Simmel Cake and Saint Judas

This morning, half watching a cookery show, I heard Mary Berry talking about how there were only 11 disciples on the Simmel cake.

The reason being that of course they would not allow a traitor such as Judas to decorate such an auspicious cake. That got me thinking and I looked back on a post I had made on a previous blog.

I think I may make a Simmel cake this week but with 12 apostles because Judas spoke to me.

Never mind the marzipan…

Saint Judas

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

James Wright

 Judas Iscariot c.1923, Sascha Schneider

The Feast of The Annunciation – March 25th

Je vous salue, Marie – Jean-Luc Godard (1985)

The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare
Through the hollow of an ear;
Wings beating about the room;
The terror of all terrors that I bore
The Heavens in my womb.

Had I not found content among the shows
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes
And gather all the talk?

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart’s blood stop
Or strikes a Sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?

*The Mother Of God by W. B. Yeats

Leda Atomica- Salvador Dali 1949

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

*Leda and the Swan by W.B. Yates

She had never been Much of a Seamstress

As some of you know I am a writer amongst other things, so I thought I’d share with you one of my Short Stories which has been recently – well last year – published by Mookychick.

Mookychick is on a Hiatus at the moment, but have a look around there is plenty to see there, as well as other one of my short stories, there is some fantastic poetry, articles on being a witch and a woman today.

Garm of Hounds

Skíðblaðnir best of boats;

Of all the gods is Óðinn the greatest,

And Sleipnir the best of steeds;

Bifröst of bridges, Bragi of skalds,

Hábrók of hawks, and Garm of hounds*

This is our rescue boy, Nathan, a Hound of fine upstanding….He’s been with us since July of last year,2020. He came to us in the Middle of what was a most horrendous Year for everyone… He was a true Gift , I believe, and was sent to help us through.

However I first posted this on my old site , Tales from the Under Gardener’s Lodge, and shared a picture of our much loved and much missed girl, Shea, sat on the doorstep watching the day go by. So I want to share a photo of her too.. She too was a rescue and was ‘given’ to us, we believe, by our Deity, again at a time of great personal loss. She too took us through the darktimes and brought much love and joy. We were blessed to have her.

* from Grimnismol, The Battle of Grimnir, The Poetic Edda, by Henry Adams Bellows, [1936]

All images ©Shullie H Porter 2015 -2021

Candlemass 2nd February

Bede records in his Reckoning of Time (A.D. 725) the use of candles at the Feast of Purification was common in his day.  (Latin Text)

O]n the feast of St Mary, the whole populace with the priests and ministers goes on procession through the churches and the city neighbourhoods, all singing devout hymns, and carrying in their hands burning candles given them by the bishop. As this good custom grew, it provided a model for the conduct of other feasts of the blessed Mother and perpetual Virgin as well, not in the five-year lustration of a worldly empire, but in the everlasting memory of the heavenly kingdom where, according to the parable of the wise virgins, all the elect shall go out to meet the Bridegroom, their King, with the lamps of their good deeds alight, and then shall enter into the heavenly city with Him. (Bede, The Reckoning of Time, Translation by Faith Wallis, Liverpool University Press, 1999 p. 49)

Ronald Hutton observed that the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2 gives ample reason for candles when the Christ child “was recognized there, according to the tale, by an old man called Simeon, who hailed him as the messiah of Israel and a Light to lighten the Gentiles.” (The Stations of the Sun, 1999:139)

Is there, in bowers of endless spring,
One known from all the seraph band
By softer voice, by smile and wing
More exquisitely bland!
Here let him speed: to-day this hallowed air
Is fragrant with a mother’s first and fondest prayer.

Only let Heaven her fire impart,
No richer incense breathes on earth:
“A spouse with all a daughter’s heart,”
Fresh from the perilous birth,
To the great Father lifts her pale glad eye,
Like a reviving flower when storms are hushed on high.

Oh, what a treasure of sweet thought
Is here! what hope and joy and love
All in one tender bosom brought,
For the all-gracious Dove
To brood o’er silently, and form for Heaven
Each passionate wish and dream to dear affection given.

Her fluttering heart, too keenly blest,
Would sicken, but she leans on Thee,
Sees Thee by faith on Mary’s breast,
And breathes serene and free.
Slight tremblings only of her veil declare
Soft answers duly whispered to each soothing prayer.

We are too weak, when Thou dost bless,
To bear the joy–help, Virgin-born!
By Thine own mother’s first caress,
That waked Thy natal morn!
Help, by the unexpressive smile, that made
A Heaven on earth around this couch where Thou wast laid.

John Keble

Matka Boska Gromniczna – Our Lady of Candlemass

Our Lady of Candlemas — The Polish legend relates that Mary, the Mother of God of the “Blessed Thunder Candle” (Matka Boska Gromniczna), watches over the people on cold February nights. With her thunder candle she wards off the ravenous pack and protects the peasants from all harm.

The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.

And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12 KJV.

Mikvah ©2006 Carol Buchman – oil on canvas, 48″x36″

All images and words unless otherwise stated are copyright to © Shullie H Porter 2014- 2021

Imbolc – The Feast of Brigid*

The Feast of Brigid

The red-haired girl draws milk
in a pail from the earth.

The earth is a spotted cow
with teats that are geysers
and anthills and rotten logs.

The red-haired girl
strokes and strokes
the dark soil.

When the milk rises in spurts
she catches its arc of white froth
to give out to visitors.

At the gate of the farm
the world holds out its hand,
while in a field rimed with frost

the first snowdrop toddles from the ground. *

All images and words unless otherwise stated are copyright to © Shullie H Porter 2014- 2021

*© poem, The Feast of Brigid – Jill Hammer –  Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Volume 22, Number 1, Spring, 2006 , pp. 75-82 | 10.1353/jfs.2006.0009

9th January Raud the Strong’s Day

9th January is Raud the Strong`s Day. or Rauðr inn rammi 

The Wild Hunt by Peter Nicolai Arbo 1872

Raud was a Norse Seidr Priest who, in the late 10th century refused to convert to Christianity.  

His story and his deeds are found in a number of Sagas. The first one is Oddr Snorrason an Icelandic Benedictine monk from around the late 12th century, the second is from the the Heimskringla (The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway) by Snorri Sturluson (early 13th century)

‘There was a bonde, by name Raud the Strong, who dwelt in Godey in Salten fjord. Raud was a very rich man, who had many house servants; and likewise was a powerful man, who had many Fins in his service when he wanted them. Raud was a great idolater, and very skillful in witchcraft,….‘ (Heimskringla – chapter 5- 85-87)

The last is a Saga that mixes Snorri’s history with other from Sagas and tales from the early 14th century. However, all of the Sagas agree on the basic frame of the story. 

Odin and the Prophetess by Emil Doepler (1900)

King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway  ( 995 to 1000 CE) had demanded that the all of his citizens should be baptised into the Christian faith. 

While many reluctantly agreed under fear of torture and execution, Raud did not. 

Raud was also a respected sea-farer, and has a long ship that was known as the ‘The Dragon’ or ‘The Serpent’ .  This ship had a large Dragon head carved into it’s bow. 

When Raud refused he escaped from Tryggvason, by taking his long ship and out running Tryggvason.  Raid made his way back to his own settlement in Gylling and Haering,  part of the Godey Isles . 

Tryggvason sailed under cover of darkness to Godey and seized Raud from his bed.  When Raud would not agree to convert, Tryggvason executed Raud by making him swallow a snake or serpent. 

But the serpent would not go in, so Tryggvason ordered that a horn and red hot iron  be used to force the serpent in.  Eventually the serpent was forced down into Rauds stomach where it ate it’s way out and killed him  . 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about Tryggvason and Raud the Strong in his Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863), Part First, The Musician’s Tale; The Saga of King Olaf X. Raud the Strong.

Far north in the Salten Fiord
By rapine, fire and sword
Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
All the Godoe Isles belong
To him and his heathen horde…

With rites that we both abhor
He worships Odin and Thor
So it cannot yet be said
That all the old gods are dead
And the warlocks are no more…

The reason for his execution was that Raud had refused to give up ‘Asatru‘, a belief in the ancient gods of Scandinavia .  

After his execution Tryggvason confiscated all of Raud`s land and  wealth, including his distinctive Dragon/ Serpent headed long ship. 

Viking Dragon Ship
Source: Manuscript, Northumbia, England, 900s CE

According to legend, this is how the Viking long boats got their distinctive shape.

So on the 9th January many followers of the Heathen (Asatru) faith will show their respect and honour Raud by raising a horn in his honour.  

The legend of Raud also lives on in an historical play, Ragnhilds Drøm, that is performed around the 9th near Godøy 

Poster of the play Ragnhilds Drøm from 2014

All images and words unless otherwise stated are copyright to © Shullie H Porter 2014- 2021

December 8: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Shake dreams from your hair
My pretty child, my sweet one.
Choose the day and
choose the sign of your day
The day’s divinity
First thing you see.
A vast radiant beach
in a cool jeweled moon
Couples naked race down by it’s quiet side
And we laugh like soft, mad children
Smug in the woolly cotton brains of infancy
The music and voices are all around us.
Choose, they croon, the Ancient Ones
The time has come again
Choose now, they croon,
Beneath the moon
Beside an ancient lake
Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream
Come with us
Everything is broken up and dances.

Young Women Going to a Procession
Jules Breton


No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day –
No sky – no earthly view –
No distance looking blue –
No road – no street – no ‘t’other side the way’ –
No end to any Row –
No indications where the Crescents go –
No top to any steeple –
No recognitions of familiar people –
No courtesies for showing ’em –
No knowing ’em –
No travelling at all – no locomotion,
No inkling of the way – no notion –
‘No go’ – by land or ocean –
No mail – no post –
No news from any foreign coast –
No Park – no Ring – no afternoon gentility –
No company – no nobility –
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, –

by Thomas Hood

All Images © Shullie H Porter  2019-2020 and cannot be used or copied without permission.

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