Ancestors

I’ve always had vivid dreams. I used to keep a dream journal, as they made for great stories – I’ve dreamt entire Doctor Who episodes (to my intense frustration upon waking to find that I can’t rewind and watch them again).

But lucid dreaming is a different matter. When you become self-aware in the dream, and can affect matters. Or when it just seems a little more real than usual.

Last night, I dreamt about a family funeral that I’d attended – only it wasn’t quite right. Instead of a crematorium, we were at a graveside, that sort of thing. It felt real, but I was aware that something was not quite right.

I think it was a method for getting me into that situation, in readiness for a ‘hello’. Because the ancestor whose funeral it was decided to pay me a visit.

I’d known her in life, but never as young as she appeared (roughly my own age now). I was greeted with a huge smile and wrapped in a big hug, told it’ll be all right. She was so glad to see me, and the feeling was mutual – I was overwhelmed.

We didn’t have long, though. I soon woke up naturally, with happy tears in my eyes. This may have been in the dream-time, but it was very real.

Since the eclipse, something has shifted. I’ve felt connectivity with spirit returning at a deep level, and despite yesterday’s awfulness, I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of mustering of my forces to overcome the negative… and my Black Dog knows it (hence the bad knocks lately).

I honour my ancestors, known and unknown. I’d rather not share a picture of this lady, but I have a momento from her on the house altar. She’s one of the kind folk who taught me to knit. She is remembered every day. And I know I am not alone.

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Where Were You…

Last night at 10pm, the lights went out across the UK.

In certain regions, a call spread across news networks and social media to switch off all electric light, and instead simply have one single candle burn. This was in tribute to those who fell in World War I, which began exactly one hundred years ago.

Look up the news this morning. MPs applauding, people commenting on the darkened streets, the dramatic drop in electricity from the power providers.

Last night, a single candle burned in so many rooms. We sat quietly, each and every one of us, in that darkness held at bay by one tiny flame. Whether friend or stranger, the shared community of streets, town, counties and country joined together to remember the ancestors.

The power of darkness, of fire, of shared humanity. We remove all the noise of the modern, high-tech world and simply live, as so our ancestors did – through war and peace, times of hardship and plenty.

I considered the world around me now, from that place of silence. So many still suffering in war, pain and terror, far and near. So many who care and do their best, struggling to help against social and political adversity.

We each have our battles to fight. Sometimes removing the distractions helps us to remember, to return to what’s important. To learn, to decide, to move forward, and to live well – alone and together.

Goddess

Sometimes creativity can be a random, spontaneous event. But having a focus helps as well, I find – in the act of creation, yes, but also in the plotting. From a mind-map or ideas board, to the subtle cogitations of your subconscious as the planning gets under way, that key theme is always present, as a North star to steer by.

Synchronicity is good to listen for, too. I’ve found that the right topics come along at the right times. Ideas which tend to fizzle out or frustrate might just not be what’s needed – or not just yet. But they’ll wait, if you bear them in mind and return later.

I know many creative people who use their Paganism as a helpful aid in seeking inspiration for their work. From paintings and sculptures to stories and even clothing, images of deity in particular stand out as focal points – very much helped by those individuals often stepping up and demanding you pay them attention! The Muse is not always gentle in such cases, and it’s up to us to hear and act.

I’ve made a few knitted creations over the last year which have been Goddess-centric – sometimes by chance, sometimes by intent. The first came about with a yarn find that reminded me of a painting of Oshun which I’d seen. Then the right pattern arrived. A beautiful wavy shawlette resulted.

And I’ve written about my adventures with Brigid earlier in the year (see here), which resulted in one of the most synchronous creations I’ve ever had pass through my fingers!

Now I’m beginning another, with the guidance of one of the darker goddesses. It’s already coming together beautifully, from the right pattern (again), to the perfect colour and texture of yarn. Now the Lady is guiding my hand as I get on.

I’m reminded of the very humanness of creation, the knowledge that my ancestors sat and pondered, planned and then made things as needed, with purpose and guidance. I’ve seen shades of Her in recent days, like a wise grandmother at my shoulder, keeping an eye to make sure everything is ok. My fingers move the tools but She is always in my mind as I work. I learn so much during these times, as it’s impossible not to become involved, to investigate and explore history, mythology… and manifestation into reality.

Sometimes Deity influences our Awen. And judging by the results, that’s no bad thing,

Ancestral Work

This morning, I cast my vote in the European and UK Council elections.

This evening, we experienced a huge thunderstorm, resulting in power cuts.

I’ve been thinking about how so much of what we do in our lives is pretty much the same as our ancestors did. The format or technology might be slightly different, but motivations, actions and meaning haven’t changed as much as we might think.

My democratic mark was made with pencil on paper. I watched in awe as the weather moved past. I prepared candles, books and creativity to keep my evening busy. The simplicity of it was inspiring.

We eat, sleep, interact and go about our days as humans have always done. Every day, we honour our ancestors by these actions. Rather than becoming dejected at the lack of change, I think our constant exploration and discovery, as individuals and communities (be they lone and shared experiences), is rather wonderful.

Still moving, indeed.

SF Bards

I’ve been reading a lot of science-fiction lately. Mostly dystopian in theme, from a variety of countries and eras.

While the ‘must be busy’ part of my brain tells me that I could be doing something more constructive, these stories are engaging me for several reasons, resulting in time actually very well spent.

It’s easy to disparage ‘genre’ fiction, but a lot of these tales are very well told, carefully considered and – yes – following in the ancient Bardic tradition. They satirise the world in which they were written, showing extremes of human behaviour and the potential consequences.

When reading pre-1970s pulp SF, hindsight gives us a certain viewpoint – the technology of The Twenty-First Century can appear ludicrous, and the ‘action’ laughable. But people are still people. Relationships and characters reflect those known to the author.

History teaches us lessons. Future history plays with that idea. Skilful storytellers demonstrate possibilities, to both entertain and make us think. As with most media, we get out what we put in… but the dime novels of the past are now themselves valuable documents. Is our present better or worse than their dream?

We hear the voices of our ancestors, and consider the voices of the future. And hope that it’s not too much like 2000AD.

Traditional Shopping

This weekend, I had the pleasure of doing some shopping. In a place where every single item I bought was directly from the person who had crafted it.

The yarn was spun and dyed by the lady who gladly chatted to me about it, and told me of the reason for the shading in the colours. Some medieval-appropriate scissors were made by the local fellow who was pleased to find someone to tell his story (from office-worker to craftsman). The gorgeous stoneware cup replaced a much-loved one smashed in our recent kitchen accident. But there were also candles hanging from strings, felt or wool hats and leather boots, beautiful linen cloth woven by a smiling Italian chap; even armour hammered by the smith standing proud before his wares.

This was a Living History Fayre, of course, not a supermarket. Such events are dates to be marked in the diary, as traders come together to sell to a particular market – in this case, mostly reenactors and history fans, but also a fair few pagans and simply interested locals.

It was lovely to see the sheer pleasure on everyone’s faces as us ‘muggles’ (ie dressed in 21st-century style) rubbed shoulders with World War 2 soldiers, 14th-century damsels and Tudor ladies. My lack of head-covering was remarked upon – and with my long, unbound red hair, I was merrily accused of being a witch! (Perhaps politer than the alternative…)

This isn’t silly, or escapist. This is people following their passion to learn about their ancestors, their land, the history that is part of us all – and then sharing that with others. Children were running about freely, with one lad being given an impromptu lesson with a sword, others playing proper dress-up with the adults!

And to have a bag of wares that is entirely unique, hand-crafted, each with its story, touched me on a level that simply wandering around a mall will never evoke. We might have easy access to goods from all over the world and all levels of technology, but it’s important to remember what real trade feels like, real relationship between the crafter and the user. I’ll certainly remember that every time those items are used.

I’ll certainly be saving my modern pennies for the next one…

Stories to Remember

As I’ve mentioned often in various places, my main passion in life has always been reading. I always have several books on the go, and tend to get fidgety and unhappy if I don’t have an engrossing tome to hand.

Recently (amongst other things, as always), it’s been the stories of others. This started a while ago with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Borgias, and Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor). Rather an eclectic mix, but probably familiar. A more diverse selection was to come.

Caterina Sforza. The Mancini Sisters. Various lady mystics. Princess Alice of Greece. And today, Freya Stark – who has taken up most of my afternoon.

I’m not trying to be elitist or snobby; I’ve deliberately included links to all of these books, as they’re readily available. But none of those names are as well known as the first selection, which is a true shame – because they’re wonderful.

I’m not getting into a debate about feminism and history/herstory today. Instead, I’m being inspired by these stories, simply glad that they’re being told at all. I’ve no doubt that as many male as female lives have been subsumed to time by the more glamorous (or simply louder) ‘stars’.

I hear many personal tales each day – from those in my Inbox each morning, to words from miles away via Facebook friends… and then the printed page. Some of these will go no further than me. Others deserve to be remembered. They are our history, our ancestors, after all.

As well as reading books, I love to share their wealth. So here you go. Investigate these, if they sound interesting. Or rummage in a charity shop, look at online review pages, talk to friends… explore and discover some stories of those you’ve never heard of before. Feel free to share in the comments here as well, of course!

I feel lucky to have found these, and am excited as to what – and who – I’ll discover next. I honour those who lived those adventurous lives, and those tale-tellers who help us remember, as they inspire our lives in turn.