Did you know that among the good things you can do for yourself is achieving something? If you do something with your own hands, or achieve something by your own strength of will, that’s a very healthy thing for you.
Right now is the time when some religiously inclined people do the annual Lenten fast, that is, they do something, or refrain from doing something for forty days (and a week), between Ash Wednesday and Easter Saturday night. Some do not watch TV during this time. Some stop eating chocolate. Some pray the Rosary or the Chaplet of Saint Michael every day. Some work on a particular flaw they feel they have, like their volatile temper or their laziness. Some stay away from coffee. Some fast. Some read a chapter of the Bible every day. Some start visiting lonely community members. Some do not use social media. Some do not buy their usual morning drink at a local fast-food chain every day but save the money and donate it to a charity at the end of their fast. The list, in fact, is endless.
What all these seemingly unrelated things have in common is this: If you do any of them, you are doing yourself a favor. In all of us, there is always room for improvement. If we pick one of the constructions sites of the Self to work on for 40 days, the good we learn during this time will have become a habit. After all, it takes only 21 days to form a habit, or so they say. If you take your spring fast seriously, no matter which form it takes, you will come away with a definite sense of achievement that adds to your quality of life more than a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate ever will.
Try it out! And I sure hope you are not wondering what all this has to do with Herbal Household Remedies.
Enjoy a traditional Scottish ballad, featuring the Appalachian Dulcimer.
“Willy o’Winsbury” is a ballad, a folksong from the middle ages performed by a minstrel as a dancing song. This particular ballad is a traditional Scottish ballad thought to be from sometime before 1775.
The Mountain Dulcimer is a sweet-to-the-ear (dulcet) and easy to play instrument that first appeared in the early 19th century among Scotch-Irish in the Appalachia. Probably related to the the German scheitholt.
For me the dulcimer, like the mandolin, stimulates those ancestral memories resting deep in the collective unconscious.
Willy O Winsbury
The king has been a prisoner
And a prisoner long in Spain
And Willie of the Winsbury
Has lain long with his daughter at home
“What ails you, what ails you, my daughter Janet
Why you look so pale and wan?
Oh, have you had any sore sickness
Or yet been sleeping with a man?”
“I have not had any sore sickness
Nor yet been sleeping with a man
It is for you, my father dear
For biding so long in Spain.”
“Cast off, cast off your berry-brown gown
You stand naked upon the stone
That I may know you by your shape
If you be a maiden or no.”
And she’s cast off her berry-brown gown
She stood naked upon the stone
Her apron was low and her haunches were round
Her face was pale and wan
“Oh, was it with a lord or a duke or a knight
Or a man of birth and fame
Or was it with one of my serving men
That’s lately come out of Spain?”
“It wasn’t with a lord, nor a duke or a knight
Nor a man of birth and fame
But it was with Willie of Winsbury
I could bide no longer alone.”
And the king has called on his merry men all
By thirty and by three
Says, “Fetch me this Willie of Winsbury
For hanged he shall be.”
[- Instrumental verse -]
But when he came the king before
He was clad all in the red silk
His hair was like the strands of gold
His skin was as white as the milk
And “It is no wonder,” said the king
“That my daughter’s love you did win
For if I was a woman, as I am a man
My bedfellow you would have been.”
“And will you marry my daughter Janet
By the truth of your right hand?
Oh, will you marry my daughter Janet?
I will make you the lord of my land.”
“Oh yes, I will marry your daughter Janet
By the truth of my right hand
Why yes, I will marry your daughter Janet
But I’ll not be the lord of your land.”
And he’s mounted her on a milk-white steed
And himself on a dapple grey
He has made her the lady of as much land
As she shall ride in a long summer’s day
“…long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green…”
Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
The featured image is that of Bollingen Tower, Jung’s well known and somewhat mysterious “confession of faith in stone,””maternal hearth,” and place of “repose and renewal” located on the shores of Lake Zurich. It was from the chapter in MDR entitled “The Tower” that I gleaned the following quote, for your consideration.
Reforms by advances, that is, by new methods or gadgets, are of course impressive at first, but in the long run they are dubious and in any case dearly paid for. They by no means increase the contentment or happiness of people on the whole. Mostly, they are deceptive sweetenings of existence, like speedier communications which unpleasantly accelerate the tempo of life and leave us with less time than ever before. Omnis festinatio ex parte diaboli est – all haste is of the devil, as the old masters used to say.
Reforms by retrogressions, on the other hand, are as a rule less expensive and in addition more lasting, for they return to the simpler, tried and tested ways of the past and make the sparest use of newspapers, radio, television, and all supposedly timesaving innovations.
Carl Gustav Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1962
It would be a ridiculous and unwarranted presumption on our part if we imagined that we were more energetic or more intelligent than the men of the past- our material knowledge has increased, but not our intelligence. This means that we are just as bigoted in regard to new ideas, and just as impervious to them, as people were in the darkest days of antiquity. We have become rich in knowledge, but poor in wisdom. The center of gravity of our interest has switched over to the materialistic side, whereas the ancients preferred a mode of thought nearer to the fantastic type. To the classical mind everything was still saturated with mythology, even though classical philosophy and the beginning of natural science undeniably prepared the way for the work of ‘enlightenment.’
~Carl Gustav Jung, Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido, 1912 Symbols of Transformation, 1956
Rackham most famously illustrated fairy tales and the fairies, brownies, hobs, Heinzelmännchen, sprites, undines and nisse in them. If you have ever read Grimm’s “Children’s and Household Tales”, or Hans Christian Anderson’s “Fairy Tales”, or William Butler Yeats’ “Irish Folk and Fairy Tales”, or any other European collection of poems and stories, you surely know the Little People who I am talking about.
But did you know that these little household companions used to be far more than helpers for decent people and pests for lazy scullery maids? They used to be understood and revered as the souls of our dead ancestors. In fact, it appears as though Europeans, more precisely Proto-Indo-Europeans, first experienced the existence of something beyond their material experience when they were confronted with death. If you look at different types of household deities, you will find that they are wide-spread in European mythology and fairy tales.
“This religion of the dead appears to be the oldest that has existed among this race of men. Before men had any notion of Indra or of Zeus, they adored the dead; they feared them, and addressed them prayers. It seems that the religious sentiment commenced in this way. It was perhaps while looking upon the dead that man first conceived the idea of the supernatural, and began to have a hope beyond what he saw. Death was the first mystery, and it placed man on the track of other mysteries. It raised his thoughts from the visible to the invisible, from the transitory to the eternal, from the human to the divine.”
In other words, Brownies originated as domestic tutelary spirits, very similar to the Lares of ancient Roman tradition. Jacob Grimm equated the Roman lar familiaris to the brownie and explains in his “Deutsche Mythologie”, in good linguistic manner, thus:
“Larva betrays its affinity to lar…, and the good kindly lares were often held to be manes or souls of departed ancestors. So in our German superstition we find instances of souls becoming homesprites or kobolds, and still oftener is there a connexion between unquiet spirits and spectres.”
A tutelary is a guardian deity or spirit. He can be a patron of a particular place, be it a geographic feature or a homestead. He can also be a protector of a person, lineage, people, culture, or even occupation. In late late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the Genius or Juno, functioned as the personal deity of an individual from birth to death, very similar to the concept of the guardian angel in the Christian tradition.
Another form of personal tutelary spirit are the spirits of European folklore, and those are the kinds we are so familiar with, the little men and women who danced through our childhood dreams, who populated our childhood gardens, who we expected to catch in the closet or behind the curtain if only we could be quick and quiet enough.
If you look into Ancient Greek and Roman religious practices, you will find how these deities related to the ancestors. In essence, they believed that upon death, the soul and the body of the deceased person did not separate, which is why a proper burial was so very important to the Greeks and Romans back in the day. Homer and Virgil give plenty of examples of this. Because the soul stayed with the bones that were buried in the crypt or catacomb, the family was responsible for providing their ancestors with a peaceful rest (hence R.I.P.) by offering food and libations to them. This was done on little household altars, or hearths, on which live coals were kept as the sacred fire. As long as the family was alive, so were the coals, and it was the responsibility of the head of the household to tend to them: A cold hearth meant that the family line was ended. If a family neglected the rites and did not provide food and drink, their ancestors would have no peace in death and plague their living family members with diseases and ill fortune until the proper rights were restored, while ancestors that were well cared for were protectors of the family, tutelary spirits as described above.
Isn’t it fascinating how something that is from of old, that has been formative for our people from the very beginning, is still right here and accessible to us today? People as formidable as C.G. Jung didn’t tire pointing out the significance of fairy tales for our psychological health because they provide a bridge to that within us which is from ancient times.
Consider this in connection with Jung’s collective unconscious:
“It is a strong proof of the antiquity of this belief, and of these practices, to find them at the same time among men on the shores of the Mediterranean and among those of the peninsula of India. Assuredly the Greeks did not borrow this religion from the Hindus, nor the Hindus from the Greeks. But the Greeks, the Italians, and the Hindus belonged to the same race; their ancestors, in a very distant past, lived together in Central Asia. There this creed originated and these rites were established. The religion of the sacred fire dates, therefore, from the distant and dim epoch when there were yet no Greeks, no Italians, no Hindus; when there were only Aryas. When the tribes separated, they carried this worship with them, some to the banks of the Ganges, others to the shores of the Mediterranean. Later, when these tribes had no intercourse with each other, some adored Brahma, others Zeus, and still others Janus; each group chose its own gods; but all preserved, as an ancient legacy, the first religion which they had known and practised in the common cradle of their race.”
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges: “La Cité Antique” (The Ancient City), 1864, p. 35
Something to ponder as you go about your business today, wondering where your car keys might have ended up this time.
Featured, you see Rackham’s illustration “O waken, waken, Burd Isbel”, from Young Beichan, Child ballad number 53; here in all its beauty:
One theory that seems to have considerable merit is that the earliest Dennys were Vikings or North Men…
It’s that time of year again, when we blow off the dust from boxes of documents, photos, and old handwritten notes, reactivate the Ancestry.com account, and continue exploring the family’s history.
The material quoted below comes from the work of Richard F. Denney. His web site was one of the first I came across when I caught the genealogy virus, many moons ago. I had occasion one time to correspond with Mr. Denney, helping to correct a minor error in the record of my grandfather Lorain Franklin Denney. Sadly, Richard F. Denney passed away July of 2011. His genealogical efforts are greatly appreciated.
While I am not able, for obvious reasons, to attest to the validity of the Viking theory, it fits with certain personal experiences of a particularly Jungian flavor that I’ve had over the years.
“The existence of these archaic strata is presumably the source of man’s belief in reincarnations and in memories of “previous experiences”. Just as the human body is a museum, so to speak, of its phylogenetic history, so too is the psyche.”
~C.G. Jung, “Conscious, Unconscious, and Individuation”, 1939
One theory that seems to have considerable merit is that the earliest Dennys were Vikings or North Men who settled along the Normandy Coast of France. French history tells of a Danish Prince named Bernard, who, along with his cousin Rollo, settled in Normandy. Members of this Norman colony or settlement of Danes were called the Danish Men or L’Denshmen or in French, L’Denne.
Some of these early Denshmen migrated across the Channel and settled in southern England.
Because of the unrest in the English country side, many of the Surrey Dennys migrated to Ireland and Scotland. Scotch and Irish Dennys were noted for large families. Many Dennys from England, Scotland and Ireland came to America in the late 1600s and early 1700s to escape hunger, unrest and religious persecution. Most of these people ended up in the Western Frontier which was then Western Pennsylvania.
Later, around the Daniel Boone era, many of these Dennys migrated on to Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Others continued on into Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. As a matter of fact, Daniel Boone trapped on the Raccoon Creek, Gallia County, Ohio about the same time period as when the first Denneys were to arrive in that area and settled around the creek.
Samuel Denney (1635 – 1710), my 10th great-grandfather
Birth 1635 • Avon River section, England
Death 1710 • Tidewater region, Virginia, USA
James Denney (1777–1860), my 5th great-grandfather
Birth 1777 • Pilot Creek, Surry County, NC
Death 29 JUN 1860 • Gallipolis, Gallia, Ohio, USA
Featured Image: Viking ships on the Normandy coast. Scene from the Bayeux tapestry.
The great problems of humanity were never yet solved by general laws, but only through regeneration of the attitudes of individuals
“The psychology of the individual is reflected in the psychology of the nation. What the nation does is done also by each individual, and so long as the individual continues to do it, the nation will do likewise. Only a change in the attitude of the individual can initiate a change in the psychology of the nation. The great problems of humanity were never yet solved by general laws, but only through regeneration of the attitudes of individuals. If ever there was a time when self-reflection was the absolutely necessary and only right thing, it is now, in our present catastrophic eopch.”
~C.G. Jung, preface to On the Psychology of the Unconscious, 1917
“A still infantile man of thirty is surely to be deplored, but a youthful septuagenarian—isn’t that delightful? And yet both are psychological monstrosities.”
Dare you be young? Dare you be old?
Ordinarily we cling to our past and remain stuck in the illusion of youthfulness. Being old is highly unpopular. Nobody seems to consider that not being able to grow old is just as absurd as not being able to outgrow child-size shoes. A still infantile man of thirty is surely to be deplored, but a youthful septuagenarian—isn’t that delightful? And yet both are perverse, lacking in style, psychological monstrosities. A young man who does not fight and conquer has missed the best part of his youth, and an old man who does not know how to listen to the secrets of the brooks, as they bumble down from the peaks to the valleys, makes no sense; he is spiritual mummy who is nothing but a rigid relic of the past. He stands apart from life, mechanically repeating himself to the last triviality.
‘Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.’
‘Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.’
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Two Towers: The Palantír
This is another nugget of wisdom from Tolkien’s pen. Ponder, for example, the harmlessness, or lack thereof, of the light bulb (No offense, Mr. Edison). Do we not pay dearly for every bit of “progress”, more dearly than what a new invention is worth? C.G. Jung put it this way:
‘We refuse to recognize that everything better is purchased at the prize of something worse.’
C.G. Jung: Memories, Dreams and Reflections: The Tower.
Note the coincidence that both quotes are tower-related; you decide for yourself how meaningful this is. Jung and Tolkien surely both weren’t very optimistic concerning “progress” and had their issues with the ever expanding usage of technology, and what it did (and still does) to our world and us.
So ponder, and consider how humility can help to put things into perspective. After all, arrogance was one of the reasons for Saruman’s fall.
The featured image shows Gandalf and Pippin approaching Minas Tirith. Cropped from a painting by John Howe titled, as far as I know, “Gandalf Approaches the Guarded City”.
From “Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self”
Two from Uncle Carl…
“Naturally the present tendency to destroy all tradition or render it unconscious could interrupt the normal process of development for several hundred years and substitute an interlude of barbarism. Wherever the Marxist utopia prevails, this has already happened. But a predominately scientific and technological education, such as is the usual thing nowadays, can also bring about a spiritual regression and a considerable increase of psychic dissociation.”
“Myths and fairy tales give expression to unconscious processes, and their retelling causes the process to come alive again and be recollected, thereby re-establishing the connection between conscious and unconscious.”
~C.G. Jung, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self