The King of Distractions

He came into my life around 2012 when I started this blog and joined the strange world of the blogosphere. His presence was invisible at first and it took me a few years to perceive his influence. I started this blog to share inspiration and find and connect with like-minded people and I succeeded in those aims. Only I found that during that process ‘something’ had gained power over me. I was not only reading what inspired me and felt important but trying to keep up with every last thing on the blogosphere, on social media, not wanting to miss out or get left behind.

In 2015 when I was doing my best to fit the mould of being a politically-engaged Pagan there were days when I did nothing but scroll the internet for information to make the right replies on blogs and Facebook and Twitter feeds. 

Around that time there were some really nasty arguments between right and left-wing polytheists that led to the breakdown of the polytheist movement. It was a horrible thing to see and this, on top of being burnt out from having forced myself into activism, led me to stop blogging and abandon social media.

I went to Wales. I had some experiences with Gods and giants. I came back. 

Since then I have been more mindful of my internet use and how it uses me. After a couple of brief flirtations I have abandoned Facebook and Twitter. I follow only blogs that inspire me. I steer clear of arguments. I limit my engagements to old-fashioned forums at the Monastery of Annwn and The Cloister.

Yet still I’m distracted which I find to be a terrible irony for a nun of Annwn, one who is devoted to the Gods of the Deep, is writing a book called ‘in the Deep.’ When I need a break or when I get stuck I’m tempted to check my emails or look at a blog, then one thing leads to another and I’ve lost half an hour. 

The problem of attention theft, of stolen focus, and the resulting atrophy of our deep work muscles is something we have been working with at the Way of the Buzzard Mystery School* and has been picked up on by fellow Polytheist Monastic Danica Swanson.**

Since then reclaiming my attention and retraining my deep work muscles has been a large part of my personal spiritual development as a nun of Annwn. But it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot of resistance to keeping my focus on one thing at a time, whether it is meditation, writing, gardening, running or a gym work out. I’ve had a lot of minor things go wrong recently from personal and family health issues to a stolen bike and a troublesome member at the monastery. I’ve used them as excuses for letting distractions have their way.

In spite of my best efforts I have been struggling to focus on one thing at a time to the point I have felt that ‘something’ is actively stealing my attention.

Returning to look at the Way of the Buzzard journey circle in January 2022 ‘Reclaim your Attention’ last night I noticed the intention was to journey on ‘what is getting in the way of your attention?’ I intended to do so this morning but instead woke up with the answer – ‘the King of Distractions.’

Having dreamt a couple of days ago about our house being burgled and linking this to the man of enormous stature with a huge hamper who stole food and drink from Lludd in Lludd ac Llefelys I realised I had found the culprit. 

I then had the gnosis that the King of Distractions has been here, not only in my house, but in my very room since I started blogging. He has been sitting beside me, stealing my attention and focus away from the things that really matter, putting them into his huge hamper, filling it full, as my mind grows weak. 

(‘And nothing amazed Lludd more than that so much could fit into that hamper!’)

He’s been following me about taking my mind from nature on a walk, bike ride, or run, from what I’m doing with my body at the gym. He’s been next to me when I sleep, waking me up with distractions, robbing me of my dreams. 

It thus seems meaningful that Lludd/Nudd/Nodens, God of Dreams, defeats this man and that his identity has been revealed to me by sleeping and dreaming.

In Lludd ac Llefelys the man achieves his theft by sending everyone to sleep. As the King of Distractions he makes himself invisible by putting us into a sleep-like trance in which we are barely aware of what we’re doing as we flick onto our emails or onto the internet and begin scrolling from this to that.

On Nos Galan Mai Lludd manages to defeat the man by immersing himself in a tub of cold water every time sleep comes upon him. He then confronts him in a violent battle in which sparks fly from their weapons, throws him to the ground, and demands that all his losses are restored and the man becomes his vassal. 

Whilst immersing myself in a tub of cold water every time I’m distracted isn’t very practical it could serve as a good visualisation aid against the King of Distractions. As could visualising beating him off, sparks flying, forcing him to give back what is in his hamper and putting him in his place. 

An additional tactic is to put up some defences. Thus I’ve drawn up a schedule in which I’ve restricted my internet usage to checking emails once a day in the late afternoon when my other work is complete and limiting catching up on blogs and reading articles online to Saturdays.

I’m hoping this will help me reclaim my focus and strengthen my deep work muscles so I can make better progress with ‘In the Deep’ and my spiritual practices.

*Nicola at the Way of the Buzzard blogs about stolen focus in her post ‘Attention’ HERE.
****Danica Swanson proposes ‘Creative Incubation’ as a remedy for stolen focus and the atrophy of deep work muscles HERE.

Fragments of Annwn – Fallings

The Broken Harp

My nerves are timbres.

Taut and tense the ganglia
no longer relay the music.

Weak, worn, frayed, spent,
the tendrils torn and stretched
from the strings of a harp.

Like broken bowstrings
they sting and twitch.

On the empty frame
the ‘devils’ of Annwn sit
and mock and chatter.

I cannot take my eyes
from their neat little fangs
and paper-like origami wings.

I cannot shut out their voices,
low, high, squeaking in the wind,
fat with my stolen melodies,

for I am strangely in love
with my distractions.

I court them feed them daily.

I have become their instrument.

And so I lie broken beneath their claws…

And where is my god? Not the harpist
or the one who taught him but the one who
listens for the song in his eternal hall

where the harp played with no player at all?

Is he still listening? Waiting? For the bow
to be restrung? For the song to be sung? For
the arrow that will pierce his heart fine and true?


The Place Where the Sky is Falling

In the place where the sky is falling and the winged and the wingless ones with it I am galloping. The faster I gallop the faster it falls and the faster they chase me, swishing, swooping, on wings and not on wings (yet still sounding torn and leathery and creaky-jointed), with and without teeth and claws.

As a little experiment I touch a rein, a brief half-halt, steady from a flat-out to a slower gallop. The sky-fall slows, the flight of the ‘devils’ of Annwn who pursue me, the winds of the abyss that drive us all. I slow to a canter, to a trot, to a walk, pull up. The sky is still. The winged and wingless ones hang before me like puppets on strings, immobile in the air, without a single wing-beat. I frown. They frown. I move my left hand. They move to the left. I move my right hand. They move to the right.

“Is this some game?”

An eruption of laughter flows through them, breaking the strange spell. They shift, flap, nudge, jest. Some fly away and others descend to look on this strange phenomenon of an awenydd in Annwn.

“What are you?” I ask. “Are you devils?” For that is what Christians have called them for hundreds of years and they do look like something out of Doré’s woodcuts for Milton’s Paradise Lost. Yet I have a feeling they have existed in the Otherworld before the Christian imposition of Heaven and Hell.

They laugh and shriek and pull their grins wider with their foreclaws like demonic Cheshire cats.


“Fliers,” squeaks one. “Fliers, fliers,” the others echo. “Fliers.” “Clawers.” “Takers.” “We take…” “We take what you feed us.” “We feed.” “We bring the takings.” “We bring what you feed us to the abyss.”

“Cursed, cursed.” “We cannot set down our feet.” “We have no feet.” “We fly between the worlds knowing nothing but taking.” “We even sleep on the wing.” “Ours is the dream-storm over the abyss.”

“What have you taken from me?” I have no wounds but no teeth and no claws leave no mark…

They cackle, grin, smack their lips. “What you fed us.” Their mouths purse like secrets.

“Then you are welcome to it,” I incline my head in acknowledgement, “add it your storm of dreams.”

I depart at a slow walk knowing gratefully in Thisworld I will dismount onto the ground onto two feet.


It’s Easy to Fall

and keep on falling
when there is nothing
to hold on to – no can,
no bottle and its easy

soon empty comfort.

Its gentle guidance
down into oblivion.

(It is an illusion the
abyss has a bottom).

It’s easy to fall
and keep on falling
when you don’t know
how to do anything else.
Because no-one taught you
how to tread empty air.
How to breathe when
there is no oxygen.
How to balance when
there is nothing between
your two empty ears.

How to hear what
when there is nothing
beyond the abyss?

It’s easy to fall
and keep on falling
unless some unexpected
hand reaches out to
shake you from

that free fall before
you wake with a jolt –
upright in your bed.

It’s easy to fall
and keep on falling
before some person
or some god gives

you a task only you
can do. HERE. NOW.
Where there is land to
stand on air to breathe.
Hope on the horizon.


Why These Worries

I do not need unlike the wind that moves the washing?

Why the fear that if they stop I will be nothing
like a lump of a coal in the toe
of a Christmas stocking?

Why do I feel worthless
when I am wanted by a god?

Why do I feel like a failure
when I’ve written three books?

Why does it feel more heroic
to be battling on against these thoughts
when I could let them go to the graveyards
of the winds beneath the towers
from which they were born?

How big a grave for a thought?

How great the work of the gravedigger?

How to engrave the gravestones
with suitable death’s heads?

And if I should let them slip away…
If I should carry them like childhood toys
gifted on Christmas morning then broken by bullies
in cardboard boxes like little coffins (each has a face like my own
like in the fairy funeral and the Fairy King sings
a mournful chant as I lower them in)…

how do I know I will let them rest

and not dig them up like a restless hound?

Come, come, a blast on his horn, come away
from my graveyards and away from mourning.
Spring is here and flowers and hares to chase.
In these sunrise mists a new hunt dawning.


*These poems are based on journeys to Annwn undertaken during the process of giving up alcohol as self-medication for my anxiety (which I began on New Year’s Day). This forced me to stop falling, face my worries, and see them for what they are – distractions from my work as an awenydd devoted to Gwyn.
**The image is Doré’s ‘The Fall of Lucifer’ (courtesy of Wikipedia Commons).