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, 15 March 2013

from the ragbag

After days of intense cold and heavy frost, punctuated by almost-warm sun (lucky next-door lambs), we managed to go and dig 25 sacks of well-rotted yummy horseshit for the veg beds. And after a terrible harvest last year, we've actually had two meals of purple sprouting broccoli (well, we did add other stuff!).

This morning, well past dawn, a barn owl was quartering the field opposite. A little egret flapped down the valley to land like a blob of brilliant light on the tallest lightning-struck oak, its habitual winter perch.

My little brown bird whose solitary status I was lamenting last week has found a small tribe: another pair of house sparrows has joined him in the courtyard.

Over last weekend and the early part of this week I had 4 days of feeling really ill. Turns out – can you believe it – the pharmacy had muddled my heart medication and I'd been taking the wrong drug. Thank goodness I'm not elderly or confused – I might not have realised it was the right label but wrong drug. (I do want to say with some pride that I've been able to halve my medication through taking herbs, but I still, to my disgust, find I need some medication.) It required TM to make an emergency middle-of-night trip to the local hospital to pick up the correct meds, whereupon my heart returned to its normal rate and rhythm.

When there is a dramatic physical symptom, in my view it's a symbol, and the 'densest' manifestation of long term subtler imbalances and habitual calcified ways of being, so I am still practising listening to what my non-mechanical heart needs, which is partly about putting my own needs (even for basic things like enough rest and sleep) at the top of the list rather than the bottom. This is a hard habit to break, tagged as it is with notions of 'selfishness' – partly, I think, an inheritance from our Judeo-Christian tradition and, in the case of being a woman (I hear far more women than men express difficulties with this) its overtones of patriarchy.

Speaking of such things, I imagine the Catholic Church's new pope will not be in a hurry to include women or gay priests. However, perhaps he will at least be more inclusive in his general outlook? He has shown himself to have concerns about poverty and the environment. It's hard to know whether this will translate to the Church's views on birth control, which of course need to be addressed for either issue to be properly faced.

Radio Four yesterday ran a short interview with an English journalist speaking to members of the Marronite Catholic Church (I ought to check that spelling) who live high in the Lebanese mountains in caves and small rocky dwellings built into the mountainside. They are, apparently, the oldest sect of Catholics, and live lives of extreme simplicity, usually vegetarian. One hermit sleeps on the ground, with a stone for a pillow, prays 14 hours a day, studies for 2 and works for 3. The remaining 5 hours he sleeps. What characterised the interviewees was a spirit of joy, kindness and calm.

Good news on (some) animal fronts: the European Union has banned the sale of any cosmetics that have involved testing on animals, with immediate effect. At last!

And – it's so big and emotive a subject and I have been doing so much behind-the-scenes campaigning in relation to it I haven't known where to start to blog about it, but the badger vaccination campaign (as opposed to a wholesale cull, that will be ineffectual in stopping bovine tuberculosis, a Government scientific report stated after 9 years of research, and will alienate the public) is gathering momentum. If we can garner enough support and disseminate enough accurate information we may be able yet to turn the tide on the NFU and DEFRA. You might want to see this: If you are on facebook, it'd be great if you could sign up to our page: Totnes Badger Vaccination Action Campaign. Steve Jones, the organic farmer who wrote the article above (and is in the cull area scheduled for this summer), will be talking at Rattery Village Hall on Saturday March 30th at 7pm. If you're local, please do come if you can – and bring a farmer! Our aim is to support farmers by giving them the info to make informed choices, not to create an 'us and them' climate, which will help nothing.

This is the fatal flaw, isn't it: our inherent dualism that sees 'other' as different and therefore threatening, and reacting to that on impulse... Sadly, we govern in that way too.

A disturbing, if not surprising, report on R4 this morning: a study of 30,000 men has concluded that men who have served in the armed forces are more likely to commit violent crime (13% more likely than civilians, and much more likely if they've been on active service in Iraq or Afghanistan). Well, yes, they are after all trained to kill; that's their job. When oh when will we learn that violence, that killing, achieves nothing other than more violence?

Gandhi said: 'An eye for an eye is a terrible way to blind the world.'


  1. Beatrice: Can I just add to this poignant and insightful post that Gandhi is absolutely right AND 'an eye for an eye' is sadly also the QUICKEST way of blinding the world - we only have two eyes each!
    And a plead for curiosity: Whatever is different - and we ARE all different from each other, not only in skin colour and looks - is enticing to investigate! There is so much more - beauty, loveliness and warmth - in this world than our minds can grasp! Let's try and put fear at the bottom end of the list of impulsive reacting!

  2. With regards your paragraph about the report on ex-armed services violence, you exactly echo the thoughts I had when I heard it.

  3. Hey Beatrice a comment from you! :-). Yes - absolutely - that's a wise statement. If ONLY we could relate to difference with enthusiasm and interest, the world would be such a happier place... My dad used to say that underneath every single negative emotion was fear. It took me turning into an adult to see how right he was. Thank you. xxx

    Angie - yes - that is, after all their job, and any soldier signing up must realise that violence is part of the job description; and when they witness or are involved in the atrocities of warfare, and are then returned home with no counselling and expected to adjust to civvie life, how on earth can they process such trauma? No wonder it's externalised. What a world, hey? And yes, it's SO beautiful, too...


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