In the Coligny Calendar, the month of Cantlos roughly translates to “song month.” Though plenty of debate still exists over when this month took place (October, November, or May to start), it points out that a significant event took place in the calendar years of several Celtic tribes and groups: the congregation of bards.
In groves and groups all over the world, small bardic gatherings occur to celebrate new works, old works, the mastery of poetry and song, and the entertainment of the people.
The most famous of gatherings occurs in Wales, where it is known as the National Eisteddfod, which literally translates as “a sitting”. Eisteddfod is the largest and oldest of bardic congregations. Every year, bards from all over the surrounding country gather in one place and perform their works, both new and old. They compete for the grand championship of bardic tradition, the Chair of the Bard, the highest honor afforded in the competition. The crowing of the Bard is a major event in the festival. Much of the practices and traditions of today’s Eisteddfod derives from the Celtic/Druidic revival movements of the 19th century in Britain, though there are several smaller eisteddfods in Wales and other countries that had added their own cultural touches to the standard festival events.
In my own reckoning, September seems a good song month, which the the presence of the Word of Skill Moon reinforces. It is time to go back to school, sharpen pencils and uncap pens, open the books and begin to write. September is about the last harvests of your active labors of the body in the light half of the year, and the beginning of the work of the mind for the dark half of the year. Of course, with the last harvest come the recitation of songs and memories of the past summer, a formal good-bye. It is time to gather: to gather yourself together as you step onto the stage, to gather with friends, to gather your harvest.
Funnily enough, I have actually scheduled far more gatherings this month than I think I ever have. I’ve attended a knitting/crocheting meet-up, and have scheduled a hiking one and two more “getting together for coffee and walking in the park” type gatherings. Combined with the bookbinding class due to begin at the latter half of the month, I’m going to be congregating all over Seattle with all sorts of bards, who sing through yarn, book arts, and their lives.
But let’s visit the phrase “A string in a harp” quickly. A single-stringed harp, while making a pleasant sound, cannot encompass the full repetoire of songs that exist for the harp. It is only in congregation that the note comes to shine, as a beautiful note among other beautiful notes, together creating harmony. Perhaps this is something to keep in my mind to help me feel less nervous about meeting new people and doing new things. When people gather together for a purpose (a class, a beautiful hike, company, whatever) it’s much easier for me to connect, and sing, in my own way.
September is also the beginning of fall, the dark half of the year. Once again, because of school, my body is used to “doing” during the dark half of the year. Summer was a time of sloth, not productivity. The winter has always been more fruitful than the spring or summer. But then I realize that the work I do is not physical work, but mental work. The work of the dark mind, and peering into the murk of your own heart. In college, this became particularly apparent, as the work I was involved in was the making of art, all the time.
This summer has been far more active than any I can remember: traveling, hiking, camping, walking, throwing the tennis ball for the canine and chasing him, playing with my cousin, even swimming. Perhaps it was because I didn’t feel so hot and bored all the time, perhaps it was the change of scenary. Or maybe, perhaps, my body’s rhythms are realigning with the world’s. When it is warm and sunny, when it is summer, I want to be outside, moving, resting, watching, feeling, and being.
But I can already feel fall coming here in the Northwest. Leaves are beginning to fall, the air is cool, and the smells of the wind are wet with damp, rot, and the death of green things (though like Texas, I expect plenty of green to linger through the winter because that’s the way things grow around here). And I find I’m turning to the work of the indoors: I’ll be taking a class on bookbinding, and I’m beginning to crochet more again. I finished my bag for my Shadowscapes tarot, and will be finishing my gloves in time for the winter, in addition to making gifts for Christmas.
I am also feeling the stirrings of inspiration in my heart: I am planning several projects including a shrine for Brighid made from an altered book and a larger sculpture, and have been making more doodles in my sketchbook, and have even begun pondering NaNoWriMo. Additionally, I am revisiting old stories that I put away during my time away from writing, and have been doing some deep reflection on my path and religion in general.
I wonder what this month of songs will hold for me as the world turns grey and I turn inside, physically and mentally. What songs do I have to recite, and what songs do I, the string in the harp, have to give?