A Journey With Blackbirdowl

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

43 Farewell to fire

43 Farewell to fire
Wednesday December 26, 2012:
Yesterday morning, I set fire to my cooker. Happy Christmas! I don't know
how it happens. Suddenly, there is an unquenchable fire on the cooker hob.
I poke it with a curious digit and burning plastic moulds itself to my
Braille reading finger. I prod it with a dish cloth, but it sets the cloth
on fire. I throw water on it but it still continues to burn.
No, nothing for it but to abandon independence and run for help. I run for
my neighbour who is handily sighted and relatively sensible. Together, we
finally extinguish the fire and further disaster is averted. Phew!
The blackened melted plastic thing that is stuck to the hob is totally
unrecognisable. I check my plastic lids and utensils, no, none are missing.
I'm careful about cooking. Because I am blind, I check things are on the hob
properly and nothing is sticking out. I check there is no stray utensil
lying around under the griddle. So how did this happen?
I had just eaten my scrambled eggs. I was thinking about getting down to the
review of my pilgrimage with fire - the task for this retreat. I think,
"I'll just do the washing up and make some coffee ..." and whoosh!
I fill a small bowl with water and drop some lavender oil into it. I immerse
my sore and throbbing finger. Ah, immediate relief. I can almost feel the
skin mending.
I open the PC folder with the fire pieces in. Hmm - it's a bit sporadic.
There are some which aren't really part of fire and which are out of
sequence. I sort them out first.
Then I open the file, "1 Playing with fire". This is what I promised I would
do. Hmmm, well I've not done most of those things. Have I failed? No, I've
made a different journey.
So am I done? Is fire finished? Since it's pretty much been raining more
than less since April, I think that fire might have finished with me.
I have started to think about what I might do with water but have been
easily deflected by the obstacles.
What I really want to do is a pilgrimage from source to sea of the Great
River Thames. But I can't find a walking partner. Plan B is to just cross
all the bridges, but there are hundreds. This might be more manageable
though. Is there a plan C?
You know, I 'm a bit frightened of water. I'm scared that it will involve
feelings. I think I've had enough of feelings this year, what with the
ongoing depression and worries over money, my career, political
disappointments and what I will finally do when I grow up.
I could pilgrimage to wells. I could take the waters? I could visit waters
like seas, rivers, lakes and ponds? I could explore water goddesses and
connect with them?
I read the bit about different kinds of magical fires. Oh well, I did none
of that. Huh, see - failure, that's what.
Then I read the rest of the entries. Oo, I learned to make fire - and
actually I'm quite confident about fires now. I did a lot of fire
exploration - oh I think I've done fire in my own special way.
It's not been academic. It's not even been deeply magical but it has been
profound, and that's all that matters.
I like the way I write. I think I've really got my describing tongue around
some of the images. I think I've crafted fine pieces with relative ease. I
think this will do.
So ... farewell fire. Thank you for having me.
I stand on the edge of water. I must simply let go of my fear and dive in,
after all, I like swimming. I am a water baby and a Scorpio, what's not to
like about water?
Splash! ,

42 A humbling Reminder

42 A humbling reminder
Sunday December 23, 2012:
Oh I love that fluid eloquence of robins and tits, the bubbling softness of
pigeons and the grumpy cawing of crows. I sit in the garden under the
castor oil plant and allow the energy to take me away.

I love it that I have so many ways out of the garden. So many paths and
exits lead to other exciting places in my shamanic and magical world. It's a
pleasure to be here to explore.
Today, to the right of the shed, through next door's garden, is a gravel
path sloping down to the river through a copse. I walk down, revelling in
the piece of the woods, the songs of birds in winter mingling with the
cascading babble of a river in space.

I know I need to get into the water. My warm skin under my clothing calls
to the rivers cool embrace. I strip and step into the water.

My breath leaves me. My skin rises in goose-bumps to meet the cold. I swim
otter like down and across the river.

A crescent shingly beach invites me out. I climb up and sit down surrounded
by holly, bare oak, tall ash and other woodland trees, both deciduous and
evergreen. From amongst them comes the great stag, antlers as prickly as
holly thorns, as twisted as oak branches. I don't care that I am naked. I
don't even feel cold. I kneel down in front of him in humble supplication.
"Humble yourself in the arms of the wild) I hear the wood singing. I curl
up at his hooves. I feel his regard and I feel safe. Time moves on. He
stands looking at me. His gaze is benevolent but all-seeing.
"What does he see in me," I wonder. "What do I reveal of myself, curled up
by his hooves?"

He lowers his great antlered head to nudge me awake with a downy cheek, for
it seems I have slept. I uncurl and gaze up into clear brown eyes, full of
compassion and command. I know, I must return to my life beyond the wood,
but I must remember what it feels like to humble myself in the arms of the
wild, for this will make a difference to my life.

I run to the edge of the water and jump in. Like an otter I roll and play,
dive and emerge. I lie on my back laughing up at the winter sky through the
lattice of the bare swaying branches of the woodland trees. As I roll over
and raise my head, I glance back to the little beach. The woodland crescent
of hedge branches shake as they close behind something large and majestic,
departing further into the woods.

I climb up out of the river and shivering, scamper back through the woods
into my own garden. It's a cool cloudy day. It's not actually raining at
the moment. I walk back to the house with the rememberence of a soft downy
cheek tenderly nudging me awake.

41 Winter Bears and the fire of hope.

41 Winter Bears and the fire of hope.

Saturday December 22, 2012:
Call the sun from the tomb of night.
The cold earth turns toward the light!
Wake! Rise up from that death-like sleep.
Hail! New Dawn, new day, new life!
The bear comes slowly moving through the space. Sniffing at the floor, the
air and at us as she passes, I hear her growling low in the back of her
throat. I'm not sure if it's a growl I should particularly note as a
threat, a warning or a promise. I decide to simply note that she is
She is many goddesses and gods, all bears and warriors, primeval, powerful
queenly and kingly. Fierce-clawed, her paws are also velvety padded. Her
great mass is also a soft big belly on which to sleep. I want to reach out
to touch her but I feel she might think this to be impertinent; after all,
she's not a teddy bear!
I growl in the back of my throat in greeting and honour of her. She seems to
like that. I feel a bit bear-like myself and that feels good. I think of the
bear called to watch over a dying mother in New York State and to comfort
her waiting daughter. I send a special soft growl over the ocean to bring
comfort to the watching one. May her mother find release when the time is
right, and may the watching one find comfort on her ongoing journey without
a mother?
I say: "In the dark, dark hart of the night,
when all is still, when all is quiet,
the earth sleeps.
Silently, she surrenders to the night,
Submits to the stillness that brings her deep rest,
that helps her recoup her energy
for the time when the light will return.

Journey into the dark. Find that place of stillness, of deep rest.
Sleep, cradled in the arms of the great mother.
Wait to feel the turning of the earth,
the warming of the air
that tells of the sun's return
and our time to wake."

I go down to the fire via the wooded walk and the hidden cave behind the
bush. At the bottom of the great spiral is the guardian of the fire and with
her, the wolf. She allows me to burn despair. I watch it turning the
flames red, orange and yellow, slowly curling up and shrinking and
shrivelling until it has all gone and only the fire burns brightly and
I walk through the chambers and meet the great mother as a large bear. I lie
down resting my head on her stomach. I ask her what I need now for the next
part of my life's journey.
I dream. IN my dream I am doing something else and feeling very happy. I
don't know what it is I'm doing but it is making my heart sing. I wonder
what this is and whether I ought to do this instead of what I do now or as
an antidote to the stresses of what I do now. This is not yet resolved. I
trust that I will know when it's time.
I take the memory away to think about it. The fire guardian presents me
with dark dense shiny coal or petrified wood, which she tells me, will soak
up all the negativity. I think as I take it, I can wear black stones to help
me do this to, but maybe I'll carry petrified wood and jet with me when I
I climb the stairs back up to the day, my body feels lighter.
"Deep in the earth, deep in her womb,
Cradled in the dark, resting in the tomb."
But hey! The light is returning!
I sing:
"light is returning, although it seems the darkest hour.
No one can turn back the dawn."
Voices join in. I feel my heart shift with hopefulness. I know I want to
retreat to the dark and sometimes it provides the answer. I often say we're
too eager to search for the light without working on what is dark within us,
but maybe I have stood in the dark of my depression too long.
I lift my voice and feel my heart shift with joy and hopefulness. I am
letting go of negativity, and , of despair. I am embracing joy and hope
for the future.
"It is an act of will, an act of courage, in the darkest times, to affirm
that light will return! Another reads the words written by a former member
of our group and to which, I have added.
"We call the sun from the tomb of night.
Come, wake! Rise!
Rise once more, new born and shining from that long sleep of death!
We call upon the brightness that will heal the earth; that will whisper to
seeds that it is time to put out green shoots; that will warm the dead
places in our hearts; that will make newness, life, joy and laughter both
possible and right.
Because we have rested with the dead, we who believe in life must always be
ready for the next rebirth.
Because the times are difficult, we who believe in life must sing and dance
to call the new light into being, knowing that it cannot be held back.
We call the sun from the tomb of night.
Come, wake! Rise!
Rise once more, new born and shining into a new dawn, a new day, a new
THE place is ablaze. I sing so joyfully of the return of the sun, my throat
swelling with passion, other voices around me join in to lift the roof.
"Celebrate the birth of the sun,
Light the way o Lucina.
Dance around on Solstice night,
Blessed be the great mother!
WE dance and raise the roof. I feel the bears dancing with us, not just a
great magisterial bear but lots of different bears. I am like a bear,
stamping and dancing and I smile, muzzle in the air as I sing.
The song moves to a wordless tone. I jump up and down with excitement. How
old am I?
"I am as young as the new born sun", I say to no one in particular and reach
out a paw to feel the heat from a candle.
The bears go. Everyone thanks everyone and we feast in a manner redolent of
a teddy bears picnic. I hum under my breath and think rather incongruously
of Pooh Bear.

40 Dancing with the ancestors

40 Dancing with the ancestors
Wednesday October 31, 2012:
And here we are on Samhain. That time when the veils between the worlds are
thin. That time when our beloved dead are closest to us. I wonder if there's
something about the death of opportunity or the death of the world wanting
what I've been able to give by way of equality championship, good regulation
and all that, that I need to notice at least.
A part of me still doesn't want to give up, but I have to find a way of
getting something to do which will pay me enough to live on. I'm leading the
Samhain Walk with the Ancestors tonight, so I'd better get myself together.
The streets are filled with trickle-treaters. The posh houses are
elegantly decorated with intricately carved pumpkins. We "woo-woo" at
children who pass. Everyone is in good spirits.
In all nearly 15 gather to circle on the heath to ground and connect. We
walk quietly up the hill, circling the ash tree (It's an ash this year!)
Someone casts and we call direction, setting up sacred space
I call in the ancestors and begin by calling in my beloved dead.
I say:
"I call in Vijayatara who taught me the power of struggle.
I call in Rowen Jade, who taught me that stillness was strength.
I call in Nasa Begum who taught me that facts have power.
I call in Tina Grigg, who taught me to love trees.
I call in Dave Morris, who taught me that there's always another way.
I call in Sue Napolitano, who taught me the power of words.
I call in all my other beloved disabled dead... Come to me now, for I have
never needed you so much. Come to me now, for I need your strength to help
me in this fight for our lives as Disabled people. Come, beloved disabled
warriors, come!"
Others call in their beloved dead. Soon, we are surrounded. The energy is
strong. We form a line and are bound to each other by wool. Then we walk.
The snake moves slowly, swaying, pushing through the diaphanous veil into
the other world. Our beloved dead march beside us. I am surrounded.
Palpable is their energy. The drum beat slow and steady, we move on.
The beat picks up. The energy rises. We stop walking and in honour of
Gabrielle Roth, begin to dance. In front of me, my beloved dead dance. I
move in a silent tarantella of pride and love. I feel my head raised high;
my shoulders straighten as we dance together, our dance to set us all free.
I must do this more often", I think to myself. The beat slows. We move on,
wobbling as we pick up our feet. The earth beneath my feet is tuffety. It
is solid but soft, cushioned by the long rough grass. I pick up my feet and
step, my heart light, my beloved dead beside me.
The veil softly strokes my face. I turn; looking back in my mind to the
journey just taken my face framed like a bride, and bow a goodbye to my
beloved dead dance partners.
We circle under the protected embrace of the ash tree and give up our
prayers and thanks. I hang the holed stone on a red ribbon that I charged
during the Mayoral campaign. I give it to the tree to remind me of my
politics and my intent to change the world. I offer it as a reminder to
call in the support of my beloved dead when I feel need of them. The stone
swings in the breeze, banging softly into my hand, to remind me of my
The tree accepts other tokens of our love and resolve. We open the circle
and feast on delicious fairy cakes, pumpkin cake, dates, apricots and marsh
Someone has found an enormous leaf lying at the foot of the tree. We
speculate on where it came from and how it got here. It seems important
somehow but none knows what it signifies. No matter.
The pumpkin lantern is held high as some dance down the hill. Others like
me follow more slowly, singing quietly together. The heath is still. There
are no revellers. Some runners have been there, but that's all.
We gather by the maple tree to ground and let go of the circle finally,
taking with us the energy of our working. We are standing on a carpet of
enormous leaves. Aha! This is the source of the one under the Ash tree
yonder. Giving thanks to the tree of its bounty, we head for the pub.
I didn't know that the pub had a fire! In the other lounge, there it is,
burning merrily. And what's more, there's a free table and some seats.
Five of us settle down to drink, chat and be comfortable. I reach out my
hands to feel the fire.
"Changer, destroyer, transformer, stay with me," I whisper.

39 Fire and wild ways singing

39 Fire and wild ways singing
Friday September 28 2012:
In the woods, I sit on a bench made of branches, still twisted and curved
in an undulation of life's growth. It rocks as I slightly rock.

The drum beats fast and syncopated. Low grumbling, soft crooning turns
sharply into loud howling, deepening and roughening into snarling and
Here in the centre of the wood, trees watch as in the clearing, the fire
begins to blaze. The woods are alive. I am alive!
All around, emerging from trees, from the low plants, from amongst the
cracked mud and oozing from the soft thickened puddles, come the folk of the
land. Fierce and stern, soft and subtle, they come.
Me, I curl softly and warmly. My mouse paws before me, my head down,
whiskers twitching as I listen and notice. I am safe, sat between his great
hooves. Nothing will come to harm me. My tribe and I are here to be the
softness between the hardness of the old wood, the thickened horn and stiff
The dance goes on, gyrating and spinning. Across the forest, occasional
piercing screams echo between the trees. I sit curled and still, serene and
The folk have come to dance, stride, strut and be. I am still, curled
between the great hooves, a reminder of gentleness in this wild world.
All around is fierce energy. Here in me is soft quietness. This is my
relationship with the wild places.
I like it that I am soft. This wild place is hard, but it is also soft. Not
just the mosses and funguses but the softness of the rain-soaked earth,
trembling beneath my feet as I walk.
My weight presses it into dips and hollows. It clings to my feet. We're
getting to know each other, the mud and I.
Saturday September 29, 2012:
I walk in the woods. The sky, the ground, the waters, the air are all
The other path is wider and less steep. It leads me past a standing stone. I
move onward through the trees, listening to the river calling me to come sit
with it.
I settle beside the fast moving stream, under the trees to sit and be. I am
holding a stag's antler and lightly drumming on it. Soon I begin to sing:
""His hooves on mud, his hooves on mud, his hooves on mud are dancing.
The river flows, the river chuckles, river tumbles laughing.
Standing stones, guardians watching.
Cawing crow, circling skywards.
Listen to the wind moan, listen to the wind grown, listen to the wind
singing in the trees.
Running through the greenwood, running through the greenwood, running
through the greenwood amongst the trees.
A single ray of sun slants through the trees, gelding all that it touches.
The sailing moon beams down from the sky through a lattice of silvered black
Accompanying myself on the stag horn drum, I sing my new song to my
companion. He is not only gratifyingly impressed but being a singer, soon
joins in. We carol harmoniously under the trees with the river singing along
with us until called by hunger to lunch.
The sun strikes lower through the gloom of the forest. By the silent fire
pit, we gather to praise trees. We sing lustily and happily:
"Trees grow tall in the heart of the forest,
High in the sky and the roots grow down to the deep dark earth.
I am held by the forked oak, leaning into his embrace as I sing. I stroke
his strong limbs and send my love of trees out to all trees everywhere, for
never have they been in such danger as they are now.

In the roundhouse, a small fire smokes. We call on Cernunnus to help us work
to protect badger.

I follow the stag through the trees to meet a large milky white cow standing
alone, shining under the silver moon. I am her and she is me. Heavy with
milk, we lumber around. I moo, low and deeply richly maternal. I call to all
the calves I will ever have and all the calves stolen from the milch cow to
keep her milk flowing for humans to consume. , .
Tonight, stimulated by the bright moon, my milk flows. Badger comes to
suckle. All the badgers come to suckle, and sated, make way for the next
one, moving in a river of black, white and grey.
Like a wave shattering, the drum thunders. Cernunnus takes me riding round
the world showing all cows and badgers lying down together. There love and
appreciation shining out under the full moon. Their connection stays the
hands of badger's executers.
"If we can love and give sucker to those who might be our enemies, we can
unite to fight the outer evil", they tell me.
I crawl from the roundhouse and return to the fire. I am cold. I remember
the gentle milk white cow and feel her love for everyone.

Sunday September 30, 2012:
Beyond the stooped shouldered mossy standing stone grows a tall three
trunked sycamore tree. It guards the clearing in which a round green pond
lies. I sit down in this quiet place to be with the trees.
I sleep. I dream that I watch the clearing a whole day and night through.
Dawn light shows the leaves on the ground distinct in all their new autumn
colours. High in the trees, the twittering robins chatter with the doves.
The forest is waking up.
At noon, sunlight reaches into guild the green pool. A woodpecker cackles
and a thrush answers. The wind in the trees makes the tree tops dance.
The Evening sun casts great dark shadows beneath the trees. The blackbird
sings his evening song and the crow calls for night to come.
The sky grows dark and the moon sails out, casting silver and black shifting
lacy patterns across the water. Above, owls hoot and shriek, swoop low and
then fly off, wings beating into the branches above.
Leaves crackle under hoof as something moves out from the shelter of the
trees. A light form, ethereal and delicate steps out into the moonlight. A
white hind bows her head down to the pool to drink, her loveliness mirrored
in the water. She raises her head to look up at the moon and suddenly is
The clearing is empty. The sky begins to pale and another day dawns.
I can't move. Something has feasted on any flesh I have left carelessly
exposed. I scratch my hands in irritation. The trees say to me that they
want people to sit under them and experience them. They ask that all trees
are respected whether they are the noble oak or the humble sycamore.
The fire blazes on despite the pouring rain. The only thing to do in weather
like this is to dance. My companion and I dance in the stone circle watched
incuriously by two horses. I can only think they're used to humans behaving
like this.
The ground is waterlogged. The soft importunate mud pulls at my boots
insistently. I stride, feet heavy with caked mud in a ritual of physical
leaving of the land I have dreamed, sun and danced on for 3 days.

38 The confined flames of Mabon

38 The confined flames of Mabon
Friday September 21, 2012:
"O restless leaf of autumn's blaze,
Release your hold and tumble down.
Settle on the cooling earth,
Now that summer's gone.
Mabon Blessings.
Equinox Regents Park
As we walk along Baker Street, heading for the Park, it begins to rain. I
introduce my visually impaired companion to rotating cones, which she is
very excited about. Finally, we find our way to a little Del by a green
pond with a bubbling outflow. We are surrounded by trees and hedges and
can't really be seen.
We cast and call. Wood pigeon comes. So does dragon. And here is the wise
salmon, kissing the surface of the water, and the bear. Welcome all.
I sit with a lit candle in a jar in my hands. Its warmth reminds me that the
sun declines but will return again as the wheel turns on.
Our first task in circle is to jettison what we no longer need. I decide to
take a boat journey across the pond. My boat rocks gently as I step into it.
Carefully sitting down, I cast off from the shore and steer the boat out
into the green water. It's dark and quiet. I want to let go my anxiety.
A goose appears and fights me for it. With a great many honking and
fluttering of wings, the goose hisses and spits as she tries to wrestle my
anxiety from me. I don't want to let it go because I know it, and it stops
me doing something new and different. In the end, the goose wins and swims
triumphantly off with it, as my anxiety struggles in resistance.
My boat bobs lightly on the pond. You know, it feels so much better without
that great Burdon of having to feel anxious all the time, and no longer
having to let that anxiety dictate to me. I feel much lighter.
I sit peacefully on the bank overlooking the pond. I really want to keep my
promises to myself. I really want not to be disheartened when I don't and
to never give up. I want never to tire of persisting, for I will win in the
end, I know that.
"It is an ultimate act of self-love that I purposefully plan and keep
promises I make to myself," I tell myself. Can I start with promising to
like and admire myself?
We breathe for the folk of the place who ask that we help heal the sickness
in the pond. The pond is clogged with green algae. Life finds it hard to
exist. We breathe and breathe and I feel like beginning to move slightly in
the depths of the pond. The geese, in a great hooting flock, flutter down
in a scirring of wings to peck away at the algae.
The flame in the jar glows warmly in my palm. I stroke the hot glass. I am
comforted by the warmth. Reluctantly, I raise it to my lips and blow it out.

Our work done, we open the circle and make to leave. The air is rapidly
cooling in the solid rain. I pull up my hood against its incessant
Queens Wood equinox
Saturday September 22, 2012:
The sun shafts through the trees, fingering me with its latent warmth as I
stand in circle amongst them. The birds in the canopy are quiet. The
children in the nearby clearing are not. Still, we continue.
We give thanks for what we have, our harvest. What's mine? This mood I am
in. This joy in being in the woods once more. The ecstasy of being a queer
The earth is perfumed sweetly with the newly fallen leaves of autumn. A
soft, dusty mushrooming greenness comes to me with gentleness. I breathe in
Crouching down, I search for tokens to embody what I want to let go of. We
sing and walk quietly on the cool damp earth. I pick up pieces of wood and
feel their shapes and textures with cool dexterous fingers. I give my woes
to the pieces of wood and cast away anxiety as I cast away addictions and
broken promises.
In casting away, there becomes room for gratitude. This is the heart of
Mabon working. I give thanks for the group and the woods in which we work.
But what will sustain me as the winter arrives. What will fit me during the
dark cold nights before the sun returns? I talk about wanting to walk The
Thames from source to sea and finding a partner to do that with. I also
talk about entering upon a 12 steps path and making a commitment to it.
Something warmly leans against my leg. The low sun reaches in through the
trees to touch me once more. It's fire is cooling now. AS we move towards
the autumnal dark, I feel my fire quest, moving towards its natural end.

37 Wood pigeons to the rescue!

37 Wood pigeons to the rescue!
Sunday September 2, 2012:
A queer friend is in hospital. Her mental distress is so significant that
many friends are frightened for her ongoing sanity. She has made a
connection with pigeons. Friends have asked me (known for my pigeon
fancying tendencies) if I will communicate with them on her behalf.
So I called to the wood pigeons and tell them about our queer friend. This
is what happens.
When I want to talk to the pigeons, I do a pigeon dance (stiff legs, waddle
and bobbing head!) I also sing the call of the pigeon, and because
specifically Wood Pigeons are asked for, I sing in this case
"droo-droo-droo, droo-droo". This looks rather odd so I do it at the bottom
of my garden, hidden by my splendid castor oil plant, behind which, much
nefarious magic is done, out of sight and sound of the neighbours.
I dance and coo, until out of the stillness of the evening, I hear a
scirring of a thousand wings. The air grows thick with birds, And down they
come, hundreds and hundreds of them.
It seems like every pigeon in London has heeded the call. Down come pigeons
of all hues, creamy ones, white ones, grey ones and brown ones, a few rather
nice navy ones. All of them are bearing a feather in their beaks. Each
drops their feathers so they make a thick layer on the ground.
They circle round this thick, blue, grey, white, silvery and brownie-creamy
luxurious nest. They dance together, strutting and bobbing in a complex
graceful quadrille, dignified yet touching in their points of uniformity and
of difference, for their separate personalities seemed to mitigate the
similarity of their steps. Pigeon Busby-Barclay that's what it is!
They circle round and round, moving back and forth, in and out, the ever
changing patterns mesmerising and so very soothing. And as they dance, they
coo softly, a harmony of pulsing breathy softness, like an oral caress.
The dance shifts and the birds drawback to reveal our queer friend, curled
up amongst the feathers, sleeping peacefully. She lies dreaming and the
pigeons sit as though on guard softly cooing, watching over her, keeping her
AS she sleeps, she dreams. The pigeons seem to hear her dreams, as from
time to time, one or other of them moves out from the dance, shakes their
quivering wings and flies off into the sky, taking our queer friend's
message with them. In time, they return, bobbing and strutting towards our
still sleeping queer friend. They coo their messages softly into her ear.
Time moves on. The sun rises, moves across the sky and sets. Many days
will pass as are needed. One day, a finger of sunlight touches our queer
friend's cheek and she awakes. She smiles, knows she is safe and is glad to
be in the world.
The pigeons, who have kept vigil for her, coo and bow. They invite her to
dance. At first, with faltering steps, our queer friend dances amongst
them. Soon though, she is bowing and stepping and cooing just like them.
She watches as they fly around, up into the sky and then back down to the
Our queer friend knows now that the pigeons will be her messengers. They
will also be her guards, for the times when she feels distressed. She can
appreciate them by dancing their dance on the ground and always bowing (when
it is convenient of course) whenever she sees a pigeon.
My garden is quiet. I stand, slightly swaying. The pigeon song in my head
soothes me. I turn to the east and sing the pigeon song, laced with the
sound of the scirring of many wings, the "thwo-thwo-thwo-thwo-thwo of a
thousand wings, sending love to our queer friend and hopes for a peaceful
night and a calm and safe tomorrow.
Blessings to you for your care for our queer friend and for all who are
keeping her safe. The pigeons have come to her now and won't leave her till
she no longer has need of their protection.

36 Devon fire workings

36 Devon fire workings
Friday August 10, 2012:
Am I still in fire? Staying for the weekend with a friend, I request fire
and am granted fire.
10 pm.
It's a lovely starry night though cool for August. . I put a fleece on and
am glad of it. I sit on a cushion on the long grass next to the little fire
pit. Beyond the lawn, the river sings. The air is misty with its dampness.
We light a small snapping fire. I reach out to touch the flames. Ah healing
By rights, my companion and I should be at a camp. But it's rained since
April and the campsite is waterlogged. Somehow the will to find another
place we can all go to, evaporated. Other friends are camping together in an
exclusive clique.
My companion and I work for the future of the camp and all that it has
brought to us over the years. Where else will we find such acceptance of
diversity, such support of difference, such love of who we all are?
We sit by the fire and sing, imagining our voices multiplied, weaving into
the august night as we sing to the moon, the fire, the stars, the land and

Saturday August 11, 2012:
With only half an eye between us, my myopic companion and I set off
hopefully to walk on the more. The park by the river teems with children and
their adults. The town is en fete. It's a bright, bright bright, sunshiny
I feel the sun's heat on my face. The river sings loudly for it is full. A
teasing little wind blows away the sun's kiss.
The bus winds up the narrow lanes and climbs up on to Dartmoor. We alight
somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Climbing steeply up to the top of the
moor, the wind is wild. It sings through my walking stick holes like a lost
whale or a high keening bird.
"ouuw-ouuw-ouuw" it sings.
"Ouuw, ouuw, ouuw" I sing back.
We walk through sun and wind along a stone lane. Then into the Merryvale
Stone circle. The grass is shorn within an inch of its life by herds of
hooved things. We have the space to ourselves. We cast a circle using the
birds of the place and settle back to dream.
I lie on my back under the sun and submit to the rough handed wind. Raven
comes a calling and a-cawing. He invites me to go with him. I am
reluctant. I don't want to see the future in case I will be disappointed in
myself. The horses come to chew the cud, so do the sheep. All of them urge
me to take this offer.
"Raven doesn't give this chance to everyone," they point out. I concede.
, I cling tightly to the raven as we rise high, circling the spinning world.
Here I am in a place in the future. I look down at myself. I look well and
So if I trust in spirit, god, goddess, this is what I can have. Rather like
the wind deflecting the heat of the sun, it's difficult to feel its touch or
in this case, see the image. I thank the Raven and he brings me back to the
stone circle.
Thanking the birds that have helped us dream, we get up and climb back down
to the road where we catch a bus back to Tavistock.
8 pm.
It's still light. The walk beside the river is lovely, if a little rough
under foot in places.
The river is singing loudly. It chuckles and tumbles over the
water-smoothed rocks. I feel light, listening to it. We brush past the
Himalayan balsam which grows like a weed everywhere along the bank. There
is a soft coconutty smell wafting through the cool air, I don't know if this
is our anti-gnat stuff or the balsam... We walk on.

Round the corner is a wider deeper place. Children are playing in the
water. They swing from ropes and one of them has a damp furry animal which
turns out to be a polecat ferret mix creature. I stroke its long wet hair
and it turns to bite me. I remove my hand in the nick of time.
Underfoot it's quite rough going. This is mainly on account of roots and
rocks. I am resolved to walk carefully and lightly on the earth. I am
feeling relaxed.
Here's a tree with a thick ivy stalk growing up it like a snake. It's
beautiful. It's kind of a gateway. We pass through it and squeeze by a
standing stone which also heralds the circle. And here we are.
In this space, where the stones seem to have been re-erected, it is still
and magical. The trees grow out at a forty-five degree angle. Perhaps the
effect of mining has created these phenomena. We make a fire and cast our
Our intention is many fold. There are loved ones to help pass over, our
queer pagan camp to release and dangerous habits to surrender.
Through the woods comes Cernunnus, his feet quiet on the soft leaf mould,
his essence strong and musky. Up on a branch, a blackbird is singing its
goodnight song. Soon, as darkness falls, it is replaced by the shriek of a
hunting owl.
We sing to move energy. I find myself singing the wood pigeon. Its
"droo-droo-droo-droo-droo" is soothing and comforting. I let it guide,
hold, and help release distress.
Something is squealing its last breath deep in the undergrowth. It's dying
is taking a long time. My face turned towards it, I listen, and want to
know who or what it is that is dying out there and why.
"We are here today to die to what no longer serves us," I think; and the
sound stops. Maybe it is dead or has gone away.
Suddenly, I find myself crouched over, my head down. I am submitting, in
humility in pain. I begin to weep. I can't do this work by myself. I need
to surrender control to a higher power.
Cernunnus stands before me like a jagged oak tree. I shelter between his
great hooves like a helpless small mammal. I admit my problem, surrender
myself to the god and ask for help.
Uncontrollably crying now, I hear the stillness as though something very old
is listening to me, taking in what I'm saying, with gravity and
thoughtfulness. It's as though he is weighing what to do. I don't know if
he'll help.
I lie low to the ground in utter abjection. Hands laid on my head sooth me.
I see Cernunnus in my mind, stern and tall and jagged like an old oak tree.
I could offer my prayers up to him, I think. Yes, that's right. I can ask
him for help. I can do this in my daily circle. I feel comfort in the hands
touching me.
Sitting up, I wipe away my tears. We finish our work and open the circle. I
stand beside the fire as we make it safe to leave. Now that it's dark, only
the fire brings light to the gloom. I hold my hands out to receive its
Gathering up our things, we begin to make our way back. The mud, the result
of 4 months of pretty much nonstop rain, oozes and sucks at my boots.
Determinedly it tries to pull them off but I fight it, finding energy in the
battle, tugging away, resisting and winning.
"Ha", I say, "got ya!" Elated by a new sense of freedom, I stride through
the trees and back to the car. Water is clearly calling me, when will I
heed its song?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

35 Harvest bangle

35 Harvest bangle
Saturday July 28, 2012:
"I am a child again,
dexterously I plat and weave,
my head bowed beneath the beating sun.
Around me, the tall grasses dance,
as with nimble fingers sure and swift,
I fashion my ring of harvest hopes.
Lamas Blessings"
As we walk across the field, my companion says she thinks there ought to be
five seasons. She says there's green summer and yellow summer. What with
all the rain this year, it's going to be hard to find the yellow summer.
But the tall grasses are golden and dancing in the breeze. The day is hot.
WE sit on the ground, hidden from other walkers on the heath.
This is the wake of Lugh the Sun King who dies with the waning year, the
Corn King who sacrifices himself when the grain is reaped. We stand now
between hope and fear, in the time of waiting. In the fields the grain is
ripe but not yet harvested. We have worked hard to bring many things to
fruition, but the rewards are not yet certain. Now the Mother becomes
Reaper, who feeds on life so that new life may grow. Light is still strong
but diminishes, the days shorten, and summer will pass. We gather to turn
the Wheel, knowing that to harvest we may have to sacrifice and warmth and
light must pass into winter. (Starhawk).
And through the long grass Corn goddess comes striding, her hair corn twists
upon her head, her skin brown as dark honey, and her arms full of the grain
just harvested
"And what do you hope to harvest?" she asks.
My harvest is about intention, about deciding to do and doing, about
abstinence and really meaning abstinence. Instead of gathering, I am letting
go, that's my harvest.
I weave the grasses together into a thick bangle.
"Less is more", I say to myself as the grass plat grows thick beneath my
rapidly working fingers.
"Abstinence is my harvest.
My face set with concentration, I see my younger self with her daisy chains,
her woven grasses, and her tangled twigs, head bent beneath the hot sun. I
see her serenity and call that peace to myself. Each piece of dried grass is
tipped with seeds. The seeds will bring forth new life next spring. For now
the sun goes into the grain, the grain goes into the bread, the sun carried
in the bread, sustains us during winter.
If abstinence is my harvest what is my sacrifice? I sacrifice unconscious
eating; I sacrifice deliberate eating, and bingeing. I sacrifice not doing,
inertia, not stepping through the door.
The soft rose petals flutter from my outstretched palm. Soon the ground
around us is scattered with their fluttering silken softness and they dance
on the breeze against the shivering dried grasses.
"We all come from the goddess, and to her we shall return.
Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean.
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
All that dies shall be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
all that falls shall rise again."
We dance amongst the scattered rose petals. The sun retreats behind the
clouds and our trampled grassy space grows cool.
Amongst the south facing hedges, the first blackberries are out. I gather
them carefully. Tangy yet fragrant their flavour bursts into my warm mouth.
I can taste the sun in their juice.
The sun is dying. The year turns on and the night's will draw in. Soon it
will be cold again. I shiver and wonder when my fire quest will end or if
there is more to do?
"Goddess, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the
courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." I
say against the rhythm of the train as it draws out of the station.

34 Hail The Triumphant Sun!

34 Hail the Triumphant sun!
Wednesday June 20, 2012:

"Hail the triumphant sun, arching above the spinning earth.
Frail is the wind-blown bloom drifting on flowing waters
Down to the embracing sea.
Sail on life giving sun Spin on into the sleeping night.
Where the blossom and thorn brings fragrance and blood.
And where in the stillness lies only love, only love,
Love, love. .

Night sneaks up to us as we sit in circle on the roof. The mountains watch
the valley as it stretches out ready to sleep under the imminent, enfolding
Softly, the borgonvillia trembles in my hand as I stroke the silken petals.
What are those unhealed wounds that I would mend? My thick tongue fills my
mouth. I can't say, I just can't say it out loud in case the saying cements
them. Stupid! Say it, own it, and release it. Once it served you, in taking
the learnings you can let go of the emotions.
I take a leaf from the bowl and hold it. My fingers stroke its sharp
contour, tracing the arched smoothness rising up from the dipped spine; feel
its substance and its frailness under my fingers.
"Despair" I say, "I give up despair". My fingers release the leaf and the
wind catches it, lifting it swirling into the air and over the balustrade.
The lavender is frilled and frothy in my hands. Shyly it touches my skin
with its moistness; tenderly it gives up its delicate perfume. I breathe it
in; my skin ingests it as I hold the bloom against my heart.
I imagine the warm sun shining down on the lavender and the heat allowing it
to release its perfume. I hold it up to the dying sun and give it my wish, I
breathe in my intention to love myself unconditionally.

And as the sun finally slips behind the mountains, I dance. I dance, for
what else is there to do? The air chills. The birds fall silent and the
watchers look up to where the thinnest slither of the new moon has risen. I
imagine it, slight and silver against the darkening blue of the sky.
I think of my life as it is now, what I had hoped for and what I must build
and work for.
"What shall I do for fun, when I grow up," I think leaving the roof to the
party goers. "How can I learn to be a friend not a slave to my leadership in
this world?"

Dancing for the Maypole

33 Dancing for the Maypole
Friday May 11, 2012:
So the shining flame that was my hope for a Labour victory in the GLA
elections is no more. The nastily benefits bashing Coalition Government will
be joined on its next onslaught against working people and the poor, by
Boris Johnson with his libertarian seemingly-harmless, jolly jovial
policies, every bit as evil as his Bellenden Club mate George Osborne's. IN
despair, I get on a train and head for the hills.
I sit by a fire in a quiet field and sing to the stars. Right now, I could
happily be a hippy doing this and forgetting about changing the world!
Two bail fires throw their warmth out into the chill clear night. Like
innocent cattle, I follow my companion round them. Between them stands the
three-human maypole in the middle. I reach out and touch a limb; a hand
comes out of nowhere and touches my wrist. I'm not sure if my touch is
approved or not, so in caution, I withdraw it, put my hand on my heart and

"Dance" says the maypole, "dance and let go, dance and receive."
"Oh, let the fire take these woes", I think, allowing the drums to seize my
body and take it to a new dance. I caper, putting my energy into my feet,
stamping on the soft wet grassy field. The ground sings back, more of a
soggy "umph" than a ""squelch" and I grunt back.
The ground feels water-logged. The sweetness of crushed grass rises up to
meet me. I breathe in the optimism of things growing towards the sun, even
if the sun is hidden right now.
"And is there sun behind the cloud for me?" I wonder, skipping between the
bail fires.
"o, if I could let go of pain and bring in freedom, if I could let go of
fear and bring in hope.
The fires crackle. High above in the darkening night, somewhere suspended on
the fading light, a blackbird sings to the crows. Other birds call across
the canopy of the darkening sky and I feel something shift inside me as I
dance with my companion.
The drums beat on. We dance... The sky skips around. The trees in the
field join in. We call out changes for the world. I call out "uplifting
singing" for you can't feel fear if you are singing.
We process back to the main fire. It's clear ahead. Birds still call their
night calls. True to intention, I indulge in a bit of uplifting singing and
soon, my heart feels lighter for it.
The fire is hot but my bum is cold. A metaphor for life perhaps? I don't
know. It's midnight, time to go to bed!

32 Sun Feather

When in doubt, post in the end ... silent too long, I'm now going to sing
out loud!
32 Sun Feather

Wednesday May 2, 2012:
Buffeted by bitter rain,
our bodies braced against the wind.
You cleave the storm with Golden song.
Brave Blackbird Sing the summer in.
And let us raise our red flags high,
in honour of the workers day.
And let us raise our red flags high,
in honour of the workers day."
(Sung to the tune of The Red Flag)

Am I still in fire? It's been raining since April. My quest to explore this
element has been rather overshadowed by the need to change political
leadership in London. I've been on the hoof, come rain or shine, trailing
after Ken Livingstone. One more day to go now, I think. One more day and
another push to defeat Boris once and for all.
I take a break and think about the sun. I think about its golden warmth. If
I close my eyes and concentrate hard, perhaps I can take myself to a warm
and sunny place...
Sunlight shafts across the roof. It touches my cheek as I stand in the
still morning courtyard. Only the doves in their tower cot call softly to
the dawn, their cooing rippling and bubbling like the fountain that sings
amongst the paving stones in the centre of this space.
I turn and begin to move slowly towards its rippling softness. My bare feet
step tenderly on the marble slabs. I spread out my toes the better to feel
my way. The marble is cool beneath my feet.
What is this place? Where am I?
Methodically I explore the space. Like a cautious pawn slowly moving across
a chess board I step, wait, and then step again.
I am alone. I am alone in the square paved courtyard which has at its
absolute centre, a low-walled round pool and a fountain. The fountain
softly soothingly bubbles.
I walk round the courtyard one hand lightly touching the cool stone wall.
It is utterly smooth. I can find no trace of door or window. It is as
though I am in a topless box.
What is this place? Why am I here? How did I get in?
Above me, somewhere in the smooth wall, a dove coos. Droo-droo-droo". I
lift my face to the sound and through softly pursed lips, sing back.
I lay my hands flat upon the wall. Stroke its cool smoothness. This is a
perfect cube, I think. With sky for a roof and marble slabs for a floor, it
truly encloses me. My mind paints a picture. It is neat, symmetrical and
perfectly proportioned. I like that.
I walk round the space until I find a patch which is warmer than the rest.
Here, the early morning sun spills over the slabs. I sit down, full in its
ray, my face lifted to the heat. I wait.
"Droo-droo-droo". Coos a dove above my head. "Droo-droo-droo ", I coo
I lift my arms, round and warmed by the sun, an invitation to the gentle
Something slight touches my outstretched palm. Drifting softly like a
butterfly kiss, it teases up my arm. Fingers search, seek its softness.
Nudging cautiously, a fingertip touches the very edge of featheriness.
Slowly creeping forward it feels its way across and pinions the fluttering
feather. The feather trembles silently in the gentle breeze, frail and
vulnerable in my hand. I know it's golden. I know it is the sun made real in
an insubstantial fleeting yet tangible presence. Hmm, what does this say
about the summer and the future? I live in hope.