Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem (In Modern English)


Wealth is a comfort to all men; yet must every man bestow it freely, if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.

The aurochs is proud and has great horns; it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns; a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.

The thorn is exceedingly sharp, an evil thing for any knight to touch, uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

The mouth is the source of all language, a pillar of wisdom and a comfort to wise men, a blessing and a joy to every knight.

Riding seems easy to every warrior while he is indoors and very courageous to him who traverses the high-roads on the back of a stout horse.

The torch is known to every living man by its pale, bright flame; it always burns where princes sit within.

Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one's dignity; it furnishes help and subsistence to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.

Bliss he enjoys who knows not suffering, sorrow nor anxiety, and has prosperity and happiness and a good enough house.

Hail is the whitest of grain; it is whirled from the vault of heaven and is tossed about by gusts of wind and then it melts into water.

Trouble is oppressive to the heart; yet often it proves a source of help and salvation to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.

Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery; it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems; it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.

Summer is a joy to men, when God, the holy King of Heaven, suffers the earth to bring forth shining fruits for rich and poor alike.

The yew is a tree with rough bark, hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots, a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.

Peorth is a source of recreation and amusement to the great, where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall.

The Eolh-sedge is mostly to be found in a marsh; it grows in the water and makes a ghastly wound, covering with blood every warrior who touches it.

The sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers when they journey away over the fishes' bath, until the courser of the deep bears them to land.

Tiw is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes; it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.

The poplar bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers, for it is generated from its leaves. Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned its lofty crown which reaches to the skies.

The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors. A steed in the pride of its hoofs, when rich men on horseback bandy words about it; and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless.

The joyous man is dear to his kinsmen; yet every man is doomed to fail his fellow, since the Lord by his decree will commit the vile carrion to the earth.

The ocean seems interminable to men, if they venture on the rolling bark and the waves of the sea terrify them and the courser of the deep heed not its bridle.

Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes, till, followed by his chariot, he departed eastwards over the waves. So the Heardingas named the hero.

An estate is very dear to every man, if he can enjoy there in his house whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.

Day, the glorious light of the Creator, is sent by the Lord; it is beloved of men, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor, and of service to all.

The oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men. Often it traverses the gannet's bath, and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps faith in honourable fashion.

The ash is exceedingly high and precious to men. With its sturdy trunk it offers a stubborn resistance, though attacked by many a man.

Yr is a source of joy and honour to every prince and knight; it looks well on a horse and is a reliable equipment for a journey.

Iar is a river fish and yet it always feeds on land; it has a fair abode encompassed by water, where it lives in happiness.

The grave is horrible to every knight, when the corpse quickly begins to cool and is laid in the bosom of the dark earth. Prosperity declines, happiness passes away and covenants are broken.



The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem (In Modern English)
http://www.ragweedforge.com/rpae.html

Monday, 20 March 2017

Musings on the Witch Hunts of the Early Modern Period


The month of March and the lead up to the Spring Equinox has been eventful, although not as eventful or as busy as it should have been. The first few days of the month were bright, surprisingly warm and teased us with the prospect of the warmer spring. This proved to be a rouse on the part of the weather Gods, as the weather would again turn cold mid-month. This hot and cold start of the month has been our year so far, with events and activities planned, some manifesting and successful, others less so.

In 2016 we in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel made the conscious decision to spread our wings a little more, to attend events and hold our own private moots. Attendance at the latter has been steady but not impressive. This year we took the step of editing our public listing on Witchvox and stating for the first time publicly, that we are actively recruiting.

This results of our more public movements have been mixed and surprisingly of some note. Early in the month of March this year, I was emailed by two students at New College in Nottingham. The students are on a BTEC film course and seeking to make a short (two minute) documentary on the Witch Hunt, sought an interview with a member of the Pagan community.

Since their available dates corresponded with my own annual leave I was pleased to step forward, agreeing to meet them in Nottingham on Tuesday 7th, a surprisingly warm and bright day at first. I met the two young people, one male and one female, both exceptional polite and good natured, near the lions on the market place and we then went for a bite to eat. Over a sandwich and a cup of tea I fielded questions and explained my own position in greater detail than the emails we had exchanged.

Although I am far from being an expert on the period of the Witch Hunts, I do have some knowledge of the matter and the advantage of being aware of the many pitfalls associated with this often controversial subject. These pitfalls are perpetuated in many poorly researched books and on websites innumerable.


The early modern period that is considered to include the Witch Hunts, is a time of great complexity and is therefore, difficult to fully understand. It is certainly true to say that the three centuries generally described as the period of the Witch Hunt has influenced our current historical perspective but our interpretation of that period is often misunderstood and characterised by gross misinformation.

The Witch Hunts today, looked on separately from the medieval period of religious disharmony that included the persecutions of the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade, are generally ascribed to have begun in the fifteenth century and ended in the seventeenth. The general dates suggested being 1450 to 1750 approximately.

A cursory search of the less academically credible works and websites, soon results in the usual spurious claims, that there was a systematic persecution of women, that there was a deliberate attempt to wipe away residual Pagan survivals, that nine million people perished and that witches were habitually burnt.

These claims are shown once more credible sauces are accessed, such as the classic Robin Biggs 1998 work, ‘Witches and Neighbours: the Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft,’ to be either untrue or barely half true. There is no evidence of a systematic persecution of women, even though women were considered to carry the sin of Eve, be more susceptible to temptation and therefore (un)naturally gifted at sorcery. If there had been such a planned extermination, our species would not have survived.

The destruction of residual Pagan belief is highly questionable, as the period of mass conversion in Europe was over by approximately 500 years. Rather what we actually witness, is a continuation of the heretical persecutions of the medieval period and the development of the religious wars between Catholic and Protestant.

The claims of nine million dead are easily dismissed on two points, first of all the European populations could not have sustained the loss of three million people per century, on top of the losses already accrued through war, famine and plague. To put it simply and using England and Wales with a population constant of four million, from the late medieval period to the Industrial Revolution as an example, there was not enough people to kill.

Secondly, in the late twentieth century historians looking at this period in far greater detail than previously and examining court records, have come up with a probable figure of fifty thousand people executed for witchcraft (but not specifically heresy) during those three centuries, with an upper estimate of one hundred and fifty thousand. Allowing for mob justice, that is the unrecorded and illegal executions of the European peasantry, there is an increase in the figure to one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand over the course of those three centuries. However, it is important to note that amongst historians, the lower figures are regarded as the more credible based on the evidence. Even if we allow or accept the unlikely upper estimate of three hundred thousand, we will note the huge discrepancy when compared with the fanciful estimate of three million.

The Witch Hunts are as many will know, often known as the Burning Times. This is something of a misnomer, although there is evidence to support claims that condemned witches were burnt, it is necessary to offer the caveat that the method of execution varied from state to state. In England witches were hung and heretics burnt. On continental Europe, it could be either mode of execution for either crime but burning was not necessarily the method of choice.

This I was able to freely expound to the students, who were most impressed with my encyclopaedic memory. The information presented was equally challenging, as their research was as expected, not as in depth as my own. Amusingly, it was noted that I was not what they expected. Well my attire did include a cravat, a jumper and a tweed jacket. Perhaps they expected me to turn up in black velvet and dripping with silver pentacles, I’m really not sure.

We moved on to Victoria Park, passing the lion tomb of William Abednego Thompson. Known simply as Bendigo, he is a legend in Nottingham, a Victorian bare knuckle boxer and national champion. Finding a comfortable seat I was interviewed straight to camera and attempted to answer the very simple questions to the best of my ability, before being allowed to recap our earlier conversation from memory. It has to be said, I think I did a better job in the cafĂ©, comfortable and warm, than I did later in the park. It is hoped that the documentary, once completed will be available via the New College website or YouTube. Then people will be able to judge my performance for themselves.

The experience has however, led me to look at the matter in more detail than I have done for many years. There are important questions that still need to be asked. Why when there is such a wealth of historical evidence pertaining to the period of the Witch Hunts, are such fabricated lies (such as those outlined above), still available and believed? Why do so many members of the Pagan and Witchcraft community, including many authors, perpetuate the misinformation?

I can’t address that but it still leaves a question, hanging unanswered. Why is it easier to believe a lie than to accept the truth?



Monday, 13 March 2017

JOHN O’ GAUNT’S SPEECH - THIS ENGLAND


This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.


William Shakespeare: Richard II (Act II Scene I)

Saturday, 11 March 2017

JOHN O’ GAUNT’S SPEECH FROM RICHARD II BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE


Methinks I am a prophet new inspired,
And thus expiring do foretell of him:
His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last,
For violent fires soon burn out themselves;
Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short;
He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes;
With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder:
Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.


This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.


This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son,
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm.


England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege,
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.


Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!

William Shakespeare: Richard II (Act II Scene I)



Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Song of Songs (excerpt from canticle 2)



My beloved spake and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.


The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.


The Song of Songs (excerpt)


Friday, 3 February 2017

The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1797)


That old sorcerer has vanished
And for once has gone away!
Spirits called by him, now banished,
My commands shall soon obey.
Every step and saying
That he used, I know,
And with sprites obeying
My arts I will show.


Flow, flow onward
Stretches many
Spare not any
Water rushing,
Ever streaming fully downward
Toward the pool in current gushing.
Come, old broomstick, you are needed,
Take these rags and wrap them round you!
Long my orders you have heeded,
By my wishes now I've bound you.
Have two legs and stand,
And a head for you.
Run, and in your hand
Hold a bucket too.


Flow, flow onward
Stretches many,
Spare not any
Water rushing,
Ever streaming fully downward
Toward the pool in current gushing.
See him, toward the shore he's racing
There, he's at the stream already,
Back like lightning he is chasing,
Pouring water fast and steady.
Once again he hastens!
How the water spills,
How the water basins
Brimming full he fills!


Stop now, hear me!
Ample measure
Of your treasure
We have gotten!
Ah, I see it, dear me, dear me.
Master's word I have forgotten!
Ah, the word with which the master
Makes the broom a broom once more!
Ah, he runs and fetches faster!
Be a broomstick as before!
Ever new the torrents
That by him are fed,
Ah, a hundred currents
Pour upon my head!


No, no longer
Can I please him,
I will seize him!
That is spiteful!
My misgivings grow the stronger.
What a mien, his eyes how frightful!
Brood of hell, you're not a mortal!
Shall the entire house go under?
Over threshold over portal
Streams of water rush and thunder.
Broom accurst and mean,
Who will have his will,
Stick that you have been,
Once again stand still!


Can I never, Broom, appease you?
I will seize you,
Hold and whack you,
And your ancient wood
I'll sever,
With a whetted axe I'll crack you.
He returns, more water dragging!
Now I'll throw myself upon you!
Soon, 0 goblin, you'll be sagging.
Crash! The sharp axe has undone you.
What a good blow, truly!
There, he's split, I see.
Hope now rises newly,
And my breathing's free.


Woe betide me!
Both halves scurry
In a hurry,
Rise like towers
There beside me.
Help me, help, eternal powers!
Off they run, till wet and wetter
Hall and steps immersed are Iying.
What a flood that naught can fetter!
Lord and master, hear me crying! -
Ah, he comes excited.
Sir, my need is sore.
Spirits that I've cited
My commands ignore.


"To the lonely
Corner, broom!
Hear your doom.
As a spirit
When he wills, your master only
Calls you, then 'tis time to hear it."


Translation by Edwin Zeydel (1955).



Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Ritual of the Norwegian Blue

The Ritual of the Norwegian Blue as performed by initiates of the Great Temple of the Sacred Water Lily (England) 2008.


All enter the temple hall flocking and then circling in a sun wise direction, all should be flapping their arms and making loud squawking noises.

Two officers approach the altar while the congregation flock in the centre, noise shall cease.

Officer#1 (questioner): “Look my lad, I’ve just about had enough of this. This parrot is definitely deceased.”

Officer#2 (keeper of the blue): “It’s probably pining for the fjords.”

Officer#1: “Pining for the fjords? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat on its back the moment I got it home?”

Officer#2: “The Norwegian Blue prefers kipping on its back! Beautiful bird.”

Officer#1: “Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot and I discovered the only reason it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been nailed there.”

Officer#2 “Well, off course it was nailed there. Otherwise it would muscle up to those bars and vroom.”

Officer#1: “Look matey this parrot wouldn’t vroom if you put four thousand volts through it! It’s bleedin’ demised!”

Officer#2: “It’s not, it’s pining!”

Officer#1: “It’s not pining, it’s passed on. This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace.”

(Pause)

Officer#1: “If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up daisies. It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot.”

Congregation:

“This parrot is no more, it has ceased to be.”
“This parrot is no more, it has ceased to be.”
“This parrot is no more, it has ceased to be.”

Officer #1 & #2 in unison:

“Bereft of life, it rests in peace.”

All exit in silence pining for the fjords.


This ritual is based upon the sermon delivered to the faithful by the prophets Cleese, Idle, Jones, Chapman, Palin and Gilliam.

First published in Silver Wheel volume 2 (2010) © D. B. Griffith 2008.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

T. REX: RIDE A WHITE SWAN


Ride it on out like a bird in the sky ways
Ride it on out like you were a bird
Fly it all out like an eagle in a sunbeam
Ride it on out like you were a bird


Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a tattooed gown
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane
Wear your hair long, babe you can't go wrong


Catch a bright star and a place it on your fore-head
Say a few spells and baby, there you go
Take a black cat and sit it on your shoulder
And in the morning you'll know all you know, oh


Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a tattooed gown
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane
Wear your hair long, babe you can't go wrong
Da-da-da-di-di-da, da-da-da-di-di-da.