Tag Archives: loss
she crosses bridges and streams
her body is smart
though prying mind-trolls
punish her rebel with glee
not the ordered son
yet loved by the mother bee
her spirit endures
This ceramic bee shone from a box of knickknacks among items my dad left.
. I liked the ornament as a child and can still see the bright wings mirrored in the surface of a lacquered sideboard. The bee was my mother’s and sums her up, always on the move, hardworking, generous and caring, though struggling with the emotional complexity of my father. His mother warned her … he’s a closed cupboard, meaning he didn’t trust people with his inner life. I had intuitive access to this cupboard, as daughters do, but the content was so fiercely protected, even my most gentle enquiries were repelled to the day my dad died, last spring.
Then again, had he not hidden his hoard of secrets, his girl may not have sneaked through the doors of the imagination, become a seeker, an explorer, a poet, a storyteller, a writer in search of words for what intuition reveals. Where invisibles exist they act like the fungi that entangles and interconnects what is unseen, unless brought to light. I write for a small audience – lovers of the imagination, lovers of myth, and lovers of poetry – you will appreciate my book, Course of Mirrors, and its sequel to come, which turns into SF.
In last month’s post, complementing an image found on twitter, of a screaming new-born, is an image of my mother holding me close as an infant. She died 35 years ago around this time, but still visits and protects me during nights; such is the vivacious spirit of the mother bee. Apart from my parents, I’ve lost many dear ones these last decades. While every loss refills the loss jar to its brim, a crescent (presence) still abides.
Each that we lose takes part of us;
A crescent still abides,
Which like the moon, some turbid night,
Is summoned by the tides. – Emily Dickinson
To fill in the distorted or simply incomplete gestalt gathered from early caregivers, we find ourselves during our lifetime in families of various constellations … in groupings of friends, educational settings, teams working towards a project, callings, interest groups, animal care, subcultures, political, vocational and spiritual clusters. In these groups we slot into roles we project, or are projected onto us with qualities others are drawn to engage with, for whatever reason, often to explore a hidden part inside, mother, father, sister, brother, child, lover, hidden in the light or hidden in the dark. Much of this search now happens virtually, through screens, though it can’t replace the actual physical resonance a gestalt needs.
Family can also mean a collection of symbolically meaningful objects, toys, letters, books, art, tools, stones. I collect stones and endow them with memories. My ex-husband extended his loving father role to string instruments. (I wrote about his loss in my previous post.)
In the 1969 movie Alice’s Restaurant … with Arlo Guthrie, Pat Quinn & James Broderick, you can do anything you want. Alice tries to satisfy the motherly expectations of an eccentric hippie group, a powerful dream, which ends when she marries. The last image in the film shows her standing alone in front of the old church her husband plans on selling, to create a more ideal community in the countryside, though Alice’s hippie children have grown and left. In the poignant last image of the film Alice stands alone, waking from a dream, debts paid and debts made. Psychotherapy can accelerate this archetypal demand for clarity and cohesion of one’s myth, but soul-making must continue for consciousness to expand.
At stages in our life we fit, or are fitted, into a network of psychological potential. These are intense phases. Yet irrespective of time gone since people parted ways, families dispersed, places were lost … when a former close friend dies, insight descends, rises, arrives from the past, from the future and from spheres unknown. Memories will shift their meaning. Slowly our sense of self is re-aligned. We capture a condensation of what was symbolically exchanged, essence is revealed.
In this gentle way we unravel the knots of entangled bonds. I’m wary of this advice … let it go! Grieving for a loss needs to ripen. While unripe apples fall from trees all the time, it is a sad waste to rip them from branches, we deprive our selves of what a ripe apple is for, to be eaten and digested for nourishment.
My lover, mourner and philosopher could have pulled this theme in ten different directions. I kept it short and leave associations to you.
Some call it a lunar landscape. Wrongly. For lack of atmosphere, as mentioned in my recent post, the moon has no blue dome with cloud beings.
Years ago, my friend, Rahima (aka Elspeth Spottiswood/Milburn,) enticed me to visit the clay pits near St Austell.
While living in Cornwall as a young mother, she often marvelled at the white phenomenon seen from the road. Glowing on the horizon, the then white hills left a deep impression, bringing to her mind a city of temples, namely Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of a New Jerusalem.
This in stark contrast to the black slag heaps of coalmines, which, as a painter, and having grown up in Scotland, visually fascinated Rahima just the same.
In uniquely attuned spiritual warriors mode we conducted many seminars and workshops together, on dreams and archetypes and the imagination.
One day, off to visit the St Austell Clay Pits, we were searching for an entry to the site. During an adventurous process of getting lost among dusty criss-crossing tracks, circling on forever, we finally found ourselves in the heart of and atop the excavation site.
Luck was with us in another sense, the dramatic Cornish light on that day inspired the series of photographs I am sharing here.
I love clouds in any form and shade, regally resting, floating or racing on the breath of the wind, seen from a valley, mountain or plane. Clouds story our skies with magical creatures. Here one of my posts celebrating clouds.
Human industry values the hidden treasures under the earth, black stuff, white stuff and golden stuff … Cornwall supplies white gold, the clay prized for porcelain, paper, paint and rubber.
Traditionally, china clay was extracted from the kaolinised granite by “wet mining”. High pressure jets of water were used to erode the working faces and wash out the kaolin. The slurry produced would flow down to the base of the pit from where it was pumped to the surface for processing.
In St Austell this process has moved on to dry-mining. In recent years, locals have taken to re-greening the scars of industrial excavations around mining sites, and, in a way, are making the scars less spectacular.
The China Clay Museum, Wheal-Martyn, provides information about Kaolin history and research.
The museum is planning a celebratory exhibition this summer …
There exist more dramatic images of the day, but I leave it as is for now.
Be aware that it may be illegal to enter the Clay Pit site without prior arrangement. We were naive and plain lucky, guided by my friend’s love for the place.
Later that day, Rahima and I travelled along narrow, sun-speckled Cornish lanes towards Lamorna Bay at the coast.
That’s another story, for another day . I wrote about missing my friend in 2017.
How to reconcile moments of pure beauty and light our restless world offers, with the heavy darkness of human ignorance? How is it the guiding spirit that is shining through everything so often escapes the unseeing eye? Is it our wounded hearts, or our anxious busy thoughts that prevent spontaneous being? Many of us like twilight, the dawn, the dusk, mist, where darkness and light do not negate but enhance each other. They mingle. As friends do, or lovers. Twilight is poetry in motion.
And what, you may ask, does she mean by the guiding spirit that shines through everything. It’s a core in me that connects to the one soul-being I belong to, the only self I really know. And while I’m not enlightened, I do experience timeless moments, glimpses into the sixth dimension, nodal points around which the fiction of my existence is woven.
The other day, my long-ridiculed romantic fool tossed out these lines:
like tiny cherubs
white butterflies loop across
green teeming canvas
thou – sweet silent mystery
do you sense me sigh
when the cold moon-rock rises
as luminous globe – hello dear ones lost in time – your intense living – is forever part of me
‘Long live the dead because we live in them.’ … Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life
When there is no other near to share such paradoxical quickening with, I may call on those who enriched my life but are no longer present. I adore the moon, the ancient chunk of earth, reflecting and making tolerable the blinding beams of the sun, granting us poetry and symbolic language.
That night I had a dream and remembered its last facet … I’m floating through a soft, vibrant darkness. A small voice says, ‘You’re the light, look again.’ Sure enough, I spot the outline of a building and bright points, like glittering stars. A series of scenes unfolds, which brings clarity to a puzzling questions. Darkness holds memories, visions and vital knowledge, though it requires trust in the guiding spirit as a mode of orientation. Insights are shy; they wait to be found.
Nature, being energy manifested in slow motion, breathes life into countless rhythms and tunes from the recorded symphonic sounds of the universe – to continuously re-animate the one being of eternal life. Yet we humans, who pride ourselves in aiding this process with heightened consciousness, are increasingly busy destroying the homeostasis life depends on. Can a virus offer a long enough pause for the powers in charge to acknowledge this self-destructive madness? Below anger, I feel the deep sadness, the spiritual starvation, an unfulfilled longing for meaning, for being worthwhile, accepted and loved.
I sense a change of mood in the collective mind, a call for change. Upfront are manic voices using the language of warfare against the invisible enemy – let’s control it – defeat I – kill it – get on top of it. I feel this kind of rhetoric misses the point entirely.
We must see things fresh, not through tired ideas our establishments bank on, that destroy nature’s homeostasis and spill imbalances into cultures too poor to afford resistance. I say – let our children and young people decide what’s worth living for?
‘A day, whether six or seven years ago or whether six thousand years ago, is just as near to the present as yesterday. Why? Because all time is contained in now.’ – Meister Eckhart
This time of year I like reading in the garden. Last week I forgot to take a book inside – ‘The Hand of Poetry,’ collected poems from Sanai, Attar, Rumi, Saadi and Hafiz, translated by Coleman/Barks, with introductions taken from talks by Inayat Khan. During a short but heavy shower that night, the book greedily feasted on rain. I found it blown up, like a balloon, to double its size.
Restoration would atone for my failing. Gently lifting page after page, I placed toilet paper between each, twice and three times over. On the third day I hung the book by its spine on the washing line. Once dry, I managed to press the volume with a heavy vintage iron into reasonable shape again. The ordeal required my undivided attention. The re-read pages during those hours lodged themselves with refreshed presence in my heart.
I recalled a scene from ‘Shapers’ – the not yet published sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors.’ The story starts with a shipwreck. Surviving this tragedy, my protagonist finds her diary drenched to pulp. The irreplaceable loss gained her unexpected access to internalised memories, and the ability to exchange virtual letters with her soulmate of the future, scripts made visible in the thin air before her.
This phenomenon happens to me frequently these days. Just before sleep, or waking, I see screens with writing, sometimes even Twitter pages, which later turn out real. Beats me – explanations are welcome.
Memory is fluid. The child in us not only imagines the future, but also re-imagines the past. While I was lifting apart the soaked poetry pages during my restoration, it struck me they resembled crumpled and discoloured reminiscences of my father – a trailing grief about our dissonance brought to light in dreams, with messages to abandon this nonsense. Can you miss a surreal projection? Yes you can – releasing a feeling of rejection that ruled years of your life takes getting used to. Had I not taken my dad’s anger with the world, and me, so personal, I might have implored deeper into his heart pain, and mine, since, after all, deep down, our sensitivity for beauty and nature, even our humour, were much alike.
I had resisted my father’s expectations and boldly followed my heart, which, while gratifying, brought its shadow of existential anxieties. My rare brave attempts to cross the dividing bridge were met with contempt for my quixotic worldview. Bridges then became imaginary sanctuaries between varied realities, a neutral zone for my rebel to gather strength for the next quest ahead. Bridges became a major theme in my novel ‘Course of Mirrors’ – see book page on this site, or my twitter page @mushkilgusha
Rejection can add fuel to a journey. But what if a regular fuel runs out? Consider the weird silence when a monotonous background noise stops … suddenly. I identified my inner background noise as the subtle lament of blame that long ago slyly settled in my unconscious. Blaming something or someone can achieve an emotional distance, displace resentfulness, a hurt, – but now – this peculiar silence …
The symbolic intelligence of psyche’s inner dimension communicates not only through dreams, but also through our surroundings: world events, people, objects, images. My restoration of ‘The Hand of Poetry’ resonated. Compulsive energies shift when time slows,. Familiar scripts may assume fresh meaning, and re-write themselves with different rhythms and new pauses for the spirit of surprise to enter.
Meanwhile I enjoy some treasures close by …
And I’d like to share a Hafiz poem from the restored collection. Hazrat Inayat Khan says of him:
‘The mission of Hafiz was to express, to the fanatically inclined religious world, the presence of God, which is not to be found only in heaven, but to be found here on earth.’
A gathering of good friends
talking quietly outdoors,
the banquet being served, a dry Rosé
with a bite of Kebab afterwards,
a wink form the one who pours,
Hafiz telling some story,
Hajji Qavam with his long laugh,
a full moon overhead,
the infinite mystery
of all this love.
If someone doesn’t want the pleasure
of such an openhearted garden,
companionship, no, life itself,
must be against his rules.