Tag Archives: change

On the Paradigm of Opposition Between the Human World and the Natural World

The disconnect that is often propagated between the human world and the natural world, and the dichotomy created by it, has slowly lead to an understanding that pulls us away from some very important truths, creating a cycle of misunderstanding that pulls us further and further from a healthy and beneficial coexistence with the world we live in.

This can be described as the urbanization of the human mind, the movement away from a realization that we are part of the world around us to the idea of human habitat as an urban bastion of non-nature in a sea of natural world, and the growth of cities as the expanding of the walls and driving back that which is beyond.

While there is truth in this image, it tends to manifest in two different mental processes, both of which miss the true nature of both the reality and of the issues created.

The first mental process is that of the natural world as the aggressor. This mental process grew in the transition from hunter/gatherer nomadic society to an agricultural fixed location society. It is less present among nomadic cultures that aren’t fixed in location. The image is of humans behind walls or fences or hedges, with all of the natural world besieging. This is a position of fear of the unknown beyond the boundaries. There is truth in it, but it creates a us and them idea of the world. It seals the humans within the walls, with limited ability to identify with what is beyond. It also can and has lead to an image of the natural world as something to be conquered, manifest destiny if you will. The idea that if humans don’t subjugate or suppress the natural world, that the natural world will do so to humans. Kill or be killed.

The second mental process is that of the human world as the aggressor. This mental process grew out of the developments of the last century, of seeing the negative impact of human actions of the natural world and determining humans should thereby be seen as a virus or disease that threatens the natural world. This leads, and has lead, to the idea that the only way to protect the natural world is to exterminate the human threat. This is usually not taken to the full extreme, but the idea creates the idea that the goal is to limit human activities as much as possible, preserve the remaining wild areas by completely preventing human presence. Quarantining the humans to prevent their spread. Containment.

Both of these mental processes, while being rooted in concerns and truths that are very real, miss the truth that humans are part of the natural world, that human habitat damaging that of others is only different in scale from certain ants that consume everything in their path, of large amounts of predators decimating prey populations, of large populations of herbivores decimating plant populations.

The goal of subjugation of nature hurts not just what is perceived as the natural world, but the human world as well, as we depend on that which isn’t human for food, for oxygen, for climate regulation, for clean water, housing, for many things we need for survival, to make human habitat possible.

And humans are a part of the environment as much as any other species. The elimination of humans will have the same results as the elimination of a predator or grazing species. This is well seen in changes between fire management policies. A change from a policy to put out all fires to a let it burn approach results in danger not just to human habitat but to many other habitats, as the prevention of fire allows fuel to build up, and a sudden stop in prevention results in worse and wider spread fires that would naturally occur. Likewise, fire prevention if too aggressive prevent the processes that would naturally occur. For instance, fire reduces pine beetle populations, lowering the amount of dead pine timber, which are the cause of large spread fire, and stimulates the cones to replace what was burned. Fire also stimulates root activity in aspens, causing growth in size and density of aspen groves which are habitat to many types of species. Any change in policy, or in human behavior, if not gradual with a smooth transition, will have unexpected ramifications that might not be beneficial.

The solution to the problems that arise in human vs nature interactions is not to fight against nature or against humans, but to understand that there is no separation. Human is part of nature, not a separate thing. In this understanding, solutions arise that can facilitate human needs while taking into account the impact on the other parts of nature. Only then can a better balance and better approach be possible.

This, however, isn’t a matter of writing up a plan, or defining policy, law, or procedures. The issue is one of mental process, of paradigm and world view. Such changes can’t be regulated into manifestation. Mental process changes, paradigm shifts, and changes to world view aren’t a matter of law but of practice, not a matter of top down enforcement and dictation, but of individual changes spreading.

A different type of disease than was discussed above, a fire of inspiration and passion igniting change from individual to group, from group to community, from community to region, and outward.

What is needed is not laws and regulations, restrictions and policy. These things are not bad, especially as an intermediate step to treat the symptoms. But they won’t create change.

Change is a whirlwind, chaos, it is prophecy and inspiration, the meed of poetry, heady and potent. Law is my its nature a thing of stasis and control, order, establishment.

Change begins not in law but in hearts and minds. Change is spoken. Change is acted. Change is a thing done in the day to day life, impacting that spot you live in, that soil you are planted in. Change is shared with those you are in contacted with, with community, with clan, with tribe.

Light the fire of inspiration and change in your own heart and mind, plant the seed in the fertile soil of yourself. Let it spread. Let the fire light in others by contact, let the root reach out and grow into trees in the soil of those around you.

Let those that are lit by your fire do the same, and those lit by theirs. Change the world where you are, and the ripples and waves across the pond that is our world will be seen in all places.

Embody change, embody spirit, embody the unity of all things, the interconnected web that is all living things. Look for what you can do where you are, and do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t be afraid.

Be a flame burning bright. Let your flame spread.

Consider this well, and think on it.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in muninnskiss


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Equinox Crossroads: The Beauty of Autumn

We come once again to a crossroads.  Though the equinox doesn’t officially come until Saturday afternoon, I felt the High Tide this afternoon, so for me, it is the equinox.  The equinox, like all the Knots, like all the Tides, is truly a crossroads, and all crossroads are decision points.

As you move further north in Europe, or in North America, harvest shift back toward the Solstice.  Further south, they shift the over way.  Planting shifts toward the same point, planting and harvest approaching each other.  In the far north, Planting is around May Day and harvest is around the Summer Solstice.  In the south, there are even winter crops.  The two points vary as you move north.  South of the Summer Solstice Harvest, but north of the Mediterranean.  Often three harvests are discussed, that of Lugh’s Feast, that of the Autumn Solstice, and that of Samhain.

In Laramie where I live, there is only one crop worth growing, one harvest a year.  Hay grows well and will feed the cattle through the long winter if the weather cooperates.  Though none of the Knots or Tides are commonly celebrated, they do roughly correspond to our growing season.  Typically, planting occurs between May Day and the Summer Solstice.  Typically harvest is between Lugh’s Day and the Autumn Equinox.  Planting has to be done after the last major freeze but before the rain comes.  Harvest occurs after the rain stops, but also after the hay has time to dry in the heat following the rain, but before the first major freeze.  This leaves a precarious balance.  If the cold lasts too late of the rains come too soon, the hay planted has little chance.  If the rain comes too late or ends too soon, the hay won’t grow.  If the rain lasts too long or the heat doesn’t last long enough, the hay doesn’t dry and if it can be harvested at all, it risks rot.  If the snow comes too soon, time runs out to finish harvest.

This year was an odd year.  Instead of May, Spring came in March, way too early.  This meant the water from the runoff, used for irrigation, peaked in May instead of July.  March is too early to plant, and the rain came too early, lid April instead of late May, and ended too early as well, early June instead of mid July.  The heat came early, mid June instead of early August.  The fields were dry enough for harvest in early August, way too early.  The hay grew about six inches this year instead of about two feet normally.  The ranchers didn’t have much to harvest, and grazing began to fade early as well, so the need for hay came early.  Hay prices have soared, but there is not enough supply for the demand no matter how much it costs.  A very bad thing heading into what appears will be an early winter.

We are approaching the full moon of the third moon of Autumn, when we should be in the second moon.  The first moon of Autumn was the Yarrow Moon, and the second was the Sagebrush Moon.  I’m unsure what name to give this current one.  Candidates currently are the Moon of Yellow Leaves, the Yellow Moon, the Dust Moon, the Cooling Moon, the Harvest Moon, and the Blood Moon.

The Autumn Equinox is a very obvious crossroads.  It stands at the midpoint between Midsummer and Midwinter, between the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice.  The name Equinox is of course Aequus Nox, Equal Night.  From a astronomical point of view, it is the point where the sun rises at about six in the morning and sets at about six in the evening, with a twelve hour day and a twelve hour night.  It is the midpoint in the progression of day/night, with the longest day at the Summer Solstice and the longest night at the Winter Solstice.  The equinox is half way between, with the decreasing days and increasing nights passing each other as they swing the other way.

What’s interesting is that the cross quarters (Beltane/May Day, Lugh’s Day, Samhain, Candlemas/Bride’s Day) and the Solstices were common times for festivals and feasts, yet the equinoxes seldom were.  They are easier to observe for the common person without instruments or charts than any other, yet they are seldom observed.  But, then, the cross quarters were marked by the rising of certain stars, they were stellar in nature.  The Solstices are when the sun enters Cancer and Capricorn, and the Equinoxes are when the sun enters Aries and Libra.  They are solar but marked by stellar times.  The importance of the Solstices seem obvious.  The sun begins dying with the Summer Solstice, and coming back alive with the Winter Solstice.  But what purpose would the Equinoxes actually hold?  It would depend on the area, more than likely.  Some areas would indeed have planted and harvested at the equinoxes, but mostly they are a sign of the approach of Beltane and Samhain.

Looking at the Zodiac, the Autumn Equinox marks the sun moving from Virgo into Libra, from the Virgin to the Scales.  Virgo marks the end of growing in many cultures.  She is the Corn Maiden, the Wheat Maiden.  The brightest star is Spica, Spica Virginis, the Maiden’s Ear of Grain.  Spica is the fruit the Maiden brings.  Libra, though, the Scales, is judgment and endings.  It is Ma’at weighing the human heart against a feather.  It is accounts settled after the harvest is brought it.  Libra is the sign of cutting, the Cutter to Virgo’s Spinner.  Balanced scales of course are appropriate to the Autumn Equinox, a point of balance between night and day.

In areas like this area which truly have a defined Autumn, it truly is a beautiful time of year.  The grasses turn golden, the leaves bright yellow, the sky is a pale blue, with wispy clouds, the sunsets are reds and yellows, not the blues and purples of earlier in the year, the waters of the lakes and rivers are dark and secretive, the dust grey and dry.  There is a chill in the air that comes and goes, summer still hanging on stubbornly, winter sleepy but stirring.  The nights are cold but the days aren’t too chilly yet.  Sweat shirts and sweaters come out, though not worn constantly.  Everyone and everything can feel the Change in the air, the Year turning, Autumn approaching Winter.  The Scales stand balanced but begin to tip toward Night, toward Nyx, toward Nox.  They begin to tip toward Winter.

You will recall the Horned Child born at Lugh’s Feast.  The Winged Serpent grows old as Winter approaches, but the Horned Child grows stronger.  The Scales are balanced, The Horned Child increasing as Winter comes, the Winged Serpent growing weaker as Summer fades.  The Queen also ages, but she is not weaker.  Her white dress gives way to sable black robes, her black Night Veil runs red with Blood.  She who married the Winged Serpent as the Spinner and gave birth to the Horned Child as the Weaver has now become the Cutter.  And the stage is set for Samhain once more.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in muninnskiss


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As the Moons Change

And the tides turn and the moons change.  The Moon fades, the Moon grows.  The Summer warms and the Summer cools.  Summer gives way to Autumn.  As the moons change.

In July, I talked of the Flower Moon, of the Summer Solstice, of the Fire Moon.  The Fire Moon faded and another moon came.  That faded, and yet another came.  As the always do.  As the moons change.

After the Solstice, the Year marched on.  The Sun began its slow movement Southward, the days shortened.  Lugh’s Day Came and went.  As the moons change.

Fires seemed to grow until the Full moon of Fire, getting worse, bur as the Moon faded, so did the fires.  Fires continue in areas, and the ones that were here are not all out, buy with the passing of the Fire Moon, they no longer touched our lives.  They became forgotten, ignored.  New fires did not come, at least here.  With the moon, the fires withdrew for consciousness, from importance.  As the moons change.

So, we moved on in late July, from the Fire Moon to a new moon.  In the dark it was born.  With it, my allergies started acting up, an oddity, since usually this doesn’t come until the second week of so of September.  My allergies here in the valley have always been strange to me, as they never occurring in other places I have lived across the West.  Only once did I react to pollen, only one type.  As a kid, I sniffed a bundle of white yarrow flowers, and immediately sneezed.  Tried it again to test with the same results.  I had no reaction in general, only when I sniffed it directly.  So why allergies for a month here every year?  As the moons change.

Close to the middle of the unnamed Moon, just after the Full Moon, I traveled up into the mountains first to the East near Happy Jack, then the Southwest near Lake Owen.  I found plants in seed that I had expected to still see blooming.  I saw plants blooming that usually don’t until later.  I saw a world changing to Autumn when it should be the heart of Summer.  But Spring and Summer both came early, so no surprise there.  I thought to call it the Seed Moon because of all that had gone to seed, but it didn’t seem right.  I thought to call it the Moss Moon, for the moss I caught blooming.  But that didn’t fit either.  But I did find something that both fit the Moon and explained a mystery.  Everywhere I went, I saw yarrow blooming.  In small patches, it was scattered everywhere in the hills.  And I realized, the other signs I had seen all pointed to the time period of my normal allergies.  Like the other signs, yarrow was blooming early.  Though early, it was the time for yarrow to bloom, the Yarrow Moon.  As the moons change.

Earlier in the Yarrow Moon, just before the Full Moon of Yarrow, many calendars mark Lugh’s Day, also called Lammas (Hlaf-Mass, Loaf Mass) or Lughnasadh/Lunasa/Lunastal/Luanistyn (Lugh’s Feast) or Calan Awst (the Calends of August).  The myth goes that Lugh’s foster mother Tailtiu died of exhaustion after clearing the plans of Ireland for agriculture.  In memory of her sacrifice and to honour her death and memory, Lugh held a huge feast and sporting contest, the prototype for later jousts and similar events.  In another account, it marks Lugh defeating Balor (or Bel or Baal), the king of the giants, Fomorians.  Often, this was Lugh’s grandfather, and Lugh proclaimed a day of mourning for his death.  In later legends, it becomes Lugh who died and is mourned.  Lammas comes from the Saxon name, and was a Saxon feast around the same time.  Both are harvest festivals, the beginning of grain harvest, typically the first of three harvest festivals in the British Isles.  The clearing of the plans is obvious, the killing of Balor, not so much.  There are a couple hints in the details.  The death of the old giving rise to the new.  The mourning ceremony that continued almost to present day.  Bres, who had recruited Balor to fight that battle, being found alive and begging for mercy, first by offering to insure the cows of Ireland always give milk, then offering four harvests, then offering and having it accepted to teach the Dé how and when to plough, sow, and reap.  The last is obvious, it was on that day they learner the steps to get to harvest, which begins that time of year.  But what of death and mourning?  The harvest marks the death of the grain.  They grow until harvest, then are cut down, their heads cut off like people killed in battle, like Balor, cut down by Lugh’s spear through the back of his head or neck or through his one killing eye depending on the myth, his head falling and splitting and being impaled on a hazel tree, tree of wisdom and prophecy.  Many symbols there, but I won’t go into them now.  For our purposes here, Lugh cutting down Balor is the reapers cutting down grain in harvest, the mourning of that death.  As the moons change.

But that’s the origins and practices of tradition in the British Isles, among Celts and Saxons.  Wyoming is a different time and place, I am a different person, and Grimr is a different stream.  Lugh’s Day does not mark harvest here most years, where hay is the only crop.  No, I must look elsewhere, for the blooms and seeds, the harvest and births are here lunar, not solar, but the solar, and stellar, year hold mysteries beyond planting and harvest.  The secret lies not in the harvest per se, but in the day’s Twin across the year.  As Beltane and Samhain are linked, the Wedding and the Sacrifice, and Summer and Winter Solstices, the Child in the Womb and the Waking Serpent, so Bride’s Day and Lugh’s Day reflect.  The first thing to note is that Irish folk belief said animals didn’t give much milk in winter, but started producing after Brigid’s Day, Bride’s Day, when birthing began.  With milk comes butter, golden, like Lugh’s wheat at harvest.  Lugh’s from plants, Bride’s from animals.  There are also stories describing St. Brenden as father at Lugh’s. Feast and St. Brigid as mother.  Brenden can be shown as a sit in for Lugh, who could no longer be present in a Christian society.  Brigid/Bride became St. Brigid.  St. Brenden’s father was named Fionnlugh, Fionn Lugh.  Fionn was a great Irish hero, and we know Lugh.  Many rituals ones done in Lugh’s name are now done in St. Brenden’s name.  St. Brennan is of course the patron saint of navigation because of his voyage and roughly mirror’s the voyage of Bran mac Febal.  Bran the Blessed in Welsh tales, the giant who was King of all Britain, the possessor of the Cauldron of Rejuvenation and brother of Branwen, who was a sea god by all appearances, is often seen as the same as the Irish Bran mac Febal.  Bran the Blessed’s brother, Manawydan fab Llŷr in Welsh tales is Manannán mac Lir in Irishmyth and is the foster father of Lugh in Irish myth.  Like Bran in Welsh myth, Manannán in Irish myth is a sea god.  Curiously, it’s Manannán who prophecies to Bran mac Febal.  Both Llŷr and Lir are also sea gods, though little is said of them except who they are fathers to.  There is indication that they are the personification of the sea itself.  The similarities between the voyage of Bran mac Febal and that or St. Brenden, and the familial connections of Bran mac Febal, through Bran the Blessed and Manawydan, to Manannán, combined with his part in the voyage of Bran mac Febal, plus the abundance of sea gods and sea voyages in this confusing web, and Manannán being both the foster father of Lugh and the prophet directing Bran mac Febal seem to place St. Brenden in a role similar to that of Lugh, in a convoluted way.  (And it should not be ignored the Bran the Blessed became the Fisher King in Graal legend, and the connection between the Fisher King, the Land and Wasteland, and the Graal, with Lugh’s Day’s connection to fertility and harvest.)  So, in St. Brenden and St. Brigid overseeing Lugh’s Feast, we have Lugh and Brigid, father and mother of the feast, of the food, of the grain and butter, of the bread.  Fertility begins with Brigid, with the beginning of new life in February, ending with Lugh, with the harvest of August.  As the moons change.

It’s important, of course, to take the Zodiac into consideration. Lugh’s Day lands in the middle of Leo, the Lion.  The characteristic normally associated with people born in Leo relate well to both Bran the Blessed and to Lugh.  Generous, creative, enthusiastic.  Bran the Blessed was well known for his hospitality, his generosity.  Lugh was the master of all skills, he could do anything, create anything (among other things, like Brigid, we was a smith).  Creativity definitely applies.  And both were definitely enthusiastic, giving everything to anything they did.  The sun moves into Leo around July 23rd, reaches the middle around Lugh’s Day, then moves out around August 23rd.  As the moons change.

So we have a framework, but where does Lugh’s Day play into our cycle, the myth cycle I have described in previous posts?  The serpent killed in the Tide of Samhain, Awakened in the Tide of Widwinter, Called in the Tide of Candlemas (Bride’s Day), Reborn in the Tide of the Equinox, Wed in the Tide of Beltane, and Father of the Child in the Womb in the Tide of Midsummer.  Where does Lugh’s Feast find our Winged Serpent and our May Queen?  If impregnation was with the wedding at Beltane, and Midsummer had the focus of her pregnancy, Lugh’s Day must be the birth.  This is appropriate across from Bride’s Day, the Calling.  As the Winged Serpent crawls up the Well of Worlds, so the Horned Child is born through the Well of the Womb.  Twin and Twin.  Just as the Winged Serpent stirred in the Womb of Death as Midwinter, so the Horned Child stirred in the Womb of Life at Midsummer.  Twin and Twin.  Fitting parallels across the circle of the Year.  So, Lugh’s Day is the birth of the Horned Child.  Now, looking at Lugh and Brigid again, at the Golden Wheat and the Golden Butter, at Plant and Animal, looking at our cycle, the Winged Serpent becomes the Lord of Animals, and the Horned Child the Lord of Plants.  The Red God and the Green God.  The Hunter and the Gatherer.  The Herdsman and the Ploughman.  Abel and Cain.  Twins.  And Nexus and Catalyst as we will see as the year moves on.  As the moons change.

On the 17th of August, the Yarrow Moon drew to a close and a new Moon was born in the Dark of the Moon, as a new Moon is always born.  With the fading of the Yarrow Moon, my allergies faded and vanished as the new Moon began to grow.  This was a hard time for me, as my grandma died the day before the New Moon.  I distracted myself that evening by spending it in the high mountains below Medicine Bow Peak in the Snowies, started near the Lake of Tears and Skye’s Cairn.  I stopped many places on my way up, and spend several hours in the country around the mountain.  I realized that high country was very much what Jutenheim would be like, a place of giants and ancient power and wisdom.  On my way up, I discovered the sagebrush had begun to bloom in places.  On the Dark of the Moon itself, I went up to my working site and had an encounter with Deneb among other things, though I won’t go into detail in this public place.  Deneb was once the Pole Star, before it shifted to Polaris.  It sits in an open Well of Darkness in the sky, right by the Milky Way.  This is a timely experience, as the Chinese Feast of Qixi, the Night of Sevens, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.  The Moon following the Yarrow Moon is that month this year, placing Qixi on the day beginning at sundown on the 23rd of August this year the Thursday following my experience.  Qixi celebrates Zhinu and Niulang, the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd.  The Weaver Girl was princess of Heaven, and the Cowherd, a lowly human herdsman.  They fell in love and the Jade Emperor, the Weaver Girl’s father, got upset and placed a river between them.  Each year on Qixi, the magpies (it is also called the Magpie Feast) gather and form a bridge over the river so they can be together for one night.  Vega is the Weaver Girl.  Altair is the Cowherd.  The Milky Way is the River.  And Deneb is the Magpie Bridge, the Bridge across the River that separates Heaven and Earth.  Deneb is a Bridge between the Human and the Divine.  I’ve talked of Bridges before.  Sunday following the Dark of the Moon, I traveled down to Colorado to pick up my love from the airport.  On the way, I stopped and observed, and the sagebrush was blooming more and more.  This continued.  Some bloom sage green, but some bloom bright yellow.  sagebrush is important in Wyoming.  It the main native plant of the High Plains.  Some sagebrush in Wyoming is over 200 years old and seven or eight feet tall.  I call this old growth sagebrush.  Like those who settled in Wyoming, sagebrush is hard to kill. It survives the extremes of weather, from hard winters to hot summers.  It does fine in the short growing seasons.  It can survive on very little water but isn’t killed by flooding.  But it spreads very slowly and is virtually impossible to transplant, so once it’s cleared, it will take a generation for it to reclaim the fields.  sagebrush was used as a medicinal plant by natives to Wyoming.  It was used to treat infection, treat headaches and colds, and to stop internal bleeding.  Infection was treated with a poultice.  It was inhaled for colds and head aches, sometimes just breathed in, sometimes burned and the smoke inhaled, depending on the tribe.  For internal bleeding, it was drank as a tea.  On the Full Moon of this Moon (which was the Blue Moon, as I discussed in a previous post), I once again spent time outside in meditation.  I encountered the Twins in a dark mirror, but can’t give any more details here.  As this Moon draws to a close, I look back on the month, at the death of my grandmother on the 16th before the Moon changed, to Deneb on the 17th, to the return of my love on the 19th, to the lose of my job on the 24th, to my grandma’s memorial service on the 26th, to the Twins on the 31st.  I look at the darkness of the first half of the Moon, but growing light in the second half.  I look at the steadily increasing signs of Autumn as the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, as the leaves slowly change and the sagebrush blooms.  The second Moon of Autumn, early but firm, draws to a close.  Looking back, this month of death and endings, of darkness and light, seems to be a month for the sagebrush of the plains, not the trees or plants of the mountains.  It’s a month of ranchers not mountain men, of cattle and antelope, not the animals of the mountains.  Life fades in the mountains, but the prairies bloom.  So here we draw to the end of the Sagebrush Moon, wondering what the Dark of the Moon tomorrow night will bring, what the third Moon of Autumn has in store for us, what the coming Equinox will reveal.  As the moons change.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in muninnskiss


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Ever After: The Pursuit of Passion

Since it came out, one of my favourite movies has been Ever After.  I’m sure most people have seen it, and it is old news now, but I sit here watching it again, and as always it captivates me, insides me, and leaves me thinking.

For any who are not familiar with the film, it is a retelling of Cinderella staring Drew Barrymore set in France in the time of Leonardo da Vinci.  Henry (Dougray Scott), the prince of France is engaged to marry the princess of Spain in an arranged marriage.  He feels trapped by this marriage and by the responsibilities of his birth and his future home.  Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is the Cinderella figure.  Her father was a merchant who married a baroness and died jet after, leaving his manor, and Danielle, to his new wife, who had two daughter.  The Baroness raises Danielle as a servant.  She has several encounters with the prince, who believes her to a Comtesse, because of the name she gives.  It’s a beautiful love story and I’m a hopeless romantic, so I of course loved it.

But it’s not the love story I want to talk about, but Passion.  There is a lesson to be learner from the film for all of us, as most of us live our lives as the prince had previous to meeting Danielle.  This is summarized in Henry’s speech to Danielle in the library of the Franciscans:

“In all my years of study, not one tutor has ever demonstrated the passion you have shown me in the last two days.  You have more conviction in one memory than I have in my entire being.”

And also in his discussion with Da Vinci at the beginning of the movie:

Henry:  “I know.  I lied.  I thought I’d see the world before I gave up my life for God and country.”
Da Vinci:  “Why on earth did you stop?”
Henry:  “I suppose I lack conviction.  You seem to have it in spades.  Besides, you said it was a matter of life and death.”
Da Vinci:  “A woman always is, Sire.”  (unrolling the Mona Lisa)
Henry:  “She laughs at me, sir, as if she knows something I do not.”
Da Vinci:  “The lady had many secrets.  I merely painted one of them.”

Prince Henry had grown up having everything.  The best tutors, access to libraries most couldn’t dream of, he had never gone hungry, never had to do hard labour, never known loss, never suffered the way “lesser” people did.  He had never lacked anything.  Except Passion.

Danielle, on the other hand, though living a sheltered early life, experiences loss when her father dies.  From then on, though she always has enough to eat, she is treated like a servant and spends her life working and labouring.  She spent the rest of her life after his death without certainty, with no position, no access to any of the advantages the prince had.  But what she did have was Passion.  She was naive and idealistic to a point that she was bound to be disappointed by life, but she had a Passion that was a raging fire inside her.

Danielle’s Passion and Henry’s Apathy are shown in their confrontation the second time they met.  Danielle dressed up as a courtier and went with 20 pieces of gold to redeem one of the servants.  The Baroness had given him to the Crown for a debt of 20 pieces of gold.  She tried to make the driver of the cart hauling the poor debtors to the coast to serve in the new world to release him, and he was getting angry with her because she was delaying him.  The prince arrives and steps it.

Cargo Master: Get out of my way!
Prince Henry: You dare raise your voice to a lady, sir?
Cargo Master: Your Highness. Forgive me, Sire. I meant no disrespect. It’s just er… I’m following orders. It’s my job to take these thieves to the coast.
Danielle: A servant is not a thief, your Highness; and those who are cannot help themselves.
Prince Henry: Really? Well, then. By all means. Enlighten us.
Danielle: If you suffer your people to be ill-educated and their manners corrupted from infancy then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them what else is to be concluded, Sire but that you first make thieves and then punish them?
Prince Henry: Well, there you have it. Release him.
Cargo Master: But, Sire…
Prince Henry: I said release him!
Cargo Master: Yes, Sire.
Maurice: I thought I was looking at your mother.
Danielle: Meet me at the bridge. Prepare the horses! We will leave at once! Thank you, Your Highness.
Prince Henry: Have we met?
Danielle: I do not believe so, Your Highness.
Prince Henry: I could have sworn I knew every courtier in the province.
Danielle: Well… I’m visiting a cousin.
Prince Henry: Who?
Danielle: My cousin.
Prince Henry: Yes, you said that. Which one?
Danielle: The only one I have, Sire.
Prince Henry: Are you coy on purpose or do you honestly refuse to tell me your name?
Danielle: No! And yes.
Prince Henry: Then, pray, tell me your cousin’s name so I might call upon her to learn who you are. Anyone who can quote Thomas Moore is well worth the effort.
Danielle: The Prince has read Utopia?
Prince Henry: I found it sentimental and dull. I confess, the plight of the everyday rustic bores me.
Danielle: I gather you do not converse with many peasants.
Prince Henry: (chuckles) Certainly not, no! Naturally.
Danielle: Excuse me, Sire, but there is nothing natural about it. A country’s character is defined by its everyday rustics, as you call them. They are the legs you stand on. That position demands respect, not…
Prince Henry: Am I to understand that you find me arrogant?
Danielle: Well, you gave one man back his life but did you even glance at the others?
Prince Henry: Please, I beg of you a name. Any name.
Danielle: I fear that the only name to leave you with is Comtesse Nicole de Lancret.
Prince Henry: There now. That wasn’t so hard.

It’s clash of cultures and classes, but ultimately, it shows her Passion and his inability to understand that Passion.  It was foreign to him, beyond his understanding, like explaining flying to a deep sea fish, or the sea to a high mountain bird.  But that incomprehensible, that bafflement, is what fascinates Henry about Danielle.

He runs across her again at the river when he was accompanying Da Vinci to test a new invention and she was there swimming.

Prince Henry: You’re angry with me.
Danielle: No.
Prince Henry: Admit it.
Danielle: Well, yes, if you must know.
Prince Henry: Why?
Danielle: Because you are trying to bait me with your snobbery. Prince Henry: I’m afraid, mademoiselle, you are a walking contradiction and I find that rather fascinating.
Danielle: Me?
Prince Henry: Yes, you. You spout the ideals of a Utopian society, yet you live the life of a courtier.
Danielle: You own all the land there is, yet you take no pride in working it. Is that not also a contradiction?
Prince Henry: First I’m arrogant, and now I have no pride. However do I manage that?
Danielle: You have everything and still the world holds no joy. Yet you make fun of those who would see it for its possibilities.
Prince Henry: How do you do it?
Danielle: What?
Prince Henry: Live each day with this kind of passion? Don’t you find it exhausting?
Danielle: Only when I’m around you. Why do you like to irritate me so?
Prince Henry: Why do you rise to the occasion?

He sees the Passion in her and wants that.  He sees dynamic life in her, where his is static.  He seeks her out again the next day and takes her to the Franciscan library.  This is where the first quote I gave occurred.  By this point, his consternation has faded and awe has replaced it.  It is no long her foreignness where he focuses, but his lack of Passion and conviction.  This side was obvious to the audience in the previous encounters, but he noticed the Passion in her more than the lack in himself.  As he becomes familiar and comfortable in hers, it no longer eclipses the lack in him, and he desires what she has, where previously he desired the presence of hers.  Passion is contagious.  He is catching it, and it is beginning to light a fire in him.

The next morning, he storms into his parents’ bedroom, the fire of Passion now fully upon him:

King Francis: Off… with his head.
Queen Marie: Francis, wake up. Our son has something to tell us.
Prince Henry: Mother, Father. I want to build a university with the largest library in Europe, where people of any station can study.
King Francis: All right, who are you and what have you done with our son?
Prince Henry: Oh. And I want to invite the Gypsies to the ball.

Henry has now found a purpose, as he tells Danielle when he meets her at the ruins later that day:

Prince Henry: Hello.
Danielle: Hello.
Prince Henry: Are you well?
Danielle: I fear that I am not myself today.
Prince Henry: I feel as if my skin is the only thing keeping me from going everywhere at once. There is something I must tell you.
Danielle: And I you.
Prince Henry: Oh, here. Your book, you left it in the carriage yesterday. Danielle: Your Highness…
Prince Henry: Henry.
Danielle: I cannot stay long, but I had to see you. There is much to say.
Prince Henry: Come. I want to show you something. I used to play here as a boy. It was my father’s most cherished retreat before the war.
Danielle: It’s beautiful.
Prince Henry: I’ve measured my life by these trees starting here all the way up there. And still they grow. So much life to live but I no longer imagine it alone.
Danielle: You’re not making this easy.
Prince Henry: I have not slept for fear I would wake to find all this a dream. Oh, last night, I had a revelation. I used to think, if I cared at all, I would have to care about everything and I’d go stark raving mad. But now I’ve found my purpose. It’s a project actually inspired by you. I feel the most wonderful freedom. It wasn’t me. Nicole. You are unlike any courtier I have ever met. Tomorrow, at the masque I shall make it known to the world.
Danielle: Why did you have to be so wonderful?
Prince Henry: Now, then. What was it you wanted to tell me?
Danielle: Simply that last night was the happiest night of my life. Ow! I must go.
Prince Henry: Nicole! No.

This whole transformation reminds me of the song Standing Outside the Fire by Garth Brooks, which I’ve quotes before on earlier posts:

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always comes with getting burned

But you’ve got to be tough when consumed by desire
‘Cause it’s not enough just to stand outside the fire

We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

They’re so hell-bent on giving, walking a wire
Convinced it’s not living if you stand outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

There’s this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly higher and higher
I can’t abide
Standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire 

Without that Passion Danielle had that Henry caught, we truly are merely surviving.  Without it Fate overcomes us, directs us, controls us.  We go through life on auto pilot, taking the default choice, having no control of our life, and often not even realizing it.  But Passion changes that.  It gives us purpose.  It releases our True Will, our Destiny.  It allows us to step out of the ordinary, out of Fate and her bonds, into the extraordinary, into Destiny and her freedom.  It allows us to burn hot like starfire, not die out like a dying coal.  As Neil Yong sang, later quoted in Highlander, and in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”  As Meatloaf sings in Jim Steinman’s Everything Loader than Everything Else:

I know that I will never be politically correct
And I don’t give a damn about my lack of etiquette
As far as I’m concerned, the world could still be flat
And if the thrill is gone, then it’s time to take it back
If the thrill is gone, then it’s time to take it back

Passion is that thrill in life, the spark, the fire.  We were made to burn hot like the stars we come from, not smolder and smoke and go out.  T. Thorn Coyle says in Evolutionary Witchcraft that Victor Anderson talked about four types of fire.  These were: coal, flame, arc, and star.  Think about these a moment.

A coal, and ember, holds heat for a long time, if other heat is present.  It doesn’t burn like the others, but it cooks evenly and can be used to light other fires.  It is the fire that is used to forge iron.  This is the level most people’s Passion burns at, the Aleph 1 of Passion, Infinite Passion if we only knew it.

Next we find the flame.  When fuel is added to a coal, you get flame.  Flame burns hotter, but less even than a coal.  It creates some change, turning the fuel (assuming a wood fuel) into more coals.  This is where Henry was after contact with Danielle.  She began to light something in him, fanning coal to flame.  This is the Aleph 2 of Passion, infinity raised to the power of infinity.  These are the people we find who are driven, who we can taste the Passion in, but who haven’t fully stepped into Destiny, and those who have burned at arc or star fire and are now walking in Destiny, but have calmed from the initial high to a more sustainable point.

Arc fire is short lived but instantly changes.  It is more powerful than a flame, but then is gone.  It is lightning from heaven.  It is an arc welder instantly joining two pieces of metal.  This is the Aleph 3 of Passion, infinity raised to infinity to infinity.  This is a sip from Odin’s Mead of Poetry, a sip from Ceridwen’s Cauldron of Inspiration.  It changes you in an instant.  It is Epiphany or Revelation.  It is the Tongues of Fire of Pentecost, it is Buddhist Enlightenment.  You will never be the same.  But it isn’t the greatest Passion, the greatest fire.

Star Fire is the fire of the gods, ecstasy, frenzy, berserk.  This is the Feast of Dionysus, the Berserking of Odin, the panic of Pan.  Wild uncontrolled Passion.  Fire so hot is consumes us.  This is Aleph 4 of Passion, infinity to the infinity to the infinity to the infinity.  This is Passion at its most extreme, at its hottest.

Coal fire is heated to flame fire.  Flame fire is heated to arc fire.  Arc fire is heated to star fire.  Star fire recharges arc fire.  Arc fire recharges flame fire.  Flame fire recharges coal fire.  Star fire is the mountain top.  It is important, it is needed, but we can’t live there.  As the Meat Puppets sing:

Coming down from the mountain
I have seen the high and mighty
I will go again someday
But for now I’m coming down
Coming down from the mountain
I have seen the lofty glory
I will go again someday
But for now I’m coming down

Looking back at Ever After, we see that Danielle is Henry’s Muse.  She is the inspiration that leads him to his life work, to the building of a library where anyone can go and study.  Her Passion, which fanned his coals to flame, is arc fire, changing him forever.

In Classic Greek myth and belief, there are nine Muses, the Mousai.  These are daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, of the Divine and Memory.  For it is when Muninn, Memory, the past, connects with the Divine that inspiration comes.  Inspiration builds on the past, but transforms it in the Star Forge of the Divine.  The Muses are Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyrical poetry), Thalia (comedy and pastorial poetry), Melpomene (Tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), and Urania (astronomy).  They’re leader was Apollo.  They are goddesses of knowledge, and remember all things that have passed before, a legacy from their mother.  They can be seen as chroniclers or historians of all time.  They are the past, pointing to the future.  They are the Threads of Fate.  They are also goddesses of wells, the deep flowing water below the earth that we can drink from.  This water is Odin’s Mead of Poetry, and the content of Ceridwen’s Cauldron of Inspiration.  It is the Well of Mimir, the Rolling Cauldron, and the Well of Urd.  It is significant the Brigid is both a goddess of wells and a goddess of fire.  The Muses pull forth Memory and use it as fuel to light the fire of Passion.

It is only through Passion that Change can come, the true power of witchcraft.  It is only through Passion that we can overcome Fate and find the true Graal.  It is only through Passion that we can learn to bind and loose the Threads of Fate.  It is only through Passion that we kind find our Destiny and True Will.  It is only through Passion that we can change the world.  Passion is the Catalyst, the Changer of Fate, and it is the Nexus, the Bringer of Destiny.

The movie Ever After ends with a line that sums this all up nicely.  “My great-great-grandmother’s portrait hung in the university up until the Revolution. By then, the truth of their romance had been reduced to a simple fairy tale. And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.”

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in muninnskiss


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Of Blooms, Moons, Solstices, and Seasons

I’ve been composing this post for a fortnight, but keep getting distracted and not getting it down in writing.  As such, it keeps growing and growing, being stirred in all three Cauldrons.  It was intended to be an account of my observations around the middle of the moon following the Willow Moon, around the last full moon.  But time slithers on, twisting and turning in the coils of Fate, and Change comes as it always does here in the Cauldron.  The full moon came and went, as did the new moon and the Solstice, and though I acknowledged their passing, nothing was put down in words except a poem for the Solstice that I have yet to share.

Change.  That is the central experience of life in this world.  And of course it must be.  For the Cauldron is Her Womb, and a Womb has no purpose without change.  A Womb is always in flux, at least until menopause, the lining growing thicker and thicker, then being shed off in blood, only to grow thicker again.  The Egg passing into the Womb in hopes of finding the Seed, then shed out with the lining, only to be replaced by the next Egg.  Or it will find the Seed, but still there is no stillness, no changelessness.  Instead of shedding, the lining stays, changes, protects.  But the biggest change is the Egg, which is no longer an Egg but has changed, the Seed which is no longer the Seed but has changed, a new SEED, not like the Seed of a man no longer, but the SEED of a plant, a Tree, a SEED from which comes life, from which new life springs.  And Hers is no different.  A Womb of Darkness, a Womb of Night, an Egg, a Seed, a SEED, not from another but from Herself.  The Yod floating in the Darkness of Space, a Darkness that can be felt.  A SEED that is the SEED of the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the World Tree, the Centre of the World.  And that SEED has two nuclei, Twins, two Bright Spirits, the Divine Twins.  Herself is the Stillness outside the Cauldron, though the Cauldron is her.  “Be Still.”  But the Twins are the movement, the dynamic, Change, pure Change.  They are the SEED and the fruit of the SEED.  They are the fruit of Her Womb.  They are Her Egg and Her Seed.  The SEED.  Change.  And the SEED sprouts, the Tree of the World.  Three Cowled figures, Three Mothers, Three Fathers, Time and Fate curling and moving, constant movemement, movement that moves time on, moves the Sun and Moon and Stars, moves the Years and Seasons and Months and Days and Hours and Minutes and Seconds ad infinium.  Constant Change, but Constant, set, predictable at least to a point.  Motion out of Stillness.  Change.  And Seven Builders, the Pillars.  Stable, set, but stellar, changing, moving.  Stillness out of Motion.  Change.  Here in the Cauldron, everything Changes, nothing stays the same, nothing is Still.

Change.  Many have heard of the Taoist I Ching, Yijing, the Book of Change.  Yi, Change, is two characters combined, as are many Chinese characters.  易  The upper character is 日 meaning Sun or Day or Japan (where the sun rises, and hence Dawn).  The lower character is no longer is use, so the meaning is obscure.  Some believe it meant Moon and implied an offering the the Moon.  Others that it meant dark or night, hence an offering given in the dark.  Yi also means Give, and implies an offering to the Sun, or an offering given during the light.  Regardless, Yi, Change, is either the Sun and Moon (constantly moving, constant Change), or Day and Night, Dawn and Dusk, also change, transition, liminality.

For the purposes here, Sun and Moon and Light and Dark are interesting meanings, as the New Moon, the Dark of the Moon, landed almost on the Summer Solstice, the Longest Day, close enough to connect the Darkness of the Dark of the Moon with the Light of the Longest Day.  Sun at its most active strength, its most Yang, Moon at its most passive, most Yin.  The middle high point of the Solar Year lining up with the end/beginning low point of the Lunar Month.  A very liminal time.  A time of Change, a time of Yi.  This is a time of Change, but, then, all times are.

I watched as the catkins formed on the aspens, declaring the moon following the Equinox and Passover as the Aspen Moon.  As the catkins fell and leaves replaced them, I watched the pussies form on the willows, declaring the next moon, the moon containing Beltaine, as the Willow Moon.  But what of the next moon, the moon ending right in from of the Summer Solstice?  Despite my argument that Spring starts on Candlemas and ends on Roodmas/Beltaine, Spring seldom comes to these elevations as early as February.  Often, it doesn’t come until after Beltaine and doesn’t end until July.  The seasons follow changes in the world around us, not set static divisions of the year.

The Aspen and Willow Moons aren’t defined by when they happen, but by what is occurring.  Spring here starts when the first aspen catkins start to bud, not on a certain date.  And natural cycles like the budding of catkins and pussies tend to follow fairly closely on lunar cycles.  Whenever it occurs, the Aspen Moon lasts from new moon to new moon and is marked by the aspen catkins, and the first plants starting to sprout up leaves.  By the Willow Moon, the pussywillows are very evident, and many plants have put on at least some leaves, the land is half awake, half asleep.

Following the Willow Moon is the third and last moon of Spring.  By the end, of that third moon, everything is awake. In this third moon, there is so many things awakening, so many things changing, that naming it proved much harder than the previous two.

My first experience of it was the Russian hawthorn we planted in our yard.  When we first planted it, near the beginning of the moon, there were a few buds, but very soon after, it was blooming like crazy.  At the height of the blooming, it was more white than green, gorgeous, and with a flagrance that could be detected thirty feet away.  Which is notable since the tree is less than six feet tall and maybe two and a half across, not a big tree at all.  My first thought was to call it the Hawthorn Moon.  Which would have been a good name in Europe where Hawthorns are native and much more common, but they aren’t native, and are very rare here, so I needed a name reflecting the Landscape I live in, not that of transplants (not just including non-native plants, but also humans).

I made several trips up into the mountains to observe the changes since the Willow Moon, observing all that changed.  I visited the Laramie Range up above Happy Jack, then up near Lake Owen in the Southeastern Snowy Range, then up above Centennial and up to the foot of Medicine Bow Peak in the Northern section of the Snowys.  Everywhere I went and everywhere I looked, there was change and new life, plants flourishing in the moisture of Spring.  In addition to general observation, I was looking for a specific plant to name the moon for, like aspen and willow.  I landed on wild chive, as I found them green and and in bloom everywhere I went.  Chive Moon sounded good, and was descriptive, but the more I thought about it, the more I released too much had changed to focus on one small plant.  It was an important indicator of the moon, but by itself didn’t define it the way the aspen and willow had.

I began thinking about not just the blooming chives, but the wild orchids, the buttercups that were still blooming after starting in the Aspen Moon, the blooming clover, and all the other flowers.  Flowers were glowing everywhere in the mountains, and even out on the High Plains in the valley, the lupine was glowing like purple fire.   Flowers everywhere.  And the Aspen Moon wasn’t marked by the leaves, but by the catkins, the bloom of the aspens, and the Willow Moon wasn’t marked by the leaves, which actually forming under the Aspen Moon, but by the pussywillows, their flower.  Spring is a time of new leaves, but also of blooms, and that blooming reaches its peak during the third moon, ebbing off after that moon ends.  So I decided, the best name for the third moon is the Flower Moon.  And a fitting name it is.

The Flower Moon was beautiful time in this area, but time marches on, cycles change, moon phases pass.  The Flower Moon ended on June 19th, the day before the official Summer Solstice.  As with the Winter Solstice, though, the length doesn’t change much between the day of the Summer Solstice and the day before and day after.  The Solstice is effectively three days, not one, placing the new moon and the end of the Flower Moon on the first day of the Solstice.  So Spring this year began right around Passover and ended right at the Summer Solstice.

We’ve now moved into Summer, and with it, the cool weather and the moisture is gone.  The river peaked around the full moon at the midpoint of the Flower Moon and has been dropping ever since.  It looks like late August levels, and it isn’t even July yet.  We’ve had little rain in the last few weeks, though some yesterday.  The temperature has risen.  And there are major fires in Colorado in the beetle killed lodgepole pine.  There’s one fire in Wyoming, but not near here, but it’s prime conditions for huge fires across the Western United States and Canada in general, and in this area in particular.  The three moons of Spring are characterized by earth and water, but we’ve moved into Summer, into air and fire.  Wind and Sun.  But physical fire pushed by wind as well.  We’ll see what the rest of the moon holds.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in muninnskiss


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