Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
In the year 981, the German missionary bishop Friedrich arrived in Iceland along with native guide and translator Thorvald Konradsson, an Icelander who had been converted while on the Continent.
Their mission failed because a skald (a word thought by some to be kin to the English word scold) composed a scurrilous little poem about the two of them which made them the laughing stock of Iceland. They were forced to leave the island in 986 because no one would take them seriously. You can't preach to people that are too busy laughing to listen.
Iceland officially accepted Christianity in the year 1000, largely because the Norwegian king held the sons of numerous prominent Icelandic families hostage: conversion by blackmail. Being Icelanders, of course, they added the parenthetical proviso: But if you want to keep offering to the Old Gods in private, well, that's your business.
But two lines of poetry had bought the Icelanders 14 years of freedom, and more than 1000 years later, we still remember them.
Inspired by the May traditions of Padstow, Cornwall, Dave Webber's May Song is a fine modern Beltane song in traditional idiom, heard here in a rousing performance by Magpie Lane.
The traditional May Day Hobby Horse's dance of sex, death, and resurrection has no known historical connection with the widespread and deeply sacred horse-sacrifices of the ancient Indo-European world.
In 2009, poet and scholar-at-large Grevel Lindop published two previously-unknown letters from Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), father of the modern Old Craft movement, to poet Robert Graves (1895-1985), whose book The White Goddess had been seminal (to say the very least) to Cochrane's thinking.
The first of these letters, unfortunately undated, begins:
I have read and re-read your book, 'The White Goddess,' with admiration, utter amazement and a taint of horror. I can see your point when you write of inspirational work, and realize that it must have resulted from quite an internal 'pressure,' since from my own experience, that is the way she works. However, I am just pointing out some other factors that might interest you in the manifestation of the 'Guiden Corn' (Lindop 6).