Given recent events, this post has been a long time coming (literally, as Mercury retro has been playing havoc with comms and technology at this end of things!), and it carries a bitter sweet message, but, when the harvest is burned to stuble before its fruits have matured and been taken in its augery must be heeded…..
“….there were three men came out the west, their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn must die
They’ve plowed, they’ve sown, they’ve harrowed him in
They threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn is dead…..”
So, just what did happen this Lammas – seems the world is unravelling, and, the harvest has gone awry…..but, while the black dog tugs at the lose ends of our culture the old woman is stirring. And while the debates are sounding like an old cracked record, global tension shows in the lines drawn upon the face of the world and humanity is inexorably drawn further into the pressure zone of systemic breakdown. The cracks are showing, and the chasm widens when the bridges are burned…..a warning to all who would take sides; we are all in this together.
As EQs, volcanoes, extreme weather and Solar activity flare, we are seeing the emergence of Natural Law in confrontation with Human Law – the disparity between the two is being exposed – its the old wound.
We live in ‘Black Dog’ times, facing challenges that can both pitch us into depression, outward expressions of inner discontent and, ultimately, offer us a path of liberation and renewal. Such times can manifest both entropic collapse and creative growth, but, the ability and responsibility to access the latter depends very much on how we individually, & our leaders and governments, react to the former. The two go very much hand in hand, both in a material, psychological and spiritual sense. In fact, the whole matter of the health of our individual and collective soul is brought out at such times, and this is no romanticised notion – it is raw and visceral in the extreme.
The Black Dog
“They’ve let him lie for a very long time, ’til the rains from heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all
They’ve let him stand ’til midsummer’s day ’til he looked both pale and wan
And little Sir John’s grown a long long beard and so become a man”
What is our emerging predominant position in our changing world, and how is it expressed, in human terms? Where are we at? It does not look as though we’ve cottoned on yet and started re-weaving, but, the signs are that it won’t be long before we turn around and find the whole damn edifice has become a mass of chaotic threads on the cave floor; and, for all the grandiose promises and words we may hear over the coming weeks, months or years, the medicine blanket cannot be repaired and then we carry on ‘AS IF’. Where in Hell’s name are our leaders at!? No, don’t bother to answer……..and, do ‘they’ seriously expect us to believe that the Sun also shines……
If ‘We’ adopt the same position, well, do they, should we, expect everything will be alright…..and, what exactly is ‘Our’ position?
Is our position expressed in advances in science, in education or health and longevity, through democracy? Could it be economic breakdown, political unrest, human violence and oppression, through terrorism and war, abuse of the natural world and human rights, famine and fear? Does it have a more positive face, is it visible in the emergence of ‘people power’ und uprisings against the oppressors, are ‘We’ getting any closer to the manifestation of a movement towards ethical global unity, towards sustainable living and life-ways, through our enhanced communications and interconnectedness, are we really realising transformations of consciousness?
When the answer to the latter transcends the personal flowering head, and spreads a shimmer of beauty across ourcollective field, like poppies in the corn field, we will know – Lammas is the time of the cross quarter fire festival between the hay and the corn harvests, time for an augery before the harvest is brought in. Is it a far cry from the harvest, that we see the used and abused, the disowned and out of synch playing the reapers game…..
“They’ve hired men with their scythes so sharp to cut him off at the knee
They’ve rolled and tied him by the way, serving him most barbarously
They’ve hired men with their sharp pitchforks who’ve pricked him to the heart
And the loader has served him worse than that
For he’s bound him to the cart”
Time was when we knew how to bring this energy into the fold of community, to work with it for the greater good…..we once had rites of passage and initiations that helped the young find their place in the world, that vitally tempered the vital energy, that taught of Life and Death, and how Death was a responsibility of the living that was much a part of the learning process as the most ancient of our connections; breathing in the final breath of the Deer, honouring its gift and giving thanks, rubbing its blood into our hearts, its saliva into our joints, that we may be in communion, one energy, before taking Death back into the community to feed the living with its sacred flesh…….then we learned how to grow corn and the sacred balance shifted
Time was when the child’s path to adulthood was marked by a kind of respect and holding that allowed the young ones to taste their own capacity for manifesting and experiencing their direct relationship with Life and Death, in ways that nurtured a respect for both, ritual ways…..this is natural, where Natural Law and Human Law have an interwoven nature, like the warp and the weft of the medicine blanket, that weaves a pattern of Great Beauty, out of Great Mystery…..and creates a garment that can be worn as one’s own with pride, that shows to all to what, where, whom and how one belongs……oh my!, but we must weep surely, tears of grief, for the tattered garment of lies that we now offer to them…..the pattern it shows, the inner meaning it conveys, its allegiences, are those of Human Law at odds with Natural Law. Is it any wonder that the fierce energy of Natural Law gone riot is flooding our village with destructive energy, burning down our temples of consumerism, releasing a lava flow of disdain and dis-respect – whats to respect?!!!
It takes a village to raise a child, so what kind of village do we invite them to come live in? No need to answer this either……we all know.
“They wheeled him around and around a field ’til they came unto a pond
And there they’ve made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn
They’ve hired men with their crabtree sticks to cut him skin from bone
And the miller has served him worse than that
And ground him between two stones”
We watch for the signs in Nature, listen to the Earth speaking in Her bardic tongue and wonder as she calls to the stars…..
“Are the Blades of Teaching ready…….Are they forged anew in the smithy of the boiling clouds, thundering hammers and blinding shards of fire echoing across the Land……Do you come now, are you ready for the reaping…..”
The promise of the Cornucopia, the weaving of the Sacred Mother’s flowering heads into Her image…..rest on that note and breathe the ozone of the approaching storm….but, breathe deeply, so it fills your blood and carries the life-force to all parts of your body, and swearing an oath to Life would be better than swearing alliegence to a dieing culture, or swearing damnation on the young……
As I was writing this the song of John Barleycorn kept coming up and flooding my memory – I had intended a prayer, a poetic invocation, but, I did not expect this……and yet the other worlds, the ancestors, were insistent….”look again”…….it has many layers and possible meanings , and is loaded with potent symbolism, such that it fit with the times. So, Ioffer this old song for contemplation and post it as an oath song, for choices that matter now….
Originally, perhaps, and best known as a song of protest, for solidarity in the face of prohibition, the verses offered here are from in the English version, which feels relevant in its own way. Burns’ Gaelic version is worth reading for its raw lyricism, as sharp as a prick from the Thistle’s thorn, and celebrates the hardiness of the Gaelic spirit, especially in the face of the oppressor. Burns used the pseudonym John Barleycorn when he answered the prohibition laws in his ‘Address to the Scottish Distillers to the Right Honorable William Pitt’, the British Prime Minister at the time. The English version has become more literalised, made to resonate with a different political flavour, steeped in its own magical traditions, but, the pertinent message remains the same. And, the essence is the stronger for maturing through time, like the spirits at the heart of the protest, and it reaches back to the roots of the agrarian revolution……it remains potent in spirit and celebrates the earthy realism of life lived on the land, where the people’s roots hold strong and connect them through the old ways with each other through the Land.
“And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and his nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
The huntsman he can’t hunt the fox nor so proudly blow his horn
And the tinker he can’t mend kettle or pots without little Barleycorn”
Times have changed and we prohibit the hunt and drive out the tinker, and John Barleycorn holds his own mirror up to us, his song become the rallying call to the bar and tavern – but, with more time and care it spins a different magic, bitter sweet and persistent, with a bite, like all the best distillations of spirit, a reminder of a past that yet has a relevance to us now. So, the song is sung and the oath is made in honour of the Ancestors who fought for their rights, for their land and who buried an undying spirit within its midst, in thanks for their persistence….
Those ancestors wove their paths across the oceans by means of star wisdom and the flow of the ocean tides, the knowledge of the winds, and brought with them the crafts of the smithy, the ship-wright and the navigator, and they too planted the precious seeds they carried in the belly of our fertile land. The song contains a ritual, hidden in the weave of its medicine blanket, that belongs to the full realisation of a strengthened spirit through the rites of passage – a ritual belonging as much to the Northern Isles as it does to the Southern Plains….
…..they met with ancestors of another line, who wove their paths through the forests by means of the Deer tracks and Owl call, who read the messages of bird and leaf, who carried the long memory of the hunter, the healer and the diviner – they all carried their Wheels, the sacred medicines that speak of the great circle of Life. Their Wheels held the the signs of their wisdom woven into their medicine blankets, by which they honoured the wise and kenning ways of Life common to us all. We can remember this, it is still ours.
When we and the Wheels come together we find the ritual comes alive, weaving the Fire, the Earth, the Oceans and the Winds around the axis of the Stars and the Soul…..weaving the Spirits of the Ancestors and their eternal Dreaming Fire of Vision and Continuity, the Spirits of Healing and Cleansing whose cool Waters offer Peace and Reconciliation, the crystalline Beings of Stone and Bone who hold our Stories and Remembering, the Nature Spirits who speak their Shape-shifter riddles of Change and Transformation, all centered and gathered together within and around, supported by, the Spirits of Earth whose Village Meeting Lodge opens its threshold to us all to join together, to be held within the Shelter of Community and share the gifts of Communion with Life, and teaches us of Who We Are…..
…..there are gifts for us all here, that we can still offer folk, should we care to – and we should, especially when youthfull vitality is drowned in the spirits in the bottle, has its roots severed by a culture of debt and greed, and is suffering our own short-comings…..but, we must remember the approaching Harvest, and ask what ‘We’ can bring into the ritual space that celebrates the circle dance of Life and Death, that will truly nourish us and keep us alive through the coming Winter…..wise now for us each and together to make our offerings to Earth as She offers her fruits to us, to weave the fruits of our labours into an image in Her likeness and through this bring the healing ways of Her Medicine Blanket into the Meeting Place at the Heart of our Village, would that we could remember the way…….
I want to make a toast, a prayer of thanks – to all of you who have come to this oft’times unpredictable (for me at least!) and peculiar meeting place over the last year – Yes! Owlmirror is one year old……my, how time flies when you’re having fun. So, to everyone who has visited, commented, ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ within this mad hut and spun our magic together – THANK YOU, BE BLESSED and SLAINTE!