Keeper of Secrets

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Image of badger hand carved from driftwood

New life I have been given
Carved and shaded
Shaped with delicate detail
Spirit reborn from dreams

I grew tall in a forest
Whispered with my siblings
Felt the rain and sun
Breathed deep

I fell into a river
Tumbled and bounced along
An otter played with me
Then left me to the sea

I soaked in the waters
Felt the sun’s warmth
Was swept into currents
Travelled with the tides

Washed up on a shore
I waited…

Found and taken
I waited…

I dreamed and waited
Mysteries of the land
Secrets of the sea
Wonders of the star lit sky

I dreamed of a cub
Grey in the night sky
Snuffling at the roots
Buried beneath me

I dreamed of a badger
Walking the land
She felt my dream
And I took form

I whisper to another
Of mysteries and wonders
For I am reborn
As Keeper of Secrets

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Second image of badger hand carved from driftwood

Badger beautifully hand carved by Of half imagnined things

Words by me.

Rebirth

We went out the other weekend exploring Glen Lochay near Killin in Pethshire. We chose that area because of something Neil had read about Creag Na Callich which overlooks Glen Lochay and because I had been feeling the need to seek out the Ancient One in the land.

Several years ago the wooden hammer that had been given into my care and used since in ritual had been destroyed by my ex-husband. That hammer was dedicated to An Cailleach and I still feel it’s loss. I had been thinking about this a fair bit recently and felt that something wasn’t resolved between An Cailleach and I over this loss. I felt I had to know if I needed to make some form of reparation to Her for the hammer’s loss and my failure to anticipate my ex-husband’s behaviour.

The first snows were on the mountain tops and much of the colour lower down was of late autumn. I had offerings with me of whisky and oatmeal. We drove along the Glen stopping from time to time to explore something or for Neil to take some photos. I was seeking for something, somewhere I could feel An Cailleach and commune with Her. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, just that I’d know if I found it. If I didn’t find that something then I would need to do more, If I found that something then I hoped things would become clearer for me.

At one point we spotted something unusual. We stopped and went for a closer look. We had found something, something quite special. Closer to the river on the other side of the field I found a place that called to me, a tiny island forming just by the river bank. A place of magic that sang to me and my heart filled with wonder. I poured out part of my offerings there. Then I returned to the centre of the field and the tree that was growing there.

I have seen trees growing out of cracks in rocks and cliffs. I’ve seen trees of one species growing out of another older living tree of a different species but I’d never seen something like this before. A stump of what must have been a pretty old tree was still connected to the large rocks it had grown on top of and between. Growing on the top of that stump were several types of mosses and lichens and in the midst of them a silver birch tree. As I walked round this gazing in wonder at this a single word resounded like a bell in my head. “Rebirth!”

I gave more of my offerings there in that place beside that tree.

Glen Lochay - renewal

Later in the day we walked part way up the route out of the other end of Glen Lochay in a route that leads towards Glen Lyon, we didn’t have time to do more that go part way up. Before we turned back I made my final offerings in a place that looked back along the Glen towards Creag Na Callich among other peaks.

I sought An Cailleach and She had answered me.

We took a slightly different route out of the Glen towards Killin and in the dusk as we came towards a couple of fields we saw a herd of red deer. There were a couple of stags, one clearly more dominant as he chased off others bellowing at them, and about forty does. A wonderful end to our visit to Glen Lochay.

 

All photos thanks to Neil Pitchford, Awen photos

Away with the Fairies

“Pause”, they said.  “Take time to reflect”.

“Can you hear the call?” Asks a voice.
“Will you answer?” Whispers the wind in the trees.
“Where will it lead you?” Words felt more than heard.
“What gift will be yours? What price?” Voices ripple with the water.

A journey begun with beech and oak to the sound of blackbird song.  A wide and bramble lined path followed through birch woods with silence falling about us.  A muddy branch taken leading onto a darker path, twisting and turning past trees and over shallow streamlets.  A destination found among the hazel trees.

Confirmation sought and a sign received.  Spirits asked and permission given. A bridge crossed.  A gift of acorns fallen in my path.

Climbing down into water rushing past me.  Careful steps taken past the realm of trolls.  A faery realm I entered. A call I heard to drink and I did. I drank of faery waters and ecstasy poured into my soul. Laughter erupted from my voice, flowed like the waters around my feet, pouring into the air, echoing into the land.

No room for pain or sorrow.

Fairy Bridge, 16 Sept 2017
Fairy Bridge, Glen Creran, 16 Sept 2017

Calm returned I left the waters, treading with care among the rocks. I sang my gratitude and climbed up once more.

I sat by the bridge and sang to the land then wandered once more among the hazel trees.

Blessed with a gift of hazel nut I returned.

Muddy path retrod we walked back to grass covered, bramble-lined path among the birch trees. Berries tasted, rich tang of autumn.

Eyes treated to dappled light on mountain side we returned to woods of oak and beech once more.  A journey over.

And half an hour later, pain felt. A price taken but delayed for a time.

Bridey’s Gift

Your beauty drew me close.
I reached out, gently touched you,
Gazed on you, mesmerised.

Silently I asked to draw closer.
Deep inside I felt your welcome.

I crept down beneath your sheltering skirts.
Sat, curled, at your feet,
Felt your life surround me.

Deep breath of wild garlic.
River laughter and spring bird song.

I closed my eyes to better feel your embrace.
My spirit slowly rose within me,
My soul let drop my burdens.

Triple tree woven into one.
Your gift to help me be.

me and tree
Embraced
looking up
Feeling
Being
Being

 Photos by Neil Pitchford, Awen Photos

Seeking Summer

Flash of iridescent blue catches my eye
Damselflies dance round me.
Fat bumblebee hums towards a golden flag
Crawls into the vibrant flower.
Sweet chorus of bird song cascades
while sun’s heat warms my back.
I visit Aspen that called me once before
Walk through long damp grass to the foot
Companions grow round about
Oak, Ash and Thorn.
I recognise now a place of the sidhe
A single word resounds in my mind – Leave!
I move away, then turn and speak
“I meant no harm to come among you.
No offence was meant.”
Leaves whisper in the stillness.
I move on, watch the Heron stalking,
Swiftly strike, then slowly pace on.
Deer coat gleams with bronze lights
I am watched as I watch.
Moth fluttering, caught near thistles
Wing damaged yet freed he flies on.
I hunt summer and find delicate moments
Strung like glowing beads on a necklace.

Experiences with Yew

Like many with an interest in druidry (and that is where I started in Paganism) I have a fondness for trees and am a self confessed tree hugger.  One type of tree which has continually fascinated me over the years is the Yew.  I first did a meditation to commune with the spirit of Yew in September 1999 after a Spirit of the North Gathering (SONG) at Ford castle in Northumbria and an experience there of singing under some yew trees.

On that first meditation with Yew I met two spirits one male and one female whose appearance kept changing from young to old and back again.  At that time this was very disorientating for me so I asked them to take on one form and they picked the appearance of an old woman and old man with twinkling young eyes.  They seemed somehow ageless and yet ancient at the same time.  Their message for me at that time was about the importance of living in the present moment.  The past and future were important yes, but if you dwell too much on either you forget to make the most of your present.  It’s a lesson that I continually try and keep in mind.

I will admit that I haven’t done much further meditation with Yew since that time but I have often spent a bit of time communing with yew trees I have come across.  I have also used parts of yew trees in healing spells for others from time to time.

Recently the yew tree has been making its presence felt in my life in a different way.

When I visited north Wales in early May our host, Stephen, took us on a walk along a river and past the ruins of a village (written about in Brython gathering May 2011 which was a visit at the end of May to the same place).  Near those ruins I was pulled towards a yew tree.  I stood beneath it’s branches and reached out to touch it.  I asked it for cleansing and healing of some of the negativity I was experiencing at that time. As I did so I began to feel a welling up of energy inside me, it grew within me centred around my heart and then erupted out of me as if I was being sick.  This happened three times with the physical effects of the third time in particular making me double over and practically retch it was so powerful.  After that I moved away from under the branches shaking like a leaf myself.  When I had recovered a bit I moved in again and offered some water near the roots of the tree.

I visited that tree again when I returned to the area for the Brython gathering but at that time the effects with the yew were not the same – probably because I had already undergone a powerful cleansing ritual not long before visiting the tree.

Last weekend I had the opportunity of visiting the Fortingall Yew.  It wasn’t a planned visit, I was actually up visiting the Scottish Crannog Centre and while there discovered that the Fortingall Yew was only 7 miles away so naturally made a detour to see it.  While this beautiful ancient tree is now protected by a wall and railings you can still get close enough to it to touch its outermost branches and it was a privilege to be in the presence of what is described as the oldest living thing in Europe.  I didn’t reach out to it with anything in particular in mind, I just wanted to say hello.  I didn’t expect what happened.  In a similar way to my experience in Wales energy started to gather within me centred around my heart.  I was able to use the wall and railings as support as this energy was pulled out of me again as if I was being sick.  Again I physically felt as if I was about to retch and was pulled over towards the wall.  This happened twice and it it was pretty powerful both times.

The Fortingall Yew


It seems that there is something within me that the yew tree is cleansing me of, probably emotional in nature I suspect.   I had to move further away from the tree for a bit but when I had recovered a little I moved closer and tied a small thread of wool I had handspun earlier that day to a branch as a gift in return for the cleansing.

I am grateful to the yew for these experiences and for what seems to be a purging or cleansing but I wish that the effects of it were a little less physical!  I intend to try and fit in a shamanic style journey in the near future to speak to a yew spirit about these experiences as I suspect there is more to be learned.