Monday 6 June 2022

Objects Have Stories

Objects have stories.

Objects have stories for those willing to listen to what they say, so see what they show. To those who can Hear without ears, See without eyes.

Objects have stories, memories, of time before. Some stories are stories of joy and innocence. Some stories are stories are stories of darkness and fire and the unknown beyond the fire’s light. Some stories are stories of pain and sorrow. But all stories are memories, echoed across time.

Memory is the bones, blood enlivens the bones. But not all bones are made of calcium and marrow. The objects left behind are part of the bones of a soul. An arrow or spearhead, a set of dice, a pack of cards, an old makeup table, a cherished book, a knife or gun, a birthday card, a coin. Items left behind are as much bone as the bleached or breaking down actual bones, and hold memories, too.

And blood doesn’t always have to be spilled to enliven these bones. The blood rushes through the seer, the listener, and as attention shifts, reaches, finds the object, power follows, for power follows attention. That power is the power of the blood, iron rich blood swirling, like 18,562 tiny magnets, power, swirling, enlivening the bones, the objects, once held dear or just held.

Objects have stories.

A piece of pottery from a shell mound near Berkeley, where many claim it shouldn’t be. A circle of people in the dark, a fire burning near the shore of an ocean not quite as old as now, bowls filled with fish. An old man chip, chip, chipping and arrowhead.

A leg bone of a deer, actual bone, laying beside the river, the Laramie River in Wyoming. Visions of the deer walking, alert, then a foot caught, a slow end, coyotes clean the bones.

An old key, opener of doors, in a cup of keys in an antique store in Boulder, carried long in a pocket, flashes of solid wood doors, tarnished brass locks. An old woman’s hand shaking, the feel of ache in your own hand, arthritis, or the memory of it. The door opens.

Cherished jewelry grandmother to grand daughter. The blood of family brings echoes beyond just the objects. A red flower or sun, red jade set in pewter, flashes of a long corridor, sun through breaks, windows or openings, jade and pewter on a young woman, a flash of fur on a dressing table. Beads, flashes of foreign lands and more familiar places, sitting and waiting, waiting for return.

Some objects whisper, the bare hint of the stories they recall, quieter and quieter as the years pass. Some objects scream, loud and vivid stories, growing stronger with age, the story echoing through the halls of time.

Objects have stories. They just wait for one who can See the stories without eyes, Hear the stories without ears. They wait for those who can. They wait for those willing.

They wait for someone to go calm and pay attention, to not pull back from the dull ache the time past causes, not just the echo of pain long gone, but an ache in the bones as bones call out to bones, blood calls out to blood. An ache in reaching through the cold/hot echoing halls of time, to find the story, to learn what is says.

Objects have stories. Will you witness them?

~Bethany “Lorekeeper” Davis, Muninn’s Kiss

Friday 28 June 2019

Gate 117: Zayin-Lamed (זל)

The 117th gate of the 231 gates is זל, Zayin Lamed.

ז - Zayin - Weapon, Sword, Arm, Strength, Will, Choice, Desire, Actively impacting the world, Marriage, War, Wife, Husband, Crown, Completion, To Act

ל - Lamed - Ox Goad, Staff, Prod, Go Forward, Tongue, To Learn, To Teach, Secret Heart of Eve, Tower Soaring in the Air, Heart that Understands Knowledge

זול - zûwl - to shake, to shatter, figuratively to treat lightly, lavish, despise
לוז - lûwz - to turn aside, to depart, be perverse, depart, froward, perverse (-ness)
אָזל - âzal - “I will” + ״זל״ - go away, disappear, fail, gad about, go to and fro, yarn, be gone (spent), be exhausted, evaporate, to roll, to spin (in the sense of rolling, but used in weaver), to take away, to troll or trowl
הלּז - hallâz - “the” + “לּז” - this or that, side, that, this
נזל - nâzal - “we” + “זל” - to drip or shed by trickling, distil, drop, flood, cause to flow, flowing, gush out, melt, pour, pour down, running water, stream

Literally, Zayin-Lamed, the Weapon (or Arm) and the Ox Hoad, figuratively, to cut and to prod, to move away and to move forward.

This gate is about shaking things up, separating things, defining things by difference, distilling and filtering, spinning something into something new.  It’s about change, being changed, creating change.  In this context, Zayin is about being active and Lamed is about learning.  Both create change.  To stop moving or stop learning, either is to stay the same.  This gate is a call to do the opposite.  Keep learning, keep moving, keep changing and causing change.  It is the gate of the Catalyst, for through it, all things change, with the strength Zayin brings and the prodding forward by Lamed.

Zayin (7) + Lamed (30) = 37.  Other words that add to 37 include ones meaning to perish, grow old, standard or banner, professional, flame, and Yechidah, which is the upper soul, the Godself, which holds the Threads of Fate.  37 reduces once to Yod (10), and twice to Aleph (1).  Yod, the Hand, is that which gives and received, the seed from which things grow, the single point, the centre which is the circumference of all, it is creation and desire, the beginning, which is also Aleph (1) which it reduces to.  Aleph, like Zayin, is strength, but a strength of beginning where Zayin is a strength of changing. Aleph is the ox, which pulls the plow, it is the silence before creation, the separation of above from below, sky from earth, the Mirror of the Outer Dark.  It is Air, which is the middle pillar, and Beriah, the World of Creation.

Beginnings and endings, creation and growing old.  Seeds producing life, flame creating heat, beginnings and growing from beginnings.  Change.  Change of creation, change of growth, change of old age and perishing.  Change, action, movement.

The lesson of the 117th Gate is that it is necessary to act and to learn, necessary to change.  Stagnation, like in a pond, kills.  Life is in the change.  Embrace change, embrace action, embrace learning.  We are in the World of Action, the world where change begins, rippling up through the worlds, as below so above, as above so below.  Be always learning and always acting.


Sunday 19 March 2017

On Wild Urban Places

One question I see a lot and and take part in a lot of conversation is people living in urban areas desiring to connect with wild or untamed places.  Side stepping the discussion of the human world verse the natural world, there is a part of most people that desires wild places.  This desire is weaker or stronger in different people, but it's there for most.

In a lot of parts of the New World, we're lucky.  I can get to mountain forest on land that's never been cultivated in about half an hour, to set aside Open Spaces in five minutes, and to trail heads in 45 minutes where I can hike up into the wilderness and see maybe a person a day if that and be approached by none.  The wild areas change as the landscape changes, but much of this hemisphere has these wild spaces.  Much of Australia, Africa, and Asia have the same.  Not every place, certainly, but its amazing how much wind space is left.

But I know most of Europe isn't that lucky, and same for some of the larger urban areas in the rest of the world as well.   It's easy for people to say, well, drive somewhere, take a bus somewhere, etc, but when it's an eight or twelve hour or more drive to get to the nearest wild place, this is prohibitive for most people.   It costs money and requires time off work which can cost more.   Those that can afford such, it's awesome for them, but many people can't do that, and need other options.

But the "wild" waits at the edge of the "civilized", waiting to reclaim.

There are wild places in every city, places where the wild has crept back in.  While they might not be untamed, they are re-feralled, if you will.  Urban places gone feral. You can find them along waterways, in vacant lots or abandoned buildings, in alleys and access ways, at the forgotten ends of parks and cemeteries.  Wherever "civilization" stops maintaining and grooming, the "wild" slips back in, takes hold, and slowly grows.

It's a different type of wild, but it is wild, Other, luminal.

They aren't easy to find, but looking with the right eyes, paying attention, really seeing, they are there to be found, waiting in the shadows and unnoticed places.

Dangerous places sometimes, with dangers much different from wilderness areas, for what is wild attracts what is wild.  But it's worth the risk, worth risking the dangers, to those who seek such.

Just be sure to keep yourself safe.

~Lorekeeper/Muninn's Kiss

Monday 23 January 2017

The Watchers, the Fey, and the Witch: A Study of Blood

Let's consider for a moment several bits of myth and several bits of lore, and how mythic history interweaves with how things work in the craft.

The general starting point is the often misunderstood or misrepresented concept of witch-blood.  I'm going to start from a mythic understanding here, with the warning that confusing myth and science can be damaging to one's mental processes.  Work with me here.

Starting with the premise that all who work the craft have witch-blood, that all witches are of the blood, you might say.  Now, those with witch-blood have the Sight.  The Sight, as folktales and folklore and myth and lore will tell you, is the ability to see what's truly there, to see through glamour and see the true form of those who have assumed another shape, shapeshifters if you will, and other such things where the average observer doesn't see what's really there.  People tend to see what they expect to see.  The Sight shows otherwise.

Now there's lore, a myth, of the Founders.  I won't go into it here, but the witch-blood comes from the Founders, and to them from the Daughters, and to them from the Watchers.  And through the Ninth Mother to those with that witch-blood.  So that's the start of it.

So, the Sight, True Sight, being that which, in Celtic folktales, allows those with it to see through the glamour of the Fey.  Now, if the witch-blood gives the Sight, and that blood comes from the Blood of the Watchers, the Sight comes from their blood.  Now if the Sight is the seeing through the glamour of the Fey, it has power over their glamour.  It would make sense that that which is greater trumps that which is lesser, so the witch-blood must be greater than the glamour of the Fey.

Now, consider the connection of the Fey to burial mounds and corpse roads, and other bits and pieces, and what this and other things imply.  Now one group of the Fey are of interest here, at least in Ireland, which is the location I want to focus on here, the Sidhe.

Now Sidhe did not indicate a people originally, it means mound, as in a burial mound.  And the stories are of them living in Hollow Hills. I'll leave the connection between the two to you.

Now it was Manannán, son of Lir, that great sorcerer and shapeshifter, who was powerful in glamour among many other things, raised the Veil that separated Ireland into that above and that below, and the Tuatha De Danann went into the Hollow Hills.  This was when it became obvious the Milesians, who myth says became the later Irish, would defeat the Tuatha.  It's not a huge leap to consider the possibility that the Tuatha are the Sidhe.

Note Manannán's shapeshifting and glamour, and other abilities, this might be important.

Now, the Tuatha De Danann are often described as very tall, giants if you will, as were the Fir Bolg.  The Fir Bolg were the people who living in Ireland when the Tuatha invaded, and the two fought for some time until the Tuatha ended up victors.   Some descriptions, however, show the De Danann being a sect or offshoot of the Fir Bolg.

Consider, then, the Nephilim. "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." Or, "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown."  It is not a stretch to link the descriptions of the Nephilim, the children of the Watchers and the Daughters, with the Fir Bold and De Danann.  Other tales around the world similarly fit this parallel.

Now if Manannán's powers, most of which are later seen in witch trial accounts and folktales of witches, and in various cultures around the world including modern trad craft, came from his bloodline, and his people, his blood, comes from the Nephilim, and hence from the Watchers, and if those are the same powers that witches possess, consider again the Sight, and who the Fey are.

Is it impossible that the Fey, especially the Sidhe, are the Mighty Dead, those of Watcher descent, of the witch-blood, who have passed beyond the Veil?  And this Veil being the same that separates the two Irelands in the story of the descent of the Tuatha De Danann into the Hollow Hills?

Now, those living can see through the glamour of those who have passed if this is the case, and the blood is the source of Sight as we said, and also of the glamour and shapeshifting and other abilities the tales ascribe to Manannán and later the Fey and to witches.

Now blood is iron and blood is life.  The dead have no blood, as we all know, as they have died, hence they have in much of the lore an aversion to iron, which is, as we said, of the blood.  This is the reason it runs red.

So the power of the Fey is the result of blood no longer there, but for the power of a witch, the blood is still there.  So the blood has power over the dead who have no blood, as the Sight of the witch overcomes the glamour of the Fey.

So the blood is the difference.  The witch-blood.  If you get my meaning.

~Lorekeeper/Muninn's Kiss

Thursday 24 November 2016

Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis: Some Thoughts on Misruletide

’Tis the season.  But what season?  This is an interesting time of year.


A time of rest.

The land stands fallow and sleeping.

The days shorten, the nights lengthen.

The shadows stretch, the darkness grows.

What season?

There is a time, a time outside of time.  A season?  Certainly.  Better, a time, a tide.

A time outside of time.  The Time of Misrule.  The Tide of Misrule.  Misruletide.

I’m not talking just about the Christmastime, Christmastide, celebration by this name, but the portion of time starting at All Saint’s or All Hallow’s and extending to Candlemas.  I’m talking of a year ending at Hallowtide and starting at Candletide.  The year has ended.  The year has not yet began.

It is a time of rest.  Certainly.  A rest for whom?  The land, well, yes, but who else?  If it is the Time of Misrule, the Season of Misrule, the Tide of Misrule, we should start with what Misrule is, both in the festival use of the word and how we mean it here.

I won’t go much into the festivities or history, but the tradition of Feast of Fools and similar celebrations on Christmas and around that part of the year, was a celebration where everything was turned on its head, socially.  It was a time or revelry and irreverence, a time of no rules, or, namely, misrule.  Depending on where and when, it was sometimes a large scale celebration and sometimes a private affair.  Regardless, the “ruler” over the festivities was among the peasantry or the lower clergy, taking the role of king or abbot.  In Britain, the Lord of Misrule.  One aspect of this, anything trying to hurt or cause problems for those higher in society would be mislead into going after those low in society as well.  I can’t rule out that this aspect was not a part of things as well.

This is the sense I am using for this part of the year, from its end at Hallowmas to its beginning at Candlemas.  The Time of Misrule, the time when the normal order of things is tipped on its head.

It is during this time of year, at various points, in various forms, that we see lore of the Wild Hunt and traditions and folktales that have descended from the Hunt.  In its many forms, the faeries or the dead or witches or other beings ride abroad.  They are lead by various figures, Öðinn, Frigg, Frey, Freyja, Holda, Frau Holle, Berchta, Diana, Gwydion, King Arthur, Nuada, Herne, the Devil, Sir Francis Drake, Manannán, Arawn, Nicnevin, Ankow, and many others.  The Wild Hunt is said to occur, depending on the lore, on All Hallow’s Eve, on Midwinter’s Eve, on Christmas Eve, or on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), or simple during the winter months, during the Misruletide we are discussing.

The variations veil and hide things, for it is the nature of lore to shift, but under it all, we see a Hunt lead by a figure, or two figures, and a host of the Dead or of spirits.  It is interesting to note that the lore of All Hallow’s Eve is of a time when the Dead or spirits roam in the world of the living.  This is not the “normal” state of things, it doesn’t follow the normal rule.  And many of the figures seen leading the Hunt are either dead folk heroes or gods or goddesses of death.

If we consider the parallel of a time when the Dead walk lead by a lord or lady of death with the Feast of Fools led by the Lord of Misrule, the idea becomes apparent.

Consider for the moment an image.

See a woman dressed in black robes with a red veil hiding her face.  She stands in a stone chamber deep beneath the ground, a round chamber with stone benches carved in the sides.  There are two thresholds in the room, an empty doorway with no door to her right, and a pair of massive doors to her left.  A figure stands before the black doors, watching her, still as death, silent as the grave.  In front of her is a black altar, a cube of unworked black stone, the colour of deepest night, deepest shadow.  A body rests on this altar, or a Thread, there is less difference than there seems.  The body is familiar.  In one shrivaled hand, she holds a rod or wand, wood, made of a blackthorn root.  In the other, she holds a knife.

When the time becomes full, when the tide is complete, the knife drops, the Thread is cut, the blood flows from the body, blood black in the shadows, covering the black altar.  This time has ended, the Thread cut, the Cutter’s knife has fallen.

The woman raises the rod and points at the doors, and the figure before it moves.  The figure it tall and thin, covered in black tattered robes.  His face is hidden in the shadowed cowl.  Folded at his back is a pair of skeletal wings with shadow stretched between the bones.  His hands, sticking from the arms of the robes, are nothing but bone.  In one hand, he holds a book, chained to his wrist.  His other hand is em

When the woman raises the rod, the winged figure wipes a line from his book with one skeletal finger.  The ink flows like smoke off the page and a figure rises from the body and joins it, the two becoming one, a spectral image of the body still on the altar.  The figure reaches and opens the doors wide.  Beyond, it is both as dark as the night and bright beyond imagination.  A wind fills the cavern, and the body crumbles to dust and blows away.

The figure beacons, silent, and the spectre walks through the Gates of Life and Death, which are closed fast behind them.

It is finished.

This is the normal rule, the Quick die, becomes the Dead, cross through the Gates, and rest until the time comes for them to return, becoming Quick again.  But this is the time of Misrule, the Dead don’t always stay dead, sometimes the Wild Hunt rides.

But who sides at the front of the Hunt?  Who leads the Dead?  Death.  Like Hel leading the people of her domain in Ragnorak, like the Queen of Faerie leading the people of her domain forth, like Odin or Freyja leading the Dead they have gathered forth, Like King Arthur leading the knights that died, Death rides forth at the front of the Host.

But, if Death leads the Hunt, who guards the Gates?  Ah.  The Time of Misrule.  The Quick caught up in the Host become Dead, and the Dead beyond the Gates can walk.  This is Misruletide.  Among other things.

Now, when the Keeper of the Lost sits as Regent, and the Quick and the Dead can switch station, now is when things aren’t always what they seem.

So, what do we have at Hallowtide?  Not just All Hallow’s Eve.  It is the Eve of All Hallows, of course, All Hallow’s Day, All Saint’s Day, which is followed by All Soul’s Day.  Three days focussed on the Dead, in different ways.  But let’s look specifically at All Soul’s Day.

This is of course best known in the part of the world I live in as the Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, when masks are worn and feasts and presents are prepared for the Dead, often at grave sites, is a similar fashion to the tradition practiced by many of my Craft brothers and sisters in a Dumb Supper on All Hallow’s Eve.  The giving of food to the Dead is present in many cultures throughout the world and throughout time, though not always this time of year.  It is common this time of year, however.

In Catholic practice, All Soul’s Day is a day of commemoration for the “faithful departed”.  This is a somewhat enigmatic phrase to many.  It’s taken to mean those who have died and are in Purgatory.  The phrase is, “fidelium animae”, fidelium, fidelis, fides, faith/belief/trust/confidence, so faithful, believing, or trustable, animae, anima, soul/spirit/life/air/breeze/breath, so spirit of the dead in this context.  Those that believe but haven’t obtained heaven, basically.

Misruletide begins with a focus on the dead, and another use of the phase “fidelium animae” gives some interesting things to consider.  A prayer has been commonly prayed for the “faithful departed” is as follows:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.  And let the perpetual light shine upon them.  And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.  Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

The last phrase, many of us are familiar with, at least in English, “rest in peace”.  This has become the most common expression for those who have died, though if you read lore of the dead from many times past, this directive implies a desire for the Dead not to be unrestful, not to rise.  The Dead don’t always rest peacefully, that the Gates aren’t always sealed, as we’ve been discussing.

Consider this phrase in Latin for a moment, "requiescant in pace”.  “Pace” is “pax”, meaning peace or harmony.  The sense is not in terms of no war, like we often see in in English, it’s the sense of being silent, not being dissident, not conflicting.  “Pax!” was also used like we would use, “Be silent!”, or “Hush!”.  “Requiescant" is “requiesco”, to rest or repose or sleep.  Rest in peace, sleep peacefully and don’t cause me trouble.  If you pardon my humour.

But “requiesco” is “re-“ and “quiesco”.  “Re-“ means back, backwards, or again.  Basically, to go back to a previous state.  “Quiesco” means to rest, cease, sleep, repose, abstain, cease, stop, and similar ideas.  It is from “quies” and “-sco”.  “-sco” changes a verb to have a meaning of starting to or beginning to.  “Quies” means to rest, repose, quiet, and figuratively, to dream.  So, getting to the root, we have the same meaning as we started with, but the combination implies a bit more specific sense than we saw with the original meaning.  “Quiesco” would be, to begin or start to rest, repose, or be quiet.  “Requisco” would be, to return to a state of beginning or starting to rest, repose, or be quiet.  But beginning to rest or repose would be to go to sleep, basically, and to begin to be quiet would be to stop making noise.  So, returning to these would be to go back to sleep, or to become quiet again.  A returning to a previous state of sleep or quietness.

This brings to mind discussions of Charon the ferryman being silent, and of the Dead being silent until Odysseus provides blood, and other stories relating to the silent dead being given speak though blood or other methods.  Bran the Blessed’s cauldron returned the Dead to life, but they were silent, unable to speak.  This is common in much of the lore, the Dead cannot speak, they are silent, unless voice is brought by some means.  To be Dead is to be Silent.  “Requiesco” implies a return to a state of sleep and silence, a return to death.

In modern Catholic context, the prayer implies those in Purgatory moving on quickly to Heaven, but the wording has other repercussions, and begs the question, as this prayer was introduced by St. Benedict in the sixth century and is believed to be older still, was the meaning always what it is now seen as?  The formalized beliefs concerning Purgatory were much later, though the concept existed in deferent forms back before Benedict.  It seems possible, though, that the implications of the prayer as that to keep the Dead at rest is not impossible.

"Requiem aeternam” is of note.  “Requiem” is of course from requies, also, a “place of rest”.  “Aeternam”, “arternus”, is translated as permanent, lasting, eternal, endless, immortal.  Hence, eternal rest, or an eternal resting place.  The second word comes from “-rnus”, making it an adjective, and “aetus”, meaning lifetime or age.  The root meaning is more about a resting place that will last a lifetime than the modern sense of eternity.

So, my tongue and cheek transition:
A place to sleep until we all die, O Lord please give them, and let the uninterrupted light shine on them, and those of the Dead who are trustworthy, by the mercy of God, keep quiet and not bother us.  Amen.

Misruletide is a time when the Dead can walk among the Quick, and when much of the feasts, fasts, celebrations, measures, folk traditions, and rituals are concerned with keeping them from doing so, or misdirecting them so they don’t succeed in whatever they seek to do.

And, I say:

Hail, oh Builder of Storms, Keeper of the Lost, Regent of the North, Ruler of the Time of Misrule, bringer of Change.

Hail, oh Cutter, you whose Knife cuts every Thread when the time comes, the Last Witness, Priestess of the Black Altar.

Hail, oh Guardian of the Gates of Life and Death, Darkling Twin, Shadow of the World, Keeper of the Book in which all is written and all is erased.

May the Time of Misrule bring its secrets and lore and surprises, may the storms bring the life of spring, may the Dead speak when speech is needed, be silent when it is not, ride forth when it is time, and rest in peace when all is accomplished.

Dance, oh Spirits of Misruletide, dance through the long dark nights, and may the lights of the new year find us when Candletide comes again.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.  Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

~Muninn’s Kiss

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Stories from the Gleam




Stories draw from the Gleam, and the combination of that source, the storyteller's blood, sweat, and tears, and the fascination or emotional reaction of the listener becomes something living, like a egregore but free willed.

The Gleam is a place of danger, the endless plains and forests and oceans.  Beyond the Veil, beyond the Gloom, the Gleam is endless.  It is dangerous, deadly, because there are no safe guards like there are here in the Dreamings we mistakenly call reality.

Many things live in the Gleam, for an endlessness contains no end of things.  There is a paradox where it's impossible to know, does the Dreamer, do the dreams and imaginings and fears, of the Dreaming populate the Gleam, or are the dreams and imaginings and fears of the Dreamer the echo or remembrance or viewing of the Gleam?  Do dreams and imaginings flow from the Gleam to the Dreaming, of the Dreaming to the Gleam?  Or both for that matter?

Stories draw from the Gleam.  In the Gleam, all stories are real, in some sense.  Some stories are distorted, warped images seem through the Gloom darkly.  Some stories are all too close to their source.  Does the Storyteller create the stories that are acted out in the Gleam, or view or receive the stories played out there and relate them?  Does it matter?

Stories draw from the Gleam.  Whether in Dream or Imagination, whether in vision or experience, whether reflected into happenings in the Dreaming, they draw the the Gleam.

The Gleam is a place of power, infinite, endless, forevermore.  The Gleam is power.  And stories, drawing from the Gleam, draw from that power, are energized, are made of the stuff of that power, the stuff of the Gleam.

Stories draw from the Gleam.  Stories innately contain power, are power.  The Story is the Gleam, and the Gleam is the Story.  The Storyteller is the Story, the Story is the Storyteller.  The Storyteller is the Gleam, the Gleam is the Storyteller.  The conduit.  The bridge.

Stories draw from the Gleam.  The Storyteller takes those stories, births them.  Tales are birthed, brought forth, manifest.  They are birthed in blood, sweat, and tears.  Nothing is born without effort.  Nothing is born without pain.  The Storyteller brings forth the story from the Gleam.

You get out of something what you put into it.  Nothing comes for free.  The work, the blood, sweat, and tears, is the cost, and the gift.  A gift for a gift.  The Storyteller gives of herself, the Gleam gives back.  The Story is born.

You get out of something what you put into it.  The blood, sweat, and tears of the Storyteller puts power into the Story, adds to the power from the Gleam.  The power grows.  The Story grows.  Life is breathed into the think that is not Dead, but have never lived.

A Story isn't a Story without a Listener.  A Storyteller isn't a Storyteller without a Listener.  A Story kept to yourself is a Dream.  A Storyteller without a Listener is a Dreamer.  But in the telling, the Dream becomes a Story.  In the transmission, the sharing, the teaching.  It matters not if the Story is spoken or written, until it is heard or read, it is the Dream.  When the Dream is shared, it becomes the Story.

The Listener is not listening, is not the Listener, if the listening is passive.  The Listener hears, listens, comes to know.  The Listener receives the story.  In the receiving, the Story is no longer just the Storyteller's.  The Storyteller and the Listener both hold the Story.  The Dream made flesh, the Dream manifest as Story.

In the Listener, fascination is born.  In the Listener, emotions are born.  This fascination, these emotions, feed the Story, it grows in power, it grows.  The Story becomes more than a Story.  The Story takes on Life, Spirit.  The Story breathes.  The Story takes on a spirit of its own, becomes a spirit,  The Dream became the Story, the Story became the Spirit, the Spirit lives.

But Spirits are living things, and living things like to continue living.  If the Spirit only exists between the Storyteller and the Listener, the Spirit dies with them when both are gone.  Or when the Spirit is forgotten, for while it lives, it lives on Memory.  Memory is in the Bone, enlived by the Blood.  The Spirit is in the Memory, the Memory of the Story, the Story of the Dream, the Dream of the Gleam.  Like all living things, the Spirit desires to survive.

How can a memory survive the one who remembers it?  Only in the sharing of it or recording of it.  But it is not a memory if it is recorded but the record is never picked up.  So, for the memory to survive, it must be either shared directly or shared indirectly.

The Spirit of the Story of the Dream of the Gleam compels the Listener to share it.  Some resist and Spirits die, living on only in the Gleam.  But many share.  In sharing, the Listener becomes the Storyteller, the Story becoming her Story, and in the telling, she once more births it anew.  The Story grows, and with it the Spirit, becoming stronger.  And the new Listener receives, as the Listener turned Storyteller did before her, as the original Storyteller received from the Gleam, through the the Gloom and the Veil.

The Story becomes the Lore with the retelling by the new Storyteller, and the Spirit of the Lore of the Story of the Dream of the Gleam is strong, and still wants to survive, to live on.

And the Lore is a very powerful Spirit.


Friday 24 July 2015

On Veils and Webs and Hedges...

Much folklore, tradition, and mythology talk of a boundary, an edge, a division between worlds. Why this is common should be fairly evident. If there is an Otherworld, Underworld, any type of world beyond ours, if there was no separation, there would be no other world, the two would be one. For the two to be distinct, or function as distinct, something must divide them.

There are different words in different languages and cultures, different meanings, different methods to cross this boundary. But the boundary is constant, because it has to be. If there's another world, there is a boundary making these worlds distinct.

One common word used in English is the Veil. This is the term I most commonly use. As do many others.

The term brings to mind for some the veils of nuns or brides, the veils of mourners, the veils of Islamic women. For others, it brings to mind the veils of belly dancers, or harems, or erotic chambers. For others still, it brings to mind the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem, and of the verse in the New Testament of that veil torn in two from top to bottom.

These imaginings of the Veil are useful, of course they are. But how accurate are they? Why do we use the term, and do our images match the reality the term is trying to describe.

Lets start with the meaning of Veil, and it's origins.

veil (n.)
c.1200, "nun's head covering," from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (12c., Modern French voile) "a head-covering," also "a sail, a curtain," from Latin vela, plural of velum "sail, curtain, covering," from PIE root *weg- (1) "to weave a web." Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil "become a nun" is attested from early 14c.

The beginning of this description of course is some of the uses we described above, a head covering, a curtain. But note first the Latin vela, velum. Despite it's use as singular, vela is plural, and that is the word we get veil from, not the singular. Of interest, though, is that the Latin velum also becomes the English velum, which is the soft palate, the roof of the mouth. A veil is thin and covers, but it isn't necessarily cloth or fragile.

Of more interest is the fact that Velum comes the reconstructed *weg- meaning "to weave a web". It is the image of a spider's web across a surface or over an opening. Have you ever walked into a room or cave or cavern or between trees and walked right into a spider web at face level? That is a veil.

Web comes from the same word and so does weave. These two retained that meaning well. Most of the words coming from this root mean something along the lines of entwined, interlaced, woven.

But, as words do change meaning over time, do these meanings hold relevance to our Veil, the way we use it in the context of this discussion?

Consider for a moment, the idea of the endless Web of Fate I have described elsewhere.  Each being, human or not, has a knot of Threads at their core, that tie them to everything else.  These Threads interconnect with other Threads of those we encounter and interact with, and to our ancestors by blood, lore, or past lives.  These form a multidimensional Web, woven by the one who weaves.  I describe the web like this:

"Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking."

What if this Web I describe is the boundary between worlds?  What if it is our woven interconnectedness throughout Time and Space that separates us from that which is outside our Time and Space?  If this is the case, the Web that binds us together holds us in what we think is reality.  This would make crossing over that boundary very difficult, because we ourselves become the sentilils and guards, the Guardians of the Gate if you will.  All our experiences and pasts and futures and interactions in this world tie us deeper into the Web and more to what we think is reality.  People tend to see what they expect to see.

But, then, crossing that boundary also would mean being disentangled from it.  Not necessarily cut free (after the one who cuts cuts our Thread, we cross the Gates of Life and Death; completely cut free of the Web is freedom from this world and our bodies, for the Threads are what knits flesh and spirit, spirit and flesh) but loosed.  So, to cross over, the knots that hold us to what we know and expect of reality must be loosened and the Threads allowed to bend. The Threads of Fate but be bent, Fate must be bent.

Consider for a moment the word "warp".  In most common usages in Modern English, it is to "to bend, twist, distort".   This word is believed to come from the reconstructed Proto-Indoeuropian *werp- meaning "to turn or bend".  In weaving, it is used in contrast to "woof", the woof being the set threads in the loom, the warp twisting and turning through the woof, bending it, to create a fabric.  "Woof" comes from *webh- meaning "to weave", which is the source of both our English weave, web, and wave.

If the Web of Fate is the boundary between worlds, and the All as a loom, and we see it as the woof in that loom, the threads that aren't connected to the woof that twist and turn between them and bend them become the warp.  The warp bends the woof, the weave, the Web.  Without a warp in a loom, there is no fabric.  Cut the ends and the woof is a pile of strings.  But with the warp wove through the woof, a fabric forms.  The warp hold the woof in place, and of course gives it colour and pattern.  The woof is the foundation, but the warp defines its form.

Some Celtic sources describe the worlds as the Endless Knot, two separate lines interwoven but never connecting.  The is of course the two worlds, the world we know, and the Otherworld.  The two are seen as being tied together in certain places, and the Veil being thinnest there.  Places meaning points on the earth, spatial places, and points in time, temporal places.  At certain locations, the Veil is very thin because the worlds are so close.  At certain times, liminal times, the worlds draw close, and the Veil thins.  This idea of two interwoven worlds fits well the idea of the fabric of the Veil being the interweaving of the woof, our world, and the Threads that connect us, and the warp, the Otherworld and the Threads that connect those that live beyond the Veil, beyond the Gloom out in the endless Gleam.

Then, expanding the metaphor, and the reality it describes, crossing over is a matter of being tied to that other Web, that is the warp, which would mean that those who cross over are tied to both webs, that the Threads at their core run both out into the Woof Web of Fate and the Warp Web of Fate.  They span the worlds, are the Gates, and guardians thereof, they are of both worlds, so not fully of either.

It's by no accident that one of the folk etymologies for "witch" is that it came from a word meaning "to bend or turn".  Especially when we consider that the English "weird", from the Germanic "wyrd", urdr, ultimately meaning Fate, and is the name of one of the three Norns in Norse myth, comes from *wert-, from *wer-, the origin of *werp- we discussed above, "to bend or turn".  The warp of the loom, the wyrd, the fate, the Norns who decide the fate of all beings, the Spinner who spins the Thread, the Weaver who weaves it into the Webs, and the Cutter who cuts to on the Black Altar.  The Grimr.

Moving on from weaving and webs and veils, let's consider another common term for the boundary between worlds, the Hedge.

The image here is English style hedgerows of the type that separate fields or surround a residence.  These form a living, wild boundary between two fields, or between what is inside and what is outside.  For metaphoric purposes, we can use the image of a hedge around a residence, separating the inside and the outside.

Taking this idea back, and looking at the residence with a hedge around as an extension of the hill fort with a baracade or the castle or city with a wall, the inside becomes "us" and the outside "them", the hedge as protection from the Other beyond it.  Inside, we cultivate and control, we build and grow crops, we live life in relative safety.  Outside, there's uncertainty, danger, the settled, civilized farming settlement with the dangerous dark wood beyond, the image of the shift from nomadic to settled life.

The hedge is a wild and dangerous place, but intentionally so.  There's a reason two of the most common hedge trees are the whitethorn (hawthorn) and blackthorn (sloethorn).  While pretty trees, and both producing fruit (the haws and sloes) that provide food for those within and without alike, and to birds and rodents and other animals, the thorns are the important part.  These are thicket forming trees with long, dangerous thorns.  The blackthorn's thorns will cause nasty infections, and both are long and very sharp.  You can't cross the hedge without a lot of pain and threat to your body.  Among the thorns creatures live and other plants, including other trees, grow intermixed.  The result is a very dense wild boundary almost impossible to cross.

The hedge, though, being a wild space, also becomes a space where many herbs and other plants grow, giving rise to one of the two major modern usages of the term "hedgewitch".  The second meaning relates more to the hedge metaphor I'm going toward than the mundane hedgerows.

Often stiles are built where passage is needed.  Stairs up one side and down the other, these triangular constructions allow passage over the hedge, the only safe passage.  And these often can be gated at the top, and also mean limited known ingress and egress points.

Our hedge is like that, a wild space that both keeps us in, we that live in the Dreaming, the reserve if you will, and keeps the Other out, the deadly things that roam the Gleam, dangerous things our hedge protects us from.  The hedge itself is dangerous to both, but limited and defined, a wild place that keeps the inward inward and outward outward.

The thin spots we talked about above function similar to stiles, but it should be remembered that what allows one to go outside the hedge also allows one to come inside the hedge.  The stiles both allow passage out into the Gleam through the Gloom and become a dangerous gateway for things to possibly come into the Dreaming.

Just like with the mundane hedgerow, there are things in this hedge that can provide healing and nourishment, and things that are poisonous or deadly.  Those who enter the hedge can gain much for it, but also must be cautious.  And those that cross completely through or over the hedge instead of riding it must be very careful, because there's a reason we live inside the hedge.  The risk can definitely be worth it, though.

~Lorekeeper, Muninn's Kiss

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