Monthly Archives: October 2010

Autumn Magic

The trees around my park are turning into necklaces of topaz, garnet, amber and gold. I go there every day to walk Tottie on the ten acres of heath and woodland that is my urban countryside. I love to watch the sky changing  minute by minute and to see my favourite spindle hawthorn go through its dance of the seasons, every movement in a different shade. It is magic (although David Attenborough might shake his head and say,’No, it’s nature”). Sometimes there is such an intense feeling of connection between what is natural out there and what is natural in here, that only the word ‘magic’ can do it justice. Today I have time, and a sense of its limitations, to stop and observe the wonder of it all.

Romance has slowly and quietly entered my life and takes place in universal time on benches dotted round my park. Over the last nine months or so I have been engaging in a meeting of minds so deep and subtle that I haven’t even noticed what has been happening. The man in question is handsome, kind and complex. He asks me questions that I try to answer from deep in my authentic self. I do the same with him and while our dogs roll and jump and run around together, we sit on one bench or another and go deep.  We never communicate outside the park, although we exchanged telephone numbers a long time ago. Although we never speak of it, we both seem to understand that what goes on between us is organic. We meet by chance and sit together awhile and that’s all there is to it. We exchange intimacies naturally that would seem untoward if we were on ‘a date’. I never question when the next time we meet might be. We enjoy talking and when one of us gets up to leave, there is always a lot more to be said hanging in the air between us. Whatever is going on is outside real time. This is why I call it a romance.

The dictionary tells me that a romance is an extravagant, wild, original thing, with an infusion of fiction. This  description fits our benchtime beautifully, though the wildness is all in my head. It feels to me that an adventure is brewing ever so slowly. Neither asks anything of the other but slowly a friendship is building up. We even talk in some detail about sex.

 Actually it occurs to me that over the last year, this man and I have spent more time talking than some married couples do in that length of time. It is a special gift in my life, this natural intimacy with what was and is no longer a stranger. The pleasures of ageing are many, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Now is the time to take time and gaze at the changing moods of nature or the wonder of communication between a man and a woman, with no agenda other than the pleasure of sharing thoughts on the Autumn of our lives, while the leaves twist and fall gently all around us.

Back on Track

I see now that The Boy was a small event in the large landscape of my life. Having called a halt to the refractive patterning the memory of his presence created, I find I am ready to move on. So along comes Charley! But I move ahead of myself.

Back from Maenclochog, I reflect on the way that fate, destiny, free will, whatever you want to call it, conspires to draw me where I need to be. I needed to go to this magical part of Pembrokeshire in order to recognise that I, like all of us, live on a knife edge between memory and possibility. And that knife edge is lubricated with love and growth (the two being inextricably mingled). Mysterious? Read on…

Nothing convinces me of the enfoldment of time more than a visit to Maenclochog. I wrote about it years before I visited it in Allietime. As I walked around the woods and high meadows last week, I realised all over again, how strongly I had been there before in my writing, before I even knew it existed. I don’t understand how this happened but I know that it did. Llangrannwy, the setting for The Pebble Jar, has a real time doppelganger. A walk through the beech trees reveals my imagined world; the fast- flowing trout stream with dark pools and eddies,  journeying over rocks and around pollarded trees.  An ancient woodland, where even the fallen dead trees are alive with alternative lifeforms.  Quarries exploding with ferns and caves lined like jewellery boxes with mosses and lichens. Along the cliff face, ancient fissures zig zag, damp,slippery and full of patches that attract the eye and repel the foot. From this dank base the footpath climbs up the slab towards the middle meadow, where the roundhouse sits looking fat and forlorn, its grassy roof growing hairier with each passing year. This is the Poustina of The Pebble Jar, a place where the alchemist, Haris, has created a home, as well as the laboratory that is providing the community of survivors with the power to live out of time. Which is , it seems now, how this place was brought to mind, before it actually materialised. A holding of place out of time has mysteriously occurred and who am I to question it?

It’s all written down in that first volume of the trilogy. It stands exactly as it came out and only time tells me that it is the first step in an extraordinary string of events. The attractor at the end of the story is love. It is love that took me to those parts and I suspect that it will be love that persuades me to take any path I might choose. I give myself up daily to the powers that be; they keep me moving ever so gently towards the next adventure in love.

As I said, his name is Charley. He wears a bowler hat with ribbons and plays an accordian, which he handles like a lover. He is covered with pockets, in which he keeps his accoutrements; a pair of folding eye glasses, a penknife, a compass- but no mobile phone. He is gentle, kind and deep. He is mine for the taking. I have hopes that something precious will grow between us in the space between memory and possibility but I don’t intend to push it. What is mine will come to me.

He wasn’t the only man to enter my life last week. Raul Rodri Jones is an elf of a being, with curly hair and crooked teeth. He turns out to be my guide to the mushrooms. He sits me down and draws a map of the meadows above, in the drying mud of the glen. He shows me exactly where they grow but warns me against ingesting them. ‘Soak them and drink the liquid’, he says-‘ when the moon is full.’ He smiles enigmatically and I wonder if he is pulling my leg. Later he brings me a huge mushroom that looks like a shrunken breast, with a long tail sporting a ring. The underface is woven like my favourite crop circle. It is so beautiful that looking at it makes me cry.

That afternoon, as soon as I’d completed my chores I collected Tottie from the group of children who were smothering her with love, and headed for the high meadow. There under the gaze of Dragon Mountain, amid the clumps of couch grass, horsepats and the occasional dead shrew, I found what I was looking for. A fragile clump of mushrooms; small, nipple headed ,with a fine black thread circling the face, they grew in small clusters, as if for companionship. Waiting, it would seem, for my gathering fingers and curiosity to pluck them from the ground and pop them in a small bag carried for that purpose. Illegal, ancient, secret and protected by the hills and louring skies, they had grown  with the ghosts that wander a nearby ancient and long unused drove road. This is an area cut off from the village by a change of plan. The landmarks have fallen into decay and the spirits of the past are doomed to wander, lost without signs, searching for home.

‘Begone spirits of the past,’ I said out loud. ‘Go to the light. I release you by telling you that what you search for is no longer here. Not for you, not for me. Begone.’

 I sat on a lump of quartz the size of a new born calf and contemplate the thought of my ancestors who I feel had once walked the drove. Thoughts that lead me to break through a hedge and crawl under some barbed wire and enter a broken churchyard of about eight tilted and bleached gravestones. A pollarded ash has seeded and disrupted the stone dedicated to Matilda Morgan, who died in 1840. I have to lie on my belly to scrape off the moss that hides the word ‘sacred’ and the ’50 years’ of a life lived.

The sky by this time has turned olive green and there is a wind blowing. I am not the least bit afraid, though noone in the world knows where I am. I know and how pleased I am to know and to feel safe from any fabled disturbances that I have been taught might haunt such a place.

That night I placed the mushrooms under my pillow and dreamt of romance, stretching over time, right to the end of me. The night of the full moon came and went without me soaking or indeed ingesting. I drove back with the packet in my glove compartment. I might not have visited the land of the mushroom  but I felt deeply changed by my adventure. Up the road and round a corner I felt the magic go, like a piece of elastic that has been snapped and there I was  back in a world of petrol stations and newspapers and bullying roadside signs. Even Charley didn’t seem to be quite the man I had thought he was this side of the magic. It was then that I understood the meaning of the word ‘enchantment’.

What if?

Here are some mindblowing thoughts to leave you with as I head off for the Preseli Hills, from whence Stonehenge was mysteriously transported, and the magic of Maenclochog-yes that’s really a place. The place of mushrooms I would guess.

I’ve just finished The Invisible Landscape: Mind Hallucinogens and the I Ching by those brave Mckenna brothers, who shortened their lives considerably doing psychedelic research in the interest of pushing the envelope. I fell at a few posts re. understanding- it’s always the maths that lets me down. But what I lose on that score, I gain on intensity. Boy, can I feel a book!  The margins of this one are annotated with lots of Wows! and Yeses! So here goes with a quick overview of the what ifs.

What if time is a hierarchical enfoldment and we exist within a fold of temporal limitation, through which a higher temporal dimension is even at this moment ingressing into our normal space time, the one we call reality? What if the aim of concrescence from electron to galaxy is the creative advance into novelty(novelty being those epoch making events  now commonly referred to as ‘the shift’)? In other words there is a plan and the long term aim of the system we refer to as life is the freeing of all energy from matter, which holds it in a sort of straightjacket. As Joseph Needham said in Time and Eastern Man, “There is a manifold complexity in the Universe but there is no confusion”. Spirit drives the show ever forward, following its purpose, not bound by laws, like fate and reality are. What if one day up ahead, there is a quantum jump into another groove and the modern ontology of reductionism is overthrown by a development in the organisation of consciousness itself? Then surely understanding will arise from the ashes and it will be of an atemporalised and holistic nature?

The paradox at the centre of life is that what we conceive of as reality is always complete in itself, yet at the same time points insistentlybeyond itself. We humans, for some part anyway, feel the need to push boundaries, finding ever more meanings and new insights into the world we perceive. We are driven and we are driven for a reason. We are reaching beyond beginning and end, birth and death, all the time helping along the natural flow of these periodic novel ingressions. What if this is because the Tao always leaves creation unfinished, so humans can weave their fate? What fate are we weaving for ourselves right now?

The matrix of DNA reaches deeper than the cybernetic level. The mycelium underlay that links us together as living organisms is the sum total of DNA present on earth. What if there are energy patterns stored within the so called ‘junk’ DNA, ready to take us forward into the next demanding, exciting  frightening and ultimately glorious epoch making event?

The brothers Mckenna were brave enough to suggest that the strange talking world of the psychedelic mushroom is an insight into the dimension that we are collectively growing towards anyway, by dint of the evolution of our consciousness. In that dimension we hear each other’s minds thinking and live within the continuum of shared perceptions in a place where everything is webbed together in a magical fabric of meaning and affirmation and mystery. It is a place in which we each know somehow that we are a reflection of a microcosm and are chosen to be in precisely the place that we find ourselves, which through that realisation becomes a place of grace. Then we know the intense pleasure of being truly present. Instead of living through reason we would live within a staggering array of intuitions about why things are as they are.

 The very concept of life implies movement. Time exists as a periodicity implicit in the function of life. With movement through space, time is created. This is not clock time. This is nature’s own time. The movement of the planets, the rise and setting of the sun, the lunar month, all function with periodicity, which indicates that evolution is what it’s all about. Mind seeks purpose and this fact is ubiquitous. The seeking of the self is implicit in the process called life. And life itself imparts meaning to an otherwise mechanistic entropy- seeking system. Consciousness is changing significantly via chemical alterations in brain tissue and DNA. The realisation of the fractal nature of the universe is changing our brain chemistry. We are moving ever closer to an understanding that the old idea of time as pure duration is gradually being replaced by the idea that time is a very complex fractal phenomenon, in many sizes, over which becoming flows like water. When we understand this, we will realise that there is an Other, here with us now but as yet unseen, that is connected to our being yet transcends life and death. It has will, motive and enormous power. The world obeys the will of consciousness that builds into layers of concrescence which every so often shift the course of history.

It is a common intuition of this time, that we are moving ever more rapidly towards some such event.We are feeling the backward flowing repercussions of some event up ahead perhaps? An archetype is stalking the ever more chaotic world, bringing into realisation a meeting between our universe and its reflection. What if this is the point of it all? Isn’t it good to live with the possibility of a point? A return of the Logos perhaps. “It is not I who speak,”said Heraclitus, “it is the Logos.” When one enters the dimension that is the shaman’s haunt, it is as if existence is uttering itself through one. I can’t wait. I might even go mushrooming in Mynydd Preseli.

Enough Stuff!

It’s autumn, so time  to shut the shutters, which cast a golden glow over The Warren. Time to reflect on just how much I love my home. It’s full to the brim of course with stuff, mainly books and vintage china. I am very strict these days about the turnover. I don’t want to become a hoarder and as I have the gene, this needs careful monitoring. My uncle, the recluse, died on his kitchen floor under cascades of cobwebs. It looked like the stage set for Bluebeard’s Castle. After the funeral, when we cleared his place, we filled seventeen dustbin liners with his home made carpeting of cornflake packets and coal dust. There were also eight sets of dentures, two dustbin liners of sweet papers and 286 empty milk bottles. All the antique furniture had been dismantled for fuel; all except a rustic Georgian bookcase that is now in my sitting room filled with my favourite books, I Ching paraphernalia and Tarot decks. So you see I have to be careful. But I love the cosiness of my stuff and as each object tells a story, I am never bored. Although I like being surrounded by my stuff, I am very aware that the real treasure lies elsewhere.

What I have learned is that at the end of the rainbow is the self. And behind the self is the Self.This is a spiritual relationship. Spirit is what underwrites our time on earth and Spirit is an experience  hard to define. One is connected to Spirit as one might be to spring water, bubbling without ceasing from deep in the earth. It nourishes, consoles and fills one with peace and love. It can change like the clouds in the sky and has different tones. It can be mischievous or bossy, calm or tempestuous. It is the plug that connects one to unity, completeness and fulfilment. Spirit rocks!

But Spirit lives in a sort of Shangrila, at the top of a mountain, the pass to which is blocked by many landslides. This is my experience anyway. A great deal of one’s adult life is spent digging away, with and without help, until the light streams through the blockage and the path takes on a more amber hue. Golden even. This very often coincides with the children leaving home and work moving on to younger folk. At this time many people decide to keep up the hellbent speed, thinking that this will somehow keep the inevitable at bay. How often do you hear the words,” I thought I’d be bored but I’ve never been so busy,”? As usual I do it differently. I have slowed down so much that for the first time in my life I have to watch my weight. But my days have a shape and a purpose and I love the fact that I have time to mull over things, to put my cup down and look at the leaves turning colour, to carefully prune the bushes in my city garden one branch at a time and put the rubbish out on the right day.

I know this part of my life is winding down time and I love it. My friend Maisie has dyed her hair blonde and is, even as I write, cruising the Greek Island with her new boyfriend, who she found on the Internet. Good for her, I say, if that’s what she wants. Maybe I’ll change my mind and have a go myself. Maybe I’ll become a late blossoming dominatrix.  Maybe.  Yesterday in the hairdresser’s the woman sitting in the chair next to me leaned across and said,”I love your hair”. I think what she meant is that she loved the fact that I’m not bothered about going grey. I looked at myself in the mirror and I thought the face looking back was a happy one, far too vibrant to be thought of as old. That’s the best beauty cream in the world. Happiness. Stuff helps but stuff  on its own is empty and meaningless. My stuff is inbued with the hardwon spirit of me and that’s what turns this into my golden age. It’s alchemy.

Hoot if You give a Damn

I see a branch of Hooters is soon going to open in my hometown. Fast food, pitchers of beer, hot pants. I guess I’m not their target client. Every day I realise anew that here in The Warren I have created a haven for myself in a world gone mad. Kebab and chicken outlets surround me. The pavements are greasy with last night’s mistakes and the charge for two hours parking in town this morning is the price of a decent sized jar of Manuka honey. The future is glowering on the periphery of my vision. I see it is likely I will grow old in a world smelling of pavement pee and badly brought up chickens, burned to a carcinogenic crisp and sold to drunken children. But can I do anything about it? No. So here in Allie’s fantastic world, just a few moments away from the above, all is serene. Just like the fine line between the 3rd and 4th dimensions in fact.The close encounter letter still sits behind the clock, pending a decision but today I have more serious thoughts on my mind.

In a week’s time Tottie and I will be heading off to West Wales  to cook for(and be loved by) a group of children who have cancer and are in need of respite care and a chance to boost their immune systems with good food and good air  in unpolluted countryside. These are some of the children of Chernobyl.

The world’s worst nuclear disaster happened in April 1986 at Chernobyl in the north of Ukraine, about 12 miles south of the border with Belarus. Before the accident, Belarus was known as the garden of Russia and vegetables were the  country’s main export. The accident put an end to that. Thousands of villages and towns within the 70km exclusion zone were lost. Over 2 million children were exposed to radioactivity. The blood streams of the population  now contain large doses of heavy metals such as Caesium 137, which destroys the immune system and internal organs. The accident  happened over 20 years ago, so it is the next generation of children I will be cooking for. How many more generations will manifest cancers, leukemia and other radiation related illnesses from that one nuclear accident?

The wasteland and the people affected seem to have been forgotten by the politicians anxious to convince us that  nuclear energy is the only way forward in a world hungry for energy. The truth about the Chernobyl disaster has been watered down and the numbers massaged by many  ‘interested’ parties, The International Atomic Energy Agency included. The people on the ground tell a different story.

The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline  is a charity set up by one man, Mr Victor Mizzi, who discovered the plight of these forgotten people and vowed to do something about it. The charity has brought 50,000 children over to the UK for respite care since 1992.

I will be assisting in the kitchen for a week, as I did last year. It is exhausting but very satisfying work. Mainly I peel vegetables and wash up. I also make pounds of garlic butter, which the children love and which does them so much good. The children are innocent in a way ours no longer are and they love Tottie. Every evening, after supper, we gather in a candlelit room and each of us in turn says what it is that we’ve enjoyed most about the day.Then we sing a mantra. The children lie on cushions and are totally relaxed and unselfconscious about what is going on. A spiritual energy builds up in the room that we all wallow in. The children don’t speak English and are accompanied by two adults, a doctor and an interpreter. At the end of the week I hand over my paring knives and Marigold gloves to another volunteer, wonder over the difference in their faces that a week has brought, then head for home with gratitude singing in my ears.

Google Pripyat if you are having a bad day and see what it is possible for mankind to bring about through technological progress. The modern world is taking on a strange vibe. People are wandering around in cheap thin clothing, looking like urchins. They move in packs, following the same ratruns with lost eyes. When will they awaken? Cities are becoming ever more crowded, each taking on more and more the characteristics of the other. Is this what is really happening or is it the sad perspective of a woman who has had her day?

 Maybe, but this woman also has a dream.  Something important is stirring in the mycelium underlay of the collective unconscious. Slowly, in our hierchical system, realisation is dawning.  Drawing to the surface every moment is the underlying urge for psychic order, unity and totality. Nature will win in the end, whatever mankind in its blindness throws at it. When the fragments of the collective hologram are joined, the whole will shine with peace and love and quality and then, realising our brotherhood and our collective vulnerability, we will learn to walk the earth as if clothed in gold, making sure that the risk of a Cherobyl will never again be allowed to happen on our watch. And the parasitic growths will fall off our healing collective body and Hooters will lie on its back in the dust, scrabbling helplessly for a hold that will not materialise, because we  collectively, will have seen what it all means.

Close Encounter

“Sex, lots of it and the dirtier the better,” This was Bertram’s answer; short succinct and said with a twisted smile on the left side of his mouth. My question was, what is it that makes some blogs grow at the rate of a Russian vine and mine dawdle along in the slow lane for what has now been three quarters of my blogging year? If the answer is sex, the question is can I be bothered?

Well yes I can, up to a point it would seem, because I was in no time rummaging through my bits of paper to find the advert that I had stashed away for such a time as this. Finding it, I read it out to Bertram, asking him what he thought. It read:-

“Ladies of only too certain an age wanted to add a little zest to intimate club meeting once a week. A strict out look and an interest in dressing up an advantage. Please WRITE with photo showing imaginative use of gear.”

So, encouraged by some louche comments from Bertram and a rather unsettling feeling in the base of my belly, I got the bowler hat off the top of the wardrobe, blew the dust off it and cobbled together an outfit from my old basque and a few yards of spotted net. The legs still look good in fishnet and I kept reminding myself that Marlene was still doing cabaret with a thigh-high slit up her skirt, well  into her eighties. I could see the gleam in Bertram’s eye growing ever brighter, as I showed him each evolutionary phase of the outfit. “Dream on” I said to him, thinking at that moment that I could do with someone altogether younger and much more likely to go the course without wheezing. I’ve always been a terrible tease, so I wacked the boots with my riding crop ( Lidl’s Horse and Equestrian Spring Event £2.99) and told him strictly to concentrate on his role as my David Bailey.

We took some time choosing the right pose and the digital camera clicked away. I liked the one with me leaning hazily against the bookshelves but Bertram said that the double edition of Madam Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine just above my head gave out the wrong message. I had to trust Bertram’s experience in this matter, what with his years of researching internet porn for that book he’s always on the point of writing. He thought the photo of me with my leg up on an Ikea kitchen chair was much sexier, as it showed more crotch. “So much for subtlety”, I said grumpily.  “Subtlety isn’t something you need to aim for with fetish, darling”, was his reply, so we stuck a print of the photo in an envelope, stamped and addressed it and stuck it behind the clock on the mantlepiece.

 I was starting to have qualms about the whole project. Who these days does this sort of transaction by snail mail? I could see a roomfull of wrinkled old codgers with drool running down their chins and gleams in their eyes. Could I be strict with the geriatric? “Don’t worry Allie,”said Bertram when I voiced my concerns over lunch,”I’d give you a good seeing-to any day”. I kept my thoughts about the irrelevence of this remark to myself and suggested we nipped into Spank, our local fetish shop to find an outfit, in case I was called for an interview.

There we spent a very merry hour. I’ll rephrase that. Bertram spent a very merry hour, chatting up the assistant, who was far too young to be wearing thighboots in red patent and a rubber pinefore dress with large buttons in suggestive places. I, in the meantime, struggled into and out of several latex cat suits with the help of copious amounts of talc. The bottle green one with holes cut out for the flesh coloured latex tits looked amazing, especially with the red wig. Bertram didn’t recognise me at first, but then nearly wet himeself laughing. I didn’t buy anything. By the time I had struggled out of  the hellhole of latex I had got myself into, I had a headache and my hernia was telling me something. Not even Hogwash by Louis Jordon, being played on the shop hi fi, could lift my mood. Hogwash indeed I thought to myself, made my excuses to Bertram, who was still being inappropiate with Miss Redboots and came home to a good book.

The Myth of Matter

Dotted around The Warren are bits of paper with words hurriedly scrawled on them. They are in books, behind plants, in my make-up bag, on the mantlepiece and all sorts of other places-though not yet in the food cupboard or the fridge. I’m not that dotty. Yet.

Sometimes the scrawl is just a shopping list, quickly discarded into the recycling basket but sometimes the words make my heart skip a beat. Like the ones that surfaced this morning, for example.  “If ever there was a word that has been polluted by time, it is the word God. It describes a power that is both digital and fractal and is within each of us at this moment. If you ever wonder what’s going on in the world today, look no further than the utilisation and the understanding of the digital and the fractal. For the power of which I speak is both of these and we are growing closer every day.” I have no recollection of writing these words or any idea where they might have come from. I suspect from the slightly clumsy wording that they are ‘my own’, or at least they came through me. When this happens, it is usually for a reason. Something to do with my spiritual development; my connection with the numinous, my desire to connect with you.

We live within a bleak, secular, existential world view in the West. Religions have lost their symbolic power and fundamentalism has developed as the final thrashing of an almost spent force. Death is seen as a nothingness and there is an absence of the idea of salvation in all we see around us. Mircea Eliade points out that the creators and keepers of the new mythology of matter are scientists. In their adventures in exploring the magical topography of life, the scientists have much in common with the shaman. But their investigations of matter do not take us into the collective unconscious , the creative matrix of all there is and will ever be. What is missing from the new mythology is the transcendent, sacred mode of being. No wonder that depression is so rife. What is the point without connection? Living trapped in historical time , we have lost what our ancesters had to comfort them in a world more physically difficult than the world that most of us live in today. What they had was a physical connection with the unity of the Cosmos. What we are encouraged to have is a physical connection with the shopping mall.

I refuse to live like this. I live in a world I have created out of gossamer and hope and what ifs. It is with poetry and philosophy that I create a warp and weft. Within it I weave a world in which we humans each have to make a decision. Is it to be the X factor and the world according to Cowell? Or is it to be according to the will of the Tao, a human weaving of divine possibilities? A digital, fractal vision of worlds within worlds and the possibility of a new and deeper sublimity, if only we can grow enough to realise it? With every moment that passes we are collectively deciding. Everything that happens on the surface comes from a place we do not yet understand. Even so we are responsible. Is it to be death and nothingness? Or sacred and everlasting bliss? You choose.