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Welcome to my blog!

Here's where I'll share my ruminations. Sometimes, they'll be in poem-form, which is my preferred way of thinking and expressing my thoughts... But sometimes, here, I'll actually talk like "normal" people... Relatively normal, anyway. ;)

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Lessons Learned From Injury (3)

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (1)

(3) Gratitude

- By Ruth calder Murphy -

 

It felt so big,

when it was taken

- even temporarily taken -

so big,

that it must surely leave a trench

the size of Mariana,

to be filled with oceans of saline,

one tear at a time…

 

It felt so big

- so much a part of me,

that I would be diminished irreparably

by its absence...

 

Yet, all unexpectedly,

the trench is being

- daily -

filled

with gratitude for what is left,

for what is in me still to do

- for all I have and am

and for the dawning knowledge

that even when I can’t,

I can,

in ways I didn’t realise before.

 

It felt so big and crashing-loud,

like the slamming of a door

before the bolts are shut,

but I think it was the stamping of my pride,

the recalcitrant part

of my ego-heart,

that shouted out,

held fast to think awhile alone,

while the rest of me

(I realised eventually)

was free to leave

and do, and be…

 

So,

now I see,

through inconvenience and injury,

the blessings saturating me on every side -

and filling petulant,

vacated space

with unexpected grace.



 Image: Kate on the Rooftop by Ruth Calder Murphy

 

Lessons Learned From Injury (2)

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The second of my "Lessons Learned From Injury" is Patience...


(2) Patience

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


Learning to wait

 - learning to fill the space

between “then” and “there”

blossom, and bear

previously unimagined fruits;

to turn the injury

to opportunity -

not stare at dashed hope

and mourn for what might have been,

but grow a different seed in the tired ground

and harvest unexpected crops

and richer soil

from doing things differently

for a little while.

Patience, I’ve learned,

is not just sitting still

until the wait is done;

it’s seeing opportunity

where frustration

almost won.




Image: "Under the Trees" By Ruth Calder Murphy

Lessons Learned From Injury - 1

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Lessons learned from injury.


(1) Stillness

 - By Ruth Calder Murphy -

 

Forced to sit in stillness,

listening to the beating of my heart,

frustration flowing away

on the tide of reality,

I learn the lessons that stillness brings -

equal and opposite

to the freedom of wings

and flight -

the freedom of grounding

and growing,

of healing and second sight…

Sitting in stillness,

the brownian motion world

a space or two removed,

away from the rigours of the race -

and my breath slowed to sleeping pace -

I learn again the lesson of sitting still

- against the natural inclination of my restless will -

of how to breathe more deeply,

allowing space to stretch and grow,

in the places only visible

from the pause of Calm and Slow…

 



Image: "Be Still" By Ruth Calder Murphy (2012)

Injury

Posted on October 5, 2014 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Wow! Well, I did say that I was pretty bad at blogging regularly and here's the proof! My first blog post in what? Six months?


So, before I go on, I'll say that if you want regular updates, the BEST place to go is my Facebook page - Paradoxologies or even my other Facebook page - Ruth Calder Murphy - Arciemme .


Having got that out of the way, here's an actual, bona fide blog post. Champagne, anyone?


Anyone who knows me, or reads a lot of my poetry, knows that I'm a runner. Running is physical, of course, but it's far more than that to me. I run because I struggle with depression and running is by far the best medication I've ever found - better than other forms of exercise, even.


 

My depression is exacerbated by the lack of sunlight in the dark half of the year. Many of my poems that celebrate the Autumn and Winter are a form of catharsis for me - a way for me to overcome my natural antipathy to them.


 

The fact is, I DO love Autumn and Winter - I love all seasons. But my health suffers during the darker months and for many years, I just felt despair when I thought of the encroaching darkness.


 

Running helps.


 

On the Autumn Equinox, I ran a half marathon. An injury had been building for a while, but I felt I needed to do the race. (Partly for my psychological well being. It's a long story...)


 

I haven't been able to run since then, as my injury is peroneal tendonitis and will only heal if I rest from running completely, until it's better.


 

This is terrible timing - and I am NOT a good patient! I want to run... But I know that I need to rest (my body's tired from over-training) and I know that I have lessons to learn in this, too.


 

I'm learning them... I'll probably write poems about them, too, at some point...



 

Injury

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


 

Just in time for the darker days

 

and the longer nights,

 

just in time for the Seasons to turn about

 

and brew in me

 

a restless longing for a quick way out

 

- a way to connect with Earth,

 

run with the breeze,

 

dance with the tumbling,

 

gold-edged leaves -

 

just as unease settles in my belly

 

and my mind turns to my body

 

for miracles of movement

 

to help it through

 

- to help it do the things it has to do

 

and be all it needs to be

 

to carry me safe through Winter’s night,

 

forward to the waiting arms of Spring -

 

Just now, as the Equinox opens out its scales

 

and hangs Everything in the balance

 

before folding again towards the dark,

 

my ligaments and tendons,

 

joints - and all - protest

 

and call me to a sudden break.

 

Don’t you know,

 

my bumbling, ill-timed body,

 

what’s at stake?

 

All through Summer, you gave your best

 

and now, I need you - more than then -

 

to give your best again...

 

So,

 

a sigh,

 

a deep inhale...

 

Go; rest and heal.

 

My mind will have to wait

 

and that Way Out

 

will have to enter late.

 

I want to run,

 

but first I have to sit -

 

and learn the lessons

 

that will come of it.

 

***********

 

Image: "Kate On the Rooftop" By Ruth Calder Murphy - illustration for The Everlasting Monday - a novel by Ruth Calder Murphy with Mathew Taylor. The novel is available on Amazon and through www.arciemme.com




The Easter Project

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The Easter Project


This is The Easter Project movie, created a couple of years ago now, for Holy Week services at a local church, here in Walthamstow, London... My friend, Matt Perry, suggested in the January of that year that we do "a project". At the beginning of February, we came up with the idea. I wrote the narrative, painted all the original artwork, composed, performed and recorded the soundtrack, recorded the narrative and Matt put it all together into this movie over the space of five or six weeks. It was incredibly good fun, if rather insane!


Now, Matt and I are working - MUCH more sedately! - on the sequel to this: The Ouroboros Project. The Easter Project formed the basis of our 2012 Art Trail exhibition and The Ouroboros Project will form the basis of this year's installation at the beginning of June.


Meanwhile, Happy Easter to those who celebrate, Happy Ostara to those who celebrate that, and Happy Spring to absolutely everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! A time of rebirth, new birth and regeneration.


Please feel free to share this movie and use it in any Holy Week celebrations you might be holding.


Click the link to see the movie:

The Easter Project



Saturday Summary

Posted on March 15, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, somehow, two weeks slipped by before I managed to catch up with them, so here I am with two weeks' worth of Saturday Summaries!


They've been good, busy weeks - several art commissions, the stall at the International Women's Day event in Walthamstow, a meeting about the E17 Art Trail (which is always an exciting week or two - if you're UK based, take a look!) and Dance of Darkness coming out in both paperback and e-book form.


Of course, it's also Lent, or the run-up to the Spring Equinox and Ostara, or simply the turning towards lighter, longer days depending on what you celebrate - assuming you're in the Northern Hemisphere. So, I've posted a couple of "Lenten Pauses" in this blog. There will be more to come.


Looking a bit further ahead, I'm hoping to be taking stalls in London's Spitalfields and Camden markets, starting in the next few months... Watch this space!



Lenten Pause - The Truth In Ash

Posted on March 9, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

My second Lenten pause is quite an ongoing theme in my mind and heart: The Eternal Circle and how it's echoed in myths and legends, religions and seasons and in my own life, over and over again.


This past week, I wrote, amongst others, two poems that reflect that theme: "The Truth in Ash" and "Fascinated by Thistles".


I find it helpful to think of religious ritual and tradition in terms of metaphor. (Actually, I find it helpful, as evidenced in much of my poetry, to think of almost everything in terms of metaphor...) Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, are no exception. On Ash Wednesday I was wondering about Ash...

 




The Truth in Ash

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


All those Hosannas,

twisted into crosses

and burned…

Hosannas,

rising in palm smoke on the breeze,

an eye-watering liberation

of leaves,

in memory of a man

who carried Divinity on the back of a donkey,

then died on a turning tide

where hosannas began to sound like

“Crucify”...

All those hosannas,

turned to ash

and returned to dust,

in memory of madness

and mortality,

pierced feet and side and head and hands

and a second set of swaddling bands…

By the light of a candle,

bitter herbs and a crown of thorns;

a rumour of resurrection

and angels

and dawn,

but first the gloom of dark despair

must pass -

to discover the hidden truths

in Ash.



Fascinated by thistles

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


My daughter's fascinated by thistles -

their thorns,

their purple

and their downy descent -

their dreams of death

on the cusp of falling to purple again.

She wants to touch them,

thorns and all,

and feel how thistles feel,

all bristles on the surface

and downy potential

in their purple soul,

growing where other things dare not grow,

in the hard places,

between rocks and stones...

My daughter is fascinated by thistles

and delighted by life -

arms full of flowers and thorns and featherdown dreams -

not minding the scratches or even the nightmares

as she presents them, proud,

declaring purple in awed tones

and bringing bright rainbows

from silent stones.


Image from: en.wikipedia.org

Lenten Pause - Music and musings

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Whatever one's outlook - theistic or not, religious or not, spiritual or not - it can be very helpful to pause from time-to-time, and take stock. Of life, of attitudes and perspectives, of habits and assumptions... All sorts of things can help to enhance or expand that pause. Music, poetry, art, silence...


Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing musings, music, poetry and art via this blog, that will tie in with the "Pause" that is Lent. For silence, meanwhile, close your eyes, turn off the volume and breathe...


To begin the series, here's a beautiful piece of music, written and performed (all part, using cunning technology) by my brother, Mark Calder. Click on the link to listen. Enjoy!



https://soundcloud.com/markcaldermusic/my-soul-waits


https://soundcloud.com/markcaldermusic/my-soul-waits" target="_blank">

Image: From Mark Calder

International Women's Day Event

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

This Saturday, 8th March, in Walthamstow, London, I'm going to be sharing a stall at an International Women's Day event, organised by Waltham Forest Women's Network. It's a women and children only event, and looks like being a fantastically fun day. There's even a creche provided!

I'll have some of my mini-canvases, small canvases, books and art cards available to buy, at special discount prices. I'll also be taking commissions... And if you just want to drop by and chat, I'll be delighted to meet you.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


 

"Measuring Up"... Again...

Posted on March 3, 2014 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a poem and shared it here, as a blog post. A couple of days ago, the same poem was published by The Elephant Journal. I thought I'd share it again here, too, with a few thoughts...


A few hours after I wrote this poem, my mother told me that here in the UK, it's being suggested, by the powers that be, that cancer drugs should be issued not on the basis of need, but on the "economic value" of the patient. Of course, in many countries, including the USA, this policy is already in place, in the form of expensive health insurance packages.


Many people draw themselves up in righteous indignation and say that yes, that's right. People's worth should be measured in this way: If you can't pay your way, you should be left behind...


Me? No. Certainly not. For lots of reasons, but this stands out: People's worth is not dependent on how they measure up economically, physically, intellectually... That person who's never worked because she's emotionally sick, or that person who's worked so hard that he's driven himself to breakdown and will now never work again... The person who's intelligent, bright, witty, but physically incapable of lifting her hand to her mouth... Or the person who struggles so much, intellectually, that he'll never speak in recognisable words... Not one of those people is worth less than I am, or less than top scientists, or less than politicians who make these judgements.


Moreover, economic contribution is not a measure of anything, other than, well, economic contribution. Are we really so materially-minded and so shallow that this is the single most important thing? Are my children, who've taught me more and given me more joy in their short lives than anyone else, except perhaps my own parents, REALLY less worthy, until they start earning or "contributing economically"? Of course not. The mistake we make in our so-called civilised societies, is to think that people's worth can be measured in these simplistic ways.


Perhaps we need to stop measuring altogether and concentrate on connecting, loving, BEING. Perhaps, if we do that, our need for expensive cancer drugs will, over time, become so much reduced that there's no need to make "difficult choices" about who gets them, because the stress and aggressiveness and the ignoring of the health of the planet - and therefore of our own species - that's so prevalent at the moment, will be laid aside, in favour of gentleness and respect and we will all be more healthy - in mind, body and spirit.


To read the poem in The Elephant Journal, click on this link and feel free to share it onwards!


Alternatively, continue scrolling...


Measuring Up

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


Don’t measure me with scales and tapes.

I’m not a prize pumpkin that should be reckoned so.

Don’t measure me by height or weight,

discard or accept me, judge me or pity me,

love me or despise me

based on the bodily size of me...

I’d ask you to measure the pleasure my words bring,

or the perspective of my paintings

or the depth of my thought…

but I ought not, for in the dark of night,

when words flee and sight’s irrelevant

and my brain is incapable of anything more than staying afloat

- of staying alive

(And I’m not talking of physical night,

that falls softly and at dawn, slips away,

but the darkness that thunders ‘round my soul,

in plain sight of day...)

What then?

Will I be found wanting when all sense and sanity

have gone away?

Put them away,

your plumb lines and your calipers,

your guages and thermometers,

scales and tintometers…

Close your eyes, if you must

- what they see is only dust,

though stardust, true, and beautiful…

Now, in the silence and the dark,

feel the beating of your heart

and Spirit, running through.

These things alone are true and they should be

the only measurement of you, or me.


 

Image found here:

 http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/27800000/Measuring-tape-random-27860099-445-634.jpg

 


Saturday Summary

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (1)

Some weeks I seem to be juggling so much that blogging not only takes a back seat, but it barely gets a place in the boxes I've packed in the boot! This has been one of those weeks... Or perhaps one of those fortnights. I've lost count... Anyway, I've decided that whatever else I do or do not manage, I'll try to blog a weekly "Saturday Summary", filling you in on what I've been up to and what those shiny things, that I'm attempting to juggle, are...


So... Saturday Summary number one comes to you, appropriately enough, on the first day of a new month. White Rabbits everyone! Spring is on her way. :)


This week, I've been working on the manuscript of Dance of Darkness, which is to be the fourth volume in my series of collected poetry, "The Dance". For those who are not yet familiar with this series, it begins with Ghost Dance, then there's Sun Dance and Dance of Days... And now (or soon, at any rate) Dance of Darkness. Each book contains roughly two hundred new poems. This week, as well as putting the finishing touches to the manuscript (which contains poems written up to and including 28th February 2014) I've been contemplating cover illustrations... And this brings me onto the subject of Darkness...


I had a picture in my head, for the cover of Dance of Darkness. It goes with my poem, "Dancing with Darkness", which is the almost-title poem of the book. It's a shadowy, dark face, shown from the shoulders up, staring into the eyes of the observer, beckoning them to join her. I asked followers of my Facebook page, Paradoxologies, for their opinions. It was startlingly divided. People either loved it and were drawn to it, or found it disturbing and off-putting. Of course, whilst being "true to myself" is of paramount importance in my work, book covers have to appeal to as many people as possible, and if there's an option that will attract more people and repel nobody, that wins over the picture that's adored by a handful but drives others away... So I chose another image. I have little to say, at this point, on the implications of people's reactions to the pictures, but it's made me think about our relationship with darkness, and how certain images suggest certain things, and why those things might be scary...


On a brighter note, I've been painting trees, too. On Saturday 8th March - next Saturday - I'll be sharing a stall at the local International Women's Day event, in Walthamstow, London. I'll be selling my mini-canvases, some small canvases (slightly bigger than minis!) and some of my art cards and books. I'm looking forward to it - and I love my trees, inspired by all the glorious cherry blossom that's around at the moment!


All this, plus registering for the E17 Art Trail, watching my eldest daughter's wonderful assembly about the Romans, teaching my music pupils and writing a new song about the Biblical character, Judge Deborah. (I had SUCH fun with that one!)


And now, I have to go. It's almost 5am and time for me to get ready to go and cook that breakfast again! I'll leave you with some of my tree paintings... And, here's the link to my "Deborah" song again, in case you missed it. ;) Deborah Song


Measuring Up

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Measuring Up

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


Don’t measure me with scales and tapes.

I’m not a prize pumpkin that should be reckoned so.

Don’t measure me by height or weight,

discard or accept me, judge me or pity me,

love me or despise me

based on the bodily size of me...

I’d ask you to measure the pleasure my words bring,

or the perspective of my paintings

or the depth of my thought…

but I ought not, for in the dark of night,

when words flee and sight’s irrelevant

and my brain is incapable of anything more than staying afloat

- of staying alive

(And I’m not talking of physical night,

that falls softly and at dawn, slips away,

but the darkness that thunders ‘round my soul,

in plain sight of day...)

What then?

Will I be found wanting when all sense and sanity

have gone away?

Put them away,

your plumb lines and your calipers,

your guages and thermometers,

scales and tintometers…

Close your eyes, if you must

- what they see is only dust,

though stardust, true, and beautiful…

Now, in the silence and the dark,

feel the beating of your heart

and Spirit, running through.

These things alone are true and they should be

the only measurement of you, or me.


 

 

 

 

Image found here: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/random/images/27860099/title/measuring-tape-photo

The common decency of cooking breakfast

Posted on February 8, 2014 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (8)

Well, I said I might blog about the night shelter  - or more precisely, me helping to cook breakfast for the guests there - and the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that it was a good idea. So, here I am.


I love it. Yes, I really do. I’m a morning person by nature. It’s little trial for me, really, to be up early enough to leave the house in time to start cooking by about 6am… Though of course, actually getting dressed and actually leaving can feel like a trial occasionally… But essentially, I enjoy walking through the dark, quiet streets, serenaded by early blackbirds, sometimes surrounded by the brilliance of a hard, moonlit frost.


When I get there, people are beginning to stir. There’s usually a calm, quiet, warm atmosphere. I light the ovens and start to prepare the food. Other helpers arrive and together, we put on the urn to heat water, get hot drinks going… It’s good to be working together with people and for people. (I love my solitary life, working alone, from home. I’m a hermit at heart… But this makes the occasional foray into being with people (other than my household) and pulling together as a team something that’s slightly novel and exciting and enjoyable.)


Walking home, yesterday morning, it was still early - on a Saturday morning, still too early for most people to be out and about. I saw chaffinches, listened to blackbirds, paused to enjoy the first blossom of the season and smile at the sight of daisies pushing through the February grass. It felt good.


It felt good, but not entirely for the reasons people might think. Cooking for homeless people might sound ever so virtuous. It might sound like a “feel-good” activity. For me, it’s become something I struggle to imagine not doing, knowing that the people who need the breakfast are there, and when people pat me on the back for doing it, it takes me a little by surprise… I mean, why on earth wouldn’t I do it? And yet, I do understand their response. I think, to an extent at least, it comes out of misunderstanding. I think they imagine that I’m going and cooking for down-and-outs, untouchables, people who’re different… 


I wonder whether they’d think it was virtuous if they realised that when I cook for homeless people, I’m cooking for people just like me - that this makes it, not virtuous, but basic human kindness. Foundation level kindness. Or, not even kindness, but basic respect...


“Homeless person” might conjure up certain images. Whatever those images are, if they’re all along the same lines, they’re inaccurate, because homeless people, at core, have only their homelessness and their humanity in common. (Of course, as in any group of people, individuals find others who share common interests and so on, but that’s not because they’re homeless; that’s because they’re human.) Homeless people are simply people who for a any number of reasons have, for this time, nowhere to live. That’s all. They’re not distinguishable as homeless, often, until you ask them, or until they appear on the other side of that serving hatch and thank you for their meal. Even then, sometimes, you might not quite believe it. The person who’s been sitting playing concert-standard piano in the corner of the hall? The person who used to help run these night shelters, before he fell on hard times? The very well-presented, well-spoken lady who, frankly, looks more composed and respectable than most of us who’re doing the cooking? Really?


Yes. Really. Over the years, I’ve met all sorts of people who are guests at the shelter. Handsome young men with sweet smiles who say please and thank you and who, if my daughter, in fifteen years or so, brought home, I’d be quite happy. Quiet women of my own age, who just want a cup of tea as they wake up slowly. The very gifted pianist who came to the UK because things were impossibly hard back home, and discovered that things aren’t really any better here… And the relatively successful people, who’ve had happy family lives and enough of everything. People who once helped out as I do now, but who lost everything because of basic misfortunes that can happen to anyone. Anyone. 


What I’ve realised, more than anything else, doing these night shelter breakfasts, is that the guests are not charity cases. I’m really, truly, not being super-virtuous, cooking for them. I’m not being a do-gooder, for the simple reason that these people are me. They’re my parents, siblings, friends. Or they could be. They could be absolutely anyone. Or any one of us could be them. They’re not charity cases, they’re just human beings whose lives have gone awry - and, quite often, not through any fault of their own. I’ll say it again: I’m not super-virtuous. I’m just making sure that my parents, siblings, friends - my self - (or people who could be) are getting a good breakfast before going back out onto the streets. So, although I enjoy doing this, meeting the people, interacting and so on - and although I do feel glad that they’ve had a good breakfast, at least - I never feel completely “good” about things when I leave. It’s not a “feel-good” activity in the sense that some people might think it would be. More than anything, I wish, deeply and painfully, that I could do more.


What does feel good - the feel-good things, for me - is the teamwork that takes place to put breakfast on the tables, the interactions with the guests - people I’d never otherwise meet, who despite their circumstances, are capable of smiling at me, making eye contact and exchanging friendly words, the moonlight on the dark streets, puddles in the road reflecting the light of dawn, chaffinches preparing for spring and the first blossom of the year. All of these, and most of all, a sense connection with them - with all of them: of lives shared with people and birds and quickening flowers - and of common humanity. And yes, too, the tiny smile of hope that despite the enormity of the problems in the world and the fact that I wish I could do more, there’s always something I can do to make things slightly better for someone. A smile, a kind word, hot coffee and a snack for the person sleeping on the street corner asking for pennies… Or a hot breakfast in a place where people care.


I’d recommend it!

Image: The first blossom of 2014

In Other News...

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, this week's gone in a blur! I want to try to post here at least once a week, but ideally more often, and yet, the days whizz past - confirming that I'm getting old - and here I am, a week after my last post, trying to think of what to say... So I'll share with you what my blurry week's been full of.

At the beginning of the week, I was delighted to go into a local school and talk about being a writer. It was a genuine privilege to share, with bright and enthusiastic children, how much I love what I do. Some of them were roughly the age that I was when I first realised that I wanted to be a writer. Some of them wanted to be writers. I think some of them will be.

In other news... Well, do you remember my blog post here, a few posts back? About being part Hobbit? Well, it's the strangest thing. That very day, later on, I got an email from my lovely mother, who's researching our family tree. It said, "We're all part Hobbit!" She hadn't read my blog, either. She'd just discovered that we're very closely descended from the Merryweathers of Lincolnshire. This did not only make my day (lover of synchronicity that I am) it made several days. I'm still chuckling over it and enjoying it, as I type.

What else have I done? I've written some new poems (pop over to Paradoxologies on Facebook to read them) I've worked a bit more, tinkering with this website, I've helped with homework and taught music lessons... What I haven't done much of at all is housework. It's always housework that gets left at the bottom of the list and that, in my book, is as it should be...

Hopefully, this coming week, I'll be a bit more bloggy. For now, I'll wish you a very happy weekend and will go and cook breakfast at the local night shelter for the homeless. It's always fun. Perhaps I'll even blog about it...



Do you feel the Quickening?

Posted on February 1, 2014 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Imbolc is celebrated on 1st-2nd February, in the Northern hemisphere,  and marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It's the celebration of the end of Winter and the beginning of the “Light Half” of the year. Imbolc is a Pagan festival in honour of the Goddess, Brighid, but, as with many Pagan festivals, it was also celebrated by Celtic Christians and later by the Roman church, who called it “Saint Brighid’s Day” or “Candlemas”. All these celebrations - and similar festivals in other traditions at this season - are a joyful acknowledgement of Light, physical and spiritual, coming into the world.


I have suffered with a sunlight deficiency condition since I was a child and our dark British winters, though possessed of a certain beauty, are particularly difficult.  Imbolc is, for me, the Stirring time - the Quickening time - when I begin, like the spring flowers, to push my way through the dark and cold and feel the tingling of green leaves and bright blossom again. It’s a time when I start to re-awaken all over again,  to life and love and the joy of being.


Here are some of my Imbolc poems, with love.


Imbolc


Electricity splinters

naked through the world.

Sharp and sparking

dangerous through the

veins and nerves of the

multi-seasoned earth.

Frosted light and bright and

hard as diamonds –

stung by spring’s quicksilver –

shaken from its deep sepulchral sleep.



Quickening


Today’s the day,

the birdsong day,

the day of mischievous Mercury

silvering rain

and rushing through all our veins,

the day of the Dance beginning again.

This is the day Ouroboros smiles

and almost spits its tail

to the stars,

the day Janus turns both heads towards me

and winks.

This is the day when,

even through rain -

or snow

or frost,

warm fronts or cold fronts

no matter -

the Sun begins to shine.

This,

today,

is Quickening time.



Brighid’s Day


The world is a stage

and every day,

a new scene in the play...

And now,

Brighid comes out from the room where the Green man sleeps,

steps through the curtain

and takes centre stage.

Her smile is no longer shy-behind-snowflakes,

or sneaking at Solstice,

ghost-like guest at the fireside.

Now, she smiles wide

and takes a bow,

laughing aloud

and throwing flowers to the crowd,

the orchestra begins to play.

Now,

today,

Winter speaks a last soliloquy,

a final flurry of frost,

and bows out.

Waterfalls roar

and the forests cry out,

“It’s almost time!

Time to thaw,

time to melt,

time to feel the tingling of leaves,

the warm breath of another Summer on the breeze.”

The Green Man stirs

and birds sing...

Brighid smiles,

her belly full of promise,

feeling the Quickening of the season

and the approaching birth

of Spring.



Half Way


In the still-dark days,

where Frost feels welcome

and snowflakes make love

to the cold ground,

In the silent pause,

the bated breath,

in the steel of Winter pretending death,

a swell,

a stirring sigh,

naked branches stretch stark fingers

to a steely sky -

an upbeat

for a coming downbeat,

and the overture begins to play.

Brighid steps upon the softening Earth,

Swans fly above the sunrise flame,

and the world is given birth

again.



Welcoming Brighid


Welcome Goddess,

pregnant

and full of promise,

life quickening in your belly

and the sting of Spring

mercurial in your veins.

Welcome Brighid,

Beautiful,

Bountiful,

your joy-filled laughter

barely restrained.

Welcome Love,

Welcome Grace,

Welcome the Seasons,

turning apace.

Welcome Life,

Welcome Light,

Welcome days

banishing night.

Welcome Goddess,

pregnant

and full of promise,

life quickening in your belly

and the sting of Spring

mercurial in your veins.

Welcome Brighid,

Beautiful,

bountiful,

your joy-filled laughter

barely restrained.



Ouroboros’ Kiss


Boldy,

step into the Ouroboros circle,

the place where life and death

smile into each other’s eyes,

where dross

is turned to gold.

Strip naked,

cold,

then,

strip again.

Flay skin from flesh

and flesh from bone,

throw all into the cauldron

and keep on dancing.

Stars bright above,

the moon another Ouroboros,

smiling strong.

Dance!

Dance the dance of dawn,

of the ancient ever-young,

of the re-born.

Look to the East,

where the new day

pours liquid gold over the horizon

and dance!

Dance to the rhythm

of the season,

to the song of the stars.

Dance to the dying

and rising,

the cessation and creation,

the continuation.

Dance!

Here, in the time between times,

in the dark-light,

not-quite night,

in the dance before dawn,

I am re-born

and I rise on the bliss

of Ouroboros’ kiss

to dance again.



Imbolc’s Cauldron


Beneath the frost-hard earth a stirring sigh -

a pulse, though faint, beats unashamedly -

and whispers into cloud-wrapped, wintry sky,

and echoes in the pounding of the sea:

“Awake! Awake, for Quickening Time is here

and Mercury runs warm through every vein,

The snow-kissed Earth feels Springtime drawing near

and Imbolc’s Cauldron bubbles once again.”

The belly of the Goddess swells and blooms

and feels, with every dream-drenched, pre-dawn breath,

new life a-stir in Winter’s Catacombs

and Resurrection rides the back of Death.

“The Spring is near!” birds call from leafless bough;

“The Quickening Time is here; the Time is Now.”


Image: "Brighid Smiles" By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)

 

 

 

Here There Be Dragons!

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Image: "Dragon's Breath" By Ruth Calder Murphy


Well, I warned you... Here there be dragons!


My eight year old daughter, Keziah, was reading to me yesterday morning before school. She's reading The Hobbit for the second time. I'm delighted; it's one of my old favourites from when I was a child - and I remember reading it aloud to my own mother when I was off school with the chickenpox, also age 8... Happy days...


This time round, she's still quite near the beginning. Bilbo has just had the "Took in him" roused and is determined to go on this adventure. (Whatever it is.) There are going to be times when he wonders how and why he ever plucked up the courage to leave his comfortable Hobbit hole to go off into the unknown with a band of daredevil dwarves, where there might be bandits and goblins... and where there are most certainly dragons, because that's the whole point of the journey. Bilbo's life is about to be changed for ever, in one small step - his; out over his own doorstep, over the horizon of what he thought was possible: the horizon of his own fear.


Keziah - usually nose-in-book, often books with dragons...


Bilbo reminds me of myself. I'm always proud, when I do these slightly daft online "which Tolkien personality are you" type tests, to be told quite assuredly that I'm an elf. Or possibly, sometimes, a wizard. But I know, deep down, that I have quite a healthy inner hobbit who likes nothing better than to stay in my comfort zone, blowing smoke rings and eating multiple breakfasts. The beginning of The Hobbit challenges me to look at my own life and to see where I've allowed the metaphorical dust to settle, where my comfort zones have become more cage than castle and to think, once again, about putting on my back pack, picking up my sturdy walking stick and stepping out: Over the Horizon, beyond fear.


The following introduction and poem are taken from my book, Spirit Song, which is available to buy via my "shop" links, and is available as a Kindle download here:


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirit-Song-ebook/dp/B00DWVZI0Q/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373777022&sr=1-9#reader_B00DWVZI0Q


Over the Horizon

 

As with so many poems, this one is the reflection of a flash of realisation. Not a realisation that fear holds me back, but the realisation that I can choose to step beyond fear. It’s a simple realisation, really - the old truth that we only live fully when we leave our comfort zones... And yet, it presented itself in this new way: “Everything worth having lies on the other side of fear”. It’s not that there’s no more fear, but that fear is, in many ways, like a horizon - a line that can be crossed.

 

As with all horizons, when it is crossed, a new one forms.This is a good thing - to keep on travelling, pushing forward. Not to stop because we’ve crossed a line, but to feel the achievement, recover and replenish... Then, aim for the next.

 

Every so often, the horizon disappears because, in our running for it, we suddenly realise that we’re flying and the world spreads out beneath us, limitless... And that is when we glimpse the potential of life beyond fear. Mostly, though, we run - or walk, or crawl - but the exhilaration is the same when we are able to look back and see how far we’ve come.

 

Over the Horizon

 - By Ruth Calder Murphy -

 

It calls me -

Something Wonderful,

Something Divine...

The Everything

that pulls at my heart and

hangs,

ripe and golden in the spaces

between thoughts...

It calls

from across the line,

over the horizon,

beyond Fear.

Bold and free,

a new Me,

I step,

strong -

the bars breaking

that were holding,

restraining -

and so I fly.

Way up high,

the horizon expands -

no more lines,

no more limits -

becoming oceans

and verdant lands,

mountains and valleys,

green forests

and golden sands.

Everything that calls my name

is here -

across the line,

over the horizon,

beyond fear.

 




The Last of the Old...

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (2)

Yesterday, I re-posted the first of two exerpts from my WordPress blog. This one will be the second - and the last. The last of my old posts. From hereon in, we're on new territory. Here there be dragons... ;-)

Image: "Dragon's Breath" by Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)

Image: "Breath of Life" By Ruth Calder Murphy


I’m About Breathing

My then three-year-old daughter and I were sitting together at home when she looked at me and said, “Mummy, what are you about?”

I was slightly startled by the question, and before launching into a reply,I asked her what she meant by it. She just repeated the question. I asked her how she would answer the same question for herself and she said she didn’t know.

I try never to leave a question unconsidered, nor to fob off my childrenwith platitudes, so I went away and considered. This is my answer. At least, it’s part of my answer—an answer that will flow and change…


I’m About Breathing

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

 

I’m about breathing

and knowing the breath is mine -

even when it’s knocked out of me

by the fury of the dance.

I’m about feeling

and owning how the feeling feels.

I’m about knowing

and not knowing

and unknowing;

I’m about flowing

under burnt bridges

from mountains

to valleys,

to the wide ocean

to begin again -

flowing through years…

I’m about smiles

and tears,

Hopes

and fears.

I’m about believing,

dreaming,

never knowing,

always being…

I’m about life

and living,

which is death

and dying.

I’m about breathing

and knowing the breath is mine.

 

NB: This is the second in a series of intorductions and poems, taken from my book Spirit Song, which is available to buy via my shared website “Shop” link, here:

www.ruthmathews.net/ruth.htm

 


 

 


Bringing Things Together

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm going to re-post a couple of blog entries that I originally posted, recently, on my WordPress blog, because it feels good to keep things together in one place.

This post was originally entitled "Cards on the Table".

 

Image: "Falling Star" By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)

 


Here I am, back again with a second post, and I thought I’d start by laying my cards – some of them, at any rate – on the virtual table. I think the best way for me to do this is to share some of my poems and introductions from my book, Spirit Song, which can be purchased here:

www.ruthmathews.net/shopruth.htm

… So, with no ambiguity in the titles at least,  “I Can Not” and “I Can”.  Enjoy…


 

 

I Can Not

I can only be me. This was one of the simplest and yet most profound epiphanies of my life. The dawning upon me that the pressure is off. Not because I won’t be, believe, speak, think as other people suggest, require, demand or preach, but because I cannot be anything but myself – and myself is the best thing, the best person, I can be. There was and is something Divine inthis realisation – that I was made to be me and am fully loved, as Me! In letting go of other people’s hopes, dreams and expectations of and for me, and thereby letting go of worrying about pleasing them all, all the time, I am free to be fully myself and to realise the Divinity within me…

Funnily and wonderfully enough, I please just as many people in simply being me as I ever did by trying to please everyone… And I’ve also discovered how wonderful it is to be accepted and loved for who I really am.

 

 I Can Not

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

 

I cannot be

anything

- or anyone -

but me.

I cannot do

simply

because

I’m expected to.

I cannot believe

because you believe

or because

I used to believe

or because it would

bring ease

or make the bullies leave

me alone.

I cannot speak

just to please;

I cannot speak lies

though the truth

may cause unease

and surprise.

I cannot live

your chosen life

or prepare for your

preferred death,

I cannot dance your dance

- though it be beautiful -

or sing your song

- though it be wonderful -

I cannot walk your path -

even when it takes you

away from me,

even when we disagree,

even if I lose you completely…

I cannot dream your dreams;

my dreams are enough for me.

I can only be

the best me I can be

and true…

and you be the best you

and, if we do,

our different dances

will make choreography,

our paths

cartography,

our cannots

will become “Will Be”

and then,

then,

we shall be free.

 

 

I Can

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -

 

I can be me.

I am alive

and free,

I am not caged -

I can fly;

I have the whole sky.

I can do

all that I can do -

and though one little life,

one uncaged flight,

is not enough to do all I will,

yet what I can do

I will do

truly and well.

I can believe

in bigger things -

in Love,

in Spirit things,

in the smile on a mother’s face,

in peace in the secret place,

in Grace.

I can speak

my mind,

my heart,

I can live -

and I

will not die

though my body depart.

I can dance,

I can sing,

I can see beauty

in everything,

I can walk,

I can dream,

I can be.

I am alive;

I am free.

 

 

 

 

 


New Beginnings

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (2)

It's less than a week until Imbolc here, in the Northern Hemisphere. Quickening Time. Whatever Winter bugs and gloom still linger, this is always a time when I start to turn my thoughts to new beginnings, re-birth and personal growth... Again.


I love Imbolc.


This year, one of my new beginnings involves this website and, specifically, this blog. I'm glad you could join me here, right at the beginning.


Firstly, let me introduce myself. If you've browsed this site already, you'll know that I'm Ruth Calder Murphy, that I'm an artist, a writer and a musician and that I'm mother to three young children and wife to a very patient, lovely husband. You've probably also worked out that "Arciemme" comes from my initials: R.C.M.


As Arciemme, I don't just want my name to be a neat little take on my initials, though; I want it to mean something wonderful. (Of course I do!) So, ‘Arc’ is for rainbows, arches, bridges and portals whilst ‘Emme’ means ‘Entire’ or ‘universal’. Arciemme, then, is a name I can live with – and under – very happily.


Secondly, my website. Hopefully, this will be a happy place and a creative one; a place where people will connect, as well as a place where they can discover my work and get to know me bit better. Please, then, feel free to contact me, leave messages in the guest book, comments on my posts and generally chat. I'll always be happy to hear from you, as long as mutual respect and kindness are observed.


Thirdly, this blog. I hope to use this space to stretch a bit. It’s somewhere to raise questions, explore possibilities, admit to hopes and fears. It’s not meant to be a soap box or a pulpit. It’s about seeking more than it is about finding – asking questions rather than trying to grasp at answers. I might post poetry, wonderings, musings or news. I'm sure I'll sometimes do a bit of everything, all at once.


I’m on a journey and I’m glad of your company on it.


Thank you for joining me here.

Injury

Posted on Comments comments (0)

Wow! Well, I did say that I was pretty bad at blogging regularly and here's the proof! My first blog post in what? Six months?


So, before I go on, I'll say that if you want regular updates, the BEST place to go is my Facebook page - Paradoxologies or even my other Facebook page - Ruth Calder Murphy - Arciemme .


Having got that out of the way, here's an actual, bona fide blog post. Champagne, anyone?


Anyone who knows me, or reads a lot of my poetry, knows that I'm a runner. Running is physical, of course, but it's far more than that to me. I run because I struggle with depression and running is by far the best medication I've ever found - better than other forms of exercise, even.


 

My depression is exacerbated by the lack of sunlight in the dark half of the year. Many of my poems that celebrate the Autumn and Winter are a form of catharsis for me - a way for me to overcome my natural antipathy to them.


 

The fact is, I DO love Autumn and Winter - I love all seasons. But my health suffers during the darker months and for many years, I just felt despair when I thought of the encroaching darkness.


 

Running helps.


 

On the Autumn Equinox, I ran a half marathon. An injury had been building for a while, but I felt I needed to do the race. (Partly for my psychological well being. It's a long story...)


 

I haven't been able to run since then, as my injury is peroneal tendonitis and will only heal if I rest from running completely, until it's better.


 

This is terrible timing - and I am NOT a good patient! I want to run... But I know that I need to rest (my body's tired from over-training) and I know that I have lessons to learn in this, too.


 

I'm learning them... I'll probably write poems about them, too, at some point...



 

Injury

- By Ruth Calder Murphy -


 

Just in time for the darker days

 

and the longer nights,

 

just in time for the Seasons to turn about

 

and brew in me

 

a restless longing for a quick way out

 

- a way to connect with Earth,

 

run with the breeze,

 

dance with the tumbling,

 

gold-edged leaves -

 

just as unease settles in my belly

 

and my mind turns to my body

 

for miracles of movement

 

to help it through

 

- to help it do the things it has to do

 

and be all it needs to be

 

to carry me safe through Winter’s night,

 

forward to the waiting arms of Spring -

 

Just now, as the Equinox opens out its scales

 

and hangs Everything in the balance

 

before folding again towards the dark,

 

my ligaments and tendons,

 

joints - and all - protest

 

and call me to a sudden break.

 

Don’t you know,

 

my bumbling, ill-timed body,

 

what’s at stake?

 

All through Summer, you gave your best

 

and now, I need you - more than then -

 

to give your best again...

 

So,

 

a sigh,

 

a deep inhale...

 

Go; rest and heal.

 

My mind will have to wait

 

and that Way Out

 

will have to enter late.

 

I want to run,

 

but first I have to sit -

 

and learn the lessons

 

that will come of it.

 

***********

 

Image: "Kate On the Rooftop" By Ruth Calder Murphy - illustration for The Everlasting Monday - a novel by Ruth Calder Murphy with Mathew Taylor. The novel is available on Amazon and through www.arciemme.com





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