Saturday, 28 September 2013

remembering again and again, it is really barely me

Last night just before bed I was searching through a small bowl of bird's egg blue. This bowl holds what I lightly call my fairy soup. It is full of tiny fairies for unexpected visitors, and treasured beings in their becoming, not yet fully fledged. To call it fairy soup is not, you understand, an indication of the edibility of fairies! It is more born of an initial giggle at the mix of colours in the bowl, and then a gentle delight in the metaphor of nourishing warmth and of the delicate mix of ingredients and materialising subtle flavours in soups as in nature. 

Last night I was looking for a particular baby fairy when my fingers came across something which I had quite forgotten. I lifted it out and I saw what I held. Perhaps this being had become since I had placed the rose in the bowl in the summertime, perhaps my eyes have become more sensitised in the intervening time, perhaps I had already almost seen her when I laid her in the bowl, laying the trace for my soul to now thrill in the awe of recognition. 

See her green bonnet asks only for me to contribute the tiniest soft silk face, and perhaps even that will be too much. She will be a Valentitnes gift for one my daughters. Quite probably she will fly, with so many other fairies who have come, from the mobile in my younger daughter's room, because the eldest now has a minamilist white feel to her growing up space. 

But before being given to my girls, she has been of herself, a gift to me. She has spoken to and thereby nourished the part of me that knows that these beings who meander or rush or slip or fly, who breath into cloth through my grateful enchanted hands are really barely my doing - they are the life of the elements forming my eyes, meeting my fingertips, dancing through the imaginal layers. 

When I listen and await in love, they come. When I trust and simply follow, the become into the form that my hands are able to birth.
When they flow through other hands in different ways, it is still they who come to be seen and held and loved, because...

It Felt Love

Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its

It felt the encouragement of light
Against its

We all remain
Frightened.' ~ Hafiz (trans. by Daniel Ladinsky)

So parents, grandparents, family friends, do please let yourselves find moments to create fairies and gnomes and elves and sprites, in your own way for your children who will recognise them. Let your children know you greeting the living beings of rock and flower and sea washed twig with your hands.

Do this for your children, that they will sense how to do it for their children, so that the elemental beings may continue to have access by which to permiate our material and our senses, to remind us again and again to wonder in awe at what life might be in the unfurling petals of a rose.

Friday, 20 September 2013

an unspooling spiel of inspiration

In the spell of the harvest moon I found myself floating from yesterday into this morning, following a thread unravelling through one image after another, letting myself be led in tender whimsey

Yesterday on my mother's dresser a little jug I reached to touch, imagining antique silk my bemused fingertips found soft soft nearly gone white rose petals

and so this morning instead of tidying I was hand painting dragonflies and damselflies on kimono silk to bring fairy flight to this little miss 
Crimson pepper pod
add two pairs of wings, and look
darting dragonfly.
(by Basho) 
and reentering the atmosphere of our enchantment by Rumer Godden's 'Miss Happiness and Miss Flower

when day by day we found ways to make our own Japanese dolls house

and precious antique dolls came alive to live in it

and revisiting instruction 
glimpsing a gifted sweet box

of damselfly fairy wings 
and now to stitch beneath the moon at play

Monday, 16 September 2013

in the hum of the hive 'we are stardust' is set to song

I am lucky, my mother has always believed in me, and these days she sees the deep of what I am attempting in stitching small otherworldly beings. Within this light, at the beginning of the summer she said to me that she felt it would be valuable to make some beings in honour of, and in response to, the bees and those less visible who fly with them.
To my initial surprise these bee beings did not come quickly, nor did they come easy, nor simply. Rather over the warm months they birthed in a complexity of pockets of time of intense exactitude.. of pauses between...of secrets that had to be both materialised and hidden, barely hinted at, yet still within. 

The little boy came very first, his face bearing a rainbow and the cells of gold honeycomb, my daughter though saw the eyes, which I had not really noticed, saying in her wisdom 'one sparkly one dreamy, just right for a bee.' 

The mothering bee fey grew wings of rubbed gold but was strangely empty until the flowers blossomed on her skirt, and yet she remained still unsatisfied until her arms could cradle twin baby bees and her solar plexus became a heart pocket with a rainbow pillow of lavender - lavender from the expanse along the wall of our front garden which has been blessed with more bees than ever before, every day of this summer. 

The male bee lay naked and wrapped in a patchwork of indian silk for a long time, he lay where the other gnomes and fairies gathered and at times had a wand of tomato stars and several branches of aquilegia seeds placed over him, he rested so long without indication that I wondered if he might perhaps not be destined to be. 

Then I saw the inside of a physalis husk, a fine shine of gold transperacy as the wings of insects, and on the other side green tree threads lacing intricate messages across the papery yellow. This was his headress, as feathers and honeycomb and therefrom the drone prince became in pervasive peace.

In the evening while my young daughter silk painted bright flowery colour rounds for her poems, I found myself painting his cloak, and in following what came, stars above the bees on the lavender, and with these I caught a wondering thought... in the hum of the hive 'we are stardust' is set to song.

In my hands this prince seemed to touch on my sense of the prince in Ben Okri's Starbook 
'Long ago, in the time when the imagination ruled the world, there was a prince in this kingdom who grew up in the serenity of all things. He was my mother's ancestor, and he alone of all the people in that village loved playing in the forest. He was very handsome and fair and bright and the elders suspected that he was a child of heaven, one of those children from another place, who was not destined to live long.' 
And he brought to mind a painting of rhythm of seed sewing from Carl Larsson's picture book, Our Farm. This image became the seed bag, which in its fields of harvest also reflects the patchwork of colours in which the prince had rested. 

I found my personal story of bees encircled by these impressions and I realised that my story of bees is woven through mystery with my story of universe and in that with my story of being and of loving creation. 

As a child I didn't like honey...perhaps that was to be expected as I also spat out my first sweet, hated jam and never ate deserts. My relationship with bees was not through their mana although I remember the dizzying pleasure of sucking tip after tip of nectar form armfuls of french cowslip bells. My sense of bees was in their collective hum, which is also how I encountered them in stories...Winnie the Pooh with his balloon and Dear Mrs Apple and her beehive. 

I knew of bees through their sting with its accompanying sorriness for the panicked death I had caused. But the first gift of the mystery of bees was for me in the possibility of their wax. I spent hours warming and moulding beeswax, this was perhaps my first awareness of my hand's creative delicacy - Blue Mary and her baby wrapped in transparent yello, gnomes, flowers, farmers with curly shoes... in beeswax I formed from the unbounded cosmos of my fingertip's dreams. 

The first time I found honey delicious was when I was fifteen doing work experience with a steiner school kindergarten teacher named Marigold, who conincidentally always reminded me a little of Mrs Apple. Sitting down at break time in the company of children and eating half slices of fresh bread with honey was wonderfully sweet.

Since then I have discovered the joy of eating honeycomb with a spoon, a mesh of the bees second sweet gift to me with the wax of their first.....And when I had my first baby I came to using this magic mixed with calendula marigold flowers in pultises for mastitis .....And when my second little girl was born, her first darling name was honey, both for its warmth and for its vast mana, which fitted with my sense of her.

At the moment my digestion struggles with the richness of honey and I my tasting is reduced to an occasional lick. Yet I find myself once again dizzyingly joyfully greedily tasting flowers alongside the bees, picking lavender straight into my warm cup of green tea day after day and being thrilled that the bees are there touching the purple blossom that I drink. 

And now as I write this I search to find some writing about bees to add in closing and this is what resonates, from Bees, lectures by Rudolf Steiner 
The whole beehive is permeated with life based on love. In many ways the bees renounce love, and thereby this love develops within the entire beehive. You will begin to understand the life of bees once you are clear about the fact that the bee lives as if it were in an atmosphere pervaded thoroughly by love.
Through this summer's endeavour I have recognised the third gift offered to me by the bees, that of loving attentiveness to love
and so I ask 
for love, 
pray tell 
your stories 
of bees 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

playing in patterns of serendipity

In the night as mushrooms grow I drew a silk ribbon of story, a fine slip of skeletal pattern to wrap a etherial being.

 I drew patterns of what was before, of the history of the mushroom's material, long decayed life forms, I drew leaning on this book

This morning I caught the light through echoes of lacy layers
And in the listening air opened my notebook incase some words might come while i stitch. This page opened forgotten, pressed flowers positioned by chance, stuck as they dried in a form to mean something to me today, patterns of serendipity 
As I listen I sense that listening is all I can do, there is no striving to hear in this liminal land of what might play into being, we cannot grasp at the patterns of serendipity and yet must not discount our perception in bringing such inspiration to be
and then from the silence's simmering shiver shimmer that stretches...a few words emerge 
'In the mushroom's dress, dance the tree top leaves,  
In the jellyfish's water pulse shadow morning glory are born'

I write these words before I start to wind the dress, before the pauses in which my hands follow my eyes to scraps of lace stockings and gloves, and yet when I have wound the mushrooms stem dress and look, I see the leaves dancing behind the mushrooms and the daisy silhouettes above are as myriad suns in the miniature world of fey. 
What are these pathway patterns of serendipity i have tranced in skipping steps today? It seems they might be in their call of meaningful mystery a story of our belonging, of the act of merely glimpsing which nourishes our connectivity. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

reflections on the creation of festivals

Our life as a family is held in an intricate web of festivals - moments created especially for expressing our gratitude in life.

As a child I grew up with beautiful festivals, my mother took those loosely Christian and Pagan times celebrated within the Waldorf Steiner school year and bathed them in reverence for all the elemental beings. She wove the filigree mystery of gnome and fairy into mossy indoor gardens, advent calendars with back lit tissue paper caves that our small careful fingers could reach into finding stitched bearded beings, and Midsummer fairy houses made in the garden or woods in which we would leave tiny offerings. Thereby as a child my festivals, my celebrations of life, were moments of deep connection and dreamy reverence with all life's beings.

When I married I learnt about the Jewish festivals, and when my children were born I found ways of weaving the same delicate magic of earth, water, wind and fire, of honour for the life beings of flowers and stone into the moments offered by this new structure. We also celebrate certain of Granny's festivals at her house, and in this meshing of festival forms my children have, without instruction, developed a sense of the vital essence which seems to run through every type of festival when it is nurtured.

But oh the nurturing! The creation and holding of the festival space may be one of the best things I do as a mummy, but it is also one of the hardest. There is always a point at which I resent the festival, and really wholeheartedly almost wish I didn't have to do it - and here is the rub, the having to is of my own creation and the why and wherefore is an etherial wisp that escapes logic's microscope. When my children were little I once read a chapter entitled 'a tired mother's impressions of martinmas' by Bons Voors in a book called Lifeways. That chapter brought such a sense of relief, of 'phewww it is like this for other mothers'... this feeling of the weight of effort of making beautiful, of extra fuss, of special foods, of coming up with gifts, and somehow of still having the capacity to find the mysterious tone of each festival, of finding it and holding it, of cradling the space in it.

This week in our house was all about Rosh Hashanah, but it was also about mummy recovering as I had been ill over the weekend and I was still fragile. It is so often the case that there is something extra to get over in the preperation of a festival and perhaps it is just that life's struggles are brought to notice by the fact that festivals can't wait till a more convenient time.  So all those last minute helps for the girl's unfinished presents got squashed into those hours when I was strong enough and into some where I just lay next to them and tried to encourage but sometimes unfortunately also sighed and grumped. On monday afternoon my bed was like a little boat carrying me and my too girls and my laptop (for the last minute late shopping for very important snazzy converse for my eldest) and thankfully lots of giggles with our sorting out.

On Tuesday morning, still a little shaky on my legs I made one corner of our living room special, I cut fresh garden flowers, a wild muddle of lavender, roses, fennel seed and yellow dandelionish weeds and as i wiped the windowsill i spied the pattern of a little being left by collected sticky hollyhock petals. When the girls came they each exclaimed at the beginnings I'd made and the windowsill fairy who had come to join us, and now inspired set to helping and creating our festival space and atmosphere.

The most beautiful part of our Rosh Hashana was for me the extraordinary absolute excitment that aged 10 and 14 my daughters have in giving and recieving their handmade, carefully thought up gifts.

My gift from my youngest is a autumn bag with the word love embroidered across it, a leave card written with gold and young cobnuts inside. To me this small bag is a testament to the breathing flow between all that grows and changes outside in nature and all that grows and changes inside us.

My gift from my eldest is a little square of paper, a present voucher, for the cd that she hasn't quite made me yet. In her knowledge that this is ok, in the freedom of her trust that this little bit of paper promise will be enough, there is wrapped for me an extraordinary gift - a gift that envelopes her knowing that I recognise all the creative energy that she put into her present for daddy and her sister, a gift that reflects all the creation of festivals that I have done for and then with her in her life, a gift that says because we have nurtured that etherial wisp of festival essence and are richly bathed in it, wherever we get to in the materialisation of the festival will always be enough.