Para-Olympus – Inspiring a Generation?

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The opening Para-Olympic ceremony carried this quote from Shakespeare’s Tempest: 

A most high miracle! 
Though the seas threaten, they are merciful: 
I have cursed them without cause. 

Now all the blessings 
of a glad father compass thee about! 
Arise and say how thou cam'st here! 

O wonder! 
How many goodly creatures are there here! 
How beauteous mankind is!  O brave new world
that hath such people in't!


My friend Paul dropped in for a chat.  He had Para-Olympic tickets over the weekend – they had seats next to the Flame! – Tom Heatherwick’s torch of time.

After world war II, a German Jew, Ludwig Guttmann arrived in England.  He was “set up” to research paralysed soldiers at Stoke Mandeville hospital.  They’d been shifted to the scrap heap, kept sedated and hidden away, frozen in their beds.  Guttmann worked with these young men, aroused their fighting spirit, and founded the para-Olympic Games – his chutzpah cut through an English fog of stuffed-shirt medicine.   Last week, Margaret Maughan, one of the first Stoke Mandeville medalists, lit the flame in London for the world.

And here is another torch! – Jacobs ladder, showing the Four Worlds. 

Four dovetailing Trees of Life – as in Ezekiel’s vision of the Chariot – demonstrate the fundamental cosmic substance and its apparent division into the four great classifications:  Fire, Air, Water, Earth.

So we reflected on our teacher in the Tree of Life – Halevi – whose same post-war chutzpah laid the foundation for the Worlds of Spirit, Creation, Formation and the Physical World on Jacobs Ladder – in the Toledo tradition.  Halevi’s life long dedication to the School of the Soul  – see The Path of a Kabbalist, published by Kabbalah Society 2009 – cuts through the old British inability to say what we feel – get to the essence.

The word Kabbalah means “receive” and also “the balance”.

And our friend Elisabeth Tomalin – Tom Heatherwick’s grandmother.  She met Jung, studied Kabbalah, and pioneered an art therapy in Germany for the children of the nazis. She died this year age 99 (see the  link in Tom’s Torch of Time, 18 July) :  her prickly, passionate Jewish nature is chutzpah.  That penetration to what needs to be felt, said and expressed – changing everyone’s way of seeing things –  is never “Diplomatic”!


When I took this photo in 2007, she had just moved into Otto Schiff House in Netherhall Gardens.  Meeting Elisabeth was sometimes like talking to the whole century.  She remained obstinately active – up and down the steep hill from Waitrose on her bandy legs, and across Finchley Road, tiny, elegant and imperious:  puzzled to go on living when she was so old.  Her passion was for the life of the soul.  Her longing was for an intellectual connectivity, cosmic and humane, her natural element;  but her aging vitality retreated from it as she waited and longed to die.   Elisabeth, that torment was only temporary.  Through your grandson and his dandelion light, and through your spirit, you are everywhere …

… a sound of one hand clapping!


How does a man or woman with withered legs fold and pack them into a racing chariot? Doesn’t it hurt?  No  – they are floppy appendages, they say there is no feeling.  But every paralysed person surely lives with locked in pains, adrenalin rushes and phantom nerve endings.

The roar in the stadium is mind blowing.  There is a strange deja vue:  the ancient brutality of the Roman Colosseum inverts and uplifts now to a humane solidarity in Stratford.   “It moves the Kundalini centre, the left pillar, root fire into materia – an energy release through solar plexus – the Mother country:  ‘team GB’ – the huge cheer as well for the runner coming in last.   Transcending nationalities of winners and losers, they applaud the courage:  the first and the last.”

Equanimity:  magnanimity – isn’t this  a doorway to enlightenment?  The para Olympic ceremony was called Enlightenment.  Light penetrates the darkness.  When the cauldron was lit, the audience sang “I am what I am”;  some used sign language.  Stephen Hawking said “Look up at the stars;  try to make sense of what you see;  be curious.”

Cyclists, limbless to one side, find ways to self-compensate towards their centre and their balance:  runners without sight hold a string attached to the coach’s hand … the pain of hitting post or sandpit edge – the level of trust that is required.  “You must jump out of your comfort zone to feel fully alive.”   A long-jumper listens for the accoustic signal from the guide – when to take off into the dark!   Blind footballers “hear” the ball which has bells in it.   They all beat frustration, and broke the tape.


Found this column in the paper:

“Ian Dury had polio as a child.  What you never saw on Top of the Pops was that every step Ian took was a struggle, and standing seemed to give him pain.

“I thought about Ian when they sang his song Spasticus Autisticus at the opening ceremony – about what a brilliant man he was, and how even those of us who knew him, never knew the battles that he fought every day.  That song still makes me flinch.  But I know that somewhere, Ian Dury is smiling.

“These Paralympics will not help disabled people who are currently having their benefits slashed.  But they will educate all of us.  And their greatest legacy will be in the hearts of children, able and disabled, who will live their lives in a better, kinder and more inclusive world than we did.

“Perhaps, as Oscar Pistorius suggests, in the future we will look beyond the individual stories.  But it is hard to imagine that there will ever come a time when we are not humbled, moved and inspired by these incredible athletes.

“In the story of Martine Wright, who nearly died in the senseless mass slaughter of 7/7/05, we see a truth that we will always need to cling to.

“From hatred can come hope and love.

“From the pits of blackest despair some people have the raw courage to look up and see the light.

“From a body that is broken can come a spirit that refuses to be crushed.”

Tony Parsons, Daily Mirror 1 September 2012


An early figure, ja 1956

 The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year honours one person’s public service and devotion.  The Olympian Flame this year brings together around it, a global-collective service and devotion.  This in principle prevails.

“People remember you not for what you say or do, but for how you make them feel.”

“The heart when deeply moved, likes a little ceremony.”   What begins to move?  What breaks the barrier?  What inspires a generation?

What relegates sexism, racism, dogmatic religiosity and anti-disability to the dustbin of history?

Their courage moves through a collective cognition;  pulling the threads together through the Dandelion of the Light.  When I was small, I called them “brave golden clocks”.

Our national pain-body eases for a while, through the releasing effort of those athletes.  There is pain at childbirth;  then in the full push with Nature’s force – no pain.   Pain is our everyday portion or condition of life – at ease with it, or in stress and resistance to it.  Everything in nature is assymetric – a push towards growth.   Pain appears to immobilize but in fact accelerates the soul.  Somewhere deep down, we know this.

The mercury-hermetic archetype is a power of expression and of healing.

Hermes vision, 1992

The Para Olympians profoundly, progressively touch my own disabledness.  I am physically strong, but I have all my life, a low pain threshold;  emotional derangement and dysfunction, whenever hit by life, or anxious.   Who can say if the pain of the psyche or of the body is greater?    My pain relief  – the pain of life – was, and is, creative – the pressure of itself to express and be born.


Cockerel & abandoned child ’87

These drawings when I did them, back in 1987, express every emotion in the book as I fell and flew through my barriers.  They may refer to any form of disability, emotional, spiritual or physical – the jagged reality of being this, and the discovery to move and to flow through it;   and they need no other story.

The piano keys are grapes ’87



Right hand metatarsal, ’87.  Try easing an ache by letting it draw and open the picture of itself from within.  It is almost acupunctural.  It is certainly homeopathic.  Some of these “draws” were to help me play the piano.  I  learned the Cesar Franck violin sonata piano part – a technical colossus far beyond my means, and hauntingly beautiful;  but I learned it note by note over about six months, and played it with my friend Fred Barschak at a small concours in Paris.  He knew one of the judges, so we got a silver medal for trying.   But we really did try, and we loved it, and it was an extraordinary adventure.  This happened just before my visit to Vera and John Moore that summer – (see my post “A Woman playing a Piano and a Child of Art” 27 August)







being? … not conventional lookalike, what ever  ’87


Stop!  you’re going too fast  ’87

That is a Buddha wheel


Tree trunk – play the piano again, from the root  ’87


Sphinx 1  ’87


and here is an interesting link …


Continue … :

notes and keyboard touch


Relay:  centaur, athene and child – as in “Tom’s Torch of Time”


Sense of touch, the place of meeting ’87

We may have areas which cannot feel;  but we can find the ones that do, and build the neural pathways from there, back and back into the limbs.


Key ’87

One might be blind or deaf, or simply stretching the antennae or rehabilitating.   I drew SLOWLY, moving the whole arm, receivingly;  so I was physically connected, as I found and followed my natural rhythm.  It is a Yoga.  This principle is invaluable for anyone who is restricted, and seeks expression;  and I am certain it opens the ducts of healing.  The line … I do not know where it may go.  It is open ended and no copycat.  It is true.


In the tree  ’87


A hermetic-alchemical healing:  the warmth, the flame from within the egg


Sphinx 2  ’87 – sun, moon and shadow


Newton’s apple ’87

In Olympus 2012, there were apples all over the stadium, and everyone bit into one, all at once.   80,000 bytes!



Materna mother-country-flame  ja2005: copy from an unknown artist.  Cherish …


remember all those umbrellas and Grail cup curves …?



My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

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