Sunday, 31 July 2011

Wild, wild water......

Wild, wild, enchanted water …
Lou Hart

They come here for healing, from all of their ills
A draught of well water is better than pills.
We help with both childbirth, and eye complaints
With seizures, convulsions and all sorts of faints.
(Song of the Water)

Have you ever heard singing in a waterfall or in a stream or the sea?  Who are the singers? Ancestors? Spirits? Forgotten gods?  In streams, rivers and waterfalls if you listen (absently rather than closely) you can sometimes hear music; calling and singing, sometimes the same three notes over and over.  And you will not be the only one. The singers are quite often referenced in local myths and stories and are known in many places including Rostherne Mere in Cheshire, on the Mermaid’s Rock in Lamorna at the far end of Cornwall, and at Llanllwchaiarn in Ceredigion, West Wales.  Are the voices related to some mythical, legendary, historical event or people, or to something more natively intrinsic, to water itself?

Have you ever washed your hands of something you no longer wanted to be involved with?  Have you ever put coins in a fountain and made a wish or thrown them into a well or river? Have you ever purified yourself with water? If so you are part of a long tradition of sacred interaction with water.

(image: St Nectan's Glen by Anthony Cox)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

So where did this Wanton stuff come from....

 Extracts from the introduction to The Wanton Green…the thoughts from the editors that sort of explain what set this whole Wanton occasion into movement

a) Gordon MacLellan
At first: provocation
I had been sitting through (yet another) well-intentioned but essentially saccharine “interfaith and environment” conference. Sitting there, wondering what I would contribute beyond being the wild-card, the barefoot, painted-toenail weirdo at the end of the dais. Asking myself what was it, why was it, that I thought British Pagans could contribute to these discussions…

So I listened, and bristled appropriately, and spoke up on behalf of trees and hills, grubby backyards and window-boxes and realised that I was tired of listening to ownership. It may be blatant “ownership”, it may be couched as “stewardship” or “custodianship”, but the language one hears in so many environmental debates is of management, is of humans making the decisions. “This world is our world. We own it. It was given to us.”

Pagans speak of communion and partnership and recognise a symbiosis where we are simply part of the whole and certainly not the most important part of it all. We have grown into this world, evolved out of its earth and stone, flesh and blood. Proponents of Deep Ecology, permaculture or atheist scientists may use similar terms but perhaps we Pagans add a dimension of shared consciousness. Pagans live in a world that watches us, comments upon us, and is quite likely to turn round and slap us.

b) Susan Cross
And then:
So, how do you tell the story of a pattern or find a start in the waves on the shore?  This introduction may well be your entry point to this collection, but I am writing it looking back.  I am on the brink of leaving the Wanton Green project, setting it free to find its way into your, and other, hands, minds and spirits.  It has enriched the pattern of my life: I hope it does yours.

I don't know why Gordon asked me to join him in this Wanton work nor how I knew so clearly that it was an invitation to accept instantly and completely and explore what that commitment meant afterwards.  

Gordon knew almost all of these contributors, I knew one or two personally, some I had heard speak or read their books, others I had never heard of.  So I came to know them though what they said in answer to that question of connection and passion.The pieces came in gradually and, to start with, each stood alone, individual.  As more arrived, the cross connections began, and the shared voice emerged.  Each was like a root, sometimes tentative, always purposeful, seeking, probing, and questing. Together, they were like a taproot driving, over and over, in different words and imagery, into depth and mystery.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Rite to Roam

And for our next taste of Wanton Green…..the  first paragraphs of "Rite to Roam" by Julian Vayne

All over this wasteland
In the bushes. Nothing special, just the kind of municipal planting one finds in new towns and suburban developments. A rectangular area thick with one type of deciduous shrub (I have no ideas of the species). The space would later be colonised by garages, mostly built by my father. The leaves of those bushes were vivid green in spring, later turning an almost bluish tone and lastly fading into curled crisps of russet.

It was here that I built my first temple.

Adults sometimes assume that what we might call religious or spiritual concerns are of no interest to children. For me at least this wasn’t the case. I was perhaps seven, maybe younger, when I discovered ‘the Orb’. The Orb was an emerald-green-faceted bead of glass, no larger than a pea. I decided that it was special, very special, in fact that it was a God. I scrambled my way into the heart of the bushes, the darkness of this miniature forest. There, among the scraps of litter and cracked clay, I created a pyramid. This stepped ziggurat was the podium upon which my small God would sit. The Orb was installed and I began a daily ritual of worship. Picking my way through the low canopy of leaves, my nose close to the dusty earth, to the shrine I had made. Here I would make offerings of perfume (Swizzels Parma Violets), flowers and my own hair. Sometimes sorcery comes quite naturally to the young.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Fumbling in the Landscape

Over the next few weeks, we'll offer teasing tastes of what The Wanton Green will hold. Your appetiser for today is a morsel from "Fumbling in the landscape" by Runic John

Not too long ago a childhood friend I hadn’t heard from in years got in touch to say that he had been walking near the river we used to play in together as children and was horrified to see that Grasshopper Island had completely disappeared and he was wondering if I was aware of its disappearance!

Strangely enough, I too had been revisiting that path a couple of weeks before and I had to tell him that I too had been shocked to find our illustrious and joyful island was now nothing but dark swirling waters.

As children, Grasshopper Island was a magical and wondrous place, where, once we had climbed the great cliffs that surrounded the main approach to the island and had managed to navigate the treacherous rapids that separated the island from the mainland, we were totally isolated from the rest of the world. Here, in the sweltering summer sun, to the background songs of ten thousand grasshoppers (which gave Grasshopper Island its name) we would spend blissful hour upon hour adventuring. Amongst numerous other achievements, we discovered the fossilised remains of the earliest life that had inhabited the island and unearthed the fossilised footprints of an unknown (at that time) species of dinosaur, we found the site of the ancient city that once occupied the island and discovered the graves and lost treasures of the long overthrown royal dynasty that ruled there. We mapped the Island from end to end.