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 27 June 2011

the buzzard's feather

This morning I found a buzzard's feather in the lane, freshly shed (and smelling, as I said before, of old books and ancient libraries). It's one of a couple of dozen I've come across over the last decade or two. Last summer I went up through the orchard pulled by a sense of a freshly-dropped buzzard feather, and as I came to the brow of the hill, at exactly the spot I was making for, that happened – a buzzard lifting off from the tall ash tree dropped a primary down to me.

The world is a resonant place for a poet, or an artist. It's a resonant place for a human, generally. It's a symbolically resonant place, in that everything can be viewed both as itself and as a symbol of a quality of energy that lies behind the physically-manifest form. In a poem, what we're trying to achieve is the conveyance of that quality of energy, and the impact of experiencing it, through the use of concrete detail to create a sensory picture to communicate with the thinking, feeling and intuitive faculties in a reader or listener.

Everything, in other words, is also a metaphor.

Shamanic and druidic thinking operates in part at this poetic and symbolic level. Things are things-in-themselves and can also be signposts to other more subtle realities.

In some shamanic work I did in my early thirties, I had a significant visualisation experience where I 'felt' myself to be lifted from the ground by a strong wind, and as, in my inner world, I opened my eyes to see myself miles (well, a couple of hundred metres) above the ground, I noticed that I was 'wearing' buzzard's wings. Even now, twenty years on, I can feel as a physical sensation the updraught of air in my armpits, the pull to flight, my fingers primaries filtering the wind.

Since that time, the buzzard has become very important to me. There's a resurgence of buzzards in the UK, gratifyingly, given the drop-off in numbers of wild bird species generally, and there are a number of residents in our valley; frequently they soar just yards above the roof of my study, or above the courtyard. Buzzards prey on rodents and even small chicks, but mostly they feed on the ground, on slugs and worms and small reptiles. I never tire of watching them, and I have learned a lot from the way they deal with their pretty continual mobbing by the corvine family: they don't fight back, despite being predators; they simply flip and wheel and yield to the air to avoid the (sometimes vicious) attacks without any apparent impulse to retaliation. There's something I find very moving about this attitude, and the aerial Tai Chi. Good medicine.

And a quality that I choose to take notice of is their ability to pick out, from great height, what is significant to them in a landscape; by viewing the whole picture from a distance, they notice the truly important detail and focus on it.

So this morning's feather was a little reminder. Boy, could I do with some of that perspective sometimes, when the minutiaie of life detail threaten to eclipse my perspective of what really matters!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post. Beautiful birds. I was watching just such an aerial fight at the weekend and was reminded of WWII Spitfire battles.


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