Racing Night, sun is setting,
Homeward bound. Autumnal leaves
Fleckle my tracks with gold
Dying day, year. I'm old
Pushing on to get things done.
A gewessi waka or ge-waka poem. 33 syllables, 5 lines.
"In Japan ritual is there to maintain good relations between humans and Kami" or Nature spirits.
Which is the first time I have truly felt that ritual is important. Due to the major religions using ritual for social control I have felt uncomfortable with ritual. This statement about Shinto resonates with me as a Druid.
Within my Druidic journeying I have come to feel the British nature spirits; Pwcca, Brownies, Elves or Alfar. Now I can see ritual as a way of honouring them.
It has been a strange few months, 2016 was a draining year. In the utgard, outer, world it was a mad, bad year draining and grief stricken. In the inner world of my wife and I it was a good year...work demons were slain, a canine family member arrived and our son stepped out into the world.
As I write this a tone poem is singing "All will be well" a note of positivity.
Working in London the lone wolf attack on Parliament has happened, a terror attack little like the worst days of the IRA. As I'm now officially an old fart I was explaining to my young colleagues about the 'troubles' and the bombs in Brighton, my home town, London, Birmingham etc.... Also that the predecessors of those poor Police and Firemen killed in 9/11 had helped fund the IRA. There's an irony or karma in that, also something that these current poor deluded fanatics don't get. In Britain we coped with terrorists through the 70's and 80's and the terrorists eventually gave up and looked for more peaceful, political ways.
After the stress and changes of 2016 I have had time to recoup & recover. Now it is time to #Resist those who would destroy the democratic liberal culture that the majority in the western world believe in, enjoy and support.
Now Mr Magpie's fame spread over the world. He didn’t do the things that Magpie's normally do - he followed the way of the nine. In a great Parliament of Magpies held on one sunny Yule day he was declared Leader of the Magpies. However sometimes people still looked at him as just an ordinary magpie, not the great magpie he was, and would call him names or sometimes even throw sticks at him.On those days he would hop to his branch overlooking the sunset and his tail would droop, whilst his eye would not be as bright as before. He would sigh and say
Sometimes Logi would hear him and from his house up in the clouds he would smile a little smile to himself and say
"It's not supposed to be easy Mr Magpie. If you became golden you would have to leave your life - then what would happen to your kids and wife?"
Mr Magpie would hear his words on the wind and sigh an acknowledgement "I think you may be right."
Finally one day Mr Magpie felt the cold of winter come over him. He thought about his life and all that he'd done and he became rather angry that Ostara and her clan had not kept their promise. For sometimes people still looked at him as just an ordinary magpie, not the great magpie he was, and would call him names or sometimes even throw sticks at him. The weather was dark, stormy and sharp stones of ice were hitting his old body. His tail started to droop for the last time and the light in his eye was fading away. As he lay down dying he said
"Have I not done enough to change?"
Logi heard him and from his mountain home sent his spear of magic lightning crashing down. It pierced the Magpie leaving a pile of cinders. Much like scraped charcoal from burnt toast. Mr Magpie was dead!
Logi came to the heap of ashes and stirred them, finding an egg. The egg had a crack in it. Through the crack came a beak. Then a piece of eggshell fell. In no time at all Logi was holding a tiny red and gold bird in his hand. The gold was where the white on a magpie is and the red shimmered blue, green and purple just like the black on a magpie does. In no time at all the bird in his hand had grown as big as an eagle and yet, curiously, it still had a magpie shape.
Logi whispered to it
"See I've kept our oath, from now on you shall be known as the Northern Phoenix and you will be a symbol of hope. When the people see your colours in the golden dawn and the bright sunset they shall think of you and everyone will love you." He then raised his hand and cast the new Phoenix skywards, shouting this magic poem to fulfil his clan's oath…
A long, long time ago the people and animals hadn't talked for so long that they had forgotten that they used to speak to each other. Sometimes they could still be friends and talked in sign language. In Poitou, in Southern France, you will see heather and laurel tied to the top of the people's houses or a high tree as a sign to say they are friends of the Magpies.
It all started in Chauvigny where there was a little boy who was friends with Mr Magpie. Every morning as he headed towards the fields he would give Mr Magpie the nod and throw him a piece of his breakfast.
For this Mr Magpie would follow the little boy and keep an eye on him as he tended the herds of sheep in the fields. The little boy used to get bored watching the sheep and would think up tricks and games to keep himself amused. So one day the little boy saw a Knight riding up on his strong white horse and in his hand was a long straight spear. The little boy thought he would play a trick and ran back to the village crying
All the people in the village ran to get their weapons to chase off the wolf. Now Mr Magpie knew the little boy was being naughty, even though he was his friend, and he quickly gathered a twig of Ash tree, flew to the top of the highest tree and dropped the twig in front of the villagers whilst scolding the little boy.
The villagers ignored the Magpie and followed the little boy to find the wolf. They were very angry when they realised the boy had tricked them. Then the villagers realised that Mr Magpie had been telling the boy off, and they remembered the Magpie had dropped a twig. They said
"Aha Mr Magpie knew the little boy was lying and dropped the twig of Ash to let us know that a Knight was coming. Everyone knows that a Knight's spear is made from Ash because it grows so straight."
A little later the boy was bored again, the sheep were grazing quietly, when he saw a Druid coming down the road to the village. He ran back to the village as fast as his legs would carry him…
"Wolf, wolf, WOLF!!!!"
The Magpie had already picked a twig of Yew tree - as everyone knows that Yews are sacred to Druids. He flew to the top of the nearest house, scolded the boy and dropped the twig in front of the little boy's parents. The villagers were all running from the village until they saw the Druid!
His parents were very cross and said
"You naughty little boy telling us the Druid was a wolf! It was lucky the Magpie warned us that it was the Druid that was coming."
After that the little boy didn't like Mr Magpie and threw stones at him whilst calling him names. However Mr Magpie continued to keep an eye on the little boy because he was a loyal friend. A few days later a pack of wolves started attacking the sheep. The little boy ran back to the village shouting
"Wolf, WOLF, WOLF!!"
but the villagers ignored him expecting just another visitor. Mr Magpie had quickly picked some Whitethorn and flew with the little boy to the villagers dropping the twig at their feet and chattering loudly at them. The villagers seeing the Whitethorn and hearing his 'Caw, caw, caw' said
"Oh he's brought Whitethorn which means bad luck, the boy must be telling the truth! Quick there must be wolves in the field."
They ran off to chase the wolves away. The boy was busy crying
"Why did no-one believe me?"
An old man in the village heard him, picked up the boy and said "Because you cried 'Wolf' when there was no wolf. The Magpie knew you were lying and told the truth because it was the right thing to do. Even though you stopped being his friend, he remained loyal to you and helped you in the end."
The little boy asked how he could honour his friend, Mr Magpie. The Magpie brought him some Heather and Laurel. Heather to heal him when he's feeling sad and Laurel to stop lightning hitting him (for it was said that he would be killed by a bolt of lightning). So the little boy tied it to the top of his house and told the rest of the villagers that if they wanted a Magpie to warn them of visitors or wolves they should tie a bundle to their house or tree.