Search This Blog

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blessing charm - For Soldiers

This is another charm that's been re-worked from the Carmina Gadelica. I'm including the original at the bottom* so you can see the changes that have been made. This one can be used for many things but I have previously used it for a military friend when he was being deployed overseas as it is particularly suited for soldiers. It would, however, work just as well in other less martial situations.

Blessing charm
I place a blessing of protection on you,
            blessing from death,  blessing from wound,
            blessing from breast to knee,
            blessing from knee to foot,
            blessing of the three blessings,
            blessing of the five blessings,
            blessing of the seven blessings,
            From the crown of your head
            To the soles of your feet.
            blessing of the seven blessings, one,
            blessing of the seven blessings, two,
            blessing of the seven blessings, three,
            blessing of the seven  blessings, four,
            blessing of the seven  blessings, five,
            blessing of the seven  blessings, six,
            blessing of the seven  blessings, seven
                 On you now.
            From the edge of your brow,
            To your colored soles,
            To preserve you from behind,
            To sustain you in front.
A helmet of protection from the ancestors is on your head,
A gorget of the spirits of the land is around your throat,
A breastplate of the Gods is covering your heart,
To shield you in any battle and combat with your enemies.
If pursued from behind your back,
The power of the Morrigan be close to shield you,
East or west, west or east,
North or south, south or north.


*The original charm is supposed to be one that Mary put on her son.
Sain 137
THE sain put by Mary on her Son,
           sain from death, sain from wound,
            Sain from breast to knee,
            Sain from knee to foot,
            Sain of the three sains,
            Sain of the five sains,
            Sain of the seven sains,
            From the crown of thy head
            To the soles of thy feet.
            Sain of the seven paters, one,
            Sain of the seven paters, two,
            Sain of the seven paters, three,
            Sain of the seven paters, four,
            Sain of the seven paters, five,
            Sain of the seven paters, six,
            Sain of the seven paters, seven
                 Upon thee now.
            From the edge of thy brow,
            To thy coloured soles,
            To preserve thee from behind,
            To sustain thee in front.
Be the helmet of salvation about thine head,
Be the corslet of the covenant about thy throat,
Be the breastplate of the priest upon thy breast,
To shield thee in the battle and combat of thine enemies.
If pursued, oh youth, from behind thy back,
The power of the Virgin be close to succour thee,
East or west, west or east,
North or south, south or north.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Power Song

 Sometimes I'm reminded of how very different my beliefs are from most mainstream pagans today, and it can be a bit depressing. I feel rather like a relic from some archeological dig on days like this. So to cheer myself up I was contemplating the Song of Amergin* and how it could have been a song of power, where the speaker is claiming a connection to specific things to empower themselves and I ended up writing my own version. It's inspired off of the Song of Amergin, clearly, and still a bit rough, but I like it enough to share it.
   "I am an earth-bound whirlwind
  I am the breeze that makes leaves dance
  I am a wind in the night
  I am a wave shaping the shore
  I am a bear with many cubs
  I am a raven singing omens
  I am a horse of three colors
  I am a hind in pathless woods
  I am a hawk defending her nest
  I am a stone of healing
  I am moonlight on water
  I am the depths of a racing river
  I am a lone Hawthorn, blooming in a field"

 Each line has special, personal significance, as well as connecting me to the different things in nature that I find empowering. If you were going to write your own what would you say? What would you identify with and why?

One version of the original Song of Amergin is:
"I am the wind on the sea;
I am the wave of the sea;
I am the bull of seven battles;
I am the eagle on the rock
I am a flash from the sun;
I am the most beautiful of plants;
I am a strong wild boar;
I am a salmon in the water;
I am a lake in the plain;
I am the word of knowledge;
Iam the head of the spear in battle;
I am the god that puts fire in the head;
Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills?
Who can tell the ages of the moon?
Who can tell the place where the sun rests?" (Gregory, 1904).
 Although check out the Celtic Myth Podshow page here for the original Irish and a variety of alternate translations. 

 Reference 
Gregory, A., (1904) Gods and Fighting Men

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Birth Charm

Looking at another pagan version of a Carmina Gadelica charm - this one focuses on an easy birth, and is one I have used during the birth of my own children. The imagery of the original focuses on an animal birthing but I find it very conducive to the idea of an easy human birth. The original is:

The Hind 187
PETER and Paul were passing by,
While a hind in the path was bearing a fawn;
'A hind is bearing there,' said Peter;
'I see it is so,' said Paul.
'As her foliage falls from the tree,
So may her placenta fall to the ground,
In name of the Father of love and of the Son of grace,
And of the Spirit of loving wisdom;
     Father of love and Son of grace,
     And Spirit of loving wisdom.'

 In my version I call on Flidais because she is associated strongly with deer and because I personally relate her to birth and nursing. I will offer a alternate version below calling on Brighid for those that prefer her. I also re-word several sections to better reflect a pagan tone and to create the imagery I wanted for an easy birth.

Birth charm
Flidais and her son were passing by,
While a hind in the path was bearing a fawn;
'A hind is bearing there,' said her son;
'I see it is so,' said Flidais.
'As leaves fall from a tree,
So may the fawn slip easily from her womb,
By the strength of the firm earth,
By the power of the flowing sea,
And of the shining Sky that covers all;
     Firm earth and flowing sea,
     And shining sky that covers all.'

Birth charm, version 2
Brighid and Airmed were passing by,
While a hind in the path was bearing a fawn;
'A hind is bearing there,' said Airmed;
'I see it is so,' said Brighid.
'As leaves fall from a tree,
So may the fawn slip easily from her womb,
By the strength of the firm earth,
By the power of the flowing sea,
And of the shining Sky that covers all;
     Firm earth and flowing sea,
     And shining sky that covers all.'

 And, for those who just don't resonant at all with the deer imagery, here is a third version that focuses entirely on a human mother. One could also use only the last 7 lines as a chant during birth, skipping the section about the Goddesses altogether:

Birth charm, version 3
Brighid and Airmed were passing by,
While a woman was in childbed, struggling in labor;
'A woman is bearing there,' said Airmed;
'I see it is so,' said Brighid.
'As leaves fall from a tree,
So may the child slip easily from her womb,
By the strength of the firm earth,
By the power of the flowing sea,
And of the shining Sky that covers all;
     Firm earth and flowing sea,
     And shining sky that covers all.'

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Protection Charm

I've mentioned before - and blogged before - about how I like to take material from the Carmina Gadelica and make it something I can use by taking out the Christian references and adding in pagan ones. Here is another example from volume 2 of the CG, a protection charm. The original is:

THE 'FIONN-FAOILIDH 155*

I PLACE the 'fionn-faoilidh' on me,
To drain wrath empty,
To preserve to me my fame,
While I shall live on earth.
O Michael! grasp my hand,
Vouchsafe to me the love of God,
If there be ill-will or ill-wish in mine enemy,
Christ be between me and him,
     Oh, Christ between me and him!
If there be ill-will or ill-wish concerning me,
Christ be between me and it,
     Oh, Christ between me and it!

The name means, roughly, "the bright joy": Fionn - white, bright, Faoilidh - joyful, glad, cheerful, although it can't really be directly translated. The point of the charm seems to be to protect the speaker from anger, ill will and envy. I like the concept of this charm but obviously wouldn't use it as is, and simply removing all the Christian references would take out too much of the charm. The version I use I changed Michael to ancestors and Christ to protection because those seemed like the most logical alterations.

My version is:
I place the bright joy on myself,
To drain wrath empty,
To preserve my good name,
While I shall live on earth.
O ancestors grasp my hand,
Be with me as I journey through life,
If there be ill-will or ill-wish in my enemy,
Protection be between me and him,
     Oh, protection between me and him!
If there be ill-will or ill-wish concerning me,
Protection be between me and it,
     Oh, protection between me and it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Healing the Waters

   This ritual was designed and written originally several years ago for the Gulf oil spill, and was used again after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. With the current major chemical spill in West Virginia I thought I would offer a fresh water version of the previously ocean-oriented ritual for people who would like to use it.  It is meant for use by anyone of any tradition, but is designed from an Irish perspective, based on an understanding of the sacredness of water from that viewpoint and a belief in the inherent spirit of rivers.
stream at Devil's Hopyard, CT

   Go to a source of running water, if possible, and hold ritual as you normally would. If you can't physically go to any water then decorate your altar with a water theme using whatever most connects you to the river, lakes, or other fresh water sources. It may be best to invoke a  Deity connected to a river, or focus on energy that resonates with fresh water. At the centerpoint of the ceremony make an offering to the water symbolic of healing, something safe and biodegradable; if you are inside use a bowl of water to represent the living water and place your offering in there. Say the following prayers:

"O Gods of the waters,

 O spirit of the river
 give healing to the waters
put health in the flowing river,
to enrich the vast waters
to liven the dying river" *

(make your offering)

"I come here in prayer on this day,
Day to send healing on the vast waters,
Day to send health to fish and fowl,
Day to put right the web in the warp.

Day to put life in the moving river,
Day to place health 
in the spirit that inhabits,
Day to cleanse, day to bless,
Day to put right a great wrong.
Day to put life back in the river,
Day to send health to the life in the water,
Day to make a most effective prayer,
Day of power, Gods bless the vast river,
Day of power, may the river be blessed."*
Finish ritual as you normally would. If you were indoors try to take the offerings to a source of water to pour them out so that they can symbolically be given to the affected river. Visualize the water flowing into rivers, lakes, streams, larger rivers, and eventually the ocean, evaporating, condensing, falling back to earth as rain; connecting all water on earth together through the water cycle and allowing your healing energy to go where it needs to go.


* these are modified from prayers out of volume 1 of the Carmina Gadelica. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ode to Caring for a Chronically Ill Child ~ for Paige

Sometimes I feel like the ocean
My waves fighting against
a relentless shore that refuses
to yield to my determination
High tide follows low in an endless
cycle of loss and gain and loss again
and you float upon the water, mo ghra
a tiny currach, without oars,
at the mercy of wind and wave
and the remorseless pull of land
blissfully unaware, you rest, held
up on the surface of my concern
What you are not able to feel, 
I will feel for you, mo ghra,
the heat of day, the cold of night,
the pain of injury and illness
your heartbeat, irregular as
my waves breaking on the shore
I will feel them all for you
As I feel each pounding wave
Do not fear the drag of land, mo ghra,
I will keep you from the jagged rocks
My surging sea will keep you safe
My waves will cradle you gently
And I will sing to you of stars and love
and if I cannot save you from the shore
then I will hold you all the way in


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sacred Horses

  Horses have long been seen as sacred animals in Irish paganism. Evidence shows the presence of horses in Ireland as far back as 3000 BCE and we know that during the Celtic period they played an important role (O hOgain, 2006). Horses were a status symbol, a very practical means of transportation, work animals, and also served in warfare, the Irish fighting mounted and with chariots. Many Irish Gods are associated with horses, including Macha, Aine, Dagda, and Manannan, and tests of mythic kingship often feature horses (O hOgain, 2006). Aine, for example, was said to take the form of a red mare and travel around the area near Knockainey. Horses often figure in mythological tales; for example Cu Chulain's horses played a role in the Tain, with one of them, the Grey of Macha, weeping prophetic tears of blood before the hero's death. The horses of Donn are said to escort the dead to the Otherworld, by some accounts, and horses were believed to be able to see ghosts and spirits (O hOgain, 2006). Horse skulls and long bones, like human ones, were preserved in ossuaries and there have been archeological finds that included the ritual burial of horses that are believed to have died naturally, showing the importance that the Celts gave to horses (Green, 1992).
    Even up until more modern times horse symbolism was important, and we see things like the Lair Bhan, (white mare) a person dressed up in a white sheet holding a carved horse head or skull who led a procession from house to house at Samhain. Holidays like Lughnasa prominently featured horse racing, which might be a race over a flat course or involve the riders swimming the horses across a river. An very old Irish belief was that horses had once been able to speak as humans could and that they were still able to understand people, making it important to always speak kindly to them (O hOgain, 2006). There are also a wide array of beliefs relating to Otherworldly horses like the Each Uisce and Kelpie; the movie Into the West deals with the story of an Otherworldly horse's relationship with two children in modern Ireland. It was believed that the seventh filly in a row born of the same mare (with no colts in between) was a lucky and blessed animal, called a fiorlair, a true mare (O hOgain, 2006). A true mare was naturally exempt from witchcraft and fairy enchantments, and this protection extended to her rider (Monaghan, 2004). Horses in general were lucky and would be walked over newly plowed fields, on the belief that a horse trampling freshly planted seed would make the crops grow better (O hOgain, 2006). Many protective charms and superstitions are aimed at protecting horses from the evil eye, fairy mischief and general ill health.
    At least one author suggests that eating horse meat was taboo in Ireland except under rare ritual circumstances; although we know that horses were eaten in Gaul and southern England they did not seem to be considered a food animal in Ireland (Monaghan, 2004; Green, 1992). Reflecting the sacred and important place that horses had in the culture, sites in Gaul that include the remains of sacrificed horses usually also include human sacrificial remains (Green, 1992). We know that in specific cases in Ireland horses were sacrificed and eaten,  in association with the crowning of a king. Ceisiwr Serith posits that horse sacrifices at ritual inaugurations are related to similar Indo-European practices, especially Vedic (Fickett-Wilbar, 2012). A ritual was enacted in Ulster, according to Gerald Cambrensis writing in the 13th century, where the new king had sex with a white mare who was then killed and stewed; the king bathes in the stew and then eats it as do the gathered people (Puuhvel, 1981). This ritual likely had  ties to the horse's symbolism and represented the king joining with the goddess of sovereignty (whichever one that may have been, I suspect Macha, although killing a horse wouldn't make sense when that was the animal that may have represented her).
     Although I support traditional religious animal sacrifice in a Celtic and Norse context I am absolutely against sacrificing or eating horses. This is a controversial topic, but my opinion on this is firm. At one time I had held a different view on this born, I must admit, out of a hesitance to judge modern cultures that still eat horses. But the reality is I can judge the practice as wrong - like eating whale, dog, or tiger - without condemning the entire culture that does it. The ritual recorded by Gerald is a main one used by modern people wanting to do horse sacrifices to defend the idea, however it should be obvious for several reasons why this ritual does not justify modern horse sacrifice. Firstly, it was rarely done, as far as the evidence we have shows, and only on the most significant of events, the crowning of a king and his marriage to the land. We have no modern equivalent to this. Secondly the ritual also involved public bestiality and bathing in the food before it was served; I hope the reasons not to do this is self-evident. Beyond this, as can be seen by the Gaulish examples of interred horse and human sacrifices, the killing of horses seems to have been viewed as an occasion of the utmost gravity, on par with offering a human life. Green theorizes that these events related to the fulfillment of battle pledges, where a warrior going to fight promised to give to the Gods all the spoils of war, including weapons, horses, and human captives in exchange for victory (Green, 1992). Just as we no longer practice human sacrifice because it goes against our social norms and morality, so too should we leave horse sacrifice in the past. Horses, like dogs, are animals that we have domesticated to work with us and as pets; they are not food. In the past our ancestors may have eaten them, but they also had far fewer options than we do; they needed to eat their domestic pets - we don't.
   I also feel strongly that it is wrong to sacrifice horses to Macha especially. In Irish myth it is almost always geis to eat the animal that represents or is connected to you; Cu Chulain has a geis against eating dog, Dairmud has a geis not to hunt the boar that is magically bound to him, and Conaire cannot hunt birds, to give some examples. Since horses are Macha's animal it follows that killing or eating them would be offensive to her. I personallt received a geis against eating horse when I became her priestess. We do not have a single example from myth or folklore of horses being sacrificed to Macha and we do have evidence that killing or eating a symbolic animal was taboo.

http://networkedblogs.com/S04ay

   There's a great group on Facebook called Pagans and Heathens for the Horses for people interested in taking a public stand against horse slaughter. You can also consider petitions like this one or this one to sign, speaking out against legalized horse slaughter in the United States.
   There are also more direct ways to help, if you feel moved to do something in honor of horses or in the name of a horse related deity. You can donate to a horse related charity such as Equus, or find a local horse rescue in your area. A friend's uncle has been giving homes to abandoned horses for years and is now struggling to feed them - if you want to help there is a page set up for donations here. If its possible you can consider finding a local stable and taking riding lessons, or just visiting to spend some time around the animals. Getting to know horses in the real world will give you a much better understanding of their importance and sacredness in the ancient world, in my opinion.

References:
O hOgain, D., (2006) The Lore of Ireland
Monaghan, P., (2004). Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore
Green, M., (1992). Animals in Celtic Life and Myth
Puuvel, J., (1981) "Aspects of Equine Functionality," in Analecta Indoeuropaea , pp. 188–189
Fickett-Wilbar, D (2012). Ritual Details of the Irish Horse Sacrifice in Betha Mholaise Daiminse, Retrieved from http://www.clarkriley.com/JIES4034web/04Fickett-Wilbar(315-343).pdf

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book review - Tvaer Galdraskraedur or Two Icelandic Books of Magic

  I haven't done a book review in a while, so I thought it was time to offer one. I recently read Tvaer Galdraskraedur or Two Icelandic Books of Magic, a book offered by Strandagaldr (Icelandic Musuem of Sorcery and Witchcraft). Since I very much enjoyed it I thought it would be a good choice to review.
    This is a fascinating work that is, effectively, excerpts from Icelandic grimoires. Each rune stave is shown with a short description in Icelandic and English which describes how to use it and what it does. The book itself is a consolidation of several surviving grimoires from 17th and 18th century Iceland and includes staves for a variety of things, often with multiple staves for any single purpose. These include everything from winning in court or catching a thief, to testing a woman's virginity or turning her heart to you, to casting out spirits and protecting from witchcraft. Two versions of the somewhat infamous "Fretrúnir" are given, which I was pleased to see, as they comprise one of the more interesting aspects of Icelandic rune magic. There are also several prayers listed, all thoroughly Christian, although in other sections the Norse Gods - particularly Baldr, Thor, and Odin - are invoked. There is a section which offers a variety of seals, along the lines of what one might find in a ceremonial magician's text, like the Lesser Key of Solomon. I will warn readers though that at one brief point several descriptions/prayers are translated not into English but in Latin, so if you don't speak either Icelandic or Latin you won't be able to understand what those few runestaves are for.
   The book's biggest drawback is that it does not get into the theory or history of the runestaves or runic magic, although it does briefly discuss a history of the grimoires in Iceland during the introduction. However there are other books on the market that one could buy that do get into the theory if you want that end of things. I'd recommend having at least a basic knowledge of runic magic or runestaves if your interest in this book goes beyond curiosity. That said though, the collection of staves offered is impressive and the descriptions attached to each - although short - are very interesting and include details like what materials to use, what (if any) words to say, and where to place the stave.
   This book is a good investment for anyone interested in runestaves or in the history of Iceland, as a lot can be gleaned from looking at the topics of the staves. For example, apparently people were mostly concerned with fishing, lawsuits, women, thieves, trading, evil spirits, overcoming enemies, and hexing livestock. And occasionally cursing their enemies with dysentery. For modern runic practitioners having access to such a wide collection of staves with the attendant descriptions is invaluable. Definitely worth getting a copy while they are available.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fun with Novel Writing

Just thought I'd share: I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time last November and wrote an urban fantasy novel. After a few friends read it and encouraged me to publish it I decided to go ahead and go for it. I'd been editing and revising it but, in attempting to get one of the NaNo prizes - a free hardcover - I appear to have just accidentally published my novel on Lulu. Ummm. Oops? LOL So here it is - my first ever novel http://www.lulu.com/shop/morgan-daimler/murder-between-the-worlds/paperback/product-21381405.html

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mead-Fire - A Poem


I drink the cup he offers
the horn-rim cold against my lips,
sweet honey taste in my mouth,
a single swallow spreads
down my throat
into my blood, my brain-
images burst behind my eyes,
words blossom fire bright in my mind
burn like ice into my memory,
Tumbling intensely through me
the swirling sensations barely
at the edge of what I can bear
as my fingers itch to find a pen,
for I know their will be no relief
until I free this vision from its fleshy prison,
release it into the world
like a child struggling to be born
only fully alive when it is separated.
And I know as well that despite the pain
I would drink again from that horn,
drink down the divine inspiration
in one swift swallow...
That moment is worth any madness,
any cost I might be called to pay.