Tinne / The Ingot

by Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

Tinne, whose name means "ingot," is all about technical skill and mastery; it invokes Brighid, the smith, in its way. Its initial line is a quote commonly attributed to the Anglo-Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

In dreams begin responsibilities,
the poet hammers, the blows echoing
through the damp halls of a benighted past.

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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: Leborcham Lies to Conchobar

Leborcham Lies to Conchobar

by Jenne Micale

Cracks in the mud - geograph.org.uk - 1271501

"Cracks in the Mud" - Ian Paterson [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Her face -- a riverbed
in high summer, webbed with
grief that cracks as mudflats,
and cattails of hair hang

ragged and gold, yet shot
with tarnish. Skin is bark
sloughing on the hard ground
strained by a drought of joy.

The very image of
the Cailleach, blight's white crone --
spring's bud blasted by
the hard wind of regret!

Leave her to her bleak home
in the leaf litter, man --
a warrior should have
a beauty like sunrise.

Such I tell you, old friend.
with my Druid tongue, I give
the unaccustomed lie
to king stag in his hall.

And why? For the twigs in
my crane bag have always
their alphabet of
truth, although twisted, bent

as winter's brow, as my
own hag hand. But here -- here
is what I do not say,
what I deny you, king:

That love's laughter lights her
hair, her green eye, her bird
of a soul -- firing her
brand, a star in the dark

as his arms, circling, sweep
her from the grass's green bond --
a whirl of air and sun,
desire, dream and sunrise.

No hardship can chip it --
no grief can cage a soul
fledged to freedom in the
blue with its mate soaring.

But see -- the words I twist
do not lie so much, king.
They are but a vision
if she had stayed with you.


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.

Music by Kwannon
(Jenne Micale)

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Excerpt – Cattle Raids – 1

EXCERPT From Keltria Journal - Issue #42

Book of the Valley: Story One -- “Cattle Raids”

— Caillean ap Gwynedd

Tales are woven of love and sorrow, of adventure and magic, a little truth and a little laughter. Great are the deeds done and many of them true, and many more which grow in the telling, and who now may say which is which? Listen, Cymry, and I will tell you tales from the Book of the Valley, tales of the first great Cattle Raid....

Photo of Ewes Lookat at Camera by Lisa Jarvis [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ewes looking at Camera

Long had the day stretched, and how long exactly is difficult to kin for time spent in the Valley passes not as time passes elsewhere in the world. Fleet had been the warriors and cunning the battles, and many the cattle won and lost and won again. More than cattle alone were traded that day, and upon that hinge will the door of this tale swing shortly. Twilight at last called the Celts to their Tribe fire, there to let the sweat dry from their bodies and the heat to cool from their weapons, and to watch the shadows wage timeless war of their own with the sunlight, winning night with the knowledge that the battle would be lost or won again come morning.

Logs thrown on the past night's embers startled sparks into the darkening skies like fiery bats loosed in hunt for lightning bugs, and the Cymry eagerly settled into their accustomed places to partake of the evening's entertainment. For it is truly spoken that no Celt loves aught so much as a well-crafted story, and so it is told in days past Aonghus Bleidd ap Fainne was beat about the ears by his wife for composing a lusty song celebrating their lovemaking ere the latest lovemaking was quite complete. Any road, the listeners in place and the míd horns full to brimming, the first of the tellers of tales rose to stand in the fire's light.

Iarwain this was, he who it is told was visited by one of the Lords of the far north who traveled from those storm gray lands on a task which is quite a tale in its own right, and who brought rain and thunder to the Valley one summer's afternoon (and other things as well....). And so the first tale was told of the Sun God's love for the Dark Lady, and how the very laws of the Universe were altered for one evening only so that the two (who travel each in hir own...

[Continued in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick - Issue #42.]

Keltria Journal #42 - Storytelling

Find out more on MagCloud)

Keltria Journal: Sat-Navs and Seanchchaís

EXCERPT: Sat-Navs and Seanchchaís

Finding your way through stories and landscapes

— by Isolde Carmody and Chris Thompson
The Story Archaeologists

Ireland has an international reputation as a nation of writers and storytellers, and it forms a large part of our national identity.  Is this an empty statement of patriotic pride, an outmoded stereotype or a deeply engrained thread of Irish culture and consciousness?  We, the Story Archaeologists, would argue for the last of these options.

From contemporary literature to ancient tradition, the Irish stories are embedded in the Irish landscape.  They are, in a very real way, written into the land itself, and generations of storytellers have read and retold those stories with minute local detail.  When we refer back to descriptions of the types of learning expected of the professional poets, the fili,1 we encounter the term dindshenchas.  The literal meaning of this term is “history” (senchas) of “prominent places” (dind), and it is hard to find a pre-existing English term to convey the concept.  There is a considerable body of explicitly dindshenchas texts, such as The Metrical Dindshenchas edited and translated by E. Gwynn,2 the “Bodleian Dindshenchas” and the “Prose Tales of the Rennes Dindshenchas.”3

However, many tales and poems, from both literary (written) and oral sources, have strong dindshenchas elements to them.  To identify a dindshenchas episode, one need only see whether it answers the questions which St. Patrick repeatedly asks of Oisín and Cailte in the Acallamh na Senórach, “The Colloquy of the Ancients”:4 What is this place called; how did it get that name?

It seems clear that these stories have their origin in a pre-literate oral tradition, although that is, by necessity, unprovable.  We can only build a case for their oral origins through analogy with other cultures.  They have particular resonance with the indigenous Australian stories of the Dream Time, which tell of the shaping of the land and the landscape’s meaning to those who inhabit it.  Some of these stories are demonstrably ancient, with one story from the Queensland area describing a lake which, it has recently been discovered, dried up about 35,000 years ago.5  Unfortunately, we have not yet found such an unequivocally  ancient story from Ireland, but we can postulate and listen to the stories themselves.

What we do have is a written tradition dating back to the 7th century, with later manuscripts containing sagas, poems and legal texts whose language places their literary origin as early as the 8th century.6  Many sagas placed in the mythological cycle, such as Cath Maige Tuired, “The Battle of Moytura”,7 and the Ulster Cycle, such as Táin Bó Cuailgne, “The Cattle Raid of Cooley”8, have many passages in Old Irish (7th - 9th centuries CE).  This includes one of the rémscéla, “pre-stories,” to the Táin Echtrae Nerai, “The Adventures of Nera,”9 which we discuss below.

Continued...

[This excerpt is from a five-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #42.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria until the next issue of the Journal is published via the Members Home page.  It is available to the public in both electronic and print form via Mag Cloud.]

 

Keltria Journal – In the House of No Stories

EXCERPT: In the House of No Stories:

Finding the tales of my ancestors

by Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

In the elementary school classroom, the teacher pushed primary-color tacks onto the map of the world, one for each of our ancestors. Specks of plastic dotted the usual places: Italy, Ireland, sometimes Africa. Our assignment, she said: Find out where your family is from for a book report and, of course, the ceremony that was thumbtacks-on-the-map.

On the way home, my next door neighbor glowed and crowed of her European mutt heritage: English and Danish and French, and whatever else she remembered to say that day. She chanted the names of her line and recounted her family's history as I kicked leaves on the sidewalk. The neighborhood used to be her family's farm, even though it had since been reduced to one green and white farmhouse in disrepair.

At home, I turned to my parents, who shifted their feet and turned to busy themselves with some mundane task: “Where do I put my thumbtacks on the map?”

Continued...

[This excerpt is from a three-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #42.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge and in print form via Mag Cloud.]


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Were They Warriors?

by Steward of the Wood

Photo of Steward of the Wood at the Lia Fail

Steward of the Wood

War has been a factor of the human existence for tens of thousands of years.  Our Celtic ancestors reveled in war among themselves and with others and the Bards revered warriors like Cúchuláinn and Finn mac Cumhaill in tales.  Have you ever wondered if your ancestors were soldiers or supported armies?  Common touch points in the USA are the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War.  Entire organizations, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, have developed around this interest in our ancestors.

Learning whether an ancestor served during a war used to be quite tedious, but recently has become much easier. Increasingly, documents about military involvement of past wars have become available online or at least streamlined through federal, state, and local processes.

My grandfather served in World War I and my father and uncles served in World War II. I always wondered if my ancestors also fought in the Civil War and Revolutionary War. Growing up in the state of Tennessee in the U.S. where sympathies were very mixed between the Union and the Confederacy, I also wondered for which side my ancestors fought. Were they arrayed on both sides? In addition, since my ancestors originated from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany, I was not certain whether they fought for the American Republic or the English during the American Revolutionary War.

Like many Americans, rumors and stories abounded within my family as to whether ancestors fought; and if so, for whom they fought. As I embarked on my now-consuming ancestry quest a few years ago, I decided to investigate the issue of whether they were warriors or not.

National Archives Building Washington DC

Military records are available in the U.S. through a variety of sources such as the National Archives, books of lists of muster records, and on-line resources. Given these various resources, my first move was to sort through my family trees to develop a candidate list with men between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five for the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. Given that these wars occurred on U.S. soil, I assumed that it was "all hands on deck"; or in other words, every abled-bodied man (and many women) served in some capacity. This age range at least held most of the best candidates. Then the search began.

Sources of information range from free, such as books available from a library or a historical society, to “for pay,” such as www.ancestry.com. As you can imagine, the free sources require more work but can be effective. In addition, the U.S. National Archives are a great source of military records. My personal favorite source is www.ancestry.com. On their web site, I can search military records and have been able to identify seven possible ancestors who served in the American Civil War. To no surprise, given that Tennessee was viewed as a “border state,” most of my ancestors from the western part of the state were Confederate soldiers while those in the eastern part of the state were Union soldiers. It was literally true that the war divided families.

Men with common names are the hardest to prove; and when I looked up several of my ancestors, I found many soldiers with the same name. To solve one case when I found two likely candidates, I ordered the service records of each. To order, go to www.archives.gov . At the bottom of the home page, select “I want to: Get my military record.” This will take you to another page where you select “Older (pre-WWI) Service Records,” which is listed on the left side of the page. Then choose “How to order older military service or Pension Records” and you have the choice of ordering online or printing the form and mailing it. The cost of each of my requests was $25. From the two soldiers who I checked, I was able to determine which one was my ancestor by where he enlisted. It was so interesting to see copies of the actual pay stubs and to follow him across the South. He was wounded and spent time in a hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; then he was a prisoner of war and ended up in Baltimore, Maryland. It is fascinating.

Daughters of the American Revolution Washington DC

Similar records exist for the U.S. Revolutionary War through books and the U.S. Archives. The records of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are a fabulous resource and are searchable. Records from the DAR are especially useful because: 1) their requirements for proof are strong, hence the records tend to be reliable and 2) they include descendants of the soldier, so several generations are listed. My grandmother, aunt, and cousin were members and they did the hard work to prove our ancestry. Through various searches, I have identified ten ancestors who served in the war and most of them have proven records in the DAR. Interestingly in one case, both husband and wife occur as veterans. The wife “furnished supplies.” This may seem trivial now but I am certain that it could have meant her imprisonment or death if caught. She must have had the Celtic warrior woman’s genes…go Mórrígan! To date, all my ancestors who I have found were soldiers for the U.S. rather than the British.

These are but a few examples of military actions, which may have involved our ancestors. As mentioned earlier, my grandfather, father, and uncles were all veterans, and I have their service records. Despite whether we are supportive of war or not, our ancestors made their choices and those choices are part of whom they are. As we seek to know them, it is also important to know if they were warriors. If this becomes a source of interest and pride, then there are organizations such as the DAR or Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) that you can join to pursue those interests. Keep up the quest.

Ádh mór ort!

A Light in the Darkness

A Light in the Darkness

by Eíbhlean

Photo of Secretary Eibhlean

Secretary Eibhlean

Darkness.. The Void… The Abyss..The Absence of Light… For many of us whose personal and community spirituality encompasses the use of magickal practice as part of our worship – there is a “Light” time of the year and a “Dark” time of the year.  Whether your path walk celebrates this time as running from Samhain to Beltane, Imbolc to Lughnasadh or anywhere in between – if your particular practice includes acknowledging the duality aspect of existence – you will be observing a Dark period of energy work.

Dealing with Darkness can evoke all manner of concerns.  The unseen, deeper currents of the vast vibrating energetic sea that we all swim in can pull and tug at places within our own personal “Inner-scape” that trigger various levels of intensity in our inherent “fight or flight” impulses.  Many feel that is a black mirror into which they do not wish to peer.  Moreover, many really should not – if their personalities are particularly fragile or otherwise hyper-sensitively wired.  Nevertheless, with a grounded and reverent approach – this can be the time of truly embracing our own individual Great Work.

It is my belief that magick is not some historical relic that can be harnessed into a “one size fits all” practice.  To me, magick is a living essence and our diversity in how we each practice it shows its myriad beautiful faces.  Birthed in the unknown antiquity of the universe, magick reflects change and evolution.  While maintaining its birthright, magick adapts to the nuances of mundane time, place, person, and purpose.

Masculine or Feminine, Lunar or Underworld, Dark Hunter or Veiled Crone - whatever faces or aspects you are most familiar and comfortable with – the Dark Time encompasses and goes beyond them all.  Who would willingly choose to face, embrace, and pull in the lessons from our less than admirable aspects?  Who wants to stand – open and completely vulnerable – and allow the very tangible pain of having our outmoded definition of our selves be torn down and reborn newer, stronger and, paradoxically for this time of year, “lighter”?  In the path that our collective walks, it is part of our responsibility as a Druid.

It takes no small amount of courage and an ability to accept that even with the best of intentions – we all screw up - repeatedly.  We hurt people.  With what we think might be the most casual of actions or words – we sometimes unintentionally rend the very fabric of another person’s personal perspective of reality.  When we choose to face and step through the portals of painful experiences and potentially the past life baggage that we all carry – what we emerge as impacts everyone around us.  As we grow, evolve and expand we touch something in each person who interacts with us and a spark is planted that may <or may not> begin to reach out.  It is a reaffirmation of our connection and it is based on how we choose to engage ourselves in our Lives.  Most of us hold that we are – in essence – light.  It is an expression of the balance of our reality that our greatest life/light work comes from our dreams in the dark.

- Eíbhlean of GryphonSong

Edge of November

Edge of November

by Karl Schlotterbeck

[Archdruid Karl provides inspiration in a poem/song called “The Edge of November.”  There is an on-line version of the music at http://www.keltria.org/Sounds/The_Edge_of_November.mp3 where Karl provides both voice and accompaniment (guitar).] 

He’s things to do in his work-a-day world,
Entranced by computer screens.
Flat images show him another flat scene
But they are not what they seem.
So he says good night to his co-workers there -
For a moment he actually cares;

Then off he drives in his fashion machine.
He’s got places to go and be seen.
He makes his way home on the crowded flat road
Absorbed in his thoughts and dreams
Till he comes to his house and parks his car
And hears the whispering leaves say:

Chorus

Everything’s alive
And dressed in its disguise;
There’s light within the dark
And masks that hide the eyes.
Each one with a tale to tell:
Our friends and kin beyond the veil.

But he’s things to do and he turns away
And walks to his house alone.
Unlocks the door and checks his phone
Lights the pumpkin on the sill
He turns on the light to invite them all in
As something stirs within.

The children come, he shares their joy
His worries they all die.
He sees the shining light in their eyes
Behind the shadowy masks.
As he turns to the flickering light in the glass
The voices come and ask: Isn’t. . .

Chorus

{Bridge Spoken}

As the rays of the rising moon
Penetrate his lonely gloom
He surrenders to the voiceless choir
And once more feels that spirit’s fire.

He went next morning to his work-a-day world
On the first day of November.
He hummed a strange uncanny tune
And decided to remember:
He has friends in the fire and a light in the dark
And a sister in the Moon.

Chorus

[Ed note:  An audio of this song is available here.]

-------------


Books by Karl Schlotterbeck

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