The solstice arrived with high winter drama, storms, blackouts and floods across the country – everywhere, it seemed, except for where I went. I was in the South again, and on the 22nd December I walked up to the Long Man of Wilmington under brilliantly clear Sussex skies, to celebrate the end of the longest night on the South Downs. Members of the Anderida Gorsedd brought home-made mead, bread and cakes to share around the circle, and after a windswept ceremony we each took home a sprig of mistletoe cut with a golden sickle. A druid cliché – yet in context, an act of such beauty and celebration; the warm light of the risen sun caught the golden echo of the blade, and the sacred herb of air was shared out with all its connotations of love and celebration. This was ritual as poetry in the world of acts. Back in gentle, sheltered Merseyside, I hung the mistletoe from the lintel with a green ribbon, and reflected on the cycle of the sun just past.
When I chose the title of this blog originally, I hoped to capture an idea of interconnectedness – a sense that I am a druid always and anyway, whether debating philosophy in pubs, tending to the herbs in our little yard, arguing with the Today programme while still in my pyjamas or taking a moment to watch the sun rise over the far shore of the Mersey on my morning commute. Yet increasingly, over the months, it seemed to reflect something else: my ambivalence and reticence, a tendency to separate the mundane and the spiritual aspects of my life.
A lot has changed in the six months since I started blogging. Inspired to take a more active role within the druid community, I have found myself responsible for the peace pages on the website of The Druid Network – a learning curve which I feel I am only just beginning to negotiate. Close to my heart, the cause of peace is coaxing me to set aside my careful neutrality and take a stand for what I truly believe to be right.
Though I have never consciously hidden my beliefs, this year has been a gradual process of opening them up to shared celebration and support. Even my mother, who used to blame any computer glitch on “those weird druid websites” I visited, gave me a silver triskele as a solstice gift, urging me to open it before Christmas because it was connected with my “weird stuff.”
So the new year begins (a few days late) with a renewal of this blog – a title to carry the magic of that midwinter ritual through the months to come, as the sun moves North across the sky. The summer solstice will find me in Anglesey, preparing to start training as Awenydd. In the meantime, this blog will bring together my attempts to coordinate a druid expression of peace, in the face of increasingly alarming jingoism from our government; a page of book reviews that seem not quite druidic enough to make the more obvious websites, but still of definite druidic interest; and adventure. Definitely adventure.
May your solar year be bright with inspiration!