A new start

photo credit-  https://scvincent.com/2019/02/14/thursday-photo-prompt-new-writephoto/

As the sun rose over the rooftops like a searing ball of flame another day of excessive heat was born.

The couple out for an early morning fitness walk stopped in their tracks and viewed the spectacle.

“I feel so impotent,” said the man.

The woman glanced sharply at him wondering if her long term partner and father of her children was about to reveal some emergent sexual problem.

The man, oblivious to how his words had been misconstrued,  continued on:   “I mean, what can I do?   Out there across the country bushfires are burning out of control while record breaking floods swamp the north east.   Millions of fish have died in the extreme weather affecting the inland river systems.   Across the world beneficial insects and bees are dying.”

The woman shifted uncomfortably.   These thoughts had been on her mind too.  “And still governments refuse to act on climate change,” she muttered.

“I could volunteer for the emergency services,” the man reflected, “but I doubt I’d be much use.   I’m a scrawny artist guy not a macho fire fighter.”

“And I’m a writer and poet,” said the woman.

“Make art then,” said a lilting voice beside them.  “Write stories.   Sing.  Dance.   Take photos.    Create, create, create.”

The couple looked around in confusion.   They had thought they were alone.   Both gaped as their eyes fell upon a small ethereal being dancing in the sun beams.

“Oh good, you can see and hear me,” the being sang/spoke.    “I’ve been working at making myself visible to you.   I have a message for you.”

“A message?” the man queried.   His tone hovered between aggression and disbelief.   Seeing fairies was not something he was accustomed to.

“Yes, yes.   Don’t argue.   Just listen.   I don’t know how long I can hold this form.”   The being appeared to flicker in and out of manifestation in the bright sunlight.  “This isn’t my natural state you know.”

“Well who’s the message from,” the man demanded in a practical, no nonsense tone.

“Oh the fairies and all the elementals,” the being said impatiently.   “We’re worried.   The Earth’s in trouble.   We’re trying to contact all the artists, musicians, writers and creatives who are open to new inspiration.   It’s time for you all to get busy.”

“I know,” the woman murmured, “but I’ve been feeling so blocked lately.   My last book sunk like a stone and I haven’t felt like trying again.    I seem to have run out of stories.”

“Put all that aside,” the being advised.   Its voice was more kindly now.  “There’s no time for all that creative angst any more.   After all those creative blocks are really just personal personal obstacles.   They are negative by-products of the wounded ego so many of you creatives are afflicted with.   Now is the time to heal your wounds and see the bigger picture.   Your creative talents are a gift you can use to help heal the world.    You can take whatever raw materials you choose to work with – paint, words, musical notation, wood, stone – even food or garden plants – whatever motivates you to create.    Take those base materials and transform them into new forms that offer, healing and beauty to you as the creators and to those your work reaches.”

The being dancing in front of the couple blazed in the light like a beacon.   “Creativity expressed with intention can make the invisible realms of the imagination visible to others.   It can operate as a portal to worlds of expanded consciousness.   Shifting hearts and minds in this way allows room for healing.”

The man and woman nodded slowly.   The words echoed heart callings they both felt deep down but hardly dared express even to each other.

“The creatives amongst you all are the voice of the time you live in.   Creativity is a gift that moves through you.   It’s not something you own.   It’s greater than you.”   The being’s voice rang like a bell in the morning air.   “Sure it can bring you undone.   It can consume you if you let it.   But, if you use the energy in a trans-personal way, it can uplift you and the world around you.   It’s time now to heal yourselves and step into your greater role as creative healers.”

As the sun climbed higher in the sky the temperature rose further.   The elemental being seemed to dissipate and become part of the white light that beat down upon the dry ground.   At the same time the memory of the encounter shifted into the mythic and neither the man nor the woman was entirely what sure what had just occurred.

“Ooh, it’s so hot,” said the woman.   “I’ve got to get out the sun.   I want to go to my study.   I’ve got a feeling those notes I made a while ago might form the basis of new story after all.”

“Yes,” the man mused.   “I feel like painting today.   I have an urge to express all this.”   He flung his arms out wide as if to embrace the world.   A faraway expression graced his face.   The woman left him to it.   She knew him well enough to know some new creative impulse was brewing within him.  Talking now would only dilute it.   Besides, she had to get home.   She had work to do.


Inner spring

Although it is late summer over here in Oz there is some ancestral part of me that remains connected to the seasons in the northern hemisphere – even after all these generations of Australian born family.

So here I am – betwixt and between seasonal cycles and bio-rhythms.

Seeds within me cry for nurture, for nourishment – the seeds of new dreams – the seeds of ideas – the seeds of creative expression.

The shaman drums
the seeds of new ideas 
spring to mind

003collage made with National Geographic photos

prompt:  https://frankjtassone.com/2019/02/09/haikai-challenge-72-2-9-19-first-spring-gust-haru-ichiban-haiku-senryu-haibun-tanka-haiga-renga

The invisible becoming visible


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A while ago I made a spirit doll of a female shaman with horns.   This morning she caught my eye as I walked past the shelf she stands on.

Questioning me,
the antlered spirit doll
becomes archetypal

Why has she manifested in my life?

Going online I did some research.   Horned goddesses appeared in several ancient cultures but most, like the Egyptian goddesses Hathor and Isis, had cow horn headdresses.   These days images of magical females with similar horns are turning up in contemporary art and popular culture.   The Disney fairy, Maleficent is one.   Online I read a Jungian analysis of Maleficent.

“So this story of the Sleeping Beauty deals with what happens to our feminine feeling consciousness when it is repressed, ravaged and rejected by both our society and our own ego-consciousness.  When we reject this feeling and imaginative aspect of life, it gets twisted and becomes the negative mother—the witch who wants to kill us or curse us.  And we are left cursed with our masculine, left-brain thinking that cuts off our feminine wings and power, grounding us in a masculine reality that hates and fears the Divine Feminine’s beauty, freedom and power.   

But the negative mother doesn’t just make our lives miserable: she pushes us to become more conscious. Her curse ultimately becomes a blessing, since it makes each of us face our fate and live our purpose.  That’s the purpose of archetypal stories—they show us a path to travel that will bring us to greater consciousness.”  emerging archetypal themes

Maleficent is the 13th fairy – the forgotten one.   She represents the connection of women to nature.   In our patriarchal cultural this connection has been ignored – it has become invisible.

Re-appearing now
rewriting Sleeping Beauty
– magical healing

Maleficent is healed by love and the natural world around her is restored to health.    In this way the movie becomes a metaphor for reclaiming our forgotten relationship with nature – a sacred relationship of interconnectedness.

Ancient stories 
of goddesses and fairies
finding new forms

As fascinating as these ideas are they still don’t answer my question as to why the doll I made has antlers.    Following link after link online I eventually found an article about the deer goddesses and female shamans  deer mother  While I am familiar with the ancient horned god, Cernunnos, I didn’t know that there is archaeological evidence of horned females deities and shamanic figures that date to neolithic times.

Landesmuseum Halle (artist reconstruction of neolithic headdress found in Germany – image source here

These ancient female shaman are associated with the deer and reindeer of the far north.  Their sacred significance was about connection to the tree of life, motherhood, fertility, birth and rebirth

Returning to us
images of the sacred
spirit of nature


prompt:  Today’s d’verse prompt gave me a way into writing about something that’s been on my mind all morning.  https://dversepoets.com/2019/02/05/poetics-invisible/  My response stretches the idea of poetry and of haibun  so I hope that’s ok with Merrill – the creator of the prompt (and with the rest of the poets who write for d’verse).


Taking flight

Six years ago, almost to the day, I came to live in this area.  I signed my first lease on a rental property down here on August 14.   I hand the keys back on this last rental on August 18.

This morning I took a carload of possessions I no longer want to a second hand shop out of town.   I’m getting to that stage of packing and sorting where panic is hovering just below the surface – Will I be able to pull this off?   Will I find the money I need?   Will my energy levels hold up?   etc. etc.

On my way back from dumping today’s load I stopped at the Tower Hill lookout to get a bit of perspective on things.   Tower Hill has been a place of major significance for me while I’ve lived here.  I could not count the number of times I’ve had experiences there that have had a profound effect on me.


Today when I stopped my car at the lookout a cold wind blew in off the sea and rain threatened.  As I stood there shivering a large bird erupted from the cover of the trees honking loudly.   It flew in circles over the lake for a while then, as it glided down to earth, another took the air.   Once again it circled across the lake several times until another took flight from a different spot.   The honking was continuous now.  This pattern of flight continued until the cold wind drove me back to my car.

floating world.jpg

The honking made me think the birds were a type of goose but back at home I identified them as Australian Shelducks – a large colourful duck that makes a honking sound.

Because the birds were behaving in such an unusual manner I looked up the symbolic meanings of ducks.    Apparently a flying duck is associated with spiritual freedom.  Here’s one interpretation that really spoke to me today –

Duck spirit animal reminds us that we have webbed feet and, even better, we have wings. We have the power to lift out of the watery emotions that threaten to drown us. We can swim into the depths and find inner silence.

We may be rendered physically powerless to do anything in a situation and feel like the victim. Nevertheless, we always have power in our interior. We can always lift off in our view.    https://www.wildgratitude.com/duck-symbolism/

prompt:  https://obzervashunal.com/2018/07/30/klee-and-dales-cosmic-photo-challenge-beautiful-spirits-of-the-natural-world/



Moving on

The woman was stuck.   She knew it.   Her life was going nowhere.  Struggling to accept that she wondered if going nowhere was what happened when you reached a certain age.   Maybe after the post retirement trips overseas (almost a rite of passage for newly retired Australians in these days of global tourism) the next step was to settle for a life in the shadows – a gradual fading into the background – into invisibility.

Thinking these things she drove to a local bushland re serve.   It was one of the few local places in the area where she felt a connection to the wild – the wild of nature and, more importantly, the wildness that still burned within her heart and mind despite outward appearances.


When the aboriginal man in the Visitor Centre accused of her trying to take his stories when she’d expressed an interest in making glue from tree resin like the aboriginals did she was taken aback.

While he made the coffee she’d ordered the man ranted that he could teach her to make the glue if she proved to him that she wasn’t going to misuse the knowledge.  Disturbed by his aggressive manner the woman had submissively taken the coffee and retreated outside to a table under the trees.

There she felt her own anger mounting.    She attempted to rationalise it away by thinking that perhaps the sight of her had awoken some old anger in the man – maybe some older white woman had once acted in a racist way towards him.  Even so, that woman was not her.   She had simply read about the glue on a notice board in the Visitor Centre and wondered out loud how it was made because synthetic chemical glues gave her a headache.

The coffee was lousy, she realised.   As bitter and unpleasant as the man.   She tipped it out on the ground then wondered what to do with the empty takeaway cup.   There were no rubbish bins in sight.  She had a choice, she then realised.   She could take the coffee cup home and dispose of it there while nursing her unexpressed anger or she could go back in the Centre and attempt to have it out with the man.

After a moment’s reflection she chose the latter.


The man looked disconcerted by the sight of her re-entering the shop.  She held out the empty coffee cup and he curtly told her where the bin was.    She disposed of the cup then politely told the man she had no interest in taking his stories.   She asked him how on earth she was supposed to prove to him that her intentions were honourable.    He said he would know where she was coming from by seeing it in her heart.   She drew herself up straight and replied:  “Well if you can’t tell where my heart is by talking to me there’s nothing I can do to prove to you that I’m on the level.”    There was a flicker of doubt in the man’s face as he computed what she’d said but he quickly resorted to his angry stance.   “How am I supposed to know where you mob are coming from?  I’ve never met you before,”  he snarled.

Resisting the urge to look behind herself and see this mob she was supposed to represent or to argue with the man further the woman made a dignified retreat.

Driving away she found she was shaking.  For days afterwards she kept replaying the incident in her mind.    The man obviously had anger issues but something of what he had said got to her.   Was she unconsciously appropriating aboriginal stuff that didn’t belong to her in an effort to give her life meaning?

Googling cultural appropriation she bought articles written by indigenous people about how cultural stories and artifacts had been taken out of context and turned in commodity items.   She cringed when she read some of it.   That dreamcatcher hanging on the verandah suddenly looked more like cultural appropriation than a boho decoration. The more she looked at certain items in her house, the more she came to question herself.  Just what was she on about?

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She went on a kind of purge of both her house and her own beliefs.   She looked at her own cultural heritage.    Raised a Christian but having left that faith long ago she taken on a hodgepodge of ideas and beliefs from other cultures and traditions.   How much of it really resonated though?    How much of it was hers to take?    To find the answers to those questions she had to dismantle more than the décor she surrounded herself with.   She had to look long and hard at the person she’d become.

In the process the feeling of being stuck dislodged.   Somewhere along the line she began to thank the man.   He’d set her free.  She’d been under a kind of spell.   A spell of her own making in many ways but a spell nonetheless.   That scrap of bush had been a place where she could hide.   Now she no longer felt like going there.   Finally, and at last, she was ready to move on to some other new way of being.   It was time to let that wild woman come out of hiding.   There was nothing to lose but stuckness.

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This post was inspired by Cathy of https://wanderessence.com/ 

Cathy has written in the third person in her recent prose piece  https://wanderessence.com/2018/07/24/chapter-2-missouri-as-it-seemed-part-2/.  Following her lead I have used the device in this post.   I find it gives writing a more objective slant.

Personal Navigation #Writephoto

prompt:   https://scvincent.com/2018/03/29/thursday-photo-prompt-valley-writephoto/

  Photo credit – Sue Vincent

Navigating and plotting a course has been on my mind lately.   Throughout March the Earth’s magnetic field has been buffeted by solar  winds.

http://www.spaceweather.com/ reported on March 27 – “The sun is leaking solar wind.   Our planet has been inside a disorganized gaseous streams blowing 400-500 km/s for more than 5 days.   This has kept Earth’s magnetic field in an unsettled state…”   This report follows other reports throughout the month of solar winds affecting the magnetic fields.

Migrating birds can be thrown off course by these changes for scientists have discovered they see the magnetic field as a dark or light spot on their visual field.  https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070927-magnetic-birds.html

One migratory bird that is at risk of being thrown off course by this year’s barrage of solar winds is the Shearwater.   Every year around this time vast numbers of these birds feel the urge to fly away from their nesting grounds in southern Australia and go north for the winter.

A large colony of these birds nest on a local offshore island that is connected to the mainland by a causeway.  Since moving to the area I’ve spent a lot of time on the island and have learnt about Shearwaters.

Every year around the spring equinox these birds nest in their burrows on the island.   There they raise their young until their internal beacon urges them to fly north for the winter.    A few weeks after the autumn equinox the adult birds take off and fly via New Zealand and Japan to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.  Hunger drives their young to follow in late April.   Although they have rarely flown before these chicks are able to find their way across the length of Pacific Ocean with unerring accuracy.

Some years the mortality rate is high.   One year just before the chicks took flight I walked across the island to see it littered with carcasses of dead birds.   They had all been beheaded by a fox or a domestic dog the night before.   It was a heartbreaking sight.

In the spring of 2013 thousands of adult Shearwaters perished when they were blown off course by unseasonal gales.  Perhaps this year, if the solar winds continue to affect the Earth’s magnetic field, more birds will perish.   While the fate of so many of these birds is utterly tragic it amazes me how many survive and continue to make their perilous migratory journey year after year.

Of course it is debatable whether it or not changes the Earth’s magnetic field affect humans but lately I have been finding it more difficult than usual to navigate my way through life.  Increasingly I have been needing to re-plot my course as old paths dictated to me by external authorities and societal expectations are losing their pull.  As I re-set my compass to my own true North the heroic Shearwaters have become symbols of personal navigation, endurance, right timing and courage.

On a deeper level seeing all the dead Shearwaters makes me think that finding the way towards personal navigation involves letting old personality constructs die so that a new, more authentic self can emerge.

sea haiku

Looking at Sue Vincent’s photo again I realise it probably a photo of a sunrise just as much as it a photo of a sunset.  As this is Easter that makes perfect sense.  The Shearwater in its flying from north to south then south to north symbolises this idea of polarity.



Marking the Earth #Photowrite

The urge to mark the Earth and ground the spiritual into the physical seems to be as old as humanity.    I once saw a program on TV which tracked the journeys of the earliest people out of Africa.    Their routes could be discovered by the traces they have left behind –  paintings on rocks, carvings  and curious configurations of rocks upon the ground.

Rock art near the Grampians in Western Victoria, Australia depicting the creator being Bunjil with two red dingo.  

Sometimes the significance of symbols and constructions of earlier peoples has been lost in the mists of times.   Other times it has been obscured by those who came afterwards.

DSCF0007-01Remains of a Celtic Christian construction in Western Ireland that has been tidied up and reconstructed by over-zealous  20th century archaeologists.   

Medicine Wheels, some of which date back thousands of years, have been discovered across the Americas.   There is also evidence that the aboriginal people of Australia also constructed similar Wheels at some distant time the past.  The Celtic Cross can also been seen as having a similar significance for, in it’s original form it predates Christianity.

While a lot information about the original purpose of these stone constructions has been lost there is something about them that still resonates today.    About a year ago I got an overpowering urge to make a Medicine Wheel in my backyard.   I knew very little about them but felt compelled to learn more and construct some kind of 21st century version.



I went to a short Workshop which introduced me to the basic principles.   The Native American Medicine Wheel can be seen both a physical embodiment of spiritual energy and as a method of charting inner psychological realities.   The Four Directions on the Wheel have correspondences to physical conditions and to aspects of the human experience.  For example, the direction of East can be seen as the place of the physical dawn and also as the direction which signifies illumination and mental clarity.


Since I made the Wheel in my garden my understanding of it has grown a great deal.  Some of my understanding comes through reading online articles about contemporary Native American interpretations of the Wheel.    One thing that really confused me at first was how to apply the Wheel to the southern hemisphere.   It was only when I realised that the polarities of north and south reverse in the southern hemisphere (e.g  water goes down a plug hole in a different direction north and south of the equator) that I was able to figure out how the Wheel could have personal significance for me.   In the northern hemisphere the direction of north is the place of winter but here in the south the sun swings to the north during our summer months.   For us the north is the place of heat and the mid-day sun.  Once I understood that I could adjust my understanding accordingly.

A lot of my understanding of the Wheel is experiential and comes from the time I spend sitting in contemplation.  Sometimes my meditations are deep and trance like, other times they are consist of a short ritualistic walk around the Wheel acknowledging  its significance.  Other times I simply place a garden chair in or near the wheel and sit in a reflective state for a period of time.

While reflections on the attributes of the Four Directions are intriguing it is the centre of the Wheel that holds the most fascination for me.   For me, this central point is a symbolic marking of the Axis Mundi – the vertical axis where the energies of the spiritual realms of the heaven flow into deep in the Earth and connect with the fecund, creative energies of the natural world.  It is  a metaphysical point but it is also a physical one where the energies of the sun and the greater cosmos impregnate the fertile soils of the Earth.   The energies of both realms then unite to produce the abundance and diversity of our physical world.

I find it hard to put these concepts into words but as my intuitive understanding grows I feel myself to inwardly enriched by making a daily connection to the sacred through the Medicine Wheel I have constructed in the physical world of my backyard.


prompt:  https://scvincent.com/2018/03/22/thursday-photo-prompt-carved-writephoto/