Hi, my name is Claire and I live on a hill, overlooking the welsh mountains and valleys just outside Swansea, with my husband, our two teenage boys, and two cats that have adopted us.
A few years ago now, I had to do a project for my yoga teacher training, which initially began life titled, “The book of song; coming home whole and singing the song of my soul”. However, by the end of the two year course, when the project was due in, it was clear that I needed to change the second part of the title to, “Listening to the song of my soul and coming home whole”. I value listening deeply, and as a facilitator of Philosophy for children, I spend a lot of time teaching kids about the how and why of good listening. But right now it’s time for me to find My Voice and Sing the song of my Soul. So here it is,
The book of Song – Coming home Whole and Singing the Song of my Soul.
finding voice in this blog.
In his autobiography Peter Scott gave some advice to soldiers returning home from the Second World War. “The spirit of adventure is an attitude of mind that can be adopted in any field of human activity. It is the capacity to delight in the unexpected, to be undaunted by misfortune, and to accept the challenge of “come-what-may”. So I would tell my adventure-seeking friend to find some problem that needs elucidation. Then I would simply say, go off and find the answers. He will be adding something, however small to the sum of human knowledge…..Above all else he must be tremendously excited about his mission. It must become for the time being the dominating aim of his life. My great key to the enjoyment of living is enthusiasm…..
It is not always necessary to leave home in search of excitement. Adventure is all around us….You may find it in a gentle quiet form, a sort of armchair adventure, as I have done in painting and writing about birds.“
So what’s with the extract? Well, in arriving here at this point, I feel very much as if I am arriving home from a long, and at times difficult, journey, to a place where I can believe in myself. A place where I am able to invite all my guests to the party.
So Who am I ? Who are these guests? My own stories – Daughter, grand-daughter, sister, niece, cousin, catholic, peacemaker, gift giver, storyteller, thief, photographer, sky-gazer, horse-rider, book-lover, lover of learning, song-lover, guide, venture scout, dabbler in musical instruments, Moon child, black sheep, food lover, accounts clerk, babk cashier, recruitment consultant, fun lover, crazy dancer, binge drinker, Backpacker, sales woman, trainer, student, mental health support worker, wife, Mother, auntie, sister-in-law, shop worker, Moon lover, Crazy wild woman, Seeker of truth/ spiritual seeker, Philosophy for children facilitator, Yoga teacher Teaching assistant / one to one and catch up / calming presence /protector / guardian angel, Friend, listener, thinker, meditator, Earth lover/Quiet Environmentalist, Writer, dancer, gardener and lover of music, fun and freedom.
What is this journey? This journey is about the breaking down of all those norms layered on me by family and society in order to come back to my truth. I saw those people repeating those mantras without thinking and the sadness they experienced as a result of it. And, when I tried to do as I was told, I too felt that sadness and I couldn’t do it.
And Poems like Mary Oliver’s sang out the truth to me, poems like
The Summer Day.
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver
I feel that wild and precious life pulsing through my veins and held on tight to it. I followed the moon and it kept me connected. I had always questioned, questioned, questioned, and devoted myself to teaching children to do the same through my philosophy for children work. Listening to and discussing books like the Lost thing by Shaun Tan and sort films like Survival International’s, There you go by Oren Ginsburg.
And so now my children are going off to university, I feel I have come to a place where I can share all I have learnt in parenting them, and as part of that in parenting myself. Filling in the gaps, healing my wounds and those old generational wounds and coming to a place where I can bloom.
Over the course of the last decade of this journey, I have followed a trail of breadcrumbs laid down by Philosophers, Rumi and the Love poets from East and West, Sama Dhista yoga teacher, and Michael hetherington seasonal yoga author, Philippa Castell, all my present yoga teacher training student friends and current students, Clare Dubois and treesisters, Mark Williams, Richard Davidson, Pema Chodrun, Thich Nhat Hahn and the whole mindfulness movement, Tara Brach, Jocelyn mercado and Willemijn Maas at Elemental life, Rebekah Shaman, Lisa Lister and most recently extinction rebellions Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook and Sharon Blackie – if women rose rooted.
The Change, the self-belief has been building gradually. However, the last couple of years it has really picked up pace. Especially since I took a job out of fear that we needed more money than we had. But then I did manage to choose to do what I really DID want to do for my 50th birthday (ridiculously, easier said than done) and ended up on a pilgrimage to Tintern Abbey to see the moon, with a crazy troupe of magical folk.
But things have really gone boom this year following a silent retreat over the January full moon. This was followed by a February break with my husband Gareth, for the first time in nearly twenty years of parenting, to the Cambridgeshire fens. Driving away from Wales through huge floods, we arrived and settled under huge skies, surrounded by wild swans, in a ancient cottage without electricity. There I persuade him that it really is time we go adventuring from our home and garden in the Welsh hills. He agrees, and we decide I should leave my job and make the arrangements. Hence, Peter Scott’s timely advice. It came from his autobiography which Gareth was reading that week. He loves reading and his two passions in life are nature and the simple, self sufficiency, good life. However he, even worse than me, gives his life over to other people’s needs and rarely satisfies anything more than reading about them and dreaming. It’s time!
Shortly after we arrive home, (Friday 13th March, on the 50th anniversary of the novella) Bobby, aka Jonathon Livingston Seagull, re-emerges in my life accompanied by another book, The diary of a somebody, in which a man promises to write a poem a day, I promise myself the same.
So, what are the arrangements I need to make for this adventure?
On the Aries new moon I make My vision board. I frantically dig out all these images that have been circling around my edges not alllowed into the centre, to gather, like the flock of jackdaws arriving to nest in our chimneys. And arrange them in what turns out to be in the shape of a cross.
It covers the seven chakras
At the bottom my roots, my family tree, my parents, Gareth and the boys with whom I know it is so important to establish and a maintain right relations by offering them my loving presence.
Svadhisthana chakra my sweet dwellling place, my umblilical cord to god the universe and everything is Rumi, the love poets more generally and the Sufi whirling dervish.
Then well these two were round the other way but it’s got be that that bright yellow sun that was my drawing of manipura chakra comes here, married to the moon, and to the moon alone as photographed at Tintern abbey on my 50th. The whole solar lunar rhythmns and cycles
Then anahata chakra is the solar seasons spring summer autumn and winter in nature, the flowers and trees.
Then vishuddha chakra, my throat chakra, is this seasonal rhythmns blog, My book of song and Rebekah Shaman’s lunascopes, make the arms of the cross with five pictures and a poem on the seasons at the centre.
My third eye chakra, Ajna chakra, is me in my witch costume. That fantastic free, whirling world book club day at school, with “magic is believing in yourself” quote by Goethe one side and a moon picture from the treesisters full moon calls, saying ‘embracing mystery’? on the other.
Here is also a picture of Hecate, which I think is really part of my witch picture, and about me entering menopause, with the three faces being the three ages and stages of womanhood.
Finally the top of my cross sahasrara, my crown chakra, is formed by a picture of last years spring screensaver picture, of a blooming pink magnolia against a bright blue sky. It is flanked by two pictures, in the same pink and blue colours, one of Hildegard Von bingen Christian mystic and musician (and one of the first pieces of music when I found Late junction, the programme that has been my life support machine for the last 18 years). On the other side, Red Zambala, Buddha of purification. Two pictures which I find sitting in my iPad picture files from so long ago that I can’t remember how they got there but remarkably they completely mirror each other, in their colours, their representation of the masculine and feminine, and East and west spiritual traditions.
Oh and of course around the edges yoga breathe, extinction rebellion the time is NOW, the SAS team screaming me on; Mrs mindfulness quote from Thich Nhat Hanh “to be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others, you just need to accept yourself”. And my letter to myself from the retreat.
I don’t really know what it means or where exactly This is taking us. I haven’t got a map but that’s ok. I’m just trusting God, the universe and everything. I am ‘embracing mystery’. And, I promise myself I will honour it and follow it over the coming weeks.
Tuesday 31st March 3pm – My poem is coming, Primroses and a velvet cat remind me not to forget. I come up the garden to collect it. Lying back, I see the sky above me “I want to dive in naked, lose myself in your depths”, sing the Waterboys “I want to be with you and find myself in the best of dreams. Your love feels like summer”. My back is against the earth, My body breathing, Bees buzz. My jaw releases and I Drop, Drop down into the arms of the Earth. My shoulders, arms and hands ache. I let my head go And release, surrender. I arrive back in my animal body where everything is so much easier And the wind strokes my face. How can I have come so far down a path where something that is so right Feels so impermissible? A path where a mother can repeat to her daughter, that a woman who reads is no good to anyone. Stop for a moment, look up from this path and question. Is this really the right way?
I do look up and sign up for Jocelyn’s shamanic and alchemical medicine course. And she introduces Lilith. According to tdJacobs.com, this archetype empowers people to let themselves be who they already knew they are. To listen to our own bodies and instincts. Lilith’s energy resides a great deal in your 1st/root chakra, the foundation of your energy field allowing……. the natural feminine within, the wild streak inside us that can’t abide by rules if they constrict what’s natural and would flow freely.
I know this wild woman well, I can only ever keep her in her box for only short periods of a time. This wild woman is a card carrying aspect of who I am and she’s welcome at the party. I realise it’s not only Ok, it’s necessary to acknowledge all those aspects deemed unacceptable by one group or another. Let them all come in, give them a glass of whatever takes their fancy, take their place at the table. And I realise there’s no ugly duckling, wrong whichever way I turn, after all. I have just woken up and found all the parts of myself allowed and coming home whole.
So what am I going to do with myself as I’m coming home? I’ve got to do more than I have been. I am really been hiding. Playing it safe, not sharing my real gifts and talents with the world and just getting put back in a box, playing out those old roles of being ignored by scared people threatened by me and I’m colluding with that, letting that happen to me, going silent and hiding out in the shadows, from where I’m quietly trying to share my stuff, leading from behind whilst trying to stay invisible! It’s the same old story because it is safer/easier that way, I don’t have to stand up for myself. But this time the pushing has just been too much. I have to get my stuff out and stand up for myself, for what I believe in and be accountable.
I feel I really need to find my voice and sing the song of my soul. Share my breadcrumbs. My yoga classes have really taken on a strong seasonal theme and rhythm and I have found myself more and more attuned to the changing seasons and lunar cycles, learning real life lessons. I have always loved story telling, writing is a big thing for me and now all of a sudden there’s this incredible urge to write poetry?! And, not quite so scary, I’ve been wondered about doing a blog.
Gareth has spent a great deal of time over the last few years playing around with web design and starting up little online businesses. He’s going to sort me out a blog space to which he can add nature observations, book reviews (maybe even a little second hand nature book shop in the future) and he finds these 3 questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of writing a blog…..
What are you interested in/what do you enjoy? The moon, Nature rhythmns of nature, seasons and cycles, Walking on mountain tops, Philosophy for children, Meditation, Yoga, Religion and Mysticism God, Mystic Poetry, Magic, Music and dancing, Radio, Storytelling
What are you good at? Encouraging, raising up, nurturing, supporting, parenting, kindness, sitting quietly, listening, hearing, understanding. Seeing to the heart of things. Being here, giving my attention. Working with children. Compassion, inclusion, Connecting to the universe. Digging down into the cycles of the universe, floating in pure awareness. Love, wonder, awe, philosophy, yoga, parenting, storytelling, acceptance, connecting to god, the universe and everything, and falling through the stepping stones.
What do you want to learn more about? The moon and the cycles and seasons, Mysticism, Meditation, Spiritual Poetry, Living in harmony with nature and gardening.
I want to share some of this stuff, to share the breadcrumbs I’ve followed, to add my breadcrumbs to the trail. I remember my letter to myself or the end of that January retreat. It completely took me by surprise as I sat, expecting to detail the long list of new years resolutions that I needed to make, and instead this came out
I want to go back to my centre and walk and move in that centre. Live from my centre. Be noble, awesome and shiny, soft and kind. No big shakes (lol). (And then at the bottom of the page I added)…..
It is enough to feel the sun on my skin, the wind on my face and watch the weather roll in!
Love Me x
What am I referring to/ Where exactly is My centre – My Lower belly, svadhisthana chakra, sweet dwelling place – umbilical cord centre of connection to the universe, my solar plexus, manipura chakra – energy centre and my heart centre, anahata chakra, love centre. The place where Rumi tells us the wind breath originates. Return here and let that song of my soul flow through.
So, The intention of this Blog is to maintain and strengthen my connection to the rhythmns of life. To let The cycles and spirals of the sun and the moon flow through me, so I can sway with the rhythmns of nature and dance in harmony with the universe. Connecting, remembering, firmly planting my feet right where I am in the year, where I am in terms of the seasons and cycles of nature.
Here I am. Dancing the rhythms of life. Emerging from darkness. There are these ebbs and flows rhythmns of nature that we need to hear, to heed, to dance to. Daily, monthly, yearly, moment to moment in our living breath moves through us. Allowing myself to be taken and follow, Listening and responding.
It’s lent, the period of resisting temptation (not entirely successfully but hopefully by being here now, successfully enough), I have tried my hardest to hold my line, not doubting but maintaining my belief in, and staying true to, my heart. I have cut my hours at school, down to two days a week, to look after my family.
April arrives, the month of opening, thought to come from aperire, a Latin word meaning “to open,” like spring flowers or the buds on trees.
“First Lesson,” by Philip Booth from Lifelines: Selected Poems
As you float now, where I held you and let go, remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you: lie gently and wide to the light-year stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
Such an apt poem arrives, both personally, and as a reflection for Holy Week, I share it with school. I really am starting to come out of my shell.
Then I post my own poem onto a spiritual poetry Facebook group! I can’t believe I’ve actually posted my own words publicly and when a note comes up that my poem has been published I’m so excited I want to take a screenshot but it disappears just as quickly and unexpectedly as it appeared. No one comments. I feel a bit sick and think I’m going to have to develop a bit more of a hard outer shell if I’m going to do this. But of course, it’s not actually about anyone else’s comments or approval! So I carry on, well whatever going on, carries on, because I just can’t stop doing this.
8th April, the full moon crests in the first moon cycle this light side of the equinox. All the energies rise full steam ahead and new life emerges everywhere. The April full moon names are Celtic- Growing moon, Medieval- Seed moon, Native American- Pink moon, Awakening moon, Grass moon, Me – Budding / Blossom moon Furry catkin moon.
Full moon energy rises bringing Flowers into bloom, their response to the warmth and light of the returning sun. The flowers blooming all over my garden are daisies, dandelion flowers, celandine, tulips, and Soft furry pussy willow catkins that birth a glory of colour and fragrance at the April full moon. Blaze of yellow.
The blossom and forget-me-nots are just starting and it won’t be long before the aquilegia open their buds too.
The full moon, say the lunar ladies, is the culmination and celebration of our New Moon intentions. The Full Moon is now the mirror of your intentions and the actions taken to realize your wishes. Allow yourself to expand into what is manifesting itself.
So, Now, this year, over the period of the full moon, I open, I bloom into myself.
I realise I am actually allowed to live my dreams. I didn’t know that was really a thing. I thought you just had to get your head down and slog it out! I thought I had really achieved something making it to Wales and breaking free from the rat race! Now I find it’s not just a case of breaking away from/out of something but there is life on the other side. I feel like I’ve entered some magical other world. I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I lie back and bathe in a full moongong bath courtesy of Sally Davies – Gong and song. I open my spring blossom and this blog is born, Dancing the rhythmns of life. The dance of life, cycles and spirals. Turning circles like the whirling dervish dancers.
Good Friday, trust, believe, faith, as the moon wanes from full to disseminating, I review my vision board. I feel like I’ve made it to the summit, or at least onto a high plateau of the mountain and realise I need to address the gnawing pain in my shoulder. Overnight I feel into it and elongate my head out of shoulder decompressing the vertebrae in my upper back. It’s time I stand tall, come into my full height.
All Holy Week I have been writing this. Easter Saturday – I finalise it and Gareth gets the blog up and running. I wobble, I feel guilty that I’m not running around doing more, volunteering my services in a care home or some such thing. And have to remind myself that is not my offering.
So ask myself again, what is my offering ? Where is my heart?
With the rhythms of life. My offering, to shine my light and remind myself and others maybe that there is a tune to dance to, an ebb and flow. A time to move, and perhaps my forte, to show other people that there is an equal time to rest, to be still. To Illuminate the value of listening in order to hear the music of the universe and therefore be able to dance, rather than fight, with life. Able to move more harmoniously with ourselves, each other and all of creation, and to have fun, to enjoy the dance of life.
I doubt it’s enough!
Just unravelling the mysteries of life as revealed by the moon cycles and seasons of the year! 😂
I remember Rumi’s poem Each Note
God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us, a passion, a longing-pain. Remember the lips where the wind -breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don’t try to end it. Be your note.
I’ll show you how it’s enough.
Go up on the roof at night in this city of the soul.
Let everyone climb on their roofs and sing their notes!
I dream that my contract arrives confirming my new hours at school, two days a week. Phew, the universe has got my back! Thank God for that.
Easter Sunday – The triumph of love, of life over death. I send this out. Posting it onto this blog page, I share to the first people, those yogis involved in making it come to fruition. Aaarhhh scary!!!
In, If women rose rooted, I read, “That’ll put the jizz back in you,’ said old Brid, her eyes glinting, as she handed me a bowl of real water from the purest well in Gleann an Atha. A well kept sweet and neat by her people’s people, the precious legacy of her household, tucked away in a nook, a ditch around it for protection, a flagstone on its mouth. . . . But for a long time now there is a snake of pipe that leaks in from distant hills and in every kitchen, both sides of the glen, water spits from a tap; bitter water without spark that leaves a bad taste in the mouth and among my people the real well is being forgotten. ‘It’s hard to find a well these days,’ said old Brid, filling up my bowl again. ‘They’re hiding in rushes and juking in grass, all choked up and clatty with scum but for all the neglect they get their mettle is still true. Look for your own well, pet, for there’s a hard time coming. There will have to be a going back to sources.” from ‘The Well’ by Cathal Ó Searcaigh
I reconsider Samantha (of happiness at work) Clark’s question, “Can you see your work happiness evolving through a series of considered steps?” And feel I am beginning to be able to make something out.
This blog on the rhythmns of nature that we need to hear, to heed, to dance to. Daily, monthly, yearly, moment to moment in our living breath moves through us. My weekly yoga prep connecting me with where I am in the lunar cycle and the solar seasons. With Gareth doing his observations and book reviews and maybe even having a little second hand online book shop. I start gathering my almanac and see zodiac arts actually have a note on their page saying current bloggers offering tips and information about working with nature’s system of time management. Hhmmm
But I’ll end this first post as I began, with the words of peter Scott,
“Spellbinders are a lost tribe nowadays. A most potent spellbinder turned up the radio the other night and by the cadence of his voice almost bewitched me of my reason talking of sailing small boats or tumbling in snow. A delightful timber and modulation of voice and an eager manner of speech. These merits are fortified by sincerity, to which the microphone always seems immediately sensitive.”
I wonder if that’s what I’m doing, Striking out for the lost tribe of spellbinders? I certainly like the idea of sound on my blog, does that make it a podcast too? Who knows🥰xxx
Biblio – My family, My yoga family, Sama Fabian and Tanya Syed for helping me birth these books of song, Yogi Rachel flutterbyturtle, Yogi Hils Williams. Michael Hetherington. Philippa Castell for helping me take my centre with me off the yoga mat. Tara Brach, Mark Williams, Richard Davidson, Pema Chodrun, Thich Nhat Hahn and the whole mindfulness movement; Clare Dubois & Treesisters, The Almanac – Lia Leendertz , Peter Scott, Wendell Berry, Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook. Rumi, Mary Oliver, and all the love poets east and west, Sharon Blackie If women rose rooted; Jocelyn Mercado, Tdjacobs.com, InnerSelf.com, The art of manifestation Astro moon diary – Jenny Florence, Lunar ladies, Willemijn Maas Elemental life, Rebekah Shaman, zodiac arts.com, Wikipedia, Timeanddate.com