I live my life in growing rings
which move out over the things around me.
Perhaps I’ll never complete the last,
but that’s what I mean to try.
I’m circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I’ve been circling thousands years;
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm
or a great song. – Rilke
The Dancing Of Dreams:
I have been having Fall dreams, of course it being Fall and all. Deep dreams, down ancient pathways of the ol’ soul. I am in process, like we all are. These processes may not be measurable, but they certainly are there. Oft times I feel upon waking that I have been in a deep, deep dialog with beings far wiser than I can hope to be. Sometimes on waking I imagine that my life is easily illustrated by Plato’s Cave Analogy. 80) Surely, I could do better, but is it our nature to constantly discover what one has held as a constant or a truth to be flowing, and ultimately unknowable? Perhaps not.
Take as an example: Love, is a constant, or can be. By its nature it should expand, and not contract. This of course has been through my experiences of that state. Does everyone experience this? Do I read it correctly, or is this a projection? Does it help me maneuver through the daily to perceive it so?
Where are we going, and what are we to do with the time that the Fates have allotted us? Do we sit in the Cave looking at the shadows playing on the wall?
The Fall dreams all dance around these thoughts… What can I do to help others, does the Bodhisattva reincarnate in one form or many simultaneously, are we individuals, truly alone or individuations, perfect expressions of a greater whole? Are my dreams moving with your dreams, are we going together, and yet alone?
An inquiring mind wants to know.
On The Menu:
Steve Wilson – Harmony Korine
Oscar Wilde Quotes
The Poetry Of Robert Graves
Steve Wilson – Insurgentes
Art: Warwick Goble
Warwick Goble: (1862 1943) was a Victorian illustrator of children’s books. He was educated and trained at the City of London School and the Westminster School of Art. He specialized in fairy tales, and exotic scenes from Japan, India, and Arabia. He illustrated H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds – among his first published illustrations, soon to be followed by a suite for The Book of Baal. He also provided illustrations for magazines, including Pearson’s Magazine, illustrating a number of early science-fiction stories, including several by Frederick Merrick White.
Steve Wilson – Harmony Korine
Oscar Wilde Quotes:
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”
“At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.”
“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
“Genius is born–not paid.”
“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”
New campaigns seek posthumous pardons for victims of the witch mania
By Bob Rickard
A question in The Times a couple of years ago ran: Was anyone ever executed for witchcraft posthumously pardoned?. Although the witch persecutions at Salem, Massachusetts, between 1692 and 1693 are widely held as an example of the injustice done to innocent persons by a panicked community, the fact that a great many of those wrongfully accused of witchcraft including all those executed and excommunicated have since been exonerated ought to be better known. In 1706, Ann Putnam, one of the prime accusers, publicly begged for forgiveness. In 1711, a bill was passed by the state General Court reversing the attainders (declarations of the loss of rights and property of those sentenced to death) of 22 of those executed. In the centuries that followed, relatives and social reformers campaigned for the exoneration of the remainder with varying success until, as recently as October 2001, the Governor of Massachusetts formally declared them all innocent (FT149:22; 155:14).
Responding to The Timess question, Joyce Froome of the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle pointed out that in 1938, Eunice Cole, wrongfully imprisoned in 1656 for 14 years, was pardoned by the New Hampshire town of Hampton; and Grace Sherwood, of Pungo, Virginia, who was imprisoned for seven years after surviving a river ducking in 1706, was pardoned by the Virginia Governor in 2006, the 300th anniversary of her conviction. In 2004, in Scotlands East Lothian, added Ms Froome, the current incumbent of the hereditary baronial court of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun (Dr Gordon Prestoungrange) exercised his legal authority to pardon the 81 witches and their cats executed in the area between 1590 and 1679. Shortly afterwards, in 2004, baronial courts were stripped of their remaining powers.
In January 2008, a group called Full Moon Investigations petitioned the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood for a posthumous pardon for the (estimated) 4,000 men, women and children prosecuted, tortured and usually executed for witchcraft in Scotland since 1661. The last witch burned at the stake there was Janet Horne, in Sutherland, in 1722. Full Moon founder Andrea Byrne said a retrospective pardon was relevant today as many occupations such as herbalists, acupuncturists, midwives, reiki teachers and health food sellers would have been classed as witches in those days.
Included in the Full Moon list was a pardon for Helen Duncan, who in 1944 was convicted at the Old Bailey under the 1735 Witchcraft Act. Apparently, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to pardon Mrs Duncan as she was convicted in an English court, but the plan is to urge MSPs to lobby the Home Secretary for a full pardon. The wartime government took an interest in her séances when it was claimed that the spirit of a dead seaman from HMS Barham spoke through her to his mother, who did not know he was dead. At the time (1943), the sinking of the Barham with its loss of around 800 lives had been kept secret (on the pretext that it would undermine public morale) and the British intelligence services were eager to plug the leak. Mrs Duncan was found guilty of fraud under the Act and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. She died in 1956; the Act itself was replaced in 1951 by the Fraudulent Mediums Act (Full story in FT116:40).
Despite rallying Scottish MPs and Salem scholars to their cause, the campaign has provoked a frosty response from senior legal figures. Lord Montcreiff of Kinross didnt mince his words in calling for the appeal to be rejected. He denied that she had been branded a witch by the court, saying she was tried for earning money through fraudulent means. He said the evidence showed Mrs Duncan had made the equivalent of todays £3,000 in less than a week from bereaved relatives, proof that she preyed on the vulnerable. His outrage went further: If the parliament accepts this petition, they must also accept that Helen Duncan was genuinely able to communicate with the spirit world. That would be a great step back. Her defenders are resolute in their belief that she was silenced because she had revealed sensitive war secrets.
Similarly, the historian Prof. Martyn Bennett, in a letter to the Independent, objects to a blanket pardon because many of the accused were indeed practising frauds of various kinds. Agnes Sampson, for example, (one of the North Berwick witches executed in 1591), was actually involved in murder, attempted murder and perhaps attempted regicide. This latter being a reference to the sudden storm the accused were said to have summoned to sink a ship carrying James VI (later also James I of England) in 1590. As Sampson and her fellows confessed under torture, we wonder how the professor can be so certain of the reliability of the evidence and how that proves it fraudulent.
Meanwhile, the long movement to exonerate Anna Goeldi thought to have been the last witch to be executed in Europe achieved some success in June 2008, when the regional government of Glarus in Switzerland determined that she had been the victim of judicial murder in 1782. Working as a maid, she had an affair with her employer who then, it seems, enlisted powerful friends to get rid of her when she threatened to expose him as an adulterer. Accused of attempting to poison her employer, she was tried by a Protestant Church Council who not only had no jurisdiction but also ignored the fact that there was no mandatory death sentence for non-fatal poisoning. She was condemned after she confessed to witchcraft and publicly beheaded in the town of Mollis. The detailed records of her trial and prolonged torture are publicly available in the local museum. However, this pardon has yet to be fully ratified by the Swiss parliament.
Inspired by the Swiss result, yet another campaign pardonthewitches.com launched into action. Headed by Angels, a costume retailer, and John Callow, author of Witchcraft and Magic in the 16th and 17th Centuries (2001), they want nothing less than a blanket Royal pardon for all those persecuted.
At the time of writing, we were unable to ascertain the progress of these pardon campaigns.
Salem: Times, 2 Mar 2007. E.Lothian: www.miniurls.net/lothianwitchpardon. Helen Duncan & Scottish witches: D.Mail, 14 May 2007; Guardian, Courier & Advertiser, Edinburgh Eve. News, Sun, 7 Jan; Guardian, 13 Jan; BBC News, 28 Feb; D.Telegraph, Independent, 29 Feb; D.Mail, Independent (Letters), 1 Mar; The Australian, D.Telegraph (Letters), Scotsman, D.Express, 3 Mar 2008. Goeldi: Gulf News, 7 Feb; S.Telegraph, 1 July; Independent, 2 Aug; Times, 7 Nov; Bloomberg, 8 Nov 2007; D.Telegraph, 12 June 2008.
The Poetry Of Robert Graves
The White Goddess
All saints revile her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo’s golden mean –
In scorn of which we sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom we desired above all things to know,
Sister of the mirage and echo.
It was a virtue not to stay,
To go our headstrong and heroic way
Seeking her out at the volcano’s head,
Among pack ice, or where the track had faded
Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers:
Whose broad high brow was white as any leper’s,
Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,
With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips.
The sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate with green the Mother,
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But we are gifted, even in November
Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
We forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall.
Never be disenchanted of
That place you sometimes dream yourself into,
Lying at large remove beyond all dream,
Or those you find there, though but seldom
In their company seated –
The untameable, the live, the gentle.
Have you not known them? Whom? They carry
Time looped so river-wise about their house
There’s no way in by history’s road
To name or number them.
In your sleepy eyes I read the journey
Of which disjointedly you tell; which stirs
My loving admiration, that you should travel
Through nightmare to a lost and moated land,
Who are timorous by nature.
Posted a while back on the Poetry Post…
Return of the Goddess
Under your Milky Way
And slow-revolving Bear
Frogs from the alder thicket pray
In terror of your judgment day,
Loud with repentance there.
The log they crowned as king
Grew sodden, lurched and sank;
An owl floats by on silent wing
Dark water bubbles from the spring;
They invoke you from each bank.
At dawn you shall appear,
A gaunt red-legged crane,
You whom they know too well for fear,
Lunging your beak down like a spear
To fetch them home again.
Bitter Thoughts on Receiving a Slice of Cordelia’s Wedding-Cake
Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls
Married impossible men?
Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out,
And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.
Repeat “impossible men”: not merely rustic,
Foul-tempered or depraved
(Dramatic foils chosen to show the world
How well women behave, and always have behaved).
Impossible men: idle, illiterate,
Self-pitying, dirty, sly,
For whose appearance even in City parks
Excuses must be made to casual passers-by.
Has God’s supply of tolerable husbands
Fallen, in fact, so low?
Or do I always over-value woman
At the expense of man?
Steve Wilson – Insurgentes
I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.
I want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am bent and folded, there I am lie.
And I want my meaning
true for you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word I finally understood,
like the pitcher of water I use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all. – Rilke