How the blog works

The poems on this blog are mostly written on the basis of my historical reading and are intended to be both educational and entertaining.
Recently I have also begun posting some of my work with Anglo-Saxon charms. This work is somewhat speculative and is conducted as an amateur researcher and keen Pagan historian.

Please feel free to use anything on this site as a resource if you think that it may be relevant to your needs.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Fairy Wood

In medieval times when people wore cod pieces and chastity belts.......

Would'st that I compare thee, to a wood elf,
Thine magic enchantments, to keep for myself.
Oh thou radiant ealfscyne, young wife man,
Thee doest please me, as only thee can.


Into the green wood, must I thee follow,
On the raunchy eve, of a lewd morrow.
Take the neverward part, of mine own thing,
Away into night and let's have a fling.


Come hither wench, for I am ready for thee,
'Oh sir thou can'st have, thine way' sayeth she.
Let me souse thine lips, and breasts with fine ale,
And plunge my blade, into thine fairy grail.


Standing naked ere, rising of the moon,
Perchance it wilt, upgoeth some time soon.
Doth it not now shineth, both bright and clear,
And that's only the first quarter to appear.


With this field-dew, I do thee consecrate,
I pray thee please me now, I can not wait.
Full oft hast thou pleasured, my ample manhood,
And shown me enchantments, in the greenwood.


The velvet tongue of midnight, hath told twelve,
Thou shalt come when, I dig, dive and delve.
Call out thine song, whether thou wilt or not,
At once thou wench lease, I shoot my own shot.


Thou hath well beguiled me, with thine beauty,
Least I loose the plot, let me do my duty.
Since my magic wand, is now at its prime,
Let's straight to bed, 'tis almost fairy time.


Durst thou have climbed, upon me to gyrate,
Thy summer curves doth, tend upon my state.
I pray thee what wilt, thou do to please me?
Oh no, not now, I've mislaid that dam key!



Copyright Andrew Rea Midsummer 2016

Friday, 10 June 2016

Drinking Feast

Introduction

Set in early Saxon times when ploughing began in Solmonath (February) we know from ‘The Rights of Various People’ that workers had the right to a drinking feast in return for their obligation to a days ploughing on the Lord's land.

Plough teams had one, two or eight oxen. In the case of a two oxen team the oxen would have had names that they could easily recognise, traditionally a one syllable name and a two syllable name (here Nimble walking in the farrow and Quick walking on the turf).

Field sizes were set in very practical ways: the length that the oxen could work before needing a break set the length, this was called a 'furrow long' which became the furlong. The width of a field was determined by what a plough team could plough in a day this is known as a rod or a chain. The area of this field became known as an acre.

Ploughing started at the centre end of the field and progressed back and forth in a spiral fashion moving clockwise turning the sods to the right, in this way over the years the fields developed a camber which often still shows on our landscape.

Nerthus was the Earth goddess as noted by Saint Bede. Note in later Saxon times she was replaced by Frigg.

Ploughing was hard work requiring strength to control the plough, Elf-schot refers to 'a sudden sharp pain caused by the influence of elves'

Drinking Feast

In cold Solmonath, we return to mead,
Oxen in frosty, crisp morning to lead.
To plough the cold land, to sow the corn seed,
To the lord's first field, fulfilling our deed.

When sun he upgoeth, we bless the ploughshare,
God speed the plough team, let naught us impair.
We three men tilleth, Nerthus in her earth,
For the livelihood, of all men's worth.

We two men a ploughing, a lad sowing corn,
Two oxen a pulling, on a misty morn.
I am a leading, Aelfric guides the plough,
Elf-schot in the back, if thee don’t know how.

Raising the mouldboard, at end furrow long,
Changing our places, thee need to stay strong.
Nimble in furrow, and Quick on the turf,
Pulling heavy plough, for all of their worth.

Walking the furlong, sun wise straight and fine,
Strong oxen to rest, at end of the line.
With turf on the left, and sod on the right,
Ploughing all long day, before it is night.

That sacred point when, day and night divide,
Put away the plough, its ale drinking tide.
After the plough day, and thrusting our shaft,
On eve of morrow, we quaff the strong draught.

Bring us more good ale, we'll raise our great horn,
Up with pointy end, drink to Barleycorn.
Made from best barely, we down it with glee,
Lift up thine tankards, wassail unto thee.

Copyright Andrew Rea May 2016

See also 'The Corn Dolly': 


and Solmonath: 
http://newanglo-saxonpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/february-solmonath.html

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Possible Translation of Lacnunga P10.10 - Revisited

Lacnunga P10.10 – See Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England
Vol III, P10 line10
'In case a man or a beast drink an insect'

Other possible translations

Further to my proposed possible translation of this charm (See my blog December 2015)
I reproduce here two somewhat more scholastic attempts at a translation, for comparison. These are attempts by students as part of their thesis’s.

The Galdor (charm)
Gonomil orgomil marbumil
marbsai marbsai tofethtengo docuillo biran cuithaer
caefmiil fcuiht cuillo scuiht cuib duill marbsiramum

My proposed translation:
I wound the animal, I strike the animal, I kill the animal.
Brine of death, brine of death (with) wind (and) tongue I destroy the thorn from the sky, belonging to fine lovely honey, suck the wound/ wound (like) a love bite/suck if (it be) split, sing to kill the long (worm).

Additional note: the implied use of saliva.
Belief in the medicinal usefulness of saliva is very ancient: see e.g. Opie & Tatem [1989: 373-41, Bonser [1963: 22 1-21, Chowdharay-Best [1975], Nicolson [1897] and Selare [19391. Its use in a remedy for wyrm is also derived from the belief recorded by Pliny that: Omnium vero in primis ieiunain salivam contra serpentes praesidio esse
docuimus. [NH 28.3 5].
Chowdharay-Best [1975: 197] also notes instances of the use of saliva against
venomous creatures in the works of Galen, Paulus Aegineta, and Oribasius.

Heather Lesley Stuart (1973: A Critical Edition of Some Anglo-Saxon Charms and Incantations. 802-9) proposes this reconstruction of the galdor:

Gono mil, orgo mil, marbu mil.
Marb sir [n]-amus. Do-foth tengo do. Guillo biran co [n]-ith ar
cach miil scucht co n-ibdaich. Marb sir [n]-amus.

Stuart's translation:
I wound the animal, I slay the animal, I kill the animal.
Kill the long-lived hireling. Its tongue will fall out. I destroy the little spear with fat
for each animal an end with a sorcerer. Kill the long-lived hireling

However duill "creature" has been removed, and the amendments do not produce readily intelligible sense.
Perhaps with the application of strict lexical and syntactical sense damage is done to the sound-patterns of the galdor.

With this in mind Harley (1996 A critical edition of the Anglo-Saxon Lacnunga in BL MS Harley 585 P315-318) suggests

Gono mil orgo mil marbu mil
marb sair amum tofeth tengo do cuillo biran cuuthaer
cufinnl scuiht cuillo scuiht cuib-.duill, marb sir amum.

Harley's translation:
I wound the animal, I hut the animal, I kill the animal.
Kill the long/lasting creature! The beast's tongue will fall out. I destroy the little
spear with verse.
Against the (?)dear-beast (?)An ending. I destroy. (?)An ending. (?)dear-beast. Kill the long/lasting creature!

So my previous conclusion remains and is reprinted thus:

Of course one could also arrive at alternative variations in the translation and perhaps this ambiguity is exactly what the charm intended to achieve, after all it is unlikely the Anglo-Saxons would have had any understanding of Old Irish. What would have been important was the distinct incantatory sound patterning resulting from the alliteration, rhyming and repetition.


Sunday, 6 March 2016

On the Spindle Side - Youtube link


I have a few of my poems recorded with brief introductions on Youtube, here is a link to the second poem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spMipoGqWP4

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Drink Hail

We have just premièred my poem based on Phil's mead. Philip is a good and true Heathen friend that brews very fine mead indeed. I have drunk many a bottle and partaken of many a little sip on my little mead bench.

Drink Hail
Drink up Phil's fine mead, and wassail to thee,
Pass full horn around, merry let us be.
With horns we shall hail, here's to the best brew,
Let's toast raise the roof, with good mead and true.
Pass horn to the left, raise another toast,
Feel free to be bold, and make biggest boast.
Mead moves round with sun, drink hail and wassail,
A mouthful of mead, and tell a tall tale.
Mead cup bearing boys, bring it round again,
Take another small sip, send it to your brain.
Slurp Phil's spicy mead, that's fit for a thane,
Into the long night, and drink like a Dane.
Let's take the mead oath, to kith kind and true,
And swear allegiance, to friends old and new.
Partake one last horn, wassail me and you,
After five or six, you haven't a clue.
Up with pointy end, and wassail away,
Made from best honey, by Philip the fay.
The fairies' about, at this time of day,
One more little swig, is the Heathen way.

Fell free to share.....

Friday, 12 February 2016

Thou art Ealfscyne - Youtube link

I have a few of my poems recorded with brief introductions on Youtube, here is a link to the first poem:

Thou art Ealfscyne    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSVfgZBXOiE

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Possible translation of Lacnunga P10.10

Lacnunga P10.10 
(from Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England Vol 3)

In case a man or a beast drink an insect

Let me begin by saying that I am not an expert but merely trying where others seem to have given up. I bring with me only a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon charms and some enthusiasm. If anyone wishes to feed in to this or finds fault then please message me.

Here is the entry:

Wið ðon þe mon oððe nyten wyrm gedrince gyf
hyt sy waepned cynnes sing ðis leoð in þaet swiðre
eare þe her aefter awriten ls gif hit sy wifcynnes
sing in þæt wynstre eare.

Gonomil orgomil marbumil
marbsai marbsai tofethtengo docuillo biran cuithaer
caefmiil fcuiht cuillo scuiht cuib duill marbsiramum

sing nygon siðan in þæt eare þis galdor ond pater nr
æne. þrs ylce galdor mæg mon singan wið smeogan
pyrme sing gelome on ða dolh ond mið ðinan spatle
wmyre ond genim grene curmeallan cnuca lege on þæt
dolh • ond beðe mid hattre cumicgan. wið ðon ðe mon
attor gedrince nim marubian sæd • mængc wið wine
syle drincan.

The first paragraph has already been translated:

In case a man or a beast drink an insect, if it be of male kind sing this lay in the right ear, which lay is hereinafter written; if it be of female kind, sing it in the left ear.

The third paragraph has also been translated:

This same charm a man may sing against a penetrating worm, sing it frequently upon the wound and smear with thy spittle, and take green Centaury, pound and lay it on the wound and bathe with hot cow urine. In case a man drinks venom, take seed of Marrubium, mingle it with wine, administer to be drunk.


The second paragraph is the charm or galdor.
The first line is already translated from Old Irish:
Gonomil = I wound the animal (gono mil)
Orgomil = I strike the animal (orgo mil)
Marbumil = I kill the animal (marbu mil)
Refer to: Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds, edited by Alex Mullen, Patrick James, P137, Reconstructing Languages and Cultures,  edited by Edgar C. Polomé, Werner Winte P406, And also Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells by Claude  Lecouteux

At this point others seem to have decided that the rest of the charm is gibberish and given up, however let’s take the second line and split the words up thus:
The second line
marb sai marb sai to feth tengo do cuillo biran cuith aer

Using Old Irish:
Marb = dead/stagnant/pertaining to the dead
Sal = brine/sea/heal
To (first-person singular present progressive conjunct of at-ta) = to swell
Feth = wind
Tengae = tongue (closest match)
Do = two
Cuillo biran = I destroy the thorn
Cuit = portion/property/love (closest match)
Aer = sky

Trying out these meanings in combination we can eventually arrive at:

Death brine, death brine swell wind tongue two I destroy the thorn property sky

Let’s now rework the line into sense while also thinking of stinging insects such as bees and wasps:

Brine of death, brine of death (with) wind (and) tongue I destroy the thorn property of the sky.

And working a little more on the end:

Brine of death, brine of death (with) wind (and) tongue I destroy the thorn from the sky.

Brine still used to treat wounds and also can be used to remove a leech, perhaps seen as a kind of worm. The ‘thorn from the sky’ clearly being a metaphor for bees and wasps.

Moving on to the third line and again splitting the words:

The third line

caef miil f cuiht cuillo    scuiht cuib duill    marb sir amum

Cael = narrow/slender/thin/fine (closest match)
Mil = honey best meaning
Cuit = portion/property/love (closest match)
Scoilt = split (closest match)
Cuig = five (closest match)
Cuin = when (closest match)
Duil = suck (closest match)
Duille = leaf (closest match)
Marb = dead/stagnant/pertaining to the dead
Sir = long
Amran = song/singing (closest match)

So this line is becoming difficult but perhaps we can arrive at:

Belonging to fine lovely honey, split five/parts/love/property suck/leaves, sing to kill the long (worm?).

Again thinking of stinging insects ‘Belonging to fine lovely honey’ seems to fit and suck/sucking pertains to swallowing or sucking the wound. ‘Sing to kill the long (worm) is just what the medic (Leech in Anglo-Saxon) is doing.

Expanding the possible translation of the middle three words into combinations:
Split five suck = suck the split (or wound) five (times).   
Split five leaves = (take and) divide five leaves (worts or herbs).
Split parts suck = suck the split part (wound).
Split parts leaves = split the leaves (into) parts.
Split love suck  = split (or wound) (like) a love bite (resembles a reaction to an insect sting).
Split love leaves = divide the leaves of love.
Split property suck = ?   
Split property leaves = the split (or wound) belonging to the leaves.
Split when suck = suck when (if) split.
Rewriting lines 1, 3, 5 and 9 which seem to have the most potential:
Suck the wound five (times)/suck the wound/ wound (like) a love bite/ suck when (if) split.
All of which have some relevant meaning, however the number five in a healing charm would be unusual (three and nine being the norm) so perhaps we should reject this as a likely translation. The remaining possibilities are therefor, either an instruction to suck the wound or merely a description of the appearance of a bad reaction to an insect bite. Perhaps three or more are valid here and we have an example of layered meaning as in a palimpsest.
So the third line can be written as follows:
Belonging to fine lovely honey, suck the wound/ wound (like) a love bite/suck if (it be) split, sing to kill the long (worm?).

So the entire charm could read:

In case a man or a beast drink an insect, if it be of male kind sing this lay in the right ear, which lay is hereinafter written; if it be of female kind, sing it in the left ear.

I wound the animal, I strike the animal, I kill the animal.
Brine of death, brine of death (with) wind (and) tongue I destroy the thorn from the sky, belonging to fine lovely honey, suck the wound/ wound (like) a love bite/suck if (it be) split, sing to kill the long (worm).

This same charm a man may sing against a penetrating worm, sing it frequently upon the wound and smear with thy spittle, and take green Centaury, pound and lay it on the wound and bathe with hot cow urine. In case a man drinks venom, take seed of Marrubium, mingle it with wine, administer to be drunk.

Of course one could also arrive at alternative variations in the translation and perhaps this ambiguity is exactly what the charm intended to achieve, after all it is unlikely the Anglo-Saxons would have had any understanding of Old Irish. What would have been important was the distinct incantatory sound patterning resulting from the alliteration, rhyming and repetition.


Copyright Andrew Rea Dec 2015