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

Illuminated Prayers

A nun in a small room. A big woman, robed in grey, not only her bulk but her presence fills the space. Every ounce of her being, of her focus, of her concentration, is directed to the page on which she slowly, painstakingly, inscribes flowing letters and illuminates the words with beautiful artworks.

How I envy her slow pace of life. The space she has, inner and outer, for this steady work. For her fulfilment in this golden now of creation and lack of cravings for whatever lies beyond those stony walls.

She first appeared to me a few weeks ago and I took this as a signal the time had arrived to start writing in a notebook with a cover based on the Lindau Gospels, which a friend bought for me several years back. I’d never dared write in it for fear of spoiling it as the artwork is so beautiful.

The Lindau Gospels are so named because they were once housed in the Abbey of Lindau in Germany. The lower cover, on which my notebook is based, was produced in 8th century Austria, but its style is that of insular British art. It is predominantly Christian. Around the central topaz are the monograms ‘IHS, XPS, DNS, NOS’ ‘Jesus Christ Our Lord’ and Jesus appears on each of the arms of the cross in a cruciform halo. The four evangelists appear in the plaques in the corners. Yet the spaces between the cross and within the cross are filled with swirling, shapeshifting figures, which morph from serpent to bird to fish to dog and back again, and recall pre-Christian traditions.

Illuminated manuscripts, based on Christian scripture, were produced across Western Europe from 500 to 1600 CE. The phrase derives from the use of gold or silver to illuminate the words and pictures. Many were ‘Books of Hours’ containing devotional prayers said at set times of the day.

I’ve been drawn to such books before. Several years back I visited Stonyhurst College, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1593, with Preston Poets’ Society. Whilst the other poets were geeking out over Shakespeare’s First Folio I was far more fascinated by the prayer books of Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth of York one of which, if I recall rightly, was illuminated by lapis lazuli.

And, of course, many of the medieval Welsh manuscripts which contain the myths of my gods were illustrated by their scribes, including The Black Book of Carmarthen where we find ‘The Conversation of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir’ with a cheeky portrait of Gwyn’s dog, Dormach.

The childlike nature of the drawings in the old Welsh texts and the way the seething mass of pre-Christian imagery unsettles the golden veneer of the Lindau Gospels gave me the confidence and the feeling of rightness to open the notebook, to begin writing. To dedicate it to ‘Gwyn ap Nudd and the gods and spirits of Peneverdant’ and to begin penning within my first prayers and illustrations.

I am now using it as a space in which my re-emerging monastic leanings can combine with my relationship with the Annuvian gods. Where my prayers and pictures are not illuminated by gold but by the golden light of the Otherworld.

Prayer: A Little Window

Following Anna Applegate’s comment on the lack of discourse on prayer in the Pagan communities I’ve decided to share a little window into my prayer life. I’ve never done this before because, rather than saying set prayers, I simply speak to the gods and spirits from the heart. These are examples of heartfelt words rather than literary masterpieces. I’d be interested to hear from others about their daily prayers.

Altars April 2018 II

Morning

I.
Spirit of this house
Spirits of Greencroft Valley
Spirits of this land on which I stand
I give thanks to you.

Lady of the Marsh
Lady of the sacred hill of Penwortham
Lady of the wells now lost
I give thanks to you.

Belisama, Goddess of the Ribble, flowing
from Gavel Gap through Settle, Clitheroe, Ribchester
bringing your gift of sacred waters
I give thanks to you.

Nodens and the Weather Shapers
cloud-makers, wind-bringers
mist, fog, and rain-bearers
I give thanks to you.

Gwyn ap Nudd
first amongst my gods my forever patron
who leads the dead and living to Annwn
I give thanks to you.

II.

Gwyn ap Nudd,
Lord of Annwn,
Guide of Souls,
Light of the Mist,

God who dwells
in the Otherworld yet
close as my heartbeat
close as my breath*

grant me guidance
from Annwn’s dark heart

and inspiration
from Annwn’s deep depths.

As I walk each step
in service to you.

(Followed by a recital of the Annuvian Awen and a meditation, journey, or divination).

Evening

Gwyn ap Nudd
Gatherer of Souls
Walker Between Worlds

God who guides the dead
God who walks the brink of madness
God who contains the fury
of the spirits of Annwn

I come to you in awe and reverence
I come to you in love and service.

Let us share our journeys…

(Followed by communion with Gwyn)

Bedtime

Nodens Lord of Dreams
God of that deep and absurd world
that I vow to remember the next morning
before it slips from my mind with
the waters of forgetting

I give thanks for the joy of sleeping
I give thanks for the joy of dreaming

and these were last night’s dreams…

Nodens Lord of Dreams
guide me in this night of deep dreaming.

*Phrase borrowed from Greg Hill.