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This song was born from my desire to find out more about the mythology of England- many of the gods and goddesses that we know about are Celtic in origin, and I wanted to see if England itself had any indigenous gods or goddesses. While I didn't find anything to that effect, I did come across something else interesting while reading a copy of the book 'Germania', written by a Roman historian and senator called Tacitus:

"...they are distinguished by a common worship of Nerthus, or Mother Earth. They believe that she interests herself in human affairs and rides among their peoples. In an island of the Ocean stands a sacred grove, and in the grove a consecrated cart, draped with cloth, which none but the priest may touch. The priest perceives the presence of the goddess in this holy of holies and attends her, in deepest reverence, as her cart is drawn by heifers. Then follow days of rejoicing and merry-making in every place that she designs to visit and be entertained. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms; every object of iron is locked away; then, and only then, are peace and quiet known and loved, until the priest again restores the goddess to her temple, when she has had her fill of human company. After that the cart, the cloth and, if you care to believe it, the goddess herself are washed clean in a secluded lake. This service is performed by slaves who are immediately afterwards drowned in the lake. Thus mystery begets terror and pious reluctance to ask what the sight can be that only those doomed to die may see."

It's a great story, and I immediately decided that there was enough to write a song about. Martin agreed, and produced some lyrics from the point of view of one of the slaves- one who has not only volunteered to clean the statue, but sees this sacred duty as the greatest honour he could hope to achieve.


Turn away iron, anoint with amber, her wain is prepared.
Hail sovereign goddess of life and death toward us she rides.

She triggers the end, mistress of decay, the death that feeds life,
Spurring on growth, calling forth crops, nourishing all.

So they give her attendants, an offering of slaves,
Said to be drowned once they have cleaned her ethereal form

But no master left me here, this is volition.
Hail sovereign goddess of life and death towards me she rides.

Beyond the veil is that pure face.
I forfeit my life for that pure face.
Pure face.

As I gaze, back at my past self,
I feel the bile of my wasted time.
See how my works crumbled around us.
How I failed my duty to loved ones
That no amount of self flagellation
Will get these stains out of my skin.
I will pledge this loathsome being
To a higher power.

Leave behind my shame and guilt, surrender to her beauty.

They leave me with trembling hands to cleanse the sublime.
This is honour, this is privilege, expunging my remnants of soul.
With no sense of loss, I cross the boundaries of water.
Hail sovereign goddess of life and death towards her I ride.

Beyond the veil is that pure face.
I forfeit my life for that pure face.
Pure face.

Nerthus use my form as you see fit.


from Of Roots and Flesh, released October 4, 2014
Music & lyrics: Northern Oak


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Northern Oak Sheffield, UK

Founded in early 2006 during a wintry excursion to the Peak District, Northern Oak have been spreading their unique brand of flute-heavy progressive folk metal across Sheffield and the rest of the UK ever since.

Our music sounds like Jethro Tull played by extreme metal fans with an appreciation for everything from Pink Floyd to Emperor.
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