13 April 2011 a post by Greenwood The Bard

Spring Equinox & the Super Moon

The neighbourhood of Glastonbury comes alive during the Turns of the Wheel - Pagan seasonal celebrations and Fire Festivals. So off I went with my faithful tent on the Spring Equinox, the anniversary of my naming as a Bard.

glastonbury tor Day was at equal length with night, and from then on we could look forward to lengthening light. Due to delayed trains and diverted buses, however, that weekend I mastered a new skill: putting up a tent in the dark! But as luck would have it, this was the night when the Moon, bless her, was bigger, brighter and closer beside us than she has been for nearly a century. Since this coincided with the seasonal change, astrologers were having a field day. I was just grateful for the extra light. And when I say I was grateful for it, I don't just mean I'm glad it was there. I mean that at the sight of that light in the night, and the way the birds seemed to call out in response, my heart swelled with true gratitude. I said "as luck would have it" just now, but maybe "as LOVE would have it" is better, as it truly was a beautiful gift. So, in that lovely soft light, and under the watchful gaze of a Somerset pony in the adjoining field, I put up my tent. The Old Oaks campsite (one of my favourites, book in and go this Summer!) gets its name from Gog and Magog, last two survivors of an ancient Druid grove. Life has left them now, but the veil is still thin and the air still rings with persistent echoes of past events. It's so clear which one is Gog and which one is Magog, as they still stand there with their individual personalities and characters, like a stately Lord and Lady. Gog is proud, straight, tall and erect, despite being gnarled with age, and reminds me of an old soldier standing on Remembrance Day; Magog is also gnarled with age but still curves around like the "mother and child" icons in old churches, with a hollowed-out inside that reminds me more than anything of a woman's womb. Inside the hollow, people have placed offerings; tokens of prayers they've sent or wishes they've made; leaves and acorn cups arranged like cups and saucers for pixies; one had simply left a note saying "love you." I rested my hand against the old bark and echoed the sentiment. Some of the Psalms in the Bible, so say the sidenotes, are written to two tunes called "Deer of the Morning" and "Dove on the Distant Oak", which I've always taken as pictures of the Sun and the Moon. As I leaned against Gog and looked through Magog's branches at the "Super Moon", it seemed almost as if that Dove had come to settle on this Distant Oak, and with these two giant hands reaching out from the Earth either side of me, I felt embraced by the God of those old Psalms. Next day, the Equinox proper, there were gatherings in Chalice Well Gardens and the nearby White Spring, but no public performance of the Bardic Arts in town as there usually is at this time, since the venue doesn't have a license for such things on Sundays. Don't you just love it when religious rules get in the way of true spiritual expression? So I went instead to a friend, who I have to thank for my Bardic name and my Bardic staff. During a prayertime we had together earlier in the year, he felt guided towards the old stories of Bran. So as a thank you for the gifts he'd given me, I'd written him my potted poetic version of the Voyage of Bran. This old Irish tale is a famous Immram, a storytelling technique whereby spiritual growth and transformation is pictured as a physical journey - Pilgrim's Progress, or Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, are famous modern ones. On my way, I was happy to be walking through woods and started to sing, when a wren flew across my path into a hedgerow and let out an almighty call like a referee's whistle. I stopped as if challenged by a sentry. The birds were whistling, the leaves were rustling, and it was as if the wren's call was nature's way of telling me: shut up for a second, it's rude to interrupt! I didn't, for the rest of my journey. Nature is already musical enough. I paid one more visit to Chalice Well Gardens before I left. Spiritually uplifting gatherings like the Equinox, for a moment seemed pointless as lives were being turned upside down by war and by weather on the other side of the Earth, many left starving and homeless. But it struck me that there are so many closer to home with starving souls, and homeless hearts, and I led the small group gathered with me in a prayer of peace. And the Earth answered. It was one of those clear skies when the Sun just lets you see a glimpse of the Moon in the daytime. I looked up at them both and thought: For all the wonders of the Solar System, I still love this little Earth; for all I've seen of the Earth, I love this island; out of all this island, I love this town; in this whole town, I love these gardens; and for all the beauty of these gardens, I love this centre spot, the mouth of the well. And I felt embraced again, all these things layers of warmth surrounding me like blankets on a cold day, and around them all were the everlasting arms.

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