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, 22 July 2017

The Gates of Tomorrow

Introduction
The poem is set in early Anglo-Saxon England at the liminal moment before dawn. (Liminal moments were greatly favoured for magical acts and gathering of medicinal plants).

The gatherering of litchen from standing stones is inferred from the practice of collecting it from crosses in church yards for use in healing as mentioned in Leech Book III P345 LXII: 'take....litchen from the hallowed sign of Christ..'.

The use of standing stones is based on The Laws of Ælfred (ca. 890) which state: ‘some men are so blind that bring their offering to earth-fast stone and also to trees and to wellsprings, as the witches teach’.

Elves are mentioned in many Anglo-Saxon documents and the reference to elves being associated with stones is inspired by Icelandic belief where elves are still said to dwell within certain rocks.

A galdor is a spell or charm that is sung.
A wight is a land spirit.


The Gates of Tomorrow

Door before daybreak, gateway to sunrise,
Before the cock crows as eventide dies.
He gathers litchen, together at night,
Containing its force before it is light.

Standing and casting, his magical rite,
Between the old stones portal in twilight.
In sacred deep trance, with twigs of ash tree,
As staves cast on ground magic runes to see.

Before sun appears, above burning bright,
From corner of eye appears elfin wight.
White shining spirit, where magic stones stand,
Guardian of rocks on this sacred land.

Waiting at the cold, portal of the dawn,
Hands held beneath his long tunic of fawn.
As all grass around, becomes frosty haw,
Dusting and dancing in the morning raw.

Singing long galdors, in a spellbound trance,
Chanting secrete lay in a runic stance.
Waiting for sunrise, the gods to entreat,
When the day wakest the charm is complete.

Copyright Andrew Rea Æfterra Litha 2017

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Hawthorn

The Hawthorn in the city yard




For a better view:

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.5215533,-0.0954266,3a,75y,118.77h,105.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1stBpACKT2y-w3yurezg4Mmg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Introduction

This noble tree of many years bringing life to a small corner of the city with its fragrant flowers in May and colourful berries in Autumn is under threat from a developer.

There is much folklore connected with the May tree including its extensive uses during the May Day festivities. The hawthorn also affords a safe secure shelter for nesting and migrating birds providing food by way of its haws.

Lone bushes are said to be especially inhabited by fairies. These little folk are protective of their bushes. To cut down these trees has long been know to incur the often fatal wrath of their guardians. Dire consequences have traditionally attended those foolhardy enough to disturb a faery thorn, as many tales recount, eg in 1982,workers in the De Lorean car plant in Northern Ireland claimed that one of the reasons the business had so many problems was because a faery thorn bush had been destroyed during the construction of the plant. The management took this so seriously that they actually had a similar bush brought in and planted with all due ceremony. But the company still went under!


The poem below has been read out to the tree together with a short spell of protection.



The Hawthorn

This noble thorn tree, of many a year,
In small city site, had nothing to fear.
It's fragrant flowers, defining the may,
And those red berries, on an Autumn day.

Affording safe branches, for birds to nest,
Giving protection, for others to rest.
Abundant berries, clusters of ripe red,
Garlands of flowers, on fair maidens head.

The fair maid that on, the first day of May,
Goes down to the meads, in the morning gay.
To wash in the dew, from florets for free,
Wilt ever after, most beautiful be.

The lone hawthorn tree, placed in city yard,
Attracts little folk, these fairies now guard.
Cut down this tree if, thee art foolish of heart,
The wrath of the fairies, may tare thee apart.

De Lorean did, want car plant to grow,
Destroyed a thorn tree, and became fairy foe.
Many problems arose, with thorn bush gone,
Until a new thorn, did appease the throng.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Elf Service

Introduction
This poem looks at the usefulness of Early Saxon elves (ie before the conversion to Christianity) and touches on how various kinds of elves might have performed as 'good spirits'.

Elves are powerful beings who would exercise their power in ordered ways for the long-term benefit of the community.

The Anglo-Saxons considered elves as beautiful white shining spirits, there were different kinds of elves; Water elf: wateralfeng, field elf: feldalfeng,  land elf: landalfe,  wood elf: wudualfeng and mountain elf:  beorgalfeng.

In early Saxon England there appears to have been a strong belief in elves. They have left their impressions in various ways, in names of towns and villages eg Ilfracombe in Devon who's name means 'elf wisdom valley' and Alfington meaning either 'elf family settlement' or 'elf friendly settlement', there are several variations on this theme with other surviving village names.

Many Saxon names were derived from the word 'elf'; for example; Aelfred (elf wisdom),  Aelfflad, (elf-beautiful), Avery  (rules the Elves), Ellette  (little elf), Elva/Elvia (elf), Elwine/Elwina/Elwyna (friend of the elves), Erlina/Erlene/Erline  (elfin), Aelfgifu (elf gift), Aelfheah (elf high), Aelfric = (elf power).

The word aelfscyne means 'as beautiful as an elf'.
Aelfthone is a herb which was known for its mind-altering qualities.

In modern day Iceland there is still a strong connection between people and elves, there are several examples of people defending stones, rocky outcrops or valleys against road building in order to protect the elves homes.
From Wilipedia: Álfhóll (Elf Hill) is the most famous home of elves in Kópavogur, and Álfhólsvegur (Elf Hill Road) is named after it. Late in the 1930s, road construction began on Álfhólsvegur, which was supposed to go through Álfhóll, which meant that Álfhóll would have to be demolished. Nothing seemed to go well, and construction was stopped due to money problems. A decade later road construction through Álfhóll was to be continued, but when work resumed machines started breaking and tools got damaged and lost. The road remained routed around the hill, not through it as originally planned. In the late 1980s, the road was to be raised and paved. Construction went as planned until it came time to demolish part of Álfhóll. A rock drill was used, but it broke. Another drill was fetched, but that one broke, as well. After both drills broke to pieces, the workers refused to go near the hill with any tools. Álfhóll is now protected by the city as a cultural heritage. 
See also: http://all-that-is-interesting.com/iceland-elves


The Elf Service

On mid summers eve, light elves doth abound,
Rare radiant ones, perhaps to be found.
Tending fields and meads, and on flowery mound,
Weaving their magic, not making a sound.

Greybeard went to fetch, water from small stream,
Placing fresh baked bread, beneath the low beam.
For those hidden folk, that keep water clean,
Wise wateralfeng, seen in a day dream.

In full flower spring, the meadow mumbling,
Colourful carpet, wasps and bees bumbling.
Poppies corn cockles, red and blue tumbling,
In corner of eye, feldalfen gambling.

Heave up healing herbs, the galdor to read,
Kneeling in meadow, libation of mead.
For field fertility, performing the deed,
The hidden people, give life to corn seed.

Landalfe live in rock, at centre of field,
The bright elves therein, increase the corn yield.
If thee move this stone, then thine fate is sealed,
Gather lichen here, and thee wilt be healed.

In small silent wood, dusting distant leaves,
Wudualfeng out, on mid summer's eves.
Tending their aelfthorne, as diligent reeves,
Gathering mushrooms, like dark forest thieves.

Those beautiful elves, form a link between,
Mankind and landscape, whilst staying unseen.
White shining spirits, working our land green,
Bringing abundance, where light elves have been.

Copyright Andrew Rea, April 2017

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Tigath Galdor

I have found 6 variations of the Tigath gardor (charm) referred to in a theses by Edward Thomas Pettit which I list below as they may be of interest. This charm which would have been sung over a sick person was used in Anglo-Saxon times as part of a magical healing process.

6 versions

1.Bald's Leechbook (1 12/24-1 14/1):
Acre. aercre . aer nem. nadre. aercuna hel. aer nem. ni thern. aer. asan.
bui thine. adcrice. aer nem. meodre . aer nem. aethern. aer nem. allu. honor
ucus. idar. ad cert. cunolari. raticamo . helae. icas cristi ta. haele . to
baert. tera . fueli . cui. robater. plana. uili.

2 Lacnunga. Entry LXIII (II. 254-7):
Acrc arcre arnem nona arnem beothor aernem. nidren. arcun cunath ele
harassan fidne

3 Lacnunga. Entry XXV (11. 86-91):
"Tigath tigath tigath calicet. aclu cluel sedes adclocles. acre earcre arnem.
nonabiuth aer aernem nithren arcum cunath arcum arctua fligara uflen binchi
cuteri. nicuparam raf afth egal ufen arta, arta. arta trauncula. Trauncula.

4 Lacnunga. Entry LXXXIII:
Tigath

5 Oxford, Bodician Library, MS Bodley 163 fol. 227:
Tigath . Tigath . Tigath . calic& aclocluel sedes adclocles arcre . enxrcre
ererne(m) Nonabaioth arcu(m) cunat arcu(m) arcua fligara soh withni
necules culeri rafaf thegal uflen binchni . arta, arta. arta. tnxuncula.
tnxuncula. Tnxuncula.

6 Cambridge. Gonville and Caius College MS 379 599, fol. 49R:
"Thigat. Thigat. calicet. Archlo. cluel. tedes. Achodes. Arde. et
hercleno(n). Abaioth. ArcocugliA. Arcu. ArcuA. fulgura. sophiunit. ni.
Cofued. necutes cuteri. nicuram. Thefalnegal. Vflem. Archa. cu(n) hunelaja.