Sunday, 28 November 2010

A Glittering Realm

Under the light of the lantern the world glistens and shimmers in stillness as if walking a frozen moment in time. The moon sits within a cloudless sky with scatterings of stars to adorn the distant heavens. Not even the gentlest of breezes troubles the light branches of the hedgerows. The energies of a quiet early winters night are subtle but powerful. The heat from my hands and face is stripped away by the void beyond the world and the warmth from my breath momentarily clouds the air in front of me before vanishing into the blackness.

The allure of fire and moving forces may be dramatic but within this stillness is a huge elemental and quiet power. Living energies begin to return to source and seed to cope. For now, winter will give the branch and leaf a statuesque illuminance for the tree to bear until the warmth of spring brings forth the new growth from the root and seed.

Life has an ebb and flow. I will do my best to enjoy the ebb of winter. Not with the exuberance and excess of summer but with the a contained warmth gained from autumns labours. For me winter is a time for reflection and conservation.

Friday, 26 November 2010

A Misfit in the Palace of Commercialism

Way beyond being bathed in light, I sat in the glare of the overhead white tubes. Around me was colour, every aspect of the interior shouted for my attention. Posters, packaging, advertising and menu boards filled the spaces. Dropped from the ceiling was the usual array of commercial christmas decorations and the continual blaring chimes of festive tunes assaulted the ears and raised the level of conversation from talking to a debate so that all within earshot could listen, regardless of desire.

With my hearing and eyesight overloaded with information I focused on my breathing to enlighten my senses of taste and smell. I would have expected a restaurant to be filled with the aroma of cooking food to the point of salivation, but not so. Hot oil dominated my nostrils but there were other scents below the surface and after a moment I recognised them. Cleaning products portrayed the staffs continual efforts to maintain standards after the spills and discards of careless patrons, the body odour of those a few tables away was also evident, but not overpoweringly so. I lifted my black coffee to my face to help mask the scents and cast my eyes around again. I was aware of the usual half glances and considerations directed at me. Not fitting the usual customer profile was bound to draw some attention. My worn foot ware with snagged and tired clothing show the miles I cover but in no way give the image of the family type or workman. I passed a smile and a few pleasantries with the lady clearing the tables, the friendlier side of my nature seemed to help put a few people at their ease.

Once I drained my cup I packed up and slipped out of the door. In the twilight the moon was there to greet me. Clear air cooled my face and began to cleanse my nose of the oils and chemicals. The soft light soothed my eyes and the hum of the near by traffic seemed a whisper compared to the music from within. I glanced around to see the people through the window, against the growing darkness they seemed to be lit up like a stage show, from excited children running around and standing on the seats to the under forties chewing and chatting loudly.

I turned into the new night. "Merry Christmas" I thought.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Bard by the Fireside

The crackling fire and the circle of seats entices the storyteller to fill the air with tales to dance with the imagination. A gentle light within the circle and a quiet anticipation of the opening words sets the scene  and calls to the mind of the listener. The teller of the tale may have many ways to portray the story and many lessons and experiences to impart, but the silence and anticipation before the all so crucial first words is a deafening noise to the ready listener.

To truly listen to the bard is to open your mind to the influence of the tale and to know the motive of the bard is important to the perception of the tale. A bard by their nature should be capable of relaying their own perceptions and beliefs of a subject, to portray the words and meanings of others well, will ask a great deal of faith and belief from the bard to the words they will borrow. The teller who chooses to tell their own tale or version will betray much of their own inner self and risk showing their flaws, perceptions and prejudice. Such a teller is a brave soul indeed when it comes to imparting the lessons and meanings behind their own tales.

The bard and the tale is only a part of the show. The listener it seems holds the key to the success of the tale. The mismatch of the bard and listener will distort the spirit of the tale, but success will result in learning both for the listener and the bard. In this instance I suggest the spirit of the tale grows within the minds and actions of all there. The modern bard will speak to us through many forms; the book, the song and the show. But the essence of their work remains the same.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Freedom of Sleep

From the cool breath of the nights breeze after a summers day to the gentle warm embrace of the winter fire embers, the onset of sleep is the contrast to bring balance to the waking world. The body and conscious mind gives way to the tumbling complexity of the subconscious, here the lowest of peasants can become a king or see the world from closed eyes in glorious colours and emotions. Thoughts and fears can give way to euphoria or can deepen to the point of near madness setting the sleeping body running, kicking and twitching.

The protections we afford the body in the form of fours walls or the company of the pack or tribe are no protection to the turmoil of the subconscious and the release in dreams. So what do we see in those deepest of hours, a guilty mind seeking its release, the formation of a gentle message or sights of splendour to lift the spirit on the waking edge before we return control to the conscious world.

We all take the gamble of sleep and seek freedom within ourselves for a while at least. With luck we will find our bodies well rested and our minds full of learning as we wake.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Transition of Material

The history of development are laid out before me as I walk darkened streets, passing through the historical town centers with their surviving georgian and victorian buildings, through the industrial areas and the surrounding housing estates and out into the countryside where I feel most comfortable.

Here the traditional buildings possess quirks and features that tie them to the surroundings. The best of them show craftsmanship that is borne of the natural materials and skills of the area. The grain of the wood with its imperfections and pegs, the lime render and the roof tiles and stones from local quarries. To walk back into the built up areas it becomes obvious where commercialism and the power of oil takes hold. Mass produced bricks, tiles and windows with timbers brought from afar. Pressed and shaped into standard sizes and units, all so easy to assess and work. 

Little wonder that those who dwell in such an area have lost a connection to locality and its resources. Mass production and transport seems to call from every corner. Even through the ornaments and pictures that decorate the walls and expensive cars in the driveways. Once we are beyond the influence of oil it makes me wonder if future generations will look upon these places with the same regard we have for aging properties and areas now. It seems that the connection to some areas is gained through the sports teams and apparent affluence rather than the ecology, the landscape and the longer history. Those that do retain an integrity have done so because of aspects of the picturesque and have evolved into places where the wealthy are best placed to buy acquire a property.

I will return to my modest hovel and try to use what I can to give comfort and enrichment to life. Perhaps with time and practice I will carve something that may inspire others to look beyond apparent wealth.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Fly by Night

Step by step I could feel my every move falling under the scrutiny of eyes that see clearly even in the darkest of hours. I lifted my gaze from the track to the shaded form of overhanging branches set against the night sky. My observer sat among them silently watching. As if indignant of the disturbance the shape raised to a full height, wings were outstretched and the night air carried the owl away into the darkness. The branches barely shuddered by the owls movement and the silence of a still night was utterly uninterrupted. I considered it my good fortune to be looking in the right direction at the moment of take off, otherwise I would have missed the sight completely.

I carried on with my dog pack through the trees and tracked the edge of the woodland clearing. The still cool air crackled with the sound of the dogs paws in the undergrowth and occasional snuffling as they tested the air for scents and traces of life. Of a sudden the silence was shattered by an alarm call and the rattling of wings against branch and briar. Excited the dogs jockeyed for position to take a snap at the pheasant as he rose from the undergrowth disorientated and blind with panic in the blackness. He crashed into small trees at the clearing edge before clumsily landing on a branch only a couple of feet away from me.

The huntsman would have been blessed with an easy meal if he had been in my position, the bird could have been plucked from the branch by hand. Luckily for the pheasant I had no intention of taking him for the pot and I remained still to allow the silence to return and let the dogs to settle. The bird remained unconcerned by my gentle movements and sat tight as I moved away, leaving him to face the night again. All I took with me was the lesson of a creature being caught unaware and out of his element.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Mill Pond Under the Autumn Moon

As the nights draw colder for the oncoming winter months, frost gently touched the plants and cold earth before us. We walked the well trodden dark pathways and enjoyed the brief sight of our breath in the cool air. As the texture beneath our feet changed we stopped to take in our surroundings.

The wooden boards of the bridge were almost slippery in the frost underfoot and the cold of the rails stripped the warmth from fingers. In front of us the gentle mirror of the mill pond took on the deep blue hues of night and dark shadows of the trees at its banks. Only an occasional ripple disturbed the still clear reflection of the crescent moon, the winds took their leave, troubling other lands and most of the clouds had long since deserted this nights sky, leaving only a few to remain and hang in the light.

For a while we drank in the near perfect silence and stillness of the view. The only reminder of time and the passing of elements was the gentle tumbling of the mill weir some way behind us and the ghost like white swans on the water effortlessly gliding by borrowing the moonlight and bringing light to the shadow.

I opened my mind to the scene and felt the living energies and the distant celestial forms and forces. In that moment it felt like the quiet and near silence was roaring. The thoughts and disruptions of modern life ceased to be, there was only the feeling of the bridge sitting among the powerful elements in a segment of time.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

An Audience of Leaves

November can be an stunning time in the woods and fields after dark. The onset of the colder weather will often drive people inside to a night with their central heating and television, with the occasional night walkers from the warm summers evenings taking such refuge I am left alone with the night and the growing strength of the winds.

The paths and trails are often more treacherous as the leaves cover the sodden earth so I find it is more important to stop and take a little time to soak in the surroundings. The shifting moonlight caused by clouds racing across the crescent moon creates a dimming and glowing of the trees. Leaves raise on the winds as they flow and eddy among the undergrowth, shifting among my feet or clattering into my body and face as if disapproving of the choice of pathway into the wind. The roaring of the wind through the empty branches can be deafening one moment and drop to curious silence the next.

Strange that the fallen leaves take on a new life and energy in the Autumn, they mark the passing of time and elements before settling into the earth to help bring new life through the seasons. Much like our own thoughts and actions, they can be carried well away from the source and with luck will help bring new life and fresh energy elsewhere.

(thanks to Winterette for inspiration for this post).

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Illuminance in a Gallows

Suspended above a vacant car park is a spot of desolate illuminance shuddering against the darkness. Unnecessary and unmaintained it drains energy and performs no purpose. The housing is rusted and outdated, its location is poor and the glass shade is clouded and holds rainwater captive obscuring what little light it can provide. The barely visible glow is not even appealing to the moths who seek light with energy and vigour, but it remains holding onto an existence that was never been of value.

In many ways it is not the sight of the lamp that saddens me, but the parallels that can be drawn with some of the people that I meet.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

On Reflection

I realised during early years of teaching that one of the best ways to learn is to copy. All creatures have an incredible capacity to copy and it is a trait that is buried deeply into the subconscious, so much so that people are often unaware they are following, learning and being influenced.

The surroundings are also something that will greatly effect the behaviour of an individual. During an evenings wandering I may well be treated to the sight of reflections in dark pools, being close to nature I find this soothing. I also walk areas that are built up, badly laid out and have a tense atmosphere. It is hardly surprising that some people who dwell and are brought up in such an area can become part of the social problems that permeate it or alternatively they will make it their objective to rid themselves of the problems and either leave or seek influence that will grant them a position of apparent power of respect. Some will of course simply keep their head down and try to survive.

The effects of influence and reflection can simple and subtle to begin with (especially if you are constantly in the middle of them). They can however build and become consuming. To question your own motives and influences is not always easy and deep thought and questioning is often not encouraged unless the likely outcome benefits those who control the environment.

For me, I will take my inspiration from nature and be mindful of the spirits of influence and reflection in others. With care, awareness & observation I should be able to learn lessons from others without straying from my own purposes.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Passing By

Those who wander will know well the feeling of letting go of problems. Wandering is in many ways a form of connection for me, no doubt my ancestors would have travelled to suit the harvests and migratory patterns of animals. The passing of people and animals across the face of the earth would have been like a living energy moving in time with the seasons. Wandering would surely give a chance to leave behind problems and the promise of the new prospects in the next place.

I suspect much of this is buried deep inside my subconscious and leaves me with a feeling of tapping into new energy as I travel, even if it is only to walk a large circle and return home. It is rare for me to meet other wanderers as I physically move around, but it is good to know of others who do the same through modern communication. I have learned so much from many a fellow traveller and look forward to reading of their own experiences.

There does seem to be an art to wandering. Any fool can move from one place to another, a true traveller or wanderer will learn as much as they can on the way. Not only about the world but about themselves.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Merchant, The Nobleman & The Thief

I ask your indulgence for a moment to allow me to paint a picture within your mind.

Centuries ago the woods in these parts were a place of caution, law and order was held mainly within the towns and cities. The countryside could be a wilder place where the thieves and those of ill repute could find refuge. It was said that folk found guilty of a crime could be sent beyond the pale. The pale was a boundary between civilisation and the wilderness, to send someone beyond it was banish them and deprive them of civilisation.

During hard times many honest folk would be forced to do what they must to survive, doubtless many would have taken jobs of little reward, or risked activities that could mean banishment (or worse) in their attempts to make ends meet. It is also worth considering that many who lived the habitual life of crime would have the same fate.

Within the walls of a town the merchants and noblemen would sit as safely as they could manage. The manipulation of law, politics and the power of money would be their tools in the game of survival. The populous would be the pawns in the games they played.

As the centuries have passed in some respects it seems that little has changed. By sleight of hand, force of arms/a dagger in the darkness or manipulation of word, the games continue. So who would you trust; The merchant, the nobleman or the thief. It seems they are alike in many ways.

The illusion of honesty and respectability remains a mask for many in society, to be slow to trust gives time to question the motives of those who seek to gain favour. With little apparent influence and material value I find I have also time to watch and learn the game played against other more seemingly more respectable folk.