Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Three Swans at Armagh (23 September 2020)

There were Three Swans at Armagh[1]
revealing what they would
to those who could listen
upon the eaves of Autumn’s sway.                     1

I heard them in their meandering,
down along old Route Sixty-Six,
where the exit to the new highway
draws the unwary away from visions.                 2

Held in Autumn’s sway I went away
with the Three Swans of Armagh
in a vision of seeking and returning;
looking for the keys to a New Sídhe.[2]              3

On my way to an arcane bookstore
I had this vision of Swans and heard
their strange language – in bits and fits –
as the car rolled on down the road.                     4

I took a left at Armagh on the Way
expecting to see Saint Francis
at the Intersection where I had left
the Heart of the Hearth of my dreams
 _years ago.                                                         5

Yet he did not show, and so now on I go
down old Route Sixty-Six in a Glory,
awaiting New Insight to come in a Lorry,
with ghosts of my-self re-inscribing
_their Last Story!                                                 6

That night I dreamed, and heard them speak;
the Three Swans—to a dawdling mystic: 

  “There is a Deep Path you may take
  to reveal earthen truth in a Blue Lake
  upon which we Three Sisters swim.                   7

   "There is a New Key in which music
  could be sung;
  intoned in the interstitial places
  between one world and another. 

  "We are Three Sisters in this aisling;[3]
      heed us and follow_ as you will!”                   8

I once saw Three Swans at Armagh,
_each waddling in a dream so real_
that I now travel on_ dreaming them_
as in my Blue Woad Self[4] I reel!                       9

- Montague Whitsel

[1] Originally penned at the Autumnal Equinox in 2005 after seeing three large white swans along the road as I travelled to a bookstore in a nearby town. The ordinary often inspires visions and dreams; out of the ordinary comes the extraordinary.

[2] Sídhe – as I intended the word here; a place of ‘crossing over’ between one imaginary world and another, or a place where we can re-imagine ourselves in retreat from the actual world in which we dwell as mortals.

[3] Aisling – a word from the Irish poetic tradition meaning “a vision poem.”

[4] Blue Woad Self – the true self; one’s ‘deep self.’ A term coming from Celtic mysticism, Blue Woad was a dye used to stain the skin. It became a metaphor for becoming your true, deep self.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Lost in a Little Wood (17 September 2020)[1]

- Montague Whitsel
Gone to a Little Wood, one gray day,
we felt the Faery World’s pull,
and endured its sway!

       Hearkening to intuitions, long gone silent, we came to a tangled old Apple Tree at the intersection of three paths.  Its branches spread wide and far.  Its faery-red fruits were bending down toward the sídhe [2] as we passed by—offering up enchantments to set the world-weary free.
       “Little did we notice, as we passed-by, that time’s horizons around us were shifting in the enclosed space of the Little Wood!”
       “Even so_”
       Encountered, as if by passing specters at the first footbridge, one step beyond the ordered rationality of our day_ my fellow pather turned intuitively toward unanticipated destinations.  _And as I instinctively followed, I was suddenly aware of being engaged by sideways intimations!  
       There in the fog-laden Little Wood; wherein mortals may meander from time’s sway, we passed under the snaky Grape vines netting over and through the Plum and Apple trees that scented the thinning world around us with their fruits; mostly fallen_ some fermenting on the ground!
       Down the sídhe-trail we went, weaving away from the Apple Tree vortex; unaware of where we were going, gray in the day.  We went, chasing fantasies we didn’t know we were having as dream-patterns in the tree-silhouettes – stilled in the quiet of the evening – gathered us into a spectral awareness.  
       “There we passed through a spirit-trafficked-turnstile_ like those known only to the Wandering Wayfarers of Olde!”
Gone to a Little Wood, one gray day,
we felt the Faery World’s pull,
and endured its sway!

       Seeking out an elusive estuary of our own, deepening in the spell we had unwittingly cast over our circuitous pathing; we found a dreamed-of intersection where-at the fog, moving like silken music, en-raptured us.  The Little-Wood-Gone-Fay then whispered all around us in old earthen runes!  
       “In birdsong and cricket-languages we heard it!”
       “The chirruping of the Black-Capped Chickadees was hypnotic!”
       “So subtly were we leaving the ordinary_”
       Becoming lost in the Transfiguring Wood, gray as the day, we found ourselves of Faery-swayed!  The Wildwood Folk were chanting as to their sídhe we came, awakening in their Little Side-Ways World, stirring ourselves to depth-soundings!
       Stepping onto a second fog-moistened footbridge, like slipping on a stray sod, we sojourned over the middling stream where trout never swam except as fingerlings. There we centered ourselves; it was a cross+roads wherein true-waking-dreams found a place to play!
       Lost to the World in the Little Wood, as if seated upon a ghost-quay, we ‘heard’ Fay singing, as the rippling water rushed_ deep in its shallows_ beneath our dangling feet!  Seated upon the weathered boards, we let go of a once-fallen leaf_ just to see if it would return to some ‘never-never.’[3]
       “Let’s see if this leaf will travel_ and come out from under the other side of the bridge.”
       “And if it doesn’t?”
       “Then we’ve found ourselves a doorway between here_ and_ there.”
       “So be it.”
       Like ghosts in the Little Wood, all misty blue and gray—we dreamt ourselves away from our drearying day, walking an ever-more secreting path.  Encompassed by a misting fog moving like a strange sentience into the West, a Cottage suddenly appeared to our un-worlded minds!
       Rendered out of the gray of our Imagination’s Wooded Way, gloaming in the glistening fog it glittered, as if come to give us some rest from the worldly quandaries that had sent us adventuring there!  Full of signs of a life less embittered, the Cottage seemed to gleam and shine!
       “Do you see it?”
       “I do_ I imagine it_ as you do.”
       Walking to the edge of its sídhe-shadow, we thought we saw ‘windows’ and a ‘door’ within the façade, and then a balcony thrust out from the second-storey, above the small portico.  There we imagined we would be sitting as the evening would be dimming_ in some once-and-future-day.
       “It had the auspicious aura of a hermitage for mortals in friendship with the Earth!”
       “Do you remember the ‘light’ that seemed to shine out from that one little window?”
       “It was_ perhaps_ the glistening of water-droplets on the bark of that aged Alder tree?”
       Long meditating upon the particulars of that imagined dwelling—time began to shift once more, staggering us, yet unmoving, near its Door!  Though wanting to stay; the essence of the vision, like a dream, cast us forth – back toward mortal docks in the now tranquil seas of our being-in-becoming!
       “Let us leave this vision, before it fades away!”
       “Gone is what we should be!”
       “Before we go ‘Away’ _into that immortal ‘beyond!’”

Gone to a Little Wood, one gray day,
we felt the Faery World’s pull,
and endured its sway!

       Slowly un-waking and walking on_ winding through the Little Wood, the gray of the day seemed to twist and turn us ‘round.  We went along as if leaving behind us a hope-haunted future, dreaming-true.  Friendship runed us in the spiraling of Deep Paths, however elusive to our mortal minds.
       “_And at each little footbridge we came to, we gathered intimations of that Faery-World into which we had ambled_ and spoke of future dreams.  Remember?”
       “Willingly unaware; touched by the anima loci and travelled by Faery-Bus into stranger horizons than we had yet known, yes_ we realized our journey’s true ending_ and stood our Poets’ Menhir there!”
       “Even so_”
       Still tuning our-selves to an ethereal polyphony; elusive-in-unison, silently suffusing the Little Wood—we came winding back to the weirded Apple Tree and there thanked the goddess of that place for the fruit we had tasted while lost and weirded!  
       For we had crossed+over into a ‘Land-Beyond’ for a time-forgotten moment, and given notice of our desire to one-day depart our temporal bounds and come to that homely home that had appeared to us so freely!
       “_And so, we may leave this world, one fine day, when the path is clearer, and come to this Pagan Place again_ when the Way has been discerned at last.”
       “The Third Way.  Cheer-na-know-g!” [4]
Gone to a Little Wood, one gray day,
we felt the Faery World’s pull,
and endured its sway!

So mote it be!

[1] This narrative is a re-telling of an experience of constructive imaginative dreaming that a friend and I spontaneously experienced on a gloomy day in an actual ‘Little Wood’ – a small stand of trees, vines and bushes with three streams running through it between two rustic highways – back in 2009; an experience that shall never be forgotten!  The Little Wood in which we walked was patterned by meandering paths which turned you ‘round and around with regard to the cardinal directions, thus contributing into that feeling of being ‘lost’ that we so often experience there in certain seasons of the year.

[2] Sídhe (I have long pronounced it “side,” which is how I first learned it, though in Gaelic I know it is more correctly pronounced “shay”) – a word from the Celtic world referring either to a doorway between ‘this world’ and the Otherworld, a world ‘right alongside out own wherein the adventures begun in life were believed to be continued,’ or a place in the Otherworld where the Sluagh-
Sídhe (pronoucned "shew-a-shay," People of the Sídhe; the Faeryfolk) live.

[3] ‘Never-Never’ – The theme of an “Other World” beside or ‘just beyond’ our own appears many places in modern literature.  ‘Never-Neverland’ in Peter Pan is one such instance, as is the world Alice finds by going down the rabbit hole.

[4] Tír na nÓg [pronounced “cheer-na-know-g”] – The Celtic “Land of Youth” where old souls become young again and enter into the drafts of incarnation to be born once more in this world.  It is known as a “Land of Apples” and as the “Land of Women,” and by other names.  Three sisters – the triple goddess of birth, death and rebirth – are in charge of the transformation and eventual reincarnation of the soul while it resides in Tír na nÓg.  It is a word perhaps too strong for what we experienced that day, yet the Land of Youth lies – in our deep dreaming imaginations – just beyond the Otherworld of the Faeryfolk.  Perhaps our experience somehow ‘pointed’ toward this ‘Beyond.'

Monday, September 7, 2020

Fallen Tree Bower (6 September 2020)

Far out of range, beyond hearing—
whispering through the dell,
we hoofed it, in Brighid’s soft light_
out to Fallen Tree Bower.                            1

Off-trail in a Hidden Clearing
we sported as we fell
into the sequestered moonbeams
of that trans-Midnight hour.                         2

Two trees, fallen at right-angles,
lay upon the mossy ground_
signaling earthen directionings
at Fallen Tree Bower!                                  3

Walking the anima loci,
North of East and South of West_
we found new ley-lines of our Troth,
in witchy hearts flowered!                            4

Sleek the Moonbeams fell upon us
a Mystic Landscape far from home—
divining Fay power.                                     5

Rustic Dreams there came upon us_
A Well-within-a-Well_
where Runes and Spells wakened us
at the Deep Heart
_of Fallen Tree Bower.                                 6

Descending to Internal Nemetons;
the Heart’s True Hearth_
We resourced ourselves
and were re-inspired;
clothed in gray-white Moonlight!                   7

And as each dwelt within their Well
at Fallen Tree Bower_
A solemn music overcame us,
mirthing through the Wood!                         8

Then came a Host of Faeryfolk
into our Wooded Station_
all costumed for the Moonlit Night;
Naked for the hour!                                     9

Dancing with the joyous Woodfolk
as dark moonbeams swirled_
across the greensward, ever moist,
we glistened as we flew—
‘round and around and ‘round-about
at Fallen Tree Bower.                                 10

Encountering the quiddity
that set the bower apart,
as anam-cara we regathered
one another and other ones
as we danced with the Woodfolk
in an Old Mystic Meath!                             11

Quieting in the Moonlight
we raised shunache in our selves
returning to the Bower
from far ranged brooming!                         12

And when the Moon had passed over
we circled the Old Four Towers
coming home from the Sídhe_
to Fallen Tree Bower.                                 13
So mote it be.

- Montague Whitsel