Friday 29 August 2014

In which I turn 40.....

I've spent a magical few days at Rivenstone - Festival of Bones,  which takes place on Dartmoor, at the home of  Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw.
 This year, the theme of the festival was the honouring  of our ancestors, symbolised by the White Horse Hill Woman (an extraordinary recent archeological find here on the moors).
I had a stall there, selling my work, ably assisted by my sister Angharad, and met so many lovely people, even some who knew me through my blog, so Thankyou, for coming to talk to me :)

In the heart of the moor, in the misty rain, wind sang through the heather, buzzards wheeled and mewed overhead, and drums sounded like the earth's heartbeat underfoot.

 I spent three days listening to haunting music that sang of the land, and the sacredness of the earth.

I sat in a smoky roundhouse in the middle of the night, where the story of 'The Uninvited Guest' told by puppets in the firelight, was wondrous indeed! 
I walked in procession by candlelight, and added my voice to the honouring of the ancestors.
And I danced - to English and Breton folktunes, and trancey drumming, and tribal chanting.


On the final day, there were a series of deep immersion workshops. Most of these were journeying workshops, and although I was sorely tempted by Manda Scott's workshop - 'Ancestors of the Island Dreaming', in the roundhouse, I chose to immerse myself in experimental archeology instead and spent the day with Kate Fletcher and Corwen Broch, of Ancient Music, learning how to make reed pipes and deer bone flutes and a whistle from a cow's toe bone!


It was the most fun I've had in a long time - really! Lovely, lovely people, and we laughed all day. I even managed to make a decent sound with my reed pipe and flute, although I couldn't master the toe bone.

And then it was home again, to turn 40, which feels quite momentous and amazing. I feel grown up, wiser and serene, and I can wear my grey hair as a badge of honour. I feel as if I am finally ready to step into my true self.

I am lucky to live a life where I can do the things I love. I can work my garden and grow my herbs. This is White sage (Salvia Apiana) which I have grown from seed. To my surprise, it has grown well and strong, and I have already harvested a small amount for drying and using in smudge sticks. I imagine it will be hard to keep alive over a dartmoor winter, so I am planning to take cuttings and move pots into the cold greenhouse.

Here it is, dried and combined with mugwort, alongside my homemade ginger and rhubarb cordial.

This is oil of St John's Wort, which has been macerating in the sun for the last six weeks. I love the way it has turned the greenish olive oil a rich red colour.

And this is the last harvest of milk thistle seeds from the garden, beautiful and useful plants, but vicious to extract the seeds from!
This is how I am happiest - here on these moors, in the rain and the wind and the sun. Walking and riding, painting and planting. 
I am blessed indeed.


Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Blessed indeed! I find myself very envious.

Happy 40th!

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing about this festival, it sounds beautiful. Count those blessings, and hit those forties with style! Love from, a complete stranger x

De la Renaissance said...

~ A belated but very Happy Birthday to you!!! ~

So glad you had such an amazing time! begins at 40. :0D

Bovey Belle said...

A belated Birthday greeting from me, and WHAT a way to celebrate. Like Gail, very envious!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Festival of Bones. Magic.

I am interested in your herbal exploits too. Fascinating.

Bovey Belle said...

P.S. I read every word about the White Horse Hill woman and wonder whether she may have been wrapped in a pony skin - perhaps from a white pony? Wouldn't it be amazing if the name of the hill went back to the Bronze Age? Oooh, how I'd love to do an M.Phil on that find, so much to get your teeth into, trade routes from the Baltic, the Beaker People bringing the magic of copper to Dartmoor and the magical bracelet made from local tin (one assumes) and plaited cowhair.

Danielle Barlow said...

Gail - I look at your beautiful photos and feel the same ;)

Thankyou Disobedient Child and Dale Ann xx

BB - we have followed the find with huge interest here. There was a talk by the archeologists at the festival.The actual objects will be on display at Plymouth Museum in September - can't wait to go and see them.

Em Parkinson said...

I can't remember if I said happy birthday on Facebook so if I didn't.....apologies and so pleased you had such a great time! X

Valerianna said...

Happy 40th, Danielle!! Looks like a wonderful festival. There are so many gatherings here in the US, but somehow I always think they seem to lack just the right mix of earth and spirit compared to the ones I witness over your way. From the Weird and Wonderful Wood, to some of the old village festivals to this one, well, wish it were easier to visit! Seems like we are always trying to re-claim the old ways, and they are not as rooted in the land as they are there.

I know many people now growing white sage, one woman brings it in as a houseplant in winter. Hers is a few years old and big. Good luck overwintering it!

T.L. Baumhardt said...

Beautiful! Birthday Blessings, Danielle!

Freyalyn said...

It's a good life that you have, and the better for the love and appreciation you have for it.


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