Friday, 28 March 2014

Before anything else

This is how my day starts now. Even before I grab a cup of tea, it's boots on and out. Journalling is still an option for rainy days when walks are short but honestly, given the choice, I'll be out there with the dew, the rising sun, the birdsong, the hares (who are so not morning people that you can walk right up to them before they think," this where I run?" and disappear in a flurry of fur), the space and the slowness. I like the slowness.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014


'Someone' found this enormously amusing. #carrotnotstick

carrot not stick

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Loud and clear

Druid Animal Oracle

Instead of sitting down and writing this morning I felt the need to draw some cards. I use them only rarely and my favourite deck is the Druid Animal Oracle. I chose three cards: the present situation, what I can do to move forward, and the possibilities if I do. The result was as accurate as any reading I've ever done or received so choosing to sit with this to start the day turned out to be a very good idea. I am listening.

Druid Animal Oracle

Monday, 24 March 2014

On the wind

At the end of summer there comes a time when the wind changes. I can be out walking and there it is. Suddenly an old soul of a breeze blows through and around me and I know it is the breath of approaching autumn. There is wisdom in and a sated feel to it. It has seen many things, been many places and is ready to sit for a while and enjoy the memories.

This morning as I was out before breakfast a different breeze arrived. It was cold and fresh like a glass of cool water and just as quenching. It was spring's breath; full of youth and possibility, new ideas and energy. It was eager to keep moving. Beautiful and thrilling as a young foal.

We are the real countries, not the boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you'll come and carry me out into the palace of winds—that's all I've wanted, to walk in such a place with you, with friends: an earth without maps.

~ Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Monday, 17 March 2014

Back to it

I don't know about you but adjusting to a new season can be a bumpy ride for me, and this one has been a bit that way. That's not to say I'm not loving the lighter mornings and the (temporary?) abatement of The Deluge. The blossoms and shoots and joyful dawn chorus put Spring in my step that's for sure, but I lost my focus. The month I spent away from social media, and sticking to a practice of starting the day in silence, with a notebook, pen and dogs, brought me a clarity and confidence in my own voice that I haven't experienced before. Then it all went topsy turvy. The mornings got lighter so I stayed out longer enjoying the sunrise and the morning air, which meant coming back straight into packed lunches and breakfasts. I felt good about my plans for the future so I stopped journalling - just as stupid as stopping taking vitamin tablets because you feel so much better (yes I always do that). I went back to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook to varying degrees and suddenly my head was full of Other People's Stuff. I don't hate that - after all I like social media because it lets me know how my friends are and what work the people I admire are doing (many fall into both categories of course). I'm interested in other people and I love having a window on things they want to share but it fills up my brain. My bad. I don't spend hours a day refreshing social media apps or thinking about Ms X's awesome new role and Mr Y's dog's cute face but it just takes up space that I need for my own creativity.

I'm taking a step back from social media again until I can learn how to just check in once a day. This morning I set my alarm back 15 minutes in preparation for returning to my 5am rising. A couple of weeks and I'll be there. After our walk I lit my candle, opened a notebook (I found a new one of my very favourites) and wrote. Immediately the feeling of mental stagnation cleared. I need a structure and self-discipline and with them I thrive - they make me immensely strong. I've avoided them my whole life and only just discovered that why I can't have nice things. Who knew?

You might notice I've added a thingy to the sidebar here. I wanted a way to write proper notes to people. Share some little pieces of magic and light that don't always find their way into blog posts. It could be fun. And MailChimp is a whole new neural pathway for this monkey.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Perhaps the Old is the new New

I have been preoccupied with thoughts about place and heritage and Ye Olde Ways. As I've been moved by the voices and spirits of this place, this earth, I've been taking more generalised, 'core' philosophies and translating them into my spirit's native tongue. This has been and continues to be a profound experience and more enriching then I'd imagined it would be but one thing is clear: I am not comfortable with historical re-enactment.

Despite the fact that it turns out I stand willingly in the land of druidry and pagan ways, I'm not ever going to be the sort of person who dons a long velvet gown, changes my name to Morgana and weaves ivy into my hair. I love that there are people who do that and am grateful they are there, but I'm not one of them. I've been feeling strongly pulled to find a way to bring the voices of the land and those who live on it - be it rural, urban or neither - to the here and now. We need to listen to and learn from them more than ever. They are as strong and relevant as ever, we just forget - at huge cost - to listen.

This winter has been, as I've said before, a very different experience for me because I just went with it. I listened in the dark, rested, dreamed and prepared and I was rewarded with a new vision and a deeper connection. As spring arrives with light, growth and an urge to build, I want to bring what I've learned into my daily life. A life here in 2014 with cars and computers and, for me, a day job, school runs and homework, bank statements and all the stuff we've constructed to make our life easier but which actually sometimes makes it harder. I want to find a way to share what I'm learning in a way that fits. These things are timeless and eternal. They belong here and now. I don't want to have to pretend to be living in some other age, I like this one. I believe in this one. I feel these spirits and their power here and now.

So I've been trying to carve out space in which to sit and think and feel my way to hearing how the sacred sounds to me in 2014. I've asked for hints and ideas, and received some too. But nothing as clear, ironically, as the fog that descended over our home this last couple of days. I mean, it's all well and good trying to avoid fairy tale romanticism but then, sitting in my car on the way back from dropping Evie at school, 110 yards from my door, I find myself looking at this through my windscreen. And suddenly fairy tale romanticism is very much a part of the here and now. To be continued..

Saturday, 1 March 2014


I went and sat in a tree. It's been a hectic couple of weeks of half term school holidays, this, that, the other. All of it sending my brain into a spin. So I sat in a tree.

As a child I spent many of my happiest hours at the top of an apple tree in our garden. it was small, so was I, and the branches were perfectly configured as a fairy queen's throne or a cavewoman's watch post. I know but I was into cave people. Even then. And one of them needed to watch for mammoths who may or may not have looked quite like a small black Labrador.

The wettest winter since records began has not been kind to our trees here. Those that stand along the sides of the streams have had their roots submerged for too long and then, when the gales came, they couldn't all stay upright. I found a beautiful ash, tipped over into the field, her roots still in the ground so she is still alive, but she will never stand again. I'm hoping that the farmer and the estate manager decide to let her stay there to provide shelter for the sheep who'll be back soon but I don't think it probable. She's more likely to be chopped up for firewood.

For two weeks I just stood and talked to her as I passed each day. It seemed disrespectful to start poking around. I took photographs but it felt intrusive. And then, this day, it felt okay to climb in.

I sat in the branches that not so long ago had been 25 feet in the air. It's not often that chance comes along. I looked at the beautiful lichen, the moss and the ivy she wears like a robe. The scratch marks from squirrels' claws and birds' beaks. Around us on the ground lay broken branches, some stabbed into the ground by the impact. She is wounded, but rooted.

The child who sat in her mammoth-watching seat was already fascinated by trees. I remember standing and looking at the ones in our garden - not huge but they seemed big to an eight year old - and thinking how amazing it was that they exist underground in a mirror of their lives in the air. That they are balanced. I thought about how humans are somehow 'snapped off' and that disconnection from our source, our nourishment, was the price we'd paid for physical freedom. And yet, we aren't free, I thought. Birds are free (I added a cautionary note about cats as I recall). Humans are not as rooted as trees and not as as free as birds. The existential angst of a nature-loving child. Ha. I was a weird kid sometimes.

Decades on and I'm more upbeat about the human condition. I learned a long time ago that roots and wings aren't necessarily physical things. I know how to sit and extend myself down into the earth and feel the damp, cool richness of it. Hear the life there. I know how to sit and lift myself into the sky by hitching a ride with a buzzard to see the world below from a distance that brings peace and perspective. Humans, when we remember, are so woven into It All that there is nothing closed to us. Just as we are closed to nothing.