Firstly, a little request to be gentle with your comments. This piece contains some deeply personal spiritual experiences and gnosis. This type of experience is hugely symbolic and meaningful to me as the practitioner, but can be hard to translate into words. It takes vulnerability to bring these spiritual visions into the light of public scrutiny so I ask that if you can’t relate, please keep it to yourself with my hopes for your own profound spiritual insights. Thank you.
Finishing the Boudica series of novels (by Manda Scott) was tough and as I read of the inevitable death of The Boudica, knowing what that has meant for the Britain I now inhabit, I honour that grief that laid thick on my heart and in my bones for many months.
To be honest, I’ve always resented the Romans for conquering this island, bringing their nailed God and concept of ‘civitas’ – citizenship, and what it was to be civilised. I know this is naive, and I’ve accepted that I am a naive soul and that’s ok. Of course, I know the Roman invasion was but one spoke in the wheel of those who have sought to crush us with religiosity, law, and later disenchantment, industrialisation, patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism and all the other things I perceive as having challenged the beauty of living on this amazing planet.
But my body and soul always seem to look to the past for answers. I try not to romanticise the life of those on these isles before me, and am careful with the archeological and historical sources I put my trust in. But still, I feel in my many visits to ancient barrows, stone circles, grave mounds, sacred springs, chalk figures and museums, a grave loss of something colossal, and that loss was a world where the imprint of humans on the land was far less than the presence of nature, when we were just another species among many.
Of course, to be human is to strive and I’m no primitivist (I think). We always would have grown, our technology blooming from flint to microchip, but oh to live in a time when the Gods were among us rather than profit being god!
But it is this present sense of loss that interests me as well as the archaeological reality of Iron Age life. Boudica remains a symbol and the feelings raised by these books are in response to my internalised sense of loss based on my personal imaginings of pre-Roman and pre-Christian cosmologies and praxis. And these cosmologies have been for me, a balm against the current capitalist hellscape in which we find ourselves today.
When I connected with my ancestors to try to better understand these feelings, the message I received was, ‘grief and sacred rage are a bridge to the ancestors.’ This is comforting and makes me consider the experiences of struggle amongst those who have come before me. All of our ancestors include victors and victims but in this situation I also got a very specific sensation – that I can only express as an embodied sense of Albion, or the Spirit of Britain (though I acknowledge how problematic the wording is for the latter in a colonial context).
Albion remains, for me, an embodied concept that is brought to the fore when I experience folk tradition, hear myth brought alive, see museum objects, feel the sounds of folk music humm deep within me. I can’t tell you what exactly that feeling is conceptualising, other than to say that to revel in certain elements of folk culture burns a flame within me, and that flame is key in considering this loss and longing. It helps me feel like I’m accessing something not only from the past, but that helps me embody the thread of connection that remains with my ancestors, stretching back through time.
I feel these ancestral messages from my ritual will take a long time to process and will bring differing layers of insights as it sinks through my subconscious, but by far the most long-lasting part of my processing these insights came from a specific symbolic gift from the Otherworld, the triskele. Let me take you on a brief journey…
Deep within an Otherworldly journeying session I found myself far from my familiar haunts and in the most primordial place I’ve been so far, the darkness. I’ve been here before, an endless space of darkness that, far from being scary, is womb-like in its cocoon of safety. What I realised from this particular journey is that this place is timeless, meaning it contains all times, all places. The form that the gift of this realisation came in was the triskele, a symbol I’ve had a life-long connection to. The variation that I particularly like is where the triple spirals form a triangular space in the centre of the spirals. I was gifted the realisation that this primordial darkness I was experiencing WAS this central space of the triskele, and that this darkness, being home to all ancestors past, present and future, meant that truly nothing was lost in the Roman conquest of this land. All of the beauty, magic and potency of the days of Boudicca, the Druids and the tribes, is still here! I mean, wow! What a thing to arrive at! What a balm against the pain of the grief I’ve mentioned.
From this remarkable gift came a string of other insights. The Otherworld can never be taken from us, was a strong message I received that came with such a sense of belonging and relief. That no matter what oppression we face, we always have our inner landscape, our myths, our Gods and ancestors.
In discovering this came the knowledge that as spiritual seekers, our task is then to connect, to truly seek the ancestral wisdom that is our birth-right. Hmm I never thought I’d say something so cheesy, but I mean it with my whole heart. This is a life’s pursuit; to undo capitalist and productivity indoctrination in order to give ourselves permission to open up to such insights and relationships, but I feel deeply happy to know that I’m on this path.
So, drawing together these threads, what have I learnt? Firstly, the symbols created where myth and history blur, can continue to impact us, regardless of the form in which we experience them, and whether fact, fiction or something in between. Secondly, it’s more than OK to be deeply impacted by the past as history and legend provides a wellspring of psycho-spiritual inspiration, of awen and revelation. More than this, these insights are deeply healing in that they can help us deal with the rigours of living in this extractive and oppressive system. Lastly, the gift I was given through the triskele symbolism showed me that the wisdom of our ancestors remains accessible to us all. Ancestral wisdom lives on in us and can also be found in the Otherworld, and in seeking this knowledge we also renew and strengthen our relationships to our ancestors, whether they be of blood, of tradition or of place, as us Druids would have it.
A connection to ancestors has only been part of my life for a handful or years and, in truth, I didn’t know what people meant when they discussed accessing ancestral wisdom. So if that’s you right now, I can relate. I’d love to know if you’ve ever been gifted insights or knowledge from your ancestors and, if not, what do you think could be your first step on that path?
If you want to lean into some support in this world to help you forge practices to connect to ancestors or deity, if you could use some advice or broader perspectives about your spiritual path, whether fresh out the broom closet or looking to revive and reimagine your practices, I’m here for one-to-one spiritual coaching. My services via Labyrinth Life Coaching offer radical and spiritual support and I’d love to connect with you on a free call to chat about how I can help you (see the Labyrinth Life Coaching page of the website: https://www.walkthespiralpath.co.uk/coaching/ ).
May the voice of your Gods, guides and ancestors support you on the path…