The changing faces of our landscapes ~ how our surroundings mirror our inner journey

The changing faces of our landscapes ~ how our surroundings mirror our inner journey

In my Twitter bio, one of the four things I describe myself as is a mystic. It’s written partly in jest, the way I also use the term explorer, but both are true. As an explorer I may not stride off into the wilderness with a bush hat and a Swiss army knife, but I do explore. Some of the places I have been are dark and dangerous but filled with things that bring wonder to the world too. I get asked too: “What is a mystic?” and I’ve yet to find an answer that satisfies me enough to give it until now.

I make patterns out of things that seem random to others and I ascribe meaning to those patterns. I see the inner story of ordinary things. I visit other realities while keeping most of me in this one. I see God in all things and in nothing.

In my mid twenties, the connection I have always had with the natural world began to deepen into something that permeated my waking consciousness and I began to explore a path that took me a long way from the safe, secure religious routes that I’d previously stuck to. It brought me accusations of being a witch, and caused me to become very wary of sharing my experiences with anyone. I got a drum and began to journey to the beat of the drum, wandering deep into a world that exists alongside our own.

We lived for six years in a very rural part of Norfolk, and I had the joy of being able to wander freely and explore both the outer landscape and the inner ones. I also had the delight of finding a number of kindred spirits, who knew more than I and were willing to teach and to learn alongside me. But the land itself taught me things. The creatures and the living beings of trees taught me, and the grass itself held wisdom.

When we moved to the Midlands, the landscape changed, and so too did the creatures I met in my daily walks. I wrote this poem over a year after we moved:

 

Changing Faces

 

Nightingale and deer,

The shining grass-snake

And the great green woodpecker

Once peopled my landscape.

Now heron and buzzard

Fly across my skies;

Kingfishers flit in formation

And the owls call in my night.

A drowning weasel

Clings to my sleeve,

One fear conquering another.

And I wonder at how

My life is so changed.

7.12.04

 

The creatures I had met and even walked alongside in Norfolk had a very different focus in their teachings. There was a strongly shamanic flavour to the animals I had close encounters with, powerful totems for a healer, a walker between the worlds. The drumming of the woodpecker is a hint to its connection with the shaman’s drum. The snakes that I handled along the river told of healing work, and that is what I worked with, the healing of others.

When we moved, the focus changed dramatically. The reflexology work I did failed to thrive, and though I had loyal clients, it felt like climbing a mountain without oxygen to gain more. Along the river, nearly daily, I saw heron, and often kingfishers. I used to sit and watch them all fishing. I saw once four kingfishers flying along the river as a tiny flock. The flash of the bright wings as the bird darts is like the sudden flash of inspiration and within months of moving there in 2003, I found myself compelled to write again, something I thought long dead and buried. Words flowed from me, in torrents. Poetry, novels, all spilled over like a spring long buried.

In the three years there, though I sought them, I saw not a single snake. The habitat was right, and they were reported to live in certain areas, but while I looked, I never saw them. In our Norfolk home, during the spring and summer I saw snakes frequently, and handled them too. I walk softly, and I know where to look, but no snakes.

In 2006, late in the year, we moved here. I’m a mile as the crow flies from the sea. I’m surrounded by sea-birds. I walk along the shoreline and I see sea creatures. I found a young seal our first New Year here, not faring well alone, and he came to me. I sat for four hours on a freezing beach waiting for the RSPCA to come and collect this seal to feed him up. He lay with his body touching mine. In our five or so years here, I have been walking along the shoreline of the unconscious, making forays out into the ocean depths and seeing what I can find. My mind has soared with the sea-gulls, and my words have travelled the oceans of the world. I have thrown back fish and jellyfish and seahorses back into the life giving waters and my words have perhaps brought new life to other explorers thrown high and dry and gasping on the harsh strand-line of life.

I make patterns out of things that seem random to others and I ascribe meaning to those patterns. I see the inner story of ordinary things. I visit other realities while keeping most of me in this one. I see God in all things and in nothing.

This is what I do, this is what I am. A mystic, of sorts, trying to find meaning in the chance happenings of daily life, a woman who tries to hear the small voices of the other inhabitants of this astonishing world, and echo those voices so that others might hear and understand this: we are not alone.

 

I face another move, another set of faces, human and animal and plant. May I see and hear their voices too.

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7 thoughts on “The changing faces of our landscapes ~ how our surroundings mirror our inner journey

  1. Your last two posts have been outstanding, Viv. I very much resonate with your definition of a mystic, too. May your intuition and your desire to heal and be healed bring you peace as you journey into new territory.

  2. This is just so beautiful, Viv. I adore the way you end – ‘a woman who tries to hear the small voices of the other inhabitants of this astonishing world, and echo those voices so that others might hear and understand this: we are not alone.’ I have always found more solace in nature than I have in churches – although I love them too. You describe your forays into the hidden worlds of different places so well I feel I have travelled a little of your path with you. I can’t wait to hear how it changes when you move again, but saying goodbye when you are so attuned must be a wrench. 😦

  3. This is just so beautiful, Viv. I adore the way you end – ‘a woman who tries to hear the small voices of the other inhabitants of this astonishing world, and echo those voices so that others might hear and understand this: we are not alone.’ I have always found more solace in nature than I have in churches – although I love them too. You describe your forays into the hidden worlds of different places so well I feel I have travelled a little of your path with you. I can’t wait to hear how it changes when you move again, but saying goodbye when you are so attuned must be a wrench.

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