If you’ve ever wondered how witchcraft is still thriving in our modern world, go and have a read of the first chapter of my new book, Celtic Witchcraft. It’s available to view for free on the Moon Books Blog.
Whilst clearing out my handbag, amidst the tobacco dust and tissues were two of my favourite necklaces, tangled beyond recognition as two separate items. I pulled at the chains gently, but was unsure where to start.
‘This is my life’, I thought, depressively. Yes, tangled and snarled with no way to know which way to go without making the tangle worse. I may have sighed resignedly and put the necklace down, but a spark of determination lit a fire I had forgotten, and my deft fingers found a single chain longer than the others.
Following the links, untwisting and unwinding, I though about my own tangle; the things I want, the things I don’t want and the things I am forced to deal with. My illness, changing my mind into an ocean unnavigable. My ambitions, on hold while I pull at these tangles. So many chains, so many ropes, but each rope is a part of me.
I can be a tangle and still work just fine; I’m a mother, a writer, a singer, a musician, a friend, a lover, a sister, a daughter, a call centre worker, a gaming geek; each of these threads tangles into a ball that should not be daunting but delightful.
The twin tangles of chain are slowly parting, and I think of how I don’t want to feel tangled though; I don’t want to feel lost and tied up without the strong to follow through the labyrinth. The necklaces suddenly part, and I feel a sudden sense of freedom; any of the chains I follow will release me, as they are each a part of me.
Necklaces fixed, mind clearer, day brighter; the tangles are still here, but I think I can work them out.
What an amazing night at Seven Arts last night. Ten poets plus our esteemed Quiet Compare herself, Sarah L Dixon. We had humour, music, dance, sorrow, love and gratitude in an atmosphere of pre-weekend anticipation shared with talented people.
It was truly a smorgasbord; a veritable vernacular buffet. From villanalles to violent outbursts of silent protest, and morris dancing to musings on current events, there was no end to the themes and styles wrought by stylus and pen this night.
In a mad, last minute change of set, I read an excerpt from my book, A Modern Celt, which is interspersed with poetry inspired by Celtic themes. I sandwiched my set between the two halves of Post Hill, a true story set among the gorgeous wilds of this local beauty spot.
There should be some photos up online soon so I’ll link to these as soon as they are available. If you have a Quiet Compere event near you, I highly recommend going along. Whatever your taste, you are bound to find something to whet your wordy appetite.
Sweating stress from a heavy day at the office, as I walk into my garden there is that immediate relief of being enclosed by one’s hearth and home. My little boy is away at his father’s tonight, so there is an itchy emptiness, but the sense that this is my place, my haven is undeniable. As the front door closes the back one is opened, cats dancing delightedly into the sweet summer air. Washing trails lackadaisically in the stillness; rain threatens but the current heat is ideal for the never ending laundry loads. Blackbird, Lon Dubh, guardian at the gate; he calls to the world and the world answers with voice of magpie, blue tit and wren as they vie for dominance from aerials and chimneys. They rarely venture into my little postage stamp of green; the cats have seen to that. But their voices soothe, an avian symphony that connects me to the past; knowing my ancestors would have stopped their own evening chores to listen to the same song.
Once mundane tasks are over (laundry, cat tray and the never ending picking up of toys) I move to my other household tasks of making sure my chosen companions know they are appreciated. It’s a full moon, a time for things coming to fruition, celebrating goals achieved, harvesting both literally and metaphorically. I raise a glass and speak of gratitude for the wonders in my life: my son who amazes and changes me every day; who teaches me patience and understanding; who shows me that everything I do has a consequence and that we are shaped by our ancestors, both immediate and distant; who brings me joy beyond measure. My family and friends, who are more supportive than I could ever have hoped for. Darkness has threatened many times over the past few months, and there has always been someone holding out a torch. We are tribe.
I pour wine to the ground, and wish that the earth, and all of us who care to give back to the earth, may never hunger or thirst. This is a tiny ritual that I have picked up from my group work as part of a coven, but I find it reflects the old folk practice of leaving a portion of your meal out for the fae, or in England, the brownies or similar. In some ways, this is a way of saying ‘I accept that you share this space with us, so I will share my food with you’. In another way, it’s almost a piece of pride; a way of saying ‘I have been productive, and now I have food to spare’. It’s also an offering of friendship and respect.
In this same vein, I pour the vivid red into bowls and cups as offerings for my gods and ancestors. The Morrigan is thanked for the passions reignited in my life. Brigid is thanked for new beginnings and the blessings of family. My ancestors and descendants are honoured and thanked for their unquestionable impact on me; for helping make me the person I am today. Candles are lit and incense makes the air a little heavy, like a warm blanket. It’s time to call to say goodnight to my boy, and friends are arriving soon. This moment of stillness is a gift. I breathe, then move in time and space towards my loved ones.
I know I say I’m furious
But all I want to know
And give excuses
Just be true
Just can’t go wrong
Has always been
A measure of passion
One of common sense
And a huge splash
I know I say I’m furious
But your honesty
Your sad, sad eyes
And simply how
Distraught you seem
To have broken the dream
To have upset the cream-
Don’t cry over it!
Let’s mop it up
And laugh at the mess
I’m only angry for now
Quiet Compere Tour – Leeds – Seven Arts – 27th June
Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere of Manchester, is taking her unique show on the road in 2014. Her tour will visit 12 cities with over 120 poets performing altogether.
The tour brings together a diverse selection of poets of all ages, cultures styles and experience, designed to entice an audience that may have experienced Spoken Word events before. Sarah has been running Spoken Word events under her guise as The Quiet Compere for three years, staging events in her home-town Manchester, Cheltenham and Leeds, the best known of which is Post Box Poets held in Chorlton.
Quiet Compere events are unique. There are no lengthy introductions to poets, no-one is designated as ‘top-of-the-bill’ – all performers considered equal in Sarah’s eyes. Each line-up boasts a varied and diverse mix of poets, ranging from established local poets, some new to the scene who are ready to stun audiences with their talent, plus a generous sprinkling of nationally well-known poets and performers.
Leeds Line-up (tickets £3 http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/54024)
Caleb Skylab Parkin
About Sarah L. Dixon
A piece about Sarah’s wedding in the style of a Post Mortem report was awarded the acpNews First Prize in Journalism 2007. She has been published in The Ugly Tree, Rain Dog, Yorkmix and Cahoodaloodaling. Sarah L Dixon worked for the NHS 17 years before decided to channel her skills and considerable energy into corralling poets into some sort of order. Sarah not only promotes Spoken Word events, but offers regular writing workshops in the North-West, some of which are aimed specifically at hard-pressed parents of young children – of which she herself happens to be one..
Praise for Sarah L. Dixon
“Sarah’s creative energy and enthusiasm are legendary. She encourages and gives a platform to fellow poets. Where would we be without her?”
Carole Bromley, Poet and editor of Yorkmix
”Post Box Poets has a rare and lovely gentleness.”
John Darwin, Host of Write Out Loud, Sale, Manchester
“Sarah L Dixon pulls together a diverse but well-blended group of poets with contrasting styles to create a sparkling evening’s entertainment.
Peter White, Poetry by HEART, Leeds
For more Information please contact Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere at email@example.com Follow on Twitter @QuietCompereMCR or call on 07743685221
Quiet Compere Tour 2014
The Quiet Compere Tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Sarah L Dixon
THE QUIET COMPERE TOUR SCHEDULE 2014
January 31st Manchester
February 28th York
March 21st Birmingham
April 26th Kendal
May 30th Liverpool
June 27th Leeds
July 24th Newcastle
August 22nd Blackpool
September 26th Sheffield
October 26th Lancaster
November 3rd Chester
December 7th Stockport
Another sample track from Laying it Down, the 2012 album released to raise money for University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Want your own copy of 10 unique tracks? Donate £5 to www.justgiving.com/Dagda-Jennifer then message me (either via soundcloud, twitter @mabherick or in the comments) to have your copy sent to you.