So Starts another new year, blimey the wheel rolls faster with every turn! I begin the year with a resolution to make this year my year, I’m not quite sure who’s years they have been so far, all I know is that I feel that this is a culmination of a long journey of self discovery.
The Anderida Gorsedd Winter Solstice celebration on the Long Man of Wilmington, was a turning point for me. The day before I had sat at the computer to write the ceremony and was looking back over some of the previous words that we had used, and it struck me how profound this time of year has always been. One of the things that we can be certain of is that our ancestors throughout time have celebrated the Sun’s rebirth. You only have to look at Stonehenge, Newgrange and Maes Howe to know this to be true.
It can be a time of rebirth for all who choose to follow the wheel of the year. We may not need a magical ritual to ensure that the Sun will once again climb higher into the sky and bring the warmth back to the land, but we still need to mark the event and acknowledge our own journey. The Winter Solstice is a time to reflect not only the journey through the year it can also be a time to take a longer look back over a life time.
The day was foggy and cold as we made the steep walk up the hill, the Long Man himself was shrouded in mist to the point where he was almost invisible. When we got to the top of the little Gorsedd Hill at the foot of the Long Man, the mists parted a little to reveal some of the landscape. The bare branches of the trees stretched out and picked at the edges of the mist and pulled threads from it as it thinned. As we began the ritual the mist retreated further and hung in the valley all around us. A weak Sun above the hill did battle with the clouds and tried to bring a little warmth to the company of eighty or so gathered to celebrate the rebirth of the light.
As we moved through the ritual I felt the earth beneath me, I looked at the mists all around us in the valley and felt at one with time and space. I could feel a connection to the ancestors in the barrows on the very top of the hill above us and wondered how their rituals might have been. The landscape was alive, the elements all present, I could feel the constraints of time ebbing away. Was this anything like the ritual our ancestors might have done? Could they from their vantage point up on the hill, recognise anything of what we were doing?
It has, slowly but surely, dawned on me over this past year that my artwork is starting, finally, to find a real voice. In my heart I yearn for the western world to refind the enchantment that our ancestors saw in the earth, to hear the call of crow and have it’s voice speak of ancient lore and of stories long forgotten. To really feel the human journey and value our heritage, not in a preserved and cold way with a talking tape machine giving you dusty archaeological supposition as you trot around an ancient monument wondering if the shop will be able to provide a suitable something to preserve the memory, but in a way that forces one to engage in an emotional way, either by stories, songs or images that bring the earth back to life and us closer to it. I don’t think my voice has a distinct language yet and maybe my need for self expression is just a bit of a self absorbed and romantic notion, but art is about passion and if I can at least try to engage my own heart’s passion maybe it will speak to others as well.
I encourage everyone to find their voice and their passion and to not be afraid to express it truly. There is a old triad that becomes more real for me at every turn in my life as a Druid, but I have to admit that I change one word in it, I replace the word Genius with Art as it feels more real to me.
Three primary essentials of Art are; An eye that can see nature, a heart that can feel nature and a boldness that dares follow it.