The alarm clock goes off, Aerosmith is playing on Planet Rock. There is a small white cat lying between me and my husband, her little head resting on my pillow. A spotted grey cat is curled up against the small of my back, sharing in the warmth. My husband gets up, showers and comes back to kiss me goodbye. I sigh, stretch, and slowly extricate myself from the sleeping, furry softness to greet the day.
Standing by the top landing window, overlooking my back garden and the horse paddocks beyond that, down the valley towards the little nature sanctuary, my eyes coming back full circle to see the sun, rising over the North Sea (I cannot see the sea from here, but it is less than a mile away). I let its light wash over me – sunny mornings have been few and far between, and with eyes closed I drink it in. “Hail to the Day, and Day’s Sons, farewell to Night and her Daughters. With loving eyes look upon us here, and grant peace to those living here. Hail to the Gods, hail to the Goddesses, hail to the might fecund Earth. Eloquence and native wit bestow upon us here, and healing hands while we live”. Another deep breath, and so the day begins.
Headings downstairs, I get food ready for the cats, and boil the kettle for my tea. The cats slowly make their way downstairs to breakfast. After getting my lunch ready, I prepare my own breakfast, and sit down at the table with a cup of nettle tea, the young nettles picked the day before. “I give my thanks for this food I am about to eat. To the spirits of land, sea and sky, know that you are honoured”.
After breaking my fast I head back upstairs to get ready for work. Using toiletries that are from ethical companies, I grumble once again at the price of these organic, non-animal tested cosmetics, but then I catch myself. It is better than the alternative, and I am saving money in other areas of my life, in accordance with my vow not to buy any new clothing for a year – I can afford it. I get my Zen on, and get on with it.
After dressing, I say goodbye to the cats and head out the door to drive to work. I give thanks that I am blessed in that I both live and work in the countryside. (I work part-time for a music company and charity, as well as having my own dance company and being an author and priestess). On the drive to work, I like to listen to music, to hear the inspiration of others, yet to remain focused on my driving – winding slowly down country lanes, watching out for rabbits, hares and deer and the occasional oncoming tractor around the next blind bend. The fields have been ploughed and seeded, the cotton canopies protecting those crops susceptible to late frosts. The white blankets over the brown sandy soil glisten over the softly rolling hills, looking like little shining lakes in the distance. I pray for a good crop this year, as last year’s winter was too dry, and the summer too wet. They are already 3 – 4 weeks behind schedule this year, with the prolonged winter weather.
At work, it is a busy time, but I try to stay focused, remaining in the here and now a much as I can, giving every task the same attention. At one point, a colleague does not help me when I ask for it, moving heavy boxes to another location, and I feel anger rising within me. I then breathe deeply, and another colleague from another department offers to help, for which I am thankful. I move the boxes, and release the anger – I cannot expect people to behave the way that I think they should. I can only lead by example, and not let it affect it so.
The day is tiring, and when home time comes I am thankful. Physically and mentally tired, I walk back to my car, taking the time to decompress. Where I work is one of the most beautiful spots, along the river with the reed beds swaying in the wind, the large Suffolk skies opening out before me. I listen to the birds and breathe in the salt marsh air, and smile.
The drive home is in silence. I open the car window slightly to feel the breeze against my skin and to smell the emerging spring scents. I am wholly focused on driving, feeling the ground through the tires and the steering wheel, the sand that is slowly taking over the roads from being washed away from the fields over the winter.
I pull into the driveway of my home, and turn off the car engine, giving thanks once again. Walking to my front door, I notice the crocuses, tulips, daffodils and primroses all out at the same time, stretching towards the late afternoon sun. I too am going to stretch towards it. I walk into the porch and, coming through the front door, touch the doorframe, whispering a soft prayer to my goddess Nemetona, Lady of Sanctuary.
After greeting my cats and feeding them, my growling stomach demands attention, and I eat, giving thanks once again to the spirits of land, sea and sky. My husband comes home, and inside I smile at the welcome, comfort and love that I am blessed with.
After dinner I wrap up and head out into the backyard, walking around the perimeter, singing songs of welcome to the spirits of the land within my head. Some bluebells, foreign plantings by the previous owner, are starting to come through alongside the daffodils, crocuses and tulips. The irises are starting to recover and grow back after being munched by the muntjac deer early in the spring, and the lilies tipped with black edges along the leaves from frostbite. The leylandii hedge is also suffering from frostbite, and I am not sure it will recover. However, that is something to worry about when the time comes.
The apple trees have little buds on them, and the first frog spawn is in the pond. I whisper words of welcome to the new little lives, hoping that the pond will not freeze again. I know that little newts are secretly lying within the mud and leaves at the bottom of the pond, and wonder whether they will emerge this year.
The beech tree calls, and I go to sit under its majestic canopy, still bare but far-reaching. The tree is about 80 years old, and I feel a kinship to it at this point in my life – it feels like a middle-aged tree, strong and comfortable within its skin. I feel the edges of my nemeton touching the tree’s, noting where they meet and where they blend. We are still getting to know each other, the tree and I, and little moments like these are splendid.
I sit by my little altar under the beech tree, on the mossy ground. Placing my hands upon the ground, I feel the earth slowly stirring from the long winter slumber. I simply sit, meditating upon being present, feeling the warming ground, hearing the children at play on the football fields several fields over, the neighbours saying goodbye to someone. The blackbirds are singing and fighting over territory, and a little wren is looking for tasty morsels among the leaf mould. The watery sun hangs low in the sky, the warmth fading fast as night approaches.
After my meditation, I head inside for a hot bath. Sliding into the warm water I sigh with pleasure – the scents of chamomile and the soft oats feeding my skin and my senses. I honour the spirit of water and think of where my water comes from, honouring that source as well, giving thanks for the luxury of clean, hot water.
After drying off, the sun is setting, and once again I stand by my window on the top landing, looking out over the little bit of land that I am getting to know after a few years of having lived here. The light is fading, and the only birds are the blackbirds with their large eyes, singing in the dusk. The owls and their young will soon be hooting in the ash trees, the cuckoo will soon be here, the crickets singing. I long for summer, then catch myself – be present. I take a deep breath, and ground myself, centring on the here and now. “Farewell to the Day, and Day’s Sons, hail to Night and her Daughters. With loving eyes, look upon us here, and grant peace to those living here. Hail to the Gods, hail to the Goddesses, hail to the might fecund Earth. Eloquence and native wit bestow upon us here, and healing hands while we live.”
With pleasure I crawl into bed, cats coming to join me, and later my husband. I read for a bit, and then when eyes are too tired, close the book and enter the world of dreams, thankful for all that I have.
That sounds awesome, the whole thing. Kind of what I want may day to look like more often, just my after work time is a wee bit more hectic with kids.
We moved into the place we live now just late Oct. last year, so I have not set anything up outside. But as soon as the river that is at my backyard goes down I think I will set up an altar down there.
I like your morning and night prayers, I think having those are important. I know when I don’t do mine my day is just not right.
Thanks for sharing that Joahha
Hi James! A river in your backyard – how wonderful. Sounds like a true spirit of place, of change and impermanence, of life and death…
Indeed, I find morning and evening prayers very grounding, as they remind me to stop, to breathe, to connect. x