The ousel singing in the woods of Cilgwri,
Tirelessly as a stream over the mossed stones,
Is not so old as the toad of Cors Fochno
Who feels the cold skin sagging round his bones.
–from R.S. Thomas: ‘The Ancients of the World’
It could only ever be an inward map, impressionistic, unique – we might agree on its outward symbols, but what it maps for each of us is different. It maps the way in; from there, all paths diverge.
It is so much easier to say that than to feel it, sometimes.
Some people venture further than others, or travel more quickly to different points, and what they bring back is enchanting, it sings with the wild soul of the world – which sings within us, also; we are part of it and it is part of us. These are exciting times to be a druid. I want to play my part.
So what am I doing? Why am I still here – why aren’t I there yet?
And if I ask myself openly, the answer comes: because you chose to be here, now. All the choices you have made have led you here. Why should you not be? What you are doing is what you have chosen to do. You are walking your own path.
And if I calm my thoughts, the answer guides me. But on dark days my thoughts are never calm, and I cannot see the map, cannot understand that the map is always within me, the map is everything I am, and cannot be lost (though sometimes I lose it).
This is a dark day, and I am standing surrounded by the rubble of myself, struggling to recognise it for the rich and beautiful tapestry it is: struggling to see the map. This is where I need to thank my friends and fellow travellers for pointing me to signs. Yesterday, a hard nut fell into the palm of a visionary friend; a problem. It took a crow’s cunning, and adaptability, to crack it. Today, I remembered something I had long forgotten: a nut-sized nugget of iron that was once a smith’s anvil, worn down over ages by the ousel of Cilgwri. Cilgwri, the place that has become my home. The ousel, the bird that once sang words of pure inspiration to me by the well; words that led me inwards and began this journey. Iron, the smith’s anvil, where I rekindled my spirit and learned the craft of my ancestors. And the nut, which is both nourishment and a seed seeking to root itself.
I am here because I choose to be here, now.