Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Good Days and Bad Days

I am not a morning person at the best of times. Since T left on 17th August, quite frankly I haven't wanted to get out of bed at all on some mornings. These are the bad days, when a great weight of grey depression presses down on me and everything just seems so pointless. Luckily for me, staying in bed is not an option, as the animals need feeding and letting out of their houses whether I feel like it or not. Dragging myself up and out feels like a Herculean task at such times, yet there is no doubt that doing so is better in the long-run for my sanity and my mood.

Even so, some days have passed in a tearful haze. Compared to this, I have found the angry days much easier to cope with. Although at times my anger has burned so white-hot I feared it would consume me, self-righteous fury feels much better than soul-sucking depression and despair!

Luckily, my brain is also involved, and I know, even if I can't always feel it, that these shifting emotions are all part of the process of coping, healing and moving on. The five stages of grief are said to be Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, all of which I have experienced to some degree or another in the last week and a half. I expect to continue moving back and forth through them for quite some time to come, before I move fully into Acceptance. But for now, it helps to know they are normal, and to let them come and go.

It hasn't all been doom and gloom, though. I have been blessed with intervals of normality, working in the garden, soaking in the bath with a good book or talking with friends, family and neighbours. Occasionally the sun has come out, which seems to help enormously! I have been trying to self-care by getting enough sleep and eating healthily (although admittedly there has been more than one chocolate binge...). Music has helped too, either cheerful, dance-y stuff, or Kirsty MacColl's wry, funny observations on life and love. And I have found Alanis Morissette's 'You Oughta Know' at full volume astonishingly therapeutic! Occasionally the universe has sent little surprise gifts, such as yesterday, when I found these begonias uprooted and dumped by the roadside, presumably by someone clearing out their summer bedding plants. I thought the poor things looked like they still had plenty of life in them and deserved a second chance, so I brought them home and potted them up.

But more than anything I have been cheered and heartened by the love and care shown me by friends, family and the blogging community. As well as the lovely messages of support people left here after my last post, people have been phoning, emailing and sending cards/letters to let me know they are thinking of me. Many have offered to come and stay, to hold my hand or help me with the work here Halfway Up a Hill, or offered me their own living space as a 'bolt-hole' should I need one. Friends locally have stopped by with gifts of food in case I wasn't eating properly and taken me out on day trips to get away from it all. And today I received a lovely, lovely gift from my friend Paul, which touched me so much I cried and laughed all at once. You can see it here.

Thank you all so much. Your love, kindness and support has helped immeasurably. This is a hard time for me, but at the same time I know just how lucky I am to have such wonderful people around me.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Summer's End

I always find a sadness in this time of year. Although the end of August is still technically summer, there is a sense that everything has peaked and it is the beginning of the end.

This year that sense is overwhelming as events in my private life mirror the seasonal shifts outside. It seems my marriage is over.

If you are shocked and surprised by that news, having read what I have written here previously about my relationship with T, then you are not alone. I was taken completely by surprise by his announcement that he was leaving me for another woman. As well as feeling sad, hurt, angry, confused and anxious, I am also feeling unbelievably stupid. How could I not have known?

I won't write more now. I just wanted to let anyone reading this know what was happening, and why I haven't blogged recently. I may not blog too much in the near future - or I may be on here every day venting and/or pondering this strange turn of events. Or distracting myself by writing about other stuff. I don't really know at the moment - I don't seem to know anything at all for certain right now. Except that summer's ending.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Creating Sweetness

Some years ago, during a trance journey, I saw a vision of how a community in coming together and working together can be like a hive of bees: by harmoniously combining our efforts we can create something sweet and satisfying.
Last weekend I joined with other members of the British Reclaiming community to collaboratively create our sweet and satisfying Summer Gathering for 2008. This year a whole new group of volunteers had taken on the task of organising the event, in a completely new venue. They did a wonderful job, and had obviously given much thought to the planning process. For example, they had researched some of the local beauty spots and sacred sites so that people could explore the wider area if they wanted to. They had set up a 'Magic Tent' on the ritual ground, in case of wet weather (and it was just as well they had, as the weather was less than kind!). And they had a provisional programme of workshops, talks and activities planned, but also encouraged people to add their own offerings to the mix, from one-on-one skill swaps, like tarot readings or massage, to additional activities that everyone could join in.
The Gathering ran from Friday 8th to Tuesday 12th August; I went along on the Saturday and Sunday (luckily for me, the Organisers had picked a venue only a few miles from where I live!). My Mum and my friend Elizabeth came along on both days, and on Sunday another friend, Pinky, joined us too.
We began Saturday morning with a meeting where we each put into a pot those things we were hoping for from the Gathering - people put in a wide variety of 'wants' ranging from the more abstract like 're-connecting with my community', to more specific requests, e.g. 'a discussion about the runes', or 'a shoulder massage'. Then into another pot we put our offerings, which again ranged from abstract ('I will be here to listen if anyone wants to talk'), to specific ('I offer a workshop on Ecstatic Pagan Dance'). From this a very packed and interesting programme took shape, which people were able to choose from or add to when they arrived.
I co-taught two workshops myself, one on each day. On Saturday Suzanne and I co-taught 'Becoming an Ancestor' which is a trance journey into the future, designed to get people thinking about the fact that we are creating the future now - and what our hopes, fears and responsibilities around that may be. And on Sunday Pinky and I co-taught 'How to Plan a Ritual', which generated some very interesting discussions and some helpful sharing of ideas and experience. As well as these two workshops I really enjoyed Sid's fascinating presentation about local sacred sites, had fun creating a labyrinth in the rain with Penny, joined Sylvia's discussion about Transition Towns, was thoroughly entertained during a memorable Bardic Circle under the stars (David's story a great start to proceedings and as witty as ever), learned the Welsh translation of some well-known Pagan chants, picked up some useful tips on how to lead a spiral dance, helped plan the Sunday evening ritual with Tobie, Lynda and Diana, took part in the Sunday evening ritual round the campfire, discovered from Adi how to work out my 'Personality Card' and 'Soul Card' using the tarot, ate a lot of delicious food (the lemon drizzle cake was to die for!), spent a lot of money in the fund-raising auction and won some fabulous raffle prizes. And of course I also spent a great deal of time gossiping over cups of coffee with dear friends and making some lovely new ones.
I found that by the end of the weekend I was very, very tired. But being part of creating the sweetness that we all shared at the Gathering was worth it. So worth it.
Blessed Be.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Sad, Sad News

The goslings have been growing almost visibly over the last month, their baby fluff almost entirely replaced by feathers. They are almost as big as their parents, and sometimes I have to look twice to tell the difference.

But today I came home from picking my Mum up from the station (she has come up to attend the Summer Gathering) to a horrible shock: something had killed one of the goslings.

It must have happened while I was out, otherwise I would have heard the commotion. Almost anything sets the geese off shouting, and an attack on one of them would have caused a huge uproar.

When we got back, I took the afternoon grain ration down to the chickens and geese, and knew something was wrong immediately by the silence - the sight of me bringing food always causes a hubbub of excitement. The geese were nowhere to be seen, the chickens strangely crestfallen. I went immediately into the goose run, anxious as to what I might find.

The buzzard flew up as I approached, but vegetation obscured the view until I rounded the pond. By now I could hear goose murmurs from their shed, and my first thought on seeing the pile of feathers on the bank was that the buzzard had killed a pigeon in the run and the geese were freaked out and hiding. But as I got closer it was clearly too big for a pigeon. And too torn up for me to identify which goose it was.

I went to the shed, and found Angel, Buffy and Sunny huddled together. The victim was Snowy. I immediately decided to shut them in for the night with their grain, while I (a) cleared away the corpse and (b) checked the fences for breaches - at this stage I wasn't sure if the buzzard had been merely taking advantage of left-overs from someone else's kill (e.g. a fox).

Unfortunately, as I went to get the grain, the bereaved family chose to follow me out, perhaps sensing that it was now safe. They immediately saw Snowy's remains. It's hard to imagine that a goose has facial expressions, but believe me, I saw Buffy's face as she looked at the torn and broken body. And in her eyes, I saw her heart break. This is the moment that keeps coming back to me. Not the clearing away of feathers, flesh and bone. Not the search for evidence of fox involvement (there was none, no breached fences, no paw prints). Not the resigned quiet of the remaining residents of the goose shed, or the hysterical clucking that erupted from the chickens when I finally got around to feeding them. Poor, poor Buffy. Somehow, I feel I have let her down.

Sometimes I regret that I have not been able to have children of my own. But sometimes, very occasionally, I get a glimpse of the unbelievable pain of a bereaved parent - and I think perhaps, just perhaps, I am lucky that I will never ever experience that depth of grief.

Sorry, Angel, Buffy and Sunny. And Rest in Peace, Snowy.

(The photo shows Snowy and Sunny together in happier times. Snowy in the foreground, Sunny behind her).

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


On Saturday, we celebrated Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) with others from the Carmarthenshire Pagan community. One of the themes of the festival is 'abundance', as it marks the grain harvest, and although we had a lower attendance than at the Litha ritual, we certainly managed to manifest plenty of abundance! The Earth altar was laden with corn dollies and summer fruits. At its foot was a 'Basket of Abundance' - we had asked those attending to bring a gift to give away, preferably something they had made themselves. As it turned out, most people had brought several gifts to give away, and the 'Basket of Abundance' was brimming with home-made jam, baked goods, herbal goodies and handicrafts. In the end, the basket was passed several times and we all went home with not one, but three gifts each - and there was still a surplus which will go into the Carmarthen Moot raffle to raise funds for community projects. What an excellent, practical, magical example of how sharing your harvest brings even more bounty.
P.S. Paul has written a great account of our ritual here.

Avalon Spring 2009

Early days yet, I know, but a quick reminder that Avalon Spring will be held 23rd-28th May 2009. We will be working with 'The Charge of the Goddess', which I'm really looking forward to. And we have a new website address which will have all the details as they become available.

Go to to check it out and admire Anne-Marie's excellent artwork.