Epona’s Daughter

I did not get to spend
Epona’s day in quiet contemplation,
though I held the early dawn
honouring Her gifts
with my waking intentions.

In honouring Her, however,
I honour too my Spirit Horse,
a faithful companion
for many years
on many journeys
through many struggles.

She appears to me
a dappled gray mare,
with charcoal mane and tail
and a gentle disposition,
patient and brave,
inspiring confidence
and sharing her courage
as we travel through
portal door gate
into Otherworld
together.

Are you Epona’s foal,
the gray daughter
of the white mother,
and the dark father
of deepest night?

She possesses the wisdom,
knowing and certainty
to take me between worlds,
in her company
I willingly move from
the familiar here to there
engage the mystery
seek the answers
acknowledge the powers
beyond the strictly
mortal experience.

Today I honour Epona,
and in so doing
honour she on whose
back I travel beyond
my body and safe return.

Counting the Days

I no longer do Christmas, so I no longer do Advent.

This year, however, it does not mean I’m not opening little windows every night to expose what’s behind them. It is a calendar of sorts. It comes in the form of blister packs. Twenty-eight days to mark off until the Winter Solstice. Twenty-eight days until I am free of the anti-depressants I’ve been taking for the past three years and nine months.

I began the journey off of them just days after the Autumnal Equinox. It did not register at the time that it meant I’d be taking the last one on the eve of the Solstice. The timing may seem a coincidence, but I prefer to see it as a co-incidence. Not a random series of events, but one with more intention behind it. More power to assist me on the journey to be ‘drug free’.

I could undertake this step, and knew I would do, once I was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain the UK. It also came soon after the Decree Absolute from my second marriage came through. Both of these pieces of paper gave me freedom. Freedom of soul, energy, mind and body. That they arrived within weeks of each other . . . hmmmm . . . another coincidence? I think and believe not.

In any case, I am taking the journey to liberation from the tablets with deliberation and intention. I have always thanked them for enabling me to make the passage through some very difficult and challenging years and circumstances. I worked with them and they worked for me. Now that I no longer need them I am working with them be released from their hold on my body and mind. Over the course of the 45 months I was on them the dosage was gradually increased under the supervision of my GP, as my body seemed to have gotten used to the amount of drug and needed more to maintain the same level of functioning. The dose was doubled twice; and again under a different GP’s supervision over the past three months the dose has been halved gradually to the original amount of medication. There is no going off such powerful drugs cold tofu.

I realise that the journey of liberation I am making has not worked for everyone. For some it is just not possible to completely be removed from the medication and function. We are all different. Some who have had terrible withdrawal symptoms and say that if they’d known it was so hard to go off them, they’d never taken them in the first place. It depends on the person. It depends on the prescription given.

These last eleven days I approach with gratitude. I am thankful that the medication worked for me and did what I needed it to do at the time I needed the support. I am equally grateful that I am able to cease it now that I no longer need that support.

Through a Deep Borne Past

Through a deep borne past
we move through today
into tomorrow,
the future
a phoenix rising
from the ashes
of yesterday’s
victories and failures,
the just sped through
now.

The title words of this reflection shot through my awareness as I was in the shower this morning. Repeating them like a mantra I was able to hold onto them until I made my way dried and dressed to my journal to transcribe them and the words following here. I KNOW in my bones, in the interstices of my very self, what they mean, and for me at least how significant they are for how I actively perceive my life and its text, context and subtexts.

The past we carry – past as in yesterday no less or more than the past of six lifetimes ago.

This does not mean the past is, ought or need be a burden. We carry it lightly, but bear it deep within us.

What does this then say about our present? Where does that fit in?

The present mediates then and yet. Both are managed, as it were, through the prism, the lens of now.

One comes from somewhere and is on a journey to somewhere else, and it is the actual steps of the journey that comprise the now. We can’t go back. We can’t skip ahead. This keeps us on our path, one step and footfall at a time.

We have had, of course, or I believe that I have had as many futures as I have had pasts. Or to put it more forcefully: I believe that I have as many pasts as futures in the larger view of multiple lives across time. More prosaically, even if you do not credit past or future manifestations/incarnations, since every yesterday had, and has, a tomorrow, and every tomorrow has, and will have, a yesterday and we move between one and the other from yesterday and tomorrow through today. Then for all of us there have been as many pasts as there are futures.

This is the reason it is important to honour every day, to honour the everyday. In so doing we don’t just slip along through life. We step with intention. We move with deliberation. We make choices. We acknowledge mistakes and accept their lessons. We take responsibility. We are not passive. We don’t just observe our life; we live it. It’s not riding on our own personal high speed train, where one day blurs into another. It’s putting on our hiking boots and going out to live in all emotional, physical and spiritual weathers.

We may only have a vague idea of what direction we are heading, maybe a crude map, with key markers on it, but that’s good, as it should be. There is not OS map for the soul, not satnav for a life journey. There is no knowing what the topography of tomorrow will be like. We only find out on the ground. There is no one, or should not be someone, telling us to take the third exit in the roundabout of experience. We have to live them to find out. So, we will stumble onto boggy bits and get through them. We will confront rivers swollen with the torrents of pain or distress, and we will ford them. We will trek across barren places and through barren times, but we will get through them to greener places again.

Living with an awareness of one’s deep borne past gives us hints that arise from both our knowledge and our knowing. It is made up of, as we are made from, the large small, the happy and hurtful events of this life, as well as those we have lived before. In all this it is vital to remember that the future is much more vast than next weekend or a score of years from now, for it means who we will be the next time as well.

But now, and not just this present life, but this very instant, is what constitutes and makes the past meaningful; because the moment you read the first part of this sentence or as you read along word for word, the present has become the past.

The now is always, and inescapably, becoming simultaneously both then and yet.

For me it’s part of how I get my head around time, the flow of time, my flow by time through space, the measures and structures of my existence.

Thinking and writing about these things, and reading them, in some inexplicable way becomes part of the then that we have walked together into the mystery of yet.

May the nows of today bring you meaning from the then and courage for the yet.

Elen’s Long Presence

When I was lost and wandering
at nineteen years of age,
the suggestion was made
that I retreat for a time
to a nunnery,
spend a week with the sisters
at the convent of St Helen,
but it never happened,
I was not sent,
I did not go.

A decade later
on a journey guided
by a counsellor,
because the way of writing
had closed itself to me,
I found a Lady of great power
trapped in an amber coffin
bedded in wildflowers
and healing herbs
upon which strayed
her auburn hair;
I revived her,
who was in one sense me
yet very other.

Thirteen years later
at the initiation of one
dear to me middle named
Ellen I made my way with
her and others to thin Iona,
where and when I found
there was a soulscape
and soul homeland for me,
here I remain today,
on its larger landmass
safe and settled,
as much as human
embodiment will allow.

In another three years
I commissioned a drum
and rattle be made,
the latter’s soundings sung
by small Iona stones,
both instruments shaped
in a North American elk hide,
the most powerful and mysterious
the maker had ever used he said,
and its remains remain with me.

A lull then
growing shifting changing
beliefs partners countries
that resulted eventually
in receiving a ring
crafted in red gold from Rhyl,
in the land of my ancestors,
a connection to Mascon’s dream
of sovereignty’s goddess Elen,
who had red hair and
wore red gold and amber,
long before I knew their story
red gold was my favourite
and amber held as yet it does
great power and presence for me.

Over the next five years
two experiences,
one on the track
near Wyland Smithy
a group of deer jumped a fence
in front of me and one paused,
a young antlered stag
to stare deep into my eyes
and pierced my soul,
in the way the sound
of a bellowing stag
on a hill across Loch Tarff
stirred in me ancient wanderings.

Away from the wild places
of the Highlands and Islands
tucked on the edge of the Levels,
a stone came to me
an Antlered One raised on its surface,
but even as images appeared
and reappeared,
the link was not made,
and it would be another
four years before the books
arrived that would corner me,
to turn and face Elen,
and begin my journey to understand
the trail on which she
both led and followed me
for half a century,
patient no longer
now as Winter descends,
for the Reindeer Goddess and I
must now begin our work together.

This poem is a timeline of sorts for my relationship with Elen (Elen of the Ways, the Antlered/Reindeer Goddess), even and especially when I did not know that I was connected to Her. In the next few days I will write more about this relationship and how I am coming to understand it. A relationship such as this has implications and ramifications across all areas of my life and will frame every part of it from now on. Excited? Yes. Uncertain? Oh yes. Terrified? Who would not be? But given what I have shared here there in an inevitability that is in an odd way reassuring.

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.

Fully Engaging The Awen – the Next Step

Have been doing a lot of thinking about what I have to do to be ready to move forth from the act of commitment so recently made. Everything hinges on really coming to grips with and letting the creative part of me — the part I want so badly to access and the part, quite frankly that scares me shitless, yet yearns to be liberated. I say that because, for me in the past, I have been terribly restrained and constrained in what I allowed myself to do creatively. I have sensed the force, the wild and unpredictable power of The Awen and all that it brings with it to be dangerous, and at the same time beguiling and compelling and oh so tempting, and thus I’ve gone to the brink and always pulled back.

Now, however, pulling back is no longer an option, I have stepped into tomorrow, stepped forth to meet my yet. I have opened up so much in recent months. Slowly, my hearing has sharpened so that when I am outside I hear more clearly than I ever have done. My aural sense is almost as strong these days as my visual sense — one reason I am now taking music lessons. I feel confined and cramped indoors and I have to be out lots because that is where The Awen lives and moves and has its being most strongly for me. And I have to be out there with it to engage, though it feels sometimes like I’m also running away from it, playing tag. Flitting and flirting with it, but never letting us get close enough to merge.

I desperately want to open myself up fully to this power and to discover what I can do when I do that — it’s just that last step over the precipice that up to now eluded me, or I evaded.

I realise that no one can tell me how to do this, no else understands exactly how this challenge shapes for me, let alone what happens next. Some would just say, ‘Jump!’ And I don’t see why I find that bit of advice so difficult to act upon. But that is not my way. I take the path in steps of believing not in leaps of faith, which sometimes I see as shortcuts, bypassing experiences vital to the journey. Yet both ways are based on trust, reveal different sorts of truth.

Well, part of it is has to do, no doubt, with loss of control. Part of it is that I don’t have any real experience of myself as truly creative and creatively focused woman. I guess it’s the last step in some ongoing integration process, integral to my very being, enabling me to live with integrity . . . and yet the hardest part, the part that really matters.

Another part of it may be throwing off the last vestige of the old learning about what art is for and what creativity means that I got from my father, corrupted by his limited and limiting views of the proper roles for women, principally his wife and daughter.

I am so, so close now having made the commitment, to accepting the invitation with my whole being. In some ways The Awen is the lover with whom at this point I must engage — if that language is even appropriate here; but I sense that it is in my case, and given my history and challenges that it is exactly the right language.

I can see now to the beyond the edge of this for here I am . . . all I can be and all that I desire and could ever want in the way of fulfillment awaiting and me embracing it with joy and relief and abandon stretches out before me. . . and maybe that’s some sort of key. I have to see a hint what I KNOW to be my path forward and the frame that will shape my journey to the end of this occurrence, and in some way sensing in the mists those I hold most dear and who are yet to join me on this sojourn.

The Badger’s Gift

Last weekend I happened upon a dead badger on the sidewalk around the corner from where I live. S/he had been hit on Friday night or early Saturday morning.

It was very upsetting to see this sight. I reported it to the Badger Trust, who log such incidents to help keep track of badgers and see if there are patterns around deaths, and the to Council for removal.

Several people walked by and were trying hard to ignore the body.

I spent time with the body, I allowed myself to marvel at the front claws so perfect for digging and the so sharp compared to the well worn back ones.

I studied the fur, appreciating the texture and colours.

After a while I sensed that the spirit/energy had not left the Badger. So, I spent time helping him/her let go and return to the Feasting Sett of the Badgercestors. I was given a name to refer to this badger – Baskin. After a brief visit to the Badgercestoral Sett, Baskin returned to me. This is not unusual. Other creatures have done this when I helped them let go and I needed their aid for some purpose.

Since I am looking for a new place to live, it was clear Baskin would remain and help me locate my new sett, as it were. I was humbled by this act of generosity and presence. Baskin now walks with me everywhere at little ahead on the right side, about 2 o’clock. It is a comforting presence to me.

Fast forward six days. Today was not a good day starting out. I have not been sleeping well worrying about the enforced move upcoming due to the landlord selling up, still looking for a job, and taking a course to help me be more employable since my university degrees are of no use to me in that regard.

I went out for a walk out of the village and made my way to the stream. The sun was glinting on the water at the bridge.


The clear ringing message to me was: You cannot capture the dance of the flow any more that you can hold the sound of the musics. Then I went to the gate into the field where I saw the young deer last spring. I called on the gods and ancestors, and the spirits of the land in the place where I live. I asked Nemetona to assist me as well in finding the safety of a new sanctuary. Baskin was there just the other side of the gate, looking up with affection and approval. Badger companions have at times been rather harsh with me when I needed that, apparently now I need gentleness.

As I turned to walk up the drive to where the Tall Oak stands I looked down and saw

My heart rose and I laughed with joy. . . A Badger Stone, a wee Brock Rock on the cement drive over a metre from all the stones of the rest of the drive.

Thousands of them and this one made its way to the crest of the bridge. I picked it up and sang my gratitude for the gift of encouragement.

From there I walked to the Tall Oak and around the path along its other side. After I had taken a few photos of the newly budding and blooming Gorse, my phone rang. It was from the HR department of a business I applied to on 8th December! I’d been short listed for an interview to be held on Monday. Because of the experience of finding the Badger Stone, I was feeling happy and positive and sounded it on the phone. The job would make enough money to live on and have a life. I don’t know how the interview will turn out, but it is the first one I’ve had in months. And at a time I really need one. It seems more than just an accident in the timing.

I have done other things to alter my perceptions of things and let go of past hurts, this has also cleared the way for new opportunities.

But I also feel much gratitude for Baskin, who although s/he is physically gone, has left an imprint on my soul and awareness as s/he continues to walk this part of my journey with me.

The arrival of the Badger Stone also encourages me to face the future, in trust and in the full awareness I am never alone. Badger is a powerful presence for me and has been for many years since I arrived in the UK. These events just strengthen my links with Badger and help give me the determination to move forward.

Ride the Drum Beat

Ride the drum beat.
Ride the purr.
Ride the ticking of the clock.

Mount the Wild Wind,
the Untamed Horse,
the Owl, the Eagle, or the Wren.

Make the passage,
cross the threshold,
navigate the boundaries
between
The Worlds,
leave behind the Homeland,
head for the Barely-Known-Land,
meet the Wise Ones
greet the Old Ones
and the Yet-to-Be Ones,
learn the lessons
hear the tales
sing the Soul Songs.

Ride the drum beat.
Ride the purr.
Ride the ticking of the clock.

Mount the Wild Wind,
the Untamed Horse,
the Owl, the Eagle, or the Wren.

Return at there’s daybreak,
the soul’s bright dawning
write the lessons
rehearse the tales
hum the musics,
unforgetting any mystery
quickly fading
shadows vanishing into light,
hold the mapways,
pathways, soulways
for the next time
always now a next time,
each a new time,
ever into old time.

Ride the drum beat.
Ride the purr.
Ride the ticking of the clock.

Mount the Wild Wind,
the Untamed Horse,
the Owl, the Eagle, or the Wren.

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.

It’s the small things

As is quite usual for me, it’s the small things that seem most to mark my days. Yes, I am aware of larger patterns and shapings, but they are not so immediate until they are. The little things though, well they are there and not always for long.

They catch my attention,

draw my eye,

Wee toadstool

change my whole plan and framing of a day.

It happened several times this week, I paused to look carefully. I spent the time to look very closely to see if I could take some photos I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for days that feel like weeks due to my frustration. But in the last week I got the photos.

            

Doing so was an exercise in patience and perseverance, in gentle negotiation with my subject, battling the wind and rain, and plain dogged determination to succeed if I could. To prove something to myself. About myself, maybe. About my place in the greater scheme of things, perhaps. And, just possibly none of these.

The one incident that stands out, however has to do with a moth. I was walking down one of the streets I take frequently to get away from the village far enough to have a long view of the countryside and not hear the roar of traffic. I came upon a moth in the middle, smack dab in the center of the road. I did not feel I should leave it there, since it did not stir as I approached I knew something was amiss.


I gathered it up gently and began a relationship that lasted nearly an hour, which I imagine for a moth is a very long time.

I could tell it was letting go of its life, having sustained an injury. So I spent some time trying to listen for what it wanted me to do. If it had any last wishes. I tried a few times to put it on a sturdy branch or a wall, but it would have none of it. We went to one of my favourite looking out places and I leaned on a fence and held it to see the wide sky and the fields, it wanted to do that again.

I walked slowly, for though I had errands to do, this was suddenly much, much more important. It did not mind me taking photographs of it in my hand, which was not easy given the shape of my camera, even though it’s one I can comfortable hold in my hand. The shutter, well they used to be called shutters anyway, was on the wrong side. With a bit of hand gymnastics I was successful.

We visited the Hazel and Rowan trees I commune with and one of the Willows. We walked down a sheltered lane with the hedges grown full and high — the cleavers and cow parsley taller than me. The bees were at work in the vetch. The sun was not shining and it kept threatening rain, but I walked on with my companion. Eventually, it became clear that it wanted to go to an Elder tree. I went past several, but I knew the one it wanted. We made our way there, and I plucked a red clover on the last bit of the walk. I knew we were about to say good-bye.

All the time we were together I could feel its clingy, delicate feet on my finger and palm of my hand. I looked carefully at its markings, at its face. It was so downy. I wondered how it managed to fly and land. I wondered how it perceived its reality. As an animist I knew it had its own wisdom and sentience, and more importantly it had a soul and ineffable spirit, somehow and some way.

When we got to the end of our shared journey, I placed it on the top of a tall wooden gate post that reached into the particular Elder tree to which we had been bound to make our way together. I placed it carefully on the post, and put the clover with it. The moth seemed contented. I thanked it for its company and sharing a small portion of its life journey with me. I did not look back. I spoke an intention/prayer that its onward journey be as it was meant to be, but painless and swift as might be.

The way back to the road where we met was a lonely walk. Such a small being took up so much space in my heart for about three quarters of an hour, but it could have been eons for all I was aware at the time. Only when we parted did I re-enter the flow of regular, mundane time. And I have no issues with mundane time. But to have those moments of extra-ordinary time are precious. If all our time was spent there we would not have the same appreciation of those instances of exceptional rarity and wonder.

The rest of that day before and after my encounter with the moth were filled with frustration, taking far longer than it should have, with far more bother to achieve the two main tasks of the day. Those tasks were supposed to be the really important ones — I know now they were not.