Harvest for the Soul and Coming Home

It’s good to be home. After a couple of weeks visiting my family back in Canada, with yet another heat wave (40C with the humidity!) I can honestly say that I’m grateful to be back in Suffolk. It feels like autumn has arrived here, as it has back in Canada (the day after I left, it turned to a lovely 21C and the leaves beginning their autumnal splendour) and the change in the air is most welcome.

As always, going back to visit my family brings up contemplations of just what “home” really is. I realised that in 3.5 years, I will have lived in the UK for as long as I have lived in Canada. Over twenty years of eating food grown in this land, drinking water from local bore holes and reservoirs, breathing in the air and connecting with the different flora and fauna relative to this place and this time. It really has shaped me, alongside the people I’ve met and the experiences I have had, and I am both grateful and a touch melancholic when reminiscing about all that I have done and gone through in moving to this new land all those years ago.

This is where I made my lifelong dream come true, to be an author. Never did I ever dream about establishing a Druid College, or a belly dance company, or a host of many other turns my life has taken. It’s been a challenge and a blessing, the twists and turns my life has taken, and for which I am both proud and humbled to have come out the other side. England is not the land of Madam George and roses, as Sinead O’Connor once sang, but it is the place that captured my heart, alongside Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

So I return to my home with a renewed sense of place, of home and indeed, of belonging. Even though I will always carry a thread of being an outsider, with my accent alerting people to the fact that I was not born here, still I feel like this place is home. An immigrant to this country, coming from a long line of immigrants to various countries, I feel a shared connection both to my ancestors as well as to the ancestors of place, which here in the UK are so varied from before history even began. I have a few months now to breathe deeply, to take the time to reconnect, now that my new book for Llewellyn has been sent off and revised. For the rest of the year, I will be taking information in, taking in the sensual and the ecstatic, allowing the awen to flow into me after many long months of being on the other end. Allowing myself to reap the harvest sown earlier on. And so the cycle continues, in and out, flowing and ebbing, as I gather my resources ready for a new round of work come the new year. For the next three months, I will be listening to the words and voices of others, allowing their inspiration to fill me, and see where that takes me.

And in the meantime, I shall walk this land, the sandy soil of heath and woodland beneath my feet, the wind blowing in from the sea and scenting the air, the hearthfires burning both in the little village around me and within my soul.

P.S. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover of my new book, coming out next summer!

Hedge Druid Cover

Harvest Blessings

6Blessings of Lammas/Lughnasadh/Gwyl Awst to you. May your harvest be abundant and rewarding, and may we learn from our experience to carry knowledge forward into wisdom.

I have just come back from a four day road-trip with two of my best friends into the heart of the Wiltshire landscape, poking our noses in Somerset to visit Glastonbury and participate in a workshop run by author and activist Starhawk on Sunday as part of the Goddess Conference’s fringe events. To say I am shattered is an understatement; my body has shut down completely, and I am now suffering from a cold as well as my monthly moon-time a week early. When will I ever learn???  Easy does it!

At any rate, it was a magical time, with perhaps the most transformative event being a quiet meditation upon West Kennet Long Barrow. The harvest was in full swing in the landscape all around. Where we came from in Suffolk, the harvest began in early July, as we hadn’t had rain for two months. They were a bit more fortunate down in the south-west, and the harvest timing was more in tune with the Wheel of the Year than over in the East, where everything seems rather disjointed this year.

silbury hillSitting on top of the barrow, I could feel the energy of the land around me, as well as the energy of the ancestors and the barrow itself beneath me. The land’s energy was golden like the sun, flowing and bright. It was a stark contrast to the energy of the barrow, which was dark, cool and quiet. In the landscape, looking out over at Silbury Hill, I could feel the richness of this time of year, and see the ancient priests of the land atop the platform of that great hill, directing the ritual observances for honouring the harvest and the land, beginning at The Sanctuary and flowing all throughout that wonderful temple radiating outwards from Avebury’s henge and circle. Everything was in motion, everything was in full swing.

But beneath me was the silence of death, of deep stillness and quiet. Despite the bus load of tourists that had come and gone while I was meditating, I could still feel that deep sense of rest beneath me. I made my way down and into the barrow itself, stopping at the entrance to honour the ancestors. Deep within the barrow, in the furthest accessible chamber, I stood, honouring the silence of death.

But then the sounds of life came from the entrance, as baby birds chirped in their nest upon the arrival of their parents. Two families of swallows were nesting just above the entrance-way to the tomb, and the cycle of life and death seemed complete, and ever entwined, like beautiful Celtic knotwork or the spirals of the triskele seen upon so many of the neolithic and megalithic structures that abound in these British Isles.

We had just come from Swallowhead Spring, where it was a trickle in the dry landscape. Watercress choked the river Kennet, and the spring itself was dry.

We later moved to The Sanctuary, to experience this wonderful temple. It was like travelling back in time. We also visited the so-called “Moon Temple” that has been discussed in recent editions of Pagan Dawn magazine by geomancer Terence Mead. Sadly, we were unable to actually get close to the temple, as the farmer has moved all his cows, calves and a great big bull into that square kilometre where much of the temple lies. Shame, as we had walked miles and miles to get to it!

At Avebury we planned to hold a small ritual, just the three of us, during the lunar eclipse. We found a quiet corner, well, quiet for a minute or two before an old man tottered towards us as we had begun! It was all very odd, as he came near and then rolled out a blanket to sit upon, and made as if he was going to have a little nap. He stayed for a few minutes, then packed up again and made his way back the way that he had come. All very odd! We wondered if he was really real, and perhaps was, in fact, a spirit of place come to visit…

The eclipse was hidden behind fast moving clouds, and it seemed like the Wild Hunt was out riding early. The main part of the circle and henge had an air of a festival about it, so we kept to the quiet fringes and away from any crowds. As the wind picked up and our tired limbs grew heavy and cold, we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.

All in all, it was an interesting trip, deep in the heart of such a sacred landscape. But is has also made me very aware of my own landscape, and how sacred it is to me personally. I won’t be heading back that way for some time now, for I found myself missing my land, my locality, more and more as each day passed. The long six-hour drive home was taxing, and I am so grateful now just to be home, still buzzing from the experience at West Kennet, but rooting my feet firmly into the sandy heathland soil of home.

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Lucid dreaming

sleep flyingLately I’ve been getting pretty good at flying.

Once a month, or every couple of months, I have a flying dream. Lately they’ve been intentional, as just before I fall asleep, or when I awaken into another sleeping pattern in the middle of the night or early morning, I say to myself “I really fancy another flying dream”. Starting to take control of your dreams is often termed “lucid dreaming”, usually best experienced in lighter stages of sleep than in deep or exhausted sleep. I’ve done this various times, to turn around dreams that have gotten out of hand, situations that are getting ugly, and lately in order to experience true joy and freedom.

My last flying dream a couple of days ago was very interesting. In the previous flying dream, I restricted myself to an abandoned house that my sister was going to buy, so that I could practice flying without anyone knowing. For some reason, it was important to keep this a secret, and not let anyone know of my special power. In the latest dream, I took it outside, and didn’t really care who saw me flying around. It was freedom in every sense.

Feeling a bit homesick, I decided to go and visit my childhood home in flight mode, and then I was flying up my parents’ street, seeing the house and the hills and miles of forest behind. I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool to see my hills and forest from the air? I’ve never seen them from that vantage point. It would be great to see home from a bird’s eye view.” I swooped past the house and rose up high into the air, past the ridge letting the vast expanse opened out before me.

Only it wasn’t home. Or at least, it wasn’t the home of my childhood.

Spreading out before me was the gently rolling hills, fields, hedgerows and landscape of England. I shook my head and went back down for another swoosh up, telling myself that this time I would see home. Again, the same thing happened.

I slowly came out of the dream, exhilarated by all that flying. But I pondered the meaning of my semi-lucid state. I wasn’t able to see what I wanted to see. Or was I?

I have lived in Britain for over 15 years now. This dream has confirmed that this is my home now. While a large part of me will always remain in the hills and valleys, rivers and lakes of my home where I grew up, this is where I do my work, live my life, work with the ancestors and the gods. It was a beautiful affirmation of home, and freedom.

In what I suppose became a semi-lucid state, my sub-conscious helped me to realise and take to heart something that I had only considered in my head. Now I was able to feel it wholly, truly, in my entire being. I feel lucky and blessed.

May you all fly free!

 

Welcome Home – Soul Retrieval Part 3

IMG_1505 (800x600) (2)The final piece awaited, locked within myself and held in trust by an old friend.  I had found those fragments of my soul through a two week exploration, being in the beauty of my ancestral home and surrounded by family.  It had been a lot easier than I had anticipated – perhaps it had something to do with being home, physically home in a place that meant so much to me. At any rate, it was the right choice to make, to follow this path of soul retrieval and finding the essential self on my own, instead of following the “traditional” shamanic route.  I am more comfortable with my own tradition – to each their own on this gorgeous journey of life.

The fourteen year old girl who hid away because she was bullied and found sanctuary with the horses in the valley – all I had to do was stand at the valley edge, where I could see her, extend my hand and watch her turn to me, smile, and extend hers – across the valley she flew back into me.  The 24 year old woman, who was about to leave Canada for the first time with her new husband, once again leaving behind everything she knew to face the unknown, and who did not want to come with me, choosing instead to remain on that path that she walked every day as she waited for the visa clearance – she was equally easy to find.  On a hot, humid evening I found her as I walked down that same path, and she walked towards me and straight into me, my heart feeling full as I told her that everything turned out okay, that there was nothing to fear. She settled at once within me and I felt both heavier and lighter at the same time, my heart a little fuller.  I now just needed one more piece to make the puzzle complete.

And so we went to the power spot, where the river met the lake, in the late afternoon sunshine.  In the sand on the beach, I drew a circle around me, reinforcing the nature of the cyclical, the sacredness of the world, the fact that there is no beginning and no end.  I made my prayers to the spirits of place, the four quarters of the world and the ancestors.  I sat down and made clear my intention, and then my friend joined me to help.

He reminded me of that part of myself that I felt I had left behind, that I had trouble reaching lately. He described, in detail, aspects of her that I had forgotten completely. Seeing myself reflected through his eyes, she came back to life.  Being with someone who knew me so deeply was not only a comfort, but he was also my guide back to her. And in doing so, he surprised himself by finding a part of his own soul that he had nearly forgotten.

With open arms I welcomed her back. We hugged each other with tears in our eyes as we both remembered our essential selves, and honoured the beauty and sacredness of the moment, this life, this world.

Welcome home.