from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 9 November 2012

being nowhere; and other nations

In the field the cherry clatters its leaves and lets drop another handful. The light breeze spins the beech leaves – at last they recognise autumn, and have turned intense chartreuse, amber, russet. 

I pick a few more beans to pod (a meagre harvest this year) for the freezer: beautiful red and green borlotti, creamy pea beans with a chestnut nub, jewel-green flageolets. 

The fox disappears over the bank as Dog and I come up the slope; sits in a splinter of sun surveying the valley from the ochre hillside next door.

The stream rushes in the valley. A raven passes over. Yesterday, twice, a snipe flew very low over my head – I've only ever seen a couple in my whole life. In shamanic thinking, if an animal appears three times in quick succession in dream or in waking time, it may be a spirit animal for the human to whom it appears. I'm waiting for a third visit from Snipe. I need to learn its habits.

And in this enforced lull in my work I'm allowing in new possibilities. One certainty is that in one way or another I'm resurrecting my deep lifelong connection with the Horse tribe; daughter and self will in some way be incorporating horse wisdom into our work. They have, after all, horses, accompanied humans for so many millennia, usually badly exploited as slaves, or in war. We need to remember a different relationship with horse (indeed all animals) as equal, as teachers, as carrier of wisdom, as healers, even, for the fractured human psyche in its disconnected state.

I'm remembering this most wonderful quote from that most inspiring book The Outermost House, by Henry Beston (thank you, Barry Oleksak, for that gift all those years ago):

'When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of our very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity.

'We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.'

This morning, I can stop on the bench at the top of the field under the cerise and orange spindle tree berries. I can simply slow to the rhythm of the day. I can watch the unfolding of the 'splendour and travail' of the earth.

 Nowhere to get to; nowhere to go. 'Without going out of my door I can learn the whole world.'

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