The Forge of Gofannon

Do you sense your maker, world?
Friedrich Nietzsche

My surname is Smithers. On and off I’ve been aware of the presence of a smith-god. The sound of hammer blows in the back of my mind. A vision of a forge at the fiery core of the world. The chisel-strokes of Nietzsche’s world-artist working in the Blakean moment between Thisworld and Annwn, beyond good and evil, where there is no past or future, but only the eternal of now creation. Making artefacts of great beauty, world-shattering technologies, weapons that are unconscionable, a dire world.

Over the past few years, as I have been working with the Brythonic mythos, Gofannon has been appearing in my stories forging important treasures – Caledfwlch (the sword of King Arthur), the Shield of Urien Rheged, the golden ring of Gwyn ap Nudd and the horse shoes for his horse.

The art of smithing is seen in most cultures as a magical process which literally transforms the world. It brought into being the Bronze Age and Iron Age and played a major role in the Industrial Revolution and Information Age. The smith is a central figure in many world myths. Yet, surprisingly little is known about Gofannon, our Brythonic smith god. This article summarises our knowledge from the Welsh myths and uses Irish parallels and modern gnosis to illuminate this ancient figure at his forge.

***

We know Gofannon is a smith-god as his name derives from the Middle Welsh gof ‘smith’. In Culhwch and Olwen his aid is required to set the plough used by his brother, Amaethon, the god of agriculture. This shows that, like the other children of Don, he was seen as skilled and as a culture god.

This is supported by lines in ‘The First Address of Taliesin’ where the legendary bard says:

I’ve been with skilful men,
with Math Hen, with Gofannon,
with Eufydd, with Elestron,
I’ve been party to privileges.
For a year I’ve been in Caer Gofannon.

In the Fourth Branch of The Mabinogion, Gofannon inexplicably kills his nephew, Dylan, the daughter of Arianrhod, who can swim ‘as well as the best fish in the sea’. This is named as one of ‘Three Unfortunate Blows’. Why he does so is never explained. However, we can go some distance to finding an explanation through a comparison with the story of Gofannon’s Irish cognate, Goibnu.

In the Lebor Gabála Érenn, Goibniu is the metalsmith of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Children of Dana. Like the children of Don possessing skills is intrinsic to their identity as culture gods. With Credne the silversmith and Luchta the carpenter Goibnu is one of Trí Dée Dána ‘three gods of art’. Goibniu is the half-brother of Brighid. Their mother is Dana and their fathers are Tuirbe Trágma and the Dagda.

Brighid has a son with the Formorian, Bres, called Ruadan. During the Second Battle of Moytura, which takes place between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the monstrous Formorians, Ruadan is sent by the Formorians to find out the secret of how the craftsmen of the Tuatha Dé Danann make their weapons.

Ruadan finds Goibniua at his forge crafting lance-heads with three blows of his hammer, Luchta cutting shafts with three blows of his axe, and Credne fixing the two parts together. After he reports back, Ruadan is sent by the Formorians to kill Goibniu.

Ruadan goes to the forge and asks Goibniu for a spear. Goibniu, unsuspecting, gives a spear to him. Ruadan thrusts it through Goibniu and, to his surprise, the smith-god plucks it out and hurls it at Ruadan, who is mortally wounded, and returns home to die. Brighid mourns Ruadan and this is the origin of keening.

One wonders whether a similar story lies behind Gofannon’s slaying of Dylan with Arianrhod replacing Brighid/Brigantia as his mother. It certainly seems to be no coincidence that Arianrhod’s second son, Lleu, is mortally wounded by Gronw, his rival for his wife, Blodeuedd, with a poisoned spear.

This spear is crafted by a smith (it does not say by who) when ‘people are at Mass on a Sunday’. This is suggestive of a pre-Christian forger working at a liminal time. Lleu then, in turn, strikes a mortal blow to Gronw with his spear. This exchange is not unlike that between Ruadan and Goibniu. That Gofannon is a forger of spears is backed up by lines from ‘The Dialogue of Myrddin and Taliesin’. The ‘seven spears of Gofannon’ are used at the devastating and futile Battle of Arfderydd.

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In support of the existence of an earlier variant of the story of Gofannon killing Brighid/Brigantia’s son I would like to mention the personal gnosis of Potia Pitchford – a modern devotee of both these deities.

Potia and I were (virtually) together in a guided meditation led by Gemma McGowan at a conference on Brighid earlier in the year. This involved meeting the goddess at a forge deep within the land. Potia had a powerful experience which involved not only Brighid but Gofannon. In her blog post ‘Marked by Gofannon’ Potia writes of Gofannon holding her whilst Brighid pulled from her ‘what was needed to be reworked’ and placed it back inside her in three parts – ‘one band for each of three cauldrons’. Finally Gofannon placed an inch-wide copper band on her upper arm. This led to her to her getting the armband created as an item of devotional jewellery by Runecast Copper.

Potia’s vision of Gofannon and Brighid/Brigantia working together at this forge in the core of the earth spoke deeply to me. I’m tempted to see Brighid/Brigantia (who is both a smith and a poet) and Gofannon as the forces of creativity and smithing that shape our world and its technologies for good and for ill. As I work I am aware of their presence in the words I type and the laptop I type them on.

If Gofannon and Brigid/Brigantia are co-forgers, then Gofannon’s slaying of her son, perhaps as the result of an attack, would certainly add a layer of tragedy and poignancy to their relationship.

*With thanks to Hannah Gibbs for the image ‘Blacksmith‘ on Unsplash.

Review: ‘Brigantia: Goddess of the North’ by Sheena McGrath

BrigantiaBrigantia: Goddess of the North is a short e-book (81 pages long) by Sheena McGrath. As far as I am aware it is the first book to focus on Brigantia as an individual northern British goddess; there are many books about Brigit which cover her relationship with Brigantia but none, until now, focusing on Brigantia alone.

Our information about Brigantia is limited to seven Romano-British inscriptions, one (or maybe two) statues and the writings of the Roman historian, Tacitus, who records the tribal name of the Brigantes ‘High Ones’ of whom Brigantia is believed to be the tutelary goddess. I live in Lancashire and have experienced Brigantia’s presence on the West Pennine Moors. I’ve researched her background but never investigated the context of her dedications. This is where Sheena’s work excels and provides an original contribution to scholarship on Brigantia.

One of the most fascinating things Sheena reveals is that several of the inscriptions and the famous statue from Birrens date to around the time the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus lived in Britain (208 – 211CE). His base was at Eboracum (York). The Severans played a central role in shaping the Roman cult of Brigantia.

This is evidenced not only by the dates but by Brigantia’s identification with Caelisti and pairing with Jupiter Dolichenus in one of the inscriptions. Septimus was of African origin. He and his wife brought their deities to Britain. One of them was Tanit, an African goddess who was venerated by the Romans as Dea Caelistis. Another was the Romano-Syrian Jupiter Dolichenus. This inscription results from Brigantia’s assimilation into the Imperial cult. The statue borrows attributes from Caelisti and Juno (Jupiter’s consort) as well as Minerva, Victory and Fortuna. Sheena also examines the political motivations behind the inscriptions pairing Brigantia with Victory.

In the later part of the book, Sheena discusses what can be conjectured about Brigantia’s role as the goddess of the Brigantes tribes. She focuses in particular on Tacitus’ account of the Roman invasion of Britain and the conflict between Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, and her husband, Venutius. One idea (unfamiliar to me) is that Cartimandua was an exile from south. This explains why she favoured peace with the Romans whereas her husband was hostile toward them. Another consideration is the possibility of a ‘special relationship’ between Cartimandua as Queen of the Brigantes and Brigantia as their sovereign goddess,

Brigantia provides a detailed and enticing examination of the context of Brigantia’s worship in ancient British and Romano-British culture. I’ve been learning about Brigantia for over five years and there were many facts I was unaware of and points I will be researching further. Sheena also provides an extensive bibliography. I would recommend this book as an excellent starting point for all polytheists wanting to learn about Brigantia from a scholarly perspective and to students of Celtic and Roman history and religion.

You can purchase a copy of Brigantia HERE.

*I reviewed this book as a PDF so cannot comment on how it looks or reads on an e-book reader.

The Forestalment of the Ice Age and the Awen of this year

Then the Ice Age came again and when it
retreated, even the shapes of the
hills and the names of the towns
in the valleys changed.’
Joseph Delaney

It’s Imbolc today and I’m struggling to emerge from winter. It feels like being pulled too early out of bed. Amidst the restlessness of wind and heavy rain we’ve only had one cold snap of still and ice. One flash of snow falling at night melting away the next day.

Just afterward I found out scientists had announced our entry into the Anthropocene: the ‘era of human driven climate change.’ One of the consequences is the forestalment of the next Ice Age. Although I don’t understand the charts and equations I can see human prevention of an Ice Age is an act of cosmic proportions.

Professor John Schellnhuber says ‘Humankind is a stronger force on Earth now than, you know, the orbital forces and all things like that. It is fascinating but also very scary!’ Scary indeed, especially for someone who venerates a god of winter and sees the fragile balance between winter and summer as analogous to the transitions between glacial and interglacial periods.

I’m not proud to be alive at the dawn of the Anthropocene; boiling a kettle, switching on a light, plugging into the web. As a part of my soul harks back to a cave fire and murals dancing on a wall I realise we haven’t changed much in our need for light and warmth and art.

But we have lost our awe and respect for the powers of winter: cold, darkness, sleep and death. Hunted to death the elk, aurochs and wolf. Ploughed up and built over the graves of our ancestors and lost the ability to commune with their ghosts.

The thought of a one-way ride into Endless Summer on the driverless train of the Anthropocene without direction from the ‘orbital forces’ we’ve dismissed or dispatched one by one terrifies me.

Yet today is Imbolc and I’m not on that train. I go hunting for flowers. I go hunting for gods.

There’s been none of that excitement of watching the first few green shoots break through cold ground. They’ve been here since mid-winter. Snowdrops and crocuses are flowering, celandines too, I even see green and generous leaves of lords and ladies. Pink and early cherry trees blossom on Avenham Park and blackthorns are already near enveloped in white.

 

Signs of Creiddylad’s departure from Annwn. Of Brigantia’s touch stirring the land into life.

Imbolc is a Gaelic festival dedicated to Brigid whilst in Wales Gwyl Ffraid ‘Brigit’s Feast’ is celebrated. In northern England I know her best as Brigantia: a fiery warrior-protectress of this land and its people; of the fire in the head and spark of poetry; of the fires of the forge; of mineral-rich springs.

Yesterday I partook in a lovely Imbolc celebration with the Oak and Feather grove singing ‘Welcome Bride’ whilst we blessed healing candles then making Bride’s Dolls from wheat which Lynda had collected from a crop circle in Avebury. There was also an Irish snake rite which I can’t fully divulge here… but there was laughter and the day brought us closer in devotion to Brigantia and the rising energy of the land.

Flowers of Awen are also pushing through the questionable evanescent dreaming of the internet. When I met Heron in Wales last year we spoke about developing a website dedicated to the path of the awenydd. Awen and Awenydd is now live and shares information on historical sources, bardic heritage and modern testimonies from contemporary awenyddion defining their paths and sharing encounters with deities and spirits of place.

Awen

Contributors include Gwilym Morus-Baird, Rhyd Wildermuth, Catriona McDonald and Elen Sentier. We’re open to submissions from awenyddion worldwide and through our forum hope to develop a space for conversation on spirit-work in the Brythonic tradition and the deeper mysteries of the bardic arts.

With Heron and web-manager Lee Davies and others I’ve also been helping develop the Dun Brython site to make it more attractive and accessible to newcomers to Brythonic polytheism. In contrast to Heathenry and Roman, Greek and Gaelic polytheisms there is little information about Brythonic polytheism and the Brythonic gods in print or on-line. We’re working to remedy that and are looking for contributions to the site and a new blog which will open in April.

I’m enjoying my role as editor of A Beautiful Resistance #2 and am excited about several of the pieces I’ve received and looking forward to more. My prose piece ‘Castle Hill: An Alternative Story’ was recently published in Pagan Planet which is edited by Nimue Brown who says:

‘This is a Moon Books community project, sharing the energy and inspiration of people who are making a difference at whatever level makes sense to them. This is a book of grass-roots energy, of walking your talk and the tales of people who are, by a vast array of means, engaged with being the change they wish to see in the world.’

Pagan Planet

The Awen is flowing. Whilst the internet plays an undeniable role in driving the Anthropocene it also brings people across the world together to dream, create and act in mutual support and re-establish bonds with the ‘orbital forces’.

I don’t know if the Anthropocene can be stopped but I believe we have more chance of slowing or redirecting it with the help of the gods and ancestors and the wisdom in our souls. Winter is not gone yet nor memories of the Ice Age crying out with increasing resonance in the Awen of this year.

Brigantia Stone

Brigantia Stone Earlier in January I dreamt the Oak and Feather Grove were holding a celebration on the West Pennine Moors around a sandstone monument carved with a goddess figure rooted in the earth drawing up its energy to combine with shining rays of sunshine. I knew this was a ‘Brigantia Stone.’

Today is the Gaelic festival of Imbolc, which is connected to the goddess Brighid or Bride. In Scottish mythology she is imprisoned in a mountain by the Cailleach throughout winter and escapes her prison in spring, bringing new growth and regeneration. In Wales she is known as Ffraid and this festival is Gwyl Ffraid.

Here in Northern England she is known as Brigantia. Her name is Brythonic and means ‘High One.’ She was the warrior goddess of the Brigantes tribe, whose tribal confederation dominated the North until the Roman Invasions. I associate Brigantia with high places, locally with the West Pennine Moors and in particular Great Hill.

Great Hill from Brindle

Great Hill viewed from Brindle

In contrast to Brighid, whose stories and roles as a poet, smith and healer are well documented, we know comparatively less about Brigantia. Seven inscriptions exist to her across Northern England and Southern Scotland. She is equated with Victory, and on a statue with Minerva in warrior form, holding a spear and a globe of Victory and wearing a Gorgon’s head.

In my experience, Brigantia is a goddess of the wild harshness of the high hills. A warrior for certain and a goddess of the all-consuming fire of the Awen, the hammer beat of creation and a forger of souls. She’s the first goddess I met. Because she’s a poet and we share a fiery irascible temperament I thought she would become my patroness.

I was wrong and the reason behind this was a difficult one to learn. I worked very closely with Brigantia for two years whilst completing a fantasy novel. It was about a fire magician who, in order to bring down capitalism, made a pact with fire elementals which resulted in his near destruction of the world and death in the flames by which he made his pact. With my anti-hero a part of me burnt and was consumed.

After completing the novel I realised it was too dark and incomprehensible to publish. I’d wasted two years, wasn’t cut out to be a fantasy writer and and I’d lost my trust in Brigantia.

The death of my novel left a void. And into it stepped my true god. Perhaps this was Brigantia’s plan. I needed to learn the dangers of working with the untrammelled Awen; fire in the head, pure imagining, without relation to this world or the realities of the Otherworld, to which Gwyn ap Nudd opened the gates.

Afterward I resented her. Because I’d sold my car and could no longer drive to the Pennines we also became physically distanced. In spite of this, looking down on my valley from the surrounding hills, in the fire of the Awen, she has continued to be a presence in my life. I still honour her as the warrior goddess of the North. But we rarely speak in person.

My dream of the Brigantia Stone came as a surprise, even though Brigantia is in many ways a patroness of the Oak and Feather grove. I experienced the calling to redraw the stone for our Imbolc celebration (which I’d sketched in my diary) in colour, as a Bardic contribution to the grove and for Brigantia as an offering on her festival day. It came out perfectly first time, so well I decided to make copies for each member of the grove.

Lynda has suggested we take a grove walk to find the stone on the West Pennine Moors. Whether it ‘really’ exists on the moors, or in their dreamscape, I’m not certain. However, I do know it is the time to acknowledge and accept Brigantia’s role and place in my life.

Brigantia Altar

Commemorating the Beginning of the First World War in Penwortham and Preston

On Monday the 4th of August, I attended two events commemorating the beginning of the First World War, one in my home town of Penwortham, and a second in the city of Preston. Both were completely different, highlighting the uniqueness of each place, yet bound by a common intention; remembering the soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War.

In Penwortham the Friends of Penwortham War Memorial hosted a formal Service of Remembrance at 11am. This was led by the custodian of the War Memorial, Ron Drakeford and supported by Harry Benson of the British Legion, who read the names of the fallen and Chris Nelson, vicar at St Mary’s Parish Church, who read the closing prayers and blessings. Jamie Edwards, a pupil at Priory Academy, played the Last Post and Reveille on a bugle found in the German trenches, donated by the Friends group.

Commemoration of WWI Penwortham 005 - CopyAt dusk, the Friends returned and lit seventy three candles for the soldiers on the Roll of Honour.

Penwortham War Memorial Candles 2 - Copy~

Preston hosted a Lights Out Event at the cenotaph on the Flag Market. Its basis was words spoken by Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary in August 1914 “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” At ten o’clock the streetlights in the centre of the city, on the Harris Museum, council buildings and all but one on the Town Hall were turned out. Members of the public were invited to switch out the lights in their houses and ignite a single candle as a symbol of remembrance.

Photo courtesy of Peter Dillon

Photo courtesy of Peter Dillon

The ceremony began, illuminated by a clear half moon with a procession from St John’s Minster, with the muffled church bells ringing in the distance. At this point I noticed the appearance of a single star, above the cenotaph. Following an introduction by Preston’s Mayor Coun Nick Promfret, members of the public dressed in white and black began a choreographed walk, carrying candles from behind the cenotaph to lay them in two rows at the front. There were 1956 in total to represent the soldiers who lost their lives in the war.

Photo Courtesy of Peter Dillon

Photo Courtesy of Peter Dillon

During the first part of the candle laying there were readings of poetry and letters by members of the public. I participated, having been asked to read ‘For the Fallen’ by Robert Laurence Biryon (1). At nightfall amidst the steady stream of candle bearers and growing fields of light, this was a powerful experience. Lines from the last two verses felt particularly resonant:

‘To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.’

After the readings I joined the candle bearers, carrying six of the candles as Father Timothy of St John’s Minster gave his speech and readings. Here he tackled the thorny issue that in spite of this war having ended, we are still seeing ongoing conflict across the world and ended with prayers for peace. The ceremony came to a close as the 1956th candle was brought to the fore.

Candle Fields - CopyPerhaps the profoundest thing was that afterward nobody seemed to want to leave. The cenotaph and candles provided a focal point for shared acknowledgement and remembrance. The overarching feeling was one of commonality and peace.

~

On a more personal level, I had never attended a remembrance service before, aside from as a Brownie. My reasons are numerous; I struggle to connect with formal ceremony and question the political and religious structures that continue to involve us in war.

Yet I feel I have reached a period in my life when I can no longer remain an outsider. If I am to truly get to know the spirit of my home town of Penwortham, and the city of Preston I need to be involved.

My main involvement with communities in Penwortham and Preston is as a poet. I’m also a Friends group leader, active member of UCLAN Pagan Society and do some Interfaith work with the Preston and Lancashire Faith Forums.

One of the things I found encouraging about the Lights Out Event was the prominent role given to poetry and letters, attesting to the power of language to express experiences and emotions that for us today are unimaginable. Much of the power of the readings came from the fact the authors had lived through the war. As readers we were tapping directly into their lives and times and offering the audience a glimpse of their perspectives.

However, one voice I thought was sadly missing was that of Robert Service, who was born in Preston and worked as a stretcher bearer and ambulance driver during the Great War. In 1916 he fell ill and during his convalescence wrote a poetry collection called The Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, where he depicts his experiences with ire and regret.

Admittedly, the most difficult aspect of the events for me was that they were predominantly Christian (I was pleased to see that at the Preston ceremony there was a reading from a member of the Sikh community). Perhaps this is fitting as during the period of the First World War most people would have lived and died believing in, or perhaps doubting the Christian God and Christian theology.

My personal beliefs are animistic and polytheistic. At the Preston event I experienced the presence of the Christian God yet had a closer intuition of the spirits of the city in the supporting flagstones and surrounding buildings. During my reading, where my vision was partially obscured by the light on the lectern I got the impression ancestral people accompanied the crowd. Conspicuous by their absence were the flocks of pigeons and gulls who had clearly gone to roost.

VictoryOn the cenotaph is a statue of Victory wearing a military style helmet and holding a pair of wreaths. Small, naked male figures clutch at her robes. My impression is that they are supplicants, souls returning from war and begging entry to the empty tomb. I actually find this image quite troubling. Not least because I believe in this instance Victory is a Romanised form of Brigantia, the warrior goddess of the North of Britain. In this troubling form, Brigantia was a central figure for me last night.

I also felt strongly the presence of my personal patron, Gwyn ap Nudd, who in pre-Christian times had the role of gathering and protecting the souls of the battle dead.

I imagine everybody experienced the ceremony differently, finding their own resonances in accordance with their beliefs. What struck me was the connection felt through the common bond we share with this land and its communities, both living and dead.

~

One of the problems raised by these events, spoken of eloquently by Mark Rosher and Angharad Lois at the Druid Network (2) is the irony that whilst the First World War should have ended all wars, terrible conflicts are continuing, in particular in Gaza.

I have to admit here to my lack of political know-how. To be honest I would define my political beliefs as vaguely green and mainly avoidant. I rarely engage in politics, aside from if forced at a very local level so my views are very basic.

I am deeply grateful to everybody who has fought so that Britain can exist in relative peace. I would love to see the day people all around the world can exist in similar conditions. Yet I also know the forces that drive war are complicated, not least because my gods are so intimately connected with it. Conflict has existed since there have been humans, and is certainly not only innate to our form of life. If there is ever to be a solution I think it can only come from a shared understanding of human nature within the context of the whole of nature and its deities, and through clear intent.

I feel that these remembrance events along with the research, documentaries and artworks accompanying them have all helped raise awareness of the causes and consequences of the First World War, thus contributing toward the goal of shared understanding. Where each individual’s duties lie in relation to all this; remembrance, education, art or action, only they can decide.

~

I’d like to end this article with a poem by Robert Service set on the night the Great War began, one hundred years ago.

The Call

(France, August first, 1914)

Far and near, high and clear,
Hark to the call of War!
Over the gorse and the golden dells,
Ringing and swinging of clamorous bells,
Praying and saying of wild farewells:
War! War! War!

High and low, all must go:
Hark to the shout of War!
Leave to the women the harvest yield;
Gird ye, men, for the sinister field;
A sabre instead of a scythe to wield:
War! Red War!

Rich and poor, lord and boor,
Hark to the blast of War!
Tinker and tailor and millionaire,
Actor in triumph and priest in prayer,
Comrades now in the hell out there,
Sweep to the fire of War!

Prince and page, sot and sage,
Hark to the roar of War!
Poet, professor and circus clown,
Chimney-sweeper and fop o’ the town,
Into the pot and be melted down:
Into the pot of War!

Women all, hear the call,
The pitiless call of War!
Look your last on your dearest ones,
Brothers and husbands, fathers, sons:
Swift they go to the ravenous guns,
The gluttonous guns of War.

Everywhere thrill the air
The maniac bells of War.
There will be little of sleeping to-night;
There will be wailing and weeping to-night;
Death’s red sickle is reaping to-night:
War! War! War!

Robert Service (1874 – 1958)

(1)http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/laurence-binyon-for-the-fallen.htm
(2)http://www.rosher.me.uk/homesite/?p=4051 http://incidentaldruidry.wordpress.com/

Awakening the North

Great Hill from Brindle

 

 

 

To Brigantia:

Goddess of the North
We survived another winter
Alive in your spirit,
Consuming hearth fire

Running searing inspiration
From springs on the moors,
Millstone grit in our bones,
Iron in our blood,

Harshness now tempered
With flowers white and soft
As poets work your soul forge
Awakening the North.

Host of the North

I.

Penwortham

 

 

 

 

 

The snow is silence to the shadow
of my listening. Its white penumbra
drifts like ashes from steel clouds.

It slows the sleeting lizard streets
to standstill, crusted cowl glinting
a glamour over the glowing towns.

The twisted trees lift trembling antennae,
tendrils grasping iron-clad dreams
strewn in frost across the skies.

Suburban lights like eyes shine brighter,
recalling the gleam of warrior souls
against the cloth of winter’s blight.

II.

Sky over Penwortham

 

 

 

 

 

The sky fragments to furious swords,
shattered shields and fractured wills.
Harsh the cheeks, death grey the mantle
of they who’ve known the torment of battle;
tribesmen, knights, a lone swordswoman,
cotton lords, weavers, a line of orphans,
a single mum and her decadent children
dashing in ice before my eyes.

Silence broken by winter winds
travailing from tower blocks, city cold
shivers its terraces, tucks itself in,
fearing the wrath of the frozen North.
Breath blasting from graves abandoned,
the background storm descries a portent:
Though Rheged is dead and Brigantia gone
their spirit and host, in the wind will live on.