A blessed release from the week’s rain but the chalk still wet underfoot. Slippery too, as we walked along the old track to the South Downs. A blue sky battling with scattered clouds, and rooks sharing their wisdom on the wing, calling to those walkers below that it was time.

The Old One was here early.

No white cloak across the land just yet, although Her breath was beginning its late Autumn exhale, and it wouldn’t be long before that gentle breeze became a storm, stripping yellow and red leaves from dozing trees to leave them bare and reaching into darker skies.

The hill not far now.

Flat.

Round.

People already there.

Voices.

And the Long Man standing in the Door to the Otherworld. The door open wide and the veil thin. Voices of those gathered on the hill joined by voices of those whose eyes looked through the veil, and the mists. A circle of people then. A circle conjured as the green turns to grey, grass becoming iron, and the hill, the hollow hill shape-shifts becoming the Great Cauldron with feet upon its rim. Before living eyes the mists of Annwn bubble and shift. And beyond, eyes of those who had gone before see those they love, those who love them.

The Spirits called, the prayer spoken, the Awen sang – from The Deep it came.

Safety.

Community.

Names spoken into the air, names of those gone before, names said out loud. Never forgotten. Tears. Helping hands. So many names. From the four directions, food, offerings, love, shared. The Bards speak their words. Truth. Honour. Remembering.

An Oath of Peace then, from lungs, into breath, into words, spreads out from the hollow hill, from the rim of the Cauldron, across the land, and the Awen is sung. The Spirits thanked, the circle uncast, returns to the land, and the Cauldron withdraws its mist and withdraws its iron rim, turning grey to green as grass lay underfoot once more.

But look now…

Can you still see it there, just below the surface, spinning slowly, the veil still thin? The rooks know. They see it, and they call out to Her, to bring the first storms, to exhale, as the Earth sleeps, and Winter’s cloak moves ever closer.

So may it be.