Sunday, 31 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

                                                                                   
Unfurling

Up until the early hours following threads and finding much inspiration, excitement, and the rejuvenation of previously quietly slumbering hopes.

Discovering that Christian Animism is a thing...so, so interesting, challenging, inspiring, thought-provoking, and generally happy-making. It moves me that so many of us, on so many diverse paths, are beginning to come to similar conclusions about the connections between all beings. I look forward to the learning and the good company. We are becoming the river beneath the river and that is beautiful. 

Letting myself sleep, and sleep, and sleep.

Clearing much clutter from my overloaded head by leaving lots of online groups, even some that I liked. I am determined to make a better commitment to myself this year. It was interesting to step back from myself and watch which groups I stayed in and which I left. There were signs of a definite shift in attachment to various threads of my spiritual path, for example, and also much letting go of old patterns and being a nosy parker generally. It feels good and much clearer already.

The opening of the beautiful Hedgetemple Facebook group. I feel very shiny about that and it was wonderful to have so much support and brightness from the people there. My 'giant positivity engine' is switched firmly on!

Having a hot bath and experiencing an epiphany about the way that I manage my time. You know when you 'know' something in your head but then it moves into your body so that you really 'KNOW' it? That.

Finding myself able to sit and listen to challenging words and understand that they came from a place of deep love.

Having lots of lovely Imbolc tarot readings to do, plus a Lammas one for someone in Australia (love the energetic weaving of that!), and a few that I have still to catch up with. Feeling blessed by my work.

Hearing that my friend and her family have been to visit St Blaise Well after I visited the other day. I love that completely!

The tenderness of tears.

A bird singing clearly and beautifully into the dark.

And that it is now Imbolc; a favourite time of year for me, so blessed with brightness and fierce grace. I wish many blessings to us all as we listen quietly to what is stirring in the belly of the year.


Friday, 29 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

The first flowerings of cow parsley

Staying awake into the early morning full of hopes and plans for the future. I am all fired up, rising like Bridie's Imbolc snake into the newness of things!

The lovely newsagents near my house being available for the offering of much needed and delicious coffee when I had to leave home early. It is so close that I can just tumble, or crawl, in the door.

A crescent moon of crocuses.

Listening to Spock's Beard, and how music is so interwoven with memories; tender thoughts of last summer.

Gatherings of delicate Common Gulls and Canada Geese wandering on the Heath.

Handing in some much-overdue reports, feeling the relief and the expansion of possibility in my life now that they're done.

A warm, friendly, and nourishing meeting with work colleagues and the possibility of new adventures with tiny people ahead.

Visiting St Blaise Well; pleased at making a plan to seek it out earlier in the week and making it come true, moved by being in the presence of sacred waters, visions of surrounding the well with white roses, the good company of yew trees, snowberries, periwinkles, daffodils, corkscrew hazel, lungwort, and the first flowerings of cow parsley.

Snowberries

St Blaise Holy Well, of which more soon.

Finding newly grown daffodil leaves, which had pushed through the soil with such determination to be born into the light that they were covered in dirt. I love it when primroses do that too, as though they have to really struggle to emerge; an inspiration and a perfect symbol of what Imbolc means to me.

Determined to break through and grow ~ one of my favourite reminders of what Imbolc means.

A crow calling.

Speaking sacred words of commitment to myself to the well and being blessed by a wild wind that blew a great spray of water into my face! I feel that I have been heard.

A little girl, who can't have been more than two years old, running along the road dressed as a tiny Victorian nurse. She had the hat and the cape and was for all the world like a cross between a superhero and an angel. Completely delightful.

Lovely finds in my local charity shop..a beautiful blue silk dress, a long winter skirt, a fluffy waistcoat, and the most beautiful dusky pink scarf shot through with silver thread; making myself new.

The most delicious and much-anticipated omelette in my favourite greasy spoon cafe, eaten whilst reading Terry Pratchett's 'Wintersmith'. Perfect.

A box of the tiniest and most delicious clementines imaginable.

Feeling how Himself and I make each other braver and freer and wilder; just as it should be.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

A lovely long waking up in a warm and cosy bed.

The sound of the wind outside.

A mysterious envelope received in the post that had a little packet of bees' wax in it. Lovely.

Two squirrels chasing wildly along the top of a garden fence.

Walking to school along the 'street of cats'. I have never seen a road with more cats in it, which naturally I find marvellous.

Sweet messages written to 'Amy, the Small Beauties Bee' at school today. Often, the children will tell me nothing but they will tell our bee and then they don't mind if I read what they've written later. Definite bee magic.

Amy, the Small Beauties Bee

Having a play with a proper drum kit. There are so few opportunities in life to make any noise so I took this one gladly. Bang!

Home to find a lovely thank you note for Yule presents from a dear friend and her daughter. It gave me a warm feeling through and through. Proper.

Letting myself rest rather than do, even though there is much to be done.

A deep conversation about friendship and change and how Himself says the loveliest of things and always catches me off my guard in the best of ways.

Immersing myself in beautiful writings on Imbolc and Candlemas.

Discovering that there is a sacred spring/holy well not too far away dedicated to St Blaise, patron saint of wool carders, and making plans to visit.

Good conversation with, and help offered by, a fine boating fellow whose acquaintance I have just made. Almost every day I am reminded of the kindness and good heartedness of people.

The sound of the rain outside. My ears have been blessed today.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

The first sign of crocuses flowering on the Green; tiny petals of white and purple appearing like little dancers.

Speaking to a university student about an oral history project she is doing on women who love Goddess ~ any excuse to talk about my great and neverending love for She~Who~Is.

Three acrobatic green parakeets hanging from the bird feeders at school, watched by two affronted woodpigeons.

Fabulousness in the hospice charity shop, which I hardly ever visit; a lovely fabric rucksack, a shiny raincoat, and a wheely suitcase. I feel well set up for adventuring now. What a haul!

Vulnerable, truthful, and brave sharings on my piece of writing about my encounter with the bumblebee Queen, which stirred up deeper thoughts in me about the meaning of our meetings with other beings on the painful edges of life.

Himself's deep wisdom calling me back to myself time and time again. I am blessed to share my life with a man whose every breath and heartbeat is dedicated to the Mother of All. 

Waking to a lovely message, which once more affirmed the power and beauty of the threads of connection that we weave, and which contained a generous, exciting, and much appreciated, offer. People are lovely!

A man bravely telling me in the Old Ladies' Card Shop that he finds it hard to buy cards at Christmas because he is a Pagan, to which I replied, "And you can't get cards for Imbolc at all!", which he had not been expecting and almost made him fall over in the loveliest of ways. Ha!

A sweet man coming into the shop and choosing birthday presents for his partner with the greatest care and tenderness, and a little sprinkling of glittery hope that she will be pleased. Completely lovely and I told him so.

The loveliest smile from a little girl.

A woman coming into the shop with a piece of research she has done on its history. It was built in 1885, has always been a 'posh stationers', and has only ever been owned by three families in all that time!

A lovely late Yule gift of a rosebud and wild barley printed Victorian teacup, filled with the palest of white candle wax, and side plates. They date from 1890 so are not only beautiful but I think about all the souls that have touched them and the lives that they lived. 

A man in the newsagents talking in impassioned tones about his pitbulls, how much he loves them, how gentle they are, and how people so often don't look after them well. His eyes were positively shining with love. I said, "Pitbulls are lovely, like Staffies" and he almost floated off the floor.

That my little newsagents is now selling takeaway coffee, which is yummy and gives me an excuse to go in and support them. Community shininess.

The first signs of lustrous bluebell leaves in the garden.

My tarot readings being recommended by another tarot reader; kind and affirming.

Understanding why I needed to go through the feelings I did with the bumblebee Queen, as I got two messages today that could have sent me into a tailspin but I was already so deeply in the energy of acceptance and letting go that I was able to just go with the flow of it. Thank you to the Queen. It is beautiful how Life lays out the invitation of a gentle path before us if we have the eyes to see it.

Himself shining quietly about getting things done at home which have been nagging at him for ages. I am proud of him.

Learning how beautiful earwigs are when they fly, and yet they hardly ever do; who knew!? And they are wonderful and attentive mothers. Newly-born earwig love has been achieved.

And gentle tales of chalk streams and winter-born rivers.

Today has been all about the beauty of people (and earwigs). It has been lovely.


Monday, 25 January 2016

About a Bee and Finding Beauty in the Not Beautiful

Today's small beauty is about a bee, and about finding beauty in the not beautiful. I am dedicating all of today's beauties to her. She has taught me a lot and the lessons are still settling. And she had a life that was bright and new.

On Monday's I go to a school by a little river; often I see a heron there and we stand quietly together in good company. Lately there have been increasing numbers of moorhens, running wildly across the grass when I come near. Today, there was a bumblebee. I saw her as soon as I walked into the school playground. No doubt having just woken up from her winter sleep on a warm January day, she had landed where many small feet were running carelessly by. I knew that she would be trodden on and that it would be best to move her to somewhere safer. Just as I saw her some of the children saw her too. Several screamed and were afraid of being stung. I explained that she wouldn't sting us and that it would be good for her not to be where she was. We scooped her gently up on some paper and one small boy, very gently and with great concentration, took her to the school's 'quiet garden' where he placed her on their bug hotel.

By then I was surrounded by small girls who were both fascinated and frightened by the shiny new Queen Bee so we spent some time talking about what she was doing and why it would be best to leave her alone. There was much discussion of the life-cycle of bumblebees, and some continued screaming, whilst the bee continued her business of waking and sunning her wings. I hoped to leave her safely there but it was not to be. The girls wanted to 'look after' her, as children will, and collected grass for her to eat and to make her a house. They named her Bella. It was a sweet thing but they were only seven years old and couldn't really understand that she was vulnerable and needed peace. They wanted to hold her, which I asked them not to do, and made her a house without too much care for her small body. At one point she sat on my hand and it was as though I could feel her tiny heart beating, could see the stardust on her translucent wings. But I had to go.
I was late for a meeting and so I suggested that we placed her in some dead leaves by the bug hotel so that she would be warm and sheltered from the rain that was threatening to fall. The Queen was having none of it and began to climb up the bug hotel, at one point almost falling foul of a rather beautiful spider. There was more screaming. I explained that spiders have to live too and that this is nature in all her wonder. Then the girls saw some worms on the ground and screamed some more. I explained about worms and all that they do for us, that we have 25 native species in the British Isles and during the autumn they do the work of recycling the fallen leaves of the 1000 million deciduous trees,which is why Aristotle called them the 'intestines of the soil'. Without them we would be drowning in rotting leaves. I have a lot of love for earthworms. In the end I had to go. The Queen seemed safe and I asked the girls not to touch her. I hoped for the best for her small and new life.
Later another child and I went into the garden on our own to look for flowers. When I walked over to the bug hotel I saw the Queen tangled in cobwebs and stuck to a stick, which perhaps the girls had used to try to rescue her from the web. I very gently removed what I could and then left her tucked away where she would be able to free herself or die in peace.

The story of the Queen has effected me deeply and touched upon old grief and new tears. Part of me wishes that when I found her I had taken her out of the playground and put her safely elsewhere, but I hope that the children learned something from being in her presence. I hope that what happened today was her true dreaming and why she was there and that we all played our parts in her story well. I wish that the ending had been otherwise. She was new and bright as a sunbeam and had the right to hope for more, and yet not all lives are meant to be lived as we might imagine and some beings have other journeys to make. I'm not sure what my lessons from today are yet, acceptance is one, letting go, the intimacy that we can share with other species, how woven in we all are to each other's lives, how one decision can change everything. There will be more but, for now, I thank her and honour her for her presence and for her wild wisdom. 

I am reminded that Dave Goulson, who wrote the wonderful book on bees 'ASting in the Tale', founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and who has dedicated his life to spreading knowledge of, and love for, bees, began his bee-loving career when, as a small child, he found some bumblebees who were wet from the rain and very carefully tried to dry them on an aga, which led to an equally sad end. A friend told me that, when she too was very small, she collected some bees in a jar and put them in her shed to keep. She was horrified when she later found them dead, and regrets it to this day, but now as an artist she creates much love for nature and encourages all children, and adults, to rescue bees, worms, and spiders when they need help. Another told me a story of her friend's autistic son accidentally standing on a baby bird, not understanding what that meant and so being very carefully taught about empathy and caring for the small, wild things of life. He went on to study biology at university and now uses his special skills to work with environments, saving countless lives. Another that the light of empathy was switched on in a group of small boys when they were discussing whether they should torture a frog they had found ~ they decided not to, freed the frog, and the light never went out. I am sure that I remember many moments of being equally careless of the lives of small things when I was little and yet now I have become a person who once stopped a bus full of people because a frog was struggling to get up the curb and who cries over the life of a small bumblebee who woke up from her winter sleep too soon. Sometimes the deepest awareness, the greatest weaving of connection, and the wildest devotion to what matters comes from painful and yet seemingly insignificant moments. And that is beautiful.

This is a sad tale but some days finding small beauties in deep sadness and in the not beautiful is what we must do and I hope that from the life of the Queen much magic and care for nature will grow in the small hearts that she touched, just as she touched mine. I will remember her.





Sunday, 24 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

A long, lovely, and much needed, sleep.

Waking with sunshine shining through the window and spending some time talking with She~Who~Is. My favourite way to start the day and I don't always allow myself the time, or I try and fall back to sleep. Today, I basked in the connection.

Spending the first part of the morning listening to Sami yoik and thinking about where I might like to go and sing my own songs to the land.

A hot bath with eucalyptus and rosemary salt; bliss and more sweet connection through silence and solitude.

Opening my eyes and seeing a flash of green as a parakeet flew past the window in a vibrant blur.

Spending part of the day planning out the week to come in my daybook; I am considering that to be an act of optimism and I did notice when I got up that I had a not-felt-for-many-moons sense that I might get things done at last. This is what love does; somehow I have become more real, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

Thinking deeply and pleasingly about hedgerows.

Managing to finish my tax return, and that, when it gave me the incredibly long submission reference, part of it spelled 'fen'. I so love fens and I am taking that as a good sign and a blessing on my work ~ and it made me smile.

The 'Kin Fables' trilogy; a dream of landscape and crow feathers.


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

Up before dawn, which I love but so rarely do; watching the horizon turn pale pink as the sun rose, liquid-silver dew glistening on the lush green grass, the peace of moving through the world when most people were asleep ~ even Stefi cat and the baby fish refused to stir!

The silhouette of a single gull against the almost-sunrise.

My lovely taxi driver carrying my bags into the train station for me.

Hot chai on a cold train platform. I love these contrasts of temperature. Extra delicious in every sense.

Watching ethereal mist settling in little valleys and rolling across open winter fields. Just stunning. And when the sun broke through it was breathtaking.

A male pheasant standing in his most stately pose in a wide open field. I loved the outline of his beautiful shape with his long tail.

Travelling on the train through a beautifully landscape of marshland; mirror-still water with geese quietly gliding on the surface without seeming to create a ripple, and all lit by the beginnings of the sunny day.

Crossing the river at low tide; more reflections of honey-hued sunlight, the dark richness of the mudbanks, houseboats reminding me of the beauty of life on the water. And the excitement of feeling that I might see a heron, even though I didn't!

Florence and the Machine at full volume. That's what the water gave me!

The moment when Himself rang me and I heard his voice for the first time today; always the loveliest of moments.

The Crossbones vigil; many hugs, lots of congratulations and admiring of my engagement ring, much conspiring to drink tea and catch up, the full moon shining bright and high above the Shard, making a special prayer of gratitude and hope to The Goose, the sharing of strawberries, satsumas, and rum amongst us all, Ruth and Ruby's wonderful lilac candle, and two rousing singalongs to David Bowie songs. Deep friendship and beautiful community. As lovely as ever it was.

Meeting a Facebook friend's friend at the gates; again a beautiful thread of connection woven and this thread goes all the way to Australia and back!

Two gifts at the Crossbones gates; a Crossbones calendar, made by the lovely Doug, and the most beautiful, cosy, and perfectly made Blodeuwedd knitted hat from my extremely talented friend, Birgit, whose birthday it was today. It is deep red wine coloured and secret owls and leaves are woven into the design. I may wear it to bed! Thank you so much to Doug and Birgit.

Sweet rain.

Learning the word 'selenology', which means 'the scientific study of the moon'. That is from a goddess name, that is!

And Sister Moon radiant in the sky; the scars on her surface reminding me that she has seen, and understands, all my long journeys and her light reminding me to shine, shine, shine.


Friday, 22 January 2016

Three Days of Small Beauties

Clear blue skies, sunshine, and wildly optimistic birdsong melting into a pink misty haze as sunset approached.

An afternoon spent mainly playing football with small boys and moving across the pitch with the sun so that I could turn my face and feel the warmth. Beautiful to follow the light.

The smallest boy playing football with another one twice his size and reminding me of a feisty little robin. He wasn't giving up!

A profusion of tiny rosehips tumbling over a garden fence.

A kind man working at the station who let me through the barriers even though they were closed and saved me from missing my train.

Loving arms and a soft and tickly beard.

Orion, the Winter King, shining in the sky directly below the beautiful almost~full moon.

Watching every episode of 'Spaced' with Himself and loving every moment. Generally having a Simon Pegg and Nick Frost lovefest.

All the new baby fish settling down for the night. I didn't realise that fish slept until recently but they all cuddle up together in the corner of the tank and become deeply zen.

Our Yule wreath of pine and rosehips hanging from the garden cherry tree; a reminder of the sweetest of times every time I look outside.

Seeing the silhouettes of people walking their dog in the sunshine right on top of the chalk hills and imagining how it must feel to be up there so close to the sky.

Stefi, Queen of Cats, purring on my lap.

Looking out of the window to see that the sea mist had rolled in casting an otherworldly light over the hilltop; we watched it change from turtle dove~ silver, to pale saffron, to violet.

That wonderful artist, Jaine Rose has created a 'small beauties journal' inspired by these posts. Lovely to see the small beauties magic spreading. You can see it here.

Night walking ~ the sweet feeling of the cold night air, Himself teaching me how to protect my night vision from the glare of car headlights, and he always walks on the outside of the pavement like a proper old-fashioned gentleman.

The taste of Lapsang Souchong tea; like winter firesmoke.

And opening the front door to see the even~more~almost~full moon shining directly along the garden path turning it silver.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Today's Small Beauties

Cosy Old Ladies' Card Shop time; lovely customers, a journalist who is writing an article about Merriel coming in to take photos, gazing out at the beautiful winter's day, daffodils dancing on the Green, and much time for contemplation.

Being told the tale of when Merriel was threatened by a man with a knife in the shop and saw him off by throwing soft toys at him. And THAT is South London feistiness!

A woman in the shop, whose birthday it was, singing "happy birthday to your mummy!!!" to her baby, who was singing back in baby language.

The sweet small of Narcissus drifting through the shop from some flowers that were left on the door for Merriel's funeral last week. There were some beautiful white and red roses for her too.




Lichen on the trees made bright by the sun.

The shock of bright red poppies growing on the roadside ~ so tiny and delicate but such a punch from the colour on a winter's day of pale light.

A man in the bank's lovely coat; like a big, soft corduroy dressing gown. I could imagine Oscar Wilde wearing it.

The promise of a winter wedding. A HUGE and exciting small beauty!

Hot water on cold, cold skin.

And my fake fur bed cover; beyond joyously cosy and something to sink into gratefully on long, cold nights.


Monday, 18 January 2016

Days of Small Beauties

Jackdaws flying circles around a half-moon high in a pale blue sky.

A sunbeam lighting a patch of hedgerow like dripping honey.

A long winter walk with Himself along roads that we have only ever travelled together in his van before. I love the different sense of distance that comes with walking and loved the new perspective that came from seeing familiar sights for the first time on foot. And it was lovely to walk with him.

The least badgery-looking badger squeaky dog toy that I could ever imagine in the local pet shop...and it made a noise like a duck!

The warmth and snuggliness of brushed cotton sheets.

Finally getting my hands on Dominick Tyler's wondrously word-weaving book 'Uncommon Ground', which is filled with colloquial words describing our beautiful land. So far my favourite is cow-belly, which describes the fine silt that gathers on a riverbed. Sigh.

Days of love, laughter, tea drinking, and wild and tender hopes for the future.

A gathering of tiny golden fungi in the grass.

An invitation to take part in a study of 'women who have journeyed with the Goddess'. Affirming.

Stefi, Queen of Cats, purring on my lap, sitting on my head in bed, forcing her way under the covers and demanding fuss, dribbling on my face, and generally wrapping me round her paw. I loved every minute of it!

Two foxes screeching in the garden, one with the most beautiful bright-white tail tip.

Getting up before sunrise and seeing the almost translucent pale winter sun rising above wide green fields from the train I was travelling on.

My first sight of frost this year, and then ice! I love the dance of winter across the land, making everything sparkle like stars fallen to earth. Such beauty!

A man on the DLR; the gentlest of angel-souls, wearing a pink and green knitted hat, sniffing a tiny purple flower that he held in his hand with such bliss on his face, sipping sage tea from a jam jar, and looking at the world with benign fascination. Beautiful.

A hot bath with rose-scented salts after a cold day.

A deepening connection to the Spirit Mothers of this land and to She~Who~Is; shedding layers to come to deeper and wilder understandings beneath. Loving the journey.

School today; several hugs, much welcoming back after New Year, and arriving just as the smallest children were enjoying a rousing singalong to 'Let It Go' from 'Frozen'. Truly it was the most joyous thing ever! They knew all the words and sang in that half shouting/half singing way that only small children really can. Naturally I had to join in, and everyone else who came near them did too. Beautifully, wildly, marvellously, infectious.

The wonderful sight of moorhens running on grass. Thinking about it, they remind me a bit of Groucho Marx. Happy-making.

Reading about 'wassailing the bees'.

And a stunning winter sky of bright silver, steel grey, and pale gold melting into a sunset of violet and deep salmon pink. I am still blissed out by, and in awe of, the winter light.