The Green Grimoire – Disconnect to Reconnect

The Green Grimoire – Disconnect to Reconnect

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It is you who are broken, you are part of me,

There is no separation, so dance sing, and be free.

So I wrote back in 2000. I’ve said this before, it’s a funny old thing writing songs. Sometimes you can sweat and work over a single line for days, months even, and at other times the words seem to appear on the page and you wonder where they came from. Some lines follow you through life, and others can sometimes fade into the background, only to step forward at some future date and remind you with a big fat slap around the head.

Those lines gave me a big old slap some months ago.

I’m 100% sure I’m not alone in this feeling. Look, I’m going to say it, Brexit, combined with Trump, Johnson, followed by Covid, has not been good for the mental health. I recognised that my soul needed healing and I knew exactly where I needed to go.

I wanna go where I can heal my soul, talk to the wisest people I know…

As I said at the end of the last Green Grimoire post, I got on my walking boots and headed off to the woods. It was a crisp Spring morning. The destination was Warren Hill, a woodland in the Sussex countryside locally known as Sleepy Hollow. Owned and managed by the National Trust it can be busy sometimes, but it’s big enough to walk through and still feel quite alone. It is on part of the Sussex Downs and there are areas of ancient deciduous woodland, an old pine plantation, a beechwood called Jenner’s Wood, and a network of paths runs throughout. We parked the car, Oscar jumped out, head-turning in all directions, tail wagging.

Sussex is a highly populated county. It’s never as quiet as those areas of the Highlands and Islands where it’s still possible to stand and not hear any human-made sound, but in Spring it is still such a beautiful landscape – like a glorious garden paradise. Immediately I could smell the earth. I could hear birdsong and the swift rat-a-tat of a woodpecker. A few children playing in the field just beside the car park. We chose our path and headed up the slope of the Downs into the woods.

Woodlands are communities. Trees, plants, animals, insects, birds. This is their home. I am obviously a visitor and I always like to tune into the Spirit of the Woods as I step within. The trees are doing tree things, the birds and animals doing bird and animal things, but I am no threat. I may take the shape of one of Nature’s most feared predators, but that is not why I am here today. Very rarely, but it does happen, I get the impression to take another path – don’t walk this way – but usually the woodlands literally open up, and welcomes with open arms. Well, open branches.

Deeper into the woods and the air feels and smells like the most healing elixir. It touches my skin and I get goosebumps. As I breathe it in I know that I am in a deep relationship with the green around me – I breathe out what they need, they breathe out what I need, and the cycle continues. With every step, I let go of the noise of human-centric existence. I’ve muted my phone, I’m not thinking about that ‘discussion’ on Facebook, that bill that needs to be paid, what blah said to blah. For this moment there is only me, Cerri, Oscar and the woods. And it’s bliss. These moments are so vitally important. It doesn’t stop all of those other things from happening, but it also is true that those things don’t need my constant attention or indeed change if I take moments of peace and retreat.

For a long time, I had felt that I needed to be utterly in touch with world events. I would watch the news and look at the news apps on my phone maybe every hour or so. Look through Twitter, scroll endlessly (I mean, literally endlessly) through my Facebook feed, and the result was I would get exhausted, depressed and burnt out. I’ve come to the realisation that this is exactly what these platforms want me to do. It used to be that the news was on TV at 1 pm and at 6 pm each day, and I would sit there as a child wondering why my Dad would shout at the TV when they so obviously couldn’t hear him. Then years later I sat reading political posts from friends on Facebook doing exactly the same thing – shouting at the politicians – and they couldn’t hear them either. The difference is that now it’s 24-hour news, a lot of it is not The News, but more like Some News, and then it’s incredibly hard to know if it’s even the ‘Truth’. And what is the ‘Truth’ anyway…?

So I don’t do that anymore. I look at Facebook maybe once every other day, for about 5 minutes. I read the news once a day. That’s plenty. And I’ve noticed that the loss of my constant vigilance has changed nothing. It’s all still there when I read it, but now on my terms. Stepping into the car to go to the woods I silence my phone. I know all of the noise is still there in my pocket, but in my pocket, it will stay. My phone is now just a phone, and maybe a camera.

That’s it.

I’m here to slow down.

Trees are magnificent beings. All being well most will outlive us, and their lives operate at a much slower pace. A much slower pace. Slowing down when walking into a woodland is so important. Yes, silence the inner chatter, be open, but ever wondered why you hear so much birdsong when you just walk briskly into the woods and rarely see any animals? The birds sound lovely, don’t they? But that song is the sentinel birds of the woodland shouting at the top of their voices “The most feared predator of the planet is coming! Get yourselves away, NOW!” If we really slow down, breathe, tune in, and then walk gently into the woods, we might well hear a different tone in the songs of the birds.

The walk is done.

Healed, alive, rested, and reconnected.

If you agree, come and join me, under the trees.

13 responses to “The Green Grimoire – Disconnect to Reconnect”

  1. You are right – you are not alone in those feelings. My equivalent of your Sussex woodland was to clear off ‘up Norf’ from where I originally hail, to the Lake District. Devastating to see the damage done my Storm Awen to the trees – but just being amongst them and using the Druid’s prayer to ask for their protection seemed to help (met at least – and I hope them). Loving this new blog series btw.

  2. I can’t express how those words and more from your first album hit me when I first heard them and every time since. I wish I’d known about Druidry earlier in my life, but then I wouldn’t be who I am.

    I recently glanced at my old Druid blogs written when I heard the awen more clearly, and I can’t believe I wrote them. It really drives home how things have mentally and spiritually shifted in the past couple of years.

  3. Lovely picture of you and Cerri and a really really lovely post on a day when I needed it most.
    Thank you so much.

  4. I love your songs but I think that Under the Trees is in a different league! It spoke deeply to me and my feet itched to do just that, walk into the wood and just ‘be’. Thank you.

  5. Hi Dahm and Cerri.

    We so agree !

    Message ends. Looking forward to reconnecting with all in June!

    Love , peace and blessings from both of us to both of you!

  6. I couldn’t agree more. As with most things too much can creat an imbalance. If I’m ever feeling that in my own life the woods are the first place I head. I slowly meander the boar trails between the towering pines and focus on the stories of the small things; all essential parts of the whole.

  7. This really resonated with me. I have been on hyperalert for most of 6-1/2 years now. We lost our home in a wildfire and back then social media was the only outlet for news on access, help, support, etc. Then it was the main way for alerts and news on the new fires that have hit the area almost every year since. I found druidry as a path to heal, but there is this constant chatter. Wildfire alert has alternated with virus updates and now the sad happenings in Ukraine. I need to step away from the news but it has been a struggle, I am now uncomfortable without the constant input.

  8. It was lovely to see you both with that wonderful anticipation of setting out in the woods in your smiles and eyes! There’s so much nagging background pain in the world today that I think our souls need this regular green cleansing. A good woodland detox so we can refresh, re-energise and return to our role of being a true part of nature, not human onlookers weighed down with stuff.Having a chat with trees, birds and all creatures (even or especially worms from whom we can learn an awful lot!)immediately alters our human frame of mind. And yes Dave, Under the Trees says it all!
    Many Blessings to you both

  9. Hi Damh,

    I turned 40 in October and spent a long period of reflection, in peace and quiet, in the months preceding this. I too felt exhausted by the politics and pandemic. I needed time-out. It wasn’t a deliberate choice. It just happened.

    However, I can’t sit and do nothing any longer. The cost of living, partygate and Ukraine, have motivated me to action – well, on a tiny scale! I’ve seen videos of your activism and you have inspired me these past few years. You have inspired my journey. Finding your music and your being is one of the greatest gifts the world has given me. That’s not nonsense. Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Queen and Damh the Bard are my constant companions.

    Thankyou for these posts. I am now off to Rainham Marshes with my six year old son for some birdwatching.

    Looking forward to seeing you play in Alfriston soon.

    Regards,

    Steve G

  10. Thank you Damh for taking us on a beautiful journey to reconnect with Nature. Listening to your new single Under the Trees after reading the article was a magical experience. I’ve added your song to my Spotify playlist.

  11. Tottaly agree with you. Thank you. I do need, too, the silence of the woods, only the sound of birds and wind flowing through the leaves, the wet land smells…Nature!

  12. Absolutely agree I was out and about at Stone hedge this week and strolling round the gardens in Chichester cathedral, I’m in a very strange place at the moment, I’m a baptized Christian who to my surprise really connects with your music and the peace it brings to my soul.

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