Caoimhín’s Pagan Life, Clan Essays (Articles, News)

I am in the process of cleaning up my bio and the bio of the Clan.  I hadn’t originally planned on including this as one of the segments, which really does show how necessary it is.  But then to be fair I hadn’t yet gotten as far as looking into my own bio.  The inspiration came from a possible interview I may be doing online for a supernatural blog, which may in itself lead to an interview with the interviewer, stay tuned.

Thinking back on things, I am a little surprised at myself.  I never consciously meant it, but I think that online I may have shied away from expressing my religious self.  This I don’t do in life, yes I no longer go out of my way to profess the faith to all and sundry.   But as it is a major interest in my life – religion, mythology, philosophy and psychology – I engage in conversation about it when it comes up and with my varied and vast (reasonably) experiences, that for so many people are incredibly unusual, why should it not be brought up?

To be honest though I tend not to, nor never have, prosetlyze.  But the older I get, the less I feel of judging others for their beliefs, no matter how strange they are, including cheese moons.  So long as people leave their beliefs out of their dealings with me, or can compromise about it, it does not bother me.  The way I see it is I believe in some crazy things, not less so than thinking I am eating bread transformed into flesh every week just to add, so why should ANY other beliefs be rubbished?  That’s what others do to my beliefs, so why should I partake in the same ignorance.

So my beliefs?  To specify:  I am pagan, a Celtic pagan, of the Irish pantheon, a shaman.  All of which are labels I could happily agree with and conform to in one way or another.  To deal with the last three first.  I am a shaman who worships the old Irish gods and the Celtic wheel and system found with them.

What follows is a broad summary rather than a concisely accurate description.  A Pagan is a very vague term.  It first originated in Italy at the time of the Roman empire when they were still multi-theistic.  I use that to signify the difference between polytheism and omni-theism, multi-theistic believes in multiple deities as opposed to a lot of modern pagan views that Gods are all simply aspects of higher powers / power.  “Pagan” has the same origins as the word paean.  The word signified the “silly” superstitious folk of the country and was used derogatively by the city folk of the time.  Afterwards in a mono-theistic culture the word got taken to mean the belief in multiple spirits, as the old ways were often stronger in the countryside where traditions continued.  More recently the word which had been used to derogatively mark, since its inception, people who carried out folk tradition has been reclaimed by a vast diaspora.  The New Age movement, the “Pagans”, even the Christian / Judaic Kabalists used this name to signify a belief and practise of things that had been grouped as the occult until recently.

This shift began in the second half of the twentieth century and was mainly due to the resurrection of the druidic movement in its new forms.  Occult belief and practise has been widespread throughout history and Christianity has never comfortably stamped it out.  The label of Paganism has had a tendency to be used therefore as a banner call for all alternate beliefs, beliefs in a spirit-centred world or occult natured worship – which numerically and time-wise have been more prevalent then the more recent trend towards non-spiritual religions practised more commonly within monotheism.  When I say spiritual in this sense I mean belief in energies and spirits, animistic (see my earlier posted speech.)  Some Christians also identify themselves as pagans simply because its a way of them expressing their belief in spirits etc.

Within that group is really another group of pagan peoples that generally tend to see themselves as pagan by belief as well as culture; pagans, wiccans and heathens (or some variation of the Norse faith).  These are three distinct religious groups that follow a similar theosophical view on the gods, all are poly- or multi- theistic and nature centred religions.  Which brings me back full circle to the origins of the word, today the word has been reclaimed to refer and show a centre to our religious beliefs.

General paganism, as with Wicca, is a blend of differing cultures and religious practise (much like Christianity was hundred of years after Christ lived when it began in Italy.)  Totem animals, the wheel of the year, Mabon and Yule – so many differing ideas from earth-centred religions that have been gathered together to form a modern faith.  I tend towards a more traditional gathering of Irish cultured beliefs.  This is more so about what sounds right to me, and feels right.  A lot of this may have been down to my reading of the mythologies from a very early age.  In this the Celtic Pantheon and particularly the Irish Gods have my highest of reverence and worship.  Finally shamanism…  I have two resources online to help explain what this is.  One is our show A Shaman’s Dictionary, the other is a speech previously mentioned I have on animism, a concept central to shamanism.

A person who practises shamanism and a shaman are two different concepts.  A shaman is a cleric.  A mouthpiece of the gods, an ambassador of the spirits.  The central belief is that there are two worlds / realms / planes, the material and the spiritual.  A shaman can not only see between the two but acts and crosses between them.  It is his purpose to deal between both and effect change on both realms.  The purpose is not like a lot of paganic religions, to illuminate yourself.  For a person practising shamanism this goal of improving / enlightening / attuning oneself and purifying their soul is noble but for the Shaman, his (her) goal / purpose is to serve the spirits.  Not necessarily as a servant but similar to the way a politician serves his country and the electorate (and that does not mean screwing them over for those cynics out there.)

I find myself acting in this role, within a Celtic and Irish framework.  My pantheon of Gods, and therefore some of the highest spirits with which I interact with, are the old Irish Gods.  My totem animal is the wolf, but more so than this I am wolf-spirited.  My patron goddess, is the Morrigan.  Neither of these are necessary to my religion, I need not have a single patron and indeed when I say patron I mean main patron.

And that wraps up both an introduction to paganism and a brief account of my beliefs.

One Year of Site, Clan Essays (Articles, News)

The first in a series of essays on the idea of Clan Raven Cub.  I kinda thought of updating the about page but I wasn’t sure exactly what to say in it.  This way I can gather my thoughts and give you all something to think on in the process.  This post will be about why we set up the website in the first place.

Clan Raven Cub was originally a term / concept Zoe and I had for ourselves as a couple.  We are both shamanic-practitioning-pagans.  When we originally planned our ceremonial wedding, which is still in the offing, we thought about an icon, a motto etc for us and for our future family.  The idea of Clan Raven Cub was therefore born.  We were both, now that we had been legally wed, Coileáin – the Irish form of Collins – by surname, the first of each branch in our family tree to take this name officially.

While I was working on my graphics secondment for Cam Arc, Oxford Archaeology bought us out and I was offered and encouraged to blog.  This comprised of the first six or so articles of  Libre Source and was published on their platform, since which it has been moved to the Blogger platform.  Shortly afterwards I decided it would be nice for Zoe and I to start on creating our own website and showcase.  Thus was born this blog Clan Raven Cub.  Our early posts were quite unfocused and we originally decided to put up just a small portfolio, interspersed with some messy posts on where we were planning to go.

Later on with the burgeoning of a few new sites, Puppy Journeys and In The Brew, new design to the site was underway.  As I got used to different platforms, podcasting and the like, the site really grew, meandered (like this post) and changed.  At this point the site was used mainly for news on what we were at online.  The articles section was added and since we have posted quite a lot of articles that have gained a lot of favourable review.  Since then we have started to post up the occasional creative work again to keep the site fresh.

We now have enough material on here, and online in general, to be able to run the blog as a nice ordered website with plenty of material, easily browsible.  So a year on and we have scattered and grown online, with a number of guest posts and various projects of different media and a much improved site.  We thank everyone who looks in on us regularly and hope you will stay with us in this next year!

Caoimhín

Fantasy Dinner Party (Fun)

There is a game in which you pick out your favourite dinner guests, plan out a dinner party in your head; in which you can choose anyone living or dead.  Two conditions that we choose to set for ourselves are real people rather than fictional characters and that you have to fill up ten seats.  Its an interesting puzzle, as it will depend on what and how you like discussion, how the people interact and what topics you find interesting.  Some important factors in your choice are to pick out interesting personalities, how these people would do at a dinner table talking, how they would interact with one another and to match them together so, unless its what your after, certain topics or points of view, don’t overbalance the table.

Caoimhín’s fantasy dinner party guests:

 

Zoe’s fantasy dinner party guests:

 

Caoimhín

On Visiting the Yprés Salient (Article)

As I write this I am sitting at “The Walker” tabac (pub) in Yprés, Belgium.  I am here with a Bockor, local beer, a pils.  Yes I am making conversation, to turn a phrase.  I am stuck for words slightly, which may be difficult for me.  But let me show you why.

DSC00029

 

That is the view I have.  The New Menin Gate.  A sea of names and pomp, to quote the poet Sasoon.  I have a small video that I will post up soon on YouTube maybe.  We don’t have long left here, to get home for the evening.  Our job here in Fromelles and the CWGC project draws to a close and so I visited Yprés, as I must.  A troop of British squaddies have just walked by.  Below is a video on Vimeo of the experience.

Click to Watch Video

And still I have not spoken of the Gate.  I am upset, in ways, but more… Shocked is not quite the word.  Still absorbing, I have come to terms more with what I read in the books of the past since coming over to France, and at first to see so many graves, of so many young men, of so many countries, was a great shock.  Now less a shock more an acceptance of yes that is history.  Sour as it may taste that is reality.

 

 

Walking closer, gave me the perspective of Sasoon and the understanding of how he felt.  Walking through it, flooded with names one thing stood out.  “Lest we Forget,” and I wonder what it is we are not to forget.  I wonder whether it is something we have ever remembered.  This colossal loss of life.  This savagery that overcame us as a species.  That still today continues.  That today being here can make us proud, that can fill us with thoughts of individuals, that we only think of the whole.  All such thoughts are blown to the scattered winds like the embers that were blown over the fields of Flandres, while Yprés was shelled for so many years.

 

I have no answer and I have no ways of how one should think.  Indeed I have no way to consider how I should think.  All I can say for sure is of how the awe of the place, of the event has struck me.  No more shall World War One be merely a prelude to World War Two.  For me I have became history.

Caoimhín

A Shaman’s Dictionary (News)

I would like to announce yet again another departure for us, A Shaman’s Dictionary.  I have long been wanting to do a pagan production.  In particular my idea had been a podcast, but with my previous work on In The Brew I decided to try something new and look at doing a video-cast.  For simplicity’s sake I will be trying things out on YouTube and see how it goes.  Because everything is up in the air with us at the moment I can’t guarantee any form of regularity with the different shows.

Video is a particular media and it will make a difference to video, so the format of A Shaman’s Dictionary will be short and encompass a simple discussion of one single concept.  There are many differing pagan shows online but I feel I can contribute and enrich the sphere.  Indeed it is something I feel I have not done right by for far too long.  As a practising Shaman with a very good working knowledge of many different religions, myths, philosophies, spiritual paths and magical traditions my thought had been to highlight, in every show, a concept and to outline its meanings and bring forth a solid cohesive concept for people to take away.  This can help people deepen their basic and fundamental knowledge.

For many pagans philosophical / mental concepts can be at the cornerstone of their faith upon which their rituals and tools are based; for shamanism these concepts are the tools we use to transform and conduct our lives.

To visit the show click here.

To sum up for those of you who want, join us both on YouTube for our regular shows for a deeper view on life.

Caoimhín

Return to the New Menin Gate (Poem)

When all those young poor troops,
Plodded slowly forth from the rail, 
Final voyage of steamer and train,
Shepher’d them; no more would they run,

To complete this side of the Hun,
But ne’er more this bank of the river,
Would those airmen and goldmen,
Show until new ages quieter,

Their Humu’re’s bright and shined,
Whereto lie our boys bright and proud,
Lost before the outbreak, pandemic,
From ahigh, the cold prideful spite,

That only empires cling to,
A pain founded by ground nation’s
Bones, while all those poor folk,
Lie Lunate to Hamate,

And only cold stone and Gate,
Can warn their eternal horror;
Yet for less then a score more,
Like a storm it broke on the shores,

While all the pheasants, they fled

Caoimhίn

Fromelles the sequel (News)

Alright so those of you keeping track will know that recently there has been nothing to keep track of.  I have been quiet across the board, a mix of time-out, no time and no web-time.  If you can recall months ago Zoe left for France well I have now joined her.  I have been employed to work on this project for Oxford Archaeology and hopefully continue on back in the UK with them following this.  It will mean that Clan Raven Cub takes a different slant and we think that, with our personal goals taken into consideration we are focusing on the creation creative / otherwise projects but not on their production.  Still if interested do get in touch.  On top of this my computer blew and our backup too so a lot of our creative work is gone.  But that is more of a time waste than a serious problem.  Unfortunately it does push back my learning of flash but hey ho.

News over.  To the project, not much can be said due to the current and sensitive  nature of the project.  But I feel it important for me to emphasise just how moving and awe-inspiring an event this is to be involved in.  As a historian it has obvious importance, as a student I have learnt so much from the anthropologists present both in terms of archaeology and the evolution of the human form, as a deeply spiritual and ethical individual the scale and the reality is humbling, as an Irish man it blows me away – to empathise with men whose shoes I may well have been in one hundred years ago.  As a human it is one of the… deepest experiences I have encountered.  That is the word that most describes the experience for me.

I am enjoying France, the beer – which I will be doing a special about on In The Brew, the fresh produce to cook with, enjoying working with again and the sense of purpose that comes with earning money for yourself.  I will be looking to write a blogpost for the central site for the project.

Caoimhín