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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "

Coleridge

By star and by stone

May 10th, 2017

“Be humble for you are made of Earth,

Be noble for you are made from the stars.”

         Serbian proverb

(Image from Wikimedia by Astroval1 who writes: “Stargazing over the geyser. Even the well-known constellation looks differently and absolutely amazing in Yellowstone! Big Dipper (Ursa Major constellation) over Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Nightscape Astrophotography. Green, orange and reddish hue Airglow is visible on this image – it is natural colors of real dark sky. “)

8 Responses to “By star and by stone”

  1. Mmmm, lovely—that image makes me long to get back out under dark (non-light-polluted) skies.

    We’re fortunate to have skies like that—sans the geysers—in the Nebraska Sandhills. At that location, which is a couple hours’ drive from where I live, the airglow in the north has fooled me more than once into thinking I was seeing an aurora. On one exceptionally dark night, when there actually wasn’t much airglow but when the bright central bulge of the summer Milky Way was up in south, I saw the Milky Way cast a shadow. The light from the Milky Way band creates diffuse and fuzzy shadows, due to the fact that it’s not a point source. But under the right conditions, you can hold your hand above a white piece of paper and waggle it back and forth, and see its shadow!

    I wish Druidry had a stronger presence here. It’d be fun to try to lure you and Stephanie from your visits to the East Coast and into Pawneeland instead. The ancestral and historical Pawnee are the indigenous people who lived here from about 1,000 years ago until 1876. I am mentioning them because their traditional cosmology is in very strong agreement with the Serbian proverb that you cited above. According to their origin myths, the Pawnee are the descendants of the stars, with the chief of each village serving as the earthly representative of a particular star. The lodges for priestly work were oriented to astronomical alignments. And yet the Pawnee built these lodges (and all their lodges) from earth, and their sacred sites often took the form of hills or bluffs. These sites were the natural features of the land that pointed upwards or were domed like the night sky, and they were generally conceived as having a hidden entrance, typically under water, that was accessible only through dreaming. Councils of spirit animals met inside, underground. The animal councils sometimes invited a worthy individual into their midst—a doctor-in-training—and conferred their collective curative powers upon him. The dead were also buried in hills, generally the highest hill adjacent to each village. The Pawnee might have originally come from the stars, but they were humbly and respectfully returned to the earth.

    Whew, I wrote more about that than I intended—I hope you’ll forgive me! I was able to go on an archeological dig for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still feeling excited about that experience. I’ve been reading more deeply into local historical indigenous beliefs than I have in the past. It’s been fascinating to compare those ideas to other concepts that I’ve picked up during my studies of Druidry, and to see the similarities and differences and parallels between the two. I don’t suppose Nuinn ever had a chance to take a close look at the North American Plains traditions? I never had a chance to know him, yet he’s been on my mind a lot the past few days. The things that I’ve been reading seem like the types of things he would’ve enjoyed. 🙂

    • Howdy Nebraska I belong to a seed group in Oklahoma. My husband (our druid) is American Indian and recently we got to meet Kristoffer Hughes (lovely amazing man) and they got to discuss being First Nations people of their respective countries. Fascinating. I tend to forget America is not the only place with an indigenous culture!

      • And howdy back at’cha, Katrina in Oklahoma!

        When you say you recently met Kristoffer Hughes, was that at the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering two months ago? Gosh, I will feel mightily embarrassed, if we were both there and if I’m now failing to recall you by name. Kristoffer very kindly responded to the first question I ever submitted to the OBOD forum, back in January 2016, but I’d never had the opportunity to meet him in person until this year’s GCG. I found he was easy to talk to and full of fruitful insights. I came home all fired up and posted a thread of photos at the OBOD forum (link is here, for registered members) and also wrote an article about it for Touchstone, which will probably appear in this month’s issue.

        Just for fun, here’s a little additional historical trivia that may interest you: in September 1906, the noted British anthropologist and ethnographer Alfred Cort Haddon traveled to Oklahoma, where he personally witnessed a Pawnee ceremony. He then returned to England and shared his observations with the Cambridge Antiquarian Society and the British Folk-Lore Society, accompanying the readings of his paper with magic lantern images. The book Traditions of the Skidi Pawnee by the American ethnographer George A. Dorsey entered the collections of the Taylorian at Oxford University upon its publication in 1904, as well. So, a little spark of interest in the Pawnee people was apparently present in Britain (at least among British academics) during that decade. I’m getting this info from Roger Echo-Hawk’s 2016 book, Tolkien in Pawneeland, which proposes that J. R. R. Tolkien may have used Dorsey’s work as inspiration for certain aspects of his own tales.

        Now that I think about it, it’s maybe not surprising that those links existed (or potentially existed, in the case of Tolkien) between our part of the world and England. But it hadn’t even occurred to me to wonder about such things until these past few weeks!

    • Oops, I just figured out that I can reply directly. I’m just outside Scottsbluff. We’re neighbors. It’s lovely to know there are others close by that are also studying Druidry. It would be great to connect with others.

      • Well hello, Becky, and I’m so tickled to meet you. I had absolutely no idea, none, that anyone studying Druidry might be residing near Scottsbluff. I’m so glad you chimed in! Please let’s do connect. If you like, you can reach me by email at my Gmail account. Just type my name with no spaces (tracyglomski) before the “at” symbol, followed by gmail.com. I’m normally able to respond to short messages in 2-3 days, and to longer messages within 2-3 weeks. Hope to chat with you soon!

    • Hi Tracy, Lovely to read and I just wish we had more time – we’d love to travel more in the USA. I don’t think Nuinn looked at North American traditions much… he was turning more towards the classical world, the Middle East, and India in addition to the Celtic lands…I’m sure he would have loved to though! 🙂

      • Oh, thank you so much for your reply, Philip! It’s been about four years since I read The Book of Druidry from cover to cover, and I’ve been wracking my brain to recall if there was any mention of the oral traditions from my part of the world. I do remember forming a favorable impression of the breadth and depth of Nuinn’s knowledge of mythology, but it also makes sense that he’d be focusing entirely in the geographic and historical directions that you mentioned, at least for an analysis of the origins of Druidry.

        I hope to go back and reread that book fairly soon—I think that reencountering that material six years into my study of Druidry, as opposed to only two years in, will greatly enhance my understanding of it.

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