I live by the river Wye, Afon Gwy, one of the mother rivers of Britain. she rises on one side of the Plynlimon mountain and flows down to join with her sister, Hafren, better known as the Severn. The Afon Hafren, the longest river in Great Britain and rises at around 2000ft on the other side of the mountain of Plynlimon and flows for 220 miles eventually joining with sea, and the Wye, at the Bristol Channel.
The Wye is the fifth longest river in Britain and forms much of the boundary between Wales and England … the Shadowlands, Twilight lands between the worlds where I live. Journeys have shown me I have deep links to this part of the Land, Clas Myrddyn, Merlin’s country that go back over 4000 years – it’s a humbling thought :-).
The Wye is a mighty river and in full spate can be quite overwhelming … as can all goddesses, especially Mother Goddesses. I love her dearly and she is asking for people to come and work with her … hence this page.
Wye’s Woman comes from her – I am her woman, as are many who work hereabouts. I sit at her banks and climb her hills, walk beside her. The workshops are about that. It’s a form of vision quest that’s very Celtic, we don’t just sit in one place but walk the Land, asking the Land to feed us with vision and inspiration, ideas and teachings. For the Celts, the goddess is in the Land itself as well as everywhere throughout the cosmos, not either/or but and/and, inclusive.
The workshops come out of my walking and working. I’ll take you to 8 places along the part of the Wye valley where I live, sacred places, used for thuosands of years by folk who know the Land and know the River – Earth and Water that supports us and enables us to live.
Exploring the Goddess
We’ll explore the goddess’ relationship with her Guardian, the god, how he serves her and cares for her … and we’ll learn our own relationship to her and our own way of serving and guarding her by connecting into her sacred places and listening to her. We’ll also celebrate her with ritual and bring her gifts.
The workshops are 1-day, Saturdays, close to the eight Celtic festivals of the year … Samhain, Midwinter, Imbolc, Spring, Beltane, Midsummer, Lammas and Autumn. Some of them will last through the night when we, or you individually, “sit-out” and will include Staff Singing, a method of inducing a receptive state for the Goddess to speak to us and for us to be able to hear her.
We will also be making spirit dolls and houses, dressing trees, making a group totem pole and other ritual talismans from the things around us in the Land where we work. The Goddess always gives what we need … the trick is learning to see it :-).
Cost £600 (£75/day) if booked all together
or £85/day if you book individual days.
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat … writer artistgardenershaman
Although the garden is absolutely gasping for rain – this is the dryest year since 1974 so far! – the monardas are looking gorgeous. So have the tiger Lilies :-).
Plants are amazing things, the want to grow and they do their damnedest to do so whatever is thrown at them. We have heavy cloud but it just seems to be a bit too high to rain, although you can see the clouds are full of it. I’m doing rain dances …
The holly tree at Greencombe, Porlock, Exmoor, is anciet and very magical. I’ve sat within his multi-stemmed grove and dreamed several times.
Holly is the tree of the Tánaiste – the twin and often the killer of the king.
What is a Tánaiste?
This is from wiki and may surprise you J …
The Tánaiste (Irish pronunciation: [ˈtɑːnəʃtʲə]; plural: Tánaistí [ˈtɑːnəʃtʲiː]), or, more formally, An Tánaiste, is the deputy prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach (prime minister) nominates a member of the government to the position of Tánaiste. The current Tánaiste is Mary Coughlan, TD. TánaisteIrish word for the heir of the chief ( was originally the taoiseach) or king (rí), under the Gaelic system of tanistry. Before independence, the British Viceroy was sometimes referred to in the Irish language as An Tánaiste-Ri, literally ‘the deputy king’.
However, the role of Tánaiste is far older than 1937. Two of the most famous holders of the office are Gawain who was Arthur’s Tánaiste and Gronw who was Tánaiste to Llew Llaw Gyffes. In the latter case Gronw is called to kill Llew in order to open him from being a personality-oriented brat so that he can become king, it is part of Blodeuwedd’s training of him. Blodeuwedd is the Queen of the Night and Lady of Dreams who agreed to inhabit the body made for her from nine flowers by Math and Gwydion in order to find a wife for Llew.
This is a complex story that has been much dumbed-down by Victorian and later writers who have made Blodeuwedd to be a soulless, heartless trollop who cheats on her man. Such is not at all the case. Blodeuwedd is a powerful goddess and initiator, a king-maker, one who draws us from the illusion of form into the reality of essence. Her totem, the owl, is the wise bird of legend, one who can see in the dark and the barn owl – with the heart-shaped face assigned to Blodeuwedd – is able to fly silently and to pinpoint the smallest sound with her incredible hearing. Ponder on the symbology of all that for a goddess … and for what she can see and draw out of you.
Back to the Tánaiste … the wiki piece above says the Tánaiste was the deputy-king, and indeed that was so, but what does it mean and how is it relevant to us?
second-in-command, assistant, agent, representative, helper, supporter, envoy, emissary, ambassador, negotiator, mediator … these are some of the offerings for the word deputy from the Thesaurus. All are relevant and pondering on them will give you more of an idea of what it is to be Tánaiste. Both Gawain and Gronw are these to their respective kings.
I recently gave you the story of Ragnall’s Wedding where Gawain takes on the job of marrying Ragnall in her hag-form in order to get the answer to the questions “What do women most desire?”, and so save Arthur’s life. It’s a wonderful story and shows what all beings, creatures, people want … the ability to choose. Gawain is vital to this as are his qualities of perception and generosity, and his willingness to ask, to hand over decisions to another when appropriate.
Gronw usually suffers badly at the hands of story-tellers, becoming the cuckolder, the stealer of another man’s wife, the nasty piece of work. He’s none of these things. Without him, Llew would continue in his hunting and pleasuring and never take the slightest care of the Land … and for the Celts, the Land is the Goddess who is our whole care and duty. You can see Llew, until Gronw speared him, was a complete waste of space as far as being guardian to the goddess was concerned!
Robert Graves gives the line for Tinne, in the Song of Amergin as …
This is the spear that Gronw makes, with Blodeuwedd’s help, in order to drink the blood and pierce the ego of Llew, so drawing him into his totem, the eagle, and forcing him into aloneness in the wilderness of the eagle-mountain, Mother Snowdon, to find himself as king. Without Gronw spearing him he would have been useless.
Often, the Tánaiste is also the “twin”, and his twin’s executioner as Gronw is in the this story. There are many Celtic stories of twins, usually a dark one and a light one … the ubiquitous two sides of one coin that permeates the whole of the Celtic tradition.
These two heads are the same … if you turn one upside-down you get the other. They were inscribed on coins from the Celtic period.
The relationship of Tánaiste to king is like this, they are two sides of one coin.
There is much lore about holly in the British tradition and it is a magnificent tree if allowed to grow to its full height, often 50ft.
In Celtic grammarye the Holly King is the Green Knight of “Gawain and the Green Knight”. Gawain is Arthur’s Tánaiste who, as we’ve seen, takes the king’s place in dangerous adventures. You’ll remember the story of the Green Knight coming to Arthur’s hall at Yule, carrying a holly bush as his totem, and demanding to be beheaded? Gawain complies and so incurs the duty to find the Green Knight again and allow himself to be beheaded in his turn.
I’ll do the story later.
Holly is also sacred to Llew and one of the Celtic symbols for this tree is the Flaming Spear … after Gronw’s spear that transmuted him from boy into king.
Holly is the first moon of the dark half of the year – i.e. after the midsummer solstice when the days begin to get shorter again. This is significant of the mythos of the Oak King, slain by his twin, Tánaiste, the Holly King. The Holly King then rules until the midwinter solstice when he, in his turn, is slain by his Tánaiste, the Oak King. Oak and Holly are again two sides of the same coin, the end of one cycle being the beginning of the next.
The old yuletide carol – much older than Christmas – says, “of all the Trees that are in the Wood, the Holly bears the Crown” … a good thought to finish on.
Elen Sentier … behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat … writerartistgardenershaman
They came in my teens, rustling feathers and taking up residence at the back of my already troubled mind. Drowning in unfamiliar hormones, ravaged with existential angst and doing all the things teenage folk do, this was just one insanity amongst many. I loved them, feared them, had no idea what to do with them. During A Level art I tried making owl plates in an Owl Service style, and taking owl figures from them, and sometimes that helped. I could feel the scrape of their talons, sharp along the edges of my psyche.
For a long time, the sense of owls in my head was tied up with everything I felt uneasy about. A complex, fledgling sexual identity for which I had no language, a knowledge of difference and an inherent pagan-ness I hadn’t yet found a way to explore. Too strong, too wild, too crazy and carefully trying not to get myself formally identified as insane, I did not feel safe about being an owl person for a long time.
Owls are night creatures. They are silent death, falling from the sky onto unsuspecting rodents. They swallow whole to avoid getting blood on their feathers and later cough up what they cannot digest. They are swift, lethal, beautiful. I’ve lain in the night listening to them calling from the nearby woods, a haunting sound, full of mystery and melancholy. Traditionally seen as a bit sinister, and considered bad luck if you encounter one by day, owls are challenging entities to work with. I’m a vegetarian, and more pacifist than not, but I am frequently drawn to predatory creatures.
Becoming more consciously pagan in my late teens, and learning a few handy techniques took me forwards. An opening up of my own creativity, and time spent meditating allowed me to get a lot more comfortable with the craziness in my head. I was particularly inspired by Emma Restall Orr’s ‘Druid Priestess’ which described a process of communing with other creatures and travelling with them, visualising yourself into their form. It is a form of shape shifting that (probably) happens in the mind, and I began to play with it, learning to find my wings.
Flight for me has always represented freedom, and now out of the fears of childhood, darkness feels like peace and comfort. To fly in darkness would be a lovely thing. Wind in my feathers. In Portland this year, I dreamed I was turning into an owl, which felt tremendously hopeful. A finding of wings and power.
Working with spirit is not precisely the same as working with the living, actual creature, although connecting with the latter helps the former process. It’s more about certain kinds of energy, ways of being and perceiving the world. The spirit of owl is traditionally associated with wisdom, but owls themselves aren’t excessively bright – much of their skull capacity is taken up with those huge eyes, and much of the brain is occupied with processing information from said eyes. To what extent our notions of the spirit essence of a thing is ‘real’ and to what extent just the externalising of human concepts, I can’t really say.
It wasn’t until I stopped being afraid of my own power, sexuality and craziness that the owls stopped being a source of fear and became allies. This was an important lesson. Fear puts up barriers and creates problems. Acceptance and openness paves the way to relationship and understanding. They no longer sharpen their talons inside my mind, and I have learned to close my eyes and take wing. They offer liberation, escape, and hope of better things. I do not know where they will take me next, but have no doubt it will be interesting.
The Norse step in today with an observance for Sunna, who happens to be their Goddess of the Sun. In many Germanic Traditions, she was called Frau Sonne and the day Sunday in their calendar, is actually named after her.
The Celtic Tree month of Tinne begins today, since Duir ended yesterday. Now I won’t bore you with my gibberish concerning Tinne because I actually found a very nice, neat, and well informative website on the matter. Whoever created this place, did more work than I could type up. Check It Out!
Thursday belongs to the deity Thunor, also known as Thor, who is the God of Agriculture and Thunder.
Thursday are Great for Dealing with Matters or Magical Spells & Rituals Concerning:
Passions & Desires—what do you want in your life?
Political Power—you can influence this for yourself or for what you desire on this day.
Speculating & Gambling—someone have a problem? Do you need help or luck?
Legal Matters, Treaties, Oaths—today is a great day to deal with these.
Harvests—perhaps you buy your food and this doesn’t;t matter to you but today you could make sure someone else has a good harvest. Maybe you could see to it that they have a meal for Thanksgiving?
Thursday represents The Planet Jupiter and The Element of Fire