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

Thursday, 29 November 2012

frost, mineral hearts, green hair & slugs...

The field and orchard are thick with frost crunching under our feet, just after nightfall. Dog is delighted – barking and bounding, remembering perhaps how her companion, Hess, exulted in frost and snow (Ash was always the quieter one when Hess was alive). There's a plump and delicious full moon like a gold coin, deep and rosy-gold, just pushing in between the ash trees, now bare, on the opposite hillside. Is it Jupiter just beside her, and Venus further west? The brook, swollen with all the flood water, murmurs away below us, and suddenly a tawny owl takes off just over my head from the oak tree at the field margin, and close by a pheasant clacks in alarm.

This morning was so exquisite I wanted to walk for hours – such a dramatic change from this time last week. The lanes around us though are hilly and deep-hedged, so they were also treacherously icy on the slopes. Away to the south over a little patch of moorland above Moreleigh a tag of morning mist was streaming up in the new warmth; in the east someone had lit a bonfire, so a white twist of smoke coiled up into the blue.

Flocks of migrant blackbirds and redwings are feasting in the hedgerows – others seem to have had a poor berry harvest, but ours is good here. Already the hazel catkins have appeared, and my witch hazel in its pot is pushing out fat buds. And – how I love the opportunity to say this phrase! – already, too, the ashes have put forth their sooty apical helispheres. It's hard to see the ash trees without feeling a tremor of anxiety.


I'm close friends with the animal and plant kingdoms. Seems I'm reacquainting myself with the mineral world. It started (again) with my dear friend H sending me two beautiful small agate hearts that she'd chosen for me in Lisbon after she'd heard the news of my protesting physical heart. I fell in love immediately with the green one (green is the colour of the heart chakra in some Eastern systems) – a kind of vibrant deep-pale-goldy-green, almost the colour of new beech leaves, and put a silver pin through the hole in its axis and hung it round my neck the same hour it arrived. I loved wearing it, and felt symbolically it was speaking to and strengthening my heart, too. Then after a month of wearing it 24/7 I lost it and was gutted – long story, but after hours of searching and phone calls and frantic and shameful trying to track down (without success) one the same on the internet so that I wouldn't have to admit to H that I'd lost it, a lovely guy from Riverford rang me to say someone had found it in their car park. Phew.

And, still on minerals, after a lot of research it occurred to me that I might be magnesium deficient – quite a common deficiency that could explain a number of my symptoms. (Mind you, so could stress, burnout and exhaustion.*) I'm currently using a pure form of magnesium that one sprays on the body – more easily absorbed than tablets. Worth checking that out, perhaps – it can account for a number of things, including severe back ache that doesn't respond to anything else... It needs to be in balance with calcium for both to work efficiently in the body, and more often than not it isn't.

And then, copper. A couple of days ago, after all that flooding, I noticed that the basin was staining green immediately, just hours after I'd cleaned it. Then I noticed that my hair has (present tense!) a greenish tinge to it. Very fetching, I thought first. Then: Help! Something's got into the watercourse. Once I became aware of that, I also noticed I'd had a strong metallic taste in my mouth for a day or two (though of course that could be a reading-a-medical-encyclopaedia-type-effect). I mentioned my hair to a friend who mentioned it to a friend who came back immediately and said 'Stop drinking the water. Sounds like there's a high acid content in your water and your pipes are leaching copper.' We're on a borehole and on slate bedrock, and I am imagining that with all these floods some run-off, possibly contaminated (that's a long story too), has capillaried through the sedimentary layers of slate to fill the aquifers faster than we thought it could.

So I'm googling copper toxicity and finding that some things I do suffer from – insomnia, headaches, constant tiredness, racing mind/anxiety – can be explained by a copper imbalance (see * above). As I'm a vegetarian it seems that I'm already likely to have fairly high copper levels (and vegans are off the chart) – whoa! – here's the encyclopaedia effect again. All of the above can be explained by many other things besides the biochemical – and the human being is after all a series of interconnected and interleaved levels and aspects of being, which all have subtle impacts on each other. Interesting, though, that one of the sites, that of a naturopath, suggests that there is also a copper 'type' – a rather Venusian creative over-sensitive kind of person, 'curvy rather than lean', who can be prone to anxiety. In esoteric thinking, Venus' metal is copper, and Venus rules the sign of Libra – and – guess what?

So, hello mineral kingdom. Meantime, we're getting the water tested and I am extremely reluctantly buying water in plastic containers – it's that or go thirsty, and at least it's local Dartmoor water; but not so local they'll have the same problem.


An addendum to the Co-operative plug: I meant to say that the Co-op has its own farms, on which welfare standards are apparently high. Plus it has PlanBee. A dharma friend says: 'You maybe aware that supporting Britain's bees and other pollinators has been a major campaign for the Co-operative for the last few years. So if groups are seeking funding to create bee-friendly environments you can apply for funding from the Co-operative Membership Community Fund.

'In the past I have sent a large quantity of wild flowers seeds to Holy Isle on the Firth of Clyde and worked with a nearby school to create a wild flower meadow.'


And finally: the little miracles of friendship. 'An anonymous friend' has sent me a delightful book: Feeding Orchids to the Slugs – tales from a Zen kitchen ( What a heartwarming surprise! And I don't know who. There are all sorts of connections here, including the fact that the author of the book, Florencia Clifford, cooks at Maenllwyd Buddhist retreat centre in Wales where my Zen teacher teaches, though I've never been. Because of the Zen and the slugs it's either someone who knows me well, and/or it's one of you beloved blog readers. Whoever you are, a warm thank you and a deep bow to you across the miles – you brought a big smile to my lips.

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