Saturday, 19 December 2009

Just Follow the Sun...


No one tells Spring that Autumn will come, but the children of April are immortal, and in October they stand golden in the light of their remembered youth...

The nights are drawing in and it was already 3.45pm when I arrived at the house, courtesy of my new ‘SatNav’. I am a driver of the ‘old school’ and I initially scorned their use, preferring maps or memory. Memory was very important when I was a dispatch rider, working in central London. Like the London cabbies, we motorcycle dispatchers would memorise all the streets and as we were paid per parcel delivery, the faster we were, the more money we earned.

Now I have succumbed to the idea of being guided by 6 or 7 satellelites instead of my own map-reading and directional skills, I have become a SatNav addict….no trip to the corner shop would be complete without Sean’s Scottish brogue to direct me.

I had tried quite a few ‘voices’ before choosing Sean. Dennis Hopper was too sinister, Hannibal Lecter became boring after a while and John Cleese was altogether too bossy, with his parting:

“You have reached your destination – just don’t expect me to carry your bags, you’re on your own now!”

Finally, a rather over-sexed female voice that told me:

“You have reached your destination...but don’t stop just yet” - proved to be the last straw.

So Sean it was. In any case, the Connery burr telling me that I had reached my destination “Shaken but not shturred” did seem to suit my car's rough suspension and it’s 412,000 miles on the clock (yes…really!) Considering I do around 1,000 – 1,500 miles per week in it, my little Peugeot 106 is amazingly reliable for it’s age –  At one stage I was hoping that I would get it half-way round the clock...500.000 miles...however corrosion has set in, together with quite a bit of wear and tear, so I'll have to keep my fingers crossed.

It’s strange how time flies. It seems only yesterday that young Sean burst onto the screen in Dr No, with Ursula Andress. I remember watching him on Black and White television, being interviewed about the film. Then a couple of years later, watching my favourite Bond film "Goldfinger"

The kitchen table was full of pears from the seeds my mother brought back from Spain, wrapped in tissue paper. Northern Italy is a magnet for people who love wine, cheese and pears and my mother and father had a lovely holiday there in the '70's. Although wine was not to her taste, I know she would have loved the cheeses and the fruit. When she returned to England, she brought back the ‘pips’ – the seeds of the pears she had eaten – and planted them in her garden. Christina then visited Liz, bearing the small shoots she had grown from the seeds she had wrapped in tissue and brought home.  (I wrote about the trees and Mam and Dad a year ago) 

Although the pears have looked wonderful every year since that time, this is the first year that they have tasted so sweet...


Liz was keen to go walking, and as the shadows were lengthening, I had a quick sandwich and a cup of coffee and we set out in the car to a small pudding-basin of a hill, no more than a mile in circumference, but so full of trees and ferns that it seemed limitless from the inside. It was the enchanted forest from the The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. When I was around eight or nine years old, I would check the back of the wardrobe in my parents house, in the hope of finding a pathway and a lamp post…and a Faun.

I still have the wardrobe – and the memories.

As we circled the hill in our endless forest, a rather irritable pageant of characters passed us going the other way. First up was a woman who had lost her dog. She seemed almost indignant that Liz didn't know were the dog was. Next to appear were a slightly frantic group, at least two women and a man. The women were calling out for their lost friend (the owner of the dog) whilst the man sat quietly on a tree stump with a forlorn  pooch on a lead. Liz again got stuck in and tried to help (only making matters worse) - I observed the action from a safe distance (as elderly men tend to do)

Eventually Liz extricated herself and we walked in a clockwise direction, around the perimeter of the hill. We had only gone a short way, when two bright eyes and a pair of floppy ears arrived to complete the anti-clockwise pageant. "Floppy Ears", who had obviously managed a full lap of the hill, listened carefully to Liz and then set off at high speed in the direction we had come from. Distant barking indicated a joyful reunion...


The light was amazing; a beech tree seemed to glow from within. There were no shafts of sunlight or even bright patches as we passed through North and East, but When we reached South-West, the effect was stunning.


It struck me that the whole of middle England (except the high bits) would have been covered with trees and bushes - not so long ago. It was easy to imagine a family making a clearing in the endless forest and being joined by others. As time moved on, the clearing would become a village and then a town...

But it would have all started with the endless forest...


  By now we had completed a full circuit of the pudding-basin and we were back in the West    

The final rays of the sun were so beautiful...


I set my camera on a fork in a tree and hurried over to Liz, the light was soft and gentle, with sunbeams touching our shoulders and the sun still blazing in the field behind us.

We started to make our way back to the car in the rapidly increasing dusk. The smell of  leaves and damp earth mixed in with the chilly Autumn air, held endings and beginnings - and also made me look forward to a hot cup of tea, sipped in front of an open fire, before supper, followed by an evening of Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett is in my opinion, the ultimate actor to portray the legendary Holmes), then the excellent David Suchet as Poirret...and if we were lucky, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple - not to mention Columbo.  For such a gentle soul, Liz does like her Crime mysteries! (so do I)


Just before we got in the car, I took a final look at the path we had walked down. It was almost dark and I had the same sensation I have had since I was a child...that my dusk was someone else's dawn.

As we returned to the house, courtesy of Sean’s instructions, we found ourselves driving directly toward the sunset. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, Liz countermanded the the Scottish brogue and the gruff instruction to "Turrrn Right" 

“I know the way he means" she said... 

"Go straight on”

“Just follow the sun for as long as it lasts.”


It seems to have taken a lifetime to write this post. It is now December.


But soon the snowdrops will appear...


Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on it's face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space...

Alan Bergman and Michel Jean Legrand

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Facing my Fears

When I was in my 20's, the music of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel was as new as a fresh coat of paint. I was totally overwhelmed by their album "Bookends" and especially "Old Friends" and used it as a basis for a deaf "sign-mime", for both deaf and hearing people as part of my own lecture/performance tours in schools and colleges

The idea to use "Old Friends" as a video project, came as a result of a recent dig through many of my old photographs. However I didn't realise what I would touch upon and unearth from within myself.

I'm normally bright and cheerful, but "Old Friends", which has been a part of my life for over 30yrs, has caused me to uncover some of my fears about ageing and loneliness - fears which have been a part of me since I was quite young. At times during the photo-editing, I felt a bit raw - but it has lead me to face emotions I usually avoid.

I have loved every stage of my life, and saying goodbye to my physical youth is especially hard for me as a dancer. I know that life cannot be simply viewed on a quantitative level, but it is like saying goodbye to a dear friend.


"Makes you think perhaps, that
Love like youth is wasted on the young"

Sammy Caan

The next one will be happy.....Promise :)

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Spring~From Imbolc to Ostara

Spring is a Magic Cat

So it's coming around again and the air is full of new life. This is for me is a wonderful time of re-incarnation, growth and change. I went to see Liz a few days ago and spent a sunny morning in her garden with my camera.

I like to get in really close - the more fine detail I can see, the more spiritual it all becomes.

From infinitely small to infinitely big. There is a consistent pattern in nature, from the smallest particle, to the full extent of the expanding universe - and we are all a part of it.

Liz has the garden laid out beautifully, with trees and bushes, plants and flowers - and a pond that is home to two frogs, who have survived the winter under the ice. They appeared last spring and have lived under the stones since then. I've only seen one of them, and that was just a leg frog-paddling from under a stone. But that leg was big (well around 4 to 5 inches) but it's quite big enough for here, if not for Texas.

(Unless you've got warp-speed broadband, I suggest you click on play on the video and then click pause - it should be loaded by the time you've read this post. Also, if you then double-click on the screen above, you'll get a larger HD version)

P3141512P3141486.ORF Liz saw them, lying on the stones and basking in the sun last summer - So my ambition is to photograph them both when the weather gets warmer.

Imbolc commences at the beginning of February and goes through until the Spring Equinox, or Ostara.

P3141515Ostara is the Goddess and the womb of the earth. She is symbolised by the Easter Egg and her name derives from the same root as oestrogen - the female hormone. Beltane will see her meet and unite with the God. The old religion was earthy and worshipped life and growth in perhaps a more unashamed way than religious practice today. In those times, people lived closer to the earth and were more aware and vulnerable to the change of the seasons. Rural life depended on many hands to do the work and it was important that a new bride was able to bear children and that the bridegroom had fertile seed. In order to ensure the survival and growth of the community, the bedding and the first signs of new life, would often precede the wedding.

But Ostara is still young, she has only just met her suitor and together they dance, with eyes cast down...

...Until Beltane, when the May Queen is crowned and calleth her bridegroom.

P3141490The term 'Pagan' can cause people to shudder (or feel a frisson of excitement) as it's meaning has shifted toward that which is considered evil. Paganism actually embraces the veneration of the life-force, it's name deriving from the Latin 'Pagus' which means locality.

In the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, this is a time of new light and growth. A time to open windows in both house and mind and let the freshness of the new air, clear away old fears and habits. A new beginning.

In the locality of the Southern Hemisphere, the Goddess is now the bountiful mother - but her fertility is ending - She sings the truth of Lughnasadh and the harvest to come, as she slowly weaves the silver threads of Samhain into his golden hair...

In Australia, Imbolc occurs on August 12th, followed in September by the Spring Equinox or Ostara.


On our earth and beyond, endings are also beginnings. Gaia the Earth-Mother wears a patchwork dress of many colours.P3141494

Below is an Imbolc video from Oz - (double-click on the screen to watch the large version, and then click the HD button to watch in High Definition if you can - it makes a big difference to this particular Video)

A Good Omen

I have learned to listen to the whispers. Last summer, a cat turned up at my kitchen door and made friends with me. At the time I was writing about Midsummer and the approach of the harvest of Lughnasadh - so I called the creature 'Noone'. It seemed to fit, not only because the year was at it's peak but also because Noone was also No-One. It reminded me of a line from the poem 'Anyone lived in a pretty How Town' by EE Cummings

"Noone and anyone Earth by April - Wish by Spirit and If by Yes"

P7190562-1At that time, I had just written the following lines...

It is Midsummer and the Noone-Time of the Solstice has grown to the full heat of the afternoon sun. Leo stands rampant, with the orb of the earth and the sickle of Lammas within his grasp. The Goddess sings the truth of Lughnasadh and the harvest to come, as she slowly weaves the silver threads of Samhain into his golden mane...

...and Noone appeared.

I hoped that Noone would visit me often and I bought a tin of cat food, but that was the last I saw of the little creature, until last Sunday, when I was putting my first video together. I was thinking about Noone as I uploaded a photograph of the creature's beautiful green eyes...then...

Noone appeared around my kitchen door and burrowed it's head in my hand, purring and rolling on the floor by my feet. Noone stayed a while and then left, but not before turning and giving one last gaze with those beautiful green eyes and then leaving me with a smile.

(I shall wear it often)


ps: I've bought yet another tin of cat-food.

To read about my first visit from Noone, go to "Natural Spirit - Meeting Noone"

If your interested in natural spirituality, try and get a copy of "Paganism" by Vivianne Crowley. The Amazon link is here, they are temporarily out of stock - but order one in advance of the next consignment - it's a small, easy-to-read and beautifully written book (and it's only $12)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

a mooncake and simplicity


My Depression returned last Thursday. The weather in Glasgow didn't help much. It had been cold since our arrival and 'last Thursday' was the coldest night of all.

At times when I could fight with a feather, I head off to the nearest restaurant - there is nothing like good food and a bottle of red wine, to lift the spirit in moments of gloom.

Across the way from the theatre there stood a Japanese/Chinese emporium built in a curious circular shape, like an ancient temple - so I wrapped up (because it really was biting, with a hard, chilling wind) and shuffled over the mucky roadworks and through the queues of gridlocked tin boxes to the haven of peace and warmth at the other side.

(this is the third post I have made recently about crossing a road and reaching a door, to get to safety)

I was half-way through my meal, when the owner came over. "Oh", she said "I thought you were Chinese. "It's the way you eat."

I always use chopsticks and a rice bowl when I eat Chinese or Japanese food. I was taught by a dancer from China, in the late 70's and the habit has stuck. I find the food really does taste better when eaten with wooden chopsticks, rather than cold steel. I personally find plastic chopsticks have a synthetic feel. Simple wooden chopsticks - not lacquered, are the best for me - it's easier to grip food with them (and hold them).

Lin-Lin instructed me with regimental zeal...

"No! No!" - "Hold between thumb and first finger! Also pressing against second!.."

"Rice bowl Up! Up closer to mouth!"

"Now scoop!"


thirty years ago.


Before my Stonehenge Epiphany, I had a tendency to be a bit of a stand-offish old fogey  - especially if I was busy eating and thinking (and drinking) in a restaurant. Thankfully the magic of the old stone has remained and I now understand why I should try to make it there every year.

I still feel shy, but I like the warmth, when I reach out.


So I thanked the owner for her comments on my eating skills and (mistakenly?) told her that I was performing in the show opposite her rotunda. I could hear the strains of "There's No Business like..." as one by one I was introduced to the entire staff. Finally I was invited (dragged over) to join in the karaoke...



I declined.




It was a step too far. Even though I chunter through my "Jacob" lines each night "Joseph's Mother, she was quite my favourite wife..." The concept of Old Father Time (I'm 65 on the 25th) shaking his hips and singing "Is this the way to Amarillo?",  together and at odds with a backing-group of assorted waiters and cooks  - singing that chorus, over and over and over again to startled patrons (who had probably just seen me in the theatre) was too much to bear.

I had started to leave, when a waitress approached and handed me a fortune cookie. Most times, I leave them alone at the end of a meal - but the way it was offered to me, made me take it. There was nothing in the outward shape of the gesture, or the quiet voice - the dynamic message came from the impulse within.


"Open It!"


It wasn't a prediction, it was a statement of something I have always known, but occasionally forget...



"All together now!" "Is this the way to..."




Later in my hotel room, the magic started to fade. After all, it was only a fortune cookie wrapped in tin-foil...

...So I looked up 'fortune cookies' - surfed around and found "The History of Fortune Cookies."

"For many centuries the Chinese have marked special occasions and festival times such as harvest and New Year with the giving and receiving of Moon Cakes..."


A reminder from the Universe, sealed in a traditional Chinese Mooncake, seemed more plausible and substantial than a message on a slip of paper from a mass-produced cracker. 

It was the same message - but my spiritual snobbery was reluctant to admit it.


As I search for complications to justify my belief, I tend to ignore the obvious and simple.


The packaging around an object or a person,  has over-influenced me so many times.

I don't want to say 'too' many times, because I know that was my path.  

"in time of daffodils who know - the goal of living is to grow" ~ e.e. cummings


Happiness is a Fortune Cookie


The Chinese New Year is on the 26th

The year of the Ox






Monday, 22 September 2008

Our Harvest

The Autumn Equinox

Monday 22nd September

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the centre of the Sun will spend a nearly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth and night and day will be of nearly the same length. Wikipedia 

I imagine a wine glass beginning to ring as a finger is traced around the rim as the earth matures and the yellow of summer deepens, like a rich harmony, through orange, red and brown, towards the Harvest of the year.

I think of myself and I know that I am now an autumn-child.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Last Sunday, Liz and I were pottering around in her back garden when I noticed that the pear trees were in fruit. It made a lovely sight and as I tried to capture the moments of sunlight with my camera, Liz told me how the trees came to be planted.

In his last year, my father and mother came to terms with his approaching death, by celebrating life at every opportunity. My mother loved to travel and her compensation for having a hard childhood, was to take as many holidays as possible – even after Dad passed away, she would plan and book coach tours and sailings to as many places as possible – the more distant the location, the better.

Dad was very frail, but he had the stamina of a man that was used to a life of physical labour. He was also strong-willed enough to persuade his doctor that he was well and able to go on holiday to Italy with Christina. It was to be their last holiday.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My mother loved fruit, especially small sweet oranges and pears. She used to love the sort of pear that was so juicy, eating one would become extremely messy, so she kept a small kitchen knife in her bag when she went out on her jaunts, together with a good amount of tissues. She would walk along the river banks in Durham and ‘have a sit-down’ on a bench; there she would take out the pear and cut it into strips, which she would eat – her outdoor banquet was usually completed with a piece of chocolate. I think it would be fair to say that fruit and chocolate were her favourite foods.

Northern Italy is a magnet for people who love wine, cheese and pears and my mother and father had a lovely holiday. Although wine was not to her taste, she would have loved the cheeses and the fruit and when she returned to England, she brought back the ‘pips’ – the seeds of the pears she had eaten – and planted them in her garden.

side illustration The first contact Liz had with the trees that now stand, almost in a circle, between the flowers and bushes, was when Christina arrived, bearing the small shoots she had grown from the seeds she had wrapped in tissue and brought home.

It was a quiet and wonderful feeling to know that my mother had eaten the fruit from which the trees that surrounded us had been born.

The passage that follows is one of the most spiritual pieces of writing about trees I have ever read:

"In the growing season, life courses with ceaseless vigour through trees and shrubs; the impression of stillness on the outside belies the intense activity inside. Vast quantities of mineral-rich water flow upwards through the new wood, from the roots to the highest leaves. Sugar-rich sap descends through the phloem, from the leaves to all parts of the tree. All of this energy is expressed in the tree’s growth, in its flowers and fruit, in the seed which it produces in massive quantities. In effect, every tree or shrub is one of life’s richest energy banks, storing food in its tissues, eventually returning everything to the earth when it dies and decomposes, immeasurably enriching the soil in which it stood rooted all its life."  (Readers Digest - Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain)

I think of my mother and father and the richness they gave me and those around them.

The trees in Liz’s back-garden were full of their love.


My friend and fellow blogger, Robin Easton is trying to save a whole mountain range. She and Robb Kloss have only a few days to get enough signatures to save the Ruahines Mountain range in the southeastern part of the North Island of New Zealand.

Celebrating the seasons of this wonderful planet is a joy – to celebrate by saving not just the nine trees my mother brought back from Italy, wrapped in tissue, but a whole mountain range would be a fine way of giving thanks to nature for being part of it.

The harvest of our years is measured by how much we put in, compared with how much we take out.

My father passed away in my mothers arms. My mother adored him – and that was his harvest.


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Hold My Hand...

~"Hold my hand..."

Harlowe lent forward and gently closed his large square hand around the trembling fingers. He had felt a growing affinity with David, an affinity which at first he instinctively resisted, both as a professional man and also on a level he had no time - or so he told himself - to address at the present moment...

"...I have been waiting" she said firmly, with an unwanted smile playing on her lips

Hakon dismounted and studied the young face before him. Every excuse he could think of, flashed through his mind. Then he saw her eyes...

"I'm sorry" he said.

Her brown eyes flashed and twinkled with the stars, as he took the small hand offered to him.

"You're a Dreamer Hakon. You forget time as you stand the dream and think." She paused "And what do you think about?"

Brigid was jealous to be barred from any morsel of her lover, who stood reflected in her eyes like the shining god of the sun.

"What do you think of now"

Harlowe chose the word "thinking" with a rapid care - something told him to be careful of going to far, too quickly.

Her young face slowly broadened into a wide grin.

"I am thinking I love you"

he said.

Harlowe often found that he accompanied his subjects during their regression, often staying with them, like a disembodied voice or indeed a 'soul'. This time it was somehow more powerful.

"Who are you" Harlowe's question was as gentle as it was inquisitive.

"My name is Brigid"

'Another female incarnation' he thought - he looked at David - at the blue eyes and sandy-blonde hair,

"Where are you now?"


Harlowe could see from the corner of his eye, the sudden change of position as Petra leant toward her monitor screen. Then the rapid tap of the keyboard, followed by a silence as she waited for the information - then...

"Albeun was the ancient name of Great Britain, around the time of Jesus, or just after" her voice was bell-like and impassive.

There was something superior about Petra; "Damn superior" as the doctor would often mutter under his breath, as he watched her glide out of his office.

"If only she could be wrong - just once"

So David had regressed to the first century, he looked at his assistant - Petra's face was oval and glowing, like the silent-

-scream of the ripened moon and the blood on the wheat.

Her grandmother had said to her (old hands on young shoulders) that soon her blood would flow, to course down her thighs and give new life to the earth...

...and there it was at last - but all too soon, as Hakon appeared above the reddened wheat and became, all at once, both still and silent.

"Hold my hand, I am dying"...

..and yet there was a drama of youth around the frightened voice - and a slightly too careful gathering of the brown fustian skirt that hung almost to her ankles - a gathering that somehow contrived to show a knee that still bore the scars of young-rough games.

The nails cut through soft flesh

Hakon looked at her as she stood, below the sun and the moon, in the darkening blue of the sky.

She was all reddened eyes and sticky tears that mixed with the brown earth and the blood on her hands that she smeared across her face - like a prophecy of storm clouds.

The sun turned to fire, as it sank below the waves

"My sisters are older than me." said Hakon, smiling at the shy, burnished face.

And then - clouds of shame and anger and knowing and happiness. Then - and just - laughing and giggling and making love, in the blood and the earth and the ripening wheat - with the storm clouds raging through the stars, as they hurled and blustered across the impassive face of the harvest moon.

"Your hand is bleeding Dr. Harlowe." Petra held out a damp swab to wipe the blood from where Harlowe's nails had dug deep into his left palm. She looked at him...

"...and I will freeze within your eyes"

thought Hakon, as he finished explaining that he would only be gone for two moonths. Suddenly he decided to Decide...

"I will return on the second night the moon is full" he declared (looking so young and important)

Brigid knew the truth and lowered her proud head so very slightly

"Are you sure you will return?"

Her face was anxious as she looked up at her young "sol-barn"

"I am sure", he said, not knowing if he spoke the truth or a lie. It would not matter either way to the wild girl who would stand barefoot in the blustering cold of the island, by the sea's margin and wait for him. Wait for him for ever if needs be.

"Then I will stand at this place each month and I will wait for you."

She stood before him - an Angel from the Moon

"My woman" he said, as he knelt before her.

"My man" she whispered - her eyes full of eternity.

Harlowe quietly stood and stretched his legs. He turned and looked across at his young patient. David seemed to be changing, like one superimposed photograph upon another. Harlowe crossed the room and leaned over the couch, peering down at the drawn face below him.

David's eyes opened.

and they were brown.

A stern look from Petra steadied Harlowe, bringing him back...

"...Where are you Brigid"

"I am on my island"

Harlowe paused, took a deep breath and mouthed her answer as she replied


"Where?" repeated Harlowe

"Lyndysfarne! Lyndysfarne!"

David had vanished and a wild girl stared at him with wide brown eyes.

"Lyndysfarne, off shore from Bernicia."

Petra's fingers worked rapidly on the keyboard, then...

"Bernicia is the ancient name of Northumberland on the north-east coast of Britain and Lindisfarne, it's name unchanged by holiness and sanctity, is a small island no more than half a mile off-shore from the mainland"

It was perfect and yet unsettling for Harlowe. Each time Brigid would speak, he found the words forming in his mouth at the same time.

Harlowe sat back in his chair. "Dim the light Petra"

"I think I can see Lindisfarne."

The two lovers stumbled across the natural causeway back to the small island that could only be reached with the moon's permission and the tides abeyance.

"I will sail to the east as the sun rises"

"Norway lies to the East"

Petra's voice was as faint as an echo as Harlowe began to comprehend.

"Hold my hand"

Harlowe held tight onto Brigid's hand, but a force he could not explain drew him away from the couch. His fingers gripped, until the flesh above his knuckles turned white

"Don't go" she screamed

"I will come back" he shouted against the roar of the tide.

"Hold my hand"

Harlowe's grip finally broke and he staggered backward against the wall. He looked at the girl. She was reaching to him.

"Hold my hand" she screamed once more; then she tilted and fell, crumpling into a small sobbing ball on the floor by the couch.

Petra gently wiped the tears from Brigid's face as Harlowe crouched quite close, but with care,

for this was a wild spirit.

"Did Hakon return?" asked Harlowe, already knowing the answer

"No" said the old voice. "I journeyed to Lindisfarne every moonth, when the goddess was full with child. Each season passed and each year and each age. The island became my prison and through it's watery bars, the moon gazed at me from the infinity of her freedom, as my blood dried and my hair became woven with the silver threads of Samhain. But each moonth at midnight, I would walk onto the margin of the sea and reach out and shout to the sky and the waves and the serpent wind."

"Then one night I heard him. I heard him and I knew that Hakon was calling to me from the sea..."

"...Hold my hand."

Harlowe gently grasped the quivering hand

The moonlight reflected off Petra's oval face, as she stood in the shadows above them, gazing down as they knelt, with their eyes meeting and forming an endless corridor of reflections that curved and dipped below each of their horizons


"I have returned", he said.

20080731_Bournemouth 1st August 2008_0009

Text and photograph(c) soulMerlin/henry metcalfe


Monday, 21 July 2008

Natural Spirit ~ Meeting Noone


Natural Spirit ~ Meeting Noone

It is Midsummer and the Noone-Time of the Solstice has grown to the full heat of the afternoon sun. Leo stands rampant, with the orb of the earth and the sickle of Lammas within his grasp. The Goddess sings the truth of Lughnasadh and the harvest to come, as she slowly weaves the silver threads of Samhain into his golden mane...  

...and it's my 'day off' and time doesn't matter...                        (for a while)

noone1 ...I was on my third cup of coffee, when a little face appeared around the corner of my back-door.  Cats will always be feminine to me, no matter what their gender (except when they become the lion). My first instinct was to shoo the little beast away - but then I stopped - it might be nice to have a bit of company on a sunny afternoon.

So I poured a saucer of milk and pretended not to notice what 'his/her' response would be (rather too early for undercarriage inspection).



P7190557-1After a while I heard a tiny sound and I turned to see 'Noone' (as I shall call 'it') lapping away at the milk. The next stage was done with extreme care, as bit by bit, Noone stalked into the kitchen, looking at me with great intent, combined with a certain waryness.

Noone was asking me permission to enter - so I backed off and then turned and sent a quiet invitation. 

The intruder slowly entered...making a point of not looking at me (or the unwashed mugs)...

...It was a sheer delight to watch the investigation; Noone proceeded to  explore every inch of the downstairs rooms, prodding and sniffing and snorting...until eventually I became the target of a 'friendship overture'.

P7190562-2 Noone commenced the ritual by slowly pacing around my feet in a circle and then began to wind around my legs, being very careful not to touch them. Cats have a wild and primitive vibration and I could feel the quiver of it as Noone continued the slow-motion Farandole. The ritual dance eventually came to an end.

Noone looked at me...It was my turn to take the lead once more and my carefully offered palm soon had Noone's furry head burrowing into it.

The Farandole re-commenced at a fast pace, with new touching and brushing movements added to the dance - until eventually  Noone  turned toward the door and padded back into the sunlight.


It was then I realised just how long it had been since I'd heard and felt a cat purr.




I won't miss Noone if there is no return visit...





...but just in case




(think of what I'd have missed if I'd just said "Shoo!")


noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

E.E. Cummings





Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part 2 'The Player'

The Miracle of the Solstice

Part 2 - The Player


So I returned and pushed my way through the crowds and under the massive stone arch, until I found myself at the edge of the inner circle of stones.

P6200206-2P6200180   No sooner had I managed to get back into the central arena, than an enormous roar burst from the crowd. It was wild - the whole of the central arena was now packed full and the sound of drums, flutes, and horns, together with  chanting and singing was deafening.

My first thought was to get out again, but that was impossible as everyone was now trying to reach the centre of the stone circle.

Then I realised that I had managed to time my re-entrance exactly at the moment of sunrise. It was 4.58am and it could have been the 12th chime of midnight on New Year's Eve, except for the fact that it was dawn and in the middle of summer - and except the fact that it was louder and wilder. I began to worry about falling and being trampled underfoot;  "Watch where you're going!" Someone had cannoned into me from behind and my loud yell came as much from fear as anger. A single voice answered my outburst "Lighten up Man!

P6200190The voice was right - I was behaving like a grumpy old man. What did I really want? I thought that I had wanted to find a natural spirituality about the Solstice and Stonehenge and yet there I was in full-critical mode: "There's no supervision" "Where are the police?" "What about the damage to the stones?" Yet there was a part of me that knew deep down that my 'full-critical mode' was simply a smoke-screen for my own tendency to draw back from being too involved with other people - that and a tendency to be rather timid in team games and athletic activities.

hedgewitch fluteI remembered how I learnt to swim; I was around 9 yrs old and I was standing by the side of the school swimming pool, afraid of the cold blue water and yet desperate to be able to swim. It took the school bully and a hard push between my shoulder-blades to turn my dream into a reality - I swam.

I got the message, so I literally jumped in and joined the flow. Like the Fool in the Major Arcana, I had stepped into the unknown and now the pageant of the wheel of life turned - and I was a part of it.

P6200197  At the exact centre of the ancient stone circle, a group sat around a drum, taking it in turns to keep the heartbeat going. A beat that was echoed by other drummers around the perimeter of the site. There were flutes, tambourines and even a 'digeridoo' together with a rhythmic chanting that filled the arena. The whole effect was like an open-air club or disco or rave, with scenes being played out on natural sandstone podiums -



P6200215-3cold steam at stonehengeA hedge witch played a flute to her young friend, an orgiastic scene was played out, together with a man dressed (or undressed) as a Satre - it was only when I waved and shouted a greeting at the group and got the most vivid smile in response that I realised that they were indeed playing out a scene of life, just as if they were a carnival float, turning in the wheel.


the altar and the priestessThen I saw the Priestess and her followers -  It was total theatre and the thought that  "It must have looked something like this - 6000 years ago." kept turning in my head as I viewed the living tarot around me. 

I hope and pray that Stonehenge is never taken from Salisbury Plain, to be transplanted in a different landscape, or for her eroding sandstone to be parched in the sterile air of a museum. Today Stonehenge lived again once more.



P6200188-4The Priestess had an amazing presence. I have worked with many fine actresses and the same qualities of command poise and charisma radiated from her remarkable face. I wondered what she did in her 'everyday' life Who was she really? I corrected myself: Maybe this was who she really was.

The Summer Solstice is the joining of masculine and feminine - of the Yin and the Yang. The union of male and female was and is at the tap-root of paganism, both physically and spiritually. Midsummer is the time of the male solar hero, as indeed was King Arthur of legend. Arthur fought against the forces of evil and darkness and Camelot was his Valhalla or Heaven. But every King must have a Queen and the Reign of the Sun God occurs during the astrological period of Cancer. The sign of Cancer is ruled by the Moon and is the most feminine sign of the zodiac.


the goddess and her consort2

So they are wed - the Sun God and the Moon Goddess. Midsummer or Litha is a time for both men and women to recognise the 'other' within them - the true fusion of male and female. 


P6200218-1 I felt I was in the middle of the wheel of life, with scenes of humanity, from the  base  to the sacred played out in front of me. Then I realised that I was smiling broadly and something seemed to change (and I think forever) inside of me and click into a different gear. I have always been shy and a little aloof, but I started to run up to people and yell "Everyone's Smiling" and the answer was always the same ~ "Yes!" ~ "Everyone is smiling!" I found myself shouting it again and again - always to the same reply.

the disciples

Then I laughed...because everyone was laughing.

happy crone


P6200230"Celebrate Solstice time with other Pagans -- take part in the Pagan Spirit Gathering or some other Pagan festival happening during June. Keep a Sacred Fire burning throughout the gathering. Stay up all night on Solstice Eve and welcome the rising Sun at dawn. Make a pledge to Mother Earth of something that you will do to improve the environment and then begin carrying it out. Have a magical gift exchange with friends. Burn your Yule wreath in a Summer Solstice bonfire. Exchange songs, chants, and stories with others in person or through the mail. Do ecstatic dancing to drums around a blazing bonfire." - Selena Fox, "Summer Solstice"~ from ~ Circle Sanctuary

    P6200154-1"From prehistoric times, the summer solstice has been a joyous event marked by elaborate rituals, bonfires, dancing, and fervent prayer. The word "solstice" literally means "the sun is caused to stand still." On this day, which falls on the 21st of June, the daytime hours are at a maximum in the Northern hemisphere, and the noontime sun reaches it's highest point in the sky." ~ by Simi Brown

Today (and tomorrow) is the celebration of the Summer Solstice*, also known as Midsummer, or Litha. It is at this time that the Northern Hemisphere is tilted closest to the sun (the opposite being true for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere). It is a time of fertility and celebration: bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and outdoor festivals have been traditional during this time for most of human history. ~ The Wild Hunt



goat hornAfter Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In many parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

"In North America, many Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Usually performed during the June solstice, preparations for the dance included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night)." ~ more from ~ Time and Date

glowing lady


"I will worship to my own natural creed. I will worship by my own natural instinct"

"I will never forget the miracle of the solstice"






all photography (c) soulMerlin

The Stonehenge Trilogy

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part One "The Spectator"

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part Two "The Player"

The Miracle of the Solstice ~ Part Three "The Biggest Joy"

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Flowers Love and Re-incarnation

30yr bluebells 300pix We are in early summer or Beltane, the mid-morning of the Pagan wheel of the year and the re-incarnation of plant, animal and human life is all around us. Beltane or early summer commences on the last day of April and runs through to Midsummer (noon) on June 21/22nd. If you want to learn more about Paganism, which is an umbrella term for the ancient religions of the world, including those of the North American Indian, you could do much worse than order a copy of "Paganism" an excellent handbook by Vivianne Crowley - However, this short summary of Paganism by  "Pagan Awareness" should give you a general background and if your appetite is whetted after reading it, then go to: and get a copy. I note that amazon is doing used versions for as little as £1-80p (around a dollar) It is a beautifully written little book and really well illustrated.

Small-Game Hunting in the Grove

Surprise surprise, Sunday morning was filled with soft sunlight and I decided to grab my camera and go 'small game hunting' amongst the garden flowers. My first capture was a bee who promptly stuffed his head right inside the cup-shaped head of a Mimosa flower.

The Mimosa Flower

"The Mimosa is a name for about 400 species of plant that includes the Venus Fly Trap and can be found in many parts of Bengal, where it is known as lajjabati (literally a shy female) In Russia, Italy and other countries it is customary to present women with yellow mimosas (among other flowers) on International Women's Day (March 8)." Wikipedia.

There do seem to be less bees around than last year, but this one (happily for me) seemed to have no table manners and stayed in position grove header for flowers post 300pixgulping away for at least a minute, which have me ample time to capture him. I was so pleased with the shot that I've made it my Summer Grove header - It's my first attempt at a header and the clock gets in the way a bit, but click on the small version to the right and go to the Grove home page to see the full effect.

The way I approach my small-game stalking is to see which flower, bush or shrub seems to be the most popular and position myself comfortably near, with my camera zoomed and focussed on a bloom or cluster which looks good on my LCD screen and then wait patiently until my prey alights on it. I chose a rather attractive cluster of a wild flower called 'Honesty' - very popular in Victorian times and waited for a harvesting bee. (and waited)

almanack fly for flowers post 350pix I was just about to give up and go indoors for a cup of tea, when a small fly decided it would be nice to have it's photograph taken and landed 'just right' - I didn't need to move at all, I just pressed the shutter and there it was, my Summer Almanack header -            (click on the small example above to go to the Almanack)      

bumble-bee-and-periwinkleI then moved on to my current garden favourite the 'Periwinkle'.   The centre of the flower has a perfect pentagonal shape, but also the five petaled construction of the bloom, slightly offset to the centre, also resembles a pentagon, especially if you imagine a line drawn around the entire flower, petal to petal. This time, no bees turned up and so I've re-published a picture I took last year, when the garden seemed to be always full of bees. Go to Wikipedia to read more about Periwinkles.


Bluebells are my favourite wild flower, perhaps because I have happy childhood memories of my mother and father and myself, picking armfuls of the beautiful long-stalked blooms and taking them home to Riverside House where we lived near the boathouse. Although I find cut flowers a bit sad in that they are razored from the  life force that has formed and sustained them, my parents couldn't afford to buy flowers and so the sight of the whole house filled with clusters of bluebells was a treat for all of us. One cluster of bluebells particularly attracted me and Liz reminded me that my son had picked them over thirty years ago, when he was a little boy and she had planted them in the garden. There they were, a natural example of re-incarnation - just right for the "Flowers and Scorpions" header above. Go to Wikipedia to read more about this beautiful flower.

My son visits...

One of the downsides of a touring theatrical life, is that it can wreak devastation on any chance of a family life.  When my son was around 11yrs old, he turned to me during one of my one-day weekend visits and asked me to stay with him all the time. I tried to explain to him that it was part of my working life and that if I gave up my work to be with him, I would not be able to earn enough to keep us going and that I would have to give up theatre work and return to teaching.My decision to continue with choreography and performance was something that has shaped us both over the last 29yrs - no matter how I phrased my answer to my only son, it was clear that 'the theatre' had won.

Although I think I can see the 'big picture' it is also clear to me that the old adage "what you sow, so shall you reap" is simple and accurate. My son has become a busy architect and family man and quite often I ache to see him, but his Sundays are full of taking care of his family and I am most times, just too far away to get to him or my two grandchildren. I was therefore rather excited when Liz my ex-wife said that he had rung and was popping over to see us for a couple of hours, before we set off for Durham....

henry and elizabeth taken by andrew...I was just transferring the shots onto my computer and I had managed to upload the first header "The Grove" when he turned up. He was impressed with my shots and took over my laptop to download a whole series of pic's of his family. I am still amazed that Liz and I are grandparents twice over and we had a great time looking at them. I felt rather like the 30 yr old bluebells; I could see myself in my son's gestures and mannerisms and I could also see the eternal part of myself within my two grandsons.

Liz and I were due to leave for Durham and my son also had to meet up with his family, so after a really enjoyable couple of hours, he set off in the car....only to return five minutes later to take a photograph of us both, which he later sent to me with the caption "Happy People".

All I can say is that we were looking at the reason for our happiness.

(please note that most photographs and red lettering are active links - click and go. :)