My Dryadic Self

Out of time.
Out of season.
Out of self.

Awareness
of my dryadic form
intensified and changed,
dramatically altering my physical appearance
over the past several seasons
marked as the years crawled on
or I crawled through them.

I reverted initially to Birch,
imagine at my age!
I lost weight became thin
and could have vanished.
I moved differently
no longer young,
attempting to play a game
whose rules I did not
do not know,
misguidedly trying to hold
onto a past by then already lost.

Gradually,
the Birch dream or nightmare faded,
as waking I arose
shifting form again,
this time an Oak sapling
and grew to stand alone
in the field of my despair
sentinel for my own life
sole watcher of my being.

As Beech now I have emerged,
from the leaf litter of my past,
completely formed rounder and fuller
in a body I do not yet,
or perhaps resist according recognition,
shaped in unfamiliar curves,
weighted more than feels healthy,
unsure if Queen of the Wood
suits me or not.

Will I next be Willow?
If so I will not weep,
nor pollarded will I tilt precariously
clinging to the edge of a rime,
but I will stand roots sunk
deep in the flowing waters of life,
drinking deep of being,
ever reaching forth,
embracing my dryadic self until the end.

Paused at the Edge of the River Flowing

On 2nd December 1982, I wrote a sequence of poems to mark the successful completion of a course of counselling to get over writer’s block. I had worked with a wonderful counselor who taught me to journey, though I’m not sure it was called that, and begin to engage my inner landscape/mindscape/soulscape. I can still go to the places I discovered with his guidance, still see and feel them in my being when I choose to do so.

The sequence of poems became a book I published two years ago: Paused at the Edge of the River, Waiting. Only since last week has that book gained a much fuller, deeper context for me. I have a new relationship with the words I wrote so many years ago. Words written by a me of several lifetimes ago, or so it feels. I used imagery that I really understand now.

And here is how I know this is the so . . .

Last week I spent a day in Langport, on the Somerset Levels, to engage the River Parrett. It is a river I’ve known since the Autumn of 2000. I have visited it and walked its banks in the company of another who has stepped out of my life, leaving pain and sorrow in his wake. At some point over this past Summer, however, I knew that the Parrett was my Muse. It is possible to reach a bit of it by walking out of the village where I live, but it is not a familiar part, and I really am not sure of the footpaths. Not yet.

Somehow, I knew that for my first real engagement with the Parrett it would have to be in and outside of Langport and on the way to Muchelney, parts of the Parrett I know. Well, last week I felt the time was right so I took two buses and spent £14.40 I didn’t really have to make the journey – the pilgrimage to meet my the River as my Muse for the first time.

The day was perfect, not too hot or chilly, sunny with clouds and a day there weren’t many people on the River. When I got there first, I walked out onto one of the little platforms standing over the River to look down into it.
Lgpt walk on
Then I ate the lunch I had packed sitting on one of the benches near the riverbank gazing into its flow.
River runs deep

After eating I walked out of Langport towards Muchelney. Being in no hurry I took my time, camera in hand as well as my notebook. I juggled recording visual and impressionary images to return to and ponder later. I walked with and through and past Willows that were alive with the calls of Willow Warblers and Long Tailed Tits. There was a Moorhen on the water skirting the edges of the bank. And Dragonflies, the whole path seemed to have become a dancing ground for them, their handsome red bodies shining in the Autumn sun.
Dragonfly

One had gotten too close to the water’s surface and was unable to get out and I had no way to rescue him. I could feel his terror and fear, flailing his wings trying to escape the River’s grasp. I sensed him getting tired and finally his resignation to his fate, a fish would come along at some point and take him. I sent my thoughts for a crossing to his Ancestral Dancing Ground that would mean he’d celebrate soon with his Dragoncestors, including the giant prehistoric ones.

I walked on and saw a Kingfisher hovering like a Kestrel and plonking into the River, again and again. When I looked at the not too well focused photo at home it turned out there were two of them on the far embankment.
Kingfishers

Just beyond the Kingfishers I paused at a place that held deep memories of time spent with the man who had stepped out of my life. Memories of sublime joy and affirmation, as well as ones of shard sharp sorrow. I paused and allowed the hurtful memories to be released, but there seemed no point banishing those that taught me about the joy my body could experience.
Puddle 1
The Willows who witnessed my joy also stood witness to this act of letting go. So, the hurt is gone, dropped into a puddle that will dry away and take the memories of pain with it. The memories of joy join the flow of the River, the Awen and Life. These are available now in the vast reservoir of experience to tap into when creation requires it.
Puddle 2

I walked farther on but did not get all the way to Muchelney, as I didn’t want to walk with the beasts in the fields. I got to where I got a clear look at the church there and that was fine for this visit.
Muchelney
So, turning around I ambled back.

Deep and magical encounters with River continued,
Reeds and flow
and those with the Willows followed.
Three Willows
I love Willows and have done for as long as I can remember, long before I knew they were my birth tree.

Then there was the Apple Tree. She is an old tree, or at least I sensed her thus. She is not whole, but bears a hole in a part of her that is broken off.
Apple 3Apple 2 Apple 4
Lichen covered she is wise. Still bearing fruit, she gave me an apple and told me that I must come and take some of her Mistletoe for Yule. I felt comfort in her presence and a connection of spirits, hers to mine and mine to hers.

I encountered a corvid who companions me. Corvid 1
As well as signs of the Mole People who guard my steps when I request their presence.
Mole hills

Taking a slightly different path, off the main track, for the last bit of the way into the village, I came upon, under more Willows, a swathe of tiny mushrooms.
Peedie mushrooms
I took a photo with my pen to show the scale. Peedie mushrooms.2 JPG
They were a wonder, though I didn’t know how much so until I pulled the close-up I took onto my computer.
IMG_4073
There were also some scary grey-black ones. A wonder, too, though in a different way. scary mushrooms

Back where I started I felt refreshed and renewed. Where it began

I had engaged the River Parrett as my River, my Muse. I claimed the space as sacred for and to me, in my life going forward. It is no longer shackled to memories that hurt my heart or stab my soul. I am free to know the Parrett as a manifestation, a riverfestation of the Awen.

I am building new memories. I am enjoying new experiences. I continue to learn about myself, my place and my purpose.

No longer am I paused at the edge of the river, waiting. Not even am I paused at the river flowing. There isn’t any more an edge at which to pause. I am part of the River. Part of the Flow. Part of the Awen that connects me to my Muse. Connects me to everything of wonder and mystery. life and being, creation and creativity.

Beyond the Day of Balance

Yesterday was an amazing day, the beginning of which I wrote about and posted in the morning.

It was of course followed by the rest of the day . . .

A day marked by intensity and contrasts, of emotions and reactions. I felt myself open, or being opened to a far deeper experience of the world around me, particularly the natural world. The terrain of my gods, those of this land and its memory. The landscape of my ancestors here and their wisdom. The spirits of the land upon which I live and who share with and sustain me as engage them walking  the fields and the footpaths near my home.

The opening up further, sensing more deeply, apprehending more fully came as a bit of a shock. I heard more that would be unuttered but for the the rustling Maize Maidens in the wind, the beating of the bird’s wing, the whistling of the breeze through the corvid feathers in my hat (that sometimes I mistake for the buzzing of bees). The longings of the small ones to be safe; the worry of the badgers, tucked in their setts along the path I walk, for their kin in the midst of the cull; and the relief of the apple boughs released from the burden of the fruit bending them nearly to breaking.

The happiness my cats feel at the demise of the fleas that have tormented them and me for too much of the summer, is palpable in the cottage. Their purrs are freer and more freely given as they stretched out in the morning sunshine in the middle of the floor in the same room within touching distance of each other. This I rejoiced to sense and to hear – their gratitude.

I looked at the various writing projects that have stacked up for far too long. Projects I could not face. Did not know where to start engaging. I looked at the stories and the worlds renewed before me. The characters, whose names I have heard for so long, reached out to me from the pages both typed and handwritten. I was able to renew the relationships, friendships with these individuals who have trusted me for so long to share their lives in story, history, poetry and song. Again, profound gratitude and a sense of responsibility — trusts remaining unbetrayed, and promises made, yet unfulfilled. I hope they wait in an orderly queue.

I am ready, with the experiences of yesterday, to embrace the disciple to fulfill those promises and keep faith with the trusts granted me. And for me to write more poetry, and share my insights in case there is meaning in my words not only for me, but for you who read them.

I feel still as if either I have burst some inhibiting bonds, or they have been shattered for me. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what I do with this newly found and new felt freedom. It is the time to do, more than to be. For me being, in the sense of the opposite of doing, is not a good place for me to stay. It is stagnating. I need The Awen to flow,  and more importantly, for me to flow with and be immersed in it. I can no longer just watch it go past, or ride it but to no creative result. The flow has certainly burst its banks. I have engaged The Awen and pledged myself to its work for me, but until yesterday I was somehow constrained in the fulfillment of my pledge, unable to work constructively with the energy. Even though I knew and know it is the energy that is at the centre of my life, the core of my being and the shaper of my soul.

I don’t really have any idea what happened in the intervening months, but they are then and this is now and yet beckons me onward. I am sure there were some lessons I had to learn, and I sincerely hope I have learned them and have, in ways I do not comprehend, assimilated them into my life to help carry me onward.

Beyond the Day of Balance is living with the full awareness that whilst balance allows renewal, it is not a place to create from or in, but a place to go where insight flares demanding acknowledgement, then from the few hours of refuge to begin once more the journeying forth into the next adventures and even more meaning.

Autumnal Equinox

I have been away from here most of the summer. I have been reorienting myself. I have been realigning my soul. I have been clearing the clutter of my mind.

Now, on the day of balance before the slow slide to Winter and its deep darkness, I feel more whole than I have for some time.

I set my alarm so I would be awake by 0630 and could watch the sun rise as I sat in bed. Quiet. Contemplating. Reflecting. I not only felt part of the sunrise as an observer, I was aware of participating in it at a profound level. I observed, but I was more than an observer.

At first the whole horizon was awash with soft light, diffuse, gentle. Slowly clouds came into view. Gray like smoke, wispy and fragile. The last light of the night braved the growing light. Refused to be extinguished. Resisted the light that would make it disappear for the length of the day.

The corvids flew from their roosts crawing and scrawking across the sky. A wood pigeon flew, rising and falling in flight like a winged tide moving closer to me. Another called in the distance.

With the clock ticked towards 0700, the traffic on the road below my window increased. The commute began. People in metal boxes with wheels hurled themselves east and west. They did not notice the sky or the growing light of the day’s sun’s return. Now the smokey clouds turned to fire as the angle of the light changed. More clouds in streaks gathered to witness the moment with me. Incrementally, the previously diffuse light on the horizon shrank.

The light consolidated. Brighter and brighter the place where the sun would appear revealed itself.

I sat transfixed before the open window. The cool morning air filled my lungs.

The last few moment seemed to drag out like hours. Then, then from behind an oak tree the great light blazed. A fixed point of intense energy compacted from where before there had been only energy so thinly drawn that it could not possibly have come from our nearest star. Gossamer light transformed to pure energy, fierce and no longer friendly. From light like that of a gentle shower to light like what comes from the mouth of a water canon. Light easy on the eye to that which blinds.

The field of Maize Maidens directly across the road did not dance for this sunrise. They stood still. Reverent in anticipation.

Going down to the kitchen to feed the cats I was treated to the second sunrise over the field. The light glancing off the tops of the Maidens’ headdresses. A different kind of light again. At a different angle energy scattered as it spread over the field.

During all this I kept pondering who was doing the moving, for the first time aware of the spinning of the earth in space. Aware that though I was sitting on my bed I was moving, whirling on this rocky world swathed in cloud and wrapped in oceans. It was a profoundly humbling moment. I sat there aware of everything around me. Aware of my smallness in the vastness, not only of space, but in relation to the earth as well. Infinitesimally small, but member of a species which in aggregate has caused so much damage to each other and the planet we call home.

Joy. Exhilaration. Grief. Gratitude. Regret. Anger. Wonder. Hope. Love.

Each emotion in turn as a thread and woven together in a Celtic knot of awareness in the centre of my being. Simultaneous. Discrete. At once, as one.

The day of balance has called me back to my truest self. To why I am here. To what I have to do. To my call and my purpose. No excuses. No equivocation. Only being and doing. Wholeness for me being oneness with creation. Insights. Words. Images. Not mine to hold. Mine to share. The spiral of time on which I ride through life has come back to this place again of decision and dedication. Being and becoming one now. Merged. Healed enough to begin. Again. For the first time.

The day of balance. Autumn. Harvest. Reaping. Ingathering. Tipping towards winter. The darkness without which there can be no creation, no birth.

May the blessings of the Equinox be yours this day.

Time Variously Considered

Time variously considered
is all or nothing at all.,
is incident and accident,
serendipity and destiny –
or it isn’t.
All things happen in its
non-existent frame –
or they don’t.
It parameters life by seconds
as by tick tocking minutes,
hours stretch
weeks escape
months turn on calendar pages.

Slipping away
hourglass sands fall
through the constricting centre
between future and past,
the now unable to hold back
the yets as they escape into thens.

Only at the narrow squeezing place
are we able to experience
the rush of existence
whistling by us
coursing through us
never able to settle for long beside us.

Swiftly surging
tenuously treading
rapidly racing
there is no quiet quelling
of the hiss whisper echo
of fleeting time flying
fracturing assumptions
immortality and fate
always on a collision course.

Are we real in its taloned grasp,
or would be we be real
only when we
realised relaxed released?
Then how would we know
in any case suddenly beyond
the key reckoners of being
marks on sticks,
megalithic monuments,
the atomic clock
rendered meaningless
and perhaps us as well.

Instead we live enshackled,
time marching on and waiting for no man.
time passing slowly,
seeing what’s become of me,
for if we allow it
will beat us into submission
subverting our quest for meaning,
our very reason for being.

Time can extrude
like fine wire,
to bind the hands
to tie the feet
to strangle the voice,
and cut off the circulation
of the spirit or extinguish it
paralysed mute unable
to do
to move
to speak enbreathed.

Time can also blow
like a menacing wind
ruining days with boredom,
tossing aside hours in waiting,
wafting the years away in yearning,
threatening sanity,
destroying hope,
leaving a wrecked life,
unlived.

Whether real or not –
construct of the mind,
premise of quantum physics,
millstone about the necks
of our psyches –
reminding us of mortality,
ambitions unfulfilled,
dreams shattered,
loves lost,
time is neutral
neither good nor bad,
thus it can be friend or foe
help or hindrance,
as benign as we make it,
as tyrannical as we allow it to be.

Samhaintide

Prepare now
for the Samhaintide
make ready
for the delicate dawns
the diaphanous dusks
are upon us.

They will not last long,
these daybreakings
these nightfallings,
before we realise
all will return to what
we know well
and cope with better.

As the light shrinks itself
making room for expanding darkness,
when the constellations
more brightly dance
singing across the star strewn sky,
we keep the Samhiantide.

Out the corner of the eye,
was that a shimmer,
a swiftly darting energy
manifested momentarily,
the shadow stealthily
moving as a cloud across sky?

Barely audible
almost beyond our hearing,
was that thrumming,
the muffled chanting of the ancestors,
just the comfortable side of discordant,
who no longer sing in our harmonies
whose melodies grate the senses?

Yet, yet the sight of them fills
us with wonder and reassurance,
their musics astonish offering us solace,
we do not know how
it is possible for us to understand.

Samhaintide,
prepare to encounter what
we do not expect and accept
what we embodied
do not now understand.

The mystery of death,
the other birth
shrouded until the last moments,
and let us not wait until death is upon us,
to embrace and be embraced by
the reality we are not alone
either in our living or our dying.

Open and let go,
prepare now
for the Samhaintide
make ready
for the delicate dawns
the diaphanous dusks
are upon us.

They will not last long,
these daybreakings
these nightfallings,
before we realise
all will return to what
we know well
and cope with better . . .
unless we choose
a different way of being.

Clouds & Fire, Shadow & Smoke

On walk a week or so ago I was observing and pondering different phenomena of the world around me, letting myself try and understand forms of being, entities of energy that are alien in their expression of existence, but in their own ways alive . . .

I followed the clouds
scudding across the summer blue sky
chased the shapeshifters unsurpassed
moving clumsily in comparison
unable to glide
from field to pathway
to landscapes shorn of grass
to the road
though fields studded
with black wrapped
silage bales waiting
immobile
the grasses and flowers
unable to sway or bend
in the breezes
unable any longer to breathe.

The clouds moved ambushing the sun
turning day to dusk
and magicking away shadows,
those deceivers of form
who lengthen and shorten
from hour to hour,
who blinked out
and as soon winked back
into sight once more.

Clouds and shadows
playing
each with the sun
using greys and white
light and darkness
as pawns in a game
seeking and hiding
teasing the spirits
tempting me to follow,
irresistible
in variants of grey,
so many and only one word
to span the space
between white and black
mixtures of both in degrees
of intensity and neither
at the same time.

All the while
so many words for beige:
ecru and sand,
oatmeal and stone,
tan and taupe,
but only a single word
for the shades and subtly
of tone and concentration
for all those colours
strung in space
where white and black
mingle but do not meet
cannot connect in
absence and presence untinted.

I chased the clouds in wonder
and followed them amazed,
until I turned a corner
and found a fire,
dancing danger
in the orange shards
that have no form
but possess for an instant shape
melding and fracturing
in ceaseless motion,
reckless restless gestures,
flickering and twisting,
contorted flame throwing heat
producing waves of distortion
the hedge behind
shimmering into invisibility.

Rough pieces of flame
tearing from the firebase
like bits of fabric
carelessly tossed aside
the conflagration mesmerising
daring me to watch
taunting me lest I turn away,
transfixed I am unable
to move when a sudden shift
brings a moment of wind
that calls forth smoke
to join the fire in its
flirtatious dance
and as it seems to see me
it overtakes me
and I am wreathed
in the visible choking scent
dry wood and drier grass.

Then as suddenly as it joined
the dance the smoke cleared
leaving only the flames
visible to me,
rising high extending
breaking free the escape
gravity’s pull vanishing into
emptiness
not bound by the forces
holding me earthbound
keeping me together,
still the frenzied dervish
of red yellow blue
spins and twists
reaching forth as if
to grab the clouds above my head,
yet the fire cannot
for all its mad straining
span that space before
vanishing angry and unsubdued
until its food runs down
and only frustrated embers
remain when flame and raging
are only memories
and the clouds
have shifted shape
a thousand times
and shadows in their turn
receded.