Honoring our Ancestors video: Follow the Deer

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. Mostly I’ve posted at Foresthalls.org and ChantsandPlants.com. But this is going to change, starting with this video. If you feel yourself wrapped in the magic of our world that is nature, I hope you’ll enjoy this video!

Last year I put together an audio to celebrate the Ancestor time of year (late autumn, aka now). “Follow the Deer” honors the depth and breadth of our heritage, and this year I added some video. As beings of the earth, even the stones, plants, animals, and bio-regions in which we live are family. Illustrations, photos, narrative, and harp music are by me. This video is only two minutes long.

Renewing The Story

Spring returns to the island.

Teeny tiny whorls of Cleavers (but they have been teeny tiny all winter)

Child-nettles flinging upward — I swear, growing an inch a day!

Long fingers of yellow-green starred with purple-red catkins, a dangle of worms from — which tree? A nibble reveals that immediate dryness–the complete astringency of Red Alder. A quick check on friend Web confirms what my taste buds and body already know.

Oh, and the resinous Cottonwood buds! The windstorm of a few days ago helps me here. So easy to walk along the road and begin this year’s harvest, walking a harvest with friends that took place four–or is it now five?–years ago.

I’m waking up with the land, stretching my arms after a long sleep punctuated by fevered dreams, restless awakenings, sun-dapple imaginings.

As I drive down the long stretch of Cove Road, as straight and tall and probably in some form, just as old
as the Western Red Cedar I leaned against only minutes before, I feel the strong straight connection,

old home with new

It’s like picking up that book once more, finding my place, taking up the threads of story that have crisscrossed and wandered and played about in the wind. The plants and I make medicine.

The Shortest Day

Newbery Award-winning children’s author  Susan Cooper and her The Dark Is Rising sequence deeply influenced my youth into adulthood.  I may very well owe the fact that I’m a bardic harper to the way her stories echoed within the myth of my soul!  You can read more about my journey with The Dark Is Rising series in my article, “An American Harper In Wales”, first published in The Folk Harp Journal, and now beautifully displayed on Eldalamberon.com.

Years later, when I’d begun to celebrate the Winter Solstice, and was performing Celtic Christmas concerts, I discovered the poem below, written by Susan Cooper for (I believe) The Christmas Revels, a magnificent community-based production that celebrates the ancient and mythic roots of many of the season’s folk traditions. I love this poem, and hope you enjoy it too!

Loom Of Trees – photo by Jane Valencia

The Shortest Day

by Susan Cooper

So the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!