Tag Archives: Druid Animal Oracle

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

Advertisements

Two-wit Two-woo (or how I drew the same card as last year!)

Well that’s a first! During the annual fortelling of my focus for the year ahead I’ve, so far, drawn a different animal card from my DAO deck, and some have even been reversed. I have never drawn the same card twice, however. Even if the meaning is slightly different.

The Cailleach hasn’t finished with me it seems…..

2017

Was a year of mixed blessings, so the whole given meaning of ‘Turning a disadvantage into an advantage….‘ was very true:

I auditioned for The Last Revolution under the impression of not singing…. but I did! It totally pushed my boundaries and was a brilliant experience!

I was moved stores (again!) But have learned much about my working self and have even been inspired by my team. I also learned hard truths about myself, so that worked out well. Bizarrely enough, I have whole heartedly adopted the ‘Viking Mentality’ work wanted us to take for our busiest season. Mainly because this resonates with my beliefs anyway: be courageous, never give up, seek wisdom, seek challenges, respect others and yourself, seek opportunities, value loyalty, let your actions speak for you, live the life you want, and above all else…. turn disadvantages into advantages!

I’ve spent most of the year fighting with Impetigo. An infection that can most definitely go fuck itself off. However, it has shown me how to be cleaner than I already am…. ok, I’m struggling to find a positive on this one…. all I’ll say is I’m now a member of the ‘Wash Your Hands After Going Anywhere in Public’ club.

The card also speaks of being drawn to the study of esoteric lore or even Clairvoyancy…. I don’t know about that, but I have:

  • Learned about looking after myself after burning out.
  • Helped my Pagan group with spirit problems. The Prayer for Peace is awesome for this.
  • Developed my ‘Five Senses Meditation’.
  • Followed my inspiration to lead the Samhuinn ceremony for my Druid Grove.
  • Followed my gut……

Not only did my gut dare me to go for the audition, it also dared me to ask Devi out for a drink. ‘Go on….’ it said. ‘Ask her if she fancies meeting up with you for a drink. You’ve only met her the once, a few years back, and briefly spoke to her last Samhain…. Go on, you won’t regret it….

…..and I haven’t regretted it one bit! Devi is the love of my life and she’s amazing. We met for our first date back at the end of April, we found we really got on. In time we discovered we connected on so many levels and haven’t looked back since.

2018- Owl, Reversed.

Yeah, I think I laughed out loud after I put the card back in the deck, turned all the cards the right way round, shuffled them, split the deck, turned one half upside down and shuffled them again until one refused to go back in….. I wasn’t expecting Owl again.

Owl reversed still contains elements of the upright, so turning a disadvantage into something positive, as well as development of one’s intuition still applies. It mainly speaks of a warning against seeking detachment as an escape and to seek the bright side as changes happen….. and with the Owl card being the harbinger of change, changes will indeed come.

Owl-right, my son? 

This would have been written New Years Day were it not for the extreme hangover I had suffered. Regardless, I consulted the Druid Animal Oracle for my yearly focus.

Of dragons and potential

Last year’s card signified 2016 as being a year for discovering my inner potential power, it was not wrong! Last year I had:

  • Successfully auditioned for the part of Watson in a comedy version of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • Performed two theatre plays back to back.
  • Provided the voice for the ‘Where Witchcraft Lives’ exhibit in Brighton.
  • Learned a great deal of my strengths and weaknesses.
  • Found my place in my day-job and I’m fine with it!
  • Became a member of a brand new theatrical events group.
  • Completed my Bardic course and review.
  • Completed my Ovate initiation just in time for Yuletide.
  • Learned what my acting type is.
  • Discovered where I went wrong in my marriage.
  • Cut my long hair off in the name of charity.

So yes, quite a lot, really!

Eyes in the night

And where does my focus lie for 2017? The card drawn for this year is Owl, or Cailleach Oidhche . The card for detachment, wisdom and change. It speaks of turning a disadvantage into an advantage, also it signifies a call to explore the Otherworld with studying esoteric lore and clairvoyancy. Not sure about speaking with the dead, but seeming as I will be beginning my journey into the world of the Ovate (mystic, seer, healer) this is apt indeed.

I am aware of the Owl being named as one of the oldest creatures of the Earth, according to one of the tales of the Mabinogion. In another tale, it is the final form inflicted upon Blodeuedd by the sorcerer Gwydion. Owl is also associated with the Cailleach, although which specific one, I am not sure. Either way, both Owl, the Cailleach and studying esoteric lore are to be treated with respect.

Art by Bill Worthington.

Here be Dragons…

image
Earth Dragon, art by Bill Worthington.

Ah, 2016, I’ve been expecting you.

With all the strong winds we had this winter, I got the feeling that the winds of change had already arrived; eagerly pushing 2015 out of the way as if 2016 couldn’t wait to get here. 

2015 has been a busy year for me.  I got moved store (again) and have even taken steps to help me back on the road of acting.

Comparing to last year’s reading, how did things play out?

Venom: I lost my cat, Loki.  She was my companion, my little girl and my pain in the arse all at once. I had her put down after she was attacked by a Fox as her chances of survival were extremely slim.  Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. 

I broke the heart of my friend and fellow Grove mate, River.  I thought I was ready for a new relationship and after three months, realised I wasn’t.  So I ended it and hurt her badly.  Looking back on it, I see now that was what’s called a ‘rebound’.  We have spoken since and says she has forgiven me.  I wouldn’t say we are the friends we used to be, but at least we are civil now. 
  The venom was my broken heart and the lesson of Adder reversed is to use the poison that harms into one that cures.  Loki’s death reminded me of the savage side of Nature, it was a serious wound that was brought through the cycle of survival.  I think it would have been worse if I found her after getting run over by a car.
  As terrible as breaking up with River was, things happened in motion to change her life for the better, from what she told me, she has discovered Buddhism which has taught her to let go of the past and embrace the future. 
  I learned a lot about myself from this experience and now know who I am, as well as who I don’t want to be.

Honey: The card of Bee represents community, celebration and organisation.  2015 was a very social year for me, I am blessed with many friends wether it is my Grove, my housemate, my workmates, both my social and spiritual circles.  I even left Pagan Pride in an official capacity, in a good place. 
  With the Am Dram group, I bonded really well with my fellow cast and crew in the One-Acts of that summer.  I spent NYE with Cludgie’s family and mutual friends. It was Cludgie who gave me the final push to go for the role I auditioned for and got.  The director had previously asked if I’d be interested in reading for it and I thought of every reason not to.  I’m glad Cludgie talked me round.
 
Three major creative things happened this year too: me, Strider and Dumbledore got together and formed our storytelling group “Tales From the Fireside”, a separate venture from our Grove that was described by one event organiser as “I knew you’d be good, I didn’t expect you to be awesome”.
  The other was joining the Actors Workshop here in Notts.  Making some good friends and progress in my performing skills.
  And filming the Promo of Gallows Bait in Sherwood Forest, dressed as a proper highwayman for two days!

2015 was for me a year of discovery, having courage enough to do what it is I want to actually do (and sowing the seeds for it to happen) and being surrounded by wonderful people, old and new.  I also did a lot of guest speaking this year, touching on new subjects for me as well as revisiting old ones.

Dragons: I was quite hungover on New Year’s Day when I drew the card for 2016 and as soon as I saw what my focus for this year was, I said in my best George Takei voice: ‘Ohhh Myyyyyyy’ Earth Dragon or ‘Draig-Talamh’ is the card of accessing your inner potential, as well as recognising the potential in others. 
Here’s hoping 2016 will be a very productive year!

Fidelity To Your Deity?

Merry Imbolc, folks!

I found it curious that in modern Druidry, Imbolc has been declared as the first celebration of Spring.

Seriously?

I mean, this is when Winter bites the hardest, right? The nights are gradually getting shorter, but they aren’t getting warmer just yet.  When the air is milder and the birds return and that smell of plant life is here THEN come back and tell me we can start celebrating Spring!

Be that as it may, I brought in Imbolc at home on Sunday 1st Feb (I know… Going with the modern calendar instead of the New Moon in February -18th for Astronomers and 21st for the religious- what WAS I thinking!?) by taking down the Yule decorations and keeping my Tree Lights up on my wall.  I also put my lava lamp in a more prime place… Bringing in the light indeed!

I also did a very short and private honouring ceremony, I was meant to be joining my friends for a night of Geeky pleasures, but wanted to give offerings to the Divine.

I lit my candle and offered the Gift of Air: Patchouli incense for honouring the Gods.  The Gift of Liquid: Seeming it was Imbolc or “Lactation” I thought Goats Milk was appropriate.  For the Gift of Earth I offered a bowl of cooked pork mince (homemade Bolognese sauce- from scratch muddafukka!) As Pork is food of the Gods, after all.  This is a version of the Land, Sky, Sea mind set which I developed on. 

I dedicated these to the Cailleach (Grandmother), The Morrigan (Queen) and to Brighid (Lady).  The bracketed titles are just what I feel drawn to when those Goddesses come to mind.  I just don’t see them as the Maid, Mother, Crone that modern Paganism is so keen to pigeonhole.  Afterwards, I sat in silence for a few moments and was urged to use the DAO. 

image
Bringing in the light... Unconvetionally!

I pulled out the card, Corr, the Crane, upright.  The card of patience, transition and hidden knowledge.  I’d read somewhere that it was one of the Birds of the River Goddesses, so I took it to mean that the Goddesses I called to were pleased with my offerings.  Just as well, because I encountered something I didn’t expect: a question of loyalty.

For all those who normally follow my blog, then you’ll already know I work with and revere the Morrigan.  And in a way, dedicating this seasonal celebration to her and two others, seemed (at least in my mind) like I was cheating on Her.  The card helped alleviate this, but there was still that niggling feeling of ‘Aawww! You’ve included other Goddesses… Just you wait until she finds out!’ In the back of my mind.  Which is ridiculous.  Both Morrigan and Brighid come from the Tuatha De Danaan and I have sworn no fealty to only one.  By rights, I have paid my respects with Danu, Brighid, Lugh, The Dagda and the Cailleach and even Dian Cecht before the Morrigan came into my life.  I certainly didn’t replace her with either of the two deities, I gave respect according to their seasons: End of Autumn for the Cailleach and the ending of Winter for Brighid.

The way I see it, The Morrigan is my prime Goddess.  She is my teacher and guide to my ‘warrior’ self.  The part of me that requires action.  Brighid is a Goddess of Bards (amongst others) and is a bringer of the flames of inspiration which can only be made physical by action.  The Cailleach, in whichever version I am talking to…. Being in the East Midlands, I am going to guess Black Annis is the Cailleach of these lands… a future blog there, methinks! She is the primal Goddess of Time and its cycles, the mysteries she knows of are more ancient and deeper than any.  And because I accept there are more than one deities in the universe, I was quite pleased when the Crane card came up.  If it does indeed symbolise the water goddesses, then that means no harm done and respect was rightly given for all three.

Venom & Honey

Hello 2015!

I did promise to write this for yesterday, but I brought in New Year’s Day with the last episode of The Black Adder (Always had a soft spot for the series that not many people like) and playing a good and proper dice rolling RPG with my brother (He is red-headed, which according to lore is bad luck for the rest of the year… racist y’see) and friend.

Last years blog, Quoth the Raven,  Had me explaining about a few New Year’s customs and a spot of divination.  So, what did last year’s prediction of my focus entail for 2014? Destruction in order to rebuild and passing through the darkest night before re-emerging to see the light of dawn once more.  How very true indeed.  Here’s what happened-

*Separation: Me and Pipes separated from our 10 year relationship and 6 year marriage.  It was very sad indeed and with heavy hearts we went our own ways.  I still occasionally see my Wife (ex-Wife) and we’ve remained friends.  I even popped round to see her on New Year’s Eve to see how she was, I’ll be joining her this weekend to help celebrate her birthday.

*New Beginnings: I moved out of my previous home into the present one that I share with my house-mate, Artemis.  I also picked up my performing again, acting in a play as well as developing my storytelling.

*Promotion: Of sorts.  I had assisted the Herald of the Druid Grove and after she stepped down earlier on last year, I took on the role until I did so officially at Samhain.

*Endings:  December saw my store close down for good (Its ok, I still have a job in the company, we all got moved to another store), it also saw me read my last Gwersu of the Bardic Grade… I have a lot to do before I move onto Ovate, however.

So, 2014 had seen me broken hearted, yet imbued with creativity.  It saw me take on responsibility when my friend and fellow Grove member needed some serious time out.  It saw me relocate to a warmer house full of geekery.  It brought me some amazing times with my friends, without whom I would have been consumed by bitterness and despair; whether hanging out, in a ceremony, going to Glastonbury or giving me recommendations on certain events to ply my trade, or kicking the shit out of thousands of monsters.  Its saw me say goodbye to the store that provided an income at the very last minute of my redundancy back in 2011, it saw me reach the end of my Bardic Course… making my Solstice Toast & Boast happen in days!  But I have yet to complete it…  And finally it saw me find strength within myself to survive the end of mine and Pipes’ relationship.  I cried my tears and swore out my rage in a very short space of time, but it took me a long while to get used to the void that appeared.  I know Pipes’ condition and how she has suffered, but I don’t think she’d appreciate me putting on here her ordeals.  I decided to pick myself up and get busy.  My heart is healing, but I now keep it heavily guarded without being heartless in my own self.  Will I love again? never say never.  I’ve decided I need to learn to love myself before I go looking to love another.

2015: 

Nathair and Beach
Nathair and Beach

I consulted my DAO twice.  Once just after Midnight in the morning of 1st Jan 2015 and again around 11am.  The first time round was as a demonstration to Artemis and our mate, Jogger (she jogs).  On both accounts I asked the question of “What do I need to focus on in 2015?

The card in response was: Adder Reversed.  It means that instead of allowing the venom within to cause harm to others, it suggests I use it to bring healing to other people as well as myself.  It also means transformation.

For some reason, once I had awoken and tidied up the living room from our drinking session, I wanted to draw another card.  Not instead of, mind you, but in addition.  As if there was a feeling that there was more for the New Year to offer.  And the second card was: Bee.  The card of celebration, community and working with the seasons as well as the power of the Sun.

If I was to dare and put this together (a dangerous idea, but let’s try it anyway!) then I would say that after working with the darkness of last year, and for me, 2014 was about facing and working with my own darkness; this year brings healing and transformation, allowing me to emerge once again into the light of day.  And with celebrating with others, provide a chance of healing others as well.  However, there is the knowledge that these things tend to work out differently than expected.  And rest assured, it’ll go straight on here when it does.

“Quoth the Raven…”

Here we are: 2014, a year away from the Hover Boards we were promised in the movie ‘Back to the Future 2’.

Bringing in the New Year has undergone many changes, especially in modern times where the mainstream celebrate with fire works and lighting Chinese Lanterns, perhaps unknowingly passing the old year and welcoming the new with the most basic (and instinctive) method of communal celebration: fire.

The New Year in folk tradition paints this as a time of transition, not only numerically, but in the world around us as well as the Otherworld.  Yorkshire lore has it that high winds around NY are the ‘Winds of Change’ where the new year is literally blowing away the old year, its effects and energies being cleared away.  In some areas including Yorkshire and beyond (apparently this also applies in Southampton), it was tradition to open all the windows just after midnight to let out all the bad luck and spirits gained from the old year… you had to be careful closing the windows though, because you could end up trapping a passing spirit in your home!

And in this transitional chaos, the world was seen as being in flux.  Meaning, if you knew where to look you could divine what the new year portended.

One Celtic tradition has it that if you were to watch the skies all of NY night, and you knew your clouds, you could tell what the year has in store.  I honestly can’t remember where I got that from, I think its Irish with variants in Scotland and Wales.

Others include:

* First Footing: good or bad luck on you and your household depending on the looks of the first man to come to your door just after midnight:
Dark Hair: Good fortune
Red Hair: Bad fortune (there’s your racist).
In fact, with that tradition, apart from the dark haired fella, any red headed, squint eyed, flat footed, women (there’s your sexist) are all bad luck!  Although if a man has a high instep or rides a horse then that’s very good luck (!?…).    I have flat feet and, in the right light, red in my hair, so next year I might go and knock on the doors of any neighbours who piss me off!

* Clocks: Should be wound up at the time of the beginning of New Year to bring good luck.

* Waking up: For a girl to awaken in the morning of New Years Day to see a man pass by, from her bedroom window, supposedly meant she can hope to be married before the year is ended.

So, getting into the spirit of New Year divinations, I asked my Druid Animal Oracle this simple question:

What do I need to focus on in 2014?

The answer:

image

Raven (Bran) reversed.

It means recognising that you cannot build or make foundations of something new without the destruction of the old.  It can also represent having to endure the dark in order to find the light.
Or it can mean the realisation of opposites “in light there is darkness, and in darkness, there is light”. There are stars in the night sky and there are embers that darken in any fire.

I will admit to thinking “Oh shit” when I drew it, but at the same time there is a sort of dread excitement… a development of something new but something will have to give way, what that will be is for 2014 to reveal.

“Allons-Y!”

Sources

Anonymous, ‘The Complete Book of Fortune: The secrets of the past, present & future revealed‘, Blaketon Hall Ltd, Exeter, 1988, p. 483.

Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, ‘The Druid Animal Oracle Deck‘, Connections Book Publishing Ltd, London, This version printed 2005, pp. 20.  Illustrated by Bill Worthington.