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Showing posts from March, 2018

all the days of a dog

Casper first came to us in the pocket of my mother's raincoat. He was a little pale wriggle, a plaintive look. We took him back to the island where he promptly became the sidekick dog. Always there was another more interesting dog who took the lead - leaping gracefully off the wharf into the water while Casper belly-flopped, disappearing mysteriously one day never to be seen again, being quite mad, being sleekly beautiful, stealing all the shoes. Quite a few dogs, when I think about it. Lovely black creatures, shining bright and brief ... and fat blonde Casper. Even the cats were more remarkable than him. Even the temporary chickens.

But you know how these things go. Casper outlasted them all. He got so round and dozy by the end, he could barely walk. I used to sweep him with the broom in lieu of a proper dog brush. I was a kid when he came, an adult living on my own when he left. All those years with two moons in my life - the rock in the sky and that pale round pup.

I hate how s…

remembering wood-witches and poets I used to want to be

I remember the old days, wordpress days, when you could blog like a dream. I had a site once with five columns, like strands of shells and pale driftwood hanging in a window. Everyone was being wayward, creative, finding new trails in the forest, back then. Now we pretty much all do the same thing.

I miss the wood-witches who used wonderful old fonts to write about their wonderful lives. I miss the pebble-voiced earth poets who have no doubt moved on to more interesting things. There were people who had a way of putting together the barest elements and making something special. Now we can buy big, gorgeous, semi-professional if we want. And if we don't want, then we can stay on the fringes with our default templates and old-fashioned ideas and fewer comments.

I remember in particular one young woman who wrote a luminous, slightly disjointed poetry that was so impossible to ignore, I became a poet too out of sheer love for her words. She doesn't do it any more. She still has a …

The Gift of Love

This is a subtle truth: Whatever you love, you are.
- rumi -

The gentling of the year at autumn always brings me back to what I love, cosiness and comfort and the flourish of little cottage flowers in my garden after the long months of drought.  I can finally wear soft layers and lovely big socks. 

I can bring out my blankets, my candles, my teapot, and snuggle into cold starry nights to watch the inexplicable lights that flicker and dance over the ocean; i can settle into the deep peace. I don't like the word hygge, because I have an aversion to all things trendy, but I do adore the idea of it - of comfort, of homey warmth and caretaking. I think if we all prioritised these things in our lives, the world would be a nicer, gentler, more benevolent place. 

And I have a theory that we aren't only what we love, but that the things we love are what our souls see the world needs, and draws us to them so we can be them, make them, give them - our love is who we should be, so the sake…

as above, so below

I am living under cathedral skies. They convert me. By the end of summer my heart has been muted by endless perfect blue, and it's not that I don't believe in the divinity any more, but that my sense of my being part of the goddess-body has dried and crackled away beneath light and heat and peace, and my love for the wild-that-is-god, the trickster-king, is silenced. All I can hear is the fan whirring, making whatever storm I can just so it's possible to breathe through the relentless light and heat and peace.

But now autumn has come. Cold mornings, crowded skies, breezes. It brings back my spirituality with it. The king has transformed his fierce power to something deeper and more poetic. It's almost like he's learning balance. I can bear him now. And I can feel myself revitalising. When something is too much, we can not be enough in response. Coming into balance with each other requires not just being true to ourselves but also, oddly, being slightly less true to…

When You Feel Sorry For Yourself

Self-pity is one of the most reviled emotions in Western culture. I've written before about how sad I find this, I even wrote a story with self-pity as the theme, and I'm going to write about it again, because I think it's something that bears repeating. To have pity for yourself, to grieve for your sorrows, is a good thing. You deserve such care.

To embrace your vulnerability is a good thing. You are entitled to it.

To allow yourself to wish for more, nicer, easier, gentler, is a good thing. You are worth it.

I've never understood why it is laudable to pity others but not ourselves. Nor why grief is only allowed to go so far. Self-pity is a kind of grief. It tells us what we are missing in our lives, what is unfulfilled, what is lost. It is our sad and wishful voice. We need to honour it just the same as we do our determination, anger, instincts - all the other feelings that are somehow considered more acceptable, even though they are often just different ways of expr…

When Things Get Real

We are leaving the balanced moment of the equinox and falling towards a new moon. The sky above me is all bruises and brights. The trees are tarnishing. I accepted today that I had to let go of something I'd been working towards with no progress. I still wish for it, but my life at the moment simply doesn't support the effort. Trying instead to find a new way, I opened my file on the heroine's mythic journey and read about letting go. 

I rediscovered that letting go is spoken of in the season of deepening autumn, the very season unfurling outside my house right now ... the month of April which is almost upon us ... the moon of sparrows. It always makes me smile when I realise yet again that I'm in a long quiet conversation with the blessed universe.

This is the brief description of Sparrow Moon, a late waymarker on the heroine's road ...

Change always brings inner consequences. The heroine must release her old wishes, accepting now that they will not come and the wo…

Old Woman Wisdom

They say women used to be wiser, and I think maybe that's true. I could light a candle and look into its smoke, drum my hands against earth, sing to the moon, and that old woman wisdom would sing and drum back on through my bones. I've done it and I know it's profound. Only, it doesn't help me with the dead cricket in my kitchen sink.

I've always been an introvert, and when I do spend time with others I tend to get on better with men than women. But even I want and need a connection to the communal spirit of womanhood for the sake of empathy, mutuality, relatability. There's really nothing quite like it. Put a few fifty year olds together in a room and watch how quickly the conversation turns to menopause. Sure, you can read about the subject in books and on the internet, but stories of real life experience, shared with laughter, are invaluable not just as information but to feed a woman's sense of belonging, her identity and security within womanhood.

I se…

How To Go Viral

Over the years, I've seen these techniques work, and I'm sure you have too. Success is almost guaranteed - although you might never know about it. Going viral is actually quite easy, and it will cost not a single cent.

Open a door for someone. They might thank you, they might not, but the easing of their way will ease something from their mind, even if they barely notice it, and the next time they come to a door, or a possibility in a conversation, or a moment when they can ease someone else's thoughts, they might very well open it for another person. And that person, eased, may do the same for the next person, and they for the next ...

Say good morning to the bus driver. Say good morning to the check out operator, the ticket dispenser, the woman making your gingerbread latte. Acknowledge other people, let them know in this simple little way that you see them as part of your community. Then notice how the person behind you will say good morning too, and the person behind the…

Be Brave and Gentle With Yourself

I can almost never afford to buy roses, so on days that I need them (and I'm sure many people have days of needing roses) I go to pinterest and look at pictures of them until my mind is full of all things roses. In some ways its better than having them in vases in my house.

Pink roses, white roses: a gentling of my inner vision.

Today I needed that. I had to do something very brave, and I had no alternative because there was no one to help me and the consequences of doing nothing were unacceptable. And so I was brave.

The actual doing was not particularly difficult. For all that I would never make a hardy farm woman, I can be practical when necessary. Where things got most difficult for me was afterwards. I suffer from anxiety, and sometimes the greatest courage comes from having to deal with having been brave. I was mindful to take care of myself, and when anxiety symptoms began arising to remind myself quietly that they were only anxiety symptoms, nothing worse. (One of the bes…

The Old Songs of Imagined Lands

Sometimes a story will continue to whisper to me long after it's written. Usually when that happens I just go back and read it and am calmed. But one that has continued to bother me unappeased for the past couple of years is Aftermark, the story of a peaceweaver bride, told in The Coracle Sky. I've probably told you this already. I tend to be repetitive, I know.

I've been advised that the characters of this story are my least appealing, and perhaps that's right. But it's the two kingdoms I love best anyway. Over the past couple of years I've found myself unintentionally compiling a collection of Erlish folk songs and old poems from the dragon king's library. Copper and roses, fishing boats and swords, war and sunlit dreaming. I've drawn maps in my mind and walked their coastlines, their hedgerows. I miss the wind over the northern moors and the fragrance of the ornate gardens in Celanthwy.

I doubt I'll do anything with this. (For a start, I could ne…

An Enchanted Picnic

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. 
- from Suburban Magic -

I went for a quiet little picnic today. With sandwiches and fruit in my bike basket, as well as a book to read and a book to write in, I rode to a nearby reserve. Halfway there I decided to treat myself to a cherry blossom cake, which is a favourite of mine from childhood. I couldn't really afford it, but sometimes a girl needs cake.

The woman in the cake shop put down a broom to serve me, and although I am rather anxious about germs I chose to smile and say nothing, rather than frown worriedly. There was something gently beautiful in her…

An Evening With the Author

I ate too much ice cream today. I left a woman at the side of a river that might be dangerous or might simply be a river - I haven't decided yet. She's kind of bewildered that I wrote her into shape, gave her a voice and gave her a dark silence, and then just walked away. I might go back. But I've also left a girl in an empty apartment getting shot by a man who loves her, and a girl in a bookshop listening to whales sing in the starlit harbour, and a woman walking a haunted island where she really shouldn't be. My shadow is littered with broken stories.

I had peaches with some of the ice cream but they were the cheap kind so it's not as nice as it sounds. The woman by the river has a magician for a lover but apart from his eyes I don't know much about him and I'm not sure how much there is to know. I haven't fallen in love with him yet; it worries me. The man who shot the girl in the apartment is not bad enough. There's a man at the docks listening …

A Sorrowful Tale

One of the stories I think we may need to tell a bit better in our culture is grief. For grief is a beautiful thing, a facet of love, and it deserves to be told wisely, fully, in all its wild loveliness.

I grew weary a long time ago of the relentless positivity imposed upon women. Count your blessings. Always look on the bright side. Be strong, be fierce, let nothing get you down. Have a survivor mentality, not a victim one. All these things are good in moderation, but too often they deny us our pain. They do not give us permission to lament. To suffer. To crawl away into the deep soil of our souls so that we may rest.

Do you know how often I've seen women having to be taught how to grieve what some awful crime has done to them? About as often as I've seen men bewildered by themselves because their grief process doesn't fit the various official stages of mourning. About as often as I've noticed the judging looks given to parents who confess they grieve not having a dau…

On A Path of Narrative Therapy

Waymarkers for the Lost

I believe in the power of stories to heal. As a young child, my first creative writing was usually motivated by an effort to explore and resolve issues within myself and my environment, but then a formal, Westernised education taught me properly about psychology and suppressed my instinct for it. I learned technical models and manualised pathways towards healing, but no one ever mentioned story or soul. Only after I left my work as a counsellor and spent time in a Waldorf learning environment did I rediscover that old instinct for narrative therapy. I've since come to believe very strongly that no one can achieve true healing from their griefs and troubles without weaving together mind, body, spirit, environment, and heritage into a revitalised story for their soul.

kin fables

Throughout my training, I had caught glimpses of this paradigm when talking with Maori practitioners. So I wasn't surprised to read recently about a new project in which Maori ment…

Moon Juggler At the Dream Circus

She would put her fingers in the old dead rivers and toss up the moon, and the audience would watch it spin through tinsel stars, tinted spotlights, before it came slowly down. They gasped at all the right moments, frightened for her, but never once had she failed to catch it. Imagine that: the moon cracking to pieces all over the floor.

She would stand on the elephant's back sometimes to perform her routine, while Arlo led elephant, woman, moon, in circles around the stage. You know I have to say it: they were in orbit. And their centre of gravity was the Ringmaster in his cape and cold-eyed watchfulness. He saw dollars, not magic, in the moon's dance. He saw dollars, not thighs, hips, through the juggler's diaphanous black dress. She did not see him. She was divining the rise and fall of the moon. But later, they would leave their money and their magic on the outside of their caravan, and she would brew Russian tea, and he would sing Welsh songs, and between their eyes …

For the Love of Art

Neil deGrasse Tyson (I think he's someone famous in America?) wrote on twitter:  "Creativity that satisfies & affirms your world view is Entertainment. Creativity that challenges & disrupts your world view is Art."

I replied from a place of deep, womanly weariness. Why must we persist with this notion that art has to be adversarial to the artist and audience? Why are we so set on disrupting ourselves and others? Does there ever come a time when we are permitted comfort, certainty, peace?

image source

I believe great art uplifts and encourages both the artist and their audience. I believe that the gifts of joyfulness, satisfaction, affirmation, acknowledgment, reflection, and transcendence allow for a far deeper experience than entertainment. Art like this can help us name ourselves, accept ourselves, and even save lives.

Several months ago, I began writing something which I loved. It was inspired by a sentence fragment someone tweeted - a tiny bit of affirmative a…

Writing With Clouds and Stars

I have written before about how much it has helped me to realise that I do not have a voice naturally woven through with oak roots and the memory of nameless herb-witches; I am a wild sky writer. My storytelling instinct is not drawn from the old earth, nor is it grounded. I want to write the spaces.

Even knowing this for certain, I've spent the past few months struggling with it. I suspect this is because I am entering the age of deep womanhood, and our archetypes for this seem to be earthy, dark-forested. It's hard to think of many mythic old women riding dragons, questing for the sake of a lover, or transforming themselves into white-winged birds merely for the passion of flying through light and shadow, beyond the world. Old women are generally the hearth-keepers, pot-stirrers. Baba Yaga has her mortar and pestle of course, but she is seldom the heroine of an adventure. Seldom are her vulnerabilities explored, her silences unravelled.

I have been trying to resonate with th…

The Wish & The Belonging

There is a house on a hill I have never entered, but it feels like home. It faces the sea, and I'm sure every day its rooms fill with briny wind and waves of shadow, and every night the peace of stars. I stand outside its white wooden walls and look through the door at its gold-brown wooden floors, and wish with all my heart I lived there.

It feels like home because inside there is a woman who looks out at people like me - tourists clambering the old hill paths, having picnics in what is practically her back yard - and I have been her in another house, a distant place. I have stood in the belongingness to a land which other people visit, many of them wishing to belong there. But the thing is, I belonged to a land I didn't really love.

Oh, I knew it well. I could run its paths blindfolded. Even decades after I last did it, still cover my eyes and I could do it again. Those paths are veins of my wider body. But I do not love them in the way I love a soft track through tall calm …

In the Garden With My Ghosts

I'm sitting in my garden watching the full Gathering Moon rise. I keep trying to think of descriptions for it, tiny poem words I can put on twitter, but honestly it's too wild and lovely to write down. All my ghosts are sitting here with me, including the barefoot teenaged me, the me that used to roam midnight streets looking for the boundary of dreams (always on the horizon), the me that made fleece fairies and wrote stories of elves. Without them, I'd be alone tonight.

Two hundred metres south, something discordant with the night is pacing the main road. I can't see it because of the bend in my road, but I can feel the serrated energy. Maybe it's just the traffic, or maybe it's one of the mad folk who live in the little woods, whose nests I have hurried past, and voices I have heard moaning across the water, scattering swans. My eye keeps being drawn in that direction, so there's something, and I stay close to my door. To the north, rainclouds are gatheri…

Wise Child

It was thirty years ago now. Actually a little longer than that, although I can still see the translucence of the candlelight, as if it was a ghost of real light, swaying quietly against the patchwork walls. I can still smell the brine of the sea just outside the door. I sat curled up on the ancient sofa that's still there now, and I listened to records on my portable stereo. Joan Armatrading. Roberta Flack. Pink Floyd. Music, tide, the scratch of the stereo needle. Every now and again a possum or wallaby leaping onto the roof.

Outside, a moon would have been slipping away into the deep of the sky, then coming slowly back in again. A moon always was, of course. The light it cast on the forest looked like threads amongst the tree darkness; looked like yearning, although maybe that was just me. I sat on that old sofa which was also my bed, because there were too many ghosts in the bedroom, and I wrote about sea, stars, moonlight.

I wanted to grow up to be a wise strong woman with he…