Before the Candles Are Forged



“I am she that hews the limb
which braided the cord
that strung the harp.”

I’d intended to write about the last few days of Dublin and what I saw there, as there are many other stories to tell.

But I’m a bit out of words.


I’m in Chicago currently, visiting someone very dear to me.  It seemed, when I planned it, an almost frivolous choice, but one I needed to make.  I knew returning from all I would see and would do wouldn’t be easy, but stopping to see a dear friend before returning to all which awaited me might help ease the shift in sight I’d require.

I had more foresight than I thought.

It’s difficult enough to be god-bothered and still speak to those who don’t know those to whom you speak, those to whom you’ve offered your hands and words.  The mystic or the poet lives in many worlds and forgets sometimes which passport is needed, which currency is appropriate, which language the locals speak.  Spend a bit too much time in one world and the transition to another can be clumsy, sometimes brutish and obscene.

My friend and I walked to the lake together.  His life is greatly different from mine, his companions and circumstances the sort I often desire to attain but never quite manage to find satisfying.  I often find I’ve little purchase in the branches of those forests, few words which shake those leaves. More so, I’d spoken to giants and the dead in foreign lands–how does one explain that to anyone?

I felt so very out of place, disconnected, bereft.

It reminded me how I felt when I’d written the title piece for Your Face is a Forest, enough that I felt the need to rewrite it a bit:

From the beards of ancient giants I have clung.
Along the shores of an ancient queen’s sunken isle I have listened.
I have become the rain and streams and stones crashing down slopes into lakes of endless wisdom, the flames of a thousand hearths my flickering soul.
I have seen Lugh’s spear pierce into the darkest of tombs.
I have woven tapestries from the threaded tales of the dead.
I have seen dragonfire glisten through drops of rain and held open humbled hands to the power of a land.

But in this forest, I am fucking lost.

I am only now remembering what a forest means
And only now remembering, I do not know at all.

He and I walked to the lake and I fumbled with my words, trying to explain my disconnection, how I could not seem to bridge the deep chasm between myself and the world.

“You’re all in-breaths,” he said, his face quite kind.  “You’ve taken in so much, but you haven’t gotten to breathe out yet.  Until you exhale, there’ll be no room for more.”

I’ve no mentors, unfortunately, but I’ve friends insightful enough to make up for this grand lack.  He was right, and the next 10 hours exploring the lake, the city, and the strange urban forests (some of which we call ‘taverns’ and ‘bars’) became for me that great out-breath.

I slept that night exhausted, but full of peace.


Tomorrow I board a train towards Seattle, 48 hours along rails where, for the first time since I left upon my journey, I’ll be ‘alone’ with my thoughts, away from anyone I know.  The train was cheaper, and I suspect much wiser, as I desperately need this time.

When you leave on a journey to see gods, you don’t just return different; you also return to something different, not what you were expecting, not what you thought you left.

Today, I learned that the job to which I thought I was returning does not await me. Today, I also learned a relationship which meant a lot to me is no longer quite possible.

Misfortune?  Or re-weaving?  I don’t know.

I’d spoken to some gods before leaving Dublin, including The Mothers.  (The bit of poetry at the beginning of this piece is some of what came from that exchange).  Something, again, was re-woven, but I do not know quite what.

One does not speak to gods and find everything the same afterwards

As I said,

They help, like an earthquake helps settle the land, revitalize the city.

They help, like volcanoes help grow our crops and strengthen the forests.

They help, like hurricanes sow seeds and water the fields.

Right now, all my words are coming out dark, shadowed, pained, and I’d prefer not to write from the darkness, nor from pain.

What I saw shook me, what I was given seems too strange and unwieldy to know quite how to use.  What I was told by Those I met I don’t quite yet know how to comprehend, and what I comes next is completely unknown.


Imbolc comes.  Midwinter for many is the time of light, but Imbolc for me is the awakening of that light. Midwinter reminds us that there’s always light even when there’s no sun; Imbolc reminds that it is we who must forge that light.

I hope the turning of the year for you is grand. I’m sure I’ll have more stuff to write at some point soon, but it may take me a little while.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for some fantastic stuff to read, go read the brutally fantastic poetry Lorna has been writing over the last few months at From Peneverdant.   I had very little time to read other people’s writing while in Wales and Ireland, but I made a point to read her poems because, well.  You’ll see.

Also, kindly consider buying my book. It’s still on sale.

And also, be fucking well, yeah?

I will be, too.





8 thoughts on “Before the Candles Are Forged

  1. I’ve done that train journey (once), and love it and would do it again at the drop of a hat, and not just because it avoids O’Hare. For me, it was a Hermes and Lugus affair, and that train journey would be a great place to have a conference/incubation intensive with some like-minded polytheists, I think.

    When you get back, let me know…I’m trying to get to Seattle next week to see a glue-wielding Gnostic about repairing some gods, and it would be good to see and hear you soon–if not on that trip, then some other time in the near future.

  2. Thanks for the mention of my poems. Your words about passports and returning and all is changed sound familiar and remind me of words from Greg Hill’s ‘Borders’ –

    ‘But if ever we come back seeking
    for old paths, still-living memories,
    Strange border guards would stop us
    finding no visa, turning us
    As we are turned away from what
    we neither know nor recognise.’

  3. I have vanished into a future
    leaving Them far behind.
    I have raced over the azimuth until
    there is just I and no more

    on this piece of sun-lit moon.


    pleated life
    pressed allowance seems
    all my memory.

    dinosaur dreams.

    Fook….are we there yet?

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