Tag Archives: peith

Ogahm: Iolo – Yew

I – Iolo: Yew

Samhain & Winter Solstice

Metal – Lead

Planet – Saturn

  • I am the tomb to every hope
  • Death & Rebirth

Iolo is one of the five vowels of the ogham tree alphabet, representing our letter I.

Yew Cauldron

Yew is the longest lived of all British trees, holds great knowing and wisdom. It’s been the coffin-maker’s tree for ages. It was also the tree of weddings, the bright red yew-berries were thrown as good-luck charms over newlyweds, offering their sweetness.

Normally I would talk about this tree at Samhain but I saved it for winter solstice this year. Here in Britain this year we have snow, lots of it, an unusual occurrence for us for the past 20+ years. Now global warming is really cranking up the winters are changing and becoming more severe. No-one knows yet how the new patterns the Mother is making in the weather will pan out, we may get a set of hard winters and then a set of wet, soft ones … we must wait on her and see what she gives.

In case you didn’t know, Solstice is 21st December. Astronomically this may be slightly different each year but for purposes of celebration many folk stay with the 21st. this year we had the added blessing of a blood-moon this morning. The energies were amazing where I lived but I couldn’t physically see much because there was a high mist covering the whole sky. I could sense the covering of the moon, the eclipse, but not see it with my physical eyes.

The 21st is the beginning of the solstice period, the period of three days when the sun appears to rise at the same point on the horizon. This is very well marked at Stonehenge, and at other less well known stone circles. Our ancestors knew …

The three day period of apparent standstill ends with the sun appearing to move forward, rise in a slightly different place on the horizon on the 25th December. In our tradition it’s called Sun-Return and signifies the birth of the King. In early mediaeval myth here in Britain this became the birth of Arthur but before that it was the birth of the Mabon, the eternal child who brings us the journey of the soul. It’s not surprising that the Christians took it up and used it for the birth of their winter king who – like all puer eternis – shows us the soul journey.

Sun-Return is the day the sun begins to move again after the 3-day standstill of the Winter Solstice; i.e. 25th December, and is a symbol of birth out of death. Archaeologists still seem to like to say our ancestors would have been afraid the sun was never going to come back but this is a highly denigrating view. You only have to watch the sun return one year to see it will. If you’re particularly fearful then maybe it takes two or three years … so you’re probably aged five or so when you’ve got the hang of it, especially if your parents take you to rituals and give you the stories.

Besides, people who could build such accurate time-pieces as Stonehenge and the other circles would hardly be so dumb as to not know about the seasons, that would make no sense at all. Sometimes we appear to have gone backwards in our common sense and be trying to pull our ancestors back into the childish habits of thought many people live in now.

Yew’s watch-words are “I am the tomb to every hope”.

What does this mean? What is a tomb? The thesaurus offers the following …

  • Ossuary Grave Sepulchre Mausoleum Burial place Charnel house Necropolis,

A place where things/people are buried after they have died. In the case of ossuary it is a place of bones, a charnel house where the relics – the bones which take perhaps millions of years to decompose – are stored. The word necropolis refers to a city of the dead, a physical vision of the place where the ancestors live. It makes some sense of the habit the Christians picked up of “relics of saints”, the bones. They again use the idea from the far more ancient pagan tradition of keeping a small part of the body an ancestor had once worn as a link back to the ancestors. Unfortunately they mostly don’t know about this tradition and meaning, however the innate human knowing does usually get some sort of a handle on it.

But why the tomb of hope? This can sound frightening to many. Hope … what is this? The thesaurus offers lots of possibilities for this word …

  • Confidence Expectation Optimism Anticipation Faith
  • Chance Likelihood Possibility Potential
  • Desire Aspiration Dream Plan Wish Goal Yearn Long Look forward to

Hmm … what do you make of all that?

And then there is the Greek story of Pandora’s Box. The story goes that

Pandora, whose name means “giver of all” or “all-endowed”, was the first woman on Earth. Zeus command Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, to create her, which he did using water and earth. The other gods granted her many gifts – beauty from Aphrodite, persuasiveness from Hermes, and music from Apollo.

After Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus, Zeus sought reprisal by handing Pandora to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus. Pandora was given a jar that she was ordered not to open under any circumstances. Despite this warning, overcome by curiosity, Pandora opened the jar and all the evils contained within escaped into the world. Scared, Pandora immediately closed the jar, only to trap Hope inside.

This story is very like the creation of Blodeuwedd by Gwydion and with perhaps som of the same purposes. Hope is a funny, tricky thing. W often say things like, “my hopes were dashed”, “there’s no hope”. Hope can turn very sour and evil when we have pinned all our faith on it and it doesn’t come to pass as we expected … as we’d hoped!

This takes me to a gift I was given many years ago. One of my teachers told me he went into every situation “full of expectancy but without any expectations”. Do you get that?

He is open to anything that may come but without pinning his own ideas, wants, needs, expectations on it. He leaves room for the universe to be, he walks the universe’s path rather than trying to constrict the universe into walking the path of his own small desires.

So the watchwords of the Yew make some sense now?

If we bury our little personality hopes, desires, wants, then we make room for the big gifts the universe wants to offer us. The yew takes in these petty personal desires and composts them for us, buries them, allows them to decompose and go back into their constituent atoms so they can be remade anew into the good things that Life, the Universe and Everything really needs.

It also makes sure we don’t try to make everything live by our own scripts. We put space and boundaries around ourselves and allow others to be different. We can still grumble about the difference – inside out own space! – as long as we leave space for others.

So we put our hopes into the tomb the yew provides for us and go out to find the new path.

This is the death and rebirth thing of this time of year, of the going down of the sun and his/her return after the three days, to begin a new cycle, to begin the stirrings of springtime, of the herbaceous plants who demonstrate this so beautifully for us by dying down into the ground over the winter and then springing back up out of the soil as the seasons change.

Ponder on all this for the season of Sun-Return. I’ll talk more about the planet Saturn and the metal Lead later on today.

Ogham: Ruis – Elder

The moon-month for Ruis is  25 Nov – 23, the time of the Winter Solstice.

Elder is the tree of doom … Tree of the Cailleach, Hag, Crone

It is a witch-tree, along with rowan and blackthorn, associated with death, magic, magic wands and enchantment. It’s a chancy tree as we say in Britain, one to be very careful with.

Its berries are black, carry the black cup of forgetfulness. This is forgetfulness of the little self, the personal self.

If we do not learn to forget ourselves, to put our personal needs behind those of the planet, then we bring doom onto all, look around the world now, think about the harm that has been wrought by human selfishness … how humans consider all things must be for our good and trying to make sure that only the things we want exist or happen. The unfortunate biblical phrase “gave dominion over” suggests to most folk that god gave us this planet as a kiddies playground and that it’s fine if we pull the wings off flies, etc.

Elder Berries

Take all these thoughts into your work with the spirit of Ruis and see what comes.

  • Doom, Kismet, Karma, Fate, Destiny, Luck, Fortune, Chance
  • How do these words relate to the old word geas, the word for duty, one’s soul-job, life-job?

Take these words into a sit-with to bring you closer to the essence of Ruis.

The Elder is again about endings and beginnings, maturity. Although the Elder is easily damaged, it recovers and is rejuvenated easily.

The Elder is also strongly connected with the workings of the Faer. The soft wood has a lightweight core that can be pushed out to create a hollow tube – perfect for a Faerie flute!

Elder was also planted near dairy barns, in the belief that its presence would keep the cows in milk, and prevent collected milk from spoiling.

Elder Flowers

The flowers and inner bark are famous for their therapeutic qualities often brewed to fight fever, cough, and sore throats. The flowers make excellent wine and champagne. The berries are very good for a cordial that helps with winter colds and such as well as being an lovely drink in its own right.

I make elder-flower cordial every spring and always keep a bottle to be opened at Midwinter and drunk over the time of the solstice – from 20th to 25th December. The 25th December is Sun-Return, when the sun again appears to move forwards after his standstill from 22-24 December. I use this to remind me that death and rebirth are two faces of one coin. As the sun arrives at the shortest day so he pauses, waits for the three days, then moves on ensuring that the light increases again. It is a time of the rebirth of Sun, a time of new beginnings.

Hopi Prophecy …

I came across this prophecy again today as I was editing this piece … it’s very apposite.

The 6 things to consider are exactly what I’ve been saying to myself since the autumn equinox. And the last line, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” is a fundamental part of the Rainbow Warriors course. I’m glad to be reminded of this now as we come up to Sun-Return. The Rainbow Warriors are the 144,000 warriors of the Rainbow … the sum of the petals in the seven chakras that are the life within each of us. We are indeed the warriors who can save the Earth, and we are the ones we have been waiting for.

This knowing, nouse, goes all around the Earth, from the ancient eastern sutras, the Hopi, and the Celts … and everywhere else throughout the world.

The prophecy …

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered …

  • Where are you living?
  • What are you doing?
  • What are your relationships?
  • Are you in right relation?
  • Where is your water?
  • Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of
the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a
halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

–The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation

Work for Ruis

I think taking the following, from the prophecy, and sitting with them, working with them, is a very useful at this time. They are all about taking a clear-sighted (clairvoyant) look at where you are and then asking Otherworld’s opinion on how appropriate this is for you now.

  • Where are you living?
  • What are you doing?
  • What are your relationships?
  • Are you in right relation?
  • Where is your water?
  • Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

Where are you living?

This is more than just your physical house-address.

Are you living in your …

  • Body? Do physical things rule you?
  • Feelings? Are you pink & fluffy?
  • Thinking? Are you a head-case?
  • Intuition? Are you off with the fairies?

I chose some tough examples of where you might be to give you an idea of what I’d like you to think about when you do this exercise. It will undoubtedly link, thread, to you physical abode as well but don’t be narrow and simplistic in your work on this.

What are you doing?

Again, don’t just think about your job, although this will be an important aspect for your work on this subject.

Are you doing anything? Or are you just faffing about, stuck on the fence, not doing anything really, just marking time?

What might you be doing?

What would make your heart sing? This is really important! Likely it’s your soul-job and so very necessary for you to get in touch with … and right now is a really good time!

What are your relationships?

Oooo! This is a tough one! We all come acropper here, probably several times in a lifetime. And we are all very touchy and tetchy about having anyone say we’re getting our relationships all round the backs of our necks.

Who do you have relations with?

  • Husband/wife/partner?
  • Children?
  • Boss?
  • Staff?

And now we come to the less well-known ones …

  • Your home – the place where you live, that you are guardian to
  • Your garden – ditto
  • The animals who live with you

o   And what about all the ones who are squatters in your home … mice, spiders, rats, flies, fleas, bed-bugs, bats …

o   And the germs, microbes, viri, bacteria, etc. …

  • Then there’s your car, bike, mode of transport
  • The neighbours
  • The trees and plants around you
  • Your furniture, fridge, curtains …

Hmm … had you thought of all those are part of what you have relations with?

It could be quite a long session, this one, where you first of all need to say Hi to all the things you’ve been ignoring for the past umpteen years …

Are you in right relation?

And are you in the right, the appropriate relations with all of these things?

If you weren’t even aware there could be a relationship then that was likely a bit off for a start, so you’ll need to do some mending with those things.

Where is your water?

Ha! Another deep one.

Did you know that you are about 70% water?

So where is your water?

And then there’s the water that enables you to live … it comes from the tap? Yes … but where does it come from before that? And what’s been done to it along the way, before it gets to you? Are these good things?

Some of us are still fortunate to have our own springs, water that bubble up from the land where we live. This is sacred. All water is sacred. The Earth, Terra, is called the Blue Planet because, from space, the enormous masses of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans dominate what you see. Earth has a fantastic amount of water, it’s what enables life as we know it here.

So … where is your water?

Know your garden

As a gardener, this is just so important to me but it’s not just about a physical plot of soil.

Garden – the Persian word for garden is paradise. What is a paradise?

  • Utopia, rapture, joy, delight, nirvana, ecstasy, bliss, heaven

Take these words into a sit-with and see what gifts they bring you.

Truth

The prophecy goes on to say …

It is time to speak your Truth.

This is often the hardest thing for us to do. Too often we fear to be ostracised if we do it and so conform! In psychology we call it living by someone else’s scripts. A sign of maturity is when we can say this is me, no matter what you say or think.

How much do you live by other people’s scripts?

The work you’ve done on the other questions will help you let go of this and speak your own truth.

Look within …

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

This comes out of finding ways to speak your own truth. All the gurus who brought you to where you are now must go. As Buddhists say … If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!

Can you understand that? It’s very important. As long as you rely on others, have gurus whose precepts you follow devotedly you are still living by other people’s scripts, however “worthy”. No guru worth her or his salt wants you to follow them, they all look forward to seeing you break away, find your own path, your own truth.

To return to the mythos I love and work within, the Arthurian one, all the knights who entered the Enchanted Forest in search of adventure – the adventure of discovering themselves – were expected to do so by finding their own way in. No knight followed a path already laid down by another knight.

Take this idea into a journey, see where you enter the Enchanted Forest, and what you find there.

Good questing on this time of Midwinter and Sun-Return.

Ogham: Peith – Guelder Rose

Peith: Guelder Rose

The Moon-month for Peith runs from 28 Oct – 24 Nov

  • The guilder rose is the tree of the feast of Samhain (31 October) and the death of the year
    • Guelder rose is one of the ancient trees of Britain. It’s also called water-elder or whitten, reminding us of the magical elder tree

Most traditions say this is the time of the reed  but I use the Guelder rose for this season and the ogham character commonly used for nGeatal.

White flowers of Guelder rose

Guelder-rose contains the important Celtic winter feast of Samhain on 31st Oct, now called Halloween.

It is the season of death and rebirth, the turning of the Celtic year and a time when the veils between worlds are very thin and often drawn aside so that we and the Fae can pass across the borders freely. It’s been a time of death for millennia in the northern hemisphere, coming as it does just after the autumn equinox. The light each day grows less and less until the sun stops and turns around at the midwinter solstice.

For those in the southern hemisphere it comes right after the spring equinox, where the light increases every day up to the midsummer solstice. Also a time of rebirth going to death.

Midsummer is a time of death, the going down of the sun and lessening of the light.

Midwinter is a time birth, the rising of the sun out of the time of darkness.

So in either hemisphere this season is about rebirth, return, change, coming again.

The thesaurus gives us the following possibilities for these concepts …

  • rebirth, reawakening, reincarnation, regeneration, renewal, revival
  • return, reappearance, reoccurrence, resume, revisit, restore
  • return, repay, pay back, reimburse, refund, give back
  • change, new beginning, new start
  • coming again, homecoming, arrival

Take each if these into your sacred space and ponder on it.

Menses

Medicinally, the Guelder rose has extensive uses, since both leaves and fruits are laxative, while its bark contains ‘scopolamine’ or “Cramp Bark”, which helps painful menstrual cramps which fives it one of its country names. It’s also called Snowball Tree; King’s Crown; High Cranberry; Rose Elder; Water Elder; May Rose; Whitsun Rose; Dog Rowan Tree; Silver Bells; Whitsun Bosses; Gaitre Berries (Chaucer’s name for the tree) and Black Haw.

The berries have anti-scorbutic properties and they turn black in drying. They have been used for making ink, a tool of scribes and bards … the poetry of the crone, the wise-one.

Guelder rose, Samhain and menstruation … not perhaps the first things to think of together. Samhain is the crone-time, the Old One, long past her menstrual years. It’s also a time of the ancestors, so what has this to do with menstruation?

The crone time is the menopause, when the wise blood no longer flows each month, the movement through the goddess’ cycle from Maiden to Mother to Crone … Inspiration, Love, Wisdom. For me, the Guelder rose takes on all three of these forms.

Maiden Mother Crone
Inspiration Love Wisdom
White Red Black

The cycle of the Guelder rose begins with the white flowers of the Maiden, Olwen of the White Track, although her more usual flower is the May or hawthorn or whitethorn. Just after Lammas the Guelder rose fruits ripen into the bright red berries of the Mother. The dried fruits – if the birds haven’t had them – go the black of the Wise One, the Crone who holds the wisdom of the ancestors. Over the winter, our Guelder rose stand leafless, its branches dark against the winter sun, sparkling with bright red berries until midwinter when all turns black in preparation for rebirth.

Red berrries of the Guelder rose

Ritual

The word ‘ritual’ comes from ‘rtu’ which is Sanskrit for menses, the word from which menstruation comes via the Greek … menus meaning both moon and power, and men is the  word for month. The womb blood which nourished the unborn child was known to have ‘mana’ or ‘breath of life’. It’s likely the traditions of blood sacrifice originate in the ‘sacrifice’ of blood that pours from women at the Moontime each month when there is no pregnancy for it to nourish. Menstrual blood is given freely and was once used to nourish the tribe or the earth in other ways.

A woman’s bleeding was, and still is by pagans, considered a cosmic event, relating and connecting to the moon, the lunar cycles and the tides. She was thought to be at the height of her power at this time, and for this reason was encouraged to spend time listening to her inner voice which would often offer suggestions and wisdom which would benefit the whole tribe. It still is a time when women can be at their most intuitive and creative. It was only later, under patriarchal rule, that the Moontime was distorted into a perception of uncleanness. Women were forced to go apart, not allowed to participate in the preparation of food for men or ceremonies and their wisdom denigrated, called lunacy and forced underground.

With the advent of Christianity the pendulum began to swing away from Goddess-centred worship and towards the patriarchal, man-based place we still largely are today. In Britain, this was made worse by the Norman conquest which relegated women to being possessions of fathers, brothers, husbands … indeed just about any male! My recent ancestors headed the movement for the Married Women’s Property Act without which women’s’ suffrage would not have happened, so I get quite passionate about this J.

Birth – Death – Rebirth

I work on all of these ideas at the time of Samhain. It’s the time of death and rebirth so invokes the white, the red and the black, the maiden, mother and crone, as all three are necessary to make the transits of death-birth.

Remember, when you are born into thisworld you die to otherworld. Then, when you die to thisworld at the end of your incarnation,  you are born again into otherworld. So the cycle goes on and on, round and round. At each spiral you take with you all that you have learned to date and go into the new life with the wisdom stored from the past ones. As part of your soul group you do the same thing, upload your life-experiences from that incarnation onto the group server so all can learn from them. So, you increase the knowing, nouse, wisdom, for everything, including the universe itself.

When we are born, with all that past wisdom available on our hard disc for the incarnation,  the trick is to learn to access it again! Samhain is a good moment for asking otherworld for help with this. The veils between the worlds are thin and drawn back at this time, good for crossing in both directions, a time to use all that otherworld offers to get more access to our useful pasts.

Discernment

And there’s another thing … we may well have had many lives, some of them will be very relevant to our current incarnation and others will be not. We need to learn discernment, how to see what is worth using now and what should stay in the cupboard for other lifetimes.

Spend this time of the Guelder rose contemplating your past. As the time of the ancestors this season offers you the opportunity to contact them, ask them to help you with which of your past lives are most relevant to where you are now in the current incarnation. This helps your ability to discern what is necessary and what is “light relief”. Many past lives can offer us pleasant memories, like a good novel or film, with a few ideas thrown in maybe. But how does it help you in your current 21st century life to remember how it was to be Cleopatra or Napoleon?  Or even one of their servants J. Oh, it may be useful, but likely it’s not.

It’s useful to ask the ancestors to help you concentrate on just one or two past lives. If you try to do a whole gamut you’ll only get even more confused!  It’s also useful to ask for two contrasting lives, so we can see ourselves in very different roles. If you feel up to it, ask for one of the lives to be one where you were a nasty person … yes, we’ve all been nasty, and it’s worth coming to terms with that!

Spend this time of the Guelder rose considering the time of crossing … crossing between the worlds, your own time of passing from this incarnation back into otherworld to train up for your next incarnation. This happens after you’ve given up all your experience in this incarnation to your soul-group – like uploading your life onto the server for your soul-group so all your soul-friends can share in the things you learned.

This will give you, gradually, a very different perspective on life in general … a very good thing for the time of the Guelder rose.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

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