Beltane Chase: Fith Fath song

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The text was written by Paul Huson in his “Mastering Witchcraft” – 1970 inspired by the Scottish ballad “The Twa  Magicians“: Fith Fath is a enchantment of concealment or transmutation, in this lyrics it is the seasonal cycle of transmutations. Caitlin Matthews added a melody in 1978. Today the song is considered a traditional one.

The ritual of the Love chase was to be typical in Beltane when the Queen of May or the Goddess Maiden and the King of May, the Green Man was united to renew the life and fertility of the Earth: still in the Middle Age the boys dressed in green like forest elves ventured into the greenwood (the sacred wood), playing a horn so the girls could find them. Or they turned into hunters and followed magical transmutations with their prey.

Beltane Fire Festival: Green Man and the May Queen

Caitlin Matthews 
Damh The Bard from Herne’s Apprentice – 2003

Pixi Morgan

I shall go as a wren(1) in Spring
With sorrow and sighing on silent wing(2)
I shall go in our Lady’s name
Aye till I come home again
Then we shall follow as falcons grey
And hunt thee cruelly for our prey
And we shall go in our Horned God’s name(3)
Aye to fetch thee home again
Then I shall go as a mouse in May
Through fields by night and in cellars by day.
Then we shall follow as black tom cats
And hunt thee through the fields and the vats.
Then I shall go as an Autumn hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care. (4)
Then we shall follow as swift greyhounds/ And dog thy steps with leaps and bounds
Then I shall go as a Winter trout
With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt.
Then we shall follow as otters swift
And bind thee fast so thou cans’t shift

1) The Gaelic name “Druidh dhubh” translates as “bird druid” also called “Bran’s sparrow” (the god of prophecy). Sacred animal whose killing was considered taboo and a bearer of misfortune, but not during the time of Yule. In his book “The White Goddess”, Robert Graves explains that in the Celtic tradition, the struggle between the two parts of the year is represented by the struggle between the king holly (or mistletoe), -the nascent year- and the king oak -the dying year. At the winter solstice the king holly wins over the king oak, and vice-versa for the summer solstice. In oral tradition, a variant of this fight is represented by the robin and the wren, hidden between the leaves of the two respective trees. The wren represents the waning year, the robin the new year and the death of the wren is a passage of death-rebirth. see more 
2) the mystery can not be revealed in words: the initiatory path is accomplished and once understood it is not possible to express.
3) the Horned God is a syncretic sum of ancient deities represented with horns and symbols of fertility and abundance (Celtic Cernunnos and Greek-Roman divinities Pan and Dionysus). According to some scholars, this deity was the pagan alternative of the Christian God, to whom those who remained anchored to the old traditions continued to pay veneration, in short, the ideal candidate for the figure of the Devil! But in my opinion it was been the Christian fanaticism to flatten and standardize all the other cults in a single devilish cult.
The idea of ​​the Horned God developed in the occult circles of France and England in the nineteenth century and his first modern depiction is that of Eliphas Levi of 1855, but it was Margaret Murray in “The Witch-cult in Western Europe”, 1921 to build the thesis of a unique pagan cult that survived the advent of Christianity. This theory, however, is not supported by rigorous documentation and certainly we can find the persistence up to the modern age of cults or beliefs present in various parts of Europe attributable to religion towards the Ancient Gods. Many of these beliefs were absorbed into Christianity and finally fought as diabolical when it was not possible to incorporate them into the new cult.
According to the Wicca tradition, the God is born at the Winter solstice, marries the Goddess to Beltane and dies at the Summer Solstice being the masculine principle equivalent to the triple lunar Goddess that governs life and death.


4) Similarly Isobel Gowdie, tried for witchcraft in 1662 in Scotland reveals to his torturers the formula of a Fith Fath
I sall gae intil a haire,
Wi’ sorrow and sych and meikle care;
And I sall gae in the Devillis name,
Ay quhill I com hom againe.
Much has been written about witches, especially on the great witch-hunt that took place on the two sides of the Christian religion one step away from the “Century of Enlightenment” and not in the dark Middle Ages. Symptom of a cultural change that will shake the “certainties” of the Western religion. Witches or sorcerers have always existed, they are those who use magic, who can see beyond the material accidents and undertake a journey of research and ancient knowledge. Obscene it was been what Catholics and Protestants did in their “struggle” for power, to annihilate those who were seen as a threat to the True Faith: a bloody struggle of religion that has exacerbated the boundaries of tolerance.


Fith Fath is a spell of concealment or transmutation. It is reported and described in the book “Carmina Gadelica” by Alexander Carmicheal (vol II, 1900)
“They are applied to the occult power which rendered a person invisible to mortal eyes and which transformed one object into another. Men and women were made invisible, or men were transformed into horses, bulls, or stags, while women were transformed into cats, hares, or hinds. These transmutations were sometimes voluntary, sometimes involuntary. The ‘fīth-fāth’ was especially serviceable to hunters, warriors, and travellers, rendering them invisible or unrecognisable to enemies and to animals.” (from here)

English translation*
FATH fith(1)
Will I make on thee,
By Mary(2) of the augury,
By Bride(3) of the corslet,
From sheep, from ram,
From goat, from buck,
From fox, from wolf,
From sow, from boar,
From dog, from cat,
From hipped-bear,
From wilderness-dog,
From watchful ‘scan,'(4)
From cow, from horse,
From bull, from heifer,
From daughter, from son,
From the birds of the air, (5)
From the creeping things of the earth,
From the fishes of the sea,
From the imps of the storm.

FATH fith

Ni mi ort,
Le Muire na frithe,
Le Bride na brot,
Bho chire, bho ruta,
Bho mhise, bho bhoc,
Bho shionn, ‘s bho mhac-tire,
Bho chrain, ‘s bho thorc,
Bho chu, ‘s bho chat,
Bho mhaghan masaich,
Bho chu fasaich,
Bho scan (4) foirir,
Bho bho, bho mharc,
Bho tharbh, bho earc,
Bho mhurn, bho mhac,
Bho iantaidh an adhar,
Bho shnagaidh na talmha,
Bho iasgaidh na mara,
‘S bho shiantaidh na gailbhe

* translated by Alexander Carmicheal
1) “deer aspect”; in reality with the spell it is possible to change into any animal form.
The red deer is the animal par excellence of the woods, the coveted prey of hunting, but also mythological animal lord of the Wood and of the Rebirth. For the Celts of the Gauls Cernunnos was the god of fertility with antlers on his head, the animal equivalent of the spirit of wheat. Magic guide, messenger of the fairies, the deer (especially if white) is associated with the Great Mother (and the lunar goddesses) but also with Lug (the Celtic equivalent of a solar deity). As Lugh’s animal it represents the rising sun (with the horns equivalent to the rays) and so in Christianity it is the representation of Christ (or of the soul that yearns to God): it is the king Deer cyclically sacrificed to the Mother Goddess to ensure fertility of the earth. “I am the seven-stage stag” sings the bard Amergin and so the druid-shaman should be dressed during the rituals with horns and deer skins see more
2) Danu (or Anu) mother goddess of the waters. It was the time of primordial chaos: dry deserts and boiling volcanoes, it was the time of the great emptiness. Then from the dark sky a trickle of water fell on the earth and life began to blossom: from the ground grew the sacred tree and Danu (the goddess Mother), the water that descended from the sky, nourished it. From their union the Gods were born ..
Hypogeic waters, labyrinthine caves, spring waters but also river running waters were the sites of prehistoric and protohistoric worship throughout Europe. In particular for the Keltoi Danu was the Danube near whose springs their civilization was born. see more
3) The name derives from the root “breo” (fire): the fire of the blacksmith’s forge combined with that of artistic inspiration and the healing energy. Also known as Brighid, Brigit or Brigantia, she is the goddess of the triple fire, patron saint of blacksmiths, poets and healers. He bore the nickname Belisama, the “Shining” and was a Solar Goddess (near the Celts and the Germans the Sun was female). It was dedicated to her the End of Winter Festival which was celebrated in Celtic Europe at the Calends of February. It was the party of IMBOLC, the festival of the purification of the fields and of the house to mark the slow awakening of Nature.
4) nobody knows that animal is a vigilant explorer, surely a mistake of transcription of Carmicheal
5) follows an invocation of the three kingdoms, Nem (sky), Talam (Earth) Muir (sea) and or if we want world above, middle and below


With the invocation a magical fog it is materialized, that is the mist of Avalon (or Manannan), which acts as a means of transport to the Otherworld. The fog has a dual nature, of concealment and of passage. Another word for “fog”, in Irish origins, is féth fiadha which means “the art of resembling”. Both gods and druids can evoke magical fog as a means of communication between the two worlds. The divination was therefore the féth fiadha.
The prayer “Fath Fith” seems to be the invocation of the hunter to hide from his prey, but it was also used as a form of divination in a “threshold place” for the magical experience of space such as the river bank or the coast of the sea, the compartment of an access door to the building or a bridge. But also time like dawn and sunset which are neither day nor night nor the holy days that are on the border between the seasons.
In doing so you find yourself in a place that is a non-place that some call the opaque world.

The Tale of Ossian and the Fawn

Still Alexander Carmicheal always in the chapter of Fith Fath tells the meeting of the boy Oisin (Ossian) with his mother: Ossian is a legendary bard of ancient Scotland or Ireland, compared to Homer and Shakespeare, thanks to the alleged discovery of his poems in Scotland . His legends chase in Ireland, Isle of Man and Scotland, but his popularity only grew in the mid-1700s when James MacPherson wrote “The Songs of Ossian” claiming to have found his manuscripts and fragments in the Scottish Highlands, among them a epic poem about Fingal, the father, who said he had “simply” translated, actually inventing: the ossianic fashion flared up throughout Europe giving life to Romanticism. continua

According to this Scottish version, Oisin borned by Finn Mac Coll (Fionn Mac Cumhaill) and a mortal woman, but previously Finn had been the lover of a fairy that he had abandoned to marry the daughter of men; so the fairy for revenge made the spell of the “Fath Fith” on the human bride turning her into a hind that went away and shortly thereafter gave birth to Oisin (the little fawn) on the island of Sandray (Outer Hebrides) in the Loch-nan-ceall in Arasaig.
Now we must make a leap of time and resume the story at the time of Ossian’s childhood when he returned to live with his father and the rest of the Fianna. One fine day, as usual, the are a-chasing a majestic deer on the mountain, when a magical mist descended over them, causing them to separate and disperse.
So Ossian wandered without knowing where he was and found himself in a deep green valley surrounded by high blue mountains, when he saw a fawn so beautiful and graceful that he remained admired to look at her. But when the spirit of the hunt took over in him and he was about to hurl the spear, she turned to look him straight in his eye and said “Do not hurt me, Ossian,I am thy mother under the “fīth-fāth,” in the form of a hind abroad and in the form of a woman at home. Thou art hungry and thirsty and weary. Come thou home with me, thou fawn of my heart “And Ossian followed her and passed a door in the rock and as soon as they crossed the threshold, the door disappeared and while the hind changed into a beautiful woman dressed in green and with golden hair.
After feasting on his fill, refreshed by drinks and music and having rested for three days, Ossian wanted to return to his Fianna, so he discovered that the three days in the mound under the hill, was equivalent to three years on earth. Ossian then wrote his first song to warn the mother-hind to stay away from the hunting grounds of the Fianna: ‘Sanas Oisein D’a Mhathair (Ossian’s To-To-His-Mother) of which Carmicheal reports a dozen stanzas

Stanilaus Soutten Longley (1894-1966)-Autumn

third part 

“I misteri del druidismo” di Brenda Cathbad Myers

Hares on the Mountain with Sally the dear

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Cecil Sharp has collected nine different versions of the ballad “Hares on the Mountain”, a love hunt perhaps derived from “The Two Magicians
amorinoSome believe that the text was written by Samuel Lover (1797-1865) because he appears in his novel “Rory o ‘More”. But the theme of this love-hunting is antecedent and recalls an ancient initiation ritual if not a true enchantment of transformation (or concealment) fith fath.

Still popular in England, we find it more sporadically in Ireland, the United States and Canada, but in the 60s and 70s it was very popular in folk clubs, less widespread, however, the version from the male point of view.

Steeleye Span from Parcel of Rogues 1973: a sweet lullaby

Young women they’ll run
Like hares(1) on the mountains,
Young women they’ll run
Like hares on the mountains
If I were but a young man
I’d soon go a hunting,
To my right fol diddle de ro,
To my right fol diddle dee.
Young women they’ll sing
Like birds in the bushes,
If I were but a young man,
I’d go and bang those bushes.
Young women they’ll swim
Like ducks in the water,
If I were but a young man,
I’d go and swim after

1) hare, birds and duck are animals associated with the three kingdoms, the middle world (Earth), above (Heaven) and below (Sea)


The same pattern is taken up in a ballad called with the same title or “Oh Sally my dear” of which we know mainly two melodies. Here the textual part is rendered as a blow and a response between the two lovers.

Shirley Collins & Davey Graham .  Fine arrangement of Davey on guitar

Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell slower melody, very magical

Alt-J in Bright: The Album 2017,  indie-rock version (I, III, IV, VI)

“Oh Sally, my dear,
it’s you I’d be kissing,
Oh Sally, my dear,
it’s you I’d be kissing,”
She smiled and replied,
“you don’t know what you’re missing”.
“Oh Sally, my dear,
I wish I could wed you,
Oh Sally my dear,
I wish I could bed you”
She smiled and replied,
“then you’d say I’d misled you”.
“If all you young men
were hares on the mountain,
How many young girls
would take guns and go hunting?
If the young men could sing like blackbirds and thrushes,
How many young girls
would go beating the bushes?
If all you young men
were fish in the water,
How many young girls
would undress and dive after?”
“But the young men
are given to frisking and fooling (1),
Oh, the young men are given to frisking and fooling,
So I’ll leave them alone
and attend to my schooling”

1) to take relationships with the girls lightly, without serious intentions. In this version the ballad has become a warning song on the old adage that man is a hunter


Same ballad handed down with another title
Niamh Parsons from “Blackbirds & Thrushes” 1999

Catherine Merrigan & Marion Camastral from “Wings O’er The Wind

Seamus Ennis

If all the young ladies
were blackbirds (1) & thrushes
If all the young ladies
were blackbirds & thrushes
Then all the young men
would go beating the bushes
Rye fol de dol diddle lol iddle lye ay
If all the young ladies
were ducks on the water..
Then all the young men
would go swimming in after
If all the young ladies
were rushes a-growing..
Then all the young men would get scythes and go mowing
If the ladies were all
trout and salmon so lively
Then divil the men
would go fishing on Friday(2)
If all the young ladies
were hares on the mountain
Then men with their hounds
would be out without counting

1) In the Celtic tradition: The blackbird (druid dhubh) is associated with the goddess Rhiannon. Legend has it that the birds of Rhiannon are three blackbirds, which are perched and sing on the tree of life on the edge of the otherworldly worlds. Their song, puts the listener in a state of trance, which allows him to go to the parallel worlds. (from here) see more
2) the expression perhaps refers to the fact that in the weekend you go fishing or that on Friday you eat fish


Beltane Love Chase: The Two Magicians

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63_rackham_siegfried_grimhildeLove Chase is a typical theme of popular songs, according to the proper ways of the courting song it is the contrast between two lovers, in whice he tries to conquer her and she rejects him or banters in a comic or coarse situation
So the ballad “The Twa Magicians” is a Love Hunt in which the natural prudery of the maid teases the man, because her denial is an invitation to conquer.


The ballad originates from the north of Scotland and the first written source is in Peter Buchan’s “Ancient Ballads and Song of the North of Scotland” – 1828, later also in Child # 44 (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child ). It is believed to come from the Norse tradition. The versions are numerous, as generally happens for popular ballads spread in the oral tradition, and even with different endings. In its “basic” form it is the story of a blacksmith who intends to conquer a virgin; but the girl flees, turning into various animals and even objects or elements of Nature; the man pursues her by changing form himself.
There is a written trace of the theme already in 1630 in a ballad entitled “The two kind and Lovers” – in which however the woman is to chase the man.
The ballad begins with the woman who says

if thou wilt goe, Love,
let me goe with thee
Because I cannot live,
without thy company
Be thou the Sunne,
Ile be the beames so bright,
Be thou the Moone.
Ile be the lightest night:
Be thou Aurora,
the usher of the day,
I will be the pearly dew,
upon the flowers gay.
Be thou the Rose,
thy smell I will assume,
And yeeld a sweet
odoriferous perfume

It is therefore a matter of complementary and non-opposing couples, a sort of total surrender to love on the part of the woman who declares her fidelity to man. Let us not forget that ancient ballads were also a form of moral teaching.
And yet we find buried in the text traces of initiation rituals, pearls of wisdom or druidic teachings, so the two wizards are transformed into animals associated with the three kingdoms, Nem (sky), Talam (Earth) Muir (sea) or world above, middle and below and the mystery is that of spiritual rebirth.
Other similarities are found with the ballad “Hares on the Mountain


In general, the Love Chase ends with the consensual coupling.
Today’s version of “The Two Magicians” is based on the rewriting of the text and the musical arrangement of Albert Lancaster Lloyd (1908-1982) for the album “The Bird in the Bush” (1966);

(all the verses except XV and XVI)

Celtic stone from Celtic Stone, 1983: (American folk-rock group active in the 80s and 90s), an ironic vocal interpretation, a spirited musical arrangement that happily combines acoustic guitar with the dulcimer hammer (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XIV, X, XV, XVI, XVII)

Damh the Bard from Tales from the Crow Man, 2009. Another minstrel of the magical world in a more rock version (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XII, X, XIV, XV, XVI,XVII, XVIII)

Jean-Luc Lenoir from “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2013 (voice Joanne McIver) 
– a lively and captivating arrangement taken from a traditional (it’s a mixer between the two melodies)
Owl Service from Wake The Vaulted Echo (2006)
Empty Hats from The Hat Came Back, 2000 the choice of speech is very effective

The lady stood at her own front door
As straight as a willow wand
And along come a lusty smith (1)
With his hammer in his hand
Saying “bide lady bide
there’s a nowhere you can hide
the lusty smith will be your love
And he will lay your pride”.
“Well may you dress, you lady fair,
All in your robes of red  (2)
Before tomorrow at this same time
I’ll have your maidenhead.”
“Away away you coal blacksmith
Would you do me this wrong?
To have me maidenhead
That I have kept so long”
I’d rather I was dead and cold
And me body in the grave
Than a lusty, dusty, coal black smith
Me maide head should have”
Then the lady she held up her hand
And swore upon the spul
She never would be the blacksmith’s love
For all of a box of gold  (3)
And the blacksmith he held up his hand/And he swore upon the mass,
“I’ll have you for my love, my girl,
For the half of that or less.”
Then she became a turtle dove
And flew up in the air
But he became an old cock pigeon
And they flew pair and pair
And she became a little duck,
A-floating in the pond,
And he became a pink-necked drake
And chased her round and round.
She turned herself into a hare  (4)
And ran all upon the plain
But he became a greyhound dog
And fetched her back again
And she became a little ewe sheep
and lay upon the common
But he became a shaggy old ram
And swiftly fell upon her.
She changed herself to a swift young mare, As dark as the night was black,
And he became a golden saddle
And clung unto her back.
And she became a little green fly,
A-flew up in the air,
And he became a hairy spider
And fetched her in his lair.
Then she became a hot griddle (5)
And he became a cake,
And every change that poor girl made
The blacksmith was her mate.
So she turned into a full-dressed ship
A-sailing on the sea
But he became a captain bold
And aboard of her went he
So the lady she turned into a cloud
Floating in the air
But he became a lightning flash
And zipped right into her
So she turned into a mulberry tree
A mulberry tree in the wood
But he came forth as the morning dew
And sprinkled her where she stood.
So the lady ran in her own bedroom
And changed into a bed,
But he became a green coverlet
And he gained her maidenhead
And was she woke, he held her so,
And still he bad her bide,
And the husky smith became her love
And that pulled down her pride.

1) in popular songs the blacksmith is considered a synonym of virility, a very gifted lover with a portentose force. Here he is also a magician armed with a hammer while the girl is a antagonist (or complementary) holds a willow wand.
One thinks of a sort of duel or challenge between two practicing wizards
2) in ancient ballads some words are codes that make the alarm bells ring out in the listener: red is the color of fairies or creatures with Magic powers. Red was also the color of the bride in antiquity and is a favorable color for fertility
3) also written as “pot of gold” and immediately it come to mind the leprechaun
4) the hare-hound couple is the first of the transformations in the Welsh myth of Taliesin’s birth. Gwion is the pursued that turns into a lunar animal, takes in itself the female principle symbol of abundance-fertility, but also creativity-intuition, becomes pure instinct, frenzy.
The dog is not only predator, but also guardian and psychopomp ‘The dog plays with many populations the function of guardian of the sacred places, guide of the man on the night of death, defender of the kingdom of the dead, overseer in all cases of the kingdom spiritual.
In particular among the Celts it was associated with the world of the Warriors. In fact, the dog was present in the Warrior initiations. Hunting, like war, was a sacred act that could be accomplished only after an initiation and a ritual preparation of divine protection. (Riccardo Taraglio from Il Vischio e la Quercia) 
see more
5) scottish pancake: a special tool to cook the Beltane bannock.The two iron griddle could be smooth or variously decorated honeycomb or floral carvings, written or geometric designs, were hinged on one side and equipped with a long handle: placed on the fire it was turned over for cooking on the other side. In the Middle Ages they had become masterpieces of forging made by master wares or refined silversmiths, and they were a traditional engagement gift. see more

Ferro da cialde, Umbria, sec. XVI


The song is reported by Cecil Sharp in One Hundred English Folksongs (1916) in the notes he says he heard it from Mr. Sparks (a blacksmith), Minehead, Somerset, in 1904.

Steeleye Span from “Now we are six”, 1974 – a funny video animation

She looked out of the window
as white as any milk
And he looked in at  the window
as black as any silk
Hello, hello, hello, hello,
you coal blacksmith

You have done me no harm
You never shall  have my maidenhead
That I have kept so long
I’d rather die a maid
Ah, but then she said
and be buried all in my grave

Than to have such a nasty,
husky, dusky, fusky, musky

Coal blacksmith,
a maiden, I will die

She became a duck,
a duck all on the stream
And he became a water dog (1)
and fetched her back again.
She became a star,
a star all in the night
And he became a thundercloud
And muffled her out of sight.
She became a rose,
a rose all in the wood
And he became a bumble bee  (2)
And kissed her where she stood.
She became a nun,
a nun all dressed in white
And he became a canting priest
And prayed for her by night.
She became a trout,
a trout all in the brook
And he became a feathered fly
And caught her with his hook.
She became a corpse,
a corpse all in the ground
And he became the cold clay
and smothered her all around (3)

1) water dog is a large swimmer retriever dog or a dog trained for swamp hunting,
2) the bumblebee is related to the bees, but does not produce honey and is much larger and stocky than the bee
3) “Which part of the word NO do not you understand?” that is, the categorical and virginal refusal of the woman to the sexual act repeatedly attempted by an ugly, dark and even stinking blacksmith. In escaping the man’ s longing she turns into duck, star, rose, nun and trout (and he in marsh dog, cloud, bumblebee, priest, fishing hook); apparently the girl prefers her death rather than undergoing a rape: this is a distorted way of interpreting the story, it is the “macho” mentality convinced that woman is not a victim but always in complicit with the violence and therefore to be condemned.
In my opinion, instead, it is the return to the earth with the fusion of the feminine principle with the male one; the two, now lost in the vortex of transformations, merge into a single embrace of dust and their death is a death-rebirth.

Beltane Fire Festival


The hunter man here is a “supernatural” figure, the blacksmith was considered in ancient times a creature endowed with magical powers, the first blacksmiths were in fact the dwarves (the black or dark elves) able to create weapons and enchanted jewels. The art of forge was an ancient knowledge that was handed down among initiates.
So in the Middle Ages the figure of the blacksmith took on negative connotations, just think of the many “forges of the devil” or “the pagan” that gave the name to a place once a forge.

Vulcan Roman God, Andrea Mantegna

By virtue of his craft, the smith is a mighty man with well-developed muscles, yet precisely because of his knowledge and power the smith is often lame or deformed: if he is a mortal his impairment is a sign that he has seen some divine secret, that is, it has seen a hidden aspect of the divinity thus it is punished forever; it is the knowledge of the secret of fire and of metals, which turn from solid to liquid and blend into alloys. In many mythologies the same gods are blacksmiths (Varuna, Odin), they are wizards and they have paid a price for their magic.
The lameness also hides another metaphor: that of the overcame test that underlies the research, be it a spiritual conquest or a healing or revenge act (a fundamental theme in the Grail cycle).

But the magicians of the ballad are two so the girl is also a shapeshifter or perhaps a shaman.


Cerridwen_EmpowermentThe theme of transformation is in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: a succession of Olympian gods who, through their lust, transform themselves into animals (but also in golden rain) and seduce beautiful mortals or nymphs.
The pursuit through the mutation of the forms recalls the chase between Cerridwen and his apprentice in the Welsh history of the the bard Taliesin birth (534-599) . A boy is escaping, having drunk the magic potion from the cauldron he was watching over; he escapes the wrath of the goddess by becoming various animals (hare, fish, bird). At the end he is a wheat grain to hide like a classic needle in a haystack, but the goddess changed into a hen eating it. From this unusual coupling is born Taliesin alias Merlin

I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

That is, in order to become Wisdom, to Understand, one must experience the elements …

This poem by Taliesin could condense the mystery of the initiatory journey, in which Wisdom is conquered with the knowledge of the elements, which is profound experience, identification, through the penetration of their own essence, becoming the same traveler the essence of the elements.
Changing shape means experiencing everything, experiencing oneself in everything in continuous change and experiencing the encounter between the self and the other, prey and predator, not separated but inseparably linked, as in a dance.from here)


The main characteristic of the shaman is to “travel” in conditions of ecstasy in the spirit world. The techniques for doing this are essentially the ecstatic sleep (mystical trance) and the transformation of one’s spirit into an animal. As a magical practice it involves a transformation of a part of the soul into the spirit of an animal to leave the body and travel in both the sensitive and the supersensible world. Another technique is to leave your body and take possession of the body of a living animal.

In this way the shaman “rides”, that is, takes as a means to move, the bodies of animals that are also his driving spirits. In some rituals, psychoactive plants are used, or the drum beat, or the skins or the mask of the animal that you want to “ride” are worn. This practice is not free from risks: it may happen that the shaman can no longer return to his body because he forgets himself, his human being, or travels too far from the body and falls into a coma or the physical body dies because too weakened by separation.
The spirit can be captured in the afterlife or the animal can be wounded or killed on the ground level and therefore, as the soul of the shaman is captured or wounded or killed, so does his body report its consequences.

second part