A still, black hole stared at my face.
Suddenly reason lost all trace.
I stared down, deep into space.
Staring, feeling was lost in pace
and my heart it started to race.
"This is the Mere" Hern murmured
"makes you feel queer?" he continued
"never mind it, here is my space
you continue here by my grace -
not only you but your whole race."
I turned and ran from the glade,
digging I did and hiding too,
but in my head a constant thread
pulled me on to constantly run
to that black pool, so dark, so dread.
Woken up to stare into the sphere,
once again by Mere I was here,
stood blank-staring no ripple shown,
reeds etched up, rushes bow down,
reflecting a dank, brooding sky.
As I stood, blank-staring eventually un-caring
of what grim fear (a head may rear) would scarily appear.
I looked in the obsidian mere, saw as She wove budding blooms;
A skull and flowers, a swan, the lovers, the pelican plucking power
and reason strode my face and my heart did hope to boom.
Friday, 13 November 2015
A still, black hole stared at my face.
Friday, 6 November 2015
Being both dead and alive
I spent the evening of Samhuin listening to John Rutter's Requiem, performed by my wife's choir. Rutter is a modern composer but uses his medieval influences to create works that are both modern and old at the same time, much like Druidry. Which is interesting as Rutter has written much Christian religious music but is not, as such, a practising Christian he is agnostic, tending towards atheism when he describes life as a numbers game. As it was Samhuin I meditated, listening to the music, looking at the translated latin Christian lyrics. The theme that the meditation brought was that Samhuin is not only that key boundary between life and death but is also a time when life and death merge...a picture on our wall
We are both dying and living at the same time and this is the river of the here and now, where the Awen flows. The cells in our body are constantly dying, creating and living. Cancer is when the cells don't die when they remain alive. Modern western liberal society is a cult of youth that fears death. Contrast that with the Gewessi path where the Anglo-Saxon quote "wyrd bið ful aræd" is very meaningful; my translation is that "Destiny is very determined" can be viewed against the traditional translation that "Fate remains wholly inexorable". My translation is from my modern pagan understanding of the Germanic worldview that Orlog, how a person behaves when facing their wyrd/destiny/doom/fate, has an affect on the web of wyrd afterwards. Whilst the traditional view comes from the classical christian scholarly interpretation that the quote supports a fatalistic worldview. Our Anglo-Saxon forefathers knew full well that death could occur at any time and so their awareness of the balance between life and death was much closer; they lived in a much more uncertain world.
Samhuin is the time to be alive in the balance between life and death.
Jenn, mentioned in my Guldize seed thought, crossed the veil 2 weeks ago
I was re-reading this and looking at the beginning of the story poem before the young Druid Nede sets forth on the journey which ends up with the Colloquy...
I. Adnae, son of Uthider, of the tribes of Connaught, was the ollave of Ireland in
science and poetry. He had a son, to wit, Néde. Now that son went to learn science in
Scotland, unto Eochu Echbél (Horses Mouth) ; and he stayed along with Eochu until
he was skilled in science.
II. One day the lad fared forth till he was on the brink of the sea - for the poets deemed that on the brink of water it was always a place of revelation of science. He heard a sound in the wave, to wit, a chant of wailing and sadness, and it seemed strange to him. So the lad cast a spell upon the wave, that it might reveal to him what the matter was. And thereafter it was declared to him that the wave was bewailing, his father Adnae, after his death and that Adnae's robe had been given to Ferchertne the poet, who had taken the ollaveship in place of Néde's father.
III. Then the lad went to his house and tells (all this) to his tutor, that is, to Eochu. And Eochu said to him :" Get thee to thy country now. Our two sciences have no room in one place ; for thy science shews clearly to thee that thou art an ollave in knowledge ".
IV. So Néde fared forward, and with him his three brothers, namely, Lugaid, Cairbre, Cruttíne. A bolg bélce (puffball) chanced (to meet) them on the path. Said one of them : " Why is it called bolg bélce ? " Since they know not, they went back to Eochu and remained a month with him. Again they fared on the path. A simind (rush) chanced to meet them. Since they knew not (why it was so called), they went back to their tutor. At the end of another month they set out (again) from him. A gass sanais (sprig of sanicle ?#) chanced (to meet) them. Since they knew not why it was called gass sanais, they return to Eochu and remained another month with him.
What is the meaning of the 3 flora?
The Common Puffball is an edible mushroom and also used in an Old Irish love remedy. bolg bélce - Bolg meaning belly/bag/sack and this comes from Cormac's glossary Bolg i [bélce B] i.e. bél-cheo ' mouth- vapour' i.e. a vapour which passes from its mouths I think the English would be belch. Also compare wit the Fir Bolg "Men of Bags". So bolg is a bag and bolg bélchi maybe the fungus puffball now in Munster commonly called bolgán beice. — Cf. bélchi with A.S. bealcan ' eructare.'
Reed or Juncus species
There are many British varieties of Juncus or reed and all grow at the liminal area of marshland or boggy moorland. In Old Irish "Simind" or "semind", the two spellings used, is a common word, though less specific: a (stalk of) rush or reed; a stalk or straw of grain. Modern "sifín" continues the same generalized meaning. Both words, as noted earlier, have etymologies in Sanas Cormaic, the Irish "dictionary" thats dates from ca. 900 A.D. The reed, or Ngetal, in my Ogham notes has this "Reed resembles an arrow by its thinness. It was at one time used to make arrows." You can also compare this with Norse kennings where it's used to describe arrows and spears e.g. wound-reed)
Wood Sanicle or Sanicula Europaeafrom here
Stokes guessed that "gass sanais" might mean "a sprig of sanicle". I suppose he made this guess based on the fact that "sanicula", the Medieval Latin name of a plant called "bodán coille" in
Modern Irish, apparently comes from Latin "sanus" (= healthy).
DIL says of "sanais(e)" only: "In phrase gas(án) sanais(e) some plant from which armed warriors could be formed by magic."
LEIA notes the same magical property, but doesn't attempt to identify the plant, and says "étymologie inconnue".
The marginal gloss on "gass sanais" in our MS is ".i. a shíanas", which is a puzzle at first sight. But if we divide it further into "a shían as" it can mean "its/his 'sían' from it". Now "sían" in DIL means a "continuous or prolonged sound", and more specifically a "humming, lilting; strain of music or song". In Modern Irish it can further mean "hum of voices; talk, report".
Explaining "gass sanais" using "sían" makes perfect sense if the glossator thought the plant name contained the word meaning "whisper; counsel". And what could be more appropriate, in the spirit of serious punning, than that the third and final plant which turns the brothers back because they cannot etymologize its name is precisely the plant whose name could mean "a sprig of whispered counsel, a shoot of etymological explanation"?
Wood sanicle used to be widely used as a herbal remedy and has a long-standing reputation for healing wounds and treating internal bleeding. The herb is traditionally thought to be detoxifying and has also been taken internally to treat skin problems. A potentially valuable plant, but it is little used in modern herbalism. The leaves and the root are alterative, astringent, carminative, expectorant and vulnerary. The leaves are harvested in early summer and the roots in mid to late summer, they can be dried for later use. The herb is highly esteemed in the treatment of blood disorders, where it is usually given in combination with other herbs. It is also taken internally in the treatment of bleeding in the stomach and intestines, the coughing up of blood, nosebleeds, chest and lung complaints, dysentery, diarrhoea etc. It can also be used as a mouth gargle for sore throats. Externally, it is applied to rashes, chilblains, inflammations etc... and an ointment made from the plant is applied to haemorrhoids. From this herblore site
Alternate views of the kenning
I think we could view the three pieces of Flora this way - we have a bag that belches fumes poisoning the walkers, a spear that pierces the walkers who need to be healed by a lilting song. Which reiterates the opening of the story where Néde hears a lilting song on the ocean that tells him of his father's death. Néde's grief at the death of his father is not mentioned in the tale and yet his three attempts to return home are stopped by nature, forcing him to spend three months mourning and completing his studies with his father in knowledge. Another view is to look at the Ogham for B, Ng and S which my notes have as:
- B - You must rid yourself of negativity, unhelpful influences and bad thoughts for a new, fresh start
- Ng - Your journey has begun, surprise encounters and upsets are only to be expected. The skills you overcome these troubles with are as valuable as the trip itself
- S - To gain understanding of a particular concept, a steady accumulation of facts is the foundation that brings understanding. All cannot be learned in one lesson. Repetition is the key.
Much of the Old Irish info' is from here or other of Dennis' postings from the Old Irish forum
Friday, 16 October 2015
These notes seem to dovetail in with the Knucker and the Knucker holes mentioned in the previous post...
Pools are the wells of the sacred mother, her amniotic fluid allowing for re-birth from the womb of the well. Rebirth is the unlocking of a great door with a chance for great potential. Baptism or anointment allows this using the waters from the womb of the sacred mother – see the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. It's a surrendering to a higher power or force, an acknowledgement of your frailty and humility.
Scrying in a pool allows visions to be seen, essential to know thyself, as does using an obsidian mirror. Re-birth is un-locking of the sacred door allowing enormous potential in the results (particularly if you believe in transmigration of souls aka reincarnation). To those who see water as a tool in the rituals that form the process of enlightenment pools have a spiritual importance as the womb of the sacred mother.
The discovery of the self without any further ritual work is pointless (see Abrasax in my previous post), it is the starting point for the journey and the ritual work is the journey. Recognise the potential of ritual self-awareness that is essential to cleansing before starting any sacred journey or spiritual quest. It is not a coincidence that Percival/Galahad in the Grail quest legends loses everything and recognises his own frailty and misgivings. Recognises his self-destructive patterns and conquers them to achieve the grail or the Abraxas state of mind.
Any spiritual exercise must be interactive, with the watery pool you must not just be a passive observer. The individual must allow themselves to be cleansed or work with the power of the waters. Water is a medium both known and an alien world where we can go but not survive. Ritual offerings to pools and their genius locii to ensure a continuation of their beneficial flow is ancient and continues to this day. An offering should not just be a token but something with meaning and value. Excalibur shows this, it's both given and taken back as an offering by the priestess, the lady, of the lake. This re-purifies, re-births the sword ready for re-use.
The dragon is seen as part of the Goddess, her pools allowing it entry and exit to the world. The coolness of her waters balances the fiery energy of the God. Nechtans key is an area of tranquility and of self-realisation, a place of interaction between ourselves and the great forces that power the world. An area where the divine can be felt.
Friday, 2 October 2015
It's funny how a single post on the OBOD forum can start off an interesting & recursive investigation with a sprinkling of Awen and a dash of Alchemical salt. The start was with a post on Water Dragons, which referred to the Lambton Worm and Knuckers. Sussex being a famous place for Knuckers, and from an alchemical point of view, the more important Knucker Hole. The recursive element comes from a story about my childhood - I grew up in a semi-detached house where our neighbour was a single man in his 30's. Throughout the 70's he would have parties, quite loud parties but us kids could only really hear the bass beat coming through the walls. There was one bass beat in particular we loved but we never knew what the song was, or the album. Before the 80's he'd moved house so we never had a chance to ask what that music was. In the 80's we hit our teens and our own musical exploration began, then my sister's boyfriend brought an album round - Santana Abraxas - we heard it and instantly knew that we'd discovered that musical grail from our childhood.
The Water Dragon card from the Druid Animal Oracle
mentions a myth where there is a little ditty about the Lambton Worm
which I noticed has some similarities to the story where Thor goes fishing with the Jotun, Hymir
for Jormungand who is one of Loki's children by Angrbodra and is the World Serpent or Ouroboros; the snake eating it's own tail which, some, philosophically relate to Self-reference.
Self-reference or recursion is an essential mathematical understanding for computing and being able to code a successfully recursive routine was part of my early computer coding training. So I am well versed in the mathematics of recursion if not the philosophy of recursion. Although I think my journey through the Ovate work has been pretty recursive.
Jung related Ouroboros, self-reference, to having archetypal significance as part of the universal unconscious - this fits into the story cycle of the Knucker hole which is a really deep watery hole; one where you can't find the bottom and thus travels into the underworld or the deep unconscious mind. Sussex ponds, like the Lyminster Knucker Hole, were/are muddy ponds famous for their muddy deeps and ability to swallow a horse & carriage whole, thus they were feared as a place to get lost in. BTW the mud really stinks I remember my mother being less than pleased after I fell into our local one as a lad.
"In alchemical symbolism dragons are associated with fire and the primal chaotic material. " The Massa Confusa "Mythologically, the night sea journey motif usually involves being swallowed by a dragon or sea monster. It is also represented by imprisonment or crucifixion, dismemberment or abduction, experiences traditionally weathered by sun-gods and heroes ". The night sea journey, described in Jungian thought, is where the hero traverses a difficult and dangerous journey in order to overcome an obstacle and be transformed and strengthened for any trials ahead. This can also be related to a water underworld journey through the Knucker Hole, similar to Beowulf's journey to fight Grendel's mother.
The night sea journey is essential to the Western Mystical tradition and Individuation, in my personal gnosis. Individuation is what made the western mystical path feel like the correct path for me, it's not something that seems to be part of the Eastern Mystical tradition. Individuation is:
- The act or process of individuating, especially the process by which social individuals become differentiated one from the other
- The condition of being individuated; individuality
- Philosophy a. The development of the individual from the general or universal. b. The distinction or determination of the individual within the general or universal
- In Jungian psychology, the gradual integration and unification of the self through the resolution of successive layers of psychological conflict
Something else in the investigation of the Knucker also resonated - that in Alchemical thought it can be related to the primal chaos or Massa Confusa. So I wanted to investigate what other creatures are associated with Alchemy and found this list, which relates back to my older post on Alchemy here...
- Blackening - Black Crow, Raven, Salamander, Massa Confusa (or Ouroboros)
- Whitening - White Swan, White Eagle, skeleton
- Greening - Green Lion, Green Dragon
- Rapid cycling through iridescent colours - Peacock's Tail
- White Stone - White stag, Unicorn
- Reddening - Pelican feeding young with its own blood, cockerel
- Final transmutation - Phoenix reborn from the fire
The seven letters spelling its name may represent each of the seven classic planets or the 7 Alchemical stages. In the system described by Irenaeus (2nd Cent Bishop of Lugdunus in Gaul who was criticizing Gnosticism and it's Alchemical/Magical foundations),..
"the Unbegotten Father" is the progenitor of Nous, (intellect) and from Nous Logos (reason), from Logos Phronesis (practical thought), from Phronesis Sophia (sophistication) and Dynamis (potential), from Sophia and Dynamis principalities, powers, and angels, the last of whom create "the first heaven." They in turn originate a second series, who create a second heaven. The process continues in like manner until 365 heavens are in existence, the angels of the last or visible heaven being the authors of our world. "The ruler" [principem, i.e., probably ton archonta] of the 365 heavens "is Abraxas, and for this reason he contains within himself 365 numbers." Which takes us back to the Self-referential or recursive nature of the Ouroboros.
Allegedly Abraxas is a mis-translation in Latin of the Greek Abrasax but this led my mind-flow to think of the stages as an equation like this
Abrasax -> Nous -> Logos -> Phronesis -> Sophia -> Dynamis -> Abraxas
which is a self-referential alchemy of logical steps moving from the initial "unbegotten father" of Abrasax to the "first heaven" or paradise of Abraxas. The sum of the numbers is Abrasax is 365 Α = 1, Β = 2, Ρ = 100, Α = 1, Σ = 200, Α = 1, Ξ = 60 and is "the power above all, and First Principle,"
So there we have a flow from the Water Dragon to the Knucker to the deep dark unconscious self, via the Knucker Hole, and this led me to the Alchemical transformation which led me back to my childhood and Abraxas and the musical paradise that is Santana Abraxas. As a youth I must have read Ursule K LeGuin's 'A Wizard of Earthsea' a hundred times and every time I listened to Santana's Abraxas on repeat, the music and story would mean that hours could pass without me recognising the passing of time and barely remembering turning the LP record over. A story about a magical transformation, listening to music about an alchemical transformation whilst I myself was going through a transformation... now how recursive or self-referential is that! It also explains the mystery that my youthful mind had around the cover to Santana Abraxas, the teenager in me viscerally appreciated it, but it's meaning is now revealed; a vision of paradise.
With my earlier post on the Alchemy for personal growth there are now many symbols that can be related to the 7 alchemical steps;
- the Classical planets - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Sun
- the emotional states - Thinking, Feeling, Rationalising, Rectifying, Dreaming, Condensing, Realising
- the metals - lead, tin, iron, copper, quicksilver, silver, gold
- the animals - Knucker, White swan, Green lion, Peacock, Unicorn, Pelican, Phoenix
- the algebra - original thought, intellect, reason, practical thought, sophistication, potential, enlightenment
Thursday, 1 October 2015
Mortality is a funny thing, just as our media and the British Medical Council like to promote stories that a healthy life will stop you dying young the veneer is stripped away. In the same way that the gold days of Autumn make the land look full of summer vigour before the first storms strip the leaves from the trees. Two things have hammered this message home over the past couple of weeks.
'About Jenn' appeared on my MTB forum a couple of weeks ago. She's an MTB'er and writer for the MTB magazine I subscribe to, I don't know her but I know of her via mutual acquaintance and, when she lived in Sussex, we used to pass each other and give each other a nod on an occasional basis. Mostly when one of us was taking the long way home on our cycle commutes to/from work. She is a local legend, the woman who climbed the Clayton bridleway uphill to the Jack & Jill on a singlespeed MTB without stopping. The woman who would have broken The Great Divide record but for spending 2 days in hospital with a serious illness caught from some dodgy water.Great Divide Race. Given that this English singlespeeder who I had never heard of before last month is my new hero, I was really happy to hear she finished " From here. She was my local hero too and lived the MTB'ers dream.
'About Jenn' told how she's spent the last year diagnosed but living life normally and has now given up work to enter a hospice. She's younger & fitter than me, has had a better healthy vegetarian lifestyle than me, without smoking, and she is dying from lung cancer. It shows how random life can be and that this veneer of control that ourselves and our institutions like to promote is, to quite a large extent, an illusion. You never know when your winter storm will come.
The second thing that happened is I got ill, just a cold, but a couple of days of barely being able to breathe shows that my body is aging, autumnal as I move to being a 50 year old sage next year. Jenn's stoic strength over the past year enabled her to enjoy happy gold days before her strength was sapped by illness. It is a lesson to us all that the autumnal gold days should be seized and enjoyed with passion. Without recrimination or regret about what could or should have been,
Friday, 21 August 2015
Santoku means the three virtues in Japanese, we're not too sure which three virtues they are but it has named the Japanese knife which has three abilities; slicing, dicing and mincing.
If we relate it to the sword of the East, the claidheamh soluis or sword of light of which the original would be Nuada's sword crafted in the mythical city of Findias. It has 3 powers; the sword glowed with the light of the sun, thus blinding opponents, was irresistible in battle like a raging sea and had the power to cut his enemies in half. Here we see the triumvirate of light or air, water as the irresistible force and earth in the cleaving. We see similar epithets for Excalibur in the Arthurian cycle.
As an aside, for me, this places Findias as a city in the East, whilst Gorias (source of Lugh's lance) is in the south, the Dagda's cauldron from Murias in the West and finally the stone of destiny from Falias in the North.
In cycling the three virtues are Mind, Body and Machine and is what inspired this post. For me, Gewessi has these 3 virtues, that are possessing an earth based philosophy (Òran Mór), a spirituality (Irmunsûl) that enhances your life and applying logic to your world view (Logos).
Three Druidic Triads
Three blessed virtues of the noble: being good in serving others, having a good temperament, and keeping secrets.
The three virtues of a Bard are to tell the truth, seek justice for the oppressed, and exercise reason in difficult situations.
The Awen symbolizes in man the three virtues: courage, brotherhood, and selfless service.
The three virtues of - Li: Propriety, Chih - Wisdom, Jen - human heartedness
The first character, li, occupies an august, noble position in East Asian thought. Something can be discovered about the fundamental meaning of the character by examining its component parts. If one passes a vertical line through the middle of the character, two distinct segments, shih1 and li, appear. The left-hand side (here shih, `spirit' or`ghost') imparts meaning and is called the `signific' or `radical.' So here we have a word pronounced li having something to do with spirits - in this case, sacrifices to spirits or the ceremonies and proper rules associated with those sacrifices.
The second character of the three virtues, chih (wisdom), is as difficult of interpretation as it is of practice. In contemporary usage it means `wisdom,' `intelligence.' The compound chih-hui, means I.Q. and chih-li means `intellectual power.' The phonetic portion of chih is chih. In ancient times the two characters were used interchangeably to mean `wisdom' or `knowledge.' There is, however, once again an inherent ethical force in the classical usage.
The third virtue, jen, has nearly as rich a philosophical interpretation as li. Ideographically, the left hand signific represents a man; the right is the character erh meaning `two.' It is not a phonetic. It represents man and his moral relation to others. The great nineteenth century Scottish sinologue James Legge always rendered jen as `benevolence.' In contemporary Chinese the compound ren-ai is very common and is most usually rendered as `love' (Greek agape). Many contemporary scholars use the word `human-heartedness' as an equivalent. Compassion, goodwill, humanity, kindness, mercy are all close.
From this website about the game Go
Monday, 3 August 2015
As if to emphasise the changing of the season, the drift from summer to autumn the late setting sun lit this preview of the gold days to come. Highlighting the leaves of the marvellous variegated Sycamore that grows on the green outside. This year the blue moon falls on the night of the 31st and with it the rise of Loki's star... the dog star or Sirius. The Dog Days of summer are upon us. Here's an old seed thought riddle meditation of mine that suits this time of year:Who are you Loki? Key, Chi, K(enaz)
Why choose me for you? You, Yew, Eh(waz)...
How am I to know and to hear? Ear, eyre, Je(ra)...
What is Loki's will to be done? One, ohn, Wun(jo)...
Where on earth should I be going? Ing, Ng, Ing(uz)...
When does the journey start, tomorrow? Row, Rho, Rai(dho)...
This web site on the Chi Rho maybe of interest. I found this to be very interesting "the early signs of the labarum cross at an angle that is more vividly respresentative of the chi formed by the solar ecliptic path and the celestial equator. This image is most familiar in Plato's Timaeus, where it is explained that the two bands which form the world soul (anima mundi) cross each other like the letter chi. Not only did the two legs of the chi remind early Christians of the Cross, "it reminded them of the mystery of the pre-existent Christ, the Logos Theou, the Word of God, who extended himself through all things in order to establish peace and harmony in the universe," in Robert Grigg's words.... The chi rho was used in hermetic alchemical texts to denote time."
Friday, 3 July 2015
If there's one thing I have learned during the Ovate work of the OBOD Gwersi it is best summed up by this quote about ritual
"you enter Druidry for yourself, not to be part of a club. Clubs have rules and procedures. Druidry does not. The Gwers are there to help you express Your Druidry. Not mine or anyone else's. If your idea of ritual is sitting at home or under a tree mulling over the words and intent of a ritual, then so be it. That's fine. Just make the ritual your own. And yes (horror of horrors!), if you don't like ritual, don't do it! There is nothing in Druidry that says you have to. Just accept that some people find it deeply meaningful and helpful."
But above all, at all times, be your own Druid.
Which links into this quote from Monty Python's Life of Brian "You've got to work it out for yourselves..." because this is not a path where some representative of a doctrine is authorised by the powers of that doctrine to tell you how to act, interact and think. You have to take responsibility for your doctrine, your own thoughts and represent that doctrine with how you choose to live your life in your actions and interactions. You can't abdicate that responsibility, and your freedom, to another being. This is both empowering and harder at the same time. Much like life generally empowerment only comes through effort. From a Gewessi perspective I don't think that the gods want passive sheep, we honour and respect the gods. By being empowered individuals we earn their respect and honour.
Effort is uncomfortable and the greatest rewards are in hindsight, whilst at the time every atom of your being was not enjoying the moment. That your will power overcame the negative wilfulness to achieve the rewards is the key. This ties into the Willa, from my post on the Northern Soul, in the bright Willa brings power in the murk it brings weakness.