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, 30 December 2017

Nerthus Procession


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


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

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:,-0.0954266,3a,75y,118.77h,105.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1stBpACKT2y-w3yurezg4Mmg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656


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.

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.