Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Flight of the Shamanic Santa

Two great Tenger, Keiden Khan and Usan Khan, 
Talked about the old things 
Of long long ago,
When the heavens swirled with bright fog above 
and the earth did not have any corners below.
The grasess had not yet begun to grow, the great stag still a fawn,
the giant snake a worm, it was a beautiful time to look and to learn.

But times have changed, and now even the star people are troubled.
Gal Nurma Khan, a fearsome sorcerer has arisen to destroy the Earth.
Snarling his dark oath; ''Mankind will die in one generation!”
Gal Nurma Khan went to the land of the yellow lake,
Where he prepared three hundred evil spirits and thirty demons 
to lead them,
With yellow spotted horses, beards, and robes, 
Yellow lice for their food.
Then he traveled to the land of the blue lake,
And prepared there three hundred evil spirits with thirty demons 
to lead them,
With blue spotted horses, beards and robes, 
Blue lice for their food.
Going further to the land of the black lake.
He prepared three hundred evil spirits, with thirty demons 
to lead them,
With black spotted horses, beards and robes, 
Black lice for their food.

Nine hundred evil spirits and Ninety demons now lay waste to the Earth 
Their damage acute,
Flowing waters they poison at source, 
Growing plants they pollute at their root,
The land infested by their snakes of suffering,  
The Earth dying, her people crying.
Anthrax and plague killing them cold, 
Sickness dances with hunger and need takes both young and old.
The people and creatures die, by day, by dusk and by night 
Sad spirits fly.

Altai Ulaan, Shaman of the North, 
Heard the cries of the suffering all around him.
From the city of Ultima Thule where they call him 
SantaHo ClausHeim,
To consult with the Council of Stars - 
Where they call him Little Jolnir Longbeard the fine,
And to Keiden Khan and Usan Khan, where they call him Friend.

In the bleak mid-winter - on Earth hard as iron,
With the wild wind wasailing all round us.
Walking outwards and onwards and father and further,
Walking onwards As Snow falls on snowfalls.
Long time was our Altai travelling thgrough fields and towns,
Passed woodland glades where there was dancing,
Over barren planes and all kinds of strange,
To the Great Forest of the formlessness found him.

Here these Tenger greet Altai Ulaan with delight,
They made a feast that lasted eight days and forty two nights.
On the ninth day they talked about the important things due,
Things which have changed and which should never be true.
It was decided to take their message through the skies to the Stars,
And to the great Grandmother Manzan Gurme, Ancestor of ours.

And Altai Ulaan asked his friends then 
“Will you give me the four magic breaths for my journey as wren?''
Keiden Khan looked to Usan Khan and after a moment  
“We Will Give Them!” they said.
And Altai Ulaan grinned and then he said 
“Will you give me the white steed to cross the ten thousand realms?”
And they gulped 
“We Will Give It!” as his forebearance overwhelms.
Altai paused and then whispered aloud 
“Will you give the healing heartmind that is placed on the crown of the brow?”
And they gasped 
“We Will Give It!”  as the heavens allow...
Then Altai laughed 
“I will climb the thousand storms, take our message through the sky to the Stars 
And to Grandmother, give I!”
Keiden Khan and Usan Khan  heard his wise decision with gladness, 
And they confirmed it just so to defeat the bad badness.

Riding his drum, his shamans journey begun, 
Altai Ulaan began his transcending.
With thirteen magicks on his palm and twenty-three on his fingers,
Into trance he advanced crossing one realm into another, 
Past many countless ringers.
Be wary here lest lost in fear the path without a footfall beyond all going,
Ride on Altai Ulaan and rise on and rise up, 
Follow the way of the spirits formless flowing.
To Grandmother Gurme - Altai Ulaan was shamanizing.......

And he called through the skies, to the great yurt beyond sighs,
''Grandmother Gurme please do arise!
You who gave birth to the ten thousand most freely,
Now Nine hundred evil and Ninety demons beseige we.
And Gal Nurma Khan - his wickedness deceives us,
Our flowing waters pollute, our plants uproot, our existence by maggots  is eaten and moot.
My message I send, fly straight to the end, 
To my Grandmother the Great Manzan Gurme!”
This message overflowing with illness and disease tumbled up directly
On Altai's heart breeze,
To Grandmother Gurme who 
Was filled with amazement and with woe........

Looking in her magic mirror she saw the Earth world below:
And the ninety demons and the nine hundred spirits 
Of Gal Nurma Khan grow.
Their noses like stovepipes running strings - bubbling snots,
Eating Black pots of lumpy disgusting things and foul blots.
Walking upright - topless hats on their heads, soleless boots on their feet,
Riding tailless horses raising black fogs over Earth's pathways and streets.
Slithering like worms and swarming like flies,
They trample the animals and peoples to die.

Grandmother sipped from her cup of reflection,
And then she said, with a powerful inflection;
“The orphaned and the lonely, and the people of the Earth,
Tormented and dying and passing away.
Being mowed down like hay, and broken like reeds,
Those who travel out destroyed on the road,
Those who remain home decayed all the same.
It is your fault foul Gal Nurma Khan -
And You will correct it as soon as you can!''
Having said her say under a dark stormy sky,
She went back to her home and the messengers fly.

Sent out in the ten thousand directions 
Of the dark-bright-heavens twinkling,
To call a meeting of Stars to make a wise decision for the unjinxing.
We meet on the moon to make a beautiful decision true,
The Stars, Gal Nurma Khan, will keep no place for you.
You will change now, or you will ever be banished.
And as you are vanished we recover our kinfolk,
We send sacred starlight to heal them from your yoke.

Altai Ulaan returned to his friends,
On a comet his spirit  traveled in reverse of acsend.
And the three great spirits greeted each other again,
With joy and delight to his earthly needs tend.
Altai Ulaan brought them gifts from above,
The certainty of change and the promise of love.
With the steadfast knowledge that all will eventually be well,
Now that Star nations to Earth's needs abseil.

Knowing that it was now soon, the time to be leaving,
Before sadness came to Keiden Khan and Usan Khan grieving,
Altai Ulaan, Shaman and friend beset him away,
With a blessing and a laughter that you can still hear, to this day.....

c.Celestial Elf. 2013.
 Inspired by and adapted from aspects and characters in The Epic of King Gesar

Santa Claus Origins in the North;
Most religious historians agree that during the Christianization of Northern Europe local traditions were incorporated into the new Christian holidays to make them more acceptable to the new converts, thus Saint Nicholas was elevated for his kindness to the poor and Santa Claus was created, a Christianized version of earlier Pagan gods.
In support of this view, Santa researchers agree that many aspects of Santa derive from The Norse mythology.
Thor was the god of the peasants and the common people, represented as an elderly man, jovial and friendly, with a long white beard. His element was the fire, his color red and his chariot was drawn by two white goats (Cracker and Gnasher). He was fighting the giants of ice and snow, and thus became the Yule-god.
Contrastingly,  the Prose Edda, written in the 13th C, describes Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir (Santa originally had eight reindeers, Rudolph was nine) that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to Santa Claus's reindeer. Tradition has it that Odin led the souls of the dead on a furious cross-country ride during the twelve 'bad' days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6). The resulting gale carried along the seeds of the produce of the fields, stimulating fertility. The apples, nuts, and other autumn produce given around St. Nicholas Day were symbols of fertility and by giving the Gods these symbolic presents during the cold, dark winter days would result in increased fertility for man, animal, and soil.

According to religious historians & astrologists, Santa's magical journey on his sleigh around the whole planet in a single night, is apparently developed from the ‘heavenly chariot’ used by many Gods from whom Santa and other shamanic figures are descended.

The Shaman traditionally undertake vision quests into many spirit realms to communicate with Gods, Nature Spirits and even deceased people on behalf of an individuals need or for the community - a literal paralell to Santa's allegoric flight around the world. Shamen also return with gifts, not toys, but messages for the individuals and the tribe, concerning the year to come, their hunts and harvests, the fate of their world.( more here )

Shamanic Healing;
Shamans gain their knowledge and the power to heal by entering into the spirit dimensions by means of trance like states induced by repetitive drumming, and plants with psychotropic qualities to further their altered perceptions of reality beyond the physical constraints of normal reality in the earth plane. The shaman may have or acquire many spirit guides, who often guide and direct the shaman in his/her travels in the spirit world. These spirit guides are always present within the shaman though others only encounter them when the shaman is in a trance. The spirit guide energizes the shaman, enabling him/her to enter the spiritual dimension and thuis t gain the wisdom or undderstanding he needs to help or heal the individual or society. In shamanism it is believed that part of the human soul is free to leave the body. The soul is the axis mundi, the center of the shamanic healing arts. Shamans change their state of consciousness allowing their free soul to travel and retrieve ancient wisdom, gods and great spirits of nature.

Mongolian Tenger, Chotgor, and other Nature Spirits;
There are many different types of spirits in the sky and in nature recognised in Shaman spiritual awareness; some are very strong and cannot be mastered by shamans, others are relatively easy to control. No spirit should be disturbed or controlled unless for the purpose of restoring balance, and not for any frivolous purpose. Spirits are not greater or lesser than living things with bodies, only different in essence, and should be treated with the same respect as humans or animals. The strongest of the nature spirits are the sky spirits, tenger, who live at each of the four directions. Tenger are very powerful and cannot be controlled, but they can be called for assistance during shamanist rituals. The greatest of the western tenger is Ulgen, son of Father Heaven and lord of the spirits of the upper world. The greatest of the eastern tenger is Erleg Khan, Ulgen’s brother and lord of the spirits of the lower world. Usan Khan, the lord of the water spirits, is invoked from the southern direction; Keiden, also known as Tatai Tenger, is invoked from the north, he is the controller of violent weather, lightning, and tornadoes.

The sky is also home to the Endur spirits, who are the suns souls of humans that have lived such outstanding lives that they do not return to the lower world. They are not as powerful as tenger, but live in clouds and cause rain to fall.

The Earth is home to a great variety of spirits, including chotgor, ozoor, ongon, burhan, and gazriin ezen spirits. Among many Siberian tribes these nature spirits are known collectively as the ayyy. Chotgor spirits, also known as kut or abaasy, are frequently the cause of disease, mental illness, or confusion. Some chotgor are the suns spirits of dead people who did not find their way to the lower world or came back from the lower world. In such cases a shaman simply needs to send them to their proper home. Other troublesome spirits have never been incarnated but simply exist in nature. After being mastered by a shaman they can become helper spirits. ( more here )

Santa Claus Gift to you;
The true gift of Santa Claus then, lies not in the fraught or hopeful exchange of gifts or toys, but in celebrating our individual health and community health and well being, priceless gifts from Divine Nature:The gifts, of perception and awareness, that allow us to witness the beauty of this life and its many wonders, of seeing the solstice sun, or hearing joy in the voices of our children and friends, of love.....
So when the jolly Shaman gifts you with his blessings this year, remember that the Nature which expresses itself in endless galaxies of light and wonder, also celebrates its existence in you and through you, that is his real gift.....

Blessed Be By Starlight and True Sight,
May you Ever Share Infinities Delight.
Ho Ho Ho.

c.Celestial Elf. 2013.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Oak & Ash & Thorn - The Faerie Trees

Moonbeams dance on Oak and Ash and Thorn,
The magic people they here adorn.
By each of these three fairy trees,
To dance and sing on midnight breeze.

Grandfather Oak, home of the fay,
King of the forest leads the wise Druids way.
By Oak apples and acorns, by leaf and by branch,
Mysteries revealed - understandings advance.

MoonMother Ash brings harm to none,
Connecting this world with the Others as one.
Her wisdom found in runes and sees,
As above - so below, established with ease.

Hawthorn of the Witches and the Beltane and We,
Unlucky be those who ever cut thee.
Guardian of our chambers, holy wells and hills,
Gateway to the underworld of faerie free wills.

These sacred trees, empowered - revere,
The LuNanTiShee fae and many others here.
Yet death has come creeping into our lands,
Seizing our trees with insatiable hands.

Morning and evening hear the Goblins cry:
Come die! - Come die! with bacteria we fly...
Polutants unpecked and Blooms unsuspect,    
All ripen together under our tender neglect.

Come die! come die! - see the stems bleed and cry,
Blackness bubbles and drips awry.
Towering trees now release the dark sky,
Come die! - call the Goblins as they hobble and pry. 

GleAwGesCyrrpan the White Dragon,
In the gloaming does happen.
Without sweetness he finds,
An Oak very transformed around which the death windes.

Moonbeams dance on Oak and Ash and Thorn,
The magic people in sorrow now adjorn.
GleAwGescyrrPan the White Dragon he flees,
To tell the Faeries on breath of bees.

Mankind calls it Ash Dieback and Acute Oak Decline,
The trees of our island and their magic combine.
To withstand Goblin assault from their netherland,
A radiance is needed to overcome the dark hand.

Silver Faerie comes all pensefull - stumbling alone,
To assay the foul damage that Goblin has sown.
His heart collapse broken between the laying of leaves,
His tears fall as black, as deaths poisoned fleas.

Healing cantation with loves power to mend,
Bring pain and bring sickness to their singular end.
I will it so and thus weeping I weave,
Stand fast then! Bear well! I will now leave.

To WoodWose Greene we upon the wind,
With Henkie Troll and OtherWivet Toad winged.
For wisdom seek we the Lord of Trees,
The OfWundrian keeper of the magical keys.

Across the wide veils of the day and of night,
A terrible burden to somehow set right.
This party of three passed all kind of terrors,
Lest we never suceed - HeOnOn and EllEllEs. (from here and otherwise)

To WoodWose  temple of lifes greengrowing delight,
An audience with wisdom in luminous hyght. (bliss)
Blow upon us a cleansing for the trees of the earth,
He delivered a blide blessing of infinite worth.

So returned we GeberScipe of three for the trees, (party)
with a Men-Nisc-Nis of a LeodSong in ancient tongue these. (incarnation / poem-Chant)
Gathered all to the Oak Tree in advance to intone,
It is arrived - a terrible vanquishing to lead good health home.

Disease! Disease! I beseech you away,
Each tree by heart spells be healed I pray.
With this invocation I will cast out your dark doing,
Breath blasted wickedness tis your time for the hewing;

Ic BonNan AbRreCan GastLic HaeLan,
GeBlanDan FraCod Adl Ge Nu HweorFan.
EoWer GamEtiGan LangLice Her EndE,
Se Maere Beams FreOþian FeLaMin FreondE.

(I summon a storm of spiritual healing)
(corrupt wicked disease now you must go)
(your empty time here ended)
(leave the illustrious trees care to my many friends so)

Grandfather Oak roots deep in the earth,
May new sun bring you strength, and joy and mirth.
May new moon bring you peace and rest to your fill,
By the fellowship of the Greenwood - overcome all your ill.

I will it thus, and so with this spell,
May you be ever happy, twice healthy, thrice well.
And as everything yet does come so in threes,
To you dear friend listener I also say please...

O people of the wisling world, be empowered and attest,
If Goblin tree sighted, summon from your wise men the best.
Take care of the shimmering and chanting of Oaks,
The faerie trees need all your prayers and your bright hopes.

Moonbeams dance on Oak and Ash and Thorn,
The magic people here are sworn.
By each of these three fairy trees,
To cherish and protect as natures trustees.

c. Celestial Elf 2013.

Oak, Ash, and Thorn - 
These three trees are called the Faerie Triad because groves which include all three of these trees are places where you can see the faeries. All three are Druid sacred trees and part of the Celtic Tree Calendar which is a Lunar Calendar of 13 months, each 28 days in length. Each month of the Celtic Lunar calendar bears the name of a tree, which also stands for one of the consonants in the Celtic ‘tree alphabet’. It is terribly bad luck to cut down a faerie tree or damage it in any way, as it is said that you will never know a good nights sleep again for the rest of your life. Unless you are a friend you should also stay away from the trees at full moon because if you hear music coming from the trees a faerie kingdom is celebrating the full moon and if you touch the tree you may be swallowed up and kept by the Faeries forever.  Pookas, Cluricaunes and mysterious white-clad women have all appeared near these trees and bushes.

Of all the trees that grow so fair, Old England to adorn,
Fairer are none beneath the Sun, Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.

Rudyard Kipling. (Kipling's Oak and Ash and Thorn poem Here)

As of February 2015, the number of sites affected by ash dieback in the UK, has tripled to around 1000. With the entire country now looking to be affected, our nation’s 126 million ash trees are now at risk. This disease has swept through Europe in two decades leaving 60-70% of ash trees infected. Ancient woodland is irreplaceable. Wooded since at least 1600, it is ecologically our richest land-based habitat, home to many rare and threatened species. Creating woods with a wider variety of native species and more diversity in age and structure will better enable our trees to withstand the inevitable arrival of those diseases that do get through the net.
If a method of halting, or even treating, the disease is not found soon, the ecological consequences could be utterly devastating. It is predicted that, as it stands, around 95% of ash trees in the UK alone will die. Not only does this threaten the ash population, many species of wildlife are also at risk of losing their habitats. These include bats, wood mice, wrens, beetles, and bullfinches. In total, around 1000 species will be affected, with 45 facing extinction if the disease cannot be halted. Of these, four lichen species, eleven fungi, and 29 invertebrates are found solely on the ash.
( Support Woodland Trust Here )

A mystery disease causing Britain's oak trees to "bleed to death" has prompted a £1.1m research effort to identify its cause.  Acute Oak decline is a  new disease to the UK that infects Britains mature Oak trees of over 50 years old of both Britain's native oak species (Quercus Robur, known as Pedunculate or English Oak, and Quercus petraea - Sessile Oak).

Dr Sandra Denman, lead scientist on the project to identify its cause, said: "AOD is a serious problem for both of Britain's native Oak trees. Oak is our most important native broad-leafed tree species and is iconic to Britain...The disease can be seen on affected trees as a black, tarry-like resin bleeding from the tree bark''... Key symptoms are black weeping patches on stems (called stem bleeds); lesions and necrotic tissue underlying the bleed points, and larval galleries are usually present weaving a sinuous path along the cambial zone.
It is thought to be caused by a bacterial infection and symptoms include “bleeding” cankers (areas of dead bark from which a black exudates) on the stem of the oak tree.  The extent and potential spread of this disease is presently under investigation by Forest Research and confirmation on the cause of the disease and its likely threat to our native woods is due within the next 6-12 months.
studies indicate that a similar condition has been observed in continental Europe since 1918, spreading southwards and westwards since then. In some instances the disease is accompanied by insects attacking the trees too, particularly the buprestid beetle, We also have a highly significant co-occurrence of the native buprestid or oak jewel beetle (Agrilus biguttatus) with the lesions in symptomatic trees. These are not thought to be the cause of the disease but rather they are opportunistically taking advantage of already weakened trees; such infestations further weaken and can hasten the death of trees.

With a cure yet to be found, there is no plan for dealing with AOD so diseased trees must be left to die naturally over the five to 10 years it takes for AOD to take hold. If the cause can be identified, a plan can be put in place to prevent the disease spreading.
In the meantime, it is hoped that the public can help by using the Forestry Commission's Tree Alert tool to report suspected cases.

We encourage people who work in or visit areas with affected oak trees to help us limit the spread of the condition by not touching affected trees if possible, cleaning their footwear between woodland visits, disinfecting tools after working on trees in affected areas, and not taking any plant material such as leaves and sticks out of affected woodlands.

( More information on Managing Acute Oak Decline Here )

( Report Infected Trees with free Google Tree Alert App Here )

Oak Tree Lore;
Oak is one of the most sacred trees, traditionally prized by the Celts and Druids. Carrying any piece of the Oak draws good luck to you (remember to ask permission and show gratitude.)  Oak beams are often used to make doors, but the tree itself is a great portal to the other realms. Witches often danced beneath the Oak Tree for ritual. The druids would not meet for ritual if there was not an Oak tree present. The oak tree endures what others cannot. It remains strong through challenges, and is known for being almost immortal, as is often attested to by its long life and ability to survive fire, lightning strikes, and devastation. ''I honor the energy of oak, the doorway to the mysteries. I will call upon the strength of the Horned One when I feel in need of protection. So mote it be''
Magickal properties:  "Oaken twigs and strings of red Deflect all harm, gossip and dread." Dreaming of resting under an Oak tree means you will have a long life and wealth. Climbing the tree in your dream means a relative will have a hard time of it in the near future. Dreaming of a fallen oak means the loss of love. If you catch a falling oak leaf you shall have no colds all winter. If someone does get sick, warm the house with an oakwood fire to shoo away the illness. Carry an acorn against illnesses and pains and to increase fertility and sexual potency. ( More Oak Tree Lore Here )

Ash Tree Lore;
The most famous Ash was the Norse World Tree, Yggdrasil, on which Odin hung, to receive the wisdom of the runes, thus Ash possesses indescribable knowledge Ash is associated with communications of all sorts. Witches were believed to fly on ash-handled broomsticks, while Viking ships were made of ash. Many ancient cultures believed that humans originated within the Ash - for instance, souls were born in the branches of Yggdrasil. In some places in the world people leave locks of human hair hanging from an ash tree in so their wishes will come true.
Magickal properties: Ash leaves attract love and prosperity. Burn Ash wood at Yule to receive prosperity. Sleep with them under your pillow and you will have psychic/prophetic dreams. Sleep with them in a bowl of water next to your bed to prevent illness. Wearing garters of green ash bark protects against the powers of magicians. Ash is the key to healing the loneliness of the human spirit, forming a link between the gods, humans, and the dead in the spirit world. Ash holds the key to Universal Truth and Cosmic Wisdom, and it takes on the important role as a Tree of Initiation.   ( More Ash Tree Lore Here )

Hawthorn Tree Lore;
This trees it also called the "Whitehorn" or "May" tree and is probably the most sacred tree to the faeries. If you sit under the Hawthorn tree on Samhain, Midsummer Eve, or Beltane you can commune with the faeries. To rid yourself of troubles make a ball of last years foliage, tie it with a white ribbon, and burn it on a bonfire new years day. Then, make a ball of fresh thorn brances and leaves and keep it for next years bonfire. The original May Poles were also made of Hawthorn.
In Irish folklore the Hawthorn is sometimes referred to as the faerie bush, due to the belief that fairy spirits inhabit the tree as guardians, and since early times it has always been considered bad luck to cut or damage the tree in fear of offending them.  However after due regard to the guardian spirit, the collecting of sprigs and flowers from the tree particularly during the May Day celebrations was allowed, and thereafter place in the home to banish evil influences. However, do not take a blossoming hawthorn branch inside your house lest this cause your mother to die.  
Magickal properties: The tree essence cleanses the heart of negativity and stimulates love and forgiveness. ( More Hawthorn Tree Lore Here )
In 2010 and 2012 the most well known British thorn, The Glastonbury Thorn has been savagely vandalised, whilst our prayers are for the trees recovery, our fears are also for the miscreants who carried out these acts.

The Faeries;
Faery-sprites are also known as the Sidhe, Gentlefolk, Little People, Elemental Nature Spirits and more. Various theories about who the faeries are and their origin have developed over time ( none put forward by the faeries themselves however), including the following view that they represent a conflation of disparate elements of folk belief, influenced by literature and learned speculation. In Alchemy in particular they were regarded as elementals, such as gnomes and sylphs, as described by Paracelsus. In folklore, they are variously regarded as nature spirits, a hidden species, or as spirits of the dead, (even, by Christians, as descendants of their own fallen angels or demons). Another theory is that the faeries were originally minor goddesses, such as nymphs or tree spirits, later displaced by incoming Christianity, a trend now being reveresed as many spiritually reawaken to the ways of nature and the interconectedness of all things.

The Lunantishee, or Lunantishess, are a tribe of fairies who guard blackthorn bushes (one of the Fairy Trees). They will not allow that a blackthorn stick is cut on May 11th (originally May Day) or November 11 (originally All Hallows Eve). Should on person cut a stick some misfortune will befall them, those who damaged the tree go from being healthy to sick, become paralysed, eventually going mad or in the worst cases have died.

GleAwGescyrrPan the White Dragon symbolizes purity and wisdom. White Dragons are associated with the light and righteousness, in general Dragons represent the primal forces in nature and the universe.

A Goblin is a small, swarthy, malicious being. They sometimes appear in the shape of animals which appropriately reflects their bestial nature. They are the thieves and villains of Faerie.

Trolls, frequently observed performing a curious lop-sided dance called 'Henking' gives rise to their name in some parts as Henkies. It is also thought by some that the Trows of Orkney and Shetland are 'shrunken' version of the monstrous, gigantic Norse trolls brought by the Norwegians when they settled these regions.( http://bit.ly/HDFiAB )

Toad's signify a connection to Earth, Fortune and Fertility, they also are a connection to the Otherworld, serving as guardians for those who passed over. In earlier times the services of Toadmen were employed on farms to help with breeding and other farming matters. It's likely that they drew their 'powers' from an esoteric knowledge of herb-lore.

Woodwose Greene is a woodland spirit who protects wild animals and the forestsand is sometimes depicted with a tail, hooves, and horns comparable to the faun of classical mythology, - another manifestation of the  Green Man, Guardian and God of vegetation and plant life.
A person who befriends a Woodwose can learn the secrets of earth magic, from protection of creatures to guardianship of the forests. Farmers and shepherds often used to make pacts with these spirits to protect their crops and sheep.

This Is Not A Dream.
The modern tendency to prettify fairies in children's stories represents a remarkable trvialisation of what was once a serious and even sinister folklore tradition. The fairies in earlier times were both respected and feared as dangerous and powerful beings who were sometimes friendly to humans but could also be cruel or mischievous. Conversely they could be the best of friends if you have earned their trust or friendshipo and as for loyalty, their protection of the Earth and all the natural residentrs therupon is second to none.

Faeries- Enchanted Eco Warriors;
Forerunners of our modern eco-warriors, legends and myths about the faeries regulated the relationship between humans and nature, and the rules of human society. It was vital to not take more from nature than you needed, or you would upset a supernatural people believed to live underground. And these subterranean people were known to extract their revenge on greedy humans. Myths also helped maintain the set standards and roles in society, in earlier and wilder times If you strayed from the norm you risked serious consequences such as physical danger or social ostracism which could lead to death without a community to belong to. It could ironically be argued that whilst this rule held in earlier times when people and their lives were more bound to nature and her ways, but that now as a culture we have moved ever further from such involvement, wether to conform to an 'un-nature-all' norm is still the best course to follow, perhaps we should follow the faeries once again as in times of yore.

To learn more about Faeries and the Faerie Faith I strongly recommend  The Faery Faith: An Integration of Science with Spirit by Serena Roney-Dougal, ( my review here )

By Oak and Ash and Thorn, Bright Blessings ~

Celestial Elf xx ~

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Samhain Song

The sun is bright nolonger - nor warm,
Old branches hung with sleeping.
The great wheel turns, another year,
Into the darkness fleeting.

Of questions asked with breath bowed words,
leaf rustle - bird's wing whispers.
The rivers tale unfolds a dream,
Moonlight paints winters whiskers.

As darkest night cracks silent stars,
And shapes shift slowly creeping.
In meadows that the scythe has hewn,
Now Samhain fires are leaping.

The dance of life is spinnning on,
Death cleaves and weaves light lowly.
The welcome chant as earth grows cold,
my heart, a north wind only.

The Veil Is thin and gates wide swung,
The Netherworld is dawning.
Samhain arrives with setting sun,
An Otherworld is yawning.

“Ancestors one and Kinsfolk all,
We invite you now to hearth and hall.
Come tell us of your travels hence,
And share your wisdom, recompence.

I ask you lay your blessings here,
In this season of waning of light.
That darkness not be heavy to bear,
And journeys end be bright.

Now hear the voices of the dead,
Uncounted jewels around us.
Of grandafther gone - grandmother led,
from sky - tree - earth they found us.

And one by one the spirits come,
laughing beside our firesides.
Tender tales of sights unknown,
forewarnings of the darksides.

And all too soon the gathering ends,
beloved friends departing.
To Otherworld they do return,
Another year advancing.

As fires quell - through mists one yell
Samhain's bright blessing heard we;
My time is come - now heed my tell,
And Ever Joy beside thee;

Our ancient blood runs in your veins,
The spirit of our heart your keep.
Our wisdom shared to guide you on,
Thus Take and Give - Remember.

By Cauldron of Earth and Blossom of Bone,
The Circle of Life is Unbroken.
By Depth of Sea and Light of Star,
The forms of Life are but Token.

So Mote It Be!

Original poem c.Celestial Elf 2013.

Samhain (pronounced ˈsɑːwɪn/ sow-in) marks the beginning of the "darker half" of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November- or Halloween, which name developed from All Hallows Eve as the night preceeded All Saints Day in the later Catholic ritual calendar.

The veil is thin between the worlds of the living and dead, this is  a liminal time, when the supernatural spirits, fairies and elves ( Aes Sídhe pronounced 'ees shee') could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see these as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits.  It was believed that the Sidhe needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left for them.

Death holds no fear for pagans as we understand that death and birth are intertwined. Our goddesses and gods all represent aspects of the cycle of birth, growth, death, and regeneration. Just as every good gardener knows that fertility is born out of decay. and every fallen leaf becomes part of the soil that feeds the roots of growing trees - so each spirit that passes to the Summerlands or beyond enriches the hearts and lives of their family and friends along the way. In this spirit then the dead at Samhain revisit their homes. Feasts are held at which the souls of dead kith and kin are invited and a place set at the table for them. Single candles are also lit in a window to guide these spirits home.

Mumming and guising were traditionally a part of this festival too, and involved people going door-to-door in costume or in disguise, often reciting verses in exchange for food - perhaps originating the Halloween trick or treat tradition. The costumes worn may have been either a way of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aes Sídhe.

In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer (sic) suggested that this was the Celtic New Year, and this view has been upheld by other scholars and the wider pagan community, many of whom call Samhain The Witches New Year, because of its powerful associations.

As at Beltane, special bonfires are lit to protect the community - the Bone-Fire is lit and the whole community takes hands to dance both sunwise and anti-sunwise as it blazes. As the fires wane, some run through the fields with burning embers, throwing them into the air and dancing over them as they glow on the ground. There may also be a leaping competition across the remains of the fire, reminiscent of the Beltane festival. When this is finished, the people return home where in groups they tell tales, duck for apples, share the feast and practised divination with nuts and apples (more details here ).

Blessed Be Sacred Samhain
May Kith & Kin Kindly Guide You
Through All Your Days
And Darkest Nights
The Joy Of Life
Beside You

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Witch - Wise Woman of the People.

Original Story written and narrated by Lynda.F.Tallis. 2010

Would you call a doctor evil and cast him into the fire, or kill the pharmacist who dispenses your pills? Yet for three centuries ( c. 1450-1750 ) European societies were consumed by a panic over Witch-hunts which resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of victims, mainly women.
Traditional Folk Healers, also known as Cunning Folk, Wise Women and Witches were then as now, practitioners of midwifery, herbalism, folk medicine, folk magic and divination.

by Jordi@photos
Up to the Renaissance period, the wisdom of the Wise Women and Cunning Folk was considered invaluable for the wellbeing of the community. Their knowledge of the healing properties of various plants and herbs passed down through the generations. Their role to provide help for people in need, caring for the bodies and spirits of those around them, telling their fortunes, treating their bodily ailments, dowsing their lost property, and physicking their farm animals. They were the midwives who brought new life into the world, and who laid out the dead at the end of life. Their natural magic, in harmony with the rhythms of life, centred and nourished the spirits of the whole community. They were honoured for their wisdom and knowledge: when they spoke, people listened.
The practices of these Wise Women and Cunning men have much in common with Shamans and Witch Doctors around the world- a belief that we are surrounded by spirits and that we can commune with them, that the land is alive and must be honoured and cared for, that our actions affect the world around us and we must seek to live in harmony with it, that we are part of the ebb and flow of the seasons and must perform certain actions at the correct time. ( More here at Mercian Gathering. )

Astral Vision © Greg Spalenka:
Previously - In Wiser Worlds.
Under Pagan Celtic and Saxon law, women had been priestesses, teachers, chieftains, property holders, healers and judges, but the invading Roman culture and then in an ongoing way, Christianity stripped women of these rights and left them as mere chattels of their husbands and fathers, 'intellectually like children' a belief that persists in some monotheistic patriarchal cultures to this day. Women were denied the role they had enjoyed in Pagan cultures as mothers and creators of life. Church scholars had decided that the spark of life comes from the male sperm, that women merely served as the soil in which it is planted. Nevertheless Cunning Folk and Wise Women continued to share their nature based remedies as well as provide spiritual and psychological support to their communities as they always had done.

Samhain (October 31st) by megalith6
England Follows Europe.
In England and Wales there had been no attempt to illegalise the Cunning Folk, Wise Women and Witchcraft during the late 15thC until the Witchcraft Act of 1542 enacted under the reign of Henry VIII, which targeted both Witches and Cunning Folk, prescribing the death penalty for such crimes as using invocations and conjurations to locate lost items or to cast a love spell. This law was repealed no later than 1547, under the reign of Henry's son Edward VI; those with influence believed that either the death penalty was too harsh for such crimes and/or that the practice of the Cunning Craft was a moral issue better for the Church to deal with in ecclesiastic courts, thus empowering the Church to persue its agenda of total control.
For the following few decades, the magical practices of the Cunning Folk and Wise Women remained legal despite opposition from certain religious authorities. It was a time of great religious upheaval in the country as Edward's successor, his sister Mary I, reimposed Roman Catholicism, before Anglicanism was once again restored under Elizabeth I. In 1563, after the return of power to the Anglican Church of England, a bill was passed by parliament designed to illegalise "Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts", again aimed at both alleged Witches and Cunning Folk - the Witch Hunt that had been raging in Scotland and in many parts of continental Europe had finally arrived in England.

A Particularly Patriachal Persecution.
The first European woman executed as a Witch was Angele, Lady of Labarthe, who was burnt at the stake at Toulouse in 1275. The last European Witch burned was Bridget Cleary who, in 1894, was roasted on a kitchen fire at Clonmel in Ireland. For three centuries of early modern European history ( c. 1450-1750  ) societies were consumed by a panic over alleged Witches in their midst. Witch-hunts, especially in Central Europe, resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of victims, about three-quarters of whom were women.  Among the causes for persecution of Wise Women as Witches were the key issues of patriachal power and state control of the people by endorsing ostensibly Religious cleansing progroms with the aim of capturing peoperty, removing voices of dissent and disabling communal traditions of freedom - to be replaced by a terrified obedience and fear. Suppressing Witchcraft deprived medieval people of alternative medicine and estranged them from ancient Earth wisdom. In their 1973 book, Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers, feminist and environmentalist writers Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English argued that Witches were actually midwives targeted by their rivals, male physicians. "No one is more dangerous and harmful to the Catholic Faith than the midwives". Fifty years ago, one of the neopagan movement's founders, Gerald Gardner, coined the term "The Burning Times" to describe this period of persecution.

European Witch-Hunts.
Since 395 AD, with the Codex Theodosius, Pagans have been persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church with forced conversions to Christianity, torture and death of resisters, destruction of Pagan property, sacred sites, symbols, wealth, literature, etc. - as well as Christianization - the claiming of Pagan property, symbols, celebrations and festival times.  Traditional tolerant attitudes towards Witchcraft began to change more vigorously in the 14th century as central Europe was seized by a series of malign conspiracies that Jews, Moslems and Witches were attempting to destroy the Christian kingdoms through magick and poison. After the terrible devastation caused by the Black Death (Bubonic plague-1347-1349), these rumors increased in intensity and focused primarily on Witches as plague-spreaders because the Church reviled women as sinful, clear from their many ‘abominations’; women menstruate, get pregnant and give birth, all evidence of their sexual nature and activity which was reviled as a carnal sin (prostitution had also been considered an honourable profession before the arrival of Christianity). The Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), was a powerful book written by two Spanish monks. This work mixed the popular traditions of witchcraft with an explicit denial of Christian orthodoxy, and twisted it into a sado-erotic fantasy involving pacts with the Devil, the witch's Sabbat (note the association of maleficium, heresy and Judiasm) and night flight. This book which passed into the popular imagination, unchecked by Humanist learning and rational scepticism of the times was very unambiguous in its references to women's sexuality as an evil force. A woman was said to be impure "during her monthly periods.” Tertullian called women the "devil's gateway". Like Eve, all women were considered temptresses, inciting men to seek the forbidden fruit of lust. If a woman was raped, it was considered to be her own fault.... St Thomas Aquinas taught that women exerted an evil influence over men which caused them to have involuntary erections, and thus distracted them from contemplating God.  Witchcraft cases increased steadily from the 14th century and the first mass trials appeared in the 15th century. Around 1550, the persecution skyrocketed. What we (now) think of as "the Burning Times" the crazes, panics, and mass hysteria, largely occurred in one century, from 1550-1650. (Gibbons, "Recent Developments in the Study of the Great European Witch Hunt''.) ( More on Witches and Gendercide Here ).  (Witch Torture More details here NOT For The Fainthearted! ).

Fritz Roeber; Walpurgisnacht

Nobody Escaped The Inquisition.
The Inquisition in particular had targeted Witches and those accused of Witchcraft a particularly enthusiastic vehemence such that the term "Witch Hunt" became synonymous with both religious and political persecution. The Inquisition was the most elaborate extortion racket ever devised, primarily developed for profit. After the arrest, the property of the accused was instantly confiscated. Nothing seems to have been returned. The Popes publicly praised the rule of confiscation as a prime weapon against heresy. Confiscation was the organization's raison d'être - Reason of State; when the rule of confiscation was not applied, "the business of defending the faith languished lamentably." Affluent Italy made its inquisitors incredibly rich in the 14th century. Within two years, the inquisitor of Florence amassed "more than seven thousand flourins, an enormous sum." As the inquisitor Heinrich von Schultheis complacently wrote, "When I have you tortured, and by the severe means afforded by the law I bring you to confession, then I perform a work pleasing in God's sight; and it profiteth me." Confiscation took place before conviction, because it was taken for granted that no one escaped. "Officials considered themselves safe in acting upon the presumption of guilt."

On Wicked Witches
Wise Women practise an ancient and well respected craft that respects Mother Nature in all her forms. Their use of potions, charms and similar magics is neither good nor evil in and of itself but is rather a use of natural properties and energies as tools of healing and aids to divination etc. In this context the individual who creates a spell determines wether it is for good intentions such as healing an ailment or bad intentions. Both the historical accuations of Church leaders that such craft involved collaboration with their devils and to some extent that cunning men and women later sold charms to lift Witches curses - resorted to no doubt when a person suffered ill fortune and sought comfort through projecting causes, these apsects had fueled the fantasy of malevolent Witches intent on harm. Happily, Wise Women and Wiccans are increasingly disposessing a wider culture of these fears by challenging such missrepresentations and by carrying out high profile public works for the greater good.

Susun Weed - Green Witch

Religious Reperations Rebuffed.
In the late 1990's in preperation for the millenium of 2000 the Pope anounced plans in a report to apologize for treatment in past centuries of victims of inquisitions and persecution, however Neither the Pope's verbal apology nor the report addressed the past maltreatment and executions of Pagans specifically. Wiccans and other neo-Pagans felt that the witches of yesteryear should have been included, so a consortium of pagan leaders demanded a special apology from Pope John Paul II on the Jubilee Day of Pardon and they mourned a "pagan Holocaust" of nine million secret nature-worshippers exterminated by Christians 500 years ago under the Inquisition. ( Who Burned The Witches - Here ).
We have been unable to locate any direct response by the Pope to this request. However his statement of apology in 2000-MAR, according to Reuters, "outlined a framework for seeking forgiveness for past errors without necessarily admitting responsibility for them."  This statement contained no specific references to past events. Since Catholic theology teaches that the church itself is spotless and free of error and sin, the church itself was absolved of any blame. He assigned responsibility for past evils on individual members of the Church.

Subsequently Starhawk.
In 2009 pagan and womens activist Starhawk called again for a specific address, asking for;
"...an apology for the Papal Bull of Pope Innocent the Eighth, in 1484, that made Witchcraft an heresy and unleashed the Inquisition against traditional healers, midwives, and any woman unpopular with her neighbors for being too uppity? It's high past time to apologize for the Malleus Maleficarum, a vicious document written by two Dominican priests in 1486 that created a whole mythology of Satan worship, attributed it mostly to women, and unleashed a wave of accusations, torture, and judicial murder that have haunted us ever since. '' Whilst the response remains unchanged, events in todays wider world show all too clearly how the need remains as pressing as ever for an official reconciliation to be proclaimed......

Witch Hunts In A Modern Context.

Today fundamentalist churches of some African communities in the UK sustain the concept of demonic possession and the need to fight it by physical means. In 2005 three Londoners were convicted of cruelty to an eight-year-old Angolan girl they believed to be a witch. Her tormentors, one of them her aunt, had tried to "beat the devil out of her". Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. Kristy Bamu, a 15-year-old east London boy drowned in a bath during an exorcism Christmas Day in 2010. Such news from London is proof that the erroneous persecution of witchcraft continues in certain communities to this day. In September 2009 the UN identified witch-hunting as "a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe" ( More here ).

Womens Bodies, A Clear and Present Threat To Society.
Control over womens bodies and their reproductive powers, a key theme of earlier witchcraft motivations, has resurfaced with the recent surge in anti-abortion legislation (USA), which seeks to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights, lends comparisons to the witch craze of 15th century Europe. In 2013 we find ourselves living in unstable conditions marked by high unemployment, global warming and an ever increasing number of wars. Passing laws which single out women by making abortion illegal or available only under highly restricted conditions is reminiscent of the laws the Reformation passed to curtail women and to make them scapegoats for the larger social problems. The Reformation had enacted laws making it illegal for anyone without a medical degree to deliver babies and administer to the sick. These edicts ushered in medical schools open only to men.  Male doctors came to supplant the village wise women. Those women who continued to practice midwifery and healing were arrested and burned at the stake.  Like any repressive movement, paranoia took over.  Soon almost every village woman was suspect. Anne Barstow author of 'Witch Craze' brands the Witch craze  the “women’s holocaust” for the large number of women who were burned and tortured over three hundred years.
A focus on female sexuality as the source of societal problems continues today just as it did during the Reformation. Women healers were tortured until they confessed to having fornicated with the devil.  Modern women who seek abortions are being punished for being sexual, even when they were raped ( More here ).

Ray Bone, high priestess of the London witch coven 1964
Powerful women remain suspect, unless they behave like women sanctioned by the power structure (Hillary, Susan Rice or Samatha Powers or those female CEO’s) Among contemporary wise women who reflect the integrity and compassion of earlier wise women are: Medea Benjamin, a founder of Codepink, the women’s international peace organization. (Medea interrupted Obama’s recent foreign policy address, faulting his drone program for killing hundreds of innocent women and children); Jill Stein the Green Party 2012 Presidential candidate who took a stand for bank regulations, universal health care and policies to address global warming;  Marion Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund has been a tireless advocate for poor children since 1973; Amy Goodman, anchor of the progressive news show, “Democracy Now,” one of the few remaining news organizations that challenges the status quo.
( To learn more watch Donna Read’s DVD, The Burning Times here )

Africa, India and South-East Asia.
Few people are aware that Witch-Hunts still claim thousands of lives every year, especially in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and above all in South Africa.
Witch-hunts in South Africa have become "a national scourge," according to Phumele Ntombele-Nzimande of the country's Commission on Gender Equality. The phenomenon is centered in the country's poverty-stricken Northern Province, where "legislators counted 204 witchcraft-related killings [from 1985-95] ... Police counted 312 for the same period. Everybody agreed both numbers were gross underestimates." (Neely Tucker, "Season of the Witch Haunts Africa," The Toronto Star, August 1, 1999.) In 1996 The Observer (UK) reported that "the precise statistics are not known, but the deaths from witch-burning episodes number in the hundreds each year and the trend appears to be on the rise." (David Beresford, "Ancient superstitions, fear of witches cast spell on new nation," reprinted in The Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 1996.)

As with its European predecessor, Witch-Hunting in South Africa
is closely tied not only to prevailing superstitions, but to socio-economic pressures, natural disasters, and personal jealousies. In the Northern Province, "among the poorly educated rural residents, traditional healers and clairvoyants claiming supernatural powers hold broad sway. Hunger, poverty, and unemployment create jealousies that can quickly turn to anger and vengeance." (Lewthwaite, "South Africans go on Witch Hunts.") Likewise, Peter Alexander reports that "In a region of intense poverty and little education, villagers are quick to blame any adverse act of fate on black magic." These traditional tendencies have been exacerbated by a recent hysteria (extending to Kenya and Zimbabwe) over the very real phenomenon of "ritual killings related to Witchcraft," which "include the removal of organs and limbs from the victims -- the genitals, hands or the head, all of which are believed to bring good luck." (Alexander, "'Witches' get protection from superstitious mobs," The Daily Telegraph, May 26, 1997.) Such ritual murders often bring "retribution" against innocents accused of witchcraft. The intensity of the persecution and vigilantism in South Africa has reached such levels that no fewer than ten villages have been established in the Northern Province, populated exclusively by accused "witches" whose lives are at risk in their home communities.

In Nigeria An increasing number of children in the Niger Delta are being forced to the streets and trafficked as a result of a deeply held belief in child ‘Witches’ and also due to persistent violent conflicts, poverty, abuse, torture, rape, or being orphaned by HIV/AIDS. ( More Here )
In Zimbabwe, as in neighbouring South Africa, the Witch-Hunts also seem closely related to "the black market demand for human body parts, which are used in making evil potions."
In Kenya in 1993, killings among the Gusii tribe were occurring at the rate of one a week. "In most cases ... village mobs several hundred strong locked the victims inside thatch-roof houses and set them on fire. ... According to tribal elders, the Gusii have always executed people found to be Witches.
Other reports of Witch-Hunting vigilantism have come from Congo, where "The Congolese Human Rights Observatory ... announced that more than 60 people had been burned or buried alive since 1990 -- including 40 in 1996. The victims were accused, often by members of their own family, of being Witches." (See "South Africa Witch Killings", citing Reuters dispatch, October 2, 1996.) In the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), some 14,000 children in the capital, Kinshasa, alone have been accused of sorcery and expelled from their homes; "the unlucky ones are murdered by their own family members before they escape." (See Jeremy Vine, "Congo witch-hunt's child victims", BBC News, December 22, 1999.
In Papua New Guinea, where communities are warping under the pressure of the mining boom’s unfulfilled expectations, Women are blamed, accused of sorcery and branded as Witches — with by now all to common consequences of torture and death. ( look here )

Dini was accused of using black magic to kill her son. His friends dragged her to a pigsty, where she was tortured.

In India; Sona's mother was murdered and dismembered; Kalo was attacked with a saw and scarred for life. Hundreds of other Indian women are killed or disfigured every year after being branded witches by their neighbours. ( Look here )
In Parsa, Nepal: Various human rights organisations took to the streets... protesting the murder of Parbatidevi Chaudhary from Supauli-9 village in Parsa district, who was accused of practicing Witchcraft. The protest threw light on the growing number of assaults, public humiliation and even murder of some women accused by villagers of practicing Witchcraft, which the groups say are violations of human rights and an affront to public law and order. It is believed that there are many more such cases that are yet to be reported, as the attacks are usually by large groups, sometimes entire villages, who would then hush-up the incident.

Contemporary Witch - Freedom Fighter.
The historical Witch stereotype, for Wiccans, now represents resistance to assimilation of the individual whether to patriarchy, bureaucracy or capitalism. Through Starhawk's guidance, Wicca has become an activist religion with thousands of Wiccans involved in anti-war, anti-globalization and environmental movements, to name just a few. Starhawk herself tours the world, bringing and teaching her message of spirituality and ritual as methods for enacting change. Although the early modern Witch figure, as a fellow pagan resisting the established hierarchy that is persecuting her because of her religion, is no longer historically valid, nevertheless, she has become a powerful icon for those politically active Wiccans trying to effect change today in the 21st century. ( Dana Wessell, Ph.D look here )

sanspareille with crystal ball

Return of the Green Witch.
According to feminist author Germaine Greer, ''Eco-feminism is probably the modern equivalent of witchcraft in its openness to the idea of a confederacy between humans and other animals. This notion has been adopted in various mystical forms by the group of religions now called Wicca, but it has solid scientific grounds as well. Second-wave feminists are to be found wherever animal rights are being defended. Feminists struggle to keep beached whales and dolphins alive and shepherd them back to deep water, throw themselves under the wheels of lorries taking weanling calves to slaughter in mainland Europe, blockade ships transporting Australian sheep to be butchered in the Middle East. The women who turned up at the US army base at Greenham Common on September 5 1981 called themselves “Women for Life on Earth”. They would be there for 19 years.'' Clearly a force in the modern world standing for Nature's rights and against war and destruction of ourselves and of our companion co-tenants of the Earth.

''At the beginning of this year, the great physicist Stephen Hawking told the world that the Earth has only 1,000 years left – within a millennium, he said, global warming or nuclear holocaust will have made Earth uninhabitable and if humans are to survive, they must colonise space. You don’t have to believe in Gaia or that the Earth is female or that all life forms are holy to be struck by his dreadful insouciance. You don’t have to resort to mysticism – biology is enough to give you a clue that this callousness, this indifference to biodiversity is appalling''...

Global Chain of Light Samhain 07. Photo Ken Williams Shadows and Stone

I leave you now with The Wiccan Rede  (The Counsel Of The Wise Ones) by Doreen Valiente, 1964; A statement that provides the key moral system in the Neopagan religion of Wicca and certain other related Witchcraft-based faiths. A common form of the Rede is 'An it Harm None, Do What Ye Will. ( More details here ).

Bide the Wiccan laws ye must in perfect love and perfect trust.
Live and let live – fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the Circle thrice about to keep all evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.
Soft of eye and light of touch – speak little, listen much.
Deosil go by the waxing Moon – sing and dance the Wiccan rune.
Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, and the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two.
When the Moon rides at her peak, then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the Northwind’s mighty gale – lock the door and drop the sail.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
When the West wind blows o’er thee, departed spirits restless be.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go – burn them quick and burn them slow.
Elder be ye Lady’s tree – burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.
When the Wheel begins to turn – let the Beltane fires burn.
When the Wheel has turned a Yule, light the Log and let Pan rule.
Heed ye flower, bush and tree- by the Lady blessed be.
Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone an truth ye’ll know.
When ye have need, hearken not to other’s greed.
With the fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry meet an merry part – bright the cheeks an warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law ye should – three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow.
True in love ever be unless thy lover’s false to thee.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – an it harm none, do what ye will.

Bright Blessings By Star and Stone *~

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mandrake, Tree Of Knowledge ~

“The Mandrake is the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ and the burning love ignited by its pleasure is the origin of the human race.” – Hugo Rahner. 
The Mandrake ( Mandragora officinarum -also known as Herb of Circe, Wild Lemon, Womandrake ) holds the special distinction as being the most famous of all magical plants due to its many ritual and medical uses and the immense amount of mythology it has generated over historical ages. 

Book by Johannes Zahn from 1696 depicting miracles involving plants.

During the Middle Ages the Mandrake became popular throughout Europe as a magical plant and miracle talisman, capable of curing nearly anything. These roots were thought to be powerful allies who could perform magic for their masters - from attracting love and gaining wealth and good fortune, to warding off misfortunes and evil spells, even to becoming invincible in battle.

The Mandrake was also considered a potent aid to fertility. Historians have determined that the earliest mention of the mandrake refers to its use in Babylon, in the cuneiform tablets of the Assyrians and in the Old Testament as evidenced in chapter 30 of the Book of Genesis where the childless Rachael asks her sister Leah for the loan of the mandrakes which her son had brought in from the fields.It is widely believed that the Old Testament contains multiple references to the 'love apples' - the fruits of the mandrake as an aphrodisiac. The first of these instances is again in Genesis, where the scent of the mandrake’s yellow fruits are described as having aphrodisiac properties.

Some evidence exists that the mandrake was used in secret mystical rites in ancient Israel; one of the factors supporting this hypothesis is the significance of the mandrake in Kabbalism as a symbol for 'becoming One'....
Similarly, in ancient Egypt it appears that mandrake fruits may have been eaten as aphrodisiacs and ancient Greeks also used the mandrake as a sacred love plant.
Ancient Germanic people also often made use of the plant, in particular Germanic Seeresses, who were known for their clairvoyant abilities far outside of Europe, used mandrake regularly as an ally. The modern German name 'Alraune' can be traced back to the ancient Germanic term “Alrun”, which translates to 'all knowing' or 'he who knows the runes'...
Mandrake  roots have long been used in magic rituals then and still are used today in contemporary pagan traditions such as Wicca and Odinism.

According to Linnaeus, the great botanist of the 18th century, white and black mandrake are varieties of the same plant that have evolved for northern Europe (white) and southern Europe (black). White mandrake flowers June-July and black mandrake in the fall.  The leaves of white mandrake can be one foot long and grow in a rosette (like leaf lettuce) rather than from a central stalk, like most plants. The flowers are greenish white, bell-shaped blue or violet flowers grow, making this rosette uniquely identifiable to the mandrake.They turn into yellow berries that are similar in flavor to tomatoes, and its leaves smell much like fresh tobacco.The whole plant grows to about 4-10 in tall and the taproot fattens quickly. At all other times throughout the year the plant is hidden underground.

Although mandrake found its way into Britain around the 11th century, the herb did not grow naturally here and due to the high cost of the root, other roots such as ash root and the Briony have been used instead.Those in search of its medicinal effects turned to Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) a closely related herb with a similar pharmacological profile to mandrake but a more northerly distribution. Henbane was a potent ingredient in the various midnight brews and flying ointments beloved of witches. Those seeking to profit from the demand for mandrake charms would have found Henbane a disappointment, for it possessed only a small fibrous root. For this purpose they turned instead to the white Bryony (Bryonia dioica) a hedgerow plant of south-east England with a large multilobed taproot.

The following is taken from The History and Practice of Magic by Paul Christian. (pp. 402–403)1963:
Would you like to make a Mandragora, as powerful as the homunculus (little man in a bottle) so praised by Paracelsus? Then find a root of the plant called bryony. Take it out of the ground on a Monday (the day of the moon), a little time after the vernal equinox. Cut off the ends of the root and bury it at night in some country churchyard in a dead man's grave. For thirty days water it with cow's milk in which three bats have been drowned. When the thirty-first day arrives, take out the root in the middle of the night and dry it in an oven heated with branches of verbena; then wrap it up in a piece of a dead man's winding-sheet and carry it with you everywhere.
Mandragora 0fficinarum
The Mandrake plant is a member of the Nightshade family. Mandrake roots contains hyoscine a powerful alkaloid known to cause intense hallucinations, delirium and in larger doses, coma, when eaten. All parts of the plant are poisonous.
Mandrake's use as a surgical anaesthetic was first described by the Greek physician Dioscorides around AD 60, and its use as a tincture known as mandragora, or in combination with other herbs such as opium, hemlock and henbane is described in documents from pre-Roman times onwards. It was the presence of this alkaloid, as well as the shape of the root, that led to the mandrake's association with magic, witchcraft and the supernatural.

The Mandrake is an important 'Witches Herb' and constitutes one of the key ingredients of the fabled Flying Ointment or ‘witches’ brew’ of ancient European witchcraft, and was probably the most potent entheogenic ingredient of the blend. The demonization of mandrake begun once Germany became dominated by Christianity. In today's nature conscious Pagan and Wiccan resurgence, witches herbs and even Mandrake Ointment are more readily available once again.

Available from the Poisoners Apothecary here
Magickal Uses: 
Mandrake is placed on the mantle to bring prosperity, fertility and happiness to the home, a protector warding off of evil spirits or spells.
Among the old Anglo-Saxon herbals both Mandrake and Periwinkle are endowed with mysterious powers against demoniacal possession. Its human-like forked root was thought to be in the power of dark earth spirits. At the end of a description of the Mandrake in the Herbarium of Apuleius there is this prescription:
    'For witlessness, that is devil sickness or demoniacal possession, take from the body of this said wort mandrake by the weight of three pennies, administer to drink in warm water as he may find most convenient - soon he will be healed.'
Flavius Josephus says that the Mandragora, which he calls Baaras, has but one virtue, that of expelling demons from sick persons, as the demons cannot bear either its smell or its presence 
(Wars of the Jews, book vii, cap. vi.).
It is worn as a talisman or amulet to attract love and repel diseases. As a flying ointment and for its ability to engender shamanic trances.
Mandrake is also said to protect against demonic possession, possibly because it was used by ancient herbalists to sedate manics. To activate a dried root, one must display it prominently in the home for three days, after which it is soaked in water overnight. The water can then be sprinkled on entryways, windows, and people to purify them. The root is now ready for magickal use.

Medicinal Uses:
It has been said that the mandrake had perhaps the greatest number of uses of any medicinal plant of ancient times. It was the most heavily utilized narcotic / anesthetic and sleeping agent of ancient times and the Middle Ages.
Similar in composition to Belladonna and Datura, the roots were pressed for their juice, which was combined with wine and then reduced by boiling. This was taken as an anesthetic prior to surgery. The dosage was rather crucial, as too much would put the patient to sleep permanently.
Specifically, mandrake root was used for the following conditions: abscesses, arthritis, bone pains, callosities, cramps, discharge, erysipelas, eye disease and inflammation, gout, headaches, hemorrhoids, hip pains, hysteria, infertility, inflammation, labor complications, liver pains, loss of speech, melancholy, menstrual problems, pain, painful joints, possession, scrofula, skin inflammation, sleeplessness, snakebite, spleen pains, stomach ailments, swollen glands, tubercles, tumors, ulcers, uterine inflammation, worms, and wounds. It was also used as a treatment for anxiety and depression.

Parts Used: 
Roots, leaves, fruits.
Sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, parasympathetic depressant, hallucinogen, and hypnotic. Most hypnotics produce low alphoid and spindle alpha brain-wave activity, similar to that found in REM sleep, or the dreaming or trance state. This rhythm does not allow deep sleep to occur although it does lower brain patterns. Mandrake root causes delirium and hallucinations.. 

Traditional Preperation: 
Caution! Poisonous. Pregnant women should not use this herb. 
Do not use this herb without the proper guidance from a professional!

Burning and inhaling the smoke of the mandrake is the least effective method of experiencing its psychoactive properties. The leaves are picked before the end of the fruiting season, dried in the shade, and used in a smoking blend (either with tobacco or other herbs) or as incense. The root works as incense as well; the smoke is rather easy to inhale, although its smell is not entirely pleasant.
Fresh leaves may be chewed, and fresh mandrake fruits may be consumed. Consuming fresh mandrake fruits is incredibly safe; there have been no known overdoses even after consuming multiple fruits. The root is hardly ever eaten. It is mostly extracted either into water or alcohol; both methods seem to be equally effective (Ratsch 1998, 346-347).
Mandrake root has long been implemented in the making of beer and wine, either as an additive or the basis of the fermentation. When mandrake root is the main ingredient in the brewing process, cinnamon and saffron are sometimes added to improve its taste. Mandrake beer is quite potent, with dosages rarely exceeding one liter — drink with caution.
The ancient Greeks used fresh or dried mandrake in wine as an aphrodisiac. To make mandrake wine, add a handful of chopped mandrake root to a .75 liter bottle of wine and steep for one week. For maximum potency, it is best not to filter the root pieces out until the wine is gone, and the more sour the wine, the more effective the extraction. Two or three cinnamon sticks and a tablespoon of saffron can be added to improve the flavor.
Another popular recipe involves chopping up a large handful each of cinnamon sticks, rhubarb root, vanilla pods, and mandrake root, and steeping in a bottle of white wine for two weeks. The plant matter is then drained, and the beverage is colored with St. John’s wort or saffron and sweetened if desired, most effectively with a combination of royal jelly and honey. Spirits are also an effective choice for mixing with mandrake, though the only place in the world where this practice is still prevalent is Romania (Ratsch 1998, 348).

Such a powerful magical ally is of course not easy to come by.
Mandrake roots became highly sought after and attempts to protect them from theft are thought to have been the source of the second mandrake myth, which stated that a demon inhabited the root and would kill anyone who attempted to uproot it.
The Mandrake does not take very kindly to being dug up and has been reported to vanish before an irksome intruder could get to it, and famously gives an ear-piercing scream as it is pulled from the earth that would instantly kill anybody within earshot. In order to acquire the plant one must approach it on a Friday before sunrise. After plugging your ears very tightly with cotton, wax or pitch, set out with a black dog - who must not have spots of any other color on his body. Draw three magic circles around the mandrake plant and carefully dig a circle all around it so that only a few fibers of root remain in the earth. Then tie the plant around its base with string to the dog’s tail, show the dog a piece of meat and run away with it. The dog will chase you and thus quickly pull out the root. But the dog will ;likely  also drop dead when he hears the groaning screams emanating from the mandrake under extraction.
An old document declares,
"Therefore, they did tye some dogge or other living beast unto the roots thereof with a corde ... and in the mean tyme stopped there own ears for fear of the terrible shriek and cry of the mandrake. In which cry it doth not only dye itselfe but the feare thereof killeth the dogge...."
After the plant had been freed from the earth, it could be used for "beneficent" purposes, such as healing, inducing love, facilitating pregnancy, and providing soothing sleep or “malevolent” such as the “main-de-gloire”.
 Alternately, death (your own) or the need to use and kill a dog, could be avoided by a loud blast on a horn at the critical moment.

Once in possession of this precious root, your troubles are not over, as it is no easy task to satisfy a Mandrakes' extensive whims. First pick up and wash the plant until clean with red wine, wrap it in a white or red silk cloth and place it in a small chest. Henceforward and by way of maintenance, wash it every Friday again in red wine, give it a new white or red silk shirt every new moon and feed it specific kinds of food (its exact dietary requirements were and are still an endless source of debate). Even if all its demands are met it is possible that the mandrake might not perform its duties, in which case it would be best to get rid of it as swiftly as possible. However one cannot just give a failing plant away and if no buyer can be found for such an uncooperative Mandrake, the root would have to stay with its owner,  a distinct disadvantage because its power can in some cases turn against them, causing bad luck instead of good.

Mandrake by Sandra Arteaga.
However if you have unearthed a friendly and cooperative Mandrake, when you ask your Mandrake a question, it will respond and reveal concealed mysteries regarding your future welfare and prosperity. From that time forth you will have no enemies, you can never become poor and if you have no children your marriage will soon be blessed, if you are not married and wish to be - you soon shall. If you place a coin next to the mandrake at night, the next morning you will find twice as much. If you want to enjoy the services of your Mandrake plant for a very long time and make sure that it does not die, never overtax it.

Knitting plan used to create this friend here
Many thanks to my marvelous Mother In Law for crafting this magical Mandrake friend for me. 
The works of William Shakespeare contain many references to the mandrake and its myths and are remarkable both for the depth of knowledge they reveal and for their accuracy.
"...Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday."
Shakespeare: Othello III.iii
"Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan"
King Henry VI part II III.ii

'Around the Middle Ages an apparently new myth began to circulate that a mandrake would spring up from ground contaminated by human blood or semen such as at the foot of a gallows. Once again, Dr Turner, who had spent some years in Europe, was quick to condemn those responsible:
‘But it groweth not under gallosses as a certain dotyng doctor of Colon in hys physick lecture dyd tych hys auditores; nether doth it ryse of the sede of man that falleth from hym that is hanged; Neither is it called Mandragora because it came of man's sede, as ye forsayd doctor dremed’.
Playwrights, nonetheless, wasted little time in taking this new myth to their hearts and, in his corspe-strewn tragedy The White Devil John Webster (1578—c. 1630) (erroneously) unites the mistletoe and mandrake, good and evil, with the tree which, with its horizontal lower branches, had long made a convenient impromptu gallows:
‘But as we seldom find the mistletoe
Sacred to physic on the builder oak,
Without a mandrake by it, so in our quest of gain’    '

''Above all else never internally ingest any of these plants as they have an ability to be deadly.  If you do happen to have some fall into your hands always be sure to wash your hands and keep away from your eyes and mouth at all costs. Never proceed to create ointments or unguents without a firm knowledge of the plants you are working with as all have the potential to be deadly''.  Thank you Wild Witche for this sensible caution.

Bright Blessings By Stone & Star ~