But Where Was Me?

Grandmothers should be wise.  It’s one of those archetypal attributes of the crone, isn’t it?  So when I fall short in the wisdom department, it bothers me.  

A little over a year ago, my grandson and I were chatting about the first house he lived in – a place he dimly remembered, having moved away when he was a toddler.  His younger sister was confused.  She insisted they had never lived in a house with two huge trees in the garden.  When her brother pointed out that this was before she was born, she became almost hysterical.

Baby, Child, Girl, Pouting“But where was ME?” she demanded, her eyes filling with tears and panic.

That was when I fell short in the wise grandmother stakes.  I knew my answer to the question, but I would have struggled – when put on the spot – to find the words to explain it to a tiny child.  Even if I had managed to leap that hurdle, I was anxious about straying into the sphere of beliefs.  I’ve spent a lifetime as a teacher carefully and meticulously respecting a wealth of different creeds and cultures.  I knew my grandchildren were being brought up with a nominally Christian belief system.  Christianity has plenty to say about an afterlife, but is curiously silent on before life.  It talks vaguely about dust and ashes, which, I felt, wouldn’t help much.  Did I have the right to impose my own beliefs on those they were being brought up with? 

So I failed.  I gave the child lots of comforting cuddles, chatted to her about how excited we’d all been when she was born, and generally distracted her without ever answering her very important question.  And it has bothered me ever since.

When I came to write my children’s novel this year, I decided it would give me the opportunity to revisit the events of that day and to provide Ruby Rose, my fictional toddler heroine, with a fearless crone figure who is more than happy to address her question head on and provide a suitable response.

It was one of those parts of the book that quite happily wrote itself, while I obediently pressed the keys.  Interestingly, Misty often took control of me, as well as the situations in the story, when she appeared in the pages!

Misty waited for the girl to settle down and for the pounding of her heart to slow.  “Now,”  she began, finally.  “That was a very sensible question you asked, my dear.  I’m going to answer it for you, but you will need to listen very hard.  Can you do that?”

Ruby nodded miserably and Stellan sat on the grass at Misty’s feet, because it had never occurred to him that there could be an answer to that question.

“Before you were your mama’s little girl and Stellan’s little sister, Ruby, you were living in the Dreaming Place.”

“What’s the Dreaming Place?” Ruby asked, sitting up.

“It’s a place you know very well.  Why, you go there every night, while your body is in bed, having a rest,” Misty replied.

“You mean when we have dreams?” asked Stellan.

“Exactly.  Haven’t you ever thought how odd it is that your body stays in bed, fast asleep, while you are off doing all sorts of other things?” …

“That is strange,” agreed Stellan, who had never really considered it before.

“So,”  continued Misty, in the same calm, gentle voice, “while we have bodies like these,” she tickled Ruby Rose gently on her arm and the child giggled, “we live in them for most of the time and just put them down to rest at bedtime.  Before we are born, though, and after we have died, we spend all our time in the Dreaming Place.  That’s where you were when Stellan was a little boy and Bella the cat lived with him.”

Both children were silent for a moment, while they considered that.

“Weren’t I lonely without my ma and my pa and my brother?” Ruby wanted to know.

“Not at all,”  Misty replied.  “You were having too much fun!  You see in the Dreaming Place, you can be whatever you want and go anywhere you like.  You might have tried being a fairy or a brave explorer or even a dog or a cat.  What do you think you would have been?”

“A fairy who could fly in the air and do wishes!” Ruby announced.

“Well that would be quite splendid, wouldn’t it?”  Misty smiled.  “But after loads and loads of dreaming, you decided that what would be even more fun would be to become a little girl with a body.  You see, in the Dreaming Place there are things we can’t do.  We can’t feel happiness or pain or full up with delicious food or the softness of an animal’s fur when we stroke it.  You decided to find yourself the most perfect family for your new body to live with.”

“How did she find us?” asked Stellan. 

He couldn’t decide whether this was some kind of made-up tale to calm his sister and cheer her up or whether Misty believed all she was saying.

She smiled at him.  It was a serious smile, not the sort of winking smile grown-ups give when you and they both know they are pretending.

“As I said, in the Dreaming Place, you can go anywhere you want just by thinking about it.  Once Ruby Rose had decided she wanted to slip into a body and find a family in this – Waking Place, she travelled all around the world, deciding which would be the very best family for her to live with.  Eventually, she chose the family she wanted and when your new little sister was born, here she was!”

“I was very clever to choose my nice family, weren’t I, Misty?” Ruby smiled.

My grandson is reading The Glassmaker’s Children at the moment and maybe, when she’s a few years older, his sister will do the same and find a belated answer to her question.  

 

The Art of Magic (and the magic of art)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso

Oekaki, Drawing, Children, GraffitiThat from the artist who also claimed that it took him four years to learn to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.  It’s a perspective that interests me.

About thirty years ago I recall a family picnic on the banks of the River Stour on the Essex-Suffolk border.  My 18 month old son (now a professional graphic artist and illustrator) seized his father’s sketchbook and pencil, stared intently at the reeds and bull rushes growing at the water’s edge, then proceeded to draw a series of vertical and near-vertical lines on the paper.  It took him seconds.  His first representational landscape drawing!  The child moved on to other ways of exploring the environment immediately.  It was as if the drawing was some kind of instinctive yet fleeting need to capture the 3D world in just two dimensions.  He didn’t, as his older siblings might have done, compare it to his father’s sketches or seek anyone’s approval or praise.  In fact he was confused by our excitement and delight.

A tiny child will not seek out the ‘right’ colours or consider shapes and ratios.  What they do, though, when you think about it, is pure magic.  They use their crayons to create the significant people and objects around them at that moment in time.  Their art freezes an aspect of the swirl of life and movement and emotion they find themselves in and places it on a flat sheet of paper.   How very different that is from our own self-conscious attempts to draw a representational image.  We are hung up on how realistic it looks, whether our lines are straight or whether the perspective is right.  Most of all, we are worried about how others will judge it.  That, I suspect, is the ‘problem’ Picasso was referring to.

“That’s a lovely picture.  Would you like to tell me about it?” we were taught to say when I was training to be a teacher.  It avoided the problems of, “What a beautiful picture of Mummy!  Oh, I see – it’s a green tractor with lots of mud, is it?  Right.”

Gradually we ‘help’ the child to fit their depictions to the conventions of art in our world.  In medieval times, drawing the mother or self far larger than other people would have been quite acceptable.  The convention was ‘important people are shown larger than less significant people’.  In our modern world the convention is photographic, so a person shown large is closer in physical space to the artist’s viewpoint than those standing further away.

 

Light, Effect, Light Effect, Magic LightAnd what of magic?  I would argue that this, too, is something a small child experiences and responds to in a very natural, comfortable way and trying to regain that instinctive connection to the magic inherent in their lives takes many years, once the child has been trained to put it aside.

We allow – even encourage – small children to fill their lives with magic.  We tell them of Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and read them stories or show them videos of unicorns and dragons, magicians and heroes with fantastic powers.

At some point, though – perhaps around the same time we start insisting that humans should be drawn with bodies, not just a circular head with legs and arms – we begin to teach them what is ‘real’ and what is ‘pretend’.  What many of us don’t recognise is that this is just as arbitrary and incomplete a world view as the one we are asking them to leave behind.

Magic has a strong similarity to art.  When painting and drawing we encapsulate three dimensions in two.  With magic, we bring multiple dimensions into the three that form what current convention sees as our world.  (Again, I suspect our ancestors would have viewed it quite differently.)

In the children’s story book I’ve just published, I made sure enough magic was embedded within it to at least allow my 8-12 year old audience to keep wondering.  My metaphysician (yes, of course there had to be one!) observes three members of a family who find themselves confronted with a magical ‘coincidence’ as follows:

The lady in the blue dress looked from one to the other of them – the mother, who was slowly shaking her head and muttering, “Extraordinary…”, the boy who was now clutching his cheeks and laughing with amazement and pure delight, and the small child beside her who was still young enough to understand how real magic was and therefore not surprised at all.

I’d love to think that a few children reading The Glassmaker’s Children will recognise the magic my young hero Stellan rediscovers and notice how, by using attention and intention, both he and they can find way of surviving and thriving, despite the setbacks and challenges they encounter.

 

Small note:  I originally set up this blog (back in 2012) to publicise my first book.  Since then it’s be come more of a vehicle for my metaphysical ramblings, and I’d like it to stay that way.  For that reason, I’m placing most of my posts about The Glassmaker’s Children on my Open the Box blog.  This one, for example, explains the particular challenges my two young characters face as they battle to cope with a narcissistic parent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always End With a Story

Tale, Story, Pirates, Fantasy, TreasureAs a parent and as a teacher, I ended every day with a story.  It felt the right way to finish things off and send my own children off to their dreams or my pupils off to their homes.

As I await the artwork for the cover of my own new story book, I thought I’d share some of my favourite children’s books – the ones that most intrigued and inspired those children I read to.

I grew up reading and adoring the Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons tales.  However by the time I’d reached adulthood, having a major character called Titty was a barrier to reading it aloud to kids!  I did try once to read it to a class – attempting to substitute the name with ‘Tammy’, but it didn’t end well.  56 eyes watching intently and 28 mouths sniggering each time I fluffed it or (worse) forgot…  I gave up.

Lewis Carroll was one of my favourites to read aloud, due to the sheer brilliance, audacity and anarchy of his stories and poems, while Philip Pullman’s range and scope always left me and my listeners gasping for more.

I lost count of the times I read Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom aloud to classes of 10 and 11 year olds and I still can’t read the final chapter without shedding a few tears.

Some of my favourite children’s books fall into the genre of ‘issues’ stories.  I suppose mine does as well.

On more than one occasion I would hand a copy of Jacqueline Wilson’s The Suitcase Kid to some poor child whose parents had separated and decided it suited them best if their offspring spent a week at a time in each home.  The issues affecting step families were also deftly dealt with by Anne Fine in her wonderfully balanced series of short stories published as Step by Wicked Step.  Both these authors have produced a range of carefully crafted stories to fit many of the challenging issues besetting children and I’ve read many of their tales to those in my care.

Ordinary Jack.jpgPerhaps my favourite – if I had to choose one – though, is not an ‘issues’ book series at all but a set of comedy tales called The Bagthorpe Saga by the brilliant Helen Cresswell.

I adored everything this lady wrote, but was surprised and delighted to discover how the series affected my middle child.

‘Ordinary Jack’ is a thoroughly charming but – as the title suggests – very normal boy who has been born into a family of hilariously dysfunctional, but high-achieving oddballs.  He yearns to have many ‘strings to his bow’, like his siblings and parents.

My son was the only one in our family with dyslexia – a way of being that has served him very well in adulthood, in his profession as a data analyst, but one which caused him huge problems as a schoolboy.  Despite our best efforts, he suffered with a lack of self-esteem, so finding Jack in these stories was, for him, like discovering a soulmate.  He longed for his nightly story session and we worked our way through the entire series.

I suppose if there is one thing I could wish for my book – The Glassmaker’s Children – it is that some child somewhere will discover my Stellan and relate to him, his personality or his situation, so that his or her own life is positively affected.

 

 

The Glassmaker’s Children is available on Amazon at this link for the USA

The Glassmaker’s Children

The Glassmaker's Children by [Jan Stone]Yes – apologies.  This blog has been very quiet in the past few months.  There’s a reason for that, which I’m about to share with you.

Life during lockdown was very different, obviously.  One of the most positive and welcome changes during that time was the opportunity to chat via video link with my grandchildren every day.  Their mother works from home, so I agreed to do some home learning with them each weekday morning, to give her some time to herself.

Every ‘lesson’ ended with a story session and we got through a fair few books during that time – Tales of Mystery and Imagination (my favourite picture book ever), The Arabian Nights, The Firework Maker’s Daughter, Stig of the Dump and much more.  The five year old – quite understandably – drifted away unless there were plenty of pictures, but the eight year old sat and soaked in every word, day after day.

When the summer holidays started, lockdown eased and the lessons ceased, I found that my love of children’s literature had been rekindled (unintentional pun there!)

As a parent, teacher and mentor, I’d often been able to find the perfect book to help a child dealing with family or personal issues – low self-esteem, bullying, family splits and so forth.  The book I’d never been able to find was one that explained – in a child-friendly storybook format – why, if we do indeed at some level choose the family we are born into, this child chose the parents or siblings they did.

That’s why I decided to write it.

I hadn’t been prepared for how much it would consume my life – waking and dreaming.  Stellan and Ruby Rose, my main characters, became utterly real to me.  Perhaps, since they’ve now been created, they really live in some other reality.  I’d like to think so.  At any rate, one night, during a particularly vivid dream, Ruby and I headed off on an adventure quite unrelated to the story I was writing.

Often I suddenly ‘knew’ what would happen to them next, without consciously planning it.  I caught myself thinking, “Oh, yes, clever!  That links well to chapter 14,” although the new idea had suddenly appeared unbidden in my mind.  Maybe I was being helped…

I did become rather obsessed.  There was the day the doorbell rang when I was in full creative flow and I found myself answering the door to the courier there in a Welsh accent, since I’d been writing dialogue between characters in a Welsh village at the time!

 

It’s only available on Kindle so far, but I’m hoping to get it into paperback within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, if you know any 8-12 year olds who might enjoy a story about sorcery, self-discovery, adventure and the magical chemistry that permeates all of our lives, do send them to hunt it out on Amazon Kindle, where the first few chapters are free to read.

 

 

The Curing

I feel safest with stories.  They soothe me.  And the old stories are the best of all.

Today I want to share an old story with you – one that came to me and was most anxious to be shared.  Even the synchronicities that drew this story to me tell a tale in themselves.

I live in England, where currently entire households in which anyone has a fever or a cough must self-isolate for 14 days.  When my grandchild developed both these symptoms, her mother was faced with trying to work from home and care for both children.  I live far away, but decided to have a daily one hour video talk session with the children, giving my daughter a chance to get some uninterrupted work time.  I’m an ex-teacher, so we play maths games, draw, read, write and learn together.  It’s a delightful time for all of us.

I went to my still fairly extensive children’s book collection (who can throw books away?) looking for stories that would interest a 5 year old and her 8 year old brother.  Almost at once my eyes fell upon Hugh Lipton and Niamh Sharkey’s beautiful ‘Tales of Wisdom & Wonder’.  It’s a glorious collection of folk tales from around the world.

On day 1, we read the first story, a delightfully silly tale of a monkey who demonstrates that we should be very careful what we ask for.

Last night I sat down to read the second story – a Cree tale called The Curing Fox – in order to re-familiarise myself with it.

The first sentence told of a little girl who became desperately ill with a high fever, dreadful cough and breathing difficulties.

Ah.  My initial instinct was to put this one aside.  Who knows what fears and nightmares the children are having as Covid-19 spreads through the world?  Then I thought deeper.  Why, of all the stories in my bookcase, had I been led to this one, at this time?  That almost imperceptible tingling that tells me synchronicity is drawing me in had appeared.  I read the story.

Mr Lipton tells it wonderfully, but here is the briefest summary:

The child’s anxious parents summon an ancient wise woman, who listens very carefully to the rattling in the girl’s chest.  She tells the couple that she hears from it that a small, sickly female fox is undertaking an arduous journey through the snow outside.  When the child coughs, the wise woman hears the sound of the fox’s paws breaking through the crust of the frozen snow.  The father offers to track and bring back the fox.  As he journeys, the wise woman is able to track his progress, and that of the starving fox, by observing the little girl’s illness; when she senses that the hunter has stopped for the night and lit a fire, the girl has a high fever.  Finally he catches the fox, cradles her in his arms and takes her back to the village.  The mother is told to feed the fox.  It then curls up and sleeps.  The child, too, falls into a deep sleep.  Eventually, both fox and girl awake at the same moment.  The parents are asked to feed the fox again and then release it.  The little girl watches from the doorway as the fox runs off.  As it disappears, so does her illness.  The wise woman asks them whether the fox cured the girl or she cured the fox.  The mother replies that the woman cured them both.  The old lady just smiles.

I sat and pondered the wisdom of that story.  Half awake and half asleep, I thought my way back into that First Nation culture and bank of knowledge that showed such subtle yet deep and abiding connectedness.  I wondered at the idea that the symptoms of an illness could, with the right level of focus, lead the wise to find and alleviate suffering elsewhere.  I marvelled that, in taking steps to alleviate that suffering, the illness itself would vanish.  Further and further I meditated my way into the meaning this story held for me.  I thought of the symptoms – the fever, the choking cough, the inability to breathe.  Clearly the girl stands for us in our present crisis.

And the fox?  What does she represent?

The words that floated into my heart were, “Think of the World’s cough.”

 

It was from the Cree that this prophecy came:

 

 

Searching for Many Worlds

This is the first of a series of posts outlining my latest forays towards the point where physics and metaphysics merge,

Let’s begin with what scientists found, all those years ago.  We’ll follow them as far into the cosmos as we can and then, when their instruments fail and their calculations falter, we’ll move on to a higher authority and explore further.  It will be quite a journey.

Double Slit Experiment, AttemptSo let’s start at the point when science found something impossible – that infamous Double Slit Experiment.  You probably know all about it, and if you don’t, You Tube is on hand to explain.

What is important here is that scientists were able to see, for the first time, what happened when a beam of electrons, or even a single electron, was fired at their apparatus.

They talked and talked, calculated and calculated for all they were worth and finally, early in the twentieth century, the Copenhagen Interpretation was thrashed out.  It was unwieldy, ugly and the equations didn’t look good.  Bitter words were spoken.  Einstein insisted that God didn’t play dice, Schrödinger created a paradoxical theoretical cat to point up the craziness of the whole thing, but they had the only conclusion they could find:  The electron, once fired, behaved as a wave; it was travelling everywhere at once until it was observed.  At that point its wave function collapsed and, of all those myriad potentials, just one particle remained for the scientists to measure.

We move forward now to the 1950s and a young Princetown PhD student called Hugh Everett III.  He was working in the mysterious quantum realm that had been puzzling and frustrating many of the greatest minds of the twentieth century for several decades.  Hugh’s theory was radical, elegant and utterly preposterous.  He proposed that the only logical way to explain the superposition of an object which apparently collapsed into a single place once it was observed was for the superposition to continue, taking multiple aspects of the hapless observer into a range of parallel worlds – one for each position of the tiny object.  No collapsing required – just an endless expansion of worlds.

Globe, Earth, Country, Continents, ManyHugh’s theory became known as the Many-Worlds Interpretation and, if scientists had been unhappy with Copenhagen, they positively hated this new theory.  Most refused to give it any attention at all and found this counter-intuitive, profligate creation of endless worlds each time a choice was made to be the most wasteful, pointless idea ever proposed.  For years it was relegated to little more than a footnote in scientific journals, despite Hugh’s faultless calculations.

I found Everett’s ideas difficult to stomach but remained slightly disturbed by Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation.  That was when my young friend William stepped in.  As mentioned in my previous post (and many others on this blog), he is a remarkable young man with access to what he once described as a map of all the atoms in the universe.  He KNOWS things.  They pop, almost unbidden, into his mind and once he realised that I was interested in them, he kindly compiled them into a series of articles.  (I later gathered some into a slim book called The Words of William: Volume 1, which we self-published on Amazon.)

This is what he had to say about the issue:

There is almost an infinite number of universes in existence.  The number is constantly increasing and for as long as one universe exists they will continue to increase.  Every time an event occurs a universe will be created.  A universe will be created for every possible outcome of an event.  For example, if one was taking a walk and for whatever reason turned left, another universe will be automatically created where the person did not turn left.  There would be universes where one turned right, one stood still, one carried on straight and for every other possibility.  These universes would be identical to the original universe up to the point where the event took place.  After the event these universes could differ slightly or to an extent beyond imagination.  The process of creating universes would continue to occur in the new universes created for every event to proceed from the initial creation event…  This is an occurrence which occurs automatically all the time and beyond the knowledge of most people.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with this; it is simply a part of life.

 

Recently I have been seeking to understand all of this at the deepest level possible.  I used my pendulum to connect with a higher dimensional source who would be able to answer my questions.  This being graciously agreed to answer my queries about the nature of reality.

So, I asked, are there really these many worlds, or universes?

My source said that the ideas put forward by Everett and my young friend were largely correct.  It was just that their explanations didn’t quite go far enough.

I asked what was missing, and how Everett’s ‘worlds’ should be described.

Abstract, Ancient, Art, BackgroundThe answer I received was this:

HIS WORLDS ARE DARK MATTER

Back I went to the internet.  Of all the matter in the universe, 85% is classified as Dark Matter and it baffles scientists.  Again, You Tube told me what I needed to know to carry on.

Gradually, I began to understand.  Every time an event occurs – like that little electron being fired at the double slit or the person turning left – we see one outcome and all the others possible results create new worlds that reside in the ever-expanding realms of Dark Matter.  Our scientists can’t access it or measure it, but it’s all there.

A new realisation came to me.  “The Dark Matter must be conscious, then.”

IT IS CONSCIOUSNESS.  EACH CHOICE EXPANDS IT.

And suddenly, to me at least, the whole process made sense.  No longer did these many-worlds seem wasteful or pointless.  Every choice, every observation, every event leads not to a single outcome but to an exponential increase in consciousness and the probabilities that fill our cosmos.

The tale of the parent – without a storybook ending

My body isn’t used to the time change yet.  We gained an extra hour this weekend, moving from British Summertime to Greenwich Mean Time.

That’s why I found myself wide awake early this morning.  That’s when I found myself half-remembering something from dreams and something from imagination, and I decided to try to turn it into a book for my two little grandchildren – a book in which everyone, even a parent, is fallible.

Not many people dare to write such books.  In children’s stories, even an erring parent usually comes right in the end.  He might be a loveable rogue or she may be scatty and disorganised, but these storybook parents – at least in stories for small children – always put the children first, always redeem themselves, always learn from their mistakes.

Sad Child Boy Kid Crying Tears Sadness MooI wish life was like that for real children.  I wish there hadn’t been so many children in my life who had parents consumed by addictions, parents who turned to crime, parents who ran off to enjoy a new, carefree life without the drudgery of parenthood.  I wish two of those children hadn’t been my own grandchildren.

This sounds harsh, I know.  But life for those children IS harsh.
I remember the child who told me, “If my dad had liked me as much as he liked whisky and beer, he might have stopped drinking it when I asked him to, and then he wouldn’t have died.”
I remember the boy who said, “I can’t wait to grow up and get a wife. We’ll have lots of kids and I’ll look after them properly and never put them in danger, because I know how bad that feels.”
I remember the child who whispered, “I think my new teacher really likes me, so I don’t ever want her to find out what my dad did, because if she does, she might think I’m like him, and then she won’t like me anymore.”
I remember the little girl who would come into class with bags under her eyes, telling how Mum had crawled into her bed when she got back from the nightclub and spent ages recounting all her drunken escapades.
I remember the seven-year-old who sat with wide, frightened eyes, saying, “I don’t really like Daddy as much as I did before. I still love him, because he is my father, but I’m quite frightened of him now.”
And then there’s the little boy who told me, firmly, “Mums and dads ALWAYS argue. They all do.  Me and my sister go and hide in one of our special places when they start shouting. We take care of each other.”

So how to do it?  How to let children with far-less-than-perfect parents know they are not alone?  How to empower them to cope with a life where there won’t be a fairy godmother to wave a wand or a Damascene conversion that will make everything wonderful again?

The answer, so my pre-dawn inspirations suggest, lies in Chemistry (or Alchemy, or Magic, depending how you want to describe it).  So the story – if I ever manage to write it – will show the pure and inexhaustible supply of Magic that lies behind and within everyday changes.  It will show how intention can bend and shift those changes in the structure of life and of lives.  The wayward parent may choose not to change, but the lives of those around him will change.  Small children will become wiser, stronger and resilient.  They will grow as the story unfolds and they will gradually move beyond their fears and forge a better destiny because of the painful experiences they’ve endured.

I just hope I’m up to the task.

Am I where I want to be?

Yesterday someone sent me an email.  If the photo the sender attached was to be believed, it was a smart, squeaky-clean young American.  He told me I’d been accepted as a member of an organisation called the Association of Spiritual Writers or some such.  Can’t remember the exact wording, as I deleted it pretty quick.

For a start, I hadn’t applied to join any such group.  For an end, he quickly moved into an unabashed sales patter, telling me that in order to get top price ticket sales at my talks, I needed to enrol on his training course, which would maximise my earnings.

Sorry to disappoint you, young Sir, but I have not the slightest interest in making money from spiritual writing or talking.  Sharing ideas, having dialogues, learning and discovering, yes – those things are hugely important to me, but that’s where it stops.

It made me think, though.  Do I have what I want now, in the autumn of my life?  And the answer seems to be that yes, I do.

I own a very small, sweet, though slightly damp and crumbly, old cottage in a beautiful part of England.  I get enough money from my pension to pay the bills and live each month and although I don’t run a car, have expensive holidays or buy luxury items, I have all I need to be comfortable and to give a little to charities I care about.

I still do some private tutoring, charging less by the hour than I pay a handyman to chop and stack my logs.  I’m fine with that, too.  I do it because teaching was my first love and I enjoy keeping contact with it and helping children who would otherwise be struggling.

I spend vast amounts of time making 1/12 scale miniature figures and room settings by upcycling mass produced and junk items.  It’s a brilliant hobby for me.  I can be creative, inventive and gloriously messy.  It involves constant problem-solving that keeps my mind active.
People say, “You must have such patience,” but for me it’s a kind of meditation.  I do my deepest meditating when I’m hand-stitching a minuscule white shirt or sticking tiny tufts of hair on to a wig base.
I display and sell the fruits of my labour at craft sales, get smiles and lovely comments and have fascinating conversations all day.  I make modest amounts of money – which I pass on to my son and his partner, as they are saving up for a deposit on their first home.

Strangely, at almost every sale I’m approached by some smartly dressed young man who eagerly tells me how I could make masses more money from my crafting by doing this on Instagram or that on You Tube.  I smile, thank them politely and carry on doing what I do.

I’ll happily trade the lack of stress, deadlines and problems for the lack of wealth and material goods.  I’m happy, I’m still learning every day and I have a wonderful life.

 

 

 

The Book of Caw

Book, Story, Fairy TaleI was woken this morning – as I am almost every day – by Caw.  And I knew, suddenly, that the Book of Caw needs to be written.  Maybe by me, maybe by someone else.  Who can say?  All I know is that the image of The Book of Caw is lodged in my mind now and the only thing that will move it on is for me to start writing.

So what is Caw? I imagine you asking.  (And why are sentences – proper ones – so elusive this morning? I ask myself.  Probably because the words are coming from somewhere where punctuation doesn’t hold sway.  I’ve visited that somewhere quite a bit recently, which would explain a lot.)

OK.  An easy way out of the definition conundrum would be to say something like, ‘Caw is Oneness, or All That Is’.   That, though, is so all-encompassing as to be almost devoid of meaning for us – a bit like asking someone to imagine an infinite universe…  Fortunately, Caw can be explored in many ways, and each of them helps us to discover more of the truths behind the truism, and to apply them to what we know of our own existence.

Say the word aloud, and you will immediately have one of it’s aspects – Caw is core.  It lies at the very heart of every facet of existence.  It’s the point we come back to, after our little forays into the game of materiality.  We have Caw strength at the centre of our existence.  It’s unmoving, solid, steadfast and entirely dependable, yet it will flow with us, wherever we go.  (Yes, there’s a paradox there – the first of many.  Always think ‘and’ rather than ‘or’ with Caw.)

If it were an acronym, CAW could be formed from, perhaps, Consciousness Applying Will.  In that sense, it is placing intention into consciousness – or vice versa – in order to manifest or create.  That, after all, is how our miniverse here is fabricated.

Animal, Beak, Bird, Black, Claw, CrowLet’s stop metafizzing, briefly, and bring Caw into our familiar material world.  As I said at the start, Caw wakes me each morning.  It is the sound of the corvids – the rooks and jackdaws and magpies that restlessly circle  my cottage, squawking to one another, playing some complex aerial game of tag and scattering black feathers in my garden.  I won’t even begin to delve into the folklore that surrounds this family of birds, but it’s found all around the world.  They are mysterious, intelligent, cunning and wise.  Certainly not light and fluffy.  They have a gravitas that commands attention and respect, verging on fear at times.  Caw is all that.

Chess, Rook, Castle, Piece, GameCaw is the rook on the chessboard, too.  Sometimes hiding in the corner, biding its time; sometimes castling – not afraid to reveal itself in order to protect what is of the most value.  Then, when the time is right, striking suddenly – covering vast distances in a dead straight line to get to the core of the action.  Caw is that too.

Caw is gnosis, knowing, deep knowledge that comes from a point of insight and certainty.  It is not born of opinion or consideration.  It is not gradually acquired through study.  It is our direct link to the Akasha and it comes in instant flashes.  Once recognised, we know – absolutely and with utter certainty – that this is right.  It cannot be any other way.

That is in no way an exhaustive account of Caw.  Other aspects will occur to you, and they will all be valid, but I will let that serve as an introduction.

 

To work with Caw, we need to dispense with a few sacred cows.  We need to try to rid ourselves of:

  • cause and effect
  • common sense
  • rationality

There is, of course, nothing wrong with any of them, except that they only work in 3D.  They only apply to the mechanistic model of the universe we built for ourselves with our cosmic construction set.

To work with Caw, we need to put aside that much-loved toy and move into reality.  It is Caw that will lead us there.

 

Long, long ago…

Fantasy, Castle, Cloud, Sky, TowerI’ve had this theory, for quite a long time now, that my life is based around a fairy tale… and just maybe everyone’s is.

Let me try to explain.

Imagine that, at the very start of becoming human and beginning this great adventure of playing at being physical creatures in a three dimensional world, our greater, non-physical, soul selves created a sort of master plan for human life to play out in.  Let’s imagine they (we) came up with a set of archetypal storylines, each involving a journey – an adventure of some sort with heroes and villains, difficult choices and wise ones who just happen to appear at the right moment.

Now imagine that, no matter what else we forgot about our origins and our true purpose, however muddled and confused we became by religions and sciences and politics and cultures, our greater selves would find a way to ensure that these vital blueprints for living out physical life could not be forgotten.  They would be hardwired into us.  Every generation would feel an innate urge to share them and pass them on to the next.  We would not be able to lose them.  Is that possible?

Heroesjourney.svg

Diagram from Wikipedia

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and many others have written about the mono-myth, the hero’s journey or whatever they chose to call it.

Here it is at it’s most basic.

I suspect, though, that there are several variations – a collection of mythic journeys – and that, maybe in our pre-birth planning stage, we selected one to work with, in just the way you might select a video to watch, a book to read or a game to play.

Here in the West, the remnants of these blueprints are gathered in the collections of Hans Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and (in the USA) Mother Goose.  The same storylines, though, exist all over the planet.  They are in folk tales, soaps, Hollywood movies and Shakespearean dramas.  There’s always a twist in the tale, an unexpected choice, a reversal we weren’t expecting, to keep us interested, but the themes remain, because we need them to.

I won’t tell you which story is mine.  It’s a bit too personal.  You see, you know the story too well, and if I were to reveal its name, you’d know my life.  My character is on a long journey, seeking for something.  Various other characters and situations appear and distract me, lull me into a false sense of security.  Then, all of a sudden something happens to remind me of my quest, and I feel angry at the wasted time and set off again to continue my search.  There’s nothing trite or trivial about this journey.  It’s not even just a matter of life and death; it’s more than that.  It’s my soul/sole purpose and I need to get on and complete it.

I wrote about this theory at greater length, although probably not particularly well, in Life: A Player’s Guide, because I knew then – back in 2012 – how important it was.

Since then I’d forgotten.

But something happened this week to bring me back to it, so on I’ll go, hoping that now I finally have all the gifts, all the helpers and mentors and all the luck to complete my quest and reach a happy ending.