Kestrel's Nest

The First Year - Winter
Samhain 2002 - Imbolc 2003

During this period I was initiated as a Bard of the Gorsedd of Cor Gawr at Stonehenge at Alban Arthan (Winter Solstice) 2002.

 

Denial

I wrote this in the lead up to my dedication to my path at Samhain 2002. The actual ceremony took place at my home in Kennington, Oxford at Nos Galan Gaeaf, the Night of the Winter Calends, otherwise Hallowe'en or Samhain. It was at this point that I took the name of Kestrel. The poem was subsequently published in Tooth and Claw, the magazine of the British Druid Order. Despite having joined the BDO at this point and been accepted as Bobcat's Network Assistant I was probably still more witch than druid. The Envoi, written in the old Bardic boasting style, has never been previously published. I don't feel that it's coincidental that the words have come out in the shape of a bird's wing.

I once called myself Christian,
Baptised in ignorance,
Confirmed in coercion.
When I could say my thoughts
I rejected the control,
Denied the Church.

I once called myself Deist
And denied religion.
Denied idols, rejected spirits,
Held visions to be mental aberrations,
Held that nothing could be true
That could not be proved by science.

One day my world collapsed,
My denials dissolved into nothing.
I had to build my world again
Brick by brick and stone by stone.
I found Isis who I had denied.
The Great Mother became my mother,
Guided my faltering steps
Until at last I knew myself
Where before I had denied myself,
Found the Divine spark that was in me.

But She knew - as I did not -
My birthright that I had denied
Would yet reclaim me.
At first in a quiet whisper,
At last in a fierce scream,
The Gods my ancestors honoured
Call me back to them.

A Kestrel came to me
And with her eye
Pierced my denial and my soul.
Now under the milk-white moon
      That I denied
I hear the call my ancestors made
      That I denied.
Now under the ancient earth
      That I denied
I feel the guardian Dragon stir
      That I denied.
And even the sow-hag Cerridwen
      That I denied
Screams: 'Do it, do it, do it!'

And so on the Night of Calends
In the Ancient Circle
I will submit to the Cauldron
To be boiled down to my very bones
And take my chance to depart this life
Or taste the drops that Gwion tasted
Distilled from the flesh of my denial
And be born anew.....

© Angela Grant 24/10/2002

Envoi.

I have been nine months in the hag's womb,
I have flown with the birds of the air,
I have dived into the darkness,
I have seen the place of lights,
I have tasted of the cauldron,
I am half-sister to Taliesin,
I am Cerridwen's Hawk,
I am Kestrel.

© Angela Grant 19/11/2002

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Responsibility

The sword in this poem I saw in a dream. A golden blade and a silver hilt with silver and gold interlaced spikes on the pommel that would injure anyone attempting to wield it. At the time I was unsure of where I was going with my psychotherapy course and the responsibility of seeing clients was getting to me. Others seemed to want to rely on me to help them at a time when I wasn't feeling that stable myself. Thankfully my lack of balance was only temporary but this was the result.

Responsibility is like a sword
With spikes upon the pommel
That hurt the wielder.

I did not seek responsibility,
I did not seek to exercise control,
I did not ask to be a teacher,
These things were thrust upon me.

I wanted to help others, that’s all,
And in seeking so to do
There comes responsibility.

I know that in seeking to do good
I can do harm.
That is not my wish.

I look into my own heart
To find what it is that drives me;
Why I need to help.
Is it truly to help others?
Or is it to justify myself?
If it is the latter
Do I have the right
To try to teach, to help?

I only know if it feels right
Then it is right,
And if it feels wrong
It may be wrong
Or it may be my own shadow
Screaming from old hurt.

As a child I was controlled
In ways I hated.
I would hate to be
The one who now controls.

I know I cannot be
The perfect teacher
I cannot be
An ideal guide
I can only be myself.

Can that be good enough?
I do not know.

I only know that
Responsibility is like a sword
With spikes upon the pommel
That hurt the wielder.

Once drawn the sword cannot be sheathed
No ease of hurt and doubt
No peace
Until the spiral turns again
And there is an end to all….

© Angela Grant 17/11/2002

'The man who would do his neighbour good must first study how not to do him evil,
and must begin by pulling the beam out of his own eye.'

George MacDonald ‘Lilith’

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Alban Arthan

This came as the period of depression in which I wrote 'Responsibility' was coming to an end. Alban Arthan is the Midwinter Solstice when the Child of Promise, the new Sun is reborn. The poem was originally published in The Druids Voice, then magazine of The Druid Network.
I have translated this into French and into Welsh.

I am night,
I am darkness,
I am void,
I lose myself in nothing,
In emptiness, in cold.
Is this the bliss of ending?
The expiration of the soul?
No, it is despair, temporary, painful.
The loss of identity
In the acquisition of pain.
It is only temporary
For after darkness is the dawn,
After despair, hope,
After pain, healing,
After cold, warmth,
After death, life.
The hope of the sun
Rising……
 

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 15/12/2002

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Morning Sun at the Rollright Stones, 6th January 2003

Bright frost upon the grass,
The living stones encircling,
The burning sun, low in the winter sky,
Touches with silver and gold.

I stood at the wheel’s centre
And sent my soul soaring
To feel the Son’s warming
Of the Mother’s cold.

So did my ancestors stand
In those far distant days
To praise the God that gave them light
And the Mother that fed them.

And so do I stand in praise and remembrance
Held by countless spirits
In every age reborn
Welcoming the light….

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 11/1/2003.

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Proto-Valedictory

The fact that I have no children of my blood is something that saddens me greatly. Part of Druidry is honouring the ancestors so there is further sadness in thinking I would have no child to call me ancestor once I'm gone. However, Bobcat has written and said that our teachers are also our ancestors whether they are of the bloodline or not. From that thought this poem comes. A valedictory is a farewell speech. Therefore a proto-valedictory is a foundation for a farewell speech; a statement of intent of what I would like to be able to put in one if ever I got to the need of writing one. It has been published on The Druid Network website.

Earth, stone, rock, bone,
Beneath my feet, beneath my feet,
From you I came, you have fed me,
To you I will return, come what may.
You are my Goddess, my very being.
I am the last of my line.

Father, mother, ancient ones,
Beneath my feet, beneath my feet,
From you I came, you have bred me,
To you I will return, come what may.
You have formed me, made me what I am.
I am the last of my line.

Spirits of air, spirits of place,
Above me, beside me, around me,
From you I came, you have led me,
To you I will return, come what may.
You have guided me and I honour you.
I am the last of my line.

If I can take one fraction of the best I have learned
And pass it on to those I love
To help and guide and form and feed;
To bring to knowledge and light
Those who in darkness find themselves;
To give them all that I have been given,
Then - and only then
I will not be the last of my line….

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 16/1/2003

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Vision

This describes something I saw in a rite I did with friends shortly before writing this down. I don't attempt to explain, only to share what I saw, I leave explanations to those who feel the need of them.

Plait of Fire,
White Fire,
Column of Fire,
Between the Worlds.
White Light,
Shining bright.
Fountain of Light
Becoming
Warmth,
Love,
Support,
Patience,
Protection,
Male, Female,
Loving
God, Goddess.
He dark, bearded;
She fair, burning.
Black Raven;
White Swan.
Loving,
Beauteous,
White
Fire.
Moonshine
Bright
Fire….

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 23/1/2003

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Time Passing

A little bit of fun, but with a serious message. I haven't quite achieved the last two lines but I'm working on it!

Tick, Tock, Bad clock!
Time flowing.
Who’s time?
What time?
Why time?

I am ruled by time.
No time.

If I see an endless field of daffodils
I need time
To see it,
To understand it,
To feel it,
To wonder at it.

But there is no time,
But hope of time,
No belonging,
No wonder….

If I see a woodland glade
Where time stands still
Can I drink in the beauty,
The timelessness,
The wonder?

If I see a city street
Where time buzzes
Can I take time
To study it,
To wonder?

Stop!

There is time.
I take time.
I am a thief of time.
I show it who is master,
Not time of me,
But me of time.
I slow time.
I use time.
I feel time.
I am time.
I become timeless….

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 23/1/2003