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The Celtic goddess Boann loosed an Otherworldly spring, and lost herself in the flood that came of it…or realized herself in its torrent. She and the spring together became the Boyne river, which flows today as ever it has since then, and Boann herself became the goddess of inspiration.

To seek the Otherworldly spring so boldly, to discover the wisdom of its waters in the hazels that encircle it, the salmon that swim it, to feel in your own five senses the flowing of its five streams, and then to walk round it three times counter-clockwise: this is daring to summon something greater than yourself. The art of inspiration begins with daring, with a willingness to lose oneself in it.

This story comes from a people who made an elaborate science of the nature of poetry and the practice of channeling inspiration. It teaches us to seek deeply where others cannot reach, to approach what is sacred with all we are, but to start first with our own sensory experience. The world is always speaking to us; we do not act alone, and we get nowhere by looking past it. No one listens for us.

It is said the oak tree must have roots sufficient to withstand the lightning strike of inspiration: it’s just as essential to attend to what is near before you seek what is far, or you won’t be ready for it when you find it. But it’s not drudgery. It’s a cultivation of presence through which the world opens up to you. Slowly you see you cannot be alone…the world is always there, always was, always whispering.

Water finds its way around, humbly seeks the lowest places, laughing softly as it goes. There is no stone that is not rounded, no barrier that does not give, and music is made of all it encounters on its way. There is no writer’s block for the one who flows of their own spring, who writes in the company of Boann, who walks with the living world. All that arises is met in dance, all that confronts, drawn into it. And when at last the river flows — who’ll be there to argue?

What about you? Will you listen? How bold will you be when the spring erupts?

Poet; writer of imaginative fiction; lover of works of ancient wisdom and myth, explores the intersection of wisdom, poetry and imagination. Follow @CaelanRowan

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