Dreaming of Christina

•June 1, 2008 • 11 Comments

young-christina.jpg“We are such stuff As Dreams are made on” ~ William Shakespeare

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my mother’s passing. I remember the first anniversary of her death as a bittersweet celebration of her life, in which I sheltered like a hermit crab. The second year passed on a swell of faith and joy.  But now the third year had ushered in a cold loneliness and the guilt of fading Grief.

Grief returned near the end of the second show of the day. I was standing on stage and looking up into the light when I realised that I couldn’t sing. I needed a sign that she was still with me in spirit. Not a sign born of self-delusion, but one that would bring me close to her again.

I phoned my ex-wife Liz in the break between the shows. Liz immediately told me that she had been sorting out her VHS cassette collection that afternoon, when she discovered a tape she had neglected to label. She put it on – to discover it was a tape of my mother I had left the last time Christina and I visited her.                

“She looked so strong and healthy” said Liz.                                          

I felt so much better, but I was unprepared for the second sign.           I awoke suddenly at around three in the morning, in the middle of a vivid dream…

We were sitting in the back of a large limousine and speeding along a highway that rose and fell as if we were riding on a roller coaster, a ‘big dipper’ as she used to call them. Christina sat with me to my right and as I looked across at her and beyond, I could see a beautiful blue sky above the ocean and  the sunlight sparkling like stars around her head.                                                                                                                                                                                

“This is where I live” I said.                                                              

When we arrived at my home, which I did not recognise, I made her comfortable in a big house. But I knew that she would soon leave.  Then I heard an urgent voice: “She’s going to die.”

I rushed to Christina’s bedside and cupped her head in my hands. Around me were women all weeping for my mother.  I knew I could help her live and gradually I felt her heartbeat flutter and then begin to grow and travel up my arms until it became mine. Her eyes opened and they were beautiful. I could feel the joy all around me as I held all of her inexplicably in my hands. Then her gaze looked upward, and so I lifted her…

…until I was alone in the grey dawn above the granite city.

After breakfast I decided to have one last stroll through Aberdeen, before catching my flight home to Coventry. Maybe it was the sudden change in the weather that made me turn into the bookshop or maybe it was a gentle nudge, but I found myself reaching for a book that attracted me and looking at the preface.

“What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you dreamed, and what if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you had the flower in your hand?  Ah, what then?” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It was the third joy.


The Tree of Life

•May 18, 2008 • 13 Comments

It was early Sunday morning and I had driven overnight from Glasgow.  I knew that if I went straight home, sleep would ambush me and I would wake around 4 o’clock in the afternoon with that awful feeling of having ‘missed the day’. So I decided to go and see Martin’s Oak.

The sky was turning a dusty rose as I turned off the ignition and the silence after hours of engine noise was startling. I wound down the window and breathed in the heady smell of the morning air, as I watched the dusty-rose light growing in the east.

The light was increasing rapidly, so I finished the sandwich and coffee I had bought along the way and set off across the field towards the Oak. matins1 

The power of the Oak is immense and demands respect. The first time I approached the ancient tree of life, I felt a living spirit and an aura which radiated far beyond it’s branches. Yet this morning I felt a difference, the Oak seemed like a child waiting for it’s father – for it’s Creator. Like a priest turning towards the altar, the Oak stood, as if waiting for a greater power.

I approached quietly and stood beside the ancient trunk. 

…From under the arms of the sacred tree and safe within it’s aura, I looked out over the lagoon of mist that filled the valley and the dawn breaking in the east.


under the oak copyright 

then I saw the Miracle

the sun god (2) copyright 

and then


my camera power ran out.

For a moment my elation was replaced with despair –  suddenly I remembered  a set of batteries I had bought some time ago and which had gone missing. Perhaps they were in the car. I turned and ran across the field, like a best man at a wedding who has forgotten the ring, with the mocking harsh laughter of the crows, the smokey hoot of a woodpigeon and a teasing chorus of twittering laughter from the hidden nests in the ancient forest.

I reached the car and thrust my hand into the mass of luggage on the rear seat…

…and found them.


the oak from the car copyright

I turned and ran back toward the tree; the light of the sun was now blinding, so I veered to the right so that the sun would be behind the oak – and skidded to a stop. I was out of breath but my hands were shaking for another reason, as I took photograph after photograph…

the oak womb copyright

“I am the tree of life”

  born again copyrightthe rising sun copyright   












“and  I am the Sun born over and over “

  amen copyright      




souls and fireworks

•April 10, 2008 • 13 Comments

485px-2006_Fireworks_15-1When the war ended, my parents rented three rooms in what must have been the servants quarters of a crumbling but still impressive building.

Riverside House stood, in all it’s pebble-dashed and whitewashed glory, near the boathouse on the banks of the River Wear in Durham. The three small rooms had no running water and no electricity, but my parents filled the house with so much love that I was proud to be the only child at school who had gas lighting and who could, just like the cowboys, dip his cup into the large urn of water that stood by the kitchen sink. 

My evenings were spent in the amber glow of the two gas mantles, that hung on the wall above our fireplace.  My mother would read to me , as we sat toasting our feet on the hearth of the open coal fire in the enchanted living-room, with the night-creatures of my young imagination, dancing and flickering in the hot coals by our feet.

On stormy nights, my parents would turn off the gas and as the mantles dimmed through red to darkness, we would sit and watch the forked lightening rip and tear at the sky, as the grove of trees behind the house howled and roared at the disturbing wind.

In the summer, my parents would take me to watch the firework display that ended the Durham Regatta. I enjoyed “Boat Race Day” with it’s  contests between the blazer-clad teams of posh-voiced university students, but my anticipation and excitement was reserved for the firework display that ended the festival. The show would begin with WhizzBangs and Catherine Wheels, but the best moment of the display was always saved for the finale, when a mass of rockets would curve upward and then burst like gigantic flowers across the night sky.

When it was her turn to go, my mother’s soul opened and wrapped me in a cloud of everything she had been, before she flashed into the darkness and dissolved into the stars.  

When the firework display had ended, we would carefully pick our way back along the darkening river banks toward home, with the distant rumble in our ears, whispering the promise of another show before bed-time.

No trace remains of the old house by the river banks. The tall trees have long gone and the wind laments, as it moans and swirls through the concrete pillars and the empty vaults of the multi-storey car park that now covers the suffocating earth.

Sometimes when I am quiet and open, she returns with the house and the trees and we sit together in the warm glow, just as we did so many years ago.


(firework illustration – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:2006_Fireworks_15.JPG)

yes…it’s Wikimedia

Durham Regatta  Google Images

14th March ~ A Sacred Song for Christians and Pagans

•March 14, 2008 • 2 Comments


(photo (c)soulMerlin/henry metcalfe) I took it one very early morning around two weeks ago – the dew is real and not faked by a sprinkler 🙂  

One of my favourite hymns has always been “Morning Has Broken” by Eleanor Farjeon. It was my favourite hymn as a child and continues to be so. I included it in my mother’s funeral service, together with “Jerusalem” and I never fail to be ‘lifted’ by the lyrics, which I feel can be enjoyed by both Christians and Muslims and also by those who follow the ‘Wild Soul’ of the ancient Pagan ways. I really cannot think of a Faith which would not respond to the natural reverence of Eleanor’s lyrics

The first line “Morning has broken like the first morning” never fails to move me and lines such as “praise for the secrets of the wet garden”, “like the first dewfall” and especially “God’s recreation of the new day”, show a spirituality which I think can be shared by all people, irrespective of their faith or belief.

It is significant to me that the song/hymn was recorded by the singer Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) who turned his back on fame to become a headmaster and a devout Muslim. Yusuf came to see our West-End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat a few years ago and sat smiling in the front row – a simple and unpublicised visit which showed a unity of faith and belief that is much needed at present.

(here’s a short version with illustrations of Spring)


(and now the full version with Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam)


Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day

lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon


Eleanor Farjeon shows a natural spirituality and a love of nature in her work. A prolific writer, she has in my opinion, not only crossed over, but has taken up the tramlines that separate creed and culture. I looked her up in Wikipedia discovered that one of her first books was ‘Pan-Worship and Other Poems (1908)’


I think that many of us have cause to thank her for the lyrics of such a beautiful song




the term “Wild Soul” is taken from “Living Druidry” by Emma Restall Orr, Head of the international Druid Network


13th February 2008 ~ The Lure of the Night

•February 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

There is something wild about the night

I become a small child, listening to a story of a nymph and a goblin

of creatures that reflect the twilight nature of my secret self



Overheard on a Salt Marsh

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.

Give them me. Give them me.

Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man’s fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I want them.

I will howl in the deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.

harold munro



A Lost-Love Spell at Bedtime

•December 18, 2007 • 3 Comments


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Night-time is when the pain of a lost-love is often at it’s greatest. Instead of pacing around in a cloud of self-indulgent grief, perhaps it’s better to do something constructive and Weave a Spell.

When you go to bed – no matter how much you’re grieving, go through this simple process if you want another chance…..

The One Last Chance Spell

Lie in bed and relax totally.

Check your hands and arms – Feet and legs and gradually relax until your body seems to melt into the bed.

After a while (5 to 15mins or even more if your really tense and upset)

Become aware of your breathing; In through the mouth and out through the nose; regular and steady.

Don’t over-ventilate – Just steady breathing.

With each exhalation, visualize your breath as creating a red ball-shaped mist in the air above you

Each exhalation increases the density of the “ball”

Your breath is red – full of Love and Passion.

See your lovers face in the middle of the red-mist ball

Don’t use words (this is my own method, as I do not personally respond to quasi-medieval incantations) just see your lover and send out feelings of love to him or her.

Wordlessly create within yourself the desire that your lost-love will think of you and miss you

Near the end of the spell, repeat in your mind “another chance please”

(but try to do it wordlessly – just the emotion – make sure you are not being intrusive and manipulative – it’s only a chance not a contract)


realise that a return may not be the best for your lover and honour that realisation

“but only if you wish”

(see your Lover clearly – even if it hurts to visualise them)

Now inhale and swallow the red ball

Finish with

“I Love you”

Have Faith and Go to Sleep.


The next day, spend some time analysing why your lover left you. If it is your fault (any fault) resolve to change your ways – Do that and wait in full optimism for their return.

If they return (and they almost always will) resolve not to make the same mistakes again – there is no second chance.

illustration: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:AntonioCanova_PsycheRevivedByCupidsKiss.JPG


15/Nov/07~A Selfish Spell at Dawn…

•November 16, 2007 • 1 Comment

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Around 1982, I had a young friend called Heather. Heather was a dancer in a show I choreographed, which was billed as the premier summer spectacular of Margate’s finest moments, but for some reason (maybe the reason is obvious) failed to attract more than a handful of people each day, despite having Norman Vaughan (remember ‘roses grow on you’?) and “The Great Soprendo” a magician, who was in fact Chris Durham, the husband of Victoria Wood and also Renee and Renato of the one hit “Save Your Love”.


Heather was in love with a young singer called Ralph, who after first becoming very close and attentive to Heather, had recently drawn more distant and unloving. My young friend was determined to regain the full focus of his attentions and confided her love-plight to me.

As it happened, I was also in the midst of my own love-plight drama; I was it love with a dark eyed nymph who resembled (almost exactly) Jennifer Beals on the poster of Flashdance; the nymph however, seemed to be dancing ever further from the heat of my own passion. Heather and I discussed the similarities of our love problems and decided to combine forces and invoke a love spell to end all invocations of the heart.

I have always had a fascination with the occult and with ‘otherworlds’. I can remember when I was quite small – around three years old – having a recurring nightmare fantasy of what was named by CS Lewis, as That Hideous Strength. I can recall the drum-beats of Hell rumbling toward me in my half-sleep and of a fear of Evil that was a confrontation too far for the small mite I then was. I had a florid imagination, fired by the beginning of an ability that I didn’t really understand and consequently treated like a game. I was indeed “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”; unaware of just how potent a spell could be and of it’s affect on people’s lives.

In full “apprentice” mode, I looked up love spells in a variety of esoteric books I had collected and in a Grimoire I had bought by mail order, and found a spell to be performed at the first light of dawn, whilst facing the East and the rising sun.

Heather knocked on my door at around 4.15 am and we set off toward a park I had spotted, complete with four golden candles which I had purified with salt for the previous twenty-four hours and the Grimoire which contained the ritual invocation we were to chant as the first rays of the sun broke the dark horizon.

I can remember trying to light the candles – after half a box of matches and a sudden lull in the busy little breeze, I managed to get all four lit. Together Heather and I acknowledged the four directional powers and turned our full attention to the east and to its element of Air and the yellow-gold aura symbolized by the now spluttering candles.
I must admit to feeling a little foolish as Heather and I stood, chanting our invocation to draw our respective lovers back to us, but the expression on Heather’s face showed that was fully intent on the task in hand and so together we chanted the invocation a full seven times, until the breeze grew and extinguished the candles one by one.

The results were almost immediate; by the evening, Ralph had phoned Heather and arranged a night out and I had also been contacted by the Nymph, who was intent on coming down from Scotland to see me that weekend.

It would be nice to say that all ended in happy togetherness, but it didn’t. Both our partners seemed almost zombie-like in their attachments to us and not entirely happy. It was as if they were compelled to be with us, against their own will. As the following days passed, the happy reunions Heather and I had desired had turned to a numb listlessness.

And then it ended. The sad thing was that I no longer felt the same about my Jennifer Beals look-alike and Heather was glad to wave goodbye to Ralph.

In the final analysis, there seems little difference between a Spell and a Prayer – both work – but a Spell is often (due to the motivation of the practitioner) more selfish.

Then again – how many selfish Prayers have you made?

Perhaps they were Spells and you didn’t realise it.

Both Spells and Prayers have immense power

copyright-free photograph “Red Dawn” from Wikimedia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Red_sunrise_-_swifts_creek.jpg