Giving

Sometimes, people can be hard work. I love to spend time with others, but due to the nature and variety of People, there’ll be those who have alternate/opposing views, those whose understanding is very different to your own, and those with different ideas about what’s acceptable.

Broad terms, obviously. Sometimes, people can be frustrating, belligerent and stupid. Or just too ‘in your face’.

I’ve noticed this more since my books came out. People know me, but I don’t know them. They approach me to chat, which is wonderful, and I love it, as that’s where new friends are made. But sometimes, it can be rather overwhelming.

More often lately, I’ve felt the need to retreat, either to my own space or with those who know me well and provide company without demands. But too much of that can be unhelpful as well – the world seems even stranger when only viewed through the lense of the Internet.

Today, I worked hard. Lots of writing, making things, and generally Sorting Stuff Out. As I went, I realized – it was all for others. Everything I was doing for intentionally for a specific person. Which felt rather wonderful. I do my best, hoping that they’ll like it. It raises the bar.

And then the postlady arrived with a mysterious package. From one of my students – a beautiful image of a guardian that she’s spoken of often, drawn so evocatively that I was awed and deeply touched.

I think many creative people devalue their own work because they’re so close to it – there’s nothing special about something when you’ve spent hours swearing to make it just so (although the opposite is clearly true, artistic perspective can be warped and crazy).

But I came to a total full stop today, just gazing at this picture and feeling that connection with the lady who created it… words of thanks just aren’t enough. The work is unique and beautiful, because of the meaning behind it as well as the subject, the effort that’s gone into it, the intention and heart.

This is why I work. Not for the Stuff, or the thanks (although those are lovely!). For the relationship, the appreciation of what I’m doing and return of similar – the sharing of creative magic. My little community gives as well as takes. Overwhelming maybe – but generally with goodness, on a true and heartfelt level. That can be hard to grasp in this cynical world.

When those moments of connection come, I do try to hold on to them. I’m so glad that I have such good friends, that we work together to inspire each other. Know that you are honoured, truly.

I look forward to seeing what the Awen brings next, from within and without.

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Place and Tribe

Today, I drove over 200 miles, a round trip across a good width of this country. County boundaries were crossed, towns and villages navigated. From sun to rain and back again.

I understand that in some countries, this wouldn’t count for much. But here, it’s a long way. I’m pretty tired now.

But such trips are wonderful for exploring the diversity of my lovely homeland… while at the same time, feeling the similarities.

We have our different tribes still. Nottingham is different in mood and feel to Derby (they’re approximately 15 miles apart). Both are far removed in life and geography from London, Newcastle or – crossing amorphous national boundaries – Cardiff or Edinburgh.

Yet, when I speak to people of ‘spirits of the land’, they always nod in understanding. That almost territorial ‘vibe’, made up of the human societies which live in these places and demarcate the boundaries, but not confined to just the human residents. This is still very much felt, whether consciously or when reminded.

The land my partner and I visited today was beautiful – birch and gorse, with a magnificent lake in glorious sunshine (and then an equally marvellous rainstorm!). It had its own definite character, and we were glad to get to know it a little.

As I drove home, I passed way-markers. You are Now Entering Lincolnshire. Then Nottinghamshire. Sherwood Forest. Derbyshire – and home.

I reached out to those ancient trees as I passed. We waved to the magpies and dodged the ravens playing on the roads. I felt the pull of my own little place as I moved nearer. The spirits of the land are clear in this wild countryside, even as the tarmac and concrete of civilization try to tame it. It’s good to explore, to reach out and actively notice, feel that connection.

Back on my hilltop, I breathe deeply. My home, my place, where I am known and held. Before I head out again tomorrow.

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.

Pagan Community

Today was busy. From what was described as ‘stupid o’clock’, myself and a committed bunch of hard-working Pagan folk gathered for an event to honour the life and achievements of Patricia Crowther. This was organized and hosted by the Centre for Pagan Studies.

Pagan events are always a mixed affair, with guests rangng from the gorgeous goths to the venerable elders, and everything in between. This one, however, seemed more focused.

The entire room was filled with a general gladness, a happy vibe of people genuinely pleased to be there. Old friends were caught up with, new ones introduced, faces put to names from Facebook acquaintance… It wasn’t about the ‘Stuff’, it was about the relationships.

It’s fascinating to see the Pagan community as it matures. We’re several generations in now from the original Wiccan founders, and to see and hear the perspectives of those who were there right at the start is fascinating (and rather humbling). Many of those today have been walking their path for decades, long before it was even vaguely acceptable – and their strength of character, commitment and integrity is truly laudable. And they have some great stories to tell!

These are people I’m honoured to know, and a community that I’m proud to be part of.

Sometimes you have a day where you’re just glad to be living it, to be able to be part of such interesting times – in the best of ways. Happy memories in the making.