No house stands in isolation, not really. It’s fair to say that most of our homes are situated in streets, within villages, towns or cities. I’ve spent three months settling into our new home, getting into a new routine as well as starting on home improvements, I’ve been nesting big time. Although there is still a lot to do I find myself starting to turn my attention outwards, with the passing of the longest night and the promise of spring on the horizon I’ve been beckoned beyond the confines of these four walls. I had been finding it rather difficult getting my craft practise back to where it was this time last year before the stress of house buying consumed every second of my life. Having never gone through this process before, I assumed that once settled it would be back to normal…How wrong I was!
Anyone who has moved home will appreciate it takes time to learn those ‘unspoken rules’ and those ‘just known’ things we often take for granted, for example who parks their car in which spot, what day the bin men come, what time the postman usually calls, what time the local shops open etc. Spirits have their rules too of course and in the past having lived in the same place for most of my life, my understanding and integration of these rules happened so gradually over the years I never really noticed it happening. I was part of that community. As daft as it sounds, it never occurred to me that I haven’t just moved into a new home but also into a new community and when I say ‘community’ I’m referring to the entire ecology of people, animals, plants and ‘unseen’ spirits. I’m talking about place.
Three months in, we’ve barely exchanged more than a few passing hello’s with our neighbours, something I’m not used to having come from a very friendly street, perhaps that’s just the way it’s going to be here. The ‘hive mind’ and general atmosphere of the village is very different from what I was expecting and what I’ve been accustomed to. Also living so close to the edge of ancient woodland, historic trackways and relative ‘wilderness’ is palpable on a daily basis, as are is the sound of church bells ringing so clear through the night air, the different bird and animal species visiting my garden, even the soil here is different, even the water tastes and feels different and even the weather is different.
I was naïve to think I could go through one of the most stressful situations of my life, move into a new home AND a new community and everything would just go back to how it was this time last year. The process has naturally changed me, I’ve gained experience and hopefully grown a little wiser in the process but my surroundings have also changed at a fundamental level, I’m now an outsider, an outsider who is trying (admittedly by force on occasion) to put down roots in a new community of spirits (and I include the enfleshed ones too here) who don’t know me from Adam!
Truth be told I wasn’t expecting it to be so drastically different. It is overwhelming and there have been a few occasions when I have regretted the move, found myself missing old friends, old sprits and being so close to those places which held so much power for me. Of course they haven’t gone anywhere and I plan to ‘keep in touch’ but a part of me thinks that would be a bad idea. Like any separation, it can do more harm than good to keep returning to the familiar and the comfortable.
This is an adventure, an exciting opportunity to get to know and eventually become a part of a whole new community with its own history, different rules and mannerisms. I am in effect starting over, embarking on a new leg of a life long journey in a whole new landscape with new places of power to discover and different spirits to encounter.
I open my front door, walk a few minutes down the road through the beautiful village square oozing with history and into the old cemetery with sheep grazing in the shadow of the church spire. In the furthest corner an old decrepit bench slowly decays which I gently perch upon for a while before delivering my offerings to those who reside there. I say “Hello” and I introduce myself as formally as a common lad from out of town can. In these moments the prospect of starting over doesn’t seem so bad, I start to appreciate the power of my situation. As a semi-outsider, to be able to explore ones relationship with place, with spirit and the broader community with a fresh objectivity and renewed focus, to be given the opportunity to adopt a childlike outlook whilst, at the same time having the experience of all that’s gone before to draw on is immensely valuable and rare. It dawns on me just how much we can take for granted.
A wise spirit recently reminded me of the foolishness of nostalgia, we can’t go ‘back’ to or re-live anything, nothing is static, no situation or circumstance can be frozen in time, everything is always moving, always changing, even our memories change and shift with each passing year, the cauldron of fate always bubbles under time’s starry skies. Whilst I do believe that there is often a greater purpose to all things, I haven’t yet discovered why we moved here beyond simply loving the house. All I do know is my craft can’t and never will go back to the way it was before we relocated, maybe that is reason enough!