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

Monday, 6 April 2015

ragbag blogpost

How good, after some days of intense worry over the seriously-ill but today improving dog, and the ill but stoic Man ('It's only a flesh wound. I've got another leg') to spend the whole sunny day gently and barefoot sowing seed and planting out chard, watering the sprouting broad beans and counting the new potato shoots. Hands and feet in warm moist soil – such an antidote, and well worth the treading on thorns, holly leaves, stinging nettles and decomposing slimy seaweed.

Lovely too to imagine the community of us all over Britain today out growing food in the sun. Chuckling at how much pleasure such a simple activity brings, and how my younger self would have loved the idea of gardening but found the actuality and the talk about gardening so irredeemably boring, when what seemed important was Adventure. Some things have changed for the better with ageing. (Adventure still figures, but I define it differently now.)

And I even got the hammock out.


My mind last night defaulted to worst case scenarios for the dog (the way things seem so much worse at 3 in the morning). She was very badly ill with trigeminal neuritis, a condition that gave her a lot of pain and left her for the duration (two weeks – best case scenario) incapable of eating or drinking, just before my mum died three and a half years ago. The whole thing took me to the edge.

This time the clearly-excruciating muscle spasms in her face were not confined just to one side and occasional, but all over and continual. She couldn't eat, drink, move or engage yesterday.  Her pupils were hugely dilated and her breathing rate was probably several hundred to the minute.

I'm off to lead my annual retreat on Iona* in less than two weeks – just me, 16 participants (some of whom are not Dog People), and a very intense schedule. I've had visions of squatting beside the dog at midnight, trying to get a few mls of water and a bit of porridge down a throat through a mouth that doesn't work – in a hotel room, between sessions. Oh no – got no cooker, so no porridge, and she won't be able to eat solids; no fridge, so no fluid in the form of small ice cubes to slide down her throat. To move, yesterday, gave her so much pain that the idea of simply getting her down the stairs and outside for a pee and then back up in the hotel seemed highly problematic (being a very big hound she weighs around 40kgs).

There's only one vet who serves the whole of Mull, all 70 miles' length of it, once I've got over there from Iona. Last year, my daughter had to take Ash (long story) to the vet when I was working on Iona. It took her nearly a day to get there and back, with four hours in the waiting room in between. I don't HAVE that time.

And so my mind cavorted with death and demons...

Small miracle today, then, that Ash is SO much better: breathing normally, eating, drinking, and joining us to lie under the ash trees in the field today. Funny how life feels so good after one's imagination has stopped conjuring hell.

* Unbelievably, this will be the 16th retreat I've led here. The equivalent week in 2016 is provisionally full, but I'm expecting to offer a second week in late April.


A consolation for having to ring the vet for an emergency visit: I've no mobile signal here so had to pad out at twilight on Saturday evening. Just past the barn that is TM's store and workshop and my (upstairs) study is a small grassed area that leads up to the field in which are our orchard, woodland margin and raised beds. 

As I approached, a hare looked up from grazing less than two metres away, and unhurriedly loped up the slope to the field. I turned to face the opposite hillside, still golden with dusky sun, and there was the barn owl I'd watched that morning, quartering the same hillside opposite. It's hunting late after dawn and early before dusk proper, so I imagine it's feeding a brood of owlets. As I watched it, that wonderful huge lunar-eclipsed blood-orange moon rose like a slowly-tossed coin up from behind the oak tree on the hill.

My little Braeburn apple tree has come into leaf, and the cherry in the courtyard is on the cusp of flower. Which gives me an opportunity to use that phrase again, as I determine to each spring: apical hemispheres. They've just started, bursting sooty bundles on the tips of the ashes.


Each evening a pair of Canada geese flies over, and a lone mallard drake, mate to the duck who's nesting on the brook somewhere. A pair of wrens is nesting on the lovely stone 'pier' (round column-type pillar, traditional for stone barns in Devon) that TM built – right beside the front door.

I couldn't have previously imagined the exultation I feel at watching our new little tribe of house sparrows, once 'common or garden' birds, now in decline, and absent from here for several years. TM replaced the broken cordless phone last year, at my request, with an anchored one – I wonder if that has made the difference, as cordless ones are said to be responsible for the decline in house sparrows? I'd like to think so. (My writers' retreat in Brittany won't have phone, internet or TV. A proper respite from EMFs and distractions; at least, ones produced by such things.)


Sometimes you really do call things up simply by thinking, or talking, about them, it seems. Of such connections the web of life is made.

I don't remember the last time I saw a weasel. I've never seen one here, in the 7 years I've been here. But last night we had some permaculture friends visiting, and we got to talking about the difference between stoats and weasels ('A weasel's easily told; a stoat's totally different').

This morning, early, as I went to the kitchen door to scatter seed for the birds, there was a weasel, right on the threshold, centimetres from my feet.


As you will know from this blog, and even more so if you've visited my websites, I never use 10 words where 100 will do instead.

My Wild Ways work is, for the sake of a better name, rooted in ecopsychology (though because there is a spiritual and imaginal dimension to the work, I call it 'eco-soul : the ecological imagination'). Its scope is broad, and when someone asks me to define it I find it hard to express the heart of it in a sentence without another ten clauses.

So when one of our friends asked me to define 'ecopsychology' last night I gave him around ten sentences with about ten clauses each. Took a while.

TM is nothing if not succinct and focused. He then summarised it elegantly for me in just eleven words: 'Conscious psychological relationship to the ecosphere, and its web of interconnections.' (He offered ten. I added 'conscious'.)


I was going to talk to you about the Underworld journey of initiation symbolised by the Easter story, where there has to be a passage through the Dark Night. Having just had one of those myself, I'm far too exhausted now, so on a much more mundane note: if there are any techie types who read this blog I'd love your opinion/advice/help.

For the last year I've had around 200 hits a day on this blog from Russia and Ukraine. I know that I occasionally get two or three bona fide hits from there, but the rest will be spam, in one way or another.

What I need to know is: since there's only me who can see the source URL, they can't ALL be trying to get me to click on a spamming link. Is there some way (being a techno-idiot I don't know this) in which they are using my URL/blogspot site for their own purposes? And if so, is this potentially problematic for me, and is there anything I can do?

On that note, good night all.

I wish you rich dreams.



  1. So sorry to hear about Dog. I remember sleeping on the kitchen floor once with my very old golden retriever, shortly after he had a stroke and couldn't make the stairs up to bed. So I empathised with your nightmares. Anyway, sending her get well wishes. Also, take care of yourself. It sounds (referring back to an earlier blog) that you might be doing too much again. So ease off where you can and spend more time in the mud, growing things!

  2. Dear Anonymous whose style sounds familiar - thank you: for your care, your empathy, and your insight. Am delighted to report that after a tough long working morning I could sense panic coming on, so have just had an hour in the hammock. Feel restored and calm! And Dog is still quietly up there in the sun, near TM who has taken over the hammock as he's not working this week and needs some sun and r and r himself...


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