Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Light on the Horizon When All Seems Dark

CANDLEMAS NEW MOON BRINGS LIGHT INTO DARK CORNERS
Monthly Insecure Writers’ Corner in the Year of the Rooster

Pre-Celtic Candlemas, a cross-quarter day, celebrated return of sunlight to N. hemisphere

Pre-Celtic Candlemas—cross-quarter day—celebrated return of sunlight to N. hemisphere

Green Comet 45P rounds the Sun and is heading our way

Green Comet 45P rounds the Sun and is heading our way

‘When beggars die, there are no comets seen
The Heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes’
Calpurnia to Julius Caesar on eve of Ides of March

If we were all visionaries, we might prophesy from our current corner of the world all manner of wild suggestions on what will happen in the corridors of power in the coming months.


Condor Babies Migrate to Ancestral Redwood Forest

Amid a tumult of projects ‘supporting’ Americana, one might lose sight—in this New Year of the Cockerel [Chinese Rooster/ancestral Eagle]—of a happy ending to the return of the condor to the wild.

More than one hundred years after they became extinct in the region, the native American eagle/buzzard Condor will soar again over its ancestral Redwood forest in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

The condor plays a major part in Yurok ceremonies and culture since time immemorial, according to chairman of the Yurok Tribe, Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. “It is through collaborative projects like this that we will bring balance back to our natural world.”

He speaks of a plan devised alongside local agencies and the National Park Foundation, to reintroduce fledgling birds in the fall of this year into Redwood National Park at Bald Springs, Orick, CA. Pacific Gas & Electric [PG&E], will provide funding and support for this project. More importantly, the energy company will ensure that condor flight paths will not be obstructed by power lines, allowing the birds to prosper in their natural habitat.

Condors in Orick—a dream come true for Tribal chiefs and conservationists alike

Condors in Orick—a dream come true for Tribal chiefs and conservationists alike

The Yurok—largest of the California native American tribes— have been leading an effort to bring back the endangered birds, which lived alongside them for centuries in redwood forest lining the Klamath River.

“When the Condor of the South flies together with the Eagle of the North, the spirit of Mother Earth—Pacha Mama—will awaken.
Then She will wake millions of her children.
This will be the Resurrection of the Dead.”
Quechua Inca Prophecy

Condor Feather Regalia Returns Home
White deerskins, condor feathers and headdresses made of bright red woodpecker scalps were among more than 200 sacred ‘living’ artifacts returned to the Klamath tribe of the North Coast two years ago.

Since their sacred dance regalia returned home, after a century on museum shelves in Maryland, the tribe’s 5,500-strong membership are exultant that their homeland—55,000 acres along the Klamath River—can now celebrate the return of its most sacred bird.

Tribal leaders affirm the sacred feathers and headdresses date back hundreds—possibly thousands—of years. They will continue to be used in ceremonies intended to heal the world.

Sacred regalia of Condor feathers, decorated woodpecker skulls used in Yurok tribal Dance of Gratitude

Sacred regalia of Condor feathers, decorated woodpecker skulls used in Yurok tribal Dance of Gratitude

Yurok Tribespeople celebrated their return in 2014—among the largest restoration of American Indian sacred objects ever—from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, MD. The sacred objects, purchased by the Smithsonian from a collector in the 1920s, were given a welcome home after nearly a century, like ‘prisoners of war’, according to Tribal Chief O’Rourke.

This week fifteen organizations have agreed to cooperate on a reintroduction project in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Meeting in Eureka, they included National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Yurok.

This autumn, after an ‘adjustment period’ with human condor-glove-Mama, above, the captive bred babies will be released into Redwood National Park at Orick, CA—neighborhood forest to the Yurok—and in a State Park in Del Norte county.

The Humboldt forest location is one of few remaining untouched old growth Redwood—sequoia sempervirens—oases in Northern California.

Even if bird fancying is not your thing, IWSGers can, I am sure, find solace in this Year of the Rooster that we can achieve what was once thought impossible. We can do magic. We can bring back from the Dead.

But, we Insecure Writers knew that all along, didn’t we Alex?
It’s why we continue to write.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

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February 1, 2017 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, energy, environment, history, nature, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A NewYear [2015] Epiphany of Mind

INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP—IWSG January—Catchup Corner

Our star at perihelion, opposite full Cancer Moon

Our star at perihelion, opposite full Cancer Moon

IWSG FLYING the FLAG in 2015
January can often tax the kindest of our good intentions. Plus—forgive me for mentioning—an almost-75% landmass of the Northern hemisphere—E.United States hardest hit—is suffering blizzard conditions; a so-called mini-Ice Age.

NAKED IN SPACE—Comet Lovejoy in our Skies
Any emotional burdens which add to our New Year resolutions tend to throw our resolve out the window. But in the first week of the new year we are regaled by a delightful naked-eye object, to give our spirits a lift. Comet Lovejoy demands attention this week, drawing our sight heavenward. This is never a bad thing. By lifting our eyes from the computer, balance sheet, diaper drier, our thoughts get a chance to lie still for a moment. Instead, we can direct our attention to other—more dreaming musings—future successes—family changes—fame—whatever floats our boat. Our inner secrets revealed.

With our (astroLOGICAL) lives held in a 30-year Saturnine cycle, it’s nice to have a few little trifles to cheer us up when we get low: on motivation, NewYear rez—y’know—THAT time.

The Way Forward

But, thanks, as ever, to our fearless leader, Alex, who encourages us all by his supreme example: that abundance doesn’t need to mean hard slog!

Living in Present/Presence
Forget Auld Lang Syne: it’s all according to how we/you live now.

To plan y/our way forward, in life and in our day-to-day rhythm, we need to get comfortable first.

Any dream is gud! —more fabulous the better tku Aesop & all who Rock

Any dream is gud!
—more fabulous the better tku Aesop & all who Rock

Or, as the youth of 2015 constantly remind us:
NOW is where it’s at.

Within our little writerly IWSG community, fostered so well by our Ninja Cap’n Alex, I believe we writers have surfaced enough times here as a group, to understand our ‘other’ writerly silences. It goes with the territory.

I also believe, as fearless Alex constantly (gently) encourages us, that we are being asked—not just as a comfort-zone monthly moan-sharing group of Dreamweavers to open our own minds to what we can do. But to open our hearts as well.

Because soul-to-soul, we help each other connect to what really motivates us, just by holding each others’ hands through yet another (30-year wake-up call) Saturn Return.

’Nuff said.

Don’t do what I say. Do what Alex does!
Happy Epiphany & many 2015 Revelations.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

January 8, 2015 Posted by | Ascension, astrology, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fiction, Muse, New Age, novel, publishing, seasonal, sun, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

September Blues? Consider Poor Mother Earth

INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER


Thanks to our (non-mutant) Ninja Capn. Alex, I make a seasonal appearance as last rays of summer flash, to say hi to my fellow IWSGers, but also to share the pathos of impending equinoctial changes: seasonal, earth-related, celestial and beyond—

Ancient Lughnasadh Festival of Light
I try to celebrate the end of summer, lasting—as all Druid-lore-lovers know—from mid-July to September equinox, plumbing sacred depths of fire festival season centered on:
Lammas Day, August 1st, the Glorious Twelfth.*

Mud-slides: par for course @T-in-the-Park

Mud-slides: par for course @T-in-the-Park

It spans the crazies of [Brit. advertising-cum-financial industry] ‘Silly Season’, culminating at September’s doorway in a frenzy of global music festivals: epitomized by (Brit) Leeds-Reading Extravaganza and (beer-fueled) T-in-the-Park. And BURNING MAN in the Nevada Desert.

Yet I feel pathos and sadness engulfing a season’s end, a dying earth. Our Mother Earth, especially, has suffered much this year.

Burning Man festival of light, Nevada desert

Burning Man festival of light, Nevada desert

*I am not sentimental about the killing of grouse; I never liked the practice, however fashionable and smoothly operated it’s supposed to be. I shall not change my view; but my attitude to what goes on in the ‘Old Country‘, now that I’m an ex-pat, has softened.

I know this doesn’t sound remotely like a writing moan—as our monthly corner is supposed to be—but there is a connection:

Harvest—Dying—Resurrection—Metamorphosis
Ancient Lammas, Lughnasadh primal fire festival of the god Lugh, [‘Light’] is known across the indigenous cultural spectrum as First Harvest, Harvest Home, a time to STOP, give thanks and celebrate with offerings—bread from our table. Rejoicing in Mother Earth’s bounty, we share and celebrate her fruitfulness with good food and friends. Traditionally, harvest tables were decked with red, gold, orange, yellow, bronze, citrine, gray, and green: colors now associated with wild dress-couture-masquerade extravaganzas—particularly in U.S.

Corn dollies have been replaced by macho/Ninja? [!!] sickles, scythes, iMax giant scimitars, over fresh veggies & fruits, bread, and sun-wheels. But drumbeat rhythm focuses joy, seeps between the volcanic cracks into the Earth, honoring her cross-cultural daughters of Lugh: Freya, Demeter, Ceres, Pandora et al.—goddesses of fruitfulness,carers of the Earth thru her seasons. In this sense she (Earth Mother) and Hathor are one and the same: primeval Eve, Brittonic Bride, Norse Auohumla, great cow-giant goddess, and ancestor of the Norse gods. She is also Gaia, Sumerian Antu: who became Ishtar, goddess of love and procreation.

Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2014-style

Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2014-style

Summerend, in all cultures—ancient Lammas, now-generation Virtual.world and future Turtle Island—with deference to our Sci-Fi Cap’n’s focus—is always a good time for a celebration.

Now is time to enjoy drinking, eating fresh food, indulging our hedonist within— dancing, expressing joy, getting back to our roots—being oneself.

For a light-deprived northerner, I am grateful for long days of warmth, time in the garden, maybe occasionally, I think about writing…lol. But I digress.

The Caravanserai Headed East
In current Western culture, Burning Man takes precedence. Trailers are rented at great expense, shared rides go East thru the Nevada desert, to pitch camp in an awesome congregation of festival-goers—almost medieval in ethos—with singing, dancing, beating and celebrating the earth, the sun, and being alive— through music, masque, dance and new connections, made over five days.

Leeds-Reading morphs to 4-day festival, à la Burning Man

Leeds-Reading morphs to 4-day festival, à la Burning Man

Glastonbury’s Symposium begins the season mid-June, followed by July drinking madness: Scotland’s T-in the Park, above, originating in 1997 in Strathclyde Country Park, where triple stages were annually bogged down in mud.

Black Rock, NV, 2014 artwork DC

Black Rock, NV, 2014 artwork DC

2014’s TITP was last epic concert to be held on Kinross’s disused Balado field:a medically-better location, where WWII runways provided metaphorical undercarriage for nine multiple stages over three-day weekend.

But, because Forties Field oil pipeline runs under the tarmac, Scots (financial and) Government agencies started yelling ‘health&safety’, so 2014 was its swan song. T-in-the-Park 2015 will migrate to the former boarding school of Strathallan, twenty miles West in Perthshire.

Sunday morning at the ephemeral Cathedral, Black Rock Nevada-ending 2014 Burning Man

Sunday morning at the ephemeral Cathedral, Black Rock Nevada-ending 2014 Burning Man

There follows the majestic three-day wonder of Reading-Leeds Music Festival, at the height of Lammas: August 21-24, 2014.

Leeds-Reading DeafHavana & Bill Bailey

Leeds-Reading DeafHavana & Bill Bailey

It would seem the Brits are following the U.S. lead in widening the window of music sent heavenward in sheer joy of numbers.

Americans wowed by Nevada desert’s five-day Burning Man festival have yet to experience the booze-quotient of a Brit music venue: comparisons of liters/pints of beer drunk at Glastonbury vs. Leeds/Reading shock American/Canadian drinkers who, by law, have to put tankard to lip behind closed doors. Ah, the contrast.

As Britain closes for the summer, the American continent opens. Festivals ripple like musical arpeggios across barren, dry (over-watered) southern states, Austin, Dallas, Nashville. As the earth gets hotter—most of continental U.S. is in grill-bbq grip of unrelenting heat, forest fires, drought.

Here is not the place to bring up city water demands from rural salmon spawning hinterland—Eel, Van Duzen, Klamath, Trinity and Navarro— but we all know Earth is shrieking for us to slow down, take a look at what we are doing to our Pale Blue Dot, called home, and stop.

One could liken it to an Apocalypse scenario. But our Ninja Cap’n knowzzzz all about that.

Thank you Alex, always for providing a corner for a moan, a shared frisson and love for Sci-Fi, and a window on tomorrow’s world—and for letting me in under the wire—late. 🙂
©2014Marian Youngblood

September 3, 2014 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, belief, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, culture, festivals | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hathor Blessing: Crop Circle finale & farewell

Salutation to Hathor, goddess of love, music and beauty and Lady of the Stars, whose ritual Menat necklace represents the Souls of the blessed ones

Last week on Friday the thirteenth what may be seen as the swan song of the 2010 Crop Circle season appeared: an Egyptian-style ritual collar with trailing neckgear shining from a Wiltshire field of golden corn. It is the height of the harvest, days before they start wholesale cutting of wheat and barley in the western countryside.

The formation’s simple lines and clear message to crop circle followers may be overlooked among a plethora of dimensional designs which have dominated the 2010 crop circle season.

Linking its unadorned but glorious glittering shape to a Menat necklace — the symbol of primeval mother goddess Hathor in both the Old and New Kingdoms of ancient Egypt — is not difficult. A ritual curving jewelled shoal of splendour, its form is emblazoned in our collective memory, even as a northern species, derived from classical and prehistoric civilization of Europe and the Mideast.

She is the world’s most ancient goddess, embodiment of the planet Earth herself. It is she who cradles the sun each night as he sinks in the west.

Even the current fashion in heavy female neckware harks back to that classical curve: row upon row of minute turquoise beadwork and beauty created to invoke delight in a child, desire and pleasure in a model on the catwalk.

In present-day Wiltshire, we may not admit to being familiar with Egyptian hieroglyphics, hieratic script or deathmasks and tomb-paintings of the earliest dynasties (Great Pyramid of Khufu, 2589 – 2566 BC). But we have dormant memory banks, our bodies contain suppressed genetic code which probably remembers such a time, can ‘feel’ the weight of such a beautiful collar round our necks, desire the touch of such a ritual necklace.

It belonged to the Earth’s primeval goddess, Hathor: bringer of love, abundance, joy, fertility and regeneration.

As a swan song for the Wiltshire crop circle season of 2010, it seems a fitting statement to place at the height of English summer, when crops of wheat, barley, maize and even oats glorify in eight-hour days of beating sunrays pounding health and vitality into their stems and cells, literally seconds on the cosmic clock before the combine harvesters slice through life, growth and celestial graffiti.

Judging by a pronounced extra-terrestrial bent to this season‘s creations — despite a fairly good supporting cast of ‘plankers’ (man-made designs) — and with Science now firmly convinced of genuine CC enhancement in grain nutrient value and crop size by ET’s ‘light treatment’, I fervently hope someone is buying up Wiltshire wheat to bake into ‘DNA-enhanced’ bread, or wonder-pasta for our general wellbeing!

While there have been many man-made attempts this summer to emulate the light-bent nodes of superluminary crop circles, the Beckhampton message from the goddess appears to be genuine.

But, back to symbolism. Why Hathor? Why choose to imprint English fields — and thereby all of croppiedom — with a blessing from an ancient goddess who ruled heaven and earth before most of the western world could write?

Hathor, Earth-Mother Cow-Goddess bestowed bounty

Some time in Egypt’s pre-dynastic past the Goddess Hathor came into being, considered a major force in the creation of the world. Hathor was worshipped for over 3,000 years. Alternate forms of her name are Hwt-Hrw, Het-Hor, Het-Hert, Athor or Athyr.

Hathor, frequently seen as Egyptian Cow Goddess whose horns ‘held the Sun’, is probably Earth’s most ancient female deity. She encompassed so many different qualities and roles that it’s near impossible to list them all. She has been known as Sky Goddess, Sun Goddess, Moon Goddess and Goddess of the West. She was known as goddess of Moisture, and of Fertility, Agriculture and Motherhood; Goddess of the Underworld, Mistress of the Necropolis and, in her role as Protectress of the City of the Dead at Thebes, she became Goddess of the Dead.

Amenhotep III's ritual Menat necklace of bronze, faience, stone, glass and turquoise was gifted by goddess Hathor to pharaoh to engender his rebirth; courtesy Metropolitan Museum of New York

She was worshipped as Goddess of Love, Ecstasy and Beauty, and enriched the lives of her followers as Goddess of Music, Dance, Drinking and Joy. She was patroness of Women and Marriage and Protectress of Pregnancy. Hathor ultimately became special guardian spirit for all women and all female animals, and had such titles as ‘Lady of the Turquoise’ and ‘Lady of the Sycamore.’

The Menat Necklace was a ritual object first seen adorning the neck of the goddess and later used in ritual ceremonies to Hathor. The bejeweled necklace had many strands which ended in a counterpiece that, when originally worn as a collar, would hang down the back of the neck. In later use it had a ceremonial purpose and was wafted and waved as an amulet over the devoted to convey a blessing from the Goddess. The Menat symbolized fertility, and some sources see its offering a mystical union between the Goddess and her followers.

Are we earthlings now ‘followers’ of the wise goddess? Do we rate a heavenly blessing from the most high?

All summer long we’ve been expecting a message from God. Finally, as the year turns to autumn, we get a blessing from Goddess.

Much like the goddess Ishtar, Hathor’s attributes were a complex combination of the sacred feminine, death and the afterlife. It was she who bore bodies of the dead to the Underworld, she who actually took ownership of them. In this role Hathor became Queen of the Underworld.

Sun blessing embedded in a Wiltshire crop circle: Hathor regalia ends the 2010 season

In her association with Sun God Ra, Hathor was granted the title ‘Golden One’, while also sharing the name, ‘Eye of Ra’ with goddesses Sekhmet and Bast. Hathor was Protectress of Horus, the falcon god, and called a wide variety of names in that role. Some attributes appear conflicting and confusing and, as Mother Goddess, Hathor was often confused with both Isis and Nut. What confuses even more is the fact that she subsequently ‘became’ Isis who, in a later period, absorbed and acquired many of the aspects previously attributed to Hathor.

When she governed in her principal place of worship at Dendera, Hathor’s role as Goddess of Fertility, Women and Childbirth was venerated specifically. Her temple there was filled with incense, intoxication and pleasure. At her other temple in Thebes, however, Hathor changed into her robes as Goddess of the Dead, known as ‘Lady of the West.’ In Thebes she cradled in her arms the sun god Ra, as he descended below the horizon in the west.

Goddess Hathor wearing the Menat, holding her sacred Sistrum (rattle)

Hathor has represented the erotic in femininity and procreation, and was frequently identified with Greek goddess Aphrodite, Roman Venus. In her role as Goddess of Fertility, Hathor represented Nature’s creativity, and as Goddess of Moisture, she was associated with the annual inundation of the river Nile. In this aspect, Hathor was linked to dog-shaped constellation Sothis (Sirius, ‘dog-star’) which, at its heliacal rising on the eastern horizon — immediately before the Sun — announced yearly flooding of the Nile in July.

Eventually, in a later period, when Hathor’s role began to change, Isis/Osiris (Serapis) cults gained popularity in Egypt and then spread through the Roman empire and Greece. Because of her fertile and life-bringing nature, Hathor was considered capable of reviving the dead; she welcomed them to the Underworld, dispensed water to them from the branches of a sycamore tree, and offered them food. In various New Kingdom tombs at Thebes Hathor is depicted embracing the dead.

In pre-dynastic times, and certainly in the early dynasties, Hathor is seen as the cow-consort of the Bull of Amenti, the original deity of the Necropolis. As queen or ‘Lady of the West’, her mortuary title as Protectress of the Necropolis valley on the west bank of the Nile, in her role as protector she not only oversaw where the sun (Ra) went down, but this choice location for later kingdoms’ burial tombs.

Amazingly Hathor, one of the world’s greatest goddesses, was worshipped for a longer period than Christianity or Islam have reigned. Hathor’s religion of joy and celebration dominated for over 3,000 years. It continued strong throughout Egypt, and through both Greek and Roman empires, where it spread and became assimilated.

Her cult was in its heyday when the first great pyramids were built and used as sacred pharaonic tombs, and lasted until pyramids were no longer used for that purpose, by which time royal patrons continued under her protection on the west bank of the Nile in the great Necropolis Valley of the Kings.

She is the equivalent in Nordic, Celtic and Anglian territories of the Old Goddess of the pagans. She perpetuated in popular speech, in rituals of hearth and earth, in festival custom with its cargo of symbol and myth. She was seen as the source of life, power and wisdom. People prayed to her for wellbeing, abundance, protection, and healing. They invoked her during birth, and the dead returned to her and moved in her retinue.

They say that the Old Goddess, Crone who rode the winds, caused rain and snow and hail on earth, and that she revealed omens of weather and death and other momentous things to come.

In this sense she and Hathor are one and the same: primeval Eve, Brittonic Bride, Norse Auohumla, the great cow-giant goddess, true ancestor of the Norse gods. She is also Gaia, Sumerian Antu (who later ‘became’ Ishtar, goddess of love and procreation).

Apex of inspirational 'Hathor crop circle' at Northdowns, Beckhampton, Wiltshire, photo courtesy Bert Janssen

It is significant, too, that the ‘Hathor crop circle’ at Beckhampton appeared on a Friday the 13th.

The superstition held today of Friday the 13th being unlucky may stem from the betrayal of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13th 1307 (Old calendar) when their monastic military order in France was arrested en masse by King Philip. The Spanish, however, hold Tuesday as their unlucky day; so the suggestion is a tentative one. Perhaps ET used the date merely to get our attention. It’s a familiar technique he’s employed over the years to combine crop images and Calendar.

An alternate explanation occurs: in later European tradition Friday was observed as ‘holy day of the goddess’, beginning with its eve on Thursday night. In that sense she is Norse goddess Freyja. The dark of the year was sacred to Old Goddess. On winter solstice nights, she was said to fly over the land with her spirit hosts. Tradition added that shamanic witches rode in her wake on the great pagan festivals, along with the ancestral dead.

Reverting to the Hathor connection, one ancient tale is retold of a group of goddesses, bearing cow horns and playing tambourines who went by the name the Seven Hathors. These Hathors were able to foretell a child’s destiny; similar in many ways to the weaving of the Tapestry of Life by the Fates, the Norns or the Disir. The Hathors were more than clairvoyants who could see into the future. They were questioners of the soul as it made its way to the Land of the West. In addition to knowing a child’s destiny, the Seven Hathors could foretell the exact hour of his death.

Egyptian mythology held that a person’s destiny was decided by the hour of his death and therefore his fortune, or lack of it, stayed with him throughout his life. The Hathors were known to have extreme powers, and were able to replace a prince, born with a bad fortune, with a child born with a good one. In this way they had the ability to protect both the Dynasty and the nation. The Seven Hathors are presently receiving some attention through the works of musician and psychic channeler, Tom Kenyon. When Hathor’s ‘old’ attributes became overshadowed by those of Isis and new kingdom beliefs, the Hathors were sent into the sky. There they have become identified with the Pleiades.

In more northern latitudes, reverence was paid for centuries to the Old Goddess in planting and harvesting, baking, spinning and weaving. The fateful Spinner was worshipped as Holle or Perchta by the Germans, as Mari by the Basques, and as Laima by Lithuanians and Latvians. She appears as Befana in northern Italy and as a myriad faery goddesses in France, Spain, and Celtic countries (Brittonic Bride). In Serbia she is Srecha; in Russia Mokosh, Kostroma or the apocryphal Saint Paraska.

Corn dollies embody ancient goddess Mother Earth

The Old Goddess was commonly pictured as a crone or aged woman, and origins of her veneration are lost in the mists of time. While goddesses of ancient ethnic cultures have unique qualities, they share traits, a deep international genetic root. Old Goddess is like the weathered Earth, ancestor of all, a tangible presence in forests, grottos and fountains. In her infinite guises she manifests countless forms: as females of various ages, she shapeshifts to tree, serpent, frog, bird, deer, mare and other creatures. Surviving the European Reformation, she remained beloved by the common people.

When farmers, and those who worked the land, were less dependent on technology to produce our food, Mother Earth and nature played a much more important role in the annual cycle of life. In particular, the harvest of cereal crops was a major event in the calendar.

We are now three weeks into ancient Lammas, the traditional harvest season.

In pre-industrial times a summertime ‘Lord of the Harvest’ would be given the responsibility of planning the harvest and marshalling the workforce, and when harvest was finally done they would celebrate with a ‘Harvest Home’ feast.

Corn Dolly made from the last (Clyack) cut sheaf, held sacred through winter, a blessing of Earth's bounty

The first and last sheaves of corn to be cut had major significance. Grain from the first sheaf (the ‘Maiden’) was made into a sacred loaf of bread while the last sheaf – the Clyack – was reserved for transformation into a corn dolly: symbolic of Mother Earth and the Spirit of the Corn.

Straw from this last sheaf was woven or plaited into the complex shapes of corn dollies, as cornucopiae, horns of plenty, horse shoes, knots, fans and lanterns. Ultimately, shape depended on local tradition, but in every case a symbolic ‘dolly’ graced the top table at the end-of-harvest feast and was then carefully guarded over the winter months. When spring crops were sown, the dolly re-emerged to be carried round the fields to pray that Nature and corn goddess delivered up another good crop.

In Wiltshire they’ve already started the harvest. Even in my native Aberdeenshire winter barley is going under the combine. Three weeks into Lammas (which pivots round August 1st), harvest is in full swing.

Our consciousness these days has become less aware of such natural cycles of food-cultivating-and-cutting; we are lulled into ignorance of the provenance of our daily bread. Perhaps it is this lulling that the crop circle presence wants to jerk us out of: to rekindle in us an appreciation — even reverence — for Earth’s bounty and her unconditional gifts of life and nourishment. More significant may be the appearance of a ritual symbol in the crop to help us understand our civilization’s most ancient ancestral traditions which show respect for (Earth’s) sacred creator gods.

Hathor was probably civilization’s earliest goddess. Her blessing showered on us now from above, five thousand years after the zenith of her devoted following, emblazoned in golden grain for our delectation and visual appreciation (aerial photographs superbly provided by Frank Laumen and Bert Janssen, thank you guys); it sparks our earliest memories of civilization. Are we being given a futuristic jab in the arm, to trigger our DNA? or to learn to appreciate more fully what our ancestors understood?

Our senses are being stroked, honed, we are receiving her gifts again. Not only was she goddess of birth and death, she was goddess of REBIRTH.

It’s just possible she has returned in essence now to show us that — at the end of the 2010 season of remarkable cosmic signs — our species is poised on the brink of rebirth: that we humankind are jointly headed for regeneration.

Dare we hope? As we come together as a race, as we feel joy in our rebirth, may we also see a faint promise of Hathor’s greatest gift? Immortality?

August 16, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, belief, calendar customs, consciousness, crop circles, festivals, New Age, ritual, sun | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nirvana & Light withdrawal: chop wood and carry water

Sunset time in Lerwick is 3p.m.

Two days to go until the sun stands still for 24 hours! That’s how it looks in the northern hemisphere, in places like Lerwick in the Shetlands; Trondheim in Norway, Reykyavik in Iceland and Juneau, Alaska. Then as if on cue or by some cosmic wind-up mechanism, the solar orb starts rolliing again, adding another four minutes of light to each day once more. It allows us hibernators to come out of our winter caves and surface to the sun. If, like me, you live anywhere above Scotland’s ‘Central Belt’, I can assure you the return of the light is such a welcome curve.

There used to be legal ‘lighting-up times’ in Britain: this wasn’t a comical reminder to smoke a cigar or kindle the wood burning stove; it was a law that drivers should switch on headlights 30 minutes after sunset and off 30 minutes before dawn. These laws no longer exist. Legally drivers must simply switch lights on in vehicles whenever visibility is reduced.

snow in time for solstice

i rather miss the old ‘lighting-up times’. It was a way of keeping us in alignment with the hours of the day, with sun times: it helped us tune into the ‘real world’; you know that one out there that’s chucking down snow at us right now and freezing the pipes and causing animals in fields to die if they don’t have shelter; not really that a motorist these days has much time for such banalities. If you are driving in Sheffield or Sacramento, night time looks the same as day because all the lights are on anyway.

Just in case no one believes me, here are some sunrise and sunset times for Britain at the moment: if you live in Bournemouth, or the Isles of Scilly, the sun goes down at 4pm: you are blessed to be able to have a whole hour more light than someone living for example on Unst, the most northerly of the British Isles. Sunset there is 3pm. You get it at the other end of the day, too. You have the blessing of daylight as you drive to work in, say, Dover because the sun comes up at 8am. Pity the ferryboat captain in Wick harbor who doesn’t see the sunrise until 10 minutes to 9am and has to have his lights switched on again at 3pm for sunset.

Sunset at Wick happens at three o'clock

I started writing this at sunset: on the Moray Firth that’s 3:14pm and the day has ended. Night time activities begin. Living in the country, if you haven’t got all your animals inside, fed and watered, you’re going to have to do it in the dark. This was a way of life for thousands, perhaps millions, in days of yore, but few give it a thought these days. I won’t see sunlight again for another seventeen and one-half hours. That’s a remarkable amount of night time, if you really think about it.

There are compensations. Aurora Borealis, for one. Displays at these latitudes can last for hours. And, of course at the height of summer this far north, there is the most awesome array of light showered from above in a day which lasts equally as long as this winter night. Seventeen hours of light in summer; seventeen hours of dark in winter. No wonder they say the Norwegians, Icelandic poets and Scots bards have a poignancy in their work like no other, except perhaps the Russians.

Aurora can last for hours

Nevertheless, because of the snowstorm, this writer is focused more at the moment on keeping body and soul together and that means the old Nirvana adage: ‘before and after achieving Nirvana, chop wood and carry water’.

And while that is a really poor excuse for an introduction to another poem about trees, wood, and burning logs; it’s all I’ve got right now. Days are short; birds and animals bring other demands. Night is a hard taskmistress.

I gave the wonderful wood-burning rhyme in a previous blog ‘for a Queen to warm her slippers by’. This one has slightly different meter, but it includes a more diverse array of woods.

I am particularly fond of the admonition toward the end. The writer (our perennial friend Anon) is quite clearly a supporter of the ancient Caledonian Pine, Pinus sylvestris now in short supply, although being gradually re-introduced and replanted privately.

For a country (Caledonia) which the Romans described as ‘thriving in Pine’, because the origial Caledonian Pine Forest stretched from coast to coast, we have been remarkably careless with this beautiful native tree.

Robert I Bruce, of course, was the main culprit: he burned his way from Kelso to the Comyn stronghold of the Earl of Buchan near Fraserburgh in 1308. This ‘herschip’ or harrying of Buchan was a treatment from which the country never recovered.

It is encouraging to note that the charity Trees for Life is replanting this and other native trees in considerable numbers in a northerly enclave of the original Caledonian Forest.

That little divertissement was a mere sidestep for tree-lovers. For wood-burners, here is the rhyme by our friend Anonymous.

Enjoy.

Logs to Burn

Logs to burn, logs to burn
Logs to save the coal a turn;

Here’s a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodman’s cries
Never heed his usual tale
That he’s splendid logs for sale

Scots pine, the 'Scotch log' of the rhyme

But read these lines and really learn
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pinewoods smell
But the sparks will fly.
Beech logs for Christmas time
Yew logs heat well
‘Scotch’ logs it is a crime
For anyone to sell.

Ash worth their weight in gold

Birch logs will burn too fast
Chestnut scarce at all.
Hawthorn logs are good to last
If cut in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax
You should burn them green.
Elm logs like smouldering flax
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom.
But ash logs all smooth and grey
Burn them green or old
Because of all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in gold. Anonymous

December 19, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, consciousness, culture, environment, nature, popular, seasonal, sun, trees, weather, winter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solstice: It’s About Light

Aurora borealis or Northern Lights

As December moves towards the shortest day, we all panic a little. It’s not the present-wrapping still to do, the festive mince pies to bake, the cards to write: though those and other events on the to-do list seem endless and we’ll never get it done.

We will. That’s the point: we’ll get there.

But there is something else. Somewhere deep in the collective unconscious (thank you Carl Jung) there is an unfounded fear that when the shortest day arrives, the sun will not only stand still but may never rise again. That may sound crazy to someone who doesn’t look up at the sky much; who sees ‘light’ as something akin to the strange offerings on Photobucket under that search item: a neon tube.

But there are others among us, myself included, who look to the skies in these fast diminishing days and wonder if the light will return. I miss it so. In the so-called temperate zone, we lose the light at a rate of roughly four minutes per day until December 21st, when the sun ‘appears’ to stand still. And then it turns round and light increases at the same rate until equinox. I blogged last week about how the light-deprived Scots celebrate solstice in Burghead at the latitude of Alaska. No Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for them

The Norwegians, too, know all about that latitude: over half their huge country lies north of the 57º parallel. In Murmansk, on the White Sea, they keep the street lights on from October until April. They’re not just street lights either, they are specially formulated UV, designed to trigger serotonin in the SAD population and offer some hope to a city starved of sun for five months of the year.

Yes, serotonin is the hormone secreted by the human brain in the process of joy. It’s what we as a species need to keep going. Joy and light. And at this season when all the shops are declaring it is time to be ‘merry’, joy may be hard to find, unless we consciously engender it.

So it may be relevant to fostering a little joy that I give you a small ditty which appeared in today’s Daily Mail and one which the people of Norway are still pondering over.

I won’t add the comments from the unbelievers (failed Russian spacecraft, holographic searchlight); the positive view is that it is – in the middle of Arctic winter – a light in the sky. Not exactly aurora borealis, but something electromagnetic and atmospherically-unusual. A spiral of light in the sky. There’s hope.

Light over Tromsö, Norway

Aurora, now. That’s another delight we may witness at our latitude if we’re lucky, at this dark time of year. It might even be seen as a magical mechanism devised by solar wind and earth’s magnetosphere to whisper awe into our unresponsive consciousness.

But to stand on a hill on a starlit night, hot water bottle wrapped round kidney region, three scarves and wool hat in place, furry boots and six layers of woolly jumpers over frail human body, and watch as the firmament wheels for an hour in cathedrals of light, is something not to be missed.

For that I will go through another dark winter in this wild northern latitude.

On January 12 last year the population of Siguida, Latvia experienced the light equivalent of an ice storm: over the city’s streets hovered a cloud of light which then descended into pillars. Scientists attributed the columns of light which hung suspended in air for more than five minutes to frozen crystals of water or minute particles of ice. But to a child it must have looked like a winter fairy’s magic wand had waved.

Ice pillars of light over Latvia last January

There will always be the view of the jaded reporter, the overworked NASA scientist, the prosaic explanation of a failed Russian nuclear test to write off phenomena like these.

I fancy the childlike fairytale explanation myself.

In the dark days of what amounts to a period of hibernation for humankind in the northern hemisphere, isn’t it wonderful to know that the Cosmos is still bringing us its own version of Son et Lumière? Those unexplained shimmering beams of light bent by electromagnetic forces relatively few of us yet understand, spinnning constantly round our Blue Planet.

You thought Crop Circles were cool: in midwinter, Light is even Cooler.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, consciousness, environment, nature, sun, weather | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments