RSS

Tag Archives: prayer

Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis: Some Thoughts on Misruletide

’Tis the season. But what season? This is an interesting time of year.

Winter.

A time of rest.

The land stands fallow and sleeping.

The days shorten, the nights lengthen.

The shadows stretch, the darkness grows.

What season?

There is a time, a time outside of time. A season? Certainly. Better, a time, a tide.

A time outside of time. The Time of Misrule. The Tide of Misrule. Misruletide.

I’m not talking just about the Christmastime, Christmastide, celebration by this name, but the portion of time starting at All Saint’s or All Hallow’s and extending to Candlemas. I’m talking of a year ending at Hallowtide and starting at Candletide. The year has ended. The year has not yet began.

It is a time of rest. Certainly. A rest for whom? The land, well, yes, but who else? If it is the Time of Misrule, the Season of Misrule, the Tide of Misrule, we should start with what Misrule is, both in the festival use of the word and how we mean it here.

I won’t go much into the festivities or history, but the tradition of Feast of Fools and similar celebrations on Christmas and around that part of the year, was a celebration where everything was turned on its head, socially. It was a time or revelry and irreverence, a time of no rules, or, namely, misrule. Depending on where and when, it was sometimes a large scale celebration and sometimes a private affair. Regardless, the “ruler” over the festivities was among the peasantry or the lower clergy, taking the role of king or abbot. In Britain, the Lord of Misrule. One aspect of this, anything trying to hurt or cause problems for those higher in society would be mislead into going after those low in society as well. I can’t rule out that this aspect was not a part of things as well.

This is the sense I am using for this part of the year, from its end at Hallowmas to its beginning at Candlemas. The Time of Misrule, the time when the normal order of things is tipped on its head.

It is during this time of year, at various points, in various forms, that we see lore of the Wild Hunt and traditions and folktales that have descended from the Hunt. In its many forms, the faeries or the dead or witches or other beings ride abroad. They are lead by various figures, Öðinn, Frigg, Frey, Freyja, Holda, Frau Holle, Berchta, Diana, Gwydion, King Arthur, Nuada, Herne, the Devil, Sir Francis Drake, Manannán, Arawn, Nicnevin, Ankow, and many others. The Wild Hunt is said to occur, depending on the lore, on All Hallow’s Eve, on Midwinter’s Eve, on Christmas Eve, or on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), or simple during the winter months, during the Misruletide we are discussing.

The variations veil and hide things, for it is the nature of lore to shift, but under it all, we see a Hunt lead by a figure, or two figures, and a host of the Dead or of spirits. It is interesting to note that the lore of All Hallow’s Eve is of a time when the Dead or spirits roam in the world of the living. This is not the “normal” state of things, it doesn’t follow the normal rule. And many of the figures seen leading the Hunt are either dead folk heroes or gods or goddesses of death.

If we consider the parallel of a time when the Dead walk lead by a lord or lady of death with the Feast of Fools led by the Lord of Misrule, the idea becomes apparent.

Consider for the moment an image.

See a woman dressed in black robes with a red veil hiding her face. She stands in a stone chamber deep beneath the ground, a round chamber with stone benches carved in the sides. There are two thresholds in the room, an empty doorway with no door to her right, and a pair of massive doors to her left. A figure stands before the black doors, watching her, still as death, silent as the grave. In front of her is a black altar, a cube of unworked black stone, the colour of deepest night, deepest shadow. A body rests on this altar, or a Thread, there is less difference than there seems. The body is familiar. In one shrivaled hand, she holds a rod or wand, wood, made of a blackthorn root. In the other, she holds a knife.

When the time becomes full, when the tide is complete, the knife drops, the Thread is cut, the blood flows from the body, blood black in the shadows, covering the black altar. This time has ended, the Thread cut, the Cutter’s knife has fallen.

The woman raises the rod and points at the doors, and the figure before it moves. The figure it tall and thin, covered in black tattered robes. His face is hidden in the shadowed cowl. Folded at his back is a pair of skeletal wings with shadow stretched between the bones. His hands, sticking from the arms of the robes, are nothing but bone. In one hand, he holds a book, chained to his wrist. His other hand is em

When the woman raises the rod, the winged figure wipes a line from his book with one skeletal finger. The ink flows like smoke off the page and a figure rises from the body and joins it, the two becoming one, a spectral image of the body still on the altar. The figure reaches and opens the doors wide. Beyond, it is both as dark as the night and bright beyond imagination. A wind fills the cavern, and the body crumbles to dust and blows away.

The figure beacons, silent, and the spectre walks through the Gates of Life and Death, which are closed fast behind them.

It is finished.

This is the normal rule, the Quick die, becomes the Dead, cross through the Gates, and rest until the time comes for them to return, becoming Quick again. But this is the time of Misrule, the Dead don’t always stay dead, sometimes the Wild Hunt rides.

But who sides at the front of the Hunt? Who leads the Dead? Death. Like Hel leading the people of her domain in Ragnorak, like the Queen of Faerie leading the people of her domain forth, like Odin or Freyja leading the Dead they have gathered forth, Like King Arthur leading the knights that died, Death rides forth at the front of the Host.

But, if Death leads the Hunt, who guards the Gates? Ah. The Time of Misrule. The Quick caught up in the Host become Dead, and the Dead beyond the Gates can walk. This is Misruletide. Among other things.

Now, when the Keeper of the Lost sits as Regent, and the Quick and the Dead can switch station, now is when things aren’t always what they seem.

So, what do we have at Hallowtide? Not just All Hallow’s Eve. It is the Eve of All Hallows, of course, All Hallow’s Day, All Saint’s Day, which is followed by All Soul’s Day. Three days focussed on the Dead, in different ways. But let’s look specifically at All Soul’s Day.

This is of course best known in the part of the world I live in as the Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, when masks are worn and feasts and presents are prepared for the Dead, often at grave sites, is a similar fashion to the tradition practiced by many of my Craft brothers and sisters in a Dumb Supper on All Hallow’s Eve. The giving of food to the Dead is present in many cultures throughout the world and throughout time, though not always this time of year. It is common this time of year, however.

In Catholic practice, All Soul’s Day is a day of commemoration for the “faithful departed”. This is a somewhat enigmatic phrase to many. It’s taken to mean those who have died and are in Purgatory. The phrase is, “fidelium animae”, fidelium, fidelis, fides, faith/belief/trust/confidence, so faithful, believing, or trustable, animae, anima, soul/spirit/life/air/breeze/breath, so spirit of the dead in this context. Those that believe but haven’t obtained heaven, basically.

Misruletide begins with a focus on the dead, and another use of the phase “fidelium animae” gives some interesting things to consider. A prayer has been commonly prayed for the “faithful departed” is as follows:

English:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Latin:

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

The last phrase, many of us are familiar with, at least in English, “rest in peace”. This has become the most common expression for those who have died, though if you read lore of the dead from many times past, this directive implies a desire for the Dead not to be unrestful, not to rise. The Dead don’t always rest peacefully, that the Gates aren’t always sealed, as we’ve been discussing.

Consider this phrase in Latin for a moment, “requiescant in pace”. “Pace” is “pax”, meaning peace or harmony. The sense is not in terms of no war, like we often see in in English, it’s the sense of being silent, not being dissident, not conflicting. “Pax!” was also used like we would use, “Be silent!”, or “Hush!”. “Requiescant” is “requiesco”, to rest or repose or sleep. Rest in peace, sleep peacefully and don’t cause me trouble. If you pardon my humour.

But “requiesco” is “re-“ and “quiesco”. “Re-“ means back, backwards, or again. Basically, to go back to a previous state. “Quiesco” means to rest, cease, sleep, repose, abstain, cease, stop, and similar ideas. It is from “quies” and “-sco”. “-sco” changes a verb to have a meaning of starting to or beginning to. “Quies” means to rest, repose, quiet, and figuratively, to dream. So, getting to the root, we have the same meaning as we started with, but the combination implies a bit more specific sense than we saw with the original meaning. “Quiesco” would be, to begin or start to rest, repose, or be quiet. “Requisco” would be, to return to a state of beginning or starting to rest, repose, or be quiet. But beginning to rest or repose would be to go to sleep, basically, and to begin to be quiet would be to stop making noise. So, returning to these would be to go back to sleep, or to become quiet again. A returning to a previous state of sleep or quietness.

This brings to mind discussions of Charon the ferryman being silent, and of the Dead being silent until Odysseus provides blood, and other stories relating to the silent dead being given speak though blood or other methods. Bran the Blessed’s cauldron returned the Dead to life, but they were silent, unable to speak. This is common in much of the lore, the Dead cannot speak, they are silent, unless voice is brought by some means. To be Dead is to be Silent. “Requiesco” implies a return to a state of sleep and silence, a return to death.

In modern Catholic context, the prayer implies those in Purgatory moving on quickly to Heaven, but the wording has other repercussions, and begs the question, as this prayer was introduced by St. Benedict in the sixth century and is believed to be older still, was the meaning always what it is now seen as? The formalized beliefs concerning Purgatory were much later, though the concept existed in deferent forms back before Benedict. It seems possible, though, that the implications of the prayer as that to keep the Dead at rest is not impossible.

“Requiem aeternam” is of note. “Requiem” is of course from requies, also, a “place of rest”. “Aeternam”, “arternus”, is translated as permanent, lasting, eternal, endless, immortal. Hence, eternal rest, or an eternal resting place. The second word comes from “-rnus”, making it an adjective, and “aetus”, meaning lifetime or age. The root meaning is more about a resting place that will last a lifetime than the modern sense of eternity.

So, my tongue and cheek transition:

A place to sleep until we all die, O Lord please give them, and let the uninterrupted light shine on them, and those of the Dead who are trustworthy, by the mercy of God, keep quiet and not bother us. Amen.

Misruletide is a time when the Dead can walk among the Quick, and when much of the feasts, fasts, celebrations, measures, folk traditions, and rituals are concerned with keeping them from doing so, or misdirecting them so they don’t succeed in whatever they seek to do.

And, I say:

Hail, oh Builder of Storms, Keeper of the Lost, Regent of the North, Ruler of the Time of Misrule, bringer of Change.

Hail, oh Cutter, you whose Knife cuts every Thread when the time comes, the Last Witness, Priestess of the Black Altar.

Hail, oh Guardian of the Gates of Life and Death, Darkling Twin, Shadow of the World, Keeper of the Book in which all is written and all is erased.

May the Time of Misrule bring its secrets and lore and surprises, may the storms bring the life of spring, may the Dead speak when speech is needed, be silent when it is not, ride forth when it is time, and rest in peace when all is accomplished.

Dance, oh Spirits of Misruletide, dance through the long dark nights, and may the lights of the new year find us when Candletide comes again.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2016 in muninnskiss

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oil of Nimue

The Sky at Dawn

This morning, I awoke with the Dawn.  I awoke with a very specific purpose.  Right now, it is the Crescent Moon, a time holy to Nimue.  And the newness of the Dawn seemed an appropriate time to honour her.

Back in November, I bought a mask for Nimue, to represent her presence in my life and in my house.  It’s a ceramic mask designed to hang on the wall, with balloons on the white face.  I looked for masks for a quite a while and settled on this one, because it felt like her, a mixture of power and fun.  I ordered it, and when it arrived, I hung it on the wall.  When I hung it, my dog was outside.  When she came in, she noticed it up there right away.  It really disturbed her for a bit.  She kept looking up at it and wooing, talking in a way only huskies can.  She did get used to it.

I wanted to dedicate the mask to Nimue, to invite her into it and into my home.  I decided to use oil to represent her presence, her lao, coming upon it, by anointing it with oil as I invited her.  To this end, I needed an oil appropriate to her, both to use with the mask and to use in later workings.  With some prayer, some thought, some feeling, some advise from others, and some research, I determined the ingredients I would use and wrote a ritual poem to be part of the dedication and infusing of the oil.

Part of my decisions on what to put in the oil was from talking to other people.  Part came from Catholic symbolism and worship of Saint Dymphna, who is a real good parallel to Nimue for me, similar to the saints associated with the lao in Voudou.  I chose lavender oil, angelica root, and violets.  The recipe I wrote down at the time was:

What I decided on is a base of olive oil (I couldn’t buy a large enough bottle of lavender oil).
3 of my hairs (to tie it to me)
27 drops of lavender oil
3 pinches of angelica root
3 pinches of violets (the herb store actually had some)
Add olive oil.  Charge it.  Pray the prayer to Nimue I wrote three times to invite her into it.

Life got weird at that time, so I wasn’t able to perform the ritual at that time.  A few things changed by the time I did it this morning.  I rose before the dawn and got everything together.  I dressed in a way that would make me feel closest to Nimue.  Mice had got into the bag and eaten the violets I had bought.  That was in November with snow on the ground, so there were no violets outside.  I went a head with it, hoping our violets had bloomed.

Violets in Bloom

Bringing everything outside, I found that sure enough, the violets were in bloom.  It seemed like doing this in spring while they were actually in bloom was more appropriate to Nimue than the heart of winter.  I set everything down and went to work.  The sky was bright and beautiful blue and the sun was just rising, though still behind the mountains.

I began by plucking hairs from my head.  I plucked one, tied a knot in it, and put it in the bottle.  The hair is for the purpose of uniting me and her in the oil.  The knot was to bind me to her and her to me.  I found tying knots in hairs takes a lot of fine motor skills and coordination, something I don’t have.  But after a while of trying, the knots were in each hair and the hairs were in the bottle.

The Lovely, Innocent Violet

Next, I put three pinches of the angelica root in the bottle, then picked three violet blossoms and put them in.  I put three drops of lavender oil in after that.  I hadn’t reread my recipe and three is such a powerful number, I forgot completely about three times three times three for the lavender oil, since a drop is so small.  Three will work just fine.  Robert Cochrane said in his third letter to Joe Wilson when describing calling the Goddess, “Before you do this however, it is necessary to offer your devotions and prayers by bowing three times to the Altar, with arms crossed upon your chest and then turn about the Altar (which for normal purposes should be round, hence King Arthur) the number of the Deity you are invoking or praying to. The Maid is usually three times three – the Mother six times three, the Hag (which is anything but the true title), nine times three. Upon the last turn stop with your back to the Altar, and there begin your great chant. With a group one works in absolute silence, but by yourself it is easier to utter your prayer and meditation aloud until you begin to speak as one possessed’.”  As such, I associate Nimue with three, so used this heavily in this ritual.  The smell of the bottle at this point was very lovely, fresh, strong, and innocent, like Nimue.

Having put the “core” ingredients in the bottle, I said my prayer, my invocation, my ritual poem, my spell the first time, holding my hand over the bottle and focusing and channeling energy into it.

Oh sweet darling,
Girl full of power and might.
The pool of your blessing fills me,
The water pours out upon my head.
Your blessing, your loa, flows like water,
Covering me in your presence.
As I hold my hands over this oil, pour through me,
Fill this oil with your blessing, be present in it.
Oh sweet Nimue, so mote it be.

I then added olive oil, filling the bottle half way up.  I then repeated the poem again.

Oh sweet darling,
Girl full of power and might.
The pool of your blessing fills me,
The water pours out upon my head.
Your blessing, your loa, flows like water,
Covering me in your presence.
As I hold my hands over this oil, pour through me,
Fill this oil with your blessing, be present in it.
Oh sweet Nimue, so mote it be.

Filling the bottle the rest of the way, I aligned my souls and repeated the poem a third time.

Oh sweet darling,
Girl full of power and might.
The pool of your blessing fills me,
The water pours out upon my head.
Your blessing, your loa, flows like water,
Covering me in your presence.
As I hold my hands over this oil, pour through me,
Fill this oil with your blessing, be present in it.
Oh sweet Nimue, so mote it be.

Oil of Nimue

Closing the bottle, I shook it to mix it up, three times.  And it was done.  So mote it be.

From the time I awoke this morning until the time I put the bottle in a safe place to sit and let the scents and essences and her presence blend, Nimue was strong on me.  It wasn’t being ridden like the Voudou lao, nor possession of any type.  It was her sweet presence being close to me, her dwelling with me.  I felt, as I sometimes do, as a young girl, maybe twelve.  There was purity and innocence in my emotions and my actions this morning.

Nimue’s Mask

The next step is the mask.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 6, 2011 in muninnskiss

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,