The current Covid-19 outbreak is impacting our lives in many ways. How it will play out in the long term remains to be seen. In the meantime, we need to do all we can to keep ourselves and our families safe. Until a vaccine becomes available, the best ways to do this are by maintaining physical distance between us and washing regularly and thoroughly, especially our hands.
Of course, as spiritual beings, there are other things we can do. Those of us whose Paganism allows for the reality of entities existing in the realms of spirit whose influence extends into the physical, including the old gods of our lands, may choose to pray to those gods for their blessings and protection. Our ancestors certainly did just that.
The following prayer is found in the Book of Ballymote, compiled in County Sligo, Ireland, circa 1390, although the prayer itself is considerably older, dating perhaps from the 8th century. Skeptics may argue that an 8th century prayer can have no possible relationship to Druidry. There are, however, numerous references in the manuscript literature of Britain and Ireland indicating that Druids continued to play an active role in society at least until the 12th century. It is certainly hard to see the prayer itself as anything other than pagan. I have not included a translation of two lines of Latin appended to the end of the original manuscript text since they were clearly tacked on in a half-hearted attempt to Christianise an otherwise splendidly pagan prayer. I defy anyone to locate a Biblical reference to ‘the Seven Daughters of the Sea’ who feature in the first two lines, while the ‘Silver Champion’ referred to in line 10 seems likely to be Nuada Airgetlam, ‘Nuada of the Silver Arm,’ sword-wielding equivalent to the Romano-British Nodens, who oversaw a large healing sanctuary at Lydney on the banks of the River Severn.
Note that illness is characterised in the prayer as a ‘two-headed adder,’ a ‘hard-grey serpent,’ and a ‘headless black beetle.’ It was extremely common for our ancestors to view disease as a dark creature, most often a venomous serpent. When combatting illness in spirit, attributing a form to it is extremely useful, providing a clear focus on what it is we are seeking to counteract and protect against.
This particular prayer seems peculiarly appropriate at the present time, given that the severity of the effects of the Covid-19 virus seems to increase the older one gets.
Here, then, is my English rendering of the text as it appears in the British Druid Order’s ovate course. Scroll down and you’ll find links to our Soundcloud recording and YouTube video of the prayer, accompanied on a Celtic lyre.
Blessings to all,
“The cry of a worthy man upon the road, may it bless me on my journey into the Plain of Age:”
“I invoke the Seven Daughters of the Sea
who weave the threads of children for long life:
May three deaths be taken from me!
May three life-spans be granted to me!
May seven waves of good fortune be dealt to me!
Phantoms shall not harm me on my journey
a flashing breastplate keep me from injury!
My fame shall not be bound by death!
Let death not come to me till I am old!
I invoke my Silver Champion who has not died, who will not die:
May time be granted to me of the quality of pure bronze!
May my form be ennobled!
May my right be maintained!
May my strength be increased!
May my grave not be readied!
May death not come to me on my journey!
May my journey be successfully fulfilled!
May the two-headed adder not seize upon me,
nor the hard-grey serpent, nor the headless black beetle!
May no thief ever harm me, nor band of women, nor band of armed men.
May increase of time come to me from the King of All Being!
I invoke Senach [‘the Ancient One’] of the seven ages,
whom Fairy women have reared on breasts of plenty:
May my seven lights not be extinguished!
I am an indestructible stronghold,
I am an unshakeable rock,
I am a precious stone,
I am a fortunate one of seven riches.
May I live a hundred times a hundred years,
each hundred after another!
Thus I summon my good fortune to me.”
The prayer was recorded in our Shropshire roundhouse in August 2019, hence the crackling of the central hearth fire and the screaming sounds of Buzzards(Buteo buteo) wheeling around in the sky outside. The lyre accompaniment was added a few days ago here in my study at home using a little lapel mic as a pick-up. The lyre used is the one in the photos, beautifully made for me by Koth na Fiach of Dark Age Crafts. It’s of a type played in Europe from at least 800 BCE until around 600 CE, possibly later. The earliest recorded name for it is chrotta.