Monday, 31 October 2011

Hills of the ancestors, townscapes of artisans

And unless I've missed someone out (which is entirely possible) this beautiful beginning from jenny Blain marks the last of our "chapter postings' for this Blog...We haven't posted the poetry pieces as posting half a poem feels a bit pointless and if we posted the whole piece y'all might not buy the book!

Jenny has a blog, here: Landscapeself and you can find out about Jenny's books there

But there is more to come, so after this taste of Dundee cake, do come back for more appetisers

Hills of the ancestors, townscapes of artisans
Jenny Blain

For the last ten years, or thereabouts, I’ve been working on papers looking at how people and place interact and the meanings developed there. Much of this has been about the ways that Pagans inscribe sacredness in landscape (or does landscape inscribe sacredness in them?). But this developed in association with another passion: the hills and towns of my recent ancestors and why they ‘matter’ to me.

These thoughts provoke a series of seen and heard representations to me. Not only do the memories of places matter, but how these memories are given. And so, immediately, there are two, which both relate to my childhood in Dundee, and both hold much wider appeal beyond my associations with place.

The landscapes of Angus, painted by James McIntosh Patrick, matter to me. Not because they are copied and re-copied in people’s living rooms and over the Internet, and hence are all that many people know about this countryside, but that he was a family friend and I grew up with his name as a component of family discourse and family identity. ‘Pat’, my mother called him. There is an ‘Angus-ness’ inherent in the quality of light and in the detail of composition, which means the images are instantly recognisable wherever they are found. In pursuit of my ‘Blain’ ancestors from the other side of Scotland, I walked into a bed-and-breakfast in Stranraer and said, ‘That’s a McIntosh Patrick’ of a picture on the wall. Which it was.

The poetry my father recited included verses which still make my heart pause and my imagination fly to the braes of Angus: not least those of Violet Jacob, on ‘The Wild Geese’. Again, the impact is not only that of the poetry, but of knowing the landscapes that the poet summons. I will use those words to pace this chapter.

"O tell me what was on yer road, ye roarin' norlan' Wind,
 As ye cam' blawin' frae the land that's niver frae my mind?
My feet they traivel England, but I'm dee'in for the north."
 "My man, I heard the siller tides rin up the Firth o' Forth."

and, as ever, if you want to read the rest of this piece, contain yourself in patience, and watch for The Wanton Green (the book) as the leaves fall, or with the first frosts or maybe when the snow hits...who knows!  Wanton is as Wanton does, but the moment draws closer!

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Crossroads of Perception

Autumn blows through the world around us in a swirl of damp leaves and musty smells.  Here in the Peaks it is proving a good year for acorns, conkers, apples and hawthorns but the toadstool surge seems to have come and gone earlier than usual, back in September

A good time to step back and consider, perhaps, as the tides of winter gather. So here is an opening extract from "The crossroads of perception" by Shani Oates

"Every Microcosm, every inhabited region, has a Centre; that is to say, a place
that is sacred above all."
                                                                                                    Mircea Eliade
If we were to speak of the centre of the world in metaphysical terms, this may be expressed as ‘everywhere and nowhere.’ Though often couched enigmatically, the greatest mysteries are nonetheless almost always ‘hidden in plain sight’ indicating the essential and requisite shift in our general perspective; that is to say from the profane to the sacred. To further demonstrate this vital and frequently overlooked key to our engagement with the quality we deem ‘sacred,’ we must examine what usage we articulate by intent.
While many of us may consider how our prehistoric ancestors viewed the numinous realms, beyond conjecture, we remain uncertain. In contra-distinction to this, the later classical world has gifted us a rich legacy of philosophy and experience in that regard. To them it seems, the word ‘sacred,’ rooted in the Latin ‘sacrum’ referred to the gods and all things associated with them, be they animal, mineral or vegetable. Architecture in particular, if dedicated to the gods was described as a ‘sanctum’ – meaning that which is not profane, set apart,’ including a personage of ‘awesome’ (in the correct sense of the word) distinction, in whom the numina of deity resonates.
All derivatives of ‘sacer’ imply a designated space denoted by a boundary surrounding a holy core, foci/altar. The priest in attendance here becomes the one imbued with that essence -‘sacer,’ enabled to fulfill his sacerdotal duties (hence sanctity and sanctuary).[i] As a heightened meta state it finds variant expression within other mystical traditions and praxes ranging from mana to haminja. Of course the generality here may be explained by cynics as the wish-fulfillment induced under impressionable circumstances. Implying that wherever we might sense something other, even if entirely subjective, we will attempt to clothe it with the ‘supraenatural.’

Shani is also the author of The Arcane Veil - ten discourses on the Craft and the history of Magic, and Tubelo's Green Fire on the mysteries of the Clan of Tubal Cain also published by Mandrake, Shani's books with Mandrake

and, as ever, if you want to read the rest of this extract, contain yourself in patience, and watch for The Wanton Green (the book) as the leaves fall, or with the first frosts or maybe when the snow hits...who knows!  Wanton is as Wanton does, but the moment draws closer!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

back to Lud's Church

For beauty there is, and a challenge too. Ice drops, frozen tears, on thorn twigs of a Midwinter morning. Moonrise over the hills. Snow blowing down the dale. The cool under the trees on a summer’s day. Cold water running over rounded stones. A cloud of jackdaws are blown ahead of me down the dale and rise, laughing, in a flowing swirl, up and over the trees ahead.

I'm cheating…..have already posted an extract from this chapter but just came across this image that fits part of the experience so well, I wanted to add that to the mix…

Marlo Broekmans

The delightful Dutch artist Marlo Broekmans has recently joined the Wanton crew lending some wonderful images to the final face of The Wanton Green

To give you a taste of Marlo's work, here are a couple of the images that won't be in the book and you can see a wider array of her work at Marlo's website

Places of spirit and spirits of place

Behind the scenes, design and layout work is nearly completed and Wanton Green should soon be galloping off to the printers, or possibly trotting on its dainty little hooves, so today we're going to throw our readers off to the wilds of Cumbria for a few minutes away with the fairies which is surely of benefit to everyone once in a, frequent, while...

Places of spirit and spirits of place: of Fairy and other folk, and my Cumbrian bones.
Melissa Harrington

Most spiritual traditions speak of finding sacred knowledge through time apart from humanity in places such deserts and mountain tops. These are wildernesses that have no human distractions, where nature can be felt in its magnificence and enormity, and we are reminded of our own mortality, our tiny moment in the face of eternity.
On a minor level, we find an element of this wonder when we walk out in nature anywhere, and it is not surprising that pilgrimage has remained a spiritual stable throughout history and across many cultures, whereby devotees journey to a sacred destination. It is not surprising that hermits live alone in wild places, that monasteries and temples were often built far from the madding crowd, or that the shaman and the witch were usually attributed to live at the edge of the village, between the world of men and domains of the otherworld.
It is easy to journey through nature and remain aloof, blinded and deafened by our worldly cares. But if we align our conscious minds to the wonder around us, if we meditate into it and leave behind the whirling of the mundane mind, we can open ourselves to the glory of nature, and let it aligns us with the magnitude of the universe.

and, as ever, if you want to read the rest of this piece, contain yourself in patience, and watch for The Wanton Green (the book) as the leaves fall, or with the first frosts or maybe when the snow hits...who knows!  Wanton is  as Wanton does, but the moment draws closer!