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Hymn to the Wild Side on Sunday

On Sundays I used to go to church. This was chiefly because my dad was the organist and choirmaster and so there was no choice. Only when I was about fourteen did I decide I wouldn’t go any more and my relationship with church has never got over this schism. I say I am a Pagan but that too is sticking a little label on spirituality and anyone who trawls the internet knows that there are as many factions in the Pagan community as there are in all the other religions. So rip the little label off.

Instead of a service and the Nicene Creed being incanted I prefer a Sunday to include a walk on the wild side. I’m being kind there, nothing was ever as impassioned and filled with meaning as an incantation. Drone was the usual tone, the sound of people repeating words without thinking about those words. In my kind of spirituality the words come, they aren’t given to you to learn by rote, they arrive in your head under a heavy grey sky, or by a rushing river. They are the words the birds are singing with all their violence and fear and flight. The words are the crunch of the dirt path under your foot as you cut up the valley, the rolling of small stones, the whispered breath of the wind in the trees or the grasses. The words are three hares at a field’s edge at Barbury Castle, myself and my husband picnicking in the trees, holding our breath at the secret spectacle.

One thing in favour of church; I always liked singing. The word Hymn is one of my favourite in the English language because it is so odd in its construction. I like the idea of a song becoming more than a song, something to carry bigger feelings and therefore we invented the word Hymn to cover it.

Give it to the blackbird to sing.

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