Golden Brown

October arrived and with it the definite promise of Autmn. The chill in the air means the polar fleeces are coming out of their summer hibernation, but the Arran is still huddled up with the cedar blocks. It’s not that cold yet. According to the local weather forecast the temperature will drop as low as 3 degrees on Sunday night, so I need to make sure I bring in the tender plants from their summer holiday in the garden.

I used to love winter.

I used to like the drawing in of nights, the shadows that fell as I walked home from school, and the tang of smoke on the night air. I used to like the prospect of frosts and even more so, snow. It never bothered me that it was cold; except on a Saturday afternoon while my parents were off playing county hockey and I and my brother were turfed out of the pavillion to walk around the common until half time meant we might scrounge a quarter of an orange. Until we were old enough to be left at home if we didn’t want to come, Saturdays were nightmares in the bitter winter weather of the late sixties and seventies. Dad retired from hockey when the doctor said if he got hit one more time on his varicose veins, he might well bleed to death on the pitch and so, I got to stay home and read on Saturdays instead.

I don’t know when it changed.

I guess my own battles with bog standard depression and anxiety wasn’t enough but SAD had to muscle in and add a ha’pporth of misery to the winter. I try now, really I do, to cherish the changes in seasons; I make a big effort at things to mark the specialness of the season. I light candles at dusk, I use orange oil on the burner, I choose seasonal foods. I even bought some glow in the dark nailvarnish and black lipstick today for use at Hallow E’en; the lipstick makes me look like a wannabe goth who can’t quite make the grade, though.

But even though the trees are raining down confetti of golden browns and rich russets, I just feel dread. The light is dying and I feel like something of me is dying with it. 

I want to establish a new pattern for my winter living, where I sit at this desk with my special light on, and a burner simmering with anti-depressant oils, and music, and I just let myself write. Hang the chores for a while. Just let me have a few hours, an hour even, where I can create a light inside myself. I can see the first glimmers now in my mind’s eye, a faint will o’ the wisp, shimmering at the edge of vision: I am in my cave, making stories from the shapes the smouldering logs make as the burn to warm me and to warn away wolves and cave bears. I conjure faces and voices from the swirling shadows and the rising smoke and I mark the passage of their lives with the still-hot stick I rake from the embers, burning my hand as I try and write on the rough walls of my cave.

Ah, the story teller. Somewhere she’s waiting for me. My inner world may yet help me beat the crushing weight of winter.

A meditation

Crystal Cave Meditation

 For this meditation you may like to have a crystal to focus on; a geode works especially well. Remember to turn the phone off and make sure you are not going to be interrupted. Using either soft music or a natural sounds tape of perhaps a stream will enhance the experience but is not essential as long as you have reasonable quiet around you.


Breathe slowly but without forcing it. Allow yourself to relax and become calm but alert. Let your eyes close naturally and become still.


You walking along in the cool air of an underground passage; the tunnel is lit with softly flickering candles in niches along the walls. The sweet smell of beeswax reaches you every time you pass a niche and your movement causes the candlelight to flicker. It’s very peaceful here and you sense that many people have come along here before; it’s totally safe. The carefully smoothed walls of the tunnel glisten and gleam in the candlelight; when you touch them they are slightly damp and slippery to the touch.


Continue along; the floor slopes steadily but not alarmingly and after a while you come to an opening ahead of you where a light gleams. Go through the opening. You are in a large cave, lit only by candlelight. A single candle floats in a pool of very clear water in the centre of the cave. It seems far lighter in here than you might expect from just one candle and you look round for the reason.


The whole cave is lined with the finest and most lovely crystals you can imagine. You are inside a living geode, a bubble of earth where crystals have grown for centuries. The light from the single candle is reflected from each facet of the tens of thousands of crystals that cover every inch of the walls and ceiling of the cave.


It’s simply breathtaking.


You sit down near the pool of water, there is a low stool carved from oak and you find it very comfortable. As you sit and marvel and the cave, you notice something else. The pool of water is not still; bubbles rise steadily from the centre and you see now that water softly spills over one end of the natural stone bowl, and into a groove in the floor where it trickles away with a lovely sound like living music.


Sit quietly and enjoy the radiance of the earth-born crystals and the music of the earth-born waters. The air is cool and fresh and moist and any difficulties you may have had with breathing vanish in this pure healing air. You feel deeply peaceful and at one with the earth. Touch the water and scoop a little in your hand and bathe your face with it; feel the worries and cares melt away.


Stay as long as you wish, feeling the deep healing this place gives to any who visit, and when you feel it is time to return to the outer world, whisper your prayers to the cave. They will be heard.


As you leave, your movement sets the candle flickering and the light dances and casts rainbows across your face. 

Return up the stone passage way and find yourself back where you began. Breathe deeply and when you are ready open your eyes. You are home.   


         I wrote this after I found a geode on the beach today;  I was sorely in need of some peace and I hope that you will find some reading this as I did writing it.