Monday, 28 August 2017

The Occultation of Orion by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I saw, as in a dream sublime,
The balance in the hand of Time.
O'er East and West its beam impended;
And day, with all its hours of light,
Was slowly sinking out of sight,
While, opposite, the scale of night
Silently with the stars ascended.

Like the astrologers of eld,
In that bright vision I beheld
Greater and deeper mysteries.
I saw, with its celestial keys,
Its chords of air, its frets of fire,
The Samian's great Aeolian lyre,
Rising through all its sevenfold bars,
From earth unto the fixed stars.
And through the dewy atmosphere,
Not only could I see, but hear,
Its wondrous and harmonious strings,
In sweet vibration, sphere by sphere,
From Dian's circle light and near,
Onward to vaster and wider rings.
Where, chanting through his beard of snows,
Majestic, mournful, Saturn goes,
And down the sunless realms of space
Reverberates the thunder of his bass.

Beneath the sky's triumphal arch
This music sounded like a march,
And with its chorus seemed to be
Preluding some great tragedy.
Sirius was rising in the east;
And, slow ascending one by one,
The kindling constellations shone.
Begirt with many a blazing star,
Stood the great giant Algebar,
Orion, hunter of the beast!
His sword hung gleaming by his side,
And, on his arm, the lion's hide
Scattered across the midnight air
The golden radiance of its hair.

The moon was pallid, but not faint;
And beautiful as some fair saint,
Serenely moving on her way
In hours of trial and dismay.
As if she heard the voice of God,
Unharmed with naked feet she trod
Upon the hot and burning stars,
As on the glowing coals and bars,
That were to prove her strength, and try
Her holiness and her purity.

Thus moving on, with silent pace,
And triumph in her sweet, pale face,
She reached the station of Orion.
Aghast he stood in strange alarm!
And suddenly from his outstretched arm
Down fell the red skin of the lion
Into the river at his feet.
His mighty club no longer beat
The forehead of the bull; but he
Reeled as of yore beside the sea,
When, blinded by Oenopion,
He sought the blacksmith at his forge,
And, climbing up the mountain gorge,
Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun.

Then, through the silence overhead,
An angel with a trumpet said,
"Forevermore, forevermore,
The reign of violence is o'er!"
And, like an instrument that flings
Its music on another's strings,
The trumpet of the angel cast
Upon the heavenly lyre its blast,
And on from sphere to sphere the words
Re-echoed down the burning chords,--
"Forevermore, forevermore,
The reign of violence is o'er!"

Shylock’s Speech from the Merchant of Venice (Act III Scene I) by William Shakespeare

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Sword and the Stone

“Come over here, gentlemen and put your hands on my sword again. Swear by my sword, you’ll never mention what you've heard.”
Hamlet: Act 1 Scene 5.

The Hearth of the Turning Wheel has since its inception developed, adapted, evolved and assimilated teachings and materials not necessarily apparent upon a cursory examination. Two items of regalia, acquired long after our foundation, serve to illustrate this growth.

The Hearth Sword and the Hearth Stone are a pair of ritual items, which although rarely incorporated into ritual; serve an important purpose and represent a vital theological concept. The Sword as a ritual item is a well-known representation of the masculine principle. The Stone as a representative of the Earth is equally well-known, as a representation of the feminine principle.

The symbolism of swords and stones, their pairing and unification, is a common motif in mythology, both ubiquitous and practical. The most obvious illustration is that within the Arthurian Cycle, where a sword must be pulled from a stone, to confer a valid and rightful kingship upon the bearer. Here, the actual penetration of the rock by a blade, is a symbolic representation of the divine union of heterogender principles, that unification of the Sky Father with the Earth Mother. The Hieros Gamos itself, in which the God and Goddess are conjoined.

By drawing the sword Arthur takes upon himself the role of an earthly representation of the Divine King of Heaven, recognising that his kingship is granted or bestowed by the Goddess herself and this is what is meant when we in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel talk of Sovereignty. To again validate his claim to kingship, Arthur marries a recognised princess and it is the marriage to Guinevere that confirms his rights, for it is She who represents the Goddess manifest on Earth.

Historically this near matriarchal marriage line is seen within the pre-Roman culture of Egypt, although in neither the Arthurian Cycle nor in Ancient Egypt, is matriarchal rule an actuality. The Egyptian line of succession being matrilineal, with the crown passed through the female representing sovereignty but with her chosen husband ruling as king.

The concept of Sovereignty runs through British and Irish mythology like a thread of precious virtue. In the Irish cycle it is the MorrĂ­gan who may represent the sovereignty of the land. In the British Isles and the Arthurian Cycle, that archetypal representation is Guinevere. In the English Midlands it is the Maid Marion that other Queen of the May, who holds that same sacred position and by whose marriage Robin Hood reigns as consort.

Marion is a maid but not a maiden. Her relationship with Robin Hood and her activities within the legends, transcend the social mores of the period. She is mistress of her own fate. Her Maytide marriage to Robin Hood, bestows upon him the right to rule. Maid Marion is the Sovereignty of the Greenwood and Robin Hood as her consort, reigns by right of the Sacred Union. The Merry Men, the word Merry is derived from the Saxon meaning retinue or retainer, serve as their household. The model presented in the Sherwood Cycle is therefore; comparable to Arthur, Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian.

The penetration of the stone by the sword is a representation of other symbolic unifications, the lance penetrating the body, is later mirrored in the act of communion in which a blade enters the grail to bless wine. The wine representing both the blood of sacrifice and that of childbirth, for there is perhaps no greater sacrifice than the pain of childbirth to bring forth life, is itself the Sacred Blood of Kingship and Sovereignty.

Within our own practice it is recognised that the Sword and the Stone form a paired treasure, two items of regalia that symbolise what a Hearth is in reality. Wheresoever those paired treasures reside, that is where the Hearthstead is and wheresoever the Hearthstead is, the Kinship and Sovereignty of the Hearth shall reign.

© Daniel B. Griffith the Chattering Magpie 2017

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

I don’t know how (poem © 2017)

There have been many, many times,
That I wanted to say no;
But I don’t know how.

There are many, many people,
To whom I should say sorry;
But I don’t know how.

There are those, far too many,
To whom I should say thank you;
I don’t know how.

There are those, very few,
To whom I should say I love you;
But I don’t know how.

I don’t know how; to say no.
I don’t know how; to say I am sorry.
I don’t know how, to say thank you.
I don’t know how; to say I love you.
I don’t know how to live or to forgive.
I don’t know how.

© Daniel B. Griffith the Chattering Magpie 2017