Yay! I’ve actually managed to produce a current post for the first time in weeks!
This morning I was up at 3 o’clock, as the Wildwood decided to hold our Alban Hefin ceremony at dawn. This time we headed to Macclesfield Forest, which is a tiny remnant of an ancient Royal Forest managed for the Crown in its heyday by the Earls of Chester. Today it’s owned by United Utilities and holds two reservoirs, one of which has a large heronry. As we drove the last half mile up to the car park we were guided by a young hare which ran along the centre of the lane and then turned into the entrance.
Wendy and Guy had found a beautiful spot between some hollows on a hillside. We were amongst some mature pines but they were pretty spaced out so the vegetation had enough light to thrive and there was a wonderful variety of plants, including some late blooming bluebells, and aptly enough, an abundance of the Druid plant, trefoil. The forest is a mix of conifers – some of which are sold as xmas trees each December – and native broadleaved trees. It’s surrounded by moorland to the North and East, and farmland to the South and West so there is a lovely mix of habitats. It’s quite high up and still a bit behind everywhere else – I was surprised that the May blossom was still in full flower there, it’s setting berries down here.
The altar was laid out on the forest floor. There were logs, bogs and tree trunks concealed under the moss so you had to watch your step! It had been overcast when we set off and it was rather dull during the ritual ,but as we finished the sun broke through the clouds and peeped over the Pennines to bathe the landscape in golden light.
Sadly the sunlight only lasted ten minutes and it then the day reverted to grey.
It was a most magical morning. When I got home I went back to bed for a couple of hours more sleep and when I awoke the experience had become even more like a dream than it had when we were walking in the half light to the sound of birdsong.
I always like to fill up the space at the end of the ritual script with a pertinent poem. This time it was this one:
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?