Sunday, 31 July 2011

To the Lugoves...


I'm currently at the arse end of my annual-ish chest infection, just left with a cold. I think it has only been about 9 months since the last one but this will probably be gone in less than a week as opposed to the last one which hung about in my respiratory system for 3 weeks.

Oh well :)

Thanks to A.N. For a nifty new term: locavore. Certainly succinct. The blackberries keep on coming – wine, jelly and lots of crumble on the horizon – the damsons are about ready and I did at least get some plums (someone beat me to them), enough to make a huge apple, plum and blackberry crumble for 6 of us. More to come with that obviously so I will just blogasm something when it happens.

The other nice step towards self sufficiency arrives over the next 3 weeks; Chickens!! at long last I will be getting me three pretty girls to turn veg scraps into eggs (with proper layers ration of course alongside the fresher food). I have a decent sized coop and run coming an they will get the run of the garden whilst we are home. The only risk is that foxes from the graveyard behind us – seen them, heard them – find a way in though I do doubt it as the fences around the garden are damn high. We shall see, maybe something to warn them off; bones most likely and something wtiha rather large 'fuck off Mr Fox' imprinted in it.

Anyway, onto something a bit more substantial – not sure I will get all this done as I am leaking snot like you wouldn't believe right now.

There are two things about Lugus that stand out:

Ravens; I think the imagery associated with him from contemporary statuary suggest he is associated with them which is kinda cool as it ties him in nicely with Woden/Odin. They are both local variations on the same Indo-European god-form, something that offers some interesting insight in itself. Corvids in general has significance for me, nothing I can put my finger on, they just do. When I hear them making a racket in the trees above me or when I see them on the foot a few feet away from my window feeding one of their rather tubby fledglings; these things are beyond the normal. Raven though stand out among them, they aren’t common in London – Tower of London aside – and it is usually the throaty croaking that gives them away. The last time I saw one was in the Gwaun Valley back home when myself and my sister were pootling about in graveyards trying to track down ancestors, I say saw, in fact I head the croak drifting across the damp leafy valley and saw nothing at all. That was enough.

Then there is the tricephaly; this bit screams out at me as being important, especially when taken with the occurrence of inscriptions to him being addressed not as to Lugus, but the 'Lugoves' the 'Luguses'. This to me indicates a couple of possibilities;

'Lugus' wasn't a single god but three, three brothers or gods who brought all the skills and arts to man, who taught man all it is that we call culture. A niggling little voice says they are Ambaxtonos, Gobannos and a third... maybe the magician Wetionos. (Compare with the three mabinogion brothers Amaethon, Gofannon and Gwydion). Which of course also raises the possibility of introducing Dumezilian trifunctionalism; a God, or triumvirate of them fulfilling all three functions in one.

If not this then it is possible he was simply a very powerful god, with a huge range of influence.

The statue of Lugus with his three faces stands out, I have seen this image before, something hat came into my head when thinking about Lugus and in his three functions; all sharing a single pair of eyes. This to me says it was very much an emphasis on them being three in one. If I get my ass in gear and make a start on some statuary Lugus is the first I will attempt, something incorporating this three faces but 2 eyes and the three functions of farmer/craftsman, blacksmith/warrior and magician.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Grave Goods


I had been meaning to go for a walk in the graveyard behind the house for a while; the weather has either been piss poor, I have either been busy or it has been closed by the time I get home from work. So, today was ideal; it has been raining all day so as soon as it broke it went out hoping to be one of the only people about as I was bound to attract attention – prying people would receive a very plausible story.


The main intention was to look for blackberries and other possible fruits and harvestables and to get a better idea of the lie of the land and what grows there. I have found my 'gateway'; two beech saplings that form a natural pair of pillars soon after walking through the gates down one of the wooded paths. They stand out from the rest of the wooded areas to the point that it seems they were planted intentionally. From now on they will form the starting point and the place offings and libations are placed – they also happen to be in a place which is likely to be frequented by other people. Oh well.

I managed about 800g of blackberries this time even though it is a little early. The net few weeks should see a huge glut of them – what I collected was dwarfed by what was still green. The whole place is a blackberry paradise which is going to necessitate a visit each week. I also found what are either 2 large damson or small plum trees near to some of the best elder trees. Either way, that’s a lot more fruit I will be gathering. There is also plenty of Dog Rose for hips in a month of two.

The other less gastronomic purpose was two fetch 2 bramble canes; about a foot long and fairly thin and flexible. Whether a gut feeling of some sort of communication between me and Rubus, I have a purpose in mind and I am not sure I like it. Rubus is going to be helping me to cross. It will be doing this when I am wearing two ankle bands made from the canes. They will need some trimming down and fitting of sorts but the thorns will stay on – that is the price. I am interested to give this a go – it seems far too barking an idea to come up with on my own and what I have going on with brambles lately – they want to be involved and this is step 1.

so tonight, the first handful of berries will be offered to Rigantona along with apple resin incense and a similar offering to the canes of last years Elder Rob.

I must be out of my bloody mind.




* * * * *
update...


Well, the 'apple' tree resin doesn't work. It smells of burning caramel and puffs up like popcorn - almost to the point of popping and showering hot resin everywhere. Nice experiment - interesting perfume but I dont think it is something I will make much more use of.


Another idea - the dog-rose bridle on Mary has gotten a big thumbs up. I sat at one point, visualising the skull as it will be when finished, nestled between my hands and felt as if i were being dragged across right there and then - the most incredible surge went up my arms, it was almost overwhelming, definitely the ecstasy I want. It was a proper nipple-tightening experience.


This is something I need to move on with as soon as possible.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Solanaceae

It is about time I got around to writing this one.

I am not a botanist by training, interest yes in the sense I am a nerd for natural history as a whole, though palaeontology has been what has turned me on most. So ending up working on taxonomy projects in the herbarium at Kew has certainly been... different. The first family I have been working on is the Rosaceae (a bloody huge family) and fortuitously the first two big genera (some small ones in between) have been Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches and all their wild relatives) and Rubus (brambles, raspberries and the other cane fruits). I have spent probably 6-8 weeks on each of these genera and spent my time looking at specimens from all over the world and dozens of species of each – in both cases developing a much greater understanding of each and a kind of 'closeness' I didn’t expect. I simply can't walk past wild brambles and blackberries these days without acknowledging what they are. Normally I am interested in them in the sense of knowing they will be providing me food at some point in the future, now though it is as if I have come to know them in some way more than I have before and am on the edge of something else in a relationship with them. I think I know what comes next so will have to keep you updated.

The next family I will be working on will be the Passifloraceae; passion flowers and the like. Something I know has ethnogenic use. I know where there is a good source of Passiflora and so will be making some forays into the magical and ethnobotanical use of this plant.

Which leads me to the main bulk of this blogasm; the Solanaceae. This is another family I have an acquaintance with and have been quick to put my name down for when this family comes up to work on. It is such an odd family; on one have we have some of our most well know agricultural crops; potatoes, tomatoes, peppers etc and on the other we have Henbane, the Nightshades and Mandrake; all with very different potential to their family.

I have had some luck growing Mandrake in the past and have seeds to have another go this autumn, likewise Henbane. I also have datura seeds and a nice supply of woody nightshade which will be gracing the back garden next spring. Now that I have a garden again and am unlikely to be moving house in the near future I want to have something of a collection of interesting plants; interesting not only because they can be smoked/rubbed on, but also because of their associations and looks. Woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara ) has some seriously pretty flowers and the greatest 'eat me' berries out there (don’t, obviously). Birds eat and spread the seed with impunity but to humans the effects of eating the berries can be disastrous though not as bad as eating the leaves which contain far more of the active toxin Solanine.

Beyond the botanical interest and the aesthetic interest in this family I am also interested in the magical aspect of working with them. Henbane especially as it seems that the associations with Belenus are not as iffy as I originally thought. Considering that Lugus-Belenus is a deity with whom I am actively working on developing a devotional relationship with this plant is going to be interesting. Obviously now that I want to find the reference I cant... if I recall correctly Henbane was known in Gaulish as the 'herb of Belenus' (Belinimica I think it was), in much the same way as it was known as Apollo's oracular herb. The logic in my mind is to experiment with burning Henbane on charcoal and see what it effects may be.

Does this seems a bit mental? A bit too drug happy?

Maybe it does. I have a rather relaxed attitude to most drugs; I have tried everything I was offered (bar the filthy stuff like heroin or meth obviously) and can see the value in them for various purposes. I haven’t taken anything other than alcohol in a number of years and have safety in mind for when these experiments get going; start small and make sure someone is about who knows what I am doing should it all go tits up.

So anyway, I have dug out some of my old books from the boxes and been poring over them again familiarising myself with that information I will need and how best to approach these plants.

I am beginning to ramble a bit now.. it is getting late. Suffice to say that a working relationship with various plants is on the cards either as a result of direct intention or a side effect of my work.

Those brambles keep calling... asking to be brought home... telling me 'they will get what they want and fuck anyone who gets in their way'.

The dog rose in the garden wants to be a bridle; wrapped about the skull of Mary, it wants to work there, to be there to help to draw blood depending on who has a mind to seize hold of the reigns of Rigantona.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Resins


I took the tube home today, for a change. The outer stations of the London Underground are above ground and tend to be quite nice places. The one at Kew Gardens is pretty good as tube stations go. I was stood on the platform by one of the trees they have and noticed the resin on it. So, a furtive pick at it and I have 4 small chunks of amber and clear resin in my bag. I'm not sure what species it was – it has been pruned and was cut right back – though it was probably an apple of some sort or similar. It is definitely one of the Rosaceae and not one of the stone fruits (Prunus spp.), that much I have picked up working on those very genera at work. So, all of a sudden I find I want to go looking for more resins to burn and experiment with. I will be back at the Kew tube trees again, possibly even the fruit trees in the gardens themselves.


To the Matres of this home..


I have been horribly remiss of late with my monthly devotions, so much so I am a good 3 days late with my household cult observances. I have excuses but none really hold up when it comes down to it. I hope that one of today's offerings was sufficient contrition.

I have blogasmed a bit before about the initial ideas for household cult observances and stick to this format pretty much. This time though words were said in thanks to Taranis and a few words offered to Lugus.

This devotional is strange, I can only describe it as making me feel incredibly 'comfortable' with what I do and say. No streaming lights from the heavens, no chills up my spine... just incredibly at ease and 'home' with what I do. I guess that is a good thing all things considered.


The key part of this was burning some resin i acquired from a Wollemia pine. They are pretty cool trees; thought extinct since the Jurassic until rediscovered. Seriously in trouble in the wild but pretty successfully cultivated in 'captivity'. N has one on her land and it has been getting on fine - hence the seeping a little resin which I will see about taking a small amount of when I can. It smells much like frankincense though a little less citrus. You can smell the 'specialness' to it :)


The first harvest of pretty red spring onions, home-made cherry jam and some milk; for Briganti and the Matres of the home.

I promise, tomorrow perhaps I will get on to the blood and Solanaceae blogasms.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Progress Report


I don’t really have much in terms of long coherent blogasming to do at the moment, so I think I will regale you with some snippets.

Last week we had some of the hottest days in years in the UK, it was hot as hell, humid and sticky. Bloody fucking horrible to put it bluntly. On several occasion I think crossed my mind to offer something to Taranis to set his sons out rampaging and bring us one almighty storm to clear the air, and on the walk home through the gardens at work I spotted a superb Bean Goose feather (we have them living and breeding in the gardens on the various ponds and lakes. A lovely goose feather to asperge to Taranis. It now sits on my altar and will be incorporated into my cosmos.

Things on the allotment have been going well, even more broccoli and the onions are doing well, I even have real and actual beans! They just need a little bit more time to fatten up. Radish and salad leaves in the garden are coming on well and soon I should start having all I need of those for the coming months with proper successional planting in action.

Mary the horse has come back home at last from her year outdoors seasoning and cleaning. Soon I will give her a good clean, whiten and redden the lower jaw before making a veil for her.

I think it deserves a longer post really, but I have been in a situation to make use of blood again in my work. In this case, it stems from wearing sandals again on those aforementioned bloody hot days. I ended with a sodding huge patch of my upper foot worn raw. The next day with socks on (and boots, I would never wear socks with sandals I promise) it seems the scab has welded itself into the cotton. Roll on bedtime when I whip off my sock to have it wrench off the scab, some skin and hair. Serious bloody pain. Serious bloody foot. In fact there was a remarkable amount of deep red blood slowly running out over my foot. Slightly unusually my first instinct was to reach for a holed chunk of flint and chalk I have on my altar and blood it well. I have done this before on one occasion and probably a couple other times over the years. It feels like the right thing to do on occasion, the stone has meaning and purpose. Perhaps it is something best dealt with on it's own and properly. Maybe later when the seeds have been planted and the cherry and balsamic jam is bottled.

Oh, one last thing... it looks like I will be working on the Solanaceae at work in a few months time. I am quite looking forward to this for a couple of reasons, intellectual, agricultural and … well, unorthodox. Maybe it is something else I should hold off and do a proper post on.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Harvest


This is a new one for me; I am looking forward to Lugus’ feast for the first time in as long as I can remember.  Perhaps this is because I will be making an actual harvest, a harvest in terms of taking those which I have grown and fretted over – never before has my first thought upon seeing rain fall been;  ‘cool, the veggies will be getting a drink’.  I have already harvested my carrots and the rest of the broccoli will be coming out in the next few days and the onion harvest will be a week or two away. I have been incredibly lucky with my allotment in general (although the beans went a bit squiffy), with virtually no pest damage (the Cabbage White Butterflies literally only turned up the day I was harvesting the bulk of the broccoli) and superb weather for it (lots of sun, occasional rain) so am incredibly grateful for that.

Back in the day when I was digging over the allotment prior to planting I made libations to Ambactonos and offered him hymns at the four corners of the allotment. Some of my first harvests were offered to him. As the onions start coming up and he beans hopefully start producing I will be making another offering of thanks and libations as the ground is dug over and made ready for next year.

A few weeks after that I will be looking to take advantage of the wild harvest; elderberries, blackberries, a wild pear tree some friends have in their garden which they don’t want to eat from plus whatever I can find that is edible or inedible but of use in the coming year.



With all this harvest I will be freezing, drying, pickling and jamming – those skills about the homes that fall under the crafts of Lugus and Briganti. And that I think is where he comes into it; the many skilled, the deft handed, the one who guides the hand when turned to something.

I am beginning to see him as a god of culture, of civilisation, of those things which have allowed us to gather, prepare and preserve and set aside in order to survive the coming winter.  All those things which will come to the fore over the coming weeks and months and for that, for tapping into that stream and paddling into it for a while I will be offering my thanks and making my libations.

Yes, for the first time in a long time this coming feast holds meaning and promise and a little hint of excitement.