Friday, 26 December 2008

Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic

Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and CelticSaturday, 7 March 2009"Hidden Depths"Call for PapersThe Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University ofCambridge invites paper proposals for its annual interdisciplinarypostgraduateconference, the theme of which is: "Hidden Depths."We are pleased to announce that this year's keynote speaker shall beMichael Winterbottom, Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University ofOxford. Professor Winterbottom will be discussing 'The Style of Bede'sHistoria Ecclesiastica: How Simple is it?'Papers should take no more than twenty minutes to deliver. Please submita 250-word abstract of your paper by 9 January 2009 to shall be £5

Thursday, 25 December 2008

In the Midst of Legend : Igrayne's Weeping

by Ian Grigor

Gorlois' failure to return confirmed the Duke could no longer live
smiling to himself Uther eased himself from Igraines sleeping clutch
with sunrise approaching Uther took care to dress silently
kissing her gently he wondered if she could ever love his caressing touch

Morgana fought the urge to scream as the stranger left the room
for deceit had been the knife in her fathers back this passed night
looking across ti her Mother Morganas heart broke, Igraine was love blind
for Magic was the shroud of Darkness to those without the sight


The abrupt knock on the bedroom door startled Igraine...
placing her youngest daughter back in the crib she called 'Yes!'
the door opened to reveal Cenmin, his armour stained and dented
shaking her head she stated 'If Gorlois looks as bad as you it will not impress!'

Those words of Igraines made Cenmins task so much harder
looking uneasy he said 'My had better follow me...'
the ice cold fingers of alarm crept up Igraines spine 'What has happened?'
'My Lady...'said Cenmin ' were a had best come and see!'


Igraine ran to and knelt by her dead husbands side
tears flowing she gripped Gorlois' hand 'When did he die?'
Gorlois had been like a brother to Cenmim 'Just after nightfall, My Lady'
Igraine turned on Cenmin sharply 'That is not lie!'

'On my life, My Lady, he was one of the first to fall!'
Igraine shook her head 'Impossible! He was my bed!'
Cenmin closed his eyes and could once more see Gorlois' death
'Believe me, My Lady..i saw it happen...your name was the last he said'

Igraine turned back to Gorlois and tenderly kissed his forehead
laying her head on his blood stained chest she whispered 'Things are so unclear...
whose arms were i in last night, my love, if they were not yours...'
Morgana rested her head next to Igraines ' Magic blinded you Mother...father was not here'

Cenmin stepped forward and placed his hand on Igraines shoulder
'My Lady, we have preparations to make. We must send out word...
..telling of the Dukes death must be sent out, Druids must be summoned'
Igraine continued weeping. She chose these words not to be heard.

Cenmim raised his voice 'My Lady, Hear me, please! We must...'
Igraine stood and placed her hand on his chest 'My heart breaks and reason i lose...
..the heavy curtain of doubt clouds all and is stained by the blood of sorrow
Gorlois, the Father of my children lies dead behind is not what i choose!'

'My Lady Igraine..' spoke Cenmin ' is not my choice either, but it happened..
Gorlois fought for your honour, your name, the innocence of your love..
..i loved the Duke like a Brother, My Lady..i would gladly take his place
but the Gods decided otherwise..his love for you was all..he held nothing above!'

Igraine took Cenmins hand in hers '..and i his love, Cenmin...
..send out word and summon those Druids..will you do me this courtesy?'
Cenmin nodded his head 'I am your loyal servant, My Lady..
..i will summon all who need know..i will lay waste to this travesty.'

'But would that be enough, Young Knight?' it was Morgana who had spoken
Cenmin looked across to Morgana and smiled 'You have an Opinion, child?'
'How you you lay ruin to the fact my Father is dead? He remains so whatever..
your words, however sincere, are hollow. Our grief is not diminished, it remains wild!'

With a brief shadow of contempt on his face Cenmin looked back at Igraine
'Your Daughter speaks wise words, My Lady. Counsel of one twice her age..
could i speculate at the thought of her being an enchanted one?'
'An unfair burden strikes her..' stated Igraine '..she fights pain with rage'

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Yule Cat

The oldest written sources on the Yule Cat are from the Nineteenth Century. These refer to the fact that those who do not get a new item of clothing for Yule are destined to become offerings for the Yule Cat. It may sound strange that the deprived ones will also become the sacrifices, but this tradition is based on the fact that every effort was made to finish all work with the Autumn wool before Yule. The reward for those who took part in the work was a new piece of clothing. Those who were lazy received nothing. Thus the Yule Cat was used as an incentive to get people to work harder.

A woman describes a scene from her youth in the last century thus: "We were lazy doing this chore. Then we were reminded of the Yule Cat. We thought that was some terrible beast and the last thing we wanted was to be one of his offers".

One of Iceland's most beloved poets in this century, Jóhannes úr Kötlum, wrote a lay about the Yule Cat. It follows in the translation of Vignir Jónsson, who says: "You'll have to forgive me but I didn't make it rhyme - I'm not much of a poet."

You all know the Yule Cat
And that Cat was huge indeed.
People didn't know where he came from
Or where he went.

He opened his glaring eyes wide,
The two of them glowing bright.
It took a really brave man
To look straight into them.

His whiskers, sharp as bristles,
His back arched up high.
And the claws of his hairy paws
Were a terrible sight.

He gave a wave of his strong tail,
He jumped and he clawed and he hissed.
Sometimes up in the valley,
Sometimes down by the shore.

He roamed at large, hungry and evil
In the freezing Yule snow.
In every home
People shuddered at his name.

If one heard a pitiful "meow"
Something evil would happen soon.
Everybody knew he hunted men
But didn't care for mice.

He picked on the very poor
That no new garments got
For Yule - who toiled
And lived in dire need.

From them he took in one fell swoop
Their whole Yule dinner
Always eating it himself
If he possibly could.

Hence it was that the women
At their spinning wheels sat
Spinning a colorful thread
For a frock or a little sock.

Because you mustn't let the Cat
Get hold of the little children.
They had to get something new to wear
From the grownups each year.

And when the lights came on, on Yule Eve
And the Cat peered in,
The little children stood rosy and proud
All dressed up in their new clothes.

Some had gotten an apron
And some had gotten shoes
Or something that was needed
- That was all it took.

For all who got something new to wear
Stayed out of that pussy-cat's grasp
He then gave an awful hiss
But went on his way.

Whether he still exists I do not know.
But his visit would be in vain
If next time everybody
Got something new to wear.

Now you might be thinking of helping
Where help is needed most.
Perhaps you'll find some children
That have nothing at all.

Perhaps searching for those
That live in a lightless world
Will give you a happy day
And a Merry, Merry Yule.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

King Arthur's Conspiracy

La Spada di King Arthur