Friday, 30 August 2013

Spores from other realms

Having just read a beautiful piece by Ffyona Campbell about wild mushrooms gathering, I feel inspired to share an extract from a book that I made last year inspired by my experience of listening to the elemental beings as I sew. This extract is about some mystical happenings around the becoming of mushroom family who were part of the gnome and fairy glen that we created for children in our community.

- extract from 'If my heart were a grain of wheat' Sylwyn Guilbaud PhD -

One day I begin making a mushroom gnome, as I am making her I start to feel the quality that she is, when I notice her expression and use pencil to make it visible she seems to look at her arms and reach out, and the words come into my mind “what may I hold?” I do not have an answer. I stand her on my chest of draws and when I happen to glance at her she seems to ask again. 

A few evenings later I am sewing another being to live in the neighbouring mushroom house. She starts to bend forward, my hands reposition her body, I stitch the material so as to hold that shape, “I am wizened, dignified.” She wants a parasol, it is also a mushroom, I fold her hand round its stem, “I am the mother of my shelter.” Then a basket on her arm into which it seems appropriate to place a tiny mushroom, and then to take it out, line the basket with a bit of green silk grass and put the mushroom back again, this aesthetic raises a question in me and she responds “my basket holds and gathers the food that is also that which I nurture, as a child, to plant for the future, soon I will return to the next.”

Next very quickly comes a small one, his hat needs stuffing and old blue jumper scraps come to hand, afterwards I hold him and “my hat is full of dreams…..they are blue as the sky.”

But this little one is not right to fill the first outstretched arms. They seem to call for a mirrored expression, up-reaching. So then I sew again and this time a whole little body makes the mushroom cup, her red coat flaring out, her arms fit her mother’s, but her stem does not come from her feet, rather her hair grows down her back, down down in an ever more fragile spun silk plait, with a wisp. When I place her complete, hands to hands with her mother, she murmurs “mama touch my hair to the ground, there will I grow.”

It seems this family is now complete, but about a week later at a loose end I start to sew, it dawns on me that this may be a mushroom man. As I am sewing I find myself writing in my notebook. The stitching is the pauses between words, the silences that say the words, I am writing of this sewing:
‘As I sew them I realise that I am learning about the elementals,    out of my fingers,    I am always sensing for resonance,    the cloth that folds and becomes in my hands,    that which is patterned into me and in the layer of imagination
round the world is becoming visible,    of course I am aware that the human-echoing forms that I give them is not how they might be apart from me,    yet the are impressions of my relationship,   my human love for other being as it merges with those that are merges,    with the less tangibly known and with plants,   that I am making touchable.’

The mushroom poncho starts to dance, tilting up at the edges with a slight swirl, and that changes the sense of this mushroom being. No longer old, but shy and somehow uncertainly joyful, so I follow the feeling into the face, one eye is a little hidden in his fly away hair, the smile grows.

It is the middle of the night when I finish. I go downstairs and while putting things away, happen to question whether the little gnome’s garden that we have planted in a tray to wait, needs water. As I touch the moss for dampness I see a translucent fine fine mushroom, barely there, growing.

I am overwhelmed, tears come, my heart grows, I look away and look back again, it is too delicate to touch. Should I wake the girls? I wish I had, instead I hope it will stay a few more hours and fetch my camera just in case. The digital screen shows the mushroom as a white silhouette, reified, each flash feels like an aberration, a shrinking, I cap the lens.

The next day the mushroom has folded in on itself, a dark pocket of spores, still beautiful in its curls, I take another picture.

 Downloading these images I am surprised twice. The night photographs are truer than imagined, the mushroom shows itself luminescent, and greens seem to dance around it.

This morning’s picture though, has a hair on the lens, or does it? I go back to look again, the hair spirals out of the moss, next to the mushroom, I would not have noticed it, but through the magnification of the camera lens.

“Mama touch my hair to the ground, there will I grow”

It is my daughter’s hair, she placed the moss when making the gnomes’ garden about a month ago.

I show her the fading mushroom, her hair, the photograph, last night’s mushroom gnome, she smiles “he was telling you it was there.” I am humbled by the clarity of her comprehension, realising that my movement from upstairs to down had fooled me into chronology, linearity, when really it was one response, response, response, response.

“It was a present for you, and for me, cause I so wished for mushrooms to be part of the garden” I apologise for not waking her, I promise to wake them next time, we imagine that will be soon, surely the pores will grow again, there hasn’t been a next time yet.

Fyona Campbell's writing can be found here:


  1. What a beautiful little gnome world... just as life should be x

    1. thank you and yes it is a glorious blessing that life can be like this xx

  2. This little tale just swept me into the wondrous other worldly realm that seems more like home than not..... like the early morning discovery on a the blue lid of a camping pot, covered with dew, of a tiny footprint that was clearly an elfin boot and could be mistaken for no other. My young daughters and I marveled , imagining the little one that stepped there on the edge of the lid. Leaving visions of wonder and mystery through out the day, we found that as the sun came up and passed over and the dew on the pot lid dried---the tiny footprint endured-- perhaps recorded in time by magic fairy dust. For years we kept this pot lid, as every time we spied it, it brought back the splendid find and experience. Now I am thinking how lovely, these many years later, it would be.... to give the wee visitor a form and most devotedly create the elfin boot upon which he danced by. For experiences such as this I shall return many times to this blog! Merci!

    1. and I am utterly enchanted by the existence of the tiny footprint, there is something incredible when magic from the other worlds slips into matter and is held visible, tangible for us, yet there is something quite vulnerable in writing about the experience of such encounters in this world of proof and certainty, and so it is reassuring when our stories resonate with others and are understood. This is in this way that we keep the doorways open between worlds, and issue invitations for such beings to dance through and inspire us, I am so looking forward to seeing these boots, mille fois merci!