Thoughts we shared with each other during the weekend

Writings on our Pagan Quaker workshop wall

When the Society began
‘Quaker’ was a term used to mock members
‘Quaker’ has now been reclaimed by Quakers.
Now we are in the process of re-claiming
the word Pagan

Sometimes if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping by slowly beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to know. (Pooh)

But, child of dust, the fragrant flowers,
The bright blue sky and velvent sod,
Were strange conducters to the bowers
Thy daring footsteps must have trod (Emily Bronte)

The Druid Oath

We swear by Peace and Love to Stand
Heart to Heart and Hand in Hand
Mark oh Spirit
And hear us now
Confirming this, our sacred vow

Saturday: Thought for the Day

Advice and Queries 16, Quaker Faith and Practice

Do you welcome the diversity of culture, language and expressions of faith in our yearly meeting and in the world community of Friends? Seek to increase your understanding and to gain from this rich heritage and wide range of spiritual insights. Uphold your own and other yearly meetings in your prayers

The plural of human being can be humans being

A vital novel for me ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing’ by Starhawk

Two good books to read by Richard Mabey: Nature Cure and Beech Combings

Check out the ‘Quaker Earthcare Witness’ website (QEW).  This is the environmental aspect for US non-programmed Quakers and folks there get the point re: Earth Spirituality.  Their workbook ‘Earthcare for Friends’ is a useable study guide

Has anyone read Matthew Fox’s ‘Original Blessing’?

The Druid Prayer

Grant Oh Spirit Thy Protection
And In protection, Strength
And in Strength, Understanding
And in Understanding, Knowledge
And in Knowledge, the Knowledge of Justice
And in the Knowledge of Justice, The Love of it
And In the Love of it, the love of all existences
And in the love of all existences
The Love of Spirit and all Goodness


Full Moon Brigid

Brigid by Joanna Powell Colbert

Brigid by Joanna Powell Colbert

Some years ago I wrote a poem about Bridget, the Celtic goddess of smith-craft, healing and poetry whose time of the year this is – Imbolc.

The poem is a sonnet – a very traditional, literary form of 14 lines with a strict rhyme scheme. (For the poetry students among you, the rhyme-scheme here is ABBA, ABBA, CD, CD, EE – though some of them are half-rhymes).

This strict form seems wonderfully inappropriate for the rebellious pagan heart, and I like the contrariness of that.

Full Moon Bridget

Pregnant as she is with silver fire
gently she takes as gift my molten soul
and channels it into her waiting mould.
High above, the stars present a choir
to sing the labour rising like a smoke
from all the sweated achings of my heart
there in the smelt: the rusted rock, the fraught
old ore from my beginnings, each break
of hope, each abandonment and fear.
Pouring, melding in the silver air,
it settles in her mould, and cools, and stills.
Then she prises it, and hurls. It falls
clang! on her anvil… I am taut, and taught
that I was wracked, and now I can be wrought.

Alison Leonard

Thanks to Joanna Powell Colbert for the use of her beautiful drawing of Brigid

First Communion

Lammas Sunrise, Glastonbury Tor

Dear Friends who gathered at Woodbrooke for the Pagan-Quaker weekend –

Just to thank you all for making the weekend so rich and creative.

Here is the poem about my ‘First Communion’. After years of frustratedly trying to connect with the Divine through the Anglican sacraments, and decades of peaceful worship in Quaker Meeting, this was my experience on Glastonbury Tor at Lammas in 1998:

First communion

Fifty-four years on a hill I’ve been
waiting for the wind to blow
and all it did was blow the other way.

Sixty-six women and a few men and kids.
Two of them specially got up at five
so as to be ready with this and that.

This was a corn sheaf, tacky, maybe varnished,
and that was sage, which means something,
I don’t know what. The incense wouldn’t light.

Someone played a flute, I only noticed
when it stopped. Dancing also ended
so we were still, and maybe wondering

what they would do, the two of them,
or we either. It was wonderfully simple,
they took a wooden bowl of seeds, a clay

goblet with sips of strong drink where you
could see an imprint of the potter’s rough thumbs
and waited for the wind to blow the spirit round.

I knew, seventeen women and a few men and kids
away, that this would be for me, true.
Fifty-four years of waiting fell down the hill

and I stood wet, alone, and part of it all.
There was nothing that was not me,
or Spirit, or wonder, or seed, or dancing.

Alison Leonard

Carolyn Way’s poem on Water

Here is the beautiful poem by Carolyn Way that we shared over the weekend.  The poem forms the preface of a stunning new book by the author, Alick Bartholomew,  The Story of Water: Source of Life to be published by Floris Books on June 15th.

Still Water Meditation – Carolyn Way

Place a drop of water in the palm of your hand.

The drop that you hold in your hand
Is part of the water which was the cradle of all life
On this planet Aeons ago
The first rain that splashed down on the hot earth
To form the first sea
Each drop, in sunlight
Has risen from the sea in countless ages
And fallen from the earth again
As rain

The drop that you hold in your hand
Has been a prism forming myriad rainbows
Has travelled underground streams
Bubbling through dark caverns
The Architect of cathedral caves
Formed valleys
And split granite

The drop that you hold in your hand
Has flowed down broad rivers
Has risen on the sap of trees
Has been the sweat of slaves
And the tears of children
It has become the foam topped waves
And deep unfathomable depths
Of vast lakes
And seas

The drop that you hold in your hand
Has been part of the great flood
It has been a dewdrop on a blade of grass
A drop that has been pounded
Through the hearts of whales in blood
And lain in an eagle’s egg
It has travelled in the fluid of a poet’s brain
And dripped from the wounds of the dying

The drop that you hold in your hand
Has been trapped in the snows of the arctic
Reflected the sun in a desert oasis
And refreshed the weary

This drop
Unimaginably old
Yet fresh and new
Is evaporating slowly from your hand
To mingle with the air that you breathe, perhaps
Or drift in a sun-topped cloud
A thousand feet above the earth
Imagine its journey from your hand
Where will it go
You can direct its journey
As it evaporates
Send your consciousness with it
It is the water of life
It is still water

Copyright: Carolyn Way

Green Man in the Garden by Charles Causley

Green Man in the garden
Staring from the tree,
Why do you look so long and hard
Through the pane at me?

Your eyes are dark as holly,
Of sycamore your horns,
Your bones are made of elder-branch,
Your teeth are made of thorns.

Your hat is made of ivy-leaf,
Of bark your dancing shoes,
And evergreen and green and green
Your jacket and shirt and trews.

“Leave your house and leave your land
And throw away the key,
And never look behind,” he creaked,
“And come and live with me.”

I bolted up the window,
I bolted up the door,
I drew the blind that I should find
The green man never more.

But when I softly turned the stair
As I went up to bed,
I saw the green man standing there.
“Sleep well, my friend,” he said.