Friday, 20 March 2015

A Strong Day

Today is the Spring Equinox and there was (as I'm sure you're well aware) a solar eclipse.  It's also the new moon in Aries and a 'supermoon' (meaning a full or new moon that's particularly close to the earth on it's orbit).

This is the sun through clouds as it rose this morning.  It was a warmish just-about-to-be-really-truly-spring day. For the first half of the eclipse the clouds here were too thick and there was nothing to see, but as the moon withdrew from between us and the sun you could see this.

Slowly, slowly the sun had mostly disappeared behind the moon until our life-giving orb of golden light became a silvery sliver.  The temperature plummeted (how I love you mighty Sun, how grateful I am for your warmth) and although the birds did not all stop singing as they did in 1999 they did start finding their way to their beds.  It became eerily, magically quiet.

Two stags stood still as trees, watched me watching.

Now, my astrologically minded friends tell me, the sun and the moon are both in Aries - and that is the time for letting go. As the moon cleared the sun it felt as if the slate was being wiped clean, the face of brother sun transformed by sister moon.  As if there has been a letting go on a planetary level - of what I'm not entirely sure but it feels as though on this day; when the day and night are of equal length, and just for a moment the moon out-faced the sun - that the energies of masculine and feminine might be coming into alignment.

From a lunar point of view this year is an extraordinary one.  There is usually only one supermoon approximately every fourteen moons, so not even one each year - this year however we are going to have four! There was one on February 18th, there was one today (the new supermoon), there will be a full supermoon on August the 29th and on September the 28th there will be the closest supermoon of the year and a lunar eclipse and a blood moon! There is also another full lunar eclipse on the 4th of April.

Hold on to your hats!  The times - they are a-changing.  I don't know much about astrology, I don't know what all these queer lunar extravagances mean.  I do know some people born under the sign of Aries - and they are without exception grounded and earth-loving people.  I feel a strange new hope, wriggling it's way up through the soil with spring.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Naming of Things

Recently the latest edition of The Oxford Junior Dictionary was published.  These words (words that are to my way of thinking completely essential to a child's enjoyment of childhood and to an adult's relationship with the world) have been omitted:  Acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow.

In their place we have 'attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.'  A deeply sarcastic Whoopee.  I'm sure the lives of every child in a primary school classroom (for that is the 'target audience' for this dictionary) are deeply enriched by understanding these words in preference to the omitted words. Not.

Language helps us shape our sense of place, it mediates our experience of where we are.  It creates a familiarity that instead of breeding contempt (as the old adage goes) gives us an intimate relationship with the land.  With our land.  How can we deepen into that relationship if we don't even know which words to use, how to name what we see?

According to Wendell Berry "people exploit what they have concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love, and to defend what we love we need a particularising language, for we love what we particularly know."  I certainly love, unendingly and without reserve, the land I know. The place I live, my place.  I have gone on at some length in the past about the value of practices such as 'The Seven Directions of The Warrior' - we need to find our place in our land, whatever and wherever that land may be.  Even if you are surrounded by skyscrapers (and I must admit that I hope for your sake that you are not, or perhaps I mean that I would hope for my sake not to be - if I was) there is still rock, the living bones of the land, underneath the concrete.  There is still sky above you, birds to your left (quite possibly)and maybe even trees behind you.

It is said that the Ancient Ones - the Sacred Ones - live inside trees.  As you may know, not all trees like to be engaged in conversation by humans, but some love it. All knowledge is contained inside the trunks, branches and leaves of trees generally but the really important stuff, the stuff you can only look at while you're in the library - that's in the Oaks.  It is no chance that we call the pages of a book it's leaves.

What are you doing this week?  Have you got time to go and talk to a tree?  I think you should.  I really do.  Go and find a tree in whose presence you feel comfortable.  A tree you can lean your back up against maybe.  Or just one you really like the look of.  There is much this tree can tell you and there is much peacefulness to be found here, listening.

Or maybe you need the tree to listen to you.  Listen they will.  Perhaps with a more compassionate ear than you can find in the busy helter-skelter franticness of many of our daily lives. A tree will listen with the deep listening of one who knows the interconnectedness of all things.  An Oak will listen from the heart of all things, with no judgement.  Try it.

I dare you.