Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Fire in the Head

I WENT out to the Hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
The opening two lines of W.B. Yeats' poem, The Song of the Wandering Aengus is often considered to reflect the creative soul's anguish as he/she but in this case Yeats' wrestles for the vital spark of inspiration that preludes the flow of Awen.

Celtic legend implies that hazelnuts were imbued with a concentration of wisdom and poetic inspiration, hence the relationship between the Gaelic word for these nuts, cno, and the word for wisdom, cnocach. Needless to say, this leads me fluently into a discussion regarding 'nuts' and 'inspiration', an affiliation and affliction that consistently strikes a ironically dissonant chord.

How life's trials, cruelly melding with the all too predictable repetition of mental dis-ease can so easily enervate the inherent creative spark. Ah yes, another sporadic rambling appears to punctuate that long silence. Another questioning melody from the 'Bard of the Hedgerows', another overripe fruit lifted from those which lie decaying, awaiting their subsequent return to the Mother. However, it is all to often the decay that has the overwhelming appeal to my cynical eye and subsequently the unforgiving mind. Heart and Soul don't get a look in. 

Perhaps it is the past that haunts the future... the callous, interior voice crying failure. It is that continual comparison... I couldn't..., I'm not that..., how did they...  the perpetual negativity. The more I ruminate, the more I suspect that it is not the fear of failure which fuels the flames, but the fear of success. Habitual self-destruction can offer up an exceedingly comfortable pair of shoes, ones that can be relied upon, however, that means even if they don't match the outfit we are considering wearing, we are loath to take them off and slip into ones that do.

And so a panorama of organized chaos greets a dejected stare. Teetering towers of foolscap tattooed with cyanic lines of incomplete poetry. A regiment of musical instrument cases, dressed in a one piece suit of fine dust. Brief episodes shared with tapestry, oil paint, clay. All fleeting instances of Awen, plucked from the sudden explosive release of a 'Fire in the Head', the timely liberation of unspent inspiration.

Sad thing is that for what seems like a lifetime my 'inspired' head has been riddled with inertia. Deep inside, my heart encourages me to kick-start the fertile mind, to embrace the Awen, to sup of the cauldron of Cerridwen, if She is willing to guide me on the path to quenching my creative thirst. Only by firm resolve will I literally force my negativity to 'butt out'.

And so Friday being the first day of July and the New Moon, the time felt right to announce with the guidance of my Goddess, the intent to claim my 'Bardic Chair', and to enter into the 'service of Ceridwen, Goddess of the Bards' (as the Bard Kevin Manwaring succinctly describes my journey). Though I have followed my Druid Spirituality for many years I believe that only now am I mature enough and have the smallest 'seed of knowledge' of the realms of Gaia and of my inner self to acknowledge my wish that I may truly make firm commitment and footing upon my path.

And so seated reverentially within my Grove I sought with invocation, the love, strength, wisdom and guidance not only of Cerridwen, but of Brighid as I declared my intent to begin to tread the path of the Bard. With mind, heart and voice I put forth my commitment that I may seek the inspiration, the Awen with only Peace, Love and Respect, internally and externally with equal measure. A year and a day from now, I would hope to return to the very same sacred place to reaffirm that commitment and thank the Goddesses for their Blessing upon my endeavors. 

Finally I feel that the negative conversation within is steadily being subdued. The weight lifting enough to gain the slightest momentum, the poet, musician, artist inside discovering a modicum of strength, enough to begin bending the cage bars and releasing the Awen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


TREAD softly as the stone, as silently
as he speaks into earth.
Smile, as the tree-gods smile into their beards
when all smile in one mirth
spreading their fronds as antennae
that only the spirit-eye can see.

Move as the ashtree swings her branch
and with the strength of oak
spread out on horizontal arms
the showings of the thunderstroke
Jove elemental into dryads...

-Ross Nichols (Nuinn)


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Further on down the Path

Spanning the forty something years of my human experience, a myriad of troublesome circumstances have befallen my life, thrust upon me without permission yet undeniably needing my attention. Earliest recollections are of a father, whose subtle combination of aggression and psychology in his over-disciplinarian ways was to instill in me an almost perpetual fear, naively mistaken for paternal respect.

By the age of seven a spark had ignited the creative kindling. I had always loved to draw, create and recount stories, but now I became lured by music, in particular the sound of the violin. The following Christmas Santa 'came up with the goods' and from then on there was no turning back. I began free lessons at school, despite the mockery and bullying,not the kind of accompaniment my melodies required, however home rehearsal became ever more difficult as my father began to dictate the practice regime setting time constraints and goals. Nevertheless I persisted though the enjoyment slowly dwindled.

On reaching double figures my father had grown increasingly more detached from the family, seeming only to maintain a self-seeking attitude to his paternal responsibilities. From under the bed clothes late at night, the habitually raised, more often argumentative voices created a cocktail of fear and unanswered questions. The threadbare relationship and subsequent separation of my parents whilst I was at such an impressionable age and the resulting impact on my mother's health pushed me into the role of 'man of the house' despite the accompanying discomfort it bore. Adult roles weighed heavily on boyish shoulders. Adolescence 'never was' and yet deep rooted was the music, the art, the poetry... I had unknowingly tasted from the cauldron of Awen, but soon was to begin the struggle with an ever transfiguring self.

I began my higher studies, though rapidly changing, often extreme moods became a regular feature of life. With little understanding and support I began to adopt a gamut of different personae, concealing my bouts of depression and mania 'neath a collection of "Bowiesque social masks", continually having to reinvent myself in order to stay ahead of the dis-ease.

The charade finally ground me down to mental and physical collapse.

I'm working hard now to initiate a true metamorphosis, to find the real me, to follow the right path, find Truth and self belief... I guess re-birthing, a renaissance man in by it's humblest definition.

I am no Taliesin, yet I can now relate infinitely better to the legend that is...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

New Path...New Bike...

Belief can be both an enabler and dis-abler. Self belief, Spiritual belief, belief in a single kindred spirit, in humanity as a whole, perhaps a conceptual belief - Love, Truth, Honour, these can all have positive or negative attributes. When doubt impinges upon one, possibly a combination of these then instability emerges, all, and we become an empty vessel or we tumble into dependence on others to fulfill our emotional and spiritual needs. At that point we are negating our personal responsibilities, and subsequently driving away friends, relatives, family, even our Soul Mate.

be-lief -noun

something believed an opinion or conviction: a belief that the Earth is flat.

2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.

3. confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.

4. a religious (spiritual) tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith

Frequently I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that spirituality is not akin to the addition of fluid to reconstituted food. Instant gratification. Spirituality should not be defined as a 'rabbit in the hat' belief system. As a child my grandparents had a devout Christian spiritual belief and I myself, not having a wider knowledge of other pathways began to adopt a copycat approach to spirituality, all be it sporadically. My underlying interpretation was, (as Jim Morrison put it), solely "To petition the Lord with prayer..." Simple, 'need' that new bike you saw in town, speak to God about it. Sorted...

Move on forty-something years and you would have thought I would have become somewhat more knowledgeable. Yes, I guess I have a fundamental understanding of my Earth-centred spiritual path, however I have managed to become entrapped in the vicious circle that is my own lack of 'self belief', subsequently using my Druidic pathway as a 'get out jail free card'. When my Bipolar allows me to stand before my altar, it is not with reverence for the generosity that the 'Great Spirit', the 'Goddess and the God' have bestowed on me by reducing the most complex to it's simplest forms, for the abundance of ceaseless beauty in creation, for satisfying the needs, not only of myself, the human fellowship and all other existences...no..no..no..
It's all about the...

I still have so much to learn...

It is easy to see yourself as a victim in life – as a tiny cog in a vast and impersonal machine driven by others for economic and political ends. But by holding to the belief that everything is connected, that another reality exists beyond the everyday physical world, and that everything we think, feel or do has an effect, the Druid is able to assume an attitude of responsibility, and to feel empowered to be of value in the world. Like everyone else, they will sometimes feel the victim of others or of circumstances. While that feeling may come and go, the predominant belief will be that each of us is a causal being who exists in a web of life that unites every living creature. This means that each of us can choose to act as a force for good in the world.

Excerpts from What do Druids Believe? by Philip Carr-Gomm, Granta 2006