Good years without end

A Good Year 1I have a stash of films I go to when I’m simply in a good mood and want to know what I’m getting into; well, we probably all do. One of these, watched I dont know how many times, is A Good Year, directed by Ridley Scott staring Russel Crowe. For a long time, I didn’t really know what this film has that makes me keep wanting to “go there” but if you could bottle it, I would probably have taken a sip every day. Good analogy, as it turns out, as its set in a vineyard located just outside Bonnieux, a location we were fortunate enough to drive past (we didn’t quite have the courage to knock on the door for an impromptu viewing as many people do; we’re British don’t you know…) and in the town of Gordes which we stopped in, last time we were in Provence.

I love its quirk, its humour, its irreverance, its soundtrack. I also know that a fairly obvious draw is its lighting, its scenery and its flashes of a honey-lit Provence garden filmed so close-up and sensorarily that you could be there amidst the buzz of insects and the brush of leaves against the face as sun beams bounce off water. The way the camera pans to capitalise on light effect is exactly the way I work with gardens as a photographer; looking into the sun and the most boundary-stretching edges of where form dissolves back into fuzzy molecules so these scenes are pure poetry in motion for me.

A Good Year 4So, I watched it again last night, being in that kind of mood, and it didn’t disappoint, feeding my dreams with golden vistas. It was only today…perhaps because I have known this film for such a long time that it predates any knowledge I had of Welsh legend…that the penny finally dropped that it is really the same plot-line as the story of Elen, or Helen, of the Ways, from Ancient Welsh myth (fragments of which have been preserved in the manuscripts known as the Welsh Triads and Mabinogion; many other versions exist – see recommended reading below) brought into the twenty-first century – more on that ancient story thread story in a moment.

In the film, the world weary and cynical (though he doesn’t yet know it) city investment boy Maximilian is forced to drop his worldly affairs to return to Provence, where he spent idyllic childhood summers with his Uncle Henry, because his long-time-not-seen uncle has just died and left him the property; a chateau with a vineyard. On first arriving there, Max is typically abrasive, hurried, unconscious and, mostly, very eager to sign the legal documents, sell up and leave again…but then, of course, he meets “the girl”, Fanny (who, it turns out, he has met before, as a child, though he doesn’t yet remember her or even realise he had, in effect, “lost her” or that what she represents is “missing” from his life) and something akin to magic happens. She is, of course, the divine feminine come vividly to life as a French goddess on a bicycle with a fiery temper and a derriere that has people falling into fountains. I won’t ruin the whole plot by picking over it but at first their relationship goes badly – a literal crash head-on – since this girl is no push-over and it’s only at the end that she finally accepts him back into “the garden” of her affections when she announces “it is only now that I recognise you, Max”. You could say she really meant the “true” Maximilian or his essence, beneath all the battle scars of his hard-nosed, earnings driven, power-wielding yet forever watching-your-own back kind of life. Of course, by now, he has ditched the job, even the dream partnership on a plate, to go back to “the garden” and be with this woman, at the now fruitful chateau, forever. The vines are restored, the family unit has come together in surprising ways, everyone is happy…and the sun continues to shine on those golden vistas. There is such a sense of homecoming, of reconciliation and of restoration, you could even say transformation. As ever with Ridley Scott, the message seems trivial but runs deeper than you know.

“And at the mouth of the river he beheld a castle, the fairest that man ever saw, and the gate of the castle was open, and he went into the castle. And in the castle he saw a fair hall, of which the roof seemed to be all gold, the walls of the hall seemed to be entirely of glittering precious gems, the doors all seemed to be of gold.” (The Mabinogion: The Dream of Macsen Welding.)

In the middle of this plot, there is a part where Max is “forced” to return to London to go back into the never-ending battle of his career affairs in the hard-nosed and cut-throat world of the London stock-market where the word “holiday” never gets mentioned for fear loosing your place in the pecking order. As these two world’s intersect, it’s so obvious how Canary Wharf, with its sharply contrasted chrome and glass, is filmed through a cold grey-blue filter compared to the amber warmth of the nature-filled Provence scenes. This is where I’m going to insert a reminder, for anyone not familiar with the story, of Elen and the Roman emperor Magnus Maximus (yes the name is even the same as the film), known in local texts as Macsen. In that legend, known as “The Dream of Macsen“, he dreams of a woman who fills him up with such a strong presence and experience of love but, when he wakes to find it was just a dream, such sadness and sense of loss that he sends a handful of messengers off far and wide to look for such a woman. When one reports back that they think they have found her, he drops his worldly concerns and sets sail for a far corner of Wales where he meets Elen, the most beautiful woman he could ever have imagined, from his dreams and falls for her on sight. Elen draws him into her natural world, but only as long as he enter such a world as an equal with her and in full cognisance of the true nature of sovereignty; that is, to understand that your power is equal only to how much you respect Nature as its  custodian or guardian, not as a ruler over, or plunderer of, it. When you do so, the land remains abundant, water continues to flows and balance in all things is easily maintained; and when the masculine aspect returns to this knowledge, which has been in the safe keeping of the feminine across all of the rocky years in between, harmony is fully restored and healing swiftly takes place…a story for our times. In return, Macsen brings his male expertise to bear by building castles and a network of roads between them, uniting the land, at her request. Seven years into this idyllic outcome, Macsen is called back to Rome on urgent business, the matter of a war to be fought to keep dominion over his lands (just as Max gets called back to London to defend his position), so of course the spell is temporarily broken…but only until he decides to give all that up to return to the natural idyl that awaits him with Elen, his true love and his equal, to live out the rest of their days in balance and harmony.

A Good Year 3Back to the film…at its end  (apologies for any plot spoilers but if you have got this far, I have already blown holes in your suspense) we see Max and Fanny sit opposite one another, him the far softer-edged version of himself, as though all his cares and abrasive features have been slipped off with his shoes at the door. You can see how he now treads softly on the world, calibrated to the pace of this place, which he finds “intoxicating”, having entered it on her terms…one of these being that he now speak the language of this place; so we see the so-confident Max, once the wielder of the kind of sharp words that macheted through everyone on his path, slowly relearning his entire vocabulary from scratch in French, the language of love.

The additional play on the fact that Russel Crowe was previously known as Roman Emperor, Maximius (a fictional character) in the film Gladiator, also directed by Scott, could be coincidence but seems too pronounced a one to be so…surely; or is the world of uncanny synchronicities just so tied up in a bow that these things do happen “by pure chance”? I tend to suspect that Scott is familiar with Elen and Macsen from the Mabinogian and was having a private smile to himself as he recalibrated the story into this modern version, casting an actor who is perhaps best-known for playing a Roman Emperor as a clue for incurable dot-joiners such as I am. However, when you read the Wikipedia entry for how A Good Year came about, its story written by life-in-Provence memoire writer Peter Mayle, how it was then tweaked into a more dynamic screenplay, the way actors were chosen through a set of happy cross-overs (like the domestically settled Russell Crowe seeking a more gentle film to work on than the bigger, more world-weary plots he had always done before…yet another sync with the film’s plotline), seems like nothing but a series of happy coincidences. I still find that alignment of factors just astonishing, either way; as though this “story” was quite determined to be retold at this time in our history and so a series of cogs intersected to make it happen just the way that it did, and for all it was never been a big box-office success . In fact, I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s responded “yes, I’ve seen it ” when I’ve asked across all the years since I added it to my favourite stash (it was released in 2006). For me, like any good vintage, its just seems to get better year on year and, perhaps, has yet to be fully appreciated; becoming more mellow yet full-bodied and, yes, more relevant with time.

You just know at the end that Max is in for much more than just a good year; more like, a good rest of his life, returned to his most idyllic domain to live in perfect harmony with this woman and more-than equal who will take no nonsense from him; the masculine aspect returned, disarmed, healed and rebalanced in relationship with the once “lost” feminine. His priorities have been recalibrated, his faith restored, his view vastly improved, his purpose softer yet significanly more aligned with fulfilment and joy. We could hope for no more than this from the plot of the most ideal and entertaining films which (like the stuff of fireside legend and myth) deliver their message subtly and with all the trappings of wonderful visuals, good humour and romance; this is not the first time I have considered Ridley Scott to be a genius of the film medium when it comes to delivering more than you, perhaps, even realise as you watch. Perhaps the reason I love to re-watch this one, in particular, is that it reaffirms my own courage and resolve to go after these qualities (you’ll get bored with your new life” declares Max’s friend; but you somehow know that he wont…) in my own life and reminds me of the kind of golden ending that awaits when I dare to follow through.

Quotes used from A Good Year are approximate and paraphrased.

For more about Elen, I recommend “Finding Elen: The Quest for Elen of the Ways“, a collection of cross-cultural accounts edited by Caroline Wise.

Film location Chateau La Canorgue


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Out of bounds

I had the most insightful thing flagged up to me last week, by a friend who is also a very gifted astrologer, and it was that I have an Out of Bounds Moon in my natal chart. This isn’t something I had ever had mentioned to me before but the timing was, as ever, “spot on” since it opened a minefield of explosive new information, like a radiant firework display casting new shape and colour all over my chart…and my life. I won’t attempt to go deeply into the explanations as Steven Forrest does a sterling job here and I will attach some other articles, below (a must read if you have an OOB Moon or planet in your chart). It’s all to do with this thing called declination caused by the tilt of the planet, a long time fascination of mine; the angle of declination being the moon, or whatever’s, position relative to the celestial equator (extrapolated from the earth’s equator). Briefly, to quote Forrest, the “maximum limit of 23°28′ declination, south or north, applies rigidly to the Sun. But not to the Moon or the planets. They can go beyond it. Mercury and Mars can reach 27° and Venus can, occasionally, go a degree further. The rest tend to stay within the tropics”. In simplest terms, keeping to the focus of this post, the moon occasionally extends 5° further “out” than the furthest declination point of the sun and some of us are born at these times with, apparently, quite profound effects. I have poured over this information (still classed as new age, evolutionary astrology since most astrologers have tended to ignore it) for the obsessive duration of several days now, also studying my chart and that of all the people I call, and have ever called, close to me as far a I could remember their dates (and, no surprise, my husband also has an OOB moon). I’m not one who lives my life by astrology, finding it too prescriptive and boxed-up in its own way; so its only now and again that I really prick up my ears. However this had me sitting up taking notice from the moment it was mentioned; it was just so astonishing, synchronistic and relevant-seeming to me and my experiences that I hardly knew where to land first.

Yet it also seemed to open up a pool of knowing that was already inside of me; something I was clearly poised to know more fully about myself because, for two mornings, I woke ready to tap up detailed notes about myself and my life, relating to this Out of Bounds Moon phenomenon, from my own stream of consciousness. In this sense, it wasn’t as though I had “just” found out about it but was more the case that I had always known about it and had only been waiting for my conscious mind to catch up with me, ready to take down dictation so I could look into it more. It was that kind of “lighting up” that happens when I feel like I’ve hit upon a specialism; something I’m expert at without having realised it before; drawn from life’s well of experience. At last, I had the “logical” means with which I could frame and explain this quality to myself and see the gifts, rather than the peculiarities, in it. The information I had long sought relating to deeply embedded feelings I have about “not fitting in” or always being on the “perimeter of normalcy” when it comes to mainstream thinking was right there in front of me and, rather than feel alarmed by it I felt, at last, at peace in some hard to define way. I had a handle on it, could track it’s undulating patterns, compare with some momentous milestones of disruption and of “starting all over again” in my life and then forward project, at least somewhat, into the passage of my future.

Because, above all things, the OOB Moon factor brings with it a propensity towards “bold, groundbreaking genius” of the kind that thinks outside the box and walks away from situations or, simply, ignores the rules. Being “nice outlaws” (Forrest) is their forte, making me smile at my childhood role model, Maid Marion who, whilst not a mainstream choice of heroine, seemed so relatable to me, way beyond the romanticized ideal of some of her depictions. Breaking the mould, breaking out of social constructs, pushing boundaries and championing new paradigms; Oprah Winfrey springs to mind. No accident also that some of the worlds most zany, out-there personalities (many more are listed in the attached articles) but also quiet folk, withdrawn characters who prefer to be alone than try to fit in with what feels so abrasive, also people on the spiritual hinterland, who make the broader perspective their everything but not in a “religious” or conventional way; these things I relate to most amongst my fellow OOB Moon-ers. Forrest’s “nine traits” of the out of bounds person make for such an interesting read if this is you. Quote Forrest: “The out of bounds moon is spontaneous, emancipated, liberated, released on its own recognizance, and utterly its own. It has loudly proclaimed “you can take this job (…this marriage, this church, obligation, moral principle, town, duty…) and shove it!” (Steven Forrest – “Book of the Moon). Well, we all know what a wild and overgrown “path least trodden” that kind of attitude can lead to and how many knee-scrapes we can get into along the way, so the field of exploration is rich with insight as to how such people, the contrarians such as I consider myself to be, manage to get along in this world. Yes, many take off on the outspread wings of their own colourful uniqueness though others are less hardy; some simply long for a place they can “peacefully be”, living by their own rules, in the out of bounds world of their own creating, well away from it all. We walk away from things, jobs, relationships, situations, that no longer feel “a fit” (something I have long history of, over and again); will often, tear up a whole way of life, at a moment’s notice and with apparently no pre-thought, when we have had our absolute fill of it (as I once so-spectacularly did).

Forrest and others will go on to list, amongst its qualities and characters, a tendency toward criminal behaviour and “going completely off the rails” (in the worst, most brutal and destructive, ways), which might alarm the OOB Moon-er at first hearing about it; make them curl their newly proud tail between their legs and slink back into the shadows. But a few days into trying this on, I woke this morning with the following indignant cry wanting to be expressed; which is what propelled me to write this post. Not to excuse such behaviours but to try and understand them, if you had spent the whole of your life feeling like the round peg in the square hole, and the one life keeps trying to hammer in there anyway, wouldn’t you be prone to flipping out at some point, possibly to an extreme level by social or moral markers depending on the life path you have chosen and how far you have allowed yourself to wander into the territory of rules and conditions that really don’t reflect who you are “on the inside” (thankfully, I have turned most of my pressure valves off by deconstructing such a life)? Couldn’t there be a higher-than-average possibility of throwing all your toys out of the pram at some point (given its potential lies within us all) and most likely, it seems, when your natal OOB moon returns to something like its original position in your chart? And the knowing of this risk-assessment, deep down, only acts like yet another valve turned on to maximum pressure-point inside of us; like we are forced to keep a very stern eye on ourselves, to guard our own behaviour more than what seems like average. It’s as though we become the parent that doesn’t quite trust the teenager within, which only creates unnecessary tension in “the house”. Over the years of ironing out health issues, I have come to recognise and work on these inner conflicts and done all I can to eliminate all the stress points where my exterior life used to fall short of my inner priorities; but not everyone takes time out to do this inner work. Perhaps, the last bastion of this inner conflict is recognizing how we come down so hard on ourselves for having the contrary feelings that we do, so perhaps its time we cut ourselves a little slack and let it be OK to have these OOB Moon traits; to celebrate them and stand up for them even (where they do no harm to others).

The very phrase “out of bounds” (coined by Kt Boehrer in her book, “Declination The Other Dimension”, which I have just ordered) seems to trouble me because I keep finding myself substituting “outlying moon” in my own head, when I ponder this topic. After all, “out of bounds” suggest there are bounds to be kept; that we are transgressors, breaking rules, excluded, over there in that field where nobody wants to admit that we camp out, like the hippies on the edge of town. A lifetime of this can feel wearying down to the very bootstraps. Point in case: just the other day, I wrote what felt like a very inspired blog on the bizarre subject of alcohol, a subject I’ve had a complex and, I feel, fruitfully observant relationship with (from within and, now, without). In fact, I keep wanting to share these thoughts but then feel I have to bite my own lip in order not to offend anyone or exclude myself any more than I already am by saying the “unmentionable” and largely “unrelatable” outloud. Though my post felt balanced, non-judgemental and worthwhile, I decided, on balance (using the inner safeguard I just talked about) that it would be pointless to share and that pretty much no one would want to hear it…such is the “conform or be damned” power of alcohol consumption in a world where the complicit silence about its culture is a water-tight drum. The same with being vegan; people treat you as misguided or plain wrong, stupid, weird, ill, pitiful but, seldom, as though you have made a valid life choice; which would be fine if you didn’t have to come up against these opinions everywhere you go that has people or offers hospitality geared for the majority. The “norm” utterly dominates in these domains and we are made to feel like mad aliens subsisting “on the fringe” of what it constitutes to be human. The pressure to conform is everywhere, silently expressed as that slight step-away from you when you say “no thank you” to what everyone else is having; and that pressure (especially for young people) can be intense. Yet again, I have made myself out of bounds to the normal world yet I can’t understand why there is such unquestioning mass consensus and ignorance on the other stuff; why so relatively few people seem to even question it or want to hear another view. But I digress; and this sideline wasn’t meant to be the main topic of this post but just an illustration of what it feels like “out here” in out of bounds land where the pressures of nonconformity, even though you chose that way, can steadily build up over time. When you add to that the feeling that you, frequently, “rub people up the wrong way” when you speak out about whatever matters to your own heart (a trait often associated with OOB-ers), it makes it harder still to persist with a path that means taking that on every day.

So those of us choosing such paths have the choice to “take it on the chin” when people think we are weird, misguided or groundless in our views, slinking off to our quietly divergent world without making a fuss…or we have to stand our corner, argue back and profess an opinion with all the stamina we can muster to swim against that mighty current. In my case, the line of action I take swings back and forth (something to do with how active my sun aspect is being at that time…) but, mostly, I struggle inwardly with how my views sound too opinionated, too much like I am trying to be an authority or pick a fight, which goes against my OOB Moon; so I sit back down again, and keep it to myself, which only creates another torture all of its own. These are just very obvious examples of how difficult it is to be the outlying one. It can feel as though we are always somewhat outside, looking back in at the world, seeing what others don’t take the time to see and eager to share our insights…but stumped as to how to do so without turning these observations into more strident opinion, more rules, more judgement, more cause for conflict. Like Edgar Mitchell (another OOB Moon-er), we feel like we are out there in space looking back at our planet from where we can see the whole beautiful picture, all of the overarching coherence, all the beauty of the apparently pristine oceans, the potential for so much love…and we just want to come “home” and iron out some of the creases in order to manifest what we just saw more nearly, more equally and much more universally at ground level, but we can’t seem to help others see what we saw out there. No surprise, Einstein also had an OOB Moon; he was belittled and scoffed at, for what he “saw”,  for much of his career but then he was the one who also coined the idea that there is no point trying to alter the current paradigm from within that same paradigm…

This OOB thing is not all about being outside in the sense of working alone, I have discovered. What it does is set up a very particular kind of working-relationship with the sun; in order to work with it in a fresh way, like a special envoy sent “out there” to report back the view from an alternate angle. The sun, after all, is the great overlord of the solar system; all the other planets operate within its sphere, relative to earth…except, it would appear, these out of bounds characters that sometimes reach a higher declination value than it does (and that’s not just the moon). So you could look at it another way;  if the sun’s domain is a hypothetical pool of spotlight on a stage as seen from earth (its audience) then, during these Out of Bounds phases, these characters are offstage and out of the sight. Their most familiar and prescribed qualities, normally defined for them by some sort of script, go suddenly “off-grid”, as it were. So do they disappear or, actually, become  more like themselves in such a place? Well, what would you do if you were outside of the watchful gaze of some authority figure; your parent, your boss…would you really go for it and be who you really are, more so than ever; like someone let off the leash, no longer self-conscious or held back in any way but more confident and true to yourself? Perhaps the moon gets to act less like the moon “as we think we know it”, at these times, and more like it really is; like the way a child will become more of their own person once their parent is no longer watching over their shoulder as they play or judging every interaction they have with their peers. Perhaps all we think we know about the moon (always defined “relative to the sun”) has less substance, at these times, than certain uniquely moon-like qualities that emerge to become more defined, confident or assertive, now coming into their own. What happens when the sun reaches the outer extent of its earth-circuit but then the moon keeps on going for another 5 degrees? Does the moon feel like the child learning to ride its bicycle on the day its parent suddenly lets go without warning them; does it experience fear, trepidation, excitement, liberation, posibility? A mixture of all of these? Do those of us going back into our natal OOB Moon phase experience all of this mixture of experiences deep within ourselves?

Another thought that came up for me is that this feels like an age-old abandonment issue played out at the astrological level; then, perhaps, worked through via certain human themes that arise more readily when the OOB Moon is there. After all, mixed up in the idea of being “outside” is the knowledge that you are no longer “inside” and this could so easily feel, to some people or in some circumstances, like a version of not being wanted or loved quite as much as others are; being let go of, shoved out, no room for you at the party. I see how strongly this theme has played out though my life, at very particular times that have now garnered more interest relative to this, and how this OOB Moon factor has given it more gravitas so that I could never, quite, get over it by working through whatever circumstantial issues seemed to give it form since it was anchored there at a deeper level than I knew. I suspect this is typical of many with an OOB Moon, underlying some of the issues that come up in association with it, including those relating to health matters that never seem to resolve; and yes, there does appear to be a connection between an OOB Moon and persistent emotional and physical health issues or, you could say, the ability to thrive. Vulnerability is a word sometimes associated with OOB planets in general; as you would expect about a planet “out there” all on its own.

It’s not all “bad”, not even nearly; in fact I am so thrilled to acknowledge and celebrate this key trait in my make-up that it feels like I’m welcoming home the prodigal son of my own persona, feasting on it all and eager to gather more OOB Moon-ers to the party (another motivation for this post). I’ve never been one to form groups or join clubs but this feels like a gathering I am keen to be part of and there are already a few of us talking and comparing notes. Mixed up in all of this is a kind of pride and self-celebration, a sense of recognising a degree of personal authority, autonomy and of being “trusted”…yes trusted, to go outside the perimeter walls…that the OOB factor signifies. It feels like being the prefect that the headteacher entrusts with going outside of the school gates to perform useful tasks; the wearer of a badge of honour worn, like a little piece of sun-light, on the lapel. This is a delegated light (the moon has no light of its own)…and yet it’s also the kind of light that is all of its own making; with a different quality to the sun and with its very own gifts to share. Then, the earth actually rotates around the sun (for all it appears to be the other way around) but the moon rotates around the earth; so, for the moon, the earth itself is its gravity point and motivator, a differentiation not to be understated, I suspect, when we look at the moon in our charts. These remind me of that point, which I am now at, where the parent watches the child leaving the nest, respecting that they also have different sources of drive to their own yet trusting that all they have ever offered them, from their own persective (even if it seems to be ignored or rejected), is now internalized, for better or worse. They have to “just know” that, for all the child will be outside their immediate sphere of influence in the coming phase, this is as it should be; trusting that they will remember all the most important things when it matters most and that they will always remain attached to their parent in ways that really matter, however far removed. You know there is still an incredibly strong gravitational pull in place, which allows for both freedom of movement without severance from core values; the best of both worlds scenario that we think of as maturity in action. If we have parented them in a balanced way, they will (hopefully) never go off the rails and I see that same relationship between sun and moon in an OOB chart. Like any great parent, the sun knows that children (some more than most) need their own space, even a place to withdraw to alone, in order to be the best that they can be.

Lunar_standstillMy playing with the charts has flagged up for me that looking at an OOB moon and its degree, perhaps even its path through your past life and its progressed path, isn’t quite enough to understand how this factor influences, (or, I prefer, offers potential) to your own situation. It seems, also, to be about the difference in declination factor between sun and moon at that moment of birth plus the compared value of declination of each. Taking declination value to equate with how strongly that particular astrological feature asserts itself, you could imagine, for instance, that if the sun is at its max possible declination value of just over 23° and your moon is at, say, half that value in your natal chart then the moon is going to be kept well under the solar influence’s thumb, even at times of OOB Moon (since that OOB trait is not reflected in your natal chart). Conversely, if the moon is near its OOB extreme, somewhere around 27 or 28°, and the sun is only half, or less, of that declination value at birth, the OOB moon is going to be a very dominant factor, especially at times when the OOB Moon phase returns although (here’s my observation) the sun likes to get its own back by over-asserting itself at times when the moon drops below its boundary line again. Some of the most dramatic OOB characters seem to have had such a yo-yo relationship between their sun and their OOB Moon; Kurt Cobain is one very extreme example. In my case, this kind of arrangement (and with a pretty fast sun and moon – Forrest talks about this being a factor to consider), it seems to hit me hard in my health as that constant friction I’ve talked about as yin and yang trying to come to a working arrangement within me; trying to operate some sort of job-share where one of them wants to be driven and structured, the other is every bit as determined to disconnect from the mainstream and adopt a far more fluid and spontaneous way of being. Yet, if there is an OOB Moon at the top end of that declination see-saw but the sun is at pretty much its lowest possible declination value at birth (I mean, somewhere around 0°), there might be a wonderful sort of balancing act going on where, even when the OOB Moon recurs then withdraws again, neither of them ever takes advantage by making a dash to the control room so they remain comfortable working partners in a sort of yin-yang balancing act throughout life (I give you Einstein as an example). Equally, when somebody has an OOB moon that is not too extreme…say, close in value to the sun’s top declination value of 23°28 …and with a sun value at or just a few degrees from that highest point, they might enjoy a pretty balanced experience throughout their life, even whilst taking full advantage of their most quirky OOB traits (Oprah comes pretty close to this example). Though this is a gross simplification and there are many other factors that need to be taken into account when looking into a natal chart, and which are far beyond my scope as a non-astrologer, these are examples I’ve played with in the charts of well-known people and a clutch of other individuals I know very well (including myself) and they seem to ring some truth.

Due to the accentuated push-pull relationship an OOB Moon seems to set up with the sun, some people with it may, quite literally, react more to extremes of sun energy than other people, as-in my own bizarre health issues which are minutely influenced by the active solar cycles and EMFs, the equinox and solstices, the changing of the seasons and of weather and even the transitions between day and night. Again, other factors will come into this; active and ascendant star signs, for instance, so it’s not all that straightforward but, in myself, I can trace themes. With my earth sign and OOB Moon, I’ve noticed how I seem to struggle around those with very active sun qualities in their chart; how it feels like they are, too often, the bossy, know-it-all-y, worldly types that leave me feeling flustered and unable to work at my best (sorry if you are are that fiery sun-type; its nothing personal but I just can’t seem to partner up longterm) which only pushes me even further into my OOB-ness; somewhere pulled back from larger-than-life characters where I can make up my own bizarre rules of what constitutes success. But here’s the thing…the biggest admission…I struggle mostly with these sun-qualities inside of me at the times when they come up very strongly; as though they get into some sort of tussle with my OOB Moon factor, which is the part of me that simply won’t work that way; not for all the herbal tea in China. And, I suspect, it’s this inner conflict that is the biggest area of rub for many (if not all) OOB-Moon-ers because its that old-familiar sun-moon playoff taken to a very -potent extreme.

My own sun traits, when they get to have a say, become like an internalized bossy-pants pushing me to the point of obsessive over-application; so I become fixated, single-minded, stubborn, driven and weary, burning myself out in pursuit of new learning, the answer to a conundrum or an ever-elusive perfection in some latest thing I’ve decided I must master and, of course, I never quite meet my own standards. Yes, I become this oh-so driven and intense person far more often than I care to admit and part of me is deeply grateful for it (without it, my health would have stagnated as it’s this unrelenting determination to uncover answers in the depths of the unknown that has driven me on) not to mention, relishes the fire-in-the-hearth feeling of it (like now, as I burn the candle at both ends of its wick, obsessed by this latest research). With such drive, I should be the great success, the academic or the businesswoman but then, because of my OOB Moon, I seldom apply my energy in consistent or conventionally useful ways that, for instance, would earn me a living income…so that inner friction, the endless sniping, only continues. This harks back to the topic of that awkward job-share arrangement that seems to be in place between my sun and my OOB Moon as they strive to arrange how to orchestrate their hours between very different skill sets and preferences. It’s like my sun keeps a pristine and orderly corner-desk facing a wall to eliminate distraction, only to come back in for its shift to find the desk has been moved to the window and covered in pot plants, replaced by a yoga mat or chopped up as wood for the bonfire now lit beneath an open starry sky. Meanwhile, my OOB Moon would rather have me sitting in the cooler light of a remote hillside than at the hot-desk of my most driven research projects or latest bees in my bonnet. It longs to be somewhere out there, well away from attention, where the view is more expansive, the noise of  people “doing” and “wanting” things just a distant rumble in the background behind gentle guitar strumming, like looking down at the skyline of a remote city glinting on the horizon,  glad not to be part of it (though the view from out here is pleasant enough; just a sparkly reminder that I’m still, somehow, connected to this world). And so the dichotomy  persists and somewhere, from its middle, I grow into myself like the tall-straight shoot on one of those pot-plants in the window, whose sides have been constantly alternated in terms of access to the light; round and round I go, getting there somehow, dizzying as it feels.

patrick-hendry-422301-unsplashYes, in small doses, I love the occasional burst of sun-like qualities; it can light up my world, excite and ignite me as much as anyone to be around them or feel them coming up in me, bringing hints of golden genius to the surface in elusive flashes that I race to grab hold of and bottle while they last; but it can also, quickly feel like it is all way too much bother, discomfort and unnecessary aggravation, even pain, to go after these elusive experiences of achievement, which hold their tentative currency in the “real world”. I can feel quickly irritated by it all, like the sun giving rise to an uncomfortable heat rash after an over-hot day, making me wish I’d spent more time in the shade. These sun traits can also feel bombastic or dogmatic in the wrong hands (including my own), plus I can’t hear myself think when I’m around them as there’s always way too much going on and far too many demands being made around that persistent solar influence for me to want to stay there for very long, which always makes me an unreliable candidate for joining in long-term projects since I change my mind and withdraw my interest abruptly and definitively. I guess, once an OOB Moon-er, always an OOB Moon-er and the reaction to any kind of rule-maker or someone who tries to tell me “this is how things have to be done” becomes a rub and so I make that break for freedom, or come up with a way of doing things my own merry-way, over and over again until out of bound-ness becomes a kind of personal specialism, a lifestyle option that becomes its own reason for being since it’s what I’m really best at, above all the other gilded gifts that tempt me as a path to pursue. Too many options on the table, I suspect, can be one of the traits that drives an OOB Moon-er nuts unless they learn how to play their own diversity and the sheer range of their desires, anticipating and allowing them to coexist. Working on this, ironing out the many conflicts, has long been the work of my lifetime and it feels like such an evolutionary thing as projects go. Allowing that you might not want what others want or do things the way they do is one of its prerequisites; then allowing almost mercurial changes in gear, or of mind, to take place within your own life, without harsh judgement, is another.

In case you’re wondering, the moon doesn’t always transit into the extreme declinations that some people are born into (that’s why they are relatively rare in people’s natal charts) and, some years, it happens not at all. The moon’s transit through the declinations will cycle between nominal highs and extreme highs over a period of about 18 years, the last cycle of which ended in 2011 and the next cycle of extreme highs beginning in 2020. So, there will be another peak of Out of Bound Moon births in 2024-25, which will be fun as those come to maturity, as they always do in waves. Maybe, for some of us “old” OOB-Mooners (assuming we’ve done the work to live true to our heart’s comfort zone and joy, gently removing, transforming or stepping away from the rubbing points in our lives that make us feel uncomfortable or even unwell) we will actually feel more at home in that territory for being, in a sense, familiar ground. Like working with anything that oscillates more so than staying the same (and I’ve talked at length about the ninth wave in this respect in my earlier posts), getting to know how we respond to patterns that take us in and out of our personal benchmark for normalcy, comfort or preference can help us to navigate the territory of change so that we grow from the experience, both safely anchored yet stretching ourselves into the furthest reaches of our as-yet unexplored potential. For my own part, there’s a quality in this OOB Moon thing that I truly love to own and long to work with more overtly, deliberately and passionately. If sun (you could equally say “yang”) traits have tended to feel all too much for me in the past, perhaps there’s a new way I can learn to work with it now, from this fresh perspective of how I newly see how I chose to set up in my birthchart this way, to include both influences in such a deliberate and powerfully active way, drawing on each of their strengths. I’m not an astrologer and am only at the very beginning of reading into this area, though I have a lifetime’s experience to bring to it, so there’s still a way to go; plenty to explore. However, I regard it as an opportunity for a new gift to be polished out of what used to feel so rough-edged and challenging; which, as ever, is the path of true mastery.


The Out of Bounds Moon – Forrest Astrology

Those Wild Out-of-Bounds Planets – Pamela Welch

Love and the Declination of the Declination of the Progressed Moon


The Book of the Moon: Discovering Astrology’s Lost Dimension – Steven Forrest

Declination: The Other Dimension – Kt Boeher

Resources: for free natal and additional charts, found under Free Horoscopes. To check for Out of Bounds Moon or planets, click on the “additional charts” link on your free natal chart. For Progressed Out of Bound information, choose Extended Chart Selection from the Free Horroscopes section, choose Special Charts and then Elbertin’s Life Diagrams, Progressed Declinations (choosing first whatever time span of your life you want to look at).

The Moon Out of Bounds Video – Steven Forrest (recommended)

Declinations of the moon 2017-18

Current month declinations

Famous characters with OOB MOON

These are just some of the ones I find most interesting; there are many more listed in the recommended books and articles:

  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Albery Einstein
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Edgar Mitchell
  • Cat Stevens
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • Neil Armstrong
  • Yoko Ono
  • Ozzy Osborne
  • Alice Cooper
  • Al Gore
  • Ram Das
  • Queen Victoria
  • Freddy Mercury
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Billie Holiday
  • Bob Geldorf
  • Tom Waits
  • River Phoenix
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Björk

Related thought:

It’s fascinating to tie this information with Barbara Hand Clow’s work on the axial tilt and the cataclysm that she believes caused that event 6000 years ago, setting the precession of equinoxes and seasons in motion as we know them today whilst becoming ingrained into the psyche of humanity, as an inbuilt massconsciousness trauma, ever since. My personal extrapolation from her theory was that these major disasters in our lives provide the “rub” from which we grow (since, if everything stays perfectly on track, there is nothing to compare with or learn from), thus the more we explore the outer limits of our own out of bound qualities, walking the perimeters and getting to know them in a personal sense (there is no deeper way), the more gifts we gather for ourselves and the collective in an evolutionary sense. I refered to BHC’s work on this topic in a number of posts a couple of years ago.


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Out of time

It made me smile when I read the Deva Premal post on Instagram that showed a photo of her and Miten and she commented “must have been a very long time ago, the days when we still wore watches” but it also made me think. Its been a very long time since we wore watches too or, rather, I stopped wearing mine first. My husband kept going, insisting he had to “for work”, then he went down to where he wore it just occasionally, on days when he had meetings. At some point he stopped altogether and, for a few years, has worn a black tourmaline bracelet where it used to be. I’m not sure when any of these milestones passed us by; like with Deva, its been a very long and yet…now I look back…utterly life changing time in ways we had no precognition of when we made these apparently inconsequential choices. Like we removed the nail out of the centre of some far more formidable structure that had been imposing itself upon us in countless ways, no longer having time, quite literally, strapped to our wrists seems to have changed everything…

We also used to have an inordinate number of timepieces around our house; well, I used to nurture a fondness for them, something about nostalgia and an aunt who used to do the same. I especially loved them if they chimed; got a somber black slate Victorian thing for Christmas one year, from a flea market. But it knew better than me what I really wanted since it largely refused to chime or even keep real time, even after I spent more than the price of the clock getting it serviced. Again, that was a very long time ago…back when I upheld the ideal of a home with a comfortable “tick” marking the moments. For quite a while after it ceased to work altogether, it just stood there; the strong but silent marker of a former time in time’s absence; a paradoxical thing, like a pillared mausoleum to times past. Picturesque as it was, that clock’s heavy presence went from my mantlepiece, along with all the other clocks, one by one…until my daughter got into the excuse of claiming the reason she was always late for everything was that we had no way of telling the time in our house anymore. It was a facile excuse since she almost never has her phone out of her hand, but I admire her for trying it so persistently. Incidentally, my first husband wore a particular watch as his fondest status symbol, more precious to him than flesh and blood; I never did understand.

Another pool of nostalgia has just opened to me as I plunge this topic; remembrance of the pride I felt, on my 6th birthday, when I was taken to the watchmakers’ shop where my uncle use to repair watches, to choose my little gold Oris, made in Switzerland, with its little red strap and its tiny wind-up button. I couldn’t wait to put it onto my left wrist (ironically, above my so-called “creative” hand…now brought into line with “tick tick tick”) and I wore it every day for years; always the first thing I reached for every morning before I was fully awake or, sometimes, I liked to keep it on and attune to its sound close to my ear as I slept. I was “strapped in” to the system from that day; the day from which timekeeping was drummed into me as just so important, almost the most important thing to which I must adhere, pivotal to all my so-called “successes” and ways of measuring worth. How much did the rhythm of those subtler than subtle gears suggest themselves into my biorhythms from that day forth? How often did I look at “the time” from that moment on; most of the time, not even noticing how much I did it, marked it, lamented its shortfall, wished it would get slower or faster but never content with where it was. I became subconsciously fixated with it, as we all do, at the expense of so much else. One of the most detrimental effects of this is how we are made to feel lacking of it, there is apparently “never enough time”; like the bedrock of a whole mountain of shortfalls we imagine ourselves to be living beneath the burden of for the remainder of our lives.

What did it do, this subtle gesture of unstrapping ourselves from the structures of hourly timekeeping; how did it make things different? Looking back, it is as though a heavy-iron grid of structure was removed from “life” as much as it could ever be removed without day-to-day activities involving other people collapsing altogether. For me, especially…working from home as I do, seldom having appointments to keep…I was able to disengage from that grid and become soft, fluid, impulsive, intuitive, attentive, aware; listening to myself far over and above any outwardly imposed “thing” that would otherwise have me fixated or dancing to its tune. I see how that influenced those around me (no accident my husband then softened and is hardly the same man I see smiling out of our wrist-watch-wearing photos). In fact neither of us is; our transformation has been incalculable, massive beyond descriptive words, no need (in fact) to quantify it except to say I, for one, feel truer to my own essence than I ever have. It’s as though I have shed a hundred weight of external armour, or trappings that once hung around me like leaden baubles on a reluctant Christmas tree wilting in an over warm house, wishing it was still out in the snow.

Now, in my mind’s eye, I see myself in my linen shift (my clothes have also become so much simpler..) with bare feet on the ground in my summer garden and I see, mainly, the very essence of who I am, not what I wear, what it cost, where I have been or have to be, who I know, what tunes I have to dance to in order to be deemed “acceptable”. In fact, I call my own tunes and…like the way I play my “flute” whenever I feel like it…I prefer to make my own tunes up, there is no sheet music. I guess the removal of that watch was like the first move, the pulling of a lynchpin (I said lynch…not grenade; how people fear what will happen if they unstrap themselves from time, how they fear the phrase “out of time” as though it means the show is over instead of only just begun). Things only got better and better, the landscape of life more expansive somehow like a balloon released from a tight corner; the sense of burgeoning yet undefined possibility in every moment the most assertive thing present.

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Acknowledging the relationships we have

Sometimes acknowledging the relationships we have can be a beautifully simple yet powerful thing to do; transformative in its way. Take the relationship I have with the cycles of the sun…how I notice the difference in my behaviour, my urges, my health according to the rhythms of solar maximum and minimum or whether the sun is “active” today. Not a relationship that many people are aware of, it seems, and yet we all have it and its one that I happened to have studied since it became more and more obvious to me over the past few years. Take today as example; awake with the dawn to meditate (though not a day it came easily…), do yoga, cramming celery through a juicer by 7 o’ clock humming Road to Marrakesh at breakneck speed (don’t know why…must have heard it and its got into my head) and with a list of “want to do’s” as long as my arm so I’m already tapping away on my computer. And this, a post that I didn’t even know I was going to write ten minutes ago, apparently first on my list. The solar wind is arrived, I assume…I know without checking; all the more obvious to me in these days of solar minimum when the long days in between can feel like moving at a snail’s pace through treacle (and my body’s processes feel like that to). Some days feel much (much) slower than this, whether I wanted it to be that way or not…and I can work  effectively with those too; allowing that there are other priorities to be taken care of at those times and, still, ways I can get worthwhile things done, even if that is resting and taking pause.

And it’s not just the cycles of the sun but the cycles of the seasons, of the weather, of the day…noticing them, how they make us feel (yes, differently, at different times..for all our modern perspective makes us like to think that we can streamline absolutely everything…), which can be so powerful. Not in order to give our power away to them but to acknowledge that they are there and that we are part of something bigger than just the minutiae of our world and our highly-focused daily preoccupations. It allows us to work with them to create the best possible outcomes. Being sensitive to these cues is, I have found, such a gift more so than a hardship that bangs on my door with unnecessary data to deliver.

The same, of course, in any relationship; with family, friends, colleagues, people who test our patience or our understanding and all those other people we hardly know but have to muddle along with. When we acknowledge that all of these represent “relationship” at some level, we stop giving our power over to them yet become the masters of working with situations that might otherwise take us along for their ride. It allows us to develop tact, patience and broader understanding (since it’s not “all about us”). It allows us to be at once humbled by the minute part we play in something vastly more complex and yet to steer our own vehicle according to the conditions, maximising our use of “what is” rather than labouring against the flow, which makes the best possible navigator of us and delivers the highest likelihood of reaching the destination of our greatest aspiration. So, with the wind so obviously in my sails, my super-productive day gets started (and its only 7.30).

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Finding my sweet spot

As alluded to in my last post, what I am really most about, right now (and I notice how I am not the only one…perhaps its something a whole lot of us are starting to find our way back to) is “finding my sweet spot” and then staying there.

What do I mean by this? Well, in very literal terms, as any photographer will understand, its about choosing my focal point and zooming in on it…not to the exclusion of all else but so that those other things become softer, more out of focus; they may even add the kind of contrast, colour or texture that enhance whatever it is that I am choosing to land my gaze upon but they don’t detract, or distract, from it. Its about finding what brings me most directly into contact with that feeling of peace and of joy and choosing to stay there.

Funny that the photography analogy should come so easily to hand as I’m finding that I’m doing the same thing with my art process right now; which is, increasingly, all about the digital process from photo to…sometimes…something a little more worked on or abstract but even when it remains “just” a photo, I like to choose what both me (and thus the viewer) is looking at. You could say, I guide them towards what it was that I experienced. My new-ish favourite toy for doing this is a lens called the “Sweet 50”, a name which still makes me laugh, a few months since I got it, due to the appropriateness of how it does exactly what I said above and then even has my age in the title. I mean, in the very year that I turn 50 and am so intent upon finding my own personal sweet spot in life, how amusing and apt that this lens should apparently frame that very intention in its name!

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 22.48.04

Experiential Abbey House Garden photos taken (many of them, using the Sweet 50 lens!) this week on the first of several garden visits to celebrate turning 50; click to view.

This lens is a marvel for the fact that you can bend it and otherwise manipulate it…in fact, most of the time, I refer to it simply as “my bendy lens”. On the back of it, I’ve had some pretty interesting and funny conversations with complete strangers, I can tell you. These days, I seldom go out without it and, in fact, am drawing the conclusion that I prefer it to my “normal, does everything” lens. After all, who wants to see things exactly as they are, documentary fashion (such photography, however skilful, leaves me slab cold). Perhaps it’s the artist in me but I get a whole other degree of excitement in my chest when I take photos that are soft, often (by some people’s standards) fatally blurred or distorted but which convey a feeling, much as I sought to do (often with less aplomb…) as a painter. I get to recreate something that is visceral inside of me as I experience what I do in, say (typically) a garden and then match that frequency to what I achieve with my lens, along with any follow-up editing I do back home. In fact, half the time when I use a “normal” lens, these days, I find myself processing the photos to look more like I took them with the Sweet 50; which tells me such a lot, not only about my evolving art-photography process and the direction it’s taking, but about the whole direction of my life. I just seem to prefer looking at life this way!

After all, we don’t see things documentary-style. We don’t get the super clear, clean-cut edges to “the image” that television manufacturers boast about as we experience life, frame by frame. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to what you are aware of right now and you will notice, perhaps for the first time consciously, how there is only a very tiny part of what you are seeing that is in sharp focus; that the rest is all blur, shadow, blobs of colour, abstraction. And yes, the brain takes all that peripheral data in, messy as it seems, contributing to how we feel in deep down ways that we hardly notice, telling us how relaxed to feel; whether we can let our guard down, chill out. Perhaps these parts of the image remind us, at the subconscious level, who we truly are when we sleep at night as all the trials and tribulations of so-called real life dissolve away. Now, mixed up in all that visual soup, there is also the broader sensory focus (you could call it “inner vision”) that guides you to what you are choosing to make central to your attention and, as it were, dims down or fades out all the rest. We do it all the time, sometimes to our detriment…focussing clearly, say, on the terrible news headlines or the grit and grime of our daily lives but missing the softer stuff, the beauty and the opportunities to notice all that is loveable. So, as an artist, what do I most want to do…do I want to present it all on an equal footing, as though you were standing there in that garden with me, getting to choose which blade of grass to examine closely next? (I tend to think that would make me into someone who delivers visual information…but not an artist.) Or do I want to share what I, personally, focussed on and so experienced there because it was so high-frequency it overwhelmed me with love and appreciation of life and I want to dole that out like a tonic to all the world?

Guess what, of course that’s what I most want I do. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. And then even the soft, dreamy, unfocused bits around the edges become part of the emotional experience of it, like a cue to relax and feel good. There’s no accident about the fact that Monet is still one of the most loved and sought after artists of our time; that people still sit for hours (and I’m one of them) when confronted with his waterlily paintings hung in the round on a gallery wall (I refer to L’Orangerie and so recommend it as the place you are most likely to loose yourself in deep meditation in all of busy Paris). But then, of course, Monet was half-blind when he painted those canvases; and those years at Giverny became his own personal sweet spot since his whole garden became the soft-focus paradise that delivered his very best work to the world.

My best work is yet to come but I know it all starts here. In the week of my fiftieth we visited some of the most beautiful gardens that we have access to here in the south of England and I now have photography coming out of my ears. Just as well my other task of the week was to set up a new platform for photography; somewhere I can truly showcase it and sell all the prints I want to, anywhere in the world, with the least amount of logistical headache (another prime aspiration of the “sweet spot” years). The best of these raw images, so far (and I am only part way through processing them) were taken when I chose a sweet spot and focused my particular attention there…or chose no actual focus at all but went for the soft meditatative gaze, allowing the colour and form to gently dance itself into position and shine out without substance or meaning. I’ll let you decide for yourselves whether this approach works for you, either as a visual medium or as a way of life, but for me it feels like finding the very pinpoint of my purpose in life, on so many levels. More than that, I sense there’s pure alchemy in it; for both me and for others, perhaps, all of us, as a broader practice that allows some of the hard edges and definitions of life….things that we have allowed to perpetuate, to restrict or dictate and which continue to wound us, or remind us of old hurts, long after they are relevant or useful…to soften, obscure and simply fade away into abstract shapes with less substance, leaving centre-stage the prime focal point filled with joy, beauty, gratitude and purest love.

You can find a growing collection of the kind of photography I have spoken about in my brand-new website. Visit at





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For sure, life has been one massive series of transitions into the new for me this year and, yes, I’m at that middle stage in a woman’s life when many things get to change, all at once…with an impact that varies according to how relaxed and flexible that woman is as that new wave comes into the shore. Will she ride with it, will she lose her footing, will there be rocks she didn’t see lying there beneath seemingly tranquil water…all remains to be seen and there is not one set of binoculars that could help her foresee the new vista that will be hers on the other side of the transition. Yet, as I have long maintained, this is meant to be a “coming of age” not a downward-spiralling aging process for a woman; a power time, if she will let it be whatever it is going to be without trying to predict or control it…

Chronologically, my year of transitions began with my AuraTransformation just six weeks into the year and which, though the jury is still out as to what that has, fully, meant for me (and I’m not sure when or even if I will be ready to share its ins and outs…but you can research the process via the linked website if you are curious) that step certainly seemed “big” and momentous enough to me before I went through it (following months of reading and research) that I thoroughly expected to walk out of those two sessions a changed persion….and we all know what expectations can do. And so I did; because I tumbled from that second day of the “treatment”, as though from a loose rock, straight into a nasty bout of the flu; a lost footing that felt like a recalibration of sorts, one which forced me to pull back and take stock enough that several great things came out of it, all of them altering my trajectory. So, I guess, you could say that it “worked” as a portal and is doing its thing in ways that continue to surprise me.

Then, I have just turned fifty in the last week; something which I have approached with unbridled optimism and even excitement (none of the woe and sardonic humour that most people seem to apply) yet it is a formidable portal, nonetheless. As it approached, I seemed to garner my unseen arsenal of personal strengths about me as through preparing to wear them all in a new and no-longer apologetic way. It felt like that season of watching the fruit spring from where the blossom had once been and I’ve been smacking my lips on how ripe that all feels; how I relish the opportunity to wear all the deeper, stronger colours of myself and be all that I am without hiding any of it anymore. A week into stepping into what feels like the lush garden of my fifties and I am still ambling around bare-foot, touching all the trees, wearing a Mona Lisa smile upon my lips…

Add to all that, I think I am “allowed’ at last to call myself menopausal since its been a good long while now since my body followed what you could call a monthly cycle (and such joyful liberation with that!), the new rhythm having finally arranged itself and settled about me like a new garment made of extra fabric than I was once used to but suiting me much better. I hope so; I long for all those ups and downs not to return (as its done before, after long pauses…but never this long) as I feel like I know how to drive this vehicle now; or almost so, with not so many scrapes against the curb. I feel so much more settled and “like myself” all of the time and all the many adjustments in how my body, my skin, my libido, my moods, my appetite…etc. behave are becoming more familiar to me now and, yes, so-much prefered to the old ways (OK, so the skin and hair take some more work than they once did but I’ll get there). Again, this all feeds a sense of my stepping into the power and wisdom of the years ahead, which will be all about me rather than about child rearing or juggling the family dynamic. Heaven forbid that grandchildren ever be dropped at my door for longer than a few hours at a time; those days are behind me now, I never was such a natural at it…always a struggle for me as it meant being far more grounded than I am naturally capable of. The days ahead feel like they are truly mine, perhaps for the first time in this or many lifetimes….and the sense of spaciousness is overwhelming and thrilling.

Then my daughter is preparing to leave home and it is at once exciting and nerve-wracking; actually, more of the former and I’m thrilled to see how ready she is, at last. Yes, I know it will be so different I almost can’t imagine it; and that my mother really struggled when the same transition came up to her as I left the nest (and it half broke both of our hearts to know it about each other and yet be apart) but this feels different. Together, we have constructed our relationship and our personal priorities differently, and more openly,  to that old format and I have a sense of self that goes way beyond my role of parent, as does she beyond that of daughter. It will only get better as we allow each other the space to manoeuver and to, then, inspire each other even more. I’m in joy for us both yet it feels like unhooking something a little more each day during the processional months leading up to it; like carefully disengaging the woven cloth from the loom, loop by loop, teasing it into its own shape and admiring what has been made, partly with the labour of my hands but now profoundly separate from them and with its very own pattern. It feels at once commonplace and yet earth-shatteringly momentous to be walking through this phase, knowing it will happen as surely as the clock will tick the hour that brings it…and no turning back to these family days, which we will all be, one day, so nostalgic about. I can’t help but be affected by this, pragmatic as I am and, yes, it is quite the portal to step through.

Into the garden

Artwork: ©Helen White (click to view)

Somewhere running along side me, accompanying me through this corridor of many doorways, there is a strong and steady beat keeping pace for me….could be my own softly treading footsteps, could be the sound of my heartbeat, my in and out breath as I meditate each morning. Rediscovering that my meditation practice holds me steady through all the transitions that life inevitably brings has been a big gift, this year; perhaps the biggest. In those tender moments, once…sometimes twice… a day for as long as I need to sit there and be completely still, I have  re-befriended the void and that’s good since void is all there really is on the other side of all these life-transitions. I have come to realise that the only reason that people sometimes struggle through them is because they insist on carrying their expectations with them when, really, they cannot know what is on the other side nor take what they thought that they knew through there for comfort. They can take precious memories, yes; but they can have no surefire guarantee that what those things taught them “then” will apply or hold currency where they are heading.  That’s the point. There is no forecast and we arrive at the threshold stripped down to our most refined essence, which it serves us well to be as familiar with as we can be. Relationships, daily routines, body functions, all these things are open to total reinvention when we go through such transitions and yet, when we regard that unknown vista ahead of us as pure potential, it always takes perfect shape for us and in ways we could hardly have fathomed or predicted before.

All I really know about the new phase ahead is that emptiness and void feel like my closest friends; and so I struggle with any kind of routine or commitment right now, resisting the merest hint of them like they are ropes that would loop and bind me before I’ve had chance to explore for myself. Even the most appealing work commitments (like the design brief I’m working to this morning, which ought to excite me yet, because I have a deadline to work to, I can feel myself bristling in resistance) feel like more than I really want hanging about me right now and all my efforts have been to simplify my business so that it can pretty much run itself this year. My urge to express opinions, to try to advise or instruct people how to live their lives or to share my deepest thoughts (except in their purest, least premeditated form, as with this post which came up quite suddenly…) was never more like a sail with no wind than this. Liberty is calling me across the open horizon, loud and clear, and if that’s what the void on the other side of so many portals is about for me then that is what I will head for, as a feeling that is just so good that it can’t possibly lead me astray. With this acknowledgement, I find that where I am now is as uncomplicated as it could be since it is all about pursuing what brings me enjoyment, joy being my most reliable signpost and the only one to which I feel I, truly, need to pay attention; knowing it won’t lead me off piste. Yes it takes so-called sacrifice to do this; effort to simplify your life, to want less that is unnecessary, likely to clutter or put demands on your fiances and time yet it feels so worth it and all part of the honing process as you work back to what is really important; what is really, truly, what you are all about in your heart.

So whether I write here (or not), whether I paint ever again (or not…and it seems to be a resounding “not” right now), whether I develop the many new strands of my work (again, or not…since I remain constantly attentive as to whether to continue or to change paths at a moment’s notice); or whether I dare to do what summons abject terror into the hearts of most by doing absolutely nothing until the calling comes, all remains to be seen and is open to daily evolution. What I can be quite sure of is that its is all part of my particular version of stepping through a giant doorway into the brand new landscape which has yet to become “my life” and which, if I remain true to these thoughts, will remain in a constant state of “becoming”, like a flower eternally unfolding petals, for all the days of my life.

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Dealing with solar minimum blues

We are energetic beings, our systems a finely tuned electrical circuit, our health far more determined by the frequency that we hold in the quantum spaces in our cells than by the “matter” surrounding them; something of which I have become minutely aware over this past decade. So, my hypothesis is, when our biology becomes naturally more sluggish akin to the sun’s activity “dying down” (since, yes, we are intrisically connected) these, as yet, largely misunderstood man-made aggravants to our biology take over and provoke our natural electrical frequencies even more than ever before. So, what can we do for ourselves?

Living whole

Almost as an aside to my usual topics (though it feels like an important one), I feel I want to share an observation this morning and its that I believe there is such a strong correlation between health and the solar cycles as they switch between solar maximum and minimum. There’s no denying that I have really struggled with my health and energy levels this year and the only time I can really compare this with is the period about 9 or so years ago when I also felt exhaustedly sluggish, inexplicably painful and like every day was a physical mountain to climb (like this). That era came just before I got onto the fast-track trajectory of healing that has been the material of this blog ever since; which was about the same time the progression back towards solar maximum began once more. Coincidence? Without this explanation, what other reason…

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To walk visible…at last

Was your fierce teenage femininity woken up and crystallised by Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”? Mine certainly was. There’s a feeling within me that will be forever Cathy; or, she is the bookmark for it in “me”. And my Heathcliffe? I spent many rambling years looking for aspects of him too; or, working out exactly what that would look like in a red-blooded male without him giving over to the demon that a world at odds with that quality might provoke…finding it, in the end, in the most unlikely of places, beautifully packaged as the love of my life. When Kate Bush planted the essence of this kind of female~male union into a song, for all she confessed not to have read the book when she wrote it, it became a sort of mantra to preserving this quality until it became the rite of passage, each year, to play that song for at least a few days each Springtime (which I’ve done since it was first released and, without method or forethought, I still tend to do). Yet how long since I last read Emily Brontë’s actual words on paper; when was that exactly? Oh, a very l-o-n-g time ago.

Yesterday, something of this essence in the air, as I came indoors rain battered and wind-swept from a day with my fingers in the Spring soil and a walk so mud-splattered I had to peel myself from my clothes, made me land upon the BBC drama “To Walk Invisible” which, not being a TV watcher, I had been unaware of before. So, as I dried off, I watched it all as a stand-alone “movie” offered by Amazon and it took me back there; to some quality I carry inside me, born of deep-emersion in the Brontës and their world many moons ago as a girl. Like one of the seeds I had just planted, I felt it respond as though to the rain that was still pounding outside; softly yielding, revealing depths of myself I seldom allow to see light of day…not these days.

I know I’ve thought of re-reading “Wuthering Heights” many times over the years; downloading it to Kindle to take on holiday last year or was it the one before. What stopped me, caused hesitation? Did I fear disappointment with what engaged me so as a girl like when you try to visit the most magical books of childhood and they’re just not the same, am I more squeamish of the dark than I used to be, or was it the thought of comparison…with where I am now…that I most dreaded? For, where is my inner Cathy, where are my wild moors; have I sold my life out to the Lintons, made nice and put wild plaything away? Or am I still promising them to myself “tomorrow”?

It seems, these days, my “Heathcliffe” and I speak of little else but wild tomorrows, freer days, running unfettered on a landscape less cluttered and far less demanding, being “who we really are” in every moment, out there in the elements instead of watching though a traffic-smog-smeared pane of glass…and we will, on our three-to-five-year plan to “change everything”. But in the meantime, its time to remember that the Cathy-that-is-me never goes anywhere; she is part of me and I’ve done better at keeping her sustained inside of me than some almost-fifty-year-olds…no hauntings or tapping on my windows required. In other words, not so changed as I could be, half way through life, but there’s still work to be done. So, is there divine timing in my “chance” afternoon spent with the Brontës? Perhaps the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth and my 50th, combined, is the perfect time to re-read that novel. There’s a personal and more general message in all this because its time, at so many levels, for the feminine to walk visibly on this earth, displaying all of her depths, her wildness and her great genius and the Brontës would be so very glad to see it.

“I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free… Why am I so changed? I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills.” Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.


To Walk Invisible“To Walk Invisible” (BBC, 2016) is perfectly on theme with so many of the topics in this blog and I heartily recommend it for capturing the essence of the Brontës, their hardships, their sheer genius and determination. As background for the challenges they faced as women seeking to be published in a world full of male writers, and within their particular family circumstances, it does exceptionally well…no glossing over or romanticising how they came to be amongst the most respected writers of all time. To quote Emily Brontë in part of the scrip based on the letters of Charlotte Brontë: “”When a man writes something, it’s what he’s written that’s judged. When a woman writes something, it’s her that’s judged.”

An anecdote about Kate Bush is that she had only watched ten minutes of a BBC adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” at the point when she wrote the song and went on to read just a handful of lines from the  book before finishing it; which just goes to highlight how we tend to act “off” second-hand interpretations more so than originals in this day-and-age. Yet, the planting of those lyrics in my almost ten year-old head somehow ignited me and certainly fuelled my desire to read the book when I did, maybe two or three years later. There was a flavour of…something distinct;  and I recognised it in me. Reading her interviews (see article) on the topic, Bush really felt she had captured an essence of Cathy from the few lines she read and what she had seen on the TV. On later reading the whole novel, she found the particular lyrics she had written almost bizarrely apt “as though” she had already read it on composing them or had been drawn to particular words. It was a particular feeling of wildness and longing that she tuned into and could recognise in herself, which is what I also recognised when I heard the song. We pass these batons between us, one hand to another…which can be powerful.

Yet, because of second-hand assumptions, has Emily Brontë, in particular, been underestimated  as a writer; stereotyped as the cult-author of a “gothic-romantic” novel at the expense of depths that go way beyond such a cliché? Radhika Oberoi explores how the trappings of  canny marketing ploys and more have obscured what “Wuthering Heights” really has to offer in her tribute article in The Wire, which is well worth reading. Once upon a time, I also used to have an intimate relationship with that much dramatised story “Jane Eyre”, its “supressed feminine” themes weaving in and out of my own life-experiences and helping me to navigate them in some surprisingly informed ways and yet when did I last pick that novel up and hold it between my hands instead of resorting to delivery by screen on a rainy afternoon? The only way to descale something that has become so encrusted with other agendas is to go back to base…and pick up the original article to assess with your own eyes; not the TV or movie adaptation, not the song lyric, the reference or anyone else’s interpretation but the actual words on a page as they were written. To become absorbed in them, like we did the first time; when those words carried us off somewhere and brought us back feeling transformed. Perhaps they wait there holding even more for us now on the revisit…

To Walk Invisible – BBC, 2015 (DVD or video on Amazon)

Rereading Wuthering Heights: A Tribute to Emily Brontë – Radhika Oberoi, The Wire



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Deep-diving the Medical Medium’s healing plan

If you are contemplating how to go about the deep heal from chronic illness or some mystery ailment (or collection or ailments) that have been with you for years, you could do no better than to deep dive into everything offered by the Medical Medium, Anthony William.

Sharing this book recommendation post from my “other” blog as I feel its just so important to spread the word to anyone feeling stuck in their health.

Deep-diving the Medical Medium’s healing plan

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Where there is paradox there is God

Source doesn’t move into form packed in neatly arranged boxes. God is in the detail, yes; but God is also in the so-called empty spaces within. Particle and wave; both the visible, tangible shape and the utterly intangible, indefinable, flux, will-o’-the-wisp and butterfly on the wing, never to be pinned down or held there…not even for a moment; only, perhaps, seemingly as a playful wink in the catch-me-if-you-can game. This is why Source can’t be found in dogma or rules; only in suggestions with the space to manoeuver. Source can be felt to be very near when these two qualities lie so close together that, paradoxically, they both push and pull against one another yet co-habitate so easily, comfortably, like old soul mates and companions, all at the same time and without conflict or contradiction.

Blake 5This God-Source is both vessel and the supreme emptiness within; a void that is always poised to be filled to the brim though its infinite spaciousness persists way beyond the realised intention. It is that moment of preparedness to act yet before action has taken shape; one foot on the ground, the other…ready. Potential, pregnancy and poise; then, just as soon as action has been taken, Source flits to the next vessel of emptiness to start over (we notice this in ourselves and yet how we fear and resist it; this mercurial quality that reminds us we too are Source). Our own cells contain unimaginable quantities of these so-called empty vessels; the quantum mystery at the heart of our most measurable, quantifiable fibres of being. They hold our unwritten potential, though we hardly conceive of what this means we are capable of; having only ever seen the tip of its iceburg manifest above the waterline. Physically constrained…yet unlimited, mortal….eternal and so the list goes on. We are a perpetual state of paradox…embodied; the see-saw of the divine. Which means, wherever we most focus, we make more of that; be it hard edges or boundless expansion. Or, when we allow our most paradoxical qualities to harmoniously co-exist, we create many miracles.

These words were inspired by the theme of yesterday’s post, Curiosity killed the joy

Image: William Blake’s Albion; to me, that moment of poise and pregnancy before action.



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