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.