Tag Archives: Druidry

Alban Elfed 2018

Personal ceremony performed on Sunday 23rd September. Moon: 6th Waxing Gibbous (Pisc).

Today had seen me getting down and dirty….. I’d been weeding Devi’s garden and taking today slowly. We were blessed with a warm sun, so we took to working the gardens since noon. At just after 7, I went into the back garden and stood facing the centre. Fig trees and houses to the North, the hedge and distant trees to the East, the plum tree and black lace elderflower bush and distant birch trees to the South, a Mountain Ash with bright red berries to the West. A see of green all around and below me, a sky of pastel blue amid blazing pink and dark grey cloud all above.

The breaths were taken and the circle cast, I called to Fox of the North as Devi had caught foxes playing in the garden at summer.

Once sitting on the grass, I let the Awen take me and began speaking to the gods about summer’s end: the baleful eye of Balor now closed. For the exceedingly hot summer had dried out much of Great Britain’s green to a dried out yellow. Lugh was indeed victorious against Balor, for as July ended and August began, the heat started to decline and the rain came!

Like the last sun of summer, Lugh had led the Tuatha Dè Danaan to a time of peace until they were finally overtaken by a new race, the Milesians. After a last battle with these new people, Lugh and the Tuatha Dè Danaan had agreed to surrender the Isle of Destiny and take refuge in the hills of the land. Their memory remaining thereafter.

I told of Oisin’s return from the Otherworld to find his people and his warrior band, the Fianna, now gone after 300 years when he had spent only 3 years away. Telling his tale to a traveller before he died also, after coming into contact with the land.

I told of Arthur’s fatal wound and how he had asked Percival to return the Sword of Power to the Lady of the Lake. How upon telling Arthur the truth (after the third time, because Percival could not surrender the Sword the previous two times), Percival then saw Arthur being taken by Morgana Le Fae and her maidens on to a boat, carrying him to the Isle of Avalon, where he now supposedly sleeps until he is needed once again.

Things end, the cycle turns and things begin once again. I began to reflect on my own harvest for the year, I gave thanks for:

Gaining my flat.

Devi and I growing closer, for her being in and a part of my life.

My successful entry in the Monologue Jam.

I declared to the gods that I would use the autumn and winter to hone my skills as both actor and Ovate. Finding a way to balance the two.

And then I closed my eyes and listened…… to the wind in the trees and felt the specks of rain falling upon me, the blessings of the season; not a cleansing of renewal, but a cleaning and tidying of sorts.

Without seeking, visions came to mind telling me to say goodbye to the past, that I am safe and a toast to the future……

Upon waking and coming to, the sky had given way to dusk, and the garden’s solar lights had come on, like distant stars on the ground and in thr trees. At the time of recall I looked to the dying sunlight saying:

As the sun goes down, may it’s light and heat remain within my heart….

Alban Elfed, the Light of the Water indeed.

Advertisements

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.

Midwinter Solstice 2017- Lessons from the dark

I was going to put the ‘Yule’ chapter of my Wheel of the Year series as this festival’s entry, but it needs one hell of a re-write and, quite frankly, I’m not in the mood to rewrite pages of material.

Thursday marked the Winter Solstice and it was a dark, damp cloudy day. I was inspired! I wrote a piece for all my friends in Facebook land, I like to spread hope where I can.

Light, dark, balance is what counts. Lean too much towards the former and we see everything with rose-tinted glasses. There is no wrong in the world. Ignorance is bliss. Lean too much towards the latter and, well, there is everything wrong with the world.

I managed to get out of the house to take a walk in Highfields Park, just outside of Beeston, Notts. Although by the time I got there, the sun had already set and dusk would soon give way to night. This reminded me of the Owl card that I had drawn at the beginning of 2017. The concept of ‘Owl Time‘ was not lost on me.

Realising I was rushing through. I stopped and took in 9 deep breaths and closing my eyes. After that, I heard the sound of something in the lake. I turned and found a whole group of ducks swimming by the side of the man in the wheelchair being pushed by another. The ducks recognised him and were expecting to be fed…. their disappointment was evident when they started waddling along the embankment and quacking amongst themselves. A black bird with a white bill and stripe on its forehead ‘Pinged’ at the ducks. The scene was reminiscent of a uniformed official trying to keep order of loud football fans and the fans ignoring him as they pass him by.

Later, as I walked, it was getting darker but I could see to my right two white specks moving uphill. Two hares making their way. Do hares hibernate? I didn’t think so.

I went onto the small island where, surrounded by six tall Yew trees, I performed my ‘Five Senses Meditation’. By now it was dark and yet through the clouds, I could see cracks of a lighter sky. Night had not yet fallen.

Going to the lakeside, I made sure I wasn’t giving a false impression to the ducks (no snacks from this two-legged who didn’t think to bring munchies for the birds), bent down toward the water and held my right hand over the surface. Here, I gave my respects to the Lady of the Lake. When I was done, my hand was warm. And it was time to go home to perform my Ovate ceremony to greet the Solstice.

On my way home, I could see a clearing in the clouds getting larger until I reached my front door and the clearing revealed the sky as a teal-greeny-blue, right on the clock as the Solstice begun.

I came away from the park with these two lessons:

The importance of stillness.

There is always life, both in winter and the dark.

And as I was performing my personal ceremony, I was taken by Awen as I said out aloud and made the following observations :

In the dark, there is rest.

In the dark, there is the hidden.

In the dark, there is fear.

With fear, you can either run, do nothing, or take a stand.

Sometimes we must run, there is nothing wrong with a tactical retreat to fight another day. Sometimes we can do nothing but let the threat pass over. But there comes a time when we cannot run and we cannot do nothing and we must make a stand.

I said out aloud my fear and decided to take it on with the lesson I have gained from this year: Nothing is Accomplished Without Action. It was then the candle was lit.

Sure enough, the day after the Solstice was bright, the sky was clear and the sun shone with brilliance.

Merry Yuletide, one and all!

Chasing the Mabon

Big thanks to Teller who asked me ‘So, when are you putting up the blog?’ And a huge thanks to Cthulhudruid who managed to find my original post after it had been accidentally deleted!

Maponus image from Gettyimages

Ah, yes. Autumn! The season of falling leaves, bounties of fruit and vegetation, bird migration and garden spiders coming out to capture unsuspecting prey (shudder). This season also sees the Equinox as the dramatic increase of the dark overtakes the long summer nights. The balance is struck and the wheel turns once again….

Within the usual modern Pagan circles, the Autumnal Equinox has been given a name…. Mabon. Whom or what does this name come from? What the hell is a Mabon anyway?

The short story is that in the 1970’s Aiden Kelly, Wiccan High Priest, came up with the name for the simple fact that he didn’t like that the Autumnal Equinox celebrations didn’t have a grander name. In his own words, please read this.

The long story…..

Mabon is a now shadowy figure, one who once had a cult all of his own stretching from Wales to Lancashire, Northumberland, Cumbria and Scotland. Mabon means ‘Son’ in Welsh and the most familiar version of this is the character of Mabon ap Modron (Son of Mother), from the tale ‘How Culhwch Won Olwen‘.

In the story, the hero Culhwch falls in love with the beautiful Olwen. Which is great, because she loves him too and it turns out that marrying her will lift the curse that was put on him by his jealous step-mother. Problem solved. However, her Dad is Yspaddaden Bencawr, chief giant and realm owning badass. He is so against the idea of the marriage, he sets Culhwch 40 impossible tasks which must be completed. No victory from the young upstart, then no nuptials. Amongst these tasks was one where Culhwch must obtain the comb and shears from behind the ears of the dreaded supernatural boar, Twrch Trwryth. But this could not be done unless he somehow obtained the mardiest dog in the world, Drudwyn. And even then Drudwyn had to be controlled by Mabon ap Modron, a huntsman who must ride the steed Gwyn Dunmane…. and the snag was: “Mabon ap Modron who had been stolen from his home when he was three nights old, and his whereabouts not known…..

Luckily for Culhwch, his uncle Arthur (yes, THAT Arthur) had given him some of his knights as companions who helped accomplish most of the impossible tasks like some adrenaline charged-Redbull fuelled group from Dungeons & Dragons…. but they could not find Mabon ap Modron.

Anywhere.

Like, nowhere.

It was only after Arthur discovering hint about asking the Oldest Animals in the World the heroes stood a chance. So Culhwch’s band sought out the Blackbird of Cilgwri, the Stag of Rhendynfre, the Owl of Cam Cwlwyd, the Eagle of Gwernabwy and the Salmon of Llyn Lliw, to find Mabon’s location: the fortress of Caerloyw. Even then they have to break him out by force. Skipping to the end; Mabon and another hunter, some wild dude called Cynedyr Wyllt manage to corner Twrch Trwryth and grab the comb (Mabon) and shears (Cynedyr) before the Chief of Otherworldly Boars escapes and runs into the sea, prophesying he and Arthur shall fight at the end of the world…… well, a big rumble between them in the far future anyway.

In one version of the ‘Dream of Rhonabwy‘, Mabon is one of the advisors of Arthur, although this could be a confusion with another, Mabon ap Mellt (Son of Lightening) is described as a huntsman also….. This version hints at either this Mabon was as quick as lightening or was descended from some cthonic sky-god.

Interestingly, the character of Mabon was taken up by Roman occupiers in Britannia. Or perhaps, was taken up by Romanised Celts in the form of Maponus ‘Divine Youth’. Coins and inscriptions show Maponus with his dog (Drudwyn?). It appears that Maponus was equated with Apollo, the god of healing and poetry….. and linked with the bow and arrow, tools of the hunt?

What of Modron? Does the mother give any indication as to who Mabon is? She is of the ‘Washer at the ford’ variety of supernatural women, and is daughter to Afallach, one of the lords of Annwn (Welsh Otherworld), specifically, the ruler of Avalon. If true, then she was a magical being and therefore a woman of Sovereignty (The right to choose and the right to rule) and supposedly bore two sons to Urien Rheged, king of Rheged (supposedly a kingdom in Northern England and Southern Scotland). One of these sons, Owein, plays chess with Arthur in the ‘Dream of Rhonabwy‘…. see how these things always go in cycles?

Bizarrely enough, one of the stanzas of the Graves reads: “The grave in the upland of Nanllau; his story no one knows. Mabon the son of Modron the sincere.” So which is it? Is this the grave of Mabon who was in the quest for Olwen’s hand in marriage? Or was he always a mystery and none knew his details? If so, then why was he so popular? Could it be that Mabon ap Modron was in fact the figure of a mystery tradition? Like a Brythonic version Mythras?

The fact that there are remnants and inscriptions to Mabon/Maponus means there was some kind of reverence to him. What this originally was is sadly lost to time, but things have a very strange way of returning. In Modern Druidry, especially in OBOD, where the role of Mabon is given to the youngest member in the ceremony. When Aiden Kelly chose that name, did he do it because it fitted his aesthetic or was there a whisper from a long forgotten heroic huntsman? Also, how the hell did a babe taken away from his mother’s breast of only three nights old learn to become a hunter in the prison of a fort!? Perhaps….. and this is my interpretation…. perhaps Mabon in the story is meant as a metaphor for the adventurous spirit. He is the youthful part of us that dares to do the impossible once he has broken free of the dark prison of our minds. The Mabon hones it’s skills and when is broken free by bravery and need it can go forward and seize the fierce dog of anger to accomplish great things. For when the sun goes down at the Autumnal Equinox does the night get stronger. And as the nights draw in, it is the perfect time to develop our own skills and look inward until we need to release the adventurous spirit within.

Sources:

The Isles of the Many Gods, David Rankine & Sorita D’Este. Avalonia, London, 2007.

The Mabinogion, a new translation by Sioned Davies, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007.

The Keys to Avalon, the True Location of Arthur’s Kingdom Revealed, Steve Blake & Scott Lloyd, Element Books Limited, Dorset, 2000.

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.

Realignment

June.  That was the last month I wrote something in depth. I have managed to write something every month or so, albeit in the form of a poem, a saying, or even a prayer. 

Actually, I don’t feel the need to write anything in depth.  No examinations of what those legends may actually mean, no breaking down of Pagan concepts (Classical or Modern), no questioning of the values or ethics around us.  In fact there are so many people reeling from the political victory of Brexit and Donald Trump, there are plenty already questioning the world around them…. 

 Whereas my investigative flair has faded to nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Diddley-Squat.  

During August, I feared I might have severed the link between myself and my spirituality.  Since the end of June, I dedicated myself to learning my lines for a theatrical performance.  In August, I did the same with another, both of them are now finished and performed.  Having embraced my acting self as my Bardic self, I have sought to regain and discover new skills for being the actor I want to be.  As well as discovering the actor I am turning into.  

It would be wrong of me to say I ‘put my life on hold’ because of the two plays.  Sure, I became less socially active and my days off were dedicated to line learning as were my evenings after work and then there were rehearsals.  

Performance is a discipline. It is hours of line learning, practicing the mannerisms of another person, working with the energy levels of your colleagues so the show does not lag.  Remembering where to be in the right place at the right time, thinking within a split second of a replacement word if you end up forgetting the correct one and doing all of this with a huge adrenaline rush once you are doing it.  To do that and more requires focus and discipline in yourself. 

And so, I threw myself into this creative path.  To me, it feels so right to do so.  It has stoked my inner fires and is my main focus. Where I may not be performing my Bardic Rituals everyday (the last was before I moved house in June) I have come to understand this, at the moment, is not what I need in my life right now.  

I still light my candles to my deities, ancestors and the spirits around me.  I still honour the seasons that pass and celebrate them; I still give offerings and have even done a little research into Japanese Fox spirits.  I have discovered my spirituality is in who I am, not just what I do.  This has also allowed me to view my spirituality, my beliefs and my self objectively.  And in this I have learned much, including belief in myself. 

But for the time being, I will post when I can with what I can give.  

After all, if one’s spirituality is only defined by one’s work with ritual, then what is ritual if not a performance? 

Photo by Locksley2010

Accepting the Inner Flame.

image
Fire-pit at Thorsson's house 2015

I’m an impatient being.  Always have been and always will be.  I was even born a month premature, yet I survived, when time was that I wouldn’t have.

I have always been close to my emotions, especially the fire inside. 

That’s not to say I’m a violent or an angry person, I am the most laid back and chilled out guy you can ever hope to meet.  Unless you are technology, then the spark within becomes a full blown meltdown where my blood boils and I might as well grow claws and shred every piece of wiring and circuitry apart.  Many is the time I wanted to smash my mobile phone against the nearest wall and destroy this tool for not being quick enough, or autocorrecting the wrong words.  If I could just give in to my beast, it would be sooooooo easy.

Of course, the fault is actually mine.  Just because my aptitude for any device isn’t the sharpest, it isn’t the machine I’m angry with.  I’m projecting the anger with myself onto whatever I’m using when I should know better.  But when I press something and all I get is the Whirlygig of Doom, out comes my battle-cry: “Oh, Come ON!!!”

On those days where the computers at work, my mobile phone on the bus ride home and my home PC are being slow and I see more than my fair share of the Whirlygig of Doom all on the same day, I stop. Turn everything off and leave them well alone.

When I was younger, this anger was taken out with my fists hitting the kitchen sides or the nearest wall.

For a time, I doused the flames.  I simply walked through life, nothing much phased me and even those times of intense emotion were so…… Wet.  I look back at the very first blog I wrote and read it with disdain.  What a fucking pussy I was back then!  My inner fire, for several years was merely a glowing ember almost reduced to blackened ash.  Yet we must know the dark before we can know the light.  And when I wrote that first blog post, I was lost and confused.  And I got over it.  See? It was there! Right then.  I looked back at my past self and rebuked him, I can’t deny the person I was as that was a part of me.  And still is.  The past can show us who we don’t want to be.

Of all the things in the world to breathe air into that dying ember, it was Druidry that blew into that spark, only for it to catch on and to flare up,  and ignite once again.  Let me make it clear that I am in no way saying that Druidry “Saved me”.  When I began this blog back in 2012, I was already studying and learning Druidry.  I had hit a low point was all and it wasn’t until I was working with the element of fire things in motion began to change things.

  I began my Bardic course with having to use a candle instead of a “Piss poor fire”.  It was working with the element of fire in my Fire-Weaving ritual that gave me signs of dragons and unexpectedly changed something within me (that’s when the ember was blown on and then caught fire once more….), the end of my Bardic course saw me burn my thumb on a flame and as I sucked it, the metaphor of wisdom was not lost on me.  Reconnecting with my inner fire brought back my passion (acting) and returned my enthusiasm.  It is a fire with caution, as it also brought back my impatience and spiky nature.  This has cost me my resolve at work as I have damaged property more than once in the past few weeks! 
At my day job, Del-boy, the Asst. Manager has warned me I need to calm down and not get so wound up.  And he’s right, I’m better than this.

Used correctly, I can create new material under pressure, make decisions to ‘get it done’ or even clean shit up.  That’s the thing with anger, for the most part, in our society it is destructive.  But it can keep you going.

The inner fire isn’t always a bad thing, it’s what keeps me creative, whether with my acting or playing with character nuances during line-learning, devising a talk (or an all-consuming blog post I just have to share with the world) or even plotting the next chapter to inflict upon my players in my Vampire: The Masquerade RPG Chronicle.  Once inspired by something, the spark of Awen will catch my flame and then I have to act on it, be it research of a deity or an old story or look into the facts of something people take for granted as true just because we thought it was (The Oak King, Holly King model was made up by Robert Graves, but people take it as gospel- Discuss). It also gives me that urge to question everything.

When there’s passion, energy and conviction, the flames are burning brightly indeed.

Romantically speaking, I can be warm, comforting and entirely devoted.  Presently, my fires of the heart are whimsical.  I seem to develop crushes on women, but then these flames of fancy fade out.  I may love my friends, but I am not in love with anyone. For now, in my life, that’s ok. 

Once upon a time, I called myself the ‘Impulsive Flame’ I am not being egotistical when I say I radiate a warmness, because I do.  And people are attracted to the light and warmth, but getting too close can result in burning.  I can be prickly with even those I allow to come close,   I endeavour to control my fire, but like the actual alchemical element itelf, sometimes it simply ignites.  And fire can also be cleansing, sometimes you just need to let things out, I just don’t ever want to take it out on anyone.

Its not that I don’t need to learn to control it, I already know how.  I just need to master when to reign the flames in and know when to let them flare up. But I can never quench them again, to do so is to deny myself when fire is a great teacher in responsibility and will.