The Camel Mind
bound, it wanders…
let loose, it remains.
It was five years ago that we last attended and actually got to see the Fire Festival.
On that day too the rain had poured steadily all day and many a lake-like puddle lay in wait for us on the road into the heart of the West Yorkshire hills.
What is it about playing out at night?
Cold wind and black trees are not supposed to be friendly or inspire comfort…
As a child playing with friends we quite naturally want to ‘stay out as long as possible’.
The loss of light brings with it a frisson of excitement attendant on the haziest of notions that ‘anything might happen’ and this vague possibility is only enhanced by the bone white disk of the moon as it skids like a grinning skull through the night sky.
In later years how many of us get to spend much time outside in the dark?
There were no lights alongside the canal tow path.
The water in the puddles though still glistened and shone reflecting a cloud filled sky… and led to mobile phones pressed into action as torches.
The last time there had been unknown others with us taking the short cut to the dancing ground and the banking, lending security to our muddy madness which had left the crowds and the concrete in our wake as we walked into dark silence.
Unknown others who tonight were conspicuously absent.
Many years ago the procession itself had trod this path until somebody had fallen into the canal.
Would the tow still be clear?
Memory, playing tricks challenges us with an alternative route through the trees.
A more sensible route, less fraught with possible risk and danger.
In the daylight such descriptions would be ridiculous.
In the daylight no unseen horrors lurk in the shadows.
The sign had promised a five minute walk yet it seemed much longer, and yet, not quite long enough, before the gurgle of water announced our arrival at the bridge and a certain memory…
A train of compartmentalised light thundered overhead.
We were almost there.
Flimsy paper lanterns swung like beheaded ghouls in the trees as we approached our destination.
The first sign of civilised life.
A fire danced on the hillside left and dark figures hopped and warmed their hands around the flames.
Away in the distance, the steady beat of drums and pipes sounded as the procession made its slow progress to the top of the banking.
They would be here soon…
I never knew Holmfirth in the days of mill workers and clogs.
I really got to know her in the Post Industrial gloom,
Of swish Cafe Bars,
And cosy restaurants,
All day drinking parties frequented by the nouveau riche…
Who leap from still moving taxis,
Done up to the nines, dressed to kill,
While up on the hill,
Something feral is stirring…
Something ancient and unsought…
So, as the lazy cars slow crawl,
Through tight-cobbled streets,
Held up by roaming party-goers,
Soft parading their unsteady path from the park…
And boozers sing boldly in the late afternoon heat
With rabid mouths, foaming,
Never quite finding the beat…
A beast is preparing,
to be unleashed,
In the dark…
… Our-Father, Lady, Countess-Grae passed light and demure across the softly shifting shades of a turquoise beach.
Formless as beauty likened to the morning mist, her presence cleansed and refreshed the air as she danced; flitting capriciously between the stark but numerous clumps of white seaweed which lay sprawled like bleached and dying spiders: upturned and struggling in the yet cool but rapidly warming, morn-time sun.
They straddled the beach like shredded robes with their puckered strands wafting playful death throes in the sea breeze and as robes which had been wrenched, torn and wildly flung to lie forgotten upon the rising mounds of the blue dunes they appeared to have been discarded and scattered amid the sea’s insatiable passion for the sand.
And in her innocence, in her uncertain, whimsical passing Our-Father, Lady, Countess-Grae’s ruby feet caressed that same dry and now sullied sand: with all its succulence spent and with its surface baked-dry in the aftermath of the sea’s relief.
Yet cajoled and enticed by the arch of her feet and the spring in her step as she ran, the sand was compressed and spilled forth a deeper moistness; the dark clammy grains of which clumped and clung in a rich blue pulp and which squashed and squelched between the niches of her toes; cold, and invigorating as the new day which dawned all around.
A girl again, her laughter bubbled between short gasps, gurgled, giddy and pure as she moved; her reckless spirit sprightly and unabashed, flowing swifter and swifter, until, exhausted from running but still in playful mood she succumbed, collapsing onto the blue-green terrain beside a large vermilion boulder which squatted upon the lip of a small rock pool: its shade only vaguely unsettling her as she fell, splaying out her pale, slender limbs in limp, abject surrender to her surroundings.
As she gradually began to recover and her breath grew more even, her fingers scratched and gently scraped at the purple moss that spread like speculative boredom in dark, sporadic patches across the rock’s hunched and brooding form.
But she remained unmindful of the delicate intricacies and patterns which she so idly created for she was lost in the emerald-green sky and there she bathed her resting soul in the lushness of its translucence…
Earl Grae slumbered sardonically in his shell.
“…Still on your mind then?”
“Is what still on my mind?”
“I don’t understand.”
“The ‘he’ look, behind you.”
The etchings which she had scratched in the moss spelled Samuel.
“I still don’t understand.”
“The ‘He’, that is his name.
That is what he is ‘called’. That is what he is ‘known as’ or ‘goes by’.
That is his title; ‘hearkened unto’, or ‘requested by, the Lords’.
“Oh!” She read the name pronouncing each letter “… Who decided?”
“…When you were bathing…”
“Sa-M-U-El… mmm, I like that.”
“I like it too. A commendable choice…”
“Why, thank you, it was nothing… but, does Sam-U-El struggle, does Samu- El hurt?”
“Yes, of course he does but he loves it to death.”
“Oh death, Samuel has touched death then?”
“Grasped dear, grasped.”
“Sorry, grasped. How do you know?”
“I read it somewhere…
Here, tell me what you think.”…
For practical purposes they are like elephants and flowing water.
They follow the shortest, flatest path to wherever they are going, and en route the jagged edges first get smoothed and then get worn away.
In this particular case we are on the path to understanding…
‘Standing Stones of the Druids’
‘STANding sTONes of the DRUids’
There are a number of ‘Stantons’ in England with an attendant ancient site, and for a long time these places were associated with Druids although we now know that they were around a lot earlier than the period normally associated with those infamous ‘Old-Time-Sages’.
This ‘fella’, could easily be a druid, although he could just as easily be a she, in which case one would be tempted to call her a witch.
It is the first stone that greets you at the site.
If you look closely at the first photograph you can see some of the other stones lurking in the background.
On our first visit to this site we were struck by how utterly ‘other’ the stones appeared in relation to their environment.
Dark the frame and dark the spur
About the light which shines over there.
Lost to memory, lost to time
Good and great cut down in their prime.
Ever the longing, we yearn to know
Traversing the ‘now’ via ebb and flow.
Yonder, the stars circuit their course.
Back to silence, back to still
After we’ve been and had our fill.
Yonder, the stars circuit their course.
Where were we?