Endings and Beginnings

“There is, so I believe, in the essence of everything, something that we cannot call learning. There is, my friend, only a knowledge – that is everywhere.” -Hermann Hesse

Last Entry…
For this year. Although I celebrate the New Year as I celebrate the Solstice, I move along with the conventions for convenience sake. This being the last entry for 2010, it is also the 920th entry of Turfing! I am very excited about this coming year, and thankful for what has occurred over the last. (more of this below) This entry, “Endings and Beginnings” focuses around Hermann Hesse. Hesse has not come up before on Turfing, although his was an early influence on my thinking. He is right up there with Alan Watts, and why I haven’t covered him before is a bit of a mystery to me. Just the same, a bit of attention on his works at this point seems right.

I hope you enjoy it! Have a Happy and a Safe New Year!

On the Menu:
Endings and Beginnings…
Herman Hesse Quotes
Othmar Schoeck – Summernight Op.58 for string orchestra 1/2
The Poet – by Hermann Hesse
Othmar Schoeck – Summernight Op.58 for string orchestra 2/2
Poetry – Hermann Hesse
Othmar Schoeck – Elegie op. 36 (Schluss/End/Fin)

Endings and Beginnings…

I sit here awaiting the coffee to finish brewing on this last day of the Gregorian calendar for 2010. The sky is sunny, some clouds, and we are just about at freezing temperature wise. I was outside early after an up and down night, and it is a beautiful day here in the Northwest. Perfect in so many ways.

I have been looking at comments from around the web and email this morning, and it seems most people are ready to let the past year go. As we stumble towards Hogmanay, I have to say, it was the worse of years, and the best of years IMPOV. I will not go into great details as it was a personal journey but the year started out poorly, and has ended up fairly well for us. I have regained much of what I lost psychically and health wise, and there is satisfaction in that.

I have watched the struggles of many of my friends and family and have felt despair with what they are feeling. You cannot discount what people are going through, and it seems to be a heap of misery for many with the way things are going. I want to say that people should not take on too much personal blame, as this is a shared condition, with many causes, and with the tired litany of social lies, er memes, bouncing around ones grey matter, it takes a bit to parse out. What we are seeing is a transformation, that has been swaying across political fields, religious and spiritual aspirations, and collapsing economic models.

One of the trends that I saw across many spectrum’s was a heady dose of Nolstalgia for what apparently we “had” before. The changes that are raining down are not in themselves bad, good or otherwise. They just are. Change is the constant, and it is picking up steam. We have an acceleration going on, and we need to loosen up a bit and let go of the illusion of control if we can. This does not mean breaking off engagement, but the opposite. For too long people have sat back and let the tides of commerce and government decide for them, abandoning the human community to the hierarchal manipulations.

We are seeing new shapes emerging out of the mist, and because they are new, for some this will give them pause. I urge though that we step together, and to start engaging with the future instead of gazing over our shoulders at what has been. Yes, nostalgia has its moments, but now is so much more important.

We are emerging into an open field of possibilities. Yes, bring what is good from the past, but let the old slip away if it no longer serves. Turn off the TV, calm the babble of the talking heads down, and engage with your friends, family and community. Here is what is real. Use social media but don’t drown in it. We need our attentions on the task and Joys that are beckoning to us if we but recognize what they are.

We have been given the gift of Chaos in these times. This is something not to refuse, because chaos churns the universe and throws up infinite possibilities in its effervescent dance. We are between the sun and the atom on a pivotal needle point with multitudes of beings dancing the greatest of dances, so much hinges on these moments. Between Tiamat’s and Abzû’s divine mating we find new Gods emerging, new points of reference and an infinite host of possibilities.

Shouldn’t we let something new and wonderful emerge from the threshing floor? Shouldn’t we take part willingly in this dance?

Bright Blessings on these Endings and Beginnings…

The roots of Hogmanay perhaps reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse, as well as incorporating customs from the Gaelic New Year’s celebration of Samhain. In Rome, winter solstice evolved into the ancient celebration of Saturnalia, a great winter festival, where people celebrated completely free of restraint and inhibition. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which later contributed to the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the “Daft Days” as they were sometimes called in Scotland. The winter festival went underground with the Protestant Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged near the end of the 17th century.

The Burning Of The Long Ship At The Edinburgh Hogmanay Festival…

An old custom in the Highlands, which has survived to a small extent and seen some degree of revival, is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining (Scots for ‘protecting, blessing’) of the household and livestock. This blessing is done early on New Year’s morning with copious clouds of smoke from burning juniper branches, and by drinking and then sprinkling ‘magic water’ from ‘a dead and living ford’ around the house (‘a dead and living ford’ refers to a river ford which is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead). After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and the burning juniper carried through the house and byre. The smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The woman of the house then administers ‘a restorative’ from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast.

An example of a local Hogmanay custom is the fireball swinging that takes place in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire in north-east Scotland. This involves local people making up ‘balls’ of chicken wire filled with old newspaper, sticks, rags, and other dry flammable material up to a diameter of 60 cm, each attached to about 1 m of wire, chain or nonflammable rope. As the Old Town House bell sounds to mark the new year, the balls are set alight and the swingers set off up the High Street from the Mercat Cross to the Cannon and back, swinging their burning ball around their head as they go. At the end of the ceremony, any fireballs that are still burning are cast into the harbour. Many people enjoy this display, and large crowds flock to see it.

Haste ye back, we loue you dearly,
Call again you’re welcome here.
May your days be free from sorrow,
And your friends be ever near.
May the paths o’er which you wander,
Be to you a joy each day.
Haste ye back we loue you dearly,
Haste ye back on friendship’s way.


Herman Hesse Quotes:
The call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation.

The truth is lived, not taught.

You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves.

There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.

Those who cannot think or take responsibility for themselves need, and clamor for, a leader.

To be able to throw one’s self away for the sake of a moment, to be able to sacrifice years for a woman’s smile – that is happiness.

Othmar Schoeck – Summernight Op.58 for string orchestra 1/2

The Poet
by Hermann Hesse (1914), translated by Denver Lindley

There is a story told that the Chinese poet, Han Fook, while yet a young man had a strange and compelling wish to learn all there was to learn about the art of poetry, and to strive for perfection in the writing of it. In those days, he was still living in his home on the Yellow River, and with the help of his family who loved him dearly, he had just become engaged to a young lady of good family. The marriage was to be set for a day which promised good fortune. Han Fook was then twenty years old, a handsome youth, modest, well mannered, schooled in the sciences, and despite his youth, was already recognized among men of letters of his homeland for some excellent verse. Without being exactly rich, he had the prospect of an adequate fortune which would be augmented by the dowry of his bride. Since this bride was, moreover, very beautiful and virtuous, nothing seemed lacking for the young man’s happiness. Nevertheless, he was not satisfied, for his heart was filled with the ambition to become a perfect poet.

One evening, as a festival of lanterns was being celebrated on the river, it so happened that Han Fook was wandering alone on the far bank of the river. He leaned against the trunk of a tree which grew over the water, and saw reflected in the river thousands of lights swimming and shimmering. He saw men and women and young girls greeting each other on the boats and floats, all glowing like beautiful flowers in their festive dress. He heard the soft murmur of the shining water, the songs of the girls, the humming of the zithers, the sweet tones of the flutes, and over the whole scene the blue night hovered like the vaulting of a temple. His heart beat faster as he gave in to the mood rising within him. He was the only witness to all this beauty! Even though he longed to cross the river and to enjoy the festival in the company of his bride and his friends, he wanted even more ardently to remain an observer, to drink in his own impressions of the scene, and then to transform them into a perfect poem. The poem would reflect the deep blue of the night, the play of light on the water, the joy of the festival guests, and also the yearning of the silent onlooker who leans on the trunk of the tree over the river. He sensed that if even he were to experience all the festivals and all the pleasures of the earth, they would not make him completely happy, for he knew that he would remain an onlooker, a stranger, as it were, isolated in the midst of life. He sensed the unique quality of his soul, which at once compelled him to feel deeply the beauty of the earth, and also to know the secret longings of an outsider. The thought made him sad, but as he pursued it further, he realized that true happiness and satisfaction could only be his if he could once succeed in creating with his poetry a perfect mirror image of the world. In this way he would possess the world itself, refined and immortalized in reflected images.

Han Fook scarcely knew whether he was still awake or had fallen asleep when he heard a slight sound and saw a stranger standing next to the tree trunk. It was an old man with a venerable air, clad in violet-colored robes. Han Fook rose and spoke to the stranger with the usual words of greeting for old men and eminent people. The stranger, however, smiled, and spoke a few lines of poetry. The young man’s heart stood still in wonder, for in these lines was all the beauty and perfection which he had just experienced, expressed according to all the rules of the great poets. “Oh, who are you,” he asked, bowing deeply, “you who can see into my soul and who speak more beautiful verses than I have ever heard from my teachers?”

The stranger smiled the smile of one who has attained perfection, and said, “If you wish to become a poet, then come with me. You will find my hut by the source of the great river in the northwest mountains. I am called the Master of the Perfect Word.”

With that the old man stepped into the narrow shadow cast by the tree and disappeared immediately. Han Fook, after searching for him in vain and finding not even a trace, now firmly believed that everything had been a dream brought on by fatigue. He hurried over to the boats across the river and took part in the festival, but between conversations and the sound of the flutes, he continued to hear the voice of the stranger. Han Fook’s very soul seemed to have gone away with the man, for he sat apart with dreaming eyes among the merrymakers who teased him for his love-sickness.

A few days later, Han Fook’s father wanted to call his friends and relatives together in order to set the day of the wedding. But the bridegroom opposed his father, saying: “Forgive me if I seem to violate the obedience which a son owes his father. But you know how great is my longing to distinguish myself in the art of poetry. Even though a few of my friends praise my poems, I well know that I am still a beginner and still have a long way to go. Therefore I ask you to let me go for a while into isolation in order to pursue my studies of poetry, because once I have a wife and a house to take care of, I will be held back from those things. Now, while I am still young and free from other duties, I would like to live for some time for my poetry alone—and my poetry will, I hope, bring me joy and fame.”

The father was amazed at this speech, and he said, “You must love this art above everything else, since you even want to postpone your wedding because of it. Or, if something has come between you and your bride, then tell me so that I can help you bring about a reconciliation or provide you with another bride.”

But the son swore that he loved his bride no less than before, and that not even the shadow of a disagreement had fallen between them. At the same time he told his father that a great master had revealed himself to him in a dream on the day of the lantern festival, and that it was his greatest wish in the world to become the pupil of this master.

“Well and good,” said the father, “then I will give you a year. In this time you may pursue this dream of yours which may have been sent to you by a god.”
“It may be two years,” said Han Fook hesitantly, “who can tell?”

The father let him go and was grieved. The young man wrote a letter to his bride, took leave of his family, and went his way.
When he had traveled for a very long time, he reached the source of the river and found a bamboo hut standing by itself in the wilderness. On a braided mat in front of the hut sat the old man whom Han Fook had seen on the bank by the tree trunk. The old man sat and played his lute, and when he saw the guest approach respectfully, he did not get up, nor did he greet him. He only smiled and let his sensitive fingers play over the strings. A magic music flowed like a silver cloud through the valley, so that the young man stood in wondering astonishment and forgot everything else until the Master of the Perfect Word put aside his small lute and stepped into his hut. So Han Fook followed him with awe and remained with him as his servant and pupil.

A month passed, and Han Fook had learned to despise all poems which he had written before. He erased them from his memory. And after a few more months he erased even those poems from his memory which he had learned from his teachers at home. The Master spoke hardly a word with him. Silently, he taught Han Fook the art of lute playing until the very being of the pupil was filled with music. Once Han Fook composed a small poem, in which he described the flight of two birds across the autumnal sky, a poem which pleased him quite well. He didn’t dare show it to the Master, but one evening he sang it near the hut. The Master heard it well but said not a word. He only played softly on his lute. Immediately the air became cool and the darkness increased; a sharp wind arose even though it was the middle of summer. Across the sky, which had now become gray, flew two lines of birds in their mighty yearning for new lands. All of this was so much more beautiful and perfect than the verses of the pupil, that Han Fook became sad and silent, and felt himself worthless. The old man made this come to pass each time. When a year had gone by, Han Fook had learned lute playing almost to perfection, but the art of poetry appeared ever more difficult and more sublime.

When two years had gone by, the young man became overwhelmingly homesick for his family, for his homeland, and for his bride. So he asked the Master to let him travel.

The Master smiled and nodded. “You are free,” he said, “and may go wherever you want. You may come again, you may stay away, just as you like.”

So the pupil started on his journey and traveled without stopping until one morning in the dawn he stood on his native shore and looked over the vaulted bridge to his home town. He crept furtively into his father’s garden, and heard through the bedroom window the breathing of his father who was still asleep. Stealing among the trees next to the house of his bride, he climbed to the top of a pear tree and saw his bride standing in her room, combing her hair. When he compared the sight before his eyes with the vision that he had painted of it in his homesick imaginings, it became clear to him that he was indeed destined to be a poet: that in the dreams of poets there is a beauty and grace which one searches for in vain in everyday reality. So he climbed down from the tree, fled from the garden, fled over the bridge out of his native town, and returned to the high valley in the mountains. There as before sat the Master in front of his hut on his simple mat, plucking the lute with his fingers. Instead of a greeting, he spoke two verses about the blessings of art. Upon hearing these deep and harmonious sounds, Han Fook’s eyes became filled with tears.

Again Han Fook remained with the Master of the Perfect Word, who now gave him lessons on the zither since he had mastered the lute. The months vanished like snow in the west wind. Twice more it happened that homesickness overcame him. The first time he ran away secretly into the night, but before he had reached the last curve in the valley, the night wind blew over the zither which hung in the door of the hut and the sounds flowed after Han Fook and called him to return in such a way that he could not resist. The other time, however, he dreamed that he was planting a young tree in his garden and that his wife was standing by him and that his children were sprinkling the tree with wine and milk. When he awoke, the moon shone into his room. He got up, bewildered, and saw the Master lying asleep next to him, his gray beard trembling gently. Suddenly a feeling of bitter hatred towards this man came over him—this person who, it seemed to him, had destroyed his life and deceived him about his future. He wanted to fall upon him and murder him, when the old man opened his eyes and began immediately to smile with a fine, sad gentleness which disarmed the pupil. “Remember, Han Fook,” said the old man quietly, “you are free to do whatever you wish. You may go into your home country and plant trees, you may hate me, or strike me dead—it is of little importance.”

“Oh, how could I hate you?” cried the poet, deeply moved. “That would be like hating heaven itself.”

So he remained, and learned to play the zither, and after that the flute. Later he began to write poems under the Master’s direction. Slowly he learned the mysterious art of saying only that which is simple and straight-forward, but in such a way as to stir up the listener’s soul as the wind stirs up the surface of the water. He described the coming of the sun as it hesitates on the edge of the mountains, and the soundless slipping away of fish when they flee like shadows under the water, and the gentle rocking of a young willow in the spring winds. To hear it was not just to hear about the sun, the play of the fish, or the murmuring of the willow; rather it seemed that heaven and earth harmonized each time for a moment of perfect music. Each listener thought with joy or sorrow on whatever he loved or hated: a boy’s thoughts would turn to games, a young man’s to his beloved, and the old man’s to death.

Han Fook no longer knew how many years he spent with the Master at the source of the great river. Often it seemed to him that he had entered the valley only yesterday and been welcomed by the old man’s string music. Often he felt as if all the ages of Man and Time itself had fallen away and become insubstantial.

One morning he awoke alone in the hut and though he looked and called everywhere, the Master had disappeared. Overnight fall seemed to have come. A raw wind shook the old hut and large flocks of migrating birds flew over the ridge of the mountain range, although it was not yet time for them to do so.

Then Han Fook took his little lute and descended into his native country. Wherever he encountered people, they greeted him with the sign of greeting which is due old men and eminent people. When he came to his native town, his father, his bride, and his relatives had died. Other people lived in their houses. That evening, a lantern festival was celebrated on the river. The poet Han Fook stood on the far side of the river, on the darker side of the river, leaning against the trunk of an old tree. When he began to play his little lute, then the women sighed and glanced, delighted and disturbed, into the night. The young men called to the lute player, but they could not find him. They called loudly, because not one of them had ever heard such sounds from a lute before. But Han Fook smiled. He looked into the river, where the reflected images of a thousand lanterns were swimming. Just as he no longer knew how to distinguish the reflected images from the real ones, so he found no difference in his soul between this festival and the first one, when he had stood here as a young man and heard the words of the strange Master.

Othmar Schoeck – Summernight Op.58 for string orchestra 2/2

Hermann Hesse Poems

At Night On The High Sea

At night, when the sea cradles me
And the pale star gleam
Lies down on its broad waves,
Then I free myself wholly
From all activity and all the love
And stand silent and breathe purely,
Alone, alone cradled by the sea
That lies there, cold and silent, with a thousand lights.
Then I have to think of my friends
And my gaze sinks into their gazes
And I ask each one, silent, alone:
“Are you still mine”
Is my sorrow a sorrow to you, my death a death?
Do you feel from my love, my grief,
Just a breath, just an echo?”
And the sea peacefully gazes back, silent,
And smiles: no.
And no greeting and now answer comes from anywhere.

On A Journey

Don’t be downcast, soon the night will come,
When we can see the cool moon laughing in secret
Over the faint countryside,
And we rest, hand in hand.

Don’t be downcast, the time will soon come
When we can have rest. Our small crosses will stand
On the bright edge of the road together,
And rain fall, and snow fall,
And the winds come and go.

Lying In Grass

Is this everything now, the quick delusions of flowers,
And the down colors of the bright summer meadow,
The soft blue spread of heaven, the bees’ song,
Is this everything only a god’s
Groaning dream,
The cry of unconscious powers for deliverance?
The distant line of the mountain,
That beautifully and courageously rests in the blue,
Is this too only a convulsion,
Only the wild strain of fermenting nature,
Only grief, only agony, only meaningless fumbling,
Never resting, never a blessed movement?
No! Leave me alone, you impure dream
Of the world in suffering!
The dance of tiny insects cradles you in an evening radiance,
The bird’s cry cradles you,
A breath of wind cools my forehead
With consolation.
Leave me alone, you unendurably old human grief!
Let it all be pain.
Let it all be suffering, let it be wretched-
But not this one sweet hour in the summer,
And not the fragrance of the red clover,
And not the deep tender pleasure
In my soul.

The Poet

Only on me, the lonely one,
The unending stars of the night shine,
The stone fountain whispers its magic song,
To me alone, to me the lonely one
The colorful shadows of the wandering clouds
Move like dreams over the open countryside.
Neither house nor farmland,
Neither forest nor hunting privilege is given to me,
What is mine belongs to no one,
The plunging brook behind the veil of the woods,
The frightening sea,
The bird whir of children at play,
The weeping and singing, lonely in the evening, of a man secretly in love.
The temples of the gods are mine also, and mine
the aristocratic groves of the past.
And no less, the luminous
Vault of heaven in the future is my home:
Often in full flight of longing my soul storms upward,
To gaze on the future of blessed men,
Love, overcoming the law, love from people to people.
I find them all again, nobly transformed:
Farmer, king, tradesman, busy sailors,
Shepherd and gardener, all of them
Gratefully celebrate the festival of the future world.
Only the poet is missing,
The lonely one who looks on,
The bearer of human longing, the pale image
Of whom the future, the fulfillment of the world
Has no further need. Many garlands
Wilt on his grave,
But no one remembers him.

Othmar Schoeck – Elegie op. 36 (Schluss/End/Fin)


The Oort Cloud of Consciousness

It’s really about the Oort Cloud. A churning mass of possibilities from which great surprises emerge. Discreet patterns etched into the waves of chaos…
As the year winds down, I sit here wondering at it all. As I was digging around my own Oort, I came up with some primeval influences, which I’ve shared with you in this entry.

This edition is dedicated to the memory of Alistair Hulett, who passed nearly a year ago. For all of you everywhere, in Solidarity.

I hope you enjoy,

On The Menu:
The Links
Hans Richter – Ghosts Before Breakfast
The Internationale
Louis Aragon Poetry
Hans Richter – Everything Turns Everyting Resolves

The Links:
Oort Clouds…
2010 The Year In Crazy, Part 1
How Billy Graham Brought Us the Tea Party
Animals Busted!
“To Dream of Falling Upwards”
Hans Richter – Ghosts Before Breakfast


The Internationale

Arise, wretched of the earth
Arise, convicts of hunger
Reason thunders in its volcano
This is the eruption of the end
Of the past let us wipe the slate clean
Masses, slaves, arise, arise
The world is about to change its foundation
We are nothing, let us be all

This is the final struggle
Let us gather together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

There are no supreme saviours
Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune.
Producers, let us save ourselves
Decree the common welfare
That the thief return his plunder,
That the spirit be pulled from its prison
Let us fan the forge ourselves
Strike the iron while it is hot
|: This is the final struggle
Let us stand together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

The state represses and the law cheats
The tax bleeds the unfortunate
No duty is imposed on the rich
‘Rights of the poor’ is a hollow phrase
Enough languishing in custody
Equality wants other laws:
No rights without obligations, it says,
And as well, no obligations without rights

This is the final struggle
Let us stand together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

Hideous in their self-glorification
Kings of the mine and rail
Have they ever done anything other
Than steal work?
Into the coffers of that lot,
What work creates has melted
In demanding that they give it back
The people wants only its due.

This is the final struggle
Let us stand together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

The kings make us drunk with their fumes,
Peace among ourselves, war to the tyrants!
Let the armies go on strike,
Guns in the air, and break ranks
If these cannibals insist
On making heroes of us,
Soon they will know our bullets
Are for our own generals

This is the final struggle
Let us stand together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

Labourers, peasants, we are
The great party of workers
The earth belongs only to men
The idle will go reside elsewhere
How much of our flesh they feed on,
But if the ravens and vultures
Disappear one of these days
The sun will still shine

This is the final struggle
Let us stand together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race
– Eugène Pottier

Alistair Hulett and Jimmy Gregory Perform The Internationale

Louis Aragon Poetry

I’ll Reinvent The Rose For You

I’ll reinvent the rose for you
For you are that rose which cannot be described
These few words at least in the order proper to her ritual
That rose which only words distant from roses can describe
The way it is with the ecstatic cry and the terrible sadness which it translates
From the stars of pleaure above love’s deep abyss
I will reinvent for youth rose of adoring fingers
Which create a nave as they interlace but whose petals then suddenly fall away
I will reinvent for you the rose beneath the balconies
Of lovers whose only beds are their arms

The rose at the heart of sculpted stone figures dead without benefit of confession
The rose of a peasant blown to bits by a landmine in his field
The scarlet scent of a letter that has been “discovered”
In which nothing’s addressed to me neither the insult nor the compliment

Some rendezvous to which no one has come

An entire army in flight on a very windy day

A maternal footstep before prison-gates

A man’s song at siesta-time beneath the olive trees

A cock-fight in a mist-enshrouded countryside
The rose of a soldier cut off from his own home country

I’ll reinvent for you my rose as many roses
As there are diamonds in the waters of the seas
As there are past centuries adrift in the dust of the earth’s atmosphere
As there are dreams in just one childish head

As there can be reflections in one tear


They restored man to the earth
They said you will eat
And you will eat

They cast the heavens to the earth
They said The gods will perish
And the gods will perish

They made a building site of the earth
They said The weather will be beautiful
And the weather will be beautiful

They opened a hole on the earth
They said The flame will burst forth
And the flame will burst forth

Speaking to the masters of the earth
They said You will give way
And you will give way

They took in their hands the earth
They said The black shall be white
And the black shall be white

Glory on the lands and the earth
To the sun of Bolshevik days
And Glory to the Bolsheviks

Stanzas in Remembrance

You asked for neither glory nor tears,
Not the sound of the organ or the prayer for the dying;
Eleven years already, how quickly they pass, eleven years;
You did naught but use your weapons:
Death doesn’t dazzle the eyes of partisan.

Your portraits were on the walls of our cities,
The black of beards and night, wild-haired, threatening;
The poster seemed like a stain of blood, and
Because your names were so hard to pronounce
It sought to strike fear in those who passed.

No one looked on you as French by preference,
The whole day people passed without a glance;
But at the hour of curfew
Wandering fingers wrote under your photos:
And the dismals mornings were no more the same.

All had the uniform color of frost
At the end of February, at your last moments;
And then it was that one of you calmly said:
I wish happiness for all, Happiness for those who will survive
I die without hatred for the German people.

Adieu pain, adieu pleasure, adieu roses
Adieu life, adieu light and wind;
Marry, be happy and think of me often,
You who will remain among the beauty of things
When things are over later in Erevan.

A great winter sun illuminates the hill
How beautiful is nature, and how my heart breaks;
Justice will follow upon our triumphant steps
My Melinée, oh my love, my orphan girl,
I tell you to live and to have a child.

They were twenty-three when the gun barrels blossomed,
Twenty three who gave their hearts before their time,
Twenty three foreigners and yet our brothers,
Twenty three who loved life to death;
Twenty three who cried out “La France” as they were struck down.

Aragon wrote this poem in honor of the resistance fighters of the Manouchian Group on the occasion of the naming of a street in Paris in their honor
Translations: Mitchell Abidor

Hans Richter – Everything Turns Everyting Resolves


Blessings On The Yule…

“The birth of the Persian hero and sun-god Mithra was celebrated on December 25th. The myth tells that he sprang up full-grown from a rock, armed with a knife and carrying a torch. Shepherds watched his miraculous appearance and hurried to greet him with their first fruits and their flocks and their harvests. His cult spread throughout Roman lands during the 2nd century. In 274, the Emperor Aurelian declared December 25th the Birthday of Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable Sun) in Rome.”
– Christmas Even and Day
I hope this finds you with friends and family, warm and happy on this winter’s night. It has been a fun season for us, as we stumble now through to Hogmanay. I have a higher percentage of people smiling on the street, and in stores. I don’t think I have seen so much happiness in the general public for a long time. This gives me hope for the coming year, and for the turning of the wheel. Remember, smiles are infectious, and simple laughter can bring empires down.

I have put a small offering up, with poetry, a bit of history and music. Enjoy it as you can!

Bright Blessings on this Yule!

On The Menu:
The Winter Solstice Boar
Annie Lennox – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Poetry For The Heart Of Winter
Jethro Tull The Whistler
The Winter Solstice Boar
Pictures of boars feature on many of the ancient Pictish stone carvings and it is therefore not surprising that it was important in the arts and myths of the Picts and the celtic peoples. The boar was known for its cunning and ferocious nature. A famous legendary boar was Orc Triath, which the goddess Brigit owned. In the Arthurian tales of the Mabinogion the boar Twrch Trwyth was a terrible foe to Arthur. The White Boar of Marvan sent inspiration to its master to write music and poetry.

It used to be customary for the ancient Druids to kill a boar at the winter solstice and offered its head in sacrifice to Freya, the goddess of peace and plenty, who was supposed to ride upon a boar with golden bristles. Hence it was not unusual even in Christian times
to gild the head. The very lemon placed in the boar’s mouth was a Norse
symbol of plenty. An orange or an apple was sometimes substituted. The common practice in England of eating sucking pig at Christmas has the
same origin.

Even in medieval Christian England it was customary to commence all great Christmas
feasts by the solemn ceremony of bringing in the boar’s head as the initial dish. The master-cook, preceded by trumpeters and other musicians, and followed by huntsmen with boar-spears and drawn falchionsand pages carrying mustard, bore the smoking head aloft on a silverplatter, which he deposited at the head of the table. The head was garnished and garlanded with rosemary and laurel and a lemon was placed between its grinning chops.

Queen Victoria has retained the old custom. Her Christmas dinner at Osborne House or Windsor has for over fifty years consisted of a baron of beef and woodcock pie, -historic dishes, – while the bringing in of the boar’s head is performed with all the ancient ceremony.
Bringing in the Boar’s Head

The bore’s head in hande bring I,
With garlandes gay and rosemary,
I pray you all synge merely,
Qui estis in convivio.

The bore’s head I understande,
Is the chefe servyce in this lande
Loke wherer it be fande
Servite cum cantico.

Be gladde, lords, both more and lasse,
For this hath ordayned our stewarde
To cheer you all this Christmasse,
The bore’s head with mustarde.


“Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.”
– Yule Lore
Annie Lennox – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Poetry For The Heart Of Winter

“The snow is lying very deep.
My house is sheltered from the blast.
I hear each muffled step outside,
I hear each voice go past.
But I’ll not venture in the drift
Out of this bright security,
Till enough footsteps come and go
To make a path for me.”
– Agnes Lee

“The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land,
A voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths,
Toward harbors safe, concealed from raider bands,
Of icy galleons coursing wintry dearth.
Squirrels don thick coats against Wind’s numbing dare,
Mount last determined searches ‘long the ground.
Brown grass conceals the season’s paltry fare,
As hopeful birds scratch for what may be found.
Through frosted windows glow the hearth’s warm light,
As fading day casts shadows ‘cross the lawn,
And grey meets grey as winter gathers might,
Undaunted as the chimney starts to yawn.
Farewell brave day as twilight draweth nigh.
Perchance on morrow sun will gather high.”
– Dan Young, The End of a Winter Day

“How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.”
– William Shakespeare, How Like a Winter Hath my Absence Been (Sonnet 97)

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
where the wild creatures ranged
while the moon rose and shone.

why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.”
– May Sarton, December Moon

“Love awoke one winter’s night
And wander’d through the snowbound land,
And calling to beasts and birds
Bid them his message understand.

And from the forest all wild things
That crept or flew obeyed love’s call,
And learned from him the golden words
Of brotherhood for one and all.”
– Author Unknown

Jethro Tull The Whistler

Ring Out, Solstice Bells…

“Holly and mistletoe
Candles and bells,
I know the message
That each of you tells.”
– Leland B. Jacobs, Mrs. Ritters First Grade Critters

(Martina Hoffmann – Vitreous Ovum homage to Leonardo Da Vinci)

I hope this finds all of our friends in the Northern Hemisphere warm, happy and full of cheer for this Winter Solstice! For our friends in the Southern Hemisphere I wish you happiness on this day of the Long Dance! The great wheel spirals through eternity, and we are here bearing witness and sharing our awareness of the eternal now.

I raise the krater of blessings up to you all. May love follow you everywhere, and may you share it with all.


On The Menu:
Jethro Tull – Ring Out, Solstice Bells (rare)
Survivals Of Celtic Paganism Into Modern Times
Poetry From The Great Circle – Winter Solstice
Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance

Jethro Tull – Ring Out, Solstice Bells (rare)

“Ring Out, Solstice Bells”

Now is the solstice of the year,
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.
Celtic Myth and Legend – Charles Squire

Survivals Of Celtic Paganism Into Modern Times

The fall of the Celtic state worship began earlier in Britain than in her sister island. Neither was it Christianity that struck the first blow, but the rough humanity and stern justice of the Romans. That people was more tolerant, perhaps, than any the world has ever known towards the religions of others, and gladly welcomed the Celtic gods–as gods–into its own diverse Pantheon. A friendly Gaulish or British divinity might at any time be granted the so-to-speak divine Roman citizenship, and be assimilated to Jupiter, to Mars, to Apollo, or to any other properly accredited deity whom the Romans deemed him to resemble. It was not against the god, but against his worship at the hands of his priests, that Roman law struck. The colossal human sacrifices of the druids horrified even a people who were far from squeamish about a little bloodshed. They themselves had abolished such practices by a decree of the senate before Caesar first invaded Britain, 1 and could not therefore permit within their empire a cult which slaughtered men in order to draw omens from their death-agonies. 2 Druidism was first required to be renounced by those who claimed Roman citizenship; then it was vigorously put down among the less civilized tribes. Tacitus tells us how the Island of Mona (Anglesey)–the great stronghold of druidism–was attacked, its sacred groves cut down, its altars laid level, and its priests put to the sword. 1 Pliny, recording how the Emperor Tiberius had “suppressed the druids”, congratulates his fellow-countrymen on having put an end, wherever their dominion extended, to the monstrous customs inspired by the doctrine that the gods could take pleasure in murder and cannibalism. 2 The practice of druidism, with its attendant barbarities, abolished in Britain wherever the long Roman arm could reach to strike, took refuge beyond the Northern Wall, among the savage Caledonian tribes who had not yet submitted to the invader’s yoke. Naturally, too, it remained untouched in Ireland. But before the Romans left Britain, it had been extirpated everywhere, except among “the Picts and Scots”.

Christianity, following the Roman rule, completed the ruin of paganism in Britain, so far, at least, as its public manifestations were concerned. In the sixth century of our era, the monkish writer, Gildas, is able to refer complacently to the ancient British religion as a dead faith. “I shall not”, he says, “enumerate those diabolical idols of my country, which almost surpassed in number those of Egypt, and of which we still see some mouldering away within or without the deserted temples, with stiff and deformed features as was customary. Nor will I cry out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which now are subservient to the use of men, but once were an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honour.” 1 And with the idols fell the priests. The very word “druid” became obsolete, and is scarcely mentioned in the earliest British literature, though druids are prominent characters in the Irish writings of the same period.

The secular arm had no power in Scotland and in Ireland, consequently the battle between Paganism and Christianity was fought upon more equal terms, and lasted longer. In the first country, Saint Columba, and in the second, Saint Patrick are the personages who, at any rate according to tradition, beat down the druids and their gods. Adamnan, Abbot of Iona, who wrote his Vita Columbæ in the last decade of the seventh century, describes how, a century earlier, that saint had carried the Gospel to the Picts. Their king, Brude, received him contemptuously, and the royal druids left no heathen spell unuttered to thwart and annoy him. But, as the power of Moses was greater than the power of the magicians of Egypt, so Saint Columba’s prayers caused miracles more wonderful and more convincing than any wrought by his adversaries. Such stories belong to the atmosphere of myth which has always enveloped heroic men; the essential fact is that the Picts abandoned the old religion for the new.

A similar legend sums up the life-work of Saint Patrick in Ireland. Before he came, Cromm Cruaich had received from time immemorial his yearly toll of human lives. But Saint Patrick faced the gruesome idol; as he raised his crozier, we are told, the demon fell shrieking from his image, which, deprived of its soul, bowed forward to the ground.

It is far easier, however, to overthrow the more public manifestations of a creed than to destroy its inner vital force. Cromm Cruaich’s idol might fall, but his spirit would survive–a very Proteus. The sacred places of the ancient Celtic religion might be invaded, the idols and altars of the gods thrown down, the priests slain, scattered, or banished, and the cult officially declared to be extinct; but, driven from the important centres, it would yet survive outside and around them. The more civilized Gaels and Britons would no doubt accept the purer gospel, and abandon the gods they had once adored, but the peasantry–the bulk of the population–would still cling to the familiar rites and names. A nobler belief and a higher civilization come, after all, only as surface waves upon the great ocean of human life; beneath their agitations lies a vast slumbering abyss of half-conscious faith and thought to which culture penetrates with difficulty and in which changes come very slowly.

We have already shown how long and how faithfully the Gaelic and Welsh peasants clung to their old gods, in spite of all the efforts of the clerics to explain them as ancient kings, to transform them into wonder-working saints, or to ban them as demons of hell. This conservative religious instinct of the agricultural populations is not confined to the inhabitants of the British Islands. The modern Greeks still believe in nereids, in lamias, in sirens, and in Charon, the dark ferryman of Hades. 1 The descendants of the Romans and Etruscans hold that the old Etruscan gods and the Roman deities of the woods and fields still live in the world as spirits. 2 The high altars of the “Lord of the Mound” and his terrible kin were levelled, and their golden images and great temples left to moulder in abandonment; but the rude rustic shrine to the rude rustic god still received its offerings. It is this shifting of the care of the pagan cult from chief to peasant, from court to hovel, and, perhaps, to some extent from higher to lower race, that serves to explain how the more primitive and uncouth gods have tended so largely to supplant those of higher, more graceful mien. Aboriginal deities, thrust into obscurity by the invasion of higher foreign types, came back to their own again.

For it seems plain that we must divide the spiritual population of the British Islands into two classes. There is little in common between the “fairy”, strictly so-called, and the unsightly elf who appears under various names and guises, as pooka, leprechaun, brownie, knocker, or bogle. The one belongs to such divine tribes as the Tuatha Dé Danann of Gaelic myth or their kin, the British gods of the Mabinogion. The other owes his origin to a quite different, and much lower, kind of imagination. One might fancy that neolithic man made him in his own image.

None the less has immemorial tradition wonderfully preserved the essential features of the Celtic nature-gods. The fairy belief of the present day hardly differs at all from the conception which the Celts had of their deities. The description of the Tuatha Dé Danann in the “Dialogue of the Elders” as “sprites or fairies with corporeal or material forms but indued with immortality” would stand as an account of prevailing ideas as to the “good people” to-day. Nor do the Irish and Welsh fairies of popular belief differ from one another. Both alike live among the hills, though in Wales a lake often takes the place of the “fairy mound”; both, though they war and marry among themselves, are semi-immortal; both covet the children of men, and will steal them from the cradle, leaving one of their own uncanny brood in the mortal baby’s stead; both can lay men and women under spells; both delight in music and the dance, and live lives of unreal and fantastic splendour and luxury. Another point in which they resemble one another is in their tiny size. But this would seem to be the result of the literary convention originated by Shakespeare; in genuine folktales, both Gaelic and British, the fairies are pictured as of at least mortal stature. 1 But, Aryan or Iberian, beautiful or hideous, they are fast vanishing from belief. Every year, the secluded valleys in which men and women might still live in the old way, and dream the old dreams, tend more and more to be thrown open to the modern world of rapid movement and rapid thought. The last ten years have perhaps done more in this direction than the preceding ten generations. What lone shepherd or fisherman will ever see again the vision of the great Manannán? Have the stable-boys of to-day still any faith left in Finvarra? Is Gwyn ap Nudd often thought of in his own valleys of the Tawë and the Nedd? It would be hard, perhaps, to find a whole-hearted believer even in his local pooka or parish bogle.

It is the ritual observances of the old Celtic faith which have better weathered, and will longer survive, the disintegrating influences of time. There are no hard names to be remembered. Things may still be done for “luck” which were once done for religion. Customary observances die very slowly, held up by an only half acknowledged fear that, unless they are fulfilled, “something may happen”. We shall get, therefore, more satisfactory evidence of the nature of the Celtic paganism by examining such customs than in any other way.

We find three forms of the survival of the ancient religion into quite recent times. The first is the celebration of the old solar or agricultural festivals of the spring and autumn equinoxes and of the summer and winter solstices. The second is the practice of a symbolic human sacrifice by those who have forgotten its meaning, and only know that they are keeping up an old custom, joined with late instances of the actual sacrifices of animals to avert cattle-plagues or to change bad luck. The third consists of many still-living relics of the once universal worship of sacred waters, trees, stones, and animals.

Whatever may have been the exact meaning of the Celtic state worship, there seems to be no doubt that it centred around the four great days in the year which chronicle the rise, progress, and decline of the sun, and, therefore, of the fruits of the earth. These were: Beltaine, which fell at the beginning of May; Midsummer Day, marking the triumph of sunshine and vegetation; the Feast of Lugh, when, in August, the turning-point of the sun’s course had been reached; and the sad Samhain, when he bade farewell to power, and fell again for half a year under the sway of the evil forces of winter and darkness.

Of these great solar periods, the first and the last were, naturally, the most important. The whole Celtic mythology seems to revolve upon them, as upon pivots. It was on the day of Beltaine that Partholon and his people, the discoverers, and, indeed, the makers of Ireland, arrived there from the other world, and it was on the same day, three hundred years later, that they returned whence they came. It was on Beltaine-day that the Gaelic gods, the Tuatha Dé Danann, and, after them, the Gaelic men, first set foot on Irish soil. It was on the day of Samhain that the Fomors oppressed the people of Nemed with their terrible tax; and it was again at Samhain that a later race of gods of light and life finally conquered those demons at the Battle of Moytura. Only one important mythological incident–and that was one added at a later time!–happened upon any other than one of those two days; it was upon Midsummer Day, one of the lesser solar points, that the people of the goddess Danu took Ireland from its inhabitants, the Fir Bolgs.

The mythology of Britain preserves the same root-idea as that of Ireland. If anything uncanny took place, it was sure to be on May-day. It was on “the night of the first of May” that Rhiannon lost, and Teirnyon Twryf Vliant found, the infant Pryderi, as told in the first of the Mabinogion. 1 It was “on every May-eve” that the two dragons fought and shrieked in the reign of “King” Lludd. 2 It is on “every first of May” till the day of doom that Gwyn son of Nudd, fights with Gwyrthur son of Greidawl, for Lludd’s fair daughter, Creudylad. 3 And it was when she was “a-maying” in the woods and fields near Westminster that the same Gwyn, or Melwas, under his romance-name of Sir Meliagraunce, captured Arthur’s queen, Guinevere. 4 The nature of the rites performed upon these days can be surmised from their pale survivals. They are still celebrated by the descendants of the Celts, though it is probable that few of them know–or would even care to know–why May Day, St. John’s Day, Lammas, and Hallowe’en are times of ceremony. The first–called “Beltaine” in Ireland, “Bealtiunn” in Scotland, “Shenn da Boaldyn” in the Isle of Man, and “Galan-Mai” (the Calends of May) in Wales–celebrates the waking of the earth from her winter sleep, and the renewal of warmth, life, and vegetation. This is the meaning of the May-pole, now rarely seen in our streets, though Shakespeare tells us that in his time the festival was so eagerly anticipated that no one could sleep upon its eve. 1 At midnight the people rose, and, going to the nearest woods, tore down branches of trees, with which the sun, when he rose, would find doors and windows decked for him. They spent the day in dancing round the May-pole, with rude, rustic mirth, man joining with nature to celebrate the coming of summer. The opposite to it was the day called “Samhain” in Ireland and Scotland, “Sauin” in Man, and “Nos Galan-gaeof” (the Night of the Winter Calends) in Wales. This festival was a sad one: summer was over, and winter, with its short, sunless days and long, dreary nights, was at hand. It was the beginning, too, of the ancient Celtic year, 2 and omens for the future might be extorted from dark powers by uncanny rites. It was the holiday of the dead and of all the more evil supernatural beings. “On November-eve”, says a North Cardiganshire proverb, “there is a bogy on every stile.” The Scotch have even invented a special bogy–the Samhanach or goblin which comes out at Samhain. 3 The sun-god himself is said to have instituted the August festival called “Lugnassad” (Lugh’s commemoration) in Ireland, “Lla Lluanys” in Man, and “Gwyl Awst” (August Feast) in Wales; and it was once of hardly less importance than Beltaine or Samhain. It is noteworthy, too, that the first of August was a great day at Lyons–formerly called Lugudunum, the dún (town) of Lugus. The mid-summer festival, on the other hand, has largely merged its mythological significance in the Christian Feast of St. John.

The characteristic features of these festivals give certain proof of the original nature of the great pagan ceremonials of which they are the survivals and travesties. 1 In all of them, bonfires are lighted on the highest hills, and the hearth fires solemnly rekindled. They form the excuse for much sport and jollity. But there is yet something sinister in the air; the “fairies” are active and abroad, and one must be careful to omit no prescribed rite, if one would avoid kindling their anger or falling into their power. To some of these still-half-believed-in nature-gods offerings were made down to a comparatively late period. When Pennant wrote, in the eighteenth century, it was the custom on Beltaine-day in many Highland villages to offer libations and cakes not only to the “spirits” who were believed to be beneficial to the flocks and herds, but also to creatures like the fox, the eagle, and the hoodie-crow which so often molested them. 1 At Hallowe’en (the Celtic Samhain) the natives of the Hebrides used to pour libations of ale to a marine god called Shony, imploring him to send sea-weed to the shore. 2 In honour, also, of such beings, curious rites were performed. Maidens washed their faces in morning dew, with prayers for beauty. They carried sprigs of the rowan, that mystic tree whose scarlet berries were the ambrosial food of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

In their original form, these now harmless rural holidays were undoubtedly religious festivals of an orgiastic nature-worship such as became so popular in Greece in connection with the cult of Dionysus. The great “lords of life” and of the powers of nature that made and ruled life were propitiated by maddening invocations, by riotous dances, and by human sacrifice.

The bonfires which fill so large a part in the modern festivals have been casually mentioned. Originally they were no mere feux de joie, but had a terrible meaning, which the customs connected with them preserve. At the Highland Beltaine, a cake was divided by lot, and whoever drew the “burnt piece” was obliged to leap three times over the flames. At the midsummer bonfires in Ireland all passed through the fire; the men when the flames were highest, the women when they were lower, and the cattle when there was nothing left but smoke. In Wales, upon the last day of October, the old Samhain, there was a slightly different, and still more suggestive rite. The hill-top bonfires were watched until they were announced to be extinct. Then all would race headlong down the hill, shouting a formula to the effect that the devil would get the hindmost. The devil of a new belief is the god of the one it has supplanted; in all three instances, the custom was no mere meaningless horse-play, but a symbolical human sacrifice.

A similar observance, but of a more cruel kind, was kept up in France upon St. John’s Day, until forbidden by law in the reign of Louis the Fourteenth. Baskets containing living wolves, foxes, and cats were burned upon the bonfires, under the auspices and in the presence of the sheriffs or the mayor of the town. 1 Caesar noted the custom among the druids of constructing huge wicker-work images, which they filled with living men, and set on fire, and it can hardly be doubted that the wretched wolves, foxes, and cats were ceremonial substitutes for human beings.

An ingenious theory was invented, after the introduction of Christianity, with the purpose of allowing such ancient rites to continue, with a changed meaning. The passing of persons and cattle through flame or smoke was explained as a practice which interposed a magic protection between them and the powers of evil. This homoeopathic device of using the evil power’s own sacred fire as a means of protection against himself somewhat suggests that seething of the kid in its mother’s milk which was reprobated by the Levitical law; but, no doubt, pagan “demons” were considered fair game. The explanation, of course, is an obviously and clumsily forced one; it was the grim druidical philosophy that–to quote Caesar–”unless the life of man was repaid for the life of man, the will of the immortal gods could not be appeased” that dictated both the national and the private human sacrifices of the Celts, the shadows of which remain in the leaping through the bonfires, and in the numerous recorded sacrifices of cattle within quite recent times.

Mr. Laurence Gomme, in his Ethnology in Folk-lore, has collected many modern instances of the sacrifices of cattle not only in Ireland and Scotland, but also in Wales, Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man. 1 “Within twenty miles of the metropolis of Scotland a relative of Professor Simpson offered up a live cow as a sacrifice to the spirit of the murrain.” 2 In Wales, when cattle-sickness broke out, a bullock was immolated by being thrown down from the top of a high rock. Generally, however, the wretched victims were burned alive. In 1859 an Isle of Man farmer offered a heifer as a burnt offering near Tynwald Hill, to avert the anger of the ghostly occupant of a barrow which had been desecrated by opening. Sometimes, even, these burnt oblations were offered to an alleged Christian saint. The registers of the Presbytery of Dingwall for the years 1656 and 1678 contain records of the sacrifices of cattle upon the site of an ancient temple in honour of a being whom some called “St. Mourie”, and others, perhaps knowing his doubtful character, “ane god Mourie”. 1 At Kirkcudbright, it was St. Cuthbert, and at Clynnog, in Wales, it was St. Beuno, who was thought to delight in the blood of bulls. 2 Such sacrifices of cattle appear mainly to have been offered to stay plague among cattle. Man for man and beast for beast, was, perhaps, the old rule. But among all nations, human sacrifices have been gradually commuted for those of animals. The family of the O’Herlebys in Ballyvorney, County Cork, used in olden days to keep an idol, “an image of wood about two feet high, carved and painted like a woman”. 3 She was the goddess of smallpox, and to her a sheep was immolated on behalf of anyone seized with that disease.

The third form of Celtic pagan survival is found in numerous instances of the adoration of water, trees, stones, and animals. Like the other “Aryan” nations, the Celts worshipped their rivers. The Dee received divine honours as a war-goddess with the title of Aerfon, while the Ribble, under its name of Belisama, was identified by the Romans with Minerva. 4 Myths were told of them, as of the sacred streams of Greece. The Dee gave oracles as to the results of the perpetual wars between the Welsh and the English; as its stream encroached either upon the Welsh or the English side, so one nation or the other would be victorious. 1 The Tweed, like many of the Greek rivers, was credited with human descendants. 2 That the rivers of Great Britain received human sacrifices is clear from the folklore concerning many of them. Deprived of their expected offerings, they are believed to snatch by stealth the human lives for which they crave. “River of Dart, River of Dart, every year thou claimest a heart,” runs the Devonshire folk-song. The Spey, too, requires a life yearly, 3 but the Spirit of the Ribble is satisfied with one victim at the end of every seven years. 4

Evidence, however, of the worship of rivers is scanty compared with that of the adoration of wells. “In the case of well-worship,” says Mr. Gomme, “it may be asserted with some confidence that it prevails in every county of the three kingdoms.” 5 He finds it most vital in the Gaelic counties, somewhat less so in the British, and almost entirely wanting in the Teutonic south-east. So numerous, indeed, are “holy wells” that several monographs have been written solely upon them. 6 In some cases these wells were resorted to for the cure of diseases; in others, to obtain change of weather, or “good luck”. Offerings were made to them, to propitiate their guardian gods or nymphs. Pennant tells us that in olden times the rich would sacrifice one of their horses at a well near Abergeleu, to secure a blessing upon the rest. 1 Fowls were offered at St Tegla’s Well, near Wrexham, by epileptic patients. 2 But of late years the well-spirits have had to be content with much smaller tributes–such trifles as pins, rags, coloured pebbles, and small coins.

With sacred wells were often connected sacred trees, to whose branches rags and small pieces of garments were suspended by their humble votaries. Sometimes, where the ground near the well was bare of vegetation, bushes were artificially placed beside the water. The same people who venerated wells and trees would pay equal adoration to sacred stones. Lord Roden, describing, in 1851, the Island of Inniskea, off the coast of Mayo, asserts that a sacred well called “Derrivla” and a sacred stone called “Neevougi”, which was kept carefully wrapped up in flannel and brought out at certain periods to be publicly adored, seemed to be the only deities known to that lone Atlantic island’s three hundred inhabitants. 3 It sounds incredible; but there is ample evidence of the worship of fetish stones by quite modern inhabitants of our islands. The Clan Chattan kept such a stone in the Isle of Arran; it was believed, like the stone of Inniskea, to be able to cure diseases, and was kept carefully “wrapped up in fair linen cloth, and about that there was a piece of woollen cloth”. 4 Similarly, too, the worship of wells was connected with the worship of animals. At a well in the “Devil’s Causeway”, between Ruckley and Acton, in Shropshire, lived, and perhaps still live, four frogs who were, and perhaps still are, believed to be “the devil and his imps”–that is to say, gods or demons of a proscribed idolatry. 1 In Ireland such guardian spirits are usually fish–trout, eels, or salmon thought to be endowed with eternal life. 2 The genius of a well in Banffshire took the form of a fly, which was also said to be undying, but to transmigrate from body to body. Its function was to deliver oracles; according as it seemed active or lethargic, its votaries drew their omens. 3 It is needless to multiply instances of a still surviving cult of water, trees, stones, and animals. Enough to say that it would be easy. What concerns us is that we are face to face in Britain with living forms of the oldest, lowest, most primitive religion in the world–one which would seem to have been once universal, and which, crouching close to the earth, lets other creeds blow over it without effacing it, and outlives one and all of them.

It underlies the three great world-religions, and still forms the real belief of perhaps the majority of their titular adherents. It is characteristic of the wisdom of the Christian Church that, knowing its power, she sought rather to sanctify than to extirpate it. What once were the Celtic equivalents of the Greek “fountains of the nymphs” were consecrated as “holy wells”. The process of so adopting them began early. St. Columba, when he went in the sixth century to convert the Picts, found a spring which they worshipped as a god; he blessed it, and “from that day the demon separated from the water”. 1 Indeed, he so sanctified no less than three hundred such springs. 2 Sacred stones were equally taken under the ægis of Christianity. Some were placed on the altars of cathedrals, others built into consecrated walls. The animal gods either found themselves the heroes of Christian legends, or where, for some reason, such adoption was hopeless, were proclaimed “witches’ animals”, and dealt with accordingly. Such happened to the hare, a creature sacred to the ancient Britons, 3 but now in bad odour among the superstitious. The wren, too, is hunted to death upon St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland. Its crime is said to be that it has “a drop of the de’il’s blood in it”, but the real reason is probably to be found in the fact that the Irish druids used to draw auguries from its chirpings.

We have made in this volume some attempt to draw a picture of the ancient religion of our earliest ancestors, the Gaelic and the British Celts. We have shown what can be gathered of the broken remnants of a mythology as splendid in conception and as brilliant in colour as that of the Greeks. We have tried to paint its divine figures, and to retell their heroic stories. We have seen them fall from their shrines, and yet, rising again, take on new lives as kings, or saints, or knights of romance, and we have caught fading glimpses of them surviving to-day as the “fairies”, their rites still cherished by worshippers who hardly know who or why they worship. Of necessity this survey has been brief and incomplete. Whether the great edifice of the Celtic mythology will ever be wholly restored one can at present only speculate. Its colossal fragments are perhaps too deeply buried and too widely scattered. But, even as it stands ruined, it is a mighty quarry from which poets yet unborn will hew spiritual marble for houses not made with hands.


399:1 In the year 55 B.C.
399:2 Strabo, Book IV, chap. IV.
400:1 Annals, Book XIV, chap. XXX.
400:2 Natural History, Book XXX.
401:1 Gildas. See Six Old English Chronicles–Bohn’s Libraries.
403:1 Rennell Rodd: Customs and Lore of Modern Greece. Stuart Glennie: Greek Folk Songs.
403:2 Charles Godfrey Leland: Etruscan Roman Remains in Popular Tradition.
404:1 Rhys: Celtic Folklore, p. 670; Curtin: Tales of the Fairies and of the Ghost World; and Mr. Leland Duncan’s Fairy Beliefs from County Leitrim in Folklore, June, 1896.
407:1 The Mabinogi of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed.
407:2 The story of Lludd and Llevelys.
407:3 Kulhwch and Olwen.
407:4 Morte Darthur, Book XIX, chaps. I and II.
408:1 Henry VIII, act V, scene 3.
408:2 Rhys: Hibbert Lectures, p. 54.
408:3 Ibid., p. 516.
409:1 A good account of the Irish festivals is given by Lady Wilde in her Ancient Legends of Ireland, pp. 193-221.
410:1 Pennant: A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides, 1772.
410:2 Martin: Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, 1695.
411:1 Gaidoz: Esquisse de la Réligion des Gaulois, p. 21.
412:1 Gomme: Ethnology in Folklore, pp, 136-139.
412:2 Ibid., p. 137.
413:1 Mitchell: The Past in the Present, pp. 271, 275.
413:2 Elton: Origins of English History, p. 284.
413:3 Gomme: Ethnology in Folklore, p. 140.
413:4 The word Dee probably meant “divinity”. The river was also called Dyfridwy, i.e. “water of the divinity”. See Rhys: Lectures on Welsh Philology, p. 307.
414:1 Rhys: Celtic Britain, p. 68.
414:2 Rogers: Social Life in Scotland, chap. III, p. 336.
414:3 Folklore, chap. III, p. 72.
414:4 Henderson: Folklore of Northern Counties, p. 265.
414:5 Gomme: Ethnology in Folklore, p. 78.
414:6 Hope: Holy Wells of England; Harvey: Holy Wells of Ireland.
415:1 Sikes: British Goblins, p. 351.
415:2 Ibid., p. 329.
415:3 Roden: Progress of the Reformation in Ireland, pp. 51-54.
415:4 Martin: Description of the Western Islands, pp. 166-226.
416:1 Burne: Shropshire Folklore, p. 416.
416:2 Gomme: Ethnology in Folklore, pp. 92-93.
416:3 Ibid., p. 102.
417:1 Adamnan’s Vita Columbæ.
417:2 Dr. Whitley Stokes: Three Middle Irish Homilies.
417:3 Caesar: De Bello Gallico, Book V, chap. XII.

Poetry From The Great Circle – Winter Solstice

“One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
– Wallace Stevens, Snow Man

“That’s no December sky!
Surely ’tis June
Holds now her state on high
Queen of the noon.

Only the tree-tops bare
Crowning the hill,
Clear-cut in perfect air,
Warn us that still

Winter, the aged chief,
Mighty in power,
Exiles the tender leaf,
Exiles the flower.”
– Robert Fuller Murray (1863-1894), A December Day

“On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
waiting all its life, snow says, “Let me cover you.”
– Laura Lush, The First Day of Winter

“While snow the window-panes bedim,
The fire curls up a sunny charm,
Where, creaming o’er the pitcher’s rim,
The flowering ale is set to warm;
Mirth, full of joy as summer bees,
Sits there, its pleasures to impart,
And children, ‘tween their parent’s knees,
Sing scraps of carols o’er by heart.”
– John Clare, December

“How bittersweet it is, on winter’s night,
To listen, by the sputtering, smoking fire,
As distant memories, through the fog-dimmed light,
Rise, to the muffled chime of churchbell choir.”
– Charles Baudelaire, The Cracked Bell

Loreena McKennitt – The Mummers’ Dance

Musings On The Coming Solstice…

“The Lord of Misrule – December 17th. This is the first day of the Roman festival Saturnalia. It was a period of great
feasting and festivity, with a lot of drinking and eating. Slaves would become masters for the festival, and everything
was turned upside down. This part of the Roman festival survived into the 17th Century.”

“Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.” -Yule Lore

Winter Solstice, 2010
So… we had our Solstice Gathering this Saturday. Nice crowd of people, about 50, or just short of that. We had many of the old crowd, and several new comers, it was very nice. Rowan has been taking more of the lead for our fire ceremony, and I am now moving towards being the Lord of Misrule. 80) I have always been fascinated by the Saturnalian aspects of the season, and next years gathering may be quite different. There is some discussion going on about this, as some feel it is just fine the way it is.

Part of the Ceremony that sticks with me is the lighting of candles for those that passed away this year. It was a focus this year, the most we have ever had it seems. There needs to be an honouring IMPOV of those who have departed. A couple of the people that lit candles told me how they were relieved to be able to acknowledge their loss within the setting we provide at the Solstice Gathering. I am happy that we can do that.

Every year, we recite Robert Grave’s “To Juan at the Winter Solstice”… you can find it in our Poetry Section below. Some how it captures the magickal parts of the season quite well.

We had people here until 3:00, we finished up the evening with Absinthe, which has been a long tradition here at Caer Llwydd. This was the first year that it wasn’t The Wizards Absinthe, as he couldn’t do his batch this year due to health issues that we covered earlier. Hopefully next year!

What is extra special about Solstice this year is the Full Lunar Eclipse. If I understand correctly, this is the first in several centuries! I am hoping for the cloud cover to lift here! What a treat!

One of the quieter moments… later on. My photography sucked this year, in quite a major way.

Heather, Mary, Victor, with Ethan Photo-Bombing the moment…

On The Menu:
Thoughts On The Season…
Hildegard Von Bingen – Vision
Poetry Of The Season
Corvus Corax – Tourdion


Thoughts On The Season…
“The Holly King, represents the Death aspect of the God at this time of year; and the Oak King, represents the opposite aspect of Rebirth (these roles are reversed at Midsummer). This can be likened to the Divine Child’s birth. The myth of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred. The Oak King (God of the Waxing Year) kills the Holly King (God of the Waning Year) at Yule (the Winter Solstice). The Oak King then reigns supreme until Litha (the Summer Solstice) when the two battle again, this time with the Holly King victorious. Examples of the Holly King’s image can be seen in our modern Santa Claus.” -Yule Lore

“The birth of the Persian hero and sun-god Mithra was celebrated on December 25th. The myth tells that he sprang up full-grown from a rock, armed with a knife and carrying a torch. Shepherds watched his miraculous appearance and hurried to greet him with their first fruits and their flocks and their harvests. His cult spread throughout Roman lands during the 2nd century. In 274, the Emperor Aurelian declared December 25th the Birthday of Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable Sun) in Rome.”

“The Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter, occurs around December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern hemisphere, and June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. It occurs on the shortest day or longest night of the year, sometimes said to astronomically mark the beginning or middle of a hemisphere’s winter. The word solstice derives from Latin, Winter Solstice meaning Sun set still in winter. Worldwide, interpretation of the event varies from culture to culture, but most hold a recognition of rebirth, involving festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations. Many cultures celebrate or celebrated a holiday near the winter solstice; examples of these include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, Pongal, Yalda and many other festivals of light. The solstice itself may have remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since neolithic times. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archeological sites like Stonehenge and New Grange in the British Isles. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line framing the winter solstice sunrise (New Grange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not assured to live through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January to April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climes, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was nearly the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve.”

Poetry Of The Season

“Come, come thou bleak December wind,
And blow the dry leaves from the tree!
Flash, like a Love-thought, thro’me, Death
And take a Life that wearies me.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, Fragment 3

“A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,
Ten thousand paths, with no person’s tracks.
A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.”
– Liu Zhongyuan, River Snow

“Earth, mountains, rivers – hidden in this nothingness.
In this nothingness – earth, mountains, rivers revealed.
Spring flowers, winter snows:
There’s no being or non-being, nor denial itself.”
– Saisho

“Lighting one candle
from another –
Winter night”
– Buson

“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ring Out, Wild Bells

“In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.”
– John Keats, In Drear-Nighted December

“You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything;
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them!—
powers and people—
and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.
I have faith in nights.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, On Darkness

To Juan At The Winter Solstice

There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether are learned bard or gifted child;
To it all lines or lesser gauds belong
That startle with their shining
Such common stories as they stray into.

Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues,
Or strange beasts that beset you,
Of birds that croak at you the Triple will?
Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns
Below the Boreal Crown,
Prison of all true kings that ever reigned?

Water to water, ark again to ark,
From woman back to woman:
So each new victim treads unfalteringly
The never altered circuit of his fate,
Bringing twelve peers as witness
Both to his starry rise and starry fall.

Or is it of the Virgin’s silver beauty,
All fish below the thighs?
She in her left hand bears a leafy quince;
When, with her right she crooks a finger smiling,
How may the King hold back?
Royally then he barters life for love.

Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched,
Whose coils contain the ocean,
Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,
Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,
Battles three days and nights,
To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore?

Much snow is falling, winds roar hollowly,
The owl hoots from the elder,
Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:
Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.
The log groans and confesses
There is one story and one story only.

Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling,
Do not forget what flowers
The great boar trampled down in ivy time.
Her brow was creamy as the crested wave,
Her sea-blue eyes were wild
But nothing promised that is not performed.
There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether are learned bard or gifted child;
To it all lines or lesser gauds belong
That startle with their shining
Such common stories as they stray into.

Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues,
Or strange beasts that beset you,
Of birds that croak at you the Triple will?
Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns
Below the Boreal Crown,
Prison of all true kings that ever reigned?

Water to water, ark again to ark,
From woman back to woman:
So each new victim treads unfalteringly
The never altered circuit of his fate,
Bringing twelve peers as witness
Both to his starry rise and starry fall.

Or is it of the Virgin’s silver beauty,
All fish below the thighs?
She in her left hand bears a leafy quince;
When, with her right she crooks a finger smiling,
How may the King hold back?
Royally then he barters life for love.

Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched,
Whose coils contain the ocean,
Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,
Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,
Battles three days and nights,
To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore?

Much snow is falling, winds roar hollowly,
The owl hoots from the elder,
Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:
Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.
The log groans and confesses
There is one story and one story only.

Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling,
Do not forget what flowers
The great boar trampled down in ivy time.
Her brow was creamy as the crested wave,
Her sea-blue eyes were wild
But nothing promised that is not performed.
Corvus Corax – Tourdion

Light Entry

Light Entry…

The Macro…
A week of discoveries and wonders. Alien Life found in Mono Lake, Wiki Leaks opening up the dark underbelly of US diplomacy and policy… and so much more.

I was deeply moved to find that there is a wider view of the possibilities of life in just one week. Perhaps the story of this century so far, and I think it is very under-reported, or at least appreciated. Along with the fact that there were echoes of something going on before the so called “Big Bang”… we have had a moment in time of incredible depth and opening of vistas. Life will not be bound by narrow viewpoints and designations (and never was) we are now entering the realm of “Shadow Biologies”… what will come next IMPOV will be a deep expansion of consciousness in these areas…

The storm around Wikileaks continues to grow. There are thousands upon thousands of articles out there on this, but I have to say that we are watching a revolution equivalent to the Gutenberg Bible emerging. (a possible over statement…80} ) Anyway, this is bigger than what “The Vietnam Papers” were back when Daniel Ellsberg did his duty. Although WikiLeaks gets the brunt/credit publically, I think we should tip the hat to Bradley Manning for taking this action in the first place. If we are to lose our privacy and rights as we have been in the process of over the last 10 years, I see no reason that the Empire should have clothes… Damn the notion that the state knows what is best for us. Seeing the mess in the world, one could posit in many different ways from this line of reasoning.

The Micro…

Saturday: I have to say… it has been a week of it. Helped celebrate Morgan Miller’s Birthday on Tuesday at Bushwacker Cider, a nice cider house right here in Portland! Made some connections with friends and people I hadn’t seen for awhile.

After Thanksgiving work came in, I succumbed to our littlest vector’s cold that he shared at Thanksgiving, and generally have been out of my usual loop.

It the midst of all that we (Mary and I) painted the living room, I have been working on the magazine, and laying low when I can. Lots of sleep. When I have a cold (or what ever the heck it is), I just kinda sink with the gippy chest. I started to develop this chest with growing up in a household of smokers. Then of course I did the dumb and smoked like a chimney for 18 years. Throw in some pneumonia on top of that, and you have a chest that has a flashing “Welcome!” sign to any stray microbe looking for a home. I passed up a party tonight so I wouldn’t dispense the wealth to the unsuspecting, it was the least I could do. It’s getting better but I sound not quite myself. Take care of your health, it is a precious commodity if that is the right word.

Sunday: The Magazine: Last stage of assembly, the last bits are in from our people out there. Redoing a couple of pages as I had a fixation on “My Little Rainbow Pony” colour scheme is seems. Sent Rowan screaming from the room. So, that is being repaired.

It seems that someone tagged our Poetry Post last night. Sad but true. Painting over the stuff tomorrow if it is warm enough. I am putting up a pad with pencil so they can submit poems instead. Do ya think that will work?

So looking forward to The Solstice. I need a bit of light here in the cave.

Bright Blessings,
On The Menu:

“Sufi” Sam Lewis Quotes
Lisa Gerrard – Come Tenderness
A Tryptamine Expedition
Li Po Poems
Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke “Sacrifice”
I was blessed with being in the company of Sam Lewis for a time before he passed. From early 1969, until late 1970 I sat in on classes and attended the dances when I could get down to the Bay Area… He was a wise and gentle soul, and he had a great sense of humour to go with it!

“Sufi” Sam Lewis Quotes:

“Forget yourself, get into the spirit of song, rise and fall on the waves of ecstasy, and express [your] pure being. Then you escape all differences, all divisions, all duality, all pain, all sorrow.”

“Words are not peace. Thoughts are not peace. Plans are not peace. Programs are not peace. Peace is fundamental to all faiths. Peace is fullness, all inclusive…and must be experienced.”

“One of the reasons I am teaching this music and dancing is to increase Joy, not awe towards another person, but bliss in our own self. This is finding God within, through experience.”

“Thinking is more stinking than drinking, but to feel is for real. ”

“The question about the New Age is: If it is to be anarchical, it will destroy the present society — that will go away — but to what purpose? And if we have the feeling of one in the spirit, we will build up a New Age, even a New Jerusalem because I believe God works through man, not through chance. .
Still love her work after all these years…

Lisa Gerrard – Come Tenderness

A blast from the past…. Gracie and Zarkov helped to re-awaken me to the DMT state after having visited it way back when. Articulate, smart and poetic
A Tryptamine Expedition
by Gracie and Zarkov


This paper is about the strangest trip that we have ever had. Furthermore, in our discussions with other experienced heads it became clear that this trip was one of the more peculiar trips that we have even heard of! That in and of itself might not warrant an article. However, the possible implications of this trip are such that we have decided to write about our experience to add to the store of ‘stubborn empirical fact’ that make up psychedelic phenomenology.

We are also aware that this trip was outlandish enough that its retelling may cause our readers to believe that we finally have either lost it or are resorting to creative writing. We would like to assure our readers that what you are about to read happened exactly as described (within the limits of our powers of observation).

In this paper we give a description of the trip, our beliefs concerning the phenomenology, and our tentative conclusions regarding our experience. It seems impractical to reproduce the entire trip narrative written right after the experience since it runs to twenty typewritten pages. Therefore, this paper is a highly condensed version of the trip narrative.


The weekend prior to our strange experience, Grace had decided to take 5 grams of potent stropharia mushrooms by herself. While it is common practice for us to trip together, Zarkov’s high dose mushroom trips have been uniformly negative ever since he established contact with certain insectoid creatures who claimed to have engineered the mushroom for their own purposes. (See, High Frontiers, Issue no. 2 and Note no. 8). Gracie was going in alone to perform reconaissance. After ahout an hour and one half of arguing with the voice and being unable to see any visions, she began to ‘interview’ the voice which seemed quite amenable to questioning. Gracie called in Zarkov and together we interviewed the voice in Gracie’s head for about two hours. One of the raps was that Gracie had trouble entering the vision state because she hadn’t practiced enough visualization and was afraid to leave her body.

Now it is true that despite how much talk there is about how hard it is to get into the far-out mushroom states, Zarkov would just ‘fall down the rabbit hole’ on any dose over 3 grams without knowing how he did it, while Gracie had much more elusive contact with the mushroom vision states even at doses in the 10 gram range. However, given Gracie’s consistent ability to see the ‘visible language’ on DMT (which Zarkov has so far only briefly glimpsed) and her other visionary experiences on DMT, this rap seemed rather unlikely.

But, the mushroom voice held cut hope. Gracie should practice building a fantasy world in her head and maybe, if we both took mushrooms together, she could ‘show’ her fantasy world to Zarkov. Zarkov was extremely skeptical of the whole rap. It seemed very enticing and very unlike his experiences with the mushrooms. That week Zarkov went to the East coast on business and left Gracie to work on her fantasy world.

Upon Zarkov’s return on Friday, Gracie announced that she had worked diligently on her fantasy world and would like to show it to Zarkov that weekend using mushrooms. The only description she gave of the world was that it was a barbarian bronze age planet run by Goddess-worshipping group of priestesses and that he was cast as a high-tech off-worlder.

Zarkov was apprehensive, since he didn’t want another ‘alien space wars’ trip on the mushroom. The experimental protocol that we agreed on was to do a DMT shot at noon on Saturday and if the experience seemed positive, to take the mushrooms later in the day. The first shot was inconclusive because Zarkov didn’t get off but he did get a terrific case of the tryptamine giggles. He decided to take another dose. The visions in the noontime sunlight were exquisite. Over the next half hour, we each consumed betweeen 100 and 150 mg of DMT in four separate ‘trips’. The experience for Zarkov had been glorious. His relationship with the DMT over the last four months of regular usage had been uniformly positive even when it had been terrifying. The idea had came into his head (from where?) that by presaturating himself with the DMT, his previous problems with the mushroom could be avoided.

We had fasted since Friday night and had been especially careful with our diets all week. At 2:00 PM, we both took 5 gms of potent stropharia mushrooms. We washed down the ‘shrooms with ginger ale. We stayed in the bright sunlight until the closed eye visions began to come on strongly (about 30 mlnutes). We then went into our darkened trip room.

The basic phenomena of the trip were as highlighted below.

Gracie saw none of the visions described below. In fact, she saw no visions during the trip. She was high and the trip roam took on a beautiful jewelled quality. She had no tendency to drift into a trance even though she had taken the same dosage of DMT and mushrooms as Zarkov.

Zarkov could not resist the trance. Strangely, he could talk with ease but could not maintain any other semblance of contact with reality. Any attempt to do so resulted in overwhelming stomach cramps, full body shivers, vertigo and throbbing headache. All of these body symptoms went away if he paid attention to the trance state.
Zarkov’s first vision was a stadium full of hostile giant insect creatures that he was familiar with from previous mushroom trips. However, immediately the DMT ‘banshee’ creatures floated in and sang this message, ‘Aren’t they a dull and pompous bunch! But don’t worry, they can’t get at you because we are here.’ These ‘banshee’ creatures were a common occurance in Zarkov’s DMT trips. [imagine a picture of two smiling banshees here… my ascii-art capabilities just aren’t up to reproducing them -cak]

The Trip: Content and Comments
The next series of visions were of various aliens that seemed to be trying to sell Zarkov various visions. The banshees continued to accompany the visions and offer comment.

At about the chemical peak of the trip (one hour), the house had a rash of poltergeist phenomena that were jointly observed by both of us. Furthermore, the cats noticed them and followed them as they made their way through the house. The banshees advised Zarkov not to worry about them because ‘things like this happen.’ This was the last point in the trip where Zarkov could maintain contact with ordinary reality.

The banshees formed a gate next to an alien selling visions indicating that Zarkov should ‘buy into’ this vision.
By ‘going’ through the gate, Zarkov found himself someplace else.

This some place else was another world. It no longer seemed like a psychedelic vision, but rather it seemed like a real world. The sun felt warm; when it went down Zarkov felt cool. To move around it was necessary to walk. Wherever he looked, there was a realistic amount of detail. No insubstantial visions, just a real world wherever Zarkov looked. He could eat, walk, swim, fuck and talk to the other characters.

The world was Gracie’s fantasy world. Even though she couldn’t see it, Zarkov’s verbal description matched her world. She could give instructions to Zarkov that he could follow to get around.

The world was a bronze-age city. In the background were green and fertile mountains. The architecture was of massive granite blocks with a poured concrete look about them. The style was neoclassical crossed with Minoan with a touch of Jack Vance. The mise-en-scene made sense and did not appear contrived. The aesthetic sensibility, while of the wretched excess school, was coherent. It was the most beautiful place Zarkov had ever seen, in shades of pink, mauve, purple and gold.
The story line was that of the wierdest heavy metal video ever designed. There were barbaric artifacts and luxury items all over. The world was inhabited by buxom, bottom-heavy, voluptuous nymphos. Zarkov found himself in an elaborate caped outfit, somewhere between Darth Vadar and Ming the Merciless. His entourage was a group of cretinous, long-haired sleazos in heavy metal dress and carrying guitars. The trip consisted of a tour through the city from the wharf to the main temple where a three-day orgy took place.

The world somehow seemed like an isomorphic metaphor to Gracie’s personality structure.

The world was coherent and consistent. It had internal rules as inexorable as the ‘natural laws’ on earth.
It had its own linear time. Subjectively, Zarkov spent three days in the world. Yet this voyaqe was encompassed in a normal six-hour mushroom trip. Furthermore, any attempt to reestablish contact with earth left huge gaps in the story since the world proceeded at its own pace, even if Zarkov wasn’t paying attention.
It did not seem like telepathy or a projection from Gracie’s head. Rather, we believe that somehow the fantasy world was lifted from Gracie’s head and placed in the tryptamine ‘library of all time and space’ where Zarkov ‘read out the diskette .

The only psychedelic aspect to the world was the continual presence of the DMT banshees, albeit they were ‘disguised’ as a sort of observer/chorus as bats, orchids, etc., throughout the experience.

The DMT acted as a tuner of some sort for the mushroom experience. Certain aspects of the vision seemed characteristically DMT, like the banshees, the extreme time dilation, and the bejewelled colors. The mushroom contributed the epic quality, the exfoliating details and the practical joke quality of the whole set-up.
Such an experience, if controllable, would be extremely useful to a shaman trying to treat mental illness. He could walk through the streets of his patient’s mind without the verbal filter of analysis. It might even be possible to make changes in the landscape to effect a cure. The demons lurking in the shadows would be a constant danger, ‘You might not come back.’

Zarkov has not attempted to repeat the experience. Gracie, however, has used the DMT predose before a lower dose of mushrooms (3 grams) and found herself in an irresistible trance with a series of faint visions. This was outdoors at night with a friend who did the same mix and also found herself in a trance, although her visions remained state-bound.

We don’t know what Zarkov’s vision means or how he got there, but we encourage anyone with visionary tendencies to try exploring these modes.

Copyright August 1985 by Gracie and Zarkov Productions. We believe that in a truly free society the price of packaged information would be driven down to the cost of reproduction and transmission. We, therefore, give blanket permission and encourage photocopy, quotation, reprint or entry into a database of all or part of our articles provided that the copier or quoter does not take credit for our statements.
One of my favourite Chinese poets. I would of liked to have sat with him.
Li Po Poems

Autumn Air

The autumn air is clear,
The autumn moon is bright.
Fallen leaves gather and scatter,
The jackdaw perches and starts anew.
We think of each other- when will we meet?
This hour, this night, my feelings are hard.

Alone Looking At The Mountain

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other –
Only the mountain and I.

Green Mountain

You ask me why I live on Green Mountain ?
I smile in silence and the quiet mind.
Peach petals blow on mountain streams
To earths and skies beyond Humankind.

The Old Dust

The living is a passing traveler;
The dead, a man come home.
One brief journey betwixt heaven and earth,
Then, alas! we are the same old dust of ten thousand ages.

The rabbit in the moon pounds the medicine in vain;
Fu-sang, the tree of immortality,
has crumbled to kindling wood.
Man dies, his white bones are dumb without a word

When the green pines feel the coming of the spring.
Looking back, I sigh;
Looking before, I sigh again.
What is there to prize in the life’s vaporous glory?

Clearing At Dawn

The fields are chill, the sparse rain has stopped;
The colours of Spring teem on every side.
With leaping fish the blue pond is full;
With singing thrushes the green boughs droop.
The flowers of the field have dabbled their powdered cheeks;
The mountain grasses are bent level at the waist.
By the bamboo stream the last fragment of cloud
Blown by the wind slowly scatters away.
Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke “Sacrifice”