Corpus Christi Carol aka Down In Yon Forest…

Corpus Christi Carol, a song that tends to wake you up and make you go “WTF?”

Whence listening passively to Christmas music and suddenly hearing lyrics about sentient falcons, mysterious lovers, purple gowns, strange abandoned hallways and wounded knights abandoned on tabletops…what kind of Christmas Carol is THIS?

It is technically only a “Carol” in the sense that it is a sacred hymn. The text itself has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with the Fisher King legend. Beautiful, Apocryphal and a gorgeous relic of mythical mystery.

An ancient medieval hymn/carol. Passed down through the ages as “Down In Yon Forest,” an English (and Appalachian?) folk ballad which grew heavier on the “Jesus love” and lighter on the weird death and rebirth and mystical wound elements across the centuries but pretty much held on to its essential weirdness.

Popularized in the pre and post World War II era, as a young, ambitious 19 year old composer named Benjamin Britten penned a work called “A Boy Is Born” and included a version of the Carol.

Popularized AGAIN when Jeff Buckley  recorded a haunting and archaic sounding version on his album, Grace.

Here is some more in depth examination, for your perusual:

https://historienerrant.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/down-in-yon-forest-a-song-about-christmas-easter-and-probably-the-holy-grail/

http://chantblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/corpus-christi-carol-faucon-hath-born.html

It is, and shall always be, a beautifully odd and anachronistic relic of Arthurian genesis. Also, it’s lovely and I want to sing it soon.

 

Myth Of The Day: Sunshowers and Fox Weddings

A rain shower during sunshine, which many cultures call “the devil’s rain” or “the devil beating his wife,” is known in Japan as “the fox’s bride going to her husband’s house.”

It is not only a myth told and retold, but a yearly seasonal ritual ceremony that happens every October, even still.

Once upon a time there was a young white fox, whose name was Fukuyémon. When he had reached the fitting age, he shaved off his forelock and began to think of taking to himself a beautiful bride. The old fox, his father, resolved to give up his inheritance to his son, and retired into private life; so the young fox, in gratitude for this, laboured hard and earnestly to increase his patrimony. Now it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there was a beautiful young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of her jewel-like charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox, who had heard of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting was arranged between them. There was not a fault to be found on either side; so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent from the bridegroom to the bride’s house, with congratulatory speeches from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary fee in copper cash.

When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen for the bride to go to her husband’s house, and she was carried off in solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining all the while.* After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded, without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.

The bride and bridegroom lived lovingly together, and a litter of little foxes were born to them, to the great joy of the old grandsire, who treated the little cubs as tenderly as if they had been butterflies or flowers. “They’re the very image of their old grandfather,” said he, as proud as possible. “As for medicine, bless them, they’re so healthy that they’ll never need a copper coin’s worth!”

As soon as they were old enough, they were carried off to the temple of Inari Sama, the patron saint of foxes, and the old grand-parents prayed that they might be delivered from dogs and all the other ills to which fox flesh is heir.

In this way the white fox by degrees waxed old and prosperous, and his children, year by year, became more and more numerous around him; so that, happy in his family and his business, every recurring spring brought him fresh cause for joy.

(From Tales of Old Japan, by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford.)

Duamutef

From Wikipedia, a link that comforts me greatly….

The four sons of Horus were a group of four gods in Egyptian religion, who were essentially the personifications of the four canopic jars, which accompanied mummified bodies.[1] Since the heart was thought to embody the soul, it was left inside the body.[2] The brain was thought only to be the origin of mucus, so it was reduced to liquid, removed with metal hooks, and discarded.[3] This left the stomach (and small intestines), liver, large intestines, and lungs, which were removed, embalmed and stored, each organ in its own jar. There were times when embalmers deviated from this scheme: during the 21st Dynasty they embalmed and wrapped the viscera and returned them to the body, while the Canopic jars remained empty symbols.[1]

The earliest reference to the sons of Horus the Elder is found in the Pyramid Texts[4] where they are described as friends of the king, as they assist the king in his ascension to heaven in the eastern sky by means of ladders.[5] Their association with Horus the Elder specifically goes back to the Old Kingdom when they were said not only to be his children but also his souls. As the king, or Pharaoh was seen as a manifestation of, or especially protected by, Horus, these parts of the deceased pharaoh, referred to as the Osiris, were seen as parts of Horus, or rather, his children,[6] an association that did not diminish with each successive pharaoh.

Since Horus was their father, so Isis, Horus’s original wife in the early mythological phase, was usually seen as their mother, althoughHathor was also believed to be their mother,[7] though in the details of the funerary ritual each son, and therefore each canopic jar, was protected by a particular goddess. Others say their mother was Serket, goddess of medicine and magic. Just as the sons of Horus protected the contents of a canopic jar, the king’s organs, so they in turn were protected. As they were male in accordance with the principles of male/female duality their protectors were female.

  • Imsety – human form – direction South – protected the liver – protected by Isis.
  • Duamutef – jackal form – direction East – protected the stomach – protected by Neith.
  • Hapi – baboon form – direction North – protected the lungs – protected by Nephthys.
  • Qebehsenuef – hawk form – direction West – protected the intestines – protected by his mother Serket.[8][9]

The classic depiction of the four sons of Horus on Middle Kingdom coffins show Imsety and Duamutef on the eastern side of the coffin and Hapi and Qebehsenuef on the western side. The eastern side is decorated with a pair of eyes and the mummy was turned on its side to face the east and the rising sun; therefore, this side is sometimes referred to as the front. The sons of Horus also became associated with the cardinal compass points, so that Hapi was the north, Imsety the south, Duamutef the east and Qebehsenuef the west.[10] Their brother was Ihy, son of Hathor.

Until the end of the 18th Dynasty the canopic jars had the head of the king, but later they were shown with animal heads.[2] Inscriptions on coffins and sarcophagi from earliest times showed them usually in animal form.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_sons_of_Horus

River (Revised)

sometimes she’s Persephone

or just another Ophelia floating in the river

and everything given is a prayer left unanswered

the only words left are empty metaphors

sounds of a ragged heartbeat

and a song that will lose its meaning

every morning the Promethean heart regenerates

poised on its sleeve for the daily breaking

down by the river’s edge she waits for a reason

and flirts with inevitable endings

sometimes you have to die a time or two

to remember what it hurts like to live

heart stopped on a doorstop

by half moon light and fire on the mountain

burn the ghost into a memory

follow it down to the river’s edge…

Corvus the Crow

The Crow has a reputation not just as a harbinger of destiny and a mythical gossip, but as the prototypical divine procrastinator.

In the myth of the constellation of Corvus, the sacred Crow gets distracted by some unripe figs on his way to fetch water for Apollo and ends up waiting months for them to ripen before eating his fill, then remembering his task. He blames his delay not on his own  distractable nature, but instead accuses Hydra the water serpent of blocking his path and so is punished by the god. Corvus loses his silver white feathers which are changed to soot and is placed  in the stars within eternal reach of a cup he cannot drink from except when the figs are ripe.

In the lore of Saint Expeditus, the Devil came to tempt the saint into procrastination by taking  the form of a crow crying “Cras, Cras” or “Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” The saint resisted and can be appealed to to conquer the sins of distraction, tardiness and delay.

Gwenhwyfar lived to be old, Elaine did not…

…and the girls we once were float down the River to time and go under. Drowned, we all assume.

But then again…lots of unexplained, feminine looking, sword brandishing hands emerging from the misty waters in these stories…had to have come from somewhere, originally…it’s not as though they ever found the bodies…dead is not always so very dead in faery tales…

Strange dreams and disrupted R.E.M. Sleep as a direct result of bizarre Jungian reading material…

Found a copy of a book I read when I was 17 or thereabouts. I remember the gist of it, but none of the actual story.

Forgot what an esoteric MythoLiterary Geek I used to be…

I asked for an Oxford Unabridged dictionary for Christmas when I was 15 and improvised a TV Tray podium for it and the purloined single volume patent leather bound Complete Works of Shakespeare that I had snuck off the family reference shelf to read for fun in moments of idle brooding.

I used to keep a photocopied black and white portrait of Percy Shelley in my notebook the way most teenage girls pin up bubblegum idols. Ask Lizzie. Lizzie was way more Lord Byron. Coincidentally, or maybe notsomuch, Bowie around that time did a short film for the “Blue Jean” extended video in which he played a character called “Screaming Lord Byron.”

The fish ate Shelley’s face. That’s how he died, or rather he drowned in Italy, but by the time they found his body the fish had eaten his face. It seemed important to us at the time, but of course by then he’d have been long dead anyway…

La Loteria…

I’ve just randomly discovered that those eerie images one sees on Downtown area folkart matchbooks and wooden ladder games does indeed have a history…You know, the images of “The Mermaid” and “El Diablo” and “El Corazon?” The official name is Loteria and it’s yet another example of wild and uncultivated mythology echoing Appalachian English Folk Songs or the African pantheons in Santeria

Loteria is one among many semi-ancient traditions still alive in Mexico by way of long journeys through history, migration and traditional lore. It is part Tarot, part “bingo” game and part esoteric mystery cult. The cards are the symbolic answers to riddles or rather the question to each answer, like a Jeapordy game hosted by the Sphynx…

A guide to Loteria Riddles
Examples:
“The Blanket of the Poor” equals The Sun
“He that sang to St. Peter will not return to sing again” is The Rooster

There’s not a lot out on the web re the deeper meaning of all this, but being who I am I am of course about to go all Robert Graves on it and traverse the wilds of the electronic frontier to delve into the history and meaning of it all. Armchair Mythologists of the world unite and take over…

..

Currently listening :
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
By Neutral Milk Hotel
Release date: 1998-02-10

La Loteria…

I’ve just randomly discovered that those eerie images one sees on Downtown area folkart matchbooks and wooden ladder games does indeed have a history…You know, the images of “The Mermaid” and “El Diablo” and “El Corazon?” The official name is Loteria and it’s yet another example of wild and uncultivated mythology echoing Appalachian English Folk Songs or the African pantheons in Santeria

Loteria is one among many semi-ancient traditions still alive in Mexico by way of long journeys through history, migration and traditional lore. It is part Tarot, part “bingo” game and part esoteric mystery cult. The cards are the symbolic answers to riddles or rather the question to each answer, like a Jeapordy game hosted by the Sphynx…

A guide to Loteria Riddles
Examples:
“The Blanket of the Poor” equals The Sun
“He that sang to St. Peter will not return to sing again” is The Rooster

There’s not a lot out on the web re the deeper meaning of all this, but being who I am I am of course about to go all Robert Graves on it and traverse the wilds of the electronic frontier to delve into the history and meaning of it all. Armchair Mythologists of the world unite and take over…

..

Currently listening :
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
By Neutral Milk Hotel
Release date: 1998-02-10