Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Floki In the Temple

''Stop making sence they said, as the wild ones danced in the sky''.

On the mystery of Spiritual Awareness ~

I am a harmonious one,
A clear singer seeing,
I am the greeness of the growing earth,
blue depth of sky, a spirit with the freeing,
I am a wielder of the words that beget worlds,
A dancing that is advancing, a myth for the time being,
I am the unseen, a serpent of the air,
A dragon distributing keys to the temples of meaning,
I am the birds and the soul of the bees,
Ever sacred trees, paths to the stars and beyond all of these,
I am the speaker concealed in the heart
And I am to be found before riddle of minds start.

c.Celestial Elf 2014
Narrated in the voice of 'Floki'.

Life is complicated and we sometimes need a compass or guide to chart the many storms and challenges set before us.This poem is just such a spiritual compass or sunstone - it descibes the perspective of being in tune with the inner self of thought and memory, balanced with the outer self of nature and cosmos. it is a poetic device to orient oneself to the sacred, a very powerful blessing.

In the television series Vikings, Floki
Is a boat builder and incorrigible trickster, who also happens to be Ragnar Lothbrok's eccentric and closest friend. Committed to helping Ragnar sail west, he secretly designs and builds a new generation of Viking longboats for their voyage across the ocean westward.

He also does seem to embody many characteristics of his nearly namesake Loki.
While treated as a nominal member of the Aesir tribe of gods in the Eddas and Sagas, Loki occupies a highly ambivalent and ultimately solitary position amongst the gods, giants, and the other classes of invisible beings that populate the traditional spirituality of the Norse and other Germanic peoples.

Our Floki character appears to be based on  
Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson...

Flóki Vilgerðarson 
9thC Common Era, was the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland. His story is documented in the Landnámabók manuscript. He heard good news of a new land to the west, then known as Garðarshólmi. He wanted to settle in this new land and so he took his family and livestock with him.
From Western Norway he set sail to the Shetland Islands where it is said his daughter drowned. He continued his journey and landed in the Faroe Islands where another of his daughters was wed. There he took three ravens to help him find his way to Iceland, and thus, he was nicknamed Raven-Floki (Norse and Icelandic; Hrafna-Flóki) and he is commonly remembered by that name.

Three Ravens Print by Dona Reed

Loki and moral ambiguity;
Loki, famously ambivalent, is perhaps best known for his malevolent role in The Death of Baldur.
We may wonder why the Scandinavians had such an apparently wicked god in their mythology at all?
Loki features so prominently in the tales of Norse mythology because these tales explore the inner meanings of the physical realm that we still inhabit.  In earlier times the Northern peoples did not share the conceptions of  absolute moral 'good' or 'evil' that have been employed to various ends since the rise of christian dominated societies. Some values and actions were appropriate for some people and situations; others were inappropriate for those same people and situations but might be appropriate for other people and other situations.

This was not however the dangerous free-for-all of moral relativism that it sounds. In traditional Germanic society, a person who occupied a particular social role and was a devotee of that role’s corresponding god or goddess could rightly be held to the standard of conduct appropriate for that role and its divinity. Thus, while most Viking Age men were held to the standards of honor and manliness exemplified by such figures as Tyr, Thor, or Freyr, for example, not everyone was necessarily held to these standards.
Devotees of Odin, for example, followed a path of ecstatic and creative self-actualization that often seemed fickle, ruthless, irresponsible, and even shameful by the standards of, say, a man of Thor.

Wether they accept it or not, many people appear to share a mercurial and self interested mindset as exemplified by Loki. Loki features prominently in the tales of Norse mythology precisely because these tales explore the inner meanings of the physical realm that we still inhabit. Loki is an example of one of the countless, often opposing and contradictory principles and meanings of which life consists. Approaching life with such an informed and conscious perspective, that accepts both light and dark as parts of a unified whole, even (f)Loki's irreverence is a spiritual expression, sincere in its whimsical way and worthy of respect. Irreverance then may be the outward display of the Universe at play, dancing in abandon. Although adversity may be the flipside of advantage, and sorrow of joy, viewed in the round these apsects create a greater whole which needs all of its constituents to create meaning.

Grateful thanks to my source for this research;
Dan McCoy - Norse Mythology for Smart People./Loki

 Ásáheil og Vána!
May the Blessing of Aesir and Vanir
Ever Be With You!


Friday, 19 December 2014

The Thirteen days of Midwinter Solstice

Yule has its roots in the old-Nordic word 'iul' or the Anglo-Saxon 'hweol', both meaning 'wheel', which points to the ever turning year and natures cycle of life, death and rebirth.
The lunar calendar, which has a powerful influence over the growing things upon the Earth, leaves about 12 days left over each year, the thirteenth day signifies the start of the new cycle. So the twelve nights of Yule were considered neither part of the old year, nor part of the new year.  These days being outside of the year establish a liminal time when the veil between the worlds is thin, a time when the gods walk the earth and people may see the elves or other spirits that live around us.

Yule begins on Mother Night or 'Módraniht' (December 20th) and ends 12 days later on 'Yule Night' (1st January) also known as Twelfth Night. Most pre-Christian mystery cults celebrated the Mother Goddess and mothers everywhere as creatrixes of all life. On Mother night, the longest night of the year, we make a feast to honor the protective feminine ancestors that watch over us. Nature is now sleeping and the newborn Solstice Sun is the gift of the Mother Goddess to the world which then prepares for the bright and warmth of the coming spring, the next step in the great circle dance of life. At the culmination of this time we celebrate the beginning of the new year.

Fire festivals, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, held on the Winter's Solstice can be found throughout the ancient world. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was held on the winter solstice, boughs of evergreen trees and bushes would decorate the house, gifts where exchanged and normal business was suspended. The Persian Mithraists held December 25th as sacred to the birth of their Sun God, Mithras, and celebrated it as a victory of light over darkness. In Sweden, December 13th was sacred to the Goddess Lucina, Shining One, and was a celebration of the return of the light. On Yule itself, around the 21st, bonfires were lit to honour Odin and Thor.

This festive poem/song was written with inspiration drawn across diverse world traditions and mystery religions to portray a path to fullfilment. Adapting the lovely pealing qualites of ‘The 13 Days of Solstice’ by Pashta MaryMoon, with its lines culminating each verse in an accrued repetition of the gifts that have been given, I followed an old poetic tradition in rewriting this song. It is now both shorter - easier to manage, and contains a seed of inspirational meanings for those with enquiring minds to follow. I have mixed the nature reverencing and magical memes of ‘neo-pagan’ lore with the northern, sometimes Norse traditions of yore to create a hopeful outlook for all folk evermore.


The Thirteen Days of Midwinter Solstice

On the First Day of Solstice the Goddess sent to me
The Wiccan Rede known as 'Harm Ye None'...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
On Mother’s Night will become a Cherished One.

On the Second Day of Solstice the Goddess gave to me,
The God and Goddess Blessings....
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
On Winter Solstice will Be in Glad Joy Dressing.

On the Third Day of Solstice the Goddess revealed to me
The Eternal Three Fold Law...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
By their Courage they will be Worthy Evermore.

On the Fourth Day of Solstice the Goddess showed to me
The Four Directions called....
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
In Truth they shall be Ever Enthralled.

On the Fifth Day of Solstice the Goddess gifted me,
The Five Pointed Pentagram...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
Natures Honor shall they share as Spirit tall shall Stand.

On the Sixth Day of Solstice the Goddess gave to me
Six Rays Of Sunlight...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
In Understanding shall their Ever Shine Bright.

On the Seventh Day of Solstice the Goddess explained to me
Seven Secrets of the Septagram...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
Love be thine - the Elves ever will raise a Dram.

On the Eight Day of Solstice the Goddess showed to me,
The Eight Sacred Sabbats...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
With Delight will Dance the Seasons Holy Habits.

On the Ninth Day of Solstice the Goddess heaped on me,
Nine Noble Virtues....
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
By Industriousness will they Nurture the True.

On the Tenth Day of Solstice the Goddess saw in me
Ten Transformations...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
By Self-Reliance will they always Walk the Sacred Way.

On the Eleventh Day of Solstice the Goddess illumined me,
With the Eleven Runes of Power...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
In Perseverance across Time will they Always Flower.

On the Twelfth Day of Solstice the Goddess conveyed to me
Twelve Heavenly Signs..
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
On the Twelfth Night will Understand the Heart’s Designs.

On the Thirteenth Day of Solstice the Goddess granted me
Thirteen Full Moons Shinning...
Who hears my Carol and takes it away,
Radiant and Luminous in Laughter shall they be with wonder Entwining.

c. Titus.L 2014.
The References Explained;
‘The Thirteen Days’ in the title and verses, rather than the twelve days of the more widely known christian carol, are used because in the folk traditions I have drawn upon the thirteen lunar months hold sway over nature and her seasons, causing the comings and goings of the tides of life.
The Wiccan Rede of ‘Harm Ye None’ was written by Doreen Valiente in 1964 and includes the phrase ‘’Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust. Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.’’ It is this clear intention to the good which I evoke here.
‘Mothers Night’ is the first night of Yule, (& is also known as Modranecht) in which reverence is shown for the Female Deities, Ancestors, and for All Living Women, those who have protected and nurtured us all. 
‘The God and Goddess Blessings’ is a reference to the eternal principles of yin/yan dark/light male/female which when united create all things. These principles are found across most world religions and historical traditions.
‘The Three Fold Rule’ is a religious tenet held by some ‘Wiccans’ and ‘neo-pagans’ which states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times over. The suggestion here for those who wish to survive is that we put out only good energy that all might joyfully thrive.
‘The Four Directions Called’ refers to the fact that throughout history Native American, Peruvian, Mexican, Siberian, Celtic and Nordic people, to name but a few, have practiced honoring the four directions as part of their culture’s connection to well-being, nature and spiritual harmony. The Four Directions are also known as The Four Sacred Directions, and the Four Winds. These Four Sacred Directions of North, South, East and West correspond to the four natural elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air), and depending on the tradition, tend to vary in their correlation. This has been called by some Earth astrology. When life calls for a ceremony to honour and bless a birth, death, marriage, community gathering, prayer or meditation and the Four Directions are called upon, permission is being asked from the local spirits, the mountains and Mother Earth to perform a ceremony in their sacred space. 
‘The Five Pointed Pentagram’ was used in ancient Chinese and Japanese religions to symbolize the five elements of life. Christian-influenced academia in Europe during the Enlightenment re-discovered Pythagoras’ interest in the pentagram, which contains the Golden Ratio. Pythagoras’ study went beyond mathematics, though, as he assigned the five ancient elements to the five points of the star: earth, water, air, and fire on the four lower points; and Spirit on the topmost point and it is this meaning of the five elements which is employed here.
‘The Six rays of Sunlight’ sets itself as being before the esoteric and christian ‘Seven rays of Sunshine’ which are evidenced in the Roman Emperor Julian’s Hymn to the Solemn Sun, and to the Mother of the Gods in which he spoke of "unspeakable mysteries hidden from the crowd... concerning the god of the seven rays." Here our rays convey the life giving light of the Celestial Sun itself.
‘The Septagram’ or seven-pointed star, has accumulated many levels of meaning over the centuries. One of the oldest recorded meanings given to this star may be found within Kabbalistic tradition, where it represents the sphere of Venus and the power of love. It is also found within Christian tradition as a symbol of protection, the seven points representing the perfection of God and the seven days of creation. I offer it here as a symbol of Love.
‘The Eight Sacred Sabbats’ comprise the Old Traditions and early religion’s ‘Wheel of the Year’ - an annual cycle of seasonal festivals, observed now by many ‘neo-pagans’. It consists of eight festivals: the solstices and equinoxes of sun and moon, known as the "quarter days", and the four midpoints between, known as the "cross quarter days" by which farmers planned their annual activities and communities preapred for the times to follow.
‘The Nine Noble Virtues’ are a set of moral ethical guidelines originating in the Northern religious traditions of Odinism and Asatru and are based on the virtues found in historical Norse literature including the Poetic Edda. They are Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness and Perseverance. 
‘The Ten Transformations’ refers to the fact that the number Ten symbolizes the completion of a cycle. It is the number of Heaven and the World and Universal Creation. Number Ten was therfore the holiest of numbers according to the Pythagoreans. Here we look for Ten changes in our lives to take us to the path of well being in this life and the hereafter.
‘The Elven Runes of Power’ refers firstly to the Elves who are semi divine magical beings that may bless and assist us in this life. For me they symbolize a purer energy being. The Runes are the inscribed Norse language which may carry blessings across time and space. Power is simply self knowledge and how we may manage our lives to our fullest potential.
Of ‘The Twelve Heavenly Signs’, Twelve is a number of significance in terms of the zodiac its meaning. From Earth, the Sun appears to move across the ecliptic in one year. This circle of 360 degrees is divided into 12 equal sectors of 30 degrees each. Each of these segments is represented by one zodiac sign. The question of whether star signs present meaningful information will always be subject to debate. However, the designation and employment of the zodiac is a matter of astronomical, historical and cultural significance. I employ it here as a mytho-poetical metaphor for the meanings hidden in our hearts/reflected in our stars.
The ‘Thirteen Full Moons Shinning’ refers to the lunar calendar which is based on cycles of the Moon’s phases (synodic months) as opposed to solar calenders based on the solar year. In ancient times calendars served as a link between the Divine universe and humankind, they were often held as sacred tools or sources of information. These early calendars provided instructions for when to plant, hunt or migrate between cold and warm climates. In traditional folk rituals and planting of seeds, the moon has been thought to hold great influence and is evoked here as it completes the cycle of a day and also draws forth new life thus symbolising new beginings. 

Happy Yuletide All!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

On The Yule Tree and her Greenery;

The peoples mid winter celebrations of life with evergreen plants is an ancient tradition in which folk decorate their homes with winter greenery and berries.
As an evergreen of protection, Holly's spiky bristles repel unwanted spirits. Holly, sacred to Holle, the Germanic underworld goddess, symbolizes everlasting life, goodwill and potent life energy. Its red berries represent feminine blood. Together, mistletoe and holly represent the Sacred Marriage at this time of year with the mid winter Solstice, the re-birth of the Sun.

The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, is in terms of sunlight the shortest day in the year and the longest night (December 22/23). Religious ceremonies are held att this time in honour of the return of the Sun which at the Winter Solstice begins to regain its power and to ascend on the horizon. Bonfires are lit in the fields and crops and trees are 'wassailed' with carols sung to wish them good healthas they are toasted with cups of spiced cider. Apples and oranges which represent the sun, are laid in baskets of evergreen boughs, to be shared with friends and neighbours.

The ancient Celts believed that the first humans were descended from trees and as such trees were highly revered by them, particularly the mighty Oak tree.
Evergreens were also sacred to the Celts, because they did not 'die' they thereby represented the eternal aspect of the goddess. Their greenery was also symbolic of the hope for the suns return and with it the life abundant of all growing things. At Winter Solstice they therfore decorated their trees with images of the things they wished for the waxing year to bring them - fruits for a successful harvest, charms for love, nuts for fertility and coins for wealth...

At this time, the Earth spirits are at rest, preparing for the hard work ahead, of replenishing the Earth with new life in the coming spring and naturally, celebrations are held in honor of these worthy spirits.

In Scandinavia, Yule trees were first brought into homes, decorated with bells, candles and ribbons to attract these spirits, to provide shelter through the winter. Bread, fruit and nuts were hung from the branches to provide food for them in the trees.

The evergreen tree has also been long associated with gift giving as citizens of ancient Rome celebrated the 'Saturnalia', a week long December festival honoring the God Saturnus, by exchanging gifts attached to evergreen branches.

In an old Norse tradition, the evergreens were burned to encourage the return of the Sun. A direct descendant of this practice still carried out today is the burning of the Yule log. The ceremonial Yule log, ideally of Ash - from the Norse world tree Yggdrassil, is the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance with tradition the Yule log must either be harvested from the householder's land or given as a gift, but never be bought. Once dragged into the fireplace it is decorated with seasonal greenery, blessed with cider or ale and set ablaze by a piece of last years log which has been kept for just this purpose. The log will then burn through the night, smolder for 12 days and will be ceremonially extinguished. The Yule log's role is one of bringing prosperity and protection from evil, as a magical protective amulet - by keeping the remnant of the log all the year long the protection of warmth and light will remain throughout the year.

Putting the Solstice sun and sacred trees together we have the waxing and the waning of the sun ritualized therough the death and rebirth (resurrection) of the trees and their respective Kings of their seasons.

The hanging of robin and wren ornaments on the Yule tree commemorates these deeper meanings as the robin is the animal equivalent of the Oak King, the wren of the Holly King. Each Yule and Midsummer they play out the same battle as the two kings battle for the season.The robin - ie Oak King, symbolically kills the wren to signify the return of light - the end of the reign of the Holly King presiding over the darker part of the year. A contemporary reminder of this is the tradition of the wren boys, celebrated on 26 December (also St. Stephen's Day). The tradition consists of 'hunting' a fake wren and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Then the crowds of mummers or strawboys celebrate by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colourful motley clothing and, accompanied by traditional ceilidh bands, parade through the towns and villages.

Strong opposition to Christmas trees by Puritan settlers kept the Christmas tree tradition out of America until the nineteenth century, when German settlers bringing their own seasonal celebrations popularized the tradition.

Gradually the sacred tree and its traditions have been absorbed, its meanings minimalized by the pervasive christian and ensuing materialistic culture. But our collective unconscious naturally returns to the deeper significance of the evergreen tree and its promise of life renewed as we decorate our Yule Trees.

In practicing this ritual of dressing the Yule Tree/Christmas Tree, we are celebrating the turning of the great wheel of the year, the return of the sun at midwinters solstice time, our thanks for the forces of nature that bless us and our joy at the life it brings to us all.