Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Silverberry Tree. Being Book I of the Adventures of Zappo Zhi. Image credit: Robert M. Williams

The Great Lesson

Little Stone glanced at Red Dawn and smiled. "It seems our little fury friend has a lesson he wants to teach us this morning." Red Dawn smiled in return. "I think it is his forest which wants to teach us a lesson," she said. "And perhaps it is time for us to learn."
"Listen," said Zappo, not very pleased at being referred to as their little fury friend. "Morindoor is only the tip of the iceberg, or perhaps I should say the top of the dung heap! I will destroy Morindoor and his evil ways, make no mistake of that. But when he is gone, there are little Morindoors in every man and woman's heart. It is mankind who in the end must destroy the greed and destruction within its own heart."
He smiled at them and continued in a softer voice. "My friends, we have only one earth. She is like a beautiful queen with eyes the colour of the deep blue seas. Her song is the song of all living things. Every time one of those things dies, her song dies a little too. A word or note is lost, never to return. In all the ages, and in all the spaces of the universe, that beauty has gone forever. It may only be a little flower, or perhaps a great sea fish, or a flying bird, or a coloured insect, or maybe it is a medicine plant. But when it is gone, it is gone forever. Do you understand? That which has taken a thousand, thousand years and more to bring its gifts to the earth, and to you and me, has gone... never to return."
Zappo looked into their eyes with an intensity they had never seen before. Suddenly they knew that their journey North to fight Morindoor and save the little Princess Astra was only part of their quest. In their hands rested the safety of the forests, the sweetness of the seas, the beauty of the skies, the mysteries everywhere: even the future of mankind itself, for without their Earth Queen, with her wonders and her beauty, there could be no future and no home for mankind either.
"Zappo, how do we destroy the Morindoor within our own hearts?" asked Little Stone. Red Dawn also looked at him with questioning eyes... "Look at it this way," replied Zappo, "everything we have was already waiting for us when we were born, and then it was given, or I should say lent to us. From the air we breathe, to the water we drink. Nothing is really ours, although sometimes we try to pretend it is, by buying it or, like Morindoor, stealing and destroying it! But really, everything belongs to the earth, to the Earth Queen. She lets us use her gifts for a little while, and then she asks for them back. But that is not all. When you borrow something, from a friend for example, you try to take care of it, you do not break it or lessen it in any way. And when you return it, it should be as good, if not better, than when you first borrowed it."
Red Dawn and Little Stone nodded. "It is the same with the gifts you borrow from the earth," continued Zappo. "If you cut down a tree, make sure you are not harming anything else that may depend on the tree, and afterwards, make sure you plant another one to take its place. That is not always easy but with care it can be done. Borrow from the oceans, and from the forests, and from the skies, they are all gifts from the Earth Queen, but do not change or hurt them to the point where they can never be replaced. Enjoy them, and then return them to her. Learn from her gifts, and then walk forward. That is your gift to the earth."
Zappo put his hands behind his head and lay back on the leafy forest floor. "The Earth Queen is much greater than you or I," he said, gazing up through the branches into the clear blue sky, "and the likes of Morindoor are less than grains of sand beneath her feet. She is a kind and gentle Queen, unless you try to hurt her, or her children, and her children are many. They are the leaves on the trees. They are the stones on the ground, and the birds in the skies. They are everything that is upon the Earth, whether it breathes or does not breathe. They are even the fire that burns, and the water that boils, deep within her. They are the clouds and the winds that swirl and surround her. You cannot hurt even one of those things without hurting them all. And if you hurt the Earth too much, in the way that Morindoor is doing, the Queen will turn upon you. And then, my friends, you cannot even begin to imagine her wrath. Even without you and me, she would sweep aside Morindoor like a wasp before the wind."
"Zappo," said Little Stone, "you seem to know so much about the Earth." Zappo stretched and sat up. "I was a child in this forest when the great cedar trees were still seeds. Do you know how long ago that was my friends? But even that was not as long ago as when my folk were first here, and we are not the oldest creatures in the Forest Seven."
"What is the oldest creature here?" asked Red Dawn.
"I'm not sure," answered Zappo. "But I will show you something that has seen and heard more than anything else that I know."...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Men-an-Tol: circa 1920


Did flint tools or alone the driving rain
complete its holy paradox: granite
yet sensitive as a bone?

Nine maidens petrified for sabbath dancing
or sun-discs crouched in an altar-less ring
in a misty field the sea's whetstone hones
to a sharp blade; the sun tests it, aslant.

On the humped moor's spine, consumptive miners
turned aside from their plod home to crouch and pass
through the men-an-tol, the ring of granite.

I am the loganstone a cloud can alter,
inert mass trembling on a compass point;
I am the men-an-tol, the wind's vagina;
I am the circle of stones grouped around grass.

D M Thomas

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


There in the midst of the paths, in the midst of the winds

From time without
you rest
there in the midst of the paths
in the midst of the winds
you rest
covered with the droppings of birds
grass growing from you feet
your head decked with the down of bird
you rest
in the midst of the winds
you wait
Aged one.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Out of the strong came forth sweetness

Such a small band of brothers and sisters, sharing our love for stones and still places. Easy to forget that they endure while we do not. And in our passing by we might smile and squabble or write a line or two but then, too soon, are gone again.

Thank you for your words Rebecca, and for your feelings, and for your insights.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Standing Stones of Stenness by Godfrey Higgins: circa 1829


Circle of light and darkness, be our sign.
We move in shadows,
Brodgar has burned on the moor a dance of sun.

Ring of quern and plough, contain
Our tumults of blood.
The stars' chaos is caught in a strict rein.

Wheel of life and death, remove
The sweet warm breath.
Ingibiorg flowers in stone, all beauty and love.

Round of sun and snow and seed,
Out of those skulls
Breaks the first green shoot, the full ear, then the bread.

George Mackay Brown (1921-1996)