from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday, 15 February 2016

notes, and a February prose poem from me

So I notice the number of blog visitors has reduced in this prose-poem month. Even my Russian would-be spammers have gone a bit quiet.

Is it the form I've chosen, or the lack of variety, or – get down, ego, get DOWN! – the absence of my own writing or input?

I have been thinking about the direction of this blog, and the way it lurches through a variety of topics. Is this 'a good thing', or should I be more focused?

I know people seem to like the fact that I'm willing to share personal stuff about life, love, death. You'll have noticed, if you're a 'regular', that I have periods when what I post is introspective psychospiritual examination, often quite personal, but I like to think with broader application to the way we 'do' both our living and our relationships.

Then there are the posts about place and the spirit of place, deep ecology, the idea of reciprocal relationship with the other-than-human, and natural history – birds, tree lore, plants.

Often it's to do with 'the bardic arts' of myth, story and poem.

Frequently I write about a rural lifestyle, and growing things (this incorporates sustainable living with minimal suffering to others; a big concern of mine).

Occasionally, it's political, environmental, or philosophical.

Sometimes it's about pilgrimage, in one way or another – this journey of our life, undertaken as consciously as possible.

A few times a year I write about a course or retreat I'm leading or have just led, or share with you excitement about a new publication of mine.

Then on occasion I write the '100-words-from-here' thing – it's a way of holding the thread, and making sure that I do write something on a day when I otherwise might not (and therefore an example for you writers! – Write anything; write something.)

Recently, in between writing about breaking my arm and my time in Brittany, I seem to have written more 'ragbag' blogposts, where I cover many subjects; usually this is when my creative energy is deeply absorbed into another project. Surprisingly to me, these are often the most popular of my posts.

So, I'd love to know if you can be bothered to tell me: what do YOU like on the blog? What would you like to see more of?

And now for a small prose poem from me; back tomorrow to another of the imaginative contributions that are still coming in.

Like many of my poems and prose poems, this is A Version: a piece that's already in print, as a poem, but that I'm still chewing at. It's a section from a long poem with mythic undertones called 'Entering the Wood', in Bardo, which I think came out in 2011.


February is coppicing, spring-cleaning the wood, remembering line, vaulting, architecture, thinning hazel scrub to let in summer      when it comes

the pattern of our saws, their dissonant harmonies – weak sun on our backs, thin feather of smoke, and the showers of rufous catkins around our feet

the mallet’s knock, its echo

on the road the erratic pulse of traffic

we think of tidying our lives

© Roselle Angwin



  1. Roselle – I must respond though you already know how much we both (yes, J too) enjoy and look forward to your blog. I always find it comforting, exhilarating to hear things, then voice the thoughts and feelings that I can't share with most people I know – the sort of people who say: this is a bit deep for me or a bit too personal, or self-indulgent – and then laugh at me for being too intense. That said, what I like about your blog is its variety. So keep on with the ragbags, please, I like their blending of serious, spiritual (eco and otherwise) with every day delights such as food, wildlife, daily routine and much more. But most of all I welcome your empathy, your concern with things that really matter, the questions you ask of yourself and all of us, the need to ask questions, to live a life examined. As I've said in the past, it's like meeting for coffee with a like-minded friend. And it keeps me writing!
    So really I'm saying there's nothing I'd change about your blog, except that I wish more people would take up your suggestion: 'I'd love you to . . . make it a conversation.' Its happened at times in the past, but maybe it's too much to expect of people. Sometimes, when I feel I've nothing interesting enough to add, or simply can't find the words to phrase it succinctly, I back off regretfully. So maybe it's not you, Roselle, but us readers who need to change things?

    Thanks again for all the inspiration and empathy I've had over the years since I first read your wonderful column in Mslexia. That, this and Iona have changed my life – helped me to keep going on the difficult journey of self-awareness and individuation.

    Miriam xx

  2. Meant to say – I like your prose-poem very much – remember it from Bardo.It's how I like the form to be: not too long, plenty of breathing space, imagery and its immediacy, the opposites: 'erratic pulse of traffic . . . tidying our lives'.

    M again x

  3. Miriam, that nearly made me weep. Thank you so much for such an upbeat, affirmative and generous response; and perhaps especially the last para (may I use that please in testimonials?).

    Yes, I experience this too as a meeting-point of friends and like-mindeds; and I so appreciate how much effort you put into responding. Thank you for your long-term care and support – both of you. It's a lovely thing writing a piece and being fairly sure that a handful of the soul-tribe-dwellers will be reading it - this is a true act of collaboration: together, we co-create this.

    I'd forgotten that your entrée was MsLexia. Thanks for reminding me. That's another project - collecting all the various articles and columns I've written over so many years together between covers.

    And as always with love and thanks to you both

    Roselle xx

  4. Roselle: What I like about your blog is the picture that you paint of a life lived close to the natural world, an ethical life, a life making as small an impact on the rest of the planet as possible, a life, in short that all of us might aspire to. Added to that we have done some of your remarkable courses, both residential and online, have shared your Dartmoor and Iona, have met you and TM. So everything you write speaks deeply to me – even when I disagree with some of what you say! Jeff

  5. Jeff: you don't know who much that means to me; in itself, and also coming from you. A big thanks.

    And of course it's only an ATTEMPT – I mean my lifestyle, whose ideals I know you both share. (Look forward to hearing the latest on your future?)

    Am happy to have disagreement; please don't hold back from posting it. Isn't it through open discussion that we learn?

    As I say frequently to TM: let's assume that everyone has something from their perspective to add to the sum of paths leading up the Sacred Mountain, however we each conceive of that. Each one makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Mountain. (TM replies that that's all too relativistic for his liking. I argue back, then I stop and think, and learn a bit from his perspective. That's not the same as always ADMITTING I do, of course! – though I do, on occasion, admit.)

    So please keep disagreeing!



  6. Jeff, my internet is not letting me edit that comment. Correction: 'how', of course, not 'who'.

  7. I really like your blog. I have been following it by email for about 5 years, and have never found a post boring. Please keep the same wonderful, slightly unfocussed mix. It is perfect.

  8. Hello Rachael - oh how lovely! It's a gift when someone suddenly appears and says 'I know you work'. Thank you. A deep bow to you, as they say in Buddhist circles. Or bright blessings on you, in pagan.

  9. Rachael - rushing, in a slightly unfocused way, and missed off the 'r' at the end of 'you'! And grrr - blogger in its fickleness is going through a patch of not letting me edit comments I've made. Now the lesson is...

  10. I discovered your blog after going to Gardoussel for the first time in July last year and seeing The Bright Moment (which I have bought, but not yet read). I have been following via email since then. I love the combo of spirit and earthiness: after all, they are really the same thing - and don't think you should change a thing. I also write a blog that's 'all over the place'and decided a while ago that I'd rather reflect the whole of me than stick to one angle alone. Much more human, after all. So, thank you for your words, that always speak deeply to me, however 'mundane' the topic.

  11. Julie, that's lovely to read - thank you. Am also delighted you have the book - do dip in; it's not the kind of book you're meant to sit and read right through! - Ah yes, Gardoussel - several of us here are afficionados, and Sharon and Alex as you'll have discovered are keeping the flame alive.

    And that feels very affirming: yes, earth + spirit - what's the difference? And if you too are trying to bring these often-polarised dimensions together, like me, then hooray that there are many of us; together we're quite a tribe.

    So thank you very much; and it's interesting for me to hear your thoughts on your own blogging practice too.

  12. Hello Roselle,

    Really enjoy reading your holistic and authentic communications. Your writing has helped keep an open mind regarding many things in life. Furthermore, I read your creations slowly to enable me to connect at a deep level, a meditation perhaps, its almost as if it assists me be me, if that makes sense. Similar to the great John O Donaghue.

    If I had one wish it would be to include, on occasion, some tips on writing.

    Go raibh mile maith agat,


  13. Alan, that's made my morning and put a smile on my face. Thank you.

    And I'm very touched to hear how you relate to my posts; and as for being compared to the much-missed John O'Donohue – I'm deeply complimented (but have a way to go yet!).

    I wonder if you know David Whyte's work? You probably do, but you might like him if not (Irishman living in the States).

    It was wonderful to have the Gaelic thanks. Thanks! I'd love to know how to pronounce the words? I can have a fair stab at Cornish, Welsh and Breton but only have a slim grasp of Scottish and Irish Gaelic pronunciation.

    It's very useful for me to know that you'd like more writing tips. I'll try and do something about that once prose-poem month is over.

    I'm glad you made the effort to communicate. The Qualia community is growing (I'm using qualia here in its wider sense of consciousness, rather than simply to apply to my blog readers; though that too, I guess).

  14. Hi Roselle, I agree with the mix of posts. I've really started to go off reading poetry, for various reasons, so I'm bypassing the prose poetry poems at the moment.

  15. Alison, thanks for posting. It's useful for me to hear that (though there have been some lovely contributions), and no wonder you feel like bypassing this month if you've gone off poetry!

    Back on track for the usual mix next month.

  16. PS Alison: can't help feeling, given what I know of your interests, though, that you would like some of this writing - viz the latest, no 7...

  17. Beatrice by email: 'Roselle, as you certainly know, I love your blog and am probably one of its most regular readers. I do like its variety and that you tackle ALL those parts of life that are important to you. In particular I admire your search of a way of life that is enthusiastically committing in trying to do as little harm as possible to other sentient species and our planet, a life mindful of others that aims at life at its best, because it is full of respect towards and love for creation. I am happy to say that I like the awareness that you tickle in your readers – or is it just me? And I can say that your blog posts are lasting and sustainable!'

    Roselle to Beatrice: very big thanks for those lovely words. Not sure I can live up to them, but aspiration keeps us going! x


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