Saturday, 19 October 2013

The gift of a dancing changeling

Last weak I opened the door to find a friend holding three soft cardigans of beautiful colours for my sewing, she didn't have time to stay for tea but she had made time to bring me a smile making moment and a gorgeous combination of pale green blue, lila and purply pink. 

A few days later I was gathering these lambswool and cashmeres together with my spring green skin silk to take with to sew while my daughters had their ballet lessons. A fair amount of my sewing happens in this way and today I felt someone might come to clothe themselves in these colours. My younger daughter came in to hurry me along, and in my jumble of cloth she saw the cut off foot of a pair of green and blue striped tights...'mummy you must make someone wearing tights from my tights!' so that scrap went into my bag too. 

Unknowing who was coming my hands began to sew, but as soon as she asked for her beautiful complex five plaited hair style I knew she was a changeling - a child of fey nature, perhaps a fairy babe place into human care. These beings take longer to come because their bodies and their clothes are separate, but their play value is heightened by the possibility of changing dress and thereby moving between realms of fairyland and dollhouse roles. By the time my girls had finished their dancing, this small one was here enough to snuggle into the soft coloured wools on the way home, yet she still had no clothes of her own. 

Unpacking my bag later in the day I found the scrap of blue and green striped tights, and in musing held it round her body, and there in that moment up went her little green leg into the most natural grand battement, and in that grace I recognised her with a gentle sense of ahh of course. I also recognised her joy in her cloth carried inheritance. 
These green and blue tights, that my girl had worn until they got holes in the toes had come in a large bag of clothes from the same house as those pastel cardigans, a house in which two nearly grown up amazing dancing girls live. 
This sweet-hearted changeling had begun to emerge in the atmospheric mix of those soft wool colours and had become certain in her being with the scrap of tights from the same dancing house, and all this on my daughters' dance class day. 
So i stitched some tiny tights, and then a little soft blue green dress, which wasn't quite right yet, but would keep her warm while we meandered through the other part of her endowment.

This time of year the fairy folk are close, they rise in mist and tap at windows, their tree truck doorways creak in the damp, they dance by moonlight, and the cheeky or slightly vexed might even play a trick or two, just to remind an inattentive human. This small wee girl is swayed and tempted by whispers in the wind, she sometimes feels light footed enough to fly. 

onto translucent silk skip a community of otherworldly dancers, they float onto a parasol, 

 and hold the air to lift her as she pirouettes or walks a tightrope in the dusky sky. 
And then 
one brave little one full of love merges herself all pinks and lilac into the little blue dancing dress, and they dance and they dance
and they dance, a little more wildly with more exuberant playfulness than the little girl would in her ballet leotard.

I tried to make some tiny slippers, from various materials, but each time they looked so clumsy in comparison to the grace of her pale green toes. In the attempting of detail however, I had borrowed one of my girls' ballet shoes and after a while of kicking off my efforts this missy grew tired and slipped into the peach slipper to sleep .. Ooohhhh I see, in fairyland shoes are a beddy-boat, for dreaming not for wearing! 

But I could not keep that borrowed shoe, 
and so I knew not what to do,
Until I remembered something from before
a bag of dressing up clothes too small, now hidden behind the playroom door
and right at the bottom
now forgotten
one single little shoe
which had once come as a gift, yes you know from who.
asleep in her beddy-boat, which might dance in the night, lifted high by a fairy canopy and guided by the flight of a silver rainbow butterfly 

where might she sail to she wonders, what treasures gather in her pillow bag with her other clothes

what name may adorn the heart of her lucky shoe boat
where might she come ashore, to dance with friends
to play and to dream

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The eery and Halloween

Walking up the garden path, before having reached the front door, he is already asking his Mama if he can have another look. And so they ask Granny if they can please see it again.

Without intruding I watch them looking, the mingling of fascination, care for the delicate untouchable bones, and something else, which I sense in tiny ways that I cannot exactly explain - the push and pull of death within the nervous system, the small uneasy thrill of facing something in nature which causes an instinctive recoil within.

My daughters were also there and after this four year old and his two year old brother had looked their fill, I asked my girls if they wanted to see. My eldest was enthralled by the aesthetic of the finely positioned bones, but my youngest wouldn't look at all, she knows dead creatures, even flies, make her feel funny inside.

Reflecting on all this later I wonder at the differing ways in which children respond to encounters with nature's creatures and processes that give them goosebumps, how differently their nerves are strung. I also come to question the ways in which the disassociation which causes some children to remove wings from living insects or squash frogs might creep in. It seems to me, instinctively, that the opportunity for experiences such as these two little boys had - in which respect for the unsettling in nature is nurtured and held in emotional security thereby offering permission for the long probing looking of curiosity-  are invaluable to the healthy integration of fascination, emotional thrill seeking, repulsion, respect and empathy in our bodily responses to such encounters.

Halloween is a time which gives itself to this kind of experience. It is when the eery of otherworldliness seems ever so tangible. Simply being in the garden at twilight in these last October evenings permeates the senses with mist, moist, dank, shadows, elements of shady creeping half there beings, that may well overthrow our sense of self. 

For me this festival has always sat in partnership with that of midsummer. While midsummer brings a feeling of the etherial lightness of fairies blessings in summers petals and butterflies, this festival offers a more uneasy awe, a reminding to be mindful of those who's contentment is tied with the wellbeing of trees and stone and waterways. There was a time when fairies and sprites, elves and gnomes, did not exist for us in the pink, sparkly, abstract cutesy way so prevalent today. There was a time when their impish tricks were to be watched for, when entering their realm perhaps through a fairy ring of mushrooms, was as risky as it was potentially pleasurable. When carelessly crossing a being from these worlds that merge in the periphery of our own, would result in the kind of unluckiness that was to be feared. 

Through the stitches I make in my honouring of children's playful interactions with elemental beings I feel it is vital to openly recognise these more unsettling forms of otherworldliness and those children who seek out the testing uncertainty of such encounters. This tempestuous wee man was inspired by the rat's skeleton, I have a feeling by the magical staff which he carries that he may be a guardian of clear water.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


A deep and light kindness shines from the face of the gnome who nurtures the soul of butterflies.

Into the warm blue of his enveloping coat float the wings of those who have flown their life amongst the sun bright petals, the dust of these danced in bodies settles onto the purply hue resting, waiting to become anew 

Cradled in that same gentle warmth caterpillars dream of their becoming. They listen to the wordless stories that flow through this gnome of metamorphosis. The caterpillars' imaginal potential is touched by the patterning poetry mingling through the mesh of their cocoons.

The gnome's heart imparts the story of rebirth

From the folds of his mind a butterfly unfolds into being, carrying the memories of breaths of flowers

continuing the journey of life's self creation