Crafted Recordings Podcast Episode 15: Like A Dragon Newly Woken

A new podcast featuring part of our ‘Like A Dragon Newly Woken’ set mixed by James Lindenschmidt at Gods & Radicals with piano music from Zoë Knight and the sound of Jame’s local spring and a personal blessing. Working with James seeded the idea for the set and James also found the wonderful dragon image in the public domain – a fruitful collaboration. Enjoy 🙂

GODS & RADICALS

©2017 Crafted Recordings. Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

A Love Song To Sacred Wild Water

This episode came together out of love and gratitude. Quite literally, the piano music by Zoë Knight comes directly from a love song, and provides the musical structure of this episode. In working with the elements, my favorite Water devotional practice is gathering my own drinking water at a spring near my home, where the cleanest, most refreshing water I’ve ever tasted flows like love from the ground. I recorded the sounds of the spring (and a water blessing) on one of my recent trips, and it’s a perfect sonic backdrop for this episode.

The brilliant “Like A Dragon Newly Woken” poetry & performance narrative comes from Guests of the Earth, a performance…

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Like a Dragon Newly Woken (New Set for 2017)

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Beneath the island that floats on the water
dragon skull sleeps.

She has been sleeping for a long, long time.

She once carried life on the back of her spine
but her body has been severed,
her people divided.

Fewer and fewer fish swim the tepid seas.

Her hollow eye,
her excavated nostril,
her stalactite teeth
are empty.

In her dreams
she flies back through time:
horned scaled feathered winged serpent
seeking answers bites down on her own tail.

We recite her dragon thoughts
as she is awakened
from her sleep.

What’s Your Story, Chorley? Saturday 1st April, 2-2.45pm
The Buttonhole, 42 Chapel St, Chorley PR7 1BW

Creiddylad (from ‘The Silencing of the Flowers)

May Flowers, the MeadowsIn Britain we have a seasonal myth based around a maiden goddess called Creiddylad. She is due to wed Gwythyr ap Greidol, a hero of King Arthur’s court and ruler of northern Britain on May Day. Before they can marry, Gwyn ap Nudd, king of Annwn takes her away.

She wanders fields of meadow buttercup
passes ponds of opening water lilies
barefooted weaves may flowers
into an anklet dance-steps
to the woodland edge
gathers hawthorn blossoms
for her headdress and wedding gown.
Drawn by some unseen melody
she dances on a carpet of anemones
with a sleepy yawn sinks beneath a twisted tree.

When she awakes in the gloaming
the woodland is strange and unfamiliar.
Gnarled faces stare from tangled trunks
and twiggy-dark creatures dart between.
A distant howling chills her blood
growing nearer. Huge and shaggy
wolf-like shadows surround her.
Thundering hoofbeats rock her seat.
Gripped by cold she sways in terror
at the sight of a pale beautiful warrior
who captures her breath her heart then takes her.

Creiddylad descends with Gwyn to Annwn

The blackthorn unfurls its roots.
The black horse plunges.
The blackness is absolute.
Creiddylad cannot tell if she rides horse or night.
Knows only stomach churning dropping falling dread
and inability to scream the scream rising inside her.
Heart still breath stopped she floats in a void.
Sees an unendurable light: the king of the underworld beckons.
She runs to him rides with him onto brightening plains
so wonderful with green she weeps.

In an ivied glade of soothing music
he offers deep red wine sweetest of meads.
She sinks in honeyed bliss onto white furs
as the forest moves around her succumbs
to his tangled touch and rough tongue
triumphant howling in the distance.

When she looks upon him again
something stirs in her chest
roaring fills her veins
whirlwind her mind
with a rustling crescendo of leaves.

“You’ve stolen my heart!”

“No. I’ve made it beat.”

Years pass and Creiddylad becomes Gwyn’s crowned queen. Beloved of the fay. Beloved of the dead. Beloved above all of Gwyn.

Creiddylad spends the time we know
as summer in Annwn’s forest
hunting and dancing with her new lord,
stranger men and wilder maidens.
As autumn approaches they retreat
within his mist-wrapped palace
to delicious banquets, roaring fires
and stories of bards from faraway places.
On winter nights Gwyn leaves Creiddylad alone
cheek pressed against glass walls
gazing out across misty treetops in loneliness
so unbearable she demands to go with him.
He takes her up to this-world into nights
of barren trees and wild reckless winds
where with hounds and huntsmen he hunts the dead.

Knowing what they are and what she has become
ravages Creiddylad. She storms through
the forest screaming tearing her hair
her garments gouging her skin
with bloodied fingernails.
The forest’s people surround her calm her
with honey dew and cleansing water
clothe her in leaves cord her brow
with ivies to stem her fury
and carry her to a woodland throne
where her rulership of Annwn
is sealed by her lover’s kiss.

Crowned Queen of Annwn
she ages into their timeless beauty.
News of her splendour carries
across both worlds.
Those seeking to petition Gwyn
invoke him in the name of his Queen
for Gwyn loves Creiddylad with a depth
and intensity he has felt for no other.

Gwythyr gathers a host and brings his army to the underworld. They are no match for Gwyn’s warriors. Hounds with savage teeth, hawks with scraping claws and horses with huge round hooves help dash them to the ground. Gwyn locks them in prison and vents his fury on them for their attempted assault on his realm and his queen.

King Arthur comes to Gwythyr’s rescue and releases his noblemen. He binds Gwyn and Gwythyr to battle for Creiddylad every May Day until the world ends. Gwythyr wins and she stays with him in this-world for the summer.

Creiddylad ascends and dons
her May garlands alive
at the freshness of this-world
walks barefooted with meadow buttercup,
water lilies and frog song, wood anemones,
wood sorrel, may flowers and hawthorn blossom
to Gwythyr’s touch of tenderness.
May King and May Queen marry
amongst merriment and May Pole dancing.

But on the otherside there is howling.
Howling of the hounds. Howling of the dead.
Howling of the flowers of the underworld.
Some say Gwyn howls for her too.
Even on this-side in this-world
you can hear the howling
if you listen carefully
at a twisted blackthorn on May Day.

Yet when the meadow-flowers are shorn, Gwyn returns for his bride at the twisted blackthorn. She goes to ride with him on the Wild Hunt and returns for winter to their kingdom in Annwn.

What’s Your Story, Chorley?

Today at Unit 25 Market Walk in Chorley as part of the “What’s your Story, Chorley?” word  event Guests of the Earth, Lorna; Peter and Myself performed our first set of 2015 “The Silencing of the Flowers”. We had a full and responsive audience who were a pleasure to perform for … we were told afterwards that some children at the back were sat rapt in attention for the full 45 minutes and everyone loved the howling interjected at various points as part of the performance (I told you it was all about the howling), oh and that sneaky serpent as well, you can’t take some snakes anywhere 😉

 

The set “Silencing of the Flowers” opens with seasonal myths from ancient Greece and Britain, the relationship between Hades and Persephone, and then leading into the British/Welsh Underworld where local Lancashire myths of the church Grim and Gabriel ratchets flows into a telling of Creiddylad and Gwythyr ap Greidol and Gwyn ap Nudd another spring/summer maiden who becomes part time Queen of the Underworld as related by Arthurian legend. the set then flows on into how the flowers feel about these spring summer maidens being taken away to wed the Underworld King and when you think that two maidens were enough we flow back into Ancient Greece with a telling of Orpheus and Eurydice (which is where we meet that dastardly serpent and a great deal of howling from Cerberus ). Ending with a conversation between a person and the plant kingdom and a final poem which talks about how Flowers talk in colour and stopped speaking with voice raising an awareness of how the plant kingdom speaks to all living things.

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The event itself went on all day and there were many novelists; poets and storytellers at various locations as well as samba drummers and morris dancers as part of the outside entertainment. We went to see various of the other acts, and mostly avoided the cold rain (Oooh that serpent … you can’t take some snakes anywhere … good job we had some howlers).

We’d like to thank fellow Poet Vincent Smith for the photograph 🙂

What’s Your Story, Chorley?

On Saturday the 25th of April Guests of the Earth will be performing at What’s Your Story, Chorley? This is a ‘word festival’ organised by The Creative Network in co-operation with Chorley Council that is running for a second year following last year’s huge success.

From 11am – 4pm 10 venues across Chorley town centre will be hosting hourly workshops, talks, poetry, storytelling and meet-the-author events. There will also be opportunities to meet local writing groups and find out more about publishing.

Guests of the Earth will be performing a new set: The Silencing of the Flowers which explores ancient Greek and British seasonal myths in Unit 25 Market Walk at 1pm. A list of all the other excellent acts and authors well worth seeing is downloadable here.

Lady Of The Waters from the set “Myths of Ancient Britain (not that nasty King Arthur)” at Longton Library during Longton Live on Saturday the 7th June 2014

Lady of the waters speaks to the king

Gates of annwn I guard
The waters whisper
Goddess gifts they give
The sword wish whispers

From the deeps I rise
Dressed in silver
Words with landfolk speak
Of scale and silver

In the waterfall
My face sees landscape
My water is the bloodvessel
A sacred landscape

Thee may be king but I
Am thy bright sovereign
Drought will fill thy land
If thee disrespect me sovereign

Plenty thy land will have
If thee give offerings
Always will thy iron shine
If I accept thy offering

Thy body I will take back
Into womb waters
When thy battle day be done
And thee float upon water

Then come to island rest
And mystical cavern
Where thee in silverness
Will sleep beneath sea land in dimensional cavern

Goddess of lake and river be I
Ancient as rainfall
Even ocean is mine
My tears are thy rainfall

Wherever water be
There thee shall find me
Words we will speak then
Gifts I give thee always return to me

A spirit marriage is this
King and land be one
My water makes land long live
King and water be one

Harken now then king
To my mistbound wisdom
Crown thee with stormcloud I
The dragon hears wisdom

Copyright n.g.w 2014 as part of Guests of The Earth