I am English but have lived half of my life in Italy and am at present living in a garret apartment under the ancient roof of a hill top castle in Tuscany. I first came here at the very tender age of 17, sent by my parents to a school in Florence to study Italian and the history of art. Of course I fell totally in love with it all. The beauty of the land, the incredible wealth of artistic expression, the food, the people and the way of life in general spoke to me in a deep and most evocative way.
I found work in several colourful jobs beginning in the school I had studied in, chaperoning the girls and driving them all over Italy, and then looking after children in a family, working in a shop on the Ponte Vecchio and then in a hotel until eventually I got married and started a family.
We bought and restored an extremely ancient and ruined building which had once been a monastic settlement on the top of an isolated peak in the hills south of Florence.
Deeper and deeper went my connection to the land. I began to relate in a new way to the trees and the stones, to water, to earth and to the elements in general.
Living in such an isolated spot and trying to cope with the difficulties I was experiencing in my marriage seemed to push me into discovering other dimensions to life, other values, other understandings. Things eventually came to a head ..but I would rather not try to describe those years of painful and conflictual separation that we all went through. Be it enough to say that I was drawn through my own poor state of health to alternative medicine and after receiving treatment with traditional Chinese medicine I found myself working as an assistant to a doctor practicing acupuncture.
In the seven years that I worked in his clinic I was introduced to the world of energy and the deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all things. I felt like Cinderella slipping her foot into the glass shoe. It felt so good, so right, as if some part of me somehow already had knowledge of these ancient teachings. It was here that I began my study of the elements mainly through my own relationship with the elemental world and my constant observation of its laws and habits, which has continued in various ways and through various teachings ever since.
At the end of these seven years I decided, after twenty six years in Italy, to go back to England, back to my roots where I was to start a new life, a new love and a new way of living and so for the next fifteen years I made my home in Somerset.
The flat lands or Somerset levels are ancient marshes now drained by small ditches or “rhynes” that channel the water around the edges of the fields. In comparison to Tuscany which is mountainous, solar and fiery, this part of England is gently flat, lunar and watery. Water is the element of mystery, of feeling and of dreams and indeed it is here, woven into the timeless veils of Avalon, that the ancient legends of King Arthur and of the Holy Grail are to be found.
Being back in England I found another beauty, perhaps less dramatic, perhaps less dynamic, but softer, older and much, much deeper. I had expected to experience some kind of culture shock with this sudden change of life style but the lunar side of my being melted instantly into the subtle mists of the west country making me feel surprisingly at home.
I made many new friends with whom to explore the spirit and to start gathering in and mending the broken threads of my life. It was here amongst the green flower studded meadows and ancient woods of Somerset that my poetry started to flow. Entire verses would come into my mind as I walked through the fields with my dogs or sat amongst my trees. I took to carrying a note book and pen with me wherever I went.
gather poems in the wood
gather poems in the wood
I remember one occasion going to see friends in the evening. I was driving and hadn’t brought my note book with me. A poem started coming over and over in my mind and when I arrived I rang the bell and said “don’t speak to me just give me a piece of paper please I need to write something down!” This was the poem that was in my head.
The God of Love
this earthly span of space
gathers to him threads of love
hear him in the morning
see him in the evening
and on they gallop
work they do in mighty
I often felt that these poems were speaking to me and with many of them I only really understood the meaning years later.
To be born into this world is to lose our vision of the Whole. We are restricted to our own individual realities rather than being aware of the Whole.
It seems to me so utterly extraordinary that in such a vast and complex universe (or universes) we should be living in this limited and ignorant way. Cut off from Reality and the understanding about who we are.
The struggle for knowledge and understanding has been going on ever since man has existed. Always there has been this awareness of something greater than physical life. Something so enormous, so powerful, so mysterious, so beautiful and yet so awesome. Man has recognized it, worshipped it, written about it, painted it, built it into buildings and sculptures, sung about it, longed for it, loved it and hated it.
There are ways which help man to understand. Disciplines that help to open the mind and expand consciousness. Great traditions of ancient wisdom, passed down over the ages to those who wish to learn. Ways to break through limitation and regain some of our original vision. They are hard to follow. Great inner strength is required to stand up to the temptations of the world. Great courage needed to break through the limiting barriers that we cling to in our everyday lives.
Is it that being human is part of a greater evolution in consciousness? Could it be a privilege to be here? A sought after experience by Beings of consciousness where certain qualities can only be learned through being human? Could it be, that by losing our complete awareness we are forced to find within ourselves qualities of strength and the capacity to love and understand others through compassion or devotion or longing. Could it be that by experiencing pain and difficulties we begin to value the good and the beautiful?
I have always been a very creative person like many other members of my family. As a child I loved making things like puppets, costume dolls and later frogs and patchwork. Sewing and making things has always been a pleasure. I love the exciting sensuality of texture and colour in cloth. Feeling the touch of silk or velvet is greatly inspiring for me and the sparkle of sequins and beads is totally irresistible.
With my first wall hangings I had no clear idea of what I was doing. It was simply an uncomfortably urgent need to get my hands into a box of materials and feel them choose a particular piece or pieces of cloth. I would then literally throw them about on the piece I had chosen for a back cloth until something in the shape and the folds caught my eye. At this point I would pin it helping the cloth gently with my hands to find its shape. I’d then pin the whole thing up on a curtain so that I could stand back from it and would leave it pinned up there for several days so that I could relate to it day by day moving a pin here and there, finding a new fold, a new detail in the shape.
I don’t know how many poems and how many images came to me in those years. Sometimes they seemed to be stirred by something painful. I remember in particular a beautiful angel, made from a piece of really old wine red velvet I had found in a place where theatrical costumes were made, materialised after an extremely painful telephone call to Italy. I put the phone down and rushed through my tears to the bags where I kept my materials and was amazed at how something lovely could come through such pain.
with me please in times of darkness
my shoulders stoop and tighten
my mind is in a turmoil
doubt that I am with you
your inner tempest quietens
your soul see any flotsam
as she quietly calls you
will lead you from the darkness
she knows in her great wisdom