spring: sap rising

Hello!

My goodness, it has been a while…

Since the last post on this blog, I have married (with an oaken ring!) and moved to the incredible town where our interfaith marriage was celebrated. I have also plunged into another horrible, wordless depression, and emerged on the other side with some radically changed ideas about what I am doing and why. And now spring is here! I can really feel the sap rising.

Over the next few weeks I will make some changes to this blog, to harness and channel the renewed enthusiasm that always comes with spring. This time I plan to keep up the momentum.

Right now, I am fulfilling a decade-long ambition by (finally!) studying the tarot. The course I am following is provided by the wonderfully grounded and inspirational Beth Maiden at Little Red Tarot. At two weeks in, it has already taken me to some deep and unexpected places, which has inspired copious amounts of notes in my journal. I plan to share the journey in a dedicated section on this blog – please drop in and join the conversation!

My posts on deity will have their own area, where I can indulge all the mysticism and reverence in which my soul delights, leaving the core of this blog free for more topical posts about forthcoming events and conversations in druidic cyberspace. Speaking of which… in the next few months I will produce a video talk or two for the ADO exploring our Taliesin-inspired approach to druidry. My first planned talk will focus on Caer Siddi, the seat of illusion, where Gweir sings woefully before the spoils of Annwn. What is the nature of the chains that hold us back from reaching the spoils of Annwfn, the wisdom and inspiration of the deep? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic.

The last, tentative, change will be to introduce an area for exploring flower remedies. I plan to train as a Bach practitioner this year, in the hope of helping others, after receiving so much help myself. This blog embraces magic and intention-setting, with a strong emphasis on healing relationships with the natural world: this is what I feel flower remedies have to offer. They are empowering. Having said that, over the past few weeks I have found myself frustrated by the lack of depth in what I read about these remedies online – most sites seem to parrot the brief descriptions given by Dr. Bach without exploring what they mean in a modern context, in a culture with a radically different understanding of emotional and spiritual wellbeing from 1930s Britain. At the moment all I have to offer is personal experience, but that is a start, and I hope to write more as I progress.

hornbeam

hornbeam

How is everything on the other side of the screen?

/|\ Cadno

learning a landscape

The first time I set foot in Warrington, the home of all my working hours, it was midnight, under a harvest moon – a kind light.  I was changing trains from London on the way back to Liverpool, slightly tipsy and still buzzing from the city, singing with anticipation at the dizzying amount of doors that opened in September.  That moonlit walk was probably the moment I thought I would stay here in the North after all, and make my home on the shores of the Mersey.  Two weeks later, I watched a kingfisher dart down the Bridgewater canal as I walked off the tension from an interview, and the decision was sealed.

In retrospect, perhaps I pushed too hard too fast; I aimed myself at this job like an arrow, but the doing of it has been harder than the getting of it. Watching the slow contours of the hills from a packed commuter train each morning, spending my days in a purpose built business park on the edge of an industrial estate, I begin to understand that I am part of this landscape now, and it is part of me. No more libraries full of precious books, or well-tended oases of green in the city where I can slip off my shoes at lunchtime in the sun; nowhere to hide from the real implications of the lifestyle I have chosen. The energy used by this computer is produced in a power station I can see from the window of our staff canteen. Most days, the air smells of the laundry powder manufactured in the plant next door.  I walk to the station through a fuming gridlock of one-driver cars that stretch from 4pm – 6pm and from the centre of town to the Motorways.

As second impressions go, these have not been promising.

Perhaps I have more to learn from love/hate relationships, having grown up somewhere so beautiful and gentle and wild; as an adult, my most profound experiences of the British landscape have all been a challenge.  Warrington is not an easy place to love, but in learning to love it, I am learning much more about what it really means to walk a druid path in C21st Britain.

My first step was to start a small journal at the back of my notepad at work. The first entry, from late November, reads:

Heron tracks in the mud along the riverbank. Moorhen call. A flowering hop plant growing through a crack in the concrete embankment, further North than I have ever seen wild hops before. Willow, hawthorn, alder and birch along the riverside footpath; goldfinch, chaffinch and a wren (singing but not sighted). Magpies everywhere.

An introductory chat with a colleague revealed that kingfishers were sometimes spotted on the river as well as the canal, and that at high tide the footpath is often completely submerged, even this far inland.

As the winter wore on, I tried to stay open to the nature of this place, feeling the wild pulse of life through the human noise of the industrial landscape.  It was not easy.  In December, I would pause on the footbridge of the station between trains and watch the sun rise over Helsby hill to the South; once the dawn had advanced enough to make this little ritual impossible, I struggled.  But crafting true relationship takes time and perseverance, accruing in slow layers and sometimes washing away in the currents to reform in different drifts.  The industrial Mersey has taken my mystical tendencies and dumped them, unceremoniously, in the cold mud – where, once I stop despairing, I start to really notice the intricate web of life that flourishes all around us, even here, in spite of everything. Slowly, some days more willingly than others, I have started to let the river-silted, mugwort-tangled song of this place seep into my awareness.  I don’t always hear its call, but I am learning.