Tag Archives: inspirations

… sharing a heart-warming present …

A few years ago I decided to value my writing enough to make sacrifices.  I’ve since devoted every spare moment to this solitary word-sculpting activity, with no idea where it will lead, and therefore feel tremendous joy whenever my compositions arouse curiosity, and especially when someone groks the universal myth I struggle to filter through my individual imagination, my psyche.  Why do writers, and artists, share the facets stirring in the depth of their soul without the promise of a resonanating  audience? … It’s a mystery.

Image by Cynthia Holt JPEG riverside8

Cynthia Holt, living on the other side of this planet, created this painting for me, inspired by two of my poems, Riverhead, and Sleeping Sun … It struck me that the image relates, in essence, equally to the constellation of my novels, yet to be published.

Thank you, Cynthia, for your spontaneous offering. It speaks to how, through interconnections, face to face, or in the realm of the virtual web, we stimulate each other’s creativity.

The image can remind us of the two worlds, indispensable to each other, which we bridge – and how against the canvas of pregnant darkness, the spirit’s eternal light defines our unique myths towards consciousness.

A peaceful Christmas time, and abundant Blessings for the New Year to all …

I’m looking forward to spending a few days in Amsterdam with friends and family.

Since I posted this, Cindy has done a most beautiful post on her mermaid tavern site, including a poem by T S Eliot, a song, and a chart of the Hero’s Journey.

http://mermaidtavern.net/1/post/2015/01/the-law-of-three-artistspoets-and-quantum-physics.html

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… it’s possible to swim against the stream …

Just saying …

P1060176 - smaller

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… the sorcerers apprentice …

Goethe in Roman Campagna (1786) by J H W Tischbein

Goethe in Roman Campagna (1786) by J H W Tischbein

Science arose from poetry … when times change the two can meet again on a higher level as friends …   J W von Goethe

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

It’s my day – since for once

The old one has gone

So now the spirits shall live

And do exactly as I say

I took note of the words

The custom – the spells

So with strong resolve

I’ll work miracles as well.

Rise up and surge

Across the gap

To the end that

Water may flow

And in rich effusion

Fill the tub for my bath

Come old broom,

Take those tattered rags

Slave you’ve been for aeons

Now let my will be your task!

On two legs stand

With a head atop

Get on with it – hurry

With the water pot!

Rise up and surge

Across the gap

To the end that

Water may flow

And in rich effusion

Fill the tub for my bath

Look – he’s running to the shore

Indeed has reached the river

And with lightning speed

Returns to pour once more

A second time already!

How the pool is brimming!

How each new pail

With water fills!

Stand still!

You’ve done your lot

Richly measured

Were your favours!

Stop! Stop! Oh woe!

The word – I forgot

Oh – the word that in the end

Will make him what he’s been!

There he runs and nimbly drags!

Would you be the broom of old!

More floods he rapidly relays

In quick succession

A hundred rivers

Rush at me

No! I can’t allow

This any longer

I’ll seize him!

This is malice!

I’m growing fearful now

What mien! What scowl!

Oh you hellish brainchild

Shall the whole house drown?

Over every sill I see

Floods of water surging

What a hideous broom!

That will not listen!

Rod that you’ve been

Stand but still again!

So you won’t quit?

I’ll catch and grab you

And with a sharp axe

I’ll swiftly split

The parched wood

Neatly down the middle!

Look – dragging he returns!

I’ll throw myself at you – sprite

Promptly you’re down

Crushing sinks the smooth blade

Bravely aimed indeed!

Look – in two he’s broken!

Now I can hope

My breath is freed!

Oh woe! Oh woe!

Both parts

Stand up in haste

As slaves

Complete and ready!

Help me – oh mighty powers!

And they’re racing on! Awash

Are hall and staircase

What an abysmal span of water

All the wise – hear my plight!

Oh – the old one comes – at last!

Great is the need!

The spirits I have called upon

I cannot now release.

‘Into the corner

With you Brooms!

Be no more!

Since as spirits

For their purpose

Only the wise call you forth.’

*    *    *

‘Der Zauberlehrling’ by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.                                                                                                      Translation: Ashen Venema, November 2006

*    *    *

I grew up with Goethe’s work and it still inspires. Occasionally I attempt free translations of German poems. I work on them forever, never satisfied. Those who know other translations of ‘Der Zauberlehrling’ may enjoy the subtleties. The poem is timeless. There are two kinds of ‘Will’ – the personal and the universal, to harmonise them is a lifelong task.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe

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… surprise – blog tour interlude …

Ruth - watering plants in her allotment.

Ruth – watering plants in her allotment.

Wow – my friend Ruth Paris  joined a blog tour, which is the ritual of charting and connecting-up undiscovered blog-islands in the virtual sea. I was so impressed she took on this challenge I’ve so far avoided, my hand reached for the baton before I knew it. Besides, Ruth’s posts about her ‘middle-of-the-roundabout allotment project’  on her Huerto site are a pleasure to share. Here some photos from Sept 2011. Her recipe page alone is worth a visit … and certainly the virtual islands of the friends she introduces. And it’s true, she does pick out the teeny little stones and whispers encouragement to the weakest seedling. Look at her ‘about’ page and you find she also wears another hat.

The theme of gardens has irresistible appeal. I like the thought Ruth shares, inspired by our joint friend Shazadi – since we can’t change the world we can at least cultivate our gardens – which applies to earth-tilling plots as well as the metaphorical kind. In that sense, here are my responses to the 4 deceptively simple questions this tour asks of its participants.

1 – What am I working on?

I’m editing my second novel, a sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors,’ completed two years back. Last year I was contracted by a small, devoted publisher and am looking forward to having my first novel released in a few months. English not being my first language (more about this here) – allows me the perception of a stranger in the strange land of my psyche, not unlike the protagonist in R. Heinlein’s book. In a way we’re all exiles owning a planet somewhere – be it an inner world.

2 – How does my work differ from others of this genre?

I puzzle over the term – genre. It may apply to career writers, which I’m not. Writing is my moving on from photography, another tool to symbolically express what drives me. Set in an imaginary world, my characters outward their inner conflict, the archetypal tragic/comic exodus I feel entitled to elaborate on. If genre it must be, my novels could be called mythic poetic adventures, gripping magical quests.

3 – Why do I write what I do? 

I may fool myself, but I can’t help thinking that re-creating or co-creating history can make us whole. I’m fascinated by how our fragile identity is formed through early mirroring, how people and environments define us. How we oblige like sleepwalkers and build a myth on these early templates, and inevitably mirror others.  And yet, small shifts in awareness can change our perception from deep within. Each of us brings along something unique we’re yearning to recognise. Without the recall of that signature we feel a lack.  Having been intensely involved with many groups and sub-cultures throughout my life I now tend the seeds I gathered and cultivate my soul garden. using the magic of words that string together and create music, sculpt feelings and even lift the invisible.

4 – How does my writing process work?

It didn’t, until the pressure became so great I decided a few years ago to reduce my professional work and commit time to writing. When a character takes shape and is called on a journey, I trust the narrative will unfold in my imagination. With consistent attention there eventually emerges the emotional coherence of a short story, or a chapter, and another. For me, this process, though enjoyable, happens in semi-darkness. I can’t force the outcome.

Editing is fun, and sometimes torture, which is when I crave diversions – watch birds, make coffee, fix things, blitz-clean the house, sort finances, prune hedges, cut grass … and relieve my pangs of guilt for neglecting friend by stepping out from my solitude. I may go harvesting in public spaces – that is, observing how people move, which I find endlessly fascinating.  On really bad days doubt intervenes and I sulk over the ‘who-do-you-think-you-are’ syndrome,’ until I accept I’m no Shakespeare.

In the end it is always being with friends and reading that refreshes my conviction in writing.  On many levels engaging with people and their stories helped me understand my private myth, and more.

*     *     *

A few entries on gardens from my archive https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/tag/garden/

The task of choosing further runners for this tour from a tapestry of amazingly creative people gave me a headache. To stem the flood, I’ll cheat the rules and introduce only 2 writers to weave the thread onward and hopefully reveal more secret islands.

Philippa Rees

Philippa

Philippa

The book that wrote my life … Philippa says of – INVOLUTION – an Odyssey Reconciling Science and God – an epic poem, and a spiritual revelation. It’s been called a tour de force. In nine cantos the work travels through pre-human involution, the enfolding of consciousness in matter, early man’s emergence on the Serengeti … through the recorded civilizations of Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance towards Enlightenment and finally Modernisms’ success of science – of which the latter, ironically, obscures the internal story – the story of direct intuition, nous, experience.

I totally grok this.

And I’m looking forward to meeting Philippa this weekend. She’ll join a gathering of my friends and share what sparked her life-long project. I imagine she’s good company, holding memories of gripping stories, including her childhood in South Africa, which she’s beginning to share on her blog, ‘Careless Talk,’ accessed here.

Diane Dickson

Diane

Diane

Diane is a prolific writer of short stories and novellas. She hardly pauses, and generously shares the developing instalments of her work on her website. I’m totally addicted to her posts. Increasingly, she publishes e-books through Kindle and now also in print-versions.

Her characters are usually teetering on the edge of change before they slip into a life-changing crisis. The protagonists are often so hilarious you want to shout – get your act together. Then there’s a cliff-hanger and you’ve  to wait a day or two for the next instalment. Stories range from light-hearted, uplifting, to mysterious and dark and they all have surprising twists. As I said, I’m addicted. A recent published tale is:

The Man who lost his Manbag and Found Himself‘ Here’s a modern day odyssey, and a simple recipe for losing your identity.

Both authors presented here, like so many I came to know during these last years, fought their own publishing battles. I hugely admire and have great respect for their skill and perseverance. There was never a time I did not find selling myself daunting. Even during days of professional success I relied on others to shout out the existence of my ware. I need someone to hold my hand.

Some of my friends are slow in developing their island on the internet, yet offer compassionate mentor-ship I can’t emulate. Notably Evlynn Sharp  We worked on various projects together, and I feel deep gratitude for her support.

*     *     *

And here more cheating – I’d like to introduce the islands of two young people engaged in the buzz of life, with scarce time for leisurely blog-tours. They’re brilliant at what they do. They make me proud, my son, Yeshen and his wife Natasha Tonkin, a director of animated films.

I wrote about them recently https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/weddings-still-happen/

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… snow and silence …

Snow is a miracle that touches a deep silence in me, a silence I cannot speak of well – words seem wanting. And still I try, as many of us continue doing in various ways.

We may share the banter of our lives, our witty observations, our advice, our humour, our existential pain, or we may reach out with a warm hand of reconciliation. I do all these things, at times, but underlying my often competing voices, I tend to channel my experiences into the roaming eye of future becoming. If friends misread me, I like to console myself with this Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote –

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.’ 

Each one of us has unique perceptions, and there is enormous inspiration and joy in our differences.

P1110081

So much for the still sphere snow touches in me. The other miracle about snow is that it draws my attention to the surreal nature of reality, highly sensuous, yet stripped of  bright colours and removed from habitual seeing – to the bones of shapes, to deeper gestures and essences. For me, a snow-covered scene is a metaphor of restraint that slows down or speeds up time to alien levels of dimension. It occasions one of those time-independent spheres, where I make pattern-connections and create new meaning.

A simple poem follows my thoughts on the miracle of snow.  I tried to limit myself to  5/7/5  Haiku count, and hope it delights:

in silvery vaults

an angel ruffles her wings –

a leisurely shrug –

Grass and snow, low

the sparkle begins –

slipping from her hand as a

powdery shower

of crystalline downs –

feathery light on the silence

hidden between breaths –

fine gauze swirls and drifts

across the tired features

of a dreaming land

to drape every

plane and angular slope in

white geometry

Snow-tracks, 2 low

My appreciation for the geometry of life resonates with my love for black & white photography, see two posts back:

https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/the-inner-silence-of-henri-cartier-bresson/

There are other pleasures to be had from snow, as my enthusiastic and capable son demonstrated in 1982 Somerset, and as the adorable puppy of a friend of mine discovered in Dorset yesterday.

Yeshen shovelling snow, 82

Susanne's puppy

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… the rose trick …

As white clouds sail above my garden today, and robins peck at morsels the fat turtle-doves dislodged from the feed-balls I hung into tree branches, I’m thinking of the hectic buying-frenzy in town, and what springs to mind is that it’s all about feeling loved. In that spirit – a Christmas gift for you, my readers and friends – The Rose Trick – a guided imagery from another dimension. I use this imagery in my work, though it turns out different each time. Once you have read the text, close your eyes and make it real – imagine…

A garden, your inner garden – in it grows a rose bush that carries one bud about to open. Stand still and observe – a luminous tip of colour peeks from the enfolding calyx – the sepals gradually separate and turn their green tips outward. See the rose bud stir – see its petals open in a slow and fluid movement – until the luminous rose has attained its perfect shape and exudes its delicate fragrance.

As the garden fills with radiant light, imagine the open rose growing into another dimension, expanding in size to a sphere that is inviting you in. Overcome the weight of your thoughts, walk barefoot with  feather-light steps towards the centre of the rose-orb and sit and rest there for a while …

Absorb the soothing resonance, the exquisite tenderness of the petals, and the subtle scent of the rose-sphere through every cell of your body. Be loved. Become the perfect rose.

Autumn Rose

Now rise and return to the former dimension of your garden. Look back. Watch how the rose grows small and folds back into it sepals – watch the bud floating into the palm of your hand – sense the rosebud in your hand, and how its power wishes to stay alive in your heart so you can call upon its unfolding whenever you need loving. Do it, place the rose and the whole experience of rose-becoming into your heart.

*    *    *

Do this imagery when you feel a lack of harmony, or if you lost someone dear. It will re-animate the attar of roses in your heart.

The inspiration behind this imagery, which, done with an open attitude, can be  powerfully transforming, comes from great beings like Hazrat Inayat, Khan, Fazal Inayat-Khan, Roberto Assagioli, R M Rilke, Rumi, Bette Midler, and from roses grown in many gardens …

————-

‘When one of us gets lost, is not here, he or she must be inside us.

There’s no place like that anywhere in the world.’  Rumi

————-

The following are thoughts from ‘The Mind World’ – Volume Four of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s lectures.

The Function of the Heart

The heart, in Sufi terms, is called the mirror. Whatever is reflected in the heart does not only remain a reflection but becomes a creative power productive of the phenomenon of a similar nature.

For example, a heart that is holding in itself and is reflecting the rose will find roses everywhere. Roses will be attracted to the heart and roses will be produced from it and for it. As this reflection deepens and becomes stronger it becomes creative of the phenomenon of roses and the symbolic qualities we associate with roses.

Equally, the heart that holds and reflects wounds will find wounds everywhere. It will attract wounds and it will create wounds; for that is the phenomenon of reflection. There are examples to be found in the world of people who by retaining a thought have created on the physical plane its manifestation, its phenomenon. The reason is – that the phenomenon is not only an image as produced in the mirror

but that reflection in the heart is the most powerful thing. It is life itself – and it is creative.

If the heart is calm enough to receive reflections fully and clearly, one can choose for oneself which reflection to repel and which to retain.

*    *    *

Maybe we are the particle science is chasing ...

Maybe we are the particle science is chasing ..

See also Bette Midler – The Rose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=oR6okRuOLc8

And https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/imagination/

And …

Arvo Pärt – Alina!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmafNVimRbI

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… pattern which connects …

For a recent book-sharing with a group of irreverent friends (archventures), I had the wish to share so many books that I instinctively reached more or less blindly into one of my shelves. Books in my home, I must add, are in a muddle. The only order to speak of is their relationship to each other through time. I picked Alice in Wonderland and Mind and Nature. During our afternoon of reading there was not enough time to do honour to the latter, Gregory Bateson’s work. So I said I’d write up something. Oh dear. After pages and pages, I finally recalled this was supposed to be a blog-post, not a novel .

I first came upon Gregory Bateson books, ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’ and ‘Mind and Nature,’ during the early 1980’s, after his death. The clarity of his notion that biological forms arrange themselves through relationships struck a deep chord. What totally resonated with me was his thought that the structure of nature and the structure of mind are reflections of each other.  He had a broad perspective for a Biologist, and wanted to build a bridge between the facts of life and behaviour, and what we know of the nature of pattern and order. He was active in, and connected up many different fields of study – anthropology, psychiatry, biological evolution and genetics and the new epistemology which comes out of system-theory and ecology. He challenged basic assumptions and methods of scientific investigations, pointing to the processes beneath structures. He quoted Goethe …

A stem is what bears leaves

A leaf is that which has a bud in its angle

A stem is what was once a bud in that position …

And he provoked new thinking: ‘What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all four of them to me. And me to you?’ 

His interest in morphology, the study of structure and form of organisms, involved context, meaning and communication. He distrusted reductive models of cause and effect, the scientific approach that lines up parts and classifies them, focussing on quantity.

Comparing systems, one to another, he perceived the mind as an ecological system. And he used the analogy that ideas, like seeds, can only take root and flourish according to the nature of the system receiving them. This thought alone deserves deep contemplation.

He had a way with stories … ‘There was a man who had a powerful computer, and he wanted to know whether computers could ever think. So he asked it – Will you ever be able to think like a human being? – The computer clicked and rattled and blinked, and finally it printed out its answer on a piece of paper, as these machines do. The man ran to pick up the printout, and there, neatly typed, read the following words: ‘That reminds me of a story.’ 

Concerned about the decimation of aboriginal populations (he did field-work with Margaret Mead), the degradation of ecological systems, economic oppression, and senseless wars and arms races, he took these ominous signs of contemporary life to be manifestations of deeper disorders, which he defined in terms of cybernetic systems of communication and meaning that comprise life, mind, and society. In his view, consciousness dominated by purposeful thought has a linear structure that establishes goals and ways for attaining them without being necessarily sensitive to the circular network of cause and effect that orders the systems.

Looking at human consciousness as an adaptive system, he thought the cure for its inadequacies, evidenced by the negative side-effects of purposive rationality, was not to reject it in favour of a passionate non- rationality, as in the extreme romantic position, but to augment and complete it by engaging with non-discursive, pattern-comprehending and emotional processes. He advocated the befriending of the unconscious aspects of the mind through utilising images and metaphors.

In a civilization which separates mind from body, mythologies about the survival of a transcendent mind are often meant to soften the idea of death, or even deny death as part of life. For Bateson, who saw the mind as being immanent not only in pathways of information which are located inside the body but also in external pathways, death took on a different aspect. ‘The individual nexus of pathways which I call ‘me’ is no longer so precious because that nexus is only part of a larger mind. The ideas which seemed to be me can also become immanent in you. May they survive, if true.’  (Afterword to a collection of celebratory essays, 1972)

Yet there are scientists that can no more perceive the language of nature, and politicians who feel beleaguered by sections of society that seek balance and a fresh context towards ‘an ecology of mind.’  The extreme factions of believers, for what else are they, should look again at the bridge  Bateson prepared.

 

This lovely video gives a taste of what it is all about :

Update … I discovered recently, in 2019, that some the links in this post don’t seem to work anymore. Here , however, is his daughter’s great documentary on Vimeo, unfortunately not free, apart from the trailer.  https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bateson

Looking at the structure of nature and the structure of mind being reflections of each other, it becomes obvious that not only does nature mirror our habit of thinking, but our thinking also mirrors the state of nature. Ecology and psychology must therefore both engage in listening, and seeing, and working ceaselessly towards the integration of knowledge and the re-adjustment of a dynamic balance.

I could go on, but want to bring in a famous painting of Icarus by Brueghel.                                                             Anthony Stevens, a brilliant expositor of Jung’s thought, used the painting as cover for the first hard-cover edition (1995) of his book Private Myths.

http://www.anthonystevens.co.uk/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

Stevens quotes from a poem by Wystan Auden:

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

What goes up must come down. Who knows how many Big Bangs there were before the one we so ardently explore? There is an organising intelligence behind life’s cycles, while consciousness forever expands. Thinking in metaphors we can perceive similar patterns, forms in nature and mind, cosmos and psyche, mirroring each other across scale and time. In other words, life teems with realities we can tune into, as long as we assign context and meaning.

Check out Gregory Bateson’s books ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’ and ‘Mind and Nature.

His family continue his work: His daughter Nora and his wife – Mary Catherine Bateson:   http://www.interculturalstudies.org/main.html

Peripheral Vision

 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060926309/mead2001centenni

Free chapters of Angels Fear:  http://www.oikos.org/angelsfear.htm

Nora Bateson, recently created a film:

http://www.anecologyofmind.com/

Last not least, the themes:  pattern which connects, mirroring and bridging, are subjects of my novels.

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… I write here …

 

Images tend to bring us instantaneously closer.  A recent writing workshop given by a friend, made me think how inner and outer spaces affect our writing.  And I was also  inspired by Roz Morris, a generous and effective blogger http://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/page/3/ who featured her writing space in February.

I write through

the heart chamber

and the drone

of its circular charm

I write in earth

branching to the dark solitude

of birthing

the unknown

I write in water

fractals spinning

plankton under stars

coding the cosmos

I write in air

flexed by the wishbone

that loops breath to lift

wings of longing

I write in space

where spirits linger

in the scent-cloud

of a former home

I write in ether

where dreams free

greening visions

and murmur of bloom

I write here

in a room that is everywhere

bridging hearts

with companions like you

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… sculpture park …

Dreams in stone, fairy horses, quills that use earth as ink, see-through elephants, surprises in the ponds, ghosts, flowing stone, water magic and mysterious circles …

Inspirational hours with my son and his partner at the ‘Sculpture Park’ in Surrey, near Churt.  So  close – and yet I had never visited the place. Like the man behind the bar in the pub opposite, who worked there for many years and not once stepped through the gate across the road. Makes me think of worlds we miss by the blink of an eye.

Here are some images of the place …

magic circles to other worlds …  

If you’re in the area, don’t miss it: http://www.thesculpturepark.com

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My latest blog-entry did not appear on my home page, where planned. Then again – muddles make us see all sorts of things (Bateson said so, I think.)

You’ll find the report of an inspirational weekend with young people if you click in the top bar here – on the page called … inspiration … or use the link below.

https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/inspiration/

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