Happy Halloween to you all !
Today my post contains some images at the old estate church yard of Temple Michael, Ballynatray Estate, Cherrymount, county cork, and one of my most loved poems by Thomas Hardy, a true poet from the hight of the 1800’s Gothic period and a Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot.
So tonight when it goes dark if I were you I would light a fire, lock the doors and windows and stay inside as the time is tonight when The “soon to-be Forgotten” rise.
By Thomas Hardy
I heard a small sad sound,
And stood awhile among the tombs around:
“Wherefore, old friends,” said I, “are you distrest,
Now, screened from life’s unrest?”
—”O not at being here;
But that our future second death is near;
When, with the living, memory of us numbs,
And blank oblivion comes!
“These, our sped ancestry,
Lie here embraced by deeper death than we;
Nor shape nor thought of theirs can you descry
With keenest backward eye.
“They count as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death.
“We here, as yet, each day
Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say
We hold in some soul loved continuance
Of shape and voice and glance.
“But what has been will be —
First memory, then oblivion’s swallowing sea;
Like men foregone, shall we merge into those
Whose story no one knows.
“For which of us could hope
To show in life that world-awakening scope
Granted the few whose memory none lets die,
But all men magnify?
“We were but Fortune’s sport;
Things true, things lovely, things of good report
We neither shunned nor sought … We see our bourne,
And seeing it we mourn.”
The North Wind
By : Wallace Stevens
“It is hard to hear the north wind again,
And to watch the treetops, as they sway.
They sway, deeply and loudly, in an effort,
So much less than feeling, so much less than speech,
Saying and saying, the way things say
On the level of that which is not yet knowledge:
A revelation not yet intended.
It is like a critic of God, the world
And human nature, pensively seated
On the waste throne of his own wilderness.
Deeplier, deeplier, loudlier, loudlier,
The trees are swaying, swaying, swaying.”
Walter de la Mare
All winter through I bow my head
beneath the driving rain;
the North Wind powders me with snow
and blows me black again;
at midnight ‘neath a maze of stars
I flame with glittering rime,
and stand above the stubble, stiff
as mail at morning-prime.
But when that child called Spring, and all
his host of children come,
scattering their buds and dew upon
these acres of my home,
some rapture in my rags awakes;
I lift void eyes and scan
the sky for crows, those ravening foes,
of my strange master, Man.
I watch him striding lank behind
his clashing team, and know
soon will the wheat swish body high
where once lay a sterile snow;
soon I shall gaze across a sea
of sun-begotten grain,
which my unflinching watch hath sealed
for harvest once again.
After living here in county Kilkenny for over ten years now, we have got to know many different people. One of the families we know very well own a small farm and when ever they go on holiday we help look after the place for them. We moved here from North London and its a great pleasure to now be able to see and be on a farm like this one.
These images where taken during such a week, late in the Autumn and as winter took a grip over their farm and its land.
Seeing a farm in the height of June is a wonderful thing, everything growing and the animals full of life but I love these winter months just as much, the place is slower with the cold and damp morning.
The Horses and Chickens are slower and growing season finished apart from some late greens to be used in the kitchen before the frost sets in. The farm and its land feels ready for the three months of rest it well deserves.
This Morning here in Ireland is a very wet one with some 20mm of rain is expected here in county Kilkenny before midday.
So what better way to free yourself on this Autumn day than with a rainy day poem :
The Rainy Day
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
On The Winter Beach
I walk on the winter beach
from here to there
and beyond where the beach ends
past indifferent sea gulls
over beached kelps
over bleached sea shells
To the sound of crushing waves
to the call of ebbing memories
I walk on the winter beach
I shall go
I must go
beyond where the beach ends
In modern-day Wicca and Paganism, there is a good deal of focus on the four elements – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. A few traditions of Wicca also include a fifth element, which is Spirit or Self.
The concept is hardly a new one. A Greek philosopher named Empedocles is credited with the cosmogenic theory of these four elements being the root of all existing matter. Unfortunately, much of Empedocles’ writing has been lost, but his ideas remain with us today and are widely accepted by most Pagans and Wiccans.
Each of the elements is associated with traits and meanings, as well as with directions on the compass. The following directional associations are for the Northern hemisphere; readers in the Southern hemisphere should use the opposite correspondences.
Fire is a purifying, masculine energy, associated with the South, and connected to strong will and energy. Fire both creates and destroys, and symbolizes the fertility of the God. Fire can heal or harm, and can bring about new life or destroy the old and worn. In Tarot, Fire is connected to the Wand suit. For color correspondences, use red and orange for Fire
The element of Fire is both creative and destructive, its qualities are Brightness, Thinness and Motion and its mode is Active. It is fire that we and our ancestors used to warm our homes, we use it to cook our food, we sit around it to ward of the darkness of night, and it fuels our passions. Fire, unlike the other elements, does not exist in a natural state. Its physical form can only take place by consuming some other element. Fire is the transformer, converting the energy of other objects into other forms: heat, light, ash, and smoke.
To feel the manifestations of this power, go out on on sunny day and feel the warmth and light of the Sun, hear the crackling of logs and smell of smoke from a burning fire. As you gaze into the transformational flame of a candle, immerse yourself in the energy of Fire. Fire is the natural element of animals and mankind, and they “have, in their natures, a most fiery force, and also spring from celestial sources.”
In order to gain benefit from the energy of this element, we need to control Fire’s destructive aspect. When we light a candle, we are not only calling upon the energy of Fire, we are also limiting its power. This destructive aspect should not be seen as negative, forest fires, actually help, clearing away underbrush and encouraging seeds lying dormant within the Earth to burst forth into new life.
Fire is a masculine element, its aspects being change, passion, creativity, motivation, will power, drive and sensuality. It is sexuality, both physical and spiritual. Fire is used in spells, rituals and candle magick for healing, purification, sex, breaking bad habits or destroying illness and disease. Fire is the element of authority and leadership.
The properties of Fire, Heat, Making things fruitful, Celestial light, Giving Life to all things. Its opposite the Infernal Fire are a parching heat, consuming all things and darkness, making all things barren.
Each of the four cardinal elements – earth, air, fire and water – can be incorporated into magical practice and ritual. Depending on your needs and intent, you may find yourself drawn to one of these elements more so that the others.
Connected to the South, Fire is a purifying, masculine energy, and connected to strong will and energy. Fire both creates and destroys, and symbolizes the fertility of the God. Fire can heal or harm, and can bring about new life or destroy the old and worn. In Tarot, Fire is connected to the Wand suit (although in some interpretations, it is associated with Swords). For color correspondences, use red and orange for Fire associations.
Let’s look at some of the many magical myths and legends surrounding fire:
Fire Spirits & Elemental Beings:
In many magical traditions, fire is associated with various spirits and elemental beings. For instance, the salamander is an elemental entity connected with the power of fire – and this isn’t your basic garden lizard, but a magical, fantastical creature. Other fire-associated beings include the phoenix – the bird that burns itself to death and then is reborn from its own ashes – and dragons, known in many cultures as fire-breathing destroyers.
The Magic of Fire:
Fire has been important to mankind since the beginning of time. It was not only a method of cooking one’s food, but it could mean the difference between life and death on a frigid winter night. To keep a fire burning in the hearth was to ensure that one’s family might survive another day. Fire is typically seen as a bit of a magical paradox, because in addition to its role as destroyer, it can also create and regenerate. The ability to control fire – to not only harness it, but use it to suit our own needs – is one of the things that separates humans from animals. However, according to ancient myths, this has not always been the case.
Fire appears in legends going back to the classical period. The Greeks told the story of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods in order to give it to man – thus leading to the advancement and development of civilization itself. This theme, of the theft of fire, appears in a number of myths from different culture. A Cherokee legend tells of Grandmother Spider, who stole fire from the sun, hid it in a clay pot, and gave it to the People so they could see in the darkness. A Hindu text known as the Rig Veda related the story of Mātariśvan, the hero who stole fire that had been hidden away from the eyes of man.
Fire is sometimes associated with deities of trickery and chaos – probably because while we may think we have domination over it, ultimately it is the fire itself that is in control. Fire is often connected with Loki, the Norse god of chaos, and the Greek Hephaestus (who appears in Roman legend as Vulcan) the god of metalworking, who demonstrates no small amount of deceit.
Fire and Folktales:
Fire appears in a number of folktales from around the world, many of which have to do with magical superstitions. In parts of England, the shape of cinders which jumped out of the hearth often foretold a major event – a birth, a death, or the arrival of an important visitor.
In parts of the Pacific Islands, hearths were guarded by small statues of old women. The old woman, or hearth mother, protected the fire and prevented it from burning out.
The Devil himself appears in some fire-related folktales. In parts of Europe, it is believed that if a fire won’t draw properly, it’s because the Devil is lurking nearby. In other areas, people are warned not to toss bread crusts into the fireplace, because it will attract the Devil (although there’s no clear explanation of what the Devil might want with burnt bread crusts).
Japanese children are told that if they play with fire, they will become chronic bed-wetters – a perfect way to prevent pyromania!
A German folktale claims that fire should never be given away from the house of a woman within the first six weeks after childbirth. Another tale says that if a maid is starting a fire from tinder, she should use strips from mens’ shirts as tinder – cloth from women’s garments will never catch a flame.
The Irish Landscape offers some of the most wonderful views in this part of Europe, with rolling mountains and rocky, spectacular coastlines, there are many forests and powerful flowing rivers.
One of the area’s of photography I love the most is black and white and I feel that the Irish landscape is made for black and white images, often the days are wet and stormy and dark. I feel that shooting images in black and white captures these atmospheric days very well. On good weather days in the summer months getting out early or late to capture the sun low in the sky also works very well in a black and white photograph.
Below are some of the black and white images I am most happy with, so far during 2014.
Irish landscape photography – Black and White Gallery
Bonane stone circle and altar of the Moon
During the summer I was lucky enough to get to visit the Bonane stone circle and Alter located near Kenmare , county Kerry. This stone circle was cleared of trees and opened to the full view of the public in current times and it is a great example of a pagan stone circle.
For many centuries it has puzzled historians as to what function these circle served , some think they marks a place of worship others that they acted as a way of measuring the passage of the the year, using the shadows that they cast on the ground. The location and length of these shadows changing as the year passes.
Here at Bonane however it was discovered that the moon was being tracked over an 18.6 year period, it could be that the moon was being worshiped during its movement through the heavens.
They did this by placing an altar about a mile away on a hill side ridge and placed in-line with the center of the stone circle. The most amazing thing is than only every 18.6 years does the moon appear to rise behind the altar at its most southerly point on the horizon and only if you are standing in the center of the stone circle.
The last time this event took place was in 2006 and the next time will be during the Month of June in 2024.
The people who live here in Kerry some 5000 years ago must have been very skilled at astronomy as predicting the movement of the moon has been very difficult until in modern times with the invention of small machines called Orrery and then the use of computers have modern man been able to do so.
See : The Moon Cycles
The task they achieved here is truly amazing and takes a little time to digest, just how they moved three very large stones and placed them on a hill side ridge and then alined a stone circle a good mile away on another hill side and did so with this 18.6 years moon cycle in mind, even today some 5000 years later their achievement is still working.
The difference in thinking between a stone circle being used for the movement of the sun or the moon, or both – is very interesting. As opposed to being used to the help in planting of crops etc, this would appear to imply a function of worship but of what or of who, was it simply the moon or a moon God?
Well the main Pagan deity for this part of the world is thought to be : Elatha
Elatha is quoted as being the “The beautiful Miltonic prince of darkness with golden hair”. He was the son of Dalbaech and a king of the Fomor, he was father of Bres by Eri, a woman of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He came to her over the sea in a vessel of silver, himself having the appearance of a young man with yellow hair, wearing clothes of gold and five gold torcs. He was one of the Fomor who took part in the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh.
During the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Elatha, son of Dalbaech, watched over Dagda’s magic harp, Uaithne, sometimes called Dur-da-Bla, “the Oak of Two Blossoms,” and sometimes Coir-cethar-chuin, “the Four-Angled Music.” He is said to have a sense of humor and a sense of nobility.
Though considered to be the Fomorian father of Eochu Bres, Elatha (Elada) was also the father of the Dagda, Ogma, a son named Delbaeth, and Elloth (the father of Manannan mac Lir) according to the Lebor Gabála Érenn. The mother of these Tuatha De Danann chiefs may have been Ethne, the mother of Lug, based on Ogma’ often cited matronymic “mac Ethliu.” Since Ethne was Fomorian, this means they are all Fomorians. This is rather confusing, but may betray the battle between the two groups as actually being about the new generation of gods displacing the older generation.
Bonane Stone circle and Altar to the Moon – Gallery
Jenkinstown Forest park in County Kilkenny is one of my most loved Local places, the walks around the Forest here are amazing at anytime of the year but just now the leaves are starting to turn golden yellow and fall after a frost or period of high wind.
The Jenkinstown estate has a long history and the below image shows the castle that once stood here until at least the time this image was taken during 1930.
Part of the castle still stands and acts as a home for a local musician.
The park contains some great old buildings such as the round store house and animal shelter that these days offers a great place to read or shelter from a shower on a wet day.
Jenkinstown woodland park , County Kilkenny : Gallery