Lammas, Rituals

A Harvest Rite

An excerpt from a Harvest Rite previously used by the Hearth of Albion….

John Barleycorn, for this rite, should be prepared in the following manner:
1) He must be male, and must be chosen by lot from a group of men who have all agreed to the possibility of taking this role. The choosing by lot is important; it is the way that the Gods chose their sacred kings in the long-ago past, and the Gods wish to have such choice again.
2) A wreath of wheat stalks and red poppies should be crafted, and placed on his head, and attached in such a manner that it will not come off. We suggest tying it in place with his hair.
3) Each person present should have a jar, there should also be a Cauldron or Mortar and Pestle for mixing. The jars should have different grains from the list below
4) King Oil, Stangs, Cauldron / Mortar, Incense, Sword, Knife, Cup / Horn, Libation, Cake / Bread, Cords, horn, drum

The John Barleycorn Rite

Lady – This is a sacrificial rite honouring the Corn King, who is the embodiment of all that is cut down that we may live. He is Frey, Ing, Lugh, Tammuz, Dumuzi, Adonis, and many other names; John Barleycorn is found everywhere that people grow and cut grain for their survival. 
Men of the Hearth, are you willing to serve, to take the place of the Sacrificial King and if needs be to lay down your life for the good of all?

Men – Aye

Woman – Then draw your straw from these lots and let the gods of Fate choose, may the best man now be chosen!

Woman – Brings up the 3 straws and the Men take one each.
Once the Corn King is chosen the Corn Crown is placed on his head and he is anointed with the King’s Oil and takes the Cauldron / Mortar in his hands, all then revere the King!

All – Hail the King, Hail John Barleycorn, Hail the Green Man who lives and is sacrificed so that we may live on! Long Live the King!

The Grain Blessing

As each comes forward with a different grain and tips it into the cauldron / mortar they should say the following:
For maize: “Feed us with words of life.” 
For barley: “Feed us with words of sacrifice.” 
For amaranth: “Feed us with words of the Sun.” 
For quinoa: “Feed us with words of the mountain.” 
For rice: “Feed us with words of wealth.” 
For millet: “Feed us with words of survival.” 
For rye: “Feed us with words of endurance.” 
For buckwheat: “Feed us with words of love.” 
For wheat: “Feed us with the words of the Gods.”

Lady – Our ancestors got up at dawn, 
Slaved in the dirt, 
Sweated in the sun, 
Chilled in the cold, 
Numbed in the snow, 
Scattering each seed with a prayer: 
Pray that there be enough, 
That no one starve this winter. 
Pray that no bird nor beast 
Steal the food I have struggled for. 
And most of all, 
Pray that each seed I save 
Of this harvest 
Shall next year 
Bring forth a hundred more.

Woman – We live today 
Because they worked 
Because they sowed 
Because they harvested 
Because they prayed.

Woman – John Barleycorn, you are the Sacrificial King, you are he that lays down his life that others may live, will you accept your role here today and play your part?

John – ‘Aye’

Lady – Then because of your sacrifice our People will live on and the tribe will survive! We now sing the praises of all the grains that are sacrificed in John Barleycorn’s name!

Woman- I sing the praises of Wheat, 
First grain of the wagon people of Europe, 
You who make the bread rise high, 
You who make the soft white dough, 
You who are sweet 
And can last a thousand years 
And still blossom forth in the Earth. 
I sing the praises of Wheat.

Man 1 – I sing the praises of Rye, 
Grain of the cold north, 
Grain who needs little to prosper, 
Grain who feeds those with the worst land, 
Tallest of the waving heads, 
Dark flour of nourishment, 
I sing the praises of Rye.

Woman – I sing the praises of Barley, 
Growing in the footsteps of Frey 
Cut down in the body of Ing 
Brewed to make the drink 
That makes hearts high 
And warms the family circle 
Grain of companionship, 
Grain of Rune of Sacrifice, 
I sing the praises of Barley.

Man 2 – I sing the praises of Buckwheat, 
Grain of high Tibet, 
Field of leaves like hearts 
And delicate white flowers, 
Grain shaped like the pyramids, 
Beloved of bees, 
I sing the praises of Buckwheat.

Lady – I sing the praises of Rice. 
Great grain of Asia, 
Fruit of a million paddies, 
Life of a billion people, 
Grain of the rat god Daikoku, 
Giver of prosperity, 
I sing the praises of Rice.

Woman – I sing the praises of Millet, 
Great grain of Africa, 
Planted in the hot fields 
Among the yams and melons 
Grain of the warmest sun 
Yin to buckwheat’s yang 
I sing the praises of Millet.

Man 1 – I sing the praises of Maize, 
Great corn of the North Continent, 
Yellow, white, red, blue, and black, 
Colours of the four directions 
And the centre of spirit, 
Whose name means “Life” 
I sing the praises of Maize.

Woman – I sing the praises of Amaranth, 
Great grain of the Mexican desert, 
Sacred grain growing taller than a man 
Yet with the smallest seed of all, 
Abundance in the dry time 
Saviour in a drought, 
I sing the praises of Amaranth.

Man 2 – I sing the praises of Quinoa, 
Great grain of the high mountains, 
Nourishment of the south continent, 
Reaching closest to the sky, 
Porridge and cleanser, 
Ground under the gleam of gold, 
I sing the praises of Quinoa.

Lady – I sing the praises of John Barleycorn and of grain, 
That which sustained our foremothers 
That which strengthened our foremothers 
That which fed all children’s hungry mouths 
That which multiplies from the earth, 
Giving back more than we give in turn. 
I sing the praises of the sacrifice 
That is cut down 
That we may live.

John Barleycorn puts down the Cauldron / Mortar and crouches down with his robe around himself

Planting
The onlookers sing the first verse of “John Barleycorn”:

All – There were three men come out of the West 
Their fortunes for to try 
And these three men made a solemn vow 
John Barleycorn must die. 
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in 
Threw clods all on his head 
And these three men made a solemn vow 
John Barleycorn was Dead.

The Cutting
The onlookers sing the second verse of “John Barleycorn”:

As this verse is sung, John Barleycorn slowly rises to his feet and casts off the Cloak. He lifts his arms to the sky, holding the grain. During this verse the man with the scythe and the woman with the sickle come forth.

All – They’ve left him in the ground for a very long time 
Till the rains from heaven did fall 
Then little Sir John’s sprung up his head 
And so amazed them all. 
They’ve left him in the ground till Midsummer 
Till he’s grown both pale and wan 
Then little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard 
And so become a man.

The man with the scythe / sword steps forward and says:

Man 1 – I sing the song of the scythe, 
Swinging through the air, 
Sharpness and keenness its breath, 
Rhythm its walk, 
The tooth of the Moon, 
The razor of the Sun. 
For sharpness means that we shall eat this winter, 
For keenness means that there shall be enough. 
May those of us who find ourselves to be blades 
Recall that our cutting edge 
Is best used for the nourishment of all.

The woman with the sickle / knife steps forward and says:

Woman – I sing the song of the sickle, 
Curved as the crescent moon, 
Shining as the reflection on the water, 
Sharp as the winter winds 
That threaten our well-fed sleep. 
I am the shedder of blood, 
The harbinger of Dire Necessity, 
The one who holds the bowl 
As the life force from all the sacrificed beasts 
Soaks into the Earth. I am She who accepts 
All that you have to give, and more. 
Will you give yourself to me, 
Willingly, joyously, like a bridegroom 
Going to the bed of his lover?

John Barleycorn – ‘Aye, I will give of myself, my life is forfeit and is given willingly to the Tribe!

Woman – Today, sweet golden king, 
My hand belongs to Her 
As does your body. 
I thank you for your gift of life 
And I promise you rebirth next year 
With this my very same hand. 
And in your turn 
Since someday my body will be Hers as well 
Promise me 
The same hope; 
Rebirth me in joy everlasting.

The Man and Woman ‘cut’ down John Barleycorn, the woman cuts his throat the man sweeps his legs and John falls to the floor to lie dead

The Binding
The onlookers sing the third verse of “John Barleycorn”:

All – They hired men with their scythes so sharp 
To cut him off at the knee. 
They’ve bound him and tied him around the waist 
Serving him most barb’rously. 
They hired men with their sharp pitchforks 
To prick him to the heart 
But the drover he served him worse than that 
For he’s bound him to the cart.

The man and woman take long ropes and quickly bind the fallen with criss-crosses – Ing-runes, like a sheaf – from shoulders to ankles. They each take a pitchfork / stang from beside the altar and mime jabbing him in the heart.

The Threshing
The onlookers sing the fourth verse of “John Barleycorn”:

All – They’ve rolled him around and around the field 
Till they came unto a barn 
And there they made a solemn mow 
Of Little John Barleycorn 
They’ve hired men with their crab-tree sticks 
To strip him skin from bone 
But the miller, he served him worse than that, 
For he’s ground him between two stones.

The people with Cords come forth. During the next few verses, they whip him lightly thrice. 
After this they should lift their Cords, forming a wheel. Then they walk around the fallen figure, miming pushing the mill-wheel hard.

The Final Sacrifice
The onlookers go ahead and sing the last verse:

All – Here’s Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl 
And brandy in the glass 
But Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl’s 
Proved the stronger man at last 
For the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox 
Nor so loudly blow his horn (Blow the Horn)
And the tinker can’t mend his kettles nor pots 
Without a little of the Barleycorn. 
Without a little of the Barleycorn. 
Without a little of the Barleycorn.

During this verse, the Man and Woman fetch the bread and beer from the altar and place them on his prone body, blessing them. Then they walk among the people, offering the bread and beer, and saying, “Taste sacrifice, that we may live.”

Once this is done John is untied and he then scatters some of the grain! The remainder is split between the jars to be used for any workings where growth / sacrifice is required.

John – Receive the harvest of my body that you may live, receive the blessings of my Sacrifice but remember in order to Harvest the Seed must be sown!

All – Hail the King, Hail John Barleycorn, Hail the Green Man who lives and is sacrificed so that we may live on! Long Live the King!

Lady – It is the nature of sacrifice 
To be difficult. 
If it was easy to throw away, 
It was no sacrifice. 
If it you will not miss it 
It was no sacrifice. 
If it was not the best you could give 
It was no sacrifice. 
If it was not agonizing to choose, 
It was no sacrifice. 
If it did not make you waver at least once in your choice, 
It was no sacrifice. 
If it did not make you weep, 
It was no sacrifice.

Cakes and Ale – Libations to be made!

Adapted from a John Barleycorn Rite

Musings, Rituals, Yule

Yuletides – Happy New Year? Traditions…

The morning here is dull and grey, the weather unseasonably warm, the merest breath of wind disturbs the bare trees, the final sunrise of the calendar year of 2018 has dawned, the end of the Year as measured by the Gregorian Calendar has now arrived. It is a day when many will be seeking to go out and celebrate; pubs and clubs will be packed out tonight, restaurants booked solid months in advance, officially organised firework shows will be burning much needed public money for nothing more than a few moments of goodwill – at the expense of our animals whom will cower in terror at the noise – and of course there will be private New Year’s Eve parties aplenty, occurring all across this land of ours….

For most it is yet another seasonal excuse to indulge in drunken excesses, another chance to show off, and perhaps another day of rising debt in the name of nothing more than keeping up with the ‘Joneses’ – if that is your thing then I wish you well, but for me those days are long past – for others it may involve something more traditional, a little lower key perhaps, and for some it will include all of the above…

I have no problem with how folks choose to live their lives – we each have to walk the path before us as we see fit – nor do I have a problem with celebration per se, it is good to have an occasional blow out, to do something out of the norm, the memories of which will stay with us long after the event, but I do have issue with the forced joviality and excess of this night, the overhyped prices, and the expectation that to enjoy yourself you have to become completely inebriated on this one last night of the year – especially as this is a night that until 1752 was not actually celebrated as New Year’s Eve at all….

The celebration of January the 1st as New Year’s Day originates with the Romans, in 153BC it was adopted as the start of the New Year as being the first day the Senate convened and officials took up their new positions, and this date continued to be followed with the adoption of the Julian Calendar in 45BC. In the 4th Century CE after the Romans left the UK and with the Anglo Saxon migrations and a return – in the main – to paganism, then March the 25th – or Lady Day – was celebrated as the beginning of the New Year both here and across large parts of Europe, a time when the ‘Thyng’s’ would happen – assemblies of the people to discuss and decide all points of Law, resolve disputes and literally talk about ‘things’…

Officially this lasted until William the Conqueror decreed in 1066 that January the 1st was to become New Years Day, but the date of the 1st January was not widely acknowledged or celebrated as such in England until 1752 when Parliament passed the ‘Calendar (New Style) Act’ in 1750 – Scotland adopted January the 1st in 1600). The existence of March 25th as New Year can still be evidenced in the modern UK Tax Year, which begins on the 6th April (March 25th + 12 days – the missing days removed to re-synchronise the calendars at the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752).

Of course, depending on your culture there are many alternative dates for the New Year, within the pagan community it is widely understood that Samhain on the 31st October is the start of the New Year, in China the New Year is based on a Lunar Cycle and linked to Spring, so the exact date varies each year, sometime in January or February, other Asian cultures celebrate anytime from January until Autumn, Rosh Hashanah – Head of the Year – is celebrated by Jewish people in Autumn and the Islamic New Year – based on a 12 month Lunar calendar – moves forwards 11 days every year, so there can be 2 Islamic New Years within the Gregorian Calendric Year…

So, knowing that the actual date of celebrating New Years at the end of December is actually no older than 266 years in England – or 418 years in Scotland – does this negate our celebrations? Not at all, but it does give us cause to understand that all calendrical dates are merely arbitrary, a man made and imposed system of notation to allow us to book-keep and to plan ahead, and for Pagans and those who seek to follow a more natural Calendar it should perhaps make us look for other markers as to why we celebrate certain things at certain times of the year, perhaps instead of looking at the actual arbitrary date it is assigned within the modern calendar we should instead look towards a physical marker for the timings of our festivals – whatever they are and however we choose to celebrate them…

So, what Physical markers could we seek in order to time our chosen Festivals? This is pure conjecture on my own part, but I would hope food for thought for those who walk their own paths, perhaps something to look at both within your own cultural folklore and also to the timings of your own celebrations; truly depending on the choice of festival we seek to celebrate there are myriad, from animal and plant occurrences – Candlemas/Imbolc from Lambing time and the flowering of the Snowdrops, Ostara / Lady Day from the flowering of the Daffodils, Beltane from the flowering of the Hawthorn – through to astronomical events – such as Solstice, Equinox, certain constellations and stars returning to the night sky and the Meteor showers that occur at specific times of year – and then to more local natural events – such as first frost for Samhain and the harvesting of wheat at Lammas, etc…Food for future thought and perhaps the subject for a future post to explore these avenues, however we digress…

What then of the Traditions associated with New Year, here in the northern part of the UK we have ‘First Footing’, and there is also the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions… I shall explore both below…

First Footing
In the North of England is a tradition that is shared with our Scot’s neighbours and almost certainly originated from the Norse Cultures in the 8th and 9th CE. From my own childhood I remember that my Father – he was both tall and dark, both prerequisites for the best of luck to be brought in – had to leave the house before midnight through the back door, and he would then knock on the front door at midnight and step in, bringing in with him coal, bread, a silver coin and also the ‘luck’ for the New Year, to be greeted with a dram of Whisky and a mince pie…

This is a tradition my husband’s family also shared – despite being the other side of the country from us – seeing out the Old Year through the back door and bringing in the New Year through the front – and it appears is quite widespread throughout the North and Midlands of England; perhaps it is a remnant of something more, a genetic memory of something considered important to our Ancestors, of what once happened and something that we can easily build upon to recreate something of the original blessings that would have been shared…

If we look to what would have mattered to our distant Ancestors, then we can see the bare bones of a First Footing Rite that could be recreated, what we now take for granted – warmth, light, food, shelter, community – is something they would have had to strive hard to provide for themselves, shelter would not be something that was freely available to all – either through work or through welfare like we now have available – but would have to be earned, through hard work to secure the materials and then building it, something beyond most individuals and families, hence why the immediate community you lived within was so important, people helped one another as a matter of course, it was a basic survival strategy, and one as a society that we now seem hell bent on ignoring.

So it would make sense that the blessings most important to our Ancestors would be the ones reflected in the traditions of First Footing, gifts of coal (warmth), of food (bread), of silver coin (money) and of good luck to be greeted with food and drink – a representation of welcome from the Companie – perhaps they would also add in salt, fire, clothing and a twig of evergreen – we would perhaps think that salt was there that your life would always have seasoning and flavour, but actually it was a much needed preservative, without which meat could not be stored for any length of time; fire as both warmth and light; clothing speaks for itself and a twig of evergreen for the return of new life in the spring, symbolic at the darkest time of year – perhaps if mistletoe was used it would hold a dual significance, as both evergreen and a symbol of love that your life would be filled with both love and fertility… Again food for thought…..

New Year’s Resolutions
Ancient Babylonians made oaths to their Gods to pay their debts and return any borrowed possessions at the start of a New Year, Romans began each year by making promises to Janus – after whom January is named – and Medieval Knights took their Peacock Vows at the end of Christmas to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry; Christians also made vows of self-improvement at New Years Eve Watchnight Services; all of these are believed to have contributed to the modern tradition of making resolutions at New Year, basically a vow or oath freely given to improve oneself throughout the coming year.

For most these are something not to be taken seriously, the majority of oaths and vows given are unachievable and unrealistic, many false promises are made to ‘get fit’ and to ‘go to the gym 3 times a week for the year’, or to ‘sort out my finances’; and yet, how likely is it that if you have not done those things before that you will do so moving forwards? Instead of setting such open ended and challenging goals better to set yourself smaller more manageable ones…

If we are serious about our Path, committed to following it and to becoming a better person than we were, then perhaps we should look to making resolutions that are linked both to our Path and also that are achievable. Recently as part of a friend’s Solstice Celebrations we took part in a “Sumbel” – a formal toast / oath / boast drinking Rite, where a horn of mead is passed around the table and all present have to stand and make first a toast, then on the second time the horn passed around the table an Oath and finally on the third pass a Boast – a raucous, thoughtful, hilarious and wonderful Rite, that afforded all great mirth, companie and understanding of one another…

The Oaths given came from the heart, had personal meaning and I am sure will be kept… Perhaps a way to incorporate your New Years Resolutions into your Craft?

Anyhows, however you choose to celebrate – or not – this Roman Gregorian Calendrical New Year of 2019 I wish you all you wish for yourself for the coming Calendar Year, may your Eve be filled with laughter, with companie and with love, and the coming year bring blessings aplenty upon your Path, may you ever receive what you need…

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Breacca

All Hallows, Musings, Rituals, Samhain

All Hallows / Samhain 2018 – Some thoughts…..

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I love this time of year, it is the season I resonate with the most, the autumnal colours are the ones I find most beautiful, although what to us appears to be beauty incarnate is in fact the death knell for the leaves, it is the trees letting go of what cannot be sustained throughout the coming winter by reclaiming all the goodness they can and releasing the dead carcasses of what allowed them to grow and thrive throughout the previous 2 seasons. A delicious heady poignant beauty, one of death amid life, the dropped leaves then decompose to form new soil and nutrients, feeding fungi and insects and thus birds and animals, an endless recycling system, that has lessons for us all to learn from if we but choose to do so.…

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I also love the newly darker skies and longer nights that afford glimpses of the stars not seen in all their glory for many months, the shooting stars of the Orionids seen streaking across the night – peaking on my birthday, the Full Moon silvery lighting the cold clear night sky and illuminating the dark world as if it was day… And of course the chance to witness Aeon’s worth of Lore written out large across the heavens for all to see; our Ancestors knew much more of it than do we, and yet if we take the time to look then the book is open for all to read, there truly are no real ‘secrets’, everything that has been discovered can be found again, if we choose to put in the effort and time to do so….

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And, although not always appreciated by all, the colder weather is a somewhat welcome respite from the oppressive heat of summer, driving change, a more active climate, with less certainty and one that opens us to new experiences – the autumnal storms that strip the trees as the Wild Hunt rides through the night, the frosts that make us wrap up warm and invigorate our senses, the rain that recharges the land for the next years growing cycle, the wind that freshens the land. All of this may make some folk decide that they need to hibernate, to retreat indoors with their central heating and to abandon the wild woods until spring brings warmth new to the land, and yet it is absolutely glorious out there, no matter what the weather. Venture forth – suitably clad for the conditions – into the night, to places of Arte – your own working space or any place of the Ancients – and there is an Otherness, a palpable difference in the land, and a connection ripe for the making if you but take the chance to do so….

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For myself and for those we work with there is something special about being out of doors for Ritual; indoors is fine when there is an immediate need to do some form of urgent working, but for Ritual then ‘always outdoors’ is our rule. To go out into the night, into the dark woods, to make the silent walk in – a waking meditation in its own right that allows the individual to attune and prepare for what is to be done – and then to set up in the working space, a place both familiar and ‘Other’ is something that focuses the mind more than any cleansing or preparation indoors ever can. There is a frisson of awareness that you are in a place that demands you to be vulnerable – anyone or anything could chance upon you out there – but this also opens you up, your awareness expands, and as long as you are aligned with one another, working with intent and with the permission of the Land Spirits / Wights, then there is nothing else quite like it…. For ourselves the darkness forces our other senses to become keener, you are more aware, more alive and more focused than at any other time, and when connection is made it resonates far more deeply…. I find it extremely difficult to understand why more folks do not work out of doors more often, but we see little evidence that folks make a regular effort to do so, at least where we have been, not our place to judge others, merely an observation..…

Then to top all of this we can add in the symbolism of the Ritual year – Samhain / All Hallows / the Darkening Tide – and you add in another whole dimension as to why this time of year means so much to me… For me it feels like the need of the living to acknowledge the dead is a strong one, something that despite our Christian culture has survived to this day, in both form and in terms of actions that are traditional to the time of year. It was not for nothing that the early Church chose to celebrate All Hallows at this time of year, and the fact that Halloween remains so popular speaks to me of the societal need to acknowledge something bigger than ourselves, almost a race memory of the need at this time to pay our respects to those who have passed over….

I am aware that many feel that Halloween is an imported festival, celebrated in ways that may seem excessive to the more reserved British culture, possibly even thought to be imported in wholesale from America, and yet its roots originate here, within many of the European cultures that were transported to the States. If we then also take into account Bonfire Night and Remembrance Day being at this time of year then a broader picture of the symbolism becomes apparent… Bonfire night – the commemoration of what we would now consider an act of domestic terrorism by blowing up the Houses of Parliament – is strangely celebrated with fires and effigies being burnt and in ‘companie’, although most people certainly do not understand it there is something more primal that drives us to mark this time of year in this manner, the earlier Samhain fires have merely been transposed to mark something else a few days later, something that perhaps was less likely to upset the church…

The timing of Remembrance Day on the 11th November is also interesting, although its date was set by the day that the guns fell silent in 1918 I find it interesting that the older day for celebrating All Hallows / Samhain falls upon the same day – coincidence or something else, only you can decide for yourself…. In 1752 we adopted the Gregorian calendar, which resulted in us loosing 11 days from the year, this was done in order to re-synchronise the clocks and seasons, hence there are groups whose Rites are still held at the time of Old All Hallows instead of at Samhain, a poignant and beautiful synchronicity that is not lost on those who mark their Rites on this date….

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I have always personally felt a need to connect to the Ancestors, to acknowledge and honour them, not only at specific times of the year, but also as a main focus of our practices throughout the Ritual Year and it remains a major part of our praxis and ethos within the Hearth of Albion. Without the Ancestors we would not exist, and unlike many Deities – in whose eyes we are mere gadfly that are irrelevant – the Ancestors have a vested interest in aiding us, they wish to see us survive and thrive. We inherit our Honour from our Ancestors, along with our Culture, and it is our duty to safeguard it for the next generation, to uphold it and to retain the practices and Lore of our culture, to preserve it for the future, not as some dusty dry historical anecdote, but as a vital force that informs our lives and our actions….

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The honouring of the Ancestors is something that I found was missing within our first explorations within paganism, although instinctively it was something I felt had to be done it was not something most folks we encountered did on any sort of regular basis – except at Samhain. It wasn’t until we formed our own Hearth, with its own praxis that we actually found what fitted for us, looking not only at familial ancestry – the Beloved Dead or the Ancestors of the Flesh – but also at spiritual ancestry – the Ancestors of Blood – and then also at the cultural and historic Ancestors of this Land – the Ancestors of Bone. It is these 3 forms of Ancestors that we acknowledge within our Rites, and with whom we have had contact within the Hearth of Albion… The Ancestors of Flesh, of Blood and of Bone…

The contact with the Ancestors is something personal, it is individual, and everyone experiences it differently, some perceive it as physical, actually seeing them around the outside of the working area, some see one, some see many, others feel or intuit their presence, and others only find them through journeying, all forms of contact are valid, and what messages are transmitted – if any – are for the individual to understand for themselves…

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Each of our Rites includes a Houzle, a sharing of blessed food and drink – normally mead or ale in a drinking horn and bread in a Quaich – with the Ancestors and Gods, we follow a form that works for us and shares the inherent energy and virtue of the offerings as a blessing with one another and with the Ancestors, akin to the ‘Cakes and Ale’ that has become a part of modern W/wicca, but something that for us goes deeper, it precedes any Feast, and is something separate, not to ground the individual – which is what the feasting allows – but actually something that elevates the spirit and brings the reality of the contact with the Ancestors to the fore of our awareness, both Rite and thank you in itself…

‘Tapping the Bone’ – seeking knowledge from the Ancestral Stream is something that we also regularly undertake, making contact with the Ancestors is something that anyone can do – if they are prepared to go out and do the work. It provides a grounding knowledge of whom we are, it provides a base structure to build upon that is both rooted in the cultural and historic facets of our physical and psychological make-up but also allows us to tap into the Lore and wisdom of ages gone past, from those who have a vested interest in our survival and growth. It is not difficult, it does not require masses of tools and long complicated rituals, instead it takes time, stillness and focus, perhaps the use of a drum – a funeral beat is often a good way to call forth those who have passed over – some incense and some quiet time to commune, a skull can be used to invite the spirits into if you feel it necessary….

It is these praxis that form the basis of our All Hallows Rites, a chance to go out, to experience what IS, to share Companie with kith and kin from both sides of the veil, to acknowledge those who came before and to seek what messages they may have for us, to work a Rite from the heart based not on scripted words but on individual thoughts, feelings and emotions, to once again greet our ‘Beloved Dead’ and partake of something else, a sharing of something beyond the mundane, something beyond the logical, something experiential, spiritual and emotional, something ‘Other’ that engages every fibre of your being, not rational, tinged with madness perhaps, but something real beyond all else….

I wish you all of the Blessings of the Darkening Tide, and that your All Hallows / Samhain Rites have given you all you need, may your Ancestors always be honoured and may you live a life they would be proud of…

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Breacca of Albion

Rituals

Arbour Low Full Moon – July 2018

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Members of the Hearth – plus Friends – spent the evening of the July Full Moon – at Arbour Low Stone Circle in the Peak District, arriving before sunset and staying until about 11pm. This was repeated in September with even more friends joining us to spend an evening in Companie.

On both occasions the weather was surprisingly good – little if no wind and clear skies – and although the temperature dipped to 3C on the 2nd occasion all were prepared and had the correct kit with them to make it a reasonably comfortable time.

 

 

Rituals

Midsummer 2018

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Once again members of the Hearth along with Friends spent the night of Midsummer Eve at our normal working site, most in Anglo Saxon / Norse clothing – which was surprisingly warm and comfortable – and accompanied by a fire – contained in a cauldron to prevent any damage or possibility of fire spreading in the dry woodland.

The night was spent in Companie, in friendship, with laughter, time to commune, time to drum and gaze into the fire and to watch what was happening outside, before we then moved to the vantage point to watch the Sun rise.

There were others in the woods, enjoying the time in their own way, room for all to do what was needed, and we were rewarded with sunrise as the clouds parted right at dawn, a beautiful morning indeed.

All Hallows, Rituals, Samhain

An Interesting Journey – A Descent into the Underworld, a Boatride across the River Styx and a rebirth….

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Today I was shown the depth of regard that some of my friends hold me in, good folks who came together and delivered something unique and special that I now know was a year in the planning, delayed by a friends illness and finally completed a few weeks after my 50th Birthday and between the dates of Samhain and the older – Julian calendrical – dates for All Hallows, definitely the right time for this particular journey… No mention of what was planned was made to me, and the only clue I had, a scant week in advance, was that I needed to keep this Sunday free… not until the Saturday evening was I told anything else, and that was nothing more than I needed to be at the Engine Vein gate for 1pm the next day, in caving gear, and that was all I was told, no clue about what awaited, making it all the more special….

I was then presented with an opportunity to physically take a journey I have taken spiritually many times, to cross the Styx in the company of Chiron, the ferryman, aboard his boat and then to travel through the underworld, meeting some of its denizens before a rebirth and return to the land above, akin to what I know was used by some of the other Traditional Witches that have used the Edge…

As I already said, I was given instruction to arrive – clad in caving gear and wellies and with several coins – by the gate of Engine Vein mine on Alderley Edge for 1pm, and to then to follow exactly the directions I was to be given! On stepping through the gate I was met by the figure of Death, complete with scythe, who bid me come forward, and then gave me a card that said ‘Tempus Est – It is time’…. Death then motioned to the mine entrance, and opened the door to the mine, closing and locking the door behind me with a finality that had some serious symbolism….

In front of me the downward shaft was lit by tealights every 10’ or so, the atmosphere was warm and humid, dark and silent, as one would expect from the entrance to the Underworld…

Death then handed me the next card ‘Mors non Loquitor – Death does not speak’, followed by another card that said ‘Omnia Terminus Tum Incipit – Everything ends, then begins’, and then finally ‘Hac iter ext tibi – This Journey is Yours’!

I was then bid to move forwards, which I did, with death following me, I was painfully aware of his scythe, down, through twisted tunnels that descended ever deeper towards hades, lit by candles to lead us onwards until we arrived at the deeper shaft, and the ladders that led down… We descended, 5 or 6 ladders until we reached the bottom of the mine 300+ feet below where we had entered. Faced with one tunnel, and a choice of 2 directions, one blocked by mine wagon and 3 candles, the other direction lit by candles disappearing into the distance, so turn to the left and follow the tunnel…

About a quarter of a mile forwards and the tunnel is filled with water, my way forward blocked, yet a light is coming from across the water filled tunnel, as I stand there the light moves towards me, revealing a boat, paddled by a tall and thin figure dressed all in black, his face not visible, as though not there at all… As he nears Death hands me the last card, ‘Memento Mori – Tel: 0800 Don’tcalluswe’llcallyou’ and then ushers me towards the boat.

The Ferryman stands and bids me to come forwards to the boat, which is lit by a candle in a jar at each end and nothing more, Chiron holds out his gaunt skeletal hand and asks for payment, 3 coins – old 1940’s tuppenny pieces that are no longer legal tender – are passed over, one for each eye and one for the mouth, and once paid I was bid to take my seat in the back of the boat….

Chiron pushed us off and paddled us in silence, an eerie red light from his lamp and the 2 candles at stern and prow the only illumination, we moved swiftly forwards, through caverns and tunnels, over water as clear as crystal, further and further into the stygian total darkness for about 10 minutes, occasionally I had to duck under some of the low roof, sometimes we were drenched by water tumbling or dripping from the roof and occasionally our direction changed, skilfully managed by the Boatman.

After a while some candles became visible, and the boat docked, a scaffolding board made a makeshift berth and I was bidden to climb out, 4 candles illuminated a blanket that lay on a raised area, a funerary platform and Chiron indicated I was at my destination, the Boatman then paddled the boat away, soon becoming lost to me in the tunnels. I lay down, finding a comfortable spot and closed my eyes. The light was distracting, so I extinguished all 4 of the candles and lay there in the total darkness, the only sounds that of my breathing and of water dripping and falling into the Styx.

I lay there as one dead, my mind stilled, visions and thoughts formed and came forth, a conversation occurred, personal experience was had of a sort I cannot share, but that had deep meaning…. I lay there as one dead for what felt like a few minutes, but I am told was actually 20 minutes plus, strange what sensory deprivation does to the mind…

Then from the darkness, as though from a great distance, a deep voice quietly called my name, then again, slightly louder, I responded, asking who calls me, to be told to ‘Move towards the light’, looking around I saw a dim glow to my left, away from the water, and so I climbed up the slippery and muddy slope towards where the glow was coming from.

Up a short 6’ ladder and move forwards, the light growing stronger, and then a log at waist height baring my way, look over the top to find a dirty wooden ramp, inclined at about 45 degrees downwards… The light was beyond the ramp, which ended with an opening about 3’ from the floor, stepping over and sitting down I slid on the mud down the ramp and emerged into a new tunnel, candles lighting the tunnel ahead and a black clad figure before me, long black hair, a short gnarly frame and a face hidden by veil, no words were spoken, but I was ushered to move forwards from the past and along the muddy and wet tunnel.

Onwards, ever onwards I moved, the tunnel changing from lofty chambers 20’ tall and wide to low enough to bend me double, the floor uneven and often filled with water up to 8” deep, illuminated by candles with candles every 30 or 40 feet – I had my caving helmet and lamp with me, but chose not to use the light when I could manage without it. About a quarter of a mile and another figure, clad in black, long black robes and long black hair underneath a black veil, again ushering me forwards, from present into the future and further along the tunnel…

Again another quarter of a mile, the gap between the candles getting longer and the way more perilous with every step taken, then the third and final figure, short, powerful, masked, ushering me forwards this time into a tunnel that was dark ahead, into the future…. Perhaps the 3 figures were 3 of my friends, or perhaps they were the Nornir, the Fates of Norse mythology, or perhaps 3 faces of the darker Goddess… It matter not, what matters is the effect it had upon my psyche, the experience was all encompassing…

The lay of the tunnel, with the fault line to my left ascending at a 70 degree angle to meet the roof, which is horizontal and meets the other side which descends at 80 degrees, making a triangle and shows some of the geology, which has meaning to some of the Lore, the polished face of the fault smooth to touch like the scales of a serpent….

Finally a ladder ahead, time to climb up, forwards and at last a place I am familiar with, a chance to move forwards and climb higher, to leave the realm of Hades and climb back up to the light, after 2 hours plus of descent and journeying throughout the Underworld.

Eventually I make it into ‘Sand Cavern’, one of the caverns within Wood Mine, in making the journey I have travelled about 2 ½ miles underground, moving from one side of the Edge to the other while underground, here I wait, as without keys I cannot exit the mine, and after a short while I hear the sounds of folks moving in my direction, I stand there with my lights out and watch as their lights come closer, and Lee, Bill and Tina approach, beaming smiles at what they had arranged for me to experience! We adjourn to ‘Birthday Party’ chamber to await Dave and Ally who had the keys and were travelling overground to the Wood Mine entrance to join us.

An impromptu picnic, a dram of Laphroaig and a chance to talk, it seems this had been planned by these 6 plus another 2 friends, but was shelved while Bill was ill, and this is the first opportunity since his recovery to undertake the experience. There was other parts to the Rite, but unfortunately 2 of those who were to be involved were unable to make it, so it was left to me to experience and understand those parts for myself…

Dave and Ally joined us, we ate, then exited via the Wood Mine exit – into the low sun almost as if a new dawn – a symbolic rebirth, perhaps I have been reborn as a Crone now I am 50, or perhaps it is nothing more than a frame of mind – and then we made our way back to the caving club headquarters, the old surgery, where a fire was lit and we relaxed, 3 hours after entering the mines.

What a day, I will ache tomorrow, but I have been granted a unique experience, something with deep personal meaning and that has gifted me with real life physical experience that can be brought to bear in the spiritual parts of my life, I now have memories and images, feelings and experience of events that previously I did not, definitely a priceless gift, and something I am immensely honoured to have experienced…

Many thanks to all involved, you all are absolute stars for arranging and facilitating today, I cannot thank you enough!

Breacca of Albion

Rituals

Summer Solstice 2016 – Personal Rites

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For the first time in 3 Years the HoA were unable to undertake a Summer Solstice Roadtrip together, 2 of the Founders were away on holiday, 1 Initiate was busy and the remaining Dedicant was working and could not spend the night out in the woods, so it was decided to mark the day as individuals and couples, with Personal Observances, each of us would do something with personal meaning to mark the Solstice, the Full Moon and the feast of St John.

For Uhtred and myself (Breacca) the choice was simple, as we are on holiday this week we decided to head to our normal working area, and to work a series of Rituals and then spend the night in the woods and watch the sunrise. Given the fact that it was not a full Hearth Rite it meant we could invite some ‘Friends of the Hearth’ along, so 4 of us set off into the woods to work the night, to be met by another who was joining us for the Sunrise Observation at 440am the following morning.

The Rites were observed in a quiet sheltered place, atop a rock outcrop, an Altar set up to honour the Ancestors, horseshoes and candles set to mark the boundaries of the working area, and then Rites completed to bring balance and honour the tides of the season. In the spirit of sharing we have taken the opportunity to include the Rites celebrated below, these are without specifics or certain Oathbound parts – such as how we cast and the basics of our praxis – but perhaps they will inspire others and provide some insight and food for thought.

Full Moon Rite – St Johns Eve Rite

Uhtred – And so the year turns….

Breacca – It is both Full Moon and Solstice, The Moon is known as Strawberry in the Native American Tradition, but here in the UK it is also known as the Oak Moon, for this time of Year is the time of Duir of the Ogham, Oak, the doorway and the Fire, both also associated with the Feast of St John.

Male Friend of HoA – Our Ancestors converted from paganism to Christianity, for they had no real choice, but their beliefs and practices were not all forgotten, they were not lost, many were taken by the Church and cleansed of their pagan associations and given new names, Solstice and its accompanying festivities and Rites became the Feast of St John the Baptist.

Female Friend of HoA – A festival to mark the ‘doorway’, the one who herald’s the coming of the ‘Light’ at Yule, so six months before Christ’s Mass was set aside to mark the Feast of St John.

Breacca – So, St John was the Holly King, and Jesus took over from the Oak King in many ways, this is wisdom, truth is truth and always ever will be.

Uhtred – Tonight we re-enact the Oak and Holly King Cycle for Midsummer, but first we mark the Full Oak Moon with a blessing, a Blessing of Duir, of Oak.

Breacca – Like the Acorn, May you grow to fulfil your potential!

Uhtred – Like the Oak, May your roots run deep and strong!

Female Friend of HoA – Like the Oak, May you stand tall and strong for what you believe.

Male Friend of HoA – Like the Oak, May you protect those who need to be protected.

Breacca – Like the Oak, May you grow in wisdom and peace.

All – May the Blessings of Duir, of the Dryads and Druids be with us all this Midsummer Night!

This Be Our Will, So Mote it Be!

Midsummer Ritual – Alderley Edge 20/6/2016

(HK = Holly King = Uhtred OK = Oak King =Male Friend of HoA)

Breacca- And so the year turns….

The light times are upon us, the land lies bountiful all around, as lush, green and myriad life springs from it. Greenery, bounty aplenty is available to succour and nourish all.

Female Friend of HoA – Our ancestors appeared to have things easy at this time of year, and yet, hard work was needed in order to harvest and preserve the bounty in order to see them through the leaner times that were ahead.

Breacca – And yet even at this time, when the Earth provides bounty beyond measure and clement weather there is fear. There is a glimmer, a glimmer of something dread to come. Two figures meet in an ancient forest.

Female Friend of HoA – One is of light, one of darkness. One of warmth, one of cold.

Breacca – One of Oak one of Holly. Let us draw near now and hear their words.

HK – Hail to thee brother, blessings be upon you. I come now to this sacred spot, to pay homage to you, but also to tell you it is time for me to claim what is rightfully mine, I come to take my place, my throne and my crown from you.

OK – My crown and my throne? Why should I give them when all around is alive with my bounty? Why should I give them up when the land lies in light? Why should I give them up when all about me reflects the aspects of my rule? State now, Brother the wisdom of your actions and justify your demand.

HK – Indeed brother, you are right and wise about many things. You have ruled the land since the shortest day and long days of light have now come. It has spread across the land with warm embrace. The sap has risen and life has awoken the land and covered it in a blanket of greenery. Harvests have been set and nature’s bounty is growing to provide the coming harvest and it will nurture the land and its animals through the coming cold winter. Now the world lives, but what lives must sleep and wither.

OK – But why must it sleep?

HK – For I will bring the death of the sun and the touch of ice shall slowly come back to the world. The seeds shall be harvested, the shoots shall die back, the roots shall sleep and the leaves turn to gold and drop. The old will wither and die and the Dark Mother shall nurture then in her bosom. Life shall once again depart and Winter Rule with its endless cold, for there cannot be light without darkness. There cannot be heat without cold and there cannot be a thaw without a freeze.

OK – You speak wisely brother and you answer my questions correctly. We are of one blood and we rule the World together, for as goodness is harvested from the soil under my rule it shall be returned again under yours. The Stag will be hunted and shall die when you take your place, its flesh and blood nourishing those who live on the land, and yet, when I return it shall grow again to adulthood in my kingdom, once more to reign the Forests. Time shall continue.

Therefore I shall return my crown to you my brother. May you rule well and wisely, bring your darkness and your cold to the earth this Litha time and share amongst all those that live the harvest before the cold embrace once more provides the challenge that proves we still live.

But do not forget me. For as your power reaches its zenith then I shall return, for time itself is circular and the circle never ends. Farewell brother, I sleep now. My crown is now your crown. Rule well King of the Holly. – OK gives HK the crown

Breacca – And so the Lord of Light gives up his place to the King of Darkness. The world shall bear fruit and then life shall return to sleep once more. On this night we shall mark the passing of the Oak King and we celebrate the crowning of the Holly King. Long may he reign!

Female Friend of HoA – Long Live the King of the Oak, Long Live the Holly King, All Hail the Holly King!

Breacca – And so the year turns…. Onwards, Ever Onwards!

The Houzzle

Breacca – For our Ancestors, our Gods, and Ourselves, we do this

Uhtred – Here is bread, flesh of the Earth, blessed to give us life and strength. I consecrate it in the name of the Old Ones – I take its life and give it to Them

Breacca – Here is wine, blood of the Earth, blessed to give us joy and abundance. I consecrate it in the name of the Old Ones – I take its life and give it to Them.

I drink this cup in my Lady’s name: She shall gather me home again – May Ye Never Thirst!

Pass Around the Group – each says the words

Uhtred – I eat this bread in the unknown name, for fear and care, and want of Him. – May Ye Never Hunger!

Pass Around the Group – each says the words

Uhtred – As some is taken, so is this given (Reserve some bread and wine to offer) by the sons and daughters of the family of the Old Faith.

Breacca – I give it to the Old Ones

That above and below will become one.

For what is taken is truly given,

And what is given is truly taken.

The day and night are wed

As the living and the dead.

Here is shown a Mystery

Uhtred – Remember what you have experienced here, you have paid honour and have been honoured by partaking in this Rite.

Following these Rites time was spent talking, sharing experiences and building friendship, drums were brought out and alignment and energy raised for individual uses, relaxation, healing, wishes for the coming darker half of the year talked about, shared and workings completed as required. Others were abroad in the woods, both corporeal and spirit in form, the mortal were left to do as they needed, the Spirits were invited in….. Once we all felt it time to move on we decast, packed up and then made our way back up the hill to another point and spent some time in meditation, then within the normal area we use for Ritual more drumming was completed, for one who felt the need of it, 3 drummed with one in the centre, gathering what was needed, then, with Ancestors surrounding us and visions coming forth meditation and personal time was given.

With the sky then beginning to lighten we took the Ritual gear back to the cars and dropped it off, made a coffee and then made our way back to the vantage point for the Sunrise! The Rite below was performed, the Sunrise heralded with 3 blasts on the HoA Horn, and then toasts given, photos taken and a special time shared with one another and a 6th friend who showed up just in time for the Rite!

Solstice Sunrise Ritual 2016

Breacca – And once more the wheel doth turn…..

Uhtred – The shortest night is over, from this point the Sun wanes towards midwinter, although we celebrate the beginning of Summer, it is only a short season, make the most of its bounty!

2nd Female Friend of the HoA – The Fruitful half of the Year is now upon us, the Elements nourish the crops and bring them to fruition, Earth provides the nutrients, Water enables their growth, Fire provides the heat and light that they use to store their energy, Air allows breathe and prevents the other elements from overwhelming and damaging the crops.

Male Friend of the HoA – And Spirit moves them all, guiding them to provide their bounty for all, what is taken is truly given, and what is given is truly taken.

Female Friend of the HoA – We four gathered here do mark this day, with friends present and past, with those close and those who are farther away, we chose to be here at this time and on this day, to honour who we are, what we are and our place within the world.

Uhtred – Not for ego, nor for pride, but in service of all, to do the bidding of the Powers that Be.

2nd Female Friend of the HoA – To follow our hearts and walk our paths to where they need to take us, onwards ever onwards….

Male Friend of the HoA – For that is the way of things and of life, continue to strive, learn and grow, or stagnate wither and die, the choices are ours to make.

Breacca – Wisdom comes from knowledge commuted by experience, without taking the steps forwards wisdom cannot be earned, Gnosis only comes to they who dare.

Uhtred – By honouring the Old Ones, the Gods and Ancestors

2nd Female Friend of the HoA – By being true to whom we are

Male Friend of the HoA – By following the Path that beckons onwards

Breacca – There do we find our Wyrd and understand the Fate that the Norns have woven for us…. Only in understanding it can we work to overcome it!

Uhtred – So, a Toast! To those who came before and those who have yet to come,

2nd Female Friend of the HoA – To those we know and those we have yet to meet,

Male Friend of the HoA – For Old friends long departed and New Friends well met,

Female Friend of the HoA – For the Old Ones, the Ancestors and our Gods,

All – Flags, Flax, Fodder and Frig!

Coffee and Bacon butties were then shared, cooked on a camping stove, the very food of the Gods shared that morning! All then departed, no evidence left of what was done, after all, ‘None need know what happened here!’

Whether you celebrated the Solstice, or other any other Observances, however you celebrated, alone or in Companie, in the safety of your own space or at a wilder place, we wish you good fortune and Solstice Tide Blessings, may the coming darker half of the year bring the Harvests that you deserve!

Breacca Aranwen of Albion

Summer Solstice 2016

Musings, Rituals

May into June 2016 – Observations and Workings

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Observations – May into June 2016

The start of May, with the Hawthorn blossom as stunning as I have ever seen it, frothy white flowers coating the hedgerows to such a degree that it looked as though someone had dusted them in icing, brilliant white flowers beyond anything I have ever seen, was interesting, again the energies of this tide were strong for those who can feel, the sexual energy, nay frenzy, of the May immense in both breadth and scope, an interesting time to be connected for sure!

Now, the May flowers are fading, the brilliant white is deepening to a dusky pink, the range of colours from a first blush of rose tint to almost a vivid pink, depending where in the UK you are the flowers of the Hawthorn may now have gone over, or may still be around, but they are also now joined by the Elder and the Rowan in the hedgerow, both again displaying blossoms beyond what I recall of previous years, or is it that my memory is dimmed by times passage, or my understanding and current experience is this year somehow heightened, who can truly say?While driving this week for work it was to note that the wild flowers, the ox eye daisy, buttercup, cow parsley, yarrow, and many more too numerous to mention had now come into their own, the risk of frost seems past, the late spring is passing into summer with heat and sunshine all around. The land has moved from barren to fruitful, the transition easily and naturally made, and yet it will not last, there is a small opportunity, a small window when the life around us can reproduce before the next cycle of barrenness begins, only 19 weeks away!If we were less secure in our own understanding, more primitive in our knowing – not less intelligent, but less knowing all the scientific data, and certainly not less civilised, for primitive man was equally as civilised as are we – perhaps more so as they did not pollute their own living area, or live in a manner beyond the ability of the land to sustain them – then perhaps we would know that the season is brought about by certain signs, the snowdrops herald the daffodils, which herald the bluebells, which herald the blackthorn, which heralds the Hawthorn, which heralds the Elder and Rowan and the wild flowers of the meadow, beauty abounds, each in its place, and ‘caused’ by its predecessor? Who can say, but alas, we live in a less poetic age, one where hard fact and science are considered more important than the rounded development of the individual, which needs to include nurture, nature and creativity as well as productivity for the society or job that we find ourselves in slavery to! But again, I digress, apologies!

Hearth Workings – May into June 2016

The Hearth has been busy this past month, the 2015 Beltane Students have now completed their training, and one has successfully passed Initiation, the other will be given their chance in the near future, when the individual feels they are ready.

Not much can be said of the Rite, as it has to be kept secure in order to enable the individual to experience it for themselves, suffice to say it is no easy test, a night time Ritual Journey through the woods, with challenges and tests along the way, the Dedicant relying on their Wit and Connection to pass forwards at each stage, truly something Other, Initiation is not done by we mere mortals, it is instigated by the Rite, but it is the Old Ones, the Ancestors, the Land Wights and Guardians and the Gods who determine the success and whether the individual has passed through or not.

Now, with the lighter evenings of the approaching midsummer it becomes harder to frequent the woods at night, too many others are abroad in the warm twilight, too many others who perhaps would not welcome our presence were they to understand what it is we do, now is a time for caution, to retreat to where we cannot be found or discovered, not within our man made homes, but to other more hidden natural places, further afield and secret places, where none know what happens. Those who have access to such places are fortunate, only this year has access to a place used by those who came before been granted, a place of power and hidden and locked away from those who would use it for ill, only through doing the works, through showing our intent, focus and commitment has this place been made available to us of the Hearth, and yet, we are honoured beyond measure to be able to use it ourselves. I can say no more, but it is mightily lucky that we are!

Breaca of Albion

Musings, Rituals

March 2016 Hearth Activities – Professor Ronald Hutton’s Talk – Spring Equinox – A Picnic with friends 19th March 2016 – and Full Moon Rite – Personal Observance – Wednesday 23rd March 2016 -To date

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Once more I am playing catch up with writing up our recent activities, yet again it has been another busy month for those of the Hearth of Albion. We do not bemoan our lot, nor complain about the work, time and commitment we do, it is both our honour and privilege to be in a position to share our Path with those who walk in a similar way.

The month started with an interesting weekend, with a talk given by Professor Ronald Hutton in Jodrell Bank, attended by some of the Hearth and extra validity given to some of our working ways in terms of the talk subject – Britain’s Pagan Heritage, not only in terms of our working with all of those who have been here – Ancestors and Deities that have been worshipped here – but also in terms of his advice to take what is known, research the evidence, then experience it for yourself and make your own mind up, again akin to our Evidential and Personal ways of working, an enjoyable talk. The following day a trip was made to John Ryland’s Library in Manchester to attend the Demonology and Witchcraft exhibit, interesting but smaller than anticipated.

In terms of the remaining trainees, they are nearing the ¾ mark of their Year and a Day Training and the training is moving forwards apace, fortnightly training sessions moving into the deeper aspects of the course and with more detail and personal experience and ritual are now the norm, each lasting longer than the last.

For the weekend of the Spring Equinox, 3 of the Hearth celebrated with a picnic with friends from the Hearth of the Turning Wheel in Elvaston, where games and friendship were shared in an interesting setting before attendance at an open Rite was experienced. Daniel B Griffiths Excellent Chattering Magpie Blog has further details at – http://chatteringmagpie-summonerofthehearth.blogspot.co.uk/…

The March Full Moon was observed by all of the Hearth with Personal Observance, Uhtred and I found ourselves with an unexpected opportunity to attend our normal working site and to celebrate their together, on arrival the night was dark, but on entering the woodlands the Moon came out and illuminated the night while we were in the woods.

We took our normal route in, past Crossroads, Smithy and to the Gates… stopping to make offerings to those who we have known in those places before moving on to the Circle Site.

A small wait while 2 Mountain Bikers rode through the woods – missing our position by 50 metres – before setting up our Altar and calling forth those whom we work with and honouring the time of year, the Full Moon and the Ancestors with Ritual, Blessing and Houzzle… Horns were blown and Drums were beaten………

After the Houzzle we packed up and returned home, the journey back unremarkable apart from the Moon going behind cloud within 5 minutes of us leaving the woods, but what felt like half an hour in the woods to us was 2 hours of mundane time……. As always, ‘None need know what happens here!’

This weekend was further Training, and a planned Roadtrip, but while reading the runes last night the message was given not to go… and although today dawned bright it was marked by gales, heavy showers and thunder… along with sickness to one of the students, who was taken home early… sometimes it pays to listen to what the Runes can tell us.

Tomorrow most of the hearth are working, but now the clocks have sprung forwards and we have lighter nights we – Uhtred and I – may get a chance to go for a walk to a Site we want to revisit, in order to make up for today’s lack of Roadtrip…

Breacca of Albion

Rituals

Rowan Moon Rite – 23rd January 2016

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It often seems that the most memorable and enjoyable Rites are those where you have to set yourself against adversity in order to actually bring the Rite to fruition. Last night’s Full Moon Rite was one of those times, and a memorable night it was.

The day had been unseasonably warm and dry, but as we started our afternoon training session the skies opened and torrential rain ensued for several hours, the wind picked up and the night looked to be one that would be challenging for practising a Rite out of doors, but once we commit to doing something, then we do it, come ‘hell or high water!’

After completing the training and sharing a meal together the gear was packed into the 2 cars and we set off to our normal working Site, driving through saturated countryside in the wind and rain. Arriving we parked up and got the gear out to find that although the wind was whipping the tops of the trees around that there was very little wind closer to the ground, the rain had stopped and the night was not only warmer than it appeared, but despite the clouds was actually very bright!

The paths within the woods were muddy, as you would expect from the hours of rain earlier in the day, but they were not impassable, and as we walked the normal route to the working site we did so without use of torches, something rarely possible in the darkness of the woods.

Arriving we set up, candles lit and then we tried something different, we used the normal words that we have become accustomed to, but we performed them in song, to the tune or ‘Undo your Mind’ by Eivor, it took longer than normal, but the sound was amazing, supplemented with digeridoo and hunting horn (we took drums but decided against taking them into the woods because of the dampness), the energy raised was different than normal, but a good different, something that carried more power than normal, but also something that perhaps we will reserve for ‘special’ rites.

Next the Rite itself was performed, a deeper call to the Goddess at Full Moon, and then a chance to journey deeper and meet with those who have gone before, connections made, Ancestors honoured, time for the individuals to find what they personally required, then 3 blasts on the hunting horn to call them back to the here and now. Finally a Houzzle to honour those who had honoured us with their attention. As the Rites came to an end we were then rewarded with the Full Moon becoming visible through the clouds, the Lady smiling down on us and on our endeavours!

Finally decast and leave, the woods were bright, warm, welcoming and full of power, our presence was noted, our intent was true and we worked as a group, each receiving from the Rite what they needed. The Guardians of the area were happy to see us back, and our thanks were of course given to them.
Pack back up into the cars and away, an interesting night and set of Rites, we did what was required, with passion and feeling, the visceral nature of the craft experienced once more and then we left, no evidence remaining, no wasting of time, no hanging around, do what is needed and leave, and of course, none need know what happened here!

 

Breacca of Albion