Through Autumn Leaf-Gold

A Poem for Gwyn’s Feast Day

Follow me through leaves
from this timely hour
to unhourly time
where intricate trees with golden leaves chime.

A rugged, stony walkway
scattered with leaf-gold for our coming
leads to a fortress
in the underground sky.

The portcullis opens.
Oh! The brightness of the feast!
And the dead who died, rigor mortis softened
by enchanted fruits piled high on plates;

blackberries ripe with juice,
apples pixie green,
delicate pink slices of meat
and a glittering horn of golden mead.

Their staring eyes are shining
through fellowship of he
whose look could strike you dead
but today is smiling.

Still, look not upon him or his hound
with its red eyes and hidden teeth.
Eat nothing, drink nothing.
Touch not one golden leaf.

Follow me with care
through the chime of golden trees
to where a shower of leaves falls on the trackway
we left one moment ago.

Autumn Leaf-Gold, Greencroft Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underground Waters Run Deep

Caverns of the land run deep,
caverns of the aquifers,
strong water, pure springs
eke out glades and ferny gullies.

Springs dream their own worship;
fountains, stone basins,
black and white tiling of medieval baths,
calling for dedicants to drink at them.

They do not want to accept our response;
dry up and ossify,
crystal in when the aquifers break
leaving only stains of red iron and traces of calcite.

They do not want their only remains
to be a serpentine sculpture in aquamarine
or leonine face of rough sandstone
without enough water to whet its tongue.

They do not want to only be remembered
in our chanting of lost names,
but what can be done when we have sealed
our sole life source under concrete?

When it is only in dream that time
turns back and in its deep well
lets us see the reflection of a future
we cannot go back to?

Dolphin Fountain, Avenham Park

Dolphin Fountain, Avenham Park

Beyond the Blue Equinoctial Horizon

The Blue Equinoctial Horizon

 

 

 

 

 

For Gwyn ap Nudd, my lord of all that is strange, beautiful and powerful as I cross the horizon again…

The golden crowns of trees are unshaken
by any breeze rustling, rustling.
Hooves crunch through amber shells,
tossed and turned over on the disused trackway.

No-one will know where I have come from
nor where I have been.

At the woodland’s river-shore beats a tide.
On the blue equinoctial horizon
sits the tiny red dot of a sun.
A water-wind rushes, whispers in my ear.

No-one will know where I have come from
nor where I have been.

Beyond the horizon lies a hill,
an otherland where the hills of this land
gather and march. Within the hill is a cavern
and well of unspeakable dreams.

No-one will know where I have come from
nor where I have been.

Fay lights flicker.
The woodland folk stir and waken,
speak their well wishes and farewells;
they know who beckons.

My hoof prints have become a dancing trail of amber leaves.

No-one will know where I have come from
nor where I have been.

Autumn Equinox

This weekend has been a hectic one. I took part in an Autumn Equinox ritual with UCLan Pagan Society on Saturday (1) and hosted an Autumn Equinox and Harvest celebration for the Oak and Feather Grove on Sunday.

The Oak and Feather Grove is run by Phil and Lynda Ryder and covers East and Central Lancashire. I have been a member for nearly three years. As it was Phil and Lynda’s talk on Druidry that inspired me to start connecting with nature close to home and to set up The Friends of Greencroft Valley it was great to introduce the grove to my local area.

Greencroft ValleyWe began with a slow walk through Greencroft Valley to connect with the place. I showed them Fish House Brook and the Trysting Oak, our recently scythed wildflower meadow and apple trees and spoke about the valley’s history (2).

After this we had a ritual in a friend’s garden. We began by settling into the season by sharing how we relate to this time of year and our personal harvests. Then we welcomed (or greeted) the spirits of the elements, place and the ancestors. This was followed by sharing bread and mead then toasting the earth, our gods and ancestors and stating an intention to hold until Samhain.

After saying farewell (temporarily) we went inside for a feast of spicy lentil soup and apple crumble made from local blackberries. For the final part we returned outside at twilight to read poetry and sing the Awen.

OAF groveBy the time everybody was ready to leave night had fallen and the stars were emerging. Afterward walking home I noticed the temperature had plummeted, a reminder that although we have had a long warm September this is a pivotal point (3).

(1) http://uclanpagsoc.weebly.com/our-blog/freshers-fayre-and-autumn-equinox-ritual
(2) http://friendsofgreencroftvalley.wordpress.com/the-history-of-greencroft-valley/
(3) The Autumn Equinox will take place at 2.29am tomorrow morning.

Completion of Penwortham By-pass

A couple of weeks ago I found out about the plans to build a new stretch of by-pass between Broad Oak Roundabout and the A59 in my home town of Penwortham (1). In The Central Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan this is referred to as ‘Completion of Penwortham By-pass’ (2). Since then I have walked the accessible parts of the route on the map in order to see first hand where it will go and visualise its impact.

Beginning at Broak Oak Roundabout

Beginning at Broad Oak Roundabout, courtesy of South Ribble Borough Council

The new stretch of by-pass will begin to the south west of Broak Oak Roundabout.

Broad Oak RoundaboutIt looks like the entrance road may be hereEntrance Road?and the exit road here.

Exit Road?It willl then head across this scrubby field of oak saplings, thistle and dock, over which I saw a buzzard circling today.

Scrubby FieldThen it will bear west and straight to the A59.

New Stretch of Penwortham By-pass, courtesy of South Ribble Borough Council

New Stretch of Penwortham By-pass, courtesy of South Ribble Borough Council

The beginning of the route will cut through a wooded footpath that begins as a track at Nutter’s Platt and runs alongside Mill Brook (pictured south of the by-pass). One part bears left to join Lindle Lane, the other right to join Howick Moor Lane. The trees include oak, beech and hawthorn. The plentiful brambles are covered in blackberries. This path is a frequent throughfare for long tailed tits.

Penwortham By-pass, Freshers Fayre 017The by-pass will then run across a series of fields, which are divided by trees and hedegrows (important wildlife corridors) and currently used for pasture.

PasturePenwortham By-pass, Freshers Fayre 018Penwortham By-pass, Freshers Fayre 020It will finally run through the playing fields of All Hallows Catholic High School. They have been offered compensatory land closer to the school.

All Hallows Playing Fields

All Hallows Playing Fields

It will end with the Proposed Roundabout, between Blackhurst cottages and Howick CE Primary School.

Proposed Roundabout, courtesy of South Ribble Borough Council

Proposed Roundabout, courtesy of South Ribble Borough Council

A59

Admittedly, this route is preferable to the rescinded route, which would have brought about the destruction of much more land and five houses.

However I can’t help feeling angry about the way the value of the economic growth and development of human society has come to win out against the value of the living landscape and its inhabitants. That whilst the human community has been consulted nobody has thought to consider that the birds and wildlife may not wish to leave their homes even if they are provided with others, that the planting of more trees is no real compensation to the trees cut down, that the land itself might not want to be dug up and subjected to the turbulence of another road.

What’s more, a later part of the plan is to link this stretch of by-pass to a new bridge over the river Ribble and a valuable piece of salt marsh. The issues surrounding this will be explored in a later post.

(1) http://lornasmithers.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/penwortham-by-pass-and-the-city-deal/
(2) http://new.lancashire.gov.uk/media/234524/Central-Lancashire-Highways-and-Transport-Masterplan.pdf

Spirits of Annwn fly over reaped fields

Spurned birds circle
fields weeping
for all that is good
in the world
gone

dry harvest
all the legions of the dead
strewn fallen scattered
let them seed
this world in the arms of their loved ones

the circles begin again
hearts cut in twain

by the reapers’ blades
hear them come
softly sweeping bare-footed
with the silence of a love song

pile straw onto carts

the hallowed dead
ascending in a cloud of wings

spirits of Annwn fly over reaped fields

then down and under
circling circling

Reaping Moon published on Moon Books Blog

Link to my poem ‘Reaping Moon’ on Moon Books blog accompanied by a an atmospheric and fitting photograph by Stephen Chapman, well chosen by Moon blog editor Nimue Brown. This was a piece I wrote last year, following scything The Friends of Greencroft Valley’s wildflower meadow.

http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/september-poetry/