Monday, 27 October 2014

When Death Comes

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
-Mary Oliver

Here is Honesty, so named because it's seed pods look like shiny silver pennies.  If we are to pay for our passage through the enchantments that lie between this world and the next, this is surely the currency.   

The old year is dying, the first of the autumn storms blew by and took half of the leaves, revealing skeletons like anatomical drawings , hidden things, forgotten vistas.  I could as easily write about how half the leaves are left, the land is still green, the trees are half full, but to me the trees are half empty.

The naked bones of the land are being laid bare, she is becoming stone woman, bone woman, keeper of mysteries and revealer of secrets.

My soul longs for the darkness, for the boundless infinity contained therein, as much as it revels in the green/grey/copper/gold/russet patchwork of the ever changing land.

Halloween is nearly upon us, the leaves turn, the year turns, the veil grows thin - our ancestors await our acknowledgement.

These stones are the remains of an ancient Bronze Age settlement on Shapley Common, near here.  Standing in this place every fibre of my being knows the presence of the ancient ones. I feel their long-gone breath on the back of my neck and hear them whisper a plea - asking for a re-membering of the sacred.

Outside the hut there was a trail of wool leading to an eloquent pattern of bones, (the squeamish should look away now).

It felt very fitting, alongside the visceral feeling of the aliveness of my ancestors, this dead sheep. Everything must die, in its time.  Every thing shall be remembered and the spark of remembering will light the bone fires -  honouring those who have gone before us.  In remembering what has gone- before I ask you to consider what is to come; to see us all in the great river of time and to make a promise to those for whom you may be an ancestor - that we will try our damnedest to leave them a world where there is still beauty and sacredness and a place for the strange two-leggeds who are so dangerously close to making a mess of absolutely everything.
A musical p.s.  

As I was writing this I had  Barrow Song on constant repeat in my head.  It was written by Andy Letcher and performed by his band Telling The Bees (a lovelier bunch of people would be hard to find).  I decided to put it here for you to enjoy and discovered that it is followed by Beautiful on their wonderful first album 'Untie The Wind'. Clearly the thread of my thoughts is common enough.  A third album is underway from Telling The Bees and will be released soon,  I can't wait! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Anatomy of Trees and the pathway down.

The Trees are un-leaving, revealing their anatomy,

leaf by leaf they un-peel summer from branch and twig,

their strong bones begin to appear in the land.

There's a queer dichotomy here as the dark draws nearer but the autumn light is newly falling on the freshly decorated ground. The green tunnels that wind their way round every hillside hereabouts are starting to open outwards into inspiring multicoloured carpets of leaves and nuts, twigs and stems. The hedgerows slowly unveiling their architecture under chilly white skies.

There are chinks appearing in the boundaries that separate this world from the other, the fast approaching darkness of winter is calling us inwards, downwards. The slow spiralling flight of a leaf from sky towards earth always makes me think of 'The Descent of Inanna'; " From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below, From the Great Above the Goddess opened her ear to the Great Below, From the Great Above Inanna opened her ear to the Great Below"

These are strange times when the veil grows thinner and the old Celtic year comes to an end. Samhain approaches; the moon is still awake at lunchtime, owls call in the morning light.

It's time for un-doing, to find the broken threads of myself and follow them down, into the underworld or the unconscious (anywhere there might be wisdom), learn from my own stories, and from those ancestral tales so generously bequeathed us.  For re-weaving something beautiful, powerful and potent from the chaos that it's so easy to become.

It's a time when even the trees have tongues

And here a drop of nectar, for that healing sweetness that the right story brings.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Blackberry Hound

Bumbling across the fields and down the lane, basket in hand in the still warm afternoons of early October has been such a joy. I find myself mooching along with a smile on my face, utterly content.  I feel I would have been very happy to have been born a hunter-gatherer, I like gathering and I'm bizarrely accurate with a bow and arrow, which is odd because I've never had any archery lessons and can hardly throw a ball into a swimming pool I'm such a bad shot.  I digress.

The last of the blackberries have been collected.  We have made blackberry wine and bramble jelly, blackberry crumble, blackberry pie, blackberry vodka and my favourite Hedgerow Jelly. 

Blackberrying has always been one of those things that I do in a dream, not really paying attention necessarily to each and every blackberry, just happy in the hum of the hedgerow.  This year is has been different - firstly there has been competition from unexpected sources!

Daisy has always liked the odd blackberry, she used to wait for us to pick them for her and would delicately snuffle them from our proffered hands.  This year she has been too busy with her head in the hedge herself to worry about us picking them for her, although if there are a good crop but all high up then she will allow us to offer her some.  Mostly she clearly finds the service too slow!

It seems she has become something of a connoisseur, and it is this part of her blackberrying that has changed mine.  She bobs along the hedge, nose delicately sniffing at each blackberry, touching some like a little blessing and pulling others out with her teeth and eating them.  These one's were left - even though they were just the right height for her.  When I  picked them and (of course) tried one, they were bitter.  So I started wondering how she can tell.

The best pickings can be found where she stops to blackberry, and of course it's to do with what you can smell.  Ripe blackberries smell lusciously and richly of blackberry and unripe or over-ripe one's just don't!

 Druid was previously not bothered by fruit of any description but this year Daisy has been so enthusiastic that he's joined in too - just a little bit.

Thank you Blackberry Hound.