Saturday, 19 November 2016

Post-Pooka

November 5th was our seventh annual Pooka's Pagaeant, a day-long performing arts event celebrating pagan mythology and legend through story, poetry, song etc. The day was a challenging one, not least because two of the performers pulled out due to illness so their places in the programme had to be filled with last minute turns. The audience was not a large one, though it was a very friendly and engaged one.
We had the remarkably talented harpist Shani Liz Wyman travel up from the far west to perform a series of beautiful pieces on two harps which her late husband had crafted for her. It was a very inspiring performance and the interludes between each instrumental, where Liz introduced the piece and spoke about both her life and inspirations, were both moving and informative.
The replacement activities for the unwell performers seemed to go down fairly well, with one set of poetry readings and another discussion on how the arts can be used to help create community in paganism (which seems to be an uphill struggle on the best of days - I'm feeling increasingly bleak about the future of paganism in this country) and the ways in which we tell our collective story both to each other and to the wider society.
The day finished on a jovial note with a series of seasonal songs from Freyja's Fire, a Suffolk-based folk trio. I particularly like a rousing harvest song they do, and they always draw the pageant together.
The event has always run as a charitable activity, raising cash for animal welfare. This year we were only able to make any money at all because of the considerable generosity of both Liz and the musical trio who all donated their travel expenses (particularly large ones for the harpist) to the good causes. Every year has been a struggle to either get enough performers or to draw a decent-sized audience, and it's now reached the point when the continuance of the Pageant into 2017 is frankly debatable. How long can one go on trying to push a gathering when the majority of pagans have dozens of things they'd rather be doing instead? The Pageant was inspired by the vital presence within a statue of a pooka (a shapeshifting Gaelic nature elemental) that was given as a Yule gift eight years ago. He has come to every Pageant and numerous people have commented on the magnetic quality of the statue. It would be a real shame if an event that seems a genuine novelty in the British pagan scene went to the wall, but getting any kind of activity to run these days feels increasingly like wading through congealing porridge.
Maybe someone will come up with a dazzling suggestion that would treble the audience size and make it all viable for 2017, but at the moment the pageant floats in limbo.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween 2016

A final story for the season. As I have recorded this tonight, on Samhain, I've aspired to a more traditional flavour in keeping with both the old Gaelic festivities but also the traditions of the Cree who occupied Nova Scotia before the Scots went there. It's a gentler tale than some of the previous ones, and a reminder that the dead whom we honour do not always have to be of our own kind.
I had thought about doing a werewolf story, but this one presented itself to my consciousness as more suited for tonight. Perhaps the wolves will emerge from the woods again next year instead!
As I've rather flooded this blog with stories of late, I'll take a break and add other things instead for a while - reflections, poetry etc.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Mirror, Mirror

Another tale for the Halloween season, this one about a man who wants to redecorate his bed-sit (which is probably a horrible enough prospect in itself). Apologies about the ending - it was meant to be somewhat more explanatory, but for some reason my brain decided to be pretentious and stop where it did. Maybe I'll record a better version in the future.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Put down the pastie

Another rather revolting tale for the ghoulish season, this one inspired by the Ancient Greek saga of King Erysichthon, who makes the unwise mistake of grievously offending the goddess Demeter by destroying her trees (a timely warning for so many of us in the modern world... and maybe it explains many of the western world's health concerns?)
This story was also going to be performed at the Seven Deadly Stories performance that had been planned for this Saturday, but which had to be postpone. I had said in a previous post about doing a YouTube version - so consider this a partial fulfillment of that notion.


Monday, 24 October 2016

Vile vegetables

A tale recorded for Halloween. Will try and add at least one more before the day in question. Apologies to any gardeners for horticultural mistakes - I'm sure there are many.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Deadly doings

I had been planning on marking Halloween with a somewhat ambitious storytelling performance based around the Seven Deadly Sins, drawing on world mythology for an appropriate story for each sin. However, lack of time to properly promote such an event (in all honesty, I am dismally bad at publicising much of anything) and a general feeling of being a bit frazzled has led me to postpone this till early next year. It was going to be a fund raiser for the UK Wolf Trust, so I shall have to come up with some alternative option for that.

I may upload some stories and see if I can work out a way for viewers to donate to  the charity accordingly (though it sounds all a bit technical... I miss the days when you could just pass the hat round at the end of the evening).

In the meantime, here is a prattle I recorded about the Seven Sins for the PF virtual moot. Not a subject that many would regard as overly relevant to pagan viewers, but this is my spin on the matter.



Friday, 7 October 2016

World Poetry Day

Yesterday was World Poetry Day, so I started something but - what with teaching evening classes and one thing ad another - fell asleep before posting it. So, a day late, but here is an offering of sorts. Some readers might feel it ought to be a burnt offering, which wouldn't surprise me as I'm not a fan of blank verse. Too often it's a euphemism for badly written meanderings. So at least this is in keeping with the general quality! Not entirely sure on a title... maybe Digital Deities?




Digital Deities (or, perhaps, Virtual Mythology?)


Narcissus sinks into selfies,
Lost from sight.
Eyes gouged, Aminias fallen
On the stick discarded by his love.
Clattering in the empty hall,
It dislodges, echoing –
Empty memes meaning faded,
Pasted into perpetuity, pointless.

Theseus lost, his thread unravelling
As, harried by beasts
Part-man, mostly bull who,
Troll-turf tramping with horned hunger
Bellowing, stalk each other
Armed with sharpened barbs.
Each locked in labyrinthine logic.

Medea chanting blends the ancient recipes –
Nature’s pharmacopeia purified of agenda,
Hidden in pages lit from within, unclouded
By reason.
Her children sacrificed on the altar
Of Hygeia, Hecate forgotten in the flight to become
Pelias’s saviour, vaunted healer,
Gaia’s unclaimed prophetess who
Will not be scorned
By those who chase the Golden Fleece,
Guarded by the serpent of Asclepius.

Lotus juice lulls,
Plastic petals infuse in black pools that
Flow forth from flat-screened palm pitchers,
Entrancing thirsty minds,
Saving them from the toil of talking
To each other,
An island in silence sits, citizens
Lost in a world not present, deaf
To despair untexted.
Compassion undelivered.

Olympus waits for a signal.