From Whinge to Wings

There was once a woman who found herself at 16,000 feet in a fabled mountain range, hiking a rocky track that barely clung to a steep slope, and failing badly with the altitude. Her companions, two men, were hale and happy and stepping out, but the woman felt herself to be ninety-six years old, with rubber bands for knees and elbows, and gasping lungs and a stagger in her slow, slow gait. She felt that she would soon be defeated; that she would be unable to go on. She sat down on a stone in a wide place on the path, a little sort of circle flatter than the rest, and hung her head and breathed great sobbing breaths, and mourned, and explained aloud that she was tired, tired!

In fact, if truth were known, four months before that day a fine polished surgeon had operated on her right knee, and pronounced the effort a failure, and said that she would never walk in the mountains again, nor even be able to squat down nicely upon a floor, come to that. But here she was – her walking stick beside her, her shoulders slumped in her thin jacket; at the end of her strength.

Her lover, for he was one of the men, and a tall, strapping fellow he was too, with the blond gleam of the best sort of ski instructor, strode about the little area waving his long arms and snarling in rage and frustration, for he did not like to be slowed: “You don’t take responsibility! You don’t take responsibility!” For when he had shown her a map before the trek began, she had not really looked at it, and so had underestimated the difficulties that she would face. (Her lover’s intention, you see, had been to descend to a lake that had called to him from the map – an uneven, inviting puddle of blue – but the slow pace of his partner had made that plan impossible if they were to be out of the valley by dark. For this was a day-trip only. And so bitter was the disappointment of the adventurer at having to forgo his dream. Too, he did not like seeing weakness.)

But they went on; away from the distant lake and in the direction instead of a planned meeting at dusk with a driver they had employed. The distance to travel was still ambitiously great. And so the leader took big strides forward on his long legs, his merry friend and colleague coming after; while she, a woman of only thirty-nine summers, came gasping and staggering behind, and stopped often to sit and open her mouth and try to take in enough of the thin air to sustain her.

They proceeded along that vertiginous path, with its view of colossal peaks and looming cliffsides, steep drops and further, random enormous hulks of rock – for a considerable time, until they descended a field of scree and came thence to a series of meadows, like broad stairs between two peaks, and connected by small waterfalls; and trampled upon by sheep.

Finally they sat beside a clear stream wherein stones glowed in lucent, subtle colours like agates – carnelian and cream, sage and gold and lilac; seeming to breathe in magical collusion with the high, clear and radiant blue of the sky. Here the trekkers ate a modest and delicious lunch of oiled paranthas and imported remoulade from a tube; and drank water from their flasks. And then they made their way across the stream with difficulty, removing their boots first and then balancing upon the rocks, and, after putting on their socks and boots again, climbed a steep grassy bank to another portion of the trail.

The woman was dejected, frightened; she felt she was in a half-living state, a frantic and yet somehow banal effort to keep walking, keep breathing; using her stick as another leg and putting much of her slight weight upon it. As she set out upon this new trail along another steep slope in these mountains the scale of which awed and terrified her, the unthinkable volume of them turning all she had ever known to beetle-size; something peculiar occurred.

As she stood up straighter for a moment, leaning though on her stick – she felt a great in-rush of something through her back. It was as if some deity of the place, seeing her distress, and not wanting her to capsize here, just now; had invaded her body with a great soundless whoooosh, and then brought in after it some great power of the mountains – a female power it was, a wild, tameless dark and yet brilliant and fearless capability. The woman stood up straighter still, and lifted her stick from the ground and strode out again…supported now by this unknown force. A smile stretched her face, her head went back to take in the awesome scene…and she began, as it were, to fly.

For hours still they three walked on and the woman did not need her stick, and her knee was healed and painless, and the moon showed itself as afternoon fell towards evening; and she felt that she could hike to that moon and back and never tire.

While the men flagged now, and walked more slowly, and pushed themselves; and while the third man stayed cheerful – for it was his first trek in the mountains that lay in the north of his own homeland, and he was claiming his birthright as he strode – the blond lover himself grew more and more doleful, and angry and unable to keep up…as they hiked along that narrow rabbit-trail through those vast edifices, massifs, cliffs and valleys – towards the rendezvous at a pass. And dark came falling, they had to hurry; and the woman glided beaming, her stick poised horizontal for balance like a tap-dancer’s, her teeth shining in the blue dusk.

And they made that rendezvous, and clambered into the jeep with much huffing; and all the time that woman knew, as she had known from the moment of the invasion of Help from somewhere: that she could receive that help, could wholly allow and embody and make use of it, because she had complained so much and been so whiny and sad and forlorn and exhausted and unashamed to gasp and groan and be miserable...that was what had cleared the space in her body for the dark Goddess to come in and lift her up and take her away along the mountain…flying, flying with joy.

Her lover never forgave her, and they separated during the next year; and the lady was much bereft – for what had she done wrong?

Dino Story

People had been shrinking – becoming smaller and smaller – for a few thousand years; while other creatures slowly increased in size and overtook them. Mosquitoes were as big as VW Beetles used to be, and were such a menace that people carried special weapons just to protect against these terrifying uber-insects: a sort of plastic coating, launched on an automatic spear, that then spread out in a trice and surrounded the giant beast, thus preventing gruesome bites, and the subsequent transmission of bacteria and viruses. The mosquito then suffocated. Cockroaches had been harnessed (it had been discovered that every cockroach born loved a certain obscure Finnish composer, and would eagerly offer to carry one’s burdens or fly one off to wherever one wished to go, if one was armed with a music-playing device the size of a greengage plum.) Lizards grew and grew; became as big as Magic Johnson of historical fame; then outstripped him, and ultimately, feeding on the huge mosquitoes (though avoiding the cockroaches – nobody liked cockroaches) took on their former aspect – that of Dinosaurs.

And, as the last feeble senior citizen tottered in his steps and fell, and the race of man came at long last to its inevitable end – a dino, big as a train car but with extra-meaty drumsticks and bouncing, kangaroo legs…sniffed him over with its sensitive snout, and chose what about him it wished to consume…for no beasts really liked to eat humans either; they tasted of many spurious things. Dinosaurs, though, had by now evolved a different diet: they relished anything made of petrochemical derivatives. So the Cinqueterratops who ate DeWayne Grinch snaffled up his white trainers, the plastic tab on the back of his baseball hat, his inner knee where the old one had been replaced; and his communications device, a slick little thing the size of a french fry. And his teeth.

Dinosaurs craved plastic as a matron craves chocolate, and they bounded about the Earth, shaking continents with their thunderous landings, sniffling out landfills, and gorging themselves on plastic bags, children’s toys, polyester clothing, tattered furniture, and so on. Their battles over these treasure troves boomed out over the deserts, the plains; their grunts of satisfaction and possession kept company with the wheeling of the stars. Some grew wings, and flew out over the oceans, landing in the vast turning gyres rich with flip-flops, water bottles, and what-have-you, and eating their way through floating islands big as Texas.

And as they ate, and grew, and looked for more…across China, India, Russia, the USA; all those old names that meant nothing now – a curious thing occurred.

Whenever a dinosaur (and they did not have claws, this time around, but hands like a raccoon’s, dainty and velvet black) found an old computer, or ipod, or ipad, mobile phone – he set to with an especial zeal to munch it down; for it was well known among dino-folk that these items were able to send you on a trip, like mushrooms can. And though any dino loved his life, stomping, bounding, sniffing, roaring into the clear air – he was not averse to a little entertainment. For even a sober bear will gorge on fermented fruit and stagger around for a while like a fool, and then fall asleep, and snore.

A curious fact had emerged, you see: if a dino ate a computer, whatever was in its memory would communicate itself to him, and he would have an Experience of another existence – many existences – not his own. The effect would last until he had digested the meal; and excreted; and then he was back to normal – until the next device came on his menu.

Additionally, his whole skin would participate in the fun: lighting up like a screen, with images moving about it in vivid colors. He made a striking sight, striding about, or maybe just standing still in a sort of swoonish reverie – with colours and pictures playing all over him like Northern lights.

And so no dino could hide his secret cache for long – everyone knew he’d gotten a prize, and would badger and belabour him until he’d given up its location.

This merry party lasted 100,000 years, more or less – not long, really – but it was great fun while it went on. Psychedelic dinosaurs, in all their variety and spininess and poking armature; their refinement, too – for some were delicate, like spiders with 20-ft articulated legs; and, having learnt some lessons from the mammals, some were furry, and warm to the touch, and had melting, sidelong eyes and upturned noses and little tippy-tappy hooves.

And all of them ate plastic; and they thrived; and the females with their black-gloved hands loved to take circuit boards they’d unearthed, and fashion them into Fascinators, and wear them tilted above a spiny eyebrow – even as they thus imbibed the images encoded in said board, and went on a trip as surely as a hippie in those times-before-imagining…

Which really seemed not so long ago; since any PC you gobbled on might have videos in it of Bob Dylan or Jefferson Airplane or whoever…and, of course, all the pcs were full of music; of every stripe.

And so the dinos danced, too, under the fat moon and the red sun, shaking the mountains with their boogie.

And they ate until it all was gone.

Into the Jungle

He had a low forehead, orange-red hair, sparse and hanging like that parasitic vine, dodder. His skin was dead white. His lips were long, and thin as earthworms. His chin, lifted in defence, was square but narrow, with a little cleft. The stubble of his beard was orange too.

The bones of his face were somehow bleak – high, rounded cheekbones, like apple-halves, with carved-out yet somehow flattened hollows beneath, with a waxy quality about the skin that you did not want to touch. His ears stuck out, each at a different angle.

He was not tall, but he was well-made, if very thin – from back to front he seemed like a slip of paper. His tailor despaired of ever being able to build some illusion of substance onto him.

But he was strong, and sinewy. His forearms had weight and mass under the red hairs.

This was Gerald Farquhar, third son of four, never to be a farmer like his father; or a lawyer, or a cleric – nor a stockbroker, nor, perhaps, a husband. And what kind of a soldier could such a person be? Not the right sort of soldier; no.

People did not like to think about his prospects, come to that.

It is likely that he smirked because he knew he was ugly, and he wanted to pre-empt your hesitation, your politeness in his presence. Wanted to show that he was just as ill-favoured as it was thought that he was; and what of it? Here he was; and was here to stay.

Of course there must have been pain behind this – the sudden gasping sobs of a child that knows it is not wanted, not trusted to grace its family, but only to disgrace it. Those well-deep sobs.

But everyone got tired of making allowances. For Gerald was unsavoury – his damp hands, his red-furred forearms, his carved-out, yet flat, almost oriental cheeks – a girl would not want to be left alone with him – not for the liberties he might try to take – nobody knew if he would; he never, as far an as anyone knew, had importuned a female – but for his meanness. The way he would say something slighting, or cruel – but half-hid behind an offhand remark, or even a compliment – you had to think on it, later, to be sure of what he’d really said.

He did not like school, when he went; and would make little pointy shapes out of paper, and draw little obscene designs on them, repeating the design over the whole like some printed Japanese motif; then fly them at the back of the teacher’s head. He did not like swimming in the river – said it was too cold; as if the cold itself offended his rightful place in life. Did not like parties – said they bored him; though likely he was just misanthropic from the pain of being unlovely.

What he did like was riding horses; and the squire had a stableful, so he was never at a loss. The townsfolk, the hill-folk, saw him cantering along at any hour and in any weather, straight-spined, easy in the saddle. Sneering down at whoever was below.

People said he could have been an athlete, if only there were more meat on him; perhaps an administrator in the Colonies? For that (was the secret idea) was a way where he could quit their neighbourhood for a long long time. (Though pity the poor natives!) A planter? His father would need to put a stake on him, and he only the third son. And did he have the gift for it? It did not seem as if he would. He did not seem to fancy breeding his beloved horses either, or even, thank god, trading them (for this is so often a dishonourable profession.) He just liked to ride and ride, out into the wilds, sometimes for days on end.

In a jungle far from Gerald’s land and climes, beside a wide, shallow river, an old lady and her old husband had started a hospital for wounded and unhappy elephants. The white soldiers did not know how to use the beasts, nor how to speak with them, know what it was they needed; they hired mahouts for this of course, but still the misunderstandings and confusions communicated themselves to the sensitive creatures – for elephants are discerning, despite their size. And it must be noted that elephants to do not like to be used; nor more than you or I – so the very fact of their slavery was anathema to them. Inevitably there were casualties – infected whipping-wounds, infected feet, depressions, melancholies. At times even a bullet-wound.

The old couple, whose children had all grown and moved away, brought their love and wisdom to the healing and caring for these huge and noble citizens; dedicating a park-like territory to them, hard by a wide and shallow river, deep in the southern jungle. There the two lived together in a bamboo house made tight and snug, with windows, and a verandah, and a special cooking-hut, detached from it, at the back. And there they took fish from the river, and fruits from the trees; and accepted gifts of rice from their dutiful sons who came calling at regular intervals.

Sometimes the forest people – that hidden, lithesome race who lived, quite minimally clothed, in the deeps of the unknown jungle – brought them honey in the comb, and eggs of certain birds, in exchange for cloth, or extra tools or housewares the couple had been given by their sons. And on these occasions the visitors would linger, and eat with the homesteaders; and have a smoke and a gossip – for the old couple spoke their tongue.

When it rained the pair were happy in their shelter; when it was sunny they enjoyed watching their immense patients frolic in the river, blowing water out their trunks; or lying in the shade resting, waiting for evening when their carers would go and stroke them and murmur compliments, tendernesses and blessings into their great waving capes of ears.

No one was expecting what happened next. Gerald Farquhar kidnapped a girl – the fifteen-year-old daughter of a neighbour – and took her away on horseback, to some place nobody could guess. And all the countryside was in an uproar, for miles around – for many had thought he might in truth prefer gentlemen; and others thought he must like beasts, or clergymen, or perhaps prostitutes in the city, if he sometimes went there. Nobody had ever seen him as much as flirt with a girl.

The child was Eileen Letitia O’Sullivan Goshan – for her father had married an Irish girl, scandalously, so many years ago that the scandal had all died down now, as the marriage had proceeded uneventfully for so long. Seven children had issued from it; Eileen was the sixth, and much-thought-of by her father, for she was sweet and bouncy and sunny as the day is long. It was supposed she had not gone willingly; and in that the people had guessed right.

She lay in the bunk looking up at him. The ship rocked slightly, almost idly; it was hot as summer, and the little cabin was stuffy. Sweat lay between her breasts, on her belly.

He was a mean captor, was Gerald, though not yet a violent one. He watched her – watched her – when she dressed; when she went on deck for air he followed, keeping her always in his gaze, even if he himself leant against the rail and had a smoke. His narrow eyes veered at her from their corners – and he had a certain stiffness about him, as of a man who watches out for his possessions in a crowd.

He’d told her that he would harm her family if she ever disobeyed him. That is how he kept her near.

Now she watched his face; wondering how the geography of it formed his ugliness. If he had had a lovely spirit, would that same face glow? Would it become beautiful? It was difficult to imagine this. Had his mother loved him? She did not know.

His beard hairs started out from his pale skin as if alarmed – like tiny red transparent sea-weeds growing about on his skin. His eyes moved from side to side – or, if he looked at her, it was with the smirk of ownership. She guessed that he felt he’d finally gotten something over on his brothers, and was relishing this. On her back; at her cost.

At such a cost.

She thought he was not simply evil. He was hurt – wounded as if someone had cut his feet in half when he was young. His heart. But she could not imagine him redeeming himself, no matter what mercy might be shown him. …But she could be wrong.

He traced a line around her breast now, with his dwarfish finger. “Mine – mine -” – he actually said this. He nearly had horns, she thought – there at his boxy little temples. A squeamish shiver went through her.

His thing was small too. She had, had, of course, no experience of such a thing before; if her father knew where she was, and what experience she now had had, he would kill, and surely be hung for it.

She shivered again.

The nest of hair was darker than that on his head, though still reddish. The thing stuck up like a finger. It had a rounded end, with a drop of dew on it, like a nose in winter. She would have liked to snortle at this thought, but held it back – he would demand to know what she was laughing at.

He had given her a bag of clothing – stolen from his cousins, who lived nearby him. The garments had been hastily-gathered, and did not go with each other – but she’d had to make do. People looked at her – this young wife, so they supposed, of the odd-looking young man. Her clothes not quite the thing. They pitied her, she could tell; people tended to avoid Gerald, with his pointed elbows and his bent, gliding gait, his look of a passionate fugitive. As well they might.

He did not want her talking to any of the other women. She told him that that would seem strange; women always talked. Did he want to arouse suspicion?

Very well, he said, she could talk to them – but only if he was in earshot. She told him he knew nothing. He said that he would clout her. But he did not do it; not then.

She saw her chance when he was in the privy at the end of the ship – there were three of these shacks, at the stern, so that a long drop could be had, into the sea – for he tended to stay long in there. He’d told her to stay near, just by the rail, but she said that the whole area stunk. He said it didn’t matter – that he wanted to be able to hear her tramping about in her tied-up boots, just nearby. She said it was a disgusting request. He threatened again to clout her, but did not – just pinched her shoulder, hard.

Mrs Belinda Graves Macintosh, tall and imposing, with a pouter-pigeon bosom and straight dark hair done up in pinned coils at the sides of her head, was a friendly soul, the wife of a prosperous grocer, going out to meet her sister in India, for the lark of it really. Her sister was to have a confinement soon, and needed her; she was married to an officer, and had sent passage. Mrs Macintosh had both begged her husband, and informed him diplomatically that she would go – and he had agreed finally. She was pleased to be on her way and was enjoying the trip tremendously.

She had noticed the young lady, with her long dark glossy hair, her full breast and pert nose, her look of a Madonna on the half-shell, as Mrs Macintosh commented to herself – and had immediately sensed that something was wrong.

The purser was coming round with tea in a great urn on a trolley. A look passed between the two women (for Eileen had taken note of Mrs Macintosh’s interest,) and, each with her cup, they repaired behind a sort of structure where steps came up onto the deck – a sort of covered vestibule. Quickly., Eileen told Mrs Macintosh everything – for it was not much to tell. “He’s kidnapped me – passed me off as his wife – threatens to harm my family if I escape, or if I tell, or even if I disobey him!” and she told the name of her family, and where they lived.

“Yes – dear – I can see that it is bad for you,” said the kind lady, shuddering at what the girl must be going through. “Don’t worry – I will think of something. Shall I confront him for you now?”

“No – no – don’t – for unless he is imprisoned directly he will punish me and then my family. Let us get the law into it, so that he might be kept from me altogether. Here, he might find some way to convince the captain of his innocence. He will say that I am in a temper against him, and saying anything that comes into my head. Also he can be violent, I am sure – he has a knife, and is very strong. He might do anything, against us, just this minute. Throw us over the side -. Better wait till we have some help.”

“All right -” said the lady dubiously, though later she regretted listening to the girl in this last regard. “Quick – back to your place – he might be coming out.”

The ship by now was nearly at Bombay. For all the weeks of the voyage, Gerald had managed to prevent her fleeing in any port they’d paused at; now would come his great test – for they would be disembarking here.

In the jungle, time has a different meaning. There are no clocks, no calendars; the day moves dwellingly towards evening, not in any rush. The elephants cared nothing for time either, but lived life by the seasons and the moon, and their own Masts, heats, estrus. They were happy, and splashed and rolled and trumpeted; and when a female gave birth, all the elephants gathered round and helped her; and helped to tend and guide the baby when he was young.

And so they knew nothing of the news – that a young Englishman, a fugitive from justice, had escaped from a ship where he was about to be arrested by the authorities in the port; and stolen a horse, and, with a ferocious strength none would have thought him to possess, he had hit a young lady on the head and then dragged her unconscious body up before him on the saddle, and taken flight.

She woke soon – her head hurt horribly, and she was afraid. She was bouncing up and down, skewing to the side, and she reached out and grabbed hold of the pommel. Her vision was clearing, and she looked at what she could see. They must be out of the city – in a flat green countryside – she had heard on the ship that the the monsoon would just be ending. So everything was leafy and green. Straight ahead was a woods.

.He hid the two of them successfully for three days, spending one of them in a banyan tree with the knife held to her side while villagers tramped below, single file. She knew he had that knife – he’d shown it to her on the boat – but she had not seen a gun…at least that was something.

They were hungry – hungrier than either of them had ever been. One night he made a tiny fire in a thicket of trees, just near a little stream., and roasted five frogs on a stick. She forced hers down – it was horrible when the creatures had swelled and popped in the heat. He had not killed them before impaling them. She felt sick.

They’d had little sleep. He was scared, she knew – but she could feel his exultation as well. Finally he could live it out: himself against the world. A showdown he’d been waiting for.

He ate grubs he found under the rotting bark of a tree. She refused them. He said they were nutty, and not too dreadful at all. They drank from streams, and soon her stomach held a dull ache.

He paid a man with a dhow to take them down to the south – past Goa; to where the jungle came down to the shore, and strange, single mountains reared up here and there in the interior, jungle-clad. There were hill stations atop them, but he intended to avoid them. The boat left at night, as he’d asked, and stayed close to shore on the breeze all the way south. It took a few days as they were becalmed from time to time, then again the fresh air would move in and they would scud along. It was a peaceful ride really – just them and the boatman and the man’s wife, who cooked over a little brazier on the deck. They ate spicy lentil strew and rice, and there were fermented rice and coconut pancakes made from a beaten batter poured onto a hot oiled metal griddle laid over the coals. They were delicious.

Eileen had a chance to relax a little, and begin to feel the place she’d been brought to. It was entirely strange – and yet she felt a sort of listening in her, a harking to what messages it might have hiding beneath its everyday sun and water-sparkle and ill-dressed people and the shabby boat. Mysterious new intimations it was sending her…as if some heart beat underneath things, waiting for her to notice; and she could not really notice yet. She was too new.

And she was aware of the jungle, not so far away; that she knew Gerald was planning to settle in – the thick, wet, dangerous, unknown jungle. Where she would be hid away and never see her family again….but surely she would manage to escape? Gerald would make one slip in his vigilance, and she’d find the local Commissioner, and give herself up.

Ruined – so ruined – but alive.

Gerald kept a great pace through the thick woods. The horse had of course been left behind when they boarded the boat; staked in the woods, on the path the villagers took – somebody would find him. So they had no choice but to make their way on foot. The cloth-wrapped packet of rice pancakes and fruit they had asked the woman to make for them was gone. Gerald had woodsman skills; he had been mentored by a groom when he was a child (though the man had taken payment in his own dark, wordless, venal way,) and had learnt to survive in the wilds – to make a fire; a shelter; to bind up wounds, to make a bed of boughs of leaves – to forage English plants and mushrooms – not those of this new, strange land.

They’d left the palm trees of the shore behind, and now there were tall trees of many sorts, with here and there some hanging vines. Neither of them could identify the trees – they did not know that here were Curry, and Sal, and Peepul, and Neem; the weird grey-trunked massy trees with hanging appendages like stretched-out humans, or elephant-trunks joined back to the earth – they knew to be Banyan – for they had each seen them in storybooks.

The ground had changed from sand to packed earth; with grass wherever there was sunlight. Soon leaf-mould replaced grass, and there were roots and vines to trip over. They had to keep to the paths – the raw jungle would have been too difficult to navigate, with leaf-hid holes and snakes and other hidden hazards. Gerald kept his ears open, ready to pull her behind a tree should he hear a horse’s hooves. They did met local people; India is a place in which it is difficult to be alone – but although the people stared, they did not try to apprehend the pair – far from it; they stepped off the path and murmured, “sahib…memsahib…” then looked after them strangely.

It was worrisome – surely word would get back to the officials – so they must hurry – he wanted to go far, far into the interior, to find a place where nobody would discover them….

The jungle was not quite as she had feared; it was not impenetrably viney, full of huge spiders, as she’d read the Amazon was. There were grassy clearings, and trails, and flowers, and sometimes even little settlements of circular huts and a cleared field or two – but these he skirted, pulling her along almost roughly. “Shhhh!” he’d say fiercely – “be quiet!”

She feared tigers, and cobras, and any other predators she could think of; but they saw only birds in wonderful colours, and monkeys high above who threw seed-pods at them and chattered with little sharp teeth, like humanoid cats. In the night, though, when they huddled together for warmth, with his greatcoat and her cloak thrown over them, the jungle was sparkling with eyes, twitching and cracking with sounds. There were soft hoots and calls, and sometimes a scream. She’d start, and get closer to him, and then pull back – for his flesh did not seem to invite her, even though she could feel his hunger and his need. He denied these, she thought, and wilfully turned them to coldness and force.

One night as they were shivering about their tiny flame, hungry as always; Eileen ventured: “oh dear Neighbour,” (for she did not want to anger him,) “this plan of yours, to take us to dwell in the fastnesses of the forest – do you not think it is a foolish hope then, rather than a true possibility? For are we not hungry, all the day and all the night too? Surely we shall starve there before so very much time has passed!” she added piteously.

Hush, you prissy schoolgirl!” he came back coldly. “Think you the whole world is as mild as the Home Counties? You should be thanking me, for I have taken you from a life of samenesss and stupidities, and brought you far, for an education! Look about us!” – and he cast his arm in a sweep – “So much to learn of noble Nature here! And the people we will encounter, with their strange customs! – it will broaden you! Soon I will find a gun -” he promised – “and then I will shoot game; and when I’ve built our house we can display the heads upon the wall!” and his lips thinned even more, and his chin lifted, and there was a bitter, triumphant glint in his eye for fortunes not yet won.

But….I do not wish it!” she ventured. And he snapped, “Hush! Wait till you have a bairn or two – then you will be happy! You are just an infant still, stupid girl – but I am making a woman of you.”

She looked at him to see if he believed this – and she thought that perhaps he did not.

The great hindrance, it soon became clear, was to be their feet. They each wore laced-up boots with leather soles and built-up heels – and very soon these seemed to melt a bit, and go clammy, and a fur of green mould appeared on the uppers. The long tramping brought out blisters – they stopped, plucked leaves, put them over the sore places – replaced the boots, and went on.

Gerald fared worst. At one of these stops he lost his balance while standing on one leg to put the poultice on, and the bare foot came down hard on the ground. A sharp bit of branch pierced it. He pulled the splinter out, swearing. He knew that to disinfect the wound he should urinate on it; but this he was loathe to do with Eileen so near. He felt it made him too…exposed. So he spat on his hand instead and rubbed it on the puncture, and then put a large leaf over the place, then replaced his woolen sock – holey now in the heel right where the blister was – and then the boot. As they went on the leaf soon slipped, and so the exercise had been useless.

Over the next day and a half the wound began to swell, and then to ache. At night, at their pitiful little campsite, where each thought and thought of foods they missed and craved so very much…shepherd’s pie, and a good wedge of cheese, and ale, and a sharp pippin apple, eaten from a nice small plate, and cored and sliced with a sharp knife – he examined his feet.

Eileen watched him. She was footsore, tireder than she’d ever been; hungrier too. She was angry, and sad, and frightened. She did not like this man, this boy – nobody liked him – and she missed her mother, her father, her brothers. And oh, how she missed her bed! – her carved wooden bed, with the straw mattress covered with an eiderdown; and then another puffy eiderdown over her. And two pillows, soft as soft….

She looked over at Gerald’s feet. They were narrow and small, very white, with a high arch – poncy feet, she thought, and yet pitiful too. They didn’t look like they could stand up to anything, really – not this big, harsh world. What had God been thinking, making him?

But who was she to question? She shivered superstitiously, a bit undone by this inner argument, and abandoned it.

The wound had closed, sealed itself with a bit of green scab; but under the scab was a raised area of white, and around it red flesh rose up. It looked hot. He bathed the foot in a little stream, and then, wincing, tried to cauterise the area, using his knife heated in the flame, laid side-on over the place. Grimaced – but said nothing.

They were so famished now that they drooped, and their stomachs seemed to meet heir backbones.

On the fifth day, light-headed with hunger, bellies full of water from the last stream they’d crossed, they were walking on a path through a deeply shaded stretch of woods.

Suddenly a little group of people stood before them, come from somewhere, silently.

They stopped – the people stopped – five of them; a child, a woman, a man, and an elder couple – and the the two disparate groups stared at each other.

He’d been limping badly; the forest folk had, Eileen knew, seen this. The older man glanced at the foot, then back up at the two of them.

It was a strange moment. There was, somehow, a great silence in things. Time seemed to stretch out; stand still.

At first Eileen could not think how these innocent people might be able to help her. What would they know of the British, and the law? She would not even be able to talk with them, if indeed she had the chance.

But then something happened.

The older woman raised her eyes to Eileen’s, and it was as if a flicker of telepathy passed between them. The bush telegraph, only unspoken. The older woman, without saying a word, asked Eileen: Is this a bad man? Has he made a mess of things? Is he hurting you, making you unhappy? Would you like me to make things easier for you?

And Eileen, without saying a word; casting her eyes down and to the side, then looking up again, said, silently, Yes. He’s bad. He’s got me as a prisoner. Can you indeed do something?

And a look went then from the older woman to the older man.

That man stepped forward, pointing at Gerald’s foot. He said something they did not understand; but he seemed to be indicating that he could help, if Gerald and Eileen would go with them.

The people seemed to carry no arms save a staff each for the adults. They wore simple cloths around their loins, and each had a gourd for water, and a funny bag made of woven leaves. The younger man wore an English-style shirt, much holed, with the sleeves cut off. The two women wore waistcoats of some coarse cloth, but they did not seem to care if these fell open and revealed a breast. Their hair was thick and dark, woven and braided with vines, and hanging down their backs in a braid. They seemed harmless – though Gerald thought of cannibals, of course; nor did he consider anyone to harmless, really.

But his foot was festering, and he did need help. He decided that they would go.

The next morning, while Gerald still slept, his foot propped on a log and bound up (the old man had quite boiled it in hot water, then applied the juice of a certain plant) – the old woman came and woke Eileen, who slept under a cloth at a little distance from him.

She beckoned the girl, and Eileen, who had not been able to change clothes since the disembarkation – her borrowed bag had been left behind on on the quay when they’d bolted – could smell her own awfulness as she got up and tried to arrange her hair, and put on her stiff woollen socks and the boots. They’d eaten well the night before – some gamey animal made into a soup, and a stringy mass of cooked vegetable, perhaps a root or tuber – and Eileen had been offered a strong, medicinal tasting tea, which she’d drunk gratefully. The bitterness of it was surprisingly welcome. Gerald had been given a quantity of fenny, the fermented coconut liquor that coast-dwellers drink. Perhaps the people traded for it, or went on coconut-gathering expeditions….it was strong stuff, and quite delicious, thought Gerald; and now he was finally resting, dead to the world.

The old woman led Eileen away from the little gathering of dome-shaped huts, picking their way stealthily they entered the jungle on a different path than the one that Eileen and Gerald had walked the day before.

Eileen was exhilarated. To leave behind that pallid nightmare! That icksome, sticky, nasty piece of work! To never again have to submit to his rages, his threats, his knife, his hard, dinky little thing, with its determined head like some amphibious beastie coming up from under a river bank! Never to have to look at the flush of coldness on his face, or see the way the wax bloomed on his skin -. She nearly hopped along – her stomach, incidentally, feeling much better too – and knowing, simply knowing, that this old woman knew what she was doing, and would save her.

Each day, many ships come into the port of Bombay. They come from China, from Ceylon, from the West Indies, Singapore. They come from the Antipodes, from Suez, the Cape of Good Hope, England, the Americas. Today one landed from Bristol, and two middle-aged men got off, stern with purpose.

It was a day’s travel to the place the old woman meant to take her. The path was barely discernible, but the native was sure in her step and direction. They paused several times to drink water and eat a bit of the provision the guide carried; and to look back…but nobody followed. And when the quick dusk of the tropics fell, they came out of the woods onto the bank of a broad, shallow river.

They stopped here for a moment, to drink in the sight – the last light had made a sheet of luminosity on the water, silver, with ripples here and there. The far bank showe a continuation of the woods, with a beach before it, as there was here.

The sense of space and peace, and the fresh smell of the water, woke Eileen as if from a trance – and she stared at the beauty, the place seeming drenched in peace and benevolence. She took a deep breath and let it out...ahhhh mmmmm…… Her body felt as if the river flowed through it – cleansing ,cooling, livening. Lifting her heart.

They turned left along the beach and went round a bend. And there, to her astonishment, was a house – but such a house! Built ramshackle and higgledepiggledy, yet with a kind of grace to its many parts tacked on to each other – a wing here, a turret there – of bamboo! – an outer staircase, a verandah, and another verandah raised up beside an upper room. The roof was pitched and covered in palm-boughs lashed together thickly; the walls were of bamboo and sapling-trunks, but brought together cleverly so that the whole was stout, yet whimsical and lilting. It looked like a fairy-dwelling, or like Robinson Crusoe lived there.

And then her eye moved to the river, and she saw the elephants – several resting, with every appearance of happiness, in the water; she spotted others in a grassy field hard by the river and beyond the house. One was standing beside the dwelling, long trunk reached out to an open window; a brown hand could be seen patting the trunk, and a murmur just heard under the quiet voice of the river.

The old couple had along life behind them, and many adventures, some difficult, and they could speak the tongue of the conquerors as well as several native tongues. And so, over a delicious meal of rice and fish and lentil stew, they talked – all four of them; and understood each other as plain as plain.

The forest-dweller, the spry old aboriginal lady, recounted a dream that someone in the tribe had had – not so long ago. The dreamer saw a peculiar couple with pale skin and the man with hair like a fever, like a shreds of dried mango – and the lady in distress; on her back a large spider had attached itself, with the vine made of the hide of some poor beast, wrapped round and round her – that was the silk of that particular spider.

The lady screamed and cried, in the dream; and the people had to decide how to detach the spider, so that the lady could be saved. The gentleman, pale and with hair like fire, stood like a pole, saying nothing; but he let the spider feast through a hole in the girl’s side, and sometimes he chanted little mantras to it, when it looked like getting bored and loosening its grip. And then it clung some more.

Much debate had taken place about the meaning of the dream. It had been noted that the gentleman seemed spider-like himself – as if already emptied of his own substance too; a husk remaining, animated by a ghost of vengeance.

Waiting for his fate to catch him up.

And so it appeared that he was, by devouring the lady, being himself devoured; a sort of circle from him back to himself. The people pondered on this, saying that it is a way that things can go.

But nothing in the recent life of the village could explain the characters or even the message of the dream – so there was nobody to thank or warn or apologize to for its contents, as the people were wont to do if they had a dream about someone. And so they expected that it was the other type of night-vision…about something that will come to pass.

When the encounter on the forest path had occurred, the old woman had therefore recognized the visitors; as had all the little group – and she had then opened her vision wide to see and understand what was the matter. And later when her man had tended the wound of the young fire-haired sahib, she had watched…and she knew this: the man loved not his life; though he dreamed of power and respect, he had given up on true joys. And so he was turning towards his death, yet unfulfilled in himself: it was wilful turning, not of Nature but of man – he was in pain; and so he wished to die.

But he had vowed that Eileen would go with him. His secret vow was to show the families, back in England, that he was somebody to be reckoned with. So he would take her, and if it came to the confrontation, he would put her in the stream of the bullets before him; and then only he would take his dose. Or if, to save himself – for he would not go without a struggle – he had to flee quickly, deeper in to the forest, and could not take her – he would slit her throat first, and leave her to be found. For he did have a knife.

All of this the Elder saw; and she knew that even if the girl was taken far away, the flame-head must be prevented from coming after – for he had made his vow.

Two men, never friends before this terrible time – bonded now in urgency and in practicality – made their way with two guides and an interpreter, hired through families they knew in Bombay; in search of the fugitive and his hostage. They had no idea what infernal notion might be in Gerald’s mind – what he was aiming at; besides the possession of young Eileen Letitia – but they thought he would not have sought, in India, to conquer polite society. Such an idea was laughable, for the benighted lad had no gift of charm. Nor yet could he pass himself off as Eurasian, and hide in the neighbourhoods unofficially reserved for them – the railway clerks, the sub-school masters, the shipping clerks. Nor yet could he hide with full-blood natives, for he was too fair to permit of this. Could he have gone to the mountains? They thought not – for winters there are full of snow; and why court misery when you can be warm instead? They knew he was a woodsman – and felt he was likely to exercise that ability, as the only power he had. And so they did the only thing they could do: headed for forest, while talking to everyone they met, stating their mission, and asking for clues.

The natives, wanting to appear helpful, told them many a thing, and each thing contradicted the other; and the two thought they would go mad with the frustration of galloping down this road and then that one, to come up with nothing.

But then – a rumour had got about – they finally heard from a chai-wallah who plied his trade at an intersection of two well-traveled pathways between the inland plateau and the sea – about a sahib with hair like copper wire, or sunrise, or suchlike – and with him a sad girl with a pale, young face. And more people had seen them too, and came forward, with just a little rewarding – a coin here and there, a packet of tobacco – to tell of people remarkable for the lack of the usual British travelling accoutrements : bearers, luggage, picnic items, cook, and waggons to trundle it all upon. And so the two men followed the clues, which got stronger once they had gained the South, past the Portugeuese colony and into the mild, wild lands of flower, tree, and red earth, with seldom a road.

“Your son has embarrassed you,” remarked Montreal Goshan to his now-friend, Dennis Farquhar. “I am sorry that it came to this. I would not see you so discomposed, so cast in bad light by association. It is not your doing – your other sons are settled well. The lord works in mysterious ways – so too the other fellow. But if I catch that young bastard,” he continued, a new steel in his voice, “I don’t mind telling you, he will feel the full power of my wrath – and he might not survive it.”

Dennis bowed his head. He understood the point. The girl was ruined – and a lovely girl too; Dennis had remarked her at church on Sundays, in her simple coloured gowns. He had no daughters himself, but he knew the wisdom – once used, the value was no more – unless a fool could be found to marry her – as did sometimes happen. Or a kind man – and that was rarer still.

Thre are times in a person’s life that stand out forever in the memory – islands of beauty, of light and calm and goodliness. These need not be long – it seems to be the way of things, that they are seldom overlong – but they heal and nourish and illuminate the heart all out of proportion to the time-length; and stay with us then to the end of our days – and perhaps beyond.

Such was Eileen’s time at the river with the old couple and the elephants. Golila, the aboriginal woman, went back to her tribe alone a day or two later, and Eileen stayed to laze and play among the huge beasts, to learn simple cooking from Ranulpha (and how she’d got that name was a tale in itself, from her fascinating past;) to learn pachyderm medicine, and thus to sing to them, to soothe and pat them; and to be soothed in turn by their intelligent, lashy eyes and truthful gaze.

She bathed wearing almost nothing by and by; protected by the deep forest of Arjuna trees, and Gulmohar all blossoming red; and many another she did not know. The temperature was perfect, the shallow water where the sun hit it was warm. She grew brown and fit, and relished her meals and her bed – she slept in an upper room once belonging to the children, and hers was the verandah higher up. She woke to light-glint on the river and broad stripe of red low down in the heavens; she slept to frogs and crickets, and the odd bat zooming in one window and out another. A mosquito net protected her from insects while she slept, and ointments produced by Ranulpha discouraged biting things during the day. She heard tigers booming in the forest; but she was no longer afraid.

Her tired spirit melted within her – her smile grew wider – her flesh glowed. She felt as if the river was washing out of her the hateful past, the bad smell of him, the puddle he’d put in her that would fall plopping out again when she’d squat down to pee – for still he’d used her in the forest – though less often than aboard the ship. She began to imagine the river combing out every thread of him – separating the fibres from her flesh, taking him gone. Gone to wherever his place was – for it was not, could not be, with her.

She sensed that the old Ranulpha had no censoriousness towards her, towards what had happened to her. A full life had brought wisdom – only the un-lived are quick to criticize the life of others. For what do we know, really? – Here, in this mystery under the stars – this turning pebble, all blue and green and striped like agate.

Sometimes when the eles trumpeted, bringing their great trunks up and sounding their woodwind, blaring, bleating cry – she howled too, roared and screamed her rage and her vituperation at what she’d been made to suffer. And she wanted him to die –

Yet later, lying on a cloth on the river beach, warm and drowsy, she’d forget all about him – could even thank him, then, if she remembered – for bringing her unwittingly here to this.

And sometimes she feared he’d appear out of the jungle, right here, beside the house where the trail came – and then she almost wished for him some of the healing she was getting. If he could receive it, and leave off his mischief. She almost wished he’d lie in the water and rest his soul…but not, not, not while she was there.

But he never came.


Did Gerald die of his infected wound, or did the Natives dispatch him? They have a custom, you see, that on the extremely rare occasions when one of them has killed a man, the killer walks days to the office of the police, to give himself up to justice. And there is no record of one of the fellows doing that.

It was said, when the villagers were finally questioned, that he had gone into the forest in a fever, dragging his painful and swollen foot; he insisted, and people did not like to hold him – for he was a free man, and a sahib.

(It was clear to them that he would never reach the Elephant River – and so they did not worry. They let the gods do whatever work they’d planned.)

Many weeks passed before Montreal Goshan and Dennis Farquhar, leaner, hungrier, and much edified, came at last to the banks of the Elephant River, and Montreal reclaimed his daughter.

What a meeting they had! What a joyous hullabaloo and wrapping-in-arms; and a feast after! To his astonishment, Eileen seemed neither chagrined, nor ashamed, nor cowed, nor lost, nor even traumatized – though she was angry, if she thought on Gerald – but this she endeavoured not anymore to do.

And so all Goshan’s plans for reclamation, consolation, and then perhaps a future for her as a dutiful, housebound daughter – or a bride of some much more downmarket suitor than he’d earlier hoped – vanished like the smoke of the little fire lit for morning tea and fermented rice pancakes. He could not sustain those maudlin emotions in the presence of his glowing, tanned, radiantly joyous daughter – who showed him the ways of the eles, and groomed them, and patted them and sang and laughed with them. She seemed hardly to blame Squire Farquhar, and included him too in her swims and rambles. She knew now that Gerald was past pursuing her – word had come earlier from Golila – and she let his spirit go skywards, hoping for it a better future. She blew it from her hand, and watched it go.

Her deep vow had become: let me live in India – among the elephants. Let me marry a calm good man, and have adventures; but come back here to see my friends, and take over the job here, when all is said and done.

And so it happened.

May 2017, Hebden Bridge

Why I’ve Not Been Writing Here

It just seems too much of a muchness to keep up with blog, FB, e-mails, and my writing too. I’ve recently come out with a new book of poetry, More About the Moon, of which I’m very proud! it’s gotten great reviews.  For more info go to my website, and click on Books.

I’m also hanging out my shingle to help other people work on their books – as i keep being sent them, and it’s much better to do the corrections before publication than after! So I call it Pre-views. Then, I’m open to doing book reviews as well.

I’ve also been in a loooong health crisis – periodontal – doesn’t sound too bad but it was! Wonderful to be better and reveling in the summer in England – all the flowers! Absurdly sunny for months now…

Just got back from Festival of Sound and Silence in Corfu, where i did an open mic event and enjoyed hanging out with Nisarg and other friends. But it’s toooo sunny there – and mozzie-ful –

I’ve taken so many pics these last months, and many end up on FB.  Stories I write end up, often, on Oshonewsonline instead of being posted here.

See you on FB! If you want a session, I’ve now corrected the e-mail address which somehow ended up being wrong – since god knows how long. I’ve avoided coming here to the blog because of the simple irritation of digging out the pw – inexcusable, I know – but…now I’ve done it.

Joyfully in England

Sooo happy to be living in England now, helping prepare for a new Healing Centre in the North, in Hebden Bridge.


Sessions and Groups

Types of Sessions                                                                                                                

Intuitive Reading

This is incorporated in any session, or can be a session on its own. I hold the person’s hands, tune in to her. Can also be done by holding feet, or scanning chakras, or all of above. I read photographs, Kirlian photographs, x-rays. I speak, of course, about what I see and feel and hear.

Object Reading

I read any object you like, to see its history, nature, and that of those who have handled it. Can be useful to see if an object should be saved or discarded/given away.

Jewelry reading

We go through your collection of stones and jewelry. I tune in to your energy and then read each piece to see how it suits you; how it interacts with you. (Each person is individual and each stone is also individual, so the effect is always unique.) I can see if the piece needs cleaning; and then instruct you in this. For pieces with stubborn old vibes in them – say, from an ancient grumpy Auntie – I can put them through a thorough cleaning process for you. This takes several days, but the piece will be cleansed and ready for your own habitation of it henceforth!

This type of session acts as a reading for you – much emerges!

Tarot Reading

I hover my hand over the cards you have chosen for specific issues. The card shows me pictures, feelings, knowings. This can also be done via phone or Skype; either you choose cards on your end and I pick the same ones and read them on my end (Zen Tarot deck) or I choose cards for you.

Human Design

I am not an accredited reader. I have been studying for about 14 years. I’m always in awe of how much I don’t know. Human Design has eased my own life so much that I cannot resist bringing it in; I like to use this uncannily accurate rocket-science astrology as an adjunct to almost any type of group or session.

Couple’s Charts

Human design is fantastic for looking at the troubles and joys couples get into. It can help bring much-needed distance from a tangle, and promotes healthy individuality and understanding. By recognizing how someone is different from you, you can give them space to be themselves – and being oneself is the essence of peace! This is also great for vetting prospective suitors!

Generator Session

A particular way of working with Generators (A type in HD.) This session is gentle and yet right to the point: how does one make decisions from one’s true nature? You will experience this decision-making for yourself.

Couple’s HD plus Chakras

As well as looking at the charts, we’ll go into the chakras of the pair. I read them and see how they are interacting and what their struggles are. The chakras are constantly registering all that goes on with a person; as well as containing in their depths the essence of the person at the level of a particular chakra. The chart shows your blueprint; the chakra shows that plus what you have done with it in your life.

Too, there are basic principles of relating that then show themselves as relevant: How to treat oneself and the other with clear respect? Blame, projection, dumping…we’ll look at these and see how they can be understood and thus disidentified with. New ways can be found to take energy back to oneself (where it becomes, eventually, blissful) instead of bothering the other with it!

Poetry Session

I hold your hands and tune in. A poem for you comes to me, I write it down on a piece of paper; read it aloud to you, roll it up, tie it with a ribbon, and give it to you. Takes about fifteen or twenty minutes all together.

Pendulum Chakra Balancing

Invented by my talented sister Sarita. This session takes about 20-30 minutes and is a method of self-healing. You lie down, I dangle pendulum above each chakra in turn. According to how the pendulum behaves we proceed further…you’ll learn what your chakras really want from you.


The Corral

This session helps cut through the pain in difficult relatings with people living or gone. You will find what your Higher Self sees about these gnarls…and much sorting and healing occurs.*

The Garden

You are guided, in light, conscious trance, into your own inner garden, where you meet a Wise One.

Past Life Journey

You are guided into whatever scenes appear from your unconscious…great for dealing with current issues. Can be profoundly healing.

Healing Journey

Here again you will be healing yourself through your discoveries in your inner world. We take an issue and use it as a way to go exploring the inner landscape. The healing resources, on whatever level, are already there – they just need to be uncovered. *

Dream Session

Bring your dream. With painting and dialoguing we can experientially decode it with ease. It will thus return to you the energy it had been keeping as symbol.

Chakra Dialogue

We use colored sheets of paper to assist in entering the chakras, dialoguing with chakras. Each has its own experience, its own opinion. Good for looking at current issues.

Seven Bodies Journey

A trance journey to explore the seven levels of the aura, corresponding to the chakras. Helpful as an overview during any healing process. **

Guardian of the Threshold

Painting and dialoguing – to discover and dissolve what is in the way between you and yourself.*

Cherokee Chakra Loop Fire Breathing

A wild, wonderful, extremely powerful method for coming totally alive. (From Leela)

Hara Burn

Intense spiritual-warrior meditation: an issue is transformed by being sent into the hara, the home of emptiness/birth/death/the eternal in one’s deep belly. (From Vibhaven.)

Voice Dialogue

Visiting the various inner voices involved in any issue and letting them have their say; also visiting the Buddha Nature.  Resolves, opens out, detonates issues par excellence. (From Hal and Sidra Stone.)



I go into deep relaxation, and open the door. You ask questions and the Guides respond.


Channeling Healing

An advanced session, for the very ready and receptive. I go in trance, you ask very central questions, Guides do healing on you.

Color Light Therapy

I used to be a practitioner. Now I only do the treatments I enjoy doing. Intuitive reading often occurs during the time the lamp is on the point.

Nine Divine Points (on the toes.)

Nine Divine Points for Couples

Assorted ear points (for many different symptoms.)

Ear points for weight loss (this requires the ability/opportunity on the client’s part to process the released emotional material.)

Leg Detox


Function Circle Diagnosis in Pink

Back Treatment

Eye Treatment

And more….

* Also from Mahasatvaa Sarita    ** Invented by Sarita and myself separately


Women’s Group

Many methods, including painting, dialoguing, drama, dance – are included for uncovering women’s strengths, receptivities, expansions, wildnesses, mysteries

Heart Chakra Group

Being with the Fourth Chakra: unconditional love, space, acceptance. Delicious and spacious! These techniques came out of the Mystery school, Poona.

Cherokee Chakra Loop Fire Breathing

A wild way to come fully alive. You will meet yourself here – and breathe right on through.


Sacred relating.


We try out many techniques for coming into one’s stillness, emptiness, center…with joy along the way!


Stretching, role-dancing, reaching further and higher – dance your way to god(dess.)


Playing with stones and intuitive reading; learning to clean stones.


Channeling for a group

I go into deep relaxation. You ask questions – each one of you. The Guides respond.


Past lives



Guardian of the Threshold

Dissolving what’s in the way of your process – in a group situation.



We make it easy for the Muse to visit. A way of playing with the music of heart and words.


Giving talks

I love this! Name your subject, and if I like it I’ll speak on it. If not, I’ll bring the subject!

Poetry reading

Koan work

Koan work cuts through the personality to come closer to the original Face. An intensive.

Audio Poems






Knees and Nightshades

Nightshades are a plant genus which includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, deadly nightshade, and more. All contain some amount of a certain toxin. In India in the 90’s sometime I was told by a kinesiologist that I was allergic to all of these except eggplant. Cessation of potato-eating led to cessation of scalp exzema at that time….
But of course later I ate them again – though not every day. And I ate tomatoes, because who can imagine not eating tomatoes?
But I discovered over time, and with experimentation, that tomatoes, even sun-warm and fresh from the garden, badly exacerbated my (agh erg) herpes.
So. No more tomatoes, potatoes, or peppers – or, of course, deadly nightshade, not that that had ever passed my lips.
And – wow zowie – after a while of being nightshade-free, my knees felt free! And my elbows/wrists/ankles! The aging joints stopped letting me know they were aging, altogether. No aches/pains/creaks! No more perpetuation of small strains into months of discomfort!
I don’t know if this would work for you – but stopping sugar and nightshades helped my joints absolutely.
I have read that it is known medically that arthritis can be increased by nightshades….
Good luck! That’s all I’m going to write on this Christmas Eve as we get ready to prepare an Indian feast with potatoes in it I won’t eat; and no tomatoes anyway!
Let potato-eaters eat potatoes! Everybody’s different.
I’d love a nightshade-free cookbook – somebody must have written one, in our new creative age where everybody gets to sing into her computer without let or hindrance.

In Japan

The moon went to a

Moon-gazing party.

All she had to do

Was glide & preen

Like a mirror;

Then chill still as fish-egg.

In the cocoon-skin house

Tea was served,

And sliced persimmon

Thin as glass.

Then people slippered out

The paper door

To stand in the glistening waterfall

Of our desert moon.

People looked at her

And felt their hearts bow.

They wore their best kimonos

And said nothing;

And whatever worms

Were in their hearts

From days of grumpy living

The moon went in

Like a root canal

And relieved them


(The full relief was still to come.)

There were paths and little bridges

And  bent trees

Short as people.

Anyone could stop anywhere

And just stand with face

Upturned for the moon’s

Kiss which pours mystery

As a lover’s does fire.

Moon – face-to-face with us

Over the cool tract of

Shining distance –

Blazoning in the lifted forehead;

Held in the throat like


James Dean’s Mother

James Dean’s Mother

I found a bio of James Dean at a garage sale for a quarter. When I travel I like to take incidental-looking little paperbacks, old or thin or otherwise disposable-looking; then I can discard them when I’m done, or, if they turn out to be good, give them away to friends I’m visiting. I took this one to Europe along with several others, and read it at night in my little room up under the eaves, after doing sessions and groups all day, at the KristalBoom in Holland. I found it unexpectedly engrossing…working as I was with people’s unconsciouses. (If there wasn’t such a word before, there is now.) What, I had wondered, would there be to fill a whole book with, on the life of someone who died when he was twenty-three?

Plenty, it turns out, if the writer knew the subject well and took care to describe, blow by blow as it were, every love/sex affair he ever had, every turn on his motorcycle, every TV show he did; and so on.

In the two years before he died J.D. saw psychiatrists because he had recurring, powerful dreams about his mother. This beloved, humble, plump, richly pretty, doting young woman died at twenty-nine of uterine cancer. There was a photo of her in the middle of the book, where all those satisfying photos usually are in biographies; and I was moved by her dark, zaftig loveliness. Her son of course never recovered from losing her. How could he? I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be a little boy – vulnerable while being told to be strong – and lose the very yolk of my sustenance. Ghastly. Horrible.

The shrinks were so busy protecting their shrinkly personas and collecting money and, too, protecting their own vulnerable emotional beings (since they were male and thus soft-wired to be positively abysmal in the original sense of the word – abyss-like – in their receptive second, emotional chakras) that they did not trouble to actually do him any good. And, of course, they didn’t know how – since the Great God Freud didn’t know how. So Jimmy went on dreaming, and was afraid to go to sleep, and when he did he dreamed some more.

Where is my mother? Where is the Goddess? Why did she leave me? Where is my own receptive abyss and what must I receive in it? Who is Woman? What am I? Who loves me? What is love? What is it to be a Man: in its male aspects, in its female aspects? Why did she leave me? Where did she go? Why me? Was it something I did or didn’t do? Am I born bad? Will I ever know? Is life worth living without being able to address these questions experientially, not intellectually?

J.D. was all about experiencing. He said so, he did so, he went fast and sexed often and drank deep and acted, I am told (I never saw a film of his) with astonishing brilliance. But those shrinks missed the mark completely and made no use of his gifts in trying to help him to plumb himself.

Here’s what I would have done:

First we would have sat in silence for some minutes, letting energy settle, tasting quiet, breathing. Letting things settle down. During these silent minutes I would have tuned into myself; noticed where I was at this moment…and enjoyed it, whatever it was. Then I would be ready for him.

We would open our eyes and I would invite him to speak, to tell me about the dreams, to tell me anything he wanted about his life and his quest and his angst. And I would just listen; just receive. Asking now and then a question to invite something more out into the open.

I would give him painting supplies and good thick paper and invite him to paint a dream he had had. I would leave him alone to do this.

Then I would ask him to explain the painting to me.

When he had shared about it, pointing out this and that bit, it would be time for the next step. I would guide him through becoming each character, symbol, part of the dream in turn. He would step out of James and into…the house in the dream. Become the house. Or if there was a horse, be the horse. If there was a mother…become the mother. And let go – experience – let the energy pour through the whole body, let it live, cry, shout, stomp, dance, shake – whatever was in it to be. The whole room is used for this; painting kept aside to be looked at between characters.

And I would ask questions of the house, the horse, the mother. “How long have you been with Jimmy? How does he treat you? How would you like him to treat you? How do you see the way he lives his life? Is there something you’d like to say to him?” and after each question, giving time and space for that part to respond. I would feel out each character, to go with the enquiry like a man walking in sock feet down a corridor in the dark – feeling the next step, knowing with my whole body the next inch to move forward; sensing my client and his veiled areas of the unconscious.

And Jimmy Dean would have the chance to take his daredevil aliveness into his own interior in a very lit-up, nonchaotic way – step by step, in a safe environment for feeling. His mother would have had the chance to come back to him and love him. He would have been able to tell her he wanted to go with her. He would have been able to know too that another part of him was dedicated to being here and living. That it was not necessary to leave her to do this – he can reclaim her too.

He would have unburdened, opened doors and windows, seen spaciousness. He was young, he had energy to bring to this. He wanted it badly!

Once on a photo shoot for Life Magazine he went into a furniture store and opened a coffin and got in. The photographer was not amused. But doesn’t it seem entirely normal that a child would want to go with his mother?

That world and this are not so far apart – though they seem separated by a gulf an eternity wide. That eternity is made of nothing…so visits are eminently possible. Jimmy could have jumped the divide and found his mother, both within and without his own body. I could have helped him. But I was two years old then, and had problems of my own. I had no degree, and my credibility was already being challenged by my know-everything-better big brothers! But I was already having dreams – mostly in my case about trains – and had many years to live before I knew myself how to parse them.

It’s not that I’m specially invested in Jimmy Dean, whom I never met; or even in young rebels in particular. It’s that dreams are a colorful rich lode of well-knit-up sweaters to be unpicked (to mix metaphors here); not with difficulty or gnarled brow, but with one simple tool – an objective leap into being utterly subjective. Thus the experience rolls, in the state of grace of clear intention; and unravels itself as it goes. – Leaving space for life.

I like the color, I like the tool, I like the deftness of employ which takes dark mystery and delivers out of it coherence, clarity, and visceral understanding.

But he had to crash his Porsche instead, back there in the 50’s, when women wore girdles and Wonderbread was considered delicious and sufficient, and sex was considered horribly unspeakable even though people did lots of it and especially, it seems, in Hollywood; and a rebel could find plenty to be against but not much to be for; and Rock ‘n’ Roll, with whatever temporary wild freedoms it might elicit, was only just about to be born. Could it be that, then, nobody had discovered such simple tools as I describe?