Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Mystic Spiral and the Green Fuse

'The force that through the green fuse drives the flower' -  Dylan Thomas 

At this time of year, every year without fail, I become obsessed by spirals.  I see them everywhere, although this year I have discovered they are mostly impossible for me to capture on my camera, being in many cases more esoteric than physical. 

To my eye, the year unfurls in spirals.

Slowly unwinding from winter's sleep the rampant upthrust of surging green heralding the rampage of leaf and life.  The year uncoils .

I suddenly notice spirals where there have been spirals all along, quietly waiting out the cold and the wet, appearing to my eyes as magnificent heralds of the years turning.  If this fellow hadn't already been eaten by a toad he'd have come out and laughed at me.

Like this one did when I interrupted his breakfast.  

Spirals speak to me of the path towards gnosis: The winding outwards of experience that becomes a winding inward of self knowledge, ultimately arriving at the place of stillness.  And then we begin all over again, taking the next step - just as the winding outwards of spring towards summer before the winding back of autumn towards winter loops lemniscatically round year after year.  

Spring seems to be coming very slowly this year,  the occasional warm days keep falling back into the arms of the mists, replacing all that budding green with a veil of mazey white.

Even so, underneath the uncertainties of whether I should put the washing out, whether the blackbird should lay an egg today or wait,  a coat or not a coat,  the land is thrumbing with the bursting abundance of multiplying green and my soul is fizzing with questions and that quest towards knowing that thrusts its way up through the layers of last years loam, shakes off the last threads of winter's dreaming and demands to be noticed.  The green fuse, the life force, the divine spark requires that growth occur in all of us.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup

I am drunk with the joys of spring, utterly intoxicated with flowers and leafbuds and the unfurling of wildness in the upthrust of green.  My heart soars with the birdsong in the morning, so warblingly, loopingly, lavishly loud that it seems as if the earth herself has opened her mouth to sing.  There was a Goldfinch here this morning but it didn't sit still for long enough to have it's portrait taken.  For the last few days it's been gloriously sunny so we've been in the garden planting out and mending things.

Fergus mended what had been barely more than a pile of stones at one end of the garden and made a stick henge for the beans.

While I picked things.

One of the many pleasures of spring for us is Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup, It's delicious, health giving and pretty much free! This humble 'weed'  is a natural cleanser that gently stimulates the lymphatic system, supports the liver, kidneys and can also relieve the symptoms of conditions as diverse as Arthritis, Gout and Lupus - to name just a few of it's magics. Truly a medicinal herb worthy of our respect.

Daisy and Druid thought there might be something interesting afoot....

The basket on the right has Ground Elder in it, one of those wonderful edible plants that seems to have as many names as there are places you might find it; Herb Gerard, Bishops Weed, Gout Weed, Snow-in-the-Mountain to name a few, it's actually a member of the carrot family but its leaves look a bit like Elder leaves, hence the name I suppose.  I've found that this is another wild plant made very much more delicious by sharing a pan with some Wild Garlic. Although actually as long as the leaves are young it's pretty yummy by itself.

If you can't find Wild Garlic then Jack-by-the-Hedge will do nearly as well.

Here's my Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup in one of Sharif Adams's beautiful hand carved wooden bowls. I wouldn't normally photograph my supper but it was so gloriously GREEN.

We made Wild Garlic Pesto with the leftovers.  A scrumptious and potent potion if ever there was one.

And then on a different tack entirely - home made Easter Eggs.

Happy Oestre,  Happy Easter, may your basket be full of good things to eat.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Page Three

'Page Three' - there's every chance that if you grew up in England you can't read these words without thinking of a young woman in nothing but her knickers on the third page of one of our national newspapers. If you haven't yet signed the petition asking for this to stop you can sign it here. I find the human body incredibly beautiful and am a great fan of the nude in art, but to me a naked girl in a newspaper - there for the titillation of the readers and in no way 'news' - is the tip of a pornographic iceberg that objectifies women and insults men.

Women are suffering more violence around the world than most of us can bear to think about, according to a recent article violence against women is an 'extensive human rights abuse' with one in every three women within the EU reporting some sort of physical or sexual abuse and one in every ten having experience sexual violence.

There are many, many ways to attempt to help the situation if you feel called to do so.  This one is local to me.  'Page three' made me feel sad and angry in equal parts and I couldn't ignore what came up for me.  

So (big breath, change of tack) - I would like to offer you a different kind of salutation to the feminine.

The ancient feminine, the wild feminine, the crone face in the rock.

The spring maiden, the mother of all or the crone of wisdom.  I offer you my reverence and my unashamed love for 'all that is'.  Both the feminine

And the masculine.

And especially their union and balance.

And my heartfelt wish that you and I and all of us can find our way to this balance.

So may it be.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Why April is Yellow

I've been looking forward to April, which is odd because I don't much like yellow and I've realized that to me April is yellow.  At first I couldn't figure out why, there are lots of yellow plants around at the moment of course; the obvious ones like daffodils,  

And just while we're on daffodils - has anyone else noticed how many different kinds there are this year?Incredibly beautiful, but so very different from a standard, yellow, trumpety daffodil. 

There's the yellow of the secret natives of the bare places like Coltsfoot and the yellow of the head-bobbers of the wide open fields and waysides like Buttercup.  And there's the yellow of the lane edges and the hedgerow such as Charlock and Lesser Celandine 

There are the pale yellow petals and bright yellow hearts of Primroses 

But these aren't it. These are not why April is yellow.  April is yellow to me because of the dandelions.
I love dandelions!  I love that they are so plentiful and that they are beautiful and fun - who didn't enjoy blowing clocks when they were small.

I love them because they are one of our most useful edible plants; they are an amazing tonic for the liver, a diuretic to purify the blood, cleanse your skin, improve bowel function...(I could go on and most likely will at some length in another post), but most of all, I love them because of this......


One of the finest drinks in the known universe.  Not even a little bit like whatever you have tasted before if you are thinking 'ew, homebrew, yuk!'  This is truly gorgeous, like drinking sunshine.  And it starts in April - when we go collecting buckets and buckets of dandelion flowers and painstakingly separate the yellow part of the flower (the petals) from the green part of the head (the sepal).

Once the wine is in the demijohns or barrels - depending on the quantity we've managed to pick - our house turns into a strange temple to the Spirit of Fermentation.  There are betubed containers in every  nook and cranny quietly 'blub, blub, blubbing' away.

Gathering dust and quietly transmuting the flowers of the field (in this case) into something so delicious I can't find words tasty enough to describe it.  Go on - try some - I think you'll like it.