Friday, 8 April 2016

The role of a Gothi / Gythja

This was prompted as a follow on to the post on Lordship and from the discussions on the role of Heathen Guru's or Priests - The Gothi .
"The Gothi leads the ceremonies. That is fairly vague. Also stated was that the Gothi was a respected member of the group. Again, vague, but telling more. If you want to be a Gothi, you will have to be respected by an Asatru group and know enough to lead ceremonies." from here.
So from a Gewessi point of view think about the personal growth part of this; to be a Gothi to yourself you need to respect, love and understand yourself. You need to understand ritual, sacrifice and be knowledgeable on the lore of your land.   As Woden did upon Yggdrasil...
I trow I hung on that windy Tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself to mine own self given,
high on that Tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven.

You will need to learn about all of the seasonal blóts and symbels, as well as days dedicated to the Gods and Goddesses and ancient heroes to honour. There may also be ceremonies particular to your group (even a solitary like me has links to groups or tribes) if you are a member of one, such as its founding or the birthday of its founder, and you will need to know those. For a solitary it's important to know and develop your own, these are mine:

  1. Ritual Year - the 8 fold cycle from modern paganism and particularly Druidry
  2. Full Moon Meditation - Druidry meditation on peace and healing to the worlds
  3. Festum Prophetae - 17th June road ride to honour Eddy Merckx and road cycling
  4. Virum Honorem - 24th August MTB ride to honour Jason McRoy
  5. Life Events - these are ad-hoc
Rituals should involve either a Blót or a Symbel. Here is a prayer
When ale thou quaffest, call upon earth's might --
'tis earth drinks in the floods.
Earth prevails o'er drink, but fire o'er sickness,
the oak o'er binding, the earcorn o'er witchcraft,
the rye spur o'er rupture, the moon o'er rages,
herb o'er cattle plagues, runes o'er harm.

A Gewessi must decide when & know when to hold them and the difference between a Symbel or ritual feast where you need to give a toast, a boast & a promise, and a blót or sacrifice (ritual times of year & ad-hoc) - the text here is a Blót description:
To this festival all the men brought ale with them; and all kinds of cattle, as well as horses, were slaughtered, and all the blood that came from them was called "hlaut", and the vessels in which it was collected were called hlaut-vessels. Hlaut-staves were made, like sprinkling brushes, with which the whole of the altars and the temple walls, both outside and inside, were sprinkled over, and also the people were sprinkled with the blood; but the flesh was boiled into savoury meat for those present. The fire was in the middle of the floor of the temple, and over it hung the kettles,
which then moves onto a Symbel description...
and the full goblets were handed across the fire; and he who made the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and all the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin's goblet was emptied for victory and power to his king; thereafter, Niord's and Freyja's goblets for peace and a good season. Then it was the custom of many to empty the brage-goblet (Brage is a poem often to the departed); and then the guests emptied a goblet to the memory of departed friends, called the remembrance goblet.
This is a historical account, in our modern world I do not think that re-construction is appropriate with its unlicensed butchery and spraying blood everywhere! In our modern age alcohol such as beer, wine or vodka could be used or smudging with incense smoke. Most of all the sense you get from the lore is that this is not a puritanical, staid and boring experience but one of joy, laughter and good-natured flyting which in the modern world we call banter.

To sum up being your own Gothi or Gythja

you need knowledge of ritual and when to perform it, experience of working with your Gods and finally, but most importantly, the personal growth to have confidence and respect in yourself as your Gothi/Gythja.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Eostre seed thought - new beginnings

As I have documented over the past few years I rode upto Wolstonbury hill to re-dedicate myself to the Gewessi path. Since I've been writing this blog it is interesting to note the different weather & how I am feeling at this time. So this year, after 6 months of repeated virus illness and minimal riding, I cycled up on a pleasant sunny, spring day. My lungs no longer felt glued by infection and the wracking cough has subsided, I almost felt like a rider again.

The circle of thorns is lifted

and the reason for the illness became clear, it was holding me in place until this time. The runes told me some years ago to hold fast in my job, I have been doggedly stuck there for many a year. Now the kids have grown, almost flown the nest and I am free of day to day fatherly duties. The runes told me before I went into the redundancy meeting that my desire is granted - it's time to leave my workplace of the past 19 years with the golden handcuffs unshackled and placed in my hands.

It is time to move onto the Druid grade within OBOD's teaching structure, change my job and look to the future. The runes gave me a caution in Isa for the future about moving cautiously but there is wealth also
(Ice) is very cold
and exceedingly slippery
it glistens, clear as glass
very much like gems,
a floor made of frost
is fair to see.
— Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem
I look forward to my adventure ahead and had a Blot for fair weather and good health.

Friday, 26 February 2016

The Role of an Anglo-Saxon Lord

A long time ago, at the request of Beith a noted scholar prevalent on the OBOD Forum I wrote a long essay on this & lost it when my PC crashed (she left due to the badgering of less-than-scholarly people convinced, due to the Dunning Kruger effect, their unstructured opinions were correct). It has taken me many years to write it again.

Heoric Lordship

The key nature of Lordship in the Anglo-Saxon world is in the relationships and incumbent duties around gift giving. It is not a world where the divine right of Kings, with its underlying social caste structure, is a given. This 'divine right of kings' develops later as part of the ossification of structure in the Feudal world. In the Feudal world kingship become hereditary rather than the meritocracy of the Heroic Age (aka Age of Migrations, Dark Ages, Early Medieval period).

The Heroic Age is a world where a lord is reliant upon his people just as his people are reliant upon him. A good lord is much more aware of the symbiosis and potential fragility of this relationship. A lord is either given power by the Witan (wise leaders of the people) or takes power through his own abilities as a warrior and leader. As a lord he gains wealth which is then distributed as gifts. This ties into the act of giving as an oath, which is related to the rune Gebo, the X, which is the handshake of the act of giving between gift-giver and gift-receiver. The act of giving is a sacred one involving responsibility and duties. Thus both the acts of giving & receiving is an oath. Which ties into the religious and cultural significance of the oath and sacrifice. In an oral world one's spoken word becomes very important your 'word is your bond' and it is these ties of bond-ship that uphold the cultural structure of the heroic world. So when a lord is described as 'ring-giver' there is more than just the transferral of wealth involved.

The only thing more sacred than your word would be an oath-ring carved with runes and given to the gods - many oath rings have been found sacrificed at archaeological digs at Heargs & Hofs. The oath ring is sacred to Thunor (Thor) and Wuldor (Ullr), so the ring is related to divine power. So that when a Lord is named ring-giver it also relates to the Oath as Law and the Lord's role as Law enforcer. "Many times this object was the oath ring and this oath ring was a holy item in the hof. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives an example of the oath ring being used by the Danes in 876 and there is an account of a ring called Thor's ring on which oaths were sworn. Thor presided over the Assembly, which opened on Thursday (Thor's Day) in Iceland. In Eyrbyggja Saga the oath ring was described as being 20 ounces of silver. When not in use it lay on the stalli and during feasts the gothi wore it on his arm. In the description of Thórólf's hof in Iceland, the ring is described as being 2 ounces and was worn on the finger of the gothi during all assemblies. Like the description in Eyrbyggja Saga, this ring laid on the stalli of the hof when not in use. "

A lord uses the gift of wealth as a contract, he does not give lightly and expects loyalty from the gift receiver. The Battle of Maldon poet says this when describing Godric's cowardly betrayal of his duties as gift-receiver
"and left his good lord
Who had often given him many a mare,
He sprang upon the horse that his lord had owned,
Upon the trappings where no right had he"
The poet contrasts the act of the good lord giving a horse with the crime of stealing a horse. Upon seeing the Lord's horse leave the field of battle it causes the shield-wall to break because the people believe their Lord had broken. The shame of betraying your oath, your Lord and your kin will long be remembered. You will not go to the Halls of the Honoured dead but will instead end up in the grey purgatory of Hel or worse; back to the mud un-remembered and un-mourned.

The Germanic peoples, like the Celtic people, had a long history of tribal law handed down as part of an oral tradition. The Lord holds the Hall, the hearth of his people. This hall is the central point within the Garth, the boundary, of the people. In this respect the Lord has to be aware that he holds the spiritual & physical power of his people, if he breaks or betrays this then his people will break and the line of tradition is broken. As King he is also Gothi to his people and so responsible for their spiritual well being too. So if the Gods don't favour him then his people will break oath with him. If his people break oath with him then he breaks and his lineage can be broken.

Conflicts of interest

A good Lord is also aware of the conflict of interest a person may have between their Lord and their Kin, he will use his generosity as a gold giver and law giver to ensure loyalty to him. A Lord does not inherit his position it is given to him by the people (or for a King the lesser Lord or Thegns of the people). The bond between a lord and his housecarls is one of blood-brotherhood, in that respect the Lord's companions are also bound by the kin-oaths. Whilst a Lord's thanes may not have the kin-oaths, his housecarls should live and die with him...
'Soon in the struggle was Offa struck down
Yet had he done what he boasted to his friend
As he bragged before to his ring-giver:-
That they both to the burg should ride
Hale to their home, or in the battle fall,'
This sentiment is common throughout the A-S literature; in 'Beowulf' at the end Wiglaf articulates the same sentiment and it's a theme within 'The Wanderer' too.

There is a common theme of holding your counsel until you know your mind and not being a loud braggart; 'That with proud minds many did then speak
Who later at need would not endure.'
Which in our modern world we would call 'talking the talk but not walking the walk'. So a good Lord must know when to listen and when to talk wise counsel. This passage from 'The Wanderer' sums up the approach of a good lord...
'A wise Lord must be patient
nor too impulsive, hasty of speech,
nor weak as a warrior
nor reckless,
nor pessimistic
or overly optimistic
nor greedy
or eager for boasts.'

Gewessi Mindfulness

What does this mean to a follower of the Gewessi path? I would say that just as a Gewessi is a Gothi/Gythi it is incumbent upon you to behave a like a Lord (or Lady and I'm not going to get into a Transgender argument about terminology!). So that in your daily mindfulness of interacting with people think of the relationship between gift-giver and receiver and the advice above about how a wise Lord behaves. I find the advice above very useful when dealing with social media.
Picture from here
ref: Heroic Age
Wanderer

Friday, 12 February 2016

Einigen Gawr - Some Giant

This a mash-up of various times I've come across Einigen Gawr, one a story written by a Tom Byrne and I can't find it via google. I can't find much on Einigen, so it seems his story is consigned to the hidden recesses of the internet. This is because Iolo Morganwg and his Barddas is regarded by many as a fraud. His is not authentic, provable Medieval knowledge but he suggested it was. The question of quality is not considered, particularly in this digital binary age when the Twitterati and Face-achers leap upon liminal knowledge with a howl of faux-outrage and vent their spleen from the safety of their mobile profile.

However, I suggest it is time to reconsider Iolo's place in the Druidic continuum as his was one of the spark's that ignited the Romantic movement to explore the Celtic Twilight which led to the Meso-druidic movement and then onto today's modern Druidic paths. Many of those interested in the Druidic path have not heard of Einigen Gawr, einigen in German means 'some', gawr in Welsh means giant. Which is about right, Einigen Gawr is some giant that in Iolo's Barddas is the primary giant, perhaps a little like Ymir to the Norse. There is a quality that continues in the symbol of Druidry the /|\ . So here are three views on the Druidic primal giant of wisdom.

THE GOGYRVENS

This is taken from Iolo's Barddas

  1. The three principal elements 2 of every thing: power; matter; and mode.
  2. The three principal elements of sciences: life; intellect; and affection.
  3. The three elements of wisdom: object; mode; and benefit.
  4. The three elements of memorials: understanding from affection; distinctive sign; and reverence for the better.
  5. The three elements of letters, ; that is to say, from a combination of one or other of the three are letters made.
They are three rays of light. Einigan the Giant beheld three pillars of light, having in them all demonstrable sciences that ever were, or ever will be. And he took three rods of the quicken tree, and placed on them the forms and signs of all sciences, so as to be remembered; and exhibited them. But those who saw them misunderstood, and falsely apprehended them, and taught illusive sciences, regarding the rods as a God, whereas they only bore His Name. When Einigan saw this, he was greatly annoyed, and in the intensity of his grief he broke the three rods, nor were others found that contained accurate sciences. He was so distressed on that account that from the intensity he burst asunder, and with his [parting] breath he prayed God that there should be accurate sciences among men in the flesh, and there should be a correct understanding for the proper discernment thereof. And at the end of a year and a day, after the decease of Einigan, Menw, son of the Three Shouts, beheld three rods growing out of the mouth of Einigan.

AODA - John Michael Greer

The eminent Druid John Michael Greer refers to him in his book "The Celtic Golden Dawn" and paraphrases Iolo as follows.

In the beginning of things Einigen Gawr, the first of all created beings, beheld three rays of light descending from the heavens in which were the all the knowledge there ever was and ever will be. These were three voices and the three letters of one name, the Name of the Infinite One:

  • A, Knowledge, the sign of Gwion, the Bounty of Nature
  • W, Power, the sign of Cerridwen, the Cauldron of Annwn
  • N, Peace, the sign of Taliesin, the Child of Light
GewessiMan says If Gwion, Cerridwen and Taliein don't call to you then Beli, Arianrhod and Lleu may or for us Gewessi we could look at Ingvi-Freyr, Frig and Balder.

Another view

Excerpts from a long story by a Tom Byrne, internet denizen that I can no longer find..."You may have come across the story of Einigan Gawr, the legendary discoverer of the Coelbren. Here is my amplification of the tale:EINIGAN GAWR To meet with their instructors of the soul, The pious pack together in their choir and worshipped an idol.
And does the wind's swift passage have one goal?
And is one briny mass the sea entire?
And is one spark the fierce unbounded fire?
- from the Spoils of Annwn. In unwritten time, Which compressed itself in the memory, not a chronicle, When a word had life for as long as air would resound with it...

But the Hot Years came. And the sun and rain did not shine and fall as they had before, But the sun shone on and excluded all of the cooling rain, And the barley was burned in the ground and the apples on trees. The withered flow thrashed, and writhed ineffectively over scorched stones. And the deaths began. First the lambs and calves on the parched hillsides when the grass was browned, Then the old and young, when their weakened frames could not fight disease. The adherents all stood at their idol and called on his name, But Einigan Gawr dug graves for his wife and his child.

Then he found a cave and the burning sun made him seek the cool, dark interior. And within the cave were a brackish pool and a bed of moss. So the water and mosses, he mixed them together and drank, And when the sun set, he sat at the mouth of his cave and he called:
"What did we do wrong?
At the cave's mouth, Einigan Gawr saw clouds calm the sun's raw ire. For a long time, Einigan Gawr gazed skyward and did not squint. Then the cloud broke apart in three places and sunbeams streamed out.A triad of light, one left and one right and one streaking straight down.

And the air was still, But he heard a voice, and it called him: "Einigan Gawr, your wail Cut a corridor from your mouth through brain, through your heart to soul, And your body became a huge horn for that note of pure grief. Your case has been made. Your anguish is answered, so listen to me: See your vale below. All the life down there is down there to change, to be born and die, And if some die soon, and if some die late, that is as it is...

Then you must reach out in the boiling broth and collect yourself. You must find the "I". Then your thoughts and words and your deeds will flow from one source, which is solid and sturdy, to stand the fierce tides. Integrity then, I name as the second support for your leap. But of course your life will be brushed by storms and by eddied force that you can't control, and from time to time you'll be prised away from the cauldron's rim. When you know this, at once you must turn and kick out for the brim; You must persevere, till courage and honour shall strengthen your grip.
There are three supports: They are Perseverance, Integrity and Courageousness.
They are all required for your salmon-leap from the cauldron broth.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Imbolc Seed thought - Quality over Quantity

Do what you can with what you have...

The recent deaths of many iconic people; Motorhead's Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Alan Rickman has brought focus, for me, not on their deaths but how they lived their lives. This quote from Glenn Frey's obituary could (I think) be applied to any of them they all had "a work ethic that wouldn’t quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven."

All of them were true stars in a world of celebrity. Bowie, as ever ahead of the game, seemed to recognise this in the way he retreated from public life as celebrity culture rose to prominence. He learnt to toy with the digital age by recording 'The Next Day' in complete secret at a time when Tarantino's script was released into the social media 'digiverse'. He then goes onto completely stage manage his own death as art and neatly side-steps the mawkishness of a funeral turned into a digital-media feeding frenzy by having a quick, unattended cremation without friends and family in attendance. His last image then become his climbing, miming reverse into the cupboard at the end of Lazarus. A perfectly scripted, from this pagan's perspective, passing with a respectful control over his death in comparison to Outside's dystopian view of 'death as art'#. His is a positive message about managing to die with dignity.

Similarly Lemmy never compromised, unless you count moving to vodka & orange from JD & Coke, and was the ultimate rock & roll star to the end. Although his funeral had the full digital coverage it avoided the fake sentimentality by sticking to it's core rock'n'roll, coke'n'hookers, live fast and fuck the consequences ethos.

They all lived quality lives & rather than fading through dementia into nursing home twilight were still doing what they loved until the end. So if there's a particular seed thought for this Imbolc it's around Quality over Quantity; living a life that is driven creatively and allows you to honour your principles yet generously gives back to society.

# For 'Hello Spaceboy' Bowie played just after Oasis, Oasis had recently been slagging Bowie off as past it and not rock'n'roll; with that performance he slayed them, particularly as their performance was lacklustre

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Imbolc Waka

Oestre rises earlier,
Noticeably higher,
Songbirds trill a merrier
Tune. Lighter heels, brighter
Hills. All aspects jauntier.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Laughing Gnome and me

Due to my older sisters I became a fan of David Bowie very young. I remember being wowed by seeing & hearing Space Oddity on Top of the Pops, it must have been the 1975 re-release I guess as I would have been far too young at the age of just over 3 for the original release. Before then, as a child I mostly remember hearing the Laughing Gnome which I loved for it's humour. This is the sort of Gnome that I think of in the lyrics...

From here
Which led me to the Gillie Dubh of Scotland and the Hyter/Hikey Sprites of Norfolk

So from that early beginning David Bowie has produced the soundtrack of my life, and in my opinion, heavily influenced our modern western liberal society. The first time I heard gay people being mentioned was in the lyrics of 'Five Years' on Ziggy Stardust, he made it acceptable to be weird, queer and geeky to a whole generation growing up in the 1970's. I missed out on seeing him during the Serious Moonlight tour because, as I was 15 and work was hard to find in my village at 15, I couldn't afford the ticket. That summer was spent sailing and listening to "Let's Dance" in my future brother in law's car. At college a few years later I lost my virginity to the sounds of 'Stay' from Station to Station. The album 'Low' was the soundscape for failed relationships, angst and depression. When I finally managed to see the maestro in Cardiff on the 'Glass Spider Tour' it was brilliant - it may not have been his best or the critics favourite but it was so special to me. Then my rave years of madness where 'Outside' re-ignited my love and belief in him as a musician. From then 'Heathen' seemed to reflect my move into paganism with those themes echoed in the 'Next Day' and now 'Blackstar' prepares me to move into the latter period of my life; the sage years.

Within meditation my own little laughing gnome, a Pine Marten called 'Fougou', has appeared. He reminds me that life doesn't have to be all serious and grim and is better dealt with lightly with a laugh.

Farewell David Jones, Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, David Bowie and Thank You

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Xmas Eve

Our Glory Father glows
As the sun, invictus, grows
All Mother prepares her Runes
And galdr sings her tunes
For Mother's Night feast follows

Monday, 21 December 2015

Yule seed thought : Wuldor

Wuldor has been nagging at my subconscious for a few years now. At this time of year when I see the Turneresque-light that word comes forward into my minds-eye like an overlayed image.

A voice booms deep into my subconscious with the name. The light is so different at Yule with the sun low in the sky it is just glorious to see the gold against the deep purple and dark greys of the winter landscape.

What or who is Wuldor? The dictionary says it means "Glory or Splendour" which fits with the light at this time. Modern historians make the Anglo-Saxon Wuldor cognate with the Norse Ullr. Ullr is the god of hunting & skiing and his sacred tree was the Yew as it is used in making bows. In Griminsmal Ullr's home is named a Ydalir, yew-dale. The age of references to Ullr suggest that he was a significant older god perhaps, like Tiw, somewhat overtaken in the later mythology. One of the earliest runic writings is dedicated to Wuldor/Ullr. There is also reference to Ullr taking over the leadership from Odin when Odin was exiled. However, within the Anglo-Saxon world there is little or no mention of Wuldor but wuldor is used extensively within Christian Anglo-Saxon texts as alternate names for God such as wuldor-cyning "king of glory" and wuldor-dreám, es; m. Joy in the glory of heaven, celestial joy. Wuldor, Ullr is also well known for his alters being filled with oath-rings.

So what can a modern Gewessi learn from this? Wuldor seems to have been an important concept to the Anglo-Saxons, this suggests that he may well have been a god. Within England there is continuity around the Yew having been important, some of the older churches, likely to have been built on previously pagan sacred ground, have Yews that are older than the church. Wuldor, assuming he was similar to Ullr was also likely to have been a winter god and god of the hunt or feast. The modern Ullr is the Nordic patron of skiing but this seems to fit less well with Wuldor as England is not known for its long skiing season. Which brings us to Father Christmas in England.

Father Christmas, before he became synonymous with Santa Claus (the Americanized Sinterklaas), was the English bringer of feasts; the twelve days of Christmas being a time of feasting. Whereas the modern Santa Claus is all about gifts for the children, I hear many say "Oh Christmas is for the children" as if it's unimportant for adults, this Father Christmas is all about the community feast which is a much more important affair. This fits with Wuldor as huntsman, master of the feast and god of oaths. At the sacred-feast, or blót, there was the tradition of exchanging gifts to bond friendship and it included sacred oath taking. During the Christmas period in the later Medieval period and into Tudor times there is a long tradition of the Lord of Misrule or Master of Merrymaking taking over from the village Lord for the Xmas period. This is reminiscent of Ullr taking Odin's throne as described in Saxo Grammaticus' "Gesta Danorum".

My personal gnosis would put the Wuldor-faeder as Father Christmas, the god who takes over from Woden for the 12 days of Yule: from the 21st December until the 1st January. He is the huntsman who brings the feast with him, who is the god of gift giving. His Rune would be Gebo which is the X in Xmas and he oversees the oaths given on New Years Eve.

Finally, I have been mulling this over for the past few days but it was in the forefront of my mind as I rode for my Yule ritual to greet the dawn.

I was cycling in good weather and as Sunna crested the hills to the South-East I rode looking at a rainbow to the North-East; suggesting that Heimdall had opened the gate to Asgard. A romantic would think it was a sign that my personal gnosis was being affirmed by the Gods, Wuldor is Father Christmas, the Yew-king. When I got home the heavens opened; I had seen the best of the day.