I’m delighted to announce the re-release of my first CD, recorded with fellow Celtic harper Debra Knodel. We perform and record as the duo Spookytree. The album is Masque (originally titled “The Harpers’ Masque”), and Deb has created new art for it. Take a look!
Featured is The Green Man – an archetype of the wild intelligence of the plant realm, and much more. The Green Man has spoken to me for decades now, and I’ve written about this relationship in a few places, one of which is in this article:
I invite you to browse the music of Masque – the entire CD is available to listen to for free, and the CD itself is a Set Your Own Price offering, starting at $4. And also give Because Of The Red Fox a read.
Then go outside (or do that first!) and experience the greenweave all around us, the abundant life in forest, field, and even bursting through cracks in the sidewalk, in abandoned lots, in the most carefully groomed lawn.
Here in the “North” of the year (energetically speaking: the archetype of the elders, ancestors, stones, ancient wisdom, the big picture, stepping back and reflecting, winter, midnight ….), I find myself winnowing my possessions, clearing my clutter. This reflective time of year lends itself to this task, both by way of the baring of the world, and in the pathway to the dark and demons that stirring up your stuff always brings.
From recycling scads of paper, and selling or giving away boxes of books, and passing on many treasures that I’ve done several times in the past years I know that I can survive this excavation of self — and that I never regret (at least not horribly) that which I’ve released into the world. But, my! Such internal trauma and drama in the simple act of pulling a binder out of a box and thinking: no! this knowledge was so hard won–how can I recycle these papers? I really want to relearn this … someday!
A Welsh Wood
Such it is with my binders of notes and papers and resources from my postgraduate study in Medieval Welsh Language and Literature, and other early British studies. I love Medieval Welsh, but I’ve only dipped into these resources seriously about once or twice in more than 20 years. I’ve survived recycling my “Paris In The 20s” literature class notes, and my “Medieval Mind” college notes, and even a couple of my incomplete novels. Even more important, I’ve felt the weight lifted, the relief that I’ve at last declared those chapters in my life complete, and I’m not carrying around all those ideas any more. And I know that if ever I wish to seek out those ideas and play with them again, I can.
Blessings and immeasurable benefits, not to mention magic, come my way when I realize it’s time to release my grasping hold on stuff (in my case, knowledge and past personal successes) and just let them go. But this doesn’t make the process easier (though it is fascinating).
My latest “ah-ha” in wrestling with my knowledge-and-ideas beastie is that I don’t have to throw it all out. What I do is open my binder and set out the papers. Then I decide if I even want to keep the binder. I hold it in my hand and ask myself: “Body, do I love this binder?” This may seem a silly question but I do have binders I love, and some that are so worn or torn that I hate them, but don’t realize it until I make myself notice them (as in clearing my clutter). Then I go page by page, asking myself if I love that piece of paper and what’s on it.
The process starts slow, but when I’m in the groove, my hands just rapidly move things into piles, no thinking mind engaged. And, when I’ve been particularly daring, I find the shivers of rightness running through me as I carefully place things in the recycling or in the garbage.
Sometimes I find myself totally mixed up–feeling tightness throughout my body, but unable to really decide what to do with my papers. Then I step away and journal about what I’m afraid will happen if I let this stuff go. I try and be gentle, and not force myself to let it go if I’m not ready. But I must admit that it tears at my mind until I finally make a decision.
In the case of my Medieval Welsh notes I know that I’ll never be the scholar of Medieval Welsh literature that I thought I might be at one point in my life. I love the tales, I love the myth, I love the language and poetry and poetic styles. I know now that I don’t need to be a scholar in the languages I love (Old English, Medieval Welsh and Middle English, Spanish ….), but I can play with the language in learning songs, or in naming things, inserting snippets of Old English poetry into my stories, or Medieval Welsh into the landscape of Forest Halls.
So, deep breath. I can save the glossaries I love, or the grammar (my Medieval Welsh teachers were passionate about laying out the material clearly and in a beautiful way). I may recycle the notes on the historical Taliesin’s elegaic poetry to Urien ap Rheged. Maybe I’ll keep only a few pages of things. Maybe I’ll surprise myself and decide that all of it is relevant to the me that lives and breathes and creates now in this jeweled time.
The invisible marten that just slinked up my arm whispers to me that all I need, maybe, is to learn (or relearn) a phrase or two from the old poetry, today, and maybe tomorrow too. The Red Fox grins, tongue dangling, reminding me that the Welsh landscape is not finished with me yet, even though my novel has migrated from Wales as its setting to the Pacific Northwest. I will need Wales sooner than I think. Though it may not be the Wales I’ve attempted to write about in the past. It might be some other kind of Wales, imagined or shapeshifted.
In the meantime, I offer you an experience of Medieval Welsh language and poetry with this video of Preideu Annwn — The Spoils Of Annwfyn (the Otherworld). This poem may have been a prototype to the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail. Click here for the text and translation. I invite you to just absorb the language and the ancient words scrolling by. Let them speak to some forgotten place in your bones. What, if anything, sparks alive?
I hope you’ll join us. Ray (who is a bard himself) and I intend to have a fun conversation about midwinter, bardic expression in its many forms, medicine animal and plant medicine lore, and follow wherever the magic leads us! You’ll also hear midwinter musical selections from my various recordings.