Reflections

Edge-walking, fringe-dwelling, and beating the bounds.

Give me a roadtrip, and I’ll give you a materia medica, or a treatise on the human condition.

Over the decades, I’ve traversed thousands of kilometres of this great land, as well as a few others, witnessed changing landscapes – both the natural progression from lush forest to sparse plains, and in contrast, the progressive sprawl of sub-urban ‘civilisation’ with it’s cartoon-realism of boxes upon boxes of bland and generic blergh. One thing that I’m constantly drawn to however, is the ever-changing edge.  Edges of riverbanks, creeks, beaches, mountains, paddocks, and road-sides. Interesting things happen on the edges. Diverse things. Eco-systems in and of themselves. Sub-cultures and sassy wilderness.

 

I started pondering this recently as we made the annual road trip there and back to take and fetch my eldest son from Summer camp. The area where the camp is also hosts the invasive but ever useful St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). It just happens to be blooming and at it’s medicinal peak at the exact time of year we drop our offspring off. So, if time permits, I take the opportunity to harvest the flowers – usually to infuse a deep ruby-hued nerve-nourishing, wound-healing, oil. But other green beings grow on the road-side and fence-line as well – mullein, fennel, yarrow, hawthorn, willow, apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, plantain, dandelions, prickly pear……..

and amidst the green abundance, myself.

 

I’ve been living on the fringe ever since I can remember. Growing up, the spiritual beliefs of my family had in various ways meant that we didn’t really fit the norm of the greater community of those on a similar path, or the community as a whole. This often frustrated me. I found it difficult enough to think or express myself like others did. And spiritual beliefs aside, my natural introversion and propensity to simply observe, gave me ample opportunity to do so. And so observe I did.

And observe I continue to do.

And I continue to look at the edges, fringes, and boundaries of things.

People included.

Because interesting things happen on the fringe.

Is it any wonder then, that I married a man whose life motto is, “if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room”?

 

So I began to reflect on this fringe-dwelling, edge-walking, bound-beating life of mine.

As a doula, I stood at the edges, holding the space for women and their babies to find their own way in the world, simultaneously holding back shadows. I’m there but I’m not there.

As a herbalist, I exist in that ‘hedgerow’ between plant and person, between wild and civilised, between hopelessness and hope, but also gleaning the meaning, the motivation, that lies at the edge of humanity, in the shadows of the bodymind that sits in front of me.

Ironically, even within these realms, I am a fringe-dweller, a radical, who witnesses both the noble services of birthwork and traditional herbalism being appropriated by the reductionist, relentless, and horribly homogenous mainstream.

As a mother, I am the edge, the boundary between child and world.

And so it goes.

 

As I have grown older, I have come to terms with my intrinsic fringe-dwelling, my inherent need to study the edges.

If you take a walk with me, don’t think I’m being rude, I’ll be listening to you, but I’ll also be watching the road-side. Simultaneously watching for the wildness that dances there, and I’ll be listening to what it says too.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share with you the weeds and the wonders that I observe, where often nobody bothers to look.

Because interesting things happen on the edge.

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Musings, Reflections, Spirituality

Do you Xanadu?

So, only 70’s children and die-hard Olivia Newton-John fans will get the title of this post, so if this doesn’t apply to you then I apologise profusely and offer you my deepest sympathies. You’ve missed out on something special.

 

 

Let’s talk Magic for a minute. Not the sugar-coated Disney-kind or the woo woo supernatural Harry Potter kind, or even the dark and iffy Aleister Crowley kind. Let’s talk the rainbows, unicorns, and pixie dust kind. (What?! I hear you gasp, how is that not any of the above??) When I speak of magic, all of my righteous friends go into panic hyperdrive, thinking that I’ve gone all ‘new age’, trippy, and I’ve defected to the dark side.

 

Let me explain what Magic really is then. Apart from the ability to take a word and make it your own, True magic should leave you feeling in awe. It should leave you with an overwhelming sense of Gratitude. Rainbows are about promises kept, and unicorns are about purity, and pixie dust? Well, pixie dust is the spice of life. It’s the ability to see the pure beauty in the Creation and let the beauty infuse your soul. True magic, in other words, is nothing but sheer and utter Joy. And hope, and a bit of patience, and love, and gratitude, and kindness, all rolled into one. But mainly the Joy that comes from all of these rolled together…. much like the rainbow spiralled forms pure white light.

 

Roald Dahl once said, “Those who don’t believe in Magic, will never find it”. 

 

Have you found the Joy in your life? 

 

Joy can be found in any situation. From the 6th June 2012 to the 9th June 2014 I lived in a very difficult and stressful situation, yet even in the darkest hours I did manage to find some Joy. When things looked dire and the weight of trying to live in an increasingly trying world had begun to overcome me, I’ve simply stepped outside. Sometimes, my husband or my friends, intuiting my need, have quite literally taken me by the hand and led me outside into nature. Even if you live in the most dense city, you will still have access to a tree in a park, or a weed in the pavement. Take a look at it. Notice the different colours, the different shades of the same colour. Is the top side of the leaf a different shade of green to the underside? Notice the texture of the leaf. Is there a flower or bud? What colour is it? Notice the intricate patterns in it’s delicate design. At one point during your very young life, as you toddled down the street with your hand in the hand of a dearly beloved grown-up, you appreciated this beauty. You were in awe of it. You examined it closely, allowing it’s essence to infuse your innocent and all-encompassing soul. You delighted in the freedom of this moment, and you found Joy.  

 

Joy can also be found in serving others, unconditionally. There’s a Greek word for this, by the way, it’s called Agape, and it basically describes the action of compassion. That act of love and outward concern for others. I passed by a church billboard the other day that said, “ It is easier to argue about religion than to practice it.”  How many people have been turned off this corporate institutionalized concept of religion simply because of the behaviour of it’s proponents? It is rightly said that you shall know them by their fruits. The apostle James (Ya’aqob) said “ pure and undefiled religion before Elohim and the Father is this; to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being contaminated from the world.”  What is the contamination that’s in the world? The things that degrade your soul. The greed, the hatred, the warmongering, the pointless and mindless destruction. In other words, live a life of compassion and outward concern. Live a life of awe and gratitude. Of love and respect.

 

Do you dare to feel it again? That Joy you felt unfettered as a child?

 

Do you dare to find the beauty that surrounds you, and give thanks for it? This sense of Joy, this Soul Food, this magic is something that we all desire, and we can all have. It heals the soul, and it’s completely and utterly free! 

 

Do you believe in Magic?

I do 🙂