Fairy Tale of Kings by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, 1909
From now on ~ interspersed with small tales about artwork creation ~ there will be rolling updates about the building of a tiny temple at Rennaldburn.
I've been inspired about the idea of building small, simple but beautiful shelters since I was a teenager. Here's a more expanded version of what I still hope to do someday:
On a part of the earth which expresses many different energies ~ rugged high outcrops, streams running through gentle meadows, woodland hollows leading to open ocean shore ~ my dream is to create a soulful centre of creative, spiritual exploration, an abundant garden of possibility.
I’ll honour the spirit running through the varied energies, staying open to working with different approaches for each. One place may call for a sacred grove in mandalic form, following the principles of permaculture and forest gardening so that fruit and nut trees, flowers and berry bushes entwine with one another, while another may desire a water garden, streams snaking around boulders into pools teeming with life and lotus flowers.
And within each energy of earth, thunder, water, lake, mountain, fire, wood/wind and heaven, I’ll construct a small dwelling place which personifies its surroundings as well as harmonises with them, simple yet beautiful, each a work of art and also functioning “as a device or space where we would not only experience Nature more deeply but also where Nature would speak out, where we might come to better understand the language of Nature.”
(This quote's from sacred land artist Bill Witherspoon’s visionary Art as Technology, available only on this site: on this page; scroll down to 'Bill' for a free PDF download.)
Kahil Gibran perfectly expresses what I yearn to embody in his poem, On Houses:
Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness
ere you build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight,
so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night;
and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream?
and dreaming, leave the city for grove or hill-top?
Would that I could gather your houses into my hand,
and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths
your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards,
and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments...
As I create these ‘bowers in the wilderness’ I’ll begin to live in them, moving from one to the next as the seasons shift. I’ll be doing this using a calendar of the four fixed points of the year of the summer and winter solstices, spring and autumn equinoxes coupled with fire and thunder, lake and heaven ~ and the lunar cross-quarters of the year of Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain coupled with water, mountain, wood/wind and earth.
I've been using this framework for several years to help me to understand, explore and celebrate the world of the I Ching, or Zhouyi as it expresses within cyclical change. As I do, I also journey through the chakras, starting with earth for the body of the earth (not a chakra), thunder for the base chakra, water for the sacral, lake for the solar, mountain for the heart, fire for the throat, wood/wind for the brow and heaven for the crown/heaven itself.
I’m fascinated to take the life-changing paradigm shift of the vision quest and marry it with the idea of living rooted to one particular part of the earth in such a way that I’m seasonally present to different aspects, thus allowing them to be more fully present to me and enabling an expansive creative synthesis of presence to evolve.
I imagine insights continuing to deepen as I spiral into this way of being one with the earth while moving with seasonal changes ~ and I also envisage the time becoming right for others to come and share the experience, taking back an embodied understanding of the wisdom of Nature seen through a multifaceted lens and rooted in time and space.
Back from my envisionings to this moment, though, I realised that I could simply reverse the belief that this was something that would have to wait until circumstances conspired to make it possible...simply beginning by making it possible.
Here, then, is the inauguration of Altair air Abhainn (Gaelic for Alter by the stream). It's on the site of Rennaldburn's hillside fireplace; if you look at the bottom right corner of the video you can just see the final fire burning there as the space is prepared.