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, 14 December 2013

The great famine

This poem is based on an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 975: 'during harvest, appeared "cometa" the star; and then came in the following year a very great famine, and very manifold commotions among the English people.

At that point in time we find ourselves in a society that had been fully Christianised for over 200 years, but as today and more so up until the invention of modern agricultural machinery, there would have been many continuations of Pagan practices but partially robbed of their meaning.

From Bedes De Temporum Ratione on the reckoning of time, we know that Nerthus was the Earth Mother Goddess (until Frigg took over this role) and Wuldorfadur, the solar logos, was her consort. Reference was also made to the names of the months: Solmonath (mud month), February when offerings were made to these Gods by way of planting Sol Cakes into the earth. Blotmonath, blood month was when you took stock of your livestock and decided how many could be fed over the winter the surplus then met their end.

The feast in the rigs was due to folk for harvesting in the lords fields and is recorded in Saxon law. The drinking feast for the return to ploughing in February is like recorded.
A failed harvest was taken as divine punishment.

The reference to house fairies refers to the Cofgodas, these would guard a household, and would be given offerings in return. After Christianisation, it is believed that the belief in Cofgodas survived as the Hob.
A songal is a handful of corn.

Loaf Ward is the origin of lord.

The great famine (Anno Domini 976)

Last year in the rigs, we had merry a time,
Lusty summer play, with sheaves bound in twine.
Bright harvest comet, with full moon in sky,
Fine feast of plenty, but dark crows didst cry.

No priest of Nerthus, to visit our fields,
No heathen ritual, to safeguard our yields.
No Nerthus tribute, for next years harvest,
No one didst think of, forthcoming unrest.

In cold Solmonath, dolly went to earth,
Blessing the plough share, and drinking to mirth.
All drinking much ale, as fathers had done,
But not to honour, the old heathen sun.

The bright harvest moon, she shone and burned bright,
But little to cut, for our feasting rite.
Devine punishment, is god's ghostly will,
Meanwhile pious priests, are eating their fill.

This Blotmonath leaves, few beasts still alive,
Cruel long wintertide, how will we all thrive.
We ask our Loaf Ward, for grain to be fed,
But wheat chaff and grass, we use to make bread.

Oh mother Nerthus, wherefore hast thou gone?
Oh Wuldorfadur, why hast thou not shone?
The old ways did serve, in our tide of need,
With rite of casting, sacred songal of seed.

Without offerings, the fairies did leave,
Magical powers, they no longer weave.
To the great mead hall, greybeard boldly went,
I followed soon when, my angle was sent.

Copyright Andrew Rea December 2013

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Here be Grimstones

Introduction to Here be Grimstones (Settlements haunted by a ghost)
Here we look at a number of towns whose names can be traced back to Saxon times as haunted by ghosts.

Here be Grimstons
Ghosts of the hill cliff, pit hole wood and mound,
Since old Saxon times, were to the land bound.
Illusion or real, manifestations,
Do terrors survive, at these locations?

Grimston church Norfolk, lost in Doomsday search,
Roman villa bricks, used in ghost town church.
How did it manage, its image to hide?
Phantom Saxon church, on the other side.

Grimston Leicestershire, with ghost tunnel long,
Doomsday book village, timber station gone.
Now just a test track, for ghost trains to run,
In this little town, the ghosts they have won.

Grimston was levelled, since eight hundred years,
Just a ghostly tor, to hold back the tears.
Hill over Sherwood, is solemnly ploughed,
Neighbouring Wellow, its Maypole still proud.

Ghoulish North Grimstone, North Yorkshire village,
Cut off in its track, rails they were pillaged.
Old Saxon church gone, only font remains,
The station now house, hears only ghost trains.

Grimston East Yorkshire, now only grows grains,
Farm house moated from, ghost hamlet remains.
Coastal village lost, but mansion it cheers,
One family held, for a thousand years.

Copyright Andrew Rea  Spring 2012

Saturday, 30 November 2013

To charm a cow

In order to have firm subject matter I conduct my own investigations into the lives of the common people in Saxon England, bringing various materials and ideas together. Recently I have been trying my hand at translating some lessor Anglo-Saxon healing documents known as Fly Leaf Leechdoms.

This poem was inspired by an incomplete charm (MS. Cott. Yitell. E. xviii., fol. 13 b).
The charm begins: This is to cure thy cattle and goes on to mention the casting down of sticks inscribed with the Paternoster. Using this as a point of departure I have substituted runes in place of the prayer and added various expressions from other lessor charms (that I have translated) to produce the basis of this piece.

Galdor - a spell or charm to be sung or chanted
Scucca - goblins or demons
Shippon - a cow shed (were you a farmer you might know this one)
Wight - a land spirit.

To charm a cow

This thou shalt use, to cure mickle cattle,
Against a pale ghost, or fiend do battle.
If cow be addled, by dwarf or dark elf,
Sing this charm to bring, thine cow back to health.

Shield from shadow-goer, Scucca sent in night,
Chant this charm to cure, thy addled cow blight.
Thou must sing to beast, each evening of three,
This galdor sing thrice, over them chant thee.

   With white rune wand from, old oaken bower,
   I doth thee charge with, Wodans wise power.
   Be shielded from wrath, and ever made well,
   Undamaged by poisons, or magic spell.

   By power of runes, on long oaken stave,
   From wrath and cruel curse, this heifer to save.
   I Sing solemn spell, to the power of three,
   From flying venom, this will protect thee.

May runes be inscribed, on old oaken sticks,
On three edges thou, inscribe them betwixt.
Against flying venom, rude runes to write,
For thee to banish, this unwelcome wight.

Take thou all three staves, into thy shippon.
Cast two wands about, the ground there upon,
Across door threshold, let to fall the last,
For magic galdor, to be wholly cast.

Copyright Andrew Rea November 2013

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A charm against Heartburn

Leechbook III LXII - 4
If a man hath aelfsogotha, (heart burn) his eyes are yellow,
where they should be red. If thou have a will to
cure the man, observe his gestures, and consider of what
sex he be; if it be a man and looketh up, when thou
first seest him, and the countenance be yellowish black,
thou mayst cure the man thoroughly if he is not too
long in the disease; if it is a woman and looketh
down, when thou first seest her, and her countenance
is livid red, thou mayst also cure that; if it has been
upon the man longer than a twelvemonth and a day,
and the aspect be such as this, then mayst thou amend
it for a while, and notwithstanding mayst not entirely
cure it. Write this writing:

"Scriptum est, rex regum et dominus dominantium Veronica, Veronica, . . הוהי
Αγιος, αγιος, αγιος,sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, domilinus, deus sabaoth, amen, alleluiah”

Sing this over the drink and the writing:
"Deus omnipotens, pater domini nostri Iesu Christi, per impositionem hums
a scriptures expelle a famulo tuo, here insert the name,
omnem impetum castalidum de capite, de capillis, de
cerebro, defronte, de lingua, de sublingua, de gutture, de
a faucibus, de dentibus, de oculis, de naribus, de auribus,
de manibus, de collo, de brachiis, de corde, de anima,
de genibus, de coxis, de pedibus, de compaginibus
omnium membrorum intus et foris. Amen."

Then work up a drink thus; font water, rue, sage, cassuck,
dragons, the netherward part of the smooth waybroad,
feverfue, a head of dill, three cloves of garlic, fennel,
wormwood, lovage, lupin, of all equal quantities; write
a cross three times with the oil of unction, and say,
“Pax tibi”. Then take the writing, describe a cross
with it over the drink, and sing this over it:

"Dominus omnipotens, pater domini nostri Iesu Christi, per im-
positionem huius scripturse et per gustum huius expelle
diabolum a famulo tuo;"
here insert the name, and the Credo, and Paternoster. Wet the writing in the drink,
and write a cross with it on every limb, and say:
“Signum crucis Christi conservet te in vitam aeternam. Amen."

Translation of the Latin/Hebrew/Greek
“It is written, king of kings and lord of lords, Veronica, Veronica god saint, saint, saint holy, holy, holy, is the lord of the hosts amen, alleluia”.

Sing this over the drink and the writing:
“God Almighty, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the imposition of writing, drive away from this thy servant, here insert the name,
every attack of the nymph from the head, the hair, of the brain, of the front of the tongue, of the under-tongue, of the throat, of a throat, from the teeth, of the eyes, of the nose, about the ears, out of the hands, from the neck, of the arms, out of the heart, of the soul, the knees, the hips, the feet, the structure of all the members, within and without. Amen”.

…..and sing this over it:
“Lord almighty, the father of our lord Jesus Christ, by the imposition of this Scripture and the taste of this drive your servant of the devil".

Here insert the name, and the Credo, and Paternoster. Wet the writing in the drink,
and write a cross with it on every limb, and say:

“The sign of the cross of Christ may keep thee in life everlasting. Amen”.

Possible Modifications to paganise the text
We can make simple changes e.g. font water to holy water, the writing of a cross to that of a rune but some texts present more of a challenge. Here is my attempt at the charm:
Write this writing:
“It is written, lord of lords, Drychten of Drychten, Wodan, Wodan, Wodan, holy, holy, holy, is the lord of the Ese, so mote it be”.
Sing this over the drink and the writing:
Wodan, by the imposition of writing, drive away from this thy servant, here insert the name, every attack of the scucca from the head, the hair, of the brain, of the front of the tongue, of the under-tongue, of the throat, of a throat, from the teeth, of the eyes, of the nose, about the ears, out of the hands, from the neck, of the arms, out of the heart, of the soul, the knees, the hips, the feet, the structure of all the members, within and without. So mote it be”.

Then work up a drink thus; holy water, rue, sage, cassuck,
dragons, the netherward part of the smooth waybroad,
feverfue, a head of dill, three cloves of garlic, fennel,
wormwood, lovage, lupin, of all equal quantities; write
three runes with the consecrated oil, and say,
“peace to you”. Then take the writing, describe a rune
with it over the drink, and sing this over it:

“Almighty Drychten, by the imposition of this galdor and its taste, banish your servant of the scucca".

Here insert the name, and an invocation to Wodan (Wodan weoh! Wodan ure þu, þe eart on heofonum, Si þin nama gehalgod. Hwæt we nied, syle us todæg, Gewurþe ðin willa! = Wodan make sacred, Our Wodan, that is in heaven, your name is holy, what we need, give us today, be done your will).
Wet the writing in the drink and write a rune with it on every limb, and say:

“May the power of this rune keep thee in life”.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Portal Active


This poem draws on the ritual of the lessor banishing pentagram by Eliphas Levi together with the work of Dr John Dee and his assistant Edward Kelly.

John Dee is possibly England's most under sung hero having been the magician in the court of Queen Elizabeth, he used astrology to determine the date of the queen's coronation. He advised as to voyages of discovery and set out the case in international law for England to start an empire in the Americas and advocated the strengthening of the navy to serve the empire. He is arguably the father of the British Empire. He was a polymath who's skills led him to instructing our navel captains and officers in the art of navigation and cartography. He also developed a system of rituals used to communicate with angels known as Enochian Magic.

This poem combines these two types of angel magic, the strange words are from the ritual of the lessor banishing pentagram, these are in Aramaic and are translated in the following line. As in Enochian the poem is to be intoned when read, as if you are casting your voice to infinity especially when calling the angels or intoning the Aramaic.

Portal Active

Arise Dr. John Dee, I call on thee,
Magician thee be, to the highest degree.
EH-HEH-YAY, the ipsissimus am I,
Summon the angels, come down from the sky.

Draw down the spirit, with crystal containment,
The forty nine gates, there for attainment.
Draw back the curtain, rend it asunder,
Invoke the guardians, call them with thunder.

Thou angels of truth, return from afar,
Thou art the kingdom, and the power,
I call upon thee, to guard the watchtower.

I call from afar, the power of ten,
The glory forever, so mote it be,
Arise Edward Kelly, and assist me.

Thou spirits obey, the five pointed star,
Oh Divinity, glory to thee oh Lord,
Abide by my charge, take heed of my sword.

RA-PHA-EL before me, bearing his blade,
Draw closer I command thee, to my aid.
GA-BRI-EL behind, with silver chalice,
Stand at my quarter, guard me from malice.

MI-CHA-EL to the right, with the red wand,
I call upon thee, I give thee my bond.
AU-RI-EL to left, with white pentagram,
With thee at my side, protected I am.

On a sphere of light, watch towers in place,
The banishing rite, the circle to trace.
Standing here safe, flaming stars around,
The hexagram over, the power bound.

Copyright Andrew Rea 2008

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Dweorgh Dwosle

Introduction to 'Dweorgh Dwosle' (Penny Royal)

This poem, set in Anglo-Saxon times, is based on a cure for fever, headaches, soreness, cramp and spasms. The original manuscript (Lacnunga 11C) attributes these conditions to the malignant influence of dwarves - supernatural beings that lived in rocks and underground. The herb would have been gathered by the whole root ball before being taken away to be prepared into a salve or balm.

Dweorgh Dwosle

Dweorgh Dwosle to, Anglo Saxons was famed,
In thousand years, Pennyroyal renamed.
This herb wilt cure those, dwarf made unwell,
A little infusion, sickness to quell.

The destroyer of dwarves, Dweorgh Dwosle be,
Soreness cramp and spasm, to name but three.
Fever and headaches, it wilt also cure,
Gathereth with root ball, keep fresh and pure.

Useth with incense, and ritual to charm,
Apply to thy pain, and use it as balm.
As eye salve it taketh, soreness away,
A loaf or few eggs, wilt serve thee as pay.

Copyright Andrew Rea 2009

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Watch in the woods

It is a mostly forgotten fact that before the invention of electric light and gas lighting that people tended to sleep in two sessions known as the first and second sleep. This would have been particularly true if you were poor, as most folks were, since candles were expensive. The period of wakefulness between lasted one to two hours and was known as the watch. During this time people would , lie awake, chat, or even visit neighbours in their one room huts.
In this poem we look at the discrete nocturnal meetings of a young couple.

Aelfscyne is the Old English word for beautiful (elf like).

Watch in the woods

Awake after first sleep, with heart in hand,
Young elven mistress, to seek on the land.
Young wife man awake, in small hut close by,
Silently awaiting, for her owl to cry.

Stealthfully leaving, into darkest night,
Clad with canopy, of stars shining bright.
Wise hooting like owl, his sweetheart to call,
In moonlit shadow, trying not to fall.

Two shadows step on, darkest forest floor,
Slowly approaching, pass through secret door.
Silently stepping, on their secret path,
Snaking through branches, to their forest garth.

Things that young folk did, in dark nights of yore,
Going to be doing, that which no one saw.
On soft mossy glade, with maiden at hand,
Watch spent in the woods, rite of fertile land.

Snapping small soft shoots, to sound of wild boar,
An hour alone, but still wanting more.
Aelfflad so aelfscyne, in silver moonlight,
Perchance in the spring, a hand fasting rite.

Long blond flowing locks, and eyes burning bright,
Tall slim blushing maid, in hands held tight.
So wexed by this wife man’s, smooth shining skin,
As heathens we do, not have carnal sin.

Copyright Andrew Rea Winterfylleth 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013



Halloween, feast of the dead,
Winter’s darkness, here to dread.
Veils betwixt, the worlds grow thin,
Through the bonfires, protect within.

Eastern window, candle burning,
Winter’s darkness, year is turning.
Land to sky ,and coast to coast,
Light has given up, the ghost.

Western window, candle burning,
Guide the spirits, now returning.
Turnip Jack O’Lanterns, eyeing,
Ritual, candles, mirror scrying.

Midnight candle, not a sound,
I pair this pippin, round and round.
Throw the pairing, o’er my head,
My true hearts letter, for to read.

Hollantide feast ,and fire fest,
Fire re-lighting, and guising best.
Stories, games and apple bobbing,
Celtic New Year's day, hobnobbing.

Copyright Andrew Rea Oct 2008

Friday, 18 October 2013

Dark Forest Rite


This poem was painted with three pallets of words: ritualistic and pagan, Middle English and Old English. The OE presented the biggest problem; there were many words that I would have liked to use but their meanings would have been too obscure.
The poem, unlike most of my work is without any real historical fact and merely creates a mood, enjoy this if you dare......

Dark Forest Rite

If thee gaest into, the woods this day,
Hern’s hornbearer, do upon thee stray.
Spirit-bearer Frey, nacud of lim,
Applewine chalice, full to the brim.

Consecrated grove, and woodland glade,
Caldron sensor, athame blade.
Occult sorcerer, craft with thee,
Intone the spell, the power of three.

Dark moon forest, and deepest night,
Black candle beckon, and burneth bright.
Wilt thee invoke, and call thee here,
Among the shadows, drawing near.

Earth mother Nerthus, from the north,
Enchant, conjure, and bid thee forth.
Magick enchantment, be afraid,
A hex on thee, when dest invade.

Woodland nymph, and earthy sprite,
Morgan le fay, the Lady in white.
Thee bist summoned, to raise the power,
The time has come, the witching hour.

Pricthorn crown, upon your head,
Libations offering, to the dead.
Sanctified wine, cecel to devour,
Sacred groves, do thee empower.

Chant the rite, with fairy queen,
Amidst a company, of thirteen.
The incantation, spell draws near,
Beware to chant it, loud and clear.

In dead of forest, feel no fear,
Least evil spirits, doth appear.
This be no place, for a young maid,
This be no usual, masquerade.

Of thine free will, thou didst doth come,
To pulse of drum, did thee succumb.
Invoke the pucka, raise the unseen,
What didst thou do, this Halloween.

It’s much too late, to have no fear,
Fate and fortune, bringan thee here.
Thou didst arrive, of thine own force,
Be sure that thee, hast no remorse.

Copyright Andrew Rea 2009

Friday, 11 October 2013

Lacnunga XXV (The Wyrm Chant)

A bit of fun with the Lacnunga manuscript circa 1020:
In case a man or a beast drink an insect, if it be of male kind sing this lay in the right ear, which lay is hereinafter written; if it be of female kind, sing it in the left ear.

Sing this charm nine times in the ear, and a Paternoster once. This same charm a man may sing against a penetrating worm, sing it frequently upon the wound and smear with thy spittle, and take green centaury, pound and lay it on the wound and bathe with hot cow stale. In case a man drink venom, take seed of marrubium, mingle it with wine, administer to be drunk.

The charm
Tigath Tigath Tigath Calicet. Aclu cluel sedes adclocles acre earcre arnem. Nonabaiuth aer aernem nithren arcum cunath arcum arctua fligara uflen binchi cuterii. Nicuparam raf afth egal uflen arta. Arta. Arta. Trauncula.

Trauncula Patrem &filium & spn scm non amplius. Crescas sed arescas super aspidem & basilliscum ambulabir & conculcabir leonem & draconem crux matheus crux Marcus crux lucas crux iohannes.

The first paragraph of the charm refuses to be translated it is not Latin or OE. There is some evidence that it may be written, at least in part, in Old Irish.
The second paragraph translates from Latin: Seek and ye shall find. I charge thee by the Father and the son and (the holy spirit). Increase not any more but shrink.
Over the asp and the basilisk and to be trodden underfoot the lion and the dragon. Cross Mark cross Lucas cross John.

The charm is in two parts the most interesting of which is the first paragraph which I have not managed to translate, but is clearly written with some use of Old Irish and other elements which appear to have been used because of their inherent potency.
The second paragraph is very Christian and made up of a biblical abstract and part of a psalm (XCI – 13) together with a charge to ‘Increase not any more but shrink’.

A possible pagan reconstruction of the charm (to be chanted):
Tigath Tigath Tigath Calicet. Aclu cluel sedes adclocles acre earcre arnem. Nonabaiuth aer aernem nithren arcum cunath arcum arctua fligara uflen binchi cuterii. Nicuparam raf afth egal uflen arta. Arta. Arta. Trauncula.

I charge thee by the power of Wodan increase no more but shrink, just as Drychten (our lord) may crush the wyrms (dragons) of the earth and fiery drakes of the air.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Lacnunga CXXXIII 74

This is a bit of fun at translating, interpreting and playing with a late Saxon charm.

Lacnunga CXXXIII 74 
With fleogendan attre asleah . IIII. Scearpan on feower healfa mid aecenan brande geblodga thone brand weorf on weg sing this on III.

+ matheus me ducath+ marcus me conseruaeth + lucas me liberat  + hannes me adiuvet  semper amen. Contriue  deus omnem malum et nequitiam per uirtutem patris et: filii et spiritus sci sanctifica me emanuhel ihsxps libera me ab omnibus insitiis inimici benebictio
domini super caput meum potens deus in omni tempore. AMEN

Against flying venom, score on the four sides (to the four quarters) with an oaken torch, make bloody that torch, throw on the way, sing this on 3 (times):

Matthew guide me, Mark consecrate/protect me, Luke free me, John always help me, Amen. Destroy, O God all evil and wickedness, by the power of the Father and son and spirit, sanctify me, Emmanuel, Jesus? free me from all enemies resident, (the) benediction
of the Lord (be) on my head, of a powerful god in all my time, Amen.

The charm is very clearly Christian. In the first line the caller asks for fourfold help reflecting the actions to the four quarters. Then a triple aspect god is asked to destroy evil and bestow blessings. Finally the caller asks to be freed from local spirits (elves?) and asks his powerful god for life long blessings.

Could this charm be based on a pre-Christian charm and can we attempt to reconstruct any of this? The first paragraph describing the actions needs no alteration to appear pagan. We could however produce many possible pagan variations on the second paragraph. Here is a possible outline reconstruction:

Pagan reconstructed charm
Face the four quarters in turn and sing the name of a god/goddess asking for help, the four that both left their mark in the names of places on our landscape and in the days of the weeks are: Woden, Thunor, Tiw and Frig so these would seem appropriate.
Then ask a powerful god – Woden was the most important of the gods – to banish the evil and for blessing.
Finally ask Woden to banish the bad local spirit (elves in late Saxon times but perhaps scucca in pre-Christian times) and bestow blessings for all of my days.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Border Morris

Border Morris is the more dynamic style of Morris dancing that was originally practiced along the English side of the Welsh boarders. Men would dance for fun and money with blackened faces, perhaps to avoid recognition. This later has tended to be replaced by the wearing of masks. The dances are performed with short sticks which are knocked either together or on the ground. The dancers wear dark jackets now mostly of tatters, the colours of which will denote their side (team). The movements of the dancers is often quite boisterous with some modern sides going for a dark style of presentation.
Here is a link to a video of me with Bacchus Border Morris, the dance is called Tipsy:

Border Morris

We dance in winter, to have some money,
There be twelve of us, when it be sunny.
In hard winters, we dance for our dinners,
In our last lives, we must have been sinners.

Once our little gang, only had one dance,
But it could differ, quite a lot by chance.
After a few pints, masks come in handy,
But all I had, was a glass of shandy.

We be rather proud, of our short hard sticks,
We bang them and knock them, and do high kicks.
Some still insist, on fertility myth,
But only our short sticks, do end up stiff.

Spare a few pennies, for our Morris dance,
Before we collapse, in a shamanic trance.
Empty thine pockets, for a little beer,
If thee fancy, to stop me feeling queer.

Copyright Andrew Rea Summer 2010