Kestrel's Nest

The Second Year - Harvest
Lammas - Samhain 2004

There is a feeling of things coming to a head at this time. Strands, once separated, coming together. September was a particularly momentous month for me, so much happened, my discovery of the spirits of Ynys Môn, my dedication as a priest, my first ceremonies as a priest, my sixtieth birthday with it's rite of passage into cronehood, a time of great highs and deep lows.

Finding the Key
Singing the Dead
Taking the Chance
Rafting the Pain


Finding the Key

This came to me on the eve of a journey to north Wales, in some ways a journey to find myself as much as to discover an area of Britain I'd never visited, despite my family supposedly having roots there. Make what you will of it...

It is bright day but here I sit
   with darkness in my soul.
I seek freedom but always tie myself
  to some place, some person,
  some self-imprisonment.
Does this make sense? I think not.
What sense can nonsense make?
What hope can hopelessness provide?
I am split as a chestnut husk
  splits falling from the tree
  revealing nothing but strange confusion.
Enlightenment I seek
  yet feel I comfort from the dark.
For what is hidden can reveal
  a wealth of mystery beyond itself.
Layer beyond onion layer, lost in the seeking
  of a centre impossibly deep.
What meaning can mystery reveal?
What cipher can disclose plain truth
  without a key?
Shall the white mare pass
  without me following?
She will stop if I ask her.
She has done so before.
Or shall I hawklike
  simply hover and watch
  and let another chance slip by
  gone in an instant.
No, not this time.
When she passes I will call
  and let her carry me
  where she will.
Now is the time to take a chance,
  grasp life to the full
  and run with the wind
  wherever it may blow.
At summer’s end let only harvest fall,
  let me run on and seek that centre
  that I have not yet found
  or lose myself in never-ending spirals
  knowing that a time will come
  outside time itself
  where all mysteries will be resolved,
  all conjunctions joined,
  all solutions found
  and the end only disclose
  another new beginning…

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 26/8/2004

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Singing the Dead

On the night of 11th/12th September on the northern shore of Afon Menai near to the village of Llangoed, at the point where considered thought had it to be the most likely place for the Roman invasion force to have landed, I attended an extraordinary rite. It had been called to commemorate that invasion when so many had been slaughtered by the invader, so many groves burned, so much destruction. The Romans thought they had stamped the Druids out. They never did. I don't know what I expected from the rite. I'm not sure I had an expectation. What I got was a message to carry with me for the rest of my life. As it has been said: 'Coel clywed, Gwir gweled'; 'Hearing is believing, seeing is truth'.

Through eyes filled with tears I see dimly the figures
    of the dead, long dead,
    slain when Rome’s strength first stepped on Mona’s shore
    filling, once more, the strand of blood.
They, who over centuries,
    while Roman, Saxon, and Christian monks ruled here,
    while chapel priests, black clad, held their flocks in check;
    they watched while, now and then, a free soul felt their presence.
Here they stand again, shoulder to shoulder with the living,
    and the cry rises to a heaven filled with stars:
         “We are still here!”
As stars fall we know that door to the west was never closed:
         “We are still here!”
Remember this, you who would tear us down:
         “We are still here!”
Rome’s swords and priests could not destroy us:
         “We are still here!”
Our time has come once more:
         “Dan ni yma o hyd!”
         “We are still here!”

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 17/9/2004

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Taking the Chance

The first poem on this page proved prophetic. On Tuesday 14th September, at the point of the dark moon, I made my dedication as a priest with my teacher and the spirits as witness. How this came to be is a story that will remain between me, her and the spirits. As I write I have still not fully taken this in. Maybe I never will. The white horse came and I climbed on, for better or worse. It is done. Now let her run...

Dark forest surrounds me
fungus strewn
as I trace a circle with water
from a forest stream
round this door of oak.
Two people are here
poised between life and death
on the axis of existence
the world-tree centred
on spirit-fire.
Did I say two? No more
as I call the invitation
the shadows gather
and the spirits of the
world I inhabit
come to watch.
Who are they? Parents
ancestors I have never known
spirits of the earth and trees
people who have worked this land
and taught me who I am
and as they gather I give thanks
thanks for being drawn down
this strange path I travel
gaining understanding as I go
thanks to those spirits who
have guided me
names ancient in the telling
and through my tears upwelling
at dark moon’s point
I make promise
a promise I will hold
dearer than life itself
to tread the path trodden
by so many and yet so few
a hard path of truth
honour and respect
not knowing where the path will lead
when only how it is journeyed
really matters.
It is done, the spirits leave
and we pass from
forest gloom to sunny meadow
to break a fast with blackberries
as my head spins with wonder
at this world I live in.
Later I will ponder what is done
and what the future holds
but let it be
where it takes me I will go
and let the spirits guide…

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 17/9/2004

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Rafting the Pain

This must have been written at a time when I was feeling very low. I don't remember it. Maybe I don't want to remember it...

I do not need pain.
Why am I given pain?
Why am I made to
sail the vortex of emotion
down into the howling hell
that is my heart.
What have I done
that should make the spirits
war against me?
I know my fault.
I have been too complacent.
I have seen pain in others
and not thought how to give ease,
how to succour that pain,
so I have gained my own.
The Gods that set my ease
have ruled that
I should savour what they felt.
So now my life’s supports
do fall away and leave me naked
with my own strength my only anchor.
Oh Branwen, I know your thoughts
at being cast away by he who sought you.
Oh Rhiannon, I well feel your punishment
to carry others while none shall carry you.
So be it! The time has come
to take another course,
let the pain run
and use it well.
Others’ needs are more than mine;
if I can turn my pain to help theirs
then some good shall come of it.
Let the future start today!
Come Hell’s fury and I will battle it
and then the sun shall rise once more
upon a cloudless day!

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 21/9/2004