PLAGUE, RESTRICTION, UNCERTAINTY AND... CHANGE
It’s a stormy night just before Samhain. The clocks have gone back, the dark half of the year has begun. Over the next six months there’ll be more darkness, wind and rain. It’ll be cold and sometimes icy. We’ll spend more time inside keeping warm by the fire. And on Zoom calls. Of these things we can be sure.
As for the rest, everything’s uncertain. That’s the nature of these times. It’s hard to predict what will happen next week, let alone by Christmas. All plans have to be provisional. Where will we be by spring? Will we have a job? How will we survive? It’s guesswork like never before.
At the same time we’re having to deal with restriction, our personal space being controlled down to the millimetre by the state. Our natural sociability is now determined by the ‘ten Covid commandments’.
1. Thou shalt not leave thy hands unwashed.
2. Thou shalt not breath near others unmasked.
3. Thou shalt not meet with others unless ‘socially distanced’.
4. Thou shalt not gather together with more than five people at any one time.
5. Thou shalt not do inessential shopping.
6. Thou shalt not sing or dance in public.
7. Thou shalt not go to a festival, football match, theatre or concert.
8. Thou shalt not covert thy neighbours’ lockdown transgressions.
9. Thou shalt not communicate directly, except online.
10. Thou shalt not sit on the sofa all day: for one hour, take thy daily exercise!
This combination of uncertainty and restriction and is leading to heightened emotions all round. Fear of the virus is natural enough, but is arguably being ramped up by government and media. There’s grief for those lost to Covid, as well as for those unable to get medical treatment due to Covid priorities. And there is anger at the world, ministers and each other. It’s little wonder that rates of depression and suicide are escalating. It’s a rational response to the situation we’re in.
However there is a silver lining. Unprecedented uncertainty is forcing us to do things differently, to improvise and be flexible. It’s also making us think for ourselves. What’s the safe thing to do here? What’s the acceptable risk? How do I keep healthy? What is the truth of the matter for me? All this means that we may be changing, which is never easy.
In this seething cauldron of constriction, pressure, polarity, ambivalence and doubt something transformative is going on. In the last few months I’ve experienced more moments of intense connection, creativity and awakening than ever before. It’s as if the fear, grief, anger and confusion are calling forth their opposite: beauty, joy, love, compassion, surprise, resilience… In the depths of these dark times something new is being born.
Shambala 'bubble' celebrating Lammas
At Cae Mabon we are blessed to have a procession of wonders pass through here every year. Fewer this year but, since re-opening in late July, we’ve experienced the buzz of new possibilities with some exceptional people, many of whom are at the cutting edge of change. We celebrated Lammas with a Shambala Festival organisers’ bubble; hosted a film crew making a drama-documentary (The Blueprint) on ‘utopian’ communities around Britain and Europe; had a succession of spirited and creative individuals, couples and families over our ‘Open Month’ in August; welcomed travellers from the Rainbow Gathering; had a group of ‘Change in Nature’ alumni, a ‘Journey to Brotherhood’, Sisters of the Wild, Jodie’s Women’s Gathering, even a mini-working party… People managed the restrictions with good heart and common sense. And, in all cases, magic was made.
As well as all this, other potent connections have taken place in conversations. These days social encounters can arouse a tension between distance and togetherness. A furtive chat can feel like an act of surreptitious rebellion giving the exchange added urgency. These charged conversations happened at full moon gatherings round at Ali’s; with locals, on their advisory lockdown exercise, as we repaired the bridge over Afon Fachwen; with my Dad on the phone.
Unforeseen creative acts came from such conversations.
For example, Mabon’s Oak Head, carved by our sculptor Peter Boyd, is the consequence of all that bridge talk. It was not on this year’s ‘to do’ list. Now Mabon beams his light from atop a plinth by the river, having started his journey as the Hendy Head, a Druid stone carving from Môn. (For the full story see https://www.caemabon.co.uk/single-post/2020/06/27/TWO-FALLEN-OAKS-The-Hole-the-Steps-the-Bridge-and-the-Hendy-Head) Most guests at the midsummer unveiling were people we’d met on the track. All were from within walking distance. This was the first time we’d had just locals here, maybe ever. There was a strong neighbourly and community feeling because we all share literal common ground.
A couple of months later the idea of a Happenstance flowered into life. ‘If you happen to be coming this way on such-and-such a day about two o’clock and you’d like to take a detour, turn down the track by the bridge and you will be welcome to food, drink, music, talks, dance, story and conversation.’ It was a Happens Dance!
Other moments of intensive creativity have happened at the Dragons’ Nest, our Mountain Tribal Temple, the Fort of Fiery Higher Powers… Dinas Emrys. I’ve gone there with many different people over the summer and always, through impromptu ceremony, simple and profound magic is made. The ‘higher powers’ come through.
These are glimpses of some intense moments of aliveness and connection I’ve experienced here recently. Something similar must be happening a million times over around the land. I’m sure it’s everywhere. But I’d like to name particular places I know where the buzz of new possibilities is strong. They are hubs of pioneering change, connected to Cae Mabon through an invisible humming web of sustainable, eco-spiritual centres in service to the planet. Nearby are Pandy Farm Tregarth, Moel y Ci, the Astral Ship, Tyddyn Teg, Trigonos, Henbant, Felin Uchaf and CAT. In South Wales I mention just Brithdir Mawr, Lammas and Coed Hills. In the English west, Lower Shaw Farm, Hazel Hill Wood, Earth Spirit Centre, Embercombe… Please keep adding names.
'In the depths of these dark times something new is being born.’ Grass roots transformation is taking place. Lend your shoulder to the wheel.