There are some books which you just want to sit with, underline, read leisurely, and let sink deeply into your soul. This is one of those books.
Iona Jenkins has led a fascinating life as a Labyrinth Keeper, artist, spiritual seeker (among many other things). In To Sing with Bards and Angels, she delves into her Celtic ancestry as a poet to captivating result. I can deeply connect with her journey as I imagine many others will as well.
This book is filled with Jenkin’s stories of the experiences she has had while walking the spirit pathway. Most notable and the major theme of her book describes her encounters with an ethereal light being she identifies as an angel. Her guide appears in moonlight and its form and words fit within her cultural beliefs as to what an angel is. I love that she notes that she views her guide in this manner because of her own expectations. Her openness in allowing for other interpretations provides a permission structure for anyone reading and/or on their own spirit journey to understand such experiences in their own way whether it be angelic, otherworldly, imaginative, dreamlike, mythic or manifest in this reality.
The personal angel that Jenkins connects with is a wisdom teacher. Although the wisdom she and her angel guide impart is mostly familiar to anyone walking a spirit path, Jenkin’s elevates it because it is her own story. This makes it unique, powerful and reveals new facets and ways of working with them. There was one specific teaching at the beginning of the book that had me laughing. Jenkin’s angel reminds her that “Impatience speeds time up, and patience slows it down.” (pg 7) Thank you angel for the reminder that I, too, must focus on being more patient.
Even before the angel appears, Jenkins sets the mood by talking about Oran Mór, which is Gaelic for the Great Song. It also means the Creative Spirit. She also introduces us to the Welch/Cornish/Breton concept of Awen (pronounced: ah-wen) which she defines as Flowing Spirit. You can see both these concepts wending their way around Jenkin’s musings as the foundation and the engine which drives not only her poetic work but also her life. As she describes Awen in her poetic voice, it is Flowing Spirit in action. (pg 3)
Each chapter begins with one of her poems to set the tone. And then each one ends with and practical, meditative suggestions. In this manner, she draws the reader into experiencing their own personal flowing work. And true to the spirit of Awen, she invites each one of us to “dive into your own stream of inspiration, whatever its influences, expressing your creativity though any medium that works best for you.” (pg 17)
One of the things I noted and was inspired by is that the more Jenkins talks to angels and other guides, the more grounded she appears to be on earth. You can see this especially in her relationship to gardens. In chapter 8, titled Wisdom Walking she explores ways to be on the earth with all senses engaged. This is similar to what I call a walkabout or others call meditative of wakeful walking. It also has the earmarks of forest bathing. It is a practice of healing, centering, being present in the lusciousness of a garden or a forest, or even a beach on a moonlit night. Most of all it is beautiful and sings to our human souls.
As you may notice, I love her chapter titles. In one titled, A Garden at the Heart of the Universe she writes: “There is something so magical about gardens and perhaps magic is what happens, when man works in direct cooperation with the Creative Spirit to produce a beautiful living environment, changing color and form in a seasonal kaleidoscope.” (pg 145)
She comes to an understanding that appeals to my feminist heart – that there is always a “Goddess in the Garden.” (pg 163) Her angel tells her, “The Divine Feminine/Goddess meets everyone equally, and exactly where they are, in much the same way as a labyrinth or Chalice Well. She reflects the soul like a mirror, an image of the moon on water. The Goddess, the vegetation and the form of the garden might also look different according to whatever aspect of the feminine is currently flowing through someone’s life.” (pg 160)
Following angelic guidance and finding her deep love of the Goddess in the “Garden at the Heart of the Universe,” Jenkins connects most deeply with her creative fonts or her Flowing Spirit in action. She welcomes us to join her.
This is a book I am sure I will be reading again and again.
A poem that she begins her book with feels like the perfect ending for this review from her first chapter titled A Language of Angels:
Full Moon Meditation
The moon has cast a path of life
across the water straight and true
from shores of Wales to Somerset
in silvered streams of peaceful dreams
a star shines bright in deep night skies
and soft waves breaking on the shore
I hear the surging of Oran Mór,
the Greatest Song that sang them all.
You can purchase To Sing with Bards and Angels click here.
BIO: Iona Jenkins is an author, creative writer, and poet with an MA in Education (Guidance and Counselling) from Brunel University, professional diplomas in Person-Centered Counseling from Metanoia Institute London, Clinical Hypnotherapy then Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy with the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis, London.
Moving from London to the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales brought Iona a more relaxed, creative life. Her long-held dream of sharing a vision of beauty, harmony, peace, and wisdom through creative, mystical writing began to blossom into reality when she won a competition for her first self-published collection of poetry and reflections, followed by descriptive prose showcased in Kindred Spirit Magazine and poems published in various editions of Touchstone.
A passionate interest in personal and spiritual growth spanning many years has inspired Iona’s exploration of Eastern and Western spiritual philosophies and practices, the idea of a language of angels, as a stream of inspiration, creative wisdom, and beauty, flowing through everything, the energies of sacred sites both at home and abroad, and labyrinth walking. After meditating with Tibetan Buddhists in London, then studying mindfulness with Samye Ling Wales and the Mindfulness Association, Iona finally found her spiritual home with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. She is also a Companion of Chalice Well, supporting the Trust’s ethos of “Many Paths One Source.”
Exploring growth and change through her creativity, Iona’s path of art and soul is inspired by angels, wisdom, nature, land, and legend, living by the sea on the south coast of magical Wales.
5 thoughts on “TO SING WITH BARDS AND ANGELS by Iona Jenkins, Book Review by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”
Janet – great review – i especially liked the fact that angel is just one representation of a guide – there are so many.
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Yes, I agree, Sara, that was an idea that really stuck out for me throughout the book.
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Ditto to Sara’s remarks. Sounds like a book I must read. Thanks
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Thank you Judith, well worth the read!