Something Happy for the Weekend.
I heard this song on the radio the first year we were married. Back then I was stuck in a tiny flat by myself all day and often all weekend as my husband was self-employed in those days and often worked every moment he could to get a job done on time.
So I'd sit at home and wander about the internet and if I felt really lonely I'd put on the radio and dance around the room (curtains closed - we were a downstairs flat facing other flats and I didn't want to scare the neighbours LOL ).
This became one of my favourite "cheer me up" songs. I can yell the Chihuahua chorus really loud! :-D
Anyway, we eventually moved from the flat to a much better house. One morning I was in the bathroom, singing Chihuahua, when I heard a funny sound. My husband had returned home without me knowing. He was lying on the stairs crying with laughter. It was the first time he'd ever heard me sing my Chihuahua song.
You may hate this song, or love it, but I can guarantee that you cannot stay sad or grumpy if you sing it and yell CHIHUAHUA!
Go on.. give it try! ;-)
Friday, 29 June 2007
Something Happy for the Weekend.
In February this year I was sent to hospital by my doctor when an ongoing pain problem suddenly reached the horrific unbearable stage. The did three scans and loads of blood tests and the specialist came to tell me there were two possibilities. It was either an ovarian cyst.. or ovarian cancer. They'd know better once the blood results were back. The next day he said the blood results were "inconclusive" but suggested it was more likely to be cancer. Then he sent me home to wait till my operation date was due. It was originally planned that I'd be back within a week, but then I got flu and a severe cough and the operation was postponed a month.
A month to sit and think…
People get cancer and survive nowadays, right? I have three family/friends who are survivors of breast cancer. I can do this! I will be a survivor! Being a computer geek I went straight to Google and checked out "ovarian cancer". What I found wasn't optimistic. Truth is ovarian cancer is a very aggressive disease and survival rates are low. I had every single symptom, but this is a subtle illness - the symptoms aren't enough. You need those blood tests and biopsies to be certain.
For one month I had to sit with that thought. This was real. I really could die.
I felt.. mixed. I wasn't scared of dying. Oh, I was screaming freaking scared of pain, chemotherapy etc, just not scared of going beyond that. I don't see death as an ending, but more of being a doorway. That was exciting. Death has to be the biggest adventure anyone gets to take. I was okay with that, but not at all okay with what it might take to get there. And I truly was NOT okay with the thought of leaving people I loved behind. That thought was incredibly painful.
So for one month I spent a lifetime of thinking, then they operated and found out they were wrong. It was a really nasty cyst, but just a cyst. No cancer. I wasn't going to die. In a way I almost felt as if I'd gotten a second chance. Some people might celebrate that by taking up bungie jumping or go climb a mountain. I came home and started a blog. There's got to be a joke in there somewhere! :-D
I was okay, but ovarian cancer is still a disease that needs funding in order to that other women less lucky than I do get that second chance to climb that mountain.. or start that blog.
Today I received this email.
This woman is walking for ovarian cancer. Please pass her on so that she can reach her destination. Say a prayer for all those who are affected by this terrible disease. She's walking around the world --- via e-mail!! Pass it on so she can get there!
I can't get the original animated walking woman to work here, so I added a walking figure to the official ovarian cancer ribbon.
Keep her walking! :-)
Thursday, 28 June 2007
The Green Mamba is one of Africa’s deadliest snakes. It’s related to the cobra and like the cobra the venom affects the heart and breathing. It can kill within 30 minutes. It is a slender elegant snake with a light apple green skin. It’s also the nickname for the only car I have ever hated which hated me equally in return.
The Green Mamba was a bright apple green BMW 518, I think it’s year was 1974, but I can’t remember exactly. My dad had been doing work at a BMW showroom when the manager mentioned to him that the display car in the main window was going on sale. Would he be interested? An almost brand new BMW 518 for the less than half the normal price? What a question! .. and that was how the Green Mamba came into our lives.
My mom adored that car. It had real leather seats in palest cream and all the BMW trimmings. I liked it at first, but things would change as the years went by. Admittedly the apple green colour was rather bright, but since there were only two apple green BMWs ever made by the BMW factory in South Africa that kind of made us feel rather unique. It also made us stand out like a beacon in our small hometown which was a mixed blessing. You could never go anywhere without the entire town knowing about it.
Amongst my friends it got mixed reactions. A lot of them disapproved of me now being driven to school in a “snob” car. These were the same friends who didn’t mind quite so much when my mom took us all through to the movies in it. For the record you can fit seven teenagers, one dog and one mother in a BMW 518.
Our pet poodle hated the Green Mamba. It had bucket seats and a raised centre for the gear lever that made the front floor area very restricted. His first car had been a Ford automatic where he used to lie in the centre of the wide open front floor with his nose wedged against the air vent being force-fed the outdoor smells. The BMW had side air vents and nowhere for a dog to lie in luxury. Added to his misery there were no little side windows to poke his head out and the back window was angled to a degree where the sun came in and heated him up like a pie in a warming drawer. He’d spend an entire trip in that car moving from place to place sighing and glaring at us as if to say, “I’m in extreme discomfort and it’s all your fault!”
I can’t remember exactly when I started hating the Green Mamba, but I can tell you why. Within a year or two it started acting up. We’d stop at a shop or a friend’s house.. and it just wouldn’t start again. At first my dad tried to figure it out himself, then he called in friends and they would stand in the garage and stare into its unfathomable depths. When all their tweaking and fiddling left us no better off the Green Mamba was sent to the mechanics. Over the years that car was to visit every single mechanic in our area, and beyond. We even sent it back to BMW themselves. Everyone had theories about the ailment, but no one ever cured it. Thinking back the warnings signs had been there from pretty early on. A German mechanic friend had a look at it just after we bought it. He said the engine had been damaged and patched and we should sell it. It seemed crazy at the time that this sleek shiny new car could be “impaired” so my parents decided to keep it against his advice.
Whatever happened to it before it came to us it we’ll never know. All I can say is that it never worked like a sane normal car. You’d go for months with everything perfect and then one day you’d turn the key and.. nothing. We had the starter motor replaced as well as all sorts of other bits I have no names for. Car innards aren’t my strong point.
The weird thing is it never refused to start at home, it only saved this for humiliating annoying times and places. It would usually start if pushed and I have pushed that @#%* car more times than I even want to remember. I’ve pushed it in high heels and evening dress in the middle of the night, I’ve pushed it in pouring rain and gale force winds, I’ve pushed it uphill to be able to get to a downhill and I’ve pushed it across a main road in full rush hour traffic. It’s favourite trick was to "die" parked facing down so that you had to struggle, gasp and sweat to get it up and out before you could even begin pushing to start it. My personal all-time favourite memory is a day when I went with my mom to the doctor and had to push it wearing summer slip-on sandals. Every time I pushed I shot out my shoes. It was hilarious.
It’s also interesting to see who will stop and offer to help and who won’t. My all-time thanks goes to a lovely lady in gold jewellery and teeny gold sandals who pushed us when my mom came to get me from hospital once. I couldn’t push or drive and we were totally stuck that day until our glittery guardian angel arrived on the scene. How she managed to push us in those sandals is surely a miracle.
It had another sneaky trick too. Sometimes it would start if you let it stand a while, but there were no guarantees. So you could sit there like an idiot for an hour and still find it wouldn’t start. Plus pushing didn’t always work. Then you’d still be stuck, but now you were also stuck in the middle of a road. As this was in the days before mobile phones if we were stuck one of us would have to hike off to find a payphone. Can I now say to the mean old man in the video store who wouldn’t let me use his telephone even though I offered to pay - GO SUCK LEMONS! :-P I had to walk miles further to find a phone that day.
Why didn’t we get rid of it? Optimism kept us trapped. It looked so good and it sounded so good and to be honest is was a very safe and pleasurable car to drive - once it started. It had a way of hugging the road when you turned corners and a deep rumbly purr that made you feel you were driving something special. BMW is a first class car. Ours just never was “right”.
Which brings me to my statement that the Green Mamba hated me. I learnt to drive in that car, but once I had my license I rarely drove it. The Green Mamba had other ideas. I’d say, “I’ll drive to town today” and we’d walk outside and find a tyre was flat, or the battery dead. The only times it ever refused to start at home was on days I tried to drive. Once, when I got really mad and said, “I’m driving it tomorrow no matter what!” the water piper snapped while we were out. The engine block cracked and the entire engine had to be replaced. That was my wake-up call. I finally admitted defeat and stopped trying to drive it. From then on I only ever travelled as passenger and emergency pusher, never as driver. Over the years I got into the habit of going with my mom just in case she needed someone to push start.
My parents finally decided that the time had come for the Green Mamba to move on. A young enthusiastic friend begged to buy it. We tried to put him off, but he was convinced he could turn the old girl around. Life was busy and time passed. Then one day a family friend phoned to say, “Have you seen where the Green Mamba is now?”
He said he’d been on his way to work at about 5:00 am when he’d seen “them” . Three “ladies of the night” PUSHING a bright apple green BMW. We phoned the young friend and he confessed all. He’d sold the Green Mamba to an escort agency. A unique ending for an admittedly unique car.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Two weekends back my mom and I bought herb plants for the garden. Orange thyme, mint, origanum, chives and parsley.
Yesterday we went out to water them. The parsley is gone! Just a dozen little green stalks nibbled down to pot level.
Yesterday morning there were roe deer playing in the front garden at dawn. We have deep suspicions the parsley thief is one of them.
All in all I can live with that - anyone can have parsley, but not everyone gets to watch deer dance outside their bedroom window.
There are great photos of roe deer here.
Sunday, 24 June 2007
A big THANK YOU! to Amel for tagging me for a thinking blogger award.
"I want to give the award to Michelle (Crow's Feet) as she's been inspirational, informative, and soul-beautiful in her posts (borrowing her own term "soul-beautiful" in her post In The Image of God).
She doesn't need to find 5 other blogs as she's already done it in Kombai. I just want her to know that I appreciate her and she was the one who made me feel mushy-mushy first he he he... CONGRATULATIONS on having made a difference in my life, Michelle!!!"
It feels great to be awarded, but even better to have someone say I made a positive difference in their life - Especially of someone as nice as you, Amel! You made my rainy weekend feel full of sunshine. :-)
Since I have already tagged five blogs, and seen other blogs I love tagged, I think I'll give that part miss, like Amel suggests.
Friday, 22 June 2007
I am putting this tune from "The Blood is Strong" here, not because it is the one I mention below in my ten tunes list (I prefer the tracks where Karen Matheson sings), but because it shows pictures of the Isle of Harris. I bought my CD on the Isle of Harris and we visited all the places shown here. I couldn't resist that! :-)
I am delighted to be tagged by HollyGL (via Loz, ) for this one. To list ten songs that have mattered to me in my life. They're roughly listed in a time line order.
Edited in January 2010 to add that songs 5 and 6 were ones I used to write my book "First Light" to in the 1990s. :-)
1. Don't Stop me Now - Queen. This will always be my favourite "energy boost" song. As a teenager I used to play it while I got dressed to go out. I played it before my Matric Dance (like a US Prom dance) and I've played it before job interviews and once when I had to give a speech. It always energises me and leaves me feeling I could jump small buildings in a single leap.
2. Perfect - Fairground Attraction. A group I love and a song of theirs with special meaning. The day I had a chance to reconnect with an ex-boyfriend this song was playing on the radio. Although I'd always loved this song I was very unhappy to hear it that particular day. I knew it was telling me the truth - that he had never been "the one" and I should wait for that "Perfect" relationship. I never reconnected with that old boyfriend that day, or any other. I made the right decision and I owe it to that song.
3. Whole of the Moon - the Waterboys. The first time I heard this song (1980s) I thought "Wow, this is me!" I searched it out on You Tube, listened to it again and thought, "Wow, that was me!" :-D
4. Cruising for Bruising - Basia. I bought this record (yeah, still records back then) when I was in the middle of a most complicated time of my life. I cried buckets listening to that song. Even now, listening to it on You Tube, hurts. I love Basia, but I never could get over linking her with that time period in my life.
5. On Bended Knee and I'll make love to You - Boyz II Men. I know this seems cheating to list two, but these songs are so connected for me that I just cannot list one without the other. Around the time these were hits I was madly writing my one and only book (manuscript sitting in a box somewhere) - during the Christmas holidays. Those two songs were my inspiration for the romance part of my plot. I played them probably a thousand times while I was writing. I can never hear them now without remembering my writing.. and Christmas!
6. Toccata 5th Symphony for Organ - Opus 42 - Widor. The only classical music I really adore. I can fly on this piece of music. If I had my wish it would be to lie on the floor of a Gothic cathedral and listen to this played live - so loud that the gargoyles would blink and the stained glass shiver.
7. Domnhall - Capercaillie. When I came to Scotland to meet my future husband he introduced me to this Scottish group he loved. He bought their album, "The Blood is Strong", the first weekend of my holiday and we played it in the car everywhere we went. Then, near the end of my holiday, I bought my own CD to take back to Africa. That way we could play the same songs on both sides of the world whilst we were apart. To be honest, although this song is my favourite, that entire album reminds me of falling in love - both with my highlander and his incredibly beautiful country.
8. How Deep is your Love - Bee Gees. Two years ago in early summer I woke up singing this song. I'm not such a Bee Gee fan, so I knew it was a message, especially since I'd dreamt of asking a little girl on a tricycle to come home with me. I went to the doctor and she confirmed what I already knew - I was pregnant. I looked up the lyrics that afternoon:
I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I wanna feel you in my arms again
And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave
And it's me you need to show
How deep is your love
I really need to learn
'cause we're living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me
9. Run to Me - Bee Gees. For one amazing thrilling month I was a "mother-to-be".. then something changed. I think I already knew, but I went for a scan anyway. We were told the baby had no heartbeat. I finally miscarried a week or so later.. and once again I woke up singing another Bee Gees song, only this time I heard it later the same day on the radio as well. As I've mentioned to Jeff before on his blog - When I listened to these lyrics I knew that God had held me in love from beginning to end:
If ever you got rain in your heart,
someone has hurt you, and torn you apart,
am I unwise to open up your eyes to love me?
And let it be like they said it would be -
me loving you girl, and you loving me.
Am I unwise to open up your eyes to love me?
Run to me whenever you're lonely. (to love me)
Run to me if you need a shoulder
Now and then, you need someone older,
so darling, you run to me.
10. Heaven/Where True love Goes - Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens. Last, but not least. : -)
I was delighted when I found this song. Cat Steven's was my husband's favourite musician, so to find a brand new song for him to hear was such a thrill. When we listened to it the words fitted everything we feel and share together. A bit late in the day perhaps, but we finally have "our song". :-)
I'm not going to tag anyone, since several people I was going to tag have already been chosen. Instead I'm leaving this as an open invitation to anyone who wants to share their songs.
1. Each person who wants to join in has to write about 5-10 songs that had an impact on them in their life.
2. They should link back to me as well as HollyGL.
3. Then, if so inclined, tag five more people.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
This morning I have found myself on several blogs dealing with the more painful sides of Life - death, war, illness, pain, abuse. Last night I was talking with family about someone we know who made his son cry from stress this week. It triggered another old story memory for me. Someone I love once told me how she tried to shoot her father. In respect of her personal privacy I will say nothing more, except for one thing - her story didn't shock me. For some reason I have never been shocked by what people tell me. I've felt grief for the person, frustration at not being able to help, anger and rage often, but never shock. Not once, not ever, and I've heard both horrific and amazingly strange stories over my life.
Since I've never been shocked it is hard to understand why certain things shock others. I suppose it's rather like being blind and listening to other people complaining about how they hate a certain colour.
On "Remedial Rumination" HollyGL called them "Brutal Truths". I replied:
What truly staggers me is the fact that humans create beauty out of their brutal truths. I suspect we may be the only animal on this planet that does that. Other animals survive and move on, but only humans take those experiences and use them to Create.. is this perhaps how we are made in the image of God?
It felt like a small lightbulb moment writing that this morning. There is always Beauty. Is it because I'm always more amazed at the beauty within each story that I never have time to feel shock? I really don't know. I do know that no matter how appalling the past might have been people find ways to use their suffering to create beauty. It might be something grand and famous or it could go completely unnoticed by the outside world. It could be a painting, a book, a symphony.. or it might be a more compassionate heart, an ability to comfort others or a soul that stands strong.
The girl who almost shot her father grew up. She took her past and created herself from it. Not "pretty", not unflawed - but Beautiful. She is heart beautiful. Soul beautiful.
There is a word derived from ancient Sanskrit - Namaste. It is used as a greeting. In it's most simplest translation it is "I bow to you" or "I bow to God with you", but there are other translations of this subtle word.
Wikipedia gives this one, which I prefer:
"I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace, When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One."
A centre within us where the Universe dwells. Love, Light, Truth and Peace that can be scarred, damaged and dented, but never completely destroyed. That is the Beauty. That is how we are made in the image of God.
For today and every day - Namaste!
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
This list is in response to HollyGL's request for volunteers, inspired by her great random facts post
Ok, eight random facts about me..
1. I can hear "silent" dog whistles.. and bats sonic chirping. It always seemed such a useless ability, but kind of fun. My dad used to show my skill off to friends by calling me in from the garden with a dog whistle (*woof*).
2. I'm a twilight person. It's annoying because I get my best brainstorming ideas, and highest energy levels, around the time most people start heading for home or settling down for the evening.
3. My first true crush was Mr Spock in Star Trek. Seems I was drawn to the intellectual type even at the age of seven.. or maybe it was the cute pointy ears?
4. My high school history teacher had a plane land on the freeway behind her. It was a small plane making an emergency landing. Thank heavens she was near an off ramp and was able to get out of the way. No-one was injured. She said she'd never ever forget looking in the rearview mirror and seeing a plane coming up FAST behind her.
5. As a kid I wanted to grow up and be a vet or an opera singer. Since I'm allergic to fur/feathers and sing mediocre I never pursued either.
6. When I was eleven a blind psychic told me I'd be on TV one day. I've had some of my work (craft/art) on TV, but not myself personally. I'm okay with that actually. I really don't like the idea of being that visible.
7. As a little kid I thought there was a monster living in our toilet cystern. For years my mom could never figure out why I refused to flush. Now you know, mom!
8. I wriggle my toes when I'm happy and I crack them (like cracking your knuckles) when I'm thinking or concentrating. If you ever hear "crack, crack" in a museum or library.. that'll be me! Fortunately my husband thinks this is charming.
Wow.. tag 8 people? I don't think I can manage 8 because I'm sure I've seen a few people I know already do the random facts thing, so anyone wanting to volunteer beyond my chosen victims is welcome to join in. :-)
Monday, 18 June 2007
So dark! So dark.
I cannot see..
Closing in on me the dirt on my head is pushing me down
or am I pushing it up?
in this dark space of nothing-not-knowing.
there will be light.
Wind in your leaves and petals smiling.
and the seed remembers the flower,
and the flower remembers the sun,
and the sun calls to the seed to hurry,
spring is almost done,
and the seed grows up to the sunlight ,
because it remembers before..
as the flower
full of pollen
on the bee
in the wind
that touches the gardener
with the sun on his face and dirt under his fingernails.
The seed remembers
Saturday, 16 June 2007
Friday, 15 June 2007
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Yesterday I read a book quote at Amel's:
There were some sentences that stood out like an elephant in front of my eyes: No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone. There are no random acts. We are all connected.
It gave me a jolt because elephants have often been "messengers" for me, one way or the other. The first time I ever journeyed/travelled in meditation I saw an elephant. I asked him if he was African or Indian and he replied "All elephants are family. We are one."
All of my life's journeys and adventures have kept coming back to these sentences - We are all connected. We are one. Nothing is random or coincidence.
Yesterday I read five people on different blogs saying how surprised they were to see something they had written. Thought or done that day on someone else's blog as well.
No random events? No coincidences?
I have belonged to several internet forums, ranging from sceptic to spiritual. Although very different in their choice of topics, all of them were specifically designed for teaching and learning. With blogging I had thought I was breaking away from the whole learning/teaching experience, but I've come to realise that even here learning still happens. It comes from the same source too - sharing. Sharing our knowledge, our experiences and ourselves.
Most people I have met online are here to learn more about themselves. Some don't realise it, but many are consciously aware of the fact that they are writing out their thoughts in order to understand themselves better. To learn what lies within by looking at themselves from without.
I've learnt that everyone I have met online has served to be my teacher, one way or another. Every internet encounter I have had has shown me things I needed to learn about myself. I suppose that is why I do believe in a higher power, since I have always received exactly what I needed to learn and grow at exactly the right stage along my life's journey. I love that! I also love reading other people's words and seeing how other people are dealing with their own life journeys and challenges. That's why the list of blogs I read is so varied - because every life journey is interesting and worth reading. Like Amel's book says:
No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone. There are no random acts. We are all connected...
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
Jeff, I'm changing one - the first. Because I really want a wildlife/nature spot and N for Nature worked in the best!
NEWS FLASH is basically news or thoughts that may be changing over time - an update or an evolution of thought that covers a multiple of topics. It is what makes a blogger tick and it is the reason why we read. So, with that in mind, I came up with NEWS FLASH as an acronym that stands for what is going on in life:
News (or current events)
Entertainment (movies, TV, celebrity, etc.)
Work (thoughts on the job or employer)
Spirit (thoughts on God and/or the supernatural)
Family (or friends)
Anxiety (a rant or a trouble)
Sports (those who have no interest in sports can be creative such as contests, reality tv, recreation, cards, games), and
Home (house, yard, or even another family type of thought.
Our garden has exploded with baby birds this month. We have two young robins bobbling about in the flower beds, a nest full of blackbird chicks beneath the bathroom window in a creeper plant and two coal tit chicks who are very cute but irritating. They follow their parents going "peeep-peeep-peeep" the entire day. The blackbirds are my favourites because dad blackbird sings fantastic songs every evening from the highest trees at each corner of his territory. Plus the blackbirds are well-behaved. The robins were a surprise. I've only known robins from cute pictures on Christmas cards. The truth is that robins are bossy, aggressive and really amusing. Mr robin thinks he owns the entire bird feeding table and spends so much time trying to chase everyone away that he forgets to eat. His kids aren't aggressive yet, but they both refuse to be scared of humans and ignore us if we walk in the garden. I've stood a metre away and watched a young robin beat up an earthworm.
Tonight is the second semi-finals of Celebrity Chef on TV. My family is addicted to this show. Every episode has made us hungry as the contestants invent new exotic dishes to impress the judges. They're down to four celebrities now. Midge Ure is one. His Asian-style dishes have been fantastic. Last night their test was to cook outdoors in an army mess. The winner was an actress/mum who made meatballs in tomato sauce and chocolate chip muffins with custard.
I've been chewing over starting up my old astrology consultation business again, but I keep dragging my feet. I feel like I want changes, to try something different, but… ? This area is a total blank in my brain at the moment.
My spirit guide has indicated an interest in blogging. That gives me horrors as just explaining why/how I ended up with a spirit guide would take forever to explain. Oh and "guide" is a very loose term for our relationship. He suggests and I mostly query, argue or ignore him. Sometimes I listen, which probably surprises me more than him.
Family and friends
Today we're going to visit neighbours who are becoming friends. I hate visiting or being visited and yet I like people. It makes things tricky as I really enjoy company and talking, fun etc, I just don't enjoy having people in my personal space. I'm kind of the aloof extrovert.. or friendly loner.
My husband - Sandy (Alexander). Who always reads my writing - as long as it is short. Long blog posts he stares at and says "Do you mind if I don't read that?" :-D Mind you, he always listens to me when I grumble, fret, worry, whine or rant - even if I go on for hours on something he totally doesn't care about. Plus he lets me cry when I need to, even though he hates seeing me in tears. And he has given me permission to wake him up at any time of the night if I have a bad dream and need a hug!
Who could ask for more?
Anxiety (a rant or a trouble)
I hate grocery shopping. I really truly hate it. I hate the noise and people riding over your feet or bumping you with their trolleys. I hate the lighting and the narrow aisles. I hate the fact that there are way too many choices. I don't want to spend my life deciding between twenty types of every single item. This week all I wanted was plain old toothpaste, but I had to wade through lightening, plaque control, fresher breath, new oxygenated (huh???), new lighten and brighten etc etc.
I am so unsporty! I do love limited-overs cricket, but it isn't on the TV as often here as in South Africa and I've slowly grown out of craving my cricket "fix". Sport makes me think of beer so I'll write about beer instead. I love Scottish beer. A big surprise as I've never liked beer before. Scottish beer has no hops in it. For some reason that makes a difference my tastebuds love. More malty, less bitter.. I'm starting to drool. :-D
Home is a tough one. Since I moved to Scotland we've rented and due to other circumstances we've moved five times. Moving five times in four years is not fun and does not leave you with a sense of "home"! This latest place is fantastic and we all hope it stays "home" for a long time.
That was fun! Thanks Jeff. :-)
Friday, 8 June 2007
Thursday, 7 June 2007
When I was a kid my mom had this book of old English folk tales. My favourite story was Herne the Hunter. Herne rode with his pack of hounds wearing a hat decorated with stag antlers. There are many variations on the story, but the stag horns he wears remain a constant through them all. The reason there are so many legends is because Herne never existed. He is based on a Celtic god called Cernunnos..
..and Cernunnos is linked to the Greek god Hermes (or Roman Mercury)
..and the even more ancient god (depicted on seals dating back to 3,000 BC) found in Nepal and India called Pashupati..
..and some historians believe that both Cernunnos and Pashupati are based on prehistoric Neolithic shamans.
You can find an example of a Neolithic "shaman" in the 12,000 year old cave paintings in Ariege, France here
About.com says this about Cernunnos:
His Celtic name is unknown, although he may be associated with Derg Corra, the early Celtic "Man in the Tree." Cernunnos is a Roman name meaning "horned one." He is often associated with Herne the hunter, a character of British folk myth, and the "Green man" of European architecture. Roman invaders associated Cernunnos with the god Mercury.
The reason we don't know his real name is because the Celts had no written language, but they did leave us their art. Over 60 known depictions of the Horned god have been found in Europe, spanning a time period of over 500 years. The most famous depiction of Cernunnos is probably the one from the Gundestrup Cauldron, which was found in Denmark. Here, as in most of them, he's depicted as a man with stag horns sitting cross-legged in the lotus position. He's also usually surrounded by animals, especially a stag, and he's often shown holding a very odd animal - a snake with ram's horns.
The ram-horned serpent is particularly interesting. The serpent occurs in myths all across the world, and is nearly always associated with knowledge. Usually these associations are purely pagan, but remember that it was a serpent that tempted Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. It is also commonly associated with death and the otherworld..
There is undoubtedly a connection between our modern horned devil and the Celtic Horned god. Since Biblical references never describe Lucifer as horned it is most likely that the early Christian church transformed Lucifer into the Horned god because of the snake-knowledge link, or because by making the opposition Celtic god "evil" they could more easily persuade his followers to convert to Christianity. So the angel of light was transformed into a Neolithic shaman wearing horns and carrying a hunting weapon? Maybe!
The god Hermes/Mercury carries something that echoes the twin-spiral theme of that ram-horned snake - a staff entwined by two snakes. Hermes was originally a herdsman, he was called "Master of the Animals". He eventually became a messenger and leader of souls to the underworld. Bringing messages from the Otherworld and helping the dead pass over are both traditional shamanic roles.
Shamans "travel" in trances or meditation - both Cernunnos and Pashupati are depicted in meditative positions.
Cernunnos on the Gundestrup Cauldron
Pashupati depicted on a seal
Traditional shamans wore animal skins, horns or feathers to heighten the mental/spiritual link between themselves and those animals - just as Pashupati and Cernunnos do.
Shamans believed their connection to animals allowed them to control them, a highly valuable skill to a Neolithic hunter!
Herne is the hunter,
Hermes is a herdsman and "master of the animals",
Pashupati is a shepherd and sometimes called "Lord of the Animals"
and Cernunnos, the Horned One, is both lord of the hunt and the animals.
So how does a symbolic shamanic figure depicted as a god in India end up all over Europe?
The answer may lie with the Celts. These nomadic people seem to have originated somewhere on the Indo-European Plateau. There is historical evidence that they were living around Kazakhstan, East of the Caspian sea, before 2,000 BC. They had many different tribes and clans. Each group had their own favourite gods, but one god they all had in common was Cernunnos. They were an adventurous wandering horse-loving people who roamed extensively through both Europe and Asia. Long before the Romans began conquering Europe the Celts had already expanded as far as Britain and into Asia as well.
Did the Celts take the idea of the shaman from Asia or did they have their own shamanic ancestral past, same as those ancient people who painted their shaman hunters in the caves in France? One thing is fairly certain - there are far more connections and links between cultures and continents than we often realise. Take a look at some of the Tungus people here and you'll see what I mean. They look more like the "Indians" you'd see in an old Western movie than Eurasians.. and their "shaman" is dancing wearing reindeer horns on his head.
When the first peoples made their way from Asia into the Americas did they take the idea of the "Saman" with them?
Perhaps the Indigenous peoples of the Americas practice Shamanism after all?
Monday, 4 June 2007
When I first started reading books stating they were about "shamanism" and/or "shamanic practices" I had no idea of the origins of the word at all. In the past the word "shaman" was used by a select group of people from one area of our planet, but in recent times it has been adopted to cover a vast range of similar or "almost the same" concepts that originally were never called shamanic. If you put the word "shaman" into a search engine I guarantee that at least two thirds of the websites you find will be dealing with "neo-shamanism" rather than the original thing.
Answers.com describes it as:
Shamanism is the oldest form of human healing. It is a type of religious medicine that originated over 25,000 years ago in the Paleolithic hunting cultures of Siberia and Central Asia. The English word shaman is derived from the Siberian Tungus word "saman", which is defined as a technique of ecstasy. The shaman is considered a great master of trance and ecstasy. He or she is the dominating figure in certain indigenous populations.Over time people have used the word to label various primitive cultural healers who followed "shamanic" ideas or practices. Cultures where the priests/healers connected in trance and/or meditation to both the spiritual realms and the earthly world of nature. Thus the African witchdoctor and the Native American Medicine man can be called "shamans" even though in their own world this word was never known to them.
My first contact with the word "shamanism" came through two Native American friends. The one had a brother who was a medicine man and the other was studying healing himself. Neither of them ever used the word "shaman", but the links they gave me to read did eventually lead me to that word. They had no problems with the word themselves, but I have found that some Native American people find the fact that their varied beliefs have been swept into one basket labelled "shamanism" offensive. The peoples of the Americas have as many different spiritual and religious systems as any other continent. Labelling them all with one generic heading is unfair, but generic labels do make human communication far easier. In this case it might be better to say that what you find out on the net nowadays is most likely "neo-shamanism". A modern invention of "New Age" (another dreadful label) ideology.
A shaman was/is a healer "called" or chosen by his/her ancestors or God to heal and act as a bridge between the worlds of the living and the dead. You don't decide to be a shaman - it picks you. Neo-shamanism is a lot more complicated. Neo-Shamanism is gaining popularity, I suspect, because a lot of our modern religions have been losing touch with their mystical side.
Taking Christianity as an example - more and more churches are trying to be logical, Politically Correct and scientific. Being progressive is fine, but in gaining a more "modern" attitude they have lost a lot of their original mystery. Where in this modern world is there room for the visionaries and mystics? If St Francis was to walk into the wilderness today he'd most likely be taken away to a nice little mental home. As for those who see visions.. would anyone today build a new Lourdes based on a vision? If someone today wrote inspired by God would we add his/her writings to our Holy Books as was done in the ancient past?
Modern (Neo-) shamanism has spread to cover a vast range of ideas from the very good to the rather tacky, but all have one root - people wanting to deepen their connection to the mystical spiritual side of themselves. At its best this modern "patchwork quilt" can be amazingly beautiful and inspiring. Personally I have no problems with patchwork.. when it is done with love and respect for the cultures each patch piece is taken from. Some of the world's best Art and creativity have come from the sharing and patching together of the best of different cultures. ..
Friday, 1 June 2007
In the house made of dawn,
In the house made of evening twilight,
In the house made of dark cloud,
In the house made of male rain,
In the house made of dark mist,
In the house made of female rain,
In the house made of pollen,
In the house made of grasshoppers,
Where the dark mist curtains the doorway,
The path to which is on the rainbow,
Where the zig-zag lightning stands on top,
Where the he-rain stands high on top,
Oh, male divinity!
With your moccasins of dark cloud, come to us.
With your leggings of dark cloud, come to us.
With your shirt of dark cloud, come to us.
With your headdress of dark cloud, come to us.
With your mind enveloped in dark cloud, come to us.
With the dark thunder above you,
come to us soaring.
With the shapen cloud at your feet,
come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the dark cloud
over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the male rain
over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the female rain
over your head, come to us soaring.
With the zig-zag lightning flung out on high
over your head, come to us soaring.
With the rainbow hanging high
over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the dark cloud
on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring.
With the darkness on the earth, come to us.
My feet restore for me.
My limbs restore for me.
My body restore for me.
My mind restore for me.
My voice restore for me.
Today, take out your spell for me.
Today, take away your spell for me.
Away from me you have taken it.
Far off from me it is taken.
Far off you have done it.
Happily I recover.
Happily my interior grows cool.
Happily my limbs regain their power.
Happily my head becomes cool.
Happily I hear again.
Happily I walk.
Impervious to pain, I walk.
Feeling light within, I walk.
With lively feelings, I walk....
Happily the old men will regard you.
Happily the old women will regard you.
Happily the young men will regard you.
Happily the young women will regard you.
Happily the boys will regard you.
Happily the girls will regard you.
Happily the children will regard you.
Happily the chiefs will regard you.
Happily, as they scatter in different directions,
they will regard you.
Happily, as they approach their homes,
they will regard you.
Happily may their roads home be on the trail of pollen.
Happily may they all get back.
In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
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