In a recent post I explored ways we can reconnect to the Source if the hussle and bussle of modern life drowns out the songs of our heart. It happens to many of us, it seems, and I’d like to thank everyone who commented on that post – I know it helped a lot of people to know they were not alone. The Journey to rediscover the Source can still be part of our overall Journey and, as one comment stated, sometimes we aren’t meant to reconnect but to follow a path towards something different.
It’s all a part of the greater Journey.
This past weekend I played a gig at a very different kind of event. I was called From Dusk and Dark and Dawn and was held on the beautiful land of Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillier in the depths of Dartmoor, Devon. The event started with an evening of concerts that ended around midnight with a dance out to a fire circle where a ceremony was held to lead people out into the land on a pilgrimage until dawn when another ceremony would welcome people back around 6am.
I arrived on Friday night, the day before the event, and had the opportunity to explore their land in solitude. So at dusk I set out alone. My Immrama (Soul Quest) would be a reconfirmation of my life path.
Walking down a field and through a gateway lead into a small woodland and it was at this place I encountered the first shrine on my Imramma.
There is a silence on Dartmoor that is quite overwhelming. It’s like the moor itself absorbs sound. I stood before the shrine and bowed my head in honour of the Spirits of this Place. I could see it was a Cairn so knew that there would be something sacred buried beneath. I stayed there for some time in contemplation and blessing before I moved on.
The Sun was truly setting at this time and I walked deeper into the woods. I passed the roundhouse, and thought of the remnants of Grimspound that stood on a hill only a mile or so away. The roundhouses there were built in this exact way, from the stone of the land and the wood of the surrounding forests. I know without a doubt through my DNA research that my ancestors were here in Europe before farming began, so there is a chance that some of my ancestors were those that built Albion’s megalithic monuments, and of course lived in the roundhouses at Grimspound. Who walked this very landscape.
But as I walked into the darkened woods alone I became aware of an unwelcome feeling. Along with my Druidry I am also a fan of Heavy Metal music and Horror movies. Some people don’t get how I can love all of these things, but I do. Not those awful slasher movies but movies that focus on the supernatural, the unknown. those I love. But sometimes, when alone in an unfamiliar woodland that little itch of uncomfortable menace I feel whilst watching these movies can make an unexpected visit. I stopped walking and asked that I be left with nothing but a connection to the land, and the feeling quickly subsided.
I saw a shape in the shadows and discovered another shrine. I couldn’t see it in the dark but it was a large pole, carved with shapes. I took some time there to ponder the similarities between our ancient ancestors, and their connections to other indigenous societies. I felt that they too would have carved totems into wood, and this pole would not have been unfamiliar to them.
I bowed and walked further into the woods.
I asked the Old Ones for a sign, something just for me.
At that moment I heard the flapping of wings. Looking in the direction of the sound I saw a large Tawny Owl flying into the woods, directly towards me. I stood still, I felt the breath of its wings as it flew past my face, and landed on a branch just feet away. Turning its head to gaze in my direction. Tears came to my eyes. I felt blessed by the presence of this creature of Blodeuwedd, my Goddess, my Muse. The Owl stayed with me before flying off into the night. I could hear it throughout my Imramma, calling from the woods. When I returned to the same place the next morning to thank the Spirits once again I saw the detail of the Totem pole I had momentarily visited before my encounter with the Owl.
The tears came once more.
I sat and opened to the Spirit of Place once more and asked for a blessing from the Horned One. I went deep into a senses meditation where I opened all of my senses to the world around me. I sat there in the dawn sunshine. After moments I heard a movement behind me. A rustling through the long grasses of the marsh. I turned slowly to face the most glorious Roebuck. His coat shining in the dawn sun. Again we caught each other’s eyes. I looked into the eye of the Lord of the Wild, then he slowly, and quite calmly walked away from me. No fear. I watched as he disappeared into the green.
I breathed in the experience. Felt the blessings. Felt blessed.
The next night the concert was fabulous. The ritual was powerful, and as I walked once more into the land through the avenue of blazing torches I knew where my pilgrimage would begin. I spent hours in contemplation within the woods of Owl and Deer. I listened to storytellers within the roundhouse. I listened to the land. My night’s journey was a deeply personal one, bless by the events of the previous evening. I feel renewed, open, alive, ready to write even more songs.
When I told Nigel and Carolyn about my experiences on their land and he told me that on the reverse side of the Owl Totem… is a Deer Totem.
These moments are rare, but when they happen, they are A True Blessing.