Tag Archives: Druids

I Wonder, St. Patrick

Oh Paddy, oh Paddy! Long have you and I
held difference perspectives, not seen eye to eye,
nor found much in common, through legend or faith,
or some shared experience wrangling with wraiths.

I wonder, St. Patrick; and wonder makes doubt:
disabling sureness of what one’s about.
Is that what’s called “testing” or “trials” in life,
when words said against you cut like a dull knife
and nip at your ankles, like so many snakes,
while waiting so patient for your heart to break?

There is no reward save a deed in itself,
so never mind waiting in silence and stealth,
but swing that shillelagh as hard as you can!
The wheat and the chaff that cling fast to a man
can turn him to shadow and blind him to truth,
and leave him a feeble reminder of youth.

I wonder, St. Paddy, if a shallow grave,
the rest for both cowards and foolishly brave,
grows grass that is greener than one dug so deep
that who lies there never awakens from sleep.

17 MAR 2016

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Reflections of a Twentieth Century Bard

After the “Song of Amergin”

I have been a fly on the wall of a corporate meeting
I have been a child lost in snow that drifted roof high
I have been a broke-winged bird, flightless through winter
I have been a prisoner in some Gothic dungeon
I have been a supporter of lost, hopeless causes
I have been a wandering fool, aimless and goal-less
I have been a prodigal son for whom died the fatted calves
I have been a homeless man in cities of great wealth.

I have been a harsh word whispered in a darkened alley
I have been a silver slick carp, no good for the fry pan
I have been a glee-man singer for spare change and train fare
I have been a ragged voice crying in the wildness
I have been a drowsy student of life’s strange instructors
I have been a trust fund baby given deceptive means
I have been a reed in the wind blown aside by gale force
I have been a poet stoned with drunk and swollen words.

I have been a teacher of some useful knowledge
I have been a night janitor in the halls of justice
I have been a poor cross-maker, Pharisee and martyr
I have been a young soldier, grown old in the battle
I have been a raging fire made from drenched matches
I have been a quick perceptor without a portfolio
I have been a childhood plowman, tiller of the earth
I have been a knowing victim of victimless crime.

I have been a cold white speck in a snowfall blizzard
I have been a big, loud fish in an empty trout pond
I have been a moving current and the dry of drought
I have been a helpful force to some creative light
I have been a drifting cloud on the face of the sun
I have been a changeling spirit of the moonless night
I have been a watcher of winds that shape the noon sky
I have been a friend of the trees that breathe the earth’s air.

Who, more than I, can claim to have been loved?
Who, having also being lost, can with more conviction believe themselves found?

Who else, having for so long lived under a curse of their own making, has been more blessed?

29 MAR 2000

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The Black Druids

At seven ten this morning
as the night gave way to dawn
a band of three of black druids*
gathered out on my front lawn

I heard them last night singing
in the dead calm, loud and clear;
but did not recognize their song
until they drew more near.

Drawn to my house, I might suppose
to offer me some clue,
and sip with careful wisdom
from the lawn’s supply of dew

Three travelers from the Otherworld
stopped by to check the fire
beneath my recent relit forge
and kindle my desire.

“Recall your smithy lineage,”**
they spoke, and then took wing.
Against this synchronicity
I dared not say a thing.

How odd that they should now appear,
as strangers to these lands,
and offer this encouragement
to my oft idle hands.

And yet, these harbingers whose song
last night I failed to ken
have come to stay among my trees;
I count them as my friends.

05 MAY 2004

* In Welsh, the blackbird is known as “Druid Dhuhb” or the “Black Druid”. While we are fortunate enough to have wrens, crows, bluejays, robins, cardinals, sparrows, starlings, pigeons and an occasional parrot among us here in New Orleans, in the five years I have been here this is the first time I have seen an actual black bird. Perhaps there is some significance to this, as the black bird is one of the totem animals for the Druid — a communicator between this world and the Otherworld, a piercer of the veils.

** There is an area of the old city of Philadelphia that at one time was known as “Cooper’s Road” or “Coopersville”, in part due to the fact that my ancestor, Simon Litzenberg and his five sons set up shop along that stretch after their arrival from Europe in 1741 as blacksmiths and wheelwrights.

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Pranayama and the Celtic-Vedic Connection

After pondering Peter Beresford Ellis’ introduction to Celtic Myths and Legends, where he postulates an affinity between the Celtic and Vedic cultures, based on their shared common root language, proto-Indo-European, I pulled this earlier poem out and thought of it in a purely Celtic mythos-mindset, as opposed to its original casting as a meditation on Hindu reality.

It seems to me that it can be read as if it were a Druidic meditation without violating any Celto-religious principles. There are definite resonances in my mind, which gives me insight into why the Vedas and Upanishads have always seemed such connecting threads to me, as someone of Celtic descent. I have always been drawn to what I would call Brahma/Dagda, as well as Shiva/Kernunnos (and I think it no accident that both are associated with, and familiar with, venomous snakes). And then there is the Morrigan/Kali connection – nurturing mother up close, but destroying black maelstrom from afar. Add to that the concept of sacred rivers (the Ganges versus the Danube, or River of Danu). Well, I was struck by this notion, particularly the similarity of some of the words between the two languages. And then, this evening, as I was doing a bit of meditation, I realized that “Awen” (pronounced ah-oo-en) and “Om” (pronounced ah-oo-em) are just too similar, in both purpose for recitation and pronunciation, for coincidence.

My questions are these:

Has there been any linguistic study that explores this connection?

Given the number of Celtic-oriented writers who also have an affinity for Vedic (and Upanishadic) literature (Yeats immediately springs to mind), and the similarity of the concepts contained in both Celtic mythology and Hindu mythology (take Kali and the Morrigan, for example), has there been any attempt in the Celtic pagan community to explore the commonalities in a more formal sense?

And three, just as it is complementary to study Japanese and Korean at the same time (the basic differences being vocabulary only), is there any identified benefit in studying Sanskrit as an aid to learning Gaelic, or visa versa?

Much food for thought.

Pranayama

Where am I in all of this confusion?
If I pause and take a moment to breathe,
letting go of this veil of illusion
[that separates (like two different leaves

along two slim branches that stretch their way
in opposite directions, yet never
touch, except through the trunk from which they splay)
with a soft touch easily severing

one’s sense of unity with all living]
just listening to the low, quiet breath
of an opened flower or an old tree,

I recognize myself; my misgivings
about my life’s purpose that make me fear death
fade away. I am at peace, at last free.

Am I just motion in some great chaos?
If I release this cloud from deep inside,
letting the soft flow of air slip across
my tongue and pursed lips, it does not collide

with the not-me of the universe, but
instead melts back into a single stream
of boundless energy that we each cut
and divide into our separate dreams,

imagining that these walls we construct
are so solid, so real, unbreakable.
Yet in a single breath these veils shatter,

our isolation seems to self-destruct,
and those beliefs once so unshakeable
crumble in the still space beyond matter.

04 APR 2003

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The Hawk (Seabhac)

A flash of gray against the sun and cloud,
then swift and sure he plummets to his prey;
Above the warp and woof he watches, proud,
examining the context of our way.

The puzzle is the sum of all its pieces,
he tells us, seeking balance with the whole;
And in the insignificant and tiny
are found the noble roots that form our soul.

Be cleansed of that which in the past bound you,
the message that he brings to set us free;
And reconnect to ancient ways around you
to recollect your sense of destiny.

The breadth of life within his field of sight,
this ally offers visions through his flight.

His eye a piercing shaft that splits the sky
which finds among the blades of grass his prey,
he flies above the world, a focused spy,
and sees only a fraction on his way.

He teaches us that ideals, however high,
if not tempered with vision, make us cruel,
and can breed arrogance and selfish pride
that lead us to deny the heart, as fools.

The justness of our cause, he bids us ask,
to balance, with humility, our role;
and warns that attention to just the task,
restricts our wider sense of the great whole.

One whose message is to consider more,
the hawk shows us the price we pay to soar.

from The Druid Animal Sonnets, 08 OCT 2001

for LJ user gurdonark

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