Category Archives: Musings/Thoughts

Dealing with ghosts Pt.2- How Do You Know If One Is There?

Photo by pxhere.com
Photo by pxhere.com

As previously stated in Pt.1, 99% of phenomenon in hauntings and ghost hunting vigils are everyday experiences within buildings heightened by excitement, imagination, and expectation of something happening.

But what about that 1%?

How do you know if there is something there?

Well, chances are if something is definitely there, it will make itself known.

The Physical With my physical senses, I have heard footsteps, voices and felt hands upon my shoulder. Each of these was in different locations was ultimately quite ordinary until I realised with a “Did that just happen!?” The touching was in a seance and there was definitely no physical person behind me.

With my own eyes I have seen things I cannot explain, each time was very unlike a Hollywood ghostly encounter. If anything, they were so ordinary, that at first I just assumed they were either a customer or a colleague, or even my own mother (see below). But in all cases, they seemed as solid as you and me, which is why I discounted them until I realised there was no one actually there. And each time, they were slightly blurred, a bit like when I’m looking at someone without my glasses or contact lenses. It was as though I could see them, but wasn’t able to see them properly…. perhaps wasn’t supposed to see them, but at those points my perception must have changed. The examples I gave in the first post were other things I had seen and experienced, all occurred when I wasn’t looking for anything, I wasn’t even thinking about such things. Except for when I was in a seance.

One, which stands out, was from childhood. When we were kids, me and my brother shared a bedroom and slept with the light on. Yes, I was I scared of the dark….. anyway, I awoke one night and heard my brother stirring and my eyes were drawn to the figure of my mother standing at the doorway, she wore her green and blue jumper and her hair was long in those days and because of the way it fell, her face was in the dark. I turned to my brother and told him it’s ok, Mum was there. I asked her the next day why she was standing at the doorway and she claimed she didn’t. Mum was never one for sleep walking, and even if she did, she never went to bed wearing a jumper, especially in spring. So who or what did I see? Year’s later, Mum confided that many years ago, she awoke to see a little boy and a little girl dressed in turn of the century (early 20th Century) clothing standing at the end of her bed. Even if these are descriptions of being in a hypnogogic state, I still get chills thinking about the apparition at the doorway.

Another way, would be for a spirit to do things, open cupboards, move objects, slam doors, throw objects. I can’t say I’ve encountered these, except that one time my hole-puncher decided to leap from the back of a shelf and to the floor for no reason, but I know others who have….. especially when one of them (best mate, very down to earth fella, not one for making things up) lived alone in his grandmother’s flat (she had died a few years previously) and he came home to find all his cupboards wide open. Years later, back in 2016, I was visiting as we were doing a show together and I praised him for having a self boiling kettle…. turns out it didn’t self boil and had never had a history of switching itself on….. I made sure I thanked his gran and made myself a cuppa. Might as well.

The Psychic

Sometimes you walk into a place and it just feels odd. I’m a big believer in emotional resonance and that if an emotional reaction is strong enough, it can stay in that particular room. The rest of a building might feel placid, whereas one room might make you feel sad, afraid, angry etc for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes whole places feel like this, be it a building or even an outdoor space.

Though you might not see any spirits, you might get any of the following. Please bear in mind this is not an exhaustive list and I’m only going on what I have experienced myself:

  • Hairs standing on end and the feeling of not being alone.
  • Feeling emotional in one particular place, even though you were feeling fine and focused seconds before.
  • Images, faces, names, dates repeating themselves over and over and over again.
  • Voices in your mind that are not your internal monologue.
  • Your aura and personal space being “touched” despite no physical thing being there.

I’m sure there are plenty more ways to detect a spirit of some kind, you might have found your own ‘sensors’ in different ways.

A Note On Psychics: I would never go so far to say that I am a psychic. The genuine ones, or at least the ones I have met, tend to be very quiet about being such. And some of those people can’t switch it off, they live with it and carry on with life as best as they can. Others, have some ability of varying degrees and can sense some things, but even then only when something is being active (I would class myself in this category). Then there are those who want to stand out and be special and declare to the world about how they see spirits all the time and how they see “orbs” left, right and centre, yet are strangely quiet when someone needs help of a spiritual kind.

I believe the quiet, respect the unassuming and have no time for the loud.

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Dealing with ghosts…..

Janine Melnitz: Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP , clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?

Winston Zeddmore: Ah, if there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say. – Ghostbusters, 1984.

Throughout my childhood, I was both fascinated and scared of the paranormal. I was all too ready to watch ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ cartoons, read the comics and shared the toys with my younger brother. (Ok, I hogged them, sorry Bruv.) Although when watching the film for the first time when I was 7 (I think?), I totally freaked out! I would loan books from the local school library about mysteries, ghosts, vampires, werewolves and all things generally spooky. Worry not, these weren’t ye olde demonick tomes in easy access of children, these were all children’s books printed by Osbourne, Hamlin, Penguin and others, all with photos and drawings (some of which kept me awake at night!) and were a little old fashioned, even back then- the most recent of which was circa 1982! I was very happy to believe ghosts were real and I could see them (safely) in children’s shows and in books….. I’d have been absolutely terrified to have seen a real one in my own house!

So, growing up looking into these things and wanting to be a real life ghost buster (at 8 years old, I had high aspirations!), earned me a bit of a reputation as being a bit weird. To me, that was interesting. Way more fun than football and sports! Even when I decided to become Christian, I couldn’t help but take notice that there were things in this world that people tended to…. ignore. That fascination stayed with me and so began my journey from Christianity to Shamanism, to Wicca, to Hedgewitchcraft and of course to Druidry. Even today, the partner of one of my older cousins refers to me as “Merlin” and jokingly asks “What’s Merlin up to now?” It’s a laugh and I often tell my cousin “Tell him Merlin says Hi!” And that’s as far as the “Merlin” thing goes for me. But, I digress.

And it was a member of the family who sought my advice on this very subject: One of my younger cousins messaged me recently, telling me she and her long-term boyfriend are putting a deposit down on a rather nice looking flat….. in a reconverted mental hospice from 1880. And she wanted to know if she had to be worried about anything spooky being there…..

Now, I resisted all urges of my sense of humour kicking in and making stuff up stuff about her having to watch out for her being possessed, climbing walls and seeing the patients in the mirror as well as messages of “REDRUM!” bleeding from the walls…..that would have only fueled her worries. I got the idea she wouldn’t have seen the funny side.

Instead, I did the decent thing and told her the truth: There was nothing to worry about. Truth is, a lot of it is all hype and expectation. Yes, you get reports of haunted hospitals and hospices. And yes my young cousin has had her potential future neighbours say there’s been a few strange things going on. But this doesn’t mean that every building of the type has to be haunted by spirits of the dead.

I haven’t followed the ghost hunter route, but I did take part in a few seances, ghost hunts and even carried out my own investigations. I’m not an expert in this field, there are others who are way more experienced than me. But what I found when it came to going around looking for ghosts was: a lot of it is down to what people bring with them.

99% of a haunting is in fact quite mundane in what causes it: houses move and creak, as do pipes and wood. Pockets of temperature occur in buildings, as do damp and dry spots. Even vibrations from a road can affect a building in some way. When you take these things into account, these are everyday things that go on in every buildings everyday. It’s amazing how terrifying they can be when you become all excited about being in a reputable place and suddenly the sounds of the automatic ventilation switching on become “psychokinetic phenomenon feeding on the collective psychic energy and interfering with electric machinery”. When looking for ghosts, people want things to happen and will jump at the most simplist thing when they are primed for an encounter or disturbance.

But what about that 1%?

What about when you are in a dark room with a group of others and the dark actually gets physically thicker, the air gets colder?

What about that time you walk past a door and you see the figure of a person and you discount it as one of your colleagues until you realise no one else is in the same area?

What about that dark shape that flies past the living room and not only do you see it, your housemate asks if you saw it too?

What are those lights you see in and above the trees after a Druid ceremony?

Those are my experiences, and they happened and I saw them, felt them with my own eyes and body. Do I know what they were? No. Ok, the palpable dark thing was most likely the fact no one’s eyes were adjusting to the dark as there was no dusk light to allow us to do so. And you know what physically happens when you become afraid? Your hair stands on end, and adrenaline is all ready to kick in that flight response. If you’re already expecting something to happen, then you’ve wound yourself up before you gotten started.

Do I believe in ghosts? Not quite. I have seen things but I don’t know what they were. Do I believe in energy? Absolutely! Do I believe that energy from people can not only be shared, but also affect a place where there is already a strong energy resonance? Yes I do!

So, how did I explain this to my younger cousin?

I told her that they’ll be fine. That Hollywood has a lot to answer for in terms of making what happens in hauntings waaaayyyyy bigger than what really happens.

I told her that if she wants to make absolutely sure, she can burn some smudging sage, taking it to every corner in every room whilst chanting:

“with this smoke I bring peace, for this space we bring peace, for this home we live in peace”.

The idea being that even if there is the remote chance of something there, if you let it know you are there and don’t want to bother it, it should leave you alone. Plus the smudging helps with ridding any negative energies. I did also recommend that if anything did happen, she is to keep a log, recording of any instances….. and to keep me informed. Just in case I’m wrong.

I am no expert on this subject, but I have found it is easier to make peace with a spirit (human, animal or other) than it is to attempt to force one out.

Click here for Pt.2 .

Fire and Water

I’ve been lucky this year. I wasn’t actively seeking acting work after adapting to my new home and making it mine.

But, so far this year, I have been asked to do a storytelling spot for the Keyworth Festival in July, here in Nottinghamshire. I was put into a link conversation via social media for another storytelling gig, this time in Derbyshire. The last was a no go, but I learned to respect my craft enough to put a value to it rather than do it ‘for the love of it’.

I have just finished filming a short film project, the main bulk has already been filmed, and we recently filmed the last scene on Monday, and I got to utilise my make up skills. This will go to making my showreel, so others can see my acting and I can gain more work.

In the Pagan scene, I was asked by a friend of mine to do a talk for one of the local Pagan moots in May, so I revisited the talk subject and will be doing it again for another Pagan meeting later this month!

I was also put in contact with a director who is making an independent series about Druidry in Derbyshire….. we’ll be filming in 2019.

Through my acting circles, one friend contacted me about a mutual friend selling his microphone and interface, knowing I want to start voice acting, he told me about it….. I now own them.

I was even contacted by a theatre company asking if I’d be interested in acting for a university course in the exam held for the students: I learned much about thinking on your feet and improvising on the fly. This also taught me what ‘acting is lying truthfully in imagined circumstances’ is really like. It was awesome, draining but fun.

I have recently become involved in another filming project, involving AI and depression.

I make it sound easy don’t I?

None of these have fallen into my lap, they have all come from work and effort I have put out already.

The Way of Fire

My earlier life as an adult was all about getting things done. NOW. I had the energy, I had the vision and I had the fire to do it. Even if my know-how wasn’t great, I still went ahead. And I had the burning desire to get everything going before my thirties. I envisioned myself as being in Hollywood blockbusters by the time I was 36 as I’d already be ‘doing it’. I had the raging and burning fires of the heart to do everything.

Then I sacrificed it for another dream…. which I wanted to believe was my calling, it wasn’t. But I learned a lot about my genuine self and about life outside the world of performance. Sadly, I had doused my inner fire until I reigniting it years later…. only this time, it wasn’t a blazing bonfire to be seen from miles around, this was a carefully made fire to keep me warm.

After moving into ‘Project Potter‘ I was afraid. I didn’t have the urge to pursue any acting at all. Was I kidding myself? Did I really want this? Why wasn’t I actively doing it? All I had done was ask a couple of actor friends of mine for advice on how to proceed and what is to be done. And that was back in the last weeks of January; Ha! Just writing that bit made me realise….. this was the voice of the fire of my twenties. The voice that had an energy I can no longer keep up with. I am a fiery and impatient person, and I always have been.

However, life in my thirties has taught me a lot that the me in my twenties didn’t know…. such as: you can burn yourself out and make yourself ill. You can’t just jump into making your dream a reality so soon after moving home.

The Way of Water

My friend, Dumbledore, as well as being a Druid, follows the way of Zen. And through the years I have known him, I disagreed with the teaching of “by doing nothing, you are doing something….“. This was anathema to me. My lesson of 2017: “Nothing is accomplished without action” was the result of things I had pushed to happen that year. In fact, in pushing my way back into acting, I made the effort of getting myself out there: I joined an Am-Dram group to get myself back into the swing of things, I took up storytelling, got new headshots done through generous friends of mine (Thank You. All of you), became part of a story telling trio, performed at open Mic nights and events, joined the Actors Workshop to regain and learn new skills, attended networking nights and went for the opportunities presented. Some I got, others I didn’t. On the latter it’s not about what you didn’t succeed in, it’s what did you learn and take away with you? I’ve discovered. I also asked more experienced actors for their advice….. which resulted in me, now owning the equipment for beginning my voice work.

And so, yes, because of the actions in the way of fire, the way of water has now brought me projects to work on and go forward. The way of water is to let things come forward. Even though you may have done something, you might not get the results of that until another time….

In doing nothing, you are doing something“…… or in my case, in doing nothing I have allowed the actions of my past to bring things into my life, now.

Conclusions

It’s not about life owing you a living (those who believe otherwise are kidding themselves), it’s about opportunities arising and you making the choice to take them. By putting the work in you increase the chances of the opportunities to come, and by the time they arrive you make the effort to take them. Feed the energy and keep the momentum going. There is no free ride, it’s all work.

Magic Pigs

I originally wrote this for the blog of the Grove of the Corieltauvi. If you would like to read more on what we have done you can view it here.

Meeting took place on Thursday 12/04/18. 3rd Waning Crescent

Attendees: Danceswithweasels (welcome back!), Greenfingers, Locksley, Teller and Vyvyan (Darth Vyv). Big thank you to Teller and Vyvyan, for allowing us to use their place for hosting and for supplying bacon cobs after my talk. Especially when Teller is veggie. For those not familiar with East Midlands speak, “Cobs” are the local term for rounded bread rolls. Some other places call these “baps”, “rolls”, “buns”, or as my family in Sheffield call them “Bread-Cakes”. To any of the readers outside of the UK….. you wouldn’t BELIEVE how many arguments this causes…..

Anyway, Locksley, shut up and get on with the post!

Title Photo Credit goes to Greenfingers for allowing me to use his photograph.

Introduction

In all honesty? I thought it would be a laugh. At the AGM, I was handing Green Fingers our actual Magic Pig (a little bag for which we use for the collection of subs for us to purchase anything The Grove needs). I realised then that I actually hadn’t taken a meeting in a long time and wanted to do a talk on something and Magic Pig seemed to be as good as any. That and it seems to be a creature associated with many gods and heroes within Celtic mythology. Why was this?

Our Porcine Friends

Starting at the beginning, I read out the description of Sow from the Druid Animal Oracle. To make it fair, I read out both upright and reversed meanings. So we see the Pig as being associated with abundance and plenty, nourishment and sustenance, renewal and creativity.

The Reverse of this gives us a warning against relying on our vanity and “Pig Ignorance” to take other people for their worth, not just, their looks. Danceswithweasels quite rightly corrected me this was Sow and not Pig. True, but I wanted to keep it as the positive aspect of the animal, for the time being. Especially when we have a lovely picture showing said sow pretty much smiling as her litter run around and eat Beech nuts.

My original deck just had a small box and a booklet with the brief descriptions. I now have a second identical deck with a larger box and a book that goes into more detail…. Even telling of the sow, Henwen being linked to Ceridwen. More on this later.

Pigs are evolved from the Boar, which still exist today, they are intelligent, omnivorous and can have litters of up to a dozen piglets. Like us, they can adapt to any environment, and affect the local environment. If there are too many wild pigs foraging, then the nutrition count in the local area drops. This has a detrimental effect on the plant lives and eco systems of said area. If the nutrient levels return, then pigs will increase in population. No wonder we started eating them!

Grave Offerings

Whilst Boar bones are a rarity at burial sites, it appears pig bones and even joints of roasted pork were buried with the chiefs and warrior elite.

Professor Ann Ross writes:

… as suggested by the evidence from graves, where the placing of joints of pork beside the elaborately equipped chieftains indicates that this was intended to be the food for the feast beyond the grave, is bourne out to a striking degree in the Irish Tales. Here pork is the proper food to be served at the feast and in the ritual of hospitality in the courts of kings, and in the dwellings of the gods.”

It would seem that if pork was the best meat for the ruling and warrior castes of Celtic society, then it was good enough for the gods and for giving to be eaten in the Otherworld when the person is reborn in that world. Bit chewy for a newborn…. a gift for the family on the Otherside perhaps?

From The Otherworld

According to Irish myth, Pigs were brought with the Tuatha Dé Danaan, both The Dagda and Brigid kept pigs and boars. Considering the Boar was around in Both Great Britain and Ireland at the time, it would be interesting to see when breeds of pigs were introduced. Even if the Tuatha Dé Danaan didn’t bring pigs with them, somebody did…..

In Welsh myth, It was Gwydion who told Math, Son of Mathonwy of these strange little creatures called “pigs” or “hobeu”. They were the property of Pryderi, son of Pwyll, who was given this gift of pigs by Arawn, the lord of Annwfn (a realm of the Otherworld). So in both Irish and Welsh myths, we see pigs as being the property of supernatural beings, therefore linked with the supernatural in themselves.

Indeed, pigs in Celtic mythology seem to have magical abilities of their own:

Henwen– (Ancient White One) a sow under the protection of the Powerful Swineherd (Pryderi?) goes into the sea. She then comes to land and is not only pregnant, but brings both wheat and a bee to Gwent. She then goes to Llonion in Pembroke where she brings grains of wheat and Barley.

Pursued by King Arthur, she is never obtained by the King or his men, but she gives birth to a wolf cub and an eagle and a kitten. Each of these is given to a Prince, bad luck befalls each person who raises them. There are two Triads describing this tale, one tells of Henwen, being protected by the Powerful Swineherd (and in typical classical Celtic fashion, is not very clear on this title as being one person or three!) and that King Arthur is unable to obtain even one of the pigs through force or guile. The other describes Arthur as being after Henwen in order to kill her for carrying the ‘Womb-Burden’. But nowhere does the tale link with Ceridwen, at all. Vyvyan pointed out that it was Robert Graves, who had linked Ceridwen with Henwen. Personally, I think her name has more of a connection to the moon than the pig. Especially when her name can translate as either “Crooked (bent) Woman”, “Crooked Fair/white” or even “Poem Blessed”.

Pig of Duis– In the ‘Sons of Tuirenn’, the Sons attack Cian, father of Lugh (who tries to escape in the shape of a pig) but they murder him. As a fine for this, Lugh, chief of the Tuatha Dé Danaan charges them with the task of finding the skin of the Pig of Duis described as:

The skin of the pig is that owned by Duis, King of Greece. In whatever stream that pig walked, the water turned into wine, and the wounded and the sick became well when they drank it.”

The skin is also said to be as thick as two oxen hides, perhaps this is also a reference to death and burial rites once associated with the graves of warriors and chiefs?

Cormac’s Glossary describes pigs (especially red ones) as included amongst the animals whose flesh (along with cats and dogs) could be used for a method of divination called the Himbas Forosnai. This practice involves the chewing of the meat of one of the animals, puts an incantation on it and offers it to the gods and leaves it on the threshold of the door. Calling spirits, the poet is supposed to gain knowledge to what they seek. If that doesn’t work he says incantations over his palms, calls his spirits to help him and puts the palms over his to fall into a trance in order to gain the visions he seeks. The idea was to gain glimpses of the future through dreams.

Regenerating Pigs

Other magical pigs include the ability to be regenerated whole the day after being slaughtered and eaten. The Dagda supposedly had pigs and fruits that when roasted never diminished.

Usually there were conditions:

Cormac and the Fairy Branch: Pig, When King Cormac MacArt foolishly traded his family for a magical stick, he goes in search of his family and finds himself in the Otherworld. Invited into a hall, before him stands a man with an axe, a log and a pig. The man cuts the pig into four pieces with the axe and places the log under a cauldron of water. The man explains he helped a farmer regain his cows and that the farmer had given the pig, the log and the axe as a reward. The man tells King Cormac, that if he cuts the pig with the axe, and speaks a truth over the log, then, it will cook the pig and he shall have both again the next day.

Pigs of Essach– were slaughtered every night and cooked, but as long as their bones were whole and not gnawed upon, they would be alive again the next day.

We’re Going On A Boar Hunt…

Boars were seen as more aggressive and warlike. Indeed their physicality is different from pigs they have tusks, spiky hair and are sleeker in their build. Pigs have more fat whereas boars are leaner.

Boars in Celtic myth were described as fearsome creatures with tall black/dusky/even purple bristles on their backs, some had up to nine tusks in their jaws. Often a trail of destruction followed them, killing 50 warriors and 50 hounds in their wake. All the more terrifying as if to paint why the creature had to be stopped. The boar hunt was seen as one of ultimate skill, in some cases it was the initiation rite for the new chief…. if the stories are anything to go by, boars fought back!

Certainly, the Hero’s Portion was the prime cut of pork served at the feast to be given to the best warrior. The chief would take the next best, cementing that pork was the food of the chief and warrior classes before anyone else could have some. It is fitting then that boar imagery featured regularly on Celtic coins, weapons, altars, armour and even cauldrons.

The Boar hunt can be epitomised in the story of Culhwch and Olwen: Culhwch is charged by the terrible giant Ysbaddaden Pencaw (with no intention of these being possible so Culhwch cannot marry his daughter, Olwen) with many tasks. One of these was to hunt the dread boar, Twrch Trwyth, in order to obtain the razor and shears behind the creatures ears. Twrch Trwyth was a badass! Culhwch had to leave Wales for Ireland with King Arthur and a lot of his men in order to find him. Twrch Trwyth was kept for a time by Brigid along with two oxen, even in this form he was still fierce and ill-tempered (and responsible for some kind of weird demonic noises). Culhwch, Arthur and the men chased him around Ireland, back to Britain and Wales and after a huge fight resulting in the death of Twrch Trwyth’s piglets and plenty of Arthur’s forces the boar runs off into the sea. Turns out that Twrch Trwyth was actually a Chief who was turned into a boar for his wickedness, the same with his sons, yet was regarded chief of the otherworld boars. This entertained Teller no end as he quipped “I’ll still be a king even when I’m a boar, fuck you!” or something to that effect.

Bizarrely enough Culhwch’s name may have been an indication as to what his destiny held…. Culhwch’s name translates as “Pig-Run”!

In the Welsh tales, Gwydion after telling Math he will return with the pigs, goes to Pryderi with a band of travelling bards. Approaching Pryderi, Gwydion asks him for the pigs only for to be refused the request as they cannot be given until they are double their number. Gwydion then convinces Pryderi to exchange the pigs for twelve magnificent black and white horses, twelve magnificent white-breasted hounds and twelve magnificent golden shields as an exchange. The problem being that Gwydion had conjured up this illusion, which will last only a day. Pryderi pursues but was by Gwydion in single combat…. only Gwydion had used his magic once again to deceive so he could deliver the coup-de-gras. In this tale, the boar hunt is twisted into an act of cunning and deceit rather than skill. Certainly, this is an act of dishonour, resulting in the death of part of the three-fold Powerful Swineherd.

Also, the hero Diarmaid was fatally linked to the Boar he kills…. only to kill himself in the process as their lives were bound. The boar was in fact Diarmaid’s illegitimate half-brother who was magically changed into a boar by Roc, the boy’s father. Roc had been having an affair with Diarmaid’s mother and was shocked to see the boy flee a pair of hounds by going through Diarmaid’s father’s legs. In a moment of harboured jealousy, Diarmaid’s father began to crush the boy. Roc, using a magic wand turned the boy into a young boar-piglet and uttered a curse that the boy would grow into a fearsome vengeful boar and that Diarmaid would hunt him…. only to be killed by one of the bristles on the boars back. Bit harsh, especially when Roc could have used the wand to have healed his son instead of transmogrifying him.

So, forget turning people into toads, kids! Turning people into boars is where it’s at and this leads very well into the next part….

Shape-Shifting

Changing into other creatures is something that happened a lot in the old myths, the tale of Ceridwen and Gwion Bach, for e.g. has plenty of shape-shifting in it. In the tale: ‘The Sons of Tuirenn’, Cian shape-shifted into a pig, in order to escape his attack.

As we have seen, pigs and boars were a favourite creature to turn people into as punishment. Which implies an execution of sorts: their fate was to be killed in the hunt.

Twrch Trwyth was originally a king, but he and his sons were turned into boars for some unmentioned misdeeds. Despite being kept by Brigid, Herself, he still became the chief of the otherworld boars.

Gwydion, as punishment for both murdering Pyderi and for the rape of the maiden Goewin, was cursed into the form of a stag; along with his brother and accomplice, Gilfaethwy, a hind and they procreated. After that they were turned into a sow and a boar, repeating the cycle of bestial reproduction, taking turns on being male and female.

Madness

Speaking of shapeshifters, the wizard, Merlin, went mad for a time, the only creature he would talk to and with was a small piglet, to this pig, he shared his prophecy:

Listen, little pig,

Don’t sleep yet!

Rumours reach me

Of perjured chieftains,

And tight fisted farmers.

Soon, over the sea,

Shall come men in armour,

Two-faced men,

On armoured horses,

With destroying spears.

When that happens,

War will come,

Fields will be ploughed

But never reaped….

Listen, little pig,

Oh pig of Truth!

The Sybil has told me

A wondrous tale.

I predict a summer full of fury,

Treachery between brothers.

A pledge of peace will be required

From Gwynedd,

Seven hundred ships from Gynt

Blown in by the North wind.

In Aber Dyn they will confer.

Supposedly, this madness was brought on by grief, making Merlin live for a time in the woodlands where he would speak only to the animals he came across.

Why madness? The female pig can attack piglets in times of great stress, sometimes even eating them. According to Wikipedia, 50% of piglet deaths are caused by the mothering sow either attacking them or unintentionally crushing them. During these times of stress, perhaps people saw them as being mad…. another trait comparable to Humans.

In Conclusion

Both the Pig and the boar were seen in great esteem by our Celtic ancestors. They were respected for their fierce natures and strength. They were prized for their meat and fertility of litters. Neither was seen as a filthy, stupid animal The fact wild pigs and boars can have a negative effect on the land if they become too populous probably gave rise to descriptions of the destruction they supposedly brought with them. Hereby making an occasional cull of the species not only a necessity, but one to be seen as a test of strength, skill and courage.

As for the associations of the Otherworld, especially when the Boar was already native to Britain and Ireland, perhaps there is some truth in pigs being brought over, even if the memory had faded as to who this new breed came with. I think Anne Ross puts it best with her comment:

The favourite food of pigs is the acorn, and their passion for the fruit of this most venerated tree, the oak, must have increased their supernatural associations in the popular mind.”

Especially when we consider the oak as not only being revered, but was thought to represent the god Bilé, whose name means ‘Tree’, the consort of Danu. It was Bilé who brought the souls of the dead to Her.

Sources:

Books:

DAVIES, SIONED, The Mabinogion, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008.

ELLIS, PETER BERRESFORD, The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends, Constable & Robinson Ltd, London, 2002 ed.

GOMM, PHILLIP & STEPHANIE, The Drud Animal Oracle Deck, Illustrated by Bill Worthington, Connections Book Publishing Ltd, London 2005 ed.

HAMILTON, CLAIRE, Tales of the Celtic Bards: Myth and Music, O Books, Ropley, 2003.

MATTHEWS, JOHN, The Little Book of Athurian Wisdom, Element Books Ltd, Dorset, 1997 ed.

MATTHEWS, JOHN & CAITLIN, Celtic Myth and Legend: A definitive source book of magic, vision and lore- compiled, edited and translated by the Matthews, BCA, 2004 ed

ROSS, ANNE, Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition, Cardinal, London, 1974 ed.

Internet Links:

https://www.behindthename.com/name/ceridwen

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/pigs/

https://www.timelessmyths.com/arthurian/merlin.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceridwen

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig

Times of change in 2018 #1

For those of you who have read my post on the drawn card for the year, you’ll know that this year heralded a time of change. Well, nothing says change more like moving home!

The end of March saw me move into my very own flat, here in Nottingham.

This is a first for me, because I have never lived alone before. I doubt having my own room in the University accommodation hall’s back in my youth as a student counts.

My former housemate, Artemis, has gone off to live in the city she now works in; and I sincerely wish her the best. I suppose I could have advertised for another lodger, but I really felt the need to live alone for a while.

My new place is a basement flat in a reconverted Victorian house, when I told this to my Dad, he thought the worst, thinking I had some squalid setting devoid of sunlight. I can happily say I have windows. It’s not luxurious, neither is it state of the art (Remember those dial timers for your heater? Where you had to position the red and blue tags as the on and off for when your boiler could start and stop at different times? Yeah, it’s got one of those!) But it’s sufficient for my needs and plans for the moment.

There are plenty of birds in this area, as I startled a robin pirched on my gate and the morning chorus is becoming louder. There is a tree just outside, I think it’s a Sycamore, I’m not quite sure.

I was given the link to it by Devi, who had found it on Rightmove. I gave it a chance and it was the one place I looked at that actually felt homely.

So….. Because my new pad is a basement flat, Devi dubbed it “Project Potter”. To help me with my organising, she got me this note book and this wand pen. Her Chinese symbol is Snake, so she got me the Slytherin book. It feel this is very appropriate, for in Druidry, part of Snake’s energy is about being able to shed ones old life and growing into the new…..

The Sorting Hat had spoken…… damn, I was surprised!

A Cardinal Point

It’s been a week since ‘The Beast From the East’ hit Great Britain and Ireland. When I was originally typing this on Tuesday there wasn’t much evidence of the snow as it had either melted or had been washed away by the rain. Only sludge remained. Now, it’s completely gone.

Now, it’s not often we get snow in our country anymore. At least, nothing thick or what you would call ‘Proper Snow’. I remember as a kid back in the 1980’s of trying to build an igloo with my cousins, or even school being cancelled because the teachers couldn’t get there….. last week’s snow was a rarity.

In both Modern Druidry and the Western Magical Tradition the Cardinal Directions of the ceremonial circle are often associated with the following Alchemical Elements and a season:

East: Air (Spring)

South: Fire (Summer)

West: Water (Autumn)

North: Earth (Winter).

For those already familiar with this, so far so ordinary, right? Let me offer an alternative angle…..

Surely it makes more sense to have the element of water to go with Winter and for the element of earth to go with Autumn? At Autumn, that’s when it’s all about harvesting fruit and vegetables from the plants and the ground, right? Then there’s the leaves falling to the earth, that will then become mulch. You can even smell the decomposition.

At Winter, there is rain, fog, frost, snow and ice. There was even icicles last week, I haven’t seen icicles in decades! Also, for the Celts, water and fog were seen as portals to the Otherworld. As well as being a time of hardship and difficulty, Winter would have been a season when not everyone would have survived until snowmelt. Supposedly, the Gallic name for February translated as “The Month when no one travels.” ….. because the snow would have made it hazardous to trade. And if you were caught out in a blizzard and couldn’t find your way……

Ah, but Locksley, what are you saying? Have you not considered the geographical settings: the warm winds of the East, the warmer it gets the farther South you go, the Atlantic ocean to the west and the highlands of Scotland to the North?

Yes, yes of course I have, but let’s not forget that the Cardinal Points in this respect are flexible to the physical geography around them, too. Posing a question about this to my Grove-mates, Strider revealed he had attended a ceremony where the traditional elements of East and West were swapped around. Going one further, he suggested the directions of the Lincolnshire coast could go something like this: West as Earth (The Wolds, North as air (sky in this case) and East as water (the sea).

Either way, this all goes to show if a ritualistic act is going to be nature based, then it should be organically changed to suit the local environment.

Link to Part 2: The Fabulous Four Cities of the Tuatha Dè Danaan

Viking Mentality

During my day job’s busiest season, every store in the area was encouraged to take up what was called a ‘Viking Mentality’. This was partly for fun and gave us a theme to play with as we worked the season. Every store in the area took photos of staff in costume for our yearly charity calendar. Despite the fun aspect, it was mainly employed to inspire us to tap into our selling ‘Killer Instinct’ to make every sale count.

This was all started by someone reading a blog post by Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen. Upon reading a printed version of this blog post, I was indeed inspired! Not just in making every sale count; but more importantly, I found this applies to life in general.

Bull-Hansen does write that this way of thinking won’t be for everyone, but it resonated with me and I took it to heart. I have reworked some of the tenets as I didn’t want my interpretations to copy his…. that and these are what I understood them to say. I already do some of these and I’m working on others:

Be Courageous – Nothing is accomplished without action. Believe in yourself.

Never Give Up – If you want something enough, what are you going to do to get it?

Seek Wisdom – learn from your mistakes as well as the knowledge of others.

Seek Challenges – If we do not push ourselves, then how do we achieve?

Respect Others and Yourself – Offer respect to all and make yourself respectable. (Aka- Don’t be a dick!)

Take Opportunities – If an opportunity presents itself, seize it! You’ll only have yourself to blame.

Value Loyalty – If you don’t have loyalty in those close to you or even to yourself, what do you have?

Let Your Actions Speak For You – It’s all very well saying what you’re going to do, but what did you actually do?

Live the Life You Want -What’s it going to be?

Turn Disadvantages into Advantages – Turn your situation around, whatever the difficulty. Aka “Quit yer bitchin’ sort yourself out and make some good.

In Bull-Hansen’s original post there are only seven tenets, but he has written a whole series on this subject. Could these apply to you? Do you think you could/should adopt a ‘Viking Mentality’?