Saturday, October 2, 2010


The Pennines are considered the backbone of England, and if we could take that analogy further, I live in the cervical area of this spine. A wild moorland, shaped, as much of our landscape is, by human activity over thousands of years. The most recent being lead-mining, intensively from the mid 1700s, but also from the Roman times. Regardless of such industry, today the moors are bleakly beautiful. A tapestry of rich browns and fading purple heather. Grikes and sykes slice into its fabric mantle, creating its patchwork design. On closer inspection, damp areas of sedge and cotton grass, low hideaways for birds such as Lapwing, Curlew Grouse and Pheasant. And the wind, always the wind, the voice of this hinterland. A spectacular sound sculpture, playing and often raging across the sweep of the land. Walking with the wind as a constant companion here is non negotiable. I for one, welcome her company, she speaks the language and describes the landscape on her terms. But what is this language, this dialect of sensations? When I am walking here, I find my feelings and emotions cannot be fairly expressed by language, to try and capture the "essence" if you will, is forever elusive. The Pennine wind needs no such vocabulary, her adjectives and vowel sounds are not easily interpreted, but if you've ever stood on Stainmoor, with her physical sound berating into your face on a late Autumn day, you will be in no doubt as to her meaning!    
My walking is my meditation. The rhythm dictated by the beating heart of the land, its inhabitants and the weather. Shamanically, I am walking between the worlds, whilst my body negotiates the hills and stones, inclines and summits, I am also in a curious other-space, a space of crystal clear awareness where life force shimmers in every crevice. The conversation now, is an interplay of wind, rain sunlight and mist, weaving the physical and the "other-space" together, no seam visible. Gifts of stones, feathers, empty birds eggs are as jewels and harness the sacred energy of the spirit of place.
I often wonder if I walk to think, or to avoid thinking. In escaping the logical method of thinking, we can think "through" using our third eye, our inner ear, our outer space!
I return, lady wind at my back, leaning against her very physical reality. At home, I empty my treasure onto the kitchen table, a beautiful scrap of fluorite,detritus from the lead mining, a feather, probably from a curlew, a piece of flint, not a naturally occurring rock in these parts, so a trace of my ancestors almost missed were it not for the walk between the worlds. Sacred objects with stories and power, connections from this realm of existence to the ones that interpenetrate our denser reality.
As William Blake said,
 " To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower,
 hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour."
Outside the clouds are glowering, and although its barely 2pm, it has all the aspects of dusk. Spits of rain spatter the window, and an odd golden luminesence hangs in the air. Back fully in this body, this house, I look out as if at a painting, an objective view, something outside of myself, but when I'm walking I am that painting, I am the weaver, I am the web.

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