Thursday, October 1, 2009

Song of a Daily Druid

The October issue of Pagan Pages is up, and with it the second installment of my column, Song of a Daily Druid. This month's column begins to explore the subtleties of the Bardic way and the role that poetry can play in the spiritual life, working with the relationship between creativity and imagination and the importance of memory, experience and the physical body.

All poetry begins in the dark. In the cave of memory, the new poet lies awake, wrapped in the simple, loose-fitting shift of a sleeper, listening to the echoes of her own breathing and the whine of her own blood in her ears, the only sounds. The close stone walls are damp with her exhalations, sighs of longing or uncertainty, muffled sobs or murmured joys. She can see nothing in the darkness, not even the low ceiling above, but in that senseless obscurity her memory moves, conjuring up fleeting images of apricots, water spigots and firelight, half-heard sounds of bare running feet or the rubbing of tree branches against brick. Sometimes the dank, unmoving air of the cave seems to bring her scents of autumn leaves rotting in the riverbed, or tangled woolen yarn, or muddy earth turned over and mixed with the smell of blossoms. These memories are in her, and they are the beginning of her art. She must seek out the language—its rhythms and articulations, the shapes of its vowels, the teeth and tongue of its consonant stops—seek out the words that evoke and mirror sensation.

In the unlit recesses of the cave, her mind works as her body lies still, remembering. The small round stone rests heavy on her belly—she can feel its weight through the soft fabric and the way it rocks gently as each breath lifts it and lets it drop again. Her mind travels the stumbling, sometimes frantic pathways of the past, aflame with inspiration; she brings it back again, turns it over and over to the weight and solidity of the stone. Fire in the head, anchored in the earth. When the night is over, the waking world will come for her. She must find a way to bring poetry into being, to carry it forward, to bring it from the empty depths of the cave into the morning sunlight. To carry it like the stone: concrete, real, substantive in her hands. Light moves behind her eyes, and the stone wobbles on her solar plexus. All poetry begins this way: an image in the mind, a feeling in the gut, a moment in the dark.

(......To read more, visit Song of a Daily Druid)

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