The snow is melting – at last – and the whole valley feels like it can breathe again. The jackdaws on our roof are flying off in pairs to find their nests. There are new leaves on the honeysuckle, buds on the rosebushes, and the hellebore flowers have emerged from underneath the snow, still in full bloom and more beautiful than ever.
I’ve been cleaning the kitchen ready to make balms – sun-filled balms made of beeswax and olive oil infused with marigold and chamomile – with this song playing in the background:
Sunshine is definitely something I am channelling right now.
The Sun was my tarot card for February; a holiday of sorts from the more obviously challenging Wands and Swords that surround it. At least, that’s what I thought when I drew it, three months ago – and I did book a holiday for that first week in February, visiting good friends and old haunts in London and Sussex. But the ‘easy’ cards in tarot are not always quite so easy in practice. At this moment in my life, they represent the work of rebuilding and reclaiming what I have lost over the past few years. Positive, consolidating work, yes, but still hard. And still a little scary.
And then, in the middle of the month, a friend died suddenly – someone I saw as a mentor, of sorts. With the grief came a strange kind of guilt: I am here and he is not, now. Sometimes life feels like an overwhelming gift I can never quite justify being given.
Another friend helped to put it in perspective.
She said: all you can do is be yourself. Just be your truest self, to the best of your ability. Whatever that means for you
On instagram, Meadow Queen shared a resonant interpretation of The Sun, all about “being in constant engagement with our truest selves,” and the work it takes to do that. This, I think, was the lesson of The Sun for me this season.
In spite of – maybe because of – the grief, this was a fun lesson to learn. The fun was part of the lesson: it’s not all bad, being me! There were many nights of listening to old CDs, catching up with old acquaintances, revisiting old haunts; getting over this strange fear that all my bridges are already burned. All these things I thought I had to leave behind. All an integral part of who I am, now.
I rejoined the Druid Network and enjoyed rekindling the conversations which inspired my interest in Druidry, ten years ago. It was here, through these conversations, that I first met Brian. Who could have imagined, then, that we would end up living in the same valley? When I moved here, he happily shared his knowledge of local history and folklore, and described his favourite walks, which we planned to walk together.
In the cold February sunshine, I started walking them alone.
Brian will always be part of this landscape. Instead of learning the ways of this valley with him as a guide, I am walking, exploring, with him as an inspiration. And in walking, I am finding my own relationship with this land, my own favourite haunts and sacred places. I wish I could tell him
On Sunday, I made my way up through the ice and snow to the church building where we were married, and where Incredible Edible hold their meetings. There was too much snow on the ground for gardening; instead, I found a suitable paintbrush (probably not hog bristle, but good enough for what was needed) and a Henry hoover, and gave the beautiful but broken organ a proper conservation clean, to the best of my ability. My brief time working in conservation and collections care may not have ended well, but I still have those skills, and I can put them to use for my community.
That is all we can do, in the end. Share what we can, with love, and accept what others share, with gratitude.
Deep within the warming soil, seeds are sprouting. Things are shifting. This long season of shadow work will not last forever, and a sunny afternoon spent on medicine-making, dancing and singing Breton songs in our tiny kitchen is a small step in the right direction.
P.S. the balm recipe I follow is found here on this beautiful blog.