Earthrites

Wherever you are is the entry point – Kabir

December 23, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

The Imaginal Cells

on the Music Box: Ship of Fools – Out There Somewhere…









Hope your weekend goes well. Off to work now, but hopefully an early day. Take Care…

G

on the menu:

The Links: Molecular Wear ~ New Order in the 80’s… memories are made of these…

The Articles: Imaginal Cells, and What is up with Tribe.net?

Poetry: William Butler Yeats…

Illustrations: Various Mythic Motifs from The Celtic Dream Time….

____________

The Links:

Molecular Wear…

The Wind Cries Mary…

Huston Smith interview

New Order in the 80’s… memories are made of these…

_________________

The Quotes:

“About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.”

“Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies.”

“A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat.”

“Nancy Reagan fell down and broke her hair.”

“It is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.”

“I can’t bring myself to say, ‘Well, I guess I’ll be toddling along.’ It isn’t that I can’t toddle. It’s just that I can’t guess I’ll toddle.”

“He who builds a better mousetrap these days runs into material shortages, patent-infringement suits, work stoppages, collusive bidding, discount discrimination–and taxes.”

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.”

“Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting.”

__________________

Imaginal Cells



Have you ever noticed a change that needed to happen at work that would make things run smoother, would result in more customer satisfaction, would create more profit, or would simply improve employee moral without negatively affecting productivity? Did your manager shut you down and completely ignore your suggestions? Have you ever had a vision for how your local community or state could make some positive changes to clean up the environment, ease traffic congestion, keep the teenagers out of trouble, or help the homeless only to have the local politicians and officials bury your ideas in red tape and governmental double-talk? Have you ever had spiritual ideals that were incredibly inclusive and loving, yet people were so close-minded that they couldn’t even see the beauty of what you were envisioning for them? Have you ever pinpointed the root causes of your family’s dysfunctional behaviors and beat your head against a wall trying to get them to heal, grow, and change along with you? Have you ever felt like the Lone Ranger?

After a caterpillar buries itself inside its cocoon, it waits to morph into a butterfly. The caterpillar doesn’t simply shrink a bit and sprout wings. Instead, it sort of disintegrates into a puddle of ooze within the cocoon. If we were to open the cocoon halfway through the process, we wouldn’t find a half-caterpillar half-butterfly type creature, but a blob of goop. The goop is made up of a bunch of individual cells that are all basically the same type of oozy cells. For whatever reason, these new cells start popping up. They are not the original cells changing into these new cells, but rather they seem to come out of nowhere. These new cells are called imaginal cells and they are so completely different from the original ooze cells that they are thought to be a virus or some other form of enemy so the ooze cells begin attacking the imaginal cells. However, even though the imaginal cells are being killed off for not fitting in, they still keep showing up, more and more of them. Eventually, the imaginal cells begin to find each other and cluster together. Like attracts like, and the clusters begin to join up with other clusters. The original cells still keep attacking them but they continue to multiply and cluster together. Eventually, they get to be a large enough community and they switch gears from simply being a group of like-minded cells into the programming cells of the butterfly. Some imaginal cells start changing into wing cells, some start changing into antenna cells, some start changing into digestive tract cells, and so on. They are no longer imaginal cells but become butterfly anatomy cells. As we all know, if left alone to do his thing, the butterfly eventually emerges as a completely new entity from the original caterpillar. Do they hold the same memories, life lessons, and consciousness? Who knows? One would think that for survival of the species, the butterfly would still retain whatever knowledge the caterpillar had learned before entering into the cocoon state.

Sometimes we are led to play the role of imaginal cell in our little corner of the world. Being one of the very first of the imaginal cells can be a painful road to travel. It’s different later on down the road as your cause begins to gather steam and becomes more popular. Imagine what the first women who were fighting for our right to vote went through compared to what we go through today trying to get equal pay and respect for a job well done. Imagine what the fighting for the right to even create a country based on inalienable rights and personal freedoms compared to what we go through just trying to maintain our rights and define what those freedoms are. Minority groups often feel like a cluster of imaginal cells being wrongly attacked just for being different. The masses assume that they must be the enemy; why else would they be so different? Being an outspoken lone wolf with a vision for big change away from the status quo can be scary and even dangerous.

I could tell you to hold true to your visions and to fight to the death. I could tell you that you should never ever allow anyone to stop you from making your dreams of a better world come true. But the truth is, we are not always committed to our visions. If you are working for a company that is growing stagnant and isn’t willing to adapt and grow with the times, then maybe your energy and brilliance is wasted on trying to fix them or change them. Maybe you should move on to another company, start your own business doing things ‘right’ according to your new vision, or simply let it go if all that really matters is that paycheck that allows you to feed and clothe your family. Not everyone who has a beautiful vision has the heart and soul of an activist within. Some things are definitely worth fighting to the death for while others are simply pleasant ideas. Only you can decide for yourself which of your imaginal cell type ideas are worth your time and energy.

If you are an imaginal cell in your family, in your workplace, in your community, in your political system, in your spiritual viewpoints, in your global world; know that you are not alone and know that what you do to improve life for your fellow man does matter and it does add weight to the collective consciousness of humanity. You may feel like you are completely alone in your battle, but know that there are others who agree, who are also dying for your cause, or who are so inspired by seeing you put it all on the line that they are finally brave enough to step forward making their agreement with you known.

If the imaginal cell is a quiet little thought somewhere in the back corner of your mind telling you that you could make huge changes in yourself to become less like the caterpillar and more like the butterfly, then know that you are not alone. Many people have done it before you and many more will follow your lead. You will know if you are meant to grow, morph, and change into some new and improved version of yourself by the reoccurring theme of those tiny little imaginal cells creating inspirational thoughts within your mind. The reoccurring thoughts will both haunt you and inspire you. They will cluster together creating themes of healing change, themes of growth, and themes of becoming something completely different then who you used to be. Fear not, for you are simply undergoing the butterfly’s experience. You too will feel alone in the dark unsure of what is you and what is not you. You too will have to claim that which is beautiful within and you too will have to fight your own way out of your self-imposed prison to strengthen your wings so that you can fly for the entire world to see, inspiring others to look within at their own imaginal cells.

_________________

Big Changes at Tribe.net



The very definition of a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech is when legislation or enforcement of new laws are so potentially onerous that people and organization self-censor out of fear and potential liability. Today, the users of Tribe.net were one of the first groups on the internet to feel that cool breeze, as Tribe have instituted their new Terms of Use with amendments to the provisions regarding mature public content, and presumably, any content deemed offensive by a Tribe user.

Of course, you know who to thank, ultimately. The changes to the obscenity code recommend by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and recently passed into law have jurisdiction over a wide range of potential content, as the Supreme Court has defined ‘community standards of decency’ the ultimate standard in an obscenity hearing. While Tribe.net has a strong local user base, and naturally our standards of decency here in the Bay Area are rather tolerant, this opens up the potential for a user in the flyover states to deem content produced here obscene, since they can access it from anywhere in the world. Blogger and EFF attorney Jason Schultz explains:

What happened at Tribe is what we can expect in a world where the FBI dictates the terms of what freedom of expression means. It’s disappointing that Tribe overreacted like it did and banned far more speech than necessary, but one also has to realize, in a world where you can go to jail for what you help publish on the Internet, there’s a serious chilling effect from laws like 2257.

Our own SFist Violet has been all over this story, posting on her own blog after a conference call with Tribe. She explained her own point of view as a producer and moderator of mature content on Tribe to Irina Slutsky of GETV in this video interview, and more recently discussed the changes with Altporn.net. She’s rather distraught over the change, and has asserted that she’ll be removing links to Tribe content from her own blog.

After the jump, we asked some questions of Tribe’s CEO, and have the official response. We also culled some comments from Tribe users around the web on the changes, one of whom suggests that the move may be related to the pending sale of Knight-Ridder, an investor in Tribe (along with the Washington Post). If you’re a Tribe user and want to check ot the new rules, refer to Tribe’s updated FAQ. As Violet’s stressed to us, when someone wants to attack free speech, they generally go after porn first and politics next.

Trust us, at SFist, we understand the potential danger behind publishing content that could be punished by law. There are real issues of civil and criminal liability for any internet publisher. And remember, Tribe is a local company that has introduced a number of technological innovations in the sphere of social networking and building community online. Needless to say, they’re looking towards the positives in the situation:

Why are we doing this now?

We spent quite a bit of time thinking about how we wanted tribe to be an online community that was welcoming to all and yet celebrates diversity. To us this meant involving the community in identifying offensive conduct and establishing community standards consistent with our terms of use while encouraging diversity and a positive spirit of community. We also wanted to provide improved control to members to establish privacy around their content. This resulted in a comprehensive product plan which we have been developing for some time. As you may know, the legal environment did tighten with promulgation of 18 USC 2257 in June while more restrictive legislation has been introduced.

What changes will be made?

The most important changes are two. We’ve given members lots of control over the privacy level of the content they post–whether to show something to everybody or just friends, for example. And we’ve empowered the community itself to react to content by flagging it appropriately, with a mechanism that’s similar in spirit to those of other community sites.

Reaction from users

With millions of people visiting tribe every month for a variety of reasons, of course there will be those who object to any change. The tribe community has always been a expressive group and we expect that to continue. But we think the community as a whole will understand these objectives and changes.

Users, however — especialy those who will have to begin sifting through their content — are being given the choice of working to tone it down, leave entirely, or be booted from the network. And they’re not happy about it:

It’s a truly Whisky Tango Foxtrot move, but it’s precisely what the government (particularly the Gonzales Justice Department) want to see happen. How long before LiveJournal (or Six Apart, who now own LJ) decide to apply this too, considering some of the stuff that pops up on LJ?

Insanity. The air is going to be thick with legal cases before long, I’m sure… Papa Bear’s Cave

According to Blue, 2257 would prohibit everyone in the US from seeing images such as the prison photos from Abu Ghraib. The law is so broad, it can include bloggers, publishers, television and Hollywood. A political or human rights tribe would be wiped off the Tribe.net map for failing to conform to the laws, by including an Abu prison photo in their photo album.

If this is all correct, does that mean that all dating sites would need to keep track of the ages of all it’s members and all of their photos? Yahoo Personals asked me for my birthday yesterday, perhaps that’s part of the new law… David Evans, Corante

…But while the Friendster “Friendstapo” (as the Friendster user Wired interviewed called those on Friendster.com who censored language and audited photos) was bad, that was milk toast compared to what Tribe.net has in mind. And everybody but Tribe seems to know it.

The exodus is already being planned, according to moderator scuttlebutt, and it sounds to be big enough that even Tribe’s dense management will feel the breeze; which is sure to make their parent company, Knight-Ridder, wince. If Knight-Ridder thought Tribe was a money drain before, after December 20th, when all those moderators with all those Tribe members hit the delete key and move on, it’s going to feel like a broken dam. Advertising dollars (or “impressions”, as it’s called in the web world) by the tens of thousands (or more), gone! And getting that progressive, open minded market segment back will be a very hard sell… Michael Matson

…Tribe is not a producer of content, they’re a forum for end-users to communicate and share content they create or collect. What’s next? AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo ban jpeg attachments because there’s no way to enforce age documentation for amateur nudie shots swapped by users of those free email services? Xeni Jardi

__________________

Poetry: William Butler Yeats







THE WITHERING OF THE BOUGHS.

I cried when the moon was murmuring to the birds,

‘Let peewit call and curlew cry where they will,

I long for your merry and tender and pitiful words,

For the roads are unending and there is no place to my mind.’

The honey-pale Moon lay low on the sleepy hill

And I fell asleep upon lonely Echtge of streams;

No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind,

The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

I know of the leafy paths that the witches take,

Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool, p. 22

And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake;

And of apple islands where the Danaan kind

Wind and unwind their dances when the light grows cool

On the island lawns, their feet where the pale foam gleams;

No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind,

The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

I know of the sleepy country, where swans fly round

Coupled with golden chains and sing as they fly,

A king and a queen are wandering there, and the sound

Has made them so happy and hopeless, so deaf and so blind

With wisdom, they wander till all the years have gone by;

I know, and the curlew and peewit on Echtge of streams;

No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind,

The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

——————-

UNDER THE MOON.

I have no happiness in dreaming of Brycelinde;

Nor Avalon the grass green hollow, nor Joyous Isle,

Where one found Lancelot crazed and hid him for a while,

Nor Ulad when Naoise had thrown a sail upon the wind,

Nor lands that seem too dim to be burdens on the heart,

Land-under-Wave, where out of the moon’s light and the sun’s

Seven old sisters wind the threads of the long lived ones,

Land-of-the-Tower, where Aengus has thrown the gates apart, p. 28

And Wood-of-Wonders, where one kills an ox at dawn

To find it when night falls laid on a golden bier:

Therein are many queens like Branwen, and Guinivere;

And Niam, and Laban, and Fand, who could change to an otter or fawn

And the wood-woman whose love was changed to a blue-eyed hawk;

And whether I go in my dreams by woodland, or dun, or shore,

Or on the unpeopled waves with kings to pull at the oar,

I hear the harp string praise them or hear their mournful talk.

Because of a story I heard under the thin horn

Of the third moon, that hung between the night and the day,

To dream of women whose beauty was folded in dismay,

Even in an old story, is a burden not to be borne.

—————–

THE RIDER FROM THE NORTH.

From the play of The Country of the Young.

There’s many a strong farmer

Whose heart would break in two

If he could see the townland

That we are riding to;

Boughs have their fruit and blossom,

At all times of the year,

Rivers are running over

With red beer and brown beer.

An old man plays the bagpipes

In a golden and silver wood,

Queens, their eyes blue like the ice,

Are dancing in a crowd. p. 31

The little fox he murmured,

‘O what is the world’s bane?’

The sun was laughing sweetly,

The moon plucked at my rein;

But the little red fox murmured,

‘O do not pluck at his rein,

He is riding to the townland

That is the world’s bane.’

When their hearts are so high,

That they would come to blows,

They unhook their heavy swords

From golden and silver boughs;

But all that are killed in battle

Awaken to life again;

It is lucky that their story

Is not known among men.

For O the strong farmers

That would let the spade lie,

For their hearts would be like a cup

That somebody had drunk dry. p. 32

The little fox he: murmured,

‘O what is the world’s bane?’

The sun was laughing sweetly,

The moon plucked at my rein;

But the little red fox murmured,

‘O do not pluck at his rein,

He is riding to the townland

That is the world’s bane.’

Michael will unhook his trumpet

From a bough overhead,

And blow a little noise

When the supper has been spread.

Gabriel will come from the water

With a fish tail, and talk

Of wonders that have happened

On wet roads where men walk,

And lift up an old horn

Of hammered silver, and drink

Till he has fallen asleep

Upon the starry brink. p. 33

The little fox he murmured,

‘O what is the world’s bane?

The sun was laughing sweetly,

The moon plucked at my rein;

But the little red fox murmured,

‘O do not pluck at his rein,

He is riding to the townland,

That is the world’s bane.’

_______________

December 21, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

The Coming of Arthur…

SOLUS-IUIL NA SIORRUIDHEACHD

DHE, thug mis a fois na h-oidhch an raoir

Chon solus aoibh an la an diugh,

Bi da mo thoir bho sholus ur an la an diugh,

Chon solus iul na siorruidheachd,

O! bho sholus ur an la an diugh,

Gu solus iul na siorruidheachd.

THE GUIDING LIGHT OF ETERNITY

O GOD, who broughtst me from the rest of last night

Unto the joyous light of this day,

Be Thou bringing me from the new light of this day

Unto the guiding light of eternity.

Oh! from the new light of this day

Unto the guiding light of eternity













Greetings on Thursday… I think you will find an interesting grouping, almost Victorian in choices made for today.

On the menu:

The Links: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes to The Equiv of smoking 80mg of DMT for the first time

The Story: THE FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE OF FAERY by William Butler Yeats

The Poem: THE COMING OF ARTHUR by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

I hope you will enjoy the selections today!

Gwyllm

______________

The Links:

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

————–

Local 404 Non-Conformist Union…

—————

The Equiv of smoking 80mg of DMT for the first time…. (turn on your speakers) Think of them as the two sides of the self….

___________

THE FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE OF FAERY

William Butler Yeats…



THOSE that see the people of faery most often, and so have the most of their wisdom, are often very poor, but often, too, they are thought to have a strength beyond that of man, as though one came, when one has passed the threshold of trance, to those sweet waters where Maeldun saw the dishevelled eagles bathe and become young again.

There was an old Martin Roland, who lived near a bog a little out of Gort, who saw them often from his young days, and always towards the end of his life, though I would hardly call him their friend. He told me a few months before his death that ‘they’ would not let him sleep at night with crying things at him in Irish, and with playing their pipes. He had asked a friend of his what he should do, and the friend had told him to buy a flute, and play on it when they began to shout or to play on their pipes, and maybe they would give up annoying him; and he did, and they always went out into the field when he began to play. He showed me the pipe, and blew through it, and made a noise, but he did not know how to play; and then he showed me where he had pulled his chimney down, because one of them used to sit up on it and play on the pipes. A friend of his and mine went to see him a little time ago, for she heard that ‘three of them’ had told him he was to die. He said they had gone away after warning him, and that the children (children they had ‘taken,’ I suppose) who used to come with them, and play about the house with them, had ‘gone to some other place,’ because ‘they found the house too cold for them, maybe'; and he died a week after he had said these things.

His neighbours were not certain that he really saw anything in his old age, but they were all certain that he saw things when he was a young man. His brother said, ‘Old he is, and it’s all in his brain the things he sees. If he was a young man we might believe in him.’ But he was improvident, and never got on with his brothers. A neighbour said, ‘The poor man, they say they are mostly in his head now, but sure he was a fine fresh man twenty years ago the night he saw them linked in two lots, like young slips of girls walking together. It was the night they took away Fallon’s little girl.’ And she told how Fallon’s little girl had met a woman ‘with red hair that was as bright as silver,’ who took her away. Another neighbour, who was herself ‘clouted over the ear’ by one of them for going into a fort where they were, said, ‘I believe it’s mostly in his head they are; and when he stood in the door last night I said, “The wind does be always in my ears, and the sound of it never stops,” to make him think it was the same with him; but he says, “I hear them singing and making music all the time, and one of them is after bringing out a little flute, and it’s on it he’s playing to them.” And this I know, that when he pulled down the chimney where he said the piper used to be sitting and playing, he lifted up stones, and he an old man, that I could not have lifted when I was young and strong.’

A friend has sent me from Ulster an account of one who was on terms of true friendship with the people of faery. It has been taken down accurately, for my friend, who had heard the old woman’s story some time before I heard of it, got her to tell it over again, and wrote it out at once. She began by telling the old woman that she did not like being in the house alone because of the ghosts and fairies; and the old woman said, ‘There’s nothing to be frightened about in faeries, miss. Many’s the time I talked to a woman myself that was a faery, or something of the sort, and no less and more than mortal anyhow. She used to come about your grandfather’s house–your mother’s grandfather, that is–in my young days. But you’ll have heard all about her.’ My friend said that she had heard about her, but a long time before, and she wanted to hear about her again; and the old woman went on, ‘Well dear, the very first time ever I heard word of her coming about was when your uncle–that is, your mother’s uncle–Joseph married, and building a house for his wife, for he brought her first to his father’s, up at the house by the Lough. My father and us were living nigh hand to where the new house was to be built, to overlook the men at their work. My father was a weaver, and brought his looms and all there into a cottage that was close by.

The foundations were marked out, and the building stones lying about, but the masons had not come yet; and one day I was standing with my mother foment the house, when we sees a smart wee woman coming up the field over the burn to us. I was a bit of a girl at the time, playing about and sporting myself, but I mind her as well as if I saw her there now!’ My friend asked how the woman was dressed, and the old woman said, ‘It was a gray cloak she had on, with a green cashmere skirt and a black silk handkercher tied round her head, like the country women did use to wear in them times.’ My friend asked, ‘How wee was she?’ And the old woman said, ‘Well now, she wasn’t wee at all when I think of it, for all we called her the Wee Woman. She was bigger than many a one, and yet not tall as you would say. She was like a woman about thirty, brown-haired and round in the face. She was like Miss Betty, your grandmother’s sister, and Betty was like none of the rest, not like your grandmother, nor any of them. She was round and fresh in the face, and she never was married, and she never would take any man; and we used to say that the Wee Woman–her being like Betty–was, maybe, one of their own people that had been took off before she grew to her full height, and for that she was always following us and warning and foretelling. This time she walks straight over to where my mother was standing. “Go over to the Lough this minute!”–ordering her like that–“Go over to the Lough, and tell Joseph that he must change the foundation of this house to where I’ll show you fornent the thornbush. That is where it is to be built, if he is to have luck and prosperity, so do what I’m telling ye this minute.” The house was being built on “the path” I suppose–the path used by the people of faery in their journeys, and my mother brings Joseph down and shows him, and he changes the foundations, the way he was bid, but didn’t bring it exactly to where was pointed, and the end of that was, when he come to the house, his own wife lost her life with an accident that come to a horse that hadn’t room to turn right with a harrow between the bush and the wall. The Wee Woman was queer and angry when next she come, and says to us, “He didn’t do as I bid him, but he’ll see what he’ll see.”‘ My friend asked where the woman came from this time, and if she was dressed as before, and the woman said, ‘Always the same way, up the field beyant the burn. It was a thin sort of shawl she had about her in summer, and a cloak about her in winter; and many and many a time she came, and always it was good advice she was giving to my mother, and warning her what not to do if she would have good luck. There was none of the other children of us ever seen her unless me; but I used to be glad when I seen her coming up the burn, and would run out and catch her by the hand and the cloak, and call to my mother, “Here’s the Wee Woman!” No man body ever seen her. My father used to be wanting to, and was angry with my mother and me, thinking we were telling lies and talking foolish like. And so one day when she had come, and was sitting by the fireside talking to my mother, I slips out to the field where he was digging. “Come up,” says I, “if ye want to see her. She’s sitting at the fireside now, talking to mother.” So in he comes with me and looks round angry like and sees nothing, and he up with a broom that was near hand and hits me a crig with it. “Take that now!” says he, “for making a fool of me!” and away with him as fast as he could, and queer and angry with me. The Wee Woman says to me then, “Ye got that now for bringing people to see me. No man body ever seen me, and none ever will.”

‘There was one day, though, she gave him a queer fright anyway, whether he had seen her or not. He was in among the cattle when it happened, and he comes up to the house all trembling like. “Don’t let me hear you say another word of your Wee Woman. I have got enough of her this time.” Another time, all the same, he was up Gortin to sell horses, and before he went off, in steps the Wee Woman and says she to my mother, holding out a sort of a weed, “Your man is gone up by Gortin, and there’s a bad fright waiting him coming home, but take this and sew it in his coat, and he’ll get no harm by it.” My mother takes the herb, but thinks to herself, “Sure there’s nothing in it,” and throws it on the floor, and lo and behold, and sure enough! coming home from Gortin, my father got as bad a fright as ever he got in his life. What it was I don’t right mind, but anyway he was badly damaged by it. My mother was in a queer way, frightened of the Wee Woman, after what she done, and sure enough the next time she was angry. “Ye didn’t believe me,” she said, “and ye threw the herb I gave ye in the fire, and I went far enough for it.” There was another time she came and told how William Hearne was dead in America. “Go over,” she says, “to the Lough, and say that William is dead, and he died happy, and this was the last Bible chapter ever he read,” and with that she gave the verse and chapter. “Go,” she says, “and tell them to read them at the next class meeting, and that I held his head while he died.” And sure enough word came after that how William had died on the day she named. And, doing as she did about the chapter and hymn, they never had such a prayer-meeting as that.

One day she and me and my mother was standing talking, and she was warning her about something, when she says of a sudden, “Here comes Miss Letty in all her finery, and it’s time for me to be off.” And with that she gave a swirl round on her feet, and raises up in the air, and round and round she goes, and up and up, as if it was a winding stairs she went up, only far swifter. She went up and up, till she was no bigger than a bird up against the clouds, singing and singing the whole time the loveliest music I ever heard in my life from that day to this. It wasn’t a hymn she was singing, but poetry, lovely poetry, and me and my mother stands gaping up, and all of a tremble. “What is she at all, mother?” says I. “Is it an angel she is, or a faery woman, or what?” With that up come Miss Letty, that was your grandmother, dear, but Miss Letty she was then, and no word of her being anything else, and she wondered to see us gaping up that way, till me and my mother told her of it. She went on gay-dressed then, and was lovely looking. She was up the lane where none of us could see her coming forward when the Wee Woman rose up in that queer way, saying, “Here comes Miss Letty in all her finery.” Who knows to what far country she went, or to see whom dying?

‘It was never after dark she came, but daylight always, as far as I mind, but wanst, and that was on a Hallow Eve night. My mother was by the fire, making ready the supper; she had a duck down and some apples. In slips the Wee Woman, “I’m come to pass my Hallow Eve with you,” says she. “That’s right,” says my mother, and thinks to herself, “I can give her her supper nicely.” Down she sits by the fire a while. “Now I’ll tell you where you’ll bring my supper,” says she. “In the room beyond there beside the loom–set a chair in and a plate.” “When ye’re spending the night, mayn’t ye as well sit by the table and eat with the rest of us?” “Do what you’re bid, and set whatever you give me in the room beyant. I’ll eat there and nowhere else.” So my mother sets her a plate of duck and some apples, whatever was going, in where she bid, and we got to our supper and she to hers; and when we rose I went in, and there, lo and behold ye, was her supper-plate a bit ate of each portion, and she clean gone!’

________________

THE COMING OF ARTHUR

by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON



Leodogran, the King of Cameliard,

Had one fair daughter, and none other child;

And she was fairest of all flesh on earth,

Guinevere, and in her his one delight.

For many a petty king ere Arthur came

Ruled in this isle, and ever waging war

Each upon other, wasted all the land;

And still from time to time the heathen host

Swarmed overseas, and harried what was left.

And so there grew great tracts of wilderness,

Wherein the beast was ever more and more,

But man was less and less, till Arthur came.

For first Aurelius lived and fought and died,

And after him King Uther fought and died,

But either failed to make the kingdom one.

And after these King Arthur for a space,

And through the puissance of his Table Round,

Drew all their petty princedoms under him,

Their king and head, and made a realm, and reigned.

And thus the land of Cameliard was waste,

Thick with wet woods, and many a beast therein,

And none or few to scare or chase the beast;

So that wild dog, and wolf and boar and bear

Came night and day, and rooted in the fields,

And wallowed in the gardens of the King.

And ever and anon the wolf would steal

The children and devour, but now and then,

Her own brood lost or dead, lent her fierce teat

To human sucklings; and the children, housed

In her foul den, there at their meat would growl,

And mock their foster-mother on four feet,

Till, straightened, they grew up to wolf-like men,

Worse than the wolves. And King Leodogran

Groaned for the Roman legions here again,

And Caesar’s eagle: then his brother king,

Urien, assailed him: last a heathen horde,

Reddening the sun with smoke and earth with blood,

And on the spike that split the mother’s heart

Spitting the child, brake on him, till, amazed,

He knew not whither he should turn for aid.

But–for he heard of Arthur newly crowned,

Though not without an uproar made by those

Who cried, “He is not Uther’s son”–the King

Sent to him, saying, “Arise, and help us thou!

For here between the man and beast we die.”

And Arthur yet had done no deed of arms,

But heard the call, and came: and Guinevere

Stood by the castle walls to watch him pass;

But since he neither wore on helm or shield

The golden symbol of his kinglihood,

But rode a simple knight among his knights,

And many of these in richer arms than he,

She saw him not, or marked not, if she saw,

One among many, though his face was bare.

But Arthur, looking downward as he past,

Felt the light of her eyes into his life

Smite on the sudden, yet rode on, and pitched

His tents beside the forest. Then he drave

The heathen; after, slew the beast, and felled

The forest, letting in the sun, and made

Broad pathways for the hunter and the knight

And so returned.

For while he lingered there,

A doubt that ever smouldered in the hearts

Of those great Lords and Barons of his realm

Flashed forth and into war: for most of these,

Colleaguing with a score of petty kings,

Made head against him, crying, “Who is he

That he should rule us? who hath proven him

King Uther’s son? for lo! we look at him,

And find nor face nor bearing, limbs nor voice,

Are like to those of Uther whom we knew.

This is the son of Gorloïs, not the King;

This is the son of Anton, not the King.”

And Arthur, passing thence to battle, felt

Travail, and throes and agonies of the life,

Desiring to be joined with Guinevere;

And thinking as he rode, “Her father said

That there between the man and beast they die.

Shall I not lift her from this land of beasts

Up to my throne, and side by side with me?

What happiness to reign a lonely king,

Vext–O ye stars that shudder over me,

O earth that soundest hollow under me,

Vext with waste dreams? for saving I be joined

To her that is the fairest under heaven,

I seem as nothing in the mighty world,

And cannot will my will, nor work my work

Wholly, nor make myself in mine own realm

Victor and lord. But were I joined with her,

Then might we live together as one life,

And reigning with one will in everything

Have power on this dark land to lighten it,

And power on this dead world to make it live.”

Thereafter–as he speaks who tells the tale–

When Arthur reached a field-of-battle bright

With pitched pavilions of his foe, the world

Was all so clear about him, that he saw

The smallest rock far on the faintest hill,

And even in high day the morning star.

So when the King had set his banner broad,

At once from either side, with trumpet-blast,

And shouts, and clarions shrilling unto blood,

The long-lanced battle let their horses run.

And now the Barons and the kings prevailed,

And now the King, as here and there that war

Went swaying; but the Powers who walk the world

Made lightnings and great thunders over him,

And dazed all eyes, till Arthur by main might,

And mightier of his hands with every blow,

And leading all his knighthood threw the kings

Carados, Urien, Cradlemont of Wales,

Claudias, and Clariance of Northumberland,

The King Brandagoras of Latangor,

With Anguisant of Erin, Morganore,

And Lot of Orkney. Then, before a voice

As dreadful as the shout of one who sees

To one who sins, and deems himself alone

And all the world asleep, they swerved and brake

Flying, and Arthur called to stay the brands

That hacked among the flyers, “Ho! they yield!”

So like a painted battle the war stood

Silenced, the living quiet as the dead,

And in the heart of Arthur joy was lord.

He laughed upon his warrior whom he loved

And honoured most. “Thou dost not doubt me King,

So well thine arm hath wrought for me today.”

“Sir and my liege,” he cried, “the fire of God

Descends upon thee in the battle-field:

I know thee for my King!” Whereat the two,

For each had warded either in the fight,

Sware on the field of death a deathless love.

And Arthur said, “Man’s word is God in man:

Let chance what will, I trust thee to the death.”

Then quickly from the foughten field he sent

Ulfius, and Brastias, and Bedivere,

His new-made knights, to King Leodogran,

Saying, “If I in aught have served thee well,

Give me thy daughter Guinevere to wife.”

Whom when he heard, Leodogran in heart

Debating– “How should I that am a king,

However much he holp me at my need,

Give my one daughter saving to a king,

And a king’s son?”–lifted his voice, and called

A hoary man, his chamberlain, to whom

He trusted all things, and of him required

His counsel: “Knowest thou aught of Arthur’s birth?”

Then spake the hoary chamberlain and said,

“Sir King, there be but two old men that know:

And each is twice as old as I; and one

Is Merlin, the wise man that ever served

King Uther through his magic art; and one

Is Merlin’s master (so they call him) Bleys,

Who taught him magic; but the scholar ran

Before the master, and so far, that Bleys

Laid magic by, and sat him down, and wrote

All things and whatsoever Merlin did

In one great annal-book, where after-years

Will learn the secret of our Arthur’s birth.”

To whom the King Leodogran replied,

“O friend, had I been holpen half as well

By this King Arthur as by thee today,

Then beast and man had had their share of me:

But summon here before us yet once more

Ulfius, and Brastias, and Bedivere.”

Then, when they came before him, the King said,

“I have seen the cuckoo chased by lesser fowl,

And reason in the chase: but wherefore now

Do these your lords stir up the heat of war,

Some calling Arthur born of Gorloïs,

Others of Anton? Tell me, ye yourselves,

Hold ye this Arthur for King Uther’s son?”

And Ulfius and Brastias answered, “Ay.”

Then Bedivere, the first of all his knights

Knighted by Arthur at his crowning, spake–

For bold in heart and act and word was he,

Whenever slander breathed against the King–







“Sir, there be many rumours on this head:

For there be those who hate him in their hearts,

Call him baseborn, and since his ways are sweet,

And theirs are bestial, hold him less than man:

And there be those who deem him more than man,

And dream he dropt from heaven: but my belief

In all this matter–so ye care to learn–

Sir, for ye know that in King Uther’s time

The prince and warrior Gorlois, he that held

Tintagil castle by the Cornish sea,

Was wedded with a winsome wife, Ygerne:

And daughters had she borne him,–one whereof,

Lot’s wife, the Queen of Orkney, Bellicent,

Hath ever like a loyal sister cleaved

To Arthur,–but a son she had not borne.

And Uther cast upon her eyes of love:

But she, a stainless wife to Gorloïs,

So loathed the bright dishonour of his love,

That Gorloïs and King Uther went to war:

And overthrown was Gorloïs and slain.

Then Uther in his wrath and heat besieged

Ygerne within Tintagil, where her men,

Seeing the mighty swarm about their walls,

Left her and fled, and Uther entered in,

And there was none to call to but himself.

So, compassed by the power of the King,

Enforced she was to wed him in her tears,

And with a shameful swiftness: afterward,

Not many moons, King Uther died himself,

Moaning and wailing for an heir to rule

After him, lest the realm should go to wrack.

And that same night, the night of the new year,

By reason of the bitterness and grief

That vext his mother, all before his time

Was Arthur born, and all as soon as born

Delivered at a secret postern-gate

To Merlin, to be holden far apart

Until his hour should come; because the lords

Of that fierce day were as the lords of this,

Wild beasts, and surely would have torn the child

Piecemeal among them, had they known; for each

But sought to rule for his own self and hand,

And many hated Uther for the sake

Of Gorloïs. Wherefore Merlin took the child,

And gave him to Sir Anton, an old knight

And ancient friend of Uther; and his wife

Nursed the young prince, and reared him with her own;

And no man knew. And ever since the lords

Have foughten like wild beasts among themselves,

So that the realm has gone to wrack: but now,

This year, when Merlin (for his hour had come)

Brought Arthur forth, and set him in the hall,

Proclaiming, “Here is Uther’s heir, your king,”

A hundred voices cried, “Away with him!

No king of ours! a son of Gorloïs he,

Or else the child of Anton, and no king,

Or else baseborn.” Yet Merlin through his craft,

And while the people clamoured for a king,

Had Arthur crowned; but after, the great lords

Banded, and so brake out in open war.

Then while the King debated with himself

If Arthur were the child of shamefulness,

Or born the son of Gorloïs, after death,

Or Uther’s son, and born before his time,

Or whether there were truth in anything

Said by these three, there came to Cameliard,

With Gawain and young Modred, her two sons,

Lot’s wife, the Queen of Orkney, Bellicent;

Whom as he could, not as he would, the King

Made feast for, saying, as they sat at meat,

“A doubtful throne is ice on summer seas.

Ye come from Arthur’s court. Victor his men

Report him! Yea, but ye–think ye this king–

So many those that hate him, and so strong,

So few his knights, however brave they be–

Hath body enow to hold his foemen down?”

“O King,” she cried, “and I will tell thee: few,

Few, but all brave, all of one mind with him;

For I was near him when the savage yells

Of Uther’s peerage died, and Arthur sat

Crowned on the daïs, and his warriors cried,

‘Be thou the king, and we will work thy will

Who love thee.’ Then the King in low deep tones,

And simple words of great authority,

Bound them by so strait vows to his own self,

That when they rose, knighted from kneeling, some

Were pale as at the passing of a ghost,

Some flushed, and others dazed, as one who wakes

Half-blinded at the coming of a light.

“But when he spake and cheered his Table Round

With large, divine, and comfortable words,

Beyond my tongue to tell thee–I beheld

From eye to eye through all their Order flash

A momentary likeness of the King:

And ere it left their faces, through the cross

And those around it and the Crucified,

Down from the casement over Arthur, smote

Flame-colour, vert and azure, in three rays,

One falling upon each of three fair queens,

Who stood in silence near his throne, the friends

Of Arthur, gazing on him, tall, with bright

Sweet faces, who will help him at his need.

“And there I saw mage Merlin, whose vast wit

And hundred winters are but as the hands

Of loyal vassals toiling for their liege.

“And near him stood the Lady of the Lake,

Who knows a subtler magic than his own–

Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful.

She gave the King his huge cross-hilted sword,

Whereby to drive the heathen out: a mist

Of incense curled about her, and her face

Wellnigh was hidden in the minster gloom;

But there was heard among the holy hymns

A voice as of the waters, for she dwells

Down in a deep; calm, whatsoever storms

May shake the world, and when the surface rolls,

Hath power to walk the waters like our Lord.

“There likewise I beheld Excalibur

Before him at his crowning borne, the sword

That rose from out the bosom of the lake,

And Arthur rowed across and took it–rich

With jewels, elfin Urim, on the hilt,

Bewildering heart and eye–the blade so bright

That men are blinded by it–on one side,

Graven in the oldest tongue of all this world,

‘Take me,’ but turn the blade and ye shall see,

And written in the speech ye speak yourself,

‘Cast me away!’ And sad was Arthur’s face

Taking it, but old Merlin counselled him,

‘Take thou and strike! the time to cast away

Is yet far-off.’ So this great brand the king

Took, and by this will beat his foemen down.”

Thereat Leodogran rejoiced, but thought

To sift his doubtings to the last, and asked,

Fixing full eyes of question on her face,

“The swallow and the swift are near akin,

But thou art closer to this noble prince,

Being his own dear sister;” and she said,

“Daughter of Gorloïs and Ygerne am I;”

“And therefore Arthur’s sister?” asked the King.

She answered, “These be secret things,” and signed

To those two sons to pass, and let them be.

And Gawain went, and breaking into song

Sprang out, and followed by his flying hair

Ran like a colt, and leapt at all he saw:

But Modred laid his ear beside the doors,

And there half-heard; the same that afterward

Struck for the throne, and striking found his doom.

And then the Queen made answer, “What know I?

For dark my mother was in eyes and hair,

And dark in hair and eyes am I; and dark

Was Gorloïs, yea and dark was Uther too,

Wellnigh to blackness; but this King is fair

Beyond the race of Britons and of men.

Moreover, always in my mind I hear

A cry from out the dawning of my life,

A mother weeping, and I hear her say,

‘O that ye had some brother, pretty one,

To guard thee on the rough ways of the world.'”

“Ay,” said the King, “and hear ye such a cry?

But when did Arthur chance upon thee first?”

“O King!” she cried, “and I will tell thee true:

He found me first when yet a little maid:

Beaten I had been for a little fault

Whereof I was not guilty; and out I ran

And flung myself down on a bank of heath,

And hated this fair world and all therein,

And wept, and wished that I were dead; and he–

I know not whether of himself he came,

Or brought by Merlin, who, they say, can walk

Unseen at pleasure–he was at my side,

And spake sweet words, and comforted my heart,

And dried my tears, being a child with me.

And many a time he came, and evermore

As I grew greater grew with me; and sad

At times he seemed, and sad with him was I,

Stern too at times, and then I loved him not,

But sweet again, and then I loved him well.

And now of late I see him less and less,

But those first days had golden hours for me,

For then I surely thought he would be king.

“But let me tell thee now another tale:

For Bleys, our Merlin’s master, as they say,

Died but of late, and sent his cry to me,

To hear him speak before he left his life.

Shrunk like a fairy changeling lay the mage;

And when I entered told me that himself

And Merlin ever served about the King,

Uther, before he died; and on the night

When Uther in Tintagil past away

Moaning and wailing for an heir, the two

Left the still King, and passing forth to breathe,

Then from the castle gateway by the chasm

Descending through the dismal night–a night

In which the bounds of heaven and earth were lost–

Beheld, so high upon the dreary deeps

It seemed in heaven, a ship, the shape thereof

A dragon winged, and all from stem to stern

Bright with a shining people on the decks,

And gone as soon as seen. And then the two

Dropt to the cove, and watched the great sea fall,

Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,

Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep

And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged

Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:

And down the wave and in the flame was borne

A naked babe, and rode to Merlin’s feet,

Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried, ‘The King!

Here is an heir for Uther!’ And the fringe

Of that great breaker, sweeping up the strand,

Lashed at the wizard as he spake the word,

And all at once all round him rose in fire,

So that the child and he were clothed in fire.

And presently thereafter followed calm,

Free sky and stars: ‘And this same child,’ he said,

‘Is he who reigns; nor could I part in peace

Till this were told.’ And saying this the seer

Went through the strait and dreadful pass of death,

Not ever to be questioned any more

Save on the further side; but when I met

Merlin, and asked him if these things were truth–

The shining dragon and the naked child

Descending in the glory of the seas–

He laughed as is his wont, and answered me

In riddling triplets of old time, and said:

“‘Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow in the sky!

A young man will be wiser by and by;

An old man’s wit may wander ere he die.

Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow on the lea!

And truth is this to me, and that to thee;

And truth or clothed or naked let it be.

Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blows:

Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows?

From the great deep to the great deep he goes.’







“So Merlin riddling angered me; but thou

Fear not to give this King thine only child,

Guinevere: so great bards of him will sing

Hereafter; and dark sayings from of old

Ranging and ringing through the minds of men,

And echoed by old folk beside their fires

For comfort after their wage-work is done,

Speak of the King; and Merlin in our time

Hath spoken also, not in jest, and sworn

Though men may wound him that he will not die,

But pass, again to come; and then or now

Utterly smite the heathen underfoot,

Till these and all men hail him for their king.”

She spake and King Leodogran rejoiced,

But musing “Shall I answer yea or nay?”

Doubted, and drowsed, nodded and slept, and saw,

Dreaming, a slope of land that ever grew,

Field after field, up to a height, the peak

Haze-hidden, and thereon a phantom king,

Now looming, and now lost; and on the slope

The sword rose, the hind fell, the herd was driven,

Fire glimpsed; and all the land from roof and rick,

In drifts of smoke before a rolling wind,

Streamed to the peak, and mingled with the haze

And made it thicker; while the phantom king

Sent out at times a voice; and here or there

Stood one who pointed toward the voice, the rest

Slew on and burnt, crying, “No king of ours,

No son of Uther, and no king of ours;”

Till with a wink his dream was changed, the haze

Descended, and the solid earth became

As nothing, but the King stood out in heaven,

Crowned. And Leodogran awoke, and sent

Ulfius, and Brastias and Bedivere,

Back to the court of Arthur answering yea.

Then Arthur charged his warrior whom he loved

And honoured most, Sir Lancelot, to ride forth

And bring the Queen;–and watched him from the gates:

And Lancelot past away among the flowers,

(For then was latter April) and returned

Among the flowers, in May, with Guinevere.

To whom arrived, by Dubric the high saint,

Chief of the church in Britain, and before

The stateliest of her altar-shrines, the King

That morn was married, while in stainless white,

The fair beginners of a nobler time,

And glorying in their vows and him, his knights

Stood round him, and rejoicing in his joy.

Far shone the fields of May through open door,

The sacred altar blossomed white with May,

The Sun of May descended on their King,

They gazed on all earth’s beauty in their Queen,

Rolled incense, and there past along the hymns

A voice as of the waters, while the two

Sware at the shrine of Christ a deathless love:

And Arthur said, “Behold, thy doom is mine.

Let chance what will, I love thee to the death!”

To whom the Queen replied with drooping eyes,

“King and my lord, I love thee to the death!”

And holy Dubric spread his hands and spake,

“Reign ye, and live and love, and make the world

Other, and may thy Queen be one with thee,

And all this Order of thy Table Round

Fulfil the boundless purpose of their king!”

So Dubric said; but when they left the shrine

Great Lords from Rome before the portal stood,

In scornful stillness gazing as they past;

Then while they paced a city all on fire

With sun and cloth of gold, the trumpets blew,

And Arthur’s knighthood sang before the King:–

“Blow trumpet, for the world is white with May;

Blow trumpet, the long night hath rolled away!

Blow through the living world-‘Let the King reign.’

“Shall Rome or Heathen rule in Arthur’s realm?

Flash brand and lance, fall battleaxe upon helm,

Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.

“Strike for the King and live! his knights have heard

That God hath told the King a secret word.

Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.

“Blow trumpet! he will lift us from the dust.

Blow trumpet! live the strength and die the lust!

Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

“Strike for the King and die! and if thou diest,

The King is King, and ever wills the highest.

Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

“Blow, for our Sun is mighty in his May!

Blow, for our Sun is mightier day by day!

Clang battleaxe, and clash brand! Let the King reign.

“The King will follow Christ, and we the King

In whom high God hath breathed a secret thing.

Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.”

So sang the knighthood, moving to their hall.

There at the banquet those great Lords from Rome,

The slowly-fading mistress of the world,

Strode in, and claimed their tribute as of yore.

But Arthur spake, “Behold, for these have sworn

To wage my wars, and worship me their King;

The old order changeth, yielding place to new;

And we that fight for our fair father Christ,

Seeing that ye be grown too weak and old

To drive the heathen from your Roman wall,

No tribute will we pay:” so those great lords

Drew back in wrath, and Arthur strove with Rome.

And Arthur and his knighthood for a space

Were all one will, and through that strength the King

Drew in the petty princedoms under him,

Fought, and in twelve great battles overcame

The heathen hordes, and made a realm and reigned.

_________________

December 21, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

Solstice Tidings!

For all of You on this most Blessed of Days and Nights…

A joyful Solstice/Yule to You all.

Blessings,

Gwyllm

______________

Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half.

Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher

and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night,

or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the

ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver

of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from

seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires

were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with

toasts of spiced cider.

– Yule Lore

Music for the Solstice – Earthrites Radio!





_______

The Links:

The Only Links That You Will Need Today…!

The Wizard Of Oil…

——

Saturnalia…

_________

Recipe for Saturnalia Cake

1 pinch baking soda

2 packages dry yeast

3/8 cup warm water

1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded and cooled)

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup soft lard (Crisco….)

4 & 1/2 or 5 cups white flour

1 cup diced fruits and raisins

1 tablespoon anise seed

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon water

1 egg white

Dissolve yeast in warm water by sprinkling on top of the water. With a wooden spoon, stir in the honey and 2 & 1/2 cups flour. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in milk, salt, 2 eggs, lard and baking soda. Beat until smooth. Mix in fruits, raisins, and nuts, and enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double.

Punch down dough; divide in half. Shape each half into round, slightly flat loaf. Place loaves in opposite corners of baking sheet. Cut a cross 1/2 inch deep on top of each loaf. Let rise until double (about 1 hour).

Heat oven to 325. Blend egg white and 1 tablespoon water; brush on loaves.

Bake 35-45 minutes.

____________

An interesting article… I am still checking out some of the source material, though it appears to be sound.

Traditional Yule



What is certain is that Yule celebrations at the winter solstice predate Christianity, and though there are numerous references to Yule in the Icelandic sagas, there are few accounts of how Yule was actually celebrated, beyond the fact that it was a time for feasting. ‘Yule-Joy’, with dancing, continued through the Middle Ages in Iceland, but was frowned upon when the Reformation arrived. It is, however, known to have included the sacrifice of a pig for the god Freyr, a tradition which survives in the Scandinavian Christmas ham.

The confraternities of artisans of the 9th century, which developed into the medieval guilds, were denounced by Catholic clergy for their “conjurations” when they swore to support one another in coming adversity and in business ventures. The occasions were annual banquets on December 26,

“feast day of the pagan god Jul, when it was possible to couple with the spirits of the dead and with demons that returned to the surface of the earth… Many clerics denounced these conjurations as being not only a threat to public order but also, more serious in their eyes, satanic and immoral. Hincmar, in 858, sought in vain to Christianize them” (Rouche 1987, p. 432).

——————-

# Modrjanahtiz/Mothernight:

This holiday was celebrated on the evening before Jul started (mostly the evening of December 20).

During Mothernight (or “Modraniht” in Old Norse) nightly sacrifices were made to the “mothers”, the word “mother” referred to female ancestors in this context.



Jegwla/Jul:

(Medjawentruz/Midwinter)

Jul, also known as Yule (Anglo-Saxon), Jul (Scandinavian and German), Joel (Dutch), Jegwla (Proto-Germanic), Twelve Nights, or Midwinter, was held at the Winter Solstice, the word “Jul” literally means;”cheering” (“johlen” in German, “joelen” in Dutch, or “yelling” in English), which may refer to the merry drinking feasts that were held during this period though a more plausible explanation is that it refers to the noise that the people made to scare off evil spirits during this time.

Jul was the most important holiday of the year and a combination of a fertility festival and a commemoration for the dead; this combination sounds weird but since Jul was the Germanic new year it represented both the “death” of old and the “birth” of new, it started on the day of the Winter solstice, which was mostly December the 21st, this day was also called “Midwinter” and was opened with merry celebrations, in Frisian and Saxon areas Christmas is still called “Midwinter”, Jul lasted for 12 days (mostly until January the 2nd) and after the last day of Jul the Germanic new year began.

The custom of placing a Christmas tree in the house is indirectly of heathen origin; in ancient times the people of northern Europe left offerings to the gods under a tree during Christmas, this was done outside because cutting down a tree just for fun was considered to be disrespectful towards nature, like so many other heathen customs this practice was forbidden by the church in most places, but in Germany the people refused to abandon this custom so the church decided to Christianize it; the Christmas tree was now cut down and brought into the house after which it was decorated with angels and stars to include a link to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, though the balls and lights in the tree are also of heathen origin, this custom was originally only performed in Germany but during the 1800’s it was adopted by many other European countries.

In Scandinavia the people held a procession during Jul in which they sacrificed the Jul boar to the god Ing (Frey) at the great heathen temple of Uppsala, a Christianized version of this custom still survives in Scandinavia today as St Lucia’s Day, the Anglo-Saxons had a similar custom and nowadays the Swedes still eat cookies in the form of a boar during Christmas, Dutch bakers also make marzipan boars or pigs that they sell to their customers during the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration that takes place just before the Christmas period, the people also make boars and billy-goats of straw or ares of corn; most of this local customs probably originate from a single collective heathen festival in which a boar was sacrificed to Frey.

During Christmas some Norwegians leave gifts of food and drink outside for the 13 Julasveinar, this 13 spirits are believed to bring the harvest, each day one of them arrives on Earth and brings gifts; the first one arrives 13 days before Christmas and every day another one joins him until all 13 are present, after that they will disappear in reverse order, ending on the Twelfth Night of Jul.

In Norwegian folklore there is also the belief that the god Odin secretly listens to people who are holding conversations near a campfire during Jul, he does this to find out if they are happy in their life, he also leaves bread for the poor people.

During Jul it was a custom to give each other presents, the more presents one gave, the more fertile the year that would follow, in many modern European countries the people still give eachother presents during the Jul period, especially Christmas and the Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations are good examples of that.

The Swedes have the custom of brewing ale at Christmas, it is believed that ale brewed during Jul posesses magical powers and the Swedes often save this drink for special occasions during the rest of the year, the Swedes also drink “Julmust”, which is a special type of Christmas beer, and also Sanniklaus, which is the strongest beer in the world with an alcohol percentage of 13.5%, this drink is also only brewed during the Christmas period; the custom of brewing beer at Christmas also exists in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and many other countries so this was probably an old heathen tradition.

In ancient times the people also performed “Minne-drinks”, a Minne drink was a drink to the wellbeing of a person, a god, ancestors, or something/someone else, during Jul it was a custom to drink Minne to the dead.

Part of a mask (Middelstum, the Netherlands 700BC) Another very old Swedish custom of heathen origin is the “St. Stefan’s ride”, which is held at December 26, it has been named after a Christian saint called “Stefan” to Christianize it but its roots are purely heathen; young men wearing straw costumes or white shirts put on masks or paint their faces black to represent evil spirits, they then mount their horses and ride to a certain river; the wild group of horsemen represent the riders of the Wild Hunt and the custom of painting your face black can also be seen in the Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations where Sinterklaas’ funny black helpers originally represented the spirits of the Wild Hunt, the river may have something to do with the belief that water was an entrance to Helheim.

In Swedish folklore the horseriders are lead by a character called Trond, who is blind and wears a beard, this reminds a lot of the god Wodan, who was believed to lead the Wild Hunt, a custom similar to that in Sweden was also performed in Germany, but nowadays it has unfortunately died out in most places there.

In the German Harz and its surrounding areas there is a legend about a character called “Hackelberg” who leads the Wild Hunt, this name is probably a corruption of “Hackelbernd”, who was a legendary oberjagdmeister (“upper-hunting-master”) from the 16th century who traded eternal well-being for the eternal right to hunt, although this legend is based on a 16th century hunter its origins are probably much older.

The Swedes also ring bells at the end of the 12 Jul nights, a custom that is shared by most other Germanic countries; in the Netherlands for instance there is the custom of “St. Thomasluiden” (St. Thomas-ringing), in which bells are rang continuously during Christmas, this custom is especially strong in the northern provinces.

Ringing bells during Jul is very old and is believed to date back to Pre-Germanic northern Europe (at least 4000 years ago), though in most modern countries this custom has either disappeared or has been Christianized by connecting it to a Christian saint like for instance St. Thomas in the Netherlands.

Another Dutch custom is “Midwinterhoornblazen” (Midwinter-horn-blowing), in which some people blow on big horns that are made of birch and other types of wood; this was originally done to scare off evil spirits but nowadays it is only a tradition.

# The Wild Army/Wild Hunt:

Perchtenlauf in Austria During Jul the borders between the nine worlds were weaker and it was believed that the spirits of the dead from Helheim could enter Midgard during this time, the Wild Hunt (Wilder Jagd) also occured during Jul nights, especially when it stormed; during the Wild Hunt the god Wodan lead the dead over the lands on horses accompanied by dogs in a destructive rage in which people were sometimes kidnapped or killed and their posessions destroyed.

This destruction was not caused by the normal spirits who just came to visit, but by the evil spirits, Wodan’s task was leading the spirits of the dead back to where they belong to safe the humans from their wrath, in other sources he is portayed as their general who leads them in their destructive raid though that is probably a later attempt to demonize him.

During the Wild hunt Wodan was accompanied by the Earthgoddess Perchta, who was also known as Berchta, Hulda, Frau Holle, Frigga, and Erda.

The participants in the wild army of spirits were called Druden or Perchten, the Perchten were named after Perchta because she played an important role in the hunt; she blessed the earth to lead the spirits back to their own world, in which she was both supported and opposed by the Perchten; the good spirits supported her and the evil spirits opposed her, this belief was reflected in the “Perchtenlaufen” (Perchten-walking), which was a local custom in the former German province of Silesia (Schlesien) in the beginning of the 20th century; the people dressed themselves up in colourful costumes to represent the Perchten and held processions through the city.

The custom of dressing up as Perchten and holding processions during the Christmas period still exists in Austria, click here to see a movie of the Perchten procession that was held in the Salzburger Pongau.

Another possible remnant of the Perchten belief are the lantern processions that are held in many countries, originally this may have been a custom in which the people lit torches and held a procession through the city to represent the Perchten or maybe to scare them away.

In some local folktales in northwestern Europe the spirits of the Wild Hunt were called “Billygoat-riders” (“Bokkenrijders” in Dutch and “Bockreiter” in German), they were believed to ride through the air on billy-goats during Jul, this belief was so deeply-rooted in some areas that a group of bandits abused this belief by dressing up as ghosts and riding on billy-goats, most people were too afraid of them to do anything and from 1730 to 1780 they terrorized the southern part of the Netherlands and northern Belgium, when the leaders of this gang were captured the people finally discovered that they were not dealing with the real Perchten.

The Wild Hunt belief is of a very old origin and existed throughout northern Europe from Great Britain to Germany and from Scandinavia to northern France and the Alps; two older and more correct names of the Wild Hunt are “Wildes Heer” (Wild Army) and “Wutendes Heer” (Furious Army); the “hunting” aspect was added later and is derived from another Germanic legend about a Wild Hunter who roams the forests on his horse and chases women.





_____________

POETRY – Robert Graves

To Juan at the Winter Solstice

There is one story and one story only

That will prove worth your telling,

Whether are learned bard or gifted child;

To it all lines or lesser gauds belong

That startle with their shining

Such common stories as they stray into.

Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues,

Or strange beasts that beset you,

Of birds that croak at you the Triple will?

Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns

Below the Boreal Crown,

Prison of all true kings that ever reigned?

Water to water, ark again to ark,

From woman back to woman:

So each new victim treads unfalteringly

The never altered circuit of his fate,

Bringing twelve peers as witness

Both to his starry rise and starry fall.

Or is it of the Virgin’s silver beauty,

All fish below the thighs?

She in her left hand bears a leafy quince;

When, with her right she crooks a finger smiling,

How may the King hold back?

Royally then he barters life for love.

Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched,

Whose coils contain the ocean,

Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,

Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,

Battles three days and nights,

To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore?

Much snow is falling, winds roar hollowly,

The owl hoots from the elder,

Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:

Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.

The log groans and confesses

There is one story and one story only.

Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling,

Do not forget what flowers

The great boar trampled down in ivy time.

Her brow was creamy as the crested wave,

Her sea-blue eyes were wild

But nothing promised that is not performed.

_____________











The Holly King, represents the Death aspect of the God at this time of year;

and the Oak King, represents the opposite aspect of Rebirth (these roles are

reversed at Midsummer). This can be likened to the Divine Child’s birth. The

myth of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids to whom

these two trees were highly sacred. The Oak King (God of the Waxing Year)

kills the Holly King (God of the Waning Year) at Yule (the Winter Solstice). The

Oak King then reigns supreme until Litha (the Summer Solstice) when the two

battle again, this time with the Holly King victorious. Examples of the Holly

King’s image can be seen in our modern Santa Claus.

– Yule and Its Lore

—————–

Good King Wenceslas last looked out,

On the feast of Stephen,

When the snow lay round about

Deep and crisp and even.

Brightly shone the moon that night

Though the frost was cruel,

When a poor man came in sight

Gathering winter fuel.

———————

Earth, mountains, rivers – hidden in this nothingness.

In this nothingness – earth, mountains, rivers revealed.

Spring flowers, winter snows:

There’s no being or non-being, nor denial itself.

– Saisho

———————-

That’s no December sky!

Surely ’tis June

Holds now her state on high

Queen of the noon.

Only the tree-tops bare

Crowning the hill,

Clear-cut in perfect air,

Warn us that still

Winter, the aged chief,

Mighty in power,

Exiles the tender leaf,

Exiles the flower.

– Robert Fuller Murray (1863-1894), A December Day

———————–

In ancient times, both Druids and Romans hung sprigs of mistletoe

in their homes and places of celebration to bring good fortune,

peace and love.

———————–

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

– Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ring Out, Wild Bells

—————————

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,

And the winter winds are wearily sighing:

Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,

And tread softly and speak low,

For the old year lies a-dying.

Old year you must not die;

You came to us so readily,

You lived with us so steadily,

Old year you shall not die.

– Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Death of the Old Year

——————————

Shivering–

grey clouds darken

mountain snow.

– Michael P. Garofalo, Cuttings

———————————

How bittersweet it is, on winter’s night,

To listen, by the sputtering, smoking fire,

As distant memories, through the fog-dimmed light,

Rise, to the muffled chime of churchbell choir.

– Charles Baudelaire, The Cracked Bell

———————————–

Senseless is the breast and cold

Which relenting love would fold;

Bloodless are the veins and chill

Which the pulse of pain did fill;

Every little living nerve

That from bitter words did swerve

Round the tortur’d lips and brow,

Are like sapless leaflets now

Frozen upon December’s bough.

– Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), Lines Written Among the Euganean Hills

December 20, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

The Origins of Writing?











Pineapple Express on its way… warming up! Beautiful evening here…. Watched a great film over the last couple of evenings, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring Again. Recommended.

On The Menu

Link O’Rama!

Article: The Origins of Writing? Interview with Richard Rudgley

Poetry: Kamala Das aka Kamala Suraiya, 3 poems, & short story…

Images… Googlemancy once again: Bringer of Light

Enjoy!

G

______

The Links O’Rama Situation…:





Evo: Bolivia’s First Indigenous President

Tatooed Love Pigs…!

Millionaire Loses Everything Because of Lawn

Client: Ministry of Health and Social Affairs

Polar bears drown as ice shelf melts

Right! So What’s an Otherkin?

Mormon Flash…

Not With a Bang but a Whimper

________

The Origins of Writing?



Summary:

Who invented writing? Was it the Sumerians, 5000 years ago? Or Neolithic accountants, 10,000 years ago? Or even earlier, Palaeolithic shamans in China? Was it brought here by aliens from outer space? This week another chance to hear Richard Rudgley, the author of Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age, talk about The Origins OF Writing.

Jill Kitson: Welcome to Lingua Franca. I’m Jill Kitson. This week another chance to hear Richard Rudgley on the origins of writing. The ancient civilisations of the Middle East have long been regarded as the birthplace of writing. Any evidence that Stone Age people might have kept written records was dismissed as illiterate doodling, or at best as embryo writing.

But over the past few decades, a growing number of researchers have been challenging the accepted view that writing was invented a mere 5,000 years ago and arguing instead that its origins do lie in the Stone Age. That Stone Age peoples in widely different cultures and regions may actually have been inventing writing as they found ways of devising artificial memory systems.

The archaeologist Denise Schmandt Besserat, for instance, has developed such a theory about the tiny clay tokens that litter ancient archaeological sites in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Israel, some of them 10,000 years old.

Well now the English anthropologist, Richard Rudgley, in his book ‘Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age’, has brought together a mass of evidence from archaeology, ancient history and anthropology, to argue that writing, along with the sciences and technology, had its origins in the Neolithic and even beyond that, in the Palaeolithic eras of human existence.

And so when I talked to Richard Rudgley about the origins of writing, I asked him first, to tell the fascinating story of Denise Schmandt Besserat’s researches into the prehistoric use of clay tokens as an accounting system.

Richard Rudgley: Well basically what she was doing was, she was looking through a lot of clay objects she’d found in museums across three continents, she wasn’t expecting to find these, she came across these miniature clay objects shaped like small pyramids, others spherical, and various different geometrical shapes and some of animal shapes. And she asked other archaeologists ‘What are these, have you seen them?’ And they said, ‘We’ve seen them as well but we don’t know what they are.’ And then she came across this artefact which is actually from a historical period, it’s a small egg-shaped hollow tablet, with cuneiform writing on it. It was found in Iraq and it contains a short text which is simply a list of animals belonging to a shepherd. Now the text itself is not interesting at all, but what it shows us is fascinating, because on the outside we have a list of various kinds of animals, goats and so on, which add up to a total of 49, and inside this hollow tablet, when the archaeologists opened up, they found 49 counters, these little miniature clay objects, and then it became clear that this was some kind of accounting system.

Now these clay objects, they go back to about 8,000 B.C. which is the very beginning of the farming era, the so-called New Stone Age, the Neolithic period, and they gradually get more complex, and there’s a whole multitude of new shapes arise about 4,400 B.C. and these not only are for commodities, but also units of labour. For example, we have ovoid ones which stand for bottles of oil or oil containers; other shapes stand for units of grain and so on, and the tetrahedron-shaped ones stand for units of labour: one man’s work for one day, and so on.

So what we see here is a kind of accounting system and as I say around 4,400 this got more complicated, and this is partly due to the growth of temples in the region, and temples were places at that time that you not only prayed, but you also paid. And this is where we find the origin of taxation. Now it’s also relevant in terms of numerals, because obviously they were counting commodities, and so we see this as not only the background to writing but this particular archaeologist also sees it as how the numerical system may have developed.

Now what happened, as I say, with these containers, originally they were containers with the tokens inside, and then at a later stage people wrote these various symbols on the outside to say what was on the inside, then somebody realised one day that ‘Well if we’re saying on the outside what’s on the inside, we don’t need to put anything inside, and in fact we don’t even need an inside.’ So what was egg-shaped became flat, still made of clay, and had writing on it, and obviously these are the immediate precursors to the clay tablets of Sumerian writing.

Jill Kitson: Now that sort of fits in with any theories about history that are all based on economics. But you also deal with the theories of other anthropologists who see the origins of religion as being the source of the earliest forms of writing, in terms of symbols. And that takes us to Europe and to the Danube Valley, and indeed to France. So would you like to talk about those?

Richard Rudgley: Yes I think before I do, I’d just like to quickly slip over to China, where we have very strong evidence that the earliest known writing are the so-called Oracle Bones, and these writings are certainly not economic, and they are essentially for divination; in other words they have a religious objective. So we have a definite proof from the Far East that not all writing systems were developed on economic grounds, and this seems to be the case in the sign systems of Eastern Europe in the Neolithic period, which seemed to have some kind of religious and symbolic importance rather than being merely practical devices for accounting and economic organisation.

At one stage, some of the clay tablets which have been found with these sign systems on them from places such as Bulgaria and Transylvania in Romania, these were once thought to be linked to the Sumerian writing tablets, because at this stage (this is in the 1960s) radio carbon chronology was still a hot issue; people weren’t sure whether it was accurate, and so the pre-history of Eastern Europe was really developed at that time without knowledge of radio carbon dating. And at that time the cultures from which these clay tablets were unearthed in Eastern Europe were thought to be much later than Sumerian, so there was no mental block to accepting that they might be some kind of writing, or some kind of copying of the Sumerians, because there was time for the writing of the Sumerians to have diffused to Eastern Europe.

And a lot of scholars said that they thought this was a kind of writing and was certainly related to Sumerian. Adam Falkinstein, who was the great leader in deciphering a lot of the archaic signs from Sumeria, was one of the people who agreed with this, but when it was realised that radio carbon chronology actually did work, was accurate, these prehistoric cultures in Eastern Europe were actually found to be far earlier than the Sumerian writing, and then the scholarly world tended to drop the whole subject.

Jill Kitson: Went into denial.

Richard Rudgley: Exactly, because it suddenly didn’t fit, and it was a very taboo subject to actually contemplate that prehistoric Europeans could have possibly invented writing. So it was then a lot of people saying ‘Well they’re just sort of magical squiggles or some kind of signs, but they’re nothing to do with writing.’ But one of the aspects of some of these tablets were they have holes in them, which is something that Sumerian tablets don’t have, but Cretan tablets from ancient Crete have this feature and some people who still push for the independent origins of writing in prehistoric Eastern Europe would actually say, ‘Well one of the Cretan scripts, linear A’, (which is still undeciphered, linear B has been deciphered), ‘this Cretan script may actually be a distant descendant of what has been called the Old European Script which can date back to 5,000 or perhaps even 6,000 B.C.’ There’s a very great similarity in a lot of the signs used, and it’s still an open question, although somewhat taboo.

Jill Kitson: Well you show them in one of the diagrams in the book, and they do look extremely similar, but the argument of those who have pushed the notion that in fact Cretan civilisation came from those old Europeans who were driven out of the Danube Valley by the invading Indo-European hordes, and who took their civilisation to Crete, the argument is that the real links lie in the use of symbols for bulls and snakes and other such symbols. Do you go along with that?

Richard Rudgley: There are certain symbolic similarities between the cultures of Eastern Europe in the time period I’ve just mentioned, and the much later Cretan civilisation. But of course you can always find such links, and it’s very difficult to really feel wholeheartedly that that’s any kind of solid proof, but it is, as it were, a corroboration of perhaps some kind of links. But because the script is undeciphered, it’s not clear whether it’s an Indo-European language that was written down or whether it was a pre-Indo-European language belonging to some kind of lost language group that might have existed in Europe before the Indo-Europeans took over.

Jill Kitson: Now probably the most controversial exponent of this theory is a feminist anthropologist who I believe is dead now, the Lithuanian Marija Gimbutas. Her theory is so all-embracing a feminist theory that I can imagine to actually associate oneself with it in anthropological circles immediately makes one suspect. So would you like to explain what her theory is? It’s what one wants to believe in many ways.

Richard Rudgley: Well her basic theory was that these were peaceful communities in the main, that men and women lived in equality, that their religion was based around a mother goddess; her main argument for this being that most of the religious icons in the form of sculptures and various other depictions, are of women rather than men. And in this sense you can’t really argue, it is true. And then this civilisation, which she calls the Old European civilisation, was destroyed by Indo-Europeans coming from the east, who she portrays as some kind of prehistoric Hell’s Angels, they come in on their horses with all their weapons and they decimate the Eastern European cultures, who flee to other parts of Europe and then are gradually subsumed as the Indo-European take over the whole continent.

Now if you wanted to be unfair to her, you could say, ‘Well really this is perhaps a reflection of the trauma that Lithuanians might have felt with the ravaging by Russia of their own country.’ But as I say there is certainly a lot of evidence from the period that the female had some kind of status, certainly in the religious iconography which is much more significant than in later periods. And then gradually as her theory took wing, she basically encompassed the whole of Europe as parts of what she’d just limited to Eastern Europe before, so it was a sort of Europe-wide phenomenon, before the Indo-Europeans, and she covered all kinds of sites to prove her point, from Britain to Malta, to Eastern Europe and even to Scandinavia and so on. So it was a continent-wide thing at the end.

And like anyone who comes up with a big theory about humanity, or a great section of humanity, people tend to go too far, but I think that that’s important and inevitable that people push their theories to the absolute limit, and then it’s for other people to decide whether she’s gone over the line at a certain point.

Jill Kitson: Well I suppose over all, one of the reassuring things about your book, and it does seem to me that you make a very good case for there being multiple origins for the breakthroughs that we now identify as being the marks of civilisation, and that you take it back so far into human history. I suppose for me the reassuring thing about it is that it actually knocks out any notion of there ever being a particular race that civilised the world, it’s a much more multifarious view of human civilisation, and one that goes back much further.

Richard Rudgley: Well that’s right. It’s not possible from my point of view, when considering the evidence, to stick to some kind of centre such as Sumeria which you know, diffused civilisation to the rest of the world at, to me, rather late time, 5,000 years ago. I don’t think we necessarily need to discount a common origin, but this must go back much, much further than previously believed. For example there is some strong evidence that lunar calendars were kept by marking bones as far back as about 30,000 years ago. These kind of artefacts have been found, for example, in France, in the Congo, in Siberia and more recently in Australia, and now this obviously suggests that if there were some kind of common ancestor to these kind of cultural activities, this interest in lunar observation for example, it must go back very far indeed.

So I think this really does push back our understanding of the levels of knowledge in the Stone Age to a far, far earlier time than the so-called beginning of history 5,000 years ago.

Jill Kitson: Richard Rudgley. His book, ‘Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age’ is published by Century. And that’s all for this week’s Lingua Franca.

_______________

Poetry: Kamala Das aka Kamala Suraiya











The Dance of the Eunuchs (from Summer in Calcutta)

It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came

To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals

Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling

Jingling… Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with

Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and

They dance, oh, they danced till they bled… There were green

Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some

Were dark and some were almost fair. Their voices

Were harsh, their songs melancholy; they sang of

Lovers dying and or children left unborn….

Some beat their drums; others beat their sorry breasts

And wailed, and writhed in vacant ecstasy. They

Were thin in limbs and dry; like half-burnt logs from

Funeral pyres, a drought and a rottenness

Were in each of them. Even the crows were so

Silent on trees, and the children wide-eyed, still;

All were watching these poor creatures’ convulsions

The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning

And rain, a meagre rain that smelt of dust in

Attics and the urine of lizards and mice….



————

The Maggots (from The Descendants)

At sunset, on the river ban, Krishna

Loved her for the last time and left…

That night in her husband’s arms, Radha felt

So dead that he asked, What is wrong,

Do you mind my kisses, love? And she said,

No, not at all, but thought, What is

It to the corpse if the maggots nip?



———-

The Stone Age (from The Old Playhouse and Other Poems)

Fond husband, ancient settler in the mind,

Old fat spider, weaving webs of bewilderment,

Be kind. You turn me into a bird of stone, a granite

Dove, you build round me a shabby room,

And stroke my pitted face absent-mindedly while

You read. With loud talk you bruise my pre-morning sleep,

You stick a finger into my dreaming eye. And

Yet, on daydreams, strong men cast their shadows, they sink

Like white suns in the swell of my Dravidian blood,

Secretly flow the drains beneath sacred cities.

When you leave, I drive my blue battered car

Along the bluer sea. I run up the forty

Noisy steps to knock at another’s door.

Though peep-holes, the neighbours watch,

they watch me come

And go like rain. Ask me, everybody, ask me

What he sees in me, ask me why he is called a lion,

A libertine, ask me why his hand sways like a hooded snake

Before it clasps my pubis. Ask me why like

A great tree, felled, he slumps against my breasts,

And sleeps. Ask me why life is short and love is

Shorter still, ask me what is bliss and what its price….

—————–

Sweet Milk

A man, returning home at night from a simple cremation, having thanked everyone. We could simply call him Achhan. Because only three children in the city know his value. They call him Achha.

Sitting in the bus among strangers, he went over every second of that day.

Woke up in the morning to her voice. “Unniye, don’t go on sleeping covered up like that. It’s Monday.” She was calling the eldest son. She then moved to the kitchen, her white sari crumpled. Brought me a big glass of coffee. Then? What happened then? Did she say anything that should not be forgotten? However much he tried, he could not remember. “Don’t go on sleeping covered up like that. It’s Monday.” Only that line lingered. He chanted it to himself, as if it was a prayer. If he forgot it, the loss would be unbearable.

The children had been with him when he left for work in the morning. She brought them their tiffin in small aluminium boxes. A smear of turmeric on her right hand.

At work, he did not think of her at all. They had married, against the wishes of their parents, after a courtship of a year or two. But they never did regret it. Lack of money, the children’s spells of illness — they were often dejected. She became careless of her appearance. To an extent, he lost the ability to laugh.

Still, they loved each other. Their three children also loved them. They were boys. Unni, 10, Balan, 7, and Rajan, 5. Three boys whose faces were always smeared with dirt, who had neither outstanding beauty nor brilliance. But the mother and the father said to each other —

“Unni is always making things. He has a taste for engineering.”

“We should make Balan a doctor. See his forehead: such a wide forehead denotes intelligence.”

“Rajan is not afraid of the dark. He is smart. He should join the army.”

They lived in a narrow street in the city, in a middle-class neighbourhood. A three-room flat on the first floor, with a veranda just wide enough for two people to stand in. Mother grows a panineer plant in a pot. It has not flowered yet.

In the kitchen, brass spatulas and ladles hang from the hooks on the wall. A wooden plank lies near the stove. Mother usually sits there, making chapatis when Father returns from work.

He got off when the bus stopped. He felt a twinge of pain in the knee. The beginning of arthritis? Who will look after the children if I am bedridden? Suddenly, his tears welled up. He rubbed his face with a dirty kerchief and quickened his step.

Have the children gone to sleep? Had they eaten anything, or had they just cried themselves to sleep? But they are too young to understand. Unni just stood there watching me when I put her in the taxi. Only the youngest one cried. But that was because he wanted to get into the taxi too. Certainly, they did not know the meaning of death.

Did I know? No. Did I ever imagine that she would suddenly fall down one evening and die, without saying farewell to anyone?

He had looked in through the kitchen window when he came back from work. She was not there.

He could hear the sound of children playing in the front yard. “First-class shot.” It was Unni calling out.

He opened the front door with his key. It was then that he saw her. She was lying on the floor. Her lips were parted. She must have slipped, he thought. But at the hospital the doctor told him: “She died an hour and a half ago. It was heart failure.”

He was swept by a welter of emotions. He was angry with her for no reason. How could she go, without any warning, burdening me with all the responsibilities!

Now who would bathe the children? Who would cook for them? Who would look after them when they fell ill?

“My wife died,” he whispered to himself, “my wife died suddenly today of a heart attack. I need two days’ leave.”

A great leave application. Leave, not because the wife is ill. Leave, because the wife is dead. The boss might call him to his room. He might express his sorrow. His sorrow! Who wants it? He didn’t know her. He didn’t know her hair that curled at the ends, her tired smile, her slow step. All these are his losses.

When he opened the door his youngest son came running up. “Mother isn’t back yet,” he said.

How quickly he has forgotten! Did he really think that the body that was taken away in the taxi would come back alone?

He took him to the kitchen.

“Unni,” he called.

“What is it, Achha?”

Unni came into the kitchen.

“Balan is sleeping.”

“All right. Have you all eaten anything?”

“No.”

He removed the plates covering the vessels kept on the sill. Chapatis, rice, potato curry, chips, curds — the food she had made. In a glass bowl, the neipayasam that she sometimes made for the children.

No, they should not eat this food. It is touched by death.

“These have gone cold. I’ll make some uppumavu,” he said.

“Achha…” it was Unni.

“Um?”

“When will Mother come back? Isn’t she better?”

Let the truth wait for another day, he thought. There was no point in giving grief to the child tonight.

“Mother will come,” he said.

He placed the washed bowls on the floor. Two bowls.

“Let Balan sleep,” he said.

“Achha, neipayasam,” Rajan exclaimed happily. He dipped a finger in it.

He sat down on the wooden plank where his wife usually sat.

“Unni, will you serve? Achhan does not feel too good. Headache.”

Let them eat. They would never again be able to eat their mother’s cooking.

They started eating the payasam. He sat motionless, watching them.

“Don’t you want rice, Unni?”

“No, we want only payasam. It’s very tasty.”

“Yes, Mother has made splendid neipayasam,” Rajan said happily.

He got up and walked quickly towards the bathroom.

______________

December 19, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

Sliding from Monday towards the Solstice…

On The Music Box… Amadou et Mariam album: Dimanche A Bamako

A wonderful album of two blind musicians from Mali. Amadou plays the guitar, Jimi is his hero. Mariam sings like a bird floating on the heavens. You wanna dance, and dance joyful? This is your Album (a huge thankyou to Morgan Miller for leading us down this wonderful path!)





So it is snowing in Portland. I was tempted to go out and take a photo tonight to show ya, but it is very cold, and I am sitting here listening to good music, drinking hot cocoa (Thanks Mary!) and ruminating about the weekend. We had our Solstice Gathering, and as luck, Victor was there as well as PK and about 35 of our other friends. Victor ended up staying the night and the next day. He left a few hours ago for the Dalles, which looks to be like it is under ice about this time….. Andrew my nephew stayed over as well, and we all had a lazy Sunday, which is a rarity. We had a lovely time, oh yes.



The Links…

The Quotes…

A couple of Articles… One on Salvia Divinorum and the Marines (I kid you not) and another on Pagan views of the holidays… Midwinter Night’s Eve: Yule

Poetry was discovered tonight by Googlemancy… please check the results!

Enjoy,

Gwyllm

_________

“At one point consciousness-altering devices like the microscope and telescope were criminalized for exactly the same reasons that psychedelic plants were banned in later years. They allow us to peer into bits and zones of Chaos.”—Timothy Leary

—————-

The Quotes:

“My wife’s jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was.”

“You don’t get anything clean without getting something else dirty.”

“In every American there is an air of incorrigible innocence, which seems to conceal a diabolical cunning.”

“Philosophers say a great deal about what is absolutely necessary for science, and it is always, so far as one can see, rather naive, and probably wrong.”

“Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.”

“The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal.”

“The power of hiding ourselves from one another is mercifully given, for men are wild beasts, and would devour one another but for this protection.”

“The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another. “

“The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.”

__________

The Links:

Bob Dylan and John Lennon in a Taxi 1966

It’s never too late to appreciate Bill Hicks

Battles rage in U.S. over celebrating holidays

Decoding The DaVinci Code Website…

Rare Exports…

Toy Technica: a brief look at toys through the ages

___________

Article #1

Legal herb can still get Marines in trouble

Submitted by: MCB Camp Lejeune

Story by: Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

Story Identification #: 200512894827



MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.(Dec. 8, 2005) — He says he is going to meet Ska Maria Pastora, but this is only a street term for salvia divinorum-a plant, which could get a Marine in trouble with their command.

Salvia divinorum, also known as just salvia, has gained some popularity because of its hallucinogenic effects from smoking or chewing the plant leaves. It is sold on the Internet and advertised as legal marijuana.

Salvia is not a controlled substance and is not illegal, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.

The drug can still get you in trouble in the Marine Corps, and any Marine caught using or in possession of salvia will be charged with Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, which is failure to obey an order or regulation.

Use of salvia divinorum, like any other natural substance, with the intent to induce intoxication, excitement, or stupefaction of the central nervous system is prohibited by SECNAVINST 5300.28C and OPNAVINST 5350.4C. Punitive action, adverse administrative action or both can be taken against personnel who use salvia.

“Actually, it’s not very new to those in the know, but the use of salvia divinorum is on the rise in the military,” said Col. Mick McCue, the staff judge advocate with Marine Forces Atlantic. “It is currently not listed on any of the Controlled Substances schedules and is therefore not currently covered by Article 112A of the UCMJ.”

The drug is supposed to induce illusions and hallucinations similar to ketamine, mescaline, or psilocybin, according to the DEA.

“No one has been caught on Lejeune because it is not tested for at the [urinalysis lab],” said Staff Sgt. Gregory Hubbard, the substance abuse counselor for Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base.

A pound of dried Salvia divinorum leaf purchased from wholesalers in Mexico can be had for about $100.00. Some commercial vendors resell such leaf for over $100 USD per ounce, according to Hubbard.

The substance is not widely available with purchase and advertising usually limited to the Internet.

__________

Midwinter Night’s Eve: Yule

by Mike Nichols

Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we Pagans celebrate the ‘Christmas’ season. Even though we prefer to use the word ‘Yule’, and our celebrations may peak a few days before the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, carolling, presents, Yule logs, and mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting up a ‘Nativity set’, though for us the three central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course. In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan than Christian, with it’s associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility rites, and Roman Mithraism.

That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin abhorred it, why the Puritans refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it (to them, no day of the year could be more holy than the Sabbath), and why it was even made illegal in Boston! The holiday was already too closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods and heroes. And many of them (like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and even Arthur) possessed a narrative of birth, death, and resurrection that was uncomfortably close to that of Jesus. And to make matters worse, many of them pre-dated the Christian Savior.

Ultimately, of course, the holiday is rooted deeply in the cycle of the year. It is the Winter Solstice that is being celebrated, seed-time of the year, the longest night and shortest day. It is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son of God — by whatever name you choose to call him. On this darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth. And it makes perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of the winter, ‘the dark night of our souls’, there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.

That is why Pagans have as much right to claim this holiday as Christians. Perhaps even more so, as the Christians were rather late in laying claim to it, and tried more than once to reject it. There had been a tradition in the West that Mary bore the child Jesus on the twenty-fifth day, but no one could seem to decide on the month. Finally, in 320 C.E., the Catholic Fathers in Rome decided to make it December, in an effort to co-opt the Mithraic celebration of the Romans and the Yule celebrations of the Celts and Saxons.

There was never much pretense that the date they finally chose was historically accurate. Shepherds just don’t ‘tend their flocks by night’ in the high pastures in the dead of winter! But if one wishes to use the New Testament as historical evidence, this reference may point to sometime in the spring as the time of Jesus’s birth. This is because the lambing season occurs in the spring and that is the only time when shepherds are likely to ‘watch their flocks by night’ — to make sure the lambing goes well. Knowing this, the Eastern half of the Church continued to reject December 25, preferring a ‘movable date’ fixed by their astrologers according to the moon.

Thus, despite its shaky start (for over three centuries, no one knew when Jesus was supposed to have been born!), December 25 finally began to catch on. By 529, it was a civic holiday, and all work or public business (except that of cooks, bakers, or any that contributed to the delight of the holiday) was prohibited by the Emperor Justinian. In 563, the Council of Braga forbade fasting on Christmas Day, and four years later the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from December 25 to Epiphany as a sacred, festive season. This last point is perhaps the hardest to impress upon the modern reader, who is lucky to get a single day off work. Christmas, in the Middle Ages, was not a single day, but rather a period of twelve days, from December 25 to January 6. The Twelve Days of Christmas, in fact. It is certainly lamentable that the modern world has abandoned this approach, along with the popular Twelfth Night celebrations.

Of course, the Christian version of the holiday spread to many countries no faster than Christianity itself, which means that ‘Christmas’ wasn’t celebrated in Ireland until the late fifth century; in England, Switzerland, and Austria until the seventh; in Germany until the eighth; and in the Slavic lands until the ninth and tenth. Not that these countries lacked their own mid-winter celebrations of Yuletide. Long before the world had heard of Jesus, Pagans had been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing on it, and lighting it from the remains of last year’s log. Riddles were posed and answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and consumed along with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from house to house while carolling, fertility rites were practiced (girls standing under a sprig of mistletoe were subject to a bit more than a kiss), and divinations were cast for the coming Spring. Many of these Pagan customs, in an appropriately watered-down form, have entered the mainstream of Christian celebration, though most celebrants do not realize (or do not mention it, if they do) their origins.

or modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Yula’, meaning ‘wheel’ of the year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-days of the year, but a very important one. This year (1988) it occurs on December 21st at 9:28 am CST. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash. Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on it. In Christianity, Protestants might claim that Martin Luther invented the custom, and Catholics might grant St. Boniface the honor, but the custom can demonstrably be traced back through the Roman Saturnalia all the way to ancient Egypt. Needless to say, such a tree should be cut down rather than purchased, and should be disposed of by burning, the proper way to dispatch any sacred object.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically — not medicinally! It’s highly toxic!) But aphrodisiacs must have been the smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient times, as contemporary reports indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of every type of good food. And drink! The most popular of which was the ‘wassail cup’ deriving its name from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘waes hael’ (be whole or hale).

Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as the Holy Night arrives, that bees hum the ‘100th psalm’ on Christmas Eve, that a windy Christmas will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can see the Little People, that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if one opens all the doors of the house at midnight all the evil spirits will depart, that you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck is sure to follow, that ‘if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see’, that ‘hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May’, that one can use the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the twelve months of the coming year, and so on.

Remembering that most Christmas customs are ultimately based upon older Pagan customs, it only remains for modern Pagans to reclaim their lost traditions. In doing so, we can share many common customs with our Christian friends, albeit with a slightly different interpretation. And thus we all share in the beauty of this most magical of seasons, when the Mother Goddess once again gives birth to the baby Sun-God and sets the wheel in motion again. To conclude with a long-overdue paraphrase, ‘Goddess bless us, every one!’

______________

Poetry: Random Finds on the Web…

Using Googlemancy, I put in Shaman Santa, and discovered this page through an old Sami Land Petroglyph showing a Shaman…. such joys were uncovered. (from The Salt River Review)

Lex Runciman

“Joy Cometh in the Morning”

Psalm 30



Brakes fail. We lie.

Carrots stick in the gullet:

coughing triggers a stroke.

Rain freezes. A runner on stairs

unmoors itself and slides.

Against all justice the baby sickens.

A woman putting on the thirteenth green

dizzies, her last words “my head aches,”

and “take me home.” War hovers.

Your watch is off. What child

deserves such parents? Dead fish

clog the river, wash ashore,

then the smell begins. Someone’s son

strangles a person he thinks he loves.

Crops wilt. The knife slips.

Ridicule leads to bruises. That person

listens and walks away, and that one,

who said the wrong things, knows it.

No touch endures. The doctor is unsure.

Memory says love is unreturned.

The words you have rehearsed

vanish from your mouth. Sleep

teases. Gesture is not enough.

I don’t know how we go on.

————–

Mark Wekander



Rain in Kenya

Karen Blixen left Kenya

where coffee branches waved

limp white five-point flowers.

The drying stars ruined her,

sucked crowns from her relatives’

woolen pockets. In Rungsted,

the fire cast light past her high cheek bones

into her cheeks’ dry ponds. — She wondered

if it were raining on the coffee farm.

On the abandoned farm a tulip tree falls.

I close the gate to leave for the city.

The male dog shows his profile, stares.

His eyes accuse.

The females seek shade.

Farewells hold no promise.

They know hope’s and worry’s mettle.

In the city I imagine they eat

a thief’s gift of poisoned meat;

think the man who feeds them forgets,

no water for a week.

A tulip tree falls, flattens the fence.

They wander off, kill chickens, pigs,

horses, reach San Juan, hop ship,

hop off in Calcutta. Their flesh is pink

and hairless. I am never there.

I have fixed the muffler.

The dogs do not run to the gate

as I turn up the hill. It smells like fire.

Someone is roasting coffee.

Karen Blixen went to Denmark,

stopped swallowing arsenic to cure

her syphillis, found a young poet,

revenge for everything in life – fire,

sex, rain, harvests – hope could not

control. With her breath she steered

him, a bubble on a still day.

An elk hound lay at her feet.

“Selfishness of great loss,” she thought.

The coffee farm consumed her. He did not.

Old age took the dogs.

I halt in mid-sentence

to wonder if they have water.

Ants devour sweet coffee pulp,

red gums for two white teeth.

Something remains of hope and worry.

Blixen never returned to Africa.

Coffee stains the porcelain.

In the jungle a tree falls.

—————

Pablo Neruda



Ode to the Piano

At the concert

the piano was sad,

ignored its gravedigger’s black frock

and later opened its mouth,

its whale mouth;

the pianist entered the piano

like a crow flying,

something happened

as though a silver stone splashed

or a hand appeared from

a hidden pond:

a sweetness slid down

like rain

on a bell,

in the background light fell

from a closed-up house,

an emerald traveled through the depths

and the sea gave out its call,

as did the night,

the fields,

a drop of dew.

The lightning bolt on high,

the silent poetry of the rose rang out,

silence surrounded the bed of dawn.

Thus was music born

from the dying piano,

the naiad’s robes

were lifted from the catafalque

and from its teeth

until the piano, the pianist

sank into oblivion

and the concert,

and all was sound,

torrential notes,

pure scale, clear bell.

Then the man returned

from the tree of music.

He came flying back down

like a lost crow

or a crazed horse;

the piano closed its whale’s maw

and the man walked backwards

towards silence.

– Translated by Carlos Reyes

—————-

Selena Millares



Island of Silence

– to those disappeared Madrid, dies irae

1. The Shipwreck

there are marbles, lichens

and a dark sand

that speaks of time

it is dawn

fish

and dead sirens watch

slowly the ship sinks

in the dawn

and all that is heard

is the silence of the sea

2. The Beach

the sands hide

rings and swords

defences, they watch over

sleeping hearts

and lips that whisper

to children and lovers

the silent sands

with fine sheets

in which to wrap its dream

and yours

so that the cold of morning

will not touch it

3. Memory

you remember the doves

in the eaves

their monotonous ritual of spring

yet nothing remains

nobody

to adorn your night

with voices and laughter

the crunch of steps

and the clicking of crickets

and the fluttering of butterfly wings

their light, weightless

shot of light

4. The Sand

there are no more roads

from this beach

sand on the horizon

and in the eyes

and in the clocks

that slowly drip away

your destiny of sand

5. Goodbye

will you be a tree, comet

or throat that laughs?

or perhaps honeysuckle

that perfumes time

standing still?

long the hours

you remain

now free

full of wings

and seeds

________________

December 16, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

Why Can't We Cope with Ecstasy and Euphoria?

Music Box: Asura/The Last Eden

“I arise today

Through a mighty strength:

God’s power to guide me,

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s eyes to watch over me;

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to give me speech,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to shelter me,

God’s host to secure me.”

(1st Millenium – Bridgid of Gael)









Well, this is it for the week. We finish up with some fairly weighty selections: Jonathan Ott’s Proemium~ Why Can’t We Cope with Ecstasy and Euphoria?, and two selections from the Poetic Edda, Baldur’s Dream (as translated by W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor), and Vafrudnismal (The Lay Of Illusion) translation adapted from the Codex Regius.

Illustrations from a Viking Media Library with selections from the 19th century, and the one illustrating Baldur’s Dream is from the Irish Artist, Jim Fitzpatrick.

These should fox ya for awhile, more like a stew than a broth. Depending on what is happening these next few days, we should have some more selections for the Solstice.

A Blessing on your day.

Gwyllm

__________

Proemium ~ Why Can’t We Cope with Ecstasy and Euphoria?

Jonathan Ott





For the sake of freedom and dignity, for the sake of democracy, in the interests of shoring up the battered U.S. economy, it is time to call a truce in the “War on Drugs,” an unconditional cease-fire. We can start by decriminalizing the entheogenic drugs, reclassifying them as prescription medicines as the Swiss government recently did, so that physicians and clinical re-searchers may resume the fruitful exploration of the therapeutic potential of these unique pharmaceuticals, which was so wrongly suspended in the 1960s. These wondrous medicaments, molecular entities which constitute a sort of “crack” in the edifice of materialistic rationality (Hofmann 1980), may be just what the doctor ordered for hypermaterialistic humankind on the threshold of a new millennium… a new millennium which could be the start of a new Golden Age, or the continuation and dreadful culmination of a cataclysmic cultural and biological Holocaust.

The essence of the experience conferred by entheogenic drugs is ecstasy, in the original sense of that overused word- ek-stasis, the “withdrawal of the soul from the body” (Oxford English Dictionary, Compact Edition, p.831), what R. Gordon Wasson called the “disembodied” state:

There I was, poised in space, a disembodied eye, invisible,

incorporeal, seeing but not seen. (Wasson 1957;see also Chapter 5, Note 3)

More specifically, it is an ineffable, spiritual state of grace, in which the universe is experienced more as energy than as matter (Ott 1977a); a spiritual, non-materialistic state of being (Hofmann 1988(. It is the heart and essence of shamanism; the archetypal religious experience. In the archaic world, and in the preliterate cultures which have survived in isolation into our time, shamanism and ecstasy represent the epitome of culture, the pinnacle of human achievement (Calvin 1991). The shaman is the cynosure of her or his preliterate tribe, (s)he is the thau-maturge, the psychopompos, the archetypal psychonaut journeying to the Otherworld to intercede with the ancestors or gods on behalf of her or his fellows. In the Age of Entheogens (Wasson 1980), in the archaic world, which still lives on in Amazonia and elsewhere, “every thing that lives is Holy,” as William Blake expressed it, especially the living, breathing, planetary biosphere, of which we are an integral part, and holiest of all are the wondrous entheogens, imbued with spirit power. Modern western culture has no official place for the entheogens precisely because it has no place for ecstasy. Dedicated, as we are, to treating the universe as matter, not as energy or spirit (Blake wrote that “Energy is Eternal Delight”), it embarrasses us to be reminded that our planet is alive and that every place is a sacred place.

Even our western religions with their vestiges of entheogenic plant lore (the ever-present “Tree of Life” with its entheogenic fruit; Ott 1979b; Wasson et al.1986) have forgotten their roots and worship symbols, knowing not the experience to which the symbols refer. As Joseph Campbell paraphrased Jung: “religion is a defense against the experience of God” (Campbell 1988). It is as though people were worshipping the decorations and hardware on a door- the portal to the Otherworld (Schele & Freidel 1990)- having lost the key to open it; having forgotten even that it is a door, and its threshold is meant to be crossed; knowing not what awaits on the Other Side. In the Judeo-Christian heritage, a horrendous duality has been imposed; the Divine is the Other, apart from humankind, which is born in sin. Despite overwhelming scientific and experiential evidence to the contrary, human beings are conceived of as a special creation apart from other animals, and we are enjoined to subdue the world, which is matter. This horrible superstition has led to the despoiling and ruin of our biosphere, and to the crippling neurosis and guilt of modern people (Hofmann 1980). I call this a superstition because when people have direct, personal access to entheogenic, religious experiences, they never conceive of humankind as a separate creation, apart from the rest of the universe. “Every thing that lives is Holy,” us included, and the divine infuses all the creation of which we are an integral part. As the dualistic superstition took root in our ancestors’ minds, their first task was to destroy all aspects of ecstatic, experiential religion from the archaic (“pagan”) world. The destruction of the sanctuary of Eleusis at the end of the fourth century of our era (Mylonas 1961) marked the final downfall of the ancient world in Europe, and for the next millennium the theocratic Catholic Church vigorously persecuted every vestige of ecstatic religion which survived, including revival movements. By the time of the “discovery” of the New World, Europe had been beaten into submission, the “witches” and “heretics” mostly burned, and ecstasy was virtually expunged from the memory of the survivors. For the Catholics, and for the Protestants after them, to experience ecstasy, to have religious experiences, was the most heinous heresy, justifying torture and being burned alive. Is it any wonder that today we have no place for ecstasy?

In the New World, however, the Age of Entheogens and ecstasy lived on, and although in 1620 the Inquisition in Mexico formally declared the use of entheogenic plants like peyotl (see Chapter 1) to be heresy and the Church vigorously extirpated this use and tortured and executed Indian shamans, ecstasy survives there even now. It bears witness to the integrity of the New World Indians that they braved torture and death to continue with their ecstatic religion- they must have been bitterly disappointed in the “placebo sacrament” of the Christian Eucharist, which is a placebo entheogen (Ott 1979b)- and it is largely as a result of the modern rediscovery of the shamanic cult of teonanacatl (see Chapter 5) by R. Gordon Wasson in Mexico in 1955 that the modern use of entheogens, in many respects a revival of ecstatic religion, began. Even though myriad justifications for the modern laws against the entheogens have been offered up, the problem modern societies have with these drugs is fundamentally the same problem the Inquisition had with them, the same problem the early Christians had with the Eleusinian Mysteries- religious rivalry. Since these drugs tend to open people’s eyes and hearts to an experience of the holiness of the universe… yes, enable people to have personal religious experiences without the intercession of a priesthood of the preconditioning of a liturgy, some psychonauts or epoptes will perceive the emptiness and shallowness of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition; even begin to see through the secular governments which use religious symbols to manipulate people; begin to see that by so ruthlessly subduing the earth we are killing the planet and destroying ourselves. A “counterculture” having ecstatic experiences in California is quite as subversive (Einhorn 1970) and threatens the power structures in Sacramento or Washington just as much as the rebellious Albigensians or Cathars, Bogomiles, Fraticelli “de opinione,” Knights Templar and Waldenisians threatened the power structure in Rome and Mediaeval times (Cohn 1975).

Since ecstasy was heretical, euphory, or euphoria (etymologically “bearing well”) was suspect, and the same Protestant ethic which warned that sex should not be enjoyed nor indulged in except for breeding held any ludible use of drugs to be sinful. This approach has been aptly described as “pharmacological Calvinism” (Klerman 1972). There was even a time when any use of drugs was considered to be sinful, when herbalists and midwives were burned at the stake beside the heretics, prayer being accepted as the only legitimate therapy (Ott 1985; Ott 1993b), when even laughter and smiles were the Devil’s handicraft. While some might consider these ideas to be quaint, even antiquated, we must recall that the American government has recently denied syringes to drug users and contraceptives to students- saying:”teenagers should be encouraged to say ‘no’ to sex and illegal drugs” (Anon. 1990)- “just say no” being considered to be the best contraceptive and the way to stem the drug-related spread of AIDS! Although we have at least 106 million alcohol users in the United States (54% of the population over 12 years of age), alcohol as inebriant is still illegal in parts of the U.S., and Puritan ideas regarding the sinful nature of inebriation are still dominant and underlie contemporary prohibition of just about every inebriant but alcohol.

Indeed, euphoria has generally been considered a negative side-effect of drugs, and structure-activity-relationship studies have been conducted with an eye to eliminating this “undesirable” trait! In reference to well-funded studies on alkaloids of opium and their derivatives, W.C. White, Chairman of a Committee on Drug Addiction of the U.S. National Research Council noted:

One of the chemical difficulties in this research has been to provide drugs which would prolong the pain control factor so as to reduce the need for repeated dosage and at the same time to eliminate the fraction responsible for euphoria… If this could be done, the same result might follow as occurred with cocaine… rapid decline in the use of cocaine as an addiction drug after the discovery of novacaine… (Small et al.1938)

Perhaps it was a little early to declare victory in the “War on Cocaine,” but White was correct in noting that, in the case of that drug, it was possible to separate the local-anesthetic “factor” of the cocaine molecule from the stimulating aspect, yielding more potent local anesthetics with limited stimulating or euphoric effects, although it has been claimed that “experienced cocaine users” could not distinguish equivalent intranasal quantities of lidocaine, one of the synthetic local anesthetics, from cocaine (Van Dyke & Byck 1982) and that cocaine’s euphoric allure and addictive power have been greatly exaggerated (Alexander 1990). In this case, however, the medicinal effect to be separated from the psychotropic “side-effect” is a local, peripheral effect. In the case of the opiate narcotic/analgesics, the medicinal effect of analgesia is as rooted in the brain as is the euphoric “side-effect,” and it has been claimed that the drugs are addictive because they so effectively change peripheral sensations from painful to pleasurable; that is, that a non-addicting opiate is impossible, a contradiction in terms Szasz 1974). Indeed, the non-addicting narcotic appears to be the philosophers’ stone of pharmacology, and the world has seen a parade of “non-addicting” (at least in pharmaceutical company propaganda) opiate analgesics, starting with heroin in the nineteenth century, some of which have even been marketed as “cures” for addiction (Escohotado 1989a). Some laypersons conceive of Methadone as being the “cure” for heroin addiction, when in reality it is another potent, addicting narcotic substituted for heroin in “narcotic maintenance” schemes.

Apart from the Puritan anti-pleasure ethic, inebriants like morphine, heroin, and cocaine acquired a bad reputation as a consequence of widespread use in so-called “proprietary” or “patent medicines” (Young 1961). The terms derive from the fact that the U.S. government, in the days before the “Pure Food and Drug Act” of 1906, issued patents to manufacturers of medicines, who were required to disclose the ingredients only to the Patent Office, not to the general public; the patents were on the names, they were actually trademarks (Musto 1973). Many of these products bore names like “consumption [tuberculosis] cure”; infant “colic syrup,” “teething syrup,” “anodyne” etc.; “one-night cough cure” and so forth. Typical products were “Adamson’s Botanic Cough Balsam and “Dr. Brutus Shiloh’s Cure for Consumption,” both of which contained heroin, as did “Dr. James’ Soothing Syrup Cordial” (Drake 1970). While opiates are certainly effective antitussives, and good palliatives to alleviate suffering from any disease, they are useless as therapy for tuberculosis (other than soothing cough) and today we don’t regard the use of drugs to tranquilize infants as appropriate. It has been stated that the proprietary medicinal manufacturers were immorally selling palliatives as tuberculosis cures, and indeed the morality of this is questionable. On the ether hand, in those days antibiotics did not exist, and there was no effective alternative therapy for tuberculosis which people might have taken in lieu of the anodynes, which at least made them feel better and cough less (thus theoretically reducing contagion) while they wasted away and died. Indeed, until the advent of the twentieth century, opium and its derivatives were among the few effective medicines available to physicians, and they indisputably deaden pain and alleviate suffering. No reasonable person advocates the use of palliatives in lieu of effective therapy, now that we have chemotherapies for a great number of the ailments which afflict us. On the other hand, what is wrong with more widespread use of palliatives as an adjunct to curative chemotherapy, pursuant to the truism that the better the patient feels, the sooner (s)he will be afoot again? As William Blake wrote in a letter dated 7 October 1803:

Some say that Happiness is not Good for Mortals, & they ought to be answer’d that Sorrow is not fit for Immortals & is utterly useless to any one; a blight never does good to a tree, & if a blight kill not a tree but it still bear fruit, let none say that the fruit was in consequence of the blight.

I say, why not conduct structure-activity relationship studies on euphoriant drugs to determine which drugs are the most euphoric and pleasurable, with the fewest side-effects? This research should be conducted with the same diligence we apply to searching for the best chemotherapy for tuberculosis or any other disease. Why shouldn’t patients have access to the most euphoric and pleasurable drugs to alleviate their suffering and make their therapy as pleasant as possible? As Aldous Huxley mentioned more than 60 years ago (Huxley 1931a):

The way to prevent people from drinking too much alcohol, or becoming addicts to morphine or cocaine, is to give them an efficient but wholesome substitute for these delicious and (in the present imperfect world) necessary poisons. The man who invents such a substance will be counted among the greatest benefactors of suffering humanity.

Instead of pursuing the impossible goal of engineering the euphoria out of pain-killing drugs, we need instead to find the ideal stimulant, the perfect euphoriant (what Huxley called Soma in Brave New World), the optimal entheogen (Huxley’s moksha-medicine of Island). Gottfried Benn proposed just this sort of research, which he characterized as “provoked life,” commenting: “potent brains are not strengthened by milk but alkaloids” (Benn 1963).

In a perverse way, the first steps toward this sort of “psychopharmacological engineering” have already been taken, in military research on performance-enhancing stimulants, in Nazi and CIA interrogation studies, in American research on “non-conventional chemical warfare” and in recent work on steroids to enhance athletic training and performance. Although the first tests of the effects of stimulants on soldiers, utilizing cocaine, were reported in 1883 (Aschenbrandt 1883), it wasn’t until the second World War that stimulants, in this case amphetamines, came to be widely used by soldiers, and much of the comparative research on military applications of stimulants dates from the postwar period (Weiss & Laties 1962). Similarly, while the Nazi physicians at the infamous Dachau concentration camp pioneered the use of entheogens, in that case mescaline, as interrogation aids, it was American researchers participating in the MKULTRA project in the postwar era who really pursued this questionable sort of work. The use of steroids to enhance athletic performance is a recent development, and the former communist government of East Germany especially furthered this work with a secret cash program during the 1980s (Dickman 1991). As many as 1500 scientists, physicians and trainers were involved in the research, which had as one goal the development of highly potent steroid derivatives active in sufficiently low doses as to be undetectable in “antidoping” tests. One success of the project was a psychotropic nasal spray containing a testosterone precursor which would not register on the tests. R Hannemann, a champion swimmer, described the effects as “like a volcanic eruption,” and said its use was mandatory for athletes who wished to compete on the East German team in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. In a recent refinement, Chinese athletes competing in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona (along with their former East German trainers), were reported to have used a training potion based on birds’ nest and toad skin, which probably contained many active compounds, some of which are controlled drugs (see Chapter 3; Anon. 1992b). It is regrettable that such perverse (but effective applications characterize the infancy of psychopharmacological engineering- we must recall the disproportionate success of East German and Chinese athletes in recent Olympic competition. I will suggest some more positive approaches.

Nobody disputes the widespread utility and need for opiates as pain killers in many branches of medicine. It is high time we abandoned any notion of the non-addicting narcotic, and instead concentrated on finding the drugs which patients like best. We are not interested in the results of crude pharmacological indices of analgesia in rodents, such as the “hotplate method” or “tail flick method,” but in the results of clinical research with human patients- in this case, I think it would be not the least bit difficult to find volunteers for this type of investigation. Since there is a considerable body of empirical testing which has been conducted outside of the laboratory among narcotic habitues, surveys can indicate promising candidates. Heroin has long been regarded to be the favorite drug of narcotics users, and would be a good place to start looking for the optimum narcotic. The contemporary use of Brompton’s Cocktail (an analgesic and stimulating mixture of heroin, cocaine and alcohol) in British hospices for terminal patients is an example of comfort-oriented therapy which ought to be followed in the United States. I think we will find that if non-terminal patients suffer less and feel better, their convalescence times will be reduced.

There is also a demonstrated extra-medical need for stimulants in our society. Examples are pilots and air traffic controllers who must work all night and require constant wakefulness and vigilance, truck and bus drivers, emergency medical workers, police, customs agents and other officials, and of course, military personnel. By accident of history, caffeine in coffee, soft drinks and tea (and in stimulant tablets, such as NoDoz), and nicotine in tobacco products have come to be the accepted stimulants for use in the above-mentioned professions. I must stress, however, that caffeine and nicotine have been anointed as society’s acceptable stimulants by default, since some of the alternatives are controlled substances. and in spite of research showing them to be inferior and unhealthful. Quite a bit of research has been conducted comparing caffeine with amphetamines, and almost invariably, amphetamines turn out to be superior to caffeine. Studies on reaction time under the influence of stimulants have found that in general caffeine has no effect on reaction times whereas amphetamines decrease reaction times (Adler et al. 1950; Lehmann & Csank 1957; Seashore & Ivy 1953; Weiss & Laties 1962). Amphetamines were also able to restore reaction times lengthened by fatigue in sleep-deprived subjects (Seashore & Ivy 1953). Marijuana (see Appendix A) on the other hand lengthens reaction time and impairs performance (Paton & Pertwee 1973b). With regard to steadiness of the hands, caffeine was found to impair steadiness (Adler et al.1950; Hollingworth 1912; Hull 1935; Lehmann & Csank 1957), while amphetamines improved hand steadiness (Adler et al. 1950; Seashore & Ivy 1953; Thornton et al.1939). In various coordination tests, amphetamines were in general more effective than caffeine in improving performance (Weiss & Laties 1962). Summarizing these and other studies, B. Weiss and V.G. Laties of Johns Hopkins University concluded (Weiss & Laties 1962):

A very wide range of behavior (with the notable exception of intellectual tasks) can be enhanced by caffeine and the amphetamines- all the way from putting the shot to monitoring a clock face. Moreover, the superiority of amphetamines over caffeine is unquestionable… Both from the standpoint of physiological and psychological cost, amphetamines and caffeine are rather benign agents. Except for reports of insomnia, the subjective effects of the amphetamines in normal doses are usually favorable. Moreover, no one has ever presented convincing evidence that they impair judgment. Caffeine seems somewhat less benign. Hollingworth’s subjects, after doses of about 240mg and above, reported such symptoms as nervousness, feverishness, irritability, headache, and disturbed sleep. Caffeine also produces significant increase in tremor. At dose levels that clearly enhance performance, the amphetamines seem not only more effective than caffeine, but less costly in terms of side-effects. [italics mine]

Little of this sort of research has been conducted on nicotine, but tobacco smoking, and the resulting increase in carbon monoxide in the blood, is known to degrade night vision (Federal Aviation Regulations 1991; Levin et al.1992; McFarland 1953; McFarland et al.1944). Although caffeine and amphetamine stimulants have not been shown to improve intellectual performance, and caffeine has in fact been shown to degrade academic performance in college students (Gilliland & Andress 1981), there is evidence that some drugs, like arecoline, the stimulating principle of betel nut (Sitaram et al.1978) and Hydergine, an ergot alkaloid preparation (Hindmarch et al.1979) can improve human learning and intellectual performance. Research into so-called “smart drugs” represents a burgeoning new field of psychopharmacological engineering, which merits scientific support (Erlich 1992; Jude 1991; Morgenthaler 1990; Morgenthaler & Dean 1991).

I don’t know about my readers, but I’d feel much safer if my pilot on an all-night intercontinental flight had taken 10mg of methamphetamine before departing, or perhaps an appropriate dose of arecoline hydrobromide, instead of chain-smoking Marlboros and gulping execrable airline coffee all the way. It is significant that the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has conducted research on optimizing performance of astronauts, settled on a NASA-developed “prescription” containing amphetamines for the pilots of the space shuttle orbiter Columbia:

On the maiden flight of the shuttle in April, rookie astronaut Robert Crippen avoided the queasies by dipping into the medical kit for a NASA-developed prescription of Dexedrine, a stimulant, and scopolamine, a tranquilizer. (Rogers 1981; see Appendix A)

Never mind that scopolamine has been found to impair human serial learning (Sitaram et al. 1978)… Meanwhile, Soviet cosmonauts were deprived of vision-impairing cigarettes, as Valery Ryumin lamented in his log during a 175-day sojourn in orbit (Bluth 1981):

I am dying for a cigarette. I haven’t had one in three months. And if I hadn’t been kept so busy, I don’t know how I would take it. Would give all those strawberries and sugar of our entire stay in space for just one…

And some people still persist in denying that nicotine is an addicting drug (Levin et al.1992)! In cases where public safety is at stake, we need a drug policy based on research, not on prejudice; based on science, not on default and accidents of history (it is worth noting that caffeine was originally considered for legal control along with cocaine, heroin and morphine by early reformers). The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is guilty of defaulting on its obligations to protect the safety of air travelers, by allowing the use by pilots of inferior stimulants which impair steadiness of pilots’ hands and degrade their night vision.

Some might object… even though caffeine is demonstrably inferior to amphetamines for pilots, everyone knows that amphetamines are “addictive” and hence unsuitable for such use. Such people will be well advised to consult the pharmacological literature on caffeine, which has been thoroughly documented as an addictive drug capable of eliciting tolerance and withdrawal symptoms (Colton et al.1968; Dreisbach & Pfieffer 1943; Goldstein & Kaizer 1969; Goldstein et al.1969; Ott 1985; Ott 1993b; White 1980). The fact that 90% of the U.S. population above 12 years of age are regular caffeine users (plus a sizable portion of the under-twelve set habituated to Coca-Cola and other caffeinated “soft” drinks) is ample testimony to the addictive nature of the drug (Goldstein & Kalant 1990). The 73 million 132-pound-bags of coffee consumed annually in the world correspond to 175 annual doses of caffeine (at 100mg/dose, assuming caffeine content of 2%) in the form of coffee for every man, woman and child in the world (Frankel et al.1992a), not to mention massive use of caffeine in the form of tea, mate, guayusa, yoco, guarana, cola, etc. (see Chapter 4, Note 1). But… can’t “abuse” of amphetamines lead to “amphetamine psychosis” (Cho 1990; Davis & Schlemmer 1979; Griffith et al.1970)? Yes, excessive amounts of amphetamines an lead to a characteristic psychosis, as can overuse of caffeine lead to “caffeine psychosis” (McManamy & Schube 1936). Although “caffeine psychosis” was first described in a patient who had consumed excessive amounts of caffeine citrate tablets (such as NoDoz) originally prescribed by a physician, the psychosis has also been observed following consumption of large amounts of cola soft drinks (20-25 cans in a day; Shen & D’Souza 1979), the moderate consumption of which is also associated with insomnia and anxiety (Silver 1971). Caffeinism can lead to symptoms virtually “indistinguishable from those of anxiety neurosis” (Greden 1974) and cases of “caffeine-induced delirium” have been reported (Stillner et al.1978). There have even been deaths attributed to coffee overdose in the form of naturopathic enema remedies (Eisele & Reay 1980. Obviously, one doesn’t want one’s pilot drinking a case of Coca-Cola or popping a bottle of NoDoz, any more than one would wish to be on a ‘plane flown by somebody who had injected a quarter of a gram of methamphetamine. The goal of psychopharmacological engineering of stimulants would be to find the optimal doses of the compounds which promote vigilance and wakefulness with a minimum of side effects like hand tremors. It is vital to public safety that such research be conducted, and if drug laws stand in the way, this is yet another example of their adverse impact on public health and on scientific research.

As for medicinal use of entheogens, their widespread use on the black market has given us some guidelines, as have better than two decades of experimental clinical use before their illegalization (see Grinspoon & Bakalar 1979 for a review of this early work.) However, new compounds have continued to be developed and tested (Repke & Ferguson 1982; Repke et al.1977b; Repke et al.1981; Repke et al.1985; Shulgin & Shulgin 1991), and some entheogenic plants or plant extracts such as ayahuasca (see Chapter 4) have begun to be used in modern psychotherapy (Krajick 1992), along with the “empathogen” MDMA (see Chapter 1; Adamson 1985; Adamson & Metzner 1988; Leverant 1986). Therefore new studies are necessary to determine which are the best entheogens for the following uses: 1) general, outpatient psychotherapy for various afflictions (Masters & Houston 1970); 2) “brief” psychotherapy in agonious treatment (Kast 1970); 3) long-lasting analgesia in agonious therapy; 4) marriage counseling; 5) group therapy (Blewett 1970); and 6) in experimental induction of dissociative experiences in psychotherapists as a part of their training. I think we will find that a variety of different entheogens will prove useful in various treatment modalities. For example, smoked, high-dose DMT would probably be the most effective drug for rapid induction of dissociative states in medical training (Bigwood & Ott 1977); LSD is probably the best drug in agonious therapy (Grof & Halifax 1977; and DET or CZ-74 or the plant drug Salvia divinorum (see Chapters 3 and 5 and Appendix A), owing to their short duration, might prove optimal for outpatient psychotherapy (Boszormenyi et al.1959; Leuner & Baer 1965). Preliminary experiments with psilocybine (see Chapter 5) suggested this drug could help cut the recidivism rate of paroled convicts (J. Clark 1970; Leary 1968). Instead of going broke building more prisons for drug offenders, ought we not investigate one illegal drug which might help keep people out of the prisons we already have?

Virtually all of the entheogens, or their natural prototypes, have already proven their worth in induction of ecstatic states in shamanism (Halifax 1979; Halifax 1982; La Barre 1970; La Barre 1972; La Barre 1979a; La Barre 1980a; Rosenbohm 1991; Wasson 1961) and in the catalysis of “religious experiences” (Clark 1969; W.H. Clark 1970; Felice 1936; Heard 1963; Leary 1964; Leary & Alpert 1963; Leary et al.1964; Masters & Houston 1966; Metzner 1968; Paz 1967; Ricks 1963; Watts 1962; Watts 1963; Zaehner 1957; Zaehner 1972; Zinberg 1977). Well-known examples of shamanic use of entheogens, which will be documented thoroughly in this book, are: primordial Siberian shamanic use of the fly-agaric, Amanita muscaria (see Chapter 6); the Mexican shamanic use of teonanacatl, the psilocybian mushrooms (see Chapter 5); pan-Amazonian shamanic use of ayahuasca in South America (see Chapter 4); use of tryptamine-containing snuffs in the Caribbean and Amazonia (see Chapter 3); divinatory use of ergoline alkaloid-containing morning glory seeds in Mexican shamanic healing (see Chapter 2) and North American shamanic use of the peyotl cactus (see Chapter 1). The value of the entheogens to organized religions has been amply demonstrated by the 2000-year survival of the famous Eleusinian Mystery religion of the ancient world (an annual, mass initiation employing an entheogenic potion containing ergoline alkaloids; Wasson et al.1978; see Chapter 2) and modern examples of the “Native American Church” and “The Peyote Way Church of God” employing peyotl as a sacrament (La Barre 1938; La Barre 1970; Mount 1987; Stewart 1987) and South American Christian churches incorporating Daime (ayahuasca) as a sacrament (Henman 1986; Liwszyc et al.1992; Lowy 1987; MacRae 1992; Prance 1970). Perhaps using these historical and modern examples as models will aid us in designing institutions to foster religious experiences in modern human users (Hofmann 1989). There is a place in the modern world both for organized entheogen-based religions and the shamanic model of small-scale cultic or individual use; for group communion and for solitary psychonaut “travels in the universe of the soul” (Gelpke 1981)- not to mention for medicinal use in various treatment modalities.

_____________________

Poetry: Two From The Edda









Baldur’s Dream (as translated by W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor)

The gods hurried to their hall of council,

Gathered together, goddesses with them,

All-powerful, eager to unriddle

Baldur’s dream that such dread portended.

Up rose Odhinn, unaging magician,

Harnesses Sleipnir, the eight-legged,

Sped down from Asgard to Hel’s Deep.

The blood-dabbled hound of Hel faced him,

Howling in frenzy at the father of runes.

The High One halted at the eastern gate,

Where loomed a tumulus, tomb of a witch.

Runes he chanted, charms of power:

Her spectre rose whom his spell commanded

To enlighten the god with the lore of the dead.

Who is he that on Hel intrudes?

Who calls me up, increasing my grief.?

Drenched by hail, driven by storm,

Dew-frozen, I am dead long.

I am Struggler’s Son, Strider, Way-Tamer,

Your secrets I ask: all earth’s I know.

Why are Hel’s halls hung with jewels,

Her chambers rivers of red gold?

For Baldur our mead is brewed strong

In a shining cauldron, a shield over it.

Odhinn on high in heart despairs.

Unwilling my words: I would no more.

Far-seeing witch, your words unriddle.

More will I ask: all will I know.

Who shall slay Baldur, best of the gods,

Who suck the life from the son of Odhinn?

Hodur the blind the branch shall throw,

From his brother’s body the blood to drain,

Sucking the life from the son of Odhinn.

Unwilling my words: I would no more.

Far-seeing witch, your words unriddle.

More will I ask: all will I know.

By whose hand shall Hodur fall

And Baldur’s bane be burned with fire?

Rindur the blessed shall bring forth Vali.

Though but a night old, he shall be the avenger,

His hands he shall wash not nor his hair comb

Till Baldur’s bane is borne to the pyre:

Unwilling my words: I would no more.

Far-seeing witch, your words unriddle.

More will I ask: all will I know.

Who are the maidens who shall mourn then,

Toss up to Asgard their trailing scarves?

Way-Tamer you are not, nor are you Strider:

You are Odhinn the wily, unaging magician.

Witch you are not, nor woman either:

Womb of monsters, you have mothered three.

Go home, Odhinn: air your triumph.

No guest shall again my grave visit,

Till wild Loki tear loose from his bonds

And the World – Wasters on the war-path come.

—————-







Vafrudnismal (The Lay Of Illusion)

translation adapted from the Codex Regius

ODIN: Advise me, Frigg, as I wish to journey Vaftrudnir, the riddler, (1) to seek in his hall! I crave to sound the ancient wisdom Of him, the all-wise titan.

FRIGG: At home would I rather see Hostfather tarry, in the courts of the gods; For no other giant I know has the equal Of Vaftrudnir’s power.

ODIN: Much have I traveled, much have I tested; Much from the various powers I learned. Now I will study in Vaftrudnir’s hall. How that one is furnished.

FRIGG: Fortune go with you, and then, in returning, may happiness be on the roads that you take! Nor fail you your wits, oh, Father of Ages, when you Vaftrudnir engage in debate.

Hence journeyed Odin to probe by a discourse. The wisdom and wit of the all-knowing titan: Arrived at the hall of the father of Im, forthwith the Thinker entered therein.

ODIN: Hail thee, Vaftrudnir, here am I come in your own hall to see you. First would I know if it’s wise you are or all-knowing, giant?

VAFTRUDNIR: Who is this man, who in my hall hurls such words at me? Never shall you leave this place if you are not the wiser.

ODIN: Gagnrad (2) is my name. I am come on foot and athirst to your hall; I have wandered afar and need a welcome and your hospitality, giant.

VAFTRUDNIR: Why stand you, then, Gagnrad, and speak from the floor? Step forward and sit in the hall. Then shall we measure whether the stranger or this old bard is more knowing.

GAGNRAD: A poor man who comes to a rich man’s house should be silent or wisely speak; Idle talk serves him ill who comes to a cold-ribbed (3) host.

VAFTRUDNIR: Tell me then, Gagnrad, as you from the floor will try your success: What name has that steed that draws each day over the sons of the ages?

GAGNRAD: Brightmane is he; the rose-colored one draws the day over the sons of ages; Held the most excellent steed by the people; His mane ever radiates sunlight.

VAFTRUDNIR: Tell me, then, Gagnrad, as you from the floor will try your success: What name has that steed that draws from the east the night over useful powers?

GAGNRAD: Frostmane is the steed that draws in space each night over useful powers; Each morning the froth falls from his bridle: Thence drops the dew in the dells.

VAFTRUDNIR: Tell me Gagnrad, as you from the floor will try your success: What name has that stream that is shared and divides the grounds of the gods and the titans?

GAGNRAD: Doubt is the stream that is shared and divides the grounds of the gods and the titans; He shall run free and open forever; No ice ever forms on that river.

VAFTRUDNIR: Tell me, then, Gagnrad, as you from the floor will try your success: What name has that plain where the battle is fought between Surt and the beneficent gods?

GAGNRAD: Vigrid is the plain where the battle is fought between Surt and the beneficent gods. One hundred days’ journey on every side, that plain is created for them.

VAFTRUDNIR: Wise are you, guest. Go to the bench and let us speak, seated together. Our heads we shall wager here in the hall on our wisdom and wit, Guest.

CAPITULUM GAGNRAD: Tell me first, if your wit suffices, and, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: Whence came the earth or the heaven above it, first, thou knowing giant?

VAFTRUDNIR: Of Ymer’s flesh was the earth formed, the mountains were built of his bones; Of the frost-cold giant’s brainpan heaven, and the billowing seas of his blood.

GAGNRAD: Tell me second, if your wit suffices, and, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: Whence came the moon that over men wanders, or likewise the sun?

VAFTRUDNIR: Mundilfore is father of moon and equally so of the sun; Both are borne across heaven each day to measure the years for man.

GAGNRAD: Tell me thirdly, as you are called knowing, Vaftrudnir if you know it: Whence comes the day that moves over men and the night with its dark of waning?

VAFTRUDNIR: Dawn it is that fathers the Day, while Night is the daughter of Dusk. Waxing and Waning the useful powers made for man’s measure of ages.

GAGNRAD: Tell me fourthly, as you are named forewise, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: Whence came the winter or the warm summer first to the forewise powers.

VAFTRUDNIR: Windcool is named the father of Winter but Mild is the summer’s sire; (4)

GAGNRAD: Tell me fifthly, as you are named pastwise, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: Who first of the Aesir’s or Ymer’s kin arose in the times of old?

VAFTRUDNIR: Unnumbered winters ere earth was formed was Bargalmer born; His father, it’s said, was Trudgalmer; Orgalmer his father’s sire.

GAGNRAD: Tell me sixthly, as you are named knowing, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: Whence came Orgalmer first among giant-sons in the dawn of time, wise giant?

VAFTRUDNIR: From Elivagor (5) sprang drops of venom, Until they became a giant; (6)

GAGNRAD: Tell me seventhly, as you are named skillful, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: How begat offspring the bold giant, as he had known no giantess?

VAFTRUDNIR: By degrees from the word of the frostgiant grew man and maid together; foot mated with foot and bore to the giant a many-headed son.

GAGNRAD: Tell me eighthly, as you are named pastwise, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: What is the first you remember or earliest know, thou all-wise giant?

VAFTRUDNIR: Unnumbered winters ere earth was formed, Bargalmer was born; The first I remember, the forewise giant was laid in the flour-bin. (7)

GAGNRAD: Tell me ninthly, as you are called clever, Vaftrudnir, if you know it: Whence comes the wind that wafts on the wave, though himself unseen?

VAFTRUDNIR: Rasvalg is perched at the end of the heavens, a giant in eagle guise; From his wings are wafted the wandering winds that howl o’er the human host.

GAGNRAD: Tell me tenthly, as the gods’ fates thou knowest, Vaftrudnir, to the full: Whence came Njord to the Asa-sons? He reigns over courts and sanctuaries, begotten of Asa-stock.

VAFTRUDNIR: In the home of the Vaner wise powers created and sent him as hostage to the gods; In the fullness of ages he shall return home with the wisdom of woe.

GAGNRAD: Tell me eleventhly, where the heroes each day slay one another:

VAFTRUDNIR: They select the Chosen, ride from the battle, then sit reconciled together.

GAGNRAD: Tell me twelfthly, Vaftrudnir, how the endless reach you know of the gods’ destiny. Of eons’ runes and of the gods’ you say what is truest, allwise giant.

VAFTRUDNIR: Of giants’ runes as well as of gods’ the truth I tell; For I have come into nine worlds, from hells below deepest Niflhel.

GAGNRAD: Much have I traveled, much have I tested, much from the various powers I learned: What humans live when for man has expired the dread Fimbul-winter?

VAFTRUDNIR: Life and Survivor, but they lie concealed in the memory-hoard of the sun. Morning dew is their food, and from them will be born ages to come.

GAGNRAD: Much have I traveled, much have I tested, Much from the various powers I learned: Whence will come the sun on a trackless sky when Fenris has overtaken this one?

VAFTRUDNIR: One daughter only the Elf-wheel bears before Fenris o’ertakes her; The radiant maid shall ride her mother’s roads when the gods are gone.

GAGNRAD: Much have I traveled, much have I tested, much from the various powers I learned: Who are the maids who, o’er watery waste unerringly find the way?

VAFTRUDNIR: Three mighty rivers flow through the lands of the maids of the son-in-law seeker: (8) They are hamingjor in their own right though they were fostered by giants.

GAGNRAD: Much have I traveled, much have I tested, much from the various powers I learned: Which of the Aesir remain as gods when the flames of Surt have subsided?

VAFTRUDNIR: Vidar and Vale shall dwell in the shrines of the gods when the flames of Surt have subsided. Mode and Magne shall then have Mjolnir and do Vingner’s (9) work.

GAGNRAD: Much have I traveled, much have I tested, much from the various powers I learned: What shall become of Odin the aged, when the rulers’ reign is riven?

VAFTRUDNIR: The wolf shall devour the Father of Ages, but Vidar shall come to avenge him; Vidar shall cleave the icy jaws with Vingner’s sacred weapon. (10)

GAGNRAD: Much have I traveled, much have I tested, much from the various powers I learned: What whispered Odin in the ear of his son, (11) as the latter was borne on the pyre?

VAFTRUDNIR: None knows what you in the foretime spoke at the pyre in the ear of your son. With the lips of one dead have I told my tale, Runes of old and of Ragnarok.

December 15, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

Live From Oregon… (with Lynne Pagan)

On The Music Box: Loop Guru- Possible Futures…











Busy as Beavers. You know the drill. Cold, almost full moon. Freezing Mist in the Morning. A silence lies on the land, but the Crows, they still act up. Dry times here in Oregon. We need a bit of rain or snow to balance it all out.

G

On The Menu

Links

Article: Newgrange: empowering the salmon of wisdom

Poetry: Lynne Pagan

Pics… various shots of the Oregon Coast, borrowed from Google Cache’s

________

Links:

Iraq: Irbil’s Kurds Live On A Hill Of Undiscovered Treasures

Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006

Something for Clark…. (David Byrne Link/Radio!)

___________

Newgrange: empowering the salmon of wisdom

Philip Coppens

-Newgrange is considered to be the most complex megalithic site in Ireland – and Europe. But despite the enormous focus on its solar display, little else is known about the framework in which the site was developed.-

It is said that one of the most spectacular phenomena to witness is the midwinter sunrise lighting up the interior of the passage grave at Newgrange. In Egypt, the Temple at Abu Simbel, built for Ramses II, incorporated the same “light show”, occurring at Ramses II’s birthday. When the temple was lifted to higher grounds when Lake Nasser and the Aswan Dam were created, the engineers made sure that the phenomenon could still be observed. Today, thousands of tourists still gather to watch one of the great sights in Egypt. At Newgrange, only a handful, lottery-picked people are invited to attend the phenomenon, which is visible two to three days each way from the solstice. For the absolute majority of tourists, the only manner in which the phenomenon is visible is by switching off the electric lights inside, and recreate the sunlight by a directional spotlight.

The megalithic mound of Newgrange sits along the river Boyne and is part of Ireland’s best known sacred complex, known as Brugh na Boinne, the “Bend of the Boyne”. Why here? The river Boyne, or Boand, means White Cow and as the White Cow Goddess, the river is said to reflect the heavenly river, the Milky Way. This “Avenue of the Dead” was also a physical boundary, between the provinces of Ulster and Meath. Furthermore, the waters of the river Boyne were also said to offer the gift of second sight, showing not only its sacred but also initiatory power.

Newgrange is impressive, but not overly impressive, even though an estimated 200,000 tons of granite stone from Dundalk Bay, plus white quartz from the Wicklow mountains, were used to create this cairn. It was surrounded by a circle of standing stones, of which only twelve of a probable 38 remain.

What has made the site spectacular is the fact that the designers allowed for an intricate solar show. However, it is less known that this light show is not limited to Newgrange, but involves various other cairns in the complex also. After Newgrange, the sun enters a number of satellite cairns during the day, until it enters the large cairn of Dowth at sunset. One of these smaller cairns, known as cairn K, harbours the sun at midday. This means that the sunbeam is constantly contained within a cairn throughout the shortest day of the year – as if “loosing” it could mean it would never be found again. Newgrange is therefore merely the “introduction” to a spectacle that lasts the entire shortest day of the year, with the finale at Dowth.

Where does this leave Knowth, the third large cairn in this bend of the Boyne? Knowth is actually the largest cairn in Ireland and was built 500 years before Newgrange. Yet despite these two important qualifying characteristics, it has less mythology connected to it than Newgrange. Still, Knowth equally has a solar light show; its passage is illuminated at sunrise on the equinoxes (March 21 and September 21).

Knowth is also known to house a calendar stone, namely kerbstone 52, also known as SW22. On it are a group of crescent shapes arranged around the large boulder. Some criticism has been directed towards the interpretation of this stone’s carvings as a lunar calendar. Still, at present, the consensus is that the stone records a calendar. The stone’s petroglyphic symbols thus suggest that the ancient Irish astronomers might have been able to synchronise the lunar cycles with the solar year. Gillies MacBain further observed that the great mound at Knowth has a kerb of 127 boulders, which is half the number of tropical moons in the Metonic cycle. Seeing they were able to perfectly align Newgrange to the midwinter sunrise, similar knowledge about and incorporation of lunar phenomena should not perplex anyone.

But back to Newgrange. Author Hugh Kearns has suggested that when the sun penetrated the passage of Newgrange, the sun struck a gold disc that hung inside. There is no archaeological evidence for this, but let us continue in this speculation.

He believes that the refracted light would then strike the Boyne river. Kearns tested his thesis on a 1:24 scale model, which backed up his findings. But it does rely on the presence of a disc, of which there is no evidence. The scenario itself seems unlikely, but what is known, is that while the sun penetrated into the passage, the same rays would hit the white quartz of the mound, making it glow in the early morning light. Kearns also believes that the event was accompanied by music, so that Newgrange was a “sound and light” show. His conclusions have independently been backed up by research by Paul Devereux, who investigated the features of Newgrange. He did an acoustical analysis of the structure, which showed that there was indeed an ancient sound and light show.

Despite the above unfounded speculation, Kearns does point out that vast numbers of salmon span in the Boyne Valley at the time of the winter solstice. Salmon were consulted by Celtic heroes for their wisdom and forethought; to eat a salmon, or Eo Feasa, was to gain immediate knowledge. They are incorporated into many myths: Gwyrhr questioned a series of wise animals, each one wiser than the previous.

The oldest and wisest of all was the salmon of Llyn Llyw. Cúchulainn used the hero’s salmon leap across the Pupils’ Bridge to get Scáthach’s stronghold in order to gain access to Scáthach’s advanced knowledge of arms. To gain the secrets, Cúchulainn had to use the hero’s salmon leap to Scáthach herself in order to gain the secrets reserved for her family. Eating salmon was believed to enhance knowledge and intellect. Let us note that the water of the river itself was believed to enhance second sight. Thus, drinking the water and eating the salmon of the river Boyne would allow the initiate the gain knowledge of the Otherworld. It would suggest that the presence of the salmon at the winter solstice identified the site as sacred in nature, which in later millennia resulted in the area becoming a religious centre, into which the various cairns were constructed, whereby the sun penetrating into the passages and being “caught” on the sacred day was just one aspect of a much larger and older religious experience.

Apart from salmon, the site was linked with the Boand, the Cow Goddess. The location is known as the “Bend of the River of the White Cow Goddess”. Of course, the cow is the origin of milk, and hence it is a short step from Milky Way to “Track of the White Cow”. But what could it mean?

The salmon returns to its place of birth, so that itself can create new life. The river Boyne is one such location. The salmon was identified with knowledge and mankind strives for divine knowledge, which was believed to come from the stars, the realm where the shamans – those with second sight – went. Was capturing the sun on its shortest day a symbolism of how the “power of the sun” was captured in this bend of the river Boyne, the power of which was then somehow “transposed” onto the salmon? Those who consequently ate the salmon would acquire “divine knowledge”, through the mediation of the solar light.

The Milky Way, and the river Boyne, was therefore a path of enlightenment. The salmon was the shaman, the traveller, in search of his origin, but also of his destiny.

The salmon supposedly gained its knowledge by consuming the nine hazel nuts of wisdom that fell into the Well of Segais, the primary source of all knowledge in Celtic lore.

Nechtán was one of the guardians of the well, along with his brothers Flesc, Lám and Luam.

No-one but they were supposed to go to the well – not even the gods. However, just like Adam could not control Eve with the serpent, Nechtán’s wife Boand decided that she would disobey the command. As a result, the knowledge of the “Fountain of all Knowledge” sprang over into our realm – echoing the story of Adam and Eve even further. Once the water was gushing into this dimension, it could no longer be stopped; the river Boyne was born.

It should not come as a surprise that like Adam and Eve, there were repercussions. In one account, she was drowned because of her, in another she lives but is crippled ever after. Still, the river Boyne was named after her.

It is clear that she is a perfect symbol for the shaman, who goes in search of knowledge in the Otherworld, but brings it back with him – thus spilling the knowledge of the divine into our realm. The path the shaman travels is often identified as the Milky Way, and we note Bóann is not only identified with the river Boyne, but also with the Milky Way. Finally, William Battersby, author of “The Age of Newgrange” states that Nechtain, Bóann’s husband, is identified as the constellation Orion. Nechtain was nicknamed “silver arm” because his constellation has an upraised arm. Orion was often believed to guard the Milky Way.



(Image of the winter solstice sunrise penetrating into Newgrange)

What does this mean for Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth? The waters from the Well of Segais created the river Boyne in Ireland, on whose banks sit the mighty mounds of Brú na Boinne (Newgrange), Cnogba (Knowth), and Dubgad (Dowth), where some of the Gods were said to live. Boann herself was said to have lived in the Brú na Boinne. Na Boinne means the river Boyne, and Bru means an otherworld palace or festive hall, existing in an eternal timeless realm of the supernatural and not as a place of human habitation. The mounds were therefore seen as houses of the gods. Most likely, the gods were personified as sacred stones, no doubt long since removed to other locations or lost. The stones on which the sun shone on the winter solstice or the equinoxes were no doubt seen as entrance into another dimension, where the gods truly lived.

What remains today are thus merely the empty – vacated – houses of the god, even though each year, the sun continues to go in search of its divine relatives…

____________________

Poetry: Lynne Pagan

Ed Bennett turned me on to Lynnes work a week or so ago. I thought I would share it with you all…. G

December, 2005, Common Era

for Townsend Angell

The Harvest Moon has brightened the night for the long work of winter’s coming,

The Hunter’s Moon has shown the game in the quest for meat,

and now the darkest time of Winter Solstice comes upon us.

The summer’s jars of floral bounty gleam quiet

as the plants they come from, now settled in sleep

for the sweep of the Cycle. O let us keep

the ancient symbiosis of gardener and grape,

president and peach, let us each

pray, praise, & weep

for this, our very existence

in our humble planet’s narrow range of heat

as each year she re-creates

the blossom of the Universe

sweet.

—————

Hard Lovin’

for all activists

especially the women

and

for Lloyd Marbet

this poem uses the generic she

She does no alienated labor.

It is all, ultimately, chosen.

It is all, ultimately,

for love.

Again, every day

ask me over and over

so many times

whatever it is

and always I pray I can answer

again this time with

love.

The eight a.m. public hearing

feels as imperative as any employer

in the early dark and dawn.

The long demands of paperwork,

suits and ties for hours

in bureaucratic rooms;

and, of course,

the exquisite pinnacle of our civilization’s tortured pleasures:

driving and driving and driving.

and these are only

the daily tortures of the mind and body.

the superficial wounds

the abstract rationalization & bureaucratization

of the gory reality:

the death of a loved one.

————

Hill Cemetery

The molecules rise singing

in each of us.

Fed richly

from the Hills

the cedar tree returns their largesse

in ample shade & presence.

The view is prime and I know

he bought it because

he had money and taste—

or Sarah Jane did.

(“his wife”)

And they too have an imposing granite tombstone,

such as I wish to have,

its signs and portents delineating

their significance—

granite lasts awhile,

marble’s gone in one mere century,

but even granite lasts only

for a long while.

Where are the black stones at crossroads

still here from pagan times

but the stones are gone?

We have only words of them left

outlasting the granite—

one of the most resistant materials

on the planet.

But even information dies

when no one understands

the language context time

or cares

who bronze-etched so-and-so

on building plaques

that one lies.

The molecules rise

singing in each of us,

the molecules

rise.

————–

Prayer for Jill to Come Back to Oregon

(In the late 1990’s, a group of Brazilians was found by a Jewish scholar to be descendents of Marrones, Jews at the time of the Inquisition who hid by converting to Christianity. What they had left was not even a traditional Jewish ritual, and no knowledge of their history.)

In Brazil, every Friday evening,

they turned him to the wall.

The last remnant and trace

of a hiding people.

Five hundred years finally hid them

from all but one

scholar. From all but one

remnant, one trace, one

unknown ritual they performed

uncomprehending.

And one scholar found them back.

In the women’s shelter apartment

I turn his face to the wall.

The crucifix is the ex’s ritual object,

and it should not shine on us.

Five thousand years of hiding

and the Goddess

is finding us

back.

_______

Lynne Pagan – Bio



I came to Oregon in 1967 to go to college and fell in love with the state. I have been here since then except for two years on the sea in a three-masted Baltic schooner in 1969-71. I work every other week pushing paper & computer keys at Mail Services at Reed College. Every other week I try to improve “The Cosmos”, the Queen Anne Victorian house I live in, the rest of the cosmos as well, and enjoy the terrain of my beloved Oregon. Every so often the muse arises and I write down a poem.



_______

I hope you enjoyed this edition.

Have a good one!

G

December 14, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

A wee bit of John Donne…

On The Music Box: Solas-The Edge of Silence…

Wednesday soon… it is now late. Cold here, though the day was a beauty. Changing the format a bit. Poetry seems to be my main Schtick, so, poetry first (kinda), whatever comes after.

So now the plan for the Nephews 21st Birthday is going out for a drink together. I don’t know if I should encourage this or not. Oh hell, as long as they are buying, I am game for anything….80)

On The Menu:

The Links

Poetry: John Donne

The Article: Bee Recognition…

Catcha Later!

G

___________

The Links:

Cthulhu Dildo Cthozy – He’ll make you shout IA! IA! CTHULHU FTHAGN!!

The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts

Liberating Capital, You and Me.

__________

POETRY: John Donne

Long a favourite of mine….!











WITCHCRAFT BY A PICTURE.

by John Donne



I FIX mine eye on thine, and there

Pity my picture burning in thine eye ;

My picture drown’d in a transparent tear,

When I look lower I espy ;

Hadst thou the wicked skill

By pictures made and marr’d, to kill,

How many ways mightst thou perform thy will?

But now I’ve drunk thy sweet salt tears,

And though thou pour more, I’ll depart ;

My picture vanished, vanish all fears

That I can be endamaged by that art ;

Though thou retain of me

One picture more, yet that will be,

Being in thine own heart, from all malice free.

——

ELEGY XVII. ELEGY ON HIS MISTRESS.









By our first strange and fatal interview,

By all desires which thereof did ensue,

By our long starving hopes, by that remorse

Which my words masculine persuasive force

Begot in thee, and by the memory

Of hurts, which spies and rivals threaten’d me,

I calmly beg. But by thy father’s wrath,

By all pains, which want and divorcement hath,

I conjure thee, and all the oaths which I

And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,

Here I unswear, and overswear them thus ;

Thou shalt not love by ways so dangerous.

Temper, O fair love, love’s impetuous rage ;

Be my true mistress still, not my feign’d page.

I’ll go, and, by thy kind leave, leave behind

Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind

Thirst to come back ; O ! if thou die before,

My soul from other lands to thee shall soar.

Thy else almighty beauty cannot move

Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,

Nor tame wild Boreas’ harshness ; thou hast read

How roughly he in pieces shivered

Fair Orithea, whom he swore he loved.

Fall ill or good, ’tis madness to have proved

Dangers unurged ; feed on this flattery,

That absent lovers one in th’ other be.

Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change

Thy body’s habit, nor mind ; be not strange

To thyself only. All will spy in thy face

A blushing womanly discovering grace.

Richly clothed apes are call’d apes, and as soon

Eclipsed as bright, we call the moon the moon.

Men of France, changeable chameleons,

Spitals of diseases, shops of fashions,

Love’s fuellers, and the rightest company

Of players, which upon the world’s stage be,

Will quickly know thee, and no less, alas !

Th’ indifferent Italian, as we pass

His warm land, well content to think thee page,

Will hunt thee with such lust, and hideous rage,

As Lot’s fair guests were vex’d. But none of these

Nor spongy hydroptic Dutch shall thee displease,

If thou stay here. O stay here, for for thee

England is only a worthy gallery,

To walk in expectation, till from thence

Our greatest king call thee to his presence.

When I am gone, dream me some happiness ;

Nor let thy looks our long-hid love confess ;

Nor praise, nor dispraise me, nor bless nor curse

Openly love’s force, nor in bed fright thy nurse

With midnight’s startings, crying out, O ! O !

Nurse, O ! my love is slain ; I saw him go

O’er the white Alps alone ; I saw him, I,

Assail’d, fight, taken, stabb’d, bleed, fall, and die.

Augur me better chance, except dread Jove

Think it enough for me to have had thy love.

—————–

THE ECSTACY.

by John Donne



WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,

A pregnant bank swell’d up, to rest

The violet’s reclining head,

Sat we two, one another’s best.

Our hands were firmly cemented

By a fast balm, which thence did spring ;

Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread

Our eyes upon one double string.

So to engraft our hands, as yet

Was all the means to make us one ;

And pictures in our eyes to get

Was all our propagation.

As, ‘twixt two equal armies, Fate

Suspends uncertain victory,

Our souls—which to advance their state,

Were gone out—hung ‘twixt her and me.

And whilst our souls negotiate there,

We like sepulchral statues lay ;

All day, the same our postures were,

And we said nothing, all the day.

If any, so by love refined,

That he soul’s language understood,

And by good love were grown all mind,

Within convenient distance stood,

He—though he knew not which soul spake,

Because both meant, both spake the same—

Might thence a new concoction take,

And part far purer than he came.

This ecstasy doth unperplex

(We said) and tell us what we love ;

We see by this, it was not sex ;

We see, we saw not, what did move :

But as all several souls contain

Mixture of things they know not what,

Love these mix’d souls doth mix again,

And makes both one, each this, and that.

A single violet transplant,

The strength, the colour, and the size—

All which before was poor and scant—

Redoubles still, and multiplies.

When love with one another so

Interanimates two souls,

That abler soul, which thence doth flow,

Defects of loneliness controls.

We then, who are this new soul, know,

Of what we are composed, and made,

For th’ atomies of which we grow

Are souls, whom no change can invade.

But, O alas ! so long, so far,

Our bodies why do we forbear?

They are ours, though not we ; we are

Th’ intelligences, they the spheres.

We owe them thanks, because they thus

Did us, to us, at first convey,

Yielded their senses’ force to us,

Nor are dross to us, but allay.

On man heaven’s influence works not so,

But that it first imprints the air ;

For soul into the soul may flow,

Though it to body first repair.

As our blood labours to beget

Spirits, as like souls as it can ;

Because such fingers need to knit

That subtle knot, which makes us man ;

So must pure lovers’ souls descend

To affections, and to faculties,

Which sense may reach and apprehend,

Else a great prince in prison lies.

To our bodies turn we then, that so

Weak men on love reveal’d may look ;

Love’s mysteries in souls do grow,

But yet the body is his book.

And if some lover, such as we,

Have heard this dialogue of one,

Let him still mark us, he shall see

Small change when we’re to bodies gone.





_____________

The Melissa was right….

Bumblebees Recognize People

By Larry O’Hanlon, Discovery News

Dec. 13, 2005 —Don’t be too proud of never forgetting a face: It turns out even a humble bumblebee can distinguish and recall different human faces, say researchers who have conducted experiments on the surprisingly canny insects.

Researchers in the UK have found that bumblebees show a remarkable ability to spot the same human face even days after training.

The training consisted of showing the bees the very same series of black-and-white pictures of faces that are used to test human memory. The bees got tasty or sour rewards for choosing correctly and incorrectly.

The newfound bumblebee ability is likely connected to their ability to recognize different flowers, says discoverer Adrian Dyer of La Trobe University in Australia and Cambridge University.

On the other hand, the discovery is one of a long string over the last decade about various animals which all point to one startling revelation: It doesn’t take a huge human brain or even a mammalian brain to recognize individual human faces or do a lot of other complex tasks.

“The more we study these creatures, the more we find they have abilities like ours,” observed insect vision researcher Mandyam Srinivasan of Australian National University in Canberra.

From bees to wasps, spiders and even sheep, other animals have proven they can not only recognize our faces, but they navigate mazes, match objects and shapes and even associate smells with previous experiences.

“Sometimes I wonder what we are doing with two-kilogram brains,” mused Srinivasan.

Bumblebees, for their part, have brains weighing less than a tenth of a gram — that’s about 20,000 times less massive than the human brain.

The larger implications of such a small number of neurons doing such complex tasks are intriguing, but not obvious, says Dyer. There is the possibility, for instance, that someday humans who have experienced brain damage could borrow the bumblebee trick — whatever the trick is — to relearn facial recognition and other lost abilities, he says.

There are also big implications for the security industry and artificial intelligence, Srinivasan point out.

“Face recognition is such a hard thing,” said Srinivasan. “People are still working on it for computer and security systems.”

The bumblebee experiment implies there is a simpler solution to the problem that artificial intelligence researchers haven’t yet hit on, he said.

Implications aside, Dyer admits that his new study does seem a bit strange at first glance. In fact, that’s why he and his colleagues had to sneak the bumblebee experiment in at the tail end of another experiment at Queen Mary College in London, he says. “It’s not an idea you’d readily attract funding for,” said Dyer.

His report on the experiment appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology

December 13, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

Phytomphalos

On The Music Box – Lisa Gerrard/The Mirror Pool, extended album



“Philosophy is antipoetic. Phisosophize about mankind and you brush aside individual uniqueness, which a poet cannot do without self-damage. Unless, for a start, he has a strong personal rhythm to vary his metrics, he is nothing. Poets mistrust philosophy. They know that once the heads are counted, each owner of a head loses his personal identity and becomes a number in some government scheme: if not as a slave or serf, at least as a party to the device of majority voting, which smothers personal views.”

(from The Case for Xanthippe, in The Crane Bag, 1969) Robert Graves



I have been persuaded that this really isn’t a blog by some of my younger relatives. More like a wading pool that turns out to be bottomless. (“It takes me hours to read!” they say. I said, “Really?”) This conversation has come up a couple of times. I speak specifically of the Nephews of course. Rowan just plain stays away from it (runs away, waving hands frantically in the air)

Said Nephews are turning 21 in a couple of days. This has happened way to fast. I remember them as incredibly wee people, but that has certainly changed… Time flies, I know, oh I know.



Re Turfing: I am attempting a shorter version of this for those who are overwhelmed. Less Links, Quotes and the like, unless you actually like the overload. Your feedback is appreciated on this, really. let me know.



Some wonderful stuff today.

Article/Poem ~ Phytomphalos by Jonathan Ott (more on the way as well…)

Poetry: Robert Graves.

Random Illustrations from the 19th Century as well.

Blessings,

G

________________

ARTICLE: Jonathan Ott

Phytomphalos

Copyright © 1996, Jonathan Ott /All Rights Reserved

(Salta, Argentina 18 June 1996)

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all Ridicule & Deformity, & by these I shall not regulate my proportions; & Some Scarce see Nature at all. But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination itself. As a man is, So he Sees. As the eye is formed, such are its Powers.

~William Blake – Letter to Dr. Trusler (23 August 1799)

Psychonauts or cosmonauts, they come from the Milky Way, aboard Anaconda-Canoe, our primordial parents — the Desana call her Gahpí Mahsó, or ‘Caapi Woman’— ascending the mighty rivers of the Upper Amazon, fecund serpents of the soil, even to the hoary Rock of Nyí on the Pira-paraná; there, on the Equator, so they say…there, to people from the planet. From beyond the Milky Way they came, psychocosmonauts, Anaconda-canoe-borne on Ahpikondiá, the River of Milk, where the House of the Waters stood, there to people the planet. Anaconda-canoe also bore a precious, verdant cargo; exotic plants, some say, from beyond the Milky Way, just three—cassava, ipadú and caapi—to sustain our bodies, minds and spirits.

Here is the real Trinity, of this we can be certain; for our lives, like most life on this planet, hang on threads of plants, green leafy lifelines ’twixt planetary dust and stellar fire—not on the whims of some wizened, graybeard god, thronenthralled. Phytalchemical wizards conjuring life from streaming photons and dancing dust-devils, even out of thin air—such are our projenitors…how right the Tukanoan Indians were, to reduce the essentials of our creation to those three plants, succor for body, mind and spirit, our Phytotrinity, our PHYTOMPHALOS. Cassava root, succulent, starchy, to stoke the electron fires that roil our blood and sweeten up our brains; ipadú, toothsome coca, energy – ensconcing, leafen love, to strengthen our bodies and nourish our minds; and caapi or ayahuasca, heavenhalm helix, strand of spirits, genelike gyre of generations untold, guiding our hearts, here and now. This is our true Trinity, of which is woven our warp of blood and bone and sinew, as surely as our weft of culture, art and history….of such leafy stuff are we made, there can be no doubt.

Some say the River of Milk was the Jordan, not the Pira-paraná, or the Ganga Yamuna, or Mississippi, for the universe is indeed wider than our views of it, but the milk is the same, wash shores it might; ’tis the milk of plantly kindness, freely flowing from the roots of the Cosmic Tree, PHYTOMPHALOS, where the very heavens turn…Nyí or Delphi, doesn’t matter; Mimirs Well, or Fountain of Youth, or Water of Life, or Lake of Milk…Soma-Milk, birch-maiden breast-borne, it’s all the same font of culture, Tree of Life, PHYTOMPHALOS, our connection to Pangæa, without which nor are we. PHYTOMPHALOS grows not in some geocircumscribed garden, nor in Eden nor on Parnassos, nor indeed the shores of Saryanvat—not merely—but upon ’most every square millimeter of Our Lady Gæa’s splenderous body, all sacred ground, our Paradises bound only by her vaporous breath (and just barely), by thin air; the cherubim-gate-guarding flaming swords, nought but ignorant ego and pious prejudice, paltry human stuff.

Some dare call our natural paradises artificial, our one true religion an inferior form of mysticism—O, pitiable, foolish young men! Nothing could be farther from the truth, no lie bigger. What could be more natural than to sip culture direct from Mimir’s Well, as our foremothers did and whence it first flowed, even as our fellow creatures do all ’round us; what could be more artificial than to forsake experience in dogma’s favor—dogged, doggerel dogma, musty, fossilized humanstuff!—to fell PHYTOMPHALOS and erect a temple in its gardeny glen; yea, hew coarse beams and hack poor pews of that very living umbilicus, O, and ghastly coffins, too; then bury our dead in the sacred ground our foolish actions defiled, desecrating it? Talk of heaven! Ye disgrace Earth! William Blake called our natural paradise The Garden of Love, and wrote of its human despoilation:

And I saw it filled with graves,

And tomb-stones where flowers should be;

And Priests in black gowns walking their rounds,

And binding with briars my joys and desires.

So the artificial became natural, the truly natural, artificial…the lie was consumated and or college of artificer-augurs solemnly proclaimed black to be white and white black, when humankind once trusted its eyes and lenses as PHYTOMPHALOS provided. Shut out from the natural paradises, the way even to the artificial blocked by tolltakers and foolish dogmatists, humankind was bereft in a wilderness of its own making, burning or beatifying the few who still found their way back. A wise being called it the end of life and the beginning of survival….from natural paradises to artificial hell…falling into history, the nightmare from which we are all struggling to awake.

But PHYTAMPHALOS had sunk its roots deep into Pangæa, far deeper than the rotting veneer of humanstuff, deeper even than we might dig, down into the human brain, profounder than thought, even to the strata of instinct and desire. There it set its seeds, year after year; generations passing like the moons, ages blowing in the winds, æons adrift on a river of time, whose thin current slides away, while eternity remains, washed clean by the years…..there, on the ever shrinking frontiers of human habitation; here, in the very shadow of the church, in the biggest humanscape on the shining face of Pangæa. We die, our cultures die…the very words we weave worlds of perish, but PHYTOMPHALOS persists in many of its protean forms, for it is the very texture of eternity, woven not of words but the stuff of stars, the divine afflatus breathed into it by the solar wind, fiery star stuff made cool, green life in the watery alembic of the bluest planet in this corner of the universe…..We are indeed like giants plunged into the years, we are that roiling and sonorous, yet shallow, thin current that slides away over the sandy bottom of eternity in which PHYTOMPHALOS has sunk its roots. Whether we choose to founder, or navigate this Amazon of the Æons, we cannot resist its fearsome course, no Anaconda-Canoe bears us upstream.

Phytalchemical, phyteternal, sepultered even beneath the slow, steady accretion of sixteen hundred annular rings of human folly, protean PHYTOMPHALOS, indifferent to history, loving even the shadows, an artificial, archaic, anarchic; yet nurtured its kine, set its seed in subhistorical strata of Lady Gæa’s lush loins, even in human history, faint fossilized frondprints on the strands of our words, fabric of our reality, on that repertory of wood-notes wild. Could we but attune ourselves to the faint descant that rises from them, we could hear the ethereal echo of its icaro…listen, yes, you can hear it still….a whisper on the night, sighing in the trees of language, leafy rustle of solar wind afflatus…windsong, treesighs, whispering on the night…soothsighing, songsaying, windsighing whispery on the night eternal….there is the soothing music of this Gæan sphere, sensous, sonorous soothsong.

Casting its siren song on the winds of language, setting its seed in subhistorical, subneural strata, PHYTOMPHALOS endured, plantpatient, strong; ever ready for that magic moment when some manimal communicant, awestruck, headbowed, with trembling fingers should touch the tender petals of its fecund fragrant flower and bid them open, for long hours to inhale the aroma of its peculiar dreams into a marveling and bewildering being. Phytalchemical plantpatient pedagogue, protean stuff of stars, font of language, culture, art, windwhispers sighing in its leafy branches, ages blowing in the solar wind over the shallow stream of time, years washing eternity into its siren song, dusty delicate danceprints on the windblown fabric of our wordwoven worlds, divine afflatus lofting languid longing Lorelei lovesongs, loin-lush logos lambent on leafy limbs of language, soothsighing soaring icaro…rotting veneer of foetid humanstuff so much fertilizer for its omnigæan roots, compost of culture. And all the while we die…we cultures die…we wordwoven worldweft wordweb windwhispers wither and waste away….way, awaste away, awhence we came, windy dust, wafted along a milky river of suns, down to a starry sea.

Amazon of the Æons, torrent of time…corporal canoes caroming chaotically in Chronos’ current and cataract, colossal giants plunged into it’s course, ceaseless current of years, cataract of centuries cascading….sliding over sandy shoals semptiternal, down the milky river of the galaxy, its bottom pebbly with stars. Heavenhalm helix, genelike, generations gyring like moons, ages blowing æons adrift, Tree of Life, roots sunk deep in the astral bottom of time, tendering its trenchant trunks to tether our timetossed triremes….corporalcanoes, mindmasts flying spiritspinnackers ….running ever downwind, reaching to that milky haven of heaven, its bottom pebbled with stars, solarwind stardust, setting sail on a swirling sea of suns.

Stalwart phyteternal PHYTOMPHALOS, plantstrong, protean puissant….laughing logos lustral on its leafy limbs…tendering tethers to timetossed tomorous triremes….wizened Oaxacan wisewoman, logos leaping from ladylush loins, language loquacious on the loinlush ground…windwhispers soothsighing…treesong timbreternal tethery tendrils….leafy living logos lying latent, listenerlonging.



Listen…yes, you can hear it still….icaros echoing eternal on the solar wind….phytalchemical pedagogues, phyterternal….plantpatient starstuff…heavenly haven pebbly with suns…starshine on aqueous alembic harboring heavenhalm helix….stardust asail on a milky river of time….PHYTOMPHALOS, plantpersisting, fragrant fecund flowers opening to our tremulous touch, nectarneeding…tendriling tethers, tendering treesong silken on the nectary night….listen, O, listen…can’t you hear its dulcent song? All you have to do is listen, and dream…logos lofting on the solar breeze, listenerlonging…logos leaping loquacious from the loinlush landscape….logos lambent over Æon’s

Amazon, Ahpikondiá. Milky river of stars…timetossed triremes reaching for home, running downwind to a heavenly haven, starstriving.

O, listen,do….treesong windwhispers soothsighing, tethertendering….solar wind lilting leafen logos…nectar wafting on the starmilky night…treesighs stirring in the branches of language…ambrosia welling up from the deepsunk roots, anchored in the starsandy subtrate of time, astral alembic of æons, everflowing milky river. Listen, yes, and dream…drink dream draughts of astral amrta…drink, dream to its insistent icaro….rilling riverine reveries, starbottomed….

____________

Poetry:Robert Graves







The Siren’s Welcome to Cronos

Cronos the Ruddy, steer your boat

Toward Silver Island whence we sing;

Here you shall pass your days.

Through a thick-growing alder-wood

We clearly see, but are not seen,

Hid in a golden haze.

Our hair the hue of barley sheaf,

Our eyes the hue of blackbird’s egg,

Our cheeks like asphodel.

Here the wild apple blossoms yet;

Wrens in the silver branches play

And prophesy you well.

Here nothing ill or harsh is found.

Cronos the Ruddy, steer your boat

Across these placid straits,

With each of us in turn to lie

Taking your pleasure on young grass

That for your coming waits.

No grief nor gloom, sickness nor death.

Disturbs our long tranquility;

No treachery, no greed.

Compared with this, what are the plains

Of Elis, where you ruled as king?

A wilderness indeed.

A starry crown awaits your head,

A hero feast is spread for you:

Swineflesh, milk and mead.

———————-

The White Goddess

All saints revile her,

and all sober men Ruled by the God Apollo’s golden mean -

In scorn of which we sailed to find her

In distant regions likeliest to hold her

Whom we desired above all things to know,

Sister of the mirage and echo.

It was a virtue not to stay,

To go our headstrong and heroic way

Seeking her out at the volcano’s head,

Among pack ice, or where the track had faded

Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers:

Whose broad high brow was white as any leper’s,

Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,

With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips.

The sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir

Will celebrate with green the Mother,

And every song-bird shout awhile for her;

But we are gifted, even in November

Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense

Of her nakedly worn magnificence

We forget cruelty and past betrayal,

Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall

———————-

TO BRING THE DEAD TO LIFE

To bring the dead to life

Is no great magic.

Few are wholly dead:

Blow on a dead man’s embers

And a live flame will start.

Let his forgotten griefs be now,

And now his withered hopes;

Subdue your pen to his handwriting

Until it prove as natural

To sign his name as yours.

Limp as he limped,

Swear by the oaths he swore;

If he wore black, affect the same;

If he had gouty fingers,

Be yours gouty too.

Assemble tokens intimate of him –

A ring, a hood, a desk:

Around these elements then build

A home familiar to

The greedy revenant.

So grant him life, but reckon

That the grave which housed him

May not be empty now:

You in his spotted garments

Shall yourself lie wrapped.

___________

December 12, 2005
by gwyllm
0 comments

Bright as Helios…



So we go out to German Town Road today looking for the Yule Tree (Solstice being just around the corner)

Terry C., joins us on an adventure west on HWY 30, past the bridge and up the old German Town Road to Andy’s Tree Farm. (Andy is from Norway, a long, long time ago) The late afternoon is BRILLIANT… Sunshine, cool air, and a south facing slope with Andy, his dog Rose (10 years old). Andy has been a Xmas/Yule Tree Farmer since 1964… I guess he has it down…. 8o) We were on the prowl for Noble Fir, but Andy had a surprise for us, Concolur Firs… amazing bit of Greenery. Lovely, just lovely. Huge needles, but soft. Sappy fragrant smell. 25.00 a tree! Aiyeee!!!! Standing in the fading winter light, forest surrounding us, rolling hills looking over Washington County… Rose is running around, looking for pets and a bit of love. Time stands still. I see and feel smiles all around…

Headed home driving down HWY30 through the maddening Sunday Rush… up Hawthorne, got in to the house, cracked a bottle of Nouveau Fo’ (Nouveau Marechal Foch) sat back and planned and formented revolution, social change, and traded stories. Our friend Paul came over as well with his easy laugh and happy presence… More wine, more laughter, and then Mary and I start laughing and talking about Kings Road in London, 1977, 1978 and what a ferment it was…

Mary recounted working upstairs from Malcom MacClaren’s “Seditionaries” (earlier “Sex”) which had all of Vivian Westwoods designs…. She would have to step over the various members of the Sex Pistols heading for the Water Rat across King’s Road in Worlds’ End for lunch. ( I was at that time, the U.S. rep for “Boy: the only competition going for Seditionaries, but that is another story. If you want info, see the film DUI, released in 1980 for that bit of craziness) Mary was working over all this insanity, at a hotel booking agency… She has some of the best stories, I swear.

(As she wove her tales, I realized we had worked our way through 3 bottles of wine by the time we were done. All had a great time…)

(Time constrictions being what they are, I cannot go into it all tonight, but Fredrico Fellini shows up, as does the famous Pink Pig from Animals, and some very interesting characters. Stay tuned.)

Love,

G_

__________

LINKS:

Star Wreck

John Ono Lennon (((Hearing Voices)))

The Semiotics of Smoking

Naughty by Nature

_____________

PARMENIDES … (On Nature)



Fragment 1

1.1 The mares which carry me as far as my spirit ever aspired

1.2 were escorting me, when they brought me and proceeded along the renowned road

1.3 of the goddess, which brings a knowing mortal to all cities one by one.

1.4 On this path I was being brought, on it wise mares were bringing me,

1.5 straining the chariot, and maidens were guiding the way.

1.6 The axle in the center of the wheel was shrilling forth the bright sound of a musical pipe,

1.7 ablaze, for it was being driven forward by two rounded

1.8 wheels at either end, as the daughters of the Sun,

1.9 were hastening to escort after leaving the house of Night for the light,

1.10 having pushed back the veils from their heads with their hands.

1.11 There are the gates of the roads of Night and Day,

1.12 and a lintel and a stone threshold contain them.

1.13 High in the sky they are filled by huge doors

1.14 of which avenging Justice holds the keys that fit them.

1.15 The maidens beguiled her with soft words

1.16 and skillfully persuaded her to push back the bar for them

1.17 Quickly from the gates. They made

1.18 a gaping gap of the doors when they opened them,

1.19 swinging in turn in their sockets the bronze posts

1.20 fastened with bolts and rivets. There, straight through them then,

1.21 the maidens held the chariot and horses on the broad road.

1.22 And the goddess received me kindly, took my right hand in hers,

1.23 and addressed me with these words:

1.24 ‘Young man, accompanied by immortal charioteers,

1.25 who reach my house by the horses which bring you,

1.26 welcome – since it was not an evil destiny that sent you forth to travel

1.27 this road (for indeed it is far from the beaten path of humans),

1.28 but Right and justice. There is need for you to learn all things -

1.29 both the unshaken heart of persuasive Truth

1.30 and the opinions of mortals, in which there is no true reliance.

1.31 But nevertheless you will learn these too – that the things that appear

1.32 must genuinely be, being always, indeed, all things.

TRUTH – ALETHEIA

Fragment 2

2.1 Come now, I will tell you – and bring away my story safely when you have heard it -

2.2 the only ways of inquiry there are to think:

2.3 the One, that it is and that it is not possible for it not to be,

2.4 is the path of Persuasion (for it attends upon Truth),

2.5 the other, that it is not and that it is necessary for it not to be,

2.6 this I point out to you to be a path completely unlearnable,

2.7 for neither may you know that which is not (for it is not to be accomplished)

2.8 nor may you declare it.

Fragment 3

… For the same thing is for thinking and for being.

Fragment 4

4.1 But gaze upon things which although absent are securely present in thought.

4.2 Fore you will not cut off what is from clinging to what is,

4.3 neither being scattered everywhere in every way throughout the KOSMOS

4.4 nor being brought together.

Fragment 5

5.1 For me, where I am to begin from is the same

5.2 for to there I will come back again.

Fragment 6

6.1 That which is there to be spoken and thought of must be. For it is possible for it to be,

6.2 but not possible for nothing to be. I bid you consider this.

6.3 For I bar your way from this first way of inquiry,

6.4 but next from the way on which mortals, knowing nothing,

6.5 two-headed, wander. For helplessness in their

6.6 breasts guides their wandering mind. But they are carried on

6.7 equally deaf and blind, amazed, hordes without judgement,

6.8 from whom both to be and not to be are judged the same and

6.9 not the same, and the path of all is backward-turning.

Fragment 7

7.1 For in no way may this prevail, that things that are not, are.

7.2 But you, bar your thought from this way of inquiry,

7.3 and do not let habit born from much experience compel you along this way

7.4 to direct your sightless eye and sounding ear

7.5 and tongue, but judge by reason the heavily contested refutation

7.6 spoken by me.

Fragment 8

8.1 There is still left a single story

8.2 of a way, that it is. On this way there are signs

8.3 exceedingly many – that being ungenerated it is also imperishable,

8.4 whole and of a single kind and unshaken and complete.

8.5 Nor was it ever nor will it be, since it is now, all together,

8.6 one, continuous. For what birth will you seek for it ?

8.7 How and from where did it grow? I will not permit you to say

8.8 or to think from what is not; for it is not to be said or thought

8.9 that is not. What necessity would have stirred up

8.10 to grow later than earlier, beginning from nothing ?

8.11 Thus it must either fully be or not.

8.12 Nor will the force of conviction ever permit anything to come to be from what is not,

8.13 besides it. For this reason, Justice permitted it neither to come to be

8.14 nor to perish, relaxing her shackles,

8.15 but holds fast. But the decision about these matters lies in this:

8.16 it is or it is not. But it has been decided, as is necessary,

8.17 to let go the one way as unthinkable and nameless (for it is not a true

8.18 way) and that the other is and is real.

8.19 How could what is be in the future ? How could it come to be ?

8.20 For if it came into being, it is not, not if it is ever going to be

8.21 In this way, coming to be has been extinguished and destruction is unheard of.

8.22 Nor is it divided, since it all is alike;

8.23 nor is it any more in any way, which would keep it from holding together,

8.24 or any less, but it is all full of what is.

8.25 Therefore, it is all continuous, for what is draws near to what is.

8.26 But unchanging in the limits of great bonds,

8.27 it is, without start or finish, since coming to be and destruction

8.28 were banished far away and true conviction drove them off.

8.29 Remaining the same and by itself it lies

8.30 and so stays there fixed ; for mighty Necessity

8.31 holds the bonds of a limit, which pens it in all round,

8.32 since it is right for what is to be not incomplete ;

8.33 for it is not lacking ; if it were , it would lack everything.

8.34 Thinking and the thought that it is are the same.

8.35 For not without what is, in which it is expressed,

8.36 will you find thinking; for nothing else is either is or will be

8.37 except that which is, since Fate shackled it

8.38 to be whole and unchanging, wherefore it has been named all names

8.39 mortals have established, persuaded that they are true -

8.40 to come to be and to perish, to be and not ,

8.41 and to change place and alter bright color.

8.42 But since there is a furthest limit, it is complete

8.43 on all sides, like the bulk of a well-rounded ball,

8.44 evenly balanced in every way from the middle; for it must be not at all greater

8.45 or smaller here than there.

8.46 For neither what is not is – which would stop it from reaching

8.47 its like – nor what is is in such a way that there could be more of what is

8.48 here and less there, since it is all inviolate;

8.49 for equal to itself on all sides, it meets with its limits uniformly.

SEEMING – DOXA

8.50 At this point I stop for you my reliable account and thought

8.51 concerning Truth; from here on, learn mortal opinions,

8.52 listening to the deceitful ordering of my words.

8.53 For they made up their minds to name two forms,

8.54 of which it is not right to name one – in this they have gone astray -

8.55 and they distinguished things opposite in body, and established signs

8.56 apart from one another – for one, the aetherial fire of flame,

8.57 mild, very light, the same as itself in every direction,

8.58 but not the same as the other; but that other one, in itself

8.59 is opposite – dark night, a dense and heavy body.

8.60 I declare to you all the ordering as it appears,

8.61 so that no mortal opinion may ever overtake you.

Fragment 9

9.1 But since all things have been named light and night

9.2 and the things which accord with their powers have been assigned to these things and those,

9.3 all is full of light and obscure night together,

9.4 of both equally, since neither has no share.

Fragment 10

10.1 You shall know the nature of the aether and all the signs in the aether

10.2 and the destructive deeds of the shining sun’s

10.3 pure torch and whence they came to be,

10.4 and you shall learn the wandering deeds of the round-faced moon

10.5 and its nature, and you shall know also the surrounding heaven,

10.6 from what it grew and now Necessity led and shackled it

10.7 to hold the limits of the stars.

Fragment 11

11.1 … how earth and sun and moon

11.2 and the aether which is common to all and the Milky Way and

11.3 furthest Olympus and the hot force of the stars surged forth

11.4 to come to be.

Fragment 12

12.1 For the narrower were filled with unmixed fire.

12.2 The ones to them with night, but a due amount of fire is inserted among it,

12.3 and in the middle of these is the goddess who governs all things.

12.4 For she rules over hateful birth and union of all things,

12.5 sending the female to unite with male and in opposite fashion,

12.6 male to female.

Fragment 13

First of all gods she contrived Love.

Fragment 14

Night-shining foreign light wandering round earth.

Fragment 15

Always looking towards the rays of the sun.

Fragment 15a

Fragment 16

16.1 For as each person has a mixture of much-wandering limbs,

16.2 so is thought present to humans. For that which things -

16.3 the constitution of the limbs – is the same

16.4 in all humans and every one; for which is more is thought.

Fragment 17

boys on the right , girls on the left.

Fragment 18

18.1 When woman and man mix the seeds of Love,

18.2 The power which is formed in the veins out of different blood,

18.3 If it maintains proper proportion, produces well-formed bodies.

18.4 For if the powers, when the seeds are being mixed, fight

18.5 And do not constitute a unity in the body in which the mixture has taken place, then cruelly

18.6 Will they torment the nascent sex with double seed.

Fragment 19

19.1 In this way, according to opinion, these things have grown

19.2 and now are

19.3 and afterwards after growing up will come to an end.

19.4 And upon them humans have established a name to mark each one.

Cornford’s Fragment

Such, changeless, is that for which as a whole the name is: ‘to be’.

______

PARMENIDES (born 510 B.C.)

Parmenides was a Greek philosopher and poet, born of an illustrious family about 510 B.C., at Elea in Lower Italy, and is is the chief representative of the Eleatic philosophy. He was held in high esteem by his fellow-citizens for his excellent legislation, to which they ascribed the prosperity and wealth of the town. He was also admired for his exemplary life. A “Parmenidean life” was proverbial among the Greeks. He is commonly represented as a disciple of Xenophanes. Parmenides wrote after Heraclitus, and in conscious opposition to him, given the evident allusion to Heraclitus: “for whom it is and is not, the same and not the same, and all things travel in opposite directions” (fr. 6, 8-). Little more is known of his biography than that he stopped at Athens on a journey in his sixty-fifth year, and there became acquainted with the youthful Socrates. That must have been in the middle of the fifth century B.C., or shortly after it.

Parmenides broke with the older Ionic prose tradition by writing in hexameter verse. His didactic poem, called On Nature, survives in fragments, although the Proem (or introductory discourse) of the work has been preserved. Parmenides was a young man when he wrote it, for the goddess who reveals the truth to him addresses him as ‘youth’. The work is considered inartistic. Its Hesiodic style was appropriate for the cosmogony he describes in the second part, but is unsuited to the arid dialectic of the first. Parmenides was no born poet, and we much ask what led him to take this new departure. The example of Xenophanes’ poetic writings is not a complete explanation; for the poetry of Parmenides is as unlike that of Xenophanes as it well can be, and his style is more like Hesiod and the Orphics. In the Proem Parmenides describes his ascent to the home of the goddess who is supposed to speak the remainder of the verses; this is a reflexion of the conventional ascents into heaven which were almost as common as descents into hell in the apocalyptic literature of those days.

The Proem opens with Parmenides representing himself as borne on a chariot and attended by the Sunmaidens who have quitted the Halls of Night to guide him on his journey. They pass along the highway till they come to the Gate of Night and Day, which is locked and barred. The key is in the keeping of Dike (Right), the Avenger, who is persuaded to unlock it by the Sunmaidens. They pass in through the gate and are now, of course, in the realms of Day. The goal of the journey is the palace of a goddess who welcomes Parmenides and instructs him in the two ways, that of Truth and the deceptive way of Belief, in which is no truth at all. All this is described without inspiration and in a purely conventional manner, so it must be interpreted by the canons of the apocalyptic style. It is clearly meant to indicate that Parmenides had been converted, that he had passed from error (night) to truth (day), and the Two Ways must represent his former error and the truth which is now revealed to him.

There is reason to believe that the Way of Belief is an account of Pythagorean cosmology. In any case, it is surely impossible to regard it as anything else than a description of some error. The goddess says so in words that cannot be explained away. Further, this erroneous belief is not the ordinary man’s view of the world, but an elaborate system, which seems to be a natural development the Ionian cosmology on certain lines, and there is no other system but the Pythagorean that fulfils this requirement. To this it has been objected that Parmenides would not have taken the trouble to expound in detail a system he had altogether rejected, but that is to mistake the character of the apocalyptic convention. It is not Parmenides, but the goddess, that expounds the system, and it is for this reason that the beliefs described are said to be those of ‘mortals’. Now a description of the ascent of the soul would be quite incomplete without a picture of the region from which it had escaped. The goddess must reveal the two ways at the parting of which Parmenides stands, and bid him choose the better. The rise of mathematics in the Pythagorean school had revealed for the first time the power of thought. To the mathematician of all men it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be, and this is the principle from which Parmenides starts. It is impossible to think what is not, and it is impossible for what cannot be thought to be. The great question, Is it or is it not? is therefore equivalent to the question, Can it be thought or not?

ParmenidesIn any case, the work thus has two divisions. The first discusses the truth, and the second the world of illusion — that is, the world of the senses and the erroneous opinions of mankind founded upon them. In his opinion truth lies in the perception that existence is, and error in the idea that non-existence also can be. Nothing can have real existence but what is conceivable; therefore to be imagined and to be able to exist are the same thing, and there is no development. The essence of what is conceivable is incapable of development, imperishable, immutable, unbounded, and indivisible. What is various and mutable, all development, is a delusive phantom. Perception is thought directed to the pure essence of being; the phenomenal world is a delusion, and the opinions formed concerning it can only be improbable.

Parmenides goes on to consider in the light of this principle the consequences of saying that anything is. In the first place, it cannot have come into being. If it had, it must have arisen from nothing or from something. It cannot have arisen from nothing; for there is no nothing. It cannot have arisen from something; for here is nothing else than what is. Nor can anything else besides itself come into being; for there can be no empty space in which it could do so. Is it or is it not? If it is, then it is now, all at once. In this way Parmenides refutes all accounts of the origin of the world. Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Further, if it is, it simply is, and it cannot be more or less. There is, therefore, as much of it in one place as in another. (That makes rarefaction and condensation impossible.) it is continuous and indivisible; for there is nothing but itself which could prevent its parts being in contact with on another. It is therefore full, a continuous indivisible plenum. (That is directed against the Pythagorean theory of a discontinuous reality.) Further, it is immovable. If it moved, it must move into empty space, and empty space is nothing, and there is no nothing. Also it is finite and spherical; for it cannot be in one direction any more than in another, and the sphere is the only figure of which this can be said. What is is, therefore a finite, spherical, motionless, continuous plenum, and there is nothing beyond it. Coming into being and ceasing to be are mere ‘names’, and so is motion, and still more color and the like. They are not even thoughts; for a thought must be a thought of something that is, and none of these can be.

Such is the conclusion to which the view of the real as a single body inevitably leads, and there is no escape from it. The ‘matter’ of our physical text-books is just the real of Parmenides; and, unless we can find room for something else than matter, we are shut up into his account of reality. No subsequent system could afford to ignore this, but of course it was impossible to acquiesce permanently in a doctrine like that of Parmenides. It deprives the world we know of all claim to existence, and reduces it to something which is hardly even an illusion. If we are to give an intelligible account of the world, we must certainly introduce motion again somehow. That can never be taken for granted any more, as it was by the early cosmologists; we must attempt to explain it if we are to escape from the conclusions of Parmenides.