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, 12 January 2018

From the ragbag: dawn poem, plastic, thresholds course


Last night I caught on my face light from a star
ejected from the sky unimaginable centuries ago.
This morning, walking early, day has draped
shrubs and bushes with nets of frost and fog,
laid them into my hair, on my coat. By the farm
a hundred violet periwinkles drink mist. Home,
the robin lands on my hand for food; three blackbirds
scurry to squabble over seed by the yellow witch hazel.

I'm watching a sky the colour of waiting.
Whatever it is that needs to be said
is not on my tongue yet; hasn't landed
in my body. I can be patient. I'm old enough
now to know about waiting, about uncertainty.

© Roselle Angwin 2018
So the government has unrolled its 25-year environment plan. The pledges it's made on plastic are utterly outrageous; by 2042 it will have put an end, it hopes, to 'avoidable plastic waste'.

As anyone knows who has watched Attenborough's beautiful and moving 'Blue Planet', this is far too little, far too late. Avoidable plastic waste should be avoided RIGHT NOW. It's nothing like enough to charge for plastic bags. What's more, May and Gove (admittedly, after a very dodgy start in relation to whether animals are sentient or not, he has pledged a couple of improvements to current environmental law in comparison with how he bodged education) are 'consulting with Industry'. Not one of the 4 points in the 4-point action plan they discussed 'with Industry' includes any kind of commitment to removing or replacing plastic. As usual, 'industry' will go on pulling all the strings.
In addition to reducing individual consumption of plastic (which can only be enforced by law in a dictatorship), we should be focusing all our industrial efforts on replacing petrochemical products with biodegradables, now. NOW. 
Meantime, I guess those of us who care can only do all we possibly can to cut our own consumption.
What can we do? Don't buy plastic bottles of water – get an inline water filter for your household taps instead. Buy from markets or local shops. Take a basket and your own bags. Take refillable containers. Take glass. Find ways round buying what you need to when it's in plastic (you might find an alternative in a tin or bottle; both employ embodied energy in the making, but at least they do recycle or degrade). Once the government has introduced its 'one aisle in a supermarket will be plastic-free' policy, if you use supermarkets, use that aisle exclusively.
Lobby local councillors, producers and retailers (it doesn't have to be aggressive).

If you live in the South Hams, we are lucky enough to have in Totnes a zero-waste shop for not only almost all the loose organic wholefoods you can think of, herbs, teas and spices but also refills for all Ecover products and a machine that will make almond or peanut butter for you. They provide paper bags for loose products and sell cloth bags for eg flours and jars for the butters. On the website you can find 31 tips for reducing single-use plastic. What's more, their loose strawberry and basil fruit tea is to die for, as they say.
For myself, as a vegan, it has to be said that occasionally I buy shop hummus or falafel as a treat, rather than making it myself. That's that treat out the window. Sob.

As usual, George Monbiot has much to say about it.

I'm currently winding down from all my usual courses as a) I'm exhausted and b) I need to finish the book I've been working on for more than two years.

I'm continuing with a little mentoring, but trying to avoid much work other than my own writing until my Iona courses in early April. I'm looking forward to getting more sleep, being less overwhelmed with admin etc, and focusing on my own creativity and personal inner work.

One thing I've decided to let go of, to my surprise, is my one-day Thresholds workshop. I've been doing this retreat-day as personal practice at this time of year for about 30 years, and offering it to the public for more than 20. It's about re-visioning your life, and realigning yourself more truly to your core self, soul life, and the turning year, as well as exploring the unique qualities you can offer to the world.

The last few years it has been tied-in with a workshop I offer for Imbolc, the Celtic early-spring cross-quarter-date when new life, in the northern hemisphere, is beginning to stretch towards the light, and we start to feel as if the earth really is beginning to turn back towards the sun.

News is that I'm about to shape it to offer it as a self-facilitated personal-retreat download instead of as a face-to-face group workshop. My websites are woefully un-updated, but it will appear here in a little while, and will be available to purchase later in the month, in time for Imbolc (1/2 February).

I shall be still offering my mindfulness walk for the National Trust on February 28th (I'm looking forward to that as the woodland gardens are so inspiring, and I'm missing my residency there), but there will be no other day workshops now until May.

The second of my Iona 'Islands of the Heart' weeks has been full for a long time, but there is still one place on the first group for someone who has attended my retreats there before 2015.

I'm delighted that, without any advertising, The Land's Wild Magic week in Cornwall is filling, but a few places remain.

To come in early September is my prose, poetry and eco/nature-writing in the beautiful Gardoussel in the Cévennes mountains of southern France (think Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey). 'Writing the Bright Moment' is open for bookings now.

Then, in the autumn, my redesigned The Wellkeepers: Sacred Feminine, Sacred Masculine will be happening, also in West Cornwall, as a residential intensive instead of a year-long group. NB: details have yet to be confirmed.

So looking forward to sharing these weeks with you lovely people, known and as-yet-unknown, who join me for this depth-work.


My new collection of poetry from the Isle of Iona has yet to arrive in my hands, but any day now, I'm assured. Watch this space as I'm sure I won't be able to avoid a little glee and boasting...


  1. Fine poem - I especially liked "I'm watching a sky the colour of waiting. / Whatever it is that needs to be said is not on my tongue yet". And a lovely photo to go with it!


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