“Burnished”, gold leaf on canvas, Amanda Seyderhelm, 2005
Light candles, or go by the dark.
Lay your belly down in direct contact with the Dirt.
Ah, Mother Earth. Rain, slush, sleet, snow – no matter.
Feel the power of earthquake, power of thunder, power of fecund, fallow depth, upswell of Earth’s belly to yours.
Everything that was too big for you, or toxic, the Earth devours and instantaneously transmutes to nourishment for flowers.
This is the umbilicus of the year, the dark moon of the solar cycle.
Our ancestors surround us always and now we feel their blessing.
Take a pot of strong coffee or tea (or whatever forebears drank) laced with honey and, with a heft of basil as wand, spill three times by your hearth (stove), your front door and your back, singing a welcoming, blessing song.
Sing loudly, this is how those who have come before like it.
Time of augur, time of descent.
Entering time of silence and source.
Sit with sisters in the black moon time, bellies dark with dirt, in fallow, electric silence, and be Earth.
I often wonder what Virginia Woolf would be writing about today. I wonder what direction she would be taking, how she would adapt to this digital age of publishing. How the Hogarth Press would respond. I like to imagine myself reading Woolf’s tweets! I miss her style of writing that captures “the under-layers of consciousness”.
Did Woolf’s fear of being judged contribute to her mental breakdown as Tess Hadley suggests in her review of Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris?
All writers fear judgement from some quarter. Judgment of critics, readers, family, friends, but mostly themselves. Maybe for Woolf, “no matter how defiantly Woolf invented her own more flexible forms of life (and writing), some painful fracture seemed to endure in her.”
The whole book writing process is a process of healing the fracture, of bringing to form and life something that is hidden. To seal up the cracks, and at the same time to expose the rawness and bloodiness of the wound. This is what the publishing process is like from conception through to publication. The writer must be ruthless – to meet deadlines, to cut unnecessary words from the text, to challenge the status quo, to rummage through the ordinary and find the vintage meaning. To be both inventor and reformer.
Writing is like parenting. In the role of the writer there is a need to be both the creative artist who imagines and conjures up a new world, and the disciplinarian who organises and manages the material. Sometimes the job is a joy, you find the word you are looking for that sells the prose. Other times facing the page feels like an impossible challenge because you can never say what your imagination sees, hears, feels.
Some days all the words look jumbled, and meaning is hiding out, and the truth is not on the page but in your head. Those are hard days.
As we come to terms with the aftermath of the violent death of another violent dictator (Gaddafi), and having all the gory details reported on media loops, I was reminded of this poem by Diane Bergstrom (2006):
Darkness always births the light. There is no insanity
without surfacing reason. Apathy can give way to
conviction and action.
There is no suppression without eventual uprising.
Public silence unleashes individual voices. Where
there is death, there must be life.
Where there is waste, growth will be forged.
Narcissistic leaders incense empowered communities.
Censorship spurs collective voices.
Senseless occupations cause people to question.
Unjustified spending arouses investigations. The
pendulum always swings.
Hopeless, despair, intolerance and fear can
debilitate. Belief, anger, purpose, education, and
faith can facilitate. What can I do?
"Your paintings are like auragraphs. You pick up the information from the person and express it through art. However, they are on an altogether deeper level - not dealing with the outer projection of ourselves, not even with the spirit, but on a soul level. They are soul reflections".
Mary Clair Kelly, Cruse Counsellor