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.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Walpurgisnacht


Walpurgisnacht

He durst stay inside, on such a grey night,
When powers of darkness, are at their height.
Durst that he spy, the shady Black Shuck,
He durst not venture, to his nasty nook.

Though he be stout hearted, and strong of hand,
On this spirit night, best stay off the land.
For this night witches, and fairies abound,
Dark elves and goblins, are roaming around.

Least dark eyed puckers, may lead thee astray,
Avoid grassy rings, on the first of May.
Just witches questing, for herbs of the hour,
Can bear such things, with their strange power.

Worts have magic strength, on the eve of May,
Without use of iron, gather before day.
Carefully they lift, before first cock crow,
Growing in those groves, that only they know.

Collected at that, early morn twilight,
Blessed with magic signs, and spell casting rite.
On Walpurgis laden, with glistening dew,
Then taken to old hut, and made into brew.

Oh strong oak full oft, hast thou born witness,
To lusty maids in, their summery dress.
But witches in the, late nights early dark,
Wilt oft beat those that, get up with the lark.

Copyright Andrew Rea 6th May 2018



Introduction
Walpurgisnacht is the eve of May Day, a time when the veils between the world of man and fairy grow thin. To the Anglo-Saxons this was a powerful spirit night, a good time to gather herbs (worts) for magic or healing.
Anglo-Saxon documents advise the lifting of herbs by the whole root ball to contain their energy. The best magical time to gather herbs was at a liminal moment, such as twilight. We have reference to the making the sign of the cross and singing of nine prayers or galdors (spells or charms that were sung) prior to lifting the herbs.
Gathering herbs without the use of iron is taken from page 5, paragraph 47, item 4 of the Lacnunga manuscript as referenced in Starcrafts and Leechdoms of Anglo-Saxon England.
Puckers (pookers) are supernatural giant animals that lead folk astray. Black Shuck refers to a legendary demon dog said to roam East Anglia.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Bright Night

Introduction

A bright night is a phenomenon, lost due to artificial lighting, whereby the sky is producing about ten times as much light as the stars alone. To be appreciated it must occur on a clear, moonless night. The landscape is clearly visible and you can read without candlelight.

Caused by intense airglow, (oxygen atoms join to form molecular oxygen after the sun has gone down) happens about once a year.

This poem explores what might have happened on such a rare night during the cold month of February in Anglo-Saxon times.


Bright Night

Wuldorfador down, bedded for the night,
But no darkness seen, no moon within sight.
Unnatural glow, in clear sky so bright,
Twilight without end, shone on village rite.

Fine furrows in field, clear cut to be seen,
A Solmonath night, no snow or moon beam.
Would dark as Heimlich, most normally mean,
No clouds overhead, all in a cold dream.

A strange eerie glow, hanging in the sky,
No moving lights of, haegtesse to spy.
But some strange bright bands, like fine fields of rye,
Out shining the stars, as seen to the eye.

An aid to travel, folk come to the light,
Halls and huts emptied, to revel at night.
Soon mead and ale floweth, with horns held at height,
Wassailing hooded, folk in drinking rite.

Mead jug bearing boys, excitedly run,
Quote the good drychten, let's have us some fun.
Show me a man who's, horn is fully done,
Waes hail and drink hail, throughout the throng sung.

Long into the night, a few stalwarts drank,
Their numbers count down, as midnight watch shrank.
Then others awake, to join rabble rank,
Crisp venturing out, to shore up their flank.

At last ghostly light, it fadeth from view,
Lay on their bed straw, and left their fine brew.
For the fields to plough, in the morning dew,
The morrow's ploughing, might not be so true.


Copyright Andrew Rea January 2018

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Nerthus Procession

Introduction



While in the railway station of Sao Bento in Porto in Portugal I became aware that one of the tiled panels depicted a procession of the Virgin Mary high atop a cart drawn by four oxen (see photo). I have also established that in order to have the oxen draw the cart, the town had to have a special dispensation from the Pope.

So why would the dispensation be required? Probably because the use of animals, especially oxen, in religious processions was something that the Pagans did. Now we know that the priests of Nerthus sometimes led a procession with an image of Nerthus (Goddess of fertility, strongly connected with the harvest of grain), so what might the procession have looked like?

Note - Waldorfador is the sun god as mentioned by Saint Bede, alongside Nerthus in his reference to the planting of Sol cakes in February (Solmonath = month of mud).

This poem is an attempt to depict such a procession.


Nerthus Procession

Cutting the harvest, working from dry dawn,
From the first days toil, harvest of ripe corn.
Last neck of new corn, cut by a young lad,
Taken to decked wain, and ritually clad.

Crafted of the last, central field stuck formed,
To be drawn on high, by stout oxen horned.
On sacred high throne, of long wooden wain,
Garlands of flowers, and tall sheaves of grain.

Our Goddess Nerthus, decked in clean bright cloth,
Singing such soft songs, we pledge our true troth.
To be placed on wain, and bedecked oxen drawn,
Garlands of flowers, on long oxen horn.

Hay wain dressed with sweet, flowers fresh from mead,
Three bare footed maids, the oxen to lead.
Crowned with twisted wheat, these maidens so fare,
Corn dolly in hand, and long flowing hair.

On high throne bedecked, with fresh fragrant flowers,
Cut from the meadow, holy herb bowers.
Nerthus hail unto thee, sacred chant to read,
With broach on fine gown, long robed priest to lead.

Along the headland, and into long lane,
Singing to Nerthus, on high on her wain.
Ample abundance, in her golden gown,
Winding their way to, centre of small town.

Weod monthath with, warm waldorfador,
Long robed Nerthus priest, soft chanting galdor.
Hymns to our lady, on highest wain top,
From evil forces, protecting the crop.

Copyright Andrew Rea Yule 2017

Sunday, 29 October 2017

60s / Now


Here's a bit of fun that I have come up with to compare the 60's with the present


60s / Now

Make love not war / make lie, go to war.

Love and peace / accuse and fake news.

Tune in, turn on, drop out / work hard, work overtime, keep job.

Aspire to transcend the self / actively promote yourself.

Learn to say yes / learn to say no.

Spiritual growth / monetary growth.

Do a good deed / become a charity mugger for commission.

Take photos of places / take photos of self, blocking view of places.

Cook dinner / post photo of meal out, on social media.

Go for a walk in the free outdoors / pay to walk on a tread machine in the gym.

Have a picnic and enjoy clean air in the countryside / burn food and grass with a disposable barbecue and inhale the smoke.

Make short phone call / live on your phone.

Arrange to meet friends and be there on time / arrange to meet friends and make changes in real time.

Do some gardening / sit on the decking.

Grow own vegetables / drive to farmers market .

Pick own strawberries grown in home made compost / 'pick your own' strawberries grown in hydroponic trays.

Drive small sports car to impress / drive off road, heavy four by four to show wealth.

Consider others safety / drive off road, heavy four by four with cage bumper.

Family and neighbours watched children / child care costs a fortune.

Optimism and high spirits / pessimism and despair.

Marriage was a dying institution / gay marriages are the thing.

Pull down a terrace and build a tower block / pull down anything and build an apartment block.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Fairy Ring

Introduction

On 31st July I met a friend and we went to Saint James Park to have a picnic, choosing to sit within a perfect fairy circle, of about nine feet diameter, containing 'Fairy Ring Champignon' Shortly later three ravens came all as in the poem. The sweet was a kind of joke sweet called 'Black Death' and was as described.

The Fairy Ring
Once upon a moon day brightly, while we approach, good and rightly,
With sun shine on the noon timely, going downward upon one knee,
While I pondered of morrows fest, of the Lammas day of harvest,
Of the fresh loaf warm and sun blessed, came a troupe of ravens three,
Standing still by fairy circle dressed in black all ravens three,
Around cautious me and she.

As we sat inside the grass ring, I could see the corvids dark wing,
And each raven their shadow bring, upon the ground close by to see,
Sat we witches with our long hair, looking, glancing, longing to stare,
At those dark ravens who did dare, dare guard the circle by the tree,
In soft sunshine the small mushrooms sitting there beneath the tree,
In a circle there for thee.

Breaking baked bread ravens musing, then two ponder their leave choosing,
One rare raven circle cruising, walking widdershins like John Dee,
Now the circle he is tracing, softly slowly he is pacing,
On the worn fairy ring tracing, pacing circle true like Dee,
Time to taste the ball of Black Death like the scrying orb of Dee,
This is what she gaveth me.

All at once the taste grew stronger, I could bear it more no longer,
But endured I the flavour, it wilt soon passeth sayeth she.
Finally the dark taste ended, and then gently sweetness entered,
Then that raven he went flying, far beyond the tall plane tree,
Leaving us alone together, pondering beneath that tree,
What wilt she next giveth me?


Copyright Andrew Rea Lammas 2017


Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Gates of Tomorrow

Introduction
The poem is set in early Anglo-Saxon England at the liminal moment before dawn. (Liminal moments were greatly favoured for magical acts and gathering of medicinal plants).

The gatherering of litchen from standing stones is inferred from the practice of collecting it from crosses in church yards for use in healing as mentioned in Leech Book III P345 LXII: 'take....litchen from the hallowed sign of Christ..'.

The use of standing stones is based on The Laws of Ælfred (ca. 890) which state: ‘some men are so blind that bring their offering to earth-fast stone and also to trees and to wellsprings, as the witches teach’.

Elves are mentioned in many Anglo-Saxon documents and the reference to elves being associated with stones is inspired by Icelandic belief where elves are still said to dwell within certain rocks.

A galdor is a spell or charm that is sung.
A wight is a land spirit.


The Gates of Tomorrow

Door before daybreak, gateway to sunrise,
Before the cock crows as eventide dies.
He gathers litchen, together at night,
Containing its force before it is light.

Standing and casting, his magical rite,
Between the old stones portal in twilight.
In sacred deep trance, with twigs of ash tree,
As staves cast on ground magic runes to see.

Before sun appears, above burning bright,
From corner of eye appears elfin wight.
White shining spirit, where magic stones stand,
Guardian of rocks on this sacred land.

Waiting at the cold, portal of the dawn,
Hands held beneath his long tunic of fawn.
As all grass around, becomes frosty haw,
Dusting and dancing in the morning raw.

Singing long galdors, in a spellbound trance,
Chanting secrete lay in a runic stance.
Waiting for sunrise, the gods to entreat,
When the day wakest the charm is complete.

Copyright Andrew Rea Æfterra Litha 2017

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Hawthorn

The Hawthorn in the city yard




For a better view:

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.5215533,-0.0954266,3a,75y,118.77h,105.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1stBpACKT2y-w3yurezg4Mmg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Introduction

This noble tree of many years bringing life to a small corner of the city with its fragrant flowers in May and colourful berries in Autumn is under threat from a developer.

There is much folklore connected with the May tree including its extensive uses during the May Day festivities. The hawthorn also affords a safe secure shelter for nesting and migrating birds providing food by way of its haws.

Lone bushes are said to be especially inhabited by fairies. These little folk are protective of their bushes. To cut down these trees has long been know to incur the often fatal wrath of their guardians. Dire consequences have traditionally attended those foolhardy enough to disturb a faery thorn, as many tales recount, eg in 1982,workers in the De Lorean car plant in Northern Ireland claimed that one of the reasons the business had so many problems was because a faery thorn bush had been destroyed during the construction of the plant. The management took this so seriously that they actually had a similar bush brought in and planted with all due ceremony. But the company still went under!


The poem below has been read out to the tree together with a short spell of protection.



The Hawthorn

This noble thorn tree, of many a year,
In small city site, had nothing to fear.
It's fragrant flowers, defining the may,
And those red berries, on an Autumn day.

Affording safe branches, for birds to nest,
Giving protection, for others to rest.
Abundant berries, clusters of ripe red,
Garlands of flowers, on fair maidens head.

The fair maid that on, the first day of May,
Goes down to the meads, in the morning gay.
To wash in the dew, from florets for free,
Wilt ever after, most beautiful be.

The lone hawthorn tree, placed in city yard,
Attracts little folk, these fairies now guard.
Cut down this tree if, thee art foolish of heart,
The wrath of the fairies, may tare thee apart.

De Lorean did, want car plant to grow,
Destroyed a thorn tree, and became fairy foe.
Many problems arose, with thorn bush gone,
Until a new thorn, did appease the throng.