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

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

witching hours, earth gifts & exploitation

Bliss to walk early, as dark gives way to light just post-dawn, dawn like dusk a 'witching hour', at this elemental and dynamic time of year with all the shifts in weather.

In the valley a low stratum of frosty mist filters the light; above it warblers and tits are chasing tiny insects in the last leaves of the willows. In a couple of months time, their slim trunks will be blazing red gold, bringing their own fiery light to the dark months.

Two buzzards take off and cruise at eye level above the meadow to my left, mewling. Once again a crowd of mixed corvines lifts off from the ash trees on the hill to harass them, hypocrites that they are – crows at least are far more predatory than buzzards – plus we're nowhere near nesting time.

During the walk, rainbows emerge and dissolve on all sides – clouds' bright contrails.

The hawthorn is lanterned with berries; they're an important ingredient of the herbalist's pharmacopeia, for normalising both blood pressure and heart rate; I take them in my tincture for heart arrhythmia. 

So many gifts we take from the plant and tree families, mostly without any acknowledgement: food, medicines, timber, paper and in the case of trees that irreducibly crucial element, oxygen. Without trees and plants the earth could not support other life.

The point of the work I'm currently doing is to reactivate our awareness and our creative imagination in relation to the other beings who share this planet with us: to move from a separatist and hierarchical perspective to a horizontally-interconnected, rhizomatic one that recognises and respects the web of being, and experiences kinship. 

The other-than-human is so often unheeded, or viewed merely as a resource – legacy of so many centuries, millennia, of human moves to relegate every other-than-human being (and indeed some of the human beings of the earth, too) to inferior status needing stewardship, and over which we have dominion, at best, and connected with this our common view that the earth is our playground and other species are here for our use as a 'resource' (a word that really gets me going in relation to this theme). 

As Jung said, increased rights bring increased responsibility; but a consumer-driven culture promulgates an almost-divine-right approach to taking, to exploitation, and forgets the other half of that sentence.

Anyway. Down in the dark part of the valley where the ruined quarryman's cottage is, sky is thrown back white from the laurel leaves. 

The banks near the little well are festooned with red bryony berries, and long long ribbons of brambles drop from the trees above, ready to begin their leapfrogging takeover bids. 

Oaks still hold on to their leaves; the bare ashes already display sooty apical helispheres (delighted to slip that phrase in again this year too!) edging towards new growth. 

I hear in the woodland beside me that the redstarts and migrating thrushes are back.

Ahead of me, a single raindrop on the tip of a laurel leaf is an almost inconceivably bright point of prismatic light, stronger than any electric fairy-light.

Dawn glimmers / and a November day / prepares itself for birdsong and weather, as T S Eliot didn't say. Over the hill / clouds bloom / their running commentaries. / I am here and nowhere / there and everywhere / feasting on rainbow / on silence.

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