Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Druids

I stumbled across a review of the Stuart Piggot book, entitled "The Druids", which consisted of seven words, ending with "very little information."  The reviewer gave the book one star and I had to wonder if they had missed the point of the book.  

I have not finished it (as yet), but the author starts by saying what evidence there is in regard to this particular caste of early European society is fragmentary and scarce.  From what I can understand, most of what is known by the general populace is based on supposition and romantic notions fostered in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Archaeology reveals very little, and the Greek and Roman writers might have engaged in a bit of spin-doctoring, stirring up fear by over-stating the barbaric nature of a society which they intended to invade, and overpower, so that they were no longer a threat to their idea of a civilised society.   [Sound familiar?]  It is often asserted that not all of the classical writers might have had direct contact with the druids, but are merely quoting or paraphrasing earlier writers.  Though all this, too, is supposition, as there really is very little information on the societies in which druids thrived. 

It struck me, reading the review of "The Druids", that although I am vastly ignorant, I am not completely so.  At least I am aware of the fact that little is known about the druids, and I don't require authors to "pad out" information in order to satisfy my thirst for knowledge.  Hope for me yet?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Winter Solstice Blessing




I send you heartfelt solstice charms,
to keep you safe from ills and harms,
to last throughout the coming year,
to ward off doubt and dismiss fear,
and welcome joy with open arms.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Spellcraft Magazine - New Editor Wanted

The "The Only Magickal Magazine in the Southern Hemisphere" is seeking someone to take over the helm. I haven't seen it advertised, except on their Spellcraft in a small section in the top left hand corner, though they have put together a two page description of the type of person they hope to find to fill the shoes of She D'Montford, who held the position for the first twelve issues.

So, if you know of anyone that might be interested in getting involved in publishing a pagan magazine that sells in newsagents across Australia, send them along to the Spellcraft website, to read the job description.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Ballinderry River Sings!

I listen to the Coast and Country podcast and on last week's episode "Ripples of the Ballinderry River", Helen Marks explored the Ballinderry River in Northern Ireland.

For me, the most interesting report related to a sound engineer, Professor Paul Moore, who has recorded the sound of Ballinderry River, using sensors floating on top of the water, and converted these recordings to a song, or music, in order to give the river a voice - "a soundscape, as well as a landscape". It is startling: the usual gurgling sounds, but with a haunting backdrop, almost like whale song, which Professor Moore referred to as the Ban Sidhe of the river. It certainly got my attention; I was in awe.

I wish I could get a copy of some of the recordings, but, alas, I have to make do with the snippet broadcast on the podcast. They are endeavouring to expand their recordings to other rivers, and recording the individual songs.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Competition

Competition

A fountain pen?
Now there's a thing to win.

What to write?
If only I wasn't so dim.

Some inspiration?
Now that's what I need.

And ideas?
But my mind has gone to seed.



© Ancestral Celt 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Yule Poetry Competition



The PPP is delighted to announce that thanks to the success of the Poetry Anthology we have an excellent prize fund for our Yule Competition and thus some great prizes to be won.

First Prize will be this beautiful Fountain Pen:




(if not available at time of winning, we will get a fountain pen of similar value and style) PLUS a £20 Amazon Gift Voucher!

Second and third prize consist of £10 gift Amazon vouchers.

The competition is open to everyone. The closing date for entries is December 24th and the winners will be announced in January.

You may submit as many entries as you like. All entries will be considered for the Competition Edition in January as well as for the Competition itself.

RULES: View the following images:











Using either as your inspiration write a poem. Submit the poem, clearly indicating to which image your work refers. You can submit by either emailing the editors (at) paganpoetrypages (dot) com or, if you are a member of the PPPages by submitting a private message to to Beirn.

For further information, see the Pagan Poetry Pages.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Magician's Law: Tales of the Bard





Author: Michael Scott
ISBN: 0722177755 / 9780722177754

I started reading this book on the flight to Australia a few months ago, and finally finished it last weekend, having read it piecemeal.

The book tells the tale of Paedur, who has risen to the status of legend, through the ages and his work to restore the "Old Faith" against an incomer which has grown in size rapidly. Mannam, the Lord of the Dead, assigns Paedur the task of keeping the Old Faith alive through his work as a bard, telling the myths and expanding the knowledge of the old gods. As they are want to do, the gods assign Paedur a further task ... a dangerous undertaking.

The author borrows from the myths of a few cultures, though the Irish seems most apparent, and creates his own world, peoples, cultures, myths, legends and religions. On reading the pantheon at the front of the book, the reader might feel overwhelmed, but as the tales unfold the names slip easily into place.

The book was written such that, although I picked it up and put it down often, the characters and the tale stuck in my mind. The action builds relatively quickly and there are several peaks, arriving at the last sequence with relative ease. You can feel yourself drift into the action and these other worlds. There was only one small quibble and that was my imagination was stifled (a smidge) by some overly descriptive passages, especially in the last few sequences, when it made the story feel a little stilted instead of racing (on a smooth track) to the end. I suspect, however, this won't bother most readers.

I hope to read the sequels, "Demon's Law" and "Death's Law" before the end of the year, that is if I can obtain them through one of the book swapping sites.

Rating: 4/5.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Free Copy of "Magus of Stonewylde"



I reviewed "Magus of Stonewylde" back in November 2007 and you can read that review here.  Now, you can read the book for free.

The author, Kit Berry, is giving away free copies of her book, "Magus of Stonewylde" to the first 100 applicants, as a special offer for Yule. Postage (from the UK) has to be paid, but the book is free.
See "Yule Offers" for further details.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Moon Paste

Was reading a book on Scottish folklore and belief, when reference was made to Isobel Goudie and the making of moon-paste, the formula for which was still current in Morroco and Brittany (the book was written in the 1950s).

So, after extensive googling, which resulted in two pagan-y boards which made only a passing reference, I know very little about this paste.   I found a reference to it in R. A. Gilbert's "The Sorcerer and His Apprentice", which states it was referenced in another book, "The Devil's Mistress".

"The details of the making of Isabel Goudie's moon-paste I have recorded in The Devil's Mistress, the lacunae in the Scottish accounts being supplied from Morocco, the processes being obviously identical. In the trial of Lady Monro of Fowlis, June 22, 1590, the material was clay. "

... a quote which is mentioned in other forums, but only to say that there was reference to the paste in that book, too. Not the formula, nor any other information on its use in Brittany or Morocco.Is anyone is a position to enlighten me?

It also rates mention in "A Highland Chapbook" by Isabel Cameron (page 97):
Moon paste, perhaps the most mysterious of all magic mediums, is also one of the oldest. The making of it was known and practised in ancient Thessaly; magicians in Morocco and in Brittany knew of it, and except for the language being different, the ideas and forms were the same as were used in Scotland so lately at the end of the seventeenth century. Water from seven wells, herbs gathered at certain phases of the moon, clay taken from a special place, and dried in the fire, and afterwards pounded into fine dust, all played their part in the making of the paste. It required, however, the magic of the full moon, and this could only be got by incantations, sung widdershins, and a most elaborate ritual. This paste could unite sundered lovers; it could cure illness; and if its owner so willed it, it was capable of bringing disaster upon one's enemies; in fact, it was capable of working magic; both black and white.
And on page 61:

Witches who had attained a very high standard of their art used, as a medium of black magic, moon paste. As the name implies, this was made by the moon being pulled out of the sky. This medium had to be made when the moon was full. Certain herbs had to be pounded and mixed; water taken from seven different wells and the whole thing had to be kneaded in a trough in a kirk yard with chantings and muttered words and turnings innumerable to "widdershins." Images made of this paste were capable of bringing weal or woe according to the wishes of the witch who owned it. Isabel Goudie used it to help Jean Gordon of Gordonstown, but she used the same medium to bring sickness and death to the house of the Laird of Park

Again, no reference to which herbs, gathered when, which "special place" to beget the clay, which incantations and so on. I was hoping an historian or someone who lives in Scotland might have further information.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Small Sacrifices

Recently, on a predominantly non-pagan message board, someone asked for suggestion on how to "celebrate" Samhain without spending too much money.   Many of the respondents gave a run-down of what they do, personally, at this time of year, as did I.

I generally sit out on fire festivals.  This involves staying out-of-doors from sun down to sunrise, meditating on what the time of year/festival might have meant to my ancestors, performing little rituals appropriate for the season and various other activities.   I have often considered my efforts rather tame and effortless in comparison to some; perhaps even bordering on laziness, so the responses I received to my suggestion took me rather by surprise.

"Oh no.  I couldn't do that; I'll freeze."  Fire and rugs don't seem to exist in the 21st century.

"What if it's raining?   I can't risk catching a cold."   Apparently, colds are spread by rain, not viruses.

"I can't go a whole night without sleep."  Is napping now a lost art?  Bearing in mind, Samhain fell on a weekend this year, I find this objection rather weak.  What's more meditation, when done correctly, can revive.

"Oh, I can't stay out the whole night, but I might go out after "Strictly Come Dancing" and "X-Factor"."   It seems false idols now take precedence over our gods, ancestors, and genius loci.

 
I have to admit the weather this year was foul, and I do camp in a place that is protected from the weather somewhat, whilst still giving a good view of the horizons.   I also have to admit that I did not sit out this past Samhain, but this was due to a (contagious and heavily medicated) illness, but that didn't stop me undertaking an all-night vigil, and doing as much as I could to mark the season.   Even so, I find it difficult to understand the attitude of some people to a little sacrifice in honour of their gods/ancestors/sacred festivals.  How is it that a small amount of time, or a bit of discomfort is too much?   It's not like I was suggesting people part with the hard-earned, and let's face it these days, precious cash.  I know people claim to be time poor these days, but is six nights a year such a strain?  Does our faith/religion/spirituality not deserve at least that much devotion?

 
I often hear people talk, and write about not wanting to pay for their spirituality or religion, but I always assumed they meant money.  I think I was wrong: perhaps what is sought is free spirituality, i.e. free from commitment, effort or exertion of mind, body or soul ~ free to do what you want, when you want and only if you want.

 
*****

 
Before anyone jumps up and says:  "You're just being a grouch and what's wrong with having fun at Halloween anyway?".  

 
There's nothing wrong with having fun, joining in trick-or-treating, going to costume balls, and this can be combined with other, more spiritual activities effortlessly, as so many of my friends manage to do.  It's the  "can't be bothered" and "I've got more important things to do" attitudes with which I take issue.

 
*****
I do wonder:
  1. If pagans find these small sacrifices too much to bear, exactly what, if anything, are they willing to do in the name of their beliefs?
  2. And, what would they honestly consider a real sacrifice?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Mirror Crack’d


I was ill over Samhain, so was not able to do my usual ritual. Instead, I read some unique folklore and thought I would give it a try. In order to do this, I needed to use a mirror and I thought I would use my obsidian mirror, which I keep in a wooden chest along with other particular items.


All well and good, except when I unravelled the silk in which it is wrapped, I found the wooden frame was cracked. The damage wasn't too bad, so I used the mirror anyway and proved the merit of this particular piece of folklore.


My only dilemma now is how to get the mirror repaired. I don't want to use superglue as this might affect the integrity of the original work, which is beautiful. I might have to contact its maker and send it away for repairs, but I am loathe to part with it, in case further, irreparable damage occurs. Still, I can't leave it as it is.


What to do?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Home

I have recently returned from a trip to Australia, a country I can no longer call "home". Even flying over the Northern Territory (the first point of contact) I felt alienated. Don't get me wrong, as a land Australia has a unique, fascinating and beautiful quality, but it's not one to which I can relate.

Within hours of arriving, after the drive from the airport to my sister's place of residence, I longed to be back in the UK. The sounds, the smells, the spirits of the place I found myself in were now alien to me. I even found the energy a little hard to "tune into" and quickly tuned out. Given I was born there, I should have attuned better, but I didn't. In fact, I did nothing even remotely pagan whilst I was there. No little rituals, no meditations, nothing. I didn't feel comfortable practising my faith in that country. Even being by the ocean offered no comfort to me and the ocean was always my saviour in low times when I was younger.

So, now I am back in the British Isles and I feel I truly am home. I understand and connect with this landscape, more so in the north, but, where I am now is comfortable for me.

Every time I travel to Australia, I feel more and more alienated from that country. It's a shame, but I know now that I could never return permanently; my faith is rooted here.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Pagan Census - Revisited

We are conducting an international survey of contemporary Pagans. If you are a Pagan we would appreciate your taking the time to complete this survey.


This survey builds on an earlier one completed over twenty years ago, primarily in the United States, which was conducted by Helen A. Berger and Andras Arthen (of the EarthSpirit Community) entitled the Pagan Census. At the time it was hoped that we could do a census of the entire Pagan population. Although that was not possible the data that was collected was the largest of it type and served as the basis of a book, Voices from the Pagan Census by Helen A. Berger (with Evan Leach and Leigh S. Shaffer). The survey data is now available on line at Murray Research Archive at Harvard University.

A number of scholars have noted that it would be helpful to have a follow-up of that survey to see if and how the community has changed or remained the same. The survey that follows uses many, although not all of the same questions that were in the original survey to provide that comparison. There are also new questions, for instance about the Internet, something that was of little interest 20 years ago but is now, and some from other studies, that again permit a comparison. This has resulted in the survey being somewhat long--we appreciate your taking the time to complete it.

We realize that the categories found in questionnaires like this one frequently do not do justice to the complexities of real life. For this reason, a number of open-ended items have been included that allow for more nuanced responses. You are also welcome to contact Helen A. Berger directly at HBerger (at) wcupa.edu

Please inform other Pagans about this research project and feel free to pass it along via e-mail or to post a link on appropriate blogs or websites.

Thanks for your help.

Helen A. Berger
James R. Lewis
Henrik Bogdan

Monday, 7 September 2009

"Witchy Living" Podcast

I have recently been searching various podcasts to find things that might hold my interest on the commute to and from work (which can be anything from 45 minutes to 2 hours).   I have listened to some very good podcasts, that have almost professional production values, and I've heard some awful ones where the quality was poor and it wasn't worth the hassle of downloading and listening if only to save getting a headache.

One of the more interesting of podcasts I found was "Witchy Living" on Blog Talk Radio.   Although the hostess, Cairelle, seems to struggle with sound quality, the topics are interesting and it's well worth the odd bit of interference.   Combining hoodoo and witchcraft practices, the show has looked at the lighter (funnier) side of magic so far.   That said, the topic of hexes has arisen, so this blog does not shy away from ethical issues surrounding magical work.   When "Witchy Living" is going out live, there is a chat discussion at the fan website held concurrently, and it is possible to telephone the hostess and interact direct.   Despite these distractions for Cairelle, she does produce a podcast worth listening to.

I will continue to subscribe and I hope others give this unique blogging podcast a chance.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Disconsolate

All the words in the world
cannot compensate

When all your worlds, in a word,
are now desolate








© Ancestral Celt 2009

Monday, 17 August 2009

Yet Another Pagan Dating Site

Its seems there are more and more sites for pagan singles, and here is yet another: Wiccan/Pagan Singles Club, which is part of the Ning social networking site. Again, it is based in the United States of America, but there are a few from the United Kingdom.

I do know of a few couples who found each other through these type of sites, so they must work on some level.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Diplays of Faith

Most people are aware of the British Airways employee who went to court over the wearing of her cross (and lost), and I am pretty sure most pagans have encountered those pagans who insist on wearing the biggest pentacle possible, or fantasy costumes, or t-shirts with "pagan and proud" slogans or similar, or have their foreheads tattooed with Theban. It's almost as if these pagans have to display their religious beliefs in order to be seen to be "walking the walk" rather than "talking the talk". This made me wonder how important it was to pagans, in general, to wear their faith, or indeed, to display anything that might proclaim their allegiance to paganism.

From a personal perspective, I don't feel the need to be in anyone's face about my beliefs. I live in a Christian country (albeit one with a pagan history) and I respect that. My religion is not about offending anyone; its about my personal beliefs. That said, I do have one or two items on display, as it were, but, I am more than happy to remove, or cover them if it's required, i.e. for matters of health and safety.

What I do have is a car sticker, which is more humorous than pagan ("Witches Parking; All Others Will be Toad"). I'd prefer the sign, but I don't have a regular parking space over which to hang a sign. When the day comes that I have my own parking space, even if its my own driveway, I will put up the sign and remove the sticker from my car. The only other means by which I can be identified as pagan by sight alone is if I am wearing my charm bracelet. It has a witchy/pagan theme with charms to which I have felt drawn. I don't wear it everyday, nor do I wear it everywhere. Most people don't look too closely and don't notice the details in the charms at all. I have to admit, it's more a fashion item than a statement about my beliefs. I also wear a triple spiral ring daily; it's never removed. I don't consider it overtly pagan, certainly no-one has ever associated it with paganism or my beliefs. So, unless I am in my car, I doubt anyone would know anything about my beliefs.

The majority of Christians don't display their beliefs either and, personally, I don't tend to ask about a person's religious alliance, so I would never know, just by looking at someone, the nature of their faith. I was always taught not to talk religion or politics in social situations, and I never have. So, why is it some pagans feel the need for overt displays of paganism?

The reason I ask this is because recently there have been a spate of pagans asserting their right to wear their pentacle anywhere they like, because the Christians can wear their crosses everywhere, anytime, they like. Well, no, they can't. The British Airways employee lost because there was a dress code in place, that was policy, at British Airways; Christians have to abide by Health & Safety law just like everyone else and, often, that means the removal of any and all jewellery (chefs, for instance, often have to cover up with that awful blue tape in order to stay safe).

When I was considered Catholic, I would not have worn my cross into a mosque or other religious building as a matter of respect. I have always strived to abide by the maxim: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." In other words, I try not to offend others and attempt blend in as much as possible to the culture in which I am mingling. That's not to say I won't speak up if I, myself, am offended.

Perhaps I am just too "low key" as a pagan?

I wear smart clothes to work, as is required, I wear jeans and a shirt in my leisure hours. I'm not really into fancy dress, unless it's a fancy dress masked ball. The pentacle means nothing to me so I would never consider it an emblem of my religious path, nor would I knock anyone for wearing it, provided it wasn't the size of a hubcap. *LOL* I don't wear cloaks or robes for ritual, or seasonal celebrations and I probably never will; again I would never knock anyone for wearing them, in those circumstances. Were my place of work to ask me to remove my bracelet because it offends one of the Christians in the office, I would, BUT, I would also raise objections to anyone wearing the cross, etc. (not that anyone does) on grounds on discrimination.

I know I'm a pagan - a polytheist animist who "dabbles" in witchcraft - but I don't necessarily need or want others to know it. In this country, I can go about practising my beliefs pretty much uninterrupted, provided I stay within the law - I haven't yet breached it, nor am I likely to need to - and I've never suffered any kind of abuse or discrimination for my beliefs. In fact, I've found most people quite amenable: especially my employers.

Still, I am interested in the thoughts of others on this matter. Is it enough for you to know you are pagan, or do you prefer to broadcast it to all and sundry on a second-by-second basis to the rest of the world as outlandishly as possible? *LOL* Or, are you somewhere in between?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

£50,000 job for a witch ...

Wookey Hole is currently witchless

A Job Centre is advertising a "witch" vacancy with tourist site Wookey Hole, in Somerset, for £50,000 a year.

The witch, who has to live in the site's caves, is expected to teach witchcraft and magic.

Wookey Hole staff say the role is straightforward: live in the cave, be a witch and do the things witches do.

The advert for the post, placed in the local press as well as job centres, says applicants must be able to cackle and cannot be allergic to cats.

The job has come up after the previous witch retired from the role.

"We are witchless as the moment so need to get the role filled as soon as possible," said Daniel Medley from the tourist destination.

Read the rest of this article at: BBC News.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Ancestry

The Ancestry - Jillian LaDage



I was listening to the Midsummer edition of The Celtic Myth Podshow and was taken aback by a track called "Midsummer" by Jillian LaDage. It transported me away to another time and place and I instantly loved it. I was so taken by it that I immediately downloaded it on iTunes, in the hope the other tracks were just as brilliant, before I realised I could preview the song as the website of Tarith Cote.

Even so, I wasn't disappointed. The album is described as "a journey that leads from the medieval sands of Turkey and the Byzantine Empire to the moors and legends of the ancient Celts". Its certainly a mixture of sounds, and haunting ones at that, but remains cohesive throughout combining sumptious music with storytelling songs in a sensual voice.

I wish I could elucidate on how this album made me feel. Its very much how I responded to
Sa Dingding's "Alive" album, and like that album, I have been playing these tracks non-stop since I downloaded them. Please go and try the samples of Jillian LaDage's album at the Tarith Cote website and let yourself be whisked off to lands of wonder.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Justice in the eyes of the Unforgiving

I thought some more about what I wrote earlier this week, and I realised I may be at odds with the ancients in that I do not believe in the death penalty, but I am a believe in a life for life. In other words, if its proved beyond all doubt that you murdered someone, you should spend your life paying for it. I have always thought death an easy option, in comparison to serving a life sentence in gaol, and rarely is a life sentence really for life these days. Now, if someone killed one my own then they would probably want to spend the rest of their life in gaol, as opposed to any kind of life I might allow them were they at my disposal.

Recently, I watched a film, called "Ten Canoes", an ancient aboriginal story. During the course of the movie, a man is killed in retaliation for a slight, but its a case of mistaken identity; the wrong person is murdered. The murderer takes himself off, with a second, to the tribe of the victim in order to face his punishment. Both he, and his second, stand before the other tribe and face a barrage of spears. The murderer receives a wound just at the last, survives, and is carried away by his kin, including his second, who remains unharmed throughout. The tribe of the victim consider the debt for their dead brother paid. Unkown to them, the murderer later dies from his wounds. A natural kind of justice perhaps?

I felt that even if the murderer had survived, he had faced his punishment honourably and so the debt was paid. Much like the Sons of Tuireann, who completed the tasks set them, despite expectations they would perish.

From a personal point of view, I am never sure that our current justice system is adequate or imposes the kind of justice I would want. Then, I think of some of the people who might want to extract justice in the ways mentioned above and, perhaps, that would be worse, resulting in an ever escalating level of violence as we see in gang wars. Revenge killings are still reported in the news with regularity, too, however, this is not the type of personal justice I am advocating.
For me, each situation is different with individual requirements for compensation. Even I don't always seek compensation from those that slight me; some just aren't worth my time, and others lead to escalating wrongdoing.

What kind of justice would I want in a situation of manslaughter or murder? What if, as in the "Ten Canoes" situation, it was mistaken identity? I do know that I won't get the compensation I want; as my beliefs are at odds with our current justice system. I do know that I couldn't forgive the perpetrator, as so many others have done, and as is becoming somewhat expected by our society. Society might even consider me a godless heathen for thinking this way ...

Monday, 8 June 2009

Unforgiving

I have to acknowledge that I am an unforgiving person. I have always been so, even growing up within the Catholic faith, forgiveness was a tenet I never understood. Turning the other cheek was something I thought you ought to do when drawing back your fist, or other weapon before striking your enemy down with full force.

I have always felt that when someone wrongs me, I am entitled to compensation of a sort, even if its just an apology, but I'd prefer they suffer as I had. Perhaps this is why the laws of the ancients always appealed: they always extracted a price for wrongdoing. For instance, the price extracted by Lugh from the Sons of Tuireann for the slaughter of Cian. Although Lugh thought the tasks he set might kill them, the Sons of Tuireann return triumphant, and the debt is satisfied. To me that (almost) makes sense.

It has always been a strange thing to me that the male of the species is able to engage in violent, physical combat and, even if one comes out clearly the winner, both can consider the matter which was the catalyst for the fight closed and resume their previous (good) relationship. I acknowledge this is not always the case, but I have seen it occur often enough, and it occurs regularly in the myths. For my own part, I can consider a matter closed, but it will remain on record in my memory banks.

Don't get me wrong: I don't demand compensation for every slight or from every opponent. I am quite happy to debate matters, and will even take an opposing side in order to gain a deeper understanding of another's point of view, or just to play devil's advocate. I rarely take offence during an argument and rarely do I take such things personally; in fact, others have commented on my inability to take personal offence. Provided no personal insults are slung, I see no reason to seek satisfaction.

What I cannot do is forgive anyone, or anything that attacks me, my family or my friends, nor will I forget, which may separate me from the ancients. Just because someone pays the price for their actions against me, it does not necessarily follow I will forget the matter. A trust will have been broken and no compensation can restore trust.

I realised over the weekend, that I have no qualms about being the unforgiving sort. I used to feel (the Catholic) guilt over not being able to forgive, or turn the other cheek, but not anymore. Its how I feel; how I am. I am not inclined to change either.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Worst Day of My Life ...

I am posting this here, even though its off topic, because I had nowhere else to put it.

Yesterday was probably the worst day of my life (not accounting for anything in the future). I won't go into details, suffice to say: I was made acutely aware of just how insignificant and unimportant my life is in the most hurtful way possible. I am pretty sure an immeasurable number of days (maybe even years) will pass before ... well ... before I feel other than depressed, upset and angry; in that order.



To the universe: thanks for nowt.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Business is Booming

Although we are in an economic depression, some are still setting up business and doing well for themselves.

This is true for a friend of mine,
Lady Arachne, who started making robes and cloaks for various friends on a part-time basis. Lady Arachne was getting so many requests, she decided to set up a business and, eventually, had to quit her job in order to fill the orders she received.

Well, now,
Lady Arachne has set up her website and has expanded her range to include fantasy dresses and robes for handfastings and weddings. As the orders come in, and her range increases, Lady Arachne is still happy to take commissions for bespoke items.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A Warning?

You do hark.
Hark to me?
You still hark;
What do you see?

You do squawk.
Squawk at me?
You still squawk;
Talk to me?

Owl now hoots.
Hoots for me?
Owl still hoots;
Hoots at thee?

Raven, raven, owl;
Talk to me?
Raven, raven owl;
Message for me?




© Ancestral Celt 2009

Friday, 22 May 2009

Twittering Pagan Poetry Pages

I am not sure how many of you out there Twitter; I don't. However, the Pagan Poetry Pages are now on twitter, so if you are minded to do so, you can follow them through the micro-blogging site.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Bealltainn Edition of the Pagan Poetry Pages

bealtine




Front Cover

The Bealtine Edition of the PPP is now up!

We have fabulous poetry and the results of our Pagan Paeans Poetry competition. Sign up as a member to read new poems, give feedback and join in debates.

Survey: Religious Experience Amongst Followers of Nature-Based Traditions

For hundreds of years, individuals who experience unusual phenomena have, in the main, found such to bring more challenges than opportunities. Indeed, for many, it was the source of great suffering; from those tortured by inquisitors, to those who were locked in the halls of hospitals such as Bedlam, people who saw heard, or felt things not perceived by the majority were considered evil, or insane. Even today, people who have religious experiences are cautious when sharing such with others. Fears that they will be thought to be psychologically abnormal –crazy or even just ‘not quite the full quid’ keep many quiet about what are often interesting and possibly meaningful experiences.

Yet, for as long as humans have existed, there have been reports of such experiences. From those practicing the Shamanic traditions of ancient cultures through to those who employ the magical techniques of emerging civilizations, to those engage in mysticism, many individuals, who appear fully integrated members of their society or culture, have had experiences that are considered to fall outside of the range of that which is normal. However, if such is indeed a recurring aspect of human experience, it must be asked whether such experiences are truly abnormal, or whether they are expressive of a ‘normal’ dimension of within human personality.

Investigations into the psychology of religion have been looking at questions like these, trying to understand the psychology of religion. Associations with particular personality traits, as well as with particular forms creativity have been found, and questions have been raised as to whether what appear to be unusual religious experiences have been properly considered in the past. However, while many of these studies have looked at the experiences of people in mainstream religions, the experiences of people who identify with smaller, or less recognized religious groupings have not been well considered. This is unfortunate, because unless religious experience can be shown to be something that transcends the boundaries of particular religions, the question of whether it is part of normal human experience cannot be answered. Indeed, as long as religiosity is only considered as part of the paradigm of the established religions, it will only ever been seen through their eyes.

As part of attempts to diversify understanding, Dr. Tiliopoulos and myself (Caroline Fielden), from The University of Sydney, Australia are conducting research into the relationship between religious experience and particular aspects of personality. In particular we are looking for feedback from those who identify with nature-based religions – this being a community whose voice has yet to be properly heard in this type of research. We are hoping that such will reveal a clearer idea of what religiosity is, and what it means for our understanding of what it is to be human. To this end, we invite you to give expression to your experience, to complete this survey, which will be running for only a limited period of time. Please also feel free to pass on this survey, as the more respondents we have, the better. We thank you for your help, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Caroline at cfie7276 @ usyd.edu.au, or Dr. Tiliopoulos at nikot @ psychusyd.edu.au.

For those who wish to complete the survey follow the link below and simply answer the questions to the best of your ability. The survey should 5-10 minutes to complete.

CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

What I Believe ... continued

Further to my post of 18 February 2009, "What I Believe", I have considered other people's ideas and am now able to add to my list:
I believe in:
  1. the pre-Christian gods of the British Isles;
  2. genius loci, i.e. spirits of place and/or landscape;
  3. animism, i.e. spirits in plants, animals and some objects scientist might deign inanimate;
    ancestor worship;
  4. an energy, or force that permeates everything, though I am unsure as to its source (it could be the gods, or perhaps they are a part of it, like us);
  5. the effectiveness of magic and/or witchcraft, i.e. the ability of humans to source and utilise that energy and/or force;
  6. the ability to craft magic is unconnected with religious beliefs;
  7. crafting magic is a gift, in the blood, not a skill anyone can harness;
  8. the connectiveness of all, not unlike the heathen Web of Wyrd;
  9. the gods are separate from us, external, not something we project;
  10. (most of) the gods/goddesses are separate individuals and not aspects of just one;
  11. the gods are superior to us in some ways, mostly their ability to wield power/magic/energy;
  12. the gods are fallible, just like us;
  13. there are planes of existence other than this one, and they touch at certain points, even interact, with ours;
  14. it is possible to know the non-human denizens of the Otherworlds, such as the Sidhe and other beings, and that we can communicate with them.
I am sure I will add to this list as time goes on and I read the offerings from other pagans.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Trip to the Outer Hebrides

I am in a bit of a bind. I had pre-booked, and paid for a trip to the Outer Hebrides with Megalithic Tours for August this year. Then one of my close family members decides to have a "secret wedding" in September and they tell me so that I can arrange to attend the celebrations in Australia.

Wonderful.

Except ... I don't have enough holiday time left with work to travel to Australia and back, and the tour company had already booked and paid for the tour the week before I needed to cancel. I desperately need just one person to book a place on the Hebridean and Highlands tour in August. Unfortunately, it appears that bookings are down this year, so I am doing my utmost to promote the company, Megalithic Tours and the tours, wherein passengers visit ancient, mystical and historical sites.
I travelled with Megalithic Tours just last year, to the Orkney and Shetland islands and it was a fabulous trip. There is only ever 11 people travelling on the bus, the accommodation was marvellous and Neil, the guide, made everything go so smoothly and he was very flexible, allowing for the interests of the passengers. I simply cannot recommend Megalithic Tours enough, and that is why I had pre-booked this year's tour on the last day of our trip. I intend to travel with Megalithic Tours for the next couple of years as its exactly what I want in a tour - interesting, fun, reasonably priced (very good value for money), and easy. Its just a shame I have to bow out of this year's trip (and I was sooo looking forward to it).

So, if you know of anyone who might be interested, particularly in the Hebridean and Highlands tour in August, please, please recommend Megalithic Tours to them. Neil is always happy to answer any questions.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Skellig


I saw this programme being advertised prior to the Easter break, but, as it was on Sky and I only have freeview, I was unable to watch it. As luck would have it, I saw it in the supermarket the other night and, as there was nothing on television, I opted to buy it. I am a huge fan of Tim Roth’s and as the story appeared to have a supernatural element, I figured it was a safe bet.

I got home and settled myself down and started to watch the extras; I know I do things a little back to front from time to time. The mention of angels made me balk a little, but I gained an impression of a much darker story, so I started the movie a little perplexed as to its actual content. I was in for a welcome surprise.

Skellig is about life, death and rebirth, and the way in which a young boy, Michael, deals with the upheavals these events in his young life. First, he and his family move to a run-down house in a new area of town; second, his baby sister arrives unexpectedly and with complications; next he meets Grace, an elderly patient in the hospital; he meets a free-spirited, local girl, Mina; and, lastly, he finds Skellig in his garden shed. Michael’s life becomes chaotic and confusing as he finds himself out of place, and with little support.

Skellig is an enigmatic character, whose presence in Michael’s life adds a supernatural element to the tale. At first, only glimpses Skellig’s face and hands are seen but, as more of him in revealed, more questions are raised as to who, or what he is. Even with these doubts, Michael continues to build a relationship with his strange new friend.

I can’t say this movie has an unexpected end, but it certainly leaves the viewer with questions about the characters. The story moves along at an adequate pace, the storyline is a little different from the norm, the visuals are wonderful, somewhat seamlessly blending the everyday with the extraordinary, and the performances of the actors, particular young Bill Milner as Michael, are understated, making the world they inhabit seem more real in the face of the supernatural elements of the story.

Although aimed at children, I can see where this production would also appeal to adults. Certainly, its transported me back back to the confusion I felt as a pre-teen as to my place in the world and what was expected of me from friends, family and, well, people in general.

Well worth watching, even if I have more questions than answers.

Rating: 4/5.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Beannachd Bealltainn




Wishing all readers of this blog good fortune, good health and a glorious summer.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Unsung

Fortitude in greyness comes.
Not with pithy sayings:
Chin Up;
Keep a Stiff Upper Lip;
Pull Your Finger Out;
Pull Your Socks Up;
Get a grip;
It is always darkest just before dawn;
Things can only get better;
Count your blessings;
God helps those who help themselves;
Pick yourself up;
Dust yourself off;
Start all over again,
... so often said though rarely stirring.

Fortitude in greyness comes.
Not in cheery countenance;
A well-placed arm of sympathy;
Nor coaxing voice of reason;
Or rousing motivational speaker -
All well meant, but inneffective.

Fortitude in greyness comes.
When the sight of those who, in silence,
Tending to their daily obligations,
With ne'er a complaint or confrontataional protest,
Or even a whispered, wistful wish -
just acceptance and contentment.
(Or so it seems to our jaded eyes)

Fortitude in greyness comes.
Not with colour, fireworks, music;
No pomp and ceremony;
No light from above nor inner voice;
No applause nor cheering crowds;
No medals, honours or badges.
No future Bards will recall the moment,
Of some glorious, valorous turn.

No.

No, Fortitude in greyness comes,
When remembering the unsung,
The forgotten everyman, and everywoman
Whose drab, maybe even dreary lives[?],
Continue unabated, uncontested and unrelieved.
Doing what needs to be done;
Day in; day out - with unrelenting persistence.
Those who consistently endure;
With fortitude.

Fortitude in greyness comes.
Plain, simple and unassuming.




© 2009 Ancestral Celt

Friday, 17 April 2009

Pre-Order "Pagan Paeans"

Yes! You can order directly from Cafe Press and be the proud owner of a copy of the "Pagan Paeans" anthology in a matter of days!

Beautifully printed with high quality covers and binding - the "Pagan Paeans" anthology is going to grace any bookshelf, and help wile away many a happy hour. Be transported to the wilds of nature, or provoked by our satirists; dream of gods and heros or indulge in nostalgia. There is something for every mood, for every reader.

Order now! Be the first to own a first edition of "Pagan Paeans".

Pagan Paeans has an IBSN 978-0-9562403-0-9 and can be wholesaled or bought directly. From May 1st, it will be available through Cafe Press (USA, UK and Ireland, Europe, Rest of World), ppp@anfianna.com (paypal, postal order, individual sales or wholesale UK and Ireland only), and/or Nielsen Book Net teleordering (wholesale only).

Hate Poetry?

Fake it. I don't care :) This is a note of Shameless Celtic Boasting in the grand tradition of our forebears to raise awareness that: (a) we have an anthology; and(b) it's damn fine. PPP Publications are terribly proud of themselves. And if you're thinking why the giddy hell is she annoying ME with this - it's so you know we have an anthology!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Look What I've Got


I am at a loss as to know why, but a talented poet sent me this gorgeous, hand made calendar. I am so chuffed. I knew that this particular poet had sent similar (though each one is individual) items to others, I was unaware of just how beautiful they truly are until I had mine delivered to me today. It will be a family heirloom and I shall always treasure it, even if I have no idea what I did to deserve such an honour.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Pagan Poetry Competition

"Inspirations"

The Pagan Poetry Pages are proud to announce the latest poetry competition. Take either of the images provided at the website - and write a poem. The best, most original take on it wins!

The winner will recieve a great prize: a £20 gift voucher for either Amazon UK or Amazon US AND a free copy of "Pagan Paeans", the first Pagan Poetry Pages anthology, which is to be released on May 1st, 2009! Post your entries at the Pagan Poetry Pages website, in the section entitled "PPP competitions". Just follow the instructions posted there.

If you are not already a member, register, it's free and very easy to do! If you have any queries please email ppp at anfianna.com.


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Myths

I have been following with interest a conversation about myths and how they are viewed by pagans. This stems from a comment whereby someone said:

Hellenic/Romanesque pagans ... [can't] ... all literally believe their myths actually happened.

I thought this rather presumptious. To my mind, the myths did occur. Maybe not exactly as we hear (or read) them today (generations of bards altering each tale to suit their listening audience), and maybe not in this world, but certainly in one form or another. I'm sure some of the characters may have changed, or merged (as he scriptwriters are want to do when rendering a book suitable for a screenplay), descriptions may have altered, feats exaggerated and so on, but that's not to say that the feats of the gods, heroes and ancestors didn't occur at all.

I am also of the belief that the myths were not concocted simply as a means of informing our ancestors of the best way to live their lives. In some instances, this may be true, but surely not all?

Perhaps I am taking things too literally myself?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Pagan Poetry Pages Anthology

I spent a considerable amount of time last night working through the anthology for the Pagan Poetry Pages, so, hopefully it will be out before the Summer solstice.

I must say I am pleased with the submissions and will be happy to purchase several copies: one or two for myself and a few for my friends, too.

I just hope that Fate decides not to throw more spanners into the works.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Pagan Voices

I would be grateful if anyone is able to locate a copy of a book called "Pagan Voices" by Joe McGowan, published in Ireland in 2007. I have been searching for a reasonably priced copy for quite some time. So far, I have only located two copies, both of which are to be purchased through what appear to be unsecured websites. I am wary of this, as I had my credit card, and personal details ripped from another unsecured book site a few years ago.

I am prepared to pay postage and am happy to do a favour in return for anyone that can assist me.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

What I believe ...

There has been a few postings about what people believe, some of which are quite deep and even intricate. I don't feel I have that level of understanding - yet. I would like to post a bit about what I believe though.

I believe in:

  1. the pre-Christian gods of the British Isles;
  2. genius loci, i.e. spirits of place and/or landscape;
  3. animism, i.e. spirits in plants, animals and some objects scientist might deign inanimate;
  4. ancestor worship;
  5. an energy, or force that permeates everything, though I am unsure as to its source (it could be the gods, or perhaps they are a part of it, like us);
  6. the effectiveness of magic and/or witchcraft, i.e. the ability of humans to source and utilise that energy and/or force;
  7. the connectiveness of all, not unlike the heathen Web of Wyrd.

Far from being comprehensive or complete, I will endeavour to add to this list as and when I can remember the rest of my beliefs.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Another Convert away from Paganism

I have yet to read these entries, but I thought it worth noting that there has been information sent about another convert away from paganism, including the letter she sent to her new, Christian congregation.

You can read about it at: Reality Television Witch Converts.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Another Pagan Dating Site





Yes, that's right. I've found yet another pagan dating site, thanks to a visitor to this blog searching for it and winding up here, instead.

Its set up like a social networking site and its called, rather unoriginally, "
Pagan Dating". Having joined, I have realised I am one of a very few members who resides in the United Kingdom, however I'm hoping that will change very quickly as these networking sites seem to be very popular these days.

I do hope this one brings forth more interesting male members than the others, from which I've had very little interest, despite sending out various messages.

Friday, 9 January 2009

More Quesions than Answers

Well, it seems the issue of conversion, and the belief that a lack of a cohesive community within paganism being one of the causes has raised a lot of issues. I have spent most of this evening reading and responding to the various posts on the topic, the most interesting of which I read at "The Northwest Passage", whose commentators raised even more questions. I'm going to spend some time going over my own thoughts and may, or may not post further on these topics.

In the meantime, I would like to thank Deo and Carl McColman for writing about their experiences and braving any resultant criticisms/debates.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Moving Away from Paganism

This topic has arisen - again - in several forms over the last few days.

Today, I read a blog about pagan atheists, and then these two blogs, "Outgrowing Paganism?" and one of the responses, "Pagans are not a Community nor a Tribe -- Not Yet" on another blog. These linked to the article by pagan author, Carl McColman, [read his list of book titles here] on his converting to Catholicism from paganism, "After the Magic". Yesterday, I read the Rambling Corkgirls blog entry "Afraid of Gods?", which talked about the rise of atheist paganism and the attendant reader's comments.

I am curious as to other pagans might consider the reason people are turning away from paganism.

Personally, I don't buy the argument is because we are not a community or tribe, nor am I sure that people are "afraid of the gods" (though this was a tongue-in-cheek title). It seems strange to me, having come from a Catholic background, and having researched the tenets of several religions before realising my beliefs fell under the umbrella of pagan, that people could outgrow paganism and become atheists - just because the gods were silent. I have never believed the gods should always speak to us.

Similarly, I cannot understand Mr McColman's reasoning for Catholicism: the magic left, meditation didn't work anymore. As someone else recently said:

'The magic left?' So what about the catholic priest who claims to magically transform a wafer and a few drops of vino into the body of his God, by way of some mumbled mystical mutterings? Meditation didn't work anymore? So what about the spiritual exercises of the Jesuits, compliments of 'Saint' Ignacius De Loyola? Or the mind numbingly boring constant repetitious prayers of the rosary before a plaster catholic idol of your choice?
Source: An Fianna.

It like giving up a diet because you've hit a plateau, isn't it? Or, am I completely missing the point?

I should point out that I do not equate being pagan with a lifestyle choice, i.e. a countryside dweller and/or undertaking "green, crafty, farming, gardening, knitting or whatever activities" (to paraphrase a comment made at this blog).

Any thoughts, ideas welcome.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Moderating Fora

Further to my post of 14 October 2008, "Moderating Message Boards", once again I have been asked to join a moderating team. Its nice to know that people have such respect for me, and my contributions, to consider me for such a position.

Unfortunately, this time, I believe I am going to have to decline the position. As much as I would like to give something back to this particular forum, I won't have the time this year. I want to concentrate on my Gaelic in my spare time, and, to be honest, I have a feeling we will be very busy at work this year, leaving very little time on the internet to write my online journals, and participate in the various forums where I am a member, let alone undertake any kind of administrative duties for message boards.

Although I've not made any resolutions for this year, I have set myself some goals; one of which is to make headway in my "to be read" list of books, and in order to achieve that goal, I have set another whereby I will reduce the amount of time I spend surfing the internet. I haven't made a start yet, because I now need reading glasses and I am awaiting my prescription but, once I have my glasses, I will work out a timetable to ensure I meet my target of 20 books by December, which I feel is achievable.

So, if it appears I am not writing as much as before, its because I am studying (and practising) more. Either that, or work has indeed become manic.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Goodbye

Totally off topic, but I wanted a post to mark the passing of my Grandmother, Kathleen, on the weekend. At 93, my grandmother had lived a marvellous and long life but, having had her around so long, it's hard to believe she won't be there anymore. I just hope she is at peace, as I know she had been fretful and fearful towards the end.

I cherished the relationship I had fostered with her as an adult, and I'm extremely sad to lose her. At least I still have my other grandmother, who is one of my best, and closest friends.

I am unable to attend the funeral, as this will be taking place back in Australia on Friday, but I will be lighting a candle in her honour.