Monday, May 14, 2007

The robin’s boy

A week ago, a young man of my acquaintance died aged just 21 in his sleep. A courageous and exuberant campaigner, last winter he helped lead a community’s defiant response to the murder of five young women in their town.

Three days after his death, I stood alone in prayer for him beside my rowan tree and felt the touch of someone’s hand on my arm and was comforted. I stroked a goddess shaped (or so it felt to me) pebble as I thought of that young man and asked the goddess in her form as a gruff old she-bear to come and be with him. She cradled him in her big clumsy paws and was solid and strong for his grieving friends and family.

Later, far away in Devon, other friends held a ritual to bring him support in his journey onwards. A robin came to sing, and one friend remembered the young man saying how perhaps the robin might be his totem creature.

Sunday May 13, 2007

The triple Oak

In the Druid tradition, the triple oak is regarded as a gateway between the worlds. Under a lightening grey sky, thirteen of us stood together in a bumpy Devon field. After what seemed like days, the rain had finally ceased. The world around us fresh washed and damp, smelt new and green.

The triple oak tree stood bulbous and mossy before us, skirted with nettles dancing in the breeze. Voices toned together as we held the space. “Aaah-oaw-wenn, Aaah-oaw-wenn”, we sang, the sounds rocking us into another place. And on the edge of my perception, I became aware of movement in the grass, random yet purposeful as though many things were shifting from foot to foot.

In turn each person walked to the oak, touched, looked or climbed into it. Our voices merged and separated, weaving into the constant rhythm of the rooks caw-caw. Somewhere nearby, a hen toddled, meditatively cluck-clucking along with the humans.

I moved forward and climbed onto the tree. Leaning against the middle trunk, I closed my eyes and waited. Behind my eyelids, leaves shifted and shadows moved, green grey and translucent against the grass. The wind rustled the trees and I felt rather than heard the sound. My heart shifted and I caught the bubble of mirth, swallowed it with a tear in the back of my throat. I was confused. Leaning forward to hear better, I caught the smell of damp tree and moss, imperceptibly sour yet dusty, edged with the sweetness of rotting wood and the tangy sharpness of crushed grass.

Letting go of the focus, I breathed deeply and stroked the tree. Carefully, because it was slippery, I climbed down and stood and bowed at the unnamed energy that was both wildly exuberant and yet sorrowful. Stepping away, I tuned back into the call of my companions.

A blackbird weaved his voice with ours. Further away a song thrushpip-pipped and then, cutting across it a robin trilled. I turned and blew him a kiss as he continued to sing cheerfully. The hen waddled nearer, clucking contentedly as we took it in turn to stand at the gateway made by the triple oak’s trunks.

The energy shifted. All who wanted to have visited the gateway. The chant slowly drifted into stillness and, into the silence, a woman’s sobs rose into the space. On a sudden in breath, I felt her pain then breathed as she released her emotion into the gentle loving circle that was the space in which we had worked that afternoon. I felt my hands cup as though to support her, though I was not close enough to touch.

In time she was quiet and we opened the circle. Turning to walk away, I confessed to my companion, “I’m in love with that hen”, pointing in the direction of the quietly clucking little bird still waddling nearby.

Away with the faeries

Outside the house, there were people sitting on the benches laughing. Inside, I heard children shrieking happily and knew that I was not ready for such a rude awakening.

I asked for another tree under which to sit, and a companion led me to a rough old Scot’s Pine. In a pool of sunlight, flanked by nodding nettles, I set my back to its chipped old trunk and let myself drift.

The purposeful little black hen toddled in front of me. Hopping up onto the triple oak’s bulbous main truck; she turned as though to say “come on then, what you waiting for?” I climbed up after her and watched as she scuttled down into the grass beyond.

She turned to face me and I knew that she was wanting me to follow. I climbed down into the green glade to join her.

I was in another world. Gone was the quiet bumpy field. Here, the joint was jumping!

Every blade of grass, every leaf, was in perpetual motion. Everything moved too fast to distinguish what was going on. Oh how I wanted to dance!

And so I did …

“Tea’s up” bellowed someone from across the field. The rough old pine snagged at my jumper. I Shook myself and in my mind, determinedly tried to climb back into the dancing green grove. But it had gone.

Footsteps tramped through the long grass. “Do you want a hand to get to tea?” Asked another helpful camper. Declining, I sighed and breathed and focussed on the green still glade once more.

How transient it had been. That world had gone and I couldn’t get back. Joy melted into pain. It seared through my chest and my eyes stung. I sat and wept painful, painful tears.

Prompted by the memory of the green glade, I touched the green wool on my left wrist and recalled the promise I had made to myself at Beltane. Tempting as it was to be away with the faeries, I had a job to do in the world. My sanctuary was the promise to hold myself in unconditional self-love. The job I had to do in the world needed me to hold that space for myself.

I bowed in thanks to the folks that I knew were all around me here in this bumpy field. Rising, I steadied myself on the solid still trunk and rested my palms against its splintered bark and gave silent thanks to its solidarity. I turned to face the sun and prepared to make my way if a little uncertainly, towards scones and tea.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home