Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Listen to my prayer, O my Gods, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught, because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon us and assail us in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert. I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and the storm.” Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words, for I see violence and strife in our city. Day and night they prowl about the walls; malice and abuse are within. Destructive forces are at work in our city; threats and lies never leave our streets.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. Yet it was a man like myself, who harmed my companion, with whom I enjoy sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walk among the worshipers. Let death take our enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them. As for me, I call to our Gods and the Lord shall save us. Evening, morning and noon, we cry out in distress and they hear my voice. We are rescued unharmed from the battle waged against us, even though many may oppose us.

Our Gods, enthroned from of old, who do not change; they will hear us and humble them, because they have no fear of God. My companion was attacked and he violated her covenant. His talk was as smooth as butter, yet war is ever in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet soon they turn to stone. Cast your cares and they will sustain you; they will never let the righteous be shaken. Our Gods will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days but as for me, I trust in you.

The Ballad of Dick Turpin by Alfred Noyes

The daylight moon looked quietly down
Through the gathering dusk on London town

A smock-frocked yokel hobbled along
By Newgate, humming a country song.

Chewing a straw, he stood to stare
At the proclamation posted there:

“Three hundred guineas on Turpin’s head,
Trap him alive or shoot him dead;
And a hundred more for his mate, Tom King.”

He crouched like a tiger about to spring.
Then he looked up, and he looked down;
And chuckling low, like a country clown,

Dick Turpin painfully hobbled away
In quest of his inn – “The Load of Hay”...

Alone in her stall, his mare, Black Bess,
Lifted her head in mute distress;
For five strange men had entered the yard
And looked at her long, and looked at her hard.

They went out, muttering under their breath;
And then – the dusk grew still as death.

But the velvet ears of the listening mare
Lifted and twitched. They were there – still there;

Hidden and waiting; for whom? And why?
The clock struck four, a set drew nigh.

It was King! Dick Turpin’s mate.
The black mare whinnied. Too late! Too late!

They rose like shadows out of the ground
And grappled him there, without a sound.

“Throttle him – quietly – choke him dead!
Or we lose this hawk for a jay, they said.”

They wrestled and heaved, five men to one;
And a yokel entered the yard, alone;

A smock-frocked yokel, hobbling slow;
But a fight is physic as all men know.

His age dropped off, he stood upright.
He leapt like a tiger into the fight.

Hand to hand, they fought in the dark;
For none could fire at a twisting mark.

Where he that shot at a foe might send
His pistol ball through the skull of a friend.

But “Shoot Dick, Shoot” gasped out Tom King
“Shoot! Or damn it we both shall swing!
Shoot and chance it!” Dick leapt back.

He drew. He fired. At the pistols crack
The wrestlers whirled. They scattered apart
And the bullet drilled through Tom King’s heart...

Dick Turpin dropped his smoking gun.
They had trapped him five men to one.

A gun in the hand of the crouching five.
They could take Dick Turpin now alive;

Take him and bind him and tell their tale
As a pot house boast, when they drank their ale.

He whistled, soft as a bird might call
And a head rope snapped in his bird’s dark stall.

He whistled, soft as a nightingale
He heard the swish of her swinging tail.

There was no way out that the five could see
To heaven or hell, but the Tyburn tree;

No door but death; and yet once more
He whistled, as though at a sweethearts door.

The five men laughed at him, trapped alive;
And – the door crashed open behind the five!

Out of the stable, a wave of thunder,
Swept Black Bess, and the five went under.

He leapt to the saddle, a hoof turned stone,
Flashed blue fire, and their prize was gone.....

He rode for one impossible thing; that in the
Morning light
The towers of York might waken him-
From London and last night.

He rode to prove himself another,
And leave himself behind.
And the hunted self was like a cloud;
But the hunter like the wind.

Neck and neck they rode together;
That, in the day’s first gleam,
Each might prove that the other self
Was but a mocking dream.

And the little sleeping villages, and the
Breathless country side
Woke to the drum of the ghostly hooves,
But missed that ghostly ride.

The did not see, they did not hear as the ghostly
Hooves drew nigh,
The dark magnificent thief in the night
That rode so subtly by.

They woke, they rushed to the way-side door,
They saw what the midnight showed,-
A mare that came like a crested wave,
Along the Great North Road.

A flying spark in the formless dark,
A flash from the hoof-spurned stone,
And the lifted face of a man –
That took the starlight and was gone.

The heard the sound of a pounding chase
Three hundred yards away
There were fourteen men in a stream of sweat
And a plaster of Midland clay.

The starlight struck their pistol-butts as they
Passed in the clattering crowd
But the hunting wraith was away like the wind
At the heels of the hunted cloud.

He rode by the walls of Nottingham,
And over him as he went
Like ghosts across the Great North Road,
The boughs of Sherwood bent.

By Bawtry, all the chase but one has dropped
A league behind,
Yet, one rider haunted him, invisibly, as the wind.

And northward, like a blacker night, he saw the moors up-loom
And Don and Derwent sang to him, like memory in the gloom.

And northward, northward as he rode, and sweeter than a prayer
The voices of those hidden streams,
The Trent, the Ouse and the Aire;

Streams that could never slake his thirst. 
He heard them as he flowed
But one dumb shadow haunted him along the
Great North Road.

Till now, at dawn, the towers of York rose on
The reddening sky.
And Bess went down between his knees, 
Like a breaking wave to die.

He lay beside her in the ditch, he kissed her lovely head,
And a shadow passed him like the wind and left him with his dead.

He saw, but not that one as wakes, the city that he sought,
He had escaped from London town, but not from his own thought.

He strode up to the Mickle-gate, with none to say him nay.
And there he met his Other Self in the stranger light of day.

He strode up to the dreadful thing that in the gateway stood
And it stretched out a ghostly hand that the dawn had stained with blood.

It stood as in the gates of hell, with none to hear or see,
“Welcome,” it said, “Thou’st ridden well, and outstript all but me”.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


The Annunciation by Arthur Hughes (27 January 1832 – 22 December 1915).
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (UK).

I haled me a woman from the street,
Shameless, but, oh, so fair!
I bade her sit in the model’s seat
And painted her sitting there.

I hid all traces of her heart unclean;
I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been
If the Worst had been the Best.

She laughed at my picture and went away.
Then came, with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say;
“’Tis Mary, the Mother of God.”

So, I painted a halo round her hair,
And I sold her and took my fee,
And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
Where you and all may see.

The Nativity by Arthur Hughes (27 January 1832 – 22 December 1915).
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (UK).

Re-blogged from: Tales from the under Gardener's Lodge


I sing of Artemis, whose shafts are of gold, who cheers on the hounds, the pure maiden, shooter of stags, who delights in archery, own sister to Apollo with the golden sword. Over the shadowy hills and windy peaks she draws her golden bow, rejoicing in the chase, and sends out grievous shafts. The tops of the high mountains tremble and the tangled wood echoes awesomely with the outcry of beasts: earthquakes and the sea also where fishes shoal.

But the goddess with a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts: and when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, this huntress who delights in arrows slackens her supple bow and goes to the great house of her dear brother Phoebus Apollo, to the rich land of Delphi, there to order the lovely dance of the Muses and Graces.

There she hangs up her curved bow and her arrows, and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed, while all they utter their heavenly voice, singing how neat-ankled Leto bare children supreme among the immortals both in thought and in deed.


Hold not thy peace, O Gods of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against us, for they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.

They compass about me with words of hatred and fight against me without a just cause. When they are judged let them be condemned by all. Let their days be few and let another take their place.

As they have loved cursing, so let it come to them. As they delight not in blessing, so let it be far from them. Let our adversaries be clothed with shame and let them cover themselves with their own confusion.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Pangúr Bán

Pangúr Bán is a famous poem composed by an Irish monk during the 9th century. In the poem, the unnamed monk compares his work with that of his cat, Pangúr Bán. The original text is now preserved in the Reichnenau Primer, St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal of Austria. The text below is the Robin Flower translation. I post this poem as a memorium to my own pets, Grimalkin (the ginger male) and Cleopatra (the white female).

I and Pangúr Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangúr bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangúr’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangúr Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangúr perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Friends of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel Spring Equinox Picnic 2016

In the February of 2016 at our private Lambtide observance, members of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel discussed planning for our next gathering. We eventually decided on an outdoor meeting, incorporating our Vernal Equinox Observance into picnic. The intention was to hold a relatively small and select gathering and by making the ritual part of a picnic, we were free to invite non-Pagan friends and family, including children. Although the children would not be taking part in any organised ritual, their presence would make the event a social one and mitigate the need for childcare.

The proposed date was Saturday the 19th of March 2016, the day before the Equinox and we set up a Facebook event page to enable invitations. Our chosen location, indeed one of our favourites, was Elvaston Castle Country Park. An estate now owned by Derbyshire County Council but once the country seat of the Stanhope family, holders of the Earldom of Harrington and formally a major local landowner. I have arranged events at this park in previous years, at one time I was well known locally, as the organiser of the Elvaston Castle Pagan Picnic in the Park (see link below).

So from an official start time of 1 o’clock we gathered on the terraces near to the manor house and enjoyed horseshoe tossing and boules, in the latter game I was roundly thrashed. Not that it mattered, we were all having a good time.

At 3 o’clock or thereabouts some of us took a break from the afternoon’s activities, while the children and those not participating in ritual, continued with the picnic and games. The remainder gathered near our picnic spot under the trees and it was noted that we had a very acceptable involvement of some ten or eleven. Which I judged to be a more than adequate number for an invitation only event.

Here we held our Vernal Equinox Ritual, a somewhat simplified and scripted one, the text of which I had used previously at a gathering on Stanton Moor in 2015 (see link below). Present at both the picnic and the ritual, were persons who had travelled a not inconsiderable distance. This included not only friends from Nottingham but also members of the Hearth of Albion, who had travelled from Lancashire to be with us. Links to the Hearth of Albion websites can be found below.

After the ritual we joined the rest of our group for more games, we were introduced to the art of Egg Tapping and then judged the best painted hardboiled egg. After these two competitions we gathered on the bank to Egg Roll. Almost twenty people, adults and children, rolled hollow chocolate eggs down the terrace. The winner being the individual whose egg rolled the furthest without breaking.

Unsurprisingly the majority of the eggs broke up on the descent, the sight of chocolate eggs shattering into what one person described as shrapnel, was quite spectacular. We had to pick up the debris and it was spread broadly. The second round of egg rolling was for the children only but I am not sure who enjoyed egg rolling the most, the grown-ups or the children.

After all of these activities, there was little time left before the park closed and time was indeed getting on. The day however, was judged a major success. The day had been very enjoyable and a pleasure to see many old friends that sadly, we do not see as often as we would wish.


The Elvaston Castle Pagan Picnic in the Park:

Stanton Moor, the Vernal Equinox and the Partial Solar Eclipse: Friday the 20th March 2015:

The Hearth of Albion on Facebook:

The Hearth of Albion primary website:

Sunday, 20 March 2016


And to my holy sacrifice invite, the pow'r who reigns in deepest hell and night; I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame, of earthly, wat'ry, and celestial frame.

Sepulchral, in a saffron veil array'd, leas'd with dark ghosts that wander thro' the shade; Persian, unconquerable huntress hail! The world's key-bearer never doom'd to fail.

On the rough rock to wander thee delights, leader and nurse be present to our rites. Propitious grant our just desires success, accept our homage, and the incense bless.


I sall go until a hare,
Wi sorrow and such mickle care.
I sall goe in the Devil's name,
An while I come home again.

I am ruled by the moon, I move under her mantle.
I am the symbol of her moods, of rebirth cycle.
I am companion to the Gods,
I can conceive while I'm pregnant.
I call the dawn and spring in, I am the advent.
I bring life from water in a cup that must be broken.
I whisper to the bursting egg, I'm Aestre's token.

Scent of dog, scent of man.
Closer, closer, smell them coming.
Hot breath, hot death.
Closer, closer, hard the running.
Tongues pant, hearts thump.
Closer, closer, through the fields.
Teeth snap, Bones crack.
Closer, closer, at my heels.
Nearer yet and nearer.
I can feel the poacher's knife.
He is running for his dinner.
I am running for my life.

Scent of dog, scent of man.
Closer, closer, smell them coming.
Hot breath, hot death.
Closer, closer, hard the running.
Tongues pant, hearts thump.
Closer, closer, through the fields.
Teeth snap, Bones crack.
Closer, closer, at my heels.
Nearer yet and nearer.
I can feel the poacher's knife.
He is running for his dinner.
I am running for my life.

Wynter wakeneth al my care,
Nou this leues waxeth bare.
Ofte y sike ant mourne sare,
When hit cometh in my thoht,
Of this worldes joie, hou hit geth al to noht.

Man sprays no weeds.
The scythe cuts, the corn bleeds.
Leverets trapped in a harvest blade.
Tis the time of man the hare said.
Here's the tractor, here's the plough.
And where shall we go now?
We'll lie in forms as still as the dead.
In the open fields the hare said.
No cover but the camouflage,
From the winter's wild and bitter rage.
All our defence is in our legs.
We run like the wind the hare said.

Man sprays no weeds.
The scythe cuts, the corn bleeds.
Leverets trapped in a harvest blade.
Tis the time of man the hare said.

I've been cursed, I've been despised,
As a witch with darkest powers.
I sall goe until a hare.
I've been hunted, trapped and punished,
In these my darkest hours,
Wi sorrow and such mickle care.
I've been thrown into the fire,
But I do not fear it.
I sall goe until a hare.
It purifies and resurrects,
And I can bear it.
I sall goe until a hare.
Wi sorrow and such mickle care.
I have outrun dogs and foxes,
And I've dodged the tractor wheels,
I sall goe until a hare.
I've survived your persecution,
And your ever-changing fields.
Wi sorrow and such mickle care.
I will run and run forever,
Where the wild fields are mine.
I sall go until a hare.
I'm a symbol of endurance,
Running through the mists of time.
Wi sorrow and such mickle care.