In a castle somewhere…
This mix ends and a new beginning as I slide into a hot bath. Seconds later my partner rushes in saying: Do you hear that? I thought it was the mix but….’. Outside the rooms window overlooking the Dornoch Firth, starlings nestle in the small ivy; 16 inches of sanctuary we call the buildings soft edge. Home for the night, they nestle; ululating before dusk.
It is magic.
I Like Birds; there i’ve said it.
I’m not a twitcher and scarcely knew their name but it’s true to say I have starling in me. As a child, from my nest made by my grandfather out of Cotswold granite; I sat with the windows open beholding Kenfig Pool.
There, as far back into the twilight as I remember, murmerations of starlings gathered to weave and dance above the pool. I didn’t think anything, I simply beheld. Lots and lots of firsthand primary experience hanging out with them made me part starling. I see them in my minds eye every time I care to remember.
What it must be like to have these associations with all the different bird species in the landscape boggles me and inspires me to mentor others to get such experience under their belts from a young age.
Make Shapes not War.
A murmuration of starlings remind me of the illusive, illusory nature of mind. Like thought forms hovering over a backdrop of still water; where do they come from and go too? Like a gestalt; starlings, bob and weave, open and close, flow and flowback, and interweave effortlessly. They create and destroy in a single turn. They make it up as they go along.
As a group mind, they clearly have ways of communicating like we as a human culture can only dream of. In huge groups, they make me think of cultural memes, ways in which forms of thought are replicated and embedded in individuals so that they become normalised societal or cultural expressions. Perhaps it’s not too much metaphor to imagine memes as winged messengers that fuse differing neural networks together to establish a shared sense of meaning; is it?
We come to nice up the area.
In voice starlings like to imitate and play and mimic other birds and sounds in the landscape; there is much of the creative process in the mind of this tiny bird; brought forth for what…. As I listen; I hear the expression of joy, I hear telling each other where things are, the location of food, of predators, I hear the insistent retelling and renewing of stories contextualised to a dynamic & changing landscape where they have to make the best of it to meet needs creatively.
In the cosmology of 8 shields nature connection, the core routine (or regular practice) of listening to the language of the birds is attributed to the north east; that quietened expansive, liminal place before night ends and dawn begins.
The North East direction is a temporal place but also a quality of mind; where the experiencer tunes in and deciphers what may be happening in the landscape according to the signals in shapes, sounds and cadence with which the birds are communicating with each other. It’s aim is to promote capacity for the individual …
“To see the invisible. To inspire a mental state of extra-ordinary attentiveness and the practicing of moving without creating a disturbance.
The ultimate expression is the “Quiet Mind”- an ability to listen with an inner calm that allows us to track subtle energetic processes; to increase our intuition.”
Take a moment to stop and listen, turn away from the screen, open a door or window; walk to a threshold between places if you need to and just for a moment keen; keen with your ears. Can you hear birdsong? Let your gaze defocus a little. Whatever sounds, you don’t have to identify what they are, just allow them inside for a moment; without judgment. This is your world, your locale; right now. Relax into it; the traffic, the bustle, whatever. Sink into the story for a minute; like a piece of music.
Stuff & Nonsense
Late at night around the fire, friends and I are having the craic. Paul and I finish the drop and lead the chorus; too loudly into the night:
“We are the flock of starlings, and not the flock of sheep; the birds of the trees, & the bees of the mead & the apple cider from the apple trees; the world…. is good…. to us (boom boom)!’
I used to have the craic because it felt good, then I thought it hedonistic; now I realise making opportunity for celebration is service to my community. It is one of the things that creates and reinforces reality for people. To come together and be thankful, make a nonsense of the world; dispense with plans, agendas or schedules. We gather, tell our stories of the day; communicate what it is that needs telling, separate wheat from chaff, poison from medicine. Here, as the sun goes down, conversation is about meaning making; not transaction.
So, I give thanks for the presence of these birds in my life. They are to be protected as they are a breathing part of my heritage; they are as much kin to me as the fella I stare at the other side of the embers. At night, we come to nice up the area; not to ruffle feathers.
In Gaelic ‘druid’ translates as ‘starling’.
Can we compare human communities, creative impulses or transferring of healthy localised memes to a murmuration? Were the contextualized, local stories we find in traditional cultures pretty much everywhere; just ways of embedding memes in the landscape?
(Or for a real melon twister: did the local landscape store memes in the peoples stories?)
Did our Celtic ancestors liken themselves or their culture to the starling? In more nature connected days, our subsisting semi-nomadic forbears, the watchers, the crooked-sticked hazelnut gatherers and the sitters around fire revere/even model themselves on the phenomena of starlings?….I like to play so.
Before I move on, I want to acknowledge the grief I’m holding for our artist/bards/edge dwellers as well as our adolescents who mimic and ululate the prevailing culture; as a starling in a murmuration. In my mind tonight, i do not judge as the “mentally ill”, NO! they are the watchers with antennae attuned to the zeitgeist; they are feedback to the tribe about imbalance. These folks we see on the margins of society, impoverished and dissociated, feeding back dissonant basslines of suffering; some souls are annihilated by it, others playing trickster/transformer.
Either/Or … Their anger is justified because their guts wrench with the certainty but not the lasting experience of knowing the earth’s salt is so much better than the industrial complex will allow us to be. It’s not political, it’s ergonomic; and I’ll repeat this again:
regenerative design provides the roadmap for creatives at ground level, in spite of the dominant paradigm; to initiate locally appropriate transformative memes.
You see , we are nature and even if we don’t think it, mean it or see it; creative expression comes through us. We are mirrors of culture and nature; and things are sometimes extremely dark and ugly. Right now, glycophosate products such as Monsanto Roundup, a known cause of human cancer has killed 70% of the starling population in the UK; yet Monsanto will sell it to the farmers last breath. If the ‘bird of the people’ is being killed by memes that say this is OK; can the same be said for our adolescents, our artists; our bards?
Keep it (Ancest)real…
I’m gonna go on record and say healthy human/Celtic culture IS actually more akin to a flock of starlings than a flock of sheep. We may be herded by prevailing forces and systems I grant you, but like many, I’ve glimpsed what the power of creative mind is; more importantly I have had glimpses into what nature embedded culture looks like.
Here, I become much more than I am, more intelligent, more embodied, more true to my gifts; more fluid, fun filled and somehow more dynamic yet peaceful at the same time. There are systems that help keep me upright, from people to anchor my gifts and place in community to space where I can tend to my grief.
These are memes, borne out of traditional nature based societies that are our inheritance to replicate. Without them, I, like most; am magnificent in my despair. Connected embedded culture is infectious , creative and I want to see a future where small tribes of people get to make creative responses to life’s challenges, to thrive in the reemergence of radical localised democracies and once more make our decisions within ecological limits.
In some mythic gestalt, it’s everything like the murmurations I saw as a child. In baby steps I will seek this out, create opportunities for others too. This is the push-back against the prevailing paradigm; a return to common sense.
I can do nothing else; this is my patterning over the water… i believe every person has a different gift to give to the whole and should have the opportunity to sing their song, to imitate others for creative expression; for signposting or for good old fashioned dissent.
That’s why if they were up for the vote in the national bird competition; my money is on the starlings. What better icon than a resilient, multicultural, vibrant dynamic local governance than a murmuration?
Home to roost.
Dusk is about to gather now. Soon , except for the sound of our breath and beating hearts; all will be still and silent. Another new beginning. Until light disappears over the horizon, I embrace the moment and listen to the bassline that has become this place…..