- June 30, 2020 at 7:01 pm #11313Anonymous
Dear Dowrgi, excellent insight into looking at language and root words. You may find it interesting that Beira is written about as the Scottish goddess of winter, and has many of the hag, crone features of other winter goddesses. Beira has a story with Bridget, or goddess of summer and Angus. With all these gods and goddess there is a certain amount of fantasy and wonder stories associated with them. And you did make a good comment in one post about how myths are representations of human emotions and deeper meanings that are hard to get at any other way. So, the way I look at druidry is that there is a lot of play in it, acting, and myth, and just plain good old fun. But the word wonder describes it best. Also, these gods and goddesses and faeries can appear to different folk in different ways, and even the green man can just appear as a face in an old magical oak tree. As druids, I think we are dealing with the spirits of nature and of the land, and they can communicate to us in many ways and forms, it fact a goddess may send her ravens or owls to send us a message. an I think half the fun of being a druid is to live in an imaginative land of inspiration and empowerment. But there is another side to druidry that is more down to earth and muddy. And as druids I do think we need to get away from our writing desks and go out and camp and walk in nature, even on days when the weather is inclement. Reading about nature is not the same as being in it. Druids should be wild rovers and take lots of walks up mountains and down into glens, to where the wild flowers grow and the faeries play their music.June 30, 2020 at 7:49 pm #11315
Bearing in mind that each person is an individual and no two oak trees ever grow exactly alike, I’d say that my most spiritual moments and deepest “insights” are when I’m by the sea or in a forest by a river. As a youngster, my parents left me to my own devices a lot (in a nice way) and I used to disappear for hours wandering around the moors, woods or by the coast – a little bit, perhaps, to the annoyance of my grandparents at times! 😀
On the one hand, I’d say that anyone who’s following a druidic path should do his or her utmost to get information, study, fact check and question; unfortunately, there’s a lot of fakery, charlatanry, bad information and spurious nonsense out there and it’s very easy to fall into a trap. I know, as I said before, I’ve gone on many a wild goose chase thanks to stuff I’ve read or been told that later turned out to be wrong or just plain false. I’m not saying it’s necessarily deliberate or malicious, but very often it’s misguided. Without doubt, the Internet does not always help because just about any self-appointed authority can set up a page and start churning out stuff. On a more serious note, I do also think it’s our duty, sort of like a service we should do to our community, to be guardians or servants of the truth – especially since we’re dealing with spiritual paths that are very important in people’s lives, and people can be very fragile too.
At the end of the day, the study and the knowledge and the constant revising and updating of facts give me the tools to better appreciate the significance of many things from a Celtic and druidic perspective, but if I want to commune with something higher, then that is not something I can get from a book, for that I have to be out there staring at the vast and boundless ocean or feeling the misty rain of the moors soaking into my very being. Sometimes a simple glance and a smile from a stranger you pass in a crowded street, the smell of home baked bread, a friendly dog or a drop of dew on a leaf can speak to you in a way that would make a thousand poems pale into insignificance.
/|\July 1, 2020 at 1:46 am #11322Anonymous
Dear Dowrgi, One of the legacies we got from the 60s and 70s counterculture is do your own thing, meaning each person has to decide in his or her heart what they believe, and it is dangerous ever to tell people what to believe. And I think this is really important, and I have come to see druidry not as a group of people who hold the same beliefs, but as a group of like- minded folk who at best have some common interests. I don’t feel that we as druids have any responsibility to teach people the right or wrong way to be spiritual as a druid, but I do think we should be able to talk about how each person sees or experiences druidry. Again, it is more a group of like-minded people than a flock of sheep. I do agree with you that we should do our homework and check references for what history we can find out about the druids, but still in ultimately has to get down to what each person in his or her heart believes and not what the historical truth is. It must be plain to see, that history and religion are not always the same thing, and that spirituality and organized religion are not the same thing, and that ultimately the gods and goddesses speak to different cultures in different ways. Philology can help us to understand ancient cultures and religion, but I feel that sometimes going to the direct source of the living spirit of nature can be a good teacher also. I really do not think that you can get 20 druids in a room to agree on anything except that we are all a bunch of like-minded people. And this was the most difficult lesson I had to learn when I first came to the druid and neo-pagan community. I also think it is important to understand that the power of groups can be vary dangerous, and a group mind can run wagon wheels over a free living man. It used to get me very upset to find out that there are people who call themselves druids and do not believe in the faeries or the Celtic Gods and Goddesses. But now it does not upset me at all, and I see these on-line groups as just collections of people who are like minded, or just interested in seeing what druidry is all about. There are a lot of creative and spiritual people in the pagan community, and I have also found many of them think just like I do, and have even had experiences with the Tuatha de Danann in person like I have. So, I just don’t get upset when people express their own views, and that is what I encourage them to do. I do feel as druid bards that we should write, and play songs, and be creative, and share our gifts with the public. We are the storytellers of wonder, the modern myth writers who can touch people’s hearts and mind, restoring them to the a relationship with nature, helping them heal through the help of the gods and goddesses, returning to a sane world where nature is respected, and at the same time entertaining them like the bards in front of the home fires of old. We are part of a long line of storytellers and have great value to society as we tell our stories while the fire crackles. And the water of awen connects us and carries to our hearts desire, and the falcon in the sky makes us look up at the clouds floating in the blue sky. Best The SpellcasterJuly 1, 2020 at 2:05 am #11323Anonymous
Funny story, follow up, Dowgri, one time I was over on the OBOD site, and I put up a post about the rules for druids, and I got a message back from someone named Greywolf, who said, ” A druid will do whatever the $%#* he wants to do.”
Best, The SpellcasterJuly 1, 2020 at 8:46 am #11324david pooleParticipant
I have a copy of the Golden Bough and have just started reading it, specifically the chapters regarding corn spirits and their traditions, if you can call them that. I looked into the background to this book and yes, it appears that Frazer is not regarded as a reliable author. Having said that, I have not been able to find out why and there are already certain issues in my mind just from the few chapters which I have read so far. The amount of detail in these chapters is remarkable: is Frazer’s account really made up, and to what extent? He appears on the surface to have done quite a lot of research and the stories contain a great amount of detail. Is it possible that he fabricated all of this, and if so why did he do it? Or is there more truth in what he writes than what we know? I found his writing style to be very compelling; I was completely gripped by his accounts, whether true, false, or a combination of both. I would still recommend reading the Golden Bough as an example of great writing. I found it a lot easier to get through than The White Goddess, which I still find to be very difficult. I wonder who made up more, Graves or Frazer? Apparently the Golden Bough is better regarded as a work of art of literature than it is as a reference work.July 1, 2020 at 10:46 am #11325
The Golden Bough is incredibly well-written from a literary point of view and Sir James Frazer was a Cambridge classicist and a man of the Victorian era with that age’s love of classics and literature. Nevertheless, there are many problems with Frazer’s work, especially in terms of his methodology, or lack thereof, in putting together his materials. It’s not that he “made it up” so much as he didn’t use rigorous methods and also relied on second or third-hand accounts that may have been questionable themselves. Frazer has also been accused of cherry-picking facts gathered from all over the place to prove his theories and also there’s the whole issue with this being written by a Victorian who was somehow tracing the “progress” of societies from a “primitive” state to some kind of “enlightened” and “scientific” modernity. This is understandable given the context and times in which Frazer lived and was writing in, but it does also inevitably lead us – today – to question his conclusions and challenge their evident cultural bias. Finally, a number of Frazer’s assertions about indigenous cultures, specifically in Australia, have been challenged by scholars in those fields as inaccurate or unrepresentative of the cultures in question.
At the end of the day, the book was published in 1890, I think we ought to bear that in mind with all that it might entail.
/|\July 2, 2020 at 2:43 am #11328Anonymous
I see four goddesses. Brigit, Ceridwen, Rhiannon, and the Morrigan. Bridgit has Imbolc, And we still have seven festivals to go. So, if I give Ceridwen Lunasa, and Rhiannon Midsummer, where do I put the Morrigan. And then there is some question of Rhiannon getting Lunasa, because that is when the horse fairs would be. And some how it just seems that Ceridwen should get Halloween. I always think of the fall equinox as belonging to the faeryies, so maybe that could go to the faerie king and queen. Trees and faeries go together. That leaves Rhiannon with Lunasa, Bridgit with Imbolc, Faeries court with fall equinox, Ceridwen with Sowin, and where to put the warrior queen, Morrigan. How about Summer Solstice, becasuse many of the battles were fought in summer when it was warm. Ok, I still need Winter Solstice, and Beltain. Bridget already got Imbolc, so who at Beltain??? How about Angus Og, for the god, but what about the woman, it seems like Bridget gets this one too, but that gives her two in a row. So it can’t be Bridget. And this Bel guy is just someone I don’t feel comfortable with. And then we have to give Mannan Mac Lir a day, Maybe he should get Beltain. and going to all of these different gods and goddesses and ask them what they think is a lot of work. And I wonder if they all get along with each other. Now the ice goddess of winter will need a name and it may be Beria. Not sure, and I really don’t think the Cally works hear. And we have the Holly king and Oak King. I think the Holly king takes over at winter time. And the Oak king takes over in the summer. Still am not sure if Rhiannon or Ceridwen should get lunasa. Ceridwen eating the grain of corn that becomes Taliesin, and the grain harvest. Still she seem very Sowin. Just because of the big cauldron. she has. Well, I am sure we will figure this all out. Oh, great news, as of July 1st, up to an ounce of weed is legal in the state of Virginia, eat your hearts out my British Druid friends. I will think of you when I am having some weed cookies and herbal tea and gummy bears. Moon is more than halfway full tonight. **************The Spellcaster*****************July 2, 2020 at 12:39 pm #11329
I think that some of the difficulty you may be encountering could be down to the fact that the major festivals of the Celtic cultures of which the records have survived weren’t on the solstice or equinox dates, so the traditional materials or literature that have come down to us won’t be that helpful. It’s also difficult because there are quite a lot of differences between the Gaelic and the British traditions, as pointed out before and the traditional materials seem to indicate that customs were highly localised and by no means pan-Celtic. It might be a fruitless task trying to standardise something that was never standardised, so to speak. Another thing is that the solstices and equinoxes are basically marking or tracing the progression of the same thing throughout the year, i.e. the sun. So, in theory, the four solar festivals are all connected with ideas about the sun and not necessarily with different “entities” as such. You need to take into account the differences in calendars too, our calendar shifted traditional dates by about two weeks and the ancient Celts seemed to have used a lunar calendar with solar calculations.
/|\July 2, 2020 at 2:54 pm #11330Anonymous
I think my solution should be to just incorporate all three of the triple goddess into each festival. The celebrations should be happy times, and bringing up the Morrigan turns the whole celebration dark, even though I love the Morrigan, she is the goddess of death, and war, and change, strength in battle. So, each festival should honor the goddess, in the form of the triple goddess, There, problem solved. But if there is a festival like imbloc, then I could emphasize the goddess Bridgit a little more. The triple goddess is Rhiannon, Bridgit, and Ceridwen, yes it is very Wiccan, but I can relate to it. I also can relate to Dagda, Angus, although, Dagda is hard to relate to as a God because the is a big fat Guy, no offense Dagda. He is probably very nice, kind of like a big fat Santa. So maybe he should be emphasized at Winter Solstice. Angus gets May Day, because he is the god of love. Lugh is the craftsman god so he gets lunasa along with Rhiannon, because of the horse fairs, and all the others get all the other days left. Celebrations should be a happy time, and when it is dark in the winter we need to be cheered up. And the fall equinox goes to the elves, the shining ones. See it is hard to celebrate Boyne, when you are not around the river Boyne, for she is a river goddess. The new druidism needs to be easy to celebrate and understand for all the piglets. And just how does the Dagda get it on with a river goddess? That must be some river, the Boyne. Does the Dagda get Boyned? Do river goddesses get wet? And what is up with the river goddesses? ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^The Spellcaster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!July 2, 2020 at 3:32 pm #11331
Be careful with the concept of “the” Triple Goddesses. As I understand it, there were goddesses who were threefold, but not three separate goddesses in one, if you follow me. So Brigit is “a” triple goddess in that she has three aspects – sometimes described as sisters. The Morrigan also has three aspects, although they vary, and then there are the Gaulish Matronae, perhaps connected to the British/Welsh Modron, who may have been three aspects of the same divinity – or sisters. In Athurian legends we even find the three Gwenhwyfars (Gueniveres), albeit rather confusingly. Ériu, Banba and Fódla are three sisters, but they are distinct. We also find triplicity with male divinities, notably Lugh. The traditional materials are by no means consistent and the “obsession” of ancient Celtic spirituality with triplicity is well noted. I don’t think that there was one Tripe Goddess in ancient Celtic belief systems, but rather divinities that manifested themselves in threes. As for the maiden-mother-crone idea, it seems we have Robert Graves to thank for this, as we do for the idea of a Holly King if I’m not mistaken, and it is certainly not backed up by ancient sources.
/|\July 2, 2020 at 11:59 pm #11334Anonymous
Ok Dowrgri, this did not make it any simpler for me, but excellent points. So, maybe the way around it is to not call it the triple goddess, but I do see Rhiannon as the young woman, Bridgit as the married young bride, and Ceridwen as middle age woman, but not a crone. But then again, there is always the concept of all is one. So, in a way, Rhiannon, Bridgit, and Ceridwen are all a part of the great earth goddess. I see what you are saying but I like to keep things simple. And yes there are three parts to the Morrigan, and one part seems to be death, which I don’t think you want showing up at your party. She also has a lot of strength and weirdly, many druids are drawn to this great queen. I like her, but still, it would depend on which form she took on the decision to invite her, and a goddess is going to take whatever $#*&^)@ form she wants to take, kind of like some druids do. One thing for sure, Celtic people and their gods don’t like to be told what to do. Having Irish, Scottish, and faery blood in me, if you tell me to do something, like order me, you can be sure I will tell you to ^&#$ off. Even if it is the most sensible thing for me to do. Just say you have to, and I will not do it. I like your concept Dowrgi, of all the folklore and spirits of place. And I don’t really like the triple crone idea, and think if there is a crone goddess she is a crone most of the time and is some kind of winter ice goddess. But, as Jerry Garcia said, (Grateful Dead guitar player, and singer) “If you did not have evil, how would you know what good is,” Which I think is a profound thing to say, Hey maybe that is the secret over at the OBOD. I do think that the Holly King idea has been around over in Wales for a long long long, time. And there is that whole deal with the wren being hunted at Christmas. Which is a really mean thing to do to the wren. I mean I think a lot of village boys go around with pointy sticks and beat the poor bird to death. How horrible. But I really think there is more to the Holly king that the graves guy. In fact my clan has the holly bush as their symbol, and I have a lot of conversations with hollies. I even have them protecting my bothy, and they do a dang good job of it. But, Dowrgi, I feel that druidry should also be fun and as long as it helps people connect up with nature spirits, I don’t worry about every little thing, unless the Morrigan shows up at a dinner party and tells all the guests that they have to go with her becasuse of the Salmon Moose that they had for dinner was bad. And three is a Celtic magic number. think how many things are in threes in folktales, which of course I call folk history, and as long as I use once upon a time or a very long time ago, I don’t think I will get in trouble with Chief Greywolf for putting things way back in the past. When we cast a circle, we cast it thrice round, just to be sure the thing will work. and Graves was not all wrong, he did a lot for magic and druidry. So, I am not a Graves hater. Also, Dowrgi, I am not sure how anyone could know what the druids believed about their goddesses unless, a druid talks to a goddess in person, or the spirit ghost of an ancient druid, which is possible to do. And most witches have conversations with the goddesses. They call them up when they cast a circle and speak to them. Yes, this is all possible and is done all the time in Wicca. So, for modern druids, I don’t have a problem with the triple goddess idea, and I am not worried about it. Druidry is about inspiration and empowerment, walking in the otherworld, and living a life where the nature spirits are alive and part of life. Just walk in the forest, and there will be faeries all around you, and they love the trees. But do be respectful of them when you are in their homes in the forest. Dowrgi, now more than ever the faeries are reaching out to us because god dammit we are destroying the world environment. And this world is also their home. It is important now to bring many people to druidry however we can, so that we can combat the destruction of the earth by the corporations that don’t give a $^%& about the
environment. All these people care about is money, and their money is not going to do them or their children any good if there is no world left to live in.
Druids are blessed by the gods and goddesses, and we need to use the awen to wake people up to how important it is to live in harmony with the natural world, not a Frankenstein Monsantos genetic engineered robotic world, which is just a nightmare. druids have a sacred duty to work for peace, harmony, and respect for and with nature. And if it takes a rock concert to get people to druidry, I say rock on, and turn it up. 88888Spellcaster33333333July 3, 2020 at 7:59 am #11336
I do think that the Holly King idea has been around over in Wales for a long long long, time.
Sorry to disappoint you, but it really hasn’t. Robert Graves drew on some ideas from Frazer’s The Golden Bough, but basically the whole idea of a Holly King and an Oak King is one of Graves’s inventions – it’s not really rooted in traditional folklore. I’m not saying it’s not valid or interesting, but it needs to be borne in mind that it’s pretty much a modern notion.
Graves was not all wrong, he did a lot for magic and druidry. So, I am not a Graves hater.
… but mostly he was, and the problem is that many of Graves and Frazer’s ideas have become so rooted that people accept them without questioning. It’s not about “hating” someone, critique of scholarship and work is not a personal attack on the author.
Hunting the wren is a bit strange because at least in Cornwall, the robin and the wren were usually considered taboo in the sense of not to be harmed, it’s paradoxical that the wren hunt existed, albeit on one day of the year. The tradition, however, may not be all that “Celtic”, similar traditions are also found in different parts of France and Spain. Who knows? Nevertheless, as much as we find it abhorrent today, practically all ancient societies performed some form of animal sacrifice, including Celtic societies.
/|\July 3, 2020 at 10:39 pm #11343Anonymous
Sir Dowrgi, will be back to dispute this later, as soon as I find my book Hunting the Wren. And I will get some documentation to counter your alternative insight.
I will have to go hunting for the book. And be back for the joust soon, will be in full armor. I have lots of books around my bothy, and may take a while to counter this idea of yours about the wren and the Holly king. but from what I remember, the wren represented winter, and killing the wren represented that summer is on the way. But you may be right about where it was, and it may not have been in Wales but somewhere down around Cornwall, I am surprised that you do not know more about this subject. And I am sure that those two author did not invent the story, just think about it for minute and you will start to understand how that just could not be so. But the proof is on its way, and the truth of the matter shall soon be known.
Until then, I will be hunting the wren and seeking the holly king. Be of good cheer THE SpellcasterJuly 4, 2020 at 8:02 am #11345
At least in South West Britain and Cornwall, hunting the wren is a long faded memory basically. The point was that it’s strange, even paradoxical, given that an old adage goes that “he who harms the robin (ruddock) or the ran (wren), shall ne’er prosper be he boy or man“. Shooting birds on St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) was something that happened, but thankfully stopped. I think it’s a tradition that remained stronger in Ireland, although there is also a particular Manx tradition connected with the fair folk. The folklore around both the robin and the wren seem to be more rooted in Christian mythology and lore to be honest.
In Wales, there was a tradition of mock battles between summer and winter at Calan Haf or May Day. Winter would use blackthorn sticks and Summer would use willow and birch sticks, Summer would win and would be crowned May King to accompany the May Queen. Interestingly, the pole was always made of birch. Archetypal battles of sorts may be found in both Welsh and Irish literature; for example, Arawn and Hafgan, but there’s not much to indicate unequivocally a Holly King and an Oak King as Graves would have it. The difficulty with all of this is it is not clear just how old these traditions are, what they were influenced by and how specifically Celtic they may be or, for that matter, what pre-Christian, pre-Roman lore they conserve. That doesn’t invalidate them as traditions by any means, but it’s important to have a clear idea of their cultural influences and context. If we go with the idea that May Day seems to have been the most important festival for the British Celts/Britons, perhaps we should look at Belenos and Belisama.
/|\July 4, 2020 at 6:24 pm #11350Anonymous
Dear Sir Dowrgi, thank you for all of that information, and I like the way you think about it. I really enjoyed reading your post on the wren and robin. I am still looking for my book HUNTING THE WREN, an hope that will shine some more light on it. I find the whole subject to be fun and fascinating. Also, I don’t like it when anyone hurts and animal, and that is why I don’t like fox hunting, because what about the poor fox. However, I did get some bear spray today to carry with me when I am walking in the VA state parks because we have black bears here and they can maul you and also climb trees. It is best not to upset the black bears, and not run, because then you become prey. And you get in big trouble if you get between mum and baby bear, not a good place to be. And then I have to watch out for the mountain bikers, but it is all worth it, and I love walking in nature. Best William
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