A Journey Home

A Journey Home

For so much of my life, I didn’t really know you. I looked through eyes that never really saw you, and therefore you never really got to know me. I walked on your green fields, soft Downs, and saw your seas in storm, although mostly with more gentle small regular waves, but I yearned for the Atlantic crash on Granite rocks, a ferocious boom vibrating the land and shimmering air. You are more delicate than the heather-covered moor, with its reaching rocky Tors and hidden bogs. You feel younger, more of a beautiful garden.

My memory searched for a time before you were given your name by a people who, for my whole life, I had been told were violent Germanic-speaking invaders who pushed others to the far west. I learned your older name. Was I a descendant of those ‘invaders’? I continued to reach towards the far-west place of my birth where an old language was being re-learned. Holding on to the feeling of belonging. I did feel at home, but not at home. Home was still the great South West, and for so many years my eyes and ears were closed to you.

It seems the story I had learned growing up wasn’t entirely truthful. The Romans, after hundreds of years, left a political vacuum. People did migrate. They always have, and they continue to do so, but the evidence of a mass invasion at that time is only there in the rare writings of later clerics, who had their own agendas, and the much later Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – written again for political reasons, and not always an accurate historical record – certainly not backed up in the archaeological record.

Caesar wrote, when he arrived on his failed attempt to invade, that he found a land with three languages – Gaelic, Brythonic, and Germanic. It seems that the Celtic tribes of the southeast were already speaking an ancient version of what would become English. Which makes sense – across the channel is where much of the trade would be. Some of the Celtic tribes in mainland Europe were also speaking a Germanic language. I find the story I have been told was very convenient, very clean and uncomplicated. Unlike history, which is mixed up, has many stories, and nuances.

The more I looked, the more holes I found in the narrative I had been taught. And the more holes I found the more my eyes saw you. And the more I saw you, the more I fell in love with you. Stories have power. Myths have power. But we can see very clearly what happens when myth becomes adopted as truth. It separates people, divides and makes people ‘other’. The more I read the more I realised what I had always believed to be the truth was closer to what happened here all those centuries ago. That I am an island dweller. That my Welsh and Scottish brothers and sisters are my kin. That we share a complicated history, and that we all belong. As do all peoples who find this glorious, beautiful land of Albion their home. The story never began, and it will never end. I sit on your Downs, once covered by ocean. I see your forests, once covering the Weald. I see the names of your towns, villages, hills and valleys – Saxon names, Brythonic names, Danish names, and old English names, revealing the incredibly rich and diverse journey of this old place.

I’ve never liked any form of nationalism. Not one other creature on this planet other than a human knows where the borders lie between ‘countries’. Feeling at home is a visceral instinct and feeling. I feel at home when I visit Australia – I have no idea why and it makes no sense logically, I just do. I felt at home on an Italian mountain listening to the cowbells in the valley below. I feel at home on the banks of Llyn Tegid and on the island of Iona. Home seems to me something other than a place of birth. It’s more of a deep connection that is there at a spiritual level. A joining together of the essence of the soul with the land. The more I walk this Path the more labels fall away, and the less I feel the need to have my feelings ratified by history books. If there is one thing I can own it is my Journey – the Journey of my life. More and more I know for sure that this journey is all about connection. The things that unite and let us see through human constructs, whether they be political, cultural, religious, or anything else, and see the human, plant, animal, or bird, as kin.

A journey of discovery, exploring the roots of my locality, helped me drop any thoughts that only one place can be Home. Home is the land beneath me, the air around me, the seas and rivers that help bring that land to life, and I know that land when my soul, and its soul, meet.


29 responses to “A Journey Home”

  1. Wow you’ve expressed my thoughts perfectly Damh, thank you. I’ve moved so much from being tiny,over 30 moves in the first 7 decades of my life. No place and every place have had some memories of home for me. It’s not the houses it’s the land. It’s all the creatures and smells and colours. Each is a part of me and my journey round the spiral. Thanks again at this time of balance

  2. How beautifully expressed! Thank you for sharing you wisdom, your words, and your music. They mean so much to so many.

  3. That was a beautiful read. It felt very familiar.
    For me, the feeling of home is where my children are. They live in three different places, far away from me, but when I visit with them, I am truly at home.
    I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, that is my first home, and now it feels ever far away both in distance and memory.
    I don’t visit as often as I would like to, but when I do, the connection feels weak after all these years. Perhaps it’s because my anchors are gone, meaning my parents. Or maybe I have just been away for too long. All I know and feel is my children are my home. My grandson is my little love.
    That’s where home is to me, the love of family, no matter where they are.

    Peace and love Dave xx

  4. These Isles are set in a foaming, seething, distilling Cauldron of the waters of the sea, steeping, cooking, blending all who find their way here, and make these islands Home.
    Your words read like beautiful lyrics, Damh, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  5. This is beautiful! I have not traveled far from where I was born but I have a kinship with places, a homesickness for places I’ve never been. So too, did my husband who longed for Australia, having never been there. Home is a kinship. You’ve written this so well.

  6. Oh, this is a wonderful love letter to the Isle of the Mighty. I think the land loves you as much as you love Her.
    Blessed be, my friend.
    Laura Capshaw

  7. Beautiful and true. We humans seem to delight in creating divides between us: Countries, religions, tribes, teams, it’s everywhere there are humans. Saddest of all is our divisions from each other and from our true home, the Earth. Too many relish and thrive in division, not enough love and join with The Mother.

  8. This was interesting and struck a chord with me. I grew up in London and now live in Kent. I knew mum was Welsh and dad came from London and that was it. As a child I always felt my Welsh roots calling me and also deplored invasions by the Romans and Saxons/Jutes. I also had a deep love for Devon and Cornwall, fuelled by my love of Arthur. I also learned later that there was little evidence of invasion by the Germanic tribes.
    Then, a few years ago, I did a DNA test and much research on my family tree. I discovered, alongside my Welsh roots, I had ancestors on both sides of my family from Cornwall and Devon. To go with that I had ancestors from Sussex and Essex, not to mention 10% Scandinavian heritage. So that was why Odin had already knocked on my door, along with my Celtic deities. Now I’m free to honour all of my heritage and the lands they came from. I’m so grateful for this gift.

  9. Wow. I so can connect to that feeling about home. I, as a German, have somehow felt a home when visiting London for the first time. Adding to that feeling came an unexplainable feeling of belonging, and of orientation, it felt like I had been there before, which wasn’t the case, though.
    After that, every single time I spent in England I felt at home. It’s about time to visit Wales and Scotland, and Eire.

  10. Beautifully said,sir. I myself have yet to find Home,though the place I am now feels achingly familiar.
    Like time itself, borders are merely constructs of convenience. Too often used for divisive and hateful agendas instead of suggestions of a flow’s change, a subtle shift of past and present.
    No matter where we stand, we’re all still sharing the same Earth; just loitering on different parts of her. Where our feet are planted should not define who we are: we are Earthers, every one of us. I dearly wish we could all embrace our similarities instead of rejecting our differences.
    Thank you for your words, your music and your spirit. You are helping me to find home.

  11. I’m newly curious about my Cornish ancestry and my lifelong allurement to wells, standing stones, all things Tintagel or Merlin. My deepest imagination lies there.

    Yet, I was born in the States and now migrate north & south with the geese & the whales on the Pacific coast. I find myself at home in both forest & desert, curious about the way landscapes move me to awe & connection. Curious about how natural migration feels in my bones and how “home” is both elusive and everywhere.

  12. Beautiful words Damh. I live in a semi-rural small town I didn’t think I’d end up in and I’m learning to appreciate it more as I get older. The small woodland areas and the agricultural land that surrounds us. Seeing the seasons change in the fields. I agree with you about feeling at home in far off places as well.

  13. Such wise words, and necessary. I came here to my home in these islands from Boston 22 years ago on Monday, after the awful trauma of 9/11. I wondered if I would make the journey that brought me here and against the odds kept me here.

    Home is a complicated sensation/emotion/reality. Some folks never really feel at home anywhere – not even in their own skin. Such much be very hard for them.

    You are blessed to feel home so many places.

  14. I struggle about whether or not to return “home “where I have family even though I feel connected to the land where I currently live. thank you for this thoughtful exploration.

  15. Fascinating reading. I very much enjoyed it, thank you for pointing out that home is where you are, not where you are from. I have felt this ever since I first came to Devon on holiday with my late husband many years ago. I always thought I would have reservations about leaving the place of my birth. In the end I locked the door of the house I had always wanted, the one I thought I would spend my life in, and handed the key to the new owners, and walked away without a second backward glance, got in the car and drove to our new life here in Devon. Since then my life has been transformed for the better. So I guess we were called here for this reason.
    Jeannie Adey

  16. That was so beautiful. I’m sitting here on my lunchbreak at work, fighting back tears. I feel the same thing each time I visit England, Albion. My ancestral home. I’ve never felt more at home anywhere in my life, than there. I can smell the green, feel the air, see what once was and hold it close to my heart. Thank you Damh.

  17. Many years ago I stood looking at a river with steps going down one side and up the other. In the river were children playing and people washing clothes. Inwardly I said: Easily could a cross this river and go for a walk on the other side. Above, on an elaborate bridge, was the international border between Thailand and Laos. Huge, ornate gates and border crossing posts sat atop that bridge separating people who commingled below and I pondered at the stupidity of international borders and that it is by man-made laws, greed, and oppression that we cannot peacefully coexist. This planet is our home and we are all one human species upon a single world. Perhaps one day we will recognize and manifest that reality.

  18. Of course you feel at home in Australia, the beer here is excellent & we drive on the correct side of the road. Seriously, great post Damh, hope you’re well & will come back here again soon, Sydney in particular, cheers

  19. I am Danish, lived in the UK for 14 years, and now I live in Sweden. I was so homesick so much of my time, until I finally started to bond with the nature around me, and realized that that is home, wherever I am.

    That was my salvation, so I believe I understand your feelings here.

    May we all always connect to where ever we are.

  20. Spot on and beautifully put. My feelings exactly.
    I grew up a Sussex man, my father was London born with some Scottish ancestry.
    My mother was a Welsh woman, born in the Valleys to a Welsh miner. Her mother though was born in Argentina.
    I’m 66 now, I have lived in Ireland for 15 years, I’m now (officially) a ‘citizen’ of this beautiful country.
    In true fact though I am, and always will be, a Citizen of the world.
    Our world that we share with everyone, and with all living and seemingly – to some – inanimate things.
    Our wonderful planet is my home. /|\

  21. I love this beautifully written as always but it is strangely similar in tone to a piece I wrote recently about dna, that it was dna that creates our identity and our feelings of home and by ignoring the hidden secrets of your forbears dna you can pit yourself against the world but by ignoring labels listening to the land and earth energies we can catch glimpses of that ancient dna colour and gender become superfluous we are one kind earth kind and wow that just happens to be our home too. commune with the natural world we are animals too and as such just as much a part of nature as a bird or a rabbit or a tree or the sky or the sea, we live in cement and concrete jungles turning our backs to nature and the land no wonder we don’t feel at home. Just my thoughts which you seem to echo a little in your article my familial lineage is Celtic Irish Scottish and Welsh with some Romany thrown in yet I have a severe dislike of kernow I have no reason why it makes me feel uncomfortable if I am honest yet wales Scotland Ireland are always calling to me as is also Brittany in France but I am afraid to say not Cornwall. Odd but sort of intriguing too bb xx Ronnie

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