Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Maiden of the May

This Maiden of the Maytime was inspired by the joyful Mayfair that happens close to where I live. There I watched my daughters make flower crowns and join in the Maypole dancing, and also pick  little gifts from the skirts of the pocket lady. This Fairy Queen of May offers her skirt pockets to nestle fairyland's young ones as they blossom into their dance of rainbows. 

I have gathered a few poems to weave amongst the pictures, and as inspiration and resource for Maytime celebrations.

In May I go a-walking to hear the linnet sing,
The blackbird and the throstle, a-praising everything,
It cheers the heart to hear them, to see the leaves unfold,
And the meadows scattered over with buttercups of gold.
- a song my mother sang to me and I to my children
The fair maid who, the first of May 
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.
- Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
"What is now the foliage moving? 
Air is still, and hush'd the breeze,
Sultriness, this fullness loving, 
Through the thicket, from the trees.
Now the eye at once gleams brightly, 
See! the infant band with mirth
Moves and dances nimbly, lightly,
As the morning gave it birth, 
Flutt'ring two and two o'er earth."
- Wolfgang Goethe, May 815
But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds and garlands gay,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother,
I'm to be Queen o' the May.
-  Alfred Lord Tennyson, from The May Queen, 

Oh! that we two were Maying 
Down the stream of the soft spring breeze;
Like children with violets playing,
In the shade of the whispering trees.
- Charles Kingsley
Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves; 
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
- John Keats
"Winter is many months of the year
But now at last Maytime is here;
And birds sing from a leafy screen
In the trees and hedgerow freshly green;
And the wood-anemone is out in the shade,
With its blushing petals which too soon fade;
Once more the bracken is unfurling there,
And bluebells gently perfume the damp air."
-  Veronica Ann Twells, Maytime
MAY! queen of blossoms, 
And fulfilling flowers, 
With what pretty music 
Shall we charm the hours? 
Wilt thou have pipe and reed, 5 
Blown in the open mead? 
Or to the lute give heed 
In the green bowers? 

Thou hast no need of us, 
Or pipe or wire; 10 
Thou hast the golden bee 
Ripen'd with fire; 
And many thousand more 
Songsters, that thee adore, 
Filling earth's grassy floor 15 
With new desire. 

Thou hast thy mighty herds, 
Tame and free-livers; 
Doubt not, thy music too 
In the deep rivers; 20 
And the whole plumy flight 
Warbling the day and night— 
Up at the gates of light, 
See, the lark quivers!

- Edward Thurlow, May
- Here’s a branch of snowy may,
A branch the fairies gave me.
Who would like to dance today
With the branch the fairies gave me?

Dance away, dance away.
Holding high the branch of may.

Dance away, dance away.
Holding high the branch of may
-from Waldorf school Maypole celebrations
Red, yellow, green and blue
Dancing ribbons weave with you.
Round the maypole, dance and skip
Under, over, lift and dip.
Flowers, garlands, May Day clothes
Coloured ribbons, dainty bows.
Yellow, red, blue and green
The brightest maypole you have seen!
 - Brenda Williams Colourful Maypole

Tiptoe around the fairy ring
Posies and bluebells, scattering
Songs of the wee folk we will sing
Laughter and dancing, what we bring.

Cross tightrope web with arms flung wide
Mice and butterflies, seek and hide
Windflowers standing tall with pride
Buttercups nestled by their side.

Whispering trees play flute in breeze
Courtly toads bow from bended knees
Dragonflies waltz with practiced ease
Through open doors that need not keys.

All the kinfolk gather now
To share in evergreen’s cacao
And join in solstice chanting sough
To sip sweet nectar, cupped in bough

Voices raised in tender descant
The tallest stag to smallest ant
To praise for blessing’s dear regrant
For ev’ry being, life and plant

Daffodil chariots parade
With rainbow maypoles in the glade
Fairy children in clear ponds wade
Entranced with kingdom, fairy-made

- J.C. Edwards, Fairy Children

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A snow princess journeys through lands of wonder, towards the heart of winter

There is a way of being, a dreamy space, of not quite here or there, where a leaf through the window playing in the wind, or the dance of sunlight on lace can hold you floating suspended in time.
It is a space that often surrounds us when energy for other busier pursuits is lacking, and in convalescence. It is where I found myself when she started coming, hinting at her own existence through the beauty that I was seeing in a slightly more mesmerised way - in that way that children see otherworldly beings when they are not fully present themselves, and that we sometimes sense when holding them through illness or other self-altering situations.
Perhaps she needed that space, the extended time of possibility to bring me the keys to her wonderland, and to have me believe, for it was to be the unfolding of an journey of time and endeavour, and my heart needed to to be in it.
Had she not permeated my heart, I may never have followed her into this unknown unplanned place, and yet still there were many times when I nearly gave up, for fear of not managing to bring that which was as ethereal as melting snowflakes into cloth, and from the economic unreasonableness of hours slipping softly endlessly away....
And yet this journey was of beautiful discovery, and is in its sharing here and along the way, an offering of small and tender peace. 
As a child, the time of Advent was always one of the very magical festivals for me. We would go for a walk and gather moss and fallen treasure from the forest floor, and then create our Advent garden in the living room.  On the first Sunday of Advent there would be, there behind the garden, an advent calendar made by my mother. Each door hid a painted picture, a transparency or was itself an opening cave made from layers of back-lit tissue paper with a little gnome or such dwelling inside. This was a time in which wonder layered upon wonder around that space. 
It was this sense of opening into awe that the snow princess rekindled in me as I began to create her wintry land, and it was also the feeling of reverence for the elements of earth, water, wind and fire, which my mother in her wisdom had woven into our advent experience.
As a child, the first week of advent honoured the beings of the earth, and the garden and the doorways to open held gnomes and crystals, wee felted woodland animals and other such treasures. In the second week, mother of pearl shells appeared overnight in amongst the moss holding water for small pools – One of the most wonder-filled memory of advent for me was of finding a real little lizard swimming in a shell pool in the garden one morning when we lived in France, it was a warm year and this little creature had come in from outside – can you imagine the joy! 

The sylphs, elementals of air floated in in the third week with glass bells, and beautiful feathers, and the fire fairies brought as close to the heart of winter with their glowing candles. 
 It was this relationship to the element within advent-tide which was the most deeply true part of the festival for me as a child, and it was this part which I kept and grew from as a mother when creating an winter garden of reverence building towards the lights of Chanukah, for my own children, in our celebration of the Jewish festivals at home. 
As I listened to the snow princess’ whispered dreamy wishes, of the world enveloped in snow, still, yet still breathing its elemental essences, it was this same reverence that stole over me. 
It was only in discussion with my mother towards the completion this unfolding wonderland, that I discovered that the prominence of honouring the elements and their beings was something that she brought to the festival of herself and that it was not integral to Advent for many people, or within all Waldorf schools or even to every kindergarten teacher, which she had been before becoming a mother. 
And yet this relationship to the interweaving qualities of nature was there in every inspiration, in every stitch, in every pause as I followed the snow princess’ secrets. The Unicorns came to pull the sleigh first, and I heard their hooves sometimes tapping along frost hard paths, sometimes silent in snow.
After they had done their part carrying the princess along, waiting at each day's step while she peeped into a crystal hidden beneath the ice of a frozen puddle, or discovered a treasure chest within a sparkling snowy cave; the dolphins seemed to arrive of themselves to draw her sleigh through the following watery days, stopping to discover ice skates amongst icicles and a crown behind frozen water droplets. 
It was the winds of great untamed plains who brought the tiny baby for the princess to encounter, being rocked by the song of bell skirted angels, and the delight of recognition I felt in both of them as I set up the picture was one of the very touching moments of this creating. 

Then the lion with his warmth came at a time when in the world at large, qualities of courage, love, strength and dignity felt especially poignant. 
One of the last parts of this story-land to become was the dwelling of the princess, placed at the beginning of the journey; and that of the prince, which waits until the last week of Advent to be opened. It seemed retrospectively that this two into one button heart shaped yurt was waiting specifically for and to be the culmination and completion.
However until I got out the silk paints and the snowflakes grew onto the two parts of the roof, what this was to be and how it was to work was completely frustratingly unknown to me, it was only in trusting the surrounding atmosphere that the what and the way to bring it to be, was shown...
And then in its simplicity it formed the centre of this becoming, 
both for play...
and of the this story of gratitude and love for the world of earth, water, wind and fire.
The story of the snow princess and her journey through her snowy land of wonder at Advent tide, as she opens magical doorways and peeps into frozen puddles can be seen here.

The song within the video is from my childhood and the poem was given to me by my mother from her notebook, in response to this winter's journey. 

Velvet shoes by Elinor Wylie

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space
With footsteps quiet and slow
At a tranquil pace
Under veils of white lace

I shall go shoed in silk
And you in wool
White as white cow's milk
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace
We shall step upon white down
Upon silver fleece
Upon softer than these

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Of living story and warming Apple Cake

A story to fall in love with...

I first came across this story book when my children were still too young for its written length. Yet the pictures are so beautifully full of the feeling of the story that it is completely possible to tell the happenings with a few words whilst soaking up the old woman’s nature as she goes along on her search for apples to make her delicious apple cake - for which there is a recipe on the back. This cake is more like bread and requiring time to rise, and somehow even within its baking the gradual accumulating warmth of the old woman’s being is reflected.

The singing of this song of wonder about the the dreams of apple pips whilst preparing the fruit for the cake seemed also to extend and contribute to filling the room with cherishing. 
My nice red rosy apple 
Has a secret hid unseen. 
You’d see if you could look inside 
Five rooms so neat and clean. 
In each room there are living 
Two pips so black and bright. 
Asleep they are a-dreaming 
Of lovely warm sunlight. 
Perhaps it was the very process of initially telling rather than reading the story which allowed me to be aware of holding its message within myself whilst the atmosphere surrounded us on the story telling cushions. By the time they were old enough to want all the words I had developed an awareness of my children's highly perceptive natural aversion to any deliberate enforcement of moral message.

And so, though this story holds the feeling of the importance of giving what you have to give, of relationship with the wishes and needs of others, and of the golden rule of return as well as many other nuances of moments of a day and life;
I ensured that I always told it as a story of an old woman who wakes up with a real wish for an apple cake and of all the different people she meets and exchanges gifts with along the way.

This is one of those stories that dwells in you, remaining and growing simply as a warm embrace..

This summer I re-read it for myself before taking a copy to a dear family friend who’s generosity has been there through moments of life since my childhood; her large staircase wooden where I used to sit and draw, her little high up room of holiday sleeps, her cooking, were all imbued with the same gentle comfort as this story book, which she will now in her kindness give to her grandchild.
In re-reading this story and reabsorbing the expressions on this old woman’s face I experienced new tones of resonance, pertinent personally, and in my connected belonging to womankind within the struggles of relationship between people in the world and the constant concern for sufficiency…
In trust the world is bountiful and plentiful as are our hearts, and interactions in kindness sustain not only that which is a necessity of survival but those small satisfying wishes that in their fulfilment render us grateful for life

And it is in this spirit that I share my telling of some parts of the story

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A little picture diary of precious moments with a dear wee one and her magical collecting basket

On the first day we met...
Oh how happy this dear wee one is to have a new collecting basket for her walks and adventures. It is a gift from a spidery lace maker who's web she protected the other day. 
Stepping lightly she glimpses a beautiful treasure, a raindrop glistening on a baby rose leaf...such magic is not easy to gather, but perhaps through the delicate hoping of her heart it might slip into her basket?

The next morning....
No rain has fallen since yesterday....but oh my can you see, such wonder is still here, this collecting basket must be as magical as her heart.

When the sunshine came out to play with her....
Skipping along in the sunshine today, her toes barely stop in time when they find themselves amongst tiny purple petals.
She has to tip her face right back to see when the softness is drifting down from...
High high above in the blue sky, amongst a gentle humming she can see a little treasure beginning to float its way to earth.
Oh so tenderly she fills her gathering basket with this gift and then she plays at adding decorating patterns to her sparkly skirt

On a delicious afternoon......

Climbing climbing oh so high, she is taking care to hold on tight, while she picks the tenderest tiniest mint leaves and fills her little basket. Such special collecting she is doing today, all for the kindness of helping her friend the ice cream maker who needs these delicious leaves to make her favourite flavoured treat

One moonlit night....
She had found a lovely place to watch the moon, and maybe she was starting to drift to sleep a little. Then through sleepy eyes she saw something sparkle, a silvery dream seemed to be floating closer perhaps a gift from the moon who was watching over her

When she showed me her most precious foundling....
For the last couple of days she seems to have been hiding, now and again I have heard tiny running steps, but when I stopped what I was doing and tried to see, everything became suddenly very quite and still. This evening though she must have been in a hurry, because she made quite a lot of scuttle and I was able to follow the sound, right into a little red bonnet. 
And there I saw... she has made her little collecting basket into a rocking cradle...
Very very gently I asked and after quite a while she let me hold, the most delicate fairy babe I've ever seen, where she came from who can tell...

This wee one is now on her way home to play.
These diary entries were first offered day by day on The Magic Fairy facebook page