The Storms of Alban Elfed

Sep 21st, 2017 | By | Category: Articles

by Mabh Savage

Druids call this time of year ‘The light of the water’, which, apart from being superbly poetic, is perfect for our British autumn. There is certainly plenty of water; storm Aileen (come on, Aileen! Sorry… sorry…) has hit hard across the country, with 75mph winds and flash floods. I saw evidence of the intense destruction outside a friend’s house a few days ago: a horse chestnut tree had been almost rent in two. A neighbour told us how the noise came as an almighty crack when the tree came down in the middle of the night, narrowly avoiding a parked car. A display of enormous power and perhaps enormous luck, certainly for the owner of the car. Although, he is a fellow Pagan, so maybe he had honoured the right gods that week?

Naming storms is a very Pagan thing we do, isn’t it? It’s not just Thor, or Zeus anymore; not just the wrath or hubris of a single storm god, but the personification of every storm, every weather front; every hurricane. Donald Trump recently commented about Hurricane Harvey, saying Harvey was such an ‘innocent’ name, which he was roundly mocked for (at the time it was a bizarrely irrelevant comment). But it is strange, how we choose these odd, often unassuming names for these great forces of nature. Are we trying to downplay them, in the hope that they will pass us by? Is it a kind of sympathetic magic, like making a tiny poppet of a giant, to bring them down to size?

Even if this could work, I think more notice needs to be taken of the names we are choosing. Harvey means ‘battle worthy’; not really as innocent as one may think, then. Irma, recently battering Barbuda, Florida and the surrounding areas, means entire, or universal. The universal hurricane. Aren’t we just asking for trouble, giving storms names like this?

Closer to home, our very own Aileen means light, or light bearer, bringing us back around to the concept of Alban Elfed: light of the water. Although the equinox (physically the moment where light and dark are as equal as they can be) is a moment of balance, it is also a time of great potential. To pause in the moment of decision; to reflect before stepping forward; these are great, liminal moments in our lives, which contain massive amounts of potential energy. At its most primal, it is the moment we realise that dark is about to start winning. Winter is truly just a breath away, just the briefest turn of the earth. We can shiver and turn from that realisation, or we can embrace it; embrace the dark, and the cold, and the shadowy parts of ourselves, and keep stepping onward regardless.

The sun will turn from the golden, shining face of Lugh to a cold, silver reflection dulled by autumn clouds, seeming more like the moon than a star. The trees will shudder and disrobe, leaving a playful carpet that will eventually rot to become the beginnings of spring. And the light on the water is silver in the storm, blue on the frosty car window, then every colour in the rainbows that inevitably appear after the autumn storms have huffed and puffed themselves out.

Pause, reflect, and keep moving forward. Weather your storms, and keep an eye out for those who may struggle to weather their own.

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