Tuesday, January 30, 2007

20 Years Of The Wellspring Gathering

20 Years Of The Wellspring Gathering Image
More exciting to me is the 20th anniversary of the Wellspring Gathering, Stone Creed Grove ADF's annual Druidic festival and retreat. In our efforts to create lasting Pagan institutions, longetivity counts for something. I'll indulge myself in a reminiscence...

Stone Creed was founded in 1990 (earlier for the first meetings I think, but the first public ritual was Fall Equinox 1990)), and we were planning the first festival by winter of that year. Several of the first-wave members of Stone Creed had been Starwood festival organizers for a decade, and the whole thing had a natural "Let's have a show" feel to it. Starwood had just moved to what would become the Brushwood Folklore Center. Wellspring came right behind, hosting the first year there mid-may of 1991.

Wellspring was the first specifically ADF camping festival and it arrived at a key moment in ADF's growth. At that time ADF had maybe a half-dozen working Groves, maybe 10, and almost all of them came to Wellspring. Several interested parties came as well, including Skip Ellison, who would found Muin Mound Grove right afterward. Isaac Bonewits came, and Stone Creed Grove had been able to present the first ever (I think) unscripted presentation of a full liturgy. By a year after the first Wellspring we had grown to... maybe a dozen Groves. (Skip could produce numbers...)

Before Wellspring, the ADF Annual Meeting had been held at the Starwood festival, with limited success. ADF's membership was still mainly a mailing list, receiving an occasional publication, with a few growing local Groves. At the second Wellspring Isaac moved the national meeting to our event, where it has stuck ever since. With the draw of an actual ADF festival we found ourselves meeting face to face, and a new level of accountability as well as enthusiasm took hold.

In Isaac's plan he was to remain the autocrat of the organization for its first nine years, with the Mother Grove appointed purely by his choice. By about the time we began Wellspring the membership had demanded an elected seat, and the Member's Advocate position was created. In 1994 (if I count correctly) the first full Mother Grove election was held, with Isaac still Archdruid for life. The ballots were received on paper, or cast at Wellspring, and the count done by frantic volunteers in tents. While the present election system is vastly more organized, reliable and dry, I miss the big wait and the announcement of winners at the national meeting.

The first few Wellsprings were also a lot about solidifying and refining the liturgy. Isaac had produced one core script, and a number of articles supporting his model. As Groves implemented it, changes happened and reforms occurred. I hosted an annual roundtable for a few years called 'Deepening the Liturgy', in which Grove ritualists came together to discuss the things that became the Three Kindreds, the Hallows, etc. We experimented with group ritual, did good ones and... less good ones. I recall the dreaded Five Fires rite, spread out on the Brushwood hilltop, and the Fashion Show of the Gods, in which I attempted to meld 'Culhwch and Olwen' descriptive style with full trance vision. They can't all be gems.

Around the mid-90s the internet arrived as a tool of ADF organizing, and it was a whole new ball-game. Groves proliferated, and ADF festivals began to as well. Having the national meeting at Wellspring has helped to keep us in the middle of things, and one reason that the national meeting has stayed at Wellspring is that we have built the Nemeton at Brushwood.

I never get this right... Wellspring 2 or 3? saw the beginnings of the Nemeton, built under the direction of Bryan P, the First Nemeton was a simple mound with three offering pits making it into a triskel shape, with a central fire-pit, and a metal-sheathed (eventually) Bile in the center of the Fire. Bryan carved a marvelous tricephalus pole, which lasted for several years before burning through dramatically at a Starwood rite. Over the following years the mound has been enlarged, walled in stone, and is now the site of a fine woodland ritual space, filled with shrines and hallowed with ADF memories. The development of shrines and special dedications to the many Gods and spirits in the woods surrounding the ritual mound has added a wonderful flavor to this unique Pagan ritual space.

In early years Stone Creed made an attempt to create a program that would be a general interest pagan festival, with a focus on ADF. As the organization grew the national agenda just ate its way into that effort, until Wellspring became a mainly in-house event. It's a much bigger house, now, of course. Still we try to provide inspiring teaching and ritual, good hospitality, and plenty of opportunity to grow ADF's plans, dreams and programs.

This is just some meanderings... looking backward while looking forward... The list of people responsible for this is too long to even get after without making some awful blunder, so you all know who you are. On we go to 20 more years of building the Old Ways in our time.

You also may enjoy this free books:

Anonymous - The Prayers Of The Elementals
Aleister Crowley - Liber 002 The Message Of The Master Therion
Aleister Crowley - The Heart Of The Master

Keywords: magic rituals  magical runes  old norse  pagan ritual wear  pagan sex ritual  celtics religion  celtic religion  runes for transformation  celtic gods names  douglas colligan  witch spells  religion of wicca  william blake  

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Oldest English Epic Beowulf Finnsburg Waldere Deor Widsith

The Oldest English Epic Beowulf Finnsburg Waldere Deor Widsith Cover

Book: The Oldest English Epic Beowulf Finnsburg Waldere Deor Widsith by Francis Gummere

eowulf is often referred to as the first important work of literature in English, even though it was written in Old English, an ancient form of the language that slowly evolved into the English now spoken. Compared to modern English, Old English is heavily Germanic, with little influence from Latin or French. As English history developed, after the French Normans conquered the Anglo-Saxons in 1066, Old English was gradually broadened by offerings from those languages. Thus modern English is derived from a number of sources. As a result, its vocabulary is rich with synonyms. The word kingly, for instance, descends from the Anglo-Saxon word cyning, meaning “king,” while the synonym royal comes from a French word and the synonymregal from a Latin word.

Only a single manuscript of Beowulf survived the Anglo-Saxon era. For many centuries, the manuscript was all but forgotten, and, in the 1700s, it was nearly destroyed in a fire. It was not until the nineteenth century that widespread interest in the document emerged among scholars and translators of Old English. For the first hundred years of Beowulf’s prominence, interest in the poem was primarily historical—the text was viewed as a source of information about the Anglo-Saxon era. It was not until 1936, when the Oxford scholar J. R. R. Tolkien (who later wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, works heavily influenced by Beowulf) published a groundbreaking paper entitled “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” that the manuscript gained recognition as a serious work of art.

Beowulf is now widely taught and is often presented as the first important work of English literature, creating the impression that Beowulf is in some way the source of the English canon. But because it was not widely read until the 1800s and not widely regarded as an important artwork until the 1900s, Beowulf has had little direct impact on the development of English poetry. In fact, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Pope, Shelley, Keats, and most other important English writers before the 1930s had little or no knowledge of the epic. It was not until the mid-to-late twentieth century that Beowulf began to influence writers, and, since then, it has had a marked impact on the work of many important novelists and poets, including W. H. Auden, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, and Seamus Heaney, the 1995 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, whose recent translation of the epic is the edition used for this SparkNote.

Download Francis Gummere's eBook: The Oldest English Epic Beowulf Finnsburg Waldere Deor Widsith

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Michal Jerabek - The Book Of Enoch Vol V The Epistle Of Enoch
John Dee - The Hieroglyphic Monad Latin Version
Reginald Scot - The Discoverie Of Witchcraft
Francis Gummere - The Oldest English Epic Beowulf Finnsburg Waldere Deor Widsith

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yule Festival

Yule Festival Cover Yule: A twelve day festival beginning around the winter solstice. The twelve days of Yule were considered intercalendary, belonging to no year. The end of them marked the new year. The first night of Yule is Mothernight, and is given to the worship of the disir. Presents are given. As the longest night of the year a vigil is kept from sunset to sunrise. During it the Yule log (or at least a Yule candle) is kept burning. Thus the light of the sun is sympathetically kept alive through the darkest part of the year. This log or candle should be saved, and next year's log or candle should be lit from it. The Wild Hunt is particularly abroad at this time, and celebrants might listen for it. If it is far away a good year is coming, if it is near there will be hardship or death. It is particularly important that all gods be pledged on this day. A hog is sacrificed to Frey, or at least a hog-shaped loaf of bread. Oaths are sworn on the bristles of the boar, in Frey's name, boasts of deeds that are to be done in the upcoming year. Places are set at table for the ancestors, and beds are made for them. The dead are welcomed, and are as much a part of the festivities as the living. In some places an old wheel is tied with straw, taken to the top of a hill or mountain, set afire, and rolled down the hill. This is a form of scapegoating, and it carries all the bad orlog of the village away with it. Divinations for the coming year are also done at this time. No spinning may be done for the twelve days. In some places no work of any kind was done for these twelve days, to allow the earth to rest as well as the people. There were taboos known that prohibited the turning of wheels during this time as well.

Downloadable books (free):

Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Quest Of Iranon
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - You Forever
Frater Achad - Chalice Of Ecstasy
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Festival

Monday, January 1, 2007

Paganism And Christianity From 100 To 425 Ce

Paganism And Christianity From 100 To 425 Ce Cover

Book: Paganism And Christianity From 100 To 425 Ce by Ramsay Macmullen

MacMullen and Lane's Paganism and Christianity (100-425 C.E) presents readers with an eclectic array of writings touching every facet of religious life in the Late Roman world. These varied sources were penned by authors as conflicting as Eusebius and Julian and they deal with intriguing aspects of pagan cultus, pagan missionary activity, the Imperial Cult, the Persecutions and also provide pagan and Christian apologetic/theological literature. Overall, these pieces of literature paint a vibrant picture of religious life during this fascinating epoch in history and they convey something of the richness that the multiform belief systems of the Mediterranean world had to offer. Many of these sources are very difficult to find in English translation; and many of them can be quite expensive. So this sourcebook is indispensable, given that it is quite affordable, convenient and very useful.

Macmullen and Lane have done a service by presenting a treasure of texts revealing primarily the religious attitudes and experience of non-Christians during the formative years of Christianity. Christians today often assume that the language of faith in the early church was the exclusive domain of Christianity. The authors prove otherwise. The titles of some of the chapters demonstrate the range of experience and language of "pagans." For example: "Magic, Dreams, Astrology, Superstition," "Healing Shrines," "Hymns," "Cult Groups," "Holy Men and Women," and "Hermetism and Gnosticism." The sentiments contained in these texts are mirrored in early Christian churches, naturally, since these attitudes and languages were part of the religious atmosphere breathed by all peoples of the time. The unbiased reader is helped to easily appreciate the cultural and religious kinship between followers of Christ and those of either the Mysteries, philosophy, and mythologizing theologies such as those of the Gnostics.The last six chapters of the book are especially helpful in appreciating the dynamics of conversion and persecution. While I generally do not favor of history-of-religions approach to the study of historical phenomena, I make a strong exception regarding this book. I recommend that the reader use this book as a companion to Keith Hopkins' "A World Full of Gods."

Buy Ramsay Macmullen's book: Paganism And Christianity From 100 To 425 Ce

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Frank Viola - Pagan Christianity Exploring The Roots Of Our Church Practices
Edward Carpenter - Pagan And Christian Creeds Their Origin And Meaning
Abram Herbert Lewis - Paganism Surviving In Christianity Ver 1
Rodolfo Amadeo Lanciani - Pagan And Christian Rome