A Journey With Blackbirdowl

Sunday, March 21, 2010

40 Adieu sweet birds

Sunday march 21, 2010:

Come spinning wind
Blown on a soft flurry of wings,
Scirring in an arch of ascent
Your cool breath on sleep-warmed skin,

Come dancing bright one,
Fingers of golden sunlight
Reaching through the latticework of branches
Warm my face with your touch,

Come moist droplets,
The rain damped leaf,
Washed by the night’s drizzle,
Lie coolly against my bare neck.

Come soft quiet earth,
Winter softened wood,
Frost cracked stones
Lie life stirring beneath me.

And the birds spiral
Between earth and sky
Above and below,
Touching, connecting all
Welcome all.

A year is up. For eight festivals now I have walked this earth with the birds. I call them all to me now as I sit amongst the wet leaves of the castor oil plant at dawn on the morning after the Equinox.

“Come ducks and geese”, I say. The wind brings me their call upon the breeze from nearby Finsbury Park.

Come sweet silent swan, I breathe as she swims silently and elegantly into my mind.

Come pigeon, bowing and strutting, cooing sweetly in the warming air. A “Betty” lifts her voice in a seductive “droo-droo-droo, droo-droo”, and I smile to hear her.

I think about the ugly game birds, tottering on inadequate legs, rising with a flurry into the branches with piercing shrieks of alarm and much wing fluttering. Here they are, wobbling ungainly but purposefully, come to join the circle.

Are those swallows I can hear? I remember how they flew high above me in the autumn sky. If I stretch my ears, can I hear them now as then with their “chitter-chitter-chitter cheek” chattering as they migrate?

Many a dark dawn has the owl called to me in this place. And now, as I sit, the crows caw to each other. Come all the birds of Samhain, come harbingers of death and rebirth.

The air is alive with the chirruping of the robins. I listen carefully, sure that amongst them I hear the longer, faster tremolo of a wren. Welcome oak and holly kings, storm and sun gods, twins everywhere.

But the skies are silent of the blackbird. How typical! I smile to myself knowing that he’s off singing at the other end of his territory and will be back. I listen to the sweet songs of the morning, picking out each songbird and promising once more to listen to that RSPB CD again so I will know them all .

In the distance, a church clock strikes seven times. Great arms bare me up out of the castor oil plant. I am transported through the cool morning air and settled down against the rough trunk of a tall tree. I lean against it, safe and happy.

I see the earth brown and green beneath me, the signs of spring showing in the bright splashes of white, yellow and purple against new green. From this position, I can see the trees are truly budding.

Behind the light covering of cloud, I feel rather than see the golden glow of the morning sun. I get to my feet, spread my wings out and throw back my head. A golden mellifluous cascade of notes glitters upon the cool morning air. I sing and sing and sing for the hell of it. I sing for the presence of the day and the joy of being alive. I Singh to the hidden sun and the nearly born leaves. I sing to the dancing nodding crocuses and snowdrops in the gardens below me. And I admire the bright eggs swinging from braches on the trees in the garden, placed there by a human who greeted and stroked each tree as she did so, walking at dawn in her garden.

Cutting through the air like a golden arc , here comes the blackbird’s song. He must be standing on top of a roof in the next road,where I passed him last evening. He is singing the boundaries of his territory. Later, he will sit in the ash tree on the side of the fence and sing there too. I lean back into the cool strong tangle of the castor oil plant and smile. I’ve heard the blackbird; all is right with the world.

The morning chorus continues. I listen, focussing, trying to disentangle one song from another. Under them all, I hear a gentle gurgling trill, soft like the pigeon, tremulous like the wren. What bird is that? I wonder as I hear the fence creak as the cat sneaks silently along it.

Below, the earth creaks, small creatures scurry. A bird beats fast moving wings against bare branches, he scirs, skimming across the garden. A plain hums softly overhead.

My year with the birds has ended. This is the last time I will sit and purposefully be with them. I know though that they will always be with me and when the time is right, will sometimes claim my full attention.

Behind the high cloud, I know the sun is shining. In May, I will begin my journey with fire. Until then, I am at peace, listening to the birds, the gentle, gentle birds.

“Aah,” I sigh, and climb stiffly to my feet, for I have been sitting for a long time. I walk round the temple of the birds that is my garden. I am ready for my day. Spring is here. Thank goddess that the winter is finally over

39 Tall Trees – Queen’s Wood, Highgate

Saturday march 20, 2010:

A light drizzle patters softly upon my face. I duck under a low branch and enter the circle. All around tall oak trees stand, bent bear arms reaching out. Beside them, the squatter darker prickly holly frowns as though in concentration. Above in the latticed canopy, birds sing out to each other. In the spaces between the trees, our voices echo as the winter wood tosses sound around.

The earth beneath my feet is soft with rain. Leaf mould and twigs texture its surface. I scoop them up, feeling the gritty mud cake my fingers.

A tall tree calls me, a straight oak standing by itself on the edge of a circle of oaks. I walk round it, saying my own “hello”, bowing low in greeting and reverence.

I lean against it, feeling its rough bark chaffing at my cheek. I lay my hand flat on its trunk and breathe in the moist green smell of the wood. I have nothing to do but to be. I sigh, feeling the pent up caged feeling of a long winter shift and think about leaving.

All is still. In the distance, children’s voices call wordlessly to each other. My ears pick up a movement between the trees. A presence treads quietly over the soft leafy earth, their footfall no more than the pat of a leaf falling. I wait.

“Where the f*** have you been?” a growling voice rasps. I nuzzle the tree in apology and surrender my mind to whatever has spoken, waiting for more. But nothing comes.

I am not disappointed. I wait and *am*.Here in the damp wood, I lean against a tall tree, my cheek laid gently against the rough bark. The tree allows me and I am grateful.

The words of a song, comes swaying into my mind and I begin to sing quietly, as I stroke the tree.

“Lay your head against the bark of a tall tree.
Free your mind and find your heart so easily.
The leaves are breathing and the branches sway.
As you see them dancing you can hear them say.
Lay your head against the bark of a tall tree …”
A damp drum thumps prosaically into my reverie. The presence moves quietly back beneath the trees. I nod in its direction and let go of my tree and walk back to the circle to join a Counsel of all beings.

As I sit in circle, I touch my face to feel the bark’s texture, but my cheek is smooth and cool. Still I know that inside I can trace the feel of the tree. I sigh and am content.

I Assemble leaf and twigs upon card. With my fingers, I promise to come back to the trees. I give my offering back to the earth. I sing and dance with my companions, lifting my voice in loud and lusty song as we cautiously spiral dance our way around the stump strewn circle.

Beneath the trees, the gentle drizzle is hardly noticed. Their bare curving arms give less shelter than they would when fully dressed, but it is sufficient. We open our circle. The earth touches the equinox, that place of absolute balance. The next time I feel that point of rocking balance, it’ll be heralding the winter.

I think of the days stretching before me, growing longer and warmer. From this moment in time, I have no anxiety that the year is running away with itself, for it is still so young yet and we have the gently unfolding spring to enjoy.