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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Translating the Untranslated

If you read the English version of the Cath Maige Tuired, whether its the Stokes or Grey translation, and you compare the English versions to the Irish version you will see that several passages have not been translated at all. It may be because these sections are more difficult to understand, or lacked a poetry that the translators were aiming for, or it may be that these sections - all dealing with prophecy and battle magic - were a bit too pagan for the translators. For modern polytheists studying the material I believe these passages do have great value and so I have undertaken to learn Old Irish and attempt to translate them myself.
  For example in E. A. Gray's translation of the Cath Maige Tuired there is a section she translates as:
 "Then she said to him, "Undertake a battle of overthrowing," The Morrigan said to Lug, "Awake...." (Gray, 1982). The ellipses at the end indicate that there is an untranslated section of Irish that followed, which Gray, for whatever reason, chose to not to include. The Whitley Stokes version omits the entire passage. 
This is the passage in Old Irish from Gray's Irish Texts edition:
"Arfolmais cath mbrisi." Conid dei atppert an Morrigan fri Lug, "Diuchetrai cein cuild ansaim slaidither truasfidir troich tarret brothlach mbodhmhou indraither tuatha do agath diuchtra..."
 The following is my own translation of this passage:
"Undertake a battle of overthrowing," so sang the goddess Morrigan turning to Lug, "Awake, make a hard slaughter, smiting bodies, attacks boiling, greatly deafening, devastating, the people to a man crying out..."
- Cath Maige Tuired, translation M Daimler (aka amateur)
 A less word-for-word and more poetic version might be: 
"Undertake a battle of overthrowing," The goddess Morrigan chanted to Lugh, "Awake, make a hard slaughter, smiting bodies with furious attacks, the sound of battle deafening, devastating the people who cry out to the last man..."

There are several more like this, including Lugh's battle magic chant and the Morrigan's prophecy at the end of the battle. My goal is to translate these myself and offer my versions here for anyone who might be interested in them, with the understanding that they are being done on a purely amateur basis. However even on that level I think the material has value and is worth studying and considering.   
*edited after publishing for better translation

Gray, E., (1982). Cath Maige Tuired, Irish Texts Society

Further reading:
Stokes, W., (1891). The Second Battle of Moytura. Retrieved from

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lost in Mist and Shadow by Morgan Daimler

Lost in Mist and Shadow

by Morgan Daimler

Giveaway ends October 27, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mysticism and the Morrigan

   I've always been of a more mystical bent, but its one of the most difficult things to discuss. Not because mysticism is so difficult to talk about but because mystical experiences tend to lose something in the translation. Also one of the first things most people ask is how do I do what I do, followed by how can they do it too, and the answer to some of that is simply that I don't know. I don't know how I get some of what I get. Certainly I do use methods, both modern and reconstructed older Irish ones. But other things just come as they will, and I don't know how or why. I dream often of Otherworldly things, for example, and those dreams come on their own not at my will. I've tried a few times recently to convey some of those experiences here and here
  Last night I dreamt of Odin, the rune ansuz a burning brand that both consumed and was consumed. I dream often of him, and of going to the Otherworld, and of the Morrigan. This time of year I dream of the Wild Hunt. I could, of course, say these are merely dreams or I can see them as something else entirely. Sometimes the same experiences come in waking dreams or in imbas forosnai experiences, the latter were I am seeking them intentionally. 
  Another recent dream I shared on my facebook page involved a vision of myself standing at the edge of the vast sea, with a voice on the wind crying "Lost! Lost!". And I stood with my feet equally in water and on dry sand calling them in, back from the ninth wave, back from exile, and like birds they came, like ravens on the wing, soaring over the churning water.... I woke up in the dark early that morning to blood (my own) and tears (not my own). 
   Since the Morrigan's Call Retreat last June I've been having a lot more of these experiences that involve the Morrigan and related goddesses, which makes sense I suppose. I've seen Nemain bloody and terrifying, and Macha swinging her sword through the air with a clarion cry. I've seen Badb, both winging over the battlefield and in a river that was as much blood as water. I've seen the Morrigan standing on a hilltop, singing. I feel her calling to those who honor her, those who follow her, and her call is both a compulsion and a challenge. There is something coming, something electric in the air, like the charge of ozone before lightning strikes or the way the wind rises heralding a storm. I can feel it. 
  I hope we are all ready.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Random Life Notes and Some Writing Tips

  I realize I've been neglecting the blog of late, and I apologize for that. I do hope to be back on a regular schedule soon, but I've been dealing with a variety of pesky real life issues that take enough of my attention that I just don't have the time to get any nice juicy blogs done. Bear with me and it'll get better. Some of this has to do with an increase in the amount of writing I am doing elsewhere, and some of this has to do with child related things, but the end result is not enough blogging time.
   To fill you all in on what I've been up to in general. I wrote a couple guest blogs for Raise the Horns both on the Morrigan but very different in topic and tone. I submitted a couple essays for the next issue of Air n-Aithesc, a wonderful CR journal that comes out twice a year. I submitted an article for ADF's journal Oak Leaves, and another for the e-zine Goddess Alive! and I am working on two more for other e-zines as well. I've been asked to do an entry in another forthcoming anthology by my publisher, which should be interesting. I'm eagerly anticipating the release of my 9th book in December, Pagan Portals: The Morrigan, and recently finished the draft of my second urban fantasy novel which will hopefully be released soon as well (I'm aiming for October 31st, if all goes well). So its been a very busy writing time for me, just not here. I'm also gearing up now to officiate a wedding, head off to a Morrigan retreat for Samhain, and I have the Changing Times, Changing Worlds conference fast approaching (I'm teaching 6 workshops this year on a variety of subjects).
   Basically, I've been very busy, but am hoping that things will settle down and allow for more regular blogging soon.
   Besides all that I wanted to share a conversation I had today with a friend. We were talking about writing and in the course of the conversation I shared the two best pieces of writing advice I've ever gotten, which I'd like to share here too:
 1. Writing as a career is a job like any other and should be treated as one. When I first heard this it offended my artistic sensibilities, but the truth is, well, it's true. I treat writing with the same work ethic I treated every other job I've had and that means if I have time to write I write, whether or not I feel inspired or in the mood.
 2. Write what you enjoy reading about. This was some great advice from my friend Cathrine Kane  and I've always found it to be valuable. When we write about what we like to read about we have more passion about the topic or genre and we also are more familiar with it. And its much more fun to write.
  So there you go, hope you all have a great day!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Samhain Poem to the Morrigan

I dreamt last night of honoring the Morrigan at Samhain. In the dream I chanted the following, as if it were a song or sacred prayer:
"Great Queen, Lady of Phantoms
Giver of hard victory
who deals out both good and bad
terror, death, madness, battle, war,
soveriengty, glory, success,
Bloody blade and screaming crow
strong shield and swift cutting sword
see us through whatever comes
through cold and snow and hunger
'til summer's sun shines again"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Experiencing the Other Crowd

  One complaint that I see often in the wider pagan/polytheist community is that people of a more reconstructionist bent, such as myself, don't share enough personal experiences. That's actually a fair criticism generally speaking. For my part I have been trying to share more, although I have so far found it easier to share numinous experiences, especially those involving the Gods, through poetry. Today I wanted to share a little bit of my experiences with the Good Neighbors. Although everything to do with themselves is tricky, and often carries specific prohibitions about what can and cannot be shared, there are certain experiences that happened which involved more than just myself or which I know its okay to talk about. these are an array of things and involve, naturally, a variety of different kinds of spirits, but nonetheless I'd like to share some here. Hopefully it'll give people an idea of what these things can be like.

  For those who have read my book Fairy Witchcraft or attended some of my classes about the Other Crowd some of these may be familiar. This is my top 5 list of public or share-able experiences:
  5) I had made a habit of offering milk every friday to the spirits of my home and immediate area. My finances took a downward turn and I couldn't afford to keep up with it so I switched to other things. One friday a couple weeks after I stopped offering the milk I was getting out of my car after going grocery shopping when a gallon of milk was pulled out of my hand. The container hit the grass and burst. From then on I made sure to offer at least a small bit of milk each week
4) Many years ago I had a loose assortment of friends who were all different types of pagans. One full moon we decided to get together and have a ritual and one woman mentioned a spot out in the woods that she had used many times. We all met up in early afternoon and then drove out to the suburban home where her parents lived, before hiking back into the woods about a mile or so. The ritual location was lovely and we had a casual ceremony followed by a long, pleasant conversation that lasted into the early evening. Finally it was full dark, and even with the full moon above us the forest was closing in so we packed up and started back. After walking for about 5 minutes we could clearly see the lights from the houses shining through the trees ahead of us. But after ten more minutes the lights were no closer. We climbed over rocks and around trees, through thorns and fallen branches, yet never seemed able to move forward. One other friend and I began to suspect fairy enchantment, as the rest of the group fought to push forward. Finally, after perhaps another 15 minutes of walking, my friend and I acknowledged that we were being pixy-led; we began to laugh and compliment the fairies on such a fine joke. The energy broke with an almost physical snap and within a few minutes we emerged in a backyard a few houses down from where we’d first gone into the woods.
3) My friend has had a large shrine/altar for the aos sidhe in her store for 15 years. This past equinox we needed to move the shrine, which was an epic undertaking, and took most of a morning. Several days later I noticed a flourite ring was missing from a jewelry display. We both assumed it had been stolen, which was upsetting. Then my friend found it, days later on the new fairy shrine - covered in years of dust as if it had been there for a long time. (note we left it there - if they want an offering enough to take it, they can keep it)
2) As I was helping out in my friend's store one day I looked down and realized my wedding ring was gone. I panicked and my friend and I searched everywhere but there was no trace of it. I made several offerings to the aos sidhe hoping the ring would turn up, because I knew of their tendency to take jewelry, but it didn't. Months went by and I felt pressed to write my Fairy Witchcraft book, which I did (separate story). Shortly after I finished the book and submitted it to my publisher my friend found the ring sitting in front of her altar.
1) about a decade ago I was at a local state park that has a strong Other Crowd presence. While I was there I left a small pendant, a moonstone with an iolite set above it, as an offering. At my house I have a small room dedicated for ritual use; its where all my altars are. About a year ago I walked into my ritual room and sitting on the floor in front of my main altar was the pendant I had left as an offering all those years before.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Work In Progress Blog Tour

 Well I've been nominated by Arie Farnam, author of The Soul and the Seed to participate in the Work in Progress Blog Tour. The idea is to post the first sentence of each of the first three chapters of your work in progress.
  My current work is the sequel to my urban fantasy novel Murder Between the Worlds. This book picks up where the last one left off with my protagonist, Allie, trying to get her life back to normal after her attempt to help the police solve a series of murders in the first book. She's learning that moving on isn't as easy as she wants it to be, especially since things aren't as neatly tied up as the authorities all think they are. There's several mysterious things afoot, from missing girls to arson, and someone is going to a lot of trouble to make Allie's life unpleasant, but the biggest threat might be the one no one sees at all...
  Anyway, here are the first couple sentences/paragraph from the first three chapters of the rough draft. Enjoy!

He watched the girl as she got ready to walk to her car, his hands shaking in excitement. She had finished her shift and clocked out five minutes ago but lingered, talking to friends. He wished she’d hurry. He’d waited too long, until the night he needed to do the ritual, and now there wasn't any time for mistakes.

Chapter 1
Allie McCarthy was not having a good day. She was late leaving for work after losing track of the time. When she turned onto Asylum street, the back road she usually drove to avoid Main Street, she was confronted with a wall of construction equipment and a sign declaring the road closed for repaving. By the time she detoured and fought through the weekend tourist traffic – not even a hint of what it would soon be when summer was upon them – it was quarter past and she was late. She parked haphazardly in the lot behind Between the Worlds, her bookstore, and jogged as quickly as her bad ankle would allow to the back door, hurrying to lower the magical wards that protected the building and unlock the door.

Chapter 2

 “Wow, that stuff reeks,” Jason made a face, waving his hand in front of his face.  
Allie stopped walking, the burning bundle of sage leaves held out in front of her. She glanced around her store, the ordered rows of bookshelves now obscured by a haze of smoke. “I like the way it smells.”
Jason wrinkled his nose, then looked up towards the ceiling, “You did remember to turn off the smoke detectors before lighting that thing up, right? Because I’m going to be really embarrassed if the alarm goes off and -”
“And all your firefighting buddies roll up and see you playing witch.” Allie interrupted, rolling her eyes. “Fine Takada, go open the front door and let some fresh air in.”

Here are the rules:

You write a blog post about your work in progress and include the first sentences of the first three chapters (at least as they stand at the moment). You link back to me and you link to several other authors who you nominate. Traditionally, you nominate four.

 I have been trying to decide who to nominate but am being challenged by the fact that the authors I know either don't blog (I'm looking at you James Ferace!) or don't have a current work in progress that's at a point where its ready to discuss (Looking at you now Nimue Brown). So I'm going to nominate Catherine Kane, because I know she's working on the sequel to her wonderfully fun urban fantasy The Land That Lies Between and she blogs, and also Elen Sentier whose amazing book Moon Song is coming out through Cosmic Egg Books and who I'm sure is working on something, and blogs.