Ancestors

I’m in Wales visiting my family, leaving my flat and cat in the faithful hands of Dylan and Cos.

This part of Wales is very beautiful, and it makes me wonder why on earth so many of us choose to live in grey pollution ridden cities. I will move one day.  I’m a little limited as the epilepsy means I can’t drive so proper countryside is out. I like the idea of a boat, they’ll let me drive a narrow boat so I could just take myself off.

Today I’m going to wonder through the woods and walk across the cliffs, talk to the trees and sea. They talk back sometimes, it is a matter of being in a state to listen.

I’m reading Maya Deren’s book the Divine Horseman at the moment. It is on Haitian Voodoo, it is fascinating. Ancestor worship seems to me a very practical thing to have, I think perhaps we  miss something in our culture by loosing our personal ancestors so quickly. I have only the vaguest notion of my great grandmother who read from a crystal ball, concocted herbal remedies and talked to ghosts. She sounds like she would be a fascinating person to know and could help me deal with the hallucinations I get in a more imaginative way than the GP.

We do tend to disregard the wisdom of the elderly in our culture, always looking for the new and exciting. Although this has brought us great developments in technology it has also placed us rather on a cliff edge in terms of the environment.

i was pleased to discover yesterday that my little niece Violet really likes the book I brought my brother on herbs and herbal remedies. I’ll have to actually learn more myself so l can talk to her about it. I got her a children’s book on witchcraft a year ago and she got really into that as well.

i find visiting my family very difficult, as I’ve written about before, I think part of it is because I can’t have children myself and the family is very family orientated.  It cheers me up to think that one day I could have a role passing on knowledge to my nieces and nephews. When my nephew Ernie was younger, before he became the hidden-away teenager he now is, I taught him perspective and drawing 3D objects. He loved it, drew lots of 3D furniture with arms and legs. I don’t suppose he remembers me telling him now, but I think the basics have stuck, which makes me feel… not totally redundant.

 

The art of tidying – or not

As a child I shared my bedroom with my brother. The room was always horribly untidy, the floor scattered with torn apart toys. We argued endlessly about whose fault it was. Turns out it was probably mainly mine.

My mum never liked housework much. She was good at building and gardening and creating things, housework was just too mundane for her. My dad would often nag her to tidy up more, and I remember promising to myself at an early age that I would never be anyone’s housewife. The various boyfriends who have gradually expected me to do the majority of the housework have found themselves living in a dump.

I’m not as bad as some, I usually wash the dishes and sweep the floor and clean the bathroom, though a girlfriend did once find a severely mould encrusted cup next to my bed.

It occurred to me of late that in our culture we do look down on housework, and that perhaps this is a slightly foolish thing.

Cleaning and tidying, like gathering food, is a fundamental activity, something we’ve been doing since back before we were even human. Perhaps this is why it is seen as lesser, because it is required. Hunting food and creating artefacts, although useful, are not necessities. It is more exciting and potentially dangerous to hunt, it is more challenging and entrepreneurial to create, and perhaps this is why they are much more attractive to peers and potential sexual partners. I think however it is now perhaps time to remember the worth of the necessary tasks, for, like trees, without them at all we cease to be viable.

I recently got myself a book called the Japanese art of tidying by Marie Kondo. I thought “art is what I do, so perhaps if I can convince myself that tidying is a part of my artistic practice perhaps I can find it easier”. It is kind of working, though my love of the old threadbare cardi may prove my downfall with her “keep what sparks joy” motto. One of the first tasks she sets is to write why you want to tidy. Well that’s easy I thought, so I can find things more easily, then she says “ask yourself why you want to do that”, to be more organised, “and why that?”. Well eventually I get right back to my psychologist’s last remarks- I’m terrified that I’m loosing my memory due to my the brain malformation, and therefore my independence. The only way of preventing this is by carefully organising my belongings and my life, to be more in control – Well this was a bit heavy for a Sunday morning at breakfast.

So now I have very good reasons for tidying but that doesn’t take away the mundaneness of it. I need tidying to have something interesting to it, some magic.

My eyes focus on an old book of mine on Hoodoo. It is years ago I read it and I can’t remember much about it, but i do remember talking about it to a friend who is a Hoodoo practitioner. At the time I was in the middle of moving home. Quite a lot of unpleasant things had happened to me in that flat and I was worried about them haunting me in the new place. I wanted to leave them behind. My friend suggested that before leaving the flat for the last time I sweep the place. Sweep it well and as I do move backwards through the house towards the door, sweeping away from me as I go. I did this and found it gave me a great feeling of release, of moving on. The ghosts stopped haunting me. Now you can say that is psychological hockey pokery if you like, so what, it worked.

If housework can have power like that then it becomes much more interesting to me. Much more like an art work, and I can be an active manipulator within it. I am already becoming aware that a tidy organised room makes me happier and the tasks I carry out inside it more successful. It feels like the room is more content somehow. Certainly my cat is.

Of course I’m writing all this to avoid doing the tidying.

But what happens after she marries the prince?

After all my woe at the start of last month it actually turned out very good indeed. Had some good gigs, as mentioned before, played another one with just Cos at Scaledown, which was enjoyable. Then some American friends came over from the states and took me out wining and dinning. We went to Ronnie Scott’s and Battersea Art Centre, the Tate, and had Sunday roast. If only there were more months like this.

One of the art books I sold this month was definitely a bit of a witch’s creation. It took me six years to finish, it’s made from hand made paper, old tissue boxes and string. On the surface it is the story of a failed love affair, underneath it is about the continual cycle from life to death, from death to life. It is an original handmade one off. Made from thrown out Mills&Boon books from a local Library. I’ll stress that again as I always get someone upset about me reusing books – the Library chucks them out, if I don’t use them they go in the waste disposal!

This book takes its name from the Mills&Boon book it is made from “The Marriage Project”. There was something grating about that name, and deeply sad. For me relationships don’t work if they are too consciously planned, for some reason those that are carefully planned go stagnant quickly. I think it’s because the fairytale stories never say what happens to the peasant girl after she marries the prince.

Strangely enough, around the time I was making this book I was doing an art project with a recycling centre and one of the things they had plenty of was dress patterns for sowing wedding dresses, so obviously these had to go in the ingredients to make the book. White roses symbolise innocence and purity, but in the centre of this book they are white rose buds dying before they reach full bloom.

I remember the relationship mentioned in the book ended with him buying me a bunch of white roses from the local garage, a sad goodbye. I took them home and painted them and that is how the book started.

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Witches Broth

witch0000I’ve decided, after some thought on the matter, my long term ambition is to become a witch. Not one of these flouncy fashionable Crowley witches, oh no, but an old time, down to earth hedgerow witch.

My great grandmother was a witch in South Wales, they call it something different now, “seer” or something . She had a crystal ball to tell the future, concocted spells, brewed potions and made herbal remedies back at a time when there was no NHS. Interestingly she was also a church going Christian, which goes to show cavorting in front of devil icons is not compulsory.

The Rude Mechanicals song Big Lies is partly about mixing up a witches broth and then going into a trance state where I talk in tongues (for real).

One of the most appealing things about aiming to become a witch is the comfortable amount of time it can take to become a successfully practicing one. A bit like becoming a judge I feel (spot the reference anyone?). At the age of seventy you are just coming into your prime of Witchness. The job must require a lot of knowledge and wisdom, something that only years on this planet can give you.

I do get visions, the epilepsy is crammed with them – pre, during, and post – and they feel very meaningful, but it is taking me a long time to understand what they mean. It is taking a lifetime. Yesterday I had a large pink creature the size of a football hovering around me, it had no eyes or nose, just a very large mouth with sharp shark-like teeth, it was trying to bite off my head. It was terrifying and somehow very meaningful.

Also I like insects, and mud, and slime and frogs.

With regard to the job expectations:

“It won’t make you much money” I hear you saying,

But come the apocalypse who is going to want money?

They will want knowledge of the plants and beasts we share the planet with, and visions of what the future will bring.

I probably need to get my visions more ordered.