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  5. It’s a question I’ve been asked many times but it’s not something I’ve written about here on the blog so here goes! I’ll admit it. I’m a melody and riff man. I like pretty much straight forward music with a hook in the chorus and a great melody or riff. I stray into prog rock a little with a life-long love of Yes, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd, but newer prog bands like Dreamtheater and Opeth? No. They leave me cold. I really want to like them because the musicianship is amazing, but the songs just send me to sleep, and watching them live is a grind. So it won’t come as any real surprise that the first thing that comes to me in a new song is the melody. I’ll sit with the guitar (or bouzouki, or mandolin) and just play chords, singing nonsense over the top. After a while I’ll sing a melody or a chord sequence that pricks up my ears. I’ll go back and then build on that. Ask questions. Is that a verse? A bridge? The chorus? Decide where in the song it might be best placed, then play it through to see where the melody naturally goes next. Eventually, I’ll have a verse tune, a chorus tune, maybe a middle eight or bridge to go with it. Out comes the iPhone and I’ll record it. The melody might stay on my phone for years before I go back to it, ask the question “what does this melody say to me?” and it might become a song on a new album. So the melody first, then the lyrics. Almost all my songs have been written that way apart from two – Only Human and Pagan Ways. Only Human was a rant. I was going to write about what led to that song being written but as I typed it just brought me down. I don’t want you to feel that way reading this article, so I’ve deleted it. But the words of that song came first, then the tune, and writing it was pretty cathartic. Sometimes, particularly with the songs from the Y Mabinogi albums, the tune and lyrics come together. I already know what the song needs to say because of where it comes within the tale. I also know the feeling I want from the song for the same reasons. So with those songs, it feels like the initial ‘noodling’ is getting ready for a hunt, and then I head off and literally hunt the melody. Some of the lyrics will often arise as that hunt takes place. Writing the Y Mabinogi songs has been, and continues to be, a magical process which has often felt as if another hand is guiding me towards the prey. With songwriting, you are constantly switching between the left and right sides of the brain. If possible, to keep the flow, it’s important to spend more time in the right side, the creative side. But then come the rhymes. Making rhymes is often a left hand, logical, process. It can influence the entire line of the song and can change it which is obviously a part of the creative process, but that rhyme can sometimes drag you out of the flow if it takes too long. So there is no shame in using a good rhyming dictionary. I always have Clement Wood’s Complete Rhyming Dictionary to hand, just in case. Some songs take a few hours. Some literally land on the page in what seems like minutes. Others take weeks, months, or years to complete. They’re the ones that need to stay in the cauldron and bubble away until the spell is ready. The Awen is an elusive mistress. I can’t force a song. If I sit down with the whole intent to write a song I often just spend time looking at a blank screen and flashing cursor. I probably could just write, but songwriting is a part of who I am, it reflects how I see the world, life, my spiritual path, so above absolutely everything else it needs to be honest. That’s how it’s always been for me, and it’s how it’ll always be. I hope you enjoyed that, and if it’s inspired you to write a song, get strumming! View the full article
  6. Earthdragon

    What do you get from your paganism?

    Hi Moonsmith, I wonder if you could flesh this out a bit? How does your action contribute to your beliefs and where does the tenets of your "right action ", as you put it, come from if the actions are a not a result of any of your beliefs?
  7. A blessed release from the week’s rain but the chalk still wet underfoot. Slippery too, as we walked along the old track to the South Downs. A blue sky battling with scattered clouds, and rooks sharing their wisdom on the wing, calling to those walkers below that it was time. The Old One was here early. No white cloak across the land just yet, yet Her breath was beginning its late Autumn exhale, and it wouldn’t be long before that gentle breeze became a storm, stripping yellow and red leaves from dozing trees to leave them bare and reaching into darker skies. The hill not far now. Flat. Round. People already there. Voices. And the Long Man standing in the Door to the Otherworld. The door open wide and the veil thin. Voices of those gathered on the hill joined by voices of those whose eyes looked through the veil, and the mists. A circle of people then. A circle conjured as the green turns to grey, grass becoming iron, and the hill, the hollow hill shape-shifts becoming the Great Cauldron with feet upon its rim. Before living eyes the mists of Annwn bubble and shift. And beyond, eyes of those who had gone before see those they love, those who love them. The Spirits called, the prayer spoken, the Awen sang – from The Deep it came. Safety. Community. Names spoken into the air, names of those gone before, names said out loud. Never forgotten. Tears. Helping hands. So many names. From the four directions, food, offerings, love, shared. The Bards speak their words. Truth. Honour. Remembering. An Oath of Peace then, from lungs, into breath, into words, spreads out from the hollow hill, from the rim of the Cauldron, across the land, and the Awen is sung. The Spirits thanked, the circle uncast, returns to the land, and the Cauldron withdraws its mist and withdraws its iron rim, turning grey to green as grass lay underfoot once more. But look now… Can you still see it there, just below the surface, spinning slowly, the veil still thin? The rooks know. They see it, and they call out to Her, to bring the first storms, to exhale, as the Earth sleeps, and Winter’s cloak moves ever closer. So may it be. View the full article
  8. Stonehugger

    What do you get from your paganism?

    I think what I get most is a sense of oneness with what's around me. That's almost always a good thing in the sense that whatever is happening to me is happening to everything else and obviously I react differently to the way a rock or tree would react but it's clearly my responsibility to manage my reactions to things. It's a lot like the old saying that sailors can't control the weather but they can trim their sails. The downside is that very occasionally I can get dragged down by situations I don't understand at all. I worked in a troubled building for a while - I never worked out what the problem was but even another colleague with no pagan leanings could sense something. He thought the building must be on the site of a cemetery but that wouldn't have troubled me. On balance, being at one with my surroundings is very much more beneficial than not and it's something I work at.
  9. Ellinas

    What do you get from your paganism?

    You beat me to it. There is no conceptual basis to assert that some people may not get out of their paganism a label which has some meaning or usefulness to them. So, querying whether that was what was meant in this instance was, as far as I can see, entirely within the ambit of the thread title. Still, it's not an issue - save insofar as it fascinates me how the same words can be interpreted in different ways.
  10. Earthdragon

    What do you get from your paganism?

    Seems like a clarification of what you get out of your paganism, Rosa, which is the title of the thread.
  11. Rosa

    What do you get from your paganism?

    I see. Having moderated a forum for many years I have got into the habit of keeping to the threads subject title. That’s where labels come into their own. 😜
  12. Ellinas

    What do you get from your paganism?

    That's clearer. It just struck me that one way of reading your previous post was that you attached some importance to the label, so I was curious as to whether that was what you meant and, if so, what was that importance.
  13. Rosa

    What do you get from your paganism?

    The way I live my life is important to me, I don’t think labels are necessary. My lifestyle is more pagan than anything else descriptively, which is what I understood the threads subject to be about.
  14. Ellinas

    What do you get from your paganism?

    Not sure how to interpret this correctly. Is being able to call yourself pagan of importance to you?
  15. Ellinas

    Book recommendations please?

    Woman's journey...man's journey... a journey's still a journey...
  16. Rosa

    What do you get from your paganism?

    I have experienced other religions and philosophies, I’ve tried to find whatever I was looking for at the time only to find too much emotional blackmail as in “if you do this...this will happen” and “if you don’t do that something else will happen”. This is not for me. I like to be able to love, think and act with caring throughout my life, being pagan enables me to do this and living this way enables me to call myself a pagan.
  17. Rosa

    Book recommendations please?

    I’ve read some of his work and enjoyed it. I also read Mutant Message From Down Under by Marlo Morgan which was excellent and would recommend it to anyone even though it’s basically about a woman’s journey.
  18. Ellinas

    Book recommendations please?

    Gibran wrote quite a bit of other stuff as well, which is worth a read. And you might like Paolo Coelho, though I find some of his writings better than other. "Manuscript Found In Accra" I would probably have liked better if I had not read Gibran's "The Prophet", which makes Coelho's version seem, to me at least, like a weaker version of the same concept.
  19. Rosa

    Book recommendations please?

    As much as I’d like to I don’t think I could choose 3 books. I moved house recently and there were many comments about the boxes of books! I have to agree with Ellinas about Khalil Gibran, it taught me such a lot about life and myself, always a good start whichever path we follow eventually.
  20. Earthdragon

    What do you get from your paganism?

    Its very broad. It has helped me connect and communicate and also enables inner creativity in an individual sense. Life has many more potential options and opportunities due to my practise.
  21. Earthdragon

    Book recommendations please?

    How is the reading going CeeCee?
  22. I remember when the ghosts seemed to be everywhere. Back in my childhood, before hand-held bright screens and cars, when the world was slower, riding my bike into town, past the old fire station next to the park. Old, dark, and empty. I used to pretend a vampire lived in the darkness. Which was ok during the day, but walking past at night was more problematic. It would watch me through the broken glass. I was sure it knew where I lived. Just above the clouds, it might follow me home. Then, at night, scratching at my windows. Behind the curtains. A shadow. Across the road was the cemetery. It seems strange that a cemetery bordered the high street. The wooden archway and steps lead up to the church. And just inside, a stone angel. Reaching up to the heavens. In the dark, her eyes, yes, I’m sure that they used to follow me as I rode by. I never stopped to find out. Nor if her hands had moved away from the heavens, and now reached out for me, her mouth filled with teeth. There were ghosts back then. Derelict houses stood boarded up, waiting to be demolished both in and outside of town. The old fire station was only one of them. There seemed to be so many and, in truth, the boarded doors and windows did nothing more than act as an invitation to us restless children. Creeping inside, shoes crunching shattered glass that broke the silence of the damp-smelling interior. Slowly walking up creaking old wooden stairs, and opening doors to floorless rooms – beams over open drops through ceilings. Light straining to expose hidden corners and cupboards. The attics were the best. Sometimes there were closed boxes, and sometimes old newspapers, brittle with age, told of the lives once lived by those whose feet once stepped upon carpet, and whose lips sipped tea. Did the chairs move by themselves? Did those old doors close on ancient hinges that creaked in the darkness? And when those long-dead feet fell upon the shattered glass, did they fall silently. Did they float just inches from the floors? I think they may have. At the top of the town stood an old hotel. It was once named after the Highwayman upon whose Heath the town had expanded. The Highwayman Inn had its own ghosts. Later to change its name to the Birch Hotel in an effort to help dispel its haunted reputation. And further out of town, a crossroads. There, in the ground the remains of the Gibbet that had taken the lives of criminals. Jacob was one of the last to die there. The wood was taken away, but some found its way to the old pub along the road. The Royal Oak, locally known as Jacob’s Post. Yes, the stories were told there too, as the wood above the fireplace whispered it’s memories into the brick and mortar, and the ears of those who could hear, to tell its stories. Then there were the open spaces. Chalky and wet, sometimes filled with household waste. The odd fridge, door open, inviting. I can still hear my mother’s voice warning me how a young boy once hid inside one, the door closing. He wasn’t found for months. I never went close to those fridges. Now, when I occasionally return to my old home town, the place I grew up, I see the new houses that were built on that waste ground. New footpaths lay across the old chalk upon which a bomb fell during WW2, and upon which I played as a child. Others live there now, and as they walk along those new paths, eyes fixed on bright screens, barely acknowledging each other, except to pause and move out of the way. Others begin to walk with them, as the veil thins, and the ghosts walk among us once more. View the full article
  23. In my previous article, I wrote that the spoken word for Y Mabinogi, The Third Branch had been recorded. Some of you got very excited about that and asked me through PM when the album would be released, so maybe there was a little confusion about how far along the process I’d actually progressed. I wrote the spoken word story back in June, told once more from the perspective of Pryderi. As I read through the words I could see where the songs of the album might go, but things are never completely clear until the story has been recorded, and I listen back to it in its entirety. As I said before there were a number of false starts that were stopped through outside interference beyond my control, but then I went into the studio after 9pm, and suddenly it was like the Spirit of Pryderi said, “Yes, this is the time”. The full story is in that previous article. I left it a day or so before I listened back. I made myself a nice cuppa, went into the studio, shut the door, and pressed play. I have to tell you, my friends, that hearing it spoken is so different from writing it, or reading it on the page. Suddenly the tale came alive to me in a way I’d never felt before, and part of that was the message about exactly where the songs and incidental music would go. I also became very aware that the orchestral intro music that had opened the previous two Branches simply wouldn’t work with this Branch. The story opens at the exact point where the Second Branch ends – with seven weary survivors of the war, having just buried Bran’s head beneath the White Mount in London, making their way back to Arberth. They are broken, exhausted. Yet one of those seven survivors is the Primary Chief Bard of the Island of the Mighty, Taliesin. In the translations of the tale he is barely mentioned at all, but he is there, travelling with the group. What kind of conversations might these travellers have had? How might the tales and songs from the honey-tongued lips of Taliesin been a source of strength and comfort to those who had lost so much in the war? What Bardic spells did he weave to heal the wounds, both inner and bodily, of those heroes? And so begins the first song. The song I’m about to write. As Taliesin finally bids his farewell to the other travellers so he begins to sing, and as he rides away so the land, the birds, the animals and trees begin to join in with his song. His green cloak, embroidered with hare, salmon, bird and grain flowing behind him, as he steps into the forest, out of sight, yet the song continues, sung by the land itself. At the moment the provisional title is The Stones and Bones of Albion, but we shall see if the Awen agrees… View the full article
  24. They were back on Sunday. The two crows. As I walked up the small incline that lead out of the field to the edge of the Adur river, there they were. Once more they landed before me, then took off, played on the wind, landed, walked a little ahead of me. Oscar completely ignored them – far more interested in the river, or finding a stick. I’d been to the river many times since they last behaved in that way, but here they were again. I had written the spoken word sections of the Third Branch of the Mabinogi many months ago but just couldn’t find a quiet enough couple of hours to record them. The spoken word sections of the Second Branch had been recorded whilst the white cloak of the Beast from the East lay outside. Snow covered the roads, and very little traffic passed by our house that day. It was perfect. I had tried a number of times to record the Third Branch but then the sand-blasting of the power station chimney started, or a moped or a petrol-head with their huge exhaust went by, or a slow train, or a light aircraft from Shoreham airport. They were the worst. I could hear them miles away, very slowly getting closer, the passing by achingly slow, until the sound lessened and I could start again, only for another to come along moments later. It just didn’t work. But there they were. The two crows. Looking up at me saying, “Come on! Get on with it! Finish our tale!” So at about 9.00 pm on Sunday night, I headed into the studio to try again. It was much quieter, most of the cars had stopped, the light aircraft had been grounded, just a few trains. I read the tale and recorded it. But just as before, the first time I read it through the pace of my words were just that little bit too fast. So I started again and slowed right down. I finished at about 11.15 pm and didn’t listen to it back straight away. Yesterday afternoon I did the editing and I have to say I’m so pleased with the result! The pacing was right and, although I had written the words, hearing it through as you will when you get it brought the tale so much more to life for me. I can hear where the incidental music and the songs will go. The project has now truly begun. It’s taken some time. By this time last year I was just about to invite some friends over for a ‘beta test’ night, with them listening to the nearly-completed album. I’m nowhere near that moment yet, but it’s so good to feel the cogs working again. I have a tune for the first song, and I think the melody of that song might influence the theme and opening orchestral movement too, but we shall see how that goes. My friends, Y Mabinogi – The Third Branch, is under way! View the full article
  25. The spiritual path is one of self discovery and exploration. There are times that this path may be smooth and easy, and there are other times that the path is challenging and difficult. The good news is that, no matter how hard the path may become, we aren't walking it alone. We can court relationships with deities, ancestors, and Fae to give support and guidance. Here, What Is Remembered Lives author Phoenix LeFae provides steps for reaching out to our spiritual allies. View the full article
  26. UK Pagan

    [Llewellyn] Why We Fear Death

    Someday, each and every one of us will die, a fact that we have lived with for millennia. So, if we know that it will eventually happen, why do we live with so much fear of death? Tomás Prower, author of Morbid Magic, presents five reasons that we fear death. View the full article
  27. Take our prayers of thanksgiving, to life and John Barleycorn I love reading other peoples’ blogs on the internet and recently two articles came up in my RSS feed that got me thinking. The first was Your Favourite Sabbats (or Sabbats by the Numbers) by Jason Mankey, and the other was Ranking the Eight Pagan Sabbats – the Story in the Numbers by John Becket. The results of their statistical research pretty much matched what we have experienced with the Anderida Gorsedd open rituals that me and Cerri have been running at the Long Man of Wilmington since the Spring Equinox of 2000 – that the Summer festivals drop in numbers, with the lowest readership/attendance being Lughnasadh and the Autumn Equinox. The conclusion that both Jason and John arrive at is that the most popular Sabbats are those that have cross-cultural connections, ie Samhain/Hallowe’en, Winter Solstice/Christmas, Spring Equinox/Easter, with Beltane in there too. I absolutely agree this could be a very valid reason, but I think that connection, erm, connection goes deeper. Let me tell you a story. Many years ago I organised an interfaith conference based on the Environment. Lots of people turned up, most of them Pagans, to listen to speakers from a variety of religious backgrounds. Lunch on the first day was a simple affair, just a jacket potato with a number of toppings on offer. After queuing, and with jacket spuds ready, we all sat down to eat. Everyone tucked in, all chatting about the morning’s presentations. All except one person who, I noticed had stopped, and with eyes closed, said a very short prayer over his food before he too tucked in. He was a Christian Priest. In a room full of spiritual people, many of whom were from Earth-centred paths, it was only that Christian Priest who openly gave thanks for their food. Why am I telling you this? I think that the popularity of certain festivals is certainly due to their connections with other festivals celebrated in mainstream society, but I also think those less popular festivals are there on list order because of a DIS-connect with their purpose, and those are the festivals of thanksgiving and the Harvest. Lughnasadh may well be connected with the God Lugh, but Lammas is all about the cutting of the grain harvest. The crop that for many, many centuries meant survival or death. Bread. The staple food for generations depended upon a good harvest. People came together from across the area to help, paid work of course, but they too knew the importance of the crop, and this was not really that long ago. The Autumn Equinox too, with the fruit harvest, and hops. Both vital to the wellbeing and future of the area. Hop picking was a big thing that attracted workers to farms and not only benefitted the farms, but also the wider community who depended upon those days for money and work. But those two festivals, of all of the Sabbats, are linked very much to the European climate, in fact to quite a small area within the continent. So if where you live the grain isn’t falling to the harvester around the 1st August, then of course your connection to that festival won’t feel as strong. If the berries and hops aren’t ready, or have already been gathered, by the Autumn Equinox, then that festival too may not feel so connected. Then of course there is our disconnection to the food we eat. And this takes me back to that interfaith conference all those years ago. When we can buy strawberries in the Winter our connection to the seasons through the growing of our food is broken. The sense of our dependence on the fruits of any harvest is tenuous. Unless you are a keen gardener or have an allotment where you grow your own food the falling of the grain for bread and beer is almost irrelevant – bread and beer are available all year round. Our harvest really occurs on payday. That’s when we really see the results of our work, and then we go and use that money to buy our food, gathered by others, more than likely in completely different countries, and out of local season. No surprise then that the two particular festivals whose prime purpose is seasonal thanksgiving, to the Spirit of the Fields, and the Spirit of Hedgerow, fall way down on the list of festival popularity. When I first found Paganism I was talking to a local Wiccan High Priestess about Lughnasadh. She said she had a love\hate relationship with it. She didn’t like it because she loved Spring and Summer, and Lughnasadh was the portal to the coming of the dark (I totally get that). But she loved it because, in her own words, that’s what it was all about. Everything, from the birth of the Mabon at the Winter Solstice, to his growth, meeting his lover, and the fruit of that love, Lughnasadh and the Autumn Equinox were the absolute culmination and purpose of that Journey. Those words have always stayed with me, and that is how I see them to this day. So I agree that the others have big festivals that take place in mainstream culture, but I also think that Lughnasadh and the Autumn Equinox are so much about our connection with the harvests and our food, and that connection is not naturally a part of our lives any more, that’s another reason why they don’t figure so high in the ‘Sabbat rankings’. So maybe, if this blog has spoken to you, and you’ve noticed that you could spend a bit more time being thankful for the food you eat, well, join me in taking just a moment to consider the journey the food on your plate has taken, to get to you, before taking that first bite. That simple act will be a celebration of Lughnasadh and the Autumn Equinox, and an acknowledgement of our dependence on the food we eat. Blessings of Alban Elfed my friends. View the full article
  28. Moonsmith

    Book recommendations please?

    Good luck. If you are interested in a simple layout of solo witchcraft try Marion Green's Witch Alone. Real 101 but not afraid to use the appropriate language. Some cheap second hand copies plus Kindle. You talk of respect well, unlike several "Intro to Wicca" books that I know of, Green's book does not contain any oathbound material. I am not Wiccan and I know that much of the oathbound material is available on the web anyway but I would never reference it, never mind use it. Travel well.
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