Author Archives: Gail Kavanagh

G is for Grail, Q is for Quest, R is for Runes

I have spent my days at the Abbey sitting in the orchard with books I have borrowed from the vast library, sharing apples with Tinker and feeling at peace with the world. This is such a beautiful place. A stream runs through the orchard, where I bathe my feet and dip my hands and watch the minnows darting around my fingers.


I have been rereading Arthurian legends, and I also found a couple of books about runes. Runes are fascinating. I like to make my own out of pebbles, clay, crystals – something in these ancient symbols is so mysterious and bewitching.

My favourite is Raido, which means Wagon, and to Ride, and is a general symbol for travel. If I add Raido (R) to my own name, it becomes Grail, and I am indeed a questing soul.

The cup I seek is the Cup of Creativity. Is this the true Grail, from which all things flow, the Cup which holds the secrets of creativity for all who dare to drink from it?

The runic equivalent of G is Gebo, the Gift – the Grail is the Gift, for those who seek it, your own unique gift, for we all have one. To seek the Grail is to seek your gift, your true self. The runic symbol for Gebo is a cross – a kiss, a symbol of faith? The Holy Palmer’s Kiss was exchanged between souls who knew each other as they passed.

A is Ansuz, which means God, Creativity – so as I seek my Gift, as I travel in quest of the Grail, I am seeking God – the wellspring of creative fire.

I is Isa, Ice, a cold little rune frozen in time. Isa is said to be derived from the Germanic word Isan, meaning iron – but it is also the Muslim equivalent of Jesus, and is believed to be the name of a Finnish Goddess. Wherever it came from, in the runic alphabet it means alone, standing still, frozen in time. Sometimes that is just how I feel. I know my quest is often lonely, and I have often felt cold and frightened.

But finally there is L, Laguz, water, flow, the endless flow of creativity, running like water over rocks, flowing like rivers to the boundless ocean…

So when I feel alone I go back to the source, as I have come back to the Abbey. I drink deep of the waters, feel refreshment running through my tired body and mind, listen to the voices of my companions rippling like water over river stones, and know that I am not alone anymore on my quest. As the minnows gather around my hands, I remember that others have gathered here as well, seeking the Grail, as I have done.

In my cupped hand, the water sparkles…perhaps I had the Grail all along.

To the Abbey with my jar of seeds…


After a far too eventful start to the new year, I have decided to jump ship and take up residence at the Abbey for a while. I have been missing my horse Tinker and my caravan, and the feeling of living within the embrace of nature. Lorenzo, the Gypsy King, sensing my need for renewal, sent me a message – by some alchemy of Gypsy magic (or just a boat and few hefty gypsies to row it) he has transported Tinker and the caravan back to the apple orchard at the Abbey, and suggested I sojourn there for a while.

So here I am, sitting under the apple trees and contemplating the germinator jar I found at a bazaar on White Owl Island. What is a germinator jar, you ask? Well, I love munching on sprouts and the jar is for growing sprouts to munch on, from mung beans and the like. It’s just the right size for my tiny caravan kitchen. But contemplating the jar and what it does – germinates seeds just enough to make them fresh and green and lovely for munching, packed with vitamins and goodness – has set me pondering the nature of creativity and what I can do to renew the childlike joy of creativity that just takes pleasure in making something free and beautiful.

This has been bugging me for a while. My daughter Lana loves to cook, and for a while she worked in a kitchen and considered making it her career. But then she abruptly stopped,because, she said, making her creative pleasure her work took all the pleasure out of it – and the creativity. She wanted to go on enjoying pottering around her own kitchen with the same joy she had known as a child, learning to cook at home. So she chose another career, and enjoys cooking for family and friends.

Some people, of course, can meld work and creativity with consummate skill, but in my experience, I found that working as a writer robs me of some of that simple childlike pleasure. Having to think of deadlines, having to trim my prose to suit editorial requirements, having to worry about writing enough and well enough to pay the bills – it’s a business, and even in times not as economically stressed as this, it makes creative joy a low priority.

I left a good many seeds scattered about and forgot about them as I scrambled to `justify’ my writing passion by making money from it. Now I see that I need to gather these seeds up and put them in my own creative germinator jar and see what they grow into. I need to get away from the business of writing and back to the childlike joy of simply creating, for no other reason than that I can, and that nothing crucial hangs on the outcome – and for that sense of freedom I need my little caravan, the apple orchard, and Tinker’s warm muzzle pressing into my palm (he likes sprouts as much as he likes apples).

So here I am, and while I am putting mung beans into the glass jar, I am going to be germinating some seeds in my creative jar as well. A little bit of alchemy with sprouts on the side.