Last Night

was the night
you were furthest
away from the world
like a distant asteroid
– like Pluto.

From now
you’re coming back
– your land of ice and darkness
will thaw and the mists will make it beautiful again.

From the coffin where you dream of nuclear winter
you will step into a new suit of armour.

Summer is a’coming to Annwn
and winter is already
on its way here.

This poem is based on my gnosis that whilst it is summer in Thisworld it is winter in the Otherworld. It is addressed to Gwyn ap Nudd, a Brythonic ruler of the Otherworld and Winter’s King, who is killed by his rival, Gwythyr ap Greidol, Summer’s King, on Calan Mai, and sleeps through the Summer.

After I received this poem in a vision this morning I looked up Pluto, a planet named after the Roman King of the Underworld and saw that, in Japanese its name is Meiōsei – ‘Star of the King of the Underworld’. I thought this was very beautiful and apt for the planet that rules my birth sign, Scorpio, much as Gwyn, my patron god, is the ruling force in my life.

I then returned to an essay by Brian Taylor called ‘Photographing the Underworld? A Note of NASA’s Pluto Fly-by’ which has had a big influence on me. Here he speaks of how the photographing of Pluto ‘ruler of occultation, and protector of the integrity of mystery’ may have been saved from being an act of ‘casual intrusion’ by the plutonium powered spaceship carrying the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh ‘discoverer of Pluto’ (as a kind of offering to the underworld gods?).

Brian also speaks of how he ‘traced the exteriorisation of Pluto in the history of the nuclear era, and found the planet’s signature etched into the geography of the discovery region, most notably in an extraordinary spatial co-incidence. Pluto was discovered in 1930 at the Percevall Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona. Ten years later Plutonium was manufactured at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, and five years after that the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity Test Site north of Alamagordo in New Mexico. Curiously these three sites fall in an almost perfect straight line, about a thousand miles long, that maps the connection between the planet and the nuclear project on to the land in the most unexpectedly graphic way.’

Coincidentally I have been returning to these themes, which I touched on in The Broken Cauldron, in the later sections of the new book I am writing, which explores more deeply the influence of the gods within the modern world and Gwyn’s connections with nuclear war and nuclear winter.

At the bottom of the essay I saw an old comment I left for Brian in 2015 mentioning a dream I had about Gwyn and nuclear winter, leading me to recall it. Brian notes that the spaceship made closest contact with Pluto on a dark moon and the moon was dark last night.

In the Awen

I am what I am:
awenydd as noun and verb.

I am possessed and I am possession.

In Peneverdant, between Penwortham and Annwn,
I belong to Gwyn in every extension of my soul
through time and space and dark matter
(and for one moment I am him).

Living by my vows I am fulfilled and fulfilment.

Please don’t take it away from me again,
this inspiration, this divine breath,
until my lord comes for me
at the end of the world.

The Mother of the Son

Spoke the Prophet with the Dragon’s Tongue,
The Voice of the Goddess with Nine Dragon Heads:
“The Dragon Goddess shall be slain and in Human Form
She shall be reborn as the Mother of the Son.

In His darkest dreams the King of Annwn will tear
Out the Eye of Bel, He will tear down the Sun and put it
Inside the Belly of His Dead Mother and the Queen of Annwn
Will shape for Her Dead Mother a new Earthen Form

And They will send Her in a boat to Portus Setantiorium
Where She will be met on the Western Shore with Reedlights
And up the River of Belisama will sail to Ribel-Castre
And there the Eye of Bel will once again be reborn

As Maponos ‘the Son’ to Matrona ‘the Mother’.
Yes! Throughout Belisama’s Vale in the Sacred Groves
At the Springs and Wells and the Roaring Fords at the Roman
Altars and in the Temples They shall be Honoured.

At the birth of every child She shall appear Threefold
To Breathe the Blessings of the Awen into the Infant Mouth.
As the Three Mothers of Destiny She shall be Revered
In all the Holy Places in the Hills and Vales of the Old North.

And she shall appear Ninefold the Dragon Daughter
Of the King of Annwn as Morgana and her Sisters breathing
Life into His Cauldron before spiralling into Serpent Forms.
And the Nine shall be Recoiled in Circles of Stone.

And when the Priests of Christendom come armed
With Book and Vestment and Mitre treading widdershins
Around our Holy Wells with splashings of Unholy Water
But failing with their Prayers to undo our Spells.

Henceforth she will be known as Mary in Nine Churches
In Belisama’s Vale: at Peneverdant, at Prestatun, at Wahltun,
At Euxtun, at Leyeland, at Sceamlburgh, at Bamber Brig,
At Ruhford, at Fernihough, she will be Honoured.

At Cockersand Abbey as Mary of the Marsh
As the Magdalen in Maudlands in Nine Times Nine Churches
Across the Islands of Prydain and beyond she will be Honoured,”
Spoke the Prophet with the Dragon’s Tongue.

This poem was written as an early experiment in writing in the voice of ‘The Prophet with the Dragon’s Tongue’ in a Blakean style and brings together some of the mythic overlayerings of mother figures I have perceived within my landscape, in the Brythonic myths, and in visions and journeys.

I recognise this will not accord with everybody else’s perception of these deities and is very much a personal revelation. And, of course, I won’t be attempting to imitate Blake again, which I knew before setting out is impossible and foolhardy. I see it as a first step on the way to creating a myth to live by.



How I love

the sound of the rain
dripping from the gutters
gurgling down the drains
everything that stood
still moving again

How I love

the healing hand of Nodens
reaching out to touch
sooth replenish

these thirsty flowers
that grow in my garden

How I love

this sense of relief that
we are not quite cursed –

the gods still listen to
our prayers respond

to offerings of dreams

How I love

the Rain of Nodens
hope you will visit again
you are welcome here
every day to keep us green
and at night the gates
of dream are always open

The Buttercup Meadows

The tunnel
leads to Paradise.

To the buttercup meadows
where the goalposts
have no goals.

Although the bike sheds
and the mural of St Teresa
in her ecstasy are gone
her sigh lingers on.

The last gasp of a steam train
on the railway lines
overgrown.

The smoke no longer stains
the city walls.

I walk here like a dog
without a master

thrown by life’s curve balls

whilst he sleeps in
deep Annwn.

In the future
will I be your guide dog
or the one that went barking
into the unknown?

The 2.6 Challenge: 26 Wildflower Poems for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust

Between the 26th of April and the 3rd of May I took part in the 2.6 Challenge by writing 26 wildflower poems to raise money for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Through the kind support of the followers of this blog I not only met my £260 target but raised £349 to help LWT continue to carry out their valuable work managing local habitats for wildlife and people. Below is a selection of the poems.

1. Primroses at the Junction

Prima rosa they say
you are the first of flowers.
Primula vulgaris they say
that you are common

as dirt, this sacred dirt,
this holy dirt in which I dig,
overturning pieces of clinker –
memories of railway line.

Ghosts linger of navvies.
Ghost trains thunder by filled
with wide-eyed passengers
staring at flower-planters.

At the junction times
and worlds collide. That me
failed to glimpse this me in
the future at a standstill

where primroses thrive
common and holy as dirt
at what feels like the end or
the beginning of the line.

4. That Little White Flower

You’re the little brown job
of the wildflower world

seen everywhere but never
named (by this amateur
wildflower spotter at least!).

Woodland-edger, little crack
lurker, pavement-lover, bridge-
walker, stair-climber, hardy
white-flower hairy-stemmed
with winning rosette of leaves

it takes me years of peering
into the cracks of books chewing
the cud of internet’s tasteless pages
to find out you are hairy bitter-cress,
lamb’s cress, land cress, spring cress,
the stune of the Anglo-Saxon charm
standing heroically against poison.

Perhaps you save us just a little
when you walk these deadly streets
from the choke of exhausts from
the poison without and within.

If only more of us could thank you
by speaking by your names.

5. Herding Cows

They slip into time –
a herd of fairy cattle
with yellow faces

spilling their colours
on the railway banks
munching sunshine.

Happy and contented
until the fairy woman

calls out their names:

Bold Yellow,
Miss Yellow Hood,
White Yellow Eared,
Yellow Feet Dancing,
Quickest of Yellows,
Old Yellow Tail,
Yellow’s End.

Until the fairy woman
calls them back to yellow
the hills of her domain.

8. You May…

Call me May Flower.
Call me Cuckoo Flower.
Call me Lady’s Smock.
Call me Milk Maids

with my white skirts
carrying four shiny pails
pretty in the meadows
on the first of May.

After sunset you may
call me anything you want
except your fragile flower,
your darling May bud.


9. The Bell Without a Ringer

You are the bell that tolls without a ringer
on the first of May – the Fairy King is Dead!

Who? Who killed him? Who made you so blue?
Do you not know that he is eternal and will rise

again from his tomb in the Castle of Cold Stone?
The landscape sways to the nodding of your

hooded heads before from your green leaves
steps the Fairy Queen and her new King.

A brand new tolling across the woodland –
the King is dead! Long live the King!

12. Cow Parsley’s Present

You grow up madly like a child
throwing styrofoam out of a box.
Your mad growth is bottomless.
Nobody knows what you got.

14. Theme Park

You are a theme park
of a flower lantern-headed
your purple and orange signs
always say open never closed.

The common carder bee loves
to swing from you red-tailed
bumblebee and honeybee
the flies I cannot name.

You thrive because you
run not on money and profit
but on nectar freely given when
our theme parks are shut down.

I come to Water Avens a tiny
passenger on fly-back promise
to carry my share of pollen for
one ride in your nodding car.

17. Horsetail

I pull it out.

It pulls me down,
clinging to the contrary
mare’s dock to a swamp where
it grows tree tall.

A helicopter lies
crashed like a dragonfly,
multicoloured wires hanging out,
propeller spinning, four diaphanous
wings folded, broken,
like a child’s toy.

Its imprint is like a fossil.

Toy soldiers
with tiny guns gather round.
They flee when they smell
the burning petrol.

21. Hedge Twinkler

sparkler in a thorny night
purple periwinkle winking
from Creiddylad’s garden
flower of the fairy sight.

26. Healing Prayer

Self-heal, woundwort,
brownwort, heart-of-the-earth
with purple cones and lance-like leaves
will you lance our wounds retune
our energy help us heal-all?

*Page updated from poetry half marathon to this summary and selection 06/05/2020.

The Lean Wolf

approaches
with a little bit
of Chernobyl
in its deadly
stride.

A big black bell
is ringing inside it.

Its face is a man’s.

There is nothing
behind it.

I wrote this poem following a dream of which I remember little but the vivid image of a lean menacing wolf with a man’s face and the knowing because I’d seen it, been its presence, I was going to die.

I’ve had a handful of dreams in which I’ve had this gnosis. In one I was a captured soldier awaiting execution and Gwyn prepared me for death by telling me I must go into the hazel, and the beetle, and something I can’t recall. In another I was a clawed creature clinging to a lift descending to the abyss. And in another I was and was not a dark magician, who in a magical battle against mechanical forces, was cut into a thousand pieces by whirling blades and resurrected as a vampiric woman.

Through these dreams I know I have lived many lives, died many deaths, in Thisworld and in Annwn, and perhaps in worlds beyond. That a part of me, which I call my soul, carries these memories.

When I was talking to my dad about his funeral plans I was surprised to hear that he, like me a philosophy graduate, had never thought about whether he had a soul or what would happen when he died. He might have theorised about it but had never really contemplated what would happen to him.

Such questions have been on my mind as long as I can remember. Like my dad I theorised about them, attempting to find answers through philosophy, until I met Gwyn and he taught me to journey to Annwn. Until he and his father, the dream-god Nudd/Nodens, helped me to sleep and listen to my dreams.

For the first time since the Second World War people in Britain are suddenly facing death, due to the threat of the coronavirus. This is a complete unknown for people of my mum and dad’s generation, for mine, and the next generation, who might have included my children, if I’d had them.

I understand that one of the reasons Gwyn appeared in my life and taught me to journey was to help me prepare for death. I know a small handful of others who have had similar experiences with him and different gods, and of those who have gained their own understanding without experience of deity.

In contrast to the advice I’ve seen in various places to focus only on the positives, I believe at this time, when so many of us have so much extra time, there is no better time to contemplate the lean wolf.

Creiddylad’s Garden

Creiddylad
most majestic maiden
in the Islands of Britain,
let me know your
majesty

in this garden

on my knees
two hands clasped
together on this trowel
making offerings
of water

amongst flowers
where you walk unveiled,
stunning, bees dancing
around you.

Let me be your bee!

Feed me
when I’m hungry.
When I fall exhausted
pick me up gently

and I will make
the sweetest honey.

“Stay here in this garden,” my patron god, Gwyn ap Nudd, advised me a week before the lockdown. A couple of days before my conservation internship was cancelled and, like many, I was rendered jobless.

We’ve been on lockdown in the UK for over a fortnight now and how I’ve to-and-froed, some days accepting this advice and, on others, after reading the news, wishing I was doing something more important, more heroic, than shopping and cleaning for my parents, tending the garden, doing my best to find the focus to pray, meditate, spend time in devotion to my gods, and to write for my supporters.

My main battle has been against feelings of guilt and uselessness caused by my awareness of the utter contrast between my easy life, touched by the bliss of the spring sun, and the hell that the nurses and doctors are going through on the front line, risking their lives fighting for the lives of others. The risks taken by the funeral services. The chaos and stress faced by supermarket staff. Our dependence on the long hours and monotonous work of fruit and veg pickers usually imported from abroad.

I’ve thought of applying for, have actually applied for, some of these jobs (which may have necessitated moving out of my parent’s house so I do not put them at risk), but nothing has come of it.

“Stay here in this garden.” I accept the gods have their reasons when the Blasted Oak, spelling disaster, appears in a tarot reading on what will happen if I take a veg picking job.

And deep within I know if I took any of the above jobs I’d likely get physically or mentally ill. That there is something fundamentally wrong with this industrialised and militarised system that keeps comparing the ‘fight’ against this virus with the Second World War and tries to inspire a wartime ethos.

And so I tend my parents’ garden, cutting back years of overgrowth, clearing the paths, weeding amongst the many beautiful flowers that already grow here – hyacinths, daffodils, bluebells, honesty. And the shrubs and trees – apple, pear, rose, quince, camelia. Watering the raspberry canes. Sowing herb and lettuce seeds in troughs and veg seeds – carrot, turnip, onion, cauliflower, broccoli – in the soil.

And somewhere along the way it enters my mind this is ‘Creiddylad’s Garden’. And once the thought has entered it will not leave. I come to see the face of Creiddylad, ‘the most majestic maiden in the islands of Britain’, one of our Brythonic goddesses of flowers and spring, in each flower.

Creiddylad is a sovereignty deity who walks between worlds and lovers. This ‘majestic maiden’ is truly a majesty, a Queen, the lifeforce of nature who inspires great awe in her worshippers and the male deities, Gwyn and Gwythyr, Kings of Winter and Summer, who fight for her every Calan Mai.

Through the Winter she dwells with Gwyn, in the Otherworld, as Annwn’s Queen. In the Summer, with Gwythyr, she is May Queen, a great sovereign in Thisworld, revealing herself slowly flower by flower.

In Creiddylad’s contrary nature I find a better understanding of my own pulls between darkness and light, Thisworld and Otherworld. There is a part of me that wants to walk with Gwyn, a warrior and psychopomp, facing death, disease and sorrow. And at the same time an awareness he and other humans do this so the rest of us can appreciate the flowers and the sunlight and the lives that are our gifts.

It sometimes seems easier, more worthy, to embrace pain than pleasure. Why? I do not know. Only that in Annwn the sadness of the dead is transformed into great beauty and joy, and it this is that Creiddylad brings with her when walks from the Otherworld, into the light, and embraces Gwythyr.

Many of the flowers in my garden speak of similar myths through the correlates of other cultures. The narcissus, or the daffodil, was the plant Persephone was picking before Hades took her to… Hades. The hyacinth was born from the blood of Hyacinth, the lover of Apollo, killed by his rival Zephyrus, and its beautiful petals are inscribed with ‘AI AI’ ‘Alas’. Lungwort’s petals turn from pink to blue as the flowers are pollinated, edging toward death, like flesh, or deoxygenated blood.

Nature and myth, death and life, Thisworld and Otherworld, are deeply intertwined in Creiddylad’s garden. A place where I work slowly, contemplating the mysteries, where I meet flowers, goddess, gods. It seems they don’t want me to be a hero but instead a small suburban bee offering a taste of Creiddylad’s honey.

Jobs

I.
They’ve got jobs –
we finally see the key workers:

the paper-clad doctors and nurses
saving the sick and the dying (or trying to
on the linen streets of the front lines)

the stackers and cashiers within
the tin-packed walls of the supermarkets
who are saving us from starvation

and the students and unemployed bar staff
stepping up to pick and pack berries and lettuces
packed with vitamins to keep us healthy

whilst the grave diggers and funeral service
pack post-vegetable bodies back into the earth

and the binmen in their bleeping lorry continue
to turn up weekly to remove our waste.

II.
And no, I have never seen a binwoman, but
I was asked if I was one when I was litter picking.
Now even this small job has been taken away

I am flicking through job descriptions application forms
fingers hovering over wonky letters stuck on keys because
the originals were rubbed off over long years of writing
(which has never quite been a ‘proper job’) weighing

the balance between making myself enjobbed useful
and the risk to my seventy-odd year old parents.

III.
All the while the name of a job
that I have never seen advertised online
or even in a fluffy cloud in a Pagan magazine
is pressing its silver lining against the back of my brain:

low risk, innocuous, invisible: ‘MYSTIC.’

“By the Stars of Annwn are you having a laugh?”
I rage at my gods before joining them
laughing loud and hysterically.

April Dogs

This is not an April Fool but an April Dog! As many people cannot visit local nature reserves due to the COVID-19 restrictions I am offering a free digital copy of my latest poetry pamphlet ‘April Dogs’. This collection honours the birds and other creatures of the wetlands and coasts of Lancashire and beyond and touches on the themes of the climate crisis, science, and war. Most of the poems were written in response to encounters with wetland birds on my stretch of the river Ribble and visiting reserves such as LWT’s Brockholes, WWT Martin Mere, and RSPB Leighton Moss.

You can download your PDF of April Dogs by clicking HERE.