Great Healer

This is my short contribution to the celebrations of the NHS in its 70th year. If it were not for the NHS half my family would probably be dead (or bankrupted and left homeless, if we had the kind of private healthcare they have in America and which Jeremy Rhyming-Slang seems so desperate to impose on Britain). Here's to another 70 years - may you outlive all the snapping hyenas that would sell you off for private profit, and may those who misuse you gain greater respect for you and take greater care of their own health.

This short myth is about the death of Asclepios, the divine physician from Greek mythology who eventually gained his place in Olympus. Possibly a tale about te death of a physician isn't the ideal way of celebrating the NHS, but it's hot and my brain can barely function. I once painted a picture of Asclepios in the manner of Klimt. It wasn't very good, but I may have another crack at painting over the summer holiday (I'm very out of practice).

Happy 4th July

A small piece of American folklore to mark Independence Day which my American friends, including those ex-pats now living in the colonies, are celebrating. I've never crossed the pond so cannot add any geographical colour about the Philadelphia forests, so will leave it to your imagination along with any notions you may have as to what the mysterious Squonk looks like (I was sorely tempted to post a photo of various politicians, but decided to be diplomatic instead).


This is a general reflection (drawing no hard and fast conclusions, because I'm still mulling over it myself) about how various types of paganism might reflect on theodicy - the big question of how justice pans out in a world where seemingly a lot of unjust things happen both in terms of the innocent suffering but also the wicked getting away with it.

Suffolk Day

Today is both the summer solstice and Suffolk Day (a celebration of my home county instituted a year or two back by the local council). Having got up at silly o'clock to see the sun rise over the eastern seaboard - see photo inset showing the Golden Road to the Dawn - and I'm not quite with it as yet. I was going to record a long Lithuanian myth about the fairies of midsummer and the fern flowers (there are quite a few tales from that region of the world involving solstice fairies), but settled on a short local Suffolk tale instead.
A late 17th century account mentions an odd incident in Bury St Edmunds involving the local MP who believed himself under attack by witches. The happening is given as contemporary fact with eye witness testimony, rather than as ancient folklore. The account is quite brief and does not give a reason why the MP thought as he did, nor does it describe what happened next. So, being a typical storyteller, I have padded the gaps. The witches in question…

Dream of Oengus

The Dream, or Aislinge, is an old tale of how the Irish god of love himself finally falls in love with a woman he initially only knows through a dream. It's a lovely, gentle tale which exists as a contrast to all those lusty and bloodthirsty tales of battle and raunchy shenanigans.

When my brain is working again (it's been killed off by all the end-of-term marking and second marking), I'll expand this introductory written spiel with some thoughts on possible meanings behind the story - such as why the swan maiden's surname means aril (the fruit of the yew tree). In the meantime, pasted below is one of my poems about this story which was first published in my book Bard Song.

The Dream of Óengus Óg

Love is not pink, but bright red, Aril bed, where lovers link With chains of gold feather-light, Mute white swan’s wings safe enfold.
Four are my bright winged kisses, That Man’s mate misses, in spite Of the kiss of her “Old Man” ~ How can he compare to This?
I am the heat of the hear…

The Good Old Days

A shortish waffle about the way some modern pagans tend to view a romanticised past and our relationship with history. The past may be another country, but it can also be a blueprint for the future we are trying to create.

When dog could talk

Heard the sad news today that a husky owned by friends of mine has passed away from health problems. Dogs are family and their loss is always keenly felt.
So here is a short story, in a format common to a number of first nations in North America though this is my version rather than one completely specific to a particular culture, to remind us of how important dogs are in human evolution and survival. A number of comparative psychologists and zoologists have suggested that, in the long-lasting relationship between canines and humans, it may well have been the dogs who made the first move and gradually tamed us.
If you love a dog or hold fond memories of one in your heart, remember to help out those shelters and charities struggling to look after the ones that humans have let down through their frequent shittiness- donate some food, some time, some money, or adopt a beast in need of a new pack.