This Urban Druid does not like fracking. Governments greedy for revenue and desperately trying to stave off the economic (and therefore political) repercussions of our civilization using up the world’s available petroleum, handing out countrywide contracts to cowboy firms to get oil or gas by any means and regardless of consequences. Consequences documented so far include poisoning of groundwater, soil and livestock, earthquakes and landslides, air pollution, toxic waste and the rise of cancers and other diseases in fracked communities.
No, this Urban Druid does not like fracking.
So when the anti-fracking pagan alliance The Warrior’s Call announced this year’s worldwide public ritual Voices on the Wind, I was glad to come in on a friend’s suggestion that we chip in a local ritual.
The place, the cairn at Parc le Breos on the Gower, was a good choice. It held memories. And so much more …
…I’ve been camping near Parc le Breos all weekend, and keeping vigil all night for this. A group of us in the half-ruined cairn, in the drizzle at four o’clock one October morning, staying awake to meet the spirits of the cairn. I’m lying down just outside the inner chamber, while standing in the entrance to it is a young woman, feverish with the onset of a cold, tranced out and gripping the rock either side of her as her partner belts out runic incantations in Swedish. In the dark and the rain and the ruin of the cairn I can close my eyes and invite the spirits. And they come. All of them. At once. Faces crowd in, clamouring to be noticed, eager to meet and greet. These spirits are keen to engage. All too soon contact is broken and we livings have to withdraw as gracefully as we can and trudge back through the worsening rain to dry off and thaw before sleep.
On the day, a mixed bag of eight adults, two children and a dog gather at the cairn in dull weather, waiting for the procession of passers-by to … well, pass by. After the briefing, one of our number, an experienced shaman, approaches the cairn and asks the spirits therein for permission to enter and hold our rite there. I already know the answer will be yes. I can feel the spirits again, eager to engage. It starts to rain lightly. Just like old times.
We process into the cairn and take up positions throughout. I spread out our Warrior’s Sigil and my dragon flag, a veteran of such rituals. These are our Aethernet link to all the groups and individuals everywhere doing something of the sort today, and I’m having Eurovision hallucinations. I grip the stones for support and instead find that I’m holding the terminals to the ethereal circuit of spirits. I try not to vibrate too much. After all, I’m M.C.-ing this.
Instead of calling the quarters pagan-style, I created a summoning of the Four Winds, based on some snippets of classical authors put together by Cornelius Agrippa. On point and in theme. Four members of the party take turns summoning the wind from their chosen direction:
(turn to East) “Barren Eurus, who cometh from the rising of the sun, who gathereth strength from the glowing East, ravenous wind which bringeth water, cloud and cold, come to us now and carry forth our voices raised in the Warriors’ Call.”
(turn to West) “Gentle Zephyrus, who cometh from the setting of the sun, who art moist and cool, who easeth the worst of Winter and bringeth forth growth, come to us now and carry forth our voices raised in the Warriors’ Call.”
(turn to North) “Fierce Boreas, who cometh from the frozen North, who roareth and driveth the clouds before thee, who bindeth the waters with frost, come to us now and carry forth our voices raised in the Warriors’ Call.”
(turn to South) “Warming Notus, who cometh from the sunlit South, who stirreth up the clouds and bringeth heavy air and thunder, come to us now and carry forth our voices raised in the Warriors’ Call.”
With each one I get a greater sense of something vast waking up in each direction. And am I kidding myself or is the wind actually rising a little? Certainly the rain is. We call out: “We are Voices on the Wind. Hear us and send our voices from this place, throughout this land and over all the world.”
There’s the early stage of a ritual where you don’t know quite whether it’ll take off or fall flat. There’s a moment of inbreath, then I can feel the latent energy in this group. Time for some waterfall chanting.
Waterfall chanting is great for raising energy and empowering whatever it is you’re chanting. Each person does the chant in one natural breath, then repeats until it becomes time to stop. As different people breathe at different rates, although we all start together, we soon become one continuous sound. the sound in question is the chant of the vowels of Awen, poetic inspiration, primal creativity, according to the channelled fancies of Iolo Morganwg. So we chant O-I-W, a little self-consciously at first, but then enjoying the smooth continuous flow of the long vowels as we meditate on the Awen and draw forth inspiration to pour out into our magical intention. My grip on the terminals is quite powerful now, and I keep having to change my grip. Glancing about, I can see I’m not the only one feeling the presence of the spirits of the cairn as we sing the long song of Awen.
Time to put this energy and focus to use. Here’s where the dragon flag comes in. As I say, it’s a veteran of these rites …
… The Morrigan encampment, spellcasters and activists of the Warrior’s Call gathered to share knowledge and power up resistance to the scourge of fracking. My major contribution is this ritual, based upon the flag of my land, a dragon, with the Awen sign all over it, and a little bit of fiction. This turns out to be a memorable moment for all who attend, as the Dragon makes its vast presence felt among us in the open air of the field.
In the movie Excalibur, Merlin chants a Charm of Making to summon the Dragon that is the land and all that is in it. The chant is an approximation of Old Irish and goes roughly like this:
translated into English as:
Charm of Life and Death
Thy Song of Making
and into Welsh:
Swyn Bedd a Bywyd
Dy Gân Gwneud
We did approximately the following visualization together, punctuated with repetitions of the chant. Imagine the Dragon arising to deal with the attack upon its very self, calling it with the Charm of Making in Welsh. The mountains are the bones of the Dragon; the waters the blood of the dragon; the wind the breath of the Dragon; all living things and all the land the scales of the Dragon; the clouds the wings of the Dragon; the sun the eye of the Dragon, and through your very self the mind of the Dragon arises from sleep.
As you chant, envisage the mist arising from the ground and slowly enveloping all. Hear the chant reverberating and the landslide hiss, like waves on a pebbly shore, of the dragon stirring and uncoiling itself from the earth all around you. Hear its roaring inbreath like the bellows of the forge of the Old Gods. Envisage the Dragon awaking in the land, the living things, the people, even those who supported fracking, as their eyes are opened to the Dragon.
The Morrigan Encampment finds itself aroused to fury in the coils of the Dragon and the spell is charged …
And so it is with us in the cairn, as I speak a little of the Dragon, then lead the Charm of Making. As always, everyone seems to find the Welsh easy, like all good poetry, and we alternate between visualizing the Raising of the Dragon and its effects in the world with, shall we say spirited renditions of the Charm. The Warrior’s Sigil stands out to me and I can see the person opposite concentrating on it furiously as she drives all this Dragon energy into it.
There comes a point when a ritual is done. We can stop, gather ourselves back together and ensure we uncoil from the Dragon. As we leave, our shaman thanks the spirits for their welcome and their participation and some of us leave small offerings. The spirits answer by making it rain harder. That’s what the Four Winds mostly bring to us in Wales. Once again, I’m trudging away from the cairn to seek grounding and dryness. But regardless of the weather, we’re all in high spirits, as it were. We were Voices on the Wind.