A Deity of the Land Where I Live

I have wondered for the year we have been living in a small village in Avalon who the deity/deities of the land here might be.

On Saturday I got the answer. I was waiting for a gathering of our Village Hall Committee, of which I am a member, to decide on the new paint colours for the Hall. Across the road is the Village Green that not only has over a dozen apple trees, but it, like our property (which includes a very wee orchard) abuts the Great Orchard. I was just looking and enjoying the quiet of the morning before the grass cutting commenced in the fields around the village.

All of a sudden Pomona arrived. It makes sense, the Romans were here for a goodly while. They seemed to have left Her here, or She decided to remain after they up stakes and returned to the continent. I’m not sure when the apples trees arrived in Avalon, but they are all over the place. Mostly, I have to admit, cider orchards. Ours was part of the Great Orchard and the cider trees were taken out and replaced by eating apples. Our trees are young so our harvest was not huge. We got half a dozen Bramleys. There were over a dozen Howgate Wonders and one Worcester Pearman. There is one tree in our garden of an undetermined variety, but has many sweet red apples. We also have a pear and plum tree, the former is laden with fruit and the latter had a dozen or so plums that were added to some others gave us for my first, and unsuccessful, attempt at jam making. The resulting plum sauce is yummy though and I have since gotten the hang of jam making.

Today I looked for images of Pomona as part of wanting to create a shrine for Her, and found a nice one on a prayer card that I ordered and, as a project for some time in the future, a very complicated cross stitch pattern based on the famous image by Bryne-Jones. I took a glass dessert bowl shaped like an apple (I have a set of five of them so it won’t be missed). I took some artificial apple blossom from a bunch I have and a plastic red apple I’ve had for ages and placed them in the bowl. Behind it is a postcard of the Apple Pavement at Hereford Cathedral. This is special since my husband was the Project Manager at the quarry that provided or sourced the stones for the pavement and he did the drawings used to construct it from the original design. It’s quite stunning, if I say so myself, and worth a look in on if you are ever in Hereford.

Pomona Shrine

One of our projects after the leaves fall, to the relief and with blessing of the owner of the Great Orchard, my husband and I are going is to tackle removing the mistletoe from the trees there. You might think this is not something a Druid would do, but sorry. Mistletoe is a parasite and has already killed one tree in the small orchard right next door to us. I really think they ought to remake the classic image of the Druid with the golden sickle taking the mistletoe from the oak and replace it with a Druid with a golden chainsaw removing the stuff before it kills the tree. If you are all warm and fuzzy about mistletoe I suggest you read about how it grows and what it does to the trees infests; you might begin to think about it differently.

Our orchard tending is one reason that I think Pomona arrived. Even my husband who thinks I have way too many altars is nonetheless quite happy for there to be a shrine to Pomona where we can both engage with it. The photo of it here is not in place it will ultimately reside, that is still to be figured out, though I have some ideas.

Closed for the Night

Recently, I have been allowing myself to open up more to the world around me. To the dancing of the wind scattering the long strands of my hair into wondrous tangles. To the patter of the rain on my back as I work in the garden. To the summer sun, with whom I have an uneasy truce. To the mad chuttering of the squirrels, impatient calling of the magpies and the sweet songs of the small birds who visit our feeders. I am able to do this from the time I get up in until the sun goes down.

From sunset to sunrise, I find that I have close myself off and down again, to anything beyond the safe walls of my home. I sense quite acutely now the creatures of my immediate and farther landscape. But for now I will not allow myself to extend, because I daren’t engage with the countryside in my county. The Badger Cull has returned.

I simply cannot bear to hear the silent cries of the dying or feel the agony of the wounded. I learned this last year. I am not strong enough to endure this once more. At sunset, I offer ‘prayers’ to the gods and spirits of the land that the Badgers do not suffer when they are exterminated. It is, I admit, the request of one who knows better, because there will only be suffering. No only for the Badgers killed, but for the members of setts decimated in the nightly carnage.

In the morning, I wake to the beauty of the sunrise, the bird song, the view of my yew and apple trees, but I am still haunted by the knowing that so may of my Badger kin will never know the feeling of the wind over their backs, the rain on their noses or the sun warming the entrance to their sett. I pause and as I give thanks for another day, I whisper farewell to those who have died during the night in a misguided attempt to control a disease that has by now in the land itself. harder still is that we will never know how many healthy Badgers died, and died in vain.