Dancing Reflections

Valley of the Gods


The dance between, in and out of balance; wherever we go, we are, runs the Buddhist saying.

Here the Valley of the Gods, just out of Medicine Bow in Utah, the car that got us there, the warm sunny day, the dust that followed us, clouds dancing across the sky and my mind, companions for so many of my years, a choreography changing shape, shape changers all of us.

Places of awe surprise us into wonder. Take us beyond ourselves, return us into ourselves.


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Feathered Days

I like to watch the sparrows in the garden. How they dart about, chatter amongst themselves, all fly off in the one, sudden moment, return later, one or two, then more, come back to pick for food, drink from the bird bath and the other smaller bowl I’ve put in the garden, one that I fill several times a day when, like now, it’s hot, sunny, the UV extreme.

They feather the day with a rich loom, softening the edges of the bright light. Every now and then, when I’m out in the garden, one will alight near me on a branch or shrub, and I’ll feel known, just in that sudden glance, a moment’s grace, some point of feathered origin.

Sparrow days, feathered ways.

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Cloud Speak

ImageClouds, that shifting choreography in the sky, wispy, runic, rippling, changing,

Clouds as portents, omens, hints, signs of direction, currents, particular landscapes.

Clouds rich with story.

Those rolling thuderclouds in the American South West; the busy chatter of clouds in Hong Kong. Victoria Peak lost in cloud. Or the single line of clouds out to sea from here,  past Granite Island, like the hills of  thousands of years ago, when Kangaroo Island was part of the mainland, a forgotten horizon remembered in clouds, by clouds.

And now, the cloud, the virtual world of data storage, different stories, more and more. Never before have so many parts of our lives had so much potential to be collected, layered, organised, be retrieved.

As we live lives increasingly distanced from the natural world, so that world appears in language in vastly different contexts – the cloud, electronic ‘footprints’.

Our lives, data stacked.

A thin, lone cloud passes overhead here, a brief flirtation with shade in the garden, before the return of heat.

Different worlds, different access points.



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I’m out in the front garden, sitting under a gum tree. Parakeets have a nest up high on the branches. The nest looks frail and yet solid, swaying with the wind. Clouds whisper across the sky, thin trails of conversations that become portals to other worlds of understanding, premonitions and omens, story lines that tremor like old memories from a once forgotten childhood.

Clouds, I realise, have kept me alive, feeding my imagination with their choreography. As a boy in Hong Kong I’d lie on the ground, look up at the clouds scudding above our apartment, my fingers digging into the turf, the earth holding me so that I didn’t fall off the edge off the world.

Spinning days, days of shadow and sun, the unforgiving grind of growing up, the moods of my parents, their arguments hanging heavy in the humidity, my mother’s lonely, angry refrains, building up with each cigarette and sip of wine, my father thumping another table, sister disappearing to her friends, me seeking invisibility.

Today blackbirds dart in and out of the shrubs and trees, wattle birds too, larks and sparrows, magpies as well. We’ve put in more native trees, especially callistemons with their long-fingered, scarlet bottlebrushes. They’ll attract more native birds, lorikeets and bright green, yellow and red feathered parrots that, we hope, will help keep the garden healthy. We’ve planted vegetables and herbs in pots and old wine barrels, the easier to water and maintain moisture levels in the summer. Some plants the birds themselves have brought – aromatic, wild splashes of coriander especially. Others, like the Devon violets with their insistent, comforting spread and purple flowers, grow unaided.

The scent of the violets reminds me of my grandmother’s home in North Devon, violets and pansies as cheeky smiling borders, the apple tree at the back, the cat and I sitting on one of the branches, enfolded by dreams. A bottle of perfume I brought back from England, a gift for my mother, her older, more mellow days.

Edges, boundaries, swirls in-between. The old and the very new, heartache and heartiness, the mesh of life.


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Healing Spaces

The body remembers. It’s a library of our lives. It offers so many opportunities to listen to it, yet so often we ignore it in our so-called ‘time poor’ days, until something goes ‘wrong’. And we are forced to stop.

The last few days I’ve experienced an unassailable sadness. Like going around covered by a shroud, at once thick and thin, blinkered and blanketed. So that when I went to the doctor’s I burst into tears when he greeted me. In the doctor’s quiet, humane, presence – a brilliant man – I could only mumble about not knowing what to say, about going in circles, round and round.

When someone is truly present to another, healing naturally occurs. People hear each other, themselves, differently, sometimes as if for the first time.

Presence becomes, is, a container, a listening bowl where stories can emerge, be told, be swished around, mixed, uncovered. Presence sets boundaries and has no boundaries. In it, one can be  annointed again, touched by mystery even if, at that moment, rational understanding lags behind.

Talking with my doctor didn’t solve what was happening for me. Nor was there any answer, nor did he try to fix me. He listened, outlined an approach he would take in combination with a colleague, explained the reasoning behind that, where he could help, where he couldn’t. Again, boundaries, but subtle ones; supple.

I left feeling heard. Left still crying too.

That was the beginning of my healing, I see today. It was a crack in the fortress. The facade of having it all handled, of having even the out of hand handled. Trying to control being out of control.

The body remembers. Reminds. Re-minds us. Knows before the mind does.

Today I played a lot of wild Irish and Scottish music, lyrical and floating, emboldening, ancestral for me, grounding even as it lightened. Like an otherworldly portal too.

Images came to mind; sensations too. A thickening of the throat; the smell of tar and boiling oil; the shouts of men lashing out at me, some other me, another lifetime, perhaps in the 1700’s, colonial America. A sinking feeling; torches burning. Sneers. Waves of humiliation. Of feeling trapped.Coughing.

I went with the images, went with the music, each different track apt, like a guided meditation of songs and melodies, almost as if already arranged.

I kept hearing the word ‘burnish’, and ‘burnishing’. I looked up the etymology of burnish, found that there’s an etymological link with the word ‘brown’ through the German and Icelandic, and that there are also links – in the word ‘brown’ – to Greek and Indo-European and Sanskrit, in the nouns  ‘toad’, beaver’ and ‘mongoose’.

The symbolic meanings of those animals relate to water, renewal, resurrection, protection, with links to the Otherworld.

No wonder in the last few days I’d started to wear brown coloured clothing instead of the usual blues and greens.

Again, the body remembers, knows.

Of course, I’ve abbreviated some of the process here, and don’t really like that word, process. Nor am I claiming all is well and healed. By no means, but I’ve got a start here, a re-imagining, carried along by the suggestions in words, their own histories, even if, at some point, in copying something down I may have made a mistake, still the process will unfold. I’ve been awakened to something else at work within me that can carry me beyond myself. Re-embodying, re-inhabiting the world.









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Whatever afflicted me in Vietnam still lingers. It’s been hard to write, do much. I’ve had to rest frequently, converse little, socialise even less, do things in very small steps. Listen to my body, rather than pushing it to do this, do that.

Perhaps I could remind myself: under new management!

In the past I’d get very annoyed, as if life, my body, should fall into line at my command. Even if at times I dressed that command in soothing, spiritually minded language.

This time, while chronic tiredness is nothing new to my life, I’ve listened differently. I’ve realised that despite the deep love my wife and I share, that I’ve been closed to her suggestions before of rest, take it easier on yourself, do more of what you like not what you think you should like.

And I’ve listened to my body more, this time without the expectation of having to have it be fixed, to get anywhere other than to listen and see what emerges.

It’s made me think today of the pathways of and in the body, the inner terrain, the shadows and pockets of energy, the blockages and lines of communication, to let images come to me rather than actively seeking them.

I love working with imagery; it’s an essential part of my job, too, as a clairvoyant, and,gl, as a poet. But again, this is nothing new.

What’s different is that it is occurring within a different context, a different way of being.

As my wife says, be gentle with yourself. I want you around for another thirty years.

Now that’s a pathway I’d like to walk!


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Through the darkness, light shimmers; that dance between landscape, sky and individual being.

Sometimes we are carried in a cup of light when we least expect it.

Perhaps that cup is always there; we just don’t see it. But life is movement, change, the in and out of consciousness, just as the clouds and seasons alter, the waves bring fresh tidings, day after day.

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