In my house we’ve always kept our Christmas tree up until January 6th, or Old Christmas Day. This is the last of the twelve days of Christmas, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany. Traditionally, people stopped work for the 12 days, putting aside time to socialize and have some fun.
The sleep of reason produces monsters; inversions, caricatures of what we know to be right and sensible. Sometimes the fancies of the night seem more substantial than the sober thoughts of daytime. The dreams of a folklorist are especially subject to this kind of inversion. Consider two magazine pieces published by that Victorian litterateur, Grant Allen of Haslemere. One is a serious contribution to folklore scholarship, while the other is its dark parody. But the night-time version is far more revealing. It says a great deal about the mind of its author; but it also tells us something about a hidden strand in twentieth-century paganism.
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The death of Bridget Cleary, killed for being a changeling, brought together many different strands of politics, folklore and literature. It made literal the folk culture that Revivalists like Yeats and Lady Gregory were studying, but in a horrifyingly realistic way – a woman burned and beaten to death because of the “fairy-faith”. Or was it a perversion, as Yeats and others argued?
You’ll sometimes see Cisa or Zisa listed among the Germanic goddesses, usually with some statement to the effect that she is the partner of Tiw/Ziu, a god the Romans saw as similar to Mars. Nigel Pennick mentions her in his works, calling her an earth-goddess, and Jacob Grimm devoted several pages to her in his Teutonic Mythology.
Urglaawe, a branch of Heathenry that incorporates Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, considers Zisa one of their deities, with the 28th of September as her day, and the pinecone as her symbol. They draw their inspiration from the legend of a goddess Zisa or Cisa who gave her name to the city of Augsburg and protected it from an attack by the Romans.
Books Reviewed: Pagan Portals: Brigit – Morgan Daimler, Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess – Courtney Weber, Brigid: Goddess, Druidess and Saint –Brian Wright, Brigit: Sun of Womanhood – Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott, and The Rites of Brigid: Goddess & Saint – Seán Ó Duinn.
“A teacher of mine believes a whole spiritual tradition could be filled solely with Brigid devotees…” (Weber, Loc. 49) This is probably true, and you could certainly fill a bookshelf with volumes on Brigit, goddess and saint. For this post I wanted to review books that would be easily available, written for a popular audience, and likely to appeal to readers. I could easily have gone past five, but anyone who is that enthusiastic about Brigit will no doubt find more on their own.
A Newfoundlander living in Quebec took a part of home as inspiration for her new Halloween-themed photoshoot.
Back in the spring I was inspired by Adam Hyllested’s ideas about the Hyldemoer to write my own post about the Elder Mother. This led on to two other posts, on rowan and birch. I assumed that I had exhausted the subject of feminine powers associated with trees, but I was wrong.
A week ago Neorxnawang passed on a link to a paper on the mysterious goddess Ilmr. She appears in a list of goddesses and another of kennings for “woman” in the Prose Edda. Her name also appears in poetry, mostly as – you guessed it – part of a kenning for “woman”. The paper, by Joseph Hopkins, suggests that Ilmr may be an elm goddess, connecting her name to the word almr, elm.