The Community Bardic Exercise Revisited: Body, Land, Tribe Poetry by Kate Brunner

katebrunnerqueenanneslaceTwo years ago, I hosted a Devotional Poetry themed Community Bardic Exercise which turned out to be heaps of beautiful, inspiration-filled fun. Inspired by Elizabeth’s latest post, I’d like to revisit this venture today. Consider this an invitation, an opportunity, or a challenge, but however you consider it, please let yourself play!

Various British Isles-based Celtic traditions refer to poetic inspiration with different terminology. Welsh tradition speaks of Awen– the fiery spark of inspiration & revelation. Irish tradition tells of the illumination of Imbas– a very similar concept. It is this spark I invite you to dance with this week. Set aside the acute issues of the day. Breathe in the cooling autumn air & use this spark of Awen to kindle within you the flame of holy creativity.

Our exercise will be simple in nature, yet challenging in practice. I invite you to write one poem per day for the next seven days about whatever animates your spiritual connection to your Body, your Land, or your Tribe that day in whatever poetic format the words emerge. Your goal for the next seven days is to let loose a little- allow that Celtic “fire in the head” to take you. Step into the creative flow and allow your Bardic Soul to speak.

What we will not be going for is perfect, publication-ready material. I know whenever I undertake something like this, I have to remind myself of that. And I have to muzzle that horribly devious little creature known as my Inner Critic in order for my inherently courageous Bardic Soul to sing freely.

Look for divine poetic inspiration in any and everything around you during the next week. Step with intention through your days.

How are you mindfully & wholeheartedly connecting with the somatic spirituality of your Body?
How do you feel into the sacred nature of the Land beneath your feet?
How does your spiritual Tribe nourish and support the divinity of your lived experience?

As you answer these questions with poetry, dance with language- FEEL it move you! Do not bludgeon yourself with repeated editing. Write, share, and then be brave enough to let it be.

If you’re having a hard time getting started, try picking just one of these questions for the week. Or pick a particular form of poetry that feels comfortable enough to get started within. Try telling yourself something like “I’m going to write about my toes this week,” or “I’m going to write haiku this week.”  Sometimes giving yourself a bit of structure will open the way. HOWEVER– give yourself permission to deviate from that structure if you find yourself moved to over the course of this exercise.

The Cauldron of Ceridwen by Katherine Sunderland

The Cauldron of Ceridwen by Katherine Sunderland

Also– it is perfectly ok if you write a poem and hate it or think it’s awful. Sometimes we have to move through the awful to get to the other side– it can be a vital part of the creative journey. If you’ve ever read Julia Cameron, this is the idea behind her Morning Pages exercise. Sometimes we have to get that stuff out first, like skimming the broth of our Creative Cauldron as we distill the Awen.

If you write a poem and hear yourself saying something like “This is: (insert self-degrading adjective here- horrid, cheesy, garbage, etc.)” try repeating the following mantra “(Insert the same adjective here) is creative too.” a few times. Then let go, get a good night’s rest and move on to tomorrow’s poem.

I invite you to please feel free to post your poems here on this post each day for the next seven days. I will share my work too as my schedule allows! I like doing this because it keeps me accountable for my work during the exercise. I also like the perspective it gives me on the poem. Sometimes after posting it, I see something in it I did not see before. All readers are welcome to contribute, whatever their personal faith tradition. I also encourage you to feel free to share your thoughts, frustrations, creative processes, etc. here too.  Ask for support, encourage each other as we engage the spark of inspiration together.

Let the creative word romp begin!


Kate M. Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a resident of Heartwood Cohousing in Bayfield, Colorado & a homeschooling mother to her three children. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate is a presenter for Red Tents & women’s retreats. She also hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, priestesses labyrinth rituals, and facilitates workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. During 2016, she presented at the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Conference in Boston, MA, at the SOA’s first open online conference, AvaCon 2016, & at the inaugural Ninefold Festival in Orange, CT. She is also published in Flower Face: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Blodeuwedd and The Goddess in America: The Divine Feminine in Cultural Context.

Categories: Body, Community, Mother Earth, Poetry, Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Dear Kate,

    Thanks for your interetsing post. I have just been travelling in Wales and enjoying the history. By coincidence I have been doing something similar to what you suggest in your post. This year I joined a group of poets posting poems daily for a year (some visit for a month but about ten of us are in for the long haul). I’m now at 287. It’s been an interesting experience and the shift in my approach has changed a lot and it is easier to write now than at the beginning when I fretted about whether it was good enough. Of course, one can see the range, some don’t sing much but there are enough that surprise you which you’d never have written if you were not engaging in this daily practice. The range of content and style is interesting too, it might be something inspired by nature,a mythic story or simply a reflection of something thta occurred during the day.


    • 287! That is fabulous! Blessings & best wishes on the next 78 or so as you finish the year.

      I love Wales. My tradition has many locations there we hold sacred. I was blessed to spend time there a couple of years ago & I hope to go back again in the future.


      • Here is one I wrote some months back, inspired I think by a blog I read on Feminism and Religion:
        dance the trata

        dance dance dance
        dance the trata in your
        red white and black garb
        dive down dive down
        dive underground

        dance dance dance
        dance the trata
        for bread and pomegranate

        dance as did the women
        all those millennia ago
        who remain still
        on the tomb
        of the dancing women

        dance a zigzag
        dance the weave of a basket
        dance the stars and spirals

        enter the labyrinth
        with the young ones leading
        dance as if your life depends
        on the dance

        sing with the old ones
        sing out your strong voices
        voices that hold the world
        sing like swallows
        twittering to bring spring

        dance dance dance
        sing sing sing
        dance the trata
        sing the spring

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I am inspired. Have never written a poem about my toes, here goes right now! I will be traveling the next few days, so this is my best opportunity

    A man whose love I refused
    (or maybe he was just a book)
    spent his fury on my toes
    he said they were ugly
    years later when he heard
    i was about to marry
    he sent me a drawing
    of my ugly toes.

    I had never wondered before
    his pronouncement, whether
    what adjective I would choose
    for my toes that even now
    seem so far away. I forget
    to clip my toenails, I don’t paint them
    I have never had a pedicure
    poor toes, poor sturdy faithful toes.

    I am taking off my socks
    to take a look. My big toes
    are big! My second toes
    are longer than the first
    they are quite elegant, I think
    my third toes are perfectly straight
    my fourth and fifth curl together slightly,
    like my cat and his late beloved brother.

    I love my toes, they have taken me
    a long way, they help me reach
    things on high shelves
    I wonder if that man (who was
    such a little boy) remembers
    his revulsion for what he called my ugly toes,
    I did not contradict him then. I will now
    My toes are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I wrote toes as a suggestion it was late & I just tossed it in there. But now, I think I’ll write a toe poem too. Perhaps tomorrow. It fits very nicely in with my current radical self care regimen, which is a hot cup of tea & Terry Tempest Williams’ Finding Beauty in a Broken World. Thank you for sharing your toes & your poetry!


  3. Thank you, Kate. Should have at least proof read. I see I wrote book when I meant boy. Ah well. Great exercise


  4. Cozy warm bed covers

    Holding me hostage in my dim room

    Tuck in and enjoy

    Autumn Haiku?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here’s my Day 1 contribution.
    If sorrow comes calling,
    meet him under
    an autumn aspen.

    And wait
    for the frost-tinged
    breeze to blow through.

    I dare you both
    not to pick your heads
    up and smile

    as radiant Magic rains
    its golden gifts
    down on you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Triumvirat cupide,
    Vaniteux Messieurs
    Qui tirez
    Nos marrons
    Du feu,
    De la lumière
    De la Divine Emilie,
    Prenez garde!
    Notre triomphant
    Embrasé par Bologne
    Va, via Brocéliande,
    Vous foudroyer
    Dans la Ville de la Lune
    Que vous profanez.


  7. Reblogged this on writingontherim and commented:
    An inspiration to write a poem every day for seven days, release negativity, be yourself no matter what other say or do.


  8. Hi Kate —

    I was VERY busy with my book when you blogged. What a wonderful idea. I think I’ll share it with my Sacred Earth Chalice group at First Unitarian. thanks!


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