Sunday, 20 December 2020

A story teller's autumn tale

Now in the quiet time, the in-between time, the pause of the year, there are moments once more for stories to grow and fully form themselves. In the months of autumn blustering winds and my busy time, I have been stealing moments for whisperings, shared dreamings and the watering of words with this wonderous story teller. While the dear kindred soul who wished this being into becoming has been waiting patiently for the autumn tale, which is it my joy to now share.

All as the wind dances to and fro, from long into this autumn afternoon, the story teller listens to the rustling of the falling leaves. Come play they say, come frolic this day. And so the story teller spreads her arms with glee, filling her cloak with a big breath of bluster, she twirls up up onto her toes, almost lifting herself into the swirling colours and the leaves seem to laugh all around her. Gathering a handful of golden russet crackles, she throws them high, high and calls to the wind to take these magical letters, as invitation to the children.

Up up and along blows the wind, flutter, flitter the lovely leaves fly, until each dear child they spy, and float gently gliding down that their message might be found.
And this is what the children hear, from the leaves as they hold them near.
‘Come come to the story teller’s hollow tree
Bring all your gathered autumns treats
Apples, cobnuts and blackberries
We will create a heart-filling feast'

And running and shouting, woohoo wheee come the children,
Tumbling down the hill and tripping over the roots of the huge old hollow tree
They knock, and above them the rainbow bird peeps out to see.

'Yes yes dear ones' the story teller calls, opening the ancient trunk door, 
'Yes leave your hats, coats and scarfs to amuse the wind 
Come in to the warm heart of our beauty-filled tree
Bring all you have brought, come share with me'

And in that secret nook, all lined with the soft growings of the rainbow bird’s song,

The children shelter and show, all that they have gleaned and gathered together
Rowan’s shiniest conker is held by all
Daisy gives generous tastes of her seeded bread
Fern shows how to make a corn cobb doll and a dragon too

Then as the last golden rays begin to slip, dipping behind the branches into the dusk. 
The story teller takes the children out once more,
'Yes bundle up, so you all stay warm.
Now Let us whisper into the patterns of the leaves, all the tales of our adventures, our hopes and even our tears, that as the leaves return to earth the future will grow to reflect all the wisdom of your play'

I hope that encoutering this story has nourished your being, and that you will await with me, the becoming of the story teller's winter tale when it unfolds.

Monday, 14 September 2020

A story teller's summer tale

The summer is slowly ebbing and soon autumnal winds will ruffle the golden leaves, but I will carry the soft glory of this season within me as nourishment for the colder darker months. And this magical story teller will do the same, weaving the whispers and treasures that the playing children have entrusted to her, back into the earth, from where they will spring once more next year.

It has been such a privilege to share moments of my summer time with this wondrous being, who has become at the bequest of a dear kindred soul. This story telling creation will have four seasonal story panels, incorporating transparency work, silks, wools, painting and applique, and of course magical beings to live and move within the frames. 
Today I am able to share with you the summer panel and the story which will accompany it, as well as a little song about the prince of the lavender and the bees.


One summer noon, and perhaps within the folds of this very moment, the story teller is listening to the hum of the bees. She listens for their togetherness in their mummering song and she listens for each bee’s voice, every one. For within their golden buzzing they carry the stories of the flowers they have visited and the old woman hears all the joyful noticings and sing-song questions that the children had come to her with last year.

She hears Rosanna’s wondering at the heart shaped petals she had found and sent with kissed wishes into last year’s summer breeze. She hears Fin’s enchantment with the tiny mint flowers and the small flutterer that danced around them in the warm dusk of the rising golden moon.

And now as the listens dreamily to the bees, reminiscing, she hears other voices of today, children’s voices from the meadow, coming closer and soon they are here, today, perhaps in the folds of this very moment, gathering into her lap, and around her shoulders and at her feet. In their hands they bring treasures, their findlings of today, a seed to plant in the story teller’s skirt, a shell of the sound of the tumbling sea. A stone so hot that it seems to carry the sun, and carried oh so carefully on a purple blossom, a thirsty bee who is too tired to fly.

The story teller holds each child and each child’s wonder and takes their noticings deep into her heart, that the living world will be nourished by all that the children have brought and that next year she will hear these stories in the hum of the bees.

Then the story teller asks Isabel to help her sing a song story with the puppets and all the children gather round to watch and listen.

Click on the picture to hear the song 

The Prince of the Lavender comes 

dancing O'er the Green 

Following the humming bees 

to find his Golden Queen

He carries an offering 

his flower sweet and sunny

In hope she will honour him

with just a taste of honey

I wish you a wonder-filled journey from summer into autumn.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The first unfoldings of a story

A little while ago I received a beautiful message, a message asking me to create a wonder-filled story, a message of deep appreciation and generous trust in my artistry and my listening relationship with the magical beings.

This message came from a dear mother, who had been looking through the pictures of the years of my work and had fallen in love with a previous cyclical tale of a story teller who listens to what the children tell her of their joys in nature and weaves them back into the world, for children to find anew.
The original story can be found here.

I was at first a little nervous at being asked to create from a similar place, but with the assurance that the atmosphere and frame of that previous story could be used as a ground of inspiration with no expectation of duplication, I felt deeply warmed by this request and found myself breathing deeply with enchantment, my heart full, as I began.

And this beginning, which I share with you now, came of itself so bountifully after I had let it sit with me… germinating ….rising …..becoming what it would.

One afternoon the words and images began to want to spill themselves so I opened an old sketch pad that my mother had given me because it had a few empty pages left in it.

But instead of an empty page I opened onto a rosy warmth, left by my mother, and this felt like the most perfect place to lay some of the first words of the Summer part of the story.

As I wrote in messy curves the archetypal female form in nature welcomed my sense of lap and gathering, of sun in stone, of reverence and reverie. And then, when the words were as much there as they wanted to be, the opposite page with its smudge of pastel pinks and yellows beckoned and there this story-teller showed her face, and in her expression was everything that I had felt of her.
 And then from the curl of the movement of the her hair came the puppet play of a child, the dance, in time, of tiny friends and insects with their gifts.
When I looked at these pages I felt a expansive gratitude to the magical beings who were willing to come into this creation and also a small trepidation and concern for whether I would be able to do justice to this story teller in cloth. Then I breathed deeply with her and was reminded that her essence was with me and that would shine through however she grew into cloth and stitches.

But before I had time to sit with her and sew, a feeling of Spring’s story came to me, and there three pages from the summer warmth was a pastel page of spring green. And here into spring came courage and rhythm, and water and movement bursting forth. And then came the frame, just the sense of the winter before the spring and lastly autumn’s nourishing gratitude.
 I still haven’t told my mother about this serendipitous coming across and use of her left-over seasonal beginnings, I know that she will be so happy, but I couldn’t show anyone any of it until the story teller was more strongly here.

And amazingly, after another time of dreaming sleep, she is coming, she has shown herself and my fingers and seeing have found her and heard her and love her. And we have played in the garden weaving summer into her hair.

So today as I share this beginning with you, with joy, I  trust that you will have a sense of the magic of all this happening, and I am full of thankfulness for the possibility offered by such a kindred request and by the holding which all of you have given over all these years, that I might be here, doing what I love, in conversations with the magical ones.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

From trash to treasures - creating wonder from empty boxes

 This is a little story of serendipity, 
A little story of how wee sweet Nicoletta the Treasure Collector came to be.

One sunny afternoon, when I was showing one of my older daughters my new deodorant, she made a little comment about the fact that there was still a fair amount of packaging involved, despite its eco credentials.

And though I had already put the box aside to reuse in my own packaging of wee folk, I started to play with ideas of how this sweet little box might become something more fun and worthy.

At the same time I had been casting my net of inspiration towards fairyland in the hope of a little idea to help a young girl who has been having a less than easy time at the moment.

And then just like that, smile-making-thoughts started to skip into my mind... a little treasure collector, in her own little treasure box, which might sometimes, with play, become a gift shop or such like. A little something that could be taken out and about for company and purpose, on less than pleasant outings.

And so it all started to become

And one little idea led to another 

And I found out more about Nicolleta the wee little treasure collector

And so when I sent her to meet her little girl I was able to add a letter
And now I share this little happening with you all,
 In the hope that it makes you as happy as it made me, 
And that it inspires the creation of other fun and treasure from empty boxes.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

I believe in fairies, truly

Some things are hard to express, sometimes putting things into words feels almost inappropriate, a clumsy capture and thus an alteration of an intangible essence. Sometimes in saying things, in trying despite our ineptitude to communicate more than we can, we make ourselves vulnerable, we risk ridicule for our willingness to know what we cannot quite know.

For these reasons it isn’t always easy for me to say ‘I believe in fairies… truly.’ What I mean when I say this is that I believe in fairyness, in ethereal beings, in the aliveness of the natural world, an aliveness which we are called to perceive, which wants to be known, with which we can communicate daily, in moments, and outside the bounds of time. When I say I believe in fairies I mean fundamentally that I believe in that which as a child I knew to be true, one of the truest things.
 Often as I go about my days I am aware of the aliveness of these beings, or to put it another way, of the forms of this aliveness. Sometimes this awareness is simply there, in magical places, or at twilight, and sometimes I am quite surprised. Always, these encounters give a sense of awe.  Usually such noticings and interactions are small, indescribable moments, a little oh there you are or a small shared breath, perhaps quite appropriately soon dissipating, leaving just a trace in my sense of existence. Such moments are hardly substantial enough to try to communicate.
But now and again perhaps, it is important to mention these happenings, perhaps most importantly to share with others and thereby support these truths.
Mary Oliver offers us
Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
A recent interaction with Marna Widom, an artist who I admire greatly, who’s images seem to me to reflect her own experience of the ethereal realm, reminded me of the importance of the importance of the ‘telling about it.’
Marna commented on a picture which I shared of little beechnut hats sitting on my fingers, my fingers giving playful visibility to the beings beneath or within the hats, these simple pictures resonated with her, and so we came to exchange a few images of those beings which we have seen, showing themselves to us in forms with which we can identify, within drying flowers, seeds, wood. Soon our friend Lucinda Macy joined in too.
It is through the simple nourishment which that sharing of wonder gave me that I find myself with tender courage, taking the time to write about the following little occurrence.
My daughter and I are walking along the pathway by our local allotments, she stops to look at the dry poppy heads, and as she touches one it whispers a little of its seed-sound, I pick it for her to see, shake it lightly, tip it over her hand and tell her that we can take the seeds to our garden. She is still, entranced, shaking into her hand then taking off the edges of the crown to let the tiny black seeds spill more smoothly into her hand.

I feel the mellow time, stretching like humming silence, into the warmth of the sun, into the next year, back to the forming of the poppy and long into seconds of looking. My daughter gives me the empty seed head, and asks for another, I stroke the slightly pink sun-browned paper-thin face, such a beauty, I feel a care for her, though her hourglass is empty, she is not empty, I lay her in my pocket.
Later I am peeling sweetcorn from my veg box and a memory of childhood creeps into me, the beard of the corn is plentiful, and I start plaiting it as hair, I fetch the poppy shell from my pocket, and begin folding, and forming, waiting, watching for the suggestions which the corn wisps make, ‘here is my hand, this will be my cloak’.

She becomes so simply, quickly, imperfectly beautifully. 
I stand her on my daughter’s mantelpiece, she seems pleased.
Soon I bring some wee stitched ones around, they are pleased for my attention, and later for my daughter's attention. There is a fresh newness and invitation to noticing, to playing.
Two days later when I come into the room, I see she seems different.
I look more closely and realise that in the communication between her corn dress and time, she has started to bend, and in so doing she seems to be inclining towards the wee ones around her, listening to them, becoming herself. I am moved by this simple expression of her nature, of her stretching herself into this new body of hers, of her becoming as she dries, as her greenness dissipates giving magic into the air around her.

I share this blessing with you all, that you may be encouraged in your own moments of Autumnal magic. And, these words too, which I love, to accompany you...

I dwell in possibility by Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

Marna Widom's work can be found here @twelvelittletales
Lucinda Macy's work can be found here @willodel