Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Nemeton Report

Regular readers will know that we're building a new ritual space here at Tredara. Following Celtic (at least Gaulish) tradition we refer to these neo-Celtic ritual spaces as a 'nemeton'. While the form of that word clearly indicates its Gaulish derivation, the root that produces the word also produces a complex of words in Irias, such as 'nemed', indicating both 'noble' and 'holy' in different examples. So a nemeton is a noble place for sacred work, and that's what we're trying to build.

We just finished another work day, with several of our Grove mates showing up. The crew was about right - we were doing more detail work that grunt work, and we had some skilled help.
Here's where we left off. Looks good, but the salvage brick at the fire altar just wasn't going to make it. Also, the first big rain caused erosion in some of the brick-work on the eastern porch that holds the Well and Tree, filling the offering shaft with sand and collapsing some of the brick deck. So our job yesterday was to finish the firepit with the proper new brick we found, and repair the deck and offering shaft.

The Fire altar turned out to be easy. We started early, before the heat had grown too oppressive. AJ has actually mixed mortar, and we had three hands (two and half - AJ's in a cast) working it, so placing the brick went easy. We tried a trick on the top course, to create better ventilation and, hopefully, a neat light effect as the fire shines between the bricks.
The finished brick-work
and filled with dirt,
to raise the fire properly into the air

The traditional Euro-Pagan fire altar is a raised stack of brick or stone, with the fire on the top. The word "altar" means 'high place', and the central porch and fire-altar are, in fact, the highest spot in the nemeton's meadow.

The east porch and offering shaft were a more complicated matter. We needed to seal the lip of the actual pit to prevent erosion from filling it, and provide a solid base for the brick deck.
So we started here, mortaring a collar
of 'castle wall' salvage brick. this

We don't know much about ancient Celtic ritual, but we can be pretty sure that they made 'deposit offerings' into shafts dug into the earth. Archaeology has found gigantic examples - we commemorate the custom on a smaller scale. The 'shaft' receives offerings to the Underworld powers, and is part of the symbolic complex we call 'the Well"

We wanted a collar of brick to bring the shaft-top
up above level. Our skilled help was able to cut a proper
frame of brick, which I love.
Finally cementing the whole thing in place,
and ready for the capstone.

Finished East Porch, with cap on the shaft.
By the end of the day we had built the fire-altar, fixed the shaft, and even filled the holes on the new processional way. We should be ready to consecrate this baby at Fall Equinox which, come to think of it, is the Grove's birthday.

The view from the processional way, on entry.

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