Monday, 26 January 2009

Brigantia

It's is the time of year often referred to as Imbolc. The smear of days or weeks where the weather is perceptibly changing; it is getting milder - warmer isn’t really appropriate yet, another month or two perhaps - the days are getting longer as dawn is pushed further back into the night as if some front in the battle between light and dark. The first flowers and buds are making an appearance; snowdrops, though an introduction of the early 1500's from continental Europe, have come to epitomise this time of year. They are the storm troopers of spring as it were, the crack troops to exploit the creeping warmth and light.



So what does this time of year mean to me?

To be honest, it hasn’t always meant much. In the past it is one of the pagan festivals, perhaps I would do something to mark it but often nothing at all. This year I feel the need to do something mainly because I am feeling it more, I am noticing the subtle changes more and finding myself bound into it in a much deeper way than previously.

Brighit (or one of the myriad spellings around) is the traditional goddess of this time. To me, Brigantia would be more appropriate; the Brythonic goddess who was tutelary goddess to some but to me she means very little. Perhaps that will be my offering to her this year, to learn more about her, to find out about her over the past 2000 years. There is a lot out there is the way of custom and folklore and perhaps this will hold something I can connect to and work with.

So, a sunrise ritual: milk, water, flowers, some simple words and a promise to get to know her better. She is important to people who are important to me, she is one of the gods who guards the Teguloktos and as such I feel I owe her far more than I currently give.

A passing note, something in my mind as the darkness recedes and the light pushes through: traditionally, this was a time when the horse skull was seen again. The Mari was abroad.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Will I Sleep When I am Dead?

All the fun over the humans remains at Avebury and the circus-like performance of ‘druids’ trying to reclaim them for The Earth Goddess©, has got me thinking about death. I suppose I have given the matter thought before but never really pulled the thoughts together in a cohesive mass and pondered it as a whole. So here goes;

I do believe we have a non-corporeal element to our bodies, whether this is the soul or spirit or simply an energy field of some sort. Do I believe it is capable of body-independent existence? I don’t know. Presumably if the answer is yes then it is the part of us that exists post-mortem and suffers one of a number of fates, namely; reincarnation, an afterlife or simply fading away and becoming part of a bigger whole again much in the way my corporeal body returns to the earth and the atoms that make up me re-enter the food chain again. I would certainly like to think that there is some sort of post-mortem conscious existence, an afterlife of sorts but to be truthful I don’t mind if not, I can’t say I am overly fussed about it and so will wait and see. If there is then whoopee, and if not then I will be dead and won’t be all that concerned.

So lets assume there is some sort of conscious afterlife or post-mortem existence. It could either be here on earth as some wandering ghoul or on another plane of existence (cf. Otherworld, Summerlands etc). in either case, am I attached to me remains?

I doubt it. If I were then I will be forever doomed to hang about in a graveyard as the very atoms of my body liquefy away to be eaten by fungus and annelid, my very molecules never to really stray from those few square yards of earth except perhaps with a passing robin or crow in a worm filled crop. If that were to happen – do I go with the worm and bird or stay with the coffin? Will I have a choice? Is this what happens to us if we are attached to our bones? To suffer the torment of seeing our husk torn to pieces and sent across the landscape, never sure which bit to follow, or even unable to follow at all. If we cannot follow then what happens when the last atom is gone to some mushroom picker? If we are tied to our very being like a bad dog to his kennel then death must surely be an unbearable torture of loneliness and entrapment. Maybe this is what ghosts are, souls without a body and unsure where to be, wandering and wailing as they hunt down a single atom to give them a new place of being.

Perhaps the kind thing is to let us roam free of our body now that it is food for the creepy crawlies, to leave behind that mortal coil of Shakespeare and let us skip off into the sunset.

Is anything left behind I wonder? A fingerprint of a soul? An echo of a fingerprint of a soul long gone?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Let's Rebury CoBDOn't

The issue of ancient human remains in Britain is not clear cut; it is not easy to come down on one side or the other and for those people who have a vested spiritual interest in these lands - and the people and gods who dwell here - it becomes a rather thorny issue.

So what do we do?

Well, we as a society have to decide where we are to go with this issue. It is not for small groups of self proclaimed ‘Druids’ to decide, after all, according to those very same druids the rest of us have an equal claim to the remains and their future.

The questions that have not been answered by CoBDOn’t are:

*Where are the remains to be buried?
*What manner of ritual if any will be carried out, and by whom?
*What is your plan for the future of the remains and the site on which they are buried?

Anyone feeling uneasy about letting CoBDOn’t have these ancestral remains (ancestral t most of us) and doing as they see fit, and that is the point, it is what THEY see fit. Not us, not English Heritage but CoBDOn’t themselves.

So what can we do?

Well, you can email AveRebCons@english-heritage.org.uk, with “Avebury reburial consultation” as the message title.

I urge you to do so, and in doing so mention that:

You are pagan (if you are of course, if not then no need) and that you, as a descendant of those people buried – according to CoBDOn’ts own statement of our common shared relationship to them – DON’T want them reburied by people claiming some spiritual rights.

The more support English heritage can be given on this matter then the stronger their case for denial of reburial to CoBDOn’t.

You might not be happy with the current situation regarding human remains, you might see where CoBDOn’t are coming from, BUT this is something that needs time, consultation and a proper solution. It doesn’t need any old group coming along and effectively reburying remains wherever they see fit in order to create some prehistoric graveyard/theme park where they can strut about.

**P.S you only have till the 31st of january to send comments in to English Heritage as part of the consultation**

People I Would Like to Bury pt.2

You can view the relevant documents relating to CoBDOn’t and their request to get the remains reburied.

What is particularly interesting is they CoBDOn’t did a small survey, mainly focussing on pagans and new-agers and got strong support, however when the museum at Avebury did a similar survey at the museum itself it got precisely the opposite result with very strong support in their favour of maintaining things largely as they are. Their report can be viewed
here, have a look from page 21 onwards where the survey results can be seen, the comments they reproduced from respondents are fascinating; I loved this one:

The first time I brought my son, then aged two, here he looked down at the skeleton, said, “That was a little girl wasn’t it?” and “So she really lived so long, long ago”. Nothing else had such a powerful or positive effect on him.

I think the results tie with what I said in the last post; the public are respectful, the public aren’t gurning fools and the public need this kind of display. The option of having a photograph? as powerful as a photo can be it doesn’t come close to the adrenaline or the heart pounding emotion of seeing something there, in the flesh (or bone) in front of you. A photo takes away the tangibility; it removes the object from you by degrees.

In the draft report, there are a couple of points that are worth mentioning and which I think help flush CoBDOn’t donw the toilet;

The Department for Culture, media and Sport Guidelines state;

‘If individuals can demonstrate a direct and close genealogical link to the human remains, their wishes would generally be given very strong weight. However, consideration should be given as to whether they are the only people in this category and if they are not, whether there was any risk of harm to others in this category if the request being made were granted.’

CoBDOn’t rely on research which suggest that a large proportion of western Europeans are descended from Neolithic ancestors who lived here 1000’s of years ago. They say:

Statistically, these range between 43% and 2%. Women therefore carry our ancestral line from our deep past and into the future. Oxford also state that male DNA traces back through deep time. Until this research is disproved I will assume that members of the Council, like all people indigenous to Europe, have a ‘close genetic’ claim for reburial as stated in the DCMS Guidance.

Horseshit. This also means that any of the rest of us have an equal claim to the remains as CoBDOn’t and as such can request they stay where they are and are not handed over to these ‘extremists’. In order to be effective, CoBDOn’t need to prove the direct link, a close genetic link between themselves and the remains – they need some sort of exclusivity. They do not have it. As the DCMS guidelines state, we as other descendants of Charlie’s family can also have equal claim. It is there in black and white from the government.

Also, DCMS guidelines say:

‘For a community to be recognised and their claim considered it would generally be expected that continuity of belief, customs or language could be demonstrated between the claimants and the community from which the remains originate…

Fortunately CoBDOn’t have not made any claims along these lines. Of course not, they would be bloody idiots to try it – then again, one does wonder.

I urge everyone to read the
CoBDOn’t request It is appalling, full of the kind of mindless horseshit you expect from the fluffiest and poorly educated end of the pagan market.

People I Would Like To Bury pt.1

The potential for utter fuckwittery amongst pagans should not be underestimated. This most recent cases sets my blood boiling, however, heartfelt repulsion has been handled elsewhere on the net in response to this groups claims, so I am going to take a different approach here. Some background information; this small group calling themselves CoBDO are actually a splinter group from the actual CoBDO who now claim to be the original group – as Emma Restall Orr has said; 'The group making this claim is very small and some of their number are extremists.' From here on in, they will be referred to as CoBDOn't.

"I can almost hear the Great Mother Earth Goddess weeping as one of her precious angels lies in a  stable, climate controlled case rather than the cold, acidic and ultimately destructive soil she was ripped from" says arctic hare mudering Druidess

My own opinion on the matter of reburial is somewhat divided, as I see it, there are 3 main points to the case:

  1. Poor and disrespectful treatment of the remains in museums. I have over the past few months seen first hand how human remains held one of the country's two largest and most important museums are handled and treated with care and respect. One of the conservators who is responsible for their care and storage makes a habit of talking to them as she does so, she doesn't know why, it just “seems the right thing to do”. This is the sort of care that is often not considered, is not known about and so claims about treating the remains without respect go on unfounded. In the past this was probably the case but these days I think that as a case for reburial it no longer stands.

  2. Being left for the public to gawp and stare at in glass cases. Again, I think they are wrong. My experience has been that when people are confronted with human remains such as this people tend to behave in a different manner as they would looking at Roman pots or Greek urns. My experience is that adults will tend to be awed, they will be very aware that this was and is a human being – one of us – and perhaps act in a more dignified and respectful manner. I am sure other people can support or dismiss this with their own experience. I will say now that children probably don't understand what the remains are and teenagers, well they will probably squeal and go 'yuk' in order to impress and amuse their comrades. Such is life.

  3. Remains being stored long terms in dusty cupboards. Well, for a start and museum worth it's salt wont be letting things get dusty, they will certainly have strongly controlled climate conditions – the sort that keep my collections area at work nice and warm even in the coldest depths of winter – and will, as I have said before, be looking after them in good conditions and a respectful manner. This of course raises issues of science. We can scan, measure and photograph these remains as much as possible and elucidate every possible bit of data from them so as to learn from our ancestors about myrid aspects of their lives. And yet, in ten years time we might be able to learn more, in twenty years or 50 years who knows what else we can find out that we cannot now. So, do we give up the opportunity of the future to pay respect to the long dead of the past? This is the question I cannot answer, this is the one I have problems with. I cant help but feel there is simply something 'not right' about keeping remains boxed up and in storage indefinitely and yet I also think it worthwhile to hold on to them for the future and the technical opportunity it may bring.

I am going to close for now with a quote from Blogger Bo's (sadly private) blog, with reference to CoBDOn'ts activity in this matter;

“It is at this point that this kind of druidical rubbish stops being self-indulgent bullshit and starts to verge on being, in my opinion, actively wicked. If Paul Davies (the green-clad nerd on the left) is 'appalled by Charlie's plight' - newsflash Paul, Charlie's dead - then perhaps he should go and volunteer at the heroic Camila Batmanghelidj's Kids Company for a few days and work with real, live, suffering, abused children, until he gets a FUCKING GRIP and refinds the compassion he has so inexplicably misplaced."

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fucking Paracetamol


Curse tablets. Tenuous I know but shock advertising is always effective. I spent the Christmas period back in my home town of Fishguard – lovely time; family, boxing day beaches, food, fresh air, birdsong – but decided I couldn't stand to face New Year's Eve there. After perhaps 8 NYE's out on the town over the years I have realised that there are better things than spending the night drunk in a very crowded pub taking ages to get served and in the company of people you don't really know any longer. So I left on NYE morning to come back to London with the plan of having a quiet night in relaxing and playing with my new laptop – old one couldn't handle it's drink and so went up in a puff of smoke in the work Christmas party after only a single red wine. So, I began the train journey in the morning and arrived in London about 6pm after jumping onto the London train at Swansea. The only thing is that my suitcase containing some of my clothes and a sizeable chunk of that years Christmas presents from family wasn't on the train any longer. It appears some Paramecium of society had taken a shine to it and so got off with it elsewhere on the trip between Swansea and London. Lost property office and Police avenues explored, insurance informed and with far less pairs of socks to my name than I am comfortable with I carried on with life.

Not wanting to get this into a large moaning soliloquy about how miserable I am over the matter – on the up side I do get to go shopping and replace what was stolen – let us turn to the main event;

this occurred to me as being an ideal time to make a curse tablet in the almost identical vein to our Romano-British ancestors. I happen to have some nice copper sheeting cut into squares and also own a set of lettering stamps for engraving metal. The plan is to engrave a typical message to a deity, in this case Nodens, and throw it along with something else as an offering into the Thames. I wont get my material goods back, I wont feel slightly upset that there are people like that out there targeting peoples luggage right after the festive period. I will however derive enormous satisfaction knowing that out there is someone suffering a mysteriously persistent rash in their nethers, even more satisfaction that I currently feel in knowing that somehow they had to handle and then dispose of some of my dirty underwear I hadn't time to wash before leaving Wales.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A Few Stirrings

So where do I go from here?

There are a number of things on my mind at the moment, namely, other people. The work and progress with Brython as part of the Tegoluktos Rigatona is where I really want to be, it feels right and is where all of me wants to be going. I also really want to be getting together with the coven too, I have had several months off as it were to think things through and review my aims/wishes/needs/wants/desires and so forth and I am sure that the coven is for me and where I want to be going. So these are the two things I want more of, more time on and more investment in.

What do I want less of? I am beginning to think it might be the pagan community at large. The Beltane Bash and Halloween Bash are off; they have descended into a festering mire of shite run by someone and her cronies with no concept or providing for those they claim to be serving as it were. Instead it is a self-indulgent fantasy enactment parade. I see no reason why I should offer my time and effort any longer in supporting it. I am also beginning to despair that the pagan community at large is too lazy to do anything for itself, too tight to pay for good quality goods and not committed enough to give up time and energy to help those they claim to be part of a 'community' with. Its a cliché but the majority are after a cheap and quick fix. There tends to be be minimal critical thinking, as little effort as possible and a disheartening lack of commitment.

I think over the next few months to year I will 'drop' whatever commitments I have regarding the community and maintain or develop a few (a) where they are welcomed (b) where I want to be active.

Friday, 9 January 2009

New Year

Another one of my customary breaks in posting! The past three months have proven to be interesting and formative.

The Christmas period had its ups and downs as it always does.

Things within the 'Tegoluktos Rigantonas' have become interesting and are beginning to crystallize into group practices we can share albeit at the same time in different places. This though provides a framework we can all work within to our own ‘specifications’ really. So, on the 18th of December I toasted the Grey Mare, the tegoluktos (tribe, family) and the gods of the tegoluktos at sunset. On the 21st, the shortest day I toasted the weakened sun, Mokkonos and the tegoluktos. Then on the 25th I toasted the gods of the tegoluktos, the ancestors and the tegoluktos itself. Three toasts, three drinks, three dates. The idea of making a mini-season of observance and celebration works for me, it certainly had a feeling of otherness about it there were ‘moments’ when the gap between myself and certain gods was very narrow indeed.



February eve is fast approaching and it is time to begin looking what if at all will be done to mark that time. Right now, the weather seems to show no sign of relenting and the possibility of seeing the first hints of spring is appearing slim. Time is all that is needed, time and warmth, and both are on the increase.