When winter is an idea and home is where the central heating is; when frost holds no fear for the English wanderer; take the snow and make it your plaything. Forget the empty, useless roads and take joy in being stuck at home. This was as far as we got in the snow- just to the end of the estate, and though it was no far flung adventure our intrepid explorer loved every minute. We’ve all (sensibly) taken a day off work tomorrow and looking at the flakes flying past the window it doesn’t look like we’ll be traveling too far again. But for Nathan, the slightest journey is a walk of wonder in this white and weirdly silent world.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, A Modern Celt, from the chapter examining how prophecy, a theme popular in Celtic stories, is still alive in varying forms today.
“…Does having guidance as to what may be around the corner actually aid us in anyway? Or is it better to deal with things as and when they happen; to react to each situation without any forethought other than that which is given to us by every day events? I spoke to my friend Emma, who is unusual in that she experiences what can only be described as premonitions. For most of her life she has felt changes in herself and her own moods whenever something has been upcoming either in her life or the lives of those close to her or connected to her, but she has little or no control over it. We got together to chat about her unique situation, and I ask her to try and describe what it’s like when she feels something, then that feeling is subsequently followed by an event or occurrence. I immediately realise I am massively simplifying this for Emma; as this conversation progresses, you will see what I mean. This level of connection to a prophetic talent is so subtle yet enormous at the same time, it’s difficult to describe, and having only ever had prophetic dreams myself, and not very often, it’s a feeling I can only experience as an outsider looking in. Emma is thoughtful as I ask her to give me some examples of when this has happened to her, and I feel like I am asking her to use finger paints to show me the Mona Lisa…”
I hope this leaves you wanting more, big thanks to Emma for giving an extremely personal insight into her unique talent; you may have to wait for the book to learn more!
Copyright 2013 Mabh Savage
Why do we say it’s brisk when it’s cold outside?
Brisk; fast, quick, sharp movements. Lively; with vigor.
Is the cold vigorous? Perhaps it more describes us:
Rushing out of the icy air into warm abodes
Breath like fog and eyes sparkling diamonds
In mines of glowing red;
Or speed shuffling shoes sliding over
Slick puddles frozen into deathtraps
That cannot be avoided, only dealt with
Like the krypton factor of winter!
Brisk; panting at the effort
Of climbing the glass mountain
One step forward, two steps not only backwards
But sideways, upwards and all over the place.
Brisk; the hands that shake at 500 hertz
And placed under jumpers next to warm hearts.
But cold makes us slow, makes us clumsy,
And when ice gives way to snow
The whole world seems to dwindle like a tape
Set on to slow-mo; frame by frame
As the soft and dangerous white
Bold and bright
Ancient days and
Of life eternal
As child, as maid
As mother fair.
As soul so heavy
Limp with care.
And dusty trails
In gore and guts;
The viscera of life’s true trials
The lies and laughs
The way and wiles
Of those who tempt
And those you trust
Of what you need
And what you lust.
Now that rut it cuts both ways
A path you built through shining days
A light beside, a glow before: Lead on and find your core.
(c) Mabh Savage 2012
Cloak of hair
Like yarn spun wild
For a coat of dreams
Of war and time
To pass the line
The blood along
Like velvet wine
Lady great and fierce of heart
Builds you up then tears apart
Protect thyself but know her if you can.
(c) Mabh Savage 2012
I write my ending at the beginning; not as pretentious as it sounds, I promise. As we move into a new year (according to the Gregorian calendar) I am in the final stages of my book, A Modern Celt, with a promise to myself and more importantly my publisher to have the beast whipped by Imbolc. Why did I choose this day? Well, Imbolc is all about new beginnings; fresh new starts; fresh young shoots bursting tumescent and hopeful from moist earth; pale, youthful sun hovering over a cloudy horizon; rain and wind cleansing the land and reducing the last of autumn’s fall to compost, ready to feed the new season. I will pass on my offering at this time; my sacrifice of hours and brain power and stiff back and aching eyes and I will give it to the world and wait for it to blossom in the warm sunshine of the beloved reader. Of course I will also be out in the garden tidying and digging, getting ready for the new season in a much more physical and vital way; weeds to banish, seeds to sow; paths to sweep clear. But some paths are ready to be walked upon- may you find your path in 2013, and I wish us all the strength to continue putting one foot in front of the other, as the wheel turns with every spin of our beautiful earth.
So this is the pause: as far as the Earth’s tilt is concerned, here in the Northern hemisphere we’re as far from the sun as can be. The sun set at about 15.30 on a damp but not freezing day, full of consumption and speed and aggravation- in the cities at least. I left this behind. I went to the woods and remembered magic. I touched the oak and felt the sap beating through its wooden veins in anticipation of the returning sun. I felt the birch’s paper bark; scrolls that tell the story of many generations. I sat in front of a tree so old it looks now like a great open hand; like the earth itself is reaching up to join the sky. I closed my eyes and felt the rain trickle down my neck like tiny living creatures; listened to it roll around the bare branches and muddy rocks. I touched the soil and the dead leaves and became winter incarnate. I smelled the motionless air full of the promise of longer days and became the turning earth suddenly stilled. I took a deep breath- and remembered magic.
I hate the dentist. Well, not the actual dentist. He’s a very nice man who listens and puts up with my neurosis (and everyone else’s of course). But the whole experience of sitting there, plastic shield over eyes, light searing the face, powerless while a masked woman sucks saliva out of my mouth with an alien device while the screeching scrapers and scalers wind up their wails of hygienic horror. I know that once that whirring dirvish of pain hits the back of my incisors I will tense like I’ve had a cattle prod gently applied to the base of my spine. So what do I do? Well, my friend once did a guided meditation with us where we journeyed to a place in a forest, and there was a great stone to lie on. This place is safe and tranquil. While my mouth is under assault, I close my eyes and let my other feet take me through the path to the trees. I climb onto the rock and at first I am clinging to it, as if it turned vertical and I am hanging off, about to fall. Then gradually as I focus on being in this calm place, I relax and am laying on the stone as if it is a cool, gravelly bed. After a while I get up. I dangle my feet in the stream close by, and watch the shadows of fish darting away. I glance up to see a fox watching me. Before I examine this place further, I am being winched up and ordered to rinse and spit. My mouth hurts but I don’t mind so much now. As I leave, I check the time. 7 minutes. From ordeal to fantasy therapy, I was in that room for only 7 minutes! This tells me several things- mainly, that I’m a terrible wimp, but also that the human mind is a wondrous and powerful machine, and that I have some very special friends.
Sometimes time alone is not what one needs. Sometimes the quiet outside, allowing the thoughts to free fall through the tumbling anarchy of one’s mind, is the enemy of action. How can you choose when there are so many options? How can you move from this space, where silence surrounds but chaos pervades the space within? Input, you cry out, input from someone who is not living it, not crawling through it, not mired to the waist in the quicksand of problems created not by your solitude, but not aided by it either. Meditation and calm can gently guide your mind to a solution, but when sitting alone only highlights the clamour inside: get out, get out, get out. Pick up the phone, visit, speak to someone. Get some perspective. For lights shine not only from within you, but from within all of us.
Niggling gnawing gnats
That bite and suck
On confidence and self assurance
Taking away your “Doing the right thing”
Gobbling up your “All for the best”
Morning shrieks that crumble
All defences; walls and banks
And rushing through the
Black and wet
Gnawing niggling gnats
That bite and sting
And crack the fragile frame of “Hope it will be ok”
And perforate the skin of “I really thought…”
No really, we all did.
So swat that gnat and spray
The anti venom
Of “I did my best”
And if you hold yourself to account
Then yes, I guess you did.
Copyright Mabh Savage 2012 All Rights Reserved
I’ve written and sung about being motivated, keeping the nose to the grindstone, and being true to one’s goals and desires. Today however, I’m happy to not push myself. I didn’t sleep well. Simple tasks are tricky. I curdled mustard sauce and was fooled by a pink pheasant. I stalled the car and forgot how to change gear. I forgot a friend’s birthday. I miscalculated funds and budgets and generally got myself into a bit of a tizzy. So this evening, I’m giving myself a break. I’m permitting myself an extension, and my goal is set by next weekend, not tonight. After all, I’ve only got myself to answer to. I hope I don’t get me into trouble!
Doughy warmth and rising
Yeasty goodness drifting
Longingly through the house
Luring family back
From their endeavours
To the kitchen
Asking what it is
What’s that smell
Home and love
And dreams of full bellies
Time taken, effort,
Achievement and completion
Some just starting,
Some still cooking
Apron hung as cup of tea
By another’s hand finally
Falls into yours.