Historical poems and charms based mostly on the Anglo-Saxon era, including: the gods (esa) and fantastical beings such as elves, dragons and goblins (wights). Months of the Saxon year and Pagan place names.
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.
31st July I met a friend and we went to Saint James Park
to have a picnic, choosing to sit within a perfect fairy circle, of
about nine feet diameter, containing 'Fairy Ring Champignon'Shortly later three ravens came all as in the poem. The sweet
was a kind of joke sweet called 'Black Death' and was as described.
upon a moon day brightly, while we approach, good and rightly,
sun shine on the noon timely,
morrows fest, of
the Lammas day
warm and sun blessed, came
a troupe of ravens three,
in black all ravens three,
cautious me and she.
we sat inside
the grass ring, I could see the corvids dark wing,
each raven their
we witches with our long hair, looking, glancing, longing to stare,
did dare, dare guard the
by the tree,
soft sunshine the small mushrooms sitting there beneath
a circle there for thee.
baked bread ravens musing, then two ponder their leave choosing,
widdershins like John Dee,
the circle he is tracing, softly slowly he is pacing,
the worn fairy ring tracing, pacing circle true like Dee,
to taste the ball of Black Death like the scrying orb of Dee,
is what she gaveth me.
at once the taste grew stronger, I could bear it more no longer,
endured I the flavour, it
wilt soon passeth sayeth she.
the dark taste ended, and then gently sweetness entered,
raven he went flying, far
beyond the tall plane tree,
us alone together, pondering
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.
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.
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.
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!
poem below has been read out to the tree together with a short spell
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
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,
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.
Leechbook (1 12/24-1 14/1):
aercre . aer nem. nadre. aercuna hel. aer nem. ni thern. aer. asan.
thine. adcrice. aer nem. meodre . aer nem. aethern. aer nem. allu.
idar. ad cert. cunolari. raticamo . helae. icas cristi ta. haele . to