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September 2012

Fairies on the move...

Faery by Brian Froud

This weekend, my friends Mia Nutick, Sarah Froud, Toby Froud, and their 'Blood Sugar' Plum Fairy Team will be walking through Portland, Oregon to raise money to stop diabetes. And Toby is doing the whole thing on stilts! If you can help by making a donation and/or by spreading the word, the fairies (and I) would be ever so delighted and grateful. More information can be found here.

Go, Team 'Blood Sugar' Plum Fairies!


The speech of trees

Tree 3 6x8

From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

"To our indigenous ancestors, and to the many aboriginal peoples who still hold fast to their oral traditions, language is less a human possession than it is a property of the animate earth itself, an expressive, telluric power in which we, along with the coyotes and the crickets, all participate. Each creature enacts this expressive magic in its own manner, the honeybee with its waggle dance no less than a bellicose, harrumphing sea lion.

"Nor is this power restricted solely to animals. The whispered hush of the uncut grasses at dawn, the plaintive moan of trunks rubbing against one another in the deep woods, or the laughter of birch leaves as the wind gusts through their branches all bear a thicket of many-layered meanings for those who listen carefully. In the Pacific Northwest I met a man who had schooled himself in the speech of needled evergreens; on a breezy day you could drive him, blindfolded, to any patch of coastal forest and place him, still blind, beneath a particular tree -- after a few moments he would tell you, by listening, just what species of pine or spruce or fir stood above him (whether he stood beneath a Douglas fir or a grand fir, a Sitka spruce or a western red cedar). His ears were attuned, he said, to the different dialects of the trees.

Tree 5 6x8

Also, Katherine Langrish is re-running the Fairy-tale Reflections series over on her wonderful Seven Miles of Steel Thistles blog, and my essay "On Fairytales" has been posted for it's second go-around today. (Thanks so much, Kath!)


The songful dimension of language

Nattadon morning, 1

From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

"Human language, for us moderns, has swung in on itself, turning its back on the beings around us. Language is a human property, suitable only for communication with other persons. We talk to people; we do not speak to the ground underfoot. We've largely forgotten the incantatory and invocational use of speech as a way of bringing ourselves into deeper rapport with the beings around us, or of calling the living land into resonance with us. It is a power we still brush up against whenever we use our words to bless and to curse, or to charm someone we're drawn to. But we wield such eloquence only to sway other people, and so we miss the greater magnetism, the gravitational power that lies within such speech. The beaver gliding across the pond, the fungus gripping a thick trunk, a boulder shattered by its tumble down a cliff or the rain splashing upon those granite fragments -- we talk about such beings, the weather and the weathered stones, but we do not talk to them.

"Entranced by the denotative power of words to define, to order, to represent the things around us, we've overlooked the songful dimension of language so obvious to our oral [storytelling] ancestors. We've lost our ear for the music of language -- for the rhythmic, melodic layer of speech by which earthly things overhear us."

Nattadon morning, 2

Nattadon morning, 3


Word magic

Cows in the lane, 1

From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

"All things have the capacity for speech -- all beings have the ability to communicate something of themselves to other beings. Indeed, what is perception if not the experience of this gregarious, communicative power of things, wherein even obstensibly 'inert' objects radiate out of themselves, conveying their shapes, hues, and rhythms to other beings and to us, influencing and informing our breathing bodies though we stand far apart from those things?

Cows in the lane, 2

"Not just animals and plants, then, but tumbling waterfalls and dry riverbeds, gusts of wind, compost piles and cumulus clouds, freshly painted houses (as well as houses abandoned and sometimes haunted), rusting automobiles, feathers, granite cliffs and grains of sand, tax forms, dormant volcanoes, bays and bayous made wretched by pollutants, snowdrifts, shed antlers, diamonds, and daikon radishes, all are expressive, sometimes eloquent and hence participant in the mystery of language. Our own chatter erupts in response to the abundant articulations of the world: human speech is simply our part of a much broader conversation.

Cows in the lane, 3

"It follows that the myriad things are also listening, or attending, to various signs and gestures around them. Indeed, when we are at ease in our animal flesh, we will sometimes feel we are being listened to, or sensed, by the earthly surroundings. And so we take deeper care with our speaking, mindful that our sounds may carry more than a merely human meaning and resonance. This care -- this full-bodied alertness -- is the ancient, ancestral source of all word magic. It is the practice of attention to the uncanny power that lives in our spoken phrases to touch and sometimes transform the tenor of the world's unfolding."

Cows in the lane, 4

Cows 6* 6x8


Moonwise

DSC00725

Another fine artist (and good friend) here in our magical little village has joined the Mythic Arts blogosphere. Please visit Susie Yorke's Moon on the Moor for beautiful paintings, sketches, and reflections on Dartmoor life. In addition to being an artist, Susie is a master acupunturist, a lover of wilderness, a devourer of books, and the fabulous lead singer in a swing/jazz/blues band called Cuckoo Club. (Howard is the band's percussionist.) You may remember her name from the "On Your Desk" photo series; her workspace was featured last year.

I'm about to start that series up again, by the way -- so if you haven't contributed, or if your work space has changed and you'd like to contribute again, you're welcome to do so. You'll find more information (and the address where you should send your photos) in the first post of the series. To view the full series (so far) go here.

On Your Desk, Susie York