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Showing posts from June, 2015

the start of the story

We are told most often that, when a heroine's story begins, she finds herself propelled into action, sometimes against her will. But I like to look at it in a different way. I think that, at the beginning, a story opens itself for the heroine. And always she chooses how to respond. Her choices may not be good ones, but after all that's what story is here for - to help her learn better choices, stronger ways of being her true self.

It's not really so helpful to talk about beginnings, though. Nothing is ever new. Every heroine stands always in the residue of what has come before, and it never actually leaves her. Even in the depths of story, when she is facing the dragon in its dreadful lair, she brings with her childhood memories, and things her mother said, and scars from smaller dragons she's met along the way. So a beginning is really just a reforming, perhaps a deepening, of the long tale her soul is telling over and again.

As the story opens, as the world offers it…

a house of wolves and ungentle whispers

There's a landscape the old stories know about but which I seldom see these days in poetry or shared dreaming - the house. Oh, we talk alot about tables and sofas and lovely decorations, don't we? But few of us equate a high, windowed room with hills, or the dark and narrow twist of a staircase through a building's heart with shadowed woods.

Recently I was talking with a friend about our favourite landscapes. Sea, mountain, forest - I had to admit, with a truth long denied, that mine was the large and half-empty house. Perhaps it's because I lived my most important years in a home that was spooked to the bone with wild old hill wind and night secrets. But then I moved to a brand new one with perfect carpet and pale yellow wallpaper - and it too had a depth, a hidden murmuring cave of depth; and a breathless height always full of a white horizon dream; and it had, despite its newness, somehow a long and haunted memory that was as profound and affecting as any ocean on a…

the dream spirit of a story

This morning I lay in bed listening to the rain and reading the last chapter of a beloved book. Just the last chapter, just because. And its sweetness lingered in my heart all day.

But this evening I read some reviews of the book which turned my sweetness bitter. Apparently, anyone who values the book must be unintelligent because it is such a terrible book. Badly plotted, badly written, with shallow characters. Surely, the only reason the book won awards is because the writer herself is popular.

I came away from those reviews feeling foolish for loving the book. But after a while of thinking and sighing, I concluded that my experience of it had been so different from those clever reviewers because I'd read it in a very different way. I'd been completely uninterested in the author's (faulty) research, and I'd skipped most of her (unnecessary) rambles. I loved the book because of what I brought to it.

I personally believe a story belongs first and foremost to its writer…

the prince and the brambles

As you know, I grew up in a big old house deep in forest, reading fairy tales and myths and antique children's books, listening to the tales of the wild ocean wind. So it's not really surprising I guess that my favourite story is what I believe to be one of the oldest and most important stories we tell each other. As a child, I encountered it in Sleeping Beauty especially, but also in many other old stories.

It is the story of a lost princess and the prince who searches desperately to find her. I'm sure Christians understand this story well, and any pagan versed in the old feral tales will likely understand it too. No matter if we lose our consciousness, become lost, become surrounded by brambles, we will be looked for - we will be found - by a prince of peace, a prince of storms, who will always believe in our beauty, our worth. (Of course, the language changes according to your spirituality or science.)

Over the past couple of nights I have been re-reading Connie Willis&…

winter stars on songbirds

I went out in the calm and the quiet today, and I wandered through a little flock of birds who were wearing constellations against the cold. We don't usually get many of their kind in our neighbourhood, so it was nice to be on a hill away from home and glance down to see night wings - only starlings, such ordinary little birds, but who says ordinary things aren't precious?

Like quiet windchimes made from shells through which the sea has washed a hole ...

Like days when you don't do much more than wander about looking at things, loving them.

Like stories that have no amazing cleverness, only good, mindful words in the service of relationship.

Like everyday friends and kind, humble people.

Like home.

And like this short video on how wolves change the environment.

[Today's picture was processed with a Kim Klassen texture]

from the moon to a meadow

Last night I looked out my sea-facing window and saw a half-born moon drawing secret colours from the dark - rainbows, and a haze of gold that looked like love. There was so much sumptuous peace to the scene, I was enchanted although I am long used to moons by now.

When I woke this morning, I could still feel that winter-deep peace in the quiet song of birds and the pale, moon-cold air breathing through my kitchen window. It's the kind of day that makes a person want to go for a picnic in some lovely, wildish place. Then again, maybe I am just influenced by this video, which looks like something out of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

the language of longing

I stood looking out at the distant hill. I did not see the jumble of old suburbia inbetween me and the faraway slant of pine trees. I did not even really see the trees themselves. Just beyond that hill was a pallid ocean. And something else. A memory, a desire, a calling forth or reaching back ...

We need a word for this, I thought at the time. A word for the ache of distances - spacial distances, temporal ones. English is such an earthy, practical, bull-headed language. We have nothing like toska, saudade, hiraeth. No specificities for the beautiful pain of yearning. Ours is a language of farmers and warriors. It does not easily sing us outside of ourselves.

Or perhaps I simply know English too well. With familiarity comes a loss of the spirit of loneliness, and of groping towards something that is at once precise and insubstantial ...

For that matter, do we even have a term for the poignant, dream-inspired groping through silence? For the wish to pinpoint an exact word and yet the f…

the midwife moon

June is my favourite month, for all kinds of reasons. I will always think of it as the month of pearls and roses, even though it is, in my part of the world, more like the month of storms and wild songs.

I call this white winter moon the midwife moon, in honour of the mythic crone who is midwife to the sun, and to a girl's innocence, and also to our own creative imaginations which are seeded in darkness, in dreams. Some time this year I hope very much to tell you more about my schedule of moons and what they mean to me, and how they tell a story.

I'm writing this in the most vulnerable hour of night, its first hour, when darkness lies tenderly over the land and there is a sense of magic waking but not yet afoot - an hour like that before rain, when nature knows what is coming, and seems to hold its breath in wonder and longing. Funnily enough, I always sense this most strongly in the city and suburbs. Perhaps the countryside has a more intimate, comfortable relationship with m…