This blog is part of the Shadow of the Hooded Crow website dedicated to the War Goddessses, Badb, Macha and the Morrígan whose name is Anann. I discuss various issues of interest to someone on a modern version of the Outlaw warrior path such as physical training, history, Old Irish literature, pop culture inspirations, werewolves, ecstatic trance (okay, I find that one tough to write about but I may try), the wilderness....


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Re-publication re-announcement: By Blood, Bone and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan second edition

After some mistakes were discovered  By Blood, Bone and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan was pulled from publication while they were fixed.  It is now back out and available again!  Those who want to read my essay "Musings on the Irish Goddesses of War" this is where you find it!


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn pt. 3: Of death and dog meat

When I did the first two sections of this "series" "On Saying 'No'" and "Insult and Praise as Incitement" I only touched briefly on Cú Chulainn's actual death, just to note that the two encounters discussed in those posts are not reason that the Morrígan killed him...as many claim She did.  I had noted in the first part that She was not the Badb who brought about Cú Chulainn's demise and in the second that he did not die during the Táin Bó Cúalnge and that Her "predictions" of such a death was actually to incite him. I had intended to discuss it further here, yet never finished, perhaps partially due to the loss of my own Cu, a Greyhound, shortly before starting this series and then the illness and loss of my other Greyhound. But as I again was asked about "if what you wrote was true, why did She kill him?" and, of course, "how can you worship a Goddess who would serve dog meat!?!?!?!?" I guess this is overdue. 

I did note briefly in "Musings on the Irish War Goddesses," that there is a confusion between the Morrígan and one or three Daughters of Cailitín, who CC had killed, and possibly even a third being, who might be the Morrígan or Badb or...not. (Lambert, pg. 119). PSV Lupus went into this issue a bit more in one of es essays in the same anthology (Lupus, pg. 36-38) as had both Angelique Gulermovich Epstein and Kim Heijda in their academic work (Gulermovich Epstein, Ch.2; Heijda, Ch. 4.2). However, as the alternative that it was the Morrígan/Badb who killed him is frequently repeated, I feel this needs to be as well. Especially as I do have a canine focus in my form of worship and service to the War Goddesses which makes the dog meat thing particularly negative if that were Her.

Which, of course, it wasn't! 

The problem seems to arise from the reasonable, as it happens several times in the texts (and as I discuss in "Musings," pg. 103-105), conflation of the Morrígan and Badb combined with the not so realistic idea that "Badb" always means the Goddess who is one of the Daughters of Ernmas. The name, or title, might actually be held by many beings, sometimes in the plural, and might be intepreted as meaning something like "witch." (Lambert, pg. 101; you could say Heijda's entire thesis is about exploring the variations of this title).  This notably includes one or three of the daughters of Calatín.

Calatín Dána and his 27 sons and a grandson fought and were killed by Cú Chulainn during the Táin Bó Cúalnge (TBC, pg.69-71, 209-211), his wife then gives birth two three sons and three daughters who in the end act to bring about CC's death. (Hull, pg.235-263).  It is his three daughters, one or all three called "Badb," who offer Cú Chulainn the shoulder of a hound to eat, causing him to have to break either this geis against refusing food if he went near a cooking-hearth or the one against eating dog meat. Taking it causes the hand he ate from and the leg which he put the rest under to wither, making him vulnerable and weak.(Hull, pg. 254-255)  It was, therefore, not the Morrígan at all who caused his death and certainly not She who gave him dog meat.

In fact, an Morrígan's actions in regards to Cú Chulainn's coming death was quite the opposite. The night before he goes out to his last battle, the Morrígan damages his chariot, as She did not want him to go to battle for She knew he would not come back.(Hull, pg. 254) This is not the act of someone trying to destroy the hero, but instead trying to save him. Because She did not hate him, as this never dying modern belief attests, but loved him so.  He was Her Hound!

In this story is also the Washer at the Ford, ingin Baidbi (Badb's Daughter) who mourns his coming death.(Hull, pg. 247) Both Epstein and Heijda believe She is the Morrígan or Badb, as does Lupus. (Gulermovich Epstein, Ch.2; Heijda, Ch. 4.2; Lupus, pg. 37)  I'm personally intrigued by the possibility that She is another family member, Badb's actual daughter.  However, this is largely a UPG thing to explore, with no way to truly know. Whether they are one and the same or relatives, it is clear that both the Morrígan and Badb's Daughter did not wish Cú Chulainn dead, but at one point tried to stop it and in another lamented.

The crow that lands on Cú Chulainn's shoulder is also not noted in the text to be the Morrígan; the clearest actual purpose in the tale is that a carrion bird landing indicates the hero is, indeed, dead. That it was the Goddess claimed by Hennessey, while Hull made a note that in one version it was Calatín's daughter making sure CC was dead). (Hennessey, pg. 51-52; Hull pg. 160) Yet the term is ennach, not badb (Heijda, Ch. 5, Gulermovich Epstein, Ch.2). Lupus argues that there is no reason to interpret the crow as the Morrígan, while   Epstein notes it's a valid interpretation given their relationship and notes that in Rec. 3 of the TBC the Morrígan is said to take the form of an ennach. (Lupus, pg. 36-37; Gulermovich Epstein, Ch.2).  Heijda's take is that it is clearly not the Goddess Badb, probably not the Morrígan (she is a bit more convinced of Them being different than most), is may be Catalín's daughter as Hull notes, as the daughter had appeared as a bird previously. (Heijda, Ch 5)

Myself, I still tend to agree with Gulermovich Epstein on it being the Morrígan. While to some extent this is from Gulermovich Epstein's arguments, I admit it is also a bit UPG. It makes sense that the Goddess, as his patron as I feel the evidence indicates She is, would be with him at the end.  Not to celebrate or gloat as some claim, or as the daughter of Catalín would, but to mourn, to perhaps protect him. This would mean, of course, that perhaps one thing She said in the Táin Bó Regamna truthful, but meant differently than it might seem in the context of that tale, “I am guarding your death, and will continue.”




See also: The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn: On Saying "No" 

 The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn pt. 2: Insult and Praise as Incitement

Bibliography



Angelique Gulermovich Epstein, “War Goddess: The Morrígan and her Germano-Celtic Counterparts” dissertation, University of California in Los Angeles, 1998
 

Kim Heijda, “War-goddesses, furies and scald crows: The useof the word badb in early Irish literature” thesis, University of Utrecht, Feb. 27, 2007 

WM Hennessey. “The Ancient Irish Goddess of War Revue Celtique vol 1. 1870

Eleanor Hull, “The Tragical Death of Cochulainn” (from Whitley Stokes's translation),  “The Great Defeat on the Plain of Muirthemne before Cuchullin’s Death" (from Hayes O'Grady's translation), The Cuchullin Saga in Irish Literature: being a collection of stories relating to the Hero Cuchullin, London: David Nutt on the Strand, 1898


Saigh Kym Lambert, "Musings on the Irish War Goddesses," By Blood, Bone and  Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan Nicole Bonivusto, ed,  Ashville, NC: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2014

A. H. Leahy, ed. and trans, “Táin Bó Regamna,” Heroic Romances of Ireland, Volume II London: David Nutt, 1906 Irish English

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, "The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn: A More Nuanced View of Their Relationship,"  By Blood, Bone and  Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan Nicole Bonivusto, ed,  Ashville, NC: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2014

Cecile O'Rahilly, trans., Táin Bó Cúalnge from Book of Leinster Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1967 Irish  English


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Biannual Publication Announcement - Air n-Aithesc 2

Yup we did it! With Maya St.Clair doing the bulk of the actual work.  We got issue two of Air n-Aithesc published! 

We have the art of Paul Borda, we have Maya examining what CRP methodology is, we have Irish witches discussed by Morgan Daimler, we have Ceffyl taking about developing a personal relationship with Deity, we have poetry by Finnchuill and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus and we have book reviews by Maya, Finnchuill and Blackbird O'Connell.

And yes, I have an article entitled "Muimme naFiann: Foster-mother of Heroes" where I discuss the storys of Scáthach and Finn's variously named foster-mothers...or rather where they come in in the heroes' stories as they sadly have none of their own. This is, of course, always a part of this project I'm doing here.

You can order through the website or just go to Magcloud...you can, of course, still get our first issue if you have missed it.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Warrior path training and more website updates

Many.....MANY...years ago I put together ideas for a training program for a warrior group within a larger organization which shall remain unnamed. I knew a lot of my ideas wouldn't work out, discussions of them didn't go well.  I later took the ideas, put things back in I hadn't bothered with for a group I helped start after leaving the large organization.   Nothing really came of it, no one there really wanted to bother with it either..other than me (this was stuff I was doing or wanted to do, after all).  I later took the ideas and replaced some of the cultural stuff with general liberal arts stuff and used to to develop a theoretical Sarah Connor Charm School program. At least it was theoretical until someone actually decided to do it and is going strong with it.

Bolstered by her enthusiasm, I pulled the outline out again and reworked it back for what I wanted to do for a Gaelic Pagan warrior path and added things that have come up since then and so forth. And I have now  put it up on a warrior training page on the website. It will likely be tweaked on occasion as I realize I left Outlaw warriors on the older page.
things out, should have left things out, want to word things differently, add links and what not.  I did take some of the material from the bottom of the warrior path page to the beginning of the new page and also reworked some of the historical material on the

Meanwhile, I've done some poking at Teh Project along with some other writing. The second issue of Air nAithesc is scheduled for next month with my article "Muimme naFiann: Foster-mother of the heroes” among other yummy stuff from others.   And I am continuing to get my own ass in gear training wise and need to get ready to head out for a run, in fact.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Website Updates

The past couple of weeks I have been working to fix things up around here. By here I mean the website this blog is a part of....you know this blog is for a website now right? Or rather part of my website, a section, but part of what I have been doing is working to make the Shadow of the Hooded Crow section a bit more prominent in the way t is presented on the index. There are still other sections for Gaelic Heathenry in general, where our old group section was, but I have now moved the warrior stuff I had there onto Hooded Crow.  And, of course, we still have our horse and dog sections. Homesteading has it's own blog, but right now we're not doing anything exciting enough there to post much. Right now I'm pretty focused on this
subject, really.

http://dunsgathan.net/caithream/So, I had already moved info about workshops I am looking to give, which I may be doing privately soon, onto Hooded Crow, but now have moved my page about the warrior path, and expanded it a bit for some information on the Outlaw war bands. I might even split that up and do more on them, not sure yet.

I also finally put up a page about the War Goddesses the site is dedicated to.  Imagine that!  Of course, that's sort of what I was doing when I ended up writing "Musings on the Irish War Goddesses"...you know, the one in By Blood, Bone and Blade (which is temporarily out of production, but should be available in a second edition soon). Being concise is not easy when talking about Them, but I tried.

I put one link to the main site here, but you can also go to the individual pages through the menu up top. I'm done sitting on my butt for awhile I have horses to see and dogs who want to go for a run. ~;) 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Publication Announcement: By Blood, Bone and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan

The much awaited for anthology for an Morrígan, By Blood, Bone and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan edited by Nicole Bonvisuto, has just been released by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.I have an essay in this, "Musings on the Irish War Goddesses." I have yet to get my copy, but I am anxious to see some of what else is in there, especially P. Sufenas Virius Lupus's offerings...of course, I'm most intrigued to see his take on Her relationship with Cú Chulainn. ~;)
http://neosalexandria.org/bibliotheca-alexandrina/current-titles/by-blood-bone-and-blade-a-tribute-to-the-morrigan/

This comes while I'm trying to finish another article for Air n-Aithesc which is not unrelated...because everything I write pretty much is related these days. I can't even begin to write anything not related. This is bringing up all the "OMGs, I would do that so differently, I know so much more now (it's nearly 2 years since I finished that essay), what was I even thinking?...." This is not helping me feel qualified to finish what I'm writing now, either.  ~:p

And that has been a big part of why I haven't gotten much out. There is always so much more to learn! I've been doing this half my life, over a quarter of a century, I still am so far from feeling I know enough to write about it.  I know this is a very common dilemma.  I just hope that I can kick myself past it so I can finish what I'm working on and move on. 

I hope what I have written and am writing is still useful to others, even as I continue to learn.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Of Monsters and the Tyranny of Silence - TRIGGER WARNING

*Edited to add: If you think that downloading and sharing child pornography is somehow okay, somehow doesn't hurt anyone, somehow is victimless, and the story of the woman whose uncle distributed videos of him raping her as a child isn't moving enough, perhaps watching a fictionalized telling of such a story will wake you up. Downloaded Child was on Law & Order:SVU April 2, 2014. Obviously, trigger warnings for child sexual abuse, rape, domestic abuse....anyone who is familiar with the show knows it can be triggery but this one has a lot of triggers even for SVU. 

I nearly used "predators" in the title but I actually dislike the term "sexual predator" because while certainly it may be accurate, real predators serve a function in the cycle of life. Sexual monsters do not. They are something which should be eradicated, not accepted, certainly not protected. But the often are protected. Silence is a large part of that protection.

There has been a great deal blogged on this so you have likely seen much of what I might share here, but for various reasons I feel it's important for me to take a stand here. Mostly, because I believe it's important for us all to take a stand. There has already been some sense (and I am not linking to posts which I am criticizing for a couple  of reasons 1) I don't want to make an example of one post when there have been several others making the same statement as well as several comments in other posts, 2) many I do not want to give traffic to) that this is just a Wiccanate issue, that those of us in Reconstructionist religions and those who have rejected (I may do a not very nice post on that one day) the term "Pagan" are somehow immune. But we are not. There are many abusers, not all sexual and not all aimed at children, in the broadest spectrums of Pagan/Polytheistic identified community.  And it's time to take a stand against all abusers.

But when it comes to children, it's even more important to speak out.  It's decades past the time that this should have been  dealt with, in fact. I'm one of those who had heard "rumors" about Kenneth Klein 25 or more years ago. They only even resemble rumors because of my distance, I didn't know him. But I knew that attempts to report him had been made and that pressure was put on those who wanted him charged. "We must protect the community."

At that time I was also aware of rapists and others being protected by "big names" and gathering organizers in Paganism.  The late '80s actually saw a great deal of what turned out to be fruitless dialogue on abusers, rapists, child molesters and other monsters in our midst. Very little happened to these monsters. "It would look bad for all Pagans."

This silencing happens because we do live in a rape culture, the Pagan community no less than any other. We live in a culture where those in power actively shame and terrorize victims from speaking out, to protect those who abuse under the misguided notion that admitting these things happen implicates us all. Of course, when the allegations of abuse by Catholic priests came out, some people I knew who told me this were outraged that the Catholic church had protected these priests.  We can see how what really implicates the whole is protecting the guilty only when it happens in another group, we lie to ourselves that it can't happen in our own and when it does we decide to hide it...while condemning others for doing the same.

This needs to stop.

When it comes to the silence of the victims, no one who didn't report because they were afraid either directly of him, of others who had power who may work to silence them, even of their own pain and past, is to blame. Those who took power to silence others, whether they were physical abusers or not, I do believe deserve blame. And I hope at least some come forward to be accountable as many of Klein's victims come forward, including his former wife and children. Allegations Emerge After Pagan Author Charged With Possessing Child Pornography

During the fall out of Klein's arrest, issues with other Pagans came up. I seemed to have missed that Gavin and Yvonne Frost resurfaced awhile back Apparently, they were to be at the Florida Pagan Gathering to the horror of many, with the organizers, as has so often happened in so many cases for decades, choosing to support the abusers rather than those who want an end to it. (Apparently, they will not be there)

In the 1970s and all subsequent editions the Frosts' Witches Bible included a ritual deflowering of pubescent children.  There are those who want to excuse this, to say they probably never did it, as if doing it would be objectionable for someone who wrote it, and, after all, who could imagine this elderly couple as child predators. But even if someone wants to believe they didn't once do this, they gave a damn manual to others who did. Because you know someone did. At the least, it's probably messed the heads of a lot of young people who read it. I remember it doing a bit of a number on me as a teen when I found it. I was fortunate it wasn't the first book I found and I think that finding Adler's Drawing Down the Moon and Starhawk's The Spiral Dance helped me not get more screwed in the head by it. (I might not agree with Starhawk on much today, but at least her feminist message offered something far more empowering than the idea that to be a Witch I should have been ritually raped by an adult at puberty)

It's also high time we keep nailing home some of the gross misinformation and misunderstanding that is being spouted now.

One of these is the idea that Klein isn't really a bad person because "all he did was download some photos, you can't hurt a child by that."  First, let's remember that his arrest has given voice to many he has physically abused. But the idea that child pornography is "just photos" and doesn't harm children is mind-bogglingly naive. Do you think these photos are some how magically made without the children being harmed? "Oh, well, yes," you say, "but it's only the fault of those who made them, let's go after them." Do not doubt that efforts are being made on that, they may well be arrests of those making it, we just don't recognize their names. But it is true that it sometimes hard to track down, there are multinational task-forces working on this constantly. It's a huge battle.

Some producers are small time, like a man selling videos of him raping his young niece. Tell me no child was harmed there. Some producers of child pornography are involved large underground corporations that traffic unimaginable numbers of children. (I do not normally use Wikipedia as a source, however, I felt like I was going crazy trying to find the most complete source for this).

And those who buy the products of these monsters are themselves directly responsible for the harm to those children. Demand runs supply. (consider this too, if you participate in adult pornography, know your sources for that...while some may be consensual on the part of all actors, not all is ...obviously there are no blurred lines when it comes to children, at all)  On the other side of things, while some pedophiles do actually simply use pornography, others find it inspiration and ideas to pursue their own physical attacks. Just like there have likely been "Witches" who followed the Frosts' instructions on raping children, anyone who shares, not only those who made it, child pornography may be inspiring another to rape.  

Another inventive excuse I have seen has also been that it "must just be photos of 'skyclad' children at festivals."  Well, he may have such photos, as well, but while this may seem "innocent" and not having harmed those children, why would anyone who wasn't a pedophile have such photos at all?  Who else takes photos of naked children and looks at them? As I noted, I had heard the "rumors" and have heard first hand parents who have said that they wouldn't have their children at festivals that this man (and several others) was at, let alone let them run naked in his presence.
 
Actually, the ease with nudity that the Pagan community is known for is one of the issues we've often have had with sexual monsters. Of course, this isn't only in regards to children. As an adult at Pagan gatherings I became increasingly uncomfortable being unclothed.  One of the first gatherings I was at we had a guy who would lurk and watch women, who no one seemed to know and who didn't participate in any of the events happening, who showed no real signs of being Pagan but just lurked around our campsite and made all the women in our camping area uncomfortable. We started noticing him the showers when women were in there (it was open group showers) and most of us started keeping our cloths on outside the shower and began showering with groups of men we knew were safe. This guy had no problem with being noticed watching women but was apparently terrified that he might be accused of watching men. Of course, we did this because our concerns about him

Even such voyeuristic activity is assault, not only because you do not know if it will become more but because it forces the victims of it to change our behavior.  And in recent years, I have become more aware of much worse that can be for children.  Children who are subjected to inappropriate sexual behavior towards them, even if they are untouched, and whether it's knowing they are being watched, having remarks made to or about them or others in their hearing or seeing activity which should not be flaunted in front of anyone who is not a wiling participant can have a damaging effect on a child. (sorry, this has been primarily from discussions, I do not have sources)

The other issue that comes up is the "innocent until proven guilty" one.  First, keep in mind that is about the courts.  Let's also remember that Klein admitted to having this pornography..  However, one of the things that came up in the wider world regarding Dylan Farrow coming forward about her abuse by Woody Allen is that" innocent until proven guilty" should truly be owed the victim of sexual assault, far more than the accused especially when the accused has so much more power even beyond the power they had over their victim.  Victims almost always feel that they are the ones on trial in public opinion if they come forward and, therefore, many do not.  I fear that the attacks which we saw on Dylan Farrow and her mother have not helped that situation in the wider world. This is rape culture.
 
Which brings ups back to silence and the silencing within our community that has gone on and is still going on.

There have been comments from Pagans regarding those coming forward that "how can we believe these people coming forward if they hide behind anonymity?" This shows a serious disconnect from the reality victims face. The right of a victim to not make themselves publicly known for further abuse is something we need to respect. Especially among Pagans who have often claimed many less serious reasons for taking pseudonyms. Consider that by making this remark you are already attacking the victim for speaking out, why would they want to make themselves an easier target?

Another defender of Klein has said that she doesn't want to hear "I knew about this all along."  Well, some of us did. And some of us wish deeply we had known more and could have done more. Some who did know more probably should be ashamed.....but as I said, that does not include the victims. It does include those the victims disclosed to in order to get help who refused to help them.

I have deep personal issues with being told to be silent, and it's largely why I am writing this. Unfortunately, I become so enraged by being told to shut up that I often cannot express myself verbally and that's largely why I'm writing this now instead of several weeks ago.  And this is the hard part for me.

I was molested when I was 10 years old by a teenage foster brother. I was lucky, I know that, that I did feel I could go to my mother with what he did. I was not silenced then. He was removed from our house within hours. I was truly fortunate. However....

After that I quickly learned that there must be silence. As far as my family was concerned this boy never lived with us. He was not to be mentioned, what happened to me was not to be mentioned.  At all. It never happened.

But, of course, it did. And because of  this silencing I never got the help I needed to deal with what was done with me. I also found out only a few years ago that nothing was done about him doing this at all, he was placed in a new home in another town with two girls who were younger than I was. I have no idea if he hurt them or not but he was with them until he graduated and a relative, who rolled her eyes and refused to acknowledge that I was molested by him (I'm sure she knew at the time, but was happy to pretend it didn't happen and apparently still is), proceeded to prattle on about "how well he did" there.

The silence I learned undoubtedly is part of what kept me from reporting being raped about 10 years later. The other issue was how confused by our rape culture I was at the time, because it took a long time for me to tell myself that I was raped. Even though I knew. I was flirting with the guy, I was quite drunk, I probably would have later slept with him if he hadn't raped me that night, he wasn't someone I really knew but he wasn't the "complete stranger jumping out of an alley with a knife." There was no knife. Even if at the time I knew how to fight back, and I didn't then, I probably wouldn't have been able to due to how drunk I was. I even passed out during it, so it shouldn't have been so bad, right?  That night when I got home, not having said anything to the friend I was with, I was terrified he'd followed me and that hurt me more. Yet in the light of day, I told myself it wasn't really rape. Because he was someone I had been attracted to and flirted with. It took years to define it. And, of course, it took even more years to tell anyone else at all.

And those four paragraphs were the hardest thing for me to write ever. Because that call for silence is so fucking hard to break. And why no one should ever be told to be silent about being a victim.  It's funny how much easier it was for me to overcome any physical fear I had, by the things I more often write about here, than it has been for me to over come the fucking silence.

A lot of people are looking at what to do about this. Or were. There is, of course, concern now that the blogosphere is quieting on this that we might start losing interest in doing anything. And that's a real concern, given that we've gotten so very good at not doing anything.  Previous attempts have failed largely for this reason as Brendan Myers discussed in Whatever happened to the Pagan Community Statement on Religious Sexual Abuse?   Psychotherapist Cat Chapin-Bishop has some concrete advice in Responding to Abuse in the Pagan Community.

Some of this might be overwhelming for many. So I'm going to give my only piece of advice as a first step. One that others have called for such as Yvonne Aburrow


Stop the silence! Stop it now!  Listen to the victims!  Give them a voice! Yes, take action from that and give the victims resources for help, get everyone resources to defend themselves as they can, but first give them a voice!


Two other links on this subject which I do not think I linked to previously:
On Outing Abusers


Predators in Paganism (Trigger Warning)





Thursday, February 13, 2014

Publication Announcement - Air n-Aithesc (Our Message)

http://ciannai2.wix.com/air-n-aithesc
As with many things, it starts with a bit of a bitch session.  After over a decade of only writing to self-publish online, I was looking for places to submit articles to. You know magazines or anthologies. Especially after the synchronicitic experience of having finished a long ass piece on the War Goddesses and finding out about an anthology for An Morrígan calling for submissions (which I should have announcement about soon).  Keltria Journal had some warrior path themes and I submitted a couple of pieces, the two issues became one so only one ran. Such themes and anthologies don't happen much and, well, it's what I write....which is why this blog is probably going to always be more active than Dùn Sgàthan Homestead blog. And most Pagan journals that are out there aren't always looking for Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan, endnote heavy, pieces...and if they are they tend to be looking for CRP 101 stuff or other material about CRP rather than topical material using Reconstructionist methodology.

So, the whole "there needs to be a CR magazine and it needs to be peer reviewed" thing came up. And Maya St.Clair responded with, "yeah, so let's do it." (paaraphrase) And Air n-Aithesc (Our Message) was conceived. We asked a bunch of others we knew to join us, some of them even accepted. Another will soon be added to that list. We decided to do it for Imbolg and given the time frame to get members of the review committee to write for the first issue. And some of us did. Hey, I had one article left over too, so I submitted two. Other contributors from our committee were Maya with her column offering basic information for those new to CR "An Seomra Staidéir: The Study" and  review of Early Christian Ireland by Kathleen Hughes, Finnchuill with a piece on "Brigit's Retinue in the Tuatha Dé Miscellany," Morgan Daimler who wrote about "Celebrating Imbolc with the Family", Ceffyl Aedui on "Finding Epona" (we are not a Gaelic only publication...even if it might lean heavily there) and Blackbird O'Connell with a review of the book Pot O'Gold by Kathleen Krull. 

My articles are "'By Force in the Battlefield': Finding the Irish Female Hero" and "Going into Wolf Shape." The first is explained by the subtitle. The second is part of an ongoing exploration of the wolf warrior cults, which I sometimes touch upon here.  I am already working on future articles, all of which will follow such themes.

The first issue came out on Tuesday and can be ordered either as digital or hard copy (with free digital) right here.

We are already looking for submissions for the second issue which will be out for Lùnasdal. We are not doing themed issues, as we feel that is too limiting, so we are open to any topic of interest to CRPs and which use CR methodology. We hope to have a wide variety of paths represented as we go along (we were going to have a list of possible paths, but realized it was on one hand getting very long and on the other we'd leave someone out and...it seemed best to skip it). We sort of have two different "options," articles which are research focused only or articles which discuss practice and experience using research to solidify things. These latter are most welcome, as this is the essence of CR methodology and we all feel there needs to be more that shows how we bring these elements into our actual practice. It is also, of course, often the hardest thing to write about for many of us.  All submissions will be reviewed by a quorum of the review committee. We also have a lovely pool of editors, some who are review committee members although not all (and not all of us on the review committee are editors) who will then work to prepare the accepted articles for publication. You can find submission info on our website.

We are also on the lookout for artwork, both for articles and we will feature an artist each. This issue our artist was Casey Bradley. If you are interested in submitting art, you can us through our website. Seriously, we need art work for articles too....don't make Maya grab photos of me again (honest, I may be vain enough to post them here all the time, but it was not my idea to have them there...too many "women warrior" pieces are problematic and others were well out of our non-existent budget.

No, we are not paying at this time and do not know if that is in the future. What little we take off the top of the cost will go to upgrading our website and promotional efforts (if we, say, go to a festival with a bunch of copies we have to buy those outright ourselves to do it).  Payment does mean advertising to cover it, which can create several hassles which I remember from "back in the day" ....we are hesitant to begin that, but have not closed the door either. At this point it's free digital copies and additions to your CV (if you include Pagan publications on your CV).

I hope you check this out, read this issue and, if you are so inclined, send us material.

Oh, you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dark Nights and Shadow Hounds

This is another "administrative" post, I suppose, a filler to keep this active. Some may have noticed a slight name change here. There are many reasons for this choice. It does keep a certain theme which runs in other things I do, such as our home's name. It also perhaps seems pretentious to claim we actually fly with Her/Them, instead we run in Their shadows, with the mad hounds. Which is another aspect which may not seem obvious to anyone but me...the canine theme in what I do seems to be coming through stronger as I go along. It's, again, the focus of what I've been (or was) writing about. It is a subject which I often feel uncomfortable talking about because I do not relate to most of the wolfy identity stuff that is popular. I'm not Otherkin, I don't identify by any of the "in the wrong body" stuff. And how that is different is often hard to explain. But it's, in part, what I've been trying to work on.

And so, I've been working on an article centered around this find. It's really only a part of the article, but it was a key prompt, if you will.   It was hard to deal with some of the ideas of dog sacrifice, even if kept in the past (to be clear I think it's not something that should be brought back and there is no evidence of it in the Irish material, except for the ever unique Cú Chulainn's killing of the hound he was named for which may echo this older, far away rite), as we had lost our male Greyhound, Cù Mór this summer. Yes, that often made it hard.
Òrlaith and I
just before last Lùnasdal ritual
Missing our Cù

Now our female Greyhound, our only Greyhound now, Òrlaith has bone cancer and will likely, indeed, die this winter. Due to her age, we've opted not to have the highly invasive surgery, the removal of her lower jaw and replacement with a prosthetic, and chemo. She'd likely have no chance of a full recovery to the point where she is completely out of pain and the effects of the chemo. We are trying, with the help of her new vets, multiple alternative treatments in hopes to slow it down. But we do not expect miracles. As long as she's comfortable, happy and eating we'll keep trying. All her remedies are disguised as treats so it also amounts to spoiling her.

This has made the writing even harder, although I poke at it slowly. After I post this I intend to  do more work on it. For the most part, right now, I am working on other aspects of possible initiation rites. But it also brings home my belief at what does make for the appropriate role of dogs and the death of dogs in how I practice. Caring for them, living with them, learning from them...and, when the time comes, giving them a meaningful send off.

Greyhounds are "primitive" in their social pack behavior. While I have always learned from the dogs in my life, I find this breed, so connected also with Gaelic culture, to have perhaps taught me the most on this aspect. The Border Collie crosses which are also part of our pack, have as well. Both breeds retain a lot of the wolf, but have modified it in different ways.  The Greyhounds are still pack hunters, the BCs use the same techniques to herd, stopping short of the kill. I watched the Greyhounds teach the BCs, Gleann and Sachairi, a bit more of the social aspects, and Òrlaith has definitely been the leader among the dogs. The boys, including Cù, have practically worshiped the ground she walks on. Meanwhile, she has taken her cues from us, the alphas. We learned from her, and Irony before her, how to be quiet, gentle alphas.  

In these past few weeks, she may be thinking herself a bit above us as we spoil her as much as possible. This is an act of worship for me, an honoring of the canine spirit which is a part of me and a connection to something bigger.  When she goes we will bury her with the other hounds, Cù, Scolaighe, Bran and Irony, the Shadow Pack....both our living and our dead are called that, but the ones on the other side grow in number. Someday I will be buried among them, at least if my wishes are honored (and such a burial is still legal in NH), along with the bones of my first dog Gabe, who is to be reinterred with me. With us. At our ritual site.

There will be howling for her, both humans and dogs, as we always do. Our funeral rituals are simple, but they are important. The dogs mourn hard, like us they have not fully recovered from losing Cù. When we do ritual we share with those gone on as well. Dogs are always part of our rites, even when they are not at the center of them. 

And so, I hope there will be an article finished soon and news about where it will end up. I needed a moment to share this. Because I realize I can't even describe what a vital part of my path my pack has been and is. That I'd not understand my wolf if I didn't learn from them. Perhaps others can do it other ways, but I would not be doing this without them.  I believe that they are central to my relationship with the War Goddesses, that being Their hound or wolf is far more key for my path than such human identity as "priest/ess."  And all time spent with them is a sort of rite in itself.  And so I shall go to be with her.