Poem: Equinox

The blue has returned, a harbinger

of the next generation of robins,

the bold hydrangeas on the neighbor's bush

 

but that's all in the planning just now.

There is white snow and shreds of white cloud

the meltwater rushing over gravel

 

and everywhere a song: the wild laugh

of the woodpecker, the sigh of lovelorn

chickadees, the blackbirds' electric trill

Crocus by Jenne Micale

Name Poem: An exercise for the poetically-minded

I recently finished Lunaea Weatherstone's Tending Brigid's Flame, a truly wonderful book about my matron Goddess. I can't recommend it enough, truly.

One of the many explorations and exercises Weatherstone recommends is the creation of a name-poem, similar in spirit to the Song of Amergin or the Song of Taliesin. The poem captures your essence of self -- your attributes, perhaps the turning-points in your life if you choose to include them -- in imagery that speaks to your spirit.

Weatherstone doesn't go into the purpose of the poem, specifically, but I imagine it can be used to give strength when you are weary and courage when you are afraid. It sings the soul back home, and changes when you feel that you need to change it -- like your life.

My name-poem follows. What is yours?

I am the fox that escapes every hound

the speckled veery on its forest perch

the tune of a song threaded by birds

 

I am the ink that scribes the words of truth

the artisan of the air, beading words

and music into a vast creation

 

I was born of blossoms in the sun's heat

the much-cherished daughter of the heavens

who bears a name of ill-repute and boldness

 

I am a warrior of the wind

who lands no blows but sends the opponent

into the diamond net of gravity

 

I am the pale phantom and the noose

whose borrowed name asks: “Who is like god?”

I am the namer and the describer.

 

I am the walker in dreams, the changer

behind the veil of sleep, the traveler

in my coracle of harp string and drum

 

I am a fisher-cat for fierceness

and an owl for grace. I am the great leaves

of borage, the blue stars of its bloom

 

I am an oak tree, a green stone, a stoat,

a spear, the strength of the arm and the foot

I am a priestess of flame and delight

 

I hold the dream-spear of the Red Woman

I wield the sword of the Fisher King

I serve at the altars of all the Gods

the_arts_poetry

"Poetry", part of the series The Arts, by Alphonse Mucha (1898) via Wikimedia Commons

Ogham Poem: Sail, the Willow

Willow tree in spring, England, by Sb2s3 via Wikimedia Commons

Willow tree in spring, England, by Sb2s3 via Wikimedia Commons

This is the latest in my series of Ogham explorations through poetry. For interpretations, I rely on Erynn Rowan Laurie's Weaving Word Wisdom, which -- in my view -- is the best book on Ogham currently available. For her interpretations, she relies on traditional poetic phrases associated with the feda; these are what I draw on in my poetry. Sail, of course, means willow. I use the Latin salce (pronounced sul-chay) to mimic Verdi's "The Willow Song."

 

Your long hair swinging, you sway over

the mere to peer in its murky depths,

the bees singing the song of your name

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

and the branches underneath the dun

forge the faces of the dead, beloved

and gone, humming with the bees their song

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Music is the delight of the dead.

Fleshless skulls sing from under the skree

send tendrils to the waters below

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

The heavy scent of your garlands mask

the compost of misplaced desires, sins

and crimes. Even maggots make their place

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Make a garland of your hair, a harp

strung of its gold that tells always truth

the muddy pond steals back from the sky

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Garland dead lovers and living seers --

The moon pulling the tide to ebb

unveiling the dead under the foam

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Nine times nine, a chorus of witches

hums with the bees and the mighty dead

under that ghost light, that lamp of time

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Let your voice rise with the time and tide,

rush like waters under the tree,

lave the unclean, unshroud the hidden

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Your long hair swinging over the hole

that mirrors the sky, you sing with the bees

"Music is the delight of the dead"

O salce, salce, salce, O --

 

Poem: Red Woman (for the Morrigan)

How you tremble at the Red Woman!
You fear the guest at the door who breaks
the arbitrary rules that bind you

the technicalities that keep you safe.
You never know how she will appear:
eel, gray wolf, red-eared cow, crow, the wind,

your fresh-faced daughter holding a blade
under her smile, your mother, the lady
at the deli counter with her knives --

You never know what she'll do, that one,
even if you pretend. She is not yours
in any shape, and oh how you fear!

By Artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 - 1951). Cropped and colours adjusted by CorbieVreccan. Via Wikimedia Commons

By Artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 - 1951). Cropped and colours adjusted by CorbieVreccan. Via Wikimedia Commons

Feed the fish: Drop your hazelnuts into the Well of Wisdom! We're always looking for submissions to the Keltria blog: poetry, photos, essays, articles, recipes, random musings related to the Henge and more! Share your imbas with your fellow Keltrians. Contact HH-Editor@keltria.org or dulcimergoddess@keltria.org.

Poem: An Mhórríghan

Do you think you can scry with that glass ball?
Put it aside. It's a symbol only.
Simply close your eyes and slip through the veil

Do I surprise you, without my fearsome face?
You challenge yourself, face your fears boldly.
With a brave smile, you pull the thorns barehanded.

I breathe in life, exhale death. Carrion crow,
serpent, cow, crone, a woman soaked with blood --
I accept your praise and give you blessings.

Morrigan by André Koehne via Wikimedia Commons

Morrigan by André Koehne via Wikimedia Commons

Feed the fish: Drop your hazelnuts into the Well of Wisdom! We're always looking for submissions to the Keltria blog: poetry, photos, essays, articles, recipes, random musings related to the Henge and more! Share your imbas with your fellow Keltrians. Contact HH-Editor@keltria.org or dulcimergoddess@keltria.org.

Ogham Poem: H’Uath

'Huath' - Capel Lligwy, Anglesey. Photo by Kris Williams. Shared via Flickr.

'Huath' - Capel Lligwy, Anglesey. Photo by Kris Williams. Shared via Flickr.

This is the latest in my series of Ogham explorations through poetry. For interpretations, I rely on Erynn Rowan Laurie's Weaving Word Wisdom, which -- in my view -- is the best book on Ogham currently available. For her interpretations, she relies on traditional poetic phrases associated with the feda; these are what I draw on in my poetry. H'Uath means "terror" -- an appropriate meditative focus around the Feast of Death.

H'Uath
The shine of the tooth, the hot breath lapping
your heel. You are the pale underbelly
exposed. No shelter will gird you now.

Not even clothes. There is nothing but stones
against your raw feet, nothing but the ink
of a moonless night spilled across your way.

Oh, do you think you can capture it here --
tame the wolves on the page, lasso shadow
into filigree of ink and poem?

This is no metaphor. Like that dream,
you jump the rail away from the monster
only to find the world unraveling

a threadbare carpet beneath you -- and you,
a bird naked with molt and no wings.
"Let the road rise up to meet you": a curse

as all blessings twist, forging their shackles.
The shine of the tooth -- the dog has turned wolf.
You are just meat in a human shape.

the wet paint before the jaws snap shut.
Your heart is the color of a bruise --
nothing but stones against your raw feet

Feed the fish: Drop your hazelnuts into the Well of Wisdom! We're always looking for submissions to the Keltria blog: poetry, photos, essays, articles, recipes, random musings related to the Henge and more! Share your imbas with your fellow Keltrians. Contact HH-Editor@keltria.org or dulcimergoddess@keltria.org.

Poem: Fearn – The Alder

This is one of my intermittent ogham poems, based on the interpretation of Erynn Rowan Laurie in her excellent work, Weaving Word Wisdom. Can you name the myth cycle interpreted below?

With the circling of palms, I guard it --
blade-sides together, a beating heart
the war dance of a band of brothers.
My back your shield, oh! My back your shield.

Can you run featherlight over grass
without stirring the blades? Can you pluck
the thorn from your foot without missing
a stride, each hair of your braid in place?

Can you dodge the speartip while buried
in dirt up to the waist? Can your tongue
sling fire and honey? Do omens call
you, brother? Do you shrug off their webs

for that greater binding? Do you run
with the pack? Do you have the soul of
a poet? A killer? Do you know
them to be one and the same, brother?

O Finn, I am lying on the grass.
My shield splintered, the tusk of the boar
the goad that drove the ox of my fate.
With the circling of palms, I guard it --

But each vow is its own undoing.
A drink from your hands will make it whole,
re-forge the ring of the oath. Fair words
and fair deeds, is that all we aspire?

My back your field, oh! My back your shield.
The hands curved into one heart, holding
the water, our unspoken love, grief.
You part your fingers, freeing the drops

to the foot of the alder. Each one
caught by the light in the act of falling,
dearer than diamonds, scattering wide
to feed the green, and my mouth still dry.

With the circling of palms, I guard it:
the vow of my own undoing.
A drink from your hands will make it whole.
Do you have the soul of a poet?

Diarmuid, illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell's Heroes of the Dawn (1914). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Diarmuid, illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell's Heroes of the Dawn (1914). Via Wikimedia Commons.

EXCERPT: Our Plow, It is Made of the White Quicken Tree

EXCERPT - Our Plow, It is Made of the White Quicken Tree:

An Interview with “Paganistani” Poet 
Steven Posch

by Johnny Deer

Introduction

Photo of Steven Posch

Steven Posch

I met with “Paganistani” poet and scholar Steven Posch in his Minneapolis home one blustery morning in early December 2012. As I've come to expect in polytheist cultural discourse, our conversation was far-ranging, but we kept returning to the concept of the Received Tradition, the inherited corpus of lore that functions as “scripture” for virtually all traditional religion.

Posch discussed the legendary Seven Hundred Sacred Songs of the Welsh and the similar body of songs, known humorously as the “Devil's Psalter,” that serves the same function among Old Style witches. “The old ways weren't just handed down informally by granny at the kitchen table,” he said, “the prime mode of lore transmission in oral cultures has always been through the passing down of songs and poetry.” The ingathering of this scattered corpus has been Posch's life work.

“Over the course of our 30+ years together, we have amassed almost 200 Yule carols, both old and new. What strikes me most about the Received Tradition is that this is no closed canon. We're adding good, new material all the time.”

He sang for me his most recent composition, a carol with a deeply archaic feel to it.

“My friend and colleague Bruner Soderberg once said to me 'I love things that look old and new at the same time,'” Posch told me. “That's our cultural touchstone, the aesthetic of this entire movement -- old and new at the same time.”

Interview

Johnny Deer: Steven, anyone that's ever heard a Christmas carol is familiar with the word “wassail,” but where does it come from and what does it mean?

Steven Posch: Isn't it interesting how holiday lore so often preserves the really ancient stuff? “Wassail” is the modern reflex of a 1500-year old Anglo-Saxon blessing: Wes hāl, literally “Be hale!” Haleness—the term rings pretty archaically on the ear these days—means physical health; to be “hale and hearty” is to be both physically and emotionally sound. It's part of a whole constellation of related words from the same Old Germanic root: heal, health, whole, hail (as in “hail and farewell”), even holy. That all these concepts are etymologically so closely related tells us a lot about how the ancestors thought. Every word is a story.
By medieval times, “wassail"....

Continued in Issue #43 of Keltria Journal.


Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue. Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

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Poetry: The Plowman’s Wassail

The Plowman’s Wassail

by Steven Posch

[Sung to the tune of Gloucester Wassail. -ed]

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany

Farmer plowing

So here's to the plow, boys, so sturdy and strong,
to plow a fine furrow and give us good corn;
our plow, it is made of the white quicken tree:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to the plowman and to his left stone,
to plow a fine furrow, the seed for to sow,
the seed for to sow till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to Old Blackie and to his right horn,
to plow a fine furrow and give us good corn,
to give us good corn till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to Red Jenkin and to his long tail,
to plow a fine furrow that never shall fail,
that never shall fail till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to the furrow so lovely to see,
as yielding an acre as ever shall be,
to yield us good corn till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to the seed and so lovely to sow,
so heavy and golden and goodly to grow,
so goodly to grow till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to the Sun and so goodly to shine,
to sprout the good seed, so fair and so fine,
so fair and so fine till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to the Rain and so goodly to fall,
to grow us good corn, the joy of us all,
the joy of us all till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

And here's to the Earth that makes us to thrive,
so broad and so bearing and goodly to give,
so goodly to give till it's lovely to see:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.

So here's to the plow, boys, so sturdy and strong,
to plow a fine furrow and give us good corn;
our plow, it is made of the white quicken tree:
with a jolly wassail we'll drink to thee.


Read Steven's Blog Posts


 Originally published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick

Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue. Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

Books & Music by Steven Posch

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