The Kalevala recounts a battle of wits between three wizard brothers and the witch goddess, Louhi. It is a treasure trove of ancient shamanistic practices and spells. Here’s a reading:
Wainamoinen’s Harp Songs
Then the singer of Wainola
Took the harp of his creation,
Quick adjusting, sweetly tuning,
Deftly plied his skillful fingers
To the strings that he had fashioned.
Now was gladness rolled on gladness,
And the harmony of pleasure
Echoed from the hills and mountains:
Added singing to his playing,
Out of joy did joy come welling,
Now resounded marvelous music,
All of Northland stopped and listened.
Every creature in the forest,
All the beasts that haunt the woodlands,
On their nimble feet came bounding,
Came to listen to his playing,
Came to hear his songs of joyance.
Leaped the squirrels from the branches,
Merrily from birch to aspen;
Climbed the ermines on the fences,
O’er the plains the elk-deer bounded,
And the lynxes purred with pleasure;
Wolves awoke in far-off swamp-lands,
Bounded o’er the marsh and heather,
And the bear his den deserted,
Left his lair within the pine-wood,
Settled by a fence to listen,
Leaned against the listening gate-posts,
But the gate-posts yield beneath him;
Now he climbs the fir-tree branches
That he may enjoy and wonder,
Climbs and listens to the music
Of the harp of Wainamoinen.
The epic poem, Kalevala, is celebrated by the Finns this day (February 28) with parades and readings from the poem. The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology. The above translation is by John Martin Crawford,
My bull is white like the silver fish in the river,
White like the shimmering crane bird on the river bank,
White like fresh milk!
His roar is like the thunder to the Turkish cannon on the steep shore.
My bull is dark like the raincloud in the storm.
He is like summer and winter.
Half of him is dark like the storm cloud
Half of him is light like sunshine.
His back shines like the morning star.
His brow is red like the beak of the hornbill.
His forehead is like a flag, calling the people from a distance.
He resembles the rainbow.
I will water him at the river,
With my spear I shall drive my enemies.
Let them water their herds at the well;
The river belongs to me and my bull.
Drink, my bull, from the river;
I am here to guard you with my spear.
– Traditional Dinka Tribe, Africa
Lord Sun, life of day!
In your fire-boat gliding through golden rays!
Extend yourself, with hands of light,
To us who worship in your sight,
And in your ancient names rejoice,
And hear the mystery of your voice.
Lady Moon, cloud bound,
Of liquid light and pale hounds,
Course among us — Your light diffuse!
Shed your blessings on us who choose
The evening worship by silver flame,
Singing your thousand living names.
Invocation by Olwen Fferyllt
The courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi is one of the oldest love poems from the ancient world. It is a story of love between the gods (although some argue that Dumuzi was a real person, who rose to power, and so attained mythical divine status). When the gods consummate their love the result is fecundity on earth, particularly for their worshipers.
This Sumerian text is often compared to the Song of Songs. The Egyptian love poetry makes a better parallel, but there are some connections. However, a word of warning, this is much more explicitly sexual than the Song of Songs, and, of course, it is about divine lovers.
Here it is:
The brother spoke to this younger sister
The Sun God, Utu, spoke to Inanna, saying:
‘Young Lady, the flax in its fullness is lovely,
Inanna, the grain is glistening in the furrow.
I will hoe it for you, I will bring it to you
A piece of linen, big or small, is always needed.
Inanna, I will bring it to you.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought me the flax, who will comb it for me?
Sister, I will bring it to you combed.’
‘Utu, after you’ve brought it to me combed, who will spin it for me?
‘Sister, I will bring it to you spun.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought the flax to me spun, who will braid it for me?
‘Sister, I will bring it to you braided.’
‘Utu, after you’ve brought it to me braided, who will warp it for me?’
‘Inanna, I will bring it to you warped.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought the flax to me warped, who will weave it for me?’
‘Sister, I will bring it to you woven.’
‘Utu, after you’ve brought it to me woven, who will bleach it for me?’
‘Inanna, I will bring it to you bleached.’
‘Brother, after you’ve brought my bridal sheet to me,
Who will go to bed with me?
Utu, who will go to bed with me?’
‘Sister, your bridegroom will go to be with you
He who was born from a fertile womb,
He who was conceived on the sacred marriage throne
Dumuzi, the shepherd! He will go to bed with you.’
Inanna bathed and anointed herself with scented oil.
She covered her body with the royal robe
She arranged her precious lapis beads around her neck
She took the royal seal in her hand
Dumuzi waited expectantly
Inanna opened the door for him
Inside the house she shone before him
Like the light of the moon
Dumuzi looked at her joyously
He pressed his neck close against hers
He kissed her Continue reading
We locked up our wisdom into our bones
And swallowed the keys
They sank in our rivers of blood
And we forgot the maps
Because we had to forget the mysteries
To keep them safe.
We wove our hair into brooms
And swept over our paths
And then burned the earth with our rage
We didn’t teach our children
It was the only way to protect them,
But in them we planted seeds, seeds and keys
And told them stories and riddles and songs
With no roots, just tangled threads
That would take years to unwind
Just enough time
For the rains to fall again
And put out the fires
For the dams to break
For the rivers to flood
For the paths to be walked again
For the soil to breathe
And as the old bones crumble
Deep beneath the rubble
We find we’ve always had the keys
Our stories and our maps
Our paths are revealed to some
And the seeds grow again
The threads are unspun
And woven again
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
~ By Pablo Neruda
~ from Extravagaria
‘Twas the night before Yule, and all through the Coven,
The cookies were baked and removed from the oven.
The bayberry candles were lit on the table,
The altar was wrapped in a new cloth of sable.
The children were nestled, all snug in their beds,
While visions of Yuletime danced in their heads.
Their stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that some presents soon would be there!
With Rocker in his new robe, and I in mine,
We were asking our Goddess her blessing divine.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our Circle to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, tripping over my sash,
My eyes were a-glamoured with a bright silver flash.
The moon on the breasts of the Goddess and God
Drew my eyes to behold the blessed Circle they trod.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the manifestations of all those we hold Dear.
The physical forms of those whom we pray to,
Even Saint Nick, and his miniature sleigh, too!
Jehovah, Mohammet, Shiva, Hera and Thor.
Zeus, Freya, Brahma, and many, many more.
All the Spiritual Entities who’d ever been mentioned.
Even some, like dear Loki, who sowed seeds of dissension.
They greeted each other with smile, warm and sweet.
Then, forming a Circle, they all took a seat.
With multiple Voices all joined as One,
The Corners were Called. And, when that was done.
The Chalice was passed from Hand to Hand.
Then, a blanket of silence enfolded the land.
A crystal clear Voice began to hold sway.
Which Deity spoke? I could not say.
But, clearly, I heard all the love in that Voice.
It caused my tired heart to take flight and rejoice.
“Our Children, it seems, have missed the whole point.
“We now join together, their hearts to anoint.
“Pour all of Our love O’er their hearts of stone.
“Let them see that together they’re never alone!
“Show them it matters not which of Us that they choose.
“Their sad hate and mistrust cause each of Us to lose!”
As I stood there transfixed, I could suddenly see
If we all stand as one, what a world this could be!
Put ALL of our differences well behind us.
Let the love of the Gods enfold and remind us.
We ARE all the same,though varied our skins.
We all dream the same dreams, we all sin the same sins.
With a look of enlightenment etched on my face,
I beheld all the Gods in Their glory and grace!
They all bowed Their heads then said”So mote it be!”
They all smiled at each Other bestowing winks on me.
One by One they disappeared from my sight.
Just the Goddess and God were left in the light.
As slowly They twinkled, fading by degree,
“Happy Yuletide to all!!
Blessed be times three!”
~Written by Mary, a.k.a. Wandering Poet, a.k.a.littlebit~
Permission to reprint granted to all who keep keep this credit line by the author
Red is the color, there’s no other, red velvet tap your veins
Red is the color, red is the lover, red as drippin’ stains,
Red as the lips the wet tongue licks, red as the eyes that weep,
Mmm the bridegroom’s red-devil cake, red as love,
Red as hate, red as anger, red as rage, red as playin’ games,
Red as comin’ home, red as poppies, fire and pain,
Red as you and she, red as ecstasy, red as racing cars,
Clinic cards, nirvana, red as a rose, a barfly’s nose,
Back alabama roads, the Grand Wizard’s robes, red as china,
Rubies, leather bridles, stirrups, red as sticky gooey syrup,
Red as caviar, mars, red as hell, red stripe, life,
Red as Jack the Ripper’s surgical knife… (“you’re better red.)
Red as cherry, power, armies, jelly, red as Kahlo’s Birth, mud,
Sand and dirt, red magenta, Georgia clay, placenta,
Red and black-venom lack, red as snakes-i’m crawlin’, down
Your back, red as a clown, Circus Mort, red as your way out,
Red abort, red as pleasure, traitor, red flavor, red as walls,
Smog, red silos, red stone, red sheets, read Keats, red sunset,
Nuclear accident, red sleep, red wings, red emergency,
Red candles, insects, trance, cannibals, red sea, pussy,
Red shock, executioner’s block, red as laughter, red slaughter
Eaten by carrion, Sharon Bateman, fate, and Al’s hair,
Red sardonyx, red fingernails, lil’ Red Ridin’ Hood, MATADOR,
Crucifix, red is good, red as red, red as stop, red prick…
(“you’re better red.) red as party, sacred altars, Lola’s dress,
Rubber halters, red as war, red Xmas, red as a temple,
Red as your next meal, red prostitutes, red preachers, suits,
Red mama’s boots, red alert, red sex, red dessert, red hex,
Red as crimson, scarlet, vermillion, red cactus,
A virgin’s mattress, red as sin, red as ink in Ted and Norman’s
Skin, red candy, toys, red box, munition, red as flesh whipped
Into submission, red as wounds of Christ,
Bluebeard’s wife, red as meat is, red as Foetus…
(“you’re better red…)
-RED by JARBOE
Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.
The hour of the waning of love has beset us;
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear and dropping brow.
– W.B. Yeats