Ghost stories- November meeting 2016

As the days grow shorter and the shadows grow longer, it is the season for gathering round and telling tales and making our hairs stand on end…… 

At least, it very nearly wasn’t because it wasn’t until I looked at the notes on my mobile phone after the Samhuinn celebrations that I realised I had forgotten I was hosting it! 

Only a few of us gathered at my house, but we enjoyed mead, gin, as well as other non-alcoholic beverages. Wanting to be a good host, I had even prepared jacket potatoes and a home made Quorn (gluten free, y’see!) chilli. 

We gathered into my living room and began a night of blood chilling terror.  Well, a themed night, anyway. 

I began with a real ghost story of an apparition I had seen in my student house in my second year of Uni.  It involved a woman I thought to be my then girlfriend going to the bathroom, when she was in fact in my housemate’s car waiting for me! 

Teller was next with a song about the worms devouring your dead corpse in its wooden box.  Yes, it was morbid, but it was also funny!  It had no real title, but it was dubbed ‘The Hearse Song’.  Apparently The Pogues have done a version of it. 

Vyvyan read a poem from Tennyson called ‘Channel Firing’.  A teasingly melancholic piece about God who may or may not sound the trumpets heralding the Apocalypse, also the near futitlity of sending most of his creation to the fire anyway. 

Danceswithweasels read her favourite ghost story from ‘Haunted Derby‘ involving a painting of Jesus Christ that would supposedly change its face or its eyes would follow people around the room.  It would supposedly fall down whenever there was a disaster in the world and would always fill the room with the smell of violets.  The painting was taken down, taken to one of the grown up children’s house.  Phenomenon would happen there so they took it back.  If anything we felt sorry for the poor painting trying to communicate with its owners! 

Danceswithweasels also told us of the catacombs and tunnels underneath the Guildhall Theatre, of which I took great interest as I had recently finished a production there and didn’t even know about them! She went on to explain that where the theatre stands now used to be part of the gaols, and apparently there are remnants of the prisoners still around….

We touched briefly on folklore and how it always seems to be influenced by the fancies, Horror and Science fiction of the time: photographs of “fairies” during the time of the British “Folk custom revival.  Flying saucers during the 1950s and 1960s, abductions by small bodies aliens with big black eyes after the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, the Chupacabra craze which hit the late 1990s and early 2000s; more recently the supposed cases of ‘Slenderman’ and the alledged ‘Black Eyed Children’ cases of a couple of years ago. 

It seems that we, as a culture, are strangely fascinated by the world of death and the unknown.  Even though our society chooses to ignore it, it permeates into our media as a plot device.  But try as modern society might, we keep going back to it. 

Something that is so final and happens to us all, yet it appears the dead don’t always stay quiet.

London Horror Festival pumpkin, photo by Locksley2010

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Samhain and our 20th Anniversary

Samhain, by its very nature, is a bittersweet time; more than ever for me this year.

It was wonderful to gather and celebrate the Groves 20th anniversary. At last Samhain I’d planned to make a big thing of this anniversary because 20 years is no mean feat. But, unfortunately, many varied and accumulative external factors have severely limited my participation with grove activities this year (which I find immensely frustrating) so sadly all of my grand plans, by necessity, fell by the wayside. 

To see so many people gathered (and represented) in the grove was truly wonderful. From the humble beginnings of four nervous newbies standing on a muddy hillock on the outskirts of Leicester, Dawali fireworks lighting up the skies around us. To last nights gathering of a large spiritual family in the private woods of our Hearth Grove, has been a long, difficult, chaotic, twisty and yet ultimately joyous and fulfilling path. 

Over the years many people have gathered at our Hearth. Some briefly, some for years and some have never left. Each one has contributed something unique, and between us we have built something enduring and special. A spiritual family, a magical tribe held together by deep bonds of friendship, trust and respect.

Last night as we gathered to celebrate Samhain, thanks to my grove brothers and sisters, I was able to stand in a powerful and safe sacred space. Where I had the time, the freedom and the trust to commune, set down some burdens, breathe and gather strength. Thank you all for making that possible and for helping to build and sustain our beautiful grove.
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Samhuinn 2016

Ceremony took place on Sunday 30th 2016. 

It was a surprisingly warm evening once we had gathered.  As we prepared ourselves, I was taken aback by the almost ethereal beauty of the Hearth Grove, the fire pit ablaze whilst being surrounded on the four corners by the tall outdoor candle holders.  Each proudly containing a coloured jar for their respective cardinal direction.  I was immediately reminded of OBOD’s symbol for sacred geometry, a symbol that is part of our Grove insignia. 

After the usual ceremonial gubbinz had been performed, there was a lovely surprise for Lynx-Lady and Cyberdragon, as they were welcomed officially into the Grove fellowship.  Although Greenfingers’ suggestion of using last year’s radishes had met with refusal.  Lol.  

A note on the gubbinz- as well as calling on the quarters, Briseilid, called upon the ancestors.  An act I felt highly appropriate for the evening. 

Swearing upon stone and sword, we reaffirmed, or for our newest fellows, they affirmed alliegience to the GOC.  Proxys swore for those who could not attend. 

Luch Dorca was MC and had asked us to bring 3 things: 

1- a written note of something we wish to let go of, something of our selves to be rid of. 

2- a token or written note of something we wish as a project to accomplish. 

3- a written note for someone we wish to remember whom had passed on.  Did we have a question for them? 

He kicked off proceedings with reading a customised version of Shakespeare, which you can see below. 

The GOC has always had a reverence at Samhuinn for the Cailleach, and sitting by the fire, cowled in a black hood and cloak was She…. In the body of Luch Dorca.  His voice became high and thin, and I’ve heard him laugh before…. He doesn’t laugh like that. 

Come closer…. Come closer…. Come closer my mortals,”  

She beckoned. 

My voice cannot reach far.” 

And so we gathered around this high, giggling, whispery voice.  She referred to us as ‘My Mortals’ throughout the visitation. It appears we were claimed. I found myself wanting to call her ‘Grandmother Cailleach’ (as in ‘Grandmother’ for a title of respect, not because she was a sweet old lady, I very much doubt that is the case), Vyvyan told me later that she wanted to call her ‘Lady’.  We did neither.  That might have been a bit too familiar. 

The Cailleach (which one?  For there are many) said we had done well to come and that ‘This Mortal’ (her host) had instructed us with the three items given above.  It turned out the Cailleach had her own interpretations on these.  I shall do them in the order as given previously: 

1- She asked us to take out our notes and gave us a choice:  throw them into the fire where we can be rid of them.  Or…. Keep onto them, work with them for “Not every weakness is a weakness and not every strength is a strength”.  Some were burned and some were kept.  She told us “This mortal wishes his to be kept.” None of us questioned the affirmation. 

2- We were asked to put these notes or tokens onto the altar.  Once we told her this was done.  She asked me directly “Locksley, are they all paper?” She used my Blog name! I answered they were not as some were tokens.  Thanks to Danceswithweasels, I was reminded of the ring she had placed, having not mentioned it as I was still surprised.  She blessed all items and requested I burned the notes.  The tokens were to be put into the altar box and when we return to the Grove, we are to remember our projects.  I’m guessing this was to see how they come on as the year goes by. 

3- She asked us to take out our notes, and read them.  Take in every word and tell the departed those words using our minds.  I will admit, that not having a letter for the deceased, I spoke to them from my heart.  Ergo I cannot actually remember if the letters were kept or burned.  She did ask if we had any last words for her to deliver, two of us did. 

And Luch Dorca returned. 

Our annual passing of roles was carried out, the Sword of Justice was passed on to Vyvyan who observed ‘I’ll need to get a belt’ with which to carry it.  

Greenfingers remains keeper of both the Box and the fire-pit. 

I remain Herald.  A duty I am happy to continue.

A spooky night?  Not really, an interesting night? Very! 

Luch Dorca’s poem: 

Samhain 2016
Now is the winter of our sweet content

Made glorious summer by this sun of thought;

May all the clouds that hung about our heads

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Let our brows be bound with blissful wreaths;

Our bruised minds calmed in unruffled thoughts;

Our consternations changed to happy times,

Our dreadful news to delightful tidings.
Grim-visaged life doth test our fragile front;

And now, instead of chasing filthy coin

To fill our souls with frightful inadequacy. 

We stand here in a grove at night

To see our path bathed in light.
Double, double toil and trouble

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

To the grove we Druids come

Two by two and one by one.

To bless the land then go away.

Again to come another day.

What do we do when we are gone,

Two by two and one by one.

It’s here we stand and we shall say,

What we will do the other days.
Plots will we lay, inductions profound,

In this holy place on sacred ground

To set our minds to Earth and air

In league with fire, water and aether

And if our task be as true and just

As modern world be subtle, false and treacherous,

This night we start with great strides

Forth, to gain what we hold most dear,

And give us hope this coming year. 

Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here

the Calliach comes.

Photo by Locksley2010


I had forgotten to mention the Grove of the Corieltauvi also had it’s 20th Samhuinn! 

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October Meeting 2016- Drumming meditation journey

Meeting took place on Tuesday 11th October 2016. 

Arriving at Thorsson’s house, I tried to be good, I really did.  As he was hosting, Thorsson offered drinks and I had never seen him lost for words before.  I mean, there were words: “Well, I wasn’t expecting that.” In response to my request of a cup of tea.  The logic being we were going on a spiritual journey and I thought I’d save the alcohol until afterwards. After showing me his collection of mead, our Heathen member had fully convinced me a glass of Dark mead (soft, sweet and tasty) was definitely the way to go forward….. This was followed by a glass of Loki (soft, sweet and green!).  As any follower of this blog will account, I am not the Grove drunk, but I do enjoy the odd tipple and feel guilty if I decline any offers! 

There was a handful of us last night, myself and Thorsson of course, Danceswithweasels, Briseilid (leading the drumming), Cyberdragon, Teller & Vyvyan and Strider.  After catching up and managing to stop devouring Thorsson’s German ginger biscuits, we were finally able to calm ourselves down and found places to sit, relax, or even lie down.  The rhythm of the drum was soothing and helped to keep pace of the journey which started in a familiar place. A portal led us to a long avenue of trees where we met someone, who gave us a gift.  After roaming miles and miles we came to a boundary, that had another portal which took us to a totally different place.  Here we met a being who had a message for us, and we in turn gave a gift to for their message.  Behind us, the portal brought us back to the living room where we entered our bodies once again. 

All this Briseilid did with her drum and her voice helped shape the nature of our journey as well as what happened in it, but each of us had different experiences or found things that did/did not work/worked in an unexpected way. The beat did not offend me and I found it easy to go along with.

Perhaps it was the mead, perhaps it was the drumbeat, but I went deep and was the last to come out.  Yet I emerged feeling relaxed, calm if not a little floaty, probably because I felt reluctant to come back into my body again.    

As we ate and drank, I won the crown for the most tumbleweed moments in one night, but we joked and compared notes and shared with what we felt comfortable to do so.  Teller played some of his didgeridoo and Thorsson showed us the delights of an indoor Northern Lights display. 

Photo by travelyukon.com 

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Double Whammy: Lughnasadh and Eisteddfod 2016

Gifts and blessings of Lughnasadh, photo by Locksley2010. 


Ceremony took place on Sunday 31st  

Teller had made a request of the GOC and it was of asking if he could possibly have his initiation at a different occasion other than Samhain (when we normally do such things) as he won’t be around then due to a gig he’ll be doing at the same time.   This move would break from our normal tradition, so the initiated members discussed and voted for Teller’s request.  And seeming as we secretly conspired this to be done at Lughnasadh, it created something unique: a full member of the Grove done at Lughnasadh. 

Fortunately, the one running Lughnasadh was Teller’s wife, Vyvyan, who was more than happy to have Teller’s initiation take place on what was her first ever ceremony for the Grove. 

Lughnasadh is a strange celebration when you think about it, it’s about the first harvest and the last part of summer.  By this time, the night’s are becoming noticeably shorter and as a celebration, it feels we are saying goodbye to the Summer season…… Though this year, it appeared to be a rain season! But thankfully, come Lughnasadh and it wasn’t that bad. 

Vyvyan, wanted to focus on Lugh being the  Samildanach , he who is equally skilled in many arts and crafts.  And so, the invitation was given for us to present an offering as a symbol of our own individual crafts. This was also given with an offering of ale (wheat, darling) to the Earth. Or as appropriate, Lugh’s mother, Tailtiu.  We also shared strawberries (harvest, and YES it counts!) In an offering and sharing that reminded me of the sharing of water from the Robin of Sherwood Television Series (the bowl was passed around by Robin’s company with the phrase “May Herne Protect Us”. 

Alas, the slugs had found the strawberries when it came to the picnic so we let them have them.  

Vyvyan’s ceremony was beautiful, it had simplicity and reverence and allowed us all to contribute.  There was even a bit of theatrics involved with her script of Lugh and the Gatekeeper, being enacted by Dumbledore and Strider.  Vyvyan was playing King Nuada. 

Notes: Vyvyan can do a ceremony and we now are all aware of this. 

Dumbledore enjoyed his role of Gatekeeper so much, he kept doing this when ever folks needed to leave the circle to get their offerings….. Dear gods, what have we created!? 

Eisteddfod 

Took place on Tuesday 9th August. 

 Our yearly evening of performance went on for its third cavalcade, Dumbledore hosted it and even opened up with a song from the Mikado…. Something about “Bugger the flowers of spring“. 

Vyvyan played us Carwash Blues by Jim Croce and did so on guitar and her voice like a silky breeze.  Later she gave us a rendition of Pleased To Meet You by Sisters3, after just noodling and strumming. 

Strider was next and began by telling the story of ‘The Devil Rides Out’ which he told us all last year, but as the story went on, he, me and Dumbledore assailed everyone with a taste of our Tales From The Fireside…. I must admit that I was a bit unsure as to whether or not Teller would like it, but he seemed to be laughing enough, so we must have done good.  

Danceswithweasels brought out the Saxophone and played two tunes by Stan Getz, these were Desafinado and Girl from Ipanema.  Apparently Dumbledore had requested some Jazz and Danceswithweasels wanted to oblige.  I’m glad she did as her playing brought a smooth calming quality. 

I gave a Shakespearean monologue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Oberon tells of Puck his idea for getting his own back on Titania to distract her whilst he takes the Indian Child away.

Teller gave a rather interesting observation in that he compared Oberon to the Welsh Arawn and Puck to Pwll! Something I had never thought of! 

And Teller, keeping in theme with the Fey Folk, told us what he and I jokingly call: The Irish one about whether the Fair Folk will make it to Heaven on Judgement Day.

The rest of the evening saw us reading aloud from various books of stories and poems all of a folk tale nature, then we started playing about with Northern accents, becoz Shakespeare sahnds be’er wi’ it.  

Ashes joined us as a spectator this year, but promised us a representation of agony and blissful despair through the medium of modern interpretive dance…..   Just kidding! 

It was with puppets! 

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Double Whammy: June meeting & Alban Heruin 2016

Meeting took place on Tuesday 14th June 2016

Due to a great administritive cock-up by yours truly, we had to relocate our meeting to a pub, the White Lion in Beeston, Notts.   This gave us a good chance to socialise and even have some friendly debate (worship of deities and how, 10 mins on politics and then normal conversation resumed) as well as catching up and chilling out.

The White Lion has Brazilian owners and food, so when there was confusion over whose dish had arrived (plus, the waiter did call it the name of what I ordered) so I ate it…… to discover it was in fact Danceswithweasels dinner!  I repaid her by letting her have my one instead, once it arrived.

Being a little drunk at the bar, I was delighted to discover they sold cigars! Damn my Tinnitus for making me thing I heard the barman say they were £13 each….. I was charged £30! It was a bloody good cigar though.

Honorary Title: June meeting 2016: The Grove Herald Makes a Tit Out of Himself!

image

Pure indulgence....

Midsummer Misadventures.
Ceremony held on Sunday 20th June
June has been a month of rearranging plans, Alban Heruin was no exception.  The original MC had to pull out for personal reasons and having volunteered to fill in, I had to move the GOC ceremony to the Sunday as I was leading the ceremony for another group on the Monday.  This meant only four of us could attend: One was recovering from an operation, one was coming home from Sweden (hope you had a good time, Tatterhood! X), one had come home to find her electronics had blown due to a fallen tree cutting powerlines, two were ill and a few were celebrating Father’s Day (quite right too!- I knew there was a reason we originally said Monday).

So, me, Cthulhudruid, Greenfingers and Teller endeavoured to make sure the Grove of the Corieltauvi were present for Midsummer…… As the rain fell.  No matter what the weather, our Grove is a beautiful and serene place and it was actually good just to be surrounded by the trees and long grass.

Having moved house that week, I had little time to think of an elaborate ceremony, so drawing inspiration from the Druid Animal Oracle, I went with the Bee (reversed) card about knowing my place and celebrating the hard work.  I worked with good ole’ alcohol and tobacco: mead for the blessing of the Sun, and toasting achievements accomplished this year so far.  My cigar as a gift of peace and pure indulgence as well as sharing all our thoughts on the Solstice and what it meant for us individually.

Our soggy boots were badges of honour, we trampled the grass to make our circle, the small fire spat in the rain and flared at the mead (for there was mead and it was good) then died out as the ceremony reached its end.  There was fellowship in our small company and the blessing of rain was all around us.  Sunshine? Pah! Blue skies? Don’t make me laugh! You can keep your dry solstice celebrations and shove them up your chakras! We embrace nature in all of her forms……

….though I did enjoy an nice warm drink once I was tucked up in my warm, dry duvet that night.

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Oak and Ash – The living legend.

Duir and Nuinn combined

As you all will have seen by now the centre piece of the Corieltauvi Grove Symbol is the Ogham fidha Duir and Nuinn, or Oak and Ash. Their symbolic use within our Grove Sigil can be found in this article: Symbol of the Grove
Which is also somewhere in the Grove blog

However, little did I know until tonight, whilst discussing Solstice plans with a friend, that there is a living embodiment of the combined Duir/Nuinn characters in a conjoined tree near Earl Shilton in Leicestershire (approx 15 miles from where I live). The Oak and Ash have been growing together for the best part of 200 years and essentially have formed into a single tree.

You can read the full story and the folk tales here:
http://earlshilton.org.uk/oa/oak-ash.html

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