The Defwy – A Brythonic River of the Dead

This post from Lorna Smithers spoke deeply to me so I’m sharing it here 🙂

Signposts in the Mist

In the sixth verse of ‘The Spoils of Annwn’ Taliesin berates ‘pathetic men’ (monks) for their lack of knowledge of the answers to riddles which in his day must have been well known. He says they do not know ‘who made the one who didn’t go to the meadows of Defwy’.

The meadows of Defwy are clearly in Annwn. Marged Haycock notes it has been suggested Defwy is a river-name from def-/dyf- ‘black’ ‘as in Dyfi’ and may be ‘a river between this world and the next’. Taliesin also sings of this river in a list of fine things in ‘The Spoils of Taliesin’: ‘Fine it is on the banks of the Dyfwy / when the waters flow’.

Rivers dividing Thisworld and the Otherworld, the realms of the living and the dead, are found in many world cultures. In Greek mythology the Styx ‘Hatred’ divides Thisworld and Hades, the dead…

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Landing hurts!

Here is a picture of me on Dillon, the horse I have been having my riding lessons on.

me and Dillon

On Friday I had my first fall.  It was towards the end of the lesson, we’d already done a fair bit of trotting in the inside arena and things were going well so we went outside.  We went for a combination of walking and trotting outside on the well used Tulliallan Trail created and maintained especially for the use of the RDA Glasgow Group that I volunteer with.  They do some riding lessons for able bodied too and I started to learn with them in October last year.

The trail is familiar to the all the horses and the weather was good. Everything was going pretty well when Dillon decided to buck.  I’m still not sure if I did something wrong.  I thought he was beginning to get faster so was trying to start to slow him a bit but the next thing I knew was I was sailing up and over his head!

I landed hard on with the main impact being on my lower back but I immediately rolled slightly to an almost recovery style position.  Dillon fortunately stopped straight away.  My instructor did everything you might hope for really.  I have no idea how she actually felt with all this drama but she sounded calm and in control which was very reassuring.  I have had years of first aid training myself so found myself internally nodding to her questions about what I could feel while externally responding.

After a bit I felt I could try and move.  I got to my hands and knees first and paused there because I know from past experience that when I have a lot of pain I can faint easily.  Then I got to my feet and again paused to make sure I wasn’t going to go down again.

Gradually we began to make our way slowly towards the entrance into the trail area but as we walked the pain began to get worse.  I had to stop and sink to the ground for a break a few times as I started to feel nauseous with the pain and I didn’t want to pass out.  Contact was made with staff on the yard who came out to help me hobble onward.  In the end though I accepted the offer of a wheelchair for the remainder of the way as the pain was getting so bad.

Back inside it was agreed I needed to go to hospital for a check up and an ambulance was organised and arrived sooner than I expected it might.  I was transferred to the ambulance staff’s care which was excellent and was soon provided with some gas and air or Ntox pain relief.

Once at the hospital I was given further pan relief as I was in a lot of pain.  X-rays were taken of my lower spine and pelvis but no signs of any broken bones.  I had trouble waking though and even with the pain relief the pain was bad enough that I fainted after they to hobble to a toilet.  All with excellent care and supervision of the A&E staff, I didn’t faint until I was back on the bed in the cubicle.  So they decided to keep me in overnight for observation and I also had an ultrasound check for signs of internal bleeding.  All was well.

I eventually got home Saturday morning with more painkillers but already improving.

My care both at the RDA Glasgow stables and in the hospital has been wonderful.  So grateful for living in the UK with the NHS so no need to worry about health insurance or anything like that.

I have every intention of getting back on Dillon as soon as I’m fit enough again.  Landing hurts and I don’t recommend that particular experience but I love my riding lessons.  I love the feeling of being up there and communicating with Dillon, of learning how to get the signals correct for moving into a trot or coming out of it. I love being able to now steer while trotting.  I’ve learnt so much already since I began my lessons and there is so much more to learn.  I admit though I am hoping that we’ll have a gentle lesson for my first time back on after this experience of landing!


Cherish your Normals

This is the subject of a blog post by John Beckett.  It’s written for the Pagan community but I found that many of the points in it speak just as strongly for me of parts of the Autistic community so I’m sharing it here.

If we can be accepting of different races, genders, and sexual orientations, we can be accepting of people who are “weird” or “normal” or anything in between.

via Cherish Your Normals: You Need Them (And They Need You)

Trying to do the right thing with the Pagan Healing Circle

Recently I had a request from a non-pagan friend of mine about joining the Pagan Healing Circle.  When I set the group up I had not thought about the possibility of non-pagan members, this was something aimed for the Pagan community.  I have, I hope, made it clear we would send healing to anyone that wanted it regardless of faith but I hadn’t thought about non-pagan healers.  My initial reaction was that I didn’t see a problem so initially I just made sure the person asking knew how we worked and asked if they were still interested. As this wasn’t something I had really thought about though I needed to do some thinking and talking with others before I made a final decision.  I’m still not sure if I have made the right decision but it’s done now.

I have, regretfully, said no to non-pagan healers becoming members of the Pagan Healing Circle.  These are my reasons.

The group is named Pagan Healing Circle because it is aimed mainly at the Pagan community and with that name come the expectation that the healers will be pagans of some kind. If we accept non-pagan healers into the group that breaks that assumption and we either need to rename the group or add additional information to the descriptions so that it is clear there are or could be non-pagans in the circle. Renaming can be difficult, especially in Facebook, and to rename something changes it too so those that are already in the circle would have to decide if the new circle is something they still want to be a part of so for those reasons I didn’t want to rename the circle.

Many people do not read full information on a range of things or may not take in all the information even if they do read it but act on assumptions that come from names and summaries. Adding  information about having non-pagan healers would be no guarantee that it would be read and taken in.  

So far I haven’t come across any pagans that have any problem with healing being sent to them by non-pagans but I have to assume that just as I know Christians that are not happy to have healing from non Christians there will be some Pagans who wouldn’t be happy about discovering healing is coming from non-pagans.  I have come across Pagans in the past that feel quite strongly anti certain other faiths for various personal reasons so I have to assume that they might not be happy for healing to be sent to them by non-pagans.  If they approached us with the name of “Pagan Healing Circle” it would not be unreasonable for them to expect the healers to be Pagan.  I could have chosen to go back to every person that makes a request and ask them individually if they would mind a non-pagan healer being involved but that would be a lot of extra work for me to do and frankly I don’t think it would go down very well with those requesting healing to be put in a position of having to answer that type of question.

The final reason for saying no is that to say yes would set a precedent that may backfire at a later date and cause more problems than I would realistically want to deal with.

This has been a hard decision to make because as a result I have to disappoint a friend who all unwittingly has opened this discussion up.  Perhaps I should have thought of this possibility when I originally developed my ideas for the healing circle but I had not and none of those I discussed my initial ideas with raised it as a possibility with me either.  I guess we just didn’t think it through well enough.

The Pagan Healing Circle remains a group of Pagans of various paths sending healing to any that ask for it.

Conference review for Brighid: Her Flame Burns Brightly 27 Jan 2018

“Brighid: Her Flame Burns Brightly” was an online conference organized and hosted by Land Sea Sky Travel as the first in a series of conferences. The series is called “A Year With The Gods” and they have plans for online conferences spaced through the year close to the more commonly recognized Pagan festivals.

As I have had a devotional relationship with Brigantia for many years I decided that trying to attend this online conference should be a good experience for me with the added benefit of devoting time to Her that day.  I was however a bit nervous as I had not experienced this type of online conference before.  I needn’t have worried.

The software used was Zoom which has a freely available client for a participant.  The software has some good support information and I didn’t have any problems with downloading the client or testing my set up.  The organisers of the conference were also available via email and Facebook with advice in the days before the conference.

As the conference organizers are based in the United Stated of America the timings of the conference were very understandable picked with the Sates in mind.  Saying that the welcome pack emailed out before the event had a detailed schedule for the day including timings in three different time zones.  I was both impressed and very pleased with this level of information and it made things much easier for me to organize.  There were a number of nice extras sent out with the welcome pack too including a couple of short stories, a couple of chants and a couple of links to suppliers of relevant goods and services.

On to the day itself.

For me the conference started at 3.30 in the afternoon.  Getting into the correct location was straightforward and everything seemed to be working very well.  Our main host for the day, Vyviane Armstrong, provided clear information and repeated basic housekeeping type information throughout the day for those that joined at different times.  Tech support was on hand through out the day too and while I was aware of some minor glitches happening problems were dealt with swiftly and efficiently with a good sense of humor kept throughout.  I was very impressed with the entire organizational operation and I would expect that things will only improve as the series of conferences continues.

The opening devotions were carried out by Andrea Maxwell who sang a beautiful chant for us. The day was underway.

The first presenter was Lora O’Brien not someone I was familiar with although that’s true for a lot of people so please don’t take any particular meaning from that.  Lora spoke about her experiences with Brighid and took up all on a guided journey to meet Brighid.  Her voice was clear and very enjoyable to listen to, the journey was a delight.  I particularly enjoyed the use of a boat as guide for part of the journey, this reminded me of many tales from both Scotland and Ireland.  It also reminded me of the little boat in the Wizard of EarthSea quartet by Ursula Le Guin.  Interestingly I had a name from my little boat, Wayfinder, and I hope I see it again in other journeys. I also found it interesting that where Lora described working areas in Brighid’s place that were slightly messy with works in progress I saw areas that had been tidied up, work finished for the day and things in their place for when they were next needed.  I’m sure that says more about me than anything.

The next presenter was Gemma McGowan who spoke eloquently about her experiences serving Brighid as a priestess.  Unfortunately I had to sort out my daughter’s tea during that talk so could only dip in and out.  One of the advantage of this style of conference though is that the sessions are recorded and will be sent out to all the participants so although I missed some of Gemma’s talk at the time I will be able to listen to it again and pick a time when I am not going to be interrupted.  I know she shared something of her experiences in seership and trance possession which is something I have a little experience of myself with a different Goddess so I am particularly looking forward to being able to properly listen to what Gemma shared during her talk.

The conference then had a short break and a giveaway draw.  The break was also an interesting experience as participants had the option to turn on mics and videos for a little bit.  It got a bit chaotic.

Following the break we had our Keynote speaker, Morgan Daimler. Morgan is a well known author and presenter and I was delighted that this conference would give me the opportunity to hear her speak.  She confessed to being a bit nervous at the start of her talk as it was the first time she had presented at an online conference.  I could see the nerves but I could also see her swiftly relax as she began to speak. Morgan spoke about her work with the original old Irish texts translating and digging for references of Brighid.  While I was familiar with much of what she spoke about some information was either completely new to me or had simply not stuck when I read Morgan’s book on Brigid. In particular that the earliest mentions in the texts are of a single Goddess, the triple Brighid comes later in time.  Also that the earliest form in the Irish texts was very likely to have been thought of as Brighid the Poet.  That’s poet in the old Irish sense of an incredibly highly trained and skilled individual with a huge collection of lore, poems and stories stored within their memory.  It was a very interesting talk.

Straight after that talk was a panel discussion.  A range of questions were put to the presenters who shared their experiences and opinions.  Participants were also encouraged to share responses in the chat room which remained pen throughout the conference.

After another break we heard from Mael Brigde who founded the flame tending group Daughters of the Flame in 1993.  She shared with us the history of that group which I found fascinating and what a lovely piece of synchronicity that the Daughters of Flame lit their first flame tending candle on the very same day that the Brigidine sisters relit the sacred flame at Kildare. Neither group being aware of the other doing so at that time.  Meal Brigde spoke beautifully about her experiences and both the history and practicalities of flame tending within the Daughters of the Flame.  She also sang two chants for us, both simply lovely.

By the time Mael Brigde’s talk ended it was 11.30 in the evening for me and I was very tired so it was at that point that I quietly left the conference, shot down my laptop and went to bed.  The conference itself went on with another presenter and I look forward to listening to her talk in the future when it is sent out to participants.

I really enjoyed my day taking part in this online conference.  I was a little disappointed not to be able to hear more of how the speakers felt Brigantia fits into the assorted Brigidine lore as I connect best with Brigantia.  I was also a little disappointed not to hear from any male presenters during the day.  There were male participants but a male perspective in the conference did seem a little lacking to me.  These however are minor points.  No conference pleases everyone all the time.

Over all I felt this conference was exceptionally well run with some wonderfully chosen speakers.  I am very pleased I made the decision to attend this first conference in the series.  I am not sure how many of the others I might attend but I can see at least two that interest me from just the titles.

I know from experience of running face to face conferences in the past what a great deal of work goes into conference organization. My heartfelt thanks and congratulations go to all those involved in the planning and organizing of this very well run and presented conference.

Further details of the plans for the future conferences will be available on the Land Sea Sky Facebook page





Hugs Offered

Lovely to be quoted and a post well worth sharing 😊

Wibbly Wobbly, Neuro-UNlogical Stuff

(Screenshot used with permission)

I don’t remember when it was, sometime in the past 5 years I think, when I first noticed the ((hugs)) thing written in replies on forums or facebook posts as an expression of support and reassurance when the right words could not be found. I thought it was a lovely thing and I started doing it myself. Over the next two years, if you only knew me online you would have thought I was a very touchy, huggy person based on all the times I responded to someone with the ((hugs)). In real life, I am not that way. In fact, my husband likes to nicely tease about my incredibly short “Hug List” of people who I actually enjoy hugging. It includes the people I live with and one other person. Then there are people I will accept hugs from but always feel awkward about it…

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Snow, Icy and Anxiety

This week we have had quite a bit of snow.  As usual the snow gets compressed by the passage of people on pavements and cars on the roads and surfaces become icy.  Snow looks lovely but I don’t really like it.  I know it can be fun to play in the snow especially if you are wrapped up nice and warm, my daughter adores it. I don’t and I think it’s probably because with snow there is more ice and I hate icy conditions.

This week the weather has disrupted normal routines.  Tuesday was the worst day with local road, even the main ones, becoming gridlocked.  My kids both get school transport provided, every day for my son and at the moment two days a week for my daughter. My son’s transport was about 40 minutes later than usual which isn’t bad compared to some problems that day.  My daughter’s transport didn’t show at all because they got stuck somewhere. Eventually we took her to school ourselves much later in the morning, my husband doing the driving, and by that time traffic was flowing reasonably well.  We picked her up from school that afternoon slightly early again with my husband driving.  If he hadn’t been home doing work on our bathroom we wouldn’t have gone anywhere because I feel far to nervous about driving in that level of snow and ice.

Wednesday main roads were much better but the street outside our home is not a main road and it was still covered in compressed snow and ice.  My son’s transport was still late but not as bad as the day before.  My husband drove my daughter and I to her school and I walked her into her entry point while my husband stayed with the car.  By the afternoon things were looking a bit better.  There had been a touch of a thaw and some grit had been spread on our street now but pavements were still icy.

That evening the forecast was bad, particularly for areas further south and east than us with further snow and wind forecast during the night.  And it would be a little below freezing during the night too so more ice!  I cancelled plans I had made before all this snow to go out and meet a friend the following morning. I was too nervous about what the weather would bring.  Our area didn’t get more snow overnight.  Local roads first thing this morning were icy in places but not too bad.  School transport turned up on time for both kids.  I’m beginning to feel better but still anxious.

When my son was only a few months old I fell on an icy street on the way to work.  The fall didn’t seem that bad at the time but I wrenched my back.  I had six months of back pain after that fall and walking to work became too painful for that period of time.  Eventually I had some treatment from an osteopath and that helped the injured area to finally heal.

Not long after I had finally passed a driving test I bumped into the back of another car because I couldn’t stop my car due to ice on the road.  I was going very slowly but that feeling of being completely unable to stop what I could see was going to happen stayed with me.  No one was hurt at all, both cars got bit scratched but nothing worse than that. But it scared me.  I have remained nervous of icy roads.  I can manage it it’s only icy patches but the last few days our street has been much worse than icy in patches.

My anxiety in this weather is founded on very real fears but I still feel I should be able to manage better.  I recognise those feelings of inadequacy are also part of the anxiety but…


And I turn to thoughts of my ancestors through the ages. The cold weather, the arrival of  snow, the fear of icy footing.  Many, if not all, would have felt these things. Injuries are more common in icy conditions, healing from anything takes longer. Outdoor tasks are harder and take longer. Water can freeze over and before the mains water supplies we often take for granted frozen water supplies could be a big problem. And keeping warm also became much, much harder.  I believe fear and anxiety during winter conditions would have been common to my ancestors.  I am not alone.