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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Hermes Kriophoros (detail) | Hermes(?) carrying a ram. [Roma… | Flickr 

Tale in a Time of Plague

 

As Pausanias tells it, the god Hermes once saved the city of Tanagra, in Boeotia, from a pandemic.

At the time, the plague raged all around the city, and the Tanagrans feared it was only a matter of time until it came to their doorsteps as well. Then Hermes, that ever-young god, was seen walking the circuit of the city's walls, bearing a ram on his shoulders.

Not one Tanagran died of plague.

Ever after, Hermes Kriophóros (“the ram-bearer”) was accounted the city's patron, and on his festivals the handsomest youth in town would ceremonially walk the circuit of the city's walls, bearing a lamb on his shoulders.

(Although Pausanias does not say so, presumably the lamb would have been borne ultimately to the god's temple, and there given to him in sacrifice.)

In Classical art, Ram-Bearing Hermes became a common icon of philanthropy, humanitas, and divine protection. The motif continued into the Christian centuries and, indeed, to this very day.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

What do you want, he asked me,

sixteen and in love, that night

in the woods, and I answered:

You, for heart and center, all my days.

(Not wealth, nor fame, nor happiness.)

He sighed and shook his head,

tines tipped with firelight.

Not the world's best career move,

he told me tenderly, cupping

the back of my head in his hand:

a loving father ruing his willful son's

bad decision. But if you will

have it so, I promise you

this: enough. You will always

have enough. And so I have.

In this faith, I have lived my life.

(Never has he lied to me, never.)

So it has been, these fifty years

and more, and so it shall be,

I trust, to the end of my days.

It is enough.

 

To Isobel Gowdie, he gave

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Deer Hunting Camo | Buy Whitetail Deer Hunting Camouflage Clothing & Gear -  Natural Gear

 

They say that the Horned, god of witches, has a cloak of invisibility.

Dernmantle, they call it—a dern is a secret—for which reason Dernmantle is counted among his many by-names. Remind me to tell you some time the tale of how he came by it.

(Some, though, call it a cap or helm: the Dernhelm.)

In this way, he walks among us, unknown, unseen. Lord of Beasts, where animals are, he is: nor do we always see him.

Down the long years, he has walked unseen. Through the hidden centuries, he walked among us still.

We, his people, are like to him. We, too, have the power to walk unseen.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Red Deer stag belling photo WP06062

At first hearing, many old witch-songs may not sound witchy at all, at all. Therein lies the magic.

To the cowan eye, the medieval Irish poem You of the Sweet-Tongued Cry may seem a simple nature poem, hymning the beauties of autumn and the rut.

The witch, though, sees both this, and more.

 

You of the Sweet-Tongued Cry

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Our rite that night was a Rite of Opening the Gates. That's when I saw the Horned.

He sat cross-legged, as is his wont, on the threshold between What Is and What Is Not. His body was the blue-black of Deep Space, filled with stars. It was as if, from a photo of the night sky, someone had cut out a silhouette of a seated, antlered man. Behind Him, nothing; before Him, the many-colored world. Between the two, one vast Body of Stars.

I don't usually think of the Horned in cosmic terms. I see Him as a transpersonal person, the collective body of animal life here on planet Earth.

Yet there He was: the Cosmic Horned.

 

Opening the back door, I step out into the cold night to pour out the offerings.

Straddling the threshold, I face the stang in the corner of the garden. In the waning moonlight, the forked stake, standing in its cairn of stones, casts a long shadow.

A rabbit sits in the middle of the garden, a moonlit silhouette. Its ears are exactly the length of the stang's horns, held at precisely the same angle. I look at the rabbit; the rabbit looks at me.

It does not move as I pour out the offerings, and close the door.

 

Are we each as a cell in the greater body of a god?

Are there other Horned Gods, brothers and other selves, on other planets?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

A Siberian Witch's Tale

 

On the banks of a great river there once lived a poor fisherman. One day he made, from river clay, a clay man, and left him out in the Sun to dry.

The Sun shone, and the Winds blew. When the clay man was dry, he went to the fisherman's cottage and began to tap on the window.

Tap, tap, tap, he tapped.

The fisherman's wife arose and went to open the door, but the fisherman said:

 

Ignore the man of clay,

and he'll surely go away.

 

The fisherman's wife sat back down, but the clay man did not stop his tapping.

Tap, tap, tap, he tapped.

 

Ignore the man of clay,

and he'll surely go away,

 

said the fisherman again, but the clay man still did not stop his tapping.

Tap, tap, tap, he tapped.

 

Ignore the man of clay,

and he'll surely go away,

 

said the fisherman a third time, but finally the fisherman's wife could bear it no more, and she rose and opened the door.

The clay man entered the cottage and swallowed the fisherman's wife. Then he swallowed the fisherman, and all of their children.

The clay man went through the entire village, eating everyone that he could find: infants in their cradles, children at play, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers. With every person that he ate, he grew larger and more voracious.

Then the clay man saw the beautiful elk. So wide did he open his mouth that his lower jaw reached Earth and his upper jaw Heaven, and he stepped forward, to swallow the beautiful elk whole.

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"He is the life is in all living things: in corn, and horses, and men."

(Rosemary Sutcliff)

 

Brothers:

We are priests to a Horned, and Horny, God. Let me now tell you something that they probably didn't teach you—though they should have—in Witch School.

As priests to this god, it's our duty—our joy—to offer to him daily. What, then, is the nature of the offering due the Horns?

There are offerings and offerings. But to Him, god of all red life, the best and most fitting is the life-offering: the seed-pour, the male libation. This is the nature of our priesthood.

You know how magic works: you raise power, and direct it.

Daily you do this: you do it for Him. This is our obligation, the price of our priesthood.

How you fulfill this is yours to you, and not for me to say. But let me tell you this much.

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