Summer Solstice Arrives

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Harp of Olden Times

In a recent post on the Harplist, Jenett writes that in the Anglo-Saxon tale of Beowulf, the name for the harp was "Gleewood". I love the name and it conveys so well what the harp can bring to us-joy, delight, glee. And reading this got me thinking about who the Greenman is and how the harp, in my opinion, would be his natural instrument. 
For of course the original harp is made of wood and the Greenman stands for humanity's "deep kinship with trees and woods",
 irrespressible life, and the cycle of renewal and rebirth. When Spring arrives and the "sap is rising" in both vegetative and erotic delights, the harp truly sings forth in glee. 
And let us not forget the harp has other healing powers in addition to bringing joy and delight. As noted in numerous writings of olden times, the harp was considered to have the power bring three distinct strains or modes of music to those listening: the first was the Geantrai or the Joyous strain which certainly is represented by the Beowulf naming of the harp. The second was the Goltrai or the Lamenting or Sorrowing strain by which the harp was able to help heal those in sorrow or distress. And the third was the Suantrai strain or Sleep strain/Strain of Comfort. To
 quote from the liner notes of the Beneath the Moon CD: "...the most revered was 'Suantrai', the music of repose. In its highest form, this music reached deeply into the heart, bringing the soul to a state of profound stillness and peace."
So it is no surprise to see the harp become such a vital and profound instrument of healing in hospitals, hospice, nursing homes and where ever souls are need of comfort and healing. 

Blessings from the Greenman's Harp,

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