This month's edition of the online magazine Amethyst carries one of my poems, check it out and the magazine's other content here:
Perceval is confused and grief stricken when the Grieving Maiden berates him for not asking whom the grail serves, then tells him his mother has died. Meanwhile King Arthur sets out to find Perceval and celebrate his deeds, and Perceval meets Morgana for the first time ...
Perceval wakes to find the castle deserted, he wants to ask about the grail, and follows tracks into the forest, but all he finds is a maiden grieving over her lover ...
Coherence means the quality of forming a unified whole. We experience coherence in relationship with a caring partner, a close friend or mentor. These relationships are balanced, reciprocal. We are each different individuals, but we have a sense of meaningful relatedness, one which nurtures and expands the fundamental sense of ourself. We feel part of a unified whole. We can also experience coherence when we walk through buildings that have been well-designed. We respond to the proportions of their physical space, and are able to find our way around with ease, feeling on both counts again a sense of meaningful relationship. And we may find the way some one writes or speaks coherent. Their ideas are logically consistent and hold together, their arguments are clear and make sense so that we understand what they mean.
But the cornerstone of coherence is the experience of being a unified whole in our own right as individuals. This is a potential available to us as human beings because we have two aspects to our identity. We have an inner self, and a personality self. And in this book I want to show how it is the meaningful relationship between these two aspects that opens the space of coherence in us, with its percolating lift of relief and perspective, which then leads to coherence in how we think and what we create.
The modern west mostly ignores the presence of our inner self, so that its potential lurks like the proverbial elephant in the room that no one talks about. Only this elephant is not just in a room, it is in the entire social and cultural world we inhabit. Alan Watts described this syndrome as a taboo:
"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing or what you really are ..”
from ‘The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’
To acknowledge the inner self goes against a prevailing orthodoxy that takes its cue from scientific reductionism which sees the world as material only, including human beings. According to this view, our minds, emotions and personalities are just electrical firings in the brain cells. Scientific reductionism has coalesced out of interpretations of the theory of evolution, psychology and genetics. The end result is the notion that we, like the rest of the flora and fauna, are biological survival mechanisms, driven by the imperative of genes that want to reproduce themselves.
But this interpretation of the life-sciences has not kept pace with the discoveries of quantum physics which showed, over a hundred years ago, that matter is not simply material because at the sub-atomic level particles appear to be temporary energy waves appearing and disappearing out of a vast ocean of deeper energy. Therefore the advance guard of science, which is physics, tells us that something else is in the mix, and that all of matter is interwoven with an energetic or non-material aspect. And on this basis alone, the scientific reductionist approach is incoherent because it is not logically consistent with the findings of physics.
In my own experience, the existence of a deeper aspect of myself has always been obvious, and characterizing humans as highly complex biological survival systems seems a bizarrely narrow view. But more importantly, I believe that because this view is incoherent, it leads to incoherence in our thought and actions both as individuals and as a society. This is because it conditions us to think of ourselves as what I term the personality self only, defined by the sum total of the nature and nurture elements allotted to us. As a result, we mostly override the presence of our inner self, discount its promptings and thereby drain life of its deeper meaning.
First I have to create the 'world', ie, the scene in the diorama, and sometimes each section of action can require a different set up: such as creating 'hills' (boxes draped with brown and green cloth) or woods (I go and prune my hedges) or castle interiors (I use an array of clothes, decorative details, Led lights) - then I may have to make a costume for the 3 3/4 " figures, add a cloak, or headdress, and this is tricky because they are so small, then I have to take a load of photos, check which ones will work (ie, are not out of focus or don't work for other reasons), finding poses/close-ups for each line of dialogue, stage direction or sound effect. Then these photos have to be photoshopped into the 'Coloured Pencil' effect. I also have to search on wiki commons, or my own photos, including some which my children or husband have taken, and combine these with the photos of the figures in the diorama, to create a rough time line on i-photo slide show. Then, my husband Jon, who is a film maker, imports the timeline into Final Cut Pro, and adjusts the time line and edits of the photos, adding FX/cuts/connections, to make it all work, puts in the titles and credits, and uploads to YouTube!
In this episode Perceval does find the grail in the castle home of the Wounded Fisher King. Meanwhile, Morgana, the narrator, plays psychotherapist to the Wounded King, probing why he has caused so much destruction in his many guises ...
Published by Awen Press
Gods are forces with which we as mortal humans eternally engage. This is the fundamental insight writer Lindsay Clarke explores in his new collection of poems:
“Where is the habitation of the gods
if not in us? And where are we if not
inside the mysteries they perpetrate
about us and around?”
And in particular, as the title tells us, these poems are about the multi-faceted, shifting forces embodied by the winged god Hermes - messenger god of thresholds and trade, guide of travelers and of the newly dead, part unreliable trickster, part helpful companion. In addition to these attributes and roles, Hermes holds the Caduceus, entwined with two snakes, which is associated with healing and, as precursor to the magic wand, with the transformative powers of the imagination. Hermes, inventor of the lyre, also represents music and poetry. And in his many guises, moods and roles Hermes represents the spontaneous dance of our creative potential.
In addition to a foreword by Jules Cashford (translator of The Homeric Hymns for Penguin), there is a helpful introduction by Clarke, in which he lays out a condensed
yet clear overview of the evolution of Hermes from primitive times to his appearance in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes around the 7th century BC, through to the western Hermetic tradition, an influence vital to the Renaissance and its alchemical underpinning.
Clarke also recounts how, inspired by his friend John Moat’s “life lived in service to the Imagination” which Moat equated with the figure of Hermes, Clarke wrote a poem for his friend called ‘Koinos Hermes”
light-fingered god of crossways, transit,
emails and exchange, the wing-heeled, shifty
wheeler-dealing go-between, who’ll slip right
through your fingers if you try to pin
him down. For he is labile, street-wise
This poem, which now begins the collection, catalyzed what Clarke modestly terms the “procession of poems, verses, squibs - call them what you like -” that comprise these 50 pages of poetry. The poem’s tone and its form of set the style for the poems that followed in a swift and easy way “almost by dictation”.
Clarke explains that not only in this collection’s content and form but also in the manner of its emergence the nature of the god is present and at work. The verses roll
along in carefree, sometimes careless ease of movement in which moments of literary buffoonery:
“What he loves
best is to astound the mind with such deceptive
art as brings about true transformation,
and it’s the virtue of his wand to wide-awaken
into lucid dreams of the Imagination
those who don’t yet see we are myth-taken.”
mingle with lines of soul touching lucidity:
“He oversees the drowsy and the comatose,
has heard the chimes at midnight and will
act as a prison visitor to those for whom
the lonely stretches before dawn become
the penitentiary of mind.”
And deft light-handed wisdom:
“For nothing speaks more truly than a dream,
and where else (asks Hermes), in the jangle
of a time so fast to change that even
wisdom seems redundant, shall we keep
those secrets that the soul discloses
for our welfare while we sleep?”
While the gods are alive, so are we, and while Hermes dances, no one can take over our imagination. Many thanks to Anthony Nanson of Awen for making this life-affirming collection available from one of our great lyric masters of language.
Perceval has found his way to the center of the grail story: encountering both the source
of the world's ills and their cure.
The Wounded Fisher King is an archetype that represents the current dominant value system: mindless more is better. Many figures from recent and not so recent history embody him - in this 9th episode of 'Perceval & the Grail" we draw closer to understanding what it means to heal the wound of the Fisher King
Let me know what you think, subscribe if you'd like to support my work -
Very excited that two new books of mine will be presented at the London International Book Fair next week - one is a nonfiction book, called Coherence: using archetype and the quantum worldview to understand our creative power; another is a novel The Labyrinth in the Village, which retells the grail myth in contemporary Wales, aimed at young adults - but adults will like it too. Finally, my original nonfiction book, The Return of King Arthur will also be offered again for reprinting! Hopefully this will mean it can also become an e-book option as some have asked me whether there was an e-book version. Here is the original cover, I always think Tarcher did a beautiful job: