This is the view from the top of my street/road/cul-de-sac. A short walk across the road, up to the small park and passed the swing, this is what I can see. Though, in the interests of honesty I should add the views conveniently omit the oil refinery to the far west and the nuclear naval base to the east...
Each day - weather, health and life permitting - I take a walk up here with the kids and the dog. As Tom potters about and does what toddlers do, I take a moment to meditate and take stock of life and where I’m at, before Tom insists it’s time to play. Or Rosie wakes up.
Mostly I think about how lucky I am and how I still can’t believe I’m here, and that whatever happens, I should remember this time. When the chips are down it's times like this that help me get through things. This is not my permanent home, but it’s been a good home so far. I still feel a connection with this place, and today I realised how it keeps me grounded. I mentally reach out across to the water and the hills on the other side, feel myself sinking in and connecting with my sense of spirituality. My beliefs mean that feeling a connection with the land is important to me (amongst other things). I honour the land, the spirits and the gods that I believe embody and are part of the land. I do this primarily through devotional acts of prayer and the making of offerings.
Tom’s oblivious to this, though, and just likes making a mess. Since Mr Seren and I have widely differing beliefs, and I feel that spirituality is such a personal thing I don't intend to instil my beliefs in my kids, but I would like to instil a love of nature in them as well as a sense of spirituality. From my own childhood, things like picking up conkers, blackberrying and walks in the woods are some of my happiest memories.
Today started off cold and foggy, which didn’t lift until well after lunchtime. When we went on our walk the sun had just started to come out and the fog was only just starting to lift, and the heavy dew hadn’t evaporated yet. When we got to the playground it was too foggy to see the Firth of Forth, which we live right beside, but I was greeted with the most amazing view of cobwebs absolutely everywhere. On the grass, the plants, the play equipment, fences…you name it. Luckily, I took the camera.
I'm not a big fan of spiders, I confess. You won't find me keeping a giant tarantula as a pet, but then again I won't run screaming from the bathroom because there happens to be a furry, predatory-looking spider stuck in the bath. One of my many supersitions is that spiders in the home are a sign of good luck, so I took this as a good sign.
It was the first wintry-feeling day today so my meditation naturally turned to Samhainn, winter, and the end of autumn; the sun shone with the stark brightness that comes with the little warmth it gives in winter, but the trees are still undecided as to whether they should really go for autumn or not. Some trees haven’t started turning yet, whereas others are bare, giving an odd mix of what looks like summer in some places that you look, winter in other views, and autumn in another. There are even flowers bravely clinging on for a last burst of colour, including a lonely poppy and some thistle:
(I took a photo of the poppy too, but the camera focused on the background instead of the flower so it was a bit crap…I really should learn how to use it properly one day, but toddlers aren’t conducive to well set up shots anyway…).
Then we set off on our walk to see if we could see any woolly cows as I continued to think about what I’ll be doing for Samhainn. So far I’ve resolved to carve a turnip* this time round. I’m not expecting this to be an easy task, but I’ll be sure to post my efforts for comedy value if anything else. Potluck seems to be an appropriate meal for the occasion - I did stovies last year (a Scottish dish mainly comprising minced beef or lamb and potato, stewed on the stove for a long time), which were disappointing so I might have a stab at those again. I’m going to do some gingerbread and crannachan again, and make some bannocks according to a traditional sort of ritual I've reconstructed.
This time round I’ll do some divination as well (though I haven't decided on specifics yet), and if I finish them in time I’m thinking about using the ogam fews I’ve been working on. Progress is slow, as I haven’t had much energy to give them the concentration I’d like, but so far (for a beginner and a not-very-good-artist), they seem to be coming along. They’re not brilliant, but they’re better than I was expecting, and I hope I feel inspired enough again to finish them off soon. Maybe over the weekend.
I’m contemplating making my festivities a little more formal, or maybe I mean ritualised, this year. Now I’m finding my confidence in what I’m doing and have more experience to build on, it feels that that’s the way to go. I’m not big on formality, but for some reason this year it seems appropriate, and as I've been inspired by various books I've read recently, I shall be incorporating bits into something that's more planned out than usual - in particular the glannad ritual erynn999 has provided in her ogam book (hopefully, anyway). Maybe it's because of the prospect of moving house, and being able to breathe again financially now the house is sold; it's all come at a time that is traditionally about endings and beginnings and inbetween things, so maybe it seems all the more significant. Either way I'm extremely glad about it.
I'm also thinking about how I can throw my support behind the Tara-Skyrne ritual plan to help protect the prehistoric sites in the Tara valley that are under threat from a new motorway being built by the Irish government. While the ritual is excellent (and in many respects something of a watershed in CR) it will need a little tweaking to adapt to my solitary-and-frequently-interrupted-than
Today we were lucky (though it took about half an hour of Tom mooing at them and waving bits of grass for them to muster up the effort to stroll over). Tom was very impressed, and Rosie was too, after she finally woke up.
*Speaking of turnips, Pumpkin ban in Hallowe'en protest.