Beltaine journeys

Posted in art, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft on May 12, 2008 by cerrilee

Beltaine, a time when nature seems to be at its most fecund and vibrant. There is a palpable change in the energy of the land and all life seems to step up a gear. The birdsong becomes louder and brighter, the lambs are bouncing for all they are worth in the fields already, flowers come thick and fast to the hedgerows and gardens and we feel more alive and vital as the Sun climbs higher into the sky and is with us longer each day. And we look to the trees to see the new green mantel of leaves emerge from the bare branches as the Goddess of Spring stirs and wakes.

Oak before Ash in for a splash, Ash before Oak in for a soak, and the higher the Rooks nest the dryer the weather, they say! Well this year it was the Oak by a long way and the the Rooks were as far up in the trees as they could manage, so maybe we are in for a dry spell, who knows!

On the Long Man hill we were blessed by the Sun as we gathered again to celebrate the turning of the eternal wheel. The wonderful Mythago Morris brought the circle together with a couple of dances. After opening the ceremony we held hands and formed a circle of unity and then with chanting and love the men and women parted company to honour the mysteries of the God and Goddess, both within and without.

For the Men a Toast, a Boast and a Promise!  to honour someone or something in your life, for something of which you are proud to have achieved and a promise for something you wish to achieve. Roars and cheers of pride, power and passion filled the air, the God in his glory was felt on that hill.

For the Women a time to say out loud of how the Goddess spoke to us and how she manifests through each of us, then a song of unity, strength and beauty that soared and spiraled around the circle binding us together with the Goddess and each other and as we sang the May Queen was divined. The women cloaked and crowned the May Queen and paid her honour due and then we heard a tune coming from the men’s circle which signaled that they too were ready to find the May King.

We danced around their circle as they sang to show the Goddess was with them as they rose up to face the ordeal to find the May King!

The Men gathered and made ready to run, all fired and tense for the race. The signal given the chase was on and like greyhounds across the great expanse of grass they ran finally disappearing into the trees in the distance, the May King would be the first one to find the Antlers hidden in the copse.

The May Queen and the women watched the men run and then waited to see who emerged carrying the prize, slowly the group came back into view but no horns were to be seen. They walked slowly all with their hands behind their backs, who had won the prize?

Eventually the waiting women caught sight of the antlers in the hands of one man who then brandished them with much whoop and ceremony from all. He was brought to the top of the hill where his cloak and crown were bestowed and the May King and May Queen were presented to each other and the the assembled company. For this moment they were our God and Goddess standing with us at the time of Beltaine, holding the energy of the land, they blessed the bread and drink and shared the feast with the circle, whilst poem and song was presented to honour the day.

With the Lord and Lady blessing the company, Mythago morris danced for us again and a fire was lit to represent the Beltaine fires of the ancestors and we all jumped through the flames. The feasting, poetry and dancing was done, so it was time for our King and Queen to return that energy to the land and for the circle to come to a close. With grateful hearts we thanked the spirits of place and all of the guides and guardians of Anderida for their inspiration, guidance and protection and wound our way to the Giants Rest for Ale, more dancing and the good company of like minds.

Blessed Be

Finding “The Goddess”

Posted in art, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2008 by cerrilee

webrock.jpgWhat a journey this life is!

Lately I have found myself on a journey of self discovery and healing that is moving me to my very foundations, the universe seems to be conspiring to clear all of the detritus that has built up in my Psyche over the years, and one of the most profound parts of that journey has been a recent visit to Cyprus, the Homeland of my biological Father.

To set the scene a little I feel I need to give a snip of history to put the story into how important this is for me. I first found out about my biological Father when I was seventeen, some six years after the man I had believed to be my Father had died in a car crash. Not to make too long a story of it, I was a little surprised, not to mention curious! However, my Mother made it clear from what little she said, I would never be able to meet or find my biological father and, the Gods forbid I should discuss this with anyone, the last bit I think you can tell, I flagrantly ignored!

What she neglected to tell me at that point (it took another thirteen years for this bit) was, that I also had another Sister, a full sister from the elusive Cypriot! She is two years younger than me and had been adopted at birth, she had tracked us down as soon as she could and spent a year trying to pursued Mother to let her meet the rest of the family. I am happy to say that when Mother finally relented and allowed us to meet, there was an instant connection, it was as if my Sister had always been part of my life, and we have continued to be close.

Anyhow now you have a bit of history to put things in context, back to the point of the blog!

There is a place on Cyprus called “Aphrodite’s Sanctuary” and on the second day of our trip Damh and I decided to visit this place. We had been told of a stone there that had an amazing energy, so on what turned out to be the only bright sunny day we had in the week we were there we set of to find it. Having hired a little 4×4 and bought a map we set off. It was easy to find, we pulled into what seemed at first to be a slightly ramshackle site at the back of someones yard. We got out of the car and walked in to the newer looking part of the site, paid the grumpy lady behind the counter the few euros and went in.

The air was full of perfume and bird song as we walked through onto the site, the wind blew up the hillside off of the sea a mile or so away. We walked around the upper area discovering mosaics, old pathways, pomegranate trees and bits of the buildings that had lain around for centuries. We were virtually the only visitors there and we took our time and some photos, just soaking up the atmosphere which was pure peace. We then spent ages looking at the information boards full with information not only about the site but also the cult of Aphrodite. In those few relatively short paragraphs I learned so much and it awoke something deep within me.

I really had no idea quite how little I knew about this Goddess, to say that she has been generally underestimated is an understatement of epic proportion. This Goddess was know simply as “The Deity” for a long time and the age of the site is least Bronze Age possibly earlier, being used and rebuilt over thousands of years. She was and is an Earth Mother, the energy of her Sanctuary is beauty, peace and joy, and we hadn’t even found the stone yet!

We moved on from the info boards and on through a gateway set with simple murals made from small stones, into a courtyard with four or five large, old and beautiful trees, all of the buildings were newly restored medieval buildings, clean and elegant. We began to explore the open doorways that beckoned. Damh went into one whilst I explored another, we met in the courtyard and as I looked at his face I knew something had affected him, he said, “I will give you a minute alone in there”. Ok! I thought and walked up the cobbled ramp to a large doorway.

As I walked through the doorway from bright sunlight into the relative gloom of the vaulted room, a wave of energy washed over me that was so powerful that it took my breath away. I stood just inside the room and caught my breath and as my eyes adjusted, I saw “The Stone” sitting on a plinth placed in the center of the Eastern wall. The presence of this black piece of rock that was about three feet tall, almost conical but slightly flattened on three sides, was incredible. Either side of the rock there was information about it and how it was housed and the kinds of offerings that had been made to the embodiment of the “Deity” long before any anthropomorphic image, she was the very Earth itself and there was nothing to tell you that you could not touch “The Deity”, and so I did. I touched her smooth blackness and felt an acceptance the like I have never felt before, like all those people in ages passed, my ancestors, I touched the Goddess and she touched me.

In that place I felt the fragmented parts of my heart and soul begin to find a healing, maybe for the first time in my life, it was hard to leave that place and I will go back again, but it was getting on in the day and we had to leave at some point, so we traveled down the road a little further to the place that it is said to be the birth place of the Goddess, again it was a rock, or rather a large group on a mystical shore. There is a tunnel built to take you safely onto the beach under the busy road, it is long, thin and dark and feels like a birthing canal, and as you emerge blinking into the light the Rock formations are right in front of you, again breath taking! And to our surprise on all of the bushes along the beach there were tied white rags, offerings to the Goddess, just as at many sites have over here in Britain!

The Goddess is alive and even though she now has a supermarket, golf course and other modern day fripperies named after her, her power is still with us undiminished!

Finally I have made my Immrama to Cyprus after more than half a life time of being curious about the culture of my Father and physical aspects of being multicultural, in the genetic sense (there is another whole other story about the Irish part of my heritage), add to that a great deal of spiritual work on “The Ancestors”, personal ancestry, and connection to “The Land” with all of its cycles, myths and legends.

Many people on a spiritual path make connections with various Gods and Goddesses and I am no different, and needless to say that however you think about those connections, either because I wished to or because She called to me, I have felt a strong calling from Aphrodite. Many aspects of my life I have related to this Goddess and yet always found difficulty in relating to her stories, and now I know why. I have started to live as a whole person in a way that could not have been done without this soul quest, and I thank “The Deity” for her gift with all my heart.

blessed be

Cerri 🙂

The Cauldron is Born!

Posted in art, cauldron born, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, pagan music, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2008 by cerrilee

p67web.jpgI have been a bit busy over the past few weeks trying to do my partner Damh the Bard’s new album cover, the album is called The Cauldron Born. I always start with such big ideas about the concepts for the covers and find that my technical abilities just do not come up to par when putting them into a Photoshop environment, thank the Gods for having a creative teenage daughter who is much more able on these fronts!

The process is an interesting one as the album has to be practically finished to get a real sense of how it is going to sound before you can have any idea of how the artwork should complement the energy, and then everything very quickly becomes time pressured in order to get everything out to press.

The whole album takes months to work on whilst having to fit it in with working, and the whole house takes on a air of creative tension. Damh works all hours on writing and recording in the front bedroom of our small bungalow, every now and then he will come out of the room either utterly frustrated or bouncing with child like glee depending on what he has achieved in the past couple of hours, at which point I become a sound board as we then go through various versions of the track to listen to the levels of each instrument and it is adjusted, deleted or sometimes new things added.

At these points I have to give an “honest” opinion, but also be the epitome of tack and diplomacy, neither of these two qualities are natural parts of my nature, I tend to be very straight forward with my opinion if I like something I am comfortable to say so, but equally if something does not work for me I will not say anything just to please, I really think that that is unfair and I would not be happy if someone was not honest with me. For me all opinion is subjective and personal and therefore should be taken with grace (if it is given with grace), whilst being comfortable enough to say thank you for your opinion I will consider the points you make, but still have the confidence to do what you feel is right for you.

And so it goes on over the months whilst I try to keep the noise to a minimum in the rest of the house, with phones ringing, people knocking at the door and the dog barking her head off at any little noise, it takes over your life and no mistake. So when it comes to the last stage which is the cover, Damh is champing at the bit to get the package out the door and to press – no pressure there then! 🙂

All of the fabulous and grand ideas of working with photos and line drawing which I started with at the beginning of the process are binned! There simply are not enough hours in the day to take the photos and work out how to turn them into the images in my head, it would take weeks and more dry weather than we have had for ages to get out into the woods and take the basic shots. Then I would have to find someone to teach me everything I need to know about Photoshop to transform them, and then do the extra artwork to overlay, so I go for simplicity.

The album has a very clean and clear feel to it and a good number of the song lyrics have strong feelings to them, so I felt that simple line drawings white on black dotted through the booklet would keep with that theme. So having worked out a simple image that hopefully best illustrated the feel of each song I set to work on drawing the images. I have to say that I work best with pencil sketching or clay so these images made me work outside of my comfort zone and I struggled with the idea that less is more, but in the end I hope I managed something acceptable.

I only used one photograph in the end and that was of a cauldron from a website (with the permission of the website owners of course www.jelldragon.com), and I have to say that with the technical help of my daughter Rosalie I have learned so much from this process and will be much more confident with the next one!

Art and Magic

Posted in art, cerri lee, clothing, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2008 by cerrilee

It seems that the universe is working some kind of magic for me at the moment! So many things are coming into my awareness that are teaching me some very strong lessons about my art and the way I think about it. Not the least of which was a great discussion at the moot last night on Symbolism.
For so many years I have not valued my attempts to express myself and seen nothing but imperfection in the things I produced, always comparing myself to others and never matching up in my eyes. But with a fairly new perspective, I think that was because I was always trying to control the piece and never let it speak for itself.

Art, to me, is communication of ideas and feelings, so the fundamental drive of an artist from my point of view, is to convey that feeling or inspiration that often hits you from both inside and out. It hits your head, your heart and your gut all at once and you feel compelled to share that passion with anyone who will listen, you want them to feel the same fire in their heads. But every time you put pen/pencil to paper or model a lump of clay the language used can often feel limited, not up to the task of conveying all that verve and gusto. To me in the past it seemed in order to reach out and communicate the things that had moved me so strongly, I had to find a symbolic language that anyone could access.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that everyone has their own internal symbolic language built from their own natures and their cultural nurturing. So I spent my time thinking and thinking and thinking and rarely doing anything for fear that I would not be able to speak clearly enough or in a language that people would want to hear!

Blimey! I tell you that is not a fun place to be and all self inflicted! If I want to I can blame my insecurities on my unsupportive parent, who never even passed a comment on anything I did except possibly to point out a number of flaws, but I think that is too easy a get out. I have been a grown up for quite a long time now and had three great kids of my own, all of which have grown up as very creative individuals and I managed to encourage them, why couldn’t I do the same for myself?

I think that I have finally found my own plain and simple truth, my journey has been to find the courage to not control the reaction from others by trying to second guess what anyone might want to hear and manipulate the image to that end, but to put stuff from my heart out there and hope that something I produce may speak personally to another individual. In truth my ego hopes others will see the depth of feeling I have for my spirituality, the natural world and mythical realms through the mediums I choose.

For me the Magic of Art is in the doing of it. In the process of exploration and experimentation you learn your own inner language and the more you use it the greater your vocabulary becomes and so the more confident you are to speak it out loud.

A New Year!

Posted in art, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft on January 6, 2008 by cerrilee

So Starts another new year, blimey the wheel rolls faster with every turn! I begin the year with a resolution to make this year my year, I’m not quite sure who’s years they have been so far, all I know is that I feel that this is a culmination of a long journey of self discovery.

The Anderida Gorsedd Winter Solstice celebration on the Long Man of Wilmington, was a turning point for me. The day before I had sat at the computer to write the ceremony and was looking back over some of the previous words that we had used, and it struck me how profound this time of year has always been. One of the things that we can be certain of is that our ancestors throughout time have celebrated the Sun’s rebirth. You only have to look at Stonehenge, Newgrange and Maes Howe to know this to be true.

It can be a time of rebirth for all who choose to follow the wheel of the year. We may not need a magical ritual to ensure that the Sun will once again climb higher into the sky and bring the warmth back to the land, but we still need to mark the event and acknowledge our own journey. The Winter Solstice is a time to reflect not only the journey through the year it can also be a time to take a longer look back over a life time.

The day was foggy and cold as we made the steep walk up the hill, the Long Man himself was shrouded in mist to the point where he was almost invisible. When we got to the top of the little Gorsedd Hill at the foot of the Long Man, the mists parted a little to reveal some of the landscape. The bare branches of the trees stretched out and picked at the edges of the mist and pulled threads from it as it thinned. As we began the ritual the mist retreated further and hung in the valley all around us. A weak Sun above the hill did battle with the clouds and tried to bring a little warmth to the company of eighty or so gathered to celebrate the rebirth of the light.

As we moved through the ritual I felt the earth beneath me, I looked at the mists all around us in the valley and felt at one with time and space. I could feel a connection to the ancestors in the barrows on the very top of the hill above us and wondered how their rituals might have been. The landscape was alive, the elements all present, I could feel the constraints of time ebbing away. Was this anything like the ritual our ancestors might have done? Could they from their vantage point up on the hill, recognise anything of what we were doing?

It has, slowly but surely, dawned on me over this past year that my artwork is starting, finally, to find a real voice. In my heart I yearn for the western world to refind the enchantment that our ancestors saw in the earth, to hear the call of crow and have it’s voice speak of ancient lore and of stories long forgotten. To really feel the human journey and value our heritage, not in a preserved and cold way with a talking tape machine giving you dusty archaeological supposition as you trot around an ancient monument wondering if the shop will be able to provide a suitable something to preserve the memory, but in a way that forces one to engage in an emotional way, either by stories, songs or images that bring the earth back to life and us closer to it. I don’t think my voice has a distinct language yet and maybe my need for self expression is just a bit of a self absorbed and romantic notion, but art is about passion and if I can at least try to engage my own heart’s passion maybe it will speak to others as well.

I encourage everyone to find their voice and their passion and to not be afraid to express it truly. There is a old triad that becomes more real for me at every turn in my life as a Druid, but I have to admit that I change one word in it, I replace the word Genius with Art as it feels more real to me.

Three primary essentials of Art are; An eye that can see nature, a heart that can feel nature and a boldness that dares follow it.

Will it stick this time?

Posted in art, cerri lee, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft on December 20, 2007 by cerrilee

My partner Damh the Bard is determined to get me into the technological age! So far he has meet with stubborn resistance to anything internet based as a form of communication for me.

How ever it has occurred to me that maybe putting finger to keyboard in a blog about my creative process would a good way for me to more fully understand it and even bring in new ways to express myself.

So just this short introductory post for today as it is the festive season and there is much to be organised for the ceremony up the Long Man Hill tomorrow for our Winter Solstice celebration.

May the rebirth of the light bring new strength and vision for the coming year.