Sunday, 29 March 2009

Fish Tea

I have just been watching a fantastic programme on the BBC iPlayer, all about the
Japanese obsession with fish. One segment of it got me thinking on a familiar tangent again; the chap doing a tour of Japan's fishy culture stopped at a fugu trader's where he saw the highly poisonous puffer fish caught and prepared for the plate. The preparation of the fugu meal was a highly ritualised and theatrical event much like the incredibly disciplined chanoyu (tea ceremony) that is more familiar. It isn't the content of these ceremonies that got me thinking, more the acts in and of themselves; the formal and ritualised actions for a specific purpose – making something that could be rather mundane into a very ritualised process.

There is something about this that appeals to me. The carrying out of an act or series of acts in a very strict manner for no other apparent reason than to do so in a manner that shows honour, respect and significance to the person receiving.

Perhaps it is something hanging on from my Roman-Catholic upbringing (I used to be an altar boy) which leads me to want to participate in these formulaic and ceremonial actions as a compliment of the more relaxed and simple and personal practices I carry out.

I think that perhaps the matter deserves more thought; who should such a practice by directed at and what should its constituents be? I imagine that something disciplined and ceremonial carried regularly will become second nature allowing the mind to wander as the body does what it needs; perhaps it can become a very meditative process.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Cunobelinus-Boar(!) coin from the Trinovantes. image from Kernunnos

It is funny how small things cause all manner of repercussions, like some strange spiritual version of Kerplunk. Many of the gods of what we would call the ancient Britons don't have anything about them with which I can make a connection. There is no way for me to get a grip on them as it were and start something meaningful. An example of how this can work is Belenus; almost a year ago I went to Bath and did the tour or the baths. One of the displays there was the enigmatic pediment face – often described as the gorgon – which was my access point for Belenus. Since then things have been ticking about in the background with myself making small steps towards fulfilling my oath to him. I aim to complete it on the 1st of June and that will then be the day I venerate him as a specific and personal day of celebration, 3 weeks before the summer solstice. Perhaps I will turn it into a 2 week period of observance and ritual, I will give the matter thought and see what happens. Certainly the first time I tried this extended 'season' of celebration it worked out well.

So my connection with Belenus was made. Another one of the gods of whom I have always had an awareness was Lug/Lugus/Lugh/Lleu but never really felt any connection with even in the guise of the Welsh pseudo god-hero-warrior. He was clearly a significant and important deity in the Celtic world (apologies for the C word) and so I had always felt a slight annoyance that I wasnt even remotely 'twitchy' about some sort of connection.

Anyway, back to the Kerplunk! thing; a few days ago the ever wonderful-at-things-like-this Bo came out with something that was the final straw which got the marbles kerplunking. 

"You know the name 'Llywelyn'?

It probably goes back to Brythonic *
Lugu-belinus, 'Lugus who is Belinus, Belinus-Lugus'.

They might well have been different names for the same deity, as might *
Uindos, all meaning 'shining one, bright one, white one'. (I bring *Uindosinto it because there's some evidence from the Irish side of things that Fionn (from *Uindos) is a kind of humanised version of Lugh.)

PS Incidentally, the name 'Llywarch' is < *
Lugumarkos, 'Lugus' stallion'. Which is nice."

So, for all intents and purposes, Belenus is one and the same with Lugus, an epithet of his if you will. This works for me, it is my access point to another god via a title I have already been developing a connection. Very exciting and very interesting.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Some Thoughts on 'Living With Honour'

I finished the book about a week ago now I think. There were a few things about it that annoyed me royally and these were always there in the background nagging and bitching about it as a continued, this marred the experience somewhat and made me quite antagonistic about what I was reading. I think one of the key things was her use of *Pagan and *Paganism to denote her very specific brand of pagan and paganism unique to her and probably very few others. She mentions this in one line at the beginning of the book and by a few pages later you find yourself slipping out of the habit of subconsciously noting it’s specific meaning with every use and getting annoyed that she seems to speaking for all pagans or what they should and shouldn’t be doing and/or believing. Yes this is down to me as the reader, but I do think it a very clumsy way of addressing the issue on her part. I don’t know if this is something others felt was a problem.

This raises another issue; this isn’t a book of pagan ethics (as it says on the cover), it is a book of one pagan’s ethics based upon her own very restrictive ideals (the review by the Druid network is rather lengthy and praising, as this ERO’s own organisation, I do wonder who wrote it).

There was much of it I heartily agreed with, and much I didn’t. I found her discussion on the subjects pertaining to nonhuman animals to have an awful lot of out of date information and to be emotionally loaded in much the same way you find PETA campaigns. This led me on to wonder why it is she advocates proper treatment of nonhuman animals on an ethical basis because they are ‘equal’ to us and ‘as deserving of proper treatment’ as us, when she quite possibly eats vegetables or uses antibiotics. Her logic sets itself up to advocate presumably a vegan lifestyle but seems to draw the same kind imaginary line slightly further down the tree of life as non-vegans have when it comes to eating some other animals.

Her apparent rejection of modern medicine is quite concerning, especially when she talks of using herbs instead who sing their own soul song. Again, I wonder if she advocates the use of antibiotics or would prefer to suffer pneumonia etc.

Anyway, in all this is the kind of book the pagan community needs, not as a source for their own ethics and which to model them on, but to give them the kinds of subjects and questions they need to ask themselves. It is the kind of thing we need to grow up as a community in the UK, if nothing else this is a string point.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

More on Reburial

Quelle suprise! I am banging on about the reburail issue again. Apologies but it is something that has fired me up and as such something I will go on about at length. To save on long posts on this blog I have gone and wasted a good ten minutes of time in work by setting up a webpage on which I can rant and rave and put lots of long and rambling posts.

So without further ado, the first essay; "An Alternative Theology of Reburial".