(2013) | Acrylics and metallic inks on 28cm x 38cm illustration board (with a 1cm border)
(2013) | Acrylics and metallic inks on 28cm x 38cm illustration board (with a 1cm border)
On Friday, after my psych appointment, I took a meditative stroll around the grounds of the Carmelite Monastery in Dumbarton. I believe that the grounds were host to Notre Dame all-girl’s school in the past, but all that remains are the old tarmac playgrounds which have fast been reclaimed by succession.
The grounds are also home to the Grave of the Unknown Cat, so I settled for a while to pay my respects. You can see the dip where the grave is to the bottom left of the tree.
Here is where I settled myself for a seated meditation.
The wind brushed the hair from my neck so that the sun could kiss my skin. All seemed still at first, before I began noticing the waving of the long grass, back and forth. Movements from the corner of my eye; the flitting of hoverflies.
A cranefly settled in the shaded fold of my denim flares. Behind me, beyond the wall where trees were established, I heard the movement of something larger. Rabbits or a fox perhaps, maybe even a stoat. The do live around here.
The hazy orange outline of a bumblebee brought my attention back to the meadow, and the approaching school kids. It’s a popular site to loiter around. Time for me to head home.
Ganesha, waiting beside me in my psychiatrist’s office
7th June 2013
For some months, I have been waiting for an appointment with a psychiatrist to help me manage some of the manifestations of my Borderline Personality Disorder. Today was my first appointment, and it all went well. When my psychiatrist left the room to get me some information on mindfulness & emotional regulation, I looked around to see Ganesha smiling at me. Thank you Ganesha, for always being there when obstacles appear on my path.
As part of my voluntary work, I was lucky enough to spend my day at the RSPB’s nature reserve at Inversnaid. It covers a swathe of oak woodland and moorland on the north eastern shore of Loch Lomond.
The woodland at Invernsaid is as native as can be, and is dominated by oak. I’ve been told that the oak is perfect for making charcoal.
I’ll interrupt the flow of photos here because you will not believe just how many bluebells there are in this woodland. They were everywhere, something I have never had the privilege of seeing before. These were native bluebells, not the invasive Spanish species that colonises to the south. On the ferry to Inversnaid, vast areas of Ben Lomond were painted lilac due to the sheer number of bluebells.
From here, we could hear the calls of the feral goats. They were very difficult to spot, but with binoculars we were able to spot them high above us on the moors. The goats are currently at the centre of a controversy – they are overgrazing the land, preventing the process of succession, and so killing off the woodland. The best option, in terms of both land management and animal welfare, is culling but many people are against it because of the link the goats seemingly have with Robert the Bruce. Factually, there is no link as the goats now living here are not in anyway related to those historical goats. I’ll probably write about culling (in general terms) at a later date.
The path down the east shore of the loch was used by drovers taking their cattle to markets in the south. Without our modern conveniences, the drovers relied on a series of shared dwellings to rest in as they made their way south. With the decline in cattle farming, and the rise in modern transportation, the old settlements were abandoned.
Look at that path. Now imagine walking a herd of cattle along it on the long journey to the south.
I’ll be at Inversnaid often between now and October, so I shall hopefully have more photos to share.
Yesterday, as part of my volunteer work, I was helping to lead a guided walk around the RSPB’s Inversnaid reserve. Unfortunately, the weather was poor so we could not find any tourists to join us.
It wasn’t all bad though. I did get to enjoy a beautiful cruise between Tarbet and Inversnaid. I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
The Beltane Fire Festival has left me nursing an ‘energetic hangover’. Normal hangovers involve intoxication by alcohol and loss of water; energetic hangovers involve becoming intoxicated by other people’s energy while losing much of your own. I’m sure it’s a common phenomena.
Thankfully, I had the opportunity to attend the second in a series of healing workshops hosted by Jude of In The Moment: My Healing Space. You can read my in-depth review of the previous workshop here. This time around, I want to share an experience I had during the evening. I usually don’t share my experiences in the Otherworlds publicly, but my spirit family gave me permission to do so. During our practice of Yoga Nidra, the guided visualisation spontaneously lead me to the Otherworlds, and this is what I experienced:
Late at night, standing on an ancient hill, a cold wind cut through me like a knife. I was lost, and I cast my eyes skywards to seek out the North Star. I find him, and watch the Sky Bears race around and around him, blurring into streaks of light.
My gaze returns to the land, and I see the start of a bonfire. The flames licking up the sides of the woodpile, creating silhouettes of the figures gathered around it. I walk closer, and see familiar faces from the physical and spiritual realms; friends I haven’t been able to see for months or years. Joy, laughter, hugging. I move around, trying to give everyone some of my time, before the familiar sound of Red’s staff reaches my ears. Clack. Jingle. Clack. Jingle.
Red, how I love her. She brought me into the realm of spirit, and had kept me on the path. She pulls me close, into the folds of her robes, and I disappear for a moment before being returned to the gathering. Red draws her skull-face close to mine and tells me things, ancient things, in a language I don’t understand. But my heart does.
The Sky Bears vanish with the rising sun. Red pulls me away from the bonfire, towards the rising sun. I am to stand there, arms outstretched, welcoming the energy of Summer into my body. Red has work to do, and she begins weaving the threads of sunlight into orbs of healing energy. Her bony hands move over my body, removing pockets of depression, anxiety and rage. The spaces are filled with the light orbs. Songs from the time before humanity are sung by Red. The bonfire dies down as she works.
Satisfied with her work, Red takes me back to the fire. The embers are still glowing, and those gathered are taking pieces of charred wood home with them. A plank of wood catches Red’s attention. She pulls it from the ashes. With her staff, she taps me to the left of my heart chakra opening a space within me. In here, she places the piece of wood. With another tap, my body is closed up again.
The sun is high in the sky. Red’s work is done. It is time for me to return to the physical world.
I was lucky enough to be taken through to Edinburgh to enjoy the festival organised by the volunteers of the Beltane Fire Society. It’s a popular event, and many people have told be to go before. This year it finally happened.
We witnessed the arrival of the May Queen and the Green Man, and followed their procession as they met numerous challenges on their way to bring Summer to our lands. It was a beautiful piece of pageantry and ritual. My words can’t really convey how spectacular it was, so luckily there is a Flickr account where you can see for yourselves!
Due to the crowds, we couldn’t follow all of the procession, so we focused on seeing a few events. I watched the May Queen and Green Man pass through the fire arch – which was amazing with all of the fire dancing. Next we witnessed the Green Man dance with the caterpillars and join with them in their metamorphosis as they were reborn as moths. Then we crossed the hill to watch His final battle with the remnants of Winter, and followed the procession to the bonfire.
We didn’t see much there – sadly the crowd was full of drunk and stoned numpties screaming about how they didn’t understand what was happening – so we went ahead of the crowd to the Bower where we had an amazing view of the handfasting of the May Queen and Green Man, before they presided over the handfasting of members of the Society. I was gifted a white rose by one of the May Queen’s hand maidens, and I’m not ashamed to say that it was a powerful, emotional moment for me. After all of the performers had their rest, the May Queen’s entourage were drawn into the dance of the Reds, the spirits of mischief, and the sexual energy of Beltane was made evident.
On a personal level, the festival was a rite of passage for me. This time of fire and renewal coincided with my return to Druidry. I took the fire inside me and it burns bright.
It was an amazing event. I’m grateful to the volunteers who made it happen and I’m grateful for the chance to have seen it. I hope to be there next year.
The Call for Peace, originating from Iolo Morgannwg and the Druid Revival, is a feature of many Druid rituals. In essence, the Druid will call to the quarters (the North, South, East and West) asking for peace to be present in the ritual. At the end, the peace is asked to remain and spread throughout the land.
What does peace look like? Feel like? Is it a universal thing? Or is it highly individual?
Even if the idea of peace could take a form that each of us could agree on, I would still be uncomfortable discussing peace in such a way. I have to look inwards, to myself, and ask what peace means for me.
My peace wouldn’t be a thing of itself. For me, peace is the absence of something; the absence of conflict. Differences and disagreements are the natural way of humanity, we are all overly-opinionated apes, but often such disputes can erupt into torrents of aggression and abuse. I’m guilty of this myself, being a very volatile person. Most recently I have been a victim of this, having had to deal with some very personal attacks from the members of the Pagan group I used to work with. I’ve even been sidelined, having watched such hatred between two mutual friends spew forth over my Facebook wall.
I can’t stop events like this from happening, and enforce my vision of peace on others. What I can do is take responsibility for my actions and reactions. Guidelines for peace can be found within the contexts of our spiritual paths. For me, these are the ‘Qualities of an Upright Human Being’ and ‘The Brehon Laws’. Peace is about resolving conflict and enabling others to be the best person they can be.
My peace starts from within, through the practice of mindfulness and Metta. It then is expressed outwards as I try to live a ‘good’ life: by being patient, respectful, hospitable and honest. Will I always do this? Of course not. I get pissed off easily. But what I can do is try. I can try to keep the peace within me.
What form does your peace take?
This Fae is in a close bond with the totem of Hare.
I wanted to try drawing something a little different, after the great response I had to my Selkie portrait.
(2013) | Staedtler fineliners on 297 x 210 mm bristol board