See her dancing on the circumference of the world,
on the point of the compass that divided
night from day, on a needle point
with a thousand devils.
See her tip the globe
and go off dancing on the ball point
of her foot shaking her rattle at the heavens
dancing between the fortresses in the summer stars
and the winter stars who call forth
the Lords of Annwn
all the horses from the Song of the Horses
and all the oxen from the Triad of the Three Prominent Oxen
and all the dead from the Stanzas of the Graves
to the city where the people have made a patchwork dragon
from old discarded clothes and are parading it down
through the subway from the drunken streets.
Someone lifts an umbrella spinning in the colours of her soul.
A wooly mammoth appears and joins the dance as she passes by.
It is said she will leave no corpse or she will leave a multitude of corpses
of those she has possessed and one day they will be resurrected
to dance with her again haloed in star dust spinning…
The spinning of the stars / the spinning of the Abyss…
She broke the surface of the waters of the cauldron and stole the awen
not for herself but to scatter the drops in the darkest
most mysterious and most unexpected places.
Who will find them in the necropolises we have built,
in the nameless archways, in the manes of horses,
in the terrible names I cannot speak
to thee tonight or ever?
I wrote this poem after drawing the Ecstasy card from the Wildwood Tarot as part of a reading I did on the morning of my dedication as a nun of Annwn.
On the one hand I was slightly surprised as ecstasy isn’t the first thing I associate with monasticism (although there are examples of ecstatics even in the Christian tradition – most famously the ecstasy of St Theresa*) but on the other I was not as ecstasis is central to my path as an awenydd and devotee of Gwyn ap Nudd, a ruler of Annwn, in the Brythonic tradition.
On my walk the previous day, Gwyn had already shown me by leading me from the roads where the Benedictine Priory once stood on Castle Hill to the wooden sculptures I have come to know as ‘the Oldest Animal of Peneverdant’, He wants my vocation to remain shamanistic and animistic.
Another interesting coincidence is that the girl in the tarot card is holding a rattle. In a journey previous to this I had been given a rattle by one of my guides and used it in a dance to awaken a serpent. This prompted me to buy a rattle from my friends, Jason and Nicola Smalley, who live nearby in Anglezarke and run the Way of the Buzzard Mystery School. Coincidentally, after my ‘Strength’ blog post I found a rattle crafted with the focus on strength. I knew it was the right one and have been using it to connect with the serpents since and now… they’ve taken over my writing and come into my life…
I’m 41 today and looking at this card reminds me of the birthdays when I used to go out clubbing and how my first experiences of ecstatic states and with the spirits of Annwn came from dancing all night in night clubs and at festivals.
Those days are gone but accessing ecstatic states through drumming, rattling, maybe even dancing, are going to remain central to my path as an awenydd as I continue to explore what it means to be a nun of Annwn.
*The famous sculpture ‘the Ecstasy of St Teresa’ is based on her experience of a seraph piercing her heart with a ‘long spear of gold’ which she describes as leaving her ‘on fire with a great love of God’. Her ecstasy was depicted in a mural on the bike sheds in my local playing field and always spoke to me when I walked past. They were sadly knocked down a few years ago.