Posts Tagged ‘Transformation’

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 ~

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the butterfly’s tale ~

When we grew up the world was all magic and still full of beauty,
The butterflies flew high and the flowers grew tall.
But like canaries in a coal mine without light or air or freedom,
When their world came under stress, the time of death they heard call.

Technological agriculture’s destruction of the worlds balance and flow,
Undermines natures resources essential for our wildlife to grow.
And the loss of many countless species will be catastrophic for mankind even so,
As these ecosystem pollinators brought essential plant-life profusion which medical research did know.

In England since the scientific 1970s five species of butterfly have already become extinct,
The remaining 54 diminish faster than any other birds or plant species interlinked.
Yet only now are they recognized as irreplaceable indicators of environmental change,
And as representatives for the crucial diversity of the wildlife community free range.

Hundreds of butterflies, beetles and dragonflies now at risk of vanishing all across Europe,
With almost one-third of 435 butterfly species suffering retrogression closeup,
Loss of environments caused by intensive farming, climate change and tourism destroying their natural habitats strange,
Irrespective of their significant role as pollinators in the ecosystems which they arrange.

And of the American butterflies and of their wild milkweed,
Home of The Monarch butterflies caterpillar, the butterflies seed.
The milkweed has also suffered since genetic alterations were introduced to our crop feed,
The purpose of this biotechnology to kill all except the crop that we need.

But more than just milkweed and other weeds have languished and decayed-
As The Duke of Burgundy, The Grayling, and Greenweed, The Large Blue, Speckled Footman and Painted Lady are all afraid,
Chasing the Large Copper of Ireland, the Giant Swallowtail from Jamaica, the Atewa of Ghana, American Silverspot and Apollo from the Alps to their ultimate end,
We face an ever silent spring as our neighbors and companions, the creatures who peopled our world endure a downtrend.

Yet some believe in a world teeming with life,
And establish Geo-dome sanctuaries amidst the wreckage of this modern strife,
Legally protected lands of untrammeled natural diversity
Respite for natures finite species to shelter from our adversity.

Acting as guardians of this new day of bio-diverse global harmony,
To protect our common heritage from some sterile future ahead,
Helping all the people understand the connection between the creatures and the planet,
How the butterflies are integral, the earths freedom worth more than farmstead.

As a symbol of our spirits and transformation since very ancient times,
The butterfly or soul-mind according to the Greeks sacred sign,
Of life after death as crawling caterpillar gives birth to flying grace,
So our souls are called now, to save this ethereal race.

And on this small earth we’ve got to learn to live together….
Although we’re wearing different faces and we fly with different feather,
If we can save the butterflies, and see the wildness rebound,
We can also save ourselves, lets join the Butterfly Ball and turn this world around.

c. Celestial Elf  2011

…………………………………………………………………………

Once there were swarms of butterfly’s, even as recently as the 1970’s butterfly’s were widespread and populous, but more recently you will be lucky to see one or two compared with the riches that previously adorned our countrysides, river-ways, forests, fields and skies..
In 1892, SG Castle Russell wrote of his walk through The New Forest, South England: “Butterflies alarmed by my approach arose in immense numbers to take refuge in the trees above. They were so thick that I could hardly see ahead and indeed resembled a fall of brown leaves.”
A few centuries earlier, Richard Turpyn recorded a probable mass migration to or from Britain in his Chronicles of Calais during the reigns of Henry VII and VIII: “an innumerable swarme of whit buttarflyes … so thicke as flakes of snowe” that they blotted out views of Calais for workers in fields beyond the town.( Patrick Barkham, The Guardian UK.)

Whilst the collecting of British butterfly’s has now ceased to be acceptable, yet butterfly populations have continued to plummet.
Industrial agriculture and the loss of 97% of England’s natural grasslands and wildflower meadows, planting of conifers or letting our broadleaved woodlands become too overgrown for woodland flowers, plus the ever increasing sprawl of motorways and urban development have contributed significantly to this demise..
In addition, climate change makes it all the more complicated, because as well as new predators, new diseases do destroy native trees, flowers and insects that butterfly’s depended on.
Alien and Invasive weeds also crowd out butterfly food plants, thus depriving the survivors of both home and sustenance.

The United Kingdom’s largest native butterfly, The Swallowtail, was easily found all across the fens of East Anglia, until the draining of these wetlands for agriculture had caused its extinction, it is now confined to the Norfolk Broads.
The Pearl-Bordered Fritillary which was known as the ‘Woodman’s Friend’ because it would follow foresters around as they coppiced or cut down patches of trees because they were attracted to the flowers that blossomed in the freshly cut glades, has also undergone a dramatic decline since this traditional way of ‘harvesting’ wood has died out.
But even before climate change, another man-made event, the introduction of the rabbit-killing disease myxomatosis in the 1950s, caused the decline of many grassland butterfly’s which had relied on large rabbit populations to keep the grasslands short and full of flowers.

The last species to become extinct in Britain was The Large Blue (Maculinea arion) in 1979, however in the 1980s conservationists brought stock from Sweden and successfully re-established the butterfly on a small field on the edge of Dartmoor. Professor Thomas, the man responsible for this return of the Large Blue butterfly to Britain after having worked out vital aspects of its unique lifestyle – specifically that the caterpillar is taken into an ant’s nest to be reared by the ants – has stated “What is bad for butterfly’s is bad for all species – including our own.
( The Independent UK )

Other and less fortunate Species that have become extinct in the UK include;
The Mazarine Blue (Polyommatus semiargus) a small butterfly still found across Europe which feeds on red clover. The last colony in Britain died out in 1904.
The Black-Veined White (Aporia crataegi) still common in Europe, this relative of the Large and Small Whites has been extinct in the UK since 1925, perhaps because of the increase in agricultural chemical useage at that time.
The Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) which was very common in Southern England until after the war, became extinct after Dutch Elm disease destroyed its main food source.

Around the wider world the story is much the same, as the Large Copper of Ireland, the Giant Swallowtail from Jamaica, the Atewa of Ghana, the American Silverspot and the Apollo from the Alps have all become extinct.
In The United States of America the Monarch butterfly also faces drastic reductions following destruction of their milkweed seeding plant due to bio technological agricultural chemicals used in killing the non crop weed.
The amazing Monarch butterfly’s which migrate southward in the autumn to places where the climate is less extreme, and are guided by the sun’s orbit as they travel through North America, moving at a pace of about almost 50 miles a day, although some are thought to have flown up to 80 miles in a day. At the end of October and the beginning of November, after traveling two months, these remarkable butterfly’s settle into hibernation colonies in the mountains of central Mexico, where they spend the winter hibernating.

On a brighter note,
We have finally made a beginning in conserving the right kind of Eco-systems for these fragile species and have even begun creating bio diversity areas to protect and nurture them.
Sir David Attenborough the BBC’s Natural history broadcaster launched in 2008 a £25m conservation project to reverse the ‘silent natural disaster’ that is threatening butterfly species across the UK.
This project, the Butterfly World, is the world’s biggest butterfly house and has approximately 10,000 tropical butterflies of 250 species flying under its dome at any one time in the world’s largest such display, in addition to extensive gardens and meadows to attract native British species, as well as education and research facilities. ( Butterfly World )

How we can all play a role in preserving these important and beautiful creatures ?
Butterfly’s visit gardens to drink nectar from flowers and many nectar producing plants are hardy perennials which are easy to grow.
The most direct method by which any budding Lepidopterist may support the reverse in butterfly populations then, is to plant and encourage suitable nectar producing plants.
The best plants for butterfly’s are the Buddlea, Ice-plant (Sedum), Lavender, Michaelmas Daisy (Aster) and Marjoram (Origanum).
But the butterfly caterpillars also need feeding and for this purpose you might plant Holly and Ivy in sunny positions where they can grow tall and flower.
Also keep your Stinging Nettles as these are home for the Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterfly’s.

Included here is a link to The National Trust (UK) Top 20 butterfly sites;
( The National Trust )

Bright Blessings, Celestial Elf ~

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