Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blessed Samhain

Dawn this morning was so typical of this time of the year - gentle light and rolling mists veiling the landscape. Beautiful! Watching the mists it is so easy to imagine the dead walking, barely veiled in the distance. Human shapes drifting in and out of focus, passing between worlds.

In the early evening I was watching the flames of the fire waiting for the first knock on the door from Halloween revellers. My mind passed through the ages to a time when some built round houses and buried the bones of their dead beneath the hearth at the very centre of the home of the living. Round houses are special for they mimic womb space. A place for the living protected by the Goddess. As I watched the flames and the sparks in the rising air currents I wondered whether the hearth fire was once conceived as a vehicle for the rebirth of the beloved dead. Almost as if the dead rose on the hot rising air, the sparks being the first sparks of life. All within the womb space of the home, the hole at the apex of the roof the place of rebirth. Whether this is true or not it always amazes me what the human brain perceives as the eyes stare into flames. No wonder this is also a season of divination.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Against nature?

Some things leave me quite despairing about religion. Buried in almost hidden columns of our newspapers there have been reports of women in Somalia being stopped by the religious priests and told to shake their breasts. If the police then have reason to believe the woman is wearing a bra she is handed over to young men who lash her. Apparently wearing a bra is against nature, a fraud and a deception. The Shabaab Islamic movement in Somalia has banned plays, dance and all forms of music.

I have just been watching a programme on TV following desperate young families escaping similar horrors in Afghanistan by paddling inflatables across the sea to the Greek Island of Lesbos. Many of the young women said they wanted a better life, but above all an education. At home, as women, they are not even allowed to read. I wonder if these women are aware of the history of Lesbos? Sadly, even on Lesbos many of these young women have been beaten by the police. Is there anywhere in the world where policing is not built on violence?

Sadly Christianity has had its own share of this bleak horror. St. Ephraim wrote, "Dancing is the perdition of girls and women, the grief of angels and the joy of devils". St. Charles Borromeo advised three years of penance for women who danced. Canon Law prevented priests from attending the theatre and the law was only repealed in the late 1960's.

Countries like Somalia have multiple, intractable problems. I guess it is easier to check bras than to ensure people have a decent standard of life. Easier to pick on women than confront warlords and corrupt politicians.

And it is always the women who suffer. We never read, religious police have been stopping men in the street and insisting that they shake their testicles. If the police then have reason to believe they are wearing briefs they are lashed. Wearing briefs is against nature. I wonder why?

I really do want my grand daughter to grow up in a world where education is valued, especially for women as it has been shown that societies flourish best that way. A world where dance, music, theatre, books... are promoted in every possible way. A world in which what a person wears or does not wear is entirely their own choice and no concern of anyone else. A world that does not depend upon violence at every level.

May we all help to make it so.

Monday, October 26, 2009


It seems a long time since I managed to post here. Lots of work is one reason, family another. Both are good. I really enjoy my work and get tremendous satisfaction from it. The family things are what life is all about. My son's wedding and seeing him and his partner off on a four month tour of Asia. Our first grandchild is now 6 months old and our daughter has been moving to a bigger house.

She is an absolute delight. The morning after our son's wedding all the guests came down to breakfast in the hotel and she was passed around them all. She smiled and communicated with everyone, treated everyone the same, took everything in, gave a great deal of pleasure. She takes delight in everything and is endlessly fascinated by the world around her. Surely just how we should all be in an ideal world.

It was lovely to be there when she discovered her own toes. The sheer look of wonder on her face. How could she be the proud owner of such beautiful things? But, there again the universe has spent 14 billion years preparing a place for her and 3 billion years perfecting toes. That is a good reason to be delighted.