A Journey With Blackbirdowl

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A peachy May morn

A peachy May Morn:
Hampstead 2015.
Standing on the heath edge, I am reminded of the round world, with it's
undulations, it's firm crust, velveted by vegetation, lush with new growth.
The trees, darker against the rapidly lightening air, host already
cheerfully singing birds, the blackbird, loud and strident, dominates them
all. As though the heath is breathing, puffs of cold air remind us that the
earth is still warming up after winter.

We stride up the paths to Parliament Hill. Sunrise is still half an hour
away. My companions describe the fan of peach light, emerging from a
striped grey sky which seems to frame the towers of the city stretching
below. STANDING on top of Parliament Hill, I throw back my head, open up my
lungs, and sing the evocation to the blackbird at sunrise. Lost in the act,
I belt it out for all it's worth, knowing that noone will complain!

My heart shifts. I am held by a sudden sense of joy and a gladness to be
alive, which has not always been with me, these last months of struggle with
pain. It's such a sense of relief. The Obby Oss dances, clearly catching
the moment, and so do I.

Cutting across the heathland, we pick our way over treacherous hidden holes,
step over water channels, skirt tuffetty protuberances until, via the wrong
hill, we stand beneath Buddicca's mount. Below us, the sky still peachy
pink in the east, lies the city, glittering. Red lights flicker their
warning a-top the concrete fingers reaching into the sky.

We make our Beltane wishes. The Oss dances with delight.
"Wisdom to the people of the UK in how they vote next week" we agree,
sending the wish forth into the sunrise, "so mote it be!".
Behind the city, beyond the clouds, The sun rises, heralded by an oranging
of light, though invisible beneath the white grey sky. The air warms as
evidence of it's presence.
"Hail the sun; hail the summer!"
There is nothing to do but to sing so uplifting is this moment. Our hymn to
the land cuts through the air. Though the heath seems empty, the geese,
ducks and the garden birds chirrup, tweet and hoot away, as they sing with
us. We sing of the sacred land, as the body of the goddess, who's secrets
reveal the beauty of the natural world.

"Do you know, it's not raining," we tell each other! In fact, the air is
dry; the heathland beneath our feet benignly easy to walk upon.

We set off on our procession across the heath, winding through wooded
areas, leaping small brooks, stepping carefully over treacherous boggy
places. We still have the heath to ourselves. voices entwine and chase
each other in a Round, extolling the beginning of summer, encouraging us to
"make a merry din", , which we do rather tunefully.

Kenwood Spring bubbles in it's white marble surround. I catch the faint
smell of iron, like blood, in the water. A cold wind blows, reminding us
that, though the sun has risen, it has yet to influence the temperature.

We sing and dance round the spring. We vow to never lose our way to the
well of Her memory as the fire of her living flame rises.

There are not enough gloves to go round. Thou it's may, it is still cold as
March in the early morning. I cup my hands round the cup of tea someone has
thoughtfully provided for this chilly moment.

Talking of cold, it's time for breakfast! We turn and retrace our steps.
Over in a nearby tree, the wood pigeons, the lazy-bones of the avion world,
begins to coo. The May is just coming out on southern sheltered hedges.
Small white and yellow flowers dot the heathland. All the trees present
newly unfurled tender leaves, their stretching branches, a safe haven for
the birds.
The city comes to meet us; a howling of sirens, a rumble of heavy rail on
the Gospel Oak to Barking line and the persistent hum of early morning
traffic, reminds us of where we are. Other heath inhabitants seem mainly to
be held in a world of silence as they walk, plugged into their earphones.
Most, ignore our greeting of "Merry May". They turn their eyes away from
the strangeness of our little procession, headed as it is, by a prancing
Obby Oss.

As we leave the heath, I give silent thanks for this place of respite from
the teaming city frenzy, this green heart that is often my refuge from the
burdons and responsibilities of my life.
Hail the May, hail the morn! Hail the summer!"

The Power Is In Our Hands

The power is in our hands
On Friday morning, shortly after it became clear that we were in for a Tory
government whose actions would not be tempered by having to appease a
coalition partner, someone sends me a text containing the following chant:
What serves life will stand.
What does not will fall.
The power is in our hands.
Love changes all.
I don't want to hear this so full of despair am I. I put my head down and
go to work; and when not doing that, I bury myself in novels or crawl into
bed and sleep. I just want the world to go away.
Social media babbles. Outpourings of despair, dance with declarations of
defiance. Behind the recriminations, come calls for unity., All who hold
dear what this new government will attack, rise up and fight back, they say.
And I hear the chant echoing in my head, an earworm calling me to action.
What serves life will stand.
What does not will fall.
The power is in our hands.
Love changes all.
What can I do, I wonder? I turn for solace and inspiration to my magical
practice as a pagan. New Moon is just after sunrise on 18th May. I could
work with dark moon on the evening of the 17th, to let go of this
negativity? I could work with the new moon on the 18th,to invite in action?
Yes, this is what I will do.
Across the UK, as the dark moon becomes the new moon, let us gather together
or work singly to make the transition from dark moon to new moon, from
despair to hope, and take power into our hands.
Please share this as you will. Blessed Be
Blackbird Owl.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

T Holding The Rose

T Holding the rose
Friday June 21, 2013
On the evening of the longest day, we walk slowly on the curving earth
across the heath. Just below Boudicca's mount, we come to a stop on a
grassy slope overlooking the city.
Dusk is damply imminent. A miasma of nipping gnats thickens the air.
Casually, we cast and invoke. The circle is lightly held but sufficient.
"This is the time of the rose, blossom and thorn, fragrance and blood. Now,
in this longest day, light triumphs, and yet begins the decline into dark."
- Starhawk.

I touch a rose, softly examining its sensual petals, breathe in its
sweetness and think about what it promises. The rose is love; it's also
trusting in its delicate fragility. I think of the blossom and thorn,
fragrance and blood, about the coming darkness and what it is that I fear.
I think of what I would let go of. Summer has flirted with us so far. I
would let go the coldness of the non-spring and the fear in my heart about
the Schwannoma.

Scooping my hand into a bowl, I pick up some rose petals. They shiver and
tremble, almost dancing in my cupped hand. A bigger gust of wind and they
would be gone.
If only my fears could be so easily dislodged? I open my hand and allow the
evening breeze to take my fears along with the petals. They flutter like
butterflies between my fingers and slip away.
I imagine each petal tossed lightly into the wind, drifting eventually down
to the ground. There it will lie until the next breath of wind, curious dog
or walker's shoe dislodges it. Maybe it will remain on the ground until the
rain comes to break down it's fragile silkiness and return it to the earth.
Empty-handed, I return my fears to the earth to be transformed.
Self-affirmation through mirror-work doesn't do it for me. I'm glad I
brought my drum. I sing into it. It throws my voice back clear to me. I am
goddess and she is singing my praises!
The circle chants and tones my name. They chant that I am shining, am
beautiful. I hear their song. I allow those thoughts into my heart and
;lifting my face to the sound, begin to feel the shift.
We dance a spiral dance on the green moist grass, trampling the rose petals
into the ground to send them on their transformational way.
Night has fallen. The city sounds are swallowed by the darkness. Our
working complete, we walk through the cool, damp night on the heath to the
warm rumbling buses running along the bright streets.

S Hooved ones and the blackbirds of Hamstead

S Hooved ones and the blackbirds of Hamstead
Wednesday May 1, 2013:
The silent streets slide by as the car weaves its way through the still
sleeping City. On each corner, a blackbird greets us as we pass.
I stride across the hill glad of my thermal hat, padded gillet and thick
socks. It's mayday but its freezing.

The pre dawn air is quiet, and mist-filled. My risks bound with jangling
bells, I compete with the blackbirds, wrens and robins, giving it some welly
as we quietly invade their green space. The sound is glorious.

Lifting my face to the swell of song, , I invite in the vibrations to travel
down the trigeminal nerve to the base, to heal the Schwannoma. With my
ears, I drink in the beauty of the songbird's morning symphony. The
blackbirds sing louder in triumph of the coming light. The crows mock and
jeer reminding that the night will come again and the wheel will turn.

Beside the Obby Oss, another hoofed creature moves, and as a song comes into
my head, I know the white horse goddess I often meet here, has come to walk
with us. She is quiet though, keeping her distance. I can't help it; I
call to her, whinnying joyfully. I'm sure she sings back. I invite the
sound down my trigeminal nerve.

The heath is tuffety and lumpy. We stride across to a pine grove, a greenly
magical space and sing it some songs. My companion has a fabulous memory
for songs. She even remembers my blackbird Beltane song. We sing
cheerfully, enjoying the duet with the birds.
"Encircled by the blackbird's song,
the golden sun begins to shine.
Beneath the mist, the flower strewn heath sings,
'summer is a Common' IN'"

Frailty has come upon us. We are feeling our years. Defeated by the fence
enclosing Boudicca's mound, we stand on the grass with the quiet mist-veiled
city lying below us, and call to the sun, sing to the birds, the land and
each other. A small breeze nips at me. The May is not yet out but the
blackthorn is blossoming. It may be May Day but it feels like late March.

To warm ourselves up, we yomp across the heath, over two brooks, through
woods, past venerable oaks, their branches pointing like jagged fingers,
hard against the softness of new leaf, stark against the light sky. I know
the horned one watches even as I hear the creak of branches in the wind.

I place my feet on the ground in honour of her beauty. I feel I walk on her
outstretched palm. I know I will never fall off and she will keep me safe,
no matter how dizzy I grow.

The Kenwood Spring is in fine voice. Bubbling and cheerful, its water is
comfortingly warm, considering the chill of the day. I splash it on my face
and smell and taste its strong iron metallic tang.

We sing to the well, gaining momentum and spinning energy into the soft
morning light. The mist seems to descend and thicken. Only the heat of the
sun will dismiss this. It is not here yet, hiding behind the implacable grey

Turning, we head for breakfast. But the Oss has another idea. Strangers
are greeted and invited to make a wish. They do, opening up their hearts
and speaking about what is uppermost in their minds. This is important work
and I don't mind delaying my breakfast to do it; but my stomach growls in
protest. No matter, this is the sharing of the magic of the day.

Stepping from the heath, the world comes to greet us, noisily, aloofly,
suspiciously. Passers-by are puzzled at the strange procession cheerfully
greeting strangers with cries of "Merry May! They put their heads down and
shuffle off to work hoping we won't notice them perhaps?

It's a bit of a dislocate, this extended walk through the streets, for
today, we have taken a slightly different route back. Still, I trudge
along, beckoned by the promise of hot breakfast, gradually allowing the
world to return, trying to filter its loud, dirty insistence with the clean
greenness of my dawn walk on the heath. The "in-your-faceness" of London
life, is slightly tempered, by the memory but still insistently present.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

R Let the Yellow ribbon bring me home

R Let the Yellow ribbon bring me home
Saturday April 27, 2013:
Reclaiming London Beltane Ritual
My mind is wandering. I'm so glad to be here but I don't want to do the
work. I just want to be. It's impolite not to emotionally show up, so I do,
commanding myself to be present in mind as well as body.
The air is cool. Small drops of rain texture the space between the newly
budding trees. The woods echoe with the shouts of children across the way
enjoying a noisy party. I tune them out and listen to the vibration of the
watching trees. .
A presence, horned like the jagged leafless oaks comes striding through the
woods. My drum stick, like hooves beat the skin as his feet dance the earth.
The soft breath of a horse vibrates my right eardrum and in my mind's eye, I
see the white horse goddess unbidden but none the less very welcome, also
flitting through the trees.
Damp earth, dry leaves, living trees perfume the air between the spiraling
incense. I breathe and receive the unfurling life of the earth growing
into spring.
Somewhere else someone has a fire. I can smell the sweet pungent smoke on
the air. I feel irrationally rather resentful and very envious of the fire
owner for *we* will have to make do with incense and candles.
We set out our space using incense as fire. Smoke curls through the air,
spiraling around us as we move through it. It's sweet, savory soft and
strong. My mind dissects the smell, identifying and labeling each pungent
contingent. Frankincense, sage and what else? Leaf mould and damp earth and
- what, what is that smell?
What do I want to let go of? Indecision, depression, fear, illness, - which!
Oh all of them and none. I twirl in the smoke, a silly smile on my face.
I'm playing again, but it's not happiness, its distraction.
I think of the friends whose lives are threatened as cancer claims parts of
their bodies. There's a lot of it around. O that's ridiculous. What are
the chances of *not* knowing people with cancer at my age, and yes knowing
one or two who have even died as a result? This is life, I castigate
myself. And lest I feel too sorry for myself, I remind myself that my own
non-threatening but disruptive tumour is also life. Get used to it!
This doesn't bring me to the work I'm meant to be doing here! What am I
doing here? Oh yes, letting go. Letting go of what? I Dunno - I've
forgotten. Well that's one way to let go!
We circle the well. It's a bowl of water surrounded by spring flowers. I
sink down on the ground. Last year's dry leaves are scattered, beneath
them; the earth is still full of a year of heavy rain that it will take many
hot days to dry.
Silence all around holds me. I lean forward and dip my fingers into the
"well". The water is cool. I am still.
What do I want to weave into my future, I wonder: I commit the sensation of
sitting on the earth in a spring wood, for future reference. Do I want the
political sphere? What is the lure? Is it purely, a desire to make the world
a better place or is it about my power and influence?
Could I make the world a better place by sitting under a tree - the thought
is tempting. Can I find time to allow my voice to sing to whoever will
listen, through my writings, song and pagan practices? Is that enough? Can I
do that and politics?
Back to the here and now, I think, catching the drift of incense arriving on
the tongue of a nippy little wind. What do I want to weave into the summer
to come? My mind drifts again. I think of sick friends and my yearning to
help them and my helplessness to actually do so. What is life like for them
with such a precarious future? Mine too is precarious, but at least the
tumour won't kill me, even if it bends my mind somewhat.
If I can stay in the here and now, I can find peace to help me deal with the
difficult things I am driven to do. So I'll weave finding moments of
peace and stillness that bring respite, and build my resilience into my
life. And I can spin the energy to do what I feel must be done.
A cloud moves. A shaft of sunlight beams down between the trees and touches
my cool cheek with its warmth. How simple; one touch warms my body and
lifts my spirits. A little effort can reap great rewards.
We dance, weaving our desires into fruition. My wide long sunny yellow
ribbon makes its way between the other colours, like shafts of sunlight
edging round objects. It moves round the shadows, lightening all it touches.
The song, "Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree" comes into my mind.
Annoyingly, it plays itself over and over again, creating an earworm which
sits wriggling repetitiously in my ear. Maybe I can come home to myself so
that I can go out stronger to the world, I think?
Birds sing above us. We share blessings and then clear up. Walking through
the woods, I notice how my body feels. I'm tired, I need the loo, but I can
feel my energy shifting and the muscles moving efficiently enough to get me
up the steep hill and on to whatever else I am concerned with.

Q Schwanning with the Blackbird

Q Schwanning with the Blackbird
Friday April 26, 2013:
At 7:20 PM I'm in the garden. The blackbird is giving it some welly. The
other birds are belting out songs to. I listen and take in the sounds.
The blackbird moves to another part of his territory and the garden goes a
little quiet. It's not yet sunset, so there's still more singing for him to
do. I listen to the relative peace and invite the stillness to open up to
the songs of the birds. On the edge of my hearing, I can hear blackbird,
behind him, the comforting cooing of the wood pigeons, given shape by
robins, tits and other silvery singing. It's such a rich tapestry of sound.
I breathe it in.

I'm crouching now, turning over slate pieces. Ah, here's what I need., a
flat evenly shaped smooth stone, it's edges graded as though someone has
layered material of different sizes across each other. I can trace each
piece, running my fingers across them all and losing myself in their shapes.

With a triumphant squawk, the blackbird flies across the sky and lands in
the ash tree on the Parkland Walk opposite me. He settles down to a bit of
rombustuous, triumphant singing. Always, that fluid beginning, suddenly
exploding into staccato squawks and gurgling) before returning to a new
song. Sometimes at the end of a bit of conventional blackbird twiddling, he
emits a series of rapid squeaks, redolent of mocking laughter as though to
say to the other blackbirds "pah, beat this!" before resuming his crystal
clear sweet flourishes .
I hold out my hand with the flat slate in it, an offering and a place to
receive the vibration of the singing. The blackbird belts it out. Beside
him, robins and other birds weave a complex rhythm of shiny glissandi and
arpeggio, with such flourishing joy that I can't help smiling.
My face is raised to the glory of the sound. I allow the cheekbones to
receive the silver bath of vibration and call it in, to fill the toad shaped
space that is also the Schwannoma. Ah, beautiful.

The blackbird sings on, not now filling the space, but offering it between
other songs. He grows quiet and is suddenly gone. But his twilight
serenade is not complete. I hear him singing, some gardens away as he grabs
the final light of day, for the night is at last falling.
The birds grow quiet. A bitter little wind reaches sharp fingers through my
clothing, reminding me that, with dusk, comes the coolness of night.
Stiffly, I rise, and bowing to left and right to the spaces left by the
singing, I give thanks, and walk back into the warm house.
Out there tonight, the songs of the birds felt like my friends sending their
healing. This healing is free. I can always have it where the birds sing.
It's a date, blackbird, I promise, I'll be back for more.

P The wisdom of swans

P The wisdom of swans
Sunday April 14, 2013:
The sun is out. I lean against our Samhain Ash tree, connecting in with her
loving energy. The trunk is warm. I don't know what I ask, except for some
aid regarding the Schwannoma.

I sense the white serpent beautiful lady ash. Her swan-like neck is elegant
and curved. Her tree limbs arch out on either side and curve down as though
she has her arms around me.

The thunder of galloping hooves shakes the earth. Coming closer now, they
slow until the heavy purposeful tread of a horse tells me she is
approaching. She whickers softly just beside me.
Ah, here is the white horse goddess, pale and creamy like the ash serpent,
her arched neck a little like the curving ash serpent's graceful body. Her
long face framed by her shiny mane. I softly stroke her cheek.

We canter across the heath, her hooves pounding on the soft muddy tuffety
Heathland. Faster and faster we go, the wind snatching her main and blowing
it into my face.
Buffeted by the wind of our speed, I feel her lift from the ground.
Suddenly we soar up towards the bright sun, propelled by great white wings.
Their updraft is cooling and exhilarating. I hang on for dear life as the
heath, north London, the city, the south east and finally the whole country
circles beneath us. We soar up to the stars and fly amongst them. They are
singing in the stillness, vibrating it seems with the energy of the beat of
the horse goddess's wings.

We circle the world. Descending, countries and seas spin beneath us,
spreading out, growing bigger as we move earthwards. Somewhere in the midst
of the turning green and brown landmass edge by the shining blue sea,
mountains appear, then forests, then Heathland in the middle of which lies a
great spreading lake gleaming in the morning light. There in the middle, a
wooded island is dark and richly green. Around it,Paler objects move in the
water. We alight onto the muddy little beach, where I see flotillas of swans
and geese are gracefully drifting towards us.
Two stately and elegant white swans arrive at the water's edge and climb out
onto the shore. Sliding down off the horse goddess's back, I kneel down in
the mud, for these two command respect. They stand there, just looking. The
moment is a little awkward. I breathe shallowly and keep as still as a
statue, lest I frighten them off.

How can I love and encourage this Schwannoma to do her best for me, I think?
The two swans lean towards each other. In their embrace, their long curving
elegant necks entwine.

Maybe I must be loyal to myself, like they are loyal to each other, I
wonder? Could I seek an intimate relationship with myself, love myself
deeply? If I do this, need the Schwannoma grow anymore? Might doing this
help to shrink it perhaps?
The swans united and content-seeming, are still. They are observing me as I
kneel before them. What is the Schwannoma's positive intention for me, I ask
myself? Something to find out perhaps?

Still kneeling, I reach out my hands to the two swans. Gently, I lay a hand
on each soft snowy white breast. Patiently, they allow the impertinence.
Their feathers are so fleetingly tender almost.
They move back to the water and launch themselves gracefully into the lake.
I watch them glide away. Behind, soft white fluttering breast feathers lie,
teased by a gentle wind. I pick them up, stroking my right cheek
experimentally with them.

The horse goddess blows through her nostrils and shifts. I climb back up
and we spin out into the sky. Below me, the two gliding swans become pale
dots on the shining water and then the lake disappears into greenness.

The heath rotates beneath us. We land, gallop, trot and walk until arriving
back at the ash tree. I slide off the horse goddess. Laying my hand
tenderly on her neck, I lean my cheek into hers in silent thanks.

She is gone. The tree is warmly supporting me. The sun on my right cheek
is a soft gold and loving touch, like the quiet breth of a pony at rest.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

O The green heart of compassion

O The green heart of compassion
Saturday March 23, 2013:

Spring Equinox
Balancing balance with desire.

The turn of the wheel of the year has come to the place of the young adult.
In spring we begin to feel the first stirrings of desire, a maturing
sexuality. We move towards finding our place in the world.
In the centre of the labyrinth we meet our opposite. Desire springs from the
yearning of dark for light, day for night, we for our opposites, of the
Goddess for herself. In that kiss, we may find new balance and completeness.
We bring back to this world a decorated egg, symbolizing this encounter with
our desire and all that may grow from it in the months to come.
Three of us gather in my front room, for the skies have been pouring for
days and spring has gone to ground. We agree we'll cast and invoke then
study a flower and think of nature and our desire. We'll do a journey
through the labyrinth to that desire, return, paint eggs share, raise cone
of power and do blessings etc.

Smudge curls through the air. Its evocative savouries take me right into an
altered state. As the circle is cast, I feel that intense light surrounding
us. I call the birds via the temple bells, the fire via the wild rattle and
the fire snakes knock my breath from me so intense is their dance. I float
with the water through the rain stick and growl and stamp through the drum
with the earth. The sweet chime, spiralling into stillness of the singing
bowl brings all together.

This is spring, where balance meets desire and opposites come together, day
and night, love and fear in a new lover's dance that begins with a kiss.

Striding through the trees, the muddy-faced child, grinning and impudent is
changing into something else. The gait is elegant yet slightly gawky, round
limbs, lengthen, shoulders widen, hips, curve, breasts define, the beginning
of a swell at the groin. She/he walks through the trees, her/his hair
softly dancing in the wind.
In the centre of the grove is a round green pool. Drawn by some magnetic
insistence, she/he moves closer, kneels down and gazes at her/his reflection
in the dark water.

Two dark fine eyes stair back, lips curving and smiling, cheekbones defined
beneath the soft rounded cheeks. Her/his mouth, full lipped, smiles at
first uncertainly and then with pleasure laced with surprise. Her/his Chin
is growing strong beneath the softness of youth. Her/his curled hair, lies
across the smooth forehead.

Amazed, she/he gazes at her/himself. Her/his heart moves, there's a
shifting between her/his legs. Beauty swims in the pool. With a sudden
shifting, she/he knows that it is love.

Come adolescence of both genders and none. Meet yourself in your blossoming
body, in that place where your desire rises for the first time. Surprise,
sweet recognition move across that face, captivating you in the dark pool in
the grove.

And Starhawk writes: "Alone, awesome, complete within herself, the Goddess,
She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness,
before the beginning of all things. And as She looked into the curved mirror
of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in
love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love
to Herself, and called Her "Miria, the Wonderful."
Their ecstasy burst forth in the single song of all that is, was, or ever
shall be, and with the song came motion, waves that poured outward and
became all the spheres and circles of the worlds. The Goddess became filled
with love, swollen with love, and She gave birth to a rain of bright spirits
that filled the worlds and became all beings.
But in that great movement, Miria was swept away, and as She moved out from
the Goddess She became more masculine. First She became the Blue God, the
gentle, laughing God of love. Then She became the Green One, vine-covered,
rooted in the earth the spirit of all growing things. At last She became the
Homed God, the Hunter whose face is the ruddy sun and yet dark as Death. But
always desire draws Him back toward the Goddess, so that He circles Her
eternally, seeking to return in love.
All began in love; all seeks to return to love. Love is the law, the teacher
of wisdom, and the great revealers of mysteries."

I take a flower, touch it, smell it, and taste it. Beauty in my hands. I
cradle its fragile head, examining all that nature can offer in a flower
first stretching out its life to the lengthening day, even though the snow
covers the ground and frost is in the air. WHERE is my desire in this, I

The heartbeat drum takes me to move through the stone archway into the dark
beyond. I am not afraid because the candle is burning in my mind's eye, it
will light the way. I turn, move slowly on, turn again, and again. I know
not what I pass, I am focused on meeting my desire, and I walk on, careless
of the way back, only wanting to arrive.

In the centre of the labyrinth, she stands, that flower faced goddess. Her
face in my hands, I run my thumbs across her soft smooth skin. Oh so
beautiful, so beautiful. I feel a movement deep inside me as her lips touch

The kiss spreads out and engulfs the whole world. I am lost in it. All I
know is lips on lips, breath on breath. Her sweet rosy breath-loving takes
me, holds me, submerges me. I am helpless, but happy to be so.

The bear is not far away. The kiss is safe because the bear is there. The
kiss is hope, yellow, green hope like sun and new born leaves. My desire is
hope and safety. To be loved and to love. To be looked after and

My lips are swollen. The flower led teenage passionate snogathon is over.
I'm filled with excitement and anticipation. I walk tall, knowing the bear
and the flower-faced goddess are there. I carry my hope in a green heart
back into the work.

We paint our eggs. Mine is lemon, butter, apricot and orange. Soft fire
colours. But I also think of my egg as a clitoris.

"Hope over fear" that's what this is, I say, showing my egg. We sing and
drum and whip up the energy. Like an orgasm, it suddenly runs through me.
Ah, I say as it ends, sated at last.

N The broken jet heart

N The broken jet heart
Tuesday March 19, 2013
In the garden first thing, I am taken down to the well again. On the other
side, the wolf walks slowly down the stairs. She wants me to come with her.

I climb across and together, we move slowly up the steps and into the old
yew tree. She walks stiffly but with assurance down the spiral staircase.
I guess she's used to it. I'm struck by her indomitable courage. I touch
her head and she leans towards my thigh. Such a loving gesture.

SHE is by the fire in the corner. I can't make her out. The wolf leads me
to the fire and lies down. I am invited to look in and find something to
take out. I see a glistening piece of jet. I reach in and take; it's warm
but doesn't burn.

I hold it in my hand and understand that it's for me. There's something
about transformation. Jet is associated with mourning. I wonder what this
means. Maybe it is the dance with death that must be going on.
Momentarily, I am afraid, but then I remember, we must all dance with death,
for we will die one day. I hope for me that it won't be soon.

I hold the jet piece in my hand. It shapes itself a little like a heart
shape. It's warm. It almost pulses. Perhaps I have it so I can be
conscious of my mortality but take comfort in it. I'm not dead yet, after
all, unlike many friends.

I kneel before Bridget, a shadowy figure in the corner. The wolf rests her
head on my thigh. The bear looks down upon me with compassion and
reassurance. I suddenly feel easier, not alone and comforted. I touch my
heart and bow to her, stroke the wolf and we get up to go.

I get up to go. The wolf takes me back up and to the top of the steps down
to the wall. I remonstrate with her. I can find my way. She continues to
walk with me. I feel like she's saying, "I'm with you, I'm a bit old and
it's hard, but I'm not leaving."

I'm so touched by this. With her, I also feel the presence of the bear. At
the top of the steps, she leaves me. I step across the well and as I arrive
next to a friend who is ill and seeking support at the well of healing, I
feel the jet in my hand divide into two. I give my friend one of the
pieces, touching her arm gently as I pass and climb back up the stairs.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

M Making a compassion shrine

M Making a compassion shrine
Saturday March 16, 2013:
Momentarily distracted from doing something else this cool and cloudy
morning, I am reminded of an amazing evening I was honoured to host on
Wednesday evening in memory of Vijayatara, who died two years ago last

A few years ago, my neighbors made me cut down a big, beautiful hornbeam
tree because it was blocking their light. I loved this tree and was
shattered. I built a sort of monument to the tree out of its chopped up
trunk. On the evening after it came down, Vijayatara came and did a puja
for the soul and spirit of the tree, and we dedicated the space to

It seems fitting therefore on 13 02 13, the second anniversary of her death,
to commemorate Vijayatara's life by inviting Tara to be a presence and to
make a compassion shrine. I source a resin dancing Tara, My companion makes
prayer flags from a green scarf I had once used in a ritual about
transformation and I invite Vijayatara's partner, sister and others to share
in the dedicating.
We gather together to bundle up our memories of Vijayatara and to create
another tangible presence in thanks for her life -there can never be too
many of these. A motley crew of Christians, Pagans and Atheists, we chant to
Tara and share stories about compassion inspired by Vijayatara. We give
this energy to the prayer flags for the wind to broadcast around the world.

Chanting still, we walk slowly into the garden and install Tara on a handy
log., here she stands, an outstretched foot hovering above the spiraling
ivy, a hand flung out in what I like to think of as a sacred disco
flourish!. The ceramic moon plaque beams down on her and the green god
wall sconce sticks his tongue out to remind us not to be too serious about
life. Even the large bronze coloured goose ornament stands by protectively
whilst the wicker goat dances for joy.
The bulbs I planted earlier in the winter are beginning to poke their noses
out of the cold soil. We hang the prayer flags so that the wind will take
our prayers of compassion around the world. Then we retire to feast.

Now every time I go into the garden, I sing to Tara. I remember Vijayatara,
and all I am because she was in my life.

Om Tara!

L Finding Impermenance

L Finding Impermenance
Wednesday March 13, 2013:
Vijayatara died at breakfast time on this day two years ago.

The sun is out in the garden. I sit down so I am in its beam. The air is
chilly, but not as cold as the day before. Everything is cool and damp. I
touch the newly emerging bulbs in the pot near the Compassion shrine. It
feels like they are a little more open than they were yesterday.

I sit down and open my awareness to what's around me. I wander through the
pathways of my various workings. Nothing really suits. I allow myself to
walk through leafy wooded spaces until I notice the birds. They are singing
sweetly. I tune in to their song.

Vijayatara is before me. She is lit up in the beam of sunlight, dressed in
her beautiful green robe. To my silent question about how I can work with
compassion, she says,
"think about impermanence. Everything will pass."
I think about how that might work but also how difficult it is to be in the
moment when it's painful. Perhaps I should hone in on the absolute moment,
the right now and here, I'm alright. There's something about working with
the minutia in the now and knowing that this too will pass. This is the
nature of impermanence.

I'm drawn to thoughts of suffering. It's the Christian thing to do
suffering big time and commemorate it in some way. That's odd. Why am I
thinking of suffering. Ah because the pain of some of the things I face
cause me suffering. This in the moment is an issue of being in the pain.
But if all things will pass, this will go too.

The birds fly about me. I feel them drawing closer in an avian embrace.
Their presence is strong. I feel their love. I feel Vijayatara's love. I
am loved. Can I be in the moment with this?

I am. It's a tender moment. I feel the heat of the sun on my right leg,
bathing it with gentle warmth. Because of this, I am not cold in the rest
of my body, although it is cold today. I allow the warmth of the gentle
kiss of the sun to permeate my body.

I stand up. The birds quietly drift away. I've made a change already.
Impermanence. All things will pass. This too will end. In the meantime,
be in the moment, and if it's painful, release the pain and just be with
myself in that basic "alright" state.

K The Bear, the stag oak and the two moons

K The Bear, the stag oak and the two moons
Saturday March 2, 2013:
The sun is out. We walk through the passage to Queen's Woods. Shrieks
echoe between the trees. Children are playing in the woods.
Beside a tall straight oak, surrounded by holly we stop. This is the place.
The children are some distance off, although their voices can still be
heard. There's room enough for us all here today.
I call the birds that sing bravely in the biting march wind; let the song
travel to us to remind us of bright days to come.
I call the sun from behind the clouds: let it guild their unseen
heaven-facing tops with golden light, so that we may feel it defuse to us
down below. This is the heat of the vitality of our lives.
I call the water from the aquifer below: trickling and snaking through the
earth, attributing across the woods in narrow brooks. Let it reach out its
fingers, like thin silver nerves, veining the earth below.

I call the standing trees, like living pillars; Let them reach up to the sky
in this, natures cathedral, their feet rooted deep in the earth and their
top branches holding up the sky. Come and unite earth and heaven and bring
energy to this place with your pulsing life.

I call all that unites and brings together, the spirits of the place and the
creatures. All come creeping, stepping, slithering, flapping and sauntering
to join us.

I'm settled back on the rough oak, its gnarled strength holds me up. My
companion leans her back against my shoulder comfortably.

I breathe. I feel my life pulsing through my veins, driven by my breath.
Striding through the trees comes Cernunnus, great horns like twisted tree
limbs, majestic and powerful. AS he passes. All the trees bow in salute,
their leafless limbs shaking in agreeing or perhaps it's the wind?
I am large and furry, my legs stretched out, my hands comfortably folded on
my belly, my head thrown back in repose against the tree. The tree is
growling, I am growling, together we sing of the horned one.

Together we breathe, my pulse, the trees pulse, my flesh, the trees flesh.
I sit and growl and am here now.

O but it's so easy. It's so comfortable and I feel so very here. I am
cradling me, holding me against my great belly, rocking, crooning, growling,
and loving. I am here with me. I am here with me.

I sing, the trees sing and the bear that is me sings. So comfortable. So

Crows caw high in the sky. The clouds seem to thicken and close. a sharp
wind tugs at my coat, reminding me of bitter winter, not yet gone. O but
its cold.

We shift my companion and me. The children are gone but the wind is fierce.
We get up and walk stiffly off.

We both need to pee. My companion is just presenting her bottom to the
world, as a woman appears. We all laugh. I am more cautious and point my
round mooning bottom at the tree. "Two moons rose in the evening woods,"
quips my companion. Cackling, we march off to the bus stop.

J Called to the old ones

J Called to the old ones

Tuesday February 26, 2013
In the garden, everything is a bit damp. It's cool and soothing to touch.
I've not got much time but am drawn down to the well again. I leap over the
square pool to the steps on the other side. My sick friend, still sitting
there and Bride, opposite her, don't seem to notice.

I stride up the steps on the other side; there seem to be a lot more of them
on that side. At the top, I survey the undulating countryside before I am
drawn to noticing the large hollow tree to my left. I'm sure I see Mama
bear disappearing inside. I follow, find the spiral stairs and run down
after her.
Marching through the tunnels, I come to the cavern with the big square
dancing fire framed by its stone fireplace. There sits Mama Bear and the
World. I sit down on the floor with them and rest my head on Mama Bear's
tummy. The wolf comes to rest her head on my knee. We are still, watching
the fire. It is so comforting.

But the day calls me back. Reluctantly, I climb back up the spiral stairs,
down into the well, leap across, touch my sick friend on the shoulder, nod
to Bride, and scamper back to now.

Standing under the rowan tree, I feel the rough fur of Mama Bear against my
cheek and the reassuring pressure of the wolf's head on my thigh. Touch
into this and remember love, I think to myself.

I Bridie's bed.

I Bridie's bed.

Saturday February 2, 2013:
Take the tenderly intimate, soft swans down,
To the comforting warmth of the thick wool fleece,
And bring them to lie with the sleek silk sheet.

And as you stroke and smooth and fold,
Picture the textures that shade the hues,
A pallet of milky whites and creams,
So subtle so distinct and yet,
So similar and so self contained.

Hard on the heels of the snow and white frost,
Comes the ewe's first milk, and the frail snowdrops.
Cross the bridge that is February's twenty-eight days,
Walk from winter to spring, turn from fear towards hope.

Imbolc blessings.

We process in, smudged and belled clean, cast the circle and call
directions. I am north. I crawl around on the floor, growling and howling.
I'm having a great time. Who am I, a bolf or a wear! I like myself!

We invite those who inspire us. I invite Ang San Su Shi for her sheer
indominatable persistence. I call in my sick friend who is steady and
reliable even if she doesn't want to be.
With our candles and seeds we process to Bridies hearth. Bridie speaks to
me of creativity. The bard asks me what makes my soul sing. I say "the
wind in the trees". The spring maiden, blesses my seeds. I sit down and

We share poems and songs. I read them my Imbolc poem and sing them the
Cernunnus song. They join in. It sounds so great!

We dance the spiral dance. I take the energy for hope for my sick friend
and for me for the life force to keep going through dark and difficult
times. Then we open and feast, but not before I've rolled around on the
floor in my playful happy wear or bolf. Hmm, maybe it should be a belf?

H Bear and Stag at the Well of Healing

H Bear and Stag at the Well of Healing

Tuesday January 22, 2013:
Oo it's cold today! Another big freeze. I'm up and out in the garden at ten
past seven.
Everything is and shrouded in stiffening snow. I ease my way past the
burdened shrubs, their captures of snow freezing into hard clumps in their
stiffened arms. Behind the still quietness of the pre dawn day, traffic
shushes on the road in the distance.
Today I seek for help with a public body. I climb carefully down the steps
to the well. Miraculously, they are clear of snow. But the whole well head
structure is shrouded by great peaks of crystalline powder. Entering is
like going into a snow tunnel.
The water still flows! That's amazing. I really thought it would have
frozen over. But then of course it would never freeze over because healing
is available from within every day and night of my life irrespective of
what's going on in the outside world, I only need to remember this and
There's a strange light cast by the snow. It's coming in from where I am so
that my shadow stretches across the water. It's also coming in from
opposite, where there are more steps leading up and out to somewhere, I
don't know where, all I can see is snow and dark hoof prints on the snowy
ground above the cleaned steps.
The eerie light is added to by the flames of four fires placed one in each
corner of the well head and each contained by a shining black caldron. The
water sparkles silver and gold as it moves gently with the trickling of the
spring that feeds the pool.
Across in the opposite right corner sits a figure. She's in shadow but I
know her. To my right, my sick friend sits near a caldron fire, and is
protected from the weather by the well's shelter.
I pick up a shining golden challis and hold it out to Brigit, for it is she,
sitting in the far corner. She takes it and fills it from the spring and
hands it back.
Silver and gold dances in its depth. I give it my fears, defensiveness,
anxiety and confusion about the board work till it is dark and murky, thick
and noisome. Laying my other hand on my heart, I call a blessing down from
BRIGIT; ask her to clean this challis water, to transmute it into courage,
clarity, self love and strategy.
I ask her to bring me respect for those I'm dealing with, even though they
are behaving stupidly. I ask that I believe that they will find their
wisdom and move the barriers preventing me from doing my job.
I sing from my heart's place to the water on one breath, the sound of the
heart giving love. The water clears, becomes diamond bright. I take
another breath and drink it all down. I place one hand on my belly and one
on my heart and give thanks for these great gifts.
A movement opposite attracts my attention. The light is blocked from the
steps opposite as something large and dark moves down. He lowers his great
antlered head to the water and drinks. He raises it and looks straight at
me. I see his courage and love and feel it settling in my heart.
The great stag, lowers his head again in acknowledgement, he knows I have
received his gift. I bow low, hand on heart and he carefully retreats from
the well.
All is quiet. The light from the opening opposite is blocked by another
shape. A great dark bear lumbers down the steps to drink at the water. I
hold my breath for she is beautiful.
O but she is old, stiff yet dignified, her muzzle silver grey flecks amongst
the dark brown fur. Carefully she negotiates the steps as though each
movement hurts. With every step, I feel her pain in my own limbs.
At the water's edge, she raises her head and fixes me with two warm amber
eyes. They are full of love.
I want to go to her, to lean into her, to feel her warmth and strength, but
the water is in the way. A friend who's mother has recently died a painful
death, comes into my mind and, silently, I ask the great bear to comfort her
and lend a loving presence to her as she begins her journey in this world as
a motherless child.
The bear lowers her head, turns and stiffly climbs the steps and disappears.
Dark shadows move against the brightness of the snow, now beginning to
glimmer with a finger of pale winter sun which shafts down from a
momentarily clear blue sky.
I don't want to leave but I must. I must take my gifts to the day with me
and start that day. I take courage and love in my heart. I take also
courage, clarity, self love and strategy.
Touching my sick friend on the arm who is sitting in the corner to my right
opposite Brigit, silently I say "I know you're here and I'm walking with
you, whatever happens." I bow to Brigit and turn to leave, climbing the
steps up onto the snowy path back to my garden.

G Golden chalice

G Golden chalice
Thursday January 10, 2013:
At morning prayers, I work for resources to help me at a particularly
difficult meeting today. A fourth opening, with steps that lead down to a
covered ancient well open up.
I climb down the stairs and find a golden chalice. I fill it with clear
spring water, breath what I don't want into it, sing it to life and
positivity and drink it down.
The well is beautiful. Fresh herbs and shrubs surround it and grow on top
of the structure that protects it. Yet, a shaft of sunlight reaches in and
makes the clear water glitter. It'ssheltered, welcoming and protective.
I feel freshness and strength fill me as the cool water moves through my
body. A robin sings loudly and the spring dances.
This seems to be a healing place. I will bring work for a sick friend here.

F Three ways to the future

F Three ways to the future
Sunday January 6, 2013
There's some indecisiveness about which path I will take. I start on all
three recently used gateways. Perhaps I need them all.

I climb up through the trees on the hill to the clearing in the woods. In
the centre a spring tinkles in a rocky pol. Beside it, the fire springs up.
They merge and dance together, fire shining on droplets of water, steam
rising into the air. Above in the canopy, birds are singing. I can hear
rustling in the undergrowth of many small hoofed and pawed creatures moving

Out from amongst the trees comes a small white Nanny goat. She bleats
softly as she gambles up to me. She buts me insistently, and I realise that
her udders are dripping and she is in urgent need of milking. I wonder
where her kid is, that she is in this state.

I kneel down besides her, leaning my cheek against her soft downy flank and
milk her into a stone bowl that is sitting beside the fire spring. It's
easy. The milk is warm and smells deeply silkily. I'm not keen on milk but
love cheese. This milk smells like it would make great cheese.

When I have finished, she leans against me as though to thank me. I wonder
what I will do with the milk.

I'VE never drunk goat's milk before. As I say, I don't actually like milk.
I raise the stone bowl to my lips and sip. Oo it is creamy and tangy. I
can taste the cheese it will be.

The birds are singing. The creatures are scurrying in the undergrowth.
Again, I wonder where her kid is. She leans against me, bleating gently.
She loves.

My heart is warm. I feel loved. She has given me such a gift in this milk.
Perhaps her kid has been taken from her and she seeks another to nurture. I
smile to think I am like this goat's kid!

I see the tall majestic ash. I will give some of the milk to her. Maybe it
will help her and all her species, symbolically if not actually. The
insects of the woods will also enjoy it.

The rest of the milk, I set down in the bowl by the fire. Down from the
trees come the birds. Out of the wood come the small creatures, little
moles, mice and even bigger ones like badger and hedgehog. They drink and
are sated. My goat buts me once more. I lay my hand on my heart and bow to
her in respect and reverence. She bleats playfully and skips off into the

Laying my hands on the forest floor, I breathe my thanks for this place and
this bounty and carefully climb down the path.

I climb up to the combe at the top of the second path. Here, backed by a
hedge of broad and deciduous trees, I gaze down at the calm world. The sun
shines full in my face and the birds wheel around in the air, coming to
land. Eagle, pigeon, goose, owl and blackbird come down. They are here to
remind me of the wisdom of the birds. They sing their power out to me and I
am soothed by the scirring of wings and their song.

They accompany me back to the garden and sit in the trees in the Parkland
Walk singing. I can come here when I need and want to hear them. Dear,
dear birds.

I take the third path. I walk down through a winter wood, to a bubbling
stream or small river. I'm cold but I'm drawn to swim. I take off my
clothes and do just that.

It's lovely. The water is cool but not cold. It is silky on my skin. I
swim a long way down river then back again. I climb out on the crescent
beach and kneel down before the hedge of broadleaf and deciduous trees that
edges the beach.

He arrives, tall and majestic, pushing through the trees, his hooves on mud
and shingle. I kneel down at his hooves and put my forehead to the ground.
I feel his presence above me as I humble myself at the feet of the wild.
Time passes.

Something soft touches my shoulder, a cheek, a muzzle, a gentle gesture bids
me rise. I do so looking up into that face, fierce yet gentle, dark
magnificent antlers etched against the blue winter sky. I lay my hand on my
heart to say, I hear you and I thank you.

I return across the river to the garden.

The birds are singing. There's a smell in the air as though the earth is
beginning to warm. It is too soon, I think but I breathe in its hopefulness

E Self-destruct, transforming anger and tools

E Self-destruct, transforming anger and tools
Tuesday December 4, 2012:
Self destruct
I cast and invite an exploration of what I need to deal with physical
discomfort and emotional trauma. I'm in the cave with the lake. This time,
I don't know if Kwan Yin is on the wall. The lake shines invitingly. I
climb in and swim around.

I am conscious of a different movement when swimming. My arms, now forelegs
are scaled, black and lizzardy. My lower body moves differently as though a
great scaly tail was propelling me. I swim around ferociously, snarling, my
great jaws gripped in rage.

I am so angry. I am so angry, I begin biting myself. I rip at my flesh,
snarling, and the power in my jaws iron strong. I feel pain, I feel blood
but I thrash and thrash, rolling and fighting myself with bitter hatred.

The water is thick with my blood. My limbs are still more or less attached,
though great rips and tears leave the flesh flapping.

The water stirs. Something large is moving towards me. I am lifted up from
the water. The air stings my poor ripped flesh. Two great furry paws, wet
with the lake water, slick with my blood, cradle me tenderly, rocking me

A tongue begins to lick my limbs. A rough but gentle tongue. Where it
touches my flesh, it heals it, until I am smooth and young and soft, lying
held against a damp hairy round stomach.

I look up. Old mother bear gazes down at me, tears in her eyes, glistening.
She has such a look of love in her face that instinctively, I reach out in

What has happened to me? What was I fighting in the water? Why was I
hurting myself?

I hurt myself all the time. I take out my anger and disappointment on
myself every day. I shout, snarl and rip at my flesh. I fill my mouth and
bite down hard because I am filled with rage. My jaw, neck, face and head
ache with the gritting of my teeth and the clenching of my jaw. If I can
release my anger, I can release my pain. This must be my work.

I am back in the sauna, warm and comfortable, relaxed and peaceful. It's
time to get going for I mustn't be late for the training.

Transforming anger
I take the black negativity and set fire to it in the fireplace where I meet
the wolf and the goddess. It takes time but eventually the golden orange
flames consume it. In its place is a shiny coppery amber heart. This still
warm, I hold, feeling its smooth reassurance. I take it into my heart.

Wednesday December 5 2012:
I cast a circle and walk up behind the shed on a path lit by the morning
sun. The path circles and spirals up through the woods. I walk on. It
curves up about the tree line, through the moor heather up to a summit,
which is a combe with several levels carved by wind from the top of what is
clearly a mountain. It is fringed with a high hedge of sacred trees of
Britain. I climb and sit down and look down on the world and my life. I
call birds to aid me in touching in on my confidence to do this work.

From the east, an eagle, gold in the morning light comes swooping down. Its
brightness is my intelligence and intellect, which is shining.
From the south, a great red dragon comes circling and spiralling down. He
holds the golden sun in his jaws and is incandescent with energy.
From the west, a flock of geese come flying, elegant in that v and flowing
in the up drafts, they move smoothly.
From the north, the great owl comes swooping. Wise old owl detached and
harbinger of change especially at twilight. Circling together they are
joined by the singing blackbird. These birds are me and my capacity to do
this work.
Reassured, I thank them and they fly off. Now I know what to do.

D The bear within

D The bear within

Saturday November 17, 2012:
After dinner, we go to the woods. It's a bit spooky at first, till I invoke
the owl and my companion invites Ganesh to come.
We sing to the trees. It is lovely. I find words flow, like "the moon
basketted by tree branches". And "owls hoot, their call like silver
moonlight pierces the dark". They swoop low and weave between the trunks as
though they were upright bars, segmenting the darkness that are the woods at

My stomach grumbles, wobbles and squeaks. O-Oh, something's moving. I ignore
it. The sensation travels down into my lower gut. Inexorably, drawn by
gravity, it puts pressure my rectum.
Goddess, I need a poo! There's no turning back, no stopping it. I retreat
to a bush, and bear like, poo in the woods!
I am a bear! I had been growling like one earlier, when my companion was
reading to her daughter, perhaps I've morphed into one!

Emerging from the woods, I shuffle embarrassedly away from the deed. I've
only ever pooed in public spaces before twice, once on a sandy beach and
another time behind an insubstantial bush on a popular nature walk! I
inhabit a sense of helplessness. My body has decided. It will do what it
must, no matter what.

Ruminating on incontinence and how it affects my life, I wander after my
companion as we exit the woods and head off. I liked the space. Why did my
bottom have to spoil everything!

I think we are fire divas. I asked for a fire. I get a fire. We sit and
drink wine whilst feeding the greedy flames.
I make up a chant which I don't retain in my memory. I am sure it will come
The temperature plummets. The stars are out. High above us, an owl hoots. In
the distance a siren splits the air. The fire snaps and crackles and I dance
with the flames.
I feel hugely comforted. Perhaps the bear has climbed into my body. I eat
fluffy bread and butter, dripping with honey. I eat it standing up, my hands
like fist, my chin smeared stickily. Who do I remind myself off?
Curling up under the duvet on the sofa, I grumble my way to sleep,
bear-like, growly large and dozy. Growl.

C Coming into my power as a leader

C Coming into my power as a leader
Friday November 16, 2012:
It's hard to sustain a portfolio career as an advisor in these days of
arrogant government who won't be regulated. Trust is the new equalities it
It feels like I've spent a lifetime making non-executive applications.
Recent success has only yielded pain in that discrimination has come dancing
Accepted for an important position, the body turns its face immutably away,
refusing to acknowledge its responsibility to move the disabling barriers. I
am in despair. My confidence ebbs away.
I take my pain to the goddess. Invoking her in her second aspect as empress,
warrior, and leader, I call on her to help. Despite the sapping of
confidence, I do know that she embodies many of the things I am.
I will call upon the power of those strong qualities, to enhance these
skills, connecting me with her and then to ask her to mitigate work on my
doubt, fear and internalised oppression. Then I will ask her to work on
others I want to influence so they see who I am and know what I can give. I
will ask her to help remove from them, the conscious and unconscious
barriers they perceive or actually put in place to stop me being included
and supported. Then I will ask her to work on the unknown.
We dress the altar with stones such as carnelian, garnet and amber. A gold
candle is placed in a brass caldron. I add the Amazon rattle and the
enchantress elixir I made last year. I place the eagle there too.
I cast a circle and call in directions with musical instruments. Together
we invoke the goddess in her second aspect. I call flame dancer, warrior,
judge, leader, queen, empress, Red haired dancing woman. As I call, I pick
up the Amazon axe and rainbow flag, symbols of the charge for rights. I
also pick up the Tara statue and call in Vijayatara to help too.
It's spinning and zinging. I talk of my qualities, thank her for them. I
build the fire with my precision, using it as metaphor for my skills. I
recall the ritual last Sunday just gone and all the qualities I bought into
Then I talk of the tears that quench the fire of success, of being
high-jacked by rejection and hurt, and fear as I am now because of the
latest non-executive board debacle. I ask her to help me grieve, heal and
leave behind this pain, whenever I am hurt. I'm not asking not to feel the
pain, just not to be hijacked by it.
I talk of the qualities I want others to see in me. I ask her to remove
their prejudice and inability to see what I can offer and am. I also ask
her to remove their prejudice and limiting beliefs that I can't do the work
because of their response to my impairment.
Then I ask for her to work on the unknown. I ask her to help me find my
true path, if this is it, help me move through. If there's another way, I
ask her to show it me. I am open for this path not being it. I want to
reach out to my future without the fear of not having money. My future
needs to be one that gives me enough to live on.
She is fading. We open the circle.
I pick up three stones to help me.
A Rough stone lies in my hand. It is carnelian, black on the outside bright
red within. A second stone rests against it, a smaller smooth stone. This
is garnet with the most pearliest glow from within. I take a third stone,
sardonyx, stratered with carnelian and agate with different streaks of red.
I pick up a green gold sequin bag, so green Tara holds the redness of stones
and energy and, the gold is the fire of the goddess.

B Searching for hope in the Dark.

B Searching for hope in the Dark.

I cast and call the dark goddess - I call Hecate as she will show me the way
with her fingers pointing three ways at once.
I crawl through coal black, flame shimmering wet pulsating tunnels. They
smear me with their juice. I climb out into a big chamber and crawl down to
the pool in the middle. I immerse myself in its warmth, rolling my body
over and over again in the cool water. .
Great hands take me up, lift me bodily from the water and carry me through
the chamber, bear me through tunnels into a warm room with a big fire. A
shadow sits in the corner, softly rocking. At her feet, another shape,
moves slowly, rises up and walks towards me as I sit warming myself by the
The wolf, for it is she, lies down beside me. She rests her old velvety bony
head on my thigh. She sighs. I sigh.
I watch the fire. Something dances in the fire. All my triumphs, successes
and skills dance in the fire. I see myself, golden and shining, dancing and
dancing. I dance the flames with my hands. She who is me, comes into my
hands, I hold her heat that is my enchanter passion as a leader.

I bring her to my breast. Her heat warms my skin. I breathe; she melts
into me and becomes an unquenchable dancing fire in my heart.
This is what I need, what will heel me. To know my shining self is within
me. I can dance the flame of a candle to be reminded.
The wolf returns to the figure in the corner. I get up and kneel before
both, one hand on wolf, the other on my heart, my head bent in homage and
I commit to lighting candles and playing with their flame to remind me that
my shining self is in my heart.
I pull three cards from the Mother peace deck.
What do I leave behind?
Shaman of cups: Fire/water - Putting on a mask to do work in the world.
What do I have already?
Four of swords: Cleans other people's energy out of yourself by meditating
on pulling the cords that connect you to people.
WHAT do I have for the future?
Initially I pulled the charge of the goddess. I take this to mean doing more
magical practice.
14. Temperance. When death is no longer feared, body and soul' can
integrate with one another, creating balance and a sense of self within the
midst of moving energy. In this card, water and fire unite in ecstasy,
consciousness dances in celebration of itself.

A Samhain apples

Samhain apples
Saturday October 27, 2012:
The woods are quiet. There's a bit of thick but sporadic rain. The crows
are cawing high in the trees.

We set out our things. I ground and purify. Someone casts the circle. We
take it in turn to call the directions and Sing,
"Lady Spin our circle bright
Weave our web of dark and light.
Earth, air, fire and water,
Bind us as one. AS we sing, we cast the circle.

I invoke Cernunnus, who comes striding through the woods. He stands behind
me like a solid presence.

Standing, feet apart on the ground, I reflect quietly. I listen to the soft
rain, the crows, the robins and what sounds like heavy breathing behind me.
I also hear footsteps.
A presence seems to gather. A circle around our circle. The hairs on the
back of my neck begin to prickle. "O-ho", I think, "who's this then?"

Voices rise and dance around the woods, bouncing off the trees, taking up
the space left by them.
"Where there's fear, there's power.
Passion is the healer.
Desire cracks open the gate.
If you ready it will take you in.

But nothing lasts forever.
Time is the destroyer.
The wheels turn again and again.
Watch out or it will take you through!

But nothing dies forever.
Nature is the renewer.
The wheels turn again and again.
If you ready it will take you through.

We dance to the gateway where the goddess waits in the isle of apples. She
asks us what we fear. I say. "Poverty, addiction. Depression." She
comforts me and lets me through.

There's a bowl of apples in water. I reach down and poke them playfully. I
am meant to be scrying but this seems a better thing to do. I laugh. The
Priestess, captivated by the playfulness forgets her dignity and laughs too.
This is what I need. This is what the bowl of apples in water is saying.
It's says "Play". Play, no matter how hard things are. Find time to play.
That makes sense.

The goddess shows us the apple, the symbol of death and the rebirth inside
with the pentacle and seeds. We each accept an apple, crunching it and then
giving the crows some.

Walking back through the veil to now, we sing and dance a spiral dance to
raise energy.
"Hecate, Ceredwyn, dark mother take us in.
Hecate, ceredwyn, let us be reborn."
As I dance, I feel the rough hand of the goddess on mine, pulling me faster
and faster. I let go of control. How easy is it just to dance and not think?
The sky lowers in that navy blue cool way. The trees draw close as though
for comfort and company. The birds are silent now for what sun there was
behind the cloud is gone. The earth yields beneath our feet, holding us
cushioned in safety as we walk. In the clearing behind, a dark figure stands
watching, seeing us safely away.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Ah the evils of the corporate web. After a mighty fight with slippery
passwords, I think I'm back in!
Blackbird Owl

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

43 Farewell to fire

43 Farewell to fire
Wednesday December 26, 2012:
Yesterday morning, I set fire to my cooker. Happy Christmas! I don't know
how it happens. Suddenly, there is an unquenchable fire on the cooker hob.
I poke it with a curious digit and burning plastic moulds itself to my
Braille reading finger. I prod it with a dish cloth, but it sets the cloth
on fire. I throw water on it but it still continues to burn.
No, nothing for it but to abandon independence and run for help. I run for
my neighbour who is handily sighted and relatively sensible. Together, we
finally extinguish the fire and further disaster is averted. Phew!
The blackened melted plastic thing that is stuck to the hob is totally
unrecognisable. I check my plastic lids and utensils, no, none are missing.
I'm careful about cooking. Because I am blind, I check things are on the hob
properly and nothing is sticking out. I check there is no stray utensil
lying around under the griddle. So how did this happen?
I had just eaten my scrambled eggs. I was thinking about getting down to the
review of my pilgrimage with fire - the task for this retreat. I think,
"I'll just do the washing up and make some coffee ..." and whoosh!
I fill a small bowl with water and drop some lavender oil into it. I immerse
my sore and throbbing finger. Ah, immediate relief. I can almost feel the
skin mending.
I open the PC folder with the fire pieces in. Hmm - it's a bit sporadic.
There are some which aren't really part of fire and which are out of
sequence. I sort them out first.
Then I open the file, "1 Playing with fire". This is what I promised I would
do. Hmmm, well I've not done most of those things. Have I failed? No, I've
made a different journey.
So am I done? Is fire finished? Since it's pretty much been raining more
than less since April, I think that fire might have finished with me.
I have started to think about what I might do with water but have been
easily deflected by the obstacles.
What I really want to do is a pilgrimage from source to sea of the Great
River Thames. But I can't find a walking partner. Plan B is to just cross
all the bridges, but there are hundreds. This might be more manageable
though. Is there a plan C?
You know, I 'm a bit frightened of water. I'm scared that it will involve
feelings. I think I've had enough of feelings this year, what with the
ongoing depression and worries over money, my career, political
disappointments and what I will finally do when I grow up.
I could pilgrimage to wells. I could take the waters? I could visit waters
like seas, rivers, lakes and ponds? I could explore water goddesses and
connect with them?
I read the bit about different kinds of magical fires. Oh well, I did none
of that. Huh, see - failure, that's what.
Then I read the rest of the entries. Oo, I learned to make fire - and
actually I'm quite confident about fires now. I did a lot of fire
exploration - oh I think I've done fire in my own special way.
It's not been academic. It's not even been deeply magical but it has been
profound, and that's all that matters.
I like the way I write. I think I've really got my describing tongue around
some of the images. I think I've crafted fine pieces with relative ease. I
think this will do.
So ... farewell fire. Thank you for having me.
I stand on the edge of water. I must simply let go of my fear and dive in,
after all, I like swimming. I am a water baby and a Scorpio, what's not to
like about water?
Splash! ,

42 A humbling Reminder

42 A humbling reminder
Sunday December 23, 2012:
Oh I love that fluid eloquence of robins and tits, the bubbling softness of
pigeons and the grumpy cawing of crows. I sit in the garden under the
castor oil plant and allow the energy to take me away.

I love it that I have so many ways out of the garden. So many paths and
exits lead to other exciting places in my shamanic and magical world. It's a
pleasure to be here to explore.
Today, to the right of the shed, through next door's garden, is a gravel
path sloping down to the river through a copse. I walk down, revelling in
the piece of the woods, the songs of birds in winter mingling with the
cascading babble of a river in space.

I know I need to get into the water. My warm skin under my clothing calls
to the rivers cool embrace. I strip and step into the water.

My breath leaves me. My skin rises in goose-bumps to meet the cold. I swim
otter like down and across the river.

A crescent shingly beach invites me out. I climb up and sit down surrounded
by holly, bare oak, tall ash and other woodland trees, both deciduous and
evergreen. From amongst them comes the great stag, antlers as prickly as
holly thorns, as twisted as oak branches. I don't care that I am naked. I
don't even feel cold. I kneel down in front of him in humble supplication.
"Humble yourself in the arms of the wild) I hear the wood singing. I curl
up at his hooves. I feel his regard and I feel safe. Time moves on. He
stands looking at me. His gaze is benevolent but all-seeing.
"What does he see in me," I wonder. "What do I reveal of myself, curled up
by his hooves?"

He lowers his great antlered head to nudge me awake with a downy cheek, for
it seems I have slept. I uncurl and gaze up into clear brown eyes, full of
compassion and command. I know, I must return to my life beyond the wood,
but I must remember what it feels like to humble myself in the arms of the
wild, for this will make a difference to my life.

I run to the edge of the water and jump in. Like an otter I roll and play,
dive and emerge. I lie on my back laughing up at the winter sky through the
lattice of the bare swaying branches of the woodland trees. As I roll over
and raise my head, I glance back to the little beach. The woodland crescent
of hedge branches shake as they close behind something large and majestic,
departing further into the woods.

I climb up out of the river and shivering, scamper back through the woods
into my own garden. It's a cool cloudy day. It's not actually raining at
the moment. I walk back to the house with the rememberence of a soft downy
cheek tenderly nudging me awake.

41 Winter Bears and the fire of hope.

41 Winter Bears and the fire of hope.

Saturday December 22, 2012:
Call the sun from the tomb of night.
The cold earth turns toward the light!
Wake! Rise up from that death-like sleep.
Hail! New Dawn, new day, new life!
The bear comes slowly moving through the space. Sniffing at the floor, the
air and at us as she passes, I hear her growling low in the back of her
throat. I'm not sure if it's a growl I should particularly note as a
threat, a warning or a promise. I decide to simply note that she is
She is many goddesses and gods, all bears and warriors, primeval, powerful
queenly and kingly. Fierce-clawed, her paws are also velvety padded. Her
great mass is also a soft big belly on which to sleep. I want to reach out
to touch her but I feel she might think this to be impertinent; after all,
she's not a teddy bear!
I growl in the back of my throat in greeting and honour of her. She seems to
like that. I feel a bit bear-like myself and that feels good. I think of the
bear called to watch over a dying mother in New York State and to comfort
her waiting daughter. I send a special soft growl over the ocean to bring
comfort to the watching one. May her mother find release when the time is
right, and may the watching one find comfort on her ongoing journey without
a mother?
I say: "In the dark, dark hart of the night,
when all is still, when all is quiet,
the earth sleeps.
Silently, she surrenders to the night,
Submits to the stillness that brings her deep rest,
that helps her recoup her energy
for the time when the light will return.

Journey into the dark. Find that place of stillness, of deep rest.
Sleep, cradled in the arms of the great mother.
Wait to feel the turning of the earth,
the warming of the air
that tells of the sun's return
and our time to wake."

I go down to the fire via the wooded walk and the hidden cave behind the
bush. At the bottom of the great spiral is the guardian of the fire and with
her, the wolf. She allows me to burn despair. I watch it turning the
flames red, orange and yellow, slowly curling up and shrinking and
shrivelling until it has all gone and only the fire burns brightly and
I walk through the chambers and meet the great mother as a large bear. I lie
down resting my head on her stomach. I ask her what I need now for the next
part of my life's journey.
I dream. IN my dream I am doing something else and feeling very happy. I
don't know what it is I'm doing but it is making my heart sing. I wonder
what this is and whether I ought to do this instead of what I do now or as
an antidote to the stresses of what I do now. This is not yet resolved. I
trust that I will know when it's time.
I take the memory away to think about it. The fire guardian presents me
with dark dense shiny coal or petrified wood, which she tells me, will soak
up all the negativity. I think as I take it, I can wear black stones to help
me do this to, but maybe I'll carry petrified wood and jet with me when I
I climb the stairs back up to the day, my body feels lighter.
"Deep in the earth, deep in her womb,
Cradled in the dark, resting in the tomb."
But hey! The light is returning!
I sing:
"light is returning, although it seems the darkest hour.
No one can turn back the dawn."
Voices join in. I feel my heart shift with hopefulness. I know I want to
retreat to the dark and sometimes it provides the answer. I often say we're
too eager to search for the light without working on what is dark within us,
but maybe I have stood in the dark of my depression too long.
I lift my voice and feel my heart shift with joy and hopefulness. I am
letting go of negativity, and , of despair. I am embracing joy and hope
for the future.
"It is an act of will, an act of courage, in the darkest times, to affirm
that light will return! Another reads the words written by a former member
of our group and to which, I have added.
"We call the sun from the tomb of night.
Come, wake! Rise!
Rise once more, new born and shining from that long sleep of death!
We call upon the brightness that will heal the earth; that will whisper to
seeds that it is time to put out green shoots; that will warm the dead
places in our hearts; that will make newness, life, joy and laughter both
possible and right.
Because we have rested with the dead, we who believe in life must always be
ready for the next rebirth.
Because the times are difficult, we who believe in life must sing and dance
to call the new light into being, knowing that it cannot be held back.
We call the sun from the tomb of night.
Come, wake! Rise!
Rise once more, new born and shining into a new dawn, a new day, a new
THE place is ablaze. I sing so joyfully of the return of the sun, my throat
swelling with passion, other voices around me join in to lift the roof.
"Celebrate the birth of the sun,
Light the way o Lucina.
Dance around on Solstice night,
Blessed be the great mother!
WE dance and raise the roof. I feel the bears dancing with us, not just a
great magisterial bear but lots of different bears. I am like a bear,
stamping and dancing and I smile, muzzle in the air as I sing.
The song moves to a wordless tone. I jump up and down with excitement. How
old am I?
"I am as young as the new born sun", I say to no one in particular and reach
out a paw to feel the heat from a candle.
The bears go. Everyone thanks everyone and we feast in a manner redolent of
a teddy bears picnic. I hum under my breath and think rather incongruously
of Pooh Bear.

40 Dancing with the ancestors

40 Dancing with the ancestors
Wednesday October 31, 2012:
And here we are on Samhain. That time when the veils between the worlds are
thin. That time when our beloved dead are closest to us. I wonder if there's
something about the death of opportunity or the death of the world wanting
what I've been able to give by way of equality championship, good regulation
and all that, that I need to notice at least.
A part of me still doesn't want to give up, but I have to find a way of
getting something to do which will pay me enough to live on. I'm leading the
Samhain Walk with the Ancestors tonight, so I'd better get myself together.
The streets are filled with trickle-treaters. The posh houses are
elegantly decorated with intricately carved pumpkins. We "woo-woo" at
children who pass. Everyone is in good spirits.
In all nearly 15 gather to circle on the heath to ground and connect. We
walk quietly up the hill, circling the ash tree (It's an ash this year!)
Someone casts and we call direction, setting up sacred space
I call in the ancestors and begin by calling in my beloved dead.
I say:
"I call in Vijayatara who taught me the power of struggle.
I call in Rowen Jade, who taught me that stillness was strength.
I call in Nasa Begum who taught me that facts have power.
I call in Tina Grigg, who taught me to love trees.
I call in Dave Morris, who taught me that there's always another way.
I call in Sue Napolitano, who taught me the power of words.
I call in all my other beloved disabled dead... Come to me now, for I have
never needed you so much. Come to me now, for I need your strength to help
me in this fight for our lives as Disabled people. Come, beloved disabled
warriors, come!"
Others call in their beloved dead. Soon, we are surrounded. The energy is
strong. We form a line and are bound to each other by wool. Then we walk.
The snake moves slowly, swaying, pushing through the diaphanous veil into
the other world. Our beloved dead march beside us. I am surrounded.
Palpable is their energy. The drum beat slow and steady, we move on.
The beat picks up. The energy rises. We stop walking and in honour of
Gabrielle Roth, begin to dance. In front of me, my beloved dead dance. I
move in a silent tarantella of pride and love. I feel my head raised high;
my shoulders straighten as we dance together, our dance to set us all free.
I must do this more often", I think to myself. The beat slows. We move on,
wobbling as we pick up our feet. The earth beneath my feet is tuffety. It
is solid but soft, cushioned by the long rough grass. I pick up my feet and
step, my heart light, my beloved dead beside me.
The veil softly strokes my face. I turn; looking back in my mind to the
journey just taken my face framed like a bride, and bow a goodbye to my
beloved dead dance partners.
We circle under the protected embrace of the ash tree and give up our
prayers and thanks. I hang the holed stone on a red ribbon that I charged
during the Mayoral campaign. I give it to the tree to remind me of my
politics and my intent to change the world. I offer it as a reminder to
call in the support of my beloved dead when I feel need of them. The stone
swings in the breeze, banging softly into my hand, to remind me of my
The tree accepts other tokens of our love and resolve. We open the circle
and feast on delicious fairy cakes, pumpkin cake, dates, apricots and marsh
Someone has found an enormous leaf lying at the foot of the tree. We
speculate on where it came from and how it got here. It seems important
somehow but none knows what it signifies. No matter.
The pumpkin lantern is held high as some dance down the hill. Others like
me follow more slowly, singing quietly together. The heath is still. There
are no revellers. Some runners have been there, but that's all.
We gather by the maple tree to ground and let go of the circle finally,
taking with us the energy of our working. We are standing on a carpet of
enormous leaves. Aha! This is the source of the one under the Ash tree
yonder. Giving thanks to the tree of its bounty, we head for the pub.
I didn't know that the pub had a fire! In the other lounge, there it is,
burning merrily. And what's more, there's a free table and some seats.
Five of us settle down to drink, chat and be comfortable. I reach out my
hands to feel the fire.
"Changer, destroyer, transformer, stay with me," I whisper.

39 Fire and wild ways singing

39 Fire and wild ways singing
Friday September 28 2012:
In the woods, I sit on a bench made of branches, still twisted and curved
in an undulation of life's growth. It rocks as I slightly rock.

The drum beats fast and syncopated. Low grumbling, soft crooning turns
sharply into loud howling, deepening and roughening into snarling and
Here in the centre of the wood, trees watch as in the clearing, the fire
begins to blaze. The woods are alive. I am alive!
All around, emerging from trees, from the low plants, from amongst the
cracked mud and oozing from the soft thickened puddles, come the folk of the
land. Fierce and stern, soft and subtle, they come.
Me, I curl softly and warmly. My mouse paws before me, my head down,
whiskers twitching as I listen and notice. I am safe, sat between his great
hooves. Nothing will come to harm me. My tribe and I are here to be the
softness between the hardness of the old wood, the thickened horn and stiff
The dance goes on, gyrating and spinning. Across the forest, occasional
piercing screams echo between the trees. I sit curled and still, serene and
The folk have come to dance, stride, strut and be. I am still, curled
between the great hooves, a reminder of gentleness in this wild world.
All around is fierce energy. Here in me is soft quietness. This is my
relationship with the wild places.
I like it that I am soft. This wild place is hard, but it is also soft. Not
just the mosses and funguses but the softness of the rain-soaked earth,
trembling beneath my feet as I walk.
My weight presses it into dips and hollows. It clings to my feet. We're
getting to know each other, the mud and I.
Saturday September 29, 2012:
I walk in the woods. The sky, the ground, the waters, the air are all
The other path is wider and less steep. It leads me past a standing stone. I
move onward through the trees, listening to the river calling me to come sit
with it.
I settle beside the fast moving stream, under the trees to sit and be. I am
holding a stag's antler and lightly drumming on it. Soon I begin to sing:
""His hooves on mud, his hooves on mud, his hooves on mud are dancing.
The river flows, the river chuckles, river tumbles laughing.
Standing stones, guardians watching.
Cawing crow, circling skywards.
Listen to the wind moan, listen to the wind grown, listen to the wind
singing in the trees.
Running through the greenwood, running through the greenwood, running
through the greenwood amongst the trees.
A single ray of sun slants through the trees, gelding all that it touches.
The sailing moon beams down from the sky through a lattice of silvered black
Accompanying myself on the stag horn drum, I sing my new song to my
companion. He is not only gratifyingly impressed but being a singer, soon
joins in. We carol harmoniously under the trees with the river singing along
with us until called by hunger to lunch.
The sun strikes lower through the gloom of the forest. By the silent fire
pit, we gather to praise trees. We sing lustily and happily:
"Trees grow tall in the heart of the forest,
High in the sky and the roots grow down to the deep dark earth.
I am held by the forked oak, leaning into his embrace as I sing. I stroke
his strong limbs and send my love of trees out to all trees everywhere, for
never have they been in such danger as they are now.

In the roundhouse, a small fire smokes. We call on Cernunnus to help us work
to protect badger.

I follow the stag through the trees to meet a large milky white cow standing
alone, shining under the silver moon. I am her and she is me. Heavy with
milk, we lumber around. I moo, low and deeply richly maternal. I call to all
the calves I will ever have and all the calves stolen from the milch cow to
keep her milk flowing for humans to consume. , .
Tonight, stimulated by the bright moon, my milk flows. Badger comes to
suckle. All the badgers come to suckle, and sated, make way for the next
one, moving in a river of black, white and grey.
Like a wave shattering, the drum thunders. Cernunnus takes me riding round
the world showing all cows and badgers lying down together. There love and
appreciation shining out under the full moon. Their connection stays the
hands of badger's executers.
"If we can love and give sucker to those who might be our enemies, we can
unite to fight the outer evil", they tell me.
I crawl from the roundhouse and return to the fire. I am cold. I remember
the gentle milk white cow and feel her love for everyone.

Sunday September 30, 2012:
Beyond the stooped shouldered mossy standing stone grows a tall three
trunked sycamore tree. It guards the clearing in which a round green pond
lies. I sit down in this quiet place to be with the trees.
I sleep. I dream that I watch the clearing a whole day and night through.
Dawn light shows the leaves on the ground distinct in all their new autumn
colours. High in the trees, the twittering robins chatter with the doves.
The forest is waking up.
At noon, sunlight reaches into guild the green pool. A woodpecker cackles
and a thrush answers. The wind in the trees makes the tree tops dance.
The Evening sun casts great dark shadows beneath the trees. The blackbird
sings his evening song and the crow calls for night to come.
The sky grows dark and the moon sails out, casting silver and black shifting
lacy patterns across the water. Above, owls hoot and shriek, swoop low and
then fly off, wings beating into the branches above.
Leaves crackle under hoof as something moves out from the shelter of the
trees. A light form, ethereal and delicate steps out into the moonlight. A
white hind bows her head down to the pool to drink, her loveliness mirrored
in the water. She raises her head to look up at the moon and suddenly is
The clearing is empty. The sky begins to pale and another day dawns.
I can't move. Something has feasted on any flesh I have left carelessly
exposed. I scratch my hands in irritation. The trees say to me that they
want people to sit under them and experience them. They ask that all trees
are respected whether they are the noble oak or the humble sycamore.
The fire blazes on despite the pouring rain. The only thing to do in weather
like this is to dance. My companion and I dance in the stone circle watched
incuriously by two horses. I can only think they're used to humans behaving
like this.
The ground is waterlogged. The soft importunate mud pulls at my boots
insistently. I stride, feet heavy with caked mud in a ritual of physical
leaving of the land I have dreamed, sun and danced on for 3 days.

38 The confined flames of Mabon

38 The confined flames of Mabon
Friday September 21, 2012:
"O restless leaf of autumn's blaze,
Release your hold and tumble down.
Settle on the cooling earth,
Now that summer's gone.
Mabon Blessings.
Equinox Regents Park
As we walk along Baker Street, heading for the Park, it begins to rain. I
introduce my visually impaired companion to rotating cones, which she is
very excited about. Finally, we find our way to a little Del by a green
pond with a bubbling outflow. We are surrounded by trees and hedges and
can't really be seen.
We cast and call. Wood pigeon comes. So does dragon. And here is the wise
salmon, kissing the surface of the water, and the bear. Welcome all.
I sit with a lit candle in a jar in my hands. Its warmth reminds me that the
sun declines but will return again as the wheel turns on.
Our first task in circle is to jettison what we no longer need. I decide to
take a boat journey across the pond. My boat rocks gently as I step into it.
Carefully sitting down, I cast off from the shore and steer the boat out
into the green water. It's dark and quiet. I want to let go my anxiety.
A goose appears and fights me for it. With a great many honking and
fluttering of wings, the goose hisses and spits as she tries to wrestle my
anxiety from me. I don't want to let it go because I know it, and it stops
me doing something new and different. In the end, the goose wins and swims
triumphantly off with it, as my anxiety struggles in resistance.
My boat bobs lightly on the pond. You know, it feels so much better without
that great Burdon of having to feel anxious all the time, and no longer
having to let that anxiety dictate to me. I feel much lighter.
I sit peacefully on the bank overlooking the pond. I really want to keep my
promises to myself. I really want not to be disheartened when I don't and
to never give up. I want never to tire of persisting, for I will win in the
end, I know that.
"It is an ultimate act of self-love that I purposefully plan and keep
promises I make to myself," I tell myself. Can I start with promising to
like and admire myself?
We breathe for the folk of the place who ask that we help heal the sickness
in the pond. The pond is clogged with green algae. Life finds it hard to
exist. We breathe and breathe and I feel like beginning to move slightly in
the depths of the pond. The geese, in a great hooting flock, flutter down
in a scirring of wings to peck away at the algae.
The flame in the jar glows warmly in my palm. I stroke the hot glass. I am
comforted by the warmth. Reluctantly, I raise it to my lips and blow it out.

Our work done, we open the circle and make to leave. The air is rapidly
cooling in the solid rain. I pull up my hood against its incessant
Queens Wood equinox
Saturday September 22, 2012:
The sun shafts through the trees, fingering me with its latent warmth as I
stand in circle amongst them. The birds in the canopy are quiet. The
children in the nearby clearing are not. Still, we continue.
We give thanks for what we have, our harvest. What's mine? This mood I am
in. This joy in being in the woods once more. The ecstasy of being a queer
The earth is perfumed sweetly with the newly fallen leaves of autumn. A
soft, dusty mushrooming greenness comes to me with gentleness. I breathe in
Crouching down, I search for tokens to embody what I want to let go of. We
sing and walk quietly on the cool damp earth. I pick up pieces of wood and
feel their shapes and textures with cool dexterous fingers. I give my woes
to the pieces of wood and cast away anxiety as I cast away addictions and
broken promises.
In casting away, there becomes room for gratitude. This is the heart of
Mabon working. I give thanks for the group and the woods in which we work.
But what will sustain me as the winter arrives. What will fit me during the
dark cold nights before the sun returns? I talk about wanting to walk The
Thames from source to sea and finding a partner to do that with. I also
talk about entering upon a 12 steps path and making a commitment to it.
Something warmly leans against my leg. The low sun reaches in through the
trees to touch me once more. It's fire is cooling now. AS we move towards
the autumnal dark, I feel my fire quest, moving towards its natural end.