Archive for the ‘Understanding’ 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

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A Christmas Carol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


✻ ✼ ❄ ❅ ❆ ❇ ❈ ❉ Occupy Christmas ✻ ✼ ❄ ❅ ❆ ❇ ❈ ❉
to learn about the causes of Occupy I recommend Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine
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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!

Sines, Sigils & Suchlike *%~….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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