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 An Introduction to French Sauvignon Blanc | JJ Buckley Fine Wines


Pagans being pagans, we like to drink, and we like to get drunk. When we are, we like to sing about it.

So pagans have lots of drinking songs.

But, of course—pagans being pagans—it's not quite that simple.


Dewi Brown—Dewi is “David” in Welsh—was an early, founding member of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, one of the earliest (and most influential) New Pagan organizations in the West. His poem “The Drunkard” was first published in the PM's quarterly, The Waxing Moon, in the Lughnasadh 1971 issue, which is where I first came across it. The poem impressed me at the time; 50 years on, it still does.

(Here let me mention that this particular issue of TWM was my personal introduction to the Pagan Movement, a group that would shape my own nascent paganism and, indeed, the rest of my life—you're reading this now because of it—but that's another story for another night.)

Brown's poem is cast in traditional form: four stanzas, each arranged in two couplets. This form, the poem's rather archaic diction (“sup,” “from out”), and its willingness to controvert standard grammar for the sake of rhyme (“Nor of your beauty can he tell”) give the poem a sense of agelessness, of the pre-modern; almost it reads like one of the 17th century Cavalier poets, perhaps a Robert Herrick.

This dislocation in time is fully intentional. Bad poetry sacrifices anything, even clarity and grammatical integrity, to clinch that rhyme. Brown, though, is fully in control of his medium.

On the surface, “The Drunkard” reads as a secular drunk's tribute to his drug of choice. “Screw 'em all,” he sings to his glass of wine, his sole drinking companion.

But, of course, it's not that simple. That's what makes this such a good poem.


The Drunkard

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 Quarter of Americans Convinced Sun Revolves Around Earth, Survey Finds -  ABC News


Founded more than 50 years ago in 1970, the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland was headquartered on a pagan communal farm in rural Carmarthenshire (Wales). It originally grew out of a London organization called the Regency, which in turn had its roots in (and was founded by former members of) Robert Cochrane's Royal Windsor Coven.

What follows is a hymn to Earth and Sun from the PM's Rite of Imbolc, which marked the reborn Sun's Coming-of-Age. (Though not directly named, Earth is the “thee” to whom the piece is addressed.) It is sung to the tune of Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March #1, familiar to Americans as the processional march at high school graduation ceremonies, also known as Land of Hope and Glory.

Though not attributed, the lyrics were clearly the work of Tony Kelly (1943-1997), the PM's leading light, and my own beloved teacher. Kelly was a brilliant but deeply flawed man; Old Craft historian Michael Howard once described him to me as having had “horns of gold and hooves of clay.” Truly one of the Wise, his understanding of the Old Ways and their gods was deep beyond telling. It was from him that I learned what many pagans, 50 years on, have still to realize: that the truest and most authentic pagan experience comes, not from dusting off some old god or goddess from Long Ago and Far Away, but from an active lived relationship with—to begin with—Earth and Sun, Here and Now.

Though a brilliant and articulate writer, Kelly's verse suffers from his fondness for archaic diction and his willingness to sacrifice anything, even clarity and grammatical integrity, for the sake of rhyme. (That said, rhyming "Goddess" with "forest" is sheer pyrotechnic verbal genius, brilliant.) Still, Proud the Sun Adore Thee has much to teach.

You can see the hymn in its original ritual matrix here. Please note that a number of errors have crept into the version cited in the Weebly Pagan Movement Archive, foremost among them the inversion of the first and second lines of stanzas one and three. I have here restored the song to its original form.


Proud the Sun Adore Thee

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Castlenalacht, Stone Row / Alignment - Megalithic Mysteries

 A Visit to Pagan Island


A row of standing stones runs along the spine of the long, narrow river island.

In the dream, I'm in Wales, visiting the old Selene farm in Carmarthenshire, which during the 70s and early 80s was home to the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland. It was from these good folks that I learned ritual and how to think in Pagan. It was in this soil that my pagan roots first grew deep.

The river in the dream, though, is clearly the Mississippi, along whose banks I now live. In the logic of dreams, the meaning is clear enough.

When we finally manage to get out to the island—did we swim? boat? teleport?—we discover something very interesting indeed. The long row of standing stones that line the island's ridge are not raised stones. These stones are a part of the island itself, living rock rearing to the sky, grown here like the trees themselves.

In the dream, I think of the immemorial sanctity of river islands. I remember the self-manifest lingams of India, most sacred of all lingams. These are self-manifest standing stones, most powerful of all.

We link hands and begin to dance. Down along the full row we dance, weaving in and out of the standing stones as we go.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust - Walks - Walks | Megalithic monuments,  Standing stone, Megalith


In the dream, I'm in Wales, at a reunion of members of the old Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, the group which, back in the early 70s, gave me my first leg-up into the Old Ways.

(I'd fallen asleep reading Arthur Machen's The Secret Glory, with its musical Welsh place-names singing in my head, so I guess it's not surprising that I should dream-journey thence.)

Regretfully, my teacher Tony Kelly wasn't there—he died in 1997—but I'm excited to meet so many folks that I've heard so much about over the years, but never yet met. I'm also excited that the gathering is happening at the old Cymdeithas Selene, the commune in northwestern Dyfed (Carmarthenshire) where the Pagan Movement was based.

(When I wake, it's with the Selene address singing in my head: Cymdeithas Selene, Cân y Lloer (“song of the Moon”), Ffarmers, Llanwrda, Sir Caerfardden, Cymru.)

(Ah, Welsh. I've only dabbled in the Celtic languages, and dallied most with Scots Gaelic, the sexiest of the lot—oh, baby—but some of my people came from along the Welsh Marches in the old days, and it's the Cymraeg that will always feel most like home.)

I'm talking with Greg Hill, whom I've also never met (though we've corresponded) about my gratitude for all the things that the Pagan Movement has given me: how to do ritual, how to think in Pagan, and—gift beyond price—the gods themselves. Children of Mabh are we, our beloved Earth Mother: sweet Mabh, dearest Mabh, with her two husbands: Pahh, the Sun, her right-hand husband, and Dahh, Thunder, husband of her left hand.

(And doesn't every child with two fathers need a name for each?)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Script and the Story

Was I ever excited when my copy of Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows arrived by mail. I was going to learn the Secret Ceremonies of the Witches.

Gods, was I ever disappointed.

Not long after, I became an overseas member of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland. An important part of the newsletters that they sent out eight times annually were accounts of the rituals that they'd done.

But these weren't the bare-bones outlines of the Book of Shadows, lists of words and actions. These were stories. They told not only what was done and said, but what it was like to be there.

I was in love.

There are two primary ways to write about ritual. If you stick around this blog long enough, you'll see examples of both. One is the Book of Shadows way: the outline, the script, the list of words spoken and actions done.

The other way is the Pagan Movement way: the story.

Both genres are important. Both, in fact, are necessary. But they're not the same thing, and they serve different purposes.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Earth's Blessing on the Newborn Sun

Straight be thy will,

deft be thy hand:

O heat of my heart,

O light of my land.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    And to you, my dear! (Did you get the golden Mother?) Let's talk soon!
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Merry Yule! Love and warm blessings to you.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ageism and Pagan Institutions

I always wondered what it must have been like to be a part of the early church, to meet the apostles, to see this little tribe of misfit disciples grow into a religion. I often wished I could travel back in time, just to get a glimpse of the excitement, the challenges, the rawness of a growing fledgling religion. I thought I would never know, but then I became a Witch.

It’s not that I discovered a spell for time travel. But I joined a young religion with old roots in which many founders of traditions and elders are still among us. And sadly I have been seeing eulogies on The Wild Hunt for elders I had just met or was hoping to meet some day. Our founders are aging and dying and a new generation is bringing different interpretations and ways of being Pagan. While we are culturally different, some of the letters that comprise the New Testament of the Christian Bible were written a a time when early Christianity found itself at similar crossroads.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Wendy WIlson
    Wendy WIlson says #
    While I like the idea... many of us may not have all those skills. I am good at creating rituals and leading them... preaching is
  • Amanda Morris
    Amanda Morris says #
    "And yes, I want to see paid clergy, but not for imposing rituals on us, preaching or instilling doctrine. Leading ritual, preachi
  • Wendy WIlson
    Wendy WIlson says #
    I create 8 rituals a year and my first priority is to minimize my talking and actions, while maximizing the other participants' in
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    And yet we already have them and continue to build then. I wonder if it is also a question of definitions. I haven't heard any out
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    "Institutions are scary. The very word produces a knee-jerk reaction in many of us." yes this indeed!

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