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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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 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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 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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Mabh, bring us together;

Mabh, bring us through.

 

Here at Temple of the Moon, we offer twice daily the old tribal prayers for the welfare of the People: that we may have well-being, that we may prosper, that our numbers may increase.

The first and last prayers of each offering are addressed, of course, to Earth: for us, the beginning and end of all things.

In this time of brokenness, when so much that we know and love is overturned, as we walk a long, Dark Way, I find myself adding to the customary prayers, two more:

 

Mabh, bring us together;

Mabh, bring us through.

 

Naturally, they address Earth, our beloved Earth. Who better to call on than the Mother, out of our deepest need?

They call to her by her sacred love name, her name of power, voiced as MAHV: a name of Birth, close-open-close, and the Breath of Life within. This name I had from my teacher, Tony Kelly, many years ago. Call her by this name, and give her your kiss of love—Love to you, my Mabh—and she will take you into her secrets.

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“The only religion that really makes any sense is Sun-worship,” a (non-pagan) friend once said to me years ago.

 

Name of the Sun

 

What the Sun's Name to himself may be, we do not know.

(Let me relent and say here, Deep initiates to the Sun there may be who know that Name. If so, I myself am not among them.)

The Sun's Name to us, though: this we know, for it is a relational Name, and we know it of and by our own relation.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Thanks for sharing! Ave Mithras Sol Invicti!

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Thanking Tony Kelly

Last night I finally got to thank the man who gave me the gods.

This might not seem so strange except for the fact that he's been dead for 20 years, and that I never actually met him in person.

But actions taken in dreams signify. You know that they do. When you have an erotic dream about someone, it changes the relationship, whether or not you've ever actually slept together. An initiation received in a dream is a valid initiation, as (incredible, maybe, but true) the courts have determined.

How can I claim as my teacher someone that I never actually met? Well, through Tony Kelly—specifically through his writings—I first came to the gods. From him I learned to think like a pagan. From him I learned to do ritual.

If that doesn't make him my teacher, I don't know what would.

In the dream, Tony sat across a wooden table from me. (There was much between us when he was alive, including the Atlantic Ocean and the fact that he was a mature thinker while I was still a callow youth.) I thanked him for everything that he'd given me, and in particular for teaching me the names of the gods. To hear him pronounce the Sacred Name of Earth was a blessing in itself.

I've never met either of the Grand Old Men of the Craft in dreams—GBG or Bobby Cochrane—but I did once dream about meeting the Regency's George Winter and Ronald “Chalky” White (1921-1998) in an elevator: going down, I think. And now I've dream-met Tony Kelly of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland.

Interestingly, Tony was “off of” the Regency, as the Regency was “off of” Bobby Cochrane's Royal Windsor coven. So I guess (inter alia) that's my lineage, for what it's worth.

Back in the old days, resources were few and hooking up was hard. When in Fate magazine I saw a classified ad for the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, I immediately wrote and, eventually, became (along with Margot Adler and Tom deLong, later known as Gwydion) an overseas member. That's how I learned about Tony Kelly, one of the New Paganisms' deepest thinkers.

That's how my life changed forever.

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