- I Miss You, Elaine
Elaine was a colleague and the best possible friend. We had specific areas of study in common and were making plans for website devoted to those interests. It was to be called “Crones, Bones, Herbs, and Stones”. And then suddenly, Elaine passed away. I and many others loved her with all our hearts. We are still struggling with our consuming sense of loss and searching for the means to both honor her memory and fill the void in a good way.
I haven’t Elaine’s genius for technology or the savvy to build the site we had envisioned. Heck, I still need help posting a Facebook picture. Nevertheless, I can start a new blog in her behalf, and call it Crones, Bones, Herbs and Stones. In time this blog will include material that extends way beyond my small world of plants and hunter-gatherers. I am looking forward to contributing authors to help me make manifest Elaine’s vision. If such a venture interests you, don’t hesitate to message me on Facebook or the contact address provided here on my website. Subjects in addition to Crones, Bones, Herbs, and Stones can include:
The Sacred Landscape: Ley Lines and Earth Mysteries
Landscape and Archaeo Astronomy
The Wheel of the Year
Hedge, Kitchen and Green Witchcraft
Earth, Air, Water and Fire
And any similar subject would be wonderful including poetry.
Elaine was fun; she was also brilliant and philosophical. I hope “Crones, Bones, Herbs and Stones” reflects in a small way both her wonder and complexity. I miss you, Elaine.
- A Feast for Our Ancestors
“As the nights grew imperceptibly longer my visions of the clarity and order of the dreamtime became more penetrating. The unifying forces of the sun and moon moved me easily through the transformation that would mark my rebirth to the Death Clans. The harvest was in and my endless trips for wood were over. Guardian spirits had taken over to protect our effort, we again at the mercy of the Winter Wait. Last came the ritual slaughter of the boar, ram, and bull that had given over their lives that we might persist through it. Their death was sweet and swift at the hands of those who claimed their blood. The tribe feasted on a small portion of the meat, putting up the rest in smoke huts. The last of the old mead was mixed with the new for the healing magic of a good harvest. We celebrated our success and joy, our long journeys and safe returns. We went to the springs to be reminded that there ran a thread of harmony and balance even in disorder and desperation. We played the last of the ritual summer games, giving our lives over to whatever rebirth we anticipated after the Death Spasm. Before my departure to the valley of the caves the tribe honored the twin spirits that allowed us to stand guard over the Winter Wait, and the Twilight Women who taught us to exist in two worlds. Accompanying my mother, we went to gather the bones and feast with the Ancient Ones of the Oak Clan. I also took in the blessing of the great rut of the Stag.”
Excerpt “Ancestral Airs”
- Letters to the Unborn
Letters to the Unborn is something of a sequel to Ancestral Airs. We find the same characters who remind us of some of the events that took place in Ancestral Airs. But these individuals have a different story to tell in Letters to the Unborn, a different purpose.
As soon as the winter rituals concluded many familiar faces began to anticipate an unprecedented ceremony. The story began in what we would call the month of May and the consuming eight-day ritual wouldn’t conclude until Autumnal Equinox.
After an extraordinary amount of preparation that has taken months, the entire tribe has now gathered around the Great Circle. There is only a week to go before the ritual begins. The evenings are filled with traditional stories told by traditional storytellers. People collect around the camp fires and listen.
Tomorrow, September 8th, I will begin to post a chapter everyday until Letters to the Unborn concludes on September 23rd. It is my hope that you will be drawn into the experiential side of how an unprecedented ritual evolves and concenters. I hope you will see yourself sitting among the people who have gathered every evening to listen to the Old Ones tell their stories. Then I hope you will enter into the ritual with them as they, night after night, unburden their lives before the Moon ends Her long journey and life begins again.
If you haven’t read Ancestral Airs or Letters to the Unborn there is absolutely no reason not to read the final chapters as they are rolled out in the next few weeks. In some place, in some time, it is happening now and you can be a part of it.
- Have a Safe and Sacred Solstice
The Death Clans enter the spiral to celebrate the birth of the sun. Eagles, Badgers, Ravens, Owls, Lynx, Wolves, and Greihound dance the sacred for their people. The Mother moves their feet; they lift their arms awe-struck by Her power. Skins and feathers mix with guttural, rhythmic prayers. I drift into their dreamtime, Darkling Light prods me to stay alert, “Don’t watch the others, you stand for Moondog and Greihound.” I feel him stirring inside me like a wisp of smoke that rises from an extinguished candle. I watch it disappear. He comes again, growling, teeth bared. (I’m alert! I’m alert!). He licks my lips renewed to his sacrament. Grasping the need I stand for days, centuries, six thousand years, filling his tender belly with delicacies of my ether as he fills mine, dancing the rapture for all of us. Calvinist ancestors cover their eyes, others I catch peeking between their fingers, they realizing that savagery was never cruel.
Flesh Eaters nearly naked whirl in air so frigid the snow feels warm to their skin and melts into the Earth. Rhythmically they reach between their moving feet touching the soil, offering the traces on their fingertips to the sun, never missing a step, believing the magic will always work.
[Excerpt from Ancestral Airs].
- Mesolithic America
Did you know that most of the tribes in North America were Mesolithic when Europeans arrived a mere 500 years ago? No doubt nearly all of us have met the descendants, still alive today, of some of these cultures. It is commonly thought that the Mesolithic era is locked into antiquity and most of it has been lost to history. That isn’t true.
If you are European American knowing your own tribe is more problematic. The Mesolithic era there ended more than 5000 years ago and information about them is hard to come by. But it can be done, having been my quest for decades. The result of this long and arduous search is systematically being posted on this website.
Should you have an interest in knowing your European tribe or exploring the Mesolithic era I invite you to click on Essays and begin reading Introduction to Mesolithic Britain.
- The Portal of the Past
“…Of its secret I can only say that the puritans in my blood sigh with relief, convincing themselves it is only a dream, invoked by the devil, beyond my control. I look deeply into their eyes and shrug my shoulders, bidding them farewell forever, knowing that the ether is pure and incorruptible. I, having committed unforgivable sin, shed their condemnation like a skin I have outgrown; back to the dust from which it rose. They will never burn me again.” [Excerpt from Ancestral Airs]
History is an elusive thing, most often coming down to us (or not at all) through the filter of prevailing power. What a pity. Then there opens a window of opportunity and we can gather up the shards of what remains. Piece by piece the sacred vessel of history emerges out of remoteness and we can hear the whispered prayers of our ancestors once again. The portal to the past is, at this very moment, open wide and waiting for each of us to take the plunge.
The greatest beauty for me is to know that once we had it right. We don’t have to forge a new reality from scratch; we need only to dig into history to find the blueprint. History not only satisfies my unquenchable thirst for mystery and magic it brings me face to face with my true value as an individual and the irreplacable uniqueness I hold within the family of mankind. History gives me the courage to confront corruption and descrimination head-on. I no longer shrink from oppressors or take to heart their lies as though I had to wear them like a shroud of disgrace. This is what history has done for me.
I would love to know what you feel about the history placed so readily in your hands. Which jewel in the treasure chest speaks deeply to you and why; which led to the realization that you are divinely created and therefore perfect.
- Creative Force
I have often wondered about the compelling notion that draws individuals to embrace the idea that the creative force in the universe is female rather than male. My own beliefs have certainly taken on a life of their own since the moment I put that first seed in the soil nearly sixty years ago. And I can’t deny that my convictions haven’t been ever-evolving, much like our Earth busies Herself with the forces of creation, destruction and re-creation throughout all of infinity. In all of my years of study, this holy trinity of process has always gone on, where revelation was constantly pulled apart and rebuilt into greater and greater understanding of the holistic and mystical nature of the primordial Mother Goddess, the Earth.
Even as a child I found the male god of prevailing belief something of a snob, always a “my way or the highway” sort of guy, a bit too cold and illogical for my taste. If such an entity created the extraordinance of diversity on this planet why then was so much of it confined to the “do not enter” box? I also thought that the lofty mysticism that few if any of us could comprehend was a bit beyond the pale, big empty talk designed to make most of us just feel stupid. So even as a child I found something profoundly honest and tangible about dirt. Dirt was the spirit of abundance: food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and ceremony. It was complex and mystical yet I could hold that mystery in my hand. It had substance and texture. I could examine it and as I did so I could contemplate its wonder and smell its bouquet. For me, that was the heart of the Goddess. Out of that heart grew a rainbow of vitality and expression of worship from hunting and gathering to the pageantry of human sexuality. And such worship was entrenched in the belief that our kaleidoscopic displays were the very energy that fueled the regenerative power of our Earth and in doing so She provided us with an abundance of food. In its simplest terms this is not an idea shrouded in incomprehensible mystery, its right there for each of us to touch, smell, taste, see, and hear, a thing tangible with which we can interact. The misconception that Goddess worship has its foundation in anything other than the Earth or is nothing more than a re-run of the old male god with a new agenda is fundamentally wrong. The Earth and the abundance She provides is not just a sidebar to this faith, it is the faith, the outgrowth of which took many forms.
- Living Frugally
The spiritual devotion to the Earth that tribal people cultivated upheld the principles of living frugally, never taking more than was needed, and giving back more than was taken. They believed that such a way of life was deeply spiritual and brought abundance to their people, by no means defined as society defines it today. The hunter-gatherers of antiquity have a great deal to teach us about the stewardship of our planet and each other. My belief that they did indeed have it right remains my inspiration for this extensive website.
- Power Objects
Every object, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, holds an element of power. But objects, even if merely everyday objects can accumulate power as well. I often think about my grandmother’s spoon. My grandmother was blind by the time she was about twenty and yet everyday she cooked. Her spoon hung in a specific place next to her stove and she used it everyday. One side of that spoon is flat from daily stirring because of the way she held it. That spoon is utterly infused with the spirit of her life. And although she left long ago I can hold that spoon and see her life, listen to her words, and continue to learn from her wisdom. That is a power object.
I have now-old plumes and things I used in rituals long ago concluded. They were certainly powerful to begin with but now these plumes contain detailed memories of all the rituals of which they found themselves a part. I can re-live those rituals in detail every time I hold them. I can hear the songs and the prayers, smell the fire, and the perfume of the smudging herbs. That is a power object.
Don’t be fooled into buying what is sold as a power object. It is not. Wait for one to come your way, wait until you have earned one. The seemingly insignificant pebble you might have picked up along the way and finds itself in your pocket all the time has more power than anything you could buy. That simple, little stone has become the repositiory of your life, your thoughts, your dreams, your spirit. That is a power object.
News for me is whatever happens to be floating around in my awareness at any given moment. I am thinking about the elders I have known and the tribal cultures in which they were born. The perception among tribal people is exquisite in its simplicity. Their world is older, more complete than ours but it is not a complex world or one shrouded in mystery. And yet it is one singularly magnificent in its spirit of devotion.
In the decades I spent among tribal elders I never questioned their wisdom. Western culture would have preferred that I had and act as an inquisitor into the nuances of every detail. I simply couldn’t because I understood in my bones that within ancient cultures elders had the last word. And like it or not their words stood as absolute, as law, and were final.
I invested my heart and soul into tribal elder systems as the community that spoke most deeply to me. And in doing so I had to learn to bite my tongue and accept whatever those elders dished out. It was often frustrating. Their words sometimes angered me or hurt my feelings but I endured it because I wanted to know and embrace “the old way”. It required that I set aside whatever contemporary cultural had taught me when it conflicted with more ancient thinking. In time it changed me. Those old ones taught me to think and perceive as they did, to live in good way. And I remain in their debt forever. Their generosity of spirit gave me the life for which I had longed.