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.

The Power and Pitfalls of Mythologies

Photo by Ulchaban

Photo by Ulchaban

Mythologies – recognized and not recognized – are powerful forces in all societies. They help tell us who we think we are and our place in the world, and how to relate to those within and outside our official circles. They inspire acts of heroism and terrorism, conquest and resistance to conquest. They give people hope and reason to live, ways to navigate our world, and a relationship with the Divine (or an image thereof). They are also used in the subjugation of conquered peoples to erase unwanted ideas or troublesome competing mythologies and languages.

Celts had mythologies that celebrated a direct connection with the land and the ruler’s responsibility toward that land. If the ruler was unfit, the land suffered.

The power of mythology is not limited to history or religious expression. Countries carry their own (often white-washed) mythologies, and their leaders use mythologies (via propaganda) to present a desirable image of themselves. We see negative mythologies created about the character and identity of others. Often we see an illusory image created by the opponents purporting to know the motivation and some secret agenda of the other. As a psychologist, it is painfully obvious that how much we are asked to make judgments on is based on little more than rumor, innuendo, accusation and a contrived image. Truth is an unwelcome guest at this table.

06-14-07-staugustine-281Of course, mythologies are not always consistent and will provide contradictory models for us. But those contradictions, I submit, simply show the complexity of human nature and the human condition.

Speaking of the human condition, our memories are often the mythology we use to explain who we are and how we came to be this way. We have constructed a mythological identity for ourselves, attributing influence to others, to ideas, to lessons, successes and failures.

The test of any mythology – religious, personal or secular – is whether it helps us navigate our world and allows us to draw inspiration from it. If not, it is just a social belief system; for genuine mythologies are alive, and enliven those who can embody them!

For Keltrians, do our myths live in us, inspire us, educate us? Do they help us relate to one another, to the Spirits of Nature, to the Ancestors, to the Divine? How personal is our relationship with any of the divine figures of our pantheon?

I invite us all to examine how we might – each in our individual way – engage with and celebrate our myths. We can re-read the stories, see where they come alive in us, how they speak to us and give us a glimpse into the source of wisdom and inspiration. We can celebrate our holidays and rites, and honor the characters that live in the mythologies and, perhaps, discover them already alive inside of us.

Karl is the ArchDruid Emeritus and current President of the Henge of Keltria.

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.

 

From the President: A Happy Samhain to All!

Karl SchlotterbeckHow amusingly coincidental that our American elections come in the Halloween season when people dress in strange costumes of personas that they think will gain them treats from us and, in a curious twist, attempt to dress their opponents in mythologies which they themselves are often hiding. It requires a lot of effort to keep the Cup of Truth in my head from shattering but, rather than giving up, turning away or numbing out, I try to be an adult and sort through wasted words for some glimmer of truth that will help me understand what is going on beneath the surface, and what the potential might be for our long-term evolution. I hold out hope that a truth might grow in our consciousness that is worthy of the ancestors, respectful of nature and her spirits, and would be honorable in the face of all we hold as sacred.

Of course, we all know that this version of the darkening year derives from Celtic celebrations at the beginning of the first month of winter – Samhain. As Samhain approaches, we in the Northern Hemisphere are faced with that recurring theme of letting go and going into the dark. Although we might like to ignore the fact that death is always near, awareness of the changes of seasons in our part of the world (Northern Hemisphere temperate zone) shows us different kinds of transitions. Some only look like death, as life draws in and down, only to rise and blossom once more in the spring. Those that do die as individuals leave seed behind that becomes the new generation of their kind. It seems to me that there is also a kind of death in those who fight the darkening of this season and try to stave off their anxiety by pretending nothing is changing and use artificial light to continue on. Indeed, there is light in the dark, but it doesn’t come from strings of manufactured lights or from metaphors of death and resurrection (even if reflecting a reality), but from the light we each carry within ourselves and the capacity to receive inspiration (imbas). Imbas cannot enter if we close against the dark for, when we open to what is, we can recognize the greater truth and embrace our destiny.

May all who read these words find in their hearts the best seeds of their nature and dreams that they can nurture through the dark months and into the new seasons. But first, I raise a glass to the Dark and its embrace.

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Photo by Cypresseyes

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.

Support the Henge: Shop with the Amazon Affiliate Program

Did you know that you can support the Henge of Keltria without it costing a cent? It is really easy! Just use our direct Amazon link throughout the Yule-tide season.

To help the Henge, go to http://tinyurl.com/gnhchas .  That will bring you to an Amazon page having searched for Keltria in the Books section. Once there, you can go anywhere on Amazon and the Henge will receive a small percentage of your purchases. You don’t pay any more and the Henge benefits.

Next Bookmark the page.  Then use that bookmark whenever you want to purchase on Amazon.

Better yet, to the left of the web address box is a little green lock. Drag it and drop it to your bookmarks bar and use it there. (the bookmarks bar is right under the URL entry space.) Then you can then use the Amazon button you just created to go to Amazon and while there the Henge will benefit from anything you purchase.

Easy-pea-zy.

While you are there, if you don’t already have a copy, order the Book of Keltria: Druidism for the 21st Century.

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A Legacy of Druids: Book review by Ulchabhán

Normally I am not drawn to reading collections of interviews - mainly because it is not easy to provide a cohesive narrative and I tend to get lost in a lot of the back and forth views. However, Ellen Evert Hopman’s book was a very pleasant surprise and an engaging and informative read.

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Each conversation should be taken in the context of the time of each individual’s practice as well as the particular connection of their varied developed practices. I liked that Ms. Hopman put an obvious amount of thought into trying to organize the insights shared into approachable topics of interest.

While it is apparent from the well-researched variety of individuals who have been active in the Druid community over the decades that there is a great deal of diversity in what really constitutes “Druidism,” as a practicing Druid I felt a sense of underlying cohesiveness. As I read through each discussion, I enjoyed once again reviewing my own developed thoughts on what brought me on this journey. Each interview had its own flavor and presented a constantly morphing intellectual and spiritual case for all the threads that have woven our experiences into the truly rich and evolving Path I still walk with Joy and Gratitude.

This book should be considered part of any library touching on the fire, music and connection of being a Druid. This is one I will return to many times to catch the layers of meaning more fully.

Walk with Wisdom, Strength and Gratitude

Ulchabhán

GryphonSong Clan

Henge of Keltria

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, HHSubmissions@keltria.org or dulcimergoddess@keltria.org.

From the Groves: Harvesting gratitude in Gryphonsong Clan

For the second Wheel/Feast harvest this year, we chose to focus on gratitude. Our Clan has seen many transitions in this past year and it has given us moments of joy, sadness and opportunities to pause and to reflect on the lessons we each are being presented in different ways.

Within and throughout the many shifts of our respective Paths, the one consistent and solid theme we kept returning to was "gratitude for community (of blood, heart and spirit)". In being reminded of our triad of existence, each of us in various ways was brought to a place where, no matter how heavily our experiences were weighing on us at the time, there was always this light – like the star in the Hermit’s lamp – that spoke of hope and heart home.

So we gathered at the balance point before the dark time of the year and spoke our gratitude. As we speak to our Matron and Patrons each time we come together:

“…Let us hear you with open and grateful Hearts – Let us grow and serve, always reaching for the light…”

May your harvests bring laughter and joy to your lives,

GryphonSong Clan

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