Archive for the ‘Pagan’ Category

Samhain Song

 

The sun is bright nolonger – nor warm,

Old branches hung with sleeping.

The great wheel turns, another year,

Into the darkness fleeting.

Of questions asked with breath bowed words,

leaf rustle – bird’s wing whispers.

The rivers tale unfolds a dream,

Moonlight paints winters whiskers.

As darkest night cracks silent stars,

And shapes shift slowly creeping.

In meadows that the scythe has hewn,

Now Samhain fires are leaping.

The dance of life is spinnning on,

Death cleaves and weaves light lowly.

The welcome chant as earth grows cold,

my heart, a north wind only.

The Veil Is thin and gates wide swung,

The Netherworld is dawning.

Samhain arrives with setting sun,

An Otherworld is yawning.

“Ancestors one and Kinsfolk all,

We invite you now to hearth and hall.

Come tell us of your travels hence,

And share your wisdom, recompence.

I ask you lay your blessings here,

In this season of waning of light.

That darkness not be heavy to bear,

And journeys end be bright.

Now hear the voices of the dead,

Uncounted jewels around us.

Of grandafther gone – grandmother led,

from sky – tree – earth they found us.

And one by one the spirits come,

laughing beside our firesides.

Tender tales of sights unknown,

forewarnings of the darksides.

And all too soon the gathering ends,

beloved friends departing.

To Otherworld they do return,

Another year advancing.

As fires quell – through mists one yell

Samhain’s bright blessing heard we;

My time is come – now heed my tell,

And Ever Joy beside thee;

Our ancient blood runs in your veins,

The spirit of our heart your keep.

Our wisdom shared to guide you on,

Thus Take and Give – Remember.

By Cauldron of Earth and Blossom of Bone,

The Circle of Life is Unbroken.

By Depth of Sea and Light of Star,

The forms of Life are but Token.

So Mote It Be!

Samhain Song by Celestial Elf (60)

Samhain the beginning of the “darker half” of the year – the veil is thin between the worlds of the living and dead. As at Beltane, special bonfires are lit to protect the community. Feasts are also held, at which the souls of dead kin are invited and a place set at the table for them.Originally the “Feast of the Dead” was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”. Single candles are also lit in a window to guide the spirits home. Original Poem c. Celestial Elf 2013 c. Celestial Elf. 2013

Rituals for Yule


SUPPLIES: Yule log (oak or pine) with white, red and black candles on it (set it in the fireplace), chalice of wine, small piece of paper and pencil for each person.
The altar is adorned with evergreens such as pine, rosemary, bay, juniper and cedar, and the same can be laid to mark the Circle.

 
~* Ritual for Yule *~
After casting the circle the Priestess should say:”Since the beginning of time, we have gathered in this season to
celebrate the rebirth of the Sun.
On the Winter Solstice, the darkest of nights,
The Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again
gives birth to the Sun and the new yearly cycle,
Bringing new light and hope to all on Earth.
On the longest night of winter,
and the dark night of our souls,
there springs the new spark of hope,
the Sacred Fire,
the Light of the World.
We gather tonight to await the new light.
On this night, the Maiden, who is also Mother
and Crone, prepares to welcome the Sun.
Let’s now prepare to welcome the new light within.”

~Invocation to the Goddess and God:
(Priest) “I light this fire in your honor Mother Goddess
You have created life from death, warmth from cold
The Sun lives once again, the time of light is waxing.
We invite you, Great Mother, to our circle
Bring us new light, the light of your glorious Son.”

(Priestess light the white candle on the Yule log and say):
“I come to you as Maiden
Young and free, fresh as springtime
Yet within me a yearning stirs to create and share
and so I become…

(Light the red candle) The Mother
I bring forth the fruit of my creativity
Yet an ancient prophet once told me, as I stood with my son,
A sword shall pierce through thy own heart also
And I knew that I must become…

(Light the black candle) The Crone
The ancient wise one, Lady of Darkness
We three – in – one who brought forth that special child
as long ago, also anointed him for burial-
A bright light that grew and was sacrificed to be reborn
as a new light.”

(Priest) “Ancient God of the forest, we welcome you
Return from the shadows, O Lord of Light.
The wheel has turned. We call you back to warm us.
Great God of the Sun
I welcome your return
May you shine brightly upon the Earth.”

~Consecration of the Yule Log
(Priestess) “Yule is the end of the old solar year and the beginning
of the new one. Traditionally, the end of the year is a time
to look back and reflect. It is a time to look ahead
to the future, to make plans and set goals.”

On your piece of paper, write something you hope to accomplish during the coming year.
When you are finished, attach the slip of paper to the Yule Log.

Priest picks up the chalice and says:
“We toast the new year (sprinkles wine on the log) and in token
of its promise, we consecrate this sacred wood as a focus for the
energies through which we accomplish our tasks and manifest our
desires during the coming cycle.”

~All drink from the chalice.

(Priestess) “You who have died are now reborn. Lend us your light throughthe winter months as we await the spring. 
Let us now light the Yule Log.
Once having burned with the Yule fire, 

these candles will contain the luck of the log 
throughout the coming year.”
(remember to save a small piece of the log for next Yule 

or save the ashes or the candles.)

~Priest and Priestess light the Yule log together.

~Closing:
(Priestess – extinguishing the God taper)
“Thank you Bright Lord
for the light you have brought to us this night
May we carry it within us throughout the coming year.”

(Priest – extinguishing the Goddess taper)
“Thank you most gracious Lady
for your freshness of spirit, your nurturing care
your infinite wisdom
Live within us throughout the coming year.
So mote it be.”

~Close the circle the way you usually do.~

My thanks to The White Goddess for this ritual.

~* A Solitary Yule Invocation *~

Morning light will flood the chamber
– winter solstice sun.

 
Energy unfolding,

Saturn’s rule has just begun.

 
Crystals formed of ice and frost
freeze field and forest green.

 
While Mighty Oak and Holly
Fight for favours from our Queen.

 
The Great Wheel brings conception,
birth, and death as days of yore.

 
Each bonfire on a leyline
honours what has gone before.

 
Seven planets, seven spheres,
seven gates swing open.

 
I lift my arms and call the charge
the incantation spoken!

 
I conjure water spirits,
Pour forth the sacred winds
come hither, O great fire!
The magick now begins!

 
Solar vapors, starry heavens
clouds and earth and waves
unite in your perfection
on this shortest solstice day!

 
I hold the key of secrets
and the phantoms will avail
the crossroads shimmer open
as the rod connects to grail.

 
Seven planets, seven spheres,
seven gates swing open.

 
I list my arms and call the charge
the incantation spoken!

 
Beribboned Yule logs burning
each spark a blessing brings.

 
Red and green, the sacred blood
of past and future kings.

 
Mistletoe and bayberry,
winter’s leaves and resin.

 
Spice and myrrh and evergreen
connect the Earth to heaven.

 
Through scented smoke and sacred prayer
I manifest good will.

 
Bring peace and joy to hearth and home
and every wish fulfill.

 
Seven planets, seven spheres
seven gates swing open

I lift my arms and call the charge
the incantation spoken!

 
Author Unknown ~
May The Sun Shine Upon Your Life
~ * Blessed Yule To You * ~

The Helmsman

The Helmsman;
Nine days and nights in Odin’s tree,
Of questions ask and answers see-
Nine days and nights sing skaldic scribes
Of this and many other lives-

Praise not the day till it is ended
Praise not the sword till battle blended
Praise not the path till it is wended
Praise not the way, but apprehend it!

 

As cattle, fish and fowl do die
Each mortal life is measured-
Yet strange new lands before us lie
We chase with hearts uplifted-

Hear the spirit song of Ulfr Sigurdsson
In Odin’s Raven’s caw…
With wit and wisdom his longships leaped
Through battles, storms and more…

Yet even Vanir of Vanaheimr
Cannot keep men’s fate at bay-
And so it came one grimstone night
And Ulfr fell away…



Launched on his voyage past realms of dead
Past Hel and Holy Mountain
A silver star to guide him on
And Heimdall’s horn to found him!

As choirs call and fires roared
The rainbow bridge did open-
Bifrost bit and blazing lit
And Ulfr dreaming – woken

Now Midgrad falls and Nine worlds fall
As Yggdrassil is spinning!
Past Valhalah and Folkvangar
A new world here did win him-

And stepping out with mighty shout
Ulfr Sigurdsson set about him-
Traversing time and inner space
A spiritual transition mounting

Galactic tides neath cosmic skies
The Helmsman now arisen
Northwind has blown beyond self home
And courage follow vision

Beyond the stars in longships far
Above the heavens highness
Across Oceans vast and deep and fast
The voyage is inside us..


Cross  Fjords of Space a Cosmic race
Earth energy is learning
Light years of time within sublime
The spirit song returning…

Original Story c. Celestial Elf. Original music c. Crum of Moonloonies.
Presented by Odin Allfather, 
& Inspired by the Havamal, The Wisdom of the North 
or The Sayings Of The High One 
in the Poetic Edda,
This is the tale of the Death and Life of Ulfr Sigurdsson,
Viking Helmsman and Northman of both Earth and Beyond.


Ulfr has been a worthy Captain of many a Longship in his time,
And brought his crew safely through assorted dangers. 

Longships were called ‘Dragon Ships’ by their enemies.

The average length of a Longship was 21 metres,

the longest ever was 70 metres,

and could hold 30 oarsmen…

However and despite the well wishes of the Vanir of Vanaheimr
Loki with a heart of darkness moved beyond matter 
and killed Ulfr.
The Helmsman is given a fine send of on a Funeral ship.
As he goes to the beyond realms 
he finds the Rainbow Bridge within himself. 
Traveling this pathway to the Otherworlds, 
He pauses at the Astral realms
where he meets the goddess Freyja 
who guides him onwards. 
As they travel,
Ulfr notices that his spirit self is transforming further, 
He is becoming a star….

Odin;

In Norse mythology, One of Odin‘s names was Hangatyr, the god of the hanged,
for having hanged nine days and nine nights on the tree Yggdrasil,
a sacrifice to himself, in order to gain wisdom and knowledge.

When Odin hung on the World Tree in search of knowledge that is unknowable to the living,  he peered into the depths beyond the dead, into the void of nothingness called Ginnungagap (‘beguiling void’) that existed before all else in the Norse Universe.

Here he discovered the secret of the Runes, the letter-characters that were used throughout the entire world that was inhabited (or even visited) by the migrating Germanic tribes including Sweden, Iceland, England, and even Constantinople.

He also saw into the future, past the great battle of the End of Times called Ragnarok and beyond this into the new World that would emerge and exist after this, although it would not include himself

nor most of his kin.


Vanir;

In Norse mythology, the Vanir (singular Vanr) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom and the ability to see the future.

The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Aesir) and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (‘Home of the Vanir’).

After the Aesir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Aesir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Aesir.

The Vanir are attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds.

Loki;

Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr.

Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. Loki’srelations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr. Loki is eventually bound by the gods and banished.

The Rainbow Bridge;

Bifröst or The Rainbow Bridge is a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (the world) and Asgard, the realm of the gods.

In my version however, this Rainbow Bridge is an analogy for a sacred, spiritual pathway to the inner realms beyond life and death…

Freyja;

Freyja is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, war, and death. Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla.

About Moonloonies

Crum formed Moonloonies in 1991 out of the remaining ashes of Shockhead. Shockhead combined psychedelic sounds and the the driving beat, distortion and heavy bass of Hawkwind with a dub style and a dread-locked Rasta lead singer.

Crum also co-wrote the ‘AGENTS OF CHAOS’ with DAVE BROCK

( HAWKWIND Captain )

& played Keyboards on Hawkwind British & European tours.

Two subsequent live albums were recorded

‘In your area’ and’ Live’.

Moonloonies are currently working on their 8th CD.

  

Be your friend’s true friend, 
Return gift for gift.
Blessed Be 

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 ~


The Juggler’s Song

The Juggler’s Song;
Gather round friends and I’ll weave your Soul a Song
A luminous journey that wont last very long
Its a difficult game , you might forget your name,
I’ll juggle with delight, let the mysteries explain….

The physical physical ball is shining blue and mostly green
Wrapped in Awareness, Brighter than a Dream
I call it Earth, the Ark of Home and of the Heart
The magic of the growing things, reborn and growing start.

At First were added Stars and Eyes, the Gift of Dancing Light
A body with no name, rolling in primordial night,
By charm and incantation, teaching tongues that never fain
Learning lightness of the Air, whispered silence of refrain.

Understanding is the Second, as it flairs bright red in you,
Reconciling Strangeness, unravels all you ever said and do.
I call forth Fire and Truth Transcending Tempest Torn,
A gift for All who wonder, now your smiling not forlorn.

At First was added motion, to no thing a stagnant plight,
I’ll pretend to be a Human, Skydancer of the Light.
By the eye that never fails but falling rises through the sky,
Calling with a voice of gladness now I offer to those who fly…

The Third is blessed with Insight, a ball imbued in only blue,
riding tides of the emotion, dizzy deepness within you.
I call it Water, and watch in laughter as it flows,
You cannot grasp it tho you try, yet follow where it goes….

At First we spoke of Three, the magic power contained in thee
Clothed in Substance, Space and Matter and No Matter -Infinity
By following the Spheres along open paths Pertuity
Aright Ethereal Ethers and Ancient powers cross thresholds Three

The last little ball, look through mind’s I to see,
Attired like a Dragon, in All you shall Ever Be.
I call it Air, by which enchantment I set your spirit free,
The secret of this song, Eternities Harmony.

c. Celestial Elf 2012

Poem inspired by The Incredible String Band ‘Juggler’s Song’.

Symbolism of The Juggler;

The Greek words for Juggler also referred to Wonder Workers, Wizards and Conjurers, and were allied to ‘Magos’ which referred to the Magicians who came from India and China. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from the time of Roger Bacon (13th century) to the semi-legendary Doctor Johannes Faustus (1480-1540), the Conjurer was a figure of fear and ridicule, respect and suspicion, suspected of tampering with forbidden powers. The Conjurer-Juggler became the Sorcerer who invokes and controls Elemental powers. (Journal of Popular Culture)

The Ancient Mystics believed that truth was less likely to be obscured if it was passed on in the form of symbols. Therefore the 78 cards in Tarot decks contain many symbols and characters. The 22 Trump cards are meant to depict the stages of evolution, the four suits; Discs, Wands, Cups and Swords – depict the relative aspects of consciousness.
The Juggler was most commonly referred to in Tarot as ‘Le Batleur‘ the bearer of the Wand (energy sent forth). In later versions of the first known deck, the Visconte Sforza deck, Le Batleur became known as the Magician or Juggler. Some associate him with Hermes Trismegistus, a combination of Hermes and of Thoth, a god of the moon, knowledge, and writing. In this aspect The Magician guides The Fool through the first step out of the cave of ignorance into the light of consciousness (Juggler’s World) .The Magical Juggler here invokes the forces of nature outside of time and so reveals the spiritual infinity within all things.

The Four Signs; Earth Water Fire Air –

Druids state that all life is made of the four Elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air, without which life could not exist. The Four Elements deeply influence our personalities and lives at a physical as well as metaphysical level. They are made up of Etheric substances having certain qualities, natures, and purposes that are unique to their particular element and are also considered to be living entities (sometimes resembling humans) inhabiting a world of their own.
Known to many cultures, particularly the Greeks and Romans from whom we get our names for them. In Greek ‘Gnoma’ (Gnomes) meant knowledge or the knowing ones, ‘Silphe’ (sylph) was a butterfly or being with gauzy wings. The ‘Salambe’ (Salamander) is like a Dragon. (Magical Elements)
These four Elements correspond to the Four Directions of our physical world, the Four Quarters of the Universe, the Four Winds, and the Four quarters of a magical Circle. Earth and Water are considered female energies; Fire and Air are male.

The Earth as a feminine and fertile ball of life, embodies the Circle of the Year. All aspects of life take place within and upon the Earth: birth, life, death, change and rebirth. In Tarot readings, the Earth is related to the suit of Disks, Coins or Pentacles. Its color is clear dark green.
The Element of Earth rules the Northern quarter of the Circle and oversees the Brownies, Dwarves, Dryads, Gnomes and Hamadryads.

Fire is a purifying, masculine energy which both creates and destroys, bringing about new life or destroying the old and as such is a perfect metaphor for Understanding. Tan or Teine in the old Celtic language, was considered the most sacred Element because it is the closest to pure energy. In Tarot, Fire is connected to the Wand suit. For color correspondences, use red and orange.
The Element of Fire governs the Southern quarter of the Circle and oversees Salamanders, Drakes and Dragons.

Water is a powerful feminine energy connected with the Goddess and used for healing, cleansing, and purification. Water is also associated with the powers of Emotion and of the Unconscious mind. In Tarot Water is represented by the Chalice, Cup, Bowl, and Cauldron cards. Its color is pure blue.
The Element of Water governs the Western quarter of the Circle and oversees Nymphs, Undines, Mer-people, and the Spirits of Springs, Lakes and Rivers.

Air is always free, yet links everything to everything else. Associated with words and language, Air Element represents the Mind and is here a metaphor for knowledge. In Tarot, Air is expressed by The Swords. Its color is pure yellow.
The Element of Air governs the Eastern quarter of the Circle and oversees the Elves or Sylphs, Nature Spirits and Fairies.

Creating a Magical Pentacle, there is a fifth Element, The Element of Spirit (‘Nyu’ to the Druids), which dominates the center of the Circle, balancing all the other Elements.

On the Unusual Order of The Jugglers Elements;
The order used in this song and film is derived from the Phoenician roots of the Scandinavian Runic symbols, which indicate first, the leaving of linear time, and second the merging or entering of the metaphysical realm. I have used this order to signal the songs intention. (The Meaning of Myth)

Of The Powers of Three;
The Triad a defining characteristic of Celtic religion and mythology, is a symbol of Universal significance – it is found throughout history and all over the world and can be interpreted in many different senses: Spirit/Mind/Body in a Circle of synthesis; Past/Present/Future enclosed in the ring of Eternity; Art/Science/Religion bound in a Circle of culture.

From the Druid or Celtic Shamanistic viewpoint the number three represents the different views one might develop following an initiation ceremony. Celtic Shamans believed that they could see the present, past and future – their vision of the world was complete and trustworthy. The Shaman often saw himself as a man standing in three different worlds at the same time. In this way, his judgments, decisions and advice were imbued with greater insight and awareness.

Bright Blessings ~

A Christmas Carol

.

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 ~

From Community To Individual and Back Again; On The Seasonal Festival ~

Ronald Hutton’s The Stations of The Sun, A Review;

                                                                        
At the outset I had hoped for a more ‘traditionally’ pagan account of the ancient seasonal festivals, their origins and meanings.
I was initially surprised and eventually delighted to find however that although this work is more of an Academic compote of facts and dates and included ongoing assessment of earlier authors often unfounded but sometimes inspirational conjecture than I had anticipated (of Sir James Frazer et al) nevertheless this is a very enjoyable, remarkably researched and admirably objective book-collection of essays.

That much of this morass concerns the developments and impacts of constantly changing traditions due to Christian Reformation and Counter Reformation (certainly comedic at this distance in time), the ongoing process a seminal crucible (reminding me of both grail and cauldron) proved revealing, as the general view of folk traditions and their origins seems to usually favor the more arcane sources, this book by contrast documents only definite evidence, largely that of written records, of church, kirk and council across the land.

Toasting The Yule Log

With a nod to the Scandinavian Yuil, as well as the Roman Kalendae, we embark on an exploration of the traditions of Christmastide, the Twelve Days, the Rites of Celebration, Purification and of Charity which included the remarkable Clementing, Elementing and Souling, even Thomasing, Gooding, Mumping and Corning (as well as more) regional begging customs, by which means the poor would recant rhymes for contribution of food for a feast of their own.
 

A Heaving

Similar appeals for reward included the Hocktide ‘heaving’ at Easter, in which gangs of men assaulted women for favor and groups of women also pursued and caught men for same, at its best a raising up on a lifted chair as proxy ‘Lord’ to commemorate the ascent of Easter, the surrogate released upon a reward of money or a kiss, at its worst a mere grasping by hands and throwing upwards as an occasion for assault and robbery.
The ongoing exposition of numerous social customs of this kind, both dazzle the mind with their quantity, as well as provides a clear insight into how poverty was communally accepted, dealt with by innovative appeals to the community at large and that these were often ‘sanctioned’ by inclusion of some short Christian phrase in the introductory verse or chant.

Medieval Carolers Singing

The author traces the development of such customs and portrays their eventual descent into more high spirited, reckless and even angry demands for assistance that could be met with threats and violence if not accepted.
Once national schools were established and later a more centralized protection for the poor was introduced, such earlier community traditions dissipated further, demonstrating the authors argument throughout this book of the movement from a community sharing seasonal rituals and traditions including those aspects of display that were geared to earn rewards, to the de-socialization of such community into a society characterized by its more insular and private approach to seasons and their festivals or traditions.

A Solitary Witch

The Christianization of earlier traditions also has its place in this book, as for example the feast marking the end of winter and start of the summer months ahead at February 1st, Imbolc (the etymology of its name relating to ewes milk and thus new life) initially dedicated to the Irish goddess Brigid, but who was later morphed into the Christian St Bride.
This is an important theme of both this book and of the mythological psycho-social developments of these Isles. Most surprisingly the often claimed genesis or inception of many Christian traditions in the pre Christian, infact seems to have increasingly worked in reverse. As religious conflicts in the land over changing orthodoxies developed, the Catholic tradition with its wealth of near magical rituals was vigorously being uprooted from the public and community sphere of practice by the ascent of the puritan Protestant, the ensuing personal spiritual void resulted in many cases in the earlier magical Catholic rituals being carried on privately at home and eventually (d)evolving into allegedly ancient ‘survivalist’ ‘folk-traditions’. Conversely, some of the Christianized traditions do appear to have had earlier sources such as the Rogationtide and Pentecost processions, at which time the people marched en mass around the crop fields, singing hymns at chosen stop points as the church ministers blessed the crops.

Beating The Bounds

The book does feature ancient  tradition where evidence has supported this, such as for example the affirmation of the Beltane as an accepted fire festival in certain regions of Northern Europe and the outlaying regions of the British Isles (unlike the later Samhain, for which evidence of a major ‘Celtic’ fire festival is less apparent). With greater detail due to the weight of evidence available however, Hutton explores the cultural progress towards our more modern current perspectives, for example plotting the development of the ‘May‘ (which unsurprisingly did have ancient antecedents in the delight of Spring returned) as people initially adorned self and home with garlands and greenery, which in time became a tradition of young women selling garlands, later children took over this role, and in their turn both to manage the unruly and the revenue these were eventually taken over by schools and local institutions. By contrast, the Mummers Plays with their essentially Christian derived themes of battle, death and resurrection, were more officially sanctioned groups from the outset and had less to do with earlier pre Christian traditions.

Group of Mummers

                                                                     

Raising The May Pole

Despite growing religious and institutional involvement in previously communal activities and traditions, the populace applied themselves with great enthusiasm to any occasion of social bonding, often at some cost to the societies they lived in (other than merely of money or means) such as the many community Maypoles stolen by rival villages and towns resulting in pitched battles between the two, the anarchic Saturnalia of Misrule as witnessed at the Shrovetide street ‘foot-ball’ games played across whole towns which could involve thousands of people and provided an occasion for licensed misrule resulting in damage to property and individual (although less violent than the serious riot and rebellion which was reserved for the Summer games as a time more suited for battle on the streets or field).

 The Church Ales or festivals also developed their Abbots of Unreason and a myriad practices of inversion and nonsense (Samuel Butler now we know where your inspiration came from).
 Charting how an apparently arcane ‘folk tradition’ once also considered a surviving pagan fertility rite had originated in high social circles of the Royal Courts and devolved into the rural communities, Hutton’s’ research into the Morris dancers is fascinating for its explanation of how we may create ‘new’ ancient traditions.

Modern Jack in The Green, Hastings

Perhaps my favorite exposition in this work is that of the origins and evolution of The Jack in the Green, identified as a ‘survival’ of an ancient pagan fertility rite by the Frazerite Lady Raglan of the Folklore society in 1939, established on her view linking the dancing Green-Man in May day processions with the foliage faces on church walls. This was a lineage unresolved till 1979 Roy Judges study revealed the true origins to be somewhat less arcane, and linked them to a more traditional social ritual evolved as so many traditional customs of display were, to celebrate the new season with a display deigned to garner reward.
To explain, during the17thC, London milkmaids danced the streets on May Day with their pails covered in flowers which symbolized the Springs new growth and so presented the promise of new grass for the cattle thus promising fresh milk, cream and butter. These displays earned them money as reward and therefore can be seen to serve a double purpose, of advertising their wares, as well a gathering much needed financial support after a lengthy winter without much income. They later left the pails for lighter wooden frames similarly covered in flowers and greenery, and later still were imitated in their greenery attired frames and street dancing display by the London Chimney sweeps whose claim for sympathy at this time was based on the end of winter cold meaning no more fires or work for them till next fall.

May Day Jack In The Green

Hutton surmises this work with a number of provocative and insightful observations, for example that the notion of a distinctive ‘Celtic’ ritual year with four festivals at the quarter days and an opening at Samhain, is a scholastic construction of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which should now be considerably revised or even abandoned altogether.
Whilst the debt to a medieval, magical Catholicism seems to be growing apparent in my reading of serious studies of the origin of neo-pagan traditions, Hutton’s final words over the changing Christian influence upon the traditional festivals of the year are revelatory.
He establishes that soon as the system of salvation through ritual was scrapped at the Reformation, the merry making began to be regarded as a liability by the social and religious elites….thus the
evolution of a religious ideology …(had) produced a society imbued with a general taste for ceremony and acted as a means to endorsement of secular festivity.
In other words, Merry England was inspired by the fires of hell

Finally that ‘the rhythms of the British year are timeless and impose certain patterns on the calendar customs’, to celebrate spring, to make merry in summer and draw close at fall, despite government and mass media atomization of community, seems a fair conclusion.
Overall this book suggests to me that whilst certain traditions may not have an established ancient provenance, nevertheless because people are increasingly applying such meanings to the seasons cycles as an inherent pagan response to nature itself, we may now be seeing a further reversal of the community oriented neglect of seasonal festivals and a resurgence of a more nature based community oriented society at large.

Not a book for the exclusively poetic or mythologically minded, but if read in the objective manner with which it is presented, this book provides a wealth of insight and understanding into the seasonal festivities as they have evolved in these British Isles and the influence they bear on modern pagan perspectives, Recommended.


Happy Reading,  
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 /|\ ~

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.


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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 /|\

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