Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Gwyn ap Nudd, the Dead and the Koryos

This is a tough review to write; the book in question which I briefly mentioned before, is a fat, academic text which covers a metric shit-load of information in a particularly dense manner. There are years of work in here, so to pull it all out and present it is way beyond what I can do in this blog. Particularly as my work is with science texts, which tend to be a bit less dense and shorter than this when in the primary literature, working on humanities monographs like this is a big jump for me.

Everything below is either lifted directly from the text or is paraphrased by myself directly from the text. It captures the core of the thesis put forward; though I need to point out that all the points are well fleshed out with textual evidence and are better supported than my flat out statements here.

_______

Among the Indo-Europeans had a prevailing attitude; their dead are honoured ancestors, but they are more; they are the Immortals, in whom the life-force, the divine spark, is far more potent and efficacious as they are no longer mortal.

At some point before puberty, young boys were taken away from the village and training in fighting skills and the lore of their people and initiated into the world of men. They would be the scouts, the guerilla fighters; highly mobile bands of ecstatic warriors who would fling themselves first into the fray. These bands are the Koryos.  In joining the koryos, he would have been initiated and undergone a ritual death, he would then belong to the dead ancestors, to the Immortals.

At certain festivals associated with the dead, these bands would become the dead; ecstatic or possessed, masked or painted with ash or gypsum. As the dead they care about their descendants and make visitations to guard the order which they themselves established. In every land where the koryos appears; they are responsible for social and civic order. The dead require devotion; they must be fed and offered drink and so when the Koryos come to town they must be propitiated. The ancestors also bring blessings, fertility and as such are welcomed even though their arrival also brings chaos.
There is a strong association of dogs and wolves (indistinguishable in IE cultures and therefore interchangeable) with dead, the dead and with warriors. We find this association in later myths regarding the Wild Hunt. There is also archaeological evidence of midwinter sacrifices of dogs from the IE heartlands; possibly indicating the sacrifice formed part of the initiation rituals of the young men into the Koryos.

In several of the IE daughter peoples we have evidence of ecstatic armed dancers. The origins of these weapon dancers certainly lie in the training-in-arms of the youthful warrior band. Since these were cultic warriors; everything they did was religious.
The Koryos (the youth outsider) is everything the teuta (the man in society) is not; he has no land, no cattle, no wife, no weapon (figuratively speaking), he has no clan; he is a true outsider and lives in the woods, hunting and living off the land in total opposition to those people living as part of the social order in the village. This opposition between wood and village is a very IE thing. The boundary between the two is invested with social and religious significance. Forest, hunting, cattle herding (and rustling) and young men go together all over Indo-Europa.

Ancestor-cult and the cult of the dead are often closely bound up with youth-consecration, and with this, as well, all the magical practices that are supposed to promote rain, sunshine, and growth. The close coherence between worship of the dead and vegetation rites are universally known. The consecrated members of the koryos and immortal and are one with the spirits of the dead.
The connection with wolves and dogs is integral and deeply interwoven with the koryos; this gets stated again and again.


 _______

I firmly believe that Gwyn ap Nudd is the god who has taken the mantle of the Koryonos; the god of the Koryos.


Originally the Wild Hunt was an actual religo-magical practice; of the Koryos coming amongst the people of the village from the woods to bring the various blessings and to integrate the forest and town for a time as a single extended family. Over time, this practice was lost and became mythical with the leader remaining, the association with hounds, huntsmen and horses being retained. In Gwyn we also find echoes of his role of ruling or guarding over the dead with the andedion and the later stories of the ‘faeries’.

Because it is such an important condensate of the text, here is the previous blogasm quote again:

When we look for the god of the *koryos we will do well to keep in mind these words of Gernet: "in general, in ancient cults, it is not the personality of the god which is the point of departure, is from the cult itself that the god derives his being." (Gernet 192) In our case, we will be looking for associations with war, death, the wolf and the dog, with ecstatic states, with initiations and the winter solstice, and, where these do not coincide, with the changing year. We will expect him to share the ambiguity of the *koryos itself and to appear sometimes good, sometimes evil, and always at least potentially dangerous.



Reference

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Ridgeway

For a few years I  have wanted to walk the Ridgeway; an 87 mile path along the South Downs from Invighoe Beacon in the West of England across to West Kennet in Wiltshire. An 87 mile trek along a ridge of chalk highland into which the White horses have been carved. At Brigantica this year, I promised Epona-Rigantona I would do this as something for Her.

And so it was that last Tuesday morning I set off; rucksack, pop-up tent and as little as I thought I could get by with on my back and I made a start. I took a train just beyond Reading and walked the 4km along the road and up the flank of the Downs to reach the point where the Ridgeway crosses the road and my journey begins. It was a relief to get to the trackway, not only because the hill up to it is a pig to walk up, but also because the feel underfoot was totally different from tarmac; much more comfortable. I had a set of ‘prayer beads’ I had made in the preceding days in my pack so fished them out and hung them from my waistband as something to have to hand, make use of and in somehow mark this journey out as different and not for my own purposes.

I spent the next 3 days in that landscape; flanked by cow parsley, birdsong and for the larger part serenaded by skylarks and awed by views of mile upon mile of Downland and the Vale of the White Horse. I walked as far as the Uffington White Horse that first day and did it way faster than I would have expected, so I got to spend 3 hours before it started to darken sat atop that hill gazing across the reddening land, watching crows fly, red kites circle and just exist in a landscape of sunshine, bird and insect life and do so upon that spot where She was carved into the chalk. I spent the night in Uffington castle; the Iron Age fort atop the hill the horse is carved into. As I was putting up my tent (hurrah for pop-up tents) I saw what I think is the third hare of my life, making its way up to the summit of the hillside – the same hare I also saw the next morning when taking down my tent, as it made the same journey summitward. It wasn't the most comfortable night of sleep and I was up by 5am, pack on my back and again on the Ridgeway track headed towards Wayland’s Smithy.





This long barrow sits in a glade of beech trees and was cool, quiet and peaceful at 6am. It seemed appropriate to walk sun wise circuit of the glade before moving on again. The track from where  I joined the Ridgeway, along to the horse and beyond Wayland’s Smithy that day was the part of the walk that felt the most exhilarating; swathed in cow parsley on either side and with a distinct white spine of chalk to walk upon – like walking along the back of Rigantona herself. At the end of day two the track changes; less chalk and more human activity, I had to cross more roads (admittedly little more than tarmacked lanes). It was on day two that the most unpleasant experience occurred; I had spent a few hours walking along a much more wooded part of the Ridgeway as it eventually meets – and crosses – the M4. Approaching and crossing over 6 lanes was horrific; the noise, the movement, the sudden return to civilisation. It was a blessing to get past it and head up the hill to Liddington castle. From there it was more field side walking  and more chalky downland until Avebury.

I spent the following day at Avebury; walking down to Swallowhead spring and across the field between the stone circle and the monuments just South of it.


It is difficult to say if this journey was a spiritual experience; I had no grand revelations, didn't meet any gods (the only dream I recall from sleeping above the White Horse involved me and my current boss trying to fly a space shuttle and not doing very well). In terms of spending time alone, walking amongst greenery and the frothy white of late spring, being serenaded all day by sky larks or escorted by circling red kites; it was a spectacular experience which makes me want to go back out there and walk other parts of the Ridgeway. Spending time like this away from people and the buzz of life in London – is more important than a fortnight in the sun (although I had splendid weather and caught the sun a bit), it’s a tonic for the mind, body and soul. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Hunt, The Wolf, The Boundary and the Dead


A month or so ago I bit the bullet and splashed out and bought a monograph off of Amazon. I had come across the reference in a couple of papers whilst researching the Wild Hunt and after seeing it mentioned in a context that was increasingly interesting and which was tying together several strands into a single, exciting whole.

It was one of those books which had me buzzing with excitement within the first chapter; not only did it clarify some things I had come across but also linked together differing strands in a way that really paints a picture of the Wild Hunt, it’s mythic origin from within the Indo-European culture and seriously fleshes out both of these in a ritual, religious and cultural practice. It also lays out some neat ideas about the role of the Männerbünde and the dead/the ancestors.

I am going to have to do a proper essay on this whole subject, suffice to say the Koryos (the IE term for the pan-IE youth contingents) and the god of the Koryos; the Koryonos can be given a place in practice today in some form or another.

A really, really nice quote for now to leave you with:


When we look for the god of the *koryos we will do well to keep in mind these words of Gernet: "in general, in ancient cults, it is not the personality of the god which is the point of departure, is from the cult itself that the god derives his being." (Gernet 192) In our case, we will be looking for associations with war, death, the wolf and the dog, with ecstatic states, with initiations and the winter solstice, and, where these do not coincide, with the changing year. We will expect him to share the ambiguity of the *koryos itself and to appear sometimes good, sometimes evil, and always at least potentially dangerous.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A Reminder

I went back to west Wales this past week to spend some time with my family. It’s a small town on the far west coast; there is a single train line that runs into town 3 times a day. When I say single train line I mean that literally, only one train at a time can use it; there is a junction about 15 miles away up the line and when you get there you pick up the token to carry as you head to Fishguard and then hand it back when you go back east again. There is only one token, so no token, no passage; otherwise there would be a head on collision. 

I took the train back towards London this morning and spent my time gazing out of the window over the area I knew intimately but was seeing from a totally different perspective. I saw the back garden of the house I grew up in and saw the extension that has been built onto it. I went past my gran’s old house; the place I had spent every Saturday for the first 18 years of my life, along the train line we used to play on (eep) and on past the woods and river we used to play in as kids. Along the damp, boggy valleys I used to cycle through to go see my friends, the town and train line I used to walk along (eep! again) to get to the woods with my other friend to do our ‘pagan stuff’.

It was this bit that struck something in me.

There has been a lot of talk on the blogosphere, such as this. A narrative with a focus on the idea that we have been cut off, separated and disconnected from our gods and the land, by capitalism, Christianity or whatever you wish to blame.


I think that is wrong somewhat, I think it isn't that we have been cut off, more than we have forgotten. When I was 14 or and my friend and I started doing out pagan stuff we did what seemed obvious, we headed out of his town and went into the woods, always out on the hills, the woods or up on the Carnau near his farm. I think we instinctively know where to find the Gods, we instinctively know where they are waiting, where they are to be found and if and when we decide to hear them we know instinctively where to go to find them. We haven’t been cut off, we just need to remind ourselves.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Divinations

The other day, Sannion of House of Vines did a divination for me. I blogasmed the results soon after.

The divinations answered some questions I had and, more tellingly, made it clear that I lack any form or oracular means for divination at the moment. This has been on my mind and I have given thought to what I could adopt as an oracle to use alongside devotional work. 

Runes I have used before, like 15 years ago, and quite liked them at the time. I do though feel hesitant in using them as they fall outside my current cultural religious framework. I am not averse to things Scandinavian as it were, I just don’t currently worship or venerate any of those gods and taking a tool from that cultural/religious framework and slapping it into my own practice doesn't sit well with me. Ogham I just don’t like and Coelbren; no, just no fucking way. Tarot; I really struggle with remembering the meanings and making use of them.

This is where Sannion’s method comes into it – and I have blatantly and shamelessly adopted his method here – he uses dice and various Hellenic hymns (I think) to divine an answer.

Just to quickly mention the awenydd; they would go into trance and utter poetry from which meaning could be derived, so we have precedent in the ancient British cultures (hooray!) for poetry as a vehicle for oracular work.

So, I took certain poems that stood out to me as being meaningful and with the magic of excel created 200 odd lines of poetry with a mean of ‘divining’ a line from 3 rolled dice.
This evening whilst doing some other devotionals I asked Gwyn ap Nudd if monthly devotionals at the dark of the moon were an acceptable piece of praxis, his answer:

“As always, I have questions”

Taken on its own this was almost like we were having a conversation right there and then. So I rolled again to see what that question might be;

“The wren who stood upon the shoulder of a giant”
“Thy wanderings on Gwibir Vynyd”

At this point I was struggling to put these next two divinations into a context and get an interpretation (largely because I have no idea what Gwibir Vynyd means), so I asked for clarification and got;

“He will lead us to where the horizon ends”

This actually made things a lot clearer. My interpretation is that he will ask something of me – the devotionals perhaps – and in return, on my wanderings, he will lead me to where I need to be/want to be.

The wren thing I am not sure on, though I have my suspicions. Anyway, this was fascinating and worked out really, really well. I can see me definitely making use or oracular work if things continue like they have with this though given that the poetry in question is dedicated to and features Gwyn  I think future oracular work will be via him, of course making use of the old sage request:


Gwyn ap Nudd, you who are yonder in the forest, for love of your mate, permit us to enter your dwelling


I should note, the poetry I have used comes largely from "Enchanting the Shadowlands" by Lorna. As someone who is walking the path of the awenydd, it seemed entirely appropriate to use the poetic words dedicated to Gwyn as an oracle. So huge thanks to Lorna!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Awenydd

Again I find myself posting what other people are writing, in this case though it is important enough that it should be talked about.

Without getting into nonsense about ‘Celtic Shamans’ and other such things, the closest thing we had to an indigenous mystic in pre-Christian culture, and still have to an extent, are the awenydd. It isn't something I can see me doing, certainly not in the way Lorna is for instance; my journey is headed to a similar destination but a slightly different track.

So anyway, Lorna recently posted this piece, upon first glance it looked like a transcription into English of perhaps something from the conversation between Gwyn and Gwyddno. Then I noticed the text more closely and it became clear what it was.

As a broader community who don’t share a small space on the land as would have been the case X number of years ago, I think it is important that such matters as this get spread out and about and those of us who have some sort of relationship with the gods in question are obliged to pay attention. Were it the case that we lived in family or tribal groups still, these questions asked of us by one of our gods would have been unavoidable. Nowadays it isn't so much that we can’t avoid them, but more than it can be difficult to actually run into them.


Imagine the Old North. What can it be? Can you see it in this land, from your green hill across the marsh how the ordinary people saw it?
Can you see ravens in trees amongst the crows? Was it common enough for magpies?
Can you imagine the rumours of embittered warlords and honey-tongued bards who sung their praises? 
Can you taste weak beer or braggot? 
Do you feast on dog or wild boar?
Can you imagine living in a world where the animals speak? 
How will you learn their tongues? Will they lead you into their expanses?
Your books are filled with stories. Can you imagine the ones who got away? 
How their hearts beat on river-banks and they were pierced by spears as carrion birds circled? 
How the sleek otter swept into the depths and carried their death-cries to his young? 
Can you imagine what the ravens whispered in their thatched nest?
Can you imagine the chore of bringing peace to the battle-dead?
Where all the darkness of history wanders and I hold the spirits of Annwn back… can you imagine?

What can our poetry be? A sound, a scream, a panorama of the Old North in a beam of light?

The question that stands out to me is this; Do you feast on dog or wild boar? It is the question that asks about our place in society, where do we place ourself? Are we on the outside looking in, living in he wilder spaces and not conforming as we might be asked to. Are we living in the modern world? Are we living on the inside, looking out beyond the edge of our nice and tidy life and not really engaging with or fighting for that which is beyond the town limits.

Eating the dog is to be one of Gwyn's pack, one of the Wild hunt. Eating the boar; to be comfortable, part of the everyday. Living the comfortable modern life.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Oracle Answers

I recently had an opportunity to ask three questions of an oracle, the first two were easy to formulate, the third less so, hence it seems to be clutching somewhat.

Below are the questions, with the oracular answers and his interpretations

 1. Should I continue with future Grey Mare projects? 
6-3-5: It will be better for him who obeys.
6-5-3: Await the third harvest then return. 
2-3-1: Zeus would have made it an island had he wanted to. 
My interpretation: It looks like you're struggling with some of the details. Take a break and come back to it when you're refreshed - and this time bring others into it. You'll benefit from collaboration.
This to me seems very clear, and funnily enough was something like I was thinking about 30 minutes before reading the email of responses. I have in mind two further devotional anthologies to come after the Grey Mare on The Hill, though I am pretty sketchy on the detail and how I would want to do them. One would be on Gwyn ap Nudd and the other a more liturgical work based on the Brython material. Making them both much more collaborative would be a much better idea I agree.
 2. Am I on the right track with the 'Horse Sacrifice'? 
5-3-2: Honor Herakles as a god. 
3-6-2: Fulfill your vows to the gods. 
 6-6-4: Leave the temple, veil your heads, loose your robes, and cast behind you your great mother’s bones. 
My interpretation: You're close, but you're missing an essential detail which is more a matter of interpretation and categorization than anything else. It's important what you're doing - and because of that it's important to do it right. Make sure you have all of the ritual trappings, even if you don't fully understand why - purification in particular, both during and after, will be important. Also remember that what you are doing here is a foundation for greater things to come.
The matter of purification is what stands out here, not just the purification prior to ritual (bathing etc) but also because the sacrifice of a dog or wolf as purification was a central part of these widespread horse sacrifice rituals. This part I was having some trouble with and so was thinking of leaving that aspect out, now though I think this oracle is clear in that it needs to be incorporated somehow. The answer though is very heartening.


3. Am I seeing an actual connection between Gwyn and Mokkonos? 
5-1-3: He ran round, here and there.
3-6-2: You’ve lost your wits. 
3-5-6: If you had understood how to behave as you should have. 
4-5-6: Bacchic women acting modestly.
My interpretation: I think you got caught up in something, but it has no basis in reality. I think caution is called for - this kind of impetuousness could lead you to behave in an improper manner and forget who you are.

This also nails things on the head, my thoughts regarding a connection between Gwyn and Mokkonos can be laid to rest. I was clearly clutching and this has made me question what it was I was 'seeing' as a connection.

So onwards; the horse Sacrifice ritual is going to occupy my research for a while. perhaps it is time to go back and revisit the original sources and descriptions to get a fuller and refreshed understanding before I begin laying out plans or how it will be carried out.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Lupercalia

Yesterday, the 15th february marked the Roman festival of Lupercalia.

"The young men who were Luperci underwent a part of the ritual earlier in which the blood from the sacrificed goat and dog were mixed together, dabbed on their foreheads with a knife, and then wiped off subsequently with wool dipped in milk, signifying their transition from a lawless, wild state into a settled and civilized mode of life."


" The founders of Rome, the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, were raised by the Lupa (“she-wolf”) in the cave where this ritual took place, and in their lives after this, they were lawless hunter/raider warriors until their eventual foundation of the city."


These two passages taken from and article quoting P Sufenas Virius Lupus


After reading these and getting home from work, I dug out Dumezil's 'Mitra-Varuna' seeing as I can remember reading about the Luperci in that in relationship to two different yet complementary forms of sovereignty.


This counterpoint between the wild and outsider life and the civilised and societal life match up nicely with the Indo-European *koryos; the outsider youth contingents who have been posited are the forerunner to the Wild Hunt myths from across Europe. These *koryos have been found in a number of Indo-European derived cultures from India to Ireland and they also exist in mythic material from the same swathe of the Indo-European world.

The most relevant *koryos derived group is the Fianna of Fionn mac Cumhaill who nicely equates with our own Gwyn ap Nudd.

Now, what has also turned up I have found id that there is archaeological evidence of dog sacrifice and butchery from the Eurasia steppe which have been suggested were used as part of initiatory rites into a *koryos like group

“How are we to interpret this unique site?
Vedic texts refers to a group of sorcerers called ‘dog-priests’, Vrâtyas. They conducted a 12-day sacrificial ceremony at midwinter to heal nature and restore its vitality. In these texts the sacrificed victim was a cow. The winter-season ceremony at Krasnosamarskoe seems to have included both dogs and cattle. Several comparative mythologists  have suggested that this mid-winter sacrificial ceremony by dog- priests might be an ancient Indo-European one, reflected not just in Vedic myths, but also in the Roman Lupercalia, with its midwinter sacrifice of dogs; and the Scandinavian Twelve Nights of Christmas, originally a pagan festival during which the god Odin roars as a hunter through the forests with his dogs.”

Also mentioned is the process by which a boy is inducted into the world of the Indian equivalent of the *koryos; the Vratyas

“He studied with a teacher for 8 years, memorizing and reciting poetry among other tasks. As a mid-teenager he experienced a winter solstice ritual called the Ekastaka in which he ritually died to become a member of a roving warrior group, called the Vratyas. The midwinter ritual conveyed him to the world of his dead ancestors. He left the community of humans for four years to follow Rudra, the god of wildness and danger. Like Sigmund, he lived in the wild, painted his body black, and wore a black cape and a dog skin.”



There is a clear constellation here of the *koryos, the outsider group in society, dogs and dog sacrifice,  the Wild Hunt and also I think fertility.

The reason I am putting fertility into this comes partially from the Lupercalia rituals and also from the andedion (really nice article here ,also found on the Brython site. These are the spirits which appear to be the ‘demons of hell’ Gwyn rules over and contains, but who seem closely linked to chthonic spirits of fertility. Now, I am wondering if as the role of the *koryos diminished it became more of a mythic construct and the Koryonnos (god of the *koryos) and his Wild Hunt fulfilled the role of the original *koryos; an essential yet feared aspect to existence but essential in taking the 12 days around midwinter to chase off malign spirits and it some manner restore fertility to the land.

Will Parker's website with a very nice article on the andedion which inspired Lorna's linked articles can be found here.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Repost: Gwyn ap Nudd and the Old North

From Gwyn ap Nudd and the Old North

"Gwyn is a king of Annwn and is said to ‘contain’ (literally to hold within and to hold back) the fury of the spirits of Annwn. These are chthonic spirits, referred to today as ‘fairies, who play a role in mediating between this-world and the otherworld, the living and dead. Because of this intermediary role they have a deep concern for the land and the way we maintain our heritage. Their concerns are Gwyn’s."

Before now I haven't been one to repost from other people's blogs and point to them too much. That really need to change as there I so much good stuff being posted out there on subjects and Gods which are close to me. So go check out Lorna's blog post.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Gwyn and Boars

This is more a question really to throw something out there that has occurred to me.

I said something in a blogasm a couple of days ago about interaction with various gods being almost seasonal; waxing and waning with the changing year, notably Rigantona 'not being there' in winter months.

My strong impression is that Gwyn of the Mists is most strongly felt and 'abroad' as it were in winter. This is the same time of year I associate with Mokkonos and in many ways they have a lot of overlap with this time of year and suggestions of influence and power. It occurred to me this might be more than incidental, though beyond the boar leading St Collen to Gwyn's Caer below Glastonbury Tor there isn't much else linking Gwyn and boars.

So Lorna and anybody else who drops by; what is your feeling on the matter of Gwyn and boars?


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Brigantica



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.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Rigantona's Return

It has been ages since I have posted and now I find I have  plenty of words in me to get onto the screen.

Rigantona has begun to return to the land, and Her constellation is beginning to shine. I sat before my altar hearth a couple of weeks ago, offering hymns, cheese, bread and booze and it was the right time to make a promise. after a minute or two of ensuring I knew the enormity of what I was about to say, I made an oath to make a pilgrimage for Rigantona. At the end of May I am going to walk the 87 miles of the Ridgeway from east to west across the south of England along to top of the Downs; the chalk spine into which the great white horses are carved and shown off across hillsides. I want to also use the time to prepare devotional  material to Her; at night sleeping alongside Weyland’s Smithy or in the sun aside Her back. What comes from those 6 days living on her back remains to be seen, but whatever comes from it I want make available somehow. Which led me on to make another decision; I am going to have a go at compiling and publishing a devotional anthology to Rigantona, to Rhiannon, to Epona and the constellation of sovereignty, the land  and the horse.  So, I have set up a website and started putting out a call for submissions (take a look) with a view to combining existing Brython material, what I glean on my pilgrimage and whatever I get from other people in the way of submissions. The other thing about this project is that I want it to be a devotional work and plan on making a sacrifice of the first book printed and the rest to be offered at pretty much cost price to those who wish to buy it.

Threads

Gwyn ap Nudd

Gods on occasion turn up in your life. In my case with Gwyn.I was invited to attend a 2nd degree initiation with a coven that a former coven-mate and close friend has joined. I was then invited to go with them to a conference the following day for initiates in Stroud, obviously I went as they were a fantastic group of people. Part of the conference involved a talk with a pathworking and during that I kept getting hassled by a disembodied stags skull which would go away and kept floating into my field of vision. I pushed him away and it wasn't until later that he turned up again and made it clear who he was.  This wasn't the first time he was going to crop up in my life over the following months, including around the time I asked to join that coven too.

This winter everything has come together; threads in my own life, projects I have been researching, in other people’s lives and practices and all weaving together around Gwyn. 

Rigantona

I somewhat regularly travel westwards on the national rail line and every time make an event of seeing the White Horse on Uffington hill about 10 minutes before arriving at or passing through Swindon. Every time this happens - rain may clear, mists may lift and I can't recall ever missing seeing Her on that hill. In the run-up to Calan Gaeaf, I took a new step and joined with a new coven in Wiltshire which has meant travelling up that way every 2 weeks on that same train line past Uffington. I havent seen the White Horse a single time in the past 4 months and had a strong sense that for the time being - particularly over winter - she is away or not ‘there’. This isn't the first time I had had this impression; there is to me a distinct waxing and waning of the god’s presence in my life. and now, as the first bulbs start appearing and the days are perceptibly longer and lighter and the very land is beginning to return to life. Leading on to..

Apocalyptic Witchcraft

I mentioned this a post or two ago. I have gone back and begun reading the book again and this time I’m not quite so reactive to some of the things that set me on edge about it when I first read it. The core message I am taking out from it is one of environmentalism and working against the structures in place which aid degradation of the land which is so innately bound to the gods I worship. Any action I have been involved in before now has been either involvement with campaigns or ‘real world’ action, this book is really suggesting we as witches start taking steps in the ‘other’ ways we know of, because so far, not enough is being done. Which leads me on to..

The Wild Hunt

I don't recall why exactly, but the Wild Hunt is something I have been researching and trying to piece together in terms of pre-folkloric incarnations and relationship to the Gods. It was right as I was researching the Hunt that Gwyn started getting my attention and Gwyn as we know is one of the leaders of the Hunt. The triad of Gwyn, the Wild Hunt and  witchcraft are forming in my mind and for now I am seeing what light that constellation will shine. The time of the Hunt and Gwyn as it’s leader is coming to and and Gwyn will return to the forests, to the cave under the hill and that is where i am going to find him whilst the Mare is riding out.

The Charge of Gwyn ap Nudd

I am he who holds back the andedion,
only their grace falls upon these lands
I am he who rides out in midwinter,
clearing the way for spring.
I am he who wields the bloody spear,
my quarry shall fall to the ground
I lead the pack of the hounds of the otherworld
their howls drive out that which corrupts
I am he who holds their teeth at bay
only their gaze falls upon the hearts of man
I am he who drives out all that is foul
and casts it into the pits of Annwn
I am he who sweeps clean the canvas
so that fresh strokes may be laid down
I am he who strikes down the hawthorn
and lays in it’s place the black thorns
the thorns that drink the blood
of the weak, the malign and the unjust
my horns drive those who would seek you harm
and till the soil afresh

I am the glint upon the spear
the breath within the horn
the rush within the blood
the sweat upon the brow
the thunder of the hooves
and the lust within the heart
I am the fear in every bone
the chase within each fibre
and the pounding  of hooves upon the turf
I am the dodge and turn, the swift race and the bounding escape
The rut, the hunt and the ending of life are mine and all come from me. 
each stag, each doe and each fawn are under the sweep of my spear 
and each to become upon its tip