Sunday, 26 December 2010

Vanellus

Well, I did it last year and find myself once again on a bed at mum's house at Christmas writing something to go on this blog. I have been incredibly lax of late I know but don't really have much to blogasm about.



It is almost 2am, colder than a witches tit out and the sky is clear. There are more stars in the sky than I have seen in a long time – probably the last time I was outside of London and looking upwards. The moon has been beyond beautiful the past few days though hid behind clouds for the eclipse – a horrid task it was getting up at 7am after about 4 hours sleep and a bottle of Morgan's Spiced.

I have just returned in from the backyard where I did far more than the triple toast – I think I must've toasted about 8 times in all and don't think it too many as all were appropriate and timely. I am sure I have said before that this week of ritual and observance has felt like a worthwhile and rewarding set of practices, and as I am in the second year of this set of observances I have not changed my view, it has if anything reinforced it.

The only other significant thing worth mentioning is the lapwings. The part of west Wales I am from and currently am pottering about has not as far as I can recall in the 20 odd years I have been living and meandering about had many lapwings. I don't in fact recall ever seeing any. So it it is immediately significant to me that they are everywhere at the moment, all over the town and surrounding area. Now this is most likely to be something relating to migration patterns changing or being waylaid due to to the extreme weather we are having. It may not. What I do have niggling away in the back of my mind is that I should be taking something away from this; the daily sighting of many, many lapwings. With this perky little chaps I know I am straying into Iolo M. and Robert G. territory as the only relevance to me is Amaethon/Ambactonos. An association which isn't lost on my of late with the year swinging around to finishing off preparing my plot for sowing and a year of vegetable based sufficiency. The agricultural associations at the moment don't stop there; I have been chatting with my cousin who has been doing a lot of genealogy research of late and has re-sparked off my drive to do more work on it – and as I am at home with the genealogical resource otherwise known as 'old family members' at my fingertips it would be foolish not to make the most of it. I have set myself a target for the coming years to get back at least 5 generations on at least the Welsh side of the family and make an effort with the Irish side (they are going to be a bit harder to work on). The agricultural association there is that they are all farmers once you go back a single generation.

With new year coming up people will be making resolutions. I will not. I am shit at keeping that kind of thing so wont even make the poorest of attempts. Instead I have some thoughts about the kinds of things I will be working on;
  1. five generations of genealogical research
  2. refine existing personal practice
  3. refine and clarify 'festival' based personal practice.
  4. Ambactonos based practice
I think that will do for now, one or two other mad ideas popping up in my head right now are best kept for stewing over before committing to.

Monday, 8 November 2010

November

November is here.


In some quarters it has just been the Celtic New Year. My view? bollocks. We have a perfectly good new year already within society, we don't need to go and invent another one. I mean, who really, genuinely feels the same about Nov 1st as they do Jan 1st? I certainly don't and I doubt many others so too, but then it is apparently 'anciente' and 'myfteriouf'. If I sound grouchy it is because I am, I have had a bad chest for almost 2 weeks now, plus the arse end of a cold too. On top of that I have lots to do at the museum and at home and all less than a week to do it in before I clear off to the wilds of Paraguay for 5 weeks. 


The festival formerly known as Samhain - personally I slip back into Halloween and with enough ease as to remind myself that it is as perfectly good a name for it as any - has just emerged from the mists and is slowly sinking back into them. It is supposed to be the marker for the beginning of winter, the things is; it simply isnt winter here in south London. It is most definately autumn; golden leaves (and I really do mean golden at the moment) and a damp chilliness in the air. All those things that to me scream autumn. No frosts and no flesh shredding cold that slips not your bones and wont be shifted with anything less than a hot shower, nothing to me that says winter yet. 


The remedy to this November festival of the dead and the beginning of winter is to slip a knife between them, pry them apart and take them as they should be; separate. Halloween is given back to the dead and only the dead - something like the Mexican Dias de los Muertos, whilst the 'Hello Mr Winter, how nice to see you again' festival - let's call it Winternights - to be observed when winter comes a knocking. 


* * *


I knocked the above together a few days ago and didnt really feel in the mood to carry on writing.


This will probably by the last you hear from me until I get back from S America in mid to late December. We shall see if I have anything interesting to write about then.


Toodle-oo

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Shining Charioteer

Righty then, as a commentator on the last blogasm asked; “who is the sun/cowherd in your cosmology?”

I mentioned that the Bull Sons of Taranis and their wives are the clouds. The Sun as I mentioned was formed from the eye of the first one – Dyeus - by Taranis at the making of the world and so isn't a god or goddess as such. To my mind the sun is borne aloft on/in a chariot driven by someone else. I should also point out that I don't actually believe these to be the case – we know what the sun is, where clouds come from and that the world was formed from by the accretion of dust and debris left over after the sun formed from hydrogen gas etc. This is all a mythic overlay of the world, a way of placing the gods within a framework, a tool with which to order and consider things.

So, the Shining Cowherd. Several gods are associated with Apollo from inscription and iconography. Grannus is a good candidate but not a deity with whom I have a connection. On the other hand, Belenus is also associated with Apollo and the name does mean 'shining one' (and also possibly 'henbane god' – for whatever that means and alludes too) and to me has a personal connection with healing springs, spas etc which are also known of as being connected with Grannus e.g Aquae granni in Germany.

Add into this the mention I have made before- prompted by Bo – that Belenus and Lugus were one and the same and that Lugus has some connection to harvests etc then it isn't too much of a stretch to consider that Lugus-Belenus is the solar charioteer to whom thanks are given at the harvest for a fine summer.

Something I came cross is mention of a 10 day festival to Grannus from an inscription:

POSTVMVS DV[M]
NORIGIS F(ilius) VERG(obretus) AQV
AM MARTIAM DECAM
NOCTIACIS GRANNI D(e) S(ua) P(ecunia) D(edit)
Translation: "The Vergobretus Postumus son of Dumnorix gave from his own money the Waters of Mars for the ten-night festival of Grannus"

Now presumably the Waters of Mars might be a drink of some sort – finding anything online is a pig as it brings up nothing but references to a Doctor Who special on last year. As to when this festival occurs – not a clue. But certainly something worth investigating at some point.


New Moon

The new moon is days away so at some point later this week I will be lighting a candle for Briganti, leaving some food and milk for the household ungods and making a pot of tea for the ancestors.


Yesterday I rooted through some of the the boxes packed away after moving in to find some of my photo collections, mainly in a search for some photos I have of great grandparents and the like to tie in with the ancestor observances.


It occurred to me that to be perfectly frank, most of my immediate ancestors for probably a generation or so back really wouldn't approve of what I am doing as they were either staunch Catholic of Welsh Baptist. So I find myself wondering whether I should either (i) be arrogant enough to assume they now see things differently and persevere or (ii) carry on regardless of their disapproval. the fact of the matter is that those ancestors who would be more approving (probably) are the ones I don't know and never really will.


It is something of a dilemma.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Bull Sons of Taranis

I think I have mentioned these figures before in an idea for a myth and also in the blogasmed 'Hymn to Ambactonos'. A comment over on the Dun Brython site asked who these Sons of Taranis were.

To be honest they were something that emerged from my mind as I was writing, in the same way as the first of all animals appeared in the 'Making of the World'; funny ideas thrown up by my imagination during a bout of creativity.

This question though actually got me thinking about it a bit more and it was a pretty quick jump for me to decide on who these sons actually were and where they fit into the cosmology of mine.

They are the clouds.

More accurately, they are the rain clouds that scud overhead, whose milk is the rain that waters the land and whose hooves thunder and make the sky tremble when they are in full flight. They have wives of course! These wives are the herds of clouds who fill our skies; the white clouds upon the blue plains of the heavens.

The idea of clouds as cows isn't nothing new, in fact they are regarded as such in the Rig Veda and tie in with Indra quite a lot (Indra being cognate with Taranis).

So a new layer to my own cosmology; the herds of the sky led out each dawn and shepherded across the sky by the chariot of the sun. often the while, gentle wives and sometimes the Bull Sons come with their three voices of rain, thunder and lightning.  What is particularly useful is that these rainclouds are personified in the Rig Veda as Parjanya and there are three hymns to him. these might serve as a useful basis for 'adaptation' and use within practical devotional work along with hymns to Ambactonos etc.  Also of note is that these hymns could also be viewed as incantations of sorts asking Parjanya to come and water the land. 

Summon the powerful god with these songs;
praise Parjanya; win him over with homage.
The bellowing bull.
freely flowing with luscious drops
places his seed in the plants as an embryo

Trans. W. Doniger 1981

Monday, 27 September 2010

A Hymn to Ambactonos






















Ambactonos; the one who knows the skies,
the stars and heavens and the passing of the seasons.
The one who knows the movements of the chariot of the sun
and the bull sons of Taranis, as well as he knows the furrow
in the soil and the green things which grow.

Ambactonos; he who knows how to till and to sow
to caress the earth and tease life from it. He who knows
when the dew will lie and the rains fall, to quicken the growth
of the seed he has planted within Rigantona's embrace.

Ambactonos; he who knows the face of the sun
and how his gaze will fall. He who knows the edge of the blade
that cuts at the harvest and when the two should meet.
All of this knowledge and all of this skill, Ambactonos
I ask for a draught.


I tend to be reticent about posting liturgy up on here. That said this is one of those times when I sat down with an idea half formed of what I wanted to appear on the screen and a few minutes later I had three stanzas. It seemed an appropriate and proper thing to do in advance of my beginning work on the allotment this coming weekend - weather permitting - and to go with the first speaking of this hymn I am offering Ambactonos a portion of my first harvest. In this case that happens to be my first batch of home sprouted mung beans currently nearing readiness for eating on the windowsill.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Theurgy


I learned a new word recently: theurgy. Which is rather handy as it is something that encapsulates nicely the one element missing from my personal practice at the moment. I would like to think I have got my lunar devotional work to a good place; it has been something like 8 months now and I am keeping up with it all – pretty much, aside from the odd day slippage when life throws something up - which is good for me. 

So I think this is certainly an area to focus on for the time being, especially in terms of the 'how to'. There are a number of trance practices which I can draw upon here and some of which I have experience with, that said working on something new isn't a bad thing at all. We shall see and I shall of course post a report! Wild hallucinations and all! (in fact I am looking forward to those somewhat)

In addition, I have been considering the possibility of incorporating Taranis into my personal practice. Originally I was thinking of slotting him into the lunar devotional cycle but this just doesn't feel right. So, the possibility of a lesser yearly festival to him cropped up and this seems to fit better for now. The next thing to consider is when to do this – someone has suggested elsewhere that when the first thunderstorms begin – and this seems like a good point to bear in mind. 

Then, last week I was woken 2 days on the trot by the honking of geese flying overhead, an occurrence whose meaning wasn't lost on me. Coupled with the only thunder I have heard in London this year the week before it seemed like and certainly occurred to me that this was a big hint. So, I have my time, I have my place I just need now to establish what I will do.

Last of all, another one of those things that has been playing on my mind of late is setting up of a magical working group, perhaps a teaching coven. That said it wont be a Wiccan one (at least not initially as I am not in a position to do so and don't really have the desire to do so either at the moment) and will be a straightforward religious witchcraft coven based around a set of deities whom I already have in mind. Without going into more detail at this early stage it will mesh together general witchcraft within a framework of gods and ritual akin to what I have been developing myself, so whilst it pains me use this term at the moment it is somehow more descriptive and fitting; Brythonic witchcraft. I need to give this a lot more thought and embark on discussion with various parties. Then again, I might not and do so further in the future in a similar guise. So, once again I will have something different to blogasm about.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Green Fingers

I will probably change the remit of this blog a little I think. Not much ‘new’ is happening and so I don’t want to leave it to either become a barren wasteland and I don’t want it to become somewhere I occasionally pop in and ramble about nothing. I am sure that if any new projects come along I will talk about them, I can also foresee the occasional blogasm on how my lunar devotionals are coming along too.

So, for now… the newest project to enter my life;

I have an allotment!

My friend in Downe who I mentioned briefly has a large several acre field out the back of her house which she owns. She currently has a small patch of veggie growing which feeds the two of them comfortably and provides a glut of some produce too. As of this weekend I am going to take on a plot 5x5m to grow some food on. I am horrifically excited and have already been planning what I want to grow, the plan being is that me and N wont overlap on produce too much so we can share what we get out of it and both of us will benefit. In addition, we discovered a huge stand of Damsons, a huge stand of Rosehips plus some other semi-wild fruit trees and will be in a jamming and preserving frenzy over the coming weeks. I have gone on before about wild food harvesting and this year the whole affair has gone off with a bang; we spent Saturday night making damson Cheese and have the
princely amount of 4 kilos. The other 3 kilos of damsons we picked (nowhere near using up the potential crop from the hedgerow) will be used in other ways; I will be making them into damson gin and vodka.


Next weekend I am going to be pillaging the elderberries from nearby, collecting crabapples for jellying and drying and having a look at a promising cherry tree I saw.
I would like to say this is all about weaving myself into the landscape more; relying upon it more for my living and by extension giving back more too. I think that is probably about 40% of it, the other 60% is a mix of desire to give this a whirl and sheer need to cut my cost of living. With an uncertain future – the NHM is government funded and looks to be arsefucked in the upcoming government spending review – I need to look at ways of cutting the cost of living in the way I am accustomed. Part of this is to get what food I can as cheaply as I can and where possible; for free.
I think this will be an interesting development, I am sure there will be ramifications for my spiritual and religious practices and so will make use of this fetile new ground as a means of producing content for this blog.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Rabid Beast

Once again it has been a long time since I have posted. I cant really offer an explanation – perhaps one or two contributory factors I guess – other than to say, I have been doing other things and sometimes when I sit down to write a post I simply cannot be arsed to get past a single line or two.

Two weeks ago I moved home; I now have my own studio in Crystal Palace which is frankly rather nice for a studio and is beginning to feel like my own home after a week or so of it … not.

Once I was in and had a free night to myself I set about an evening of ritual activity; I carried out my household cult ritual with some ad-hoc words thrown in for the occasion. Went about “smudging” the place with frankincense and generally welcomed the spirits to the new home. The gods were offered food and drink and went about making an offering to the large oak and yew trees in the shared gardens. I see it as an opportunity to increases the household cult by incorporating – if it works out that way – the spirits outside as well as inside the home.

I have had a whole suite of vaccinations over the past week in anticipation of a month long trip to the wilds of west Paraguay – and frankly felt like shit-on-a-stick for a few days after them. Today's rabies jab and the way I felt afterwards seem to indicate that the swine flu and rabies jabs are what did me in for almost a full 4 days.

Lammas has been and gone, the beginning of the harvest season has come and tomorrow I will be partaking in it; I am off to a friend's who lives outside Bromley in a small rural Village (Downe) where we will be off out picking blackberries, elderberries, damsons and maybe some pears and apples growing somewhat ferrally(especially in the grounds of the Buxton browne site in the link above, there is a pear tree there that gave me a black eye last year. bastard). I will probably spend Friday evening and Saturday processing them into jams, jellies and cordials (a fair chunk of the elderberries being made into Elder Rob again).

I am getting to the satge of not being in the mood to write more so will sign off here and come back to this when I have something more interesting to do.

As an aside, as I have limited internet in the new place at the moment I have been occupying my time with some “creative writing” and by that I mean speculative palaeontology, effectively inventing a new world of fossils and palaeontology to play with. I have far more ideas than I can commit to binary for now so I think this little exercise will keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Summertide

A two month hiatus is pretty over the top for me, it is I think the longest I have gone without posting at least something.

In the two months since I last posted I have been continuing with my lunar observances, observed the solstice and general been thinking about things and getting on with them.

I thoroughly enjoy the lunar observances; as someone who is awful at regular devotional work and who only managed to do a month of daily observances with some effort and even them missed a day or two here and there, it comes as relief that I am able to manage fortnightly observances with relative ease (albeit adjusting the night sometimes to allow for people being at my place – I prefer the peace of an empty flat for this). They have also been opening up thought patterns is how I relate to these gods and spirits, to the point now that I am planning what I will do in terms of the household cult when I move house in 2 weeks. I suppose in a way this has caused a shift in my way of thinking so that these activities are sliding into place within my mundane life rather than there being a clear sacred-profane delineation. All very good, to my mind.

The solstice came and went; I observed it at the same time as the other members of Brython, using some of the same actions and words as they were. Again this has reinforced this as being a particularly useful and meaningful thing to do.

Other than that, life is rather busy; my contract at work is up in a month so I need to sort something. I have to move house by the end of the month so am busy dealing with that and at work things have been particularly busy these past 2 weeks. I look forward to some peace and tranquillity as late summer comes. At about which time it will be the time of Harvests. This year I wont be celebrating in the ‘normal’ way, as it is of course geared toward grain harvests which I of course don’t have. I am thinking of ways in which to mark the harvest season – and season it is, not an event – and am thinking of something involving the first wild fruit harvests I bring in. maybe when I have considered it more I will be in a mood and mind-frame to post something on here.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Rituals of Sovereignty

So, onto this sovereignty matter and the use of ritual.


I was on the bus home today and the Catholic mass come to mind – as it can do at times – and especially the part with the Eucharist and holy communion. It appears that this really is the crux of the mass – and something similar features within Wiccan ritual. It is if you like, the part of the mass that the mass has been created for. It has purpose and of course meaning, it could be said it is the legacy of JC himself and what he was building up to (certainly in the case of Catholicism). And so it is that every Sunday (or Saturday evening if you were more into that kind of timing for your masses) that this element of the mass recreates something that was first established by the son of god himself, he explicitly requested they do this symbolic ritual in order to maintain the connection between God and the faithful.


This re-creative thing could be something upon which to build in terms of a ritual of renewal of sovereignty. Something done in a group setting, where the group collectively renews the sovereignty bestowed onto them by the goddess in question. This renewal is for both group and individual renewal. I cant see how the place of a sovereign can be established and his function fulfilled, I suppose this is one of those changes made to older ideas to be more in line with the 21st century we all live in, not to diminish the process, but more of adapting to work in a modern world.


The question really is; how do you know if Rigantona has granted you sovereignty? Do you assume she is hunky-dory or go in for divination of some sort? I can envisage some sort of divinatory event or events in which the 'message' is transmitted, and if favourable a feast prepared when the tribe gather. Foods cooked by those attending brought together and cooked - perhaps a loaf of home made bread in the form of a horse is included – and the finest part set aside for Her. Offerings of food and drink are made; what we have received from the and, we now offer back to complete the circle. The horse is killed, it's head dipped into red wine and offered. The rest torn up and shared between those attending. In doing so we have offered back what we have taken in hope of the obligation of return in the coming year. We have taken the form of the land and torn her body up to be shared between us, we take her away as part of us only to bring her back again a year hence and once again remake the circle.


Simple, symbolic and potential a powerful and moving ritual if performed with fitting liturgy.


Interestingly while I was looking for some images to add to this I stumbled across this link describing a Siberian horse sacrifice ritual.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Sovereignty

This is of course a matter of sovereignty and its place within contemporary paganism, primarily so those strands which have a strong focus upon the relationship between the landscape, the people and the gods and how all three come together as one in a form of meta-ecosystem. This isn't about political sovereignty, the role of the state or head thereof – the Queen in the case of the United Kingdom – as we live in a larger society and these concepts have their place in a society-wide framework. This is really more about a kind of religo-magical sovereignty; the relationship between the person and the landscape.


There are a couple of things I just want to throw in at this point without going into in detail right now (I can refer back to the courses when needed and if needed);


1. the place of horses as representations of landscape and their part in views of sovereignty
2. the marriage of king and mare followed by mating and eating of the mare
3. the horse associated goddess Riannon in the mabinogi, her role within sovereignty and the effect of her mistreatment and disappearance
Mitra-Varuna/Odhinn-Tyr/Lugus-Nodens as embodiments of how the human component functions within the sovereign relationship


The religo-magical component has been all but removed from sovereignty in the modern world, if it does exist it is in a merely vestigial form. Politics, law and the place of The State have come to primacy. The landscape is a belonging, an asset almost, of the state and the people which they have a legal right to make use of and exploit. It has pretty much become a commodity. This mindset is now inescapable in the modern world and trying to get away from it is an exercise in futility.


So, to quote someone who has already expressed it in a clear and expressive manner (Deiniol):


"sovereignty" is not an inherent power or attribute of a tribe: it has to be granted by its proper owner. Without the sovereignty, the tribe has no right to live on the land: it is not theirs to possess or use or rule over. Therefore, to me, "sovereignty" could be defined as "the gift of place". I am not a Brython because I was born in these islands, nor because my ancestors have lived here for generations. That's not important. I belong to Britain, and Britain belongs to me, because the sovereignty goddess allows it: it is solely by her grace (to use the Christian term) that I can interact with the land."


The goddess of sovereignty, in my world-view; Rigantona, forms that connection of proper person and proper power via the king or ruler in a tribal society. As a group of people spread out in the landscape such an arrangement falters, so a slightly different method of obtaining the right to live on the land must be sought and obtained but on an individual basis. I do also wonder if perhaps it is something that could be sought as a group; a group where a common understanding of what is required and expected is met and as such taken on by individuals and a group at the same time. Effectively, sovereignty is granted to the group as a whole and to the people as individuals. A burden then lies on those individuals to uphold their responsibility for their own sake and the sake of the group.


From what I have been reading of late, the role of a Mitra-Varuna pairing also come into play with regards to the functioning of this relationship. I think it might be something to come back to later. In addition 'how' this sovereignty is obtained and divulged to the group/individuals needs some thought.



Monday, 10 May 2010

Calan Mai

The word around me is fresh green and cream. The trees have been pushing out new growth with a vengeance and the blossom on the Prunus is everywhere. London is looking pretty. It means that the windows in my flat are open 24 hours a day leaving the place feeling and smelling fresh, something which is surprising for London, but then I suppose it should be ‘London fresh’ which is probably a shade or two further down the fresh spectrum that other parts of the country. This is my kind of spring and the kind of summer I would want; warm, sunny yet not too hot and humid. Fingers crossed.

The wheel is turning and we are well into the season of sunshine and growth; soon will be an appropriate time to mark this change and celebrate the calends of May. 







I spent the first weekend of May in Snowdonia with other people from Brython. I have met some of them before; though meeting the others was perhaps the most important part of the weekend for me. To go from online interaction to a face to face ‘format’ is hugely valuable, itself as an experience and also for future contact; having a voice, a face and a way of talking to apply to otherwise anonymous communication is fantastic.

We spent the first night camping out in a field on the banks of the Conwy, a bit chilly – colder than a witch’s tit to be accurate – but a nice way of easing out of urban life. An early start the next day and we were climbing into the mountains. Everything about the landscape there reminds me of home: the hills, the peaks, and the rolling heath-land. I could just as well have been in north Pembs for all I knew. I think was the biggest kick for me; the feeling of being back in a familiar place, the ‘hiraeth’. Lately I have been almost pining to move back into a more rural setting or at least on the very hinterland between rural and urban.

We walked for a few hours up into the mountains along what I presume is a fairly old track; winding up into the hills and with wayside sheep folds that would have been the peeling off point for farmers making this trip to maintain their very livelihood. The showers that fell from the sky occasionally were welcome in some respect to cool me off – a rucksack with an additional 5kg of fuel on your back for an uphill climb can get the internal furnace firing up.

There was a weird juxtaposition between frogspawn in the puddles, fledging skylarks and the snow that still clung on it the highest peaks. It was as if there was a very literal intermingling of spring and winter, the weather only went to enhance that.

Twenty four hours later we walked down from that wild, windy and lonely place. As Potia has described; it was very much a case of going up there in winter and coming down in spring.

I had expectations of that weekend, they weren’t realised but I think what I got out of ti was far more important; spending time with a community; building those community bonds which we hope only to strengthen. And of course being there alongside someone making a very real journey; far more than a simple trek into the mountains. It seems almost surreal in some respects, as if she underwent the journey and we were pulled along with her into it as guides/support/companions. I think I know what my place was in those events and I am pleased and honoured to be part of it. More so because of the lessons I have learned as a result.

There has been a bit of a hiatus on here of late, I have things I want to expunge but am totally lethargic about. I think sovereignty will feature in the next couple of posts as it is something that needs addressing.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Wiltshire Weekend

I spent the weekend down in Wiltshire at a friends – we shall call her N – where I occasionally disappear to, to relax and spent time with people I am close to.

On arriving, N's sister C – another close friend – was there with her kids too, and was pleased to hear that the previous Halloween they had gone to swallowhead spring to hold a smell ritual. The best part was that they read out loud Bo's myth of how the willow came to be at Swallowhead Spring [ pics below ]. We paid a visit to the spring and spent a good hour or so just pottering about there and gazing at the rivulets of water pouring out of the rock. It was also nice to see that although the willow trees were festooned with cloth ribbons, the d├ęcor was what you might call 'tasteful' with minimal tat or plastic rubbish wrapped around the twigs.




We paid a visit to the long barrow, sat around inside and took away spent tea-lights. Wandering along the banks of the Kennet and made our way around Avebury.

Nice sights were the Red Kite, several Skylarks in competition – one song to declare; fuck me, fight me or fuck off' as N put it – a close encounter with a roe deer about 20 feet away who was incredibly relaxed and not all that bothered by our presence.



We also popped into the Alex Keiller museum to see the human remains on display, notably Charlie, who has been at the centre of a ridiculous charade of utter fuckwankery. Thankfully common sense has prevailed, below is a pic of Charlie in her case within the hugely educational setting have proved to be a fitting memorial and form of immortality.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

These are the results, now, piss off.

I have noticed that the ‘results’ over the Avebury Child consultation and review are in. This is something I blogasmed about a while back and was rather disparaging of the view of CoBDO and the like.

The wonderful news is that the remains will stay at the museum and fuckwits like CoBDO will not be able to perform their am-dram bullshit over the remains.

The result and associated surveys etc are to be found here, I would recommend the survey that was carried out and the results of it; 91% of people surveyed – with a higher proportion of pagans than in the general population – said that remains should be displayed and be available for research. If this isn’t a mandate for the future to tell CoBDO and it’s ilk to piss off then I don’t know what is.

I will be at the museum this weekend coincidentally and shall make a point of visiting the remains of ‘Charlie’ and be sure to mention t one of the staff that I am glad the result that was reached, was, well, reached.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


I’m in a funny mood at the moment; becoming more insular. I have over the past few days deleted my membership to a number of old yahoo groups which I have been a member of for years – in some cases sine I first got online about 9 years ago -, deleted my membership to the BBC Pagan boards; mainly because it has become intensely boring with very little of value discussed these days, instead a cliqueiness has sprung up in which threads quickly descend into talk of ‘Mighty Olive Crayon’, Straight Jackets covered in all manner of personal decoration and a ‘Glitter Room’. It’s the kind of non-ironic chatter I would expect from some teenagers trying to look amusing on the internet but coming from adults who are in some cases middle aged it is painful to watch. There is also now an intense air of paranoia towards new people or those who stand out. It is probably all about the rose tinted glasses but back 9 years ago it was a far more interesting place to be and talk, the kind of places where you make friends and stay friends with them in real life for years afterwards (which in my case I have several as a result).


I am just finding that ‘pagan’ sites just don’t do it for me any more, nothing seems to happen on them; only rarely does it get interesting and even then it is a flame war which is drawing the interest. Either I am becoming desensitized to the internet or I have outgrown these places. I am currently only a member of 3 website; Caer Feddwyd and the private Brython Forum plus Esoteric Source where a lot of friends hang out these days. Maybe it is because I have gone from talking about doing to actually… well, doing.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Spring


Well, it seems that Blogger has added some bells and whistles to these blogs so I guess it would be rude not to make use of them.

I don’t have an awful lot to report; my lunar based observances are progressing, I am getting a lot from the Household Cult based one and have the second Rigantona based one upcoming. As time goes on I am realising this is the perfect format for me to work within.

Spring is here! About a week ago there was a very clear, very distinct shift in the climate here; it went from cold, bitterly so, to being rather mild and much sunnier. This pattern has continued and the sunny and mild weather is still with us. The elder tree in next door’s garden which I can see from my bathroom window (something to gaze at whilst brushing my teeth) is beginning to put out shoots, there is a blackthorn in blossom with some leaf buds popping out on the way down to Brixton. This relatively sudden outburst of photosynthetic activity is heartening , I really enjoy this kind of climate; sunny yet not too hot, with a fresher feel to the air (as fresh as London can get though I guess).

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A sessile nature is hard to shake

I am being particularly lethargic at the moment in all sorts of facets of life – obviously this being one.

Right now I am in the 2 week lull of the lunar ritual calendar I have set myself and it is a kind of odd feeling; on one hand I want to find something that can fill this 'gap' and on the other I dont.

* * *

I have done some book shopping: Comparative Mythology, Indo-European stuff and this essay on a pair of Vedic deities who have a connection with a pair of Brythonic ones.

The connection between Mitra and Varuna and Lugus and Nodens has been a bit hazy and not something I could grasp and getmy head around really; certainly in a way that seems fitting and relevant to me and my practices. That said, there has been a lightbulb moment recently in which things are slotting into place. How they fit into the grander cosmology of things is another matter and something which will reveal itself in time I suppose.

* * *

Other than that, things have been quiet; some interesting developments at work which may see me spending a month in Paraguay on fieldwork, or doing a Phd which would be rather interesting in and of itself but more so as it would involve lots of fieldwork in southeast Asia. I am also currently working on a digital reconstruction of a dinosaur brain case and the neural canals within the skull from CT scans, for publication.

On that rather off topic note I think I will leave it there for now.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Full Moon - Rigantona

Today is the full moon. Within my lunar observances this means it is a time to honour Rigantona.

The household cult ritual I performed two weeks ago was wonderful; as someone who hasnt made use of a teapot (with associated milk jug and sugar bowl) at home in far too many years, the chance to sit down at a table and make a cup of tea in this way was not only strangely nostalgic but also had that strong sense of 'other' - something I dont normally do and something special I am doing for this specific time and purpose only. I guess it comes down to separating the mundane from the sacred (in as much as a cuppa can be sacred).

There is something also reassuring about this regular, fixed and planned manner of reverence. Something not too easy to put into words but something that appeals, something that I am drawn to (my inner Roman Catholic altar boy clammering to get back out) and something I cant help but feel should remain part of my personal practice.

Anyway, tomorrow is set aside for Rigantona. At present this is what I might call a 'developing' relationship, so i dont have a prepared hymn to offer to Her. I could on one hand borrow from
Deiniol and his hymn, but this time I think it best not to and to allow a hymn to develop itself over time based upon my personal experiences.

That said, for the past three days I have had the words to a song in my head' rolling over and over and the closer it gets to tomorrow the more I feel they are somehow... relevant, if not in the form that has possessing my mind then the sentiment behind them.




* * *

Briganti, mother of the flame, may I pray with a good fire
Briganti, mother of the flame, may I sacrifice well

Into the eye of the first one did Taranis blow life,
the frost in the bones of the land melts away,
the flesh of the land flushes with life
as the blood of the oceans runs hot on the shore


some incense is lit;

Briganti of the flame,
weave our words into your veil, bear it aloft;
to Taranis the sky father
to the Grey Mare on the hill
and to the Lord in the Wave


Incense is burnt

Great Queen,
Mare on the Hill,
The heart in this landscape
I offer you this, as it is proper for me to do so.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Household Cult

The new moon is a day or two away and I have some plans; on Sunday the 14th (new moon proper) I am off out for a Chinese New Year dinner with some friends so will be carrying out the cult rituals earlier in the day.

I had a brand new – and well overdue –cooker fitted during the week and last night was the first time I got to use it. It seemed appropriate to say a few words to Briganti over it and light the oil lamp prior to lighting the stove – or flicking the switch to let the electric flow as it were.

In terms of ancestors, I have become ever so slightly hooked on Ancestry.co.uk and have been tracing back my family tree. I am in the somewhat fortunate position I guess to know most of my immediate and very large family already and have ideas about great-grandparents whom I recall from being a teeny-weeny little Lee. I think this process of finding out about them – their birth, marriage, children and death – goes somewhat towards fulfilling parts of my ancestral practices. I have pretty much reached the limit of my current onboard knowledge at about four generations so am now in the position of having to go and speak with relatives to find out what my great-grandfather’s first name was, who he married, her maiden name etc. it is all proving thoroughly enjoyable and I am looking forward to being able to use late 19thC censuses to get information on whole families. What I do know is that there is at least 250 years of farming history on one piece of land, I just need to trace back the people involved now.

So, come Sunday this is my plan;

The Briganti Flame is lit:

Briganti, mother of the flame, may I pray with a good fire Briganti, mother of the flame, may I sacrifice well

Briganti; your flame in this house
Fill my home with your warmth
Briganti: your flame at my hearth
May it be bright for all who dwell here
Briganti: your flame in my hands
May I work well, may I sacrifice well, and may I honour the gods well.

Food and drink offered

* * *

To the Ladies of this house,
The Matres of this home;
I offer you this food ,as is right to do so
I offer you this drink, as is proper to do so


Food and drink offered

* * *

To those who have gone before me,
those loved, and those never known,
come to me,
share a drink with me

A pot of tea made, a cup of hot, sweet tea offered and come quiet time.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Maija Gimbutas

I went and ordered Marija Gimbutas' "The Living Goddesses" this morning on a whim (ordering on Amazon is far too easy) largely because I came across her ideas while back in university and found a book of hers in the uni library. It was interesting at the time though I didnt make a proper job of going through it, I was probably being distracted by papers on brachiopod functional morphology and pyritization of soft tissues.

Her name haas been cropping up lately in some of the books I have been reading on the Indo-Europeans so I though it time to see what the fuss is about.

From what I recall she had a tendancy to regard everything as 'goddess' this and 'goddess' that; any imagery of an animal was a bear goddess or vulture goddess. Now, I might be simplifiying somewhat from what I recall but this bothered me and sounds like exactly what you find on a wesbite by someone who has read the mabinogion and takes it to be a well preserved mythic corpus (I might have been guilty of doing this myself in the past to be honest).

Monday, 1 February 2010

Trifurcations

Right now I have two options before me; compile a database listing 4600 drawers of specimens, their geological age, geographical location and the species contained therein. Or do an accompanying statement for a job application.

The obvious thing is to invent a third task and do that. So here we go…

I have recently been delving into things proto-Indo European and Indo-European. On one hand more academically minded books such as West’s Indo-European Poetry and Myth and the on-order Mallory’s In search of the Indo-Europeans: language, archaeology and myth. On the other hand I bought Ceiswr Serith’s Deep Ancestors.

The value in the first two is that they provide a very well put out ‘what came before’ for someone like me interested in the Britons of roughly 2000 years ago. They set out what we can know from comparative study of the I.E people, what their religious ideas developed in to in various corners of their distribution and as such begin something of a reconstruction of the missing pieces. Couple this with post-Celtic academic work, archaeology and Romano-British evidence and we can make a two pronged ‘attack’ of the time-slice and its inhabitants we are interested in.

So, comparative work can offer insights into what a creation myth might have looked like, who the first gods were and something of the people’s relationship with them. The value of Vedic sources comes into its own here too. It can give glimpses of the gods who are known only from a name.

Serith’s contribution goes back one temporal step to the P.I.E people and using similar lines of academic evaluation reconstructs what the religion would have been like, he then also sets out a kind of ritual framework that is at the very least nothing short of as truthful as possible to the reconstruction. Whilst that side of his book was of less value to me, the main body where he lays out his reasoning and re-assembles the pantheon is wonderful. It provides something of a framework with which to keep an eye on when doing similar for the Brythonic version.

So, all in all, the take home message from this diversion from paid work is to make use of Indo-European sources, they are probably far more instructive than anything you might buy which uses the mabinogion as a basis.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Imbolc

This evening I did my Imbolc/Gwyl Ffraid ritual. Idealy I would have done it either Friday or Saturday night but as it was I spent Friday at a friends funeral and then all day Saturday with a her daughter who is close friends from work. It felt... wrong to be having my ritual before today.

* * *

This is the first ritual I have performed in this manner and I really like it, it is certainly a model I will be adopting for my monthly observances and probably also seasonal celebrations.

I have a Roman style oil lamp (reproduction) that I use, this was lit:

Brigantia, mother of the flame, may I pray with a good fire
Brigantia, mother of the flame, may I sacrifice well


a single white candle I have had for a few years and light only at this time was then lit from the central Briganti flame;

Into the eye of the first one did Taranis blow life,
the frost in the bones of the land melts away,
the flesh of the land flushes with life
as the blood of the oceans runs hot on the shore


from the central flame some incense was lit;

Brigantia of the flame,
weave our words into your veil, bear it aloft;
to Taranis the sky father
to the Grey Mare on the hill
and to the Lord in the Wave

Bride of our hearth
Bless this place
With warmth
With shelter
With fire that burns for us.

Bride of our streams
Of wells and water courses
Asperge our land
With rain
With dew.

Bride of the candles
Lit for your remembrance
Bright be your blessings
As the Sun climbs higher
In his Winter rising.

Bride of our company
Of links and friendship
Across Brigantia, the isles
Of your people:
Veil us within the bounds of belonging.


Some honeyed and warmed milk was then poured into a bowl which had some dark rum in it;

Briganti; I offer this milk, as it is right for me to do so

a steamed bun was then placed in a bowl at the altar;

Briganti; I offer this food, as it is right for me to do so

a little of the steamed bun was burned in the flame.

Then I did the triple toast, something shared with the other members of Brython in the same manner and at the same time.