Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ylim: Weaver, Seeress, Mask of the Grimr

I first met the Grimr in a book called the White Hart by Nancy Springer.  In it, she appears as an old weaver and seeress named Ylim.  She captivated my imagination when I read the following passage.  The imagery and feel was forever burned into my memory, my imagination, my soul.  I have encountered them in many guises since, but never with the power of that first encounter.  It will forever be what I think of, what I feel, what I know, when i think of them.

~Muninn’s Kiss

“It will take more than the Stone, also,” Bevan mumbled. The plan weighted him with reluctance, though he could not say why. Other problems burdened him, perplexities of mortality and longing and the lady that he and Cuin did not name. “Cuin,” he said abruptly at last, “there is one who is ancient even in the memory of my mother’s people, and full of wisdom. Let us go to her and see what she has to say to us.”

“Where?” Cuin asked, startled.

“Not far. A few days hence.”

It was a day’s ride from the Wildering Way, and only two days’ ride from Caer Eitha; it seemed odd to Cuin that he had never noted the place before. It was only a valley with a cottage and a little stream, a few chickens and a garden plot; but there was a strange radiance about it all. Inside the cottage sat the old woman working at a loom. She was ancient indeed, but there was no infirmity in her movements or her placid glance.

“Welcome, Bevan of Eburacon. Welcome, Cuin Kellarth,” she greeted them.

Cuin glanced inquiringly, and Bevan gave him a rare smile. “It means Cuin of the Steadfast Heart.”

“So he has been called since Time began,” the old woman said matter-of-factly.

Bevan sank onto a stool by her side. “What is that web, Ylim?”

“I weave the threads of days and dreams,” she said. “The days are troubled of late, but the dreams are good. Look.”

Cuin came closer to see. The cloth glowed with colors that were more alive than dye could make them. It was midnight-blue for the most part, or so Cuin was to remember it, but it was also hues of moonlight and storm clouds, Pit-blackness and the gleam of distant armies. Through it all leaped the form of a great white hart crowned in silver; it seemed to move before the eyes. Cuin blinked; he thought he saw blood on the stag, but then all went to confusion for him. He turned away his head.

“What have you seen for us, Ylim?” Bevan asked.

“You should be the greatest of the High Kings,” the old woman replied, “and Ellid Ciasifhon should be your Queen.”

Bevan flinched and glanced sidelong at Cuin, who met his eyes with painful reassurance.

“But that is a dream, Bevan,” Ylim continued gently, “and you know the pattern is ever changing. You do not need me to tell you these things. What troubles you, son of Byve?”

Bevan was silent; they all waited for his reply. “Pryce Dacaerin,” he burst out at last, to Cuin’s surprise. “What of him?”

Ylim stared for long moments. “He has not yet resolved the bent of his mind,” she said at last. “He is the father of your sweetheart, and for that reason alone he should cleave to you. But he is a proud and ambitious man, and the love of his child does not always constrain him. I believe you must strive to make him your friend, Bevan, but yet you do well to be wary of him.”

“I have not known Pryce Dacaerin to do dishonor!” Cuin exclaimed.

“Nor have I,” Bevan soothed him. “And in times to come, likely he shall set my worries all to naught.”

“Declare yourself from Caer Eitha,” the seeress told Bevan, “and scruple not to call on the power of Pryce of the Strongholds and on the saying of the Stone.” Ylim shifted her gaze. “But what thought is in you, son of Clarric?”

“That Bevan of Eburacon is much man,” Cuin told her. “Deep and subtle are his own powers, and mighty is my uncle’s power to aid him. But if he is to win his throne, he will need power to dazzle the eyes of men of shallow sight. Above all, it seems to me, he will need a kingly sword.”

“You are well named, Cuin.” The ancient seeress studied them both, gauging their strength. “There is such a sword to be had in Lyrdion,” she said presently.

“I do not know that place,” Bevan said.

“I have heard of it,” Cuin remarked, “but I do not understand what happened there.”

“That memory had faded in men when Byve was a boy,” Ylim mused. “An age before the High Kings of Eburacon ruled Isle, the Royal House of Lyrdion came to woe. But great was its power before pride overtook it, and great power yet resides in its chiefest treasure: the sword. Hau Ferddas is its name, ‘Mighty Protector,’ and he who wields it cannot be vanquished by force. Yours is the birthright, Cuin, for you are of that lineage, through your mother’s folk.”

Cuin gaped in astonishment. “Where now is this sword?” Bevan asked.

“It lies in the treasure barrow at Lyrdion, along the Western Sea. Dragons guard the place.”

“Dragons I can deal with,” Bevan sighed, “but there is a destiny laid on me that I may not behold the sea.”

“I know it well, Bevan of Eburacon. Therefore, behold it not! Cuin must get the sword for you.”

“Is it to be Cuin’s lot,” Bevan asked ruefully, “ever to give up his birthright for my sake?”

“I cannot answer that,” Ylim replied, “unless Cuin asks it for himself.”

“I ask it not,” said Cuin quietly. “Great is your gift of love, Cuin Kellarth,” the seeress told him, “and great will be your pain in it. May the Mothers comfort and guide you well.” But Cuin hung his head in unease at her words.

They ate with the ancient woman, and they could never afterward remember what had been that meal. Then they went on their way with the enchantment of deep time upon them and the threads of Ylim’s web before their eyes. “Who is she?” Cuin demanded at last. “She is no goddess that I have ever heard of, Bevan. Is she one of the Mothers?”

“Nay,” he replied dreamily. “The ages wash over her like tides. Before the Mothers brought man to Isle there were the Gods, and before the Gods there were the Old Ones, and before either there was Ylim. She is a part of none of it; she is here still, and no one does her reverence. She weaves.”

“Then she is the master of us all,” Cuin whispered.

“Is it the dancer or the piper who is master of the dance, or yet the one who made the tune? But Ylim is one who sits aside. She catches the dance in the web of her loom, but I think—she makes it not.”

Bevan paused; his dark eyes had grown as deep as distant skies. It was moments before he spoke again.

“It may be that there is One in whose sight she is younger than the dawn.”

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in muninnskiss


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Autumn Equinox: A Time to Remember…

The most significant dates in the solar year are the Winter Solstice and the Summer Solstice, the longest night and the longest day.  These are significant because they are the points where the sun is nearest to one of the poles and furthest from the other.  The Winter Solstice marks the end of shortening days and begins the lengthening of days, and the Summer Solstice the opposite.  But half way between these days are two other significant days.  The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes mark the point where the sun passes the equator as it moves from one pole to the other.  The Solstices are liminal because they are transitions between the growing days that the shrinking days, the shrinking nights and the growing nights.  The Equinoxes are liminal because they are the transitions between the sun in the north and the sun in the south.  All liminal times and places are of importance and can’t be ignored.

Yesterday marked the Autumn Equinox, half way between the Summer and Winter Solstices, the sun crossing from the northern hemisphere to the southern.  It is considered the transition from Summer to Autumn.  In astrological terms, the Equinox marks the sun moving from Virgo into Libra, the Virgin to the Scales.  The Coptic word for the constellation of Libra was Lambadia meaning “station of propitiation”.  In Arabic, it’s Al Zubena, meaning “redemption” or “purchase”.  Around this time of year (from sunset of the 29th to sunset of the 30th) is Rosh Hashana in the Jewish religious calendar.  Rosh Hashana means “head of the year” and is the Jewish New Year.  In the Tanakh, it is often called Yom Ha-Zikkaron, the Day of Rememberance, because it’s a day of looking back at the past year.  One tradition is Tashlikh meaning “casting off”, in which you walk to the nearest moving water and empty your pockets into it, symbolizing casting off your sins from the year before.  Which fits well with the Coptic and Arabic words for the constellation of Libra.

An obvious image that comes to mind is Ma’at in Egyptian mythology weighing the heart of the dead against the weight of a feather.  Ma’at is the goddess of law and morality, whose justice is extreme and unbending, but she also regulates the movements of the stars, the changing of the seasons, the actions of all mortals and gods, and is the Order that brought the cycles and constants of creation out of the chaos that came before.  In Genesis, the is the bohu that is order in the tohu, the Chaos.  Ma’at can be seen as Ananke, the three-headed serpentine goddess of Necessity, Fate, and Destiny, the twisting of her and her mate Chronos, Time, their coils twisting around each other, causing the turning of the stars and seasons, and the actions of mortals and gods.  Just as the Egyptian gods are bound by Ma’at, the Greek gods are bound by Ananke and her daughters, the Fates, and the Norse gods are bound by the Norns.

Here begins Autumn, and the march toward Winter, the time of the Ana and the Arddhu in Feri, of Wisdom and the elder years of life as he head toward the death of Winter.  This time of year is a time of balance, redemption, forgiveness, and Fate.  It is a time to remember Her, “Old Fate, the major deity of all true witches.”

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in muninnskiss


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Nine Acts of Witchcraft Become the Three Grimr, Part 1, Nourishment…

In 2009 and 2010, I wrote a series of ten posts on the first nine acts of witchcraft.  These posts were an analysis of the nine acts, the nine changes, G-d did at the beginning of Genesis which brought about the creation of the world.  I looked at them in sequential order as they occurred over the seven days in the myth.  I’d like to take another look at these acts by looking at them in a different way.

The nine acts are:

  1. Let there be light.  (link)
  2. Let there be a firmament.  (link)
  3. Let the waters under heaven be gathered.  (link)
  4. Let the earth put forth.  (link)
  5. Let there be lights in the firmament.  (link)
  6. Let the waters swarm and let fowl fly.  (link)
  7. Let the earth bring forth the living creature.  (part 1) (part 2)
  8. Let us make man in our image.  (link)
  9. And he rested.  (link)

People usually focus on there being seven days, but few ever mention that there are nine acts.  The number nine doesn’t occur often in Hebrew texts and thoughts compared to other numbers, but is is very common in Norse and Germanic myth.  Among many other occurances of the number, there are nine worlds, Odin hung on the Tree, a sacrifice by himself to himself, for nine days, and nine of the gods survive Ragnarok.  Also, in Greek myth, there are nine muses.  In Robert Cochrane’s letters, you circle the alter three time three (9) times for the Maid, three times six (18 which is 9 time 2) times for the Mother, and three times nine (36) times for the Hag.  Also, he indicates nine Rites or Knots of the year during which the male and female clans would come together.

But nine is always related to three in myth, as is six.  Six is three sets of twins, and nine three sets of three.  When you look at the nine acts as groups of three chronologically, not much emerges.  In the first trinity, we see separation, separation, coming together.  In the second, we see three things coming forth.  In the third, we coming forth, making, resting.  While these sets are interesting and shouldn’t be ignored, they don’t form any patterns that are common for all three sets.  But if we group them by taking each one in the chronological grouping and put them with each in the next set and so far, some interesting details emerge.

Let there be light.  Let the earth put forth.  Let the earth bring forth living creatures.

Working backwards, we see the the earth bringing the living creature, and the earth putting forth plants.  The connection here between the two is easy to see.  The earth brings forth both.  The interesting thing is there are two words here.  Let the earth put forth uses dasha (דָּשָׁא), but when the earth obeys, it brings forth, yatsa’ (יָצָא).  Dasha is to sprout, to grow green.  Yatsa’ is to put forth, to depart or cause to depart.  So it sprouts, then grows up, out, away from the ground.  But G-d tells the land to bring forth, yatsa’, the living creature.  And all the living things of the earth (not of the water or the air) are brought forth, pushed out of the ground.  And then, it says, G-d makes, ‘asah (עָשָׂה), fashions all of them.  So they come forth, then are formed.

But back to the first triune, the first of the Grimr.  The first two are easily connected, the earth bringing forth.  Out of the earth they come.  But how does that connect to the first?  Let there be light.  To see the connection, we must understand nature and cycles.  Let’s start with the creatures.  To begin with, they only eat plants.  Only later do some eat other creatures.  Plants.  So animals, the third part, eat plants, the second part.  So what do plants live on?  If animals get their energy from plants, where do plants get their energy?  Light.  Ah ha, light!  The first part.  So light feeds the plants and plants feed the animals.  Now this triune starts to make sense and come together.

But there’s another element here.  The plants and animals come out of the earth, but where does the light come out of?  Let’s look back a bit:

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
3 And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. 

And afterwards:

3 And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

So, before light, there was the earth, darkness, waters, and the spirit of G-d (The four elements.  Earth and water.  The spirit is wind, air.  The darkness is black fire, see The earth was (tohu va-vohu), chaos and void…)  And it’s the darkness that the light is intermingled with, not the rest.  So it would seem that the light came out of the darkness, just as the plants and animals came out of the earth.  There is a verse somewhere in the Zohar that says that light is brightest that comes out of the darkness.  The black fire of inspiration brings forth light, illumination, Truth.

So the darkness, the fire, brings forth light, and the earth brings forth plants, then animals.  The light nourishes the plants.  The plants nourish the animals.  The three are a cycle, the three become one.  On the first day.  On the third day.  On the sixth day.  The first act.  The fourth act.  The seventh act.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in muninnskiss


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