The Serpent’s Egg

A short anthology of poetry by Craig Cartmell

Foreword
Dedication
The Blackthorn Tree
Abermaw
Hiraeth
Mochenddu
The Stand
Apocalypse Now!
The Avenues of Fire
The Pilgrim's Lament
Feed The Dream
Brigidh
Being a Bard
The Spiral Path
The Eagle Sleeps No More
A Prayer for a Friend
Collateral Damage
Cycles
Mystery
I Am Alive!
Am I Mad?
A Bard's Dedication
Bridey's Song
Foreword to the 2nd Edition
Making a Cloak of my own.
The Camp
The Summer King
Feral Druidry
Selling Faith by the Pound
A Winters' Tale
Gone With the Wind

 

Foreword.

Dear Reader,

It has taken me years to build up the courage to do this. To actually expose my ‘dodgy doggerel’ to others. Initially I did it under pseudonyms on the web (variously ‘Matholwch’ and ‘Mochenddu’) testing what others thought of it. For, having read a lot of Kipling, Yeats and many others in my youth, I was not at all confident. However, my friends there, and on the Druid Network List, have been very encouraging. As has Geoff at The Druid’s Voice, who took the risk of publishing some (I owe that man a pint).

So here, for the first time, I bring together eighteen of my poems and ditties for you to peruse. A brief word of explanation for those who are coming across this short pamphlet by accident: I am druid. That is I follow a druidic spiritual path. My bones are oak, my heart is ash and my mind is away with the fairies…. but seriously, this my calling. If this confuses you then there are many resources out there on the web that you can call on that explain what I do far better than I can, and I encourage you to seek them out if it interests you (try OBOD and Druid Network for starters).

Part of the path of the druid involves for many, but not necessarily all, some bardic practice. Many choose to sing or to play, I am called to write. Thus much of what you read here is coloured by my druidic perspective on the world, and some of it is directly inspired by it. And that brings me neatly to inspiration and the Awen. The Awen (often reduced to the symbol /|\) is the flowing spirit of inspiration. It is everywhere and in everyone, and all artists, writers and musicians draw upon it in their creative moments. It does not dictate what you do but gives you the lift, the courage, the vision, the rush to do it.

Well, if you are still reading this, I had better let you get on to the words themselves. I hope that you will find them enjoyable and quite possibly challenging.

Craig Cartmell /|\.

Dedication

I dedicate this work to Brigidh, also known as Bridey or Brid. She has drawn me along the path of the Bard and has been at my shoulder at every twist and turn. It is also dedicated to my partner Lorna, who has put up with my madness for longer than anyone should rightly have to.

The Blackthorn Tree.

This was the first poem I wrote after nearly twenty long years. It appeared almost fully-formed in my mind as I sat beside the Mawddach estuary in Merionydd. If there was ever a case of the Awen flowing in me it was with this. It required almost no revision whatsoever. The appearance of this poem, so obviously with the blessing of the Awen, reconfirmed my beliefs and set me once more upon the path of the bard and the druid.

Upon the hill, beneath the brow,
Glowers an ancient Blackthorn Tree.
Just Shrike dare sit upon its bough,
And use its thorns for their butchery.

Through summers long, and winter’s chills,
It’s weathered snow, and gale and rain.
Come spring its crown with blossom fills,
To start the Goddess’s song again.

Its head in sky, its roots in stone,
A stream about its feet doth course.
It stands upon its heights alone,
A dark, foreboding, watching force.

Its watched man grow from savage child,
To reach the moon, in one short age.
From friend of Sidhe with voice so mild,
To bringer of poison, death and rage.

It reflects upon man’s great endeavour,
And wonders at the kingdom.
Who yet could be so fine and clever,
With not a drop of wisdom.

But the Norns’ hands move upon the loom,
Where fate is bound and myth revealed,
And the Blackthorn knows that man’s doom,
Is, by his own hand, now sealed.

For peoples come, and peoples go,
And who remembers the Firbolg’s roar?
To live you must with the Goddess flow,
Or be cast down, from loom to floor.

The Blackthorn knows naught of human pride,
Or thoughts of greed and glory.
It has always been on the Goddess’s side,
In the telling of the story.

So mighty man, in your declining years,
Regard the Blackthorn Tree with awe.
And learn at its feet, despite your fears,
The path to another door.

For between the Blackthorn's tangled feet,
Lies the gate to a shining land.
But a final challenge must you meet,
To pass, you must first understand.

The earth cannot be owned by one,
Its wealth and lands to plunder.
A steward’s place is yours my son,
Or all will be rent asunder.

The Blackthorn has seen the dark face,
Of the Goddess in her anger.
And felt the cold earth’s dark embrace,
Of those who would defy her.

Beneath the hills, beneath the stone,
Lie the bones of those lost races.
Who thought like man, that they alone,
Were the masters of all places.

An ancient, sturdy Blackthorn stands,
Upon the hills, beneath the brow.
It sings out at the empty lands,
‘Ozymandias, where are you now?’

Abermaw.

The second of what I have come to call ‘The Mawddach Trilogy’. The others being ‘The Blackthorn Tree’ and ‘Hiraeth’. This one arose in my mind after a day’s contemplation on the meaning and importance of ancestry. How would I explain to my children, who are both Welsh, about their ancestors? The Mabinogion is one such source and once they are both of an age where they can enjoy it I shall read it to them.

I feel a bit of a fraud with this poem as I myself have a strong Norse ancestry and my family only settled in Wales some sixty years ago. I do claim to be Welsh, though my Welsh wife ribs me cruelly about my ‘saesneg roots’.

Upon the shore, I sit and feel,
The cool breeze upon my brow.
Where Land meets Sea,
And both greet the Sky,
I listen as the spirits dance,
To the songs of my ancestors.

Here the moon-driven sea,
Laps against her mothers feet,
And I sit nestled in her lap,
As pebbles that once were mountains,
Whisper to me of ancient heroes,
Of princes and the lost Cantrefs.

Where Bran watched the fleet,
Of proud Ireland’s King come,
To woo fair Branwen on the shores
Of Dyffryn Ardudwy,
Where he gave her to Matholwch,
And sealed his own doom.

Where the last Prince of the free,
Gathered his men, a golden battle host,
To throw down the dark fortress,
Of the Saesneg lords.
Where for a bright moment,
We stood as men beneath this sky.

Here we began a song of hope,
To the heroes of Harlech,
That would carry proud Cymric warriors,
Through dark nights under African skies,
And bring Evans back to his farm,
On the slopes of Cader Idris.

Here, on this shore, the songs go on,
Of Gruffydd, and Evans,
Jones and Glyndwr.
The ancestors stretch back behind me,
Into the golden mists of memory,
And I listen, that I might sing for my children.

Notes on Welsh Pronunciation: Many learned scholars have written tomes on this subject, and I don’t intend to follow them. However it might be useful to the reader to know a couple of the more common compound consonant sounds. For my Welsh readers please forgive the simplistic approach, but they are poor saesnegs. (Oh yes, ‘saesneg’ means Saxon or Englishman) DD or dd is pronounced ‘dth’ as in ‘breadth’. LL or ll is pronounced ‘thl’ as in ‘athlete’.

Hiraeth.

The third and final part of the ‘Mawddach Trilogy’. It reflects strongly on my work-imposed exile from my home and the influence of what the Welsh call ‘Hiraeth’. This feeling is more than mere homesickness and represents a real heart-breaking longing.

In the city I hear her,
Above the traffic's awful roar,
I hear the seagulls calling,
Over her storm-swept shore.

In the factory yard I see her,
In the corner of my sight,
Mighty Oaks bowing in the wind,
Neath the mountains’ awful might.

Mawddach! Mawddach!
I have not forgotten your song.
Mawddach! Spirit of my heart.
I will return afore too long.

Amidst the people I can feel her,
In all the madness and pain,
Her streams murmur softly to me,
To tread her paths again.

In the market I scent her,
Between the exotic and the trash,
Chestnut blossom, Heather bloom,
Salt sea spray and Mountain Ash.

Mawddach! Mawddach!
I have not forgotten your song.
Mawddach! Spirit of my heart.
I will return afore too long.

In a thousand reflected moments,
I see her dance and tease,
Setting the Hiraeth upon me,
So I shall know no ease.

The albums of my distant youth,
Thrown open before my sight,
Friends long gone walk my dreams,
In memory’s golden, dappled light.

Mawddach! Mawddach!
I have not forgotten your song.
Mawddach! Spirit of my heart.
I will return afore too long.

And when my soul can no more be,
Separated from my ancient land,
She will gather up those dreams,
And take them to the verdant strand.

Where wooded hill meets river’s edge,
I first drew my sacred space,
Anchored my soul there to the land,
And first gazed upon her face.

Mawddach! Mawddach!
I have not forgotten your song.
Mawddach! Spirit of my heart.
I will return before too long.

The Hiraeth is upon me now,
I will soon be on my way.
The mother of my people calls me,
And for once I shall obey.

Where the sky meets the sea,
And both hold with the land,
I shall draw my circle once again,
And reach out for her hand.

Mawddach! Mawddach!
I will always sing your song.
Mawddach! Spirit of my heart.
I have been away too long.

Mochenddu

Those of you that are on a druid or shamanistic path will recognise the spirit-animal represented here. The boar is a symbol of strength, courage and protection. Mochenddu is my guide and protector when I journey and I dedicate this verse to him.

I am Mochenddu,
Strong of limb, sharp of tusk,
Hairy of back, son of the forest,
Stout of heart, no fear have I,
The taunter of champions.

Black in the thicket,
My eyes ablaze,
I await the men,
Spears glinting,
Their songs preparing them for
Their fearsome task.

I dance before them,
Tusks glinting in the moonlight,
I make merry sport,
And lead them into the wildwood,
Where I shall test their hearts,
And their high regarded honour.

For many leagues I tease them,
Over rounded hill,
Through laughing water,
The heroes come,
No longer singing,
Thorn-bitten and weary.

Then beneath the great oak,
And the cronking ravens,
I turn, I stand, Mochenddu
They await, heads bowed to me,
Before the final battle,
They make their peace.

Bloody and famous are we,
I gore them, thigh to neck,
Shield smasher, spear breaker,
They pierce me, snout to tail,
Bold hunters, men of Cymru,
Sons of Cerridwen and Pryderi.

They carry me home,
Shoulder high they honour me,
With songs of valour and glory,
Proud seat I have at the feast,
And listen to their tales,
Of the great Mochenddu.

The Stand.

This was originally written as the welcoming message for my first web forum ‘The Isles of the Blessed’ on Delphi. A later adaptation was made as a compliment to the moderators of the Awen list on Yahoo! And thence as a welcome to people on various other lists and forums.

I stand here, beneath the verdant oak,
and extend my arms in warm embrace,
to my brothers and sisters,
to the spirits and the gods,
as their love washes me clean,
for a new day.

I stand here,
above the rushing waters,
as they carry my words,
to those who would drink,
of my little chalice,
of precious wisdom.

I stand here,
on the windswept crag,
and extend my heart,
that it might shelter,
all who come to the Isles,
with its spirit of love.

I stand here,
that you may come,
and whisper to me of,
fragrant gardens, sheltered groves,
mighty rivers, ancient books,
and that I may then shout,
my joy to the sky!

I stand here,
with head bowed in gratitude,
for your tales of wandering,
of pilgrimage and of hope,
for the fire in your heads,
and the love in your hearts.
For all this I will stand here,
until the final sunset.

Apocalypse Now!

At the time of the Foot & Mouth crisis I was living deep in rural Powys at the centre of what became a ‘hotspot’. This first poem describes my initial reactions as the disease crept closer to us and MAFF officials bungled their way to an ‘Animal Armageddon’.

Around the barn and past the gate,
In the field, the men do wait.
Boots and guns, eyes like ice,
Money in hand, no asking twice.

In the field, beneath the hill,
Stands the flock, confused yet still.
Strange air rises, hot and dark,
Apocalypse coming, in field and park.

Below the gate, I rise from dreams,
Run for cover, my spirit screams.
I soar across, on dark velvet wing,
My anger bright, as I sing.

Go back man, foul deeds away,
You cannot have these ones today!
Greed consumes all that you desire,
Your spirit burns upon their pyre.

The altar of your efficient pride,
Demands sacrifices of bloody hide.
To hide your tragic loss of love,
For the land below and sky above.

Harsh lessons must now be learnt,
No more children must be burnt.
This sacred land cannot be taken,
By those whose spirits are forsaken.

But when you come to understand,
You cannot own this blessed land.
That it endures, as you pass,
That you are but the summer grass.

That your money, power and glory,
Fade quicker than a bedside story.
And your tomorrows begin right here,
In this field of death and fear.

Listen then to my alarum song,
Or be assured, that before too long,
All that’ll remain for your children’s sight,
Are these fires that you now light.

The Avenues of Fire.

Within weeks of the outbreak of Foot & Mouth it hit a series of farms in the Severn Valley between Welshpool and Newtown simultaneously. In the space of a week the tranquil beauty of this place was transformed into a scene from Dante’s Inferno. Trenches of flame framed both sides of the main road and thick, oily smoke for nearly seven miles. The stench was almost unbearable.

Out in the fields they call to me,
The children on the pyre,
They ask me to remember them,
Along the avenues of fire.

Upon the hills I hear them,
In the meadow and the byre,
But none remain to sing now,
Among the avenues of fire.

The empty fields do deafen me,
Where once they did inspire,
The silence of the lambs has come,
To the avenues of fire.

For Mammon rules this great estate,
Where men do toil and tire,
And no sacrifice is thought too great,
Upon the avenues of fire.

But it does not have to be this way,
To more we can aspire,
There’s time to change the road we’re on,
And quench the avenues of fire.

We must reject the paths of greed,
That feed the laughing liar,
Take only that we really need,
Change the nature of the fire.

And as we approach old Beltane’s Eve,
Let love be our desire,
Live with the land and no more build,
The avenues of fire.

The Pilgrim's Lament.

An early work that explored my relationship to my Roman Catholic upbringing. For me Catholicism was defined by just one word ‘guilt’. It was hammered into me from an early age, and it is a hard thing to throw off. Now, as one on a Druid path, I am finally able to see the joy in life without looking over my shoulder…

I’ve always been a God-fearing man,
Not one to question that I don’t understand,
It will all work out to His great plan,
I have my faith to guide me.

Though paradoxes I do find,
Am I to oppose His eternal mind?
Accept, I must, the words that bind,
My soul’s ease and my sanity.

But what else is there that can explain,
This life of struggle, woe and pain?
I must worship Him to live again,
And escape my mortal misery.

Born a babe in original sin,
The guilt I feel goes deep within.
It’s held there by my fear of him,
And the devil he set to tempt me.

The preachers of His awful might,
Each claim but they can see the light.
It’s hard to accept their divine sight,
In view of their hypocrisy.

Is it just to live in fear?
Not knowing if I’m coming near,
The grace of He who shed a tear,
And died on a cross to save me?

Or is my faith a fool’s confusion?
Is my reality all illusion?
How can I escape this delusion?
And lead my soul to liberty?

Should I turn my face against the wall?
Plug up my ears, refuse His call?
Walk right out of His golden hall?
And live in spiritual bankruptcy?

For the preachers say, beyond His door,
Lies the desert of the spirit-less poor,
Is the price of freedom to ignore,
The soul I feel within me?

A wise woman once said unto me,
That I must take responsibility,
For my own soul, to be free.
So we burnt her for her blasphemy.

Is the step then I must take,
The same as hers upon the stake?
Must I all my fears forsake?
And take a walk beneath the tree?

In ancient tomes and forests wild,
I’ve come across a path that’s mild.
If I’ll just release the frightened child,
That dwells deep in the very heart of me.

Then could I see the world with open eyes?
Give up my fears, my whines, my sighs?
Walk as a man beneath the skies?
And let each to his own path be?

Upon coming to a forest glade,
I’d reflect upon the choice I’d made,
Would I find myself unafraid,
Of my pilgrim’s heresy?

It’s hard to throw off childhood’s’ chains,
And refute the necessity for pain,
Preachers say I must have, to gain,
Their master’s loving mercy.

So I look outward with jealous eyes,
At those who walk tall beneath the skies.
Who sing old songs that seem so wise,
And closer to divinity.

Perhaps one day I will find,
A path marked by a golden hind,
That leads deep into my sleeping mind,
And awake my primal memory.

Once woken into bright sunlight,
I’ll find the courage to gently fight,
Break the bonds that hold me tight,
And meet you merely as me.

Feed the Dream.

This describes a train journey I took from Cardiff to Newtown. As I sat there carrying on a silent conversation with my Goddess I was directed to observe my fellow travellers. This is the result, scribbled hastily in the flysheet of a book I was reading.

My friend sits with me on the train,
And looks confusedly all around,
At the faces worn with care and pain,
Like a spiritual lost and found.

Through my eyes she bites back tears,
As in each soul she sees the source,
Of all the loneliness and petty fears,
Lack of belief in the living force.

For the Awen flows in fits and starts,
Dammed by despair and channelled by hate,
They don't know what troubles their hearts,
They've lost the way to the forest gate.

They cannot see through tear-frosted glass,
Life flashing past in man-made haste,
The sands of time are running fast,
And the truth they have not yet faced.

So my friend reaches out and touches some,
Turning thoughts to past loves and hopes,
To woodland walks in dappled sun,
And picnics held on grassy slopes.

Where childish dreams were not bound,
By adult cares and calls to reason,
Where understanding could yet be found,
That to each dream comes its season.

The jarring travail of the winter train,
Jolts them back to the world they've made,
Where dreams are lost to reason's reign,
And my friends touch does quickly fade.

So we walk on down the path,
Helping some to dream anew,
Losing more to reason's wrath,
Yet hope lies in that happy few.

So when you walk in reason's sway,
Carry her with you in your heart,
Feed the dreamers along your way,
Be strong, be happy and do her part.

Brigidh

And this is a prayer-poem I dedicated to the Goddess on the train, my patroness and that of all bards.

In the wind I hear her, her voice in the crows,
Her movement in the susurration of grasses in the breeze.
She comes to me on night borne wings of dark silk,
Her love spreading across the sky and parting the clouds.

In fire I see her, dancing in the candles flame,
Her hot breath down my spine,
The coals of her desire ignite my spirit,
Her fiery stare searing my pride.

The waterfall of her mind looses my thoughts,
And carries me through dreams of ancient bards,
Scattering the reeds of her azure intent,
And dashing after the dancing salmon of her laughter.

I return to the embrace of the earth,
The comfort of her cool touch calms me,
And I lie back beneath her trees,
Knowing that, like her, I am the stuff of stars.

Being a Bard.

Well you can’t be serious all the time…..

It ain’t so tough being a Bard,
The pay’s not much, but the work’s not hard.
Just prat about and sing some songs,
Tell some jokes, and bang some gongs.
Oh tell some tales about Frere Renard,
Yeah, it ain’t so tough to be a Bard.

Being a Bard is quite a lark,
We grace your lives, but leave no mark.
A temporary cease, in the rush of days,
Time to breathe, a sacred space.
And just when it can get no madder,
We smack you with a big pigs bladder.

Being a Bard ain’t no prob’,
We’ll make you laugh, until you sob.
Break down pretence and pomposity,
With our comic warrior’s ferocity.
But when the evening’s revels done,
Come listen to our final song.

For being a Bard is a sacred duty,
To sing the tales of love and beauty.
Of broken dreams and shattered hearts,
Of courage found in foreign parts.
So come sing with us, and lift a verse,
For rhymes like this don’t get much worse.

The Spiral Path.

I’m really not sure where this came from. At the time I was running a web-forum and fending off a number of personal attacks from American Evangelical Christians. I suppose anger could be the source, and the poem makes me uncomfortable to this day.

We walk upon an empty shore,
Striding in a new day’s light,
Where we wander we are not sure,
Or which way is truly right.

In the distance speaks a golden man,
His face always in shadow,
His words we cannot understand,
Nor his footsteps follow.

Beside him is a silver maid,
Who never meets our gaze,
She sings songs as yet unsaid,
We hear not what she says.

Behind us on a wind-lashed hill,
The shepherd’s mighty host does falter,
No longer to do his bloody will,
No more sacrifices for his altar.

Before us the man and maid do wait,
For us to approach upright and free,
To engage them in the great debate,
On what it means to be ‘we’.

Then he shall speak of ancient truth,
Of lands long gone and yet to be,
She shall sing the sacred sooth,
And teach us how to really see.

That there are many worlds in this way,
Each one within another,
But through each one wends a sacred ley,
That will lead us to the mother.

We are not alone upon our lifelong quest,
Many have trod these paths before,
They speak to us from the isles of the west,
And guide us to our mother’s door.

So men and women on the spiral path,
Walk upright and free,
Listen well where the spirits laugh,
And you’ll always blessed be!

The Eagle Sleeps No More.

I was at home on September 11th, now known as 9-11, and I watched the events unfold with disbelieving eyes. I cried, but not just for those directly affected by the tragedy. In a very rare moment of prescience I saw the conflicts to come and the children that would die in America’s revenge. This poem was written that afternoon.

Across the western Ocean,
Upon a distant shore,
I hear its wings unfold and know,
The Eagle sleeps no more.

The castle gate has fallen,
With an awful roar,
I fear for my children now,
As the Eagle sleeps no more.

Once I heard the Eagle's cry,
When evil knocked its door,
A storm of wings descended then,
And that evil was no more.

So now I pray for patience,
Because it chills me to the core,
That the calls for vengeance,
Might outweigh the rule of law.

For revenge exacts a terrible price,
One we've paid before,
But many yet may have to pay,
As the Eagle goes to war.

And in its fury, it shall not know,
The evil, from the poor,
And punish all within its view,
With its terrible, swift sword.

So all good folk of ancient way,
Whom this evil do abhor,
Pray for justice, and restraint,
Let the Eagle sleep some more.

A Prayer For A Friend

What do you say to a friend who has done something awful and the regret is eating them alive? As the Rubaiyet of Omar Khayyam (one of my favourite poems) says so well:
The moving writes and having writ moves on,
Not all the piety nor wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

Regret is a coiled serpent.
It tightens around my memories and hardens my heart.
It feeds upon my past failure and robs me of the capacity to hope.

The serpent cares not for now, only for then.
Then is gone and cannot be changed.
I will focus on the joy I have now.

The serpent cannot hold onto life, only onto the dead.
I am alive and feel the bright Awen in my spirit.
So the serpent cannot hold me.

I will not give in to the serpent.
The pain is real but all wounds will heal, if I let them.
The serpent cannot prevail, unless I let it.

I shall not be the slave of regret.

Collateral Damage.

This really is the follow-on to the Eagle Sleeps No More. In the first poem I exclaimed my fear at what was to come. This poem is a testament to my anger and confusion, and a sad reflection on the fact that I was, like so many others, proved terribly right.

A woman lies in an empty street,
Flies crawl over the rotting meat,
Her pretty smile no longer sweet,
She’s just collateral damage.

A young boy moans in a dusty ward,
His family’s gone so he’s ignored,
A shell fragment severed his spinal cord,
He’s just collateral damage.

The market’s empty, the people fled,
Just dogs remain, and they’re well fed,
I still can’t get it into my head,
It’s just collateral damage.

A soldier stares at his burning tank,
It’s “blue on blue” he’s got to thank,
For Bill, for John, for Bob, for Frank,
But they’re just collateral damage.

An Imam cries in a roofless hall,
His God will not return his call,
His faith destroyed in the missile’s fall,
He’s just collateral damage.

The Torah, the Bible and the Koran,
All claim to reveal their God’s plan,
How can they justify to this man,
That he’s just collateral damage?

The truth lies buried in the sand,
Hidden there by the politician’s hand,
So we’ll never come to understand,
What’s really collateral damage.

That more will die from filthy water,
Than in the fiercest battle slaughter,
It’s not news, though it oughta,
It’s just collateral damage.

Across the sea, Bush basks in glory,
But he ain’t telling the whole story,
His electors don’t need to see the gory
Reality of collateral damage.

He is a man well satisfied,
He has restored his father’s pride,
No matter that so many died,
They’re just collateral damage.

Cycles.

This was a short piece to another friend that was meant to sting and force them to see something they did not want to see. This is the duty of friendship that you would be willing to sacrifice all the joy it brings to save them from themselves.

I once had a friend who said, "Get over yourself".
So I did, And I didn't turn out as expected.
I found cold places in my heart.
I found blind spots in my eyes.
I found hard calluses on my soul.
But I did not weep.
For they were real,
And they were mine.
So I got over myself,
And became the real me.
The hard-eyed killer of love.
But I am real.
Now my friend cries out.
Shared pain, but felt alone.
So I return the gift.
Get over yourself!
You are worth more alive.
And real.
And it will hurt.
But you will emerge.
Beautiful... again.

The Mystery.

It continuously galls me that we people of spirit would rather spend our lives emphasising our differences and fighting over a diminishing constituency, than addressing the many problems that a world without spirit must face. The rationalists are winning the fight to establish their consensus reality, regardless of the cost in human misery, and we are letting them…

Upon a dark, beshingled strand,
Where sea and sky meet with the land,
I stride across the moonlit sand,
And ponder upon the mystery.

All thoughts of sleep have long since fled,
As on the jeweled beach I tread,
The spirits roil about my head,
In endless, bright cacophony.

And as the waves lap round my feet,
The mistress-moon I do entreat,
My lady would you be so sweet,
To answer just one thing for me?

From what deep and benighted place,
Comes the curse of my mighty race,
A curse that I must daily face,
This hard, irrational fury?

The anger at all those who’d try,
To stick their snouts out of the sty,
Those who’d dare to wonder why,
Is there more that I could be?

Whether we’re Christian, Hindu or Jew,
Moslem, Buddhist and Pagan too,
We are treated as a dangerous few,
A dark and shadowed enemy.

Our craziness is plain to see,
As purveyors of sham and trickery,
Our faith ridiculed upon TV,
No depth to our spirituality.

Yet we do not fight against this lie,
We let it continue by and by,
As we drag each other down to die,
In self-defeating bigotry.

Is the time now not truly right,
For us to step out into the light,
Arm in arm in the spirit’s sight,
And declare an end to enmity?

For the Moslem to embrace the Jew,
And Pagans embrace the Christians too,
Let our love be sure and true,
And set our hatreds free.

Then we may greet a golden age,
Where we’re released from the cage,
Of our own stupidity and rage,
To become all that we can be.

I am alive!

This one grew from a discussion on the h2g2 message boards about immortality and man’s obsession with death. I seemed to be one of the few who did not regard my eventual demise with deep apprehension. Despite their ironclad faith the many Christians in the discussion were deeply anxious that they may not measure up to their God’s high standards. This poem was an attempt to explain my view – it didn’t work.

Let my joy, from the sky resound!
For I am alive, for I am alive.
Love I have lost, and love I have found.
Yet I am alive, and on I strive.

Amongst the giants of our age,
I walk as a child, I walk as a child,
I sit and listen to every sage,
I listen as a child, with a heart that’s wild.

In my life’s autumn, I shall reflect,
On my life’s path, on my life’s path.
And see naught that I shall regret,
In my life’s path, in my life’s path.

But when I am done, and to earth returned,
My spirit will fly, my spirit will fly.
Freed of all cares, and from love spurned,
My spirit will fly, yet I shall not die.

My children will carry on my life’s flame,
I’ll go on in them, I’ll go on in them.
And the songs I learnt, afore they came,
Will go on with them, will go on with them.

So as for the journey, that awaits me ahead,
I shall know no fear, I shall know fear.
The road holds nothing that I need dread,
I know not fear, I know not fear.

Am I mad?

Not poetry I know, but I have used this short piece of prose repeatedly in many places, especially on Internet message boards and forums. I thought I’d end this anthology with it.

I think it was Lily Tomlin who said: "If you talk to God - you are pious, if he talks to you - you are schizophrenic." She was being sarcastic. However, there are many in our culture that believes this, even amongst the outwardly pious. The realisation of this led me to ask………

I talk to my gods and spirits on a daily, even hourly basis. I carry on silent (admittedly, mostly one-sided) conversations as I drive, type on the PC, work, eat, and look after my children. Am I mad?

I see them in the trees, the rivers, the faces of people, in the light that precedes the dawn, the movement of cats? Am I mad?

I feel their joy within me and their sadness. Am I mad?

I hear their voices in the wind, the babbling of streams, the songs and cries of children. Am I mad?

They surround me as I meditate and as I perform my quiet rituals. Am I mad?

Am I mad to thank Brigidh for the fire in my head, Arawn for his comfort in the face of death, the Green Man for the peace of his forests, Diancecht for the health of my children, and Ceridwen for what little wisdom I possess?

I feel the Awen as I walk in a garden, in a forest glade, by the waters edge, on the hilltop, before my altar. Am I mad? When it is so strong that it makes me gasp and brings me to my knees, am I hysterical?

Quite possibly I am.
But what if I am right?
More importantly, what if I’m wrong?

A Bard’s Dedication.

I wrote this as my dedication piece to the Order of the Yew. This was a druidic order founded by Emma Restall Orr as part of her project – The Druid Network. Uniquely, each person who wishes to join this order writes a short dedication piece describing their commitment to the druidic path and what they intend to do within it. This is then posted on The Order of the Yew page for the acclamation of their peers.

I seek to stand as a man of honour,
To learn to be true to myself,
That I may achieve humility,
And express this through my hospitality.

I seek to walk the path of duty,
To become aware of each step I take,
That I may find the courage each day,
To be responsible for my song.

I seek to sing in the light of love,
To treat all I meet with acceptance,
That I can show a true compassion,
And learn to trust.

I seek to serve the spirits of the land,
To walks their hills and groves as a bard,
Letting the Awen sing through me,
That it may light a path less travelled.

I seek to listen to the songs of my ancestors,
To look upon my life through their eyes,
To share the wisdom of their days,
That I may sing from the shoulders of giants.

I seek to work in reverence of my gods,
Bring them honour through my life’s work,
To walk a while on our shared earth,
And leave it better than when my song began.

I seek to walk in the company of others,
Treading the path to the grove of the Yew,
That we may learn to sing together,
And together our sacred ties renew.

Bridey’s Song.

This song bugged me for weeks! The tune came first, inveigling itself into the corners of my consciousness, and I soon found myself humming it at home and work. The words came later, in little fits and starts, and normally when I had no pen to hand. But in the end my torment was worth it. I hope you think so too.

In the morning song I hear her,
Laughing by the water,
Every time she comes along,
She will sing a different song,
Which is why I’ve never caught her.

At the sunrise she is near me,
Whispering while I’m sleeping,
When I get out of my bed,
The poems have all fled,
Or strangely have no meaning.

Bridey, oh my Bridey!
Do you know what you do to me?
Thanks for all that you have said,
This golden fire in my head,
And for singing your song through me.

I am madden by her teasing,
Though I find it oh so pleasing,
I stumble and I break,
Throughout all the songs I make,
Yet her allure is unceasing.

Maybe one day she’ll reward me,
Near the end of this life’s journey,
Let me drink once from her grail,
Before my wit and reason fail,
And hear her song through clearly.

Bridey, oh my Bridey!
Do you know what you do to me?
Thanks for all that you have said,
The golden fire in my head,
And for singing your song through me.

Foreword to the 2nd Edition

So much has happened since the first part of this Anthology was given to my dear friends in the Druid community. My star has waxed and waned, I have known great friendship and deep loss, and I have come to terms to my small part in the tribe of druidry.

The collection now includes at pieces of prose, including an essay on Honour, Duty and Love. My good friend Stefan of the Albion Conclave has seen fit to include it as additional reading on his excellent course. A fact I still find amazing and for which I am both embarrassed and grateful.

Over the last two years I have begun to explore my place as a feral druid. A term that began as a joke, but I found to have a strange and hidden resonance with some of my fellow ferals. An explanation lies in the pages to come.

Craig Cartmell /|\.

Making a Cloak of my own.

I have walked the path I later came to know as druidry for nearly twenty-five years now. It has been a long journey full of false starts, dead ends and marvellous friendships. During that time I was, for the most part, solitary in my meditations, devotions and small rituals. With no one to guide me I turned almost exclusively to my gods, the spirits of place and of my ancestors. Their inspiration, as you have probably felt yourselves, was frequently both baffling and frustrating.

One thing I have asked many times is “How should I live my life?” I had read reasonably widely the Celtic tales and Norse sagas, noting what chimed true for me and what didn’t, but what they all lacked was the modern context in which I lived. I am a person who finds dogma abhorrent and did not feel comfortable with simply donning someone else’s rules like an old cloak and hoping that where it did not fit well I could just ignore it.

So I chose to make a cloak of my own. I began with a long series of meditations upon the aspects I valued in my friends, my gods, the spirits and others. Over a couple of years I noted these, sorted them and refined them. Then I looked them over and considered which aspects I would like to aspire to.

Well the cloak was made and I have worn it for some years now. I feel that where it does not fit I have strived to grow so that now it is more me and I am more it. There are still places within me that need considerable work and that I may not complete in this life.

I was asked to write this piece as an example of what you can do for yourself if you wish. The key is that it must be your cloak. You can borrow the material and thread, and even parts of the pattern, but you must make it yourself. I suggest that make it roomy to allow yourself to grow and do take care of it, for when the world is raining on your parade it will keep you warm and dry.

The three main parts of my cloak are Honour, Duty and Love. Each one in their turn has three parts and is described below. I chose triads because they seemed right for me and reflect the Celtic love of the number three. They are also easy to remember, which is important for me as I have an appalling memory.

I hope that you find this short essay useful. If you join the Carnyx group (the Albion Conclave’s online forum) I’d be happy to discuss this with you further, or you can pass your comments and questions back through the course organisers.

Honour

Honour is an odd concept. Like respect it cannot be taken, only given. You earn it by your actions from the world around you.

Honour has been a cornerstone of the cultures of many of the greatest civilisations in history. To have it was everything, to lose it was to lose everything. Samurai would commit seppuku, Romans would fall upon their swords, and Celts and Vikings would commit acts of suicidal bravery in order to restore their lost 'honour'. In medieval Europe honour became the basis of the notion of 'Chivalry'. A code of fairness and courtesy.

However, I do not feel entirely happy with these interpretations of the concept of honour. To be honourable, in my opinion, takes more than good manners and a fanatical regard for your reputation.

Honour breaks down into three philosophies:

Honesty

To be honest is to make your actions and aspirations transparent to yourself, to others and to the gods and spirits. To mask nothing with deceit, especially self-deceit, and to be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions.

Honesty is not about obeying the law of the land. Strangely, psychopaths are often extremely honest, as are many professional criminals. Their actions may be morally reprehensible, but they understand them and their effect, and do not deny them.

Who do you harm when you are not honest? Well primarily yourself. You add another mask to your soul, another burden to your life. I know this for I was once an accomplished liar. For me it was a defence mechanism against bullying in school that became a habit. It took me many years to cast aside the many masks I wore and to see the real me staring back from the mirror.

To walk naked in front of the world is very difficult. Deceit is easy as most people want to trust you. To be regarded as an honest person is possibly one of the highest compliments you can aspire to.

This does not, however, give you the right to dispel the illusions of others. Some call this being 'brutally honest'. I call it 'assault'. Sometimes you will need to burst another's bubble, but it must be done with care and compassion. When it comes to honesty, start with yourself, it will keep you busy long enough.

Humility

This neither means being 'humble' nor 'obsequious'. True humility comes from three things:

  • Having a sense of perspective about your place and effect upon the world around you.
  • Accepting the frailties and ignorance you possess, and have seen in yourself by being honest.
  • Accepting that there will always be those whose wisdom is deeper, and experience and knowledge is broader than your own.

Humility is a positive trait when it leads you to listen to others, to accept their wisdom and celebrate their achievements with as much energy as you would do your own.

Having a sense of humility does not mean you may not also be proud. Satisfaction with a job well done, a hard earned achievement or a goal reached is good. Indeed it is necessary in order to build up your self-esteem and enable you to reach for your next level of development.

Hospitality

The willingness to share your wisdom, hearth and heart with others. Amongst the many ancient cultures that have contributed to ours (especially the Celtic and Norse) a person's greatness was often measured by their generosity.

Hospitality is a realisation that all ownership is false. You cannot own the land or an idea any more than you can catch the wind. You have, at best, temporary stewardship of it. I am promoting neither communism nor anarchy, but if you realise the concept of stewardship you will understand what I mean by hospitality.

By the grace of the gods, by the sweat of your brow, or the luck of your birth, you have gained both material and spiritual wealth. If you wish to become a honourable person you must be willing to share these with those who have not been so fortunate.

That which is given freely and with a glad heart shall come back threefold.

Duty

Another odd concept, but this time one that must be accepted, never imposed. Again it is a cornerstone of 'civilised' or social behaviour.

Duty relies on three philosophies:

Awareness

Unless you a truly aware of the consequences of your actions upon yourself, others, the world around you and upon the divine source, you cannot understand your duty.

This lack of awareness of consequences is very apparent in the rush by many new pagans to get to the 'good stuff'. New pagans demanding access to power and magic besiege many pagan organisations and their web sites. These people are not ‘bad’; they just want what is advertised on TV.

A good touchstone for the worth of a pagan web site or organisation is in how they respond to this. If they publish endless 'books of shadows' containing spells, rituals and potions, then they are no wiser than their audience. If instead they attempt to guide the seeker onto a path of self-discovery and awareness they are possibly worthy of further contact.

It is worth stopping for a moment before any major life decision and jotting down the positive and negative consequences that will stem from that decision for yourself, your family and friends, other people, the world around you and the divine source. You may well surprise yourself.

Responsibility

This is hard. You must learn to take responsibility for every step you make along your road. For every decision you make or avoid. For every mistake and misstep.

Responsibility means accepting the effect you have had upon the world, upon others and upon yourself. If you wish to deny your effect then leave this place now, for you are self-deluded, and seek out the essay above on 'Honesty'.

It is a total concept; there are no half measures. Responsibility can be shared, but it cannot be divided. If two people accept a duty, the amount of responsibility is doubled, not halved.

Courage

Fear is a natural emotional and bio-chemical reaction to danger. Without fear we would not survive a day in this world. Fear is good, it activates reactions within us that fuel us to fight or flee.

Courage is the ability to accept this fear and to maintain a balanced state in the face of it. Never mistake a fearless person for a courageous one. Fearless people are dangerous both to themselves and others, for they do not learn.

I am a pyrophobic. I have a fear of fire. Every time that I must face fire, I also face a test of courage. Most of the time I handle it, I fight it when I would much rather flee from it. Often to do one's duty it is necessary to face our fears. Fear of failure and fear of embarrassment are our frequent companions.

A dutiful person courageously overcomes these fears and completes the task that they have accepted.

Love

Love is possibly the most misunderstood of all three concepts. Let me make something clear at the beginning of this essay - love is not an emotion. The reduction of the concept of love to an individual projection of passion is one of the greatest tragedies of western civilisation.

One of the main problems we encounter is the mistaking of 'passion' for 'love'. We are in 'love' with someone, we must be near them, we must own their heart... can you hear the pain? Passion is an overwhelming desire to know that someone else cares for you. It is obsessive, and ultimately self-destructive. We have lost the true meaning of 'love', and are now desperate to have it.

Many relationships founder because of this mistaking of passion for love.. Passion is generated at the beginning of the relationship by desire, both physical and emotional. This bio-chemical reaction overrides all sense and the two people 'fall in love'. Passion, however, is very difficult to maintain for any length of time. It simply consumes too much energy. Soon it begins to fall away to a more easily maintained and much lower level. Then the two people have to maintain their relationship with whatever is left. If they were not friends beforehand, or have not become friends, then there is precious little to work with.

Unfortunately this last century, through the growth of the media and popular culture, this pursuit of 'love' has become an obsession. In earlier times people often married those they knew well. Courtship could take years, and as a result many relationships were founded on the bedrock of friendship and mutual respect. Indeed those that undertook an obsessive quest for 'love' were seen as sick or demented, to be pitied or cured.

Now we live in a society with precious little real love and a surplus of disappointment and bitterness.

Love, in its true form, is (as I said before) not an individual feeling or an emotion. Love is a way of life, a way of presenting your 'self' to the world and the people/beings you interact with. To understand this better we need to examine the three main tenets of Love.

Acceptance

We all crave acceptance. We want others to like us for who we really are, not for what society dictates we should be.

To accept someone is to see them as they are, and say 'no problem'.

There is nothing worse than saying they you 'love' someone, and then setting out to change them into a form acceptable to your own self-image. Many of the mainstream religions do this to those they convert. It is also the source of the nagged husband/wife.

The key to acceptance is the realisation that each person walks a different path. You can neither walk it for them, nor direct their path to your choosing. To do so is to assault their freedom of choice.

Trust

To place your head in the mouth of the dragon. To trust is to invite betrayal. Not to trust is to be alone. What a quandary!

To be trusted is a great feeling. I can think of no greater compliment, for instance, than to be trusted with another person's child. Of all the Christian traditions I have examined, one of the most touching (and thus worth preserving) is the position of God-parent.

Some say that you must earn trust. What nonsense! It can neither be earned nor taken. It can only be given and accepted.

The Celts knew this and it is a component of their concept of Geasa.

Compassion

Called 'empathy' by some, this is the ability to walk in another's shoes. To understand, at the very core of your being, the joy and the pain and the confusion of another being.

Compassion demands that you share a part of your soul or spirit with another, in order that you may be able to help shoulder their burden, if only for a few steps down their road.

To show compassion to another is a great thing, for it is fraught with danger. I seem to remember that it was the Chinese that believed that if you saved a person's life you were then responsible for all that they then did from then on.

For as you help them on their road, you may also influence their decisions, what turnings they will take, and thus what the future holds for them and any others they encounter.

 

The Camp.

I have practiced my path alone for nearly thirty years, not knowing how wide the path had become. It is only in the last five years that I have reached out and contacted others of my ilk and it was only in 2003 that I actually ‘went public’. This poem was written in gratitude to all the people at that Druid Camp in the Forest of Dean who welcomed me to their firesides and taught me so much in just four days.

I had a dream, that I once trod,
Upon a field of green.
And beheld there, the finest folk,
That I had ever seen.

Clothed in grey and black and white,
They sang the Awen’s name,
And about them shone a gentle light,
I know not whence it came.

Upon my upturned face it fell,
And my eyes were filled with glory.
The folk had so much to tell,
About the Goddess and her story.

I sat among them, an awestruck yokel,
At these giants’ feet.
I knew then, that these folk’ll,
Be the best I’ll ever meet.

I stand here alone, in the dark,
In the city, in the rain.
But now I know where to embark,
To meet them once again.

So good folk, till we next meet,
Accept this pilgrim’s prayer,
May the Awen guide your feet,
And all your days dawn fair.

The Summer King

This was written in celebration of the Summer Solstice. I expect that as the Awen flows I shall write companion pieces for the Winter Solstice and the two equinoxes. I have used it once so far and it brought a great feeling of joy to my little circle.

Rising across the moor you dazzle me,
Strike the cool breath from my breast,
Setting this weary pilgrim’s spirit free,
Putting my worldly fears to rest.

Through the day you play with me,
Illuminating many, blinding some,
Dappling my grove’s leafy finery,
Fathering this, my soul’s wisdom.

Through day’s end you gently flow,
Showing more in the growing shadow,
Than a poor mortal should truly know,
About this world of hate and woe.

But in the depth of night’s ebon veil,
You light my sister’s silver reign,
A reminder that you will not fail,
To return and guide me again.

So I sing to you my summer king,
As a pilgrim at your great hall's door,
Shine upon my thrice-sacred ring,
And let my spirit soar.

Feral Druidry

My dear friend Judith and others have encouraged me to explore publicly what I have jokingly referred to as 'feral druidry'. This has led me to a lot of reflection as the term feral seems to have taken on a life of its own in my dreams and meditations.

So let's have at it shall we?

What does it mean to be 'feral'?

To me, being feral is a state of mind and a shift of perspective, not a label, an order or a path. Many people, who may be well-established in their orders, respected on their paths or who already bear known and trusted labels, may also find that they could be considered feral.

One who is feral is one who has reached out and tapped the savage and primitive heart of their being and their connection to the ancient and undiscovered strength of their land.

Their dreams are full of raw emotion, nature red in tooth and claw, surprising and frequent perspective changes as the dreamer transforms themself through many forms, stag to fox to salmon to oak to pool to beetle to woman to man to wind etc.

To be feral is to have gone through a perspective shift on the world such that at a thought you can see the real world overlaid with its wilder self.

Trees move and sing, the land thrums with lines of energy, the sky coruscates with wild light and chaotic intensities. Indeed the difficulty once you experience this perspective shift is drawing your senses back to the mundane reality of now.

Who is feral?

As I said before, just about anyone.
As often as not though ferals seem to be found amongst the solitary practitioners of druidry and related paths. People who, through chance or circumstance, have come a long way in their spiritual growth with little formal assistance, and have discovered or developed a deeply held connection to the land.
They often seem to feel bound by oath or love to a particular stream, beach, mountain, pool or wood. The spirits of the land sing clearest to them there and they return often to recharge their emotional and spiritual 'batteries'.
Ferals are often quite emotional, laughing or crying unexpectedly as their altered perspective shows them other vistas than their companions are aware of.
Those few I have met or conversed with feel in no way superior to their fellow druids. Indeed they are often hesitant, uncertain and even shy of sharing their experience as it seems to them to be untutored and may fail in the bright light of scholarly criticism or investigation.

How does one become feral?

The honest answer is that I do not know. No feral I know has deliberately set out to achieve what they have been blessed with, and some would genuinely be happy to lose it, shocking as that may seem.
In my own family, for example, the feral tendency has long been suppressed as it can give rise to almost uncontrollable fury. In the last three generations only I have managed to work through and past this (I hope). Both my father and my grandfather suppressed it all their lives and suffered as a result.
I think that it is possible for one to become feral and achieve that shift in perspective it brings. From conversations that I have had with the wiser and more experienced members of the various druid orders they achieve a perspective shift of a similar sort through careful ritual and deep meditation.
To touch your feral mind you would need to spend a lot of time alone with the land. The more ancient and undiminished an area as you can. You will need to reach out, without the traditional 'protections' of circles and familiar tools, into those places and seek the spirits of the land
(Safety Note: Always let someone reliable know where you will be and when to expect you back). For me such practice was all I had for nigh on twenty years, I just did not know better. Although the shift came on early, perhaps because of my family tendency for fury, it took me years to understand and come to terms with it.
For me it was a search for a way to deal with the fury away from my fellow humans.
My reward was the ability to control myself in tense and stressful situations, and a deep connection to the land.

Why 'feral'?

Labels, labels everywhere! I had not named this concept 'feral' until some jokey conversations on the Druid Network forum inspired it, but it seems to fit very snugly. So much so that it has had me thinking long and hard about it (thanks Judith, Ani, Little Raven et al).
Now I have a label and some concepts behind it I have been able to look back at the events that have shaped my wisdom and experience, and also the people I have met along the way. This is possibly the purpose of labels, within human psychology, to allow analysis, reflection and further growth.

Where now?

I wonder how many of you recognise that feral state of mind, that perspective shift? And I'd be fascinated to hear from you so that we can share tales.
I do not propose that this label or the concepts that support it are utterly original (though they are to me). Many of you with broader experience and deeper wisdom (and that means most of you) may be able to direct me to similar discourses and I'd be grateful for that also.
What have I done and can I get it all back in the box before anyone notices?

Selling faith by the pound.

A good while back I was invited to join a Yahoo! group called ‘Chantsudbeafinething’. This bunch of mad bards celebrate the ridiculousness of the pagan condition in odd verse. How could I resist? Below is my first contribution to that group’s collective folly

It’s sin that sells, the Vicar said,
And hellfire and damnation.
Keeps the pews all filled up,
With a fearful congregation.

No, its guilt that sells, the Rabbi said,
And mother’s kosher nosh.
Give them one day off a week,
When they can dress up posh.

Jihad sells, the Imam said,
Don’t listen to that Rabbi.
It’s a pity about the alcohol,
So I’ll just have half a pint.

Harmony sells, the bald monk said,
And it’s the key to happiness.
The punters love the tantric sex,
Whilst wearing an orange dress.

Sex does sell, the priestess said,
If you just have the knack.
And no matter what the rede requires,
We all look good in black.

Bollywood sells, the Yogi said,
And the Kama Sutra too.
If you’d like another god,
We’re not short a few.

Freedom sells, said the medicine man,
And lots of drums and dancing.
So come smoke the pipe of peace,
And then we’ll all be trancing.

Magic sells, the wizard said,
It gives you a sense of power.
Oh I wish I lived in Crowley’s days,
With young virgins to deflower.

Leather sells, the heathen said,
And all the Viking gear.
The Chainmail undies chafe a bit,
But hey there’s lot’s of beer.

Stone circles sell, the druid said,
They’re mysterious and chunky.
But we tend to take too many herbs,
Which is why we’re all so funky.

You’ve nothing I’d buy, the atheist said,
Not clothes, nor sex nor grub.
But we all blessed him just the same,
And went off down the pub.

A Winter’s Tale

My first poem of 2006, composed a few days after my father died.

I will go down to the woods tonight,
And there shall long remain.
With neither sound nor flickering light,
Until the dawning of the day.

For within that ebon fastness lies,
A many pillared hall.
Where through silence and sacrifice,
I may hear the elf king’s call.

And as I listen to that ancient lay,
I may see a silver field.
That ne’er suffered mankind’s sway,
Where none but to honour yield.

Perhaps I shall walk the faerie path,
That wends through that sweet meadow,
And come at last to the elf king’s rath,
To be greeted as friend and fellow.

There see laid upon damasked tables bright,
A feast for the Holly Lord,
There to dance away the solstice night,
Upon the moon dappled sward.

But with the morn I shall awake,
Turned ancient by the frost,
To my home my feet will make,
Tears freezing for what we’ve lost.

For what glory lies in man’s great splendour,
If he cannot see beauty in the dark night,
And measures worth by what he can squander,
Instead of what he can make good and right.

So ring out your noisesome solstice bells,
For the turning of the year,
But reflect on what the darkness tells,
It is the greed we must truly fear.

Gone with the Wind.

One cold winter solstice at the Rollright Stones a mad old druid begins to wonder why he is there and not in front of a nice warm fire with a large glass of mulled wine…

Cold rain drips down my neck,
But I'm here so what the heck,
On yet another pointless trek?
No idea of where I'm going.

As I stand before these stones,
The chill reaches to my bones,
And I wish I'd stayed at home.
Oh brilliant, now its snowing!

I know most people think me mad,
Maybe that is not so bad,
For the sanity that I once had,
Is lost and it is showing.

But the stones still draw me in,
And whisper to me, where you been?
As if they were my kith and kin.
And the world around me's slowing.

I wish I could put a finger,
On to the doubts that linger,
And ignore the golden singer,
Whose passion leaves me glowing.

When she leaves me in the dawn,
As the light of day is born,
Then I hear the huntsman's horn,
And the promise that is growing.

For an age is now at hand,
For those who'll take a stand,
Fight for this sacred land,
And keep this tradition going.

The road back home is long,
But my heart is filled with song,
My doubts they all have gone,
Replaced by certain knowing.

So I will sing out loud,
To all in man's great crowd,
Stand tall and straight and proud,
For in us the spirit's flowing!