Archives for posts with tag: story

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In May of 2016 I was fortunate enough to visit the Republic of Ireland with my partner at the time. I’ve yet to write up much of what was seen in that trip and I’m starting to get a bit of a back log!

I’ve previously written about Gurteen stone circle and the lone Gurteen Menhir that stands in a near by field.  Today’s post will be a quick one to detail a trip to An Cathair Cubh Deargh in County Kerry. (See location here)

Locally known as ‘The City’ this ruined site sits 7ooft above sea level and in the foothills of The Two Paps mountains. The Two Paps are also known as the Paps of Danu and their name is thought to be a reference to an ancient Irish Goddess, Danu (or Danann or Anu or Dana) who leaves little lore behind her. Yet who may well be a form of an even more ancient water Goddess connected to the River Danube.
In this case though, she is often thought of as one of the mothers of the Tuatha De Dannan which means ‘The Tribe Of the Gods Of Danu’. In Irish lore Danu is the mother of the majority of the Irish Gods, but is herself, the daughter of the good and mighty God Dagda.

These hills are rich in cairns and possible tombs and some can even be seen atop the mountains; appearing to be the nipple on the breast.

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The setting was not, however, the reason for paying a visit to the site. The City was thought to be the first place to be settled in Ireland and has seen thousands years of continuous worship held upon it’s soils!  Which makes it an amazing place for cultural heritage in the West. It’s a wonder to think of all of the ways in which that worship alone has changed.

However, the site has nought but a few notice boards and is accessed by a steep and country track like road in the middle of a cluster of farm like buildings. On approach, we thought we must’ve taken a wrong turn and so i nipped out of the car to, unintentionally, loom over a small and geriatric Irish man in order to ask for directions. At first glance the site would appear to be a ruined barn, or outbuildings, if one wasn’t looking for it.

Those notice boards are crammed with information though, and on them it can be seen that An Cathair Cubh Dearg translates to ‘The fort of the red claw’. The Red Claw is thought to refer to a war Goddess of ancient times and might even link in to a past far more ancient than can be easily told.

In ancient times, An Cathair Cubh Dearg was surrounded by a wall of mounded stones, over three metres tall and four metres wide. Some of this is visible today and the site has a clean but holy sensation to it’s air.

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The site has a central well spring, stabilised in concrete in more modern times and with cups laying around the area for any to use. The water tastes beautiful, in case you are wondering, although the relatively close proximity of cowpats did give me cause to pause for a moment.

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In fact, it’s absolutely wonderful to see that this hidden site is so well used. There are rosary beads and clootie ribbons around the place and deep grooves in the shape of  crosses that have been worn in by the rubbing of a stone from worshipful folk over the years.

In ancient times, Danu and other goddesses were doubtless worshiped on this site. It’s even been postulated that the site has developed several times – with the first incarnation being that of a sacred Neolithic mound.  Over time the site has been developed and enhanced by the artifice of clever hands and the Virgin Mary now holds court in The Fort Of The Red Claw, as testified to by a brightly coloured statue.

One of the notice boards tells of the the festival of Beltane, in which fires were burned and offerings made to the Gods to seek fertility and good luck. A festival which now would seem to be overtaken by the May Day Rounds.

The May Day Rounds, however, include such things as walking around the outside of the fort thrice and more within it – something that some practitioners of modern day witchery might recognise; certainly those who have looked in to the christianised forms of traditional witchcraft should see some parallels in how it’s done. Despite the number three being held sacred by the Christian faith, I can’t help but be titillated by the idea that the Rounds could be mirroring a pagan practice, even if only in where the feet of worshipers tread at the time of Beltane.

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In a previous blog post I mentioned  that I hold the role of ‘Ritualist’ for the Circle of Pagans moot.

This is a longstanding moot that serves Liverpool  and the surrounding area as well as any one else who might be passing through.

Part of my role is to create simple rituals for each of the eight spokes of the Neo-pagan wheel of the year. These are rituals that anyone can follow, regardless of how new they are to their pagan path or their ritual experience.

The rituals are based on Wiccan, Druid and Traditional Witchcraft ceremonies;  like most followed by Neopagans today.

They are rituals that can be used by sole practitioners or adapted to group use easily; feel free to tweak them until they suit you and yours.

Circle of Pagans aims to share knowledge and reach out to the wider community. Which is why I thought I’d post the rituals on my blog for others to see, adapt and use.

So here we go……..

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Samhain Equinox ritual:

Thoughts:

– The word Samhain has it’s origins in the distant past as a word meaning ‘summers end’. In many ‘celtic’ or gaelic tongues it’s also the word used for the month of November.
Historically. it is thought, that the term Samhain actually covered the first three months of the coming winter – November, December and January  in the modern calendar – rather than just one night or one month.
Samhain was the name of the darkening night and the descent in to a frigid world fringed with the death of leaves and as such the death of the Land itself.

–  In many pagan books and links you’ll see Samhain referred to as the ‘Pagan New year’, yet, this is often debated. Many would say that the turning point that is the Winter Solstice would be the beginning of a new year.
However, those that do might be painting a modern interpretation over and older worldview. You see, to much of the ancient world, the day started with the dusk – after all, life starts in the darkness of the womb and the seed is the beginning, not the seedling, at least not until it is covered with the darkness of soil.
And it’s not a bad thought to think that we could start the day eating and then sleeping  is it?

–  The Samhain that we know, falls on All Hallow Eve or Hallowe’en and indeed, is known to have birthed the latter one way or another. Mainly through continued folk practices of the ‘celtic’ world and an adoption by the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages… and from there via a ship to America and the New World. Across the pond, many of the customs brought by the new arrivals found a commonality and were pooled together to create what we know of as the modern Halloween.

– Like many ancient festivals, it would have been celebrated with a bonfire – in this case though the bonfire would have helped to chase away the more malicious spirits that were set loose upon the wind by the thinning of the veil. In some cases juniper and similar were added to the fires and the smoke breathed in as a method of self purification and protection.

– One British folktale, which ties in well with old Romany Gypsy lore, was of Old Jack – a human trickster who was so devious in his antics that neither God nor Satan wanted him when he died – dooming him to wander the in between worlds a s a spirit for ever. It’s said that Satan threw coals from Hell’s eternal fire to get rid of Jack, but he caught one in a turnip and so created the first Jack O’Lantern.
Which makes you wonder about the use of the turnip or pumpkin lanterns in the past – was it a sign that he had already visited, or that there was already a trickster in place… or was it to keep him away via the old tradition which states that when you know someone’s real name then you have power over them. Perhaps then, the lanterns were in place to say ‘we know who you are, so don’t even bother trying to trick us or we’ll name you and then we’ll own you for the night!’

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–   It’s often assumed that a fear of the more malicious spirits and the marauding dead birthed the Jack O Lanterns of the ancient age. In the days of old, and even still today, faces would be carved in swedes and turnips, while today we use the  wonderful berry that is a  pumpkin before having a candle or coals placed in them and set looking away from the property.
The lanterns in popular lore served two purposes – one to draw familiar spirits to them  and the other to scare away mischievous and malicious spirits or beasts that might stalk the night at this time of year.
Indeed, the Jack O’Lantern is also the name given to marsh lights and Will O’The Wisps – those who appear to lost travelers carrying a source of light and then lead them off to a watery end in the marshes or to another world altogether.

–  Much of what we think about for a modern Halloween still fits well in to the Samhain of old and to my mind, there’s little harm in combining the two – though one is arguably more serious and sinister than the other, which only lends a touch of enchantment to a increasingly secular world.

–  At Samhain, the veil between the living and the dead thins, along with other veils that hide our world from creatures of malice and the Fey folk. Yet the thought that our Ancestors are easier to reach than usual can easily fill us with the same giddiness that a child wearing a costume might have. After all, many of us have experienced that happy feeling when we are heading to our grandparent’s home and expecting a sugar high from sweets and cake and being otherwise spoiled.

– One of my own thoughts around the thinning of the veils is to do with the ancient’s understanding of blood as sacred.
From time immemorial, blood has been offered to the Gods and the Spirits as a sacrifice and an honouring. There’s a lot of power in living blood, but it doesn’t stay alive for long.
It might seem peculiar to throw this thought in here, until we look at Samhain as the third period of the harvest  -a harvest of apples and flesh.
As winter closed in, farmers would need to make some hard decisions based on the hay harvest or on foggage (grazing) left in the fields to use over winter.
If too many animals were kept then they would all go hungry and a farmer risked loosing all of their livestock and starving themselves, if too few were kept then a limit was set on meat production the following year  – or the farmer could again loose all, if one fell sick in the winter.
As such, The end of October was a time of slaughter and meat preservation. A lot of life would be taken and a lot of blood spilled to feed the living. So much death always calls to Death by necessity.

– The thinning of the veil also calls to more than just the dead – the Fey and Otherworldly things come through with more ease as well and many modern witches report an increase of spirit and otherwise activity at this time of year. In the past, this was felt too and often those who wouldn’t otherwise practice magic would be compelled to do so.

– The magic practiced at this time of year was often divinatory – meaning literally ‘knowledge from the divine’. People would cast runes and twigs and apple peels to see the initial of their future lover, or they would seek an audience with The Devil to see who would die that coming year.
To do this wasn’t thought of as nefarious by many – the Folk Devil as Master of Magic has always been seen a little differently to the Lord of Hell. [On that note actually, it’s worth saying that biblically speaking, the Devil was cast down to Earth and will only end up in Hell, where he too will be tortured (much wailing and snapping of teeth says the Book of Revelations repeatedly) at the end of days… until then he’s one who moves in this world with the rest of us…. if you follow the Christian mythology of course. A subversion of the Horned Gods of Old or not he, The Devil, has a huge part to play in many forms of witchery.]
It was said that either by sitting in a chair in a crossroads or by attending a church at midnight on All Hallows Eve you’d have a conversation or be listening to the Devil’s service. As a part of which he’d reel off those who were to die in the following year.

– It was also a traditional time to gather grave yard dust or dirt for darker workings or to tend to the graves of those long gone.

– In some areas of Britain it was said that the Faeries moved between barrows (mounded tombs as gateways to the other worlds) twice a year – once at Beltaine (1st May) and once at Samhain. As such, it would be unwise to join in a procession of the fey as you may end up in a different world to be used up and cast out as an ancient while only hours have passed in the outer world… or to be returned as a youth to your town decades or centuries later to see that all has changed and all your loved ones are haggard or dead. Within the Faerie tradition you are more easily trapped if you eat Faerie food.
The Fey folk aren’t human and operate by different set of morals (if any) than we do in lore. Yet, to tempt them in to a deal (a bad move unless you form the small print yourself under the advice of a lawyer) or to bribe them to stay away if you live near a Faerie site, such as a stone circle or barrow or a solitary hawthorn in a field or a copse of Alder etc, you’d leave out milk and beer and unsalted bread… or you’d use bits of old iron, such as horseshoes, nailed to, or by, the door to keep them away.

– With Samhain we enter in to the darkest quarter of the year, or so it seems  as the nights get longer and the days darker and we feel the bite of winter in the very air that we breathe. It’s a time that harbours the first life of many plant and animal species though – from the acorns sending down their first roots, securing themselves and begin ready to sprout come spring; to the stag battling for the right to mate in the rutting season.

– The colours of Autumn are also filling up our sight lines at this time of year, with the crimson and butter yellow of Acers and elms and Ash and the burnt purples and browns of the Manna ash and the drying beech speckling the world around us.
The fallen leaves also frame the oft bright colours of autumn fungi  on the woodland floor while Liberty Caps grow readily in dew soaked longer grass. This is a time of transformation and of birth for the fungi as many throw up reproductive mushrooms, from their hidden mycelium, to scatter spores and grow in number across the world.

– In some of the colder pats of the world, yet those where winter bathing was less frequent, the poor would often be sown in to their clothes with sheets of brown paper fitted between layers to reduce lice and add insulation, preparing or the winter ahead.

– Those same peasant folk, from which many of us are descended, would gather up dried leaves to remake their mattress for the winter if straw or hay was in short supply – echoing the animals that seem to melt in to the landscape over winter. Animals such as the hedgehog or slow worm who find sheltered spaces to stuff with leaves and sleep out the colder weather.

– It is also said that the Druids of ancient times would have netted off some elderberry trees and allowed the fruit to dry and ferment on the tree until Samhain when these fruit would be gathered and added to water to ferment again -this double fermentation of wild yeasts and fungi leading to a psycho active wine that would be drunk the following Samhain to attain prophetic visions.

– As far as deities go, this is often a time of year favoured by modern witches to work with those more haggard aspects of the divine – the Crones and the Lords of Death; those with the power to take away parts of the self that are no longer wanted and to usher in transformation by virtue of the dying of parts of you.

 

 

What to do?

Here are a few ideas for activities that you could do to recognise the time of Samhain:

– Visit the graves of your kith and kin, leaving the gift of an apple or bouquet of autumn leaves. Or create, or update, an Ancestor shrine at home with photos or trinkets from those lost to the past.

–  Take a bag, some tubs or baskets and go on a mushroom foraging walk (trust an expert if you don’t trust yourself and always make sure they are safe to eat). Perhaps dry some mushrooms at home, to practice an ancestral skill.

–  Make a sacrifice yourself to echo the loss and gain of the third harvest of old – perhaps go without meat or dairy for a week. Or give a banquet to he homeless or donations to a food bank. Not all those who have gone before you would have had plenty to eat at this time of year and the generosity of others will have kept them alive – honour their struggle by easing that of a living person or family today.

– Set an extra space at the table on Samhain night and leave the door ajar so that your Ancestors and the dead can come to visit. Maybe even take this a step further and host a dumb supper.  Set up empty spaces on the table and eat in silence by candle light. Maybe even an empty chair per person eating. Allow everyone to serve themselves from platters/bowls in the centre of the table – the dead can have as much as they want that way by means of aroma without letting food go to waste.

–  Go for a long walk to appreciate the colours of Autumn, or a mini pilgrimage to a local grave site or stone circle / barrow/ well. Tidy it up a little if needed – collect litter, perhaps cut back the bracken hiding the stones. Leave nothing that isn’t biodegradable as an offering.

– Leave out a collection of shiny copper coins  or tuck them in to cracks in tombs (don’t damage them to do this though) or walls – that way the restless dead can pay Charon to cross the river Styx (if you or they follow the classical Greek Mythology)

– Consider  going on  a shamanic  journey to  visit your Ancestors in the Underworld. See what they have to teach you. Don’t try to get in to the Land of the Dead in the shamanic worlds though… even extremely well practiced Shamans have been trapped and lost there in the past.

– Set up a circle or working site and invoke an appropriate deity of your choice, or your Ancestors, and speak with them about what you have harvested in your life over the past season or so and what you’d like to harvest in the coming months. Perhaps speak to a Crone Goddess or a Dead/Underworld God and ask them to take away aspects of yourself or your life that no longer serve you or are holding you back.

– Or simply go for a walk in to the woods, or meadows or park and see what changes the season has brought to the land near you.

– Share a libation of mead or wine or beer with the dead – perhaps even in a graveyard.

–  Look at making a witches ladder with bones that you’ve found or saved – hang it in a tree or a hidden place – again make sure you use only biodegradable materials. Your intention is your own business.
Think of bones as the liminal part of the body – the core of the corporeal in life yet the residual parts of living things after death and decay. A link to the dead that we can’t hold easily while they live.

–  Collect the best coloured autumnal leaves as you find them and perhaps make a leaf mask to use for Samhain. Masks are a great way to experience yourself in a different role or as an embodiment of a chosen energy or being.

– Carve a Jack O’Lantern out of what ever takes your fancy – a pumpkin, a turnip, or even an overly large parsnip. Make sure to collect the flesh and make seasonal soup, or wine or pie  – never waste it and a well hollowed pumpkin is one easier to carry too!
Light it up and place it looking out of the property to keep away the malicious spirits and welcome in the good ones.

–  Light a fire and scry in the flames  – add green juniper or smokey foliage to aid your sight

– Leave out milk and unsalted bread and butter to appease the faeries on the top of a wall and leave out cat food on the floor for hedgehogs wanting to fatten themselves up before they sleep (bread and milk gives them bad tummies… aka The Shits)

– look in to traditional divination techniques and local customs for your area and tradition – maybe have a go at the practice of ‘tapping the bone’.

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A brief solo ritual for you to practice.

Rituals are always better with meaning and purpose  that is more than just a recognition and a tugging of one’s  forelock to a deity or time of year.

These words are my own, but not necessarily the ones I frequently use. If you would like to,  please feel free to ad lib or replace with your own words.

Edit if you will, but please cite me as the author if you are sharing (Mark Buxton or this blog).

The circle cast used here is one aimed at connection rather than separation or safety, feel free to use a different one if you feel in need of a more secure space.

This circle is in a similar vein to the majority of Neopagan style circles and is losely based on both a Wiccan and Druid ceremony format.

The purpose of this circle is connection,  this allows for some vulnerability, but  please don’t use this if you are in a place  that creeps you out or feels ‘wrong’;  wait and work elsewhere.

Preparation 

Find your working space. An area with a 9 foot (3 metre) diameter of open ground will be more than sufficient. You will  need a lighter or matches. Please make yourself aware of fire safety.

Mark out the North with a stone and an  unlit candle.
Mark out the East with a  feather (or  jos stick) and an unlit  candle.
Mark out the South with an unlit candle and something golden in colour.
Mark  out the West with a small bowl of water and an unlit candle.

Place a candle, a some cider, apple juice or mead in a glass and an apple or fruit in the centre of your circle. Place also a fire proof dish/ bowl/ cauldron/ pumpkin along with a lit candle. Also have paper, pen and some kindling  ready to go.  Gather also a fresh bundle of green rosemary or sage or juniper. Place also a pitcher or jug of water.

Circle cast

Begin by standing in the centre of what will be your circle.

Take three deep breaths, feeling your lungs fill completely. Feel yourself centred, calm and ready to begin. Face the East.

Extending your finger (or wand, athame, staff or whatever you choose) hold it against your heart. Move your finger to point outwards and be aware of power moving with it.

Feel the energy flowing out of your finger and move your hand slowly to face the East. See that the energy flows out and pools in the air just beyond the Eastern candle, creating a wall that extends both upwards to a point directly above your head and down wards to a point directly below your feet.

Move clockwise, feeling the energy drawing a spherical curtain around you. As you move say the words below. Keep moving in a clockwise direction (deosil) until you reach East again.

A circle of Joy I wind around me like a cloak,
A sphere of presence and of love,
These walls borne of my own spirit,
weaving a circle of connection,
A circle of power, joy and strength
Shared with the world around me.

Once you have reached the East pull your hand back in towards your chest and  allow yourself to feel the presence of the sphere of your own energy around you.

Walk to the East and say:

Hail to the East, place of dawn and the Spirits of Air!
Spirits of the Mighty Winds and Living Breath!
Come also all of my Ancestors from the East.
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Eastern Candle

Move to the South and say:

Hail to the South, place of the midday sun and the Spirits of Fire!
Spirits of the flickering flame and the body’s chemical fires!
Come also all of my Ancestors from the South.

I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Southern Candle

Walk to the West and say:

Hail to the West, place of dusk and the Spirits of Water!
Spirits of the Falling Rain and the water in  my flesh!
Come also all of my Ancestors from the West.
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Western Candle

Walk to the North and say:

Hail to the North, place of Midnight and the Spirits of Earth!
Spirits of the fertile soils, stones and bones!
Come also all of my Ancestors from the North.
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Northern Candle

Walk back to the centre of your circle.  Bend and touch the Earth beneath you, then stand and reach up to the heavens.  Lowering your hand and tuning the full  circle where you are say:

Ancestors of my blood, Ancestors of this land and Ancestors of my Tradition I call to you!
Spirits of this Place and of this Time, Those seen and unseen,
With the thinning veil of Samhain
I call for you to lend me your ears, 

Walk with me and guide me in my ways.
I ask that you join me and watch over my  rites

Place your burning bowl / pumpkin in the centre of the circle and light a small fire therein. Save some of the paper for later. Once the fire is going well carry on with the working.
Alternatively, if doing this inside, light a tealight in your bowl.

Spend a few minutes in silent thought and clearly write on the slips of paper anything that you wish to give away. Perhaps an aspect of your life that doesn’t serve you or an ailment, addiction or aspect of your life that has held you back from your goals. Be strictly honest with yourself, if it is caused by your actions or words then take that aspect of yourself rather than blaming another or a situation.

Kneel or stand in front of the items in the centre of the circle facing west and look in to the flames. Add more wood if you need to do so, but keep the fire small.

Speak now to the flames while looking deeply in to them;

I call to the guardians of the Western Gate
To the keepers of the Underworld,
To the Goddesses of the Dead,
Persephone, Hel, Mania, Calleach and Morrighan,
To the Gods of the the Dead
Arawn, Anubis, Erebus, Odin and Dis Pater
[note: please feel free to replace the deities with simply ‘those who keep the dead and the land of the dead’]

I call to my Ancestors to open the path and line the way
May your presence here be blessed by the smoke of sweet herbs.

Place the herbs thinly on top of the flames and let them smoke.

I offer you these parts of my life,
these slivers of myself
To break, remove and renew
as the smoke clears let them be taken away.

Cast the slips of paper with your writing on, one by one in to the fire and watch them burn.
Sit for a while until the smoke from the paper and the herbs is gone. See and feel the things you want rid of disappear and dissipate along with the smoke.

Take time to meditate if you need to.

Take up the apple now and eat it along with a sip or more of the mead/wine. As you do so, see and feel the apple replenish you. Feel the rough edges left by the removal of your written offerings smoothed over and yourself being made whole again without that which you have cast aside.

Once completed, stand up and pour a little of the mead/ wine on to the fire as a thank you to the Ancestors. Before raising your glass to each of the directions in turn and taking a sip. Pour a little of the mead in to the water jug and then set the mead down while raising the jug up.

 

Say:

With mead / wine sweetened water I give thanks,
thanks to the Goddesses and the Gods of the Dead, 
I pray you ever guide me and comfort me when my time is due, 
But today I hope it is not even close,
I offer thanks to my Ancestors who today have lined the way.
I offer thanks to the vehicle of fire,
that I shall light again another time.

Pour the water on to the fire and put it out fully.

Drink the rest of the mead or wine , or pour it as a libation to the spirits of the circle.

 

 

 

Closing

Facing the North say the following

Spirits of the North and Earth
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Facing the West say the following

Spirits of the West and Water.
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Facing the South say the following

Spirits of the South and Fire
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Facing the East say the following

Spirits of the East and Air.
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Standing in the centre of the circle and turning round say:

Spirits of this Time and Place, This Land and of All my Ancestors
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell,
Walk with me as you will.

Stand in the centre and face East

Reach out with your finger (wand etc)  and see the energy of the circle begin to flow back  in to your body as you turn anticlockwise winding all your energy back in.

Once done say:

This rite is now complete and done, I return  to the apparent World.

Put out the quarter candles.

Once the rite is done, drain off the water from the remains of you fire. Set any charcoal or partly burned wood to one side to dry. You can use these to start a fire another time to work with the dead or scrying or even to light your yule fire in a few weeks time.

 

You can listen to the podcast version of this blog here:

http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/4780086

or here:

http://inspirallingleafsgrove.libsyn.com/samhain-thoughts-ideas-and-a-solo-ritual

or a direct download here:

Or find it on the Apple podcast app here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/in-spirallingleafs-groves/id1085068982?mt=2

 

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In a previous blog post I mentioned  that I hold the role of ‘Ritualist’ for the Circle of Pagans moot.

This is a longstanding moot that serves Liverpool  and the surrounding area as well as any one else who might be passing through.

Part of my role is to create simple rituals for each of the eight spokes of the Neo-pagan wheel of the year. These are rituals that anyone can follow, regardless of how new they are to their pagan path or their ritual experience.

The rituals are based on Wiccan, Druid and Traditional Witchcraft ceremonies;  like most followed by Neopagans today.

They are rituals that can be used by sole practitioners or adapted to group use easily; feel free to tweak them until they suit you and yours.

Circle of Pagans aims to share knowledge and reach out to the wider community. Which is why I thought I’d post the rituals on my blog for others to see, adapt and use.

So here we go……..

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Mabon, Autumn Equinox ritual:

Thoughts:

– In today’s world, it can sometimes be a bit of a mystery a to why things are celebrated, but the equinoxes are some of the most self explanatory. An equinox happens twice a year, once in Spring (Vernal equinox) and once in Autumn. Mabon, as it’s come to be known is the Autumn equinox.
Equinox means ‘equal night’, this refers to the hours of daylight and darkness being equally matched. Either side of this day Summer and Winter can be said to be reigning.

–  The autumnal equinox usually falls on either the 21st or 22nd of September. To the casual observer it looks as though there is a period of around three days where the day and night are almost identical in length to each other, or at least it does here in the UK.

–  After the Autumnal equinox, the number of hours in darkness, will be greater than those in light each 24 hour period, until we hit the Spring equinox.

–  Recognising the changing tides of day and night, can be reason enough to make this a special day. Here, with the equinox, the summer officially ends and we step ever further in to the darkness.

–  Agriculturally and horticulturally speaking, this is the time of the second major harvest. The grain crops and hay crops would have been gathered in around the beginning of August (Lammas) and now the plants in the vegetable garden have started to run out of vigour. Yet, at the same time apples, pears, quince, medlar, late plums and grapes are suddenly showing up; swollen against the back drop of slowly changing leaves.

– Although, historically, many of these fruit would be picked over a long season between now and the start of November (Samhain), many would now be gathered and checked over. The best of the fruits would be stored in barrels or in the cool airy rafters of the lofts of cottages.
While the fruit that would not store so well, or indeed was grown especially for it, would be chopped and pressed and funneled in to barrels to make what is the second most holy drink in my opinion: cider.
(With mead being the first… arguably a place shared with a sensually good red wine or a smooth whiskey).

– Cider making was a communal activity and a magic all of it’s own. Cider vinegar was also made at this time to help preserve the last of the seasons vegetables as strong chutney or pickles.In more modern times, canning of vegetables and fruits would also have been common place.

–  Crops like plums may well have been dried, while quince and medlar would be picked and left to soften, or blet, as in begin to rot, in the case of the medlar, before being used.

–   All these foods are the flavour and nutrient givers to the carbohydrate crops of grain and potatoes and similar harvested back in August, with these prepared, stored and fermenting the prospect of Winter wouldn’t seem quite so bleak to people living a peasant  life.

–  Although the mists would be coming in more frequently and the dew wetting one’s feet in the morning, this time of year also marks a productive time in the hedge row, with rowan, hawthorn, elder and black berries ripe for picking. The obviously generous nature of the Land could not be missed.

–  In modern Druidry, the Autumn equinox is known as Alban Elfed – the light on the water. As the sun lowers to a point where it reflects strongly off the sea and sets in to the West, which is associated with autumn and the third quarter of the year, and , indeed our lives

–  September is often a time of seemingly confused weather as the heat of summer meets the wetness of Autumn; and although the midday can be too hot, the nights can be too cold for comfort. A balance on average, but spiked in experience.

–  Many call this festival Mabon, named after a Welsh deity. Mabon ap Modron appears to us in the tale of in the tale of Culhwch ac Olwen as man, who as a child was stolen from his mothers arms when he was three nights old and locked away in a castle dungeon for milennia. Culhwch, becomes infatuated with Olwen, the daughter of a giant, Ysbaddaden, neither of which he has met, after a he’s cursed for not wanting to marry his stepsister.  Families eh?
A battle ensues and Ysbaddaden is wounded before agreeing that Culhwch can marry Olwen if he performs a series of impossible tasks.
One of these tasks is to hunt down Twrch Trwyth , a giant boar. Twrch Trwyth can only be tracked by Drudwyn, a dog that can only be mastered, so prophecy says, by Mabon ap Modron… as such Culwch and crew head off to find him and in doing so end up speaking to the oldest animals in existence including a devious hawk, an ancient owl, a haggard old stag and a geriatric salmon.

It’s a tale worth reading.

–  The woodland floor is now starting to be come decked with fallen nuts – hazelnuts, acorn and beech mast. And as such, just like Twrch Trwyth, wild boar and pigs would have been moved in to the woodlands to fatten up ahead of the more brutal harvest found at Samhain in six weeks time.

–  The equinox is a time of balance and is a seasonal threshold – perhaps the first leaves are changing colour; shirking their pleasant greens for vibrant painted skins. Perhaps the seed heads of wild grasses have started to bow towards the ground in an aged shade of brown. Perhaps the wildlife is starting to prepare hibernation nests and perhaps hedgehogs and foxes are seen more  as they forage from nature’s bounty to put on weight enough to survive the winter.

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Mushrooms are every where… little ones like this don’t take up much room 😉

 

 

 

What to do?

Here are a few ideas for activities that you could do to recognise the time of Mabon, the Autumn Equinox:

–  Read the tale of Mabon ap Modron – there are a several versions and it’s worth reading a few so that the sense of the connection to the time of year sinks in.

–  Take a bag, some tubs or baskets and go on a mushroom foraging walk (trust an expert if you don’t trust yourself and always make sure they are safe to eat). Perhaps dry some mushrooms at home, to practice an ancestral skill.

–  Go on a berry and nut foraging walk, make some jam or chutney, or even fruit leather. taste the landscape as you go.
If you are feeling brave you could look up how to safely make yew berry tart. The pinky red flesh around the seeds is the only edible part of the yew tree and they taste somewhat like raspberries but with the texture of snot. Never eat the seed or leaves, bark or buds of the yew tree though… they are likely to kill you.

–  Even better, get up early and go walking in the dew found on grassy lands. Take time to appreciate spiders webs as they bear droplets of water, like flowing crystal gems.
Don’t forget to say hello to the large Orb spiders that weave webs that dominate the spaces between paths. These beautiful lady spiders with egg swollen abdomens, naturally painted in beautiful markings, could even lead you to looking in to Arianrhod as a goddess of weaving and spider like accuracy.

– Go out to a woodland or park near you and gather some acorns from under oak trees. Perhaps you would even like to plant some to further the next generation of oak trees. Plant them while still fresh and in a place they will grow well.

– Consider  going on  a shamanic  journey to  visit Mabon ap Modron, or the Guardian of Autumn, or one of the Ancient Animals mentioned in the tale. They can both often be found in the middle or lower worlds. Ask what lessons they have for you and what adventures they’d take if they were in your shoes. You don’t have to act these adventures out though if they are a bit much!

– Set up a circle or working site and invoke an appropriate deity of your choice, or your Ancestors, and speak with them about what you have harvested in your life over the past season or so and what you’d like to harvest in the coming months.

– Or simply go for a walk in to the woods, or meadows or park and see what changes the season has brought to the land near you.

– Have a go at making cider or elderberry wine and perhaps take a toast of a ready cider or mead to a liminal place, such as the beach or moorland and offer it as a libation to the Spirits there and of the time.

–  Collect the best coloured autumnal leaves as you find them and perhaps make a leaf mask to use for Samhain in due time.

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Berries of the Guelder Rose start to deepen to red

A brief solo ritual for you to practice.

Rituals are always better with meaning and purpose  that is more than just a recognition and a tugging of one’s  forelock to a deity or time of year.

These words are my own, but not necessarily the ones I frequently use. If you would like to,  please feel free to ad lib or replace with your own words.

Edit if you will, but please cite me as the author if you are sharing (Mark Buxton or this blog).

The circle cast used here is one aimed at connection rather than separation or safety, feel free to use a different one if you feel in need of a more secure space.

This circle is in a similar vein to the majority of Neopagan style circles and is losely based on both a Wiccan and Druid ceremony format.

The purpose of this circle is connection,  this allows for some vulnerability, but  please don’t use this if you are in a place  that creeps you out or feels ‘wrong’;  wait and work elsewhere.

Preparation 

Find your working space. An area with a 9 foot (3 metre) diameter of open ground will be more than sufficient. You will  need a lighter or matches. Please make yourself aware of fire safety.

Mark out the North with a stone and an  unlit candle.
Mark out the East with a  feather (or  jos stick) and an unlit  candle.
Mark out the South with an unlit candle and something golden in colour.
Mark  out the West with a small bowl of water and an unlit candle.

Place a candle, a dark bowl of water (ideally dew or spring water collected from your local area) an apple and some fresh acorns in the centre. A small amount of cider, apple juice or mead can be placed in a glass in the centre as well. You will also need a knife, this can be an athame, boline or penknife depending upon how you use your tools.

Circle cast

Begin by standing in the centre of what will be your circle.

Take three deep breaths, feeling your lungs fill completely. Feel yourself centred, calm and ready to begin. Face the East.

Extending your finger (or wand, athame, staff or whatever you choose) hold it against your heart. Move your finger to point outwards and be aware of power moving with it.

Feel the energy flowing out of your finger and move your hand slowly to face the East. See that the energy flows out and pools in the air just beyond the Eastern candle, creating a wall that extends both upwards to a point directly above your head and down wards to a point directly below your feet.

Move clockwise, feeling the energy drawing a spherical curtain around you. As you move say the words below. Keep moving in a clockwise direction (deosil) until you reach East again.

A circle of Joy I wind around me like a cloak,
A sphere of presence and of love,
These walls borne of my own spirit,
weaving a circle of connection,
A circle of power, joy and strength
Shared with the world around me.

Once you have reached the East pull your hand back in towards your chest and  allow yourself to feel the presence of the sphere of your own energy around you.

Walk to the East and say:

Hail to the East, place of dawn and the Spirits of Air!
Spirits of the Mighty Winds and Living Breath!
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Eastern Candle

Move to the South and say:

Hail to the South, place of the midday sun and the Spirits of Fire!
Spirits of the flickering flame and the body’s chemical fires!
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Southern Candle

Walk to the West and say:

Hail to the West, place of dusk and the Spirits of Water!
Spirits of the Falling Rain and the water in  my flesh!
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Western Candle

Walk to the North and say:

Hail to the North, place of Midnight and the Spirits of Earth!
Spirits of the fertile soils, stones and bones!
I ask that you join me and watch over me in my rites.

Light the Northern Candle

Walk back to the centre of your circle.  Bend and touch the Earth beneath you, then stand and reach up to the heavens.  Lowering your hand and tuning the full  circle where you are say:

Ancestors of my blood, Ancestors of this land and Ancestors of my Tradition I call to you!
Spirits of this Place and of this Time, Those seen and unseen,
Walk with me and guide me in my ways.
I ask that you join me and watch over my  rites

Sit in the centre of the circle and meditate or dwell on what this second wave of harvest has brought you or will bring you. Try to recall all of the changes in the natural world, or the plants and such growing in your local area, that have marked this out as the Autumnal equinox.

Consider  whether or not you have experienced any change as the Equniox arrives. Perhaps your clothes are now heavier and warmer? Perhaps you diet is suddenly more filled with starches and heavier fattier foods? Or perhaps it would be if you gave in to the cravings?

Kneel or stand in front of the items in the centre of the circle now.

Taking the apple, anoint it with dew water, seeing the blessing of the Autumn, of harvests and richness sink in to it.
Hold the apple with the stem towards the sky and cut through it’s centre horizontally.

Look down at the cross cut core of the apple and you will see it is shaped as a star, a pentagram. Note that this gift of the season and Earth displays the five pointed star at it’s centre.

Become aware of the pentagram being a symbol of balance between the four magical elements of Earth, Air Fire and Water, along with the Essence of Spirit.

Place half of the apple on the ground and eat the other half. Focusing on nothing but the taste, texture and pleasure of eating.

Once done, say:

The Earth’s fruits have nourished me with insights and joy,
Half I have imbibed, Half I leave,
A gift to me is a shared gift with All.
May this half be a blessing to another creature of the Earth.

 

Touch the second half off the apple and leave it on the floor.
Pick up the bowl of water and place it on the ground in front of you.
Place the candle behind the bowl and light it.

Say:

I seek now to look for my memories of success and for what is to become.
I seek the knowledge hidden in the Light on the Water.
I ask my Ancestors to show me what joy is yet to be harvested,
to remind me of a task not yet attended to. 

Pause, breathe and look deeply in to the reflective surface, allow your eyes to defocus. Spend some time here and if you are meant to see something you will.
Scrying, as this is, does not come easily for many. Do not rush; take your time.

Reflect on what you see, if, indeed, you see anything.

Once done, step back from the bowl and thank the Ancestors thus:

I offer you my gratitude,
The Light on the Water i now return again to you,
The blessings of a past harvest and a long and fortuitous future life,
I ask for here with this offering of acorns.

Snuff the candle out with wet fingers and drop the acorns in to the bowl of water.

Now take up the cider, apple juice or mead. Walk to the East and pour a little on to the floor, say:

A libation for the start of the year, a spring well raised.

Walk to the South and pour a little on to the floor, say:

A libation for the height of the year, a summer well grown .

Walk to the West and pour a little on to the floor, say:

A libation for the present hour, a harvest well given.

Walk to the North and pour a little on to the floor, say:

A libation for the end of the year, a Winter yet to pass.

Walk back to the centre and pour a little on to the floor, say:

A libation for those gone before and all in attendance.
Blessings upon you
and may your blessings be upon me.

Drink the remaining contents of the cup or bottle.

 

 

 

 

Closing

Facing the North say the following

Spirits of the North and Earth
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Facing the West say the following

Spirits of the West and Water.
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Facing the South say the following

Spirits of the South and Fire
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Facing the East say the following

Spirits of the East and Air.
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell.

Standing in the centre of the circle and turning round say:

Spirits of this Time and Place, This Land and of All my Ancestors
I thank you for watching over my rite,
I offer blessings and farewell,
Walk with me as you will.

Stand in the centre and face East

Reach out with your finger (wand etc)  and see the energy of the circle begin to flow back  in to our body as you turn anticlockwise winding all your energy back in.

Once done say:

This rite is now complete and done, I return  to the apparent World.

Put out the quarter candles.

The water can now be emptied in the West and the acorns gathered up.
These can be planted in pots outside, or in patches of soil on your journeys over the next three days.
As the trees grow, so too should your blessings asked for or seen in the ritual.
Listen to  the  ritual via my podcast  here:

Try: http://traffic.libsyn.com/inspirallingleafsgrove/Mabon_COP__2016.mp3

or: http://inspirallingleafsgrove.libsyn.com/mabon-the-autumnal-equinox-a-circle-of-pagans-ritual

or: http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/4676504

 

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Alban Elfed – the Light on the water.

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On the 30th July 2016 a rag taggle group of pagans met outside the Liverpool Word museum.
They greeted each other warmly and waited. They were not, as one might presume, waiting for the correct magical hour to begin their journey, but they were waiting or a magnificent Metallic white steed. Within this steed would be found others of their kind. Pam , driver for the day and Brian E, organiser of the day.

The steed like minibus was a little late due to traffic. Which gave plenty of time for the pagans to get bored and to do pagan things, like chat and search for the local toilet… which led one member of the group to excitedly rummage in the foliage of the trees. For it turns out that there are some unusual trees n the gardens at the front of the museum.

Trees like Ailanthus altissima (the tree of heaven) and Catalpha bignonioides (Indian Bean tree) as well as Persian Iron woods and others  -all in mature splendour.

But enough about trees in Liverpool … you want to read about Anglesey and the things discovered there.

As you might expect from a group of pagans we’d all booked passage on the white steed in order to visit ancient sites on the sacred isle of Yns Mon.

Bryn Celli Ddu

53°12’28.32N  004.14’07.79W

After a relatively short journey, the metallic steed-come-minibus arrived at Bryn Celli Ddu, meeting up with others of the party who had made their own way to the location independently.

Walking down the path towards the tomb revelaed a hedgerow rich in witchy pants such as the poisonous Black Briony ( Dioscorea communis) with it’s still green berries an Woody Nightshade (Solanum Dulcamara). Turning the final corner a red squirrel darted from the path in front of us as we approached.

Walking around the tomb  before entering we took note of the grassy mound and the feminine opening of the chamber  before spending a good deal of time  looking at the  inside of the chamber and noting the offerings left by previous visitors.

Brian, the Moot Chief (he’ll hate the title as he’s a very humble man), had prepared an information pack on all of the monuments we would be seeing in the day. So, a few facts:

  • Known as the Mound in the Dark Grove
  • First explored in 1865 and then again in 1928
  • It was thought to have begun as a henge and was built in the later days of the Neolithic
  • It used to be surrounded by a bank, an inner ditch and a circle of upright stones
  •  Over time the henge gave way to the passage tomb similar to today’s structure
  • Unusually a small ox as found buried outside the outer ditch of the henge,  encased in a stone and wood frame.
  • The monument as seen today has been heavily excavated and reconstructed
  • Burned and unburned human bones were found in the chamber and curiously so was an ear bone, carefully placed in a  fire pit which was covered with a flat rock.
  • several stones in the tomb have been found with spiral patterns and other stone works.
  • the upright , assumed phallic, stone in the chamber is a replica, with the original on display in the Cardiff museum.

The Chamber itself is beautiful inside and the mound on the top is less than half the size it would originally have been as it would have stretched right up to the ditch still in place now and been lined with huge kerb stones. Historically, it seems to have been used for a period of roughly 500 years before being the entrance was blocked up for a long time.

The mound itself is well supported by concrete additions and is a great place to meditate, but take care not to tread away any grass or soil. There’s a warming energy that still rises through the mound itself.

Sadly my photographs of the inside of the tomb are a bit out of focus… so you’ll have to visit the site to get a good idea of it’s insides.

 

Castell Bryn Gwyn

53°10’43.57″N  004°17’59.40″W

Our second stop was an impressively sized circular bank of soil. This is another site with a long history of usage, though i have to admit that I got very little from it in terms of any impressions of use.

An excavation begun in 1959 found evidence that the site had been used as an henge, settlement between the late Neolithic/ early Bronze age and the Roman period.

Post holes that would have supported structures, pottery and flint were found in the inner ring as well as an obvious, but narrow track way through the bank.

Sadly the site has been partially destroyed by farm buildings and the like over the years. and can no longer be sen as a full circle as it once was.

 

Bodowyr Burial Chamber

53°11’22.16″N  004°18’12.24″W

We meandered further in to the Anglesey countryside and found our selves wandering through a field be-speckled with sheep dung and recently mown grass.

In the centre of the field is a small polygonal chamber tomb ensconced within a whit painted metal pen. This site has never been excavated, but it is thought to be a neolithic chamber tomb and it’s speculated that it would have been covered by a mound of soil as many others of the time were.

The energy of this site seemed to be such as to lull everyone in to a state of relaxation. As a group a good amount of time was devoted to just looking at the site.
Needless to say all that relaxation took place after most member of the party had scrambled over the metal fence…. it is after all only designed to keep the sheep out, surely.

In fact the fence hadn’t kept out the sheep as a dip beneath one of the bars and some sheep poop inside the fenced area would testify to.

I took advantage of the cut grass at this site to make a couple of things to leave as an offering.

After lining the grass trimmings up a little, i rolled them in to a cord, and twisted them in to  a loose rope. From this a small ‘corn doll’ was fashioned and placed in the centre of the monument. The second piece of grass rope was to be tied on the metal fencing as a sort of clootie ribbon.

 

Din Dryfol Burial Chamber

53°13’30.82″N  004°24’20.52″W

From a small yet obvious chamber tomb to a larger and well hidden gem!
It took a little bit of jungle prowess and even a blood offering to find this charming burial chamber.

As we drove from Bodowyr to this one there was an air of mystery as to how to reach the site. Our instructions suggested that we would find ourselves in a farm yard called Fferam Rhosydd …  yet the point on the map suggested it was elsewhere.
Having unknowingly passed the farm entranced as we drove through a part of the island displaying beautiful rocky outcrops and ridges, we paused to take stock.
Pulling up against a seemingly abandoned farm building  the minibus was approached by a large fat cat. Staring up at the window he Mewled; demanding to know our business.

After being asked the for directions the cat simply looked back the way we’d come for a long moment before going to sit by his equally intimidating looking brother cat who had appeared from nowhere. They almost gave off the sense that they were mini cat mafiosos who would now gather in force to make sure we weren’t stealing any of their patch.

Heeding the cat’s advice we turned around and headed back, soon seeing a sign embedded in a hedge that pointed us where we needed to go.

Once parked up, we disinterred from the vehicle and followed the signs as best we could. The monument is not obvious from the parking space and so I scuttled up a small  hillocky rock ridge to get a better view of the area. Following the sheep path through the gorse I realised two things. Firstly that it was a one way path with a sheer  slope denying further progression and secondly that everyone else was following me up the mound. Seemingly everyone thought I’d spotted the monument and was leading the way.

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With us all crowded on the top of the rocky mound we looked around, seeing a bit of rock sticking out of the bracken on a hillside some 500 yards away, we ascertained that it was the most likely site.

Turning around to dismount the hillock Pamela managed to slip on a hidden rock. Fortunately she caught herself… unfortunately it was on a dense sprig of gorse. As she pulled the spiny leaves from her hand and blood bloomed on the surface we noted the first offering of blood made to the pace that day.

Once down the hill there were two options to take. One was easy and merely involved negotiating grass well nibbled by cows and walking through a gate. Due to the brow of the hill though, this path was not known about in advance.

And so, with a few waiting behind, Brian, Nick and myself set off, cutting a barely visible path between two hedgerows containing boggy ground and then up and through the  chest height bracken and gorse.
After a meandering path had been taken we arrived at the stones, saying a brief farewell and asking forgiveness for shattering the peace of the place before we shouted to our companions to walk across the field as the gate they had spotted from their vantage point after entering a field did indeed connect to the site.

It proved tricky to get a full picture of the site due to the tall plant growth surrounding it, but this is a very worthwhile site to visit. We were even treated to the sight of ants ferrying their grubs up and down the tallest monolith to catch a little sun.

 

 

Overall the site consists of four chambers that were thought to be incorporated in to one long cairn, though  the soil is no missing and the stones had been reported as being slipped back in the early 1800’s.

There’s a definite echo here of residual power though and a future camp out on the sight would, I’m sure,  yield some great journeys.

 

Barclodiad y Gawres Burial Chamber

53°12’28.42″N  004°30’18.25″W

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Having spent our time basking in the sunshine at the previous location we then piled once again in to the minibus. The day was hot and the short walk from the sandy car park to the not too distant grass covered mound was made all the more pleasant due to the gentle sea breeze that caressed our forms.

Sadly the mound had been locked up for the day before we’d arrived and we’d been having so much fun elsewhere that we were too late to collect a key. But it was nice to peer in and imagine things as they perhaps once had been.

The tomb is similar in profile to chamber tombs found over the water in Ireland. It’s name meaning Giantess’s apron full – with local legend suggesting that an apron load of earth was dropped here by a she giant.

Inside, lies a cruciform, four chambered tomb where the cremated remains of at least two men have been found. The central area, it is said, was used to host a fire pit. The archaeological evidence suggests that the fire was put out or the last time by a ‘stew’ being poured on it.  The stew had a range of tasty critters in it if the bones are to be believed.  Remains of mice, frogs, toads, snakes, hares,eels and some fish were found among the embers. After which the whole pit was capped with limpet shells and pebbles.

Again, like the tombs in the Boyne Valley, Ireland, this chamber features decorated stones, bearing patterns very similar to the Irish tombs as well.

 

 

 

An impromptu ritual…

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After finding that we couldn’t enter the tomb, e seemed to collectively decide to have a bit of a chill out. Gary, headed to the cliff tops to navel gaze, Sarah and Pamela loitered at the top of the mound.
Nick and myself went for a wander (and  everyone else had a sit down).

A mere stone’s throw away from the tomb is a nice little cove… it’s littered with rocks (and sadly with litter) and the large stones act as a channel  for the water to navigate before the tide can come fully in.

Here the majority of us gathered and in a ceremony with very few words we called to Land, Sea and Sky and offered our skill as stone stackers to the Goddess Mon as a thank you for the hospitality of Angelsey.

These stacks would fall with the tide’s touch, but we gave a glimpse of ephemeral beauty to the place and our energy (and patience) in the making of such things as a thank you.

We were rewarded with a sun bleached rabbit skull for Nick’s collection as we waked back to the car. It was out of sight amidst the heather, but it called out and so was retrieved.

 

 

 

Ty Newydd Burial Chamber

53°14’07.22″N  004°28’57.70W

 

The time was now around 5pm (or later, I can’t recall) and yet there were still more sites to visit on our List. Brian had done an excellent job of putting the list together – but he’s also a stickler for value for money!  I can’t fault him on that, and I don’t think any others who attended would either.

Winding our way loosely back to the roads that lead to England we passed a sign for another burial chamber and so stopped – it was on our list after all.

This tomb was excavated in 1936 but yielded few finds. Although it was built in the Neolithic period the finds are of a flint arrow from the Bronze age and a shard of Beaker pottery.

As can be seen in the pictures, the cap stone of this monument has a large and obvious fault running through it. As such two hefty brick pillars have been introduced to keep the cap from falling apart. In the recent past it’s obviously become a custom to stick coins in to this gap as can be seen below – though none of us added any currency to the crack lest it act like a wedge and split the cap stone.

To do so would be irresponsible – after all, we weren’t wearing steel toe capped boots and no one wanted a broken toe.

Around the periphery of the structure is a circle of concrete bollards. These mark the area that is would have been covered with soil before the excavation.

This site is approached by climbing over a style and walking the edge of a field. A herd of sheep were grazing the remnants of a turnip crop in here and had uprooted a rather phallic turnip which not only found it’s way in to Sara’s bag, but also created much amusement on the minibus.
Another member of the party fulfilled the stereotypical role of the Liverpudlian, despite being a Southport resident, and… erm … shall we say ‘longterm borrowed’… an armful of golden stemmed grain from a neighbouring field edge to make in to corn dollies for the season.

With the hot, yet vegetative, property  we hightailed it back to the minibus and on to the next location.

 

Presaddfed Burial Chamber

53°17’53.86″N  004°28’54.64″W

 

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Here we would find the last site of the trip as well as a few other interesting things.

There are two burial chambers next to each other at this location, one of which is clearly  standing more proudly than the other.
Archaeologists believe that these would have likely been buried under soil  and that the lack of a stone passage between the two tombs might indicate that they were used at different times during the Neolithic period.

These tombs have a more modern history as well – apparently they provided shelter to  a family of squatters in the 1700’s.

Not only that but we found clear evidence of a night terror in the location. One with sharp talons and a cutting beak. One that flies on silent wings.

An owl!

An also another bird of prey, likely a buzzard, too.

 

Brian spotted a pellet on the top of the fallen capstone and upon investigation there were few bones but a lot of short fur. The owl had likely been eating voles or mice.
The second picture is the knee of a medium sized bird, possibly a pheasant. As can be seen, a sharp beak has snipped through the bones either side of the join.
The knee as found atop the intact tomb cap stone as well.

 

 

From here we headed back towards Liverpool and our respective dwellings. Ready to dream about another day trip out with the Circle of Pagans.

 

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The weekend before last saw me out wandering around the local green spaces – well, a bit more brown than green as November was drawing to a close.

I was out searching for a site to connect to the Dragon lines or Ley lines as some may know them. I settled, after a contemplative walk, upon a now reclaimed remnant of an old railway mound which  would have serviced the coal mines of the past.

You see, I have a few theories about ley lines….

A dragon or ley line in the context that we’re talking about is flow of energy – a line, often straight but not always, on the Earth’s surface that seems to give off energy in greater quantities than surrounding areas.  Often you’ll find a pretty straight line dotted with churches, stone circles and sacred sites. Imagine a cracked pot with a candle alight inside – the whole thing may get hot, but more heat and light will escape the crack than the solid parts of the surface.

Geo magnetic energy, travelling along fault lines and channels in the rocks will account for the majority, but they also appear, in my experience,  along the edges of lakes where lines of ancient trees grow, carving a path for life energy to flow … and in many cases they flow because of us. Our pilgrimages and the places we use to travel en masse. These human tracked lines are less easy to perceive but they are there.

They flow along bridle paths and routes through valleys, even between the cardinal points in a stone circle sometimes.

I am convinced that motorways will one day be an ideal place to connect to the flow of power. Enough travel happens on them, enough emotions are experienced on them and enough blood has been spilled to awaken them.

So… where better to awaken or tap in to a dragon line than upon a old coal train route – a route that was built by humanity to cart energy in solid form (coal) to burn and release energy elsewhere – a physical dragging of physically bound energy from on place to another. In this instance the line would have been short, a trip between a mine entrance and the canal where the barges would be filled and the coal shipped away; no more than four miles.

Upon arrival the feel the tingle of a surface deep line was tangible, this was the right place to come – a boundary between the past and the present, between nature and man; nature having consumed the majority of the land under gorse and grass and tree.

Reaching in to my bag and pulling out a trowel, the realisation that there was little soft ground and that this was a very exposed spot on a windy day… I could do with a fire pit or something of the like just to be able to protect a flame long enough for it to establish.
Home was where the  fire pit was and that was at least an hour’s walk back and dusk due to fall … no, a resolution would be found here. After all, I’d not known where I was going that afternoon when I set out and as soon as the land form had cropped up I had been called there… the very spot identified … so here would be an answer.

Upon walking around the other side of the grove that was to be the ritual site, I spotted a sauce pan, shiny and silver  sat on the surface next to a few items abandoned after what appeared to be a summer tent pitching.
That was the answer. I gathered up some of the litter to be later disposed of, as a bit of a thank you, and took the pan back to the ritual site. A few stones and fallen branches later and there was a suitable shelter for the flames.

My ritual was completed after dusk had fallen and all worked as desired thanks to an abandoned pan and a guiding nudge or three from the Spirit of the Land.

This is not the most fascinating story ever… but yet it highlights a few things that are really important to me.

1 – A witch, druid, shaman etc should be resourceful enough to be able to do their work with  what they find around them.

2 – Listening to those that would guide you is often a good idea, things will be where you are told, even if you don’t know what  you are meant to be looking for.

3 –  Trust. Within Wicca one is expected to use the idea of Perfect Trust and that’s a good concept to have a grasp of. Mindfully trusting in the flow of things, the way of the wyrd, the paths of inspiration, will usually serve you well. The more you trust the flow, the more things fall in to place…. the more you trust the flow the more direction you will be given and yet your feet will fall more easily – it’s like walking within the Tao I guess.

4 – Preparation is a good idea … the saucepan now lives in my rucksack.

I hope the flow is easy for you and joyous. May you find your own Witch’s Saucepan as and when you need it.

Blessed Be,

/|\

 

 

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Today I have an urge to write… though I’m not sure what.

It’s one of those days where it would seem as though I’m hyper aware of my body, but that my mind is suffering an  urge to flee  from this reality… though it’s not sure where it fancies taking a trip to. France? An as of yet undiscovered realm? Tesco? A N Other place?

So with mind afloat, yet with the anchor of my corporeal body constantly snagging on the ocean floor I have released my fingers upon the keyboard. The following may be a jumble and may dance like in and out of focus, like candle light in the noon day sunshine…

In part I think this disparity of feeling is because I took some time to meditate last night and a short slot the day before – something I have not found much time for in recent months. You see I’ve been ripping out two bathrooms, a kitchen, a wardrobe and the units in a living room before rebuilding bits of bespoke furniture, a new to us kitchen and a fresh bathroom… all the while working full time and attending to my other commitments.

The old adage which runs akin to – ‘find 20 minutes a day to meditate, and if you don’t have time, find an hour each day’ – is all well and good but when the body and mind are run to tiredness which precludes the potential; to meditate (naturally replaced with sleep) then it’s harder to achieve while also aiming to complete several jobs as fast as possible.

I have kept planning to meditate as i know that some of the alacrity of my mind has faded – thoughts arose more sharply than they now do and more links used to fire off in my mind at the slightest hint of inspiration.

But now there’s both a reason and a little more time that I can spend in meditating – this is a good thing 🙂

In past times when I have had a break from meditation I have felt similar discord betwixt mind and body for a few days… also associated with being a bit cranky and emotionally sensitive for those few days too. (Apologies  in advance to my beautiful other half…).

If I stand the test of time and have a short meditation zone on a daily basis for the foreseeable future then I know I’ll see the benefits long term. … evidently I have some mental rebalancing to complete, not excessive amounts, but a little, as shown by the seabed disturbing body and the ether bound mind… It’s almost as though I opened a few windows in a hollow shell shaped like my being. The rapacious wind swept in and bruised the dusty piles of papers and half remembered curios in forgotten rooms. The air is still swirling and the dust hasn’t decided whether to settle yet or whether or not to file itself away in the empty jars found toppled off the bookshelves – jars of thoughts and stories formed from the dusty mote like fragments of inspiration leaked in to my mind and out of the other items held in there. Hopefully, next time I glance in the forgotten rooms, i’ll find shifting dust statues and story boards played out in mental debris, safely ensconced behind circular glass screens, playing in the gentle candlelight of inspiration.

In my next meditative foray i may well find that I’ve un-hung the doors to many of these rooms, doors made from accreted pages from part read books and stacked high with stanzas and prose which never was birthed via a pen tip in to the physical world. Like papier mache decoupage structures hinged on the vagaries of dreams and portents which have slipped in unnoticed as mental sharpness faded a little.

In my teenage years and early twenties I would meditate daily (or twice daily) for between half an hour and an hour and that’s one of the things which helped me to climb out of depressive episodes. It also helped me to utilise the strange double edged gift that depression can be, to recognise it as a part of myself and also to disguise it from those around me. Meditation may make a mess of the mind the first few times it is wielded, but ultimately it cleans up the neural path ways and casts light on the gnawing gremlins which lurk in the shadowy corners of the mind and which burrow between the cranial rooms, spilling memories and dreams in to places where they needn’t be. It domesticates the gremlins, files their teeth even sharper and trims scuffed claws in to cutting talons and provides little spectacles and tweed suits… in short meditation turns some of our inner demons in to suave yet dangerous librarians and allows them to provide us with weapons and tools to travel  the outer world and inner worlds with.

So… ahem… in short meditation is pretty good for the mind.

Another benefit can be simply that magical power, energy if you like, becomes much more easily accessible and readily identifiable – things literally sparkle with potency as they enter your awareness. Magic and connection swims through you and the outer world more obviously.

So, with all that in mind I think it will be kept up and that this strange discombobulated feeling will fade in to a more energetic presence and sharper focus. I’m also hoping that it will encourage my mind to work through the contents of a book that I’ll be writing in due time, internally debating topics as I put them in to the bucket before lowering them in to the meditation well. A well fed by the senses and probably linked to aged salmon and the salty wisdom of Mananan Mac Lir.

I hope that wasn’t too unintelligible… and the urge to write has been sated … so I’ll leave you now and hopefully it won’t be two months between blog posts before I’m back behind the keyboard to shove written shite through your reading eyes and in to your minds 🙂

Also… i haven’t checked spelling… so apologies if there are any errors.