Archive for 26 January 2020

Seeker, Devotee, Bard, Awenydd

Those of you who don’t already know and follow Lorna Smithers’ excellent blog may want to read her latest post, a lovely meditative poem she follows with a brief comment. “Hour One — Candlelit Illumination” conveys a feel for what we do when we listen, when we approach and sense spirit, when we follow through on vows, when we dedicate ourselves to a spiritual path. “I have no temple”, she writes. “Only a candle …” And that’s spiritual plenitude.

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bede-winter

“It was winter’s tide, and the winter was grim and cold and frosty and with ice bound …”, writes Bede (672-735) in the Old English translation of his Latin History. But we really don’t need a translation in this case, especially with the visual of my snowy backyard about a week or so ago. Across more than a millennium, ancestors are speaking in older languages as well as newer ones, reminding us of a vast pool of shared experiences.

As we become ancestors ourselves, what are we contributing? (Does that feel like a difficult or awkward question?)

Sometimes it’s survival. We may not credit ourselves enough for that, but it’s a signal accomplishment all its own. (The Ancestors are cheering!) We’re still here. Yes, we may be losing things along the way — hair, dreams, relationships, sanity. But bards make sure we remember this turn of the spiral, too, not that we’re likely to forget — as we gain survivor’s wisdom, and survivor’s grace.

You know that grace when you meet it, more easily in another person than in yourself, sometimes. The other person looking into your eyes knows, and their eyes tell you they know — if you know. Then that mutual recognition flares up between you. They too are “acquainted with the night“, to shout out to another bard. And in spite of all, they’re still here.

No, we haven’t (yet) lost ourselves, though Things seem determined to tug pieces of us off and away. After the bigger tugs, you arrive back in your life like flotsam on a strange shore, unsure of your footing, the light, the press of earth beneath your feet, the weight and substance of your own flesh. You feel strange to yourself, as if you’re in your dream body. (And that’s precisely where you are, like you always have been. Now you just notice it a little more.)

Lorna documents her intense experience of a “winter of harsh descent” as she dedicates herself to her patron deity, in a second post from a year ago, which you can find here. The spiritual intangibles that arise from such experiences are things few other people may recognize in you, or be able to hear if you try to talk about them. But the Ancestors know them very well, and make a good audience. (They’re playing the Long Game, after all.) A journal entry, a poem, a song, a prayer, a meditation, a moment of silence “in their direction” — whatever level of dedication you offer, they will welcome.

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I’m slow to answer to the vision from Thecu, or intuition or hallucination or whatever it was and is, and its directives. Slow, but I get there — partly because I’m curious. (If I build it, will she come?) The goddess certainly can’t count on me for very much, at least not yet. But outdoors in the snow for a few days of purification, I’ve set the metal sheet on which I’ll inscribe her runes. Tomorrow I’ll bring it in.

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