Since the Spring Equinox 2000, for every festival of the Wheel of the Year, rain, shine, sleet, snow, ice, it didn’t matter, the group facilitated by Cerri and myself, the Anderida Gorsedd, had met together at the Long Man to celebrate on the nearest Sunday. Then the pandemic hit and we had to stop. Our last open ritual was Imbolc this year and we couldn’t have imagined the changes in our lives that have happened since then.
I played the last chord live in front of a physical audience at around 10pm on Saturday 8th March in Cornwall. Everyone was on the dance floor, and the last song I played was Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. We were all singing together. It was a great moment to remember. Again, I had no real idea of the impact the pandemic would have on my music and live shows at that moment, although it became obvious very quickly after.
At New Year’s Eve last year we sat around a campfire with friends in our garden, after a not insubstantial quantity of Gin and Tonics, laughing, talking about how many of us were happy to see the back of 2019, then standing to sing Auld Lang Syne at the sounding of Big Ben.
I was watching the news a couple of weeks ago and a psychologist was being interviewed about the best way people could cope and live with the current situation. His advice was to live as much as possible in the moment. If you do what I’ve just done and think about how things were, you’ll likely get depressed. If you look to the future for a time when things will get back to normal, you’ll get depressed, because the truth is nobody has any real idea when that might be. The only way to be is to live in the moment right now, and work with the things you can do, rather than pushing against a moveable wall demanding and wishing things are different. Like Confucius once said, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” – be like the reed. Since I heard those words I’ve tried to do that. My mind sometimes wanders but on the whole I’m happier for it.
It’s been fabulous to see how people are responding positively to the changes in our lives. For instance, when we realised we could no longer meet up on the Long Man hill in person, Cerri began to write rituals that people could do alone or in a family group and posted them to the Anderida Gorsedd Facebook group. We arranged to all do the ceremonies on the Sunday, the same date and time, we would normally meet at the Long Man, and then people could post photos of their altars and faces onto the group. A really good way to utilise the tech of social media. I’ve seen online conferences, concerts from musicians and bands I normally would never get the chance to see live, and taken part in online rituals too. Almost every time someone will say it’s not the same as in person, and that’s obviously true, but this is what we have, and I’m so thankful to have it. Our weekly DND sessions were also taken online and they have been a real lifeline.
However, each time we approach a festival date there are always a few voices suggesting we all meet up anyway, saying that hardly anyone is actually dying anymore, it’s all a worldwide government conspiracy to take away our freedom etc, etc. Along with that, one of the things I noticed recently is that suddenly there are a lot of people saying Druidry is a religion, after decades of those same people saying it isn’t a religion, it’s a spirituality. There was a reason for that – religious services were exempt from the rule of six and up to 30 could meet (as long as they adhered to a very comprehensive set of rules of course). It would never work for the Gorsedd anyway. We haven’t had less than 30 people on that hill since our very first open over 20 years ago.
So, be in the moment.
Work with what we have.
Be like the reed.
I have my 9th Facebook Live House Concert tomorrow night – Saturday 26th September- from my Facebook Page and I’m thoroughly looking forwards to it. 8pm UK time, and I’ll play some songs and you can all chat away in the comments with people you might not have seen all year. The reed within me has accepted that this is the way my live music will be at least until Spring next year. So be it. I’ll be on Facebook Live at least once a month and we will have a Pagan celebration together! The only thing I’ve changed is that the video of the show will stay active on Facebook and YouTube all month, then when I play the next show, I’ll archive the one before.
It’ll help to keep things fresh and… in the moment.
Wherever you are, whatever you may be doing, however you may be feeling, I wish you to stay well and safe.
See you live on Facebook!