Monthly Archives: April 2014

Blood and Mistletoe – Chapter 1

Blood and Mistletoe – Chapter 1

Good-Hutton-Pic

One of the most respected authors in neo-pagan traditions and practices is Professor Ronald Hutton. An academic with a sense of the poetic and a great way with sharing what he has learned.

As part of my own development I am working bit by bit through his book Blood and Mistletoe (The History of the Druids in Britain). Whilst I am prepared to be reminded of the recreationist, revisionist, reconstructionist nature of Druidry or Druidism I am expected to have some sacred tress rocked and some ideas challenged.

So this Chapter by Chapter blog will be my immediate reflections from reading the book and perhaps encourage some debate with fellow bloggers and Facebookers. I will NOT be going into all of the details in the book, I would hope that if intrigued you will read it yourself.

Introduction and Chapter 1

Huttons perspective and standpoint on what we ‘really know’ about Druidry has been mentioned else where on this website and in the introduction we are guided through some of the challenges faced in any attempt to talk ‘with authority’ about how the Druids were. I am reminded of the wonderful parody song Stonehenge by Spinal Tap  …

In ancient times…
Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived a strange race of people… the Druids

No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock… Of Stonehenge

Spinal Tap : This is Spinal Tap
 

The key phrase … “No one knows who they were or what they were doing”… and indeed this the case.

Hutton points out that all we know of the Druids is really drawn from a very few historical sources and even they are suspect.

200 BCE    Sotion of Alexandria (quoted in Diogenes and wrongly attributed to Aristotle) mentions the Druidas of Keltois and Galatis

50  BCE     The writings of Julius Caeser mention two groups of Gaulish people well respected in their tribes. The Equites (horsemen) and theDruides. This latter group are described as priests, judges and teachers. It was also noted that those wishing to ‘learn’ came to Briton to study.

36 BCE      Diodorus suggests that the Gaulish people have adopted some of Pythagoras’ teachings, namely the transmigration of the soul

20 CE        Strabo mentions bourdos (speakers of stories and satires); drouidos philosophers and theologians) and ‘vates (seers)

60 CE       Tacitus reports on the savagery of  the Celts and  Druids and in particular of the Battle of Menai (mentioned elsewhere in this blog).

70 CE       Pliny speaks of Druids their beliefs and practices

And apart from a few other spurious sources that’s it!

More importantly we can question the motivation of some writers as well as their authenticity. Some researchers question whether Tacitus was ever present at the events he reported on and my simply be quoting from another source whose works are lost (Agicola) and Pliny’s is questioned as a reliable source.

Clearly we have reports of a people who are on the one hand ‘philosophical’ and ‘wise’ and on the other ‘barbaric’ and ‘wild’. There seems to be now middle ground and of course this may well be due to the need for spin-doctoring of information by ruling or invading forces. The desire to set Rome up as the exemplar society must, in some cases, require other cultures to be less favourably viewed.

In the Course Books for the Celtic Shamanism Course being offered through The Cornwall School of Mystery and Magick we deal with the problems of authority and the desire to look at the past to find some idea of the roots of magical practice within the UK and the opening chapter of Blood and Mistletoe reminds us of the challenges. Of partcular resonance for me tho’ was the calling into question the nature of some of the ‘traditional’ works – the epics and stories – often quoted as forming the basis of reconstructionist  approaches.

More to follow …..

Alan /|\

Consider Purchasing Ronald Hutton’s Superb Works here …

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Published: April 23, 2014

Reflections on The Seven Pointed Star

Reflections on the Seven Pointed Star

 

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This particular image has a long and varied history within the annuls of magick.

A Star with Seven Points – a Septagram as opposed to the familiar Pentagram.

The number seven itself has long had ‘mystical’ connotations. The seventh-son of a seventh son and of course The Seventh Day is the day following creative actions which created the cosmos.

Nachmanides (a 12th century Spanish Occultist) explores the number 7 in kabbalistic terms.

Seven is the number of the natural world. There are 7 days in the week, 7 notes on the musical scale and 7 directions (left, right, up, down, forward, back and center). “Seven” – represented by the 7 days of Sukkot, is the world of nature whilst “Eight“, represented by Shemini Atzeret, is that which is beyond nature.
There are seven aspects of physicality – Height , Width, Depth , Top and bottom (limits height) , Front and back (limits width), Left and right (limits depth)
and seven which connects the previous six.  Seven then is the final number in a series which represents the physical/material world.

SeptagramPythagoras, a ‘numbers geek’ if ever there was one, believed that numbers were ‘sacred’ and that to understand the universe all we needed to do was to understand the numbers which represented it. Many Cosmologists and Mathematicians of today seem to have a similar attitude.

In classical times there were seven planets, which, according to Pythagoras, generated the ‘music of the spheres’. It is easy to see how notions of seven planes of existence developed, We could find ourselves in Seventh Heaven, if we avoided the Seven Deadly Sins and adhered to the Seven ‘vital’ Virtues, whilst aligning our Seven Chakra centres to the energies of the Seven Heavenly bodies which influenced life on this planet.

Apologies if that sounded a little flippant, it wasn’t really meant to.

 

The Kabbalistic Text Sefer Yetzira highlights the number seven and its multiples in the creation story of Bereshit  (Genesis):

35 times God (Elohim) is found.
7 times “On the Earth (Hebrew only)” is found.
21 times “Earth, earth, or land” are found.
7 times “heaven(s), sky (excluding “heavenly sky”)” are found.
7 times “Good” is found.
7 times “Water(s) (beneath the heavens)” are found.
7 times “flying, fly, or birds” are found.
7 times “crawls, walks, land animals” are found.
14 times “day or days” are found.

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David on his website (The Significance of the Number 7)  presents 49 ‘sacred’ reasons for the number 7 to be important and its not without significance that 49 is 7 x 7!

Make of that what you will, but it is all very interesting.

The Seven Pointed star could be seen as a representation of  synthesis as it brings together the four directions and the three worlds.  (see earlier thoughts on The Four Directions and The Triads). It is in this guise that perhaps much of the recent neo-pagan, reconstructionist magicks apply. In Kabbalistic terms Netzach is the seventh Sefiroth  – it  is “endurance,” the fortitude, and patience to follow through on your passions.

IThis star is also known as the Feary or Elven Star

Seven Pointed Stars, called “Faerie or Elven Stars” represent a gift from Faerie to humans to bridge the understanding between the Mortal human realm and that of Faerieland. – or so claim those versed in Faerie Lore (this by the way is a subject to which I am sure we will return). However, for now let’s look at what else is said ..

The 7 pointed star is known as a gateway symbol, a Gate or entrance between our world and that of Faery, the Otherworld. Each point on the star represents a gateway or path of the Higher Self to prepare one for entrance into Faery.

  1. Power, Personal Will, Determination, Prosperity, Justice, the Gate.
  2. Unconditional Love, Wisdom, Growth, Friendship, Healing.
  3. Knowledge, Intelligence, Creativity, Sexuality, Awakening.
  4. Harmony, Tranquility, Blessings, Love.
  5. Powers of Mind and Science, Balance, Dexterity.
  6. Devotion, Honesty, justice, Healing.
  7. Magick, Success, the Gaian Hypothesis.

There is little in this ‘pathway’ that I would disagree with or challenge since each of the ‘steps’ are worthy of study, practice and attainment. Indeed the Second Age of  the Reformed Druid  (RDG) have adopted this has their symbol for 2nd degree practitioners of Druidry. They list each of the points as representing the seven attributes of a Druid…

 

  1. Wisdom
  2. Compasion
  3. Liberal
  4. Abundance
  5. Non-Conformity
  6. Learning
  7. Idealist

Again attributes which are worth of our attention and aspiration.

How we explore these values and attitudes as we walk upon the Earth is the spiritual quest.

Alan /|\

 

elven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published: April 23, 2014

Community

Community

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When you hear the word community what do you think of?

Your friends, your village, your school … ??

When you think of “The Green Movement” what do you think of?

Greenpeace, Environmental Activism, Saving the Planet… ??

Perhaps community is about relationship and the ‘green movement’ is about connection?

For me Green Politics is a peculiar thing – at the core of what is being said is that we need to preserve the Earth for us…

This is bothersome in some respects since the Geologist and Earth Scientist in me is aware of three fundamental truths ..

The Earth will not end in the sense that many suggest – it may change form and spacial existence over time

Everything on the Earth is part of a vast web of interdependent connections – some organisms on the web may seem to be more dominant than others

The Earth is probably more fecund, fertile without us being around – we are temporary ‘blips’ on a larger timescale

So no matter what we do, or how careless we are in our treatment of the Earth and its resources, when we are gone the processes of life – those which maintain the Earth within the Cosmos, will continue. The Earth will recover from our misuse in the long term.

So the choice is quiet simple. If we, as a species chose to live ‘out of relationship’ with the processes of the Earth we will soon cease to exist. If we want tto enjoy, feel and sense the beauty of the planet we live upon then we need to find a way of being in harmony with it.

This, perhaps, is something the singer-songwriter Don Mclean spoke of in is wonderful 70’s song Tapestry..

 

The Earth is our Community – we are ‘in relationship’ with everything on the Earth and,. to everything within the Cosmos. How we choose to manage that relationship is what will determine our survival or not and, to a great extent the Universe can be just as OK with us in it as it is with us ‘out of it’.

The challenge we face is not simply one of trying to undo the technologies we use and the systems we have created, but to use them with wisdom, understanding and love.

We have numerous New Age Folk complaining that ‘science’has brought us to the edge of extinction and yet those some Folk carry crystals that have been mined, use oils which have been commercially farmed and may subscribe to ‘folk remedies’ which are part of the propaganda of the same Big Pharma they protest about.  OK, now perhaps that was a bit unfair, but not without an element of truth I add.

The issue is about what we, as humans, are willing to think about. It is far easier to find a single scapegoat for the ills of environmental decline than it is to really think about the degree to which we are all complicit. It is easier, perhaps, to stand aside and moan about the conflicts of interest within the world than it is to consider that those same conflicts and motivations can exist within each and everyone of us. Let those who have no ax to grind or prejudice to fuel speak out now!

 

 

The Gaia Hypothesis proposes that our planet functions as a single organism which maintains conditions necessary for its survival. It was  proposed by James Lovelock in the mid-1960s and published in a book in 1979. It is an idea that holds much sway within certain groups and  while Lovelock’s
hypothesis has not  been substantiated, it makes sense in terms of the interaction of physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes on Earth. Whilst some may want to propose a ‘consciousness’ within the Earths processes I prefer to refrain from limiting them with anthropomorphic limitations.

In a sense nature is the ultimate arbiter – it is ‘good’, not in some Judeo-Christian sense of morality, but ‘good’ in the sense perhaps that is ‘sound’, ‘wonderful’, ‘precious’, ‘excellent’, ‘valuable;….

Nature is neither ‘good’ or ‘bad’ within the moralistic sense since it is beyond that – it simply ‘is’ all that there ‘is’.

Now we can pretty this up and romanticise about this as much as we want, but in every and all senses Nature, and by extension the Earth, gave rise to us. Now ‘parerntal’ metaphors can abound…. personified as Earth Mother or Mother Nature it is one of the oldest archetypes in existence.

Why does this idea have cross-cultural significance?

Because at our core we recognise there exists a relationship between us and ‘her’.

So whilst science talks of ‘ecosystems’  the mystic talks of ‘the web’ and whilst people abuse their relationship with ‘the mother’ they do so because they are ‘out of relationship’ with themselves. In the pain of separation from the ‘web’ the psychology of ‘need’ becomes expressed not as  a sense of ‘belonging’ but as an attitude of ‘rebellion’.

So Community perhaps starts with yourself, then moves to your relationship and attitudes to others and thence to the social groups you aspire to. All of which are based upon the Earth – from it, within it, around it. Just as some struggle to find peace within themselves, so many find it difficult to find peace between each other. The end result of this imbalance is one of caring less about community and more about ruler-ship. The Earth and Nature can have no ruler and if we choose to fall out of relationship with it (them) they won’t care or put a stop to their processes…. It will be the children of the people who could not understand ‘community’ who will grieve for the loss.

So ends this set of reflections and meanderings …

 

Alan /|\

 

 

 

 

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Published: April 21, 2014

The Celtic Triads

The Celtic Traids

500px-Triple-Spiral-Symbol.svg

 

Wikipedia notes that “The Triple Spiral symbol, based on motifs found at the prehistoric site at Newgrange, Ireland, and used as a neo-pagan or Triple Goddess symbol.”

Well that’s fine as far as it goes, but notwithstanding the oversimplification of The Divine Feminine (i.e. the Triple Goddess  – something I commented upon in the article on Bath in the Cornwall School of Mystery and Magick)) – there is something more to be said about the importance and nature of triads, triples and three-somes within Celtic culture.

Whilst the Celts may not have been much for writing, their oral tradition survived through the telling of tales and the speaking of laws. Many of these laws, traditions and tales are summarised in the form of Triads are have been recorded in numerous manuscripts albeit in an Christianised form.

So whilst we can agree with Ronald Hutton that :-

“All that we know about the Druids is that they were the most highly respected magical practitioners and spiritual experts of the tribes of
northwest Europe. The trouble is that we don’t have a single word of writing left by a Druid, and we don’t have a single archeological artifact that
everyone agrees is associated with the Druids. We know so little about  them in fact that they are almost legendary characters.”
Prof. Ronald Hutton

we are able to make some useful inferences from what does exist in early writings. Indeed it is these writings upon which much of the reconstructed (reinvented) Druidic practices rely.

One commentator writes:-

” It is a proven fact that most the old ways of the Celtic people were held onto. The olds ways were simply hidden under a thin veneer of the Christianity. With the Triads it was simply a matter of having the context of one or two words changed ; this then brought the old Pagan into line with the new Christian ; and in such a way as to bring into the Christian fold the stubborn traditionalists.”

John F. Wright

No I’m not overly happy with the ‘proven fact’ opening to the quote, but there is a very real sense in which the acculturalisation of pre-existing systems was common within Christian expansionism.

The Three Fold Universe

There are numerous sources which note the Celtic, and in all likelihood Ancient Briton’s (as they could be seen as one in the same, certainly in the later periods of pre-history ??)  notion of the three worlds of the Sea, Earth and Sky. – and we infer from this the idea that is from the sea that life emerges (consider the stories of discoveries and colonization of early people by Gods who came from the Sea); that the Earth is that space not only upon which we stand but also the place of our ancestral connection to place and Sky as being the realm of the ‘cosmic spirits’ and starry deities which influence and in some cases direct us.

This ‘evolutionary triad’ then forms a framework for laws of moral, ethical and civil conduct – also it is possibly easier to remember things in groups of three especially of there is some kind of rhyme involved.

In the Druid Path materials produced by The Reformed Druids of Gaia we read..

“”There are Irish Triads, Scottish Triads and Welsh Triads. Most of these are concerned  with history. The Triads were a method used by the Bards to remember things by associating them in groups of threes. A large body of the Triads concerns ethics. Following are some  examples we found were the most pertinent”

El Arseneau

To list all of these Triads is (a) to complex and task and (b) beyond the scope of this piece but we can get a flavour of them in the following. twenty-one celtic triads  …

 

  1. Three false sisters: “perhaps”, “maybe”, and “I dare say”
  2. Three keys that unlock thoughts: drunkenness; trustfulness; love
  3. Three things from which never to be moved: one’s oaths; one’s Gods; and the truth.
  4. There are three things excellent among worldly affairs: hating folly; loving excellence; and endeavoring constantly to learn
  5. Three manifestations of humanity: Affectionate bounty; loving manner; and praiseworthy knowledge.
  6. IIn three things a person may be as the Divine: justice , knowledge , and mercy.
  7. Three roots of every evil: covetousness, falsehood, and arrogance
  8. There are three foundations of law and custom: order, justice, and peace.
  9. Three chief obligations of a person to their country and family: to gain possessions by diligence and integrity, to profit their country and their kindred in all they do, and to seek lawful learning wherever they go.
  10. Three things which the good poet preserves for posterity: memory of the praiseworthy, delight in thought, and instruction in knowledge
  11. Three to whom it is right to give food: the stranger, the solitary, and the orphan.
  12. Three things which we cannot control: the Void , the planets , and truth.
  13. There are three things that are never at rest in anyone: the heart in working, the breath in moving, and the soul in purposing.
  14. Three things which keep their word faithfully: death, retribution, and remorse.
  15. Three things never end: the flowering of charity, the soul, and perfect love.
  16. Three kinds of knowledge : the nature of each thing , the cause of each thing , the influence of each thing.
  17. There are three springs of knowledge: reason, phenomenon, and necessity
  18. Three things necessary for the doing of every act: knowledge, ability, and desire
  19. Three things essential for the wise to know: their Gods, themselves, and the deceits of the world.
  20. Three teachers of humankind: one is event, that is from seeing and hearing; the second is intelligence, and that comes from reflection and meditation; and the third is genius, individual, a gift from the Mighty Ones.
  21. Three counsels of the yellow bird: do not grieve greatly about what has happened, do not believe what cannot be, and do not desire what cannot be obtained.

I had no particular message ti give in choosing these twenty-one triads other than that each will provoke some reaction and  I would hope inspire some meditation.

For those of you new to exploring aspects of what we could call ‘Celtic Spirituality’ there may be more here than you could have imagined and for those who are on a path spiritual development there is much you can learn.

In the Druid Prayer presented to Ross Nichols in the Book of Druidry we read that love can have three manifestations. This prayer exists in various forms but perhaps owes its orgin (or popularity) to – Iolo Morganwg,,,

Grant, O God/Goddess Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences,

Perhaps you might like to create meaningful personal ‘triads’ from it…

The Three Paths of Druidry

Modern, reconstructionist Druid movements have within them a Three Fold system of training ..

Year 1 : The Bardic Tradition

The theme here is one of connection to ancestors and ‘traditional tales’. Self-discovery comes through exploring personal relationship between ourselves, each other the land and the cosmos.

Creativity, Ritual, Storytelling and Self Expression are linked to a study of the Celtic peoples, what we know of their culture and values and what myth has suggested. We explore altered states and grasp what may be meant by The Awen.

Year 2 The Ovate Tradition

The key themes are healing, divination and service. The Bard knows and connects and the Ovate develops intuition to become wise.

Year 3 The Druid Tradition

Broadly a ‘priest;y’ role in which all of the arts, crafts and magicks of the Bardic and Ovate grade are interwoven in a more complex tapestry of understandings. Shamanic based counselling and therapy will be developed within this grade and decisions on how best the Bard, the Ovate and the Druid can serve the land and their communities will be explored.

This framework forms the syllabus of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, The British Druid Order and The Cornwall School of Mystery and Magicks own training and Drudic Clan of  Celliwig. The Reformed Druids of Gaia also have a three-degree system.

The symbol of the Triskele is often used to denote someone who has walked the three paths..

aurora tr

 alan /|\

 

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Published: April 21, 2014

Brwydr Mena

Brwydr Mena

Mona_Battle01_full

Yn Llyn Cerrig Bach ein offrymau a wnaed
Ceisio i droi’r llanw Romam
O’er Bedd Branwen y ddrudwen yn hedfan
A rhyfel a gwaed yn dod yn cynghreiriaid

Ar lan hen Menai
Tir a môr Cymru gwadu
Croesi diogel rhwng y banciau
Mae ein ryfelwyr sefyll mewn rhengoedd gwylltio

Ceasers perthynas agosaf a gynhaliwyd ddisymud
Gyda felltith Druid ac mae ein fearlessness
Gan Lleu Llaw Gyffes , mae ein gwaywffyn ni yn colli
Ac pierce , a pigo siwtiau imperial

Mae ein merched , Cerridwen posess
Gyda gynt cyhyraeth ond serch hynny
Mae eu rhyfelwyr codi tâl , a darnia a slaes
Nad ydynt yn cael eu cadw bwyell, cleddyf a gwaywffon a dash

Mae ein perthynas agosaf y maent ladd , ein plant yn rhy
Curo i lawr yng nghanol y stiw gwaedlyd
Mae ein allorau torrodd ein lwyni yn cael eu llosgi
Mae ein gwir yn cael ei golli ac mae’r olwyn yn troi .

Nawr rydym yn cysgu yn Din Dryfol
Neu gorwedd sêr neath
Yn Barclodiad y Gawres
Er ein bod yn marw ac wedi mynd hir
Mae ein stori yn mynd ymlaen ac ymlaen

Ac os ydych yn croesi’r Straight Menai
Tarvel rhwng y giatiau concrid hynny
Syllu i lawr ar y lan drencehd llanw Ynys Môn yn
A gofyn pam yr ydym yn dim mwy.

Rydym yn gorffwys mewn Annwn ond yn byw mewn breuddwydion
Ac yn siarad mewn craciau rhwng y gwythiennau
Mae’n Bardd byddwn yn ysbrydoli
I gadw THS yn fyw tân sanctaidd

A dylai tocyn Derwyddon mournful
Gweddïwch codi diod , codi gwydraid
Oherwydd nid ydym yn marw nac erioed wedi bod
Rydym yn troi o bren i garreg i ddaear ….

Moonbear

Please excuse the Welsh, my translation may not be that accurate.

Here’s the ‘original’ English

The Battle of Menai

At Llyn Cerrig Bach our offerings made
Attempt to turn the Romam tide
O’er Bedd Branwen the starlings fly
And war and blood become allies

Upon the shore of old Menai
Welsh land and sea denied
Safe crossing between the banks
Our warriors stand in angered ranks

Ceasers kin held motionless
With Druid curse and our fearlessness
By Lleu Llaw Gyffes, our spears we loose
And pierce, and sting imperial suits

Our women, Cerridwen posess
With cyhyraeth sighs but nonetheless
Their warriors charge, and hack and slash
Non are saved ax, sword and spear and dash

Our kin they slay, our children too
Beaten down amid the bloody stew
Our altars broke our groves are burned
Our truth is lost and the wheel is turned.

Now we sleep at Din Dryfol
Or lie neath stars
At Barclodiad y Gawres
Though we are dead and long gone
Our story goes on and on

And if you cross the Menai Straight
Tarvel between those concrete gates
Stare down on Angelsey’s tide drencehd shore
And ask why we are no more.

We rest in Annwn but live in dreams
And speak in cracks between the seams
It is the Bard we will inspire
To keep alive ths sacred fire

And should a mournful Druid pass
Pray raise a drink, raise a glass
For we are not dead nor ever were
We turn from wood to stone to earth….

Moonbear

The Battle – or perhaps Massacre – of Menai in AD60 is well documented and could be seen as a key moment in the decline of Druidry. It is the Roman write Tacitus who writes with venom and propaganda of the battle…

“[Paulinus] prepared to attack the island of Mona which had a powerful population and was a refuge for fugitives. He built flat-bottomed vessels to cope with the shallows, and uncertain depths of the sea. Thus the infantry crossed, while the cavalry followed by fording, or, where the water was deep, swam by the side of their horses. On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed warriors, while between the ranks dashed women, in black attire like the Furies, with hair dishevelled, waving brands. All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven, and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if their limbs were paralysed, they stood motionless, and exposed to wounds. Then urged by their general’s appeals and mutual encouragements not to quail before a troop of frenzied women, they bore the standards onwards, smote down all resistance, and wrapped the foe in the flames of his own brands. A force was next set over the conquered, and their groves, devoted to inhuman superstitions, were destroyed. They deemed it indeed a duty to cover their altars with the blood of captives and to consult their deities through human entrails.”

One wonders who the barbarians were and what gives one culture the right to call another culture civilised..

Moonbear

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Published: April 9, 2014

The Four Directions

The Four Directions

fourtreasuresThe Four Treasures of Ireland Mandala is (c) Marg Thomson

Initially published with this piece and should be correctly credited to Marg Thomson

fullcirclemandalas.weebly.com

My bear met me in the meadow and led me to a cliff overlooking a vast plain. I could see four kingdoms….

A kingdom of  towers which reached like slender fingers into the sky, piercing the clouds…

A kingdom of fertile plains, where rivers and lakes were in abundance; fields were green and bore crops of all colours…

A kingdom of the forest in which tall trees crowded together and created dark shadows and even darker pathways. Here wolves ran free.

A Kingdom of mountains, standing rocky and bare, their slopes and peaks bestrewn with rock; route ways where only the sure footed belonged.

It was a new view of an older understanding.

From the ridge I was led to the cave in which were resting two cubs. One dark with a golden chevron on their chest, one gold en with a darker chevron.

This was a new understanding, one which reminded that each year had two halves, complementary and necessary.

The cave was dark with crystals that danced and sparkled with gold and green hues we call it nuummite, the stone of the  sorcerer , the magician.

 

A Meditation

This then was to be the theme of this post – the four cities and the four directions.

The Book of Invasions tells us that the Tuatha de Dannan or the Children of Danu, flew in from the north bringing their four treasures with them; the Sword of Nuada, the Cauldron of the Daghda, the Spear of Lugh and the Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny.

The Sword of Nuada it was said that no one could escape it once it was unsheathed. But a sword was not just a battle implement in ancient times. It was a symbol of wisdom, skill, creativity, honor, truth and discernment. In legends a noble sword uncovered truth and slayed falsehood.

The Cauldron of the Daghda was a magical inexhaustible container of food from which no one left unsatisfied and Druids were said to be able to bring slain warriors back to life by dipping them into magical cauldrons of healing

The Spear of Lugh was said to make its bearer invincible, it belonged to the bright shining God who was “Master of Every Art”.  Lugh was a great warrior and also a magician, a goldsmith, a harper, a healer and many other things besides. His bright spear symbolized mastery of talents, the growth of wisdom, intense focus on a skill or an art, profound intelligence, the fire of Otherworldly inspiration, the fires of thought and the fire in the head.

The Stone of Fal or the Lia Fáil was the magical coronation stone that roared when the true king put his feet upon it. A “Lia” is a worked or inscribed stone, not a rough natural stone. With its base in the ground and its top in the air it is a boundary marker between one world and another just as the true king must be a bridge from this world to the divine realms. The color of the stone is grey, symbolic of wisdom and knowledge and a “Fail” is an enclosure or protective ring that surrounds and guards the kingdom. Thus this stone, which was said to reside at Tara and which was later taken to Scotland (and then purloined by the English crown) is an ancient stone that has been inscribed in a sacred and mysterious way so that it guards the kingdom. When the true ruler, one who is a wise and a true protector of the land approaches it will speak out clearly. Until then the stone will stay silent, holding its secrets and guarding their power for the rightful king who is to come.

In the Yellow Book of Lecan we read ….

There were four cities in which the Tuatha Dé Danann learnt wisdom and magic, for wisdom and magic and deviltry were of service to them.

These are the names of the cities: Failias and Findias, Goirias and Murias. From Failias was brought the Lia Fail, which is at Tara, and which used to cry out under each king who assumed the sovereignty of Ireland. From Gorias was brought the sword which belonged to Nuada. From Findias was brought the spear of Lug. And from Murias was brought the caldron of the Dagda.

Four wizards were in these cities. Fessus was in Falias, Esrus was in Gorias, Uscias was in Findias, and Semias was in Murias. From them the Tuatha Dé Danann learnt wisdom and knowledge. No battle was maintained against the spear of Lug or against him who had it in his hand. No-one escaped from the sword of Nuada after he had been wounded by it, and when it was drawn from its warlike scabbard, no-one could resist against him who had it in his hand. Never went an assembly of guests away unsatisfied from the caldron of the Dagda. And the Lia Fail, which is at Tara, never spoke except under a king of Ireland.

From this we derive …

The Spear

Ruling Deity                 Lugh

Ruling Element             Fire

Direction                      South

City of Origin               Gorias

 

The spear of Lugh is not simply about battle and hunting it can be  a symbol of single-minded aim. direct action; channeled attention.

The Stone

Ruling Deity                 Fal

Ruling Element             Earth

Direction                      North

City of Origin               Falias

 

Fal’s stone is the grounding agent in the realm Celtic symbols. It seems to know ‘what is in mens hearts’ and recognizes a worthy and wise leader.

The Sword

Ruling Deity                 Nuada

Ruling Element             Air

Direction                      East

City of Origin               Findias

 

Nuada was the king of the Tuatha de Danann, and so, his sword (claideb) among Celtic symbols extremely powerful. It is the sword which can shape will.

 

The Cauldron

Ruling Deity                 Dagda

Ruling Element             Water

Direction                      West

City of Origin               Murias

 

Cauldrons are associated with the moon, water, the womb, openings – all female attributes. However, Dagda is a god – and so masculine. The cauldron is his talisman and he is a Good God, a God of fertility and abundance.

Are these are the stations, the points we can use to locate ourselves, the four tools we can acquire and the four qualities to which we can aspire?

Alan

 

 

 

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Published: April 1, 2014

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