Monday, 19 January 2009

Ok, it was from December, but take it from me it still lingers in certain Geneva gardens. So it was impacted and surly but it was there, crunching under my Mexican boots. I had a tremendous time over in Switzerland and France at the weekend.Gratitude tenfold to hosts par excellance Karen and Jack, Beth, Susan, assorted husbands, lovers and the 85 wild souls that rolled into 'Metaphor as Key to the Imagination' over the weekend. The Geneva Writing Group are a fiesty bunch of linguistic vagabonds. The picture above captures a small group of them only moments before they burst into a collision of lesser spotted Orkney Butterflies flying on tremulous sonnets of indecent inspiration to a Gaelic table of endless feasting. This means they can write, and man, they can eat.

Lover, Trickster and Smoke Signals from Washington.

(apologies to anyone not not familiar with the story of Lady Ragnel, no apologies for poetic type o's-i'm working on it)

So once the Iron Bird spat me out at Bristol and my sweetheart picked me up, i thought i'd get writing before some of the shimmering died down. On the Sunday (over the border in France)one of the things we explored was the dance between Lover and Trickster in the story of Lady Ragnel.To those that know the story-Gawain, 'the flower of the Court', to save Arthur's bacon, marries the many-tusked Hag O'the Woods Lady Ragnel. One of the strongest Lover figures in the stories, Gawain shows a willingness (as well as loyalty) to get bethrothed, in full public, to the dark, fetted, eyeball twitching, deadly nightshade lactating Ragnel. A women full of interesting tricksterish material.

Trickster encourages a second, deeper viewing, or visioning. The Lover and Trickster are friends because without the Lover we re-see nothing (the heart is closed), without Trickster we destroy ‘childish’ but never become child-like. Trickster's spontaniety and irreverence (think of kids at a wedding service) keep a connection to our ‘wild child’; the one in love with horses and dreams. When do most of us refind our fool? When we fall in love! As the stages of love become more complex, as we experience endings and challenge, Trickster holds some long range experience that has to be connected to The Lover-the wonder, Trickster-the experience of previous trails, snares, deaths and disappointment. The Lover can transmute disappointment into longing, into a path of art rather than a cliff face. Invisible doors will open when there seems to be no way forward.

You cannot have wonder without the presence of the Lover-appreciative consciousness. So The Lover in its fullness is not cynical, and is a link back to a child-like quality that can last a lifetime, in fact transform our experience of reality as it does Ragnel. Can we kiss our darkness and refind the Lover-re-see our darkness? Not by hiding the chapel ala the Queen's suggestion (she wanted a private marriage for Gawain and Ragnel), but by openly embracing it. Ragnel needs Gawain as much as he needs her. He gets bones, she gets transformation; something that can only occur with the chivalrous gesture.

By marrying Gawain, there is an union between forest and court-is she not a Lady of the Forest, under enchantment by her stepmother? To get to beauty we submit to the darkness before dawn, consciously, and in full view of the court. If she is a Goddess of the Forest, Gawain is now marrying the land he was given ‘ownership’ of before. Rather than ‘ownership’ he seeks relationship rather than dominion. There is now integration between King, Forest (Gromer and Ragnel) and Lover.

Rolheiser has a great take on re-opening to wonder, and what happens when its absent;

‘Childishness is destroyed but there is no movement towards childlikeness…(as adults) we fall into the greatest of illusions, the illusion of familiarity’… ‘eros gone lame’, in metaphorical terms we now stand before the burning bush with our shoes on. It is not surprising that it is the child, not adults, who like to go barefoot.
Second naivete is not to be identified with simply being na├»ve…it is not a sticking of ones head into the sand…nor is it anti-intellectual and anti-critical. It is post-critical, post sophsticate, post taboo breaking. It is genuinely agnostic, fully open to wonder’

Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern, Hodder and Stoughton, 1994, p.160-61

So tommorow, at that big party in Washington, here's a toast to wonder, hope and all the other emotions we hardly dare speak of. Let all our Gawain's of the Heart walk with the wild deep eyes of Ragnel out into the Wastelands of 2009, looking for the right kind of Trouble.

M x

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