Urban Pagan in Somerset

Urban Pagan in Somerset

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Mulling and mellowing

It has been an interesting time over the last year and I haven't felt 'called' to write anything on the blog for a while. The last post was written after my mother's death amid other changes in life. Changes don't stop obviously although some can have more depth or further reaching effects. However for the last year I have been putting roots deeper into my new home, removing the things in life that no longer feel necessary or no longer serve. And I have involved myself in local community activities which has been wonderful to feel like 'I belong' here.

Earlier in the year I became part of the team to organise the Glastonbury Beltane Celebrations. It was a wonderful experience and I am so blessed to have been part of it and made some fantastic new friends and spiritual colleagues. The event itself was amazing - we did put a lot of work, energy and time into it, and it was estimated by the press that well over 3000 people attended.

The costumes, the beautiful giant Dragons, the maypole and green men were wonderful. The Abbey kindly allowed us to use some of its gardens for the various bands, the morris dancing and the hilarious mummers play.

As a result of this we have set up a new local community group - the Glastonbury Dragons and there are plans afoot to create more community fun with a Samhain festival as well as repeats of this year's Beltane festival and May Fair. It has also give us the inspiration to work on creating a local Glastonbury Museum and work is going on at the moment to raise funds and work on this project.

During the year I continued on my own studies as a mature student and finished my second year at college. Resulting in a 'foundation degree' qualification I am about to enter my 3rd year and start on another exciting project for my dissertation - a study on Glastonbury as a place of pilgrimage in the 20th century.

It has also been a time of introspection as usual while I work out my current inner space, the path I am treading and find once again I am off down a side track to explore other aspects of my spiritual life. One of the things I have found over the last ten or so years is how group working has changed for me. I will leave this subject to another blog of its own. But suffice to say as I get older I find myself wanting the path of the Hedgewitch.
I still enjoy open events and taking part in the jollity and celebration. But my own deep work is better done alone. It has become more simple and unstructured and I find myself conversing with nature, spirit and the old gods in a quite a direct un-ceremonial way. Like old friends in fact.

It has led me to realise something else which I will also develop into another blog entry at another time. Over the years of working particularly with the Goddess or feminine energy of the Land and being surrounded by people who only work with Her. I have noticed recently a call to work with and connect more with the God once more. I'm not sure which way this will present itself and I am interested and looking forward to seeing where this will lead.

The summer is still here (just) and we are winding down towards the Autumn. I am currently celebrating the first harvests - as I have said before, my favourite time of year. Celebrating my own personal harvests and the bounty of life that has come my way this year.

Many harvest blessings to everyone and hopefully I will have the time and inspiration to write a little more regularly. Who knows?..........

(Beltane dragon picture by Vanda Lloyd - photographic artist based in Glastonbury)

Monday, 2 November 2015

An unexpected Grief - losing my Mother again.

This has been a time of great change and movement for me and my family over the last 6 months. Settling down in our new home after the turmoil of rogue landlord and assault, I have given myself plenty of time to allow our roots to finally dig down deep into the loamy earth of Glastonbury. Feeling at home at last and peering out over the land to see what delights are in store for our time here.

Entering the autumn and its descent into the stillness and anticipation under the Earth that is winter. My favourite times of the year. My favourite seasons. From the start of harvests, with its golden seas of fields, the second harvest of apples and fruit and picking hedgerow harvests, the 3rd harvest of Samhain and that still moment when the veil is tangible. I anticipated that time, when I walk the land, connecting with it, the animals, the spirits and the dark brown crumble of the fields stripped of their harvests. I love this time so much. I look forward to the cold visible breath and the early morning mists of Avalon. Long walks in warm woolly wraps and gloves and arriving home to the smell of comforting cooking, rich thick stews, topped with dumplings. Apple cinnamon cooking to complete a day full of sensations.

Then another shaky moment. I am thrust back into connection with my estranged birth family - counting my children and chosen friends as my true kin. Hearing my mother was dying and wanted to see me produced all kinds of unexpected emotions. I have for sometime felt I had already grieved for her, assuming she was now gone from me, a kind of death without actually dying. I don't think I'm a cruel person and regardless of the reasons for removing myself from my birth family I decided to visit her. I'm glad I did. After seeing the small, broken figure in a wheel chair, half her size and hardly able to stay conscious for tiredness I felt nothing but compassion. When she told me she was sorry and that people can make huge mistakes I knew this was a good time, we made our peace and I went to her funeral 2 weeks later to say goodbye again.

Its been a time of death and all its' work. From a college assignment into researching the heritage industry and its attitude towards human remains. Death in the family. The opening of the death cafĂ© group locally and the count down towards Samhain. All happening together. I didn't expect to have a personal involvement with death just yet even though my mother was in her late 80s. The women in my family live long long lives. I expected she would go on into her late 90s or even like her great aunt - 104. And so I let go of whatever I had been waiting for regarding my mother and made peace. I didn't cry at her funeral - I did that years ago when I removed myself from the family. I thought I had done my grieving so her physical death wasn't the blow it might have been.

Still affected me though. I still grieved though I think in a different way than before. It was sad because we had made our peace and not had time to rebuild any kind of relationship. But then, maybe we did. I saw her presence by the coffin at the crematorium and sometimes I talk to her, feeling as an ancestor she is more real to me now than before. I remember times during her life when she had been motherly, memories that had got caught up and hidden in the net that held all the hurt and upsets that caused the rifts. I saw her as she was, a woman from a different generation with the hurts and hang ups from her own life. Her family issues, her religious constraints and all the baggage she held on to.

In the last conversation we had, she told me something I had never known. Something that may have made a difference to how I related to her growing up. I wish I had known, but knowing at last is better than never having known it at all. I honoured her and her soul at the day of the dead festival this weekend. I honoured her and her lessons to me at the chalice well on Samhain as I honoured all my friends and family that have gone from here. I remember her and that I did actually love her. I think she knew...

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

New Circle beginnings

A lot has happened since my last blog entry and I don't want to revisit some of the more unpleasant events. Suffice it to say that the community house I moved into was not quite what was expected and there was a few rather unsavoury experiences. I havnt had many experiences of Intentional community and still believe on the whole, they can be wonderful places. However, I have learned the hard way that its probably not a good idea to live in one where one person owns the property and can bully or coerce the rest of the community members and their families.

So onwards and upwards as they say!! We moved out into our own wonderful place at the bottom of Glastonbury Tor at the Spring Equinox (an apt time I might say) and what a wonderful, peaceful and magical space we have found ourselves in. The place is actually full of wonderful people and the community I sought was on my doorstep!

The new springtime has renewed my desire to work with circles again - and as always, (meant to be!!) within days of deciding this, up pops around 9 new people wanting a coven or circle to work with. So we are opening the new Coven of the Silver Hearth here in Glastonbury and Im very much looking forward to making new connections, the wonderful summer coming and more studying on my course which has been so interesting and fulfilling.

More to come..................

Thursday, 3 July 2014

New Beginnings

A new start - a slightly different blog title, a new life and a new location!

Its been almost a year since I last wrote a piece for my blog and many things have changed for me. I have moved across from living in Canterbury in Kent to Glastonbury in Somerset. From a small city to a small town - still slightly urban setting but surrounded by the most glorious countryside, hills and fields which certainly feed my soul's need for the beauty of nature.

Im also close to so many wonderful ancient sites and places of mystery and natural power. It has been my wish to live in this area for so many years and I am so grateful the fates have finally decided it was my time to come here. I have also had the wonderful fortune to get to experience living in an intentional community. Something I have also wanted to experience for over 20 years - since I first read about Findhorn and then began searching and discovering so many other communities and housing co-operatives that have sprung up all over.


I made the initial enquiries late last year and my
youngest daughter and I finally moved here at the end of March this year. We are helping to lay the foundations of a new community, helping to choose and invite new people to become part of our 'family of good neighbours'. Sharing a wonderful large house with garden, veggie patch and orchard and just a few minutes walk from the high street of a wonderful place of diversity, magic and healing.

Of course it has been quite a change - we were lucky enough to know one or two people down here already, but it has also been important to make contacts, connections and meet new friends and we have been busy doing just that. Another huge change was to begin the amazing and rewarding journey in home education - having to unlearn so much conditioning for me and Rhiannon. We have joined several home-ed groups, activities and fun things. I think its wonderful for her to know that learning can be so enjoyable after having had rather a grim time in the education system.

I have really enjoyed these last few months of new beginnings. My next new start is to begin a new phase of study for myself. I am at last going to finish studying for my degree although now I have switched from anthropology to history and archaeology and begin this September. With the possibilities of travel in Europe and taking Rhiannon along too as part of her educational experience - it is an exciting time.

Also fortunate to be invited to take part in some of the local pagan activities - giving a talk at the monthly moot, being part of the circle performing the open Summer Solstice Ritual a few weeks back and other ceremonies to come. It has been wonderful after a long and hard time over the winter, removing old baggage and making decisions to move on from various situations that no longer had positive energy in them. Yes, I may find in the future that some of those decisions might give me further problems - maybe some issues. But they were not taken lightly and since I made them and removed people (including some family) from my life - I feel happier and lighter now than I did for a long long time.

I want to begin writing again - blogging and my coursework of course.

Its lovely to be back.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Walking my Truth

I have been a practising pagan for many years. I knew as a child that I was attracted to an 'alternate' way of looking at life the universe and everything, from the one I was pushed towards by family and school although I didn't know it was paganism then. I soaked up the interesting books - Susan coopers series including the dark is rising and the greenwitch, the hobbit and lord of the rings, And tv dramas of the 1970s - the owl service, the tomorrow people, the changes, the witches and the grinny grog, star trek, and  Dr who amongst many others. They spoke of something 'unknown' and mysterious.

I felt 'different' then. I even thought I might be an alien changeling. Left on earth to experience something. I spent many an evening in my room in some kind of meditation sending out a silent telepathic plea for whoever had left me here to come back and take me home!

I never felt i was in the right family - i had 2 brothers that really weren't interested in me. My parents were more pro boys than girls and my dad often ventured the opinion that he wanted me to find a nice banker or accountant to 'look after me'. So when I showed an interest in wanting to act for a career I didn't get much support. I suppose that's why in the end after years of working towards this, I finally caved in and married the first man to show interest in me.

And so once I had my own space and started the busy time of kids and family, I began to remember my feelings about nature, magic and the mysterious. I began to explore my spiritual side, and that's when doors opened allowing me to train in all kinds of magical trainings, wicca, ceremonial magic, shamanism and so on.

It has been a time I treasure and has given me so much. It was needed as something that helped me understand myself more and how I worked out how life 'worked'. My meaning of Life.

And recently I have been exploring how I came to be this person. How the disinterest and conditional love from my parents and family brought me to this place and the person I developed into. Through some very personal painful experiences this year, I have found myself in a place where I am having good supportive counselling. Learning to deal with things I have shelved for so long. Memories that I gave so little import to in order to be able to cope with them have surfaced and demanded my attention and that I deal with them.

Its an ongoing process. I am not near the end of this particular journey, but I have come to some cross roads and after a pause am deciding which direction and path to take next.

The major decisions that have arisen from this are as follows;

I have for many years done things because I thought I had to always put other peoples needs and wants before my own. That's not to say Ive never done anything for me. But I have often carried on doing some things feeling I was letting others down if I didn't carry on. Relationships that have gone past their sell by date have continued. I haven't paid attention to my own needs which has come greatly (I think) from my early childhood experiences that meant I needed to earn the love of my parents and would have this taken away if I was naughty or embarrassed them as a way to control my behaviour.

So I intend to choose when and if I want to walk away from something by going by my own feelings of what I feel I want rather than what others want me to do. Or feel I should do. Or indicate I am being selfish or nonspiritual by doing what I want.

One of the main things that has changed over the years is my spiritual path and journey. I still believe I am a pagan. I still love the Earth, nature and firmly believe it has a consciousness of its own. It is a living breathing organism that I feel part and parcel of.

However, my expression of this has changed significantly I feel. I was trained in Wicca. I was part of the Goddess movement. I have worked with various different kinds of magical work. I don't look on magic as something paranormal now. I remember the phrase - magic is the art of changing consciousness in accordance with my will. This is not about mystically changing things around me. This is about changing me - and therefore changing how I relate to others or how I relate to their relating to me. So much of magic has become a kind of psychology for me now rather than mystical.

I don't now believe in Gods and Goddesses as separate beings. I see this as archetypal now. Aspects of myself and of nature. I still think there is a loving living intelligence in the Universe but don't give it a personality and believe it is part of me as I am part of it and them.

And so this will affect my spiritual practise. I don't pray outside of myself. I look within. I enjoy celebrating seasonal times and friendships sometimes and other times I don't need to. I have decided I can no longer facilitate groups, courses, training or circles for other people as I cant actually teach them something that doesn't hold true for me any more.

I no longer run a coven.

I have enjoyed writing this blog and the previous ones. I don't know if I shall write more but for now I have decided to take time away from it. To anyone who has enjoyed reading it - thank you for being an audience and maybe one day we'll meet up again.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Love of Lammas

Over the years I have enjoyed celebrating every festival we do - I loved the winter solstice, colours and craft making. Samhain and its fun as well as the chance to go inwards and remember our ancestors. The summer solstice and Beltane with the flowers and wonderful energies of growth. Imbolg with its promises of light to come and the equinoxes with their balances at each end of the year. However I have to say my most favourite festival of all is Lammas.

Lammas loaf at Eastbourne Lammas Fair 2013

I love Lammas. I love the feelings I get at this time of year as the wheel moves round again. I love the glints of gold in the fields of barley and corn. The grain harvests and the colours of the gold against the blue hue of the late summer skies. It isn't quite the golden autumn that comes around the later harvests at the equinox with its sunny but colder starts to the mornings, but it shows signs of the change of seasons as the nights are not quite so long.

I love all it represents. Natures bounty. The traditions throughout hundreds of years to collect, celebrate and share the harvests.

The harvests of foods, the preparation of the stores for the winter to come. I know that nowadays we have food to last through the year. Storage, refrigeration and so on means we don't worry that the food stores may not take us through to spring. That families no longer all go out together to bring the harvests in from the fields and celebrate with the villagers that all is in before the weathers change.

But underneath all our modern lives, with supermarkets, the food miles that enable us to partake of foods from other continents and cultures. Our freezers in the kitchen or the preserving processes now used to keep food longer.

Underneath all of this the link to the land is still strong in us. The echoes of what was done through the eons of time is rooted in the psyche of the people. Some feel it stronger than others its true. Some people are content not to participate in acknowledging the changes of the seasons apart from a nod at Christmas and Easter and maybe other social customs.

Some people enjoy the traditions of their communities. Taking part in the various local festivities. Spring or summer fairs, sea food festivals such as the whitstable oyster festival or the Brogdale apple festivals in Kent. Local Cornish festivals, or flower celebrations in Harrogate or Ely. The people may not be Pagans but still may have a rooted connection to the land and want to express it in their own way.

Others deliberately celebrate the seasons and the festivals as part of their spiritual paths. Christianity adopted most of our festivals in order to draw the people into the Church for conversion many years ago. And of course most Pagans will be celebrating the changes of the seasons along with any sacred days of the Deities they may revere.

Lammas has a magic I feel strongly. It may be the culmination of growth and harvests, but underneath it all I feel a bonding to the Earth and to life. It reminds me of my roots and my connection to nature. It brings up the feelings of being part of the Earth. Not separate or living 'on it' but as a part of it. I affect it, as it affects me. Of being part of a whole organism.

And so I weave my corn dollies, and make my crafts. Sing my songs and dance my rites of the seasons.

Yes, I love samhain and midwinter. I love Beltane and dancing round the maypole.
But Lammas..........ah......now that's my heart.

You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley.
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky as we walk in fields of gold.
So she took her love for to gaze awhile upon the fields of barley.
In his arms she fell as her hair came down among the fields of gold.

Will you stay with me, will you be my love among the fields of barley?
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky as we lie in fields of gold.
See the west wind move like a lover so upon the fields of barley.
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth among the fields of gold.

I never made promises lightly and there have been some that I've broken,
But I swear in the days still left we'll walk in fields of gold.
We'll walk in fields of gold.

Many years have passed since those summer days among the fields of barley.
See the children run as the sun goes down among the fields of gold.
You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley.
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold,
When we walked in fields of gold, when we walked in fields of gold.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The value of snuffles and lurgies!

Like many people I have been laid up for a few days with a nasty viral cold. It started just over 2 weeks ago with a funny feeling in the back of my throat which although I don’t get ill often, I recognised as the beginning of something unpleasant to come.

Now I'm not a patient patient. Something probably to do with being an Aries for a start. At first the idea of a duvet day is quite nice. Not particularly unpleasant at first - not well enough for work. But that’s when the idea stops being nice. Being ill means I don’t feel well enough to get the paints and canvasses out to enjoy this sudden gift of free time. The new book I’m looking forward to is left untouched as my head pounds and I don’t want to open my eyes much. This 'extra time' I am given is not going to be utilised to do anything fun or enjoyable.

So after 24 hours I’m not feeling very happy at all. Its been a whole day! I should be better now. Why isn’t the paracetamol/throat lozenges working? Why cant I stop coughing. I DON'T LIKE IT!!

Then I’m worried about how much time off work I might be having. I should be dragging myself in..coughing blood discreetly into my linen hankie. Pale and wan, heroically pulling myself up onto my desk and quietly martyred, ease myself into the working day. As my circumstances at present mean I'm working part time to be available for ailing parents that makes me feel doubly like I'm letting the team down. I can't even be there for the few days I'm meant to be. But that is another of my demons I am working on at the moment.

This week wasn’t great to be ill at home. I had the builders in creating a new bathroom. No use of a loo for most of the day - I had to pull out the camping toilet and enthrone it in the bunnies shed for a bit of privacy. (Note that camping toilet is really a large bucket with a toilet shaped lid). Nice picture in my head now!!

Even though my nose felt like someone had taken the entire roll of toilet tissue and carefully stuffed it up there, somehow I could still smell the very strong smell of paint, tiling mastic and glue which also rested itself on the back of my throat. I couldn’t go back to bed so I languished in the living room with the computer and the iPlayer for company. (its a times like these I wonder if it would be good to have a TV again after all!!) With odd trips out to the shed with the rabbits warily watching me and wondering what my business was doing my business in their domain.

Mind you at the end of the week, my new bathroom and the addition of a shower was very nice, gleaming in red and white so I suppose it had been worth it.

After the 3rd or 4th day of being ill I settled down to letting it wash over me and move through it. With large doses of vitamin C and drinking hot lemon juice with manuka honey to ease the throat I got down to mulling over the uses of being laid up for a short while. At first all I can think is that it is an annoying situation.  I don’t get colds or virus' very much. Maybe once a year and sometimes not that often.

Of course my cold is nothing compared to many people with debilitating illnesses and problems, but I do believe that things we experience all come with something to learn whether it be patience, forbearance, acceptance, surrender or maybe to fight, to find strength, to say no - this is not acceptable. I have been fortunate not to have life threatening problems to deal with although I have experienced ill health that has been long and drawn out before. In my 30s I suffered with post viral syndrome which was diagnosed as ME for a while, although I eventually got better after a couple years. You would think with that alone I might have become more patient. And I do think that I did gain some perspective during that time.

My 3 pregnancies were not particularly comfortable either. Each one getting progressively worse until my 3rd one I was ill throughout all of it from suffering with sickness morning, noon and night, the softening of my pelvis to the extent that I walked with a stick or not at all, and the most painful piles that prevented me sitting comfortably. (add that to the fact that I couldn’t sleep lying down and had to sit up, you can imagine my sleepless, painful 9 months turned me into a bit of a deranged zombie begging to be induced early. I was also in pain in my stomach a great deal. A couple of weeks after the birth it turned out I had gall stones too which had been causing the pain (Hah! - to the doctors who told me it was all in the mind!!).

But this isn’t meant to be a list of 'Illnesses I have Suffered' rather than to just mention that I have had some discomfort in my life and can speak from experience of how I have come to view these experiences.

And what I have found is that each time - whether it is a short snuffle or something that extends over a period of time, I am not someone who can surrender willingly at first. I resist and push against it. Until the time comes sooner or later that I must accept it is there. I have it. I must go through it.

The benefits to me are that I do eventually get to rest. Maybe I have been doing too much and needed this time. I have been known to ignore the messages and the universe may have to slap me in the face to get my attention! Maybe I am not looking at other things in my life that need addressing and this enforced rest allows me to think and consider more as my mind is occupied by thoughts rather than what I must do next.

Maybe it also means that I realise that sometimes my body is not completely under my control and that I need to honour it more. Listen to the signals and messages. Love it and look after it with foods and treatments that show I appreciate my body and its wonders. (though during the snuffles I'm afraid I do try to bribe it with chocolate!)

I've also come to appreciate that the odd cold or sniffle is boosting my immune system. Building up a body that may find it has more fighting power against any more serious bouts of flu or virus infections that are ahead.

So eventually I gave in.


I took a few days off work. Slept on the sofa for a day or two until the building work was done. Threw open the windows to let the paint smell out (and the fresh air in) and left the unread books on the coffee table until my head stopped pounding, and I had enough interest and no eye strain to write this blog post..... Sniff.

Get Well Soon