Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Maiden Castle (Dorset)
Among the largest and most complex of Iron Age hillforts in Europe, Maiden Castle’s huge multiple ramparts, up to 6m high, enclose an area equivalent to 50 football pitches (18 ha), protecting several hundred residents. Excavations in the 1930s and 1980s revealed the site's 4,000-year history, reaching its apogee at a time of inter-tribal rivalry in the 2nd century BC. They also produced evidence of an extensive late Iron Age cemetery. Many of the burials had suffered horrific injuries in attacks or skirmishes, perhaps at the time of the Roman invasion. The name maiden was once believed to derive from the Brythonic mai dun, meaning great hill.
The site is maintained by English Heritage, and information panels guide you around the hillfort and illustrate its long history.
Open at all reasonable times of the day, all year round.
History to the present day
Excavations at the site have dated construction of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure back to around 4000 BC. An extensive bank and ditch as well as a bank barrow burial mound are evident from this period at the eastern end.
However most of the works at the site date from around 450 to 300 BC, when an earlier Iron Age hillfort dating to c. 600 BC was extended and enlarged with three new ditch-and-bank earthworks built creating the main fortifications in a set of three concentric rings with offset entrance points. The castle is very big.
Centuries after its construction the fort was probably occupied by the Durotriges, a Celtic tribe at the time of the Roman invasion. The site may have been attacked and invested by the 2nd and the 8th legion under Vespasian in AD 43. Mortimer Wheeler created a vivid account of the fall of the hill fort in his report following the excavations of 1934-1937. Later examination of his records by Niall Sharples has largely discounted this interpretation and it is no longer thought that the fort was besieged or violently taken by the Romans.
20th century English composer John Ireland (1879-1962) visited the area and later wrote Mai-Dun, a symphonic rhapsody evoking something of the prehistoric character of the fortifications, the people who lived there, and their lifestyle.
The Romans occupied the site but concentrated their efforts in the area around Durnovaria (now Dorchester) and the nearby Poundbury Hill. There was a large scale reconstruction of the site, just before AD 400. A small Romano-British temple was built in the eastern half of the hill fort during the late Roman pagan revival and the denfences were refurbished to form it temenos. The temple adjoined the site of an abandoned, but apparently remembered, circular Iron Age shrine and seems to have been used for the worship of a number of gods including Diana, Minerva and Taurus Trigaranus. It consisted of the usual sanctuary or cella surrounded by an ambulatory. A small rectangular structure, perhaps for the priest, stood alongside. The temple did not last long and the site was abandoned by the Romans soon afterwards. It was not re-occupied and remained deserted from then on.
We went for a walk up Maiden Castle yesterday. It's such an evocative place you can almost see the ancestors there. My spirit is always lifted by a visit there especially by the song and sight of Sky larks, Maiden castle being on of the places in Dorset where you are guaranteed to see and hear them. It is such a shame they are becoming such a rare sight today.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Ogham letter: F
Ogham name: Fearn
Celtic tree month: mar18th to ap14th.
The alder grows to a height of approximately sixty to seventy feet with a girth of twelve to fifteen feet. Juvenile trees are conical in shape rather like fir trees but as it matures its crown becomes more open and straggly. The leaves of the Alder are roughly round in shape, pointed where they meet the stem and slightly flattened at the other. In colour the leaves are a dark glossy green. There is no autumnal colour so to speak, the leaves just get darker and darker till they fall as, sometimes as late as December.
The Alder has male and female catkins on the same tree, the female catkins look like small cones which stay on the tree all winter.
The leaves of the Alder make an excellent poultice for all sorts of swellings and inflammations. This could be because the Alder is reputed to be able to balance fire (inflammations) and water (swellings) it is said placing Alder leaves in work boots and socks helps tired and aching feet, I wonder about this as I would think this to be jolly uncomfortable. Alder bark made into pills was said to have been beneficial in the treatment of general digestive weakness and enteritis. A decoction of the bark was once used to try and stem internal bleeding. The same decoction could be used as a gargle.
There are several possible meanings to the name Alder. One being that it is derived from the Anglo-Saxon root Alor or Aler meaning reddish brown. This could be from the fact that the wood of the Alder which is a pale colour turns red when cut leading the wood cutters of old to think that the tree was bleeding.
Another possibility is that in Scandinavian myth the first women was created from the Alder, and in Irish myth the first man so possibly Alder simply means Elder.
The Alder is closely associated in mythology with all forms of resurrection. The alder is closely associated with the yearly cycle of the Sun in fact the spring equinox falls within the month of Alder, a time when the power of the Sun is restored to us.
The Alder is known as a tree which is the King of the Fairies and as such carried people of into the otherworld. This other world thought pattern is carried on in that the bird most associated with the Alder is the Raven. As white birds such as the Stork became synonymous with birth so the Raven was associated with death and the otherworld. It is interesting then to find that the Deities most thought of in respect of the Alder, such as Saturn, Chronos and Bran for the Gods, and the Morrigan for the Goddess are also Raven deities.
"Everything really is equal. The Creator doesn't look at me any better than He looks at the trees. We're all the same."
--Janice Sundown Hattet, SENECA
Sometimes humans think we are the center of the Universe. Sometimes we think we are above or better than other people or things. The Great Spirit made a set of Laws and Principles by which all things should live. Everybody and everything lives by the same Laws. We are all made of atoms just like the trees. The life force in the middle of the atom is the life force of the Great Mystery. It is the same for everything. We are all equal in the eyes of the Creator.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
A case in point is my poetry web page on witchvox. I look there and see that in the two years it has been in existence over 32,000 people have read something that I have written and I am chuffed to bits at this. But the old me creeps in and at the back of my mind I ask why. I don't want to sound as if I am blowing my own trumpet here but I know when I have written something that is good (we are always are own best critics) but accepting that others might agree with that assumption comes hard sometimes.
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Lazy hazy sunlit day,
Bees hovering over
Earth toned wallflowers
And purple lavender
Drunk with the scent
Of Summers colour.
While my cat slumbers
In the midday heat
Dreaming of birds that whirl
In the blue soaked sky.
Then at days dusky end
I sit listening to the drone
Of bees returning to
the hive sounding
like squadrons of planes
returning to their base.
Then my cat, charged with
Sun stored energy
And goes on the prowl.
While I sleepy
From the days heat
Sit and ponder.
Monday, 6 April 2009
It is this mystical view of life that forges the link from the Proto Druids down through the millennia to the Druid of the 21st century. The phrase in Gwers5 “The world of spirit transcends time” says it all to me, when I enter my grove I enter a place that is outside of time where anything is possible. And that means that when I meet the Horned God there in one of his many guises it is a meeting that is outside of reality. To some this will be classed as fantasy or wishful thinking, but mysticism transcends reality.
All the questions that the mind throws up such as do the Gods exist? Is there such a thing as a spiritual connection to the land? Can we communicate with trees? All these questions when viewed from the mystical viewpoint in my opinion are answerable in the affirmative. Again and it is only my opinion that mysticism transcends the laws of physics.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
The time honoured way is to do this is in a hand written book I suppose but my handwriting is appalling, even I have trouble reading it. So I have decided to do this in word and save it as a document. I must remember to back it up on a disc regularly though.
Actually it will be quite therapeutic I feel to have somewhere to put down my thoughts, hopes and dreams in a place only I can see.