Solstice was fast approaching and again, I found myself looking forward to Glastonbury, the gathering and our solstice bonfire. That said: arriving at Paddington Farm was bittersweet this time round as someone special wasn’t going to be with us any more.
On April 8th, our Faerie Tribe lost a unique friend who took us to heart and delighted in our magic and sense of community. As many of you already know, I’m talking of Suki Key who passed unexpectedly from an acute kidney infection. She was an all too youthful 65.
I first met Suki in the camping kitchen at last year’s Solstice Gathering. Having both retired and divorced she had sold her house, somewhere in Lincolnshire I think, and begun a quite remarkable odyssey. She was living in a large bell tent on the Farm’s second camping field (complete with sofas and log burner). At some stage, she was planning to ship out to India, fulfilling her own spiritual quest whilst travelling and doing some charity work.
We initially crossed paths when Suki saw me doing a tarot reading but she became doubly fascinated when she realised I’d designed my own cards. This was our first common ground for Suki’s son was an amazing artist with his own successful design studio. I also discovered the best way to make her face light up with pride was to get her onto the subject of her children.
My experience wasn’t unique. Suki had connected with lots of us during the course of the gathering and I think she loved every minute of our mischief and our colourful sense of fun. She was a tiny, willow like woman who reminded me of children blowing bubbles. Bubbles themselves shimmer and sparkle with an astonishing spectrum of colour yet they are delicate and fragile, vanishing in an instant. They encapsulate all the innocent joy of childhood and that’s why they remind me of her. Suki was that rare combination of age earned wisdom and childlike wonder. God knows how she’d done it but she’d managed to retain her youthful sparkle in a way that most of us can only marvel at, even though we were younger.
She re-appeared at our September gathering. Now lodging in Glastonbury for the winter months, she’d checked our dates and made sure she was back up at the Farm to come and visit us. It was a joy to see her and I still smile when I think back to our long conversation in the Farmhouse living room. Better still, I remember her moving around from person to person, watching their faces light up as she sprinkled her own particular brand of faerie dust around the room.
For all of this, my fondest memories will be of our last meeting at January’s Imbolc gathering. Once again she visited but this time she came laden with foil wrapped packages of gluten free chocolate brownies. She’d known we were coming and had set to baking. India was now looming on the horizon and she wondered if any of us had contacts with aid workers or volunteers heading for Calais. Her bell tent had served its purpose and she wanted it to go to the refugee camp where it would give someone in need a good home. She said she’d return to the farm later that evening, to join us around the fire for some drumming.
Sure enough, as dusk was falling she drove back to the Farm and that small red car, cluttered to overflowing with all things useful (rather like Moominmamma’s handbag) pulled onto the car park and a slightly breathless Suki came looking for volunteers to help her empty the boot. To my incredulity, the boot was stacked high with drums, apparently gifted to her some months previously.
“I’ve always wanted to try these!” she told me with a beaming smile.
Suki’s drum collection was temporarily added to the Faerie drum collection and I sat next to her for the rest of the evening while we let the fire and the rhythm hypnotise us. I was aware of the circle, of friends, of music and of the joy of being alive. I think Suki was too.
She came to say goodbye the following morning, giving many of us sticks of her favourite incense as a parting gift. I still have mine, as something inside wouldn’t let me burn it straight away. I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see her and the incense stick remains on my bookshelf. Sometimes I’ll breathe its fragrance to remind me of her. I may even bring it to a gathering and offer it to the fire as an act of remembrance when I’m ready to let go of it. For now it remains as a reminder of a special spirit who flew briefly into my life and left a trail of sparkle behind her for a short while.
The loss of Suki has reminded me just how important our Faerie friends are. There are many of them, Tanya, Michael, Robert, Leila, Tiffany and Holly at Paddington Farm for instance, who think of us as their favourite visitors. There’s also John Clarke at Featherstone who makes us feel that his home is our home whenever we stay there. These are but to name a few. They may not be directly part of the tribe but they enable us, celebrate us and even love us. We also love them and the loss of one friend has reminded me once more to cherish the others.
Fly away joyfully dear Suki; for I know you’ll light up wherever it is you journey on to. For us, we’ll celebrate you but we also missed seeing you at the Farm this summer.