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

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


Ahead of me on the path, no doubt picking up my voice as I speak to the dog, a fox glows deep red against the frosted grasses, paw lifted as she looks over her shoulder at us for long moments.

The snow lays everything bare, makes it all equal. Against it, animals out foraging or hunting, and their tracks, are more visible. A couple of days ago we put up a deer in Simon's field; on Sunday night we followed a hare half a mile down the lane. Meadowpipits and skylarks danced and peeped and twittered above the farmland as I passed earlier, dog and I skidding, legs all over, on the sheet ice of the lane. We're not kitted up for ice and snow here, unaccustomed as we are.

Now, across the valley from me, a pair of white egrets sits in the oak tree above the brook, come inland from the Dart. Badger activity is evident, and a pair of squirrels and a cock pheasant ignore each other under the birdfeeder, unless one of the two moves too swiftly, when the other species will leap high in the air.

Dartmoor was beautiful and alien yesterday at dusk with its snow-glow. Coming back along the Wrey Valley road, where once my daughter and I lived in our fairy tale wooden thatched house with its cargo of wild bees living in the double-skinned wall and the huge riotous garden giving over to woodland on its flanks, the February Snow Moon sailed rose-pink over the bosky hill, then deepened to her intense butter-yellow.

The wheel is turning. In the Celtic calendar we have just passed Imbolc, or Candlemas, a cross-quarter date – waystation exactly halfway between the longest night of the winter solstice, and the vernal equinox when day and night are perfectly equal. Already under its cold crust the earth is beginning to crack open: crone gives way to snow-maiden, Persephone stretches and throws up the tender small snowdrops, primroses, crocuses to begin to colour the world back in.

Out of the old dyings of that which no longer serves us, the rich humus of decay, new life begins to stir, the 'inward flame' – in the psyche as in the soil, if only we can let go.

The quarter and cross-quarter dates, summer and winter alike, are always good for celebration – of change, of continuity, of creative renewal, of fellowship. And I want to thank the 13 people who joined with me this last weekend on my 'Imbolc – the inward flame' retreat for bringing such warmth, courage, intimacy and openheartedness (not to mention the heavenly food contributions) as we gathered to cross the threshold from grip of winter to – well, actually it still feels like grip of winter, but those little flames are flickering more strongly now, not least because of our gathering together.

One more brief turn of the wheel, just 45 degrees, six-and-a-half weeks, and March will be backing out with the equinox, as Eostre looms.


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