Monday, 31 December 2012

The end of the world, it happened after all

On this last day of 2012 I was told that my boy Jackson is dying. What I thought was a wound on his chin that wouldn't heal turns out to be a tumour.  Inoperable. We're trying steroids to reduce the swelling and make him more comfortable. I'll be watching him, keeping him clean and safe, loving him. And once again I'll be checking each day to see if this is The Day. In my heart that day is a long time away but in my mind - and the vet's - it's not.

Jackson is the last survivor of my first family. Casey passed in April 2011, sweet Nellie just six months later. I always knew these three amigos would leave my life as closely as they'd entered it. I didn't know it would feel as if they were here for such a very short time. After 14 and some years, Jackson is still my baby boy, will always be my baby boy.

He's a good boy. A strong boy who loves me and not really anybody else. Not since Nell left us. I know they will be together again but for now I'm keeping him here. I'm not done loving him, I'm not ready. I know how this goes. Nell prepared me. I will not have him suffer but I will not give him up until I have to. Not one day, hour or minute sooner.

So 2013...I wish the circumstances had been different.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mirror, mirror

I love Christmas. I love people being nice to each other and giving presents and relaxing and having yummy food and the way the whole of the world seems to stop and take a break (well, the whole of this part of the world anyway). When I was little, the only time we got new toys was Christmas and birthdays and with my birthday being in April, by December I was ready for fresh blood. I was always the first up (often not bothering to sleep at all) on Christmas Day and beside myself with excitement for most of the month. I'm still quite like that.

The other members of my little family..not so much. Every year I run round like an eejit, trying to find a way to buy Snow everything she wants, even though she's never short of anything, and this year has been no different. But instead of getting excited, Snow has just been tired by school and the big things we've uncovered this term. Predictably, she went down with a nasty virus a week ago and is still not well. She is super-grumpy and teary and not at all excited and I got to the point where I was wondering how we'd managed to raise such a spoilt, ungrateful child (because I'm compassionate like that).

As usual, this weekend, I'd picked up a couple of library books for me to read to her at bedtime, including Wolfie by Emma Barnes. With Snow running a temperature and generally feeling lousy, that afternoon I suggested we snug up in the big bed together and I'd read to her. We read about two thirds before she fell asleep.

That night as I put her back to bed, she said,"I really enjoyed you reading me Wolfie today." This was the first time she'd said anything positive about anything for about four days. "I'm glad," I said."We can read the rest tomorrow if you like." She asked if she could "save it until Christmas Day". "Of course," I said. "If you want to." She said,"Well it really is a special treat so it'd be best to do it at Christmas."

I guess it's not her who can be spoilt and ungrateful. And I guess we're not doing too bad a job of raising her either.

Friday, 21 December 2012


Turn, turn, turn

It's solstice and tonight, if she's well enough, Snow and I will be doing our first releasing ceremony together. No bonfire for us in this drizzly weather but we'll light the woodburner, smudge with white sage and a crow's feather from one of our corvid neighbours, fold our hopes and wishes into red flannel along with an offering to Spirit and celebrate the turn towards the light.

I never thought I'd be someone who would be teaching my child about spiritual matters. I grew up with agnostic (back then) parents and grandparents who'd had different faith backgrounds: Non-conformist/High Church Anglican and Methodist/Catholic. My parents made the decision not to teach us anything. My school was mildly Church of England in the way the Church of England was back then, I refused Sunday School and confused bible stories with Lambs' Shakespeare. I found my own path in my twenties during the New Age heyday.

The years between then and now stripped away the hype. I went through periods of deep skepticism but never really moved too far from a deep ecology/earth medicine/animistic root. This is where I belong. I no longer have doubts or the need to question. With this knowing comes the desire to share what I've learnt with my daughter. She may reject it, embrace it or take some aspects to weave into her own spiritual cloth but it's important to me that she has access to the source. She's going to need it.

Personally, I am ready for the turning of the year. I know what I will be releasing and what I will be turning towards. Last night I read a quote from poet David Whyte that sums it up beautifully.

'You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
Except the one in which you belong.' 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

black wolf

into the woods

In 2013 I turn 50. It wasn't going to be a big deal for me. There is a part of me that rails against the man-made concept of time by being scattered and random and disorganised (amongst other great qualities to which I can lay claim) and I had mistakenly thought I could dismiss the Big 5Oh as yet another calendar date that actually makes no difference.


Over the last couple of decades I've watched as 30 became the new 20, then 40 became the new 30 and now it is said, rather less convincingly, that 50 is the new 40. One rather optimistic soul recently said that 50 is the new 30. The hell it is.

I thought I'd be scared. I thought I'd feel as if I'd missed my chances. I thought I might turn into a dreadful fake, desperate to look younger. But as it goes, I'm excited. As my friend and fellow 50 year old, Tracie put it, we are standing on the edge of the wild woods. I love that analogy.

If I slow down and listen, and let my eyes adjust to the new light, I can make out the shapes of other women already in there. Free from the hunt for a mate and all that entails; confident of their right to be wherever they want to be, however they want to be; strong, creative and quietly, purposefully leading meaningful lives away from the limelight. Not finished or polished but comfortable with the pace of their learning and growth. Powerful and wild. And when these women gather together they can summon up magic even deeper than that which younger women weave.

I am no longer an elder in my peer group, I am a novice in the second stage of my life. I am filled with anticipation and excitement, seasoned with a dab of fear for good measure. I am eager to find teachers and soul sisters who have already made their home here.

Our society tends to 'disappear' the middle-aged female and well it might. Because if it looked directly at us it might be blinded by the sheer brilliance of emerging truth and energy. I see this turning point as a second chance. All being well, I have at least half my adult life ahead of me and, considering I didn't actually grow-up until I was 35, it could be argued I'm looking at a good two thirds.

This is going to be my work for me  in 2013 - finding my wild voice, out in the woods. Standing up in the circle and howling it out loud without concern for what other people think. I don't get a third chance in this body, this is the real thing. I have no intention of f***ing it up.

Monday, 26 November 2012


Best sidekick ever.

See that first sentence in my last post? This one:

"The core practise of the art of wildness is, I've decided, to let my body move." 

Well that jumped up and bit me on the bum. To cut a long, shameful story shortish, during the last week I've been reminded that my daughter needs to let her body move too. Needs. One way of describing how she behaves naturally is Sensory Seeking Behaviour. It isn't a 'Special' Need but it is a strong one in her, albeit without any of the other things that can sometimes appear along with it. It is not unusual in kids who have spent time in institutions, and as good as we believe Snow's orphanage to be, it wasn't one-on-one or well-equipped.

I'd realised that this may be an issue for her when she was younger but as she did so well at school I just let it go. Sigh. Not knowing that she was suffering emotionally and physically. How did we unravel this sorry tale? Well she told me - again and again - that school (and, it transpires, home) gives her 'tummy ache'. After a long time spent messing about with food, amounts of food, liquids and bodily functions, I finally woke up and heard what her body was saying.

This was so liberating for my girl. She is happy again - and she had not been recently. She is wild and she is happy. And so the Universe has brought me to my teacher again. The one I was first called to in 2001, five years before I saw her face. "So you want to live in my wildness and set yourself free, eh? Okay then, let's see how that really looks. Let's see how you deal with the lack of peace and the mess and the reality of 'wild'! Have at it."

I was responsible for listening to her in ways other than the obvious and I didn't. She does not have the awareness yet to translate her body's voice into words. Both these things are going to change and, here in it's earliest days, this blog will change too. It's going to be about about both of us learning the art of wildness.

Clearly, I'm starting from a position of ignorance and naivety. It could get messy around here.

Monday, 19 November 2012

making space

The core practise of the art of wildness is, I've decided, to let my body move. I spend long hours at a desk or laptop and yet, I'm not doing that moving. Sure I walk the dogs every day and run up and downstairs in our four storey, tiny cottage but I had visions of myself running like the wind down country lanes celebrating my wolf-spirit, hoop-dancing in the garden to a hip soundtrack in a boho-stylee or even sweating it out with a fitball and weights. Yeah...not happening.

Yesterday I was hijacked by pain from a sinus headache. As a migraine sufferer I can tell you, give me the migraine and take the sinusses, please. I'd tensed up so much as a reaction that I just felt locked all over. Also powerless and angry that my weekend had been ruined.

I eased myself into my favourite yoga pose, child's pose, balasana. I do it with my arms stretched out above my head, not at my side. It is a resting pose that stretches out the back among other things. I felt knots pulling apart and also - as usual in this position - a deep sense of surrender. Not in a submissive way, but in a grateful, releasing, safe way. And my body began to speak to me.

Last summer I took a series of yoga classes for the first time. A friend and I found a lovely teacher of Anusara, heart-centred yoga and went weekly for some months. Having never been a yoga-type, it was a revelation. I remember saying that if I could do a yoga class everyday I would feel like a goddess. It's true.

Sadly this was all just months before Friendgate and soon the studio and teachers underwent some changes. I could no longer afford to take a weekly class and so I stopped.

Last night, as I lay in balasana, surrendering, my body woke up and told me that I need yoga. That it needs yoga. Gentle, for now, because I've tied it in tight knots and nothing is able to stretch too deeply. But yoga lets my body express itself. Be wild. The voice was forceful, pleading.

My teacher taught us that yoga makes space in our bodies and thus in our lives and I witnessed this again and again. So here's my start point: five minutes yoga a day (unless I feel drawn to do more).  Some easy cow-cat movement/chakravakasana and then some time breathing deep into child's pose/balasana. let's see where that conversation takes me.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

animal healing

I'm here teaching myself the art of wildness.

I need to have a good element of 'wildness' in my life. I need time in it and with it. That way, I'm better when I'm domesticated. I don't get resentful and stir-crazy and snarly. That wildness isn't necessarily big, spacious, tooth and claw wilderness, it just needs to be outdoors (preferably), natural, unshackled, multi-sensory, slow, organic, non-digital. It needs to be mostly me on my own but not always. I need animals around me to help keep me present.

In meditation, my guide told me that I need to remember how to shapeshift and do it regularly. Be in my body in its wildness. Let that part of me be expressed and allowed to run. I'm all up in my head and my soul and that is essential but my poor 'soft animal''s been held captive by the very spirit it so lovingly carries.

One of the best ways for me to let my body be in the driving seat is to use my senses. This photo makes my mind and spirit react with memories and stories but for my body it's all about the senses. There's a woody, almost peppery taste that floods through my nose and rests at the back of my throat; there's the feel of the leaves on my skin - damp, cold and just losing their crispness; the springiness, still, of the grass beneath them; the sounds of them rustling against each other and the tapping of a nuthatch feeding on the birdtable nearby. The colour, purposefully dampened onscreen but so vivid in real life, like cold flames almost overwhelming my eyes. And most of all, the feeling of edges blurring. Of the energy, still strong in these fallen leaves, moving effortlessly between me and them, perpetuating Life.

Monday, 12 November 2012


This is something I posted elsewhere in July 2011. I guess they came back.

the tale of a dog who is not gold

Once there was a dog born the colour of gold. Bred to be the companion of emperors in their palaces, the guardian of temple treasures. In time, to be the carrier of golden babies for the benefit of her keepers. But the Dog Spirit does not recognise palaces, temples or gold and without truth in her world the golden dog faded. The keepers sold away her babies and sick for the lack of a whole life, she lost her golden fur and her skin wept for all her losses. The keepers would keep her no longer and left her at a place of wood and mud, howls and broken hearts.

However, the people in this place knew about the Dog Spirit and knew that it was the true treasure. They knew what it needed. They found other people who knew their own Dog Spirit and recognised the bond between two and four-leggeds.

With her new kin, the dog who had been gold went to a home of stone and wood, love and open places. Slowly she felt the return of the Dog Spirit and the coming of a whole life, and her fur returned. Only now it was changed.

It is no longer golden. Now she is the colour of a rich earth and sun-ripened crops. Of seeds falling home to the dirt and of morning sun on the bark of trees. Watch closely or you might miss her as she moves freely beyond palaces and temples. Now running in the sacred places of dirt and claws, leaves and feathers. She is Nature, she is Wild and the Dog Spirit shines bright through her eyes.