It has been a while since my last proper post; in all honesty, bar the tenuous, Telegraph-given connection, the subject of my last actual post is a little out of keeping with the blog (oh hai there new followers! It is very nice to have you, but I thought you all deserved a warning). Like its non-identical twin sister, this blog fizzled out a little over the latter part of last year. I had been using them both to skirt around the sayable, while privately, silently, exploring the unsayable.
Last year feels as though it should have been a turning point, though nothing much has turned. After withdrawing a little from the online community of pagans, and immersing myself in the mystery tradition of Anglesey Druidry, I have emerged with more or less the same perspective as before, but with a much steadier sense of the ground beneath my feet, and a lot more clarity about how I could explore it further.
Mystery is, in essence, inexpressible; finding ways to express the inexpressible is what art is for – and although I make no claims to be an artist, this blog exists to express ideas about druidry: a path which is partly rooted in gnosis, mysticism and subjective experience. I need to use it to express the things that actually inspire me, no matter how hesitant I am to expose them to the winds of internet opinion; otherwise it has no heart. I am starting to understand a little more about what it means to be a bard, having thought for all these years that perhaps I could just quietly avoid that aspect of the druid path without anybody noticing. Unfortunately, “anybody” included me (who, privately, noticed very much); it also included the deepest wellspring of my inspiration, a deity who is not the type to insist, but is not exactly easily suppressed…
So: what am I doing?
This question (“the old song”) is a favourite of Cat Treadwell’s, and I have learned a lot from the clarity of its simple directness.
Right now, I am re-reading Kuno Meyer’s translation of The Voyage of Bran, son of Febal, thanks to the Forgotten Books project. And I am writing. Writing here, because over the past few days I have been devouring pagan blogs; clicking my way into a labyrinth of links and references and, gradually, reading my way out again, laden with a list of new books to find and references to check, and correspondences between ideas that had never quite met one another before. In that context, it seems miserly to read so much and not offer something in return, no matter how little. There comes a point when there is more to be learned by sharing one’s own ideas than by hoarding other people’s, and some connections can only be made out loud. But that leap of faith is terrifying. I know so little. Will I ever know enough?
Enough for whom?
Enough by what measure?
If my measure is an inspired and inspiring life, then I think I am at least on track. The inspiration I feel may not always express itself in art – in the words or music we associate with bard-craft (though the moment on Sunday when I sang to the turning tide and saw a cormorant fly overhead and land in the water with each verse, was a moment of pure magic) – but in some small way I can feel it expressed in everything I do. Just under four months ago, I was initiated as awenydd; now, I am learning to be one. It takes faith to spend so much time and effort researching old tales and traditions, and to glean inspiration from sources that have been obscured by time; it takes still more faith to pour our souls into the work of singing this inspiration back into the world. But it is the work I vowed to undertake. And – however I try to rationalise it, whatever stories I weave around it – Manawydan mab Llŷr (and maybe also Manannan mac Lir) is at its heart.
Let not thy intoxication overcome thee;
Begin a voyage across the clear sea
So I begin.