Bardic skills?

During my work with the druid order I never thought of myself as a bard. I always thought I was more aligned with the Ovate work, healing modalities, working with trees and plants. But looking back at what I have done and still do in my life I am beginning to think about my bardic skills.

I have always been a musician, I learned to play the piano at the age of seven and still play seventy years later. In the early years of my teaching career I composed the music for songs for children and remember being interviewed on the local radio while the children sang.

Since I was at school I have always sketched or painted and still do. But what is new over the last 20 years is the fact that I now also write. I have written several books, some of poetry and some about druidry while others are about local and family history.

Looking back at some of the poetry I wrote about twenty years ago I see that much of it also carries a message. Around the year 1999 and also in 2000 I set some of the poetry to music and made a CD. I have been looking at that recently and seeing that I can do better now where the music is concerned so I am busy re-arranging the songs so they have a piano accompaniment. I am also looking at setting other poems to music.

To me these are definitely bardic skills even though I never thought of them that way before. So here is a poem taken from one of my books and a photo taken early this morning.

The hope of Spring

Watching the new spring leaves unfurl
Gives me hope in a chaotic world;
New growth springs from the dark
Of the winter and makes its mark.

Signs of growth are everywhere,
The birds and trees all doing their share.
So in this dark material world
Is there light ready to be unfurled?

Can we look inside our hearts today
To find a better more spiritual way?
To live without such ugly greed
And only have what we truly need.

We do not need large houses and cars;
We do not need to travel to Mars;
Some clothes and food and a rainproof roof
Are really, truly, quite enough.

So watch the new spring growth today
And think about a spiritual way
To live your life with love and care
And cherish all, if you dare!

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Spring – cleaning time

There are signs of spring around me. I have seen lots of hazel catkins and the snowdrops and anemones are in flower in my garden. I love this time of the year. The hours of daylight are getting longer and there seems to be much more sunshine. Everything seems brighter too. I can see the birds pairing off and singing to each other getting ready for mating later on.

But this brings me to the cleaning bit. I have been busy, with help from a friend, doing a spring clean around the house. Cobwebs and dust have been banished, furniture polished and the windows cleaned. The old stale energy has been replaced with new clean energy and everything feels so much better. I have a spring in my step too. I feel energised and ready to do lots of things.

But it is also a time when you can declutter and get rid of things you no longer need. But where do these things go? In the UK we have shops runs by various charities who will take your used clothes, ornaments, books, CDs and some will take furniture. This is one way of recycling. Something you no longer need might be just the thing someone else wants. I like to call these items preloved.

Many of us have items that are broken. Can you repair these or know someone who can? Even if you no longer need that item if it is repaired it will be of use to someone else. We have a throw-away society now. Earlier this week I overheard someone asking if anybody knew of a person who would repair a washing machine. The various answers followed the lines of repairs would cost far more than the washing machine was worth and it would be cheaper to buy a new one. This is the world we live in and it is not good. Items such as washing machines should be made to last and be repaired if necessary. There are large scrap heaps full of electrical items such as cookers, washing machine and fridges. What happens to them?

I was reading the other day about the rare ‘minerals’ used in mobile phones and how they are becoming hard to find. Yet we throw old phones away when a new one comes on the market to buy. Spring is a time to think about what we are doing, how we can stop polluting our earth by repairing items, giving to charities and not being persuaded to buy the latest gadget.

So Spring is in the air energising us, please use that energy wisely and think about what you buy and what you throw away.

A new year

I have been looking at the dates of New Years in different parts of the world and in different faiths. New Year here is January 1st although centuries ago it was at the beginning of April or end of March. The Inland Revenue still uses April 5th as the start of the financial year.

Many other countries have a different date for the new year. Chinese New Year is between January 21st and February 21st, for example. A quick look at Wikipedia will give you lots more examples.

Many pagan faiths take Samhain as their New Year. The Samhain festival is celebrated on 1st November. Others take the Winter Solstice as the start of their New Year. I used to feel that that date was quite appropriate as it is when the days begin to get longer again. But then I started to look at how I felt during those months after the Winter Solstice, the months of January and February for example. January is still cold, after all it is winter time here in the UK but there is a glimmer of Spring on the horizon. We are now getting towards the end of January and I feel that I am now starting my New Year. I see bulbs sprouting through the earth, There is generally more sunshine and everything seems brighter.

February 1st is the festival of Imbolc. It is also known as St. Brighids Day. For me Brighid symbolises the advent of Spring so I am going to claim February 1st as the start of my New Year. I am feeling more awake and ready to do things. I have started to create more music and art work and am getting ready to work on other projects. So yes, I am starting my New Year soon. How do you feel about this? Do you have different dates for your New Year?

A good week

The sun has been shining and I am sure that makes us all feel better. I certainly do and getting out in the country park has helped as well. Planned visits to the doctors have also brought me what I needed, an injection in my wrist next week to help me cope with the arthritis which makes writing and doing anything in the home difficult. So all good overall.

Yesterday was spent in the garden with my son, mowing the grass and planting more plants. A walk in the country park followed, me on my scooter though but still very enjoyable.

I have watched the hedge get greener over the last week and it is now almost completely green. The birds are busy chasing each other and building nests. There are butterflies too, small tortoiseshells and some white ones that might just be female orange tips. While cutting the grass a frog jumped out. He had a lucky escape but the area where he was is very marshy and in fact was almost a pond. My son saw a grass snake in the country park and the trees there are in full blossom like the one in my garden.

It is a wonderful time of the year when nature awakes and starts to show us her glory. I feel so blessed to be in this new home and to be able to enjoy it as well. Being in nature is so nurturing and revitalises my soul. I hope you enjoy being in nature as much as I do. Today will be a lazier day but I shall spend time watching the birds and butterflies in the garden and enjoying doing just that. The simple pleasures in life are often the best.

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Extreme weather

We seem to be getting more periods of extreme weather in the last few years. These range from snow and ice to floods and extreme heat. Last week it was warm and sunny and a definite feeling of spring in the air and then overnight the temperature plummeted to below freezing and we have lots of snow and ice together with a strong wind blowing the snow everywhere.

I feel for the plant and animal life. The birds had started their mating rituals and some were building nests. The spring bulbs had dared to show their faces and were blooming well. What effect will this extremely cold spell have on them?

As humans we are able to adapt to the spells of extreme weather whether it is cold or hot but the animals and plants cannot deal with these extremes so easily. Is this a new weather pattern or a sign of climate change? Whatever it is, it could affect our food supply. Extreme cold or flooding and even heat can affect the way our crops grow. We hear of drought in other countries and how that affects all of their inhabitants. The UK also relies on other countries for some of its food so there is much to think about.

One of the things I have noticed over recent years is the way that the seasons have become less defined. Summer and autumn last year seemed to just be one season. Is this also something for our future climate here?

But I was ready for the spring. I had a feeling of expectation, of new things ready to happen especially as I am about to move house again. Now everything seems to have been delayed but hopefully not for long and the sun will soon shine again and the flowers raise their heads.

One other thing which crossed my mind was the solar storms we have been having and I wondered if they had anything to do with these extreme weather patterns. Food for thought! Of course the wind is cleansing, blowing away all the negativity around us which is good and the icy cold kills nasty germs so maybe these extreme weather spells can be good for us.

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Changes

It has been a roller coaster of a week. But what can you expect. There was a Blue Blood Supermoon on Wednesday with all the things that a full moon brings into your life. And it is Imbolc, or Candlemas or Brighid’s Day whatever you prefer to call it.

But there are definitely signs of spring around. Hazel catkins, snowdrops, pussy willows and lots of other spring bulbs pushing through the earth as well as loads of buds getting fatter each day. The birds are singing well too.

It is also that time of the year when I start to spring clean and give away any unwanted items. It also clears away any old energies especially negative ones that clutter the air around me. This is even better this year as I hope to move to a nicer place quite soon and that was a part of the roller coaster ride this week, looking at a possible new home. I had time to sit on a train looking at the landscape around me. The day I travelled out was a cold wintry day. The fields were covered in a heavy white frost and had a beauty of their own. It looked as if some of the water on the marshes was frozen but the ducks and other birds were still there. Coming back the sun shone until I got back here when there was a flurry of snow and hail showers. The changing weather never ceases to amaze me. One day the sun can be shining very warmly while the next day or even a few hours later it can be snowing!

But change is what life is about. If there were no changes we would get bored and live a tedious life. Change is what makes other things happen, sometimes for the better and other times not so but change is a part of life. Changing the world is different. To change the world we need to change ourselves first to what we want the world to be. Its no good complaining about litter if you leave litter yourself. So change is important. The earth shows us this as we see the snowdrops appearing in the ground. They have changed during the winter months from a little round bulb into something beautiful when they appear above the ground. How wonderful is this?

spring

The winter darkness

It has been another week of dark grey days with lots of rain and occasional flakes of snow. But it is the dark grey days that I do not like. I need light and warmth in my life in order to function. I started well at the beginning of the week as I was writing a new book then suddenly on Wednesday everything came to a stop. I was feeling depressed again and I am sure it is the dark grey days.

I used my SAD lamp for a short time and it did lift my spirits enough to do a bit more writing. But I shall be really glad when the weather improves. If the sun comes out I immediately feel better as I am sure we all do. Yet the landscape in winter has a beauty all its own. I love the bare trees with their gnarled branches standing out against the sky. I love to watch the birds on the feeder in the garden and see the hazel catkins swaying in the breeze.

We have been lucky where I live unlike many of my friends further north who have had large amounts of snow. Yet I think I would have preferred to see the snow rather than the grey dark rainy days we have had. The snow brings light to the landscape unlike the rain which just seems to wash it out into a greyish mass.

Soon it will be Imbolc, where we welcome Brigid. The snowdrops will be out then bringing their light and joy into our world. I am looking forward to this and to the lengthening days.

catkins

Spring brings hope

The phrase ‘hope springs eternal’ has been going through my mind all week. So I have taken the words ‘hope’ and spring’ away from that thought and that is what I am writing about today. But the original quote is about hope always being there even if we forget about it, it says’ hope springs eternal in the human breast’. However bad things get there is always hope within us that things will get better.

So what about Spring? I can feel that Spring is in the air. I go into my back yard in a morning and you can smell the difference in the air. It might be cold or wet but that smell of spring is there. And when the sun does shine, you can feel the warmth too. I can see tiny buds on branches and the crocuses are coming into flower.

So if I put the words together I get Spring brings hope. It was the celebration of Imbolc during the week. For me this is always about hope and looking forward to the coming lighter and longer days. I look forward to being able to create in a better way, to being able to get out more to enjoy the natural world and above all to enjoy what the season brings. It gives me hope that the future will be different and better although I am not silly enough to expect it to happen all at once. I know and understand that things often get much worse before they start to improve and I feel that is what is happening now. But the bad changes occurring at the moment are awakening people to their real reason for being on our planet and hopefully that will bring about the changes. Many people have just lived their lives squandering and wasting resources as if there was no tomorrow but now everything is coming home to roost as we say. So take hope from the coming of the longer days and the burgeoning of nature and know that eventually the world will become a better place as more people find their real place in our world.

crocuses

Thoughts on Spring

It has been another busy week and I am feeling rather tired with all the packing so I am offering you today a poem I wrote several years ago. It is published in my book ‘Sacred Journey- Sacred Earth’. It is still as relevant today as it was when I wrote it.

‘The hope of Spring’

Watching the new spring leaves unfurl
Gives me hope in a chaotic world;
New growth springs from the dark
Of the winter and makes its mark.
Signs of growth are everywhere,
The birds and trees all doing their share.
So in this dark material world
Is there light ready to be unfurled?

Can we look inside our hearts today
To find a better more spiritual way?
To live without such ugly greed
And only have what we truly need.
We do not need large houses and cars;
We do not need to travel to Mars;
Some clothes and food and a rainproof roof
Are really, truly, quite enough.

So watch the new spring growth today
And think about a spiritual way
To live your life with love and care
And cherish all, if you dare!

forsythia2

Spring cleaning

It is that time of the year when my mother used to spring clean the house. Curtains were washed, carpets cleaned and all surfaces cleaned and items no longer needed given away. Everywhere felt so much fresher afterwards and we were ready for new projects.

I suppose I am spring cleaning as I am sorting out items to keep and items to throw or give away. I have done well so far with giving away 3 items of furniture no longer needed. This has given me a bit more space so I can start to pack for my house move. I live in a small bungalow with very little space as I have a lot of books and craft items. Packing these is fine but where do I put the boxes? So questions I am asking myself are many. Do I really need to keep these copies of ceremonies from the 1990s? Do I need to keep old emails from people who are no longer with us? Do I really need to keep all these books and maps?

So how do I decide on what to keep and what to throw away or give to someone else? I have culled my books and maps drastically over the last few years as I have moved into ever smaller places so books and maps are not really a problem. The ones I still have are the ones I need to keep. But as my son says, I do have a lot of stuff. But that is because I have hobbies, I write, I read, I draw and paint, I knit and embroider and weave. All this takes space however much information I can keep on a computer I still need space for craft items. One thing I have learned about saving stuff on computers like family history is that you still need a hard copy just in case and I prefer to work on paper where family and local history is concerned.

So my spring project is to sort and pack ready to move to pastures new but also pastures old as I am returning to my place of birth and where I lived for over 30 years. But I feel better about the sorting out. It is leaving space for new things so I shall soon have as much as I always did!

How do you deal with all the things you collect for your hobbies?

wed1