winter's quiet threshold

A line of honey light through the grey, and so dawn broke on equinox morning. Now in the south comes the wolf half of the year. The Lady tends her fire, which is the hearth and heart of all the world, the oven that gently kindles seeds and dreams, while outside the wild lord storms. She needs his storms, or else her fire would be overheating. He needs her fire to give him purpose. Today, they kiss at the threshold. Tomorrow they dance until the sky is the colour of owl wings and embers, and our hearts are awakened to the cosier, quieter, aspects of love.

Take a feather from her long brown hair. Take a breath from his barefooted laugh. Clean your pantry, refresh your children's craft supplies, organise your soft blankets. This is the season of the inward breath, the time to care deeply for home - your home of walls and windows, your heart that is your home, the hearts of other people, and the concerns of the homeless. It's time to think about what you will lay on your own hearthfire, and what you will break away, clear away, with your own wise storms.

Where ever you are in the world, may you blessed be with all the light and darkness you need, and all the love possible.



And for those of you celebrating the spring equinox in the north, here is a beautiful poem by the magnificent Jacqueline Durban.

when you don't love yourself

In the gently singing dark of early morning, with stars still flecking the long cold sky, I drink tea and imagine the quiet season to come. One of my favourite things about winter is that there are no cicadas. I do not like them. I was raised in forests where their sound was relentless, riotous. I can never quite ignore it. And yet, as I listen now, I do appreciate the trembling loveliness, and how it gives a kind of structure in the lightlessness to my little garden. Without that cicada song, I might easily believe the world falls away from my windows, leaving only dark sky and dreams. Such is the vulnerability of an autumn morning. Such is its enchantment.

Have you ever been told that no one will love you until you love yourself? I imagine so; it seems a common thing to say. But it's also a cruel and condemning thing. Someone who struggles to love themselves may then utterly resent themselves for the weakness that supposedly keeps them from being loved. They may believe their fragility and low self esteem make them ineligible for love. They might not believe it when it's offered to them. And so they go on in loneliness and pain.

But that's not how it is at all. True love is a response to a true heart. It takes all the fragile pieces and holds them close. It sings in the dark. If love required high self esteem from its every object, no one would ever have it, because we are, most of us, uncertain. I believe this idea that we must love ourselves first is a manifestation of our culture's current cult of the individual. It is dangerous and mean, because it keeps us from relationships with others.

If you are struggling with self-love, may I suggest you ease away from that, and instead go out into the world to love others? Be kind to strangers. Take care of small animals. Have a conversation with someone who looks lonely. Do charity work. Love is not about ourselves. It's about how we are with others. It's a doing thing.


wandering, scattering seeds and flowers

This is the last week for the Suburban Magic series, and I'm grateful for all your support. (You can still subscribe even now, and once it's finished you will be able to get the whole package of six issues as one.) It's been more time consuming than I expected, and I'm rather looking forward to returning to the quiet, gentle work of novel writing!

Because I've been so focussed on the essays, I haven't been able to write much here. So as a filler, here are some links to my other places and also to some posts I've published before.

I'm writing sort-of-poetry on instagram.

I'm on twitter, where people seem to like this tweet today : If all shy, soulful young women who dreamed of becoming writers for a living actually could do that, imagine the library we would have. (Some people have asked why they can't. I suspect those are people who have never had to deal with the behemoth that is the publishing industry, and for whom one rejection letter may be a crushing blow - even if they get so far through their shyness and sensitivity, not to mention the dissuasion of other people. And then there's the difficulty of actually making a living from writing, especially if you want to remain true to yourself and write shy, soulful things.)

Knitting the Wind also has a facebook page, where you will mostly find links. 

How to write poetically consistently remains my most popular post.

The wild ways of stone and soul is a post about my summer home.

The dark heart of summer. I love Catherine Hyde's paintings in this post.

If you click sampler in the sidebar, it will lead you to a selection of other posts.





wild-smiled men and butterfly girls

A cup of tea, rain against my window; this is a perfect Sunday morning. I could happily sit for hours, warm and cosy on my sofa, and dream of faeries ... which is just as well since that is what I have to do, for the composing of Suburban Magic. Someone said to me the other day the wisest thing I've ever heard - you have to grow roots before you can grow branches. That's certainly true in life, but I've found it true also when writing. I now never sit down to a manuscript without having spent some time browsing beautiful imagery, preparing my mind and heart.


I hope you are having your own perfect kind of day. 


The moon children are walking suburban streets, half-lost amongst our ordinary. You think you don't see them, but really they are nothing like ordinary, and you simply don't understand what you are noticing. The old odd hat. The eyes like gold. They try but they don't get it quite right. They are otherwordly, ancient story. They traipse that story through our lives and leave us glints of wild enchanted poetry.



Wildlings 

17 pages

Preface

1. The Old Woman of Winter
2. Tinker, Trickster, King
3. The Weeping Woman
4. Dreaming of Wings

ghost dreams and lost music

Now is an inbetween moment, as the day becomes night and storm dissolves the quiet sky. Soon rain will begin falling; soon, unseen behind the clouds, will be starlight. I am sitting in the dark, waiting, and dreaming of French music hidden behind a stack of books, unheard until it was too late - Satie's lonely music, inspired by city rain falling from wider, colder skies than my own.

I love how he had so much silence between his songs. And I love the same thing in people's lives. The faded hopes and unwritten poems. Just because they weren't played out in sound, in muscle and bone, doesn't mean they didn't have a kind of life of their own. They are ghost dreams. Transparencies. Like light falling through a window : not everything is meant to be held. We need silences as much as music in order to be whole.

the shy woman

Just because she is shy doesn't mean she's not skilled at what she does, nor that she lacks respect for her own skill. It only means she finds it hard to talk about herself.

Just because she is shy doesn't mean she considers herself less than you. Nor that she has little to talk about. She has walked some of the roads ahead of you; she is an interesting shadow behind the firelight, a story of old moss and gold. Just because she is shy doesn't mean she's insensitive to your condescension.

And just because she is shy doesn't mean she wants to hide her light, only that she prefers the calm beauty of shining like a candle rather than a torch, illuminating a small and quiet dark.



Yesterday was International Women's Day here, today the north is celebrating it. This post is dedicated to the quiet women who deserve celebration just as much as the bold and famous. 


from the wild edge of the world

On a dark and rainy morning, I am writing by candlelight. Such a small and sacred light, while outside the world sings its oldest, most loveliest song - the coming home of the oceans and secret waters of the hills. Rain more than anything else, even more than the cliche of the sunrise, reminds me how we live inside a love story.

For over ten years now I have been writing from the edge of the world. It means two things - where I live, and what speaks through me. Mornings like this, the edge seems to dissolve into its own magic. All becomes water and broken stone. I find myself unable to write with even one ounce of poetry: I think I too have dissolved. Into peace, into love, into the old wild magic that dwells just on the other side of the edge, and slips through these quiet rain-drenched mornings when islands become dark moons and the moon itself becomes memory. But I guess there is no need to write poetry when you are sitting heart-deep within it. For then the conversation between you and wild magic, moons and falling oceans, can become truly intimate.

gentle & brave

I read often these days about women who are power-brokers, and women who are healers; strong women, courageous. And I think of how many of that kind I know myself.

I know women whose skin scrapes against the luminous skin of the world, and so it takes courage for them to go out of their house unshawled, barefaced, to where the crowds and the cars roughen the world's skin too.

I know women whose power is the gentling of small worried hearts, and negotiating playground treaties, and creating the greatest enterprises of all - human beings.

I know women who heal others through the food they make them, the moonlit stories they tell them, the quiet hand they lay so very softly on their arm, easing them into peace.

Courage is not always a battlestorm. It can be as simple as a smile, as quiet as slipping a poem into your social media feed. It can be holding the stillness in the darkness, holding the calm so other people feel safe enough to fear.

Courage can be daring to be gentle. How many women have the courage to show the world they are not so much skin but the memory of owl feathers, or the constellations of old quiet words, or what the tide tenderly left behind when it withdrew back into magic?


I wish I was an artist, for I would love to make a badge : gentle & brave. And I would love to wear it, display it on my website, so other women knew.

Knew that I knew that was what they were too.

in the house of memory and dream

Once an old woman lived in this little brick cottage by the sea. I don't know if she loved it here, but her children certainly now love it for her sake, and I can feel that love settled into the walls and making the carpet soft. I've wanted to modernise, but it never quite works: the old woman spirit requires cozy furnishings, perfume instead of fragrant smoke. So I've tried the opposite, to make it more vintage (surely prefered by an old ghost?) but that doesn't work either. I'm welcome here, but I think the house lives deep in memories I don't share. And oddly enough, it's not too keen on books. I bring them out, stack them on shelves, and within a month they find their way back into cupboards.
 

This week's issue of Suburban Magic is all about domestic magics. I hope you have been enjoying the series so far; remember, you can subscribe at any time.


Households

19 pages

Preface
1. The Monster in the Cupboard
2. Sorrow for Anne Frank
3. Under the Elm Trees
4. Shop Spirits
5. Feral Spirits in Forgotten Houses
6. After The Old Weeping Tree



stella femina

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

Anaïs Nin , The Diary of Anaïs Nin Vol. 4 (1971)

women in the morning shedding their dream skins

Soft, the sky above me, but the east is raw with dawn. Quietness holds the world gently, as if it is made from porcelain. But there is song: low music of cicadas, leaping calls of the small birds. I sit here alone and think of the women drawing themselves out of dark oceans, and what slips from them as they come - perhaps lace and satin; half-forgotten wishes; stars. If they want to survive the long dry day, they must oil themselves. For women aren't meant to go skinless, but the world demands it of them, even while deriding whatever protections they try to give themselves.

Remember that every one you meet is a naked goddess. Be gentle with their courage. Be respectful, and see the primeval waters in their eyes.


(some lovely news: Robert Macfarlane is now on twitter.)