Part I: What the River Dart, the Woods and the Caravan have taught me

 

500 metres down stream

I remember adults in big coats, saying in kind tones from far above, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ I never really knew, all I wanted to do was learn, to go to school, to big school, to university…but what I felt sure in my bones was that I was going to be someone great. I held onto illusions easily formed in the afterglow of winning the sack race, or getting first prize in the Women’s Institute Painting Competition, or always being the one to do the solo for parent events at secondary it even extended into Uni as I felt the warm glow of achieving the highest mark of my year group for my final year thesis. I somehow believed I would naturally succeed. I always had, so why would it be any different?

Even in my early twenties, travelling the world, I expected a glorious, fantastic future. In Hollywood, USA, I met an English man who took me around in his convertible. We went to see all the famous peoples’ houses on the hill underneath the big H O L L Y W O O D sign. None of them were quite what I was looking for. I wanted more, and I wasn’t joking.

And so at the age of 42 I’m in a caravan. There is no shower, no toilet. I wash in the river that is five metres away. There is no drinking water supply; we carry the water through three muddy fields. There is no road; we wheel-barrow our food in from internet shopping. Click Fresh! Ohh and there is no electricity apart from a little solar panel that lights up LED bulbs at night, that we don’t use much. White cold light. Candle light is so much warmer. There is a log fire made out of an old gas cylinder. There is wood. Plenty of.

And how do I feel?

our living room

I feel like I never want to go back. I said to Fabián recently, ‘I don’t think I ever want to have electricity again. Why would anyone live without candles?’ It is winter time now, we came here in summer. The long summer days were glorious, we would eat our dinner by the slate table Fabián set up on the beach by the river, watching the water flow by, watching birds – kingfishers my favourite – swooping up and down the river highway. We saw an otter once when we were on our cheese course. But now the nights come in around four thirty. Four thirty in the night. We light the candles. We cook. We eat together. We talk. We relax. We go to bed, tired. Often it is 7.30 in the night. Sometimes we make ourselves stay up till 9pm. Hibernation.

please notice my candle management…

Living in nature one starts to come back to nature – the Nature of the earth, our own Nature, the Nature of living.

And I feel my body is different. It is stronger, more robust. People say, ‘You still living down there?’
‘Yup.’
‘Isn’t it cold?’
‘You get used to it,’ I say, ‘We’re still ‘swimming’ in the river.’

My Clean Shining Prince

By swimming I mean: one of us says by the log fire in the caravan, ‘I need to wash,’ with a slight groan, slight apprehension, and slight excitement. The other one says, ‘Really?’ with admiration and slight fear of maybe having to do the same. ‘Yes,’ confirmation. No going back. Man/Woman or mouse? Then in the caravan, a psychological hurdle: having to take clothes off like you mean it. Putting on the warmest coat and taking towel. Deciding whether to use crocks (quicker to get back to warm feet in caravan) or wellingtons (a bit of complicated balancing to dry feet on beach but feet warmed earlier). ‘I’m going with the crocks.’ The other looking out through the window, or putting on a coat to watch from the safety of the land. Then the walk down the five metre path: a walk to the gallows. A bramble scratches a leg. A branch swipes for the face. Putting towel down and feeling the night air on my birthday suit. It is glorious. It is a bit scary. It is romantic, especially at night under the stars. It is very close to being very cold. Standing there on the beach, breathing in, trying to enjoy such freedom as the mind shouts, pleads, gets angry, ‘THIS IS STUPID, YOU ARE GOING TO HURT YOURSELF, YOU WILL GET SICK, THIS IS STUPID, STOP, STOP, STOP’. Not listening. Taking off clothes fast before I change your mind. Wading in, feeling the cold. It’s not so bad. It’s not so bad. Washing privates. Washing under the arms and then…the plunge. A shiver of delight and pain down the back. It’s actually OK. ‘GET OUT. GET OUT! GET OUT!!! THIS IS DANGEROUS.’ It’s actually OK. I could swim a bit. Two strokes. Cold. Cold. Getting colder. Is this too much? Exhilaration of tittering on the edge of a physical limit. I get out. As I walk out onto the beach – even when there is rain or hale – I think, ‘I could have stayed in longer.’ Suddenly the world is warm. My body is fine in this temperature. Except my feet. I waltz back to the caravan. ‘Not a biggie,’ I say, again. Surprised. Feeling wonderful. Feeling healthy. Feeling my body buzzing alive. ‘I’m so glad we have to do this every day.’

From this…to the water

Click here for video of pure bravery: from the warmth of the caravan…

Apparently, and I think it is true, the cold dilates the veins in the body – probably in shock – to stop hypothermia. Going in everyday the veins get used to being a little more stretched (like a muscle) until they are naturally wider and wider. And I have to say, proudly, that now in December, living in an un-insulated tin caravan, I have not felt the cold. I mean, I feel my body reacting to the cold – I am not in a Tshirt running around in the snow – but the cold doesn’t affect me. And if you had ever seen me come back to England when I had been living decades in the Mediterranean, you will notice a huge difference. From squirming wimp to healthy adaption.

And then there is the immune system. Apparently cold water really helps to crank it up. Perhaps that is the buzzing feeling of wellness after the ‘swim’? Now research is suggesting that depression is connected not to synapsing in the brain but to immune system malfunction. Like when you get the flu and feel awfully sorry for yourself. When the immune system is down it affects our mood. The idea is that immune system was turned on for a good reason and somehow failed to turn off again, so that it is constantly firing, and tiring, and getting depressed. I think, based on the river bathing experience and walking through the fears of it, that cold water helps it reset.

But cold water bathing is not the only thing that is making me love living in the caravan. There are lots of health brilliances.

Apparently, the gut has more neurons than the brain. I read that somewhere. I also heard this week that the first amoeba in what is to become a human, forms into the intestine. It is the first thing created in us when we are a group of cells. The brain is in fact a growth out of the gut – which is why they are so connected.

Islets of Hope a Naturally Sculputed Stone presented by Fabian Marcovich

According to my friend Hayley who is doing a course in herbal remedies and essences, people who live in the city have 60% less gut flora. The city life is too sterile. Not necessarily too clean, but too sterile. Meanwhile, here in caravan river tree land, we are not sterile. At all. For six months we have not used soap or shampoo. We have used clothes soap. We have washed our clothes in the river (and when it piled up in Paul Hussell’s house, bless his cotton socks). At first it was hard for me to live with this perceived level of ‘grime’. I was so used to washing my hands often, with soap and clear water. Let me remind you there is no toilet. Au naturel. Going to the toilet means finding a place. Often mean scratching your legs on spiky vegetable. Ohh and just going down to the beach for dinner means scratches, or a quick stab of pain of a nettle, or the fire in winter means a quick burn on the ends of a couple of fingers. And the cold water of the river washing is quite a lot of sensation. It makes the immune system wake up. I’m sure it does. In an amongst all this mud, country dirt, and nature’s sharper edges nothing happens. Nothing gets sceptic, nothing turns into anything more than a scratch. Stones fall on your toes. It hurts for a bit. It gets better. Head itches, scratch, stops itching. The intense cold of the river gives inner heat. Lack of running water makes you appreciate how much we actually have. Mosquito bites don’t bother too much after a while. Meanwhile over time, gradually, I feel more and more healthy, not the opposite.

Dreaming up a Hussell Song

While we sit in cars and go to sterile offices and eat food from supermarkets that have been thoroughly cleaned (to reduce as much as we can the effects of modern agricultural chemicals) and we’ve been somewhere public, ‘NOW WASH YOUR HANDS’ with the ‘THIS GEL KILLS 99% OF GERMS’ and gone home and had a shower within clean ceramic tiles – we’ve won the war on germs. But in winning, it seems to me, we’ve lost. Our immune systems have shut down. It is like the famous poem ‘The Orange Grove’ we had to learn it for GCSE Literature, where the prince in his refinery (who is obviously perfectly spotlessly clean) is sat on silk sheets reading an exquisite book. He hears the castle wall door not being knocked upon, but banged on. The brutes, the heathens, the men with clubs are here, ready to fight. The prince has forgotten to fight. We are left to guess who wins.

Fabi working on a sculpture

 

Coming soon like an old fashioned cinema and a 50p cornetto – Part II: What the River Dart, the woods and the caravan have taught me.

 

This is all you need to know (about yourself)

Just when I am not expecting anything, in those moments where distracted by routine into a nothing space in my head, I let go of my thoughts and something happens, something gets in. Normally my thoughts run wildly fast, creating a convenient barrier between me and the world, like an electron in an atom (some travel up to 90% of the speed of light) that in empty space creates rock hard material. My thoughts are like a smoke screen that stops the movement of vision from ‘in’ to ‘out’ and ‘out’ to ‘in’.

In 2014 there was a moment when my brain stopped making thoughts.

They say that when you enter the temple, the divine is present and sometimes it is not. It was not the first time that I cycled down the narrow path between the white washed Greek buildings to my little home. It was not the first time that I flew absentmindedly over the crazy paving cracks painted white, it was not the first time I ever felt lost…it was not the first time I was unconsciously in a zen state…but it was the first time that I felt an atomic bomb of an idea go off: we are killing ourselves from the inside out.

Back then I was in art school and we were reading ‘Odyseus’ by Homer. I read about Telemachus, his son, walking down the beach trying to decide what to do with his life. There was a choice: face the huge leap into the dark void of the unknown, face the start of his own epic hero journey even though his knees wanted to buckle under the weight of the fear of leaving all that is known, loved, comfortable, to enter into almost certain suffering, disorientation, constant unknown challenge (that he may not overcome) or stay home with Mom. In his state he calls out to Athena. Athena is the goddess of War, of Courage, of Wisdom. Bejesus he needed it.

Athena

Days later I am walking along a similar beach only thousands of years later, mulling over it. The words ‘God’ or ‘Gods’ these days create so much pre-judgemental tension that they are more like arms of mass destruction – and not without cause. Personally I was brought up in the Catholic system, and though I managed to ‘get out’ by the age of fifteen realising that (for myself) this was not a valid path, this was not an authentic path, and that even the parish priest didn’t seem to be able to bridge any of the dogma with actual life (either outside in the material world or inside in the ‘spiritual’/energetic/psychic world) it took me decades to break through my anger, through the illusion of being deceived, through my hatred. I wasn’t able to walk into a church without feeling alarm bells going off and wanting to graffiti the angst in my heart all over the stain glass windows, let alone begin to believe, or think, of ‘God’. Fuck that.

It took walking the ‘Camino de Santiago’ to get me into a little chapel. They were so numerous, so many little shrines dotted along the path that it was irritating. They were getting in the way of my walk within myself. So after about three weeks of waking up, breakfasting, walking, lunching, walking, dining, sleeping, waking up, walking etc I felt the need to feel the experience of going into a church after more than a two decades of rejection, spite and repulsion. To say the least.

My heart felt like it was going to burst through my chest. My vision went white around the edges. I was immersed in an inner soundtrack of a war film. I left.

Next chapel the same but less.

A couple of days later I tried again.

I mean I could go through all of the chapels but needless to say behavioural-cognitive theory does have its place. After I while I started to break down my automatic response systems.

I stood eventually in a chapel and was able – in relative stillness of mind – to realise that nothing is happening. I am not being forced to do anything. I am not being forced to believe anything. This is just a building, that is, actually, rather pleasant. Good acoustics. I tried out a Beatles song.

But many people have not broken through the word God. Or Gods. I’ve felt that atomic bomb go off in my face too many times.

So much so that when I wrote a book about all this I felt it wise to change the strap line from, ‘On Intimacy: Bringing back the Gods’ to ‘On Intimacy: A Forgotten Art’. I prefer the first, it sums up better for me what I was trying to achieve, but there again I am not still angry at the word God, and most of the people I know are.

I mean we can call it ‘Higher presence’, or ‘Higher self’, or ‘the One’ or ‘Oneness’ or ‘That which is more than us’. Your choice whether to use capitals. But over the years of sitting course after course of Vipassana meditation, of exploring the world through forty-two countries, living in seven, of being a serial consumer of workshop courses, of studying a masters of Jungian Psychology and Psychoanalysis, of having a string of partners all of whom I found to be loving and deep and glad to move away from once we had learnt what we needed from each other, I cannot in my heart of hearts say that there is not something more than ‘I’; I cannot say there isn’t anything more than my own sense of self, of who I am.

Telemachus taught me about the gods. About Greek gods at least. I am mortal, completely mortal, and though I have not died yet and find it hard to even imagine myself not being healthy, I know – though can’t really accept – that I will sooner or later clock it. But there is something in me that is Eternal. I know it. Emotions for one.

Presumably (because I wasn’t there) the Troglodytes felt happiness. Presumably the Chinese people inventing ink felt happiness once it worked. Presumably the Ancient Greeks felt happiness because from my modern perspective I have read about it. Happiness is Eternal. As is Joy, Truth, Peace, Beauty, Desire and all those archetypal states. I mean you only need to go to Wikipedia and scan and scan and scan down to see how many Greek Gods there are, each representing something Eternal. And there is Death and War and Madness too that are eternal. Consciousness holds everything.

In a Jungian analysis there was a patient who had a dream. It went like this. There is a flock of birds. They are all flying in the sky. He sees a bird being birthed in the sky, in the stream of their flow. He sees dead birds drop leaving their collective flight. Then he sees that through the birds there is a continual stream of light. Each bird is like an electron in a stream of light. Each bird is needed to let the light pass through it and onwards. When the bird dies, another one takes its place. Nothing is wasted. We are all needed.

Happiness can flow within any person, between any people. We have all experienced this Eternal feeling. Maybe we all feel it differently. Maybe we distort it in our own individual warped-upness, but happiness is Eternal.

Athena, the goddess of war and courage and wisdom visits Telemachus as he walks along the Greek island beach. He was in fear. He was bewildered. He didn’t know what to do. Then he called on Her, within himself, he called on courage, and opening to her, surrendering to Her, he began to feel it (Her) flow through his veins. He was full of courage. He set off. He went.

 

So spoke the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, and departed, flying upward as a bird; and in his heart she put strength and courage.

THE ODYSSEY – BOOK 1.

 

Eternity is not this great thing. Perhaps a god is simply that which is eternal.

And cycling down that white washed street in an emotional crisis in the middle of an economic crisis it hit me, like Athena hit Telemachus, that we are killing our gods. We are killing what is eternal within us. Killing? Well, no not really: it is impossible to kill the Eternal, but we are disconnecting, not allowing it flow, we are not allowing it pass. Do not pass go, go straight to jail. We are not allowing time to let in the eternal.

I thought of my friends, of the Greeks, of the people working in shops, all with drawn faces. All working through the terror of not being able to survive. People didn’t have enough to eat. There were collections for the most vulnerable kids in the primary school to be able to give them at least one meal a day. People had cars but couldn’t get them out of the garage, petrol was too much of a stretch. People were working double, being paid half. People were feeding on worry.

Terror, is also Eternal. So is Death and War and Madness each with their own Greek God. We do not harness them either as a drive, but let them immobilise us. On that bike home I felt like we are killing all the creativity within us, the courage to live, and letting fear and terror destroy us rather than make us. In this world climate it feels that, if we actually manage to feel authentic emotions, if we manage to allow an e-motion to move us, it is in destruction, in fear, leading us down the garden path to become more haggard, less nourished, to block any ability to thrive. Perhaps it is the age old, eternal battle of the light and the dark. And we are losing.

By Athena Ellis (I know it’s sideways, I like it like that.)

I think if we knew how to, we would all naturally choose to fight for the Light. Or rather would like to relax into love. I personally would like to shed fear. I would like to connect with others and create something between us that is more than each one of us. I want to believe in creativity rather than buying in to short term solutions.

So over the last two years I wrote and published a book called, ‘On Intimacy: A Forgotten Art’ because maybe, just maybe, if we were to find deeper ways to nourish ourselves rather than trying to buy and sell ourselves, if we were able to find meaningful peace within ourselves and with others, perhaps we will change the world as we bring back the smile of the ‘gods’. Perhaps we will allow more light to stream through ourselves and our societies? Perhaps we will thrive…

And as I wrote the book, the book wrote me. As I delved into the fields of what intimacy may mean, I realised that the adage, ‘The Truth lies in the simple for it is where most overlook’ is absolutely true. It took me 450 pages to realise a very easy thing that changes worlds within; that if we were all to accept this truth – but it’s hard because it’s so simple – we could possibly god-damn-it can change the entire blasted world for the better, for our better, for the better of everyone and everything.

But what is this truth? I hear you ask. It is so simple that is as difficult to accept as the knowledge that one day we will die, and it is this: YOU are good enough as you are.

It’s all we need to know. That’s it.

You are good enough.

Child’s play.

And child’s play is so easy. It is just so darned hard to get to. To allow. To enter up into.

I mean you can buy the book, read the journey of philosophy and depth psychology, of polyamory, of dance and it could nudge you in the right direction inside, (three friends have said that they literally couldn’t put it down, it was life changing) but essentially this is what it says: you are good enough.

Because you are.

I don’t know how to write it any simpler, any more accessible-ly.

You are.

Though I would love you to, you don’t need to read the book. Deep down you already know.

It’s our responsibility to bring back the Gods. Just remember.

www.on-intimacy.com

SUBSCRIBE AND REMIND YOURSELF REGULARLY – YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW:

 

 

 

Humans can bear so little of the Truth

‘Be, be who you are, sing it out!’ tweeted the little bird, warbling its sweet song, ‘For we are all nearly dead.’

That is what caught my attention.

‘ Enjoy,’ it sang on, ‘of life, of being alive, of enjoying life as it comes.’

It comes along, this that I wasn’t expecting, couldn’t have imagine. It came along and I had to learn to accept. That was the rub. Though I could try not to, could grumble, could crumble into tears, could shout loudly for it to go away, could even fall to the hard ground, cutting my knees and plead, plead to the skies. But no – this, this thing called life will not go away.

‘But I have imagined it so differently,’ I moan to the little bird, shitting from above on high. I imagined myself so long ago into this life. It was not this and it was controlled, easy. It was after the ‘and they lived happily ever after’, that was where I was heading to. I am the story, but I yearn for after the end.

‘But how can you be so naïve you humans?’ asked my feathered friend, ‘How can you be so blind to the Truth?’

The Truth of What?

‘Of happening, of arising, of passing away? Humankind can bear so little…’

I imagine a life, an age, a year, a season, a month, a week, a day, a second, a billionth of a second, 13 billionths of a second, an exploding universe, an imploding star.

‘Life is what Life is!’ tweeted the little bird, ‘Not what you imagine it to be,’ and then flew away.

Letting go

Shoulder to shoulder
in the field of straw
in the middle of the rain
I burn the wrist band
– our funny little symbol
that you laughed I should
carry around as
a romantic memory
of our first ever argument:
each of us hovering
on opposite sides
of different needs
as loud flashing lights
of an electrifying concert
blur our vision.

I remember wanting to control;
I remember feeling controlled.
I remember back now and laugh
– how absurd it all seems
to want to control love,
how it would have turned out
so much easier
if I had only been
strong enough
to trust.

And yet here I am
ME holding this little wrist band
ME lighting it
in an idea I have had.

You watch me
as I hold ceremony
and then scream
– not hysterical
more a muffled shock –
as the toxic band
spits onto my finger
and sticks as it burns.

‘I’ll take over…’
you say gently
and through the pain
I agree
and realise
this is not just me
and my own toxicity
but us, and you and yours
and this growing thing
between us
that we want
to be healthy and strong.

When the toxic band
gets too small
for fingers and fire
you drop it to the grass
where in the middle of the
wind and rain
I worry it will not all burn
and we will be doomed forever

and yet,
despite the downpour,
it burns on
and on
and on…

We stand amazed,
two little flames now
on each side
burning through
what is no longer needed,
uncontrolled
unaided
unperturbed
until nothing is left –
at all…

gone.

And I realise
in that deep stillness
of the aftermath
I could have dropped it all
a long time ago
without anything
getting in the way
like arguments
and burnt fingers
or residual pain.

Last night with you:

Eventually we got the fire warm
and in the blaze
you lay back
on the most comfortable bench
in the caravan
as if it were a billowing magical divan
and turned on your ears.
I felt you do so
and it gave me courage
– cor –
it gave me heart
– cor –
isn’t that also god?
to carry on
and describe my scenes to you
sweet hearted godlike you
with eyes that hold currents
that want to swim out in your love to me
– if only I will let you –
my barbaric life guard still on day duty
as the last flickers of the outside flame
sink beneath us
and yet even he,
trained to protect,
dropped his guard
and let me jump in
– dive even –
into the depths of me
and bring out for you
a few of the diamonds I keep down there
– treasuring –
for you to see
and even, if this flowing
from fathoms below
I can paint in words well enough
to feel
to be moved by
to ride with me on e-motions.
‘Are you still listening?’
I ask, landing for a pit-stop.
Sometimes your eyes are closed
as if dozing
yet you nod
‘Yes,’ soft warms tones by the hearth
‘it’s fascinating,’
and I believe him
and marvel
wondering where he is taking this,
what he does when this that is mine
becomes his.

Out of infinite possibilities

Don’t you think
it is amazing
that there is a whole entire world
full of everything you can imagine
and more than you can’t

waterfalls, cages for gas cylinders in late night petrol stations, raves with hundreds and thousands of hands moving in the light spectrumed air, sun shining through dense tropical leaves seen by no human, murky brown rivers, cake shops with old ladies who don’t take off their hats, early morning bakery workers covered in a fine white dust, casinos full of one-armed bandit addicts, school buses full of young worlds opening, thousands of couples right now saying ‘I do’ in churches and mosques and temples and beaches, a hospital ward and a person racked with sobs holding onto a still warm dead hand, a new girlfriend daring a new recipe off the internet, the scream of a baby girl coming into the world, a difficult decision between two almost identical products, millions of phones bleeping right now across the globe,

and you and me here

right here, breathing into the same space
with no-one else around
no-one

you
me
and these thin walls
flickering out of
candle shadows

you
me
in this caravan
in a forgotten field
listening to the current
chorusing down a riverbed.

just you and me
while the rest of the world moves on

you and me and the soft silence that furs the air
then a crinkle of the chocolate gluten free cake
its wrapping crunching as your knife searches
for a not so small a slither to slice
and your voice saying
‘How I’d like a whisky now!’
and me saying reminescently
‘It’s because the cake is so sweet,’
and you look at me and repeat,
‘Como me gustaria un whisky.’

you and me
here in this laboratory of two
with only this one time
and this one place.

don’t you think that’s magical?
don’t you think that’s a miracle?

Buy the Original

 

With all the original juicy bits, this Original version with the Purple Cover will titilate your mind, touch your heart and move your body. Not a book to be told what to do, but a book to allow to settle in like dew on morning grass. Allow yourself to reach your own conclusions, your own ideas, allow yourself to slip away into who you really are.

Shiva’s Lightsaber Blog

Fabi preparing a delicious lunch in not so delicious ambiance

After crafting word weaving for 10 years, do you want a taste of some of the favourite posts on Shiva’s Lightsaber blog?

Here’s a whole range of musings wondering through the fascinating forests of depth psychology, symbology, myths and what was goes on in our lives sometimes without us even noticing.

Get a bash at Honeymoon: Ready for any Eventuality a blog written in the first days of a new relationship where nothing could have been worse, that is on the outside and yet while lying on a slightly damp, slightly smelly bed as rainwater flows down the inside walls (an ‘attractive water feature’), through bugs and mosquitos and toilets that don’t work, living month to month on the little that we had, we realised that it could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be that we were together for glamour, fame or fortune – but because we wanted to be. Else there was no way we’d ever have stuck it out!

Another faves are: Being Oneself in a Relationship, Arising and Passing Away , Tricking the Mind out of the Negative and When he drives you Mad: Narcissitic Personality Disorder.

If you want to be in the know with new blogs, use the sign up box on the right hand side of the blog’s screen.

 

Shiva’s Lightsaber Blog

 

 

 

Shiva’s Lightsaber celebrates 10 years of being in existence! Words weaving in and out of deep themes, light themes, silly themes. Myths, depth psychology, and just what has been happening to me in my life.

As the blog page’s blurb says: In the interplay of shadows and light it´s not what you look at, but what you see.

As for the name Shiva – one of the Supreme Beings of Hinduism the creator and destroyer of all things – uses his sharp sword to cut through the crap and penetrate into what is real. I like the merge with the Luke Skywalker and his lightsaber: I think it brings the idea of the sword of reality (occidentally) home. “Saber” in Spanish is ‘to know’ and also ‘to taste’ or ‘to savour’. A ‘sabio’ is a wise one who savours the Truth.

Light needs dark matter to discover itself by contrasting in the empty mirror.