I have been out most days during lockdown on short socially distanced walks around my local area. When the restrictions began, we were approaching the Spring Equinox. The flowers came in a blaze of colour and beauty, before we moved into a summer of both heat wave and storm. Images of life and death have certainly seemed close together in 2020 as we have been forced to live more in the present, to come to terms with our human vulnerability and to consider what is really important to us and what is not. Now the harvest has been gathered in, I sense a change in the air and in the earth beneath my feet. I am on my way towards completing a book though it is taking longer than I first envisaged. I have also written poems and taken photos, as well as collecting haw berries from an abundant local tree to make hawthorn brandy (recipes on the internet). A submission I made in June, has seen two of my poems - Wings of Light and Summer Trilogy published in the September issue of a monthly Druid journal called TOUCHSTONE.
Wings of Light
The blue grey lull of twilight sea
The shore lamps twinkle into night
Behind a thin mist curtain like a veil
I breathe in stars and fly on wings of light.
Iona Jenkins, 2020
Also published in Touchstone 2020
The white flower trumpets
Are green leaf creeping
Over the old churchyard
Grave stones, silent bones
Life and death close mingle
In sunlight bright gilding
The sky is blue above the bay
Nectar collecting the bees buzzing
In lush lavender purple tumbling
Summer scented on grey stone walls
The earth is alive and honey making
Summer leaves in dusty green
And fruit trees heavy laden
The cornfields ripened gold
All ready for the harvesting
The earth is a generous mother.
Iona Jenkins, 2020
Also published in Touchstone 2020
The early June full moon is known as the Flower Moon. At this time, the gardens around my home were abundant with blossoms and all manner of flowering plants. The Earth had provided an uplifting feast of scent and beauty, even in the midst of our fight against a terrible virus.
There is something magical about a garden and maybe that magic is what happens when man works in direct cooperation with the Creative Spirit to produce a beautiful environment that lives to grow and change colour in every season. Gardens have individual atmospheres and themes. I particularly like walled gardens because they remind me of a novel that touched me deeply in my late childhood - a classic called The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Set in Yorkshire, the story unfolds as an orphaned girl called Mary discovers the door to a forgotten neglected garden and works to bring it back to life. In doing so, she unleashes a creative, nurturing power that heals her own sorrow, as well as the grief of her cousin and uncle.
There are those who choose gardening as a creative path and I for one, love to sit in their masterpieces, as much as I love to sit in the Sistine Chapel amongst the sacred art of Michaelangelo.
Green spaces are therapeutic. They are essential since they link us not only to the earth but also to our own souls and the soul of the land. Without green, we would live soul-less lives. Green is a must for urban folk, for the maintenance of mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. If, like the gardener we make an effort to work in loving cooperation with the Creative Spirit, whatever we might conceive that to be, then we also might just have a chance of healing our world.
Summer Solstice blessings to all beings
I would like to sum up my own intention for writing at this time in three words
INSPIRE - HEAL - BLESS
It is all an ageing locked down poet can do in an attempt to offer a little comfort and distraction during this massive global crisis affecting us all. Standing on the balcony outside my flat, I received these words and images from a gentle and beautiful springtime twilight. May they open a door into your creative imagination and may you find some peace there, during these very difficult shadow times. Do all you can to keep yourselves and others safe.
Sometimes a rainbow appears at the end of a storm.
I had already enjoyed journeys to spiritual places, through inspiring landscapes in Britain, Ireland and destinations in the wider world before I discovered the angels in Italian art.
I was staying with friends on the outskirts of Rome when I first became aware of a connection between art and heart. The Eternal City had worked its magic, opened a door and revealed a new direction – a path that would ultimately lead me deeper into the West like Tolkien’s elves. I left the parks and gardens on the banks of the Thames in suburban West London for the mythical and often mystical landscapes of Wales and Somerset. These two places are separated only by Mor Hafren or the Bristol Channel, which lies beyond the cliff outside my flat and flows into the Celtic Sea, then on into the wider Atlantic. I have a clear view of the Somerset coast as the distance between the two shores is only about 12 miles as the crow flies.
This journey has been a magical quest to discover my own creative heart. The book I am working on now, Is a map of my creative spiritual journey – a tale of prose, poetry, meditation and celebration, which I hope may be ready around summer’s end. My intention in writing this book is to inspire and encourage others to discover and follow their own creative spark.
At the end of September, I really found my voice, when I attended a Bardic workshop in Glastonbury. I got to write a poem as part of a group presentation for an Autumn celebration. It went down very well and I was very surprised to hear the power and vitality in my voice, when speaking my own words. My effort appeared to have a positive effect on several people and I in turn was moved by the efforts of others. After the workshop, the facilitators both told me how good it was to hear my voice. When poetry is spoken by the person who wrote it, it becomes energised and the effect can be dynamic - the spoken word might inspire, influence, facilitate change or sometimes even heal according to the intent and abilities of the writer. Of course, the Bards of old practised an oral tradition of poetry and story telling. That is how the legends were passed on. Since the workshop, one of my poems has been published in the monthly newsletter of a Druid organisation with an international membership.
Finding my voice with a live audience was certainly a confidence booster and I don’t think I will ever be nervous about speaking my poetry again. Who knows, I might even develop an ability to tell live stories as well...
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