Equinox tales

The autumn equinox is almost upon us, which has significance for several pagan traditions - though strangely very few ancient myths directly associated with it. From a secular viewpoint, it was the date on which the French abolished their monarchy and became a republic in 1792. I am not a republican myself (world politics is not currently enthusing me as to the joys of following such a political route), but do know of one pagan myth - or legend, at least (inasmuch as it depicts a purportedly historical event with no reference to magical or mystical goings on) - about how a much older civilisation became a republic.
This is the tragic tale of Lucretia, a Roman matron subjected to horrible treatment by the lecherous son of King Tarquin. I rarely tell historical tales, so this is not particularly well told. The events accounted for the Roman historians do not take place at the equinox, so the only tenuous connection to this time of year is republicanism.
The response she takes to the te…

Eisteddfod 2017

On Saturday 7th October, 11am to 4pm, the seventh annual Suffolk Eisteddfod will be held in the long room at PJ McGinty's pub in Ipswich, adjacent to the central bus station. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, an eisteddfod is a contest for poets and storytellers to flex their skills. Our contest is divided into two rounds, one for the poets (who must compose an original work on the theme of A LIFE CHANGING EVENT) and a longer round for the storytellers (who must regale an original - or their personal spin on a traditional - tale on the theme of THE WILD WOOD).

Alongside performers, there is plenty of room for audiences to cheer their favourite (and help them to win, because judges take audience reaction into account), all whilst enjoying a Guinness or two from the bar. The pub provide bar meals as well, so you can enjoy a snack between the rounds.
The two winners get awarded the title of Chief Skald of Suffolk - a skald being rather like the Anglo-Saxon version of a Celtic …

Gates of Dawn

The Wind in the Willows is one of my favourite books - the wonderful passion for the countryside,
the humorous and well-drawn characters, the fact that nothing much really happens but it is nonetheless as engaging as a sunny afternoon picnic As well as the book, I have several audio recordings by different actors. They are all abridged and all exclude Chapter Seven - quite my favourite part of the book and a total divergence from the general capering of the rest of the book. as I find reading the book therapeutic (and it's been one of those weeks where I need some therapy), I've recorded it both for my own enjoyment and to hopefully inspire a few listeners to go out and lay paws to their own copy of the novel.
So far as I know Kenneth Grahame was not pagan, but the whole tale is redolent with a pagan love of the land and its denizens - culminating in the epiphany on the island (the sort of thing most pagans only dream of... or only fleetingly recollect and dismiss as a pipe d…

Dangerous Dogs

On the evening of Thursday 17th August, my two elderly dogs and I were walking on Broom Hill, Ipswich (the side close to Valley Road & Westwood Avenue). Two large off-leash rottweilers appeared out of nowhere and attacked both my dogs and me, as I fought to kick the damned things off. The owners were way behind and were clearly not rushing even though they must have heard these monsters baying, my dogs screaming in pain, and me bellowing at the things to fuck off.
By some miracle the little Jack Russell was bruised but not otherwise wounded. My husky was badly bitten on his head, stomach, flank and rear, and had to be taken to the vet for stitches - costing £370. The damage to his belly was seconds away from disembowelling him. My leg and hand were bitten (blood everywhere by the time we got home) and I was given a tetanus booster and antibiotics.
The irresponsible buggers made no effort to apologise or ask if either I or my dogs were harmed. What makes this matter worse, for me,…

Tree tales

On Saturday past the Pagan Council held a Tree Walk around the Ipswich Arboretum in which I shared myth, poetry, folklore, and pagan magical traditions connected to the species of tree that we saw. There was a nice turn out on the day, the weather held well, and it raised just over £20 for the Woodland Trust (every little helps). Afterwards we had tea and cake in the cafe in Christchurch Park. It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon and we may well run something similar next year, going on a different route with other trees and their folklore.

This story is a short version of one of the most famous Irish tragic sagas, Deirdre of the Sorrows. I include it here because of the appearance of the trees at the end of the tale. There are several versions of the saga, each with slight variations (not all include the trees, for example). One day I might do a fuller version of this story, fleshing out some of the characters that just get glossed over in this recording.

Soul Food

I recorded a rather rambling podcast for the Pagan Federation virtual moot. This is almost the same, but in this version I remembered to say what I forgot to say in their version. The theme set was 'Food for the Soul' and so I've reflected on the way in which storytelling - from novels to family narratives to mythical sagas - shapes our lives (scop's them, if you want an Anglo-Saxon pun) for the better or worse. We feed our bellies with bread, but our souls with sagas.

One day I might transmute these disparate ideas into something cohesive, but at the moment you'll just have to endure the meandering version. I've been asked to write something a bit clever for an anthology ardently read by people who are very, very clever (and some who just think they are). I'm wary of doing so because they also seem to relish ripping one another apart in the way that posturing academics and pseuds in equal measures are prone to do. If I ever manage to produce a chapter, i…

Festival of Paganism 2017

This Saturday at Oddfellows Hall, High Street, Ipswich, the Ipswich Pagan Council will be holding a free event to build bridges with other pagan communities around East Anglia, help people new to paganism find their feet (pssst... they're on the end of your legs), and answer questions on paganism from those who are just curious.
This is a free event which runs as follows -

10.00       Doors open
10.15       Pagan Suffolk, with Robin Herne
11.00       Tales of the Native American nations, with Robert Lummis
12.00       Music and poetry over lunch
1.00         The Feast of Lupercalia, with Robin Herne
2.00         Paganism & Politics, a panel discussion
3.00         Greek mythology storytelling
3.30         Ethics of Healing, a panel discussion
4.00         Thanks & Farewell

Refreshments will be provided throughout the day. There will be displays on different branches of paganism, activities for children, and a friendly welcome for friendly faces. Just drop by and enjoy the …