We’d been to see our friends Tipi Jean, Yazz, John and Tanya up in the hills near a place called Rhydspence just over the Welsh Border. On the way home back to Montgomery we’d been listening to Radio 4 a program on “forgiveness” Marian Partington who had written the book “if you sit very still” about the impact of the abduction and murder of her sister Lucy Partington by the wests sometime around Jan 2nd 1973 and how she had over twenty years or so come to find compassion for rose west and had actually written to her. I remember reading an article by Marian years ago, before I’d set sail to the US the first time.
What she’d written had touched me, I’d written a song, I’d thought I’d understood, what she had achieved, she was a beautiful being with qualities and strengths way beyond mine that was for sure, but I realize now that I didn’t quite get it.
I had done a Hypnotherapy/Healing session the day before; it was fresh in my mind. It is still remarkable to me how much something or somebody else can impact on us. How much hate, resentment, anger and fear we can harbour without being aware of it, behind what we have rebuilt on our road to recovery, on our road to remake and remodel ourselves, because of course we must, because we live and breathe and have to take a step forward and when we do other experiences come to meet us and we will have to make sense of them too, as we are, moving away from the thing that hurt or marked us, at least on the surface of things.
It has occurred to me many times over this last few years with the different things people have brought into the dome and to the Centre in Bermondsey that most of us have not escaped at all, we have not escaped because we have not been able forgive or at least not found any meaning or understanding. No resolution and so no release
The chap I had seen had had a heart attack. He had been working at the time digging, trying to dig through concrete. He’d been digging in a field and he hadn’t realized there was concrete underneath, and had just kept banging away, a powerful metaphor in itself.
The thing that occurred to me during the session was that he hadn’t been present whilst he’d been digging. He’d been somewhere else; he’d been back in time somewhere in his imagination, banging away at the person who had hurt him. It was those feelings that had caused the heart attack, not the physical action of digging. So although he had created a life for himself, moved on, was loved and liked by those around him, a kind gentle man, but he was still not free of the influence, the pain fear and anger created when he was a little boy. He had not forgotten and that was the real force behind his digging
I have wondered many times if the injuries we sustain are what we come into this life for, is it this we come to experience, to struggle with the accumulation of experiences of the generations before us? The family or cultural inheritance passed on by or through the confusion and pain of our elders neighbours and peers, is for us to understand and put an end too?
I had thought compassion meant we try to understand the perpetrator, release them get a few brownie points at the pearly gates of heaven or something. But the more work we’ve done, the more I am coming to realize that compassion is a mechanism to release the self. The memory is of course indelible but hate and anger, fear loathing and regret are not necessarily so and will most certainly chain us to a person or a time and place and we will never be free of it or them. It does seem that many of us are living in the pain of the past
I don’t think by any stretch that this is an easy thing but there is as I have seen something cathartic and deeply healing about it and I am not writing this with any moral or religious tones, more just a mechanical human process.
Religion has tended to colour individuals who have been able to achieve these things as saints, carve them in stone and they have become things to worship as examples of something somehow just out of reach of the rest of us mortals, I understand the reasons for this too, they are qualities to aspire to, metaphors, standing stones in the wilderness to guide.
I have not experienced a trauma like the Partingtons loss, god forbid that I ever have too come to terms with something like that. But I have many times felt anger fury and frustration, I have looked back at times with disbelief that I acted as I did and wonder where the fuel for the volcano’s came from. It seems I do have my glowing embers deep down in the sub-conscious that trigger compulsions that in turn heap their shames up in my conscious that then trickle back down into my underground as confirmations, I have to find compassion for me also.
It will not make me a saint of course, I am not that well connected and besides being a saint will do me no good in this life as saints are usually dead, they are ideals of suffering borne and it seems illumination in hindsight, but I would like some wings to fly with in this life, it is what was intended and there is no way I can fly nor any of you who may be reading this if you are consumed consciously or unconsciously with anger hate and or fear.
It is these things that fill me with wonder, the glimpses of freedom, not seen but felt, brief but ever remembered moments of exhilaration at just being, filled with amazement at times that I have found myself where I have and where I am, all that good stuff, so near by.
I was born into a cobbled street in the Mill town of Blacknburn Lancashire. At the time of my birth the machinery of the great industrial age was just coming to a grinding halt, it was grim up north. Not that I knew that at the time I was just a kid and it was my world, all that old was brand new to me.
My parents knew somehow and so the family moved to Blackpool and I was raised up near the seaside in the fresh air with my two brothers my sister arrived son after too. I had ingested the belief that I was quite unremarkable, I knew I was somebody simply because I was here. But when I look back or try to feel back most of what I think I remember went on inside myself. It seems perhaps I had various reasons for this and various reasons why I felt as I did. “Shut up and eat your dinner” and “Stop showing off” type of things. Mild in comparison to some of the things I have heard since, but everything is relative isn’t it
Later on I heard the Sex Pistols, it felt it like I imagine a religious revelation is experienced and I was born anew. I was invented again. Those old beliefs were hushed quietened or perhaps overwhelmed by that tide; they went to stand in the wings, worked the lights and the trap doors and drew the curtains
Later I met the loves of my life, made friendships and shot through that period with the stage lights on full and dazzling. I didn’t stop to think. I wasn’t thinking at all, but I was feeling, I didn’t stop to think what I was feeling, but I was alive, yes sir and of course that is the way it should have been, perhaps a little more thought might have done wonders at times, but that was to come.
Later when things had run their course and the oil lamps of that particular stage and period had all run low, I followed a pull from the US mostly because the self at the side of the stage began to whisper then and reminded me in the quiet times, in between the noise, of things that had impacted on me as a little boy, the wilderness and the West.
So off I went, with a sense of wonder and openness, I couldn’t believe that it was really me that was there, that I’d made it, that I was somebody else, that I was something more than before, that there was more to me. I spent a great deal of time on my own out there, my inner world was allowed to step out from the wings and it couldn’t quite believe it, after I passed my driving test there, my thoughts became clearer and I was off.
It seemed to be about a clear thought, that thoughts have feelings, thoughts carry feeling and that the combination creates, for good or bad, for up or down, for Ying or Yang
Later I returned to London with this idea trickling down and also with the discovery that energy was a real and physical thing. It feels strange to even write that now, the naiveté of it, that energy flows and can be transmitted from a person to others and too things. I enrolled at the Spiritualist Association in an attempt to make some sense of it and my experiences out there and so another chapter began and again I assimilated the reality of what I learnt there with that sense of wonder; a boy from Blackburn Lancashire, I could not have dreamed such things, but perhaps I did and so there it was in front of me, all things are possible.
Later as the committed hard working stressed Head of Field Operations for a possibly the biggest free distribution of newspapers and magazines in the UK and maybe Europe; I’d many times half jokingly thought as I blazed through that time
“They’ll find out who I am soon”
A little boy, a punk rocker, a day dreamer, I see things.
So I had something to prove, but still I was looking on from the side of that stage. I was quite proud of that me there at times, my focus my commitment my hard work, but there was always that wrestles feeling.
I was often reminded of it on my way home or when I was out of mobile range, when things were quiet, which wasn’t that often. Always I questioned myself and my motives also by then I watched in many a client or Team Leader meeting energies moving through and around the people and the rooms, it was quite a distraction at times, I wasn’t imagining it, it was just a matter of fact.
The Healing and later the Hypnotherapy brought me right up close to what I have stored under the stage and what is waiting to be acknowledged in the wings.
For some reason I have still not been able to fathom I have always pulled the rug out from under myself, or the handle of the trap door, I would drop away, leave or vanish just before the nod of achievement, the summit, the contract or the reward. Why? I sense there is some peace to be made, somebody to be embraced.
Between each of the festival we have worked this last summer there have been long drives, there have been talks and discussions about patterns emerging. The revelation and wonder through the experiences that others have shared. Had they been shared earlier in my life they would not have been understood I was not equipped and the fact that I am beginning to feel that I am perhaps more equipped now feels better.
Was it all a series of accidents, was it meant to happen, was it my own courage, was it my own foolishness, as I am writing this there is a sense, even now when I am trying to find words for a mystery, that there is a sense of joy and curiosity, and that is maybe what I came in with, if so, I am grateful for it, for it is the wind in my sails.
And it is this fresh air when the past is released that brings new seeds, that there is room for fresh growth, new shoots and new opportunities. We never forget but we can move on.
Healers On Wheels:
I am sat here in the snug warmth of an old farm cottage on a Welsh hillside on the outskirts of a tiny village called Llandyssil. old low beamed ceilings and creaky floorboards overhead, cold stone slab floors under my feet. Outside a heavy mist, the dragons breath laid like a quilt across the land, the day is about to break, black has become silver. Song birds have begun to twitter and tweet sweetly. All around us here is iridescent green, the high banks of a narrow lane outside leading down to the village a mile and a half away, a mile of it is virtually a tree tunnel of Hawthorn Blackberry Willow Ash Hazel and mighty and majestic Oaks. The lane has a central carpet of spongy green moss, there is space and time here for such things to be left to grow. I could not have wished for more, it is magical. We had come here for two weeks then back to Whitby to work and have just returned here a day or so ago with what we though was good news.
But the news didn’t land well and we have been asked to leave early by the Eco friendly neighbours and owners of the cottage, we had said we could stay till the end of November, but Whitby called to us and we’d had to change our course, that was all. The night we got back I had been burning up with a high fever and hoped to be able to stay and take some badly needed rest and recuperation. Three weeks notice seemed to us to be quite a reasonable. But the update had created quite a storm that we watched projected upon us from the doorway of the kitchen yesterday. I stood our ground which in retrospect I feel good about, but we were told one more night and that was that, out !!.
We are I have supposed a couple of lightning bolts and with hindsight we realized that our job there was done, their isolation had been broken and their boat was afloat, its what we’d been invited there for in fact. As we’d driven back towards Wales I’d had premonitions that grew stronger all the way back. It had come as a song repeated over and over and over again, I had not quite understood but “It’s alright don’t think twice” when you reframe the song without the element of lovers made perfect sense now in the cold bright light of that day. My premonition gave me great comfort and us confidence that it was the right thing to do.
That evening we’d gone down to the village pub to see if there were any places for rent locally, we loved the area and would not be driven away. We were greeted as old and cherished friends by the locals there. Chistine the landlady came out from behind the bar and hugged us both
“Hello my Lovies, oh darling, sweetie, my loves how are you? How was whitby/ Mwah x Mwah mwah mwah xx… x”
It was well needed and it touched us very deeply.
When we finished the festivals earlier this year, we were quite pleased with ourselves, though we have lost or shall we say invested quite a lot of money, and we have given away much for free. The bank account had given me a bit of a jolt and Orsi’s card was spat her card back out of a wall with a contemptuous ‘insufficient funds’ Our learning has been at a cost but I believe we are better equipped now for what is to come, though Orsi has a real sense of anxiety not just about finance but also at times about what we are doing
We’d first arrived in Wales on September 5th full of optimism and spent the first few days running from town to town, Montgomery to Welshpool to Newtown and back trying to get the lay of the land, trying to find the way in. We had planned to practice up there at the Eco retreat and needed to advertise but finding a printer for flyers turned out to be quite a task on Wednesday afternoon or a Tuesdays or Thursdays come to that, midweek in Wales is a slow moving planet.
We paced the high streets knocked at many café, local businesses, museums and library doors. Orsi is a combination of Aries and Hungarian pioneer training an unstoppable force. You have to give it to her at times, she is not for saying no, unless it is me of course sitting up late tapping in the front seat of Pearl
As she offered the locals Tarot and Tea afternoons I could feel their doors shutting and though polite and though we were liking the curious, bright, courteous and surprisingly very funny Welsh very much, we found when ever Hypnotherapy Healing not to mention Tarot cards were mentioned there was a skip in the beat for a split second as the words impacted with all they implied, the person in front of us changed direction mid air, then simply carry on talking about what ever it was that came to mind next.
We’d also gone to meet a couple of healing centers in the area, the Natural Harmony Centre at Llanerfyl and the wonderful Marion at the Peace Haven Spiritual Healing Center just outside Berriew. We realized Healing retreats and practices in and around the Vale of Montgomery were going to take time to take root
Down in the valleys the towns hummed slowly with a deep ordinariness that was remarkable to us but that said it left time for manners and what seemed genuine warmth. We gravitated across to Newtown and repeated the same failing introduction technique and they in turn repeated the same reaction when we mentioned the H H & T words
Newtown we discovered was the hometown and grave site of the remarkable visionary and reformer the Great Robert Owen, father of philanthropy, the founder of socialism and the cooperative movement. We visited the almost accidental Museum dedicated to him and were astonished at the level of misery that was common during his lifetime in the late 1700’s; children from the ages of 5 working in the mills for up to 16 hours a day. Owen had proposed reducing these to 10 hour days, parliament amazingly fought this tooth and nail and in the end compromised to 12 hours a day but this was later ignored. Owen continued lobbying for an 8 hour day for all workers. He championed many other at the time revolutionary ideas and was considered at the time to be one. He had in earlier life understandably expressed hostility towards established religion because of their lack of action, but in later in life converted to Spiritualism after a series of sittings with the medium Maria B Hayden and claimed to have had communication with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. A great man and example of a life well lived.
We also found one of the best chip shops ever on the high street there called the “Silver Fish” £1 for a great big portion of crispy soft centered chips, though a shop in Welshpool claimed to have been voted the best in the whole of Wales, but we couldn’t be sure of that.
On the day we arrived in the area we’d stumbled into an impromptu village meeting down in Llandyssil on the high street that seemed to be held by a chap called Tim and his partner Lee a very interesting vibrant and likeable pair who had breathed new life into the village on their arrival 12 years earlier. The two men had been pivotal in saving the church hall from being sold off and the re introduction of a yearly event called the Dragon Festival which is what they were organizing when we met them and we were invited to join them.
So next day 9am there we were putting up the banners and gazebos for the tombola, cakes and beer tents around the village playing field. Laying the tracks for the miniature steam train and afterwards packing it all away virtually on our own, though under strict supervision of course
The wild Celtic Dragon dances I was hoping for never really happened. Instead a half hearted procession with three limp dragon costumes that seemed to be a little more Chinese than Welsh, though there were Red Dragons and flags draped from every house and fence in the little village. The procession meandered down the village street overwhelmed by the prams of anxious mothers sticking a little to close to their kids. Wild and dramatic it wasn’t but charming it certainly was
There were running and wheelbarrow races, a Wales v England football match, Englands goalie obviously a Welsh plant who dived the wrong way every time, England were hammered about 5-0. There was also the “O Lamb pics” four well manicured sheep chasing a young lad with a bucket full of feed over a series of 4 barred styles. Our good natures were seen and noted and we were invited to “the Upper House pub” later for drinks where everything on the menu was famously £2.50 and served with chips. Sat in snug and comfortable amongst the locals, we loved it.
The Llandyssil brook rises from a rock cut spring to the south in the Cwm valley just above a nearby place called Cwm Badarn farm. It is said to be a Holy Well and is dedicated to an early Welsh and Breton saint, St Padarn the whole area certainly has some sort of magic,
As we walked over the hills during our time there we became pretty good foragers picking huge field Mushrooms, red rosy apples, damsons and in the old graveyard of St Tysul’s church at the bottom of the lane, overlooking the village and we found the most abundant blackberry bushes we’d have ever seen.
We thanked him many times as we climbed back over the gate loaded up with big luscious blackberries, it beats the queue at Tesco’s any day. We ate well there and it just felt good.
We had gone for a run early one evening along the lanes of trimmed hedgerows bursting with fat red berries, a moment so peaceful we’d stopped to note it as we come up over a rise and were we were able to see over the high hedgerow across the valley. It was the most exquisite site, a dazzling carpet of brilliant green.
Fingers of light crept across the patchwork of undulating fields sewn together with ribbons of darker green hedgerow. Solitary splendid oak tree canopies were explosions of heavier green that had been left undisturbed in the fields by who ever the knowing farmer was, supporting all the life they did. The fields dotted with fluffy puffs of white woolen black eyed sheep and muscular territorial brown cows all heads bowed.
Below in front of us the rooftops of the ancient town of Montgomery just visible above the treetops, a serpentine trail of smoke rose undisturbed up into the heavens like an umbilical chord. Patches of golden and splashes of silver light shone from behind hills in the valleys beyond. All around us in all directions and as far as you could see, smooth rounded hills and folds, it was as if the glow itself emanated from some grail like bowl held there by the ancient inhabitants. A church bell rang its evening request as the crows returned back to roost in the woods above the old Montgomery castle, chattering about the days find, swapping intelligence and plotting tomorrow direction. The place just felt ancient and you just knew that it was loved and we were most certainly in love with it.
But Whitby had called us, the parting had saddened us, they way it had been done. We’d thought we had to make a choice, we were going to miss this place, Wales and the Welsh,
I could have written so much more but it has been some time since I have been able to sit and catch up and post.
I’d said reassuringly trying to lift Oris’s sadness “Orsi we’ll come back here for sure, we’ll come back”
And so we set off back across to Whitby hearts a little heavy but open expectant, and ready to work.