Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Archangel Michael by Raphael

 Today is Michaelmas and like many of these great days on the church calender they go largely unobserved in the folk sense other than a brief mention in the liturgy.

 A prayer to Michael the Archangel :

Saint Michael the Archangel,

defend us in battle;

be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:

and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,

by the power of God,

thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits

who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.


 It was a feast day to celebrate the Archangels and to thank God for his wonderful bounty.  

 In our ever changing and busy modern world, we no longer seem to take the time to really celebrate these Church feast days. But in the past this was not so. Feasting and making the day a celebration was common place. 

 In medieval England this day marked the end of the husbandmans year, or the agricultural year. This would have been a time of great celebration. Games, races and other events were welcomed. 

The Michaelmas Goose
 Food was obviously a large part of the festivities, being a feast day. Goose was commonly the main course of choice as well as carrots and traditional bread called Sruthan Mhìcheil or St. Michael's Bannok. 

 Children were also discouraged from eating or picking blackberries after this day, as it was believed that Lucifer fell from heaven on this day and that he landed in a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles. Versions of this exist in different parts of the isles and one version in Ireland tell that the Pooka flies about on Michaelmas night and defiles the blackberries. 

 It is my hope that someday these observances begin to find there way back into the folk life of rural communities and I hope someday to observe all the feast days of the church with the same vigor and enthusiasm as my friends in the past. 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Living in the Past?

Ned Ludd, Leader of the Luddites

 Today I was asked, "Why do we have such a hard time living in the present? Why is everything either the nostalgia of the past or the hope of the future?"

 I can't really answer the latter part about the future as my hope of the future is fairly limited to watching my children grow and my grandchildren grow and having a farm and spending my life with my wife etc.

 But the first I have given a lot of thought to. Here are just a few thoughts I have had on the issue.

1. Rapid Change in the 20th century

 Think of how rapidly our society and technology has changed in the last 100+ years. Nothing of the past really exists the mainstream culture of materialism and the fast food, give it to me now mentality. We exist in a world where time is money and individual craft gives way to mass produced garbage.

 Older people long for the nostalgia of their past because they've seen things change entirely to fast.

 2. Virtual Reality 

 We are increasingly becoming a culture of virtual reality. Computers, Smart Phones, TV etc. have become the portal through which we view the world. The natural world is a world that is viewed through the computer screen. Pokemon Go is one of the first steps of integrating the virtual world with the real world. Kids no longer go to the park to smell the fresh air, the woods. To see the birds and other wild life. They would rather spend their time hunting a fictional creature through their iPhone screen than to enjoy the real beauty of God's creation. Games are fine and dandy, but I have a hard time when the game becomes the lens through which we view the world. Instead of grabbing a stick and pretending to be King Arthur rescuing Guinevere from a dragon in an act of heroic chivalry, they'd rather put on a back back and baseball cap and try to "catch them all".

 We are increasingly out of touch with reality in all the wrong ways.

 The reason we are in the throws of a roots and folk revival is because the world of technology and virtual reality leaves us empty and void of purpose. Our communities have been utterly devastated by Television. Community events, sports and gatherings suffer from this.

 3. We no longer have a moral compass.

 The motto of the age is "Don't Offend" and "Be Tolerant". The only absolute truth is that there is NO absolute truth. Do what feels good as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. This is our biggest problem.

 Nothing is sacred. Religion? That's the way of the intolerant past.

 We no longer live in a world where right and wrong are clearly defined.

 So again, why this affinity for the past? Why can't we live in the present?

 Because at present we have lost the ability to think outside the virtual reality. Sure, some avoid this, but as a society we are driven by social media.

 I for one love and mostly identify with the thought and principles of a pre-industrialized world which is the whole reason this blog exists. The fact that I am writing a blog on my computer about living and identifying with a pre-industrial world is the irony of this whole thing. But, no matter how principled I am about it, I am a child of this age. My reliance on this technology is something I hope to scale back in the years to come. But I digress....

 From this Christians perspective, we need to live in this world but we need not be of it. Some may misconstrue this to mean complete separation from this world and all it's trappings. Others think we need to be completely up to date and trendy if we are to influence the culture.

 I suggest a middle road.

 Live your life in the present by being a witness of Christ's love and mercy, no matter your vocation. From the farmer in the field, to the business man in New York City. Wether you have an affinity for the old or an affinity for the new.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven." 
Matthew 5:16


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Dangers of Education

 A story was collected in the 19th century called "The Pooka" by E.W. The story of the Pooka is interesting to be sure, but it is the beginning of this tale that interests me where the story teller decries the "school master" or rather education as having ruined the folk beliefs of old.

 He writes :

"Now that "the schoolmaster is abroad," there can be no question that the warm sun of education will, in the course of a very few years, dissipate those vapours of superstition, whose wild and shadowy forms have from time immemorial thrown a mysterious mantle around our mountain summits, shed a darker horror through our deepest glens, traced some legendary tale on each unchiselled column of stone that rises on our bleakest hills, and peopled the green border of the wizard stream and sainted well with beings of a spiritual world."

 Should we indulge such nonsense? Isn't it good that in this day and age, the age of science and progress that we should leave behind notions of a spiritual world? A world infused with a hidden world? 

 Of course the person of science sees no limitations to his ability to achieve a breakthrough discovery. Nothing to stop him from meddling in things he ought not. After all, the world is just made up of cells and bits of matter. Nothing to worry about. 

 But of course, in contrast, the spiritual world does not offer us this freedom. We see warnings all around us. Don't do this, or this will happen. In a spiritual world, one proceeds with caution not wishing to bring anything bad upon themselves or anyone else. 

 I think of course a major reasons why I enjoy the old tales and the old belief is that it gives me a sense of wonder and curiosity. Not a curiosity that says "I need to know" like the scientist, but a sense that says "I'm content to continue wondering about this". 

 An interesting thing to ponder. A friend of mine recently said: 

 "I think superstition is a beautiful thing for the ignorant, but not necessarily true, and perhaps problematic for the sober-minded." 

 I answered : 

 "Who decides which is ignorant and which is sober-minded."


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog.

 To give you some background on myself, I am a lover of the Christian faith, an anglophile, celtic history and folklore enthusiast, lover of monarchy, literature and the medieval world.

 I hope this blog can serve as a sort of research composite and maybe connect me to some people who share my interests.

 One thing I would like to be able to show through some of my research is why christianity was able to flourish in a unique and very effective way in Ireland and Scotland, especially in connection to their folk beliefs and mythology.

 I hope this will interest someone.