walking this path

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.

image by the wonderful Thalia Took: www.thaliatook.com

image by the wonderful Thalia Took: http://www.thaliatook.com

Let not thy intoxication overcome thee;
Begin a voyage across the clear sea

The Voyage of Bran, son of Febal

So I begin.

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4 thoughts on “walking this path

  1. You are honouring your journey as it unfolds around you and enfolds you within it. That is what is most important. Continue to take the steps, even if they seem small and hesitant, on the awenydd path to which you pledged yourself. May you find rich treasure, full of wonder, shrouded in mystery and awaiting one to discover it.

    • Thank you, daughter of the yew :) My finger had been poised over the “delete” button all morning…

      …and the rest of the reply I just typed has mysteriously disappeared! Hmm :)
      I find it tricky to judge when to share, and how much; in the end, I let this post be, as a sort of waypost on the neverending path of becoming. Thank you for reminding me that honouring the journey is worthwhile, even when the steps are faltering and the direction still unclear.

  2. Congratulations on your initiation as awenydd and glad to hear your work with the Anglesey Druid Order is going well. Yes, it’s very difficult to judge how much of what is so close to our hearts to share but sometimes the gods push us to cross those edges… I’ll look forward to hearing more of your bardic words and hopefully more about Manawydan in the future (you honour him and the shores well in ‘From the Edges’ even if his presence remains implicit it’s felt).

    • Thank you for that last comment, it means a lot! Yes, sharing is something I struggle with for a few reasons; yours is the example I look to the most, at the moment, for inspiration and guidance. This is curious timing, actually, because some lunch-hour reading earlier this afternoon reminded me of what I had written here, about hoarding knowledge from all over the internet and yet never being bold enough to share it myself. My blog posts are never knowledgeable enough, my poems never good enough, my research never rigorous enough… at what point does it become ok to share? I remember a phrase you once used, which made a big impression on me – something like “others might know more, but they do not necessarily know better.” That’s something I keep trying to remember: that I can trust my intuition and my vision, and that by opening up to others there is much more I can learn.

      As I hinted on TDN social, it never seems to matter very much to the gods *how* I do the work, exactly, but it matters that the work is done – and this sort of online sharing of ideas seems to be a good and important way of doing it. The Anglesey group provided a great grounding in the Welsh-language source material (though my interests range a bit more freely, as befits the sea) and are a wonderfully supportive small community for the initial sharing of research and insights and ideas. But I feel there is another, deeper initiation for which I am only just preparing, which is less about the community and more about the path.

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