Friday 11 August 2017

Timothy Sprigge - Lord's Prayer

"O mysterious but glorious universe of matter and of spirit, of which each of us is but a tiny fragment
May the goodness, which we trust is somehow at the heart of things, increasingly prevail over evil on our little earth.
May we learn to organize our life on earth so that the necessities and worth-while pleasures of human existence are more equally shared, and be ready to make what sacrifices this requires from us.
And may we be tolerant of others and love them, when we can, as we hope to be tolerated and sometimes loved ourselves.
So let us seek our own happiness in ways which help rather than hinder others in seeking theirs, and be the happier ourselves for this,
but let us not repine too much at our own inadequacies but make the best of ourselves as we are, neither envying nor despising others.
And let the human species flourish without excessive exploitation of other species, and in a world in which we can still be refreshed by communion with the non-human.
And let us not fret too much about time realizing that everything is eternally there in its own particular place in the eternal consciousness of the universe."

by Timothy Sprigge - 8 October 1997

Monday 24 August 2015

More small beauties

21 May 2015 
The birds are singing, the sky is blue with fluffy white clouds. Creamy frothy blossom on a rowan tree. Dark blue spikes of bugle flowers. A splash of red campion. Everything is bright and fresh.

9 June 2015
A wild rose in flower and arching its shiny dark green leaves and delicate pink and white flowers against the blue sky. A mock orange (syringa) giving its sweet scent to the breeze. Rowan berries already starting to form, a herald of autumn. Ox-eye daisies starring the verge, with a few splashes of red poppies. Silvery poplar trees like a Corot painting.

11 June 2015
Wild roses trailing. Poplar trees flickering green and silver in the wind. Four Canada geese and eight goslings on the river. Ox-eye daisies everywhere. Hot sun beating down.

 23 June 2015
 The heady scents of mock orange blossom, honeysuckle, and roses. The sheer abundance of their flowers. The trees: oak, chestnut, poplar, willow, ash.

12 August 2015
 Loads of hollyhocks - red, pink, single and double flowers. Apples ripening on the bough. Crab apples too, clustered thickly on the branch.

 21 August 2015
 A tiny pink paper parasol stuck into the parapet of Donnington Bridge. The circular swirly ripples made in the water by the oars of a passing rowing boat. A Hawthorn tree laden with red berries.

 24 August 2015
 Dreich this morning - but the river still has a silvery charm. And there are plenty of hawthorn berries for the birds.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Small beauties

Small beauties

23 March 2015

Morrissey and Ziggy snuggled on the bed this morning, washing each other. The flowers coming up in my garden (daffodils, crocuses, anemones, grape hyacinths). Warmer weather and sunshine. Blue flowers (chionodoxa or squill) growing under a hedge. Blackthorn blossom. Two robins on a gate. The birds singing. More light. Spring!

26 March 2015

 A corkscrew hazel tree, all twisty and curly wurly. A truly psychedelic umbrella in the bus queue in front of me, brightening the day. The cherry blossom and quince flowers.

27 March 2015

Magnolia buds, all furry and with the petals like white flounces. The flowers waiting for the warmth of the sun before they open - the daisies (day's eyes) furled shut with their red tips showing. The clatter and scatter of trills of the birds' songs. A tree stump shaped like a dragon with a cheesy grin. Purple aubretia poking through a hedge.

28 March 2015

A tree with white blossom juxtaposed against a tree with pink blossom. The humble groundsel and goosegrass in the hedgerow. Red dogwood stalks with green leaves budding on them. The buds of kerria japonica (bachelor's buttons) just opening on its bare branches.  More flowers opening in the garden.

21 April 2015

Spring flowers blooming: jack by the hedge, white dead nettle, bluebells, green alkanet. A huge patch of primroses by the A34. In the garden, my apple tree is blooming, the raspberry ripple tulips are fully out, and the dark red tulips are opening. 

1 May 2015

A robin and a song thrush hopping about. A goose flying overhead, honking. Apple blossom everywhere. A woodpecker laughing. The birds singing to welcome May morning. The sun shining, and long wispy clouds floating high in the blue.

13 May 2015

A mackerel sky. Tiny scales of fluffy cloud high up in the blue. The hawthorn blossom in the hedgerows. A tunnel of green on the cycle path. One solitary poppy blooming on the grass verge. Poplar trees reflected in the river, silver-green in the blue depths.

Tuesday 23 September 2014


Recently I have started doing archery, which for me is deeply redolent of Robin Hood, Artemis, Shen-I the Excellent Archer, and other mythological figures. When I am doing it, I am totally in the moment, totally focussed on hitting the target, and how my body fits with the bow (though probably insufficiently focussed on the latter). I am not thinking of anything else. For me, archery is embodied spirituality in action.

Spirit of the Woods,
I hear you breathing.
You are in me,
in the wood of the bow,
the taut bowstring,
the flight of the arrow.
I am in the moment,
focussed on the arrow's point.
I am in you, the endless woodland,
where the Hunter and the hunted are one.
May the skill of my arm increase.
May my body move in harmony.
May I be true as my aim is true.
So mote it be.

Monday 22 September 2014

The Rose

(this article was originally published in Pagan Dawn)

Rosa acicularis 8448.JPG
The rose is the flower of Venus and the symbol of love in all its delicious variety.  It is symbolically linked to Adonis, Aphrodite, Dionysus and Eros.  Greek lovers gave roses as a courting gift to their eromenoi.  “So must you beautiful boys arm yourselves with roses,” wrote Philostratus in the second century CE. 

According to mythology, Aphrodite trod on the thorns of a white rose-bush when she rushed to succour her mortally-wounded lover Adonis.  Her blood stained the petals red, and this is how the red rose came to be.  The red rose is sacred to Venus and Aphrodite, who rule over love, life, creation, fertility, creation, beauty and virginity.  The open rose is a symbol of the feminine, while the rosebud is a symbol of the masculine, and suggests same-sex love, especially in the Middle East.  In a sixteenth century text by Mehemmed Ghazali (d. 1535), the relaxed anus is compared to the “laughter of a thousand roses”, and the closed anus to a “silent rosebud”.  In nineteenth-century French bohemian circles, men-loving men were dubbed “les Chevaliers de la Rosette” (the knights of the little rose – the little rose signified the anus).  The rose also symbolises the short intense life of a beautiful being who does not bear fruit – the eternal ephebe.

In alchemy, the rose symbolised the Divine Androgyne, and both Rosicrucian and Sufi writings make extensive use of rose imagery.  In the Rubai'yat of Omar Khayyam (a Sufi poem), the rose represents the ephemeral nature of life:

Look to the Rose that blows about us---"Lo,
"Laughing," she says, "into the World I blow:
"At once the silken Tassel of my Purse
"Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw."

Similarly, in an Irish ballad, the rose symbolises regret at the passing of youth:

'Tis the last rose of summer left blooming alone
All her lovely companions are faded and gone.

In Rosicrucianism, the rose-cross contains the mystic rose as the wheel and the divine light of the universe, and the cross as the temporal world of pain and sacrifice.  W B Yeats evokes these themes in his poem, To the Secret Rose:

Surely thine hour has come, thy great wind blows,
Far off, most secret, and inviolate Rose?
The Compass Rose or the Rose of the Winds represents the cardinal directions and the winds, and is used as a symbol of the circle in the Cochrane Tradition.

The rose is also a symbol of secrecy – the term 'sub rosa' denotes this, and a carving of a rose is hung in council chambers as a reminder to be discreet.  In Alchemy, it was also a symbol of wisdom, and the rebirth of the spiritual after the death of the temporal.  In Egypt, the rose symbolised pure love freed from carnal desire, and as such, was an emblem of Isis and Osiris (Aset and Ousir).  In Hebrew symbolism, the centre of the rose is the sun, and its petals are the infinite variety of life.  The Adept's Rose has 22 petals (one for each Hebrew letter and path of the Tree of Life); the inner ring of three petals denotes Air, Fire and Water; the middle ring represents the seven planets; and the outer ring represents the twelve signs of the zodiac.

According to Persian legend, essential oil of rose was discovered at the wedding-feast of the Princess Nour-Djihan and the Emperor Djihanguyr.  A canal was dug, and the surface of the water was covered with rose-petals.  The heat of the sun caused the oil to separate from the petals and float on the surface of the water, and the production of rose-oil began soon afterwards.  Essential oil of rose (extracted from Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia) can be used to purge the vascular and digestive systems and soothe the nerves.  It regulates menstruation and is good for genito-urinary infections and as an antiseptic.  It is also an aphrodisiac.  Rose water reduces inflammation and can be used as an eye bath for conjunctivitis, or in a poultice applied to the temples to relieve a headache.  Rosehip syrup is an excellent source of vitamin C.  Red rose petals can be used for dyeing cloth, and any colour can be used to make rose-petal wine.  Rosaries were originally made of dried rosebuds, and the beads are still carved in the shape of rosebuds.

In magic, the thorns of the rose are used for protection.  Rose petals and hips are used in healing magic, and to relieve stress.  Drinking rosebud tea before going to bed is said to induce prophetic dreams.  Planting roses in the garden is said to attract faeries, and rose-bushes are said to grow best when they are stolen from another garden.

Yvonne Aburrow


Aburrow, Yvonne (1993), The Enchanted Forest: the magical lore of trees.  Chieveley: Capall Bann Publishing.

Conner, Randy P., David Sparks, and Mariya Sparks (1997), Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Lore. London and New York: Cassell.

 Fitzgerald, Edward (trans.) The Rubai'yat of Omar Khayyam 

Yeats, William Butler, The Secret Rose.

Friday 18 July 2014

A prayer for the environment

There have been a lot of messages lately about the nature deities and spirits and the environment, including a dream that I had. Recently, three people posted a thought for the day in the Centre for Pagan Studies Facebook group about Pan. And I also had a message in ritual from the god Frey, who cares for green things.

So this is my prayer:

Lords of Animals, Ladies of the Flowers,
Gods of green growing things and goddesses of wild animals
Teach us to tread lightly on the Earth,
And walk in harmony with Nature.
The earth, the fire, the water, and the air:
All are sacred,
And the fifth sacred thing is spirit.
Once we were wild,
and instinctively knew
how to walk in a sacred manner.
Now there is so much destruction,
that some are already in mourning,
believing that there is no hope.
I still hope, but I also fear.
May our hearts be open to your promptings,
May our hands be ready for your work
May our minds be in the service of healing
So mote it be.

Thursday 12 June 2014


Consider the power in your hair
Whether dark or ginger or fair
Or short or long, up or down,
Or springy or curly or straight
Or red or blue or green or brown,
You can use it to weave men's fate:
Unbinding your braids can open the gate
Of birth, and unleash the power of your sex.
They say that the wildness of hair
Can cause destruction and death
Oh the mysterious powers of hair!
Delilah knew all too well
The powers of hair to weave a spell:
It crackles with magical power
Like fire from Rapunzel's tower.
Hair like the wings of night
Can cause a terrible fright
As it shines in the pale moon's light
Unleashing bats and owls
As we dance with cackles and yowls
About the full moon fire.