We are the authors of Memory... We are the ENGINEERS of TRADITION
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. a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
. a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism
- For my THANKSGIVING card to you and yours, click here...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A PRAYER to the ANCESTORS






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Download a PDF of the above HERE...

Painting "The Last of England" by the Pre Raphaelite  Ford Maddox Brown, 1855

ALSO,  see 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

LLEU and the REAL GIRL


Worse than the cruelest “Fairy Lover”.
Worse than that (ok, I admit it) imaginary girlfriend many of us had in the 7th grade,
Worse even, than the professor's relationship with Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel…

The piece of achingly lovely fluff that Math and Gwydion spun up as a mate for Lleu was made of that same deadly fabric that has laid-low a thousand mighty young princes:
beauty...  lacking substance.

BLODEUWEDD WAS NOT A NICE YOUNG LADY!
She was one of the foulest characters in the whole Mabinogion !

Just because she was awesomely beautiful and she
had been made out of nothing but flowers and magic,
IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT SHE WAS EVER A
WONDERFUL “GODDESS OF FLOWERS”.

And, IMO, whenever any of you 
are foolish enough to honor her as such, 
you risk the curse of the ancient Bards of Wales 
for buggering one of the most precious gifts they have left us. 

This Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion was a masterful piece of storytelling as well as being a truly a mythic construction bearing a timeless message. A cautionary tale; an instructional myth.

Good Gods, guys...
HAVE-YOU-NOT-READ-THE-STORY ?

The ONLY (only!) place in all of history she is ever mentioned is this very story, constructed with the obviously express intention to warn young men* of the dangers of their own inherent vulnerability to the power of beauty when devoid of character; a loveliness without compassion or care… La Belle Dame sans Merci, the monstrous, nay, lethal, danger of transcendent beauty without a soul.

I would go on, but I fear I have already have offended too many friends here and, although I feel some things must be said,  such was not my intention.

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*    Mabinogi = “lads’ tales”  is as good a translation of the title as any you’ll find.
* * Lars and the Real Girl (2007) - a very sweet and entertaining film, definitely worth seeing.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Blessed June SOLSTICE to all!


As the Sun came up 
and the 
mists of morning rose,
the Great Stones bristled
with crows 
and crows 
and crows.

- Earrach

The JUNE SOLSTICE, Summer Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere,
 occurs this year at 6:51 AM, EDT Saturday, June 21st.

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"Midsummers Eve" - Here's an illustration I did back in 1977 
which was recently used on the cover of ADF's magazine Oak Leaves...

(c)1977 earrach; Click to enlarge...
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A HYMN TO THE SUN

GREAT AND GLORIOUS GOLDEN SUN,
SHINING YOUR LIGHT AND WARMTH
UPON THE WORLD!

FIERY FURIOUS FURNACE SUN,
BLAZING SINGULAR CENTER
OF THE CIRCUIT OF OUR YEARS !

HEAR ME NOW AS AGAIN I PLEDGE, 
NEVER TO FORGET
MY PERPETUAL RELIANCE
ON YOUR RADIANT GLORY.

HAIL, PRAISE AND THANKS TO THEE O SUN !
HAIL, PRAISE AND THANKS TO THEE !


-Earrach of Pittsburgh
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"If I am asked whether it accords with my nature to worship the Sun, then I say once again, ‘Completely!’ For it is a revelation of the most high, and in fact the mightiest which has ever been granted us mortals to perceive. I worship it in the light and creative power of God, whereby alone we live and move and have our being, and all plants and animals together with us.”

 - - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Gespraeche, Vol. IV: 441-42).

SEASONAL READING:

"Why Not the Sun?" 
- my standard essay on the Sun and Neodruidic practice. 

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"The (Neopagan) Solar Apostasy"

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"What's a SOLSTICE ? (vs. Equinox, etc.)"
SOLSTICE (SOLC): Either of the two extremes of the Earth’s constant 23.4° axial-tilt, relative to the sunlight falling on its surface. Only at the June Solstice is the Earth’s north pole tilted the full 23.4° towards the Sun... and only at the December Solstice is it tilted the full 23.4° away from the Sun.
EQUINOX (EQX): The Spring or Autumn quarter begins as the Earth’s terminator, the boundary-line between night and day, momentarily crosses the North and South Poles. Therefore, with the Earth’s day/night boundary line briefly poised simultaneously over both poles, only on dates near these times of year are the number of hours of night and day equal all over the globe.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

On MUSIC for your MAYDAY


Abingdon Morris, 1910
SERIOUSLY GUYS,

IF...
You're a Pagan who celebrates Beltaine using any of the traditional Mayday customs: maypoles, ribboned garlands and crowns of flowers, maypole dancing, etc...

AND
You are involved in the production of group or public rituals,

AND
You are involved with the selection or performance of the music for the occasion,

OR
You simply care at-all about such things, regardless, 

THEN, 

IMHO... you should feel obliged to know at least the following three tunes, 
and to learn their words, distribute the lyrics, and teach them to the others.

1.) Padstow May-Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N58hw__JOlk  

2.) Staines Morris
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMIrYeHwyOU    

3.) Hal an Tow
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5vUj6j8hjI   

Three odd old songs.    
Three odd old, 
now increasingly magical, songs...

As a matter of fact, it's good to drill your group in learning to sing them during the weeks leading up to the event. This does not mean enforcing a strict perfectionist's regimen; no, but it does mean working hard enough to successfully engender a sense of familiarity and eventual personal association of this music with that celebration.

WHY? - They are "core" components in an old, if not ancient, tradition and it is through our hands the tradition will continue, or not, particularly in your local community. This same dynamic of association is what powers the near-narcotic effect that Yuletide's seasonal music has on us. Wouldnt it be nice to live our lives in a continual series of somethings, from one season to another, each as powerful as Yuletide's, that stretched throughout the whole year? 

Yes? Well, that's exactly what some of us have in mind...

The PADSTOW MAY SONG 

Unite and unite and let us all unite, 
  For summer is a comin' today, 
  And whither we are going we all will unite, 
  In the merry morning of May... 

With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring, 
For summer is a comin' today, 
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing 
In the merry morning of May... 

The young men of Padstow they might if they would, 
For summer is a comin' today, 
They might have built a ship and gilded her with gold 
In the merry morning of May... 

The young women of Padstow might if they would, 
For summer is a comin' today, 
They might've made a garland with the white rose and the red, 
In the merry morning of May...

BRIDGE:

O! -Where is King George?
O, where is he O?
He's out in his long-boat all on the salt-sea O.

Up flies the kite... 
Down falls the lark O,
Aunt Ursula Birdhood, she had an old ewe ("yowe")
And she died in her own Park -O.... 

Where are the young men that here now should dance, 
For summer is a comin' today, 
Some they are in England and some they are in France 
In the merry morning of May...

With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring, 
For summer is a comin' today, 
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing 
In the merry morning of May... 

( CHORUS: Unite and unite... )


STAINES MORRIS 

Musically, this is the most challenging piece. YouTube is rapidly altering the tunes also, so watch out. Have your best singers learn it (only) from the "Morris On" album track and then train the others: 
see http://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/stainesmorris.html  


- Come ye young men, come along... 
With your music, dance and song 
Bring your lasses in your hands 
For tis that which love commands...  -- chorus:

Then to the Maypole haste away, for 'tis now a holiday... 

- Tis the choice time of the year 
And the violets now appear 
Now the rose receives its birth 
And the pretty primrose decks the earth -- (chorus)

- And when you well reckoned have 
What kisses you your sweetheart gave 
Take them all again, and more 
It will never make them poor -- (chorus) 

- When you thus have spent your time 
And the day be past its prime 
To your beds repair at night 
And dream there of your day's delight -- (chorus) 


HAL AN TOW  

Take no scorn to wear the horn 
It was a crest when you were born 
Your father's father wore it 
And your father wore it too... chorus: 

Hal an tow, - jolly rumble oh, 
We were up - long before the day oh 
To welcome in the summer... 
To welcome in the may oh... 
For summer is a-comin' in 
And winter's gone away oh

Robin Hood and Little John 
Have both gone to the fair oh 
And we will to the merry greenwood 
To hunt the buck and hare oh... [chorus]

What happened to the spani-ards 
That made so great a boast oh 
They shall eat the feathered goose 
And we shall eat the roast oh... [chorus] 

( Then, use this modern / pagan-ish verse to finish, )

Our Lords and Ladies bless you now  
With all their grace and power oh  
And send their peace upon us too 
And bring peace by day and night oh... [chorus]

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A NOTE of CAUTION... 

If you're not already aware of such things: 


Beware of referring to these
(actually mainly "English" or "British")
May-Day customs as  "Celtic".

Persons identifying with the Celtic heritages of the last 1000 years of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany's history harbor much animosity toward anything related to things "English" or "British" or of "the Crown". This includes the Bretons' rejection of "the crown" of France as well. 

There is much reason for their ancestors to have harbored such resentment yet it remains a matter of debate whether it should inhibit their inclusion in our concerns since most of Britain, including England, was thoroughly "Celtic" by modern archeological standards even before the Celtic languages and customs ever even reached Ireland. (Yes, historically, Ireland was the "last" part of Western Europe  to become "Celtic"!)

A "Romano-Celtic" celebration ?

Even to the matter of having the same date, the English Mayday bears too much similarity to the Roman Floralia to be ignored. The Floralia,  a celebration of the spirit of the blossoming May, was undoubtedly celebrated by the Romans while occupying England 1800 years ago and likely wove its way into the resulting Romano-Celtic hybrid cultures left everywhere the romans settled.

BTW:  "The RAIN in SPAIN does NOT rhyme with BELTAINE !"

If your local Celtic Recon-quisitors have not gotten to you yet, 
here's another warning...

If like most of us,  you're too-cool to say "SAM-HAYNE", then you'd better reconsider the way you've been pronouncing Beltaine. The correct pronunciation of our beloved B-word is actually nothing like you'd imagine; it's actually something like "BALL-chin-ah".
Go ahead, just see how popular you remain trying to enforce that one...

Seriously, myself? I've ended up so self conscious about it that I'm increasingly saying screw it and using the term "MAYTIDE" instead.

-Earrach of Pittsburgh, (c) 2006, 2014


Long live the Tradition!


PS, The spelling of Beltaine used here is based on the guidelines for appropriate spellings of Celtic terms in popular settings suggested by James MacKillop in the OXFORD DICTIONARY of CELTIC MYTHOLOGY, pp xxii-xxiii 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

HAPPY EASTRE !



The MARCH EQUINOX occurs Thursday Mar.20th at 12:57 PM EDT/Eastern 
(11:57 Central; 10:57 Mountain; 9:57 Pacific…)

What’s an EQUINOX?:   
In late March and in late September* every year, we enter the next quarter of the year as the Earth’s terminator, the boundary line between night and day, crosses the North and South Poles simultaneously. Therefore, with the Earth’s day/night boundary line briefly poised over both poles, only at these times of year are the hours of night and day approximately equal, anywhere on the globe.

HAPPY EASTRE !
Yes, more and more Neopagans celebrate the March Equinox as the Pagan “EASTRE” and, IMO,  we should all give consideration to adopting/reclaiming the word and common pronunciation.  
see:

FUZZY LOGIC solves the endless dispute over “when” a season begins or ends !

BREAK  A STICK in half at the sacred moment and nab some big Mojo? see:

The DRUIDS’ ALMANAC – lots more related fun stuff here:





Saturday, January 11, 2014

The DRUIDS ALMANAC, 2014

The WHEEL of the YEAR,  2014 . . .

v1.01 ©2014 Earrach of Pittsburgh

Solstice:   Either of the two extremes of the Earth’s constant 23.4° axial-tilt, relative to the sunlight falling on its surface. Only at the Summer Solstice is the Earth’s north pole tilted the full 23.4° towards the Sun... and only at the Yule Solstice is it tilted the full 23.4° away from the Sun.

Equinox:   The Spring or Autumn quarter begins for the Northern Hemisphere as the Earth’s terminator, the boundary line between night and day, crosses the North and South Poles simultaneously. Therefore, with the Earth’s day/night boundary line briefly poised over both poles, only at these times of year are the hours of night and day equal anywhere on the globe.

Crossquarter:   Here defined as the moment in time precisely half-way between an adjacent solstice and equinox.

Bliadhna:   (Scots Gaelic,) Pronounced “BLEE-an uh”,
 “the ring of the year” -or- “the wheel of the year”

Charts and images on this page (c) 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 Earrach of Pittsburgh;
Data updated and corrected as of Jan. 7, 2014 
Please report any errors or typos you discover - e. 
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For a downloadable PDF of the above charts,
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The DRUIDS' ALMANAC MISCELLANY
The full series of Druids' Almanac charts,
essays and resources is found
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Merry Druid YULETIDE to All!

Here’s a trove of Yuletide goodies from days of yore…
With Yuletide blessings to you and yours… WASSAIL !

DECEMBER SOLSTICE 
occured at 12:11 PM Eastern Standard Time
Saturday, Dec. 21st, 2013

"Bah- humbug?" - No way... 

The three faces of the Spirit of the Yule and
the Fractal Mystery of the Twelve Nights
between Solstice Eve and New Years Eve...

The oldest records of Yuletide may be 
from England of the Dark Ages, not Germany...

Don't overlook these basic themes when creating
ritual celebrations for the December Solstice...

 Yes, it's true, you can hear the year turn...


Looking for DRUID-ISH 
YULETIDE TUNES ?
Check these out:
by Steeleye Span 
on their holiday album
"Winter"





Sunday, December 8, 2013

THE POWER OF THE IMPENDING MOMENT

TIMING is an essential element
in things magical...



Just ask the average suburban seven year old two days before Christmas... 

Perhaps you still have that child inside you? Perhaps you can’t help but remember that child as the sun sets on Halloween night or as the last seconds of the Old Year are counted-off at a party on New Year’s Eve. Whether in the experience of a child or an adult, the power of an impending special-moment or calendar date is an aspect of magical or religious experience we cannot afford to overlook.

Power made -and- Power found 
To ‘raise magic’ toward a goal we often have to work quite hard at it to get anything but the mildest effect and are thus reminded that at least one universal principle governs the laws of magic as in the rest of life: what you get out of something is usually directly proportional to what you put in. The success of our work often hinges on whether any one specific factor or combination of a whole group of factors, is actually able 'raise the power' necessary to effect a change in the world. Power can be 'made-the-hard-way' (sometimes it's the only way-) yet, power also can be 'borrowed' from pre-existing flows of power or potential existing in the natural world and the sea of consciousness around us.

For example, it might be said that doubt kills magical effects, or rather: that the-suspension-of-doubt facilitates their achievement. Here we see a great source of magical effect that literally doesn't need to be created but instead presents itself through the suppression of a simple cognitive reflex. Doubt is usually dispelled by our knowledge of the world and the understanding of what is ordinarily possible; yet, when we approach a goal which requires magical power, we realize that it's the very nature of magic to challenge the structure of what is ordinarily possible. Our set of assumptions is our own obstacle to success. Any student of magical disciplines can tell you that wonders may be achieved by culturing the simple ability to stop assuming that they are 'not possible'.

Small actions can cause large effects in the world: the tiniest pin-point can burst the biggest balloon. Why kill yourself trying to shovel all the snow off the mountain-side when one well placed snowball can bring down a mighty avalanche?


I'd like to suggest that we modern magical practitioners don't utilize the power of sacred timing half as much as we could. 

This brings to mind an event a couple of years ago. I was attending a week-long national pagan festival and found myself in a crowd of five or six hundred people being entertained by a popular pagan rock band on the night of the Summer Solstice. As the show went on I became increasingly more uncomfortable with my recognition that no one had planned to even briefly stop the show to honor (what I consider to be) the passing of one of the most sacred moments of the year. The show continued, the moment of Solstice came and went, I did my own little observance sitting there on the grass amid the hundreds of other "pagans", and the band played on... and didn't miss a note. Somehow I don't think I'll ever forget that moment; I suppose it may be the very reason I'm writing this now.

The moment of a solstice or an equinox marks the 'happening' of a very real event; much more real than most pagans understand as such. These events are special moments in Nature; momentary transitions of the attitude and inclination of the Earth Herself relative to the Sun's light upon Her surface. They are the absolute cause and demarcation of the Seasons which eternally delight and sustain us. Sadly, few of us gather anything but the most vague and imprecise understanding of what a solstice or equinox really is in the first place, and, as a consequence this tends to limit our very ability 
to see or place personal value on their specific 'moments-in-time'.

Capturing the Moment:  
The Ritual Tech of the Broken Stick

One very effective way to "capture" the power of an impending moment is to record its passing in the creation or modification of an object at the very moment of the sacred event. Over the years I have used this technique in a number of ways. One of my favorite methods is to break a stick in two at the exact moment, working from a clock which has been calibrated to a very accurate source like the WWV shortwave signals broadcast from the National Bureau of Standards in Fort Collins Colorado. This sounds like tech that's out of reach for most people but actually these self correcting WWV clocks are becoming very common and several are available at Radio Shack from $15 through $40. Nowadays your cellphone's time is almost as accurate.

The Sanctity/Veneration feedback loop
The more obsessive about accuracy and timing you are, the more sacred the moment becomes to you, and all the more magical power is availed to you in its capture. The Sanctity/Veneration feedback loop is another of the basic principles at work in personal magic: the more you venerate a principle or object, the more sacred it becomes in turn. Yes, you are the primary arbiter of the sacred and thereby, the holiness of the world is a factor that's largely in your own hands, it's up to you.

The broken ends of the stick hold in them the imprint of the sacred moment which, in our calendrical rites, we present to the assembly for veneration. I often have used the ends to charge and bless the waters or other objects used in the receptory phase of the ritual in which the blessings or magical power is given to the people in return for their offerings. 


Pouring molten wax or lead into water can create an object of considerable power, having captured in its form much of the essential nature and magical power of the moment. Rendering an offering to the Fire or the Waters or burning an inscribed piece of paper; smashing an object-link representative of some woe or binding in your life; or simply "winding up" and launching the power of a spell at the sacred moment, may just send it out into the Cosmos riding the crest of that mighty tidal wave of natural power.

The Correct Dates of the Solstices and Equinoxes??
However can we get our fellows to approach the sacred potential of the moment if we can't even get them to understand the basics of the Sacred Year? It's really not that hard to find the correct calendrical information to work from but you'd never suspect it, given the variety of misinformation disseminated in the Neopagan and New Age literature.

Ok, ask any Neopagan: "What are the great Pagan holy-days??"...   

"TheˇWheel of the Year;" and you'll be told, "made up of the solstices and the equinoxes and the midpoints between them called cross-quarters... "

Then ask them: "What are the calendar dates of those feasts?" 

Well, if you happen to have your cheat sheet (see fig.1,) you are in for some big surprises... Yes, I don't know if I've found one 'pagan' reference book yetˇthat lists the correct general date for the Autumnal Equinox !!! Even if they include it in a range of possible dates, rarely does any source infer that the 23rd of September is the principal date for the Autumnal Equinox and the other is an occasional variant. It simply does NOT fall on the 20th, nor the 21st, or 25th - - those are just plain wrong:  it usually falls on the 23rd and occasionally on the 22nd.
The same nonsense prevails for the Vernal Equinox. March 20th is the principal date: not the 22nd, 23rd, 25th or whatever you commonly find printed. Its just usually on the 20th and occasionally the 21st. 

Regardless of what you may have read, the Summer Solstice usually falls on June 21st (otherwise it falls on the 20th) and the Yule Solstice falls on Dec. 21st; otherwise it's on the 22nd.

You know what? The fixing of the solstices and equinoxes to those particular dates was the very reason for the Calendar Reform of the 16th century,  - T H E - very reason we have the calendar we now use, known as the Gregorian Calendar. That calendar was created to keep the old table of days and months from drifting ever away from the seasons as they had done under the Julian Calendar current up until that time. The British Isles and American colonies didn't catch up until 1752 and by that time had to excise eleven days of error to get the calendar realigned to the seasons!

Why do they all still continue to get it wrong? Surely it's not that they don't care; more likely they simply don't know where to get reliable information and just turn to other, clueless 'authorities' instead of tracking down the simple facts of Nature from the disciplines which really understand them, here, Astronomy* 

(-not Astrology; and yes there is a significant difference in the reliability of the data).

This mistake is not limited to the undereducated, unedited, 'low-brow' press but is found just as strong among those who should know better; including beloved authors such as John and Caitlin Matthews. This buggering of our sacred calendar has been going on for decades, not only in pagan publications but even in the works of 'scholarly' folklore, anthropological and archaeological writers as well.

Wouldn't you at least like to feel that you're celebrating a 'holy-day' on the right day ? It reminds me too much of how, in our city, the mayor and city council decided to hold the public celebrations of the 4th of July on the 3rd or the 5th to save on the holiday overtime-pay for all of the police involved. Perhaps it would be more economical to move New Year's Eve to another night too... ( Grrrrrrr -! )



NOTICE TO PAGAN "AUTHORITIES":
GET WITH THE PROGRAM ! 

THIS STUFF IS MORE THAN IMPORTANT...
It's S A C R E D. 
( Got it? )


Earrach of Pittsburgh (c) 1997, 2013

References:
1.) Best, most reliable and easiest to access source: the US Naval Observatory, official government source for calendar-info for equinoxes, solstices, Moon-phases, etc.

2.) Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets, Jean Meeus, Willman Bell 1989 www.willbell.com. Meeus' book is used as the single most reliable set of calculations available to astronomers and calendar-makers the world over. Among many other listings it charts the date and time of the solstices and equinoxes with a precision down to the actual second within the minute. The listing ranges over apx. 3000 years and is far more accurate than any commercially available astronomical or astrological software. The book was available for less than $30 from Willman-Bell but now may only be available through web searches.

========================= 


A Related Photo Album...

A closeup of our home altar ( note the broken stick at center ) :

From this year's Autumnal Equinox atop our holy-hill ( WWV clock at center ):




Our Wheel of the Year Shrine with broken stick and misteltoe after last Yule:

An annotated overview of the whole altar: 



All photos by Earrach of Pittsburgh, 2013