Several years ago I sought to uncover my family history. I spent a lot of time at the Hall of Records in Atlanta Georgia, where I was born, tracing my family roots through Kalamazoo Michigan and then back to Pembroke shire Wales U.K. In time I got as far back as Cadifor ap Colwyn (a.k.a. Cadifor Vawr, ‘the Great’), Lord of Dyfed (Pembroke shire) and one of the 15 ancient Peers of Wales. I have been unable to get beyond him and am uncertain of his birth dates or age at the time of his death, in 1089 C.E. What is obvious, is that he was a member of the Old Welsh Religion and was devoted to the Gracious Goddess (probably Gwen25)26. While meditating on him and my relationship to him, I experienced the following exploit. It isn't really applicable to the topic at hand, but I thought I'd include here. Whether or not this tale is ‘true’ I can not say. I will call it a true fiction:
I am known as Philipp ap Colwen.
Back when manhood was approaching me, when my youthful body began to sprout as a ripe sapling of the Goddess at Beltain,27 I had an experience which I shall long remember. The Burning Times28 were just reaching our Covendom,29 and rumors were everywhere to be heard. Being but eleven or so, I paid them little heed, for despite the dark tales of dunkings and burnings,30 I still felt safe in the Love of the Lady of Light and Her Horned Consort.31
My community lived in the outskirts of Blaenkych in Southern Wales. Early one morning, since I had desire to experience the love of a woman, my manhood being upon me, my mother sent me off towards the Sacred Cave known as Cadifor's Oven, established by my ancient kinsman Cadifor ap Colwyn,32 in search of Blue Vervain to wear in a pouch about my neck. I was, as you might expect, quite eager to gain the assistance of the Lady of Love in this matter, so I set off at first light.
About mid-day, having a considerable amount, I must admit a bit more than I needed, I began to climb back down towards Blaenkych. As I came around the side of a ridge looking out towards Swansea, I heard a terrible commotion below me. I hid myself in a grove of Rowan and saw an oddly dressed Cowen33 woman being hauled toward a brook against her will by a goodly crowd of Cowen men. Leaving my hiding place, I quickly ran home and called for the women's aid. After gathering in the center of the Covenstead the Mighty Ones,34 women and men, rushed off towards Swansea. I tried to go with them, but my aunt restrained me.
In three hour's time they returned. Gwyllym ap Bledri, a Ninth Timer,35 poured a mixture of Quince Seed and Lucky Bluing Water on the ground before the Wicci and Wicca36 to invoke the Goddess to protect us from the approaching danger. After binding the Power of Harm, he explained that the woman I had seen was the wife of a traveling christian bishop. A group of Cowen who followed the Roman Rule,37 these were much less tolerant than the ones who converted to the new religion38 in Ireland, had seen her washing her clothes in a nearby stream. To their horror, after washing the outside of her garments, she washed the inside of her pockets! This, they concluded, was evidence that she secretly practiced the Old Ways, since, they explained before her dunking began, “No good christian washes that which can't be seen!”39
After exhorting us to use caution, those who knew the Art of physical combat prepared themselves and those who knew the Art of force of defense40 began their Work. As for me, I went and sat by the sea, pondering what such portents might mean.
Later that night, when our scouts reported that the death cult41 had left the area, many of us resorted to the Grove of Silence a half league42 away to perform the Work of Peace.43 As we entered the circles44 everyone sat quietly in the Lap of She Who Gives Peace.
After a time the musicians began to quietly play on their tabors,45 dulcimers and other instruments. Ever so slowly the Sacred Song of the Lady and Lord began to flow through the circles. Everyone was swaying gently with its flowing invocation of praise. In time the song changed, the tabors sped the beat and everyone knew that the Lady and Lord had arrived:
My lot in life's no matter,
Howe'er my die is cast.
My family's the circle;
Forever in Peace we'll last!46
Over and over the chant was uttered and we became as one. As the Cone of Power was raised47 a few of the women (some skyclad, others robed48) mounted the Horses of Hu49 and began to ride the Power deosil50 as it grew towards the tops of the surrounding trees. They were accompanied by the Shining Lights.51 The men likewise arose and danced around the circles. Like the women, some were skyclad, others were not. Soon the whole of the circles were circumambulating the Old Black Stone52 which stood in the center of each. I too danced as I had never danced before. I felt my pulsating body lifting off the ground, flying through the outer regions of the universe, yet always, eternally, bound to the gentle Body of Our Terrestrial Lady.
As the Cone of Power rose, as the tabors increased their sped, as my self identity became consumed in the bliss of the Lord of the Dance, everything became Light, much brighter than the mid-day Sun. Suddenly, profoundly, in orgasmic ecstasy such as is knowable only to those who dance with Hu Gadarn in one of His manifold Forms and Attributes, the Cone was filled with the seeds of Power and everyone released their Peace and dropped to the ground well spent.
One by one we slowly sat up, each facing the Old Black Stone in the center of our Circles. From the central Circle the Drawers Forth53 arose. Due to the time of year, She wore a long flowing white robe. Her head was crowned with the Crescent Moon. He stood before us skyclad, His head adorned with a horned helmet. The Lady and the Lord spoke of the day's events as the cakes and ale54 were passed out.
I listened for a while, but my head grew heavy from too much ale. My attention had left with the releasing of the Power, something I was often warned to avoid. Despite this, there was a Knowing upon me55 which I knew to be a gift from the Lady. Perhaps it was Her way of apologizing for not giving my mother time to make my love bag. I forgave the Goddess, after all, nobody's perfect. I would have to wait another year for the right time to make the bag, but I understood. I could always enjoy physical love with the boys and girls of the covenstead; I mainly wanted a Blue Vervain bag to join the fertility ritual which would take place later that month.56 Without it I'd have to wait another thirteen cycles of the Moon to take part in the Sacred Marriage.57
As I sat gazing at the Old Black Stone I heard the sound of geese flying overhead and knew that Vron's White Hounds with their red ears were roaming through the dark night.58 In the distance I could hear their eerie call. The Goddess59 glanced at me, and I knew that She too had heard the summons. She also knew that it was a call for me alone. I steadied my seat before the fire afraid to respond, but was soon drawn away.60
As the flickering lights of the Fire faded behind me I walked forward into the moon drenched night. As I proceeded I was approached by none other than Vron's Cwm Annwfm.61 I followed them through the Wood.
We walked for what seemed an eternity, but was surely no more than an hour. At last we reached a Sea I had never before seen. Although our covendom was near the mouth of the channel at the Western Sea,62 I knew it was not that Sea which I beheld. It was different, more powerful, as if it were a product of the Mists.63
As I stood on the bank of that marvelous Sea a most seductive Voice called me by name, bidding me come. I stared into the Mists, uncertain of how to respond to such a mystical Call. Soon a small vessel with the wooden head of She Who Assures Safe Passage approached the shore. It was long, perhaps thirty feet in length and there were three oars on either side. Although the oars churned the dark greenish water below with a most even stride, yet I saw no one on board to man them. In the rear of the boat sat the Hounds of Hu, offering me a seat.
As soon as I climbed aboard the boat left the shore, being conveyed by those specter oarsmen. As we set out they sang a song of the Sea. Its eerie monotonous tune, which to this day I still recall, sent chills up my spine. My head was filled with the distant sound of the music of the Dwellers of the Mountain Passes, dulcimer sweet.
After a time we docked at the base of the tallest mountain I had ever seen. Surely, I thought to myself, even Snowdon64 Itself could not rival the beauty and vastness of this Breast of the Mother of Life! Its top I could not see, nor its width. It towered above the Earth and into the realms of the Father of the Heavens, perhaps even beyond to the very Throne of the Celestial Mother who gives all Light! It was covered with snow, yet I sensed a gentle, life-giving heat everywhere permeating from it.
The dogs left the boat and I followed them up a steep yet passable trail towards the summit. From the nipple of this Mother of all Mountains I began to hear the sound of war instruments. As we continued to walk these fearful sounds increased. Once we arrived at the summit however I saw no one, all was silent. I sat at the base of a Juniper and floated off into the Land of Dreams.65
When I awoke the Sun was rising in the eastern Sky. Before me was set a banquet of most exquisite foods. I had not thought of hunger, yet with the sight and smell of this food I became famished. As I began to eat one of the golden apples the Hounds approached, carrying with them flasks of mulberry wine, which they offered me. As I ate and drank they explained that for what was to come I must have my full strength. Looking about me I saw that the previously snow covered summit had been transformed by Lady Day into an ocean of wild flowers.
I spent the day in contemplative repose. The thoughts of the previous day seemed as but a dream, devoid of any real significance. The Goddess would continue to provide for us as She always had. Of this I was certain. Just then a chill Wind blew across my face and my spine tingled with ill omens as a black bird flew overhead. I began to weep, knowing that the Ways of my ancestors would soon cease, being destroyed by those who follow the Dead God.66
As the Sun began to dip into the Western Sea I again heard in the distance the sounds of war preparation. As I stood and looked out at the blood red sunset I saw a band of minstrels walking towards me across the clouds as if they were as solid as the Earth Herself. As they approached I heard a bell as clear as elfin crystal chime three times. As they stepped onto the mountain one of them, an elderly woman wrapped in a blanket of the finest purple, approached me.
"Blessed Be dear brother!" she said in a voice which was both challenging and consoling. "Today is the Battle enjoined!"
As I beheld, a great horde of Goddesses and Gods covered the clouds as specks on the Serpent's body. They came from the four sides of the Earth. Before me I beheld all the Divine Beings of the ancient world. Opposed to them were staged great battalions of those who know not the Ancient Way.
Fiercely did they fight. At times the Lord and Lady seemed victorious and my heart would soar, yet at other times the dead god triumphed and within me was an aching pain of sadness and loss such as I had never known. At first the death cult embraced many of the external trapping of the Life Affirmers. They adopted the Sacred Days, naming Yule as the time of their god's birth. Samhain they took as the day to honor their dead ‘saints’. Our celebration of Eostar likewise became their easter. Even the Celebration of Lights (Imbolc) they took as their candlemas, changing the life affirming Lady Bridgid into a damnable virgin.
As the fighting continued the exhausted worshipers of the crucified one exclaimed that despite their power and might never could they defeat the Lady and the Lord of Life and Light. Therefore their forces of doom and darkness sped downward to the Earth. “If we can not destroy the Goddess and Her Consort, at least we can kill those who praise Them!” With that the followers of he who preached love began to brutally slaughter all who held the Goddess and God in honor, torturing them with ghoulish glee. They held their heads under the water till they drowned, proclaiming that thus did their god betake his righteous vengeance. Others they sentenced to the rack or beat with spiked chains. In time their evil, blood-stained crosses reached our own Sacred Island. Everyone and everything I knew and loved was ... these were the Burning Times. It was then that I learned the meaning of the word evil.
I watched as millions of those who held to the Old Religion fell lifelessly to the ground. Above that ocean of lifeless corpses, laughing with sadistic glee, stood priests with white collars and protestants with bible's in their hands. They scoffed at my pain, they mocked the old Gods and Goddesses as they swore blind allegiance to their bloody christ. In the end, the menacing christian cross covered the land with its dark and blood-drenched shadow even as the setting Sun makes everything red at day's end. Indeed, our day was at its end. Over six million dead in Britain alone. The Lady and Lord had fled.
In the wake of this horrific slaughter I looked at the ancient Wicci who stood before me. I struggled to express the question “why?” but was unable to speak. No matter, for I knew that even this ancient seer could not explain the massacre which its perpetrators called love. I fell to the ground, unable to breath or think or be. It was as if all life had left me.
After some time my composure returned. I looked up to where the aged Wicci had once stood, but she had been replaced by the Great Goddess Herself. The Queen of the universes gently lifted me from the ground, smiled lovingly, and said, “As goodness and gentleness is driven into hiding, so too shall I, grieving for My children, be hidden in the tear-stained heart of the Earth. During these Dark Times the God, My eternal Consort, shall reign alone, as best He can. The people will be so filled with ignorance and arrogance that they will deny Me. Good words shall not avail. Be Wise my child!
"In time however, after long battles and persecutions are over, Wisdom will return and I, the Lady of the Light of Wisdom, along with My people, will return like the grass in yonder field. Until then, store deep within your heart what you have and keep it ever hidden in your heart and mind. Until the Burning Times Be completed:
Listen to the words of the Great Mother, She Who was of old called among men Artemis, Astarte, Diane, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrod, Bride, and by many other Names. At Mine alters the youth of Lacedemon in Sparta made due sacrifice. Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the Moon is full, then ye shall assemble in some secret place and adore the Spirit of Me Who am Queen of the Witcheries. There shall ye assemble, ye are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets. To these will I teach things that are yet unknown. And you shall be free from slavery. And as a sign that ye be truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites. And shall dance and sing, feast, make music and love, all in My praise. For Mine is the ecstasy of the Spirit, and Mine also is joy on earth, for My Law is Love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal. Strive ever towards it. Let naught stop you nor turn you aside. For Mine is the secret door which opens upon the door of youth. And Mine is the cup of wine of life, and the Cauldron of Carridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality. I am the Gracious Goddess Who gives the gift of joy unto the hearts of man. Upon Earth I give peace and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice, for behold, I am the Mother of all the living and My Love is poured out upon the Earth. Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, she in the dust of Whose Feet are the host of the heavens, Whose Body encircles the universe. I Who am the beauty of the green Earth, and the white Moon amongst the Stars, and the mystery of the Waters, and the desire of the heart of man call unto they soul: Arise and come unto Me. For I am the Soul of Nature Who giveth life to the universe, from Me all things proceed, and unto Me all things must return, and before My face, beloved of gods and men, thine inmost divine self shall be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let My worship be within the heart that rejoiceth. And thou who thinkest to seek for Me, know this: Thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee naught, unless thou knowest this mystery: If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.67 BLESSED BE!
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