Stories are what makes the world go round; we all live on the stories that we’ve been told and the stories we’re being told. We couldn’t get up in the morning unless there was a narrative to show us the way, so much so that we can get quite upset when someone tells us a different story that doesn’t chime with “our own”. I put “our own” in inverted commas, because unless it comes from our shamanic ancestors, it is rarely actually “our own”. But Nature abhors a vacuum, and so in the absence of our own sagas, we will hungrily grab hold of any tall tale we’re given.
The further back in time we go, the more wisdom the stories, which our ancestors wrote in the stars, contain. That’s why I dig and dig and dig, looking for the indigenous teachings of those ancient ones whose Rivers of Blood run through our veins in the Bright World Above, and through the dark caverns of the Land Below in which those who came before us are buried, often in the very spot where they fell fighting to defend this sacred soil for future generations. Continue reading
Where do we go when all the stories fail?
All the stories are failing. Fewer and fewer want to go and sit in big, draughty buildings with high ceilings – no matter how beautifully fan-vaulted – to hear them anymore. The picture below shows the purpose-made wooden pews of the 12th century church of St John the Baptist in Glastonbury, Somerset. Last week, they went to auction to be sold off to the highest bidder.
To the Druids, long before Christianity, Christmas was about the Birth of the Faery Babe, or Radiant Child. This is the story that I see being played out what other people call the Glastonbury Zodiac on the Somerset Levels, a 10-mile wide circular landscape temple where the “stars have fallen to the Earth” to create 13 giant earthworks – as the map shows below:
Tonight, we enter the Winter Solstice in the sign of Capricorn. To me, this is such a beautiful time when there are unique energies at play from the “Christmas spirits” that can heal the emotional despair and suffering accrued during the previous thirteen moons, and send rejuvenation, fresh hope and inspiration for the coming turn of the calendrical Wheel.
In Earth alchemy and Arthurian legend, the longest night of midwinter, caused by the Sun reaching its furthest point away from the Earth and then returning three days later, on Christmas Day, is symbolised by the death of the Old Wounded Fisher King and the birth of the new King, otherwise known as the Radiant Child. This bursting forth into joyful and victorious rebirth was symbolised by alchemists as the Peacock’s Tail, for which, I think, the aurora borealis is the perfect sky metaphor.
Who was Merlin really? It’s a question I often get asked.
Well, we have to go back to the 12th century, when a school of scribes was appointed by the Norman conquest to win the hearts and minds of the unruly Celts, and they reinvented Merlin from an already-existing native, mythological shaman called Myrddin Wylt.
In the book I’m currently writing, Stories in the Land, I am describing the Mystery Rites in which I analyse William Blake’s poem “And did those feet in ancient times …” through an alchemical lens, and I reach a conclusion about its meaning which may surprise you.
Here is the relevant extract.
When she was just a young girl, my mother was the first to get to her dead father who had died of a heart attack in the outside loo, and had fallen against the door. Mum was the only one small enough to be able to crawl under the door and then, with her little arms, pull the dead weight of his body back so that the others could get to him. Shortly after that, she and her elder brother were outside chopping wood for the fire, and he accidentally managed to slice off the top of her index finger.
Insult was added to these traumatic injuries by the fact that her mother, my grandmother, was the sort who favoured and promoted the interests of her male offspring over her one daughter, who she would continually put down. Continue reading