For Mabon: The Spoils of Annwn

The Power of Bardic Poetry

In the early 1990′s I taught a workshop called Into the West: A Course in Celtic Shamanism, that included ritual work centered around an ancient poem by the great Welsh bard, Taliesin called The Spoils of Annwn. It is probably one of the most  powerful initiatory poems ever created. If you work with it, image by image, you will be taken on a journey to Otherworld, by ship, to capture the Holy Grail. Many teachings and gifts come from contact with the Grail; gifts of wisdom, healing, and artistic creativity, especially the power of poetry, and the ability to bring forth Tales from the deep mind of the Collective Unconscious.

I am printing a translation I have never seen before. It would take ages to unearth the one I used to use  found in the works of John and Caitlin Matthews that is much more traditional.

This one is very well done! The keys are not in the words themselves, though they must sing to be effective. What you must focus on with any of the Arthurian stuff particularly, are the IMAGES. the more clearly you form images in your mind, the more you bring them to life. When you get really good, you can enter into them and the journey becomes a reality in the Otherworld of Faery.

A Small Interpretation

It is in Annwn ( pronounced An-ah-oon) that you will find the Mabon, here called Gwair. He is imprisoned, held by a chain, in the Spiral Castle, by Awrawn, (Awr-ah-oon) King of Annwn who is also Lord of the Underworld or the Dead.

In the poem below, King Arthur brings his men to release the Divine Child from the Annwn, and to seize the Grail, or, Cauldron of Rebirth. The symbolism of the Cauldron is that of the Great Mother. Gwair is  divine because he is the son of the Goddess. Gwair was captured and held in the Underworld by Awrawn, thus depriving the earth of his vital force, the lack of which contributes to the desolation of the Wasteland.

I believe this poem contains the vestiges of an ancient ritual in which Gwair is released and returned to the land of the living by Arthur, who also brings the great Goddess back in the form of the Grail. This ritual was done to insure the harvest and to protect the fertility of the land.

Demeter and Persephone / Mabon and Modron

There are parallels between the Mabon and Modron story and that of Demeter and Persephone, but whereas the Mother/Daughter myth is fully Pagan and untainted by Christianity, the story of Mabon and Modron has come under its influence. Keys to the understanding of this dynamic, and that of the Grail Legend generally, are these:

1. The Grail legends describe a spiritual and social battle between Faery and encroaching Christianity.

2. The need to heal the Wasteland is implied when it is not spelled out.

3. There is a conflict between the old ways of honoring the Goddess Sovereignty and respecting her rites so as to insure the fertility of the land, and the deliberate destruction of the ways of the Goddess by the Christian ecclesiastics who are determined to spread their influence into Her territory to redeem the land, in their terms,  under the rule of Christ as God.

With these underlying concepts in mind, it is easy to see that the Goddess is symbolized by the Cauldron of the Grail, and her Divine Son is the pre-Christian Son  who must bring life back to the land through some kind of rite of scared marriage or, as is most likely in the Arthurian saga, to replace the aging and enfeebled  King, wounded by a Christian relic — the Spear of Longinus.

So, here is the great shamanic poem — the first work of literature that mentions King Arthur, as he attempts to steal the Cauldron of Annwn.

The Spoils of Annwn

I will praise the Lord, the Sovereign, the King of the land,
who has extended his rule over the strand of the world.
Well equipped was the prison of Gwair in Caer Siddi
according to the story of Pwyll and Pryderi.
None before him went to it,
to the heavy blue chain’ it was faithful servant whom it restrained,
and before the spoils of Annwn sadly he sang.
And until Judgement Day our bardic song will last.
Three shiploads of Prydwen we went to it;
except for seven, none returned from Caer Siddi.

I am honored in praise, song is heard
In Caer Pedryfan, four-sided,
my eulogy, from the cauldron it was spoken.
By the breath of nine maidens it was kindled.
The cauldron of the Head of Annwn, what is its custom,
dark about its edge with pearl?
It does not boil a coward’s food; it had not been so destined.
The sword of Lluch Lleawg was raised to it,
and in the hand of Lleminawg it was left.
And before the door of the gate of hell, lanterns burned.
And when we went with Arthur, renowned conflict
except for seven, none returned from Caer Feddwid.

I am honored in praise, song will be heard.
In Caer Pedryfan, island of the strong door,
noon and jet-black are mixed.
Bright wine their drink before their warband.
Three shiploads of Prydwen we went to the sea;
except for seven, non returned from Caer Rigor.

I, lord of learning, do not deserve lowly men.
Beyond Caer Wydr they had not seen Arthur’s valor.
Three score hundred men stood on the wall;
it was difficult to speak with their watchman.
Three shiploads of Prydwen wen went with Arthur;
except for seven, none returned from Caer Goludd.

I do not deserve lowly men, slack their defense.
They do not know what day…,
what hour of the midday God was born,
who…
They do not know the Speckled Ox, thick his headring,
seven score links in his collar.
And when we went with Arthur, disastrous visit,
except for seven, none returned from Caer Fanddwy.

I do not deserve lowly men, slack their attack.
They do not know what day…,
what hour of the midday the lord was born,
what animal they keep, silver its head.
When we went with Arthur, disastrous strife,
except for seven, none returned from Caer Ochren.

Monks crowd together like a choir of whelps
from the battle of lords who will be known.
Is the wind of one path? Is the sea of one water?
Is fire, irresistible tumult, of one spark?

Monks crowd together like a pack of wolves
from the battle of lords who will be known.
They do not know when darkness and dawn separate
or the wind, what is its path, is its onrush,
what does it destroy, what land does it strike?
How many lost saints and how many others?

I will praise the Lord, the Great Prince.
May I not be sad, Christ will endow me.

Underworld by Eric Kincaid

Underworld by Eric Kincaid

My Mabon Mystery

September, 1995

Today I gave Her blackbirds. To me She gave a dark heart.

She is Binah, the Sorrowful Mother. She points to the earth.

Her tears fall on the earth and go down under the ground

bringing with them Her pain and sorrow.

The Child is in my heart

radiant and crowned

But below me is a starry cave in the dark center

of the earth. Down there

is a radiant child wrapped in a strong blue chain.

Gwair! Mabon! The Divine Son of the Goddess.

I follow a mischievous child

down a dark, L shaped corridor.

I sense mirrors, shimmering.

We enter a wide cavern. Along the walls

are the effigies of dead heroes.

Light comes through a crevice in the ceiling

and shines on a beautiful Goddess

bathed in blue and starry light

with the Child upon her lap.

“I am the Divine Mother at the center of the earth.

I am the Mother of the Wild Beasts.”

Antlers flicker on her head to be

replaced by a large gold crown.

“I am Lady Sovereignty.”

She hands me a golden vessel

filled with rose-gold light.

I pour its contents over me.


A vista opens in the wall —

all green and lovely. Tinkling sounds

and birdsong.

A sweep of stairway –

a tower in the distance

high upon a hill — Glastonbury Tor.

I go up the winding stairway.

The tower shifts and then revolves.

It flickers. Stars begin to spiral around its top.

Day has turned to night.

I enter a vast lit hall with a

checkerboard tiled floor.

I sense a host of beings

at the far end of the vast room.

I must walk very slowly.

Above the chandeliers tinkle

and give off a radiant, holy light.

I walk against a force — laboriously I move forward.

the room begins to spin widdershins –

I feel swept away by its motion.

Dizzy.

It stops and I am moving toward a Faery Host.

Suddenly my steps are swift.

The Faeries part and then I see

a Queen upon a high throne

of such radiance and beauty I cannot speak or move.

A huge shaft of light goes

up from her body to the top

of the tower and out to the

spiral of stars.

This is the Triune Goddess in Her

Heavenly aspect.

“Where is the child?” i ask.

I am beckoned to come close to her.

The light is almost blinding.

I am lifted up the shaft of light

like an elevator

and find myself at the top of the tower

looking out over the silent, peaceful world.

The top of the tower becomes a great basin

in which I float.

A silver ladder falls from the sky.

I grab it and moved into Oneness…


Oh the power of the Faery Magic! May the Green Light of Faery fill Your Life with Abundance!

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What are the Magical Signs of Autumn?

Celtic Trees of the Equinoxes

Bloeuwedd by Emily Brunner

Blodeuwedd by Emily Brunner

Ogham

Those of you who have been following this blog have probably noticed that I am a great lover of trees and would naturally be drawn to the poetry of Celtic Ogham, the Sacred Tree Oracle of Ireland.

Ogham was used as a writing system, similar to Runes and are perhaps as ancient, coming from times when priests divined the future by the flight of geese, the entrails of men and animals, and the way the twigs and branches of the trees crossed the sky. There are thirteen trees, one for each lunar month, and they correspond to a letter — or a sign for a sound that makes up a word. Each tree is appropriate for the time of year in which its month falls. For instance, at Samhain, the Celtic New Year, the month of November is marked by Birch. Birch rods were used for purification. As the people moved through the gate of the year,they were flogged with birch branches to drive out undesirable energies. Thus they were enables to go through the dangerous dark time of year in a state where the darkness would not be able to find them or  stick to them.

Each tree was symbolized by a series of marks drawn on sticks. they could also be made with formations of the hands and fingers, and it has been said that the Druids used hand ogham as a form of sign language to keep their messages secret from the Romans.

ogham staves

ogham staves

Whitethorn, Blackthorn, Flower Maiden, Owl

As we move into Autumn, we move closer to Faery, and the veil is thinnest on the approach to Samhain.

Thorn trees line the paths into Faery. The entrances are graced by the Hawthorn, Maythorn, or Whitethorn, of Beltane. At the end of the road is the Blackthorn that marks the path into the Underworld.

Hawthorn, or Whitethorn, was once used to decorate May poles. At one time Hawthorns were believed to be Witches who had transformed themselves into trees. Witches have long danced and performed their rites beneath the thorn.

The Whitethorn is sacred to the Faery Queen, the Welsh Triple Goddess Olwen of the White Track, as well as the Flower Maiden, Blodeuwedd. These are all goddesses of transformation who stand at the gates of the year when darkness blossoms into light, and light  bleeds into darkness.

Though the Maythorn is white,  seeds of darkness are within it, for the bird with which it is associated is the Night Raven and its color is “Terrible”. It is also the sister of the trickster magpi, the cloven hoofed goat, the imitative cuckoo, and the dragonfly.  This symbolism suggests that  deep within the forces of  youth, life, and beauty, hides the germ of betrayal and death. Birth is but the beginning of a journey that leads to the same grim destination, no matter what twists and turns the path takes to get us there.

Blossoms

The Whitethorn (or Maythorn or Hawthorn) blooms brightest during the season of Beltane.  In April, May and June, it is full, bushy, strongly perfumed, and buzzing with a thousand bees drawn to the nectar that that heady fragrance shows off. Under the gauzy femininity of the Whitethorn in flower, are branches studded with long, sharp, penetrating thorns. The thorns are masculine: protective and phallic.  Flowering in Spring, the Whitethorn is associated with fertility; it stimulates eroticism, and encourages the fulfillment of desire. Its pallor brings it under the rulership of the Moon, long the Queen of Romantic Love, and Mother of Souls. The Moon in this role can also be compared with the Queen of the Bees that harvest the honey of the Whitethorn.

Thorns

Thorns are about penetration, breaking through the surface and letting blood. When we open to the Faery, sometimes we must let a little blood, get over our fears of pain and letting go. While the thorns of the Whitethorn symbolize sexual union, those of the Blackthorn symbolize death.

I also recall the paths between the graves in Highgate Cemetery being bordered with Whitethorn, the primary Faery tree. So again the mixing of light and darkness within the same symbol.

In 1997, I went into the depths of Cornwall looking for Modron’s Well, a sacred well of healing and wish granting. I had to walk about three miles before I came to a path that wound between frothy white bushes of Maythorn in full bloom. The sound of the bees was so loud and the scent of the may so strong, that I was in a light trance by the time I got to ruin of Modron’s Chapel and the Wishing Well, I was well into Faery. I know well the power of the Goddess in her white gown of flowers and thorns.

Straith

The Blackthorn tree is esoterically known as both the Mother of the Woods and the Dark Crone of the Woods. The sharp thorns were reputedly used by English witches to pierce poppets in their curses, called the “pins of slumber.”

As we enter the dark time of year, the Blackthorn, or Sloe Tree, begins to throw its shadow over the path. As we touch the lintel of the gates to Faery we will feel a blast of cold air, and we may hear the howling of wolves far off in the snow and darkness at the other side of Samhain. The blackbird and the toad attend the Blackthorn. In the same sense that darkness lurks at the heart of the light in Spring, so does light shine in the heart of the Blackthorn, for one only has to hear the gorgeous song of a blackbird in contrast to that of Night Raven, and to know that the Sacred color of Blackthorn is “Bright”. In folklore, the toad is said to have potent jewel in its forehead capable of dispensing lucid dreams.

The sloes, or British Plums that are the fruit of the Blackthorn are left to putrefy and transformed into Sloe Gin — a form of resurrection from dissolution, similar to that of John Barleycorn.

The night of the Blackthorn is that of the Old Moon, lit up by fires that mark the road into the Underworld of Faery where the Dark Goddess dwells with all her reckoning power. There we find Emain Macha fortress of the Goddess of Death, the Black Man of the forest with his book of souls, and his black dog that is said to be the devil. We find the Old Mother of the Woods — the classic Witch of Grimm’s fairy tales. As a thorned tree, Blackthorn is also protective. It can be used as a hedge, or its strong branches woven into fencing, to keep animals inside a pasture and the predators out.

Flower Face: Blodeuwedd

In between the betwixt and between, of the White and Black thorns is the Flower Maiden, Blodeuwedd. She has been very important to me in the last few years, appearing in the oddest places in my writing and my dreams. When I first went to England I found this poster in a small village in Somerset. It was past its time so I took it home and have it still.

Company of Strangers: a Wife Out of Flowers

Company of Strangers: A Wife Out of Flowers

The story of Blodeuwedd, from the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi: Tale of Math Son of Mathonwy,  in a nutshell, is this:

Lleu Llaw Gyffes was placed under three curses by his mother the Goddess, Arianrhod, and the last of these dictates was that he will never have a human wife.

Thwarting the Great Goddess’s rage, King Math, and Lleu’s uncle Gwydion, created a  beautiful wife for Lleu out of nine flowers, among them broom, meadowsweet, and oak.   She was called “Flower Face” or  Blodeuwedd. Since she was not human, Lleu was able to marry her and escape his mother’s curse.


One day, when Lleu was away from home visiting Math, Blodeuwedd saw a nobleman, the Lord of Penllyn, Gronw Pebr, passing by. She invited him in, to stay for a while. ( it would be rude not do so). They fell in love, and this led to the desire to kill Lleu.


Lleu had strong protection. There was only one way he could be killed, and that was his special secret. But clever Blodeuwedd tricked him into telling her what the conditions were, and they were these: He could not be killed indoors or outdoors, on horseback or on foot; and only by a spear forged when people were attending mass could inflict a fatal wound.  Yet even this killing could only take effect if he had one foot on a bathtub and one on a goat (the bathtub being placed on a river bank, but under a roof) and by someone using the sacred spear.

Gronw sepnt a year making the spear just as he was instructed by Blodeuwedd.


When the year was up,  Blodeuwedd managed to persuade Lleu to show her the odd position, of standing with one foot on a goat and one in a bathtub,  in which he might be killed. Suspecting nothing, he did so. Gronw, who had been waiting in ambush, threw the spear  at him. However, rather than dying outright Lleu turned into an eagle and flew away, sorely wounded.

Gronw then took Blodeuedd as his wife, and with her, Lleu’s land.


Llues’ uncle Gwydion went in search of him, and following the guidance of a magical pig, found him in his eagle form, and still suffering from his wound, at the top of an oak tree by a lake. He called him down from the tree with three stanzas of poetry called
englyn Gwydion, that transformed him back into a man. Gwydion took him home where Math nursed him back to health. When he was fully recovered, Lleu sought revenge on Gronw and his wife.


Blodeuwedd heard of this and fled, taking her maidens with her. They were so frightened, that they walked backwards to make sure nobody attacked them from behind. Unfortunately, they ended up falling into a lake. Only Blodeuwedd survived. Gwydion captured her, and instead of killing her, turned her into an owl saying
:” You will not show your face to the light of day, rather you shall fear other birds; they will be hostile to you, and it will be their nature to maul and molest you wherever they find you. You will not lose your name but always be called Blodeuwedd.”


Gronw offered Lleu land or money as payment, but Lleu would only accept one resolution: that he throw a spear at Gronw in the same way that he had been attacked. Gronw accepted, but asked that a large stone be placed between him and Lleu as a sheild. Nevertheless, Lleu threw the spear right through the stone and killed Gronw. After this, he took back his lands, and later succeeded Math as king of Gwynedd.

Goddess of Dark and Light, the Thresholds of the Year.

Blodeuwedd has within her the same light and dark qualities as the Whitethorn and Blackthorn trees that mark the way into Faery. Made of the flowers, she is the essence of Springtime fertility, youth, and beauty. At the core of this beauty lurks the seed of betrayal and death, for she was created to foil the curse of the Great mother, Arianrhod. This betrayal turns on Lleu as he is struck dead with a blackthorn spear. (The myth says he becomes and eagle, but birds are so often symbols of the soul in art, and in tales, that people who become birds can be thought of as dead.) Her transformation into an owl throws her through the Blackthorn gate and out into the night.
In this she is similar to Lillith — the Demoness who usurped the power of man and was banished for it into the outer darkness.
One can  follow Blodeuwedd as she grows. First she is the Whitethorn at the head of the Faery path at Beltane, then she dips into shadow as her blossoms fall and leaves and haws cover her in red and green. In Autumn, she  flies through the gates of the  Equinox to become the Owl of Samhain.

The owl as oracular bird, omen of death, calling unseen from the darkness, is found in many folk traditions.

The Eternal Unfolding of Darkness and Light

The thing I love about this Goddess, and all of the Celtic goddesses, is how they are all inclusive: the sweetness and light are not allowed to stand alone, making them insipid and flat. Rather, they bear the seeds of mystery, a dark glamor that gives them a disturbing, yet vital quality. One never knows exactly how to read these Goddesses. Something always remains aloof. Though there is seeming  danger here, there is also the promise of knowledge of life beyond mortality, of living consciousness that transcends bodily existence as spirit living in dimensions of the Unseen, and yet bound to return again in the time of  flowering.

Not of mother and father
Did my Creator create me
But of nine-formed virtues,
Of the fruit of fruits,
Of the fruit of the primordial God,
Of primroses and blossoms,
Of the flower, wood and tree.
Cad Goddeu

The owl has a flower face…

Related article:

How to Communicate With Trees

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Numerologist Tania Gabrielle and Number 11

This is too spooky!

As you know I did a little rant in my last post about the Astrological and Numerological energies influencing the planet at this very moment. The next day, I found this video by Tania Gabrielle. She’s really good, and has many more videos on Youtube.

Tania talks about this sea change we are experiencing in terms of numerology. I used my knowledge of numbers via Tarot and Astrology to arrive at the same conclusions.

This is very relevant stuff just now. I hope you can give some time to it.

http://taniagabrielle.com/blog
Hello my name is Tania Gabrielle, Celebrity Numerologist and Author. Welcome to my channel and thanks so much for stopping by!

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Pluto in Capricorn for 16 Years — What Does it Mean?

I was very moved to do this podcast today.

On September 11 the planet Pluto moved into the astrological sign of Capricorn for the next 16 years, marking the start of new era. It is one of the most important for the planet that I have lived through. This morning all the symbols fell into place in my mind that explain why this time is so significant. I wanted to share what I discovered with you in the quickest way I could.

There are ties in with numerology and the symbolism of the number 11 — a very constant number in my life this year. I forgot o mention while I was recording — in addition to all the 11 symbols I picked up, that September 11 = 9+11   to make another  11. — a Master Number! 11+11= 22 which = 4 — a number of practicality like building blocks. This symbolism repeats the symbolism I  discuss in the podcast about Pluto in Capricorn.

I hope you get a lot out of it. I was surprised to discover my inner Preacher — ooooEEEEwwwww. And how, as a Aquarius. I couldn’t avoid a call to revolution. So have a laugh as well!

But please listen. Despite its flaws everyone needs to hear this and can benefit from it. This wasn’t brought through just for me — but all of us.

Stream it here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download it by clicking the title here: Its about 15 minutes long.

Signs of New Times mp3

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Are Past Life Memories Real?

A history of recurring dreams

Every winter, from 1986-1990, I relived a past life  so vividly, I cannot doubt that my prior existence as another version of myself was real.

The theme of these memories had played a role in my life since childhood.

I was killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre of December, 1890.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown, was published in  1970. I first saw this book on display on the front desk at the Leicester Public  Library and instantly reached for it and checked  it out. I was suddenly immersed in the story of Western Tribes and their terrible fate at the hands of the U.S. government. Since part of my family were Indians, it took hold of my imagination and never let go.

Time magazine reviewed the book saying:
“In the last decade or so, after almost a century of saloon art and horse operas that romanticized Indian fighters and white settlers, Americans have been developing a reasonably acute sense of the injustices and humiliations suffered by the Indians. But the details of how the West was won are not really part of the American consciousness … Dee Brown, Western historian and head librarian at the University of Illinois, now attempts to balance the account. With the zeal of an IRS investigator, he audits U.S. history’s forgotten set of books. Compiled from old but rarely exploited sources plus a fresh look at dusty Government documents, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee tallies the broken promises and treaties, the provocations, massacres, discriminatory policies and condescending diplomacy.”

Dreams

I began to have recurring dreams that I was a white woman with very pale blond hair. I am looking at a large rock with a dry, twisted tree growing out of it. I scream and start crying. I know that behind that rock is a dead Indian man who had just been shot. I wake up.

Of course, Westerns were all over the television when I was growing up, and a young girl’s fantasies could easily run in the direction but of this dream. But this had no element of wish fulfillment. It was tragic. And it wasn’t the end.

Shamanic Illness

My Saturn Return was bearable, even though it is in the 7th House. But my 8th House Saturn Transit was from Hell. It is a Scorpio House for me and Venus, my chart ruler, is in there in Sagittarius. OUCH!

This was the most intense, darkly Scorpionic time I have lived through yet. I won’t say why,  (except that it involved a man — what else?) but I was subjected to terrible, unrelenting  psychic attack.
I was shocked and horrified that my one reliable defense, my powerful abilities in meditation were useless. I could not still my mind, but was surrounded with a black vortex that swirled around me and made me feel oppressed and ill. I still remember an entity putting something around my neck as if to strangle me from behind. The person who was doing this was indulging in some pretty nasty thought forms!

That obvious attempt to kill me on the astral plane woke me up to the kind of danger I was in, so  I sat down and said “I am going to push this darkness away with my light.” I began to focus on the golden  light in my heart, and willed it to  grow and grow  until all the entities, and the vortex were pushed away. Suddenly I was immersed in a sea of streaming golden light. It was as if I had gone into the sun! And in the midst of this molten light were two eyes and face like Christ, ( or Albrecht Durer lol! )

Afterwards, the attack energies were gone, and I began to have Shamanic dreams.

The recurring dream from my childhood  began again.  The same rock, the tree. my screams and the knowledge that an Indian man had been shot and lay behind the rock. It wasn’t because of the book this time. Maybe it was because I had Indian friends and was around them and on the reservations a lot. But the dream coming in the midst of visions and spiritual visitations, gave it it more significance for me. And the fact that I remembered it from so long ago.

One Who Was Lost Returns

In 1986, I began to work with a spiritual healer as a form of therapy. I had a terrible family life as a child and have had to periodically clear stuff away to be free of them and move on. The healing involved very deep kundalini yoga practices and I took to it like a fish to water.

It was about six months into this work, in December,  that I was meditating in the living room, when a man appeared before me. He was so real, I could touch him! He was a Plains Indian man with very long, thick chestnut brown hair and big, doe eyes. Weird part was, was that the lower part of his face was sealed over with a kind of filmy bandage  as if to erase his mouth. He was lanky, and brown, and wore skins — very 19th century looking. Telepathically, he sent me a message. “Stop trying to find me. I am not in a body. But I look after you.”

Words cannot convey how weird this was.  What he said hit me like a club, for I knew that he was the dead Indian man behind the rock in my recurring dreams.

Four Years of Memories

After that,  every December, I got one more piece of the story.
The second year told me I had been captured by the Lakota Tribe and had married this man. I had a feeling he was Cheyenne for some reason. I can’t explain that.  We were very happy together. White men didn’t like captured white women being happy with Indians, so they killed him.

The third year,  I found out that one of my clients had been in the cavalry unit that was at Wounded Knee and had seen me being killed. We made eye contact at that moment, and out of that we had some karma (for want of a better word.) to work out.  When I told him this, he said he knew it was true. It was like something fell into place about our relationship and his perception of me.

The last year was  in December, 1990.

As a person with Iroquois heritage, I was a subscriber to Akwesasne Notes, a tribal newspaper printed on the reservation in upstate New York. I came home one day and found it on my doorstep. For some reason, I didn’t want to touch it. I picked it up like  a dead mouse and threw in into a corner of the kitchen counter.

Later that day, I sat meditation and had a vision of men and horses riding to the mass grave  on Pine Ridge where the bodies of those slain in the Wounded Knee massacre were buried. They did  a ceremony during which I saw a ghost come out of the grave and come back to me. My spirit  had been trapped there, and had been returned to me.

Later on, I was able to finally able to open that edition of Akwesasne Notes. It was all about the Wounded Knee massacre with its classic photo of Big Foot dead in the snow. There was an article about several spiritual leaders from Pine Ridge riding on horseback to the mass grave of the victims to do a  healing ceremony for those who were buried there. It was the one-hundred year anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre.

I wrote to them about what had happened to me but they never responded. The next year I went to South Dakota to visit the grave and place a tobacco tie on the fence that surrounds it. I realized I had been afraid to go there before that. I still don’t really like to talk about this, but I think the information about past life memories might be of value , rather than what the memories are about.

As part of that trip, my friend and I drove to Pine Ridge to bring clothes and shoes to the people on the reservation, for winters are terrible there. I was shocked to know how much the whites hated the Indians and how much they exploited Lakota culture to make money. Hypocrisy or cynicism? Probably both.

Driving through the Dakotas caused me physical pain — psychic, physical pain, and heaviness.

Echoes

In 1992, I was at meeting in support of Leonard Peltier. There was a chance him might be let of prison on parole. Of course that was sabotaged in the most horrible way.  I connected with an Indian guy who so resembled the man who visited me from beyond the veil that I had to speak with him.
He was part of the Peace and Dignity Run. Native people  from Alaska to  Argentina to Mexico City running through Indian lands, collecting feathers on the way that were  attached to long staffs, to meet for four nights of ceremonies at Tenochtihuacan ( Pyramids of the Moon) on Columbus Day. It was five hundred years since Columbus invaded the Americas looking for slaves and gold, and this was an empowering way for Native people to protest its celebration.

I was there at the Pyramids of the Moon  as, under a full moon, tribal members from many lands and cultures, worked their ancient rites together in that place. It was an amazing experience to be there.

I find I still question the idea of past lives in the sense that  a discreet and singular personality goes on for several lives. But I shouldn’t. I think these experiences are a good indication that Past lives are real.

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Magical Timeline: Going Where the Veil is Thin

I Move to the City: Worcester, Massachusetts

It was the time of the  “Worcester Renaissance”, when student poets planned to bring the old city back its former glory as home of Elizabeth Bishop, the woman who never wrote a bad poem.

I moved out of my parents house and into a large 3 bedroom apartment in a Victorian tenement behind a church.  I shared space with my friend, Cathy, and my then friend, J.B. This grand old building had six apartments, stacked in threes with a shared entrance, making it a double. Because it was on Grand Street, we called it the Grand Hotel. That it was at the edge of a slum didn’t bother us in the least; it was right across the street from that hotbed of Communism, Clark University, and close to the bar that we students went to to share our poetry, creative writing, art, and politics.

This tenement had the classic back fire escapes with porches from which circular clotheslines swung out over the ally way like a floating city of spiders. Since we were on the top floor, we had a view of the rooftops and the sky. J.B. was a star gazer and we spent many autumn evenings looking through the telescope at the stars and planets, learning the constellations. We woke in the mornings to the sound of church bells, and in the winter, because our slumlord was mean, we were forced to do our homework with our feet in the oven to stay warm.

Cathy had a cat and J.B. had a large floppy English Angora rabbit with gray fur.  I was allergic to cats and rabbits, so, like Mimi in La Boheme, I had asthma all the time. I loved them though so I put up with it.

J.B told me I had been the love of his life for the past year, so between being with him, and having asthma I was in bed a lot. lol!

JB made me a bracelet out Dundrum’s fur — (the rabbit’s name was Dundrum Conundrum Asylum) and I still have it. See!

Dundrum fur bracelet

Colorado

Before this Cathy and I had traveled to Colorado where one of my best friends had moved. I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains with their shimmering aspen trees and waterfalls, and high, soaring peaks. We met a very handsome Indian  man called Dave Shonoha who drove us all over the mountains, even up above the tree line, where a big horn sheep glared at us in the snow. He even took me to a cemetery that was at the very top of one of the mountains. I could sense spirits up there. I remember Dave looking at me with this amused grin on his face. I didn’t know how to pretend I didn’t see spirits, or think it was weird that I should want to find a cemetery. Now, when I look back, I think …HHmmmm…

Landslide was my song back then. I associate it with Colorado. There are so many great versions of this, but this video shows the time as well.


As an arty crowd, J.B., Cathy, and I had so many interesting friends, really brainy eccentrics like the frock-coated artist who brought an Victorian English cab driver’s tea set with him whenever he came to visit, or the other artist who made up his own language and  decorated his apartment with grape soda cans. Those were the days. I have bits about them in my journals but right now, I can’t remember their names. I had all this big blond hair and wore  vintage. You could get the good stuff back then, like 1920′s bias cut velvets with beads, and Edwardian petticoats for practically nothing. But we were paid practically nothing too.

My art was becoming more and more clairvoyant, but I didn’t know it at the time.  I don’t know if hunger and asthma had anything to do with it. It is a tradition among ceremonial magicians to have asthma. I was also very effected by a sort of Hawthorne-esque melancholy. Away from my parents, the world I created around me was somber, shadowy, ghostly. I later found out that many of the drawings I did at that time were traditional images having to do with Faery, like figures coming up from under the snowy ground, or women in long cloaks walking among candles in the woods followed by wolves. I was using Gothic imagery before there were Goths. I was into mythology, folklore, and the Middle Ages, and drawing what I saw.

Mexico

It was  January 1978 when we just left everything behind and went to Mexico. Some of this was economic, for it was a terrible recession at that time and there were no jobs.
At the time, I was collecting unemployment — $25 a week! The apartment was $150 a month. Can you believe it?

I left Cathy my vast record collection, my vintage 1920’s gowns, and who knows what she might have done with the little cloth dolls I tucked into the nooks and crannies of the place. Dundrum got a new home as Cathy was angry at him for munching her books.

I had some stuff to sell, so me and J.B. went to Boston. Bookish types, we ended up going to a big library where I was looking for lyrics to Elizabethan folk ballads. I found, on the same page, a portrait of Anne Boleyn above the words to Twa Corbies — another song I was quite addicted to. To this day, I associate Anne Boleyn and Twa Corbies.

J.B., this guy Steven (I wonder if he’s still alive. He always said if he wasn’t a famous poet by the age of 30 he would kill himself. I don’t think he is famous, so…) and I got on the Greyhound bus for New York City. We visited the White Horse Tavern  which had been a haunt of the Beat Poets  and Dylan Thomas or Bob Dylan or something. — it was in Greenwich Village I think.

Long story short, we got over the border and on a first class train to Mexico City. I will never forget our approach to the city because I had never seen people living like that. It was like a giant ant hill, or a bit like Gormanghast or something. All these homeless people living by the hundreds in cardboard boxes encircled the what I remember as looking like the outer walls of the City.This was the pre-earthquake, pre NAFTA Mexico City, a maze of  almost empty streets, calm and beautiful courtyards, elegant old hotels, and cafes where ex-patriot Vietnam veterans hung out.  I remember terra cotta, blue and white tiles, courtyards full of  green plants and fountains. The Mexicans didn’t hate us, but the women were very worried about any show of female skin.

From there we went South, intending to go to Guatemala (strange idea…wasn’t there a war going on there at the time?). We ended up in a Zapotec Indian Village called Barra de Colotepec outside of the then undiscovered Puerto Escondito.  We had the Colotopec River, the beach and a lagoon  almost all to ourselves. For $10 a month, we rented a cabana with a dirt floor and ragged walls owned by the la Senora of the village. We slept in hammocks and had to store our food high along the walls so the local dogs wouldn’t eat it. La Senora kept everyone in tortillas, and little girls would come in the morning with baskets to collect their share.

The veil is very thin in Mexico. My intuition was higher than I realized. One weird thing that happened was that la Senora had  an neglected altar in our cabana, and one day I got the strong urge to clean it. In a couple of hours, it was  shiny and I had picked some flowers and put them on it. La Senora came in and saw what I had done. She brought some candles and somehow she conveyed to me that it was Easter. I had had no idea.

I was writing lots of poetry as I was in that receptive state of mind that attracts poetic ideas.  We had seen a sea turtles lay it eggs in the sand — that is a whole story in itself — and some while after I wrote a poem about it, using the imagery of the stars and the tortoises shell — I’ll have to find that poem some day. Anyway, years later, I found out that what I had written in the poem was true! When sea turtles are born their shells are imprinted with the patterns of the constellations, and when it is time for them to return to the shore where they were hatched, these patterns guide them to the right place.

I also almost drowned in a rip tide. I had been close to death before, so I just remember thinking it would be an easy way to go if that was it. I just relaxed and was carried back to the shore.  That was one time when my rather alarming 20 year old passivity came in handy.

The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi

I was really into St.Francis and had this book. Inside, there are some pressed flowers from Mexico and a poem written by J.B. that I still have to this day, thirty years later.

There are so many great adventures I had in Mexico at that time that will make about twenty blog posts, so I won’t share them here. This is just a timeline. Since I have been around for a long time, there will more installments. The ones after this will talk about how I became conscious of my abilities and who I was when I came into contact with West Coast American culture.

The Poem by J.B.

J.B. wrote this poem to describe an ordeal we all went through on an, unexpectedly, all night fishing trip into the bay at Puerto Escondito. While Steven and I were freezing
in our Summer clothes, sitting in the wet bottom the row boat and hurling over the side, J.B., stoically reclined on the back bench with his hat over his face contemplating this poem, I guess. That was until he, in a Hemmingway moment, he leapt up to slay a fierce a manna ray that had gotten hooked by our hosts (who were all bundled up in their wooly sweaters.) Since the whole things was his idea, he could afford to be blase!

Anyway here is this poem that he probably doesn’t know I have. I think he might have wanted to title it something about the Southern Cross as he was really into the stars.

Untitled,  Mexico, January, 1978

Spanish
flails the darkness
from feverish stem
to stern, a verbal meteor
storm, nearly pentecostal.

Nets hurtle upward
into the stars, pause,
and fall hissing like warm
soft wire into the sea.    Monafilament
and chopped mullet swamp the deep hull,
milling with bare feet and wicked hooks
into the mutinous melee
of Mexican fish catching.    I huddle
needlessly by the port gunwale, alone
in my English.
The difference
is not the same
on the water.

Here
the waves break backwards, aching
toward the treacherous permanence
of sand, And here I see entrails
of fish glowing with the minute
life of agitation: the uncommon
world given off in the commonest
of gestures, simply
a mullet spilled open.

Here
our passage may be
crisp, our wake aglow,
we flow with the lightning
poetry of oak splinters.
Mantas tumble out of the sea
and belly back. A turtle struggles
away from us,
like a pregnant sow,
aching
with the surf
and her future.

I have come
thick tongued and thin
sated into this Pacific
village. I cannot sing
with the men, I cannot sing
with the women, nor wash. I only swim
and laugh at myself, and have no loss
for help.

And laughing is enough. I soon
surrender my landed musings
for mezcal and a gesture
towards a boat.
(it is dangerous,
this affirmation of nothing that
hauls fishermen out of their
footprints.) I check my handline:
nothing but lead and fish guts, the
barb buried in a liver.

I see Puerta Angel wherever I
look for the pole star. My skull skies
like a starborne compass, or is it the
sea. The water is lost in itself, and we.
The stone anchor cannons into my urges,
calling from beneath the waves, but the
sea takes only 20 yards of handline.

I don’t know what the last line means exactly, but J.B. was an enigma at times. He had talent, but he gave up I think.

Hope that’s not too self indulgent. Or if it is,  I hope its fun at least. I don’t like to be serious all the time.

Do you have any mementos from so long ago? Its kind of strange the way memories pull you….

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Kirk! An Interview with Film Director Michael Ferns

Kirk!

Film Director Michael Ferns

Michael Ferns

Michael Ferns

We Faery Witches have every reason to be excited about the upcoming film Kirk! about 17th century Scottish Faery Seer, Reverend Robert Kirk. He is such an important figure because, in a time when people believed in the reality of faeries and spirits, he recorded his experiences on the edge of the Otherworld first hand, and even read them from his pulpit in the church.

I was very pleased when Mr. Ferns  kindly agreed to share his creative process with us and his inspiration for the film. If the film is as remarkable as he is, it will be fabulous.

Interview with Michael Ferns

Arlene:

Can you tell a bit about yourself and your background in films, or what you want to express as an artist?

Michael:

I am 17 years old, living in Stirlingshire, Scotland, in a village in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. I have been passionate about filmmaking since a young age and have directed, shot and edited many contemporary short films. I have received grants from Lottery U.K. and various other organisations. I have also been very much supported by my local film society, Strathendrick Film Society. At the end of this month, I begin a BA degree course in Digital Film and Television at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD).
I am fascinated by the scope that the medium of film has to communicate ideas and stories. I aim to captivate an audience through a powerful blend of vibrant visuals and strong, engaging plots.

Arlene:

What drew you to the story of Rev.Robert Kirk?

Michael:

I had been aware of the story of the Reverend Robert Kirk for many years prior to the conception of ‘Kirk’. The village of Aberfoyle, where the real Doon hill sits, is only a few miles away from my home. I felt that the legend of Kirk was filled with intrigue, excitement and emotion, making it ideal material for a feature film. The producers and I were surprised to find that Kirk’s story was largely unknown to the wider local community which inspired us to take the project forward. On collaborating closely with the writers, we came to the conclusion that we would not attempt to convey any particular one of the many versions of the legend, but would bring our own dramatic interpretation to the screen which we felt held much human interest in the sense that it explores the emotional relationships of the key figures, Kirk and his wife, as well as those of some fictitious characters. We stuck pretty closely to Kirk’s ideas on the Secret Commonwealth, conveyed though the imaginary character of Mary, a local girl who has a strong link with the faery world. We feel that the film is true to the spirit of Robert Kirk and his ideas without being faithful in all respects to the legends.

Arlene:

Is Robert Kirk a prominent figure in Scottish history, or does he have a cult following? Has interest in him evolved with certain currents in society and Scottish culture?

Michael:

I think that Kirk’s story, besides within the immediate surrounding of Aberfoyle, is better known by those in the States with an interest in Scottish folklore. There are a few books and websites on the subject but currently, it does not have strong following within Scotland. However we are hoping that ‘Kirk’ will change that!

Arlene:

Is much really known about him, or is it mostly speculation?

Michael:

From my experience and that of the writers’ experiences when researching the legend for the screenplay, it appears that details of the story vary between sources. I believe a lot of the finer details to be speculation which is why the plot of ‘Kirk’ is only loosely based on the legend.

Rev. Kirk's church

Rev. Kirk's church

Arlene:

What is your understanding of Kirk’s faery experiences? Do you believe him? Or not?

MichaeI:

I  am as yet, undecided on my feelings towards Kirk’s faery experiences. I strongly believe that he was truly convinced of the existence of the Siddhe and that he was an intelligent, sane man. At the time he lived, belief in a spiritual faery world was widespread, legends and folklore dating far back into history from Celtic times and before. It was the way in which people made sense of many everyday happenings, the forces of nature, the rhythms of life and death. Christianity existed alongside this in Scottish communities and many did not see a contradiction. However, ‘The Establishment’ (i.e the Church and the educated classes) in the 17th century was beginning to condemn what they regarded as superstition, possibly because it was outside their sphere of influence.

I believe that the Reverend Robert Kirk was a man who was very much in touch with nature and the local people.

Arlene:

How do you think the people around him dealt with his revelations at the time?

Michael:

Kirk’ strongly explores this theme, showing three separate reactions to Robert Kirk’s revelations through the three supporting characters. Mary, the local girl who has had her own supernatural experiences, is convinced of the futility of any attempt to give their beliefs credibility. Abigail, Kirk’s wife, is concerned about his immortal soul and his standing in the Church. The Reverend Young sees Kirk’s writing as a challenge to the established Church and genuinely believes his beliefs to be blasphemous.

Arlene:

I notice the angle you pursue is for Kirk to convince his wife of the truth of his experience. Do general social issues come into it? What of the religious issues? Were they executing witches at that time?

Michael:

The film focuses mainly on the personal relationships. Social and religious issues are dealt with only through the three principal characters (see above). The film does not delve deeply into the wider context.

Arlene:

The settings look gorgeous! I think it says in the blurb that they are historic settings. Did the land effect your vision? Did you have to go to certain places to invoke the Faeries?

Michael:

The scenery is just Scotland! We live in a very beautiful part of the world and I wanted to emphasise how closely rural Scottish communities’ lives were intertwined with their natural environment. And hence how their folklore and supernatural beliefs linked to natural phenomenon. Kirk’s faeries centered around the tree atop Doon Hill, which provided a gateway, as the film describes “from their world to ours”. Kirk felt the faeries’ presence most strongly there but folklore tells of other local places and faery hills in the area and Mary alludes to some of these.

Although it was not feasible to shoot on the real Doon hill (only exterior wide shots were shot there) we felt that its beauty and presence would have to be recreated to do justice to Kirk’s story. We searched far and wide to find a suitable replacement for both the Doon hill faery tree (Loch Lomondside) and the village of Aberfoyle (Culross conservation village).

Arlene:

Doon Hill

Doon Hill

Is there anything else you would like your audience to know about you or why you felt so strongly to make this film?

Michael:

There were many reasons I made this film. First and foremost was the desire to share the captivating story of this charismatic, free-thinking Scot, who I felt had been neglected by the Scottish history books. I also of course saw an opportunity to create a moving, personal story for an audience. The period element to the film was important to me as it is my first experiment with this genre. I too feel passionately about young Scottish artists – writers, actors, musicians, make-up artists, technicians – being given the chance to explore and develop their art and to showcase their talents. And last, but not least, I aspired in some way to be an ambassador for Scotland, by giving its stories, characters, history and scenery a wider platform.

Best Wishes,
Michael Ferns
Director ‘Kirk’

Photos by Philip Coppens

Link to the trailer:

Kirk! Official Trailer

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What is in a Name?

What is in a Name?

The occult world is one of conscious transformation, and I doubt there is a practicing Magician or Witch who has not marked a change in themselves: an initiation, a spiritual alliance with a tradition or deity, a Rite of Passage, a new path, etc. with a new name.

I have had a few different names over the years. In the 1960’s through the 1970’s, and up in to the early 1980’s it was common on the West Coast of the States, where people come to re-invent themselves, to take on different names. Some people, after surviving a crisis, may have a desire to present a new or renewed self to the world, others to resonate with a certain numerological vibration. Many have felt that their birth names were wrong or had been outgrown; some birth names have been perceived as unlucky, weird, or ugly, prompting a change to bring better vibrations into one’s life.

I once heard a story about a woman in Malaysia who was named after one of the immortal Love Goddesses of myth. She had so many men after her that, rather enjoying her popularity, she was bombarded with so much unwanted attention, that her life became unbearable, and even dangerous at times. After she was raped, she decide to change her name. After a few months, the attentions tapered off until some time after, she was able to find the partner she wanted  and got married. This was a shy man who never have pestered when she was carrying the vibration of Love Goddess.

Garbo

From Gustafson to Garbo

In America, the tendency to change names has been inherited from the Native people, well known for their poetic, symbolic, and flexible  use of names to mark major transitions in life. Even in the big three religions, like the Catholic church, those who enter the clergy take the names of particular Saints to align themselves with the Saint’s vibration. Of course Wiccans have all manner of exotic names, and Ceremonial Magicians, like those in the Golden Dawn, use Latin phrases for names. Of course show people, movie stars and the like, have very famously changed their names from frumpy to glamorous for ages. Some stars have credited their success with the transformation of their looks and  personalities altered to reflect the image stirred up by the sound of their evocative professional names.

The Power of Birth Names


As a clairvoyant who has done psychic readings for thousands people over the last twenty years, I have learned a lot about what names can do. I have found that the name that we are given at birth is a key to the soul.

Every person who comes to me, or any psychic, for a reading, starts out as a perfect stranger. If they have a Tarot Reading, the layout of the cards will provide clues to the inner life of the client. As the reading progresses, deepening trust and emotional involvement create an energetic link that spills over onto the cards releasing more deep images from the client’s psyche that can be interpreted beyond the traditional meanings of the cards.  Other than that, I have no need for any practical information about the client to do an accurate and effective reading.

Almost always a client will want to know about a relationship with someone who is not there. If the connection between the client and that person is very close or strong, I can often pick them up the minute the client sits down. But if it is a more tenuous, conflicted, or confusing connection, the quickest way for me to link up with this third party is with the name they were given at birth, preferably the whole name, and their date of birth. The birth date mainly provides a wee bit of astrological information that can be valuable in understanding certain dynamics in a relationship, but the birth name holds the energetic pattern of the soul.

We Are Born With Our Names

There is Qabbalistic tradition  of names that I learned when I was studying Lightbody Activation in 2002. It is that we have our names before we are born, and our souls may even gravitate to our parents because of the vibration of their names. In my case, my mother was planning to name me Susan, but my father said, when he saw me for the first time, I told him my name was Arlene. It took another ten years for my mother to have my sister and name her Susan.

This pre-natal naming has a numerological basis, as many Qabbalistic things do, and it is said that by isolating the number values of a birth name, one’s complete life history, including the future, can be traced in the Bible. Sounds like a big job, but apparently it can be done.

In this system, it is taught that if you find that your birth name doesn’t feel right, if you have outgrown it, then it is a good idea to upgrade it with something close to the original. The name change will then resonate with your soul’s higher vibration, helping you align with your new spiritual purpose, and also pull your former vibration up with it.

Names as Psychic Protection

Occultists are well familiar with the perils of psychic attack. If the birth name is the key to soul that can allow a clairvoyant medium access a unknown person’s inner life from a long distance, it can also allow the lazer beams of a direct occult attack into the deep layers of the victim’s energy bodies to play all sorts of havoc in there. This is one reason that Magical practitioners, and those who associate with them,  keep their birth names well under wraps. You only have consult the medieval Demonologies to find that one way for the Magician to get power over a spirit is to know its True Name. In the classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, the haunted boy has only to call the ghost by his real name to exorcise him from the house. That he dies in the process shows how powerful the links with names can be. To exorcize any spirit requires its name and folklore of tricks about how these names can names can be found. Rumplestiltskin is a good example of this.

My Name is So Weird!

Some weird names are highly prized by their families. Some are ethnic names that mean strange things in English, but are fine in the native language. Some names seem like the parents were playing a joke on the poor kid. Some are just bad vibes. Women change their surnames as many times as they get married. For women name changes are part of our culture. These days, I would make sure of the numerology before I changed my name especially if it is because of marriage. I know of one couple in which the man took on the wife’s surname because it had more prestige. Why not?

The name we use every day, if we use it long enough, will begin to gather a force o its own around us and can be a key to the current layer of consciousness in the soul where it works much like a progressed horoscope. But like the natal horoscope, the birth name holds the core vibration. It is up to you whether to use it, change it, hide, it upgrade it, or whatever. Any name you choose will suit you on some level, and for a certain time in your life.

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