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.

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From The Sacred Songs of the Witches

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Virtually all tribal societies transmit tradition through the medium of songs. In this Season of the Ancestors, we remember the Mothers and Fathers by gathering to tell their stories and sing their songs.

Green Grow the Rushes-O has been part of the Younger Witchery since the early 1960s at very least (some would say for much longer than that); Robert Cochrane, father of the modern Old Craft movement, mentions the song in his letters. This version, which I learned from Feri elder Alison Harlow in 1980, functions both as riddle-song and teaching-song. (Any teacher can tell you that making the student figure things out for herself is the most effective heuristic.)

The mysterious Eleven Words of Power are said in witch legend to be, in fact, the very basis of all existence; but of this I should probably say no more.

  

Green Grow the Rushes-O

 

I'll sing you One-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your One-O?

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Two-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Two-O?

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Three-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Three-O?

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Four-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Four-O?

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Five-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Five-O?

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Six-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Six-O?

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Seven-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Seven-O?

Seven for the seven Stars in the Sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Eight-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Eight-O?

Eight for the Celebrations,

Seven for the seven Stars in the Sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Nine-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Nine-O?

Nine for the Months of Waiting,

Eight for the Celebrations,

Seven for the seven Stars in the Sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Ten-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Ten-O?

Ten for the able Dancers,

Nine for the Months of Waiting,

Eight for the Celebrations,

Seven for the seven Stars in the Sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing Eleven-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What's your Eleven-O?

Eleven for the Words that Nobody Knows,

Ten for the able Dancers,

Nine for the Months of waiting,

Eight for the Celebrations,

Seven for the seven Stars in the Sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Twelve-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Twelve-O?

Twelve for the twelve Great Houses,

Eleven for the Words that Nobody Knows,

Ten for the able Dancers,

Nine for the Months of Waiting,

Eight for the Celebrations,

Seven for the seven Stars in the sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

I'll sing you Thirteen-O

Green grow the rushes-O

What is your Thirteen-O?

Thirteen proud White Ladies,

Twelve for the twelve Great Houses,

Eleven for the Words that Nobody Knows,

Ten for the able Dancers,

Nine for the Months of Waiting,

Eight for the Celebrations,

Seven for the seven Stars in the Sky,

Six for the six Directions,

Five is the symbol at your Door,

Four the Shining Watchers,

Three the Triple Goddess

(I'll sing you)

Two, two, the Two-Horn God

in shining gold and green-O,

One is all and everywhere

and ever more shall be so.

 

Alison Harlow 1934-2004

In Memoriam

 

Last modified on
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Comments

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Sunday, 23 November 2014

    Oh Steven. Alison was one of my best friends. To have stumbled across this picture of her on Pinterest, and then to have the pin lead here to this song that you learned from her, touched a very deep chord. It helped me do some grieving that had remained to be done. Grieving is such a bit by bit process. Bless you. Thank you. (Alison and I used to sing together.)

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 24 November 2014

    Several years after my friend Craig's mother died, he remarked to me, "I assumed that as time went by, I'd acclimate to her being gone, but instead I find that as time that as time goes on, I just miss her more." Fullness of life means learning to live with grief, I suppose.

    I often sing Allison's songs with our youngest coven kid, and as we do I think about her and about how delighted she would be to see how much he loves them. As long as we sing her songs, she's still singing with us.

    Joining in your song,

    Steven

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 24 November 2014

    Steven, you are sweet and compassionate, thank you so much for your response. So I'll share a story. It feels right to do so.

    Every year, during the holiday season, Alison would give me a calendar. It was the same calendar every year, though of course is was that specific year's. When she handed it to me, she would always say, "I buy a small number of these to give to my best friends." I never told her that I didn't like the calendar, because I was so grateful for the gift. Here's the thing: The real gift was not the calendar, but her annual affirmation of our friendship. It was beautiful, and I hold it in my heart.

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