Category Archives: Blog

… ups and downs of appreciation …

to thank the heart

that pumps her blood

but is also capricious

to thank her skin

for its fine senses

but not its itches

to thank her tongue

that tastes the wine

though its craving is costly

to thank her stomach

for its friendly moans

but not for its revolts

to thank her nose

for the aroma of coffee

but not for the allergies

to thank the sun

that cheers her day

but she flee its scorching heat

to thank the twilight

for its mystery

though it holds melancholy

to thank the moon

for its splendour

though it upsets her moods

to thank the poets

for their insight

be they opaque

to thank her ancestors

for their endowments

though some are dire

to thank her parents

for the gift of life

though they clipped  her wings

to thank her child

for its joyous arrival

though sacrifices were made

to thank her friends

for their kindness

though losing them hurts

to thank her foes

for her trials

though forgiving  them  is hard

to thank the imperfections

that altered her path

be they often self-destructive

to thank the devices

that ease her days

but not when they malfunction

to thank her ears

for music, wind and rain

though not for the shrill sounds

to thank her eyes

for the world’s colours

though they can overwhelm

to thank her dreams

that bring treasures

but also anxieties

to thank her naivety

for avoiding disputes

though it inhibits her actions

to thank her angel

custodian of her soul

though vital messages are missed …

 

she thanks readers

for appreciating her books

though she longs for reviews …

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Exciting … If you type … Ashen Venema, Shapers … into google, you’ll find several platforms that allow you to pre-order #shapers. The e-book link will follow once the paperback is released.

*

The image above is a painting by Cynthia Holt, inspired by some of my poems. I lost contact. Can’t find her now

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… my mind – kept by a stranded pirate …

Imagine your brain functions like a psychic radio, tuned to a self-reflective universal mind, the field of consciousness of a cosmic being that gathers, transmits and receives information (aka Noosphere in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s sense, or the Akasha in Indian cosmology.)

We interact with this field. Some thought waves are fuzzy, others strong. We exchange thoughts woven from strands of routine interests, be they based on curiosity, fear, obsession, faith, doubt, novel ideas, myths, facts, dreams, wisdom … Let’s assume the way our brain radio communicates with this field shapes the smaller sphere of our individual mind.

I depict my mind as an island in a tumultuous sea, operated by an idiosyncratic stranded pirate, me.

On rough weather days, when the radio emits white noise, my pirate feels moody, lacks motivation to tackle survival chores, and vacantly skims across the crest of waves spanning towards the horizon. On other days the pirate is energised, be it by rage about world events washed up at the shore of the island, or the sun’s beauty shimmering back from the moon. On occasions the pirate is inspired to dive under the surface, where reflections are held in silence and darkness. Dream-stations may reveal the whereabouts of treasures deep under. There is a reoccurring rhythm to this process. In recent years my pirate has developed a bizarre humour, and tends to favour the dream stations, especially when the quest for coherence and meaning among the debris washed up at the shore seems a tad too tedious.

Maybe it’s the backward arc of old age, but memories pop up suddenly, before and after sleep, succinct impressions, lucid images of past and future events, faces, gestures, objects, the unspoken, and concepts too … associations are sought. A revision of the pirate’s life narrative is feeding surreal dreams. Intuitive hunches chase relevance. How do these images of people, landscapes, houses, objects and concepts, familiar and unfamiliar, relate to now?

Could the restless question be trivial as well as dangerous?

Calm returns when my pirate observes plant life and the movement of animals, then a wonderful symbiotic symphony resonates from cells within the body. Intimate knowledge arises, which also subtly confirms that my pirate has this intimate sense about people, too, and, well, just about anything. I’m hesitant to give weight to this phenomenon, since those who share deep knowledge without collectively approved evidence were and are often crucified. I don’t know about you, my readers, but with some controversial subjects my pirate is a little reticent.

It can’t be denied that our conditioned individual mind has access to primal clusters of knowledge, as well as intuiting visions of the future? What do we do with this information? It’s frustrating to realise that we have limited control over what we attract and reflect. A higher intelligence is at work, perpetuating divisions while consciousness expands.

The universal mind and its network of individual minds remains a complex mystery.

we all use thoughts which

once animated travel

to destinations

distance seems irrelevant

 

a wide open mind

may suffer indigestion

mirroring too much

spook actions from far away

 

thoughts are absorbed or bounce back

harmonise or clash

our energy in motion

signals at high speed

intention matters

 

‘Thoughts are beings that generate … One thought of kindness, gathers a thousand beings of love and kindness around one.’            Hazrat Inayat Khan

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… cover design for Shapers …

I’m very pleased with the cover art of ‘Shapers’ and have been hugging it like a baby, though it’s time to share it with you. The process started with a few imaginative designs done by Rachel, a designer colleague of my son. One early sample was based on the image of an ammonite fossil, which I photographed some years ago at the house of a friend. The image, while relevant to the time-travelling aspect of the novel, turned out too heavy, overpowering the text of the title. My son sourced a paler fossil and photographed it in high resolution. Rachel’s new design has now a mythical quality. I love the subtle and delicate details.

The design resonates well with the cover of ‘Course of Mirrors’ the prequel to ‘Shapers.’ Both novels can stand alone, as immersive adventures with a timeless psychological theme depicting the journey of individuation. Once the sequel is published, I hope readers will be curious enough to explore the prequel (see book page,) which sparked this odyssey through time.

I’ve previously shared small excerpts of ‘Shapers,’ but here a short description …

*   *   *

Shapers – an underground community of scientists and mystics – must take subtle action in a time of political tyranny in Rhonda.

Continuing her search for the Real, the rebellious young Ana recasts as Mesa, centuries ahead to Rhonda, AD 2450, where Governors uphold a law that inhibits emotions as the solution to crime. As anarchy looms, Mesa navigates her soul bond with Ana and Cara.

Mesa, an agent of the Ypocs, a genetically enhanced species, is re-called by Cassia, the Shaper oracle, from a future timeline to alleviate the crisis in Rhonda. As Mesa aids the survival of Rhondeans and Shapers, she must also explore the origin and myth of her being and her tribe of Ypocs to find clues as to why time is slowing in her utopian world.

Time is a bridge that Ana, Mesa and Cara traverse towards the realisation that they are a triple soul, existing in different places at once. Each bears the urgent task to mend relationships across parallel epochs.

As they encounter each other, they must explore the myth of past, present and future …

*   *   *

The text of ‘Shapers’ is presently going through a last proof check, helped by my faithful editors, who seem to never tire reading the story – a most precious gift to my confidence.

I’ll update my readers here as to the publishing date. Thank you for maintaining interest in my projects and thoughts.

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… excited about my next novel …

I feel excited, because a first cover design idea for ‘Shapers,’ the sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors’ has arrived. I like it a lot, though more ideas are worked on. My son found a wonderful designer, Rachel, who also likes my writing … a bonus. Not yet, but sometime soon I’ll post a cover reveal. The manuscript is presently being formatted by Matador/Troubador, a high-quality self-publishing imprint. I’m too old to wait months on end for agents or publishers to respond to queries. It’s their loss.

View from my workspace

In Shapers, time is a bridge that Ana, Mesa and Cara traverse towards the realisation they are a triple soul existing in different places. They each have an urgent task to mend relationships across parallel epochs. As they gradually come to encounter each other so they must explore the myth of past, present, future. 

From the prologue … The underground community of Shapers – scientists with a mystical bent – take subtle actions in a time of political tyranny. Their shape-shifting Oracle, Cassia, can call earthlings from any time or space into the present when a catalyst is needed …

In AD 2450, Cassia calls back Mesa from a future time to alleviate a crisis in Rhonda. Mesa is an agent of the Ypocs, a genetically-enhanced species. Answering the call, Mesa uses her intuitive powers for a double task of assisting the survival of Rhondeans and Shapers and of exploring the origins of her tribe of Ypocs to find clues about why time slows down in her tribe’s utopian world.

I thought I treat my readers to a segment from the first chapter of Shapers …

Chiming Worlds     

“Wake up.” I nudged Luke, alerting him to the pale mist pouring over the rim of the sea, like the kind that swirls up when warm milk hits a cold pail.

Luke rubbed his eyes and frowned. “I don’t like the silence,” he said, peeling himself from the sailcloth covers of the small lifeboat Captain Jacko Ponto had granted us as sleeping quarters, since all cabins were taken at the time of our late booking.

We were sailing under three square-rigged masts towards the Western Isles. For weeks, since leaving Itaka, our journey on board the impressive Engrail had been favoured by lively currents. This morning, water stretched deadly calm like liquid silver, a novel and beautiful surprise which also struck me as ominous. The stifling air mystified everyone on board. Sails hung slack. Sailors assembled and stared vacantly across the waters that lay flat and deceptively serene. Luke joined them.

The sailors had tolerated Luke’s interest in their acrobatic feats, but they did not permit him to climb the riggings, to trim or adjust sails. He kept fit by practising martial arts, while I became the ship’s mascot. Elevated on coils of rope, with paper and charcoal in my lap, I drafted impressions of Luke, which were blurred with recollected gestures of his twin, Rufus, who burdened my conscience. I churned out sketch after sketch of fellow travellers, men perched on masts pencilled into the sky, and glittering currents and blustering sails.

Luke and I counted time by the ascending sounds from the ship’s bell, until eight rings called for the watch to change. Last night, as every night, we had cuddled together in our snug lifeboat under the gleaming fabric of stars, into which we wove our dreams. Salty breezes flavoured stories we shared, secrets that troubled our lives.

Today I pondered our reckless exit from Rusk towards open horizons, spurned by the mysterious quest proposed by Cassia, the prophetess, as Luke called her now, and, as it turned out, the Oracle of the Shapers, a secret organisation that endured across time. Cassia once told me: You are the bridge, Ana.

My musings were broken by the noisy splutter of an emergency engine, which promptly ceased to function. Luke returned. “Sailors grumble, they’re called below deck and use oars,” he said. The monotonous creaking of oars did nothing to lift our mood. Passengers wandered aimlessly, gaping in vain to distinguish sea from sky, which had blended together into grey mist. Soon people congregated in groups where plenty of rum was shared. Cheering each other with rude songs, shrill enough to chase ghosts away, some people tumbled into each other’s arms as if a puppeteer had tangled up the strings.

I escaped to our lifeboat, to re-read my latest journal entries of Cara, my soul companion. Luke stayed nearby, keeping watch. He thought Cara, whose messages I transcribed into my journal, was a reverie. I had omitted to mention that she lived in a time alien to ours, centuries ahead. When I grew up lonely at Katun Court and sensed the deep wrong in my family, Cara spoke frequently as a voice moving through my head. But once the world unravelled during my river journey between Nimrich and Katun provinces, her presence became sporadic. A few days ago I chose to initiate contact by addressing a message to her. To my delight, she responded. Sentences appeared as if written on air, fragments of events, which I recorded in my journal. Cara’s journey had assumed an uncanny resonance with my own:

I thought I had lost you, Ana. Like you, I accompany a lover on a quest. Let me tell you about us. Your Luke is my Dillon. We are crossing the Atlantic by plane to America. Four weeks from now they’ll elect a new president. From my window seat I watch Canada’s lakes far below – pink mirrors strewn among purple damask. We have been chasing the sunset for hours, bound for Washington D.C., with a stopover in New York to change planes.

An icy wind greets us. I wear a coat sewn by hand from a charcoal-coloured blanket, trimmed with blue velvet. I could be a successful designer instead of a poor seeker with expedient philosophies, such as money obstructs the spiritual quest. My coat has rustic elegance but scarcely keeps out the fierce cold of Capitol Hill. Our charming escort delivers us to one of our hosts. My limbs quiver like frosted leaves. It is Christmas Eve.

We have a festive lunch with students who share this spacious house beyond George Town. Our host’s mother is old and ailing. The door to her room beyond the hall of the dining room is permanently open. From her bed she listens to our table talk. Imagine – all of a sudden she sits bolt upright and points a finger at us. ‘You don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to do anything. They were the first words God yelled out loud when he made the universe.’ With that she slumps back into her pillows. Some of our party smile, knowingly, others gaze absentmindedly at the white turkey slices on their plates, adorned with glaringly red cranberry sauce and green sprouts. While our chatter about spiritual matters resumes, I ponder whether the ultimate clue to our search has possibly just come from the ancient woman across the hall. But it can’t be that simple.

The scenes and places Cara described felt alien, but the incident with the old woman made me laugh and lifted my spirits over conditions on the Engrail:

Dillon avoids talking about his quest. Yet our eccentric status, partial to the arcane path of the fool, and our credentials, arouse curiosity. As Dillon elegantly steers the table conversation away from us, we end up listening with growing amazement to a rapid succession of expositions – on Crazy Wisdom versions of Buddhism, Gurdjieff, Tantra, Zen, Kundalini, Agni Yoga, Theosophy and various Sufi paths. Everyone in this house follows a different teaching. America has supermarkets for everything, including exotic tastes of the divine.

But let’s assume you know deep inside something that does not correspond to what is accepted as possible. Should you express your truth it would be ridiculed. On Boxing Day we meet the main host we came to see. Imagine someone of high standing in society who radiates authenticity and talks with natural ease about experiences you tend to doubt you ever had; imagine that someone drops the end of his cigar into your half-empty coffee cup to jolt you from one dream into another. This someone is our host.

Here’s some feedback re: ‘Course of Mirrors,’ the prequel, on my website:

Among excerpts from ‘Shapers,’ a random one, a time-jump to 1970s Derrynane: https://courseofmirrors.com/excerpts/

I’ve not yet mastered the fancy new design features of WordPress, so any high-lightened links will lead you away from this post, and you need to backtrack to return to this site.

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… psychogenic secrets …

You and I have secrets so well hidden in dark corners of our psyche; the only chance of discovery is us bumping into them through some synchronistic event. Angels may be involved. Secrets keep us under a spell, just like we get needy for the absent puzzle pieces that prevent a scene from completion, which nags on our sense of cohesion. Depending on the temperament of any given day this can result in restlessness, procrastination, or apathy. The pieces exist, we know that much. But in our lives the missing pieces represent holes, patches of nothingness that beg to be filled. And some will never be filled, unless imagination enters like a grace, and offers fresh possibilities.

Beneath this yearning for cohesion chimes a faint drone. From that drone a vague theme, image or a melody we can’t place may arrive from nowhere, persisting in teasing us.

I sum this sensation up as ‘waiting.’ Waiting for the fog to clear, waiting for a connection, a response to a question, waiting for a birth, waiting for a death, waiting for the heart’s eye to light up, waiting for inspiration, waiting for a door to open, a hint … like in Samuel Beckett’s absurd play, ‘Waiting for Godot,’ where the passive Estragon and the impatient Vladimir are adrift in their minds, hoping for a meaningful sign. Some early viewers angrily left the theater. Maybe it annoyed them that the play exposes the absurd inner dialogues everyone experiences at times. Critics have voiced fascinating interpretations. For me, the philosophical variance between Aristotle and Plato comes to mind.

Years ago, my dear Sufi friend/teacher, Fazal Inayat-Khan, introduced the term ‘psychogenic secret’ during a workshop he instigated. The term could be understood as the distorted or buried memory of an incident that compels our behaviour in ways we cannot fathom. Consequently, shadowy aspects of our personality may appear in relationships, when others see us in ways we cannot comprehend. Consistency upholds our mental habits until their significance wears down. But once we discover and acknowledge a twist in our interpretation of relational events, a thread will untangle and jingle the famed ‘aha moment.’

It is tricky to share a personal experience, though an example of twisted psychology is in order here. Far back, at primary school, a triangle of girls was jealous of me for having as friend and neighbour the favourite boy in our class. He had train sets and lots of Enid Blyton books. They alleged I had been stealing stuff from their and other pupils’ desks. Their concerted accusation required me to empty my schoolbag in front of the head teacher and the whole class. The crafty girls had planted a fancy pencil, a sharpener, a metal ruler and a pop-star image between my notebooks. The items were quickly claimed by their owners. Disputing the abhorrent deed was hopeless. I felt deeply humiliated. And my parents were unable to refute the evidence. The insult sunk deep and festered.

Much later, during student years, I casually stole a chunk of butter from a shop to round up a meal for friends. Observing my lack of conscience, and the ease, even pleasure, with which I stole the butter mortified and shamed me. It took a while to process my turmoil until I drew the connection which stopped me in my track towards becoming a bank robber with supernatural powers … I realised it was my irrational comeuppance, a kind of revenge for being once wrongly blamed and shamed.

My example might spark your imagination. Intricacies as to how psychogenic secrets can operate, be they based on humiliation, small or big traumas and betrayals, frequently appear in fairy tales, stories, novels, including mine, notably in the forthcoming sequel to Course of Mirrors, ‘Shapers,’ to be released in spring.

I’ve learned to tolerate psychogenic secrets I’m ignorant of, the holes in my life, by allowing my dreamer to use the empty patches as frames for stories that humour the unknown.      

 

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… our attachments …

We endow obvious practical functions to clothes tools, furniture and any number of items we use daily and which therefore become intimates, like I have a favourite knife, cup, spoon, breakfast bowl and so on. I remember a T-shirt, apricot-coloured, with the iconic Snoopy character on it. Over the years the fabric of the shirt faded and softened beautifully. Finally I was wearing it in bed, for comfort, until, after various fixes, it fell apart. A sad day!

We also endow objects with symbolic, creative, guiding, protective and blessing potencies. Beyond reason – be it by a kind of enchantment – we grant them magical qualities through sustained affection. For me these are stones, shells, driftwood, feathers, or small ornaments given to me by friends.

Starting as children, we’ll adopt what Donald Winnicott called transitional objects, meant to restore the lost closeness to mother. Also early on we may express interests that foreshadow an inborn zeal. So beyond toys, teddy bears, blanket, pets, books, and so on, we bond with anything that fascinates us, initiating a passion that could encapsulate the myth of our lives. In my case this became the bridging of divides. My first novel started with the image of a bridge.

I wrote elsewhere … a constant sense of oneness is not what evolution is about. In a time and space structured cosmos we cannot cage harmony. Reality is the result of contradiction.

Objects and interests we seek or meet, may relate to a particular element, earth, water, fire, air, aether. Quite often our vocational and professional activities relate to an element. Also, one or the other of our senses may take hold of us, the love of light, shapes and colours, a fondness of sound, touch, smell, taste, or a love of metaphysics. Attachments drive our interests throughout life.

Strong affinity with an element may bring the challenge of dealing with another element we feel less in resonance with. The psyche plays at balancing extremes. For example, my astrological birth chart confirms a predominance of fire and air signs, fast energies, fierce, intense; even obsessional. I can still hear my mother saying, with a touch of exhaustion, ‘You’ve got a vivid imagination.’ My authority defying associations caused the odd trouble with teachers. In compensation I had need of grounding, befriending earth, literally digging and planting, which taught me patience. And I’m calmed by the vicinity of water. My childhood was spent around lakes, rivers and ponds.

We hold our loved ones and friends dear. We give significance to certain animals, trees, plants, prominent landmarks. We cherish gadgets, periods of history, art styles, places, habitual rituals and ideas. Each bonding adds to the creation of a strong net. To lose a strand precious to us, requires a child-like faith that our relational energy net can be mended and re-aligned to our guiding light. This net is all about relationships, inner and outer, informing the purpose of our extended self.

Over recent years, efforts to dis-endow some of my attachments, among them endless folders with notes on projects and visions I’ve slim chances to achieve in this round, left me melancholic, but through the more malleable net sneaked fresh insights and mysteries. It also helped me to focus on writing my novels. ‘Course of Mirrors’ will have its sequel, ‘Shapers,’ published next spring.

When it comes to love-worn objects that have gracefully aged, they are clinging on, as if glued to the heart.  https://courseofmirrors.com/2015/10/28/patina-beauty-of-use-age-wabi-sabi/

What are your enduring attachments?

To lighten up these dark times, a few lines from Beannacht – Blessing – by J. O’Donohue

… May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

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… the tedious thoughts of redundant species …

That’s my poet speaking … ignore for now.

My poet sits in a corner, banned, feeling dejected, with shaking head, upset about my philosopher’s need to fret about social realities, which, however, can’t be ignored. So there goes …

With longstanding friends around the world, and across the channel between Britain and the continent, my kind feels stranded on this island. By my kind I mean ordinary people, who took opportunities to travel, read, are forever curious and learned to be tolerant of differnces.

Where time ago, I used to send well over 100 Xmas cards, this is now too costly. I discovered that posting a card/letter to Europe, for example, has gone up to nearly £2.00. Recently I sent a slim book to Amsterdam, at standard rate for £9.00. When the book hadn’t arrived after four weeks, seemingly lost, I sent another copy, this time with tracking and signature request, costing £13.65 – a week passed, and it has not arrived.

I feel my roots being severed, much like what happens with the ruthless assault on nature, perpetuated by ignorance of politicians and the greed of heedless corporations. My network of connections is resigned to the Metaverse, devoid of touch and smell.

The physical world has become bothersome, unprofitable.

In that vein … banks are closing, arguing that ‘most’ people bank online. Small post-offices are closing for not being cost-effective; supermarket checkouts are replaced by self-scanning ports in order to save on personnel, and small shops fold, since rents are becoming untenable.

And I, by using a simple mobile, not a smart phone, am already a redundant species.

My lot could be worse. My son is caring and offers support, as do friends when they sense I’m struggling. But there are large sections of our societies who, be it through age, or dire lack of resources, are cast into isolation. This is wrong, and ultimately creates germs of stress, depression and, basically, insanity, affecting every age group. Beyond shelter and food, people want to feel useful. They need community, connections, and companionships. It’s not just the aging or impoverished citizens, or migrants, but generally many dispirited young people who experience a lack of meaningful social engagement.

The decline of spaces where people can meet face to face and chat requires novel solutions.

For decades I envisioned housing projects, with accommodations of varied sizes, where young and old people could occupy independent units around a kind of village green, with a communal building at its centre. Apart from a shared space for meetings and celebrations, this building could house a shared library and IT facilities accessible to everyone. Residents could look after each other and offer their skills on a voluntary basis. All sorts of mutual exchanges could happen, from childcare to animal sharing, transport sharing, tool sharing, skill sharing, sharing of knowledge, therapeutic activities. I also imagine an art studio, and a vegetable/flower garden, tended by those who love gardening – the list is endless. More than a dream, it is achievable. This way of living may not suit everyone, but what’s in the way of such housing projects to happen on a large scale?

I’m not an influencer. I can’t make enough people believe in enlightened social projects to make them manifest. Many influencers, who reach the political stage, have to sadly compromise the integrity of their ideals on the way up the slippery pole. So my various great ideas over the last decades, like this one …  https://courseofmirrors.com/2012/05/15/is-a-parent-ever-unemployed/ … are slumbering, awaiting their time. I’m surely not the only one who mulls over solutions to the sad state of affairs around the world.

With hard work and scarce financial gain I did manifest a few worthwhile social visions over the years … art projects, therapy groups, support groups for carers, an independent living project for people with disabilities. At one point I even won a care in the community award for a charity. I co-facilitated creative workshops in many prisons, set up by a friend, who also achieved funding via the Arts Council. There was a time when I ran training courses for Parent Link facilitators, to prepare parents and teachers to run a 12 session course on reflective listening. The charity was celebrated by all course participants, but needed a fundraiser. Half-hearted promises of government support never happened, so the marvellous brainchild of the founders of the Parent Network charity, Ivan Sokolov and Jacquie Pearson had to fold.

These days I’m done with groups; the many wonderful groups I supported, and was supported by, now appear in my time-travelling novels.

I glance at my poet, my wise poet nods, with a shy smile, and says, “All is Well.”

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… autumn musings …

Daytime shortens here

And my dreams drift in twilight 

I reach out to friends

Sensing what is not expressed

Mere words won’t convey

The wistful curve of aging:

Our rites of passage

The oblique motions of love

Joint woes and delights

Parties under a full moon

Old secrets re-found

The joy of every new birth

Our shared memories

Flow round and round forever

In parallel realms

We fling stories to the void

Calling on magic

We count losses of

Dear companions and places

The death of loved ones

Those vanished treasured landmarks

Familiar routines

Our rights being curbed …

As if numbers were cyphers

Of life’s mystery

Though they tell us nothing new

After all – Zero

Faces both past and future

With blank indifference

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… dear old, dear new, how do we marry you …

I watched some of the pageant ceremonies, processions of dignitaries, colourful guards and regiments under hundreds of flags, and I watched the new King’s formal appointments in the wake of his mother’s death. I watched in wonder at the order and precision with which the various events were executed, with drums and trumpets, every footstep synchronized, left, right, left, right … all in the presence of thousands of people lining the streets, or witnessed through the BBC coverage by innumerable viewers around the world. The deep gratitude people express for Queen Elizabeth the second is not surprising considering the innumerable people and organisations she engaged with and visibly supported from her anointed position, but as the display continues, day by day, the commemorations edge on the surreal.
 
Any momentous public outpouring of grief tends to compound our experiences of personal bereavements, and, of course, reminds us of our mortality. This event, however, is about more than the loss of a beloved Queen who used her privilege and symbolic power through seven decades to serve as best as she could. Her loss rocks the solid traditional constitution she represented. While the centuries’ old tradition of this monarchy sits uncomfortable within modern society, it is nostalgically clung to and treasured.
 
The queues of people eager to pay tribute to the Queen’s lying in state in Westminster Hall have been, and continue to be many miles long, presently with a wait of 24 hour during a chilly night. All recorded: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-629217 And there’s a queue tracker on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJxDwDzAwEs
 
Within the crazy weaving of my mind I was searching for a thread to make sense of the unfolding pattern of unavoidable changes that loom to endanger the old order, which always calls for transitional objects that sooth the loss and helps to honour both the familiar old and the unknown new potential of the future. What can serve here as a transitional object, something to hug for comfort, equivalent to a Linus blanket?
 
I was reminded of a theme my former Sufi friend and teacher, Fazal Inayat- Khan, often explored. In the prologue to a book, Old Thinking, New Thinking, containing a handful of his lectures he reluctantly agreed to have published during the 1970’s, long out of print, Fazal gave credit to both, the old ways (formal and reliable) and the new ways that seek essence.
 
                         ‘Old thinking is a claim and new thinking is an aim.’
 
Could there be an equal validation of form and essence for the UK monarchy?
 
When my mind floats in a vague space, I tend to express my ambivalent thoughts through Haiku:
 
a pendulum swings
left right ahead back
circling by the gravity
of hidden forces
 
dryness is conservative
until it overheats
moisture conducts the traffic
of novel ideas
until rain floods the bedrock
 
Kings or Queens were historically regarded as divinities. The afterglow of such divine aura still glimmers around the mantle of monarchies in our world, and a yearning for the divine remains, with the need for an ideal, something whole to give meaning to our lives. But can a monarchy still serve as such an ideal?
 
Ultimately, the Kingdom to come is of course the Kingdom within, where archetypal qualities can spark a force that steers and rules our destiny.
 
As familiar faces of relatives and friends leave an imprint in our psyche, so do faces of people in public life. The media showers us with faces of celebrities, providing icons and avatars that embody qualities we aspire to, or despise.

Dissidents against England’s monarchy highlight the extravagant financial privileges of royalty, and the historic trail of devastating exploitation during its colonial past. Apologies and reparations must surely be ongoing. And then there is the Commonwealth, which some proclaim to be a post-colonial club: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43715079

I’m a dreamer, without allegiance to a crown or state. I’m wary of crowds and any hive mind, totally unsuited to get embroiled in arguments about the monarchy. My gripes are with the unpleasant character assassinations of individuals, found on popular internet platforms.

Character assassination resembles kleptomania, an irresistible urge to steal someone’s glamour.

What further is there to be said right now? Do my readers here envisage a Kingdom within?

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… remember me – the body implores …

Day and night we receive and tie up new thoughts, mostly subliminal. By keeping track of this neuron dance we find fresh associations that expand the architecture of our imagination. Sudden insights lift our spirit. Frequently practical innovations arrive, novel ways of doing things. But with thoughts adrift, we often fail to be present to our bodies, and this neuron dance turns mechanical. We may be hampered by depression, presently a global dis-ease, but life perks up a little when we listen to our body.

‘Remember me,’ it implores. ‘Love me, give me attention.’

Stretching limbs calms the stress in fascia tissues and muscles, stirs the senses, and deepens breathing. Food tastes better, small things delight, movement gives pleasure.

‘We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.’ … Einstein  

The unconscious collective psyche continuously churns up vital signals through the body, but has long been denigrated by wrong-footed ideologies … the greatest crime against humanity, since the neglect of nature’s voice led to the abuse that threatens the balance of life on this planet, and our health.

Nature – the wild, matter, psyche breath, being, anima, the feminine principle – contains all life. The term has acquired many slants of meaning during previous centuries. We have now established frames through which nature is perceived … the scientific, economic, political, apocalyptic, holistic, visionary, philosophical, romantic, and the spiritual frame, for example. Each outlook influences the relationship we have with nature, as a person, group or nation.

Since all human innovations are inspired by nature, every manmade thing is natural, yet by lengthening the duration-span of too many products, nature’s cyclic process of decay is disrupted, often with dire consequences. It’s like stuffing ourselves with food the body can neither absorb nor digest. Controlling nature’s rhythm does not work. The best we can attempt is to seek rapport, fall into step, attune and harmonise with this dance we are part of.

Quite likely all the varied frames which determine our relationship with nature were formed by the wish to make the unconscious force of the wild psyche more bearable.

We demand nature’s protection. This includes humans. Do the ecological villains among us also deserve protection? In a psycho-therapeutic practice this would be considered as the expansion of consciousness through befriending and owning the shadow. I forever wish this map of knowledge was introduced to the educational curriculum.

First call is the body. If the body’s messages are fully received (giving varied frames their due) and understood (in a deep loving sense,) the messages are always essentially true. Only humans manipulate and deceive, by ignoring and belittling nature’s raw truths. The planet suffers the same neglect. Our best efforts at deep listening will always be partial.

I count on the constant minority that grasps a wide spectrum of meaning in relation to every rift that endangers our world. While this minority tries to uphold a wider view, as a small collective it is not geared for action, knowing well that whatever succeeds in being legally determined cannot please all, but usually intensifies disagreements, especially in cultures where emotions and thoughts are censored for political ends.

One could say the will to action is diluted by the wider view. But there exists a subtler use of the will, like rehearsing positive outcomes, which requires imagination. Efforts of this subtle will are hardly visible; but they no less influence and create our reality. This subtle will is based on trusting the intelligence of nature, of soul, the One Being, the Spirit of Guidance.

A prayer/song by Hazrat Inayat Khan:

Let thy wish become my desire

Let thy will become my deed

Let thy word become my speech beloved

Let thy love become my creed

Let my plant bring forth thy flower

Let my fruit produce thy seed

Let my heart become thy lute beloved

And my body thy flute of reed

Crossing and bridging divides is the theme of my life. As a child I came to believe in a spirit that guided me, sparked by a print that hung in my paternal grandparent’s bedroom, where a guardian angel leads a girl and a boy along a rickety bridge across a ravine with rapids rushing below. The image left a deep impression, and, over the years, similar images appeared in dreams, revealing the scene’s symbolic power. Training and working as a transpersonal therapist I often helped clients to explore the complex relationship between the masculine and feminine principle (Anima and Anima) active within each individual and across the gender divide. But most useful work on the road to greater wholeness begins with listening to what the body knows, and, by implication, what the self-regulating planet tells us.

The theme of bridges plays in my novel, Course of Mirrors, and continues (in the sense of bridging time) in a sequel, Shapers, which I hope to publish this or next year.

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