Cavignus ~ A midsummer gift.

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My word for this midsummer’s day, when our star is strong in the Northern Hemisphere.

Sunshine penetrates the deepest hollows in trees, earth, rivers and rockpools. And with the moving shadows of leaves, birds and fish, the light dances like a sacred flame.

 

This word is my gift to

Thank you for introducing tweavelets to your readers of Landmarks. Ginny.

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Avumbra

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Sanguimund

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Ginny Battson © 2012

(adjective)

Examples ~

As I walk through the sanguimund woodland…

I am open to the sanguimund as I gaze along the coastal margins.

The sanguimund of this city is hope for the future.

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Devotion, life.

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Ginny Battson © 2017

Today, I observed the most intimate union between flower and fly, what we might call the process of cross-pollination, though the words ‘process’ and ‘pollination’ are remarkably poor in communicating the magnificence of what I saw.

Here am I, a giant voyeur, standing in a rhos meadow bristling with life, overwhelmed by curiosity for the behaviour of another. I lean slowly over the scene in hope that I will not disturb.

She, the hover-fly, of the species Rhingia campestris, caught my eye elsewhere, her winged-iridescence registering on my retinal cells with luminosity and grace. My brain is stimulated, deep furrows of experience over decades, to follow her movement through the air. She alights on the signal of a freshly unfurled yellow flag sepal, glowing in full sun. And I am rewarded.

A sense of kinship consumes me. My emotional and rational responses are inseparable. I can’t help but smile.

For a moment, I try to imagine being her, with a conscious detachment from my own sense of self. It’s not easy. I absorb the scale of the huge arc of yellow surrounding me, and the touch of the cool epidermis cells beneath my padded, clawed feet. I carry a few dimpled pollen grains on my back, brushed on by an anther from another iris. They don’t disturb me too much, I’ll maybe flick them away later.

I give up imagining and just observe.

I remember what happened next, as if ripples of sensuous energy are still flowing out from the event and enveloping me. This little hover-fly chose to raise her front legs to the iris anthers, and place her tiny feet on the pollen. She was looking intensely at what she was doing, her long proboscis extending to consume what she had found. The intimacy was so gentle, so loving, a touch that we may not even acknowledge could exist without either imagination or technology. I can only describe it as pure devotion. She spends time, very slowly for a vulnerable fly, exuding devotion.

I can hear the cynical chatter. But yes. Why not?

Her senses are way more luxuriant than our own, her feet are also tongues, with added chemoreceptors enabling her to both touch and taste her protein-rich food. She licks and savours every crum, an evolutionary calling to eat and be healthy.

Chemical molecules from the pollen have contacted her dendrite and neuron cells, sending electrical impulses, like waves, through her nervous system to her brain. She then directs muscles to take action, gently extending her proboscis and salivating to feed. With her soft mouthparts, labella, like two grooved sponges, she soaks nutrition up and into her esophagus. Like us, she enjoys it very much, her reward centres lighting up in her brain. All the while, her eggs will be nourished inside her to be laid in number for the few to flourish.

There’s more. This is the symbiosis of flora and fauna, a miraculous relationship going back fifty million years. Gifts of food are exchanged for sexual reproduction. And it happens every moment of every day, across the globe. Eros lives, and thank goodness for it. I have a basic understanding of the overall sequence of events, but I cannot sense the quantum scale, the electrical depolarisation of atoms in order for cells to communicate. I just have to imagine it, trusting in the science learned from others. Does the fly sense the quantum? She might. If there are beings on this Earth that do,without tools and devices, then they are indeed miraculous and we should refrain from blasting them with toxic sprays in the meanwhile.

The pollen, flower-sperm, on Rhingia c’s back from another flower’s anther will rub against the sticky stigma lip under the petal, as she reaches deeper and deeper for pollen. From this point, germination begins and the microscopic process of double fertilisation is set in motion. More quantum changes are underway.

The quantum and the cosmological, flows of matter and other phenomenon between beings in the Ghedeist, the complex flows of light, water, nutrition, cows, cow pats, neurological electrical impulse, imagination, Rhingia c, cross-pollination, yellow flag, flight, quantum, cosmos, renewal, death… this is the fluminist’s altar. We humans are not the creators. This is the miracle of life itself.

But we have exerted huge and irreversible pressures on this magnificence. We scavenge and parasitise by feeding from the produce of this sublime process, amongst others, but it is the flower and the insect who have evolved together over millions of years in this devoted union. We may well be causing other unions in our ignorance, which may take hundreds of thousands of years to fully take shape. But the fly and the flower exist now. We need to respect them and leave them in peace. We’ve destroyed much, and it has to stop. A critical mass of devotion is needed, previously unknown in human history, as there are now more humans than ever before.

There is even more ~ the trophic function of the flower and the fly. Rhingia c, and even her larvae growing and feeding in cow dung nearby, will also be food for other species. Her existence and death mean they too are able to exist. The illusive spotted flycatcher has flown all the way from Africa to rear her young here and my hover-fly may well end up in their devoted beaks. This devotion, the love for life and living, is a powerful force. There is no doubt in my mind that there would be no life without it. It is ancient ~ a form of love so powerful as to energise evolution. I imagine the story lies deep in the earliest records of life, somewhere, tucked away perhaps, in stromatolites, which supplied Earth with no less than oxygen itself. Colossal devotion must have existed in the face of all hostility and, as a metabolising strength, within and between us now, and of all living beings into the future. As we move into increasingly turbulent times, the union of the flower and the fly is a devotion of incalculable value, a love, I suggest, worthy of the deepest respect and celebration.

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Words and Phrases to avoid moral accountability in human/non-human relationships ~ contributions via Twitter, with thanks.

Language is power. Observe meanings and misrepresentations.

Please feel free to contribute.

via @FindNatureNow “There’s a deceptive style of ‘code talk’ that’s become pervasive in US government re: treatment of wildlife. It’s the psychology of attempting to increase a false ‘public acceptance’ of the blatant mistreatment and abuse of wildlife. Important topic!”

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To Earth, my daughter.

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Paintings of wild animals and hand markings left by adults and children on Sulawesi cave walls, Indonesia, at least 35,000 years old, some of the oldest artworks known. Photo: Maxime Aubert, Griffith University 2014 – do click on the image for more information.

 

For a while, I think of Earth not as mother but as my child. She’s my daughter, the one I love most, though we are mirrors. Our hands lay upon the cave walls. Ochre, stardust, DNA.

Work in progress…

~~~

I gift my deep love to you, unconditionally. I show you love by the things I do. From the beginning, we respect one another and reciprocate all.

I care for you in the best ways I know. Life is a continuous search for those ways, especially in this era of human artificalis.

Ask me questions and I’ll try to answer them. If I have no answers, I’ll say. Perhaps, we’ll discover those answers together. Or we’ll enjoy trying. We’ll laugh at the impossibilities.

You’ll make mistakes, often the best way to learn. I too make mistakes, often. I’ll admit when I’m wrong, and you’ll have my apologies.

I will lavish my time upon you, and be generous in your freedom. When you’re sick, I’ll tend to you and do all I can to make you better.

I give you my strength to move through uncertainty, and my resolve to find solutions to problems. It is normal to feel scared. But come to me when you know you need help. I will do all I can for you.

We will share memories and stories, and form new ones together. There is pain between us, we live it like a question. And then there is forgiveness.

I pay attention to you, no matter what I am doing. I listen to you for who you are, not who I think you should be. I’m here for you for as long as there’s breath in my body, and beyond. I embrace you.

I am not jealous but gratified by all your great loves and friendships. I learn from you.

There are many lives interconnected with you, and with multiple values, perspectives, senses and ideals. I accept that you have your beliefs, come what may, so long as you are safe. For it is my job to keep you safe…

~~~~~~~~

With thanks to Gracie, my daughter, for her valued input. x

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Great Pond Mountain

Sound of the Whip-Poor-Will via The Macaulay Library

My baby lay on a rainbow rug on a granite summit, the cells of her new born skin shimmering in the Maine sun. Big Fall skies stretched bands of cloud to streamers, whilst hundreds of acres of clear-fell and regenerating forest rolled atop the undulations below us. A few passerines flitted high in the cerulean, like moths.

I gazed deep into Gracie’s brown eyes and watched as she absorbed my animated mouthing of words … ‘big blue sky’, ‘clouds’, ‘birds’. She looked up into the air, kicked her legs and returned her gaze to me. I smiled, packed her changing things away into a shoulder bag and scooped her up into my arms to face the vista. We danced to a silent rhythm, as parents and their children so often do, and she regained her sense of up and down. The gentle arch of Earth’s distant horizon burned into our memory cells.

And then, with a few tentative steps to avoid the oldest of lichens healing this bald mountain, we joined new friends for the return hike. As we made our way downwards, the sky turned slate with encroaching night and stained black the few blueberries left uneaten by bears on the path. What’s more, as we returned to the car, I think we heard the lament of a distant whip-poor-will. I am not entirely sure. It is humbling that some things will always remain a beautiful and affecting mystery. Gracie heard it too, turning to the sky to look for a bird. Connections had been made.

Great Pond Mountain was a grand moment in the small scheme of things, a quintessential mother-daughter bonding in fresh air and crystal light. I’m sure my daughter had noticed birds before in her short few weeks thus far, but their presence in that particular sky, above that particular mountain, I’d like to imagine, is the moment she discovered life as interconnected ~ we, the sky, birds and love.

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Alive

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My whole body shook, I had no control over the waves of anxiety. By now, I could barely speak. Three months since finding my mother, I’d experienced little sleep. I’d experienced a few scorching, electrified dreams, and a torrent of subconscious triggers. My world had warped out of shape. As a mother, I felt I was failing, and the guilt was exacerbating all. Dialectic drugs at once dazzled me and felled me. Mirtazapine, diazepam, zopiclone, temazepam. Nothing was healing my head, all just making me sick.

My relatives soon left, and I was left alone in a bedroom, staring down at my own convulsing body as if it did not belong to me. In this sudden solitude, I realised the need to surrender to the wisdom of others. I had reached out for help and needed to trust someone, something.

To that point, the vision of my little girl had saved me. She was the last connection with the world beyond my fucked-up limbic system. I had dissociated with all else. I needed to heal for her. The state of play between my mother and me on my knees that mid summer’s day in 2008 was proof enough. But the idea was also suffocating…no quick escape for me.

So after two days and nights of being nursed, a little food and the desperation to take new drugs to sleep, I was ready to see my psychiatrist. He was a specialist in EMDR for the treatment of post traumatic stress. He was the reason I had come.

I moved slowly, still trembling, down the winding stairs and into the lobby, only to cower beneath Tudor beams, like bare Winter branches, in disbelief. Dr Kidd appeared, professional, suited and with a dark red tie, balding. He smiled courteously.

“Virginia?”

“Ginny.” I murmured, and smiled back as best I could.

He ushered me into a windowless library. A nurse matierialized to take my obs and vanished just as quickly. Dr Kidd invited me to sit whilst he briefly spoke of his biography, and then he outlined the case for using EMDR with me. He glanced at my quivvering body.

And then he came and held my hand.

“Close your eyes, trust me,” he ventured. I did so, surrendering.

“Imagine you are in a place of unique safety. Conjure it in your mind. Somewhere you may have been, or never at all. Somewhere you feel at peace.”

My mind was still assimilating the new environs, still reeling about the beams ~ oak panels, books on the shelves, tungsten light, elegant wood and velvet dining chairs. A new man’s face. I felt self-conscious about my shakes and tried to quell them, but to no avail. I breathed in and closed my eyes. I instantly saw my mother, dead, and opened my eyes again, startled. Dr Kidd gripped my hand tightly, and urged me to close my eyes once more.

After a while, through tears, I managed to focus on something other than my mother’s ghost. A sound in my mind, the gentle lapping of ocean waves on a sandy beach.

“Where are you Ginny?”

“I am at the beach.” I uttered with a dry, sticky mouth.

“Who or what do you see?”

I paused for quite a while, trying to focus.

There was light. Bright sunshine burned at my skin. A turquoise bay opened up, devoid of humans, tropical vegetation bristling on the hinterland, white sands and limestone rock. I felt my knees tighten as I crouched on a wide ledge peering into the shallows beneath. They were teeming with small silver fish, darting here and there, shimmering in the sunlit photic zone. I observed. Then the moment was gone, memories formed of an imagined state of peace.

So I told my doctor, and he returned to his chair. He pondered for a moment, with his pen touching his lips.

“I am not too worried about you, Ginny.”

“I’ve never been to the tropics.” I replied, bemused. I had felt on the edge of death.

“You love life.” He smiled, I listened.

“Most people I see at this stage do not see much light. These silver fish… they are darting about, glinting in the sun, alive. They are your love for life. Most people, again, would not imagine living things at this point after trauma. This is my experience. I am not too worried about you, Ginny. But I know we have much work to do.”

We did work together and built up trust over the next few weeks. It was exhausting, a shift from living in the constant presence of my mother’s dead body, and in the place where she died, to understanding it was all in the past and I was no longer a part of the scene. I also came to terms with the repressive guilt, so common in survivors of suicide, and I learned to sleep soundly again, unaided. It was a life-joy to return to my daughter as a functioning and doting Mum.

But these shoals of silver fish were a turning point. A few seconds of time, imagined  many years ago. They were fictional beings and a made-up coastline. Today, the memory and significance of them seems as cogent as ever. I wanted to share them with you. And I want to share them with my daughter.

Darting about, glinting in the sun, alive.

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The Wilderness

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Terra-UK is one of the most densely populated land areas in the world. The concept of wilderness seems overly ambitious here upon our heavily burdened soils. We are sold as such a well-groomed and culturally domesticated species, at least in public, and it’s way too fashionable to tame our surroundings to a sparkling manicure. We even wash our soils down with pesticides to scrub away the wild. Every last square inch of land is property ~ accounted for and stewarded. Markets induce us to gaze upon all through neoliberal-tinted specs. Always questions of economic materialism… how does this land earn its keep? For how much will it eventually sell? How much can we pay each other for the servitude of non-human life in our stewardship? Earth is bounded and fenced, like our own mortal souls. Some now legitimately question whether there is any wilderness left at all.

Men, more often than not, have influenced the form and patterns assumed of wilderness. Women’s thoughts are less frequently aired. The why’s and the wherefore’s aside, this should never have been so. More briefly, I offer my own interpretations, and I would invite more women to contribute.

In my country, wild kin have learned to be afraid of me, and with good reason. As friendly as I try to be, my physical form represents danger and threat. The British countryside has not been sanctuary for non-human life. Huge declines in wildlife populations, extinctions and extirpations silently scream of the havoc we have caused, and significantly in the last few decades. We’ve halved the numbers of native vertebrates. Invertebrate biodiversity has plummeted. Traumas are inherited, a genetic overspill of shock, from one generation to another. Human dominion has spawned multiple genetic threads of fear and distrust. It would take much to win back this trust, especially as it may never have entirely existed. There are a rare few who gain the confidence of our non-human kin, and in their kindnesses, they are blessed and ought to be celebrated.

I do think there are remnants of wilderness, but at multiple scales. To a Violet Oil Beetle, the woodland glade is truly vast. To a Wandering Albatross, the Southern Ocean is just big enough. We have imaginations to envisage degrees of relativity. For me, wilderness is more a mental state ~ to feel wild is to experience and imagine, a complex matrix of perceived belonging (or a perception of loss). No matter what scale it presents itself, wilderness is where I come home, not somewhere I glance a visit. Moreover, my moral community extends way beyond the human, so non-humans are my kin ~ storge-love at its most tender and powerful.

There are several false premises when it comes to word-fusing “wilderness.” Some perceive it is a place inherently untouched by human hand. Yet science informs us that the Anthropocene touches all by a layer of our own techno-fossils and radionuclides. Go back. Wilderness is all about non-human life and we are outlanders? How can this be so, when we share the Earth with all biota. We are part of nature, not separate. Our presence in the wilderness ~ ourselves being wilder ~ means we can never truly be strangers. Go back.

Beasts who dwell in the wild are angry and hostile. If we dare to step deep into their realms, we become victims ~ so we mentally retaliate, sometimes before we even arrive. These thoughts manifest in all manner of ways, from the hunter’s gun to the conservator’s axe. Go in, but go prepared, SAS-style. In the Canadian Rockies or the oceans off South Africa, I realise I am more exposed to the brutalities of the food chains. But if I use all my senses, and move with a pace and frame befitting a respect for my kin, I can truly feel alive. It becomes a question of adopted endemism, a life’s process and no instant knowing, guided and mentored by skilful others one trusts and loves. There’s no war in an angry grizzly separated from her cubs, or a venomous snake simply protecting his life. Wild things are not our enemies. They are simply surviving. So we need to act with respect and care in this shared dwelling ~ the biosphere. They teach us natural boundaries, respect in all we do. Indigenous humans know this with intimacy and their culture is crafted in the skills of living (and dying). I guess they learned the hard way. All must do the same. Go back.

Finally, the wilderness is depicted as an otherwise barren place, a neglected sphere of empty desolation. It’s where we can all go, to test ourselves, to take our medicine, to seek mental victories, or fail and find our limits. Jesus went to fight temptation. But the wilderness is a dynamic and complex community first, billions of years in the making. Wild lives are interconnected, from the microbes and mycelium to the kauri trees and blue whales. Belonging is vital, and from which all flows. Learning to understand its languages, natural laws and song, Earth’s opus, is perhaps integral to something bigger than the sum of all parts ~ the Ghedeist. Yes, there is danger, doom and even death. But there is also light, as in life. Individuals matter, fluminism between all a process worthy of fierce protection. Go to the wild and you are never alone. There you will find, implicit in existence, rapturous life, passionate love, and all kinds ways to die. A wild death ~ the biological penumbra to the light-eclipse of being. The dead give life to others. Love and trauma are dihedrals in space-time ~ life begets life, yet all things pass. Far from being systems of aimless chaos, wilderness, in the individual, species biodiversity and interconnectedness, maintains a dignity and a grace.

A premise close to my own truth is that the wilderness has an aesthetic (or many), which transcends rationality. It is certainly more than ‘ease on the eye’. This truth is not that seen by an outsider ~ the painter, photographer or even poet. Their own work may be beautiful, but the truth of wilderness, instead, is the affection perceived by the lion of his pride or the pika of her purple willow herb. It is the sunlight reflected in a man’s eye as he watches his daughter climb a tree. It is the totality of the dynamic function of the living community and a pure ecophony of home.

To me, our engineered constructions are largely alien to the majority of our kin. There are some survivors, adapters, and even they are persecuted for their success, as pests. Perhaps, if the wild things truly joined us, the cities would crack under the weight of all, and those processes lost to concrete and tar would surface again and all will be well. The anarchy of love may bubble up in the same way.

But to be truly free is the choice to set one’s own limits. You can be wild and self-disciplined. I have experienced fractured moments of a feeling of freedom at certain points in life, basking on the rocks beside the River Wye in high Summer until I choose to leave, or feeling the lift from my paragliding canopy, pulling me high above the Black Mountains until I decide when and where to land. More importantly, I try to act with care, the consequences of my actions assessed for any future adjustments necessary. In real terms, my freedoms have been more of a fleeting emotion than of clear rationality. Mostly, I feel I am a good girl who should stick to the rules, but I do trespass in libertarian forays through wilder corners and canyons. To be wild these days requires a free heart and a very determined mind, but I do so wish there were fewer fences.

Back in Terra-UK, the greater our number, the greater pressure on remaining acreage to supply our needs, and the competition is fierce to possess and steward. The greater our number, the heavier the weight of Law presses down. Our innate freedoms are contained by order, the concession we make for a quieter, less violent life. In law abiding adhesiveness, society is managed and said to progress. But The Law is just another human construct, socially and politically malleable, some might even say culturally arbitrary, and not always founded upon morality or natural justice.

There’s a self governance to the wilderness which is laudable, and I think we need to participate. We can curtail our greed and limit our numbers. Above all, we may return to this mental state to find our kin and earn their trust. There is truth in our belonging ~ a beautiful Ghedeistual love. And, what’s more, I dare to call the wilderness my home.

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Planet Valens

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Oh, the vicissitude of this day as a celebration of love!

From its early roots in paganistic fertility, to the pious diktats of the early Roman Catholic Church and, now, the tacky displays of chocolates and roses in every supermarket, why should we celebrate Valentines at all on 14th February? I adore chocolate (the darker the better), but in all seriousness, for me it is all about the ‘birds and the bees.’

The unofficial Celebrare began, some say, with Julius Caesar reviving an already ancient festival of Lupercalia on the 15th Feburuary, borne from the legend of the great she-wolf, Lupus, suckling the infants Romulus and Remus, eventual founders of Rome. Lupercalia was a time for animal sacrifice, eating and dancing merrily, as well as, according to Plutarch, a day when “many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs.” Women deliberately stood in front of these wilder officiates and, if struck, could look forward to fruitful coitus and a swift labour.

The early Roman Catholics, of course, wished to substitute such debauchery with a more wholesome, puritanical alternative. Pope Gelasius I, in 496, dedicated the 14th day of February to a martyred priest, perhaps he was a bishop, a man very little known even then and we are still none the wiser today. He is said to have married Christian couples at a time when it was against the law, and was imprisoned for refusing to sacrifice to Pagan gods. The legend is that Valentine, through his prayers, healed his jailer’s blind daughter. In a more lasting version of the story, on the day of his execution, he left her a note signed “Your Valentine,” before coming to a very brutal end. The more romantic of us might believe that he fell madly in love with her and gave her a crocus flower as a symbol of his affection. These first flowers of spring are often the first forage of honey bees…St Valentine is also the patron Saint of Bee Keeping! None-the-less, with so little factual evidence of his life, the Roman Catholic Church decided to delete commemoration of him from the Calendarium Romanum in 1969, although he remained on the calendars of local diocese.

Today, to be honest, I choose neither to be struck by a shaggy thong nor to succumb to the growth aspirations of the Board of Tesco. Neither will I be going anywhere near a Church. Instead, I’ll enjoy what I love in the truest sense, the life on this planet for its own sake and, why not, the erotic nature of all that springs in Spring ~ a crucial time in the river of life! I think I’ll sit with the coo-ing doves by the Ely and read again The Parliament of Fowls by Chaucer. The 14th (or the 15th), February is my time to celebrate a phenology, a seasonality, when the birds pick their mates, the bees find their crocuses, and the lengthening days bring me light and joy. In latin, valens means strong, vigorous and healthy. Tonight, I will also dream of life on Planet Valens, of earth and all its interconnected life, the fluminism and all whom I dearly love.

~~~~~~~~~~

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