Music…makes the people…come together…

Sorry Madonna, please don’t sue me! I was reminded of this sentiment last night. I went to an amazing gig, with my other half and his eldest son. We saw In Flames who were outrageously good, Disturbed who were delightfully over the top and Avenged Sevenfold who are now in my top ten live bands list.

But it’s not the gig itself that I want to tell you about. In between Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold there was a gap of about half an hour, while the stage was set up and equipment was trollied about. During this pause music was piped through into the arena, and the final song before the headliners came on was Space Oddity by David Bowie. I tapped on Jim’s arm and smiled; this was one of our favourites, plus we still both felt the bitter sting of Bowie’s death last year.

In that moment that we shared between the two of us, we suddenly realised we were sharing something more. As one our heads swivelled around the arena. From nowhere, there were phones and lighters in the air, and hundreds of voices raised in unison:

“This is Ground Control to Major Tom!”

The entire arena had noticed what the background noise was, and was paying tribute, or at the very least sharing in a moment of grief and celebration. Tears rolled down my cheek as I watched a woman quietly sing along with her eyes closed, her arm around her companion for support.

A quiet, fragile moment that was somehow more poignant by being sandwiched between blast of fire, mosh pits and metal. Always missed; always noticed; mourners bound by music.

Friday Reads

Here is my ‘To Read’ or ‘To Read Again’ list for 2017.

A Mystic Guide to Cleansing and Clearing by David Salisbury. I’ve read this already but am looking forward to revisiting some of the chapters when I have a bit of a clear out at home.

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. I’ve decided to read all the Discworld books again. I never get tired of them. Still can’t believe he’s gone.

Pagan Portals: Irish Paganism by Morgan Daimler. With my passion for Irish Celtic spirituality, it’s bizarre that I haven’t read this volume yet, plus I love Morgan’s style of writing.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. A favourite topic by a favourite writer. Can’t ask for more.

A variety of Roald Dahl books with my six-year-old. How delightful it is when he asks if can read some of his book to me. I love that we have a shared joy in stories.

Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root by Melusine Draco. All about poisonous plants and their magical uses. Right up my street.

Merlin: Once and Future Wizard by Elen Sentier. I have read many books about Merlin and don’t plan to stop anytime soon! Can’t wait to read this one.

Ireland’s Birds: Myths, Legends and Folklore by Niall Mac Coitir. I’m researching bird folklore in order to create a volume of magical correspondences, and this book looks like a great source of Irish material.

What books are you looking forward to getting into in 2017?

 

Bacon in the Desert

Currently I’m researching bird related myths and legends, in an attempt to create a volume all about birds and their magical correspondences. This weekend, I had the strangest dream, undoubtedly inspired by my forays into feathered folklore.

I had been rooting in bins for eggs, but the eggs were all broken and even misshapen. I claimed one, smelling it to check it was not rotten despite the cracks and oozing albumen. Prize in hand, I wandered into the desert. Sand swirled in the air, and the desert floor was dotted with people sitting or squatting, eating their own foraged food.

In my hands I now had a plate with some bread and bacon on. My sorry little egg had vanished. I saw a corvid approaching, on wing. At first I thought it was a crow, but as it landed nearby, I realised it was a jackdaw. Bobbing its hooded head, it approached, and I held out a bit of bacon. The bird came closer and claimed the bacon. As it nibbled on the meaty snack, I gave it a scratch, and the bird seemed very content to sit by me and enjoy the attention.

A lady was watching us, and called over to me,

‘Would the jackdaw sit with us if you weren’t here?’

The jackdaw answered in perfect English, but I can’t recall the full answer, only that it loved me. As it ate, its head dipped forward and I noticed two additional eyes peeking through the ruffled feathers on its neck.

What a strange dream! When I awoke, I wrote it down immediately so as not to forget the detail, but it didn’t fade the way dreams tend to. If my research keeps inspiring night-time journeys like this, I may have a companion book of weird dreams to publish soon enough.

Epiphany

 

commiphora_myrrha_-_kohler-s_medizinal-pflanzen-019 Myrrh. Image public domain via Wikipedia.

Today is Epiphany; not Epithany, as the Daily Mail would insist (I’m not linking to their error as I don’t like to give them clicks!). It’s Twelfth Night, a Christian celebration of the wise men, magi or kings bringing their gifts to Jesus.

They didn’t gather around the manger as we often see in our children’s nativity plays, in fact Jesus was mostly likely two years old by the time these guys got here. There may have been three of them, but there could easily have been twelve, or more, or less. There is a general consensus that gifts were brought: the famous gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The symbolism of these gifts transcends specific religion. Gold is earthly goods, wealth and a sign of royalty; the perfect gift for the king of heaven on earth. Frankincense is used in many traditions as a purification incense, for cleansing and banishing negativity. It can be seen as a symbol of godliness and spiritual connection. Finally, the myrrh was both a medicine and a perfume; something rich and unusual, with numerous associations. The ancient Egyptians used the resin in embalming, so it could be argued that it is linked with the dead, completing a triad of symbols reflecting life’s journey: Earthly life, spiritual connection and death. However in the Middle East at the alleged time of Jesus’ birth, myrrh was used to anoint kings and high priests, so it is more likely that the myrrh was sent as an indication of the Magi’s knowledge of the youngster’s identity.

In the modern world, for Christians and more, Epiphany is the end of the festive season. Bam! It’s over people, back to work, take the decorations down and shove the tree back in the attic. It seems sad that even as Jesus was receiving precious metals, we are hiding our own shinies away. Still, there is the superstitious threat of bad luck should you fail to clear the Christmas clutter away, and that is more than enough for most people. Who wants to risk misfortune for the entirety of 2017? Much easier to take down the tinsel, even if we don’t really understand why we are doing it.

I’m not even going to rebel. I’m going to take my decorations down, but that’s because of my own little epiphany: I’m already getting ready for Imbolc. With presents still left to deliver to those friends and family I didn’t get to catch up with over the holidays, I am already planning ‘get-togethers’ around the start of February. I’m already delighting in the anticipation of snowdrops, and thinking of reviving the old Imbolc Chilli Cook Off, which was a standard at my old mentor’s house.

It’s great having a seasonal festival calendar, because putting the Christmas tree away just means your looking forward to the trees outside starting to bud. Boxing the baubles is making space for Brighid’s offerings. I’m taking down the beautifully written cards, but thinking of new words to share with my loved ones as spring takes its first, gasping breaths. It’s not here yet, nowhere near, but I can feel the tingle on the horizon of time. And I’m excited. That’s my epiphany. May you enjoy yours.

 

The first Pagan Pages of 2017

Winter-Snow-HD-Wallpaper

Merry Meet!

January’s Pagan Pages is live, with articles from Saoirse about life change, info from Shiron Eddy about the Crystal Flourite and Raushanna’s Tarot Talk, which covers the King of Swords.

My Notes from the Apothecary remains seasonal by talking about holly, and the origins of its midwinter connections.

I was also lucky enough to interview Barbara Meiklejohn-Free, so please click through to reas this fascinating conversation.

Sláinte!

Winter Solstice

At 10.44 tomorrow morning (UT) it will be the Winter Solstice. The moment when as a planet, we appear to pause and take a breath before moving back towards longer days and the promise of spring. It’s been a tough year, there’s no getting away from it. And the dark will still outweigh the light right up until the Spring Equinox. So grab hold of what you hold dear and pull it close. Make sure you verbalise your gratitude for that which makes you ‘you’. Embrace solitude. Embrace company. Toast the sunrise on the shortest day, and know that I will be raising a glass with you. Sláinte!