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.

Monday, 25 June 2012

July (Æfterra Litha)

July (Æfterra Litha) 

Here we use the nine herb charm as the point of entry into the workings of an Anglo-Saxon healer. Spells were sung over the herbs before they could be lifted with the root ball.
The stems were only cut at the last minute in order to conserve the energy of the plant. Spider spells were a popular method of applying a charm, these were sung nine times: three times in each ear and again three times over the head while burning incense.

July (Æfterra Litha) 

Summer’s warmest blessing, is fully here,
But let’s not forget, colder times of year.
Weaponmen cut wood, for the winter blaze,
As shorter are waning, the warming days.

While we start to cut, the winter’s firewood,
Greybeards spell crafting, as a wise man should.
Into the realm of spirit, he now be,
Medicinal trance spell, beneath the tree.

Later gathereth, nettle and poison's bane,
These he findeth, along the dusty lane.
Over by the ditch, crab apple and lambscress,
Chanting prayer to each, to charge and bless.

Into unmown mead, scented camomile,
Wicker bag on shoulder, over the style.
Mugwort and waybread, seen in fallow mead,
Only two more herbs, for him to proceed,

Taken by the root ball, fennel and thyme,
Intone and enchant, magic spells to rhyme.
The nine herbs to be, taken to his hut,
Before the stems can, finally be cut.

Late into the night, with elf struck Wifeman,
Ceremony and sacred, trance began.
His chanting galdor crafted, skills to use,
The nine herb mixture, ready to infuse.

Spider spell to sing, three times in each ear,
Helping healing spirits, elf shot disappear.
Then above the head, three times more to chant,
With way of Wyrd, there’s no belief in can’t.

On the mead bench, spell crafting in the air,
Wilt the coming winter, the greybeard spare.
But for now apples, ripen on the tree,
Drinking melomel, summer blessing thee.

Copyright Andrew Rea 2009

Monday, 18 June 2012

On the spindle side

On the spindle side   

This poem set in late Saxon times draws on the fear that dark elves lurk in various places especially deep woodlands and may be a source of illness. Many remedies recorded in the Lacnunga circa 1050 (LXXIX-LXXX and LXXXI-LXXXII ‘the lay of the nine herbs’) and Leech Book 3 circa 950 manuscripts refer to illnesses attributed to elfin influence and give remedies to affect a cure. These cures involved detailed descriptions of how the herbs must be gathered, prepared and applied. The use of magic throughout is apparent. See also glossary below.

On the spindle side

Late damp August day, deep within the wood,
With time betwixt the harvests, Leola stood.
Gathering mushrooms, of various kinds,
Rustle in the bush, did not see the signs.

Middangeard realm of folk, Leola did leave,
Searching for mushrooms, elves they did deceive.
Now with the Smithas, be forging elf shot,
Leola be elfadled, spinning out their plot.

Night visitations, incubus was here,
Morning pains in side, feeling quite severe.
Leola goes to temple, feeling quite ill,
Praying to the goddess, on the hill.
Ethelind the Wise, oft to her did stride,
Best to keep it close, on the spindle side.
Wise woman sees elf, pricking at her side,
Strong spell to cast, wood elf to be denied.

She must gather herbs, in a unique way,
First a special sign, then nine times to pray.
Once charms are cast, the herbs she can lift,
By the whole root ball, she must work quite swift.

In goddess temple, with the sacred spring,
Herbs under the altar, nine times to sing.
On the spear side, men folk are mowing meads,
Off to her thatched hut, to finish her deeds.

The herbs first be boiled, in butter and fat,
Then add blessed salt, guarded by her cat.
Through a clean cloth, the concoction to strain,
In running water, purify again.

By Leola’s bedside, incense all around,
Her face and eyes salved, the power well bound.
The elf shot be out! the wise woman cried,
Appling the salve to, the painful side.

Night walkers gone, no place for elves to hide,
With charm well cast, mischief can be denied.
She wilst dance full oft, in many a mead,
Ripe apples to pick, her feller to feed.

Copyright Andrew Rea 2009

Middangeard is the realm of humans
Smithas forge weapons for the elves
Elfadled refers to an illness caused by Elves
‘on the spindle side’ within the realm of woman
elf shot refers to a sudden sharp pain caused by elves

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mid summers Eve

Mid summers Eve

Eve of 24th June (Saint John’s eve or mid summers eve) was a popular time for festival. Fires were lit on hills and feasting and drunken bacchanalias took place around. Bonfire – bones burnt to drive away evil and protect the harvest. Wakefire was the burning of wood for merry making. Bones and wood burnt together was known as Saint John’s fire.

The festival continued on mid summers day with various traditions including:
Parades of giants and dragons, a feathered devil and naked boys.
Lighting of bonfires and rolling of fire wheels on mid summers eve (wheel is Romano Celtic sun symbol). The first reference to rolling a burning wheel down a hill was recorded in 4th century.
The carrying of fire around fields.
Blessing of apple trees.
Wassail bowls were decorated with ribbons and rosemary.
The poem is set about the 15th century

Mid Summers Eve   

The eve of the merry, feast of Saint John,
A short night for to, gather herbs upon.
The wise are picking, medicinal flowers,
Two days after shortest, night’s last hours.

The bones and wood, of Saint John’s fire close by,
Protecting the harvest, with bonfire high.
Drive away evil, by burning some bone,
Hang lanterns outside, cast out the unknown.

Wakefire of wood, for making merry,
Jolly wassail bowl, ward off the fairy.
Merrymaking into, the hours small,
Into lechery, men and women fall.

Carry fire round field, fun in the revel.
The naked boys and, the feathered devil.
Dragons and giants, march in procession,
Midsummer feasting, night indiscretion.
The Field Marigold, the best night to pick,
These precious hours, vanishing so quick.
Other miraculous, mid-summer plants,
Wise folk gather with, traditional chants.

Are witches afoot, with healing powers?
Gathering herbs, in barmy small hours.
Drunken gluttony, drive away sadness,
Rolling sun fire wheel, midsummer madness.

Copyright Andrew Rea August 2011