Madly singing in the Peaks

Monday 23rd March

Out on the top of the moor there are two strange looking buildings. There are no paths to take you there, so after a long spell of lying in the heather and watching the clouds, I went out to get a closer look. I think one of them is a shepherd’s shelter but the other one is a grim, castellated affair, like something from the Lord of the Rings. Inside there is a huge well-like opening and from deep in the underworld, the sound of some great engine drifts up through the shaft. Occasionally smoke rises, I kid you not! It is so remote from anywhere that is is a disturbing sight and I wondered if I threw a stone down, would I be overrun with orcs and goblins? It made think about how little wildness is left in the world and in ourselves. We have become obedient, mute, tame and subdued. The smallest disturbances can cause outrage in the media, and we all join in like startled blackbirds.

Our current fear is the virus, and society is organising itself around that, and rightly so. But what is the meaning of the virus? And if we weren’t thinking about the virus, what would we be thinking about, and what were we thinking about before? What thoughts are we avoiding? The problem is not that we have fear of a pandemic. The problem is that we have fear of the wrong things.

Current civilisation would have us believe that we are the creators of our own individual lives but most of us are folded, rigid and dreamless. We are out of touch with Great Life, or God, Expansion or whatever you call it, and we have been running our lives like a one wo-man show. Nature has been burning us, drowning us and hurling the odd hurricane, but we just pick ourselves up and continue as we were, poisoning, warring and polluting. Now we are having an experience of descent, a time of darkness and loss where we are powerless against an invisible agent of death. We are confined, restricted and in a place of poverty of soul which could be summed us as the denuding experience we have as we approach death.

If you have ever had a brush with death, you will know that it can be very clarifying as you become aware of what you really love, and what is of value. You may be assaulted with regret, but you will also realise how beautiful the world is and how a patch of small weeds growing at the bottom of a fence can be transfigured with beauty.

In mythic terms we are all in that deep well, isolated on the moor and down in the underworld. We are experiencing a global rite of passage as we are forced to take actions not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all. Our spirits and souls are naturally wild and free and for generations they have been clamouring to grow and transform. Yes it is a frightening time, but when our thoughts overwhelm us, and when we feel abandoned and alone, know also that this dark path is transforming us and nothing will ever be the same again. You are not being called to sing a whole symphony, only to find your own note, and out of the darkness, sing it with all your heart.

Madly singing in the Peaks

Saturday 21st March 2020

The Pathless Path
Today I set out walking without a map because it can be very distracting, so I kept to a well trodden path, meaning I was unlikely to get lost but also meaning there were other people around. Having a wee in these circumstances can be fraught with embarassment and so it was today. I could see no walkers anywhere on the path so I nipped round a dry stone wall and bared my white, winter bottom to the world. Almost immediately I heard voices but by then I was in full flow. A group of bikers were rattling along the rutted path, and it was only because they were concentrating on avoiding the rocks that they didn’t see me crouching with my trousers round my ankles and the wind blowing round my dazzling cheeks.The wind is brutal here and I heard, that because of climate change, there is more wind in the world. “The answer, my dear, is blowin in the wind”.

After an hour I left the path to climb to the top of a hill, and phrases I had heard recently kept drifting into my mind: “we are in uncharted waters”, “unprecedented times”, and “tipping points”, all indicators that we have reached some kind of crisis. The root of the word comes from the Greek, “krisis” meaning ‘decision’ It also denotes the turning point of a disease and I thought about how our Mother Earth is heating up and at the same time, we too are fevered with virus. This is only a coincidence if you live in a one dimensional world, but to my mind, I saw maps of the world where the corona virus is extending its domain, and this thought reminded me of the maps of Australia on fire. Fever and burning everywhere. What decision needs to be made?

I got up the hill, panting and sweating and, as all walkers know, there was as yet another summit beyond, but I’d had enough for the time being and nestled into a rocky crevice to be out of the brunt wind and eat an orange. The analogy of a further summit was not lost on me. Just when we thought that climate change was enough, we are hit with a pandemic. Will we ever reach the summit?

In all the great wisdom traditions, if you are following them fully, you will reach a place where there are no more footprints to follow. The map that your church or group navigate by, can no longer lead you any further and you have to set out into uncharted waters alone. It is an experience of the disintegration of your small ego self, and here you learn that if you want a greater experience of Life, God, The Divine, call it what you will, you will first have an experience of breaking apart. I am seeing this happening among so many of my friends. It may be that as we approach a time of endings, we are wondering if this small life we have made for ourselves is sufficient. Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

So we can brace ourselves to endure or we can open all the doors and windows of our souls and let life fly in and out of every dusty corner. This breaking, changing and coming to terms with the meagreness of our lives is happening both personally and globally.

From my  friend Tony Galendes:
WORLD: There is no way we can shut everything down, lower carbon emissions, and protect the environment.
MOTHER NATURE: Here’s a virus. Practice.

Change is coming whether we like it or not, and how we experience it will be up to us, but don’t you feel, deep in your bones that your calling and destiny is so much greater than the way we have been living? Don’t you feel an exultant wildness bursting out around the edges of your being? I would rather die a premature death living in these mythic and wild times, than continue to old age, living like a zombie consumer in the corporate industrial shadow.

The Horizon
You do not choose to be broken.
You do not choose to lose what you wanted to love.
When the road you have travelled is wholly lost,
stand still, the horizon will beckon you.

You may remain safe,
you may stay in the place you have never left,
because you wouldn’t risk yourself.
You can endlessy start over, take the same path over and over.
But taking the journey and losing the path
means you’re going a new way.
When you’re lost, stand still, the horizon will beckon you.

Then one day you will realise that the way you came is your path,
and you will stand in the splendour of not knowing
but the horizon will always beckon you.

Madly singing in the Peaks

Friday 20th March 2020

It is day 4 of my self imposed solitary time in the Derbyshire Peaks and today I saw a very strange sight. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing until I got very close. A sheep was lying on her back, waving her legs about in the air. I wondered if she was close to lambing and having given birth 3 times myself, knew her chosen position wasn’t going to ease her delivery, so I climbed the dry stone wall, vaulted the barbed wire and started singing. It may seem like an odd thing to do but I didn’t want to scare her. As I approached she panicked and began kicking furiously and no amount of writhing would make her upright. I grabbed her fleece, hauled her over, she staggered to her feet and ran away as fast as her wobbly legs would carry her.

It feels strange to be away from the world, and I do feel as if I am on another planet, watching the unfolding of a pandemic from a distance. I know I have to come back and part of me wants to return immediately but distance gives a different perspective. On Tuesday I was lost on the moor in the fading light and I was rescued by a shepherd and taken back to my car in his van. In biblical times, if there was a sheep who kept wandering away, the shepherd would damage one of its legs to keep it close and save it from being eaten by a predator. Suffering for the sake of saving. Isn’t is strange that now we have stopped so much human activity, the pollution levels have dropped, people are reaching out to support each other and families are coming together. The Earth is healing. Suddenly we are looking in directions that do not satisfy the cruel task master of consumption and capital growth. All movement is ceasing and life has changed in the blink of an eye. I am not rejoicing in a pandemic and I don’t want anyone to die, but I thought nothing would ever bring to an end the destruction that humans were inflicting on the planet. Here is an invisible life form, stalking us without discriminating between rich and poor, black or white, straight or gay. Like my upside down sheep we are all feeling completely disorientated. My antidote is singing, dancing, drumming and dreaming. If we can’t first imagine a new world, it will never happen. I wish you great peace in the midst of the maelstrom. xxx

Madly singing in the Peaks.

Thursday 19th March 2020

Today was not what I had in mind. I had to forgo the walking because the electricity here is not the right kind of electricity apparently, to charge my car, so I had to drive to Barnsley. There were cars waiting to charge, which is very unusual but it gave me an insight into the “real” world. I think the real world is walking in the hills, among the trees, beneath the buzzards, arching in the wind and walking on the stones that have a deep consciousness unlike our own. All these things that are oblivious to us humans, who are weighed down with forethought of suffering. People had collected their young ones from univeristy or were going to collect them, and I suddenly thought, I too have a person at university. Why have I not troubled myself about him? What kind of a mother am I? And then I remembered what kind of sons I have. Strong independent and well able to contact me if and when they want me. But I did phone my eldest son when I got back and he does want to come home. It was a joy to talk to him. Sainsbury’s has been cleared out he told me, of wine. And I had a moment of shopping panic. No wine?

We talked about what we will do with weeks together in isolation, two sons, their girlfriends and my partner, Andy. And soon we felt very excited about digging over the vegetable patch, cutting hedges and grass and making things with bones and leather. It is high time we made some drums and there is a deer skin in the freezer from a road kill deer we picked up at christmas. Suddenly isolation seemed less pandemic and more pandemonium. In a good way. But how will I feed six people I wonder. Perhaps we will drive around at night and pick up the road kill, or go skip diving behind waitrose.

So my silence has been broken today and I will return to the dry stone walls tomorrow, and press my ear to the earth and see what it has to tell me. I have come away without shampoo and was looking rather feral, so I braved a Spa shop and bought a crusty roll while I was there.

It is very interesting that everyone, including myself, thinks that we are somehow above the masses who are panic shopping and over-reacting to the CV crisis. I’m not like them, we think. We are so individualistic, in our knee jerk reactions and our superiority.

It would be true to say we are living in mythic times, times that will be analysed and recorded in history (if we survive). The balance of the domination of the masculine principle is turning, and we are moving back into an era where the feminine, earthy more sensate world is flourishing. Back to the earth, back to the waters, birds and trees. Back to sweat and labour, real sex, real food, and getting out of our heads and into our bodies. Whew! At last. And if you are not already there it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I hope you enjoy it.

Meanwhile, if you can’t get out, I am available to shop for you. If you want a chat, please call or a walk, as long as we stay 2 meters apart. Lots of love to you dear friends. Stay out of your head. It can be a troublesome place. xxx