Last Night

was the night
you were furthest
away from the world
like a distant asteroid
– like Pluto.

From now
you’re coming back
– your land of ice and darkness
will thaw and the mists will make it beautiful again.

From the coffin where you dream of nuclear winter
you will step into a new suit of armour.

Summer is a’coming to Annwn
and winter is already
on its way here.

This poem is based on my gnosis that whilst it is summer in Thisworld it is winter in the Otherworld. It is addressed to Gwyn ap Nudd, a Brythonic ruler of the Otherworld and Winter’s King, who is killed by his rival, Gwythyr ap Greidol, Summer’s King, on Calan Mai, and sleeps through the Summer.

After I received this poem in a vision this morning I looked up Pluto, a planet named after the Roman King of the Underworld and saw that, in Japanese its name is Meiōsei – ‘Star of the King of the Underworld’. I thought this was very beautiful and apt for the planet that rules my birth sign, Scorpio, much as Gwyn, my patron god, is the ruling force in my life.

I then returned to an essay by Brian Taylor called ‘Photographing the Underworld? A Note of NASA’s Pluto Fly-by’ which has had a big influence on me. Here he speaks of how the photographing of Pluto ‘ruler of occultation, and protector of the integrity of mystery’ may have been saved from being an act of ‘casual intrusion’ by the plutonium powered spaceship carrying the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh ‘discoverer of Pluto’ (as a kind of offering to the underworld gods?).

Brian also speaks of how he ‘traced the exteriorisation of Pluto in the history of the nuclear era, and found the planet’s signature etched into the geography of the discovery region, most notably in an extraordinary spatial co-incidence. Pluto was discovered in 1930 at the Percevall Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona. Ten years later Plutonium was manufactured at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, and five years after that the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity Test Site north of Alamagordo in New Mexico. Curiously these three sites fall in an almost perfect straight line, about a thousand miles long, that maps the connection between the planet and the nuclear project on to the land in the most unexpectedly graphic way.’

Coincidentally I have been returning to these themes, which I touched on in The Broken Cauldron, in the later sections of the new book I am writing, which explores more deeply the influence of the gods within the modern world and Gwyn’s connections with nuclear war and nuclear winter.

At the bottom of the essay I saw an old comment I left for Brian in 2015 mentioning a dream I had about Gwyn and nuclear winter, leading me to recall it. Brian notes that the spaceship made closest contact with Pluto on a dark moon and the moon was dark last night.

The Knell of Dark Matter

Hairy_Dark_Matter_Wikipedia_Commons

“Dark matter” – a whisper from a guide from another world.

I google it and find out that on the 7th of May the US Department of Energy approved $19 million for the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search at the SNOLAB facility in Ontario, which will be led by SLAC.

Scientists posit the existence of dark matter because the movements of galaxies cannot be explained in terms of visible matter alone. Measurements suggest 80 per cent of the universe is dark matter. Unfortunately dark matter has not yet been detected because it doesn’t emit light or energy.

According to a popular theory it is made up of weakly interacting particles (WIMPs) that ‘pass through regular matter like ghosts, but every so often may collide with an atom of regular matter, causing a reaction scientists can note’. Detecting this reaction is the aim of the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment.

SNOLAB’s laboratory, located 6,800 feet underground in an abandoned nickel mine, is the deepest in North America. This ensures it is shielded from unwanted background signals from cosmic radiation.

The apparatus will consist of four detector towers containing lattices of silicon and germanium crystals, which will vibrate if struck by a WIMP. To measure these tiny vibrations, these ‘atomic jiggles’, ‘the crystals need to be cooled to less than minus 459.6 degrees Fahrenheit – a fraction of a degree above absolute zero temperature.’ Absolute zero is the coldest matter can be. ‘Near this state any movement on the atomic level should be detectable.’ Therefore the towers will be placed in a cryogenic container called a SNOBOX. Hopefully a WIMP will ring one of the crystal detectors ‘like an atomic bell’ and leave its mysterious ‘fingerprint’. The experiment will begin in the 2020s.

My initial reaction was “how very Annuvian!” Way before science most ancient peoples have been aware of a invisible otherworld of ghost-like matter, a vast otherness that holds and shapes the visible. Within Brythonic tradition it is known as Annwn, ‘the Deep’, and later became Faerie. Frequently located underground, across water, in the starry heavens, it is a realm of ghosts, fay, chthonic gods usually visible and audible only to the eyes and ears of the soul, although the vibrations of their presence can sometimes be detected in the liminal and deep places of Thisworld.

So this quest is to capture a particle of Annwn, a particle of Faerie. No surprises it must take place so deep underground in conditions of ultracold. This brings to mind the sleep of Pen Annwn, Winter’s King, Gwyn ap Nudd, from Calan Mai (1st or 8th May) throughout the summer. His place of rest is Caer Ochren, the castle of cold stone. It is colder than ice. Near absolute zero. At this temperature the restless spirits of Annwn who threaten to destroy Thisworld are also more restful. Could one be caught in frozen slowness, ring that bell, a knelling from Faerie, give the scientists proof?

Following these contemplations I checked out the astrology. Several years ago, Brian Taylor, who sadly passed in February this year, made me aware of the influence of Pluto over events concerning the underworld and atomic science. In 1985, in the aftermath of Chernobyl, he began an astrological essay tracing ‘the exteriorisation of Pluto in the history of the nuclear era’ which he completed in 1995.

Brian also mapped the synchronicities surrounding the photographing of Pluto on the 14th of July 2015. These included the culmination of the deal between the West and Iran over the Iranian nuclear programme which, perhaps not so coincidentally, Trump recently withdrew the US from this week.

In ‘Shock and Awe: The Astrology of May 2018’ Anna Applegate says ‘on Monday, May 7, in the wee hours of the morning (3:52 CDT), Mercury in Aries forms a square to Underworld Lord Pluto in Capricorn.’ This was the day of the press release for the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment.

Anna continues, ‘The Taurus Sun will also make a trine to transformative Pluto; it occurs on Friday, May 11 at 6:10 p.m.’ ‘After Mercury enters the sign of Taurus on the Sunday 13th, the square to Pluto will transform into a more “benevolent” trine, as Taurus and Capricorn are sister signs.’

Although I have little knowledge of astrology I have long been aware of the influence of Pluto in my life. I’m a Scorpio, which is ruled by Pluto. According to Brian, who read my birth chart, I ‘have Pluto rising’, ‘angular Pluto is a powerful placement’ and ‘the moon’s nodes exactly square Pluto’. Sun and Mercury are also in Scorpio. Brian also charted transits to my natal Pluto for the day I met Gwyn.

For me, Gwyn is the Brythonic equivalent of Pluto, ruler of winter and the underworld, and the primary guiding force in my life. The synchronicities between the transits of Pluto, the inaugration of the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment deep underground with its cryogenic SNOBOX, and the sleep of Gwyn and his spirits in the castle of cold stone feel important. Is this a portent? A warning about something that will happen if the bell is rung and the knell of dark matter begins to echo from Annwn?

full_Church_Bell_(Pixabay_Public_Domain)

SOURCES

Anna Applegate, ‘Shock and Awe: The Astrology of May 2018’, Amor et Mortem, 1st May 2015
Brian Taylor, ‘Photographing the Underworld? A Note on NASA’s Pluto Fly-By’, Animist Jottings, 18th July 2015
Dana Dovey, ‘What is dark matter? Scientists may be on cusp of detecting of finally detecting elusive material’, Newsweek, 10th May 2015
Jay Bennett, ‘The Search for Dark Matter Continues, More Than a Mile Underground’, Popular Mechanics, 9th May 2015
Manuel Gnida, ‘Construction Begins on One of the World’s Most Sensitive Dark Matter Experiments’, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 7th May 2015

Kingfisher in Flight

For Brian Taylor

An unexpected kingfisher.

I might not have been there
in the hide if it wasn’t for you,
your teachings on the agency of birds,
the transformations of souls,
auspices of sapphire-blue.

The sad news was unexpected too.

It took me back to our brief meetings:
how you always wore binoculars,
showed me my first goosander.

I thought I’d never see a kingfisher
let alone a halcyon wonder so close
whistling from branch to branch.

You’d have called it ‘a showing’.

I e-mailed you to share the news.

Another e-mail flash from the blue
jolts me back to your careful records
on alcedo atthis and ‘the best views’.

You wrote of death with such beauty
citing Ovid’s resurrection of Alcyone:

a kingfisher in flight – ‘a departing light’.

Kingfisher in Flight


Brian Taylor, a dedicated animist and the author of Animist Jottings, passed away on the 13th of February. I was particularly moved by Brian’s writings on kingfishers and admired his advocation of an animism deeply rooted in the natural world that had room for magical encounters and the otherworldly too. Although we only met in person a few times (most memorably when he came to Penwortham and pointed out a goosander on the Ribble and when we visited Bridestones and marvelled at the expressions of the rocks and the flying ants) we shared many fruitful conversations in the blogosphere and through e-mail. Brian was one of the wisest, most caring, thoughtful, and articulate people I have ever met. He will be missed.

Picture with Brian Taylor Bridestones 5th September 2014

Brian Taylor and myself at Bridestones, September 5th, 2014