Friday, 2 January 2009

"The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. It was a saying about noble figures in old Irish poems-he would give his hawk to any man that asked for it, yet he loved his hawk better than men nowadays love their bride of tommorow. He would mourn a dog with more grief than men nowadays mourn their fathers.

Ted Hughes (letter to son, Nicholas Hughes)

Strong words as we warily eye up another year i think.I hope most of us survived the birthing tunnel into 2009. RIP Harold Pinter, you cantankerous and beautiful Lion.

Best record of 2008: 'Snow has Fallen' By Timothy Young and Yata Peinovich. This brave piece of work can be heard and bought at

Don't get me started on best books-actually, most of what i'm reading is about 1500 years old, so i may not be the best up-to the minute judge. I loved Blys Hauge translations 'The Dream We Carry: Selected and last Poems of Olav H. Hauge', and am belatedly checking out 'District and Circle' by Seamus Heaney (2006). I loved his Beowulf translation, although Thomas R. Smith reckons it is a little over laboured and clunky. Heinrich Zimmer was also a joy- a playful introduction to mythological thinking-not heavy handed. I'm hoping that we get the second offering by that rapscalion of humming ink Jay Leeming in 2009.

In a Minnesotan cabin back in October, Daniel Deardorff produced a 16 yr old bottle of Lagavulin, therby ruining me for any other whisky. The double barrel Balvenie is forgotten, even the mighty Laphroaig has retreated into the shadows.At £38 a bottle, it's a little rich for my purse, but anyone that can get it at trade please drop me a line. Tipple of the year, any year in fact-ideal surroundings the Pub in Holne (local reference)in that dark, woodlined corner by the fire, or the Toby Norris hostelry in Stamford, Lincolnshire.£5 a glass at christmas! I almost fell off my stool.

Before i fly woefully off subject, i thought i'd just throw in an image from the old country. I just sketch it out-please bulk it out with your own visioning and see where it takes you.

The Sow, The Meat, The Bard, The Eagle.
Nestled into the Mabinogion is a story that involves a sow snuffling for nourishment. She finds scraps of meat at the bottom of a Oak tree, dropped there by a wounded eagle that is in its higher branches. Gwydion of the magic harp, following the sows trail, suspects that this eagle is in fact Lleu Llaw Gyffes, a semi-mystical character in another shape. When Gwydion incantates magical verse, sure enough, the eagle descends, is healed by Gwydion and takes on his rightful form as Lleu, and leaves as a King. So one simple association from this extraordinary scene is this: nourishment is available between this world and the myth-world if we get to a tree of knowledge, what I would call a 'Lightning Tree'. At this axis, meat falls from God-claws into the hungry mouth of the human. But there is a further step. Something in the Otherworld requires healing from this one, that there is an exchange. The word-magic of Gwydion calls healing into the Otherworld, tends wounds, smoothes feathers, creates a transformation. I doubt bellowing up at the tree for the eagle to 'come down this instant! reveal yourself!' would have much affect. There is implication of relationship and the poetic tongue as a two lane highway between worlds. This is the tongue to cultivate to really drink down the moon.
An alarming detail is that the meat is rotten, that there is a sickness in it. The milk we offer up in exchange can be just as curdled. Gwydions poetic tongue is a restorer of this festering situation, a two lane highway between worlds-and from that we take both hope and education. What sickening meat are our wounded inner Gods and Goddesses dropping to get our attention? How do we make strong milk?

The photo above was taken on the North West Coast 18 months ago-the area where they used to film 'Northern Exposure'. Quite a road trip-teaching all the way from New Mexico to just below Canada. So here's to 2009-its outstanding views, peaks and vales, spirit and soul.
M x

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