Tuesday, 20 August 2013


This festival was in ancient times marked by rural fairs and athletic contests to celebrate the start of the harvest season. In respect of this, I left work early on a hot & humid afternoon and let the Awen take me. At first it took me out into St. Leonards forest and past the Hammerponds (or etang des forges as the French call them), which as ever, are remarkable in their beauty. From there I dropped to the source of the River Ouse. To the pagan mind springs and the sources of rivers are special liminal places where water is born from earth and meets the sky.
But the Awen took me past the source and onto the early reaches, back to my Bardic journey and a new awakening of the ancient Anderida (pron: an-Derida) forest; the Church Covert Woodland on your Doorstep project from the Woodland Trust.
A decade ago when the wood was but 5 years old I would sit there and meditate on the way back from work. It was a regular event, about weekly for the year that I lived in the High Weald. At 5 the wood was like my children at the time, small and low, more overgrown meadow than wood. There was some wildlife but it didn't feel like a wood, more an untended garden than a wild, natural space.
Upon my return at Lughnasadh what a change had overcome it. These trees were 15 years old and it feels like an adolescent wood now, butterflies congregate on the paths and firebreaks in the wood. There's a feeling of energy and wildness in the land, an anticipation that the Green Man has the upper hand and this human visitor is just another animal interloper. Spires of purple thistle congregate at the edges of the thickening trunks and the trees are recognisable as oak, ash, hawthorn and hazel. The space had an aural duopoly; to the east it was all human, mechanical from road engineering and the sound of the A23 road. To the west it was silent, peaceful with wind nestling through trees and the hum of insect activity. I supped upon these sounds in meditation of the fruition of this wooded space and then moved on.
Moving on I retraced my steps to the source of the Ouse; Slaugham (pron: Slaff'am) Pond and onto the thrill of the winter worn minor roads of the Sussex Weald that needs reactive nerves and bunny hops with fast twitches to keep my black racing hound of a bike, at high velocity, gyroscopic-ally upright. I came back aching and alive, with the drudgery of a dank basement corporate office left well behind.
Finally, I blotted to celebrate the festival with a chocolate milk shake and cleansed myself in the shower. All in all a sunny time as befits the festival.

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