Tag Archives: Otherworld

Some Otherworld thoughts in Capricorn’s dark season…

It is the season of Capricorn. I am gazing through our wide bay window towards the shadowy hills, as city lights illuminate a cold, rainy early January night.  A very bare bay window. Where have all the jewels of multi-coloured reflection gone? Back to the ‘Otherworld’, the Romantic in me thinks. Waiting, waiting for another year…

Yesterday we took our Christmas Tree down, this year aided by our kind and helpful neighbours, their assistance a welcome ray of brightness in an otherwise doleful day. After New Year has arrived, the time of festivity and celebration is over.

The richly decorated, multi-coloured glowing beauty of our tree then ceases to bring us comfort and magic in the heart of winter, standing before us reproachfully (as we imagine), waiting to be dismantled, recycled. We cannot bear to prolong this post-festive inevitability. And now it’s done, gone.

Here I stand, in the bare, empty, dusted, wiped, hoovered space left behind. What comfort is to be found in this bleak moment?

The need to bring comfort, cheer and significance to that cold dark time in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun’s warmth seems a distant longed-for memory, is a very ancient one. Here are the ancient Egyptians, honouring their Tree of Life:

This thought comforts me, as it does every year. I like to feel part of the ancient river of humanity as I stand here in my 21st century bare bay window.

Dylan Thomas’ famous line from the poem  “And death shall have no dominion” comes to mind:

‘Though lovers be lost, love shall not……’

This tree may have been sacrificed by us, but its spirit lives on in that bare window space, inhabiting another world, waiting to be given form yet again when the seasons turn and we feel yet again a powerful need to affirm in the cold season of Capricorn that the life force is still with us – just gathering its strength in the dormancy of winter.

350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

Some wisdom to begin the year: from Welsh poet R.S.Thomas

I am gazing through our wide bay window towards the shadowy hills, as city lights illuminate a cold, rainy early January night. That window, come Monday and Epiphany, will be very bare: our magical nine-foot tree will be no more. Where will all its jewels of multi-coloured reflection go? Back to the ‘Otherworld’, the Romantic in me thinks. Waiting, waiting for another year……

To distract myself from this post-Festive melancholy, I start tidying my workroom – and find a different kind of jewel. In the wonderful poetry anthology sent to me from Zane, the charity which does such sterling work in Zimbabwe, I come across a poem which perfectly fits my mood: a reminder that moments of  transitory joy in life, fleeting as they are, are to be cherished –

Let us not rush through 2014 so much that we forget to pause, to notice, should a fleeting glimpse of the brightness of Eternity come our way….

A fleeting light.....

A fleeting light…..

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S.Thomas

(From Laboratories of the Spirit, published by MacMillan. © Kunjana Thomas)

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/R.S. Thomas 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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The year 2011 begins……with Dylan Thomas and ancient Akkadians !

I am gazing through our wide bay window towards the shadowy hills, as city lights illuminate a cold, rainy early January night.  A very bare bay window. Where have all the jewels of multi-coloured reflection gone? Back to the ‘Otherworld’, the Romantic in me thinks. Waiting, waiting for another year……

Today we took our Christmas Tree down. This day is always ‘throat-slitting day’ in the calendar of our New Year. We rarely wait for Epiphany to carry out this doleful task. After New Year’s day is over, the richly decorated, multi-coloured glowing beauty of our tree ceases to bring us comfort and magic in the heart of winter, and stands before us reproachfully (as we imagine), waiting to be dismantled, recycled. We cannot bear to prolong this post-festive inevitability. And now it’s done.

Here I stand, in the bare, empty, dusted, wiped, hoovered space left behind. What comfort is to be found in this bleak moment? My husband has the right idea.He is off to the pub with my brother – the third tree-dismemberer.

I stand, and stand, remembering the magic, remembering how we flicked some malt whisky on the fully lit and decorated tree on the night of the Winter Solstice. We do this every year too – and every year I remind my  family members present for this ritual that  this tree has a very ancient pedigree. Consider the following quote, from :     http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_tree.htm

“……The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the ancient Middle Eastern practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them. Of course, these were not really Christmas trees, because Jesus was not born until centuries later, and the use of Christmas trees was not introduced for many centuries after his birth. Apparently, in Jeremiah’s time the “heathen” would cut down trees, carve or decorate them in the form of a god or goddess, and overlay it with precious metals……”

 

 

The need to bring comfort and cheer and significance to that cold dark time in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun’s warmth seems a distant longed-for memory, is a very ancient one. This thought comforts me, as it does every year. I like to feel part of the ancient river of humanity as I stand here in my 21st century bare bay window.

Dylan Thomas’ famous line from the poem “And death shall have no dominion” comes to mind:

‘Though lovers be lost, love shall not……’

This tree may have been sacrificed by us, but its spirit lives on in that bare window space, inhabiting another world, waiting to be given form yet again when the seasons turn and we feel yet again a powerful need to affirm that the life force is still with us – just gathering its strength in the dormancy of winter.

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500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Harry Potter and the Joyful Child, Part 2: Growing Up

“……..A prescription for helping to keep the Joyful Child alive ? Go and read the Harry Potter books…….. !……”

To read the first part of the Joyful Child series, CLICK below:

The Sun, the Saturn Cycle, Harry Potter – and the Joyful Child

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Part Two

Saturn - welcome to the Real World!

Saturn - welcome to the Real World!

http://www.wordsources.info/saturn.html

Leaving the Otherworld – and meeting Saturn

The advance through adulthood alters one’s perception of what it is to be young. Having been scarred by life as we all are, watching a pre-school child absorbed in play is delightful, but also poignant. Delightful because it demonstrates clearly that there is another world than the one we usually inhabit which is full of deadlines, duties and demands.

This Otherworld is full of goblins and fire engines, magic bubbles and imaginary friends, bright green tigers who speak, and amenable adults happy to give you the keys to the scary castle, where you can spend days of adventure without anyone telling you that it’s impossible for giants to keep a special pocket full of ice cream that never melts, just waiting for you to come and eat it.

Poignant because we  wonder, looking at this absorbed child, how s/he will cope with an adult world whose entry tariff is extracted from the struggle between the fantasy world of childhood where anything is possible, and the reality testing which takes place as we grow and confront the limits which life sets for us.

The 29-30 year Saturn Cycle offers a helpful containing context within which to explore how the Joyful Child within us fares as life’s journey unfolds. There is a case to be made for not starting children at school until the first square of the cycle, at 7-8 years. Five or six, the common age, seems too early to remove children from the Otherworld of play and unbounded imagination. Shakespeare vividly expressed the average child’s response to being dragged from the Otherworld :

“And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school.” (ii)

If we did start children at the later age of seven or eight, socially disruptive though that would be in many ways, perhaps it would give more time for the Joyful Child’s domain to become established. Thus  it might be easier for the growing person to retain contact with the Otherworld as a source of inspiration throughout life.

As we step across the boundary of family from the time of starting school at age five, through to the first Saturn square at 7/8 years of age, the Joyful Child begins to hide; its energy becomes redirected as we become more aware of ourselves in relation to what the outer world expects. By and large, that outer world is more interested in us being able to tie our shoelaces, read, tell the time, and be truthful, than it is in knowing what a wonderful chat we had in Chinese last night with the  bright green tiger who sleeps under our bed.

Early adulthood

The first Saturn opposition at 14/ 15 years is the point where we take bigger steps out of family, begin to challenge parental authority,  and move towards greater identification with the peer group. The need to play and daydream which is fundamental to the Joyful Child’s world, and the creative energy fuelling these activities, gets sublimated further at this point.

It channels into the pursuit of achievement of an academic or vocational nature, and exploration of the  exciting, troubling world of relationship and emerging sexuality  as bodily changes propel the young person towards physical adulthood. The Joyful Child’s impetus towards discovery and exploration of the new, engages in a complex dance with the tough realities also emerging. Too much time spent playing, not enough on taking responsibility, can have a high emotional cost, eg exam failure or unwanted pregnancy.

The waning square at 21/2  years brings with it the world’s expectation that we should begin to assume adult responsibility, get a job if we’ve been studying for years – get serious. Many people marry or enter into long-term partnerships at this stage, perhaps out of unconscious fear of facing the adult world and its responsibilities alone.

I have gained the impression from my varied professional work with people of differing ages over a  long period of time, that part of the vulnerability of this life stage comes from a realisation that childhood is, indeed, over.

Recently I came across a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings from a column I wrote in my early twenties. In it was a piece called “Thoughts on Childhood” which supports the view  just expressed :

“ I am close enough to childhood for my memories still to be clear and reasonably untainted by the rosy hues of nostalgia, although I realise now that as soon as we have ceased to be children, the world of childhood becomes a closed world to us, one which we can never recapture except through flashes of memory and watching our own children grow up. As adults, no matter how hard we wish to recapture the feeling of childhood, we must always remain

‘ watchers by the threshold.’ ” (iii)

This is a critical age. Engaging with the world as it actually is, challenges the emerging individual’s capacity to retain that spark of vital creative energy which ensures that the Joyful Child is not stifled: it has been curbed by now, knows that much of the time it’s not safe to be too overt.

But it is important that the rechannelled  energy continues to flow. It can express itself in passionate commitment to a career, as opposed to working purely to provide life’s necessities. It can manifest through joy in good friends, or absorbing hobbies and interests outwith work. For some people, early parenthood brings, along with responsibility, the opportunity to view the world again through the eyes of their growing children.

There is also a direct route for expression through the sheer animal vitality of youth, which all by itself can make life feel worth living. I recall a middle-aged male friend of mine’s recent comment on seeing a young man running effortlessly up several flights of stairs recently, not because he had to,  just because he could. “I can’t do that any more – my back’s too bad !” he remarked. “It made me feel wistful, reminded me of the youthful grace and energy  which I once had.”

References

(ii) “As You  Like It ”: (1599) act 2, sc 7, l 139, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 658, par 26
(iii) “Thoughts on Childhood” from Personally Speaking column, Stornoway Gazette, September 1970

TO BE CONTINUED……Part Three follows shortly….

To read the first part of the Joyful Child series, CLICK below:

The Sun, the Saturn Cycle, Harry Potter – and the Joyful Child

 

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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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