Note from Locksley2010: Ironically, I wrote this before the UK went into lock down and set it to publish automatically. Where ever you are, dear reader, stay safe! Tues 23rd March, 08:12 GMT
This was supposed to be a post talking about the renewal of spring. It still is in a sense, but considering what’s going on in the world right now, I thought I’d share what I learned from the little walk I did and how it may help these times of ours.
I was in town (before the full seriousness of Social Distancing was recognised by HM Government) and was thinking about everything I needed to do. It was a warmish and sunny day, so I walked through the Arboretum and visited Young Birch.
As I stood there, breathing slowly and being still, I saw movement amongst the daffodils: worker bees doing their thing! I also saw a Mr & Mrs Blackbird looking for things, food, I’d imagine. I tried to get a photo of them, but they weren’t having it.
I gained a sense of calm from these beings and learned the following lessons from them and how they can help us….
Birch:Be calm and be flexible. Through stillness we can collect our thoughts and gain perspective. Things might not be as we wish, but we can reorganise and plan around what outcomes may come forward. If the birch can venture into new territories to grow, so can we. If you are in Self Isolation, see if you can take the time to learn a new skill or language.
Bee:Be patient. There are certain things we can only do when the conditions are right. And when the opportunity presents itself: get it done. The hive of the bee is an entity in its own self, each part serving for the whole as well as helping others (pollenation). Like the bee, we must do what must be done when the time is right. This might involve social distancing or waiting until we can pick up the pieces again. If able, help others: even if it’s just communicating with them or doing something for them.
Blackbird:Keep active. These guys work and stay in the UK all year round, through all the seasons. For those off work, it’s important to keep yourself busy. Not only for getting things done, but for your mental health too. Get yourself organised, see what needs doing and if necessary: learn how to get them done; or do that thing you always wanted to but never got around to doing.
Friday the 20th was the Spring Equinox, the time of balance and everything beginning anew. Right now, things have gone a bit topsy-turvy. See if you can turn this time of chaos into some kind of benefit for you and others. Don’t panic and remember:
Another one inspired by being out doors! Seriously, being out in the world is the best way to connect with it and give you something to write about. When you’re someone whose as much as a book-thinker and over-thinker as I am, I’m now all for accepting the experience of things….. I believe that’s what’s called…. adventure! This originally took place on Tuesday 18th February 2020.
Inspired by this morning’s conversation with Devi about getting out of the house, I decided to go for a walk about town and the Arboretum. Well, as far as I can physically go, I did take regular breaks as I’m still recovering from my hernia operation.
As soon as I got off the bus, I was approached by two Christians from the church up the road. Two friendly lads called George and Miles. They asked if I had anything they could pray for. My response: “There’s nothing to pray for directly for me, but if you could pray for people to think rightly about climate change, that would be awesome“. They seemed very pleased with that and invited me for tea at the church whenever I liked. I didn’t see the point in telling them I wasn’t Christian, I figured that if prayer could help inspire people in doing what they could with the crisis, then I might as well steer the Church-goers in that direction.
After a nice sojourn around the Arboretum, I found beauty in the young birch, and was impressed it was still standing after the storms, an older tree wasn’t so lucky and another young tree is now growing diagonally, almost horizontally. Young birch was very pleased for company and its spirit told me of the winds.
The sign regarding kindness is from the cafe Fox Talbot’s, here in Nottingham. The cafe is a place that is both welcoming and has a relaxed and kind atmosphere, especially when I went to close the door (twice) and ended up opening it for two older ladies as they came in. The timing was impeccable.
Sometimes, all you need is fresh air, beauty in the world and spreading kindness.
I’ll be aiming to publish my blogs on the New Moon now, as it feels right to do so.
I will confess that I was struggling to think of a subject to write about. As usual, nature provided the answer!
As I looked out of the kitchen window to see frost upon the ground and the sun ascend the sky, I was happy. The cycles of nature and our seasons here in the UK are temperamental at best; we’ve had a warm winter so far here in the Midlands and very few frosty days. Every time I see the Christmas cards come out for December, I see the images of snow and ice and think: Was it ever like that, or is it what we expect? Winter here doesn’t normally bite until January/February. I recall having to stay at my previous boss’ house around this time in 2018, the snow was bad enough to cancel the buses from Derby back to Nottingham. I remember that because we don’t often get snow.
And so far, we’ve had a few frosts, but nothing permanent. I made my annual FB comment for Imbolc, using the snowdrops as a metaphor for seeing light in the dark, as well as heralding the ending of Winter, and just a way of getting people to appreciate the world around them. I also commented about how they had awoken early by at least a fortnight.
And there in lies the trap of expectation.
In modern Paganism and in Druidry, we have the festival of Imbolc on the First of February, as this is how it was worked out in accordance to our Gregorian Calendar for when La Fheile Bride (The Festival of Brighid) took place in Ireland. Similarly to Christmas, Imbolc has the conjured imagery of snowdrops growing around this date. It turns out snowdrops (aka Galanthus) flower anytime between January and March.
So, my innocuous FB post was in fact wrong. The snow drops grew exactly when they should, the fact we hardly had any snow this winter probably allowed them to have more light, and if their flowering time begins in January, then they are well within in season.
If we are serious about living with nature and being part of it (and no, I’m not saying we should give up having material possessions and eat only berries and wear tie-dye) then we ought to pay attention to the seasons around us more carefully in what grows, what dies, what migrates and what returns. If I am observant enough to know the idea of a “White Christmas” is now a myth, then I am observant enough to look out for the snowdrops being the signifier that the ending of winter approaches. And that these changes of the seasons do not conform to our dates.
Written Thursday 6th February, 4th Waxing Gibbous- ♋.
Breaking my usual tradition of drawing my annual Druid Animal Oracle Card for the New Year, I felt the pull to draw out the card for my focus in 2020 on the Midwinter Solstice instead.
For 2019, I had drawn the card of the Fire Dragon where it focused on the points of:
Definitely a big one this year as I have both transmuted and transformed in more than a few ways! I had come back to working in Nottingham after the opening of our new store there. As much as I enjoyed working in Derby, it was finally a relief to not get up at the crack of dawn for two bus journeys then be home for 8pm. This also enabled me to go off my own knowledge and gain full confidence in my working self, especially after helping develop a new team.
More importantly, I moved in with Devi and so we are living our lives together, cats and all. Living in a forever house is very different than living in rented home, and I’ve had some growing up to do. This has taught me a lot about priorities in the difference of what must be done and what is desired.
My acting has changed too, it’s not a priority in my life at the moment, although I have plans to take on storytelling again. I haven’t stopped acting because 2019 had it’s projects, its just I’m not actively hunting with it.
My divorce came through this year too. That chapter in my life is now officially closed.
As well as learning about prioritising, I had more get-up-and-go with my Ovate course. Still in the single digits of the Gwers, I have already learned much about myself and have become more settled in who I am. By exploring the forest, I have become more grounded; I’d say my Devi has had a hand in that too.
I don’t think I have mastered anything this past year, but I have taken my Druidry a lot more seriously in:
Creating the Robin Hood Moot here in Nottingham. Nothing to do with seeing Robin as a woodland deity, more named after his statue next to the castle which is where we hold our open public ceremonies.
And I even performed my first hand-fasting!
In short, I have become a lot more responsible and have even learned something about myself: I am the cause of my own anger a lot of the time.
As mentioned before in previous posts, I am an impatient being and am true to being a fire sign. There are many who know me as being kind and patient, there are a few who have even described me as wise. But I will fly off the handle at the slightest provocation of my patience being tested. The second a machine doesn’t perform as it should, my inner petulant child comes out yelling in full Anglo-Saxon (in other words, effing and blinding). And I get defensive when people ask why I’m doing something a certain, unnecessarily complicated way. This past week, I realised this comes from anger at my own self. That customer who said that passive-aggressive comment? I probably should have made it clear I was walking away to show them something. That computer program which doesn’t work as fast as I want it to? Did I press the wrong buttons again. My boss and my girlfriend asking why I’m doing something a certain way and I snap at them? It’s because I put myself under pressure to get it right the first time. Then there’s the imaginary arguments with people I have in my head…. why am I doing this to myself? Stop, chill and let go….
…..which is exactly what my hernia has taught me. Yep, I presently have a hernia. An Inguinal Hernia to be precise. It’s a weakening in the abdominal wall that causes my intestines to slip into my groin. On a good day, it’s manageable as long as I don’t walk fast (I used to power walk everywhere, taking pride in getting to places by foot quicker than the predicted time) and avoid lifting (I used to enjoy carrying heavy loads, probably how I got it in the first place). On a bad day, it’s like having a constant stomach ache and the strange sensation of my guts being both heavy and feeling “pulled” down. I have to sit until I feel right again.
It’s ok, I got word recently that my operation will be at the end of January.
And it’s taught me the value of stopping. Which is a big step for one who, such as I, is used to doing a million things all at once until I burn myself out. Remember my friend, Artemis? When we were housemates, she always said it would take being hospital ridden for me to stop. And she was right.
The hernia has taught me to slow down in my life, to know when to stop, to delegate and to ask for help. It has also taught me to find being useful in other ways just because I can’t get physically stuck in.
Really, I have learned to master my energies as well as transmute into something better.
2020: Boar (Reversed)
As soon as I flipped the card over after the sun had gone down on the Midwinter Solstice, I knew he was there. He made himself apparent when Devi and I spent a few days in Scotland and we tried out Kintyre gin from Beinn an Tuirc (Hill of the Wild Boar- the pic for the distillery is on my beanie!). I felt I’d see the Boar and there was apprehension at it being reversed.
The description of the card speaks of entering a breakdown, of allowing something deeper to enter my life after the storm has hit, I’m paraphrasing of course. It also speaks of the fool and that what might seem like madness actually denotes wisdom.
Whatever comes, I intend to meet it dead on with learning from the positive lessons of the card: Leadership, Warrior Spirit and Direction.
In Celtic Mythology, the Boar is a destructive force that must be faced and leaves destruction in its wake. For those who manage to stop it, kill it or even direct it (for if you can’t prevent an unstoppable force, I guess you either direct it or ride it out) they take it’s symbol denoting great strength.
At the Winter Solstice of 2020, I’ll let you know how it went.
As Winter becomes stronger, as the air becomes cooler and the leaves of the leaves have left their branches empty and skeletal. I find my thoughts reflecting on the season.
On the themes of light and dark, naturally.
I actually find it interesting that our first assumptions upon both “light” and “Dark” in the modern Western world fall into “Good” and “Evil”. This is most likely an influence from Christianity, although there are parallels with Gallic Mat and Anm meaning “Good” and not good and were both used to describe the 62 months from the Calendar of Coligny (The only reliable record on how the Celts measured time we have) into which were good or not. If I understand correctly, each month consisted of 29/30 nights and was divided into a ‘bright’ half and a ‘dark half’. Nothing sinister, mind you, this was based on the halves of the moon. But I digress, and will update this post when my understanding of the Calendar of Coligny increases.
The practical versions of this point of view are obvious: The light half of the year is the warmer months, where more produce can grow, the animals follow their mating cycles (providing numbers for meat, tallow and leather) and the longer days allow for longer working hours…. although I can imagine that was met with mixed reactions. And the darker half allowed for harvesting, slaughter for Winter provisions and shorter working days, again met with mixed reactions. Either way, both extreme versions could prove disastrous: The Sun could bring drought, forest fires, famine. The freezing temperatures could bring hypothermia, diseases, death for those without stores for Winter as well as hardship.
Like nature, magic (are they not the same thing?) is neither good nor evil. Both can be beneficial and both can be destructive.
Both light and dark certainly have their benefits and drawbacks:
Light can reveal what was unseen or hidden. It can provide security and warmth. It can also provide good humour and positivity. But too much light can leave one feeling exposed, keep us awake when we should sleep. We can be blinded and even a refusal to accept harsh truths that must be met.
Likewise, the dark can provide cover for unseen deeds, it can provoke the “fight or flight” responses. It can be depressing to awaken to, go to work and come home in. It can feed our fears and open us up to despair. But it can also bring rest, comfort, coolness and stillness. It can provide cover for us when we feel vulnerable or wanting to retreat. And once you get past all the pre-made associations about the dark, it really isn’t that scary. There are animals, insects, birds and fish that live in it quite well.
I, myself prefer the times of dawn and dusk. Especially in the evening twilight when the sun has just gone down and the sky is a mixture of gold, bronze, baby blue fading into teal, indigo then black. When there is enough dark to see the first stars and enough light to give that excitement when I can feel magic in the air.
Light and dark are a cycle of continuity, how do you work with them? Do they affect you in different ways? Do you agree with the Modern Pagan view of Summer being a time of life and Winter a time of rest? Or do both seasons simply mean you crack on working regardless? The only difference being temperature, light and whether you’ll be dry or wet?