This piece is somewhere between a chant, and a shanty. I wrote it with the intention of finding something it would be easy for people to pick up and join in with, and having tested it – this is so! It also tolerates harmonies, which is good for group singing.
My son James is singing the melody line, I’m singing harmony, as is my husband Tom. I don’t always look quite this tired!
Although there aren’t many words, those words are loaded with implications, so here’s a quick breakdown.
The drops of inspiration come from the cauldron of Cerridwen in Taliesin’s myth. The three drops confer knowledge, insight and magical gifts. In the Taliesin story, the young boy Gwion is set on a transformative journey to become a great poet, by the three drops, imbibing a magic that was not intended for him.
Into the forest… because Druidry is so much about trees, so you can think about ogham, Druid groves, and the such. Druidry is sometimes described as being like a vast forest through which we make our own journeys.
Fire in my head – a reference to Yeats going into the hazel wood with a fire in his head. This image has been absorbed into modern Druidry as a symbol of being inspired, having the poetical fire burning in your head (Taliesin has a shining brow). This is the Awen at work.
Drink from the cauldron – we’re back to Cerridwen again, brewing inspiration in a cauldron, although magical and transformative cauldrons and cups crop up in lots of stories.
Salmon in the well – another inspiration story in which nine hazels grow around a sacred well, dropping nuts which the salmon eat, and the salmon become super-wise, so eating a salmon from there will bring you great gifts. There’s a parallel story to Taliesin of a young man cooking a salmon for someone else and getting the hot fat on his hand, and all the wisdom of the salmon goes to him. I suspect this is why Yeats was going to the hazel wood.