Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dark lunar blessings and the fox among the hounds.

Green turns to muted gold as the cycle of the year continues, Mr Barleycorn grows in strength awaiting his fate and there is a lethargy in the air that high summer only brings, bovine herds graze upon lush meadows blissfully unaware of the loss of the one who with love helped them into this world.
Life continues and I am reminded of the beauty and resilience of the human condition, the darkness that surrounds our home has lifted somewhat, the needs of the land once more take precedence over grief, life has to go on.
I feel that those who have that connection to the land, agriculture, farming in general and the craft, may find that by necessity the mourning process is shorter than for those without such blessings, an inbuilt understanding of the cyclical nature of this world, life and death may hold less of a mystery for those who choose to truly live with it day in and day out, for myself, linked through the craft and my working life this is true, often seemed to be callous by those who perhaps have not had the opportunities that I have had, my thoughts of those past are constantly there, acceptance of another's fate is not so cutting for me.

The loaf mass will most likely take part at the darkening of the moon, instinct and need will most appropriately be my guide, despite the above, my celebration will be coloured by the life and passing of another, maybe joined within ritual as can often be the case ,a celebration it will be none the less, the wheat that arrived in my garden as a blessing ( or perhaps as chicken food) has yet to become the alchemical wonder, and when he turns bright with his gold, ready with the knife I shall be to fell him.
There is work to be done, the witch bottle in my window has become black, perhaps an offence has been caused I know not as yet, there is another who by his actions and inactions encourages the Blackthorn to sing to me, on that issue I am still seeking guidance, ethics and the right to intercede on another's behalf without their knowledge, a tricky area and a highly complicated issue, abuse of an innocent cannot go unpunished, integrity and trust are the virtues of restraint thus far, I will also not be governed by anger or hatred and with all such matters endeavour not to do so.

On a lighter note The Cunning Man and his beloved are off to the big smoke for the launch of Where Witchcraft Lives in September, the accommodation booked so only travel to arrange, looking forward to the day with a certain degree of trepidation, as the launch takes place at A day for Gerald b Gardner and Wiccan I am not, there are many good ones out there , I readily admit and thank the man for his contributions, there are few even within traditional craft that have not been influenced by him in at least a small way, even embracing some ideas as evolution of the craft is important.
So hope to meet some nice people up there, if any who read my observations would like to say hello I would be happy to make your acquaintance, look for the man in black who looks like a fox who has just walked into the huntsman's kennels.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Cunning man's house of tolerance.

The oppressive heat of the burning sun, together with the emotional turmoil of recent times has given way to summer storms and welcome relief from some of this months tension, the land that was fastly turning a shade of brown is once more resplendent in its coat of emerald cloth, nature breaths a sigh as sustenance pours down apon her from the heavens and fruit is born to the jungle that dwells within the house of glass, as the Devil's Apples now also green begin to turn to their scarlet hues.

Soon the rites of Lammas shall once more be upon us, I for one require the need for ritual focus, the pressures of work and other social commitments have left me with a void in that department, communion has been little and I await the festival with the excitement of a child, Hecate's own son in the time of Mr. John Barleycorn shall fell and cry the neck.

The questions of faith yet continue to perplex and confuse this student of Cunning, If one has true faith and has required the necessary knowledge to make it work for them, then that individual will not be threatened by the faith or the uncertainties of others, regardless of the origins of that others belief, to state that your way is the only way shows a lack of personal belief, to refuse to except that what works for one may not work for another is a sign of complete ignorance.

Of course acceptance of other opinions by the Semitic or Abrahamic faiths is by their own rules not allowed, as these faiths are governed by scriptures and rules that must be followed (usually to suit themselves at their own convenience), this fact does not mean that we do not have the ability to accept the beliefs and opinions of them, indeed there are lessons to be learned from the scriptures and holy books of the new religions, as well as those produced by our own.

For many years I studied the nature of my native land, all aspects seen and unseen, trying to piece together bits of the old faith, alone pretty much, but with the aid of reconstructed “British” pagan rituals and Ideas, ignoring the Deities of other lands in order that I should connect better with those of my own soil, supposing this is how it might work, paying to much attention to the wrong people, attempting to bring order to that which demands chaos, looking at reconstructs and not trusting instinct.

This was the beginning of this fools journey, when you build a house you start with foundations, this is a truth, for without solid foundation the house may easily fall, A house of straw, a house of sticks and finally a house of bricks, still not all was right, it worked but there were leaking holes in the roof.

In order to find the holes and make my faith absolute I had to look else where, to other faiths and systems, to compare the truths found there with my own findings, the world over there are more similarities within spiritual beliefs than there are discrepancies, it is often only the methods that differ, in many ways it makes more sense to look to those in other places to piece together the current within our own land, India, America all have systems that are more relevant to the seeker of knowledge than pieced together parts and loose assumptions, Egypt and Mediterranean ancient history, the first writings of human kind hold as much knowledge as the stone circles of our own land, and they are so similar to our own as to be completely valid, the Celtic peoples of northern Europe embraced these ideas and so should we, it is not about adopting an alien way of working but adding richness and substance to our own, fixing up the house and making it stand strong.

Bickering among our selves, creating hatred for those religions that threatened our ancestors is not an answer, neither is trying to create a fictional past life in order to give ones self credence, If every neo pagan wiccan I have met in this life was burned in a previous life, then the souls of such must have split in to many pieces, so many tales of the like I have heard, all those claiming to be in Britain at the time, few were burned here, most were hung.

We should accept and receive knowledge from all people, we must stop trying to “reclaim” what is an untruth or is not ours to reclaim, and we must never stand up and declare that our way is the only way, ignorance is lying to oneself first and ignoring the knowledge of others second.

Look at the holy books for what they are, not as an attempt to mock those who choose to follow the rules therein, but as a way of understanding why they choose to do so, there is knowledge within as a bonus. Let our tolerance and faith evolve.

Ritual form within our own community is another mine field, again many stand atop the stone to declare that their way is correct and others are but falsehoods, many of which are only re writing what others have written before, changing few words and invocations here and there, bright domes of blue fire, a popular visualisation technique and one I have used many times over the years, having to cut a door with a blunt knife in order to collect the chalice that I left outside the circle.

The circle, a sacred space cut off from the outside influence of the world, a place between the worlds, trying to work naked in this country requires working indoors most of the year demanding the presence of spirits and gods, these things I have done and were true for me once, now however they are not, that does not mean that I would ever say that these things will not work, only that they do not work for me any longer.

The outside wildness of my land, away from the new gods of computers and television, that is my sacred space, my compass is but a marker, a gate way, it is an announcement to all, it connects me to the divine, I am not prisoner within its confines and I am free to pass through its edge whenever, clothes or robes allow me to work in all seasons (mist, fog and rain here usually), there is no commanding but an invitation to those who would join with me, seen and unseen, and aid me in what I do, I would not now seek to have domination over nature or to isolate myself from its very being, intuition is my path to knowledge and there are many others who walk that path also.

A driving thirst for knowledge is the forerunner of wisdom. Knowledge is a state that all organic life posesses, wisdom is the reward of the spirit, gained in the search for knowledge. Truth is variable – what is true now, will not be true tomorrow, since the temporal truths are dependent upon ethics and social mores – therefore wisdom is possibly eternal Truth, untouched by man’s condition. So we must come to the heart of the People, a belief that is based upon Eternity, and not upon social needs or pressures – the ‘witch’ belief then is concerned with wisdom, our true name, then is the wise people and wisdom is our aim.

Robert Cochrane 1931-1966

Remember if a wall should collapse , you can rebuild, you do not require planning consent to build an extension either.

Tolerance over ignorance, love. over hate.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Medieval mayhem and the art of not haggleing

A weekend spent away from the covering storm, that is understandably set to continue here for some while into the future, the air is thick with the grief as those who mourn the departed struggle to deal with their loss and the loss to our community, time will undoubtedly heal but not within the foreseeable .

T, myself and the girls departed for the Tewkesbury Medieval festival, a welcome relief from all of last week's tragedy's, primarily we were there to trade (artwork, woodwork and Oli's smith craft), but the main reason for attending is really to party with friends who we only ever see at such events, some of who have become exceedingly dear to us.
The event is populated with the most eclectic bunch of people you would ever meet, every odd one out within normal parameters can find themselves amongst the same, the dispossessed and the rejected, those shunned and scorned from within our "normal" and overly judgemental everyday society have home and comfort among their like and kin, a chance for those with secret passions to indulge and yet not be judged, for within the legions of armoured reenactors at the evening muster can be seen those who's outfits are expressions of another side of their own nature, the hidden passions of the man who wear a ladies frock or the cloak and sabre of the Jedi order, free to parade in an environment where the participants will not persecute or judge them .
Belief and religions from every faith, both Abrahamic and the raggle taggle Pagans, stand side by side, similarities are discussed and yet the arrogant are few and far between, all the aggression of the modern towns seems to get placed in a box for the weekend, I once witnessed a drunken individual trying to start a fight at this festival a few years back, as he staggered aimlessly bumping into heavily armed and armoured people,spilling drinks, growling with alcohol fueled hatred and swearing and glowering at all in his path, not one would rise to his challenge, so thereby defeated he retired to sleep it off.
The groups that attend such events are often ridiculed by the members of the public when they are not entertaining them with reenacted battles, but we should never forget that these same are the people who keep history alive, some live as they would have in the time of the original battles, keeping the old skills of outdoor living alive and even contributing greatly to archeology by doing so, educating those who would perhaps laugh at other times, they are often intelligent well beyond normal consideration, and for many of them it creates a connection to the past and therefor an honouring of their own and all our ancestors.
This one however does not feel the need to cook myself in armour under the radiant heat of the midsummer sun while my friends hit me with swords, nor the need to wear a cocktail dress and high heels, but I am proud to be counted with those who do and all those who accept them as well, thank you all for another great weekend.

Another thing you will find at these events, is the artisan craftsmen and women who supply the weapons and costumes to the armies of medieval would haves, weavers, leather workers, blacksmiths and potters to name a few,so one is often able to pick up suitable bits of ritual kit when needed.
After last month's labouring in the hot weather I went to the festival with the hope of finding one such item, I have never owned a specific knife for ritual use, often grabbing the nearest thing from the kitchen (when needed) on my way out the door, I am enjoying the use of tools in my rituals and beginning to appreciate the idea of having such items set aside especially for that use, Ritual now has more meaning to me that when I first practised it many summers ago, so I thought I might treat myself.
Haggling over the price of such items is of course forbidden so with this in mind I set off upon my search accompanied by T, as she wanted me to make a purchase and was fully aware that if she didn't support me in my choice I would most likely return empty handed.
Up and down the rows we went, stopping often to admire some piece of art or item of worth until we came to the Smith, a coal black, knife making smith, and there it was, among the rack of grand designs, all functional and sharp, yet one stood out, bronze fittings and a handle made from bog oak, the blade itself a pattern welded or Damascus blade, beautifully shaped and definitely way out of my price range, not to mention the fact that any haggle would not be able to take place for this one.
On seeing me admiring his work, the smith removed the item from the board and placed it in my hand, he explained to me the origins of the component parts and informed me that if he was to tell the price I would most likely fall over, the temptation to make a bargain was there, time for some Cunning.
I asked how much the knife cost and nearly fell over when told, he straight away took twenty percent off the price, I then asked how best to look after such an item were I to purchase it, he told me and took off another ten percent of the cost, I thought deeply for a second then asked him how much the knife was? five more percent of the price put the blade among my ritual items.
I obeyed the law of bargaining and let fate and a little cunning lead the way, I am sure the man was happy as am I, after haggling with himself on my behalf, we both got a good deal, and played by the rules.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A dark cloud obscures a dark moon!

A black cloud has descended over the tranquility of the cunning man's abode, so a short piece by way of an elegy.
Things on a personal level are all going well, however we have learned that earlier today one of our friends was taken from this existence in an aeroplane crash, a young man in the prime of his life, leaves behind a loving family, and it is through their pain and not mine that I am writing this.
R leaves a large hole in our local community, a farmer with vision and passion for this land and the world as a whole, production on his farm paid careful attention to animal welfare, the well being of his staff and a dream to make the farm one with the earth, carbon neutrality was one of his goals, indeed it was while exploring the ideas of anaerobic digestion in Norway( in order to attain the above) that today he has met his end, these systems have been up and running in Scandinavia for a time now and that is where the accident appears to have taken place.
In this day and age when many landowners are only to happy to chase the youngsters from the countryside, R always encouraged children to do what children do, they are free to explore hedgerow , woodland and farmyard, always happy to oblige the young in last minute camping trips, giving our children the freedoms all children should be able to experience in order that they too become at one with our beautiful land, it is also he who has allowed me to be who I am, the woods and Fields are our larder, the fallen trees our heat, never one to bat an eyelid at this old witch's midnight fire.

You shall be missed by all in our household, and by others within the tribe that you have met at our annual gatherings, tonight I light my fire to you and a glass has been raised.

Travel well my friend.