Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Ballad of Tam Lin

This old Scottish ballad dates from at least 1549.  There are several versions and 14 variants, but all of them quite similar. " The Ballad of Tam Lin" is my favorite fairy tale, told in verse.  It is impossibly romantic, and the old Scottish words and phrases give it great charm and accentuate the mystical, magical subject of the story.  And I like it that the heroine is a young girl who must rescue her true love, instead of the other way around.  She shows great courage in winning him away from the fairy queen.


Tam Lin
O I forbid you, maidens all,
That wear gold in your hair,
To come or go by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

There's none that goes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad

Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she's away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can go.

When she came to Carterhaugh
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But he was away himself.

She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Saying "Lady, pull thou no more."

"Why pullest thou the rose, Janet,
And why breakest thou the wand?
Or why comest thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?"

"Carterhaugh, it is my own,
My daddy gave it me,
I'll come and go by Carterhaugh,
And ask no leave of thee."

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she is to her father's house,
As fast as she can go.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ball,
And out then came the fair Janet,
The flower among them all.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then came the fair Janet,
As green as any glass.

Out then spake an old grey knight,
Lay over the castle wall,
And says, "Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
But we'll be blamed all."

"Hold your tongue, ye old faced knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my babe on whom I will,
I'll father none on thee."

Out then spake her father dear,
And he spake meek and mild,
"And ever alas, sweet Janet," he says,
"I think thou goest with child."

"If that I go with child, Father,
Myself must bear the blame,
There's never a lord about your hall,
Shall give the child a name."

"If my love were an earthly knight,
Though he's an elfin grey,
I would not give my own true-love
For any lord that ye have."

"The steed that my true love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
With silver he is shod before,
With burning gold behind."

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her brow,
And she's away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can go.

When she came to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But he was away himself.

She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Saying "Lady, pull thou no more."

"Why pullest thou the rose, Janet,
Among the groves so green,
And all to kill the bonny babe
That we got us between?"

"O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin," she says,
"For His sake that died on tree,
If ever ye were in holy chapel,
Or Christendom did see?"

"Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide
And once it fell upon a day
That woe did me betide.

"And once it fell upon a day
A cold day and a snell,
When we were from the hunting come,
That from my horse I fell,
The Queen of Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill to dwell."

"And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
At the end of every seven years,
We pay a tithe to Hell,

I am so fair and firm of flesh,
I'm feared it be myself."
"But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, if ye will,
For well I think ye may."

"Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that would their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they must bide."

"But how shall I thee know, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Among so many uncouth knights,
The like I never saw?"

"O first let pass the black, lady,
And then let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pull ye his rider down."

"For I'll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ride nearest the town;
Because I was an earthly knight
They give me that renown."

"My right hand will be gloved, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cocked up shall my bonnet be,
And combed down shall be my hair,
And there's the tokens I give thee;
No doubt I will be there."

"They'll turn me in your arms, lady,
A lizard and an adder,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your child's father."

"They'll turn me to a bear so grim,
And then a lion bold, 
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child."

"Again they'll turn me in your arms
To a red hot brand of iron,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I'll do you no harm."

"And last they'll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed,
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in with speed."

"And then I'll be your own true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight,
Then cover me with your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight."

Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did go.

At the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

First she let the black pass by,
And then she let the brown,
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pulled the rider down.

So well she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win,
Then covered him with her mantle green,
As happy as a bird in spring.

Out then spake the Queen of Fairies,
Out of a bush of broom,
"She that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately-groom."

Out then spake the Queen of Fairies,
And an angry woman was she,
"Shame betide her ill-fared face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she's taken away the bonniest knight
In all my company."

"But had I known, Tam Lin," she said,
"What now this night I see,
I would have taken out thy two grey eyes,
And put in two of tree."

-- Translated from original version (Child 39-A) by Steffen Mallory, who apologizes for mucking up the rhyme scheme in places for the sake of clarity of meaning

Sunday, February 8, 2015


I'm in mourning.  My favorite hen, Sadie, disappeared recently without a trace.  Not a single feather remained to give me a clue what might have happened.  We've never lost a hen to a hawk and I've not seen a big hawk around our place for years.  The chickens now stay within the fenced garden so that pretty well keeps large predators out.  Why, out of all my 69 hens, was Sadie the one to go?

It may seem silly to be attached to a chicken, but Sadie was special.  I could pick her voice out of the flock immediately.  She was very smart and friendly.  When I check for eggs in the coop, some of the hens puff up and squawk at me or even peck.  Sadie would bob her head, cluck softly and stand up so I could check underneath her.  In the yard I would squat down and hold out a worm and call "Sadieee" and she would come running just as fast as her short little legs would go.  I will sorely miss her.  It's hard not knowing what happened.  She was 4 years old and could have lived a lot longer, but at least I had the pleasure of her company for those years, and the satisfaction of knowing she had a good life here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Eating the Stars

Hidden in vegetables and fruits are many more nutrients other than vitamins and minerals, fats, carbohydrates and proteins.  You may think eating stars is impossible, but the forces of the stars are part of what make up plants.  What do you suppose puts all the fire in hot peppers, mustard, stinging nettles, garlic and onions, radishes?  The fiery planet of Mars, of course!  Every plant has a planetary ruler, every planet has qualities that can be seen in the plants it rules.  The ancients instinctively knew this, and we can reconnect with this wisdom if we have an inquiring and open mind.  Pretty much everyone can agree that the sun and moon have a huge influence on plant growth.  But the other planets in our solar system have many effects as well.  So when we eat our vegetables, we are consuming the life force that streams down to the earth from the stars.  And in case you think this is esoteric nonsense, just bite into a hot pepper!

 Flowers too bring us gifts from the cosmos.  How can anyone not see special forces at work creating a passionflower?   It's planetary ruler is Venus.  As an herb, the leaves are very calming and sedative.  As a flower essence, passionflower also brings calm and peace to our emotions.

Eating is, or should be, a cosmic experience, a conversation with the whole earth and cosmos.  The more naturally a plant is grown, the more of these nourishing, life enriching forces it contains and bestows upon us.  So eat organic, and eat natural, real foods!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stromatolites and Chert

I am taking a break from artwork these days for various reasons and have turned my attention to rocks.  I have become a Rock Hound!  I've always loved rocks and minerals along with plants and animals.  Since plants are mostly slumbering this time of year and the birds are quiet (except for the chickens), it seemed like the right time to explore the mineral world.  I want to experiment with Gem Elixirs, made by soaking various crystals and stones in distilled water in the sunlight, then preserving them with brandy and storing in dark bottles.  These are vibrational remedies, similar to flower essences or homeopathic medicines.  And from my research, they can have pretty profound impacts on our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well being.

One type of rock that excites me is the Stromatolite.  I got the one pictured above from a small local rock shop.  Stromatolites are the fossilized remains of ancient colonies of cyanobacteria which lived in shallow water and used water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to create their food.  They excreted calcium carbonate which formed layer upon layer of stone with bacterial remains sandwiched between them.  Many of these stones are up to 3.5 billion years old!!  Just think of it!  The cyanobacteria were largely responsible for increasing oxygen in the primeval earth's atmosphere through photosynthesis, thus allowing other forms of life to develop.  Bacteria were the only form of life on earth for the first 2 billion years that life existed on earth.  And as a matter of fact, we humans consist of bacterial colonies that outnumber our human cells ten to one.  Such important organisms, yet we mostly don't even think about them.

In a little book I have called "Gem Waters" by Michael Geinger and Joachim Goebel, stromatolites are listed as a healing stone that, when prepared in an elixir or gem water, cleanses the connective tissues and the intestines, improves intestinal flora, encourages metabolism and elimination, dissolves abdominal tensions.  On higher levels, this elixir helps us adapt to change and aids our creative power.  It makes sense to me that these oldest forms of life might contain powerful blueprints, or vibrations that could stimulate our digestive systems.  And the thought of making a remedy with something that is 3.5 billion years old blows my mind.  Talk about getting down to basics - these tiny creatures had digestion down pat. 

 When stromatolites are cut and polished, they make beautiful pieces suitable for jewelry with swirling streaks of brown and black, or sometimes other colors.  There are modern forms of stromatolites still found around the world, but not as numerous as in the far distant past.

So I am preparing to make a stromatolite gem elixir and will pass along what I learn from it.

Pink Ozark Chert

Another stone I'm working with is our common Ozark pink chert.  Chert is pretty much the same as flint, though flint is usually dark.  According to "Gem Elixirs and Vibrational Healing" by Gurudas, flint's prime function as an elixir is tissue regeneration of the entire endocrine system.  As a by-product of this it stimulates tissue regeneration throughout the entire system and aids assimilation of all nutrients.  I figure that pink chert ought to be particularly effective since the color pink relates to regeneration.  It's exciting and liberating to think that powerful medicines can be developed from the stones beneath our feet.  Think what mysteries are contained in the natural world!  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

About Fairies

I got this unfinished picture out today and am determined to get it painted.  It has truly become it's name: The Forgotten Garden.  But the cooler weather has gotten me inspired to paint again.  And while I am pondering what color palette to use, I'm also pondering other things.

What is a fairy?  There are probably as many definitions as there are people, but two different viewpoints come to mind.  One is that fairies are completely benign, tiny beings wearing fluffy pink dresses and waving magic wands over children as they sleep.  The other, an ancient belief dating back many ages, is that fairies are an old race of non-Christian beings possessed of super-human powers, mischievous at best and often downright evil.  They steal children, dry up the cows' milk, lead humans into decadence and vice, and must be placated with bowls of milk left on the stoop.

I think both concepts do the fairies a big disservice.  They have been caught in a darkening world that hovers between hardened materialism and old superstition, and I keep struggling to understand how they, and Mother Nature as a whole, became so misunderstood and separated from both science and religion.  On the religious side, it's maybe because when Christianity arose, the old Pagan wisdom was rejected, giving way to new impulses.  So the pendulum swung from worshiping nature to fearing and shunning it.  It's time for some fresh new perspectives in keeping with the new age.

I do believe there are invisible presences in nature, in fact, I've communicated with many of them while making flower essences over the years, and have learned a tremendous amount.  And I believe that some of these presences are malevolent.  But does that mean we should shun them, or should we try to understand them?  With understanding, fear, confusion and superstition dissipate, and a person feels strengthened to meet evil and adversity.  Granted, it's not easy to communicate with invisible beings, but it is possible, and very rewarding.  This is a topic left for another day!

We humans are the bridge between nature and the cosmos, between earth and spirit.  In us resides the extremely important task of enlivening science and updating religion to include the fresh new insight and growth we are now capable of.

My fairies are a personification of nature: fragile, beautiful or ugly as the case may be, keepers of much wisdom that encompasses the entire cosmos: stars, planets, angels, elements, earth, water, fire, air, and all the living, intelligent beings that bring order to our world.  And may a little of their spirit shine on you.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Heart is not a Pump

 Ralph Marinelli 1; Branko Fuerst 2; Hoyte van der Zee 3; Andrew  McGinn 4;  William Marinelli 5
1. Rudolf Steiner Research Center, Royal Oak, MI
2. Dept. of Anesthesiology,  Albany Medical College, Albany, NY
3. Dept. of Anesthesiology and Physiology, Albany Medical College, NY
4. Cardiovascular Consultants Ltd., Minneapolis, MN.  Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, MN
5. Hennipen County Medical Center and Dept. of Medicine, University of Minnesota, MN
In 1932, Bremer of Harvard filmed the blood in the very early embryo circulating in self-propelled mode in spiralling streams before the heart was functioning. Amazingly, he was so impressed with the spiralling nature of the blood flow pattern that he failed to realize that the phenomena before him had demolished the pressure propulsion principle. Earlier in 1920, Steiner, of the Goetheanum in Switzerland had pointed out in lectures to medical doctors that the heart was not a pump forcing inert blood to move with pressure but that the blood was propelled with its own biological momentum, as can be seen in the embryo, and boosts itself with "induced" momenta from the heart.  He also stated that the pressure does not cause the blood to circulate but is caused by interrupting the circulation. Experimental corroboration of Steiner's concepts in the embryo and adult is herein presented.
The fact that the heart by itself is incapable of sustaining the circulation of the blood was known to physicians of antiquity. They looked for auxiliary forces of blood movement in various types of  `etherisation' and `pneumatisation' or ensoulement of the blood on its passage through the heart and  lungs. With the dawn of modern science and over the past three hundred years,  such concepts became untenable. The mechanistic concept of the heart as a hydraulic pump  prevailed and became firmly established around the middle of the nineteenth century.
The heart, an organ weighing about three hundred grams, is supposed to `pump' some eight thousand liters of blood per day at rest and much more during activity,  without fatigue.  In terms of mechanical work this represents the lifting of approximately 100 pounds one mile high!  In terms of capillary flow,  the heart  is performing an even more prodigious task of `forcing' the blood with a viscosity five times greater than that of water through millions of capillaries with diameters often smaller than the red blood cells themselves! Clearly, such claims go beyond reason and imagination. Due to the complexity of the variables involved, it has been impossible to calculate the true peripheral resistance even of a single organ, let alone of the entire peripheral circulation.  Also, the concept of a centralized pressure source  (the heart) generating excessive pressure at its source, so that sufficient pressure remains at the remote capillaries, is not an elegant one.
Our understanding and therapy of the key areas of cardiovascular pathophysiology, such as septic shock, hypertension and myocardial ischemia are far from complete. The impact of spending billions of dollars on cardiovascular research using an erroneous premise is enormous. In relation to this, the efforts to construct a satisfactory artificial heart have yet to bear fruit. Within the confines of contemporary biological and medical thinking, the propulsive force of the blood remains a mystery. If the heart really does not furnish the blood with the total motive force, where is the source of the auxiliary force and what is its nature?  The answer to those questions will foster a new level of understanding of the phenomena of life in the biological sciences and enable physicians to rediscover the human being which, all too often, many feel they have lost.

Read more here

It's encouraging to see that the chasm between science and philosophy, or science and spirit, or even dare I say science and religion, is growing narrower, thanks to some of the free thinking minds of our day.  Neither dry, dusty books full of "facts",  nor the blind beliefs of good-hearted people who want nothing to do with science or nature because it's somehow not holy, will close the gap between these two streams (which are really one and the same).  A bridge has to be formed, and it seems to me this research on the heart is a wonderful start.

And by the way, the collage seen above is my interpretation of "The Inner Heart", and is now available in my Etsy shop -

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August Flavors

I've done my share of complaining about August.  The heat, the drought, the seed ticks, the weeds, and, when I was a kid, the end of the summer and the start of school again.  Sometimes I wish August could be stricken from the calendar.  But August has its own magic.  There are hazy, soft mornings and deeply still afternoons with only the sound of whirring insects.  The light changes, the sun grows lower, the shadows longer, the nights cooler.  The court of High Summer is bowing to make way for mellower energies. Pods, seeds and grasses are ripening and the air takes on a distinctive August smell - goldenrod, walnut hulls and one hundred other scents mixed together, maybe dying beetles, who knows?

A slight but faintly pleasant melancholy settles over me on those days, because, although summer is dying, Autumn will soon bring its invigorating energy.

And for those dog day afternoons, there is sumac-ade to fortify the body and spirit.  We have two kinds of sumac growing on our property, maybe more, but I've found the winged sumac, with drooping clusters of purplish fruits, and the smooth sumac with upright, fire-engine red cones.  Making sumac tea is as easy as picking the clusters of berries when they're ripe (along about now) soaking them briefly in room temperature water and possibly squeezing a few times if you're in a hurry, straining, and drinking.  It has a very pleasant sour taste with fruity undertones.  The taste comes from a sticky resin on the outside of the seeds, so pick it on a dry day when rain hasn't washed the resin off.  Sumac-ade is very high in vitamin C and antioxidants.  Plus it's nice to lick your fingers after handling it and enjoy the sprightly sour flavor.

In the art world, I have been struggling mightily with a collage that started out with no particular idea in mind (never a good idea!) except to play with shapes and colors.  I began it as an abstract but it wasn't working.  Then it briefly morphed into another seascape, but I wasn't happy with that either.  Finally I saw that it was supposed to be a tree, so I'm trying to make a tree emerge from the hodge-podge chaos.  Maybe I'll succeed - I certainly hope so after putting so much time and materials into it.  It still looks ghastly, but it has potential, so I'll keep working on it.  I want a new collage to enter in a fiber arts show at the end of the month.  I hesitate to show it, but after all, chaos is part of the artistic process!  Maybe the mellowness of August will help me tame this unruly beast.