I had the privilege to meet our Founder, Rev. Isaac Bonewits, in person in 2009 when he and I were both competing for the first Wellspring Bardic Chair. The poem and song that I wrote got his attention, because they were modern-sounding but still embraced the ideas that were important to folks in ADF. The poem was an inspirational piece entitled "Awen Rains Down." The song was one I wrote for my grove entitled "Teutates" for the God of the Tribe that we honor every Fall Equinox at our anniversary rite.
When I wrote "Awen Rains Down" in 2008, I had been in a rather lonely place due to some life circumstances that were rather isolating and difficult. It started out as a simple refrain that I wanted to use to teach the folk more about Awen. I fell in love with the concept of Awen, of invoking Awen, after a conversation with a woman who had taken "Awen" as her magical name. During this difficult time, I found myself singing the Awens absent-mindedly, and I wanted to express the comfort and peace that the Kindred had given me through this time. Inspired by a quote MJD had read to me from a source I do not recall, I wanted to write. He said, “In the midst of a crisis of faith, prayer is often the first to go, but this is exactly when you need to pray the most.” This had become almost a mantra and a driving force to continue on in the devotional work I had previously found so enjoyable even though I was lacking in motivation. That day, I sat down and sang the refrain several times with the intent to create verses, and they just fell into place.
When I wrote "Teutates," I was feeling similarly about my grove. They had been a source of strength and healing to me, and I used thematic elements from our Grove poem to create a piece that expressed not only the joy of diversity but also the unity and solidarity that come with being a Crane.
After Wellspring 2009, having lost the Bardic Chair competition, I began immediately to think about the next year's competition. I needed to write three new pieces, song, poem and story, and I needed them to be better than what I had done that year. The story was no problem. I had several already done, and writing fiction has always come easily to me.
The song was almost channeled. I had tried several times to write a song, any song! but to no avail. Being the Members Advocate, I learned through the grapevine via some of ADF's more private lists asking for prayer requests that Isaac was ill. We had no idea how ill at the time, but doing some healing workings for him over the summer had definitely put him in the forefront of my mind. I had recalled the conversations we had about how the bardic arts would be a way for ADF to be a bigger part of the greater Neopagan community, and I wanted to embrace some of that.
It was late August when I began toying with the idea that later became this work. I had just returned home from the Summerland festival, and I was feeling particularly amazing. Post-festival high lasted for a week! My devotional times were highly joyful, and many of my cares had been resolved. I was looking back on the difficulties of the summer, and I was particularly grateful for my patrons, those Deities to whom I had pledged devotion and with whom I had forged a more personal relationship. I made offerings in this mindset and then sat down to write. I wasn’t sure what form the song was taking until after the first draft was down on paper. It was clearly from the vantage of a patron to the devotee, speaking on behalf of the Kindred.
There were only a few edits, two deliberately done with Isaac in mind. In the second verse, I included “*ghosti,” and in the third verse, I included “mana.” These two concepts are the very crux of what ADF intends to bring into the lives of the folk, and I wanted to show that the Kindred want us to have them, too. This song, though finalized in tune and word, is still showing me the power of music.
So Lean on Me
Before me once more, your heart in your hand
Asking for help with something you don’t understand
Listen to me, Child, I need you to know
Not all things you strive for will help you to grow
By Oath-bound assertion we keep you on your path and
We’re right here to guide you; we’ve done as you asked.
So Lean on me
Come, take my hand, and Lean on me
I’ll help you stand when
All you’ve planned is just not meant to be.
Lean on me
Your offerings poured were not made in vain
Omen-gifts given and *ghosti still remain
The strength of the bonds between you and your Gods
Will never falter just ‘cause you don’t beat the odds.
By Well and by Fire and by Sacred Tree
Wyrd-bound, you’ll be stronger just wait and see.
For how many years have we been by your side?
How many secrets heard that you’d rather hide?
I know the end you desire, and I can see the means
I’ll carry you through, you need only to lean
Look back on your past, the evidence shows
How often the mana you seek freely flows
We closed a few doors you opened in error
Exchanged mislead interests with something better
We Kindred will guide you in the Elder ways
We’ll walk along side you all of your days
Lean on me (3x)
Lean on me, lean on me