In her late sixties now, kneeling before the Iron box glass-fronted, soot stained, she opens the door, She faces the remnants of an old fire’s ashes left by he, who the night before, wove the magic of metal on metal striking the spark to open the flames, but he is not present now, on a cold afternoon when she and the night-black cat desire the comfort and warmth of the dancing flames. So, on her knees, she cleans the glass, the cloth taking the soot to itself and leaving the way clear to see the fire’s glory. Rolling up lengths of newspaper, and wringing them like wet rags, the deeds and misdemeanors of days past squashed and rumpled, are placed carefully on the ash-bed, a bit of thin kindling added, and cotton ball teased and pulled apart complete the preparations, awaiting only the striking of metal to metal. Spark, spark, sparksparkspark and the kindling catches, now she feeds the slightly larger bits of wood, and last of all the fire logs, and the door is closed, secured as flames dance. Time to give thanks for the gift of fire, and begin the vigil so the flames do not splutter, glow brightly, die – for this is her true job, to maintain the fire for the day to take off the chill, to gladden the heart, to challenge the cold of winter, until the night comes and in time the fire is allowed to fall away into glowing embers and at finally to grey ash for the night. Until, the morrow, when fire is once more coaxed to life in the iron box, glass-fronted, soot stained.
In the past few weeks there have been many things to think about and so I’ve not been doing as much writing. It’s been a matter of consciously processing ideas and experiences, coming to terms with new ideas and ways of being, different ways of perceiving events and incidences/co-incidences that have been presented to me recently.
Some of them I have tried to write about, realising only after agonising for what seems like hours, but in truth is only moments, that it is not time to articulate for myself and communicate them for others.
I find this immensely frustrating. Often infuriating, but I have to trust the process of revelation and its inherent timing.
There is one thing I can share, and will keep sharing now and then . . . I have a new mediation focus: The elements. This discipline came to me as I was sitting looking at my altar in an unfocused way a little over a week ago. I noticed that I had been gathering bowls that represented the elements, collecting them not really consciously. Some I’ve had for many years, but most have come to me in the last year. It seemed no accident; such things seldom are for me. I knew as the recently acquired ones began arriving they represented elements, but had no idea how I’d use them, beyond how they looked and resonated with me visually.
When I discovered there was one bowl for six days of the week, I had to delve deeply to discover for me what was the missing element, what in the early days phlogiston was to those trying to understand the processes of life and nature. At last I realised that what holds the world together for me, though I understand much of the science, is Mystery. At that point I immediately picked up the Iona bowl off of my altar and knew this was the missing element, the one that holds the whole cycle together. So obvious it was hidden in plain sight before me.
I dowsed to choose the day for the meditation both morning and evening.
Sunday: Mystery, a bowl thrown, fired and glazed on Iona, a place of mystery for me.
Monday: Fire, I picked this one up last year at the village Folk Festival.
Tuesday: Metal, from a charity shop for a few quid, and its song when thumped is wonderful.
Wednesday: Wood, I got this last winter, its Yew my favourite turned wood.
Thursday: Air, this one came the same day as Fire.
Friday: Earth, this one is very heavy, rough and substantial.
Saturday: Water, the most recent addition and to me a perfect representation.
So, I began the meditation cycle last week and recorded the uses or significance of the elements. The lists are quite long. Things taken for granted every day, year after year suddenly have links and connections of amazing complexity. Whilst an individual element may be the substance to an item, it is only by employing products of others that enables humans to craft the various items. All things are linked.
I have not gotten any further than this rough appreciation of what we do, how we use, what the purpose is of each item from these elements. It is how the elements presented themselves to me. Without fail as soon as I sat with the bowl images and words poured into my awareness, always in pairs, some with an obvious association, others paradoxical and challenging. I never pushed this or sit down to think: Okay, so what do we use you for? I simply settled with as empty a mind as I could manage, not easy as my mind is always chattering away, busy.
I will share the contents of these lists as I ponder them in the weeks ahead. Having a list as a prompt in no way will diminish for me the profound wonder of looking closely at the products and natures of the elements that for me make up the world, for I cannot see atoms. And I still marvel that as closely as I may hold the bowl there is always an atom unimaginably thin, a membrane separating us. And it is the same with holding one’s beloved and anything or one else. Also I know that the elements’atoms are always in motion, dancing, shifting and darting about within the bowls, and in us. To me this knowledge just adds to my appreciation for everything around me, and makes the knowing that arises from my meditations far richer.
Doing this even this little while, and not going deeply into structure from an energetic perspective has made me see everything with fresh eyes. Another aspect of my reawakening, my re-emergence, my ongoing journey of anamnesis.