Youngblood Blog

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Publishing Headache: Do or Be Done By

Monthy IWSG Corner

Mrs BeDoneByAsYouDid, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith for (1916) The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley

However talented and charismatic your writing is, entering the publishing world at ground level can be daunting. We all need a little extra help to keep our heads down and our fingers on the keyboard. In that respect, this little monthly injection from the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) is a boon. Those who have been following know that our revered leader, Alex J Cavanaugh, celebrated the launch of his second book last week, see blog below.

That’s taking the I-95 to stardom. Many of us toil and trouble over our works for years before reaching that superhighway. Some of us get stuck on Route-66 indefinitely and then launch ourselves into self-pub, if only to see what it actually looks like on the bookshelf!

Within what is almost the last industry to become ‘wired’, Big Five Publishers are notorious for not replying to query letters for months; require representation by an agent before looking at a submission; fail to return MSS unless accompanied by a SAE; don’t like email submissions and generally offer little advice. The learning curve is huge — and mostly self-taught.

It is little wonder, then, that self-publishing has taken off — there are an inordinate number of frustrated authors-turned-publishers out there. And with the advent of Smashwords, CreateSpace and Lulu, everyone can do it.

Plunging into deep waters: Tom hides from trout in Jessie Smith's 1916 illustration of Kingsley's 'Water Babies: a Fairy Story for Land Babies'

But we authors, published, self-published or wannabe-published, are a determined group. And we still — in our darkest days — imagine our name in (virtual) lights, our nom de plume in headlines.

So, some of us –while not letting up on the query circuit– adapt ourselves for entry into yet another world of imaginary stardom: the book contest. Believe me, it is yet another plunge into unknown waters.

I submitted to ABNA again this year, but did not make it through the first hoop — although I am thrilled to say one of my writerly cohorts did!!

Undaunted, I regrouped and headed back to my old stomping grounds (Scotland) and submitted for the newish (eight-year-old) Dundee International Book Prize, a British enterprise co-hosted by the University of Dundee and the City of Discovery. Like ABNA, Dundee takes a month or so to let you know you’ve made it (or not) through the first round. Both accepted online submissions. However, unlike ABNA’s publishing partner, Penguin Books, Cargo — the publisher behind Dundee– announces the winner AND launches the winning book in October. This at least gives the entrant hope.

Judges lined up to scan the winning entries include author Phillip Pullman, agent Jenny Brown and media intellectual Stephen Fry. With the prize also comes an advance of GBP £10,000. It is a major incentive for any new author.

The difference between these two contests, however, is striking.

Tom finds not all young ladies are as dirty as he: Smith illustration of 1916 edition of The Water Babies

All comparisons of geographical size, literary muscle and talent aside, I saw these two arms of the industry reaching out to us authors in remarkably different ways. Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) — author of the Victorian cautionary tale, The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for Land Babies — would have had fun. In his 1863 tale of a lowly sweep (boy apprentice) lowered down chimneys to clean as he went, Kingsley emphasized squalor versus gentrified living, criticized child-labor, was outraged by American slavery. His hero Tom is amazed to see his own reflection in a little lady’s bedroom, immediately plunging himself afterwards into a stream to wash; and spending the rest of the story in the arms of fairies. He is ‘redeemed’ by two Victorian mother-figures: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby, and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid: the former surrounded all water babies in a kindly bubble; the latter brushed all aside with impunity.

Kingsley’s authority figures show remarkable similarities to our two book contests.

Dundee, a rising star in the British book prize league, offered press office interaction, explanation of how to submit, entered into helpful discussion when one platform seemed incompatible with their entry guidelines, and acknowledged receipt: c.f. Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

ABNA, on the other hand, admittedly swamped by 5000 entrants, did not acknowledge receipt of entries, but its webpage was efficient; announcing MS upload as having ‘succeeded’ or try again. The February 23rd first round successes were provided in a pdf list which could be downloaded to see if one’s name was included. No correspondence was entered into. In a cautionary sense, ABNA gave no advice, took no prisoners, offered no ‘Pay-it-Forward’ ethos; c.f. Kingsley’s Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid.

I do not expect consolation or even understanding from the wide world of publishing — matters for publishers have gone from bad to worse in a matter of a few years. They struggle with advances (many give none), book returns, publicity budgets and book signings. It has become a cut-throat business where many have gone down. But in taking the Bedonebyasyoudid approach, slicing off all option for the kindness of others to play a part, they may have been a little hasty –shortsighted, even. [In my opinion there will always be a place in people’s hearts for the feel of a book in one’s hands].

Dundee is Paying-it-Forward. I admire them for that. When I was unable to complete their online entry form — let’s just say it was formatted in a program which my **MacBook** couldn’t read– the Prize office suggested I send in my own text document, completing my required details. How enlightened!

Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby at Kingsley’s Christian redemptive best!

There is no mega-solution or allegory in this cautionary tale; it is totally unrealistic to believe that the publishing industry, especially in the US where readership is the world’s highest, will change overnight and become a kindly motherly soul.

But I’d like to compliment Dundee on its humanness.

It matters not who wins and who loses; but how we treat each other in the process. And ‘paying-it-forward’ is going to become more important to our interaction as we writing-humans journey through this crazy fairy story called life. On that lingering note, I thank our host, Alex, whose pay-it-forward approach has rubbed off quite a bit lately!
©2012 Marian Youngblood

March 7, 2012 Posted by | authors, culture, elemental, fiction, novel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Focusing Calm while the Storm Outside Rages

What to do during a Grand Cross

Phoenix Haboob over July 4th weekend, 2011: Signs of the Times

“During such intense time acceleration, chaos breaks out everywhere, since chaos is always part of new creation. The reorganization of the fractal fields creates exceedingly unexpected new things in our lives.”
Barbara Hand Clow

We in this blog have commented on celestial Grand Crosses and Cosmic Crossroads before now. Last year’s was pretty bad.

But, if seen in the light of current crises, world drama and, combined with the personal pain and grief we have all been through in 2011, it may seem mild by comparison.

Last (2010) June’s Grand Cross was only a taster. One would be forgiven for thinking the world-as-we-know-it has taken a giant tumble since then.

The horror of March 2011 earthquakes brought repercussions within world charitable organizations which turned a disaster into a desire to share human resources. By the following month — April, end of the tax year — world agencies were predicting a calmer year ahead.

Spring equinox brought new hope. In the northern hemisphere the season was seen to have started well. Mother Nature lulled us into believing maybe the signs weren’t all bad. The month of April was, in Britain, the hottest and driest on record. Abundant rain filled the waterways of Spain, Italy, the Rhein, North and South Carolina and the American Midwest. Snow lingered on hills in the US Eastern Seaboard, in the Alps and in the Caucasus. Even North Africa and Afghanistan had respite from drought.

May and June were unbelievably sweet: suitably decked with blossom and birdsong, English fields grew abundant with a brand new (higher dimensional) version of the 2011 Crop Circle.

Summer solstice came and went. Despite a flurry of internet speculation on the imminence of Comet Elenin, and a record number of three successive eclipses, most northern hemisphere activity progressed as normal: English Ascot, horse-racing in Virginia, mountain climbing in the High Sierras, even hotair balloons in New Zealand — to get away from the heat. One astrological chart for solstice week featuring the longest day was likened to music of the spheres — all heavenly bodies were singing, if not in harmony, at least in tune.

… by the time I get to Phoenix she’ll be rising…
And then July arrived. With a jolt.

While America was revelling in its July 4th weekend celebrations, a Sahara-style Haboob — a massive dust storm — went raging into Phoenix… and engulfed this manmade miracle in the desert, the Arizona city with its six million-plus inhabitants. The fuzzy-looking dust-bunny with its huge friendly-looking paws caused electronics breakdown, electrical shorts, water pollution and breathing hazard.

…and there was more to come…

Barbara Clow is an author and respected astrologer, as well as being a devotee and proponent of Carl J. Calleman and his view of 2012 from an accelerated viewpoint. In their opinion, the December 2012 ‘end’-date has already speeded up and Humanity is now facing its nemesis, its ‘Fate’, its comeuppance — depending on your Judaeo-Christian/EarthFirst concept of End Times. Ms Clow and Dr Calleman believe the end of Mayan calculation happens nearly one year early — on October 28th, this year.

Ms Clow is particularly intrigued by the way events playing themselves out on the 2011 stage seem to hark back, almost mystically, to the astro chart for 1776 when America’s founding fathers set it all in motion.

Cherhill Whitehorse peace-pipe crop circle, Calne, Wiltshire July 27th, 2011 in same location as 1999 9-point star

July moved into August, and we were relieved to be distracted by a stream of hyper-dimensional messages in the corn. Crop circles in Wiltshire — and other world sites where they have a tendency to show up just before harvest — delighted a world audience. The croppie following was by now thoroughly split into the camp of believers (anomalous substances, pristine formations, untrampled and beautifully-layered grain) and board-stompers (unbelievers and those who use the phenomenon for their own agenda). While a plethora of inspired and inspiring designs made their presence known to a visual audience worldwide, business and media coverage turned into a circus. This continues in the present with the current series of conflicts — as the Grand Cross builds once more. It seems we are not to be spared an iota of pain until we navigate our way through this tunnel…

‘…the problem is not the good-natured heart of the people, but the outmoded mindset of the controllers…’ BHC

And the abundance brought by August fulfilled the prophecies of July. There was indeed more to come.

Ninth-century saint Swithun, Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester also predicted weather from his niche in Stavanger cathedral!

The culprit is probably the previous month’s full moon (July 15th in Capricorn) and the potent assistance of long-dead but much revered St Swithun (c.AD800-862) — whose day is usually celebrated if the sun shines and reviled if it rains. It rained on St Swithun’s this year in Britain and, according to the Old Wives, we will suffer for that while full forty days play out — until August 30th. It is clearly not St Swithun’s fault. His heyday was the ninth century, when all weather signs were contemplated seriously, astrology consulted before tackling any important project and the advice of one’s ‘inner voice’ listened to before all rush and noise of the outside world.

But in the 21st century, the outside world has rushed in.

With clamor and clash, we are surrounded daily by images, events, and newsmedia words which heighten our stress levels, draw us in sinuous path, yet oftentimes with success, away from our inner guides. That elusive quality that our ancestors revered and listened to — that still small voice within — is harder to hear. She speaks in silent syllables, but we are too distracted sometimes to listen.

Grand Cross realigns

Grand Cross with all the trimmings -- August Full Moon, Saturday 13th, 2011

So it is not surprising to look at the progressed chart for the August 2011 Full Moon [August 13th] that we see a GRAND CROSS in full flight. Grand Crosses have dogged us since midsummer last year, and they won’t leave us alone for the forseeable few months, so we might as well grow accustomed to them. World events have only intensified since the June 1st eclipse and, according to Clow-Calleman, won’t let up until at least his version of the Mayan Calendar (Calleman preview) end-date of October 28th.

‘We have to end the rape of Earth by nuclear power, corrupted entertainment, and the diversion of our resources to warfare. It is obscene for media to showcase starving people in Africa while not critiquing military expenditure.’ BHClow

When such contrasts surface daily in our lives, it is not difficult to see why there are riots in London and the North of England, drought warnings for nearly half (41%) of the landmass of the United States and nuclear power officials tearing their hair in the (ongoing, continuing and continuous) global disaster that is Fukushima.

August full moon (13th, in Aquarius, the far-sighted) nevertheless brings the power necessary to use the energy window wisely; directing us to focus and not to be drawn off-balance by news of earthquakes in Cheyenne, Wyoming (August 11th) and submarine volcanoes in the axial Seamount off the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate (August 12th) on Oregon’s Pacific coast.

Vedic belief would have it otherwise: that all is solved by releasing tension and disbelief into the hands of the gods. Here is a friend’s take on the wisdom of the Subcontinent. True, if humanity can focus daily on manifesting the best, highest and most calm, we might just get through this time of huge stress — together. But it will take considerable wit and presence-of-mind to keep one’s head above the waters.

Calleman, too, has positive thoughts to see us through the next months. He considers a New World will emerge ‘after the end of the tun-based Calendar’, i.e. after October 28th, 2011. He is promoting a worldwide ‘cosmic convergence’ for the autum equinox.

It is at times like these that heroes are made.

The Glorious Twelfth

3D Starfish crop circle at Knoll Down, Beckhampton appeared with a companion, one field distant, on the morning after the Glorious Twelfth

Meanwhile, the heavenly ‘signs’ have kept on coming. The Glorious Twelfth is one of them. A little tongue-in-cheek, perhaps, since few know nowadays the meaning of the expression. What happens on that date now is a gesture only to the glory of past ‘hunter-gatherer’ activity and is but a shadow. Grouse moors used to open to guns — the occasion marked with picnics and wine and a day in the hills — to peck off the carefully-reared grouse population one by one for hoarding in the larder. Like the royal pursuit of the wolf (last wolf in Scotland shot in 1722 at Invercauld by King ‘Geordie’ the Fat — who had to be trundled to the moor in a wheeled litter to do it), and the English fox-hunting game, their days are numbered…the shooters, that is; no doubt a few more days of respite for the grouse.

Central nest in Windmill Hill-2 crop circle, another sign of authenticity
photo Stuart Dike

A perfect comparison with those outmoded practices can be seen in the work of David White & Son’s Wiltshire farms which include the fields of Etchilhampton and Windmill Hill, both highlighted by ET this year for consecutive crop circle embellishment (July 25th and 26th). The Whites farm organically, use no insecticides in the food they grow and the 1000-acre farming enterprise is a haven for lark, corn bunting, yellow wagtail and turtle dove. It is fitting that these Wiltshire nurturers and guardians of the soil should have their grain amplified by the extra nutrition and enhanced (measurable) vibration provided by two further crop circles this year. The Whites are also finalists in the RSPB Nature of Farming Award where votes will be counted until August 31st.

Our Oversoul seems insistent that we recognize those members of the community who nurture the soil, protect the earth. It is relevant that the Aberdeenshire farmer whose land was chosen August 24, 1995 to display the only crop circle in NE Scotland at Culsalmond, did at the time farm organically — still does — and is now one of the first in this corner of Scotland to drive an electric car.

Crop designs at Etchilhampton (left) & Windmill Hill appeared on consecutive mornings, July 25 & 26, on arable land farmed organically by the Whites who are donating all visitor moneys to Swindon Fluency Trust

Along similar lines, the female nurturer in Barbara Clow gives this advice:

The only thing that matters is how you live your life. Who do you love now? Are you faithful and devoted to each person you are connected to? Are you ready, at a moment’s notice, to go right to those who need assistance from you? Do you trust the grand plan that is unfolding, no matter what will happen in your personal life?

While cutting through a lot of male-dominant bluster featuring wars, weaponry-build-up, space race and political manoeuvering, she does not dismiss these ‘shocking weaknesses’ in aspects of society which have been under the control of ‘outmoded industrial and political systems’. She believes that some may be unable to dissolve their fears and guilt instilled by 5,000 years of organized religion in a second of ‘new time’. But we have to believe we can. We have at least to try.

These concepts are revealed in her book The Mayan Code: Time Acceleration and Awakening the World Mind where successive compartments of the Universal Underworld (March 9 to October 28), broken down into ‘days’ of human spiritual progress and ‘nights’ of terror, mayhem and planetary destruction, are a few of the surprises yet in store for us.

“Remember, you create your own reality, and the events in the outer world are deeply connected and inspired by what’s in your mind. Please take a look at your Spring Equinox intentions, for example, and assess how you are doing now, and also take note of the things that are popping into your life that you didn’t even plan on.” Astroflash

Ms Clow –selflessly– attributes her erudition to many teachers, including José Argüelles, Terence McKenna, Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung,
Graham Hancock and, not least, her Cherokee grandmother on one side and her Celtic heritage on the other.

“We are living through a great awakening and we are going to go through a lot of stuff. But I am optimistic. We live in a benevolent Universe.”

Others of her calibre and strength believe so, too. McKenna called the Universal Mind an ongoing process.

“To whatever degree any one of us can bring into focus a small piece of the (Universal) picture and contribute it to the building of a new paradigm then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit. That is, after all, what this is all about.”
T. McKenna, 2000.

It takes courage to face the music and not fail at the final reprise. We have great minds before us on the Path, and many fellow seekers focusing inner intent while the storm rages outside. There’s just a wild chance that — together — we’ll make it.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

August 15, 2011 Posted by | astrology, consciousness, crop circles, earth changes, elemental, environment, nature, New Earth | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2011 Year of the Leap: all the ONES: 01:01:11

Ice follies 2010-2011

We just passed solstice: solar ‘standstill’, the point when the Sun appears to come to rest at the center of the galactic plane. It seems to stand on celestial equator, pausing in time, moving neither north nor south.

Two more winter solstices to go and we shall again coincide with Galactic Center on December 21, 2012, when the Great Cycle calendar of the Maya comes to full rest; pause; restart.

This year’s solstitial preparation for the New is a good time for pausing. For all of us:

To contemplate how much we shall change in the coming year — because the Human Race is changing fast and we have changed radically in the past year —

To give thanks for the road that brought us here to this point in space and time and for this moment — before plunging into the maelstrom once more —

To bless all those immediately around us NOW — as well as our loved ones far afield — “absent friends” — and family gone to fresher fields —

A time to remember and a time to look forward —

[Refrain of Auld Lang Syne here optional]

New Beginnings
ღ♥ღ *♥- ҈ -*※ HAPPY DAKINI DAY ღ♥ღ *♥- ҈ -*※
Yesterday (December 30) was also, by good fortune, a pan-Buddhist Dakini Day: the eleventh moon of the eleventh month of the lunar calendar of Metal Tiger Year.

Time to wish the Buddhist prayer to all —

Having reached the ultimate wisdom of the spontaneously accomplished four visions, may we be enlightened in the primordially-pure Youthful Vase Body.

OM MANI PADME HUM

Photobucket

May we dedicate all positive words to the enlightenment of all sentient beings in Six Realms of Cyclic Existence

To attain pure awareness which is displayed in the Skull of the Absolute Expanse, may we invoke the variegated desirable qualities of rainbow rays and may the Orbs of the Six Lights shine.

Return of the Dinosaurs -- or was that Minneapolis?

On December 21st, the Sun entered the third earth sign of the zodiac — Capricorn — at 3:40PM PST 10 days ago: ‘beginning’ winter in the Northern Hemisphere, according to old tradition. Recent earth changes and climatic trends, however, have made winter begin a lot earlier annually for most of us.

Astral Weather Vane, a division of the excellent Humanity Healing voluntary organization, gives this prognostication for solstice 2010 and oncoming year of 2011:

The festivities begin with a Full Moon (activating 30 degrees of Sagittarius and Gemini at 12:15AM PST 21 December).
Adding more significance and potential turbulence to this start of a season is Mercury in Sagittarius square to Jupiter in Pisces (5:00PM PST).

Astral Weather Vane says:
If this sounds familiar, the reason is Mercury and Jupiter already made this square pattern in the heavens on November 25 and they will do so again on January 11, 2011 [close to the time of another lunar eclipse Ed.] This is all due to Mercury’s current retrograde cycle from December 12th to 29th.

Mercury 90-degrees to Jupiter can equate with tensions in communications and disruptions to travel schedules.*

For the solstitial and New Year period, Humanity Healing recommends sending out healing thoughts and prayers to people in need, humanity and the kingdoms of nature. “Uplifting and enlightening our entire home planet is a keynote of every solar-lunar, monthly high-cycle. Individual and group meditations are advised.”

World weather Hogmanay 2010/2011, courtesy weather.org

*I empathize with this announcement, as I was personally involved when Northern Europe was in the grip of an ice storm December 9th (when I attempted to escape the wintry blasts only to be thwarted and held captive in an Amersterdam airport hotel overnight — in order to APPRECIATE the full weight of snow I was escaping). The freeze lasted until well after the solstitial eclipse.

In the coldest December for a century (since records began in 1890) Great Britain made a series of unprecedented individual payments of GBP25 per week to residents for the whole month of December. The ‘cold-weather payment’ was paid by the British Government to needy elderly frozen residents — over five million of them — for four weeks of December 2010 ‘when the temperature averaged 32ºF or below for six successive days and nights’.

Britain remained in the Big Freeze until only a brief brush with the Atlantic Gulf Stream’s northwesterly drift (December 28-29) through Cornwall, Wales and western Scotland allowed the coastline to hold the shores (and airports) open over Hogmanay.

Hogmanay
This last night of the Old Year — in case the strange tradition of the emergence of male Scot inadequately clad in freezing temperatures is an unfamiliar one — is traditional but freezing time for Scots to emerge from hovels/caves/pubs/boozers to booze some more in the freezing streets while singing a jolly Hogmanay blast of song. Once again re-entering the cave/pub/drinking establishment for the rest of the wee hours until January 1st is well and truly ‘welcomed in’.

While a temporary temperature reprieve has set in for a few days — Edinburgh streets are still paved with snow — the storm moved (again uncharacteristically) west. The northerly airflow hit the northern Atlantic waters and Northeastern Seaboard of the USA was next to receive the Nordic blast – storms and temperatures plummetting in high jet stream shivers across the Atlantic and freezing in the northerly states of Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where only a dusting is usual.

Of course Minneapolis/St Paul is having its usual subzero delight of Northern Winter. We’ll temporarily ignore Minneapolis/St Paul. The Pacific NW continues balmy.

Asterisk Saga explanation

Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's ship the 'Terra Nova" waiting for his return from the South Pole January 12, 1911. He never returned.

*I, for one, am more than grateful to be where I am at this very moment. Not only have I braved, Capt Scott-like, Antarctic-clone snowdrifts on my Grampian hillslope in early December; sledge-and-suitcase strapped to manoeuver a farmtrack totally infilled with nine-foot swathes of swirling white: to reach a (patient, angelic) waiting taxi at the farm one mile below in the black whitescape at 4a.m. —
— only to be turned back at the airport — by officious and insensitive airline officials who seemed unaware that Aberdeen was the only airport operational in Scotland at the time — and I was three minutes late for the gate —

— to be re-routed (at great expense) to Minneapolis/St Paul — which was the very last place on the planet I wished to go to — only to be carefully mismanaged by the same officious staff, I take it, to arrive too late in Amsterdam to make a Mineapolis/St Paul connection. Thank you, Snow Angels.

To be cossetted and carefully and gently and kindly assisted by KLM staff (endless compliments here) and rerouted to my correct destination, San Francisco, one day late, but hotel, sustenance and accommodation/internet efficiently and freely given, while making very little drama out of a crisis.

And not — at that time — being aware that Schiphol Amsterdam was the ONLY OTHER airport open in Europe.

Two days and several continents later, I arrive to relative balmy winter of rainy northern California and am grateful to leave Europe and its frozen Angst behind.

Thank you Jupiter square Mercury.

Runup to solstice.

Silence.

Run up to New Year and the January 4th partial lunar eclipse which will serve as a signal that some of the Angst may be over… but don’t hold your breath.

wild snow wolves... or just wild snow...

At solstice the Earth goes through one of its two sacred time shifts in its annual orbit when the Sun appears to stand still on the Celestial Equator.

Time for hibernation: or meditation: or both. To prepare for what’s to come:

The leap into 2011: all the ONES: 01:01:11.

This year of 2011 may be the year we as a species make that quantum leap. Are you ready? I think we’re in for a wild ride.

December 31, 2010 Posted by | astrology, astronomy, calendar customs, earth changes, elemental, energy, festivals, New Earth, seasonal, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Land That Time Forgot

Dreams of the Magus takes you on your own personal quest

One of the exquisite delights of blogging is meeting and having open communication with like minds which the internet and personal ‘pages’ afford. Pete Madstone, author of the revealing personal guidebook to opening doors within – ‘Dreams of the Magus’ – says he was guided to write his Great Work after a lifetime walk through most of the world’s religions. His fascination with global spiritual and magical tradition allowed him to emerge as his own spiritual guide and his focus on non-attachment has kept him on the path – which he tries to walk with simplicity. He and his French wife Cathy are currently building their own home in the countryside of southern France.

Pete and I not only share the addiction of writing and love of the printed word, but we both submitted our books in the James Twyman competition (ongoing) to find the ‘next top spiritual author’. It appeared to us separately and together that the contest had to walk a fine line between maintaining energy levels required to bring a thousand authors into the fold – via a series of ’rounds’ – and the competitive nature of eliminating 99 percent of them. We have both completed round one (voting round), but as of today await confirmation whether or not our books have made it over the first hurdle: enough votes!

I want to thank those kind readers – both Pete’s and mine – who voted for us. Watch this space.

Meantime I invited Madstone to contribute here as a guest author in my occasional series – the Youngblood Guest Blog – and I think you will be as delighted as I am by what you read.

The Land That Time Forgot
‘These caverns are paradise to those who secretly dwell in them’ G. Peter Madstone

Today, I find myself living in the southwest of France in a place I could have never dreamed of. It abounds with life — birds, animals, insects and woodlands. There are more trees than people, and many of the inhabitants of these savage lands live just outside the arena of the physical world that we are so familiar with. In spite of the typical challenges that come with life itself, wherever any of us might live, I would have to say this place is simply “exotic.”

So, let’s begin with Webster’s definition of the word exotic

exotic
1: introduced from another country: not native to the place where found >exotic plants<
2: archaic : foreign, alien
3: strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual
4: of or relating to striptease

Let’s take this step by step –

definition 1. With this, it seems that I am the exotic one here, since I was “introduced” here from America — a member of a not-yet-extinct variety of humanity’s transitional sub-species, the evolutionary inclusionist.

definition 2. Foreign, yes — alien, likely. So this would be me, again. I am foreign and alien to this place (or at least its people), since I come from another with different ways — but from my perspective, this place is what is foreign and alien, so all things can, indeed, be seen in more than one way.

definition 3. Okay — now we’re talking, and not about the “famous” French cuisine (though the food certainly fits with this one, as well). Let me repeat this definition — strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual. If I apply this definition to this place, I would have to say that I couldn’t say it any better — it describes perfectly the environment that surrounds me. Because I cannot say things as simply as Mr. Webster, I will devote much more time and effort to describe this place that is far from south Santa Monica, the place where I cut my teeth on a surfboard. But first…

definition 4. This one is pretty much irrelevant, since the kind of place you might find exotic dancers would be in the nearest city – which for me would be a French city called Bordeaux and, like all French cities, this one is terribly intimidating. On the same note, I will mention that it is not unusual for the French female to tan her chest freely on our summer beaches, just as the males do – and so these beaches could certainly be considered “exotic” in this context, but I don’t live on the beach.

I would now discuss just what is strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual about this place, for this is what I really have to share with you.

It is not that what I will be discussing was never available to me in the variety of other places I have lived; it is just that never have these certain exotic flavors been so apparent to me — so evident, tangible or real. Maybe it is me who has changed, but I would have to surmise that it is my environment that has changed me — this exotic environment.

The Path to Never-Never Land

I live on a half-acre of land, 500 meters (3 “city” blocks) from a medieval village in, as I said, the southwest of France. The road to my house is unpaved and few cars pass by on their way to some scattered homes beyond my own. Splitting off this small road by the gate to my land is an entrance to an old path which is used by the occasional equestrian, hiker or nearby resident of the village on an evening stroll. A couple of winters ago, I was walking this path more than anyone, for I had made a discovery that was reliant upon one condition for this peculiarity, or phenomenon, to be witnessed most easily — I had to be present at a certain place accessed by this path at the time of the “crack between the worlds,” the quarter-hour just before and just after sunset.

So it was out my gate just about every evening, and down this path around 500 meters in the opposite direction from the village into a little tree-lined pasture. On the path were two old oak trees that became a vortex, or portal of sorts for me, for every time I walked past these two trees, everything became silent — there was a definite shift. Far away traffic, birds, insects, and the general buzz of life all stopped here. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was passing into a different time, and a different place — into a land that time forgot.

There, at the far end of this grassy field where three hedgerows join is a small copse closing in an otherwise invisible corner of the field. Directly at the entrance of this little secluded corner is an old water well — a well covered and overgrown by years of non-use and neglect. This is certainly a forgotten place.

The first few times I’d gone to this place, I would feel eyes upon me — many, many eyes from behind and in the trees and branches of overgrowth surrounding me — always blinking off and on, twinkling like bright little stars in a woods bereft of foliage. There was something here, and I certainly felt right at home. It didn’t take me long to begin doing sunset rituals of communion wand-less, and without any of the typical tools, talismans or regalia of the trade. There was certainly a bustle in these hedgerows, and well before the time of the May Queen.

My simple but raw ceremonies became a standard for me, weather permitting.

Upon arriving, I would stop to take in the energy and air of this ancient place, and center myself in the open space defined by the leafless trees. Then I began
walking my circles, and defining my pentagrams, hexagrams and sphere of influence/reality. Salutations would be done, followed by invocations of the cardinal’s overseers. Then, simply stillness and release. It wasn’t a few days before I began sitting at the mouth of the old well after performing my ritual. I wanted just to be with the land and its wild life, curious about the abundance of those shy and reluctant, but always blinking eyes. From the first time I sat at the opening of this well, I could sense the presence of our local Undines working in the watery realms directly below me — however, these were not the ones with the eyes in the woods.

These others, I found quickly, were of the earth realm: beings who never ventured into the light of day unless absolutely necessary (invoked), or simply overwhelmed with curiosity or craftiness — these were the Gnomes, working the same caverns below me that the Undines travelled. These caverns and tunnels are abundant in this region of France, with many of them open to the surface, and all of them are crystalline in some way.

All these caverns are paradise to those who secretly dwell in them.

It's not a hat I wear. It's just my head.

So it was at some point just after the winter solstice that I met this local group of Gnomes — builders they are, if you don’t already know this — and here I was getting ready to build a house. Every evening I was there, they would begin to crowd around me, these little Gnomes. Small they may be, but certainly strong and stout they are, for they are rock workers. Masons they are, Stonemasons, the prototypical Freemasons, and the earth they work is their temple.

So, I decided to ask for one of these earth-dwellers to help me with the building of my house, which had been at a standstill for 2 years. I specifically stated my requirements (I thought) that were as follows —

  • The house needed to be done in 1 year,
  • and I needed funds, materials, support from friends as yet unmade, with the actual physical work,
  • plus support from one of the Gnomes who was considered highly skilled at this work they did so well.
  • Of course, it slipped my mind that these beings were best at rock-work, and other than the rock foundation, the house was to be of wood frame/strawbale construction — but Gnomes are builders, and the best in the world, so why would this matter?

    One of the Gnomes did come for me, knowing it wouldn’t be a full-time job. He would only come around when I was actually working, and besides the other events he was to oversee, he still had his own personal time, and life. He was an A-BAR — this is the title of a Master Rocker, and his name was “Ephrana -yam.” He prefered to be called A-bar, or simply Eff.

    A year passed as agreed, and the rock foundation was done.

    So what of the house? Well, it was far from finished, but at least I did have a floor to build the house upon. Apparently, one year was not enough time for me to build a house, even when partnered with a specialist in rock-work. I still had wood frames to bring up, roofing to do, and everything else up to and past the kitchen sink.

    Of course, A-bar did exactly as he understood — it was I who was somehow vague or a little unfocused/misdirected in my desires. So for my little Gnome friend, a year is what it took to complete his part of the job — a year for the foundation.

    Of course, the funding too did arrive for the project within that time, from an unexpected place, and I could not have continued without that, anyway. So Eff did do his job, as requested, and did it to a Tee.

    So what of this exotic nature of the place that I call home (for now)?

    There is something about it that is so pure, untouched — unqualified even. In the history of man, very little has been done to corrupt, or even direct the energy here, and so it can be a little difficult to work with. It is very still and unmoving and it is used to being still — it is an uncertain energy. It is tentative, having had little experience with outside direction or foreign influence.

    But we can both learn — both me and this energy. Some have said the energy is flat here, but to me, its potential is remarkable, for it has been unused for millennia, maybe since the beginning of time.

    I still have to wonder, though – is this a place that time forgot, or just a place that man forgot?

    ©2010 G. Peter Madstone
    Pete Madstone is author of the spiritual handbook to uncovering one’s own consciousness and inner magic, ‘Dreams of the Magus: where Angels Fear to Tread’. In addition to regular ritual reconnection with his earth paradise, he is publisher at Madstone Mystery Labs.

    May 4, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, crystalline, elemental, energy, nature, ritual, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments