Doorways ~ an open and shut case?

This one?

or this one:

“Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take towards the door we never opened into the rose garden. My words echo thus in your mind. But to what purpose  disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose leaves I do not know.”

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton (Four Quartets)

Ties that Bind ~ a poem about love

Ties that bind

What are the ties that bind us?
Perhaps for some, like Marley’s chains,
They are forged link by link
Of heavy frozen steel
To weigh down butterfly wings
And hearts that would be away,
As sure as nail through foot
Would anchor us to earth.
The ties that bind should rather be
Ribbony tassels tied to the rag-tree,
Love-knots given as fairings
To a beloved who will treasure
Each and every bright strand
Long after the satin strips
Have all faded and frayed.

A yearning for freedom and a burning desire for fairness ~ a dangerous combination?

yearning for freedom and a burning desire for fairness ~ a dangerous

Many years ago now, a dear friend said to me, “You have a strong desire to  express your freedom,” and I didn’t know what he meant. I’m still not entirely sure now.

In the West we have more personal freedoms than most of us know what to do with or often are even aware of. Many people do not use their vote, citing the fact that it makes no difference who they vote for. It seems pointless to even bother. To me, this insults those people who campaigned and died to get universal suffrage. Women especially seem to take for granted the rights they have now that women didn’t have even when I was growing up in the seventies. In fact, many women are rejecting the advances that have been made. I hear of teenage girls who are deliberately choosing not to work at school, despite intelligence, because the perceived wisdom is that boys do not fancy clever girls. I rarely read women’s magazines (haven’t bought one in twenty years) but when I do, often in desperate boredom at the hospital, I am horrified by the level of even the glossies. No wonder many men despise women if the magazines they read are representative
of today’s women.

When I was at school, I wanted to do either metalwork or woodwork; girls had to do either needlework or cookery. In the end, I did rural science; it was the only gender neutral practical subject available. But girls today have no bars in terms of subjects and yet so many choose things that lock them back into stereotypes. How many boys choose Childcare, I wonder? Not many. I would have given a lot to be allowed to choose a subject that was deemed a boy’s one, and yet, now girls can, they don’t.

In a society where freedom of choice and freedom of expression are supposedly at the heart of it, why then do most people choose the easy option and most people say nothing at all?

The fact is that freedom is not truly free, it costs. It doesn’t always cost US but it costs society. The individual has responsibilities that come with their freedom: you have the vote but you need to use it, for example, to make it worth having.

If you are reading this then you are one of the lucky ones. You are
literate, you have access to a computer, you live in a country where the internet is unrestricted by government.  In all probability you also have enough to eat and other benefits. Billions do not. Does the freedom of the nations that enjoy these things also endow a responsibility to aid those nations who do not? I believe it does. It is not fair that purely by accident of birth one person should have opportunities another does not. When you also consider that the luxury we live in may well have come at a high cost for people we do not personally know, does it make you wonder if your personal freedoms have come at a cost someone else is paying?

There is an old fashioned concept many have forgotten about in our Me! Me! Me! culture. Duty. We have a duty to others, even others we will never meet, because if we are to raise ourselves beyond the purely selfish aims, we must seek to ensure fairness and equality to all. Most people feel some sense of duty towards family members and friends, but why not begin to extend this to mankind as a whole?

  As the Native Americans say, “We are all related.”  

Reflections and shadows ~ what is real and what is not?

What is real and what is not?

What are reflections and shadows?

How do you tell the difference?

A Box of Dreams ~ a poem about rediscovering your dreams

A box of dreams

I packed my dreams away,

Deep in a faded chocolate box

Filled with precious memories,

Theatre programmes and broken beads.

I layered them with lavender

To keep away the cosmic moth

And I forgot I’d ever dreamed.

One night I rose from sleep,

Left my body warm in bed,

And crept up the hidden stair

To find the forgotten place

Where cobwebbed windows

Filtered moonlight onto dusty boards.

Amid the cracked records,

The rags of triumphal dresses

And other detritus of my life,

I heard the strangest sound,

Like stars singing in a frozen sky.

The box lay where I had left it,

And when I could bear to look inside,

Instead of shreds and tatters

I found treasures bright with starlight,

Memories gilded by the sun of years,

And my dreams as I had left them,

Untarnished and unworn by time

In the Company of Ravens ~ totem of rebirth and magic

the Company of Ravens ~ totem of rebirth and magic

Crows and ravens inspire very mixed feelings among people. Their black  colour alone seems to mark them out for dislike. Yet both these  members of the corvid family are exceptionally intelligent and  adaptable birds. Spiritual traditions tend to lump them together, but their habits and their attributes do diverge. For example crows are birds that are intensely social, and live often in large flocks, while ravens live in small family groups and often pair for life.
Ravens are a threatened species in Britain and are now protected by law. It’s quite rare to see them unless you live in remote areas.

On Saturday I accompanied a group of students to the Tower of London. As I am sure most people probably know, the Tower of London has a resident group of ravens, in the capable hands(and sometimes broom or mop) of the Raven Master. Legend says that England will fall if the ravens desert the Tower; as a pragmatic step to prevent this, their wing feathers are clipped while they live there. The ravens are part of a breeding programme based in Windsor, and they do a stint at the Tower before returning to their base, to make more ravens.

Of course, I knew I’d see ravens at the Tower. But I was not prepared for quite how much of an impact they would make on me. I’d forgotten how big they are, a good third bigger than a big crow. Or how deeply black. Or how noisy.

Or how spookily compelling.

I was utterly mesmerised. I watched and listened and was caught in their spell. Ravens are birds of mystery and magic and their black feathers are luminously iridescent, filled with colours and dark light. Their eyes look back at you fiercely and with a challenge; they seem more intelligent than many people, in all honesty.

They are also mischievious

But back home I’ve begun to wonder what Merlin and her fellows was telling me. Yes, I know full well that I was inevitably going to see ravens that day, but that encounter went deeper than the tourist moment. I’ve been going through some deep stuff, emotional and spiritual and I’ve had encounters with beasts of varying sort that all seem to point to massive change and upheaval. My snake dream indicates transmutation. And now this  meeting with Raven.

This is what Animal Spirit says about Raven:

     Rebirth without fear

  • Ability to tear down what needs to be rebuilt
  • Renewal
  • Ability to find light in darkness
  • Courage of self-reflection
  • Introspection
  • Comfort with self
  • Honouring ancestors
  • Connection to the Crone
  • Divination
  • Change in consciousness
  • New occurrences
  • Eloquence

It seems that a new element is being added to the mix. Reading more about Raven in many traditions, it seems that Raven is a totem or guide for people who go deep into the darkness, who seek healing for self and for others, and whose personal wings are filled with all the colours inherent in the light and yet who appear dark.

I’ve been considering a journey into the darkness of my own shadow; perhaps my guide for this has alighted now nearby and is about to steal my notes. Because the journey into the dark has no map, no tour notes, no travel book.

All you have is the iridescent wings of a Raven.

Shoreline ~ a Poem of the seaside


the wind rages

share the shore

a few brave souls

from home

dogs or inner demons.

nod, curtly and pass,

heads down.

the sun shines,

waves are mild

I share (with bad grace)

strand with strangers,

by heat from streets,

themselves on the sand.

feel more alone now

when the gales and storms

the hordes at home.