Category Archives: All That Glisters

The Great Global Gowk-Hunt

This was my 2009 entry for the Open Gorsedd on the theme “All that Glisters is Not Gold”. I almost certainly pronounced quite a few of these names quite wrongly, so apologies for any wincing this might have provoked at the time. In particular I was glad to think I was the only one who’d remember my attempt to get my mouth round the name of the Sidhichean when David Muir made effortless mention of them in his story in the trials this year.

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The Great Global Gowk-Hunt

When people talk about “fool’s gold”, they don’t just mean gold. It means anything that we can desire, and it means anything that can seduce us into believing it is that thing which we desire.

So a chair can be a kind of fool’s gold. So can bread rolls. So can a bird.

The cuckoo is a bird that first hatches in a nest that was built by birds that are not cuckoos and who are not its own parents. They then fool their adoptive parents into raising them as their own, and systematically dispose of each and every one of their would-be siblings by pushing the other chicks, one by one, out of the nest to their doom.

They are chirping changelings.

In Scotland, one name they have for the cuckoo is a “gowk”, and there’s an April Fool’s tradition up there called “hunting the gowk”. The game is that you give the person you want to fool a message, written down and folded over on a piece of paper, and you ask them to deliver it to a friend of yours but not to read. Your messenger is “the gowk”. When the message gets there, your friend opens up the paper and reads it and the message on it reads,

“Never laugh, never smile, Hunt the gowk another mile”.

Then he knows to get a new piece of paper, write the same message on that one, fold it over, and give it back to the poor fool with instructions to take this message on to yet another friend – and so on, until the gowk’s been hunted all over town.

There’s also traditionally a second day of foolish festivities in Scotland, on April 2nd. This one involves ‘rear-related jokes’, such as pinning messages onto people’s bottoms.

There is a group of fairies in Scotland called the Sidhichean (SHEE-ichan). And there’s a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia called The Cuckoo. And there’s reason to think that the Sidhichean might have played a great big game of Hunt the Gowk with all of the world’s divine tricksters, and chaos gods, and great wise fools, which resulted in the events that took place outside that restaurant in Melbourne on April 1st 2007.

It’s hard not to think, that on April 1st 2007, a little Scottish fairy Sidhichean might have wanted to have a little tricksy fun, and might just have decided on that day to flit over the North Sea to Scandinavia, and whisper in the Norse god Loki’s ear, “hunt the gowk”!

And it’s hard not to think that Loki, getting the game and wanting as ever to play, might have turned himself into a mare, and galloped down through North-Eastern Europe to the Slavic lands where he found mighty Veles and whinnied in Veles’ ear, “hunt the gowk”!

And that Veles went down to North Caucasia to whisper to Sosruko “hunt the gowk”!, and that Sosruko crossed the Black Sea to Greece and found powerful Eris and whispered in her ear “hunt the gowk”!, and that she must have gone West across Europe, spreading strife wherever she went, and whispered it to San Martin Txiki in the Basque woods, and that he travelled down through every woodland in Spain and in Morroco, and that on the West African coast he told little spider Anansi “hunt the gowk’!

And then – because we’re only halfway there – it’s hard not to think that Anansi might have spun his web halfway across Africa on April 1st 2007 to tell the Yoruban trickster Eshu “hunt the gowk’!, or that Eshu could have made his way along his roads and over his crossroads, with his hat black on one side and red on the other side, the rest of the way across Africa to Egypt, and told the mighty Egyptian Set, with his strange finny ears “hunt the gowk’!

And Set must then have found Yam in Syria making Chaos in a river, who flowed upstream to Old Persia where he babbled ‘hunt the gowk’ to the Arabian wise fool Nasreddin, who rode backwards on his donkey to India and told laughing Krishna, who bent down and boomed it at the Chinese monkey-king Sun Wukong, who bound a thousand miles South to the Philippines in a single somersault and told lazy Juan Tamad “hunt the gowk’!, who just about bothered to tell the little Indonesian mouse-deer Kantjil “hunt the gowk’!, who scurried all the way finally to the North coast of Australia, and there told the old Aboriginal trickster Bamapana “hunt the gowk’! who took him at his word, and made his way South to Melbourne, to the restaurant I told you about earlier.

The Cuckoo was Australia’s first Smorgasbord restaurant and is home to the world’s largest free-standing cuckoo clock. They have yodelling there as often as possible, and Father Christmas visits in June and July.

But in the reason it’s hard not to think that the trickster gods might have been involved in the events which took place at the Cuckoo Restaurant on April 1st 2007, and that Bamapana wasn’t there infesting things with his chaotic magic, is that the events that took place at the Cuckoo restaurant on April 1st 2007 were as follows – and this, my friends – is a true story.

On April 1st 2007, the Cuckoo restaurant in Melbourne was approached by a pair of people with the intention of robbing it. One of the robbers was called Donna Hayes and the other was Benjamin Jorgensen. Benjamin had a sawn-off shotgun.

As Benjamin and Donna approached the restaurant, so they saw the manager of the Cuckoo emerge with the takings – about $30,000 worth of cash. And they apprehended him and told him to hand it over.

But what the manager of the Cuckoo knew, and they didn’t, was that the bag was not, in fact, full of notes and coins, but $5 worth of bread rolls. And knowing this, and knowing the significance of the calendar date, the manager of the Cuckoo assumed that the man brandishing the sawn-off shotgun at him and demanding that he hand his bag of bread rolls over was joking, and he laughed it off.

Donna and Benjamin, meanwhile believing the bag to be full of huge amounts of cash, insisted, and duly the bread rolls were handed over, in the course of which Benjamin accidentally shot Donna in the arse.

They then ran as best they could, but in their confusion and stress, they picked out a car that was not their getaway car, a car which they frantically failed to open until such time as they were apprehended by what may well have been laughing policemen.

Now you can’t tell me that at a place called the Cuckoo, on April Fool’s Day, that a pair of robbers running to the wrong car with a bag of bread rolls and one shooting each other in the bum in the process is just a coincidence – and that someone with a bit of magic in them wasn’t hunting the gowk that day.

But it’s important to remember that for all the fools we’ve seen, we’re the biggest fools of all if we laugh too hard at the hapless gowks with the shotgun, because a bread roll at the right time is a wonderful thing – and no matter how much gold you’ve got in your pocket, it won’t do you any good to eat it.

All that glitters is not gold

Have you heard of the tales of ‘glamourie’?

Long since practiced by ‘the sidhe’ and still practiced by ‘he’ or ‘she’

In this fair town of Glastonbury?

 

Beware the ‘glamourie’!

Gwynn up Nudd invited a Christian monk to see

His faerie halls and banquets of great revelry

But holy water he did throw upon Gwynns parade of pomp and show,

Left Gwynn abandoned on the Tor through wind and snow.

 

Strange masked face at the ball,

For nothing is ever at all what you think you see,

Watch out for ‘pixie trickery!’

 

Glastonbury draws ‘cosmic cadets,’

‘kaleidoscopic travellers,’

pagan princesses’ and ‘psychadelic faeries ‘(to name but a few).

 

Let us not forget to live in honour by stone,sea,leaf and tree..

What glitters most dances upon the sea,

In a droplet of dew lives aworld of endless possibility,

What glitters most are the waves of your soul,

Beating against your heart-shore to make you whole…

 

So do not be bought by these trinkets of a false spirituality,

Watch the mindless beaurocracy fall,

Replace it with something more beautiful,more natural,more magical.……

 

Share the ‘nectar of inspiration,’

Smoke that ‘pipe of peace,’

May the greed and destruction come to cease!

For you see all that glitters isn’t truly gold…

 

Be warned of ‘the glamourie’,

Don’t get burnt like the moth travelling to the light,

Be ,instead in your gold of pure delight..

Reach, ever-reaching back to stone, sea, leaf and tree..

Go beyond, far beyond ‘the glamourie’.

 

Dive into this moment, it’s already here!

Live a life of freedom, without the fear,

(Say the wise ones of today and yesteryear.)

 

Fill yourself with that golden light of you

In your own golden light be true.

To be me is far beyond ‘the glamourie’.

 

For we are the harmony, the harmony  is us,

It lives in the lovers first and last embrace,

In our most silent ‘heart space’.

For you do not need ‘the glamourie,’

just ….

b r e a t h e ….

For the gold…

the real gold….

the true gold is …..

to have a heart of gold…..

 

(Finalist  poem in 2009 Bardic Finals of Ynys Witrin)

9° = 2° Magus

one of eleven pieces from my entry for the 2009 gorsedh (deputy bard year!) double acrostic in golden triads of olde english bang-bang-bang-crash style

9° = 2° Magus

THE CATACLYSMIC CROW’S ORIGINS
OUTLAST OLDER, OUTMODED NONPAREIL
NATURAL NESTLINGS’ NECROMANTIC TREMBLE

YAWNINGLY YOUTHFUL, THEY YEARN FOR AMORE
AS SYMMETRICAL SWAN SWEETHEARTS TRIP
THE LIGHT LAMPTASTIC, LUMINATING, YELLOW

KINGFISHER, KITSCH KIPPERTIE, IGUANA
INTIMATE INCANDESCENCE, ILLUMINATORY NAVEL
NOW PEACOCKS’ PATTERN PUZZLE’S GIVEN A KICK

SINCE UNIONS, AS UNICORNS, ARE UNIQUE IN EACH OUTCOME
OR CO-ADEPTS CAN CRYSTALLISE NONGENDER
NEEDLINGS, THOUGH, MUST NURTURE THE NUANCES OF THE SCARAB

CRIMSONLY, THE CONCUBUS CLIMBS DOWN FROM HIS REGALIA
REAUDITING THE AURICLE, THE AUGURAL ”HE ART” AND ”E AR”
AS PELICANS PLUNDER THEIR OWN PLUMAGE FOR THEIR CHILD

BE A PHAROS TO THE PHAOROAH OF REPHOENIXED EGO
EMBRYO ENHALOES THE ERSTWHILE ALOOF
AS SHAPESHIFTERS SHUN RETRIBU-SHUN! BEAMINGLY

RECALCITRANT CERRIDWEN’S CAULDRON FOR TALIESIN
TWINNED TEMERITY TO THE TWICEBORN’S HUMILITY
HOW THE SHININGBROW SHIMMERS AS SHOWTIME RESOUNDS

MY OWN MONKEY MISCHIEF IN ITS OVERFLOW
OUTWHEELS THE OUROBORUS, AS ONENESS TO ALL NUCLEI –
NON-SEQUITURS’ NONSENSICAL NON-ENTITY IS MISS-MAINTENANT

KEY TO THE KINGDOM OF KINDOM IS THE ELIXIR
EACH GOLDHAWK IS GOADING HOW GOLDEN’S THEIR YOGI
YIELDING FROM THE YOKING OF YINYANG, BECAME! (KNOWN)

© Tony Atkinson

Open Gorsedh 2009

All that glisters posterThe Bardic Chair was contested in 2009 by several local poets, storytellers and musicians, with opening heats at Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, each contestant performing for up to 15 minutes on the given theme, chosen by the outgoing Bard.

Dearbhaile BradleyDearbhaile calling upon the Awen to open proceedings.

All that glisters is not gold

The Open Gorsedd attracted many outstanding performers and entertainers as well as visiting Bards and Druids from other orders. Entries were based on the theme – “All that glisters is not gold”.


The Contenders

Amanda GazidisAmanda made a powerful debut

Daru McAleeceDaru shocked and cajoled us with his poetic storytelling

David ReakesDavid warmed our hearts with his piece Little Golden Children EstebanEsteban sang a selection of exquisite songs Tony AtkinsonTony defied the laws of grammarye with 9° = 2° Magus Wes WhiteWes entertained us with his “The Great Global Gowk-Hunt”


The Entertainment

Bryan

Badly Housebound Girl Badly Housebound Girl

Nathan Nathan Lewis Williams

Pete Pete

Stevie P Steve Potier

and Willow Willow Seeger

New Members and Initiates of the Bardic College:

  • Wes White
  • Johanna van Fessem
  • Sheena Johnstone :: Lady of Avalon (2008)
  • Seano

Deliberations and Prizes

Judges deliberateThe panel deliberates …

TheoTheo announces the judges’ decision

Jo Waterworth receiving the TSMTDearbhaile and TSMTJo Waterworth wins the Tim Sebastion trophy


The Chairing

Tim and Silver BranchDavid ReakesTim explains the origins of Glastonbury’s Silver Branch

After a long and difficult discussion, the judges chose to chair David Reakes as the new Bard of Ynyswitrin and install Tony Atkinson as his deputy.

Photos: Barnaby J Hodges

The Gorsedh Circle

2009

I entered two poems in 2009 on the theme of “All that glisters is not gold”. Here they both are:

Crystallization

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love where I live,

But something about it has started to give.

I’m not one for biting the hand that feeds me,

But I think this town’s got a little bit greedy.

Something is rotten in Glastonburg, something is rank and smelly,

Or, to put it another way, there’s a dark Glast-underbelly.

And at the risk of getting all down on yo’ asses:

Mammon stalks Avalon with backstage passes

To all the emporia on the High Street,

Putting everything sacred through a till and a spread sheet.

Plastic effigies of the Green Man,

Piles of ceramic camper vans,

Shamanic talismans (made in Bristol),

Sandals and candles and crystals and crystals!

Yes I know, we’re the good guys, and we have to keep earning,

There’s no shame asking folk to mix spending with learning.

But there comes a point when enough is enough,

Do we need thirty shops selling all the same stuff?

Our High Street is still the best in the land

With the useful, the quirky the grubby and the grand

All rubbing shoulders in the huge melting pot

That is Glastonbury High Street. But it’s losing the plot.

Avalon shoes, Theo Ginn’s menswear,

Stationers, florists, Millers hardware:

All of these shops have lately been lost,

And if we’re not careful we’ll soon count the cost

Of our very own brand of homogenisation,

Where shop after shop offers no variation,

Not through Globalisation  –

But Crystallization!

I’ve seen a future, dismal and dark,

Where this whole town’s one big Crystallized Theme Park,

With no Starbucks, Gap or KFC,

Just Glastucky Fried Ethnicity.

Will the pet shop or Dickets join the ranks of the dead?

Or, heaven forfend, Burns the Bread?

(Though you can stuff the Banks, the greedy barbarians,

And the Butchers too cos I’m vegetarian.)

None will be spared, all are devoured,

As the town is re-branded Alton(ative) Towers.

And no single shop deserves any blame

Cos they’re all fantastic… but they’re all just the same!

Diversity is the spice of life,

So let’s keep our shopping as free from strife

As choosing our food at a picnic al fresco.

Oh, and one other thing: say “No” to Tesco’s!

So don’t get me wrong, I love where I live,

But something about it has started to give.

And I’ll end with a warning, if I may be so bold,

And say: All that Glasto’s may not be gold.

Little Golden Children

 

I am life, I am laughter,

I am breath and warmth and youth.

I am princess, I am daughter,

I am strength and love and truth.

I am running through the garden,

Past the fountains, past the vines,

Running headlong to my father

Brimming joy in heart and mind.

I ignore the court and courtiers,

With their business grand and great,

I am princess, I am daughter

And my father king awaits.

Never once have I awoken

Without greeting him like this,

Nothing uttered, nothing spoken

Just a celebration kiss.

As I near I see him standing,

Staring at his outstretched hands,

Mouth agape and eyes demanding

To be told. To understand.

But it’s such a glorious morning,

And I’m young and fleet and bold!

I ignore these tiny warnings,

I ignore the gleam of gold.

Golden food on golden table,

Golden bough on golden tree

Should have stopped me were they able

But momentum carries me

To my father’s warm embraces

And I’m there before he knows,

But there’s horror on the faces

Of the courtiers as we close.

And I hear a cry of anguish,

And I see my father’s pain

Showing torment beyond language,

Even as I start to change.

Time slows

Fingers tingle

Flesh glows

Blood mingles

Thickens

Sickens

This deadly

Alchemy

Re-arranging me

Feeling strange in me

Claiming me

Staining me

Stealing through me

Metal surges

Metal urges

Purges all feeling and thought

I am tempered and taught

Solid and wrought

Modified, commodified

Sold and bought

My heart beat broken, stolen,

One last metallic breath.

Silence is golden,

And so is death.

I am lifeless, I am slaughter,

I am breathless, cold and old.

I was princess, I was daughter,

Now I’m priceless, worthless gold.