I find the moors of the West Country deeply inspiring. If ever I’m feeling any kind of disconnection from the Source of my inspiration, a visit to the moors will often reopen the floodgates for the Awen to flow once more. I was feeling that disconnection just before I wrote this song so I got into my car and headed west.
I knew where I was going – it’s a pilgrimage I take at least once a year, to Merrivale and Grimspound on Dartmoor.
Grimspound is a late Bronze Age settlement high on the moor. It’s surrounded by a large fallen stone wall, and inside you can still see the remains of the roundhouses. On a beautiful day it is incredibly peaceful, but on a typical Dartmoor day, with the wind and the rain, it must have been a harsh place to live.
I sat with my guitar inside the remains of one of the roundhouses and just began to play on the guitar – looking around, breathing in the history of the place, imagining it full of life. What kind of people lived there. A Raven called overhead, and I felt I could see torchlight on the Tors either side of me. Voices of the Ancestors singing. The Land singing. And the melody of the guitar began to take shape. A ghostly and reflective refrain.
“The wind and the rain, still whisper its name, and the name that they whisper, Grimspound.”
Deep in the Wild Land,
Placed by a cold hand,
A tribe of the Heartland,
A world far away…
At the time of the settlement much of Dartmoor would still have been forest.
The forest surrounds them,
And Spirit has found them,
They drink from the fountain,
On the noon of the day…
The water source is still there, running through the settlement.
The song came in waves. Voices telling their story. Me listening, writing.
It truly is a magical place. A year or so later on a clear night Cerri and I initiated two people as Druids. There is no light polution that reaches that far onto the moor. I had never seen to many stars.
The initiates waited in one of the roundhouses, and we brought each one, in turn, to the larger roundhouse and each one took that step onto the path of the modern Druid.
No sounds other than our voices, and the occasional breath of wind, and maybe the whispered blessing of the Ancestors.