If tomorrow never comes,
Then, how much further away from today,
Is the day after tomorrow?
… Our-Father, Lady, Countess-Grae passed light and demure across the softly shifting shades of a turquoise beach.
Formless as beauty likened to the morning mist, her presence cleansed and refreshed the air as she danced; flitting capriciously between the stark but numerous clumps of white seaweed which lay sprawled like bleached and dying spiders: upturned and struggling in the yet cool but rapidly warming, morn-time sun.
They straddled the beach like shredded robes with their puckered strands wafting playful death throes in the sea breeze and as robes which had been wrenched, torn and wildly flung to lie forgotten upon the rising mounds of the blue dunes they appeared to have been discarded and scattered amid the sea’s insatiable passion for the sand.
And in her innocence, in her uncertain, whimsical passing Our-Father, Lady, Countess-Grae’s ruby feet caressed that same dry and now sullied sand: with all its succulence spent and with its surface baked-dry in the aftermath of the sea’s relief.
Yet cajoled and enticed by the arch of her feet and the spring in her step as she ran, the sand was compressed and spilled forth a deeper moistness; the dark clammy grains of which clumped and clung in a rich blue pulp and which squashed and squelched between the niches of her toes; cold, and invigorating as the new day which dawned all around.
A girl again, her laughter bubbled between short gasps, gurgled, giddy and pure as she moved; her reckless spirit sprightly and unabashed, flowing swifter and swifter, until, exhausted from running but still in playful mood she succumbed, collapsing onto the blue-green terrain beside a large vermilion boulder which squatted upon the lip of a small rock pool: its shade only vaguely unsettling her as she fell, splaying out her pale, slender limbs in limp, abject surrender to her surroundings.
As she gradually began to recover and her breath grew more even, her fingers scratched and gently scraped at the purple moss that spread like speculative boredom in dark, sporadic patches across the rock’s hunched and brooding form.
But she remained unmindful of the delicate intricacies and patterns which she so idly created for she was lost in the emerald-green sky and there she bathed her resting soul in the lushness of its translucence…
Earl Grae slumbered sardonically in his shell.
“…Still on your mind then?”
“Is what still on my mind?”
“I don’t understand.”
“The ‘he’ look, behind you.”
The etchings which she had scratched in the moss spelled Samuel.
“I still don’t understand.”
“The ‘He’, that is his name.
That is what he is ‘called’. That is what he is ‘known as’ or ‘goes by’.
That is his title; ‘hearkened unto’, or ‘requested by, the Lords’.
“Oh!” She read the name pronouncing each letter “… Who decided?”
“…When you were bathing…”
“Sa-M-U-El… mmm, I like that.”
“I like it too. A commendable choice…”
“Why, thank you, it was nothing… but, does Sam-U-El struggle, does Samu- El hurt?”
“Yes, of course he does but he loves it to death.”
“Oh death, Samuel has touched death then?”
“Grasped dear, grasped.”
“Sorry, grasped. How do you know?”
“I read it somewhere…
Here, tell me what you think.”…
…“But the Angles were a British tribe, right? And the Saxons were German?”
We are back in Wen’s study after the half triumph of the first of our Glastonbury talks, which aside from a few timing problems, went as well as could have been expected in view of the weather and the somewhat intricate complications of the run up.
“No, that’s not right either; both the Saxons and the Angles were Germanic tribes.”
“Our country is now named after a Germanic tribe! I think we need to know more about the Anglo-Saxons and the original Britons who could, perhaps, be more or less synonymous with what we now like to call the Celts.”
“As you may have already surmised my sense of history is somewhat sketchy at the best of times but in relation to the Anglo-Saxons and what went before it is practically non-existent.”
“That’s hardly surprising. Much of their contribution to these lands was conveniently forgotten after 1066, for obvious reasons.”
“Well, they certainly seem to have got the proportions of their churches spot on at least for the smaller sites. There is an Irish reference to the coming of Christ in one of the Conchobar stories, something about a ball being shaken loose from his head and killing him. He was also regarded as a sort of giant if memory serves. I had always assumed that the story, or at least that particular aspect of it, was merely a monkish interpolation.”
Wen is checking something in the Dictionary, “Get this… ‘Ætheling from O.E . . . . Æpling, ‘son of a king, man of royal blood, nobleman, chief, prince, king, Christ, God-Man, Hero, Saint…’
“Wait a minute… wait a minute… give me that last bit again.”
“…Christ, God-Man, Hero, Saint…”
“Didn’t we call our Arthur, Aeth in, ‘The Heart of Albion’?”
“And didn’t we set his story in Mercia?”
“And didn’t Mercia grow to become the largest and most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Albion at one point in its history?”
“It did indeed.”
“Well that’s it then…The Anglo Saxon kings were claiming divine descent.”
“…Along with most other European kings at that time no doubt.”
“That’s true, but the Anglo-Saxon kings’ descent wasn’t from God it was from Christ.”
“And how did they get there?”
“They got there from their very own High One who also hung from a tree with a spear in his side… shrieking.”
“They evidently regarded Christ as an avatar of Odin.”
“Blimey, you’ll not read that in any history book!”
“Just as well we’re not writing a history then isn’t it?”
‘…all the great thinkers recognise the importance of rational thought and also the importance of getting beyond the rational and that’s where the myths and fairy stories come in…’ – The Heart of Albion
Ancient terms of measurement are fascinating not least because many of them successfully encompass the apparently yawning gulf between the microcosm of the human body and the macrocosm of the universal…
It is quite possible that the humble barley seed, or kush, whilst representative of one second in time was also the basis for the staple of our first civilisation.
They have the ‘ring’ of authenticity about them these terms which must once have stood at the pinnacle of the human endeavour to comprehend.
To ‘fathom’ means to measure but also to understand and is roughly equal to the length of a ‘grown man’s’ outstretched arms.
Finger tip to finger tip…
Something which is ‘fathomless’ then means something too big for you to get to grips with, quite literally.
It is also the preferred length measurement for sounding depths.
Perhaps, because the outstretched arms span the heart?
There is an inherent value judgement here which must be very old.
Depth is harder to understand than length and harder to measure.
So it must be worth more in terms of expended effort.
The vertical carries more weight than the horizontal.
A yard is not quite so hard to compass.
Finger tip to heart…
Because of the nature of league tables we had always assumed that leagues were a depth measurement but apparently not, they too refer to length.
But what of ‘Seven League Boots’?
Sensibly, they should allow a stride of twenty-one miles or perhaps a jump of forty-two but they do neither.
In the Folk Record they are used to keep pace with Giant’s who step from hill to hill or from site to site which map out the lay of the land.
In real time such sites appear to mark the natural thresholds of eye-sight, and the daily trek on foot…
In other words they make the step up from feet to miles.
The distance they cover then is far vaster and their ramifications even more so but not without possible compass for the finely tuned mind to consider.
‘…The Demon Lord Bali had overcome Indra, Lord of the Gods and was enjoying the Empire of the Three Worlds.
The assembly of the Gods, distressed with fear, went to the Hermitage of the Perfect where Vishnu was engaged in contemplation:
‘Bali, the son of Virocana,’ they said, ‘is performing a sacrifice, what benefit for the gods is there in this?’
Thus petitioned, Vishnu adopted a Dwarvish form approached the Demon Lord and begged from him the boon of three small paces which were granted him.
With the first step Vishnu re-assumed his normal aspect and occupied the Whole Earth, with the second step he broached the Eternal Atmosphere, and with the third, the Everlasting Sky… He made Bali, the son of Virocana a Dweller in the Underworld and gave the Empire of the Three Worlds back to Indra…’
If anyone does ever come across a pair of Seven League Boots, we’d be grateful were you to let us know!
“The peat-bog is as the raven’s coat,
the stuttering quagmire rehearses
the talk of the rushes is come;
the ocean sinks asleep into
a smooth sea and the river
which runs apace is cut down;
light swallows dart aloft;
a flock of birds settles in
the midst of a meadow.
A bright shaft has been shot
into the land, splendid is colour
now, settling on every height,
like haze on a lake of full water;
white is every fruitful wood
wherein winds a brawling stream
and the bright green fields rustle
their longing to race wild horses;
blossom covers the world,
bees murmuring no protest,
make heavy their harvest;
the rich mast buds,
and the ant, puny with
strength, carries abundant meal;
the soft white bog-down grows,
the long hair of heather is outspread,
the boughs of the wood are a thicket.
of the forest
a strenuous bard,
the hill; the lofty,
sings a welcome to
the warm pool where
fleet hordes drink and
the speckled fish leap.
The bitterness of bad weather
is past, rough winter has gone,
delightful is the season’s splendour;
perfect is each forest from top to ground;
perfect, each stately plain, and perfect the
peace, as panic startles the heart of the deer;
strong then the bound of the swift warrior,
where the ranked host is ranged round:
and when man flourishes, the maiden
buds in her fair, strong pride.
The blackbird sings a full
lay, if there be but one
slender shaft of day.
the lark trills
the loud cuckoo
little fellow warbles
at the top of his voice:
season surpassing !
of delicate colours…
of joyous peace!’”
After a long, long, hot summer,
The mornings have finally turned autumnal.
Which must mean,
That Mister Fox,
Cannot be very far away…
Saturday October 27th
Night of the Hunters Moon
Waggon and Horses
And should you need to bone-up on
What, precisely, is involved here…
Some reading matter
In the form of three rather fantastic graphic novels
All available to buy on Amazon…
Back in the low slung car I stare into the gloom.
A quiet has descended with the mist.
It is the silence that preludes any portentous event.
The car lurches and veers suddenly and we bounce up a dirt track and skid to a halt at the foot of Dragon Hill.
“You didn’t mean to come this way did you?”
“This way, that way…what does it matter?”
It is my turn to look mysterious as we set off up the hillock.
The chill snags my breath as we climb and the mist swirls and eddies, clinging to our legs and arms like star stuff.
I nearly lose my balance a number of times for no apparent reason, a sure sign if one were needed that we are approaching the numinous…
… Rice-Bird now knew the thing that Skunk feared and he began to throw his voice in a whistle from Skunk’s back-pack.
“Ugh!” cried Skunk when he heard the whistle and he turned and fled in the opposite direction.
But Rice-Bird threw his voice into a whistle again and again stopped Skunk in his tracks.
“Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!” cried Skunk.
But whichever way Skunk fled, Rice-Bird threw his voice into a whistle which sounded like it was coming from up ahead and it was not long before Skunk was exhausted from running in circles without getting anywhere.
Skunk collapsed onto the ground, prostrate. “I am tired,” he said to himself, “it is too much for me to be carrying such a weight on my back, I will hang up my brother, here, while I go on and then return for him later.”
So Skunk stripped off all Rice-Bird’s adornments, for Rice-Bird was again playing dead, and hung him up on a thorn bush.
As Skunk turned to leave, Rice-Bird emitted a low whistle, and Skunk swiftly scampered away from the thorn bush in fear.
With one long, strong, final blast of a whistle, Rice-Bird sent Skunk far and away up the valley at a pace before he finally disappeared in a cloud of dust.
“That’ll teach him,” laughed Rice-Bird, unhooking himself from the thorn bush.
He had lost the beads from around his neck but at least he was still alive…
to be continued
… “There is nothing I fear!” sang Skunk going his way, “there is just nothing I fear! Should a boulder roll at me as I pass I would squirt it with musk and blast it into a thousand pieces, there is nothing I fear! Should a pine tree fall over me I would squirt it with musk and split it into a thousand splinters, there is nothing I fear!”
Just then Skunk stopped in his tracks for a thought had come to him.
A long buried memory of the one thing that he did fear.
“Just one thing I fear,” went the song before Skunk could stop it, and that made Skunk even more nervous. He started running to and fro from one side of the valley to the other, “Only one thing I fear,” went the song as Skunk wheedled his way up the valley.
Rice-Bird, who had been feigning death in Skunk’s back pack the whole time could hear all his prattling.
“Oh, I do wish Skunk would name his fear,” thought Rice-Bird.
“There is one thing I fear so I will have to name it,” went on Skunk.
“Oh good,” thought Rice-Bird.
“The thing I fear is whistling, the thing I fear is whistling!”
With his fear out in the open of the wide valley, Skunk became even more frightened and he bolted at top speed up the valley…
to be continued