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

Saturday, 8 December 2012

724 days on...

I've been writing this blog for nearly two years, now.  I've just revisited my first blog in December 2010 (no doubt you can count as well as I can!) and am reflecting, briefly, on what made me start blogging – other than the (metaphorical) sound of my own voice, that is.

My first post was pretty well unthought-through – unfortunately, like much of my life, I also blog by the seat of my pants. When I started, I hadn't decided on a specific direction for my posts; they were to reflect what was going on for me as a person, a writer and a course and retreat leader working in the fields of creativity, psychology and ecopsychology, and spirituality.

After two years, glancing back at the first blog, it does set a certain tone.

The most enduring 'tone' is a keynote of wildlife observation. Someone said to me the other day that she noticed I was most closely 'myself' when out in, or writing or speaking of, the natural world. This is a continual thread for me in my life: it is immersion in the natural world that undoubtedly saves my sanity, especially at times when I feel a level of despair and distress at how we live, and the suffering the human species inflicts on the rest of the world, human and otherwise.

Right now, today, in this amazing gift of a clear sunny winter's day, the (illegal) hunt is in the valley, and I fear for the young foxes who have an earth in the top copse in our field and sit out in the next door field sunning themselves in their bright columns of air. Since the local harriers also draw the field next door, I also fear for the very small colony of hares we have nearby – one of which, happily, I spotted the other day, having not seen any of them for some months.

Speaking of these animals, one of my very favourite artists is Catherine Hyde, who paints beautiful mythic landscapes graced by hares, foxes, owls; see her range of paintings, prints and cards at I'm not sure if it's OK to display some of her card images here, but I'll try it. Look at these! I'm saving up for a print or painting! (Catherine, if you visit and want me to remove them, do say.)

Catherine Hyde:

For me, how I live, and what I write about, even when it's poetry, usually has a 'political', sometimes polemical, content to one extent or the other. In that first post I was also protesting at the wars that have so far dogged this new century (millennium). Of course, nothing has changed there, really; there's Syria, there's Palestine, there's the USA's and Israel's continued muttered threats of military action in relation to Iran's nuclear facilities, there's Egypt... Our militaristic attitude has its roots in notions of 'power over', acquisition, dominance and conquest – fear, really. My comments on this, in one way or another, have underpinned some of my posts.

My current political activity is to do with amassing and putting out as much info as I can on badgers and their reputed (but disputable) connection with bovine TB. The Government appears now to have handed responsibility for badger control in England to the farmers' union, the NFU; this makes a cull, and a cull sooner rather than later, even more likely. The badger is an iconic species, and the case against it has been distorted by knee-jerk reactivity and misinformation. If we take the route of the cull, at least 70% of the badger population will need to be killed. I have a great deal to say on this, and will do so soon. Along with Ama Menec, who has started a badger vaccination action group in Totnes (TBVAC) I spoke on local radio yesterday, making the case for badger vaccination as an alternative to the cull. (Ama is a local sculptor, focusing on British wildlife with mythic overtones to her work, too; if you live nearby, she'll be showing at Birdwood House in Totnes from Sunday December 16th, with her partner's beautiful ceramics. and

I'll be posting much more about all this, but here's an uplifting little clip (you'll need to paste this into your browser as I've failed to upload the link): 
(look for Taking badgers on a walk)
The owner of a conservation centre for badgers takes her charges for a walk before feeding time. Taken from the show 'Lost Badger' available at FirstScience...

While I'm on the natural world, and if you haven't yet found all your Christmas presents, I want to add to the ones above an inspiring present for someone who is committed to the wild and enjoys excellent writing in relation to it: what about a subscription to EarthLines magazine? This is brilliantly edited by my friend Sharon Blackie, who with her husband David crofts in the Hebrides and publishes this journal and books under their Two Ravens Press. I don't know another journal like EarthLines: eclectic, erudite, committed and sometimes cutting-edge journalism (and poems and story). Sharon says: 'EarthLines is more than a magazine —it's an active and passionate project to help transform the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world.'

That last says all I need to say, really, along with their subtitle: 'the culture of nature'.

So, yes, notes on wildlife, and questioning policy have been threads I've continued to spin here. I've posted poetry and prose poems; articles and essays; and I frequently comment (often at perhaps mind-numbing length!) on psychology, spirituality and philosophical issues, particularly in relation to Wild, to how we might live, and to relationship. My commitment to Zen has underpinned my posts, and the pagan shamanic druid in me, normally private, puts her head above the parapet now and then, I see.

I also see that some of my earlier posts were more upbeat. We've had a number of family bereavements since I began, and I haven't been too well this year either. (Hopefully I shall retrieve my sense of humour soon from under whichever bush I dropped it...)

So why did I start this? I'm not sure, now. I think it was partly because I had just completed a number of creative projects (three books came out for me between spring 2011 and May this year), and I knew that a commitment to writing a blog would be a way to ensure writing something, at least several times a week.

I guess the big thing, now I'm approaching later adulthood*, is something to do with adding my voice to the 'song of the earth' – wanting to remember, and to speak of, how we might live in a soulcentric way, being aware of our place and time in relation to right here, right now in the microcosm of our individual life. Maturing necessitates being aware too of our place in a deeply interwoven infinite universe, the anima mundi, which we share with all other beings as a collective of matter and energy flowing together, of which this beautiful planet is a fragile and resilient manifestation. We can choose the directions that take us towards nurturing, or towards destruction. If we choose to remember this, and our interconnectedness, it becomes harder to violate ourselves and others, so the push is always towards being more mindful, kinder, aware (this is the theory, anyway!) .

(*Actually, I've been having a midlife crisis since I was 17, so really I think by rights I'm now entering late adolescence.)

On a more pragmatic level, the blog was also to be a kind of online journal, to share with anyone who could be bothered to read it. And a place to share ideas, too.

And there's something too of course about having a presence on the web, as a writer; it's somewhere for the readers I have, or people who've attended my courses, to come when they need the boot up the bum which I'm told I'm good at giving in a workshop context! And I'm delighted to say that at a time when it's a struggle making ends meet (it always is, but in a recession it's easy to think of books, and creativity, as being luxuries rather than the essentials I believe them to be, for a culture and for the soul) that it has also brought me new readers and course participants. (As of just now, you can buy my books easily via the Paypal link to the right. Note that the dropdown menu also brings up the current offer of two books for £12 inc p&p.)

The blog has linked me in to a web in the true sense – a felt experience of sharing community with others who have similar visions and dreams. I visit many of your websites and blogs frequently – thank you for your presence.

Best of all, and I couldn't have envisaged this, is that it has brought lovely new people into my life. Some of you email me; many of you are doing your own inspiring thing out there. I love being part of this network of people who believe in change, and in the power of the human spirit. Once again, thank you, all of you; you've touched my life and my heart and it means something to me.

And, as always, thanks from the heart to B, who is making this possible in more ways than she knows.


  1. Dear Roselle - your blog is always both a comfort (someone else out there KNOWS) and an inspiration in more ways than I can list. If it were consistently upbeat it would be as irritating as hell, because then you wouldn't be the real human being that we've all come to love. Thank you for the kind words about EarthLines and in the midst of all that you struggle to hold together, I hope you'll continue to warm us through 2013.

  2. Sharon, you just nearly made me weep. Thank you. I think you know how important your presence has come to be to me, too. And I tried to upload the image of the front cover of the first EarthLines - and nearly wiped the whole blog, several times over! Do you have a jpeg you could send me, and I'll try again?

    With much love


  3. Roselle, your blog is such a wonderful gift. Thank you so much - looking forward to the next 724!

  4. David, what a lovely thing to say. Thank you. Deep bow.


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