Eisteddfod took place on Tuesday 14th February.
Silver Bear hosted the evening in her lovely home, so we have her, her husband and Maisy the dog to thank for allowing us to express our creative sides.
Strider kicked off the proceedings with the tale of ‘The Great Bell of Peking‘. The story of a bell maker charged by the Emperor of China to make the biggest and most beautiful bell, only for two versions to break and the third remained whole by the self-sacrifice of the Bell Maker’s daughter. Strider told this with his usual gravitas and slight political bent (“….for there are many bell-enders in Parliament”). The story ends with the bell making the peculiar ringing of “dong-shoe” when it rings….. Prompting Teller to come out with the follow-up anecdote about the Emperor’s son who tried to remove the bell, but the public fought back with the song “Dong-shoe want me baby?”
I know, right?
Greenfingers was next, with his bongo drums and poem, which he read to the rhythm of the drum. Strider acted as lectern, allowing Greenfingers to drum with both hands and read out the poem. The poem was called ‘Beating of the Drum‘ describing a dance to the beat of a Shaman’s drum as the fire burned. With the playing of the drums and the rhythm of Greenfingers’ voice, I was reminded of the Iambic Pentameter used in Shakespearian performance. And the best thing? He wrote it only earlier on that evening!
Teller wanted us to tell a lovely love story about a young lady and shepherd who fall in love only for her parents to marry her off to an older miserly tailor. After the intervention of an extremely benevolent king pulling thimbles of precious metals out of the water (some serious David Copperfield stuff going on there!), she was reunited with the Shepherd who was also pulled out of the water by King Copperfield, leaving her mean and miserly husband to drown.
During the interval, Silver Bear performed admirably as hostess, making sure we were all fed and watered.
Danceswithweasels kicked of the second act with Gershwin’s ‘A Foggy Day‘ with her saxophone. To me, the jazzy and heady tune conjured images of huge cities covered in lazy morning fog, seeping from the ground as though to cover the roads in a shroud of mystery.
Vyvyan shared with us her collection of poems, each of them was like a painting in the mind’s eye, the words merely the paint brush that revealed the image as a moment caught in time. ‘The Potter’s wife‘ showed life and creation can be symbiotic. The juxtaposition of suppressed energy of waiting for the end of the long quiet night, with its usual interruptions in ‘The Late Shift‘. ‘Mahanoy City 1948‘ linked all the details of the city to people, each a story of their own. ‘Windborne‘ told us of how we can be free in the wind amongst the world, becoming the elements around us as we touch them.
I told the story of Tam Lin, I told this for a Burns’ Night a couple of weekends previously. Seeming today was about love, this seemed to fit nicely: sexual innuendo, determined lasses who can hold a lion and red hot metal and all.
Imbolc took place on Sunday 29th January.
We have had a wet January, it did try snowing at some point, but even this gave way to sleet and rain. All day had a continual wetness about it, that fine drizzle which isn’t heavy but gets everywhere was all around. A blessing then that it had stopped by the time we arrived.
When saluting to the East, the outdoor candle holder fell to the ground…. A bad omen? A test of our resolve to carry on? the Grove of the Corieltauvi take pride in not being a fairweather Grove (if any do indeed exist).
The fire caught quickly and by the time the main part of the ceremony was starting, it was barely alive and reduced to glowing embers. There was a darkness all around, not malignant, just there, present and all consuming.
I began by speaking of the promise of spring to come and that the Cailleach obviously was not yet finished, she will go only when she wants to. I spoke of Brighid and how she is important for us, especially when beginning new projects. I spoke of how she is connected to the life giving water and the eternal flame. I invited the Grove members to come forward and to ask Brighid’s blessing depending on which aspect of her we wanted to ask:
Healer: Drinking from the chalice, to ask Her to help us in the arts of healing or for the healing of others.
Smith: Touching the Sword of Justice, to ask Her to inspire and help us forge our projects, destinies, to create.
Poet: To hold the scroll and ask Her to give us inspiration, for creativity and insight.
I originally intended for us to call upon one of these, Vyvyan did all three. I did not consider this greedy or selfish, rather I had never thought of calling on Brighid’s aspects as a whole, so took this as inspiration and did this also. The water of the chalice was poured in a circle into the earth. The sword was given back to its guardian. The scroll was given to the fire, flickering one last time. I gave my prayer to Brighid:
“O Lady Brighid, Grand-daughter of Danu, Daughter of the Daghda, Wife of Bres, Mother of Ruadan. Lady of the flowing well, lady of the sweltering furnace, lady who keeps the flame of poetry that burns within the heart of all…..”
I asked for her blessings on all who had asked of her help.
Oh, and I had quite clearly forgotten to have the circle dismissed!
As we made our way back for our picnic, I was carrying the fire pit…. The contents of which came to life once again as we approached the car park! Looking back on it, there was the sign from Brighid of the Hearth…. Especially as we decided to stay and not go to a pub. Should have kept the fire instead of rushing to put it out!