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Showing posts from September, 2018

The Songs & Silence of Women

Through all the world, women have begun singing. Theirs is not a beautiful song in the way we normally think of beauty; it is a raw, raucous lament. Beautiful though in its truth and weight.


Woman have begun singing about their pain. I know you think they did this decades ago, when feminism uplifted women's voices, but that was different music - it was about a longing for the sky, a song of wings. Now, we hear about the broken bones, bruised hearts, ruined trust. The songs that could never be heard until women had rescued themselves from dark towers, claustrophobic kitchens, small lives, and learned not only to fly but to stand on their self-seeded inner ground.

These are songs women have been whispering amongst themselves for millennia. Where do you think so many fairytales come from? We mostly know them now the way men have chosen to retell them, but their origins are in the bones and blood of what women have always experienced.

(Men have their own terrible experiences too.…

Everywoman And the Monsters

Once and always, there was a woman who sought her fortune. She had not expected this. As a little girl, she had dreamed only of making a little garden, baking bread so she was surrounded by what surely must be the aroma of heaven, and every night watching the glorious sunset. Her dreams might have grown bigger with time - or not, who knows? But her father cut off her hand, her grandmother cut out her tongue (why? it does not matter why; nothing could ever adequately explain it) and so she ran from home to seek her fortune.

The hand grew back. It ached in bad weather, and that was bad enough, but she learned how to write and paint and catch rain with it. The tongue grew back. It could not say certain words without her wanting to vomit, and that was bad enough, but she learned to sing and orate with it. She became strong, interesting. She grew flowers where she could, baked bread when she could, watched sunsets. And she fought the monsters when they came - sometimes to victory, sometime…

In The Dark Forest

One of the most prevalent mythic images is that of the woman (or man) who ventures alone through the dark forest to face trials and sorrows before emerging strengthened. I have used it myself many times in narratives and therapeutic stories.

The truth of course is that you are probably safer in the forest than you are walking a city street, drinking at a house party, going for an evening jog. In my own country, there's nothing in our forests that would harm you except your own foolishness in not being prepared or walking an unstable path. There are no bears, wolves, snakes. Even if there were, they'd more likely run from you, for surely wild creatures have their own dread tales to tell about when people venture alone through the dark forest.

I have always believed that the old metaphors continue to speak powerfully, with truth, even in these new days. But I'm starting to think that the metaphor of the forest needs to be changed. Now, to teach our children and heal ourselv…

Stories for Wild Dreaming

I went to the library this week, looking for new fantasy books to read. I spent an hour browsing and came out with nothing. This is during a time when I have also been visiting bookstores, looking for new books to buy. As I can almost never afford to do this, I am very careful with my selections, usually staying with authors I've come to trust over the years, or buying books I fell in love with after reading the library copy.

I have a hankering at the moment for beauty. For bears murmuring poetry to the moon, women weaving magic like cat's cradles between their fingers, grandmothers whose coat pockets are full of herbs and wishes, houses holding secrets like fallen stars. I want beautiful imagery, beautifully or at least articulately written.

They've been nowhere around me. I know I can probably find them if I scour the internet, especially from indie sources. But I want to walk into a shop and walk out hugging a book. I want to run my fingers along the spines of dreams, a…

The Wolf Bridegroom

So, my father married me off to a wolf. He married me off to teeth and claws and the taste of sweet hot blood. He was an authority figure himself, and if he had to let me go, he said, he wanted me still tethered to a force greater than that of my liberal imagination. Thus it was I married to a wolf.

I went in virginal white, like first spring blossoms and first spring rains, into the forest. I met a husband of light eyes, sweat-scented pelt, and something so fierce in his smile that I almost turned and ran. I was not frightened of him, only of my own sudden longings. He took me deep into the forest.

And I learned what it meant to have married a wolf.

It was shy glances through the shadows, singing poetry to the moon, running through the wind until my eyes burned and my heart burned with a savage bliss I'd never before known. And it was a large, raucous family of in-laws who welcomed me with open arms and toothy smiles, helping me to find my own true laugh.

It was wild, gentle love…

The Magicians of the Dawn

I have always been a night owl, but over the past couple of years I've come to love the very early morning* when it's still dark and the bird-magicians are abroad, singing spells to bring definition to the world and ultimately raising the sun.

Don't believe in it? Fair enough. I personally have trouble believing in the mundane. Bird-magicians of the morning are as real as it gets to me.

* I actually don't call it early morning. I call it night until the light returns, because that's what makes sense, and I suspect it's what we called it until we got ourselves clocks. And that liminal hour when the birds take charge, doing their delicate musical magic, is far more enchanting to me than any midnight witching hour, because it's real magic, you know? Not just some tipping point humans imagine as if their timepieces have any bearing on natural reality at all.

Our arrogance and sense of racial superiority deprives us of so much magic and understanding of life, an…

Wondering About Blogging

I have the opportunity to create a website with my own domain name, something I've been wanting to do for years. But now that the time has come, I found myself hesitating. Wondering.

And so I ask you.

What do you love best in weblogs? Minimalism with quiet space and fine-boned text, or full-screen images with a bold, luscious text? Do you like a clamour of sidebar imagery, or the trendy squarespace look of scrolling sections, or a clean space with one small link list?

Over the years I've had both a bold luscious look and the current minimalism - ironically, I feel the latter better contains my inner vividness. (Incase you're wondering, I'm sitting here in a dress the colour of wild bees, with long messy hair, holey stockings, and a new nose ring, listening to Matthew Perryman Jones' Cancion de la Noche - the song which inspired part two of Deep of the Far Away. My computer has warned me that listening to music this loud may permanently damage my hearing. In a minut…

The Old Spirit in the City

I have been wanting for years to move away into the country, where meadows and trees can soak up my gentled breathing. But another part of me longs conversely to move into the heart of the city. To have libraries for my forests. To have dusty memories, sudden sirens, rickety stairs leading up behind shops, for my poems. Even to have the stain of sea in the air (all but one of our cities here are beside the ocean.)


photo by ffion snaith _______________________________________________________________

But the city as I imagine it won't linger for long. Every day it becomes more modern, its shy bookish dreams being swept away, old windows broken so whole walls of glass can be erected instead. I come from a people who left behind their history and heritage to create something new. Their spirit remains in our society. This is a land of runaways and reinventors. Nothing is allowed to remain old for very long.

For those of us …

The Child Who Felt Too Much

Outside, a bird is singing. With my curtains closed and the sky packed down with clouds, there's a slight echoey feeling, and I could almost believe we are in an old, damp forest, that bird and I, living our best lives. Sometimes my longing for that wished-up life clenches within me, literally hurts me, and I have to grope again for my breath. And I have to remind myself that what I long for couldn't ever exist. It's a patchwork of dreams I had as a child - sunlight through elegant dark corridors in houses I visited, the feeling at someone else's grandmother's tea table, the sound of old floors telling tales beneath my feet. In particular, there was a house surrounded by trees on the drive home that seemed to me must be magical inside. I yearn to live in that house, even though it has long since been torn down.

I remember too much from when I was a child who felt too much. It may be why I am drawn to storytelling. When we write fiction, we have the chance to dwell …

Heaven in a Wild Flower

My new computer has low optical quality. Images are often blurry or yellowed. Because of this, I've had to put aside my photography. I take snapshots with my phone for instagram, but the art I was slowly developing, the years I put into learning about light and poetry - all of that I've relinquished. I'm focussing on words instead.

Right now, I don't miss it too much. My dreams for photography were always outweighed by my doubts about my ability. Maybe one day I will return to it when I have a better computer and more courage.

One of the reasons I was drawn so deeply into photography was because I liked taking a camera with me as I went out into the world. I found that, when I did, I had an excuse to slow down and engage with the environment more. People don't understand why someone would want to stop and whisper to a blossoming tree, or stare at a distant hill, or just sit in the grass letting sunlight drape over their shoulders. More understandable is taking pho…

At the Edge of the World

I stood in the long grass, looking out at the bare stone islands rising from the sea. They were dragons made of earth bone and ocean memory. They were castles of the pearl king. All around me the wind danced like a joyful dervish, and I felt the spirit in me dancing with it, even as I steadily eyed those islands - for I was a wind-girl drawn to the one thing strong enough to resist the wind, mountains. I knew even then, even only nineteen or something, not yet fully educated and never having much travelled, I knew in an ageless part of myself that this world was not enough. It was only story, and I could tell it to myself however I liked. Under all the traffic and commerce and movies and clothes, there was simply wind and mountains, the dance and the stillness, the wild love.

"Don't just stand there," he said irritably. "Come down to the beach, live a little."

I shrank back down to a girl who was never enough herself. I left the wind and descended a long steep…

the first day of spring

There always comes a day early in spring when you feel the beginning again. Meteorologists may tell you when the seasonal change has arrived; stars may tell you from afar, but then you wake to a warmth you've not felt for a long time, and a silvery quality to the light that makes it seem like the day is a bell that has been struck, and you know now it's spring for real. The bright-eyed sun-god is smiling crookedly at you, throwing handsful of hope at you, and something turns, like the year turns, inside your heart.

The Memory of Freedom

I climbed the hill, following a meandering path like I was walking the spine of an old dormant creature, pelted with manuka, who dreamed of the days it danced with the sea. My own dreams were barely more civilised. I wanted to take off my shoes, my appointments, my power bill, and run away to live witch-wild amongst the trees. I'd done it before - really, it's amazing the things that can be managed when you're eighteen that seem impossible at forty five - but since those summer days under a different mountain, half-kin with a different manuka forest, I'd spent too long with electricity and excuses; I couldn't believe in freedom any more.
But the wind knew freedom. Coming in endlessly from the ocean, it spoke an epic about forever. It remembered me as a bony, mad-haired little girl from back when these hills had been my home. It remembered the young woman who kept coming back for an hour or two at a time, longing for her wind and old woodland shadows, but knowing n…

Writing Deeply About Small Things

I woke to the memory of rain gleaming on the grass and driveway. The air felt replete. It always makes me a little sad when the night has been raining and I, sleeping, missed it. Rain is so precious, I want to experience every moment of it - although too often when it comes I fret about whether I'm enjoying it enough, and fear it will end any moment and not come again for a month. I feel the same about spring. Apparently, I am not one of these people who can drink in the beauty of nature - I gulp, and then choke, and spill half of it down my blouse.

Book twitter is playing a game at the moment, write about your own work in the style of "How to Tell if You're in a .... Novel." I could only reply with one of my current works in progress, because really I don't know whether there is much consistency across my works. Perhaps I could say, you are beset with too many words ... no breeze goes undescribed ... nothing much actually happens. (I also could add that you wil…

Coming Home Again

Yesterday I went back and forth through the city, walking through rain, running for buses; I tried to take the same journey three times and finally reached my destination in the dark. I limped home at last well past my bedtime. I was in a lot of pain from all the walking, and my laundry, with which I'd been so pleased, was soaked on the line.

This is life sometimes. It seems a mad bumble, a waste of time. But halfway through my adventure, I let go of what I could have been doing instead, and this morning I realise all the plans I'd had to abandon would have been a waste of time themselves, and so nothing was lost. There is a charm to travelling without hope of purpose, a small magic to just carrying on even though you have no idea whether you should or not.

All of which is to accompany my announcement that I'm moving back here, at least until I can afford to get myself a proper website with a domain name. As I explained on the penwitch site, I don't have the strength a…