Thursday, 21 November 2019

NO MORE




Electric gadgets in the home,
I switch them off;
And in the dark I sit alone.
I think of things and scare myself;
I put the book back on the shelf,
No more Stephen King.


Is that the wind or a banshee calling?
There is something out in the garden.
My skin is crawling.
I look out and find,
My neighbours’ cat wailing,
No more Hammer videos.


I haven’t got the nerves for horror,
My stomach’s made of jelly.
All these monsters, ghosts and gore,
Perhaps it’s me, am I a bore?
No more tales of blood and woe.
I just can’t take it anymore.


“No more” was first published in Fosket D.  (Ed.) (1995) Heebie jeebies: by Anchor Books of Peterborough England.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Send Me a Smile




Send me a smile
To light up my world.
Send me a smile,
To make me glad.


Send me a smile,
You could be my world.
Send me a smile,
Because I am sad.


Send me a smile,
Send me a word,
Send me a smile,
And make me smile.


D.B. Griffith 19th Nov. 2019

THE LAND




Sometimes, when I close my eyes.
I can see a land, not far away.
Of rolling hills and mountain streams,
I can smell the ocean on the breeze.


Blackbirds sing and hawks, they dance.
Foxes play, while old brock sleeps.
And in the cave, the wild man sits,
And looks deep, into the spiral pit.


Who is this wild man I see?
It is I and am I dreaming?
And in the spiral maze do I see,
The future for all, for you and for me?


I can walk this land whenever I wish.
I can climb the hills and fish the stream.
I can descend in this most haunting dream.
In the darkness away from the Sun.
Within the womb of the sacred.
I can bathe in the lake and be refreshed.



Sunday, 17 November 2019

THE MUSEUM OF THE MOON (PART TWO)




The city of Derby is at times seen as a cultural backwater, historically overshadowed by the cities of Nottingham and Leicester. Today the city of Sheffield has joined that triad of domination. Two of the most important theatrical venues in the city are currently closed. This has forced local theatrical groups to perform outside of the city centre but some professional tours have chosen to bypass the city altogether.


Late September 2019 saw the launch of the annual Derby Feste, followed only a week later by the Derby Folk Festival. A week or two prior to the launch of Derby Feste on Friday September 27th, a significant scientific and artistic exhibit arrived in Derby. This exhibit remained on Display at the Anglican Cathedral until the end of the Derby Folk Festival on Sunday the 6th of October. This exhibit was a model of our natural satellite, the Moon.


The exhibit or installation is called the Museum of the Moon and it was originally created in 2016 by Luke Jerram. This inflatable, spherical replica of our Moon has now been copied and these copies are now on tour across the world. They often form the centre piece of various temporary exhibitions and cultural events, as this one did in Derby. Two copies are on permanent display at museums in Barcelona and Sydney.


The Knife Angel which I discuss in another blog also arrived in time for Derby Feste and the Derby Folk Festival. Situated outside the same cathedral as the Museum of the Moon, the two exhibits served to mitigate the cultural deficit mentioned above and put the cathedral at the heart of the Derby artistic community.


Our spherical replica of the Moon is 7 metres (or 23 feet) in diameter and depicts the printed imagery of the Moon's surface as provided by NASA. The imagery is of 120dpi and the replica is of a stitched construction over a frame. The Moon is often illuminated internally. The scale used is 1:500,000, which is 1 square centimetre (0.39 of an inch) representing 5 square kilometres (3.1 miles). Although the surface of the exhibit is stitched fabric and therefore smooth, the detail and printing creates a remarkably textured, three dimensional illusion.


The replicas on tour have been displayed in a variety of venues, including the foyer of a theatre. In some cases the excessively well lit public space or the cramped environment, have been detrimental to the appreciation of the exhibit. The internal architecture of the English cathedral lends itself far better. The lighting, the wide nave and vaulted ceilings; rather than dwarfing the construction, allow the observer to appreciate the magnificence of the Moon without constraint.


Presenting the Museum of the Moon in a place of worship, may for some appear incongruous but it should not. If you are a Christian then the Moon is part of creation and the conflict between science and faith, is unnatural. Conflict arises from those who hold extreme views. Those who fail to hear the 'Word of God,' while making a literal interpretation of that 'Word' and those who believe that science can replace faith.


Being able to walk around the display means that we get a full 360 degree view of the moon. Although I was unable to identify which parts are normally visible from the Earth; I am not an astronomer, I was able say that I had seen the 'Darkside of the Moon' (cue music). That was until a work colleague whose hobby is astronomy, corrected me. He pointed out that there is no darkside of the Moon, the satellite is always illuminated but not always visible from Earth. This is the kind of scientific information, the sort of small fact that I find of interest but it tells us much more.


It reminds us that we see or perceive only a part of the whole. That our viewpoint is influenced by context and placement. This is not to suggest that all viewpoints or opinions are equally correct. For example, there is a meme on the Internet depicting two people viewing a number from opposite ends, one can see the number 6 and the other the number 9. The meme is usually accompanied with some trite phrase about people being equally correct. It is rubbish of course as anyone with intelligence can see, the number in this instance must be a 6 or a 9, it cannot be both.


No what this correction reminds me, is that we do not always see or appreciate the entire presentation. We do not and indeed we cannot, always assimilate the full range of stimuli that is about us. By being aware of this and that we cannot experience the full range of information available, enables us to appreciate our universe on a deeper level. This I think is the importance of the Museum of the Moon, its majestic beauty mimicking that of the real Moon, enables us to truly appreciate the world and the cosmos.


The Knife Angel

THE MUSEUM OF THE MOON (PART ONE)


THE KNIFE ANGEL




Unveiled on Thursday the 3rd of October 2019 a sculpture standing at 27 feet, took up a temporary home outside of the Anglican Cathedral in Derby. Placed there at the heart of the cultural quarter of the city, it could hardly avoid making an impact upon the city. The sculpture, quite stunning in both its presence and construction, was to stay on display outside the cathedral until Tuesday the 29th of October.



The predominately metal creation consists of approximately one hundred thousand bladed weapons, all collected from knife banks during police amnesties across the country. An undertaking requiring the full cooperation of the Home Office and all of the Police Forces within the United Kingdom. The man behind the project is the sculptor Alfie Bradley, whose remarkable vision is to highlight the impact of knife crime upon families and communities affected by such crimes.



Several hundred people attended the official unveiling and some of those present shed tears. It was an emotional event for many. For one couple whose teenage son was killed in Derby; only half a mile from the site of the cathedral, it was deeply moving. The name of this young man is engraved upon a plaque or blade, incorporated within the structure. Not on the actual blade that took his life, which would be inappropriate and in poor taste. His name is included with that of many others, all with the permission of their families, as a symbolic statement. An attempt to commemorate their memory, while expressing societies' intolerance towards violence and aggression.



As a visionary project with the aim of raising awareness of knife crime, the Knife Angel is a physical and positive expression of hope. That hope is to end knife crime, particularly amongst the younger members of our society and that hope is praiseworthy.



In reviewing the Knife Angel and the aims of the project however, some have questioned not the hope but the methodology. Some have asked; 'Are we not glorifying crime?' Others have raised a far more difficult question.



The tour of the Knife Angel, supported by each local Police Force and the many support groups, seeks to persuade the young not to carry knives. The question is however, are the types of young criminal engaged in such crime, likely to be influenced by a statue? Is it possible that such persons within our society, will look at the sculpture and see something other than what is hoped for? Will they look at the Knife Angel and see a 'cool' object, reinforcing their own criminal ideas? I cannot answer that question but the question itself, is a valid one.


In viewing the Knife Angel and giving my own personal perspective. I see the object as a monument to the victim of crime and an expression of sorrow. The sorrow of the family affected, the community and society as a whole. I do not sense the hope within the project. I am impressed by the vision of its creator and the engineering required in the creation of such an object. Yet I personally, take away an overwhelming feeling of sadness and loss.



BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN




The best laid plans of mice and men is a well known saying and it derived from lines in 'To a mouse' by the great Robert Burns.  The modern English translation of the poem runs thus; 'The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew; and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!'


I sit writing this peace acutely aware that I should be elsewhere and taking notes for a future blog. I am near trapped at home in the Midlands but I should be in Southend. I have been anticipating and planning my trip across England to attend the Nameless Arte (Symposium) 2019 but unfortunately, disappointingly. I am here at home writing this blog.


The rain here in my part of England and elsewhere, has been noticeably heavy. For the best part of two weeks we have had rain and just when we think it has moved on, the rain has returned. The result has been disruption and this disruption has taken the country off guard. There has been traffic chaos, trains cancelled, houses and businesses have been flooded and tragically, there has been at least one drowning.


Compared to such serious issues my inability to safely travel is an inconvenience. I am warm and dry. I have food, power, running water and sanitation. Some directly affected by the flooding have none of these things. I am safe at home. I can if necessary travel west. I can if absolutely necessary travel east. I cannot travel north or south. Therein lies the problem.


I have kept a close watch upon the localised conditions and the nearby river has broken its banks. The floodplain often floods, the clue is the name but this year is different. The  reach of the water has extended beyond the normal confines of the that plain. The farmland looks like a boating lake or more ironically perhaps, the Thames estuary outside of Southend-on-Sea.


Travelling safely and in a timely manner from Derbyshire to Essex, is not possible this weekend. I am disappointed. I am disappointed that I will miss an event of great significance. I am disappointed that I will not be meeting friends at the event, as planned. There are too few of these events today. Events of quality that explore the esoteric traditions within the context of the Traditional Craft and the Occult, while shielded from the insidious influences of the New Age.


I sincerely hope that the Nameless Arte (Symposium) 2019 is as good if not better, than the event I myself attended in 2017. I sincerely hope that I will attend the next event in 2020 and I sincerely hope that nature does not conspire against me once again. More importantly, I sincerely hope that all who did travel arrived safely and that the flooding will soon abate, putting an end to the suffering of those caught by the rising waters. FFF.



Friday, 15 November 2019

THE WILD HUNT BY SHANI OATES (EMPYREAN 2019)



On the 6th of February 2019 I visited Nottingham to attend once again, a lecture at Empyrean the Nottingham Pagan Interest Group. My visits to Empyrean have become more frequent during the last two years. There has been an increase in the number of speakers presenting lectures on subjects of a personal interest to me. It should also be noted that the quality of these meetings is remarkably high.

The lecture this February evening was on the subject of the Wild Hunt and the speaker was Shani Oates, Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain and internationally recognised author. It was as expected, complex, deep and informative; covering the science of phenomena, stone age hunter-gatherer traditions, European origins and apotropaic practices.

The evening began with an introduction to the mythology of the Aurora Borealis and its place within the cultural perceptions of the northern lands. This ran through a gamut of associations, how the aurora marked a darker tide with a focus on protection, a phenomena affecting our perceptions, a locus of the discarnate and a general aura of strangeness.

This led on to a mention of spirit paths, those processions of the departed, the corpse ways. Juxtaposed we have the midsummer sun with that of midwinter night. The Polar night being a period of darkness lasting some forty days yet further south, we have the anomaly of a sun shining late into the night.

For an a people living in such a land, the question of whether the sun would ever rise again is a natural one. Influencing perhaps the mythology of Ragnarok and the consuming of the sun itself, here we begin to realise that ancient threads still touch our lives today. Shani Oates went on to inform us that the solstice was not observed in more ancient times, although the return of light was noted.

We learnt that there were three 'Blots' of significance to our northern ancestors and that the significance of each, is still extant for those whose paths are influenced by that culture. These were or are; the Autumn Blot falling in October, the true Midwinter Blot falling in January and the Summer Blot in April. Such seasonal festivals and observances are timed by the world around us, changes in the fauna, growth and decay, the migration of birds. The dates of festivals in an ancient calendar were not as rigidly fixed as they are today, in a less abstract but more linear concept of time.

The Maid introduced the concept of totemic elements in regards to the seasons, noting the influence of the sun, moon and stars upon ancient cultures. This influence lies behind potential origins of megalithic observatories and that the Wintertide as a period of time, has a primary focus upon light as opposed to a purely solar one.


In continuing the totemic theme mention is made of Alta Fjord in Norway and the caves that are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here an ancient people, possibly ancestors of the Sami; left thousands of pictographs of animals and people in a number of caves. Some of the images are estimated to be six thousand years old.

In a further exposition of the theme, an obvious mention is made of Horned Gods such as Cernunnos and Herne; noting that they are not one and the same. I observe that as a Polytheist this difference is rarely mentioned, Herne is a Hunter but Cernunnos is not.

Taking us further and deeper, there was mention of the seven brightest stars of the Great Bear constellation. This asterism the Plough or Wagon, is historically a well attested seasonal marker. Continuing onwards we covered briefly, the Hairy Hunters, the Woodwose, Frau Holle, Yule Folk, Ancestral Spirits and visitations of the ancestral dead.

Observances relevant to this area are still part of the practices of the Slavic cultures of Europe and Asia, with various apotropaic charms to protect the home and invite spirits to enjoy the warmth of the hearth. Historically coming of Christianity marks a shift in perception, the association of ancestral spirits with the Wild Hunt changes to that of the Purgation of Demons. The Wild Hunt is obviously recognised as a period unsafe, landwights require blood anointments but now the Demonic Hoard requires appeasement.


Introducing what is without doubt Britain's most important and oldest folkdance, the Maid described the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance as the most primitive dance in Western Europe. Observing that originally the dance took place over three days and later in the year, which as a dance of the sun is of no surprise. The three days are of course the three days of the solstice, when the sun is said to stand still. The dance is in affect a beating of the bounds ceremony, world famous for the six pairs of mounted reindeer antlers that are a thousand years old.

This naturally led us to other animal totems, many related to fertility, abundance and other seasonal observances. These included the Mari Lwyd; traditionally played by a horseman, the Julbukk or Yule Goat, the Haxley Hood Game, mock beheadings and the mythology of the headless horseman himself. Other seasonal observances such as Soul Caking were given a brief mention. Here we note that there is a general belief that our British Traditions are of a southern European origin. We recognise the influence of Mithras, Sol Invictus, Saturnalia and Lupercalia. This assumption overlooks the enormous influence of the peoples of Scandinavia and the Baltic region.

Lupercalia is a festival of the wolf, Lupa being Latin for the female animal and is a totemic beast of the Goddess Juno (the Greek Hera). The festival was a purgation of the city of Rome and featured the use of whips (or thongs) made from goatskin. These whips are called Februa and it is from them that the month of the festival; February, derives its name. Banned in 391 but continued underground, it may have influenced the later development of the Mummers Play.

Continuing on we began to explore the origins of the Wintertide from cultures based within the Arctic Circle. Looking at the Old Hunt, the Battle Fury of Wotan, wondering warrior wolves (wonderful alteration) and a later figure the Harlequin, which may have been based upon the leader of similar hunts. This lead up onto Walter Map, the Hurley Thingers. a connection between Hurl and Herion as alternative names for Woden or Wotan. This connection naturally included Hela and of course, Wotan, Hela and Thor are all said to lead the Wild Hunt.

Jode as a name for Woden is then further linked to a Green Giant and the custom of leaving the last sheaf. Then quickly switching genders the Maid introduced us to Saint Lucy linking her to the Wild Perchten, the plural of Perchta and Berchta. Here during this festival we are told of a prohibition of carrying out housework and that bread in the shape of totem animals would be buried at boundaries.

The cauldron we are now experiencing, contains a heady mix of concepts and yet more is added to our recipe. Sex, death and fertility as associated with women brings us back to the Green Knight, to care and to sexuality. We observe that Robin Hood died at the hands of a woman and that Woden, as the wanderer, the stranger is connected to him. The Wild Hunt changes from a host of ancestral spirits to that of a Daemonic manifestation, an omen of ill fortune. The Sagas, those wondrous tales of Norse origin talk of attacks upon the living by hosts of Daemons. Whichever, the hunt is led by Odin (Woden/Wotan) and his daughters the Valkyries.


There was a short break which was needed. As is the norm with lectures by Shani Oates, the information and the depth of that information, can be both thought provoking and challenging. Launching into part two we were introduced to Cain's Hunt and astronomical symbolism, in particular Gabriel's Wain or the Wagon. Returning to Old Hornie and Hela briefly we begin to perceive the change in interpretation during the Christian period. Here the Devil takes the lead and a host of sinners replaces that of the ancestral spirits. Here we hear of a corpse bearing host, complete with coffins and women pierced with nails. A truly horrific Christian vision.

It is noted quite naturally that the Hunt has regional variations. Wales is offered as an example with references to Gwyn ap Nudd, the White Stag, the Red Eared Hounds, Fairy Raids, the Hills of Annwn and the kings of the Mabinogion.

Does a Wolfshirt lead the Hunt? Is it bestial and is there a link to various animals depicted in ancient rock-art, including horses? These questions are raised and we note that although the processing, our understanding may change, the underlying themes do not. The perceptions change markedly in the Christian period as noted. Frau Holle, the Perchten begin to be interpreted differently with the inclusion of the legends of Mother Goose. The Hunt is mirrored in the honking of the flocks as they migrate and it is observe that the goose is in Siberia, an important Shamanic totem.


Moving on we look briefly at the Seven Whistlers, swans and geese and omens of ill fortune once again. This spins us around to face the Gabriel Hounds, the Gable Rackett, the Corpse Hounds, Gallow Hounds and Fairy Hounds, with their white coats and red ears once again.

We note that within the context of the gallows that Pagans were buried together with heretics and criminals, in unhallowed ground. Nicely bringing us back once again to Odin, the battle-fury of the cult of Woden, Berserkers and animal transformation, wolf or bear. We observe that the wolf is often a symbol of death and that in England a wolfshead was the name given to an outlaw, an outcast. A veiled reference to Robin Hood again?

Hermes and Hecate are psychopomps and share a common symbolism. This symbolism and their associations with the Hunt, serve once more to illustrate that previously observed and unfortunate transformation, Pagan God to Christian Demon. Frau Holda may lead the Wild Hunt but we are reminded that Valkyries are not witches. An important point, as although Herodias, Fate, the Norns and the Fairy Raid may all be included within the context of the Sabbat, such confusion should be avoided.


Returning once more to the Wintertide observances and the period of Misrule, reiterating the associations of Odin, Dame Holda, Diana and her Darling Crew, totems including wolves and ravens, we finally reference Bede. The research carried out by Shani Oates in preparation for the lecture is so detailed and includes so many such references, one can hardly keep pace.

We refer to the Mothers, a seasonal reference, noting that the Pole, the Broom and the wand are all phallic and may symbolise once more, a wolf. Continuing with this seasonal theme we are introduced to Thor's Goat, the YulBuk (Yule Buck) a resurrecting beast, which may be linked to the Krampus and later Mummer's Plays.

Within the theme of transportation Shani Oates declares that the Wild Hunt is seen by those it takes. Mythology serves a social and political purpose with many meanings. Transportation becomes a tool for transformation, the gathering of the slain is the vision quest.

In drawing the lecture to a close, we see that that the darker aspects of spirit flight are of a Northern origin. The wintertide has many customs and traditions, such as for example the dumb supper.

We are instructed that engagement with the other is a call of blood to blood, life to life and death to death. There is a search for fusion, union and meaning, as we reach beyond the Mighty Dead to be with the Gods and the Ancestors. The Ancestral Train is indeed feared and demonised by the church, representing as it does a direct and divine link, rejecting the need for an intercessor.

‘The Wild Hunt is seen by those it takes.’ That phrase is for me personally, the most memorable of the evening. It strikes deep. Others will naturally have taken other elements of the lecture to heart but for me, it is that line above all others that has struck home. I have heard that call, reminding me in the words of the Maid, of the light of gnosis and the darkness of ignorance.


Paean to Hekate – 6th October 2017

SACRED MASK SACRED DANCE BY SHANI OATES

HERITAGE AND THE POETIC VISION OF ROBERT COCHRANE (NOTTINGHAM SATURDAY 25th JUNE 2016)

PAGAN PRIDE (NOTTINGHAM UK) 2nd August 2015

Shani Oates at Pagan Pride 2018