Folk Memory

Folk memory is the mystery of human-nature time, a connection to ancestral imagination forged directly in the natural world. Even the unnatural and odd root us in something evermore powerful than ourselves ~ as powerful as evolution itself. All is possible.

With mischievous ribbons, folk memory weaves, with words and mind-pictures, the ghosts of all the life that has ever existed. Folk memory is a collective and no-one is excluded, not even the cynical. Tales flow from mind to mind through space and time. Like the ancient soils, they pull us deep into our origins and lead us to the windy paths of the future. There will be more eyes and ears to absorb them along the way, transforming them through cultural eddies. They will be shape-shifted into memory.

Old to young. Old to young. And so on. They are the “dreaming”.

Folk memory is deep within us all, leaving impressions, like light trails in the darkness or shadows after light. And we tell and listen with the same mannerisms of the long dead. Feel this, try not to intellectualise.

Folk memory is to be enjoyed. It’s fun. But remember its warnings, for there are many.

The Heron, the Cat and the Bramble via the National Museum Wales. A story told by Lewis T Evans (1882-1975). I’d love you to read the English and listen to the Welsh…

Now we are the young, listening to our old. Their memories are invaluable.

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Photo by me. Wye heron at dusk.

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An urgent appeal to the world’s leading humanities scholars, organisations and institutions.

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Owl of Athena, ink drawing by Ginny Battson

 

More than 15,000 scientists have signed a SECOND WARNING to humanity, that we must curtail the crippling damage we, as an interconnected species, are inflicting upon Planet Earth.

I appeal to all humanities scholars, organisations and institutions. Please read this document, in full.

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice

It is time for leading humanities scholars, philosophers, ethicists, anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, geographers, writers, artists and musicians, et al, to collectively issue a similar and vital warning.

We must unite across the board in human understanding, and with urgency.

Action is needed NOW to curtail disasters of epic proportions over the next century and beyond.

Thank you.

 

Ginny Battson.

Environmental Ethicist, Writer, Photographer and Mother.

 

Me

 

 

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“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”

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My path to the wood

 

“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.” Dylan Thomas (1933)

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My Landlines Nomination

I have chosen my favorite book, not by intellectual analysis, reputation, or any kind of prophetic philosophy, but by its visceral and healing effect/affect on me as a child.

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden.

In Edith Holden, I found someone I felt knew me.

“This book was given to me by my mother, whom I loved dearly. I was an 8 year old girl, fascinated by my wild kin. The words and drawings spoke to me of a deep love of nature. I poured over the intimacy, poetry and the gentle, powerful observations, from a period in time that already seemed lost. It sold many, many copies, a popular book. But in no way does this detract from its unique meaning to me. I treasured my 1st Edition.”

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Xenotrauma ~ an appeal.

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I have been following the plight of the Manus Island and Nauru Detainees. The belligerence of the rightwing Australian coalition government is shameful. Ministers appear to be defending a right to hold refugees seeking asylum by boat in unfathomable conditions, with exposure to abuse and exploitation. Evidence continues to unfold of neglect in the provision of basic welfare and consent of these individual human beings. It is, and has been, a callous exercise in ego and detachment. It won’t serve as a deterrent for those fleeing perilous places of conflict and scarcity, with little or no access to international news. Instead, it will deter anyone finding trust in this government ever again.

Discriminating against those who are so desperate to escape conflict or persecution, to leave family, home and all that is familiar, to pay criminals for passage by overcrowded, dangerous boats, is a debasing of their intrinsic worth, their potential as flourishing individuals and as fair contributors to society and the biosphere. Inflicting further trauma upon them is a crime against humanity and utterly reprehensible.

I offer xenotrauma as a word to describe this specific new and heinous form of human anguish inflicted by those prejudiced against foreigners, xenophobes who despise and fear desperate people fleeing desperate situations. Symptoms are similar to that usually framed as “PTSD”. Exhausted refugees are forced into inadequate detention centres or dangerous living quarters, further deprived of food, water and medical attention, support from family, friends and legal representation. They are detained for unspecified lengths of time and symptoms become chronic and extremely difficult to treat.

Xenotrauma is entirely avoidable and is a natural injustice. Denial of care and support amplifies distress, and chronic conditions may affect and scar for life. Repercussions will be ongoing through generations.

Science and technology plagues us with big data fed into a reductionist utilitarian approach in solving ethical dilemmas at the expense of individual wellbeing. Data is spun by a biased media and used as a tool for spreading fear and resentment. Sentience of the individual is lost in a swell of political nationalism, racism and prejudicial ideologies fearing ‘faceless’ and ‘nameless’ data. Human life is complex ~ a rational and emotional matrix of biology, experience and relationships ~ and I assert Ethics of Care, (case by case), is a far better approach to solving such quandaries.

Examine the latest predicted sea level and tidal changes and imagine just how many sentient individuals living in low income coastal communities and densely populated cities will be displaced by rising water levels. Two billion people on the move over the next few decades will create vast logistical, psychological and complex social problems. A  surge of anti-fluministic chaos and torment will be unleashed upon our already threatened non-human kin, their processes and interconnections. Pernicious and devastating tension and conflict over resources and territory lays in wait. But to deal with two billion individuals simply as a human tsunami to be repelled is a recipe for disaster. Each person will have a unique story and will need to be treated with respect and care. Forward planning is now an absolute requisite, yet so little is being done. COP23 Fiji/Bonn begins today and continues through to November 17th. Already, the Prime Minister of Fiji has flagged the growing need to care now and in future for those most vulnerable to climate change. I applaud him.

If a nation and its geography are unable to meet the fundamental needs of its people, many citizens will choose to move internationally, either legally or illegally. Instead of impenetrable, defensive borders erected and defended by xenophobes, causing acute and chronic trauma and resentment, we need to manage a stable and consistent flow of migration, and compassionate resettlement of refugees between all nations that is truly sustainable for all life and the biosphere. We must avoid xenotrauma. The vast majority of Earth Crisis refugees will be innocent of creating and emitting greenhouse gases, one of the main causes of Earth Crisis.

Leaders feigning ignorance or denial will not be tolerated. We know this is coming. Approaches of receiving nations and places of refugia must be underpinned by empathy, compassion and altruism in order to ward off ripples of discontent and conflict on all sides and into the future. Collaborative thought and time needs to be given to this problem in preparedness, and we all need to start the process now.

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Peregrine, The Gleam

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A female Peregrine Falcon (left) and a male Peregrine Falcon (right)
Photo via http://www.earthrangers.com

A poem on raptorcide and sub-men.

Dark bronze, and Gleam,
Her eye is weaponry
threaded to claw
with naked hunger.

Peregrine seeks no thrill
into swift death.
Time condenses,
She knows her kill.

Chick to mother, quick arrow
Falconess like no human could.
She lives true, sharp, devoted.
She lives flow, inside her prey.

Clean, cold river, her new matter
Mothered in cliffs next the woods.
Or high church and college tower,
Her slate-sea full of pigeon-fish.

Sub-men, stood in dirt-huddle.
Pints, pocket cash, all red-eared.
Losing their mascuginity for money
On moors, the smell of four by fours.

Throb the metal, impiety
To sanguimund, illiterate in life-love.
Lay down their poison baits
And tax her for a trophy.

Nitrogliss-misborn, hey you.
You do not hunt, you thieve.
Death-blood drunk, thief-scum,
Be empty, for that’s all you are.

Shot in mid dive, her gleam fades.
The rocks hit with light bone, feather.
And for nothing. And the welkin
Bleeds for her mind, as I do now.

Peregrine, she knew real kill-grace.
She knew the hunt, like home.
You, the sub-man, you know nothing.
She is beauty, The Gleam.

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by Ginny Battson 2017

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A Tail for Samhain

 

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As a small child, before bed, I would sit on the fourth tread of our green carpeted stairs and gaze up at the hill through an old sash window. Along the ridge-top was a big, dark eyebrow shape, solid against a moving sky. I’d scan the darkness below for an eye, another, tracing a full face from low-lit cottages and steep leas. My childhood was full of these matter-imaginings.

One late Halloween, my mother found me and warned me to go to bed. If I didn’t listen, the witches would fly down from those trees and take me to their coven. If this should happen, there would be nothing she could do to help. I would be lost for good.

Instead of fear, I felt excitement. What was a coven? I needed to know. My mother sighed and we climbed the stairs towards my room. What would it feel like to fly? What would this witch look like? And, importantly, would there be a magic black cat, with flame-orange eyes and tail for a wand? I got into bed with a kiss from my mother and stared at closed curtains, flying witches filling the night beyond.

As I grew older, still quite small ~ smaller than would be allowed these days ~ I’d climb the hill alone to look for witches beneath those towering trees. I’d seat myself on my coat by a soft, green lane and wait in great expectation. But the witches never showed and neither did the cat.

Sometimes, a gust would whistle through, as if from nowhere. And the leaves and my long hair, would chop like a restless sea. After a few hours, the trees themselves felt like friends, each individual and treasured by me. I imagined them as Tolkienish ents, limbs around each other, gathered in moot for great messages to be sent through the winds to all other trees.

I couldn’t touch their gnarled, crackled bark, because they were growing from an overgrown hedge full of hedghogs and berries. But I knew their skin well, and would recognise it forever more ~ Black Poplar.

One day, there was a violent storm, with a full suite of gale, rain, thunder and lightning. I sat on on my stairs and gazed again through imperfect glass. The familiar shape of the entmoot had altered. There were gaps, and it was is as if my whole childhood had turned on a sixpence. The familiar, the obliquely safe, my friendships had fractured, and I felt rocked. I ran to my parents in the kitchen ~ did they know what had happened? My father came to my window and peered through the glass.

“Wind-throw, the storm must have brought them down,” and he calmly returned to his newspaper.

But my life had changed for good, never to be the same. I couldn’t understand why no-one else felt as I did.

Over the next few years, chainsaws took others. These wise old ents were weak without the limbs of each other. All were now gone, and along with them, my hope of finding the witches and cat. I rushed up the steep lanes and spoke to the men who took the last trees. As they threw dead poplar into their trailers, I asked them why the trees were felled. “Unsafe,” they murmured, not wishing to engage any further.

And that was it. I kept walking, angry under steam. No-one had thought to ask me. These were my tree-people. I loved and longed for them. It was real pain. This little girl receded and vanished, along with the trees ~ one large step beyond the age of innocence.

“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” Hermann Hesse, Bäume.

I still have the memories of the trees and of my little-girl-self. I remember the sash window and the vivid green carpet of the stairs. Somewhere in my mind there are even the witches, their faces and hands. All now exist, entwined, seemingly more real than real. Maybe the cat, brought on a gust of wind, had swished his magic tail after all.

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Photo via Wallpaperwide.com

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Onto a Vast Plain, Rilke

 

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Isle of Lewis, by me.

“You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.”


Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows’ translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours

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A Short Tweeterie on Wellbeing

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My daughter at WWT Rain Garden, London. Photo by me.

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(to be read bottom-upwards)

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Esranebulous

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I have not found a word to describe the uncanny light as a result of carbon atoms from the deaths of a living forest, dust and cloud originating in Iberia, drifting across Europe, pulled by unusual storm forces. The continental nature of the disturbance invited me to look at proto indo-european roots to form such a word.

This is what I have found ~

blood cloud/haze / esr nebhis

So, I offer the word esranebulous.

Ghostlight of the Anthropocene. I hope such a word would not have to be used often.

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