As I walked towards Stonehenge this time, I held in my hand something unassuming, but very special to me because of its meaning and where it had come from. A small bottle of water. It was cool in my warm hand, as I walked up the path, surrounded by many other tourists, with my son holding my other hand and my husband walking behind us. We had gotten off the plane from Sydney via Bangkok mere hours earlier and were quite tired from the jet lag, but simultaneously really happy to be there. My son was excited as there was a kids TV show that he had seen it on, and he also loves to look at museums. My husband had never been and was quite surprised at how big it was. For me, it was about returning to fullfil a promise.
The last time I’d set foot near this incredible site, I was there for a winter solstice Gorsedd gathering that my teacher Morgan Rhys Adams had invited me to. There had been about a hundred people in attendance. I had only started learning about Druidry with Morgan that year and it had really captured my heart. I had learned so much after months of working with some core concepts, and was feeling ready to return to Australia with that knowledge to begin my project of understanding the Australian landscape better.
The Gorsedd gathering involved recognition of the season, a play acting out a part of the story of Arthur, an initiation of Bards which I was able to receive, and an eisteddfod of other performances. In that space I decided to state my intention to take what I’d learned back to Australia. So, in front of that big group of people I expressed my deep gratitude to Druidry and to that community for what I’d learned there, and I made a promise to take what I’d learned to Australia and explore how it could help us there. It was that promise I felt I was returning with fulfilled.
The water in my hand wasn’t just any old water. It was water that had played an important role at the first Druids Down Under National Gathering, held in March this year in Sydney. People practicing Druidry through many different pathways came together to celebrate what it means to us to walk this path in our Australian context. We symbolised this in our ritual practice over the weekend. A significant part of the ritual was the waters of the cauldron. Each of us was asked to bring a small bottle of water from our own land – either the tap water we drink that is a part of who we are physically, or water from a sacred natural place for us. In ritual we each added into the cauldron the waters of our land representing our coming together from so many different places. During the main ritual we blessed the water with our invocations and welcomes to the ancestors, the nature spirits, and the shining ones, we danced and sang our Awen, chanting and toning harmonies together to bring a blessing to our offerings. The water was later put into many small bottles for us to take home again as a symbol of our community. This was the water I held in my hand.
I walked around the pathway and found a nice spot on the grass to sit for a while, remembering that promise made in the stones ten years ago; remembering returning to Australia and starting to find others, discussing Druidry and how it could be adapted for Australia, developing an Australian wheel of the year, and learning about Australian plant and animal symbolism, as well as exploring the concepts of elements, local spirits and sacred sites in our antipodean context; I remembered the many discussions online and in person with so many inspiring people who worked together to create a vision for what our community could be and worked towards creating it; remembering all the connections made that led to our first national gathering; and remembering the wonderful experience of the gathering itself, that was the product of the efforts of so many individuals in the community, giving with generosity and joy. My heart felt so full sitting there on the grass, clutching this little bottle of water and looking at these ancient stones.
I poured some into my hand, and placed my hand on the soft grass, dotted with daisies. I breathed in the place and felt a sense of completion, encouraged to keep going, and to just be filled with the joy of it all. Feeling that the promise had come full circle. I’d returned and had done what I’d set out to do. I wondered if there would be a next task, but all I felt was joy and a contentedness to simply continue. I have so much gratitude for this journey. For those who helped me in England, to the sacred sites and the ancestors, and to everyone who has been a part of the journey in Australia. What a wonderful thing we have created together. I felt as though you were all with me there in the symbol of that water bottle. We are here. Australian Druidry is a wonderful community of people and I am so proud to have played a part in helping us come together.