Secret ways whereon armies cannot march …

THE EPIC TALE OF THE FUGITIVE STAG IS A CELTIC ADVENTURE, A SHAMANIC QUEST … AND I HOPE, A SMALL CONTRIBUTION TO OUR NATIVE ‘TORCHES OF BEAUTY’ WHOSE FLAME NOW BURNS, NOT ABOVE THE GLOOM OF THE GRAVE, BUT BRIGHTLY AT THE HEART OF THE ALCHEMICAL MYSTERY OF RE-BIRTH.

IN ‘THE DISCOVERY OF THE CELT’, Holbrook Jackson recognized Yeats as ‘the chief figure of the Celtic Renaissance … the fullest expression of the intellectual Celt – poet, mystic, and patriot – expressing himself in an imaginative propaganda which has affected the thoughts and won the appreciation of the English-speaking world.’   To convey the dominant mood of 1890s ‘Celticism’, however, Jackson placed at the head of his chapter a quotation from Fiona Macleod which reads in part:

“Through ages of slow westering, till now we face the sundown seas, we have learned in continual vicissitude that there are secret ways whereon armies cannot march. And this has been given to us, a more ardent longing, a more rapt passion in the things of outward beauty and in the things of spiritual beauty. Nor it seems to me is there any sadness, or only the serene sadness of a great day’s end, that, to others, we reveal in our best the genius of a race whose farewell is in a tragic lighting of torches of beauty around its grave.”   Pushed to the fringes of Europe, the Celtic race has, nonetheless, produced artists, like Yeats and Fiona herself, whose torches of beauty light the ritual burial scene and preserve the Celtic flame.

Fiona Macleod 1855-1905
Goddess by Jake Baddeley

And my goddess? My credo?She is dark …

Many of my robed brothers in cloisters
to the south dwell beneath
 the shade of bay trees.
I see how their Madonnas
 look so utterly human,
 And dream of Titan’s paintings,
how God glows in them like embers.
 
But when I settle into my own soul
I know my God is dark
 and like a clump of a hundred roots
drinking silently.
I lift myself from His warmth;
more than this I don’t know,
 for my branches rest in the depths and
 sway gently in the winds.
 
(Rilke)
Yakushima, one of Japan’s southernmost islands before the Okinawa archipelago, has been settled since the Jomon period (14,000-300 B.C.). Today, much of the island, whose inland is thickly wooded, is protected by Unesco, its forests undisturbed by commercial activity.Credit…Chrystel Lebas

Breath, breathe, breathing

YOU WHO LET YOURSELVES FEEL: ENTER THE BREATHING THAT IS MORE THAN YOUR OWN … COMPLETE INTERCHANGE OF YOUR OWN ESSENCE WITH WORLD-SPACE … HOW MANY REGIONS IN SPACE HAVE ALREADY BEEN INSIDE ME. THERE ARE WINDS THAT SEEM LIKE MY WANDERING SON – Rilke

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cold-comfort-can-the-wim-hof-method-combat-covid-he-thinks-so-5mmh8ks56

Dutch born Wim Hoff 1959
Prague born Rainer Maria Rilke 1875-1926

While Beauty stares into its depths …

Aghaza plays host to her guests,
She roasts a ram over the flames.
They are drinking to courage,
To each others’ respect
For the rites of host and guest,
To comradeship, brotherhood, sisterhood.
When you see them together
You can’t have enough of gazing;
Yet something dark appears
Filling your sight,
Dense, black in colour,
As the words of the poet.
It shrouds it like an enchantment,
No weapon can pierce it,
No prayer can charm it away,
Nor any hand remove it.
Only the river’s noise is heard,
Raging downwards, roaring,
While beauty stares into its depths
Her neck bent, gracefully …
From Host and Guest (1893) XIV By Vazha-Pshavela
(Luka P. Razikashvili) 
Vazha-Pshavela 1861-1915

LOOK-OUTWARDS 2021! STAY STRONG. STAY TOGETHER. LOCK-TIGHT.

LOCKDOWN 2020! It should now be LOOK-OUTWARDS 2021

A “lock-down” was originally canal terminology from 19th century America. It refers to a strip of wood or a peg that secured the poles of a barge or raft together when timber was transported by river.

Lockdown: a fastening mechanism that ensured reliable travel in the ‘Great Outdoors.

But ‘lock’ can also mean the space enclosed by such a mechanism, which is why a lock in modern English is also a barrier in a canal.

So, you can ‘lock in’ a person in a room. But a lock-up can also mean the room or even the door itself. Many people now have ‘lock-ups’ to store stuff.

But in 1975 the word lockdown” was used for inmates of prison or psychiatric hospitals to keep them in enforced isolation for security issues. Gradually, it became the term used for any period of enforced isolation.

In this current Covid19 crisis, I don’t know who first decided to use the term LOCKDOWN, but our government went along with it.

A word that refers to standard prison or psychiatric protocol is being used to control the behaviour and movement of British citizens.

I am not a prisoner and I am not a psychiatric patient.

But 100s of 1000s of people, of all ages, are beginning to feel – and act – as if they are ‘prisoners.’ Many are beginning to struggle with emotional and psychological conditions that they never imagined would impinge on their lives. Many with existing emotional and mental challenges are ‘in despair.’

The word ‘LOCKDOWN’ was a shock which many of us coped with by laughing, or joking and even boasting about it “We are in lockdown, you know,” as if it was some kind of adventure holiday.  

Support our NHS workers? Absolutely. But that ‘shame-on-you-if-you-don’t-join-in’ the Thursday night ‘clap-at-eight’ ritual, served only to magnify the ‘we-are-prisoners’ mentality. Who dreamt that one up? Prisoners! Yes. But a different category of ‘prisoners.’ A different kind of ‘solitary confinement.’ A different kind of isolation, with which most of our leaders (political, religious, cultural) have little or no idea how to help us.

Winter will soon be here. Then Christmas. A ‘Happy’ New Year. Spring and Easter.

2021: most of us will not be travelling down a river in a raft or enjoying a trip on a canal, but we live in the middle of a ‘Great Outdoors’ in our country.

LOCK-DOWN? Enough is enough!

LOOK-OUTWARDS instead.

We have Fields, Beaches, Nature Trails, Wide-Open Public Spaces aplenty here in Wales. We have a wide array of talented people to supervise and monitor a host of activities. Here in Wales the iconic space in Cardiff Bay could have been a shop-window for positive ways on how to handle Covid19. But what happened? Night after night of negative reporting, criticising a handful of irresponsible young people.  We can do better.

Keep Britain barricaded? Prisoners to our own individual and mental ‘dark, satanic mills?’ Or get together with your neighbours and creatively come up with a raft of measures to celebrate the gift of ‘Looking-Outdoors.

LOOK-OUTWARDS! STAY STRONG. STAY TOGETHER. LOCK-TIGHT.