New Lyric – Brighid

A couple of years ago, during an Imbolc ritual, I made a promise to Brighid that I would write a song for her. Last week I made good on that promise and I hope that

She is pleased with her song. I’ll be playing it at my forthcoming concerts over the next few weeks, so I hope you all like it too!

Brighid

(Verse 1)

There’s a tree by the well in the woods that’s covered in garlands,

Clooties and ribbons that drift in the cool morning air,

That’s where I met an old woman who came from a far land,

Holding a flame o’er the well, and singing a prayer.

(Chorus)

Goddess of fire, Goddess of healing,

Goddess of Spring, welcome again.

(Verse 2)

She told me she’d been a prisoner trapped in a mountain,

Taken by the Queen of Winter at Summer’s End,

But in her prison she heard a spell the people were chanting,

Three days of Summer, and snowdrops are flowering again.

(Verse 3)

She spoke of the Cell of the Oak where a fire is still burning,

Nineteen Priestesses tend the eternal flame,

Oh but of you, my Lady, we are still learning,

Brighid, Brigantia, the Goddess of Many Names.

(Bridge)

Then I caught her reflection in the mirrored well,

And looked deep into her face,

The old woman gone, a maiden now knelt in her place.

From my pocket I pulled a ribbon,

And in honour of her maidenhood,

I tied it there to the tree by the well in the wood.

(Chorus)

Goddess of fire, Goddess of healing,

Goddess of Spring, welcome again.

(copyright Damh the Bard 2011)

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Keeping the Mystery

snowdropsI’ve seen a lot of people recently talking about the need for proof, evidence and fact when related to Spiritual experience. There was something about this need for fact and evidence that was getting me down, and I just couldn’t put my finger on why. Then, whilst I was away on holiday I was reading a book that included the character Dion Fortune. The book was called The Chalice and was set in modern-day Glastonbury. It was a Glastonbury ghost story, and a great yarn to boot. In the book I found one of the characters feeling the same way as me, and he expressed it beautifully. He simply said, “Don’t destroy the mystery”. Simple.

See, to me, the Mystery is the Quest – be that for the Grail, the Awen, Faerie, Earth energies, it is The Quest. Would I REALLY want complete proof about UFOs? Nessie? Bigfoot? Ghosts? The Afterlife? …. Gods? If proof was found the Mystery would die, and it is The Mystery that has inspired poets, artists, musicians, songwriters, sculptors, writers, to create such wonders as to live up to its power. Yeats, Blake, the Classical Pagan Philosophers, Mozart, Shakespeare, Leonardo were all inspired by the Mystery. Although not in their league I understand the artist’s need for the Mystery.

If I want to experience the Mystery, I need to remain open to it, But when it feels like you are surrounded by the noise of people demanding proof, evidence, fact, it is easy to lose the Voice of the Mystery. It is delicate, like a fresh leaf in Spring that unfurls before the end of Winter’s Frosts. Preserve the Mystery, feel it, experience it, love it, but never set out to destroy it

Devotion

I’ve noticed something recently that has got me thinking (again).

I know of two well known teachers from the Pagan community who have recently converted to the Catholic Church. I’ve also been reading on the internet how some are upset with the lack of spiritual depth they see within the Pagan community. Where does this come from?

There are many reasons to be a Pagan in this modern age, not least of which is the companionship we find when celebrating the seasons together. We are able to do this, to gather together from all traditions. So what happens when someone wants to go deeper, much deeper. What happens if a Pagan wants to utterly devote themselves to their God or Goddess? In Christianity its accepted. There are many layers of devotion, from the Sunday Church attendee to the Monk who has turned their backs on modern life, to live in constant service. If a Pagan is called to turn their backs on modern society and devote their lives to, say, Ceridwen, how might that work for them?

Of course they can do it alone, but that is very lonely – some kind of companionship with others of like mind helps feed the soul, and is supportive. How many Pagans would think that this person had actually lost it, and gone a little loopy? If a good number of us are Pagans because we don’t want dogma and forced religious belief, what happens when that religious belief calls us, and the community has no benchmark from which to address it? How much is ‘belief’ a part of modern Paganism?

I think that is why some find themselves becoming dissatisfied, why some yearn for that depth, and discover that it can be very hard to find. I think it is there, but it is viewed with a lot of suspicion. Do we as a community need to open up to the idea of devotion? What would you do if your Pagan friend suddenly had a revelation and felt the need to utterly devote themselves to their Gods? Would you be skeptical? Might you want to keep your distance from them until they ‘got over it’? Or would you encourage them?

Inquiring minds need to know…

Land, Sky and Sea

photo200-stninianscave.jpgThe ancient Celtic peoples seemed to have revered three elements instead of the usual four found in the Western Magical tradition – these being Land, Sky and Sea. I’m sure that fire would have featured somewhere because we know that they also revered the Sun. But here’s a song that speaks of the Wild Places, and my connection to them.

The inspiration for this song came when me and my partner, Cerri, traveled to Dumfries and Galloway to do the Wickerman trail. We had a book that showed the locations used in the original film (not the remake!) and set off to find them. We found the Green Man pub where they filmed Gently Johnny and Willow’s Song, the ruined church, I almost cried when we found the remaining stumps of the burned Wickerman, still on that cliff edge over 30 years later! But is was the cave from which Rowan Morrison is revealed that was the real inspiration for this song.

It is called St Ninian’s Cave, and it’s a long walk from the car park. Through a beautiful Glen and down to the sea. It is said that St Ninian used to walk this very path down to the shore where he simply sat in this cave and listened to the sound of the sea. He said that here he felt closer to God, that he could hear his voice in the sounds of the waves. When we got to the beach I began to understand why.

There are certain places on this Earth where one can feel the presence of the Gods, and this is one of them. I thought about St Ninian, a simple man, searching for a spiritual connection, just like many Pagans. And I sat and listened for the voice, and it was there. It is said that all paths leads to the same Great Centre, and it mattered not to me that he heard this voice as his God, whilst to me it was the voice of the Spirit of Place, it in some way touched us both, and it was beautiful.

I have a great respect for some of those early Christians. The search for God/Great Spirit/Goddess in solitude and peace is something most Pagans can also relate to. I feel I am also on that quest.

Land, Sky and Sea
(Damh the Bard)

You are the rock, and you are the stone,
Rivers your blood, mountains your bone.
You are the Source, of all I’ll ever know,
Forever my Mother, forever my home.


(Chorus)
Oh this town is so cold,
Neon magicians they offer the fools their gold.
For there is somewhere I’d rather be,
In your wild places with the Land and the Sky and the Sea


Every step, follows those gone before,
Mystics and Saints, down to the shore,
Echoing waves, and the curlew’s cry,
I call out your name, I hear your reply.


Cynical thoughts, and lies that distort,
All that is true, all that is true,
They disappear, when I feel that you’re near,
When I’m with you, when I’m with you.