How the blog works

The poems on this blog are mostly written on the basis of my historical reading and are intended to be both educational and entertaining.
Recently I have also begun posting some of my work with Anglo-Saxon charms. This work is somewhat speculative and is conducted as an amateur researcher and keen Pagan historian.

Please feel free to use anything on this site as a resource if you think that it may be relevant to your needs.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Elf Service

This poem looks at the usefulness of Early Saxon elves (ie before the conversion to Christianity) and touches on how various kinds of elves might have performed as 'good spirits'.

Elves are powerful beings who would exercise their power in ordered ways for the long-term benefit of the community.

The Anglo-Saxons considered elves as beautiful white shining spirits, there were different kinds of elves; Water elf: wateralfeng, field elf: feldalfeng,  land elf: landalfe,  wood elf: wudualfeng and mountain elf:  beorgalfeng.

In early Saxon England there appears to have been a strong belief in elves. They have left their impressions in various ways, in names of towns and villages eg Ilfracombe in Devon who's name means 'elf wisdom valley' and Alfington meaning either 'elf family settlement' or 'elf friendly settlement', there are several variations on this theme with other surviving village names.

Many Saxon names were derived from the word 'elf'; for example; Aelfred (elf wisdom),  Aelfflad, (elf-beautiful), Avery  (rules the Elves), Ellette  (little elf), Elva/Elvia (elf), Elwine/Elwina/Elwyna (friend of the elves), Erlina/Erlene/Erline  (elfin), Aelfgifu (elf gift), Aelfheah (elf high), Aelfric = (elf power).

The word aelfscyne means 'as beautiful as an elf'.
Aelfthone is a herb which was known for its mind-altering qualities.

In modern day Iceland there is still a strong connection between people and elves, there are several examples of people defending stones, rocky outcrops or valleys against road building in order to protect the elves homes.
From Wilipedia: Álfhóll (Elf Hill) is the most famous home of elves in Kópavogur, and Álfhólsvegur (Elf Hill Road) is named after it. Late in the 1930s, road construction began on Álfhólsvegur, which was supposed to go through Álfhóll, which meant that Álfhóll would have to be demolished. Nothing seemed to go well, and construction was stopped due to money problems. A decade later road construction through Álfhóll was to be continued, but when work resumed machines started breaking and tools got damaged and lost. The road remained routed around the hill, not through it as originally planned. In the late 1980s, the road was to be raised and paved. Construction went as planned until it came time to demolish part of Álfhóll. A rock drill was used, but it broke. Another drill was fetched, but that one broke, as well. After both drills broke to pieces, the workers refused to go near the hill with any tools. Álfhóll is now protected by the city as a cultural heritage. 
See also:

The Elf Service

On mid summers eve, light elves doth abound,
Rare radiant ones, perhaps to be found.
Tending fields and meads, and on flowery mound,
Weaving their magic, not making a sound.

Greybeard went to fetch, water from small stream,
Placing fresh baked bread, beneath the low beam.
For those hidden folk, that keep water clean,
Wise wateralfeng, seen in a day dream.

In full flower spring, the meadow mumbling,
Colourful carpet, wasps and bees bumbling.
Poppies corn cockles, red and blue tumbling,
In corner of eye, feldalfen gambling.

Heave up healing herbs, the galdor to read,
Kneeling in meadow, libation of mead.
For field fertility, performing the deed,
The hidden people, give life to corn seed.

Landalfe live in rock, at centre of field,
The bright elves therein, increase the corn yield.
If thee move this stone, then thine fate is sealed,
Gather lichen here, and thee wilt be healed.

In small silent wood, dusting distant leaves,
Wudualfeng out, on mid summer's eves.
Tending their aelfthorne, as diligent reeves,
Gathering mushrooms, like dark forest thieves.

Those beautiful elves, form a link between,
Mankind and landscape, whilst staying unseen.
White shining spirits, working our land green,
Bringing abundance, where light elves have been.

Copyright Andrew Rea, April 2017

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Tigath Galdor

I have found 6 variations of the Tigath gardor (charm) referred to in a theses by Edward Thomas Pettit which I list below as they may be of interest. This charm which would have been sung over a sick person was used in Anglo-Saxon times as part of a magical healing process.

6 versions

1.Bald's Leechbook (1 12/24-1 14/1):
Acre. aercre . aer nem. nadre. aercuna hel. aer nem. ni thern. aer. asan.
bui thine. adcrice. aer nem. meodre . aer nem. aethern. aer nem. allu. honor
ucus. idar. ad cert. cunolari. raticamo . helae. icas cristi ta. haele . to
baert. tera . fueli . cui. robater. plana. uili.

2 Lacnunga. Entry LXIII (II. 254-7):
Acrc arcre arnem nona arnem beothor aernem. nidren. arcun cunath ele
harassan fidne

3 Lacnunga. Entry XXV (11. 86-91):
"Tigath tigath tigath calicet. aclu cluel sedes adclocles. acre earcre arnem.
nonabiuth aer aernem nithren arcum cunath arcum arctua fligara uflen binchi
cuteri. nicuparam raf afth egal ufen arta, arta. arta trauncula. Trauncula.

4 Lacnunga. Entry LXXXIII:

5 Oxford, Bodician Library, MS Bodley 163 fol. 227:
Tigath . Tigath . Tigath . calic& aclocluel sedes adclocles arcre . enxrcre
ererne(m) Nonabaioth arcu(m) cunat arcu(m) arcua fligara soh withni
necules culeri rafaf thegal uflen binchni . arta, arta. arta. tnxuncula.
tnxuncula. Tnxuncula.

6 Cambridge. Gonville and Caius College MS 379 599, fol. 49R:
"Thigat. Thigat. calicet. Archlo. cluel. tedes. Achodes. Arde. et
hercleno(n). Abaioth. ArcocugliA. Arcu. ArcuA. fulgura. sophiunit. ni.
Cofued. necutes cuteri. nicuram. Thefalnegal. Vflem. Archa. cu(n) hunelaja.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Thunor's Revenge


The 23rd June 2016 had much significance, it was both Mid Summer's Eve – a night when the fairies are about and pookas lead people astray (Puck being the Shakespearean incarnation of these of these characters). It was also a Thursday – the day of the god of thunder - Thunor (Thor).

Perhaps it was more than a coincidence that at about two o'clock in the morning began a lightning storm over London, the longest and most intense of my lifetime. It seemed to stay parked above the capital for two hours, keeping me awake.

What followed was flooding and travel chaos.

Here is a Heathen take on all of this:

Thunor's Revenge Mid Summer's Eve, Thursday 23rd June 

On this special day, the fairies are loose,
Old Puck is about, he wilt thee seduce.
No one lights bone fires, to drive him away,
So he has his fun, and leads folk astray.

Thunor's day fell on, a mid summer's eve,
Such a long lighting, maelstrom he dost weave.
Thunor is angry, and shows all his might,
His hammer strikes hard, throughout the long night.

The heavens open, let loose their large load,
Wuldorfador rises, to see what flowed.
Thunderbolt landslip, chaos at Kings Cross,
Waterloo is shut, and flooded across.

Thunor throws more rain, down from darkened sky,
The heavens open, is the end now nigh?
Then Loki decides, to have his way,
Submerging the land, and causing delay.

Westminster station, has cascading stairs,
People are marooned, in London's great squares.
Three polling stations, are water submerged,
Best go home early, the public is urged.

Thousands left stranded, underground delayed,
Some remainers hope, of voting dost fade.
With many unable, to cast their vote,
What now will unfold, I don't need to quote.

Copyright Andrew Rea November 2016 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Seidr Space

Introduction (this is a just a bit of fun)
In Old Norse, seiðr was a type of sorcery which involved the incantation of galdors (spells that were sung or chanted). Practitioners of seiðr were predominantly women (vǫlva or seiðkona "seiðr woman"), although there were male practitioners (seiðmaðr "seiðr-man") as well. practitioners connected with the spiritual realm through chanting and prayer.

Seidr Space

Sing like a Norseman, a galdor or three,
Open the portal, to heavon for thee.
We wonder what's going, on in their head,
To open wyrd's gate, and hear what is said

Those Norsemen they knew, about Seidr space,
Divination rite, in a sacred place.
Cast fairy circle, call the quarters four,
So volva can open, that sacred door.

Wassail with that wine, that's made from the bee,
Drink like a Dane with, that melomel glee.
Chase it down with pace, bottoms up with grace,
Slipping and sliding, into seidr space.

Take old apple juice, bring it to your brain,
Down horn of cider, and drink like a Dane.
Those Danes they knew how, to raise horns sky high,
Priests didn't like them, they led us a rye.

Ample apples make, some jolly good juice,
But sip too much and, thy tongue wilt come loose.
Pass horn to the left, the circle to trace,
Sipping and sliding, into cider space.

Copyright Andrew Rea November 2016

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Remember the Birch

This poem was written during the spring, for an artist friend called Buffy that tried to save a tree (familiar to me) on the Barbican from developers and was intended to be used as a remembrance to its demise at the hands of an abusive contractor's operative.
Buffy had watched the lower branches and secondary trunk being cut against the protestations of her and other neighbours. The contractor's operative had been very abusive during this process. Buffy was unable to watch the final cut and left in tears and asked me to write a memorial poem for the tree to be displayed with a painting of hers on the site.

Remember the Birch
Oh birch that burns true, and is first to leaf,
And allows all plants, to grow well beneath.
Protect us from foes, with your noble might,
And help make sacred, this fair city site.
I call all rune trees, to come to our fight,
And guard us here with, thine magical might.
By the first spring birch. in the morning dew,
Rise above morons, that haven't a clue.
We honour you here, in this city glade,
Every root bower branch, and sacred blade.
May the green wood spirit, return to this space,
And those that destroy, never show their face.
Andrew Rea Spring 2016

I quickly wrote this poem and sent it to her the next morning. Shortly after sending it she contacted me and said: 'a miracle has happened the tree was saved by the planners moments before the main trunk was about to be cut'.

So did the poem turn back time?
The next week we put a spell of protection on the tree.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Mowing Feast

The poem is set in Anglo-Saxon England and is based on the right of feasting after mowing a meadow on the lord's land. This was one of the eight major feasts and was in return for a days labour given in duty.
The method of mowing a field did not change significantly until the invention of modern agriculture.

The lines have been divided in two by a central comma creating sets of five syllables, this is intended to be expressed in the reading to match the rhythm of the scythe.

Mowing Feast
Æfterra Litha, first summer hay cut,
With a well honed scythe, holding the long butt.
Misty sunny morn, blade peened flat and true,
Trudging to meadow, early morning dew.

Sweet meadows of grass, poppies and corn flowers,
Sweep blade to the left, those long fragrant hours.
Tall lady's bedstraw, and meadow foxtail,
Seeds drop into sward, sweet sent to inhale.

Gathering of folk, working side by side,
In blistering heat, of mid-summer tide.
The rhythm of scythe, long furlong to mow,
Hay drops to the left, forming long windrow.

Wipe sweat from thy brow, our thirst is relieved,
Ale cup bearing boys, are greatly received.
Everyone gathered, beneath the elm tree,
Sat down on soft hay, and slacked thirst with glee.

Short break back to work, till acre is mown,
With wet stone to hand, the long blade to hone.
In Litha's warm wind, tall corn cockles sway,
Buttercups tumble, as bees fly away.

Once thine Lords hard work, is out of the way,
The feasting begins, at end of the day.
Wifmen serve thick slices, of buttered warm bread,
Ale cup bearing boys, return for the spread.

Music and feasting, merriment and ale,
A roll in the hay, and jugs of wassail.
A basket of fruit, pies cakes and delights,
This feast in the hay, is one of our rights.

Our Nerthus's gift, is hay for the beasts,
And mowing the field, gives one of our feasts.
Children frolic laugh, and jump in the hay,
Tomorrow's mowing, is another day.

Copyright Andrew Rea Heilig Monath 2016

Æfterra Litha (OE) = July
To peen = to hammer the edge of a blade true
sward = the cut grassy ground or upper layer of earth
windrow = a line of cut hay
Litha (OE)= Summer Solstice

Wifmen (OE) = women (compare 'weapon men' = men)
Nerthus (OE) = Earth Goddess, pre dates Frigg (mentioned by Bede)

furlong = the length of a field (220yards)

In 'The labours of the months' July (Æfterra Litha) shows hay being cut with scythes.
The poem was also inspired by the end scene of 'A Day In The Hayfields 1904' showing children playing in the hay (ignore the modern machinery):

For traditional hay making see 'How to Make Hay with a Scythe':

For a variation in procedure see also 'Hay In A Day':

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Fairy Wood

In medieval times when people wore cod pieces and chastity belts.......

Would'st that I compare thee, to a wood elf,
Thine magic enchantments, to keep for myself.
Oh thou radiant ealfscyne, young wife man,
Thee doest please me, as only thee can.

Into the green wood, must I thee follow,
On the raunchy eve, of a lewd morrow.
Take the neverward part, of mine own thing,
Away into night and let's have a fling.

Come hither wench, for I am ready for thee,
'Oh sir thou can'st have, thine way' sayeth she.
Let me souse thine lips, and breasts with fine ale,
And plunge my blade, into thine fairy grail.

Standing naked ere, rising of the moon,
Perchance it wilt, upgoeth some time soon.
Doth it not now shineth, both bright and clear,
And that's only the first quarter to appear.

With this field-dew, I do thee consecrate,
I pray thee please me now, I can not wait.
Full oft hast thou pleasured, my ample manhood,
And shown me enchantments, in the greenwood.

The velvet tongue of midnight, hath told twelve,
Thou shalt come when, I dig, dive and delve.
Call out thine song, whether thou wilt or not,
At once thou wench lease, I shoot my own shot.

Thou hath well beguiled me, with thine beauty,
Least I loose the plot, let me do my duty.
Since my magic wand, is now at its prime,
Let's straight to bed, 'tis almost fairy time.

Durst thou have climbed, upon me to gyrate,
Thy summer curves doth, tend upon my state.
I pray thee what wilt, thou do to please me?
Oh no, not now, I've mislaid that dam key!

Copyright Andrew Rea Midsummer 2016