Category Archives: Meditations

Of Lights and Shadows….

Photo from Nohat.cc
Photo from Nohat.cc

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?

Reflections from Alban Hefin 2019

As the light goes out....
As the light goes out….

Alban Hefin “The Light of Summer” is the name aptly used in OBOD for the Summer Solstice. Sometimes Alban Heruin “Light of the Shore” is used, either way, both names are used for the festival of Midsummer and neither are wrong.

This year, the Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere) was on Friday 21st June. I spent the morning walk to work reflecting on the nature of the Solstice and about what I wanted to do in the evening when I got home and how to celebrate midsummer in the garden.

I thought of the things I have achieved this year so far as well as the one stumbling block I just couldn’t think of a way round. Until I decided to take time out and regain my energy. And so, the following came to mind:

Every now and then the Sun, much like life, is obscured by cloud. It might be a short while, or it can be weeks. We might get a patch of sadness or frustration or we can’t see the light to a situation because all we see is the grey around us. Our minds fogged by confusion and fear.

And yet, behind those clouds, like the next day to our night, the Sun still burns. It’s light still shines in the cold universe, it keeps on going.

There is that saying about the darkest hour being just before the dawn, and I think there is truth in that.

In Modern Druidry, there is the maxim of “In light there is darkness, and in darkness, there is light.”

And for a few years after first reading that, I didn’t really get it. Until one night when I saw the first stars come out.

The light you may be seeking might be as brilliant as the Sun, breaking out of the cloud cover and it’s heat clearing the sky. But beware of staring at it for too long!

Or the light you seek may be as soft as the moon, close yet far and reflecting the sunlight to show the way.

Or the light you seek in your darkness could be as faint as the first stars before the night grows dark and even though you can’t see it at first, once it shows itself you can’t un-see it. And that star might be distant and faint, but it’s shine could be brilliant once night sets in.

The point is, that we may have times of cloudiness in our lives, we may have the confusion of fog, or even be lost in the dark. But these are temporary, and the light you are looking for might not be what you were expecting. Sometimes we have to make our own light, make our own way out of the dark. In other situations, we simply have to wait, let our eyes adjust to the dark, or to wait for the cloud to move, the star to show itself, or for the dawn to come.

Whatever your cloud or darkness is, keep shining!

Imbolc 2019- Brigid’s Message.

Originally written on Sunday 3rd February 2019. 7th Waning Crescent, Cap.

The celebration of the returning lighter nights and the coming of Spring is here.

The snowdrops are in bloom amongst the frost; in recent years Winter always seems to bite the hardest in January-February. I must say that this winter has concerned me: It was mild for a long time. That doesn’t feel right…. especially after the abnormally hot Summer we had last year. But of course, the frost and snow did indeed come, and we will have to see if Winter’s cold kiss disappears quickly, or if it stays as long as it did in 2018.

Darkness and tragedy have affected many whom I know this winter. And I thought upon what kind of theme I could have for my Moot’s open ceremony. And then it struck me: enlighten the darkness.

Brigid’s Message

Since my beginnings in Paganism, I had always held a respect for Brigid, she appeared again in my more experienced Pagan years and again at the end of my Bardic Journey a few years ago when she told me:

When faced with the dark, look for the light. If there is none, then make your own“.

It has only been in the past year I truly understand what that means. Or should I say what it means to me. Your interpretation may be different from mine and rightly so.

For me, it means that we make our own light, we make our own way, our own destiny. I spent a lot of my life looking for signs and to be shown the right way that my life was supposed to go in order to fulfil its purpose. I gave my life over to fate. At almost 40, that’s a large portion of my life just….. waiting. And I’m done with that.

As I have written before, in what I call the‘Way of Fire and the Way of Water’, there is a time to wait and it is after you have taken the steps of action in order to make things happen. The gods will show you the directions, but they cannot tell you what to do or how to get there. That is for us to decide and the choices are for us to make. Whether we rise or fall is our responsibility and ours alone. If the gods are indeed ancestors as opposed to creators, then it is because they were seen as the best at what they were in their lifetimes.

The Inner Flame

Here we are, in the last part of the dark half of the year. Soon will come the longer days and the awakening of the plant realm (it already has), Imbolc is a time of creativity and of new beginnings. And so we can look to the light that inspires us; and if you can’t see it, make one. Because the gods aren’t going to do things for you. Allow yourself to follow that calling for something you want to do and want to achieve. It might be a new skill or a new project, whatever it is, let it allow you to shine with the light that you find/make. Allow it to shine out from within, whether it is something you can see or something you have to bring into being yourself.

You might be surprised at what it reveals.

“Fire and Blood”

So, 2019, we meet at last. A new year, a new card drawn for myself at the very beginning of the New Year. And fortunately, the title of this blog isn’t really what the year has in store….. I just used the Targaryen family motto because I thought it was cool! And, y’know, Fire Dragon and all…… I’ll get my coat!

2018 had the card of Owl-reversed (Cailleach Oidhche) the card of Detachment, Change and Wisdom. Although, being reversed, it warns of not seeking detachment as escape, the potential death of something and beginning of another…. And that even though night is here, to look for the approaching dawn.

Detachment: Watching out for not escaping or withdrawing into myself, I made sure I kept in contact with friends, visiting family when possible. I was even approached by the Pagan Community for doing talks for them and rediscovered not only could I do this, but that I also had a respect and welcome within the community I hadn’t realised I had…. I figured my pursuit of acting had estranged me from them. I’m glad to say it hasn’t and that I have a good friend base within the community and have even been asked to perform a handfasting for at least one couple this year! In Nottingham’s acting scene, I got to work with some lovely people and good friends. I proved to myself that I am good enough to come joint second in a monologue competition and that people want to work with me. So no, no shrinking away for me.

Death of one thing….. actually there was quite a few. Artemis and I are no longer housemates, as she went to Lincoln. We atill meet up to play D&D and bug each other on whatsapp now and then. The Grove of the Corieltauvi lost our fellow Druid, Luch Dorcha this year. We lost our friend, but his memory remains and we shall honour him. However, the Grove of the Corieltauvi no longer exists. At least not as it once did….. I have also pushed for the death of my marriage. I applied for divorce at the end of November, my spouse had received, signed and sent off the paperwork. All I’m waiting on now is the Court to get back to work and do their thing. And Artemis lost her father as well, a kind and humorous man. So yes, 2018 was a year of things and people dying…. “Light is born, light dies, in dying there is rebirth, in birth there is dying, so it is, so it always is”……

The Approaching Dawn….. Devi and I celebrated our first year together, we stayed in a Hobbit House at the beginning of the year in North Yorkshire. We don’t get to see each other every day, so we spend as much time together as possible and most importantly, we make each other happy and are looking forward to more years and adventures to come. In my working world, at the end of 2018, I was informed that I’ll be moving to a brand new store in Nottingham, rather than bussing it to Derby and back everyday. This means I get at least one hour back into my day instead of using two to get there and back again. I came into my own at work this year. I know who I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are and I am proud of my current team. I m looking forward to my new adventure with Mr S, who will be my new boss. And I’ll be looking forward to that extra hour for myself too. It will make all the difference….. not to mention more sleep!

2019 – Fire Dragon

Transmutation, Energy, Mastery are the keywords to the Fire Dragon (Draig Teine) card. This card speaks of connecting with the inner flame (something I’m very big on), finding the courage and drive to face life’s challenges as well as focussing one’s energies to overcome obstacles and gain objectives. This is a card less to do with gaining power or going into anything with all guns blazing; and more to do with the lesson I learned: the element is actually about combining will with responsibility. For how can you work with fire if you have no sense of control?

Alban Elfed 2018

Personal ceremony performed on Sunday 23rd September. Moon: 6th Waxing Gibbous (Pisc).

Today had seen me getting down and dirty….. I’d been weeding Devi’s garden and taking today slowly. We were blessed with a warm sun, so we took to working the gardens since noon. At just after 7, I went into the back garden and stood facing the centre. Fig trees and houses to the North, the hedge and distant trees to the East, the plum tree and black lace elderflower bush and distant birch trees to the South, a Mountain Ash with bright red berries to the West. A see of green all around and below me, a sky of pastel blue amid blazing pink and dark grey cloud all above.

The breaths were taken and the circle cast, I called to Fox of the North as Devi had caught foxes playing in the garden at summer.

Once sitting on the grass, I let the Awen take me and began speaking to the gods about summer’s end: the baleful eye of Balor now closed. For the exceedingly hot summer had dried out much of Great Britain’s green to a dried out yellow. Lugh was indeed victorious against Balor, for as July ended and August began, the heat started to decline and the rain came!

Like the last sun of summer, Lugh had led the Tuatha Dè Danaan to a time of peace until they were finally overtaken by a new race, the Milesians. After a last battle with these new people, Lugh and the Tuatha Dè Danaan had agreed to surrender the Isle of Destiny and take refuge in the hills of the land. Their memory remaining thereafter.

I told of Oisin’s return from the Otherworld to find his people and his warrior band, the Fianna, now gone after 300 years when he had spent only 3 years away. Telling his tale to a traveller before he died also, after coming into contact with the land.

I told of Arthur’s fatal wound and how he had asked Percival to return the Sword of Power to the Lady of the Lake. How upon telling Arthur the truth (after the third time, because Percival could not surrender the Sword the previous two times), Percival then saw Arthur being taken by Morgana Le Fae and her maidens on to a boat, carrying him to the Isle of Avalon, where he now supposedly sleeps until he is needed once again.

Things end, the cycle turns and things begin once again. I began to reflect on my own harvest for the year, I gave thanks for:

Gaining my flat.

Devi and I growing closer, for her being in and a part of my life.

My successful entry in the Monologue Jam.

I declared to the gods that I would use the autumn and winter to hone my skills as both actor and Ovate. Finding a way to balance the two.

And then I closed my eyes and listened…… to the wind in the trees and felt the specks of rain falling upon me, the blessings of the season; not a cleansing of renewal, but a cleaning and tidying of sorts.

Without seeking, visions came to mind telling me to say goodbye to the past, that I am safe and a toast to the future……

Upon waking and coming to, the sky had given way to dusk, and the garden’s solar lights had come on, like distant stars on the ground and in thr trees. At the time of recall I looked to the dying sunlight saying:

As the sun goes down, may it’s light and heat remain within my heart….

Alban Elfed, the Light of the Water indeed.

Fire and Water

I’ve been lucky this year. I wasn’t actively seeking acting work after adapting to my new home and making it mine.

But, so far this year, I have been asked to do a storytelling spot for the Keyworth Festival in July, here in Nottinghamshire. I was put into a link conversation via social media for another storytelling gig, this time in Derbyshire. The last was a no go, but I learned to respect my craft enough to put a value to it rather than do it ‘for the love of it’.

I have just finished filming a short film project, the main bulk has already been filmed, and we recently filmed the last scene on Monday, and I got to utilise my make up skills. This will go to making my showreel, so others can see my acting and I can gain more work.

In the Pagan scene, I was asked by a friend of mine to do a talk for one of the local Pagan moots in May, so I revisited the talk subject and will be doing it again for another Pagan meeting later this month!

I was also put in contact with a director who is making an independent series about Druidry in Derbyshire….. we’ll be filming in 2019.

Through my acting circles, one friend contacted me about a mutual friend selling his microphone and interface, knowing I want to start voice acting, he told me about it….. I now own them.

I was even contacted by a theatre company asking if I’d be interested in acting for a university course in the exam held for the students: I learned much about thinking on your feet and improvising on the fly. This also taught me what ‘acting is lying truthfully in imagined circumstances’ is really like. It was awesome, draining but fun.

I have recently become involved in another filming project, involving AI and depression.

I make it sound easy don’t I?

None of these have fallen into my lap, they have all come from work and effort I have put out already.

The Way of Fire

My earlier life as an adult was all about getting things done. NOW. I had the energy, I had the vision and I had the fire to do it. Even if my know-how wasn’t great, I still went ahead. And I had the burning desire to get everything going before my thirties. I envisioned myself as being in Hollywood blockbusters by the time I was 36 as I’d already be ‘doing it’. I had the raging and burning fires of the heart to do everything.

Then I sacrificed it for another dream…. which I wanted to believe was my calling, it wasn’t. But I learned a lot about my genuine self and about life outside the world of performance. Sadly, I had doused my inner fire until I reigniting it years later…. only this time, it wasn’t a blazing bonfire to be seen from miles around, this was a carefully made fire to keep me warm.

After moving into ‘Project Potter‘ I was afraid. I didn’t have the urge to pursue any acting at all. Was I kidding myself? Did I really want this? Why wasn’t I actively doing it? All I had done was ask a couple of actor friends of mine for advice on how to proceed and what is to be done. And that was back in the last weeks of January; Ha! Just writing that bit made me realise….. this was the voice of the fire of my twenties. The voice that had an energy I can no longer keep up with. I am a fiery and impatient person, and I always have been.

However, life in my thirties has taught me a lot that the me in my twenties didn’t know…. such as: you can burn yourself out and make yourself ill. You can’t just jump into making your dream a reality so soon after moving home.

The Way of Water

My friend, Dumbledore, as well as being a Druid, follows the way of Zen. And through the years I have known him, I disagreed with the teaching of “by doing nothing, you are doing something….“. This was anathema to me. My lesson of 2017: “Nothing is accomplished without action” was the result of things I had pushed to happen that year. In fact, in pushing my way back into acting, I made the effort of getting myself out there: I joined an Am-Dram group to get myself back into the swing of things, I took up storytelling, got new headshots done through generous friends of mine (Thank You. All of you), became part of a story telling trio, performed at open Mic nights and events, joined the Actors Workshop to regain and learn new skills, attended networking nights and went for the opportunities presented. Some I got, others I didn’t. On the latter it’s not about what you didn’t succeed in, it’s what did you learn and take away with you? I’ve discovered. I also asked more experienced actors for their advice….. which resulted in me, now owning the equipment for beginning my voice work.

And so, yes, because of the actions in the way of fire, the way of water has now brought me projects to work on and go forward. The way of water is to let things come forward. Even though you may have done something, you might not get the results of that until another time….

In doing nothing, you are doing something“…… or in my case, in doing nothing I have allowed the actions of my past to bring things into my life, now.

Conclusions

It’s not about life owing you a living (those who believe otherwise are kidding themselves), it’s about opportunities arising and you making the choice to take them. By putting the work in you increase the chances of the opportunities to come, and by the time they arrive you make the effort to take them. Feed the energy and keep the momentum going. There is no free ride, it’s all work.