An afternoon at RSPB Swell Wood

First I want to thank my friend who is an administrator for the area RSPB for taking me on this wonderful adventure, since I don’t drive.

When we headed out from my cottage yesterday afternoon, it was a bit mizzly so we went to plan B – Swell Wood, plan A was Ham Wall. That’s for another day. It had nearly stopped when we arrived at the car park where there were only two cars.

Arrival

From the time we opened the doors, and in spite of the road noise, bird song filled the air. Since the feeders were empty, she filled one of them with sunflower seeds.

Our first stop was the hide for the heronry. With all the leaf cover it took a few minutes to locate the nests. And, I forgot my binoculars so we shared. Saw several nests heard lots of calling from the treetops. Saw an egret nest and egrets flying off as well as heron. There were other little birds in closer as well.

We then walked around the top walk and at one point the road noise vanished. The atmosphere was magical. Once we’d made that circuit we took off for Scarp Trail, lots of up and then lots of down, followed by way more up to get back to the car.
Virdiditas 3Virdiditas 2

All around there were delicate grasses, yellow archangel and remnants of bluebells, and one lone cuckoo-pint.

Grass with seedsGrass with multiple seeds

Yellow archangelCuckoo pint

Saw Alfred’s cakes and for the first time knew what it was that I’d seen a few times before.

Alfreds cakes

The ivy twisting around the tree trunks looked like Celtic knot work. I have wondered before if it is not where the idea for such patterns originated.

Knot work 5Knot work 4

Knot work 3Knot work 2

Knot work 1

The views across the Levels were amazing. Hard to believe how recently they were under water for weeks and weeks.

Levels 1Levels 2

I marvelled at the beetles on the green leaves, and what I think are musk beetles, though I didn’t get a photo.

Red beetles

When we got back to the car after filling a second feeder my friend moved the car to the other side of the car park and we waited to see who’d take up the offer of food. It didn’t take long for a pair of Chaffinches to arrive and work the ground for what had fallen from the holes in the feeder right in front of us. Then to the other feeder a Greater Spotted Woodpecker arrived. We heard some hungry noises coming from a hole in a tree before we were back at the car and figure this must be a parent bird.

Greater spotted 3Greater spotted 2Greater spotted

At the same time a squirrel showed up with the Chaffinches and worked the ground. When the woodpecker moved to the closer feeder another visitor took over the second feeder.

Squirrel 4Squirrel 1

Squirrel 2Squirrel 3

For those brief few hours, I soaked up the tranquillity and the virdiditas. Tall trees reaching up to embrace the sun, which wasn’t much in evidence, linked like the ribs of a vaulted cathedral ceiling. Air slightly moist and smelling sweetly clean. It was an opportunity to relax and allow the spirits of the wood, on the edge of the Levels, to reach out to me as I opened to allow the connection and communion. There was the low strong murmur of tree speech all around me. I felt welcomed. I felt at home. I felt the presence of dryads and woodland sprites. I sensed the dancing energies of trees and of the bird life all about me. Chirrup, song, melody was all around me heard with my inner and outer ears. Vision, vista, beauty were everywhere I looked seen with my inner and outer eyes.

I was walking in Swell Wood and I was walking in The Wood, if that makes sense. I was there and beyond there. The magical nature of this small, magnificent gem of a woodland opened the portal for me to enter a Wood much larger and far more complex. I was moving in two realms, happily nattering away with my friend and at the same time communicating in silent presence with the greater energy of where I was, beyond where I was.

I was very aware of being on the edge of the Somerset Levels, a place of fascination and enticement for me. Although I am not able to get down into them without much travel and expense on buses, I love them. They are a place of particular mystery and wonder. There are connections I’ve not had the opportunity to explore fully, but I feel the pull. I it feel more strongly now. The gods and spirits of the Levels are calling me and I know I need to find ways of entering the openness of this landscape and meet them more fully. Yesterday, as we drove back through the spaces they inhabit I heard whispers and echoes reaching out to me, calling me to engage with them. It is another calling I am not going to be able to pretend I don’t hear for very much longer.

The deep Mystery of Willow is present in the Levels in a way that I sense is unique. Where I live I tiptoe on the edges of it, does this sound familiar? But I have not allowed myself, and also at some profound level of my being not been allowed until now to contemplate such a connection.

I have made deep links with Yew and Beech already, but Willow only by a gentle touch not mutually deep exchanges between self, being and presence. And it’s not only the mystery of the Willow; there is other mystery and magic there for me. There is something about the land itself, even beyond the surface and visible landscape that calls to me. From where I sit now it is ephemeral and insubstantial, but it is surely real, reaching out and pulling me to explore.

All of these experiences are intensifying my practice of Druidry, enriching my spiritual and religious path, as well as my self-understanding as a Druid. They show me I have so much to experience still and only hint at how deeply these realities and experiences will take me into the realms of the gods, the ancestors and spirits of this land who frame, shape and ground my life and being as a Druid, as a person.

All this wonder, enrichment, challenge, awareness from a brief journey to and through an RSPB reserve.

A Bit of Cat Relief

Yesterday , before I began the journey I shared in my previous post all three cats were snoozing and I recorded the sensation in the cottage.

It is energetically still here
when they snooze
in sun drenched windowsills
or retreat to the floor
when it is time to cool down.

It is energetically still here
when they disappear
into the land of feline dreams
a land we can never go
nor see nor understand.

It is quiet without
the great deep rumbling,
or the gentle soft purrs
requesting cuddles,
although who cuddles whom
is a question of some debate.

It is quiet and still here
but the space is not empty
for their presences remain
tangible visible known.

The space is not vacant
for their furry bodies
remain sides rising and falling
with each breath
occasionally twitching
during the chase of phantom prey.

When they wake up
munging meows
gentle purrs
even the language of insistent silence
fill the space once more
with the sounds of audible presence,
mostly.

Wyntre the largest sends,
this message loud and clear
please stroke me
so I know that I exist
am loved,
and by the way now
that I’m awake feed me.

Wyntre

Nocturne the smallest
reaches out with white claws
from beneath her black paws
beckoning a cuddle
on her own definite terms.

Nocturne

Purfling the eldest,
stands resolutely by the willow stick
willing me to take it up,
prodding it and me into action
to play circle chase
until my arm gives out.

Purfling

It is often energetically
still and aurally quiet,
but they are here and present
my responsibility as well as,
company friends companions,
the furry members of my family.

* * *
As I write this out they are still once more; but Purfling is snoring in the sunshine as she soaks up the heat in positions only a cat can achieve. Bless.

Thirteen Years

Thirteen years
time spent and life lived
through dreams formed and lost,
but dreams still remain.

A day of bittersweetness,
the complicated day-taste,
mixing the sweetness of joys
with the sadness of disappointments,
whilst meaning vanishes slowly
in pungent autumnal mists,
homecoming
heartlosing
soulfinding
rooted – these gods holding
grounded – these ancestors claiming
held – these landspirits embracing,
harking thenward
to the mythic
bidding yetward
to the neomythic,
the age of new mything
endeavouring to capture
ways to comprehend
nature’s forces
in postindustrialmodernity
the gods ancestors spirits
enlivening this land,
rewriting their histories
retracing their storylines
rendering their meanings
and ultimately our own,
through the lay lines of the land
echoing calling reaching
through the meridians of the body
energy tracks and traceries
mirroring shadowing flowing
just beneath the soils
no less than our skins.

Thirteen years
time spent and life lived
through promises made and broken,
but promise still remains.

Animāginē

On my birthday the end of April when I was walking on a south coast of England beach I collected 13 heart shaped stones or shells and other bits of scallop and oyster shell, as one does. And here are a few examples:

Black heart   Oyster heart   Three hearts

Usually I find one or two, but since I’d not been to the beach in many months, perhaps I was being caught up, as it were. When I got home, I put them all in one wooden salad bowl, which I use to place such things. The two big ones have bigger bits from different collecting forays or walks, and the individual sized ones have bit from specific collecting adventures or small pieces. They are all over the house, but mostly in the kitchen and my office/library/altar space room.

The other day I was looking at the birthday collection and found this, though the photos don’t quite capture what the physical eye sees, but you might get the idea:

Drummer 1     Drummer 2

 

Drummer 4       Drummer 3

I had not seen the image before, and maybe it’s not all that clear to anyone else, but it is very apparent to me. I now understand it to be a spirit image or animāginē, from the two Latin words of the same meaning where in this case the lines indicate long sounded vowels. Only now it seems she wanted to be make herself known to me. Sometimes she seems to be playing a drum and at others she is scrying or writing. I write. I use my drums. And whilst I don’t scry I do see things in showings/visions, which is a bit hard to represent otherwise. She is presented on a bit of oyster shell. As an animāginē she is very powerful. I am not sure what our journey together is, but in my experience such energies, presences, guides do not come on a whim. They do not just show up for a cup of tea and a bit of chitchat, they come for a reason. They bear a message, warning, gift, invitation or . . . At this point I’m not sure which in this instance.

Just now I turned the shell over and there is another female looking animāginē:

   Guardian 4   Guardian 2

Oh my, a twofer! I’d not seen the second one until just now. She seems to represent an older energy or presence. She is more shrouded, more enigmatic, more mysterious. I have no idea what to make of her, and to be honest I’m not all that sure what to make of her sister on the inside face of the shell. And as I type this maybe that is part of understanding the meaning. The animāginē on the outside face of the shell would be more hidden, less obvious, a protectoress of she who works on the inside. Again seen with the physical eyes she appears to be one thing, but the camera’s seems to show a dragonish face, so maybe this is a shapeshifter.

I am simply putting forth ideas here since I have not begun to work with either of them. I shall certainly have to spend time questing with, journeying with, pondering upon the nature and meaning of these two. I know what to call how they are presented to me; I am not at all sure what to call what they are in themselves, what manner of being nor the name behind who and what is represented. I have no idea what I shall find. I have no idea if they are related tightly to the sea or whether the sea, the great representation of the unconscious, is part of what the meaning holds. Could she be some aspect of me trying to push forth, who is well protected by the outside energy? Could she be a teacher? I have no idea at the present.

So many questions and so much intrigue. So much is revealed, or presents itself with the intention of or desire to be revealed or known if we only pay attention with our eyes, our ears, our minds, our hearts and our intuition. I am sure I will share more about her/them as I work with these animāginē.