Monday, 27 April 2009

Scribbling

I have agreed to do something on the respectful treatment of human remains (all aspects of this I guess from exposure, through exhibition and reburial) which I will hand over to Yvonne at PFA and also plonk on my own website relating to this.

I have agreed to do an article(s) for Pentacle Magazine too and am thinking of Blodeuedd as a subject (mainly because I have something of an essay largely done) with a title along the lines; 'Blodeuedd: she is not a goddess' or 'When flower maidens go bad' or even the likes of which you might find on Channel 5; 'Britain's worst goddess knock-off's III' or some such.

I am going to write something about what I perceive to be a pernicious rot within modern paganism and the person/s behind this current movement (in all senses of the word) which is 'calling for tolerance' amongst pagans. They essentially epitomise everything I hate within the pagan community and what I think it's greatest failings are. I am not sure if it will end up as a series of rants on here or maybe published in Pentacle magazine perhaps. We shall see.

I also want to get more down about Calan Mai and Belenus; there is much going on and I don't want to miss the chance to crystallise ideas and get them collected in one place. Also to give more thought to the ideas I had regarding formal personal devotions and relating them to a mini-season of practice focussed on Belenus and also to a lesser extent Nodens.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Change and Calan Mai

It has been a while. During such time I have been doing some thinking amongst other things. One of the decisions made – and partly influenced by a friends blog title – is to change the title of this one to Aelwyd Fochon. My own hearth, my own group of one is dedicated to him and as such I think it important he is recognised. Especially so as he appears to have retired for the warmer months.

Which leads nicely on to Calan Mai, Beltan, Bealteanne or whatever you wish to call it. This was a festival of importance to people way back when in agricultural communities, for some it meant the time when the livestock went up to summer pastures or when things began to warm up and it went from a time or surviving the worst to making plans to begin the process of surviving the next winter. What does it mean to me today? I certainly don't live in a rural or agricultural community any more so what does it mean to me?

Quite simply put, it is the beginning of summer. The time when the sun is back and back in force. The past week here has been gloriously sunny, so much so that I cant recall when I last let the bright sun on me or felt it warm me like it does now. It is really odd but it feels like the sun has been missing or at least shrouded in some veil which has now been lifted. This is a new sensation for me; the sun has in a very real sense been away for months but is now back and it is this which I am to celebrate. It is a time to celebrate the warmth, light and heat which is returning to us (though I prefer the sun as it is now; bright, warm but with a coolness to the air left over from the earlier spring, I really don't like scorching hot summers) and we mark the transition from one very definite part of the year into another be honouring and welcoming back the summer and all it entails and offers us.

This is a time of liminality (if such a word exists) between the cool and damp spring and the hot and dry (ideally) summer, we are standing on a precipice and at any time now we will plunge headlong into pollen filled afternoons, rain showers on hot tarmac and BBQ scents wafting the air. Perhaps this liminality was a reason Calan Mai or May Eve was noted as being a time of otherworldly activity in Welsh folklore. Perhaps not.

May 1st provides a handy peg stuck into the wall upon which to hang our may celebrations. Though to suggest that the time of transition falls on that date is foolish – it simply doesn't the turning year isn't digital, it is analogue, a spectrum of colours and sounds and sensations bleeding into each other like a Dulux colour chart. We mark it with the May, the hawthorn blossom which sweeps across the landscape with the changing season turning it from browns and fresh greens into a white mantle laden world of warming. Sometimes this mantle is set down earlier and some times later; blossoming being a result in changing daylight and warmth, yet when the tipping point is reached the blossoms start to flood the hedgerows.

This is now the time of Belenus for me. Mokkonos has gone for a nap for the time being, some dark and chilled cave beyond dusk where he will rest for the time being only to re-emerge when the days have gotten fat and long and the air chilled. Then he will stride back over the landscape breathing his frosty breath and crushing the land beneath his black feet. For now thought it is the shiny and brilliant Bel that is with us. The hot and handy god of activity, of growth and production and preparation. The one to whom I owe a debt of thanks and to whom I will soon be asking more favours.

So, for now, to Bel; his heat, his strength and his hands. Have a wonderful Beltane.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Lugus-Belenus




I have been sent this image of Lugh. I like it, it unsettles me. the eyes unsettle me. I find it hard to look at them for too long, I dont know why and I dont know if that is a good thing or not, but it certainly challenges my current conceptions of what I am looking for.

It's the blood red that makes it work for me, too foten people forget that for every grain of corn, for every ounce of the harvest and for everything we reap at the end of the summer; sacrifice has been made, whether that be in time, sweat or blood. It might sing a little of Wiccan theology, but there is blood on the corn and that blood belongs to the sun.

I really do think I might go for this Lugus (p.s thanks to Potia for finding it for me)

A quick challenge though to those competant with photoshop and the like: can you alter the picture, take away the crispness of the features but still leave the essence of it? like I have said faces dont work too well for me so by making this one a little more abstract I think it might make things work better.

A beer for the person who does the best job

Monday, 6 April 2009

Triptych

Following on from the last entry, an idea that has occured to me is to leave the idea of conventional statuary behind and adopt an image instead. Now, the problem I have with a straightforward painting is that it is two dimentional and doesnt have the same quiality in terms of being a 'home for the gods' as a three dimentional object. The answer to this is to use a triptych. Essentially a triptych is a three faced image; either three images which form one when placed side by side (or at least compliment each other) or it can be a construct in which the two side panels fold in like doors to enclose the larger main central panel.



This would address the idea of it being a home, a palce in which the god or at least part of them can reside - a little hidey hole for them - in the manner which I feel a statue can. It still has a lack of 3-dimentionality to it, which led me to my next idea; an idea pulled from programmes of the Take Hart ilk. I am going to find or make a nice image representative of the god in question, then, with the aid of glue and a little papier mache, I am going to turn a 2D image into a 3D one. Something along the lines of making a papier mache moulding on which to stick the image of the god (whole or in bits) so that the image is raised up in the relevant places. I am finding it hard to convey the idea properly in words and Google is not proving useful in finding the kind of thing I am thinking of. 


Come to think of it, these Buddhist ones are gorgeous and perhaps something along the lines of what I am after.


Putting a Face to a Name

Pagan statuary, like pagan art, when it comes to actual deity is woefully disappointing. Either nothing exists at all or it is represented by something akin to a bob of resin made to look like stone. Vile. I have spent some time today looking up suppliers of statuary – for reasons I will soon ramble on about – and most sites make me cringe. There tends to be the one artist I think churning out bucket-loads of the same crap and selling it on to all the pagan outlets prowling the internet. There are a few problems with it for me; on one hand some are terribly executed even when copying an existing and often ancient representation such as this 'homely' Lillith (the poor thing, look what they have done to her!), or the statues have a face.

This is the main stumbling block for me; gods with faces. I cannot connect with something that looks like a person or has a clearly human visage. The gods to me are faceless, clearly anthropomorphic yes, but they don't have faces. They don't on the other hand have a blank space where features should be, it is just that they don't need faces. Faces belong to people, specific persons and the gods to me are more than that, they have transcended what it is to be a person. Paradoxically though they do have personalities and characters unique to themselves it is just that it is represented in deeper ways than a face. So, yes, I dont like faces on my statuary beyond perhaps a simple representation of even something abstract.

Now on to the point I touched on and promised to come back to; why statuary. I'm a physical kind of guy, perhaps if I went in for astrology I would say it is typical of my being a Taurean though as it happens I don't at all go in for astrology – another day, another blog, another rant I guess – which I am willing to bet someone will tell me is another Taurean trait. If they do I will stuff their birth-chart up their Uranus in Pisces. So, I like having physical representation in some form whether it be a picture or an image. They act as a focus, a point at which to begin a journey. A trigger for the mind and the body. I have been giving thought to the idea of the stature becoming the house for a piece of the god themselves, much like in Hindu temples where the statues are seen to be inhabited by the gods in a manner of speaking (to the point of be closed away for a nap in the afternoon – bless 'em). So, by keeping and tending a shrine with a statue of the god you are tending to a part of them, nourishing and communicating with the god directly rather than speaking into the ether. In this way the object itself becomes divine, becomes deeply sacred in much the same way Christian relics so I guess. This the opens the possibility for incorporating the statue and the god into rituals; either by bathing and scenting with incense or perfumes, feeding and addressing as a physical manifestation of the divine. This idea, this notion and its implications speak deeply to me. They strike me as being worthwhile and important, they strike me as being things I can myself do as part of devotional work especially in the context of disciplined and formulaic ritual work as I was talking about recently.

Then I saw some images on
Bo's blog, and was inspired. These to me capture perfectly deity in a very personal way. Capturing the anthropomorphic feel and lacking the features that would tie them to a specific 'person', yet conveying perfectly their nature and essence; eliminating the background hiss to give a crystal clear image. Gods know where he find these pictures on the internet.

So I got to thinking if a similar objective can be achieved with a picture as with a statue.

I am still thinking on it.