Do you ever get those moments where you suddenly feel as if you’re floating above your body, watching events unfold? And this detachment is an undeniable sign that you’re making a decision which will change your life? That you’ve come to a turning point, and if you accept what’s being set out in front of you, not just your life will change, but your entire worldview? Sometimes it’s hard to heed that little bit of stillness, to realize the import of the moment as it’s happening.
I was driving up I-95 and listening to DruidCast, when Damh the Bard’s voice wafted over the podcast app, talking about the amazing upcoming Celtic exhibit at the British Museum. My gut tightened. This was one of those strange moments where time seems to stop and stretch out, and I knew, absolutely knew, throughout every cell of my body, that I had to go see this exhibit. That is was vitally important, for Reasons I couldn’t understand, but which were plainly being communicated through my visceral reaction to the description of the show.
I asked for the time off work and that was no problem. I asked my ex-husband if he could watch our son for a few extra days, and that was no problem. Getting cheap plane tickets? No problem. In fact the lack of problems throughout this whole enterprise was somewhat miraculous. The biggest “problem” that I’ve encountered with this trip has been an inability to write about it after the fact.
I bought tickets to the museum exhibit online, and based upon the reduction in airfare I could get staying a couple of extra days (an extreme hardship, I know), I decided to try to incorporate a trip to Wayland’s Smithy. Wayland had been a guide throughout my time in the Bardic Grade and continues to be a presence in my life, yet I had never been to his sacred site. I ordered a couple of books from the local library about hikes along the Ridgeway and the various Neolithic monuments, including the Smithy, scattered throughout the area. My excitement grew with each passing day as I planned out bus routes, walking routes, metro routes…ley routes. I hadn’t traveled by myself in well over ten years, the last time being in Athens, Greece during the Olympics. What began as a simple visit to the British museum had become a sacred pilgrimage, not only to London and Primrose Hill, but along the Ridgeway and through the Vale of the White Horse. By gods, I was going to make this an adventure!
When I mentioned my plans to my Grove Mother one day over tea, she immediately suggested that I stay with friends of hers (L. & B.) in Oxfordshire–who in turn were a bit horrified that I was planning on walking the entire Ridgeway–from bus stop to Smithy to the White Horse itself–in January. To be clear, it wasn’t the walking itself that struck them as a bad idea, it was the possibility of inclement weather! A few emails later, we had figured out a much more sensible itinerary, which would still allow me to walk the stretch along ridge between the Smithy and the White Horse, but which would also give me time to visit Avebury and West Kennet Longbarrow–something that would have been impossible in the original plan.
My Grove Mother also connected me with another Druid in London for a tour of the ley lines running through the city. He was actually our Grove Chief’s brother, and was as equally as generous as L. in helping me figure out what to see and where to go for a complete tour of esoteric London. In fact, he noted that the Air BnB where I would be staying was right on top of one of the major ley arteries running through the city. He suggested I pay close attention to my dreams.
It feels odd to be writing about this trip so long after the fact. It was simply a tale that couldn’t be told right away. Sometimes, an experience needs to sit by your fire for awhile, and you need to listen to its story unravel over time. Some gods and spirits just don’t reveal themselves on demand; they work on their own (seemingly geologic) timescales. Try to force them and, well, you may end up moving even more slowly just to prove you can be patient. The Smith, the White Lady, the Hunter, the Detective, and the Visionary all had lessons to teach on this pilgrimage. Perhaps now I will be able to speak them.