Thursday, 31 December 2015

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY BY GEORGE GORDON (LORD BYRON)


She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.


And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!


‘GODIVA’ BY ALFRED TENNYSON: THE 1st BARON TENNYSON



Lady Godiva by Edmund Leighton

I waited for the train at Coventry;
I hung with grooms and porters on the bridge,
To watch the three tall spires; and there I shaped
The city's ancient legend into this:
Not only we, the latest seed of Time,
New men, that in the flying of a wheel
Cry down the past, not only we, that prate
Of rights and wrongs, have loved the people well,
And loathed to see them overtax'd; but she
Did more, and underwent, and overcame,
The woman of a thousand summers back,
Godiva, wife to that grim Earl, who ruled
In Coventry: for when he laid a tax
Upon his town, and all the mothers brought
Their children, clamoring, "If we pay, we starve!"
She sought her lord, and found him, where he strode
About the hall, among his dogs, alone,
His beard a foot before him and his hair
A yard behind. She told him of their tears,
And pray'd him, "If they pay this tax, they starve."
Whereat he stared, replying, half-amazed,
"You would not let your little finger ache
For such as these?" -- "But I would die," said she.
He laugh'd, and swore by Peter and by Paul;
Then fillip'd at the diamond in her ear;
"Oh ay, ay, ay, you talk!" -- "Alas!" she said,
"But prove me what I would not do."
And from a heart as rough as Esau's hand,
He answer'd, "Ride you naked thro' the town,
And I repeal it;" and nodding, as in scorn,
He parted, with great strides among his dogs.
So left alone, the passions of her mind,
As winds from all the compass shift and blow,
Made war upon each other for an hour,
Till pity won. She sent a herald forth,
And bade him cry, with sound of trumpet, all
The hard condition; but that she would loose
The people: therefore, as they loved her well,
From then till noon no foot should pace the street,
No eye look down, she passing; but that all
Should keep within, door shut, and window barr'd.
Then fled she to her inmost bower, and there
Unclasp'd the wedded eagles of her belt,
The grim Earl's gift; but ever at a breath
She linger'd, looking like a summer moon
Half-dipt in cloud: anon she shook her head,
And shower'd the rippled ringlets to her knee;
Unclad herself in haste; adown the stair
Stole on; and, like a creeping sunbeam, slid
From pillar unto pillar, until she reach'd
The Gateway, there she found her palfrey trapt
In purple blazon'd with armorial gold.
Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listen'd round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouth'd heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see: the barking cur
Made her cheek flame; her palfrey's foot-fall shot
Light horrors thro' her pulses; the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less thro' all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flower'd elder-thicket from the field,
Gleam thro' the Gothic archway in the wall.
Then she rode back, clothed on with chastity;
And one low churl, compact of thankless earth,
The fatal byword of all years to come,
Boring a little auger-hole in fear,
Peep'd -- but his eyes, before they had their will,
Were shrivel'd into darkness in his head,
And dropt before him. So the Powers, who wait
On noble deeds, cancell'd a sense misused;
And she, that knew not, pass'd: and all at once,
With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless noon
Was clash'd and hammer'd from a hundred towers,
One after one: but even then she gain'd
Her bower; whence reissuing, robed and crown'd,
To meet her lord, she took the tax away
And built herself an everlasting name.

Lady Godiva by John Collier




Monday, 21 December 2015

“A NOCTURNAL UPON ST. LUCY’S DAY, BEING THE SHORTEST DAY” JOHN DONNE 1572–1631



TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks,
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world's whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be,
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express.
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death - things which are not.


All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave,
Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood,
Have we two wept, and so.
Drown'd the whole world, us two; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show,
Care to aught else; and often absences,
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death - which word wrongs her,
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
Were I a man, that I were one,
I needs must know; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun,
At this time to the Goat is run,
To fetch new lust, and give it you.
Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

JETHRO TULL: SOLSTICE BELLS (1976)

Now is the solstice of the year,
Winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
By the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
Joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.




YULE POEM



Reborn, reborn, the Sun is reborn.
The great one has passed through the darkness.
Not yet fully awake but soon, very soon.

The dark wind blows from the north.
Can you hear the call?
It is the return of our Lord the Sun,
From the time of sleep.

The land is in, the grip of cold shadows.
Scatter not in mourning, the ash of the Yule log.
The God shall be with us, to witness a new dawn.

In time reborn, we shall bury the wren.
To celebrate with honour, the King’s new rising.
For Holly and Oak are united, one darkness in one light.

Yule is a time for joy, Make merry, dance and sing,
And Let us kiss, under the Golden Bough.
Let us rejoice, that the Sun is reborn.


Text © D.B. Griffith the Chattering Magpie


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

JACK FROST AND THE HOODED CROW: JETHRO TULL


Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow,
While you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse us as you go.
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame,
To warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

Now as the last broad oak leaf falls, we beg: consider this:
There’s some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine or gifts.
No children's laughter round the fire, no family left to know.
So lend a warm and a helping hand:
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

As holly pricks and ivy clings, your fate is none too clear.
The Lord may find you wanting, let your good fortune disappear.
All homely comforts blown away and all that's left to show,
Is to share your joy at Christmas time
With Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow,
While you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse us as you go.
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame,
To warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.





Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit



One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small,
And the ones that mother gives you, don't do anything at all;
Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall.

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall;
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call;
To call Alice, when she was just small.

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go;
And you've just had some kind of mushroom,
And your mind is moving low;
Go ask Alice, I think she'll know.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead;
And the white knight is talking backwards;
And the red queen's off with her head;
Remember what the dormouse said,
Feed your head, feed your head.






Monday, 14 December 2015

POISON


O’ such radiant smile, thirty two teeth, pearly white.
The skull and cross bone warning, does poison lurk tonight?

Served from kegs and barrels, to those who do not think.
With unfocused eyes, the madman drives.
One for the road mate or Christmas drink?

The innocent that drive at night, do not question but follow the rules.
But a madman cannot see the lights and our innocents are doomed.

Far too fast to stop, the corner blind and sharp.
Our innocents are unready and can you hear the harp?

The madman does not see them, he has no time to think.
Collision at high speed, can you guess the cause?
One for the road mate or Christmas drink?

Fate demands the madman lives, our innocents they die.
Their child an orphan now, poison the reason why.

So what’s your poison now my friend, what’s your poison now?
One for the road mate or Christmas drink?



Text and photography © D.B. Griffith the Chattering Magpie

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Rolling English Road by GK Chesterton (1913)


Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.


Poem of the week: “The Rolling English Road” by GK Chesterton:

Performance by Maddy Prior (from the 1977 album Flesh and Blood):


Thursday, 10 December 2015

BOOK REVIEW: SECRET SYMBOLS OF THE HELL FIRE CLUB CONSIDERED FROM AN OCCULT PERSPECTIVE BY EAMONN LOUGHRAN


This work is written, bound and published by the Steward of the Hell Fire Club through their own publishing house. He is a man who not only knows his subject but loves his chosen path.

Mr Loughran attempts to examine the truth behind the legend by piecing together a jigsaw of clues, left in private papers and documents, physical monuments still in existence and other remarkable sources. This includes the research of local historians based in the area around West Wycombe, with particular focus upon the work of M.A. Armfield.

The pieces of the jigsaw are examined from a far the deeper perspective than many writers and represents original research based upon the best available sources. This work first seeks to examine the physical material left to us, whether in the form of written documentation or a still standing building, before attempting to decipher the symbolism, often hidden in plain sight. This deciphering eventually brings the reader to the conclusion (if one had not already reached it), that the Hell Fire Club was something more than a drinking party, a notion that in all honesty was likely a cover story to keep away the foolish.

Many previous writers in exploring the Hell Fire Club have failed to appreciate the influence of the Classics upon the people who founded and those who later became members of the Hell Fire Club. The members of the past were the British Aristocracy, schooled in the Classicism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many would have experienced the European “Grand Tour” first hand. This Pan-European cultural influence is reflected in the esoteric symbolism used by the Hell Fire Club. Mr Loughran does not make this mistake but examines aspects of the more important symbolism in a detached and professional new light.

Much of the symbolism alluded to in this work was not and remains unfamiliar to me however. This reflects the deep specialisation of the work, as Western Ceremonial Magic and Gnosticism are not my specific areas of expertise. Yet, these two streams of occult philosophy are important factors that underpin the heart of the Hell Fire Club, with particular emphasis upon the latter.

Over the last twenty or thirty years the majority, not all but certainly the majority of published works, have chosen to focus upon the more sensational aspects of the legendary Hell Fire Club. These works have neglected the Western Esoteric Philosophy at the heart of the organisation, choosing to dwell instead upon exaggerated and unproven accounts of sexual excess. The writers of such works have failed to appreciate that the Hell Fire Club at its height, was a rival to any esoteric order in Europe.

This work is a welcome and important departure from the mainstream, the specialist nature reflecting the sad neglect of the esoteric teachings of the Hell Fire Club. This book is a major contribution to the field of genuine research into this neglected subject. To put it simply and perhaps rather boldly, this work is in all probability, the single most important piece of original research examining the real Hell Fire Club produced in the last twenty years.

Available direct from the publisher:





THE ENIGMA OF THE DEVIL'S PRAYER BOOK


In 1974, Rigel Publishing produced a small print run of an unusual and now much sought after hardback; later to be reprinted as a paperback in 1975 by Mayflower. The origins of this work and the identity of the author were for a long time, something of a mystery. There are several versions in circulation, at least three identified and possibly an unconfirmed fourth. The later confirmed and official edition that has been published in paperback by ignotus press, gives some background with regard the remarkable anomalies of the work and its history.

It is said that the original publishers approached a writer called Peter West to write a book on Witchcraft and take advantage of the public interest in the Craft at the time. Unfortunately Mr West was actually anti-craft and chose to write in a highly derogatory tone. This text by chance came to the notice of a practitioner of the Craft by the name of Karen West, primarily due to the coincidence that her husband was also called Peter.

Karen West was given the chance to rewrite much of the book and produced a text based in part on her own Gardnerian background, with a few allegedly traditional folkloric elements and her own original ideas. This version, the Karen West text was eventually published in paperback.


The original author Peter West was unsurprisingly none too pleased and eventually brought out his own version in hardback but used much of the ghost writers’ text. The other version of the story is that to keep Peter West quiet the publishers kept his introduction but removed his main text, replacing it with the Karen West text in an edition that pre-dated the eventual paperback version. The work has therefore had a convoluted and somewhat controversial history and with no one now alive or willing to tell the full story, we will never know the full unadulterated truth.

The work itself displays some expected Masonic influence and is quite obviously inspired by an early variation of Gardnerian Witchcraft. There is the usual focus upon a God and Goddess however, the choice of names for the Lord and lady used; Zarach and Zaruna are both unusual and believed to be unique to the work. They may simply be an idiosyncratic choice of the author but it has been suggested that they may be code names used by the author and quite possibly hide the names used by her own coven. The truth is that we can never know, as Karen West has since passed.


Perhaps unusually for a Gardnerian influenced work it eschews use of the scourge, whilst still giving outline details of rituals for the festivals and the usual three initiations culminating in the Great Rite. The work includes valuable and practical background information on the Craft, including details regarding the more well known tools.

After a considerable hiatus in her writing career Karen West saw her work republished in paperback (by ignotus press as stated above) and this led to a very successful association with Corvus Publishing. In her later years Karen West produced several small booklet style publications for Corvus, now writing under the pseudonym Elizabeth A. St. George. Each of these small works is of value to the student as they represent an unconventional and un-sanitised approached to the Craft. They offer a refreshing alternative to what is available in the mainstream.

Earlier this century Karen West passed to the Summerlands and with her death, the Craft lost a talented if under appreciated author and a well respected elder.


Publishing note:

The original hardback and paperback variants if this book, remain hard to find and their price can reflect that, although they are not generally expensive. Two book sellers in particular may help with the collector in a search for this title and they are;


And:

CADUCEUS BOOKS of 28 Darley Road, Burbage, Hinckley, Leicestershire LE10 2RL  and the proprietor Mr Fernee can be contacted by telephone (0)1455 250542 and by email ben@caduceusbooks.com

The website is http://www.caduceusbooks.com/

The extended and edited paperback edition is widely available via such sites as Amazon, the ISBN is 0 9522689 7 3 and the new title is Rites of Shadow by E.A. St George.

BOOK REVIEW: THE BOOK OF THE SHIELD


The Book of the Shield: a Style of Ancient Saxon Religion and Wytchecrafte, as prepared by the Coven of the White Hart and the Coven of Barnsdale Forest.

Published by Catweasel Productions in 1982 and limited to 500 hand-bound and signed copies, bound by Ars Obscura Bookbinding. Also available as a limited edition paperback from Catweasle Publications as above, this work is now long out of print.

This work in paperback is a very small book, not much more than a pamphlet and has very small print. It is however something of a gem, containing a variety of ideas used by a working group. Published out of concern regarding dwindling numbers and with a wish to reach more people, the book has a very positive ethos. However, by being published as a limited edition the action is contradictory as the book is rare, near unknown and very difficult to find.

The historical claims of an unbroken lineage to Saxon times (the Viking Age) made in the early chapters are beyond belief. This book was published when such claims were common and long before academics such as Hutton put Pagan history in its' proper context. The work also incorporates symbolism of Masonic origin in the initiation ceremony which points to a very clear link with post 1950's Gardnerian Witchcraft. As does the celebration of the Eight Festivals of the Wheel of the Year as historically the Saxons did not celebrate all eight. However, it is perfectly possible that the people writing this book genuinely believed that the order had an ancient origin.

What we have here is very much a genuine attempt to revive Saxon Witchcraft that while based on limited sources of the time (post 1950's?) and incorporating well known published material, introduces some very interesting ideas. The introduction of less common working tools and the avoidance of iron illustrate an attempt to find something older and more traditionally English than other methods and other paths.


The setup of the group is rather formal, with Coven Masters answerable to a "Theghn" and although there could have been a little more detail in the work. The quarter points not only differ from the more well known system used by the Golden dawn and the Gardnerian Tradition but also from some "Traditional" methods and on this I would have liked more explanation. I am on the whole left with a very positive impression of this work, as although its' practical application may be limited, the underlying philosophy is sound.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Flaming Circle by Robin Artisson, being the Coven Book of the Hollow Hill. Published by Pendraig USA 2008.



Some years ago I stumbled across a book at a Pagan event that I considered at that time, to be truly remarkable in its freshness and content. The book was called “The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill” and subtitled, “the gramaryre of the folk who dwell below the mound and a sourcebook of hidden wisdom, folklore, Traditional Paganism and Witchcraft.” Which as titles go, is admittedly a little over-worded. The author was Robin Artisson, who at that time outside of the USA and perhaps the occasional Internet forum, was an unknown author.

That book was a personal examination of the theory and practice of the British Traditional (that is non-Wiccan) Craft. As such it combined elements of a book of shadows or grimoire, with explorations of the Craft spirituality and magical practice. In an occult world suffering from the sanitised publicly acceptable version of the Craft, numerous examples of which are still found on sale in the high street, this volume offered a sensible, serious and perhaps, more than usually in depth alternative. True enough parts were rather long winded and repetitive, the book could have been half its length.

What I found so surprising is that that this book, claiming to explore aspects of Traditional Witchcraft found in the British Isles, was written by an American citizen and published in the USA. It was clearly written for people who wanted to study the Craft and not for the New Age dabbler. I awaited his further publications with expectation

Years went by and I stumbled upon another work by the increasing infamous Artisson, as although he remains relatively unknown outside of his home country; his behaviour on the Internet has irrevocably damaged his reputation. That book called the Flaming Circle, has sadly proved to be a disappointment. Although Artisson’s style of writing remains wordy, if perhaps a little less so than previous and he shows some developing maturity as a writer. His style is now condescending and overly sentimental.

The Flaming Circle being the coven book of the Hollow Hill is written for those yet to come, including the author’s children. The style of writing far from being particularly direct, flowing or friendly, has become supercilious and convoluted.

The content is an exploration and reconstruction of pre-Christian beliefs and perhaps practice originating in the British Isles. This is an exciting topic and as such, Artisson primarily draws upon well-known Celtic influences.

Unfortunately his presentation and style detracts enormously from the content. Nor is the book referenced, yet if one has read a little on Celtic Traditions or Druidry, the influences stand clear. Flaming Circle is one of the most badly written books that I have ever left unfinished and I simply cannot recommend it. I can only hope that this work is an aberration and that his other books are presented in a different style.



Tuesday, 8 December 2015

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” The Byrds (1965)



To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep


To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together


To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing


To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late!


Originally written by Pete Seeger.
Based upon Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

YOUTUBE LINK: