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|Posted on October 13, 2014 at 3:55 AM|
- By Ruth calder Murphy -
It felt so big,
when it was taken
- even temporarily taken -
that it must surely leave a trench
the size of Mariana,
to be filled with oceans of saline,
one tear at a time…
It felt so big
- so much a part of me,
that I would be diminished irreparably
by its absence...
Yet, all unexpectedly,
the trench is being
- daily -
with gratitude for what is left,
for what is in me still to do
- for all I have and am
and for the dawning knowledge
that even when I can’t,
in ways I didn’t realise before.
It felt so big and crashing-loud,
like the slamming of a door
before the bolts are shut,
but I think it was the stamping of my pride,
the recalcitrant part
of my ego-heart,
that shouted out,
held fast to think awhile alone,
while the rest of me
(I realised eventually)
was free to leave
and do, and be…
now I see,
through inconvenience and injury,
the blessings saturating me on every side -
and filling petulant,
with unexpected grace.
Image: Kate on the Rooftop by Ruth Calder Murphy
|Posted on October 13, 2014 at 3:50 AM|
The second of my "Lessons Learned From Injury" is Patience...
- By Ruth Calder Murphy -
Learning to wait
- learning to fill the space
between “then” and “there”
blossom, and bear
previously unimagined fruits;
to turn the injury
to opportunity -
not stare at dashed hope
and mourn for what might have been,
but grow a different seed in the tired ground
and harvest unexpected crops
and richer soil
from doing things differently
for a little while.
Patience, I’ve learned,
is not just sitting still
until the wait is done;
it’s seeing opportunity
Image: "Under the Trees" By Ruth Calder Murphy
|Posted on October 6, 2014 at 4:55 AM|
Lessons learned from injury.
- By Ruth Calder Murphy -
Forced to sit in stillness,
listening to the beating of my heart,
frustration flowing away
on the tide of reality,
I learn the lessons that stillness brings -
equal and opposite
to the freedom of wings
and flight -
the freedom of grounding
of healing and second sight…
Sitting in stillness,
the brownian motion world
a space or two removed,
away from the rigours of the race -
and my breath slowed to sleeping pace -
I learn again the lesson of sitting still
- against the natural inclination of my restless will -
of how to breathe more deeply,
allowing space to stretch and grow,
in the places only visible
from the pause of Calm and Slow…
Image: "Be Still" By Ruth Calder Murphy (2012)
|Posted on October 5, 2014 at 1:20 AM|
Wow! Well, I did say that I was pretty bad at blogging regularly and here's the proof! My first blog post in what? Six months?
Having got that out of the way, here's an actual, bona fide blog post. Champagne, anyone?
Anyone who knows me, or reads a lot of my poetry, knows that I'm a runner. Running is physical, of course, but it's far more than that to me. I run because I struggle with depression and running is by far the best medication I've ever found - better than other forms of exercise, even.
My depression is exacerbated by the lack of sunlight in the dark half of the year. Many of my poems that celebrate the Autumn and Winter are a form of catharsis for me - a way for me to overcome my natural antipathy to them.
The fact is, I DO love Autumn and Winter - I love all seasons. But my health suffers during the darker months and for many years, I just felt despair when I thought of the encroaching darkness.
On the Autumn Equinox, I ran a half marathon. An injury had been building for a while, but I felt I needed to do the race. (Partly for my psychological well being. It's a long story...)
I haven't been able to run since then, as my injury is peroneal tendonitis and will only heal if I rest from running completely, until it's better.
This is terrible timing - and I am NOT a good patient! I want to run... But I know that I need to rest (my body's tired from over-training) and I know that I have lessons to learn in this, too.
I'm learning them... I'll probably write poems about them, too, at some point...
- By Ruth Calder Murphy -
Just in time for the darker days
and the longer nights,
just in time for the Seasons to turn about
and brew in me
a restless longing for a quick way out
- a way to connect with Earth,
run with the breeze,
dance with the tumbling,
gold-edged leaves -
just as unease settles in my belly
and my mind turns to my body
for miracles of movement
to help it through
- to help it do the things it has to do
and be all it needs to be
to carry me safe through Winter’s night,
forward to the waiting arms of Spring -
Just now, as the Equinox opens out its scales
and hangs Everything in the balance
before folding again towards the dark,
my ligaments and tendons,
joints - and all - protest
and call me to a sudden break.
Don’t you know,
my bumbling, ill-timed body,
what’s at stake?
All through Summer, you gave your best
and now, I need you - more than then -
to give your best again...
a deep inhale...
Go; rest and heal.
My mind will have to wait
and that Way Out
will have to enter late.
I want to run,
but first I have to sit -
and learn the lessons
that will come of it.
Image: "Kate On the Rooftop" By Ruth Calder Murphy - illustration for The Everlasting Monday - a novel by Ruth Calder Murphy with Mathew Taylor. The novel is available on Amazon and through www.arciemme.com
|Posted on April 16, 2014 at 11:25 PM|
This is The Easter Project movie, created a couple of years ago now, for Holy Week services at a local church, here in Walthamstow, London... My friend, Matt Perry, suggested in the January of that year that we do "a project". At the beginning of February, we came up with the idea. I wrote the narrative, painted all the original artwork, composed, performed and recorded the soundtrack, recorded the narrative and Matt put it all together into this movie over the space of five or six weeks. It was incredibly good fun, if rather insane!
Now, Matt and I are working - MUCH more sedately! - on the sequel to this: The Ouroboros Project. The Easter Project formed the basis of our 2012 Art Trail exhibition and The Ouroboros Project will form the basis of this year's installation at the beginning of June.
Meanwhile, Happy Easter to those who celebrate, Happy Ostara to those who celebrate that, and Happy Spring to absolutely everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! A time of rebirth, new birth and regeneration.
Please feel free to share this movie and use it in any Holy Week celebrations you might be holding.
Click the link to see the movie:
|Posted on March 15, 2014 at 1:05 AM|
Well, somehow, two weeks slipped by before I managed to catch up with them, so here I am with two weeks' worth of Saturday Summaries!
They've been good, busy weeks - several art commissions, the stall at the International Women's Day event in Walthamstow, a meeting about the E17 Art Trail (which is always an exciting week or two - if you're UK based, take a look!) and Dance of Darkness coming out in both paperback and e-book form.
Of course, it's also Lent, or the run-up to the Spring Equinox and Ostara, or simply the turning towards lighter, longer days depending on what you celebrate - assuming you're in the Northern Hemisphere. So, I've posted a couple of "Lenten Pauses" in this blog. There will be more to come.
|Posted on March 5, 2014 at 7:20 AM|
This Saturday, 8th March, in Walthamstow, London, I'm going to be sharing a stall at an International Women's Day event, organised by Waltham Forest Women's Network. It's a women and children only event, and looks like being a fantastically fun day. There's even a creche provided!
I'll have some of my mini-canvases, small canvases, books and art cards available to buy, at special discount prices. I'll also be taking commissions... And if you just want to drop by and chat, I'll be delighted to meet you.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
|Posted on March 3, 2014 at 11:15 PM|
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a poem and shared it here, as a blog post. A couple of days ago, the same poem was published by The Elephant Journal. I thought I'd share it again here, too, with a few thoughts...
A few hours after I wrote this poem, my mother told me that here in the UK, it's being suggested, by the powers that be, that cancer drugs should be issued not on the basis of need, but on the "economic value" of the patient. Of course, in many countries, including the USA, this policy is already in place, in the form of expensive health insurance packages.
Many people draw themselves up in righteous indignation and say that yes, that's right. People's worth should be measured in this way: If you can't pay your way, you should be left behind...
Me? No. Certainly not. For lots of reasons, but this stands out: People's worth is not dependent on how they measure up economically, physically, intellectually... That person who's never worked because she's emotionally sick, or that person who's worked so hard that he's driven himself to breakdown and will now never work again... The person who's intelligent, bright, witty, but physically incapable of lifting her hand to her mouth... Or the person who struggles so much, intellectually, that he'll never speak in recognisable words... Not one of those people is worth less than I am, or less than top scientists, or less than politicians who make these judgements.
Moreover, economic contribution is not a measure of anything, other than, well, economic contribution. Are we really so materially-minded and so shallow that this is the single most important thing? Are my children, who've taught me more and given me more joy in their short lives than anyone else, except perhaps my own parents, REALLY less worthy, until they start earning or "contributing economically"? Of course not. The mistake we make in our so-called civilised societies, is to think that people's worth can be measured in these simplistic ways.
Perhaps we need to stop measuring altogether and concentrate on connecting, loving, BEING. Perhaps, if we do that, our need for expensive cancer drugs will, over time, become so much reduced that there's no need to make "difficult choices" about who gets them, because the stress and aggressiveness and the ignoring of the health of the planet - and therefore of our own species - that's so prevalent at the moment, will be laid aside, in favour of gentleness and respect and we will all be more healthy - in mind, body and spirit.
Alternatively, continue scrolling...
- By Ruth Calder Murphy -
Don’t measure me with scales and tapes.
I’m not a prize pumpkin that should be reckoned so.
Don’t measure me by height or weight,
discard or accept me, judge me or pity me,
love me or despise me
based on the bodily size of me...
I’d ask you to measure the pleasure my words bring,
or the perspective of my paintings
or the depth of my thought…
but I ought not, for in the dark of night,
when words flee and sight’s irrelevant
and my brain is incapable of anything more than staying afloat
- of staying alive
(And I’m not talking of physical night,
that falls softly and at dawn, slips away,
but the darkness that thunders ‘round my soul,
in plain sight of day...)
Will I be found wanting when all sense and sanity
have gone away?
Put them away,
your plumb lines and your calipers,
your guages and thermometers,
scales and tintometers…
Close your eyes, if you must
- what they see is only dust,
though stardust, true, and beautiful…
Now, in the silence and the dark,
feel the beating of your heart
and Spirit, running through.
These things alone are true and they should be
the only measurement of you, or me.
Image found here:
|Posted on February 28, 2014 at 11:25 PM|
Some weeks I seem to be juggling so much that blogging not only takes a back seat, but it barely gets a place in the boxes I've packed in the boot! This has been one of those weeks... Or perhaps one of those fortnights. I've lost count... Anyway, I've decided that whatever else I do or do not manage, I'll try to blog a weekly "Saturday Summary", filling you in on what I've been up to and what those shiny things, that I'm attempting to juggle, are...
So... Saturday Summary number one comes to you, appropriately enough, on the first day of a new month. White Rabbits everyone! Spring is on her way.
This week, I've been working on the manuscript of Dance of Darkness, which is to be the fourth volume in my series of collected poetry, "The Dance". For those who are not yet familiar with this series, it begins with Ghost Dance, then there's Sun Dance and Dance of Days... And now (or soon, at any rate) Dance of Darkness. Each book contains roughly two hundred new poems. This week, as well as putting the finishing touches to the manuscript (which contains poems written up to and including 28th February 2014) I've been contemplating cover illustrations... And this brings me onto the subject of Darkness...
I had a picture in my head, for the cover of Dance of Darkness. It goes with my poem, "Dancing with Darkness", which is the almost-title poem of the book. It's a shadowy, dark face, shown from the shoulders up, staring into the eyes of the observer, beckoning them to join her. I asked followers of my Facebook page, Paradoxologies, for their opinions. It was startlingly divided. People either loved it and were drawn to it, or found it disturbing and off-putting. Of course, whilst being "true to myself" is of paramount importance in my work, book covers have to appeal to as many people as possible, and if there's an option that will attract more people and repel nobody, that wins over the picture that's adored by a handful but drives others away... So I chose another image. I have little to say, at this point, on the implications of people's reactions to the pictures, but it's made me think about our relationship with darkness, and how certain images suggest certain things, and why those things might be scary...
On a brighter note, I've been painting trees, too. On Saturday 8th March - next Saturday - I'll be sharing a stall at the local International Women's Day event, in Walthamstow, London. I'll be selling my mini-canvases, some small canvases (slightly bigger than minis!) and some of my art cards and books. I'm looking forward to it - and I love my trees, inspired by all the glorious cherry blossom that's around at the moment!
All this, plus registering for the E17 Art Trail, watching my eldest daughter's wonderful assembly about the Romans, teaching my music pupils and writing a new song about the Biblical character, Judge Deborah. (I had SUCH fun with that one!)
And now, I have to go. It's almost 5am and time for me to get ready to go and cook that breakfast again! I'll leave you with some of my tree paintings... And, here's the link to my "Deborah" song again, in case you missed it. Deborah Song
|Posted on February 7, 2014 at 11:55 PM|
Well, this week's gone in a blur! I want to try to post here at least once a week, but ideally more often, and yet, the days whizz past - confirming that I'm getting old - and here I am, a week after my last post, trying to think of what to say... So I'll share with you what my blurry week's been full of.
At the beginning of the week, I was delighted to go into a local school and talk about being a writer. It was a genuine privilege to share, with bright and enthusiastic children, how much I love what I do. Some of them were roughly the age that I was when I first realised that I wanted to be a writer. Some of them wanted to be writers. I think some of them will be.
In other news... Well, do you remember my blog post here, a few posts back? About being part Hobbit? Well, it's the strangest thing. That very day, later on, I got an email from my lovely mother, who's researching our family tree. It said, "We're all part Hobbit!" She hadn't read my blog, either. She'd just discovered that we're very closely descended from the Merryweathers of Lincolnshire. This did not only make my day (lover of synchronicity that I am) it made several days. I'm still chuckling over it and enjoying it, as I type.
What else have I done? I've written some new poems (pop over to Paradoxologies on Facebook to read them) I've worked a bit more, tinkering with this website, I've helped with homework and taught music lessons... What I haven't done much of at all is housework. It's always housework that gets left at the bottom of the list and that, in my book, is as it should be...
Hopefully, this coming week, I'll be a bit more bloggy. For now, I'll wish you a very happy weekend and will go and cook breakfast at the local night shelter for the homeless. It's always fun. Perhaps I'll even blog about it...
|Posted on February 1, 2014 at 4:50 AM|
Imbolc is celebrated on 1st-2nd February, in the Northern hemisphere, and marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It's the celebration of the end of Winter and the beginning of the “Light Half” of the year. Imbolc is a Pagan festival in honour of the Goddess, Brighid, but, as with many Pagan festivals, it was also celebrated by Celtic Christians and later by the Roman church, who called it “Saint Brighid’s Day” or “Candlemas”. All these celebrations - and similar festivals in other traditions at this season - are a joyful acknowledgement of Light, physical and spiritual, coming into the world.
I have suffered with a sunlight deficiency condition since I was a child and our dark British winters, though possessed of a certain beauty, are particularly difficult. Imbolc is, for me, the Stirring time - the Quickening time - when I begin, like the spring flowers, to push my way through the dark and cold and feel the tingling of green leaves and bright blossom again. It’s a time when I start to re-awaken all over again, to life and love and the joy of being.
Here are some of my Imbolc poems, with love.
naked through the world.
Sharp and sparking
dangerous through the
veins and nerves of the
Frosted light and bright and
hard as diamonds –
stung by spring’s quicksilver –
shaken from its deep sepulchral sleep.
Today’s the day,
the birdsong day,
the day of mischievous Mercury
and rushing through all our veins,
the day of the Dance beginning again.
This is the day Ouroboros smiles
and almost spits its tail
to the stars,
the day Janus turns both heads towards me
This is the day when,
even through rain -
warm fronts or cold fronts
no matter -
the Sun begins to shine.
is Quickening time.
The world is a stage
and every day,
a new scene in the play...
Brighid comes out from the room where the Green man sleeps,
steps through the curtain
and takes centre stage.
Her smile is no longer shy-behind-snowflakes,
or sneaking at Solstice,
ghost-like guest at the fireside.
Now, she smiles wide
and takes a bow,
and throwing flowers to the crowd,
the orchestra begins to play.
Winter speaks a last soliloquy,
a final flurry of frost,
and bows out.
and the forests cry out,
“It’s almost time!
Time to thaw,
time to melt,
time to feel the tingling of leaves,
the warm breath of another Summer on the breeze.”
The Green Man stirs
and birds sing...
her belly full of promise,
feeling the Quickening of the season
and the approaching birth
In the still-dark days,
where Frost feels welcome
and snowflakes make love
to the cold ground,
In the silent pause,
the bated breath,
in the steel of Winter pretending death,
a stirring sigh,
naked branches stretch stark fingers
to a steely sky -
for a coming downbeat,
and the overture begins to play.
Brighid steps upon the softening Earth,
Swans fly above the sunrise flame,
and the world is given birth
and full of promise,
life quickening in your belly
and the sting of Spring
mercurial in your veins.
your joy-filled laughter
Welcome the Seasons,
and full of promise,
life quickening in your belly
and the sting of Spring
mercurial in your veins.
your joy-filled laughter
step into the Ouroboros circle,
the place where life and death
smile into each other’s eyes,
is turned to gold.
Flay skin from flesh
and flesh from bone,
throw all into the cauldron
and keep on dancing.
Stars bright above,
the moon another Ouroboros,
Dance the dance of dawn,
of the ancient ever-young,
of the re-born.
Look to the East,
where the new day
pours liquid gold over the horizon
Dance to the rhythm
of the season,
to the song of the stars.
Dance to the dying
the cessation and creation,
Here, in the time between times,
in the dark-light,
in the dance before dawn,
I am re-born
and I rise on the bliss
of Ouroboros’ kiss
to dance again.
Beneath the frost-hard earth a stirring sigh -
a pulse, though faint, beats unashamedly -
and whispers into cloud-wrapped, wintry sky,
and echoes in the pounding of the sea:
“Awake! Awake, for Quickening Time is here
and Mercury runs warm through every vein,
The snow-kissed Earth feels Springtime drawing near
and Imbolc’s Cauldron bubbles once again.”
The belly of the Goddess swells and blooms
and feels, with every dream-drenched, pre-dawn breath,
new life a-stir in Winter’s Catacombs
and Resurrection rides the back of Death.
“The Spring is near!” birds call from leafless bough;
“The Quickening Time is here; the Time is Now.”
Image: "Brighid Smiles" By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)
|Posted on January 29, 2014 at 11:00 PM|
Image: "Dragon's Breath" By Ruth Calder Murphy
Well, I warned you... Here there be dragons!
My eight year old daughter, Keziah, was reading to me yesterday morning before school. She's reading The Hobbit for the second time. I'm delighted; it's one of my old favourites from when I was a child - and I remember reading it aloud to my own mother when I was off school with the chickenpox, also age 8... Happy days...
This time round, she's still quite near the beginning. Bilbo has just had the "Took in him" roused and is determined to go on this adventure. (Whatever it is.) There are going to be times when he wonders how and why he ever plucked up the courage to leave his comfortable Hobbit hole to go off into the unknown with a band of daredevil dwarves, where there might be bandits and goblins... and where there are most certainly dragons, because that's the whole point of the journey. Bilbo's life is about to be changed for ever, in one small step - his; out over his own doorstep, over the horizon of what he thought was possible: the horizon of his own fear.
Keziah - usually nose-in-book, often books with dragons...
Bilbo reminds me of myself. I'm always proud, when I do these slightly daft online "which Tolkien personality are you" type tests, to be told quite assuredly that I'm an elf. Or possibly, sometimes, a wizard. But I know, deep down, that I have quite a healthy inner hobbit who likes nothing better than to stay in my comfort zone, blowing smoke rings and eating multiple breakfasts. The beginning of The Hobbit challenges me to look at my own life and to see where I've allowed the metaphorical dust to settle, where my comfort zones have become more cage than castle and to think, once again, about putting on my back pack, picking up my sturdy walking stick and stepping out: Over the Horizon, beyond fear.
The following introduction and poem are taken from my book, Spirit Song, which is available to buy via my "shop" links, and is available as a Kindle download here:
Over the Horizon
As with so many poems, this one is the reflection of a flash of realisation. Not a realisation that fear holds me back, but the realisation that I can choose to step beyond fear. It’s a simple realisation, really - the old truth that we only live fully when we leave our comfort zones... And yet, it presented itself in this new way: “Everything worth having lies on the other side of fear”. It’s not that there’s no more fear, but that fear is, in many ways, like a horizon - a line that can be crossed.
As with all horizons, when it is crossed, a new one forms.This is a good thing - to keep on travelling, pushing forward. Not to stop because we’ve crossed a line, but to feel the achievement, recover and replenish... Then, aim for the next.
Every so often, the horizon disappears because, in our running for it, we suddenly realise that we’re flying and the world spreads out beneath us, limitless... And that is when we glimpse the potential of life beyond fear. Mostly, though, we run - or walk, or crawl - but the exhilaration is the same when we are able to look back and see how far we’ve come.
Over the Horizon
- By Ruth Calder Murphy -
It calls me -
that pulls at my heart and
ripe and golden in the spaces
from across the line,
over the horizon,
Bold and free,
a new Me,
the bars breaking
that were holding,
and so I fly.
Way up high,
the horizon expands -
no more lines,
no more limits -
and verdant lands,
mountains and valleys,
and golden sands.
Everything that calls my name
is here -
across the line,
over the horizon,
|Posted on January 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM|
It's less than a week until Imbolc here, in the Northern Hemisphere. Quickening Time. Whatever Winter bugs and gloom still linger, this is always a time when I start to turn my thoughts to new beginnings, re-birth and personal growth... Again.
I love Imbolc.
This year, one of my new beginnings involves this website and, specifically, this blog. I'm glad you could join me here, right at the beginning.
Firstly, let me introduce myself. If you've browsed this site already, you'll know that I'm Ruth Calder Murphy, that I'm an artist, a writer and a musician and that I'm mother to three young children and wife to a very patient, lovely husband. You've probably also worked out that "Arciemme" comes from my initials: R.C.M.
As Arciemme, I don't just want my name to be a neat little take on my initials, though; I want it to mean something wonderful. (Of course I do!) So, ‘Arc’ is for rainbows, arches, bridges and portals whilst ‘Emme’ means ‘Entire’ or ‘universal’. Arciemme, then, is a name I can live with – and under – very happily.
Secondly, my website. Hopefully, this will be a happy place and a creative one; a place where people will connect, as well as a place where they can discover my work and get to know me bit better. Please, then, feel free to contact me, leave messages in the guest book, comments on my posts and generally chat. I'll always be happy to hear from you, as long as mutual respect and kindness are observed.
Thirdly, this blog. I hope to use this space to stretch a bit. It’s somewhere to raise questions, explore possibilities, admit to hopes and fears. It’s not meant to be a soap box or a pulpit. It’s about seeking more than it is about finding – asking questions rather than trying to grasp at answers. I might post poetry, wonderings, musings or news. I'm sure I'll sometimes do a bit of everything, all at once.
I’m on a journey and I’m glad of your company on it.
Thank you for joining me here.