Sunday, 19 June 2011
The Druids Oath;
We swear by Peace and Love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand,
Mark, Oh Spirit, and hear us now, confirming this our sacred vow!
The mighty wheel of the year has turned upon us once more,
And I give thanks for the bountiful harvest.
All hail the Sun, whose golden rays have bestowed magic
upon the growing fruits of our lands.
All hail the Sun, He has ripened our fields
And blessed us by grain without number.
This joyous time is the first harvest of Lammas!
So All hail the great Sun And He will come again.
And now all about us as days do shorten,
We stand ready for the dark time ahead.
With corn stored in abundance against the cold darkness of winter
We face the bleak hardship without any dread.
So mote it be!
Lammas c. The Bard Of Ely, 2011. Poems Narrated by The Bard of Ely.
Welsh Translation kindly provided by Gareth Owen
Rheolwr y Theatr(Manager) Theatr y Pafiliwn/Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl.
Grateful thanks to The Bard of Ely for use of his song I AM (feat Ed Drury).
Lammas, also called Lughnasadh (Loo-Nah-Sah) in commemoration of The Celtic Sun God Lugh, occurs at the beginning of the harvest season, in the Northern Hemisphere 1st August, in the Southern February 1st.
The word Lammas itself derives from the Old English celebration of loaf mass, harvesting the first grains which by nightfall made the first loaves of the season. As the grain is cut, some is stored to create new life in the spring. To harvest before Lammas could only be because the previous year's harvest had run out, a serious problem in agricultural communities, hence thanks for a harvest on time.
Lugh, also known as the patron of Bards and Magicians, came to be associated with grain in Celtic mythology because Tailtiu his foster mother died from exhaustion after clearing the great forest so the people could cultivate the lands. Before she died she told them that her son Lugh, the Sun King, would pour his spirit into the grain to sustain them over the long fruitless winters. People honor Her gift and the crops with a day of thanksgiving for the harvest, a harvest festival.
Grain has been associated by many cultures with the mystery of death and rebirth for centuries, celebrated by deities such as the Sumerian grain god Tammuz.
In English folklore, the folksong representing John Barleycorn as the crop of barley, corresponds to the same cyclic nature of planting, growing, harvesting, death and rebirth.
Sir James Frazer cites this tale of John Barleycorn In The Golden Bough as proof that there was a Pagan cult in England that worshiped a god of vegetation, who was then sacrificed to bring fertility to the fields.
It is tempting to see in this tradition echoes of human sacrifice as portrayed in The Wickerman film (1973), but that is not really what this time is about.
Whilst there was a Celtic ritual of dressing the last sheaf of corn to be harvested in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman, it was believed that the Sun 's spirit was trapped in the grain and needed to be set free by fire and so the effigy was burned. This tradition is thought by many to have been the origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices, along with Julius Caesar's politically motivated accounts.
In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called 'the Maiden', and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.
In other regions a corn dolly is made of plaited straw from this sheaf, carried to a place of honor at the celebrations and kept until the following spring for good luck.
The Bard of Ely is an eco-warrior, poet, author, Arthurian Druid, master of herblore, singer-songwriter, techno-folk fusion pioneer, actor and performer originally from Cardiff, Wales.
In medieval Gaelic and Welsh society a Bard was a professional poet, employed to compose eulogies for his Lord. In the Viking courts of Scandinavia and Iceland their counterparts were called Skalds.
The Bardic poets were often accorded nearly divine rank and had a freedom of movement to cross political borders denied even Kings, because the magic of their poems and chants was believed to hold the power to topple Gods or conjure whole nations out of thin air.
Just as Druidic mythology points to knowledge as the key to self awareness, which is symbolized by certain holy-places of great importance, these mythic 'places' may be both inaccessible but also not inaccessible at the same time, it requires a leap of faith to find them and that leap of faith is expressed in the Bard's poetic proclamation.
In the tradition of Welsh Bards such as Aneirin and Taliesin, The Bard of Ely shares his skills as Principal Bard of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Druidic Order (Stonehenge) and Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri (Avebury), as well as across the wide reaching area of his creative and spiritual mission.
In 2002 and 03, The Bard of Ely was both compere for the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury Festival and played there, as well as appearing at the Green Man Festival. He has also collaborated with Crum (keyboard for Hawkwind) who has remixed a number of The Bard's songs. The Bard of Ely's albums are available from DMMG Records and at iTunes.
As a writer He has authored Herbs of the Northern Shaman and written widely, including for Permaculture and Feed Your Brain magazines, and collaborated with CJ Stone for Prediction and the NFOP magazine. You can find about more about The Bard of Ely at his Blog.
Bright Blessings to you ~
Saturday, 18 June 2011
Five Star Book Review;
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles.
Remarkable amount of research has gone into this tome.
At times the book seems an almost random and endless list of unrelated items linked only by the authors suppositions that we cannot draw any meaningful connections between the varied aspects and artifacts of antiquity, which whilst perhaps literally true, I found to be a perspective that neglected the implied spirit of the ancient religion(s) and that's his point, that he finds nothing is specifically implied by the evidence and that all subsequent conjecture is only deduced from incontrovertible evidence.
At other times the author seemed to hold an almost ambivalent attitude against the new Pagan's uptake and intermingling of the 'Old Religion(s)' but he does this with such good humor and charming acknowledgement of their own beautiful or innovative if not actually historically true basis that it would be hard to object to his observations.
For myself I would underline that the very evidence referred to does specifically portray that ancient religious traditions in the British Isles did draw from earlier traditions and by necessity did incorporate, or become subsumed by newer traditions that arrived on these shores, that something of the former always informed the latter across the ages and that this practice is still (or once again)flourishing in the modern uptake and reinvention of the Pagan sacred miscellany..
Certainly not a page turner unless you are an avid archaeologist, but still highly recommended as a wonderful source of the progression of evidence over the centuries and how this may have some bearing on the current Pagan 'Renaissance'.