Cold, still morning here in the shadow of Ceanna Beinne, near Durness on the north coast of the Isles of the British. Sea is deep blue reflective, and the plashy waters of the burn fill the soundscape along with solitary robin — he is alarming from the one gorse bush who flowers golden amongst a host of green ones gathered along the banks. I washed in the brown waters just now (and squealed a little to be truthful), and this I think, is what set Robin off.
I have meandered to this place along small windy roads of Assynt Coigach, finding my way by taking the direction of the bluest sky (…and the hope of night time auroras…) Scotland always arouses a spectrum of responses in me — the wildness of mountains, rivers and sea nourish me to my bones; stills me deeply…
Yet the wreckage of the barren moors, the bare-banked lochs longing for the companionship of trees rouses a fury that has me reeling with rage when I see the sign stating ownership by such and such estate or see the tell-tale beauty of the presence of a big house — these mansions are unfailingly surrounded by ancient woods that were spared the ravages of the disease that possessed the estate owners to clear the land beyond of not only humans but pine martin, capercaillie, lynx, wolves, and all the beings that were the Caledonian forest. Us humans of the dominant culture all have this disease (some more than others) and it closes off our ability to participate in earth, as earth, for earth. When the poet Rumi says “…we must forget what we have been taught, and become instead bewildered…”. he is advising us to heal this disease by remembering our belonging to the wildness of earth, by finding the wildness of her that lives, often hidden. in each of us.
I spoke of my secret soul missions in the last blog and of how they are so secret, I don’t consciously know what they are. There’s a quirk I’ve noticed over the years of bewildering which is that, though I barely understand why I’m drawn places, they feel deeply familiar when I arrive and tend to reveal themselves the more I offer them my finest attentions of sensing, feeling and imagination… It’s a bit like when you fall in love — you have that unravelling paradox of your beloved bringing an astonishing freshness into your life and being as familiar as a soulmate at the same time; and the more you court them, the more deeply the connection reveals itself. (I genuinely hope you’ve all had the good fortune to know what I’m referring to here).
So, this journey I’m on from West Wales is, on the surface, a 50th birthday gifting to myself of the thing I have felt in deficit of for a long time — solitude. But why come here, of all places? To answer that is a long story with threads I could draw out for you that are the warp of those 50 years I’ve been earthside, adding colours to the patterned weft of the life I’ve been weaving. Those threads feel so strong that I sense they go back further still; to the time I was starside, to the beginnings of life itself perhaps?
May sound a bit grandiose and yet, I’ve heard many stories from those I’ve had the honour to walk and work alongside that also have threads that they can track back through their lives — back to forgotten childhood obsessions and passions or deepest woundings; through recurring night dreams and numinous or otherworldly experiences that they, at the time, discounted as unimportant. (This diminishing we do partly because those experiences were unsettling of our status quo eg. our intellectual knowledge of the way the world works that we are schooled to over-value. Also, we do it because there was/ is no one around to help place those sometimes troubling experiences into a context that rings true and helps us go forwards, strengthened with the soul food they offer).
These threads are also like an underground stream who’s song you can hear only when you are really quiet, really listening …and brave too. The song it sings can upturn your life and so courage is definitely needed in the mix. I’m trying to find language for something intangible here with the minimum of “woo”, so that the woo-averse can stay with the story (woo being anything that sounds too cosmic/ new age/ “ out there” ).I hope this is landing ok with you ?
( to be continued)