Flat Mountain Dispatches


“In the huge heavens, winds wrestle with the sun; Tawny leaves are ripped from the linden-tree And lush grass in the field leans over, and greys. Whatever rose up earlier now ripens and rots; The year dwindles, all days seem yesterday's. Winter winds on as it will, as it has done of old.”

~ 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. Translated by Keith Harrison (Oxford University Press, 1998)


“Winter storms cannot frighten me nor the icy north wind, whose cruel blasts rage and lash the flocks of sheep with unexpected hail. The south wind may disturb the streams with squalls of rain, but that will not stop me from entering the green glades in the empty woods. Even if everything there is in the grip of hoar-frost, I shall be able to endure it, content with a little. In Summer it will be pleasant to lie there beneath the leafy trees, amid the scent of flowers in the grass.”

~ 'The Life of Merlin', Geoffrey of Monmouth. Translated by Neil Wright, from 'The History of the Kings of Britain: An Edition and Translation of De Gestis Britonum [Historia Regum Britanniae]' (Boydell Press, 2007)


'Fyrgenholt' is such a nice word. It translates to 'mountain-wood' and appears on line 1393 of Beowulf, which I've obviously been re-reading of late:

“ne on foldan fæþm,    ne on fyrgenholt”

(neither into earth's caves,    nor into mountain wood)


Addendum to October 30th

Hie dygel lond warigeað, wulfhleoþu,    windige næssas, frecne fengelad,    ðær fyrgenstream under næssa genipu    niþer gewiteð, flod under foldan.    Nis þæt feor heonon milgemearces,    þæt se mere standeð. Ofer þæm hongiað    hrinde bearwas, wudu wyrtum fæst    wæter oferhelmað. Þær mæg nihta gehwæm    niðwundor seon, fyr on flode.    No þæs frod leofað gumena bearna,    þæt þone grund wite.

~ 'Beowulf', Anonymous. Old English transcription from the 'Electronic Beowulf 4.0'.


“in a little-known country, wolf-slopes, windswept headlands, perilous paths across the boggy moors, where a mountain stream plunges under the mist-covered cliffs, rushes through a fissure. It is not far from here, if measured in miles, that the lake stands shadowed by trees stiff with hoar-frost. A wood, firmly-rooted, frowns over the water. There, night after night, a fearful wonder may be seen — fire on the water; no man alive is so wise as to know the nature of its depths.”

~ 'Beowulf'. Translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland, from 'The Anglo-Saxon World' (Boydell Press, 1982).


I have heard folk-tell of a man who swallows granite to grind the bones in his belly.

#observance #lore

I have heard folk-tell of a man who can snap a pine tree bare in his hands.

#observance #lore

Concerning the Horsahallen ship carvings

The ship is one of the most common petroglyphs found in Sweden. These ones likely date from the Swedish Bronze Age (c.1500-500 BC) and have often been interpreted as symbols of navigation and travel, possibly in connection to burial and the journey to the land of the dead.

Popular academic theories about rock carvings have ranged over time. Originally they were seen solely as evidence of early religious practices, today they are equally considered as representative of cultural histories and social structures. The general form of the carvings is similar across Sweden, though each region is home to unique variations and details. At this site in Horsahallen there are over 80 ship carvings and 140 carvings altogether (I'll post some of the other types later).

#journal #stone #lore

avail yourself of hallowed vervain being the herb of the cross

#observance #ritual #lore

Concerning an evening Midsummer walk, crossing boundaries, walls, trails & tracks

Divination customs surround Midsummer, appearing in folklore records across the European regions. The rituals are often variations on sacred flower gathering rites, involving the collection of dew drops, or the picking of a certain number of herbs and wildflowers, followed by a small ritual which promises to grant the practitioner a glimpse of the future. Given the fertility connections at the Summer Solstice and Midsummer, this is often divination centred on love, marriage, children and families.

Here in Sweden the most well documented custom involves silently gathering nine different flowers whilst walking backwards, then sleeping with them beneath your pillow. In some variations the flowers must be gathered over three different crossroads, whilst others involve the backwards crossing of a matching number of physical boundaries, such as streams, walls and fences. The more elaborate practices share similarities with the ritual of the Årsgang which is also recorded as being performed on Midsummer eve for divination purposes.

With all our nearby streams and paths, hedges and walls, old abandoned roads and local railway tracks — plus our abundance of wild flowers and herbs — I'm already thinking about how to construct a personal variant of the flower gathering walk; weaving a living tradition for future Midsummer celebrations.

There's a good article going into much more detail on Swedish Midsummer rituals and folklore here The Magic of Midsummer Night, Institute for Language and Folklore. The text is in Swedish but big-tech-translate does a passing job on it if you're interested in exploring the topic further.

#journal #lore #midsummer #festival