Tag Archive | ovate

welcome to my on-line home!

i’m a druid, trained with the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. i’m very telepathic and i have second sight. this was very alienating about twenty years ago when everyone thought that if you heard voices and saw beings that no one else could see you must be declared insane, locked up, and drugged with near lethal drugs until you no longer could.

i became a druid as a result of being told by one of the more helpful, kindly voices (spirit guide) that i should get into an organisation that actively encourages and helps telepathic communion with the beings of the invisible realms. i chose the Rosicrucians first off because i’d heard of them, and knew that they were well-respected. i’m still a member, though in recess.

it was through their book-lists and advertising that i came to OBOD. i edited its southern hemisphere newsletter serpentstar for a few years – one of the best things about the druid way and about pagans generally is that many truly believe in fairies, elves, spirit guides, gods, tree spirits, plant spirits and the elementals – all the beings that inhabit the realms just beyond human awareness, whose voices i’ve have chattering in my head and vying for my attention for most of my life. my guide was right. both organisations brought about helpful transformations – and i believe any of the established pagan and esoteric paths would have done the same – and placed me among fey-friendly people.

they helped me to redefine my inherited ‘family madness’ as hereditary seership – a great gift to share with the world. my mother kept telling me ‘it skips a generation’. my clairvoyant grandmother, a gifted healer, spent time in a mental hospital for her visions and voices and a cousin of mine was ‘cured’ of them by ‘psychiatric’ treatment consisting mostly of zombifying drugs.

others of my generation have varying levels of psychic ability too. our poor planet is getting wiser and is much kinder now to legitimate seers and psychics. in this blog, in future posts, i intend to tell you all about the fairies and gnomes and elves and brownies that come thronging to my garden as they throng to any garden where they’re made welcome, and i’ll tell you how to keep them happy and healthy – and what happens when you don’t.

i’ll also talk about the ghosts, guides, angels and other beings, that use our nexuses and pavillions. there’ll also be blogs about the fauns, satyrs, devils and daemons, gods and devas that live and work around and among us too. comments are welcome, especially from other seers – it’s so helpful to compare notes.

the faerie shaman

seeing fairies depends on three things: the person seeing, the fairies to be seen and the process of seeing. let’s start with the process of seeing

green fairy

slightly self-radiant aerial being

the process of seeing is a gift. each of us is part of a greater organism, gaia, our planet, just as our cells are parts of us, each unique, with its own specialised work to do for the whole organism. just as some organisms on earth have well-developed sensoria for experiencing the visual, audial and tactile sensations that define reality for humans, so some humans have specialised senses highly enough developed to enable the fairy sight. if a person has this gift and is psychologically ready, they will be aware of their readiness: they will be looking for fairies and longing to see them. if that’s you, that’s who i’m writing this for. if you’re looking for fairies, then you can be sure they’re looking for you!

the fairies you’re looking for will depend on the kind of fairy lore you have been imbibing since childhood. before you’ve seen any, you’ll be looking for the more believable ones you’ve heard of, read about or seen pictures of. the current surge of interest in fairy art is a great help. fairies all but manifest through art, making the artist draw thepicture, then inhabiting the picture like a ghost in it. that’s why fairy pictures cast such an enchantment over those of us to whom they speak. if you form the intention of drawing or painting a fairy, or writing about them in poems,children’s stories or books for older readers, you’ll be surrounded by fairies who will strongly influence your work. so even fairy artists who don’t see fairies, and perhaps don’t even believe in them, are very likely to be channelling accurately – and the fairies concerned will be the types most wanting to be seen, most willing to help you to focus on where they are. let love guide you – seek the ones that appeal to you most. however, be alert for kinds you never expected to see, who will be looking for you, and trying to persuade you to love them too. there are many, many different kinds of mostly diminutive peoples whom we call fairies.

finally, you yourself! you are used to seeing pretty well with your normal eyes, hearing, smelling, tasting, etc, and you get a bit blas/e about it sometimes. if you feel a bit dull, you can still see and hear etc reasonably well, so you have no great need for exquisitely receptive senses for everyday experiencing. but when you want to see fairies, you will need far greater sensory clarity and psychic awareness than usual, and you may have to work to achieve that. you need optimal health – and that means a healthy diet with plenty of raw foods, such as salads and fresh fruit (not necessarily vegan, though that can help) healthy respiratory and circulatory systems, which depend on a healthy physical environment and plenty of good aerobic exercise. getting out into the garden or parks or the country is helpful. then your psychological health will affect your ability to see fairies. that means emotional balance, sound ethics and rationality. you don’t have to get ‘trans’ rational – fairies fit rationally into our reality – we just have to learn how.

this is just a basic idea of a good starting point. but there’s much more to it than that – winning their confidence, enduring their harassment, loving them, fearing them – it’s a rich, wild shamanism. let’s develop our own unique approach to it with their goodwill! let it be for the good of all beings!


brownies – willing helpers


brownies are the gentle and wise lawgivers of the fairy realms

People who want to make shamanic connections with the fairy peoples usually start by learning as much as they can from books, other seers and folklore to add to their natural awareness and compare notes. You learn quickly that there are many different kinds of fairies, and that they vary from culture to culture.
Then as you become adept at seeing, your notion of what a fairy is usually undergoes a wild transformation. You begin to encounter the many varieties of fairies, elves, nature spirits etc, little and large, pretty and ugly, wise and silly, kindly and malevolent, sick and healthy, friendly and hostile, that your rapidly improving fairy sight reveals to you.

At this stage you may feel a need to focus on direct communion with just one kind of fairy at a time, usually using meditation and attunement techniques you may have learned as a part of a pagan, esoteric or new age teaching programme or similar. You set the scene with beautiful music, crystals enchanted for the purpose, and incense or aromatic oils, herbs and flowers. You centre yourself, your clear your mind, perhaps you might play a drum or a flute, and you open your eyes to the fairies around you.

The fairies will be aware of your preparations and they’ll crowd around to get a glimpse of you, and to let you see them. You get used to the fact that these are indeed people, high-strangeness people, indeed very high-strangeness people; and that some of them are intensely aware of you and are manipulating you with their powerful wills into their view, sometimes competing with each other for access to you. This can be frightening, but don’t panic. When it happens, you can always expect a Brownie to be there for you, to be your trustworthy guide and protector if you ask.

Brownies are among the easiest of fairies for humans to commune with. They are saintly little people about nine inches to just under a foot high, sometimes appearing in hooded garments of soft brown, grey and green colours. They are usually surrounded by a kind of courtly retinue which includes the astral forms of little human girls in their brownie uniforms, and other children.

Probably the word Brownie was originally Brehonie, and referred to a pious and much-loved legal fraternity that was quashed in Britain in mediaeval times so completely that history seems to be repressing the memory of them. Progress in translating their law texts has been slow and very, very fraught.

But folklore recalls the Brownie as an outlawed exile in wild places, sometimes protected by remote households for whom they very generously did useful work in exchange for nothing but food and clothing – taking offence permanently if offered payment. In the old ballad Brown Adam he was banished into the woods where he lived by hunting birds with a bow and arrow.

Children’s lore, often wiser and better informed than folklore because intuitive, situates them deep in the wildest and remotest parts of the mossiest, most mysterious green woods, where they have become invisible to humans, diminished in size to about a foot high. As Brehons once were among the peoples of old Britain, Brownies are are the wise law-givers, counsellors and peace-makers among all the wild woodland fairies, animals, birds and fishes, plant spirits, aerial and water beings, fire spirits and earth kin.

Real brownies are accessible to us through contemplation of this highly developed, consistently recurring image. If you ask them to they are willing to work closely with you as guides and negotiators on your behalf. They aren’t the only wise, human-friendly fairies you’ll encounter in the early stages, but they are omong the most adept at helping us to reorient ourselves appropriately in your newly expanded reality. And they do appreciate their annual gift of a new linen shirt and a good bannock bun – and firewood; only tokens now but once so meaningful!

Paradigms shift again when you realise that to the fairies, you are just one more kind of fairy. We are certainly giants to them, and if we think we’re not magical, there’s many a fairy, and many a quite justly aggrieved fairy, willing to prove to us that we’re just as magically dangerous to them as ever they could be to us. Without some training in stillness and receptivity, our fear paralyses them, our distrust binds them, our mis-visions distort and deform them, our disbelief disables them. The brownies are not just our guides, but our ‘handlers’ as well, to prevent us from harming the other beings with our unruly, lawless untamed magic.

Like many other fairies, Brownies remember being human, indeed many of them periodically incarnate as humans, and may even still think of themselves as human even though they have evolved since their banishment from human culture. They tell me their story as follows. Banished during the Conquest from their honoured place in British society, the few survivors fled singly to remote wild places, hiding in the deep forest to evade the hounds that were used to hunt them. In remote wild lands they survived, but were soon forgotten, except in folk-lore. Others, driven deeper into the forest, found food in abundance there, but were intensely alienated, often utterly devoid of all human company, and dependent on prayer, fairy magic and the guidance of Gaia (who knew just what she was doing) for their sanity.

A kind of sensory deprivation along with the effects of breathing the fungal spore laden air and of eating the occasional dodgy mushroom made these fugitives, credited anyway with magic powers, psychically hypersensitive. They soon began to hear the whispers of the forest, to understand the speech of animals and birds. Sleeping in the moss, feeding on the mushrooms, bark, herbs, nuts and berries of the forest’s bounty, drinking the dew and the heavy nectar of flowers, denied human companions, they soon fell under the spells of the forest fairies. Experiencing themselves to be more and more of their reality and less and less of this, they grew old and died, or they died through illness or the poison of a mushroom and so became part of the woodland community.

Over the centuries, their mentality and their appearance was greatly altered by their new environment, and geophysics of their new world diminished them in size. but they brought their legal expertise to bear upon the many problems that diverse and often competing fairies, fauns, birds and animals encounter in their efforts to create a viable and harmonious community of spirits. Our world was becoming less and less relevant to them, but Gaia had plans for them and us, and in accord with these there emerged the Brownie movement, the organisation for little girls that focused the potently magical attention of generations of eight-to-ten-year-old girls on just the kind of fairied forest environment in which these highly-evolved souls now have their spirituaL centres.

Aided by guiding angels and fairies, during the twentieth century the brownies and these little girls effected a cross-dimensional hand-shake of great importance to our planet, and it was a handshake of such good-will and delightfulness that brownies remain among the best-loved and most trusted of fairy characters in literature and lore. They are good little people, full of kindly charity and love, sweetness and joy, which they spread with the greatest ease wherever they go.

And nowadays they go about quite freely in all sorts of places, appearing in suburban gardens, Japanese parklands,city balconies and the Australian bush, and will appear in a well designated corner of almost any sincerely friendly, safe room if invited. They make charming use of those commercially available little toy doors that you affix to tree trunks and other likely places – not just for fun, but because they help to manifest the magic.

My Brownie guide ‘haunts’ or ‘inhabits’ a 14 inch high paper-maché toadstool with a nine inch diameter top. He explains that he magically bonds with the paper toadstool in such a way as to become sensitive to the thoughts and emotions going on around it. Thus it acts like a remote sensory organ, to which he can bring his whole mind’s attention at will, manifesting visibly beside it for me if he chooses. It’s like having a mobile phone.

His sense of humour is delightful, but he seems full of knowledge to impart as our relationship deepens. I service this shrine and others outside with gifts of food and drink and pieces of shiny metal which they use for money in one of their new toyland-like realms, which they develop for sound reasons, hilarious as they sometimes are.

Toylands? Yes, because expert as they are at bringing peace and sanity into communities of diverse beings, Brownies have learned from watching children play that a being is a being, whether a toy whose soul has been bestowed via the inarticulate love and fantasy of a child, or an angel spirit born triumphantly from the spent corpse of a dying human being, they are all sentient spirits, all worthy of their rights and responsible for their own karma. I suspect they’d find a use for anything if you offered it as a token of good-will.

Between small children at play and all manner of fairies, new worlds of solid reality are being woven all the time from the fantastical logistics and creative imagery of play, and because these new worlds have need of good, wise, fair laws to integrate them into the greater reality, Brownies are invited to participate in the building of them principally as law-givers.

Rapport with Brownies is based upon a mood-sharing which manifests quite strangely to an adult, because it is much more in the emotional idiom of children, or of medieval Brehons. It’s hard to put into words, except words so simple they might even sound facile, yet they possess all the more power for being so comprehensible. They teach that happiness is a medicine, something radiant and good that we infuse our surroundings with when we feel happy within.

We have a duty to be happy. Happiness is an elixir we brew in the chalice of our being, and it is a positive virtue to generate and emanate a radiance of happiness for the healing and comforting of our sad and damaged worlds. They know it isn’t always possible, but they urge us to be happy, to have fun, to make whoopee now and then, and follow your bliss wherever possible, making real inner happiness a goal, really caring about making ourselves truly happy in innocent ways that harm no one. They urge us to cultivate an optimistic disposition, to carry us through the sad times, and to gravitate (perhaps i should say levitate) back to as soon as things improve.
It doesn’t have to be noisy, visible happiness; you don’t have to smile all the time. Just consciously begin to liberate all the natural joy within you. That will not only improve your health and well-being, your luck and your whole quality of experience, it will also make you a well-spring of healing for everyone else around you.

i believe that asimov was an incarnate brownie, and that his laws for his sci-fi robots are real.

fairies – size continua

as a seer i see many different kinds of people smaller than we are, and they range in size from just about shoulder high to me (i’m 5’8″) to about a cm high (tiny mushroom fairies). i’ve also seen extra-dimensional human-like people ranging from about nine or ten feet tall all the way to too vast to measure. each type is embedded in its own reality just as we are in ours. no reality is more real than any other (except the ones that aren’t!!! – we’ll get to them later).

as you embark upon the path of seer, especially as you advance towards becoming adept, one important thing is to understand that there is a size continuum that includes us; that our reality is only a matter of a few strategic shifts of emphasis away from a whole array of others, and that we are their fairies, just as much as they are ours. they are just as truly people, committed to life-styles just as vital to gaia as ours are.

these do exist

these are real

norse elves talk of logical departures, where differences of perception are all that separate us though we live side by side in shared realities, and our lives intertwine in so many hidden ways.

gnomes are metaphysical shifts away from us, their reality hidden from us by our closed-mindedness as theirs is from us by theirs. our minds open as they become ready, like flower buds unfurling, and we perceive these new dimensions of the reality we share more and more.

the more congenial brownies create beautiful picture book pathways to these perceptions, and we find them in fiction and fable – they help us through a credibility shift as we help them, each as awed as each other.

the tall slender english-style elves (chest high, elaborate clothes, pride of lineage, courtly manners) reach us via fantasy. magic music brings the tall celtic gods in: nine feet or twenty feet, they smile sweetly down on us as we do on the little people we see. the dreamtime spirits and the hadean gods rise up out of myth and ritual, transcending matters of size and locus.

these are only a narrow selection of the fairies i myself see – every culture evolves within a reality interwoven with its own array of fairy worlds.  sometimes you get hints that there is real anxiety among some of them about humano-centric descriptions of the human world with its ‘peripheral’ worlds haunted by fairies who are less real than we are. not surprising when you consider how crass that is. they’re our ‘good neighbours’ and it helps if we’re ‘good neighbours’ to them too. humility is the key, and not all of them have learnt that yet. they’re often no better or worse than we are.

building bridges: sharing of nwyfre


never mind et intelligences – can trees communicate?

being a natural philosopher at heart i like to have a reasonable basis for my belief. as a druid in mixed society, when my beliefs are questioned i appreciate the credibility that goes with having a sound rationale. i try to ensure that a scientific description of the material world supports my belief in nwyfre as a flow of information-dense effects through the network of communication that interconnects all material beings. so i will begin with a glance into the magic of the rich and varied world that is within the range of our ordinary perception and proceed later to the so-called ‘invisible’ worlds that exist beyond that range.

if i stand near a tree, its radiance mingles with mine. they interact and both are changed, charged with the excitation of this new stimulus, which we communicate to everything around us. the same happens if a rock fetches up under a tree, or in my hand. as a human being i have special senses – of sight and sound, smell, taste and touch – which read the radiances of the material world, streaming data to my brain where i construct my perception of reality. this means i can create much more dynamic interfaces than i otherwise could, reading much more of the detail encrypted in just the light, for instance, simply by looking at things, stones, trees, yes, but also far-off mountains, the rising sun, the distant stars and galaxies, and indeed everything that radiates or reflects the colours of the spectrum of light. in dividing the light in this way i am part of the processing of light – light changes as it changes me. i respond to it and it responds to me.

these exchanges may be subtle, but as a human being, i have a brain as well as senses, a brain that generates a mind that categorises and stores information selectively according to nuances more subtle than i can bring to consciousness. it’s a mind that gives or finds in or for everything a meaning, and it responds to everything with feeling, understanding and imagination to categorise, judge, wish for, repel or condition the nwyfre in all sorts of ways. all the time i am feeding back my responses to the whole through the beings nearest me, and contributing to its evolution.

all of this is dynamic and effective and all of it is magical. the power that the mind exercises over matter, which medical scientists know can cause psychosomatic illness when random, repressed or abused, can also enhance life when used consciously and may be used creatively for all kinds of exciting and beneficial magical effects beyond healing. we have before us the task of learning how to use it.

the universe is logical; our physiology is logical and we think logically, but within the infinitely packed reality we inhabit, our ever-evolving minds are as yet not capable of comprehending more than a relatively small range of logical systems of limited extent, which we work very hard to extend, for example, through education and intelligently sought-out experience and the mass media developed for the purpose. the magic of mind over matter is also logical, and it is by understanding the default logic, which doesn’t foreground human needs over those of other beings, that we learn to advance beyond it and contribute to the evolution of the more human-friendly logicistics of the metaphysicist’s reality. nature doesn’t mind if our planet dies – we do, and we can save it by taking control of our proper share of the planetary magic.

logic maintains and manages the relationships between systems in the universe. some of the logic governing physics is so simple that its laws can be written as mathematical formulae. other logic, such as that of children’s play, is whimsical, witty and subtle, often submerged and not obvious, with so many variables that it takes child psychologists years of study to begin to discern it. our species is timidly and cautiously learning to reason logically, experimenting creatively with meaning, relationship and idea, observing the energetics and transformative power of ideas, observing the poetic force of thought, feeling and experience, beginning to understand how attitude can heal or harm us, learning the consequences of faulty, simplistic or misapplied logic along with those of sound reasoning. and in doing so we are learning to believe in the magic.

the more logically we reason, the more realistically we view the world and the more appropriately we interact with it. even people who seem to be illogical are simply following an inner logic of their own that does not necessarily mesh seamlessly with that of others, though at least equally sound. it may even be less flawed than the common logic, not more so. we should respect all paths even at that level, even if they clash with our own, perhaps even paths less respectful than our own.

all this is obvious when we consider the visible world, and equally true when we begin to search the edges of our consciousness for evidence of what exists beyond. so far i have considered only the material universe, without addressing the question of aether, the light body, the astral plane and so on. the reason for this is that we need to be sure of our material body’s clarity and to affirm what so many spiritual pathways still often deny – the validity of the here-and-now life of the biological body we live in and through.

the surface of any object infinitesimally small to infinitely vast, including humans, receives and responds to information about its environment. a mirror reflects reality. images are created in it by virtue of what happens when light strikes its surface. many birds and animals are imitative, and will, upon receiving impressions from other animals, mimic them, or mirror them. in the zodiac reflections of the great celestial patterns generated in the intricate spiral dance of galaxies and stars, and planets and their moons contribute to and reflect the myriad forces affecting the lives of small mammals on earth, including our human selves.

we’re used to seeing and responding to, mimicking and mirroring the actions of our fellow creatures, of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, insects etc. we do it mindfully, and who’s to say trees don’t? being motile, our gestures are writ large, purpose-built for the sensoria we’ve evolved. we can see our fellow animals responding to hunger, love, fear, joy, anger, pain and the passions of oestrus, social competition and the hunt. it’s different when we come to appreciating the life experience of a plant.

the plant seems still, usually needing a breeze or other disturbance to move its leaves, the roots fixed firmly in the ground. we can’t see the writhing, twisting, bustling activity of its growth – time-lapse photography had to be invented to show us that, and even then, its dance has not necessarily evolved as a means of communication. it tells us about the growth habits of plants, but except in a very few anomalous species does not seem to demonstrate responsivity to fellow creatures, and tells us nothing about the inner experience of the plant.

microbiology does lift the veil a bit. it’s a precise science and is currently making amazing breakthroughs into the biochemical responsivity of plants. the gushes of pheromones and bating of vital processes, the alterations in tensions and force-fields within the tissues of plants in response to threats such as herbivores, bad weather or pathogens is comparable to that which we find in animals, where we take it for granted it is associated with feeling, with awareness, with intelligence. plants have a ‘fear’ response, although just as it is chemically different from our own, it is probably experientially different to the same degree and corresponding to the chemical difference. and plants have attitude: it’s basic to their spirituality and anyone can discern it. people often joke about the perkiness of petunias or the bombast of a much-frilled gladiolus, the feistiness of a young pine tree or the gaiety of a bed of annuals. take it seriously. it’s a major key to the fun and magic our favourite garden flowers have brewing for us.

plant chemistry centres around the flamboyant, light-hearted, extravagant, dancing, delightful magnesium, while that of animals centres around dull, plodding, solid, pattern-seeking, hard-working, reliable iron. therefore a sensitive study of magnesium and iron are useful to an ovate seeking to bridge the communication gap between them. basic chemistry can be a useful starting point. watching magnesium expend its capacity for inter-reaction with air in an extravagant flare with little energy input while iron absorbs and consumes more and more energy before glowing dully, and still more before passing through the red, orange and yellow part of the spectrum before flaring much more sedately, can help us to understand what sort of bridge across what kind of gradations in what spectra of nature we have to build. same sort of process, but at a different speed and with comparable but different results.

how do plants experience us? plants have no visible organ that corresponds to an eye or an ear. we can see only what our very different physiology allows us to see. certain fine highly active structures in the neurology of the brain are in form so similar to tree branches that they are termed ‘dendrites’ after a greek word for a tree. it’s not difficult to understand that though they serve different physiological forms, having similar shapes brings them into a special relationship through the natural geometry of forms. morphic resonance begins to be a feature. humanity needs to be doing much more research into these areas of plant study, both as scientific studies and as the magical explorations that are much more relevant here to ovates in particular.

now at about this point, we can turn our attention to the extended reality that becomes accessible to us as we open our psychic eyes. we have to acknowledge that there is another gap to be bridged: the gap between our scientific, objective understanding and our own personal subjective experience. we have in our support the testimony of generations of fey peoples and fey individuals, accounts of whose daily experience have contributed to the lively traditions in many cultures worldwide of ‘plant spirits’ in human or human-like form, traditions that persist in the mainstream imagination as myth even though seldom still believed in – and always have and no doubt always will.

people who practice organic gardening often become conscious of plant spirits. the findhorn foundation http://www.findhorn.org/ revived our current consciousness of them. rudolph steiner http://wn.rsarchive.org/lectures/19101208p01.html taught us more about them. cultures worldwide are currently contributing to our knowledge of them in australia and the world wide web is currently vibrant with the buzz of their magic.

anyone who takes the time to approach the idea of communicating with plants seriously can usually fairly readily obtain a glimpse, or other equally clear and unmistakable impression, of a dryad, provided they start with a domestic or traditionally befriendable tree. (apple tree dryads are willing, patient and druid-friendly teachers, having been family members for millennia and are now ogham trees as well, and apple wands are easy to enchant).

so the bridge we have to build between our experience and that of plants is apparently being built with equal willingness and enthusiasm from both sides. and the gap between science and subjective or ‘psychic’ experience is not so difficult to bridge.

immersion in nature or gardens and parks is necessary for successful communication with plant spirits. if you can’t get out and about, work through pictures in books or on line. i’ve seen plant spirits pop up out of seed-packet pictures. reading about nature as scientific, faeried, whatever, can deepen and widen the experience and be very inspiring. but one thing is certain: none of it works without an open mind.

this article first appeared in SerpentStar, the newsletter the order of bards ovates and druids in australia. here: http://serpentstar.wordpress.com/


talk the walk

it occurs to me that i could step out of the forest into the glimmering glade and talk my walk with you all for part of the way to wherever we’re going for as long as we’re on the same track. our bare feet would step with care on a path well-scrutinised in advance for thorns and fewmets, side-stepping tiny young plants and bright green beetles, gentle on the bright green moss.our eyes would see the trees and birds and we’d tell them their scientific names. we would see the hidden life among the leaves, the tiny forests within the leaf mold under our feet, and the fairies and sylphs of the wayside.

green fairy

slightly self-radiant aerial being

small mammals and reptiles would flee at our approach.  kangaroos would greet us affectionately and pose for photos. perhaps we would meet other wayfarers, and wander at will with them all. i would carry a good well-educated wand and some amulets, two flutes and a lute, and a full purse of gold, and there’d be silver and some coppers in my pocket. we’d sometimes find pavement beneath our feet, or cool mosaics, or wooden flooring, and there’d be bothies and inns and haunted mead benches where we could hobnob with the worldlings and exchange wisdom and words of goodwill. we’d view vistas, learn lore, mend mad magic, meet our maker the miraculous Mind, our mother the mud our father the sky, and create stuff… dream-worlds, game-worlds, fairy-lands and elf-realms, and visit the ones that already exist. well, i’ve stalled long enough. time i began.

croning: an article and a ritual

Croning: coming of age in the 21st century. by vyvyan ogma wyverne
Old age is not a slow death unless your body is sick. We’re so accustomed to negative images of ‘crones’ in folk-lore and fantasy, where post-child-bearing, independent females are portrayed as a crooked, arthritic, ugly old scolds, that some people are surprised at the idea of a ‘croning’. Why would anyone want to be called a ‘crone’? Shouldn’t we seek positive images and archetypes and leave the old negative ones behind? We need ideals, but do we find them in archetypes generated in the past? Is that how we should honour our ancestors?

The archetypes preserved in folklore are interactive – do we need their power in our lives? They represent real people who lived in or before the middle ages, or during the renaissance or thereabouts. Our genetic inheritance comes from a population which not only included them, but fore-grounded them in story and song. The genes that determine our natures were hammered on the forges of their zeitgeist, just as we now find ourselves fine-tuning them in our 21st century interpersonal dramas. The crone of the middle ages incubated the spirituality of the crone of today, just as we are now shaping the nature of crones to come. It helps Gaia if we maintain the continuity of such evolutions – it’s a way of helping to repair the web of race memory, making subtle psychic connections between our times, allowing healing as in the repairing of damaged nerves.

Our ancestors had their own rightful place in the nasty past and are now fading from memory, while we live in the enlightened here and now, consciously working towards an ideal future. Shouldn’t we be imagining new role-models based on current experience? In the late 20th century, feminist scholars deeply explored the range of stereotypes generated by our culture, in the mass media, pop culture and in the popular imagination – many of these made use of carl jung’s work on archetypes and the collective unconscious. They found themselves awed at the power of the archetype as the shapers of society, of society’s response to individuals and their expectations of people who fall under their spell.

Some archetypes are distorted, like caricatures. They seem to exert a distortive power over the personality they misrepresent and over social situations involving them. Persistent images of independent old women have come down to us from a time when few people enjoyed long lives, and those who did were skinny, bent and rickety, with voices as croaky as that of the pet raven on their shoulder. Their faces are sometimes depicted as resembling death’s heads, the skull all but visible beneath the skin – and indeed, they seem close to death. It is this image of the crone that people fear.

The focus is not always on her decrepitude. In many folk tales the crone presents the symbolic gifts at rites of passage, and there’s usually nothing said of her other than that she is an old woman with high standing in the palace – at a time when a palace might be anything from a small populous city with a king and queen in residence to a lonely roadside cottage in the woods with a skeleton staff of one. This one is the dominant image in folk memory, and she still fascinates us. We continually create her anew, complete with rickets, toothlessness, croaky voice, distaff in hand and pet raven, but active pagans are more likely to up-grade her in the light of many generations of further evolution to a healthy, motivated, energised elder, rich in experience, a veteran of a lifetime of good living and ready for decades more of useful, dedicated work and enthusiastic participation in life.

Actors justly fear ‘type-casting’. It exerts metaphysical, magical power that can lock them into expected patterns of limited and inappropriate character-acting, stifling their creativity and limiting their opportunities for advance. So powerful are stereo-types, often unrecognised though held in the popular imagination by most people, that the second wave feminists of the 1970s called upon the image-makers of our culture, the educators, mass media, and the general population, to revise our fixed notions about old women, to take a reality check, to close the sizable gap between what old women, for example, really are and what most people think we are, how we are represented in the media and how this affects us. This radical rethink resulted in broad changes to our culture which now offers enhanced life experience for all older people.

As the mass media is now aware, if the general populace regards old women as typically sick, requiring full-time nursing care, headed for Alzheimer’s and kept alive by up to 20 different kinds of designer drugs, they can magically swing it that way. Advertising exploits this power for profit. We can wield it for the good of all. If we foreground the increasing sanity surrounding aging in current medical research, and focus on the many fit healthy role-models we see all around us, we can adjust our image towards the reality and thus connect more effectively with the beauty and blessing of old age, the value of the contribution of the aged to our culture and the special gifts and talents and sweet rewards that come with the wisdom of years. Then we can begin to shift them towards our own consciously crafted ideals. Thus we get magical control of our own evolution. Learning to use this awesome evolutionary force, this ‘force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ consciously, we avoid being distorted into creating dysfunctional social situations that plague life today.

We can learn from the archetypes, recognising their flaws in us and filtering them out, selectively inheriting their goodness, tweaking their spiritual ‘software’ creatively, participating in the crafting of the archetypes themselves. They aid us in discovering, cultivating and co-creating our own identities. The extent to which we resemble the archetype in question determines how much our spirit resonates with hers – or his in the case of a male. We can consciously avoid resembling an undesirable norm, the wicked witch who explodes in a jealous rage for example, while adopting features of the desired types, such as the chivalrous youth who marries the princess.

Through the evolving crone archetype women maintain continuum between ourselves and the old women of the past, receiving from them the power of their enchantment, and giving to them the blessing of their descendants. But be warned: when we conjure the crone from within our own beings, we might find ourselves with a friendly raven on our shoulder after all!

crow and crone

crone with crow

The Ritual
In preparation: crown (wrapped) and gifts are placed on central altar or other convenient surface in full view of all.

Rituallist: I proclaim the Rite of the The Spiral of Life
for the croning of vyvyan ogma wyverne,
companion of the order of bards, ovates and druids
in the cooringal groveof.
I give vyvyan greetings.
Saturn has twice returned to where it
was at the time of your birth.
You have turned fifty eight.
You have been a maiden,
and you have been a matron,
and now you are ready to become a crone.

Birch Spirit as Birth Guardian: As a spirit unborn you called together
father and mother, bodies and souls,
ancestors, past lives, dreamings, pathways:
you grew brand new from a single cell.
On a sunny day in spring,
you entered through the womb of life
into the arms of family love,
you entered the universe of human experience,
of perception and understanding,
you entered the succession of seasons,
of the circles and spirals of time and event
and you became a human child,
growing stronger every day.

East: As a bird in the wood,
around and around you flew,
you wove wakes in the shining air,
in the radiant peace of the east.
From the family to the greater community
you learned the established practices of our culture,
you took up the symbols of holiness and power,
you drank the nectar, spoke the ancient vows,
submitted to the curses of life, blessed the blessings
and learned to love the law,
and so became a maiden, fit for life.

North: As a flame in the fire
you went to work with a will
embraced the fuel, did the magical work of transformation
in the joyful peace of the North.
In the great crescendo of life
of culture and community, of work and of play,
as part of the vital fabric of earthly reality
there you matured, suffered, triumphed,
learned much, taught much, erred and sinned
and yet still loved goodness and just laws.

West: As a fish in the flood, questing,
you navigate instinctively.
you dream the mystic visions of the waters
in the deep inner peace of the west.
Now let the harvest be abundant,
as it ripens from the seeds and flowers
of your childhood and youth.
Since quiet questing, patient industry
and the simple prayer
of a steady mind with a good conscience
are the rich rewards of a life lived truthfully
and humbly in search of health and wisdom.

South: As a clod of clay, flesh of the earth,
you will come to know and cherish
the solid logic in the forms and forces of reality
in the still, silent peace of the South.
Now as your material body ages,
you will have learnt the hard lessons,
won the difficult harvests, stored the gains
and gathered the bountiful rewards
of living upon the material planet
as a material being. You will age,
you will approach death itself as we all must.
Yet you will not fear this death in its time,
knowing that it is the doorway to new lives.

Yew Spirit – the Death Guardian: From the earth came your body,
from the unknown came your soul,
and finally they will return,
replete with each other’s imprint,
your soul to the unknown, your body to the earth,
the memory of you to the mythos
of the ancestors, or to oblivion
in a world that keeps on turning
through the cycle of the seasons
and the spinning spirals of the day.

Rituallist: As a maiden you learned to be useful.
As a matron you worked in the world.
As the crone you will share your wisdom
bringing understanding to the world
and foresight to the young.
(picks up crown)
This croning is the crowning of your life.
Perhaps the words are related –
older women once wore crowns
though they were not queens.
(placing crown on w’s head)
Yet, within the circle of this crown
you are queen of your own dominions,
as every woman is when she is croned.
You are queen of your own soul
queen of your own mind
queen of your own experience.
autonomous, empowered and free.

wyverne: I am grateful to the guardians of birth
who helped me into this world.
I remember with affection and something more
the children with whom I played
and the teachers who gave me my lessons
while I was a growing girl.
I am grateful to them all.
I am also grateful
to the friends of my adolescence
and those who prepared me for adult life.
My family, friends and teachers
both human and other,
animals and angels
and the beings of all worlds.
And my co-workers, comrades-at-arms
my fellow humans, I am grateful
to have been so blessed and so sustained
through hard times and good
in so many ways by so many.
Gaia, you have been good to me
Given me more than you’re able to give others.
I go forward with a right good will
in trust and affection with you
to bring help to the hurt,
provisions to the needy
healing to the sick
wisdom to the bewildered
and comfort to the weary
in the best way I can till I can do no more.

To you who have spoken the ritual words for me,
and to you have listened, I am especially grateful,
because you are here to revive that consciousness
of magic, and the ritual response that sanctifies
the stages of my life as they ought to be sanctified,
without which life is less.

For this reason I ask each of you to accept this gift.
(goes round circle then returns to centre)

I came into this circle today a matron
a maturing woman with a lot of memories
and I’ll leave it a crone, autonomous and free.

All: (return to places ready to resume ceremony)