Glastonbury's Bardic College

The Trollimoste-Gumbell

The Trollimoste- Gumbell dids’t lumberode forth
To espy, whereupon he coulds’t fathom.
He perused a course of Westerly-North
’til he chanced on the Uppermost Lathom.

Oh dearest Lathom“, the Trollimoste said,
Pray what is the secret of greatness…?
And the Lathom replied –
In the Trollimoste’s head –
Sliced bread, and a penchant for lateness“.

The Trollimoste-Gumbell dids’t whiffle away
With a dose of Great-Ego-Inflatus,
And he said to himself
Therefore, to be great
I’ll eat bread and be known for me lateness“.

Several years passed –
Neither slowly nor fast,
And the Trollimoste kept to his vigil.
But no greatness became,
Nor fortune, nor fame,
Though he dids’t meets a Trollimoste-Girgil.

So once more our drear Trollimoste lumberade forth –
Great riddle forto unrathom,
He perused that old course –
One of Westerly-North
’til he chanced upon said Lathom.

Oh dearest Lathom“, the Trollimoste sighed,
Pray, why’m I not great, just like you…?”
And the Lathom replied
That’s b’cause I lied, 
But you took silly words at face value“.

And the moral to this sordiest tale…?
Don’t be like the Trollimoste-Gumbell.
When conversing whith Lathoms
– By word OR by tail –
Don’t try to be great
Just be


They asked me “was I ready?”


I, who have been beyond the nine keyless doors

beyond nine gates, nine veils,

beyond the mirthless, shining eye,

crept through the constricting labyrinths of earth,

gazed fearless through the skrying-cup of rebirth…


And now they hang me up

by one foot

from the dread and battling tree.

Pain, as

the hook of the heavens stretches me to the distant stars and

Hertha, below, reaches tenderly towards my skull.


No sister, I am not yours yet.


Alone I hang,

A shuddering bait for the Gods

so cold,

and now the

Queen is arriving.

Made of fracturing ice and the

still-coursing blood of her


Bring her on!

She is riding

and gaining behind me swinging her furs

hooves ricochet rock and thunder the howl of her dogs, her court

and company full-tilt screech and rage, stench of rotting pelts, thunder louder,


my empty stomach contracts

yellow-eyed wall of deafening dogs and hooves towards my hanging form in an impossibly straight line,

white their skin

and steel their teeth,

to rip me apart and

my soul and

they pass

straight through me,

racing on to the white horizon,

a hunting horn shrills


and they vanish.


Floating, empty

in my cocoon.

Swung and twisted by the winds of form.

Washed free by the rains of my heart,

Stung by the sunlight of shame.


Numb, the roar of rooks above.


As bait, I hang

a hollowed fruit impaled

by a black winter branch

As bait for the Gods,

my dead boy’s face.

As bait, I hang

the scent of bluebells and tears.

As bait for the Gods,

a golden crown.

As bait, I hang

my own heart beating, held in someone’s bloodied hands.

Myself to myself.


Light floods



Forms and forms take shape into


a language

a magic

a music


So many riches…

They cut me down

and birthed me back into the world

and then

they asked me ‘was I ready?’

I said for what?


The true initiation,

for that,

they said

was merely the trial.



be worthy of your gifts.

Open Gorsedh 2012

Initiaton Postergerry_the_bard 2012We’re thrilled to announce that Gerry Barnett won the 2012 contest for the Bardic Chair to become the 7th Bard of Ynys Witrin. The Crown went to Harmony and the Fool’s Hat was presented to Richard Field. The Judges decided to award the Tim Sebastion Memorial Trophy to Nathan Lewis Williams for his work in “the elevation of the word” and Tara was accepted as Younger Bard of Ynys Witrin for 2012.

The Circle of new members10 new Bards were initiated at the Open Gorsedh ceremony, so we welcome Richard Field, Denise Michell, Gerry Barnett, Lokabandu, Carol, Stuart Packer, Morag of he Moor, David Muir, Andy and Daygan into the fold. Honorary Bardships were also awarded to Pok and Graham Coles (The Town Crier of Glastonbury) in recognition of their unique contributions to the community.

The Chairing of the new bardWith 14 contenders in the Trials, this was the biggest contest we’ve held so far and the standard of the entries was phenomenal. Thank you to everyone who took part and contributed to making it happen!

tales from the seven seas

Taut tomes
And vociferous volumes;
Tall tales
And magnificent epistles.
Each story unfolds
Both to the teller
And the recipient
In so many differing ways
And often,
That which may appear the same
Is so manifold in its manifestations
We would wonder
We were even on the same page…
Yet somehow, undercurrents of sense
And meaning and theme and denouements
Crash from turbulent and tepid tides
At once!
And all along myriad and multiple shores
The message comes in…
Just as it will go out again…
And these various waves
Of size and sound and writhing around
Envelope and succumb sense
And all the senses
To the point where
Losing each self
Means all’s not lost
As the swell will subside…
…Just as the void will rise
Once more.

© Tony Atkinson



You don’t hurt it

By doing in your brain

Lessed you should stress




Flowing flowing






For all your life

Someone, something, summing

Up whole selves till




Showing sHOWing






And above duty

When ALL has become STILL

(Must be out of your)



© Tony Atkinson, 2010


Here’s my tongue-in-cheek response to Wes’ Sucellus which made me wonder what it would be like to be Sucellus’ partner, Nantosuelta.  Sooo… A Celtic God and Goddess go on a first date –


When Sucellus first came to me, a mighty hammer hefted he
“Your symbol is a pallusy” I quipped, “unless you wield it expertly.”
He winked, I blinked. He stripped: bare as butter with a beard.
“Drink?” My patera, being wet, I proffered nicely, when shyly
he paused, “You’ll have to put down the bees,” he breathed.

“Why?” Queried I, “For my honey-drizzled hive provides remedy
for happenstances occurred by the raven ‘neath my left knee.”
He blinked, I winked. He bit his lip: bold as barley’s grizzled ears
“I have been down below, before!” He scored, ‘My olla stores my seed!”
Wildly he splashed his chest, libation, lubrication, all of mead
– and so wildly did we do the deed, that from us each rose galaxies.


patera –  ‘a broad, shallow dish used for drinking, primarily in a ritual context such as a libation’

olla  –  ‘a round pot’

Solstice Fire

Solstice Fire

In deep waters of solstice
beneath the sun’s fire
you will bathe

Between lake velvet surface
and epiphany of sky
lay yourself wide,
like a calm sacrifice
float so precisely between worlds
on the hairline crack of
crepuscular dusk and star shattered night.
Our lady of the lake
will tend your flame
on this day of alchemical light.

Who will bathe with her?
Who will bathe with her?
You who wander barefoot, lonely;
wayfarers of Life’s innner sanctum
You who traverse the furthermost shores
of soul that won’t sleep
heart that won’t die
rising and fading with midsummer sun,
leaving and returing with the
turning of the wheel.
Step bone naked into her waters
lagoon blue and virginal
bathe until splayed
to love’s tender cosmology
and the scrutiny of stars

As her burning sun,  globe of white-fire
hits the water, alchemising the deep
bathe and submurge in the sweet elixier
newborn emerge
baptised of face
And sing in new worlds,
dream lost horizons
cultivate this harvest of light –
paradise regained!
wholeness reclaimed!
The birth of the searchless,
the fruit of our earth’s quest.
The coming of age.


These are the lyrics to the song “Twilight Zone” which we played at the Gorsedh Final night. It is about how, as children, we think we can communicate telepathically with our closest friends and/or loved ones. Do we unlearn this sort of ability or did we never really have it in the first place? I have seen enough in my life to believe that children are psychic and receptive to extraordinary stimuli in ways that most adults never are…:


Even as I sit here

Yes, I hear, I hear you call

And even though I wonder why

It feels so wonderful;

Even though it sounds strange

I almost see the invisible

And even though we’re far apart

It’s not so impossible…


















Even as we tumble

No-one else can hear us fall

And even though we’re screaming

We’re still barely audible;

Even if we’re dreaming

It’s still unexplainable

And even as we breathe

We share the unbelievable…


© Tony Atkinson

Lost Sisters

You maidens with thistle-down blown in your hair
Fiery-eyed sisters, travellers fair
Blown a long lonely distance, to lands strange and wide
Searching for happiness, seeking to hide
From a heart torn and troubled, from the justice of fools
From a life with no passion, where the chained spirit crawls
Pulled onward forever, by invisible thread
And the dreams of new wonders that dance in your head
Adventure may wait just beyond every hill
As you reach the next valley, it calls to you still

Or simply to roam on the mother’s green land
Without care or confinement by any man’s hand
To idly wander, to go and to come
To talk to the trees and to answer to none
To find the way back to original freedom
Eve walks all alone now, returning to Eden
So come my dear sisters, come tell me your tales
I’ll keep them all safe ’till the last sunbeam pales
‘Till the light fades and dies, on the very last day
Within me the myth of each sister shall stay
From these stories I’ll spin strands of wisdom to bind us
When our souls wander lost to connect and remind us
So come wandering hither and rest by my side
Round the warmth of my fire life’s hardships confide
Tell to me true of the journey’s unfolding
Speak softly of sadness you’re wearily holding
Tell gladly of sweet twists and turns in the path
Of happy encounters, and together we’ll laugh
Between every soul common threads we will see
And I’ll stroke your tired head, as it rests on my knee
And soon you will know that no fate need be feared
When you feel yourself one
With the Web of the Wyrd


He strikes well. Hard and keen and on the mark. The target responds accordingly: it reverberates. It is flattened. It crumbles. It moves. It dies. It comes to life.

Tomorrow, he has told us, he is going up with his dog to hit the peak of the mountain. He will take a sip from his saucer of mead, and then bend his knees as he raises his arms and his hammer over his head, until its peen rests on the slope behind him. The bristles of his beard will shiver in the air and under his breath, as he savours the taste of the liquor on his tongue. His dog’s tongue will pant, out of its mouth, on the mountainside.

And then he – Sucellus – will take a deep breath in, and an action that will start in that breath will move through his chest and his shoulders; will be sustained in his elbows and in the hammer itself, as it moves in a round arc to meet the mountain.

And the Earth will sing like a drum. And I don’t know what will happen then. It will flatten, it will crumble, it will move, it will die. It will come to life.

Bridie – the bright one

Bridie – the bright one

(written in Dearbhalie’s Awen)


In the beginning there was light and only light.  True light. Peace that passeth all understanding. The burning heart of the father.  All that was… was all that was… and all that ever could be.  The light contained alpha and omega, up and down; in and out: father mother lover sister brother, truth forever and ever. 

In one unseen moment, all that was desired to know itself. How desire arose in such luminosity, we will never know. Light deisred to look upon its own glory; to caress another as pure, as guilless, as brilliant…  And so it split in two.  And broke its own heart.  

In that second; worlds aeons and universes came into being… realms beyond imagining.  From the lightest dimensions of song and touch, of rainbow refracted dreaming dance – to the lowest hell relams of darkest debauched grasping at otherness… beasts and demons tearing flesh from one another in the insatiable quest for wholeness. 

Only one remembered.  Brigid; goddess of the sun.  And she, also containing the cool waters and healing power of the moon.  The one who could re-unite the fractured pieces: sooth and succour, inspire and inflame… and call the lost children home. So Brigid, on the back of her swan, in full knowing and awakening, her crown open to the crystaline essence of truth, went into the world.  She was ll things to all people; maiden, mother, lover, friend, provocateur, instigator, crone.  Comfort to the lonely.  Fire to the weak. In her we would see our own true face reflected. But she would only come to the meak.  Those willing to sacrifice selfish gain for freedom. Those with hearts pure enough to lie with then lamb.    

So eons passed. Fires and wars ravaged the world.  People fought and made love and made objects; built towers and banks and systems of governance…and tore them down again.  And finally a few were tired. They became meak.  They lay down in the field and stopped ploughing.  They stopped their desparate struggle for more.  They said: there must be another way.  And they called upon Brigid.   Luminescent she came on the wing of her diamond bright swan.  So dazzling, they could not gaze upon her. And she said to them:

”You never left.  For all that you felt you were parted from your god in heaven; that you fell from grace… and you called to him, and you cried for him. You never left.

Lay down your ploughts, sickles and scythes…stop trying. Lay down your arms,  swords and whips and tanks; your burning bridges and falling towers.  Surrender it all.  Be as children. ”

And they fell before Bridged – the bright one- hearing what she said was true.  And each skull cracked open, surrendering lotus petalled to the light of the swans wing.  And each heart cracked open surrendering to the firey panacea of perfect life – the hearth – the centre of the being where all is reconciled.

And the sun and moon were joined in unison.

Otherness was banished.

And all sang together, one voice, in truth.