In Spring last year, just after we moved into our wonderful Granary, we made a couple of decisions about our ‘garden’, First we planted a small meadow – a small thing in the scheme of things - but which last year delighted us for months with poppies. clover and a myriad of grasses (this year it’s been full of daisies, but now the Cow Parsleys and purple clovers are coming into their own).
The second was to scatter bird and bat boxes around the place, and these two moves have come together in an unexpected and delightful way.
In one of the bird boxes that we put up on the wall of our large barny, sheddy thing, a small hive of bees has made its home. The swallows don’t need it – they seem to have plenty other places to nest – but the bees seem to have been grateful for it!
All day, they emerge from the hive – tracking across the clover meadows, picking up pollen and nectar, and returning, disappearing into the yellow wax network of tunnels they’ve constructed for themselves. It’s been a real sense of joy to stand and just listen to this big, beautiful buzz of life from this simple little box.
A wonderful event in September exploring creative unpsychology, ecologies of mind, wild therapy and joyful futures.
THE GATHERING - This soul-makers’ gathering is being held over the weekend of 26th - 28th September 2014 (from 4pm, Friday until 4 pm, Sunday), at the wonderfully quirky Old School Hostel in the village of Trefin, with the breathtaking Pembrokeshire coast path just a couple of hundred yards from the hostel.
You can download a flyer for this event by clicking HERE.
WHAT WE’LL EXPLORE - During the weekend we will explore and develop new integrations of psychology, creativity and therapy for turbulent times. The gathering will be a forum for inquiry and deep conversation to question cultural assumptions about mental health, wellbeing and therapy. It will support you in developing life practices and resources for yourself and others you may live and work with
HOW WE’LL WORK TOGETHER - The course will be led by Steve Thorp - independent therapist, teacher and writer - together with other practitioners who will facilitate and support sessions during the weekend. The group is being kept small (maximum 30) so that everyone who attends has a chance to make contributions throughout the weekend.
As well as the main programme, there will be opportunities to lead a 45-minute fringe session. You may have something to say about unpsychology, ecology, activism, education, mental health or soul- making you’d like to tell people about: a personal story, a project or publication that will contribute to our overall integration.
WE LIVE IN A TIME when the stories don’t work for us any more. Our psychological stories are part of this crisis. We’ll explore how psychological distress is related as much to social inequality and cultural and ecological disconnection as early childhood development or brain chemistry. We’ll tell some new stories and start to do something about it.
WHO ARE SOULMAKERS? - A soul-maker can be any of us! Soulmakers will prepare for new realities, tell new stories and ‘re-mind’ our culture. They’ll help craft responses to social, cultural and ecological crisis that are up to the job.They will re-connect what has been scattered through art, activism and inquiry. They’ll help others by offering healing, clarity, courage, leadership, inspiration and counsel.
THE WEEKEND WILL INCLUDE:
Inquiry sessions: Exploring big questions around social, cultural and ecological contexts of mental illness, wellbeing and therapy.
Toolkit sessions: Exploring practical ways of making soul, developing wellbeing and sustaining activism for ourselves and others.
Workshop sessions: Learning and sharing frameworks and practice from the integral fields of psychology, ecology, art and science.
BOOKING - There are just 30 places and two ways of booking:
First– come as a residential delegate. Stay in a shared room at the hostel. Includes all sessions and meals from dinner on Friday through to lunch on Sunday. 15-20 residential places available, priced at £200.
Second– come as a day delegate. Stay in a B & B or campsite (or home if you’re local!). Package includes all sessions over the three days, lunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner on Saturday*. Priced at £160.
*Dinner can be added to the non-residential package on Friday evening for an extra £10
The world freezes. The hurtling arrow slows until Adam can see that familiar face, and beyond it a thousand others just like it. Giant, winged creatures, with human faces; some of them almost recognisable to Adam; reminiscent of some vague knowing from way back.
He feels thrust back in his mind into tableaux and scenarios from a life half remembered. In one flashback there is a party with Julia, and a man hovers in the background with the face of the vulture creature, a sly hurt flickering across his face as he holds a drink. In another there is a crowd of boys spitting at him, covering his school blazer with their saliva, as he sinks down in shame.
There are others, but there is one that stops the others in their tracks.
In this, a giant figure, his mother, looms above him, snarling. Her mouth is moving, he can barely understand what she is saying, but the words form: Don’t you ever; she says, don’t you ever take me away from him, again! And then the snarl turns to a smile and she reaches out and picks him up, and all Adam senses at that moment is the warm sweetness of her skin.
The horde of winged creatures speeds up again for the briefest of moments and then there is turmoil, as they are flung aside amidst the roar of fire and fearful screaming. Most plummet to the ground, their bones and entrails smoking. The others wheel in the air and beat their hasty retreat on giant wings; the vulture man at their head amongst them. He looks at Adam and calls out something in a voice colder than ice, a screech of frustration and promised revenge, and then he, and the remains of the host, is gone.
The world turns quiet, and the boy turns to the girl and smiles. But she is not smiling, she is looking over his shoulder at the figure striding towards them. She sees the tall, beautiful figure of the Queen approach, - her hands still glowing with the power she has just expended - and stop before them.
Adam turns, but the Queen looks at the girl. Don’t you ever; she says, don’t you ever take me away from him. And then she looks at Adam with a half smile, and sees in his eyes that he remembers. This battle has been won, and she is back in control, she thinks, and she has saved her son.
Perhaps this world is not so bad after all?
The girl notices something: that whilst the Queen could devastate the host of monsters, she can only whisper threats to Adam and her. She has no real power here. The pendulum swings again.
Eventually they stop climbing. The boy and the girl with the serious eyes have reached the top of the world. Out in front of them lies an endless plain of meadow and small clumps of normal sized trees that don’t seem lead to other levels of existence. There are no buildings, no tall trees, no human noise – no humans that can be seen in this wide expanse.
There is a light, cool breeze, the sun is warm and there are small clouds in the sky. Adam looks at the girl, and suddenly feels the same age as her. Her feels as if he could walk forever with her, hand in hand, across this world above the world, and never need to reach an ending.
Endings seem, to Adam, to be unnecessary, right now. He is vaguely aware that beginnings are also difficult, but he pushes this thought away and loses himself in the utopia he has created for himself.
The girl, on the other hand, seems agitated. It is the first time he has seen her like this in the hours they have been climbing together. Till now, her self composure has been a reassurance to him; has taken away the need for him to make a decision (beyond the initial climbing of the tree) or to do anything but follow her surefooted climb up into the world above the world.
She sniffs the air. Her dark eyes bulge. Her body is taught. Waiting. She has been here before. The appearance of heaven, she recalls, is always deceptive.
And now Adam is beginning to feel…unsafe. He is certainly not grounded, even though there is grass beneath his feet, for he is aware that thousand of feet separate him from the world he knows to be real. He remembers Julia, wonders where she is, how she is, wants the safety of her holding him. Feels like this is a nightmare.
Now Adam is watching too. Sniffing the air. Looking out onto the empty plain; into the empty sky; testing out the grass and the ground beneath his feet (did it move just then, was that a tremor?).
There is a long pause, as if they both have had their breath stolen from them, and then a scream. The girl is screaming and pointing into the distance, and there is a moving wedge of black, like a skein of geese - but these do not seem to be geese: the perspective is all wrong and there is malevolent purpose in their flight. They are heading out of the sky and diving towards them. Descending gradually like a giant spear arcing towards its target.
Run, she shouts, run. And Adams turns, and just before he turns to run back towards the canopy of the giant tree they have just emerged from, half a mile or so, he sees the face of something he has only ever seen in the dreams he wakes from, screaming. He sees blood on its face, and doesn’t know that it is Julia’s blood; but he runs anyway, runs like he has never run before.
They are watching as the boy walks on through. The queen and the feathered nightmare; the mother and the ghost of the undertaker bird.
He stalked Julia long ago, and later died from wounds inflicted by her indifference. She had held the knife, even as he plunged it into his own wrists, and scored it upwards, gasping through the vodka haze at the sheer terror and pain of it. He did not die until the throbbing agony had reached a point at which death was welcomed as relief as much as for revenge. Poor Julia, she never even knew him. Such is the madness of the love of a carrion bird!
Death was a bonus. He realised that, here, he had access to dreams he could only have dreamed of. When he was alive and mad, he only wished to be the ghost-bird-made-flesh; to rip her face for turning it from him all those times: in the street, and the coffee shop and the parks as he followed her round the city.
He found his way to Adam’s dream, and found the crack of insecurity and longing that was the boy’s weakness: the vulnerability that allowed Julia to love him, and that made his troubled need open to the skies.
From then, the troubled nights that had been habit for Adam since childhood (muffled birth and baby screams; separation and greedy longing) became so much worse. The vulture ripped through the troubled, muffled home in his mind, and there was blood, and pain and, worse, a total lack of comprehension at the sudden fuckup of feather, claw and clamour that his nights had become.
No wonder he held Julia, tight, no wonder he needed her more. He never knew that, in a screwy sort of way, it was her fault that he was having the nightmares in the first place.
The thing that killed Julia swooped down from a surprised winter sky and tore her from the pavement on which she walked. The people who saw it could not believe it – a thing half-man, half bird plummeting into the city, talons the size of knives, a greedy beak ferocious and hateful, wings that spanned the road and darkened the street as they carried the vulture man down to claim his first prey in our world.
Julia had met him before, of course, and this was an act of jealous revenge; she would not have known what for unless she had time to ask, examine and remember, and time was something he did not give her.
First, as he landed, his talons pierced her shoulders, and for a moment those watching had the impression that she was carrying him, her face rent in a silent, final scream. Then he pecked at her head, and tore away her face and the screams of those watching were matched only by his Caw! Caw! as he raised his head and screeched triumphantly into the city air.
He then began methodically to tear Julia apart. She was dead now of course and felt no pain, but the horror was in the watching and the vulture man was aware of this. He wanted to become a legend, a feared myth – to reinstate the deep archetypal terror into this world where it has long been sublimated in the machines of progress and the modern demons of reality, and concrete experience.
He wanted to become fear itself, the embodiment of an emotion that has long lost its potency, and has been lost in a forest of secondary emotions and symptoms – anxiety, stress, frustration, dissatisfaction, loss and longing. Nothing but a traditionalist, he wanted a return to deep fear, despair, hate, revenge and loathing.
Later in that day, in another world, he watched from high up as the boy and the girl walked along wooden pathways through the roof of a forest and thought of how he could make revenge more delicious. He could still taste Julia’s blood and it made him smile and want for more.
We will think differently of him now. He is, after all, Adam’s worst nightmare made flesh and feather.
Did the Queen make this happen? Does her influence, her magic, reach into our world too? We can hope that she is still only powerful enough to open gateways and talk to her son, but we have our doubts. We think of her already as evil, though all she has done is create a world in which her eldest son can walk. She has a task for him, that is true, but what is that she has she done to warrant our hatred?
Was it she who killed Julia? Did she cause Julia to die? The answer is no.
There is a hint, then, that she is not evil, that she is only doing what she has been called to do – which is to meet his calling in her own. In her land destiny cannot be denied as it can in ours. There, the price of failure is eternal limbo of the kind that our religions calls purgatory.
In our world we can deny our destiny and all that happens is that we die suffering, regretful and screaming against the sudden realisation of what we have lost and could have had within our grasp if only we’d had the courage; but in death the suffering ends and then what is left is the regret of others.
As a little girl, Julia had been precocious and admired. Luck stayed with her all her life and her promise grew as she did. Always true to her character, her daemon had no need to intervene on behalf of Julia’s soul. In this existence, the god in question had chosen an easy and rewarding vessel.
Of course, in the world of the falling stars, life on earth is not judged by its span, rather the quality and integrity of the life that the chosen has lived on earth. Had Julia fulfilled her destiny? Was she all that she, Julia, could be? Had she grown down into the world?
As the answer to this question was, yes, there was no tragedy in the fact that Julia died young; though that was not how those who loved her experienced it at first. The shock of someone in their prime dying - and in such a sudden, senseless way – reminds us that we too might die young, and that for us it might be before our life has been lived. For our destiny is not a predictor of our time on earth, rather the mapping out of what we might become if all things were equal.
In Julia’s case all things were equal, and if she died in awareness she would know this and would not have regretted her passing.
And perhaps she crossed over to somewhere, and was still in the world (a world) in essence? Now there’s an intriguing thought.
On that morning Julia drank tea with the boy she had chosen to live her life with. Adam was beautiful and dark, as she was golden. They were each other’s other side, when they made love they crossed over and became the other. It happens in this world, but is unusual as in most couples at least one of the partners are feeling caged. That is one of the pains of this world, and people like Adam were never prepared to accept it. Perfection, the perfect romance, the perfect life were all within his grasp, he believed, which is why he was with Julia.
But only Julia was complete. Adam was only complete when he was with Julia. That was the difference, and it made all the difference. It was why, on that day in the city, Adam walked across to the other place, helplessly following his mother’s voice, his life-task still unfulfilled, while Julia was able to die.
When she walked to work, she looked up into the blue fresh morning and could feel her love for the city. She had a fresh smile and her hair was how she liked it best, loosely curled and bobbed long to her shoulders. She could still taste the tea faintly; and Adam’s flavour clung to her hair – that beautiful, twisted boy who she alone could make happy.
We’ve extended the deadline for Unpsychology submissions till the end of Feb - good, well written, new thinking on wellness, mental health, therapy and ‘wild mind’ would be very welcome! Contact stevethorp (at) lifescape (dot) org (dot) uk with any questions!
A journal of post-civilised neurodiversity and wild mind
Unpsychology is an attempt to scavenge our own consciousness from the ruins of industrial civilisation. To trace a path through our current climate crisis of the mind, and find ways of living in whatever lies beyond.
When Adam was eight, his mother had another child. A brother. The early December night he was born was bitterly cold and snowy, and she went into labour at around six o clock. David left the house at about seven with a pile of coins to go to the phone box in the village. Adam, who was a good boy, went to bed at eight. It was a long, quiet night.
David could not get through to the midwife, or the doctor’s surgery for ages and when he returned, frantic and apologetic, two hours later he said that a midwife was driving from B…., but would take at least an hour in the snow. Lucy, his mother, was getting regular contractions. She did not cry or moan however, but looked at her husband with ferocious love and held onto his hand.
Later, much later in the night, the midwife had arrived and, into the morning, Adams’s brother was about to. Adam lay in his little bedroom next door, awake he thought, perhaps drifting in and out of dreams, but aware all the time of how quiet it was next door. Occasionally a voice he assumed was the midwife’s would say something, and sometimes he heard David’s more familiar tones, but it was eerily quiet. Adam could hear his own breath and this seemed so noisy and disturbing that he almost willed himself to stop breathing. Something like fear welled up but he knew that he must not express it, no crying, no getting out of bed. The fear disappeared somewhere inside him, as if absorbed by his body and he entered a kind of trance in which one voice was heard, one figure was seen. She was grey, and shone coldly and he knew her so well. She soothed him in her fashion.
Once, that nigh,t he heard a click as his father left the room and his footsteps echoed down the hall, and they felt like they belonged in the same place as his mother spoke from.
Next door, his mother was determined not to make any noise despite the pain that was ripping through her body, She must be strong, she must not be defeated as she had been with Adam. She bit one by one on a pile of David’s handkerchiefs until they were sodden and was pleased and triumphant that when the baby was born at three forty-five in the morning she had shed not one tear.
When, years later, his father had told him this story of his mother’s silence in the face of the pain of creation, he was filled with a sense of cold power and awe and the thought of her determination scared him more than anything in his life. He felt sorry for his brother and the burden he had been expected to carry.
The best days for Adam (he remembered) were when he was a little bit too sick to go to school. Then he would be put to bed, where he would sleep for an hour or so in the warm, welcome fug of a low fever that he loved so much. Then he would allow himself (or was allowed - he could never quite recall) to creep out of the covers and gather up his toys, books and games. Then he could start to construct his imaginary worlds on the candlewick counterpane, and play quietly for the rest of the day. On a good day he could fill his room with a marble runway that stretched from the chest of drawers to the floor, improvised from piles of books and boxes and other furniture.
His mother, downstairs left him alone, only coming up occasionally to bring him hot milk and ‘light’ food to settle his stomach – scrambled eggs and white bread and butter. She hardly spoke to him when she came, but sometimes he would look up at her and see her standing there staring at him. On her face a expression that he read as love and…something else: fear, uncertainty, hate even? Certainly there was a question in her presence, as if she was uncertain of him or needed to keep him in his place.
Which is where, of course, he stayed.
Her world was a mystery to him. On his ill days she would not go out and all that he heard was the faint sounds of cleaning or kitchen clanking. No voices, not even a radio. It was if his mother’s voice could not make itself heard, even by her own house. Other mothers sang or played the radio full blast and sang along to that. They welcomed friends (like Adam) and gave them treats. Adam’s mum did not encourage his friends to come, and when they did she would leave them to play, leaving milk and biscuits out for them on the kitchen table. She would be somewhere else; Adam was vaguely aware that in a small house there were not many places to be unseen, but his mother managed it.
Once he saw her walking downstairs and she seemed translucent. A kind of grey light seemed to surround her, and she seemed oblivious to the stairs, the house, to Adam to anything. He remembered this image well into his early adulthood and, on the one hand, held it as a fond memory of a perfect mother who shone in her child’s eyes. Yet underneath he knew that she was not really there and she had never shone – not for Adam in any case. The sadness he felt when he thought this was so overwhelming that he preferred to live his life around the first explanation and this is the one that he stuck to, until in time, the more accurate realisation faded to almost nothing and, like his other emotions, were tucked away for another day.
The days his father came home from sea were the only moments he saw his mother come alive. Once when he was about seven he returned from school to find his father in the front room, sitting with his mother. He turned and smiled at Adam and seemed about to speak, but Adam’s mother looked at him with a kind of greed, pulled his face towards hers and kissed him. Only when the kiss was over did his father, David, get up and greet his son, shrugging a little apologetically as if to say, what can I do son?; but Adam saw that he wanted her hunger as much as she wanted him. His eyes shone, but not for Adam.
So both of Adam’s parents went away. Adam’s father went to sea. Adam’s mother to somewhere else entirely.
She whispered to him. Climb down, she whispered, climb down and continue your journey. The boy decided instead to follow the light. He could hear her insistent voice, but she was too late, she lost her chance and, for now, he was free of her.
He gazed up and saw the dancing, green light far above and began to climb. His limbs felt strong and lithe and he made good progress but the light did not come much closer. He climbed on all fours, walking up a branch as wide as a footpath and using his hands to steady him and guide him. The branch felt smooth between his hands, and although it got darker the further he went up, he could see that the surface of the tree was covered in a grey, mottled bark. The tree felt so alive, so safe, so wonderful – and Adam felt the beginnings of joy breaking as if through a cloud – shining awake a memory in which he saw Julia dancing, smiling, loving. In this sun they both were held, contained – dancing together, clasping each other.
Each trembling, dark leaf was ecstatic as he climbed. It was like a meditation with two rhythms: the first, a drum beat that carried Julia and Adam on their dance to heaven, the second, the shuffle, shuffle of his climbing feet as he rose up through the tree towards the light. As the pool drew nearer, his mind grew clear and Adam woke - for the first time for decades it seemed - on the pathway through an ancient sentinel, along a road as worn as time, as new as spring. The air smelled verdant and wonderful.
Adam was breathing deeper with the effort of the climb, with the passion of his memory, and then suddenly the air became fresh, and he emerged out into a new place, a landscape of green, stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction. He watched as two kestrels courted overhead, deep in the valley of trees - swooping and teasing each other in a slice of time. He listened as birds called to him, to each other – their songs lifting above the drumbeat of desire that still echoed. He saw insects on the surface of the branch which held him steady, and could hear them rustle and hum as they scuttled, like him, towards the light.
When he looked round there was a girl. She had a familiarity about her, and a serious appraising manner. She also seemed to know him very well. She wore a grey robe that matched her serious little eyes. She had black hair, and olive skin.
She spoke. Who are you, man? she said. He found that he could not answer, but then she smiled. You are Adam she said, I knew you were. She reached up, held out her hand and Adam took it. They walked along the treetop paths and alleyways towards a distant cloud that hung pink in the morning sky. As they got closer he saw that the cloud was shrouded round an even bigger tree whose top was obscured in its midst.
Shall we climb this one too? She asked. Where shall it take us?
From above them the vulture man watched. He had expected them. He had heard the queen’s whisper, felt her helpless rage as the boy climbed up out of her reach, out of her creation. I will wait, he said to himself, perhaps I can profit from this.
There might be another choice for Adam. What if her voice was not as powerful as it seemed? What if the world was beginning to grow, to create itself despite her?
We are not told whose world this is. All we were given by her was a tree and a sparse, silent landscape. The girl, the birds and (we can imagine) the burgeoning life that might be beginning to populate this place do not belong to her.
Perhaps Adam has another choice anyway. Perhaps the dappled, pool high up along the tree that reminded him of blissful endings is too much of a draw for him? The tree offers a journey, an adventure even – certainly an alternative to the Queen’s unimaginative (so far) creation. She worked fast that is true, but a landscape without sounds, a tree without birds, a world without people?
And yet the creation is emerging layer on layer. I do not think she is in control, not really. She seems a bit like a novice in this game – and Adam is not naïve nor without strength of character – although he is profoundly damaged. He could make a decision that would take him somewhere new. We can guess that the girl will be there anyway, she seems to be part of this story.
When he climbed down, he saw he was naked. His small, sleek brown limbs felt fresh and lithe. He remembered being older somehow, but that this form, this child, was who he was, who Adam had always been. He looked around for his mother, did not see her, but heard her voice whispering to him and smiled.
When he looked up there was a girl. She had a familiarity about her, and a serious appraising manner. She also seemed to know him very well, and in that moment he became bashfully aware of his nakedness.
She was not naked, but wore a grey robe that matched her serious little eyes. She had black hair, and pale skin. She spoke. Who are you, boy, she said. He found that he could not answer, but then she smiled. You are Adam she said, I knew you were.
She held out her hand and the boy took it and they walked towards the glimmering that was the lake. She cocked her head, listening to this world, and then nodded as if she had made a decision about what was needed here. With a casual wave of the hand that was not holding Adam’s she conjured up a sound. One note, maybe two – and Adam was suddenly flooded with memory, and a word sprung into his mind: bird. He laughed, and the bird sang more notes of its new song.
Soon the morning was filled with the sound of birdsong. The girl nodded again and Adam smiled and tightened his grip on her hand. The queen was puzzled, then angry. Who was this girl-child, what was she doing to the world? This was not part of the plan. She felt rage rising like a flood but she knew she had to be more controlled, more dignified than that. Others may be watching. It would not do to be found wanting this early in her reign. She staunched the flow.
The girl was plainly a test; a trial. She would be defeated, she will be no match for a Queen. I – the mother of my boy, the mother of the world – will destroy her in a blink.
But underneath the bravado she heard the whisper of uncertainty, an echo of her son’s fear. She did not know where the girl had come from or why, and this confused her. I must not succumb she thought, I must not succumb.
In this story the beginning is not necessarily the start of things, merely the point at which we become aware that the story is emerging. That day when Adam woke in the city next to Julia could have been the last day he ever spent there. That evening he could have been standing on the corner; a living statue – and the next morning he could have walked into the next world.
There is more to Adam than meets the eye – more to Julia too. Where shall we follow them from this beginning at the heart of things; forward or back? Do we want an explanation or an unfolding at this moment? Do we want something else?
Perhaps we need to know where the clues that have been dropped take us. The Queen is his mother but who is she and how did she become the voice of new creation? Julia dies, but when and how? And Adam is still an enigma to us – somehow he is travelling through his own story blind, as if pulled by a faithful guide dog he trusts implicitly. He is clearly troubled; the city has not been good to him, though at one time it must have promised him hope.
We need, then, to travel back.
When he woke in the embrace of the ancient tree, Adam felt as if he had also always been there, lying in it branches. It felt like the safest place he’d ever been. He looked up into the dappled canopy. The branch on which he’d been sleeping seemed to go on and up like a road into mountains. Here, he thought, was a new country to explore – a place he would be always feel peace. Climbing this tree would be like how, as a child, he had imagined dying and going to heaven would be. He had heard that when some people died on operating tables and then were revived, that they reported seeing a beautiful light down a tunnel towards which they travelled. Adam could see (he imagined) in the distance, down the branches, the same kind of light, It was aquamarine and dappled and rippled like a bright, late winter sea and pulled him towards it.
The boy almost decided to follow the light, when his mother’s gaze snapped back to him. She had been distracted for a while, but in that moment realised that even the world she created had lives of its own, and that she should be wary of them because they had no purpose except their own existence, and held no loyalty towards her or her project. Loyalty in this world (the form she had created to accommodate her son) relied on will. She was only a queen because of the strength of her own will and purpose; only that held any currency here.
She chose to exert that will now and whispered words to him that he was unable to resist. Climb down, she whispered, climb down and continue your journey.
She also had to decide what to about his fear. She decided that he had to become a child again.
Adam woke in the branches of a giant, old tree. He felt the lichens soft against his cheek, against his skin. The sap smelt sweet in the spring morning. He heard nothing except the faint rustle of leaves. He felt a flutter in his chest and was reminded of fear.
Adam woke into the room in the city where he lived with Julia. He could feel her breath whisper against his cheek, could almost taste the baby-sweet breath that she always woke with. He heard the hum of the city far below. He felt a flutter in his heart and was reminded of love. Which reminded him of fear.
He remembered the dream he had often woken from, yet today lay back, calm and at ease and soaked in the morning. When, on other nights, he woke, sitting up bolt upright in the sweat-filled shock of a dream that had almost stopped his heart, she would whisper ‘it’s not real’, and stroke his hair. Was that his mother, or Julia? He could not remember, caught as he still was between two worlds.
Which story, which beginning, which world? Does it really matter where we go and what we reveal? The Queen will still have her way. Julia will still die, the boy will still walk blindly through creation. The world will still disappear when he does. What does a story matter?
And whose story are we telling? The Queen told her story and a world was created – perhaps this is hers after all. If we tell Julia’s story it will end with her death but it will tell us something of where she came from, and where others: the boy, the queen may be heading. We could tell the story of the tree; though it has only just been created, it is as ancient as worlds and the tale would take forever.
Is the boy Adam really at the heart of things? Is his name symbolic of beginnings, of temptations, of allegory and creation? Is this a tale of gods and glory, or of waking from blindness into understanding?
Adam shifted in the bed and slowly awakened. Each time he woke next to Julia his heart almost burst. He wanted to reach out and touch her, to draw her to him, to love her; but he let her sleep a little longer, watched her for a while then, when he saw her softly stir, kissed her hair, breathing in the morning scent of her and got up to make tea. When he returned he watched her drink it out of the corner of his eye, while (as often lately) he tried to remember why he was here. Sometimes Julia was the only reason he could give himself, and this frightened him. Once, he thought, he had been someone for whom the world mattered, now the only thing in the world that mattered was in this room and when she left it for work in a few minutes he would feel bereft.
Then, when she had left he would dress and remember that he did some meaningless but well paid job a few blocks from his flat, and stride out of the door to meet the day.
Sometimes Adam felt mixed up and mad. He knew that his life had some history, some meaning – but for the life of him he couldn’t remember either. It seemed to him as he walked that habit was all he had left; as he picked up his coffee, an almond croissant from the patisserie on the corner, bought his paper, took the same route through the streets rain or shine, and entered the building which housed the company that provided his current job. And, by the time he had reached the fifth floor and entered his office, habit had spread to his emotions and his thought processes as well as his body and he was able to smile to his colleagues and start a successful (but, he reflected, hollow) day’s work.
When the world was new, the boy was oblivious to its birth. He was captivated only by the voice that seemed to speak to him from the world; that he loved more than the world itself. Now, when he stopped to look around him, he found himself standing in a meadow, beside a tree. In the distance a lake shimmered, and unfamiliar grass that rustled around his legs. The air was as soft as the caress of a vaguely remembered hand on his cheek. The voice whispered to him in memory even as the caress faded.
He saw that the tree was old, wise and as broad as many of the buildings in the city he had walked from, one day in his life, once upon a time. He remembered the city as if from childhood – one of those places you’re never sure were real or seen in a dream. The colours of memory were faded - in comparison with the vibrant landscape he stood in - or maybe the city had just always been grey.
He noticed, with a clutch of fear in his chest, that there were no sounds in this place except the faint rustle of grass in the breeze. He could not remember what he should be hearing, but he knew that silence was not it. Perhaps, he thought, soon I will be terrified. Perhaps, soon, I will wake.
The tree seemed benevolent and understanding. He thought that if he was enveloped in its branches he would be safe and free from the terror that threatened him from deep inside. He knew the warning signs, the creeping despair, the cold grip on his heart – he knew all these things – they were remembered in his body. He would climb the tree to escape them and sleep in the grandfatherly branches. Perhaps forever. The boy was lost and he was beginning to know it.
The Queen, his mother, had other ideas. The growing fear suited her purpose and she knew that to stoke that particular flame would help to guarantee the success of her project. She felt some concern for the wellbeing of her son but, though not benevolent in any way, she was sufficiently old and wise to know that suffering is not death; that fear is as much fuel for the flames of courage and passion, as it can douse them. However she was willing to give the boy some rest (and was tired with her own labours) so did not stop him when he started to climb the gnarled old tree, orwhen he settled into the embrace of a soft, lichen encrusted branch and slept.
He did not dream before he woke.
What was the boy’s name? What was his history? Are these questions relevant to this story? We shall see. In any case there will be no harm done in relating something of this. It will, at the very least, give him character – a voice. It may even cast some light on the reason he came to be lying asleep in a tree that reminded him of his grandfather, whilst a deity who seemed to be his birth mother watched on with a mixture of satisfaction and impatience!
At best, telling his story may be telling the story that is here to be told. It may weave a simple seamless garment, sew a quilt of panels that when separate are as different and varied as stones on a beach, but when together reveal a picture that is beautiful and true, or one of horror that is yet nevertheless equal in truthfulness; for no-one can claim that truth must be beautiful. Or perhaps what is true is that beauty can have horror hidden behind the eyes.
Across the veil he had heard a voice. Deep and musical, yet unmistakably female: a queen. The Queen. She spoke to him of his life, of the reasons for his calling. She uttered spells that were stories, words becoming long tales unfolding in his mind throughout his whole life, planted there in an instant: encapsulated worlds, seeds of universes, grains of the future and germs of the past. All he was aware of was the street where he hardly existed now (becoming more and more a ghost thing to the astonished watchers) and the Voice that guided him across the divide.
The Voice began to speak a new world that he walked into existence. It rushed past him as if in a hurry to be born. He walked on high mountains and down into their grey-green shrouded valleys; followed dashing streams down to their brackish rivers; their rivers down to their restless seas. He walked under deep oceans, coming ashore on stony beaches. Towns and cities tumbled by him. And still he walked and still she spoke to him; her love and wisdom matched only by her cold determination. She knew what was to come and his place in it and, though he was her child and she had fed him from her breast, she was firm in her mind that if he faltered or failed her she would discard him. A terrible mother, unlike any other. How could she be like this with her beloved first-born?
Her answer: This creation comes first. Her boy second.
If he’d given it a thought, he might have thought ‘that’s not motherhood, mother!’, and become angry or upset. But he didn’t think because he didn’t know, and he just kept on walking.
Was the new world much like the old one? What would have been the point in creating that? The landscape she spoke into existence resembled the world he had left, but it was all show. The world beyond the veil, the one that is separated from ours only by a dimension we cannot perceive or imagine does not need form to justify its existence.
It is transience itself.
The world he walked in was a glorious creation – his mother created it, with her words, only for him - yet when he left it forever it would simply be left abandoned for eternity, as if it had never existed. When the next visitor arrived, the new form would be carefully and lovingly crafted for them.
The boy stood transfixed by what he knew. He stood in the middle of the street while traffic circled him noisily. He could not help but ignore the shouts and yells and the blaring horns. He had no choice. He was elsewhere.
The dawn was breaking when finally he walked away. No-one had moved him on, perhaps sensing something monumental in him. His body encapsulated memory in the way that statues do, and although they did not know the history of their new landmark in their midst, the watchers in the city sensed somehow some intangible, internal significance and gave him a wide, respectful berth.
He stirred, as if waking from sleep and stretched once. Then resolve took him and he set off purposefully down the street. They watched him go. His resolution drew their respect, and of course they were inquisitive. Strangeness was often amongst them, but on a normal day the strangest people were loud and transient. The drunks and beggars and street urchins were intrusive and demanding, sometimes colourful, seldom dangerous – indeed often profoundly fearful - but they never stayed long. They would return, but he (the watchers knew) would not. They witnessed the start of something, and that too marked him out as different.
The city was a place that witnessed endings. People came here to escape their beginnings, to throw off their memories, shedding the skin of the self they had been. They came in hope and ended in a bar or a gutter or an office somewhere coughing up the city’s soot and cursing its heart. They made up the numbers - the countless numbers - and marked countless endings.
The boy was beginning. Like the people of the town, he was leaving something behind. A life. Unlike them, his would not end in the city. The story of the boy who stood at the crossroads became a legend for a week or so (a long time in the city) and the storytellers ascribed all sorts of meaning to their living statue. They said he was a prophet whose message was in what he never said. He was, they said, the ultimate holy man, profound in his silence. Oh! what he could tell the people of this city - this wounded place - about endings, if only he would speak his prayers!
His truth was altogether simpler. The boy had simply walked into the street that night and walked off the following morning. He had no intent, no spiritual quest, no psychological journey. He was just there for those ten hours, and yet had no memory of where he had been and what his experience might have been. Then he just walked off and left his self behind.
Pale, thin light of morning touched him as he walked. He was translucent; like the ghost of an idea. Like the visual remnants of a dying family. And yet he never quite disappeared. There was just enough substance in him to be seen, yet hardly sufficient to leave a footprint. As if he was walking mostly in another world where there was a little less gravity; a little less rainfall; a little more time.
A journal of post-civilised neurodiversity and wild mind
Unpsychology is an attempt to scavenge our own consciousness from the ruins of industrial civilisation. To trace a path through our current climate crisis of the mind, and find ways of living in whatever lies beyond.
In some ways, our feelings on ‘mental health’ have changed dramatically over the last hundred years. The great Victorian asylums of the past now lie derelict— mouldering reminders of the people (particularly women) who were shut away for everything from post-natal depression to infidelity. When we think of them at all, we congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come.
In doing so, we brush over the pervasive image of the ‘mad’ as knife-wielding psychopaths, when, in fact, those suffering from ‘mental illness’ are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. We ignore the growing medicalisation of the diversity of human expression and experience. Everything from bereavement and stuttering to anxiety and depression is classified as ‘mental illness’, to be ‘cured’ and ‘managed’ with clinical, evidence-based therapies, and the drugs provided by multinational pharmaceutical companies.
While some are undoubtedly helped by these methods, such a narrow paradigm also robs us of the basic experiences of life–with its births, deaths, righteous anger and distress. This is before we even begin to discuss those on the fringes of mainstream society: dominants and submissives, therian and otherkin, anarchists and activists, gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals, all of whom still struggle not to be classified as ‘mentally ill’.
It re-affirms diversity and the independence of our own minds. It re-claims the psyche through self-education, self-development, and community-based support for the non-neurotypical. It builds new rites of passage to replace the ones that we have lost, and draws on the work of many other exceptional groups of people trying to live their lives beyond the confines of the medical and psychotherapeutic establishments: from the Hearing Voices Network and the Icarus Project to the Psy-Commons and the Dark Mountain Project’s Uncivilisation.
We seek to integrate progressive, imaginative and wild approaches to healing, therapy and development that makes sense in what sometimes seems to be a crumbling world.
The magazine (which we hope will be the first of many) is co-edited by writer and activist Allegra Hawksmoor and independent psychological practitioner, Steve Thorp, who is exploring these issues through his work on 21soul. We are looking for fiction and non-fiction, poetry and art, with a particular focus on the practical and generative. Some suggestions for pieces likely to find a home in this journal are:
How neurodiversity is handled in activist circles, and activist approaches to the non-neurotypical;
The relationship between mental health, hierarchy, culture and capitalism;
Articles which provide creative critiques of dominant paradigms and narratives of mental health and illness, wellbeing and happiness;
Suggestions for post-civilised rites of passage;
Mind-hacking and punking the psyche;
Stories of confronting and integrating the Shadow;
Ideas for community- and self development-based alternatives to medication;
Non-Eurocentric approaches to psychology;
Practical Jungian and archetypal self-development;
Activism in mental healthcare: How radicals are treated by mainstream psychotherapy, and the political role of mental health institutions on maintaining the status quo;
Therapies which focus on creating meaning, stories, imagination and soul, connecting and integrating the ecological, soulful and relational aspects of ‘self’.
Experiences of the mental health system from those who are transgender, otherkin or belong to other ‘minority’ groups;
Living with diagnoses and experiences of schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress, post-natal depression etc etc;
The environmental or ecological mind. Nature as therapy. Greencare and ecotherapy, and the imaginative integration of eco-psychological approaches with other progressive therapies.
Explorations of the the lives of John Clare, Louis Wain and other famous mad folk;
The psychogeography and urban exploration of ruined asylums;
Practical herbalism for the non-neurotypical;
Art, writing and creative pursuits as therapy;
Fiction with non-neurotypical protagonists;
A guide to the meaning and reality of dreams;
Mythical and allegorical stories serving as guides to dealing with bipolar disorder, eating disorders, autism-spectrum conditions etc;
Art and stories written by the non-neurotypical and those working outside (or within) the system;
Depictions of mental illness and mental health care in the media;
How-to guides for writers looking to increase their representations of non-neurotypical characters;
Meditative practice and mindfulness as tools for dealing with anxiety and depression etc.
Deadline: 31st January 2014
Word limit: up to 5,000 words (will consider works that run a little over) We invite all kinds of fiction, but have a particular interest in the speculative (for example, subversive genres like steampunk, cyberpunk and dragonpunk). Bonus points for anything that uses a fantastical setting to consciously reflect the truths of our world and societies.
Word limit: up to 5,000 words
Essays, polemics, interviews, memoirs and diaries, manifestos and biographies all welcome. We’re particularly interested in practical, ‘how-to’ style articles and guides, and have a bit of a soft spot for travelogues and travel journals.
Length: up to 100 lines
Poetry can rhyme, or not, as the author chooses. Our preferences lean towards lyrical and non-rhyming, but this is by no means a hard line. More than anything, we appreciate poetry that is beautiful in its darkness as well as its light.
Dimensions: 297mm x 210mm (A4)
Due to printing constraints we are only able to accept works in black-on-white, and are unable to consider greyscale pieces or photography. Pen-and-ink drawings, woodblock and linocut pieces are of particular interest. We’d also love to have artists involved who are interested in creating specific illustrations for the stories and articles in the ‘zine. If you’re interested in doing that, just send some samples of your work to the submissions email address below.
All submissions should be sent to:
vagrants [at] amongruins [dot] org
Fiction, non-fiction and poetry submissions should be in a easy-to-read font such as Arial or Times New Roman, and should be attached to the email in .doc, .rtf or .odt format.
Artwork should be in .tiff format for preference, and should likewise be attached to the submission email. We will also accept links to online portfolios of work.
Unpsychology – some principles, beliefs and values
Unpsychology is a human community – all humans are welcome. It’s a non-human community too - all non-humans must be held and privileged in an ecology of mind.
Humans – each of us – develop throughout all our life. However, some keep the blindfolds on and don’t face the truth. Unpsychology asks that we each develop to the highest possible version of our selves.
Unpsychology has three human fundamentals – original soul, social animal and ecological mind – all three are in every one of us. Unpsychology asks that we embody these in the broadest possible version of our selves.
It is self evidently true that we face crises of ecology, economics, culture, social inequality and psychology. We owe it to the world to bring the higher traits of elegance and imagination to bear on these.
Psychological distress mainly (but not exclusively) emanates from the world out there (aka. Civilisation), rather than the world inside. Madness is predominantly a social and cultural phenemona.
Ecological distress emanates mainly (but not exclusively) from human ideas, beliefs, behaviours and technologies (aka. Civilisation).
Unpsychology does not accept the assumptions of the Civilised mind.
Unpsychology is integral: it recognises that all positions hold some experiential truth; it is a process of 'and-and' not 'either–or'.
Determinisms of any kind (nature or nurture) have no place in Unpsychology – everything is overdetermined.
Unpsychology recognises that some voices are favoured while others are repressed. The cultural stories most told are those that dominate – Unpsychology must give voice to the unheard stories.
Sometimes some of us need to step back (we know who we are!). This might because our voices have been too often heard. Unpsychology must be about an equality of mind.
Unpsychology is activism. None of the realms of the self should dominate – activism can and should be be social, soulful and ecological – all three are urgently required, they are not mutually exclusive.
Find out more about uncivilised, unpsychological soul-making HERE (21soul Project) and HERE (Dark Mountain Project).
“our culture is very historically minded. There are other cultures that are not historically minded at all. They’re much more concerned with whether or not the trees are in good shape and are speaking to you. Much more concerned. Or whether the river has changed course: that’s something to worry about. My goodness, if the fish turn belly up, that is far more important to my soul than what my mother did to me when I was four. Can we imagine that way? What I’m trying to do is simply imagine in this way, rather than make a literal statement that the fish are more important than my mother.”
There has been a lot written about the state we are in – as humans living on an earth with depleting natural resources – but one way of thinking about the ecological and economic crises that we face is that these are partly down to a narrowing of how we human beings see our ‘selves’. In short, these wider crises in the the world out there, are mirrored by a psychological crisis in each of us, one that has crept up on our culture over the latter years of the twentieth century. Writers like Richard Louv and Jay Griffiths have chronicled the disconnection of childhood from nature in the so-called developed world, and it is reasonable to link this growing separation of our cultural life from the earth on which we evolved, with the difficulties we find in solving the world’s problems, and with the unhappiness we often feel. And James Hillman, in particular, chronicled and lamented the loss of soul from psychological and cultural life.
It’s not as if we don’t know what is going on. Although one response to knowledge is denial (as in the eccentric cognitive spaces inhabited by climate change deniers), most of can see that the lives we are encouraged to lead are unsustainable and unfulfilling, and yet we don’t seem to have the courage or vision to create ones that are. Although we rightly sometimes feel angry and frustrated, it might not take as much as we fear to turn things round if we can abandon “the Biblical doctrine of dominion which has governed our relationship with the natural world”as George Monbiot puts it. If we are optimistic about the future, we begin to see that nature is almost infinitely adaptable; that humans – if we turn their collective minds to solving a problem – can often come up with something; that it is possible to reach a psychological and material balance in our minds that can give us something that feels a bit like happiness!
However, in order to do these things we are going to need thought-leaders and leaders-who-do-things who can articulate vision and make a difference. We need highly developed people, with elegance and radiance, who have broad wisdom not simply experts who are skilled or knowledgeable in one discipline, or politicians who are more short-term and shallow in their thinking than the rest of us! We need people who can connect relationships with ecology, science with ethics, art with politics, business with ecology – people who can live with polarities and thrive on the energy they create. We need twenty-first century soul leaders and activists.
“The creaturely, the wild, the soulful animality of live being – how we lost it is one thing, but how we recover it, and what we do to protect and respect it in ourselves and in the world about us, is another.”—John Burnside in the Guardian, 20th January 2012.
When did I realise that love was overrated? Probably at the times when I was loving most cleanly; seeing most clearly how wonderful this intensely human, emotional connectivity can be.
Yet it is precisely at these moments that I realise that it is not nearly enough. The one thing that we yearn for, cry over, hope for, reminisce about - love, attachment, relationship - is only ONE strand of life. Sometimes our lover, or grandchild or soul friend makes our life very special indeed (and this has come to me recently with the arrival of Freya, who, for the past ten and half months has forced me to change the way I experience love and commitment) but even then there are other energies bubbling up that I cannot ignore. Not all of these are positive and ‘good’; certainly not all will lead to happiness, but I must follow them nonetheless.
The other day, someone asked the age-old rhetorical question: if your life was over what would you have like to have spent more time doing. The answer for me was instant: writing poetry. And what do you wish you had spent less time doing? Well that’s a harder one, no instant answer, but a deceptively tricky little one: I’d like to spend less time worrying about when I am going to spend more time writing!
So I’d actually like to BE in the moment more (whether that is being with Freya, being on the water - surfing, or being with a poem I am creating). This BEING is really nothing to do with LOVE - it’s not even about ‘loving myself’, that mythical magic injunction of self-help. What it is about is being open to whatever is in my life right now - whether that be an impulse, a person, an environment; and this is a more challenging thing to be than it might seem.
Sometimes being open means being vulnerable to currents and storms of cruelty and indifference. Sometimes being open means being with a sense of flatness and ennui. Sometimes being open means understanding that the important connection, right now, is with something deep in the world and not just the person lying next to me. Sometime being open means allowing what is emerging to emerge without any commentary or judgement.
And all this is so hard. No wonder we sometimes stick to yearning for perfect love! Life can seem so much simpler that way!
I became sick at this new consciousness as it bled into me - flu sick, proper sick, like with a high temperature and tight, pounding head and everything! It wasn’t until days later when this red storm subsided that my body told me a new story, and the sickness became more like regret or yearning or that deep hollowed out feeling that comes with the ultimate realisation of the irreversible.
Calm, I told myself, be calm. It is not too late, you have miles on the clock – you have time enough to figure it out before the chugging engine coughs its last. My optimism was misplaced, as it often is, and the acceleration of decay set in: my skin greyed and my hair thinned and my limbs wasted in alarming fashion. Before long, I was not the body I had thought I was.
I crumbled slowly into the air, which took me into its molecular embrace and held me there. I could feel the boundary of my skin and air vibrate and coalesce; I felt more, I felt less, I felt carried, first on a faint breeze, then on a gale. Then, another accelaration, and here I am travelling at the speed of fright on a vortex of myself. And landing, soft landing, into the belly of the earth at the precise spot where one day I will be buried or scattered.
For now, I am reconnected with my fevered self; the red and orange flame that burns me down too quickly for my soul and leaves me pyred in the cold ashes of canting ambition and intent. If only I had known, if only I had seen - I sigh as I prepare to sign off. Then there is tinkling laughter, almost too faint to be heard, and I understand that this ludicrous reawakening of a child was completed on the day I bled brine and burned.
As a therapist and coach I often find myself working with people whose deep awareness of the damage that human beings are doing to ourselves and to the planet makes them deeply unhappy. It is a rational and appropriate response; but sometimes we haven’t been able to develop the resources and responses to deal with this as well as we would like.
21soul is a new coaching and teaching practice aimed at helping people live and work authentically, deeply, ecologically and creatively in the context of these challenging times. It is for those who carry great sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, creativity and anger at the state of things.
21soul is an exploration of practice based on the 21st century soul that we all have to live with and through! It is for poets, artists, thinkers, practitioners; artisans, builders, writers; therapists, teachers, gardeners; musicians, naturalists, designers and visionaries; craftspeople, leaders and entrepeneurs; activists, greens, socialists, progressives, conservatives, integrationists; humanists, agnostics, believers and atheists. It is for anyone who wants to survive, thrive and be part of the change to come!
I’m looking to trial some of the ideas and structures and I’d like to offer you twofreebies in return for twofavours:
a free lesson and worksheet that will introduce the ideas of 21soul
a free 45 minute coaching session that will start you applying these ideas to your life and work
In return, all I’m asking is a couple of favours:
Some feedback on what value these ideas and practices might have for you and how you think these could be taken further
If you like what you see, then I’d be grateful if you could let anyone you know about the 21soul programme – you could tweet it, forward this email or just have a conversation with them and encourage them to join my mailing list!
“Who in their right mind aspires to “work hard and get on”? This kind of language makes you want to inject heroin into your eyeballs. What you are being told you may aspire to is simple: know your place.”—Suzanne Moore in the Guardian 20.3.2013 - on George Osborne’s cynical budget.
Let’s say for the sake of simplicity that human beings - all of us throughout our history - are born to operate in the realms and constellations of three different selves - the soul self or essence, the social self and the ecological self that is sometimes not a self at all, but a constellation of ever-changing experience of a shape-shifting earth.
Each human culture has had its own dynamic balance between these three, and while some might see human development as an onward and upward civilising process, something is inevitably lost if a culture becomes blind to any of these dimensions. Our own civilisation - and the psychology that has developed to explain its mind - is fixated with the social self to the extent that the other two - the soul self and ecology of mind - hardly get a look in.
This might explain why we got into the mess we are in, and why we still find it so hard to create the solutions that may, even at this late stage, be possible. We have a one-track mindset, so to speak, that is obsessed with the social aspects of human being, and that finds it almost impossible to locate and access these other two dimensions in meaningful or sustainable ways.
I’ve had a bit of a barren couple of months, if truth be told. A lot of travelling, loads of ‘admin’ and then a lot of feeling tired, and a tooth abscess that flared up, not once, but twice.
And on one hand I want to enjoy the moment - to live in our new barn near the sea, and walk and run on the beach, and sit in this peaceful, wonderful space that has been created for me. And on the other, I want to change a little piece of the world; to write and create something that makes a difference.
The two wishes cancel each other out, so all I am sometimes left with is the frustration of inertia. I forced the hand of the first wish, and have been walking, running, surfing (cold!) - even a bit of meditation - and it has done me good. But I have found it difficult to get the creative juices going again: for the poetic image to emerge, for my voice to be heard.
And so I picked up Neil Gaiman’s book of short fictions and wonders, Fragile Things, and lost myself in it for a couple of days. To be honest, this was a bit of habitual escapism; but as I travelled through his bizarre tales and poems, something started fluttered inside. My own stories were stirring in response to his, and I was reminded that the dark worlds of faery and fakery are always there be written about and re-imagined.
So I’m going to trudge once more to the foot of the dark mountain, take a deep breath of the clear air, and start climbing.