‘Then the Ice Age came again and when it
retreated, even the shapes of the
hills and the names of the towns
in the valleys changed.’
It’s Imbolc today and I’m struggling to emerge from winter. It feels like being pulled too early out of bed. Amidst the restlessness of wind and heavy rain we’ve only had one cold snap of still and ice. One flash of snow falling at night melting away the next day.
Just afterward I found out scientists had announced our entry into the Anthropocene: the ‘era of human driven climate change.’ One of the consequences is the forestalment of the next Ice Age. Although I don’t understand the charts and equations I can see human prevention of an Ice Age is an act of cosmic proportions.
Professor John Schellnhuber says ‘Humankind is a stronger force on Earth now than, you know, the orbital forces and all things like that. It is fascinating but also very scary!’ Scary indeed, especially for someone who venerates a god of winter and sees the fragile balance between winter and summer as analogous to the transitions between glacial and interglacial periods.
I’m not proud to be alive at the dawn of the Anthropocene; boiling a kettle, switching on a light, plugging into the web. As a part of my soul harks back to a cave fire and murals dancing on a wall I realise we haven’t changed much in our need for light and warmth and art.
But we have lost our awe and respect for the powers of winter: cold, darkness, sleep and death. Hunted to death the elk, aurochs and wolf. Ploughed up and built over the graves of our ancestors and lost the ability to commune with their ghosts.
The thought of a one-way ride into Endless Summer on the driverless train of the Anthropocene without direction from the ‘orbital forces’ we’ve dismissed or dispatched one by one terrifies me.
Yet today is Imbolc and I’m not on that train. I go hunting for flowers. I go hunting for gods.
There’s been none of that excitement of watching the first few green shoots break through cold ground. They’ve been here since mid-winter. Snowdrops and crocuses are flowering, celandines too, I even see green and generous leaves of lords and ladies. Pink and early cherry trees blossom on Avenham Park and blackthorns are already near enveloped in white.
Signs of Creiddylad’s departure from Annwn. Of Brigantia’s touch stirring the land into life.
Imbolc is a Gaelic festival dedicated to Brigid whilst in Wales Gwyl Ffraid ‘Brigit’s Feast’ is celebrated. In northern England I know her best as Brigantia: a fiery warrior-protectress of this land and its people; of the fire in the head and spark of poetry; of the fires of the forge; of mineral-rich springs.
Yesterday I partook in a lovely Imbolc celebration with the Oak and Feather grove singing ‘Welcome Bride’ whilst we blessed healing candles then making Bride’s Dolls from wheat which Lynda had collected from a crop circle in Avebury. There was also an Irish snake rite which I can’t fully divulge here… but there was laughter and the day brought us closer in devotion to Brigantia and the rising energy of the land.
Flowers of Awen are also pushing through the questionable evanescent dreaming of the internet. When I met Heron in Wales last year we spoke about developing a website dedicated to the path of the awenydd. Awen and Awenydd is now live and shares information on historical sources, bardic heritage and modern testimonies from contemporary awenyddion defining their paths and sharing encounters with deities and spirits of place.
Contributors include Gwilym Morus-Baird, Rhyd Wildermuth, Catriona McDonald and Elen Sentier. We’re open to submissions from awenyddion worldwide and through our forum hope to develop a space for conversation on spirit-work in the Brythonic tradition and the deeper mysteries of the bardic arts.
With Heron and web-manager Lee Davies and others I’ve also been helping develop the Dun Brython site to make it more attractive and accessible to newcomers to Brythonic polytheism. In contrast to Heathenry and Roman, Greek and Gaelic polytheisms there is little information about Brythonic polytheism and the Brythonic gods in print or on-line. We’re working to remedy that and are looking for contributions to the site and a new blog which will open in April.
I’m enjoying my role as editor of A Beautiful Resistance #2 and am excited about several of the pieces I’ve received and looking forward to more. My prose piece ‘Castle Hill: An Alternative Story’ was recently published in Pagan Planet which is edited by Nimue Brown who says:
‘This is a Moon Books community project, sharing the energy and inspiration of people who are making a difference at whatever level makes sense to them. This is a book of grass-roots energy, of walking your talk and the tales of people who are, by a vast array of means, engaged with being the change they wish to see in the world.’
The Awen is flowing. Whilst the internet plays an undeniable role in driving the Anthropocene it also brings people across the world together to dream, create and act in mutual support and re-establish bonds with the ‘orbital forces’.
I don’t know if the Anthropocene can be stopped but I believe we have more chance of slowing or redirecting it with the help of the gods and ancestors and the wisdom in our souls. Winter is not gone yet nor memories of the Ice Age crying out with increasing resonance in the Awen of this year.