The Shift

( an episode in the life of Almurta – the character I write about on my other blog

Staring into space Almurta thought over what she had been reading.
She agreed with the idea that the power structures that maintained the status quo across the globe were being rocked to the core.  Everywhere she looked she saw evidence of this.    In her own life too all that she had come to regard as permanent was shifting and changing.   Having the shed she lived in blow down in a storm was physical evidence of this.

Nothing was certain anymore.    Everything, it seemed, was in a state of flux.   Old certainties no longer offered the reassurance they once did. Political, economic and social structures were going through massive changes where outcomes weren’t obvious or predictable. More than that there was the weird way chance events were also hastening the collapse of the established order.   Earlier Almurta had been online and learnt that  the beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame In Paris was burning.  Even things set in stone were shifting – literally.

Beyond all those cultural shifts Almurta was acutely aware of the environmental changes that threatened the entire planet.  Not only were the oceans warming and rising because of unchecked climate change, they were choking to death on plastic waste.  Climate change was also affecting weather patterns.   Floods, droughts and hurricane force winds were wreaking havoc across the globe.

All these disastrous outer events had the effect of driving Almurta deep inside herself.  Because she felt she could no longer rely on outer structures and conditions to give her life stability she felt an overwhelming need to find a stable place within herself.

Unsettlingly, what she found when she looked within was a mish-mash of ideas and beliefs she’d gathered around herself to explain her position in society.   A lot of these ideas came from childhood – things her parents had told – things her peers at school had said – things her teachers had drummed into her.    When she really looked at these concepts many of them didn’t really fit with her own secret, inner idea of herself.

The more she looked, the more it seemed to her that it was that secret, inner sense of herself that was demanding to be heard now.  Thinking about this she decided to go for a walk in the forest.   It was there she often felt the breath of the sacred – that immutable energy that was greater than any outer structure or concept she’d ever encountered in the world of people.

Rousing herself from her thoughts she looked out the window to check the weather.    It was only then that she realised the noise she’d been subliminally aware of was actually pouring rain.   She’d been so deep in thought she hadn’t really registered that the weather had turned bleak and miserable.   Looking out she saw that the rain was so intense it had created large puddles on the path leading to the forest.  At the same time the wind had picked up and was setting the trees sighing and swaying.   Definitely not a day for a pleasant walk.

Not sure what to do Almurta wandered around her room.    The idea of finding some kind of inner stability pre-occupied her.     “I need to find the sacred within myself,” she thought.  “Not some religious doctrine I was taught by others but some kind of abiding sense of a greater reality – some place where I transcend the limitations of the personal, worldly self.”


Another Blog

I have created a new blog called Almurta’s Journal –

My main blog Being in Nature will continue to grow in its usual bit-of-this/ bit-of-that way.   Almurta’s Journal will be much more organised for it will be exclusively about the adventures of a character I have created called Almurta.    Almurta spends her time in an alternative reality that bends and expands in all kinds of unexpected directions.  Her adventures are inspired by creativity prompts found at Bancroft Manor Collective.  
These prompts are the brainchild of the creative and inspiring Georgina McClure


Almurta first came to life for me back in 2010 when I started blogging for a closed online writing group.   When that group folded Almurta went into hiding.   She is only re-emerging now.    Her extended retreat has changed her enormously and I’m never quite sure what she’d going to do or say next.     Her current adventures take the form of linked stories that don’t necessarily have to be read in order.  So far I’ve written three.

No.1 tells of how Almurta came to be at Bancroft Manor

No.2 is about what she did immediately on arriving

No.3 is what she got up to yesterday

Almurta is a free spirit who follows the directives of her own heart and mind.    Timetables are an anathema to her so stories are likely to pop up on Almurta’s Journal at any time.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you over at Almurta’s Journal


Taking a New Direction

 photo prompt:  Sue Vincent

Saga, the Norse Goddess of Story wandered over the Icelandic plains.   It was late winter and everything around her was surrounded in gloom.  Saga herself was all of a dither for she didn’t know which way go or which stories to nurture.   Things on planet Earth were going from bad to worse and so many of the stories people told each other were ending badly.  Chaos was rearing it’s ugly head left, right and centre.  “It’s all going to hell in a hand basket,” Saga muttered to herself.

Far in the east the first light of the returning sun glowed dimly.    As it gathered strength landmarks began to emerge from the gloom.   Directly in front of her Saga spied a signpost with direction markers pointing every which way.

“At last,” she thought.  “I will be able to get my bearings and set a course of action.”

Eagerly she quickened step but as she grew close enough to read the signs she gave a world weary sigh.   Some of the direction markers were blank.   Others said things like ‘Going Round in Circles By-way’. ‘The Road to Oblivion’, ‘Back to the Past’ and ‘Dystopian Highway.’

“We need new pathways,” Saga said out loud for she knew the power of words.    The light dawning in the east grew stronger and illuminated the blank signposts pointing into the misty voids and open spaces of the plains.  Looking closely at the ground Saga could discern faint tracks running off into the hazy distances.   Choosing the path of most light Saga strode out purposefully.

“I believe in the power of story,” she chanted as she walked.  “Stories can bring light, hope and joy into the darkest places.  Stories can create happy endings, miracles and magical outcomes.   Stories can inspire and uplift.   They can carry ideas.

The wind caught the words and carried them far and wide.

“I’ll sow some seeds,” Saga thought with a sudden flash of inspiration.  Reaching into a cloth bag that dangled from her belt she gathered up a handful of seeds.   These were seeds she had harvested from stories that had borne fruit – stories that had opened the way for new ideas, new inventions and new social movements.

With a wild wing of her arm she threw the seeds into the air.   There they danced and shone in the light of dawn.   Saga laughed and pulled out another handful of seeds and cast them forth.   She repeated this action until her arms grew tired.   “Go my darlings,” she cried gleefully.   “Ride the winds until you find open minds and hearts that will cherish and nurture you.   Grow into stories of peace, abundance for all, equality, environmental awareness, innovative solutions and new possibilities.”

An updraft of air warmed by the rising sun collected the seeds and carried them across the globe.    A precious few reached the open minds and hearts Saga had longed for but many fell on barren ground.

Back on the Icelandic plain Saga grew weary.   Storm clouds were gathering overhead.  They threatened to block out the warming rays of the sun.

Shivering, Saga hunted through her bag for the last remaining seeds.  Gathering them up carefully she carried them up towards her mouth on her open palm.    Gently she breathed prayers for salvation and redemption onto the seeds.   As they fluttered from her hand the wind gathered them and hurdled them into the misty void of the future.

“I believe in you,” Saga called after them.  “Words have power.”





Why do I write?

Charles French asks on his blog Reading and Writing – “Why do you write?”

The question reminds me of a digital image I made ages ago.   I used to have it on the About Page of my old blog and have been meaning to put on About for this blog – it’s one of those jobs I think of randomly in the middle of night then forgot about in the morning.   I’ll do it now:-


Somehow in writing  my thoughts become clearer and I really nail those scattered fragments of ideas that rattle round my brain and emerge in disconnected moments of insight.   Often it is only when I write things down in a coherent, ‘b’ follows ‘a’ fashion that the meanings I’ve been struggling to grasp become clearer to me.


A lot of the writing I do is about communicating.  I’m one of those people who finds it easier to express ideas through the written word rather than through speech.  These days most of my writing takes the form of blog posts but occasionally I get it together to make some kind of e-book.  The last one of these I created is available as a free PDF




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 –

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