The Cloud Seeders: Part One

My latest post for Gods & Radicals: The first part of an essay exploring the roots of the coercive technology of cloud seeding and its war upon the sky gods. This focuses on the destruction of ancient animistic and polytheistic cultures in Britain and Europe.

GODS & RADICALS

“The shooting of aerosols into the skies with hail cannons or dropping them from planes like bombs provides a disturbing image of war with the sky gods that runs contrary to the pagan principle of respectful relationship.”

From Lorna Smithers

Clouds over Penwortham Sept 2018

To you alone it is given to know the gods
And spirits of the sky, or perhaps not at all

Lucan

I. The Seeding of the Skies

Cloud seeding is a magical art worked by the land, the sea, the sky, the gods and spirits, humans too.

Clouds form when water vapour condenses on cloud seeds – tiny particles of dust. This happens when the land is heated by the sun, when air is forced to rise over hills and mountains, at weather fronts, and over rainforests and peat bogs where water evaporates from leaves and mosses seeding clouds. When the air cools and the tiny droplets of…

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A Black Forked Toad

Llyffan du gaflaw
cant ewin arnaw

A black forked toad:
a hundred claws upon him
The Battle of the Trees

As dusk darkens the skies
a black forked toad will rise

from his underworld throne
beneath a cold dark stone,

slow, ponderous, alone,
napes filled with poison,

his long and roving tongue
seeking souls old and young.

His hundred trailing claws
with shrieks like owls will score

the black and tarmaced roads
that killed a hundred toads –

green, brown, grey, mottled, black,
males riding piggy-back

in a sacred parade
plodding to pools to mate.

He will trawl the cracked roads
where cars crash and explode,

movement drawing the lick
of his lips before the flick

of that forked tongue lashes
whip-like, savage, catches

the fleeing souls. No-one
will escape his mouth – run

hide, stand, fight, parry, miss.
One gulp they will be his.

When falls the last swallow
toothless he will swallow

everything that moves.

A Black Forked Toad Med II

Gatherer of Souls: Introduction and Pre-Sales

Not made of air at all, but of ghost – the substance of quintillions of quintillions of generations of souls blended into one immense translucency – souls of people who thought in ways never resembling our ways
Lafcadio Hearn

Gatherer of Souls FC Med

I met him on the tear-drenched edgelands between madness and reason, dreaming and waking, life and death. Gwyn ap Nudd opened the doors of Annwn and called me to ride with him into the mists through the war-torn centuries to recover his forgotten mythos.

On the day of our meeting I knew he was far older than the character in the medieval tales who appears as a huntsman and psychopomp gathering the souls of dead warriors and is said to contain the fury of the spirits of Annwn within his person.

I felt like I’d met him before, had always known him, since time’s beginning…

It was this soul-deep knowing that led me to devote myself to him as my patron god and to my becoming his awenydd, ‘person inspired’.

Since then I’ve been journeying with Gwyn into his myths, learning the stories of other Inspired Ones who have served him, whose lives he has touched, whose souls he has gathered.

Peeling away the golden patina of the Christian scribes I have laid bare the atrocities Arthur and his men committed against the people of Annwn in order to overturn a worldview fundamental to our souls.

I have mourned Gwyn’s forgetting in the Old North, as the Brythonic kingdoms fell and his stories were borne away to Wales, and perceived his absence and our disconnection from Annwn as a time of great soul-loss.

I have flown with the few who remembered him between sky and air.

With eyes wide with wonder I have witnessed Gwyn’s return at the dawning of the Anthropocene to gather our souls back to him.

This book provides a record of my journey. It dismantles Arthurian mythology and is an invocation of a mythos ancient and new, offering reconnection with Annwn and inspiration to lead us into the next world.

Gwyn ap Nudd
Great God who is in our souls
and in whom we are gathered
I offer it to you.

*

I am beginning the pre-sales for Gatherer of Souls today so readers can receive a copy in time for Gwyn’s Feast, Saturday 29th September, which is the official publication date. Anyone who buys a copy in the next fortnight will receive a free prayer to Gwyn, which can be read at his feast. The book is now available HERE.

A Speckled Crested Snake

Neidyr vreith gribawc:
cant eneit trwy bechawt
a boenir yn y cnawt.’

A speckled crested snake:
a hundred souls, on account of (their) sin,
are tortured in its flesh.’
The Battle of the Trees

A speckled crested snake
rises, falls, slips, like heartache
through ashes in the wake

of worlds that rise and fall.
Handless, legless, she crawls
writhed by agonised calls

of a hundred doomed souls
that hang like birdsong – whole
legions swallowed in halls

where the live can’t follow
where they’re pierced by sorrows –
sins lined in endless rows.

They drown in her venom
which sears, abrades, strips them
of skin, flesh, bone, wisdom

of pain making them one
with her: scaled, speckled. None
escapes as she writhes on.

She seeks a hundred more.
Feeds, grows, fattens, on war.
No-one can stop her maw

devouring what we’ve left.
No spear can bring her death.
No word can end her breath.

We’ll be inside her soon.

A Speckled Crested Snake Large
‘A speckled crested snake / rises, falls, slips like heartache / through ashes in the wake / of worlds that rise and fall.’

Caer Nefenhyr

I was in the Fort of Nefenhyr:
herbage and trees were attacking.
Poets were singing;
soldiers were attacking.’
The Battle of the Trees

The trees are still. Frozen. Still stained with blood thigh-deep. It trickles down trunks, drips from boughs. Mighty Oak is soaked in it and whomping Willow and Alder, who marched at the fore as Brân clashed his spear on his shield and Lleu, strong-handed, radiant, rode in the branches like an Eagle.

Blood is dripping from heart-shaped Ivy. Honeysuckle cannot shake off her tendrils. Clover is drowned. Bramble is, of course, in his element, and Blackthorn is bloodily pretty. Birch regrets putting on his armour, now speckled white and red like a hound, he is kneeling like a sorrowful knight.

Raspberry, who did not put on his defensive palisade, lies broken and bereft of his blood-red fruits. Vine the destroyer is destroyed, Pear the oppressor oppressed, Bracken the pillager pillaged. Heather, no longer purple but red, regrets being enchanted into the army. Cherry’s commotion is silenced.

Pine, in the place of honour, downed his needles and wept. Dogwood, bull of battle, hangs his head. In the woodland beyond Caer Nefenhyr it rains nothing but blood and the cry of a lapwing ever circles.

Souls of soldiers and poets flit between the trees like birds fighting over blood-red berries like harpies. They have gazes like the fragile doe who wanders leaving bloody footprints between worlds.

A sagging snakeskin is strung up, stretched out in the trees like an afterbirth, emptied of a hundred souls.

Amidst the alders is a bloody pool. In it float the bones of a toad and his hundred claws. In the centre is the green and glowing toadstone from his head which, like a crown, symbolised his majesty.

Beyond the woodland, on a hill, like a cairn or totem, are piled the hundred heads of a great-scaled beast. The roof of his tongue and his napes are empty of battalions yet cries still echo from the hollows.

Atop the heads, like a flag of victory, is Gwydion’s staff with Eagle feathers fluttering in the wind.

In the Woodlands Beyond Caer Nefenhyr it Rains Nothing but Blood
‘In the woodland beyond Caer Nefenhyr it rains nothing but blood’

 

The Ghost of Myrddin Wyllt

Mountain ghosts come to me
here in Aber Caraf
A Fugitive Poem of Myrddin in his Grave

He haunts me. He who speaks from his grave at Aber Caraf with other wyllon mynydd, ‘mountain ghosts’ – Myrddin Wyllt.

He entered my life when he broke from a scene we both despise. In Stobo Kirk, in a stained glass window, he kneels before Kentigern, begging for the sacrament, as The Life of St Kentigern claims.

368px-Merlin_and_St_Kentigern,_Stobo_Kirk

“This isn’t true!” the gnosis struck me like shattering glass as Myrddin leapt free in an explosion of splinters; ethereal blue, red, green. The bishop fell in pieces with his chalice and crozier. The light swept in. Not just sunlight but that otherlight, the unendurable brightness that Myrddin gazed upon after the Battle of Arfderydd, which made him gwyllt, ‘wild’, ‘mad’. The light of truth. The ‘White/Clear Light’ of Vindonnus, Vindos, Gwyn ap Nudd, Lord of Annwn.

It illuminated Myrddin in all his naked glory, leafy-haired, bony-limbed, spry and supple as a sapling even in his old age. It glinted in the scintillae of his pupils, declaring him wildman, madman, prophet, awenydd: one who speaks the Awen from the tangled heart of the forest, from the wind-swept mountains where ghosts scream, from the deep wells of Annwn.

The stories of this wild Myrddin have been smothered beneath the fusty robes of Merlin. The popular wizard, who is frequently depicted as an advisor to King Arthur in film and television, was created by Geoffrey of Monmouth in The History of the Kings of Britain (1136) and The Life of Merlin (1150) from the lives of two very different men.

Merlin Ambrosius was based on the Romano-British war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus. He acted as advisor to Vortigern and helped Uther Pendragon to father Arthur by magically disguising him as Gorlois, the husband of Igraine, so he could sleep with her.

Merlin Caledonensis was based on Myrddin Wyllt: a northern British warrior who became gwyllt after the Battle of Arfderydd in 573 and retreated to Celyddon (the Caledonian forest) where he learnt the arts of poetry and prophesy and used them to warn against future wars. The two Merlins became conflated.

In Robert de Boron’s Merlin (1190-1200), Merlin became Uther Pendragon’s advisor and responsible for Arthur’s fosterage, his pulling the sword from the stone, and building the Round Table. The ‘Mage Merlin’ appears as Arthur’s advisor and as a guide to the grail quest in Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur (1485). His later depictions draw upon these associations.

The conflation of the two Merlins and the downplaying of Myrddin Wyllt’s stories is deeply problematic. Firstly Myrddin lived after Arthur making their association impossible. Secondly Myrddin would never have supported the warmongering of Arthur and his ‘knights’.

Yet he has been subsumed within the Arthurian tradition and its vile strain of Christian militarism, which brought about the slaying of the dragons, giants, and witches of ancient Britain, then the Anglo-Saxons, then ‘the infidels’ who fell in the Crusades, leading to our War on Terror.

He rages against his identification with Merlin: a political advisor to the warlords of Britain who supports going to war over chemical weapons that don’t exist and approves arms sales to countries using our weapons in attacks that breach international humanitarian law.

He calls to me, a fellow awenydd, to shatter the illusion of his complicity in Arthurian imperialism with the otherlight of Annwn from our god, Gwyn ap Nudd. Here I share his story.

Myrddin grew up amongst the warband of Gwenddolau, the last Pagan warlord of the Old North. He was fierce in those days, blood thirsty, callous, with a love of gold and strong mead. Warring in nothing but the golden torque gifted him by Gwenddolau, his battle-madness was legendary. He piled up corpses for Gwenddolau’s two sea-eagles to strip their flesh.

View from Liddel Strength
Caer Gwenddolau (present-day Liddel Strength)

A great change came over Myrddin after the Battle of Arfderydd. This was fought between the armies of Gwenddolau and Rhydderch, who was married to Gwenddydd, Myrddin’s twin sister. Rhydderch had allied with a number of Gwenddolau’s kinsmen.

Gwenddolau was slaughtered. Aggrieved by the death of his lord Myrddin was consumed by such a battle rage that he killed his niece and nephew, the son and daughter of Gwenddydd and Rhydderch, who were fighting on Rhydderch’s side.

After the battle Myrddin was near-blinded by an unendurable brightness illuminating the carnage. By it he recognised the pale faces of his sister’s offspring who he had hacked apart. Martial battalions filled the sky. To his horror he realised they were the victims he had slaughtered gathered in the form of a cold and angry god staring at him with countless dead eyes.

One of those spirits swept down and tore Myrddin out of himself. With a howl of terror and pain that became a whimper and squeak he leapt and fluttered up like a bird-puppet on a string. He was tossed on the winds of Annwn, on a merlin’s wings, to the forest of Celyddon where he shivered in the branches of an apple tree.

That image of Gwyn ap Nudd containing all the dead who he had killed was indelibly impressed on his mind like an irremovable afterimage from staring foolishly at the sun.

Myrddin does not remember the days when he flitted from tree to tree, a lost soul, birdlike, unable to feel or think or see. He remembers some of his slow return to himself, to chill recumbent flesh, relearning the contours of his body and its need to eat and drink, sights, sounds.

Blog 6. Coille Coire Chuilc
A last remnant of Celyddon at Coille Coire Chuilc

The birds of the forest guided him to tasty berries, the squirrels to hazelnuts, and a happy little piglet to roots and grubs and the most exquisite truffles. When the bleak northern winter brought snow to his hips and icicles to his hair a white-haired wolf taught him the secrets of endurance.

Words came last. Stuttering, stammering, then in a sudden stream. With them the wells of the past opened. Every memory flooded back to him and he poured them out to his apple tree and little pig in a poetry that was only stemmed when each wound had bled, was cauterised, could heal.

Most terrible were his outpourings of guilt and desire for death; his attempts to drown and leaps from trees. Gwyn ap Nudd would not take him. Instead he showed him black holes in the fabric of reality from which the otherlight of Annwn streamed in illuminating future battles.

Myrddin knew then that he must give his suffering a purpose by using his prophetic abilities to warn against those devastating wars. Knowing the influence of Kentigern he took himself to the stone above Molendinar Burn, where the bishop spoke his sermons, to share his prophecies.

Kentigern did not listen. Preoccupied with teaching the word of the one true God he had little time for the words of a wildman naked as a new born rabbit and rambunctious as a rutting stag. Yet the truth of Myrddin’s words pierced some of Kentigern’s followers like antlers. The otherlight in his pine-green eyes terrified and enticed them and some began to believe him.

When Myrddin came to Kentigern to prophesy his death the bishop did not think he could die thrice: by being stoned, pierced by a stake, and drowning. He thought the impossibility of this prediction coming true would put an end to his peoples’ belief in the madman’s prophecies.

Myrddin died as predicted. Kentigern constructed the story of him begging for the sacrament to prove his power over him and his uncanny prophecies, which he claimed were no match for the word of God.

Afterward Myrddin haunted Kentigern with the furore of a soul unable to live out its entelechy because more powerful forces have got in its way.

The poetry of a lonely voice was not enough to stop the rise of Christian militarism seeded by Arthur which dominates Britain to this day. Yet Myrddin opened in many people the portals through which the otherlight comes in, illuminating the horrors Merlin’s illusions cannot conceal.

Myrddin walks amongst us opening doors and haunting us with the countless eyes of the dead until we cannot bear to be complicit with the world of Arthur and the wizard Merlin anymore.

Breaking every window, every text, every screen, he tears us out of ourselves and takes us back to the forest.

The ghost of Myrddin Wyllt sets us free.

*First published in Pagan Dawn, 204, August 2017

SOURCES

Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, (Penguin Classic, 1973)
Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Life of Merlin, (Forgotten Books, 2008)
Meirion Pennar (transl.), The Black Book of Carmarthen, (Llanerch Enterprises, 1989)
Neil Thomas, ‘The Celtic Wild Man Tradition and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini: Madness or Contemptus Mundi?’, Arthuriana, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 2000)
Nikolai Tolstoy, The Quest for Merlin, (Sceptre, 1985)
Robert de Boron, Merlin and the Grail: Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Perceval (DS Brewer, 2008)
Thomas Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur, (Cassel, 2003)
Tim Clarkson, Scotland’s Merlin, (Berlinn, 2016)
William F. Skene, The Four Ancient Books of Wales, (Forgotten Books 2007)

The Forest at the Back of the World

Leaning Yew

Yng nghysgod yr ywen wyrol
saif y goedwig yng nghefn y byd.

In the shadow of the leaning yew
stands the forest at the back of the world.

***

Easeful
easeful the forest.

Easeful
easeful its mansions perfected.

Where we grow
where we grow
where we grow
and decay no longer.

Easeful
easeful the forest.

***

Fairy Lane August 2018

Do you remember walking or riding through a forest
down a path that never ends with sunlight dappling the shade
and crunchy leaves and woodland winds
and a feeling of infinite freedom?

Do you remember sleeping beneath the boughs
on summer nights or watching the passage of the stars
whilst the blackbirds continued to sing past midnight
into the early hours never ceasing at dawn?

Do you remember the feeling of unease,
as if someone was trying to shake you awake from a dream,
turning back over, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming on?
Does it trouble you that these memories are not your own?

***

Easeful
easeful the forest.

Easeful
easeful its mansions perfected.

Where we grow
where we grow
where we grow
and decay no longer.

Easeful
easeful the forest.

***

Branches Fairy Lane

In the perfection of memory they walk
through the infinite houses
room for everyone

the clatter of factories forgotten
the feuds between families and gangs
the arguments of politicians.

In the perfection of memory they walk
through the infinite houses
room for everyone

the hours behind glass and bars forgotten
free as gods or ghosts drifting
like pollen or birdsong.

In the perfection of memory they walk
through the infinite houses
room for everyone

until the butterfly on the shoulder
or the lizard emerging from the mouth
calls them to move on.

***

Easeful
easeful the forest.

Easeful
easeful its mansions perfected.

Where we grow
where we grow
where we grow
and decay no longer.

Easeful
easeful the forest.

***

Yng nghysgod yr ywen wyrol
saif y goedwig yng nghefn y byd.

In the shadow of the leaning yew
stands the forest at the back of the world.

Leaning Yew

***

*The song repeated three times is based on lines from ‘The Birdsong of the Wayreth Forest’ by poet Michael Williams in the Dragonlance series, ‘Easeful the forest, easeful its mansions perfected / Where we grow and decay no longer, our trees ever green.’
**With thanks to Greg Hill for the Welsh translations.