Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On land and it's meaning...

 A few quotes on land, it's meaning to us, and art....

Autumn scene in our backyard at our home "Flora Vale", 2010

 “Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
― Gary Snyder

Autumn leaves and a bell of entry at our Green Rose Labyrinth, in Crownsville, MD, 2006

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River

Autumn leaves along an Appalachian creek in Cumberland, MD, 2011

“Until we understand what the land is, we are at odds with everything we touch. And to come to that understanding it is necessary, even now, to leave the regions of our conquest – the cleared fields, the towns and cities, the highways – and re-enter the woods. For only there can a man encounter the silence and the darkness of his own absence. Only in this silence and darkness can he recover the sense of the world’s longevity, of its ability to thrive without him, of his inferiority to it and his dependence on it. Perhaps then, having heard that silence and seen that darkness, he will grow humble before the place and begin to take it in – to learn from it what it is. As its sounds come into his hearing, and its lights and colors come into his vision, and its odors come into his nostrils, then he may come into its presence as he never has before, and he will arrive in his place and will want to remain. His life will grow out of the ground like the other lives of the place, and take its place among them. He will be with them – neither ignorant of them, nor indifferent to them, nor against them – and so at last he will grow to be native-born. That is, he must reenter the silence and the darkness, and be born again"
~ Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Leah Odom modeling our Maple Leaf Green Man mask and necklace, against a backdrop of Autumn's glory

With our own art, land is where inspiration starts for us. Land, Place, Hearth, Home, our Nature. It breaths out of the land, like mist from the trees in the morning.

Stand in one place long enough, and you will see a valley exhale in the morning, and inhale at twilight. Our marriage and relationship, the heart of our collaboration, started in just such a place, with just such a pulse.

First with land, then literature, then music, through drawings and paintings, and ultimately our own work. Each piece of it you might hold, is connected in a thread, of gossamer spider webs and stitched leaves, back to a place in our hearts. Every Green Man guards a memory. It is a weight only we can see, yet, were it not there, the art would be less.

We call our work Fantastical Naturalism, and if we can do no other good, than to give our experience of land and nature, a voice and form, then it will be enough. 

Sunlight through a Sugar Maple Leaf, 2011

"Art for me is a form of nourishment. I need the land" ~ Andy Goldsworthy

Mythical Designs

(All photography copyright of Miscellaneous Oddiments LLC)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On Mother Crane's oral recitation of the Poem, "Goblin Market" By Christina Rossetti at NY Faerie Festival 2012

One of the more remarkable and significant events that happened at the New York Faerie Festival 2012, was the recitation of the entirety of the "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti, from memory, by the wonderful Kate "Mother Crane" Thorpe. She is the wife of William Thorpe, aka: Billy Bardo, and a poetess of her own, as well as an astounding contributor to the ancient bardic craft of oral poetry.

The Poem is one of the iconic pieces of the Victorian poetry and the early Mythic Arts/Faerie scene, if you will. It was composed in 1859 by Christina Georgina Rossetti. She is renowned for this poem, among others, including "In the Bleak Midwinter" which was later set to music as the well known Christmas Carol. Her family became deeply influential in the creative arts of the time, and most importantly, her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This gave direct rise to the Aesthetic Movement, later influenced Art Nouveau and I would argue, a direct connection to the illustrative arts of our time, as well as the movement I, and others, have dubbed, The Mythic Arts.

Goblin Market by Arthur Rackham
Indeed, I often explain The Mythic Arts movement as being the direct inheritors of Art Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelite movements, and that our influence is in Pop Culture, (with movies, books, etc) more than the architectural and material culture influences of the former. So the poem stands out as a deeply important and early bit of Mythic Story. It was first illustrated by the writer's brother, for it's initial publication, and later, by the great Arthur Rackham. Since then, numerous illustrators and writers have been inspired by it, both directly, and in their own original works. Kinuko Craft, John Bolton, Michael Hague, and many other contemporaries of the fantastical illustrative community have bent their pens and brushes to the task. It was considered a controversial in it's time, and even today. Often published for children, there are still many erotic and seductive metaphors, but...such is the case in all of Faerie.

That evening at NY Faerie Fest was sublime. The Fire was crackling, and the great circle of Friends had drawn around it, in the late hours. It was Sunday, and we were all aglow in the post festival love. It had been a wonderful weekend and all felt a creative and communal success. We knew we had been part of something special, so how could it get any better...ah. A rousing drum and music session had reached a crescendo and come down, and words of gratitude and love were drifting up from the group. Our maestro and master of ceremonies, Billy Bardo, stepped into the fire circle, drawing our attention, giving us a brief lilting rap. He shared, in his own poetic way, how all who think they understand why he gives and crafts so much magic for the Faerie Festival, may not understand, that of vast importance, was how it gives his wife joy and glowing love. We all receive a gift of the festival, co-creating it, but it was also for her. A lovely idea. Then he asked if we would like to hear a poem. It wasn't to be a short one, and we would need patience, but should we find it, we would be treated to something very special indeed. How could we refuse, an antler tined wizard, asking us this boon.

Up steps Kate. Mother Crane. Our goddess for the evening. Earlier that day, as my daughter, Ellawyn and I had done our own entertaining, offering the "Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood" to the visitors, she had offered us a lovely poem on "Juicy sweet" little girls in red hoods. The sleepy eight year old in her mother's lap, lifted up and took notice. She likes poetry, and remembered well the lovely lady who gave us a gift of words. Kat's eyes were all a twinkle, and a glow, for she knew what she was about. As she spoke, offering some background to the poem and introducing it, you could feel a secret stirring among the crowd. Amongst and between those who knew the poem, it's influence, and significance and length. I literally felt a shiver. Could she really be about to recite this? And so she did......

 (I have included the poem, in it's entirety here, copyright long expired. Read all of it if you will, some at least. Whatever you choose, read some aloud. It is famous among fans of poetry for it's "mouth feel". Rolling, lyrical sounds that would want to pense you nose and assume goblin poses to. Read through it, and at the end, I have offered some closing thoughts.)

The Goblin Market

Christina Rossetti, 1859

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck’d cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;—
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”

               Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bow’d her head to hear,
Lizzie veil’d her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.”
Lizzie cover’d up her eyes,
Cover’d close lest they should look;
Laura rear’d her glossy head,
And whisper’d like the restless brook:
“Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes.”
“No,” said Lizzie, “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.”
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat’s face,
One whisk’d a tail,
One tramp’d at a rat’s pace,
One crawl’d like a snail,
One like a wombat prowl’d obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

               Laura stretch’d her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

               Backwards up the mossy glen
Turn’d and troop’d the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
“Come buy, come buy.”
When they reach’d where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One rear’d his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heav’d the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
“Come buy, come buy,” was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Long’d but had no money:
The whisk-tail’d merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr’d,
The rat-faced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried “Pretty Goblin” still for “Pretty Polly;”—
One whistled like a bird.

               But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
“Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.”
“You have much gold upon your head,”
They answer’d all together:
“Buy from us with a golden curl.”
She clipp’d a precious golden lock,
She dropp’d a tear more rare than pearl,
Then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flow’d that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck’d until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gather’d up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turn’d home alone.

               Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
“Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Pluck’d from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the noonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so.”
“Nay, hush,” said Laura:
“Nay, hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
To-morrow night I will
Buy more;” and kiss’d her:
“Have done with sorrow;
I’ll bring you plums to-morrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap.”

               Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other’s wings,
They lay down in their curtain’d bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipp’d with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars gaz’d in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapp’d to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Lock’d together in one nest.

               Early in the morning
When the first cock crow’d his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetch’d in honey, milk’d the cows,
Air’d and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churn’d butter, whipp’d up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sew’d;
Talk’d as modest maidens should:
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day’s delight,
One longing for the night.

               At length slow evening came:
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep;
Lizzie pluck’d purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homeward said: “The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags.
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep.”
But Laura loiter’d still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep.

               And said the hour was early still
The dew not fall’n, the wind not chill;
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
“Come buy, come buy,”
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.

               Till Lizzie urged, “O Laura, come;
I hear the fruit-call but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glowworm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark:
For clouds may gather
Though this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us through;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?”

               Laura turn’d cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
“Come buy our fruits, come buy.”
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life droop’d from the root:
She said not one word in her heart’s sore ache;
But peering thro’ the dimness, nought discerning,
Trudg’d home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent till Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnash’d her teeth for baulk’d desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.

               Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
“Come buy, come buy;”—
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon wax’d bright
Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay and burn
Her fire away.

               One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dew’d it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watch’d for a waxing shoot,
But there came none;
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dream’d of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crown’d trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.

               She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetch’d honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.

               Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister’s cankerous care
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins’ cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy;”—
Beside the brook, along the glen,
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The yoke and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Long’d to buy fruit to comfort her,
But fear’d to pay too dear.
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter time
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter time.

               Till Laura dwindling
Seem’d knocking at Death’s door:
Then Lizzie weigh’d no more
Better and worse;
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kiss’d Laura, cross’d the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.

               Laugh’d every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes,—
Hugg’d her and kiss’d her:
Squeez’d and caress’d her:
Stretch’d up their dishes,
Panniers, and plates:
“Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs.”—

               “Good folk,” said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
“Give me much and many: —
Held out her apron,
Toss’d them her penny.
“Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,”
They answer’d grinning:
“Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry:
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavour would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us.”—
“Thank you,” said Lizzie: “But one waits
At home alone for me:
So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I toss’d you for a fee.”—
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One call’d her proud,
Cross-grain’d, uncivil;
Their tones wax’d loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her,
Claw’d with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.

               White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,—
Like a rock of blue-vein’d stone
Lash’d by tides obstreperously,—
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire,—
Like a fruit-crown’d orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee,—
Like a royal virgin town
Topp’d with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguer’d by a fleet
Mad to tug her standard down.

               One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuff’d and caught her,
Coax’d and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratch’d her, pinch’d her black as ink,
Kick’d and knock’d her,
Maul’d and mock’d her,
Lizzie utter’d not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laugh’d in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syrupp’d all her face,
And lodg’d in dimples of her chin,
And streak’d her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kick’d their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot;
Some writh’d into the ground,
Some div’d into the brook
With ring and ripple,
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanish’d in the distance.

               In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore thro’ the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse,—
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she fear’d some goblin man
Dogg’d her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin scurried after,
Nor was she prick’d by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with haste
And inward laughter.

               She cried, “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”

               Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutch’d her hair:
“Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing,
And ruin’d in my ruin,
Thirsty, canker’d, goblin-ridden?”—
She clung about her sister,
Kiss’d and kiss’d and kiss’d her:
Tears once again
Refresh’d her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kiss’d and kiss’d her with a hungry mouth.

               Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loath’d the feast:
Writhing as one possess’d she leap’d and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks stream’d like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.

               Swift fire spread through her veins, knock’d at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame;
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense fail’d in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topp’d waterspout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life?

               Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watch’d by her,
Counted her pulse’s flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cool’d her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirp’d about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bow’d in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Open’d of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laugh’d in the innocent old way,
Hugg’d Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks show’d not one thread of grey,
Her breath was sweet as May
And light danced in her eyes.

               Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town):
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”

And so it was done. Forty minutes, from memory. Firelight flickering on her cheeks, and goblins in her voice. The poetic imagery is one of thirst and fruit, and, as magic would have it, I had no water bottle with me, and throughout it, I was thirsting desperately, magnifying the experience. Even knowing the poem, I had no idea how long it would be, although, once, in my youth, I had read it all aloud for myself. Certainly, there were stirrings and grumbles from some in the crowd. Long bardic poetry is not the cup for all, yet, all should drink from it sometime. It is part of our ancestral tradition. Humans have been standing over fires and reciting poems of this, and much greater length indeed, for as long as language has graced our lips. Perhaps only a few really knew what had just occurred. How, in the 160 years or so since the poems inception such a thing has perhaps only happened a handful of times. How the moment was, for those of watching this Mythic Arts movement unfold around us, one we would remember many years hence. One of those, "were you there when..." times.

It is, in a way, historical to our community and the arts and I felt it needed to be noted and remembered by more than those that were there. I was grateful for it. Writing this, I wish I had captured a image of Kate by the fire, words dripping from her lips, or perhaps some had recorded it, for all to hear. Perhaps someone did. But, such is the fleeting way of Faerie. Passing beauty, leaving you unsure of experience. It may be best that it lives most in our memories.

Sometime afterwards, as magic would have it, a great basin of fruit came round. Succulent apples, peaches, oranges and more, being carried from cluttered groups about the fire circle. Offering of repast from the communal kitchen, brought to the fire for us to suck upon. Surely it was as simple as that. Perhaps I should not have tasted them, those Faerie fruits, but my thirst was great, and I knew it long to late for me. I tasted of this essence long ago, and found it full of wonder.

As Billy Bardo says, "It's not what we believe, it's what we make believe...''

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beginings and endings... they are often the same.

Well, here we are again, a new blog and a new beginning.

We are hoping to continue the blogger tradition that we started on our LiveJournal so long ago. We will offer musings on art and culture. Explorations on the Mythic Arts movement we are so delighted to be part of. Festival and event reports from the decorative fringes of society, and perhaps just some inspiration and enthusiasm, two of our favorite words.

Our lives are cyclical and seasonal. Ruled by weather and storms due to the nature of our work, selling our art at outdoor entertainment events, as well as the cycle of the events themselves. We are often caught up in the business of the festival seasons, much the way farmers are in the harvest. Such is the state of our Autumnal lives. A favorite season of many artist, filled with lovely colors, and quiet afternoons, but overflowed by our participation in the Maryland Renaissance Festival. A nine weekend event, located in lovely woodlands along the Chesapeake Bay, near Annapolis, MD.

So, we thought to offer some of the old, here on the new. We were drawn away from writing on LiveJournal by the cultural transition to Facebook. Yet, still the urge to write and muse extensively was with us. Coming here to Blogger, we will post some of our favorites from the older journal.

So here is a an entry from our Journal in the Autumn of 2006. At the time, we were living in Crownsville, MD, very near the Renfest. There, we lived in a somewhat idyllic setting for a pair of young artists founding their business and family. A studio apartment located above a quirky florist business, and remarkable little cafe, owned by friends. However, the best of that, was our gardens. The Green Rose Labyrinth Gardens were located in the back of the building. Two meditation Labyrinths were our delight there. One a "brick in ditch" variation on the Baltic Wheel Pattern.

Baltic Wheel Labyrinth in Brick in Ditch style.
The other, The Green Rose itself. A 900 foot nature trail labyrinth, cut into a wooded lot. Based on a variation of the inner pattern of the Chartres. Winding trails to the center, and there, a fire pit, surrounded by benches, and wrapped in memories of community and joy.

The entrance to the Green Rose Nature Trail Labyrinth.

I shall write more about our time there later and my exploration into the winding paths of the labyrinths, but for now, I have set the scene and then, paint the picture. Finding this entry, was like a lost friend's soul, and still I am enraptured by Autumn....

Originally posted November 6, 2006:

Glorious autumns reaps her tithe in reverence. An exchange for her golden display in which we, dear friends are far the better for it.

I am enthralled by Autumn. I find myself frozen, unable to think. A particular maple drowns me. There is this small one in my labyrinth which over hangs the pathway, that moves me to tears. In the afternoon sun it fairly caresses the light. I must spend time in care of my golden chapel. To give her what is due, taken out in the joyful labor of raking. A massive chore of moving and shifting this epic carbon mass. The stored minerals and riches of a season, drawn upwards throughout the tree. Every molecule pulled through the rings and flesh and laid in courses, and in turn laying courses of humus black upon the forest floor.

The Hugging Tree. A large Tulip Poplar that split the trail.
Piled too thick, the rich burden smothers that beneath it. Laid up in drifts and you watch in become once again. I remember the feeling of rich loam in my hands, that gives me a tangible feeling for, a smell, for my utter unimportance to the teeming cycle. And the thought of this knowledge, so utterly bound up in my own mortality, offers me comfort. An understanding that I matter only up to the point of my carbon load, my nitrogen input.

"Such a long long time to be gone, and a short time to be there."
-Box of Rain, The Grateful Dead

The Skull of Memory. A concrete skull, placed to remind us of our fragility. The sign reads, "All Things Must Pass"
And yet again the minerals that make us up have already passed this way.
Iron taken up, each molecule in it's place, and laid upon fields, a thousand times, richness passed through, by food, and water, each bit of us has once been ...a leaf... whose yearning was ever for the light.

Born of distant suns, cracking down building blocks to create more. The light of one nitrogen molecule's being brought into existence shines forth to nurture the incarnation of another. If that other's brief existence lies in a human or tree matters not to the light. They are each giving up its energy in a like fashion.

I take a piece of tree limb from my grove, place it in the central labyrinth hearth, and release the minerals. The heat there is really of no greater importance than that I nurture deep in a compost pile.
Or that of a far star. Each are composting, converting, energy, into heat, me, the star, the pile.

"We are stardust, we are golden, We are billion year old carbon,"
-Stardust, Joni Mitchell
She also said that there is "a comfort in melancholy"

The Tea Fire on the morning afterwards.
So tomorrow I will spend some time in my woodland path. I will try to caress the sunbeams like the leaves. I'll use my camera to catch mere memories of the color.

I wish to do honor to what the stars have sown. I hope to preserve my own memory and the memory of me! To touch these moments and try in useless futility, to share the reverence with others, through a talent for art. Futile in that only with the breath of the moment within your nostrils, that fleeting moment, can you find light that makes you small. I transpose only what I see. Craft is so easy when nature provides such desperate challenge.

My winding path, The Green Rose Labyrinth, is a brief moment, a long walk in a short space. My attempt to share how I experience wilderness. The largest expression of what I wish to convey as an artist. To touch people and live through their memories of the emotions I provoked. Life is short, art is long.

Even the simplest patch of trees is a lonely scrap in the midst of a galactic forest. I will bow my head in raking contemplation, chanting the Heart Sutra towards the earth.

"Om, gone, gone, All Gone Beyound, Enlightenment, Svha!"

Remembering that only each is gone, and each can only hope to last as long as ...a leaf...

See ya in the labyrinth...

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