Thinking About – Home and our Connection to the Land

I was born in Cornwall, that mysterious peninsula at the far south west of Britain. A place of moorland, majestic rocky shores with the mighty Atlantic ocean pounding it’s grey stone cliffs. A place of small fishing villages, strange folklore customs, and small tortured trees with branches blown by the prevailing wind. It’s a wild place. A romantic place. A magical place full of stone circles, fogous, and other ancient sites. The remnants of the tin mining industry still stand in the far western edge. My teeth and bones were made from the food and water of that land.

Our family moved to Sussex when I was very young but returned almost every year for our holidays. For the vast majority of my life I have felt like a Cornish ex-pat. I loved Sussex, but it always felt like a huge manicured garden to me. Something that could have been created by Capability Brown. The county is soft, with rolling chalk downs and white cliffs. For the vast majority of my life my heart yearned for the wildness of the Cornish moor, the chest-pounding rumble of the mighty Atlantic waves crashing on the coast.

Many times I thought I had got Cornwall out of my system. Some years ago I was sure I had. Then I went back and began to walk the path from Boscastle harbour up to the cliff tops. It was very early Spring. It was raining. Hard. The wind was blowing a gale. But I walked on. As I approached the apex of the path, and the sea came into view, the rain drenching my face, my tears joined the rain and my heart burst with relief at that feeling of being home.

The Welsh call it Hireath. I don’t think there is an exact English translation of that word but the feeling I had that day on Boscastle cliffs was it.

About three years ago things began to change for me. I joined Ancestry.com and started to explore my recent ancestry. Both of my parents hailed from London and the Carshalton area, as far as we knew that’s where we came from. But on my mother’s side I traced it back to the 17th century with a man coming here from Bohemia, and when I started with my Fathers side I found that we weren’t Londoners at all – we were from Sussex. I discovered that all of my Father’s ancestors hailed from around the Washington/Storrington area, with one of my ancestors from the 18th century buried in Portslade cemetery, which is about a half mile from my current house. There were also strong links with Selsey. So, in reality, our family had moved around, but all of us had eventually come back to our ancestral home. I had ancestors in the mud of Sussex. I started at that point to feel more at home, but only a little.

Then earlier this year I took that same walk again. From Boscastle Harbour up to the cliff tops. It was amazing, of course. Dramatic and powerful. But something had changed. On the drive back to Sussex I saw the South Downs and for the first time in my life I felt like I was driving home, rather than away from home.

There’s one more little story to tell.

We are blessed to know the name of an ancient Pagan Goddess from the South of England. Her name is Andred, and she is directly linked to the Weald and the old forest of Anderida that used to stretch from Dover to Southampton. Our Druid Grove have been working very deeply with her over the past couple of months and on one night we each took a Journey to meet her. I won’t go into details about the Journey but the next day I took Oscar for a walk. Our usual lay-by was full so no river walk that day. I just drove on and took a road I hadn’t been down before. I found a parking bay in the countryside next to a public footpath, got Oscar from the car, and started to walk. It was a part of the county I hadn’t seen before. Open fields spread out before me, bees were buzzing in the hedgerows, old Oaks and Ash trees bordered the path. Out into the countryside I walked and the path linked up to an old trail called the Monarch’s Way. It was during this walk that I felt the land notice me. It was like the very Spirit of Sussex turned and saw me for the first time, as I saw Her too. I could hear a voice saying, “So! There you are! Finally!” And that voice was a female voice.

I don’t think Cornwall will ever leave me. It’s too much a part of who I am. But it is so good to finally feel at home on the land I walk upon – to feel a true part of where I live. It’s taken nearly 45 years, but finally I’ve made that soul connection. I’m sure there are many of you who feel similar. It’s hard to feel like you are torn between two places. It’s quite a relief to finally be able to let that go.

By | 2017-05-25T20:10:19+00:00 May 25th, 2017|Categories: druidry, Thinking About|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Peter Freeman May 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Just a thought that you might relate to. The best translation of “Hiraeth ” that I ever heard is. “The hearts longing for the place the soul calls home”

  2. JeninCanada May 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I feel this way about the Algoma highlands in Northern Ontario, Canada. Something inside me releases when I get into the rough Canadian shield land, the whispering pines and sighing spruces, the crash and roar of Superior’s waves beating endlessly against sheer cliffs where hawks soar. I don’t live there anymore but when I go home to visit my family, I know I am going Home. Where I am now is just where I live.

  3. R May 25, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I can really relate to this post. I moved to south Lincolnshire eleven years ago and for along time I just didn’t feel quite at home. The spirits of the place were elusive and everything felt a little tame and ordered and subdued. Since starting with OBOD my practice compelled me to really work with the land, walk the paths, be mindful of the seasonal changes and also get more involved in the local community. Quite recently, on a now familiar trail I had that sense that yes, this was the right place for me to be. I could call it home. The lesson perhaps was that being accepted by the spirits of place can take a lot of work, but when it happens it’s deep and lasting (I hope!)

  4. Jeannie Adey May 25, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I can relate to that, both my husband and myself were born in the same town in Somerset, but something was missing, it was only when we decided to go on holiday to Plymouth, Devon that we realised that this was the place we were supposed to be. On other holidays we had both wanted to get back home. Not this one…cut a long story short. The house found us, we found the solution to getting here, and have been happy for the last 20 years.as an artist I spent a lot of time in the wilds of Dartmoor and north Cornwall, our little Somerset town is still in our blood, but the ties are stronger to where we are now.
    Bright blessings to all

  5. Anne May 25, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I’m Scottish born & bred, as far as I know, having been adopted at 6 weeks old. My mother’s family come from the Breadalbane area of Perthshire, & it is here that I spent many summer holidays. I still feel the pull of the area, & when I can manage it I take the bus(es) & go back for a day visit. Although thereare now no members of the family still living, my mother died 17 years ago, I still feel a kinship with the land there.The nearer that I get the more I get the feeling of coming home & I too her a woman’s voice saying ‘welcome back’. I also joined Ancestry. Com & found that there was a connection to that area dating back to at least the late 17th century. So to me it is the land that calls to me even if I may not be linked to the family by blood.

    Blessings

  6. Mish Daya Mystique Lee-Price May 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Wonderfully written * applause * In late January this year I went “walkabout”: a spiritual walk looking for mindfulness. I found this and more and came back a completely different person.

    I walk with my indigenous ancestors and experienced the dream time. The place I lived … the state and city I grew up in no longer exists … It us but a distant memory now. I have found self and became one with the land.

    Namaste & Ubuntu my friend and may you journeys and adventures continue.

    Blessings

    ~ DarkMoon ~

  7. Adam Ranger May 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    I relate to this post.. About Sussex being home. I am from South London, Dads family from the East End and Mums from Cambridgeshire. But after 30 odd years of living in South London (Croydon) I moved to Sussex. It was instantly like coming home. Love it here and have no yearnings to go back to Croydon! 🙂
    Love the story about the Goddess too. I had a similar experience during My South Down Way trek the other week

  8. Elowen May 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    I can definitely relate. Although Cornish through my mum, right back into the mists of time (12th century so far!) I was born & raised in London during term time with holidays spent at my grandparents in Cornwall.
    My dad’s immediate family were all eastenders so I was a bit of a Cornish Cockney, though I’ve since discovered that further back his side hail from Wales & Yorkshire!
    I love London, the pulse that beats in her energises me, but Cornwall is my spiritual home where I can step back and feel my pagan roots reaching deep into the land.

  9. Holly May 25, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Oh, boy, do I understand Hiraeth! My family has been in America for four hundred years (all of us, as far back as I can trace to original immigrants). Although I “belong” here with generations upon generations of ancestors, I also “belong” to Cornwall and Kent, and I especially felt the ancestral connection to Cornwall. I know where the land speaks to me, and I speak to the land. It is truly a physical thing. Cornwall is my link to a very, very old spirit. I’m only marginally a tame and modern creature. Thank you for this insight!

  10. Dave Fletcher May 25, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Yet another beautiful piece of writing, Damh. We too did the Boscastle walk you mentioned – incredibly breathtaking in all senses of the word. Caught your piece of work at the Witchcraft Museum too – very inspirational. Love Cornwall, love Herefordshire, but the sea will always have a tremendous pull in our lives. Thank you

  11. Sylvie May 25, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    I understand feeling of ‘ Hireath’…..my mum was Welsh,a girl of The Valleys,I spent so many holidays there with family. I still visit my cousin as often as I can and when I drive home I can see the mountains in my rear view mirror and leave some of my heart there….it’s just a little former mining village,you’d drive straight through it without a second look,but for me it’s home.

  12. terri May 25, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    what a wonderful blog 🙂 i did have to look up the definition of fogous, though, but now i have a new wrinkle in my brain from learning something new today, so all is well 🙂 i wish i felt like you about some place on my american soil, but i do not have such an awesome privilege as that. it must be a truly wonderful feeling. i envy you. blessings and peace be with you 🙂

  13. Ann Bekins May 25, 2017 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I was born in Portland, Oregon but we moved to Colorado whrn I was a baby and I grew up at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It was beautiful, but inside I have always yearned for the ocean. We vacationed in Washington and Oregon often and I always had that “home” feeling. Eventually I simply moved to Western Washington where there are both mountains and seashore. My ancestors came here in 1852, so it’s home.

  14. Danielle Britton May 25, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s wonderful to hear and very interesting. I think I too understand those feelings.

  15. Sonia Smith May 25, 2017 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    My maternal grandmother’s family goes back hundreds of years in Wiltshire. I love Wiltshire, and have never lived far from the neolithic stone circle for Avebury. My family have always lived in the surrounding area, and continue to do so. When Terry Pratchett wrote about the witches of ‘The Chalk’ it resonated pretty well for me. I love this land, this land is in my bones and in my heart and soul.

    When you wrote of that walk in Boscastle it gave me goosebumps because that is the other place I feel so much at home too. I think it seems to resonate with many people somehow. It is as though the wild moors, rugged cliffs, and crashing seas, call to some at soul level. I also remember having a strange experience in the little church overlooking Tintagel Castle. I had lit a candle in there as I was feeling rather low at the time. Suddenly I had the most beautiful uplifting feeling as though something had brushed my cheek, then filled me with a feeling of hope and peace and joy. And when I went out and sat overlooking the Atlantic Ocean the vast expanse gladdened my heart, and I knew what home was. I love the North Cornish Coast.

    So I too know the feeling of being kind of torn between two places. You described it well in your post.

    Thank-you.

  16. Brigit May 25, 2017 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Greetings Damh,

    I loved your heartfelt and inspiring post. Thank you! My parents’ spiritual practice involved researching our ancestry, and my mother often mentioned that her Dad was “Full Blooded Welsh” (as she called it). She would also say that our Ancestors on Her side, were from The Isle of Mann, & there’s also English & a bit of Irish. I long to visit those places, and imagine what it would be like to Feel & Experience the energies of the Land, Sea, & Sky there. I feel that my ancestry and my Ancient Distant past, drew me to my current Druidry Path.

    On my Father’s side, we found Scotland, Denmark, Norway & England to be the main areas of origin. My Mother often told us that we were related to King James the III, of Scotland. It would be lovely to live in his castle, LoL. I often feel a heart & soul longing for these places, when I hear music of these lands. It’s like a feeling of “homesickness.” I’ve been told that it is because it’s in my blood & DNA. Of course, distant memories play a part too…

    I bought some Carbony Celtic flutes, & enjoy playing some traditional tunes (& some of my own). When I was in a multi-cultural band, I created & sang/played Goddess music for my part of the music & dance performance. I often focused on ancient memories or stories of my Ancestral Lands. Songs of Gaia, & saving Her land, were a focus too. Gaia is still a favorite & important part of my music.

    I find that playing music in Nature For the animals, birds, plants, trees (& land, sea, & sky), is amazing & powerful. It’s my favorite place to play & sing, & I can feel them responding. I greatly enjoy singing & playing my music during or following Druid Ceremony (in Nature). I am able to feel a deeper connection with the “Spirits of Place,” and all the Ancestral beings who may be present.

    My brother did the DNA test, and joined Ancestry.com. My family had traced most of our ancestry back to a certain point, but didn’t have it all, & had no percentages of each. Some other family members plan to get the DNA test just for fun, to see the differences in percentages (since each family member has a little different amount of each culture, in their DNA).

    I feel some deep heartfelt connections & memories with a few places here in the US, and in the place where I was born (near a Sacred Mountain & Native Tribe, in the Rocky Mountains, USA). I always felt a longing to go to California, and to the Ocean. I still feel a deep connection with the California Coast. When reading & imagining your story, I was reminded of the feelings & experiences I have when I go back, especially to Santa Cruz. I saw & felt myself there, at the cliff’s edge, & then at the beach.

    Currently I am feeling “Called” to the land of Mount Shasta, California, & will be visiting there in August. I also feel a body, mind & spirit connection to the land in Sedona, Arizona. I hope to go back there to visit also. When living there previously, my bones and skin felt a deep connection to the rock and soil of the land. My spirit connected to the vortexes in a powerful way.

    “May Gaia’s Land, Sea, & Sky be saved for the Children, so that they may feel the “Oneness” with Her.”

    Brightest of Blessings to all, as we journey towards Alban Hefin…

  17. Michael May 29, 2017 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Damh!

    My DNA test show the paternal ancestor of my family to be from Linkinhorne, Cornwall.

    The family still owns property on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a short float from _Bath_ N.C. (wink wink nudge nudge.)

    Unsolicited testimonial for: _The Cunningman’s Handbook_ by Jim Baker. It’s FULL of surprises; mostly Cornish.

    From this side of the pond, it looks like an original source work for much US hoodoo and other forms of Folk Magick.

    /|\

  18. Rachel May 31, 2017 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    I definitely relate to this post… My family has lived on the same plot of land in the US for about 175 years. Some of the 600 acres are still actively used for farming (beef cattle and corn or soy beans), but then there are the parts that have been left to their own devices for nearly 50 years. My dad used to take me down there every now and then, in the one truck that could make it off-road, but now the only way to get around there is on foot. There’s just a different kind of energy on those older parts, one that feels much more aware than the other parts of the farm. For as long as I can remember I’ve just felt drawn to make the trip out there every so often, just to say hello to different creeks and the area’s lone pond. Always felt nuts for having those impulses until I started exploring druidry. ^^;
    Now I feel caught between two places though – the farm that I’ve always known, and Ireland, where a lot of my family came from before settling down in Missouri. I’ve been there twice on short vacations and both times have felt more like a homecoming than anything else. Seeing Sligo town for the first time and walking up to Loughcrew in particular… There was just a familiarity that still leaves me unsettled. It’s a very odd feeling for someone like myself who grew up thinking they’d spend their whole life tied to the same plot of land. Because that’s how my dad’s always referred to it – we’re tied to this land, this farm, and always will be. We don’t own it, it owns us.
    I’m moving to Dublin for school in September, another thing I never thought would happen and only came about after following a random whim. o_o I’ll be there for five or six years, maybe longer if I’m accepted into a residency program after med school. I’m looking forward to truly being there, rather than just passing through, but man, it still gives me chills just thinking about it.

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