Labyrinths

Over the years I have been able to visit and walk various labyrinths. I think the first ones were with a friend Coifi who has long been passed over and enjoying life in the otherworld. He used to draw them in the sand and then we walked them several times. I learned how to draw simple ones this way too.

Then I visited Wing Maze in Rutland. This is a turf-cut maze situated on the edge of the Rutland village of Wing. It is better seen as a labyrinth rather than a maze. It is around 14 metres in diameter and consists of a single grass path that winds and backtracks around in a circle before finally leading to the centre. The age of this particular maze is not known but it may only date from the medieval period .

On a visit to Launde Abbey in Leicestershire, I saw that they had built a labyrinth of some kind in a glade in the woods. This was built using stones. There was a notice at the start about how to use the labyrinth and you could choose a stone from a large pile. You walked with the stone in your hand around the labyrinth putting all your worries and sad thoughts into the stone. When you reached the centre you could leave the stone there and walk back unencumbered. Since then the Abbey has laid out a new one in the wildflower meadow so when you walk it in the summer you are surrounded by wild flowers.

Recently I was able to visit a labyrinth set out on private land. It was a beautiful day and walking this labyrinth was very special. So what do I mean by walking a labyrinth? Labyrinth walking is an ancient practice used by many different faiths for spiritual contemplation, and prayer. Entering the winding path of a labyrinth, you walk slowly while quieting your mind and focusing on a spiritual question or prayer. One local vicar told me that each corner or turn was a turn in your life and when you reached the centre you had reached God. Whether you believe in God or not, it can be a very profound experience and also an experience of joy. On my last visit I felt a very deep connection to the earth and found myself chanting ‘Mother I feel you under my feet, Mother I feel your heartbeat’. So walk a labyrinth if you get the chance or draw one in the sand and walk it.

Stress and the wonder of nature

It has been a very stressful week for various reasons but which started with last weeks blog which triggered someone else’s agenda and led to acrimonious discussion. But less of that, it is gone now and is in the past. I live in sheltered accommodation, that is, a complex of flats for the elderly with alarm buttons and other safety aspects. We are in the middle of having new heaters installed and then during the same time frame asbestos is being removed from the airing cupboard so new water tanks can be installed and then a new bathroom. This kind of work is going on for several months and can be quite stressful. It is better to be out of the flat when work goes on especially when the asbestos is removed. So let’s hope the weather stays good so we can sit outside and enjoy the bird song and the sunshine.

A trip to a different nature reserve this week led to seeing flowers and dragonflies I had not seen before. I cannot believe I have reached my old age and never seen a bee orchid before. What a beautiful flower it is. There were lots of damselflies as well and it was a good day despite the humidity. My small patch of garden here is doing well too. There are a lot of buds on the plants and they will soon be opening ready for the bees and butterflies. I have also learnt to identify small beetles and other insects some of which are quite fascinating. And they all have some kind of purpose as we do.

One of the things I love about being here is the sight of red kites in the sky. Every day one or two can be seen flying around and soaring high in the sky. So nature helps me with the stress and that is very good.

Fear and the new normal

I am going to stick my neck out as the saying goes and write about things I normally shy from. I read avidly about everything I have an interest in as well as other reading which I read for information. All this reading over the last 18 months or so has led me to many different beliefs than many of my friends. But I don’t think I am alone in my thinking. Fear has been dominant over the last 18 months and fear breeds obedience. Think about that first. Fear can cause many different illnesses as it depletes your immune system. Nowhere in the last 18 months have I seen a recommendation to boost your immune system. If you have fear about something then you need to change the story about what you fear and make it a happy story so the fear disappears.

Earlier this week I came across a cartoon which said a lot of what I think. It stated that most people don’t really want the truth, they just want constant assurance that what they believe is the truth. There were two desks in the cartoon, one had a large queue at it. The heading over the desk was ‘comforting lies’ and the other desk had no queue. That heading was ‘unpleasant truths’. The truth can be uncomfortable to know but knowing it is important. It is easy to be satisfied with what you hear instead of looking to see whether what you hear is the truth or not. Reading and researching is good to do but sometimes you just know that what you are being told is a lie.

Last month I wrote a new poem called ‘A New Normal’. Here it is.

Is this how it is meant to be?
Men and women staying in
Cowed and afraid to go outside
Just in case they become ill.

Why have they obeyed so fast?
Why have they stopped thinking?
Why do they believe so many facts
Even though they are often false?

How do they change and go outside,
Learn to laugh and hug again,
Learn to tell truth from lies,
And to trust their inner selves?

I don’t understand
Why people don’t question
What we are asked to do.
Have they lost their ‘knowing’
In the chaos of life
Or don’t they care any more.

If we took more care of our bodies and minds
Our lives would change for the better,
So think about this and get outside
To find joy and beauty for ever.

Shifts in consciousness

This week I feel I have seen a some little shifts in consciousness around me and within me. Shifts in consciousness involve opening up to aspects of our being that we have hidden away. I suspect that really I have just got back to where I was earlier in my life but have deepened what I already know and do.

I have had a busy week meeting friends for the first time in over a year. I have had discussions about healing energies, past lives and other similar themes. I have been out in nature as well and have noticed more of the tiny insects that are out there. I have been chanting in the mornings, something I have not done for a long time. I feel more at peace and even more at one with the natural world than I have before. So is this a shift in consciousness?

I think it is although I am not really seeing things in a different way but in a more deeper way. I have loved to see the different kinds of insects in their environments and learn what they eat and how they live. I feel all of this is important as we learn about the connection between everything that lives including plants and the land itself. Without understanding this connection we cannot change anything and change is important as long as it is the right change.

On another level but still connected I decided to spend a lot of money on good shoes. My feet are deformed and walking is painful but I know of a shoe company that produces the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. If I want to do a lot of walking in woods and around lakes then I need comfortable shoes. I have already noticed the difference. As I walk better and without pain I am able to notice more of what is going on around me. And that is all good.

A new day

What a beautiful morning it is. The sun is shining, the blue sky is dotted with small white clouds, the dew is sparkling on the grass and the plumage of the starling is stunning. I stood for some time by my open window breathing in the fresh air and letting the new day soothe me. I noticed a red kite high in the sky soaring then swooping to catch its prey. What a wonderful world it is!

What more could I want or need I thought. But there is much I would like to see in our world. I want to see people going out and about enjoying the natural world around them. I want them to talk to each other, to hug and embrace and to share both good and bad. I want to see an end to war but we don’t seem to learn from the past as war follows war and then another war somewhere else. I want to see an end to the hatred, the racism, the feeling that we are better than others.

It doesn’t matter where we come from, who we are and how much money we have, we all came from the same source and we must learn to honour each other. We need to show our children the right way to live. Some years ago now I read a book by Kent Nerburn ‘The wolf at Twilight – An Indian Elders Journey through a land of ghosts and shadows.’ In this book the elder named Dan talks about teaching our children by giving them a vision of what is right and wrong, and teaching them to help the weak and that giving things away brings wealth. He also states that we need to let them know that they are an important part of the circle of life and if they do not play their part then no-one else can. We are all part of the circle of life and we are all connected in this circle. We need to remember this connection as we go through our daily lives.

Hope and despair

There are times over the last 18 months when I have felt moments of despair as I noticed what was going on in the world around me. I wrote a few weeks ago about our world with a lot of questions. The events of the week, both personal and global led me to write a poem with more questions. Here it is.

Hope and Despair

I look around the world and sigh.
What is the matter with humankind?
Why is there war and desecration?
Why do people see themselves
As better that anyone else?

It comes down to greed for more land and more money,
No thoughts of anyone else.
How can we change the way people think
So they will change their ways?

I have no answers but do have hope
Although I sometimes despair.
There must be a greater plan around
If we are to make our world fair.

Are we still getting rid of the old to make way for the new?
It doesn’t really seem that way
But I’ll hang on to hope as long as I can
And help others to feel the right way.

Sadness and trees

This week I have been feeling rather sad after the events of the last few days so I decided to write about a special tree I know but this is quite sad too in some ways. For many years I have visited ancient trees, three of them in an ancient forest in Northamptonshire. I knew about three trees there and visited one of them many times so sit with it and on it and enjoy its peace and wonder at how it had grown. It was an ancient beech. Later I found it had been cut down and only a stump remains. It was quite close to the road so I suspect it had become unsafe. The other two trees are in a different part of the forest and a small distance apart. One is an ash tree and the other a beech tree.

The first time I visited the ash tree was around 15 years ago or more. It was awesome. I stood under its canopy and felt like a midget standing there. The tree was so powerful I could hardly believe it but I felt its energy strongly. Some years later on another visit I was dismayed to find it had been almost cut in half. and looked bare and desolate. Last week I persuaded my son to take me out there. I felt an urge to see this ancient ash and find out if it was still alive. It was alive. It was hollow but had branches coming out from it and there were signs of new growth. I felt relieved but sad too.

We did not have time to visit the third tree so I hope it is still growing strongly and giving pleasure to many. I have also visited many other ancient trees in various places, one in a farmyard! I often wonder what stories they could tell us about the life of people during the ife of the tree. 300 years is a long time and much has changed over this period of time.

Here are 3 photos of the ash tree, one in full bloom, one after its cutting and the final one from this week.

Emerging from the dark

As current restrictions start to lift, it is time to move forward towards a new way of living. There are many who are frightened of being able to go out, to shop, to walk, to dine out or go to the gym. They have spent a year or more cocooned in their homes, often without any face-to-face contact with others.

Although Zoom, video calls and similar stuff are available to some, they are not available to all, and they are not the same as seeing someone in person. But for many others such things have given them a chance to talk to others and see them from a distance. But the main thing for many is that they have been given a chance to reflect on their lives and the way they live them. Many have decided to live in different ways, to be more careful about what they buy and have also decided that what they want and what they need are two different things. If we only bought what we needed then there would be less waste and landfill. There are many arguments about buying organic clothing or clothing made from recycled fibres as they tend to cost more but they generally last much longer. Buying organic food is also good but again generally costs more. But what is your health worth to you?

So now here we are, emerging from this long period of restrictions on our lives. I know that my life has changed very little although I am much more appreciative about being able to get outdoors with my son as I can’t go with friends yet. I do not drive which does not help so I can also feel for those in similar positions. However I have managed to get out to local areas of nature reserves and country parks and have walked (with my crutch) and sat and enjoyed the peace of the water and the joy of the birdsong and watched the seasons change. Everywhere is now much greener than it was a few weeks ago. To be outside in the open air is so beneficial and to hug a tree is also a most wonderful thing to do.

So as we emerge from this period of dark, let us stride forward, stretch our legs and minds and breathe deeply of the air around us and work towards a better way of life for us all.

How amazing is the natural world?

I spend some time every week out in a nature reserve somewhere with my son and there is always something that fascinates me. This week it was the Brimstone butterfly. I have known for some time that it lays its eggs in buckthorn. We were watching a female brimstone on Thursday fluttering around the hedge in a local reserve. It went from one to another then found one to settle on and lay an egg. She flew off and flew around before coming back to another similar branch of buckthorn. Now what fascinates me is this – how did she know which branches were buckthorn? Does the branch exude some kind of smell or what?

There are other things about nature that have happened recently, like the frogs and toads going back to where they were spawned. How do they know where to go? We, so-called superior beings, have to use maps or a Satnav to find places yet the humble toad and frog head off crossing roads and fields to get back to where they were born.

In the summer I spend hours watching dragonflies and damselflies during their mating dances and the laying of eggs. I have watched the birds displaying their mating dances too. How fascinating is all of this. They do these things naturally and know what to do and when. How clever they are. We do not understand a lot about our natural world but it fascinates me whether I understand it or not. I feel that we underestimate what animals, birds and insects can do. Photo taken by my son who has given his permission for me to use it here.

Questions and more questions

The last couple of weeks have had a lot of niggly things to sort out and have brought up a lot of questions in my mind. I got very frustrated on a couple or more days when I could not get answers from organisatiosn and officialdom. As I think of myself as a spiritual person and a Reiki practioner then getting frustrated should be a no-no. But after all I am a spiritual being living in a human body so can only expect to have human feelings at times.

So a few questions that have come to mind;

Why do we believe everything we see, hear and read about?

Can we not think for ourselves?

Are we unable to read between the lines and see when people are telling us the truth?

Why do we obey without any thought as to what we are doing?

Mantras are powerful and we have been given a lot of those over the last year. Do we realise what is being done here?

What is currently going on in our world has been in the pipeline for a long time and is reaching its final days. Are we allowing what has been planned to happen or are we going to make changes for ourselves and others?

Do we want to be people who do as they are told, without any thought to what we are doing or do we think about what we are being asked to do and protest if we feel it is wrong?

Are we too lazy to do our research and vote for the right people not those who will get richer at our expense?

Do we want our world to be a better place for all or for just a few?

Remember we all come from the same source whatever colour or beliefs we have now.