Thoughts from several contemporary Irish practitioners about the Craft and nature, including an appearance by Jenny Butler, a member of The Pomegranate’s editorial board.
Forget Ecotourism—Try Fairytourism
Ecotourism often involves naturalist-guided tours of relatively wild areas, but also visits to small-scale agricultural producers, also called “agritourism.” Sometimes this operates in a B&B fashion. See, for example, the state of Vermont’s guide.
But never mind milking cows and picking berries. Suppose you could offer encounters with the Other Crowd?
Pat Noone, a Irish farmer in County Galway, is almost there already.
A lot of people come here to see the fairies in this field and they get great experiences here.
“I have the porthole to the fairy world, where the blackthorn meets the whitethorn.”
Noone says that people come to the area and get great experiences of peace, joy, healings and some “find emotions here”.
According to Noone, the members of the aos sí (fairy world) speak normal English to him, as it is the only language he has – but that they “will speak any language you want to speak”.
The fairy fort is a place where the fairies “live and congregate”.
I’ve seen the fairies here on a lot of occasions – playing music, having a drink and dancing.
“They look like the image of yourself – whatever height you are, they will be that height. They are the very same image as us, when they want to show themselves.
“A lot of the time they don’t show themselves and they have shown themselves to people that were here and didn’t show themselves to me.”
Pointing to the branches of the fairy tree in the field, Noone explains that a lot of people tie bits of material as a “thank you or a wish to the fairies”.
“I generally give them [visitors] pieces of rushes from now on; I don’t give them anymore cloths because the whole place was covered in cloths.”
Noone feels that he gets great inspiration when he goes to the field.
I go in here [wondering] about when to sell livestock and that’s only the farming end of it. Just to know when to sell and be ahead and thank God this year I obeyed them [fairies] – I’m well ahead before the lockdown.
“Of course I believe in it – it has helped me in farming a lot.”
I like that this article appeared on Agriland, “Ireland’s Largest Farming-News Portal.”
How the Irish Invented Halloween (But Americans Saved It)
Friend-of-this-blog Jenny Butler (University College Cork) leads off this RTE video on “How the Irish really invented Halloween.” (You can watch a larger version at the link.)
Also, divination with snails.
The Morrigan, Therapy, and Female Self-Narration on Social Media
From The Pomegranate’s special issue on Paganism, art, and fashion, here is a link to Áine Warren’s article, “The Morrigan as a ‘Dark Goddess’: A Goddess Re-Imagined Through Therapeutic Self-Narration of Women on Social Media.”
It and other Pomegranate articles are currently available as free downloads.
Here Áine Warren talks about her research on women and the Dark Goddess.
An article on Pagans, the Morrigan and YouTube,
from the Journal of Contemporayr Religion.
“In Ireland, fairies and demons are almost interchangeable”
This video is worth ten minutes of your time. Again we’re in Jeff Kripal territory here.
Bejayus, It’s the Eco-Fairies
In the last of the four-part post about “the cousins” (start the series here), I raised the question of what do fairies look like.
Here is the man who knows, says the (Irish) Independent:
“Looking at fairies on my farm is the same as looking at traffic in Dublin. But they don’t come everyday.”
“I kind of expect it. When I was younger if I hadn’t seen them, you’d think there was something wrong. I’ve seen them on a good few occasions after that.”
Galway farmer Pat Noone is used to encounters with the Good Neighbors, and he says they sent him a message.
“I was coming down after looking at the cows in that 16-acre field. I heard the music and saw the fairies dancing and I went over and got talking to them. They talked English to me, I had no problem talking to them. They told me they just wanted me to keep the land the way it was, and told me not to take any of the bushes out. I listened to the music and I went home.
“I have great luck with the stock, with farming, you’ll have your ups and downs with sick animals and nature takes its course, but overall I’ve had very good luck with the farm. And I don’t use any chemicals or sprays. That’s what the fairies told me. I use no weed killers at all whatsoever. It’s not the modern farm that people expect, I let the ditches grow naturally and then trim them back with the saw. It’s left naturally here.”
Chemical-free farming. That is what They want, and you should know better than to cross them.
A Festschrift for Ronald Hutton
Magic and Witchery: Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of ‘The Triumph of the Moon’ will be published in September by Palgrave Macmillan.
I love rolling the word Festschrift around, and if you are not used to it, this is what it means: “In academia, a Festschrift (plural Festschriften) is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic and presented during their lifetime. It generally takes the form of an edited volume, containing contributions from the honoree’s colleagues, former pupils, and friends” (Wikipedia).
From the publisher:
This book marks twenty years since the publication of Professor Ronald Hutton’s The Triumph of the Moon, a major contribution to the historical study of Wicca. Building on and celebrating Hutton’s pioneering work, the chapters in this volume explore a range of modern magical, occult, and Pagan groups active in Western nations. Each contributor is a specialist in the study of modern Paganism and occultism, although differ in their embrace of historical, anthropological, and psychological perspectives. Chapters examine not only the history of Wicca, the largest and best-known form of modern Paganism, but also modern Pagan environmentalist and anti-nuclear activism, the Pagan interpretation of fairy folklore, and the contemporary ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ phenomenon.
Here are the contents:
1. Twenty Years On: An Introduction — Ethan Doyle White and Shai Feraro, editors
2. The Goddess and the Great Rite: Hindu Tantra and the Complex Origins of Modern Wicca — Hugh B. Urban
3. Playing the Pipes of PAN: Pagans Against Nukes and the Linking of Wiccan-Derived Paganism with Ecofeminism in Britain, 1980–1990 — Shai Feraro
4. Other Sides of the Moon: Assembling Histories of Witchcraft —Helen Cornish
5. The Nearest Kin of the Moon: Irish Pagan Witchcraft, Magic(k), and the Celtic Twilight — Jenny Butler
6. The Taming of the Fae: Literary and Folkloric Fairies in Modern Paganisms — Sabina Magliocco
7. “Wild Nature” and the Lure of the Past: The Legacy of Romanticism among Young Pagan Environmentalists — Sarah M. Pike
8. The Blind Moondial Makers: Creativity and Renewal in Wicca — Léon A. van Gulik
9. “The Eyes of Goats and of Women”: Femininity and the Post-Thelemic Witchcraft of Jack Parsons and Kenneth Grant — Manon Hedenborg White
10. Navigating the Crooked Path: Andrew D. Chumbley and the Sabbatic Craft — Ethan Doyle White
11. Witches Still Fly: Or Do They? Traditional Witches, Wiccans, and Flying — Chas S. Clifton
12. Afterword — Ronald Hutton
“Patrick, Pagans and Party Animals”
It’s the title of a documentary about St. Patrick, his era, and the growth of St. Patrick’s Day as a festival, but I am blocked from embedding it here, so watch it on Vimeo.
Pagan Idols of the Mesolithic
Across northern Europe from the Ural Mountains to Ireland, the people erected wooden figures, of them quite large, as the ice age known as the Younger Dryas waned and the people could move into new, now-forested, lands. And they kept on during so until more recent times.
At Twilight Beasts, Rena Maguire writes,
There are stories from the deep past we won’t ever hear with our ears, but that’s not to say we cannot hear them. Archaeology tells those stories, the ones that I think matter. The past I’m talking of is the one wrapped in skins and furs against the spiteful cold of the Younger Dryas. It has wise eyes and a hopeful heart; it knows what sustenance may still grow in snow and biting cold, and knows where the animals go to drink deep in parched summers. That past is carried in each and all of us, we are here because our ancestors survived the ice and cold with wisdom, courage and plain stubbornness. There’s times, however, something is found in bog, field or lake which beckons us to gather round in a circle, sit down, put the phone on silent, and listen to the past intently.
The Shigir wooden idol is one such object. It is an enigmatic wooden figure which, I admit, I could spend days just looking at, and ‘listening’ to, for it must have such a story to tell of the people who made it. It was found in a peat bog (all the best things are, imo) 100km north of Yekaterinburg, Russia, at the end of the 19th century. It stands head and shoulders (literally) above other objects of the past as it would have measured around 5 m when complete, a tower of song, stories and memory set down some 11000 years ago. It is made of larch wood, and decorated with deep zig-zag lines on the torso, with 8 intriguing smaller faces carved as part of the design of the body. All the faces are unique and expressively stern.
More idols and a bibliography at the link. I love a good bibliography. Read the whole thing!
“Come Out and Fight Me for My Throne . . . “
. . . says Janet Farrar melodramatically in this 1977 broadcast from the Irish national network Raidió Teilifís Éireann.
Author and screenwriter Stewart Farrar and his wife Janet, both from London in England, met through witchcraft and founded their own coven. In 1976 the couple moved to Ireland, accompanied by Janet’s father Ronald Owen, and they now live in the townland of Rockspring in Ferns, County Wexford. On the whole they have been warmly welcomed to the area by Catholics and Protestants alike.
Witchcraft is growing in Ireland and Janet, the Witch Queen of Ireland, challenges usurpers to come out and fight her for her throne. Until then, Janet is a natural clairvoyant and both she and Stewart can help people who have had piseogs worked against them. She once wished ill on a man and when she told him to be quiet, he lost his voice for 48 hours.
I was at that house a year or two later (and borrowed that typewriter), and I don’t remember the theramin music everywhere outdoors, so the producers must have added because they, like the Brits, just love the TV trope of the scary countryside. With witches.