Archive for the ‘God’ Category

The Druid’s Parable

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From the Second Epistle in the Book of Apocrypha of Robert Larson, (Isaac Bonewit’s mentor) and perhaps the true founder of Neopagan Druidism.
Robert offered this parable of his own creation, to counsel tolerance and variation among warring branches of the Reformed Druids during their ideological and structural conflicts of 1976;

I will now relate this incredibly ancient Druid fable
which I have just written.

Ahem.

Once in the long ago there were three Druids, and very fine Druids they were, too. It came to pass that each of them inherited a piece of land with a large rock on it.
Now the First of these Druids went to his land and looked at his rock and immediately fell in love with it.
To make his rock even more beautiful he fell to rubbing and buffing it until it bore a bright polish.
Every day he would rub and buff it till it almost outshone the sun, so bright it was.
The people who lived nearby would often come to see the rock and say what a wonderful, bright rock it was.

Now eventually the Druid died and went to the Sidhe hills as all good Druids do. But the wind and rain did not die.
Slowly it was that the rock lost its polish, but lose it it did. No longer did the people come to see the rock, now neither wonderful nor bright, for of what interest is a mere rock, except to a geologist?

The second of the Druids went to his land and looked at his rock and thought what a wonderful statue his rock would make.
So he took a hammer and chisel and carved a statue of his god out of it. Paint he put on his statue, and gold and jewels also, until it looked exactly like his idea of his god. And the people who lived both near and far came to marvel at the statue and worship at it, saying such things as “You could swear that it’s alive, that it’s being.” To which the Druid would reply, “It is.”
Eventually the second Druid too died and went to the Sidhe hills where all good Druids go…

Eventually the second Druid too died and went to the Sidhe hills where all good Druids go. But the wind and rain did not die, nor did human nature change. Thieves came and stripped the statue of its gold and its jewels. Wind and rain completed the destruction, until the statue once again resembled nothing so much as a rock.
And the people stopped coming to marvel and to worship, for, after all, who wants to worship a rock after he’s had the most wonderful statue in the world?

The Third Druid went to his land and looked at his rock. Then he climbed upon it and looked about him, liking what he saw.
He planted flowers, trees and bushes about the rock and lichen on it. Every day he would herd his cows and sheep on the land about the rock, sitting on or resting against it.

As time went by, the flowers, the bushes and trees grew and the lichen covered the rock, giving the Druid an even more beautiful view and a softer seat to watch his herds from.
So beautiful did the Druid’s land become, that people came from far and near to sit with him and watch the deer and fox play and the flowers bloom, for it was said to be the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world.
The time came when the third Druid died and went to the Sidhe hills where all good Druids go.

But the flowers did not stop growing, nor did the bushes and trees and lichen.Still did the deer and fox play in the Druid woods, and still were cows and sheep herded about the rock.

The Druid’s name was forgotten, but some people still came to sit on his rock and look at his woods, for it was yet the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world.

And so it remains to this day.

Beannachtai na Mathar libh. Siochain Robert, ArchDruid, Berkeley Grove 28 Mean Samhraidh, 14 y.r.
(July 2nd, 1976 c.e.)

 A Note on the Sidhe, people of the Faery Hills;

The Sidhe (Shee), sometimes also known as The Good People and the Tuatha De Danaan, are a race descended of the old agricultural gods of the Earth who have retreated from this Earth to a different dimension of space and time than our own, believed to be living under mounds and fairy raths and cairns,  and also the land of “Tír na nÓg” a mythical island to the west of Ireland. Throughout the ages the Sidhe have been in contact with mortals giving protection, healing and even teaching some of their skills to mortals – Smithcraft or the working of metals being one such skill.  Cuillen (Culann) is one such sidhe smith who has been told of in the legends of Cúchulainn and the later legends of Fionn mac Cumhail. The Gaelic word sí or síog refers to these otherworldly beings now called fairies.This race of beings who has powers beyond those of mankind, they move quickly through the air and may change their shape at will. Many refer to the Sidhe as simply “the gentry”, on account of their tall, noble appearance and silvery sweet speech. It  is thought that good Druids and folk of the spirits may join with them in their Sidhe lands after their mortal life is concluded…Down through the ages the Sidhe have been in contact with mortals giving protection, healing and even teaching some of their skills to mortals – Smithcraft or the working of metals being one such skill.  Cuillen (Culann) is one such sidhe smith who has been told of in the legends of Cúchulainn and the later legends of Fionn mac Cumhail.
The Gaelic word sí or síog refers to these otherworldly beings now called fairies.


 A Multiplicity of Druids;
In 1966, Robert Larson, an ordained priest of the original Carleton Grove group moved to Berkeley, California, where he and Isaac Bonewits founded a small Druidic group with connections to various wiccan covens, and groups which practiced ceremonial magic. This became known as the Berkeley Grove.
In the mid 1970s, Bonewits sought to recast the RDNA as a Neo-Pagan organization, but this met with resistance from several Druids from the Carleton Grove. Several groves subsequently broke off to form “Branches” of Reformed Druidism and in 1976, a new order formed called the New RDNA (NRDNA), which organized under a Council of Arch-Druids, specifically to have a national body more responsive than the Council of Dalon Ap Landu. Some NRDNA groves wanted to restrict membership to Neo-Pagans, and experiment with changes to ritual and the structure of their groves; these became the Schismatic Druids of North America (SDNA). Groves not participating in these changes or schisms were, by default, considered the RDNA. The definition of “Reformed Druidism” stretched to include these variants, not just the RDNA, but the NRDNA, SDNA, and independent folks who just believed in the Basic Tenets.

Arise Oh Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF);
Many members of the SDNA groves left in the 1980s to form the Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), taking a few lessons from Reformed Druidism with them—notably the Waters of Life, an RDNA invention. Currently, in most RDNA and NRDNA groves, members can belong to any or no religion; and due to the emphasis on Grove autonomy, and resulting Grove diversity, there is now little to distinguish between RDNA and NRDNA. Today Ár nDraíocht Féin has groves present across the United States, in Canada, and in other countries.

On the Reform of Neo Druidry in North America;
Until 1983, except for a few fraternal Druid organizations with branches in the USA, Reformed Druidism was really the only publicly known type of neo-druidism in America. ADF provided a training program for Neo-Pagan Druids interested in Indo-European religious concepts, a strong central church-like structure, a liturgical formula, and a great number of council and rules. Over the years, many aspiring Druids joined ADF, borrowed some ideas and produced dozens of new groups of their own. Henge of Kelria was the largest off-shoot, when this group split off for reasons of protest over training programs, charges of ineptitude, and a preference for only Celtic sources of inspiration.
Similarly, the Order of Whiteoak borrowed material from ADF, RDNA, and Keltra, but produced primarily a core of material based on their own research.

Saltem Accurata Et Maxime Iocosa;
While Reformed Druids are considered the least organized and most playful Druids, their literature is perhaps the more extensively produced and archived of any modern Druid group in America. Reformed Druidic literature has been an almost entirely open literature, unlike many fraternal or mystical Druid organizations that restrict material to initiates.
It is however quite possible and common for members to participate actively in a Grove or a conference for years without having read more than a few dozen pages of their literature, as the oral and living traditions are also quite vital and nuanced.
It is notably non-dogmatic, eclectic, leaning towards philosophic rather than magic in focus, and often written “tongue-in-cheek”, with authors tending to poke fun at themselves.

Are American Druids different from British Druids?
Whilst many might bundle American and British Druidry together under the general heading of ‘Neo-Druidism’ in fact these are two separate lines of Druidry. There is ofcourse a shared love of nature, an open attitude towards spirituality, a social focus, and a curiosity about the practices of the ancient Celts, but there are a distinctive differences between the two bodies of Druidism:

The British Druid,
British Druid Orders can trace a formal lineage back to the founding of the Ancient Order of Druids in 1781, although much earlier records attest to their existence in Ancient Britain, Ireland and Europe such as the written records of Julius Ceasar and etc. Indeed Roman author Diogenes ( 3rd century CE ) considered the Druids as one of the ancient world’s wisest philosophers, along with the Magi of Persia, the Chaldeans (the priesthood of the Babylonians) and the Gymnosophists (an Hindu sect which preceded the Yogis), all of whom were skilled in mathematics, physics, logic, and philosophy.
Many British Orders such as the British Druid Order and OBOD use the emblem of Awen invented by the 18th century Druid Edward Williams, aka Iolo Morganwg, although some use other symbols such as the Pendragon, the Red Dragon Rampant of King Arthurs Loyal Arthurian Warband Order of Druids.
The modern British lineage of Druid organisations was initially founded as an organized secret society to compete with the Freemasons in their social works and their spiritual orientations, although subsequent diversification of orientation and purpose has seen divergence of stated aims and practises of various groups.

 The American Druid,
American Druid Orders can trace themselves back to the founding of the Reformed Druids of North America in 1963. The RDNA is an American Neo-Druidic organization formed at Carleton College (The Carleton Grove), Northfield, Minnesota as a humorous protest against the college’s required attendance of religious services. In creating an effective vehicle to challenge the establishment requirements, the founders unwittingly fostered an environment for spiritual exploration. For many new Druids the movement came to represent a valuable part of their spiritual lives and the demand for Druid services continued even after the college requirement disappeared.

The American symbol is a Druid sigil most often rendered as a circle with two vertical lines  through it, and is also similar to the “circle with a dot in the middle” emblem, which is a Masonic sun symbol for God, flanked by two vertical lines, which represent the two Saint Johns, whose festivals are St. John the Baptist on the summer solstice and St. John on the winter solstice.  It first became associated with Druidism in modern times by the founder of the Reformed Druids of North America, David Fisher, in 1963 c.e.. He claimed that it was a symbol of Druidism in general and the Earth Mother in particular. Some think he may have gotten the design from a hasty glance at a picture in Piggott’s book The Druids, which showed the foundations of an old Roman-Celtic temple. Others think he may have gotten it from some Mesopagan Druid organization to which he may have belonged. However, with the two lines running horizontally, the Druid Sigil is known to electricians as the sign for a female plug/socket, and with the lines diagonal, it’s an old alchemical sign for oil, both concepts that could lead to some fruitful meditations.
There are perhaps 40 groves and protogroves of the RDNA, NRDNA and RDG, with 180 priests and priestesses.

More details of Reformed Druids of North America here
(www.rdna.info and www.reformed-druids.org )
ADF here ( http://www.adf.org/core/index.html )
Keltria here ( www.keltria.org )

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Freyr

My hand-carved Freyr charm

Freyr, Frey -Old Norse Mythology lord of the sun, rain and harvests,
He is a shining god, bringing fertility and prosperity to all.
Freyr was one of the Vanir gods that went to live in Asgard after the War between the Æsir and Vanir.

He is the noblest of the gods. Together with his sister, Freyja, he brings peace and prosperity to men and the blessings of fertility to the home and the field. The Norsemen made sacrifices to Freyr ’til árs ok friðar’ (for frutifulness and peace).

Left to right: Njörðr, Skaði, Freyr. From the book The Elder or Poetic Edda; commonly known as Sæmund’s Edda. Edited and translated with introduction and notes by Olive Bray. Illustrated by W.G. Collingwood.

His home is Alfheim and he is known as God of the dead: those interred in the kin mounds and Lord of the land of the Alfs (Elves). This place was later called Elfhame and Elphame, and in more modern times Elfland or Elfenland.
Symbolism, Stags antler, Ship, Wagon, Boar, Rays of the sun, Phallic symbolism (and consequently the modern suggestion of a horn of plenty)
Sacred Animals, Boar, Horse, Stag.
* A Freyr idol with a priestess (or the god’s “wife”) would go on procession round villages to bless the fields during harvest.
* His holy places could not have weapons or outlaws within them and no blood shed.

The possible connections of Freyr with Ingui and their similarities have been noted.
It is known that, according to Norse mythology, Freyr was closely linked with the Sun. He was the god of peace and fertility. His parents were the sea god, Njord and the giantess, Skadi. He translates as the most prominent and most beautiful of the male members of the Vanir, and is often referred to as ‘God of the World’. Subsequent the merging of the Aesir and the Vanir, Freyr is known as ‘the Lord of the Aesir’. Freyr is also called upon by common folk to grant fertile marriages.

Ingui, or Ing, is the rather obscure name of a god in the Anglo-Saxon heathen tradition who was the god of sun and rain, and the patron of bountiful harvests. He was both a god of peace and a brave warrior. He was also the ruler of the elves.

If as many schools believe, he is one and the same as the Norse god, Freyr, then Ingui’s social standing as a god among the Anglo-Saxon heathens could have been one of great veneration.

Evidence connecting the Anglo-Saxon Ingui to the Norse Freyr is that another name for Freyr is Yngvi or Yngvi-Freyr, the Yngvi element is phonetically cognate with the Anglo-Saxon Ingui. It’s possible that the Anglo-Saxon Yngvi-Freyr may have been called Ingui-Frea, Frea being the Anglo-Saxon cognate of Freyr.

Freyr’s Return;

As important for the individual
and development of the world
as the revival of the Divine Feminine
in all Her myriad forms,
is the retrieval of the Passionate, 

Vibrant Masculine.

We might rediscover the caring masculine energies
to be a vital part of the cosmological balance
of universal and interpersonal forces.

Praise Be To Freyr!

Praise Be To Freyr!
To Life, to Spirit, to Freedom!
Praise be Green Hills and Verdant Valleys Forever!
Fertility to the Fields and Flowers!
The Birds and Bees!
The Deer and the Does!
Praise to Dancing and Drinking!
To Frolicksome Freols!
Lifter of Hefts and Hafts!
Unbinder! Lord of the Elf Fields!
May my life be a tribute to the Freedom you o’ersee!
May my life be filled with your festivity and frith!
Praise Be to Freyr!
The Mighty Elf Lord of Freedom!
© Siegfried Goodfellow 2005

In heathenism and paganism, poetry becomes prayer through which we enter into the magic of being in touch with all the holy powers that make this life a sacred blessing.

May You Be Blessed ~

The Spirit of Tree..

>Symbol of Life & Sacred Knowledge is Tree…

Tree provides shelter,food, heat, & clothing (from its bark) as well as tools & weapons, even recycles our air, and thus has been revered since Ancient times.

Druids, Priests and Priestesses, Kings & Queens, all carried staves, wands, or branches (of Oak or other sacred trees) as a symbol of their authority.
The Staff (also made from rowan, walnut, birch and beech) became a symbol that the bearer was an emissary of the Gods…

Tree symbolism was common throughout ancient Europe, some believe that Tree supports the World(s)

Tree’s roots extend beneath Earth into the Underworlds.
Tree’s branches reach up into the Heavens, where God and Goddess can still be seen acting as the Sun & Moon,
& the trunk of Tree is a bridge between these worlds….

Birds are the messengers of the Gods, and the voice of Tree, all birds…

The old mystical belief of ‘As Above, So Below’ came from Tree.
This refers to the belief that whatever is in the unseen world is replicated and manifest in the physical world….
Tree gladly shares its blessings with all who understand..
listen now to Advice from a Tree;

Dear Friend,
Stand Tall and Proud, Sink your roots deeply into the Earth,
Reflect the light of a greater source, Think long term,
Go out on a limb, Remember your place among all living beings,
Embrace with joy the changing seasons, For each yields its own abundance,
The Energy and Birth of Spring,
The Growth and Contentment of Summer,
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall,
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter,

Feel the Wind and the Sun, And delight in their presence,
Look up at the Moon that shines down upon you And the mystery of the Stars at Night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life, Simple pleasures,
Earth, fresh Air, Light.

Be content with your natural beauty, Drink plenty of water,
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes, Be flexible,
Remember your roots, Enjoy the view!
(by Ilan Shamir)

As Tree unites Heaven with Earth, so the Goddess and God become one.

Nature spirits and elementals dwell in Tree, where they watch out and protect all creatures.

Tree taught wisdom in the Catechism for a Witch’s Child;

When they ask to see your gods,your book of prayers..
show them lines drawn delicately with veins on the underside of a bird’s wing,
tell them you believe in giant sycamores mottled and stark against a winter sky,
and in nights so frozen, stars crack open spilling streams of molten ice to earth,
and tell them how you drink a holy wine of honeysuckle on a warm spring day,
and of the softness of your mother who never taught you death was life’s reward,
but who believed in the earth and the sun and a million, million light years,
of being.

(by J. L. Stanley)

There is Music amongst the trees… But our hearts must be at peace to hear it ~

Sines, Sigils & Suchlike *%~….

Whilst ‘God’ may have ‘said’ ‘in the beginning was the Word”…
the concept of words as signs and how they are employed is fraught with complexity,
as the studies of such linguists as Saussure & Noam Chomsky would probably agree.

About signs themselves, they are the pre-linguistic and pictorial origins of words, as may be deduced from the pictography of many ancient messages, and the modern chinese text with its origins in the Oracular Dragon Bones of the Shang Dynasty 1300 BC – 1046 BC (thought by some to shamanically echo the cracks in bones from the fire.)..
As such ancient vessels of meaning, such signs reach past our cognitive mind and straight into the heart of our all seeing sub-conscious selves.

To be more exact, as Carl.Jung has helpfully noted in his Symbols of Transformation text (pp124)
“In neither case should they (signs) be taken literally….
A symbol is an indefinite expression with many meanings, pointing to something not easily defined and therefore not fully known.
But the sign always has a fixed meaning, because it is a conventional abbreviation for, or a commonly accepted indication of, something know.”
Symbols by contrast to signs he alleges are more fluid in meaning then.

All wonderful background for an understanding that language is formed of symbols that we have ascribed definitive meaning to, and thats the point here, it is we who have assigned the meaning to the signs and symbols that we make,
a point not lost on our famous Bard, William. Shakespeare who is believed to have ‘coined’ thousands of words and phrases

To bring this slow background swiftly forward into my topic…
Symbols, also known as Sigils when referring to matters of mystery or spiritual ‘power’
Have a long tradition of deriving their forms from Nature, as it was about nature and natural powers that they ‘spoke’.
For example, the tree, which has been employed variously as a symbol of life & regeneration in respect of the shelter, fruits, fuel and tools that it provided, as well as a centre of sacred knowledge, as in the Garden of Eden.
In this context, that the tree evolved as one of the earliest symbols of reverence is not surprising.

More specifically, about Symbols, Sigils and their ‘power’…
Whilst many cultures have employed various signifiers to represent diverse forms & forces,
and whilst they DO take on some mantle of those meanings in so far as we accord with received opinion over these ….
I make the point that they are then,
Both
Real to the extent that we {unwittingly} empower them as described,
& also Unreal as mere aspects of the nomenclature with which we clothe the world around us.
Our perception of the world then,
Is an imagined apprehension of reality dressed in make believe symbols of power.

Auguries of Infinity…….

Auguries of Innocence

William Blake

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul.

The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.

The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won’t believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov’d by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d.

The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity.
He who torments the chafer’s sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.

The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh.

He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.

The gnat that sings his summer’s song
Poison gets from slander’s tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy’s foot.

The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist’s jealousy.

The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro’ the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;

This is caught by females bright,
And return’d to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.

The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar’s rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.

The soldier, arm’d with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.

One mite wrung from the lab’rer’s hands
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.

He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mock’d in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.

He who respects the infant’s faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour’s iron brace.

When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket’s cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.

The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you please.

If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.

The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.

The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro’ the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

William Blake

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