Thursday 22 December 2011

The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

As the snow covered valley slowly lights up from the new born sun, I sit here contemplating life and death, ends and beginnings, old and new, cycles within cycles, wheels within wheels.  The words of Semisonic's song, Closing Time, echo in my memory, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

(Please note that this is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, but the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, which much different associations and implications.)

Many, many holidays that are celebrated can be seen as new years.  Samhain marks the end of any possibility of harvest in the British Isles.  It truly is the beginning of the dark fallow time of winter, despite most modern calendars proclaiming today as the first day of winter.  On that night in Ireland, all lights were extiguished and New Fire was brought to light and heat the houses through the cold Winter.  Beltaine marked the rebirth, for spring comes later most places than Imbolc and the US celebration of the Ground Hog, reflecting the much older custom of the serpent emerging in February.  Beltaine, an ultimate fertility festival, celebrated the return of life after that long fallow winter.

In the far north of Europe, where harvest comes at Midsummer, Midsummer marked the beginning of the raiding season, when the men went to sea.  That ended before the first snows, usually long before the Autumn Equinox.  The short summer meant two very short periods, the first for farming, the second for raiding.  Planting, growing, and harvest all came within a few months.  And raiding didn't last long before the Norse, the Swedes, and the Danes retreated back to hibernate for the long, dark, cold winter.  When you realize how long the nights are that far north and how cold, you see quickly why the Norse end of the world is marked by Winter, not fire, why the fear is that Winter will never end, why the idea of the sun and moon being consumed to no longer light the day makes perfect sense for the end.

The Chinese New Year occurs on January 23rd this year, according to the Western Gregorian calendar, basically a month from now.  The New Year always falls on the second New Moon (Dark of the Moon) after the Winter Solstice.  Since the Chinese months are lunar based and start on the New Moon, this means the New Year is always the beginning of the second month that starts after the Solstice (unless there's an extra month that year).  On that day, this year of the Rabbit (Rabbit is actually a bad translation, it is the Year of the Hare), a year of compassion (the US didn't get the message, obviously), creativity, and sensitivity, will give way to the Year of the Dragon, a year of dominance and ambition, of independence and raging passion, of innovation and bravery.  Lanterns are lit to celebrate the New Year.

The Hebrew calendar has two New Years, one ecclesiastical, i.e., the religious New Year, and the other secular, i.e., the political New Year.  The first lands on the first of Nisan.  The Hebrew months begin on the night the first crescent is visible after a New Moon (in contrast to the Islamic calendar that begin when the last crescent vanishes, and Chinese month that begins on the actually Dark Moon, half way between the Hebrew and Islamic; all three have lunar based months).  It fall on March 24th this coming year.  You'll note this falls very close to the Vernal Equinox.  Nisan always begins the first new crescent after the Equinox.  The secular New Year falls on the first Tishrei (the seventh month starting as Nisan), and falls on Septmeber 17th this year.  Called Rosh Hashanah, the Head of the Year, this New Year falls right around the Autumn Equinox, just before it this year.

The Islamic New Year begins on the first day of Muharram and is called the Hijri New Year, because it is the day the Hijri calendar started.  The Islamic year is purely lunar, so it shifts in relation to the Gegorian calendar we're used to.  The New Year was about a month ago, November 24th, and will be November 14th next year.  For Shai Muslims, it is a day of grief, not celebration, as it marks the day of the death of Muhammad's grandson and his family.

So, does the New Year begin with the death of the old (like Samhain) or the birth of the new (like Beltaine)?  Does it begin with the beginning of Winter or its end?  The Winter Solstice is both.  Each night until this point gets longer and longer, and each day gets shorter.  The further north you go, the more apparent this gets.  It's not surprising that in southern Europe, the celebrations in Winter had very little to do with death and rebirth, that the Celts, further north, focused on Samhain and Beltaine, with less focus on the Solstice, but that in the far north, only the Solstice was important.  While it was the death of the Old Sun, which had been getting shorter and shorter, it's also the birth of the New Sun.  From this day forward, the days get longer and the nights get shorter.  The Solstice is the promise that Winter will end.  If the sun doesn't rise, it's Ragnarok, and we have winter and darkness for three years with no break for summer.

But the sun did rise, and the day is new, like the phoenix rising from the ashes.  "His mercies are new every morning."  So we great the day and great the sun in new life, new light.  With the sun, we died last night.  With the sun, we were reborn this morning.  Let us go forth and not just exist, but live.  Make this New Sun, this new life, this new light, count.  Go forth and change your world!

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday 21 December 2011

The Throne of Bone

The Throne of Bone
A Poem of the Winter Solstice
By Muninn’s Kiss

Darkest night and shortest day,
Shadows reign and darkness calls,
The shadowy figure of Death stands by,
Patiently waiting for all to fall.

Each child born will surly die,
None is spared and all know why,
At Death’s bone throne each one will come,
He needn’t search for all will come.

The sun sets earlier for half the year,
Night grows longer, shadows strive,
The year he ages as do all,
Growing weaker, growing frail.

The time draws near when he will die,
The year we’ve loved so hard to watch,
The mourners all do gather round,
For letting go is the hardest task.

With the sun, the year does set,
Sinking down into the grave,
Like each man, he bows his knee,
And presents himself at the throne of bone.

In his birth we knew he’d die,
For every beginning contains the end,
We watched him grow like a new born lamb,
We watch him die at the Slaughterer’s hand.

Every beginning has it’s end,
But every ending is born again,
With Dawn’s first light like the Morning Star,
The new year rises and live once more.

Fresh and hopeful, full of life,
The year reborn begins his flight,
We watch him stretch and try his wings,
We glory that he lives again.

Forgetting the grief and sorrow past,
We pretend he didn’t see Death’s own face,
With the new year, we fly away,
Trying to forget our own mortality.

Winter Solstice Song

Winter Solstice Song
By Lisa Thiel

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

On the longest night we search for the light,
And we find it deep within.
Open your eyes to embrace what is wise,
And see the light of your own soul shining.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

Wrap up in the cloak of starry darkness my child,
And you’ll find the center of all things.
For from this space of the deepest dark place,
Life Eternal does spring.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

So when you find that spark
When you dream in the dark,
Hold it close to your heart and know.
All that you see is all that can be
When you give birth to the dreams of your soul.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

Friday 16 December 2011

Grimr's Grimoire: a Book of Myths from the Spider's Web?

I'm contemplating writing a book called Grimr's Grimoire: a Book of Myths from the Spider's Web.  If I do, it will contain poetry, lore, myths, praxis, theory, and other things in it.  Writing it, I'm not concerned with.  I can do that easily, as I have time.  My big concern is the cost to get it published and if I could sell enough copies to offset that cost.  I figure I need to sell about 500 copies to break even.  Here's my tentative list of chapters:

1. Introduction
2. The Prophet and the Mirror
3. The Priest and the Bridge
4. The Poet and the Cauldron
5. The King and the Wasteland
6. The Wanderer and the Mask
7. The Mistress and the Blade
8. The Heidr and the Ten Thousand Things
9. The Vordr and the Compass
10. The Grimr and the Spider's Web
11. The Tvennr and the Eternal Dance
12. The Nagara and Everything
13. Ex nihilo

~Muninn's Kiss

Friday 2 December 2011

Grimr Reading List

The following is an incomplete reading list.  I put this together randomly over the last two hours.  There is no particular order to it, and it is missing the authors currently.  Additionally, to make it a complete list, I would want to provide a summary of each book, my opinion of them, and a link either to a place it is available to read online in the case of older books, or a place to purchase them for the newer books, if either of these exist.  Some of these are easily obtained.  Others are out of print but not out of copyright and very hard to find, especially at a reasonable price.  The first section is a list of books.  The second is a list of magazines and periodicals.  Anything on either of these list, I recommend or it wouldn't be on here.  Some, however, I have not read and/or do not currently have access to.  I have included some that are highly recommended by people I respect.  I have included some that I know the author and the author's work, and hence know the book listed will be good.  I have included some that I haven't finished reading but recommend it based on what I've read so far.  I have included fiction and non-fiction, history and myth, religious texts and magic texts, esoteric and exoteric texts.  Some people will like some things on this list, others will not, but will like other things.  Some of these are based on years of research, some completely intuitive.  Some are very intellectual, some are very mystical.  Some are very practical, some are purely theoretical.  But all are related to my path, my walk, my stream, and I recommend all of them, just not to everyone.  Take it for what it is.  Your mileage may very.

Book List

  • The White Goddess
  • The Golden Bough
  • Tubelo's Green Fire
  • Riding Windhorses
  • Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession
  • Share My Insanity
  • Goddess Initiation
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition
  • Etheric Anatomy
  • The White Wand
  • Evolutionary Witchcraft
  • Kissing the Limitless
  • Spiral Dance
  • Magic and Witchcraft
  • The Zohar
  • Practical Chinese Medicine
  • The Web That Has No Weaver
  • Tao Te Ching
  • I Ching
  • The Herb Book
  • A History of Medieval Christianity: Prophecy and Order
  • Religious Dissent in the Middle Ages
  • Witchcraft in the Middle Ages
  • A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, Pagans
  • Satan: The Early Christian Tradition
  • Dissent and Reform in the Early Middle Ages
  • Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages
  • Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World
  • The Prince of Darkness: Evil and the Power of Good of History
  • Dissent and Order in the Middle Ages: The Search for Legitimate Authority
  • A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence
  • Paradise Mislaid
  • Inquisition
  • I Asked For Wonder
  • Plants of Life, Plants of Death
  • Primal Myths
  • Goddess of the North
  • The God of the Witches
  • The Elements of the Grail Tradition
  • The Jewish Book of Days
  • The Kabbalah: The Essential Texts From the Zohar
  • The Book of Qualities
  • Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies
  • Stillness Speaks
  • Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
  • The Elements of the Runes
  • The Art of War
  • Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
  • A Field Guide to Irish Fairies
  • The Encyclopaedia of Celtic Myth and Legend: A Definitive Sourcebook of Magic, Vision, and Lore
  • The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind
  • Magic that Works
  • Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
  • Roles of the Northern Goddess
  • Pillars of Tubal Cain
  • Thorns of the Blood Rose
  • The Formation Of A Persecuting Society: Power And Deviance In Western Europe, 950-1250
  • Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation
  • The Origins of European Dissent
  • Diodorus Siculus: Library of History
  • Lilith's Garden
  • Azoetia
  • Qutub
  • The Roebuck in the Thicket
  • The Robert Cochrane Letters
  • The Complete Brother Grimm Fairy Tales
  • The Book of Fallen Angels
  • Masks of Misrule
  • The Lesser Key of Solomon
  • The Greater Key of Solomon
  • Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed
  • History of the Kings of Britain
  • Book of Invasions
  • Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism
  • The Middle Pillar
  • Chicken Qabalah
  • The DustBunnies/MarchHares Big Damn Handout Volume I
  • Black Book of the Yezidi
  • Drawing Down the Moon
  • The Religion of the Teutons
  • The Guide for the Perplexed
  • The Book of Lies
  • The Book of Thoth
  • The Book of the Law
  • 231 Gates of Initiation
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • Little Flowers of St. Francis
  • Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Le Morte D'Arthur
  • Living with Contradiction
  • The White Hart
  • Taleisen
  • Merlin
  • Arthur
  • Pendragon
  • Grail
  • Avalon: the Return of King Arthur
  • The Crystal Cave
  • The Hollow Hills
  • The Last Enchantment
  • The Wicked Day
  • The Prince and the Pilgrim
  • One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Andersen's Fairy Tales
  • The Traveler
  • The Dark River
  • The Golden City
  • Vellum
  • Ink
  • The Interior Castle

Magazines and Periodicals

  • The Cauldron
  • Witch Eye: A Journal of Feri Uprising 
  • Circle Magazine
  • Witch's Almanac
~Muninn's Kiss

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