by celestialelff

Tis the Modranhit of Midwinter,
To the Three Realms we will go,
Through the portal to Tir Andomain,
Through the Silence beneath the Snow.

Deep within the center,
With the Ancestors in the past,
See the Joy of their Yuletide,
Beyond Time’s Oceans Vast.

The Rising of the Sun,
The Running of the Year,
The Setting of the Sacred Moon,
And the Circle is ever clear.

And look now upon the Earth Realm,
To the Meath beneath the Sky,
See the people in their families,
From their community awry.

Hear the Thomasing and the Gooding,
And the Mumping of the Children,
Both Ignorance and Want do Cry Out,
No more Cup Of Memory here….

The Rising of the Sun,
The Running of the Year,
The Setting of the Sacred Moon,
And the Circle now Draws Near….

Come beyond now to the Magh Mor,
Beyond the graveyard in the Sky,
To the Afterlife of the Otherworld,
Once again the Joy does fly…

Be Blessed then by this Vision,
Of the Three Realms you have made,
Join the Circle of your past life,
To your Future, Present saved…..

The Rising of the Sun,
The Running of the Year,
The Setting of the Sacred Moon,
And the Circle has come Here.

c Celestial Elf 2011.

Merry Christmas!

The Song Of Amergin, A Samhain Story


King Arthur having recovered Bran The Blessed’s  talking Head, will bring this head to a Samhain gathering where Bran will recite The Song of Amergin to the assembled gathering.

On The Song of Amergin, 
The Song of Amergin is an ancient Celtic poem
which speaks of the origin of the Universe, the nature of the Gods and the path to Wisdom.
Taken from The Irish Book of Invasions first written down in the early medieval period, this poem is attributed to Amergin (Irish;Amhairghin) chief Bard and Druid of the Milesians.


Long after the magical Tuatha Dé Danann, the Faerie Clan who were considered as Gods, had established their kingdom in ancient Ireland or Éire, a new
invasion took place and the first
Gaelic people arrived.
The Tuatha Dé Danann’s High King, The Dagda, invoked his powers to repel the strangers, he sank their ships and prayed to the winds to keep them out.
They landed however and Amergin sang a poem of thanks, aligning himself with the powers of the Land. Through his Awen (poetic inspiration) he became the elements and the Cosmos, charging them with his flowing spirit and limitless understanding, he overcame all obstacles and his people took guardianship of the Land.

& How Graves Reveals A Dolmen Stone Alphabet;
Robert Graves has said that ‘English poetic education should really begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin
By answering a series of  riddles in an ancient Welsh ‘Book of Taliesin‘, Robert Graves first uncovered ‘The Battle of the Trees’. This was a poetic ‘battle’ apparently charged with the purpose of preserving the hidden Druidic knowledge of a secret tree alphabet or Ogham, from the uninitiated during a time of cultural upheaval as the newly arrived Christianity sought to replace the earlier pagan and Druid traditions.
Then considering its Irish poetic counterpart ‘The Song of Amergin’, Graves discovered the use of a similar alphabet that also operated as an ancient Celtic calendar.  

By strictly adhering to the poem’s structure, Graves worked out the proper sequence of the Irish alphabet, which was then comprised of 13 consonants and five vowels. (It is only later that it grew to 15 consonants).
The clue to the arrangement of this alphabet is found in Amergin’s reference to the dolmen,’ says Graves. “It is an alphabet that bests explains itself when built up as a dolmen of consonants with a threshold of vowels.

Dec 24-Jan. 20 B
I am a stag of the seven tines, (Birch/Beth) 

Jan. 21—Feb. 17 L
I am a wide flood on a plain, (Rowan/Luis)

Feb. 18—Mar. 17 N
I am a wind on the deep waters, (Ash/Nion)

Mar. 18-Apr. 14 F
I am a shining tear of the sun, (Alder/Fearn)


Apr. 15-May 12 S sun,
I am a hawk on a cliff, (Willow/Saille)

May 13-Jun. 9 H
I am fair among flowers, (Hawthorn/Uath)

Jun. 10-July 7 D
I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke, (Oak/Duir)

July 8-Aug. 4 T
I am a battle-waging spear, (Holly/Tinne)

Aug. 5-Sept 1 C
I am a salmon in the pool, (Hazel/Coll)

Sept. 2-Sept. 29 M
I am a hill of poetry, (Vine/Muin)

Sept. 30-Oct. 27 G
I am a ruthless boar, (Ivy/Gort)

Oct. 28-Nov. 24 NG
I am a threatening noise of the sea, (Reed/Ngetal)

Nov. 25-Dec. 22 R
I am a wave of the sea, (Elder/Ruis)

Dec. 23
Who but I knows the secrets of the unhewn dolmen?

Poem by Amergin, Translation From The White Goddess, by Robert Graves.

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F24924435  The Song Of Amergin by celestialelff

Graves maintains that the architectural structure of the Dolmen with its horizontal capstone resting above two upright stone pillars, served as teaching tool for Druid priests on which the Irish alphabet was superimposed in sequential form on three separate slabs.
So for example starting upwards from the bottom left of the first stone are the letters B, L, N, and F. On the capstone from left to rights are the letters S, H, D, T and C. Descending downwards on the right pillar are the remaining consonants, M, G, NG, and R. Hidden below this stone formation thus reflecting the Celtic belief, ‘As above, so below,’ are placed the threshold of vowels, A, O, U, E and I.

Thus this alphabet Dolmen may serve as a calendar, with one post for Spring, another for Autumn, the lintel for Summer, the threshold for New Year’s Day.    
                                           

                                                                                   

                                     

                                                                             

                                                                                 

Of Graves Dolmen Ogham, Merlin and Stonehenge;
Graves’ revelation of the dolmen being used as teaching model for the Irish alphabet makes the myth of Merlin transporting the stones of Stonehenge from Ireland to Salisbury enormously intriguing.
Perhaps the stones he ferried were more of a stone alphabet like runes. If so, there is a strong possibility of a similar alphabet in use at Stonehenge and this might also explain the legend of Merlin’s alleged role in its construction..

William Blake. Jersualem.

                                                                                                        
Taking Grave’s analysis of the Song of Amergin a step further, the final riddle, ‘Who but I knows the secrets of the unhewn dolmen?’ raises questions about whether Stonehenge could be ‘read’ like a book.
Graves suggests that much like Braille, the dolmen’s dimples, indented grooves and angles are an essential part of reading the alphabet and hence the stone.

example 1. Ogham stone.

example 2. Ogham text.

                                                                    
”If one Dolmen can be used as a teaching tool on which the Irish alphabet was placed, could not an entire circle of stones tell a tale?
If it were possible, we can surmise that it could be a revelatory, almighty epic”. ( Munya Andrews )

                                                                     

                                                                         
Of Bran The Blessed;
Brân the Blessed (Bendigeidfran, the ‘Blessed Raven’) was a central figure in The Mabinogion, counted as Britain’s greatest champion before King Arthur and one of the ‘Three Blessed Kings of Britain’ according to the ancient Triads.
He was also Guardian of a magical Cauldron of Knowledge and Rebirth from the Goddess Cerridwen.
There is an ancient Celtic tradition about Cauldrons of rebirth, into which wounded, dead or dying soldiers were plunged, and came out healed and reborn.

Several scholars have also noted similarities between Brân and the Arthurian character of the Fisher King, keeper of the Holy Grail which also bestowed health, healing of wounds and disease upon its bearers. Further conjecture suggests that Cerridwen’s cauldron is in in fact the Holy Grail for which King Arthur spent his life searching as noted in Taliesin’ poem, the ‘Spoils of the Annwfn
                                                                               
                              
Following a conflict over Bran’s sister Branwen,(the White Raven) after her wedding to the Irish King Matholwch (the Bear), Bran offers him reconciliation in the form of his Cauldron. However Matholwch mistreats Branwen in Ireland and she sends word for Bran to rescue her. On their arrival the Irish offer peace but actually plot treachery and a vicious battle breaks out.

The result of the battle was very catastrophic, every Irish citizen but five pregnant women lay dead, and of the mighty armies of Bran, only seven men survived.

                                                                            
These men were instructed by the mortally wounded Bran to decapitate him and bear his head to Caer-Lundein (London) to bury it at Gwynfryn, the ‘White Mount’ (where the Tower of London now stands) to protect the Isle.
On their return voyage the men chanced to enter the Otherworld and for seven years the seven survivors (symbolic of the seven planets that regularly descend into the Underworld and then rise from it) stayed in Harlech, entertained by Bran’s head which taught them everything he had learned from the Goddess’ Cauldron, passing on his wisdom for all future generations.
That Bran, the Raven’s severed head was also capable of prophecy connects him with the ancient Celtic practice of augury, divination through bird flight.

The group set off again and land to spend a further 80 years outside of time, in a castle on Ynys Gwales, Grassholm Island off Dyfed, where they feasted in blissful forgetfulness and joy.
Eventually they take the head to the Gwynfryn, the ‘White Mount’ thought to be the location where the Tower of London now stands, and buried it facing France to ward off invasion.

According to the Welsh Triads, as long as Bran’s head remained in The White Tower facing France to ward off Saxon invasion, Britain would be safe from invasion, which it was for many generations before it was dug up by the pious King Arthur. ‘Arthur disclosed the head of Bran the Blessed from the White Hill since he did not desire that this island should be guarded by anyone’s strength but his own’ – Welsh Triads.

King Arthur had declared that he needed no talisman to protect his own country and dug up Bran’s head as proof that he could perform the requirements himself.
Sadly, he did not succeed and internal political conflict led to his death and to the increase of Saxon settlements in Britain.

King Arthur Pendragon. 2011.

More recently and following the ancient prophecies and the Celtic belief in reincarnation, the returned King Arthur has reburied a symbolic Ravens skull at The White Mount, Tower Of London, in an effort to resurrect the protective power of Bran in these troubled times.

                                                                               

                                                                          

A footnote upon Samhain;
The night of Samhain (pr; SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) marks one of the two great gates of the year; Beltane and
Samhain being the doorways that divide the year into Light and Dark.
Samhain  itself is a Gaelic word signifying the end of summer and begins at sunset October 31.
This is believed by many to be a magical time when the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between them.

Traditionally, Samhain was a time to take stock of the herds and grain
supplies, to decide which animals would be slaughtered
for the people and livestock to survive the winter. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities celebrated down
through the last several centuries, and villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle on the flames hence the name ‘bone fires’, some say these bones should then be ‘read’ for their prophetic powers.
With the community bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires.
Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus
bonding the families of the village together.
The pagan Romans also identified Samhain with their own feast of the
dead, the Lemuria,(observed in the days leading up to May 13).With Christianization, the festival in November (not the Roman
festival in May) became All Hallows’ Day on November 1 followed by All
Souls’ Day, on November 2.
Over time, the night of October 31
came to be called All Hallow’s Eve, and the remnants festival dedicated
to the dead eventually morphed into the secular holiday known as
Halloween.

                                                                                  
However, historian and author Ronald Hutton points out that while medieval Irish authors do attribute a historical pagan significance to the Beltane
festival, they are silent in this respect in regard to Samhain,
apparently because no evidence of pagan ritual as a Northern European festival of the dead had survived into the
Christian period. According to Hutton, most of the popular myths about the origins of Halloween can be traced
back to two nineteenth century British authors: Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer (The Golden Bough) who speculated about connections between Halloween and
pagan Celtic rituals, but provided no valid evidence to back up their
claims. At the time they were writing, modern folk customs were
typically seen as remnants of prehistoric religious rituals which
survived among the common, uneducated country folk long after their
original purpose had died out.

Whilst historian Nicholas Rogers notes
that ‘some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman
feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, by contrast Mr. Hutton claims it is more typically linked to and derived from the Catholic holidays of All Saints and All Souls Day. This festival began on All Hallows Eve (hallow is an archaic English word for
‘saint’) the last night of October, included a Church mass for the dead, torchlight processions and bonfires.
Objectively, Mr. Hutton does include the evidence for both of these latter in the earlier festivals.
Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britian, Oxford University Press, 1996 (See the following
chapters: 35. Samhain, 36. Saints and Souls, 37. The Modern
Hallowe’en)


The ‘Surviving’ Samhain and Halloween Tradition;
Conjecture over other aspects of this festival and following extrapolations from Beltane, the other great turning point in the Celtic world, supports many peoples views that a commemoration of the deceased could indeed have been an ancient tradition as the people saw nature fall to decay so thoughts naturally turned to loved ones also passed away. Many customs were also established, such as the approaching time of darkness being regarded with suspicion and a need for protection by bonefires and charms. Gatherings were held and still are, feasts and gifts were shared, blessings were given and invoked and the presence of spirits traveling between worlds is felt, these traditions inform our belief and practice today.

In such a view, offerings may be made to welcome specific ancestors and a community’s beloved dead home, songs, poetry and dances can performed to entertain them.

The opening of door or window to the west lit with a candle or lamp is thought to aid their passage home and conversely candle lanterns carved with fearsome faces are placed in windows to ward off any unwelcome evil spirits abroad on this otherworldly night.

The custom of wearing costumes and masks, fancy dress or disguise has developed at this time and been considered an attempt to copy the spirits or to placate them. Such ‘Guising’ has been a part of Christmas and New Years Eve customs in Britain and
other parts of Europe since medieval times. By the nineteenth century
the practice had also become a feature of Halloween in Scotland and Ireland.
The practice of Trick-or-treating apparently originates in the late medieval practice of ‘Souling‘, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day.

Sacred Samhain and Happy Hallowmas,
By Stone and Star
Celestial Elf ~

Taliesin’s Battle Of The Trees

I have set Taliesin’s Battle Of The Trees within two other pieces, firstly Tacitus’ report of the Roman invasion of the Druid island of Angelsey, followed by another poem from those by Taliesin which had been mixed in with The Battle of The Trees in a method of concealment to hide the poems meaning from those without understanding.

The Battle Of The Trees / Cad Goddeu ;

The tops of the beech tree have sprouted of late,
are changed and renewed from their withered state.

When the beech prospers, through spells and litanies,
the oak tops entangle, there is hope for the trees.

I have plundered the fern, through all secrets I spy.
Old Math ap Mathonwy knew no more than I.

For with nine sorts of faculty God has gifted me,
I am fruit of fruits gathered from nine sorts of tree–

Plum, quince, whortle, mulberry, raspberry, pear,
Black cherry and white, with the sorb in me share.

From my seat at Caer Fefynedd (Kire Fev-Un-eThh), a city that is strong,
I watched the trees and green things hastening along.

Retreating from happiness they would fein be set
In forms of the chief letters of the alphabet.

Wayfarers wander, warriors are dismayed,
at the renewal of conflicts such as Gwydion made.

Under the root of the tongue, a fight most dread,
and another raging, behind, in the head.

The alders in the front line began the affray.
Will and rowan tree were tardy in array.

The holly, dark green, made a resolute stand;
He is armed with many spear points wounding the hand.

With foot beat of the swift oak heaven and earth rung;
“Stout Guardian of the Door”, his name in every tongue.

Great was the gorse in battle, and the ivy at his prime;
The hazel was arbiter at this charmed time.

Uncouth and savage was the fir, cruel the ash tree–
Turns not aside a foot breadth, straight at the heart runs he.

The birch, though very noble, armed himself but late;
A sign not of cowardice but of high estate.

The heath gave consolation to the tail spent folk
The long enduring poplars in battle much broke.

Some of them were cast away on the field of fright
Because of holes torn in them by the enemy’s might.

Very wrathful was the vine whose henchmen are the elms;
I exalt him mightily to rulers of realms.

Strong chieftains were the blackthorn with his ill fruit,
The unbeloved whitethorn who wears the same suit.

The swift pursuing reed, the broom with his broad,
And the furse but ill-behaved until he is subdued.

The dower scattering yew stood glum at the fight’s fringe,
With the elder slow to burn amid fires that singe.

And the blessed wild apple laughing in pride
And the Borchan of Maeldrew, by the rock slide.

In shelter linger privet and woodbine,
Inexperienced in warfare, and the courtly pine.

But I, although slighted because I was not big,
Fought, trees, in your array on the field of Goddeu Brig.

translation from Robert Graves book The White Goddess;

The Book of Taliesin dates from the 14th C. and collected 56 of the oldest poems in Welsh, those attributed to the 6th C. poet Taliesin would have been composed in the Cumbric dialect of the north. The manuscript preserves a few hymns, a small collection of elegies and also enigmatic poems such as The Battle of Trees and The Spoils of Annwfn, in which the poet claims to have sailed to another world with King Arthur and his warriors.

The Battle of the Trees poem itself, whilst currently “pied” with approximately four other poems, is set during a war between Arawn King of Annwfn or the Underworld, and Amaethon a ploughman. This war is prompted by the latter’s theft of three magical creatures from the underworld, a dog who was the guardian of the secret, a white roebuck who hides the secret, and a lapwing who disguises the secret.
Regarding the secret powers possessed by these otherwordly creatures, it is said in the Triads:
there are three primary essentials of genius;
an eye that can see nature, a heart that can feel nature, and a boldness that dares follow it.

Druids taught in Triads or groups of three, which embodied the traditional Laws, Customs, and Wisdoms, of the ancient Celtic people, such as “Truth in heart, strength in arm, honesty in speech.” or “Three things not easily restrained, the flow of a torrent, the flight of an arrow, and the tongue of a fool.”

The poem famously details the legendary Gwydion‘s account of the trees of the forest which he enchanted to fight as his army against Arawan.
Within the ranks of Arawn’s forces were a number of mighty warriors, and one of these was invincible as long as his name remained a secret.
Gwydion the enchanter rightly guessed the secret name and won the battle saying these words:

Sure-hoofed my spurred horse,
On your shield Alder sprigs,
Bran is your name, Bran of the branches.

Sure-hoofed my horse of war,
On your hand are sprigs of Alder,
Bran you are, by the branch you bear.

However as Robert Graves explores in his book ‘The White Goddess’ the poem is particularly notable for its striking and enigmatic symbolism and the wide variety of interpretations this has occasioned.
Graves suggests that the trees in this poem correspond to the ancient Ogham alphabet, in which each alphabetic character represents a specific musical note, seasonal cycle, mythological tale and deity.
This method of association was a teaching aid in the letters and the trees associated with each, and its use in this poem was a poetic plea for the continuance of the use and teaching of this alphabet;
”This alphabet utilized thirteen consantants and five vowels. The consantants form the thirteen months of the annual cycle, while the vowels set forth the five year cycle of this Celtic calender. The letters/trees within the poem are not set in their proper order, I believe, in a further attempt to “encode” the information given in the poem so that only a person versed in this alphabet could utilize it.” Robert Graves.
Each tree had a meaning and significance of its own, and Gwydion guessed Bran’s name by the Alder branch Bran carried, the Alder being one of Bran’s prime symbols.

Graves thus argued that the original poet had concealed Druidic secrets about an older matriarchal Celtic religion for fear of censure from Christian authorities, that Arawn and Bran were names for the same underworld god and that the battle was probably not physical but rather a struggle of wits and scholarship: Gwydion’s forces could only be defeated if the name of his companion, Lady Achren (“Trees”), was guessed, and Arawn’s host only if Bran’s name was guessed.


Blessed Be /|\ ~

The White Goddess

Whilst some have disputed Graves historical inaccuracies in The White Goddess, im not reading this for its historical account, but rather for its mytho-poetical inventiveness and inspiration, of which I would say that it delivers handsomely.

The attempt to reconcile the Ancient Hebrew, Greek and Celtic civilizations with an Aegean/Tuath De Danaan Diaspora is fascinating and demands that the reader have a fairly wide background in cultural and mythological studies.

Speculating on the Cad Goddeu, The Battle of the Trees, a medieval Welsh poem from the Book of Taliesin, that the trees that fought in the battle in which each tree had a meaning and significance of its own. Graves argues that the original poet had concealed Druidic secrets about an older matriarchal Celtic religion for fear of censure from Christian authorities and that the ‘battle’ was probably not physical but rather a struggle of wits and scholarship. They did this he claims by employing the secret sign language called Ogham, in this case the Tree Ogham in which each tree holds a representative symbol, sound, meaning, set of mythologies and etc..

The particular poem and its meanings is he claims further concealed by the device of being ‘pied’ or mixed up with a further four poems, only those in the know would be able to correctly untangle and decipher their original order.

However and due to the excessive overloading of references and origins, at times it seems that Graves has almost become one of his ancient Cambrian Awenyddion’ the magical minstrel poets who disguised their wisdom under the pretence of being possessed by spirits, as they did not deliver the answer to what is required in any connected manner…”but the person who skillfully observes them will find after many preambles…and incoherent though ornamented speeches, the desired explanation conveyed in some turn of word”

He could not have described his own method more perfectly, persist and you will find his meanings become clearer.

Nevertheless, despite the erratic, over-rich and often obscure prose, his reconciliation of the Tree Ogham Alphabet with the calender of the Year, the stations of both sun and moon, is an inspiring and potentially convincing demonstration of how the ancient mythographers (may have)created meaning and managed the seasonal and social rituals of their times.

Reaching further, his exposition and extrapolation of Biblical and earlier mythologies and their themes is remarkable.

I value and recommend this work to any more serious and patient reader (who is preferably well read mytho-historically) for its hidden gems, its tremendous scope and its imaginative-inspirational qualities.

On A Modern Druid’s Education

Having an interest in The Druids, Nature and the Ancient Ways, I have from time to time been asked whether I could recommend any books for beginners or others to get a sense of what modern Druidry may entail…


The role of Druids in Celtic society was a broad and influential one that included Teachers, Healers , Bardic-Poets, Musicians, Shaman, Priests, Astrologers, Historians, Judges and Advisers to Kings.
Following the etymology of the name Druid, dru as ‘oak’ or ‘doorway’ and wid as ‘to see’ or ‘wisdom’, the name means ‘oak-wisdom’, although Irish druí and Welsh dryw could also refer to the wren, connected with an association of that bird with augury bird in Irish and Welsh tradition, thus the Druid is someone wise in the ways of nature, the seen and unseen.
Inspired by these traditions and the pre-Christian Celtic folktales, legends and mythologies which valued the spiritual within nature, some modern Druids commit to a guardianship of our environment and planet, to practise the ideals of the sacred and the spiritual by honoring the natural world.

In the past, a Druid’s education may have taken anywhere from 12 to 20 years, beginning around the age of five or soon after any person was deemed gifted by the divine, it began with a study of the tales and traditions, included Poetry, Nature and Law and continued with Communication and Music, a set of skills not unfamiliar to the teachings of similar cultural leaders in the classical antiquity of ancient Greece and Rome..

Today some Neo Druid and Reconstructionist Druid groups offer an education in these traditional subjects, giving tutored instruction progressing from the training of a Bard, moving through the Ovate grade to culminate in the ultimate achievement of becoming a Druid. Such tuition is naturally embellished by their own school of thought and necessarily funded by subscription to pay for the tutors guidance and support. But because there is no single sacred text or surviving body of doctrine upon which to base such teaching, whilst some of the books and course material used may be widely available from libraries and shops, others may be exclusive and available only from the organization involved..

Not all Druids today however believe the same things, or in the same routes of learning.
Some believe that the spirit is led by higher powers along its path to the gods, to apprehend the spirits and faerie folk, to travel the inner paths to the other-worlds, and to manifest healing and wisdom upon the earth.

Many who have not followed any formalized training nevertheless do also have powerful skills, and for them the distinction between the roles or formal acknowledgement of achievement is less important than the insight and abilities themselves.
The difference between these two approaches to Druidry could be considered the same as that between a college education and a vocational apprenticeship. In learning to practice such wisdom intuitively, they have learned the secret of setting aside worldly concerns and by embracing all that life has to offer have discovered the many truths transcending all.
Bringing this inner light back to the people, interacting with all things respectfully and as an act of devotion, this is the sign of a true Druid.

Central to modern Druidic belief is a love of nature combined with a pragmatic understanding that spiritual insight be expressed by responsible action in our daily life, shared with and on behalf of the community for its greater good.


To support an understanding of how we may continue to honor the ancestral spirits and follow the traditional paths of wisdom,
I have gathered here a short reading list for any who may wish to add an academic or historical basis to their insights and practice of Druidry.

However I would mention that whilst rooted in the traditional Druidic lore of yore, this list also establishes a clear link between reflection on the ancient paths and action in this modern world.


……………………………………………………………………..

Introductory;


”The Trials of Arthur” Arthur Pendragon and CJ Stone.

Detailing the return of England’s Ancient Leader, King Arthur.A Hearty and Heartfelt account full of derring do and of Down To Earth Druidry, following the path of Action and introducing the aims of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Order of Druids,The L.A.W. Arthur has risen to meet the challenges before him with delight and good humor, Recommended.
Reading Level: Standard


”The Apple Branch;A Path to Celtic Ritual” Alexei Kondratiev

Nicely written introduction to Celtic-inspired rituals and ceremonies. The author has done a lot of research and understands Celtic society and culture. It could be argued that Kondratiev’s NeoWiccan background throws things off a bit – but it’s still worth reading, because Kondratiev manages to avoid a lot of the overly-romanticized fluff that appears in many of the books purporting to be about Celtic Paganism.
Reading Level: Intermediate

”The Stations of the Sun” Ronald Hutton

Comprehensive and engaging, this colourful study covers the whole sweep of ritual history from the earliest written records to the present day. From May Day revels and Midsummer fires, to Harvest Home and Hallowe’en, to the twelve days of Christmas, Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain. He challenges many common assumptions about the customs of the past, and debunks many myths surrounding festivals of the present, to illuminate the history of the calendar year we live by today.
Reading Level: Advanced

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Historical;

”The Celts: A Very Short Introduction” Barry Cunliffe.

The Celts have long been a subject of fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding. From the ancient Romans to the present day, their real nature has been obscured by a tangled web of preconceived ideas and stereotypes.Cunliffe seeks to reveal this fascinating people using an impressive range of evidence, and exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions. Along the way, he exposes the way in which society’s needs have shaped our visions of the Celts, and examines such colorful characters as St. Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica.
Reading Level: Standard

”A Brief History of the Druids” Peter Beresford Ellis.

Contrary to the portrayal of them that we see in a lot of New Age books, the Druids were not a bunch of tree-hugging “get in touch with your feelings” peaceful clerics. They were in fact the intellectual social class of the Celts -Judges, Bards, Astronomers, Physicians and Philosophers. Although there is no written first-hand record of their activities, Ellis delves into the writings of contemporaries from other societies such as Pliny the Elder and Julius Caesar, whose Commentaries whilst politically partisan, do include frequent first hand references to the people he encountered in the British Isles.
Reading Level: Intermediate


“Women of the Celts” Jean Markale

Jean Markale takes an in-depth look at the society of the early Celtic tribes, and focuses on the role of women within that societal framework. There’s not a lot of information on Celtic mythology – but there’s a treasure trove of background on Celtic society, sociological theory, sexual standards, and economics. He also discusses legal issues that permitted the women of the Celts so much more freedom than their counterparts in other regions of the world, particularly the patriachalist Rome.
Reading Level: Advanced

”Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain” Ronald Hutton

This book is, quite simply, a tour de force. Interpretations of Druidry through the ages, treated to scrupulous scholarly dissection, in a masterly fashion. From Caesar, a truly machiavellian author, onwards, a succession of agenda-laden activists, scholars and authors have fashioned an image of druids for the popular imagination to suit the political and cultural points they are making. By examining all these written sources in the context of the social, economic, political standpoint of the various authors, a magnificent tapestry is gradually woven of English history and the men who have affected it; with. always, the misty figure of the druid just glimpsed to colour the narrative. Through the chapters we run – through the ages, and the gamut of emotional responses to the term druid; from disgust and vilification for a blood-soaked and savage priesthood to awe and wonder at the disseminators of the mystical wisdom of nature, pausing in admiration for them as radical freedom fighters along the way.
Reading Level: Graduate

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Poetical;

”The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales”

There are numerous translations available of The Mabinogion, which is the Welsh mythic cycle. However, Patrick Ford’s is one of the best. Many modern translations of the work are heavily influenced by a blend of Victorian romance, French Arthurian tales and New Age imagery. Ford leaves all of that out, and offers a faithful yet eminently readable version of the four tales of the Mabinogi, as well as three other stories from the myth cycle of the early Welsh legends. This is a primary source of Celtic legend and myth, so if you’re interested in the exploits of the gods and goddesses, as well as the mortals and demigods of folklore, this is a great resource to use.
Reading Level: Standard

”Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Burton Raffel (Translator), Neil D. Isaacs

One of the greatest works of the Middle Ages, in a marvelous new verse translation Composed in the fourteenth century, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is as beloved as it is venerable, combining the hallmarks of medieval romance-pageantry, chivalry, and courtly love-with the charm of fairy tales and heroic sagas. Blending Celtic myth and Christian faith, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a Middle English masterpiece of magic, chivalry, and seduction.
Reading Level: Standard

”Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman” John Matthews

Taliesin, Chief Bard of Britain and Celtic shaman, was an historical figure who lived in Wales during the latter half of the sixth century. Encoded within his work are the ancestral beliefs of the Celtic and pre-Celtic peoples. In addition, his verse is established as a direct precursor to the Arthurian legends – and Taliesin himself, shaman and shapeshifter, is said to be the direct forebear to Merlin. Matthews sheds new light on the poems of Taliesin and on the vast body of allusion, story and myth that grew from his body of work and shamanic practice. This book reveals Druidic prophecy, methods of divination and the rites, rituals and beliefs that were essential to Celtic spiritual practice. It also features Taliesin’s works as keys to the Arthurian legends.
Reading Level: Intermediate


”The Bardic Handbook The Complete Manual for the 21st Century Bard” Kevan Manwaring

This complete manual for the Twenty-First-Century Bard contains all you need to know to start you on the Bardic Path. Here you will find inspiration and instruction, whether you want to dedicate yourself to the Way of Awen, or simply wish to improve your public-speaking skills and be able to express yourself with confidence. Learn how to enchant an audience with gramarye, through poetry, storytelling and songcraft, and how to use the magic of words to bless, honour, heal and celebrate your identity, community and heritage.With an easy-to-follow 12 month self-study programme and week-by-week exercises and mini-lessons about bardic lore, this book will lead you along the Way of Awen.
Reading Level: Advanced

”The White Goddess: a Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth” Robert Graves

This labyrinthine and extraordinary book-length essay on the nature of poetic myth-making, was the outcome of Graves’s vast reading and curious research into strange territories of folklore, mythology, religion and magic. Erudite and impassioned, it is a scholar-poet’s quest for the meaning of European myths, a polemic about the relations between man and woman, and also an intensely personal document in which Graves explored the sources of his own inspiration and, as he believed, all true poetry.
Reading Level: Graduate


”Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being” Ted Hughes

Might best be compared to Robert Graves’ book The White Goddess in terms of its scope and intent, it is a rich book filled with what I would call poetic as well as literary insights (like Graves’ work). The section where Hughes breaks down Shakespeare’s language showing how within each contrasting set of phrases he was communicating both to the rabble on the floor and the intellectuals in the gods is stunning. A worthwhile read for anyone who loves to spend time at the juncture between myth, literature and poetry, remarkable.
Reading Level: Graduate

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Spiritual;

”Way of the Peaceful Warrior” Dan Millman

You’ve learned body control and even some mind control, but your heart has not yet opened. Your goal should not be invulnerability, but vulnerability – to the world, to life, and therefore, to the Presence you felt. I’ve tried to show you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is the warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.’ This is a book I would give to anyone to read for pleasure and to those following the path of the spiritual warrior. It demonstrates that the true essence of a champion is indeed the culmination of a strong body, mind, as well as spirit.
Reading Level: Standard

”The Complete Illuminated Books William Blake” John Commander (Foreword by), David Bindman (Introduction)

In his Illuminated Books Blake combined text and imagery on a single page in a way that had not been done since the Middle Ages. For Blake, religion and politics, intellect and emotion, mind and body were both unified and in conflict with each other. There is no comparison with reading books such as Jerusalem, America, and Songs of Innocence and of Experience in Blake’s own medium, infused with his sublime and exhilarating colors. Tiny figures and forms dance among the lines of the text, flames appear to burn up the page, and dense passages of Biblical-sounding text are brought to a jarring halt by startling images of death, destruction, and liberation.Blake often spoke of Albion, England’s great, mythological past, ruled by Druids. To quote Peter Ackroyd: “All his life, Blake was entranced and persuaded by the idea of a deeply spiritual past, and he continually alluded to the possibility of ancient lore and arcane myths that could be employed to reveal previously hidden truths.”
Reading Level: Intermediate


”Sun of gOd: Discover the Self-Organizing Consciousness That Underlies Everything” by Gregory Sams.
“Sun of gOd presents a perfectly outrageous hypothesis: The sun is a conscious, living organism residing in a thriving galactic community, thinking stellar thoughts that span the entire universe. Surely this is nonsense. Except that the more you read the more a conscious universe begins to make sense. Gregory Sams’ book is a clearly written and persuasively reasoned argument to think about the sun in a radically new and refreshing way.” -Dean Radin, PhD, Senior Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences
Reading Level: Advanced


”Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics” Emma Restall Orr

Living With Honour is a provocative and uncompromising exploration of how Paganism can provide the philosophical guidance to live honorably in a twenty-first Western society. Part One explores the history of Paganism, its undercurrents of anarchy, heresy, environmentalism and animism, finding its place within the history of Western philosophy. Part Two addresses key moral issues from that animistic perspective, beginning with the foundation of human relationships and attitudes towards the Other. It book explores how we value life, and firstly human life, looking at dying, suicide and euthanasia, birth, abortion and IVF. It then examines the human abuse of nonhuman animals, discussing sentience, personhood and inherent value. Finally, it focuses on current global crises, exploring need as opposed to desire.’This is an excellent pioneering work, erudite, courageous and imaginative, that provides a new kind of ethics, linked to a newly appeared complex of religions, which are founded on some very old human truths.’ Professor Ronald Hutton, world expert on paganism and author of The Triumph of the Moon and many other studies.
Reading Level: Advanced


”The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion” Mircea Eliade

In the “Sacred and the Profane”, Mircea Eliade describes two fundamentally different modes of experience: the traditional and the modern. Traditional man or “homo religious” is open to experiencing the world as sacred. Modern man however, is closed to these kinds of experiences. For him the world is experienced only as profane. It is the burden of the book to show in what these fundamentally opposed experiences consist. Traditional man often expresses this opposition as real vs. unreal or pseudoreal and he seeks as much as possible to live his life within the sacred, to saturate himself in reality. According to Eliade the sacred becomes known to man because it manifests itself as different from the profane world. This manifestation of the sacred Eliade calls “hierophany”. For Eliade this is a fundamental concept in the study of the sacred and his book returns to it again and again.The “Sacred and the Profane” is divided into four chapters dealing with space, time, nature, and man. To these is appended a “Chronological Survey Of the History of Religions as a Branch of Knowledge.”
Reading Level: Graduate

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Environmental;


”Copse: Cartoon Book of Tree Protesting” Kate Evans

The rise of the environmental direct action movement in Britain in the 1990s is documented nowhere as well as it is here. Kate Evans was at most of the major protests, and tells her own story, but also uses interviews with more than 50 others who were there too. All the warmth, the drive, the integrity and drama of these extraordinary events is told with a disarming honesty and and involving humanity. It becomes clear that these were no heroes of the mass-media’s ‘eco-warrior’ stories; these were simply people with a will to affect the things that affect them, and who realised that morals and motivation are enough.The book does much to break down the barrier of spectator and participant, making you realise the ordinariness of the campaigners, and also encouraging you with a comprehensive ‘how to’ section at the back and a massive list of relevant contactsIf you want to understand what it’s all been about, this book is as accessible as it is comprehensive.
Reading Level: Standard

“Small is Beautiful” E.F. Schumacher.

Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase “Small Is Beautiful” is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as “bigger is better”. The point of this book is to assault what is meant by progress and try and understand what has gone wrong when we live in almost obscene wealth while large parts of the planet barely get by. This book is a call to arms, to understand things we all seem to have forgotten: what is value? what actually matters in life? should the means always justify the ends? what is work for? and who put all these economists in charge?
The Times Literary Supplement ranked Small Is Beautiful among the 100 most influential books published since World War II.
Reading Level: Intermediate


”This Borrowed Earth” Robert Emmet Herna.

Lessons from the Fifteen Worst Environmental Disasters around the WorldOver the last century mankind has irrevocably damaged the environment through the unscrupulous greed of big business and our own willful ignorance. Here are the strikingly poignant accounts of disasters whose names live in infamy: Chernobyl, Bhopal, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, Love Canal, Minamata, and others. And with these, the extraordinary and inspirational stories of the countless men and women who fought bravely to protect the communities and environments at risk.
Reading Level: Intermediate

”No Logo” Naomi Klein.

In the last decade, No Logo has become a cultural manifesto for the critics of unfettered capitalism worldwide. As the world faces a second economic depression, No Logo’s analysis of our corporate and branded world is as timely and powerful as ever. Klein also looks at the workers who keep these companies running, most of whom never share in any of the great rewards. The president of Borders, when asked whether the bookstore chain could pay its clerks a “living wage” wrote that “while the concept is romantically appealing, it ignores the practicalities and realities of our business environment”. Those clerks should probably just be grateful they’re not stuck in an Asian sweatshop, making pennies an hour to produce Nike sneakers or other must-have fashion items.

Throughout the four parts (“No Space”, “No Choice”, “No Jobs”, and “No Logo”), Klein writes about issues such as sweatshops in the Americas and Asia, culture jamming, corporate censorship, and Reclaim the Streets.

Reading Level: Advanced

”Landscape and Memory” Simon Schama.

An extraordinary survey of European attitudes to and conceptualizations of nature over the course of the last 500 years or so, and how our ideas of nature have shaped how we interact with it. In a wide sweep of history that encompassess as unlikely a set of figures as Varus, a Roman general responsible for a catastrophic lost battle in the Black Forest and a 19th century French founder of the concept of “eco-rambling”, Schama has produced a stunning work that seeks to answer the central question: is our view of nature ruled by the mind, or by magical human interpretations? There are few books that could match this pyrotechnic display of learning and exposition of aesthetic views of nature that have shaped warfare,politics,religion and modern ecology. It is impossible to view today’s environmentalism before reading this provocative and insightful book the same way as when one puts it down. Reasonably scholarly but still quite readable.
Reading Level: Graduate

Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher.

William Wordsworth. ~


Compiled by Celestial Elf /|\

The Lammas Wickerman


The Druids Oath;
We swear by Peace and Love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand,
Mark, Oh Spirit, and hear us now, confirming this our sacred vow!

Lammas;
The mighty wheel of the year has turned upon us once more,
And I give thanks for the bountiful harvest.

All hail the Sun, whose golden rays have bestowed magic
upon the growing fruits of our lands.
All hail the Sun, He has ripened our fields
And blessed us by grain without number.
This joyous time is the first harvest of Lammas!
So All hail the great Sun And He will come again.

And now all about us as days do shorten,
We stand ready for the dark time ahead.
With corn stored in abundance against the cold darkness of winter
We face the bleak hardship without any dread.
So mote it be!



Lammas c. The Bard Of Ely, 2011. Poems Narrated by The Bard of Ely.
Welsh Translation kindly provided by Gareth Owen
Rheolwr y Theatr(Manager) Theatr y Pafiliwn/Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl.
Grateful thanks to The Bard of Ely for use of his song I AM (feat Ed Drury).

Lammas, also called Lughnasadh (Loo-Nah-Sah) in commemoration of The Celtic Sun God Lugh, occurs at the beginning of the harvest season, in the Northern Hemisphere 1st August, in the Southern February 1st.
The word Lammas itself derives from the Old English celebration of loaf mass, harvesting the first grains which by nightfall made the first loaves of the season. As the grain is cut, some is stored to create new life in the spring. To harvest before Lammas could only be because the previous year’s harvest had run out, a serious problem in agricultural communities, hence thanks for a harvest on time.

Lugh, also known as the patron of Bards and Magicians, came to be associated with grain in Celtic mythology because Tailtiu his foster mother died from exhaustion after clearing the great forest so the people could cultivate the lands. Before she died she told them that her son Lugh, the Sun King, would pour his spirit into the grain to sustain them over the long fruitless winters. People honor Her gift and the crops with a day of thanksgiving for the harvest, a harvest festival.

Grain has been associated by many cultures with the mystery of death and rebirth for centuries, celebrated by deities such as the Sumerian grain god Tammuz.
In English folklore, the folksong representing John Barleycorn as the crop of barley, corresponds to the same cyclic nature of planting, growing, harvesting, death and rebirth.
Sir James Frazer cites this tale of John Barleycorn In The Golden Bough as proof that there was a Pagan cult in England that worshiped a god of vegetation, who was then sacrificed to bring fertility to the fields.
It is tempting to see in this tradition echoes of human sacrifice as portrayed in The Wickerman film (1973), but that is not really what this time is about.
Whilst there was a Celtic ritual of dressing the last sheaf of corn to be harvested in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman, it was believed that the Sun ‘s spirit was trapped in the grain and needed to be set free by fire and so the effigy was burned. This tradition is thought by many to have been the origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices, along with Julius Caesar’s politically motivated accounts.

In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called ‘the Maiden’, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.
In other regions a corn dolly is made of plaited straw from this sheaf, carried to a place of honor at the celebrations and kept until the following spring for good luck.



The Bard of Ely is an eco-warrior, poet, author, Arthurian Druid, master of herblore, singer-songwriter, techno-folk fusion pioneer, actor and performer originally from Cardiff, Wales.

In medieval Gaelic and Welsh society a Bard was a professional poet, employed to compose eulogies for his Lord. In the Viking courts of Scandinavia and Iceland their counterparts were called Skalds.
The Bardic poets were often accorded nearly divine rank and had a freedom of movement to cross political borders denied even Kings, because the magic of their poems and chants was believed to hold the power to topple Gods or conjure whole nations out of thin air.
Just as Druidic mythology points to knowledge as the key to self awareness, which is symbolized by certain holy-places of great importance, these mythic ‘places’ may be both inaccessible but also not inaccessible at the same time, it requires a leap of faith to find them and that leap of faith is expressed in the Bard’s poetic proclamation.

In the tradition of Welsh Bards such as Aneirin and Taliesin, The Bard of Ely shares his skills as Principal Bard of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Druidic Order (Stonehenge) and Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri (Avebury), as well as across the wide reaching area of his creative and spiritual mission.
In 2002 and 03, The Bard of Ely was both compere for the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury Festival and played there, as well as appearing at the Green Man Festival. He has also collaborated with Crum (keyboard for Hawkwind) who has remixed a number of The Bard’s songs. The Bard of Ely’s albums are available from DMMG Records and at iTunes.
As a writer He has authored Herbs of the Northern Shaman and written widely, including for Permaculture and Feed Your Brain magazines, and collaborated with CJ Stone for Prediction and the NFOP magazine. You can find about more about The Bard of Ely at his Blog.


Bright Blessings to you ~
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