Shamanic September

September already. How soon the seasons pass.
Harvest time, fruits of the earth. Our spirits warm with the russet colours outside. I took the dog for a run over the fields this morning. Wind-frenzied trees could not dislodge raucous crows, shy jays, and their more cocksure magpie cousins. Though these are the early days, there is definitely a sense of being on the cusp of autumn.
Soon we will see the squirrels working overtime among the toadstools and wild flowers, the martins, swallows and other migrants gathering to make the long journey back to African shores.
Much to my wife’s distress, daddy long legs seem to be everywhere. One got in as I went out with the dog (again) last night, as my better half was busy preparing a meal for the next day. I said “Don’t harm it, I will catch it when I get back in”. 
On my return she said, apologetically, “I’m sorry I had to kill it-it was ferocious”.
Lions. Tigers. Sharks. Daddy long legs. Ferocious.
I’ve always been an outdoor person. I’ve always been moved by nature, the landscape, and the elements. Maybe that is what gave me a poetic voice, and an early sense of spirituality. I guess I am just one small step away from being a pagan. The appeal of Celtic and Native American spirituality. Perhaps this is where they can find common ground with Christianity-the idea of the goodness of creation, shot through with spirit. The whole of nature ablaze and alive and sacred.
My favourite place is Orkney. The sky there is vast and all encompassing, the sea wild and hungry and raging on all sides. There is something different there about the light, changing as it does above the ancient ancestors, long entombed in chambered darkness. When I haven’t visited for a while, I begin to get my Orkney Itch.
Some of my earliest memories involve my reaction to the elements and the outdoors. I can recall being very young, in a park in Heywood. My grandfather pushing me in a swing, and around 100 metres away there was a huge tree, swaying from side to creaking side in a gale. I loved it.Today I still love to get outside on windy days. As a postman I once did my round in 100 mph winds. It was fantastic.
Another memory is of my Dad walking me to school as a four year old Reception pupil. Dressed in a fur-lined parka coat and a leather satchel over my shoulder, I was fascinated by the dew that clung to every blade of morning grass as we cut across the fields. The sheen of diamonds and the cut of the fresh air.
Not long into my school life I caught chicken pox, and had to stay off school. As morning phased into afternoon, I remember being knelt on the couch, watching the heavy rain beat against the window, trickles racing each other down to the sill. Soon we moved house, and a new primary school beckoned. Being new, and initially friendless, in the inner mirror of my mind I can still see myself stood on the edge of the playground at playtime, watching a gull glide effortlessly above on a current of air, drifting over our fields of triumph. These are the fields that I now walk with my dog, the school having been demolished, the site now given to wilderness.
Being reclaimed.
I stood recently on that very same spot, thirty years later. Guess what? There was a gull-drifting above me. I watched it for a while. Joining up the dots.
It was as a pupil of this school that I first walked in woodland. The teacher that took us was called Miss Ambler-Ambler the Rambler. Being in deep woods, far from any concrete path or road, in that complete stillness,had an inner effect on me. I felt it in a juvenile, inarticulated way. From that day I have walked coasts and forests and mountains and river ways. I experience it still in an almost shamanic way, without the trance bit. Pretentious though that sounds.
Of all the seasons-and I love them all, my favourite is winter, in all its transformative beauty. The iron earth and starry nights.
And my favourite half of the year begins with autumn.
And autumn begins with September.
The first inward-turning month. As the nights grow longer, and rain hammers against the doors in an attempt to seek entry, it is the perfect time for reading, writing, and pampering our interior selves.
It is the time to quietly withdraw and conserve our energy by lamplight and fireside.
Oh and did I mention-it is also the time that the kids go back to school 🙂

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Orkney Odyssey 3: Time Tells

Feeling the need to return.

City Jackdaw

There is a romanticism and a melancholy to the islands.

An echo of times past. A hint of meaning that lies just beyond the wind. Meaning whose origin is adorned by labels: Norse, Pictish, Neolithic. A procession of markers that will outlive us all.

I wonder if living here day after day, year after year, causes you to be blasé about it all? Do the markers become invisible, blending in with the rest of the storm-shaped landscape?

I remember seeing a documentary a few years back about people living in the Scottish Highlands. Among all that natural beauty and dramatic vistas, the young ones were bored to death. They said that visitors would tell them how lucky they were to be living there. They would reply that there was never anything to do. They would amuse themselves by sending travelling tourists in the opposite direction of the landmarks that they…

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Midsummer. Evening.

On the evening of  this longest day, 2014.

City Jackdaw

Everything still looks the same, but a line has been crossed.

Any change, any shift, will for a while be imperceptible. But things, as always happens, will gradually gather momentum until all is transformed.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” my father used to say.

They didn’t wait for him. He never attempted to outrun, or withstand. Once you reach a certain age, there is an air of inevitability about things. But there is no great hurry. We can live riding the rhythms of seasons, of tides.

The sun begins to set, it does not appear any different to the way it set last night, or the night before. But a person knows. That is our curse. But it is also a blessing.

Today has been a good day, shared with family and friends, and the things that count.

In the morning the rising sun will place another bead…

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Seven Winds

Seven Winds

The seven winds.
Are there seven? 

Stapling 'Missing' posters to telegraph poles
sweaty black leather
and the odorous stink
of sex and B.O.

A slip with a girl's number on it 
found in the pocket of an old coat
ragged and threadbare

could she still be out there?
a fixed point
in a perishing dream.

Coffee. 
Caffeine doesn't keep you awake

it's a myth
it's the toilet trips
that need to piss every goddamned hour

slipping through the tincture of light
that crawls from the horizon 
with a Kirlian glow.

There are friends long gone
who festered for a while
couldn't take the hint

but maybe I was their project
grasping for words
as the dying gasp for breath

carving my affections
instead
into the flesh of trees.


©AndrewJamesMurray

New Year Carvery

You know, things go on. The world still turns, the seasons follow their customary order, stretching ahead from those first, unwitnessed moments. It is man’s tendency to carve time up into chunks, allot measures and names and meaning. Apparently this is the year of the monkey. But only until the portion we call January 28th, for then it becomes the year of the rooster.

I’ve even heard that this year we are adding an extra second-a leap second, to compensate for a slowdown in the Earth’s rotation. That’s going to cock the fireworks up, isn’t it?

I’m not sure if we make it up as we go along, I put my trust in the experts. Maybe we could add an hour-give everyone some extra drinking time?

The days are gone when I spend New Year’s Eve in a pub, congratulating everyone after the countdown with a firm handshake, a kiss, and “Another year closer to death.” But that’s just me-I temper it with a smile. But you guys know that, for you follow City Jackdaw.

But I will join in and welcome (after impatiently waiting that extra second) the carved segment that we will call 2017. And 2016: close the door on the way out.

image
Hope you all have a great New Year’s Eve, however you want to mark it.

See you on the flip side. Let the segment begin.

Twilight Time #1

The time-between-time. Still my favourite.

City Jackdaw

I overheard a conversation today between two people. I didn’t intentionally listen, but they were sat behind me on the bus, and so I was a captive eavesdropper. They were talking about what their favourite time of the day was.

By favourite time, I don’t mean 2.34am, or 15.12pm. Rather, the portion of day that they preferred.

One announced that he was a morning person. The other snorted, claiming that he had always been a ‘night owl’.

As we carve up the year into seasons into months into weeks into days into hours, I suppose we cannot help but hold them to comparison and have preferences.

My favourite season is Winter. My favourite half of the year begins with Autumn. Or Fall, as they put it more poetically across the pond.

But what about my favourite time of the day?

I love twilight, that time when the daylight noticeably…

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