the wind that changes


Even if the fire takes you down to ashes and consumes you, leaving only ash, it’s the air that will take the very breath from your lungs and leave you wondering if you’ve been punched in the gut. It’s air that will get you in the end. Pulling you through your death rattle. Each breath a curse and yet a blessing.
In the field at the back of the house where I live, the lady of the wind gently pulls haw blossoms from the branches and floats them away down to the earth. I say, last time I saw you, you weren’t so gentle at all. She laughs… a breath bringing the sweet smell of sick that is the white haw. The wind, you see, she is female, she is most definitely female. You have to be careful when you let your sky lantern up into the air. You must do it with reverence and you must honour her with every breath you take from her and give back to her. If you don’t, she’ll blow your fire out and heave the lantern into a tree for the branches to rip the fragile tissue paper apart. Is that cackling I hear in the breeze?
Changing me. The wind is changing me all the time. When I climb the mountain on my metaphorical journey, she is changing me. She offers me a place to sit, out of the rain she lets fall through her net. She blows the rain into the hawthorn tree above me and allows it to stay rested on the branches. She blew me to this place. Gives me the gift of an idea for a poem about holes not being absences of any sort and why that is… I realise she’s taken me to a place most quintessentially woman. Most cuntessentially as it goes. Hunt pot. Surely someone must have known the connotations when they named it. I like that. An oldey worldey joke on us. And how come I never noticed that before, in this place where walking is always a metaphor and where women are drawn to? And it has been this way for years. And years. The water-falls over an edge that goes so far down you can’t see where it ends up. The drip-drip-dripping is so light you can hardly hear it. A soft, green pubic hair in various formats cushions the layers of rock as they rise. Dampness, wetness abounds. The place “sounds” damp, and she carries this to you on her breath. You think about singing an offering but she tells you simply to listen. Today is a day for your quietness. Today you receive with respect.
Being a metaphorical journey, my walk goes in phases. The phase where I lament not having the knowledge of which grass will work to bind my hair. I try one and think “we haven’t lost it” but it doesn’t keep and she whips my hair out of my hood and around my face and into my mouth. Then there’s the test where she blows buckets of mist and drizzle over me, whipping the droplets across me like a flagellation. I worry that she will blow me from the track, and it is very steep at this point. But she does not, even gives me a little respite at one point, when I feel I need a break.
Then there’s the gift. There’s always a gift at the top. Another time, another mountain near here, it was the sun pushing a nose through the clouds for a minute or two. It won’t be that today. Today it is the gift of pure quiet. A quietness so still your heart could break – you can feel it jumping and moving in your chest. So quiet that, quite some way away, you can hear the sheep’s teeth tearing the grass. Then another gift. A skylarks rises into the air, I have no idea where, and pushes out the most beautiful of trilling scales and chirps. Now the only thing you can hear, and you can hone in on every detail of its song.
You see silence can change you more than the roughty toughty macho blasts of wind. The most subtle form of change is the most powerful. Sit, be still. Hear your self. Be. Try that!

belonging – view from the hill


sitting here, i realise that my religion is like the view that stretches itself out over the undulating land around me. varicoloured fields stitched together by the fluffy, woollen treelines. wandering strips of silver and brown, wend their watery way in the valleys. brambles clamber over the scrub of land right in front of me. hawthorn stands in stoic compactness. hedgerows full of good medicine, if you know where and how to look.

my religion IS the land itself. nothing special. no temples. no sacred structures. but still, i am rooted. right here. where my ancestors lived. where we once worked with the land, not over it, bending it to our will (for a while). i see the beacon where my grannie took us to hunt for bilberries in late summer. she taught me how to transform them into pie, ever one for the practicalities of magic.

i watch the crows congregate to play in the wind that rushes over the lip of the hill and realise that i would always have made it up to suit me. i would always have let the air blow through my wings and tried to learn how to ride the currents of the deities and the spirits of this land. even though there are ready-made religions hanging on a peg that you can take away and wear straight away, i would’ve wanted to fashion my own personal version. i have taken older and newer ideas, beliefs and deity. i have stitched them into my own patchwork of land and home. my own lopsided quilt where some patches are the same as other people’s, some are hand-me-downs from a long line of ancestors, so worn with age that the threads show and some are almost neon in their new brightness. that’s how i like it, roughly sown in places, patches irregular in shape, but they fit together like dry stone walling. it suits me.