Potia Pitchford defies explanation

I’m dead! Wonderfully so!

The Hopeless Vendetta

By Frampton Jones

Potia Pitchford will no doubt be remembered for her kindness. She was a quiet person, too easily overlooked amidst the dramas of island life. The good she did will linger on.  It makes a rather nice change to imagine something lingering on in a non-sinister way and without distinct connotations of threat.

Hers was an odd departure, to say the least. Numerous eyewitnesses have largely agreed over what happened, and I will share their combined story to the best of my ability.

You may recall the most recent shipwreck was largely a washing ashore of bits of wood, with little semblance of boat and no apparent survivors. We haven’t even had any bits of bodies to bury from this one. There are however, quite a few extra nails, which is always a source of excitement.

Potia was in the party responding to the shipwreck. She usually has…

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Who is a poet? A Review of Gatherer of Souls by Lorna Smithers

Lorna is someone I’m fortunate to know so delighted to share this lovely review of her recent book.

British Druid Order Blog

Who is a poet? Not hard. A poet sees beneath the surface of things, and brings back the stories and songs of the world behind the world.

When I was given the opportunity to review Lorna Smithers’ Gatherer of Souls, I jumped at the chance. I was somewhat familiar with her work through blog posts and references here and there but, you know how it is, time and preoccupations constrain one’s attention in certain directions. So I had never actually read her books or poetry in the ‘sit down’, with the attention that a poet requires. So I was not prepared for just how extraordinary I would find this book.

I’ve read and told the tale of Culhwch and Olwen many times, yet never wept for Goleuddydd. And if that were all, it would be enough. But there was so much more.

This is a book that crystallises years of…

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Struggling on

Last August I set some intentions and a couple of months later I wrote a little about my progress in some general musings. I’m still struggling with one aspect of those intentions and that’s getting back to writing.

I finished knitting another shawl for the end of the old year, a nice snuggly one that I can wrap around me and the at the back. My first knitting project of the new year was a new hat with some very colourful yarn.

I’m now working on a pair of socks and I have a shawl to knit for a friend. I’m also planning a simple blanket to use the acrylic yarn I’ve inherited from my mum. So the knitting is progressing quite well.

I’ve found a community style choir to join that meets during a weekday afternoon. I started going to that at the end of October. It’s called Sing aLoud and I really enjoy it. I got my dad along to it as well as he enjoys singing although he’d never been in a choir before. 

I also had another tattoo done towards the end of October that links my singing to my devotions. I wanted a devotional tattoo of some kind but symbols become complicated and then I came up with this which links to all my gods.

I’ve done a few bits of writing but still not really got back into it. I’ve also been struggling a lot with low moods and tearful days during December, especially the so called holiday season. It’s now two weeks into the school term and I’m being to get back into routines which does help. I’ve now downloaded the WordPress app on my Kindle and I’m hoping that will encourage me to begin to write here more often. I’m hoping that if I get back into blogging more often I will then feel more able to return to writing the book I began at Samhain 2017. I keep thinking of ways to begin writing some of the chapters I still need to write but never actually sitting down with my laptop and starting to write.

I’ve put on some weight in the last couple of months. I comfort eat. I know I do this and why but stopping it is easier said than done especially when I’m struggling with my moods. So I’ve decided to try and do a bit more exercise in the hope that doing that will help me feel better and reduce the amount I turn to comfort eating. Hopefully the longer hours of daylight will also have a positive effect on me. I don’t get seasonal affective disorder as such but light levels may be a contributing factor. I’m aiming to start swimming again as I used to swim  regularly a few years ago and enjoyed it. I’m in the process of investigating local swimming pools to find one that’s both reasonably close and that I feel reasonably comfortable going to. Longer term I will then start watching what I eat more carefully again but I want to start exercising more and improving my overall mood first.
On the RDA front I continue to love my time there, so much so that I’ve signed up to start learning how to be a coach for the RDA. That means I’m continuing to learn new skills and gaining a real sense of achievement. Speaking of which I was stunned and delighted to be awarded the RDA Glasgow Group volunteer of the year award for 2018. I have a lovely big trophy to look after this year and a smaller one I get to keep.

Writing this has been good for me. I’ve been struggling with my moods so much recently but in writing about these things I can see there are several positive things happening too. Sometimes when we are struggling it’s really hard to remember the good things. 

The Two Chalices Ritual

A beautiful alternative to the usual Wiccan style blessing.

Dowsing for Divinity

One of the rituals of inclusive Wicca is the two chalices ritual. This has evolved over a couple of decades to become something more than I originally envisaged, as is often the way with traditions, which are evolving and fluid. It started life as a ritual for women-loving-women, and evolved into a ritual for everyone, but retaining its original symbolism.

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The aftermath of a difficult situation

This post will touch on themes some readers may feel are uncomfortable.  In particular the use of restraint for esoteric or erotic purposes – better known as bondage.

I will make it plain here that I have very little knowledge of bondage or any aspect of BDSM practices. The topic came up recently in a druid forum and I need to express some of my thoughts on the situation that resulted.

Essentially a member of a forum I am on brought up the topic of BDSM and bondage in particular in relation to a new practice he was developing that combined aspects of shamanic journeying with light bondage.  He explained something of what he was trying to do and asked if anyone would be interested in learning more.  He framed this topic in a manner that was familiar to him as someone who had been involved in aspects of BDSM for several years.  He posted this in a forum space that was set up for heated discussion and on a board that prides itself on being a “safe” space for members to express their different forms of Druid practice.  I presume he felt that he should be “safe” to introduce this topic and as it’s usually a quiet board leave it for a few days before coming back to see if there were any responses.

Sadly his post was not received well by several members.  Reactions were heated and hostile with one of the worst responses accusing him of breaking the law and causing harm, while another severe response accusing him of trying to solicit sexual partners.

I was frankly shocked by the heat of the responses.

The original poster was asked to clarify his intentions with his opening post and when he didn’t immediately appear to do so there were further heated replies.  This is a board where usual interactions are considered and thoughtful, where it is not unusual to have days between responses and yet there was an expectation that for this topic the poster should be there straight away to respond.

It wasn’t that long before the poster did respond and I felt he did so very well.  He accepted people had been upset and apologised.  He explained himself eloquently in my opinion but still the heated responses continued.  He chose to remove his post as there were several responses on the thread saying it should be removed and that took the responses with it.  Another member tried to start a thread for healing from the situation but that too became heated with members now expressing anger that the thread had been removed even though that was what they had said they wanted.

None of these individuals seemed to give the original poster the benefit of the doubt.  He had been judged and found wanting merely because he had raised a controversial topic and perhaps not phrased things as carefully as he might have done at another time.  But he probably thought he would be safe in this space to raise this without tiptoeing around the subject.  And indeed why should he have to tiptoe around it anyway?

The conflict, and therefore the original poster as the start of the situation, were likened to Islamic radicals and white fundamentalists  in one post, to a murderer in another, just because he had shocked some members of this space.  Some stated they no longer felt “safe” there because of what he had raised.  I’m not sure I feel safe there having witnessed all these heated reactions.  Who will they turn on next and why?

And then there’s my own feelings of confusion over all this.  Did I do enough by witnessing this the way I did?  Did I speak up clearly enough? Should I have said more, done more, to defend this man?  Did he need defending?  Will he feel this space is “safe” for him to continue in.

I do know this person a bit and I know that he has a hard won strong sense of personal identity.  This isn’t the first time he has experienced reactions like this from what I understand so hopefully he will weather the storm reasonably well.

Did I stand by my own principles well enough?  I’m not sure.  I didn’t let my anger and growing disgust at the responses I was reading get the better of me so that’s good.  I did write something in support of the original poster so at least I spoke up to some extent.  Should I have done more?  Realistically could I have done more?  I don’t really know.

I’m not upset by the thought of someone using BDSM practices as part of their own religious practice.  I’m a self diagnosed autistic with sensory needs that mean I often seek really tight hugs and even being pinned down.  It’s not that much of a stretch to go from the feelings of relaxation I get from deep pressure to accepting that bondage can lead to a change in consciousness especially when handled in a way to enhance that sort of effect.  I don’t have a clue how that might look practically but that’s not the point, I can trust that this man knows what he is doing.

I accept other definitions of what it is to walk a Druid path.  I listen to other points of view and think carefully before I respond.  I expected those in the forum this took place in to do the same, to think carefully, to give the benefit of the doubt, to respect alternative practices and views.  I am still upset that so many didn’t do that, that so many didn’t seem to take that step back and seek further information before reaction so strongly.  And at the moment I am less likely to share my thoughts and practices in that space because of what happened.

 

Where to start…

I have so many thoughts running around my head.  So many ideas chasing each other about like screaming kids in a busy playground. I think I get hold of one and then it slips from my grasp, another thought totally unrelated to the first jumps to the front and then dashes off again.  How do I pin these things down?

I don’t.

This is my mind. This is how I am, jumping from one idea to the next.

I’m a Druid and a self confessed tree hugger. I’m a polytheist. Today is Friday. Hail Epona! I miss the stables. Will I have time to sort out the volunteer voices section on their website once we start back after the spring break.  How am I going to keep my head together while the kids are off. Rowan is studying pretty well, so proud of him! The hair dye worked well on Rose’s hair, have you ever seen such bright yellow hair?

Rose's hair

Breathe.

Pause.

This is who I am. Writing forces me to slow my thoughts down, to hold onto one idea more carefully while the others continue to run round.

Am I the only one that does this?

How do I connect with others with all this running round?

I don’t.

They said I could get better. That I didn’t meet diagnostic criteria! That I would be able to improve how I am around others. This is who I am.  I have learnt new ways to manage the social anxiety but…

Did you know April is also PMDD awareness month?  I wonder how many other things are in April?

PMDD – “Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition in which a woman has severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than those seen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)”

Severe – do you know what that means?  It means thoughts of suicide. Lashing out with uncontrolled rage.  Here look it up: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd

My cats are eating, the smell of the food is crawling up my nose!

I… I… I…  Who am I now? What am I? Do I meet your expectations? I need to know I am doing ok? I need to meet someone’s expectations.

I flick my nail against my finger, it makes a an odd scraping sound, sometimes I dig the nail in, relishing that sensation of sharp pressure.

It’s raining outside. The rain drums on the conservatory roof. I love that sound. I find it soothing and relaxing.  My mind slows a little more.

I have another week of school holidays to go and then I can get back to my routines.

First there is the Druid Network AGM. It’s not as formal as most AGMs and has a fair  bit of socialising but last time I took the minutes and I get to do it this time too. That helps me. I have a job then, a purpose. I need purpose in my life.

Shall I post this?  Do you need to see this? What I’m really like?

 

Autism Acceptance. This is who I am.

 

Heart in my mouth I hit publish.