Soul

CloudsThe otherworld calls in smoke and thunder.
Knowing you are not forgotten
salamanders of yesteryear
crawl from furnaces where you lay,
their myriad eyes burning red
knowing you will awake
when the last shards are gone
and you are nothingness.
What will bring back?
Gone but not forgotten,
your fingerprints are still
visible on tabletops and walls.
Your footprints descend to the cellars.
When you do not come back for wine,
who will bring you back?
Those who would walk with you
have already walked these streets and cannot
grope their way through the soot anymore.
The indefinite touch of their fingertips
moves further away like the distance
between us on the outskirts of morning
where by blinking the tower blocks
break their eyes. You are gone but not forgotten
where there is smoke and thunder
from the otherworld, where the furnace
is stoked, the fire lit, where I still pour the wine.

Fire

Replacement Apple Tree and Pruning

lornasmithers:

An update from Friends of Greencroft Valley on the planting of a new Epicure apple tree and pruning with Steve Edwards.

Originally posted on FRIENDS OF GREENCROFT VALLEY:

At end of summer last year our Epicure apple tree got stolen (!)

No Tree

This morning, Steve Edwards from Lancashire County Council brought a new Epicure tree, which had grown to a height to match the others because it was grafted onto root stock.

Graft

Graft

We planted the tree. Below it you can see Sowman’s Seedling, Blenheim, Burrknott and Dumelow’s Seedling. You may notice the Burrknott still has its leaves. It was also the first tree to bear an apple earlier in the year and seems to be a particularly hardy specimen.

Epicure Tree

Steve also helped out by pruning the trees to make way for new and healthy growth next year.

Pruning

View original

Barguest

Friargate, Preston, 1888

I.
What is that splashing at the gate?
What is that black and headless thing?

How it howls and shrieks, telling of disaster,
comes to take away a little more of my life.

It has no real shape but what I cast
from its shadow in a torment of rain

when it is neither day nor night.
I would rather be drunk

when it comes for me,
puts its miry feet on my shoulders

and forces me home to unconsciousness.

II.
They say I should listen to its warning.
At this rate I do not have long to live.

The tap room trembles
with my palsied hand on the burnished flagon.

Brass framed paintings and horse brasses blur
in a siege of tobacco smoke.

I raise my drink.
At the bottom of its brown murkiness

lurks a headless shadow
like spilt ink that writhes and twists.

Its barking threat splits my forehead.

III.
The tap room rocks with the laughter
of working men; flat caps, overalls, smiles,

still wearing pride with their uniforms,
bantering about rates of pay,

too young to remember
the dark days of lock outs and plug plot riots.

Never having lost a friend.
Not knowing what we gave for them.

I shouldn’t be jealous but that tragedy
of gunshots keeps coming back to me.

I down the cursed ale and shout for another.

IV.
The innkeeper pushes me out into wet weather,
slams the door, douses the light.

I sway through torrential rain
and puttering streaks of yellow gas lamps.

I know it will be waiting at the gate,
splashing its feet, headless eye watching me.

I start to tremble when all I find is cold emptiness.
No barguest. No sense of direction.

No touch of two paws demanding that I face the darkness.
What if this is the night and there is no companion

to lead me through the gates of death?

~

This poem is based on the legend of the Black Dog of Preston, which is recorded in Charles Hardwick’s Traditions, Superstitions and Folklore (1872). It also appeared in a serialised story in The Preston Guardian James Borlase in 1888.

Barguest is Anglo-Saxon word which means ‘gate-ghost’. The term is used interchangeably with black dog by a number of folklorists. The ‘bar’ element means gate, hence its association with the physical gates of the town (ie. Friargate) and entryways to the otherworld.

The ‘tragedy of gunshots’ referred to is the Lune Street Riot of 1842. This was part of the Preston Strikes whereby cotton workers led by Chartists refused to work, marched and rioted in hope of a fairer wage and acceptance of the Charter. The military opened fire on the rioters, killing four people and injuring three. The protest was unsuccessful.

The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens by Morgan Daimler

MorriganMorgan Daimler is a Celtic Reconstructionist and dedicant of Macha based in New England. She teaches Irish myth, magic and folklore and has published nine books as well as poetry and prose in a variety of magazines, journals and anthologies.

The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens is a short, introductory book (eighty pages) in the Moon Books Pagan Portals series. By bringing together material from ancient Irish texts and academic sources it aims to provide readers new to the Morrigan with a basic introduction to this goddess, those who share her title, Badb and Macha and other associated goddesses such as Nemain, Be Neit and Grian.

The result is a tightly packed text with an abundance of subject matter to learn from and plenty of references to follow up. Morgan’s research is thorough and she demonstrates a learned understanding of the original texts and scholarly viewpoints. Morgan’s approach is to let the stories of each goddess speak for themselves. Whilst she presents contrasting viewpoints and shares her own, she encourages the reader to seek their own interpretation through further study rather than leading them to her own conclusions.

The benefits are that she provides a holistic picture of the Morrigan and introduces her to newcomers without swaying their opinion. A slight cost is the book doesn’t flow as well as it could. As someone with only a vague knowledge of Irish mythology, I found myself frequently having to pause and look back to check names, associations and references to texts rather than being guided forward by the author’s argument. I also found the APA method of citation where references disrupt the text irritating. These are my only criticisms.

What I liked best about this book is that as well as sharing her academic knowledge of the Morrigan(s), Morgan shares her personal experience of each goddess; what it feels like to be in their presence, their physical appearance and their role in her life. These gnoses permeate her prayers and invocations.

Importantly for newcomers, Morgan astutely points out the differences between ‘working with’ and worshipping a goddess. The former is a temporary arrangement governed by specific guidelines and goals. The latter is based in relationship (she warns that when you invite a deity into your life you never know how it might go!) and interactions, which for her mainly take the form of prayers, meditations and offerings.

Morgan does not shy away from confronting moral questions raised by worshipping a goddess connected with war and death. She presents her own resolutions and also challenges readers who may have been drawn to the Morrigan as a ‘Dark Goddess’ to think what this means to them before applying this category.

A hidden gem of particular interest was Morgan’s description of ‘reconstructing celtic seership with Badb.’ Here she shares her use of the ancient techniques of ‘imbas forosna’ ‘tenm laida’ and ‘dichetal do chenaib’ with Badb’s guidance for divinatory purposes. The latter, which involves the spontaneous recitation of poetry is something I’ve felt compelled to do for a while and, inspired by Morgan, hope to try in my own way in the future.

Overall this is a cracking introduction to the Morrigan(s) and I’m sure there will be plenty of hidden surprises in it for everybody. I would recommend it to anybody new to this goddess who is looking for a trustworthy starting point, devotees of the Morrigan wanting to learn more about others’ experiences and anybody interested in polytheism in general.

The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens is officially released tomorrow and is available here: http://amzn.to/1Bh3LCs

Message

I lie on a patch of snow, truncated,
a cold metal plate in my breast
in place of a heart,
one leg bitten off in savagery,
staring up into an aloof black hole,
here before day glow banished the stars
and a satellite spun for a year and a day then perished
in the lies of jobs and finances,
predictable as the setting sun and its swelling.

I am the future that cannot live
for the wolf who swallowed up my toes
died with them in an icy cave,
my withered heart forgot to beat in a reliquary
and the great white bear will no longer be my surgeon.
So I lie and pray for all I need;
skin, hair, scalp, fingers, dismantling slowly
as photons in the sun
or daily blessings of the moon,
that someone, sometime, will hear my message.

Wolf, Wildwood Tarot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Picture from the The Wildwood Tarot, courtesy of artist Will Worthington

Winter King

you take me back to what is raw,
glacial plains of horror,
the obnoxious beauty of it all

to beyond the ice age
when millennia ago we met
when the universe drew breath,

when the binding song coalesced.
You came as cold wind
and your inspiration was death.

You are the muse that moves the forest,
the ice that strips the hills,
the hunt that runs without flesh or bone

by the force of its boreal will.
Your voice is the chill that keeps me alive,
the poem that sparkles when all else dies.

When frost rimes my window I cannot forget
you were there at my beginning
and will greet me again at the end.