Winter in Summer

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Out of nowhere
a thick sea fog
came barrelling in
– swamping – cloaking – shrouding –
the summer swimmers
stood frozen, inert –
engulfed in wintery silences

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prompt:  faaa  https://helenevaillant.com/2019/01/22/what-do-you-see-january-22-2019/

 

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Up to the Angels

I have decided to reblog this post again today as it might be of interest to people in these difficult days when life is throwing many of us many a curve ball.
I have used the methods I learnt in the workshop many times Sometimes when the situation is very complex I have had to use the words frequently.
I find they always work though sometimes the outcome might be different to what you expect or even hope for.

Being in Nature

This post first appeared on my old blog “Art and Life”.   Today feels like a good day to reblog it.

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As a young child I saw fairies dancing on moonbeams and felt the wings of angels catching me whenever I fell.     As I grew older I put away childish things and moved into the cold hard reality of the light of day where seeing is believing and all else is imagination and fantasy  –

not a comfortable place to be at times – a place where I felt I’d lost something but could not quite recall what.

I became a spiritual seeker and wandered through the years searching –

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One day I went to one of those Mind, Body and Spirit Fairs. Tarot readers and…

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Forgotten stories, forgotten voices

On my way to finding new stories and speculative fiction I take a look back at an old forgotten tale.

Zeus, the ancient Greek god that ruled Olympus was a jealous old man.  Mention of his name still strikes a chord with many though mostly the stories of his exploits are now forgotten.   These days he is remembered as a legendary character, a frozen relic from another time and place.

One story about Zeus has all but vanished from our trove of myths and legends.  That story is the complicated relationship between Zeus and his first wife, Metis (pronounced Meetus).

Metis was one of the original Greek gods and goddesses, the Titans.  Chronus, the father of Zeus was also a Titan.  When his wife Rhea gave birth to a son Cronus feared that the child would overthrow him.   To prevent this he swallowed all five of his children.    When Rhea gave birth to another child she saved him from this fate by hiding him in cave.   That child was Zeus.

When Zeus grew up he did indeed seek to throw his father.  Metis helped him in this.  She concocted a drink which caused Cronus to regurgitate the children he had swallowed.   By this time they too were adult.   Two of them, Poseidon and Hades, helped Zeus overthrow their father.   Zeus then killed him.

Soon afterwards Zeus and Metis got together and Metis became pregnant.   Fearful his children might eventually seek to overthrow him Zeus tricked Metis into shapeshifting into a fly.    He then swallowed her.

As an archetype Metis represents those parts of ourselves that have been swallowed up by the culture we live in.   Perhaps it is that you are a person who has sacrificed a career to raise your children and are now unemployed and unemployable.   Perhaps you are a person who supported your partner as they climbed the career ladder only to have them leave you without ever acknowledging your contribution to their success.   Perhaps you are a person – male, female or agender – who’s voice has been silenced because of race, class, disability or gender bias.

Perhaps there is some other reason why you feel you feel your voice has been swallowed for Metis represents a type of intelligence that is often overlooked or discounted.   We live in a culture where rational, logic, scientific thinking is given preference.   Metis intelligence is intuitive, subtle and resourceful.   This type of intelligence is often dismissed as unscientific and illogical.

The ability of Metis to shapeshift can be seen as a metaphor for that kind of street wise cunning and ability to strategize quickly that can get you out of a sticky situation.   The shapeshifting ability can also be seen as the capacity for metamorphosis.  By thinking things through on a deep level and calling on the practical skills we have learnt through experience we can figure out how to move forward.   We find ways to adapt and respond to changing conditions by calling on our under-developed abilities and resources.

In these difficult times where so many of the old ways that have underpinned our culture are beginning to crack and crumble under the weight of their own deceptions Metis intelligence offers a way forward.  Quick, intuitive thinking that utilizes practical wisdom gained through experience may just be the thing that saves us – individually and collectively.

prompt:  https://mythsofthemirror.com/2019/01/01/new-feature-speculative-fiction-writing-prompt/

 

An Imaginative Connection

I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader when I came across Sue Vincent’s latest #writephotoimage.

When I saw it I did a double take for I spent hours yesterday making this collage – 001.jpg

What a strange imaginative connection links Sue’s photo and my collage.  I have no idea what motivated Sue to post that particular image but the inspiration for my collage came from thinking about the life and work of the 11th century Christian nun, Hildegarde of Bingen.

I find Hildegarde inspirational for she was an accomplished writer, herbalist, mystic, composer, artist and environmentalist back in an age where women were too often voiceless and powerless.

The brilliant colours of her manuscript art inspired my own collage –

Image result for hildegard of bingen manuscript illumination https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scivias

Her music is hauntingly beautiful.

One of Hildegarde’s most enduring ideas is the concept of Viriditas, a Latin word which loosely translates as vitality, freshness, lushness,greening, or growth.    In Hildegarde’s philosophical writings the word is used as a metaphor for spiritual and physical health.  She celebrates the sacred energetic force that animates all life and actively sought to connect with the natural world for she saw it as a source of creative and healing power.

“O most honored Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”

–  Hildegard von Bingen, Viriditas

Hildegarde experienced visions from an early age but it wasn’t until she was 42 that she felt compelled to share her visions with the world despite the disapproval of patriarchal church authorities.  Later on in life she undertook four preaching tours where she told her male superiors that they would fall from grace if they didn’t change their attitudes.     Huffington Post – why Hildegarde matters  Her words have relevance today as the male clergy that control many Christian churches are being held to account for their role in covering up child sexual abuses.

There is so much to learn from Hildegarde’s life and work.   What came through for me yesterday while I was working on my collage was an understanding of the energy and inspiration found in having a sense of purpose that is greater than personal self interest.

Hildegarde’s voice speaks loud and clear down through the centuries.   I hear it in the calm pure notes of her music and in her writings.  I see its imprint in her art.  “Take your time,” she says to me.  “Celebrate life.   Create with clear intention.  Discipline the will and seek to serve the greater good. Speak your truth.”

Climate change and the quest for new stories

Late last year I wrote about going on a quest to find new stories about climate change and possible future scenarios that might occur because of it.

Somewhere (and I’ve no idea where now) I read that stories that depict dystopian futures turn people off.    Rather than galvanizing people into action they tend to lead to paralyzing depressions and feelings of powerlessness.

When I googled a question about finding new stories I discovered many articles  about our need for new stories – not just about climate change but new stories about politics, economics, new cultural stories,  stories about disability that don’t focus on overcoming disability, stories about sustainable agriculture and industry …   the list goes on and on.

I read an article in the Guardian Newspaper about a group of concerned individuals who have created a collection of new fairy stories that deal with current issues such as climate change and refugees here

The article concludes with the statement –

“Most tales, at some level, present a rite of passage through difficulty to maturity, awareness or resolution. Now, more than ever, it feels like we need new tales to lead us through our troubling times.”

I kept searching online and found a comprehensive article about the power of story and why we need new ones using stories to change systems  The author, Ella Saltmarshe, writes –

“Systems change can involve painting compelling visions of alternative futures. We can use story to create immersive scenarios of the future that engage people on an emotional and intellectual level. This work can make the possible feel more probable, bring new perspectives that challenge the goals and mindsets of a system, and enable the transformation of rules and processes.”

Further searching led to this article about the role of science fiction in envisioning new, positive futures –  https://rethink.earth/can-science-fiction-reimagine-the-future-of-global-development

Reading these and other articles I concluded that the first steps towards creating a better world lie in imagining just what that world would look like.

My quest to find new stories continues but at least now I have defined what I am searching for and why.  IMG_20170913_212524.jpg

prompt:  https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/rdp-wednesday-quest/

The desert up the road

After deciding I probably wouldn’t get to the Australian outback this year and, quite possibly never again, I was surprised to discover a wild desert-like landscape just a few K’s from my home last Sunday.

My youngest daughter had suggested we meet in the carpark of a local bush reserve and go for a wander in the bush with her two small boys.   I moved to this area a few months ago and am still learning about it.   As we walked to a gate in the high cyclone wire fence that borders the reserve my daughter filled me in on the history of the place.  Although the bush looks like the kind scrubby bushland I remember from childhood I was amazed to learn it is actually regenerated farmland.

In the 1960s a group of local conservationists got together to reclaim the area.   Careful land management, weed control and the replanting of indigenous plants has been undertaken ever since.   The place is now home to a wide range of bird species,  reptiles, wallabies  and other small marsupials (the fence is to keep the wallabies in so they don’t get run over).  Although the place is now taken care of by Rangers employed by the government children are encouraged to climb the trees and build bush cubby houses from fallen branches.  Kindergardens and playgroups are welcome to visit and the Rangers sometimes arrange tree planting days for the children.

My grandkids are very familiar with the reserve and led us down a narrow track flanked with kangaroo grass to a man-made waterhole.
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Boy contemplating the successful throwing of a large stick into the waterhole

Just beyond the waterhole we came to the wide expanse of a dry river bed.    Something about the place reminded me of the Todd River in Alice Springs – a river that is usually dry.   I last saw that dry river bed nearly 50 years ago and had always hoped I’d get back there.   Lately that has seemed increasingly unlikely.   Gazing at the dry river bed just up the road from where I lived I realised I don’t really need to drive the many thousands of kilometres to Alice Springs after all – I can just drive up to the local reserve –
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There the boys have a favourite tree they love to play on.   img_20190113_211937 A natural tree lover

My daughter and I sat on a wooden bench in the shade while the boys played happily for hours.   That definitely wouldn’t happen if I went to the Todd River for the family wouldn’t be able to accompany me.

The afternoon slipped away until eventually we had to convince two reluctant boys that it was time to go home.    We ambled back to our cars completely relaxed and recharged from our time in the bush.   We had seen only two other people the whole time we’d been there and had heard no vehicle noise for hours.  That all changed as soon as I drove down the short dusty dirt track to the main road.   There the non-stop holiday traffic roared along at 100 kph.   Directly opposite the entrance to the nature reserve I had a clear view of the area where the trees were felled last week to make way for a major shopping complex.   The developers have left just two stately old trees.   The position of these trees suggests they will flank the road into the shopping complex – no doubt so the developers can claim they protected trees during construction.   Already there is very little trace of the 50+ trees they cut down last week.

Back home processing my photos I silently gave thanks for the beauty of tree in the reserve that had given us so much joy that afternoon – and, no doubt, will do again.

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linked to:-  Jo’s Monday Walks