There’s no coincidence to me that the bird most associated with darkness, with night-hunting, with reticence, even with superstition and the spiritual aspect plus all the usual dross hung onto that by a male-oriented world (considered a harbinger of bad luck, an omen of death and all of that) has started to appear almost daily on my walks. This barn owl, the companion of many half-light walks at dawn and dusk last summer (as mentioned in my recent post The Quickening), is now to be seen most afternoons, in drizzle or full sunshine; she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s there when I first get to the river and I get to see her figure of eight coverage of the two very large fields where I walk, not to mention sitting in trees and on fence posts. Over about a year now, its become a game to try and capture her in flight, swift though she is, and these are some of my best efforts so far. Why “she”? I just feel it and its nothing to do with gender; as ever, this ever-more frequent and reliable encounter feels like a messenger or a clue, a sign of the times. There is a feeling of unstoppable momentum in the air as more and more things dare to “come out” into daylight and the whole of nature is singing its song.
There’s been speculation for over a hundred years, probably longer, why more barn owls seem to be sighted in full daylight than, its assumed, used to be the case (see The Daylight Activity of Barn Owls) yet that too is consistent with my gut feeling on the matter. The feminine aspect has also been showing her face in the light of day more and more, in steady increments, over that exact same time span.
There’s a great article on all the superstition associated with owls on Ancient Origins entitled Ancient Symbolism of the Owl: Omen of the Good, the Bad and the Deadly (an excerpt, with full article available on subscription). According to this, the very earliest owls, around 48 million years ago, also hunted by day, sharing the same characteristics as modern hawks. One gets the impression they were, as it were, forced to become creatures of the shadows by circumstances beyond their influence and in order to preserve some of their inherent characteristics, not unlike the feminine aspect herself. I’m with the neolithic folk and ancient Greeks for whom the wide staring eyes of the Eye Goddess were all-seeing and all-knowing, and with Hindu tradition in which they are regarded as the companions of goddesses. According to the article, “The white barn owl especially is considered as a brahmin (an upper caste in Hinduism specializing as priests, teachers and protectors of sacred learning).”
It’s no coincidence to me either that this is occurring on my daily walks just as something else sees the light of day for the very first time. My plan to write “a book” has been near the top of my to-do list since I was eight years old and yet here I am, almost fifty one, and it’s only just materialising, finally. This project almost “happened” twice before but, for different reasons each time, the timing wasn’t right and it felt too forced, like I was trying much too hard. This time, I had the very first thought to do it just a week ago, I dived in on Monday and, within days, I have chapter after chapter in draft form; it’s literally pouring out of me, straight from a pool of self-gathered wisdom thus no research required.
So if I spend less time “in here” blogging for a while, you will have to excuse me. All of my best is now going into my book and, tempting though it is to share one or two chapters here as a taster, I’m going to refrain for now and let this baby be born intact. At this rate, it won’t take so very long.
Some tips on self-publishing
Incidentally, if writing a book is also near the top of your to-do list, there’s never been an easier time to self-publish; even more so than a couple of years ago when I last explored resources. So, I’d like to suggest, perhaps its time to let your book see the light of day too!
I found a long list of such resources in this useful article 30 Best Self-Publishing Tools and Resources for Your Next Book and the handful that I have gone with, so far, are Pressbooks (for an eplatform ready book layout), Canva (for creating a cover design) and Bear. The latter, in particular, is already something I adore, keeping it open on my desktop and using it all day every day. By tagging note entries, I already have chapters, cross-referencing and even indexing well in hand and its so easy to use. I’m finding I can, for instance, jot down an inspired thought I had while doing something else and still find it again later in order to flesh it out or, at least, know its saved-up in outline with a couple of appropriate tags to link it to other related sections when it comes to drawing it all together. I can even use it on my phone when I’m out which means no more scribbles on the back of receipts (which bodes well for a few nights away and couple of long train journeys and flights I have coming up; the kind of travel that is guaranteed to throw up all kinds of gems).
The very fact of using these apps is making the whole writing process easier and more pleasurable, with a stronger sense of “getting somewhere” and creating a structure quickly. When our best intentions and the best means to carry then out converge, its a clear indication we are right on time. So maybe this is why I saved-up writing my book until now; the right resources simply weren’t ready for me any sooner because the right time for it is exactly now.