Thursday, December 22, 2011

29 Just a simple candle

29 Just a simple candle
December 16th to 22nd, 2011:
Wind, take this song to the laughing river.
Let it flow seaward as the long night turns.
And when the thrush heralds the sun's return,
World, hear our song; enough is enough!
The cave shines blackly like coal or jet. It's enfolded and ridged, smooth
and curved, soft to the touch yet firm. I sit in the dark and feel my bones;
muscle and flesh settle in comfort.
Down into the stillness I sink. My breath soft and even. Dark is the velvety
silence that holds me. Invisible arms whose touch cannot be felt suspend me
in this place before the seed begins to grow. Oh, I like it here!
In that space of nothing, a small flame glimmers. In that place of coolness,
a soft heat nudges my cupped hands. Nuzzlingly affectionate is that so
small flame that is hope.
"Deep in the earth, deep in her womb,
Cradled in the dark, resting in the tomb."
I sink down further in search of something else. There is nothing else. The
flame is enough. Light a humble candle whenever hope is needed. It's simple.

The next day, I am called back down into the earth. This time, a fleeting
image of Mama Bear and my wolf dressed as Beatrix Potter characters
astonishes me. Incongruously they move mincingly and with faux gentility,
their frilly frocks offensively mocking against their rough furry bodies. Am
I antromorphosising my power animals? My shocked mind reels quickly from the
thought and the images disappear
Here is a candle. I take the warmth and light of it into my body, my heart,
my sex, my belly. This is to remind me, in the darkest of times, of warmth
and strength and light. I hear the message for the second time of giving.
"Light is returning, although it seems the darkest hour.
No one can turn back the dawn." We sing. Into my mind comes the other verse.
I struggle to remember the words and notice the shift of emotions within my
body. Something is sad and poignant, touching and a little painful. What is
"Let's keep it burning.
Let's keep the flame of hope alive.
Make safe our journey to the light."
Three days later, I drag myself away from everyday chatter. The clock edges
towards sunset. It is the beginning of the longest night. Pulling on my coat
and hat, I walk into the garden.
Robins, magpies and a thrush sing away as the last of the light begins to
fade. Airplanes grumble across the sky. Behind them, sirens wail, car tyres
hiss. The city sings its evensong. Amongst the chorus, my ears catch the
unmistakable sound of a blackbird, singing his joyous song as the light
fades. This audio talisman of hope lifts my heart. I sit down under the
castor oil plant.
What is it I need for when the sun returns? My mind is quiet. I listen to
the garden. I need to find time to do this, to be in this quiet space and to
observe the turning of the year and the everyday circumstances of nature
alive and singing. I need to mark this longest night by bookending it with
magical practice. That seems simple and achievable enough. I will use the
black candle as a symbol of dark and light, to help me find that balance in
this year that offers instability, financial challenges and an uncertain
role for me in public life.
Later still, shoulder to shoulder I stand with other singers, gathered to
show support to Occupy London stock exchange, encamped at the feet of St
Paul's. Voices rise on the breeze, entwine, arabesque, separate and step in
unison. As one, we turn, hands on hips and point accusingly at the Stock
Exchange. "Enough is enough!" we sing out loud and proud.
It is over. Hard by the Western Cathedral door, five of us arms around each
others shoulders, rock and sway, chanting rhythmically as we connect with
the watery servants of London's rivers running across this great city.
Beneath our feet, Diana's temple lies, her courage is that of London's
rebellion, her river, Isis's river, snaking its powerful way between the
shining buildings that control so much obscenely misused wealth.
We breathe and tone, sway and stamp sending our energy down into the earth,
to the waterways and the deep fast flowing river, out to the sea and to the
world beyond. A great connection with struggles across the world is forged
by every drop of water that flows through the city and its cousin tumbling
along between the banks of another great city across the grey roaring ocean,
united by the ever moving, ever dancing sea.
I yearn for the river. We walk to the Millennium Bridge and hang over its
rail, and serenade the Thames. She chuckles back as she swells and rises.
Passersby glance curiously at the little group singing to the waters.
Striding back towards the cathedral, we sing loudly and cheerfully. Our
harmonies encircle each other in haphazard counterpoint as words form and
reshape themselves.
"In the jungle, the concrete jungle,
the protesters sing tonight ...
Occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy!"
In the darkness, the thrush is clearly calling the sun's return. His
symmetrical sequences pierce the dark end of night. I throw open the garden
door and step out into the still coolness.
The cold breath of that time just before first light pats my cheek.
Carefully I move between the wet bushes. Twice a silken spider's thread
touches my skin, is broken and lets me through.
I sit down under the castor oil plant and wait. The thrush has been joined
by a hoarse-voiced pigeon, sounding every bit as though he's had a rough
night on the tiles! Beyond the trees, robins begin to quarrel and the garden
fence shakes as purposeful paws tread firmly along it. Wings beat soft,
gentle scirring oblique paths across the garden.
The city is awake. It hums and grumbles along the damp roads. Above, a plane
dissects the sky, and then another. I listen to the breeze shaking the ivy
leaves as another bird flutters by quite close now. With my ears testing
each texture of sound, I listen out for the change in the shapes in the
garden. My mind takes the curving path up between the trees to that place
where there's a spring, a rock and a leaping fire, sheltered by tall trees.
But I am not meant to be there right now and I withdraw myself reluctantly.
I am still. Purposefully, I empty my mind. I allow only the awareness of the
garden and its inhabitants, for this is enough. Loudly now the birds sing. I
sense we are on the edge, the cusp of something, something that will turn
The air is thickened to my right. Something is standing there, just in front
of the rowan tree. I reach out with my mind to meet the presence, slightly
inclining my head respectfully.
She - he, they - stand, slightly taller than me, strongly upright with feet
firmly earthed on the ground. A pigeon flies down and lands at its feet. The
presence bows to the pigeon and the pigeon bows back.
"Who is this"? I wonder, striving to make a connection. And then I know.
This is the powerful, purposeful successful me, the leader, the decider, the
battle for just causes. I open up my arms and she comes into them, melting
into my heart.
"I have a candle, I have a magical practice, and I have my voice. I also
have my strong powerful self. Four gifts with which to celebrate the sun's
return. I need no more.


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