Sep 092016
 

moth-to-solar-flameI remember one night lying sleepless in bed,
That I heard what the moth to the fair candle said:
“A lover am I, if I burn it is well!
Why you should lie weeping and burning, do tell.”
“Oh my poor humble lover!” the caudle replied,
“My friend, the sweet honey away from we hied.
When sweetness away from my body departs,
A fire-like Farhads to my summit then starts.”
Thus she spoke, and each movement a torrent of pain
Adown her pale cheeks trickled freely like rain.
“Oh, suitor! with love you have nothing to do,
Since nor patience, nor power of standing have you.
Oh, crude one! a flame makes you hasten away;
But I, till completely consumed, have to stay.
If the burning of love makes your wings feel this heat,
See how I am consumed, from the head to the feet!”
But a very small portion had passed of the night
When a fairy-fated maiden extinguished her light.
She was saying while smoke from her head curled above,
“Thus ends, oh my boy, the existence of love!”
If the love-making science you wish to acquire,
You’re more happy extinguished than being on fire.
Do not weep o’er the grave of the slain for the friend:
Be glad! for to him lie will mercy extend.
If a lover, don’t wash the complaint from your head!

******
I have told you: don’t enter this ocean at all!
If you do; yield your life to the hurricane squall!

Conversation between the Candle and the Moth, translation G S Davie

Jul 062011
 

Each fairy tale is a magic mirror which reflects some aspects of our inner world, and one of the steps required by our evolution from immaturity to maturity.

For those who immerse themselves in what the fairy tale has to communicate, it becomes a deep, quiet pool which at first seems to reflect only our own image; but behind it we soon discover the inner turmoils of our soul – its depth, and ways to gain peace within ourselves and with the world, which is the reward of our struggles.”

Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment

Jul 042011
 

I lifted up skyward the crown of the faeries,
Tarnished by oceans of sea-crossing time.
Forged in the fire of golden-days dawning,
Lit with a halo of stars in the night.

Who now shall wear it? I wondered in silence
Una is resting with Duessa at play.
Gwenevere wanders in halls of forgetting,
Deep in the summer of dreaming this day.

On her feet sandals of gold, steps the princess,
Floating on air through the green garden grass,
Walking alone by the castle of ether,
Seen but unseen by the world through a glass.

The seal of the nether-world opened up freely;
Through the dark tunnel with reason behind,
Following meekly the one with a mission;
Perfect in will and a reader of signs.

Once past the stream of the guardian lizards,
On through the gate to the bright other place,
Land of reflection and fathomless knowledge,
Home elemental of alchemic race.

Where do we go? I looked left and then eastward,
Somehow forboding the place that I saw.
Life’s university, building of sandstone
Burnished and gleaming, a prison by law.

Silent, but knowing, did reason stand sweetly
Holder of mysteries, the teacher and guide.
Younger and wiser and older all-seeing,
Dressed up in white and demure by my side.

Then came a voice – and as if out of nowhere –
Do you need help, you seem lost in this realm?
There stood a faerie, bewitchingly golden
Silken and spun was her hair from the sun

Stepped forth the reason – seduced by her magic –
Stretched out a hand to her beautiful hair.
Won’t you come with me? The faerie enticed us,
Stop by the hearth of the potter this day...

Brooding I pondered, could faeries be trusted?
Should I be swayed from the pathway assigned?
Yet I had watched how my reason surrendered
So before airs of a beautiful kind….

Loathe to offend such a glorious being,
One who had offered with kindness and grace,
Help just when needed. I bowed to the faerie;
Take now your highness my reason away.

Then the wind changed as a wandering mistral,
Warm as the breeze on a meadow of wheat,
Swift, warm and golden the faerie-bird air-borne
Flew o’er myself that fell under her wing.

Passed by all time as I sailed down the sleep-stream,
Far to the land where the doe and stag graze.
Home to the garden that blooms East of Eden,
Land of the ancestors covered in praise.

Opened my eyes as I reached the cool garden
Wonder-filled, wide, as memories unfolded.
Looked up the stag and the doe from their incline,
Wakened my self from the river of time.

Safe in the knowledge of paradise tended,
Turned I my thought to the reason once lost.
So in a blink of my eye I went searching,
Straight to the hearth of the faerie-bird’s host.

Jan 072011
 

It is not the purpose of this book to trace the subsequent history of Christianity, especially the later history of Christianity; which involves controversies of which I hope to write more fully elsewhere. It is devoted only to the suggestion that Christianity, appearing amid heathen humanity, had all the character of a unique thing and even of a supernatural thing. It was not like any of the other things; and the more we study it the less it looks like any of them

I have said that Asia and the ancient world had an air of being too old to die. Christendom has had the very opposite fate. Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a god who knew the way out of the grave. It is so true that three or four times at least in the history of Christendom the whole soul seemed to have gone out of Christianity; and almost every man in his heart expected its end.

The Church in the West was not in a world where things were too old to die; but in one in which they were always young enough to get killed

At least five times, with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died. How complete was the collapse and how strange the reversal, we cars only see in detail in the case nearest to our own time.

A thousand things have been said about the Oxford Movement and the parallel French Catholic revival; but few have made us feel the simplest fact about it; that it was a surprise. It was a puzzle as well as a surprise; because it seemed to most people like a river turning backwards from the sea and trying to climb back into the mountains.

In short, the whole world being divided about whether the stream was going slower or faster, became conscious of something vague but vast that was going against the stream. Both in fact and figure there is something deeply disturbing about this, and that for an essential reason. A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. A dead dog can be lifted on the leaping water with all the swiftness of a leaping hound; but only a live dog can swim backwards. A paper boat can ride the rising deluge with all the airy arrogance of a fairy ship; but if the fairy ship sails upstream it is really rowed by the fairies.

G K Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, The Five Deaths of the Faith

Jun 132010
 

A number of beings rushed over to the edge to pull my unconscious self onto the platform, and proceeded to administer what appeared to be some form of emergency operation.

My self was laid flat on its back – quite lifelessly, it seemed to my mind – as the angel beings, other souls, or whoever they were, ministered to it with lightening speed, bathing it in platinum light and then weaving a rainbow around it like a kind of shroud. Although they were working very quickly and very hard, this did take a certain amount of time.

Amazingly for the ‘I’ that was watching, shortly after the rainbow cocoon was finished, my self – or a being from what used to be what I’d previously seen of my self – was suddenly upright with an extremely energetic, instantaneous-seeming movement, and opened up a gigantic pair of transclucent white wings. In terms of the proportion of wings to body this being resembled a butterfly more than a bird, though it was clearly of human size, comparable to those others present.

The wings were white and looked feathery, the body was very, very slender and kind of golden-brown, with an elfin face that fizzed with energy and was neither smiling nor frowning but looked very intense, as if concentrating. Its hair – the same colour as the body – seemed to crackle with static electricity.

It looked like my self as a butterfly, but not exactly like me, it had narrower features. Energy pulsated through it as it hovered. I naturally thought it was Gabriel, for the simple reason that this was the name I’d just said, though at the same time I acknowledged that in actual appearance it was more like a spectacular fairy than anything else, to my mind at least.

May 022010
 

Fairy by Arthur Rackham

I wandered absent-mindedly into another room and without warning chanced upon the pair I sought – my reason with the fairy – although they did not see me at first for I remained out of view, the quietest of those present.

Both of them appeared to have changed clothes and had become somehow more real looking, which served to diminish their power in my eyes and deprive the sprite (as she had become) of the intensity of pure magical beauty.  Funny, then, that she attracted me somehow more strongly than when she had been composed entirely of fire and air.

The attraction was more basic though, for mingled with clay and water she seemed quite human, even if the golden hair, which had lost some of its length and lustre, still tumbled past her slender shoulders and glistened invitingly in the half-light.  She stood with her back to me, both hands joined with those of reason, who gazed at her in such complacent adoration that she did not see me at all.  I could not tell if they were dancing, making love or struggling with each other. Slight annoyance was mingled with an overwhelming desire to touch them both; I was totally beside myself and moved towards them determinedly.

As soon as I stepped forward they turned around quickly.  My reason beamed at me beatifically, “At last, you’re here, what on earth have you been doing, you were ages? We’ve been having a fantastic time!”

I acknowledged that the other one was less pleased to see me, but also that she grew lovelier once again as the weight of reason drew away from her.  The same reason moved languidly to my right and rested her head on my shoulder, “I love you”, she murmured softly, once again my modest companion. Fire grew in the sylph-like eyes of the other and with every inspiration she became more like the wind.

Subtly, almost imperceptibly, her robes changed again to the hue of dawn on a bed of blossom and the coils of hair unfurled into their pure golden streams.

I abandoned myself for an instant and lay down on the dewy carpet. As she spread her wings I closed my eyes and sighed in half-forgotten ecstasy, while the fairy bird leaped silently into the air and across our reclining figures, touching the surface of our skin with the hem of her gown as she passed us by on the scent of lilies and melted into the future night, rosy as clouds before dusk.

Was this the appearance of my passion?  I held it close as I lost consciousness and entered oblivious insight, soothed by the treasures of the sleeping mind.

May 012010
 

continued from The Fairy Guide…..

“We may go for a little while, but do not stray”

The whisper was like a fire in the night seen only by myself and I snapped out of the reverie I had fallen into.  It seemed that consciousness had not gone the same way as my reason and I was glad, then, for the voice of this unseen third behind me.

I had remembered him (or her, it was not clear) at the onset of the journey, for he had surely made himself known in my heart.  Was he, perhaps, a more faithful friend then reason, or at least a more reliable one?  I recognized the wisdom of the alternative to us all going along together and, as I did, the fairy looked with deeper interest at the longing brown-haired girl, and then back at me.  “Perhaps we two should go on ahead and you may follow later, if you wish?”

Although I could easily have gone along with them, this last was revealing itself as the best option.  As anything is possible within reason I judged that it would probably be  best to let her take the lead on this occasion, especially as she had clearly found something for which she had been looking. The fairy would soon lose interest in me if I remained passive and, with consciousness intact, I would not be likely to slip up as long as I remained vigilant.

The fairy smiled at me with those glittering eyes again and I felt a strange sensation. Inexplicably, I wanted to kiss her, and I leant towards her almost despite myself. I was so close that a silken strand of long hair, lifted by the wind, coiled around my neck and touched my bare back and I spoke quickly to cover my confusion.

“Thank you for taking care of my friend, I hope to join you both very shortly, I’m sure I will find my way to the Potter’s hearth, I’m sure it will be easy to find.  Maybe I could ask someone for directions..”

The fairy was spontaneously helpful for no apparent reason. “Have no fear”, she said, “his house is well hidden, but you shall find the way without having to look.  Follow your instincts, but remember to turn right; the way back here is not East of Eden.”

I was very glad of this kindness she had shown me in exchange for the companionship of my enchanted reason, which parted from my self with what I knew would soon become wanton abandon. I wondered if her preference for the elemental being was a form of betrayal or liberation.

Mar 212010
 
Sotheby's Collection

Turquoise and Diamond Parure, image by Sotheby's

I was certainly unprepared for a surprise invitation and looked around in a state of slight agitation, feeling myself pulled in two directions.

On the one  hand the fairy’s offer was like a welcome remedy to an inner disturbance and the creature herself was tempting.  Evidence of this was to be found in the demeanour of my companion, who had already moved slightly from my side and closer to that of the other, at whom she was now gazing in wonder.

I could see that her sense of reason was almost captivated and wondered how she could be so easily swayed.  For me own part, I did not wish to become beholden to creatures of the netherworld, however enticingly they appeared, and thought instead of continuing alone whilst within the walls of the city rather than go along as one with two and lose track of time.

Secretly, though, I was disconcerted at a potential parting of ways with the voice of reason, brown-haired and demure, strong in her white robes. The strange and beautiful place that we were in was full of danger for me and perhaps the opportunity to take instant refuge with one who had the freedom of the city should be taken up thankfully. If my reason was entranced, then maybe I should follow willingly, rather than be alone in my passion? Something held me back.

“Your offer is most kind, but I….I’m not sure, forgive me”.

My reason was now stroking her hair and I felt something slip away for the first time as the chill I could see in the air of the city shimmered into a warmer clime. I started to drift away and remembered how it had felt, in those days, to still belong – the cocoon of protection started to envelop me once again – was it true that I had been a citizen after all and that there was a way for me to wander these rare streets as if they were my own?

I felt resolved again in a new direction; it would be fine – why should we not go with her – for what purpose had we come, if not for adventure?

Mar 212010
 

Jacey Withers

I turned around swiftly, shaken from my reverie by the clear, bright voice that had mercifully prevented me from fully transforming into a fumbling classicist. There before me stood a most remarkable creature, smiling through the sunshine and shaking her lovely hair in the soft   summer breeze.

I couldn’t remember having actually seen a fairy before this occasion, although I had been almost sure of their existence and had longed to meet with one of their number for my entire life.  As such, I was slightly in awe of this one, maybe because she radiated the most extraordinary confidence through glorious green eyes that betrayed no sign of conscience whatsoever.

Or maybe because of her incredible beauty, which combined all the lightness of air with the alchemy of fire.

Fairies are elemental existences, emanations of the ethereal spirit, and they follow natural laws. I have heard that they have no allegiance to any but themselves and their fairy master and take great glee from high-jinx and trickery.

Quick-witted, easy to both anger and delight, fairies are beings that cannot be trusted beyond reason and must always be treated with caution, but who might also prove to be extremely helpful under the right circumstances.  Conversing them safely requires both impeccable intent and a certain degree of intelligence.

I recovered some of my sense and eyed this one authoritatively.

“Thank you ma’am, I was just daydreaming for a moment – this ancient city was part of my first youth and I’m trying to recall the way to the Elysium Fields”.

The vixen-like appearance of the elemental being softened perceptibly and her eyes lost their mischievous glitter.  “I see that you are a little confused, for surely it is not yet time for you to return.  Come, let me first take you to the Potter’s hearth for some light refreshment while you decide what to do for the best.”