Dragon Spawn…

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*

… And so the Blessed Isle of Britain flourished

with sumptuous buildings and courageous and valiant Knights.

The land was replenished with cities, and divided into shires and counties…

*

The City of Coventry was the place where the first English Christian was born,

and the first that ever sought for foreign adventures,

whose name to this day all of Europe holds in high regard:

 The valiant Knight, St George of England,

whose golden garter is not only worn by nobles,

but by kings, and in memory of his victories

the Kings of England still fight under his banner.

*

When Nature created him in his mother’s womb,

she dreamed she was to be conceived of a dragon,

which dream she long concealed and kept secret,

until her burden grew so heavy that her womb was scarce able to endure it.

*

So, at last finding opportunity to confide in her husband,

Sir Albert, High-Steward of England, she said:

“My Lord, by birth I am the King of England’s daughter,

and for twenty one years I have been your true and lawful wife.

Yet never was I in hope of a child until now.

Therefore, I entreat you by the dear and natural love you bear the infant

conceived in my womb, that by art, wisdom, or other inspiration,

you interpret my troublesome dreams, and tell me what they signify.

For thirty nights past, my slumbers have been beset by grievous dreams;

and night by night, no sooner did sweet-sleep take possession of my senses,

but I thought myself conceived with a dreadful dragon,

destined to be the cause of its parents death.”

Why Myth?…

*

‘…history became legend, legend became myth…’

What a pleasant conceit, to suppose that this process produces myth. Whilst undoubtedly true for many legends the process can also work the other way. Many legends for example have produced history. Pre-eminently in this respect, at least for Britain, is ‘King Arthur’ whose story the scholars do indeed now refer to as a mythos.

But what is really going on here?

It is probably more accurate to regard all these forms as stories. We are not supposed to regard History as a story but as ‘recorded fact’ and also ‘true’, but well, really, the clue is in the name. So why do we set such store by stories? The clue is in the question.
The truth of stories lies in a realm other than the literal. And what is ‘the literal’ anyway’?

‘The literal is something that actually happened.’

‘And what do we mean by something?’

‘We mean an ‘act’.’

‘Do we mean an act in a play?’

‘No, we mean a physical act; we mean the physical actions of a person.’

‘What, any act, and any person?’

‘Usually a significant act and a significant person’…

*

*

…A woman set off in the west, coming this way.
She was carrying her baskets for plant foods, her digging stick and a fire-stick.
She was coming, travelling along, camping and then setting off again.
As she went along she was looking about her and where she saw plenty of small creatures and plant food she would stop and eat and then camp.
At sunset she would settle down and sleep and early in the morning she would set off again.
Going on she saw that salt-water tide had come up at a place she hoped to go across.
So she camped there.
She made a sleeping platform in a tree because so many mosquitoes were biting her.
When at last early morning came she made a paper-bark canoe, paddling with her hands to cross to the other side.
Then she started off again and eventually came to a cave house…

*

*

…A Dust-Devil was living in the cave house.
Tall, thin and hairy he was with a crooked body and bat-like wings.
‘My woman has come,’ he said, ‘my body’s no good but today we two will sleep together.’
When they met the woman offered him vegetable food and the Dust-Devil reciprocated with fish.
They slept together but the woman did not like the look of him so she cast about the cave house, found a stone axe and began sharpening it whilst he slept.
The Dust-Devil woke up.
He stretched himself and was preparing to eat the woman. She slashed his neck.
Then she looked around made a fire and cooked his body.
Perhaps he just tossed away the flames that Dust-Devil?
He came out the fire, ‘you woman, why did you kill me? I will cover you with my wings.’
The woman tried to hide but he found her.
He sealed her up in the cave where she was lying.
That cave remained for her then a dark cave.
She kept on talking in there, abusing the Dust-Devil.
At last she became like a rock.
She stands there a rock, forever.

A Young Woman meets a Dust-Devil

(Adapted from ‘Speaking Land’ by R.M. Berndt and C.H. Berndt)

Facing Oblivion – December 2016

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Greetings, high priestess Camma

Where my heart would speak I must make my rank as Roman soldier talk in bitter tones. I long to place my arms around you, once again, and protect you from what is coming, but we have little time.

Suetonius Paulinus, a veteran of campaigns in North Africa, and much honoured in Rome, makes his way north, in haste, and means to cross the treacherous straits to Môna Insula with infantry and cavalry. His reputation is a bloody one and I fear for your people.

How little he knows of them! Would that I could open to him the gifts of my time with your tribe of Druids and show him the gentle and cultured face of those whose defiance and bravery have caused such fear in the hearts of the sons of Rome.

Alas, I may not tell my own story. Suetonius Paulinus can never know of the time a new priestess befriended a young traveller, a man between worlds and searching for meaning. He can never know how you and your people made him one of your own, before his returning wanderlust set his immature mind and heart on other paths…

How cruel that those other paths and lands would see him earn a reputation as a learned scholar, capable of many tongues, a man who was also gifted in close combat – born of too many encounters with thieves and rogues on the long journeys of discovery.

How cruel that the fates now cast him absorbed into Rome’s vast army and commanding a hundred soldiers, soon to unite with Suetonius Paulinus’ army which comes to slaughter you and your brethren…

Let me help you, beloved of my youth! Let me lead you from Môna Insula to a place of safety. Be certain, my love, that he means to put you all to the sword and the flames; and also to destroy your sacred groves and defile your ancient pools.

Nothing will be spared.

He plans to be at the straits of Môna Insula by the next full moon. Let this secret scroll, carried by a runner braver than I, be your way back from the jaws of death. Send me your answer at once. The runner will wait.

Amathus, Centurion.


Môna Insula was the Roman word for the Isle of Anglesey, the location for the Silent Eye’s December 2016 pre-Solstice weekend and the last stronghold of the Druids in A.D. 60.

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