Some years ago, I published a fantasy novel, set in the magical landscape of Yorkshire. It was initially written to preserve some of the stories and folklore I had learned as a child, wandering the moors with my grandfather. From there it grew and became something I had not expected, making me laugh and cry as I wrote.
When it was published, I was new to self-publishing and wholly inexperienced; the story deserved better. But as it is never too late to make amends, I eventually relaunched a new edition of Swords of Destiny.
The Garden of Ogmios
An extract from Swords of Destiny
“Welcome to the garden of Ogmios,” said Merlin, his words echoing, whispered by ghostly voices till they faded into silence. “Here, outside of time, he tends the roots of the mountain and grows his home from living rock. Look well, Heart of Earth, for you…
Psychologist, Maurice Nicoll studied under Fourth Way exponents G.I Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky, and presented his own philosophy in a series of works published during the Mid Twentieth Century.
In his seminal work, Living Time… he makes no bones about insisting that the psychological states and concepts that he is expounding, and their utilisation, are ancient and stretch back through Christianity, Judaism, the Greek Philosophers and on into the mysterious climes of Pre-Dynastic Egypt…
In re-presenting these ideas as a series of poetic explorations, author and essayist, Stuart France uncovers a series of links with the Mediaeval Traditions of the Northmen, and the Matter of Britain!
What is the original story of our week? How does the moon harrow hell? Prepare to be enthralled, entertained, educated, and enlightened, as new light is shed on the enigmatic figures of Wotan, Merlin, and…
Long, long ago, when the world was still young and I was younger still, I moved into a house with a garden. It wasn’t much of a garden, long-deserted, overgrown and gone to seed, but my mind painted it in rainbows. Since getting married, we had lived in a flat and a ‘street house’ that opened straight onto the pavement. My only forays into gardening had been herbs on the kitchen windowsill. It was the first time I’d had a garden of my very own, though there had usually been one at my parent’s home and my grandparents’ long-established gardens were places of magic and mystery.
It is odd to think that although I remember every home I have lived in very well, as well as those of my grandparents, I remember the gardens better. I have but the vaguest of memories of my father’s family home. We probably did…
“Religion is a matter of diet. You must choose what suits your spiritual digestion, I suppose.”
Naomi Jacob, ‘Four Generations’.
Growing up, I loved the stories that Naomi Jacob wrote about the Gollantz family. I am not Jewish, though some of my forefathers were. Reading Jacob’s books gave me an insight into part of my own family’s culture and recent history. One passage has come to mind a lot lately. Emmanuel, the lead character, is struggling to come to terms with pain and loss. Hannah Rosenfeldt, an old friend, tells him that he must learn to say, ‘The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord’. Emmanuel cannot bring himself to say the second part, as he cannot bless a God who allows tragedy to happen. I was way too young to fully understand the stories, but this particular dialogue stuck…
The raven circled in wait while the seeker studied the land. The bird knew her in the memory of her bones and the knowing had brought the raven into flight to follow the girl’s path. Finally she had arrived. Millenia had passed and the raven’s ancestors foretold that she would someday be there to recover the magic held inside the stones. They had watched time pass without judgement or remorse, tending the land as they did the skies with patience.
Some who traveled the land foretold doom in the birds’ black visage, shivering at the shadows cast upon their souls, unsettling the darkness they held within. It was not the raven’s darkness, but those that hovered inside their shadows. This the ravens knew as they circled the light and waited for the awakened one.
Still others shot pellets that brought pain and sometimes death to halt the mighty wings and silence the haunting calls, laughing as the ravens fell back to Earth not realizing that the fall was also theirs. Such was the way of the humans who walked with the pomp of fear hidden inside bravado. But the ravens forgave their young minds, knowing that this too was a passage and that each life circles back to the point of union when it is ready.
This one, though, walked as though she was the land and also the sky. The raven could see all elements inside of her, woven into the membrane of life that held her body close but not her mind. Open she was to all before her. Each footstep, each touch of the earth and stone, brought the call of home through her cells, and the girl began to hum the language once lost through the channels of her throat.
Above, the raven resisted the longing to call back. To respond to her and join their voices as one.You must wait until she finds the token, the ancestors had warned. Only then will you know with certainty that she is the one.
Each circling of the girl cast a shadow upon her, but the girl never wavered in her step. She had passed beyond the threshold of fear and the reasoning of the mind to the place of heart-knowing. And she was almost there.
They had dropped the feather under the mound of stones that led to the chamber’s opening, pushing the shaft with their beaks to pierce the ground. Buried under heather and bracken, above layers of soil, the sacred site had long been neglected by the touch of humans. Only the unseen passed its gates now, but the raven knew the time had come to mark the change.
She approached with love only. Slender fingers traced the outlines of form, and above the raven’s body began to rock in rhythm to the heartbeat of the awakened land. The black feather waved, but held fast to the opening. And as the girl entered the channel of the goddess’s womb, leaving the feather behind to dance her joy, the raven burst into song.
For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt #token. Please click here to see the original post to participate.
CGI reconstruction of Avebury Henge, from ‘Standing with Stones’, by Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott
We were, had the world not closed ranks against the pandemic, supposed to have been running a workshop at Avebury this summer, looking at some of the less obvious sites and addressing some of the deeper questions posed by the presence within our landscape of such a remarkable ancient site. One of the questions we might have asked is why, given all the evidence to the contrary, society in general still persists in seeing our ancestors as uncultured and brutish when we have been aware, for a very long time, that this is not so.
In 1939 a sculpture was found in Stadel-Höhle im Hohlenstein. Carved of mammoth ivory, the Löwenmensch, as the lion-headed anthropomorphic sculpture became known, was determined to be some 40,000 years old and is one of the oldest known examples of…
“Empty your mind… empty yourself…you are nothing and nowhere… just floating in the embrace of the universe…” It is a nice idea and one I have heard at the start of many a meditation… and in meditation, such a vision has a place. As a way of living, it is not particularly practical though. Someone has to walk the dog, take out the trash and clean the bathroom… and a person wafting through life being ‘nothing and nowhere’ is unlikely to be getting down and dirty with a scrubbing brush or chasing a recalcitrant hound across a muddy field.
It is such concepts that, for some, consign the whole idea of spirituality to the odd corners of life. It becomes a pastime, something to ‘do’ in spare moments or with a group. It isn’t reality, is it?
I have a friend who has been sharing her forecasts for the future with me. Last night, on our ride home together from the lake, passing sign after sign supporting the aggressor, my daughter asked me if I, or any of my friends, had tried to predict the outcome of the election. And so I told her that prediction is imperfect as I began I mini lecture on free will. I didn’t tell her the whole truth, that I simply don’t want to know something that might pull me into hopelessness.
I am finding these days I want to close my ears and eyes to what I don’t want to see. I’d like to hold onto hope only, and the belief that we can grow infinitely closer to love in just one moment, changing forever the outcome of doom.
I used to channel like my friend, and quite often. I still do, but not by choice. When she slips me into a past life regression to heal the physical body, I find the higher self slides effortlessly into the gap to reveal what my dreams bring forth in the night.
The other day, I found myself bemoaning the “shit-show” that this summer has been in so many ways, along with the confession that each “shit-show” that has played out in my own life has come after a premonition as though that self that sits behind the scenes has pulled the curtain down to prepare me for each horror I don’t want to see.
After the complaining, I stopped to peer more closely at the “show,” realizing that I had placed my own value by giving it a descriptor. Without the descriptor, I am reminded that we are always, in sometimes undecipherable ways, given what we need. The struggle is real when we make it so, but I find myself longing for the easy breath. Yet, the breakdown must come before the opening. I am just one tiny mirror of the billions that surround me. We are a world collapsing to unfold.
My friend, when I speak with her, rejoices in the scene she sees, but while she talks I find myself falling into the acts of the play that bring us to the final scene she has fixed upon. We disagree about the necessity of life returning to the great womb until I need to see it for myself. I part the curtain with caution, and as it falls effortlessly away I realize how much I have held onto the notion of pain and fear. How foolish I have been to forget that the love and joy I seek is always waiting on the other side. The veil between so thin it in fact does not exist outside of our own minds.
The dream keeper ran through Sky. Unseen by most, his ursine form clouded the blue beyond and brought the west winds to seed the stars’ wisdom into the valley between the hills. Earth waited breathless, opening her womb to receive his air as mist. His shape dissolving into hers as droplets coalesced into the seeds of being and implanted themselves into her cavern. Love stirred the grasses into parting, caressing the memories of stones with light until the sigh released into One.
We all know them, that handful of people who cling to a reactionary refusal to own a mobile phone… or turn it on when they do… or bother to check it. Or they don’t really like computers or social media. You can’t get hold of them, they pass their lives in a state of technological invisibility and you wonder how on earth they can survive…
Or… you secretly envy them their anonymity and accepted state of unavailability…
It is not so very long ago that communication was less intense, relying on ‘local’ calls and handwritten letters. The reliability of the mail was legendary, if slow, and such missives could be cherished or responded to in a timely fashion… say, a week or two. And that was okay. These days, ‘radio silence’ presses the panic buttons… people, including ourselves most of the time, expect an instant response. We have, very quickly…