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Sep. 29th, 2014

Storyteller

thomasrymour

The Leaf and Dragon

Feel welcome to visit Tree Leaves' in its most recent manifestation - a brick and mortar store front called : The Tree Leaves' Oracle: The Leaf and Dragon located at:

    33 North First street Suite 1
    Ashland, Oregon 97520

    1-800-605-9705
    info@treeleavesoracle.org


A treasure horde from The Tree Leaves' Oracle (faeries, fantasy, pirates, zombies, and folklore) and The Jelling Dragon (Viking and Medieval Re-enactment crafts).

Nov. 2nd, 2011

Storyteller

thomasrymour

Happy Birthday Tree Leaves!



The Tree Leaves' Oracle and Folk Fellowship
* www.treeleavesoracle.org * 1991 - Present * Livejournal Community * Facebook Group * Facebook Business Page *


Founded in 1991 as an underground Neo-Pagan newsletter, evolving into an arts and crafts wandering business, "Tree Leaves" eventually mutated into a cooperative / collective of folk enthusiasts, folklorists, artists, musicians, religionists, and culturalists who seek to preserve folk and tree lore, culture, ways, religion, art, music, and beliefs. As a cooperative, members network together, share ideas, theories, concepts, art, techniques, and lore to help one another preserve traditions, knowledge, and beliefs that have been generated in the past, present, and future. Tree Leaves sprouted from an entity known as "The Tree Leaves' Oracle". (The Tree Leaves' Oracle started as a community newsletter and grew into a journal. It became an organization, a store, a company, and was reduced back to a journal offered by the Folk Fellowship to it's membership. From 2007-2008 it became a faerie and art store in historic Manitou Springs, Colorado.)

When "The Tree Leaves' Oracle" started out as a Tallahassee Florida publication in 1991 it very quickly shifted into a nomadic arts/crafts/oils/ and herbal sachets nomadic peddling business founded at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon that same year. In 1993 a not-for-profit special-interest group was formed for the study of folklore and the offering of folk artist networking as a avenue for drum circles, talent shows, classes, and discussion groups. This special-interest group became known as "The Tree Leaves' Folk Fellowship". Tree Leaves soon took off on it's own and escaped the financial support of "The Tree Leaves' Oracle". In fact, as the "The Tree Leaves Oracle, Inc." collapsed as a corporation, the Folk Fellowship was still holding activities and networking several hundred enthusiasts of folk culture (and a membership base of a couple hundred). The Tree Leaves Folk Fellowship was officially born and founded as a separate entity in November of 1995 with conceptual activities sprouting in 1994. Through membership dues and support, the fellowship offered it's collective a bi-annual journal called The "Tree Leaves' Oracle", a quarterly newsletter known as "Tree Talk", an annual membership directory, a web site, and a board of Directors and volunteers who actively organized activities, events, and question/answer support for those seeking answers about folk culture. Because of difficulties with volunteer support, The Tree Leaves' Folk Fellowship closed it's person-to-person activities and community support on September 1st of 1998. By October 1, 1998 Tree Leaves had mutated into a internet organization that operated on a strictly cyber-basis. (although Tree Leaves' Folk Fellowship forest groups still held activities in their local areas) The official organization stopped holding events, printing paper publications, and no longer offered telephone or person-to-person guidance & support. After careful consideration of the expenses involved in becoming a non-profit tax-exempt organization, Tree Leaves decided to remain not-for-profit and allow other organizations to donate support and funding for it's operation and existence. The journal, website and former newsletters were shortly made available for free online. Their folk journal is sporadically still published online for free viewing by anyone with internet access. From 1998 to 2000, Tree Leaves was adopted by the research and design firm known as "Leafworks, Inc." (a company now defunct). From the death of Leafworks, Tree Leaves operated under the wings of Wandering Leaf Designs. Reproduction of all cyber published materials was available for a nominal printing or reproduction cost through copyright held by Wandering Leaf, LLC. (now defunct)

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Feb. 18th, 2011

Vargo

techno_gypsy

"The British Tree Leaf" Festival Tent: 2001-Present




"The British Tree Leaf"
a.k.a. The Tree Leaves' Merchanting or Bodypainting Camp Tent

2001 C.E. to Present. :

It was in 2001 that Sir Thomas Leaf was blessed with this new festival tent. The tent was created by the infamous seamstress "Bonefinder" for Leaf in Vancouver, British Columbia. It consists of a historic British Columbia Forestry Shelter Tent extended and expanded with canvas, velcro flaps, door ties, and patching by Bonefinder. Long dowel tent poles with recycled plastic bottle tops hold up the tent, while split 1x1 end poles hold up the corners and flaps, staked and corded with rope and rebar stakes. It is an easy to setup up tent with another person, and about a 30 minute chore for a single person. It has served Leaf well and while it has sustained damage from a tornado at Starwood, high wind rips at several Burning Man festivals, and mold damage from East coast festivals, it still stands and serves the Techno-Gypsie travels.

Burning Man:
"Tree Leaves Body Painting Station at Black Rock City" - Burning Man 2003, Burning Man 2004, Burning Man 2006, Apogaea 2008, Burning Man 2008, Apogaea 2009
, Burning Man 2010.

For five (unconsecutive) years, Leaf McGowan has been setting up a Body Painting theme station at Burning Man. This camp, consists of a shelter, water, tables, chairs, stools, throw sheets, pillows, mirrors, and approximately $300-500 worth of paints / art supplies that visitors to the station can use to paint themselves, paint one another, or be painted by Leaf when he's in camp. This is Leaf's gift to Black Rock City every year that he goes as Black Rock City is a non-commercial event and community, where everyone brings gifts and excess to share. As an example, while Leaf shares his paints and art; his neighbour down the corner might have a soft freeze ice cream parlor where a visitor to that camp could bring a cup or bucket and have free ice cream pumped into it for them, or one of several hundred bar camps where a visitor just needs to bring a cup to get a free fill of alcoholic drinks, beer, or wine. Another camp may offer free massages or baths, scalp massages, or poetry, rollerskating rink or a ride. Because at Burning Man, it is a gift economy. It is a true meaning of what community should be mixed with self-reliance and self sustainability. Sharing of resources when one has excess, gifting gifts because one wants to, and making another happy or content. That is Burning Man.

Adaptable to any festival, the Tree Leaves' Bodypainting Tent becomes a festival booth at other festivals, such as those with a commercial nature. Underneath this shelter can be found tables of arts, crafts, herbs, books, paintings, artwork, faerie figurines, collectible rocks, and Leaf doing tarot readings or bodypainting. Sometimes, if you are lucky, one evening at a festival, you might be blessed with one of his magic shows. Other evenings you might find a nice space to chill and chat, exchange stories, music, or art.

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Feb. 9th, 2011

Storyteller

thomasrymour

Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Queen

* August 7, 1560 - August 21, 1614 *

Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed was a late 16th century Hungarian countess who became legend for her mass serial murders of her servants after which she would bathe in their virgin blood in order to retain her beauty and youth. (She was also known as the "Blood Countess", "Countess Dracula", or the "Blood Queen" and more accurately as Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian and Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak) She, along with four collaborators, were accused of killing over 650 victims who were primary young female girl servants, but was only convicted for 80 of them, involving no trial or conviction. She's become the focus of vampire myth and legend, high in popularity with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia whom Bram Stoker's Dracula is based.

She was born to George and Anna Bathory in 1560 raised at the Ecsed Castle with links to the Voivod family of Transylvania. She was also the niece of Stefan Bathory, former King of Poland and Duke of Transylvania. She was raised very literate and scholarly, having been fluent with Latin, Greek, and German as well as being obsessed with the study of science and astronomy. She was a very knowledgable woman who often intervened on behalf of destitute women. In 1575 she wed Ferenc Nadasdy, potentially as a political arrangement, in the little palace of Varanno. They then moved to Nadasdy Castle in Sarvar, spending much of her time alone while her husband studied in Vienna as well as when in 1578 he became the chief commander of the Hungaran Troops during the war against the Ottamans. Her husband gifted her the Csejte Castle that is located in the Little Carpathians near Trencsen which came with a country house and 17 adjacent villages, agricultural lands, and outcrops of the Little Carpathians. While he was away at war, she managed the castle and estate affairs which involved providing food, sustainability, and medical care for the Hungarian and Slovak peasants. She had to defend her husband's estates that were on the route to Vienna during the height of the Long War which lasted from 1593 to 1606. This was a difficult feat as the castle and village previously had been plundered by the Ottamans. In 1585 she gave birh to her daughter Anna, then a second daughter named Ursula, and finally a son Tomas - both of whom died at a young age. In 1594 she gave birth to Katherine, then a son Paul in 1597, and finally Miklos. Her husband died in battle at the ripe age of 47 in 1604 C.E. It was shortly after his death that the local church and villagers began to complain about atrocities purportedly done by Elizabeth. Rumor had it that one of her handmaidens had accidentally cut herself and splattered blood on the countess. As the countess wiped off the blood she was impressed with the fact her skin looked younger, lighter, and rejuvenated beneath it. It was rumored then that she went on a murder spree killing her servants and bathing in their blood to become younger. It took the Hungarian authorities some time to respond and investigate the accusations. By 1610 she was under investigation of murder. Testimonies from over 300 witnesses it was proposed she had killed mainly the adolescent daughters of local peasants lured to work in the castle as maidservants, then she moved on to killing daughters of lesser gentry who were sent to the castle to learn courtly etiquette, and many others were believed to have been abducted with estimates of over 650 victims. Even with testimonials and minimal evidence, the government bypassed a trial and execution for fear of the public scandal it would cause the noble family (who at the time was ruling Transylvania) and would cause her property to become siezed by the crown. They debated sending her to a nunnery but realized she needed to be under strict house arrest and released King Matthias' debt to her. December 1610, the authorities arrested Bathory and four of her servants who were believed to be accomplices. They reportedly only found one girl dead, one girl dying, and another girl wounded with others locked up. King Matthias requested the death sentence for her, but again, for fear of affecting the noble family's reputation, was dismissed. Her associates were tried and punished in 1611 even though Bathory did not appear at the trial. Dorota Semtész, Ilona Jó, and János Újváry were found guilty and served the death penality by having their fingers ripped from their hands before being burnt at the stake. Janos was beheaded before burnt at the stake as he was deemed least guilty. Katarína Benická was sentenced to life imprisonment as was only accused of dominating and bullying the other women. After these trials, Elizabeth was placed under house arrest and walled up in a set of rooms in the Csejte Castle of Slovakia where she remained for four years until she died. She was discovered dead on August 21, 1614 after several plates of food were discovered untouched. She was buried in the castle's churchyard but after villager outcry she was moved to Ecsed interred at the Bathory family crypt.

In addition to accusations of 650 deaths from 1585 to 1610 C.E., only 80 deaths were involved in conviction as Szentes and Janos reported 36 and 37 deaths respectively under their watch with other defendants stating 50+ victims, and other castle staff estimating 100-200 bodies removed from the castle, she was described to have committed:
severe beatings over extended periods of time that often lead to death
the burning or mutilation of hands, faces, and genitalia
The act of biting the flesh off the faces, arms and other body parts

freezing and starving victims to death
performing unnecessary surgery and use of needles on victims, much of which was fatal
sexual abuse

Her victims were believed to have been buried in unmarked graves. She was believed to have killed her victims while at the Csejte castle, but also on the properties of Sárvár, Németkeresztúr, Bratislava, Pozsony, Pressburg, and Vienna, as well as along the countryside inbetween the localities. Several individuals were accused of providing the Countess women procured by deception or force. The number of 650 victims was purportedly written in a book that the Countess logged them yet these diaries were never found. There are 32 letters written by the Countess that are archived in the Hungarian state archives at Budapest. Many believe that Elizabeth was a victim of a conspiracy and was innocent. The accusations came at a time when conflicts between religions and struggle of power of Habsburg over Hungary was occuring. Since she was a powerful Transylvanian Protestant aristocrat, she was opposed by the Habsburgs.

Her legends were first written about in 1729 by the Jesuit scholar László Turóczi’s Tragica Historia. It wasn't until 1817 when the witness accounts were published (which had surfaced in 1765) quoting the bloodbaths and vampiricy.

Jan. 19th, 2011

Storyteller

thomasrymour

Faerieworlds 2010




Faerieworlds 2010

* Friday, 30 July 2010 - Sunday, 1 August 2010 * Mt. Pisgah, Eugene, Oregon * www.Faerieworlds.com *

Every year the portals between the worlds of mortals and faeries open in Eugene, Oregon. For these last two years, this magical space has manifested itself at the Buford Recreation Park in the Mount Pisgah Arboretum just south of Eugene, Oregon. Every year, Faerieworlds becomes more and more spectacular - and this year was none-other. Faerieworlds has become re-designed with an inner circle of camping consisting of over 300 camp sites on its eastern end with night-time activities going from dusk and beyond to dawn's sparkling lights. Every year, more and more mortals and faeries come together to dance, celebrate life, frolick, play, dress-up, make music, art, and tell stories. A health-conscious food court awaits those hungry souls for culinary delights; hundreds of artisans and merchants brandishing their wares for the shopper's pleasure, and costumery, face painting, books, authors, and artistry awaits those intrigued by written and artistic beauty with ability to meet the world reknown faerie artists such as Brian and Wendy Froud and Amy Brown. Mesmerizing music from Faun, Woodland, Delhi 2 Dublin, Tricky Pixie, David Helfand, Brother, Man Overboard, Gypsy Nomads, Talesma, Tyler Fortier, Taarka, Stellamara, Mingushki, Marcus Fire, Ghillie Dhu, Vixy and Tony, High Priestess, Madrona, and SJ Tucker amongst others. A new addition of a sacred Celtic standing stone circle and a wishing tree to enchant wandering souls in Faerieland. More recycling and conscious attention to healing of the Earth. Fires for music jam sessions, spinning, and storytelling in the evenings; a dome with DJ's and dance parties. Aerial arts, hullahooping, fire spinning, and belly dancing. Lots of activities for the kids and adults alike. Swimming and cooling off with the selchies and mer-people in the Willamette River and hiking trails full of woodland creatures and winged pixies. As always, Faerieworlds never disappoints and was a spectacular whirlwind of fun and otherworldly pleasure. Still hands down the best Faerie festival I've had the pleasure of attending. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

Faerieworlds: Day 1 - Good Faeries Day





Faerieworlds Day 2: Bad Faeries

Faerieworlds Day 3: Family Faerie Day

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Jan. 11th, 2011

Storyteller

thomasrymour

American Stonehenge




American Stonehenge
Maryhill, Washington * Contact: Maryhill Museum of Art * 35 Maryhill Museum Drive * Goldendale, Washington 98620 * 509-773-3733 *



American has several stonehenges - replicas of the infamous original from the British Isles. The American Stonehenge at Maryhill is one of the most popular sitting atop a lonely bluff overlooking the town of Maryhill, Washington and the length of the Columbia River. It is a full-size identical replica astronomically aligned of the ancient monument of "Stonehenge" in England. It serves as a replica for those who died in World War I and was built by the road engineer, Sam Hill from 1918-1930. It took him 12 years to perfect the monument, dedicating it on July 4, 1918 and completing it in 1929. He passed away shortly after its completion and was buried at the base of bluff below the monument in a difficult to reach location so that he'd be left alone by the tourists he expected to come see his monument. Hill originally built the monument after being mistakenly informed that the original Stonehenge was used for sacrifice. He wanted to symbolize how humanity was still being sacrificed to the God of War. His monument can be seen ominously looming on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River and easily seen by all passerbys on U.S. Highway 97.

    The dedication plague at the monument reads:

    "In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench."

Sam Hill also built a mansion nearby that hosts the Maryhill Museum of Art holding monuments of the Klickitat County soldiers who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. It is also the very first monument in the United States to be constructed to honor the dead of World War I. The altar stone is aligned with the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. There is no admission to the Memorial.



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Storyteller

thomasrymour

Aeromancy or Cloud Divination



Cloud Omens

Aeromancy or Cloud Omens or Cloud Reading is a form of augery or divination outdoors in nature. The word aeromancy comes from the Greek word "aero" which means "air" and "manteia" which means "divination". It is the divination by observing events in the air or wind including cloud shapes, weather conditions, rainbows, changes in weather patterns, storms, and atmospheric phenomena (including comets and meteors). It can also be used to foretell or predict weather or climate. Its history is popular as far back as use by the Greeks and Romans. Particular attention was paid to cumulus clouds and the shapes, sizes, forms, and pictures they would create. Clouds through history form shapes, faces, fantastic landscapes, mythical creatures, and wonderous images. Theories behind these images are based on one's intuition trying to create an order out of randomness and some believe are reflections of the workings of the inner self. Seers look for these images not only in clouds, but fire embers, nature, water, smoke, and entrails of sacrificed animals in order to establish auguries and portents for the future. Aeromancy can be achieved by studying wind paterns such as with the seer tossing sand or dirt into the wind after asking a question and the answer being retrieved by the nature of the dust cloud. Another method involves throwing a handful of seeds and observing the pattern that the seeds form on the ground. This is sometimes referred to as Austromancy. To many ancients, the wind was the actual breath of life of their God/desses and was one of the most divine of elements. Alternatively, some believed that heated winds were the work of demons. Observing clouds is the most popular form.
Some popular cumulus formations that are known meanings are the Pegasus Cloud represents the mythical Greek God Pegasus. This usually represents meaning that a person will be rising above a problem or escaping from something that is worrying them. It can also be symbollic of someone achieving something great such as in the myth where Bellerophon tried to fly Pegasus to Mount Olympus and can take on a meaning of a Olympian endeavor being accomplished in someone's life. UFO Clouds appear like an Unidentified Flying Object in clear skies or over deserts and when refracting light from the setting sun gives such an image. Carl Jung philosophizes that modern man wants to see flying saucers as he yearns for the wholeness of the inner self symbolized by the shape of a circle. In the East these can be seen as mandalas to aid meditation to establish the inner equilibrium. These can mean wholeness and completion. Grim Reaper Clouds are usually death-like images or symbols in cloud patterns that usually represent death of the old so the new can emerge. These can be seen as positives. Angel Clouds have been seen as portents of untimely death or as a messenger or a blessing that all will go well. During Elvis Presley's cross-country roadtrip in 1964, he claimed he saw a angelic vision in the clouds of Stalin and believed it meant that God was displeased with him. This face then turned into a smiling face of Jesus which he believed was a portent of his untimely death. Rocket Ship could mean a symbol of rapid movement in one's life, breaking free of physical limitations, or explorations of one's personal or inner space and time. By viewing patterns of clouds in the sky, it is believed that one achieves the opportunity to examine what they see and what questions the mind wants to see based on the symbology and patterning of the clouds. It is very similar in practice to the modern psychology pracice of ink blot testing. Based on how a person interprets a pattern can determine much about intuition and train of thought.

One recommended method of cloud prophecy is before looking into the skies, is to ask a direct question, relax, and allow the mind to accept whatever it sees. Before making out a specific patern, use your imagination to see what might be the connecion and do some research into the meanings of different symbols.

Related forms of prophecy are "Eromancy" which involves divination by taking omens from the air, "Austromancy" as divination of studying winds and cloud shapes, "Anemoscopy" as divination by studying the winds including studying the speed, direction, and sound of the wind or observing certain objects blown by the wind. "Nephomancy" is divination by studying clouds and their colors, shapes, and positions in the sky. This practice was called "neladoracht" by the ancient Druids. "Chaomancy" is a form of aeromancy looking for visions in the sky such as in the shapes of clouds and cloud formations. "Ceraunoscopy" is divination by observing thunder and lightning.
"Brontoscopy" is divination by listening to the sound of thunder. "Roadomancy" or "astromancy" is divination by observing stars, comets, and meteors. "Cometomancy" is specifically the taking of omens from comets as "meteormancy" is from meteors.



Cloud Omens



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Dec. 13th, 2010

Storyteller

thomasrymour

Sacred Wells of Brigid in Kildare



Brigid's Well #1, the "Wayward Well", Kildare, Ireland


Brighid's Holy Wells in Kildare
*
Kildare, Ireland


The Goddess or St. Brigid has two holy wells in Kildare? She certainly does. Some say that one of the wells belongs to the Ancient Goddess Brigid while the other well belongs to St. Brigid. Both are sacred, both are holy, and both hold Brigid's magical healing waters. Well #1 is the ancient "original" sacred well of Brigid. Well #2 is the dressed up sacred shrine and park of Brigid with her well. They were two distinctly different entities ... an Ancient Goddess who's ethereal Godly presence can manifest as a human female and the actual magical human nun turned Saint who was the personification of the Deitie. One in the same? could be. Two differently distinct entities who share the common thread? very possibly. Two wells ... that seems to be the case. One for the Goddess and One for the Saint? I would say "both" wells contain "both" the Saint and the Goddess in them. I've come to notice a pattern with this, that the "ancient" Pagan "original" well is often offset from the "Christian" one. This seemed to be the case when I went to see the Madron well in Cornwall, England (though technically that one had "three" - the original one buried in the marsh, the Pagan "original" one offset from the one underwater, and the Christian well house.). There are many Brigid wells in Ireland as well as Britain. As wells were the sacred sites of veneration in the Druidic faith, many also have an associated sacred tree with them that are covered with votive offerings. These are often called "Wishing Trees". Trees covered with "clotties" or ribbons of cloth done as a prayer for healing or a spell to obtain something. Pilgrims come here to get in touch with the well inside themselves. Wells are sacred places where people for thousands of years have come to pray, worship, and reflect. Pagan and Holy wells are often seen as the entrance to the womb of Mother Earth, the source of life. Each holy well usually is always related to healing, and each well usually has a specialty that it performs. Brigid's wells are pretty powerful for healing sore eyes. Brigid is associated with all healing. Her girdle is capable of curing all disease and illness and this well is rumored to make "the blind man seeing, the dumb girl speaking, etc."

Brighid's Holy Well #1 a.k.a. "The Wayside Well"


The first well is the ancient Pagan sacred well of the Goddess Brigid. It is located just next to the car park of the Japanese Gardens. This well / spring itself feeds and nourishes the Gardens themselves. This is the spring source whose waters run off and feeds the newer well. It's not really decorated and is simple, rustic, ancient, and silent. Seemingly forgotten. I has only an inscription sign in Irish that translates "St. Brigid, Mary of the Gael, pray for us." However it is still a major focal point for pilgrimmages and ceremonies. The Brigid Eve ceremonies (January 31st) start at a small fire set up just outside the Japanese Gardens car park with a chanting to the Goddess Brigid which is followed by a candlelit journey of contemplation about the Goddess and the Saint and the spirit that weaves them together. The candle lit journey goes to this well and ends at the second well. It is customary to gather this well water in a bottle because of its strong healing properties and in exchange to leave an offering for the spirits and faeries who dwell there.


"Tobair Bride" / St. Brigid's Well, Kildare, Ireland



Brighid's Holy Well #2 a.k.a. "Tobair Bride" (St. Brigid's Well)


The second well is the "supposed" Christian well of St. Brigid. It's the tourist one. It's the "Official" one. This is the one in the tourist guides, sign posts, and advertisements. It is located in a landscaped grotto at the end of a short lane close to Well #1. The local Catholic clergy moved Christian devotion and practices to this site in the 1950's supposedly out of concern for people's safety in accessing the original well which was at the bend in a narrow busy road. It is here that the Roman Catholic healing well is located. While pilgrims often visit both wells, this is the well where an involved ceremony, similar to the "stations of the cross" is conducted. Pilgrims reflect on the Goddess and/or Saint Brigid and how they weave together.

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Storyteller

thomasrymour

Brigid's Sacred Flame of Kildare


Brighid's Flame
* Kildare, Ireland *


For well over 1,000 years, if not 2,000 years or more, the sacred fire of the Goddess Brigid (now St. Brigid of Ireland) has existed and kept holy / sacred by her followers, priestesses, and/or members of her Order. In Ancient times, the Priestesses of Brighid kept her flame eternally lit with 19 Priestesses keeping vigil that the flame was never extinquished. As Christianity spread through Ireland, the Goddess Brigid was so integral to the Irish population that She could not be eradicated and thereby made a Saint by the Catholic Church. In the 6th century C.E., A nun iconified as "St. Brigid" came to Kildare and built a nunnery/monastery and school on the same site where the Brigid Priestesses were keeping vigil at the Fire Temple eventually absorbing and taking over the duties of the Priestesses now brandishing the torch for Christianity while keeping the Pagan faith alive just hidden. Through many Viking conquests, raids, and wars, the original wooden church, monastery, and foundation was eventually rebuilt as a stone Cathedral by the 13th century. Giraldus Cambrensis wrote in the 12th century that the Flame was attended by twenty "servants of the Lord" at the time of St. Brigid with Brigid herself being he 20th. When she died, the number went down to 19 with each of the nuns taking their turns at night and on the 2oth night, the nineteenth nun would put logs on the fire and St. Brigid would miraculously tend the fire which never went out. By the time Giraldus wrote that, the fire had been continually burning for 600 years, and thereby never had its ashes cleaned out, nor did the ashes ever seem to increase in size. Surrounding the fire was a legendary hedge that no male could ever cross. By Legend, one of Strongbow's men attempted to cross the hedge and wound up going mad. Another had attempted but just as his leg crossed the threshhold, his comrades pulled him back. Unfortunately the leg that did cross became maimed and he was crippled for the rest of his life. The magical hedge no longer exists, but in times of legend, protected the flame from male invaders by cursing them to go insane, die, become maimed, or have their penis wither. The Sisters of Brigid (Catholic nuns) continue the work in safeguarding the eternal flame in Solas Bhride which means "Light of Brigid".

Once during the 1200's the Eternal flame was briefly extinquished by Henry of London, the Norman arch-bishop of Dublin who ordered it to be put out as he considered the tending process to be a Pagan practice and not to be tolerated. It was quickly relit by the locals and the Sisters continued doing this until the 16th century's British Reformation. During the Reformation, King Henry XIII had a campaign to destroy Catholic monasteries and in this process, attacked the St. Brigid foundation at Kildare, thereby extinquishing the flame. On February 1st of 1807, the Bishop of Kildare, Daniel Delany, restored the Sisterhood of St. Brigid and thereby re-lighting the Eternal Flame of Brigid. The Sisterhood of St. Brigid's mission was at this point to restore the Ancient Order and bring back the legacy and spirit of St. Brigid to Kildare (and thereby the world). The town center saw the Flame rekindled in the heart of Kildare's Market Square once again as well, in 1993 by Sister Mary Teresa Cullen, the leader of the Brigidine Sisters at that time. From that point, the Perpetual flame was monitored and kept alive in their home and on February 1, 2006 - the flame was brought back to the center of the Market Square where it has been permanently housed in a large glass enclosed vessel (and numerous flames kept alive in the Sister's houses). The St. Brigid's Flame monument, centered in the photo above, was unveiled by President Mary McALeese on St. Brigid's Day, February 1st, 2006.

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Dec. 12th, 2010

Storyteller

thomasrymour

Brigid's Cross



Brighid's Cross

* Kildare, Ireland *

Another blessed part of my pilgrimmage to Brigid and Kildare was learning more about Brigid's Cross. I had the pleasure of Faerie Moe as a guide, a local friend giving me the tour of Kildare and the sacred wells as well as giving me an on-hands explanation on how to weave a Brigid's Cross. As a dedicant to the Goddess Brigid for over 20 years, in my early years i fumbled at making them, but never made anything as intricate and powerful as the crosses I saw at St. Brigid's shrine and Sister Mary's house. Amazing. Many say that the St. Brigid's Cross, a.k.a. Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde, is actually an Irish symbol of sun worship representing the sun in the center with rays of light coming from it in the shape of the arms of the Cross. Some say it represents a Brigid legend where in the story St. Brigid miraculously hung her wet clothes to dry on a sunbeam. It is also considered a Pagan sunwheel. They are traditionally made on February 1st for Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St. Brigid's feast day). It is also a symbol of Ireland and its provinces. Ireland has four provinces, but in ancient Ireland there were five - an invisible one in the center of Ireland. To some, the Brigid's cross represents the four provinces (in the modern standard design) and in the 5 handed cross like shown in these pictures, representing the 5 provinces. The arms represent North, South, East, West, and Center. The 5th Province, the invisible one, is the province of healing and reconciliation. Brigid's Cross probably first appeared in Ireland between the 2nd century B.C.E. and the 2nd century C.E. It is a folk magic tradition of weaving together straw to creat a equal-armed Celtic cross that represents the Goddess Brigid, or modern day St. Brigid. Taking rushes that are woven together into a swastica-like/Celtic cross-like ornament, with a central square and four spokes protruding from each corner of the square in opposing directions, that has some variations found in Celtic art both ancient and modern. Brigid's cross appears often traditionally on February 1st, the eve of St. Brigid's feast / Imbolc / or Candlemas. In some traditions, the Brideoga or Biddies, young virgin boys who would carry a churndash (post used to churn butter) that is dressed up as a woman or an effigy of St. Brigid, and would go door-to-door through their neighborhood collecting alms for the poor. While collecting alms, they would leave bundles of straw and rushes outside the homes that they visited. At nightfall, young virgin girls would pick them up and ask to be admitted to the homes in the name of Brigid and would weave the rushes into crosses. After traditional prayers and a meal at the homes, the crosses would be placed under the eaves in the house or in the outhouses and sometimes blessed with holy water. The leftover rushes would be woven into a girdle called a "crios" or a tie for cattle or sometimes as a Brid's bed or mattress for the Saint. Just as cattle were traditionally led through holy lakes or doused in water from Brigid's well, they were ofen led through uplifted arches of these girdles. The Brid's bed or holy mattresses were often placed at specific sacred wells and believed to possess curative powers to counter barrenness and to protect families and animals from natural calamiies, especially lightning and fire. Some see the Brigid's cross as symbollic of the evolution of the Goddess into the Saint. The Brigid's Cross magically is believed to protect a house where it hangs from evil and from fire. Because of this, it is often hung in kitchens.

Here is a great web site with diagrams of the weave: http://www.fisheaters.com/stbrigidscross.html



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