Thursday, 25 January 2018
Men of Harlech stop your dreaming,
Can't you see their spear points gleaming?
See their warrior pennants streaming,
To this battlefield.
Men of Harlech stand ye steady,
It cannot be ever said ye,
For the battle were not ready,
Welshmen never yield!
From the hills rebounding,
Let this song be sounding,
Summon all at Cambria's call,
The mighty force surrounding.
Men of Harlech on to glory,
This will ever be your story,
Keep these burning words before ye,
Welshmen will not yield!
‘O Prince! O chief of many throned Pow'rs
That led th' embattl'd Seraphim to war.’ Milton.
O Thou! whatever title suit thee-
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie,
Wha in yon cavern grim an' sootie,
Clos'd under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie,
To scaud poor wretches!
Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee,
An' let poor damned bodies be;
I'm sure sma' pleasure it can gie,
Ev'n to a deil,
To skelp an' scaud poor dogs like me,
An' hear us squeel!
Great is thy pow'r an' great thy fame;
Far ken'd an' noted is thy name;
An' tho' yon lowin' heuch's thy hame,
Thou travels far;
An' faith! thou's neither lag nor lame,
Nor blate, nor scaur.
Whiles, ranging like a roarin lion,
For prey, a' holes and corners tryin;
Whiles, on the strong-wind'd tempest flyin,
Tirlin the kirks;
Whiles, in the human bosom pryin,
Unseen thou lurks.
I've heard my rev'rend graunie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or where auld ruin'd castles grey
Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand'rer's way,
Wi' eldritch croon.
When twilight did my graunie summon,
To say her pray'rs, douse, honest woman!
Aft'yont the dyke she's heard you bummin,
Wi' eerie drone;
Or, rustlin, thro' the boortrees comin,
Wi' heavy groan.
Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi' sklentin light,
Wi' you, mysel' I gat a fright,
Ayont the lough;
Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight,
Wi' wavin' sough.
The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
Each brist'ld hair stood like a stake,
When wi' an eldritch, stoor "quaick, quaick,"
Amang the springs,
Awa ye squatter'd like a drake,
On whistlin' wings.
Let warlocks grim, an' wither'd hags,
Tell how wi' you, on ragweed nags,
They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags,
Wi' wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
Owre howkit dead.
Thence countra wives, wi' toil and pain,
May plunge an' plunge the kirn in vain;
For oh! the yellow treasure's ta'en
By witchin' skill;
An' dawtit, twal-pint hawkie's gane
As yell's the bill.
Thence mystic knots mak great abuse
On young guidmen, fond, keen an' crouse,
When the best wark-lume i' the house,
By cantrip wit,
Is instant made no worth a louse,
Just at the bit.
When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
An' float the jinglin' icy boord,
Then water-kelpies haunt the foord,
By your direction,
And 'nighted trav'llers are allur'd
To their destruction.
And aft your moss-traversin Spunkies
Decoy the wight that late an' drunk is:
The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkies
Delude his eyes,
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
Ne'er mair to rise.
When masons' mystic word an' grip
In storms an' tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brither ye wad whip
Aff straught to hell.
Lang syne in Eden's bonie yard,
When youthfu' lovers first were pair'd,
An' all the soul of love they shar'd,
The raptur'd hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flow'ry swaird,
In shady bower;^1
Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
An' play'd on man a cursed brogue,
(Black be your fa'!)
An' gied the infant warld a shog,
'Maist rui'd a'.
D'ye mind that day when in a bizz
Wi' reekit duds, an' reestit gizz,
Ye did present your smoutie phiz
'Mang better folk,
An' sklented on the man of Uzz
Your spitefu' joke?
An' how ye gat him i' your thrall,
An' brak him out o' house an hal',
While scabs and botches did him gall,
Wi' bitter claw;
An' lows'd his ill-tongu'd wicked scaul',
Was warst ava?
But a' your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares an' fechtin fierce,
Sin' that day Michael^2 did you pierce,
Down to this time,
Wad ding a Lallan tounge, or Erse,
In prose or rhyme.
An' now, auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
A certain bardie's rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin
To your black pit;
But faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin,
An' cheat you yet.
But fare-you-weel, auld Nickie-ben!
O wad ye tak a thought an' men'!
Ye aiblins might-I dinna ken-
Stil hae a stake:
I'm wae to think up' yon den,
Ev'n for your sake!
Modern English translation
O You! Whatever title suit you -
Old Horny, Satan, Nick, or Hoofy -
Who in yonder cavern grim and sooty,
Closed under hatches,
Splashes about the brimstone dish,
To scald poor wretches!
Hear me, Old Hangman, for a little,
And let poor damned bodies be;
I am sure small pleasure it can give,
Even to a devil,
To spank and scald poor dogs like me
And hear us squeal.
Great is your power and great your fame;
Far known and noted is your name;
And though yon flaming hollow is your home,
You travels far;
And faith! you are neither backward, nor lame,
Nor backward, nor afraid.
Sometimes, ranging like a roaring lion,
For prey, all holes and corners trying;
Sometimes, on the strong-winged tempest flying,
Stripping the churches;
sometimes, in the human bosom prying,
Unseen you lurks.
I have heard my reverend grandmother say,
In lonely glens you like to stray;
Or, where old ruined castles grey
Nod to the moon,
You fright the nightly wanderer's way
With unearthly croon.
When twilight did my grandmother summon,
To say her prayers, sedate, honest woman.
Often beyond the wall she has heard you bumming,
With eerie drone;
Or, rustling, through the alder trees coming,
With heavy groan.
One dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down with squinting light,
With you myself, I got a fright:
Beyond the pond,
You, like a clump of rushes, stood in sight,
With waving moan.
The cudgel in my fist did shake,
Each bristled hair stood like a stake;
When with an unearthly, harsh 'quack, quack,'
Among the springs,
Away you flew like a drake,
On whistling wings.
Let wizards grim, and withered old women,
Tell how with you, on ragwort horses,
They skim the moors and dizzy clifs,
With wicked speed;
And in church yards renew their leagues,
Over dug-up dead.
Thence, country wives, with toil and pain,
May plunge and plunge the churn in vain;
For O! the yellow treasure's taken
By witching skill;
And petted, twelve pint cow is gone
As dry as the bull.
Thence, mystic knots make great abuse
On young husbands, fond, keen and confident;
When the best work tool in the house,
By magic wit,
Is instantly made not worth a louse,
Just at that instant.
When thaws dissolve the snowy hoard.
And float the jingling icy surface,
Then, water fairies haunt the ford,
By your direction,
And travelers in the night are lured
To their destruction.
And often your bog traversing jack-o'-lanterns
Decoy the person that late and drunk is:
The blazing, cursed, mischievous monkeys
Delude his eyes,
Until in some miry bog he sunk is,
Never more to rise.
When Masons' mystic word and grip
In storms and tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage must stop,
Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brother you wood whip
Off straight to hell.
Long past in Eden's bonny garden,
When youthful lovers first were paired,
And all the soul of love they shared,
The raptured hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flowery sward,
In shady bower.
Then you, you old, scheming dog!
You came to Paradise incognito,
An played on man a cursed trick
(Black be your fall!),
And gave the infant world a shake,
And almost ruined all.
Do you mind that day when in a flurry
With smoky clothes, and scorched wig,
You did present your smutty face
Among better folk;
And squinted on the man of Uzz
Your spiteful joke?
And how you got him in your bondage,
And broke him out of house and hall,
While scabs and blotches did him gall,
With bitter claw;
And loosed his ill-tongued wicked scold -
Was worst of all?
But all your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares and fighting fierce,
Since that day Michael did you pierce
Down to this time,
Would ding a Lowland tongue, or Gaelic,
In prose or rhyme.
And now, Old Hoofs, I know you are thinking,
A certain Bard's roistering, drinking,
Some luckless hour will send him hurrying,
To your black Pit;
But, faith! he will turn a corner dodging,
And cheat you yet.
But fare-you-well, Old Nickie-Ben
O would you take a thought and mend!
You perhaps might - I do not know -
Still have a stake:
I am sad to think upon yon den,
Even for your sake!
Monday, 15 January 2018
The year 2018 is the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of the world famous Whitechapel Murders, a series of brutal killings committed by an unidentified killer with an infamous epithet. I am not going to use that name here, nor will I dwell upon his possible identity or motive.
The Whitechapel Murders took place in the East End of London, during the dizzy heights of the Victorian age and peak of the British Empire. Dependent upon source and opinion, the number of victims said to have been killed by the same man, will range from as few as four to as many as eleven.
Of those eleven victims, one of which remains unidentified, five are considered ‘canonical’ in that their tragic deaths share notable features, although the last murder may not have been by the same hand. It is to these five women that I dedicate this post.
In writing this, I do not wish to add to the lurid speculations often associated with the murders. Nor do I wish to proclaim any judgement on the choice of profession of the victims. That is relevant only to a police investigation and to subsequent researchers. It is not however, relevant to their memory.
It is very often the case that society will remember the name of the murderer rather than the victim, creating a name for the murderer if one is not known. In writing this post I wish to address that anomaly. I ask that we remember the victim and not the murderer.
Each victim of the eleven Whitechapel Murders was a woman, they were all someone’s daughter. Some of the victims were wives, mothers and sisters. They were real people that died in tragic circumstances. Remember them as people.
In producing this blog post I am forced due to lack of material to use the official mortuary photographs, which are themselves well known. These pictures serve to illustrate the brutality of violent death. All images are public domain. As a mark of respect for the victims and their living descendants, of which there are many, I have edited these pictures. This includes the cropping of the post mortem photograph of Catherine Eddowes.
Remember the women.
Mary Ann Nichols: 26 August 1845 - 31 August 1888 (aged 43).
Annie Chapman: circa 1841- 8 September 1888 (aged 47?).
Elizabeth Stride: 27 November 1843 - 30 September 1888 (aged 44).
Catherine Eddowes: 14 April 1842 - 30 September 1888 (aged 46)
Mary Jane Kelly: circa 1863 - 9 November 1888 (aged 25?)
Saturday, 6 January 2018
I could be well moved if I were as you.
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fixed and resting quality,
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks.
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place.
So in the world. 'Tis furnished well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive,
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion.
Friday, 5 January 2018
The steps of a stranger,
They seem to come nearer.
They are steps of a stranger,
In a strange land.
The wind blows the words;
Back into my mouth.
Oh God, what’s next?
The four horseman of the Apocalypse?
The steps of a stranger,
We seem to come nearer,
And I can see his face,
In the palm of my hand.
While we live we conquer, nor shall we be less victorious if we die.
Take now your rest in the shade;
And open your mouths to draw in breath,
So that when your hour comes,
You too may go down into the sun-scorched arena.
Rue not my death. Rejoice at my repose;
It was no death to me but to my woe;
The bud was opened to let out the rose,
The chain was loosed to let the captive go.
In plaints I pass the length of lingering days;
Free would my soul from mortal body fly;
And tread the track of death’s desired ways.
Monday, 1 January 2018
As I write this post, at the end of the year 2017 and looking forward to a new year of 2018. I can reflect upon the past twelve months and say honestly, that 2017 has been an improvement over 2016. My health has held firm for most of the year and I have enjoyed several trips. Many of my adventures will feature in blog posts of their own. I have given presentations, I have visited friends but not as many as I should have. I have once again seen my name in print.
As the Yuletide of 2017 approached, I took the week of the Winter Solstice as my annual leave. This is me and my own enjoying the Pagan equivalent of a ‘Christmas week,’ with all the expected trappings of the season. It has been as it is for all of us, a busy time. It has been as it is for some of us, an enjoyable time.
My seasonal decorations were up at the beginning of the month, as I favour early December by personal choice. I do not specifically keep to the traditional Feast of Saint Nicholas for doing so, as it is a variable date dependent on church and country. A feast day that is observed on the 6th of December in the majority of Western countries, is the 5th in the Netherlands and the 19th in most in Eastern countries.
I disapprove of seasonal decorations before the beginning of December, I consider this to be far too early. November in my opinion, should be over but my decorations do remain in place until the first week of January.
So in that first week of December I brought down from my store, a specially made horseshoe topped pole, complete with a spike for the candle. This is a unique item commissioned by me and made to my own design. This pole or stang, like the traditional Christmas tree represents the World Tree, the spine and Axis Mundi. The candle mounted atop, when lit representing the returning sun of the Winter Solstice. Presents are wrapped and placed beneath, dripping wax merely adding to the effect. A few pine cones are placed around the gifts to add to the decorative state, although these do not stay in place long. My cats Isis and Tanith, rearrange them to their own taste. The finishing touch is to hang some fresh holly.
Early in the month I received a surprise gift from an anonymous benefactor. It did not take very long to identify the person behind this gift and the gift itself is certainly appreciated. A charming country scenes Advent Calendar depicting the now rare red squirrel.
Our ‘Hearthmoot’ at our designated public house was small, intimate and very lively. Two new faces braved the inclement weather on Tuesday the 19th of December to join us and to enjoy the excellent atmosphere of the hostelry. The food, the beer and the company was most enjoyable.
Wednesday the 20th of December and the eve of the Solstice, saw the Hearth of the Turning Wheel meet for our Yuletide observance. This was a deliberate choice of Mother's Night and at that meeting, we welcomed a new guest to the Outer Court. Here it is perhaps wise to explain the terminology used.
The Hearth of the Turning Wheel (HTW) exists in the real world as a working group, created, founded and maintained, to observe the common festivals of the Wheel. This is the common eight based upon the template created by Gardner and Nichols in the early nineteen fifties. We are aware obviously, that there are alternative ritual calendars. Admitted members of the Hearth, that is to say founders and our initiated members, are designated members of the Inner Court. From time to time we invite guests to attend a ritual and on attendance they become members of the Outer Court, an honourary position.
The symbol of the Inner Court is the white rose of York, the symbol of the outer is the red rose of Lancaster. These two roses when combined to form the Tudor rose, become one of the collective symbols of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel as a whole. The rose is a common occult and craft motif. The use of the rose and the associated symbolism by the Hearth of the Turning Wheel, is in no manner unique. It is a shared virtue.
Besides these two official divisions, there is a third unofficial grouping. On Facebook there exists a group called Friends of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel (FotHTW). Membership of this group is open to both courts, retired members and persons with an interest in our philosophy. The FotHTW also serves a method of communication with our supporters and persons representing groups that may share a similar outlook or perspective. Persons requesting membership of the FotHTW are naturally vetted and the ‘Hearthmoots’ often serve as a meeting point with enquirers.
The ritual of the 20th of December was well attended and required as our tradition now dictates, that all attending bring a small gift. This is for our version of a Secret Santa, which is in our case more usually referred to as a Secret Odin or Hogfather. Each wrapped gift should be identified by a label with the name of the giver. The names of those attending are at a particular point in the ritual, drawn from a bag or cauldron, the gifts are then exchanged based on the names drawn.
In this ritual we incorporated a brief mummer’s play based upon the story of Gawain and the Green Knight. The gifts in his keeping being distributed after his decapitation and resurrection. This of course required a degree of pantomime acting on the part of the Defender of the Hearth and the use of his own axe. At this time of year it is our wish to incorporate an element of fun and games into our activities, complete with the seasonal exchange of gifts.
Thursday the 21st of December and the actual Solstice Day, was spent in the Peak District with family. We began our day with an early start and an enjoyable trip to Arbor Low. This is a major and significant henge monument in North West Derbyshire; large and unusual in that the remaining stones are reclining.
The thick fog across the moor prevented us from sighting the dawn but it did not detract from the moment of actually being there at the henge. It was clear from our approach that visibility was limited, the massive bank slowly emerging from the mist as we climbed from the farm. It was atmospheric, hauntingly mysterious and captivating.
Approaching the break in the bank that forms the entrance, I decided for reasons unknown to walk the outer bank; rather than enter straightaway. I turned to my right and climbed the bank to walk the circumference widdershins. I spoke briefly to a few of those walking the henge and I had the pleasure of bumping into an old friend. I was recognised by some from my visit last year, I was not wearing my cloak this year but I did carry the same horn.
Returning to my starting point after walking the outer circumference, I entered the henge proper and walked the inner edge of the ditch deosil. This creates a figure of eight turned upon itself, an action I have previous performed at other henges.
Eventually joining my group at the central stone we held a very simple rite of communion, with apple juice for the children and mead for the grown-ups. We shared our poetry, our drink and our biscuits with a couple (a mother and her son) who had wondered over towards us. It was a gesture of goodwill in keeping with the season.
Leaving Arbor Low we repeated our journey of last year, heading for Bakewell to enjoy a traditional Derbyshire breakfast at Ye Old Bakewell Pudding Shop and Restaurant. Here Derbyshire oatcakes and fried eggs were followed by a Bakewell pudding, complete with custard and cream.
After a brief rest in the early afternoon, we travelled to the National Trust property of Kedleston Park. This is a historic building and picturesque park lying only a few miles outside of Derby. Here with candle lit lanterns, we joined a surprisingly large number of people on the dusk walk through the wooded walks. The sunset was visible as we set off but soon we were in total darkness, catching only the sound of roosting crows and nearby pheasants as we progressed. It was another atmospheric experience.
We had therefore, been out from sunrise to sunset on Solstice Day. We had over the course of more than one day, recognised, observed and marked this moment of change and the season of goodwill. From our social event, our ritual and our ‘pilgrimage’ to the Peak District, we had experienced our moment, our times of company and our period of solitude.
These are all moments of appreciation and spiritual refreshment. We did not see the sunrise but to be there at the moment, to witness Arbor Low cloaked in fog; gave us another perspective and added another dimension to our Solstice. To experience total darkness in a woodland after sunset, reminds us that away from our comfortable homes, it is nature that holds us and can hide us in a different cloak. The Yuletide remains captivating and mysterious, the experience of sunrise and sunset on a solstice can be a haunting one and a memorable one.
The Hearth Yuletide and the Midwinter Solstice 2016
Dolmen Grove Chronicles Yule 2017