Lammas – An Experience of Absence

Tags

, , , , , ,

Lammas-tide is upon us, harvest begins both on the land and on a personal level, that which we have sown is now reaped. ‘The Greenwood’ harvest is yet to come, where fruit is plucked from branch and bough but the tree which bore the fruit remains still standing. In contrast ‘The Grain-field’ harvest lays bare the land; the crop now cut, what once was there is absent.

Before the ‘Mabon wake’, with it’s two fold aspect of celebration and mourning, even before the drying, grinding and processing of the crop……. There occurs a somewhat neglected aspect of Lammas to which we now turn our attention……. ‘the experience of absence’.

As we gaze across the stubble fields there is an effect upon our consciousness, we are moved by this space on the land, that which the earth held has been surrendered. Where once the corn king ruled majestically, now his throne sits empty. Beyond the cognitive-visual experience, the vibrational energies of the land itself are very different to when the field was full of ripening grain. The lingering vitality is yet to dissipate and sink beneath the earth.

Within the field of our psyche, an absence, a lacuna, is created whenever we realise a plan or achieve a goal. When potential is fulfilled a hiatus occurs, the target to which we have directed our energies no longer exists, we encounter a sense of ‘what now?’ This phenomena may be experienced when we have finished a good book, completed a video game, watched a gripping film, come to the end of a relationship or concluded a course of meditative/ritual work. Transpersonally this space or absence is a necessity, it allows our psyche to sort the grain from the chaff, to integrate the gifts & lessons from our harvest. Before plans are made and new seeds sown, a rest is essential, whether our personal harvest has been bountiful or sparse, successful or not.

How has your harvest begun?……… Where do you identify absence in your life?……… How do you create space in which to repose and reflect?………

Harvest Blessings to all

Blessed Be…….SRTB

 

 

Advertisements

Solstice Salutation

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Summer SolsticeOn this the longest day, we honour the power and majesty of the Solar God, he who is Helios, Sol Invictus, the Eye of Heaven. Gathered around our blazing bonfires, as above so below, we celebrate a glorious crowning. The Sun King, looking down upon sea and sand, greenwood and grain, commences his ‘reign of fire’.

Hail unto Thee who art Ra in thy rising,
Even unto Thee who art Ra in thy strength,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Uprising of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of the Night!

Hail unto Thee who art Hathor in Thy triumphing,
Even unto Thee who art Hathor in Thy beauty,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Mid-course of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow,
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of Morning!

Hail unto Thee, who art Tum in Thy setting,
Even unto Thee who art Tum in Thy joy,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Down-going of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of Day!

Hail unto Thee Who art Khephra in thy hiding,
Even unto Thee who art Khephra in Thy silence,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Midnight Hour of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in his Splendour at the prow
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of Evening.

– Israel Regardie: The Four Adorations.

We wish all our visitors, followers and friends a happy, rewarding and inspiring Solstice. May the blessings of the Summer-tide be with you.

SRTB.

Hieros Gamos ~ A Sacred Wedding

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

TwinSpiral

Double Helix: Mark Henson 1982

BELTANE

Build the bonfire,
raise the pole.
The Great Stone Wheel
once again rolls.

Red and white become entwined
as round the the pole
the children wind.

Sympathetic fertility
to Nature it lends,
as down the pole
the wreath descends.

Flower garlands
wore on the head,
or given to woo
and to wed.

Silver and gold
to fast the hands.
And shades of green
across the land.

Becoming one
by cup and blade,
the Lord and Lady
in the Glade.

-Devyn Barat     http://www.magickalpoet.com/

Beltane Blessings to all our followers.

Blessed Be

SRTB

Eclipse, Equinox & Supermoon

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Hare MoonThe Hare, with it’s association to Moon and Goddess, has always been for us a totemic animal of great power and significance in our magickal work. At the Spring Equinox, the Hare beautifully symbolises fertility, transformation, conception, and new life.

We at SRTB are still engaged in a project we commenced at Imbolc, a transpersonal journey to the triune aspects of Brigid; the poet, smith and healer. We will be furnishing details of our meditations, pathworkings, and realisations in a subsequent post. For those who were inspired to come along with us in our work, or who explored the poet, smith & healer aspects in their own way, we would appreciate hearing about the methods of exploration & the insights obtained, and would be delighted if you should choose tell us about these in the comments section of our next post.

For now, like many in the pagan/magickal community, we are looking forward to what has been termed ‘Celestial Friday’, a trifecta of Solar Eclipse, Spring Equinox (Autumnal for our brothers and sisters in the southern hemisphere) and a ‘Supermoon’, on this occasion a new moon in Pisces.
Much esoteric symbolism is present here; The eclipse with the creeping obscuration of the sun, before the revelation and restoration of Sol Invictus. This event in itself is a microcosmic drama, paralleling the macrocosmic story of light and dark through the seasons, and which results in the conflict of the Equinox. At this time we see that moment of balance between the light and dark, before the scales tip in favour of the victorious light. The new moon is always a time of ‘beginnings’, will the strength of our magickal intentions be amplified by our experience of a Supermoon?

Working with our ‘Wheel of the Year’, we honour Ostara/Eostre, celebrate the conception of the God, and turn our thoughts to the rapid growth of life in the world around us.

Let us take this opportunity to wish our friends, followers and readers a happy and rewarding Spring Equinox, may you all enjoy the blessings of Ostara.

SRTB.

Poet, Smith, Healer

Tags

, , , , , , ,

plaque-triple-brigid-dd-158bplw

At Imbolc the Goddess Brigid or Bride, awakens the land from its winter slumber, heralding the first stirrings of Spring. We welcome the goddess as maiden, yet always there co-exists other elements of Brigid’s being. Namely the midwife, mother of the hearth, seer and warrior/protector of the tribe.

This year we focus upon ‘Brigid of the triple gifts’. The Goddess as Poet, Smith & Healer. Our work is to identify, develop, and apply these triune qualities to our lives, employing various magickal tools & techniques to undertake this transformative/psycho-spiritual work.
Initial seed thoughts that you may find interesting and which we will be exploring include:

Poet – The expression of thought, emotions/feelings & actions, in the form of prose, poem & song. Words/sound hold power. “In the beginning was the word”. Words affect us, they can lift us or cast us down. How mindful are we of the words we choose?

Smith – Transformation/trial by fire & water, strengthens & shapes. Malleable material versus brittle – too much too soon. How will our manifest ‘inner Smith’ utilise our magickal tools as hammer, tongs and anvil?

Healer – What ails us? How do we act as healer? Permission to heal. What do we destroy/transform in order for healing to take place?

More details of the identification/development process, i.e. tools/methods used, realisations & insights, and proposed areas of application; will appear in a subsequent post.
Those readers/followers interested in exploring the triune qualities of Poet, Smith, Healer residing within their own psyche, are welcome to join us in this magickal work and share observations & experiences at a later date.

Wishing you all an inspirational Imbolc/Candlemas

Blessed Be SRTB

 

 

 

Midwinter Promise

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Winter Promise V.2

Midwinter Promise. Liz Ellis
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/midwinter-promise-liz-ellis.html

Ancient peoples may have feared the end of the world as the darkness threatened to overwhelm them, whilst parlour games & baubles dominated Victorian Midwinter celebrations. Today we are more likely to send an e-card, and be jostled for bargains in an increasingly consumerist world.
Although our individual understanding of Midwinter differs, our shared experience of this time of year, spans the ages.

The promise of Midwinter is the return of light in the darkness, the rebirth of the Sun, the birth of the ‘Divine Child’.

To mark our ‘Midwinter Passage’, we offer you this Pathworking, which we rediscovered just a few days ago in a very old copy of Quest Magazine (Dec 1987). We first took this path 27 years ago, and have worked it on more than one Yuletide since. This working does not have to be carried out on the Solstice itself, but can be performed at any time during the festive period.

For those who may be interested in our last Midwinter offering it can be found here……https://sangrougeterreblanc.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/the-gift-giver-father-winter/

Solstice is at 23:03 GMT or grudgingly UTC. In the UK on Sun 21st. We will be extinguishing all lights and candles at 23:02, spending a minute in reflection then re-lighting at just past the solstice. You are all warmly invited to participate along with us. Not forgetting those followers in the Southern Hemisphere who will celebrating Mid-Summer Solstice, who may wish to refer to our past Mid-Summer posts, which can be found in our archive.

However you are marking Midwinter this year we wish you blessings of the season.

*For those of you have expressed an interest in our SRTB Preliminary Magickal Course, we unfortunately have to inform you that due to family bereavement, the publication of the course and the launch of an accompanying website, have been temporarily delayed. However, we intend to resume this project in 2015. Thank you for your patience.*

Blessed Be SRTB

A Yuletide Journey. By Dame Dingly Dell. (Quest Magazine Dec 1987)

Reproduced exactly as published.

Sit comfortably and breathe slowly & regularly. Soon become aware that you are walking toward the door to the inner depths of your mind. You are going to seek the meaning of the Winter Solstice. For this journey you are warmly dressed in Green & Red, and you wear soft leather boots which will grip the snow, and keep your feet warm & dry.

There is your door and beside it hangs a long red hooded cloak, this is your own and you put it on. You have the key….you have it always with you. Open the door and step through, closing it behind you. Study the back, for this is the door through which you must return when your journey is done. Is it the same on both sides?

When you are ready, turn and find yourself in a beautiful corridor. Beautiful because of the great craft with which the walls and ceilings have been made from the living rock. The floors are smooth and the walls are painted in Gold & Silver, Red & Green. The dark blue ceiling shines with light which appears to come from stars, but whether set into the ceiling or actually there, you are too bemused to tell. The air is warm & there is a scent of cherry wood fires coming to meet you…… and is it possible…… the smell of mince pies and hot punch? The sound of music and laughter is before you and you step out of the passage into a magnificent room. A great staircase winds up and standing in the curve is a Christmas tree, decorated with Silver and Gold and Scarlet. Filled with happy people and the children laughing with joy, secure in love & beauty about them.

They are not all alike these people, they are of all races and colours, their dress is of the ages. A set of people are dancing ‘Sir Roger De Coverly’ at one end of the room. A table, long with a white cloth, is covered with all the delicacies of Christmas. There is a steaming punch bowl, and everyone smiles and greets you with a Merry Christmas.

Chandeliers, lit and sparkling, pick up the lights on the great tree in the curve of the staircase, decorated with Gold Silver & Scarlet. You have arrived at the hall of merriment, where the best parties in the world take place. You are given a glass of punch and a pie, but you do not remove your cloak, your journey has not yet ended. At the far end of the room is a small archway and you make for this, calling out greetings as you pass. As you go through the archway, the sound and the light dies away. Your footsteps crunch on crisp frozen snow and the light of the new half moon shows you a coldly Silver countryside. There is a path leading to woods in the distance and you follow this.

You are glad of the warmth from your boots and cloak, and your middle is still warm from the punch. Your feet seem to leave the path and you are traveling at speed backwards through time. You see the feast of Yule as the Angles & Saxons saw it. You see the Romans and their Saturnalia, and then your flight slows. You see a small stable in which a child has just been born, you recognise the child of the age to come, and ask & receive a blessing. As you rise you begin to travel back, you see Mithras, the returning Sun born of a virgin. Now you notice the earth covered with more trees than before and you come to a stop in a wood of Oak, Holly, Ash & Thorn. You follow a track and find that the animals of the wild wood are with you. Foxes, rabbits, stoats are with you. The wren, robin and owl fly before you, and the snow begins to fall. It is bitterly cold and you are glad of the warm cloak and boots. You push on and find yourself in a clearing beneath a flat hill. All about are small round huts, with conical shaped roofs. The leather doors of the huts are closed tight against the snow and you know you are in another time. For some reason you climb the banks to the summit of the flat hill and find a flat lawn, and at irregular intervals wooden posts have been set. They have strange markings and there is a rough stone implement on the top of one of them.

You are puzzled and walk round, wondering what manner of place this is. You become aware of a great presence close by and hardly daring to look up, hear a deep voice. “Welcome my children, your journey has led you far, what seek you?” Looking up at last, you see a robed figure crowned with magnificent antlers. There is no need to be afraid, you are a true servant of the Lord & Lady, and here is the Lord Herne, as he always promised. You answer, “Lord, I seek to know the meaning of the Midwinter festival”. Herne looks at you for some time, “During your journey through time you have seen many things, why should you seek to know more?” “Lord, it is a festival, the meaning of which is lost in our time”. “So, he pauses….wait and see”. The snow stops and dawn is near. A man and a woman dressed in furs come out of a hut, and climb the bank. They do not speak but go to a place behind one of the tallest posts and wait. You notice that they face South East and that two posts are to the left of the one they have chosen. More men and women have crept out of the huts, each warmly clad, all looking anxiously at the two on the bank. They wait silently. The sky in the East gets brighter and you watch in wonder, as the Sun rises between the two smaller posts. The Man & Woman raise their arms and give a great shout, this is echoed by the others who begin to rejoice. Children pour out of the huts and soon you are watching a happy impromptu festival. People dive back into the huts and come out with bundles, which they shyly offer to each other. The children are given little toys made from wood and leather, and fitted with new boots and leggings.

A feast is prepared with much joy & laughter. “Do you understand?” asks Herne. “I think so. The year has turned and the days will become longer, so that they know Spring will come”. “Even so,” replies the Lord Herne, “as you say in your own Midwinter rites, although the worst of the weather is yet to come, the days will never be so short again, and they do celebrate and give presents like you. Now come”. He gathers us up and soon we are travelling fast, back passed Saturnalia, past the the birth of the child of the East, the Celts, Angles, Saxons and Yule, past every Christmas that ever was, until we are back in the bright hall. We pass silently through, some of these people do not know the secret, then walk the corridor glad of the warmth. There is our door, and we go through locking it behind us. Take off your cloak and boots, no need for them now. Go to your chair & sit…………. wake up………..                                                                  Merry Christmas !!

 

Samhain

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

SG101335

October 31st, Eve of All Souls, Samhain, Halloween, Celtic New Year.

We feast on the flesh of third harvest, mourn the collected souls, honour ancestors, commune with our beloved dead.

The veil thinned, Dumb Suppers wait invitingly, totemic Jack O’ Lanterns provide a beacon for those to be let in but also guard against those to be kept out.

The God, after his plunging descent through the earth, sits crowned upon his underworld throne as Dread Lord of Shadows. He is the Grim Reaper, the leader of The Wild Hunt. He is the prank playing, Lord of Mischief. Trick or Treat?

The Goddess, transformed to crone, the Old One. She is Queen of the Underworld, the Dark Earth Mother of Winter, the Wise Old Woman with her dual aspects of midwife and layer-out. As Holda of The Wild Hunt it is she who collects the souls of children, safely ushering them to the otherworld.

A night for recalling the past and divining the future.

We would like to share this poem with you, within its layers, lies an abundance of seasonal treasure.

Hallowe’en in a Suburb
H. P. Lovecraft. 1st pub: 1926

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind blows through the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral power
Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne,
And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw
To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penned,
For the hounds of Time to rend.

Wishing you a meaningful Samhain
Blessed Be SRTB

 

Equinox: Balancing the light & dark

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Mabon Altar

Autumn Equinox is upon us, day & night are equal, we are at the tipping point. The landscape turns from green to brown as fields are ploughed, and leaves take on diverse & splendid hues. The grain crops now safely stored away, whilst in the orchards, fruit is gathered.
The festival of Mabon is celebrated, we give thanks for what we have received from our summer labours. It is a time for celebration, but also for mourning the passing of the God, both in his solar aspect & his earthly guises of Green Man, Oak King & John Barleycorn.
It is the time of 2nd harvest, the 3rd harvest of flesh & souls is yet to come at Samhain.

We would like to share with you a pathworking, that we have written, and will be working at the Autumn Equinox. For those who took our Spring path, you may find a sense of familiarity within the landscape. Please feel free to join us, as we journey into Fall.
Our followers in the Southern Hemisphere may choose to take our Spring path.
    https://sangrougeterreblanc.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/spring-equinox-pathworking/

AUTUMN EQUINOX PATHWORKING

Find your own way into sacred space. (You may wish to cast a circle, light a candle, burn some appropriate incense). Close your eyes, relax and begin rhythmic breathing.

Finding yourself walking on a path, you come to a gate, take careful note of its appearance, colour, symbols etc. When you are ready, open it and pass through. You find yourself in a meadow, the summer flowers which flourished here are now replaced with an abundance of wild fungi. The air is warm & moist and the late afternoon sunlight is pleasant against your skin. You notice in the fields adjoining the meadow, that the barns & farm buildings hold rows of neatly stacked Hay-bales. In a nearby orchard there are pickers gathering in the ripened fruit from the heavily laden boughs. What scents & sounds are in the air?………………..Reflect for a moment to acknowledge & give thanks for what we have received during the Summer-tide; that which has nourished us & will continue to do so during the lean times to come.

The meadow is surrounded by hedgerows, a small wood lies ahead. A lone, hunting barn owl catches your attention as it glides toward you. Circling above your head it comes to rest on a nearby hedge, rotating its head to look directly at you, a sense of contact is initiated. Feeling sure that this is a guide, but with some trepidation, you silently agree to follow in its wake. The Owl flies off toward the wood, keeping a short distance ahead. Experiencing a vague sense of unease and uncertain of whether to continue, you pause. (You may at this point choose to go no further and return across the meadow. Pass through the gate & return to your everyday awareness). Alternatively you accept the invitation to follow on into the wood.

On entering the wood you notice the odd leaf fluttering to the ground, although some leaves remain green, others with hues of amber, citrine, & olive are present. The Owl flying overhead leads you along a winding path, further into the heart of the wood. What do you see, hear & smell?……………
Approaching the heartland you find yourself at the entrance to a clearing, looking upward for your guide, the Owl is nowhere to be seen. Stepping into the clearing you immediately see a large throne upon which is seated a hunched figure…………..

Moving closer you see that his face is wrinkled, weathered & shows his great age, his eyes are drooping and tired. His gnarled hands give the appearance of twisted branches. Upon his bowed head a crown of Oak leaves dry and withered, his once proud shoulders now slouched. His head lays slumped almost upon his chest, which by its almost imperceptible rise & fall indicates he is living. You hear his laboured breathing, he manages to slightly lift his eyes holding yours for a moment. There is a strong impression that he is trying to convey a message, but you are unsure as to what the message is. The Owl alights, perching upon the back rest of the throne. Before you can enquire as to the message, the figure takes a shuddering, rattling breath, his eyes close and finally he is still. Before your eyes the figure starts to disintegrate & decompose, until all that remains is his crown of Oak leaves upon the throne. You are struck by the realisation that you have witnessed the death of the ‘Oak King’.

Pause for a moment to reflect upon his passing……..

The Owl plucks an Acorn from the crown, its defiant posture challenges you to approach and take it………..Do you risk beak & claw for this gift?……………
Reaching out you take the acorn from the beak & put it in your pocket.
The dying king’s unspoken message resides within this gift.

A chill breeze whips up, dusk is falling and it is time for you to leave this place. The Owl remains upon the throne and screeches a farewell. Feeling confident you begin the return journey alone. There are many more leaves falling from the trees, forming a crisp carpet, their colours now touched with crimson, the colour of the dying Sun.

Arriving at the outer wood you notice underfoot is now damp and that the bed of leaves is soggy and mulching beneath your feet. Emerging from the wood, you see a lone figure veiled and dressed in black, standing a little way off. A powerful wave of grief & loss emanates from her and envelopes you. You recognise her as the ‘Mourning Mother’, and standing in silent communication you share in her bereavement…………….
You raise a hand in salute & turn toward the gate.

Heading back across the meadow it is now dark, there is a clear starry sky and the air is damp & chill. Pass through the gate, closing it firmly behind you, and return to your everyday awareness.

ADDITIONAL WORK
The mid point between Equinox & Samhain, as the God descends into the underworld, is a opportune time to work with the Oak King’s gift.

Visualise your acorn in as much detail as possible & meditate upon this image to reveal the message/promise held within.
A period of meditation on at least 3 consecutive days is recommended. This allows you to bore down fully into the kernel of the subject, thus revealing its fullest meaning.
At Samhain we enter the dark half of the year (Gaimos), traditionally this is the time for reflective practice.
For those in the Southern Hemisphere who are entering the light half of the year (Samos), you can use our ‘Egg Meditation’ following our ‘Spring Pathworking’.
https://sangrougeterreblanc.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/easter-egg/

Wishing all our followers a very fruitful Autumn Equinox.
Blessed Be
SRTB

 

Lammas Lament: from land to shore & back again

Tags

, , , , , , ,

The wheel turns onwards from Solstice until we reach Lammas, with its traditional themes of first harvest (grain) & sacrifice. At this time we also cast our attention to the somewhat neglected theme of the ‘Sea Harvest’.
An appropriate time to contemplate the produce of the sea is St James’ Day, the 25th July. Recalling St James’ Day 2013, as one of us is privileged to live on an estuary famous for its Oysters and seafood, we embarked upon a Pilgrimage to a nearby Island to celebrate the bounty of the ocean, acknowledge the labours of our fishermen and to partake of a seafood communion.

IMG_5657

 

St. James the apostle, along with his brother John & father Zebedee were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, tradition has it that his bones came to rest in ‘Santiago de Compostella’ in northwestern Spain. During the medieval period the shrine of St James became an important centre of pilgrimage, a practice which continues today. The scallop shell has long been associated with St James & the pilgrimage itself, the grooves in the shell all converge at one point as do the pilgrims, who begin their journey either carrying or wearing the shell as an emblem. Historically the practical value would be that the shell would have served as a drinking vessel & plate.
Locally in the British Isles feasts would take place to honour St James, and the ritual construction of shell Grottos was undertaken by those who could not spare the time or afford to take the ‘Road to Compostella’. This tradition was widespread until the 1960’s & not confined to coastal areas, this being illustrated by the following rhyme recited by children in the 1930’s –
“Please remember the grotto; it’s only once a year, please give me a ha’penny to spend at Mitcham fair, father’s gone to sea; mother’s gone to fetch him back, so please remember me”.

Our honouring of the sea harvest concluded with a sea offering ritual, to give thanks & gratitude. A local peninsula, surrounding us with water on 3 sides provided the perfect setting to call forth the Sea Priestess by reciting a passage from ‘Dion Fortune’, offering a libation of ale & bread, tossing in some grain heads from our 2012 Lammas ritual.
We on the land enjoyed the harvest of the sea, so in return to the Sea Priestess we offered the harvest of the land. An unplanned event, one provided by nature herself, brought an apt conclusion to our ‘Sea Harvest’ celebrations. Walking back the tide was coming in and approaching us from both sides, each stream following its own course – ‘The meeting of the waters’. Waiting & watching, the two streams converged and became a tidal basin submerging and enveloping the sandy peninsula, a meeting of land and sea.
As we moved to higher ground our thoughts & contemplations turned to matters on the land.

At Lammas (Lughnasadh) the Goddess manifests her aspects of Earth Mother, Grain Mother & Harvest Queen.
It is through the sacrifice of the god (her son/consort) the survival of her other children is ensured. With Joy and Sorrow the Goddess makes the first cut, as we harvest it is with her hand that we cut. The God nourished by her, must now be relinquished by her to fulfil his destiny as John Barleycorn, Spirit of the Field, Corn King, Jack o’ the Grain. ‘He who is cut down, so that we may live’. Barleycorn suffers a brutal death, note the similarities to the ‘Stations of the Cross’ but Queen must sacrifice King for the good of all people.
Loaf-Mass, where men cut the sheaf with phallic blades, the prepared grain taken into the house & women perform the alchymical ritual of preparing the ‘First Loaf’. Here we see the elements of masculine seed into feminine womb/tomb (House), the wonder of transformation, culminating in the sharing of bread, the ‘Harvest Communion’.

SG100937

The wheel will turn & the cycle re-occur, it must be remembered that the crop of one year is not same as the next; spirit passes from harvest to harvest, each time clothed in new flesh.
We at SRTB see this as reincarnation rather than resurrection, the spirit remains in the last sheaf, the corn dolly and in the seed yet to be sown.

The Ballad Of John Barleycorn

There was three men come out of the West
Their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow

John Barleycorn must die.
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in
Throwing clods all on his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was Dead.

They’ve left him in the ground for a very long time
Till the rains from heaven did fall
Then little Sir John’s sprung up his head
And so amazed them all
They’ve left him in the ground till the Midsummer
Till he’s grown both pale and wan
Then little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard
And so become a man.

They hire’d men with their scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee.
They’ve bound him and tied him around the waist
Serving him most barb’rously.
They hire’d men with their sharp pitch-forks
To prick him to the heart
But the drover he served him worse than that
For he’s bound him to the cart.

They’ve rolled him around and around the field
Till they came unto a barn
And there they made a solemn mow
Of Little Sir John Barleycorn
They’ve hire’d men with their crab-tree sticks
To strip him skin from bone
But the miller, he served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.

Here’s Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
And brandy in the glass
But Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl’s
Proved the stronger man at last
For the hunts man he can’t hunt the fox
Nor so loudly blow his horn
And the tinker, he can’t mend kettles or pots
Without a little of Sir John Barleycorn.
(Traditional)

 

The sacrifice of John Barleycorn may be the survival of a neolithic pagan rite or a 15th century creation, however its themes have been part of the human psyche throughout the ages.
In Robert Burns’ version masonic symbolism comes to the fore, Burns became a Freemason in 1781 & penned the poem is 1782. Parallels have been drawn with the ‘Legend of Hiram Abiff ‘ – An intriguing aspect of this masonic initiation rite is that of the grips (handshakes) delivered to the corpse of Hiram. For those interested and despite being a christian critique, the linked article contains pearls of wisdom for those with ears to hear & eyes to see.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/works/john_barleycorn_a_ballad/
http://www.christian-restoration.com/fmasonry/hiram.htm

Another treatment of this motif is the Aleister Crowley play, ‘The Ship’ circa early 1900’s
http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib800ship.html

So as we begin to gather in our crops, both mundane and metaphysical we hope that our followers, readers and visitors enjoy a bountiful harvest on all levels.

Blessed Be
SRTB

 

 

Salute the Solstice

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Sol Invictus

 

We at SRTB have been out & about celebrating and seeking inspiration, whilst enjoying the Summer; exploring & contemplating the layers of meaning in the common imagery, myth-narrative & folklore that we interact with at this time.

BELTAINE to SOLSTICE

This is the Greenwood period, the maturing of the green. The Lord & Lady have made their vows, this wedding although a union is also an initiation/transition from Bride & Groom to Queen & King of their summer domain.
Casting our minds back to last year, where in the UK it was mostly cool, wet & dull, our expectations of early summer were not reflected by the weather. However the activity of beasts & birds fully expressed the natural cycle. The rhythms of nature were evident in the mating calls of the animal kingdom, nest building & pelt shedding. Though the wheel of the year may not be picture perfect, when we are out & about in nature we become attuned to the underlying energies.

In the Land/Solar cycle a shift from ‘Green to Red’ occurs, a transference of kingship from ‘Green Man’ to ‘Red Man’, & ‘Flower Maiden’ to ‘Queen of the Beasts’.
During this time of light nights our twilight comtemplation walks feed our psyche, giving rise to magical encounters and providing inspiration for our forthcoming Solstice work.
Rather like Mole in ‘Wind in the Willows’ we have experienced intense moments of awe on our travels, & we delight in sharing with you the following passage:

Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror— indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy— but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look for his friend. and saw him at his side cowed, stricken, and trembling violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew.

‘Perhaps he would never have dared to raise his eyes, but that, though the piping was now hushed, the call and the summons seemed still dominant and imperious. He might not refuse, were Death himself waiting to strike him instantly, once he had looked with mortal eye on things rightly kept hidden. Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fulness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

‘Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’

‘Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet— and yet— O, Mole, I am afraid!’

Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.

Sudden and magnificent, the sun’s broad golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing them; and the first rays, shooting across the level water-meadows, took the animals full in the eyes and dazzled them. When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn’
(Kenneth Grahame, 1859-1932: ‘Wind in the Willows’ first pub. 1908)

panwillow

LITHA
Summer Solstice 21st-23rd June is the time of zenith, the crowning of ‘Sol Invictus’: From Northern Europe to the Mediterranean coast, ‘Midsummer’ is one of the most important festivals of the year, a major focal point for celebration & feasting. In Sweden fish & fruit feature heavily on the menu, whilst in Spain pilchards & potatoes boiled in their skin are the traditional Midsummer fare. Across Scandinavia parties with huge bonfires are held. In Sweden Midsommerafton (Midsummers eve) & Middsommardagen (Midsummers day) are celebrated during the period 19th-26th of June. In Norway & Denmark it is known as ‘Sankt Hans Aften’, Danes gather for a picnic after which a bonfire with the effigy of a witch is set alight, a rocket like firework is concealed in the witch’s clothing, which upon ignition represents the witch’s return to Bloksbjerg; a mountain in the Black Forest which is the home of the devil. In Finland bonfires are lit at midnight on Midsummer Eve, whereas in Spain this festival largely honours ‘San Juan’ (St John the Baptist). Parties are often organised at beaches with bonfires and firework displays. These fires are again usually lit at midnight, a dummy being placed at the top representing a witch or the devil, which is burnt to cries of ‘Meigas Fora’ which translates as ‘Witches Off’. Closer to home in the UK the festival of the Bale Fire still takes place on old Midsummer Eve (4th July), in Wharlton, Northumberland. An emerging theme is the growing partnership of opposing elements, namely Fire & Water.

Solstice is one of the ‘Three Classic Spirit Nights’, we see these not in terms of one night but as a tide or period where the layers of of experience/reality shift and EHE (Exceptional Human Experiences) are more likely to occur. These exceptional experiences are often linked to geographical location, time, and state of consciousness. Personally during this period we find a Fey contact prominent, whereas in the darker half of the year we find an ancestral/land of the dead contact to be more in evidence.

Midsummer/St. John’s Eve is on the 23rd June, with St John’s/Midsummers Day on the 24th. It is interesting to once again juxtapose Midsummer with Midwinter, as John the Baptist is the only saint to have his birthday commemorated, this is a direct reflection of Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. In Masonic tradition St John’s Day is celebrated as the ‘Setting of the Watch’ and from a masonic perspective we see the balanced dualism of Baptist & Evangelist, the Saint’s day of the latter falling on the 27th December. Together ‘The Two Johns’ represent the balance of passionate zeal with the learned knowledge of faith. We interpret this as the twin pillars of study/knowledge & practice/experience; between which we seek to walk the middle way, in essence we become the middle pillar. A famous quote from Marx says “Practice without theory is blind, theory without practice is sterile”. Together they represent and form a balanced path towards enlightenment & union.
There are many customs associated with St John’s Eve and the period in which it falls. Herbs are gathered around this time for ritual & medicinal use, customs & superstitions surround both the gathering & usage of these plants, i.e. time of harvesting (early in the morning with the dew still upon them), phase of the moon (depending on the results you desire), etc. Uses include altering consciousness by ingestion or by sleeping with them under a pillow to enhance divinatory dreams, drinks brewed to be used during the rest of the year as fortifying tonics or for ritual/celebratory purpose.

Sitting around our summer fires, the importance of being outside making magick on the land is rekindled within us. Whilst at Midwinter we seek the comfort of hearth, bring in the green and decorate with tinsel & fairy lights; here where nature’s abundant decoration is all around us, we have no need of such sympathetic magicks. In terms of community, where our Samos communion sees family gathered around the table for the Midwinter feast, our Gaimos communion finds expression in summer picnics. Historically the food consumed at these festivals is locally produced and in season, a practice that many of us are keen to continue in our celebrations today. So if your hometown is famous for its Oysters then the first dredging of the season will figure in your Harvest ritual.

LOOKING BEYOND SOLSTICE
As we look forward to July with its hot days and sultry nights, we are enticed to cool off in the element of water, be this at the coast, riverbank, pool or lakeside. For those of us lucky enough to live near the beach, or for those ‘en vacances’ the city summer sluggishness is relieved by paddling in the Ocean, eating ice cream & sipping long cool drinks. As we wash away the clinging sand, we are refreshed and re-baptised, ready to return to our labours.

The Fire & Water theme now culminates; the pressure builds and humidity rises, triggering the famous July storms. These natural dramatic displays often release & dissipate the by now oppressive temperatures. The late summer heat continues until the shorter days ahead lead us toward Autumn.

NOTE: Southern hemisphere readers will at this time be celebrating Midwinter with its own themes & contrasting elements.

Whichever festival you are celebrating we at SRTB send Bright Blessings.