Granny’s Apples

Just finished munching on one of my granny’s apples. It’s slightly soft, a strange mix of flavours so I hope there wasn’t any worms in it. I eat the whole apple, by which I mean everything apart from the stalk. The core tasted like earth.

Zak and I spent part of the bank holiday at my granny’s house, helping out with the garden. I learnt a few things about planting, and enjoyed getting my hands in the mud and mixing up bonemeal, compost and water to feed the recently transplanted shoots. Picking apples reminded me of the Nagano Apple farm last year (almost a year ago, give or take a couple of weeks..eep).

It reminded me once again that I do love working outside. And I’m trying to learn as much as I can from my granny about her story, while I can. I’m just generally more interested in my family than I used to be, perhaps a sign of getting older or part of piecing together who I am, or where I’m from. Also hearing ancedotes about history in general interests me, my granny was telling me about the apperance of supermarkets. Annoyingly her father was approached my a Mr Sainsburys asking if he’d like to invest £100 in starting up a chain of shops, and he declined; something that understandably was regretted many times in the future!

Actually there are quite a few occasions in my family history where we either had, or had the potential for, a lot of wealth. This swings up and down the generations; both my parents started of without much money at all, and and now earning a fair bit through hardwork; enough to send their children to private school and encourage them in turn to get well paid graduate jobs.

It’s strange how I still take it for granted that my life will naturally fall into a similar financial level to my parents. Actually I’m realising this is not the way things happen, and if anything the choices I’m taking at the moment are leading more into debt rather than out of it.

ah well. 🙂

Cool! – article on the ‘heart mind’ and ‘brain droppings’

“”Where is your mind?” That is not to say you are not paying attention; I just want to know where you think is the actual location of the mind.

Perhaps, you are pointing your finger towards your head and say, “Of course it’s in my head!” Are you sure?

Recent research in the field of immunology, cardiology, gastro-entrology, biochemistry etc. shows that mind is constantly present in our immune system, heart, gut and any other organ you can think of. Mind is literally everywhere in the body.” –article: “Where is your mind?”
——-

Also “Heart is the Seat of Emotions and More” with the wonderful line “In support of the mind-gut connection, one could say that sometimes the “gut feeling” is a lot smarter than the “brain droppings” The latter is a fancy name for such brain activity as thinking and reasoning.”

hee hee… “brain droppings” :):)
——–
there’s actually quite a lot of intereting articles here

edit Another article on the gut-brain : here.
This is really exciting to me because once again it matches up with a lot of other thought/wisdom on the gut as the centre of the body, source of will and so on. Nice.
—–

Howl

finished work.
got in car.
drove east along the coast.
randomly turned off road following sign to “seatown”
climbed up the cliff in this picture.
sat on edge
howled. howled some more into the wind.
looked at the sea for a while
ran down the hill trying to make crow noises and failing.

feel better now. but very tired.

*thunk*

Religion/Active Imagination etc

Over the last week I’ve also been pondering over the religion question, and the comments I recieved.

And then I went and read my recently acquired “complete illustrated William Blake” and found this:

The voice of the Devil.
All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors.
1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.
2. That Energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul.
3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following Contraries to these are True

1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3 Energy is Eternal Delight”
read more William Blake (with pictures!)

Which pretty much sums up my problem and opinion with regards to a lot of religion and science. Here are two points that they cross over:
1. Both are affected by dogmatism, fundamentalism.(it’s a human tendency)
2. Both Split mind, body, soul, into pieces; elevate one aspect above the other. In our western scientific history, it is fairly easy to see how the idea of a seperate, immortal spirit eventually transmuted into the concept of “brain as computer hardware, mind as computer software”

To me, nature, spirit, mind, body, all these are meshed up. Both ‘spirituality’ and ‘rationality/intellecualism’ can fall into extremes where they seek to remove/transcend/abstract human lives away from daily experience.

I LIKE science, I think it’s a great tool, just not the only one.

it all comes down to: imagination and the power of stories.

I went into the natural history museum, and looked at the evolution of humans from monkeys. This is what makes us ‘stand out’:

* tool use
* language
* art/creativity/expression

although actually other animals have degrees of these skills (not so sure about art) so it must be a matter of degree.

Though I think it is the mix of these elements (plus opposable thumbs) that have allowed the development of science, religion, agriculture and everything else.

STORIES and IMAGINATION are fantastically transformative if not vital part of the process. I think they have been intellectually underated by a lot of people. Myths are perhaps stories that relate to issues surrounding life and human life. But most stories contain themes and emotions that effect us.

And I’ve come across Jung’s “Active Imagination” concept which I think is tied up with all this, although again it comes as no surprise since it’s something I used to do anyway!

(hmm it’s 4pm now, maybe I should actually do some work…:) )

Heron feather; Child-Parent relationship, becoming an individual

I went to London and found a heron feather. This was in Regent’s park, where I watched a man feed bread not to pigeons but a motley collection of slightly grubby looking herons; strange to see them ambling about in a rather ungainly fashion, and flappings wings aggressively instead of the usual riverside stillness.

Strange that in my time off, I ventured not out into the wilderness of Exmoor but instead to the heat and excitement of the city. And it was exciting, for the few days I was there, engulfed by all that activity and people, spending time with my parents. Strange to again be meeting my mum and dad out of the context of the family home, and then when it’s time to go home head off in different directions.

Also strange that we spent saturday morning, not rushing about the tourist sites or shopping districts, but leisuring floating down a tree lined canal that took us from “little venice” right into Camden market. As we waited for the boat to arrive, sipping coffee, I got my dad talking about his school life which was fantastic. Normally rather reticent and thoughtful looking, I love seeing him open up a bit and start being enthusiastic about conducting chemistry experiments in an old stable,describing the layout of his boarding school, with an orchard round the back. Taming jackdaws and being “fags” for prefects, or in my dad’s case be the “lightbulb fag” and making sure the lightbulbs were changed as needed.

On one level, I am still their child, continuing the quest for approval and acknowledgement.
However it is really nice that I’m now starting to form a new relationship with them, that is, getting to know and see my parents as people. We’re always going to have some fundamental disagreements in world view, but yet I can see aspects of both my parents in myself and it is enough to slowly build a friendship.

It has taken quite a lot of work for me to get to this point, and there is more to do, but I’ve stepped a little beyond the blame-parents game, and even to some extent the fulfill-parent-expectations one.

You see, what was bothering me really was not something my parents themselves could change, because it wasn’t coming from -them-. Yes, their words and actions might have fed certain fears, worries, hopes, assumptions in myself. And yes, my searchings have uncovered some unbelievably deep wounds and pains, but when I felt them, they went.

‘They’ say that when you’re a child you feel as if your parents are gods. You get older and realise this is not the case. For me, I also demonised my parents for a while, rejected everything about them, hated them for not being what I “needed”, desperatly wanted to get away from them, to become their opposite in some sense.

In my mind, my mother was warped into a grasping, skeletal woman, refusing to give birth to her child, even as the umbilical cord rotted and festered away. My father became distant, cold, faint, full of angry laws, dismissal and dissapointment. These two were like demons in me, in turn magnifying and distorting my whole experience of my actual parents. They were something for -me- to confront, since from my parent’s point of view they didn’t even exist!

That grasping-mother? I killed her in a dream a few weeks back. And she looked nothing like the exciteable Irish woman who was so pleased to see me in London last week, handing me a glass of wine and a plate of salad.

And today, when I think about my parents, I think about the people I spent time with in London. Trying food in Camden, going to the fantastic “Globe” theatre to see a live shakespeare play. In my mind, they have shrunk to people-sized, helping to make space for my own self to grow. Not to say the demons won’t come back – I know they will, but now perhaps I can be prepared.

Something else has happened. I’ve been recalling a lot of the -good- aspects of my parents. My mother looking after me when I was ill or scared late at night, no complaints, just patient compassion. My father explaining and teaching me maths, and physics, using imagery and metaphor so I could understand. Also his wonderful way of ‘dealing’ with me when I panicked, or worried, which was to get me to “go on then, have a good panic, wave your hands about and yell, just get it out” which always ended up in turning the tension to humour. My mother taking me to church and thus giving me some small taste of another side to life, my father’s science fiction and Asimov books, and our saturday morning trips to the library. The regular walks we took as a whole family, to forests, rivers, sea. There was a lot of good-stuff that they introduced into my life, and it seems to me now that “becoming an adult/individual” means not just exorcising the demons but valuing and taking on board the nurturing, teaching, encouraging, if not disciplinary aspects of mother/father. Learning how to do it yourself.

..actually I think it goes a step further. We humans seem to need many things – to be loved, cared for, encouraged, reassured, understood, challenged, excited, calmed, taught, nurtured, humoured. To learn patience, humilty, laughter, spontaneity and confidence. And the best thing is that we get these things from other people, not just from within ourselves. We can give out these things, and in return recieve them. I’m reminded of our language, that currency of communication, the potential for which is wired into our neural circuitry and yet we will develop it only when immersed in others already speaking.

On one occasion, many years ago I find myself holding my mother as she cried about the death of her friend. I’ve lain in men’s arms and felt protected like a child, but also wanted to hold thers and protect them like a mother…. WOW! I think I just realised something!

I’ve been stuck in this uneasy tension between reliance on parents, lovers, other people, and wanting to make everything fuck off and just be alone and looking after myself. Stuck because neither “option” seemed right. I’ve been swinging back and forth between the two for a while now, but recently I’ve felt a need to change inside and not just only be able to deal with the world by retreating away all the time. The challenge is to learn how to engage with the world as myself.

And actually, when I look at it, I’ve know this for a long time. You don’t get everything you need from one set of parents or a single partner, or yourself. I grew up with effectively, two mothers simulataneously, my ‘real’ mother and a earth-goddess-like woman Pam who was employed as a kind of nanny from the first few months of my life to when I left for university. It was Pam’s family, who had a lot less money but much more emotion that brought me up as a person, and taught me it was ok to laugh. And I’ve found or encountered many ‘father-teacher’ figures who converse and encourage me on subjects my own father has little to say. Not to mention finding, finally, a small group of friends who actually encouraged my creativity, drawing, sense of self and teenage explorations – now women who I’m glad to still be in touch with! (I love you guys) And beyond that, my relationship and interactions with nature, animals, birds, and everything from there which has gone into who I am now. Add to that the internet, livejournal, forums and so on, with the support, discussion, ideas… wow!!

I think William Blake said it right:
“as a web is to a spider, so is friendship to man”

conclusion/Cat’s “realisation of the obvious” moment : yes, it’s important to take solitude time.
And to keep learning how to nurture myself. But, nurturing myself isn’t something I have to go and sit in room by myself, alone, to do. Actually, it’s OK to get help from other people! (duh!) And even part of looking after yourself MEANS looking after other people, in a weird sense. It is healing to spend time with others, laughing or singing or discussing. (at this point I feel a bit tied in knots because my concept of where ‘I’ stop and ‘other people’ start gets very blurry)
—-
I’m sure a lot of this is self-evident, but right now it’s the biggest part of my life, as I finally realise I’ve moved on from “home”, from my parents ‘responsibility’ to being my own person. Maybe I’m making a big deal of this. But the first week I got to Exeter, I found myself living -as- my parents, eating and thinking and shopping in age-old fashions. I realised I didn’t want to do this, because there is so much more potential, that I can, if I choose, do things “my way”. It’s a bit scary but also tremendously exciting. (which is actually my default view on life, I’m coming to realise!)

——-

oh..and the heron feather. It’s now on my ‘shrine’ with the coyote skull, crow skull and wolf fur.

Herons make me think of patience and hope. This is a big thing for me right now, relaxing my need to be “making progress” where “making progress” means rushing and stressing about getting a new job everytime I get some energy back. It helps me to look at herons, because they show me a wisdom that is otherwise quite hard to spot in our hectic modern world; that standing still is not the same as doing nothing. And actually, if herons didn’t stand still paying attention they wouldn’t notice the fish. I’m tired of running around after bits of stale bread looking silly. 🙂

(and actually, there is a fish heading this way right now, but more on that if I actually catch it..)

my current take on religion

To me, people who say religions are 100% bollocks are missing out on a very fascinating and relevent part of the human story. Relevent if you want to begin to understand the situation we are in today with regards to fundamental christians, terrorists, and all the like: how did we get like this? Fascinating because exploring this area leads to many surprises, more questions and new possibilites.

Or perhaps, I’m just an addict to reading about this kind of stuff, in the same way that some people are interested in sports cars, world war 2 history or computer games. 🙂

I’ve digested a lot of information on this whole area in the last 6 months, but not really said much. Mostly because what I say is still very clumsy, and it’s so hard to condense it down. But I’m going to try (for want of something better to do..)

my response to ‘religions are 90% rubbish and 10% social control, the notion of ‘god’ is rubbish’ 🙂

Simple comforts

I swear this morning, I lay curled up in a warm duvet, feeling to all the world like a wolfy-fox like creature, nose tucked in tail, fuzzy and -content-. It took me a long time to get out of bed, and I was late for work, but it wasn’t from the leaden denial of depression; a refusal to get out of bed because the world is, frankly, not worth it. This was pure and simple 100% -enjoyment- of my bed. There is a difference.

Contentment is under-rated.

At least I’ve been under-rating it. I have found I do get fueled by excitement, intellectual, progressive activities, studying and learning and testing and discussing. I love it! One of my favourite treats is to sit in a coffee shop, drinking from a massive mug, engrossed in a book on occidental mythology, or alchemy, or developmental biology (embryos! wow!).

I also love, rushing around outdoors in the fresh air, dancing about and swimming in the ocean.

But it’s only recently I’ve remembered about just allowing myself to be -content-. And it IS an “allowing” because I’ve got so much guilt and fear connected to this idea of just stopping for a bit, that if I don’t keep running I’ll never get there, or that I’ll never start once I’ve stopped.

I can get round this if I imagine/feel looking after the wolf, my soul, my spirit-in-matter. Simply I pay attention to her and allow her space. Contentment then comes easily and without the ‘guilt’. I start finding more and more depth of experience in the simple – it’s amazing just how -much- you can enjoy a bath, or a mouthful of food, or the company of friends, or a warm bed.

It also helps if you get some perspective and value what you have. Monday night I went on a spontaneous walk and got talking to a guy who was sleeping underneath a willow tree. The next morning I REALLY enjoyed my sheltered room!

on loving (notes)

It goes without saying that love is something deep, simple, silly, mysterious and certainly complex. But certainly something fundamentally vital to life.

Today it occured to me, that being able to *feel* love, and being able to *express* love are not quite the same thing, and that to be whole involves learning how to engage in both, and that this appears to me in the image of an embrodiery thread being stiched into the tapestry of life.

This thought has been coming for a while. I think…I can feel and express love for nature, perhaps, but I’m not so good with people, and that the two are little different. There have been only a few occasions when I feel like I’ve really EXPRESSED love, and the sensation that goes with this is as tangible as the icey-pain-shards of a damaged heart. The sensation is as if something is coming from outside me, into me, through my core, out of my heart, and it makes me feel warm and loved at the same time.

oh. hang on. so expressing love = feeling love? hmmmmmmmmmmmmm *brainbreaks*

(more mulling over expression of concept required..or not)

Actually maybe THAT feeling was what happens when you are in the whole ouroubus-like feeling-expressing loop.

The other observation is that some people seem very resistant to feeling love. I’ve got quite good at it but without the expression part it twists into a weird vampiric thing. I’m not very good at expressing love, it tends to come out all wrong…I don’t really know how to do it.

Basically: Just because I can feel joy and love and stuff, does NOT mean *IM* actually any good or perfect and spiritual. Actually I think I’ve got a loooooooooooooong way to go before my love is anything even remotely unconditional. Kinda sobering really.

(having said that, I think the wolf knows, but I still tend to twist everything that comes from there..or I don’t allow those feelings, or I don’t know how to fit them into the world around me)