Friday, February 26, 2010


Odin with Hugin and Munin, from

A Celtic representation of the raven from

Image from

Sat in the yard last night just as night was falling, watching with quiet delight all of the bird life making its way home for the evening. Mynah birds were scared out of the flowering gum by magpies; magpies took flight when the ravens arrived. But the tiniest of tiny birds hopped merrily on from branch to branch, unconcerned by the power plays fluttering around her.

Ravens always catch my eye. I believe they are ravens in this part of the world and not crows but I'm not sure. I have seen a couple of them in gorgeous swooping flight these last few dusks and I just have to stop and stare as they glide overhead, wings extended. Ravens and crows have bad reputations for their tendency to feed on carrion. In mythology, they are contradictory figures, associated with death and battle in Celtic mythology but also with life and creation. They are tricksters but also wise - such as Odin's ravens Hugin and Munin. Light and dark, life and death, both sides of the one coin. Just the sort of totem animal for the Dark Wood.

Looking up into the sky last night, how I wanted to be a raven! Wheeling and swooping, the air fluttering through my wings as I moved freely on, the world my oyster. It made me think of Wendy Rule's song "The Wolf Sky":

We lay within the bird
That lay beneath the Wolf Sky
We lay within its wing and
We felt the bird within us...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Great Cosmic Mother

Image from

I am reading The Great Cosmic Mother - Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth by Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mohr and it, along with a couple of other books on similar themes, are really changing the way I look at the world. Mostly this is fantastic but sometimes it can be a little disconcerting when one's compass completely shifts! Nevermind - it's worth it. The extent of the silencing of the female voice in spirituality has shocked me as has the extent to which we by and large accept this silencing. I am still reading this wonderful book so I might comment a bit more extensively soon. Has anyone else read it?

Yesterday I discovered Monica Sjöö's website ( which displays her amazing art as well as looking at her life and ideas. Above is one of her drawings, "Cathedral Event". Sadly Monica died at the comparatively young age of 66. You might be interested to read about her fascinating life in this obituary from the Guardian -

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is this a comedy?

It would be fair to say that I have an unusual sense of humour. Some would say odd. It doesn't have to be odd - I can laugh as much as the next person at "vegetables in a rude and amusing shape" as Blackadder would say, but when it comes to comedy that really attracts my attention it has to be a little bit weird and just a little bit black. That doesn't mean humour that involves cruelty to other people or mockery. No thanks. No, I mean something a little subtle and clever than that. The Mighty Boosh (clip one) is a classic example - surreal and esoteric, the situations that evolve for wanna-be Goth Vince Noir (Noel Fielding), jazz afficianado Howard Moon (Julian Barrett) and their flatmates Naboo (a shaman) and Bollo (Naboo's familiar, a talking gorilla) can best - indeed, only - be described as psychedelic. Nighty Night (clip two) is far more grounded in the every day - some would say in the morbidly mundane. But it is the awful web woven by the horrific Jill (Julia Davis) through the ordinary lives that she disrupts which gives Nighty Night its edge, leaving you unsure whether to laugh or cry. Julia Davis refocusses on the alarmingly black underbelly of suburbia in Human Remains (clip three), along with the brilliant Rob Brydon. People missing life's boat (or a lifeboat?), 'losers', also-rans and the mean-spiritedness sometimes lurking behind neatly matching suburban curtains. I am drawn to these people and repelled simultaneously, having had them as a part of my life and perhaps always skating close to becoming them. And then when it's all too much, too close to the bone, they'll make you laugh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What happens when a Hallmark moment goes horribly wrong

As you may have seen if you've just been to (sorry, I'll stop the cross-promoting soon), I am going to take my chances tomorrow and try to sell some of my cards at a local bookshop. I have been making cards for some months and although I have sold some to relatives and at my mother's workplace, I can't help but feel these (kind as they are) are sympathy gigs and not genuine market appraisals (ahem) of how reasonable (or not) the cards actually are. Added to this that I have been beleagured by depression during this period and so confidence has sort of...well...been non-existent. Thus the thought of stepping into a shop and saying "Hello, would you care to buy these wares which I have crafted with my own fair hands?" has been a bit of a non-option.

But lately I've hit on the idea of creating 'darker' cards. I am all for the soft-and-cuddly (and they sell well, there's no doubt), but cards that are a little bit dark, a little bit gothic perhaps...that might just be something a little different, I'm thinking. A bit of a niche needing to be filled (I hope). So combining my new-found love of photography, I have been snapping merrily away and turning the results into cards. Above are some of the images I've used. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Come As You Are

I always seem to catch up with pop culture fads late. Really late. When everyone else was watching Buffy, I thought 'Pah! I'm not going to watch something just because everyone else is watching it!' How I sneered at people wearing 'Bite Me' t-shirts. Then, about four or five years ago, I started watching season 1 on DVD. Addicted. Bought all seven seasons. Add to that all five seasons of Angel. Buffy tie-in novels (oh dear - ignore that last bit). Same with Nirvana. I never actually disliked them at the time but they never really interested me. Watched an documentary on American Indie rock last week and now I love them. Cannot get the opening chords of "Come As You Are" out of my head. When they were around, I was going through my 'the only music I listen to is British' phase so American bands didn't really get a look in. Didn't really get Grunge either or the Kurt Cobain angst thing. But now - oh yes. That raspy, slightly defeated but still pointed voice, the angry to the point of incoherance lyrics, the darkly brooding bass lines. The world's oldest teenager (ahem) finally gets it. And loves it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Paganism for you at home

I was interested and shocked to read this article:

It brings up a few points in my view. First, that Pagan beliefs should be kept from children and second, that people with mental health issues should not concurrently hold Pagan beliefs. Both points seem to suggest there's something not entirely 'healthy' about Pagan views. I would be very interested to know how many children have been both emotionally and physically damaged by their parents' staunch Christian views. It would out-weigh those parents espousing some of the more problematic aspects of Paganism I'd suggest. And there's no denying there are problematic aspects of Paganism, as there are of all sets of belief - especially one so wide. But it is a very subjective call and not one, I would argue, that should necessarily be made by someone from outside the home. This article also seemed to say - to me at least - that people of Pagan belief do not entirely know their own minds and can be dictated to as a result. A sense that by following an alternate belief, you are somehow opting out, not a part of the mainstream, not pulling your societal weight and so can be told what to do by those who are. And I would suggest that it's saying much the same thing about those with mental illnesses. What do you think?

PS The title today is a play on a tv show which used to be on here in the 70s - "Mass for you at home".

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Light and Dark

If you've just been to the yellow wood ( and come here, you'll know that there is always light and dark, positive and negative, black and white ...and it's all beautiful in its way. Here are a couple of versions of a photo taken on my Sunday afternoon walk today.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Image below from

Photo above from the Wildlife Rehab Daytona site

I love foxes. Most people roll their eyes when I announce this because here in Australia, foxes are regarded as predators. Certainly, I'll admit, I live in an urban area and I have never directly experienced a fox attack. But - and this has occured to me about rabbits too - foxes were an introduced species to Australia. They were brought out here in the 1870s to amuse the gentry by way of fox hunts. Then they had the temerity to breed (the foxes that is, not the gentry)! Now, I'm fairly sure that those first foxes didn't ask to come to Australia. They were brought out here solely for human entertainment. Then, once here, they made their way as best they could, as with all species - including our own. I found it very interesting that in searching Australian sites on the topic, I came up with phrases like "Australia's worst predator!" but at the Wildlife Rehab site at Daytona (Florida) it said, "they are...very shy and rarely bother anyone". I would be interested to know why there is this difference in opinion on foxes, considering the red fox was an introduced species to the US too - I am presuming it is primarily a matter of different habitats, but a number of parts of North America are similar to Australia. Clearly, I am no fox expert. I just love foxes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Raven Chant

Time for a little bit of music from the brilliant Danish Neofolk band, Of the Wand and the Moon. This is my favourite song of theirs, the one which got me interested in them in the first place - "Raven's Chant". I am also a big fan of ravens, but more on that later. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the Garden of Good and Evil

I happened across this extraordinary film - The King - on tv last Saturday night. Throughout it, I was not sure what the film was trying to be. And I don't say that in a critical way - part of its cleverness was to keep the audience guessing, to keep them on shifting sands, to keep them at least partially hoodwinked - because that's exactly where the characters were. Until halfway through, I thought it to be quite a charming story of clandestine love - the thoroughly convincing male lead, Gael Garcia Bernal, was the perfect rebel lover in his cowboy boots and 70s muscle car and his female counterpart, Pell James, was very much in teen-innocence-of-youth-Taylor-Swift mode with her 50s-esque full skirts and wide eyes. Then things took a staggering turn and without spoiling it, it became as dark a film as I could've imagined.

William Hurt, as head of the family, plays a pastor and so The King is heavy on religious symbolism and allusion - the return of the prodigal son is the main theme, but utterly twisted. Judgement, morality - both are brought into unrelentingly sharp and complex focus - and I was astounded to feel something like sympathy for Bernal's character even as the film reached its conclusion. The desire of both Hurt and Bernal's characters to "get right with God" by film's end leaves an enormous question mark in the viewer's mind as to what this has the possibility to mean and to me, again, it brought home the idea of good and evil, and the problems that this duality of thought can lead us to.

PS I should tell you that this trailer does have some scenes in it which are suggestive of both sex and violence.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hello and Welcome to the Dark Wood

The wonderful Australian singer Wendy Rule has said, "the Earth teaches us that darkness and death are necessary aspects of life. There can be no Summer without Winter, nor day without night. As creatures of Earth, we too need these periods of stillness, darkness and solitude. We must remember that the seed needs time below the ground if it is to germinate."
This has been a very important thing for me to realise. For many years I have suffered from depression and anxiety and I have felt - and been told - that the dark must be repressed. Be cheerful. And certainly this is true to an extent. As much as it is a mistake to try to be cheerful and bright all the time, it is equally wrong to paint everything black. Whenever the scale is out of balance, things go awry. And for a very long time, I have regarded myself as a conflicted personality. I am drawn to the fluffiest of the cute yet also the bleakest of the dark. Yet, is this really conflict? Or are they simply two sides of my personality which need to co-exist in order to make me me?
To quote Wendy again: "(We live) in a culture that shuns the dark, that regards the descent into the sacred Underworld as a disease which requires medication not meditation". Andrea Haugen (alias the German singer Nebelhexe) similarly writes in her book The Ancient Fires of Midgard, "Christianity has taught us duality, the narrow idea of good and evil and the struggle between the two. Cutting off one half of a whole creates severe disharmony. Because of this view that things are either good or evil, never in-between, people can no longer think in a balanced way."
And so it is that I now have two blogs - one 'In a yellow wood' and one 'In a dark wood'. Not diametrically opposed but simply different halves of the same whole that is Feronia. Each will explore themes and interests particular to their own half - apart but never disconnected.