Archive | April 4, 2013

Poetry month – Oak, Ash, & Thorn

A Rudyard Kipling morning

A Tree Song

            (A. D. 1200)





Of all the trees that grow so fair,

  Old England to adorn,

Greater are none beneath the Sun,



Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,

  (All of a Midsummer morn!)

Surely we sing no little thing,



Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
  Or ever Aeneas began.
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,
  When Brut was an outlaw man.
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
  Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard-mould,
  He breedeth a mighty bow.
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
  And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
  And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
  To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
  Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
  That anyway trusts her shade:
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
  Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He will take no wrong when he lieth along
  ‘Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
  Or he would call it a sin;
But–we have been out in the woods all night,
  A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth-
  Good news for cattle and corn–
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
  With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
  (All of a Midsummer morn):
England shall bide ti11 Judgment Tide,
  By  Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Today’s reading

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Salmon Knight of Cups Salmon are sacred in most shamanic systems for many reasons, but their ability to swim upstream to their birthplace and spawn is one of the most remarkable. This journey leaves the salmon exhausted and most die in the attempt. Representing, therefore, self-sacrifice and wisdom, salmon were said to swim in pools overhung by hazel trees and to eat the nuts falling off in autumn. This card denotes someone whose life serves a greater purpose, someone with perseverance, determination, self-sacrificing and wise. Could have a tendency to martyrdom -to give away too much of one self.

Do we all think we’re elite and special?

I’ve received two criticisms of my posting about godspousery and veiling and I haven’t made up my mind about approving them but it showed me a few things. One is that they didn’t read the other two postings on my reasoning and they were just interested in showing how wrong I was and the other oddly enough reminded me of something that occasionally drives me bonkers about allegedly egalitarian pagans.

If we are so interested in being open to everybody and jump on people who point out things that disturb them why do they only glom onto the elitist versions of their reconstructions? Example from the second one was that she jumped on me saying that Roman women wore the palla and covered their hair. That’s correct as far as it went. Only higher class Roman women wore the palla which is a singularly annoying garment to wear. I ought to know I wore one for 4 years every time I competed at a Junior Classical League Convention. It was the upper class garment because you had a slave to do the things you couldn’t do because you were wearing the damn thing. And if she had really wanted to talk about Roman veiling she would have mentioned the suffibulum which was the veil the Vestal Virgins wore, also upper class women and the veil covered the face something most pagans won’t do. Veiling that just covers the hair is kind of a cop out. If you are going to veil do, do it right, cover your face.

But back to what I was pointing out. Why do we only ever reconstruct the pathways of the elite and well off? Most people who are doing those reconstructions would be peasant class and unable to read. Not as sexy a spiritual path? No matter what reconstruction you do you are probably recreating the path of the wealthy. Mostly because they’re the ones with access to the training and the materials to write something down, (everyone else would be too busy working) but we also take it as if a whole society would have behaved that way and that just isn’t true.

It rather reminds me of the past life fad that was in when I was becoming a pagan and every one was Cleopatra reincarnated and never her maid. I used to ask women that which Cleo they were 1-7?

I think it’s a symptom of something very wrong. That we all think we have to be special and can get it by reading a few books when it’s daily practice that will bring us to where we need to be and boasting you are special because you do such and such is kind of pointless. Yeah, maybe I’m an old foggie and have too much in common with the little boy in the Emperor’s New Clothes sometimes but there is no easy way to get where you are going. And you don’t have to accept every invitation to dance. Be discriminating. Study all the society you are interested in. Know that there is stink along with the perfume of any historical reconstruction.

For instance, with the Romans every family did have their own household gods in the Lars and Penates even slaves had them because we have found some of them but not every one could be a Vestal Virgin or a priest. We act as though there is only one class but Romans had very strict class designations and while you could work your way up it was not easy. You were either a citizen, a freedman or a slave.Forget doing that if you were a woman. A slave could be freed or could buy their freedom and become a freedman. If you did military service with the Roman Army you could work your way up through the ranks of the equites and was determined by the property you owned. The more property the higher the rank. I don’t see anyone practicing the religion of Roman slaves only the religion of the Patricians and Equites.

Same with the Greeks and even the Kemeticists. They are practicing the religion of the elite who could afford to have a tomb and therefore writing that chronicles of what they did. Not too many slave tombs with writing have been found. The Druids at least have nothing written down but still can be rather elitist. And who wants to be a practicing thrall as a Heathen?

What does that say about us as pagans? Do people even think about it? Maybe they should. Not everybody is or was a chief. Some of us are just plebes or peons. How about doing the everyday stuff? How about seeking the practice of an ordinary person. What would Cleopatra’s maid have done? What would Caesar’s body slave have done? What would Harald Blue Tooth’s thrall have done?