Where the wildflowers grow

Image: Google search

Image: Google search

Locus iste a Deo factus est,
Inaestimabile sacramentum,
irreprehensibilis est.

This place was made by God.
A priceless mystery,
it is without reproach.

Anton Bruckner.

I was talking this morning with a friend about the different directions that the spiritual journey may lead us and the effects that can have on a life… your life or mine. There is no way of knowing or predicting when, or indeed if, that journey will change gear and lead you to a place unknown, changing your expected destination for another as you enter a new phase of a life suddenly unfamiliar. It is like stepping through a doorway to another world, one where the demands

There are degrees, of course, from the ‘turning point’ we speak of in the Silent Eye, that point where the world dims and the eyes of the heart seek another Light, through the whole gamut of our differing experience to those moments of personal, spiritual revelation that are impossible to communicate.

It is easy to write of the details of daily life, less easy to describe the momentous yet invisible shifts by which that life can be pulled from under our feet by inner events. It is especially difficult to write of these things without sounding deluded, pretentious or both. And some things are simply better left unsaid and unwritten.

There are many who seek that moment of union, fighting their way toward it, as if by study, dedication or the application of intellect or faith it can be earned. I’m not so sure that it can. I think it has to be lived; the house prepared, the vessel clean and empty and held up for the wine to be poured by which it can be filled with something other than self.

The vessel is what gives form in the world to what it contains, and to empty the vessel of self can be a painful process. We make of ourselves a container fit for purpose and, to use an ancient metaphor, the base metal must be shaped and formed, heated in the fires of life, impurities purged … and as the iron in the heat of the forge could attest, that is no sinecure.

We are such a tangled mass of illusions about ourselves and they have to be unravelled… a tapestry of self-images that must be unpicked and it can seem a fearsome thing when what has to be unpicked is you… every last stitch until you are naked in the mirror of Being and you can see, accept and know yourself for who you truly are and not what the ego has been trying desperately to believe in all those years. From the human perspective that is, for most of us, not a pretty sight! Yet, there is a freedom in it, a freedom from the weight of the masks and screens behind which we have hidden.

Knowing yourself for who you truly are, warts, blemishes and all, might not sound the most attractive of propositions. Most of us are aware of our deeper flaws, even when our conscious mind hastily glosses over them, or finds excuses, we still know, somewhere deep inside, what it is that drives us. We call it by many names but mostly it comes down to fear… the fear of rejection or being seen to fail, of being less than good enough or of being unloved, of being different…or of being the same… There are many facets to the gem of humanity.

Yet to know yourself for who you truly are carries another aspect, for there is within each of us a spark of divinity… a cosmic beauty and a light that burns whether we will or no. To turn to the source of that light and, in full awareness offer your self as a vessel can seem a terrifying prospect. What of you will be left? The old saying in the Mysteries is that he ‘who looks upon the face of God comes not again’… and we, as human beings, are programmed to preserve life and identity.

Yet you do not lose who you are… there is no miraculous wand waving change, no automatic sainthood; the faults, fears and problems remain and you continue to make the mistakes and live the life that makes you human. Yet, many things do change, priorities shift as the focus shifts from your outer self…you become more of what you really are… The crumbling mansions of the ego are well and truly cemented in, but if you can pull them down and see the ruins as they lie about your feet, it is then that the wildflowers come in.

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An old one

The fragrant threshold

“His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh.” Song of Solomon 5:13

There are lilies on the table today. I love them, beautiful things that they are. Resplendent flowers, impossible to ignore. Perfectly structured for their purpose, yet with a flamboyant, opulent grace and loveliness of form, to my eyes, unrivalled. There is something  incredible in knowing their unprepossessing beginnings in the earth and seeing their glory unfold.

I have a particular connection to lilies, of course, through my name:

“…deriving originally from Middle Egyptian “sšn” (lotus flower), first reported on an 11th Dynasty sarcophagus dating from approximately 2000 B.C. However, the Hebrew root for the name for the lily, שושן is derived from the root שוש or ששנ, meaning “to be joyful, bright, or cheerful”, which is the basis for the word and name ששון Sasson, meaning “joy of life*”. The Persian name for lily is سوسن sousan, susan.” Wikipedia

It somehow seems entirely appropriate to me that this name that has survived since antiquity on a coffin should be passed down the generations as new babes are born into the world. It is a name to live up to and though I never managed to be tall and stately, I have touched the joy.

lilies 014

Lilies are one of those flowers people love or hate. They seem to embody so much symbolism, from the purity of the Virgin to a symbol of Death and sorrow… though perhaps the two are not so very different. They both hold the seeds of change and new beginnings. I carried lilies on my wedding day, so many years ago, when a bride, too young, walked down a lofty aisle towards a changed future. I have placed them tenderly on the coffins of the dead as they move from this world to another state. And I have them in my home to remind me of the beauty, fragility and impermanence of all things. They remind me too of something more than that.

This morning, as I lit the candle and closed my eyes for meditation, their perfume was insistent. I could not relax my face as a smile hovered on my lips. As such odd things do, words attributed to Carlos Santana wandered through the mind I was trying to still… “When a baby comes you can smell two things: the smell of flesh, which smells like chicken soup, and the smell of lilies, the flower of another garden, the spiritual garden.”

The first time I heard that I knew he was right about the chicken soup… the words took me back to the birth of my sons. He is right, I think, about the other garden too. There is something about the fragrance of lilies that is otherworldly and seems too much to be possible,

“……such a Snare of Perfume shall fling up into the Air, As not a True Believer passing by But shall be overtaken unaware.” The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

gardenand stuff 4712

We all know how evocative a scent can be… whether it be as overwhelming as a lily or as awful as a wet dog, the vague nail polish aroma of childhood sweets or that indefinable smell of home… Scents have that immediate power to trigger memory and emotion, transporting us through time and space to another where and when. Yet perfume is invisible, intangible and personal. Volatile molecules hit the olfactory receptors and the brain interprets that unique combination, setting up a sequence of triggers that allow recognition or personal comparison. We can… now… see those molecules… we have made sufficient technological advances to be able to do that, though speculation on the sense of smell dates back at least to ancient Greece.

Yet the molecules are not the perfume… only the things that carry it to our attention. It is within ourselves that those molecules become the evocative, elusive fragrance. You can’t really describe it or show it. You cannot share how you experience a scent, only experience it for yourself.

The perfume that fills my room today is, for me, an affirmation. Beyond what eyes can see or words can share is something invisible and intangible that can only be experienced by every one of us. It is unique to each of us, speaking to us in a whisper only we can hear. We can talk about it, try and share it, as we do with things that move us, yet we can only ever live it and feel it. For me lilies carry the numinous fragrance of possibility, of change and of Life.Magicians handbook officers 020

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Risk of dying…

Death: Paul Kidby

“Running just a few minutes a day reduces risk of dying”

Really??

Such was the headline on the news item this morning.

Now, I don’t run. There is a certain top-heaviness in the curves department that has always made running feel ungraceful for me. It holds few attractions unless it is barefoot through heather or snow when I don’t actually give the proverbial monkey’s about being graceful. I have huge admiration, and a certain amount of jealousy for those who can and do run, but personally, I’ve always preferred to get my exercise in other ways. But hey, if it is going to ‘reduce the risk of dying’…

Except, of course, it isn’t… and the journalist who wrote that wants to be given some fundamental lessons in the mechanics of life. Because the one thing that is absolutely, unquestionably, unarguably certain is that dying is not a risk… it is an inevitability.

It is true that my son has categorically refused permission for me to die without his consent, given in triplicate and deposited in the local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of our Earth years.. no, wait… that was the Vogon demolition plans for Earth…

But the permission thing stands.

While I am sorry to disappoint my son or indeed disobey my employer, the two being one and the same; on this occasion, and possibly with regret, I will, unfortunately be obliged to do so. I am going to die.

And that is okay.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I have no immediate plans for it, nor reason to suspect the event to be imminent; it is not scheduled in the calendar, I have not polished my shoes in preparation nor am I submitting my holiday request form for the occasion. But it is going to happen one of these days and no amount of running is going to alter that. Nor will any other form of exercise, any amount of healthy eating or exotic diet. Birth and death are part of the same package and if our erstwhile journalist is writing articles on his Dictaphone whilst jogging his way to immortality, he may as well stop now.

Running… five a day… cycling… all the adjuncts of ‘healthy living’ will not reduce the risk of death by one iota. They may prolong life; they may protect and encourage good health. But the scythe of Death is inescapable.

And that worries me.

Not the dying thing… that’s okay. Granted I might have a preference or two about the manner of it… were I to be given any choice in the matter… but the actual exit itself is fine. What worries me is the denial of death that we seem to be suffering from these days in western society. The denial of life too, in many ways; its natural process and progression from youth to age. The pursuit of physical health I have no problem with; the maintenance of the machine that carries us through our days has a lot to be said for it. But I have to wonder about motivation here; I know there are many genuine and utterly valid motivations at individual level, but as a society it makes me wonder what we are playing at sometimes.

Are we really pursuing health, half the time, or attempting to evade death? Are we pursuing an ideal of beauty because of its fitness for purpose and aesthetics or because we are afraid our own reflection, our own self-image, somehow isn’t good enough? Or attempting, with scalpel and needle to delay the ageing process because we have ceased to value the wisdom of years or the beauty of a face whose journey is written in the contours and wrinkles of experience?

Many write of the cult of celebrity and media and decry the influence it has on our young people, seeing the extremes they go to in search of that model figure without a curve in sight, yet I have a feeling that more of us are influenced by its airbrushed projection that we might care to admit. Are we simply afraid of our own mortality?

“…reduces the risk of dying” indeed….hrmph!

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Last Day of 99 Cent Pricing! PRODIGY OF RAINBOW TOWER SALE!

Sue Vincent:

From Charles Yallowitz…

Originally posted on Legends of Windemere:

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On the edge of dreaming

Image: Google images

Image: Google images

There are Three
One that attracts;
bright in its beauty
beneficent jewel
that dazzles the senses.
one that repels;
darkness and sorrow
cloaking the gift,
Both unknown and unknowing.
One calls the heart
drawing you closer,
greeting the blade
that bars the way.

In the dream there were Three and I watched them dancing on lines of light. About them a sphere, vast as a universe; a pale bubble, insubstantial yet present, containing the within from the without with no boundary yet they stood on its perimeter.

What I am is outside the sphere, observing, a peripheral presence. Not from a single point, but all points simultaneously.

One dazzles, pulsing, glittering, drawing you into its ambit, expansive, welcoming as if with arms open.

One a mere shadow, the darkness of longing made visible, its need repulses; yet its dark wings outstretched hold a promise of sleep.

One is beauty, its glowing heart a thing sought and longed for, yet it is frozen within itself and guarded by the blade.

From the nadir of observation these things are alive; beings, facets… I do not know. I see them, but they are beyond me… separate from my existence, yet also not. Looking up they are to be reached for, strived for, sought and desired.

The I that observes explores each point, seeking understanding, focussing on each in turn… attraction, repulsion and forbidden beauty… the attraction that repels. Drawn to each in turn there is no understanding the one without the context of the other two.

From the place of each point I see the others, incomprehending; unable to fathom their depths through the lens of the one through which I look out, vision veiled in brilliance or shadow; drawn and desiring union with each unknown, yet failing to understand why.

Yet from the apex the observer looks down from a single point of clarity, a point mirrored at the shadowy nadir that sees only the obverse of the Three. Yet from this point the vista below is clear; the facets of the jewel brilliantly refracting the light within and without, coloured each with their own beauty, yet together a whole. The observer observes, seeing that it is both within and without, and the jewel in the sphere is both itself and is not.

I wake and start writing, attempting to capture what was given in dream, in the hope of nascent understanding…

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Notes from a small dog XLII

snow dog 003Frankly, I feel I should be starting this with ‘Dear Don’.

Sherbert indeed! … I know my colloquialisms and if we are to be talking of folk wandering off to find the odd sherbert… hmmm??? How many pubs can they fit into one little walk?

Yes, I know… she explained… it was an allusion to sherbert fountains… and if that makes it any better, then I’m a cat. It’s just a euphemism for pub if you ask me.

Oh yes, I can use the big words too… self defence… I have to keep an eye on what they’re writing you know… you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff they get up to!

‘N just cause that was a feather in my mouth actually, they needn’t start getting any ideas about a species change… the sex change was bad enough! Do I look like a ‘he’? The name change, for literary purposes (‘scuse me while I stop laughing… literary, yeah…!) well, that I might let them off. They did name my character for a divinity or two after all. They have some perception at least.

‘Daft dog’ though….

Hmmm…

Those books have a lot to answer for… I’ll be having words with the ball guy next time he’s here…

It’s not even as if they have any decent pictures… not even one of me in amongst all those colour photos… well! At least my book has lots of pictures of me…

Though I s’pose he did put my picture in his article….

stuff 009I’m not having a good day.

Oh, you can tell?

It’s the builders… they are still crawling all over the house and she won’t let me go and get rid of them, no matter how much I ask. What’s worse is all the birds. Not chase-able ones either. Dead ones.

There was a poorly one the other day and I sang and sang till she came out to rescue it ‘cause I couldn’t get to whatever it was that was tearing it to bits for all the scaffolding. By the time she managed to get to it there was only the head and a feather left. No, not the feather in the picture… I pinched that from her… she’s got loads

Then this morning when we were going out for my walk… we have to go early ‘cause it’s too hot for black fur coats, she says… there was a dead pigeon on the doorstep. She got really upset… she likes birds… has a bit of a thing about ‘em. Yeah, well, so do I, but they know they’re safe… we just play really and I always tell her about the lost babies so she can sort them out.

stonehenge 1028I’m not happy about all the dead birds round the house, though, not at all.

She says it can’t be the builders, but I’m not so sure… even the ginger cat next door wouldn’t just leave a whole pigeon…

So, they can lay off with the species change before they get any ideas… I’m a dog…

Mind you, with their new book coming out any day I’d better do a bit of checking up on what they have written in for me…book 0041

Catch you later,

Much love,

Ani xxx

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Dear Wen VI

sheffield chesterfield hare 221Dear Wen,

Thanks for the note…

Though I do wish you wouldn’t keep putting the image of the Beast of Breedon up.

I seem to recognise that form somehow…

The familiar gazelle eyes…

The floppy ears…

The lithely poised arch of the back.

I mean, it would only need a ball in its mouth…but let’s not go there…

What has the beast got in its mouth by the way?

ani 003Oh Lord… I think I may have twigged it…

It’s a liquorice stick and that daft animal is off to find the sherbet next…

I’m not best pleased… Anu is displaying a worrying ability to crop up in the unlikeliest of places… The roof of High Bradfield Church was bad enough. I can’t think what he was doing back then… running amok probably… some things never change.

sheffield chesterfield hare 104On a more positive note…The cover looks well…

The shadow obscures the faces in the rock for a later reveal…

We wouldn’t want to give too much away upfront… now would we…?

Look forward to Cheshire of which I have a little experience and the mead of course…

The crosses sound very promising… but have not yet got around to investigating properly…

Time…Anu

Sleep tight…

Love

Don x


DD front coverDon and Wen are characters in the series of books that began with The Initiate and continue now with the imminent release of the first book of the Doomsday series: The Æethling Thing.

Watch this space, or follow the link for a sneak peek into the book.

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The journey so far… Sue

My contribution to the tale of our spiritual journeys

Are we there yet?

nick north days 052My grandfather gave me his annotated copy of the Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune when I was 15. “This is the only magical book that you will ever need,” he told me. “But you’ll fill a good many bookshelves before you get there.” He was right. It was all in that first book; but learning is a spiral and you have to come back to the same point over and over again, bringing new knowledge and understanding each time before you can really see what lies in your hand.

I was born in Yorkshire into a family that was about as spiritually eclectic as you can get. The various members were Jewish / Buddhist / Methodist (with High Church for special occasions), with one grandfather who taught me very early about the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the other a Spiritualist minister and one grandmother a noted psychic, like her mother before her. I attended the Zion Baptist Sunday School with my Hindu and Moslem friends and that pretty much completed the picture. So, through my childhood a lot of things were thrown into the melting pot.

me1Everyone, it seemed, celebrated the convergences rather than the differences between their chosen paths and everything was treated as possible. I grew up simply accepting the spiritual journey, encouraged to find my own path forward, not encountering religious or spiritual prejudice till I was much older. There was never any question of there not being a greater reality, it simply was. So was the journey; that meant growing up in the understanding that you hold responsibility for every thought, word and action… not in fear of some celestial tally-keeper; you your Self hold the scales…and when you look through the eyes of the soul, there is nowhere to hide; it between your soul and the One.

In outward respects life was perfectly normal, with me getting into as many scrapes, as much mischief and making at least as many mistakes as any other youngster. Little change there, then, except the age…There was nothing, as far as I knew, any different; my family was the same as any other, it was only in much later years I saw how incredibly lucky I had been to have that particular education; educing rather than dictating, letting me stub my toes and learn through experience how I could grow and what I could believe. Nothing was imposed, or dismissed with contempt or disbelief; ideas were greeted with an open mind and the acceptance of possibility. I was given a rich education in mythology, folklore and symbolism… and that too I simply accepted at the time as ‘normal’.

rosexI delved into ‘low magic’ … divination, numerology and such through my teens… in fact all the fragmentary systems you could ‘do’ rather than ‘be’, with the overconfident abandon and incomprehension of youth, while reading all I could find on the Tree of Life, the Qabalah and the magical path. Even now I marvel at the quality of the material available in my family at a time when such books were very hard to find. Then I went back to the Mystical Qabalah and read it again. This time, the dots began to join up. I put aside the ‘doing’, stopped playing with spirituality and started to learn.

For the next ten years I studied alone, trying to apply the learning to my life. I learned as much from meditation and dreams as from waking. I moved to France, married a musician who had been raised a Catholic and was a member of AMORC, a Rosicrucian order; over the years I added some of their perspective to the store. My mother-in-law was a Martinist and from her I learned about esoteric Christianity. There was the intellectual accumulation of knowledge and a philosophical intent to put it all into practice, but knowing how, finding the keys to that would only come with time and living.

In my late twenties, I had what I can only describe here as a life-changing experience that brought the reality of the inner world to vivid life for me. About that time too I had planned on joining an esoteric school, feeling the need for structure and discipline as well as spiritual companionship, but was clearly shown I should wait, learning to live in the world first. A chapter in one of Dion Fortune’s books, Training and Work of an Initiate, speaks of serving the Hearthfire; I read it, wept, and resolved to wait.

autumn 030We had moved back to England and, although the outer life revolved around the family, the inner life had become very intense too. It was a period of deep commitment, for want of a better phrase and the two separate halves of my life seemed to meld until I realised there was no separation. There never had been, but I had been too blind to see.

It was some fifteen years later when my sons were grown, that I decided once again to apply to a school. Browsing the internet I read an address by the Director of Studies of the Servants of the Light, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. The article was called, “To Serve the Light” and in an echo of that day fifteen years earlier, I sat with tears streaming but this time felt I had come home. I commend that lecture to any seeker, no matter what Path you follow.

My years with the Servants of the Light were both a personal joy and a steep learning curve. Much of the theory I had already found in my own studies and meditations but the discipline, structure and camaraderie were as new as the perspectives and techniques that bring the teachings to life. I felt the connection to others within the school, and to that greater family of those who serve the Light. I knew without a doubt I was in the right place.

Many threads fan out from that time. It was at a SOL gathering I first met Steve Tanham, albeit briefly. At that same gathering several things happened that would change the expected course of my life and I met a woman who became both a sister of the soul and a teacher who has walked with me on a path she herself had taken long ago.

SE NewBanner

In 2012 it became plain that my place was with the new school, the Silent Eye… and the rest, as they say, is history. But, of course, the journey continues.

’Are we there yet?’

… Well, no. I don’t think we ever are. The longer you walk the path of the seeker, the more you see there is to unfold, until one day you realise that ‘there’ was already ‘here’… waiting for you to open your eyes and heart. And then off you go again exploring another curve of the spiral of life, armed with perhaps a little more knowledge, a little more understanding… just enough to highlight the wider horizon that is waiting to be Known.

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Spirit y’all? – Stuart’s journey

The second of our accounts of the journey so far….

Spirit y’all?

by Stuart France

‘Our own journey is entirely imaginary: that is its strength’ – Louis Ferdinand Celine

Glaston weekend 283I grew up in a religiously tolerant family which knew a thing or two about love and faith. Nan left the Catholic Church to marry Gramps and their eldest son, Uncle Geoff, my mum’s little brother eventually rejoined the Catholic Church in order to marry Aunty Cath which meant that when we went to spend holidays with Little Geoff and Janet and Mandy we went to their Church with them which was Catholic and when Little Geoff, Janet and Mandy came to spend the holidays with us they came to our church which was Church of England. It didn’t seem odd to do this and it came as something of a shock to realise that in olden times people had lost their lives for less.

featherd
Anyhow, I eventually grew suspicious of a Church which required me to stand and proclaim my belief in something that is seemingly physically impossible and so I ceased frequenting on Sun Day’s although I still liked to rock up around Christmas time to sing Carols and even at the height of my teens I could be found attending Midnight Mass of a Christmas Eve.

My Religious Knowledge teacher at senior school was a good sort, Mr Whalley by name. He taught that all religious systems essentially referred to the same ‘thing’ which he called Spirit and he stressed the personal nature of the contact which could be enjoyed with this thing. I liked the stories too, and not just the Christian ones. I liked all the stories because it felt like they were trying to tell me something if I would only listen… It wasn’t though an immediately obvious thing and it wasn’t historical either because it went beyond history although I liked historical stories too. I would have liked to study Religious Knowledge at ‘O’ Level but the selections were not set up right so I couldn’t.

I suppose really I came to spirituality through literature and philosophy which I studied to degree level. One shouldn’t really be putting pen to paper unless one has something communal and good to impart and philosophy, properly, is the ‘Love of Wisdom’.

The Spirit is infinitely wise…

fox practise, hordron 001 (57)Knowing that though is a lot easier than living it… so really my spiritual education was only just beginning when I joined and studied with a series of Spiritual Schools, first OBOD, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids which teaches love for the Spirit of Nature, then AMORC, The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, which teaches love for the Spirit of Mysticism, and finally, SOL, Servants of the Light which teaches love for the Spirit of Magic.

Can anyone conceive a well lived life without a love and reverence for the spirit of nature, and the inherent magic, and mystery of existence in some form or another?

I know I can’t.

I don’t think it is necessary to belong to a Spiritual School in order to be spiritual, quite the contrary because life itself can be regarded as a school of the Spirit which of course it is, but joining a Spiritual School can certainly help because what these schools really teach is a series of techniques which enable us to access our natural abilities in order to attune with the spiritual dimension of the world around us in a meaningful and productive way.

glaston 3 062Our School, the Silent Eye, in that respect is no different from any of the others, we just have a different set of techniques and, perhaps, a slightly more modern approach.

‘The easiest way to approach spirituality is through stories, they are common to every tradition on earth and rather than demand belief all they ask is a willing suspension of disbelief…’
– The Initiate

Xmas St Faiths 001_pp
…Y’all come back now… you hear?

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Dear Don VI

breedon (46)Dear Don,

Just a quick note.

The final proof copy is in your inbox… Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing looks good to go unless you can spot anything I’ve missed. We should be able to press the button when I’m with you at the end of the week!

As previously discussed we will, unfortunately, be obliged to visit some hostelry that has wi-fi, of course, which is a terrible hardship, I know. We may even be obliged to celebrate the release of our latest book with the odd glass or two of something suitable. I suppose it ought to be mead or the like, though I’m sure they must have had Stowford’s in the 7th century….

DD front coverThere was a synchronous article in my own inbox tonight, funnily enough about a pair of stone crosses from that period commemorating exactly the events we have been writing of… which I thought, even for us, was quite a turn up for the books, so to speak. We may have to drop down into Cheshire at some point and have a look. It does seem a bit too coincidental to ignore somehow.

high_bradfield_church

Right, I’m away to bed, frankly, the noxious gas rising from the dog curled at my feet is just too much to bear… Anu has been eating more than tennis balls, I think.

Love,

Wen and the Black Beast x

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