Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Apprentice Puppeteer


There is an ancient winding trail that gleams o’re fairyland. It is not laid in stone or tar or even from long trodden earth and leaves. This way is made of wisps of mist, layered think and thin enough to forget journey’s toil and drift within.

For almost all of each hour and day and for nearly the full turning of the year, a cart and unicorn travel this wayward road. Sometimes a faint or louder hoof fall can be heart and sometimes it may simply be imagined that the travelers glide.
It would be foolish to hope to see them as you went about your busy day ordinarily, but if you gaze for long moments through the shimmer around the sun-kissed petals of a rose, or breath the morning dew blessed air with your eyes half closed….then, who knows.

Children of fairykin or human kind, and older folk who know how to stretch still seconds, are often lucky enough to see the pathway in the distance. And to remember that, there, to the rhythm of clippety clop, and turning wheels, is where wishes dance and tangle with story and what might be.

Perched high upon the cart’s hollowed bark seat, from which wild sweet strawberries tumble and climb, and looking out over and past the horizon where the unicorn’s horn pricks new stars into the sky, rests the Apprentice Puppeteer.

This ageless being is not apprentice by the usual human understanding of the word, but apprentice in all humility to the stories of worlds, never presuming to know what will unfold.


Once in a while, at times that are not most times, or when a story needs to be told, or when a being needs to be held and rocked by marvel, the cart pulls into a clearing, into a pause, or a bubble of glistening air. And all around little announcements and invitations can suddenly be found.



And whispers fill the air…. The Puppeteer is here, the theater cart has come, stories of tenderness and glory will be shown and told, gather gather young and old!

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Once upon a time the puppeteer wove a story for the little pussycat blue who had no home in a busy dark town and who weary and hungry one long night had slipped and dipped his paw hopefully into milky mist, and there found the answering longing of a flowering fairy girl in need a galavanting furry friend.



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Once upon a time the puppeteer lent her hand to the wind who was unknotting a mother’s wash basket of worries, teasing each care free and tossing it up to float away in the arms of the dancing trees.                
This story when it was told, began at dawn with the twitter of early rising birds and babes...



....and continued all day,
 moving through the magic cart's theater windows as evening came and settled into night.



And then that story went to sleep with the Apprentice Puppeteer and hummed and danced with the other stories that were sighing themselves into her dreams.




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Often it is the children who bring stories that want to be told
and they delight in sharing the telling of these stories


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And always the puppet show is brought to a close with the story or the young girl, who was born in fairyland, but gave her wings to an old lady who needed them where she was going, and received in thanks from the stars, the possibility to hear and tell stories, and guardianship of the gleaming pathway,

The story tells of the unicorn who heard her loneliness one day, when she felt sad that she could no longer fly, and helped her and kept her company...

and of this story tells of the heart that grew on her back, just gently where her wings had once been.

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