On a Moonlit Night…
A full moon and the spring equinox not two days apart; the energies leave me reeling, literally. My head has been pounding for two days straight, and I just can’t wait for the tides to turn and for the energy to subside, to slide into the more gentle flow rather than being a gushing torrent of turbulence. The light is too bright, sounds are too loud and everything is just too much. But I know it will change. Things always change.
It’s Friday night and I climb into the car and drive down to the beach. Over the farmer’s fields I can see the moon rising, huge and pink in a clear sky. My head has cleared, for the time being – the painkillers have set in. I am excited as I drive down the winding road, alert for owls and hares.
When I get to the car park there are only two other cars there, one leaving. I grab my bag and my drum and make my way across the shingle beach. I haven’t checked the tides, so I don’t know what awaits me or where the shoreline will be tonight. In the last of the evening light I can make out a figure walking in the distance to my right, and a fishing tent with a man moving about it to my left. As the stones of the shingle roll and crunch under my feet, I am glad for the noise, because it means no one can sneak up on me. These are things a woman alone at night usually considers.
As I reach the ridge of the high tide line, I see below me a beach that is not usually there. The tide is right out, and a long peninsula of shingle stretches out into the sea. I have walked on this shingle spit many times, out into the ocean but never have I seen it stretch so far out. My heart beats faster, as I know this will be a very special night.
I slide down the shingle bank, smooth stones rolling about my boots. The fisherman looks on, probably a little puzzled, but I can’t see his face in the growing dark. I reach a sandy beach, which in this area is a rarity. It’s only a small section, and I walk cautiously across it, because what looks like sand in this part of the world can also be mud, which acts like quicksand and to which many a day-tripper has lost their rubber boots as they scamper unwarily across the surface.
I cross the sand and reach the shingle spit. Walking down it, I raise my eyes to the moon now, and am stopped in my tracks. From where I stand, the spit of shingle stretches out into the sea, marking a pathway straight to the moon. It is incredible, and I am utterly enchanted. I want to walk that road, straight off the shingle spit and out into the waves until I reach the moon.
My senses come back to me, and I make my way down the long peninsula of rolling rocks, the waves lapping at either side of me. It’s exciting, being here, where only one set of footprints shows from a previous adventurer on this night. I walk out a little further, almost to the tip of the shingle spit, but not quite. I’ve never walked out this far before, and I don’t know what the tide will be doing. I have a feeling it’s just turning now, and I don’t want to be caught out. So, 50 yards from the end, I stand.
I am betwixt and between. I am in a place that is not a place, in a time that is not a time. I am utterly between the worlds. I am not on land and I am not at sea. I am surrounded by water with boots firmly on smooth pebbles that roll in and out with the waves. The dark night sky above me is shot through with stars, and the full moon of the spring equinox is rising before me. What a time to be alive.
I take out my drum and start to work with the rhythm of the North Sea. I feel her flowing around me, singing her songs of ebb and flow, of her story of how she came into being. Standing as far out as I am, I understand how the land bridge used to work that carried our ancient Stone Age ancestors across from Europe to this land, before it was cut off by the water. It is still a shallow sea, muddy and roiling and constantly changing, hiding its mysteries beneath the waves.
I drum and sway with the tide. I can see that yes indeed, it is turning. It is now coming in, and I will have to keep my wits about me even as I tumble into ecstasy. My witch blood pounds in my veins, my wild heart soars with the stars above. I call out the goddesses in my life, singing their names, chanting and letting whatever comes to express itself on this night. The wind takes my words and songs away, a gift offered freely to this awesome night. I feel so alive, so utterly free and yet spellbound by the moment. I am the stars in the sky, the moon before me, the waves around me. I am utterly connected, yet without any visible strands that keep me pinned down to just one awareness. This is so exhilarating, so wild, so free. This is pure magic.
I stop drumming and singing and open my arms wide to the sky, drinking it all it. The Fair Folk are all around me, playing in the waves, brushing against my cold skin. I can hear them whispering, feel their light touch upon my hair. Strange sounds are all around me, and I am frightened and not frightened at the same time. This is wyrd.
I am witch. I am a druid. I am one who walks between the worlds. This is who I am.
This is my Friday night.
I have been to many liminal places many different times, but not like this. This is special. I know that my heart will start to beat a little faster just remembering this night.
My ears are cold. I lower my arms and look around, noticing the tide coming in more and more, for that is what it does, without complaint, without effort, without coercion. I must be more like the tide, I think, as I put my drum away. I say my farewells to the place and all who are with me at the moment, and take a last look at the moon. The pathway to her is now under water, hidden beneath the shining surface of Mardöll, obscured by the grace of Nehalennia, taken with the great mystery. It is time to go.
I make my way back up the shingle spit, narrower than before. The fisherman is still there, and I wonder if my chanting, singing and cries were hear by him or whether they were scooped up by the sea there and then. I scramble up the steep shingle bank from the beach, almost twice my height. I sit for a moment at the top, looking at the little bay that has been created by the ever-shifting of the shingle. Each time I come here it is different; a bay disappears or suddenly appears elsewhere, a lagoon shines in the light, a seal swims close to the shore, geese fly overhead to the marshes, a cormorant makes its way home. Each time it is different. Each time it is magical.
I crunch my way back to the car. As I drive down the winding road, watching out for owls and hares, my headache comes rushing back, pounding in my temples. It lasts for two more days, until the equinox shifts the energies, and finally I am released from the swell. I can breathe in the spring sunshine, the daffodils in my garden bobbing their heads in the warmth, the robin singing, the bees beginning to make their rounds. It’s as if the earth has held its breath, and now it is released.
These changing tides are hard on the old body, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I smell the green grass and moss beneath me, and revel in the blue sky overhead. I give heartfelt thanks for my many blessings, and say a prayer for peace under the late March sunshine.
New video: The Goddess in Witchcraft
The extreme winds we’ve had for the last few weeks have made it very difficult to film outdoors, especially here on the coast. So I made a new video this week, using footage filmed from last year. I hope you like it!
Beltane Full Moon Ritual
Join me as I set up and perform my ritual for the Beltane full moon, 2020. 🙂
Another Short Film…
The moon has always held a special fascination for me. Everything seems magical under the silvery moonlight. Here is where the magic happens.
Book Review: The Mythic Moons of Avalon by Jhenah Telyndru
Jhenah Telyndru, founder of the Sisterhood of Avalon with an MA in Celtic studies, has just released the follow-up to her wonderful and empowering book, Avalon Within. Avalon Within frames a system of healing and empowerment for women everywhere, who feel called to the wisdom and lore of the mythical isle. With this new release, The Mythic Moons of Avalon, we go even deeper, forging a path of personal sovereignty through the tides of the moon, working with herbs and the goddesses of the Avalonian tradition.
Telyndru weaves a tapestry of incredible beauty, full of lore and history, tradition and inspiration. Whereas in Avalon Within, we find the Cycle of Healing, here we find the Cycle of Revealing, the next step on the path towards sovereignty of the self. Here is the path that no one can walk for you; instead, Telyndru provides signposts along the way to help us remember and reclaim the old lore of the Celtic Britons to weave into our lives for the modern day. She has created an entire system that one can follow that is whole and complete in and of itself, and which can be richly rewarding for anyone who feels the call to Avalon. Here is the knowledge, and it is what you do with it that matters more than anything.
Here we can build bridges to connect with the divine, learn from plant allies and explore herbal energies, and also connect through journeying and pathworking to a realm where real transformation can occur, both on the inner and outer levels. This book is a real treasure, and has been long-awaited by many. Thank you, Jhenah, for your words and wisdom!
Dark Moon Wisdom
Dark Moon Wisdom
You don’t have to shine to be powerful.
Release into the darkness, allow the night to fill your soul.
Find your sovereignty in the darkness.
Face the shadows, name the fears.
Then allow the dark moon to guide you further, deeper within, towards utter integration.
Feel the deep magnetic pull.
You don’t have to shine to be powerful.
© Joanna van der Hoeven
Major milestone: huge love and thank you!!!
Well, May’s sales figures have come in from my publishers, Moon Books, and we have reached a new milestone – over 10,000 copies of my Pagan Portals books sold! (And The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid is still an Amazon No. 1 Bestseller!) I just wanted to thank everyone for their support in my writing, for your lovely emails, your encouraging words, and for being so awesome. May we be the awen!!!
Excerpt from IPagan Druidry
I’ve written an article for a collaborative work with other Moon Books authors which is now in production and will be out in the next few months, working title: IPagan Druidry. The idea of iPagan has now evolved to produce both print and ebooks and is hoped to be expanded into a series featuring volumes on Druidry, Shamanism, Witchcraft and Contemporary Issues at discount prices so that they are readily available to all. Here’s a little taster from my essay, The Promise…
Is my Lady Brighid real? I still don’t know. But I quest a relationship with her in order to understand more, perhaps not in the hopes of having a definitive yes or no answer, but because the journey is one worth taking. Does Brighid think I am real? What is the need behind the question, what is the desire to learn the answer? What are the forces that push and pull us, in our minds, our lives? Are there great directors and orchestrators of movement? What is the meaning of our lives, of life itself? Are we equipped, mentally and physically, to accept a definitive yes or no answer to any of the above?
What is the nature of belief? The root of the word, belief, stems from the late 12c., bileave, which replaced the Old English geleafa meaning “belief or faith,” which itself originated from the West Germanic ga-laubon “to hold dear, esteem, trust”. In this previous sense, believing in something, whether it is a god or a sub-atomic particle has nothing to do with the nature of reality and everything to do with a notion of trust. To whom or what are we going to give our trust? Do we need to place our trust in something in order to have a relationship with it? What are the bounds that we can work with when it comes to trust and relationship? Should we still investigate these past concepts alongside our modern notions in order to gain a wider perspective, or are they simply muddying the waters of clarity?
If we are to truly have a grand adventure in this present moment and in this lifetime then we are going to come across some serious questions that explore the boundaries of reality and nature itself. In our paths as Druids, these questions form a large part of our understanding, and our understanding of just how little we know. Continuing the quest, putting one foot in front of the other, exploring new mindsets keeps us in the flow that is nature. When we are stuck, when we are mired in a concept or belief, we can become stagnant, like water that cannot flow freely. We may, like water, bump against rocks in our journey down to the sea, cascading down great waterfalls of the unknown, slamming against canyon walls of ignorance and dogma, or floating gently and serenely on a tide of peace for however long or short a time. All that we can truly know is that everything is changing from one moment to the next, ourselves with it, and acceptance of a plurality in our worldview is the way to evolve and adapt, to work better with the world and live our lives utterly dedicated to our quest and our Druidry. It is questioning, and questing the awen. When we live our lives in this manner, things will never be dull.
As David Bowie once said, “I don’t know where I am going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring”.
My first book with Moon Books in the Pagan Portals series, this little introductory book shows how to blend Zen Buddhism with Druidry to create a life that is awake and aware to the natural world around us, fully immersed and living life in accordance with the flow.