And Bessie Sang the Wind

by Jacqui Woodward-Smith

“Bessie Millie sold favourable winds to visiting sea captains from her hovel on Brinkies Brae in eighteenth century Stromness...” ('Travellers', George MacKay Brown)

Stromness from the seaOn Brinkies Brae, tumble-stone ocean,
Tips her head to listen deep
Smells the sea spray, breathes her magic
Silent spells her secrets keep

And Bessie Millie sang the ocean
Lured sailors with her siren call
Strong woman with blood pulsing passion
Sang love songs to the sea’s wild squall

On Brinkies Brae, ordinary woman
Weaves baskets with her salt-raw hands
Kisses the spirit of the wild wind
And reads the augurs of the sands

And Bessie Millie sang the ocean
Lured sailors with her siren call
Strong woman with blood pulsing passion
Sang love songs to the sea’s wild squall

On Brinkies Brae they offer pennies
Glint silver like moon on the sea
Wild Bessie, lover of the storm clouds
Would rather set the wild winds free

But Bessie Millie sang the ocean
Lured sailors with her siren call
Strong woman with blood pulsing passion
Sang love songs to the sea’s wild squall

Few would mention Bessie Millie
Few would look and few would see
Strange incantations feared and offered
To those who risk their lives at sea

On Brinkies Brae, tumble stone ocean,
old woman with a bird-bright eye
Sea witch flying with the fulmar
Soul soaring in the sea-spray sky

©Jacqueline Woodward-Smith, (22nd July 2007 – 24th June 2010)

Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Jacqui Woodward-Smith is a Priestess of Avalon, trained in Glastonbury and living in London. She facilitates the group Tribe of Avalon, which meets to connect to and celebrate the ancient British Goddesses through the festivals in the Wheel of the Year and the turning of the moon. She is passionate about connecting to the land as sacred, particularly in London, and about working to heal the wounds to the Sacred Feminine in all of us. She is a writer and a poet and has given many talks in London about the Goddess and the sacred land. She is a director both of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple and of the Southwark Mysteries, a community arts organisation which offers creative ways for people to respond and interact with their inner-city environment. She is also a Pagan Prison Chaplain. She can be contacted at Avalon@pflondon.org
Jacqui Woodward-Smith

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