Artistic and Literal Ramblings

Vesica Pool, Chalice Well Gardens
This week I was supposed to be heading off to Glastonbury for a long awaited day with my circle Sisters there, but unfortunately it was cancelled a few days beforehand. Disappointed but determined to make the best of it, I started pondering what I could do with my couple of days off. I'd seen an article the other day about going on a date with yourself, which I'd dismissed out of hand as being psychological clap trap - envisaging being told to sit down for a posh meal with a mirror opposite you telling your reflection all the fabulous things about you and how much you're loved, you get the picture? Later on, the more I thought about it, I realised that taking a day out just for yourself, making an effort to please just yourself, even wearing your favourite things just for your own sake, as well as being comfortable with just yourself for company for a whole day of your choosing could actually be a rather glorious thing. At this point anyone who has ever done a Discovery workshop with our inspiring Priestess Michelle, will be jumping up and down shouting  "You cannot pour from an empty vessel!!" 

So feeling brave, armed with a map, a change of
A Slightly Hazy Long Man
clothes, 
a lovely picnic, plenty of water and of course the satnav, I headed off, out of my comfort zone into the wilds of deepest Sussex, an area I  really don't know very well! After a somewhat frustrating drive involving lots of roadworks and traffic, I arrived at my first stop of the day, the Long Man of Wilmington - a 70 feet tall figure marked into part of the South Downs, originally in chalk, now marked out with breeze blocks. Walking boots and socks on, off I marched up the hill to the base of the Long Man, and it was up hill, puffing and panting, I nodded and grunted to other crazy people hell bent on the same mission as me. At this point, heart pounding and my legs already aching I thought about backing out of my original plan of walking to the top of the hill. I thought about it quite a lot to be honest, reasoning with myself that if someone had ever had the audacity to take me on a date to do this, they would have gone home with a flea in their ear and alone for sure. That was before I got talking to a lovely lady, known only
Thank You Feet and Legs!!
as 'Nan', maybe in her early/mid 60's, out with her family, who'd got as far as me and was puffing nearly as much! Nan who was clearly delighted with her achievement, told me she was an artist, describing the fields laid out before us as a palette of watercolours, then told me why she was so pleased with her climb, explaining to me that this time last year she had been desperately ill with cancer and was not expected to live. She is now in full remission and wanted me to pass on her very best wishes and love to anyone who was in that dark place, to tell them that they could do it and she was intending to live the remainder of her life to the full. She spoke from her heart. I am passing that message of love and hope on for her as she asked...

At that point I knew I was going to climb up the other 150 metres - however long it took me. 

It took a while, but I did it, albeit red faced, sweaty and catching my breath. Elated and inexplicably smiling from ear to ear, I was rewarded with the wonderful sight of a beautiful Red Kite hovering 
I Did It!!
near me as I stood staring in appreciation and delight at the panoramic views all around me. Apart from the wind, the odd moo from the cows who had also braved the climb and bird calls, the silence up there was profound. There are burial mounds and barrows right on the top of the ridge, where the grass is somehow short and trimmed. What a magnificent final resting place, the ancestors must have been greatly revered here. 
Eating my picnic, I contemplated my small, modest achievement in climbing up this hill, ruminating on how much of that battle was psychological, how because I'd decided it was going to be done, that it was. How many battles do we lose before we even set foot outside of the door? No one would have known if I hadn't done it, if I'd wussed out, except me, my honesty and integrity and my Goddess. With this in mind I offered up some words of thanks to Goddess and vowed to trust my feet and heart to carry on when my brain fights back with all the bizarre reasoning and logic it can muster!
Pulpit, St Michael
and All Angels Church, Berwick.

After a leisurely descent, which took as long as the climb, I changed out of my walking clothes into a dress and sandals with the help of a kind random German lady, who stood guard whilst I swapped my attire behind half a brick wall. I'm way too tall and was far too hot and sweaty to attempt such a furtive manoeuvre in my car, I'd probably still be caught up in a sweaty, Lycra imprisoned contortionist hell now if I hadn't said stuff it! It was one of those days...
Freshly clothed and several litres of water later, I found the old church at Berwick, full of murals by Duncan Grant - part of the Bloomsbury Group, one time partner of Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf's sister, a refreshing sanctuary of divine coolness on such a hot day. 
The guide to the church merrily told me that the window behind the Saxon font overlooks a pagan burial mound, indicating that this is an ancient site of honouring the ancestors, if not of worship. I also found it interesting that this tiny chapel displays
such a fondness for the art of the Bloomsbury Group that the parish was able to overlook the bohemian and unconventional lifestyles of it's founder members. I always have a funny five minutes in a church, as though I'm an impostor, expecting people to suddenly ask me to leave, or wondering if it's entirely appropriate for me to be there. When a lovely lady started chatting to me about the murals and flowers that I had admired, which it turned out that she arranged, I felt the wave of uncertainty rise in me until she showed me the beautiful cards to buy, all of butterflies, birds and flowers before she triumphantly and seemingly out of nowhere brandished a card of a beautiful cornfield at me. Sold! Thank you my Goddess for reminding me that spirituality is everywhere! 
Whilst wandering through the churchyard I found this beautiful and simple inscription 'Jane Broster 1924-2010 Lively Gentle Empathist Sincere Friend' How beautiful and simple, what a tribute. How apt for such a beautiful mix of faith, spirituality, ideas and beliefs in a tiny church.
Charleston Gardens

From here it was a short drive to Charleston Farm, the summer haven and home of Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury Group. No photos from inside as you're asked not to take them, but it was Fabulous!! The farmhouse was leased to Vanessa Bell and became the epicentre of the arts movement pre, during and after 2nd World War. They didn't stop at painting canvases, they painted walls, tables, window sills, chairs - you name it! A lot of Vanessa's contibutions to the decor included painted circle designs and patterns, potentially full of meanings; circle of life, death and rebirth, wholeness and completion as well as being obviously feminine. I've been doodling circles ever since! The beauty for me was in the simplicity and conviction of the art, it didn't matter that it wasn't necessarily aesthetically or technically perfect, but it was genuine and designed sometimes with a specific person in mind, so was heartfelt.
A timely message to me as I often wrestle with 
Athena/Minerva
getting a bit of work right, worry about it being perfect - missing the point (again) that it's the creativity and the process of engaging in that is important.This is paticularly important as I am writing a bigger piece of work at the moment that is challenging me and my concepts of quality, as well as some art work I have offered to contribute for a friend's book! 

Just in case I needed a further reminder, as I explored the beautiful gardens I found lots of busts adorning an old garden wall, all of them Goddesses. This one seemed to take pride of place and appears to be of Athena/Minerva - mainly and oddly known as a Goddess of both War and Wisdom, but also of inspiration, arts, crafts, handicrafts, courage and agriculture... Perfect !

What a beautiful and glorious day - topped back up with wonder, awe, ideas, strength, satifisfaction and gratiutude of all sorts of things, including myself. 
Feeling inspired and full, I headed home musing on my continual journey of discovery, contemplating where I have been so far, all the places I am yet to travel, the people I have yet to meet and learn from.

                                    Have a Blessed Week x x 

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